Sunday 27 April 2014

time for tea

Hello again!  It's lovely to sit down and have a catch-up with a good brew.  Earl grey tea today I think; trust me, it will go very nicely nicely with the cookies.  I sort of made up the recipe as I went, but they turned out to be quite pleasing! Lemon meringue cookies are just the thing if you have a sweet tooth!

Doesn't time just zoom by!  It's been wonderful to have some free time in the Easter Holiday, but we are now back to school with a vengeance!  We had parents evening this week and students are frantically preparing for their exams, and when they work hard, they produce lots of marking.  So I think over the next few weeks I'm going to be hunkered down with a red pen and piles of papers.  It's worth it though.

Did you get a break over Easter?  I had a wonderful time and I feel like I'm brimming with stories to tell.  I love having the chance to catch up with friends, especially if I can do it over a satisfyingly hefty plate of food.  I had so many lovely lunch and dinner dates across London.  Exploring the city seems to occupy me more the longer I live here; instead of tiring of the metropolis, I seem to be embracing it further!  The boyfriend and I finally managed to see the Book of Mormon, chortling our way through a Wednesday matinee.  We embraced the sunshine, having Pimm's aboard the floating pub boat and we dressed up and laughed and danced at the Secret Cinema.   I've loved spending time with him, laughing and chatting, curling up with a DVD when it rains despite a sunshiney forecast, and just enjoying each other's company.

I also managed to venture out of town a bit and visit my family, stay with some friends, and I caught a train and a boat to visit Dublin!  I loved wandering through a new city, and I managed to squeeze in a trip to the theatre to see War Hose - totally incredible.

In fact, I've realised that my theatre habit is becoming something of an addiction.  It's certainly growing and I fully intend to make the most of it.  I'm really looking forward to nice weather and perhaps going to see some shows outside.  Do you enjoy the theatre?

Can I tempt you with another biscuit?  Nobody's counting, so you may as well!  It will keep your cup of tea company; you can't have a cup of tea without a cookie. It's been nice to do some baking in the quieter moments.  I've been working on a number of crafty projects which I like to pick up and add a stitch to every now and again.  I'm just not feeling the scrapbook at the moment though.  I think I need to clear a good long time to really get my stuff out and get some inspiration as I miss doing it even when I don't feel that inspired.  Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Well, it was lovely to see you.  If you ever do drop into London, let me know as I love showing off my favourite city to people.  London just keeps improving on closer acquaintance :D

Now head over to the lovely Abi's blog, Creating Paper Dreams.  You can drop in and take tea with some lovely bloggers all around the world!

Kisses xxx

P.S. I'm still finding it tricky to find time to scrap.  Just not quite feeling it at the moment.  I've determined though that at least if I get all my London love out on the blog here, then when I'm ready to pick up the paper trimmer again, my photos and stories will be waiting for me!

P.P.S. Went to see a play yesterday as well.  See?  Addiction.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

london love: pub boat

Ever since last summer, the Boyfriend and I have been saying that we'd go for a drink on the Pub Boat.  Moored just down the river Thames from the Houses of Parliament, it provides a lovely spot to soak up the sunshine and the atmosphere.  And the Pimm's.  You can imagine how busy it gets; as soon as the sun peeps out, pasty, Londoners perk up and head for the river. However, the Easter school holiday gave us an opportunity; while most workers were working, we donned sunglasses and beat the evening crowd for an afternoon on deck.  Perfect.

Nipping below deck to get in another round at the bar and exploring boat's interior was delightful.  It's the sort of place where I could happily play musical chairs and take turns sitting in all the different chairs, sofas and benches.  I bet it's actually pretty cosy in winter too.

It did get a little chilly eventually.  But to have the first Pimm's of the year in April isn't bad going and we hopped off the boat to discover a waiting hot chocolate vendor.  Not so chilly any more.

Kisses xxx

P.S. They also had the most fantastic scrapbook worthy business cards. Which reminds me that it's really called Tamesis Dock.  But we just call it Pub Boat; it's more descriptive.

P.P.S. The cardds had boats on! I took two :D

Saturday 19 April 2014

london love: crafty fox market

I visited the Crafty Fox Market in Peckham as I'd been following them on Twitter for a while.  Crafty Fox collect together an assortment of independent crafters and get them all together in one place to sell their wares.  And there were a lot of wares to sell!  I had a lovely time poking around and admiring the handmade goodness, and also did two workshops where I made my own earrings (free!) and screen printed a bag.  More on that in another post.

