Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Amygdala


The Guardian last week, awash with dire and depressing news on the state of the British/European economy, also carried a short report on research on the brain activity of happy, positive people ... 
... when shown 'positive' images (such as kittens and  baskets of flowers), their amygdalas (that's a little nut-shaped bit deep in your temporal lobe) lit up like Christmas trees compared to less happy people, whose brains remained a black hole of gloom whether shown a kitten or a person being held up at gunpoint, or, presumably, an economic forecast. 




The cheerful people, they said, are not naively unaware or uncaring about bad events; it's just that they choose to respond to the positives where they find them. 

I don't have kittens or baskets of flowers, but I can offer an embarrassed, pathetic-looking seasonal mutt ...




... my Charlie, mortified at having his picture taken wearing ridiculous Halloween headgear ...




Aaaagh, no, not another one!






... and in alternative pose as Thanksgiving turkey


If you want to make your amygdala really happy, please go here to see how one New York pooch and his mates dress for the season, over at one of my favourite blogs, My Life by Buster.


A very Happy Thanksgiving weekend, to all who celebrate ...


Monday, 31 October 2011

Pastries, Halloween and autumn things

October's been a lean month on this blog, it seems! A case of pas grand-chose à dire combined with trop de choses à faire  :)

To make amends before the month slips away altogether in a few hours, I have cake and autumnal London scenes to offer ...


I met up with Carol, talented artist and witty blogger from Paris Breakfasts, when she breezed into London from New York via Paris this month. Carol does the art work for patisserie Maison Blanc (founded by chef Raymond Blanc), and I went along with her to their gorgeous, chandelier-ed Fulham Road café where she needed to shoot a few of their latest pastry concoctions in order to render them as exquisite watercolours. ('Erm, so we have to scoff a lot of French pastries for the sake of art?' A sacrifice well worth making, I thought).

If you peer hard enough you can just see Carol and I reflected in Maison Blanc's window (pre-pastry-fest), which features her work on the poster ...


Thanks to her, I also got to see the inside of the Chelsea Arts Club, an artists' members-only club. I dearly wish I had some photos to show of the inside of this lovely old house, all genteel faded grandeur with every inch of wall-space covered with work by virtually every well-known English artist since Whistler and his chums, who founded it in 1891 ... sadly, photos were strictly verboten. I can only offer this furtive, slightly grainy snap of its back facade and pretty garden in the heart of Chelsea ...


It's been one of the mildest Octobers in recorded history here in southern England, so we haven't yet felt the chill snap of proper autumn, and the trees seem to have only just realised belatedly that it's time to change colour.


These were scenes in Richmond, south-west London, last week ...

Royal Star and Garter Home, with cows grazing on Richmond Hill in the foreground
Riverside scenes ...


Autumn colours reflected in the river - the planes overhead a reminder of possibly the only downside of living in Richmond - it's directly under the flight path for Heathrow!


The Thames had gently flooded its banks here - lovely for ducks and children.


Winter berries and ... on safari in Richmond Park! ...


What was I doing here? Visiting one of my favourite places in this area - Petersham Nurseries ...


... in a perfect setting below Richmond Hill and on the site of Petersham House, where you can wander around the garden shop in a greenhouse ...





... and either have tea and home-made cakes in the casual café in a shed, or a pricier but very special lunch in the greenhouse restaurant, below, where the wonderfully-named Skye Gyngell whips up seasonal produce. (The floors may be bare earth and the food deceptively simple looking, but it has a Michelin star).



And finally, there's just time to say, from my seasonal table this weekend ...





Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pumpkin time

They came from around the neighbourhood bearing their pumpkins ...




(some with more efficient means of transport) ...


... lanterns showing the way



to our annual pumpkin-carving event.



These kids are pros: no instructions, no health and safety warnings required; they rolled up their sleeves and got to work, taking up their knives like seasoned surgeons with scalpels ...



... no squeamishness or avoiding the messy parts ...




though some preferred the floor






















and for one or two it was all just too much



And while their parents got down to the more relaxed business of a glass of hot mulled wine on a crisp autumn evening ...



the carvers were ready to proudly display their achievements ...






And it was time for ghoulish snacks in the kitchen ...




And all that's left ...




is to wish you ...




a very ...



(and on a different note, don't miss this darkly funny (Belgian Waffle's trademark) picture of Halloween in Brussels over here)



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