Showing posts with label Exploring London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exploring London. Show all posts

Friday 8 February 2019

Instagram Royalty at Osterley Park

Last Wednesday I got to play with Ros Atkinson (@her_dark_materials) at Osterley Park, where she hosted a fun workshop for about a dozen enthusiasts. She'd set the props up in the Osterley kitchen before we got there, and we had a couple of hours to go nuts and take photos.

Friday 1 February 2019

London Institute of Photography

Last week I shimmied over to the London Institute of Photography on Brick Lane to do their beginners' course. I've been taking photographs pretty much all of my  life,and it's been something that I've hugely enjoyed doing. I've owned a succession of fairly respectable cameras, but I've pretty much always kept them on automatic or some other-semi automatic programme that did all the thinking for me. I haven't troubled my head with the physics of how any of it worked. And I've been delighted with myself on those rare occasions when the planets have aligned and I've bagged the odd decent shot here or there.

But last week all of that changed. I explored the mysteries of the exposure triangle, learnt how to pan, investigated how to achieve shallow depth of field with good bokeh, and how to get greater depth of field for landscape or street photography. It was an eye-opener as I discovered more and more of what my respectable but not-very-fancy camera could do, and how the art of taking a decent photo actually has more to do with technique than simply being in the right place at the right time.

Saturday 13 October 2018

Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Fair 2018

For all of us in the stitching community there's nothing quite like the big Ally Pally Autumn Fair. There are lots of other craft fairs, but this is the big'un, and I, for one, always feel like I'm missing something if I'm not able to go.

This year I got an early ticket for Thursday morning. I rocked up 5 minutes before the official opening time, and the place was already pretty much full to capacity already. I'm a bad girl who likes to come by car so that she can transport her swag bag (day's shopping ... wicked 😈) home with minimum muscle strain. I was able to find a space in the free car park, but only just ... .

A chum, who trolleyed in on a late ticket that afternoon (after 3 p.m. entry), told me that it was fairly civilised when she was doing the rounds, but I'd have to say it was a bit too much of a push when I was there.

Still - gripes about how many of us there were apart - it was a great morning out.

Friday 23 February 2018

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

The other day I toddled along to Kew Gardens with Jenny, one of my besties, to see the Kew Gardens Thai Orchid Festival. It was all her idea. Having grown up in Columbia she really knows her orchids, which is more than can be said for me. I'm more of an Ikea, bargain basement orchid grower - someone who should never be trusted with anything too precious or too delicate.

Saturday 27 January 2018

Comfy Cardie ... circa 1600

When I'm feeling a bit shivery and off-colour I like to climb into a certain cosy grey cardigan with huge pockets and a roomy bagginess that perfectly hides the contours of my body. It's not going to win me any points for elegance, but it's so comfortable that it feels like I'm wearing a hug. And the other day I discovered that comfy cardigans have been a thing for several centuries.

I was invited to a really interesting talk at the V&A. It ended in the Stuart section of the British Gallery, where I spotted this amazing knitted cardigan. It wasn't featured on the talk, but, being a knitter, I had to stop and admire it.

The museum sign said that it dated from approximately 1600, and certainly no later than 1620 - so, quite possibly, someone was pottering around in this very cardigan, feeling cosy and snug whilst they chewed the fat with Guy Fawkes and dreamt up the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 ... .

Knitted jacket 1600 - 1620 (back view)

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Mid-Summer Meadow of Cornflower Blue ...

Last night I took a short-cut through Walpole Park on the way home. As I was steaming along I came across the most beautiful sight: a mid-summer meadow of cornflower blue. I was enchanted. All I needed to complete the scene was for Puck and Bottom to wander in stage left ...

Friday 27 January 2017

January blues banished ...

I've been known to bleat on about how much I hate January. But you know it hasn't been so bad this year. I've been embracing January, enjoying its cold frosty days that have opened out into blue skies and sunshine. I've enjoyed getting the big coats out of the closet, muffling up in multiple layers of woolliness, snuggling indoors in front of the fire and tucking into winter comfort food - stews and soups and curries and cakes - with gusto.

Walpole Park, Ealing, West London
Walpole Park, Ealing, West London

Friday 5 August 2016

Fabulous Foxes ...

On our last day in London I came down early to get ready for my final day at Fibre East. When I looked out into the garden I was amazed to see a vixen with two cubs chasing each other through the flowerbeds. They were so puppy-like. One of the cubs was a great deal more timorous than the other one, and immediately ran off to hide when my sleepy-eyed mug appeared at the window, but Mum and the braver brother didn't scamper. They stayed and partied until I let the WonderDog out for his morning comfort break.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Georgian Embroidery Workshop ...

