Sunday, 28 April 2013

Instagram - y Post in London April 2013

As some of you might know, I am reluctant to open an Instagram account because I can not bear to remember another username and password combination.
So this is my woulda been Instagram for April.

It has been a rather busy month.

 I was invited to watch Sutra at Sadler's Wells.
As it was an invite, I just turned up not knowing what it was about.
Sometimes it's better that way - no prejudging.

If my friend told me it was a bunch of shaolin monks rearranging empty boxes around one white guy doing modern dance, I would have rolled my eyes and declined the invite.

But the performance was truly innovative and the music was outstanding; the sound of the cello was sublime.
 I am sure that a cello was playing in the background when 
the universe was created.
If it comes near you - do not miss it!

I don't go to pubs very often but had a lovely dinner with friends at the lovely gastropub called Paradise in Kensal Green,
 just north of Notting Hill.  

Great food and ambiance and well worth a visit for Sunday lunch.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mad Men Season 6, Episode 4 - To have and to hold

Sometimes you wonder what really is wrong with Pete Campbell.
I don't mean the secret meeting in his flat although his flat 
just reeks of unpolished, badly furnished and dusty egotism.

He offers the use of this flat if Don needs a place in Manhattan.
Don aptly replies, "I live here."
Even in this shot I find he is looking more like Mr Burns.
We are finally in Harlem folks!

Friday, 26 April 2013

House Beautiful April 2013

Time is a flying.
It is almost the end of April! 
When did that happen?

Please excuse the late April review...

One feature I always like is the paint colors feature.
Painting a room is one of the easiest ways to change the mood and decorate.  Plus I am very interested in color itself so this makes for a nice tutorial.

The April issue concentrated on legendary interior designers and their chosen color so it also made for a lovely anecdote.

I adore Dorothy Draper - don't know why - 
I just do and I love little stories.

There were a few things I remarked on this Master Class.

  • We all love/make the best of Ikea and Pottery Barn but get something original and unique to you.  Think of it as your architectural fingerprint.  It doesn't always have to be a grand staircase, even a funny garden gnome will do.
  • People are overdoing the pop of color thing in rooms for sure. That whole white room with a red vase thing is now getting a little trite.
  • People seem obsessed with trying to make their houses look bigger.  Yes, it is a fact we all crave space, we get it.  However, no one will believe your house is a 10,000 sq ft house by using a monochromatic palette.  It is the architectural equivalent of trying to buy black pants and tunic top to cover a size 24 ass.  You ain't foolin' nobody.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

4 in 1 Hermes Scarf, the Galop Chromatique

Hermes scarves - it doesn't really need an introduction does it?

It is an item quite entrenched in fashion iconography and history. Hermes silk scarves are one of the few fashion items that even the Queen indulges in. 


It may have had a certain reputation of being very and possibly overly elegant.  It definitely has gone through a revival and is now also seen worn by teenagers with the success of the J'aime mon carre campaigns Hermes had a few years ago.  In France, it seems that almost every French woman owns at least one Hermes scarf.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Fashion design or fashion copycat? You decide.

For me, the process of design is the invention and evolution of a concept applied to a physical object.

I like fashion, so am always interested and keep abreast of the couture collections.  I do feel rather sorry for fashion designers these days.  It must be so hard to come up with something trendsetting all the time.  If they didn't, we wouldn't need to buy new clothes and they would be out of a job.

It seems that some designers just reproduce, curate or tweak past designs.  Frida Giannini, the creative director of Gucci is notorious for utilizing the fashion house's archives as a source rather than an inspiration.  For this season's silk scarves, she reprinted the same scarf designs that were first designed in 1966.  

She does get maligned for just reproducing rather than designing her own trademark like Tom Ford did - so much so that her notoriety caused people to wonder how she got away with simply recycling old designs and everyone wondered who she must be sleeping with.

Turns out -  it was her boss, CEO of Gucci, Patrizio di Marco but LVMH is a family company. They followed the example and now have a family of their own as she gave birth last month...

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3

Sorry about this being a little bit later than I would have liked, 
mind you, you didn't know that 
but I have been having major internet issues!

Somethings have been there all along and it takes one split second to recognize it.

The opening credit sequence with Don free falling is one of those for me.

