The Real Truth About Life In Your 20s

A perspective on life in yours 20s by yours truly (Olivia Dueser 💁🏼) - a single, white, unemployed female just trying to be distinctly average. 

This story is not a ‘woe is me moment’, nor a bleak rhapsody of pessimistic words. I just want to share what to expect when the unexpected happens – it’s ok to be in your 20s, unemployed and feeling unloved and average. Trust me when I say you are neither the first, nor the last to feel like this #staypositive.Society's expectations, Disney films and childhood literature do not prepare most of us for the harsh realities of life in your 20s. Nobody warns us that no matter how many frogs you kiss, Prince Charming is as likely to exist as you being killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million). And ‘dream jobs’ are as likely to happen as you finding Prince Charming…Where is the Disney film where the girl doesn’t get her happily ever after? Where is the ‘Little Miss Unemployed' book? I am 26, single, unemployed, confused and going through my ‘quarter-life crisis’. I feel more lost and hopeless than ever. As I write this article late at night in my sexy silk pyjamas (scruffy may be more fitting), eating ‘Carte D’or Caramel’ ice cream from the tub and puffing away on my e-cig – and yes this is actually happening - I ask myself, ‘How on earth did I get here?’…Damian Barr, author of the book ‘Get it Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarter Life Crisis’ aptly describes your 20s as, “You’re expected to be having the time of your life but all is your do is stress about career prospects, scary debts and a rocky relationships.” Now just substitute “scary debts” for “spending money not saving ” and “a rocky relationship” for “perpetually single” and hey presto, you have the story of my life. Today I share with you two pivotal phases of my current existence: My Career (lack of) and love life (currently platonic loves rule my astrosphere).

Part 1

Unemployment is a Dangerous Occupation

From the company ‘going under’ to being ‘let go’; to quitting in a blaze of glory, to forever being an intern, or simply getting ‘fired’ – I have been there, done that, got the bloomin’ t-shirt. Unemployment is a convoluted state of reality…We have been brought up to pursue our passions, become the next thought-provoking leaders of the world, to fight for what we believe in and the world is our oyster. What they forget to tell you is that, that oyster is dodgy and not as open as it should be… It’s like we are doomed to fail from the start, because, what they do not prepare you at school for is failure. They do not tell you that it lurks at every corner or explain how you should cope when it attacks. To fail even once, does damage to ones psyche – years of therapy needed and perhaps could have been avoided, if maybe my school had spent less time on teaching me how to cook the ultimate roast or encouraging me to partake in important competitions such as inter-house ‘Harry Potter Quiz’ and more time on what to do when life isn’t going your way.Imagine day after day, week after week, month after month of one rejection after another – an ever reminder that you’re not useful, have no skills and can contribute nothing to society. Recently I have experienced a new rejection, one so dark that even the Dark Lord himself would be sent into a state of despair…ladies and gentlemen I present to you “not the right fit” for no reason rejection. They tell you that it isn’t because you’re not clever enough or sporty enough or young enough, no – somehow, even with a good degree from a good university, a financial qualification, fluent in two languages, sporty, creative, artistic, willing to work for free (no I am not bragging, merely highlighting my positive attributes in case any potential employers read this) you still “aren’t the right fit”…I feel like I’m Lindsay Lohan in ‘Mean Girls’ being told “you can’t sit with us” just for being yourself… #BeingYourselfIsntEnoughUnemployment also affects your relationships in ways you did not think possible. You are lead to a double-edged sword when interacting with your friends and family: if they don’t ask about how your job hunt is going, you think they don’t care and this makes you angry and anxious. On the other hand, if they do, that can lead to awkward conversations of why, how and that you might need to think of alternative paths – again you are angry and anxious – they cannot win, neither can you. You become massively oversensitive (not great for those, like me, who are already sensitive, dramatic hypochondriacs) and snap a lot more at your friends and family for no reason. You over think every little detail and situation in your life – situations which were not situations until you made it into a situation – even just writing that out makes me feel drained…you unintentionally make your life harder #Drama.Quick word of advice for the unemployed – try not to snap at your friends and family – this is when you need them more than ever and they are your lifeboat through this thorny journey…For all the cynicism I have been spouting in this article, I do have positive vibes and hopes for the future…Unemployment has inspired a period of self-reflection in me and I am learning a lot about who I am and that I’m capable of more than I think. And most of all it has taught me to use what makes you happiest as a starting point for your career search.

Olivia xoxo

To be continued..

Next week at the same time Olivia delves deeper into the dubiety of dating in your 20s.

 

Strangers on a Train

Emily 🙋🏽

On Sunday, a group of us were getting the 12:15 train from Gleneagles to London. We had spent the most spectacular weekend in Scotland and a little worse for wear, were looking forward to a painless journey.The train was a bit delayed, but nothing too sinister and it meant we got a bit more time in Scotland which was great news. When it finally arrived, we bundled on and settled down for a relaxing six hour journey. Having all booked separately, we were peppered throughout the train.Everything was going exceptionally smoothly, I had a window seat and a table, a cold coke to drink and found 'Summer Heights High' on BBC iPlayer. However, just outside of York things took a turn for the worse. We just stopped dead...There was some incessant apologising and muttering from the guard about wires above the track but he assured us that we would be shortly on the move...Now this post isn't to bitch about or berate Virgin Trains (rest assured this has already been done - and a full refund supplied); But rather to recount something miraculous that happened. About 2 hours into the stationary state, I got up to go and treat myself to a free bottle of water that was being offered (on account of the delay) and the nice man sitting next to me offered to go and get them for our whole table. I was genuinely shocked. It is a truth universally acknowledged that British people never EVER speak to randoms. I myself hate talking to strangers and will often freak out when shop assistants ask if I need help. However, bravely, I took up his offer and also requested a tea and any free snacks that might be on offer.He returned about ten minutes later bearing tea, fizzy water and crisps that he had blagged from the cafe. I don't think I have ever encountered such thoughtfulness from a total stranger. With our complimentary treats, something even more surprising then happened - we began to chat. Imagine that?! Four British strangers voluntarily speaking to one another.It turned out that he was a barrister who had been to a family wedding, and the couple sitting opposite had been on holiday to Skye. We sat and chatted about who we were and where we were from. They all seemed really very nice, and I think in another life we might have been friends. The chatting continued for about forty five minutes as we discussed important topics, such as, what we would eat if we ever got back to London (McDonald's for me; a gourmet three-course meal for the barrister - to be cooked by his boyfriend and an as yet, undecided take away for the couple). We laughed, joked and kept each other positive as rumours of broken loos on the train began to circulate.After nearly 3 stationary hours the train began to move and we settled back into our solitary activities.When we finally got to London - at 9pm (thanks Virgin) we all said our goodbyes, and pottered off going our separate ways. I'm pretty sure one of them even said 'have a nice life' - and I really hope they do.It was a weird, transient moment where total strangers are actually nice to each other - and made me feel uncharacteristically positive about the great British public!But please don't ask me if I need help in a shop, I really am just browsing - if I wanted something specific I would have bought it on Amazon.Emily xxYou can read all about Emily and Olivia’s blog take over here.

Retirement

So this happened over the weekend:Friendly young man, 'What are you up to at the moment?'Me,  'I'm actually unemployed.'Not as kind as I thought, young man, 'So is this it, have you retired?'So I would like to make it very clear I HAVE NOT RETIRED - if that is even possible at my age, I'm sure the definition of retirement must include having worked in an actual job for a good many years.I am looking for a full time job. And the thing is, although I am not employed full time, I have been temping for people, so I think I need to change my story.  I looked up 'unemployed' and it's pretty clear:'unemployed(Of a person) without a paid job but available to work:I was unemployed for three monthsSo perhaps I'm only partially unemployed - but maybe the glass should be half full 🍷, and I am 'partially employed'.And I certainly haven't retired although I do appreciate my week day trips to the V & A 🎨 along with the lengthy lunches 🍝 might make me seem like a lady of leisure.I just happen to have been using my time to temp for different interesting companies 💻 and to visit exhibitions 🎨and events I might not normally get the chance to do, and of course write my blog ✏️- which I am very much enjoying.  I even wrote an exhibition review for the Erotic Review Magazine - not my normal reading material (although it is very high-brow 😉), and it was fun visiting the Maitresse exhibition at the Michael Werner Gallery.  Probably the most amusing part of this whole process was the fact that neither my computer at work, nor my phone would allow me to view the article I had written, once published as the security settings thought the website too dodgy 🙊.So I have had lots of time to do all sorts of things, and I haven't once watched Jeremy Kyle (partly because we don't have a TV license) although I did spend a portion of one afternoon eating rather a lot of ice cream 🍧straight from the tub..And in-between all these exciting things, I have applied for some jobs I very much like the look of.The thought of potential full-time employment has made me suddenly panic and start sorting out all those things you are supposed to do when you have time off like go to the dentist, and get your eyes tested, and take things to the dry cleaners.So tomorrow, I am going to do something I have been meaning to do for a while, which is going to cause me a slight amount of distress and put some of my clothes on ebay 😢. And I may take the rabbit for a walk, he's got a bit fat and needs some exercise.... I've been getting some tips from wikipedia: How to walk a Rabbit 🐰😉I thought I'd give you a weekend update in photos ☺️Alice xxxIMG_3840IMG_3843IMG_3803IMG_3870IMG_3808IMG_3810IMG_3813IMG_3816IMG_3831IMG_3834IMG_3871IMG_3852IMG_3860IMG_3863

