Category: Visit London

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

Silver Speaks @ V&A

Animus, by Kevin Grey,
Photo PH Morton

Silver Speaks @ V&A

The above beautiful shining solid sliver abstract fine silver work which is an exhibit, rather caught my eye. The silver smith craftsman made five and from what I learned cost £72,000.00 each. If I were a multi millionaire+. I think I would indulge myself 🙂

The Maker’s diagonally stamped Hallmark can just be seen near the top.

This is just one of many wonderful silver work exhibits many dating back hundreds of years, in the ‘Silver Speaks’ exhibition, held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The V&A is well worth a visit if you can when in London.

 

St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

IMG_0737
St Andrew By The Wardrobe Church

St Andrew By The Wardrobe is a very interesting church peacefully nestled along Queen Victoria Street in the City of London.

What made St Andrew by the Wardrobe unique from the many other Church of England churches dotted along the City of London is the array of immaculate long sleeves shirts, suit jackets and trousers on display as well as hundreds of pair of shiny shoes.

Apparently the clothes are from the Suited and Booted charitable organisation, giving men the chance to be suitably clothed to attend a job interview, among others.

I thought the suited and Booted charity is a very appropriate project to be sponsored by the church afterall it is the Wardrobe church.

The church was designed by the great English architect, Christopher Wren, though it has been rebuilt at least a couple of times, having been a victim of the Great Fire as well as being bombed during the Blitz.  The current church was opened again to the public in 1961.

The history of the church started in the 13th century, during the reign of King Edward III. The immediate area around the church is called the Great Wardrobe, as it became the place where King Edward III moved his state robes and other effects from the Tower of London. St Andrew’s Church became better known as St Andrew by The Wardrobe.

The Church has great connection with William Shakespeare.

It is a beautiful church, very woody. If you want to visit it the address follows below:

St Andrew by the Wardrobe
Parish Church
St Andrews Hill & Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 5DE

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower and the Parliament Bldg, photo by PH Morton

Elizabeth Tower, photo by PH Morton

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower was formerly known as the Clock Tower.  It is part of the imposing, one of the most famous landmark of London, the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is often identified by a  misnomer, Big Ben.  In actuality, Big Ben is the huge 13 tonnes Great Bell located at the top of the 360 feet high tower.  The four-face clock became operational on 7 September, 1859.

The Clock Tower has been renamed as Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

British Museum

British Museum

British Museum, Photo by JMorton

British Museum

Did you Know?

The British Museum is the first public museum in the whole world.  It first open its doors in 1759, free to visit for the studious and the curious.

The museum has some of the most important and relevant exhibits in the whole world.

 

 

 

Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden

pergola corridor, photo by PH Morton

pergola corridor, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden

For me, Hampstead Heath is the real gem of London and at the heart of it is what is locally known as the Secret Garden.  Not many knew of this garden’s existence.  It is not well sign-posted.  We only found out of this garden more than 25 years ago when we stumbled upon it while we were out walking at the Heath extension towards Wildwood pond to look at frog spawns.

The secret garden is really called Hill Garden and Pergola.  It is a very tranquil and romantic place; very verdant place with all the plants flowering from trees, bushes, bulbs, climbers and borders.

The pergola is strewn with roses and clematis.  It is a romantic combination of Italian, French and English garden ambience.  Only a few people would wander down to this sumptuous location.

I keep thinking that it could be the perfect venue for a wildly romantic wedding or even a marriage proposal.

If you happen to be at Golders Hill Park, try to drop by the Hill Garden as well which is about 500 metres away.

Now that the weather is really more spring-like, why not bring a book and wander down to the Secret Garden of Hampstead Heath.  It would be a treat.

Jellied eel – a traditional Eastend Recipe

Jellied Eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel, photo by PH Morton

Jellied eel – a traditional East-end Recipe

Peter had been wanting jellied eel  – made to a traditional East-end recipe, for ages.

On his birthday, just before Christmas last year, he had his wish granted at Manze’s pie and  mash & eel shop (known as shops as opposed to being called a restaurant or cafe). The shop is adjacent to the Chapel Market in Islington North London.

