Wednesday Wants: It’s National Stationery Week!

Did you know it’s National Stationery Week?! Now I don’t need any excuse to get excited about stationery, but this seemed like a good reason to feature what is certainly one of my favourite things on this week’s ‘Wants’ list. And what better way to indulge in some of my other favourite things….robots, neons, dinosaurs, mythical creatures…..stationery does it all!

It’s glossy, it’s blue, it’s covered in robots. Oh, and you can fill it with cool pens. What’s not to like?!

How adorable is this illustrated notebook by the talented Emma Randall? I love the blue unicorn, and that cheeky octopus!

I’ve been ever so slightly obsessed with neons for over a year now. Fluorescent stuff reminds me of my childhood, especially when that stuff is stationery. It puts me in mind of staking out Woolworths in the school holidays, plotting how best to spend my pocket money. So of course, I’m crazy about these super cute bear highlighters with their sweet expressions.

Just think of the things I could neon-ify with these babies…..

Fluoro meets Egyptology. Way cool. I’d stencil hieroglyphs onto everything with this. Probably with my neon pens.

And when I have to be a little more grown up, these lush Liberty prints will help soften the blow. I love adding pretty stickers to parcels when I send out my orders, and these would make packing even more satisfying.

Dinosaurs on parcels, on envelopes, on notebooks, on little notes, on the back of my hand, and probably all over the walls if I had my way….all possible with these bad boys.

And what could be more of a productivity boost than a bright yellow notebook telling you to ‘Make if Happen’? For lists, doodlings and planning great adventures….I’m pretty sure this notebook could help me make it happen. (Also, these Panama notebooks have proven to be super practical for me….they’re a great size for carrying around, and the supple cover holds its own even at the bottom of my junk filled handbags!)

Happy National Stationery Week everyone! Go forth and treat yourself to a fancy new pen or something!

Ems x

 

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The best bits from 2012

There’s no way I could put as much time and love into this site without thoroughly enjoying it….but there are some elements I enjoy even more than others! 2012 has been a year of finding my blogging feet, developing the look and feel of my site, and deciding what I like to write about most….not to mention what you like to read about!

Now I can see which are the most popular posts with you guys by simply reading my stats page, but I thought I’d share with you *my* favourite posts from this year….

Grayson Perry, Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Not only was this probably the best exhibition I saw in 2012, but it has to be the most inspirational one I’ve *ever* seen. I came away vowing to spend more time being creative, and with a head swimming with ideas!

Tosca at the ENO

Despite being the second time I’ve seen this production, I couldn’t help but get swept up in the ENO’s stunning Tosca.

Soup Week

My obsession for home-made soups naturally led to a week of soup recipe posts!

Made in Britain Fashion Installation at BIS with UKFT

I thoroughly enjoyed this freelance commission, and was so proud to work with UKFT on such a prestigious project!

There’s no place like London

Whilst I’ve not looked back since moving out of London, it is with great fondness that I remember my 12 years living there, and that incredible last summer.

So, as the year comes to a close, I want to thank you all so much for reading my blog, commenting, egging me on, and helping out in the many and varied ways you do…I hope you continue to enjoy visiting my little site and as always, I’m eagerly awaiting your ideas, feedback and requests, so do stay in touch!

A very happy new year to you all!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. my London favourites

So this is the actual last weekend I’ll be living in London. I don’t expect to get a lot done, other than running my stall on Saturday and finishing the packing on Sunday. But I thought that with my impending farewell to London, I’d recall some of the best bits from living here, and share them with you….

Poppies Fish and Chips

On Tuesday we had our lovely friend Hannah to visit for the evening after she’d had a worky thing in town. Hannah wanted to go to Poppies before it was no longer our local fish and chip restaurant, and we were only to happy to oblige! The wonderfully kitsch 50s style diner uses sustainably caught fish, as well as other ingredients from Borough Market and even pies from my home time of Stoke on Trent! They have recently been shortlisted for a prestigious award, and will soon fight it out against the likes of Rick Stein in a bid to become the UK’s best independent fish and chip restaurant! And I really hope they win….the food has always been brilliant and the service is great to boot….I’ll miss it so much!