February Flowers - The Plant Lesson

It was rather grey and cold  ❄️❄️☔️ today (I still am not enjoying the cold weather) but Pip 🐶 and I decided to venture out.February is a good time of year as, although it feels like the cold may never go away and it is dark and dreary and freezing, the flowers are beginning to appear 🌱🌸🌺🌼.I find it very reassuring that every year, despite the cold❄️, the trees 🌳 and plants 🌱 begin to flower 🌼, it is definitely the best sign that spring is on it's way - a dash of bright colour 🌻 amongst all the dark greens and browns.So Pip 🐶 and I went to investigate, and found much to look at.Daffodils 🌼are out in force, despite the cold, and we found some lovely little Narcissus cyclamineus with their heads bowed down.  I always think these little daffodils look a bit like tiny horses 🐎 with their ears back, suspiciously investigating something on the ground - they are rather sweet!  The narcissus bulbocodium are also dotted about, their little trumpet-like 📣 petals are always so delightful - they are definitely more bossy than the cyclamineus.There are crocuses (or croci) 🌷 just starting to open their petals - I love the lilac and orange combination, they are very non-fussed flowers, they just flower where and when they feel like it, without too much worry of what anyone might think - Pip and I came across a solo crocus growing in the middle of the path..The magnolias 💐 are still tentative, they haven't opened their furry buds up to the cold yet, I always think the many huge buds make them look like some prehistoric creature lying in wait 🐉.The faithful snowdrops 🌾are sprouting up everywhere, I love their plant name 'galanthus' from the Greek gála 'milk' 🍶 and ánthos 'flower' 🌼, it sounds rather like a character from Game of Thrones 🐲.We found a very brave cherry 🍒 , Prunus okame, which is a really warm pink against the cold greens.  I love 💕💞💘 cherry 🍒blossom 🌸 a very large amount.AND most excitingly, the Camellias 🌺 are emerging, and we came across many bright pinks 🌺 and pale pinks 🌸.I really like Camellias 🌺, they are one of my favourite flowers, I prefer the ones without the bright yellow stamens.  We came across a lovely Camellia japonica 'Australis' - a very good pink indeed, magenta, with beautifully arranged petals, I also love how the just emerging buds 🌷 look, so fairy tale esque.Camellias 🌺are part of the Theaceae family and they originate from the Eastern Himalayas, Japan and Malaysia - they are happiest growing by streams 🌊 or on rocky hillsides 🗻.  They have been cultivated in China and Japan for over 1000 years (a very long time) and were first cultivated for the oil 🏮 from their seeds, then for tea ☕️ (you can actually buy tea made from English Camellias at Tregothnan- made from Camellia sinensis - they sell it is Fortnums too, if your after some in a hurry) And then just because they are pretty to look at. There are around 200 species of them and they were named after the Jesuit ⛪️ botanist 🌿 Georg Joseph Kamel.  The petals 🌺 of the flowers are exquisitely arranged and the trees 🌿have wonderful dark green leathery leaves.  They are really very splendid.We had a quick plant lesson ✏️📚 over supper, so now everything is a little clearer...Alice xxAlso I'm now on Blog Lovin' 😊 - you can follow me here  👍IMG_2745IMG_2698IMG_2705IMG_2711IMG_2743IMG_2763IMG_2718IMG_2728IMG_2734IMG_2742IMG_2802IMG_2801

VOGUE

On Friday evening I went to see the Vogue 100 exhibition 📷 at the National Portrait Gallery 🎨 which is hugely worth it.  I reckon it will appeal to any avid fashion lover (Editor of Vogue wannabe ✏️👗) - there was just so much joy - fashion photography 📷👗 blown up to huge proportions, by everyone 📷 and of everyone 💃, and covers and copies of Vogue galore  📚📚.Going in the evening was a very good choice, we had a couple of hours ⏰ to look at everything 👌.The exhibition is ordered backwards - they start you off in the 2000s with nice images of everyone from Keira Knightly to Prince Charles at High Grove 🐥, both by Mario Testino and a superb image of Helena Bonham Carter in Charlie's Glass Elevator 🍸by Tim Walker.  There are some wonderful glitzy images in bizarre settings by Javier Valhonrat - Private Dancer 💃, and strangely normal images by Alastair Mcllellan - I liked Lara Stone in 'Brighton Rock' 🍭.And then they take you back, era by era so in the 90s you pass Kate Moss by Corrine Day  🚬(when they first extracted her from Croydon), a candid photo of Beckhams ⚽️🎤 lying on the floor of a hotel corridor with their matching pixie hair dos, a lovely pic of Winona Ryder in a tutu 👯 by Herb Ritts from when she was living with Johnny Depp, and giant blow up of image called 'Rebekka' of a grey Mikimoto pearl between someones pearly white teeth 👄.The 80s is all about Lacroix (darling) 👠 and Margaret Thatcher 📺 turns up; and the 70s is very nice - we liked Norman Parkinson's 'Space between the Sea and the Sun'  👒🚬 and Helmut Newton somehow gets Grace Coddington into a swimming pool 🏊.60s is Jean Shrimpton 👩 and don't miss the blow up of Cecil Beaton's image of Daivd Hockney painting with Maudie James in a Leslie Poole dress 👫🎨👗.After that Cecil Beaton takes over, there are some surreal images including women in beautiful gowns standing among the ruins of a post second world war London 💣👗.  And there is some wonderful Vogue history - for instance Lee Miller, one of the first Vogue models 💃went on to become a war correspondent during the First World War ✏️🎥📻.There are so many super images 🎠, so definitely give yourself much time ⌚️.  And don't miss the 'Planning Room' which is a nice big powerpoint 🎥 showing you how many of Vogue's final edits came into being.  All the photos 📷taken on a shoot are displayed one after another, until they show you the final edit, the images actually chosen for the magazine, in situ - the girl in the original shots of the Vogue cover by Claude Virgin looks distinctly hungover 🍷😳...The last room is the very best, on display is a copy of Vogue from every year since the beginning 📚.  And there was so much fantastic advice for ladies of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s - we particularly enjoyed the 'Primer of Art' 🎨 from 1938 -'..A lady of quality should be able to walk into any drawing room, to look at the picture over the mantlepiece and to exclaim 'oh what a charming Picasso of the early blue period'.  If she guesses right, she is a gentleman and a scholar.  If she is wrong her cultural standing is usually sadly impaired..'(why I studied Art History obviously 😉😇)Some fun advice on how to recognise Dali 'when in a cheerful mood..he might decorate a tumour with roses' 🌹And articles on what to wear to costume parties were superb -Chelsea Arts Ball in 1936 'she was wearing a Fascist black shirt and nothing but a pair of tights' 🙊And in 1927 'go in pyjamas as a suburban parsons dashing daughter'  - ⛪️💃It was SO fun.  Oh and in 1944 they suggested some excellent skirts to wear whilst riding your bicycle 👗🚴... a far far better suggestion than all this terrible lycra.  They just did it so much better in the 1940s, I mean Dior's first collection in 1947 did 'retrieve the general situation' - so there we go.It rarely says who wrote the article, only who the photographer is, which is rather a shame.  Sadly NO 📷❌ photos (they are watching very closely) and the copies of Vogue are all shut away in glass cases, so no leisurely flicking rather understandably.  I do wonder how you get access to the Vogue archives..There is lots to see, the thing about Vogue is, they just do and always have done, exactly what they want.  So everyone is there - Hugh Grant, Jerry Hall, Boris Johnson (actually) and all the obvious beautiful lithe human beings that have ever been in existence, wearing incredible concoctions in superbly fantastical settings - I slightly wish I lived inside Vogue 👸🐩🏰.The entrance is really fun too, with Vogue covers organised by colour 🍎🍓❤️ - I am a big fan or colour co-ordination.  And they have been clever in the gift shop - collaborating with everyone from Charlottle Tilbury makeup 💄 to Lulu Guiness clutches 👛to Charbonnel & Walker chocolates 🍫, oh and someone has made Vogue biscuits 🍪 too.  I think my favourite though are Roos Productions 'make-your-own' barbie outfit....You can make her a nice Yves Saint Laurent dress, or a Burberry outfit.. there are many choices ..... 🙋💁👰So after SO MUCH FASHION FUN we had some burgers 🍔🍔 in Meat Market in Covent Garden which we thoroughly enjoyed.I disappeared to the countryside 🌳🌿 for the rest of the weekend, took some lovely photos of camellias 🌺, ate many yummy things and drank some cider 🍺 made in Sussex (everyone is at it at the moment - vines 🌿growing all over Sussex and Kent).  This cider is from Kingscote and comes in a sophisticated bottle 🍶 - it's good, nice with Sunday lunch 😊🍺.Today I am 100% not appreciating the cold ❄️❄️❄️and am contemplating emigrating, like seriously, it is so unnecessarily cold everywhere 😨❄️.Alice xxxIMG_2543IMG_2550IMG_2545IMG_2549IMG_2555IMG_2561 IMG_2582IMG_2600IMG_2612IMG_2628 

Another Wednesday

Yesterday I took a trip to the Saatchi Gallery 🎨, and had lunch in Le Pain Quotidien 🍞 with Rosanna and we spoke all about the wonderful lamps 💡 she makes.  I am going to tell you more about this in a separate post - but for a quick sneak preview check out her instagram @rosanna_lonsdale 💡, I just love the hummingbird 🐦 one!The Saatchi Gallery 🎨 was weird and wonderful (isn't it always), and I had a quick roam about.  It's all about women 👩👧👵 at the moment, and I liked Sandra Chevrier's painting 'La Cage se Laissant Absorber par une Nuit Réconfortante' - part of the XX: A Moment in Time exhibition of works by female graffiti 💹 and street artists 💟, from around the world 🌎.  The main exhibition Champagne Life was not terribly awe-inspiring, although I enjoyed Sigrid Holmwood's paintings, which have a hint of Matisse about them, with some impressionism thrown in - in bright bright florescent 💛💚colours.  I do love a good fluoro.  And I took a selfie with a large parakeet... 🐔However, really the best thing about the Saatchi is the gift shop 🍭✏️💝- they have many great things - but not TOO many, this key to a satisfactory gift shop experience.  I also highly recommend their card 💌 selection, they hit a very good note - not too crude 💩, not too many fluffy animals 🐶🐼 - just suitable messages and fun designs.I finished the day in Humble Grape 🍇which has lots of wines 🍷🍷that I wasn't drinking, but Alex who I was with knows a great many things about wine 🍷and had a lovely Rosso di Montalcino which she tells me is excellent 😊.  Humble Grape 🍇 is a really super little wine bar, with many wines and you can order things like biltong 🐗 and baked camembert 🍮 to eat.  James who was running late, rang ahead and asked us to order him a burger 🍔❌ and a glass of malbec 🍷❌ (neither on the menu, the malbec only comes by the bottle, not the glass) but if you are wanting an evening of good wine and substantial comforting eats this is the place 😊.Alice xxxIMG_2485IMG_2502IMG_2495IMG_2499IMG_2500IMG_2501IMG_2516

