Friday, 25 November 2011

Pick up a penguin

Last night The Boyfriend and I went to a talk by the chief scientific advisor for Frozen Planet put on by the Friends of Stroud Green Library, who served wine and retro penguin biscuits.  Nice touch. 

 Now The Boyfriend has has a physics degree which he doesn't get to use day to day. So he was particularly excited about lots of graphs and scientific explanations from Dr Mark Brandon. The Boyfriend tells me his best result at university was in oceanography and he thought about applying to the British Antarctic Survey.  However I know what he's like in the cold so don't think that would really have worked out.

I enjoyed the talk as the whole thing was grounded in great stories about how the whole Frozen Planet was put together and the life of a polar researcher.  More importantly there was a half told story about being given a black eye and a bloody nose by a penguin.  I love penguins. other news I don't want to jinx things by getting too excited but there's a good chance - a very good chance - we might be in our new flat by New Year... cross your fingers please...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Birds of a feather...

The golden warm autumn days returned briefly to London.  Briefly, as in on Saturday I only needed a cardigan, but by this morning there was fog everywhere when I woke up. Gloves and scarves c-o-l-d.   But as I say, Saturday was glorious. So The Boyfriend and I headed down to Barnes to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

We spent the first part of our visit in the hides overlooking the wetland and saw cormorants, great crested grebes, little grebes, bittern, wigeon, cranes, oyster catchers, different kinds of gulls, swans, ducks and geese. There was a rumour that mallard ducklings had hatched because of the weather fluctuations, but we didn't see any. Hope they've survived.

I particularly liked this little chap who we think is a Nene or Hawaiian Goose. He took a shine to The Boyfriend and tried to peck a chunk of his Redwings. Yes that's right, once again The Boyfriend cut a dash as a Shoreditch squire on an outdoorsy day out.  

The highlight of the day was just before dusk when all the birds started to flock in the half light and we were surrounded by tens of whistling ducks making high pitched calls to each other.  And just as we left the bats started to cluster.  Such a lovely day out and only an hour across London too.  I think we'll go back in spring or summer to see how things have changed.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Birthday: Part 2. Manon

My final present from The Boyfriend was 2 tickets to see the English National Ballet at the Royal Opera House.       

We started the evening with an early dinner in Les Deux Salon in Charing Cross. We have been meaning to check out the restaurant for ages. I ordered monkfish with tiny sweet onions and The Boyfriend had pasta with pumpkin and mushroom.  I don't think the food is as good as Arbutus but we had a lovely meal anyway.

I enjoy contemporary dance but didn't know much about classical ballet before we went so I looked up the plot of Manon on the internet earlier in the day.  

The ballet is set in 19th century Paris and it is the story of a beautiful but poor girl - Manon -who falls into the world of aristocrats, beggars and courtesans.  Manon and a young student called Des Greiux are in love and they try to run away together. However her corrupt brother Lescaut has promised that she'll become the mistress to an old wealthy aristocrat and she is seduced by the promise of comfort and riches. The lot of a classical heroine is rarely good, and the unfolding story is a genuinely moving tragedy.  The performance itself is fantastic and I was surprised how clear the story telling was. Even if we hadn't looked it up it was easy to follow what was going on. 

The dancing was beautiful with amazing shapes and lines from strong charismatic dancers.  The leads were amazing and conveyed the tender and passionate relationship between De Greiux and Manon. My favourite scene was in De Greiux's student room. The ensemble cast were also brilliant and there were brilliant mini-vignettes danced by the ensemble dancers that helped establish the narrative but also add humour. 

Overall it was an amazing experience.  The orchestra sounded fantastic. The hyper modern bars and restaurants felt super glamorous. The gold and red colours in the theater and porcelain blue 19th century ceiling are opulent. But most importantly I experienced the whole thing with my lovely boyfriend.  We've cut back a lot of things this year because we've been saving for the wedding, moving and like everyone else worrying a bit about what the future holds. I've been feeling the strain a bit recently so this was a particularly thoughtful treat.  One of the reasons I love The Boyfriend so much.    

Manon is still running until 26 November and if you can get tickets then I'd highly recommend it. 

Please Please let me get what I want...

Now I'm a huge fan of The Smiths, albeit a fan who was born a few years too late. A Smiths fan who could empty the year 11 common room by putting How Soon is Now? on the communal stereo and still used to ache whenever she listened to that track in her twenties.  A Smiths fan that bought Morrisey's solo stuff even though most of its not as good as The Smiths and Morissey is disappointingly, well, a bit of an idiot left to his own devices. A Smiths fan who turned up a Morissey gig carrying gladioli 15 years too late.

Smiths loving credentials established? Good.  I therefore feel entitled to say how amazing this John Lewis short is about a little boy getting excited about Christmas presents. 

The Boyfriend showed me this on Friday night and by the time we got to the twist at the end I had tears in my eyes. Enjoy.


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Birthday: Part 1. The Presents

So it was my birthday on Wednesday and I had the most wonderful day.  I had amazing presents from The Boyfriend:

Lovely homeware gifts from two of my favourite interiors shops, including this lovely blanket for autumn snuggling hibernation and this enamel milk pan for autumn hot chocolate.  I love the colours and I would probably not have picked them myself so they were a real treat. 

 A DVD of A Single Man which we saw this together at the cinema when we first started dating. Gorgeously shot and one of the most beautiful romantic films.

That book by Caitlin Moran that I haven't got around to reading yet.

I also got some lovely flowering plants from my parents. An orchid which adds a vibrant shot of pink against the grey walls in our living room and which replaces the many orchids I have managed to kill over the years.  Some pretty (as yet unidentified flowers) and a hyacyth which will smell sensational when the flowers start to open up. 
My favourite present however is probably Esther, the adorable little donkey which The Boyfriend adopted on my behalf.  A private joke between us. I love her and I think we should go to and see her in Norfolk.