York: Amus-(eum)-ing myself

Let’s begin by establishing that my second full day in York was a wet one. The skies grizzled ominously and gushed forth in turn so it was just as well there were plenty of indoor activities to keep me amused.

After a bracing walk along the river, I spent the morning at the York Castle Museum. Located just by Clifford’s Tower, it’s comprised of two buildings – the old Female Prison to the left and the old Debtors Prison to the right – with a gift shop (there’s always a gift shop) and cafe in between. The museum weaves an eclectic route through York society and culture during the 1800s-1900s and all it takes is a tenner to get amongst it.

I began with the Female Prison Building – containing exhibitions covering the changing nature of homes and living – and a nod to one of York’s great pillars of commerce, chocolate.

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The Rowntree’s company in York invented the Kit Kat and the Terry’s Chocolate…Apple?

I wandered through the toys exhibit…

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…passed a number of rooms set up to show life in York’s different social circles…

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A single room cottage – cosy!

…and ended by meandering around the museum’s indoor streetscape, Kirkgate.

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There was also an exhibit called Shaping The Body covering the history of body shape and size, the advent of fashion and food trends as well as an overview of various exercise fads over the last 400 years. I had a little chuckle at the irony of this given York’s chocolate connection!

Next I headed across to the Debtors Prison Building for the exhibition on The Great War (World War I). If you like war history this would be right up your street. I spent 45 minutes or so wandering through but to be honest, I struggled to stay interested.

I also visited the old prison cells in this building and learned about some of the people incarcerated there – you can actually stand in the cell where highwayman Dick Turpin was held before his execution and hear ‘him’ speak.

As I was heading out to the museum exit, I saw a sign pointing to a ’60s exhibition. A peek outside confirmed that it was still raining buckets so I dashed across to the annex and enjoyed a brush with a replica lunar module, pondered fashion and homewares from the decade and listened to a blast from the past – the theme tune from Doctor Who.

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At this point more than three hours had passed and I was well and truly ready for lunch. Brolly up, I emerged into the downpour and headed over to Castlegate for a pleasant (and dry) spell at Source.

With the rain looking like it was going nowhere fast, I decided to spend the afternoon at the National Railway Museum. This is free and contains an extraordinary number of trains and related exhibits. I am no trainspotter and I still managed to spend just under three hours here…

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I especially liked the display on the warehouse mezzanine floor which showed all of the technologies used to manage the rail network. Of particular interest was the signalling system – anyone who uses the tube and train network in the UK is familiar with ‘signal failure’ being a cause of disruption in their journey. But for the life of me, I could not work out how to read the computer screen showing the real-time ‘ins and outs’ of York Station. Best I stick to my day job.

The damp squib continued outside and the thought of a pint of something somewhere warm was growing in appeal. While strolling down Stonegate a couple of days earlier, I’d come across a sign pointing to an intriguing alleyway so that was where I headed – to Ye Olde Starre Inne, one of York’s oldest (and supposedly haunted) pubs…

It was here that, as I relaxed by the open fire and sipped my pint, I read the news about the Westminster terror attack. Feeling thankful that I was well away from it all (and that I could reassure family and friends I was safe), I was taken back five months when that very place had been part of my daily commute. I shed a few shocked tears at the horror of it all yet tucked safely in a warm and cosy corner of an historic city that had survived so much, it felt like I was in the perfect place to reflect.

And as I fell into an(other) exhausted sleep that night, I thought about the importance of living life to the fullest and being present to life’s many joys every day.

Then Thursday dawned, crisp and sunny…

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My four York posts:

Photo tour: A walk in York

York: The tower, tour and tearooms

York: Amus-(eum)-ing myself

York: People and a pastry

A brush with art

I had an hour to kill between meetings near Pall Mall today and as I braced myself against the cold (it was -1 Celsius for most of today) and crossed Trafalgar Square, the imposing pillared facade of the National Gallery and the promise of its warm – and free – galleries looked pretty inviting.

In the thirteen years that I’ve lived in London, I have never been to the National Gallery (I know, the shame!) so once inside, I followed the signs up to the paintings galleries and began to wander. I had such a lovely time that I wanted to share a few of my favourites with you.

Let me pause here and say that I am in awe of the skill and talent required to paint. But I know diddly-squat about art and on the rare occasions that I go (like to last year’s Painting the Modern Garden at the Royal Academy), I tend to stroll around and stop whenever something takes my fancy.

And I was only just inside the door when I was taken by fancy number one.

