Mr.B @ Studio North & The Canal

I never saw how quickly Mr.B’s tiny feet could move!
He darted towards the exit as soon as I put him down on the floor, never looking back.
He was scampering away from the vet in his fifth gear. You never know how hard a mere 2 kg Chihuahua can pull!  Anyway, Mr.B slowed down to a cruising speed once he thought the danger was over and we pottered along New North Road, the southbound.

Then, we came across a jewellery studio…

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We hardly came this way on foot therefore it had slipped below our radar…

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One of the designers, Chrysanthe, showed me a collection of mainly silver jewellery they created at the premises…

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On the wall, there were coloured architectural drawings…

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Chrysanthe explained to me that her husband who shared the studio as his architectural practice, had participated in Open House London 2013 last weekend and the drawings were a part of the exhibits.

Mr.B had a good nosing around of the shop floor…

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The works exhibited there were distinctly original and innovative.
Highly recommended to pay a visit if you are in & around the area.

After leaving the studio, we turned into Linton Street.
What a beautiful day!

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The sky was criss-crossed with vapour trails…

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Hello, Bilbo barge…

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While Mr.B waited in the carrier by the chair, I chatted to Lorraine…

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Lorraine was just releasing a lemon drizzle sponge from the tin when we dropped in…

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The sponge was cut in half and, she spread ginger preserve very very carefully…

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Then, the other half of the cake was placed on top of it. Tickety-boo!

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Ta-dah, my tea & cake at the canal! Absolutely priceless…

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Once Lorraine finished a meeting with her plumber, we had a good old chitchat in the sun…

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Mr.B nibbled on the cake too. Oh I mustn’t forget to brush his teeth once we’ve got home…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mr.B & Day Out @ Essex Road

Last Thursday, Me.S & I set out to the vet on foot.
Mr.B, being a rather reluctant stroller, required 3F treatment – Fair, Firm & Friendly – from me time to time. Still, we managed to reach Essex Road without too much trouble.
The time was just after 1pm so we decided to have a quick bite at Food Lab…

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Ohhhh, I think I’m gonna have a small plate of salad!
I was visiting Lorraine at her barge cafe for tea & cake later on. Therefore, the lunch mustn’t be too heavy…

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We sat at one of the picnic tables by the pavement…

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Mmmm…, they look good…

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The salad was flavoured beautifully and the bread was delicious. Mr.B enjoyed a few morsels as well.

After lunch, we headed to our primary destination, the vet.
Mr.B sussed out imminent danger to his mental well-being by a doggie sixth sense. As the result, he stopped dead on the spot and refused to budge! Oh dear, I have to stuff you in the carrier then. *SIGH*

At the vet, we picked up a pipette which was missing from the box of Advocate we bought the other day.
Then, we were asked if Mr.B could model some of the doggie clothing they were selling in the pet shop.
I was more than happy to oblige though Mr.B thought otherwise…

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Mr.B’s solo fashion show commences.
Mr.B in a hoodie gilet…

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Mr.B in a Barbour coat…

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Mr.B in a granddad pullover…

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Mr.B in a check anorak with faux fur hoodie…

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I wasn’t sure how Mr.B found it but I and the staff had plenty of “ooh” & “ahh” and fits of giggles…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Victoriana @ Guildhall Art Gallery

Do you like the Victorian?
The Victorian era started as Queen Victoria ascended to the throne on 20th June 1837 and came to close on 22nd January 1901 with her death.
It may sound pathetically shallow but the era had been my least favourite period of the British history solely because of its distinctive aesthetic. For example, the architecture in the Victorian era looked like a mimic of its medieval counterpart. The excessive amount of motifs related to gothic artefacts employed in & around the buildings which emerged during the Victorian time connoted the general mood of the era – “Piety”.
They were crammed in with such vigour, like Norma Kamali in the ’90s did with her power shoulders.

Another image sprang up in my head when I thought about the Victorian was the interior of  the gothic mansion in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. In my memory (therefore, it could be wrong), everywhere was covered with a decaying pattern of mediocre quality which added power to the already claustrophobic atmosphere of the film.
I thought everything to do with the Victorian was a bad taste and kitsch.

Then, one programme I came across by chance on BBC4 made me reconsider about my prejudice against the era.
“Pugin: God’s Own Architect” featured a long misunderstood and less appreciated Victorian architect, Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin. He was a dynamo behind designing the iconic clock tower of Big Ben as well as the Palace of Westminster. The programme recounted how he came to shape the Gothic Revival style and his tragically early demise – he was only 40 years old.
The programme also shone a light on the Victorian psyche – the undercurrent of the ordinary people who were deeply indignant about the Georgian era which was rampant with debauchery and blasphemy. The growing concern of the bourgeois class, including Pugin, regarding social & moral degeneration,was a catalyst of the change which propelled them to lead a polar opposite lifestyle. In the Victorian society, social unrest such as the French Revolution was far from being a distant memory. The people’s desire for living in a romanticised medieval Christian civic order was reflected on the surge of demand for Gothic inspired style and fashion.

