All posts by Abby Waterman

It’s Sales Time in London again

Sales Time in Mayfair

Why are sales so irresistible, especially if there’s a ‘twofer’ – two for the price of one. I really have more than enough shirts – those I made years ago when I was doing lots of dressmaking are still going strong but I wanted a pink shirt and a white one.

Plenty of shirts to choose from

My favorite shop for them is Hawes and Gieves . The branch in Victoria has now closed but it is no hardship to go to their flagship store in Mayfair’s Jermyn Street and walk through Waterstone’s bookstore to get there.

Just not the pink in my size

It’s not fair – the men’s department had just the colour pink I was looking for – one without a touch of apricot – but they didn’t have a women’s shirt in that pink in my size. Even the smallest men’s shirt was too long and with too long sleeves. But I did find just the plain white shirt I wanted and,  since it was almost a twofer, I also bought a white shirt with a leafy design.

Had to order the pink shirt online!!

The Encounter – Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt at the National Portrait Gallery, London

The Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery

The Encounter – another fascinating exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of 48 drawings by the masters from Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) to Rembrandt (1606-1669).

It shouldn’t surprise me but surprise me it did – seeing how little we’ve changed in the last six centuries. The clothes – especially the hats and hairstyles – may have changed but the expressions, so brilliantly captured by these masters, remain the same.

Old Woman wearing a Ruff and Cap attributed to Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678

This old woman is so brilliantly drawn with the muscles of her cheek pushed up by the fist she is leaning on is one of my favourites. One of the reasons for wearing ruffs was to hide swollen tuberculous neck glands, rare now in the Western word and we don’t wear caps but you could see her or her sister in any present day gathering of old ladies.

 

A souvenir from the small shop in the exhibition

 

I am always a sucker for shops in art galleries. The National Portrait Gallery has a small shop attached to the current exhibition as well as the large shop at the front of the gallery – both full of things you don’t need but must have.

The women on the bag look very serious but if they broke into a smile you could see their like in the streets of London.

A few of Rembrandt’s drawings on the cover of a sketch book

 

A brilliant capture of male faces in these sketches by Rembrandt. I find them very reminiscent of Hokusai’s manga drawings.

I was pleased to find that the exhibition was quite small so I felt up to visiting the portraits on show from the BP Portrait Award 2017 – reviewed here next week.

 

Morley Further Education College, London SE1 7HT

Autumn Course Guide 2017

It’s that time again – enrolment for the Autumn term 2017.

It’s a great time for me – choosing which subjects I’m going to study though, with cuts in funding, courses are much more expensive than they used to be. When I first retired, I could afford to attend courses every day, sometime twice a day, but the cost is now prohibitive though still excellent value.

 

I took some Summer Courses this year including  an excellent two-day ‘Getting to know your digital camera’ at Morley. I have a Canon Compact camera and feel most ashamed that I’ve been using it entirely on Automatic when it has so many facilities you only get with an SLR.  Shame on me.

I use Photoshop CC for touching up my images but the course introduced me to Lightroom – a whole new ballpark. I’ve ordered a couple of manuals from my library and will see which I prefer – pros and cons!!

Woman in a White Coat – Final Draft!! Now to ePublish it

A selection of books recommended by the staff at Foyles

Now that I finished the final draft Woman in a White Coat I’ve been scouring Waterstone’s and Foyles for ideas for the cover. Also looked at covers by designers who entered for The Academy of British Cover Design awards.

I know I’d like to have a white shiny cover and I’ve seen quite a few that I like, but unfortunately mainstream publishers rarely include the name of the cover designer.

Herewith a taster – the beginning of Chapter 3 of Woman in a White Coat

A Country at War

We were tired and hungry, my sister Hannah and I, as we stood waiting in Littleport Village Hall, waiting to be chosen by someone, anyone.

‘Don’t snivel,’ Hannah said. ‘No-one will take us in if they see you crying.’

She pushed my hand away.

‘You’re too old to hold hands Abby, and anyhow your hands are always wet and sticky.’

Operation Pied Piper’, the plan for the evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed, was in place long before World War 2 was declared. People in safe areas with spare bedrooms were urged to take in evacuees. They would be paid 10/6d a week for the first child and 8/6d for each subsequent child. Nearly a million children were evacuated on Friday September 1st, 1939. London railway stations were packed with children and whole trains were commandeered.

Parents had been given a list of clothing to pack. Girls needed 1 spare vest, 1 pair of knickers, 1 petticoat, 1 slip, 1 blouse, 1 cardigan, a coat or Mackintosh, nightwear, a comb, towel, soap, face-cloth, boots or shoes and plimsolls.

Continue reading Woman in a White Coat – Final Draft!! Now to ePublish it

Mary Berry’s Fruity Banana Bread

Another successful recipe

Louise had some over-ripe bananas left over after our weekend with her in San Sebastian so she tried both of Mary Berry’s Banana loaf recipes from her Complete Cookbook.

Louise preferred the recipe called Fruity Banana Bread but thought it a bit sweet, so I reduced the sugar from 175gm to 150gm. The sultanas looked well-distributed but next time I might toss them in a little of the flour to be sure.

We both omitted the glace cherries in the original recipe and I prefer to use pecan nuts. They keep better than walnuts which tend to become bitter.