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Finding Wonderland

It was wet and grey in London yesterday and if it hadn’t been for some existing plans I would have been perfectly happy to curl up at Gidday HQ on the comfy couch. But the British Library beckoned and so just after lunch, friend Aussie-K and I stepped out for some literary loitering.

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It was our first visit to the library. Yours truly has been here twelve years and until yesterday, had only managed a passing acquaintance last year by way of a talk at the conference centre next door. Given how much I love literature and reading, I am delighted to have ticked this visit off my London bucket list and to have moved from ‘I must’ to ‘I have’ at long last.

And what, I hear you ask, made me get off my backside and go?

Well, Wonderland of course!

2015 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s a story that’s been told in a myriad of formats and iterations over the years, its other-worldly characters and trippy plot making it the subject of much interpretation and debate. I saw Robert Douglas-Fairhurst interviewed about his biography on Carroll – The Story of Alice – last year (which I am currently reading) and the Library has been running a temporary free exhibition which closes in April. So we entered the fray and hustled – with what felt like hundreds of half-term families – along the cabinets and displays.

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The front part of the exhibit was taken up with a series of twelve (or was it thirteen?) decorated mirrors featuring quotes from Alice in Wonderland whilst in a rather cramped section at the rear, there was an opportunity to learn about the author himself, his real-life Alice (who happened to be a brunette rather than the blonde we’ve come to know and love) and see the ways in which this famous story has been communicated over the last 150 years. It was interesting – however the area was poorly-lit with little opportunity to linger and I found it difficult to read all of the information and look at the details of the books and manuscripts on display. I’m not sorry that I spent the time to shuffle through and see it but it’s just as well it was free otherwise I might have been a little put out!

It seemed a shame to leave after such a short visit and as it was still raining outside, we meandered across to the Library’s permanent exhibition, Treasures of the British Library.

Now THIS was my Wonderland and I spent quite some time poring over…

…drawings & notes from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo…

…musical scores from as early as 1050 and from geniuses like Mozart, Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, Bach (just to name a few) as well as a page of Puccini’s scribbled stage directions for his opera Madame Butterfly and a touch from the modern era, a burst of scrawled lyrics for The Beatles’ hit ‘Help’…

…pages and pages of penmanship from literary giants: 16th century greats like Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson, acknowledged classics like Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and even a little something from Ian Fleming, the man behind James Bond – who you could argue is one of the 20th century’s most iconic literary creations – and his short story, The Living Daylights…

…sacred texts, beautifully illustrated, from as early as the 4th century and from a  variety of religions including Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddism…

…and one of the four Magna Carta documents dating back to 1215 which was sitting right alongside the original papal bull that annulled it just 10 weeks later.

It was absolutely awesome – in the true sense of the word – and these were just the highlights.

And after such a deluge of inspirational history, it was time to venture back out into the real weather, make a damp and concerted dash past St Pancras Station…

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…and around to the YumChaa Cafe in Granary Square for a warming hot chocolate and a slice of apple and apricot loaf…

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All in all, it turned out to be the perfect way to spend an inclement February afternoon in London.

Cruising London: Photo tour

Last Saturday I spent a leisurely three hours on the Museum of London‘s Frost Fairs cruise along the River Thames.

Frost Fairs are a rare occurrence in the pages of London’s history. They were held when a combination of winter-y elements meant that the River Thames froze over and created a lot of excitement for Londoners. Our Museum of London host told us that the earliest Frost Fair was likely to have occurred in 1114-1115 between Westminster and London Bridges when all sorts of activities  – shopping, drinking and eating, and games like skittles and ice-skating – were at the disposal of those who dared to venture out onto the river’s icy surface.

But it was a double-edged sword as while many entrepreneurs and well-to-do celebrated this rarity, a third of Londoners depended on the river for their livelihood and so were left destitute when they could no longer ply their many trades.

The last Frost Fair occurred in 1814-1815: Once the old London Bridge was demolished and the new bridge – constructed by John Rennie and opening in 1831 – was in place, a more free-flowing river was created, giving little opportunity for ice to “dam up”.

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Cruising under Rennie’s London Bridge

So last weekend I made my way along the embankment to Westminster Pier, boarded the Pride of London and took my place on the upper deck. It was one of those grey London days – not as pretty as a crisp blue-sky day but it did lend something quite atmospheric to the usual view. Here’s a little photo tour of my time on board.

Big Ben vs Boudicca

Boudicca vs Big Ben – looking up from Westminster Pier gives you this great perspective.

