Posts Tagged ‘shop’

B&Q v Bunnings

Monday, November 17th, 2014

The weekend arrived once again and my inner Duracell Bunny was as eager as ever to get out and see something, do something, eat something. This nervous-twitch-like-habit that I have developed over the past for years of living in new cities is having to be managed by Sir Pubert Gladstone who owns a car and is therefore my instant chauffeur. So where did he take me this weekend for an exciting Saturday adventure?

The plumbing aisle in B&Q.

Believe it or not with a name like Sir Pubert, he is currently renovating a house and had some plumbing issues on Friday afternoon. That is not the time when you want leaking pipes. So to B&Q we went to find the necessary bits to control water flow.

Luckily for Sir Pubert, I love hardware stores. From a young age, I have looked forward to weekend trips with my Dad to Perth’s B&Q equivalent, Bunnings, helping him find the right nut and washer for the bolt and picking the straightest length of MDF. I love the smell of hardware stores and the range of ‘stuff’ you can buy. Then there’s the terrible 90s rock music that always seems to be playing and the special bins of additional paraphernalia that you didn’t realise you need but that may come in handy one day. I can wander the aisles for hours looking at tools, cuts of wood, plastic pipes, and screws and bolts, wondering what that strange shaped joining bit could be used for.

While waiting for Sir Pubert to find the right connection to fix his plastic pipe to metal hose issue, I tried to decide which hardware was better – B&Q or Bunnings? My final outcome is that really neither is better than the other. They are both understocked and never have the one thing you need. B&Q is slightly cleaner, which in my eyes isn’t necessarily a good thing. A hardware should be used, a bit dusty and kind of rough around the edges. It shouldn’t look like a homewares gift shop with shiny floors and clean aisles. So having come to the conclusion that neither hardware store lived up to my expectations I returned to trying to find a 35 degree push-fit pipe elbow.

Then we went to the supermarket.

Something you would definitely hope to find in a hardware store.

Something you would definitely hope to find in a hardware store.

Turning into a Northern Girl

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

I am going to blame the sudden arrival of sunshine and warm weather for my recent brain malfunction. Today is the first day I have worn clothes that could suggest ‘Summer time’ and I am not wearing boots. I repeat; I am not wearing boots. Remarkable! So perhaps the excess interaction between my skin, oxygen and sunlight is what resulted in me entering United Footwear on Oldham Street today.

I had popped into Abakhan’s fabric store to look for crafting materials I decided to take the scenic route back to the office. This resulted in me walking past United Footwear, a shoe store whose window display I had revered on many occasions but I had never dared enter. Shoes of all shapes, sizes, colours and taste are carefully aligned in the window with how-can-they-be-that-cheap price tags along side. Something in my brain (perhaps my inner girl) decided that today would be the day that I would go inside and check out the goods on offer.

The shop extends further that I expected, with rows of shoe racks (boys on the left, girls on the right) leading you down to the back of the store. I walked down the aisles slowly, unable to believe what I was seeing. Pointy toes, stiletto heels, sparkles, spikes, straps, buckles and faux leather in every colour you could imagine. Sandals, boots, wedding shoes, dancing shoes, work shoes, and more. There was even a wall of grandma slippers and fake Dr Martin boots. Shoe prices start from £2.99 with most averaging £9. Plastic was the key ingredient and my feet started sweating just as I stood looking at the shoes. But some strange alien part of me came to the surface and encouraged me to try on a pair. Black closed-toe heels. Perfect for work, wedding and going out. Remarkably comfortable for a £7 pair of plastic shoes with heels that made me feel like I would fall over. For a brief second I contemplated purchasing these shoes to wear to one of the three weddings I am attending during the summer months. They were simple, neat and oh-so-cheap! I suddenly imagined myself buying these and more shoes from this magnificent shoe heaven. Soon I would have a shoe collection as impressive as my housemate’s, whose shoes are hidden in plastic boxes scattered around our apartment.