I never paid attention nor heed to it before and I am sure many of you got it ages ago but I only just got that Don is free falling.
I mentioned that I felt it was a bit of television jet-lag and it continued this episode with the flashbacks.  If you thought a 24 hour flight from Oz to Europe with a 12 hour difference was bad enough, try 30 years ago minus the 1960's.

Whoa, Don was so ugly as a teenager and so badly cast that I actually googled the casting director for Mad Men.
Excuse me Carrie Audino and Laura Schiff, I know you have been working hard casting all of Don's girlfriends and extras to play the background secretaries and copywriters but you should have done a better job with casting Don at that age. Gee whiz.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Angkor Wat or as I call it Angkor what the?

The last time I left you I had had a rough day.

I am not good with structure so a detailed itinerary made me a bit anxious. But after numerous terrible taxi drivers, dodgy guides, I decided to go on an official tour padded out by 5 other people.

1 shy young American twenty something banker guy who lived in Hong Kong hereby known as the Photographer.

1 intellectual suave sale e pepe haired Italian man and 3 of his own reference books hereby known as Siloso, which phonetically in Italian is "Yes, I know".

1 German baby boomer who wore the national tourist uniform 
( sandals and socks ) 

2 female nurses - one attractive and slim, the other was her wing woman and they thought Christmas came early being stuck all day with 3 single men. 

I got picked up in a minivan and headed over to the massive grounds that make up the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park.  
 Angkor Wat is a temple but the general area is covered with so many temples that it really is its own town.

We stood at the main entrance to Angkor Wat by one of the many man made irrigation channels that I mentioned in the previous day's post.  I was ready to move on but the guide was committing the cardinal sin of spewing out dates and names.  
Kill me now.  It hadn't even been five minutes and I felt I was back in the 4th grade displaying the then undiagnosed symptoms of ADD.

We walked through and I was led to this vantage point.
There was Angkor Wat with its distinctive domes.
This is also a very popular vantage shot for postcards.
I was quite lucky as at the same time some boys were taking some special commemorative photos.
It added to the drama to see boys dressed in traditional garb 
against that backdrop.
Did you know that half of the population in Cambodia is under the age of 15?
Kids everywhere. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Mad Men - Season 6, Episode one and two review

I don't mind if none of you read this because this is bit of a toughie.  Some of you haven't seen the show at all, or it's still waiting on your DVR and some of you have already seen this episode. 
But I got a few things to ramble on about. 
( Minor spoiler alert though not much really happened.)
Now who decided that season six was the penultimate season of Mad Men? 

I refuse to hear of it - *holding hands over ears* - blah blah blah.

As much as I hate 70's fashion, I will endure the Man Men cast in bell bottoms as long as this show goes on forever.  
I was so excited about the date of the show premier a few months ago which I wrote about in this post.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Imaginary Conversations in Hyde Park

This past weekend London had been briefly visited by Spring. 

I didn't know that Spring had the personality of Lindsay Lohan: so much hype, so much promise, but so late showing up and when she does - it's a quick entrance, ducks out of vision and leaves without saying good bye. 


But momentarily, there was sun and we almost hit double digits in the temperature - it was 9 degrees people!

But considering it was just snowing a few days before, I felt I had to be a good host to Spring and went to the park to greet her.

I like to take a walk on my own - I get to think properly.

I don't even listen to music - just my own thoughts.
And other people's conversations.

I decided to sit in the Lido cafe having a cup of tea with some papers, getting some Vitamin D, and people watching.

Via Flickr
The park was full of people full of like minded people trying to catch a glimpse of the sun rays.

I know we all do this, please tell me you do, but don't you sometimes wish you could just go up to certain people and have a quick word?  I know I do.  Good thing I was alone because I was busy having imaginary conversations in my head with these people. 

That way you also get the last word.

Well there were a few people who I talked to.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Pack your bags - we're going on a guilt trip.

I actually haven't finished telling you about my Southeast Asian trip - I still have a bit more to share with you but I will intersperse it between other posts so I don't become that party bore.

Last time I left you, I had just left Hanoi - begrudgingly.  
I had wished I could change my whole itinerary and explore the rest of Vietnam.  But it would be a pain and not much was refundable so was unenthusiastic about going to Cambodia.

When I fell in love with Hanoi and had such an interesting and fun experience, I thought I had peaked too early. 
Between you and me, I am a moderate optimist.  I said to myself that was the amazing bit so just accept the rest will be okay.

