Covent Garden

places

There are few things I enjoy more than discovering new places.

I love a good wander, but more than that, I love being shown around by a local – seeing the city from their perspective.

A couple of weeks ago, I had some time to kill in Covent Garden so I met a couple of friends for coffee, wandering etc.

After rambling around the piazza and St Paul’s Church, carefully avoiding eye contact with street performers, I stopped for a quick bite to eat at Whittard’s Tea Bar. It was lovely, though victim to the smaller than expected portions and inflated prices that we’ve come to expect from London. I’m not complaining – they have high overheads, I get it. On the plus side, the sun was shining and it was lovely eating al fresco on such a glorious day.

Hands down, the highlight of the day has to be the visit to Crosstown Doughnuts. The more perceptive among you will probably have guessed what they sell there. (Clue: it rhymes with ‘slow butts’.)

I went for a lime and kiwi flavoured number which admittedly sounds quite odd, but was fantastic. These guys seem to be all about the details – even the jam had what appeared to be kiwi pips in it to give it the proper kiwi feel.

A tiny little shop, Crosstown’s interior is a monument to minimal and monochrome style. Black and white masonic floor, black furnishings, doughnut-shaped stools, neon signs and a live Instagram counter (oh, what a time to be alive!) accompany the selection of doughnuts. Outside, they’ve decided to brighten things up a little more with a deep purple hue.

One of his favourites, my friend also took me to Magma – a magazine/bookshop. You might remember from a previous blog that I visited the branch of Magma in Manchester some time ago, but if you have any semblance of a life, you probably don’t. Anyway, this Magma was bigger than its northern counterpart and filled with even more magazines, books and odd trinkets over two floors.

My friend also took me to Reality Church – a relatively new community that meet in an art gallery in Covent Garden. I loved it there. The people were great, really friendly and welcoming, the teaching was relevant and well-delivered, and the music was beautiful.

In the evening I went for some food and cocktails at a Latin restaurant/bar called Salsa. Perhaps a little on the nose with the name there, but nonetheless their Sunday deal was surprisingly cheap so we gorged ourselves till we could eat and drink no more while a Latin dance workshop took place on the dancefloor a few metres away. It was kind of like being at a bar or a wedding party where the DJ is a little too talkative and keeps stopping the music to say something or other. Except, this time, what the DJ is saying is actually helpful to people, and he is from South America instead of Hull.

After dinner we went for a stroll through Hyde Park and up past Buckingham palace. Having recently watched The Crown on Netflix, I couldn’t help but imagine Clare Foy wandering around looking burdened and pensive while Matt Smith moans about something.

The palace and the London Eye looked stunning reflected in the water of the Serpentine – a beautiful was to end my day in London.

Stingily Vintage

Fashion

I’ve always been notoriously, unashamedly, almost evangelistically, stingy. I just hate paying more for something than I think I should.

That said, I spend roughly half of my income in coffeeshops and around a quarter on various sweets and pastries, so this parsimony is basically the only way I’m able to fund my addictions.

This instinctive sense of entitlement to the finer things in life contrasted with my chronic unwillingness to part with my money can be a struggle. But savvy clothes shopping can do a lot to ease the tension.

As it goes, today’s outfit is a penny-pinching triumph, costing me just under £5 altogether.

Stinginess. It’s a talent.

 

Let’s start off with this vintage sweatshirt. For the record, “vintage” in fashion is just a fancy way to say “secondhand and somebody probably died in this”.  I really enjoy the nautical feel of this jumper and its oversized, worn-in style. I bought it from a shop in Belgium for €3. Bargain. This is a great one to throw on with some jeans or maybe chuck it over a pair of shorts as sunny summer afternoons turn to breezy summer evenings.

Subtotal: £2.61 (€3)

My slouchy denim jacket used to belong to my mum and I basically just stole it. I have zero regrets. Over the years, this light wash denim has become my go-to outerwear, seeing me through spring, summer and autumn, but doesn’t quite cut it during the harsh northern winter.