But my newly discovered Mancunian disappeared as quickly as she appeared, and I remembered that I can’t actually walk in high heels and I don’t like purple ankle boots with spiky silver studs. I like boring flat shoes, mostly in red, that won’t cut, destroy or blister my feet or encourage me to fall over. I’m not saying I have anything against anyone who does like and wear these shoes – to the contrary, good on them. I would just look ridiculous, stumbling down the road in shoes that I can’t walk in. And so I left without having made any purchases. Part of me is a little bit sad. Maybe I’ll go and buy a short lycra dress from Primark instead.

So What is that Shop…?

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Today I vowed to be good and have a day of writing, writing, writing, with zero procrastination and zero slacking off. I had been doing so well until I started looking up addresses for shops in my neighbourhood and I found a link that has completely overwhelmed me. I have been in Paris now for almost two years and during that time have frequently walked past a sign pointing down a small alleyway declaring there is a British and Irish store in that direction. I have never investigated further but in the last thirty minutes I have developed an extreme urge to grab my jacket and run out the door, down the street and enter this SHOP OF HEAVEN.

I have decided that if I write about my experience on here then the past thirty minutes of online-browsing could be considered ‘research’ for this blog entry and therefore I was never procrastinating at all. So here we go!

I’m not entirely sure why L’Epicerie Anglaise has captured my attention so much considering almost everything it sells is over processed, plastic and/or full of sugar, fat and artificial sweeteners. Perhaps it is because I am being transported back to a time when I was a young, innocent child and wanted to eat these things (although whether or not I was allowed to is another point entirely.) Maybe it is also because today I am having a ‘no cake day’ and so a Cadbury’s Crunchie chocolate bar or an entire packet of ginger nuts are sounding REALLY GOOD.

Mmm... Gingernuts...

Mmm… Gingernuts…

Some of the products are actually appealing or it would have been useful to know I could purchase them just down the road a lot earlier during my time in Paris. Golden Syrup and some decent oats, for example, for making my ANZAC biscuits. The Carrs table water crackers would have come in handy for the many cheese and wine nights I have attended, and while not the best for me, some dark chocolate covered digestive biscuits would have gone down nicely. And what did I have to return to Australia to purchase? Vegemite. And there it was on a shelf just down the road from me. Sure, slightly over priced at 4.50Euros for 220grams but that’s a lot cheaper than a return flight to Perth.

Oh dear, I have looked too far and discovered they sell red Creaming Soda, one of my all time favourite beverages that (at least when I was child and drank the stuff) makes me go completely hyperactive. I should stop looking and return to writing my book about Paris, although I now realise that I have a new addition to my guide to the 10eme – for all your expat needs!

They even sell Pop Tarts... I was never allowed these as a child. As a full grown adult, I could now choose to buy them!

They even sell Pop Tarts… I was never allowed these as a child. As a full grown adult, I could now choose to buy them!

Sunday Afternoon Surprises

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

One of the things that I love most about Paris is that you can be walking aimlessly through the city and stumble across things that you never expected. Today I had Japanese Bento for lunch at Le Marché des Enfants Rouges and then walked home, criss-crossing through streets in the Marais. I saw a row of coloured balloons up Rue de Charlot and decided that could only mean good things, so headed towards the large bunch to see what was happening.

Balloons on Rue Charlot


Inside an amazing glass-walled atelier space was a design market, with local designers selling clothes, jewellery and other accessories. I had a wander and saw some bags hanging from a clothes rack. On first sight they looked like nice enough leather bags, but the designer came up and started speaking to me and then I discovered that these were not just your average bag.

Margherita Matticari, a petite and sweet Italian girl, has created the most practical, useful and beautiful bags that I have ever seen. Made from soft Italian leather, the bag can be reversed, zipped, unzipped, with handles, without handles, long, short, everywhich way up. There are pockets for everything and you can drape your jackets through the middle of it. As she showed it to me, my jaw fell to the floor with pure joy and amazement. These bags are hand made in her atelier (beunperfect) and are just BEAUTIFUL.

