Monday, 30 November 2009

The view from here

I once read a book by Gerald Durrell where he described how having collected a variety of animals he was then unable to ship them home, he opened the cages to release them and they just sat there so used to the confines of their cages had they become.
I felt a bit like that on Friday, I had carved a couple of hours out of my day and so decided a walk around London was in order. But where to start? So, Julie Andrews style, I started at the beginning and walked up to Jermyn Street, through the Burlington Arcade, up Cork Street, over to Bond Street, the across to Bruton Street, Over Berkly Square and across to Selfridges.
I popped into Zara, hugely disappointing, they have had little I want in for ages, but that is because I no longer require glamorous evening wear, the outfits I have rarely see the light of day.
Muji too, was disappointing. In Uniqilo my patience was rewarded and finally I bagged a pair of +J tapered trousers,I love them. The cashmere was in the sale, but the women's was a little too snug and the men's only had naff colours.
I prevaricated for ages as to whether to buy a polo neck, they are not flattering but I think I may crumble as the impending life of a peasant looms ever closer.. anything to stave the chill of cold concrete.
Emin is laughing at my impending confinement in his village, I have looked forward to other breaks more it has to be said.
On to COS, oh the damage I could do to my bank account, I whittled down eight wants, into two eminently sensible purchases. A simple fine knit grey round neck merino wool jumper, really lovely with brown, as you can see later here. Plus a fine knit long blue drawstring V neck, it is a lovely colour and will rock with my new trousers and ankle boots, if it stops raining I may wear and draw them tomorrow.
One shop I have virtually stopped even going to is Jigsaw. This is a shock even to me, but one of the main reasons (apart from the ridiculous prices they now charge), is when I hauled out my heavy duty winter clothes last week, you know the stuff, tweeds, velvets, the thicker woolies. All the jigsaw stuff looked so flat, limp and lacklustre. The knitted stuff is so poorly made, it pill's at the touch of hand, it sags and looses it's shape after a couple of wears, for the price it is not worth it. They do some lovely styles and I have always liked their shapes but compared last years Uniqlo it looked very sad. Both COS and Uniqlo knitwear looks good after one season and I see little sign it won't look good next year, so I will stick with that for a while.

Louis Vuitton Bond Street. Waving a cheery two fingers up to global warming!

Stella McCartney Bruton Street using eco' energy' I would have thought using no energy at all would have been better. I do hate rich people that bang on about using more expensive resources, they should try living on a normal income before moralising.
I did feel a little sorry for her as bang next door. Matthew Williamson had a window FULL of fur!

Selfridges, not quite as amazing as in the past, but fabulous all the same. It had a kind of Panto' feel to it, very colourful, if a little manic/Steven King like!

Bennetton, my favourite Christmas tree, isn't it lovely? I used to buy loads of sweaters from here, and now I don't even look. Even this time I only went in to take a photograph! I have a hunch they don't knit for chunky monkey's like me.

Anthropologie, finally I made it. It was like stepping back in time for me. All the clothes reminded me of what I wore in the late eighties early nineties. I used to make skirts out of vintage fabric and wore them with vintage beaded cardies I found on Greenwich market.
Even the hotch-potch eclectic mix of ceramics reminded me of when we ate off charity shop china. what was very noughties was the prices, I stepped away pretty quickly. You can still source a similar look far cheaper than this, but I guess they have rent to pay.

Maison Martin Margiela, I think this is from there. How lovely is this dress?

Jane Edden @ Flowers Gallery I saw little on Cork street that rocked my boat except this, I would if I were less obsessed with all knitwear that is grey have bought this. I loved her work and this piece was my favourite, simple, but beautifully executed.
I then went to see The Taylor Wessing Prize on at the NPG. Brilliant Go see.
My batteries are charged. I had the dullest weekend you could imagine and I could not have enjoyed it more if you had wrapped it in marzipan. Perfect. My last for a while however. Coming up a weekend of theatre and dining. The following weekend York and then Cyprus. Oh my middle name is globetrotter!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

More ideas for the scrap book of style*

LOVE this silhouette from Filippa K. I fist saw this store in Stockholm, I love the clothes but only one place stocks a very limited selection in London. What is particularly inspired is she also has a shop that sell second hand clothes from past years. I would love a COS version too, often I have regretted missing something the following year and the chance to pick up a piece later would be great. EBay without the stress.

