Tuesday, 28 December, 2010

Christmas Tree....

 This year we settled for a tiny tree. Since it was so tiny that we could not find any decorations for it, so Indranil decided to make some. I have some origami papers given by my aunt about 20 years back. Initially I tried doing origami, but it was so intricate and demanded such concentration that I soon lost patience and interest. But I loved the papers and preserved them lovingly and also happened to bring them with me to the UK. Indranil apparently loved doing origami as a kid but never got the right kind of paper for his creations. So it was like duck taking to water. Indranil and the papers created magic! Enjoy the photos, most of them are taken by our friend Anurita with her superb camera.

Our teeny weeny tiny tree....
Tree next to the fire place...
|Origami decorations
A flower for the tree...
A basket...we had heard that |Santa was now a days leaving goodies in baskets as well :) So we were ready for him....
Deft fingers at work...
And a star is born....
Yields of four hours of hard work!

Friday, 17 December, 2010

Victoria and Albert Museum

We went to the V&A Museum to see the first ever exhibition of Raphael's cartoons and tapestries (brought specially from Sistine Chapel) together. What an experience it was. It was so remarkable to watch the tapestry and the cartoon of the same scene and try and find out the differences. In some places the weavers had used their own initiative but mostly they were remarkably same. 


After that we explored a bit more of the sprawling museum. When I am in a museum I can never take photographs. I feel I need to concentrate on the artefacts in front of me and not in taking photographs. We loved the South Asian, Middle Eastern and Fashion sections. The museum was filled with art students copying the masters or doing some kind of innovation of their own. In fact the museum has an exhibition of the works of young artist which are inspired by the museum's artefacts.


In the Greek statue section we had a huge debate on whether paintings were more beautiful than statues. I was all for paintings while my husband for statues.


After that it was time for tea, it was a blessed relief to sit down after walking around for almost four/five hours. The museum has a lovely cafe, not so much the food but the sitting area. 



Sitting there sipping tea and eating scones it was so easy to drift back to the past. I am sure at one point this room used to host great costume balls. It even had a grand piano. In my mind's eye I could almost see the ornately dressed lords and ladies dancing away to lovely music and the sound of merry laughter floating by.

Walk along the London Bridge....

Thankfully the London Bridge did not topple down while we were walking along it. It was a typical grey London day, not too cold but trifle windy. Some photographs....
The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known as The Monument, is a 202 ft (61.57 metre) tall stone Roman Doric column in the City of LondonEngland, near the northern end of London Bridge. It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 ft (61.57 metres) from where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. Another monument, the Golden Boy of Pye Corner marks the point near Smithfield where the fire stopped. Monument tube station is named after the monument. Constructed between 1671 and 1677, it is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. [1]
The Monument consists of a fluted Doric column built of Portland stone topped with a gilded urn of fire, and was designed by Christopher Wren andRobert Hooke. Its 202 foot (61.57 metre) height marks its distance from the site in Pudding Lane of the shop of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker, where the fire began. (Information courtesy Wikipedia. If you want to know more please click here.


 The top of the Monument is reached by a narrow winding staircase of 311 steps. A cage was added in the mid-19th century at the top of the Monument to prevent people jumping off, after six people had committed suicide between 1788 and 1842.
 Three sides of the base carry inscriptions in Latin. The one on the south side describes actions taken by Charles II following the fire. The one on the east describes how the Monument was started and brought to perfection, and under which mayors. The one on the north describes how the fire started, how much damage it caused, and how the fire was extinguished. In 1681 the words "but Popish frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched" were added to the end of the inscription. The inscription on the east generally blames Roman Catholics for the fire, and this promptedAlexander Pope to say of the area that it is:

Where London’s column, pointing at the skies,
Like a tall bully, lifts the head and lies." -- Moral Essays. Epistle iii. Line 339 (1733-1734).
The words were chiselled out in 1831.
The west side of the base displays a sculpture, by Caius Gabriel Cibber, in alto and bas relief, of the destruction of the City; with King Charles II, and his brother, James, the Duke of York (later James II) surrounded by LibertyArchitecture, and Science, giving directions for its restoration.

The actual bridge...it is curiously modern and a big let down. I am told the bridge seeping in history is actually the Tower Bridge. A trek there is on the cards.
 View of River Thames and the Tower Bridge in the distance.
Gulls in the water, I am sure attacking fishes, if there are any...
 I love these double decker sight seeing buses....they can be seen all over central London....

Borough Market...

One of the Sundays we went exploring the Borough Market. Being a popular market Sunday mid morning it was teeming with shoppers and tourists alike. I was so mesmerised with the sights and sounds and also a trifle bit jostled and pushed by the crowds that I forgot to take photographs.

The market is huge, in fact there were two/three adjacent markets...it seemed like the producers were selling directly. Apart from organic veggies, fruits, meat, fish...there were various types of cheese, couple of huge wine, beer and ale stalls, condiments like various sorts of jams, jellies, chutneys, olives, mustard, organic chocolates and some handicrafts but not much. All sorts of food specially meats like hog, venison, pigeon, wild boar were on sale, and then the hot dogs, burgers, fish and chips and an ample variety for the sweet tooth as well.

