If I were in London right now, I’d love to see London through the eyes of Londoners*. And so, I interview them. This time the Londoner in my “cross-examination” is Emily Chalmers – stylist, shop-owner of Caravan and writer of several books on interior design and styling.
How long have you been living in London?
I’ve been here for over 20 years now….. it still feels new sometimes!
Where are you originally from and what brought you to London?
I moved here for work after finishing an arts degree course. I was in West Sussex prior to the move. I was brought up in the countryside and London couldn’t be more different, but it’s become my home and I can’t imagine ever leaving!
I get around London…:
a) … with my eyes closed – I really know every alley…
b) … still carrying my A-Z guide with me where-ever I go.
c) … in a cab.
d) Other: …
Well, to be completely honest it totally depends on where I am in London – it’s such a huge city. I live in East London and even though I’ve been here for years and walk miles on foot every week, I can still turn a corner and find something new.
What are things you’ve never done in London that are high on your to-do-list?
I don’t think my list comes to an end here! I would like to have a tour on a London Duck – those strange car / boats that travel on land and sea. Though I’ve nipped into Kew Gardens before, I’d like to spend a day there….
Your latest London-discovery (shop/restaurant/museum/whatever) everyone should know of/go to:
I have always been interested in independent enterprise and people that have a passion for what they do. In my neighbourhood there are lots of interesting little businesses and a couple that have spung up over the past few months include the specialist wine shop ‘259 Hackney Road’ – this little place is owned and run by a french couple who really know their stuff. They import wines from independent growers in France. Another quirky outlet is Oliver’s coffee hatch on Columbia Road where a local tenant has opened the front of his entrance hallway and set up a coffee machine. Why not?!
Imagine, you feel like getting tired of London: what place/area/sight will always convince you otherwise and why?
Again, another hard question….. I think my answer would be a market visit to pep up my interest in the town again. Perhaps Brick Lane for some bric-a-brac or Columbia Road for the flowers…..The view down the Thames either side from London Bridge is rather fantastic too – especially on a clear bright day.
If you could change one thing about London, it would be…
More blue skies, less rain…. Less dirt and homlessness. Sorry, that’s not on thing!
Apart from “home” what place in London is best to charge your battery?
A good walk along a canal , either way from Broadway Market.
When is London most beautiful?
London is always beautiful – be it when you enter the city over a bridge at night time and the air comes alive with all the twinkling light; or perhaps early in the morning when it’s quiet for a (little) while and the intense ‘busyness’ of the place hasn’t quite got into gear yet.
Where can you get the best view of London?
I recently visited a friend in his new 4th floor apartment in Bethnal Green – his place looked out over the city to one side and Canary Wharf to the other – that was a pretty darn good view!Another view would be back over on London Bridge looking over the River Thames again.Crystal Palace has some cracking views too!
Cycling in London is…:
Dangerous, free-ing, exhilarating, scary, often cold.
What, according to you, is the best song / poem ever written about London and why?
I love them all! …. And, as I’m finding it impossible to choose just one, I’d like to include this link from Time Out so you can have a taste of how much choice there is out there!
The most interesting /funny / bizar fact about London you wanna share…:
An interesting fact my husband brought to my attention is how many rivers have been built over…
Thanks for sharing these interesting tips, places and facts Emily! New ideas and to do’s for me, that’s for sure…
Emily’s shop Caravan is located on 5 Ravenscroft Street (London E2 7SH) and is currently open by appointment only. For shop-appointments, your early-morning or lunch-break web-shoppings visit her website. Emily’s books on interior design and styling are also available through the webshop; just follow this link.
Caravan is on Twitter and facebook so follow and like this lovely and unique shop!
* Londoner – a person either born and bred in London, or living in London for a significant number of years.
All questions © Tess van der Staal, Amsterdam 2012