Happy return

The weather seems to be finally improving! Is the spring here at last? It is about time we should have a proper springtime, is it not?

Instead of a blanket of grey cloud above us, which was all too familiar for the past few months, there are patches of fluffy white cloud against a backdrop of the baby blue sky. How this makes me feeling uplifted, I can’t emphasise it enough.

Understandably, my furry princess Bella is also very happy with the arrival of warmer (& drier) weather.

Follow me, QUICKLY!!

Yes, yes, I hear you.

As usual, we entered Regents Park via Chester Road, and Bella couldn’t wait being let off-leash.

Look, I am rolling!

I am ecstatic!

It was a pure joy to behold how joyous she was to be doing all things doggie – running around, digging, chasing a ball and rolling on grass.

Well, Bay-Bay. How can I throw a ball if you don’t return it to me!

Clearly, she was itching to chase the ball yet the ball I was supposed to throw was in her mouth! Oh well, never mind.

The ground of the soon-to-be cricket field was still scarcely turfed. The near-boldness of the sports field was the result of being stampeded by the spikes of football boots during the winter months and TLC by the park maintainence crew was very much needed.

Bella’s love of mud and puddle took a toll on her fine fur…

How am I gonna take you home..

She was soggy and smelt like seaweed. Yes, seaweed! Oh, never mind. I’m happy if you are happy.

By the way, a ballista at the Pavilion Café made me a lovely cup of latte…

Isn’t it amazing? I was so reluctant to drink it because it was so cute!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Classic Car Boot Sale

‘I must, must, MUST visit the car boot sale today!’, I insisted. The event I was talking about to Hubbie was not an ordinary weekend bric-a-brac sale but The Classic Car Boot Sale, the most grand, entertaining and spectacular vintage and collectables market I had ever been!

So here we are, at Granary Square behind Kings Cross…

The entree fee was £5.00, more expensive than a normal £1, per person and it was well worth the money. As the name suggested, it was a car boot sale. However, the main attraction was these classic cars displayed all over the venue…

Aren’t they beautiful? Those cars were free from modern injection-moulding plastic but crammed full of immaculately polished handcrafted chrome and walnut. All passers by, including us, were drooling over their shiny body works and lovingly restored interiors.

Another attraction of the event was their well-selected vintage stalls.

Cute tea cups…

Pin cushions looked like cupcakes! Even Bella the Tomboy was very attracted to them…

Picnic paraphernalia for this coming summer?

I always loved men’s vintage clothing even though they were way too large for me…

Hubbie was pondering about the khaki green nylon bag for a while. I thought it could be good for his camera and lenses as the interior of the bag was well padded and had two generously-sized pockets. A man who was manning the stall explained to us that the bag was a real ex-helmet carrier used my an airforce pilot. In the end, he decided not to buy as the bag was not quite large enough for all what he wanted to carry.

There were also lots of toys and memorabilias which made us squeal with delight…

Apparently, Hubbie owned one of those Action Man Sportsman dolls. A doll with full of nylon hair! Unlike plastic hair like Ken!! Cool 😉

Retro-inspired signs made with timber…

A railway sign…

Vintage road signs. They would look great on the wall, don’t you agree?

Vinyls were attracting quite a few serious shoppers…

It was fun to explore hidden treasures and gems….

and also watching stylish vendors and customers in period clothings…

I was drawn to these wooden steps. Aren’t they sweet?

I thought about buying it for our library. However, Hubbie pointed out that it would be far too low for the purpose, and I had to give up the idea reluctantly.

Bella was not interested in shopping…

However, she met loads of furry friends which made her a very happy dog.

‘I WANNA SAY HI TO HIMMMMMM!!’

Mr.Brown was not that into her. Still his response made her satisfied.

‘HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!’

It was great to see Bella was enjoying the event as much as we were.

There was a very odd find amongst heaps of the unique vintage items.

The ladybird Book of The Mid-life Crisis? Is this for real?!

I couldn’t help picking up the book in my hands and flicked it through. Yes, it was for real, and the content was rather depressing. No, I am not taking you home with me, I shook my head and put it back to the box.

Outside of the enclosure in Granary Square was as fun as the inside.

The area was dotted with interesting objects and exhibits.