The coffee shop Monmouth was so crowded that we could not get in. Maybe next time!

The following photographs do not do any justice to the market. Just a sneaky peak.

 There were some amazing flower stalls and the arrangements were superb.
 I loved this ratan shelf. I so want it. It would look lovely in our kitchen.
 Some more flowers and pots...
 The best fish and chips we have had so far in the UK. The fish was super fresh and the fries were yummy! We shared one and that was more than sufficient for both of us.
Check out these curious little birds. I am sure they are pretty common here, but it was the first time I saw them.

Sir Francis Drake and his The Golden Hinde...

Seeing this ship took me back to school and all those history lessons on Sir Francis Drake and how he defeated the Spanish Armada. And to think that he was actually fighting from  such a ship! This is sadly just a replica...

There is a museum inside the ship but we did not go in. If you want to know more visit this link.


This replica of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship, The Golden Hind is now a floating museum.
Feted as a hero in England, Drake was, not surprisingly, accused of all manner of foul deeds by his arch enemies, the Spanish, whose Armada he so devastatingly defeated in 1588 (helped more than a little by atrocious weather conditions!)
Rumour was rife that Drake had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for prowess at sea, and that, in concert with Devon witches, he had cast spells to raise the storms that shattered the Spanish Armada.
The replica is open to the public. On board, costumed guides will tell you all about 16th-century seafaring life, although talk of the Devil may be slightly frowned upon!

Some more sights of London Part 1

We were coming back from the Borough Markets replete with the best fish and chips we had ever had, clutching our shopping when we came across this ruined wall.
As the writing says this is the remaining wall of the palace of the once powerful Bishop of Winchester. Once you take a turn from where Sir Francis Drake's famous galleon The Hinde is displayed you suddenly come across this ruined wall. I was fascinated by it. It so reminded me of Delhi where in the middle of ordinary modern building the remains of a quilla or fort would peek out. I initially got excited thinking it was Roman ruins but it is a much later structure.

This is what I found in the internet from this site. Harry Potter fans you would love this site. Anyways to get back to the ruins. this is what the site says about it.....
This was once the Great Hall of Winchester Palace, the residence of the powerful Bishops of Winchester. The palace was originally built in 1109 for the then Bishop of Winchester William Giffard. The last Bishop of Winchester to live at the Palace was Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) who oversaw the compilation of theAuthorised Version (also known as the King James Version) of the Bible.
During the English Civil War (1642-48) Winchester Palace was taken over by Parliament for use as a prison for Royalist soldiers, and was later sold for warehousing.
It was never, technically speaking, demolished, but rather slowly disappeared in the redevelopment of the warehouses. The movement of London's shipping further down the river in the 1970's led to a wholescale redevelopment of the area, in the course of which these late 14th century ruins were exposed to public view.

Thursday, 16 December, 2010

The Grapes....

Since our early days in Oxford we have been planning to visit this quaint little pub called The Grapes. It is conveniently located in central Oxford just opposite to the theatre and Debenhams. In one year we never made it, finally during one of our recent trips to the town we went there. I loved the place.

Grape's history written in a blackboard....
The ceiling decorated with old theatre posters...wonder who gets up there to paste these posters....
Indranil's order...he was not too impressed with it. My sneaky feeling is because of the huge portion of peas which he hates and did not touch. I found the food good.
My order-- chicken and bacon sandwich in wholegrain bread...one of the best sandwiches I have had in the UK. I loved them  the chips were also good. The price is lower than the rest of high street pubs. I am definitely going back there again next time I am in Oxford.

Christmas Fair Part III

After being good and moving on and not spending money on anything much apart from food, this is where we blew it all. All our resolutions slipped out of control, these hand painted ceramics from Jerusalem were too lovely to resist. I am sure you would agree when you look at the photos! The brothers selling them were really nice and polite and in true souq style my husband started haggling with them. The brothers seemed to be expecting it...they had a lovely time with some good natured bargaining....

Christmas Fair Part II

A sneak peak into some of the stalls and the wares they were selling...
Some bright head gear on sale. In my limited experience of Christmas fairs, I have seen all kinds of head gears are sold in plenty. Maybe because people do not come dressed warmly enough and then they need a cap to protect themselves from the cold!
Jewellery on sale. Of course where there is jewellery I do get stuck a bit. These were lovely...
 A stall selling wooden Christmas decorations. Check out the owl!
And these...:)
Reindeer in another stall....
How can there be Christmas without angels?
Angel, will you be my angel please? And promise to look out for me and make my wishes come true? In return I promise to be a good person and sing your praises to everyone....
I loved these glass balls...the guy in red jacket blows them himself....check out the coloured ones, they are so lovely....
Another of my favourite things...ceramics...
Light holders...again the stall owners hand paint them....

Now some food...
Yummy hot dogs....
And of course the sweets...:)