Museums and Cakes

London has a lot of excellent exhibitions going on in various museums at the moment.  I’ve recently had two trips in to the city, and saw a couple of very different shows, enjoyable for very different reasons.

A couple of weekends ago, I met up with a friend to go to the Museum of London.  I’ve been passed it a few times and a) didn’t appreciate what it was; and b) could never figure out how to get into it as it’s seemingly in the middle of a roundabout.  I’m so glad I’ve finally visited as it’s now possibly one of my favourite museums.

We had gone specifically to see the London Nights show – beautiful photographs of London at night from late 19th century to more modern images.  The photos were stunning and as I wandered around the exhibition, I wished that I could take better night time photography.  I loved the photos where you can’t place when they were taken – the ones which look like they could have been taken yesterday.  The exhibition is on for the next couple of weeks, so go see it if you can.

We then went on to explore the rest of the museum, which is where I quickly fell in love.  There is such a huge range of items on display, all related to London through the ages.  One of the most wonderful permanent exhibitions is the Victorian Walk – a parade of beautiful shop fronts set out like a winding street.  And the shop – oh my goodness, the shop.  What a fitting way to end our visit; I could have spent a great deal of money in there.

After our trip, we walked through the quiet City of London and found ourselves in the vicinity of the insane Doughnut Time.  Their creations are out of this world – the doughnut I had was covered in glitter, and the one I bought for Husband was a white chocolate cheesecake flavour with Oreos.  Truly epic.

Museums and baked goods was the theme of this weekend as well.  There were three exhibitions Husband wanted to see at the V&A  all with a nerdy theme – one on videogames, one on computer art, and one vaguely futuristic.

This trip wasn’t for me, so I allowed him to geek out whilst having a quick look at the displays.  Husband was amused that he found me reading about feminism in video games after temporarily losing me – where else would I be?  It was also fun to see the computer art exhibition as it was in an area of the museum I hadn’t been in before – every time I go to the V&A I find something new.

I loved the arcade games at the end of Design/Play/Disrupt.  I was pretty good at the three Line Wobbler LED games by Robin Baumgarten, and desperately wanted to play a game called Breakup Squad but some kid wouldn’t get off the machine.  I also got to play Queers in Love at the End of the Worlda beautifully poetic game by Anna Anthropy.  It was a crowded gallery though, and the rest of the games all had queues of people waiting to play.

And the baked goods?  Well you can’t visit South Kensington without a trip to the Hummingbird Bakery, especially because they had their halloween cupcakes in at the moment.  HOW CUTE?!?!

Museums and cakes – the two best things about London.

Mr Jones Sample Sale 2018 and collection update!

I have lost control of my Mr Jones Watches collection a little bit.

A quick summary for those new to my obsession – London based Mr Jones creates the most beautiful watches, and is always coming up with new designs that I just have to own.  I’m pretty sure I’m now up to 14 in total, although to be honest, I can’t be certain.

I started off with this post all about my first watch.  And then I bought number two and three.  Covered off four, five, and six on one busy day last year.  Quickly followed up with number seven.  Eight, nine, and ten had to be done to celebrate their 10th birthday.  And eleven appeared one Christmas.

Which brings us up to number twelve, with thirteen & fourteen from this year’s sample sale.

A couple of months ago, Husband was in a very happy mood so treated me to The Hidden City, a beautifully serene design featuring London’s green parrots.  I got number 44 which pleased me immensely – 4 is my lucky number.  Such a gorgeous watch.

Onto the sample sale.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the store on two occasions for their sample sales in the past.  It’s a good opportunity to get a rare watch, or a variation on their current stock.  Personally, I love the chance to find old watches that I haven’t seen before.  For 2018, it was online only – no queuing outside the store, no complaints from those who couldn’t even get to the store.  I was going to be in the middle of a hair salon appointment, so I had visions of me scrolling through the website whilst my poor stylist tried to cut my hair.  Fortunately at the time the sale went live, I was waiting for the bleach to develop so had stress free shopping – phew!