and this reminded me that I failed in my quest to find 'that' camel coat.
* I have a scrapbook full of bits of inspiration I find like this on the Internet, often it is how you put pieces together that is important, as frequently I already own the individual bits. Like above you can see a knitted hoody, only this image has it belted which I might try next time. The top image however reminds me that we all need a nice tailored white shirt which on it's own would make me feel like a waiter but layered under a cropped cardie it would look great.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Thursday, 26 November 2009

But getting fuller by the minute

PLEASE watch this silly trailer, film looks dodgy, but was not a good idea to watch it with a room full of students!

A cup half empty

Sometimes, not often, but every now and again I get the urge to tell my class that they are a useless bunch of lazy halfwits, I want to scream at them, they are so unbelievably obtuse. I then want to walk out, just walk and walk. I did that once, a couple of years after I began teaching (the walking bit not the screaming bit!) I was walking to Blackheath station to get the train to work and I walked right past and carried on walking for hours. Sometimes teaching can be very claustrophobic, especially when teaching the younger students. I could NEVER be a primary school teacher how do they do it?
As teachers we have no choices about what we do during the day, we HAVE to be in the same place at the same time, hamstrung by the demands of a timetable. YES we have the bloody holidays, the same ones every year, no flexibility what so ever. The whole education system stinks from top to bottom, why can't schools stay open all year round and rotate staff and students? Why do we all walk on the same treadmill?

Time for a day in town I think to refresh my batteries.
I am once again snowed under with marking and target setting, as well as having to stay at work late for various meetings. I should be looking forward to a life of wandering around Europe sleeping in swanky hotels, instead I am struggling to come up with what to take to live in a soulless concrete box in a village miles from civilization. The weather seems to be wet and with very cold nights. The house is unheated and has solar panels to provide hot water, which sans much sunshine means cold showers all round. We will be bunking up with his sister and niece too, oh what larks.

We were back in A&E on Monday night, I started to wonder if I had Munchhausens by proxy syndrome. In fact Leyla had had a severe allergic reaction to Penicillin, and so had to change her medication. It was so bad she even had spots on the palms of her hands! I swaddled her in calamine lotion soaked cotton wool and gave her porridge baths, she was back at school by Wednesday. She is over the moon that she can now tick a box on a medical form. 'Yes I am allergic to.... '

Normal service will resume next week...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it

So says Confucius.
I confess I am a very judgmental person, I look, I asses, I inwardly evaluate. I will fill in the lives of others constructing a tower of stories to fill in the gaps of knowledge I lack.
In my late 20's I had a bit of an epiphany moment, I was on a school trip with a number of staff who I would ordinarily have dismissed within in a couple of seconds as not really worth giving the time of day. I was and can be quite clique, not an attractive habit but one difficult to shake.
During the trip we had to perform numerous outdoor and indoor activities and two incidents stick in my mind.
The first was a woman who was very intelligent but geeky with whom I held no common ground with, she almost ran up a rock face I could no more have successfully ascended if I had sprouted wings.
The second was one of those slightly pious teachers a bit frumpy and a little dull, one night during a sing song I realised she had the voice of an Angel. I grew up a little that week when I realised that we all have strengths, sometimes just not obvious ones, but I do try very hard to see some good in everyone.
Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule, but not many.

This brings me to the story of Angel, she sat in a cot opposite Leyla, I had thought by the amount of stuff she was surrounded by that she had been their a while. Later when we asked it transpired she had arrived that morning, her mother went to fetch some things and then she went. from 3pm-middle of the night Angel was on her own*. At first I did what all sanctimonious mothers do, I tutted, judged the table of junk food next to her cot and made endless suppositions about her abandoned status.
Angel it should be said was stunning, she had the blackest, most beautiful skin I have ever seen, she sat the entire time and played in her cot, dancing to music, dressing herself and grabbing all the goodies from the table. Even Emin was mesmerised by her ability to occupy herself, something mine have always struggled to do.
I worked out she was not quite 2 years old. Angel's one anomaly was she hated being held. Really, really hated it, nor did she want to drink milk or eat food other than Pringles or Starburst. Leyla loved playing with her but I drew conclusion after conclusion. Then I thought, hang on, what if her mother had a genuine reason to leave her so long. She was clearly well cared for, beautifully dressed, maybe her mother too had to be admitted, maybe she did not have the support of any friends or family, who was I to judge?

