Let the countdown begin….
Let the countdown begin….
Having LoveFilm subscription allows me to keep a very good track of films I have seen. Cinema is not too difficult as I went so few times I clearly remember every single visit. Luckily the very few films I have seen this year turned out to be very good.
I started the year with Waltz with Bashir which was very powerful, moving and real despite the fact that it was animated. I took advantage of the free ELLE subscribers offer and saw Charlie Kaufman’s very gloomy existential struggle in Synecdoche NY; then Coco avant Chanel which I loved very much; next one was rather funny and heartwarming Away We Go written by Dave Eggers and directed by Sam Mendes, and save the best for last Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Public Enemy no 1 with the amazing Vincent Cassel. I have of course missed a number of films I wanted to see like Fantastic Mr Fox, Katalyn Varga, An Education and Katyn but luckily there is Prince Charles Cinema and DVDs to catch up.
TV series were a big part of this year, my obsession with Mad Men (I cannot understand why BBC are not showing series 3 yet), BBC’s Emma and Cranford showed my addictive nature. I also got to see the wonderful Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons.
I have seen more movies on DVD than ever before, it was bit of catching up on all the classics and cult films. There was lots of Woody Allen (some great, some not so great), lots of Polish cinema (Wajda’s War trilogy; Kieslowski’s Scar, Blind Chance and Camera Buff; The Saragossa Manuscript; The Interrogation), I saw boys’ classics: Robocop, Repo Man, Death Proof, Vanishing Point, The Evil Dead, Scanners, a super girly flick Miss Pettigew Lives for a Day and true cinema giants like 8 1/2 and Aleksander Nevsky and many many more. It was a good year.
This is my list for 2010:
von Trier’s Antichrist
Trueba’s Belle Epoque
Minghella’s Breaking and Entering
I am Cuba
Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence
The Aki Kaurismaki collection
Kusturica’s Do You Remember Dolly Bell? and Time of the Gypsies
Fellini’s La Strada
BBC’s North and South
The Captive (I saw Time Regained earlier this year)
Cantet’s The Class
Zhang’s The Road Home
Haneke’s The White Ribbon
Vidor’s The Fountainhead
Le Conte’s La Veuve De Saint-Pierre
Lamorisse’s The Red Baloon
Bertolucci’s The Conformist
And I think I will have to start the year with Avatar, not my choice but wifely duty calls!
I had a great day today and yesterday, I have posted near to 30 items on ebay and they caused a stir! Fingers crossed all will sell which will give my wardrobe much needed breathing space. I have decided that if I haven’t worn something for a year or longer I will never wear it again and it must go. I have also revisited the boxes of designer treasures that are not such treasures now I look at them, no classics, time to go. My fashion investments will remain in the bag and shoe stock.
I have loaded a bag for charity shop and will deliver it to Oxfam with all the ebay failures.
You know all the tasks that get put away like mending your clothing, polishing shoes and sewing missing buttons on? They have been staring at me from the depths of my wardrobe for some time and yesterday I finally faced them all at the same time. Such a relief.
I have invested into a small catering business in Philippines on Kiva. I really hope these ladies do well.
I have purchased two nice belts from All Saints, in brown and black leather. They are my only sales hunts so far, unfortunately the other belt sold out so I don’t have a picture.
I have really cracked on with my book pile, I have managed to read:
High Raise the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger
Seymour an Introduction by J.D. Salinger
Nine Stories by J.D.Salinger
I know it is a lot of Salinger but he is such a good writer, I also found out that he is still alive, 100 years old!
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski
The Faithful River by Stefan Zeromski
I have decided to put away Ulysses and The Corporation, at least for now.
So the only remaining books left are Tropic of Capricorn and some Chekhov stories and plays. This means I will be able to move onto some brand new books very soon. Really looking forward to it.
I have watched the 2 new episodes of Cranford and am awaiting the DVD of the first series, I might even start reading the books. I am quite glad I have not discovered it earlier because I am in real need of a costume drama fix.
I have made it to Tate Britain today to see the wonderful Turner and the Masters show, they had some amazing Rembrandts and Canalettos. I also checked out the Turner Prize which is definitely better than last year’s and glimpsed at some beautiful sculptures in the hall. This reminds me of few more exhibitions I must see and the time is running out. Especially for Ed Ruscha at The Hayward (Friday 6.00-10.00pm two for one deal) on till the 10th of January, Maharaja at V&A till 17th January and Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill at The Royal Academy till 24th January. I knew I left it too late and now will have to rush.
The Mill by Rembrandt
And tomorrow I will have to take it easy….
Today I have been recovering from the Christmas festivities we had. All the eating, drinking and late nights took a toll on my body so I am taking it very easy and going to bed early to get some restorative sleep.
