Blog Every Day in May: 5 Lines

“Introduce yourself or sum yourself up in just 5 lines. Include a photograph that you are proud of.”

My name is Emily, and I’m a blogging, crafting, thrifting treasure hunter and events producer living in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

I’m a little bit into everything, and to say my taste is eclectic would be a serious understatement…..I like to think I can see beauty in everything.

I can’t think of any music that I don’t like, there is certainly no food that I won’t eat (with the exception of Marmite which isn’t really a food), and I just don’t believe that any colours clash.

My greatest loves are my wonderful fiance Adam, my darling lurcher Special Agent Doggie Cooper, weddings, blowing bubbles, the TV Tower in Berlin, blue skies and stationery.

I hate having photos taken of me, but I love to take photos of pretty much anything else…. especially road works, buildings that other people think are ugly, and enchanted places where fairies probably live.

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Our secret garden, St Dunstans in the East, near to where we used to live in London. Taken with my Diana analogue camera with 120mm colour negative slide film.

A few days in Vienna

This Friday I’m lucky enough to be jetting off to the beautiful Vienna. Friends of ours are getting married just south of there on Saturday, and whilst we won’t get to spend too much time in Vienna itself, preparing to go is reminding me of the wonderful holiday Adam and I had there last November.

Just in time for all the Christmas markets opening up all over the city, we spent a few days in Vienna and absolutely adored it. It’s a stunning city, with lots of open space so that you can stand back to be wowed by the wonderful architecture. We loved the palaces and museums, as well as the incredible food and amazing coffee shops. We were delighted to see dogs everywhere and welcomed into shops, cafes and restaurants.

The Christmas Markets were definitely the highlight of the trip for me, but I can’t wait to see the city again in the warmer weather.

And as I’ve been promising other wedding guests some tips on where to visit whilst there, I thought I’d share some of my favourite bits about Vienna here on my blog over the next few days…..there’ll be a post about our best food and coffee recommendations, where we most loved visiting, and some of the must-see sights. I’ll start tomorrow with food….as that was definitely a huge highlight for us both!

Enjoy,

Ems x

Guest Post: Living for the Weekend with Siobhan Claude Van-Damme

Hello, Siobhan here from Siobhan Claude Van-Damme filling in for Emily as she moves away from London and settles into her new home.

As Emily leaves London, I’m going to look at all the wonderful things happening here this weekend with Open House London…… London will miss Emily and I think it is trying to lure her back with these great events is on. Here is my pick…..

Saturday
Daylight Music at the Union Chapel

Daylight Music is a great series of free music events held at lunchtime at the Union Chapel in Islington.  It is a great way to hear new music and a lovely way to spend Saturday lunchtime.  For Open House they are opening early at 10.30 on both Saturday and Sunday with the show starting at the usual time of noon on the Saturday.  It is a particularly good line-up on Saturday too with electro-folk from Golden Fable.  Though the events are free they do recommend a donation of £3 towards running costs which I think is a snip for such a well put together event in such a beautiful setting.

Daylight Music is from 12pm-4pm on Saturday and the Open House will be from 10.30am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and it free to attend with no booking required.

Angel Building

The Angel Building is also in Islington and open on Saturday (from 10am – 5pm) and it looks just stunning.  This RIBA and BCO award winning building is a glossy reinvention of an 80s office block showcasing some stunning technology and design.  I want to go and marvel at the views through the central space and at the energy efficient glazed skin it has been wrapped in.

Angel House will be open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday with last entry at 4.15pm.  No booking is required but you may have to queue.

The Jewel Box

While in Islington who could resist visiting somewhere called The Jewel Box? The name alone makes me think of Emily and her beautiful jewelley designs.  The architects describe the building on their website as follows

“Conceived as a series of jewelled boxes carefully inserted into the existing fabric, the proposals open up and revitalise what was a series of dark disjointed spaces. Timber and concrete have been combined in a simple palette of materials that wrap around the existing fabric, inviting the user through the space and into the garden. The remaining period architectural features are retained and celebrated whilst the rear addition utilises a double canted wildflower roof to bounce light deep into the floor plate.”

I can’t wait to see this.

The Jewel Box is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday with tours every half hour until 5pm on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday

Lewisham Art House

I pass Lewisham Art House every day on my way to work and have had colleagues exhibit there but have never visited.  I think London Open House weekend could be when I finally get it together to go and visit.  Lewisham Art House is a beautiful Grade II listed old library that has been turned into artist studios in the heart of New Cross.  There are various exhibitions through the years and London Open House is a great chance to check out the architecture and spaces in this beautiful building.