Wilton’s Music Hall

After our fish supper, we took Hannah just down the road to Wilton’s Music Hall for some cocktails. The historic venue hosts fabulous events, theatre, and music, but as it’s currently having a much needed refurbishment to its main auditorium, they are concentrating on the lovely bars they have. The Mahogany Bar downstairs serves a good range of beers, wines and spirits, as well as a few simple cocktails and free nibbles early on in the evening. Upstairs there’s an actual cocktail bar, as well as seating in some of the little rooms off their labyrinthine corridors. There’s also a ping pong table and regular quizzes, dancing and jazz music….we saw the resident band there (who perform every Tuesday) and certainly got toe tapping. You really have to visit this magical place though to get an understanding of its history and personality…there’ll be tours again once the refurbishment is over and I’d highly recommend you take a look in at least then, if not just for a tipple and toe tap before that.

Oliver Conquest

And whilst we’re on the tipples….. Our local, the Oliver Conquest has been one of our favourite finds since living in Central London. Having lured us in with a sign outside boasting their 40+ gin collection, they have now increased their library to over 50 gins! The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and will kindly keep a copy of their gin list behind the bar with your name on so you can tick off each one you’ve tried as you go. And whilst most of the gins need nothing more than a hunk of ice or a dash of their Fever Tree tonic, they will mix you a very fine cocktail and take pride in garnishes to match the qualities of each type of gin. Oh, and there’s a quiz too, as well as regular gin and other booze tastings…..AND they serve extremely good bar food (pork pies, nachos with a very good fresh salsa etc….).

Old Spitalfields Market

Another regular haunt of ours (as you’ll know if you read my Something From the Weekend posts) is the wonderful Victorian covered market Old Spitalfields. A true destination shopping experience, you’ll find great places to eat, independent shops and a few boutiquey versions of some well known brands. And that’s just around the edge of the real market! Seven days a week, you’ll find hand crafted treasures, bargain vintage finds and some brilliant flea market booty. They have special markets on certain days of the week, and on various Saturdays, including record markets, Judy’s Affordable Market, vintage pop-ups and this Saturday, the Designer Makers Market….which I’ll be hosting a stall at. With Christmas coming up, I can’t think of anywhere better to find something for everyone, and if you can’t make it to say hi this weekend, I’d highly recommend you make a visit in the coming months to fill your stockings!

St Dunstan in the East

On a hot, sunny day, there are few things I’d rather do than while away a few hours in my little City oasis. Largely destroyed in the Second World War, as well as being damaged in the Great Fire of London, the little roofless church now contains the most beautiful secret garden. This is truly one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to, and the stunning light and tranquil atmosphere there make for the perfect urban retreat. Whilst we’ve spent many hours there just reading, sun bathing and taking photos with the place all to ourselves, it has become more popular of late as a photography location so you shouldn’t be surprised to find models having their hair and make up done on the benches there before being snapped against the pretty foliage. Still, it’s the perfect place for a quiet picnic (I had my 30th Birthday party there in fact!), and you’ll not find many places more photogenic.
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The Monument

Very nearby is the Monument to the Fire of London, just 61m from where it started on Pudding Mill Lane. The huge Doric column was designed by Christopher Wren, and is worth visiting just to take photos from outside….although inside is where it really gets exciting. Within the column is a spiral staircase which takes the intrepid explorer right to the top, underneath the symbolic golden urn of flames. The views from there are just stunning, and it’s great for taking photos….there is a grill to stop you from falling / dropping things (much to my comfort) but the wires are far enough apart that you can poke your lens out for a clear shot. It’s only £3 for adults to get in, and you get a certificate to say you’ve done it too!

Mudlarking

Whilst atop the Monument, you’ll have had an amazing view of the Thames, and may even have spied a few mudlarkers along the banks! I have long been fascinated by the treasure hunters who trawl the urban beaches looking for exciting finds that come from the river. You can go on a guided tour in fact to show you the best places to look, and to learn about the history of the Thames and some of the things you can expect to find. It’s at least worth knowing where you’re allowed to go exploring and about the tides too….although I recently explored a little beach further East along the river, near Wapping where I got a wonderful haul! I was delighted to find lots of bits of slate that I’ll be using for presentation on my stall and around the house, as well as a pretty little glass and even a complete clay pipe! The more I looked, the more I found, and the more I filled my pockets with booty! It’s really a very rewarding activity!

Thames River Cruises

Still on the subject of the River, I have to recommend a river taxi along the Thames. There are occasionally free river taxis (like the one we went on last weekend for the Thames Festival), but if you’re not lucky enough to time your trip to coincide with those, the £8 or so to take a trip is very much worth it. There are lots of different companies offering different types of trips along the river from the various public piers. My first trip was from Greenwich on one of the City Cruises boats, which took us all the way to Westminster. Although you can take a more commuter friendly boat using your oyster card, I’d thoroughly recommend taking one of the sight seeing boats so that you have plenty of time for snapping photos. Most of the cruises will offer a free commentary from an unofficial guide, all of whom are super enthusiastic about telling you all about the places you’ll see from the river and the stories that go with them. It’s a lovely way to get about and to see more of London, and a great photo opportunity too.

