Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Battlestar Galactica out


The last ever episode of Battlestar Galactica has been shown. Hard to believe that six years have gone by since the mini series. What will I do now on Tuesday nights? Sniff.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A quick peek at the British Museum


You may recall that at the end of last month my friend Lucy and I went to see the Byzantium Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and then popped into the British Museum (if truth be told, to use the loo - those of you who know London well enough to be thinking, that's a long way to be going just to use the loo, the reason is we were heading to Tottenham Court Road for some gadget (window) shopping).

OK back to the British Museum. The toilets were cramped and busy and nothing to speak of, but the exhibits were certainly impressive. We wandered round for half an hour or so, as it seemed a shame not to, and took some photos. The British Museum is the most visited museum in London, and that's hardly surprising, as it has some very impressive collections from all over the world. This is just a sample of what you'd see if you only had a quick look on the way to the loos:

GREEK

Limestone female figure
Neolithic, about 4500-3200 BC
From the island of Kárpathos, Aegean Sea

EGYPTIAN

Granodiorite seated statue of Amenhotep III
From his mortuary temple, Thebes, Egypt
18th Dynasty, about 1350 BC

ASSYRIAN

Pair of colossal statues of winged lions from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II
Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq
Neo-Assyrian, about 883-859 BC


3.5 centuries in front of your eyes just in the time it takes to walk from the main entrance to the loos and back. Not bad, eh?


At the time, there were two major temporary exhibitions: Babylon: Myth and Reality (now closed) and Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran, which is going strong till mid June. The two banners hanging on the walls of the Reading Room direct visitors. Not sure what the red statue represents...


Another view of the Great Court and the Reading Room (the curved building on the right). The glass roof is amazing, and has tranformed the Museum's inner courtyard into the largest covered public square in Europe.


At the information desk, there are guides in several languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.


Soon it was time to go as we needed to cross London before the evening rush hour started. This is the view from the museum entrance as we were leaving.

Hope you've enjoyed this quick tour of (part of) the ground floor at the British Museum. Let me know if you'd like to see more of it - you never know, I might be looking for a toilet in that part of London again soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 53

27 February 2009

18 March 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Plenty is the new Bounty


Could this be the stupidest name change since Jif/Cif? Discuss.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

St Paddy's day


OK, it's not quite St Patrick's Day yet, but the London celebrations took place today and we had lovely weather for them too. I missed the parade, but got into town just as the main festival was kicking off at Trafalgar Square. These are some of the photos I took.




In the spirit of the day, I have purchased some Irish soda bread and I'm now off to make my favourite Irish hotpot for dinner. Mmmmm!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy birthday, bro!


Today's my brother's birthday. I know he thinks I forget because sometimes I don't ring him until quite late in the day, so here is proof that this year too I have remembered.

Happy Birthday, bro! Xronia Polla!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

All she ever wanted was a little credit...


Tonight I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic, a film (loosely) based on Sophie Kinsella's hilarious novel The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic. If you've read the book and worry because the story's been given a Hollywood facelift, don't. You won't notice, and if you notice, you probably won't care. Provided you read it when it first came out, it's unlikely you'll remember the detail anyway. If you've seen the trailer and thought the film looks awful, don't let that stop you from watching it. It's really much more enjoyable and considerably funnier than the trailer lets on.

Isla Fisher is adorable as Becky Bloomwood and Hugh Dancy makes a convincing Luke Brandon (apart from not being blonde). Not so sure about Joan Cusack as Becky's mother - she just doesn't look old enough.

All in all, a perfect film for a Friday evening - entertaining, easy to follow and with enough laughing out loud moments to ensure you leave the cinema on a high. Can't ask for more from a chick flick :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pancake Tuesday

Tuesday before last was Pancake day in the UK. This is another name for Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent. It's called Pancake day because the 40 days of Lent traditionally formed a period of fasting, during which only plain food was eaten, therefore rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar were used up immediately prior to the commencement of the fast by making pancakes.

Eating pancakes is complemented by pancake racing. This is said to have originated when a housewife in Olney, a small town in Buckinghamshire, where the most famous race is held to this day, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the special confession service before Lent. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake - tossing along the way - and since then we hold pancake races on the day.

Every year I try to make it to a pancake race, which is a bit tricky as pancake races take place in the middle of the working day, so I usually end up to one near the office. This year I had the opportunity to venture further afield, and ended up in the City of London, at the pancake race organised by the Worshipful Company of Poulters, one of the Livery Companies (one-time trade associations) based in the City of London.


Contestants competed in gowns and fancy dress, all wearing aprons and holding pancake pans. If you've spotted the guy in bandages above, worry not - his injuries were fake and not sustained during the race.


Ready...


Steady...


Run and toss!


Toss some more!


The winners in each category received a copper pan.


Whereas those who didn't do so well received a wooden spoon.