They come in different sizes and have different variances and different pockets and some can be turned into a ‘going out at night bag’ and others are more for the day time and fit your laptop etc etc. Just pure wow. This bag has amazed me because it fulfils my aesthetic AND my practical requirements. Beautiful bags are usually impractical to use, and practical bags are generally hideous. This ticked all boxes AND it is made by a lovely person!

They are expensive… but fair enough. The quality of the workmanship and the materials PLUS the PURE GENIUS that goes behind them. So if anyone is currently scratching their head trying to think of what to buy me for Christmas, your problem has just been solved. I WANT THIS. Except in red leather. Thank you.

Totally Wonderfully Awesome Prints for Sale!

Monday, October 8th, 2012


I spent my Friday and Saturday framing, hanging, photographing, photoshopping and uploading copies of my work to my Etsy Store! Now you can buy one of my pieces for yourself, your best friend, your wife or even your dog! There’s something for everyone! So come one, come all, and bring your Visa card. You’ll be making a fine investment AND helping the “Make Jess a Famous Artist” fund!

Bad Bananas Zaum print

Bad Bananas

Paris in His Eyes Zaum print

Paris in His Eyes

Spontaneous Ice Cream Zaum print

Spontaneous Ice Cream


Birthdaying With the BoBos

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

I did it! I made it to the ripe old age of 27! What an achievement. Thankfully people think I am still in my early 20s thanks to my innocent-blonde appearance so I am quite happy to quietly grow old.

I spent my birthday with my parents and my mum’s cousin and his wife who had popped over from Holland for the day. It was lovely – the sun shone all day despite the forecast predicting clouds and I managed to eat plenty of good food. I had chosen to go to a restaurant called Le Cul de Poule (The Arse of a Chicken or also the name of the metal bowls used in kitchens) but the chef was in an accident and hence there was no food that day. Luckily we were up near Montmartre when I discovered I wasn’t going to be fed, right near my never fail, always good restaurant, Le Jardin d’en Face. There was one table available, outside and away from the smokers and my birthday ended with delicious steak with blue cheese sauce and THE WORLD’S BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE. To be honest I’m not sure why I even thought about trying a new place and missing out on this delight. It was the perfect way to end my day.

Chocolate cake

Nom nom nom…

Last night I claimed the usual Friday night gathering in the Récollets garden as a belated birthday party for myself and my friend, Chuck. My school friend, Nina was in town, and I invited a few randoms from outside the residency and it was a really enjoyable evening with wonderful friends, great cheese and awesome cake. The highlight was blowing out birthday candles as all of my friends and a garden full of Parisian BoBos sang happy birthday to me and Chuck. This is the second birthday I have had where a large number of random strangers have sung happy birthday to me and I never imagined the hip and cool BoBo crowd would actually participate in a sing-along. But sing they did, en anglais!

My friend Becky and Vivien hunted down an AMAZING chocolate cake from an amazing pâtisserie in St Germain called La Pâtisserie des Rêves (Pastry store of dreams) and fall into a state of dream-like bliss I did. It was a soft, smooth dark chocolate mousse cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate icing and small pieces of chocolate biscuit through it. Seriously amazing. There is even a movie about my cake. Merci beaucoup, mes amies!

Why I Hate Office Depot

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Much like OfficeWorks in Perth, Paris has one large stationery chain store that is astonishingly useless. At least OfficeWorks isn’t THAT overpriced, while France’s OfficeDepot likes to make you pay big bucks for not much in return. I am reasonably certain that I have complained about them on here before but here we go again. Round Two.

For a few weeks I have been slowly draining the ink from the cartridges in my printer, hoping that through some miracle they will just refill themselves for free. Sadly, this hasn’t happened and as I need to print boarding passes for my flight to Bilbao on Friday I thought I had better buy some ink.

So I memorised the number on the ink cartridge and the model of my printer and headed down the road and around the corner to my nearest OfficeDepot. I was in a bit of a rush as I was expecting guests in the next half hour or so but I figured it couldn’t take THAT long to buy ink. Surely.

