gregory crewdson

i popped into aperture  to drop off a black and white film for development – i was pleasantly surprised and pleased to wait in a queue of young people also picking up films;  its one of the few places left that develop films (except snappy snaps), but i think that their processing and printing is far better than the chain street shop.   if you dont want prints, you can have a scan and process, which works out cheaper, but i still like to have the prints and see the difference.  i always check out the cameras for sale, craving the leicas and roliflex cameras – how many cameras can one girl collect?  i am a bit nerdy when it comes to equipment and like most photographers are always looking for the next new thing, except for me, i am looking at the old classics.   i have given up on digital, you may as well take them with your iPhone.  i then went off to photographers gallery to see the large format prints by Gregory Crewdson, cathedral of the pines.  i have always admired his photographs, even though they are super staged and lit professionally as though on a film set – so not the spontaneous reality you may imagine – there is always a light that evokes a mystery and eeriness that conjure stories and myths.  these definitely conjure all kinds of stories,  so worth a visit.   if you visit before 12 noon, its free entry, but to be honest the £4 fee is a worthy contribution to keep an institution dedicated to photography alive.

there are very few pics of me, but my friend debra always makes an effort to snap me – always with a camera round my neck…… and both shot with iPhones…..



its not my usual genre of film, but i was intrigued to see a film shot entirely in film rather than digital – it definitely wasn’t because of harry styles that i went to see ‘Dunkirk’.   robert really wanted to see it and i am ashamed to admit that i didnt really know the full story, so got the pre story briefing before we went in.  i have never seen a batman movie, so have no idea what a christopher nolan film was like – i was dreading a film full of visual effects.  dunkirk was told through 3 paths – the ground soldiers over a week, the ferryman over a day and the air pilot through an hour.  this actually wasn’t that clear, but now it makes sense.  it was a relentless battle for survival, the hardship and bleakness,  the courage and stamina of the men,  the pity of war and the sheer waste of life and especially of young boys – made even more poignant as i have a 21 year old boy.  the cinematography was stunning and beautiful, but there was no emotion or simple human spark – i think the aim was to show the unity rather than centre on one heroic character .  its definitely worth seeing though, i think even the young girls sat next to us enjoyed it.  it reminds me how lucky we are that we have lived our lives without war and how much admiration i have for the men who had to endure those conditions.

al fresco dining

with all this warm weather its great to find places to sit outside and eat;  obviously there are all the park cafes, regents park, st james’s, the serpentine – i haven’t made it yet to the new serpentine pavilion, but plenty of time to get there – but its always nice to discover tables with a view of london life passing you by.  we recently went to the colbert in sloane square with a friend who booked a table outside one evening – not picturesque gardens, but sloane square is a great place to people watch;  as with all of Corbin and King’s restaurants, its an easy menu, with lots of choices for everyone and of a certain quality.  i personally dont like chains, but somehow, they seem to add that bit extra that makes it less chain like… personally i think that breakfast is the best meal.

a few other choices are  charlotte street  –  full of restaurants with tables outside as is granary square in kings cross.  somerset house with its terraces over the river,  franks cafe in peckham has a 10th floor roof terrace – my teenage kids love it there – sushi samba has an amazing terrace on the 39th floor of the heron building and proud camden has apparently just refurbished a roof top garden, so happy alfresco dining and drinking!



i wonder how many people come home with a rug from morocco?   i loved the way the bazaar owners laid out the rugs like squares of paintings – i can see where Paul Klee got his inspiration.

there is a moroccan rug shop going up to  highgate, but if you are after modern rugs then the rug company has the best choice.

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i love this square of sunflowers, looks like a natural rug in the andalucian landscape.




