The magical oxalis plant

I've come to the conclusion that the oxalis is a little bit magic. A couple of weeks ago I tracked down an Oxalis Triangularis at the very lovely Botany on Chatsworth Road. I've had my eye out for one ever since the other half and I spotted one in a nearby shop where it was not for sale. Also known as the purple shamrock, false shamrock or love plant, this delicate bulb flutters its butterfly leaves open as daylight comes and closes them again in the evening. With three dark purple leaves to each stem and soft pinkish white flowers, it's proving to be a striking addition to our living room. Oxalis triangularis

I've found myself visiting it every day to say hello, and watch as it wakes in the morning and goes to sleep in the evening. Weirdly, I never thought I'd find myself falling in love with an oxalis. Growing up in warmer climes, I would help my grandparents weed in their vast rose garden from a very young age (they lived next door). One of the first weeds I learnt the name of, was undoubtedly the oxalis due to its nature to spread like wide fire because of its ever-multiplying bulbs. I would sift soil to dispose of the tiny bulbs, all to earn a few coins pocket-money. I'm not sure my grandma would be impressed that I now find myself besotted with an oxalis  but I do think she'd be very happy that a) I have very green thumbs and b) it's confined indoors to a terracotta pot. I'm not sure what the variety of oxalis was that I used to weed was, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't as pretty or fluttery as this guy.

I'm not an expert but here are a few care tips I've picked up:

  • Water well then let the top few cms of soil dry right out before watering again
  • They like a well lit spot but not necessarily bright sunlight
  • This variety works well indoors as a house plant
  • It's poisonous to pets but apparently tastes pretty bad so they'd be a fool to taste too much
  • The bulbs will multiply so you can propagate by splitting the clump and repotting
  • If you forget to water it or it's too cold, it'll die right back above ground and put all its energy into the bulbs to survive
  • If you neglect it badly, it will go into dormancy and die right back. But you should be able to bring it back to life pretty quickly, if you give it a good watering.

x C

A quick city guide to stylish Copenhagen

Copenhagen table Copenhagen. Sigh. City of bicycles, sourdough pizzas, ceramics and effortlessly stylish interiors - how much we love you. I spent so much of our trip, gushing on Instagram about how lovely it all was that I've pulled together a quick city guide of our favourite places. STAY We stayed in Vesterbro, the former working class area and notorious red-light district that's pretty much the hippest part of town these days. Now filled with cute cafes, cool bars and high-end design stores, it was the perfect spot for our stay. Only a 15-minute walk from the city's main central train station, it was dead easy to get to and from the airport. Our AirBNB apartment was gorgeous in the way that only the Scandinavians know how. Filled with a combination of chic ceramics, vintage pieces and easy minimalism, I wanted to pack the entire place up and bring it back to London with me. I pretty much want to get rid of everything I own now and start again now in our flat. (Another reason to stay in Vesterbro, is that it's where the Larsen family from The Killing season one lived. If you're as obsessed with the Nordic Noir TV shows as I am, you'll find that interesting. If not, ignore me and GO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY).

EAT & DRINK: Living with a sourdough-mad boyfriend, it was only natural that on our first night we went straight to the highly recommended Mother in the Meat Packing District. Famed for its organic sourdough base pizzas, it did not disappoint. Even though it was a busy Friday night, we got there early enough that we only needed to wait 15 minutes for a table. The pizza? The best I've had in a long time. And if I can have an Aperol Spritz while I'm waiting, I'm always a happy girl. Next on my list was Groed, a tiny restaurant that only sells porridge, dhal and risotto. It was SO good that we visited both their tiny Nørrebro restaurant and their stand in the gourmet food market Torvehallerne. I can't really describe how good the dhal was except to say, it warmed my chilly bones and was probably the best dhal I've ever eaten. On our second visit the dhal had understandably sold out (NOOOOOOOOOO!) so we both went for a mushroom barley risotto (pictured) instead that makes me hungry just thinking about it. I probably should've tried one of the porridges that make up a large portion of the menu, considering porridge is one of my favourite breakfasts. Maybe I'll have to go back and try them out...

Copenhagen city guide 3

I'm not massive beer drinker but the Mikkeller Craft Beer bars came highly recommended and as the boyfriend is a fan of fancy beers, we visited both the Nørrebro and Vesterbro location. Both had an equally relaxed vibe with friendly and helpful staff, and after a day spent trekking all around Copenhagen on foot, it was a delicious beer well-earned. Price wise, most places were about the same as London or ever so slightly more expensive. Not eye wateringly expensive however, like Sweden or Norway.