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Blackfriars Bridge – trains stopping at Blackfriars Station actually stop on the bridge.

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No Thames cruise photo tour would be complete without a shot of Tower Bridge

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I loved this row of old bankside houses – the two building to the left of the row stand like sentries at the entrance to one of the many channels that branch off the river.

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The cruise took us all way downstream to the Isle of Dogs and the Greenwich Peninsula, the latter being home to the Millenium Dome (or as it’s now known, the O2 Arena). It does look like some sort of alien ship has landed.

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This is the Royal Naval College in Greenwich – you can see the Royal Observatory in the background (which by the way is a great place to visit.)

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And this is the famous Cutty Sark, just a hop step and jump away from the Naval College

Along the route back, the daylight had started to fade and I spent most of the time just watching the bank glide by, the wake from the various river craft creating foamy ripples along the shore. Before long, we were cruising past the modern shapes of London’s City Hall and The Shard…

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London’s City Hall is the curved building on the left and look how the tiny white-lit Christmas tree mirrors The Shard that overshadows it.

…and London’s lights glowed in the dusk as we continued to cruise back towards Westminster.

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Southwark Bridge

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The London Eye

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Passing under Westminster Bridge gave me this atmospheric view of the Houses of Parliament’s Victoria Tower

Soon it was a quick under and back again with Westminster Bridge, a gentle drift towards Westminster Pier and with my head full of what I’d seen and heard, I disembarked and headed home.

I am a big fan of the events put on by the Museum of London and this was such a great way to spend a few grey and blustery hours on a Saturday afternoon. So I hope you enjoyed this little photo tour a fraction as much as I enjoyed for real.

My Backyard… Building Blocks

Today I was reading an interesting piece on Fevered Mutterings on what constitutes ‘travel’ and the premise that we tend to think about the packing of a suitcase, backpack or even overnight bag as an activity inextricably linked to travelling. 

When I think of travel, I think of going from point A to point B (which is the definition that comes to my mind given the Transport for London website exhorts me to ‘travel by foot’ for a portion of most of my journeys) but this is not a vision that will keep me going in the depths of winter darkness. Thank goodness Mike Sowden suggested that redefining travelling as ‘venturing somewhere new’ means it is right under our noses – that ‘travel *is* our own backyard’.

And last Sunday it was my own ‘backyard’ that I ventured out into to have a gander around Old London Town. I’m not sure that under normal circumstances, I would be up for an architecturally themed stroll on a wintery Sunday morning but I enjoyed Blue Badge Guide Paula’s trek around Shardlake’s London so much last September that it was an easy and enthusiastic ‘yes’ when the flyer came through for her guided walk through Post-War City Architecture

So we started at Barbican tube station and followed Paula – and her post-war story – through the City of London. Here’s what we saw…

Standing outside Barbican station on a crisp January morning

Following the bombing raid on London on 29th December 1940, much of Greater London was flattened. But contrary to wider plans, the City took its own view of its rebuilding and commissioned architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon to create urban villages for the working class…


The Golden Lane Estate was originally positioned outside the City boundaries until ‘re-zoning’ brought it into the fold – perhaps that explains why a 2 bedroom apartment here goes for around £680,000.
…and the more affluent inhabitants of the City.
The Barbican Estate was opened in 1969 (that makes it as old as me) and stretches over a 40 acre site. It contains more than 2,000 flats, of which a 2 bedroom version will set you back about £900,000. Oh and check out the upside looking windows top right.

We then ambled around the back of the Museum of London, took a quick peek at the Pedway System (a scheme based on raised pedestrian walkways which never really took hold) then crossed London Wall to Wood Street.

Traditional building blocks adorn the home of the City’s Police Force (yes, a separate force from that of Greater London). Standing with your back against the wall will give you a great view of the tower reflected in the building opposite.
The tower of St Alban stands in the centre of the street in stark contrast to the architecture around it and here the Norman Foster designed 100 Wood Street forms a geometric backdrop to Christopher Wren’s deft touch. But walk through its checkerboard frontage and you’ll find a veritable oasis. Soaring windows angled outwards bring light into the old churchyard and provide space for the old plane tree’s leafy boughs.
Next it was a trot down Gutter Lane to emerge on Cheapside – crossing the road, we found ourselves standing in One New Change with this rather spectacular view…
The dome of St Paul’s pierces the sky right opposite One New Change. Thirteen ‘views’ of the cathedral are protected by the London View Management Framework which prevents the construction of any buildings which may impinge on the view. There’s even a protected view from Richmond Park’s King Henry’s Mound several miles away.