Subtotal: £2.61

You can’t really see it but, underneath the sweatshirt, I’m wearing a white tee with a sporty elasticated ringer neck. I got this from Boohoo.com and it cost £4 with one of the 50% discount codes that they send out quite indiscriminately. However, last year I won a competition that gave me a free £500 to spend on the website. So in actuality, it cost me nothing. Begrudgingly, I have to admit that this one can’t be blamed on my shopping skills, this was purely luck!

Subotal: £2.61

While giving a nod to the incumbent 70s trend, my corduroy trousers still keep things contemporary in a slim silhouette. I got them on sale for £2 at Primark a few months ago. That’s a rather heavy-handed reduction, even for Primark, so clearly they had overestimated the demand for corduroy trou as there was a table completely full of these bargain cords.

Subtotal: £4.61

Finally my white sneakers were another find from Boohoo.com. I think they cost £10 with the 50% off (honestly, never pay full price on Boohoo, just wait for a discount!), but like the tee, they cost me nothing in actual money.

This brings the grand total to a measly £4.61, having actually paid for only two of the five items.

Eat your heart out, Ebenezer Scrooge.

As I look back over this post, searching desperately for some sort of conclusion, it would appear that my budget fashion tips are as follows:

  • Trawl vintage shops and discount bins
  • Steal
  • Be lucky

Words to live by.

Things I’ve Learnt Over the Last Month Volume VII

musings

I can tell that you’re all itching for one of my classic brain-dumps where I throw a pile of subjective opinions at you and pretend it’s fact. You know, like a newspaper.

Well here’s the latest edition.

  • Human beings are capable of unthinkable evil.
  • Human beings are also capable of great resilience.
  • If we’re honest with ourselves, the English, as a people group, are not built for warm weather.
  • A Magnum ice-cream is an incomparable experience.
  • I’m also going through twin obsessions with raspberry sorbet and clotted cream ice cream. Summer is not good for me.
  • The wide-leg trend is great for warmer weather as it gives your legs room to breathe. Skinny jeans on a hot day is a form of modern torture.
  • Being a tourist is all well and good, but there’s nothing like seeing a place from a local’s perspective.
  • Nothing revives you quite like spending quality time with good friends.
  • Befriending people who are in positions to give you free coffee is essential.
  • The whole ‘summer body’ thing isn’t exactly going to plan, and summer is just going to have to take what it gets at this point, to be honest.

Belgium

Fashion, places

I recently had the pleasure of visiting for a second time what I think is a very underrated country.

You don’t really hear much about Belgium, do you? It’s all Paris this and Amsterdam that, while Belgium sits there quietly enjoying the best of French and Dutch culture.

I was there for ‘I Have A Dream’ – a week of events organised by a group of Christian students at the University of Leuven. These events aimed to provide students an opportunity to think about the big questions of life and hear about and discuss Christianity.

We had a really good response from students there and it was great to chat with people and get to know them, and to talk about some of the deeper things in life that we don’t always get time to think about.

Leuven is a beautiful city (also criminally underrated, I think) and I loved wandering around, taking in the mix of gothic, contemporary and neoclassical architecture. St Peter’s cathedral is an imposing gothic structure on the main market square, but the stunning 15th century town hall accross the road commands your attention with dozens of carved figurines all over it.

The library was definitely another favourite building of mine and, though it took a beating in both of the world wars, it stands tall and proud on Ladeuzeplein Sqaure. Well, at least until the next war. Outside stands a huge statue of a fly impaled on a needle. Why?

Because art. That’s why.

Belgium is the land of chocolate (and Stella Artois too, but the less said about that, the better) so of course I had my fill of sweet treats, especially truffles, waffles and ice cream. Filled to the brim with coffeeshops, cafes, bars and restaurants, the standout for me had to be The Capital – a bar that boasts 2000 different varieties of beer. Yes, you read that right. With 20 beers on tap and bottled favourites at the bar, the rest are kept in their extensive cellar and sent up to the bar on an industrial elevator.

