Listen to a Londoner: Daisy Coole

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Daisy Coole, 26

Daisy Coole is a jazz and session musician who has temporarily swapped touring Europe for organising the biggest and best cupcake extravaganza this country has ever seen. Cupcake Camp London will feature thousands of cupcakes and raise money for the North London Hospice, who looked after Daisy’s father until he died in March 2010.

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the city throughout your life? Anything in particular you miss?
DC: I miss being able to walk down a street without being knocked over by a 4×4, controversial as I’m sure that is! Drivers try to fit these ridiculously wide cars down the narrow backstreets of London. Use public transport or buy a smaller car! Or walk! I often have to travel with at least two saxophones, a music stand and some hefty sheet music, as well as my boyfriend’s bass and amp but I don’t need a mini truck to transport me across London: my little Ford Fiesta does the job. We are blessed with a brilliant transport system in this city. Except when you want to get from Kilburn to Hampstead. Then it’s a pain. Why isn’t there a connecting line between the Jubilee line and the Northern line before Kings Cross?

LLO: You’re a jazz musician. What’s your favourite London venue to play and what’s special about it?
DC: When I toured Europe last year, some of the best gigs were to hundreds of people in small Swiss cities, so it’s somewhat ironic that my favourite venue to play in the huge city of London is the Green Note in Camden. It’s a tiny vegetarian restaurant and live music venue which has the most incredible atmosphere. The audience are literally at your feet and you often have to swing round to avoid the waitresses as they pass between the rooms but you feel them take every step with you as you perform. Plus the food is amazing – always a bonus at a gig.

LLO: What the best thing about living in your postcode?
DC: I grew up in Hampstead and although it took me 12 years (aged 12-24) I moved back into the area as soon as I could, albeit to Gospel Oak! From my house I can walk to the posh cobbled streets of Hampstead Village, the eclectic and somewhat grubby Camden Town or the bustling (polite word for overcrowded and crazy) central London! Most importantly I’m back near Hampstead Heath, park of my childhood and the scene of many fond memories. It’s also my memorial place for my father who died last March. We scattered his ashes on top of Parliament Hill and you can see the whole of central London, particularly Fleet Street, where he spent so many years as a journalist. There is something overwhelming and yet calming about sitting on a bench on the hill and imagining the thousands of trials and tribulations taking place down in those streets. I find it peaceful.

LLO: One of your ideal escapes is an armchair in a cosy café. Share your top three comfy cafes?
DC: I hate to sound cliche but number one has to be the Starbucks in South End Green, NW3, because it’s right next to my gym – caffeine and comfort when I need it most! There used to be an amazing cafe in Camden called the Bean & Cup, which had huge sofas to sink into and loads of newspapers in the back room. They also did a divine Strawberry Latte, which I’ve never found anywhere else. My third recommendation is Proud Galleries in Camden: a gallery and live music venue with gorgeously decorated stables, in which you can hang out and have a coffee while browsing the internet, playing Wii or watching TV. The best room is pink with a big white wicker throne and loads of hanging plants. It’s also the venue for Cupcake Camp London.

LLO: As the organiser of Cupcake Camp London, give us a rundown of what to expect and why we should sign up to attend immediately.
DC: Cupcake Camp London is the first of it’s kind in this country, having started in San Francisco two years ago and travelled via New York, Paris and Sydney (among others). It is an incredible day where London’s amateur and professional bakers can bring down their best cupcakes to share with the public and raise money for the North London Hospice. There will be live bands, Frosting Shot Girls, a tombola and a silent auction where you can win seven nights at a gorgeous hotel in India! Bakers can even enter the cupcake competitions, judged by the founders of Primrose Bakery, legendary food writer, Mary Berry, supreme political strategist, Alastair Campbell and the winner of BBC’s Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber. We have almost 2,000 cupcakes pledged so far and need lots more so sign up on the website www.cupcakecamplondon.co.uk and join us!

LLO:Favourite London bakery and best thing they serve?
DC: I’m a big fan of Primrose Bakery and bought their book while my father was in the North London Hospice. Cue much excitement when they agreed to be judges at Cupcake Camp London! Their bakery in Primrose Hill is almost painfully gorgeous with its yellow shopfront and pastel-coloured interior. I celebrated my birthday there last year with my oldest friends from school and we shared about eight different cupcakes between us. I think my favourite has to be the Lime and Coconut cupcake although it’s almost an impossible decision.

LLO: I hear you’re up for a cupcake tour of London… Tell us the starting point, the ending point, and not-to-miss stop off in the middle.
DC: Bake-a-boo in West Hampstead is the perfect starting point, particularly for anybody with allergies. It is also delightfully pink and girly and they do wonderful ‘Afternoon Teas’ on cake stands for Hen parties and the like. Crumbs & Doilies have a stall in Covent Garden, among other places, and were one of the first companies to support Cupcake Camp London by donating a prize. They do a great ‘name this cupcake’ competition on their website every month and whoever does their piping is a genius – Johnny Depp in icing is quite a sight! Lastly I would travel down to Greenwich Market and visit our Cupcake Camp Vegan judge, Ms Cupcake. Discard any preconceptions you have of vegan cake: these are delectable and rich and not at all healthy… love it!

LLO: After all those cupcakes, what’s a fun way you’ve found to work it off and stay fit?
DC: Most of the cupcakes I bake go straight into the bellies of my boyfriend and his friends, thank God! If they’re not around, I try to get the cupcakes out of the house as quickly as possible to avoid becoming as big as a house. I’m captain of a social league netball team in Islington and we’ve just won our league for the third season in a row, with a random assortment of teachers, hotel executives, insurance brokers and corporate PA’s. Come to think of it, they always complain that I never bring them cupcakes so I should probably get baking before they start a mutiny.