In case you're thinking this is too weird to be true, here is a short video of the grand final, with the winners of each category competing against each other:

video

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chestita Baba Marta!

Today I had a surprise in the post: a large envelope arrived from Bulgaria and there was something soft and squashy in it. The Bulgaria bit wasn't totally unexpected, as one of my friends lives in Sofia, but I had no idea what the contents could be.


When I opened the envelope I found a card for 1st March (a big celebration in Bulgaria) and a martenitsa couple. Martenitsas are little dolls made of white and red yarn, which are worn or hung in the house from 1st March until the end of March (or until you see a stork, a swallow or a budding tree). They're supposed to welcome the spring and bring good luck. These are my martenitsas, still in their celophane. Don't they look cute?


The male doll is called Pizho and is always made of white yarn; the female is called Penda and made of red yarn. The funny writing on the card (on both cards) says Chestita Baba Marta which is the traditional greeting for 1st March. It means "Happy Grandmother March". Grandmother March is an old lady that can just as easily smile and be gentle or she can be hard and mean - pretty much like March weather in this part of Europe, which is quite unpredictable and unstable, sometimes sunny and warm, and sometimes snowy and freezing. There are a number of rituals that please Baba Marta, and wearing a Martenitsa is one of them. Another is spring-cleaning, because the old lady only approves of clean and tidy homes.

Romanians have a similar celebration called Martisor (Little March) but instead of the two dolls they tend to have a good luck charm tied to a red and white string.

In Greece, we also have a similar tradition: on the 1st March, children (and sometimes adults too) make a bracelet of red and white string, and wear it until the end of the month, or until they see a swallow or until Easter, at which point they burn it at the flame of their Easter candle. The bracelet is supposed to protect from the bright March sunshine, which can be very harsh on white skin.

I'm really excited because I'd known of this tradition for ages, and I'd seen people wearing Martenitsas in London, but I've never had one of my own before. It inspired me to make a March bracelet for the first time in years. Now if only one of my Romanian friends would send me a Martisor, I'd have a full set :-)

I'm not aware of this tradition existing outside the Balkans, but if you have, or know of, a similar celebration elsewhere in the world, please share!

Wordless Wednesday 51

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's in a handbag?

Today I had a bit of a tackle-it-Tuesday feeling, so I thought I'd sort through my handbags. I don't have a handbag fetish to speak of (I'm more of shoe princess) but I am a hoarder, so my regulation one-handbag-per-year adds up to quite a formidable collection of 11 handbags - one of which is in regular use, while the remaining 10 clutter the one and only cupboard we have in our flat.

I started by taking all 10 of them out and emptying them of their various contents. This is what my desk looked like once I'd finished.


In total, I found:

£4.88 in coins
3 lipsticks
2 lip salves
2 lip glosses
2 mini flashlights
11 pens (!!!)
3 mini tubes of handcream
1 mini toothbrush
My work badge that I'd been looking for everywhere
1 bookmark
2 eyeshadow compacts
1 mini shoe horn
A set of Nokia ear phones (my mobile is Sony Ericsson)
1 mini Diptyque Do Son eau de toilette perfume
9 hair clips in two sizes
1 box of Oral-B dental sticks
Cinema receipts from 2004 and 2008
A ticket for Phantom of the Opera (12-March-2005)
Several used bus and tube tickets
Used tissues, bits of paper, sweet wrappers etc.
1 Tesco bag for life (neatly folded)
3 umbrella cases - no umbrellas
1 under eye concealer
An old bank passbook from Greece
2 payslips (one unopened)
1 box of Compeed plasters
1 pair of nail scissors

I'm happy to say that I have now sorted through the junk and have packed 3 of my bags to take to the local charity shop. I can't quite bring myself to part with the remaining seven yet, but I'm getting there.

I might tackle my shoe collection next Tuesday.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Letting the cat out of the bag

I have a confession to make. Last week's Wordless Wednesday photo wasn't one of mine, but one that I've borrowed -- with permission, I hasten to add -- from Betty C's blog, La France Profonde. Betty realised some time ago that we were doing WW at the same pace, so we decided to keep it up and collaborate to mark the occasion of our 50th WW posts. I came up with the idea of taking photos of our dinners. Betty came up with the idea of each of us posting a WW photo from the other's blog. Betty won. The rest, as they say, is history.

The photo I chose, of (what looks remarkably like) a Citroën 2CV car growing alongside a tree, was taken by Betty's husband, Thierry Jouanneteau. Thierry has been back and photographed the car in winter time, so we're only missing summer and autumn for the full set :-)


You can see which one of my photos Betty chose by visiting her blog. It's one of my favourite photos and I'm delighted that it got to travel in cyber space.

Betty, here's to another 50 WW posts! P.S. Have you started planning what we'll do for our 100th?