Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cyprus: the laziest of holidays

Last week, Marcus and I packed our hand luggage suitcases with pinpoint precision and hopped on a super cheap flight to Cyprus to absorb some summer sunshine. We arrived in the middle of the night and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was still beautifully warm, which boded well for the rest of the week.

We were staying at the Capital Coast Resort and Spa, where we had a little studio suite which was perfect for all our needs. As this was a studenty holiday, we'd decided to cook for ourselves and so this little suite was packed full of all the essentials (including a blender and a crazy shower!), and was wonderfully light and bright.

Our days became pretty routine- up early enough to grab the perfect spot by the pool, splashed and lazed around all day until dinner, which was followed up by a couple of drinks in the bar while watching the sun set over the sea. This was all perforated with a few games of chess or contract whist and frantic suncream reapplications.

One night we even ventured out of the hotel. Our escapades took us to a wonderful little Chinese restaurant just down the road. (Yes, in Cyprus we opted for chinese...) The food was much more 'home made' than the chinese restaurants you find at home and was absolutely delicious. We ate under the light of chinese lanterns in a pretty, themed garden while being serenaded by a singer from the bar next door.

It was an incredibly lethargic trip, but I have to say, exactly what we needed after such a busy year. I came back with a respectable tan (Marcus was many shades darker!) and feeling thoroughly relaxed. Definitely the perfect way to kickstart summer in ernest!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and The Halcyon Gallery Private View with Lorenzo Quinn

The sun was shining gloriously as my mother and I caught an early afternoon train up to London. We had an art filled day ahead of us as we'd been lucky enough to be invited to the Halcyon Gallery to privately view a collection by Lorenzo Quinn, and even have a chance to meet the artist himself! I was incredibly excited as I've been a huge admirer of his work ever since I first saw an aluminium sculpture of his called "The Force of Nature," a stunning depiction of nature's struggle to keep the world in balance. But first, off to the Royal Academy to soak in their Summer Exhibition.

The Summer Exhibition is one of the largest open exhibitions in the UK. This means anyone can enter work, giving the selection committee up to 10,000 pieces to sift through to find the final 1000 entries! As you can imagine this leads to an interesting and varied exhibition. (Sorry for the lack of photos- I couldn't take any inside!)

On a personal level, I found the exhibition to be a mixed bag. There were some pieces I found absolutely stunning, while others I'm sure you could have found in any pre-school or tacked to fridges  up and down the country. Then again, I'm not art expert so what would I know?
One piece I found particularly fascinating however was a sculpture of a mule which, when you turned a wheel, proceeded  to draw a picture of him self. I think that anything interactive has a tendency to draw you in that bit more and this was why this sculpture stayed with me.

After we'd trundled around the entire gallery, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and headed to Green Park for a spur of the moment picnic. A lot of sushi and a lovely lemon tart later, we could be found sprawled in the sunshine, books in hand.

Soon however, it was time for the gallery viewing so we headed off to Bond Street. We'd arrived at the Halcyon some time before the main party to have a good look around at Lorenzo Quinn's sculptures before the place filled up with people.

As we were shown around, our guide talked us through the concepts behind all the pieces, which mainly focused on the forces of love and unity. I'd never seen so many pieces of Quinn's art in one place before so happily pottered about looking and re-looking at everything there. Once we'd finished our tour, mum and I popped off for a little retail therapy, promising to return for a glass of champaign later.

After a quick trip around Selfridges and trying on a couple of hats in Fenwicks, we were back. The gallery was packed with people all sipping on glasses of bubbly and munching on canap├ęs. Suddenly, we were very glad we'd gone earlier since now it was near impossible to see the art. Fortunately, the artist him self was not so hard to see and so we managed to have a quick chat with him in which he told us his female forms were modelled on his wife!

Lorenzo Quinn's work is spectacular and I cannot encourage you all enough to try and hunt down some of his pieces and see them in real life. They'll blow you away!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

May Week, Cambridge

May Week is the traditional name given to refer to the period after exams at Cambridge University. It's a time where students can blow off steam and many of the colleges have extravagant balls. Luckily for us, these balls often have wonderful firework displays which can be seen from the river. Therefore last night, my mother, Marcus and I wrapped up warmly and headed down to a bridge over the River Cam to watch the Trinity May Ball fireworks.

Kings College

Despite spending a large amount of my time in Cambridge, I aways get blown away by how picturesque it always looks.

The fireworks were amazing, lighting up the sky timed to a variety of music from modern to classical. There were even blooms of fire shooting up along the neighbouring bridge! The combination of the music, fireworks reflecting in the river and the beautiful setting really made this a magical night. The rain even held off until after the show too!

Many people had taken to the river to watch the display, rafting up under the bridges. Once the show had commenced, we watched them all dreamily punt back up the river before heading home. 

Much Hadham Open Gardens

One of the best things about living where I do is that I have access to both big, bustling cities as well as the serene British countryside. This was fantastic growing up as one moment I'd be in my town coat being whisked off to see a West End musical, the next I'd be up a tree in the middle of the forest. This weekend, my mother and I decided to go off to one of the local villages, Much Hadham, to wonder around peoples' gardens. The village was holding a charity event, where by the villages opened up their gardens and put on cream teas and music, all in the aid of St Elizabeth's. I love events like this- there's always a wonderful sense of community spirit (and who doesn't love being nosy every now and then?!). Anyway, I thought I'd share with you some of the pictures I took that day.