Esmeralda visits, Playing groupie in Brick Lane, the impressive St Pancras Grand, and a short visit to Broadway Market

Sunday, 25 February, 2018

Just about able to see Esmeralda, who was visiting from Bologna for the first time since 2004 or maybe 2003. I was just recovering from having  a virus but now Krish was sick and it was tough to tell if I could leave him alone or not. The day before I’d been to my mentor assessment day and then come home to find Krish in bed barely able to lift his head.

Thank God for the NHS. They advised me over the phone to get hold of the doctor, who then called me back to talk about his diagnosis and off I rushed to the drugstore before it closed. After just one double dose of antibiotics, Krish could get out of bed and inhale some steam. Relief! And some hope for the next day.

Esmeralda arrived in Dalston some time around noon and we set off pretty quickly to do some exploring.

Quick visit to the Eastern Curve Garden - Esmeralda was impressed
Quick visit to the Eastern Curve Garden – Esmeralda was impressed

No surprise that I followed my usual route. We made a quick stop at Shoreditch Church, then a peek into Leila’s, Arnold Circus and the glorious buildings on Boundary Estate.

Hard at work inside Leilla's
Hard at work inside Leilla’s
Lovely piece from Shok-1 near Redchurch Street
Lovely piece from Shok-1 near Redchurch Street

Not many photos of that area today – I was feeling better but tiring quickly. Redchurch Street looked good, Boxpark was doing its retail thing, and on down to Brick Lane, watch some salt beef beigel action and a beeline to Meraz.

I ordered what I always do – no objections from Esmeralda. What is it? The tarka dhal (I really like their version), the sag aloo (not too spicy today), tandoori lamb chops sizzling wonderfully, and Es was brave enough to ask if they’d make a small portion of chicken korma – Of course! So delicious after a week or two of rather bland food. Esmeralda was pretty happy. What was really cool was the owner, Sami, arriving and coming over to shake my hand and say he hadn’t seen me for a long time. Oh, the groupie in me!

'The usual' at Meraz
‘The usual’ at Meraz
A piece by Fanakapan on Hanbury Street
A piece by Fanakapan on Hanbury Street

Embarrassing how I love this sort of encounter and I had one more to come.

I’m a huge fan of graffiti artist, Fanakapan. His art is so well executed – the 3D images he produces are spectacular. The first one I ever saw, in Star Yard, I honestly thought was a metallic helium balloon stuck on the wall! It was totally 2D but you’d never have guessed it. When we got into Star Yard, the first thing I saw was a hideous metal shed now built into one corner! The yard will never be the same! What’s it there for? There was an artist up a ladder working on the large wall at the entry. It was difficult to make out what he was doing but then a graffiti tour guide wandered by and mentioned the word Fanakapan. When he left, I asked the man on the ladder ‘Are you Fanakapan?’ He said he was and I managed to say that I was a huge fan of his work and delighted to meet him. He came down the ladder, asking my name and shook my hand. I had seen him before but never this close up. The piece he was working on wasn’t obviously his work and wasn’t finished. We moved on.

Fanakapan working on his newest - anamorphic - piece
Fanakapan working on his newest – anamorphic – piece

Later that night, I saw a photo of the finished work. It had only appeared to be far from finished. It was in fact an amazing piece of anamorphic art – you can see it at I must go back and see if I can take it from the right angle. He let me know on Instagram what to do:

Instagram from Fanakapan
Instagram message from Fanakapan

So now you know too!

Princelet Street beauty shot
Princelet Street beauty shot

We took a quick look at Christchurch, Spitalfields Market, and Artillery Lane, then on to Liverpool Street Station to put Esmeralda on the train to Borehamwood, her next stop. Continue reading “Esmeralda visits, Playing groupie in Brick Lane, the impressive St Pancras Grand, and a short visit to Broadway Market”

Housebound and Votes for Women

Sunday, 25 February, 2018

Its been a mad few weeks. I was housebound with either a  mild flu or a nasty chest virus. After a week, I went out to an event at the Hackney Museum — Making Her Mark: 100 years of women’s activism.  Not feeling as well as I’d hoped, I didn’t take a lot of time in the exhibition and managed to sit through a presentation called Radical Portraiture, which examined various portraits of women involved in the early days of feminism – a movement which has strong roots in Hackney. All of this led to women finally getting the vote. Apparently, there were many years before that where a large percentage of men couldn’t vote either – it was considered a privilege only for the upper classes of Britain. I plan to go back and look more closely at the exhibit and visit some of the other events during Women’s History Month (March 2018) – it’s the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave the vote to some women for the very first time.

Some of the exhibit at Hackney Museum
Some of the exhibit at Hackney Museum

I had booked a table at the new Brook vegan restaurant for Lisa and me. We ordered four dishes, two of which I quite liked. I’m not a keen fan of veganism – in this case there was a little bit too much deep frying. I think the brunch menu might be better, with some fresher, more salady options!

Our ‘tapas’ meal at Brook – my favourite was the squash crostini

I really wasn’t well enough to be out yet but it was a welcome change from my housebound existence since this started. I no sooner began to feel more myself than Krish got sick too. What a crazy month for the two of us!

