Month: February 2015

Yorkshire: Painting, Ceramics, Desiderata

Saltaire is a 19th-century village in Yorkshire, has impressive architecture and is a World Heritage Site. It includes delightful and probably very valuable sandstone cottages, that were once inhabited by workers at the textile mill, and Salts Mill itself, a spectacular building which now houses an art gallery, a very impressive shop full of arty desiderata and at least two fully-licensed cafes, where you can have wine with your home-made Victoria sponge cake. Very fancy. One of my favourite places in the area. It is also home to a massive amount of work, mainly paintings, some photography and other media, by international superstar artist and local boy David Hockney. So, on that note, let me show you this gallery space, some Hockney and some generally nice things that are to be found at Saltaire.

gallery

ceramic 3

ceramic 2

Hockney portrait of his parents.

parents

Hockney photograph of his own paintings. Nice.

hock photo

More Hockney.

hock pink hock green

Exit through the gift shop.

tin tin

pen

champagne

I love those glasses, they are so gloriously tacky and bling, they are large too, that is a lot of champagne.

So that was my weekend in Yorkshire and as usual I felt so much better for it: well-fed, exercised, fresh air, art, good friends. It really is a tonic. Eventually it came to an end, Leroy and I took the train back to London and said goodbye at the station, then I went home.

Towards the end of the weekend, the Head Honcho noticed that my emails had suddenly tailed off and launched another charm offensive. We are getting on so well, it is the best it’s been in at least two years, maybe more. I am smiling right now, thinking about it. We aren’t fighting at all. He looks like he is starting to concede that we can find a way of compromising and organising the relationship so that we both get our needs met. I suddenly feel I understand a bit more what he wants from me. It’s good, in fact I would tentatively say that it is great. And so I abandoned the health-giving Yorkshire countryside and returned to my lair in dark, dirty London and to the Honcho’s familiar and largely imaginary embrace, because one can only take so much fresh air and reality, and that only in small doses.

And that’s all the news.

Yorkshire: Sculpture

So I got off Eurostar in London, met Leroy and we got on another train to Yorkshire to make my highly-prized annual trip to visit my dear friend C, who kindly accommodated us both at her house. If you are wondering, C and Leroy thoroughly bonded, despite a superficial 35-year age gap that might have been a stumbling block to anyone else. C gave Leroy some business advice. Leroy cooked. It was great. Leroy fitted right in like a Yorkshire native. We all went to visit C’s mom. She is 80 and she does not take any shit. I love her to bits and she is a highlight of my annual trip and something of a role model for how to be a kick-ass old lady. She’s also extremely glamorous and attractive, if I look anywhere near that good when I am 80 then I will be amazed.

We went to the Barbara Hepworth gallery at Wakefield and saw some terrific sculpture.

A typical Hepworth. Organic, rounded shapes, holes, string. I have another photo of this sculpture that I wish I could share with you, where Leroy is standing behind it, staring at it intently while holding my coat.

hepworth 1

hepworth 2

Barbara Hepworth screenprint, Winter Solstice, 1970.

solstice

Reclining figure by Hepworth’s partner, Henry Moore, 1936.

moore

If you can get to the Hepworth Gallery before 1 July, you will also be able to see an exhibition of sculpture by American artist Lynda Benglis. It is delicious! Look at this huge fan. It is pleated wire mesh, decorated with all manner of beautiful trinkets, much as one might decorate a Christmas tree. I so wish I had any wall space, I would make one.

Zanzidae: Peacock Series, 1979, wire mesh, enamel, glass and plastic.

fan

Want to see some close-ups?

fan close 1

fan close 2

More Benglis.

gold

gold 2

silver

crystals

So that was Saturday, 1 Friends point and 1 Art point. Stay tuned for painting and ceramics in the village of Saltaire.

Amsterdam: Consumables

The food was great. In the evenings my colleague and I went out and tried different restaurants. He is a foodie and is good at reading maps so I love going out with him, all I have to do is tag along, similarly he enjoys dining with me because I let him pick the restaurant every time and will eat absolutely anything.