Tate Modern Mondays

Something that has been rather intriguing over the last couple of weeks is discovering that there are lots of other people 👩👧👦 who are also not at work.  Some are unemployed and having some time out (Rich when are we going to visit Kenwood House 🏤), others are working part time in order to pursue their real passion (Nina 🎨 let's hang out soon), some are starting companies (George we must have lunch 🌳), and others who just have some time off in-between jobs.  It feels like many people have been working for a while now - I graduated 🎓 4 years ago - (gap year + 4 year course, very indulgent), but I have friends my age who finished university 6 years ago.  And perhaps not everyone is that satisfied with work as they know it so far, and are beginning to get itchy feet 🏃and look into different options - YOLO and all that.  (I do also have some very successful friends who are almost high-flying, usually in more conventional careers, whom I am always very impressed by.)Yesterday I spent the day with Hee Yon 👧, which was marvellous.  Hee Yon has a couple of weeks off in-between jobs, and yesterday was her first weekday off - such a novelty.  We spent almost the whole day together which was very good.We met at the Tate Modern 🎨 and went to see the Alexander Calder 🎋exhibition.  I got a little over excited by Alexander Calder and his mobiles 🎋so have written some things about him at the end of this post - but definitely do go see it, I think I may go again, it was super.Having successfully achieved the cultural part of our itinerary - Hee Yon and I spent the rest of the day eating 🍛, drinking 🍷, eating 🍪 some more and trying not to be blown away by storm Imogen ⚡️ - we were almost certain an apocalypse was taking place, and no one had informed us - the wind ☁️was just MAD.Hee Yon knows a lot about food 🍰, and whilst she has some time off is taking Cordon-Bleu's bread making course 🍞which I think is amazing.  I certainly don't do enough of making things from scratch, and she is learning how to make all sorts of bread 🍞and she has previously taken the pastry course 🍩😄.  Anyway, she is very good at food 🍧(definitely have a look at her instagram @heeyoncho) - and she chose José Tapas Bar on Bermondsey Street for lunch 🍝🍤🍢.  This is a lovely little place, usually packed full after work, but we practically had the place to ourselves for lunch.  The tapas was very yummy indeed, I really enjoyed the fried Monte Enebro goat’s cheese with orange blossom honey (or queso de cabra y miel) 🍮 👌.After lunch and 10 minutes battling our way through storm Imogen ⚡️☁️, we decided we deserved a coffee ☕️ - so had some nice flat whites  ☕️☕️and a brownie 🍫to share, in Monmouth, in Borough Market.  I now seem to spend a lot of my time rearranging peoples food 🍧and drink 🍷, so I am able to take nice photographs 📷of it (thank you EVERYONE for being so patient) - Hee Yon indulged me in this, whilst also taking some nice snaps of me taking photos 😉😳☺️📷Then we visited the Barbican 🏯estate.  I have been to the Barbican estate 🏯 once before - and it really is one of the strangest places, particularly when you come across it by accident.  It's right next to all those skyscrapers 🏰in the city, but once you are on the high walk 🎢and have made it to the centre, you discover a weird concrete oasis (it's Brutalist architecture apparently)🏯, completely lost in time - it arrived in the 1960s, due to the area being devastated by bombs  during World War II .  I went to Lanzarote a couple of years ago, and it reminded me of the houses carved into the volcanic rock 🗻 - large slabs of concrete at all angles, surround a fountain and an oblong pond ⛲️, and terraces with greenery 🌿, and flats 🏠peer down onto this central area.  It really is strange, but I do like it, and it's quite amazing if you live there - you have the Barbican Centre 🏯, there is a church ⛪️and schools 🏤, there are even post boxes 💌 on the high walk.  You could probably never leave the estate if you didn't feel inclined, and I bet there are people that don't stray far.  The glass walls of the city of London 🏬 will just keep growing up around it, and one day it will become a long forgotten utopia ⛲️.... ok too far - but do go have a look next time you are near by 😉.Hee Yon and I ended our day with some tea ☕️ in the Barbican Cafe, and then it was home time - thank you for such a fun day out! 😊Alice xxxIMG_2396IMG_2404IMG_2413IMG_2423IMG_2454IMG_2476IMG_2452A bit about the Tate Modern and then Alexander Calder 🎋:I love the Tate Modern a lot - mainly because of the Turbine Hall, which really is magnificent.  Currently on show in the Turbine Hall, is an exhibition by Abraham Cruzvillegas called Empty Lot.  Abraham has filled 'triangular wooden planters' (wooden boxes in triangular shapes) with soil from parks all across London.  Nothing has actually been planted in the soil, they are just letting whatever was already in there, grow.  So it is constantly changing and the Turbine Hall is essentially filled with many weeds.  'The unpredictable nature of the work...provokes questions about the city and nature, as well as wider ideas of chance, change, and hope' - waffle maybe, but I like the idea.Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture was really rather fun - Calder turns out to have been a mechanical engineer and Hee Yon studied engineering so this was nice.  I also like it when an artist has a specific skill other than drawing - engineer, then artist, adding an extra dimension to his craft.Calder is essentially a sculptor, and is best known for his 'mobiles' - many of his works hang from the ceiling rather than standing on plinths.  He mainly uses wire and sheet metal - and most of his works are created with an element of movement.  A few of his sculptures have a small motor, but most are 'free moving' such as the mobiles.  The solar system and the universe are a strong influence in his work.  You certainly see that in his mobiles - a wire suspended from the ceiling, with small pieces of sheet metal at the end of each adjacent wire -  each piece of metal is a separate entity, but it's movement relies on the mobile as a whole.  Later on his sculptures become less geometrically arranged and more inspired by nature - names change from 'Constellation' to 'Snow Flurry II'.Early critics defined his sculptures as 'drawing in space' which I really like.  The sculptures featured in the exhibition date from 1930s and the early 1940s.  We enjoyed the wire sculptures the most (I hadn't been aware of these), there is a rather lovely elephant and a leopard, and I liked 'Le Lanceur de Poids', who really does look like he has just thrown a shot-put.  The wire 'portraits' are fun, Joan Miro and Fernand Leger are both there, and they have been suspended from the ceiling and lit in such a way, that the reflection creates another portrait against the wall.  I really liked a rather sweet dog made primarily from a clothes peg.  The ink on paper drawings were rather satisfying, some black dots of varying sizes on white backgrounds.  And there are many mobiles.  We were less keen on the early colourful abstract ones and more keen on the later, more refined and elegant works, in particular 'Nineteen White Discs'.  The other fascinating piece, not displayed, but talked about - was a fountain Calder created for the Spanish Republican government for the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris.  The fountain runs with mercury, rather than water - it is a memorial to the siege of Almaden by Franco's troops, which at the time supplied 60% of the world's mercury - it is a counterpart to Picasso's 'Guernica'.No photos were allowed - but do go and see the exhibition, there is lots to find out about - and pictures just do not do the sculptures justice, you need see the mobiles suspended from the ceiling, slowly moving, whichever way they will.IMG_2406IMG_2467IMG_2391 

A Weekend

Many things happened this weekend.The biggest news is that I finally cracked, and downloaded Uber 🚙.  I have put off getting Uber 🚙, as my worry is that my relationship with Uber 🚙, will be similar to my relationship with chocolate 🍫 - if I don't have it, I can't eat it, if I do, I will always eat it all (I just don't understand these people who can eat two pieces of dairy milk, and not eat the rest of the bar for a week 🍫😍). Therefore with Uber on my phone I would soon be ubering everywhere, with my bicycle long forgotten 😢.  Until this weekend I  have always  had to be fairly imaginative with my travel arrangements 🚶🚴 🚕 🚂 ⛵️.The reason for the Uber 🚕 download is as follows:Alice (not me, a different Alice) had organised an appointment at 9am a bridesmaid 👗 dress shop in Chiswick, on Saturday morning.  Many alarm bells 🎊 should have started ringing at this proposition - 9am is not my strongest hour and the last time I went to Chiswick on a weekend it was a disaster.  But this was the only appointment they had, so I City Mapppered 📉the route in preparation (walk 🚶, bus 🚌, bus 🚎) and remembered to set my alarm ⏰.  I however forgot (ignored) the fact that I would be participating at a very nice dinner 🍷🍛 at Mosimann's for Gabby's birthday 🎂 on the Friday evening.  And after some good wine 🍷, much good food 🍲 and a 2am sleep time 💤 - a 7.30am alarm did not feel at all like a satisfactory option 😳.I did wake up 🎊🎊, and neither of my flatmates seemed particularly inclined to drive 🚙❌  me anywhere, so after an inner turmoil, I downloaded Uber.  You have to get an UberX apparently, so Hassan turned up in his white Toyota Prius 🚘 and off we went.  An eye make up disaster 😜 (too rushed, smudge everywhere) didn't seem to phase him, although I am certain I looked more like I was doing a walk of shame 😎, rather than going for respectable dress fitting 😇 when he picked me up from side of Wandsworth Bridge roundabout.  He even said 'take care' when he dropped me off (at the wrong place).  However, THE most important thing was that I made it, and we were able to try many bridesmaid dresses 👗 👗on 💕☺️.This weekend I also assisted in celebrating three birthdays 🎂🎂🎂 🎈😄.The first was Gabby's 👧for which we had a magnificent dinner 🍛 at Mosimann's (thank you Mary ☺️).  It was really very pleasant - I ate risotto al fungi (mushrooms) 🍲, some pigeon (hopefully not too local) 🐦 and we shared a pudding plate 🍰🍮🍨 (the passion fruit soufflé 🍮 is so delightful, I would happily go back and order just that.)  I do like Mosimann's very much - the building is a converted 19th century church, and the space is splendid.  The walls are filled with many beautiful works of art 🎨 and the loos 🚽are rather decadent, they have a fireplace with an actual fire burning 🌅.  And the food is very very nice indeed.  A charming evening out with wonderful company ☺️, and Jerome the chef even came out to say hello 😉.On Saturday evening we celebrated Tom 👦 and Chatty's 👩 birthdays with a large feast 🍛🍨🍷🍸.  Chatty cooked for 26 people - and she didn't just do a pie 🍲 - she went the whole hog and did roast pork 🐷, with potato gratin 🍲, and many wonderful trimmings (She was putting the pork in at 7.30am ⏰on Saturday morning, whilst I was having a break down trying to work out how to order an Uber 😭🚙).  It was magnificent and the pudding 🍨 was amazing - apple 🍏 tart tatin AND banana  🍌tart tatin.  Really delicious - there was not a scrap left (which was good, as last time we had a big dinner, there was a lot of pudding 🍨smooshed into the floor the next morning).  But we had an excellent time - 26 is the most we have sat for dinner so far in our house - thanks for all the chair  and table lending!!  Possibly, most excitingly of all, one of Tom's friend's, completely coincidentally works for Sipsmith, and brought some of that lovely gin 🍸along 💗.Sunday we cleared up (mainly Tom and Hugh), and then went for a potter down to the antiques market on the Northcote Road.  This worries me slightly, as I am not sure we are at antiques pottering age yet, but really it is because our house came completely unfurnished and we still need to acquire certain bits of useful furniture.  Anyway I really like the antiques market - there are many curious things, and the people are nice.  We rejuvenated ourselves with a nice hot chocolate ☕️☺️ in Gails, which is well worth it.Alice xxxIMG_2305IMG_2329IMG_2273IMG_2260IMG_2269IMG_2385IMG_2262IMG_2296IMG_2345IMG_2369IMG_2374IMG_2363IMG_2362 

