Bella & snow

It is snowing in London!

And my girl Bella had experienced the snow for the first time this morning…

I am jogging my memory but I can’t recall if we had any snowfall in the city during last winter. Even if we had, it probably wasn’t very much. Not as much as to turn the pavements to white.

Bella seemed to be not very sure-footed…

 

But soon, she found these white flakes falling around her fascinating. ‘Where do they come from? What are they?’ She looked up quizzically as she chased after them.

Let’s warm ourselves up at the Pret…

Hubbie had an almond croissant and I had my recent favourite, a praline cookie, and latte…

I shall take Bella to Regent’s Park if we still have a decent amount of the snow left on the ground tomorrow morning…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bellanger @ Islington Green N1

My father-in-law, David, was a Germanophile, therefore, I recommended Bellanger on Islington Green when Hubbie asked where we should take him for lunch. The restaurant was specialised in the Alsatian cuisine and I thought he would enjoy French/German menu.

It must have been the effect of Storm Caroline, the green was a bit breezy…

Hubbie and I frequente this bistro because we like their food but also there is another definite plus point…

Because they are dog-friendly!

Bella earned a big brownie point by being well-behaved while we dined.

Hubbie and David shared Choucroute à l’Alsacienne…

The serving was huge and it even satisfied two very tall men – they were both over 6’4″!

I fancied duck, hence I ordered confit of duck…

I ordered a bowl of mashed potato as a side to go with the duck. However, the tray with the bowl upended by accident while the waiters were serving our plates, and the potato splattered across the floor. Oh dear.

For pudding, Hubbie and I shared blackberry & apple crumble…

We were very very full by the end of the lunch.

Christmas is fast approaching…

For Hubbie’s family, Christmas is a bit tricky time. Hubbie has a brother and they haven’t seen each other in the past two years. It was not that they had a bust-up or anything. But they have never been even close enough to have a quarrel in their life, and as a result, they have drifted apart and had no urge to rekindle a brotherly relationship.

David confessed to me while Hubbie was absent that he wished if they were closer. ‘I think they should meet up for a chat soon.’ I told him that I would pass the message to Hubbie.

And I did tell Hubbie what David confided to me later on. ‘But he never liked me and he doesn’t care.’, Hubbie sighed.

Unfortunately, that is the truth. His brother is a cold man. In the past, he threw cruel personal jokes to Hubbie’s face even I was in front of them – I stood up to him and told him that was not nice while Hubbie tried to make it like it was not a big deal. He made his first wife and their children very unhappy by being totally selfish. And his second wife isn’t treated any better. Why do we want to see someone like that even once a year, especially at Christmas? Even David, his own father, confesses that he is not very happy to spend time with him. Anyway, I have invited David to spend Boxing Day with us so we can have some fun together.

Peace-making must come from both ends if it is to last, I thought as Bella and I visited the park after lunch.

In December, the dusk comes too soon…

Ohhh, I’m so not into Christmas yet…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Magnum Photos Now @ Barbican

A week ago, Hubbie asked if I were interested in going to a lecture by Christopher Anderson at Barbican. ‘Yeah, I am.’ I answered as I sipped my cappuccino.

The lecture Hubbie was talking about was one of the lecture series, Magnum Photos Now, hosted by the Barbican.

Magnum Photos is a world famous photographic agency which is owned and run by its photographer-members. The agency was founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour on 6th February 1947, shortly after the Second World War. They opened a magnum of champagne to celebrate the occasion and as a result, this new co-operative was named as “Magnum”. One of the co-founders, Henri Cartier-Bresson, eloquently put the esprit de corps of the artist collective as “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”

This year, the organisation had become 70 years old and as a part of the celebration, Magnum Photos and the Barbican were hosting a series of lectures.

We arrived at Barbican Centre around 6pm and had a quick bite at a cafeteria within the compound. The sold-out lecture appeared to be very popular and all the people who were milling around the lift hall – the event was to be held in Frobisher Auditorium on the fourth floor – talked excitedly about it.

After queuing for 20 minutes or so, we were finally allowed to proceed to the venue…

Our lecturer was Christopher Anderson. And the subject was about portraiture.

Similar to some of the best known photographers, such as Robert Capa and Don McCullin, Christopher Anderson established his career as a photographer in the early 2000s by covering conflict zones – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine and the resulting works earned him international acclaim and awards.

Since then, he and his subjects have moved closer to home. In his recent project, Stump, which was assigned by Le Monde, he documented the backstage of the 2008 presidential campaign. The result was brutally honest exposure of the American political system, epitomised by the unflattering close-ups of the Washington elites.