The Capital spits in the face of your local.

Some friends pointed me towards Think Twice – a vintage shop in Leuven. I will forever be in their debt. Think Twice (or T2) have sales every month to clear up space for their incoming new stock. They do this by means of incredibly generous discounts. Today everything is 30% off, tomorrow 40%, the day after 50%. This is off EVERY item in the store, from shirts and jackets to bags and shoes. After that, each item is €5, then €4, then €3 and so on, until you’re buying leather jackets and wool coats for basically pennies.

Great fashion at ridiculously low prices without the ethical implications of cheap labour, as well as the feeling of knowing you’re recycling an outfit instead of buying yet another new item and adding to the vicious cycle of clothing waste. No surprsises, I was a big fan. I went twice. On the first day I got an black denim shirt for £4. The next I hit things hard, and bought a faded red denim shirt, an embroidered cuban collar shirt, an indigo denim jacket, and a vintage sweatshirt. Unsurprisingly for a secondhand shop, each of the items were larger than what I usually wear, but I quite enjoy the slouchy 90s feel of oversized items.

I also got some time to wander around Brussels which is a half hour train ride from Leuven.

Brussels, being the bastion of culture that it is, has a famous statue called ‘Mannekin Pis’ – directly translated as ‘Little Man Piss’. It is quite literally a statue of a little boy peeing. There are many legends as to the origins of this piece of art. One of them is that sometime in the 14th century the city of Brussels was besieged by a foreign enemy. The attackers had laid explosives around the city to finish things once and for all, but a young boy happened to notice the burning fuse and urinated on it – thus saving Brussels.

Believe it or not, people come from literally all over to gaze upon the admittedly underwhelming manhood that may or may not have saved the city all those years ago. This is culture, guys. Rich, beautiful culture. Annoyingly, on the day I visited, he had been dressed in a weird old-fashioned outfit for some reason, probably a public holiday or something. This marred my experience somewhat as normally he’s a lot less prudish.

Aside from looking at urinating statues, I spent the day wandering around the beautiful buildings of Belgium’s captial like the royal shoping arcade Galleries De Hubert, beautiful neoclassical churches, the palace and the royal library.

I also visited the European Parliament – because three weeks after the UK officially began withdrawal from the European Union, I can’t imagine anything they’d want to see more than a clueless Englishman wandering around, unable to speak any of the three national languages.

It was actually quite humbling to see the frankly huge complex – I immediately felt very small, both in stature and in my contributions to world unity.

It was really interesting and thought-provoking learning about the rich history of the EU at the neighbouring Parlamentarium – basically a museum about the European Union. It was genuinely fascinating – which was a huge surprise to me, if I’m honest. My favourite part was the 360 projection room that simulated being an MEP during a vote. I don’t care how lame that makes me sound. A bittersweet visit for me, the Parlamentarium really hit home the momentous decision that the UK has made.

Politics aside, I had fantastic time in Belgium and my love for the country has only grow stronger. As has my love for waffles and beer.

 

Teajuanas

food, places

Legend has it that coffee was discovered when a 9th century Ethiopian goatherd named Kaffi noticed how excited his goats became when they ate beans from the coffee plant. Suffice to say, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those overstimulated goats.

I love coffee. But my favourite thing about coffee is its means of delivery – the humble coffee shop.

In 17th century England, coffeehouses were places where men would gather, rich and poor alike, to discuss politics, science and philosophy. In the 21st century, coffeeshops and cafes are more likely places to discuss Kim Kardashian’s latest diet and take pictures of your food. Nonetheless, I enjoy few things more than wandering into a cool coffeeshop with a friend and chatting for hours over a flat white or two. Or seven.

There are loads of great cafes and coffee places in my city, and a few weeks ago, another one opened its doors.

