new life

is it just me or has ‘call the midwife’ got even more emotional this series?  i have been in tears watching it and can’t believe that it was only 50 years ago that we had such harsh social stigmas.

i was lucky to photograph amelie and charlotte – less than a month old – beauty in life – a precious bonding moment that just grows stronger and stronger…..

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pancake tuesday

dont forget tomorrow is pancake tuesday!  shrove tuesday always falls the day before ash weds and is therefore the last day before the commencement of lent.  lent is a time of abstinence and penitence, when you give certain foods up, so pancakes are the last meal containing eggs, flour and butter, which were forbidden during lent.  nowadays few people fast, but the tradition of pancake tuesday does live on.  i have always used delia smiths classic recipe – foolproof, never goes into lumps and is delicious with lemon and sugar.

i have always tried in the past to give up wheat, sugar, red meat, but my willpower is not great – i now am a great believer that a little of everything is fine.

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secret gardens

we once stayed near Shepton Mallet  and discovered this beautiful historical secret garden, Kilver Court.    it was so tranquil,  a perfect place to just visit and enjoy the view.   we stayed at a lovely hotel, Ston Easton Park for the night, which was sheer luxury – beautifully furnished with antiques and set in beautiful grounds.    The area of Somerset was lovely to explore, a lunch trip to Wells, the Mulberry Factory shop, the farm shop at Sharpham everything you need to make a weekend perfect.

 

i love the hidden gardens of london – tucked behind residential and industrial areas of london there are so many to discover;  i recently  visited st georges garden, just near to kings cross – a 300 year old burial ground, its a lovely breath of greenery in a somewhat park free part of town.    my architecture buddy Maria, took me to the gagosian gallery in kings cross first, then through st georges garden to the dairy arts centre.   both galleries are privately owned and show mainly contemporary art.   stop off at nearby patisserie des amis for a cuppa and cake.

 

other secret gardens in london are Abney Park Cementery nature reserve in stoke newington, hampstead hill gardens and pergola in a little known pocket of hampstead heath, built by Lord Leverhulme for his parties a century ago.   the old english garden in battersea park is a more contemporary garden, recently revamped in battersea park.  camley street natural park is in the heart of kings cross that has been turned into a floating forest garden with pond meadow and woodland habitats.  so wherever you are , there is a hidden haven right in your city.

my love is like a red red rose

i love this version by eddo reader – my love is like a red red rose

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June :
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love,
And fare thee weel a while !
And I will come again, my love,
Thou’ it were ten thousand mile.

Robert Burns

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chinese new year – year of the monkey

its chinese new year on 8th february,  the year of the monkey, but the celebrations in london start on 14th february.

People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.  i have to admit, january has been a terrible month for me – lets hope the rest of the year brings more joy!
The general image of people in this zodiac sign is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.
They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.

i know that some of you have followed my blog for quite a while, its now 6 years old, but as life is constantly changing, then so does the information that i have given you. sometimes i re blog a blog either to update the info or just to remind myself – so forgive me if i sometimes sound repetitive. i am constantly asked about dim sum restaurants and where i like to go with the family – so here is my list.

there are so many mediocre and over priced restaurants that it can put you off eating traditional chinese food.  there are of course the designer ones, hakasanyuatcha, ping pong and gilgamesh, all very good quality food, slightly designer chinese food, but all very expensive!  gilgamesh is the teenagers choice, trendy interior and more like a nightclub style restaurant in new york!  dinner at Hutong in the shard is an experience – its a fabulous view and the food delicious, though very spicy – you can ask for some of the dishes to be made not so hot. there is definitely a wow factor when you see all the views of london lit up. i know that the viewing platform is higher, but if you are going to pay to just see the view, it may be worth just going for one course or a drink in the bar to experience it. i think that all the restaurants and drinks are pricey in these tall buildings, but you may as well eat and drink than just pay the £25 into the viewing platform.

my kids just love the traditional chinese barbecue roast pork, or char siu and roast duck, which is only sold in the more everyday style restaurants, so we frequent the following restaurants – royal china in baker street (always busy, so be prepared to queue), wing yip in cricklewood, a very big busy and noisy traditional restaurant, great value, and you can then do your food shopping in the vast supermarket adjoined to it, again very busy. imperial china restaurant on lisle street, actually its through a door and courtyard on lisle street, but very good and moderately priced and then there is the good earth in mill hill, which is a smart smaller restaurant, but perfect for taking grandmas to – robert’s mum loved this place and it was close to her house!   we recently discovered the phoenix palace near baker street, its fine, but not as good as royal china, but equivalent in price.  opposite royal china on baker street, there is bright courtyard –  quite up market – they have ipads to order from which totally put my son off the restaurant – but its high quality dim sum, similar in price to royal china;  sometimes, we really cant wait in the queue at royal china so have tried this one a couple of times. princess garden of mayfair is very good quality and you can book at lunchtime which is a rarity.

we tried a new very different restaurant recently A Wong – we had lunch, which is dim sum, but very designer, but not too expensive.  i was divided in opinion, some were good, some were over thought out, but Robert absolutely loved it!  dinner is a different experience apparently.

for authentic trolley style dim sum restaurant – stop the trolleys that look apetising to choose your food, then try new world near gerrard street.  so appropriately its the new years celebration in china town next weekend, but remember that they will all be unusually busy this weekend.  a good tip on normal weekends is to go either very early, ie mid day or even just before, or after 2.30pm, you wont have to queue so much.

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titanic hotel liverpool

i have noticed that my friends and family are now giving me ‘experiences’ for presents rather than physical gifts – i am loving the different surprises that have been arranged for me – from nights in hotels, to massages and theatre trips, they are great memories and also makes xmas last even longer!  last weekend, i treated my friend elise to a night 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 or check on secret escapes – the spa is a heavenly treat too.   i managed to pop into the tate to catch up on the free matisse exhibition – london isn’t the only place to have important art!

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vintage covered boxes

this wonderful collection of vintage chocolate boxes and stationary boxes makes a sculptural addition to a dull corner!  or if you are feeling creative, you could cover a few plain stationary boxes from somewhere like muji with vintage fabrics. you can find a collection of vintage fabrics from vintage fabric market   or when your favourite dress or top has finally given way, cut up and reuse to cover a box that keep your favourite mementos.   i have a bad habit of using old chocolate boxes to store cards, drawings and photos.