I will leave you with something that made us all laugh. When I asked the nurse trying to feed her why Angel had been admitted she shrugged and said she did not know, Leyla piped up, "it's because she's nuts" We both did a double take. Then Leyla pointed to Angels bracelet, "look. see? It says it here on her braclet she's nuts" The nurse explained to Leyla that it meant she was allergic to nuts!

* Leyla woke me later after midnight to tell me Angel had gone, vanished, we did not even get to say goodbye.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Yet another 48 hours of my life I will never see again

I am beginning to ache for the dull normality of a normal weekend, the kind when you clean the toilet and go to the gym. This one started badly because the kitchen drain was blocked and guess who always gets to stick her hand down that to clear it? Oh yes, I get all the best jobs in this house. I was dressed for the gym which I would normally visit after frog marching the dog around the park.
After the gym comes shopping and cooking then somewhat reluctantly some cleaning as well as dealing with the Eiger sized pile of washing. Meanwhile Leyla goes to Turkish school. Only this morning a lump in Leyla's groin had swelled becoming so inflamed she had trouble walking. So we did what all good parents do..Yep we Googled it. We self diagnosed a hernia, we phoned the Dr who told us to go to A&E and we then debated the merits of going private or risking NHS. We plumped for the later using our old address to get into Lewisham, which lacks the glamour but has a brilliant children's A&E.
So of course we were wrong, it was not a hernia, but after several hours, one ultrasound scan and three consultants later it was diagnosed as swollen lymph glands caused by a severe viral infection. Even then I thought we would poddle off to pick up a prescription, but no, the shock at discovering that whilst she looked superficially chirpy, she was in fact very ill, and so she was admitted into hospital for some 'aggressive' medication.
I cried. She has dined out on that one all weekend. Plus, for a child deprived of TV most days this to Leyla was a holiday camp!

For me, the mother, it was purgatory. I luckily had a book with me, Emin went and got me a toothbrush and a takeaway and then I slept on a fold away bed, well dozed sporadically through a cacophony of bleeps and cries and wails of the various other patients. After a poor start she began to respond well to treatment and hallelujah we were out by Sunday afternoon.
Which is when I finally got to go shopping, cook, clean, walk the dog, pick the girls up from their dads, write a history essay for Kitty and finally have a bath.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Claudius Schulze

These images are so utterly evocative, I almost want to return.
They are by Claudius Schulze, he also has a very interesting blog
The images are so different to what I would do and see he has a much broader viewpoint but I do think it helps being a man though, I think it makes it easier to interact with the men, especially.

Bruce Wrighton

Every now and again I see some images that make my heart leap with delight, this series by Bruce Wrighton are just such images. I love the rich saturated colours, the tight compositions. Brilliant, yet tragic in that he dies so young, more from Laurence Miller Gallery

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Christmas time again

Sreepur Cards

I was going to urge you to buy these beautiful cards for Christmas, but they are sold out. Maybe next year. What an amazing set up though, I would have bought the cards just to frame them for myself.
I always make my own cards and am trawling for ideas as we write, luckily I have pared my card list to the bone so I only have to make around 20.
My present list is pretty minimal too, as I go away I tend to only give to those I see i.e, colleagues in my department and close family. This year is as follows;
  • Daisy, tickets to see an Inspector Calls plus a meal out
  • Kitty, trip to Lille Christmas market plus spending money.
  • Lucy, tickets to see The Priory at The Royal Court, plus lunch in the wonderful cafe below.
  • Mother, I have bought some fair trade beads from Africa to make her a necklace, plus hopefully a small still life painting.
  • Julia, she is a tough one, she does have an Amazon wish list cluttered full of some of the worst DVD's you could ever hope to find at the bottom of a jumble sale box of left overs. The list is sprinkled liberally with books from her other two passions in life, witchcraft and cooking roadkill* I did try to locate a book that would maybe combine these skills something like 'How to spit roast the local witch' or 'pickling toads and broom sticks' sadly such a book is still waiting to be written. Last year I ended up buying her daughter a very generous voucher to a gruesome Goth shop on Goodramgate, when I presented it Julia's bottom lip quivered and she actually asked where her present was, so this year sod it I will buy them both a crate of local Meade!
Daisy and Kitty had initially opted for a new phone and an iPod respectively, I told them to smile sweetly at their father who told me only a few weeks ago that he was broke and was saving to buy a house and a car. Two weeks later I discover he has high tailed it to Vietnam on tour with his friend. bear in mind he has just spent a month on honeymoon in Australia and you will see why I sent them in his direction. It is his job to spend the big bucks, if he has any left!
*Julia is really brilliant at making edible the stuff from hedgerows and fields. Clear jelly's and various cordials are her speciality. She is also a BIG fan of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall having been to two of his teaching days at River Cottage