restaurants and eating intolerances

i much prefer home cooked food, but sometimes the effort to shop cook and clean for a family makes going out much easier – especially when you are on holiday – however we now have the added issue of one daughter being vegan, one son intolerant to dairy – and a friend who can’t eat gluten or grains – so being on holiday takes a lot of organisation and thought.   and when there are 7 of you to feed all day, one sometimes feels like a hotel, replenishing, preparing and cleaning up.   andalucia is not the best place to be vegetarian, never mind vegan – tuna , ham and cheese feature heavily in most dishes.  however the ingredients that you buy in the local mercado are limited but locally grown and taste amazing.  of course you can find all the usual things in the supermarkets, but its best to choose and cook what is local.   most of the restaurants in our area of Vejer offer salads, gazpacho and roasted vegetables and the chips are usually freshly made and are delicious and please any vegan.  thank goodness for corredero 55 – it may not be wholly spanish but it does give a wider choice of menu  and has the great view over the hills of vejer, especially at sunset.   in the mercado itself you can get sushi from one of the food stalls – this includes advocado and cucumber rolls, seaweed and pickled vegetables, so at least there is a little variety for vegans.  el mastren ice cream shop on calle Juan Relinque has a great variety of sorbets, including fig and chocolate sorbet – both addictive and delicious – you can’t believe that neither contain milk and are so creamy.


in london its so easy to get into a rut and visit the same restaurants over and over again – but recently i have tried lots of new ones, including a raw vegan restaurant  nama foods in talbot road – very unusual, and suits those of you who are healthy inclined and have lots of intolerances.  fortunately locally we also have mildreds, hache burger – great sweet potato fries and veggie burger and nectar triyoga cafe – which makes life a bit easier.  trishna – great indian food – always a good choice for vegetarians,  and classic italian food from little italy – all of which i can recommend.  oriental food seems to cater for all our tastes and especially vietnamese –  viet hoa being our favourite – of course we prefer the old traditional interior, but the food is consistently the best and there are lots of choices for vegans.  okan ramen has amazing home made noodles and even offer the zero shirataki noodles that dont contain wheat –  its also the most affordable option;  i completely understand that small specialists restaurants can’t buy in bulk, but you do seem to pay a premium for these foods.

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love this simple salad of spinach leaves and pomegranate that florence prepared for me one lunchtime.

beaches of the costa de la luz

we are on our annual family holiday in Vejer and its hot, hot, hot….if you cant get up early, then the only time to go to the beach in spain is after 4pm in the summer;   but once you’re there, you can sunbathe right up til 8pm, then stay for sunset dinner on the beach.

my favourite beaches in andalucia are El Palmar – popular for surfing in the winter and the local beach to our village of Vejer de la Fronterra;   its quite a long beach and the waves can be strong, but the sea is fresh and exhilarating.  we tend to go to the far left of the beach by the chiringuito Guruguru, which is a little bit quieter.   Zahora, hidden away, this natural beach is within a bay, so a bit more sheltered than the wider open beaches and is perfect for children;  however, when the tide goes out, its very shallow with lots of rocks, but this beach is shorter and has been described as being in the caribean;  cabo de Trafalgar, is the famous beach from the battle of Trafalgar, totally unspoilt with nothing built on it – lots of kite surfers feequent this beach when the conditions are right for surfing – a finer sand its completely unspoilt;   Zahara de los Atunes is a  fishing village by the sea with a long windswept rugged beach, popular in the summer with tourists – there is a lovely bit by the old town and a long stretch further down towards the newer apartments;  we like to eat in the hotel Don antonio and then sit on that part of the beach after;  Canos de la Meca is  a smaller hippy beach, again a bit sheltered, but very busy in the summer – only worth going to out of the busy august period;  the far end is rugged with cliff tops but also attracts nudists.  Conil is more built up than the other beaches, but has a fantastic long wide beach and the sea is perfect for wave jumping – again, the end nearest Vejer has a bridge that takes you to a wilder non built up part, but the other end has 2 fantastic eating places right onto the beach;   Bolonia is a great beach with the added attraction of some Roman ruins, dunes and the odd cow or horse stepping out on the seafront; – if you go left its quieter with cafes on the cliff top, right are the ruins.  Tarifa is hip, young and a magnet for windsurfing and kite surfers, but also has the wonderful dunes nearby;  between Tarifa and the dunes is the beach Valdequeros, which has a fun beach bar;  La Barossa has more hotels around, more built up, but again a fabulous long beach; San Lucar de la Barrameda is an old fishing village by the sea, famed for its seafood – its one of our favourite towns in spain – not at all trendy, just full of locals from jerez and seville searching for the famous prawns.  Seek Bajo de Guia and eat at casa Bigote – classic traditional food that is always of a high quality.