Delivering an injection of Latin America to York’s coffee scene, Teajuanas (pun very much intended) serves up excellent coffees, teas, breakfast, snacks, pastries and milkshakes. Despite the Mexican pun in its title, Teajuanas boasts influences from all over the world and has the wide range of teas to prove it.

This magpie-like eclecticism and creativity isn’t just restricted to the food at Teajuanas. Almost everything is custom-made and a lot done either by themselves or by family and friends. The beauty of this is that everything features signature touches that make them stand out, like the hooks under the window bar or the hessian upholstered stools or the reclaimed church pew.

You can sense a real love of craftsmanship when you talk to the two owners (whose names I rudely forgot to ask!) You can feel the pride of men who work with their hands, whether that’s whipping up latte or putting up their wallpaper. Speaking of which, the wallpaper is textured and vintage newspaper-themed. It really is all about the details here.

Aside from the huge faux clock that adorns the feature wall, the centrepiece has to be an otherworldly golden and copper dome that rises from the table behind the counter.

This contraption is the coffee machine.

Adapted from an old boiler, this piece of Italian engineering looks like it belongs in the laboratory of a Victorian alchemist in a steampunk fanfic, rather than a cafe in York. All gears, knobs and platforms, not to mention the engraved eagle that sits upon it, it really is something to behold.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

 

If you’re hungry pop in for breakfast (served “8am till noonish”) or a sandwich, but Teajuanas’ passion is pinchos – Spanish snacks served on bread, spiked with a toothpick (basically tapas as finger food). A rich medley of flavours, you’ll find chorizo, chilli, olives and balsamic vinegar, sat comfortably next to ham hock and gherkin. Pick a few, mix and match and share with friends.

In parts of Spain, pinchos are considered an essential socialising tool. Cafes will have hundreds laid out on the bar and customers are encouraged to take as many as they like as they relax with friends. They pay at the end by displaying their used toothpicks which are counted and charged appropriately. “Unsurprisingly, customers occasionally ‘lose’ the odd toothpick or two before it’s time to pay,” the Teajuana boys laugh.

This kind of relaxed attitude to food and drink is what Teajuanas want to bring to the UK. Somewhere you can pop in for a snack, a coffee and a chat. Maybe flick through one of the books on their windowsill, maybe have a go on one of the instruments dotted around the place. Though perhaps give the didgeridoo behind the pew a miss.

“York is just the start,” they say. The boys have big plans and even bigger dreams. Ideally they’d like to open more cafes all over the country.

They aim to start in smaller cities like York (Harrogate and Beverley were also mentioned as potential future locations) because bigger cities, Leeds for example, are already over-saturated with so many different options.

Leeds’ loss is York’s gain as we now have the best cafe this side of Tijuana.

Things I’ve Learnt Over the Last Month Volume VI

musings

Like the citizens of Narnia, I never quite thought we’d make it through winter and am continuously shocked at how the spring sun continues to shine. I’m half expecting it to snow tomorrow.

Regardless, this year is chugging along rather determinedly and we’re already halfway through April. That’s almost a third of 2017 all used up.

As a rule, I try as much as possible to avoid learning things. I’m no longer in education, so surely that means I already know all there is to know. Occasionally however, some new nugget of knowledge will slip through the blockades and plant itself firmly into the recesses of my mind.

Here are some from the last month.

  • Spring is my absolute favourite.
  • I’m really into politics. Sorry, I mean political drama TV shows. Same thing, right?
  • Beetroot isn’t completely unassailably, irredeemably disgusting. Just quite disgusting.
  • Time just gets faster and faster. Unless you’re at work. Then it gets slower and slower, until you leave work, at which point it immediately speeds up again.
  • TV show Scandal is woefully underrated in this country.
  • Sunshine always puts me in a good moods.
  • God is greater than I ever could have imagined.
  • There is such a thing as too much McDonald’s.
  • York’s coffee shop scene is unparalleled.
  • If I keep consuming coffee at my current rate I’ll be bankrupt before the year is out.
  • Americans think that “burgularize” is a word. Bless them.

