Thursday 31 May 2012

A Decade a Day to the Jubilee: Part 2

Glad so many of you enjoyed the first part of my Diamond Jubilee countdown! Without further ado, I present Part 2: The '70s and '80s. The additional challenge of charting of female emancipation through the decades kind of fell by the wayside, but we still got some snaps to document our outfits.

First up, Wednesday, the 1970s. A hazy summer field would have been more appropriate for this outfit, but work got in the way. My colleague (cropped out to preserve his dignity) and I actually accidentally colour coordinated quite well...

I guess you could say that men and women are standing side by side as equals
in this pic, if you were clutching at straws (or straw hats)

And Thursday, the 1980s. This is where it started to get challenging. As I am without power suits in my wardrobe, it was quite hard to find an outfit that was suitably '80s without being too inappropriate (or embarrassing!) to wear to work. I finally settled on the below ensemble. And note my colleague's glasses: they were absolutely awesome - the other side was a black triangle. But, again, sparing him the possibility of public internet humiliation so you can't see their full glory.

Applying my lipstick at my desk, in preparation for my high-powered meeting,
while my male assistant stands by

Tomorrow, the '90s. I think it's just getting harder and harder as I go on, to be honest. It's getting too close to home now, and yet not so close that I actually have any of the items I want for it in my wardrobe... Namely, where are my old Doc Martens when I need them, to recreate either Brit Pop or grunge? As for the '00s, that's going to be very tricky! I wore second-hand and vintage for the whole decade, so I can't even remember what was actually in fashion... Any tips??

Tuesday 29 May 2012

A Decade a Day to the Jubilee

Some of my colleagues and I are doing a "decade a day" countdown to the Diamond Jubilee this week, marking each decade of Her Majesty's reign by dressing in an appropriate outfit. We've been doing a little photo shoot each day (which we've decided to also turn into a development of female emancipation). 

As is my usual fashion, I'm sparing innocent people the embarrassment of appearing on my blog with the aid of some crafty cropping, but I thought I'd share my outfits with you...

Yesterday was 1950s. I kind of regret not going more "all out" with petticoats and red lipstick and such, but I was a bit shy about wearing such trappings to work!

1950s female office assistant's duties - making tea and dusting the books.

Today was the 1960s. I listened to the Kinks as I got dressed and tried to channel Jean Shrimpton...

We can kind of have a proper, independent career now,  if we're happy
being advertising models. The men still decide who passes though...

Tomorrow, we enter the 1970s...

If you fancy joining in the fun, it's not too late! Dress up tomorrow and leave me a link to your photos! Or email me your pics and let me know if you're happy for me to post them in my next post!

Monday 28 May 2012

Puppets After Dark at Abney Park

On Saturday, some friends and I went to see a "puppet opera" in the ruined chapel at Abney Park Cemetery. Sounds to good to be true, doesn't it?

To quote from the programme:

"In Jokasta, an old, wealthy woman falls in love with a young female puppet, and prays to any god who'll listen to be turned into a puppet herself, that she might spend her remaining time on this earth with her great love.

"It is worth noting that the more traditional fairytale would have her pray for the opposite - for her love to become flesh. Such a prayer would not be one of love, but of acquisition. It would entail the essence of the thing desired taking on a convenient form...

"Anyone can pray for the impossible to alter the world. But to sacrifice one's wealth, one's freedom, and one's very being, not rhetorically, but absolutely, in order to enjoy the love of equals, that is love, if love means anything."

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, particularly walking through the cemetery to the chapel as the sun set, with musicians popping out from behind gravestones as we progressed. Some of my friends found the play a bit slow-moving but I found it rather mesmerizing. And maybe I'm a hopeless Romantic, but it actually made perfect sense to me that the woman wanted to become a puppet rather than have the puppet become a human - that way, the puppet would remain who she fell in love with... Although the fact she was in love with a puppet opens up whole questionable areas of being in love with something passive and subservient...

The production is playing again this Thursday through to Sunday, if you're in London and this post piques your interest. It's worth it just to experience the atmosphere in Abney Park Cemetery after dark, though I wish we'd be able to linger a little longer after the play finished. Instead, we were whisked off to a nearby pub. The compensation was that we got musical accompaniment as we walked through the streets of Stoke Newington, drawing the attention of curious onlookers. My friends and I agreed that it would be quite fun to always have musicians accompanying you as you walked about town!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

The Great Gatsby (or not-so-Great Gatsby)

First, gut reaction to the Great Gatsby preview? Please, kill me now. Or take me back in time to the 1920s, where I can just read the book again and again without fear of some abomination and perversion of a film coming along and trying to ruin it for me and a million Gatsby lovers.

Who knows, it may grow on me? And I will still go see it, but I may have to pretend that it is in no way connected with the book if I am actually to be able to sit through it. If I am capable of detaching myself and watching it as a Baz Luhrmann film, rather than an interpretation of one of the best books ever written, it may even be possible to enjoy it...

Everyone will be already be asking the same question but... what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear, both those in agreement and those against me!

Saturday 19 May 2012

Random Reasons to Love London # 5

18th-century engraving of St John's, Smith Square (Image source: Wikipedia)

The other day, I went to a meeting in Westminster with a couple of colleagues. Once it was over, we went for a slight detour on the way back to the office in order to walk past St John's, Smith Street. Tucked away in the terraced streets to the south of Westminster Abbey, this was one of the churches built under the instruction of the Commission for the Building of Fifty New Churches, a body established under an Act of Parliament in 1711. Only just over ten were actually built but they are some of the most striking of London's churches. Others include Hawksmoor's Christchurch, Spitalfields, which will be known to anyone familiar with Brick Lane, and St George's, Bloomsbury, also by Hawksmoor, with its wonderfully playful spire...

