Tuesday, 24 November 2015

340 The Kings Road: Fairfax and Favor at London Après

On Thursday evening, a new pop up threw open its doors at 340 The Kings Road. London Après, a collaboration of several British brands, had arrived on the iconic street and my sister and I were invited to the opening celebration.
One of the brands behind the collaborative pop up is Fairfax and Favor, a small yet upcoming British company that specialises in making ‘affordable luxury footwear’ that bridges the gap between the country and the city, or, more importantly, beautiful boots that I have been just dying to get my hands on!

After being swept off my feet and into a pair of boots by a rather jovial man with a spotted pocket handkerchief, my sister and I  managed to pin down Marcus, the Fairfax half of the boot making duo. Then, in true Lucinda style, my sister began to interrogate Marcus for just about every detail of his journey into boot making. (I took the very important role of drinking my pink gin cocktail and listening...)

It turned out it all started when Marcus and his business partner were interning for another shoe company. After several months, the pair decided to go it solo (despite being told they would never manage it!) and try to forge their own path into the shoe business. They pooled their savings, crossed their fingers and flew out to Spain to track down a factory which was to become the future producer of Fairfax and Favor’s beautiful signature boots.
The pair went from selling boots out of the back of their cars  and popup tents to visiting prestigious country shows up and down the UK, selling hundreds of pairs of shoes, all within a matter of a couple of years. Quite an impressive feat given they were new to running their own business. Now, with bricks and mortar over their heads, I think we can say they have safely established themselves as a brand here to stay!

Talking to Marcus was quite an inspirational experience. He and his partner hadn't necessarily tried to come up with 'the next new thing'. Instead, they had entered a market with a good product and let it do the talking. They had believed in themselves, took the risk of starting a company at the young ages of 24, worked hard and come out the other side with a successful business. It goes to show that with a bit of drive and a clear vision of what you want to achieve, you can create something truly rather impressive which is a valuable lesson I feel we can all apply to our own lives. 

All too soon we had to leave the warm shop and step back out into the icy night. The Christmas lights were twinkling away and once again I was reminded just how lovely London is. Thankfully, like Fairfax and Favor, I'm here to stay. 

The popup is open everyday until December 13th so if you want to pop by for  a peek at the boots, a sneaky cocktail or to interrogate Marcus yourself, I would honestly recommend it. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Fit for a Queen: Darbaar

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of Darbaar, a new Indian Restaurant in the heart of the city aiming to give you the royal experience. Darbaar's is the brainchild of Abdul Yaseen, who was part of the founding team of the Cinnamon Club and went on to become head chef of the well renowned Cinnamon Kitchen. However, now it seems he has branched out on his own to create another pretty spectacular dining experience. The whole concept is based around the idea of food you can share and is inspired by the decadence of Royal Indian Court banquets. Understandably then, my sister and I were rather excited as we walked up the red carpet (past a rather fetching elephant) and into the restaurant for the first time.

We were greeted by sunset cocktails and trays of canapés which, in anyone's books, can never be a bad thing. Lu and I, never to be shy around food, dug straight in and went to explore the (rather large) restaurant. The decor was sleek but beautiful - we both especially loved the dramatic light fittings over head!

In the main restaurant area, there was a long bar from which you could see straight into the kitchen which included an open clay oven! I loved being able to watch the chefs dash around preparing the dishes. However, as you'd expect, the real stars of the show were the platters of treats circulating around.

 Now, I am by no means an expert when it comes to Indian food, so I have to admit I was not exactly 100% sure what I was putting into my mouth, but to quote one of the few remaining memories of English GCSE, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". The food was delicious, who cares what it was called?!

 After having eaten perhaps slightly more than our fair share of canapés (including some deliciously creamy prawn cups, sizzling lamb and delicate pastry filled...things) we realised we had made a near fatal mistake. Main courses were coming out and we were running out of room.

