McQueen

I went to see this documentary film last night;  its a wonderfully moving tribute to the designer – emotional and very interesting it follows the rise of the designer Alexander McQueen and proves what a creative inspirational mind he had.  I remember seeing the show ‘savage beauty’ and thinking how beautiful the clothes were, each one an art piece.   the film follows its thread through his collections, which are all art pieces – the stories, the themes – all show an eclectic brilliant mind.

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artist residence

I can’t believe that it was my first time to Oxford – of course I have stayed in numerous country hotels around the area, but it was the first time I had properly walked around the city.   we spent a night in the lovely pub/hotel ‘artist residence’, just outside of Oxford.  it really is a break, as there is nothing in the village, but the stable room that we had was lovely and airy and very comfortable and dinner very good and not over expensive.   apparently there are sister hotels in Brighton, Penzance and Pimlico.

we booked tickets at the Ashmolean Museum to see the America’s cool modernism exhibition- what a lovely museum.  if you don’t see the main exhibition, its actually free to get in, and there is a lovely collection of Japanese and Chinese art and pottery.  we ate lunch in the rooftop restaurant – very good quality and again affordable.  nice if you can book a terrace table in the warm weather.  another friend had recommended Turl street kitchen, but it was very busy, so you probably need to reserve in advance.

there are a lot of the brands that you see on all high streets, but there are also a few independent shops.  I loved the shop ‘objects of use’, selling lovely stationary, homewares and gifts – a bit like labour and wait and choosing keeping on Columbia road.

sometimes just one night away in a hotel is all you need to rejuvenate not only yourself, but I do feel its great for your marriage – there is definitely something romantic about staying in nice hotels by yourself.

Japanese restaurants

its funny, you ask my girls where they want to go for birthday dinner and Japanese always comes up high. so i am always on the look out for japanese restaurants;  i asked my japanese girlfriend for her tips, she came up with a few that i didnt know about.  yuki has brilliant taste, hates to waste money, so i would take her recommendations really seriously.

there is the famous noodle place in Frith Street called KOYA –  great noodles and casual but a nice environment and unfortunately very popular, so you have to queue, or go early as they dont take any bookings.

a very good but upmarket  one is called DINING. the chef used to work at NOBU and food is modern clean Japanese, bit of fusion, but i think its very expensive and only for special occasions.  haven’t managed to get there myself.
another nice one that is typical japanese is Cocoro which is pleasant and moderately priced – again this is on my list to visit.
from my own experience, kulu kulu is a real japanese version of yo sushi – authentic, great tasting sushi that goes round on a conveyor belt, and inexpensive.  its a lunchtime or quick eating place, rather than a sit down entertaining meal.  i love it though – you can be in and out in half an hour. shimogano is a decent traditional japanese restaurant in camden – look out for the special lunch each day which offers good value.  jin kichi in hampstead is also a restaurant that is consistently good.

yuki introduced me to another Japanese restaurant – okan in brixton village – with its unusal speciality of Japanese pancake – think tortilla/frittata it was a pleasant change to the usual Japanese food. The crispy tofu salad was delicious.  they also have a ramen restaurant on coldharbour lane, which is very tasty.

my all time favourite for taste and value is asakusa, which happens to be round the corner from where i live – its not modern, or posh, nor atmospheric,  just typical japanese cafe with outdated interior, but the food is usually very good.  try and ask for a table upstairs if you reserve – the sushi can take a while as they are always busy, but it is worth waiting for.   it is also very inexpensive and you will always see japanese families there.

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scissors

if you are looking for a great unusual gift for that person who seems to have everything, then go to the japanese knife shop in baker street, W1.  it has an amazing display of knives for every occasion – you can even have something special engraved on the knife of your choice!  however there is a saying that giving knives or scissors is a sign of severing your friendship, if you do receive a knife for a gift, you are supposed to return the thanks by sending a penny – in effect, you are purchasing your gift!  depends how superstitious you are!   badgers velvet also have a few beautiful fruit knives and vintage inspired utensils that make wonderful wedding gifts – in fact everything Ros makes is very individual and special.

ernest wright and son have been making scissors for over 100 years – how beautiful to own a lovely pair – there is something so classic about the design for scissors, and such essential items.  merchant and mills also have lovely scissors, in fact everything for the maker.

I just love browsing through kitchen shops, especially lovely ones.  My favourites are Summerhill and Bishop in Holland Park – a beautiful provence style kitchen shop but with a simple modern style, labour and wait – on Redchurch Street- a more utilitarian shop, quite retro and shaker like;  toast home –  lovely collection of hamman towels, ceramic tableware  and glasses;   Gill Wing in islington also has a wide range of  functional kitchen items.  pedlars – in Portobello and selfridges, again a lovely collection of vintage style kitchen and classic finds, and of course the wonderful Baileys Home Store in ross on wye.

 

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liverpool

its now a regular haunt – the Titanic hotel on its great dockside location – it was Elise’s birthday and her favourite choice of present.  so this week, i treated my friend elise for her birthday to a couple of  nights in her favourite hotel – the titanic in liverpool!  the roomiest, coolest hotel that i have ever been to in the UK.  its a short taxi ride from the tate gallery, but situated right on the docks and housed in a converted warehouse – one of many that line the once busy docks of liverpool.  you can always find a deal, check their website for advanced offers  – the spa is a heavenly treat too.  there is an amazing exhibition on at the moment of 2 of my favourite artists, Egon Sc hiele and Francesca Woodman.

take a stop to eat at ‘the quarter’ in the beautiful georgian area around hope street, whilst you walk the beautiful Georgian houses, wondering how chic and upmarket Liverpool must have been in the 18C.  and then a must see stop are the 2 opposing cathedrals – both architecturally amazing in their own right.  if you have time, take the 15 min drive to Crosby beach to see ‘another place’ by Antony Gormley – a series of life size cast iron figures set along the beach seemingly entering the sea.

 

thoughts

Mind is the master power that molds and makes,
And we are Mind, and evermore we take
The tool of thought, and shaping what we will,
Bring forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills,
We think in secret, and it comes to pass –
Our world is but our looking glass.
— James Allen

This short and inspiring poem contains a world of wisdom within its few short sentences. It serves as a powerful reminder or idea that we are what our thoughts made of. What we consistently and persist in thinking, be it good or bad, sooner or later our thoughts will manifest into reality.

I hope that this poem would encourage you in cultivating courageous, good and beautiful thoughts.