Many Faces

One of my favourite places in London is just round the corner from one of the city's most famous sites, Trafalgar Square. The entrance to the National Portrait Gallery is much more discreet than that of its big sister, the National Gallery that faces grandly onto the square, and it has a more personal feeling to it; although well frequented, it's seems far less touristy.

What I love most is wandering around the galleries, with the faces of people from throughout time gazing down, admiring them back but really absorbing their life stories and what they experience and went through. It's the same when I read magazines; I am fascinated by the stories of people's lives, whether famous or less well known, how they got to where they are today.

The NPG has the Faces of Britain exhibition spotted around the gallery, which is accompanied by a TV programme by Simon Schama. If you also love portraiture, it's a great insight into the stories behind the works of art, picking up on elements that you might not have seen at face value, and exploring the themes of Love, Fame, Power, People and Self-Portraits.

Since freeing myself from studies, I really want to get back into painting again. During art at school, the people around me were my subjects, my A level portrait of brother Dowle is testament to that and endless sketches of friends in the common room. But it's not only a portrayal of the human form but who the person is. The mixed media portrait of my Nanna didn't go down too well as the crinkled textures highlighted what I saw and what she didn't want to see: old age.

So it's time to get the easel out, me thinks, I've got an idea of my first victim... so watch this space!!


Fifteen Flowers

Keeping up with this journal of mine has taken a backseat for most of 2015. It has been quite a year, for many reasons good and bad, but I have still been keeping up with snapping away images from everyday life and posting on good ol' Instagram. Here is a selection of fifteen flowers, from gift bouquets to those in our garden, flora in London squares to fields of lavender, from artwork to textiles. From now on, there'll be more of my photos and what I've been getting up to, so stayed tuned!


Twelve Things: November's Bread

One of my favourite things about travelling is eating the local cuisine and back in 2011 I got a taste for the delicacies of Israel. One thing I can't get out of my mind is the aubergine starter from Puaa, the vintage-styled cafe in Jaffa flea market. I was so excited to receive Jerusalem by Yotam Ottelenghi from Lauren for my birthday, full of delicious recipes to try and stories about the history of food from this polemic part of the world.

The first thing I wanted to have a go at was the krantz cake or babka. My attempts at bread in the past  haven't been 100% successful but I thought I'd give it a try. The sweet dough was prepared the night before and left to rise in the fridge overnight. To my delight it had risen, so I got on with preparing the chocolate sauce for the middle. After spreading it across the rolled out dough, you roll it up, slice it down the middle (serrated edged knives really help), plait the two pieces over and place in a loaf tin ready to rise some more, before baking. I must admit I was super pleased with how it turned out, and I think those who tasted it were pretty happy too. Definitely one to give a go, and once my Christmas present of a KitchenAid arrives, there'll be no stopping me!

PS. Don't you think Lottie, the local cat who liked to pop by and sleep on our chair, matches the krantz cake?!


Neues Museum

One of the highlights of our trip to Berlin was visiting the Neues Museum, which reopened five years ago following its renovation by David Chipperfield Architects. The museum had suffered substantial bomb damage during the war and had sat untouched until the 80s. The architectural intervention is possibly the most beautiful and well done I have seen, the way the old meets new has been sensitively and cleverly done and the detailing is incredible. I only hope my photos do it justice. I think we're really lucky in the UK that our museums are free for all to enter, but the entrance fee to see the building and fascinating Pre and Early-History exhibits, including the sculpture of Nefertiti, is well worth it. A must visit if you're in Berlin.


Brrrr in Berlin

It had been six years since my last trip to Berlin, and this one was to celebrate a few milestones: Dan's big 3-0, his becoming an architect, and us putting up with each other for the past 3 years! We arrived on a Thursday lunchtime to the realisation that minus temperatures had also just turned up too. Never to be put off by bitter winds we started a jam packed weekend of tourism: warming up with Gluhwein at the Christmas markets in Gendarmenmarkt and Charlottenburg Schloss, brunch in the rotating restaurant of the Fernsehturm, winding our way up the Reichstag dome, visiting the Checkpoint Charlie museum, exploring the tombs of the Holocaust Memorial, checking out the stall at the Mauerpark flea market, walking along the wall and seeing the great architecture and exhibits of the Neues Museum. It's incredible to believe that the history of this city is still so young and from what we hear it's an ambitious city where people think you can do anything.


Twelve Things: October's Cardigan

On the announcement of a little person joining the family, it was the perfect opportunity to get my knitting needles out and make a tiny item of clothing. I bought Rowan's Just Baby book, which has some gorgeous, modern patterns, and I was particularly enamoured by the cardigan on the front cover. Perhaps a bit advanced for my current skills, I loved the yarn colour so picked a moss stitch cardi and got started. Over the next couple of months I worked through the different pieces of the garment and by October I was near completion with an age deadline to meet too - these babies do grow fast! Even though it's a small piece of clothing, I've learned a lot about putting the pieces together and the importance of taking time in making up the garment. After all the effort, I was so pleased with how the cardigan turned out with the four, cute buttons and rolled up sleeves…plus little Penny looks great in it too.