 

 

Freshen Up

Fashion

(Feel free to scroll down to the outfit if you don’t fancy reading my somewhat lengthy introduction.)

To ring in the new year, my housemates and I threw a 90s/00s themed party. Naturally, it was fancy dress.

If I’m honest, I’ve never been too big a fan of fancy dress. Firstly, it’s a lot of effort, and I generally dislike things that require effort. Strike one.

Secondly, fancy dress rarely looks good. It can look creative or ingenious or clever, but it almost never looks good. Best case scenario, you look like as much like a Minion as it is possible for a human being to look, but you don’t look good. You look like a Minion. Strike two.

Finally, fancy dress often includes body paint which kind of makes me cringe. Strike three, and we’re out.

This is something that I’ve subconsciously known but never really processed before. Writing this right now is genuinely the first time I’ve thought about why I dislike body paint so I can only apologise for whatever stream of consciousness diatribe comes next.

Maybe it’s because I had eczema growing up so my mother never let me use face paint or even those cool transfer tattoos that everyone had. Instead I had to stick them on my book bag that held my piano sheet music. My book bag.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been forced to rub against sweaty, over-familiar, painted clubgoers on various nights out while at university.

Or maybe it’s because people always miss out bits of skin (honestly, the number of smurfs I’ve seen with unpainted napes) which is just unsettling; or even worse, when they go overboard with face paint and their eyes, mouths and nostrils look like gaping holes into another dimension, lost in a sea of cheap acrylic paint.

*shudder*

So all of that considered, I’ve never really been a fan of fancy dress. This year however, I decided I’d give it a good go.

I tried to find an easily recognisable black 90s/00s character, which is harder than you might think. And before you go on about colour-blind costumes, I’ve tried that before and either no one had a clue who I was or they racked their brains to think of an appropriate black character who they assumed I must have been. In fact I once went to a party dressed as a cowboy and my friend decided that I must have been Django (Unchained).

Eventually I ended up with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – the king (sorry, prince) of 90s cool. I borrowed my housemate’s dungarees and I already had an appropriately kitsch snapback so just needed an obnoxiously patterned shirt.

I found this – let’s face it – objectively ugly shirt in a charity shop and, much to my surprise, have quite started to like it and begun to incorporate it into my everyday style.

So that’s what this unnecessarily long introduction has been about – trying something different and discovering a new style.

Safe to say I’ve waffled on for long enough so let’s get down to today’s outfit. All these pictures were taken by my friend Luke. Check out his other work here.

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As discussed, this shirt is from a charity shop. It was originally from M&S and was, in fact, designed for men, despite all suggestions to the contrary. I’m really into 90s vibes at the moment. The decade came back into fashion a few of years ago but sort of plateaued, challenged no doubt by the bohemian 70s styles that came in not long afterwards. Over the last few seasons however, 90s style has come back in a big way, especially in the sports luxe/athleisure trend (ie sportswear that isn’t really designed for sport). Gap, where I work, is having an extended throwback with their 90s Archive Reissue, re-releasing some of their classic pieces from when they were at the height of their cool.

With quite a loud shirt, I’ve gone for solid colours for the rest of the outfit, starting off with my trusty plain white tee. I decided to tuck it in, which, once again, is a bit of a 90s thing, and I think it looks a little cleaner and more put-together.

My jacket is from Boohooman.com. I’ve recently become quite a fan of textured materials (corduroy, waffle knit, ribbed cotton, velvet) and, fittingly, this jacket is made of a navy blue (fake) suede. I’ve been seeing a lot of suede bombers around recently, especially in a brown tan colour, so I wanted to stand out a little by going blue. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’m something of a lanky gentleman so this medium jacket doesn’t quite reach my wrists, while a larger size would have been too baggy. My answer to this is to roll up the sleeves a little so it looks like a stylistic choice, rather than a necessity.