Being sick did mean I was home a lot and I made a new doll and a Valentine’s heart for Krish.

Two sides of a Valentine's heart
Two sides of a Valentine’s heart
My newest doll is a study in orange and purple - love that combination
My newest doll is a study in orange and purple – love that combination

I had two events this month that I wanted to be well enough to attend. The first was an assessment day for a new volunteer position with Bump Buddies I’m considering becoming a mentor and, when trained, Ill be paired with a mother-to-be, who is in need of extra support. I’m not sure how I will feel during the training. My knowledge is pretty strong but needs a bit of brushing up. Also I have zero clue about the experience of pregnancy or childbirth in the UK. Localising what I already know will be my biggest challenge, and that includes finding some humility, as well as learning to listen and adapt what I know to this new environment.

The assessment day went pretty well and I’ll be going every Wednesday and Thursday until 15 March for a four to five hour session each day. A bit daunting. I was probably thirty years older than the oldest person in the new mentor group so fitting in will be the other challenge.

My other event was Esmeralda finally making it back to the UK after being away for fourteen years. We spent part of Thursday and part of Saturday together, exploring a little. I’ll save that for the next blog post.


Food and Dolls

I love going to La Chapelle. It’s a restaurant that is housed in what was the assembly hall of my mother’s old school, Central Foundation School for Girls. When I first came to London, they were in the middle of demolition and I was sad that it was disappearing. So I was pleased that a piece of the school was still standing. It was slowly transformed into a fantastic restaurant space, La Chapelle, by Galvin.

I’ve had almost perfect meals here, with a few exceptions. I always go for the discounted meals, a few pounds off or a free cocktail thrown in.  It’s not the cheapest place to eat but it’s far from the most expensive.

My friend, Caroline, and I went to La Chapelle at the end of January. I chose the roast beef and she chose pheasant. In a way I felt I copped out but I knew they do a great job on a roast and I don’t make it at home.

La Chapelle Roast
La Chapelle Roast

A delicious meal and for once I couldn’t finish the whole three courses and had to go without my usual coffee, which is served with a beautifully presented bowl of treats – truffles and macarons. Another time!

My soup and dessert
My soup and dessert -couldn’t finish!
Inside La Chapelle
Inside La Chapelle
La Chapelle - a view from outside
La Chapelle – a view from outside

Anyway, look out for those deals and let me know how you like La Chapelle! Continue reading “Food and Dolls”

On the first, a visit to Sir John Soane’s Museum and then a walk

Thursday, 1st February, 2018

Once before I went to Sir John Soane’s museum when it was supposed to be a late closing but I got the date wrong that time. This time I double checked my facts and got the bus to Holborn Station to make my way to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I was a bit puzzled on why the areas devoted mainly to the legal professions were called Inn (Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn being the ones I know). It turns out that this refers to the ‘Inns of court.’ These are associations that lawyers must belong to and in these fields there are facilities and offices they can use. That’s sort of how it is. We don’t know which is the oldest since apparently there’s a tradition to not tell. However, it seems to date back to the 1300 or 1400s with the squares and buildings themselves in the 1500s. Someone is going to correct me!

I knew nothing about Sir John Soane or his house/museum before visiting but I had heard it was worth a visit and I had a free day.

Lincoln’s Inn Fields itself covers 11 acres within a lovely large square set off by itself not far from the Royal Courts of Justice. The green space is very large and all around the perimeter sit beautiful houses. It’s far more grand than Gray’s Inn Fields.

Today I was sloppy with photos since I wasn’t alone. I shot wildly and quickly.

Sir John Soane's Museum
Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s museum is built inside the walls of his home. Sir John was a famous architect – he designed the original Bank of England, and Dulwich Picture Gallery. He bought three houses in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, demolished and rebuilt them almost two hundred years ago. He requested the houses be left as they were and become a museum.

Sadly, no cameras or phones are allowed. At the door they ask you to turn off your phone and then present you with a large clear plastic bag to put your bag into. A bit annoying to have to carry this around in your hand (I carry my bag on my shoulder so I can avoid that) but them’s the rules.

And it is quite a museum, being absolutely crammed with artifacts since SJS was a great collector – statues, curios, and even a tomb – that of Pharoah Seti II. Oh and small galleries with paintings by such as Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto. In various small ante rooms and courtyards and libraries, all of these things sit from floor to ceiling. It’s overwhelming, slightly oppressive, and very fascinating.

In one room they had an exhibition of Egyptology – items collected by Soanes and a character called Bolzoni. A video showed how they had created a digital image of the Seti sarcophagus and that the replica they would make from this would go back to where it came from. I was sad to hear the original place would get the replica and not the real sarcophagus. Plunder…

They do candlelight tours on some evenings. It would be a creepy tour to take but there it is. Besides the rooms of collections, there are the regular rooms that they lived in. These too seemed dark and heavy to me. Not a single spot to relax in. I wonder how his family life was.

I can’t share photos but this is a crazily dizzying look at the museum, if you want a taste of it.  Continue reading “On the first, a visit to Sir John Soane’s Museum and then a walk”