Mr Genévrier

Yesterday I went gin 🍸 tasting in a church ⛪️which seems like an excellent way to spend a Thursday evening, unemployed or not.It was really rather fun, a nice young man called Alexander 👦 told us all about Sipsmith gin 🍸 and why we should only be drinking Sipsmith's gin and vodka and no one else's.  He had many reasons such as their gin 🍸 is distilled through copper so is incredibly pure and smooth (I may not get the terms exactly correct) but copper 🏮 is VERY important to the process.  Their gin spends a whole day in the copper 🏮, travelling about, and when it reaches the end point, they only use the very best of what is produced. This is the middle section, you don't want the first part, they use that for hand wash in hospitals, and the dregs are also not so nice.  They infuse their gin with many botanicals 🍊🍇🌾 from all over the world ✈️ - and you can smell and taste the different aromas - citrus 🍋 definitely features.  (Gin 🍸 is basically flavoured vodka, at least that is what he said, but I don't entirely believe him.)  It is very important that the 'botanicals' are part of the distilling process and not added after - adding after lessens the quality of the gin 🍸.They set up in 2009 and were the first gin distillery to be based in London 🎡 since the 1820s amazingly.  Gin 🍸is a very British 🇬🇧 drink, although we stole it from the Dutch.  This is where the word Dutch Courage comes from - when William of Orange 🍊 was fighting the Dutch in the 1600s, the English soldiers 🇬🇧 wanted to know why all the Dutch soldiers were so brave.  It turns out they were drinking the first form of gin, a drink made from Genevrier or Juniper berries🍇- and this is also where the word 'gin' derives from.Although I am not a big 🍸 gin drinker, I have been pretty much won over by Sipsmith - they even have names for their copper 🏮 distillers (Prudence, Patience and Constance and of course each has a story behind it) and every bottle 🍶 made has a batch number which you can put into their website, and it will tell you what the Sipsmith team were up to the day the gin was being made.  It is called Sipsmith because, as a silversmith or a goldsmith are connoisseur's in their trades - Sipsmith drinkers are well informed gin sippers.The best part was the sloe gin 🍇🍸 - which is very good.  They add the sugar to the sloes 🍇and gin 🍸 at the very end of the process which makes it very dry.  This is good because it's not too sweet, and it is the closet thing I have tasted to homemade sloe gin which is the best.Well done Sipsmith - I didn't buy any, but I may well buy some sloe gin 🍇🍸 soon - they sell it is both Tesco and Sainsburies 😉. And thank you Alexander, sorry if my facts aren't quite correct, I should have taken notes - I really did enjoy your talk very much!Possibly the most intriguing part of the evening, was a quick talk by a member of the church ⛪️ about how gin 🍸 and Christianity fit together.  I am pretty certain gin 🍸 is not actually mentioned in the bible 📕, but the idea is - God is very keen on parties and he has the very best wine 🍷, Jesus even turned water into the very best wine 🍷, at a wedding in Cana:''Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2, 7-10This last line is important, as the idea is, that when you reach heaven, you will be at a celebration far superior to any on earth.  Jesus saves the best until last.  And drinking alcohol 🍷, gin 🍸 included, is God's way of giving us a small taste of the incredible party to come in heaven.  (I hope I have got this right.  Also researching verses from the New Testament 📘 gave me a rather weird throw-back to my R.S. GCSE, when I spent A LOT of time with Mark's gospel....)Anyway, thank you for inviting me along Becca, it was great, and I am quite keen to drink some of that sloe gin 🍇🍸 on earth, heaven can wait a little bit 😉.Alice xxxIMG_2235IMG_2217IMG_2221 

Wednesday

Yesterday I sat in Toast Rack 🍞 and did some work, which was rather pleasant.  The very kind waiters and waitresses brought me cups of Suki green ginseng tea 🍵 (very nice), a mocha ☕️and some kedgeree 🍜 for lunch - an odd choice for a lunch menu, actually an odd choice in general - but it tasted great.The best thing about my time spend in Toast Rack 🍞 was the other diners 👩👵👨👧.  The older couple 👵👴 next to me (obviously locals, they ordered a bacon and egg 🍳 sandwich not on the menu) spent most of their time making rather astute observations, in low voices, about the other people consuming their coffees ☕️ and avocado on sour dough 🍞.  I was particularly pleased when they referred to the 'yummy mummies'.  (I promise I wasn't eavesdropping 🙉 on all your conversation, my ears happened to prick up at this phrase, it was lovely to meet you and thank you so much for looking after my things when I went to the loo 😊).The yummy mummies 👩👩 in question were discussing at length their daughters 👧👧, who are at an all girls 👭 boarding school - apparently it is tricky to buy a 'cool' bikini 👙for a 13 year old, someone hadn't been invited to someone else's party 💃❌ (youthful social disaster), and Holly only wants to take tennis 🎾 lessons so she can post cool photos 📷 on instagram 📱 (Go Holly, your instagram 📱photos will probably help more with your future possibility of ever becoming employed than being good at tennis will.... 😉).In the afternoon I went to visit Alex 👩 and Edouard 👶 which was a delight 😍.  I was at school with Alex, and she is one of those people who is always dressed impeccably in incredibly good colour combinations (I am always a little jealous Alex 😊).  She is also the first of my friends to have produced a mini version of herself (although Edouard really does look like his father).  So we all had tea in Alex's beautiful flat, and it was slightly like stepping into a completely different, wonderful world.I have really never spent much time with small children 👫 at all, and don't know any well except Edouard (Edouard and I are now firm friends - we got to know each other over some nice Leibniz chocolate biscuits 🍫, we are both big fans.)  I don't find babies 👶 cute (I find it irksome when people bring their newborns 👶 into the office 💻 for you to coo over them - they are completely useless bald creatures that cannot even hold their own heads up).  But toddlers are more interesting, as at that stage they become less like puppies 🐶 and more like humans 👦 -  they can walk on two legs, and are listening and responding all the time, and they are starting to make sounds that are almost words.It was really amazing to see Alex 👩 with Edouard 👶, and to see her as a Mother 🙎, which is so far from the stage most of my friends have got to in their lives (most of them can hardly keep track of their phone 📱, let alone a small child 👶..).  It is exciting and impressive that she is looking after not just herself, but another human being that is completely dependent on her.  And you can't just take it back if you decide it's not for you ....it puts things into perspective a little bit.As women we should probably all be giving birth in our early twenties, but most of us won't do that until we are at least 30.  It just doesn't make sense - career 📚, house 🏡, husband 👦, car 🚗 - then baby 👶 by which time you are old and you will be even older by the time it is anywhere near grownup.  (Don't worry Mummy, there's not something I'm not telling you - I need to learn to keep a pot plant alive before I would even consider getting a baby 🙊...)It was really lovely to see them both - Edouard has his own mini hoover to help his mother with the chores (training him well Alex 😉), and there was a nappy change situation, which made me think about all my parents friends who witnessed me as a mini person, a strange thought!Thank you for having me, both of you, and I am looking forward to coming back soon ☺️!I had a lovely cycle 🚴 home, the cherry blossom 🌸 is out, which seems ridiculous for this time of year, but has made me want to write something about flowers 🌸🌺 soon 😊.Alice xxxIMG_2211IMG_2238

Went Skiing

This weekend I went to Verbier ☺️.  Jessica very kindly had us to stay, as she is living out there for the season, which is rather marvellous and I am just a tiny bit jealous - 6 whole months living in the mountains 🗻 , I am a big fan of mountains 🗻😍.  I still can't decide if I had to choose to live either by the sea 🌊 and or in mountains 🗻,which I would choose - I think the sea 🌊 would win, but those mountains 🗻 really are very nice too.After making our way from Geneva airport ✈️ to Le Chable by train 🚂 (by the way you change at Martigny, NOT Lausanne - it's confusing), we got the bubble 🚡 up to Verbier, which really is the best way to arrive anywhere.We met Jessica (wearing an excellent all-in-one ski suit and moon 🌙 boots) accompanied by Oscar 🐶 and India 🐶.  Oscar and India have adjusted well to mountain life - they have swapped walks in Battersea Park for romps in the snow with other mountain dwelling Border Terriers and seem to be doing just fine 🐶🐶 ☺️🗻.Verbier is pretty trendy.  We had dinner 🍝 with Bear Grylls 👱 and lunch 🍛 with James Blunt 🎹.  Ok, not exactly, but we did see Bear enjoying his fondue 🍜 (poor man was probably being ogled by every public school boy 👦, girl 👧 and their swooning mothers 👩💘 that entered the restaurant that evening).  Sadly James Blunt was hidden away around the corner, so we didn't actually see him, but he was there, enjoying his rosti 🍛 and rose 🍷, I hope as much as we were.I like skiing 🎿 but I do get the fear 😱.  I have been enough times that I shouldn't be too bad, but I'm not so good at not being in control and I dislike ice ❄️ immensely - I think it's the sound 🎶 more than anything.  Skis 🎿 sliding across ice ❄️ just sounds like impending doom.  I have been known to make it half way down a red run 🔴, get some serious fear 😱, have a big argument with my long suffering mother 🙆 (I can't do it, it's impossible, I will fall over, I will die 😢😰😭), take my skis 🎿 off and walk back up the piste to the safety of a nice blue run 🔵 🙊.I would like to tell you I behaved impeccably this time, no fuss made, and went down some blacks ⚫️⚫️ on the first day.  I did  take a small tumble 😵 on one of them - however luckily Alistair very kindly rescued me and helped me put my ski back on, etc - and after that I only faltered one more time on a black ⚫️ that was sheet ice ❄️😁.The skiing in Verbier is rather nice - we skied the 4 Vallees on the first day (actually I think we only got to three of them) but it was a fun adventure 🎿🗻.  We had Edward and Edric (Or Ed and Ed) with us, who were both on snowboards 🏂🏂 (very cool) but apparently snowboards 🏂 and button lifts / T-bars do not mix very well.  There was a point when we thought we may never see Edward 🏂 ever again, the ONLY way back up was a particularly vicious button lift, and I never found out how many attempts it took him to remain attached to the devious button - but thankfully he did eventually appear over the crest of the hill 😃.  Jessica and Alistair also got wiped out whilst on a T-bar by a very small child 🙍 whose stopping powers were completely beyond it.  Alistair attempted to avert the approaching hazard by grabbing the child by the scruff of the neck (ski jacket), however it was no use and they were resigned to skiing back to the bottom of the lift and start all over again, leaving the tearful 🙍small child with it's apologetic mother 👩.Our second day was white out, and I think I enjoyed that the most - just you and the mountain 🗻😎, with hopefully the person in front you still just in sight .  The third day Jessica very kindly showed us round Savoleyres, and mid morning we had a delicious apple tart 🍏 (maybe tart tatin) in Chez Simon.We did also drink 🍷☕️ many very nice things.  The hot chocolate ☕️🍫 in La Vache was the best part - 'chocolat chaud avec alcool et chantilly' I like the way they don't tell you what kind of alcohol.  Just alcohol.  That's fine. And it was DELICIOUS ☕️🍫🍸😍.  We also indulged in some apres 🍻 at Farinet - probably one of the strangest bars I have been too.  On one side you have ski boot clad seasonaires 👯 drinking many beers 🍻 (spilling much beer on the floor 🍻💧) and listening to a really quite good, extremely loud, live band 🎤🎸 playing Maroon 5.  Through the wall and visible you have a really quite swanky cocktail bar 🍸 which smells only slightly of stale beer 🍺, selling pricey cocktails 🍸with silly names.  I mean cocktails 🍸almost always have silly names - I tried the Pornstar (for it's contents not it's name, I don't really agree with outrageous drink names) and it was rather delicious.Verbier was fun, thank you very much for having us to stay Jessica and Alistair 😊.  It was lovely to be in the mountains 🗻, to have some real fresh air 😷 and to ski 🎿 (I'm sure I'm getting better 😉).Alice xxx IMG_2045IMG_2188IMG_2186IMG_2093_2IMG_2111IMG_2150IMG_2089IMG_2107IMG_2168IMG_2108IMG_2191IMG_2076IMG_2117IMG_2173IMG_2175