I feel very bad for MJW as unfortunately there were a few stroppy and mean spirited people posting on social media about the sale.  I personally didn’t have a problem with the technical snafu on the website as I just used my common sense plus I also accept that the nature of online sales means that you shouldn’t get too fixated on a specific item because that is when you’re going to be disappointed.  It’s unfortunate to miss out on the watch you want, but there is zero point bitching and moaning about it – some people were saying they would never shop there ever again, or that their whole day was ruined.  Oh please, how ridiculous.

Anyway, my purchases.  The first one I saw sadly got yoinked out of my basket before I was able to purchase it (the black colourways of the Cyclops, and I didn’t whinge about losing it) but I quickly saw two others that I was more than happy with.

The super cute Late Again – there was a choice of two, either one with exclamation marks or one that had “oh no” on the dial.  I preferred the exclamation marks.  It reminds me of The Accurate (but significantly less intense).  It’s just so bright and happy, and I smile every time I look down at my wrist.

I absolutely adore my second purchase – Good Things.  It’s so simple, so clean, and it has unusual blue stitching on it which I love.  And unless you’re looking at the right time, it’s completely nonsensical.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

This watch is a little more beaten up than the other- you can tell it’s been worn or wrapped around something as the leather strap is curved and a little cracked.  The back is also a little scratched up – I’m not so fussed about that as it’s the price you pay for having a sample.  They make it very clear that there may be signs of wear or tear.

By the way, I’m assuming the dial is 24 hours, however I’m not 100% sure.  As I’ve said before, who wants to use their watch to do something as prosaic as tell the time.  That’s just so very boring.

Flight of the Conchords – London 2018

Last weekend had all the makings of a disaster.

I’ll take you back to October 2017.  Flight of the Conchords had just announced a UK tour – their first since we saw them in 2010.  The day the tickets went on sale, Ticketmaster revealed itself to be the truly awful garbage company it is, and we very nearly didn’t get tickets but thank goodness for random internet clicking and an extra date being announced.  A gif party ensued in the group chat.

About two weeks before the gig, it was postponed – poor Bret McKenzie had fallen down some stairs and broken his hand.  They rescheduled to June, which unfortunately ruled out two people from our group of 5 – boo!

June came around, bones were still in tact, new people were added to our party – all seemed fine.  Well, except the fairly major crisis that happened at work which meant I couldn’t get the day off, I had a stressful train ride into London, an even more stressful tube ride over to the O2, and then a tense wait outside the venue for the 5th person to arrive (late).  I genuinely wasn’t looking forward to the gig.  At all.

Thank god I didn’t give up because the gig was AMAZING (sorry Ryan).

As I sat with Husband, Tim, and two of Husband’s people waiting for Bret and Jermaine to come on stage, I really couldn’t imagine how this gig would work in the objectively too big O2 Arena.  How could New Zealand’s fourth most popular duo possibly fill the stage without losing their down to earth, self-deprecating vibe?

Quite brilliantly as it turns out.  There were no flashy sets, no costume changes – just two guys with their instruments (sometimes with a third guy – Nigel, the “New Zealand Symphony Orchestra”), and fantastic camera work which picked up on every subtlety that happened between the two of them, like Jermaine’s blank face during the middle of Foux Du Fafa.

Terrible photo as my phone isn’t that great, but we had good seats.  Would have been nicer to have been closer, but we were lucky to get tickets at all so I can’t complain too much!

Surprisingly, there were a lot of new songs, including a song about Deana from HR and Ian from Accounting which made me howl with laughter.  Some people were disappointed that classics like Business Time were left out, but the new stuff was just as catchy.  One of the songs had a truly insane recorder solo and I would have hated to have missed out on that.  Even the old classics seemed better, like the mash-up of Mother Uckers and Hurt Feelings where I suddenly realised that Bret’s voice is phenomenal.

Towards the end of the show, Jermaine started to get frustrated with someone who kept yelling for them to play Jenny, a song I don’t really remember (and apparently, the band don’t remember it well either).  I don’t know if this was part of the act or if he genuinely was getting irritated, but I laughed so much as Bret chastised him for his anger.  The badinage between the two of them was as hilarious as ever, with conversations about how Jermaine is Captain Fun, the time they both got stuck in a lift, and how their cushions kept falling of their seats.  There was even a good old Brexit reference (Bret-xit and Jermainers) and a bit of sarcasm on the Millennium Dome which made me lol as that’s what I still call The O2.