Last Wednesday I headed over to Osterley Park, where their lovely volunteers were hosting a Georgian embroidery workshop. It sounded amazing, and, whilst my terrible eyesight makes embroidery a bit of a challenge for me, I was intrigued to learn about a group of ladies who were keeping alive the skills of the eighteenth century needlewomen. Bravo to them!

As it turned out the workshop was on whitework, which involves white stitch-work on the finest and most delicate of cotton cloth to produce an effect (when done well!) not dissimilar to that of fine lace. With my limited experience and wonky eyes it would have been difficult to have come up with something that was a greater personal challenge for me. However, the wonderful ladies assured me that they would not be put out in the least if I failed to place a single sensible-looking stitch in my fabric. The object of the workshop was to learn, to be inspired and to enjoy.

The ladies leading the class had very kindly brought along their own favourite books on the topic, which they invited us to look at for some inspiration.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Ham House ...

They say it's haunted ... very, very haunted ... .

Ham House, Richmond
Ham House, Richmond viewed from the Duchess's Garden

And I guess if a house's been standing since 1610, just playing the statistics there's got to have been one or two residents over that length of time who were reluctant to move on - especially when the setting's as splendid as this one. So if you're going to go looking for spooks and ghosts and things that go bump in the night ... then this house is probably a pretty good place to start.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

the cheesemonger and his tomb in the leafy churchyard of St. Mary's, Ealing ...

When I'm going to South Ealing tube station I often take a shortcut past the allotments, and down the side of St. Mary's churchyard. St Mary's is a rather lovely old church. Most of the building dates from the eighteenth century with later Victorian and twentieth century additions.

 Now I have to 'fess up: I've always been fascinated by churchyards. To me they represent libraries filled with the life-stories of those interred within, all laid out and filed in a random system of headstones and tombs. 

And there's one large, distinguished-looking family vault, resting in a prime position just beside the wall of St Mary's church that's always made me pause.

The family name, Strudwick, sounded very solid and English and respectable to my Irish ears. And I've always wondered about the patriarch lying within, surrounded by several of his nearest and dearest. His rather succinct inscription reads: 

William Strudwick died December 30 1829 aged 60 years

The other morning I had to wait around for some workmen. I couldn't get on with any proper work of my own. But I had my laptop and an internet connection. So, to while away the time, I decided to do a little on-line detective work to see what I could unearth about this William Strudwick. 

Wednesday 16 March 2016

just saying ... the thing about Mrs Arnolfini's lovely woollen dress ...

Jan van Eyck (circa 1390–1441) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you watch the Waldemar Januszczak series about the Renaissance on the BBC? It was really interesting. I was lucky enough to watch all 4 episodes as I was finishing off a project. I love catch-up telly when I'm working on something that leaves my brain free to enjoy all the good stuff that I never get to watch live-time.

In the first episode the wonderful Waldemar talked about this painting from the National Gallery painted by Jan Van Eyck in 1434. It's an odd little painting that I know well. In fact, truth be told, I could look at it for hours, like some kind of time-travelling voyeur. I mean, spare a thought for the fact that it's transporting us back half a millennium to this couple's bedroom in Bruges, then the textile capital of Europe. I should add that it was fashionable, back then, to entertain guests in your bedroom so that they could see (and sit on) your opulent textiles.

Friday 11 March 2016

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Okay, okay, I may be gilding the lily - or should that be the daffodil? -  a bit. In truth it's hard to do the lonely as a cloud thing on Ealing Common with the traffic thundering by on the Uxbridge Road, but it is just a little bit glorious out there at the moment with the wonderful mini-daffodils that are exploding with cheerful colour all over the grass. 

Saturday 16 January 2016

Moonlit London by the Thames ...

The weather in London has finally turned wintery, and the very best sort of wintery at that: cold and crisp with blues skies that make the spirits soar. Sadly we were unable to go out and make the most of it yesterday. I had a towering mountain of work, and a series of meetings that kept me indoors all day.