Christmas eve is a big deal in Poland when we gather and have a big meat-free dinner consisting traditionally of 12 courses and a spare plate for a lost traveler. A friend of mine and I took the responsibility of introducing our British friends to some of the dishes. I was in charge of dumplings with cabbage and mushrooms (M is a master in making the dough) and borscht, my friend was in charge of a cabbage stew, potato salad and tomato and root veg fish stew which we call fish a la Greek but funnily no Greeks have ever heard of this dish. We rounded the evening up with M’s gran’s Christmas pudding which gets better and better every year.
We cycled merrily home at an ungodly morning hour when quite near our house I spotted a beautiful lush Christmas tree left behind by the traders so in a drunken craziness we decided to save the tree from a sad death. We don’t buy Christmas trees but at the time it seemed like such a great idea to take this one home. When we woke up the next morning there was a huge tree lying in our living room and we spent few hours to try and fashion a suitable stand to make it stand up. It is nearly standing straight but it doesn’t have any ornaments as we don’t own any, we also have been too hungover to try to create some, perhaps we can do so in the next few days.
Christmas day was all about gifts from our dear ones and lots of phone calls followed by a dinner with the same friends, this time they were cooking a vegetarian feast for us. The table was bent under a delicious spread of various roasted winter veg with gravy and bread sauce followed by yet another Christmas pud. This time the cycle home was uneventful.
Today I was barely able to stay awake and spent the day reading and watching TV (which btw is shockingly bad this year) but bravely, hubby and I made our own Christmas dinner with succulent roast chicken, potatoes, parsnips and brussel sprouts with chestnuts. No dessert was needed.
Now I am lying on my bed with a cup of peppermint tea admiring the gift I got from M, a beautiful ring from Alex Monroe. One of the absolutely nicest things I was ever given. He has done well ;)
I have been channeling my inner Betty Draper over the last couple of days. I cooked and baked and cooked. Tonight we have a Polish Christmas eve dinner followed by a British Christmas dinner tomorrow, all with the same friends. It’s going to be so much fun with lots of bubbly and games. Hope you all have wonderful time!
This year the best Christmas decoration award goes yet again to Carnaby Street. They always put so much effort into it and create fun and original ornaments. If only the shops were any better…
This year I have seen more of Britain than ever before and next year I am intending to continue this way. Within a short train trip you can be in the most beautiful countryside or precious little town, learning British history and sampling delicious food.
I went to Wales twice: for Easter and Guy Fawkes night in November. I go to Wales very often as my mother-in-law lives there, every visit is very enjoyable and full of activities be it shopping car boot sales and antique shops, visiting wool mills or walking along the coastline. This year we went to Mwnt and Aberporth. Mwnt is a small beach near Cardigan surrounded by hills with some amazing flora and if you are lucky you can even spot a seal or a dolphin in the Irish Sea.
Aberporth is a small holiday town with great coastal walks and a waterfall on the beach.
Springtime saw me in Oxford discovering the Pit Rivers Museum and enjoying cream teas.
Summer was about Kent. I went to Rye which is truly stunning with its wiggly cobbled streets, harbour nature reserve and lobster dishes.
And to Whitstable – a little fishing village specialising in oysters and colorful beach houses.
The last trip of the year was to Leeds but if I am really lucky I could squeeze perhaps another one during the Christmas break.
I didn’t travel that much abroad, only Poland and Paris, both very enjoyable though.
There is no holiday plans for 2010 yet but I definitely want to visit Bath and Chawton inspired by the Jane Austen guide, Bexhill-on-Sea, Margate, Hastings and Dover, Salisbury and Stonehenge and some of Oxfordshire.
As for bigger holidays I really don’t know, of course there are places I’d like to see like Morocco, Croatia and some more exotic destinations, definitely Amsterdam (my friends’ infants are growing fast!) so fingers crossed something will come out of it.
I have not read a book for a bit which is very unusual for me. Maybe it is because I am forcing myself to read books I own and haven’t read yet, or perhaps I ditched the tube for a bike loosing up to 1h of valuable reading time a day.
Very often I read book after book and when I get to # 5 or 6 I can’t concentrate anymore and need a break. I don’t stop reading entirely but engage in magazines and short stories instead until the book hunger pang strikes again.
At the moment I am reading short stories by Chekhov, Bukowski and J.D. Salinger. Chekhov has been one of my most beloved writers forever, his elegant and pure style is a big part of my literary education. I read all Bukowski’s books in one go and got a slight overdose while reading his short stories but I reached for The Most Beautiful Woman in Town again and I am enjoying it a lot. As for Salinger, I loved Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey but couldn’t engage with his stories, I had a second approach at Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters this morning and I can’t wait to go back to it when I get a free moment.
My book pile is getting smaller and smaller, I was really hoping to be done with it by the end of the year but I really don’t think this will happen. The few books left to read are:
Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller
Ulysses (2 failed attempts – what I need is a right moment in the future)
The Corporation by Joel Bakan (not feeling it at all so might skip it)
The Faithful River by Zeromski
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
And a few books that I am planning to read afterward:
Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat and Travels with Charlie: In Search of America- I have to ration his books as they are so good!