The general trend which defines the era tends to oscillate between two extremes. The Georgian vs the Victorian was a classic example. Then, how about Modernism vs Postmodern?
Futuristically svelte buildings of the pre & post WW II were replaced with counterparts heavily encrusted with classical motifs. Like history repeating itself, the excessive ’80s was followed up by the pared-down ’90s which celebrated the aesthetic of John Pawson & Calvin Klein.

When I was flicking through nearly a month old copy of Time Out during my nightly soak in an Epsom salt bath, I came across this exhibition “Victoriana” at Guildhall Art Gallery in the City.
Hmmm.., sounds interesting.
Since the Guildhall was just a short bus ride away from me, I decided to pay a visit.

The Guildhall with its marbled forecourt…

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“Victoriana: The Art of Revival” was curated by Sonia Solicari, head of Guildhall Art Gallery. The exhibits comprised with the works by contemporary artists who were inspired by the Victorian era…

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As I descended the stairs. I was greeted with… insects!
My apology to all nature loving bloggers & readers but I am not very comfortable with any creatures with legs more than four…

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It was a part of the installation by Tessa Farmer, titled ” THE MINION AMBUSHED BY A MOB OF FAIRIES”.
She utilised an existing marble statue owned by the Guildhall and combined it with her signature touch of presenting exquisitely preserved insects which were implied to be the fairies in this exhibit.

The show at the lower ground floor gallery was an intimate affair…

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The works were displayed like curios in any Victorian parlour which added an air of authenticity to the exhibits.

At “Reimagined Parlour”, I was confronted by “TROPHY CHAIR” by Miss Pokeno…

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Since blood sports had become almost a bygone activity of the past, for modern urban dwellers like us, coming face to face with stuffed animals which were displayed as trophies of game, not as precious specimens in the museum, would be an unsettling experience.
Then I thought, what about our present society?
How would the Victorians react to ultra violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto? Wouldn’t they recoil in horror and disgust with the sight of unflinching violence unfolding on the screen?

In here, Rob Ryan, famous for his intricate paper art had fun with traditional Staffordshire ceramics…

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“I REMEMBER, NOBODY REMEMBERS” showed his interest in the nature of mass production which started in the 19th century.

We do have a lot in common with the Victorians. Probably, much more than we ever imagine.
After all, love it or hate it, the Victorian style was the very first cultural trend created by the public, not by any privileged ruling class.

Hubbie & I came across this building while we were sauntering around Brick Lane yesterday…

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The window detail was unmistakably Victorian…

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The stone on the wall by the entrance indicated that the building was opened on April the 20th 1887…

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The presence of the Victorians is still all around us, If only we care to look more attentively…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Paper @ Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

On Sunday, we decided to check out the Saatchi Gallery at the Duke of York’s HQ off Sloane Square. One of my favourite WordPress bloggers, Sequins and Cherry Blossom, reviewed the current exhibition “Paper” recently and I was very much intrigued by it.
So, there we were, having parked our car successfully on a single yellow line on Clivedon Place and striding happily towards the gallery. As we turned into Sloane Square, guess who we bumped into? Mr.Saatchi himself! He was standing in front of the brassiere, Colbert, chatting to his female companion.
Once we reached another side of the square, Hubbie joked, ‘At least, he wasn’t grabbing her throat’. Oh, what a thing to say! I was fascinated to see Mr.Saatchi in the flesh. Does he always dress in the same manner? A white shirt with a dark blue / black suit paired with super shiny brogues. Does he have a row of identical suits neatly displayed in a grand walk-in closet in his mansion? And a pile of neatly hand pressed identical shirts on the shelf?
Hmmm… It wouldn’t surprise me since he came across to me like a super control freak.

The exhibition “Paper” was an extensive affair. It occupied 10 gallery spaces.
As the title suggested, primary material featured in the exhibition was paper.
The exhibits which caught my attention as it follows.

“Fragments of Time” by Miler Lagos…

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Old newspaper was collated, shaped and coloured as giant twiglets. I thought the work portrayed time and decay poetically.

“Golden Arch Parkway McDonald’s” by Yuken Teruya…

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This artist utilized shopping bags from ordinary commercial outlets for his works.
A part of the bag was cut away to the shape as a tree.

