Monday, 31 March 2014

puffin & ponies

A few months ago I rather abruptly (and randomly) became interested in needlepoint. I tried a few different patterns but after a couple of weeks or so, I put my frame and tapestry wool to one side and promptly forgot about them. Then, last week, I dug them out thanks to a brainwave about what to make my mum for mother's day. And here he is, a little needlepoint puffin (she loves puffins).
This doesn't happen very often, but he actually turned out exactly as I'd imagined him. Needlepoint is incredibly satisfying, if a little labour intensive. I simply drew the puffin on the canvas and basically coloured him in with stitches. It's in no way perfect but my mum liked him anyway and I might have a go at trying to make another animal...
Yesterday, what with it being mother's day and all, my family headed down to the New Forest to see my auntie and uncle. The gorgeous weather, lots of cake and the presence of the ponies meant that it really was a perfect day.

On saturday I did something un-thinkable: I went to Oxford Street. Yes, I know, only crazy people go anywhere near there on a saturday but I can assure you, it was for a good cause. I needed to go to Berwick Street to pick up one of the fabrics for my wedding dress (and a zip for a different dress that I'm making). Despite the glorious weather, central London was heaving but thankfully the shop had what I wanted and I made a swift exit. I'm actually off to buy the remaining fabric for my wedding dress this afternoon which is pretty exciting. I will feel so much calmer once I've handed all of them over to the dressmaker in a couple of weeks. Hope you all had sun-filled weekends too :)

Friday, 28 March 2014

the illustrated packing list: budapest

This time next week I'll be in Budapest! The holiday, much like April, completely snuck up on me - where has the time gone?! Worries of already being a quarter of the way through 2014 aside, I am super excited to be flying off to Hungary.

Travel websites and BBC weather seem to share the same thought that, although it can get unbelievably hot in the summer months, Budapest in April is very similar to the weather here in the UK. With that in mind I've started to think about what I should pack...
At present the forecast is a bit of a mixed bag for next week so an umbrella, tights and sunglasses are all making the trip with me just be on the safe side.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

good distractions #5

There's a little bit of a lull at work at the moment. The first part of the month was chock-a-block with photoshoots and I was barely in the office (which is how I prefer it really). Now, however, things have quietened down, there's only two photo shoots in the pipeline and I've found myself doing that terrible thing: watching the clock. Being stuck at my desk isn't all bad - at least there's pinterest! All I need to do is to figure out a nice balancing between a good dose of internet browsing coupled with doing my actual work and I won't need to be counting down the minutes to 5:30 any longer... Here's a few of the things that are doing the trick!

These trousers
Peg-leg trousers seem to be everywhere. I tried on a pair and looked weird but my sister was wearing some yesterday and hers were fabulous so I'm tempted to try again...
picture sources (top to bottom l-r): 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

These places
Holidays are one of the best, and perfectly acceptable, reasons to procrastinate. I'm going to Budapest in less than a week and a big of of us have just booked a cottage for a long weekend in the Lake District in May. Too excited.
picture sources: budapest // lake district

This dress & fabric
The immensely talented Roisin posted her latest creation - it is amazing. I really want this fabric but I know what I'm like, I'd probably be too scared to cut into it for fear of ruining it.
All pictures are from Roisin's blog.

This wedding
Literally everything about this wedding is stunning. Her dress, her hair, that car, the decor, the location (Lyme Regis, Maritime Theatre!!!) - beautiful.

This baby quilt
Ok, so there isn't a quilt as yet but planning it all out is incredibly satisfying. Once it's finished, I hope to give it to my friend who's expecting a little boy in May :)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What's the point of it?

