Lately

It has been forever since I last posted on this blog, largely because I haven’t had many photos to post. Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas – the autumn has flown by, and suddenly it’s December. I wish I had photos from the autumn, but I spent most of my holiday recovering from a surgery, and by the time I was back on my feet, it was past its peak. Typical. And now it’s the end of the year, and winter.

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Lately

Is it autumn yet? has been the question my friends and I have been asking a lot lately. Some cling to summer, while others, like me, rejoice in the autumn. Late summer – that brown, dull, lagging, almost-but-not-quite warm season of cobwebs and rain – is, together with late winter (also brown, dull, lagging and almost-but-not-quite warm) my least favourite season. Autumn promises new harvest, colour, gently darkening evenings. In the autumn the year begins anew – will we ever break that cycle of school year in our minds?
Hearty meals. Red wine. Candlelit dinners and asters.
And rain. Somehow autumn rain isn’t quite as disheartening as summer rain. It belongs. It brings mushrooms, and gives permission to stay indoors. To wear warm clothes and wellies. To feel a bit sad, but in a cosy, forgiving way.
There are also all the autumn walks in breezy, sunny days, the dramatic cloudy skies, and landscapes ripe and dry.
And all those autumn flowers – every seasons seems to have its colour, and the colour of autumn flowers is purple. Michaelmas daisies, asters, crocuses, morning glories, oh my.
I didn’t really mean to take this picture – my finger hit the button by accident when I was putting the phone away. A rather happy mistake.
Turner’s cows, Constable’s clouds. They both stood here, looked at this same view, and were inspired. How could one not be?
The peacock of The Trout. Every pub should have one.
Off the bucket list: walking home through Port Meadow at night. We had the perfect evening for it, even a nearly-full moon.
I love, love Victoria and Albert Museum. I’m a bad museum goer in that I never learn anything, I just admire the aesthetics of the displays. And I’m drawn to the same displays over and over again, like the Egyptian gallery in the Ashmolean and the performing arts gallery in V&A. The model of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach is new since my last visit.
I finally finished reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novels last Saturday – I started this project at Christmas, so it has taken me rather embarrassingly long time. I think Jane Marple really would deserve her own post, but until then: Sleeping Murder is still my favourite. They do it with mirrors is the weakest of the 12 novels, even if I do love the adaptation, with Penelope Wilton and Joan Collins playing somewhat implausible sisters. I could remember most random details from The mirror crack’d from side to side, and after finishing that novel, went around for weeks ordering daiquiris in bars. Now I just need a new project…
When Instagram introduced this new feature, I resisted pretty hard. Guess what happened next? I call this photo hipster breakfast – the eggs are from organic chestnut maran chickens, the toast is NY sourdough, there’s coffee and Palomino Blackwing pencil and knitting, and all the colours match the plums. I’m morphing into one of them.
Carousel horses. St Giles fair is over and gone for another year, and the summer is over.

Lately

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A spring evening in Oxford, on my way to have a rather extravagant dinner after a day out. This place, its street and back alleys, never stops to inspire me.

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The mosaic floor of Victoria & Albert Museum. I went there to do some serious photography last week, with the intent of mastering challenging light conditions, learning a bit more about certain settings. Wait for the results.

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Antonio Canova’s sculpture The three Graces, portraying the daughters of Zeus – Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia – who were said to represent beauty, charm and joy. In the same gallery, there is a rather hilarious Victorian painting of two men inspecting a marble nude of a woman. Again, a beautiful statue, and a joy to behold, but rather obviously symbolic of woman’s value and place.

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Hyde Park heron. This is not my favourite park in London, but going as I was from South Kensington to Oxford Street to meet a friend, I walked through it, on a glorious spring day. I was rather sad to see the water of the Serpent to be so dirty, and the lake bottom essentially dead. People, please stop throwing your trash anywhere and everywhere. The nature deserves better.

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Cow parsley skirting the hawthorn hedge.

20140421-171815.jpgConstable’s Clouds. The skies on Staurday were particularly dramatic, yet the early evening was warm and tender.

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Forget-me-nots, growing as weeds in the flower beds of the University Parks.

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20140421-172124.jpgA quick visit to my secret place, the Jericho cemetery, on my way home from an afternoon in the pub with friends. Minutes later, the rain came. The bluebells are at their best, the cow parsley growing high, the beech leaves just on the cusp of turning green, and the lilacs blooming. I have spent much time outdoors over the Easter holiday, walking a great deal, enjoying the early spring after so much bad weather. I want to grab as much of the spring as I can before it goes, to enjoy the flowers and hazy evenings. In the middle of all this loveliness, it’s hard to believe that the summer has barely begun.

Lately

Past couple of weeks have been both quiet and busy. Quiet in the sense that nothing much exciting has happened, busy because my wonderful assistant left UK for the sunnier shores of the southern US couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been working on my own since then. Somewhere along the way, the autumn has really, truly come – it’s dark outside by seven nowadays, and some adventurous shops already have displays of Christmas goodies.

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I went to Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday. Wonderful ceilings. Wonderful pretty much everything, then again. I love how the V&A is like the attic and the garage and the garden shed of the nation all rolled in one, an enormous collection of the most random things imaginable. A whole gallery, hundreds of feet long, full of wrought iron garden gates? Check. 15 000 silver salt shakers? Check? An ornate wooden staircase leading up to nowhere? Yes, they have got one of those. Actually, probably a dozen of those, but they only display one at the time.

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Also on display, a life-size rhinoceros costume from an early silent film. Yes, this is a costume, not an actual rhino.

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Old and new: 30-ft tall screens made of pinwheels lead to a space filled with bits and pieces of pre-Great Fire London, including the timber frame of a house that had survived the fire but was then demolished in 1860s – no doubt to give way to something really depressing like a car park 😉

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The Renaissance city scape gallery. I love those two doorways. The exhibition of church pieces behind the three-arch gate is pretty amazing too.

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One of my favourite things: the Norfolk House Music Room. The house was demolished in 1936, but many of its interiors were detached from the building and are preserved in the museum. There is something magical about this space, like stepping through the looking glass into another world. A whole room. From another building, from another time.

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Domestic matters: I have mostly eaten vegetarian food this week, like this homemade vegetable ragu.

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Knitting little hats for the Innocent Big Knits campaign. They donate 25p per sold, hatted bottle to the Age UK, to help elderly people to heat their houses over the winter. Learn about the campaign here, and about how to participate here.