Thursday, 24 December 2020

Lady Crimplene's Kitschmas

 Last Christmas I visited my friend Helen Desai, aka Lady Crimplene, at her home just off the Triangle. You may know the colourful lady C from her vintage clothing sales on Haynes Lane and elsewhere. Well, her love of all things vintage extends to her Christmas decorations. We all need a bit of distraction at the moment, so feast your eyes on this joyful seasonal extravaganza.

Merry Christmas all!

Rupert & Janet

Monday, 7 December 2020

The Vaults Collective

Do you remember when we used to have actual banks on the high street? In our case, a Lloyds and a Barclays on Westow Hill. And didn't they usually have a neglected plant lurking in the corner? Usually a fig tree or rubber plant. Well never has one bank branch been as full of lush plants as the former Barclays, which has just reopened as The Vaults Collective. Currently the collective consists of Sanne Wigbels's house plants business, Ivy & The Wolf, and Fay de Vlieghere's La Mouche Bakes, a vegan café and cake shop. Sanne, from The Netherlands, and Fay from Belgium, met while both living in Antwerp. It transpired that they were both dating the same man. On discovering this, he was naturally given the boot by them both, and happily the girls became good friends. Sanne moved to London 6 years ago, and embarked on a career in retail, working for G Star, and Scotch & Soda. She also started collecting houseplants, but was frustrated by the lack of choice available, with other shops tending to stick to the same old range. So inevitably her passion for sourcing unusual plants eventually became a business, selling online and at markets. The name, Ivy & The Wolf, refers to the redhead Poison Ivy, villainess of DC Comics, and perhaps Sanne's role model! And Wolf, being the name of her pet dog.                                                                                                                                      Stepping through the stuccoed wedding cake Victorian entrance with it's heads adorning the keystones, and past the giant overhanging leaves of the Alocasia Macrorrhiza, the bright high ceilinged space is part tropical winter garden, and part 70s conservatory café, with whicker furniture looking completely at home in their lush surroundings. The café is Fay's domain, serving a range of delicious vegan cakes, and coffee served with non dairy alternatives to milk. She started her baking business nearly 2 years ago, and for a while supplied brownies to 4 Boroughs café around the corner, also training as a barista there. Check out her website for amazing decorative cakes she makes to order. She once dreamed of opening a café in Prague, but then sensibly chose Crystal Palace. Likewise Sanne was drawn to SE19 by it's independent vibe which suited her business idea perfectly. In fact, while the first lockdown was initially a disaster for her, as she'd resigned her retail position just days before, thus missing out on any possible furlough scheme, she soon discovered that with everyone stuck at home, the time was perfect for a houseplant business. The whole place has a fun relaxed vibe, which will be so much the better when you are allowed to actually enjoy your coffee and (substantial) cake seated indoors.                                                                                                                   The vaults are still in situ in the basement apparently, and it's hoped that as the collective expands, that space can be opened up to house other creative outlets. So far this is such a great re-use of an empty shop, let's hope their initial 6 month lease proves to be the start of a much longer tenancy.

Alocasia Macrorrhiza

Euphorbia Variegata cactus

Begonia Red Ruby

Crassula Ovata "Gollum"



61 Westow Hill