On Sunday, Mitch and I went to the Hayward Gallery to see Martin Creed's 'What's the point of it?' exhibition. His vast range of work including paintings, video, audio, collections and installations takes up the entire gallery including the outside terraces - not surprising when you see the size of some it. Repetition seems to be a running theme and his work is largely on the colourful side (in more ways than one).
As you follow the exhibition through the five rooms you never really know what to expect which I think is definitely a good thing. It's not always a pleasant surprise but a surprise none the less and surely it's good for your mind to experience the unexpected in a world full of routine? Some of it made me think, some of it made me laugh, some of it I really liked looking at including the lightbulb and neon writing installations, the pleasing arrangement of cacti (not sure what this says about me)  and the wall completely covered in adhesive tape. Some of it I didn't like - his acrylic paintings, particularly the ones of people and the video at the end just before the exit. (I confess I only watched about 10 seconds of it before running into the gift shop - Mitch and I were going to food after and if I'd stayed any longer I wouldn't have felt like eating). But, even the stuff I didn't like got a reaction, or a feeling, out of me.
The best feeling without a doubt came from Work No. 200: Half the air in a given space. A smallish sized room filled with white balloons. It's as fun as it sounds. Unless, of course, you have claustrophobia or a fear of balloons. It was a pretty weird sensation, I didn't feel trapped or suffocated but when you're in the middle of it, the balloons do press together all around you and you need to fight them away from your face in order to see. It sort of reminded me a children's ball pond. After about 3 minutes the static became a little too much (Mitch and I kept giving each other electric shocks) and we fought our way to the door. It's the last thing in the exhibition (bar the gross video) and left me feeling rather exhilarated.
It's on until the 27th April and I'd definitely recommend a visit if you're open to contemporary art. Word of warning though: there is often a queue for the balloon room and the worst time to go, according to the gallery staff, is a Sunday afternoon. They often have to stop people queueing for Work No. 200 half an hour before the gallery shuts.

Saturday was a quieter day with little more than eating, reading and a bit of sewing and quilt planning achieved but it was nice.

picture sources: Adhesive tape // Brocoli prints // Cacti

Saturday, 22 March 2014

3 years

Today marks this little blog's third year anniversary. I know I've said it the last two years but, I seriously cannot believe that I've managed to keep it going. A lot has happened over those three years and I really love the fact that I've got the blog to look back on it all. To anyone out there thinking of starting a blog, I'd say that that is a very good reason to start.

Here are some of my highlights...
➳ Finally completing my parents' quilt - an 11 month labour of love
  A particularly great May weekend wherein we found our wedding reception venue
➳ Making a conscious decision to cut down on cooking meat at home
➳ A blissful week long holiday in the Italian countryside 
➳ Making the most out of the unbelievably good weather in July - days in the park, BBQs, car boot sale-ing
➳ The Festival of Quilts 2013 and seeing my quilt on display
➳ Silent Disco in the Science Museum
➳ A rather random trip to the coast for the day
➳ Spending some quality time with my sister - musical bingo, getting tattooed, having brunch and going to renegade craft fair
➳ Managing to knit something other than a scarf
➳ Climbing mount snowdon
➳ Experiencing my first Thanksgiving and being Mitch's sous chef on Christmas day
➳ Having a good laugh with Mitch at the Hay Hill Gallery
➳ Attending a big old family get-together for my granddad's 90th
➳ Finally visiting the Horniman Museum and the Barbican conservatory

A HUGE thanks to everyone who stops by here to read my ramblings and to everyone who takes the time to comment - it really does mean a lot :)

I'm off to make some pasties, hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sunshine in Suburbia

It's been a whole week since we officially left Brixton and thanks to the (mostly) sunny weather and warm temperatures, we've got off to a rather good start in our attic residence.

I've discovered a number of up-sides to living in Suburbia - most notably the abundance of magnolia and cherry blossom trees. It's also been quite fun re-discovering my local parks, the majority of which I haven't been to for 12 years or so. Time has treated them all rather well. Yes, they're not as great as Brockwell Park, but there are 3 to choose from and all are about 15 minute walk away. Also nice, is the quiet. Don't get me wrong, I love the bustle of Brixton but, even with the odd plane going overhead and the distant rumble of the trains, I can actually hear bird song now. Something I don't think I ever heard over the sirens, buses, traffic, our neighbours' music and people just generally shouting at each other in Brixton. Who would have thought that being able to have your window open and not go deaf would be such revelation! And, talking of revelations, because my parents have a house, they also have a substantially sized (and well-taken care of) garden! Where I can hang my washing out to dry! Seriously, it may read like sarcasm but drying my laundry in the fresh air is SUCH a luxury. I even re-construted our shoe-rack in the garden because it really is the nicest place to be. Of course, there's more than a couple of down-sides to suburbia: everything shuts early and practically nothing is open at all on sunday, we now live far away from most of my friends, travelling after the last train is seriously long - to name a few. But hey, I don't want to be too much of a negative nancy on here so let's just say I'm attempting to adapt to all the new challenges suburb living presents. On a positive note, you'll be happy to hear that Moriarty has settled in well and is the recipient of not two, but five people's attention and affection, not to mention all the extra play-time and food he's getting :)

