Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Summer Wasting... (aka Lessons Never Learnt)

Shhhhh!  I'm not really here... I'm really doing coursework, I promise...

But seriously, I am working hard.  I just had music on in the background to keep me motivated and this song came on.  

I may technically be an adult, undertaking mature post-graduate study, but sitting here desperately doing my last minute homework before school start backs, I've clearly not matured much from being a school kid in that respect as this song rang a little too true...

So thought I'd take a quick break from my books to share it.  Cute video too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Blog Break / Study Time

I must hit the books!  I've suddenly realised that I have an awful lot of coursework to do before I start classes again in just over a week's time.  So it's heads down and no blogging from me for a while.  But I'll return just as soon as I can.  I have lots of things up my sleeve which I can't wait to share with all my lovely readers but I must be sensible and put them on hold for a little while.

Lisa Marie

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Birthday Card from Scotland

While on my recent trip up to Scotland, I celebrated my birthday.  The timing of the trip was a coincidence, as it just happened to be when the Cat's parents were visiting from abroad for a conference, but I was all too happy to be up there for the occasion.  Considering the hectic pace of my life recently, it was lovely to have a relaxing birthday up in the Scottish countryside.  And here are some snippets from the day.

We started off at Luss, on the shores of Loch Lomond.

We hopped onboard a boat for a peaceful birthday cruise.

Perfect opportunity to use my recently purchased gloves (as written about in this post).
My dress is Beyond Retro (as is the sneak peek of petticoat), jacket is my old faithful Rokit one,
boots are from Clarks and the pashmina is a birthday gift from the Cat's parents.

Then went for a little stroll, taking in the local churchyard.

We then carried on to Dunstaffnage Castle and its chapel in the woods.

It had been sunny earlier in the day but we had a bit of rain on this stop.  That suited me fine though, because I love the rain, particularly in atmospheric ruins, and it gave me the opportunity for an umbrella shot.

Umbrella purchased through fabulous Brollies Galore website.  It was a replacement for a dear one I
absent-mindedly left at Nottingham station after a rough day of unproductive archival research...

We then had a slight mishap with the car, which entailed waiting for road assistance and then an anxious mission to find a place to stay for the evening, but a lovely lady saved us with some spare rooms at her B&B very late in the day.

We were also lucky to find an Indian restaurant open late.  I'm used to the slightly generic Indian food which is prolific throughout London, but this place served up proper, yummy Indian cuisine.  And our meal was finished with an improvised birthday cake in the form of carrot halwa.  I'd forgotten, but I used to be obsessed with Indian sweets in my late teens/early 20s, so that taste ended up being up wonderfully nostalgic and appropriate for my birthday!

Image source

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Catch Me at the Open House Weekend!

This coming weekend, 17-18 September, is Open House Weekend here in London.  For those two days, lots of buildings of all sorts open up their doors to the public, and all are free to access.  Some of the best buildings require pre-booking (and ALL those were snapped up immediately, I can tell you) but lots of them require you to just show up on the day.  The variety of buildings is fantastic - there's really something for everyone, whether you're into historic buildings or the most modern in design.

I've been volunteering as a guide for the past couple of years, and I'm at it again this time.  I try to do somewhere different each time, and this year I'm going to be taking groups on tours around the Hackney Empire.  

Hackney Empire in its early days (Image source)

And today, following refurbishment (Image source)

The Empire was built in 1901 as a variety theatre by the architect Frank Matcham and was recently refurbished after having served some time as a casino, following the decline in theatre attendance in the second half of the 20th century.  It's described in the programme as "the most perfect example of Edwardian variety theatre remaining in London".  So, if anyone in London fancies checking it out, you should aim to be there on Sunday morning, because that's when I'll be on duty!!

The auditorium (Image source)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Thames Times Fun

Anyone in London this weekend, the 10th and 11th September, should get themselves down to the Thames Festival.  True, some of it will probably leave a lot to be desired but, having a quick squizz at the programme, it looks like there's some good music and dance events lined up - there's a jive dancing area, there's electro swing (which I've found snippets of online and am desperate to get to a live show), and I'm sure there's lots more. And, you know, the parade of boats will probably be quaint and fun, if you can get a good spot!

But, the best thing will surely be if you get yourself a ticket for the SS Atlantica event - a 1930s-themed evening onboard an art deco boat, promising to take you back to the golden age of glamour.  Sounds divine...

I'm sad to be missing it all, but I'm off to Scotland for the next five days, so that should make up for it!  In fact, I ought to be packing right now...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

100 Years of Fashion? Or doom for the East End?

A couple of my friends have shared this video with me:

It is pretty damn clever and fun, and I envy whoever got to do the styling for it.  But I have to say that the fact that it's advertising a shopping mall leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  And I find it entirely depressing that, after all the lovely urban backdrops, the dancers finish up in a shiny, soulless Westfield.  It's less a celebration of style through the ages, more a portent of doom.  Okay, okay, that's a little melodramatic.  But, if you have a look at the shops which are opening up at Westfield Stratford, they're all generic chains that could be anywhere in England.  Imagine the East End turning into a sanitised shopping mall - what an awful thought!

But, you know, still a fun video!  The 1940s is definitely the best bit.  And I think it's sweet and strangely poignant when the boy disappears for a few beats as he goes off to war...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September Personified

It's the first day of September!

I do love autumn, so the arrival of September pleases me somewhat.  And I'm celebrating by sharing this lovely personification of the month with you, my lovely readers.

I picked up a postcard of this image when I was in Dresden last year (a love letter from Germany?).  The artist is Eugene Grasset and it's part of a series called La Belle Jardiniere which follows a garden through all the months of the year.  Grasset was a Swiss graphic designer who lived from 1845 to 1911 and was known for producing posters in Art Noveau style.

His ladies for all months and seasons delighted me when I stumbled upon them.  I do adore seasonal and monthly personifications and symbolism.  You find them in architecture, fine arts and decorative arts right through the ages and it always gives me great pleasure perusing the different interpretations that have been made of nature and human occupations and celebrations through the year.  Similarly, I love it when the same is done with the elements, the Continents and for arts, sciences, etc.  I enjoy trying to identify which is which based on the symbolisms and other visual representations used.

As these things don't stand nearly so well on their own, I'm going to go beyond September and give you Grasset's three ladies for the autumn months.  I considered posting the whole year but decided it would be nicer to split it up into quarters instead so that each season can be appreciated separately.  Hopefully, I will remember to return with the next installments in December, March and June...

But for now, I hope you will delight in comparing the pictures - watching the changes in flora, in the gardeners' duties, in colours, in light, in ambiance and, rather cleverly, the use of the Zodiac symbols in the dress patterns!