How about perfect Instagram posts with life-size timber cutouts…

Or marvelling at retro-futuristic cars/motorcycles? How does this one run? I couldn’t figure out. Could you?

Bella the Marmaid loved playing with the mini-fountains…

‘Let’s find some tea & cake!’ We entered the area which was designated for food and drink.

BBQ, Mac n cheese, steak sandwich… Not very migraine detox friendly, we sighed. Then, we spotted a van selling tea and crumpets!

Even though they had no caffeine free beverage, the tea they brew properly in pots looked delicious, therefore, Hubbie had his first normal tea in nearly two months.

Crumpet with butter and raspberry jam!

Ahhh, it tasted fabulous and the tea was divine. The best cuppa I had in a long time.

All in all, we had a great time at the event. And we will definitely be back for another one in future.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Market Cafe, E8

Bella looked bored and I was itching for fresh air. ‘Shall we have lunch at Broadway Market, Bella?’ I put a collar around her neck and picked up keys.

Most of the eateries along Broadway Market are canine-friendly and Market Cafe is especially pleasant for both dogs and their owners…

Bella greeting a resident lab…

Their menu is light and healthy. Perfect for a guilt-free lunch…

I had wild rice, avocado, radish, pomegranate, dukka & poached egg. It was garnished with chopped coriander and the whole mixture was very moreish.

Bella wanted to play more…

She is too large for you. You will have to wait for a few more months…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Life imitating art?

A cat is loose in the National Gallery!

Over the period, I have developed a particular way to enjoy the gallery. Each time I visit there, I have a predetermined theme which I am to look for in the paintings. The theme can be clothing, jewellery, furniture, food, animal, building, weather, etc. 
Of course, I do observe the paintings in a more conventional way too and appreciate their subjects, compositions, colours and styles like everyone else. I especially adore Rembrandt and Gainsborough for their masterful brush strokes and the serene demeanours of their subjects. 

Unlike contemporary abstract paintings, old masters artworks are a great source of information on social and cultural history of the time when the paintings were produced. Dutch still life is a prime example of how daily life was conducted in the 17th century Netherlands. It is fascinating to see how the people loved one another, mourned the losses and nourished bodies and minds as well as all the artefacts which assisted and enriched their everyday life. Some of the artefacts are no longer so prevalent in our present daily life. However, furry friends, dogs and cats who graced the canvases of old masters, are still a permanent fixture of our daily life. And last Wednesday, I wanted to see how they were depicted centuries ago.

Diana and Actaeon by Titian…

A small spaniel type dog is yapping at the intruder, Actaeon. The way the dog is having a go at him with its ferocious yapping reminded me how Mr.B would respond to a door bell.

A Warrior adoring the infant Christ and the Virgin by Vincenzo Catena…

A grey dog by the side wall may be small but the meaning of it being there is no small matter. Dogs in old masters artworks could carry a number of implicit messages. They may represent a symbol of fidelity or purport the contradictions such as sexuality and promiscuity. I guess this small puppy/dog stands for fidelity as a future protector of the infant Christ?

Happy Union by Paolo Veronese…

A female in the middle who are about to receive a crown is Venus, the goddess of love. And the dog on her left with a gold chain represents marital fidelity.

The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor by Gerade David…

A whippet type dog lying down nearby the infant Christ may represent a dog from Book of Tobit. The dog in the story was a companion and a protector of the young Tobias who went on to an adventure with the dog.

During the second half of the Renaissance, dogs had become an independent motif of art. This elevation of their status was initiated by the trend of the European royalties and magnates, starting to own dogs for their pleasure, such as hunting and companionship.

The Family of Darius before Alexander…

On the large artwork, the dogs grace both end of the canvas. On the right, there is a hound type dog which appears to be accompanying the Alexander. And on the left, two spaniel like dogs are clutched by a short man who looks like a court fool.

The Vendramin Family by Titian…

Dogs have always been boys’ best friends no matter when the ages are, haven’t they?

A Lady teaching a Child to read by Caspar Netzcher…

And of course, they have been so to girls too.

Mr and Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough…

Even if they are grown ups, dogs are still their faithful companions.