I can’t say I’d be keen to go back to The O2 again, but I am so happy to have seen FOTC again.  I really need a live album now – I think a HBO special is on its way – and I’ve had the whole set list stuck in my head since the gig.  As we battled through the tube crowds to get to our hotel in the City of London, I realised with joy that I had captured my favourite song moment from The Humans Are dead on my phone:

Binary solo!
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Fun Home at the Young Vic

I have learnt that if Tim offers me a spare ticket to a theatre show, I should say always say yes.  Back in April, he text me to ask if I was interested in seeing Fun Home, and I hadn’t actually heard of it before but when I realised it was at the Young Vic, I was super excited.  The only other play I have seen at the Young Vic was Yerma which was phenomenal, so if Fun Home was even 10% as good, then I was guaranteed a good evening.

Fortunately, it was fantastic (just ever so slightly less gut wrenching than Yerma).

Of course, I know who Alison Bechdel is, but I didn’t know much more about her than the basics – the comic book artist who has a very iconic test named after her.  Fun Home is a musical adaptation of Alison’s memoir, and if you had described to me the subject of her memoir, I would have told you that I couldn’t see how this could possibly make a good musical (spoiler alert – that is wrong).

In the present day, Alison is drawing her memoirs and thinking back to two periods of her life – as a little girl living in Pennsylvania with her parents and two brothers, and as a freshman at college when she comes out amidst the shocking revelation that her Father is also gay.

I fell in love with every Alison – they all played her so perfectly and it’s hard to pick my favourite.  I loved watching the older Alison watch the action on stage – picking apart her own memories with the benefit of hindsight, realising that her Dad wasn’t going out to get a newspaper or that he wasn’t just driving that boy home.  Kaisa Hammarlund is captivating.

Eleanor Kane plays Medium Alison with just the right amount of awkwardness and naivety, falling in love with her first girlfriend and coming to terms with her Father’s sexuality at the same time as figuring out her own.  Her first night with Joan was so beautiful, and my heart was right there with her as she sung about wanting to change her major to Joan.

Our Small Alison was played by Harriet Turnbull who absolutely slayed me with one line in particular – “Do you feel my heart saying hi” from Ring of Keys sung with such sweetness and yearning.  Oh my gosh, I felt physically winded when I heard it!

There was a classic set trick which I won’t spoil as I think it’s more fun for the entire audience to gasp with delight when it’s revealed.  The crew should be very proud with what they have created.  The music was understated, but very in your face when it needed to be.  Everything just worked.  OK, so there wasn’t a happy ending, but sometimes you’re at a point in your life where a little sadness provides a bit of catharsis.

It’s on until September, so go see it!

Mood Music, Crafty Fox, and North Korean Art

Over the first May Bank Holiday, I managed to fit in a good amount of fun (I’ll be getting over jet lag for the second May Bank Holiday so I’m pleased I made the most of the first).

My weekend started on the Friday night with a classic date night – theatre followed by dinner.  Husband bought some last minute tickets to Mood Music at the Old Vic and he managed to get us pretty good seats.  All the better for me as the play featured one of my teenage crushes, Ben Chaplin.  I was obsessed with the sitcom Game On at the age of 15, and Ben was quite a large part of my obsession.  I lost track of him over the years, so was great to catch up with him in one of my favourite theatre venues.

The play itself was interesting, although it did leave me wanting more.  For a story about music, there was surprisingly minimal actual music.  It did feel very ‘placed’ and choreographed – everyone had to stick to set movements around the stage so at times, it came across as  a little forced.

Very much enjoyed it though, and it was nice to do something different on a Friday night.  We then had a late dinner and checked into a the Hilton Bankside so we didn’t have to rush for the last train home.  We’ll definitely be doing that again.

Saturday morning came – we checked out of the hotel, had a leisurely coffee, and I made my way over to the Mercato Metropolitano for my third Crafty Fox (Husband spent the day shopping for a new holiday outfit).  I love this venue and I wish I had more of a reason to visit!