I had arrived in Siem Reap at night and had no bearing and quite frankly no interest.

I thought,"Well, Angkor Wat is apparently beautiful, it's a wonder of the world right?  Come on, let's tick that box Naomi."

I woke up and found that my hotel was quite sweet - Palm Spring-y.

My room on the right - went against my philosophy and stayed all four nights.
My room was on the right - the one that all the geckos seem to congregate to.

The garden was enviable - frangipani and mango trees.
 Natural orchids growing on the tree.
  I am sure there is a proper name but in laymen terms, 
anorexic lilies.
The flow of the bath entertained me  - doesn't take much sometimes.

But I wasn't in the hotel decor analyzing mood.

As I don't plan things properly, I haphazardly looked at my guidebook but was drowning in the humid heat.  
I promised that I would not complain about the heat but the 
43 degree heat was making me feel faint. 
But I had tourist guilt so left the hotel and let my feet lead me somehow to Angkor Wat.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Classy British stuff

This is a last minute post - partly because I was thinking about this all day and I am at home unexpectedly.  I thought I was meant to go to see Helen Mirren in The Audience  tonight. But due to my head space not being compos mentis and the false pride I have in mentally filing as opposed to having a diary, I missed the play I had tickets to last night.  Insult to injury, I turned down an invitation to the hottest ticket in town for The Book of Mormon because I thought I was otherwise engaged...Argh.

Anyway, the papers had the usual smattering of different headlines today but the one that quite a lot of front page coverage was this.

Apparently, there are now more social classes in the U.K. than one previously thought.
It used to be this.
One upper, one middle, and one working class man.
Looking up and down upon each other.
This is based on a very famous sketch which for those of you who are not familiar with it can watch here.

But apparently now there are seven different classes.

I don't know whether to sigh or yawn.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Venetia Stanley-Smith - the bobo version of Martha Stewart

My last post was about my frenemy Martha Stewart.

I was told by an old friend of mine who kindly commented that there was a show called Whatever Martha.  This show is about two women, one of them being Martha's daughter, Alexis Stewart making fun of Martha's old shows.  My YouTube was rather busy and I was entertained in bed while fighting this cold weather.

Here is an example of a show  - click here to view.

Now after watching or reading Martha, I will be honest and say that nothing changes in my life.
I can barely do the dishes let alone tackle a Martha project.

As some of you know, I have just gotten back after several weeks in Southeast Asia and I am still a bit jet-lagged.  Actually, it is a bit more than jet-lagged, I don't feel like I am all here yet.

My theory is that although not as drastic as riding a Concorde or space shuttle, the human body isn't meant to have traveled so fast, therefore some molecules just hasn't caught up to London yet.

Sounds a bit kooky I know but let me Google some mathematical formula that eventually proves this some other time.

While I was away, I was exposed to CNN and other generically polite news channels, NHK world being one of them.

I had the chance to catch up with a show I haven't seen in a while and enjoyed viewing immensely and wanted to share with you.
Image via NHK
If you haven't seen it yet, I can not recommend At Home with Venetia in Kyoto highly enough.

Before I waste anyone's time, I must preface that this is the type of show that would be on BBC4.

So if you don't like BBC4, then there is no point reading on further.

This show features Venetia Stanley-Smith, a British woman who moved to Japan thirty years ago.

She teaches English in her own academy but also has published books about herbs and gardens in Japan and unfortunately for most of us, in Japanese.

Her show is about her expertise as a herbalist and her housekeeping and garden tips as illustrated through her traditional Japanese 100 year old home in the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan.
Image via NHK
Each show features the changes in her garden and an aspect of her home whether it is a recipe for dinner, a rosemary shampoo, or a special paste for her woodwork.  They film the Japanese countryside and name the plants in either plain English or the Latin names which for a very amateur is educational.  

Her garden that took 6 six years of cultivation won the Japan National Garden competition in 2002.
Via Japan Times
I will admit that the photos don't do it justice.

You see, it would be like putting a picture of my funniest friend 
on here and saying, 
"See how funny my friend is?? Just look. Hilarious!"

It doesn't work.  It comes alive with her guiding you and in movement on the show.

She does all the right things: lives seasonally, organically, and promotes local craft and produce.

