Monday, 21 April 2014

Visiting Childhood

When I was a child, I didn't really like looking at old building or going on walks or exploring unless we drove there first, I like to think that I've changed. One thing I did enjoy when I was young was museums, especially The Natural History Museum. I do enjoy going to see special exhibitions too, especially when they are free!

The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is free to visit and is very popular with school children, after walking through those doors, I can see why.

What brought me to the museum was an article in Time Out magazine. While at work I read about an exhibition about Jacqueline Wilson's work and childhood that currently on at the museum. I loved her books when I growing, a huge fan, I had many of her books, a couple in hardback too, in fact I still have them. Wilson was my favourite author while growing, apart from Enid Blyton and C.S Lewis, so I was really excited to see an exhibition about the books. I also wanted to use my days off, not just to sleep half the day away and do the laundry.

Easy journey to the museum, which is literally a stones throw away from the tube station. I was excited to be out in the sun, on a day off AND it was free to get it. The 'free' part will always make me happy, always. I had to dash ahead of a rather large group of school children. It reminded me of in Budapest on the Chain bridge, having to outrun the herd. This mini heard were fast and even when I got inside the museum, I was surrounded.

The museum layot reminded me of the Pitts River Museum in Oxford in the way it was set up, except far less cluttered, leaving space to breath. The Jacequline Wilson exhibition was on the second floor and took up almost the whole side. We were allowed to takes photos inside but I snapped the floor just before which was covered in the book covers.

The exhibition started off from Wilson's childhood, with a reconstruction of her bedroom as a child, complete with a bookshelf with all the books she read, as well as all her notebooks with her first written stories. There was a section about her family life, her career and how she decided to become a writer. Specific books were concentrated on, such a Tracy Beaker series which inspired the CBBC TV series. I remember when the TV show first started, I loved it, I used to rush home to see it but after the series drifted away from the book, I lost interest. Another book that focused on was The Illustrated Mum, I had it in hardback, the story about a single mother with many tattoos and her two very different daughters. Apparently Wilson was inspired after seeing a young mother, with many tattoos, in a park in London with two young children. Some of the newer stories were featured, including the stories of Hetty Feather, an orphan left at the Foundling Hospital and how she makes her way through life joining the circus. There was also a section about Nick Sharratt, the illustrator who has worked with Wilson on many books.

After taking my time in the exhibition, I had a look around at all the other exhibits on display, including nearly a whole floor on some amazing dollhouses. There was also a very delicate looking Alice in Wonderland chess set, along with many different tea sets, as well as some children's toys that even I used to play with.

The V&A Museum of Childhood was great place to spend the morning and as its not far to travel too, I might look out for other exhibitions that are on.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Jar

I've been good. In fact I've been extremely good, even resisting on holiday in Budapest. I gave up chocolate for Lent and I think I've been successful. I only ate a tiny part of fudge icing on my friend's cake which was the first baked good I've seen from him and he really wanted me to try the whole thing. Apart from that time, I have resisted. I even resisted eating the left over melted chocolate when making making rocky road for people at work. Yes, I have been that good.

By the way, for those who aren't familiar with Lent or was forced to learn about it in school, Lent is a time, 40 days to be specific, that takes place before Easter. It is the 40 days that Jesus wondered the desert being tempted by the devil. Or something along those lines. Anyway, Lent is one of those things that stuck from childhood.

Anyway, at the start of Lent I said I was going to fill a jar with chocolate over the 40 days then at the end of it, eat everything in the jar. People said that it was stupid and didn't make sense. I thought of it as a prize at the end. Now, with only two days to go, I don't feel like eating the chocolate I have stored. In fact, all I'm looking forward to, chocolate wise, is a special yoghurt I bought today. I checked, it will keep til Sunday.

To be honest, I give up chocolate on a regular basis. Every Lent, well almost every Lent, I give it up and every year I succeed in not only making it through the 40 days but also giving it up for longer. Last year was an exception. I tried to give something up but things didn't go to plan, then I was made redundant. I have actually gone without chocolate, sweets, crisps and other such goodies for over a year. Of course I still drank and ate biscuits so it was not for dietary reasons but just to see if I could.

I know I can. It may feel like a cheat seeing as I have to avoid so many others things in my diet now which makes it near impossible for me to enjoy a meal. No wheat, rice, onions, mushrooms, nuts obviously and potato, the latter by choice. Now, no chocolate.

There are two things I know for sure I can never give up. Coffee and dairy. But I think I might have to cut down on certain diary products. Although last time I gave up cheese in all forms for 4 months, everyone shouted at me. That was a weird and uncomfortable time.

Back to the jar I have hidden in my room, as well as some other chocolate delight that I remembered about the other day, I haven't filled it, but there are a few things stored. I wanted to find the mystical white Areo to put in but I cannot find it anywhere, so please if you know, in UK, where I can buy this, please tell me!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

By The Danube

Last day in Budapest was rather laid back. We packed up our suitcase and locked up the flat and all the doors for the last time.

We finally had a proper breakfast and after viewing the choices near by we went to the highly recommended (in guides) New York Cafe which happened to be conveniently across the street. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos of the amazing interior, it felt like walking into a palace or, as I always, it was like walking onto a film set. The food matched the surroundings too. We each ordered, what we thought was, a simple poached eggs breakfast, but what we were given was a delightful looking meal. The eggs came in individual cups AND with salad, as well as our own little extras we picked to go with the eggs. The waiter was really nice too, after I explained about the dread nut allergy that always gets in the way, he brought me some special non nut bread, which was also gluten free! Heaven. Plus the coffee was delicious.

After breakfast we waddled down to the river, stuffed full of our first and sadly last breakfast in the city. We wondered around a market place where some sort of festival was happening before asking buying tickets for the 'simplest boat ride/tour with no lunch'. That is what we asked for and that is what we got, plus two free drinks.

We had plenty of time until the ride and walked along the Danube promenade, past the Parliament and next the the Shoes on the Danube Promenade memorial. The memorial was put in place for the 60 victims shot into the river by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-1945.

On a happier note, the boat ride was relaxing, it felt right to look over the riverside before we left and it was great to see parts of that we hadn't see by foot. Although we travelled under one too many, I enjoyed it, unfortunately, my photos aren't that great.

We took a metro back to our area, couldn't face walking, my ankles had started to hurt, it got worse on the plane. We went back to the Book Cafe and it beautiful ceiling for some more coffee, this time a caramellowcino (or something along those lines) lunch and we shared a blueberry mousse. A perfect end to the trip.

We were lucky to get a lift back to the airport, which was rather smaller than expected. We thought how to spend the last forint (HUF), we didn't, then it was the very long walk to the gate. Just as we had arrived walking across the tarmac and along fenced off tunnels, so we left that way but not before were forced to wait in what could only be described as a warehouse for ages. The plane was also delayed, not helping my then swelling ankles. The warehouse was the place that in any other airport would be the departure lounge.

I was restless most of the way back and was seriously confused and irritated by all the children coming back from Grenoble who were collecting their luggage too. It was sort of good to be home. But after my day off it was back to work, then I wanted to be on holiday again.

Already planning the next trip in my head . . . .