Friday, 20 November 2009

Jean Francois Rauzier

This show is about to open at Waterhouse & Dodd, it looks stunning. I love the setting and the style is not dissimilar to the Jane and Louise Wilson image I saw at Frieze, which also had that hyperealist feel to it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A week in the life of food

I take the train to work every day which gives me time to read The Guardian. I love skimming through the articles in a way I could not do on the web. However I was left speechless by this trite piece of crap, which despite the papers mantra, smacks just a little too much of the incoherent babbling of a self satisfied middle class white boy, so far removed from reality it defies belief that this paper pays his wages.
If ANYONE needs to write this article it should be a parent, (the one that cooks when they get in from work) because we all know that you could never substitute a shepherds pie with kedgeree! seriously my children can detect an undercooked onion before the fork hits the mouth let alone swapping beef for smoked haddock! Despite all three having the same upbringing they all have very, very different tastes. A more useful article would be ' how to feed three children the same food without cooking three separate meals'.
I am also hamstrung by the following;
  • No cooking with alcohol.
  • No pork of ANY kind.
  • No mince.
  • The au-pair using the last of any ingredient I planned to use that night ( I know you will not sympathise with that one but she is a serious pain in the butt and her food inedible)
Now read his suggestions again and you will see why I would like to punch him.
The reason I work with a very narrow repertoire of dishes is
a) they work
b) they are quick
c) they can be adapted.

Monday: Leftovers from Sunday roast re heated in gravy and poured into a large Yorkshire pudding.
Tuesday: Chicken curry, (although Leyla will not eat this, I can adapt it by leaving off the sauce and doing it with egg fried rice)
Wednesday: Burgers made with homemade chopped beef mixed with fried onion breadcrumbs and an egg. If they are really lucky now the oven is fixed I may serve them with oven chips!
Thursday: Homemade pizza made with a packet bread mix, this is easy because you can adapt the toppings, with a prevailing wind I have been known to get away with tuna and sweetcorn.
Friday: either a ready meal, or if that option has been used up then the easiest stop gap is pasta. I fry an onion with garlic then blend them into a tin of tomatoes and mix that into the pasta with a couple of spoons of marscapone cheese.
Snacks include eggy ,scrambled egg on toast or fried egg on toast. Kitty is addicted to Super Noodles which she is allowed once a fortnight!
Weekend, I am FREE, because they go to their nans/dads and GORGE on all things piggy.
Leyla then eats her favourite food in the world, and it is surprisingly delicious, jacket potato cooked in the microwave and then peeled and mashed with butter with cold tuna and sweetcorn mayonnaise folded in. Don't knock it till you've tried it!
Emin likes my seafood pasta, and I do a mean one pan roast, which gets us through the weekend.
Last night I pushed the boat out and made spag' bol' from scratch.
I have tried other foods but get short shrift from the kids.
So you see Mr Fort, we stick to what we know because it works, so shove it.

Talking of food, if you have made it this far, I am in complete awe of Simply Breakfast
I eat the same breakfast everyday, seriously for 5 days I wrap in a paper towel 2 toasted teacakes smothered in butter and eat them cold, washed down with a coffee. How on earth she conjures up such a range of different breakfasts is a source of wonderment to me. I guess time is one factor. Between 6am and 7am I prepare two packed lunches and 3 breakfasts before running upstairs to get ready in 15 mins. but I am pretty sure even with the whole morning stretching ahead I would revert to type and just eat them hot instead!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The view from here

Driving to Crawley for Leyla's competition we passed through some amazing sky's as dawn broke. We have to be there for 8am despite the fact they do not fight until after 11am.