St George's, Bloomsbury (Image source: World Monuments Fund)

But I digress. My colleagues and I went to have a look at St John's, Smith Square, built to the designs of Thomas Archer, and completed in 1728. Again, it is a strikingly playful, Baroque building. The legend goes that Archer approached Queen Anne to ask her thoughts on the design of the church. Not particularly interested, her response was to kick over her footstool so that it lay upside down, with its legs in the air. She gestured at it and said, "like that". It henceforth adopted the name of Queen Anne's footstool. After this amusing beginning, however, the story of the church becomes much sadder in the 1940s, as it suffered a direct hit in the Blitz. It was extensively but sensitively restored in subsequent decades, and has served as a classical concert hall ever since.

St John's today (Image source: London Traveltips)

My colleagues and I admired the church from the outside and then one of them decided he'd try and ask at the reception desk if we could have a look inside. Unfortunately we were turned down, as there were apparently preparations going on for a concert and it was necessary to make an advance appointment in any case. Fair enough.

However, as we were walking away from the building, a gentleman came up and asked, "Did I just hear you asking if you could have a look inside?" Thinking he was another architectural enthusiast also interested in having a look, I responded with "Yes, but we were turned down, sadly." To which he responded, "Well, I'm the director, and it would be my pleasure to take you up." Wasn't that a stroke of luck? And what a lovely chap.

He showed us into the church and told us various fun facts, including the proposal suggested in the 1960s to have had Picasso paint the ceiling! That would have just been mind-blowing! My colleagues and I wonder if there's concept drawings lurking somewhere in archives because it would be fascinating to have a sense of what that would have been like. Still, the building is striking enough in its own right so perhaps it's just as well that plan didn't go ahead, as it might have just been an overload!

The interior of St John's, Smith Square (Image source: Venues London)

After our brief, spontaneous and exclusive tour, we thanked our unexpected host and headed off. But what a treat we had, thanks to a friendly and hospitable stranger!

(And, kind of on the topic of things to love about London: in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, don't forget to enter my giveaway! Only a couple of days left...)

Thursday 17 May 2012

Civilized Diamond Jubilee Party

The other day, I received a mailing list email with the potential answer to my "what to do for the Diamond Jubilee weekend" dilemma. As much as I love the idea of the flotilla, it's just going to be so hectic down by the river, isn't it? So, some friends and I are considering retreating to Bedford Square for some civilized entertainment at the Bourne & Hollingsworth Diamond Jubilee Party...

And don't forget to let me know your plans for the Bank Holiday weekend for the chance to win in my Jubilee-themed giveaway.

Monday 14 May 2012

Diamond Jubilee Giveaway


The Diamond Jubilee weekend is not far away now, folks! I've still not actually worked out my plans for the weekend itself, but I do know that a friend and I are planning to wear a decade-appropriate outfit for each of the days leading up to the Bank Holiday, beginning with the 1950s, as the decade of Betty's coronation.

To get in the spirit of the Jubilee, I thought I'd run a wee giveaway, just for a bit of silly fun. Up for grabs are two lovely buttons (warning - they're not those itty bitty ones you get, these babies are a full 2 inches in diameter) and a special edition of the delightfully quaint 'Discover Britain' magazine.

Giveaway now closed.
To be in the draw to win, you simply need to be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post, telling me your plans for the Jubilee weekend. Anyone making nasty comments about our fine monarch will be disqualified. Entry is open to anyone around the world, even for people in those nasty republican countries. The deadline for entries is next Monday, 21 May at 11.59 pm, and I will draw a winner at random the next day.

I look forward to hearing your responses, and good luck!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Love Letter from Normandy

A small selection of the rest of the French trip, which entailed a ferry trip from Portsmouth to St Malo, Mont St Michel (as documented yesterday), a stay in a remote French village, a spot of roof-slating (yes, I can do manual labour!), a visit to Bayeux to see the astounding tapestry, and much eating of cheese and drinking of wine. 

Lone souls on the beach at St Malo
The view from St Malo's town walls

The bay of St Malo

Gotta love a dandy - Chateaubriand, France's own Byron

Miscellaneous views of the French countryside

A Normandy windmill (captured by one of my travelling companions)

Bluebell wood

I was excited by the bluebells...

Views over the valley

Cider and reflections on the ferry home

The Channel / Le Manche

Saturday 12 May 2012

Love Letter from Mont St Michel

I spent last weekend in Normandy on a work social trip. We made it to Mont St Michel, as hoped. I'd really been looking forward to this, and it certainly didn't disappoint.... I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves, though they don't come anywhere near capturing the astounding beauty of this place, or the fun we had there.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Things along the way...

I have all these ideas for posts in my head but I'm still a bit too exhausted from writing thousands of words for my thesis to feel capable of writing an entertaining post. So, instead, I thought I'd share some fun and pretty little moments I snapped as I went about on my site visits.  Here are some from Wells, Somerset...

Wells Bishop's Palace Cat

An artistic use of unused firewood in an unused fireplace

Ducks under the sluice gate

Wells Bishop's Palace moat

All the colours of stone! 

Old friends out for a walk

Detail of stunning Adam and Eve sculpture in the gardens of the Bishop's Palace

I found this description so endearing, and bullet point number two made me giggle...

... and here's the chap himself, unfortunately without a jaunty hat

Sunset on Wells cathedral close