Monday, 27 February 2012

And so it begins...

Well, so begins the life of a diplomat's wife. Hipster Dufus has managed to get his first posting abroad to Moscow. The bad news is that I don't get to go with him (something about security and strict rules). The good news is that it is only a three month post, so we won't be apart for too long. While it's not quite to full experience of uprooting yourself to start life anew in a different country (well for me at least) it does highlight an issue that I have now. Hipster Dufus is always travelling for business and I often thank heavens for Paco our dog who's such great company. 

Three months will pass quickly but it can also be a long time, especially for newly-weds. The bright side I suppose is the opportunity to visit a part of the world that I might not have ever come across in my travels. And after all this is what this life is about, this is the choice we made, to boldly go where no... No seriously it's all part of the adventure.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Raising the bar

London is full of tapas. Now there's good, there's great and there's amazing. Then and maybe not even then, there's Barrafina. Hipster Dufus recently took me on a little treat, there's usually a queue anxiously anticipating the wonders offered up over the very small bar (no tables hence the queue). It's really settling being able to see the kitchen and the chefs at work. For one, there's the comforting knowledge that your food is safe, clean and tasty for all the right reasons (no rogue sneezes here), but most importantly it showcases the skill of these chefs who continuously manage to produce flawless food throughout the day.

Barrafina is a real treat, I'd advise going when you're feeling plush to experience it fully and take advantage of their specials (that can be rather pricey). But don't be fooled, this is fine dining without the pretence, it's much more of a relaxed experience with diners interacting with the chefs while draped over the bar. But there's something about this place, about the atmosphere that makes you think it's totally normal to hang out eating at a bar rather than sit at a table. Really, it all comes down to the food. Oh the food..

Sunday, 19 February 2012


It has been a very busy weekend, with lot's to talk about. I'll start with yet another gushing review of the British Music Experience. On Friday they yet again showcased their amazing public programme hosting a masterclass with Emeli Sandé. The event consisted of the usual desirable attributes delivered so often by the museum. An intimate venue with a capacity of only ninety.  An interview with the artist including a Q&A section at the end for the public. Most importantly some live music. 

Hearing an artist in such a small venue can really showcase their talent. In this case she proved to be very talented indeed, with a pitch perfect voice and highly skilled on the piano. She was such a lovely person too, well spoken, with lot's to say. Well done BME.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Progress of Civilisation

As a museum professional/geek I obviously have my favourites in London. And while most of the time I can name those really obscure and wonderful collections that no-one has heard of and everyone is interested in, without fail my heart always comes back to the British Museum. This is a wonderful museum, just the architecture itself is interesting enough let alone the treasures that it holds inside. The best thing about this museum is that no matter how many times you've been and how many things you've seen, there's always more yet to discover. Kind of like London really.

For me this happens often as I find myself back in the Parthenon galleries every visit. These beautiful marble pieces are exquisite. I love looking at them and we're so lucky to have them here. Note that I haven't called them the Elgin Marbles. Their residence here in the UK is much contested with even the Greek's building the Acropolis Museum equipped with their own Parthenon Gallery (complete with digital versions of the pieces here) to counteract the age-old argument that they were unable to care for the pieces.

Now I'm not completely sure that they got here in the most legitimate way possible (sorry BM...) however I also don't believe that they should go back to Greece (sorry Acropolis...). But let's face it, if they went back it would be the start of a worldwide scramble to gain back pieces in foreign collections. All countries have worldwide collections, the British Museum just happens to have one of the best, hence it garners so much attention. But rather than get embroiled in the politics of right and wrong one should remember the main point which is this: the collection is one of the best in the world, and it's here on our doorstep. If you haven't yet, go and have a look, it's truly amazing.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Let it snow

After something like an eighteen year absence of snow, we once again (for the a third year) had some snow in London. I like the snow, I think if it's going to be that cold, it may as well snow. At least that way we get something pretty to look at. Seeing the snowmen created is always fun. I don't like the inevitable slush that you get by the end of the day and even worse the the icy roads the day after.

But I do enjoy the way that the snow, just like the sunshine in London, brings everyone out in collective happiness for that one day. We are Londoners after all, and we're not really known for our friendliness... So just for that I say, let it snow.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Sound Choice in Fashion

I have already proclaimed my love of museums and my current delight is the British Music Experience. Yesterday they proved how amazing their public events are in both quality and educational value with the launch of the new student series, Sound Choice. Their very clued up/well connected public programmer Rebecca Ellis managed to get big names in the fashion world - including Wayne Hemingway and stylist Miss Jacqueline White - to talk to aspiring fashionistas. It didn't stop there, with a panel consisting of fashion creative Siobhan Lyons, fashion journalist Adam Welch, MTV music director Virginia Monaghan and creative producer Pigalle Tavakkoli.

This event proved two things. First, how amazing this museum is (if I haven't already said it enough). Second, how amazing museums are in general. This venue is working beyond the constraints of the stuffy institution with dead, irrelevant objects. It's bringing its collection to life by looking at a contemporary subject and using the collection as a platform to inform where inspiration comes from. For the BME it's important to explain the ideal behind the punk aesthetic, and what was happening in the UK at the time to influence it. The influence of culture in art is everywhere at the moment. It's no secret that these last two seasons in particular have taken inspiration from the amazing art around the world with collections like Rodarte, Jil Sander and Donna Karen to name a few... and where is all this art and culture held? Where is it stored? Why, museums and galleries of course.