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SHOP: I found the Red Cross charity shop of my dreams in Copenhagen. Damn Easy Jet and their luggage restrictions. I ended up buying a 1960s set of ceramic cups that had to be packed carefully in my clothes to fit in my suitcase. We're still regretting not buying a 60s oil painting and all that other stuff. I would've bought a sofa, vintage kitchen canisters, glassware, pottery vases...and so on. Sigh. It was three stories of treasures. I didn't write down the exact location but I'm pretty certain it close to the vintage area around Ravnsborgadde. There are loads of vintage shops in Copenhagen and, sadly, we didn't get to any of the flea markets but that's probably a good thing. I imagine it might be difficult to negotiate, if you're not Danish (although everyone speaks perfect English so give it a go). Jægersborggade is a lovely street in Nørrebro, where Groed is located. Friends who'd visited Copenhagen said it was a must visit. We loved the Meyer's Bakery for yummy pastries and rye bread, Coffee Collective for a strong brew and Ladyfingers for delicate jewellery.  My favourite was Maia’s Blomsterhjem, a florist and gift shop where I picked up several lovely glass dishes to pop under houseplants. You can find a full list of the shops on Jægersborggade here.

Copenhagen city guide 3

SEE & DO:

  • Visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It's an easy 30 minute train ride from the Central Copenhagen train station and you can buy tickets that cover both entry and the train fare (you'll need to go to a counter though, the machines rejected our cards). Such a beautiful space and gorgeous location, it's well worth a visit and the best thing we did on our trip (other than eat that dhal). The Giacometti Gallery is an incredible light space overlooking a lake and actually took my breath away. We'd already seen the Richard Mosse exhibition that are on last year at London's Photographer's Gallery so we only quickly looked around that but the Sculpture Garden and views across the sea to Sweden are incredible.
  • Go out for dinner and drinks with your friend who lives a 10-minute walk away from you in London and by happy coincidence is on the same plane as you. You don't even realise this until you see each other's photos on Instagram and you haven't seen each other in yolks (true story).
  • Visit the Little Mermaid. Pretty underwhelming but has to be done really. The nearby park is interesting and worth a (brisk) stroll through. I imagine we would've lingered further if it hadn't been so chilly and raining.
  • The cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen is buried is pretty too, and interesting to walk through on your way to Jægersborggade.
  • Your research before you set off for the day and check what time shops close (early on the weekends). I loved looking around all the design stores but as we discovered many places close early on the weekend so we'd have to go back as they'd already shut for the day. I really liked
  • Walk or cycle everywhere. We could've hired bikes but it was February - cold, raining and sleeting. It was just easier (and drier) to stay under our umbrellas instead. It seemed like a safe place to ride around though as most the bike lanes are separated from the main traffic. Wander past all the wonderful old buildings and historic palaces. We didn't tour any inside because we wanted to do other things but they look pretty wonderful from the outside.
  • Go see the coloured building and boats at historic Nyhavn. Take photos, even if it's raining and you're so cold your fingers feel like they're going to drop off when you take your gloves off.
  • Eat all the rye bread! I've always loved a grainy dark rye topped with (preferably) avocado and tomato. Try Smørrebrød, which are Danish open sandwiches with a variety of delicious toppings. Yum.
  • Buy ceramics. From the gorgeous traditional blue and white Royal Copenhagen fine china to the 60s cups we picked up in the charity shop to amazing design-stores ceramic bowls. It's worth it, trust me.

Copenhagen city guide 4

I could write for days about things to do in Copenhagen, and I feel like we only just scratched the surface. What have a I missed that I can put on my list for next time? x

p.s. See Hannah's guides to Copenhagen for loads more ideas. We found them really useful! And here's a good guide to Vesterbro in the Guardian.

An ode to Columbia Road

A piece of my heart belongs to Columbia Road. Hyacinths at Columbia Road flower market

I’m not sure why I’ve never written a proper post on the East London street made famous by it's old flower market. Sure, I’ve mentioned it in passing but I've never gotten around to a whole post dedicated to what is undoubtedly one of my favourite places in London.  I lived just off Columbia Road for two and a half years and absolutely adored it. A busy, bustling house filled with beautiful and hilarious housemates. Where we always had flowers, the biggest tree we could find at Christmas, and a glass of wine was never far away. Where too many mid-week drinks at the Royal Oak was a frequent occurrence and too much karaoke at the weekend would keep us awake. The 'Columbia Road girls' who appeared on a cooking show (the less said about that the better)...

The Royal Oak Columbia Road

My love affair with Columbia Road started on my first weekend in London. My old friend Emma said to me, "I think you’ll really like it" as we walked down Bethnal Green Road. I couldn’t believe such a glorious place existed. As a girl who grew up with a big rose-filled garden in New Zealand and home was always filled with flowers, it was a dream come true to find a flower market in the East End. I grew up learning all the names of the flowers and plants in the garden with my very green-thumbed grandparents. I even won the Flower Show Cup at primary school. (Yes, we had such a thing. It was the highlight of sports’ day – which I did my best to get out of.) It's fair to say, like my sister, I have inherited the gene for all things green and flowery. I was lucky enough, after a couple of years in different London flats, to find my dream (well, almost) house share just off Columbia Road.

Seasons at Columbia Road

A few happy years later, I now only live a 15-minute walk away and if Sunday is looking quiet, a stroll to Columbia Road is always top of my to-do list. Now we have a little garden I buy as many plants as I can carry back home, usually a bouquet or two and a coffee. The ever-changing seasons are so visible at the markets. Spring = bulbs galore and cherry blossom. Summer brings roses, glorious dahlias and perfect peonies. Autumn = orange blooms for Halloween, and winter brings Christmas trees, bunches of cotton and vibrant red berries.