LLO: I’m in London for one night only and want to get off the tourist trail. Where would you recommend I go to eat and drink?
DC: La Porchetta in Chalk Farm produce delicious pizza and pasta in a lovely setting. I was taken there for Valentine’s Day a while ago and keep meaning to go back! Alternatively, the Pizza Express in Kentish Town is in the most incredible Art Deco building, with a floor to ceiling mirror design and wide, sweeping features. I think they have planning permission to tear it down, which would be a disaster as it’s the most beautiful building in the area. The best place for drinks is FiftyFive Bar, down the road in Camden. They serve 180 different cocktails and have a 2-4-1 offer from 6-8pm on Monday-Saturday. Definitely get there before 7pm, though, because it get seriously busy at the bar! If only it didn’t clash with my netball league, I’d also be there every Monday for ‘Mojito Madness’: 2-4-1 on all 12 Mojitos. Genius.

LLO: Best London discovery?
DC: My boyfriend keeps nagging me to get a bike so we can cycle the Regent’s Canal from Camden Lock to Limehouse and the Thames. The path is a bit narrow at Regent’s Park but it’s almost a direct route to the Primrose Bakery – result!

Thanks Daisy!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

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Gorilla Silent Disco

Look at all the fun I missed the other day…! Martin Payne added these great Gorilla Silent Disco photos of the Flickr Pool. Where else but London do you see a bunch of giant gorillas dancing on a bridge?

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The gorillas danced for 30 minutes, raising awareness for the upcoming Great Gorilla Run, which is raising money for the Gorilla Organization’s conservation programme. The run is expected to bring about 700 gorillas to the streets of London so don’t be alarmed on September 26th when they take over…

Little Londoner with a Big Heart

It doesn’t seem so long ago that my brother and I would set up a lemonade stall on our suburban New York street waiting for thirsty grown-ups to walk by and pay us a few cents for a glass. Usually, it was just a few stragglers and grandma dressed up as a stranger trying to trick us into thinking she was a real customer. At the end of the day, we would take down our lopsided “Lemonade 4 Sale” sign, divvy up the coins and head to the Corner Store to gorge ourselves on penny candy.

On Sunday, heading back over to Brick Lane from Columbia Road Flower Market with my visiting family, we stopped by a small girl with a little wooden bear stool selling tiny cupcakes she decorated herself. She was 8-years-old and standing there alone by the pathway. She wasn’t at all intimidated by nine adults towering over her asking questions.

“How much are your cupcakes?”
She replied, “They’re a donation.”
“How much do people usually donate?”
“About one pound,” she said.

Photo taken by Pat Sadler

After she answered more questions about the treats topping each one – dark chocolate, sprinkles, Smarties, we asked what she was going to spend her money on.

“I’m not keeping it,” she explained slowly. “It’s for a charity, for an orphanage in South Africa, for children, so they can have a nicer place to live.”

How precious is that?  

Guest Post: Boutique Run in Battersea Park

Claire Watson got in touch last week to offer us (well, the female half of us, anyway – sorry guys!) a discount on a great event coming up in July. It involves running in the park, massage, goodie bags and champagne to keep the spirit up at an after-party. Plus, it’s for a good cause, so I asked her to share the details here….

 

Any London ladies who love running will know that the Sunday morning runs can be a bit of a bind on your Saturday night social life, but there’s a new run that’s happening this summer which will let you lovely ladies enjoy your running whilst spending quality time with your girlfriends.

Boutique Run is a unique night out for the girls: a scenic 5km or 10km followed by entertainment and pampering.  We’re talking free champagne, hot showers, massage, a fabulous after-party and most importantly a special ‘Bouti’ bag full of goodies.

The evening’s festivities will be taking place in Battersea Park, 6pm on 10th July 2010.

And if you fancy an even more guilt free night out why not do something good for charity? Boutique Run is supporting Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a pioneering charity saving lives and changing futures, through research campaigning and education – removing the fear of breast cancer for good.

What’s more, we have secured a 25% discount off the entry fee for you all.  To claim the discount register online and enter code: OBS2.

Boutique Run will be best enjoyed with your girlfriends and you can sign them up for 25% off too, so why not guarantee them a place as well and enjoy this great night out together.

Sign up here; www.boutiquerun.com

Make Way for The Elephant Parade

In a few days, central London will be transformed into an urban jungle with 250 life-size baby elephants standing on street corners, parks and buildings around the capital. Each elephant is a unique creation by an artist, fashion designer, organisation or celebrity, including painter Mythili Thevendrampillai who was featured for London Art Spot at the end of February.

Mythili and ElephantI took this shot of Mythili with her painted baby elephant at her show in March.

Some other artists to look out for include Alice Temperley, Baroness Carrie von Reichardt (who I just mentioned here the other day), Diane von Furstenberg, Lulu Guinness, Matthew Williamson, Tommy Hilfiger and lots more.

The Elephant Parade has been called London’s biggest outdoor art event on record with an estimated audience of an impressive 25 million. Not only is it creative, but it’s for a good cause: conservation of the Asian elephant. In the last 100 years, the population of these wild guys has shrunk by over 90%. Where there were once 250,000 elephants roaming about, now there’s only 25,000 which means they could be extinct by in about 40 years. The Elephant Parade was founded by father and son Mike and Marc Spits in Holland. The parade supports a charity called The Elephant Family founded by trustee Mark Shand after travelling around India on his elephant, Tara.

The jungle beasts are in the city until the end of July when they will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s. The campaign is aiming to raise £2 million for the Asian elephant and benefit 20 UK conservation charities.

There’s a map here. If you find an elephant, snap a photo, stick it in the Flickr pool if you like and I’ll put ’em up on the blog.

More info on everything here!