We headed out of One New Change and down to Bank Junction where the architectural contrasts abounded again.


This is No 1 Poultry: the street, like those around it (Milk Street, Bread Street) named after the market produce originally sold here. The building, designed by James Stirling for Peter Palumbo, carves a ship-like post modern silhouette against the sky and has caused much outcry from those – including Prince Charles – whose more conservative sensibilities it offends.
Turning from the post-modernist perspective, we found more traditional architecture clustered around the junction with the Royal Exchange (top left) and the Bank of England (bottom left) dominating the view.

We headed up Cornhill, our guide Paula setting a brisk pace…

The Leadenhall Building (the ‘Cheesegrater’) looms above the stone buildings along Cornhill while St Michael’s doors (right) are tucked a few neat steps back from the street.

…and came to a stop on the corner of Leadenhall Street and St Mary Axe, finding ourselves both surrounded and dwarfed by edifices of steel and glass…

The famous Lloyd’s of London ‘inside out’ building (right) was designed by Richard Rogers (who also designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris with Renzo Piano) on the site of both the previous Lloyd’s building and before that, East India House. The construction style (called Bowellism) is notable for having its interiors – stairwells (spirals), restrooms – the boxes behind the piping which contain electrical and water conduits –  and air conditioning ducts easily accessible to ensure that building never need close due to any malfunction of its ‘essential’ services. This 1986 building was Grade I listed in 2011 much to the chagrin of Lloyd’s (the listing means that the building cannot be changed in any way) so the insurance company’s ‘overflow’ will be moved right across the road to…
…the Cheesegrater (official name The Leadenhall Building). Situated at 122 Leadenhall Street, this building is nearing completion and is expected to open in Spring this year.

And not to be outdone, just a stone’s throw away stands The Gherkin.

The Gherkin‘s official name is the Swiss Re Building – or that’s what previous owners Swiss Re insisted on. Another Norman Foster design and completed in 2003, 30 St Mary Axe was built on the site of the former Baltic Exchange which was damaged in a Provisional IRA bombing in 1992. I thought it seemed rather fitting that The Cheesegrater is within arms reach of The Gherkin…

And with that, it was a short walk to Bishopsgate and the end of our tour. Almost 3 hours (including what Paula likes to call a ‘warming coffee break’ at the Costa Coffee halfway point).

I strolled back towards Moorgate tube station filled with excitement at what a dynamic and fascinating city I live in. The time had flown by and I was so glad that I had dragged myself out of bed and braved the chill to explore this amazing ‘backyard’ of mine. I kept gazing around, wondering about the stories of the buildings that loomed over me and as I reached the intersection of London Wall and Moorgate again, I couldn’t help but take just one last parting shot.


The old and the new right next to each other again.

I don’t know their story. But I am sure it’s fascinating.

Simply The ‘Est’

Well she’s here.

Lil Chicky has been ensconced at Gidday HQ since Tuesday and I’ve been out and about rather a lot showing her the sights and making the most of what’s on offer thus the lack of tap-tap-tapping.

I’ll share more fun stories and gory details later but in the meantime, I thought I’d give my lovely Gidday-ers a whirlwind tour of our exploits so far.

Are you ready?

We’ve been to…

…the highest…

The highest steeple in England at Salisbury Cathedral

…the tallest…

Europe’s new tallest skyscraper The Shard overlooks the Thames and City Hall (the weird curved building front left)

…the oldest…

5,000 years of history at Stonehenge
…the swankiest…

 Save your pennies for one of the most expensive apartments available in Knightsbridge

…the greenest…

Beautiful Green Park (that bright shiny object is the sun)

…the royal-est…

 The gates at Buckingham Palace

…and the longest…

The world’s longest running play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap currently at St Martin’s Theatre

…as well as celebrating a certain special birthday with a glass of vino or two.

Happy birthday to Lil Chicky…40 is definitely the new 30!

 

Day 6 looms ahead of us. We are off into town again today so who knows what adventures, stories and photos from Chicky Tours Unlimited will make tonight’s Gidday Wine Review.

You’ll just have to wait and see…

London’s Hip Pocket..

Last Saturday I had one of those wonderful afternoons when I rediscovered a forgotten part of London.

After a lunch with the girls at the fabulous Banana Store, we emerged into the chilly air right in the midst of Southwark – the Catherdral rose grandly in front of us and with The Shard looming in the background, it was an amazing view of old and new.


