Category Archives: London

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

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.

MADE Craft Fair Bloomsbury Part 2

Alexa Simone Cushions

I had only recently made new covers for our scatter cushions or I’d have been very tempted to buy some of these cushions by Alexa Simone.

Jane Sedgwick Beads

 

 

Jane Sedgwick’s stand reminded me of kindergarten and how satisfying it is to thread wooden beads .

Sally McGill’s delicate ceramics

 

 

Gorgeous delicate ceramics by Sally McGill. Alas, absolutely no room in our flat for any more.

 

The sweet smell of lavender

 

Delighted to smell lavender as we passed Prilly Lewis’s stand and so pleased my sense of smell is getting stronger all the time.

Didn’t realise that some mixtures of Herbes de Provence contain lavender leaves as well as savory, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and oregano, but of course, rosemary and lavender are closely related.

My I remind you If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat, and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.

MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

Another great craft show

We always enjoy Tutton and Young’s annual MADE craft fairs.

The show held in the Mary Ward House in Bloomsbury is the most convenient for us though we traipsed out to Canada Water for their excellent show in March. Perhaps one year we’ll go to Brighton for their show there and we look forward to their fair in Marylebone this October.

Set of generous sized mugs by Iris de la Torre

 

Now that Josh and I are 87 and 85 respectively, over the years we’ve accumulated so many ‘things’ that it’s hard to find something to buy. Our four children are near to their fifties too so they’re in a similar position.

Delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake

Our son Simon and his wife were coming for  tea before visiting the Hockney Exhibition at Tate Britain. Amy likes a generous cup ,so we were delighted to find these delightful mugs by Mexican-born Iris de la Torre.

I got up at dawn and made this delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake with a recipe from a John Lewis publication. This cake is  a family favourite. In there’s any left over it freezes well!!

Recipe

Continue reading MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

I shall wear purple ….

Pericallis Senetti in the courtyard to our flats

As I walked past the purple CinerariaPericallis Senetti – the gardeners had newly planted in our courtyard, I was reminded of Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning

‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me
. . . . ‘

Like everyone who voted it Britain’s favourite poem in 1996, I’ve always liked it, especially now I’ve grown old myself.

However, alhough purple is my favourite colour, the only purple garment I have is a Marks and Spencer purple button-to-the neck cardigan. Perhaps it’s time to go shopping for purple.

Delighted to get back another speedy and positive review of Chapter 1 of my memoir Woman in a White Coat. Thank you N.

Email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com to be sent the first chapter of Woman in a White Coat. If you comment, I will send you another. Look forward to hearing  from you.

Waitrose at Nine Elms, Battersea

Fresh Meat and Fish counter

I find the Little Waitrose shops unsatisfactory as they seem to specialise in sandwiches and ready meals – none of which I ever buy. And they always seem to be out of stock of the specialities I’m after.

Fruit and vegetables singly and in packets

The nearest big Waitrose for us is at Brunswick Square but it’s often difficult to find a parking space and the underground car park is cold and miserable. Traffic is often very difficult driving to the Kings Cross store.

Delicious-looking sushi

We were therefore delighted to find the new 18,000 sq ft Waitrose at Nine Elms which opened last November. It has a large easily accessible car park, a coffee bar – as well as free drinks if you have a My Waitrose card.

Situated in the rapidly developing new embassy district to which the US and Netherlands Embassies will be moving, once the rumoured 2000 homes are completed the store will no doubt be a mecca for foodies.

Westminster Cardiac Support Group

I never felt after my various other medical catastrophes including breast cancer and a broken hip that I wanted to join a support group. As far as I was concerned, I knew how I needed to come to terms with my extra disability and I just got on with it.

However, St Thomas’s Hospital Critical Care consultants arranged first a follow up clinic for patients who had been in Intensive Care and then scheduled Evening Support (Discussion) groups for survivors and close relations.

I was surprised and delighted with how helpful and reassuring it was to talk to people who had been in a similar situation and with whom I could swap war stories.

I had a particular lurid crop of hallucinations after my heart attack last August – up to 80% of patients in critical care experience some delusions that seem very real to us. Mine will be going into the Final Chapter of my nearly finished memoir.

I loved hearing about those that other patients had. One man was convinced burglars came in the night and stole all the hospital’s bandages. The nurses’ denials didn’t convince him one bit. One of my delusions was that Damien Hurst and Jeff Koons had presented the High Dependence Unit with priceless artefacts. My response was that they made the ward look untidy!!

Pimlico Library on the corner of Lupus Street

The Library Manager of Pimlico Library has kindly offered us a meeting room for our proposed Westminster Cardiac Support Group for one evening a month , There is a pleasant -looking coffee bar upstairs for anyone who comes early and we would provide water and soft drinks during the meeting. It also has a toy library!!

A quiet corner showing the entrance to the meeting room

Buses #C10, 24 and 360 stop outside, for the good walkers both Victoria and Pimlico Undergrounds are in walking distance and there is a lift down to the library level.

It’s a very generous offer and I hope plenty local post-cardiac catastrophe patients and their near-ones will come.

Pimlico Library

This is a large library with a huge range of facilities serving the general public and Pimlico Academy.

Locations and contact details

Opening hours

Day Main library
Monday to Friday 9.30am to 8pm
Saturday 9.30am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm

Facilities and services