Thursday 30 September 2010

Away to a ball!

How exciting - tonight I'll be attending my first cyber-ball! Do go and have a look - it's all happening over at Willow Manor.

Typically, at the last minute I'm still agonising over the right dress. Help! Here's me first in dramatic red ...

And here I am in classic black ...

Hmm, elegant but safe. Do you think I could get away with this hot number ...?

I do look pretty good, if I say so myself - still got it, eh?

For the shoes, I'm thinking hot red is going to hit the spot

And thank God the bag arrived in the nick of time this morning ...

 But help! My date for the ball has just arrived early - and he's drunk and dishevelled!

God, you can be so unreliable, Stephen. Oh well, at least he's dressed the part - even if his eyes are swimming out of focus and his hair's a mess.  He's sitting in my front room now, burbling away - a sort of deep-voiced emittance of strangled, posh vowels with the occasional phrase recognisable to the non-upper-class ear -
eeeuuuuaaagh my club eeyaaaauuuyyyhhh most frightful
well, perhaps no-one will notice. I shall make him some strong coffee and be away to make myself beautiful. 

And lets be clear on this point, Stephen, I shall definitely be doing the driving tonight!

(Btw, obviously I did not take the photos myself for today's post. (Mary McCartney kindly popped round to snap me in the outfits above - such a poppet). Thank you Google image search)

Thursday 23 September 2010

Reasons to love Rome

The first in a series of random travel posts of places I love.  Rome is ...

... the energy of Vespas fuelled by the best coffee in the universe

(scooters line the exterior of Rosati, pit stop for morning coffee on the Piazza del Popolo)

... drop-dead-stylish carabinieri

(I confess to shamelessly making my children pose for a picture while covertly focusing on the real object of my interest – this uber-awesome specimen of the carabinieri, leaning casually but so elegantly on his shiny Alfa Romeo, long legs in what is surely the most stylish police uniform on the planet. Only the Italians could transform PC Plod into knockout designer dude)

the dizzying embrace of layers upon layers of history 
8th century BC to the Middle Ages, to Renaissance palaces, to Belle Époque

(St Peter’s Square with threatening April rain clouds)

(setting up for the Pope’s Easter mass)

… grand gestures

(Trevi fountain)

(St Peter's basilica)

… and beauty in the details

... feasting in style

(Santa Lucia restaurant, behind the Piazza Navona, on a July evening)

Friday 17 September 2010

Pictures at an Exhibition: in Trafalgar Square today

Today after work I dropped by the National Portrait Gallery to catch an exhibition in its last days. 
In Trafalgar Square, buzzing with the usual crowds of tourists, I was distracted by scenes of light on water

 This is home of course to the National Gallery ...

... but I love its little sister around the corner

 opposite St Martin in the Fields ...

This is an annual award for portraits by contemporary artists. This year's winner had more than the usual press for its controversial subject: Daphne Todd painted her mother in the three days after her death (not surprisingly, upsetting some members of her family). I'd expected to find it striking, but found myself rather unmoved and uncomfortably voyeur-like.

(photo credit:

I loved many others in this incredibly varied bunch of portraits, though. Shany van der Berg is a Stellenbosch artist whose work I've admired for years, and her entry to the exhibition was this raw and wonderful painting of her mother holding her great grand-daughter

(photo credit:

Another of my favourites was Eliot Haigh's portrait of Quena - I would give absolutely anything to own this picture -

 (photo credit:

… and Michael Ozibiko’s huge canvas, titled iDeath, of a young woman wearing earphones, her head down, focusing on her iPod and her music, a distant non-emotional look on her face. The photographic quality of this oil painting is astounding. Interestingly, this is the portrait that was voted winner by a public vote.

(photo credit:

Thursday 16 September 2010

A chick flies the nest ... to the land of Rabbie Burns

It seems I blinked and she went from this little cutie patootie

to a young woman all grown up and kitting out her room at university!

Last weekend we travelled to the northern hinterland, accompanied by alarming amounts of baggage, to settle Daughter the Elder into her new life in Edinburgh

... city of friendly bagpipers

castles  and pageantry

Cars streamed in all weekend, loaded to the gills, spewing out freshers and their worldly goods at the halls of residence, joining long lines for registration, everywhere the nervous sense of departures and new beginnings.
Did we worry that we had too much stuff? Hell no, a brave few did this thang in style!

While Daughter ran the gamut of receptions and welcomes, we attended the Parents’ Tea (dear god, can I really be this old?) in the grand McEwan Hall ...

where friendly and charming graduate students told of all the fun our offspring would be having as we returned to our dull middle-aged lives ...

... until four years time when we meet up here again, hopefully, to see them graduate in this same hall...

In between the events we revisited some favourite places. Down the touristy Royal Mile, pubs beckoned ...

as did plenty of Scottish kitsch (ah, those endangered tigers of the highlands)

and St Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk rather, glowed in weak early autumn sunshine

... its founder John Knox probably still ranting from the grave against the 'ungodly' Catholics (will the Pope, visiting Edinburgh today as it happens, swing by and pay homage to an old enemy?)

From the gardens in Princes Street ...

the Royal Scot Grey on horseback (they fought in the Boer War in South Africa in 1899) fronts the view across to Parliament House and Old Town 

while Mary Stuart's Palace of Holyrood House hides a grisly past of murder and intrigue ...

(the ruined abbey at Holyrood)

(view from Holyrood Palace to Arthur's Seat)

Back for a spot of shopping for light relief, to the elegant George’s Street in ‘New Town’, where a statue seems to punctuate every intersection,  and a bagpiper every doorway ...

and lunch in Grassmarket where students enjoyed a last bit of sunshine under the castle on the hill ...

Scotland, you have my wee chick and therefore my heart. I hope to see you both often.
Related Posts with Thumbnails