Peeking around the corner we could see another nod to London’s historic past.

The Golden Hind was the vessel that carried Frances Drake and his crew around the globe during the latter part of the 16th century and there is a full-sized replica of this berthed snugly at St Mary Overie Dock. Amazing to think that such a small craft carried a crew and supplies while it circumnavigated the world – it must have been cosy on board!

Just nearby are the remains of the Great Hall of the old Winchester Palace, built in the 13th century for the Bishops of Winchester.

 

And finally, not to be outdone, there was the famous Borough Market and we eagerly joined the late afternoon throng, milling around the stalls and soaking up the foodie atmosphere. We even added our own pecuniary contributions and came away with fresh produce to inspire the balance of our weekend eating – bread, fruit & veg, cheese, fish just to name a few of our respective vittels.

Gone fishing
Say cheese
That’ll do donkey
This little piggy went to market

So that was my few hours exploring this jammed-packed hip pocket of London and I finally bundled myself on the tube home happily tired. Hope you’ve enjoyed your armchair tour and it inspires you to visit for yourself.

The Eye Of The (Sand)Storm…

Well here we are in 2013 and with it comes resolutions that for me, are just begging to be broken. But I have gathered the very best of all my intentions to fulfil a promise I made a couple of posts ago to give you all an overview of my visit to Sand Sculpting Australia’s Under The Sea.

Custody changes during my Melbourne stay (of me from Mum to Lil Chicky and back again, the latter of these taking place in a car park) meant that uploading of photos for this post did not go as seamlessly as planned. But with perseverence – and a return to Gidday HQ’s wifi realm – I have prevailed. So take your marks, get your thongs flip flops on and let’s get this Armchair Tour underway.

This hard working fella can be found in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea….
…as the ‘in’ crowd – complete with piercings and an assortment of headgear – gathers at The Sign Of The Seahorse to catch up with the latest snail(mail).
The sirens’ song and come hither looks of Mermaids tempt you to venture further…
…whilst this giant of the sea keeps a beady eye on visitors and carries the weight of a former civilisation – the Lost City of Atlantis – on his back.
Maintenance is an important part of the Sand Sculpting world so it’s best to invest in regular check ups
…before things get out of hand.
This creature of the sea casts a lascivious eye over passersby…
…as it would appear that, like Poseidon, wild horses can’t keep them away.
And just when a couple of cuties might convince you that it’s safe to go back into the water…
…you might find yourself caught out by the bare (faced) cheek of the natives.

It’s a fascinating exhibit with lots of intricate detail and cheeky fun throughout – it’s worthwhile going back and revisiting each to discover new elements you didn’t see the first time around – as well as a speedy 10 minute demonstration of sand sculpting by one of the team on site.


If you want to read a little bit more, you can pop over to Mum’s write up on Weekend Notes. Or if you are actually in the Melbourne area before the 28th April, get yourself down to the Frankston Waterfront and find your very own fishy favourites.

Phew! At last, that’s post 1 (and resolution 1) for 2013 done.

Boats And Bridges…

Being part of a somewhat caring and supportive family, Lil Chicky and I decided that it was time that we do a little window shopping to find the next lucky man in my life. Fortunately, the family had decided to take a ferry ride over to Williamstown yesterday so at 12.30 the family Hamer (including those with a myriad of other names) gathered at Southbank, boarded our ship of dreams and set sail.
 
The one hour cruise took us along the Yarra River and out through The Docklands which has developed significantly since I last lived Down Under – there are lots of interesting buildings to ooh and aah at on the way but for now, let’s maintain some focus on the purpose of this post and leave architectural meanderings for another time.

The title promises bridges and we headed under many of them – here are my top three:

The Bolte Bridge, named for Henry Bolte who remains the longest serving Victorian State Premier (17 years from 1955). The bridge was opened in August 1999) and also forms an integral part of the entrance into Melbourne by car from the airport. The view of the City from here always feels like a big ‘welcome back’ to me. 
This bridge is a new one since my departure – it was difficult to capture the whole bridge but I loved this side, looking like one of those hooped underskirts from yesteryear.
The clean lines of this bridge and the Australian flag fluttering in the breeze typifies the clean, stark lines of the Australian landscape for me – no idea what this bridge is called either but I loved it all the same.
The weather was gorgeous – a pleasant mid 25C – and a gentle breeze cooled our sun-kissed noses and cheeks as we motored along. There were many boats out of all shapes and sizes, some puttering along at a more sedate pace…

Before we knew it, we had arrived at Williamstown Pier so it was off the boat for a stretch of the legs, something to eat and a hearty discussion about our plan of attack (which mainly revolved around ice-cream).
 