British Museum

As some of you may recall, my (sort of) New Year’s resolution this year was to see every room at the British Museum. The boyf and I are both members and love our visits there for the special exhibitions, but we did realise that we’d seen only a fraction of the permanent display and wanted to remedy that. We started quite well, ticking off rooms from a copy of the museum plan, but having had the busy year we’ve had, we’ve still not managed nearly half of the rooms! Which I suppose shows just how much there is to see and do there…and all for free too. Of all the museums in London and all over the world I’ve enjoyed discovering, this is the one I know I’ll always come back to. I’m so very proud to have a museum like it, and I’ll never tire of visiting or raving about it. There’s an amazing exhibition on at the moment too (Shakespeare: Staging The World), so if you’ve not been for a while, or at all, then do pay it a visit. I know I’m going to miss going so often!

So with all the Olympics and Paralympics fun gone….the special festivals and events of the summer winding down….and the sun being a little less accommodating to those wishing to just sit and bask in it….there will always be plenty of other things to do in London. And I suppose that’s what I’ll miss the most. Knowing that there’s always something to see or do, no matter what the weather or time of year. I’ll miss being able to walk to some of the best places in the country….but of course that won’t stop me from hopping on the train now and again.

Ems x

Living for the weekend…… 1st and 2nd September 2012 in London

I’ve been making lots and lots of lists this week, in readiness for our move……and not just packing lists and furniture buying lists either. There are so many things I want to do and see before we leave London…..I’ve lived here for 12 years and still haven’t done everything I want to! But then I’m sure I could stay another 12 and still not get through the ever-increasing list! And we’ll not to be too far away, so I’m trying to cut myself a little slack and just make sure I get to as many things as is reasonable! There are a good few things on the list for this weekend of course, and lots of them things that are only on for a few days, so they get priority……

Kings Cross Ice Cream Festival

1st and 2nd September, 11am to 6pm

The Granary Building, Granary Square, Kings Cross

Free entry

This free, family friendly, two-day festival showcases the best ice cream makers in London and the South East and celebrates the history and production of ice cream in the region. Ice cream enthusiasts will learn about the history of ice cream and how it’s made, as well as having the chance to get involved with milking cows, making art, and making ice cream using the latest in nitrogen technologies.

Bowiefest

31st August to 2nd September

ICA, The Mall

Tickets from £10

You may well be as shocked as I am about this, but believe it or not, David Bowie is 65 this year and his seminal album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is celebrating its 40th anniversary! And what a great way to celebrate the man of awesome….with the UK’s first film festival dedicated to David Bowie. The festival includes screenings, talks, Q&As, and is going to make for a truly unique event.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Medals

Until 9th September

The British Museum, Room 37

Free entry

As part of my quest to see every room at the British Museum this year, I popped into Room 37 this Monday and was very impressed with the mini-exhibition there. The display tells the story of the production and design of the medals for the London 2012, including details on the mining of the metal by Rio Tinto, the process of the designs by David Watkins and Lin Cheung, and the fascinating production by the Royal Mint. As usual, the British Museum goes the extra mile by giving historical context for the medals in the shape of 19th and 20th century objects highlighting the longstanding links between Britain and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

Regent Street Festival

Sunday 2nd September, 1pm to 8pm

Regent Street

Free

Head to Regent Street this Sunday for the thirteenth annual Regent Street Festival. Expect eentertainment on the street itself, as well as in-store activities and discounts. The restaurants in the food quarters, Heddon Street and Swallow Street, are also serving special menus and cocktails to boot, and you can keep up to date with everything going on using the Living Regent Street app on your iPhone.

Liberty Festival

1st to 3rd September

Various locations

Free entry

As part of the Mayor of London events for 2012, Liberty Festival offers Londoners the chance to watch the world’s top deaf and disabled performers and artists from the UK and beyond. At venues ranging from the Southbank Centre, BT London Live in the park, the BFI and Potters Fields at More London, you can see comedy, theatre, film and music events, as well as watch the coverage of the Paralympic Games.