Capote’s Summer Crossing
Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
start on Proust
I’d like to try something by Anais Nin as never read her before and some of the Persephone classics
Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier, the only things I have not read by him and I adore him!
Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned and This Side of Paradise
Ayn Rand’s Anthem and also her biography, she fascinates me and if we are talking of amazing women I really must read D.V. by Diana Vreeland
A friend of mine mentioned a wonderful bookshop in the back streets of Wimbledon apparently piled with second hand classics for a song, I shall be visiting this treasure trove for sure.
Oh, almost forgot, I am also reading Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City by a wonderful publisher Little Bookroom. Have a look at their website as they have the most amazing and unusual guide books with true insider tips. I have read half of the Bath guide last night, city that I have been meaning to visit for a very long time, and need to plan a short weekend trip very soon given that is it only a couple of hours away. The book is beautifully illustrated and tells stories from Austen’s life while taking the reader through various parts of the city.
Looking back at 2009 I have not read that many books but the ones I’ve read were mostly very good. The favorite ones being:
Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Vonnegut’s stories, re-reading Slaughterhouse 5 and Mother Night- I went through some Vonnegut phase few months ago
The World of Coco Chanel
The Love in Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Tender is The Night and whole lot of Fitzgerald’s stories
High Rise by J.G. Ballard – I couldn’t stop thinking of the Trellick Tower, and a very good biography of Erno Goldfinger
Collected stories by Nikolai Gogol
Now it’s time for some festive fun, been listening to Billie Holiday’s album 40 Hits and it’s about the time to break for Christmas, starting at The Champion with some friends (lucky I didn’t cycle to work today!).
Thank you for your lovely messages, it really made me smile. Things got more cheerful and last week’s drama is over.
We have snow in London! Of course as soon as it hits the ground it melts but the view out of my window is so pretty. We may even get proper (read: 10cm if we are really lucky) snow for Christmas, wouldn’t that be nice?
It’s busy at work and we are still unsure whether we are working next week or not. Usually we close for almost 2 weeks break.
My house is decorated now and I did all the gifts and cards apart from the hubby. All that’s left doing is the food shopping and a bit of baking. Having said that I really don’t feel like thinking about food at all, this is due to a mountain of biscuits and mince pies on the desk next to mine that keeps diminishing and I am the only one in this room! New Year’s detox is essential.
Last weekend I went to Sadler’s Well to see Swan Lake. I didn’t hope for much as it is Matthew Bourne’s production and as I suspected it was very commercial and not my cup of tea at all but for £10 I shall not argue. Beforehand we popped to Harlequin for a drink, it is a very small and cozy pub in Arlington Way, they serve very good mulled wine which was such a perfect thing to have on a cold night. Sad it is bit too far to become my local.
Now, how am I going to cycle home if it keeps snowing??
Due to various events last week (work related) I have been feeling down. I took 3 days off and they turned out to be very unproductive, I can’t concentrate and can’t get excited about anything. Even seeing those bunnies didn’t make me smile.
Yesterday I went to Spitalfields Market as it was the vintage day but failed to get inspired and left empty handed. Then I saw Orla Kiely sample sale at Truman Brewery so I decided to check it out. The queue was long, I waited for 1 hour feeling like I shouldn’t be there surrounded by Orla clad women often accompanied by children, I was definitely not in the gang. As I moved up in the queue and started to see the items on sale I realised why I am not an Orla fun. It’s all very nice and good quality but it’s not me. I wouldn’t mind her interior design stuff which is to die for but her clothing is not my cup of tea. So being about 5 ladies away from the door I walked away.
Today I woke up in a slightly better mood. I have cleaned my whole house which was very therapeutic, went through my wardrobe and photographed a bunch of ebay stuff – I was very ruthless with my clothes so now there is a bit more room. I am only wondering if it’s worth selling stuff before Christmas? The post office queue will be horrific and surely people don’t have the time to bid in a pre-Christmas rush…
I also came up with a butternut squash pasta bake and here is the recipe:
1 butternut squash diced and de-seeded
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsb thyme
salt and pepper
handful of grated parmezan
Heat up the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Place the squash on a baking tray and season with coriander seeds, chili, thyme, salt and paper and sprinkle with olive oil. Roast for 20-30 min until the squash gets soft and slightly caramelised. Take it out and mash it till smooth-ish.
Combine cream, parmezan and season well.
Mix the mashed squash with pasta and check the seasoning. Place in an oven dish, cover with cream and cheese and bake for further 15-20 min until bubbly and golden. It’s nice to serve it with rocket salad. The green bits in my dish are spring onions, they don’t work that well but they were on their last legs and I hate food wasting.
Tomorrow I need to finalise the gift list and buy few more cards so I can post everything on Monday and concentrate on a gift for M. We don’t do big gifts for each other (or others), I hate all the money wasting and mindless shopping for items that will end up in a bin. It’s either a thing I am sure the person will love or just few food/beauty bits.
Now I really must come up with something to cheer myself up.