After Friday's storms the trees are nearly stripped naked now.

I am a very happy passenger, I am very lazy and prefer to let others drive, I find driving quite stressful especially in London where everyone seems to want to be somewhere yesterday. My sister says I drive like an old lady and frankly I am happy to be that way.
I learnt to drive very late. It was only after having Kitty that I could not face using public transport with two children under the age of 3. I do not think it is much easier now, but then you had to collapse the buggy, which when you are trying to coax a recalcitrant 3 year old to behave plus grapple with the greasy maggot that was Kitty getting on a bus was way too stressful. So I bit the bullet and passed my test. From day one I felt like I was driving a loaded weapon, I always expect the worst, but despite a prang or two my few years behind the wheel have been uneventful.
I did for the first few years drive around England a lot. I hate being in the house and loved the freedom of the open road, I would take Daisy and Kitty to the seaside or for walks in the country. Now petrol is too expensive and I can no longer afford a car. but sometimes it is nice to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, 16 November 2009

What I wore in the rain today

As you can see I am as snug as a bug!

Finally I am warm

I know talking about the weather makes me sound like my mother, but hey if the cap fits... 5inches of bloody rain meant I just had to have.. This coat. Thank GOD for Uniqlo I had lent my rain proof +J coat to daisy and then went to Bromley to finally pick up my boots. The cobbler had done an amazing job, buoyed up by this I spent £50 on the dog, a rain coat a fleece and a new lead. he has chewed up 2 so far. What is it with dogs and their need to chew all but the toys they are given?

So too scared to ruin my wool coat I wore my mac, it was FREEZING and very wet, we went into Uniqlo to buy his niece a fleece, I saw this and worried I might look like this but my fears were unfounded, even Emin gave it the thumbs up, and so I have lived through the weekend toasty and warm. Walking the dog in his smart new coat is a pleasure....a very warm one for now.
Spent Sunday watching Leyla fight at a Taekwondo competition, she came second, yeah, she has finally cracked it I think. I 'filmed' it.. not. I actually must have not pressed the right button and so all we have is a brief snippet and then nothing. Guess who is in the dog house?
I took an amazing book to read to stave off the boredom and take my mind of the thrashing she was going to get. It is not pleasant watching your own child fight, other children are quite amusing especially the very small boys, but it is a very aggressive sport, with a LOT of casualties.
The book is called Seven Days In The Art World. a brilliant read, I am half way through and will be regaling you with snippets for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Wish List

I have only just cleared my last wish list and now it is rapidly filling up again. One of the people that showed us around the flats in Berlin remarked that when in London he fell in love with all the bookshops. I was surprised, as there seemed to be plenty in Berlin, especially art book shops in the galleries.
I have often envied anyone who lives in America, Photo-eye is a classic example of all that is good about books available in America, luckily some seem available here too and so... this one will probably be bought fairly soon

This one sadly will not, it is a lovely book with some beautifully evocative images. I must thank What Possessed me for finding this artist.

I covet the classics too, like this beautiful book on Sudek's still life photography.

I have been a huge fan of Bert Teunissen's work in the past and this book really resonated with me. Not dissimilar to some of my images, it has helped me realise that I need to find my creative MoJo.

Last but by no means least, I covet this book A LOT. The Guardian is currently running a photography supplement in sequential order of each decade. I had no idea these images were taken such a long time ago. You have to hand it to Sander, they look far more contemporary than date they were taken.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Baby sister, the gift that just keeps on giving

Image from here

We may live in the same town but we do not see a huge amount of each other. Lucy is young free and single devoid of all that weighs me down. I sometimes think that she see's the compromises I have made throughout my rather chequered life and she thinks nope not for love. Not worth it.

Instead she has despite a shockingly poor start to her education clawed her way up the food chain to what I think is a pretty brilliant job. Now she is replete with an MA and a career that allows her to dine overlooking the bay of Monte Carlo.