What with being ill on Monday and Tuesday and dinner dates + late nights on Wednesday and Thursday, I feel like this week has gone unbelievably quickly but I'm not complaining. Happy gloriously sunny Friday to you!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Reading & Seeing 15

Only Lovers Left Alive
Set in the not so distant future where the world is sort of crumbling and blood is in short supply. The film follows the story of long long time vampire lovers (who've married each other several times) Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Having influenced a number of revered composers throughout history, Adam has become a reclusive musician in his own right and spends his days in his crumbling Detroit house surrounded by his vintage guitars, listening to old records and making grizzly-snythy (awesome) music. His only contact with the outside world is Ian, a big fan of Adam's music who also "gets stuff" for him - more guitars, equipment and the like - and a doctor at the local hospital who keeps Adam, for a fee, in regular supply of blood. He also talks/skypes Eve who lives in Tangier with her good friend, fellow vampire and provider of her blood supply, Christopher (John Hurt). Eve flies to see Adam in Detroit (as he's being all mopey - Tom makes a great and mopey vampire) and we follow their exploits from there. So what did think? FINALLY! A vampire film I can get on board with! Hiddleston and Swinton make beautiful vampires - pale, boney and quite obviously very much in love. The two leads seemed so comfortable and easy with each other, I didn't question for a second that they'd spent centuries together. And, given that they have lived for centuries, there's some amusing name dropping (Adam's thoughts on Byron and Mary Wollstoncraft for example) and the script is littered with pleasing literature references and quips. The sets (Detroit and Tangier) are perfect and, coupled with the reverberating grungy music, are incredibly atmospheric. True, the pace is slower that a lot of the films we're fed these days and it won't appeal to everyone but for me, it was a real breath of fresh air. The cast is small - Hiddleston and Swinton claim the most screen time but there are also very short but brilliant performances performances by the supporting cast, most notably Mia Wasikowska, as Swinton's impetuous (and greedy, let's say) younger sister. If you want your vampires glowing and fannying around with werewolves in high school then this is not for you. However, if you like your vampires altogether a bit more brooding and gothic give this a whirl.
Still from the movie - I love LOVE these tiles (I'm currently rather obsessed with tiles). The shot framing in this film was beautiful!

The Goldfinch
Donna Tart's long awaited third novel and my first book read on a kindle (but that's another story, which you can read about here). The Goldfinch centres around Theo Decker who is re-calling (or rather penning) his life story. He begins on the day that his mother is killed, 14 years previously, after a bomb explodes in New York City's Metropolitan Museum. The aftermath of the explosion sets Theo's life on a fragmented and rather lonely path at the core of which is the painting of The Goldfinch - spurring him on on one hand but also unravelling his life at the same time. So, would I recommend it? Yes, but be warned: it is long, just shy of 800 pages actually. Although it starts with a, quite literal, bang, it doesn't keep that pace and, in places, I found myself thinking, "c'mon, c'mon, get to the next bit"(the Vegas stuff dragged on a bit too long for my liking). But, persevere, it does pick up again. On the plus side, Tart's descriptions are stellar and there's some great, rather meaty, supporting characters which really move the story along. Other good stuff: a couple of plot twists and turns, which I didn't see coming, and the details and descriptions of New York City build such a rich picture, they made me want to go back there so so badly. It's not as amazing as The Secret History (of course, I would say that, it's one of my favourite books) but it was bloody good and certainly worth the 11 year wait.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Set in the ficticious land of Zubrowka, this is the charming, amusing and at times rather sad story of  charismatic concierge, Gustave H, and lobby boy, Zero, at The Grand Budapest Hotel. In true Wes Anderson style every shot is perfect and a joy to behold, the script is quick, witty and poignant, the characters are a beautifully varied bunch if a little 2-dimensional (especially the female characters) but thanks to the pacey story-line and a seriously fabulous cast that last observation didn't really bother me. Also, the two main characters are pretty meaty and spectacularly portrayed - Ralph Fiennes has been given much praise for his performance and rightly so. There's numerous chase scenes, cameo appearances, excellent costumes and magnificent sets all wrapped up in several layers of story-telling - a particularly favourite detail of mine. If you hadn't guessed already, I loved this film. You must see it, preferably in the cinema. It's a feast for the eyes and much too lovely to miss on the big screen.

