Saturday, February 20, 2010

Magical Midsummer Night's Dream at the Rose

Yesterday may have been a freeezing winter's night (-4ºc), in riverside Kingston-upon-Thames, but the lucky Rose audience enjoyed a heart-warming performance of Shakespeare's most hilarious work. A packed house reveled in the fantastic ensemble performances of Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Sir Peter Hall. Dame Judi Dench revisited her 1960's role as Faerie Queen Titania - fabulously and fittingly. Dame Diana Rigg's daughter, Rachael Stirling, was magnificent and remarkable as lovelorn Helena; her (real-life) boyfriend, Oliver Chris, was stupendous as hyper-enthused, Brummie-accented, Bottom.

The entire audience appeared enraptured; I truly loved it and found the whole spectacle even better than I had anticipated. Endearingly, 14 local children participated, along with the professionals, as elves. The whole run is pretty much sold-out but 20 tickets will be released, for each performance, on a daily basis - for Kingston residents only, until 6pm, and thereafter any remaining will become available to all. Boy, that Shakespeare had a way with words and wit! If you're anywhere near the Rose Theatre and can get a ticket (it runs until 20th March), don't miss out...

Photo by Nobby Clark shows Dame Judi Dench as Titania and Oliver Chris - resplendent in ass-head - as Bottom.

Monday, February 15, 2010

With Love from Gordon...

Valentine's night and the (um) perfect programme on ITV - get to know Gordon Brown's private world...via Piers Morgan's Life Stories (I was going to say intimately but it didn't quite go that far). Few recent programmes have attracted such pre-airing hype, so how did he do?

I can't honestly say that the programme really changed my opinion of our (un-elected) PM. He has always seemed like a decent man to me, very much 'what you see is what you get' as some of his attempts (YouTube-style) at being a smiley superstar show - merely causing cringing rather than cooing. I remain convinced that he is an extremely bright - probably kind - and decent man, more conducive to the role of friendship than leadership.

When asked about his romantic, beach-set, marriage proposal to love of his life, Sarah, one could tell that he was genuinely bashful and bashfully genuine. Exploring his feelings about the tragically short-lived existence of his first-born, Jennifer, wasn't easy to witness (nor to see Sarah in the audience, suffering along with him). It was heart-warming though to watch him revel in the joy he gains from his young sons, in spite of the fact that Fraser was born with cystic fibrosis.

I still can't quite get to grips with the fact that, despite his (ahem) magnificent prowess as former Chancellor of the Exchequer, he didn't see a hint of the protracted, far-reaching economic disasters looming. I'm still paying for my adherence to his recommendations of prudence...

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tribute to Fashion Superstar, McQueen

I've just heard the tragic news that wonderful, earthy, super-talented four-times British Designer of the Year, Alexander McQueen, is dead - at just 40 years old. I feel deeply shocked and just want to express my deepest condolences to his friends and family. What a loss for the fashion industry and all those who appreciate his beautiful designs. Rest in peace, Alexander!

Photo is by Michelle Ng, from Wikimedia Commons, and depicts an outfit from McQueen's October 2009 catwalk show.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pumpkin passion (aka healthy comfort food)

Pardon the poor quality photo but I couldn't resist giving you my take on one of the latest stars of the food-blog cognoscenti. Kabocha squash is a true gem in the vegetable world. A thing of great beauty it may not be but in terms of nutritional value and deep yumminess it rates an A grade, every time.

Housed in rough, dark-green skin with pale stripes; the deep russet-orange hue of its densely-fleshed interior gives an indication of its nutritious virtues. Low in calories (around 35 per 85g) it has a naturally sweet, chestnutty, rich creamy-textured taste. Abundantly endowed with quality beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamins B, C, K, fibre, potassium and some calcium.

It's a true convenience food too, as it keeps for a good month after purchase, prior to use. The most difficult aspect involved in its preparation is breaking into its tough outer green 'shell'. Be sure to use a very sharp knife and cut with caution, to avoid spearing your own flesh!

Portion into slices (without removing the skin), place in a baking tray and cook for around 30 minutes in a hot oven (I used a fan oven at 180º). It's worth checking-on, mid-way through, as the thinner outer edges of the slices will char quickly and easily, so it's best to turn them over, at the half-way point. That's when you can also sprinkle with olive oil (sesame would work as an eastern-influenced alternative) and a little ground sea salt and black pepper. Enjoy on their own, as a wonderful complement to a grilled salmon fillet, with a delicious salad, or as part of a fabulous vegetable selection plate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Natural Beauty

A favourite wonder, in my world, is the joy I take-in from the beauty of sunsets. I can rarely resist taking a photo when the opportunity arises. Last night featured a magnificent display of horizontal pink-and-blue layers - too bad I didn't have my camera on me to capture it!

However, this was another striking example that impressed its beauty upon me when I returned home at an opportune moment, recently... Where have you spotted your most impressive sunset?