Another nod to the 90s are my straight leg trousers. In recent seasons, designers have finally started to move away from the slim silhouette that has gripped our bottom halves for the last decade, instead looking to more relaxed, skater-inspired fits. This light wash denim is relaxed and casual, making the perfect addition to my chilled outfit.

Wider legs can be difficult to pull off without looking like you’re wearing your dad’s gardening trousers, so high hemlines (either cropped at the ankle or rolled up like mine) are a good way to make sure you look more skater boy than see you later, boy.

My shoes were £3 from Primark so I bought them in two colours. A deal’s a deal, man. Finally, I’ve gone for some stripy tube socks and this simple grey cap to add in some last minute 90s touches.

So that’s my 90s inspired outfit – yet another thing we can add to the already lengthy list of things we can thank Will Smith for.

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Playlist // 001

music

Back in 2010, a sixteen year-old me wrote a blog post about the music I was listening to at the time. The article, which starts with a quote from late 00s rapper Iyaz, features some juvenile writing from yours truly, as well as a list (which I still stand by, albeit very tentatively) of songs from the likes of Lady Gaga, Jason Derulo and Will.I.Am. Jokes about my unabashedly chart-loving tastes aside, it’s a testament to their staying power that most of the people on the list are still making music today.

Seven years on, I thought I’d revisit the concept and let you know which songs are soundtracking my life in 2017. This time there’s no Katy Perry. This time…

(Here is the Spotify playlist and I’ve also put Youtube links in the song titles below.)

TG4M – Zara Larsson

Chilled pop-y tropical house (popical house?) is what brought Zara Larsson to the mainstream with last summer’s Lush LifeTG4M (Too Good For Me) from her debut album So Good follows that template with a candy-dipped hook and simple, catchy lyrics.

Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran had to feature on this list. His new album Divide is tearing up the charts and world records alike so it’s almost a given that his name will invariably appear on just about any list of music right now. Unless it was maybe a list of people who haven’t recently broken world music records. Maybe then.

Galway Girl is a beautiful Irish folk-inspired ditty about the ever potent charm of an Irish lass.

Fight Sleep – Dagny

After last year’s Backbeat, Norweigan pop debutante is back with Fight Sleep – a cheerful song about trying to stay awake and make the most of time. Contrary to popular belief, Dagny is not an eight year old who has just been sent to bed.

Mr Davy – Give Me England

Mr Davy‘s grungy rock harks back to 90s/00s era greats, as do the political lyrics on  the first single from the GME boys’ upcoming album Generation Why. The music video for this moody track has been lifted right from the last decade in visuals, setting and even clothing; the odd iPhone being the only 21st century giveaway. The boys also do a great acoustic version of the song.

Low – TRACE

TRACE delivers chilled soulful synth pop in Low from her 2016 EP of the same name. Slow and brooding, yet optimistic, this song was an instant win for me. To paraphrase the lyrics, I definitely prefer you, TRACE.

Liability – Lorde

When Lorde’s music first came out around 2013/14 I was going through a melancholy contemplative phase where I’d lie in bed listening to sad-ish music. Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and Florence & the Machine sighed, murmured and pouted me in and out of this stage. As such, I was thrilled when Lorde recently released Green Light – a rousing anthem that is as pensively euphoric as she is able to muster.

Liability is a stripped back follow-up and is beautiful, vulnerable and characteristically reflective. Moody teens and 20-somethings are going to love it

Fairytale of Old York

Fashion, places

I live in a city called York. It’s a great place to live.

Beautiful medieval architecture, quaint little shops, countless tea rooms and cafes. It’s just a dream.

It’s nothing at all like its louder, brasher namesake New York. So it always makes me laugh that when the British first invited themselves over to what we now call America and built the Big Apple – the economic centre of the United States, one of the busiest cities in the world, the city that never sleeps – they perhaps had my quaint little home in mind.

Overkill, guys. Overkill.

