Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Floral Close-ups

The garden beauties were ready for their close-up tonight...
A host of mini golden daffodils:
Sumptuously blowsy apple blossom crowning the rosemary below...
The resplendent clean-scented rosemary, in all her flowering glory...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Floral Moments

"Oh, to be in England! Now that April's there"... so said Robert Browning, in 'Home Thoughts from Abroad' in the 19th Century.

We've been lucky, in London, this April (especially over the past few days) with gorgeous sunshine and relatively balmy temperatures.  I love my little garden, so thought I should share some pics with you... Daffodils aren't usually one of favourites but I couldn't resist these little cuties, to the left (above) on my marble table.

It's a shame you can't get the full benefits of the apple blossom, to the right in this picture - it's very lovely... I adore the contrast with the vast rosemary bush beneath (one of my favourite scents - very invigorating and clean) strewn with delightful lilac-purple flowers.

Inside my little house, the deliciously fragrant theme continues with these stunningly gorgeous, deeply-scented pink lilies.  Ah! little pleasures...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bankside Walk

On the sunniest Saturday of the year, so far (not difficult), I decided it was time to treat myself to a wander along Bankside, in London's buzzing Southwark.  Perhaps not the greatest of plans, as the rest of London and its environs appeared to have had the same idea.  It was heaving and not the best for someone who likes to move at more than a snail's pace...

The views were gorgeous though.  I never fail to relish gazing across the river at Sir Christopher Wren's regal Saint Paul's.
The pic above shows the dotty Tate transfer boat which conveys visitors between the two London Tate gallery sites (the original at Vauxhall and the Modern at Bankside). The boat is easy to recognise, decorated with multi-hued dots, although they can't be spotted clearly in this pic...

I love the contrast one gets when meandering further, as the scenery across the river Thames evolves to encompass the old and the new.  An elegant countering of the recently built (although no longer wobbly) Millennium Bridge leading to Saint Paul's on the other side.
There's so much to see, from a cost-free walk, to a visit to the Tate(s), a riverboat trip (learning about the history along the way), a drink at a pub, or the lovely bar at the Globe Theatre (rebuilt by the inspirational Sam Wanamaker in the 1990s).  On Thursday, Friday and the weekend, wander further along the river (with a detour at the moment) and take-in the joys and delectations at Borough Market.

I extended my walk to revisit Borough Market (which I love, even though I always feel it doesn't quite have the intrinsically natural, unpretentious attributes of many a local market in France and Italy).  I made a new discovery there, yesterday - the enticing Turkish delight stall with its colourfully authentic, myriad varieties. I was most impressed by the chewy mastic variant, made with Mastic gum from the island of Chios (used to produce the original chewing gum) with multiple digestive health benefits (probably better as a treat, though, due to the high sugar content).

An entertaining, and unanticipated highlight was encountered when I got lost during my meanderings and came across this original sign outside an old housing estate in Southwark.  Aren't unexpected 'treasures' one of the best aspects about walking and getting lost (safely) in a city...
Many today could do with heeding those words...

If you fancy your own wander along Bankside, there are many ways of getting there. Take the train (or a bus) to Waterloo or Waterloo East.  Get the tube (when it's running) to Southwark, or, if you have more time, go for the full river experience on a boat - perhaps opt for the journey from green and regal Greenwich in SE10. When using public transport in London, your best bet is always to use an Oyster Card as the savings on costly fares are considerable.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quotes of the Day...

It was a curious one, yesterday, unprecedented in the UK, on two levels:  first, the dramatic implications of the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud - halting all air travel in our vicinity.  Those who ranted about not being able to travel might better understand the safety concerns, if they had read London's Metro newspaper.  Captain Eric Moody was piloting for British Airways in Indonesia, in 1982.  All four engines scarily came to a halt - thanks to a cloud of volcanic ash, emanating from Mount Galunggung.  Captain Moody kept his calm but later described the experience as, (according to Thursday's Metro), "a bit like negotiating one's way up a badger's arse". 

Earlier in the day, I had to smile, while listening to BBC London Radio's Breakfast Show. A Financial Times journalist reviewing the day's papers, referred to the PM (or was it the Tory leader?), inadvertently, as 'Gordon Cameron'!  Perhaps that goes part way to explaining why Nick Clegg came out top of the political TV first, last night...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dear John

Curiously, there appear to be a couple of themes running in my life at the moment... I'm not in the habit of putting US blockbusters at the top of my 'must-see' film list but on Monday I was invited to a preview of Dear John.  Set in South Carolina, with its gloriously unspoilt beaches, it brings to the screen the popular novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Very watchable - thanks to the cast, led by pocket-sized, blonde-of-the-moment: Amanda Seyfried, and hunky teen heart-throb: Channing Tatum; directed by Lasse Hallstrom, (whose previous works include Gilbert Grape and Chocolat).  The backdrop of languid beach life and local parties contrasts intensely with the (sanitised) realities of the war zone locations that protagonist John is sent to.

Poignancy is a prevalent theme throughout - thanks to the central love story - by way of Aspergers and terminal cancer.  If you're after a light, entertaining (and undemanding) emotional escape, that's beautifully shot, it's worth seeing.

Picture credits:
Myrtle Beach sunset pic courtesy of South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Film Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Late Easter Taste Test

How was your Easter break? Mine was enjoyably spent catching-up with friends (and chores...less so) and completely chocolate-free. Not that I felt deprived...

On Tuesday, I received a late Easter goody bag from London-based Chocolate & Love via Fuelmyblog.

Two foodie friends, and I, dived into the organic 100g bars of Filthy Rich (71% cocoa solids) and Crushed Diamonds (enriched with cocoa nibs) but found them far less remarkable than the truly divine 40g raw Conscious bar - infused with chili (cayenne), cinnamon and Himalayan salt. It was the supreme star of the show.  A little goes a long way - fortunately - as it sells for £2.88.

The texture was meltingly creamy (thanks to the coconut butter); in spite of the fact that it's healthily vegan. Additionally, because it's not heat-treated, it has mineral-packed benefits and is only sweetened with a little agave nectar  - making it a better blood sugar bet than mainstream chocolate.