For some reason the ink cartridges were located behind a counter so I had to wait for someone to serve me. This being France, there wasn’t a huge rush for this to happen. Eventually it was my turn and the overly excitable (that is a lie) salesman asked how he could help me. It wasn’t a good start when I realised I wasn’t sure what the word for ‘ink cartridge’ was but I had a guess and it was a good one and asked for an HP 301 cartouche.

Cartridge 301 doesn’t exist.
Umm… but that’s what it says on my printer and on the cartridge.
No, that isn’t possible, it doesn’t exist.
If you can tell me the reference number on the cartridge I can tell you what you need, otherwise there is nothing I can do.
Well it says 301.
Ok bye.

So I stood in OfficeDepot trying to find some sort of information on the HP website about what ink cartridge I needed, only to get even more infuriated as the HP website is as useless as their printers. So home I went, determined to prove to the grumpy sales guy that I was right and he was wrong. I got home, opened the printer et VOILA! A big fat 301 was printed on the ink cartridge. And so back to the shop I went with my evidence.

There was now a long queue and I was eventually served by a different guy who actually smiled. Miracle! I showed him my cartridge and said “I’d like a new one, please.” MIRACLE OF MIRACLES he turned around and pulled a 301 cartridge from the shelf. Clearly in the time it had taken my to go home, get the cartridge and return to the shop they had restocked their shelves and HP had invented a 301 ink cartridge. I was a little disappointed that the first rude guy hadn’t served me so I couldn’t make some sort of sarcastic comment about how he had been wrong, but the happier salesman was significantly nicer and he took my old cartridge away and gave me a rebate for recycling it at their store! HA HA! TAKE THAT, GRUMPY FRENCH MAN!

HP ink cartridge

Macgyver knew the 301 existed. He knows everything.

A Little Bit of Paris

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

This is a beautiful video about the oldest piano store in Paris. Just glorious.

La Mer de Pianos from Films & Things on Vimeo.


Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The other week I bought two dresses from a store called Cos. I have just been at their website because I love their shop and want more and I think everyone needs to go and visit it. So cool.


Yes please.

Sunday, Lovely Sunday

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Every now and then I fall in love with Paris all over again. I am always ‘in like’ with this city but every now and then I see something or do something or discover something that makes me completely infatuated. Yesterday was a delightfully sunny Sunday in gay Paris and as it was the first Sunday of the month, all of the museums and art galleries were open for free. BRILLIANT. Tom and I met a visiting Perth-ian, Amanda, at L’Orangerie – an ex-orangery, or Napoleon III’s greenhouse, that now houses Monet’s water lilies.

The glass building contains two curved-walled rooms which allow you to be surrounded by eight of Monet’s works. It is one of my favourite places in Paris – when there aren’t many people in the rooms it is a particularly relaxing experience. The free-entry did mean that there were far too people in the gallery yesterday but I highly recommend the L’Orangerie to anyone visiting Paris. I plan on visiting the real garden in Giverny sometime soon. I think I might wait until after the French holidays when tourist numbers die down. There are so many people around at the moment – it’s a bit overwhelming.


So pretty.

After the gallery we headed into Saint Germain for food before we headed to the Shakespeare and Co bookshop. WOW. I love bookshops but I never knew I could feel this amazed by books on shelves. Shakespeare and Co is an English bookshop near Notre Dame that I had read about but never been to. On one of the tours that I have been on lately, the guide pointed out the bookshop so off I went to see why it was so amazing. Every single book you could possibly imagine is in this place. The room is a mess of shelves, covered in books of various sizes, ages, quality. There are chairs where you can sit and read (if you are lucky enough to score one as the shop was full of people) and upstairs is a library full of old books that you can read at your leisure on one of their couches. It is a bookshop of intellect and cultural development – there were so many books on philosophy, history, art and cultural theory. I couldn’t buy anything I was too overwhelmed by what I was seeing. I need to go back when it isn’t a Sunday afternoon and the place isn’t full of English-speakers. I almost asked if they had any jobs available and probably will next time I am there. It was one of those dream-like places that you see in movies. I can’t wait to go back.

Shakespeare and Co

Look at it! So lovely...