The 39 Steps

Criterion Theatre, Picadilly

Special offer tickets from £20

I wouldn’t usually single out one show as a must-see in one of my weekend ideas posts, but I saw this for the second time last night and I just think it’s an unbeatably good night out. Start with a pre-theatre dinner at the stunning Criterion Restaurant (just £19 for two courses on the their set menu, which is packed with seasonal and ethically sourced produce as well as home made bread and butter!), then head just next door to the theatre to see this brilliant show….. Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps, has been cleverly and hilariously adapted for the stage, and has won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy to prove it. With a brilliant cast of just four, the story is acted out using wittily chosen props which imagine up the dozens of settings. It’s fast paced, intelligent, and super funny…..and with special offers on tickets with Time Out, there’s no excuse to miss out!

I hope that’s inspired you! Have a fab weekend!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…… The August Bank Holiday in Instagram

I bally love the weekend. Even more so a long weekend! Despite having lots to do with our impending move, we managed to have a very fun weekend in London as well as in our soon to be home town of Hitchin!

On Friday afternoon straight after work we caught the train into Hertfordshire to stay with Adam’s parents (and the dogs!) in Hitchin. After a yummy supper of fajitas, we watched the BBC Four documentary on Mark Knopfler. It’s an amazing programme and shows what a remarkably lovely and intelligent man he is, as well as an incredibly gifted songwriter.

It was early to bed though because we were keen to start early on Saturday and cram lots into our day! We set off earlyish into town, just a few minutes walk away, and to the monthly craft and farmers market which takes place around the gorgeous St Mary’s Church. I’m hoping to have a stall there myself when we move, so it was lovely to meet lots of the regular traders. I fell in love with the ‘The Knitting Ladies’ stall, which is full of hand knitted treasures, including the most gorgeous bears! The ladies are most proud of their celebrity knits….in one little basket resides Audrey Hepburn, Ziggy Stardust and a Clanger!

After a browse (and buying up some free range bacon, and home made fudge!) we took the minute’s walk to what will be our new home. Adam hadn’t seen it yet, as I viewed it by myself before we signed up, so he was super excited to see it for the first time and I couldn’t wait to go back. It’s a gorgeous property right in town….it’s actually Grade II Listed and belongs to a local historical trust. It’s full of beautiful period features, and there’s lots more space! I’m going to finally have a studio to work in, and there’s even a garden!

With all the extra space to fill, we set off to a local furniture warehouse afterwards to look for some pieces we’ll need. It’s a great place to look for bargainous things….it’s actually run by a charity that our friend Hannah works for, so buying their lovely second hand stuff helps them with their fundraising! We snapped up a wonderful little extending pine table with chairs for the kitchen…it’s the perfect cottagey looking table to fit in with the old house.

The thrifting didn’t end there though, as we popped into Letchworth and picked up some gorgeous dining chairs. As well as all the shops to look in, there was a sort of mini vintage car show going on in the pedestrianized High Street. I fell in love with a huge turquoise Chevrolet truck, and an amazing little camper trailer with a super cute kitchen at the back.

Next it was into Hitchin again for a snoop about, and to buy sausages for supper from the charming Allingham’s which is the wonderful butcher on the market square and has been there since the 1860s! We couldn’t resist some more furniture shopping though, and Adam fell in love with (and bought!) a stunning sewing machine and table. I also picked up a darling little camera….the Italian Comet S which takes 127mm film…can’t wait to get a roll and try it out!

After our busy day, we needed a serious re-fuelling and yummed up an awesome fry up! It was to the sofas after that though to slob away the evening in front of the telly….we watched the BBC Drama ‘Best of Men’ which I’d been wanting to see for a while. It’s about the first ever Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville, and the amazing work there of Dr Guttmann. We all really enjoyed the programme which featured Rob Brydon (one of my favourites from Gavin and Stacey)….it’s well worth watching for anyone interested in the games.

After a little Sunday lie in, we started the day with a nice long walk across Ickleford Common, past Gerry’s hole and over the railway to the Lavender and Sunflower farm. Everywhere looked very lush….. there was wild chicory flowering everywhere, and the fields of wheat just looked incredible. We saw lots of sloe berries getting almost ready to pick (we are planning on making a large batch of sloe gin this year again) as well as lots of rosehips that we plan to make something with too.

After that it was more furniture shopping, at the big shopping park in Stevenage. We tried out lots of sofas, but both chose the same as our favourite, so it was an easy decision and we left having ordered a gorgeous two seater and three seater in sanded and waxed leather, which is now being made for us in Italy….hopefully it’ll be delivered not too long after we move in!