It will be open on Sunday from 1-5pm with tours every 15 minutes and no booking is required.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens

Ems has written before about the Horniman and I would recommend this chance (and any) to have a look around at this beautiful setting.  I even considered getting married there at one point as I do love the place so very much.  As an example of the arts and crafts style of architecture it is interesting just as a building but this time you can get tours of the recently refurbished gardens and bandstand.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am-5.30pm but garden tours will only be on Saturday at 2 and 3pm – you can book these by emailing marketing@horniman.ac.uk

 

The Capitol (Formerly Forest Hill Cinema)

I often head to Forest Hill and when I walk past the Capitol I am always slightly sad that this clearly once beautiful art deco cinema is now a Wetherspoons pub, even if I am glad it means the building is still alive.  As such, a chance to look around and see more of the building and explore the history of it is really appealing.

The Capitol is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday but you must book for the architect tours by calling 020 8291 8920

 

Enjoy!

Something from the weekend….. Thames Festival and sun sun sun!

*snores*

I am again in need of a weekend to recover from the weekend. I was on a mission to make the most of this weekend, it being our last proper weekend in London….and by golly did we cram it in! I’ll be a bit of a packing zombie for the rest of the week, as I’m utterly shattered and just working on auto pilot now, but it was worth it!

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we were up and yumming up brioche ahead of our day out. After nipping into Waitrose to ask them to save some boxes for us (seriously, how many boxes am I going to need?!), we hopped over to St Katherine Docks to see the exhibition of classic and historical boats. Once we’d started to wander through the docks, we realised what a stunning day it was….and I started to wish I’d brought a hat and some sun screen!

We had a little picnic in the docks, whilst watching some sea cadets kayak around the central marina, as well as some performing keep-fit style displays and dance routines!

Adam has never been on a Thames river taxi, so it was very fortuitous that our last weekend of London adventuring fell on the Thames Festival and we could hop on the free river taxi from St Katherine Pier to Festival Pier. And we couldn’t have asked for a better day for it….so warm and such blue skies! We each took stacks of photos and enjoyed the talk from our guide who pointed out all the places of interest on the way.

We arrived to Festival Pier right on time to head up to the Riverside Terrace outside the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, where Graeae and Strange Fruit were to present their production of The Garden. I’ve been wanting to see them for nearly ten years, after I heard about them and their performance at the Greenwich and Docklands Festival. The story tellers stand atop of four metre high poles, on which they sway around and even start to flip and somersault! It was a very sweet story and just gorgeous to see them performing in the sun, backed by blue skies and the river.

After that, we happened across a wonderful choir performing inside the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Hall….. Set up in the foyer, the South Africa House for London 2012 included an exhibition and a stage on which Take Note were singing. A small, amateur choir from South Africa, they had everyone dancing and bouncing…the music is incredibly moving!

Once they’d left the stage we took a wander down to the world food market behind the Royal Festival Hall, although it was so packed that we opted to walk a little further down the Southbank to find something to refresh us….. and although it didn’t get any quieter, we found just the thing right in front of the National Theatre. I’m a massive Fro-Yo fan, but Adam has always been a bigger advocate of ice cream….so it’s praise indeed that he chose The Little Mixing Factory‘s frozen yoghurt over their ice cream! And we were not disappointed! They blend fresh fruit in with their yummy natural yoghurt and the results are amazing! It’s certainly some of the best Fro-Yo I’ve had and very good value to boot!

Sweet treats in hand (although not for long…they were scoffed pretty quick!), we meandered along the Southbank amongst the thousands of people there. There were lots of stalls as part of the Thames Festival, as well as a Helter Skelter! The little beach in front of Gabriel’s Wharf was packed too with mudlarkers and sandcastle builders, but I was quickly distracted by the We Make London craft fair next to the OXO Tower. As it happened, my old college friend Nevada had a stall there for her delightful illustrations, pepper pots and baby clothes…it was so nice to see her and to peruse her gorgeous stall!

We hovered in the area for a little while, as the Rio festival was taking part there too, although there was nothing on stage just then so we continued our walk down the river to some more stalls outside the Tate Modern. It was pretty hot by then, and getting busier and busier with people, so we took a little back street short cut to Borough Market to get some refreshing juices (fresh lemonade for me…there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day!).

Refreshed a little, we walked further down the river for a snoop about Hays Galleria, and then onto More London where there were yet more stalls to look at, as well as the Blue Ribbon festival. The place was packed with festival go-ers and paralympics viewers in front of the big screen….and there was a big crowd at The Scoop watching some acrobats!

We were pretty shattered by this point though, so we walked back to St Katherine Docks where we’d started, and opted for an early dinner at Ping Pong to avoid having to cook!….and before long it was time to head home for a freshen up before making our way to our little ‘leaving London’ party!

We’d reserved a little area in our new favourite place, the Oliver Conquest, and arranged for a couple of dozen of our friends to meet us there for a send off. The pub boasts a list of over 50 different types of gin, as well as a yummy menu and lovely staff (who also know their gin!). Adam and I have been making our way through the gin list for the last few weeks….they kindly keep a copy for you behind the bar which you can tick off as you try each one! We’ve tried some amazing drinks there so we were really pleased to share the place with our friends. In fact, we were made up by the number of people who made it to see us off…..it made me a little sad to be leaving them all, especially after such a wonderful day in London too!

