When I first moved to N7 five years ago, I was a reluctant N7 naysayer. Firstly we hadn't found the DREAMY Victorian/Georgian garden flat, which I initially had in mind and was cursing the cold box-esque industrial space, which we ended up taking just to prevent me and Steve from having another moving-induced squabble. Secondly, having grown up in North London, I knew Holloway Road as kebab mile – a long-ass road of countless kebab and fried chicken shops, which would have been fine had they actually sold kebabs and fried chicken of any merit. Five years down the line and I'm hanging on the coat tails of N7; clutching on to the convenience of having the Piccadilly AND the Victoria line right by me, soaking up every roar of a goal coming from Arsenal Emirates stadium and breathing in that inevitable smell of burnt sausages and Chinese food on match days. I do heart N7 for its out-of-fashion locale and its not-quite-cool-as-East and but not-quite-posh-as-North positioning.
I will be completing a summer move over to the murky depths of Clapton soon. Or so says my solicitor, who I'm stalking every day incessantly. I am ending my renting days and moving on to the odious thing that is the "property ladder". It's probable that it isn't in fact a move up but a step sideways into another bit of treacherous financial territory but I'm excited nonetheless. Therefore, as a final tribute to N7, which has had to put up with so many impromptu shoots for the blog (Grazia, Elle, Vogue, numerous Japanese/Korean/Chinese magazines – sorry you guys had to slum it momentarily in my hovel), why I thought I'd take part in another shoot just to annoy the hell out of the normal folk around here!
Louis Vuitton asked me to show them around my gaff on one of their Amble tours. The Amble also coincides with the 80th anniversary of their No√© bag, probably the most "me" out of the Louis Vuitton iconic bags because of its casual drawstring bucket shape, ability to stuff loadsa things in and the fact that it looks like it could take a proper bashing. Oh, and it was originally created in 1932 to tote around five bottles of champagne. The No√© has been downsized into a Petit size and comes in a ton of delicious coloured Epi leather as well as the usual Damier and Monogram. Along the way I mixed up Louis Vuitton's now mucho-recognisable S/S 13 collection, some of their cruise stuff and a few bits of my own clothing to amble around the N7/N5/N1 area. Should you ever find yourself up in this hood (Did you stay too long on the bus? Did you get off the wrong tube stop? Are you in fact looking for the Best Kebab in London?), here's a rundown of my favourite local spots…
Arsenal Emirates Stadium – When I was at uni, to fund my fashion habit, I took up silver service waitressing at various football clubs with the old Arsenal Highbury ground being my preferred spot. It was an awesome time to breathe in Arsenal air. The team were literally invincible. I served Thierry Henry a drink. In my head, he may have said "Va-va-voom." Life was good. Now we're collectively breathing sighs of relief when we scrape fourth place and grasping for greatness but still, I have loved soaking that tension up, whilst being a stone's throw away from the stadium. You can hear the goals before they come on TV and I really heart the dude who sells Arsenal merchandise outside my flat. "What funny outfit are you wearing today?" he asks. I give him a twirl and ask him what's the score and then attempt to hold a convo about footie. It's positively ace and I will get strange yearnings to sniff that match day burger van stench when I move away.
Assiette Anglaise – It's a sign of middle class malaise when you get properly excited at the news of a vaguely upmarket restaurant/bistro opening in your area. Steve and I were so eager to try Assiette Angalise when it opened about a year ago that we got in there during opening week. It's a lovely all-day spot for brekkie, lunch and dinner and if you care about this sort of guff, the head chef cut his teeth at Petrus and Racine so that gets even more middle-class thumbs up. Did chortle at the fact that a very French Louis Vuitton team came over to shoot my area and we found ourselves in a very French bistro.
Highbury Fields – I'm the sort of person that really appreciates green spaces but within the safety net of an urban surrounding. For instance it was awesome to go hang out up in Hampstead Heath and find a spot to drink cider and listen to Placebo on minidisc after school but also amazing to be able to get the tube down to Camden in fifteen minutes, for a proper night out. Highbury Fields is a much smaller bit of green space, but ever so pretty when you look at the swish houses surrounding this semi-circular patch. When I was training for the half marathon, this was where I went to feel extra bad about myself when I looked at all the other super-fit health-conscious people, which Highbury invariably has in abundance.
Le P√©ch√© Mignon – Ah….Le P√©ch√©! This is probably my most frequented spot out of the list here. It might be in N5 as opposed to N7 but it's literally a block away from my flat and so over the years, Steve and I have collectively splurged a princely fortune on flat whites, toasted salami and artichoke sandwiches and croissaints here. The staff are super friendly, there's always a good selection of weekend newspapers and in the summer it's nice to sit in the back garden bit. Again, the Frenchy Louis Vuitton crew were impressed by the fact that they had an authentic selection of French biscuits and confectionary available to buy. Whilst there's a burgeoning army of coffee shops opening up in Clapton, it will be hard to find a real equal to Le P√©ch√©. I'll be coming back for old time's sake.
Estorick Collection – So apparently Emma Watson lives somewhere on Canonbury Square where Estorick Collection is. That's the little fact I learnt on the day we did this shoot. Lucky her as she's a hop and a skip away from this bijoux gallery with a fairly substantial Futurist collection of works. I saw a really great Missoni exhibition here once, which is how I found it and have always appreciated the fact that there is this veritable culture spot on the fringes of Kebab Mile.
The Pig and Butcher - Ok, so this is technically in Angel, which of course is more well-known for its chi-chi delights but because it's on Liverpool Road which is still walking distance from my house, I had to include it only because it's probably my nearest, most delish gastropub. It's fairly new and has been making a name for its decent grub. It's very important to know where in my vicinity I can immediately get my feeding of a wide range of meaty dishes, which the Pig and Butcher does very well.
The Louis Vuitton Amble also included some of the other spots where I didn't swan around wearing Louis Vuitton in…
Shop 162 Vintage – I'm slightly petrified of the lady who mans this ramshackle vintage shop because she always scowls at you if you peruse and don't buy. But again, I do love that this place exists in between the Nigerian night club and the betting shop. The stuff is of the smelly student vintage ilk but I've found some really cute printed dresses and varsity jackets here.
Ooh-La-La – In addition to having an abundance of kebab shops, the Highbury end of Holloway Road does seem to excel in vintage furniture stores and Ooh La La is my favourite for being the most competiviely priced and having the most varied selection. We went on mini-sprees here when we first moved to Holloway and then quickly had to resist going, as we had run out of square footage for furniture. I'll be back here to peruse when I get a whole new set of square feet space to play around with.
Gill Wing Cook Shop – I LOVE cookware shops. I harbour a very serious fascination with looking at the sheer range of kitchenware that's out there. I may have zero need for a melon baller, a Japanese mandoline or a teensy tiny and insanely expensive Le Creuset pot but I sure love looking at them. If Gill Wing doesn't have something, it probably isn't worth having in the kitchen at all, because it's definitely one of the best kitchen spots I've been to and has saved me on many a cooking occasion.
Piebury Corner - I thought I'd end with another Gooner-related spot and whilst this sheeny shiny store is a fairly new addition to Holloway Road, it is rooted to a famed street stall, which serves up pies to footie fans on match days. If you're a Gooner, you'll appreciate the excellent names of the pies – hows about a Dennis Bergcamp (chicken and leek) or a Thierry Henry (venison and red wine) pie? If you're just into pies period, they apparently scored an impressive 6.5 out of 7 on the Pierate website. Oh, and their scotch eggs are pretty good too.