Around came pretty little silver buckets filled with rice and delicious curries, along with a variety of other dishes. If Abdul aimed to create food to share, on one hand he definitely managed it ("Lu, try this, it's amazing!) but on the other he had failed miserably ("No, get your own, this is ALL MINE!").

 We were also lucky enough to meet Abdul Yaseen himself. Even better, he came armed with a tray of flavorsome carrot cakes! My sister and I waxed lyrical at him about his food while he laughed at our enthusiasm for the Indian deserts. Lulu and I had a wonderful evening at Darbaar. The food was excellent and the cocktails good fun (did I mention there were bursting blue bubbles hidden at the bottom of one?!). All I can say is that I'm excited to return!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Target on Talent: Introducing Matt Timmiss, the Man Behind Timmiss Productions

Today, lovely readers, I'd like to share with you something a little different and introduce a new angle to this blog. As well as showing you all interesting places or good food to eat, I'd like to use this as a platform to occasionally showcase talent to the interwebs. Therefore, to launch this new initiative, let me present to you twenty two year old artist, newly established director and founder of Timmiss Productions, Matt Timmiss.

Matt, after months of hard work, has recently written, directed and produced a short film called First Time Buyer. I caught up with him to get the lowdown on the inspiration behind the film, what its like to direct and what tips he'd offer those looking to get into the film industry.

Hi Matt, firstly, tell us what First Time Buyer is all about?
First Time Buyer is a short black comedy sketch about a young kid, Bobby, who’s going to pick up weed for the first time, but really has no idea of what to expect. He’s watched a lot of TV and heard a lot about what it might be like, but when he actually gets there, he’s thrown into a situation that he really wasn’t ready for!
Oh, that's an interesting subject matter. What inspired you to write this particular story?
I was working as part of the crew on another short film and the whole idea came out of a conversation we were having about stressful and unpredictable interview techniques. I wanted a story that the target audience of young internet viewers could relate to. I liked the idea of a situation with no clear rules, one that was outside the law, a kind of cowboy industry that doesn’t conform to the expected, so that’s why I chose the drugs scene. I think the idea of meeting a drug dealer for the first time would make anyone anxious and weirdly, conjures up the same sweaty palms as the prospect of a job interview. It was just a case of combining the two! The characters were an amalgamation of people I had known at uni, funny stories people had told me about their first experiences and a reflection of my own anxiety in most situations that I don’t know anything about. Like a lot of people, I loved the 90’s series ‘Spaced’ which was a stoner comedy, filmed in the style of a Swedish horror film. It had a great way of making the mundane into frightening or surreal situations and I wanted to have a go at that style. I think comedy is definitely a good place to start if you have a small budget and limited sets to work with!
First Time Buyer is your first short film, which you've written, directed and produced yourself. What were some of the challenges you faced and was it a steep learning curve?
I think if you want to make your own films, like any art, you have to be really self-motived, and strict with your work. I had the idea for ages, but forcing myself to sit down and actually write a script to completion was a new experience. It’s really rewarding though and it’s still a little odd seeing an idea that was in my head, on the Internet in the real world!
The production side of things was probably the biggest learning curve though. It takes a lot of time to get a crew together, to cast actors, to book kit, to location scout etc. and I don’t think I quite realised just how much time those things take. It meant that the film was pushed back a couple of times but it’s definitely something I’ve learnt from and a process that will become more streamlined with each film I make. I think on the next one I’ll have to delegate some of the responsibility to a Production Assistant, and luckily I know a few who I trust to do a better job than I could.
How was the overall experience and would you do anything differently if you were to do this again?
It was great fun, particularly on the shoot day and I had a great team around me who were all willing to get stuck in and make things work. I think on my next film, I’m going to try and up the comedy elements – I felt that First Time Buyer was a little slow at times, and could definitely have done with some more obvious humour to break the crippling awkwardness Bobby was facing (one of the first people I showed the film to actually commented on this and said she couldn’t help but feel sorry for Bobby more than anything, so perhaps next time it will need to be a little less intense to fit the genre!).
You've been working in the film industry since leaving University. How have your experiences helped you?
So for my day job I’m a freelance Runner and Production Assistant. I think it’s helped in a lot of ways. Although you don’t do anything particularly creative or exciting as a runner, being on set is invaluable for learning the roles in each of the departments, and that really helped me when it came to crewing up for my short. You also meet a lot of really unique and varied people who are just as eager to create some great content. It’s very hands on and being involved with every department has really solidified my determination to get to be a Writer and Director.
What advice would you give to others wishing to produce a short?
Make sure your concept is unique, well thought through and focused on your target audience. It’s worth spending the time getting that bit right, rather than rushing to film something that won’t be that great. Also don’t be put off by what other people say. It’s tough when your starting out, nobody wants to listen to someone young, or someone in a low position (film is very hierarchical), but to be brutally honest, fuck them. If you’ve got an idea, and it’s interesting to you, there will be an audience for it. There are a lot of people talking about what they would do, but never get round to it because other things get in the way, people put them off it, they couldn’t find the time or they got stuck in a job they didn’t want. So again it’s the self-motivation thing – you just have to get on and do it. The opportunity is out there, someone is gonna take it, so why shouldn’t it be you?
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on another short film at the moment, totally different to First Time Buyer, but I’m quite excited about it. It’s going to be a much bigger crew and a lot more locations (and I need to find a David Attenborough impersonator, if you can believe that!), but the plan is to have it filmed, edited and released before Christmas.
Other than that I’m looking to start pitching on some smaller budget commercials and music videos and see where I go from there.
In the long term I’d love to be at the forefront of gay film, whether by that point its all web series based or whether it’s feature films still, it’s an emerging genre and I think there is still so much to be said and so many characters ready to fill the void left by the great social change we’ve seen in our lifetimes. I’ve got a lot to say about it, so that’s where I will be in the future!