Columbia Road vintage plates

 

An ode to Columbia Road

I will always love rolling out of bed on a Sunday morning for a coffee, a bunch of flowers and a stroll around the vintage stalls and shops before the heaving crowds descend. The wonderful little shops where I will always find the perfect present. The hilarious long-time stall holders. The cakes at Lily Vanilli. The teacups at Vintage Heaven. The gorgeous mosaics outside the school. If I'm feeling glum, the Mr always knows a trip to Columbia Road will make it better.

Columbia Road School Mosiac

It pays to get there super early to avoid the crowds or, if you'd like a bargain bunch of blooms go about 2pm in winter or 3pm in spring/summer when the stallholders are selling everything they have left cheap. For a look around the shops, get there early, or better yet, go on a Saturday when most of the shops are open and there are no crowds.  The late night evenings in the lead up to Christmas are equally crowd but loads of fun with chestnuts being roasted, carol singers and mulled wine for sale. Perfect for gift shopping. It's so pretty all lit up at night! And if it snows...magical.

Late night at London's Columbia Road

Columbia Road, you hold a very special place in my heart.

Columbia Road Flower Market is on every Sunday, rain or shine, 8am til 3'ish. You can find out more about Columbia Road and how to get there over here.

Photos by Luke and me

Lately I've been...

Spring flowers co-ordinating my outfit with the fallen blossom petals... loving the Welsh Poppies, Nasturtiums and other blooms in my garden. Foxgloves, I love you...

Eating & baking baking spring birthday cakes and decorating them with nasturtiums and violets from the garden...

trying not to eat all the sourdough bread the Mr has been baking...

cooking up a nut roast pie and baking peach tarts for a friend over for dinner...

Sweet violets

picking teeny-tiny violets from the garden...

Ruby grapefruit & berries

trying to make up for all the cake by eating raspberries and grapefruit...

Lately

trying not to steal the neighbours cat...

then eating more cake...

enjoying the spring sunshine...

and spring storms...

Treasures

tidying up my inherited, vintage and new treasures...

As you can see lately has been all about being at home, baking cakes and hanging out in the garden.

All photos from my instagram @theteapotexplodes xx C

Around the house: a badger, a Biba girl & two owls

I thought it was time I shared a few images from around the flat. I've posted a few bits on Instagram so if you follow me there, you'll have seen a few bits and pieces. Unbelievably, it's a whole year since we moved in. I still feel like I'm settling in, rearranging and finding spots for things which don't have obvious homes.

The mantel. Apparently one money-box just wasn't enough. The badger was a gift and is from the Quail range at Liberty. The owl (Hedwig) I fell in love with when I spied him at Caravan Style a couple of years ago. He just had to come home with me. They both live on the mantelpiece. Both are sadly closer to empty than full. The teacup trios were gifts, the left is by Susie Cooper (I wrote about it here) and the right is a vintage set by Collingwood (c.1924-1930). The couple dancing print is from the brilliant 20 X 200 site.

The bookshelf. Another little wise owl. This guy was £1 from a charity shop. He lives with a very weather-beaten yellow submarine, complete with fab four aboard. The Beatles toy was the Mr's when he was a child. Our bookshelves are overflowing but there's still space for these guys.

All the little ukuleles lined up.

The sofa (and the ukes). The Mr's collection all lined up watching telly on the sofa. Left to right: A charango, a Mele soprano ukulele, a banjolele, my SpongeBob ukulele, and a Lehua ukulele all together, just hanging out. And before you ask, no I can't play any of them. The sofa, or couch as us New Zealanders tend to call them, was donated by the Mr's uncle when we were trying to fill the unfurnished flat. It's covered with Charles Eames fabric apparently. Love.

Liberty print cushion

And here's a Liberty print cushion I ran up on the sewing machine. I'm halfway through making another one in green.

Framed biba poster

The bedroom. This is an unsigned original Biba poster photographed by James Wedge. I really wanted to have it on display as I just love her. You can't really see from my photo but the Gold Biba logo is printed in the top left hand corner. These posters were never used or sold by Biba as they were produced in 1974 just before the company folded. There are a few floating around online if you look for them. She's lying on the most rich and opulent cushions. She doesn't really match the wallpaper, which I'm not really keen on but in a rented flat what can you do? If those legs and butt aren't motivation to get up and go for a run in the morning I don't know what is.

I love looking at pictures of other people homes on blogs so thought it was only fair that I shared some of mine. Stay tuned for part two (once I've had a tidy-up).

Peony season

Don't you love Peony season? One thing that this dreadful weather can't take away from Summer for us. Image

I picked up this glorious bunch at Columbia Road flower market on Sunday for just £10. They are looking rather splendid in this lovely jug my sister found in charity shop on her last visit to London. (It was too big and heavy to fit in the suitcase to go back to New Zealand.)

It's all been a bit quiet on the blog lately. I have so much to blog about, but barely any time to write it. Let's just say my approach to blogging is sporadic at best.

I hope to be spending more time listening to records and writing in this peaceful corner soon.

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x Charlotte