I met up with a fellow Crafty Fox aficionado (my friend Alana) and we wandered the stalls whilst gossiping and analysing our shared love of Matthew Rhys.  I didn’t spend a great deal of money this time, but managed to get myself some more Rosa Pietsch necklaces, and a very cute glittery bow from Pup Tart.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I couldn’t leave it behind.

I then collected Husband from his shopping spree to meet up with Tim for some Saturday afternoon art appreciation.  We went to the House of Illustration in Kings Cross – a small but perfectly formed space which was showing three exhibitions.  We were there to see Made in North Korea which was fascinating (but we had a quick look at the other exhibitions too, including Quentin Blake).  We were there to see the North Korean ‘found objects’ though, and it’s honestly something I have never seen before.  I just don’t understand how he manages to have so much of this stuff!

A catch-up over Ruby Violet ice cream followed (although it was more me grilling Tim on the exact details of his recent trip to New York) and then dinner at Caravan.  Kings Cross has changed a lot since I was there last!

And we were home in time for an episode of Riverdale.  What a perfect start to my Bank Holiday.

Hilton London Bankside

My second hotel visit of the month – the non-refundable stay.

A few months ago, my Mum and I discovered the Hilton London Bankside – it was perfectly located for our impromptu shopping trip, exceptionally well appointed, and not stupidly expensive.  So when Husband and I decided to stay overnight after the Flight of the Conchords gig at the O2, I figured the Hilton would be perfect as it’s just a couple of stops down the Jubilee Line.  Sure, it was non-refundable but of course there wouldn’t be any problems

And then the Flight of the Conchords gig got cancelled.  Sigh.

Rather than waste the room, we went up to London anyway and had a touristy afternoon.  A grey, very rainy, touristy afternoon – classic London.

We managed to check in early which was a relief as we got soaked in the short 15 minute walk from Waterloo.  Once again, the service we received was fantastic – I’ve never come across anything like it in the UK before.  Hilton allows you to select a room online the day before, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a good one so we did end up with a view of a wall.  I still loved the room though – the decor is so minimalist and understated, the bathroom has beautiful tiles and concrete floor, and the Peter Thomas Roth toiletries are great.

Husband had never been to the Switch House at the Tate Modern (which is apparently now called the Blavatnik Building) so we spent most of the afternoon in there.  Although a tip for tourists – never visit on a bank holiday because it was hellish.  It was especially bad in the Turbine Hall with the Superflex exhibition which is basically just free childcare.  We did manage to get to the viewing platform without losing our minds, and because of the weather, it was very peaceful up there.  We also saw part of the Joan Jonas exhibition which was most enjoyable.

After the Tate Modern, we wandered down the South Bank, visited Mr Jones Watches (I suspect another watch post is needed), and a few more of the shops alongside the river.  It was still very wet, but this meant there were less people around.  After the scrum at the Tate, a bit of peace and quiet was needed.

After a quick drying-off back at the hotel, we went for a very sophisticated dinner at Sea Containers House in the Mondrian hotel.  We decided to go in through the hotel entrance rather than the entrance on the Thames – it is a very beautiful hotel and I have this noted for any future stays.  Dinner itself was really lovely, although we ate three courses so by the time I got to my caramelised banana dessert, I was so full.  We were lucky enough to sit by the window, so we people watched as we ate.  It was a great meal.

After a little bit of a restless night – the bed wasn’t particularly comfortable this time round – we met up with Tim for brunch at the Refinery where we all had excellent eggs, before we headed back home and Tim visited a significantly quieter Tate Modern.

As we fiddled about with our bags and coats after checking out, I took the opportunity to take in the Hilton’s lovely Easter display.  They really make such an effort here, and we’ll definitely be back.  It’s such a great hotel.

It was fun to be a London tourist for the day, and did mitigate somewhat against the disappointment of not seeing Flight of the Conchords.  Fingers crossed the re-scheduled gigs go ahead as planned.

