South Bank Poetry Tour

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I love the Southbank Centre and I love poetry, so the Poetry Tour was an obvious choice. I went along with some friends and we met inside the Poetry Library for 6pm.

The tour was led by Chris McCabe, librarian and poet. It began beside the sculpture of Dylan Thomas’ head, situated inside the library. It is the only sculpture made from life, by Oloff de Wet, and was discovered in the basement several years ago. It was unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death in the Poetry Library as a natural home for it. Chris read out some of Thomas’ words about the South Bank as a fitting tribute.

We headed outside, gathering by the poetry stones that were laid in the pavement when this area was constructed. These include some words from Wordsworth, who didn’t particularly like the area, preferring his native Lake District.

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We also heard about the Lion Brewery that used to occupy the site, and about the murder committed here by William Chester Minor. Minor was committed to Broadmoor, and became one of the most prolific contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary, responding to an advert asking for help – let’s face it, he had plenty of time on his hands. The creators of the dictionary had no idea that their helpful contributor was a notorious murderer.

Heading inland from the river, we heard about poet Arthur Rimbaud, who lived nearby (where the BFI Imax is now) in 1888. Stabbed by his lover Paul Verlaine after an argument, he left Camden and returned to France before coming back to London.

We were given audio headsets at this point, and listened to poet Tom Chivers as we explored the area south of the river. We walked by the Waterloo International section of the station, no longer in use, and passed under the station through a graffiti-strewn tunnel.

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Along the way we stopped at the point where the former Necropolis Railway depot still stands. This station took coffins and mourners out to Brookwood Cemetery near Woking, with first and second class carriages for both the dead and the living.

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A little further on and we were standing outside the location of William Blake’s former home in Lambeth, where he lived from 1790 to 1800. His time here was one of great personal happiness for Blake, though he was still deeply concerned about the state of the world: he created his Songs of Experience here. In a nearby tunnel are some utterly stunning mosaics, based on Blake’s poetry and illustrations. They are incredibly detailed and really show the range of his imagination.

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A short walk and we were back to the river. We stopped by Westminster Bridge, because the lion statue from the Lion Brewery is now here. The brewery was bombed during the Second World War, but the lion somehow survived.

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We continued on the south bank, stopping at the final poetry stone with a quote from TS Eliot, before returning to the Poetry Library.

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Wedding up North(umberland)

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I love weddings. I really do. A chance to get dressed up in an over-the-top outfit and enjoy yourself, surrounded by people you (hopefully) know and who are in the mood to celebrate. Of course, not every wedding is a positive experience, but happily the wedding of a family friend I went to last week was lovely.

The wedding took place in Newton Hall in Northumberland. The venue was gorgeous, but it was a shame about the weather, which prevented the photos being taken outside in front of the Hall. Still, a great deal of fun was had by all.
I got this bargainous dress from Collectif a few weeks ago: it’s the Maria Bloom Swing Dress. My mam made me do it: I had a different dress planned to wear, but she persuaded me to get this one. Well, it was in the sale.

Me wearing my new Collectif dress

Awkward mirror selfie

My shoes are ones that I’ve had a long time. They’re lovely and relatively comfortable, but it’s so long since I’ve worn heels that they started to kill me. The bride had thoughtfully provided flip-flops for all the ladies, but I’ve never been able to wear them (toe posts kill me). So I took my own Rollasoles instead. My bag was a charity shop bargain. I did have a jacket to wear but I ended up leaving it in the house, which meant I was absolutely freezing when we got there. Luckily once we made it inside the building it was nice and warm.

The wedding was beautiful, lots of speeches were made and plenty of wine was drunk (mainly by me). I got to see people I haven’t seen for ages, and I may also have had a bit of a dance. Perhaps.

Jewellery brand of the month: Kimchi and Coconut

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Today I’m going to focus on a relatively new jewellery brand, the amazingly-named

KIMCHI AND COCONUT

This brand is made by designer Jessica in Birmingham.

This shimmery shoal necklace is absolutely beautiful.

Shoal Necklace

Shoal Necklace, £40

Continuing the theme, this leopard seal and penguin necklace is incredibly detailed, but I love penguins so much I don’t think I’d ever be able to wear it!

The Chase Necklace

The Chase Necklace, £30

This little wolf brooch is available in three different colours.

Lupin Brooch

Lupin Brooch, £15

The detail on this Frida brooch is astounding.

Frida Brooch

Frida Brooch, £20

I love the glitter on the black version of this glorious whale necklace.

Galactic Whale Necklace

Galactic Whale Necklace, £25

Jess has recently launched a monthly subscription box: check out the site for the latest theme. It’s £30 a month to subscribe or you can buy a one-off box for £35. Check out the #kimchiandcoconut hashtag on Instagram to see some pictures: I particularly love the Van Gogh-inspired starry night necklace.

Take a look at Kimchi and Coconut by visiting:

Website: kimchiandcoconut.com

Facebook: facebook.com/kimchiandcoconut

Instagram: instagram.com/kimchiandcoconut

London Motor Museum

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London Motor Museum London Motor Museum

In my bid to visit every London museum, the London Motor Museum was an obvious choice for my next trip as it is located fairly near to where I live. The museum, which is the only custom car museum in Europe, is a short walk from Hayes & Harlington train station, so I headed down one sunny Sunday.

London Motor Museum

The museum was founded by Elo, a former model and fashion designer, who turned a passion for collecting special cars into this unique museum. It began in 2001 with just seven cars, and moved to its current location in 2007, with a collection of over 200 cars.

Motorbikes

The museum is large and airy, with information boards hanging on the walls. The cars are displayed by theme, with sections for cars of different eras, as well as one for cars from films and TV shows. As well as Mr Bean’s famous yellow Mini, there is a wooden wagon from Robin Hood and there is even a ‘Bat Cave’ with both the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles.

Only Fools and Horses Robin Reliant

Only Fools and Horses Robin Reliant

Robin Hood medieval wagon

Robin Hood medieval wagon

Mr Bean's Mini

Mr Bean’s Mini

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Batmobile

Batmobile

The museum doesn’t just have cars: there is a section with motorbikes and another rather bizarre one with tractors.

A car enthusiast would love this museum. The biggest problem is the cost. The adult entrance fee is a whopping £30 which I frankly wouldn’t have considered paying. I was able to get a much better deal from the Living Social website. If you can get a good deal, however, it’s worth paying this museum a visit.

My kind of vehicle

FACTS

Address: 3 Nestles Avenue, Hayes, UB3 4SB

Website: londonmotormuseum.co.uk

Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm

Prices: Adults £30 (£22.50 online), concessions £20 (£15 online). Annual membership is available.

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 – Royal Academy of Arts

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My longstanding interest in Russia meant that the Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts was right up my street. The exhibition covered the period between 1917 and 1932, when Russia was settling into life post-revolution and artists were first excited by the opportunities the new world presented, then dismayed at the restrictions imposed by Stalin.

During this first fifteen years, artists enjoyed considerable freedom, and revelled in the new possibilities that the new regime offered. However, in 1932 Stalin decreed that Socialist Realism was the only acceptable style for the Soviet Union, ending this burst of creativity.

The exhibition features work by many acclaimed artists, including Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall and Rodchenko. Interestingly it also features film clips of life in Russia, from both films and documentaries about the Soviet regime.

One of the most powerful things about the exhibition had nothing at all to do with art. In the last room, there was a video booth showing photographs of people who had been arrested and sent to gulags by Stalin and his cronies. The faces staring out of the screen are still haunting me.