Chelsea Days

Sorry for being rather absent this week - I have been working - hurrah! (again 😊).I have been helping at the hush sample sale 👗👚👙- the last day is tomorrow, so I would get down to Chelsea Old Town Hall quick fast and get yourself some wonderful pyjamas 👘, cashmere jumpers 👕, slouchy tees 👚 and a whole bunch of other bits and pieces you will wear forever 👛👠👖 ☺️.The sample sale was fun - but 10am on the first morning was a little terrifying.  The parka wearing, ombre haired, hush loving ladies are a nice bunch (they were so pleased with their sample finds) but they are determined.  Very determined.  Not a snood lay unturned in the hunt for the last pair of cashmere wristwarmers.  My first customer to the till was a frightened man who had been sent by his wife to buy pyjamas - he really did look scared, and fled the moment he had paid, clutching his purchases, with mutterings of 'never returning ever again'... And I do get a little displeased with the ladies who try and bargain down even further - that jumper was £85 you are paying £15.  Please just appreciate how good a deal you are getting and don't try to haggle with me.  However, in general the sample sale customers seemed very pleased with their finds.  I got the Ascot dress 👗 in navy which I am very pleased with 😍.I had lunch with Grace, which was very nice indeed.  We went to The Grocer on the King's Road 🍏🍞 and got much needed coffees ☕️ and good things to eat.  We first considered L'Eto which look delightful - but £9.90 for a takeaway salad seems a little bit much even for Chelsea....Grace is a singer 🎶, and sings wonderfully (listen to her song Vapour Trails ☺️) and told me all about the video 🎥 she is about to shoot for her newest single 🎵, which is coming out early this year.  I am very excited.  On a side note, she is also going to come roller blading on Wandsworth Common which is magical 🎆 - Grace we will, one day, go to a roller disco wearing shiny leotards...I also found the most beautiful navy parka 🎽 ever, in Claudie Pierlot.  It's lovely, and I want it and it is reduced from £600 to £180.  I have however been incredibly restrained, the consumer in me -  'but you really need a nice warm, smart coat, and it's such a good price' has been quietened.  This was a massive hurdle and I did not fall.  At least not yet.  I have not bought the parka 🎽 - although almost everything (except my bank balance) is saying 'buy it, buy it'.  I will not.  But I am excited for all of you who do - they have it in burgundy too 😘A great thing happened yesterday - it was Tom's birthday 🎂.  And not only was it his birthday, but Chesca made him the best bath cake 🎂🛁 ever.  Yes.  A cake 🎂 in the shape of the bath 🛁.  It even had rubber ducks 🐥🐥, and a bath mat, and the tiling for the bathroom floor was made of white chocolate ◻️🍫.  I think Tom was happier with the bath cake 🎂🛁 than he was about the chocolate biscuit cake with cherries, and he really loves chocolate biscuit cake with cherries.  Happy Birthday Tom!!! 😊🎈  I also gave him a lovely David Shrigley card.... David Shrigley should make all cards for all occasions 😉.I am actually writing this whilst sitting on an aeroplane, as I am in Switzerland for the weekend - so super!!  I don't like planes, but I do like clouds very much and we have passed some wonderful clouds.Alice xxxIMG_1920IMG_1918_2IMG_1929IMG_1980IMG_1909IMG_1988IMG_1981IMG_1956IMG_2015_2IMG_2005IMG_2027_2

A Cranaching Evening

Yesterday we celebrated Burns Night 🔥.This is what www.robertburns.org says about Burns Night:Celebrated on, or about, the Bard's birthday, January 25th, Burns 🔥 Suppers 🍴 range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars 🎓to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards 🍷and louts 🍻. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal 🍛, the drinking of Scotch whisky 🍺, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard 📘🔮.I think we weren't too uproarious 👯, and there were only a few drunkards 🍹🍸 at the end of the night, AND we ate haggis, neeps and tatties 🍛, and cranachan 🍥 all wonderfully made by Chesca. Oh and there were some nice Scottish beverages on offer - whisky🍸, ginger wine 🍷, irn bru 🍹and buckfast 🍺 (not all at once, although apparently whisky and ginger wine with a squeeze of lime is excellent).Everyone had put on some splendid tartan (mainly provided by Topshop and Zara) and we addressed 📢 the haggis quite properly - each person reading their verse.  There really were some quite marvellous Scotch accents - Hugh carried on being Scottish for the rest of the night (actually maybe he is Scottish...).  Olivia even stabbed 🔪 the haggis at the appropriate moment - and all the lights went out 💡, it was rather dramatic - we are a little worried she may have stirred up the spirit 👼 of some long dead Scottish bard with her accidental incantation 🔮:His knife see rustic Labour dight,An cut you up wi ready slight,Trenching your gushing entrails bright,Like onie ditch;And then, O what a glorious sight,Warm-reekin, rich!Luckily the lights 💡💡 came back on again and we were able to eat all the wonderful food, drink some drinks and generally celebrate Scotland - there were a few toasts to 'the union' and some perhaps less favourable ones to 'Sturgeon' and 'Salmond' - although really it was a very positive evening in general.  We 💙💚Scotland.Today I had porridge 🍲 for breakfast (Scottish Oats to stave off the whisper of a whisky 🍸hangover), and did my first day ever working from home.  Which really was very pleasant - I got many work things done and had Bumble for company, he dressed like Peter Rabbit today 🐰🎀.Alice xxxIMG_1888IMG_1849IMG_1857IMG_1861IMG_1899

Alice Visits a Palace

Yesterday I got up really very early 😠 for a Saturday morning and took myself off to to Alexandra Palace 🏤.  I have been there once before and I can tell you it is VERY FAR from Wandsworth.  I walked 🚶, got a train 🚂, got the tube 🚅 and then a bus 🚌 and finally made it.  However my journey wasn't over - some very suspicious security people 😎😎 finally let me into the Palace 🏤 (I'm an exhibitor, I promise 😇) and trekked to the other side of the Great Hall 🚶🚶, to discover my Mother 🙎standing on a table amongst a number of canvases 🎨 and a lovely vase of daffodils, witch hazel and camellias 🌼🌾🌺.  There was a reason for the table standing - she was setting up for a day of tourism trade excitement, as High Beeches Gardens was exhibiting at Excursions Exhibition 2016.The exhibition interestingly shows all sorts of attractions based in the south east - so big names such as the Tate Galleries 🎨 and Royal Collection were there, along with small independent people like us, and even some magicians (although I am still confused by their presence).  It's a odd mix of exhibitors - landed gentry (who have an 'attraction' on their estate) pottering about it tweed jackets, the rather aloof RHS organisers wandering about in zipped up fleeces, the travel company owners in crumpled shirts and ties, and the odd Roman soldier...Anyway we were sharing the stand with Bolney Wine Estate 🍷🌳 for the day, and we had a lovely time on stand SE23, with only a few small confusions  'so you are a vineyard and a garden...'  No - for the record - High Beeches is just a garden, Bolney are just a vineyard - but we are 15 minutes down the road from each other, so please do come and visit both in one day, you can have lunch at either.I have spent a number of days on stands at trade fairs before - mainly at Kensington Olympia with Gabs handbags  👜and Elia B shoes 👠 and once in Milan.  Milan was one of the most amazing and overwhelming experiences ever - there was many, many halls the size of Kensington Olympia next to each other and just filled with shoes👠.  So many shoes 👠👠👠.  It was truly wonderful.  David who I worked with at these fairs is an absolute stickler for 'stand etiquette' - the stand must be tidy at all times, no sitting down, and always a keen eye 😳 for any passing potential handbag 👜👜buyers.  I think I did you justice David, I did keep the stand tidy (removing the endless empty tea cups) and I did accost a number of potential garden visitors, although they are certainly a very different sort....The visitors to the fair appeared to be fairly officious retired older ladies 👵 (members of U3A are the most terrifying, the WI are kinder), flogging tours to other older ladies 👵 who need entertainment.  'Ohhh we do love your garden 🌳but it's a bit too hilly 🗻 for our ladies', 'What a lovely garden, can we fit you in with another attraction as a nice day out' (Yes we've already told you Bolney Vineyard 🍷 is down the road...) 'Oh we do love coming to you, such a good cream tea ☕️🍰'.Anyway is was a super day, I met an owl called Twiglet 🐦 (he was quite sleepy), had a delicious Bombay Sapphire gin cocktail with the Mad Hatter 🎩and Harry Potter 🔮(apparently they do tours of Oxford), and learnt quite a lot about wine 🍷 from the lovely Charlotte of Bolney Vineyard.  If you grow the grapes in England - it has to be called English wine not British wine.   British wine is when they buy the grapes from another country but make it in England.  AND very kindly Goodnestone Park gave us a little pot of their honey to take home 🐝☺️Today:Today I went cycling 🚴in Richmond Park 🌳which was great - I haven't done that much proper exercise for quite sometime, and my fellow cyclist certainly put me through my paces.  I dug out my Sweaty Betty trackie bums and looked sort of athletic (the glittery Bimba and Lola trainers were maybe a little overkill - but there is something very satisfying about overtaking lycra clad cyclists whilst wearing glitter) It was a wonderful day out and we sat in the park and had a coffee ☕️ and then cycled up 'just a small hill' - it was really very steep 🗻 and I may not be able to walk tomorrow.  But it really was a super nice day.This evening I have been editing some copy of a website 💻which has yet to be launched, which I have enjoyed immensely ☺️.  I spend rather a lot of time 'thesaurusing' words and it makes me realise I need to read more 📕.  Lots more📕📘.  I think I need to set myself a reading goal - so will report back when that is in place.Tomorrow we are having a Burns 🔥 dinner, which is super - and I am very excited 😊😊.  We have given all the guests one verse of the 'Address to the Haggis' to learnt off by heart to be recited tomorrow evening - you better all be practicing your best Scottish accents!! 😉Alice xxxIMG_1655IMG_1669IMG_1672IMG_1679IMG_1740IMG_1728IMG_1720IMG_1712IMG_1759IMG_1743IMG_1768IMG_1804IMG_1780IMG_1779 