She is the earthier, eco-friendly, and hippie version of Martha.
Via yestijasmine.blogspot
She has a simple but the most coziest home. I do not exaggerate when I say that her home is one of the houses I lust after.  
If I could, I would be Russian oligarch obnoxious and give her ten times what it is worth and kick her out but then pay her to tend to the house and garden.

I have been trying to analyze what it is about her house and garden that I am trying to imbibe.

I concluded that it must be the time, energy and love spent.

It is the peace that it must have brought and something that one can literally not buy.

I must be an architectural soul vampire - only way to describe it.

And now you know way too much about me...

Ironically, I don't even have this carnivorous (are bricks meat?) urge to devour her family seat of Kedleston Hall.
Via National
She is the epitome of bourgeois boheme.
Parisians say "bobo"- like "bcbg" for bon chic, bon genre.

You see, she is a bit of posh girl but went to live in India for a while in an ashram and left the conventional life in Britain. 
Her father was a seemingly cookie cutter Etonian and her mother was the granddaughter of Lord Curzon, a Viceroy of India.  
Her family have lived in the same grounds since 1297 

The film "The Duchess" was filmed here for those of you who may recognize the estate.
Via National Trust
It has a hall designed by the architect Robert Adam.
Via National Trust
The south side of the house and the gardens were also designed by the architect.
Via National Trust 
The house was built as it looks now in 1765.
It has a special curved hall hanging family portraits. 
Her family are nesters for sure.
Via National Trust
Lovely bedroom.  Try dusting on top of the bed frame...
Via National Trust
But I admit I do adore the library.
Via National Trust
But mind you, I have tastes for libraries what men have for breasts ; I am not too picky and love most kinds.

She doesn't do the whole pre-prison Martha that exuded "Don't I have the perfect life" ethos - Venetia is quite candid about her own life.

She wrote about her daughter's schizophrenia and having to raise her grandson, albeit in a very British matter of fact way.
She writes about her family and life on monthly updates on her blog.

She is honest to say that her privileged background didn't bring that supposed happiness and while I don't know of her finances, she does prove that money is not the main ingredient in a home.

Case in point. Oprah's house.
Via Glamour magazine UK
I don't know if some of you remember her now defunct home decor magazine that was called O at Home.

Her home in Santa Barbara was featured and even though 
I know it cost about a hundred million dollars - 
not an inch of me wanted to move in.  
I might have gone for a Sunday open house tour but house envy? Not one iota.

I was relieved when in her latest issue of O Magazine, she admitted the lack of style and warmth in her own house without me outing her seeming like a right bitch. ( Although I can be...)
Via O April 2013

I mean - look at this hallway.  
It is so "Real Housewives of some U.S. metropolitan city."
Via O Magazine April 2013
You expect her to come down in those stairs in furry kitten heels to confront the maid trying to seduce her husband.

Then look at this.
Via O Magazine April 2013
I don't know who her painter/decorator is - but have you ever, ever seen such walls painted with less soul.  It is the most one dimensional wall I have ever come across.  It was not only in the yellow paint of her hall but also in this apricot room.

This is Oprah's private library.
But she does admit that the library just doesn't work.
Via O Magazine April 2013
But I have never come across a library that I would not feel at home in but there is always a first.

So this illustrates that ostentation, money, and access to the best decorators in the world does not produce a covetable home.  
Not that making a home covetable is the aim...
But a house that you would love to live in.
Venetia's home does that to me.

When you watch her show, she demonstrates a recipe, a house or garden keeping tip which is in Japanese.  
( The show is mostly subtitled I must warn you.) 
But then she does an essay in English in her unique accent that has been indented with Japanese clipped endings and a haiku rhythm.
Don't worry - she is not kumbaya at all.
I always feel so much peace when I watch this show - 
once I get past the hostile urge to take over her house.

She seems so content weeding her garden and collecting seeds for the following year to share with her friends.  She doesn't have any of the frenzy to live a perfect life, she imparts a genuine stillness that is infectious.

If you don't mind subtitles and a slower edit, I encourage you to watch her on YouTube if you don't have access to NHK and enjoy not only her life but also as a means to enjoy Japanese culture.

This episode is a nice opener - I won't take it personally if you don't like her.  I can imagine some of you clicking off. 
But for those of you who want to passively meditate and 
want a tele-visual, informative poem, this is your show.