Saturday, 30 July 2011

Kevin & Helen get married....

....Today we celebrated the marriage of Kev, to Helen. And what a celebration it was - an incredible day.

The service was held at St.Paul's Church, Chipperfield and was a rather grand affair. It also gave me the opportunity to work my vocal chords, singing boldly to hymn after hymn!

Helen & Kevin

The bride & groom then took a horse & carriage to the reception - at Callipers Hall, which in fact, was the estate of Helen's parents. A vast, beautifully appointed house & gardens, that any description I give, wouldn't do it justice.

There, guests gathered in the sun, drinking champagne, strolling the grounds and eating canapes, before being seated in the marquee area.

Once again, a stunning set up of tables named after their holiday spots or previous residencies. We sat on 'Marylebone' underneath the beautiful floral decorations that towered above each table. The food and wine was superb, (click on the menu photo for full details), starting with mixed tapas, then roast fillet of beef and a sorbet for dessert.

The speeches followed which were all very well spoken - particularly Kev, who composed himself really well. Then a side curtain lifted to reveal the band and dance floor, getting the party started in earnest.

And then we danced. And danced. And danced.

A fantastic day, where the the bride & groom looked hugely happy, as did all the guests! Congratulations both.

[full slideshow]

Friday, 29 July 2011

Robin hits 30....

....In my absence from his celebration proper, Robin & I went out to dinner tonight to celebrate his turning 30.

He decided upon Railroad Cafe, which was an inspired choice. Having only eaten breakfast there, I was unsure what their evening menu was like. It was good.

We started with crispy pig skin with avocado and chilli dip.

Then roast mackerel in a tomato sauce with potatoes.

Then for dessert I went for lemon pollenta cake, whilst Robin went for stewed apricots & sour cream.

We went for a pint after at the Kenton, then on to Off Broadway for a whiskey sour - the perfect digestif.

A great evening and a perfect, civilized celebration. Happy birthday Robin.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hoop dreams....

....A sunny Sunday, (finally), brought about the realisation of a much talked about activity between Kel & I. 'Throwing A Ball'. Or, as I prefer to call it, shooting some hoops.

3 pointer

And so we did. I popped out to buy a ball and over we went to our local court by Brick Lane.

Kel shoots from the hip

Clearly, we missed alot more hoops than we hit, but it was good fun on a Sunday morning - Kelly introducing me to the rules of netball, that hasn't convinced me from my opinion that it's not a patch on basketball!

Jordan-esque. No?

I pretended too often I was Michael Jordan, only to be beaten by Kel in a shoot out. Dear dear.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Farm friends....

....Kel and I met up with Richie, Anne and Clem for a spot of lunch at Hackney Farm.

Clem, Anne, Kel & Rich

Clem, in the spirit of her dad, took to the meat over the veg at the dinner table.

I want Daddy's sausage!

As usual, she was on fine form, although I am now the newly named Auntie Roy, despite her acceptance of my beard!

Not guilty!

After lunch we took a stroll towards Brick Lane, reminding Richie of his old Manor.

Kel, Clem, Anne

A lovely afternoon catch up.

Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011....

....At 27, Amy Winehouse has died. A sad time for British music, as she really was an exceptional, but frustratingly troubled talent. RIP.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A 69er at Pizza East....

....With the impending exit of Liam and Doug from their tenure at 69 Goldman Close, we decided to go for dinner to celebrate the last few years.

Pizza East, as it so often is, was our destination for the feast. Antipasti of cold meats, olives & cheese was the perfect start.

Before the real deal of perfect pizza from the oven.

All washed down with some fantastic red wine, it was an excellent dinner and a reminder of what will be no more, once they both move on.

Ross, Doug, Liam & Kel

Good times & sad times!

Sunday, 17 July 2011


....I thought I'd be reviewing many other films before this one. So I'll not dwell on it too long!

After pretty decent press reviews, I thought it worth a look. Kelly had missed the chance to see it with her girlies, so I was her counterpart for this one.

It certainly did provide many a belly laugh, but seemed to get a little bit lost in itself when trying to touch on more genuine emotional moments. But that was fine - it's a comedy after all. And an enjoyable one. However I thought the inlcusion of some British cast somewhat odd. Although Chris O'Dowd grew on me, despite his odd accent, I thought there was little reason for Matt Lucas' one dimensional, predictable dumbed down Englishman cameo.

But we can put those to one side. It's a giggle - perhaps even more so for boys than girls. But, for sure, you'll both laugh.

Cheese dreams....

....Nothing quite like a Saturday night in with a cheese board!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World....

....I was drawn to this exhibition purely by it's poster, I won't lie. (Never judge a book by its cover, Roy).

I loved the black & white, the geometry, the shapes. It's my allure toward an almost African art style that does it. Anyway, I had no idea of the movement, so it is always great to be introduced to one.

Founded and led by Wyndam Lewis, Vorticism was born at an unfortunate time, just as World War I began. It seemed to be a clash of Cubism, Futurism and Abstract art - and that is where I struggle to see where Vorticism is in fact its own. Wyndham Lewis wanted those affiliated with the movement to be regarded as Rebel Artists.

Wyndham Lewis, Laboratorio, c. 1914-1915

For me it just didn't work. Particularly as artists like David Bomberg, when invited to exhibit in a Vorticist show, disassociated himself with the movement, preferring to be called a Cubist. Strange.

