Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Petry Museum

As a kid, going through the obligatory mummy obsession, book after book on Egypt mentioned the Petry museum. So many of the really cool objects were in this museum’s collection and I dreamed of going to it. (Okay, I was a nerdy kid!)




Well, I finally went and it was just as cool as I hoped. It’s kind of an old style museum with loads of cabinets and very dry, academic labels (even for the phallic objects, which is quite funny). There’s just so many objects from mummies and sculptures to spindles and needles.





I spent hours there (again thanks to the patience of Lenny!) taking loads of photos and would love to go back again.


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Wanderlust Wednesday: The Northern Line- Part 1

The Northern line is a real doosy. I’ve split this one up into two posts so the first one is my walk from Morden to High Barnet. (The second post will be the epic walk from Edgeware to Kennington.)

Nothern Line

I started off at Morden and walked to Balham (it was convenient for where I was living at the time.) I’d never been anywhere near Morden and it felt very suburban walking from there to South Wimbledon (a euphemism if I ever heard one) and a very straight, long road from Colliers Wood to Balham. Broken up with very, very different neighbourhoods that ranged from very suburban (hardly feeling like London) to feeling like I was in another country (which I think is really cool- ie. This is a xenophobic anti-immigration free zone) with African and Middle Eastern shops and a very non-suburban feel and an amazing lamp post.

Nothern Line

Another day, I met my very patient friend, Lenny at Stockwell for ‘a quick walk’ (walking from Balham to complete that stretch) and once again while we passed through Stockwell, it absolutely poured down with rain. It stopped (thankfully) as we walked towards Oval and then London Bridge.

Nothern Line

From Colliers Wood to Balham to London Bridge the Northern line follows a single road. A distance of over 7 miles! No screeching carriages around curves on this stretch! (Although to be fair, I’ve never taken the Northern Line all the way to Morden- I got the bus to get there!)

We passed through the city and I experienced for the third time the weird disjointed feeling when I compare where I walked from – Balham (or Morden) to the City of London. From a suburban (and not so up-and-coming) residential area to the pinnacle of the world’s financial markets where on weekdays the people going into the sky scrapers wear suits that cost more than my rent for the year.  Welcome to London.

Back out of the city, through Angel and King’s Cross (again) and north, up Hampstead Hill (more like a cliff face) and onward to Finchley. Watching the trains pull in and out of King’s cross (and getting a severe case of the travel bug) and then walking to the next station I was surprised once again with how post-industrial and run down it still is. Though since Google announced it’s offices moving here, it won’t be up-and-coming for long- it’ll be expensive.

We walked past Camden, Tufnell Arch and then Archway and a really cool second-hand shop with a nautical theme (and completely incongruous with my budget even if I wanted to carry a ship’s wheel with me for the rest of the walk.)

Nothern Line

Finally, we gave it up at East Finchley and stopped at a surprisingly nice pub tucked in to one side of the railway bridge. I really enjoyed making the bar tender guess where we had walked from.


Photo courtesy of Runny Custard Photography

Another day, we finished the walk from East Finchley to High Barnet- including Millhill East (a very annoying appendage to the main High Barnet branch of the Northern Line but passed the Dollis Brook Viaduct- an incredible feat of engineering and a big surprise to stumble across.

Finally at High Barnet-  the end of the line.

Nothern Line


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#FF: I need a holiday.

Various situations have arisen and collided to create a desperate need to go away for a few days (or hopefully longer!). Obviously, while I’m daydreaming, here are some of the places I really, really want to see before I die.

The dome of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Source.


I need to go to Chicago. Birthplace of modernist architecture and home of a very good friend. Found.


Hong Kong. You might not even have to try too hard to talk me into that boat. Found.


The Pantheon in Rome- No I’ve not been to Rome yet. Yes, I’m crying while typing that. Found.


I cannot believe I’ve still not been to Paris. 3rd try lucky? Found.


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#FF – Animal Fashion

Isn’t this the cutest? Miriam Brugmann on Etsy

Lovely bird necklace by MimiJewels on Etsy

Bunny! It looks so soft too! Pull lapin – Nouveautés – France


Perhaps the cutest of all! Miniature Needle Felted Pocket Barn Owl by alishaharms on Etsy

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Book Review – London: A Biography

This review is a long time in the making. I started reading London: A Biography almost a year ago. I think it took me so long because it’s over 900 pages long and as one of the definitive histories of London, it can be rather dense. Peter Ackroyd (or his editors) made a really good decision by making each chapter a manageable length and just enough to read before bed. Reading a chapter before bed of a 900 page book meant that it takes ages to finish.