My baby sister has always been wiser than her years, frequently mistaken for my older sister, which was a reflection of my juvenile behaviour rather than our looks. She stands 6 feet tall, a natural strawberry blond and a rather chunky size 18. She can be mean with words but generous to a fault with her time and money. My sister once spent a month sourcing tickets for an FA cup semi final that I desperatly wnated to see, it fell on my birthday and she not only found them but booked us into a hotel and drove us to Manchester to see it.
Through her dogged persistence she has allowed me to see Muse play live not once but soon to be three times. This may seem a small achievement, but tickets are like gold dust and frequently exchange hands for £300+. It would have been as cheap for us to fly to Spain to see them for what she paid, but she has and we will, tomorrow night float on a cloud of ecstatic jubilation at the O2 arena. In return I string her up a few beads and pick the phone up at 2am to help her find the lost passport she will need in 4 hours time for a business trip with her boss!

Monday, 9 November 2009

These are a selection of my favourite images currently on show at The National Portrait Gallery. They are some of the winners from the Taylor Wessing Prize, which will forever be known as the Kobal prize to me.
I have always enjoyed this exhibition, it is neither too showy nor does it try to be too clever. The above images are a fairly staple diet for the entrants, I have had to print screen to get hence the smallness, if you click on the image I am sure you will see it large enough to see the artist's name too.

these two images however are a more recent departure. I suspect they were always there, just not short listed.
I really am starting to love this genre of photography,and even more pleased that this whole genre is still alive and kicking. I thought it was not allowed that you could take random images of the public, but a student has tracked down a copy of the privacy law and it seems you are, as long as you take the photograph in a public place.
So long live the candid shot.

That was the weekend that was

Saturday we plunged into the sulphurs fug that descends upon London at this time each year to celebrate the metaphysical burning of Catholics, well OK, not ALL Catholics per se, but Guy Fawkes.
Every single Au-pair we have had furrows her brow trying to understand the phenomena that is Bonfire Night. They never do, but it was really rather brilliant this year.
Even princess I'm Bored seemed to enjoy the fireworks which we always go and see on Blackheath.
Previously I managed to schlep all the way to Bromley by bus and then forget to get the two things I went for. One of which was my boot that the bloody dog had chewed the zip of and my magician cobbler has fixed. Curiously poetic justice was deliciously served since I then forgot to buy his coat from the pet shop. The dog is semi hairless, neither pretty or particularly useful at this time of year. trust me it is bloody freezing, frost on the ground etc etc.. Yes yes yes before you all report me I WILL go and get him a coat next week.
I was sidetracked by Little Sister who took me to Bluewater. I used to love a visit there, but it lacks my favourite shops, so now it is a trial. I did buy a fab stripy pair of tights in John Lewis and having been shocked at the rather hideous colour of my current lipstick appears to be in the cold light of a November morning I bought a new one MAC Naked Paris. I'm still waiting!
My second attempt at getting a passport past the first hurdle of the miserable beasts in the Post Office FAILED again. I am on my third attempt tonight!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Love and hate Berlin

One for my wish list
and this book is on my wish list too.

And this book I have ordered

What I love about Berlin

  • The space, Berlin has a population of just over 3 million in a space not much smaller than London that houses over 8 million.
  • The trees, they are everywhere.
  • The vistas, they do a fabulous one point perspective vista.
  • The history, every street has a story and you are never more than a stone throw from an iconic piece of architecture
  • The Hamburg Hofbahnhof, one of the most excitingly curated art galleries in the world
  • The footwear, every shop sell such beautiful footwear Think! Birkenstock, I love how sensible/comfortable everything is.
  • The coats, oh such beautifully cut coats they mix them up with their boots to perfection.
  • Vapiano They have branches all over the place but I have only been to the ones in Berlin, it is such a lovely venue, cheap and easy to use.
  • Fantastic train links, truly their infrastructure is a marvel

What I hate about Berlin

  • The smell, they have sewer covers with ventilation holes, THE SMELL is horrible.
  • The exchange rate, OK that is not quite their fault but it is a real pain.
  • The bloody aggressive cyclists.
  • That I have never been there on my own, yes I KNOW that is not their fault either.

So you see what is not to love. I would LOVE to spend a couple of days there on my own just to get a feel of the gallery scene. I know where most small galleries are in London but just have not got a handle on where they are in Berlin.

It will be a while before I return so instead will live vicariously through literature instead.