Docking at Williamtown foreshore…yes, that bright shiny object is the sun…
One of the great things about Williamtown (apart from the ice cream) is the fantastic view of the City of Melbourne so here’s the shot, complete with the millionaire shopping arcade boats in the foreground… 

After a pleasant few hours we decided to head back but finding a millionaire/boat had not gone so successfully so we decided to keep our eyes peeled on the way back. A single girl’s work is never done, you know…

As with some of my past experiences with you critters from Mars, this one seemed to over promise (Global Dream? Really?) and under deliver. I know it’s a working boat and all but a lick of paint wouldn’t have gone astray. There’s always something to be said for making an effort.
Now this is more my style: Sleek and white and celebratory even in name. Unfortunately a small child appeared as we chugged past which is just going a bit overboard (pardon the pun) with the accessories I feel….
This one has a spot in the boot for one’s jet ski. Very handy!
Suddenly the Bolte Bridge loomed above us again, signalling that our sea adventure (well the combined waterways of the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay in any case) would soon be over…
The Bolte Bridge with the bright shiny sun-thing again…
So that was the Day of the Family Hamer, seven intrepid wanderers out to see the world of Williamstown and conquer it with ice cream.
 
Which brings me (not so neatly) to the end of this post, my last for 2012. And all that remains is to wish you a Happy New Year wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate it.
 
There’s one ‘sleep’ left peeps – let’s show 2013 we mean business!

Frocks, Flicks And Champers…

This morning I wrapped myself up against the cold and stepped out into the crisp Autumn air to meet friend J for a few hours of glam gambolling at the V&A. The day was bright and it all started with a coffee in the sun before we wandered around the block to the museum in time for the first fabulous instalment of our day, Ballgowns.


The exhibition runs over two floors and displays ballgowns from the 1950s right through to the modern day. There were royal rags made by Norman Hartnell and Catherine Walker (remember Princess Diana’s ‘Elvis dress’?) right through to celebrity stunners worn by the likes of Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock and Liz Hurley. There were even gowns made from everyday items like aluminium foil and plastic.

The ‘Elvis Dress’

So after ooh-ing and aah-ing and eew-ing (yes there were some of those too – I am not a fan of Zandra Rhodes or Vivienne Westwood) for about 45 minutes, it was time for a quick break before venturing into the V&A’s newest exhibit, Hollywood Costumes.

(It opened only last week – we are just SO up with the latest you know *wink*)

The three halls – Deconstruction, Dialogue and Finale – contained over 100 original costumes from the last century of Hollywood films. There was the iconic, the heroic and the historic – Star Wars and Superman, The Birds and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Elizabeth and The Iron Lady. We saw Indy, Arnie, Rocky and Neo as well as the yellow track suit from Kill Bill, the white halterneck from The Seven Year Itch, the green velvet ‘curtain’ dress from Gone With The Wind and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy Gale’s gingham dress and ruby slippers, worn by Judy Garland in 1939, are one of the last exhibits. You know you are not done until you see these.

Speaking of wizardry, the behind-the-scenes notes along the way gave a really intriguing insight into the development of character through costume as the art of costume design morphed from stand out to understated and back again before our very eyes. And after almost two hours of wandering down celluloid lane, I can tell you that David Prowse (Darth Vader) is really tall, Robert de Niro is an absolute chameleon and you should definitely book yourself a ticket to this before it closes in January 2013.

After almost three hours of glam, it was time for a little refreshment so it was off to The Pelham (near South Kensington Station) for a spot of my sort of tea, the champers kind.

There was a cosy fire, a glass of champagne and plenty of sandwiches, scones and cakes to enjoy as we chatted about what a great time we’d had at the exhibitions and stretched our aching feet towards the warmth of the hearth.

Post champers cakes at The Pelham. The raspberry macaroons were uh-maaayzing!

(There may also have been a slightly congratulatory tone as we appreciated the brilliance of pre-booking our (timed) V&A tickets instead of dealing with scrum of people who had a three hour wait in front of them. Well done us!)

And so that was our spectacular showbiz Saturday, a perfect way to chase away those looming winter blues and celebrate that sacred triad of all things glam – frocks, flicks and champers.

Cheers!