Around 7:30pm, Mr.Anderson emerged on the stage and started his talk by saying apologetically, ‘Bear with me until I can wing it.’ And that was exactly what he did.

Unfortunately, the lecture was a flop.

The main problem was how little he was prepared for the talk. He hardly talked anything unique other than jazzing up the sentences with phrases like “Cutting through the noise”, “Emotional quality”, etc. I got increasingly frustrated while he literally “winged it”.

And the lack of chemistry between him and his interviewer, a curator from the National Portrait Gallery also compounded the problem. Can you picture it? While this curator person, rambling away her long abstract questions with her hands flapping like butterfly wings, him, curling up in his chair cross-armed and muttering cagey answers time to time. The way they were made the occasion somehow very awkward for the audience to sit through.

As we left the Barbican, I had to confessed to Hubbie that I was not impressed with the lecture and he agreed. We both agreed that we learnt nothing.

A picture speaks a thousand words. May be Mr.Anderson should have left his photos to do the talking, not himself…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bella & Mulberry Harbour @ Arromanches

On the beach at Arromanches-les-Bains, Normandy, there were gigantic remnants of WWII.

A huge chunk belonged to the once harbour could be reached on foot during the tide was out…

During last September, Hubbie, Bella and I visited Normandy with our friends.

Our two days’ itinerary included a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer and Arromanches which was famous for the Mulberry Harbour B, aka “Port Winston”.

For anyone who is not familiar with Operation Mulberry, I advise you to watch this documentary…


It explains about this phenomenal military project from the conception to the execution.

We parked the car in a car park, facing Gold Beach, one of the five areas of Normandy coast which was assigned to the British Army to take on D-Day…

– a map by Daily Mail
Today, Arromanches was a quiet seaside town with a museum, souvenirs shops and cozy family-run hotels and B&Bs.

Reminders of the history, serenely resting on the beach…

Can you make out where these parts belong to?

An aerial view over the Mulberry Harbour in action…

– an image by the Imperial War Museum.
The photograph shows the enormity of the project.

My girl Bella enjoyed an unhindered run on the beach…

‘Yipee!’

And inspected the harbour…

She had never been to the seaside in her life, therefore, those limpets must have smelt very weird for her. She was absolutely obsessed with them.

And played with a newly found four-legged friend…

 

She was running around like a maniac!

If there were such a thing like a Yorkie brigade, she would most definitely volunteer.

I am a commando!!

As we walked towards one of the towering concrete blocks on the beach, she followed us and we came to a pool of the leftover sea water around the foot of the structure. She seemed to be very intrigued by the water and stared at it for a while. Then next moment, she dived into it! It was not particularly a warm day and the water must have been pretty cold. In the water, she looked rather sheepish and I had to drag her out by her harness.

How did she react after the plunge? She became totally jubilant and euphoric! While I hollered ‘Noooo, Beeeeelllaaaa!!’, she rolled on her back, rubbing her wet coat into the sand. On our way back, we came across another puddle and she stopped in front of it. And before I could stop her, she dived into it again. There was a group of French tourists and they were laughing their heads off, ‘Oh la la!’

Bella the Brave is definitely in favour of amphibious landing, I sighed and picked her up in my arms. By then, she was completely soaked and dripping with the smelly stale sea water and she resembled a rat, not a Yorkie…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Chopper in the park

This afternoon, Bella and I were paying our daily visit to Regents Park and encountered a rather unique sight.

Bella knew something was up…

 

What is it, Bella?

Then, I realised that an air ambulance was circling above us. Wow, it is flying very low, I thought.

Then, it started to descend…

 

The helicopter set itself down on the sports field at Cumberland Gate.

While the rotor was still spinning, a crew came out and stood in front of the craft…

 

I wondered why an air ambulance landed here? Any emergency??

Once the engine was turned off and the rotor had stopped the rotation, a group of the emergency services, who were waiting on the ground, assembled around the helicopter…

All the bystanders, including me, had no idea what was going on. We all found a bit strange that those around the chopper seemed to be not at all in a hurry.

Maybe they are doing some training?

Since London’s threat level regarding terror attacks was still critical, maybe the emergency services, including the air ambulance, were having a coordinated rehearsal.

I wanted to hang around and keep on watching because I didn’t come across a scene like this very often. However, Bella had other idea. ‘Let’s go and chase squirrels!’, she insisted. Oh well, it is maybe too cold to stand around in the windswept park. So we left the park and the chopper behind…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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