That sorted, we drove to Benington Lordship for the annual chilli festival. The house and grounds are just stunning (I hope to go back in the new year to see the famous snowdrops!), so it was lovely to wander round all the stalls selling chilli-based products and chilli plants of every variety. We bought a big box of Stratta‘s award winning flavoured vinegars (including the lavender, elderflower, raspberry and blackberry)…..and yummy preserves from Jules and Sharpie (including their hot apple and sage jelly, the green chilli and lime jelly and the hot marmalade)…. I’m really looking forward to serving them up and cooking with them.

It was off home then for a quick fish supper, before packing and heading back to London. We wanted to cram as much into Monday too, so we had a big breakfast at our local, then made our way to the British Museum. We have membership there and we promised ourselves that we would see every room there this year….we’ve not done terribly well really but we have at least seen all the special exhibitions.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the Shakespeare exhibition there ever since it was announced, so we made our way there first. It’s a wonderful exhibition, which comprehensively walks you through all the historical impacts and influences on the playwright, and on ‘his London’. It’s the perfect show for this year of festivities I think….I learned lots about the history of London and England, and the beginnings of Great Britain and our National identity.

It’s quite a big exhibition (well worth a visit and the £14 entry, although you can become a member and get in free!) so we needed a sit down afterwards…. There is now an additional cafe in the Great Court, run by Benugo, and we had a perfect double espresso and flat white there whilst watching the window cleaners high above us on the glass ceiling.

We couldn’t miss the chance to go and see the Olympic and Paralympic medals too whilst they are being shown there, so we popped in to see them and the exhibition about their design and the history of the medals. Right next door is the stunning clocks and timepieces room, so we investigated that next…..I fell in love with the huge gold ship clock which was used to call guests to dinner (it plays music via an internal organ, ‘sails’ across the table, and fires its cannons!). It was lovely to hear all the amazing clocks chime on the hour too, and there is even a charming cuckoo clock!

It was a lovely day outside when we emerged from the museum, so we sat in nearby Russell Square to eat the fruit we’d packed, before walking back to the bus stop. Once home I started on our supper of roasted butternut squash stuffed with ratatouille and topped with cheese, and we’d eaten it in good time to settle in front of the telly to watch our friends appear on Only Connect! It was ace to see them and their admirable performance….well done guys!

We were too shattered after our busy weekend to do anything other than sit, so we slobbed out watching The Incredibles on Blu-ray (which looks amazing!) before hitting the hay…… what an awesome long weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours!

Ems x

Ideas for the weekend….. Sun in London……?…… At the weekend….??

So the weather man says it’s going to be a lovely weekend by all accounts! And I for one plan to make the most of it!…..

The much anticipated Shakespeare, Shaping the World special exhibition has finally opened at the British Museum this week! The museum has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company to present ‘a unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city, seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays’. Part of the World Shakespeare Festival (which in turn is part of the London 2012 Festival), the exhibition runs until 25th November. Tickets are best booked in advance from the website and cost £14, although Members get in Free!

My name is Emily and I am a photo booth addict.

Since photo booths popped up a few years ago as party entertainment, I have hired stacks for events and weddings….leaving me with plenty of chances to ‘test’ them out!….I have a whole box full of photos of me pulling various faces and wearing odd wigs and giant sunglasses! Booth Nation provide an awesome range of booths for hire, and to celebrate the growing popularity of the photo booth, they are hosting the first ever Photo Booth Festival this Saturday! There will be food, drinks, music, and of course LOTS of photo booths to play about in! What fun!!!

As long as the sun is shining, why not head to the beach? And for Londoners this July and August, there’s a beach right here in town! The Roundhouse is hosting the Camden Beach on its rooftop, with a tiki bar, deckchairs, ping pong….and of course some bucket and spade action! It’s open from 11am to 11pm daily, and is free to get in….there are also happy hours on Mondays to Fridays from 5pm to 7pm for buy one get one free cocktails.

Open City is hosting two very exciting photo tours this Saturday…. ‘From Wren to Rogers‘ will look at how to photograph the City and focus on its impressive mix of history and modernity….. whilst ‘London Riverside‘ will take in the iconic London river-scape and help to discover the city’s links with the Thames. The tours are about 3 hours long and cost £22.50…. don’t forget your camera!

Following the success of their amazing Stew House this winter, the Dead Dolls Club have teamed up with the London Fields Brewery to host A Summer Affair. Expect a true party atmosphere with DJs, brilliant beers, incredible food, and stalls, as well as BBQ Butchery mast classes. It’s free to get in too!

So it seems it’s been going on forever, but with the opening of the Olympics just a week away, the torch relay is finally hitting London this weekend! On Saturday the torch will travel from Greenwich to Waltham Forest, and on Sunday it makes its way from Redbridge to Bexley. You can keep track of it here….don’t forget your union jacks! (image courtesy of Freddy Boo)

Enjoy the sun folks!