Lets go to the Max – Part 2

Four years ago, I sat in an very Off-Broadway theatre, crying with laughter at the most ridiculous show I have ever seen – Bayside the Musical.  Whilst the play was extended on a number of occasions, I didn’t think I’d ever get to see it again but miracle of miracles – it came to London!  Specifically, at The Other Palace which is a lovely little theatre just behind Buckingham Palace.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged Tim to see it (I couldn’t persuade Husband to come with us – not being as familiar with Saved by the Bell as I am, he got totally confused the first time we saw it).  I spent the morning shopping with my Mum over on Regent Street and walked from there to the theatre through freezing snow – good lord, it was cold and I was relieved to get comfy down in their Studio theatre.

It was a slightly smaller theatre than the New York production, and I was a little worried when the actors first came on stage as the audience wasn’t quite warmed up – there wasn’t the levels of hysteria that the Americans had.  But the cast soon had everyone in the palm of their hands (and despite being a matinee, there were still catcalls from the Prosecco-drinking audience as the play went on).

It was difficult not to compare the Brits to the original cast but they definitely held their own and there was one thing that they did so well – a brilliantly sarcastic breaking of the fourth wall.  The first time it happened – which I think was during the song “Let’s go to the Max” – made me laugh so much.  They entirely came out of their cheesy American characters, spoke in their regular British voices and added a genius extra level to this absurd story.

The second act started in the same way as the American with a quick trip to Malibu Sands, but deviated sharply into a self-deprecating scene between The Extras played by William Hazell and Roann McCloskey.  They just ripped into the staging, the direction, the token American in the cast (Ben Campbell as Zack) – no one can put the Brits down better than ourselves.

It was stupid, stupid fun, and I absolutely loved it again.  Here’s hoping for another reprisal so I can see it a third time.

“We can’t wrap this up in just one show,
We need another episode,
Got to work things out, and resolve the plot, 

To be continued, dot, dot, dot”

A Room for London

OK, where did February go?  I had all these posts planned in my head, but none appeared to have made it to my blog.  Normal service will resume, but first I want to reminisce for a bit.

I noticed on Twitter this week that the Room for London had reached the end of it’s life on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  Regular Southbank visitors will know this as the boat on the roof, but it holds a special place in my heart as we spent a night there during it’s first year.

Although it changed to a ballot system in subsequent years, I managed to wangle our stay by manically refreshing the webpage when the nights were released online (whilst simultaneously screaming at everyone in my office to STOP DISTRACTING ME).  I was phenomenally lucky, and Husband was so excited when I revealed to him where we’d be spending our wedding anniversary.

We picked up our key, were taken through a bright yellow door to get to the secret lift, and then we were on the roof!  I loved how temporary everything felt on the outside along the ramshackle walkway, but the inside was beautiful.

We spent the afternoon taking photos and watching the world go by (with a quick visit to a James Bond exhibition at the Barbican in the afternoon), before popping down to the Wahaca below for dinner.  As the sun set, we practised our night photography on the balcony, wrote our entry in the log book, had a wonderful shower with Ren products, and snuggled up in the comfy bed.  Despite being such a small space, it had everything we needed – I could easily have locked myself in, refused to leave, and lived there forever.

There were no curtains to close, so we woke up to beautiful sunshine and went back up to the balcony for a memorable breakfast.

Husband and I have stayed at many incredible places during our relationship, but this was definitely one of my favourites.  I did try my luck again in the ballot on a couple of occasions, but we were destined to only have one night at the Roi des Belges.  I will miss seeing the happy wind turbines on the skyline, and I hope they find somewhere else for it to live.  Maybe once it’s settled, we’ll get the chance to stay again.


See my full photo set on my Flickr account.
Find out more about the A Room for London at living-architecture.co.uk.

Sara Pascoe – LadsLadsLads

On Friday, I dragged myself out of my self-imposed winter hibernation for a trip into London.  On the agenda – dinner, Sara Pascoe at the Wyndhams Theatre, and light installations.

This is the third time I’ve seen Sara, and further continuation of realising how much I identify with her which I first realised after seeing her in 2016.  Admittedly there was slightly less for me to hook into in LadsLadsLads as the show started with the break-up of her last relationship but there was still plenty of “THAT’S ME!” moments even down to her pre-gig/interval music which was basically my Spotify playlist).