Follow Matt on YouTube for future releases.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Escaping to Switzerland

Last week, my lovely friend Sam invited me and some of our friends to stay in his chalet in Villars, Switzerland. So, very early on a Tuesday morning, we all piled into cars and set off towards the Channel Tunnel - we had a long drive ahead of us, but the beautiful Swiss mountains were waiting at the end of it!

Up until this trip, I had never visited Switzerland in the summer. It was a very different scene to the ski season - the mountains and villages were quiet and wonderfully green! Even better, the air was warm as the sun beat (for the most part) down on us.

Sam took us on the walks he and his family did when they were there, and so we found ourselves firstly jumping aboard a cable car (thankfully unburdened by skis!) and bobbing our way up the mountainside, before starting the surprisingly gruelling hike to lunch.

It was weird seeing the slopes which, on skis you wouldn't think were hard. However, with all the bare earth and rocks showing (and the odd tree stump!) I started to think just how terrifying some of the slopes were....

They were worth the climb though when you got to see views like these!

One mildly terrifying walk saw us balancing along a ridge at the peak of a mountain, sheer drops on either side! Luckily however we all made it across... Just!

My favourite walk however had to be when we found ourselves scrambling up a river, jumping from rock to rock, before deciding to go for a paddle (or in the boys' cases, a dunk) in the icy river.

Greg even had a Lion King moment...

...and I attempted a more of a Tarzan pose.

Part of the reason we'd come to Switzerland was to witness Swiss National Day, a big day of celebration in Switzerland on the 1st August each year. Unluckily, this year it absolutely bucketed it down with rain, and so the celebrations were somewhat dampened, but that didn't stop the Swiss Guard parading in the street, stamping their clog-like shoes as they marched, or a band of people playing the giant Swiss Alpine Horn!

We later watched the flashes of fireworks through the clouds from the chalet's balcony before retiring to a rather furious game of Articulate, Champagne glasses in hand, as the Swiss partied on into the night!

Switzerland in the Summer was just simply wonderful. Everywhere looked stunning, and the fresh mountain air was so welcome after living in polluted London. More so however, it was just great to go away with friends and some good quality time with them. So thank you Sam!