If you have a moment this weekend to spare please check out this amazing Flickr site. Truly inspirational. The link is to my favourite image which I found by getting involved in this excellently curated Flickr Pool, which of course I am contributing to.

I wanted SO much to see this, but I am bogged down at work and I now have to queue AGAIN to try and send off Kitty's passport, which is akin to a blood sport in this country.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Moving on

Well not literally of course, but having unburdened myself in that last post I want to bury it.

I have spent most of today creating a new 'note book' I love spiral bound books to write and draw in, I wish someone out there could spiral bind a ream of recycled paper A5 and sell them, that would be my ideal. Instead Daisy came home with a bag of freebies from visiting a local hospital's pathology lab. Of the many items of junk was a cheap spiral pad that I have customised, much like I did at college. I hate starting a new book both scrap. sketch or note. What I do is take out some pages from the previous one and stick them in the new one that we it does not feel so new, so precious.
I have also done some drawing today This like threading beads is so therapeutic, I love it.

I did buy in Berlin the most beautiful spoon made of horn. There was a whole stall selling spoons and various items of jewellery all made of horn, it was gorgeous, I have been drawing the spoon too, which like 'what I wore today', I find strangely compelling.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Berlin: the gift that just keeps on giving


Yes, I have a stinking head cold, 6 days of schlepping round the streets of an increasingly wet, windy and very cold city took their toll. I should of course hunker down with hot chicken soup and a hot water bottle. But I live with 'he who does not care' (yes that IS the worlds smallest violin you can hear) So it is easier to drink the undrinkable (Lemsip) and soldier on. That includes the dogs late night walk and the early morning 'lets mop up the dog piss' ritual.

Am pissed off? Yes, very. To be fair Emin paid for me to stay in the lap of luxury, it is my own fault that I am clearly ungrateful, I hate sleeping in an air tight overheated box with no way of cooling down. If you opened a window the noise of the traffic would deafen you, if you closed it you were hermetically sealed in hell. No of course we are NOT allowed the air con on , that would be a waste! never mind the air miles.
I felt really crap before we even went. I had to endure a raft of meetings on the Friday, none of them good. I was very tired and really wanted to rest. 6 days of walking for miles is not conducive to unwinding. I am shattered. Best of all not one second did I spend by myself. Emin had whole days where he walked off and did his own thing. As I intimated earlier Leyla was generally great but only as long as you danced to her tune. Yes, I know I chose to have kids. Yes I know I should be grateful, but sometimes it can get very claustrophobic. I longed to just sit and write for an hour or draw a 'what i wore today' outfit but I am so weird in that I have to be on my own or just with the girls. I cannot work near him as he just keeps asking "what are you doing?" Then commenting "what a waste of time" "what is the point of doing that?" On and on until you just give up, it was easier to read.

I hated leaving the other two behind, when he asked if I wanted to go I said no, primarily because as always I am broke. but also I was leaving the girls for the entire Christmas holiday I was not keen to leave them at half term as well. Churlish I know.
So as it was booked I went with an open mind and a positive attitude, only my body just kept emitting weary sighs, and so I 'apparently' came across as very negative. I was not wholly aware this was so, but yes, I had PMT and yes, when my period started I ached to stay close to a bathroom. It saps the very strength out of me. By Thursday afternoon he had had enough. The crime? I wanted to find a toilet and so he walked off leaving me to find my way back sans a map or any money. I was apparently
  • Miserable
  • Moody
  • Moaning
  • Uncooperative
  • Sullen
  • Sour faced
  • Lacking a positive attitude
Oh and "he had paid for me....."
and on top of that, shock horror, I had expressed a desire to travel a little when I retired rather than sit holed up in a studio flat with him. He took every single opportunity to throw that one back in my face.
So having watched him march off leaving me with Leyla I found a couple of Euros in the bottom of my bag and just kept getting on trains until I got back to the hotel.

This was after I had patiently looked around various flats on Monday, as well as walking for miles looking around, I will admit that on arrival on the Sunday I failed to respond to his suggestion that we look around the area we were going to see the next day, but I was tired and hungry and as it turned out we did anyway. But once again I did it with a 'negative attitude' I sat through meetings with the estate agent and the bank, asking pertinent questions. I had made lots of positive noises and felt I had discussed in a positive and upbeat manner all that he wanted to discuss.
I asked that I could go to a gallery on the Wednesday I could as long as I had Leyla as he wanted to "get things done and she does not walk fast enough" I looked after her Wednesday the rest of Thursday and Friday. He then made facetious remarks about me having to stay close to toilets enquired as to whether I needed the hospital, on and on like a dripping tap of bullying.