Next morning, it was a fry up we needed for breakfast (despite yumming up some of the amazing Oliver Conquest nachos, there was still a lot of gin to soak up!), so popped to our other local for a veggie breakfast before making our way back to Waitrose to pick up the boxes we’d had saved. I couldn’t resist a bit more packing once back at home, just to test out the boxes you understand (I’ve gotten addicted to packing!), but it was so lovely outside we decided we should really go out again soon after.

The wheelchair marathon was passing very near to our flat, so we walked down to Tower Hill to watch a bit, before walking a little further to our favourite place in London….. I’ve written about St Dunstan’s before (I had my birthday party there in fact!) and I must have taken hundreds of photos of the place. It’s a little ‘secret’ garden inside an old church in the City. It’s one of the most tranquil and magical places I’ve ever been too, with its lush planting, incredible light and beautiful architecture. As it was the last chance we’ll get, we took the opportunity to sit there for a few hours, just reading, chatting and sun bathing. It felt like the perfect Sunday activity in fact, and I felt so very relaxed for it.

Having caught a bit of sun, we ambled home, where I took a nice nap before making supper. We scoffed another load of my summery sausage dish, then slobbed on the sofa to watch the Sixth Sense (which I will never tire of watching!). That ended in perfect time to watch the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, and so our evening finished watching the fireworks for the Thames Festival and the closing ceremony from the flat windows….and hearing them too! So loud!

As you can imagine, I was fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow after all that, and I awoke sleepy but very content with our wonderful last weekend of fun in London!

Ems x

Planning the weekend…. London has festival fever!

As London gears up for this forthcoming big games event thing, there seems more than ever going on….. Although I can’t say I’m terribly excited about the prospect of a jam packed London this summer, I am loving the fact that more even than ever, every corner I turn there’s something going on!

Here’s my pick of what’s going on this weekend…..

The London Festival of Architecture is a celebration of the capital’s architecture and architectural talent. Bringing architects and communities together, this year’s theme is ‘The Playful City’,  in response to the impending London 2012 Games. Focussing in different ‘hubs’ all over the city, the festival is this weekend hosting stacks of events in its Fitzrovia hub, with workshops for families, open studios, exhibitions, walking tours and games.

The festival runs until 8th July and you can find a list of events here.

Masterpiece London is one of London’s leading art and antiques fairs, and it’s new home at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, saw 28,000 visitors last year. Dubbed a forum for distinctive design, the fair carefully curates its contributors, offering a huge variety of excellent exhibits including wine, cars, jewellery and decorative arts.

Runs until 4th July, tickets from £20 available here.

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival is considered London’s leading festival of free outdoor performing arts, and features ground breaking new performances in theatre, dance, and street arts. One production that has caught my attention is ‘Crow’ by Ted Hughes, presented by Handspring Puppet Company (the talent behind the incredible puppetry central to the War Horse stage show).

The show runs until 7th July and tickets are available here from £10. You can see the other events in the festival here.

The London International Festival of Theatre is a biennial event which takes place in theatres, arts venues and sites all over London. Working in often unconventional sites with artists from across the world, the festival seeks to find new ways of seeing the city, and produce theatre which is surprising and stimulating as well as simply entertaining. Amongst this year’s offerings is the ‘Adventure Map’, a limited edition map which promises to take you on adventures across the city, and to reinvent your relationship with it. You’ll need to book a ticket for your ‘Departure’ on dates from 5th July to 22nd August here.

This weekend, London’s new Pleasure Gardens opens with a spectacular ‘grand opening’ featuring pyrotechincs, live music, street art, sideshows, a Ballroom, vintage funfair and stacks of other stuff. Harking back to 200 years ago, when London hosted numerous common spaces known as Pleasure Gardens, this event is set to emulate those meeting places where Londoners could immerse themselves in culture and experience the joys of open air entertainments. This opening event is free to get into and promises to set the benchmark for future events at the venue and start things off with a bang! The opening event is open from 1pm to 11pm on Saturday and 1pm to 10pm on Sunday….just turn up at the Pontoon Docks venue…no need for a ticket!

One of my favourite places in London is closing for refurbishment after this weekend, but Wilton’s Music Hall is not one to go quietly….. This weekend the stunning music hall is preparing for a big overhaul by inviting us to visit and take a tour, as well as enjoying their new bar and lots of cake! It’s your last chance to see this incredible venue until it’s due to re-open again next year once essential repairs are made to the auditorium. Visitors are also being asked to donate cakes to sell, contributing to their ongoing fund raising, as well as writing letters which they will stow away under the floor when it’s lifted up and laid again as part of the work…. what to write?!?!
Come along on Saturday from 5pm – 11pm (7pm talk) or Sunday from 3pm – 6pm (3:30pm talk). It’s free to sit in on one of the talks but you need to book a place here.
Well I know that’ll be enough to keep me busy…. hope you have a wonderful weekend too!
Ems x