Life After Life
Ever driven by interesting concepts, the premise of a character reliving her life over and over again (taking different paths each time) seemed right up my street. Ursula Todd, born, many times over, in 1910, lives many lives some of which do not last beyond childhood, others find her meeting her doom in the blitz of WWII, but everytime she dies, her life starts over on the same snowy day in Feb 1910. On the whole, I liked it. I wanted to see how each life Ursula lived would unfurl and how the choices she made changed the outcomes of her (and others') situation. I also liked that certain events didn't change, some exchanges or outcomes were always bound to happen, and that the re-telling of some life events gave a much more 3-dimensional view of our protagonist and her family. However, there were a few things that really irked me. Obviously, this is not a new concept and it's not surprising I was drawn to it because one of my favourite books, Replay, does it too. Replay takes a different stance in that the protagonist always dies at the age of 43 and instead of being reborn he comes back at ever-closer ages to 43. He also, unlike Ursula, remembers everything from his former lives. What annoyed me about Life After Life is that Ursula's remembering is inconsistent and lazily explained if she does in fact "remember" something. Also, in her different lives, external happenings, often vary. Fair enough if events are altered as a result of Ursula's choices but it didn't seem to make any sense that external happenings were subject to change without an instigator, surely they should have been the constant. Perhaps I'm being picky but it bothered me. However, the bits set during the blitz were enthralling - v.morbid but interesting and really vividly described. I think I'll try another Kate Atkinson. I really liked her writing style, and probably just need to cool it when it comes to the rules of incarnation - I don't know if there are any afterall.

Friday, 14 March 2014

thank you Brixton and good night!

So that's it, the cupboards have all been cleaned, the floors have been mopped and all the tiles well and truly scrubbed. Today I handed over the keys and we are officially south west londoners.
The last week has been a bit of a blur and I'm absolutely shattered. Our last couple of days in Brixton went something like this:

Tuesday evening: we made a start on the cleaning, then went for jerk chicken (plus plantains, rice and peas, salt fish fritters, coleslaw etc) at Negril's sister restaurant (I think it's called Orange Bay) - and I can happily report that the food there is exactly the same: absolutely delicious :) the only slight difference is that Orange Bay has a bar - then we went back to cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Wed: work, cleaning (mitch had the day off so he cleaned all day), dinner (at the joint), cleaning, cinema (went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel - it's good), sleeeeep. Thursday: cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, a hilarious trip back to west london with a cumbersome assortment of stuff including a Henry hoover (we really need to learn to drive). We dumped all the stuff at the house and went straight out (the weather was amazing). I took Mitch for a stroll around the neighbourhood and we ate ice creams. On the way home we met the softest, friendliest puppy called nigel, it was a like a dulux dog, only a puppy - yes, exactly, v.cute.

The cleaning has now switched to sorting - there are many boxes to rifle through and bits + bobs to organise and put away in our new room. Really hoping that this sunny weather is sticking around for the weekend so I have an excuse not to spend the whole time figuring out what a flat's worth of stuff will fit in one room...

Anyhoo, happy Friday!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


After hours of packing (late into the night on Friday - we are most definitely the worse kind of 'last-mintute' people), we awoke on Saturday morning ready to load all our worldly goods into Mitch's step-dad's van. Thankfully, Mitch's brother was there to help with all the heavy stuff and my dad was there to take the more delicate items (computers, TV, Moriarty) in his car. After countless trips up and down four flights of stairs, the flat was finally empty, the van completely stuffed and us all feeling like we needed a shower (certainly didn't feel guilty about not going for a run since monday). Having unloaded the van at my parents' house (their hallway and dinning room were a sea of boxes for most of the weekend) we began, v.slowly, to unpack. Mitch reconstructed our glorious bed and we've put up some pictures and fairy lights so it's looking a lot more like home now.

