Launching The Look Of London

Last week we hosted a modest event to launch The Look Of London, our new publication which we have produced in a collaboration with Paul Gorman. The map is a celebration of the independent shops and small businesses from which global fashions have sprung, and so we were delighted that we were able to do this in the lovely surroundings of Lewis Leathers, a prime example of just such an enterprise, and one that thankfully still thrives.

It was, to coin a phrase, a dark and stormy night but we were delighted that so many braved the rain and were able to raise a bottle of Saint Craft Lager to this new publication and to the pioneers documented in the map, some of whom joined us on the evening.

Our thanks go to Derek and all at Lewis Leathers, Nicola Murray at Dawbell, Saint Craft Lager, Kitty Regan, and all who showed up.


Top: Nigel Waymouth; Caz Facey and Lloyd Johnson
Middle: Jeff Dexter; Paul Gorman and Bruce Marcus
Above:  Derek Harris
All photos by Kitty Regan

Posted in Independent, Lewis Leathers, London, The Look Of London

Herb visits… S.E.H. Kelly

We spend a great deal of time celebrating traditional businesses and mourning those that pass, so it's particularly satisfying to find a brand new operation with the integrity and the ethos of an old one. One such is clothing manufacturer S.E.H. Kelly, whose studio and shop is a short walk from our own modest premises, and where we stopped in to have a cup of tea a while ago now, back before the leaves started to turn.

S.E.H. Kelly specialise in workwear for men, using only fabric and materials from the British Isles which are manufactured to exacting standards frequently in very limited runs. They operate on a small enough scale that should the fancy taken them, they can make use of finds such as a single piece of fabric that will make fewer than 20 shirts, and so that becomes the whole run. Which is something to bear in mind if you spot an item you like – this may be the last one ever made. We were particularly impressed with their horn buttons which come from a 150-year-old button factory in the Midlands, but this level of care runs throughout their business, and not just in the clothes they make and the austerely charming studio in which they labour.

On any Saturday and Sunday, from 12noon-5pm, you too can explore the creations of SEH Kelly at their workshop, and meet Sara and Paul, the delightful pair at its helm. We'd say a visit is a bit like going back to a better time, but it's better than that because it gives us all hope that good, modest businesses can prosper in the present day.

S.E.H Kelly, 1 Cleve Workshops, Boundary Street London E2 7JD. Tel: 020 3397 0449
Photos are courtesy Paul, SEH Kelly

Posted in England, Independent, London

Herb visits… Diwana Bhel Poori House

On Drummond Street, next to the supermarket where Patak's pickles were born is Diwana, serving vegetarian Indian food since the 1960s. Their buffet lunch remains one of the city's great food bargains, attracting nearby office workers, impecunious pensioners, weary travelers and plenty of regulars. In The Discriminating Guide to London (William Heinemann, 1977) it is described accurately if a little harshly: "small, very simple – even uncomfortable... we include it because of all the English vegetarian restaurants in central London none has been good enough to recommend. The food here is delicious and almost ridiculously cheap." The same is true today; it is an entirely unselfconscious timewarp, with its hard benches, stainless steel beakers and trays. The lunchtime buffet is far from the familiar pea and potato gloop of other similar establishments, with salads, curries, home-made pickles and chutneys, all of which are constantly refreshed, while "a la carte" bhel poori and dosas in the evening are also excellent.
With HS2 threatening to destroy Drummond Street and large swathes of Euston and Mornington Crescent, we urge you to visit while you still can. This is an area little known to those who neither live or work in it, but it has a large, settled residential population for whom life is beginning to look very bleak indeed, as shown by the video below and linked here.

Diwana Bhel Poori House, 121-123 Drummond Street, London NW1 2HL. Tel: 020 7387 5556

Posted in Drummond Street, England, Food, Independent, London, Restaurants

Herb visits… Hampstead Heath

This long-awaited burst of fine weather has brought crowds to the city's parks and lidos. Our correspondent instead opted for the sylvan delights of Hampstead Heath, and the cooling waters of the ladies' pond. For more than 150 years bathers have exercised here and sought relief from the heat of city streets. Hot days bring crowds, of course, but it still has the air of a refuge with people at ease, happy to share the pond with bobbing ducks and with each other. 

Posted in London

Herb visits… the Cockney cash machine

We bring to you a rare positive report from the financial sector.

Situated on the corner of Horatio Street and Hackney Road outside the Costcutter supermarket is the cockney cash machine. It shows no sign of affiliation to any particular bank but, unusually for this part of London, it does offer free cash withdrawals. It is also rare in that it gives users the the option to read instructions in English or Cockney.

We risked the suspicious stares of passers-by to bring you the details of this East London peculiarity.

Reading your card Reading your bladder of lard
Enter your pin Enter your Huckleberry Finn

Then you have a choice:
Cash with receipt Sausage & Mash with receipt
Cash without receipt Sausage & Mash without receipt
Balance on-screen Balance on Charlie Sheen

If you select "Sausage & Mash" you'll be offered the following:
£10 Speckled Hen
£20 Horn of Plenty
£30 Dirty
£40 Double top

When you have made your selection:
Thanks Tom Hanks me old Dutch Plate

Followed by:
Contacting your bank Contacting your rattle and tank

Please take your Sausage & Mash

At last, a bank we like!

Posted in London

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