David Bomberg, The Mud Bath, 1914

Individually the work of the Vorticists was good. I like it. But it is either Futurist or Cubist. I don't see how it can be anything other, no matter how hard Wyndham Lewis tried. Also good, was their quarterly magazine, Blast.

It was seen as a means to promote their manifesto, and was broken down in to a series of things that the Vorticists, 'Blasted' and things they, 'Blessed'.



The magazine showcased not just art, but also poetry and stories. That's also where the Vorticists tried to claim a difference. But, ultimately the unfortunate era in which they tried to exist, but also the lack of real substance and direction, saw the Vorticists movement disappear a few years later. It's not really regarded as a pivotal movement in art history, and I can understand why. So, as a show, I quite like the work. As a movement, I can't regard it as one.

Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978-2010....

....Kel & I visited the Whitechapel today for this show. Having written about Struth as part of my dissertation, (he one of the Dusseldorf school tutored by the brilliant Bechers'), I was very excited to see the exhibition announced.

Despite his vast body of work, the show is incredibly accessible and none too exhaustive. I'd usually say this is a good thing, but I could have happily walked around a whole lot more.

Thomas Struth

Struth's photographs are, more often than not, huge. Vast formats of intense colour and pristine detail. They swallow you up, suck you in, literally put you in the frame. Contemporary photography is often criticised for adopting this technique, (of size over substance), to hide the fact that the content is not at all interesting. This is not the case with Thomas Struth.

The exhibition showcases a range of projects, over a 32 year period. In the Family Portrait series, Struth encourages his subjects to assemble themselves how they want, with the only direction to look straight in to camera. Whilst this seems simple, it unwittingly portrays a lot about each family, their relationship and lifestyle.

The Smith Family, Fife, Scotland, 1989

Struth's studies of cities, largely taken in the 90s and in black & white, (the only monochromatic images in the show), are ghost-like studies, each with a beautiful depth of field. They seem to act more as documentation of the city, a frozen moment that would then be lost. And with that, they're absorbing.

In more recent work, Struth achieves his goal of 'wanting to be the eyes of a painting, looking out at all those people who are looking at it'. To realise this, he visited National Galleries and historic sites around the world and photographed tourists gawping at works of art, oblivious to the photographer's presence.

And in even newer work, 'Paradise', Struth has set up more of an installation - four vast images taken in dense Asian jungle foliage, hang on each wall that surround you. Once again, you're there. Consumed in the shot. The images have nothing to read in to - we're invited to determine from them what we choose, whether that be a certain paradise, or in fact a dense hell.

It is well worth a visit - even if you're not a photography fan, there is plenty to admire. But if you are, then it's a given.

Another exhibit of note, within the Whitechapel's grandiose Gallery 2, is that of Fred Sandback. I found this all the more rewarding, as it is an artist I had never heard of before. Trained as an architect, Sandback creates installations, using acrylic yarn, that produce what is effectively a 3d drawing.

One of Fred Sandback's installations at Whitechapel

Precise and perfectly realised, they act as an installation, but also an architectural structure, that can be walked around and through. Beautifully constructed and so simple, I loved it.

I also appreciated the examples of poster artwork, with detailed drawings and well thought typography that he created for each of his past shows. And, despite his books now being out of print, I managed to track one down and purchase it, before it was too late!

Go as soon as you can.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Le tour....

....A few of us gathered for a pie and the daily round up of le Tour de France highlights, at Look Mum No Hands last night.

A la France

A stage that Cavendish narrowly missed out on, (but he was to take the following day's with a classic sprint victory).

Richie & Ben tuck in

A good evening and a reminder of just how exceptionally fit / brave / daft, these cyclists are!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Nick & Liz get married....

....Nick & Liz celebrated their marriage in the North East, at Kirkley Hall, Ponteland.

It was a lovely setting, with beautiful grounds, and the weather just about held out.

The service and reception were in adjoining rooms of the lovely ground floor space. Following dinner, the speeches were made, with Nick and his Best Men brothers, Andy & Chris, talking superbly.

Chris & Andy do their worst

Nick in particular gave a speech full of warmth and in particular, courage, describing his late mother & father and how he wished they could have been there. The room was weeping for him, Chris and Andy and it underlined their incredible spirit, strength and reminded me of the incredible respect I have for them all. The mood remained upbeat, however, and soon the tables were removed and the DJ and dancing started.

First dance, (Queen, You're My Best Friend)

There was even time for bacon and sausage sarnies later on! A fantastic afternoon and evening and a joy to see such a happy bride and groom. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Weir!


Thursday, 7 July 2011

House Festival....

....I was fortunate enough to be offered a ticket to this along with a couple of work friends. I'm glad I accepted.

The festival, (if you can call it so, such is it spread over one afternoon and evening), is held on the grounds of Chiswick House and is hosted by Soho House. The latter meant that the hospitality was superb - free food and drink...and what food - everything from lobster, to hog roast and cheese boards. That made me very happy.

But aside from the fact it was a grotesquely middle class, media swamped affair, the music line-up wasn't half bad. Plan B and Stereophonics headlined, (after Tiny Tempah and KT Tunstall, amongst others, had played).

The 'Phonics in particular, surprised me as I found myself singing along to their greatest hits, (God, I must be getting old!). And, love him or loathe him, Plan B was entertaining, sang well and showcased the hits.

Plan B

It was a really fun evening, that carried on with a good old dance at High Road House until the small hours. Thank you.