Recipe

Continue reading Mary Berry’s Fruity Banana Bread

Hokusai ‘Beyond the Great Wave’ at the British Museum

Beyond the Great Wave

A wonderful exhibition of Hokusai’s work, all the better for having seen the excellent documentary  ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ beforehand. It was shown both at the British Museum and at a selection of cinemas as well as on BBC4 where it can be seen on iPlayer.

During his lifetime, Hokusai (1760-1849) adopted upwards of 20 different names. He adopted this last one – Hokusai – when he was 70, meaning ‘Old Man Crazy to Paint.’

Nichiren and Shichimen daimyojin

The exhibition shows his work from his old age and we are amazed at the quality of the line and colour. Before that, most of his work was reproduced as woodcuts and a video shows the consummate skill with which the finest of lines are carved. I particularly liked ‘The Gamecock and Hen’ painted 1826-1834.

And loved this gem showing his signature dragon as well as the deity Nichiren.

Cushions and other artefacts based on Hokusai prints

He made hundreds of little drawings – manga then meaning ‘random’, which show his wicked sense of humour.

Always a selection of interesting artefacts related to the current exhibition in the Grenville Room, the more exclusive shop on the right near the main entrance.
Josh found this Toilet Bowl Cleaner while surfing the web. Hokusai seemed to have been such a jokey person – I think he would have appreciated the humour!! Certainly, some of his drawings were quite racy.

If you can’t get to the British Museum, do watch the film ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ on iPlayer.

Canaletto and The Art of Venice at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Also with paintings and drawings by his contemporaries

Another fascinating exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Queen’s own collection.

I can take or leave Canaletto’s paintings – they all look too similar to me and too yellow – nothing like the colourful Venice of my memory – but I loved his drawings – especially the early designs for the theatre., where he started his career. His drawings show his great sense of humour as well as his compassion.

 

A view of the Rialto

His paintings and drawings of Venice would have been a must for wealthy Englishmen making their Grand Tour.

Interesting drawings and paintings by his contemporaries included some by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.

We have George III to thank for the collection. He bought Joseph Smith’s entire stock for £20,000 in 1762 – some 15,000 books, 500 paintings, drawings etc.

I personally prefer Canaletto’s paintings of London and its surroundings, carried out during his repeated visits to England 1746-1755, but obviously not included in this exhibition.

Giacometti at Tate Modern

The long thin sculptures we associate with Giacometti

Another interesting retrospective of Giacometti’s work, though I preferred the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait gallery with lots more paintings and a broader view of his oeuvre. You can’t get very close to his small elongated sculptures and from the distance you are kept from them it’s hard to distinguish one from another

Most of the exhibits were sculptures – a surprising number of lifelike  heads in the multitude in Room 1, as well as some of his signature long thin sculptures. Once again I was frustrated by having the titles of everything so far from the objects.

The enormous double life-size sculptures in the last room were amazing but one of the best things in the exhibition was the film about him, showing the amazing care with which his clay figurines were made – his hands darting rapidly from eyes, to crown and to mouth, modelling with fingers, knives or modelling tools.

The Giacometti posters against a backdrop of the River Thames and St Paul’s

For some reason, the coffee on the exhibition floor is always better than that in the downstairs café and the view from the balcony of the 3rd exhibition floor is stunning.

 

Always lots of merchandising!!

Looking around gallery shops is always a pleasure, though we might buy a couple of things for the grandchildren, rarely for ourselves. We have accumulated too many things!!

 

20 Years On – My Super Dental Hygienist

My Hygienist’s Lair

I have been going to the same dental hygienist for over 20 years. Hard to think her strapping 26-old son was just a toddler when I was first referred to the practice and we exchanged stories about our families. At the time I was well on the way to peridontitis – inflammation of the gums – as well as accumulating masses of calculus – tartar.

In all that time I’ve only needed one new filling and one filling re-done. I’m lucky. I seem to have outgrown caries. But i grind my teeth at night – it’s called Bruxism – and over the nearly 80 years I’ve had my permanent teeth, my grinding has split most of my back teeth. When the split involved the pulp – the central ‘nerve’ – I had to have those teeth root-filled. After some years, one of them developed an abscess and couldn’t be saved so I had to have it extracted.

Still – two fillings and one extraction over 20 years isn’t bad and I’m sure my charming hygienist is responsible for keeping my teeth and gums as healthy as that.

Thank you N.S.

Delicious Austrian Cheesecake – Another Mary Berry winner

 

Published by Dorland Kindersley 2012

I’ve yet to try a Mary Berry recipe that doesn’t turn out well and the publishers, Dorland Kindersley, use an excellent photographer to illustrate her books.

I hate cookbooks without illustrations – I like to have some idea of what I am aiming for. Shame not all the recipes in her latest book Everyday are illustrated.

Josh fancied the recipe for a baked cheesecake in his newspaper. It looked a bit weird to me so I consulted my favourite Mary Berry book and found this recipe for Austrian Cheesecake.

Tastes as good as it looks

 

Delicious and nice not having a biscuit base. Not so clingy or filling. Freezes well – if you don’t scoff it all!!

 

 

Recipe Continue reading Delicious Austrian Cheesecake – Another Mary Berry winner