While my purse didn't stretch to much in the way of spending, I did pick up a lot of business cards from the vendors as most of them sell online, and lots of the things available would make great gifts.  The business cards will help me to remember which things had appeal so I could potentially shop with them in future.  And lots of the cards were very pretty!

The atmosphere was great - lots of people milling around, music playing and a whole assortment of drinks and nibbles available.  I loved the carrot cake and had an iced jasmine tea with ginger syrup, lime and lemonade.  A very refreshing way to do tea and cake on a warm spring day!

Kirsty xxx

P.S. Heading to the Crafty Fox website will give you links to crafters.

Monday 14 April 2014

mapping it all out

Back in January, I hit upon an idea to get hold of a world map and embroidering on it to mark the places that I'd visited.  So far, so unoriginal.  But somehow this idea snowballed to find me carting a canvas that's almost as tall as me through the busy streets of town.  It was a bargain though, and it just fit in my car as long as I wasn't picky about things like being able to see out the rear window.

I also got hold of a large map of the world (on sale) and proceeded to trace the outline of every country onto my canvas in pencil.  This wasn't as easy as it first appeared, because I couldn't see the map through the canvas to trace it.  Taking a step back, I decided to outline all the countries in thick, black pen first, and then voila!  The lines were clear enough to trace onto my canvas.

All I needed for this project - canvas and map aside - was some black embroidery thread and a needle.  And so I am slowly and deliberately embroidering the world onto my canvas.  It's slow going largely because the canvas is enormous and reaching around it for each stitch is something of a workout.  But now that more of it is complete, it's starting to look pretty good.

Each line has to be covered three times - first to prick out where the stitches will go in the canvas, second in running stitch and third in running stitch again but this time filling in the gaps.  It's a work in progress, but a little here and a little there and it's going to come together.

This project has grown from a simple it'll-only-take-me-one-afternoon project, and I have grand plans for it.  Having invested this much time in it, it seems silly to stop here.  Embroidering the countries is just the first step.  But I am enjoying it!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Confession: I had to make the Atlantic Ocean slightly narrower in order to prevent Hawaii and Fiji falling off the edges of the canvas.  But that can be our secret :D

Saturday 12 April 2014

london love: secret cinema

Today I bring you London Love; a series of posts that I intend to run sharing things, events, places and moments that sum up my love for this incredible city.

Secret Cinema is an institution that has sprung up in London over the last few years.  The concept is simple; chose a film, keep it secret and then put on a show so immersive that filmgoers feel like they are living the film.  They experience the location, mingle with actors, absorb the atmosphere...and then watch the film.  Beforehand, no one knows what the film is, and as the date approaches, the audience receives clues: what to wear, what they should bring and a secret location in which to meet.  Their website is pretty and so I recommend having a little poke around and watching their video if you're interested.

So that's the idea.  Actually, the one that the boyfriend took me to was a little different as we knew the film in advance.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is still in cinemas and Secret Cinema were heavily involved in its UK release by running their event.  That did not lessen the experience at all as I knew it was a film I loved.

A week or so beforehand, I knew I needed to dress for the occasion.  So that's 1930s evening dress.  It is a luxury hotel after all.  We were also asked to fill out a hotel guest card, identification papers (necessary for travel on the continent especially with impending war) and we were invited to bring along some flowers.  Pink ones.

Sunday found me dressed somewhat inappropriately for a drizzly grey afternoon, if aptly attired for a 30s evening, and loitering on an underground platform.  I received a text from the boyfriend: "I'm in the front carriage of the next train" and so I scooted down the platform to hop onto the approaching tube.  Once we alighted at the right stop, we saw more and more people dressed as we were and bunches of pink flowers from trailing orchids to huge ostentatious lilies started to seem commonplace.  I clutched my little bunch of sweetheart roses, to which I'd added a bow for good measure, and we joined the queue.

Upon arrival, we were required to surrender our communication devices and cameras (NO!!!!) and escorted in groups to the funicular railway.  Inside the carriage, the concierge welcomed us to the hotel, described a few sights we may be interested in viewing and then the lobby boy lead us from the railway carriage into the hotel lobby.