There was such an intimacy to her show which I can imagine some people would feel uncomfortable with, and there was certainly some awkward laughter from some of the audience.  At one point, she said there was only two reasons to stand up in front of people – if you make them laugh, that’s comedy but if you don’t, it’s a TED talk but I really felt like Sara’s show was both – when she wasn’t offering funny insights, she was giving us thoughtful comments, all interwoven into a story with multiple call backs.  I adore a comedian that gives me a fully-fleshed story alongside the giggles.

I also want to commend her spectacular heckler management.  I despise idiots who make unsolicited noises in gigs whether positive or negative, and I cringed every time this idiot woman whooped.  It’s so selfish and I will never understand it.  Sara has perfected the art of a perfect withering look though.

An interesting angle for me (and probably loads of others as well), is that I’ll be hearing the other side of the break-up when I see her ex-boyfriend in a couple of weeks.  Based on the fact that I almost cried on a number of occasions in Sara’s set, I’m already preparing myself emotionally for that.

After the show, Tim and I searched out some light installations from Lumiere London.  I’ve missed it on previous years, and only saw a small bit of this year but it’s better than nothing!  We down the South Bank and saw OSC-L, Light on Their Feet, and possibly others too but my favourite was Vertigo by Danish Company The Wave.

I didn’t have my camera on me so all my shots are appalling, but I loved walking through the triangular tunnel.  It’s a real shame Lumiere is only on for the weekend as it would have been great to see it in daylight as well.

December Things

December 2017 will be remembered as the month I sat around feeling sorry for myself.  The last post I made was about how I thought I had bronchitis – apparently, it’s “just” a cough, albeit a cough which made me actually vomit during a meeting at work (oh god, the shame).  Just when I thought it was getting better, I then picked up another cold which has made my cough worse again, so spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s on the sofa.

It’s so ridiculous and pathetic – I’m normally such a well person, so I can’t really understand why I’m so run down.  At least I have another week off work for more lying around feeling sorry for myself.

There were some highlights in December though.

Crafty Fox at the Mercato Metropolitano
The perfect timing for some Christmas gifts, I met up with an old friend to visit the Crafty Fox market which was held at the Mercato Metropolitano which is just gorgeous.  I wish I had another reason to visit Elephant and Castle – they currently have a Backyard Cinema there but I think they’re mostly booked up.

As for the market, I managed to get a lot of gifts there, and some fun things for myself.  I do love a Craft Fox event.

Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar
I normally blog about this weekly, but I just did not have the energy.  It was packed with all the usual goodies, with some new items like the iconic Brazilian Bum Bum Cream and QMS Medicosmetics.  It does feel like a lot more items have gone to my Mum than in previous years, so maybe this one hasn’t been as good?  Still enjoyable though.

Christmas
I mentioned last year that Christmas has become incredibly difficult for me to cope with but circumstances this year meant I was able to have a very quiet Christmas day with both my in-laws and my Mum (and Husband of course).  We didn’t go insane with gifts or anything like that – the commercialism of the holiday is getting truly ridiculous and makes me feel quite uncomfortable at times.  That said, I did get the latest Mr Jones Watch for my collection which I was incredibly grateful for.  It was a very relaxed and peaceful day with wonderful food and good company.

Dark
We got addicted to Dark, the first German language series on Netflix.  It blew my mind – the level of detail, the intricacies of the many stories being told.  On several occasions, a reveal happened on screen but the implications of it wouldn’t hit me for a while.  This meant I frequently turned to Husband at random moments and screamed excitedly at him.  Cannot wait for series 2.

First trip to London
My Mum had my niece for a couple of days over the Christmas break, so we decided to take her on her first trip to London.  On the itinerary – Liberty, Carnaby Street, and of course Hamleys.  She was a little overwhelmed when we first stepped into the famous toy store, but as soon as she saw Peppa Pig cuddly toys, she figured out that this was her shop.  It was very adorable seeing her excitedly spotting different things, and I managed to convince her to get a Supergirl doll (they didn’t have Wonder Woman).  Walking round the busy streets with her yelling at people to get out of the way is a memory I’ll cherish!