Ems x

Hitchcock’s Blackmail screening at the British Museum

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As part of the BFI‘s ‘The Genius of Hitchcock’ (which is in turn part of the London 2012 Festival), we went on Friday night to see Blackmail…..at the British Museum, no less!

We are members of the museum and so received an email ages ago to give us a heads up that it was going on. I’m so glad we did, as it was a one off gala screening and rather a ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of thing. The film was to be shown in the open air, right in front of the museum, which had been chosen because it so heavily features in the film…. So we arrived to the museum well prepared for an evening outdoors, and settled down onto the grass on and under several layers of blankets, and with some very welcome cushions!

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Blackmail is one of the Hitchcock films that the BFI has been working hard to restore. He actually made two versions of the same film, with almost the same cast and crew….one as a silent film and the other as Britain’s first ‘talkie’. The film started as a silent film, and indeed the director was said to prefer this format, which is why I was so pleased to see the silent version.

The soundtrack was provided by a live orchestra, performing Neil Brand’s specially commissioned score, and I have to say this was a real highlight for me. The music was fantastic in its own right, but moreover provided the perfect backing to the action and was certainly responsible for aiding the suspense and making me jump!

The film itself really is a masterpiece. The story of a young policeman, whose bored fiancee bites off more than she can chew when she is enticed up to an opposing suitor’s studio, I found myself compelled by the story from very early on. The film portrays a rather realistic and grimy London, although there was such excitement when the chase scene culminated right at the British Museum….. It was wonderful to se it as it was, and to recognise rooms featured in the villain’s desperate escape attempt.

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I left wowed by the brilliance of Hitchcock, and this wonderful film……and instantly wanted to see more silent films, as well as North by Northwest (my favourite Hitchcock film).

You have another chance to see Blackmail, both the silent and talkie versions, at the BFI in August….you can still get tickets here.

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Ideas for the weekend…..

A whole weekend…..all mine! I have absolutely no set plans for this weekend, and I am so looking forward to it! I’ll be sure to get in plenty of relaxing and slobbing about (it’s a busy old summer, so I need it!) but as usual, I know I’ll be tempted by an adventure or two! And here are the most likely distractions……

Christian Louboutin 20 Years Design Museum Retrospective (photo from Marian Kihogo)

Now I know I’ve harped on about this already, but this weekend is your last chance to catch this…. Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum celebrates a career which has pushed the boundaries of high fashion shoe design. The exhibition reveals some of the artistry and theatricality of the iconic designer’s work, offering the visitor a unique exploration of his processes, right from the initial drawing to production. Adult admission is £10.

East End Film Festival

The East End Film Festival is one of the UK’s largest film festivals and each year hosts a multi-platform festival in London, with a rich and diverse programme of international premieres, industry masterclasses, free pop-up screenings and family activities. Their mission is to ‘discover, support, and exhibit pioneering work by global and local independent filmmakers, and to introduce viewers to innovative and challenging cinematic experiences’. The festival ends this Sunday and includes lots of free screenings…. I have my eye on F.W. Murnau’s ‘A Symphony of Horror’ which is to be shown at Spitalifelds Market at 9pm on Saturday, and Rob Curry and Anthony Fletcher’s The Tempest which is showing at Genesis at 6:30 on Friday, followed by a Q&A.

Mind the Map: Inspiring art, design and cartography

Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography is showing at the London Transport Museum until 28th October. The largest of its kind, the exhibition explores geographical, diagrammatic and decorative transport maps, as well as the influence of the iconic London Tube map on cartography, art and the public imagination (notably on lots of the fabulous treasures in their shop!). The displays on show include previously unseen historic material and new artworks by artists including Simon Patterson, Stephen Walter, Susan Stockwell, Jeremy Wood, Claire Brewster, and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre. Adult admission is £13.50.

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration is now showing at Buckingham Palace as part of its summer opening. The exhibition shows some of the many ways in which diamonds have been used by British monarchs over the last 200 years, and includes an exceptional display of a number of The Queen’s personal jewels. Adult tickets are £18.00 and the exhibition is open until 7th October.