John Plampin by Thomas Gainsborough…

Or Mr.Plampin might perhaps love his dog more than his wife?

A Homage to Velázqueze by Luca Giordano…

I found this depiction of the spaniel rather unusual. Instead of appearing to be restrained by being on a leash or held in arm, the dog was jumping off the step and dashing forward.

However, some of the canines are not treated with all due respect. The unfortunate ones appear to be employed as a mere infill to occupy spaces which otherwise would look awkward if they were left vacant.

Pharaoh with his Butler and Baker by Pontormo…

You know what I mean, don’t you?

Joseph sold to Potiphar by Pontorno…

The composition sits better because the dog acts as an anchor.

The Milbanke and Melbourne Families by George Stubbs…

I am sure this pointer like dog is a companion of the rider. But also, he helps the composition to be perfect too.

The part which the artists imposed upon dogs may have been for the latter’s convenience, but it didn’t stop the painters to observe and portray the dogs with affection.

A Young Man and Woman making Music by Jan Miense Molenaer…

Two Men with a Sleeping Woman by Gabriel Metsu…

A Musical Party by Jacob van Velsen…

Four Officers of the Amsterdam Coopers’ and Wine-rackers’ Guild by Garbrand van den Eeckhout…

An Officer dictating a Letter by Gerard ter Borch…

I like the way the painter captured the glint in the dog’s eyes. It makes me imagine how the dog would jump to his feet and ask me to play if I whistled at him!

Comparing with the ever so obedient and docile dogs in old masters, the cats seem to be always cats and nothing but cats, mischievous, sneaky and…natural.

A Woman and a Fish-pedlar in a Kitchen by swollen van Mieris…

A Sleeping Maid and Her Mistress by Nicolaes Maes…

The Effect of Intemperance by Jan Steen…

The cats are not always just an opportunist but also a giver & receiver of affection. 

A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel by Judith Leyster…

A kitten in his arm doesn’t look so overjoyed about its predicament though.

But a cat is a cat as a leopard can’t change its spots. It’s always up for a mischief.

The Graham Children by William Hogarth…

The cat definitely makes this already charming family portrait even more enchanting.

You will be happy to know that not all the canines behaves like their typecast.

A Merry Company at Table by Hendrik Pot…

Marriage A-La-Mode by William Horgath…

Their naughtiness is more endearing than their counterparts who behave like a saint. For the same reason, I did not like Lassie very much because she always behaved impeccably.

A final canine of the gilded frame is,

Portrait of Don Justino de Neve by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo…

There was no explanation about why the dog was wearing a bow. However, the love for the canine companion from its owner and the painter were more than evident. 

I hope you enjoyed the paintings as much as I did…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

 

Ozone Coffee Roasters @ Leonard St EC2

I am standing in the queue at my local post office with a few parcels which are to be returned to the stores so I can claim refunds. For some unknown reason, all the self-service machines are out of order and therefore I have to join a looooooong line trailing from the counters. At least, I am grabbing this detour so I can update my otherwise sluggish blog…

Around Old Street tube station, there is another notable coffee joint, named Ozone Coffee Roaster. They not only offer carefully brewed cups but also an extensive breakfast & lunch menu which has proved to be hugely popular amongst the City workers as well as the tech crowds around the vicinity…

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My flat white. I must say it was not the best one I tasted from them. A faint but noticeable bitterness was left on my tongue as the liquid trickled down my throat. Roasting and brewing a perfect cup of coffee is quite an art, isn’t it?…

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For late lunch, I had Eggs Benedict with salmon…

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The poached eggs and rashers of smoked salmon were laid on top of bubble & squeak cakes instead of usual English muffins.

My friend went for the same except changing the filling to Portobello mushroom & spinach…

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As the knife was thrusted into the bulging egg yolk, a delicious golden ooze seeped out and slowly disappeared into the warm starchy bed. It tasted absolutely divine…

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My friend’s brand new Dr.Martens…

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He bought a pair of 1461…

Next to us, an incredibly well-behaved Airdale terrier was lying down…

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He hugged the floor quietly as his owner went through his lunch…

By the way, while England’s World Cup dream is prematurely over and done with, the Wimbledon has kicked off. Thank god! Come on Andy! Show us what you’ve got!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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