A Day in the Real Countryside and a Trip to Selfridges

So I have been asked what the word 'edgy' means from a confused reader (my father) - so I thought to make it clear to all I would give you the definition according to the internet:

edgy
adjective
 
1. tense, nervous, or irritable.
"he became edgy and defensive"
synonyms: tense, nervous, on edge, highly strung, anxious, apprehensive, uneasy, ill at ease, unsettled, unstable; 
 
2. informal
at the forefront of a trend; experimental or avant-garde.
"their songs combine good music and smart, edgy ideas"

 No. 2 is the important one.So the day before yesterday I went to the countryside 🌳🍃.  National Rail 🚂 also seem to think Wandsworth is not in London - I despair.    Anyway I spent the day with Pip and Barney - who are excellent companions, and really don't mind at all that I am unemployed.  We went for a walk in the sunshine ☀️ - it was a beautiful frosty day.  Pip is feeling quite over enthusiastic about life at the moment - (I would say 'edgy' definition No. 1 would apply to his current disposition) and I think the walk 🚶 did us all good - the only destruction that took place, whilst I was in charge, was the tearing apart of an out of print Hillier's Trees and Shrubs book 📗....  we think perhaps it's a teenage thing.The three of us also visited Granny 👵- and we spoke at length about Dolly Pentreath, the last woman to speak the cornish language apparently, and about my Great Grandmother, who was the youngest but one of her father's 15 children - can you imagine...  her mother had 6 daughters 👭👭👭.  She must have had real Mrs Bennett Syndrome...  Granny also thinks Barney is 'obstinate' which I think is very unfair - he just isn't.IMG_1640IMG_1536IMG_1560IMG_1571IMG_1548IMG_1551IMG_1538IMG_1574Yesterday I got on my bicycle and took myself over to Selfridges👗🎀👠.  I really like Selfridges, particularly floor 2 where all the good things are.  I like it because they have all the designers in one place, and because you are allowed to actually touch the clothes and even try them on.  You can roam to your hearts 💗 content, with only a few 'can I help yous' and see all the new collections in one place.  I never try things on (except shoes) and I really should.  I have a friend who was once convinced by an Alexander McQueen sales assistant that she must try a dress on - and it ripped 👗💔.  I mean, I just don't know what you do in that situation - it's not like TK Maxx where you tell sales assistant in the cloakroom that 'you really love it, but it's not for you' (whilst making sure the damaged item is well hidden) and then scarper from the shop at a fast pace and pray the next time you come back it's not the same person on duty.... (Ok I'm really not that bad, I do usually confess...)I really do love wandering about Selfridges - there is such an excitement about seeing so many beautiful designs 👗💘 in one place all so carefully displayed - I get really quite elated 😍 once I arrive on the second floor  (it's not quite how Holly Golightly 🚬 feels about Tiffany's, but I imagine a similar vibe).  I also like that they play upbeat almost club like music 🎶 - it's quite fun.  This time I found some real delights:IMG_1634IMG_1616My first discovery were some Simone Rocha dresses that looked like they were made out of candy floss (not sticky) and clouds.  I would probably only ever where such a thing if I happened to end up at a party in an Art Deco house in Palm Springs 🌴 - that would be great:IMG_1593I enjoyed these Dries Van Noten shorts immensely, and a fun necklace - I love overstated jewellery like this, the kind that your Barbie would wear - but actually you just wished it was in your size:IMG_1594IMG_1595Then a peak at these fantastic Alaia dresses - waisted dresses are the best, and look at the way they hang -  they do them in black too:IMG_1602IMG_1603A nice Pucci dress (I don't always get on with Pucci that well) but I do love a good pink and orange combo:IMG_1607I adore what Alessandro Michele is doing with Gucci - I really like the touch of the traditional, that green and red signature stripe with things like this - particularly the silver jacket 💙💙💙:IMG_1608IMG_1611Roksanda is great - because she does geometric patterns in bright colours, and because she makes skirts like below.  And this gem of  a shirt (I don't get on with buttons very well, so the use of shirt studs on a crisp white shirt, combined with the coloured stripes on the cuffs really is magical):IMG_1599IMG_1601IMG_1604And then Miu Miu.  I wish I had the opportunity and the resources to wear head-to-toe Miu Miu one day a week.  Just because.  It is always so different and so fun and I love the daring of the designs - such as these snakeskin and glitter shoes (these are not my thing) but they fact that they exist is just so good.  I loved the jewels, and I quite want the scent.  I think for Miu Miu I would become the consumer who buys the perfume or the sunglasses - just to own a touch of the magic.  An almost, but not really affordable, very own piece of Miu Miu 💘:IMG_1618IMG_1598IMG_1617IMG_1596I spotted a few other things - Givenchy sequin skirt ⭐️⭐️🌟 (so many twinkles), a superb dress by Toni Maticevski, Moncler ski jacket in bright orange, a beautiful blue suede Loewe handbag (I once saw someone in Milan with the Loewe Amazona bag in tan with magenta pink handles, and have never seen it since - it was so wonderful, and I really do want it) and the Chanel quilted bag in shiny bright pink and bright blue - YES Chanel.  Oh and the most hideous Christopher Kane duo - a full length red dress made of hearts and a jacket made of rubber (seriously?).IMG_1626IMG_1613IMG_1633 IMG_1636IMG_1629IMG_1606I had a quick whip around the shoes - I like the heels on these Sophia Webster shoes - I think excellent if you want a little bit of jazz to your wedding shoes:IMG_1620IMG_1621But really everything was looking quite beige, in colour and in attitude.  Except some silly Stella McCartney flatforms - I also got overexcited by the fur coat the lady in the background is wearing (probably should stop taking creepy sneaky photos of people I don't know) - fun fur coat though....IMG_1624It was a lovely excursion - perhaps I will go back soon and try some things on.Alice xxx

Week 3

So far lots of exciting things have happened this week 🎉😊!  I went to work 💻 on Monday - hurrah!  This was good, I was helping to set up for a sample sale 👗👚👠👙, and it was great to get out of  🚴 the house 🏠 and be useful and catch up with some people 😃.I had lunch at Coffee Affair ☕️ in Queenstown Road 👸 station 🚂 which is splendid.  I really quite like this little coffee shop ☕️🏪, and the couple who run it are so lovely.  I hadn't been in almost a year, and was so pleased that they are very much still there.  They sell all sorts of things, sandwiches 🍔, cakes 🎂 and soup 🍵and most importantly coffee ☕️.  They are very good 😊 at coffee - They even do coffee classes ☕️🎓!I had some delicious Italian meatball soup 🍝 and a flat white to take away ☕️.Today I took a trip to Wimbledon 🎾 which is not so far away - and took a cycle path 🚴 that was very rural 🌳🌿🍃.  Max is convinced Wandsworth is the countryside 🌳 (he took a photo of a duck 🐥 on the common the other day...) but, I have to say - the cycle 🚴 to Wimbledon 🎾 really did make me feel like I was in the countryside 🍃🌿 - Citymapper 📉 took me through a thoroughly un-city route.  It was a beautiful day ☀️ - but I made the mistake again of inappropriate footwear 👠... they are so beautiful 💕 though - some lovely gold loafers...  (I was in Wimbledon for an interview which was very exciting!)I met Chesca back in Wandsworth and we headed to Flotsam and Jetsam 🚣 again (you can have breakfast 🍨until 3pm in the afternoon - I can't get enough of the place!).  I ate eggs florentine 🍳🌿 and she had blueberry 🍇 and lemon 🍋cake 🍰 - it was very good.There has been a demand for more baking 🙇🎂 - so this afternoon I made chocolate biscuit 🍫🍰 cake with cherries and white chocolate chunks - I have never seen Tom so happy when he discovered this (apart from maybe when Arsenal ⚽️ are winning, but even then you know, I'm not sure - the happiness was really quite Great 😃 - in the large sense, not the 'thumbs up' sense, this is important).  I used this recipe but added white chocolate and removed the nuts.  I have even offered to cook dinner 🍝this evening - I am not sure quite what is happening - we are having this......Alice xxxIMG_1492IMG_1489IMG_1490IMG_1519IMG_1497IMG_1502IMG_1511IMG_1512IMG_1515   