Finally night fell, and I had to take Emi to swim club. Normally I bring a book or some work, and sit around with the other parents waiting for our kids to do their stuff. But last night I brought the Wonder Dog, left the child with his chums and tore off to the river. It was wonderful. Exhilarating. Joggers jogged by; a few revellers hung around the riverside watering holes having a sneaky smoke outdoors. And apart from that it was just my faithful hound, the moonlight, the river and me. An amazing moment stolen from my normal routine.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Greece v Rome ... intelligence squared

On Thursday night Mr B and I went with some friends to a debate, Greece v Rome,  organised by Intelligence² at Central Hall Westminster. In the Greek corner, we had London Mayor, Boris Johnson, arguing the case for the world's first democracy, the satire-loving Greeks, and in the Roman corner we had the formidable Prof. Mary Beard. The billing for the event boasted that, had Mary been in charge, the Roman Empire would still be going strong! And that wasn't hyperbole. For all of Bojo's considerable eloquence and charisma, she wiped the floor with him.

Going into the debate 30% of us (self included) had no clear view, 38% favoured Greece and 32% were in the Roman camp. After Mary had finished her argument, the vote went in favour of Rome as she romped home with a 56% majority. She argued about the enduring legacy of the Romans, how they had built the first super-city in which their architecture was only eclipsed by feats of engineering made possible by the industrial revolution in the 19th century, and about how they had been inclusive extending citizenship to everyone, regardless of their country of origin or how humble their status, to create an upwardly mobile, multi-cultural society.

It was a good-natured exchange that threw up lots of interesting insights into the classical world and both speakers made us laugh. Intelligence² have an amazing programme of debates over the coming months. Videos of many of their past events can be viewed for free on their website: Intelligence Squared. The only thing to bear in mind, if you'd like to go along, is that tickets sell out quickly. So, if you see something that tickles your imagination, book it straight away.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Monday 26 October 2015

Halloween tombstones ...

As Halloween draws nearer I've been enjoying some macabre tomb carvings. The carving below used to adorn a grave in St. Lawrence's Churchyard, Exeter. Today it lives in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. It dates from the 1600s when such tomb ornaments were very much the vogue. They lived through some pretty tough times back then. There was the English Civil War (1642 - 1651), followed by the religious excesses of Cromwell's Commonwealth and Protectorate, the Black Death raised its deadly face in 1665 and, after the Restoration, there was considerable apprehension as to the direction in which the House of Stuart was leading the country. It was a time of intense religious debate and radical politics. And normal folk, convinced that they were living in the last days, and that the end of the world was nigh, took to the macabre to underline their own fragile mortality ... .

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Chocolate week ...

I've only just realised that we're in the middle of  London Chocolate Week. Eeek! Why haven't I heard about this wonderful celebration before? It overlaps with the London Rumfest, billed as the World's biggest 3-day festival of rum, and the two are being paired in a chocolate and rum tasting event on Friday at the Chocolate Show in Olympia. The Chocolate Show is running from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th October, and features an impressive array of London's top chocolatiers. Top billing, however, has to go to the chocolate fashion show. Let's hope the spotlights on the cat walk won't melt the couture or things could get really messy ... .

Well it all sounds suitably bonkers, so I thought that I might as well join in. And, let's be honest, if there's chocolate involved I don't need much persuading. So I'm off to rustle up some of the very best Chocolate Brownies for the troops over here at Talk-a-Lot-Towers. You can find my recipe here: The best chocolate brownies - ever!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

When a silver thimble was wedding bling ...

Yesterday morning I was racing through gallery 116 at the Victoria & Albert Museum when I chanced upon a little exhibition called A Stitch in Time. Well, in truth it's little more than one display case on the bridge of the marble stairway that runs up to the third floor, so it's a teeny weeny bit extravagant of the good folk down at the V&A to bill it as an exhibition, but, nevertheless, it made me stop and think.

Until the second half of the nineteenth century us regular folk - not the Great and the Good with their fashionable tailors, costumiers, hosiers and milliners - would have had to get by with home-made clothes. Today sewing, knitting and the other textile crafts are regarded as hobbies, something we do for fun, but back in the day they were essential life skills for all but the wealthiest heiresses.

A good wife and mother had many talents, and not least among them was the ability to clothe her family. Being nifty with a needle was, for many, as important as being able to read and count. It was certainly a talent that a young woman would have wanted to flaunt. Oh, yes, back in the day being nifty with a needle would have been regarded as just a little bit sexy.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Curtain Factory Outlet ...

Have I ever mentioned that I've got a bit of a thing about curtains and soft furnishings ... .

No? Well, my secret is out: I love 'em!

And now let me share another secret with you: if you're looking to shop where the trade go shopping, where there are over half a million (yes, that's right a cool 500,000 +) bales of fabric to chose from, and all at very reasonable prices then it's the wonderful Curtain Factory Outlet, up in Finchley, North London that you're after.