We took a break from stuff sorting on Sunday and I decided to show Mitch some of the local sights. As it was a rugby day I thought it best to avoid Twickenham town and instead opted for a walk around our nearest park and long the River Crane. And, as everyone else has already pointed out, the weather was glorious - I don't think we could've picked a better weekend to move.

What with unpacking and the lovely weather, I've not really had much time to be sad about not being in Brixton. Now that the flat is empty we've got the next couple of days to clean it which, unsurprisingly, I'm not really looking forward to. Serves me right I suppose for never cleaning the oven - I am a bad, bad person. On the plus side, I'm hoping we can get out to the village one night and maybe to the ritzy to see the grand budapest hotel. I'm certain we're going to need some sort of reward by the time that place is clean!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

photobooth - peckham liberal club

Last Saturday night we descended upon Peckham's liberal club for a friend's 30th birthday. He's a photographer by trade and every (or nearly every) party he hosts he has some sort of fun photo or video element that gets everyone involved. And his birthday was no exception :)
The liberal club was a pretty cool venue. For starters, admittance was only obtained by being buzzed in. Next, the bar area was v.much a local's bar and manned by a dour (but very amusing) irishman who gave Mitch a jokingly hard time. And then there was the main room which kinda reminded me of the effra social with its little chairs, tables and stage area. It also has a pool (or possibly snooker) hall. I'm not entirely sure whether you can just walk in there of an evening or whether it is very much "a club", but it did make a cracking little venue if you thinking of renting somewhere.

Today is the day Mitch and I move all of our stuff out of the flat. I'd thought I'd be more sad about leaving now that the time has actually come but, the horror of packing (so much packing!) has proven to be a huge distraction. I imagine we'll be loading all our worldly goods onto the van by the time you read this. Hope your weekend is chilled out one :)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

mormon & mexican

Yesterday, we finally got to cash in on Mitch's christmas present: tickets to The Book of Mormon. I deserted work at 1pm, which felt unbelievably good, and headed to Piccadilly. There has been SO much hype surrounding this show that I was a little worried it wouldn't live up to it. And, to tell you the truth, if you'd asked me at the interval what I thought, I'd have said "yeah it's funny, the musical numbers are good but I'm kind of glad I didn't spend stupid amounts of money on the tickets". However, if you'd have asked me the same question at the end... "Hilarious! I loved it, you should definitely go and see it!"
It's packed full of the standard South Park (and Team America) gags - Mormon Hell is v.similar to hell in South Park - so if you love that sorta thing you'll like The Book of Mormon too. They definitely save all the best laughs for the second half - or perhaps, on reflection, maybe I just took an hour to get used to the seriously irreverent dialogue being spoken not by cartoons (or puppets) but by actual people - somehow that makes it worse I think. But, I did get used to it and I laughed my arse off, particularly at the story-telling song near the end. I really didn't know that much about the Mormon religion before or now really, as, obviously, the show didn't really explain it but rather highlighted many of the, ahem 'inconsistencies" surrounding it in a very very funny way. Although we went to a matinĂ©e performance there were, of course, no children in the audience. If you're wondering how you'll be able to afford a ticket I would strongly recommend a matinĂ©e AND sitting the circle. It is steep but nothing will ever compare to my experience at the O2 arena so I didn't think it was that bad, plus, the view was in no way restricted.
Trafalgar Square looked so pretty in the just before sunset light.
The show finished at 5pm so we decided to wander over to the south bank and have some early dinner. I've been wanting to try Wahacca for the longest time so that's where we went. We both got the pulled pork burritos which were amazing but next time (as there will definitely be a next time - though probably not the south bank one) I want to try some of the smaller dishes and save room for dessert. 
It was a proper treat to have a half day and do something a little different in the middle of the week. There's always so much going on in London, I really should do it more often.

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