28 and Unemployed

So I have been getting really lovely feedback 📝 about the blog, and wanted to say thank you☺️!I am really enjoying writing ✏️, and am also enjoying having the time to spend with friends 👫, and finding out what they get up to every day, and how it differs to the jobs I have done.  I recently got an explanation on 'softcoding' 📲 - thank you Nick!  (I think I need to learn some coding 📲 basics).  Been told that YouTube 📹 is apparently going to be THE social media thing of 2016 - (Emily when are you going to turn me into a vlogging star 📹⭐️?).  And a general feeling that not everyone is as satisfied with their jobs as they make out  'terrible boss but good hours', 'no career progression, but easy job' 'In love with my boss who is married....' 💓😁A couple 👭 of my littlest sisters friends sent her a message 💌 saying how much they loved 💕my blog - thanks guys 😍!!!  They said of the blog 'it's so great that it is written by an unemployed 28 year old' - which actually made my day 👯.For the first time in my life, I have nothing - absolutely nothing ahead of me - I can do anything I want.  I have always had a next step - school 🎒, university 🎓, internships 💾 and jobs 💻 (I've always had another job lined up before leaving one). But I am a firm believer that you are never 'sorted' in life.  Yes you can have goals to aim for - but you always have to work at everything each step of the way.  Which is why being unemployed and 28 is really a rather a great thing (ok your parents probably don't want you to be aspiring to unemployment in your late 20s) but I now have qualifications and experience 😀 and it is up to me to do what I want with it - and take whichever next step I choose, and this is exciting.(And yes I am aware that they may be seeing the more ridiculous 😎 side of my situation - unemployed, 27 actually, living with 4 slightly dysfunctional other 27 year olds 👫👫 and a rabbit 🐰 and taking trips to the V&A 🏤to keep myself occupied.  Sorry guys, just to warn you - in 6 years time you may not have a thriving career 👠, a doting husband 👰👦, a house in the country 🏡, two dachshunds 🐶🐶 and a range rover 🚗...  😉)SO - the weekend:Chatty and I, took Max out in Brixton - which is very edgy for him  (we have decided he is the least edgy housemate , so this was very good for him).  Brixton is fun and I guess quite edgy.  We had a delightful dinner in Three Eight Four - they do small sharing plates 🍛, we liked the arancini 🍘 and the chicken wings 🐥 the most - and they do fun presentation - the ping pong bat 🍳was quite entertaining.  The cocktails 🍸🍹were also great, I had the Nightshade, which was the right level of sweet and they had prosecco 🍸 for £5 a glass.  We DID NOT like the group of over excited girls 🙆🙅💁 sitting behind us who shrieked the entire time they were there and took photos with a highly offensive flash 📷🔆.  But other than that it was great - until I almost knocked myself out walking into the door on trying to exit.  It was a  glass door, Chatty was on the other side, and I had only had a couple of cocktails 🍹🍹and a glass of prosecco 🍸 - but seriously, it just wasn't there.....  this is exactly the moment I received the message from my 22 year old sisters friends, saying 'loving Alice's blog about being 28 and unemployed'...... 😲We ran away - obviously - and contemplated trying to go to Blues Kitchen Brixton 💙 - but gave up as the queue was offensively long 👭👫👭 - and to be honest, it looked rather like the queue outside Embargoes on the Kings Road, and we were trying to edgify Max and the last thing he needs is youthful wannabe hipster Sloanes 🙅...Saturday we went to the Geffrye Museum 🏤 - really because we wanted to find out who Geffrye 👨 was.  We never quite got the to bottom of this - but actually it is a rather fun place to visit.  It's all about the way the 'middling sort' lives (their words not mine) and how this has changed over the years.  They present you with different interiors 🏡, from different periods, and point out the changes that have taken place.  I liked the different concepts that were important to people during different eras - 'politeness' in the 18th century was a social code - there were very set ways to make tea ☕️ and proper ways to make conversation 💑, even how you should stand 🚶 - which all sounds really quite exhausting.  And later on, being 'neat' in everything you did was extremely important - your parlour need to be 'neat'.  I hope 'edgy' features in museums in 200 years time, as the way the young 'middling sort' of the 2000s lived - although I recommend you don't use our house - we are trying so hard, but the Cath Kidston 🔵 table cloth, and Le Creuset 🍚 kitchenware aren't really putting us on the scale... (although they are all second hand 😳😍)Something else very exciting happened this weekend - I have developed a liking for dachshunds ❤️🐶.  I have just never really liked them - it has always seemed so cruel to me to breed them with such long backs 😢, which they can damage so easily.  My new liking is not because they are now very trendy - but because this weekend I met 4 really quite charming dachshunds 🐶🐶🐶🐶 - and I think I am almost converted.  They are really very loveable 💕 and there is something rather delightful about having a couple of small dachshunds 🐶🐶 piled up on your lap requiring attention.  I was very tempted to steal Inka the smallest and take her back to London - I'm sure Bumble wouldn't have minded... 💘I also saw the most wonderful beehive - at least it was half a beehive, as the bees 🐝 had built it against a window - so you could see right in!  They weren't working on that part at the moment (they were busy on a different level) but it was quite magnificent to see the internal structure and the honeycomb.  And we got some honey 🐝 to take home - thank you Netty and Ted 😊!!Alice xxxIMG_1425IMG_1426IMG_1421IMG_1427IMG_1432IMG_1448IMG_1457IMG_1461IMG_1472IMG_1468IMG_1483 

The One When Chesca Came In From The Cold

Yesterday:Something very exciting happened yesterday - Chesca has moved in for a couple a weeks!  So now we are 5 👩👨👦👧👩🐰Chesca is studying 🎒 at the moment, so I spent yesterday testing her on her Arabic vocab - quite tricky for both of us.Bumble 🐰 also decided he wanted to learn Arabic, his method was slightly different - munching on the book 📘.  I mean he might well be fluent now, who knows.  He's a very secretive bunny 🐰.I also attended the Ballet 💃yesterday which was a delight!  My friend Laura who has a very serious job indeed (something to do with accounting 📑, she has told me multiple times but I am still not really any the wiser) wasn't able to get out of work in time to attend the performance and she very kindly, indeed, gave me her ticket.  It was fabulous - a really excellent choice Alex 😊. We saw Le Corsaire at the London Coliseum a swashbuckling 🌊tale based on Lord Byron's poem Le Corsair (I thought important to add the original title without the 'e' 😉).  It was in three acts, and told the story of a pirate 🚣who journeys across the sea to recuse the girl 👸 he is in love ❤️with from a harem.  At least that is what the website tells me happened - there were certainly a number of pirates 👱👱, beautiful girls in a harem 👸 👸and a charming, rather large, sultan 👵 (who I suspect was supposed to be a bit creepy, but I think had a jovial twinkle in his eye.)I loved the beginning of the third act - which appeared to be 'the sultans dream 💤' - many girls in wonderful pale pink tutus, others in pale green danced 👯 about the stage, some holding flowers 💐 - in a sort of 'ideal' garden 🌳.  It was a rather beautiful sight.  The end was quite unusual for ballet, a shipwreck 🚣 which reminded me of Theodore Gericault's 'The Raft of Medusa', all sea water and bodies everywhere.Anyway - I love ballet 💃, I love the way you can get lost in the movement of the dancers and the music, and it doesn't matter too much what is going on.  I once went to the 'opera' 😮 in Budapest with some friends when we were inter railing 🚉.  We waited and waited for them to sing - but they just never did, and I am secretly pleased that we ended up at the ballet 💃 by mistake.  I find opera 😮 tricky - they repeat themselves so much, and I can't help looking at the subtitles which is such a bore.  It also goes on forever - and I never quite trust young people  👶who 'just love' the opera 😮.  I mean do you really?  Or do you just think you should... I reckon it's an acquired taste.  (By the way, anyone who I have been to the opera 😮 with, I haven't been conning you, I have hopefully been increasing my appreciation for it..... it really can be splendid.)Today:Today I met up with Gabby, who has a super job at the British Museum 🏤.  I cycled 🚴 over to meet her for lunch - it was bitterly cold ❄️ today - I do not recommend cycling 🚴 in loafers 👠 in this weather, my toes had almost frozen off ⛄️ by the time I got there.  Gabby had an hour for lunch so we popped along to Clive's Midtown Diner, on Museum Street for a burger 🍔.  It was fun to catch up, and we had some good burgers and I indulged in a cola float 🍹.  We did consider wine as it's Friday - but I kind of just wanted a cola float ☺️🍹.After some excellent BM tips from Gabby, I waded my way through the endless school children and went to see the Egypt exhibition 🌞, the Rosetta Stone🗿, and popped in to see the crocodile mummy 🐊 (both kinds - it had mummified babies 🐲🐲 too - they are called hatchlings).  The part I enjoyed the most was a nosy around The Waddesdon Bequest which was so intriguing.  There were all sorts of wonderful 'things' 🔑⏳🏆.  I love things - Baron Ferdinand Rothchild had a whole room dedicated to them at his home Waddesdon Manor.  I didn't agree with them all, there were some very odd objects indeed - but also some really fascinating ones, and I am going to write ✏️ about this more soon.  I really liked this quote from the Baron 'My dearly beloved relations continue purchasing artistic wonders.  Oddly enough they never admire each other's purchases, and while extolling their own discrimination, ridicule the follies committed by others.' 😉Catch up soon.Alice xxxIMG_1416IMG_1283IMG_1291IMG_1402IMG_1411IMG_1302IMG_1304IMG_1310IMG_1316IMG_1393IMG_1360IMG_1414