Anyway, today’s look was shot out and about in my favourite city in the world.

York. The original.

I got this denim shirt from Gap last year and it’s a great versatile layer to throw on. It has got poppers instead of buttons so it’s handy if you ever find yourself performing an impromptu striptease. Which I frequently do.

Down below I’ve got some black chinos from Zara (sadly no poppers here). An absolute steal in the sale, they can be dressed up or down. These are a ‘slim fit’ where I’d usually go for the slightly tighter ‘skinny’, but I’m quite happy with how they sit on me. As usual, I’ve rolled up the hems a little to show off my brogues that I’m starting to realise I definitely wear too often.

Finally, I love this coat from Gap’s new spring collection.Granted, it’s far too thin to be a realistic option for February in the north of England, but it definitely looks great. If you’ve an eye for detail, you might notice the striped lining – a tiny little flourish that I really enjoy, making the item stand out a little.

In my younger days I found the idea of a contrasting lining little more than a waste of time – after all, no one can see the lining (unless of course you’re the Fresh Prince and you wear your blazers inside out). Now that I’m an older, wiser, hopefully more stylish gentleman, I see a little more merit in hidden details. It’s like your little secret.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

The North(ern quarter) Remembers

places

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Manchester.

Manchester is an incredibly cool city and while I was waiting to meet my friend (this is the friend who is a part-time wizard), I spent some time mooching around The Northern Quarter – the city’s recognised hipster refuge.

Home to “alternative department store” Afflecks alongside a barrage of vintage shops, record stores and pseudo-quaint cafes, the pretentious side of me was positively salivating.

Perhaps my favourite location was We Are Cow – a vintage shop whose range is stocked at Topman among other places. Independent fashion meets big business. I enjoyed the decor – the highlight of which had to be a sign that spelt out the word ‘cow’ with filament bulbs in mason jars suspended from the ceiling. I love the ridiculousness of that sentence.

Aside from kitsch decor and lifeless mannequins that were still somehow cooler than I am ever likely to be, We Are Cow clearly took pride in their extensive range of preloved, restored and repurposed clothes that sprawled over two floors of nostalgia. Alongside the usual assortment of classic jackets, jeans and knitwear sat unique Frankenstein-esque creations such as Polo by Ralph Lauren shirts with cotton sweatshirt arms spliced on. And vice-versa.

After leaving the shop, safe in the knowledge that I too am in fact Cow, I wandered around a couple of record stores and a few more vintage shops until I was drawn in by the distinctive neon sign outside Pop Boutique (an independent vintage chain) which said “Come and Worship” in green and electric blue. I thought it might be a hipster church or something, I don’t know.

Inside I was greeted not by a vicar, but a by bearded man in a wood panelled room full of retro clothing, leaning nonchalantly on a glass topped counter in front of an onsite barbershop. That was good enough for me. Downstairs was the furniture department, which was basically like stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson film, with its nostalgic yet somehow timeless yet still very 70s atmosphere.

I popped into self-proclaimed “design store and speciality coffee bar” Fig + Sparrow for a drink and a sit down. The cafe (which also boasts an apartment, rentable on Airbnb) has a light and airy interior – tall ceilings, white walls and lots of pine. After enjoying a delightful peppermint tea, I had a browse of the products on offer which were mostly cool knick-knacks for the home.

I also got the chance to have a brief look in book and magazine shop Magma. I’ve always loved magazines and this design-focused shop didn’t disappoint with their unprecedented range. They basically stocked all the cool design publications that I already followed on Instagram. Supplementing the literature was an array of cool gifts and fun things. Pretty MAGnificent.

I’m sorry, there was no need for that.

Ok, that’s about the extent of my Northern Quarter wanderings, really.

As you can probably tell from the reference that I crudely shoe-horned into the title of this post, I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones recently, so I thought I’d sign off in classic Westerosi style.

Yours sincerely,

Edi Adegbola of House Adegbola, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.