It was spectacular: draped in swathes of pink and 4 stories high with balconies overlooking the welcome desk.  This was circular and took pride of place in the middle of room and was manned constantly by hotel employees all clad in vibrant purple tailcoats.  All the hotel staff were unfailing polite as we set out to explore.  Maids in purple dresses and crisp, white aprons would bow as we passed and the concierge was "delighted to see us back again; our usual room was ready". 

The different levels of the hotel held different surprises in store. Bedroom doors had peep-holes to look through and admire - or snigger at - the interiors.  It's astonishing what goes on behind closed doors.  Numerous bars served cocktails and champagne and we sampled their delights most willingly.   Scattered about were chaises longues, stuffed animals, pianos and enormous ferns.  The staff were constantly carting about capacious suitcases to comic effect and often engaged guests in conversation. 

We took the elevator just to see where it went and emerged in the spa.  Kicking off our shoes (and hoiking up the bottom of my dress) we waded into the pool filled with blue gel beads.  Cold and squishy and knee deep in the middle, they were impossible to wade through and delightful. We perched on the side as the spa attendant invited us; "Do come in darlings!  It's absolutely invigorating and so good for the skin and the circulation".  We eventually clamered out, dried off and reassumed our shoes before heading back to the elevator.

One of my favourite things was standing on the balcony watching the hive of activity in the lobby.  Guests arriving and signing the guest book (you never know if they're real guests or actors), the repositioning of a fearsome stuffed bear and a slightly less-fearsome badger.  One of the guests collapsed near the welcome desk and was immediately surrounded by puple-festooned employees calling for oxygen and a doctor.  The lobby boys promptly retrieved all the plants and placed them around her as she feebly fanned herself, a waiter sprinkled water over her and the maids flapped their aprons to create a draft.  She was eventually carried to a chaise longue. 

A waltz lesson was announced and we hurried down into the lobby.  Lead by a very grand looking guest indeed, hundreds of us took up positions in the lobby, waving our arms to the live music played by the ensemble gathered on a first-floor platform.  We whirled about, completely caught up in the music while the leader, now standing on the welcome desk called for us to skip around the lobby and waltz by ourselves before finally grabbing a partner and waltzing faster and faster around the lobby, spinning around and around the welcome desk. As the music rose to a pitch, snow fell and I couldn't breathe for laughing and dancing.

I've never seen anything like it.  Talk about immersive theatre.  I think I need to move to a luxury hotel in the 30s and dance every night.  It was almost a relief to then be guided to the film.  We stopped for a hot chocolate with Bailey's before entering the ballroom and being shown to our seats for the screening. The film was as excellent as I remembered and it was entertaining to be reminded of details that secret cinema had borrowed for the experience.

After the film, we had a final cocktail before heading off into the night.

It's worth noting that prices have risen somewhat as Secret Cinema gains in popularity and new screenings tend to sell out fairly quickly.  But the experience was unique; I was entranced for the whole night and loved every single surreal moment.

Kisses xxx

P.S. When can I go again?

Wednesday 9 April 2014

one photo and twenty words

We taught the Guides to knit.  But I gave them a little help getting started and cast on 42 times.


One Photo and Twenty Words is hosted by Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams. Pay her a visit (she's lovely!) and see others' pictures.

Kisses xxx

Sunday 6 April 2014

dressing for the 30s

For my birthday, my lovely man got us tickets to the Secret Cinema to see the Grand Budapest Hotel.  We've seen the film and LOVED it and to get Secret Cinema tickets was a great surprise as I've wanted to go for ages.  Guests are required to dress for the occasion - 1930s formal evening wear, naturally - and we will step into the film!  A secret location has been transformed into the resplendent luxury hotel of the film's title and we will sip cocktails, dance and enjoy entertainment as actors create the feel of the era around us.  And we'll watch a screening of the film too.

All the details are kept secret and no cameras allowed, so I've snapped a few photos while working out a hair-do a couple of days ago.

I have my ID papers (all guests are required to fill them in) and my evening gloves and it's off to the 30s tonight!

Kisses xxx

P.S. This also will accomplish another goal from the list! #36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening.

Saturday 5 April 2014

learning to knit from a chart

I'll admit, another month or so has passed and poor little blog has got lonely. I tend to blog less when I scrapbook less.  Which tends to happen when I take fewer photos.  Which happens in winter because the light is terrible.