We then spent Saturday together relatively mute aside from his usual bitchy snide comments, I finally caught a cold. (I wish to God our relationship had caught a cold before Leyla was born!) Oops did I say that aloud.
It is pointless trying to suggest a way out, we are financially inextricably linked unless I want to leave with nothing. I stay to create a half was comfortable environment for the girls. I realise that I am not in any way helping to reinforce a positive model for a relationship, but right now I am exhausted. The yo yo of his emotions is so hard to live with but I lack the strength to go.

Don't get me wrong about Berlin. I would love to live there and especially it would be an amazing place to work, it is a huge city with a tiny population, it still feels very young, always changing and very relaxed. It has none of the polish of Paris or the rich glow of New York or the frenetic charge of London, but that is what makes it so good. What depresses me, is that when I am feeling so bloody miserable my creative MoJo pack up it's bags and that to me was the worst part. I wanted to take photographs but the heart was heavy so I gave up.

Back home I am sleeping much better and I will feel better by next week. I am slowly getting back on top of the new pile of paper work thrown my way and eventually life will revert back to the same old routine.
It is funny though, as I walked the dog the other night, I as always peered through the windows trying to imagine the life of others, when I saw two couples seated on a sofa chatting, laughing. They had probably had Sunday lunch together. My stomach churned I thought that would be me by now. Not the car crash of a lifestyle I have ended up with.

Monday, 2 November 2009


Here we are again....

I am back from the brink. This is the first time I have been away at half term and so rather than coming back to work refreshed I am emotionally and physically knackered. But before the purge must come the images.

Gerd Rohling as seen at the Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum. I loved the way he lit the disparate groups of glass to create the most vibrant reflections.

Hans-Peter Feldman too was brilliant he created the most wonderful kinetic shadows from the flotsam and jetsam we find at the bottom of a child's toy box. This is why this Gallery is one of my favourites. Every time I visit I get challenged and inspired. The gallery is HUGE and can take all day to really see it, I of course was accompanied by the delightful Leyla who kept that notion in check. I would say though that her score overall this holiday was 8.5/10. Very impressive and I hope an improvement she can sustain.

This is the refurbished cafe in the gallery. It ticks every one of my favourite interior design boxes. The use of reclaimed office furniture, the deep red walls, the wood panelling and tiled floor. Behind where I was sitting was a wall of books and journals, I could have sat here all day. Sadly I was not hungry as the cake selection was awesome, weirs I know as a child I would have forced down a cake just for the taste, but having done up the top button of a previously very tight pair of trousers I tried hard to abstain from over indulgence.

Below is The Holocaust memorial. A very powerful tribute.

The photograph below was taken from our hotel balcony. We had a superb view over Alexanderplatz, but that block of flat you can see may look a bit grim but I promise you the view they have is stunning. I would love to live there, when you look up you can see the most wonderful book lined apartments and it is right in the center too.

The corner of Sredzkistrasse, you could almost be in Paris don't you think? A really lovely corner of Berlin colonised by the intellectual classes, it was originally in East Berlin and has a wonderful mix of old and new style apartments, very expensive now though.

MilkBerlin What a fabulous shop, you go in and customise your own bag. They are very popular, primarily because everyone here seems to cycle. They are sadly very aggressive cyclists and brook no pedestrian in their wake. I was dodging them on pavements, roads and bloody cycle paths which have appeared everywhere. Seriously I am all for it if only they could be a bit more tolerant of disorientated tourists. I saw one cyclist literally 'take out' two Italians!

This image of the Berlin Dom is so evocative. I had no idea Berlin was so green. Well not now as the leaves were falling, but because I have only ever been during the cold winter months I was not aware of the amazing proliferation of trees. They are everywhere and at this time of year look absolutely stunning.

I love the path through the government offices down by the river Spree.

The iconic tower, from our balcony a cliche but I love it.
All the gossip tomorrow!