London: A Biography has been called a definitive history of London and I think that’s a fair description. In both scope and time periods covered, I don’t know of too many other books written on London or anything else  that attempt such a range. It covers London from prehistory to very near the present day. (London without the Shard already feels dated.) It also fairly comprehensively discusses both ‘high’ historical concepts as well as the social history of the city. It is very much a popular history book though and the emphasis is very much on entertainment.

Sometimes when an author attempts to cover too much, the results can be very simplistic with sweeping generalisations that are desperately trying to create a narrative out of what is essentially a list of facts written into prose. The length of this book renders that a general impossibility, however Akroyd does have an agenda and his own generalisation about London. He emphasises the continuity of London ranging from dubious claims of the same social activity perpetually occurring in certain geographical locations to short histories of the building activity on a certain modern footprint (like St. Pauls Cathedral).

The social history of the book is very much written from a privileged position. There is a token chapter on women and children and one on the east and the south of the city. These chapters felt awkward and the topics worked better when included in the main body of the text (to which an attempt was made). Ackroyd also at points seems to justify the timeless nature of the homeless in London as inevitable and just the price to pay for progress. London seems to romaticise and condone the inhuman way Londoners treat each other, that is to say ignoring them. It seems to collectively clear the conscious of London and absolve Londoners of any responsibility towards their fellow citizens.

For a popular history book, I think London: A Biography straddles general appeal and good history very well. There are shortfalls, but I think it’s worth the investment of time to read. It aims to entertain and generally achieves this. Who knows, you might just learn something too!

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Liverpool

Back in July, we went to Liverpool for a weekend. Despite staying in the worst hotel ever (VERY noisy, uncomfortable in terms of bed and temperature, and expensive because we didn’t plan in advance), Liverpool was fantastic for a weekend away from London.


Typical of our traveling strategy, I suggest the silly and impossible (Penny Lane was unfortunately too far to go to go sing the Beatles song there), we go to as many museums as humanly possible and I get coerced into eating food I’ve never had before (and usually like it).


As well as getting talked into tapas (which I loved), I was also talked into a boat tour of the Mersey. I really think this was the best way to see what Liverpool is all about. Throughout the weekend, we hit up three or four museums and I was pleasantly surprised. I only say I was surprised because I’m so used to the quality of most museums in London that I’m a massive snob and because I really didn’t know what to expect. We avoided the Beatles Museum (even I thought it looked like too much of a tourist trap and I love those.)

The Museum of Liverpool was really, really good. It had a good mix of ‘high’ historical and ‘pop’ historical. So, it had exhibits on the roots of the city, football, and the Beatles. The building is really cool as well!


The Maritime Museum was really interesting. I thought I was permanently sick of seeing boats after the Museum of London, Docklands, but I really enjoyed seeing Liverpool’s history with great exhibitions international trade, and wartime actions (including some things you can play with!). It also had a large section on the Titanic which I found really moving. It was one of the only times that I was actually able to understand the scale of the ship and the disaster.

At the top of the Maritime Museum is the International Museum of Slavery. This museum is pretty new and I had head mixed reviews. However, I thought the entire museum was curated perfectly. It was informative and sensitive without being overwhelming. It simultaneously showed the horror of the slave trade and the cold hard facts regarding the economic trade of human beings and the human side of it. The museum put slavery into the context of the time period whilst also explaining the historical implications of it, for example the American Civil Rights movement.  I’ve never seen an exhibit, let alone a whole museum, that so clearly and respectfully shows the scale of slavery. I would say that the Museum of Slavery is worth the trip to Liverpool on its own.


All the museums we went to and most of the weekend was centred on the old docklands area. The regeneration of the Liverpool docklands is an example of where regeneration works really, really well. It, of course, was an area for tourists, but it seemed to be an area for the locals to enjoy as well. (We saw some people getting ready for a night out nearby. In Liverpool, you know when someone is going for a night out. I haven’t seen heels that high since I was in Italy.) The Liverpool docklands should be a blueprint for other cities attempting to do similar projects that want the space to actually be useful and used.


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Making: A New Dress

I have a bit of a head start on one of my new years goals. I’ve already started making a companion dress to the project I finished almost two years ago.


It’s still in the very early stages yet and I tend not to sketch out what the finished object will be until later when I’m working out the details and finishing. Anyway, here’s a preview of what I’ve finished so far.


I’m looking for it to be as ghost-like and ephemeral as the original dress. I like the web-related projects to be both seen and seen through, there and not there, delicate, and above all, subtle.

The hardest part, to me, is the finishing and displaying of the object. A painting, obviously needs a frame, but how do you display a dress that is meant to be seen from all sides?


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