Incidentally, the government have not responded to any of my increasingly less politely worded letters about providing better photographic-quality light for its citizens during the greyer months.  A shocking oversight.

All this, being said, I do have a bit of knitting to share.  Winter is a great time to knit as it feels warm and cosy and when you've finished knitting, you can be even warmer and cosier in your new knitwear.  I go through phases with knitting (it's no scrapbooking after all), but recently I've been enjoying having a project or two on the go.

In my list of things to accomplish (blogged here), I professed a desire to learn to knit from a chart.  So I made this cowl and discovered two things.  First that knitting from a chart is actually very easy: straightforward and logical.  The second thing I learned is that I prefer not to knit from charts as I found it harder to memorise and to remember where abouts in the chart I'm supposed to be.

Still, project complete, new skill learned (and promptly abandoned) and warm cowl all ready for summer. #62 Learn to knit from a chart: all done.

That's a win on all fronts, I feel.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I'm going to make a concerted effort to post - hurrah! - now that it's the Easter holiday and the light has improved.  

before I'm 30 I will...

Here is my current list of goals.  Each time one is complete, I will highlight it and link to a blog post where relevant.  Every time I think of something new I'd like to do, I will add it to the list.  This effectively means that the list will get longer more quickly than I cross things off it.  Net success by the time I'm 30 will probably be negative.  But I choose to see this as positive: being continually inspired to try new things and perpetually excited to get up and make the most of life can never be a bad thing really :D

#1 Make cake pops
#2 Make a multicoloured layer cake
#3 Go on a canal boat
#4 Play Dungeons and Dragons
#5 Play hooky for a day
#6 Get a film projector and screen films in my own little cinema
#7 Go on a sleeper train
#8 Have tea at the Ritz
#9 And Claridges
#10 See 2 West End shows in a day
#11 Make a photo wall display
#12 Build a den.  A really cool one.
#13 Road trip in the USA
#14 New York, New York
#15 Go glamping in a fancy tent with fairy lights
#16 Buy an expensive set of lingerie
#17 Sew something to wear
#18 Get married
#19 Make a set of jam-jar cocktail glasses
#20 Make blueberry gin
#21 Play ultimate sandwich
#22 Learn how design this blog the way I wish it looked
#23 Make a scrapbooking video for the blog
#24 Learn to roller skate
#25 Learn to make pasta
#26 Get up early to photograph the sunrise 
#27 Swim in the Hampstead ponds
#28 Stay out all night
#29 Do the monopoly pub crawl
#30 Play the tube game
#31 Have dinner at Dans le Noir
#32 Re-vamp some second hand furniture
#33 Go to a cult Rocky Horror screening
#34 Go to a burlesque show
#35 Go ape
#36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening
#37 See a play at Cornwall's Minack Theatre
#38 Go on a helicopter
#39 Make my own ice cream (malteaser, peanut butter and caramel flavour?)
#40 Have dinner at Dishoom
#41 Take part in a Murder Mystery Treasure Hunt
#42 Buy a bikini
#43 Go to an auction
#44 Get my eyebrows shaped
#45 Inhale helium
#46 See the Northern Lights
#47 Go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
#48 See New Zealand
#49 Stay in a tree house
#50 Have a bash at karaoke
#51 Go to a roller derby
#52 Travel to South America
#53 Ride a motorbike
#54 See a film at a drive-in cinema
#55 Go to a sh*t-faced Shakespeare production
#56 Make a new giant floor cushion
#57 Have an indoor pool party
#58 Make spun sugar
#59 Have a go at spinning
#60 Go for Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea
#61 Go to the circus
#62 Learn to knit from a chart
#63 Knit a lace pattern
#64 Start a teacup collection
#65 Go on a Segway
#67 See a midnight matinee at the Globe
#68 Play hide and seek in Ikea
#69 Visit the Cutty Sark
#70 Go to a Casino
#71 Go stargazing
#72 Eat a deep-fried Mars bar
#73 Have dinner at Veeraswamy
#74 Have a day at Thorpe Park
#75 Ride a camel
#76 Have cocktails on Madison Terrace
#77 Play Dinosaur Safari Adventure Golf
#78 See a baseball match
#79 Go to Bounce Below
#80 Visit the Rough Trade Photobooth
#81 Swim in an infinity pool
#82 Ride a tandem
#83 Go on a pedibus
#84 Make something out of leather