The visitors were captivated by super minuscule bonsais in bags…

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The works put a smile on every visitor’s face.

“Nature Scene 2011” by Tom Thayer…

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Puppet-like cranes stood pensively in front of the image of the tree graced with birds in all shapes and colours.
The piece was adorned with coloured papers which resembled an elaborate embroidery.

“Love Nothing More” by Storm Tharp…

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“Window 2010” by Storm Tharp…

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The method employed on each painting depicted features of its sitter with surprising canniness. It was enchanting.

“Kite-Planes” by Marcelo Jácome…

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The work resembled a flock of colourful birds flying out from their waterhole in the African savannah.

“Floating City” by Han Feng…

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The delicate piece was made with tracing paper.
Each paper block had an image of building superimposed. And they were clustered together to have the look of a city block…

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Fragile pieces were suspended from the ceiling and created a dreamlike floating cityscape.

The present Saatchi Gallery is much more suitable for modern art exhibitions than the previous one at the County Hall, a former HQ of Greater London Council…

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Neutral backdrops and diffused overall lighting, as well as plenty of space to walk around and examine the works, they are essential criteria for any gallery which houses modern art, especially oversized sculptural works.
At the Saatchi Gallery, it was achieved flawlessly.

After satisfying our eyes, we decided to do likewise to our stomach.
‘Do you fancy Dutch pancake?’ ‘Oh yeah, please!’
We headed to My Old Dutch, Holborn.

Nursing latte, we waited for our pancake impatiently…

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We both ordered the same thing.
My Old Dutch – smoked bacon, chicken, ham, sweet pepper, mushrooms, sweet corn & cheese.
The pancake may appear massive at first glance. However, the dough is paper-thin therefore much lighter than pizza…

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Apart from their Amsterdammer – sautéed apple & smoked bacon with maple syrup, we’ve never tried anything else.
I know I should be more imaginative and adventurous.
Maybe I could order Chicken Curry (pancake with basmati rice?! Do they really go together?) or Chill Con Came (pancake with Mexican twist?) so I wouldn’t be such a food bore.
However, Dutch pancake appeals to me only when I want predictable & soothing fare.

Their Dutch apple pie is one of the best in town…

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A perfect amount of cinnamon! Yum!!
Damn, we should have ordered it one each, instead of sharing one like a goody two shoes…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tea & Cake @ Regent’s Canal

After satisfying myself with vintage-browsing, I headed home via Regent’s Canal.
The path leading towards the canal was paved with cobbles and the angle was steep…

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The hue of leafage matured and deepened which made the foliage appeared denser and if not slightly doleful.
Even those barges floating on soupy water of the canal looked to be holding their breath.

It was overcast and windless. The canal reflected its surrounding like a mirror…

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Regent’s Canal was constructed in the early 19th Century under the supervision of Prince Regent’s pet architect,
John Nash. It starts from Paddington Basin, flows through Little Venice, Camden Lock, St.Pancras Lock and arrives at City Road Basin, my neighbourhood…

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‘Oh I wish if I could sit down with a cup of tea’, I sighed.
My hand started to ache with the weight of my shopping bag which I stuffed overzealously at M&S, Angel.
Then, a canal boat with a teapot sign on its roof appeared in the distance like a mirage!
Am I daydreaming?…

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It was a barge converted to a floating cafe!
I was less than 10 minutes walk away from home. However the allure of this unusual place was too strong to resist.
Who can forgo an opportunity to have tea at a cute cafe like this?…

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The mistress of the barge was Lorraine, a charming lady with the Land Girl hair do and twinkling blue eyes.
When I asked about cakes on offer, she brought out a cake tin, piping hot from the oven!

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Ahhh, a freshly baked cake! I must have it with my tea.
The cake was concocted from the mixture of banana, plantain, apple, walnuts and caraway seed and it was truly scrumptious. Especially, the plantain, I never tasted it in my life but I am a convert now.

The cafe offers not only tea & cake but also freshly cut sandwich and home-made soup daily between Wednesday to Sunday…

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However, the barge may change its location time to time. Therefore, please check an update on their Facebook page.

Sipping tea from a proper china set and munching on a home-baked cake by the canal…

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Mmmm… Priceless…
A breather like this is so necessary in hectic urban life. Without it, time will just roll by at an alarming pace, leaving one with nothing worthy to recollect at the end of the day.
As I will have to go back to Mr.B’s vet on Thursday in order to sort out the discrepancy caused by their mistake, I may drop by to pay a quick homage to the cafe again.
Any excuse will do to have another cuppa (& possibly a cake) by the canal with ducks and geese…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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