On Wednesdays We Go To The V&A

Yesterday Emma was in London for the day and so we hatched a plan  📝of sorts to keep ourselves entertained.It was a beautiful day ☀️, one of those cold crisp sunny mornings, and I cycled 🚴 over Wandsworth Bridge to Fulham, where I met Emma and Chesca for a speedy breakfast 🍴☕️.  Chesca is a student 🎓, so we packed her off to class 🎒 and then had a think with what we should do with our free time.And I discovered that Emma had never been to the V&A!!! Completely preposterous, yes she may now live in the countryside 🌳, but has spent rather a lot of her time in London 🎡.  So this obviously needed to be rectified, at once.  I was on my bicycle 🚴, so Emma bravely decided to take on a Boris Bike 🚲.  Boris Bikes 🚲 are brilliant - I first got into cycling in London with Boris - but they are quite cumbersome and very heavy (very good for the gluteus maximus).Off we went - Cycling with someone else made me realise I am a fairly nonchalant cyclist 🚴 , and I know I am rather leisurely.  I tend to cycle in a very low gear (which completely baffles Max and Chatty, they are both uber speedy cyclists 🏁🚵🚵) and I'm not usually in a rush.  There were only a few cries of distress from behind me from Emma, mainly due to my lack of signalling ↔️, and we got there in one piece.IMG_1115IMG_1192So the V&A 🏤.  I am a member, which is good - but I did not have my membership card with me, so the very nice ladies behind the desk gave me a temporary one.We first went into the Cast Courts to see David 👦.  Well really to experience the Cast Courts as everything is SO BIG.  We couldn't decide if it just seeing these huge monuments inside a room, that creates such an odd sensation - if they were outdoors, next to a vast building your brain and eyes would be happier with the concept.  But seeing them all closely packed together in a huge room under a ceiling, creates this rather awe inspiring feeling.  We liked the Courts a lot.IMG_1121IMG_1124IMG_1135We then went to see the exhibition 'Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection' - but I am going to tell you about this at the end, as I got rather over excited by all the jewels 💎💍.  Do go see the exhibition, there are many fascinating pieces.  It is crowded by day trippers of a certain age who are a bit slow moving and not very good with personal space, but no matter, you can always subtly budge your way to the front of each case, and do make sure you remember your glasses 👓 (I forgot mine.)So having enjoyed many gems - Emma and I wandered through the maze  that is the V&A.  We liked the ironwork 🔨, the 'Renaissance City' is very tranquil ⛲️ (apart from the small child trying to drown itself in the fountain), and more jewellery 💎 - there are an intriguing number of tiaras 👸 on display 'Accepted by the HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum' (I wonder if they are allowed to borrow them for special occasions).IMG_1144IMG_1146IMG_1200IMG_1201IMG_1138IMG_1140IMG_1152I do really love the V&A though - and we have to go back and get your fridge magnet Emma!!Next on the agenda was a coffee (and a check that my bicycle had not been stolen) - I am always convinced it will be.We went to Roots and Bulbs as it seemed like a good place.  I have to say, it smells incredibly heath foodie 🌿 when you walk in.  Emma sensibly had a coffee ☕️ and I had the B Wave smoothie 🍶which had this in it: Maca, Flax Seed, Blueberries, Banana, Honey, AM.  I mean I definitely know what all those things are. Oh and by the way AM is Almond Milk 🍶 - duh!  I have to say it was very tasty.  We sat outside and enjoyed the sun ☀️ - and decided on our next movements.IMG_1162IMG_1177IMG_1202We thought it should be somewhere neither of us had been before, so rejuvenated we headed for Holland Park 🌳🍃 - what a beautiful day ☀️!We sailed past Leighton House 🏡 on our bicycles (must go back and visit) and arrived at Holland Park.  Holland Park is wonderful and bizarre.  The first highlight was the Kyoto Garden 🌲 - we communed with nature, I got on splendidly with a peacock 🐦, squirrel 🐭 and some terrifyingly large goldfish 🐠🐬, and a squirrel 🐭quite spectacularly threw itself at Emma, clinging desperately to her leg.  (It was quite a terrifying moment - can people please remember squirrels 🐭 are rats 🐭 with tails and letting them crawl all over you in not ok.  Actually is really quite gross.)  We felt a bit like disney characters 👸 who have animals (rodents) as friends 🐰🐭🐱 who help them with activities such as cleaning.  I don't want any rodent friends, we already have a rabbit 🐰 in the house, and he certainly does not do any cleaning..... 😉Then we discovered Holland House 🏰 (originally Cope Castle), which is now part ruin as it was destroyed by a fire bomb 🔥in the blitz. In some ways the remaining facade is rather sad, this grand house, now gone, the gate standing alone, overlooking what once would have been a lovely view - now a football field ⚽️ and some rather nasty modern buildings.  The last ball 💃 to be held at the house was the debutante ball of Rosalind Cubitt in 1939 attended by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth - just over a month later the house was hit by 22 incendiary bombs 💣.  Amazingly the east wing and library 📚remained almost completely undamaged.  It remained a ruin until 1952 when it was sold to the London County Council.We discussed how we would very much like to go to a ball 💃 - a proper ball, not the commercial type where you buy a ticket which gains you entry and one glass of 'champagne' but a party hosted by someone, where everyone was nicely attired (we get to wear some fabulous jewels 💎), and no one gets annoyingly drunk 🍸🍸🍸 before they arrive.  Drinking is fine, it's really quite fun, but I never see the point in getting so drunk you can't stand up before you've even arrived at the party, the beginning is often the best part, you get to discover who else is there and have a good look at what they are wearing.  Now what we really need is a venue, a nice big room....It really was a splendid day, and we parted ways as I needed to cycle home before the sun set.  Let's do it again soon please Emma, it really was super fun ☺️ !!Alice xxxIMG_1206IMG_1209IMG_1210IMG_1233IMG_1264IMG_1263 IMG_1242IMG_1255About the Jewels in the V & A:'Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection'.  No photos 📷 or sketching allowed 🎨 !  Which was sad.  They had some really incredible pieces - the exhibition guided us through from early Mughal and Indian jewellery to modern pieces 💎💍.I enjoyed the opening explanation that early Sanskrit gemmology recognised nine gems as the most important, and these are often seen set in a Navaratna (nine gem) amulet - a Ruby at the centre, surrounded by a diamond, natural pearl, red coral, hessonite, blue sapphire, cat's eye, a yellow sapphire, and an emerald.  And each gem also represents a planet - the Ruby (the sun) at the centre with the other gems (planets and moons) surrounding it.However, at the Mughal court in the late 16th century, they classified gems completely differently and the most valuable stones were deep red spinels.  I found this really fascinating, to see these huge red spinels set into jewellery.  Having worked with jewellery for a while, spinel is something we had, but not in abundance.  I actually rather like it as a stone, as it comes in all sorts of colours including some really wonderful pinks and blues.So the Timur ruby, on display in the exhibition, is actually a spinel.  The same goes for the British Imperial State Crown, in the Tower of London - the large 'ruby' is a sneaky spinel.149950-1297438617Other spinel's on display included the seal ring 💍of Nizam of Hyderabad - which is a red spinel set into gold with tiny retractable key 🔑 which is rather fun.BT048Other intriguing items on display were a number of diamonds 💎 including the Arcot II diamond - which is internally flawless, pear shaped, brilliant cut and really very big.  I do love diamonds - to be a completely materialistic person for a moment - there is something amazing about putting on diamonds, however big or small, and wearing them all day.  I think diamonds should be worn during the day, they instantly make any outfit better, and I like the idea that no one knows if they are the real thing.  For all they know, you could be wearing Accessorizes finest plastic.  (For the record I don't own any diamonds, so please don't mug me on the off chance, it would be really tedious for both of us.)10_arcot_diamondIt was interesting to learn that platinum was introduced after 1911, up until that point most jewellery had been set in gold.  I am a white gold / silver person usually.  But sometimes I get taken in by jewels set in gold..The other items I really liked were a pair of earrings and bangles by Bhagat.  The earrings consisted of 38 table cut diamonds set into platinum, and had been made in such a way that the diamonds looked as if they were suspended next to each other, with almost invisible settings.  And the bangles were fabulous - set with diamonds and freshwater pearls in platinum to look like interlocking jasmine buds.pearlIf only I could have taken photos 📷!!!  Ok, I have borrowed some photos from other people - but those earrings are actually divine 😇.  And they had a rubbish selection of postcards in the gift shop - this is something that really bothers me, please sort this out - if we can't take photos, at least provide some good postcards.  But what fun to be able to see the jewels up close 😊😍!!Alice xxx

The Birthday

So this is what happens when you are unemployed - #IMNOTTHEHOUSEKEEPERIMG_1108The reason for the fun colourful mess 💛💙💜 is that yesterday it was Chatty's birthday.  Happy Birthday Chatty!! 🎈🎉🎂Chatty has reached a very respectable age, but sadly like most people, had to go to work yesterday.  I however did not, and we concocted a plan for her arrival home yesterday evening.  It involved unexpected guests👭👭, cake 🍰 and some champagne 🍸.So at 5.30pm ⌚️ Emma, Chesca and Olivia all turned up.  This was quite excellent as Emma had come up from the countryside 🌳🍃🍄 and Chatty had no idea she was coming.  Chesca brought the most marvellous cake 🎂 (she is the most superb cake maker and decorator), it was decorated to look like a pony in a field.  Reason being Chatty has a pony 🐴 (ok fine, he's a proper horse 🐎) who she loves 💗very much, so this was an excellent choice for her cake🎂.They then hid in the garden 🌳, and once Tom was home we had a practice run of the 'surprise' we had planned.  Chatty was to arrive home, and we would entice her over to the window, and the others would pop up one by one in the window, and she would be very surprised by their presence and hopefully not keel over in fright (they are pretty scary 🙈🙊🙉).  And yes we are super cool...Anyway it all went down splendidly, Chatty arrived home, they all jumped out and she was very excited to see everyone 😊😃.  The best surprise of all was that once the cake 🎂 was cut, we discovered inside a rabbit ❤️🐰!! Not a real rabbit🐰, but the silhouette of a rabbit 🐰 made out of brownie.  It was super fun.  The cake 🍰 was delicious, chocolate 🍫 and orange 🍊, gluten free, with mounds of icing.  The grass icing 💚🌱 was made with the special grass nozzle... obviously. 😉(and I did clear up the mess this morning...)IMG_1055IMG_1062IMG_1057IMG_1072IMG_1107IMG_1095So the other thing I did yesterday was go see the Alice in Wonderland 🎀 exhibition at the British Library 📚.I really like Alice in Wonderland 🎀 very much, and have rather a lot of Alice books 📚.  This, I think 😳, is not just because my name is Alice, I do really love the stories.  'Alice Through the Looking Glass' is my favourite, I like that it is set in a chess game ◻️◼️, and I particularly enjoy The Red Queen's ♥️ matter of fact views and brusqueness 'Have a biscuit' 🍪, and that nothing ever quite makes sense.  'The Annotated Alice' is really good for curious Alice lovers  - Why is a raven like a writing desk 🐦?So off I went - public transport this time🚈, but not before I had put on a fun outfit, including my Alice in Wonderland 🎀 necklace!  It also turns out I am quite bad at taking full length selfies:IMG_1024IMG_1027IMG_1271The exhibition was small, but really enjoyable.  THE most exciting thing was Lewis Carroll's original Alice manuscript 📖 with his 37 illustrations 🎨.  Also on display was Carroll's diary 📘, open at the entry for 4th July 1862, the day he took the boat trip 🚣 down the river with the three Liddell girls.  On the opposite page to this entry, there is a note he wrote at a later date, stating that this day was the first time he told the beginnings of the Alice in Wonderland tale to Alice Liddell.  Really excitingly they have on display, the original woodblocks used for Tenniel's Alice illustrations.  There were a number of other versions of Alice - I really liked 'Alice in Wunderground and other Blits and Pieces' by Michael Henry Barsley - a parody combining Alice's adventures with the political situation at the beginning of World War II - including a lovely illustration of the Mad Hatter 🎩 and March Hare's tea party reduced to rations from a basket labelled 'Molotov's Breadbasket'.  It was rather fun to see actual copies of a 1949 edition illustrated by Leonard Weisgard in bright gouache and watercolours 💚💗💛, and an edition with Arthur Rackhams's captivating illustrations.IMG_1028IMG_1039IMG_1037IMG_1042I quickly nipped into the pop up shop which was full of Alice curiosities - best of all were mini bottles of fizz 🍸 labelled 'Drink Me' (although £17 for one did seem rather a lot!) and some really fun Yinka Llori chairs hanging from the ceiling in a very 'Alice falling down the rabbit hole' way, in the British Library gift shop.IMG_1052IMG_1030Sadly photos of the Alice exhibition weren't allowed - it is definitely worth a visit!Alice xxx