Tart’s Kitchen

Tart KitchenBank holiday weekends should really start on the friday. Three days off feels like a treat worth extending. Four days and you’re really talking. Hang on – don’t the French call it ‘faire un pont’? Well, I decided to pose as a frenchie and start building my bridge over the long weekend before anyone could possibly object.

Tart Kitchen

And I hardly needed to persuade my lunch guest to join me. She’s biking up a steep hill in 4th gear at the moment and welcomed a little light local relief in Queen’s Park where the Tart London girls (aka Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones) have set up a pop-up café.  It’s aptly called Tart’s Kitchen and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tart Kitchen

Fresh, fashionable and of course fabulous, served on the heritage brand Wedgewood, their menu changes daily. Needless to say, the clientele is just as glitzy as you’d imagine (the catering duo’s business feeds the likes of Kate Moss and Cara D. on fashion, media and film shoots) so we weren’t too surprised to spot Jemima Khan and Lady Annabel eating 2 tables away.

Jemima Khan - I'm loving her bucket bag...

Jemima Khan – I’m loving her Gucci bucket bag…

my goat's cheese/butternut squash salad

my baked feta/sweet potato salad

Friend's mezze lunch

Friend’s mezze platter

We thoroughly loved our lunch and the general buzz of Tart.  Informally posh and famously darling,  we were in no hurry to race off and, besides, Black Box have set up in the corner (apparently long before Tart arrived), serving the finest artisan coffee any cover star could wish for.

Tart Kitchen

I hear the shop shuts on 26th June so hurry along to the pop-up – or be fashionably late and wait for Tart to find a permanent home.

Tart’s Kitchen 74 Salusbury Road NW6

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Petalon – a flowers-on-a-bike story

Petalon FlowersThere’s little more pleasurable in the blogging world than meeting someone like Florence Kennedy. Forever inquisitive as to how others lead their lives, I’m always on the search for those who have found-their-dream.  Florence’s previous office life didn’t really amuse her much so she decided to launch her own business from home. Petalon delivers BY BIKE quite the prettiest bouquets of fresh, extravagant flowers I’ve ever seen. I ordered some for our London Fashion Week blogger brunch and sent one to thank a friend before deciding to nip east to Dalston to meet the lovely flower girl and hear her tale in more detail.

Petalon Flowers

Was it your lifelong dream to be a florist?  Not at all! It’s been one of the happiest accidents I could have wished for. I’ve fallen head over hells with floristry. I find it challenging, inspiring, and most of all, so much fun.

Petalon Flowers

how many bouquets do you deliver each week? around 100 at the moment.

how many of you delivering the flowers? sometimes 1, sometimes 3. Depends how busy we are.

how many bikes? we have an endless supply of bikes from my husband James ( who owns and builds Kennedy City Bicycles).

What do you do with the excess flowers? We try really hard to manage orders so that we don’t have leftovers (it sucks both financially and environmentally to have lots left over) and we distribute any left over flowers to all our neighbours.

Huxley - Florence's dog

Huxley – Florence’s dog

how many miles do you cycle a week? Personally, not very many any more! I have riders to deliver the flowers whilst I’m doing all the admin and business development in the afternoons. The girls cycle between 100 – 150 miles a week.

which is the best bit about your job? Watching it grow from nothing to something. I still pinch myself that people want to buy something I made to send to someone else.

Florence Kennedy - Petalon Flowers

and the most challenging? Trying to grow with the business. accepting change, adjusting to demand in a way that suits the business and our bank balance. I’ve never started a company before, so it’s a huge, daunting task at times. It’s all consuming – I rarely switch off.

Tell us about your donation to Bee Collective. We donate to Bee Collective as it’s a dedicated social enterprise that works specifically with and for London beekeepers.  Their profits go to improve habitat for honey bees and wild pollinators.

Petalon Flowers

your flower arrangements are stunning.  who/what inspires your creativity? The flower market is pretty inspiring in itself. I never wanted to create generic bunches. I wanted to use interesting flowers that you don’t see all the time. We use expensive flowers, but in smaller quantities so that sending beautiful, interesting flowers was more accessible to more people.

where would we find you taking some time out? Hackney Marshes, with my husband James and my dog Huxley.

Petalon Flowers

I found you on Instagram but where might I have heard about Petalon?  or is it simply driven by word of mouth? We are mainly word of mouth and Instagram. I love that people that receive Petalon flowers then use us to send flowers themselves. I can’t think of a more flattering way for our business to grow.

if not flowers, then what? I have no idea! it’s become my world – I didn’t know more than 3 flower names before starting out, and now i am utterly obsessed so it’s hard to imagine anything else. I could never go back to office life after this.

Who would you love to deliver to? It would be pretty cool to know the Queen had received a bunch of Petalon flowers.

tell us a flower secret. Crumble a little bit of Milton’s sterilising tablet into flower water to keep them lasting as long as possible.

Petalon Flowers

Petalon delivers every afternoon Monday to Friday.  You can choose from 2 different bouquets each week & all Florence’s flowers are chosen according to what’s seasonal, looks fresh and is generally fantastic at the Flower Market. £28 per bouquet including delivery and a donation to Capital Bee


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saying SORRY

The way I see it, there are two camps: those who can and those who can’t. And those who can, perhaps say it a little too readily. And those you can’t are simply missing that apologetic gene as, more of than not, generations before them have trodden an unrepentant path. But just how important is it to be able to ask for forgiveness? How much is too much on the sorry-front? And where would be without the word ‘sorry’?