Picasso Prints

The British Museum has recently acquired a complete set of Picasso’s Vollard Suite, 100 etchings produced by Picasso between 1930 and 1937, and is now exhibiting them as one of their free displays. Reflecting Picasso’s developing interest in classical sculpture, the prints were created when Picasso was romantically involved with his young muse and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Most exciting for me though, there is a real focus on classical linearity, with scenes featuring the Minotaur, one of my favourite classical stories. You can see the collection until 2nd September, but this Saturday from 2pm Bartosz Glowacki, from the Royal Academy of Music, is to play French accordion pieces from Picasso’s Paris (such as Edith Piaf, Felix Mayol, Lucienne Boyer, Marie Louise-Damien, Marie Dubas and Maurice Chevalier) to celebrate the collection.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is focusing on community gardening, highlighting how gardening can bring communities together and improve communal spaces. There is a new ‘Low Cost/High Impact gardens’ show, a floral marquee, plant village, and the Hampton Court Grapevine Theatre which will feature celebrities and live TV. There are also over 600 exhibitors to see over the 34 acres of show ground which is open until the end of this weekend.

I hope you all get in your fair share of slobbing about and adventuring too!

Ems x

About to turn 30…… some serious distraction planning

So this June I will be turning 30. I believe it’s customary to dread this, and although I have no idea why, the prospect does indeed fill me with dismay. But as with most things, I find that if I do plenty of planning, and have lots to look forward to over the summer, the impending doom doesn’t seem so scary.

And so I’ve been booking and planning and organising my way through the last month, so that the path to my 30th is filled with lots of fun activities. Here is what I have coming up this summer…..

Tonight I’m going to see Babel in Caledonian Park. It’s a site specific theatre project, produced by Wild Works and Battersea Arts Centre. Created specially for the park and its awesome clock tower, the promenade performance boasts a 300 strong cast and plenty of impressive effects. I am ever so excited…. although I would really rather it wasn’t raining! Wax jacket and wellies it is!

Babel

I’ve been wanting to see the Mondrian and Nicholson exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, and I’ve just found out that you can go for free on Mondays….. so that’s where I’ll be heading next week, before the exhibition closes on the Sunday. I’m a huge fan of Mondrian, in fact I went over to the Hague just to see his work at the Gemeentemuseum, so I can’t wait to go.

Also finishing soon is the Hermes retrospective at the Royal College of Arts. The prestigious brand is celebrating its 175th Birthday this year and the exhibition will host exquisite leather pieces from Thierry Hermes’ beginnings in Paris and throughout the brand’s history. It’s free to get in too.

In the last week of May, I will finally get to see the theatre version of War Horse. I’ve been meaning to go for the longest time and we had to book ages in advance…. but we have managed to get front row seats for what promises to be an incredible, and emotional performance.

War Horse

I’m looking forward to my friend Siobhan’s Hen Do at the end of the month too. We’re going bowling and dancing and drinking…. sounds like lots of fun afoot!

But before the month is out, I get to see Anthony Minghella’s enchanting production of Madame Butterfly at The London Colisseum. I have loved each of the English National Opera’s shows I’ve been to see…. and have seen some of my favourites twice even. This is the production that I most wanted to come back though, and to share with Adam. He’s less keen about the opera than I am but I found this version so stunning and unforgettable that I hope he enjoys it nearly as much as me!

Madame Butterfly

It being my Birthday month, I wanted some pretty big celebrations in June. And rather conventiently, I’ll be starting right away with the Jubilee long weekend. I am most excited about the boat pageant on the Thames…. we are pretty close to Tower Bridge so I’m hoping to get a good view!

Soon after that it’s Adam’s birthday, and we’ll be starting celebrations with a trip to see 39 Steps at the Criterion. It’s another show we’ve been meaning to see for ages, so I can’t wait to see how it’s staged (especially with only a cast of only 4 playing 139 roles!), as well as dinner beforehand next door at the glorious Criterion Restaurant (Christian Bale once ate there you know!).

Criterion Restaurant

The following week will see the start of my birthday celebrations proper….. my very good friend Michelle is coming over from the States and we’ll be spending three days in wonderful Paris as part of her visit. I adore Paris and I’m looking forward to a less hectic trip there now that I’ve seen a lot of the sights….. I can’t wait to mooch about the markets and discover new places wandering the little back streets.

The next weekend will see my birthday picnic in my little secret garden in the City. There should be a good bunch of us there, hoping for good weather! The bunting is pressed ready, so I just need to fill a picnic basket with goodies! Drinks will be Pimm’s and most likely my new favourite….. our ‘Turkish Delight’ cocktail made from our own rose flavoured vodka and pink lemonade!

On my actual birthday weekend, Adam is taking me for breakfast at The Wolseley on Piccadilly. I’ve always wanted to go there and their breakfasts are famous….. I think I may go for something like the haggis and duck eggs or the kedgeree. I just need to decide what to wear!