We went to the famous Moeders restaurant. Moeders is Dutch for mothers. The restaurant is absolutely stuffed with photos of mothers, most of them contributed by customers. I think they do a deal where if you take your mum on her birthday, you get free stuff. Very interesting restaurant. Very cosy. Mismatched dishes, also contributed by customers on opening night. It was buzzing when we went, you know a place has good food when it is popular with people who actually live there.

mothers

Note the 1950s Formica table.

plates

I had hotchpotch. I absolutely love the way the menu says hotchpotch “is possible”.

hotch menu

hotch

Pudding. I am blaming my colleague. We pretend that calories don’t count if you are on a business trip. The tiny little pancakes covered in honey in the middle of the plate are a traditional Dutch dessert.

pancakes

Pancakes turned out to be a theme. Here’s a pancake restaurant that we went to another evening, with slightly racist and hopefully antique table decorations.

pancake bakery

table dec

Cupcake display in a cafe.

cakes

This was the no smoking sign in my hotel room.

no smoking

Amsterdam does smell of weed, but only in the main tourist areas, which I think says a lot. Here is a series of photos which I am calling Lost Property of Amsterdam, taken around the central train station.

bag 1

bag 2

bag 3

bin 1

bin 2

Then I couldn’t hang around Amsterdam any more so I took a train to Brussels, then another one to London, then another one to Yorkshire, collecting Leroy along the way. Photos of our weekend coming right up after the break.

Amsterdam: Architecture & Shopping

I am finally home and I have a whole bunch of travel photos to show you.

So, as you know, I was in Amsterdam for work. Here are some shots of the city so you can see how attractive it is. It is very clean. A lot of people ride bicycles, which is obviously good for their health and the environment. By London standards, there is virtually no traffic.

canal 2

bicycles

Nice architecture. Tall, slender houses in elegant and restrained colours. Looks 1930s, not that I am an expert.

houses

The centre of Amsterdam is full of interesting, independently-owned shops. In London, the price of real estate would have forced these businesses into obscure parts of town, with wealthy chain stores moving in to take their place. It would have been street after street of Starbucks and Tesco Express. Instead, we have this:

The Extremely Serious Cheese Shop. These guys are not messing around, it is like church.

cheese

The Very Fancy Lingerie Shop.

pleasurement

The Early Modernist Fabric Shop. My colleague loved this, he is into design.

quilt shop

fabric

Lighting and homewares.

lighting

Fashion.

amsterdam fashion 1 amsterdam fashion 2

Contemporary art.

amsterdam art

My personal favourite, the Russian shop. Absolutely full of those nesting dolls, including lovely hand-painted ones, quirky ones with Putin’s face on, Christmas ones and the remaining space is dedicated to even more dolls.

russian treasures

nesting dolls

putin doll

xmas dolls

flower dolls

four dolls

Stay tuned for more photos.

Broccoli

I wish I wasn’t so huge. I have gained three pounds in two days (where is the rhyme or reason in that, and it keeps on AND ON happening). I am now the same size as when I started this blog 3 years ago, I’m afraid to eat and I am afraid to find out how much bigger I can actually become. I don’t snack. I stopped eating sugar. Still getting bigger and bigger.

Leroy is coping even though I was nowhere near this big when we met in November and I obviously didn’t plan on this happening. I have fully warned the Honcho that I am bigger than Kim Kardashian in the hip, bum and tum region and he seems not to like me any less, perhaps because he didn’t like me that much to start with.

I am in Amsterdam right now anyway, in a very small hotel with no pool so I will just have to put up with being huge until I get home. I just had dinner with my colleague at a very quirky little restaurant. He always picks nice places, this is the same guy I went to Belgium with before Xmas. I had broccoli with garlic and onions.

IMG_6852-0

We are here to attend a boring business conference but perhaps I can squeeze in a couple of nice photo opportunities in between things.

There is a very exciting weekend planned because I am off to Yorkshire for my annual visit to my lovely friend C and this time Leroy is coming too! I can’t wait. Really excited to see C and also to have a chance to get to know Leroy a little more because we never have enough time together.

In the final bit of news, things with the Head Honcho are stable. I feel more secure and more sure of him than I have in the last two years. It is a very novel feeling. I hope it lasts. It is almost like … how shall I describe the feeling – it is like being happy and loved. Very unusual, to get this from such a source. He says I am his, that he wants me back, that we have a special bond that he is taking all the credit for creating and that he thinks only of me.  I think you can see how unusual this is. We aren’t arguing or fighting. I am just loving him the same as always and he’s finally giving me fewer reasons to regret it.

And that’s all today’s news.