It wasn’t just the incident at school that made me think. Although I praised the concept of last night’s homework being an apologetic letter to the teacher in question. Being able to craft a sincere and appropriate apology will stand them all in good stead. Whether or not they ‘did it’, is actually irrelevant.

Does it ever make anything better? One of the Smalls enquired. Yes, I think it does – if delivered with proper thought and ample qualification. A tail between the legs or relevant non-self-justification rationale can go a long way.

On the other hand, saying it too readily, too loudly or totally unnecessarily, is equally futile. London Underground is full of them. Terribly British over apologetic middle-aged one-journey-a-month travellers. SORRY they shrill when a commuter steps on their toe.

Lastly, up there on the high shelf sit those who lack no remorse whatsoever. The ignorant, the bad and the ugly. The man who mugged my dear friend. The terrorists. The pedophile. They don’t feel the pain they cause. Perhaps because they are already feeling too much of their own pain? Either way, one day they’ll be sorry.

This column first appeared in The Lady where I am their Mum About Town.

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About 20 years ago I worked at Freuds. Back then the world was a different place.  Guy Richie was our client on the night he first kissed Madonna and, less glamorously, I was responsible for media enquiries whenever a rat was discovered in KFC.  We had a silly amount of hilarious moments (oh how it rained the night SKY launched at Battersea Power Station) while busting a gut the rest of the time. And, as with most agencies, the clients had sky-high expectations of us and, more often than not, I’d drop down a floor to the directors’ swish offices to seek out Alex Johnston.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIXAAAAJGUyZDNiYWUxLTVmMDktNGFhNC1hNGEzLTJlODQ1MTMxNmFiNg

You see, he was our Don of Mad Men. OK, I’m going to make him blush now but the thing was that Alex had (in his head) all the creative ideas we ever needed. And I distinctly remember a 23-year-old me making a mental note that one day I wanted his job.

Of course I’ve bumped into him since those Freud days. On Longboat Key, on Primrose Hill and once when I needed to borrow a slice of his creativity for a project I was working on. Either way, I wasn’t madly surprised to hear that he has recently launched a cunning game app called Qikionary. Centred around 4 letter words (not so much the rude ones), his game tests your logic and vocab in equal measure – in a touch screen/interactive type of way. Known in this house as ‘the hater of all app games’, I downloaded it a couple of nights ago… and…yup..pretty hooked.

So I asked Alex to tell me where on earth the idea for Qiktionary came from…

I come from a family of word junkies.  While the other kids watched TV and listened to the radio, we communed over crosswords, Scrabble and 20 Questions.  It got to the point where myself and my siblings were not allowed to open our Christmas presents until we had solved the clues (painstakingly composed by my father) that adorned even the lowliest stocking filler.  The addiction followed us into adulthood and, to this day, I can’t enjoy a normal bowel movement without the Times Cryptic as my laxative.  My brother is the same.  IMG_0367

It’s a habit that I have passed onto my own kids.  My daughter and I enjoy frequent pun-offs on a Saturday. She, in the basement of a Notting Hill record shop, and I, in a pub in Maida Vale, challenge each other to text message pun tennis.  It’s usually something like “band names that you could eat”.  Cue Bread Zeppelin, Elvis Parsley and so on.  

There was one game that my father and I often played to pass the time between placing an order in a Cafe somewhere in France and receiving the dish.  Sometimes we played for many many hours in one stretch.  The game was called Jotto.  One player picked any four letter word and his opponent had to guess it using trial, error, deduction and voacabulary.  The shorthand is ‘Mastermind with words instead of plastic nipples’.  Its subtle blend of logic and language is something I remember fondly.

As the service in French restaurants improved, some decades passed before I played it again.  This time with my kids. ‘This would make a good electronic game’ I thought.

But, beyond solving a puzzle, it lacked a point.

Since meeting him in 2005, my relationship with John Lloyd has evolved from prospective business collaborator to mentor.  He is an extraordinarily brilliant and inspiring man and I would urge everyone to concoct whatever spurious set of circumstances they can muster just to spend an hour in his company. In John’s mind, QI is not a TV show.  It is not a vehicle for Stephen Fry to dazzle us with intellect. It is not a quiz.  QI is rather a catalyst for unlocking curiosity, like Viagra for our natural inquisitiveness.  It asks us to examine our world through a lens of passion and interest rather than finite objectivity, thereby relegating the idea that we should know or not know something, but instead we should find our own connection with it.  But, to me, all that QI is and could be felt hamstrung by the unyielding boundaries of a TV panel show; and, more than anything, I wanted to show John that QI could flourish in different environments.

Such are the planets that required alignment for Qiktionary to be born; and, in May 2015, born it was.  The idea was to install the casual gaming experience of my father’s  word-game together into the QI creed.  Unlock the hidden word and your reward is a new perspective on that word delivered through a QI fact. Simples. 

So here’s the plan.  Download the app (which is free by the way) here and let me know your highest score!

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