And for another outfit dilemma…. on the sunday I’m being treated to the Pret a Portea afternoon tea at The Berkley. This is something else I’ve wanted to do for an age too! The elegant tea draws on the season’s trends and fashions, with cakes and fancies styled on key pieces of the season. I can’t wait to see which pieces make an appearance!

Fasionista’s Pret a Portea

Not one to limit my birthday celebrations to just a week, I’m continuing the following week with another trip to the opera. This time it’s the premier of Damon Albarn’s new opera, Dr Dee. I saw Monkey at the O2 and loved it, so I am super excited about this!

Then it’s the first wedding of the season for me…. this one is London based and I have my outfit all ready. I picked up a gorgeous champagne gold satin cocktail dress in the Reiss sale earlier this year, and will be pairing it with my beloved Kiki heels from Kurt Geiger. I’m also hoping to make myself  a hat in time too!

Kikis

July will be busy too….. we’re off to see Hitchcock’s Blackmail at a special BFI outdoor screening at the British Museum. I’ve not seen the film before but I have high hopes, especially with the unique setting. Here’s hoping for great weather again!

Next, we’re hosting a friend from out of London for the weekend….. I’m planning a wonderful dinner on the Saturday, but on Sunday the plan is to take the wine tour at Vinopolis. I’ve taken it twice before, as well as formal wine training, but it really is such a good day out that I wouldn’t mind doing it a hundred times!

I get another trip to the opera in July, as my friend Jane and I go to see Porgy and Bess. I’ve not seen this before, but I know some of the lovely and famous songs from it and I’m looking forward to seeing how the story goes. Even if it is a little emotional!

Porgy and Bess

We finish up the month with a trip to Devon for the next wedding. I managed to snag some bargainous First Class train tickets, so the arduous journey shouldn’t be unbearable! I’m looking forward to a weekend out in the countryside, and hopefully we’ll fit in some lovely walks as well as the main event!

So that’s my summer as planned so far! Still time to fill up August, although I suppose I may need a rest by then with all this going on! I’m hoping to book in some time with friends to have lots of dinner parties and soirees once the main holiday rush is over. And maybe we’ll fit in a mini break or two out of town. Hope it’s sunny!

What are your plans for summer?

Ems x

For the weekend……

So I’m tres busy this week getting ready for the craft market on Saturday, which is why I’ve not managed as many weekend ideas as usual. But here are a few things I would recommend to do……

Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

British Museum, £12, until 15th April

I can’t believe this exhibition is nearly over. I went to one of the members’ nights to see it, just after it opened, and I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since! As usual though, things have conspired against me and it closes this Sunday. There are still tickets left though (I recommend you book in advance, or if you become a member you can get in for free with no queueing!) for what is a very inspiring exhibition. Charting the history of Hajj, the exhibition conveys a real insight into how the pilgrimage to Mecca is both core to the Muslim faith and a spiritually enhancing experience. It’s a lot wordier than most of the British Museum exhibitions, although there are some wonderful artefacts, photos and documents on show and it’s curated well enough that I didn’t get bored of taking everything in! Towards the end of the exhibition there are some stunning pieces of art created specially for the exhibition, which wonderfully symbolise the experience of Hajj and its impact.

Animal Inside Out

Natural History Museum, £9, until 16th September

I can’t wait to see this exhibition which has just opened (check me out giving you more notice this time!). Created by the team behind Gunther von Hagens’s ‘Body Worlds’, this time it’s animals under the spotlight. Featuring over 100 specimens, the exhibition examines the biology, anatomy and physiology of animals, illustrating how anatomy is crucial to learning more about evolution and the natural world.

The F.U.S.S Craft Market

Lochaber Hall, Hither Green, £1, 14th April

I’m so excited to be hosting my first ever table at a craft fair this weekend and have been working hard to make lots to sell and showcase. It’s a new fair too, although F.U.S.S have been holding a wonderful Christmas Fair in Hither Green for a few years. I love the concept of F.U.S.S, a local group whose objective is to build a real community in the area, planting flowers and arranging clean up days to make the area so lovely.

The Craft Fair will see local designers, makers and sellers coming together to showcase jewellery, artwork, vintage clothing and all kinds….plus F.U.S.S will be hosting a refreshment stall with tea and cakes made by the wonderful Never Eat Wobbly Jelly amongst others! Do come along!



Oh and it’s set to be sunny (if a little chill) so enjoy your weekend!

Ems x