We visit Chapel  Market around Christmas time every year for our fresh vegetables, meat etc., for the festive family meals.

Anyway,  it was rather lucky that Manze had not run out of the eel delicacy yet when Peter enquired as usually eels are off the menu by lunchtime!

Jellied eels are served as a side dish to  pie & mash.

The traditional pie  is normally made of suet based pastry pie containing  minced beef. The  mash  is mashed potato.

The delicious green tinged liquor served as a gravy with pie & mash  was traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels,  but nowadays mainly from the parsley used with cooking of the jellied eels.

Peter said he enjoyed the jellied eel but I am not too sure as I think I saw his face turned rather green at some point. 🙂

When I was still a little girl, eels were quite a delicacy in our province in the Philippines.  It was fun trying to catch them because they were so slippery; it was almost impossible to catch them without a net. The eels used to live in dykes around our ricefield.

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

photo from www.rainwaterharvesting.org

The dykes were so clean, that you can drink from them if you are desperately thirsty but we used to go up further afield to the waterfall, which sourced our farm.

With a feat of engineering, my father was able to harness the water directly from the waterfall using a course of bamboos which carried the water not only into the field but to my mother’s huge water clay jars as well, giving us fresh, cool drinking water.  The taste was definitely better than any bottled mineral water that are on sale nowadays.

Anyway, I digress!  When we caught enough eels after much screaming and hilarity, my mother would salt them liberally to remove the slime and then she would cook it with sprouts from vines (not sure of the name of the plant, will find out) growing near our farmhouse which give a very sour taste; perfectly delicious.

Eel is delicious eaten hot but I am not too sure about cold jellied eel.  I couldn’t really comment too much because I turned down Peter’s generosity to taste his eel meal. 🙂

Anyway, he said it was good and that is good enough for me.

If you happen to come across some eel to cook here is the recipe for the jellied eel.

INGREDIENTS:
900g eel
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
Juice and zest from a lemon
handful of fresh herbs such as parley, thyme an coriander, chopped finely
Fish stock – 600 ml (1 pint)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped finely
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
Bouquet garni
15g Gelatine

Method of Preparation:
1. Skin and bone the eels but do not cut them up. Lay them on the table, skin side down and sprinkle with grated nutmeg, a little grated lemon zest and the chopped herbs.
2. Cut the fish into pieces about 4 inches long. Roll up each piece and tie with strong cotton or fine string. Put the stock, vegetables and bouquet garni into a saucepan and bring to he boil. Add the eels and simmer very gently until tender, for about an hour.
3. Lift out the fish take off the cotton or string and place the eels in a basin. Measure the stock and make up to 450 ml (* pint) with water.
4. Add the gelatine to the lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine, then add this to the hot stock. Stir until completely dissolved. Strain this over the fish and leave to set.
5. Turn out when cold and serve with a green salad and sliced gherkins.

Jon Jon Briones is Miss Saigon

jon jon briones

Jon Jon Briones is Miss Saigon

As an wedding anniversary treat from the hubby, he took me to see Miss Saigon as I have been longing to see it for a very very long time, since its original inception back in 1989, but have not had the opportunity.

Though I really wanted to see it, I was moaning at Peter for booking it.  I don’t understand myself sometimes. LOL

Anyway, in the end, I truly enjoyed the show, very much so. It was much, much better than I thought.

The Prince Edward theatre was in the heart of London’s famous West End so called theatre land. It is not the biggest venue and thus it is more intimate that you see the cast with no problem.

All seats were taken  ; a ‘full house’ as they say in theatres.

I was  quite surprised as it has been running for over a year already.  We did not see any empty seats. Miss Saigon is a hit!

It was very realistic.  the opening scenes was surprising,  seeing  women cavorting in their underwear, simulating sex & erotic dancing made me feel rather a bit of a voyeur, but I got used to it quickly as the show has no ‘lows’ it was just one amazing act after the others. You must go and see Miss Saigon if you can.

It was actually different and better seeing acting and singing  live to an audience rather than watching flat celluloid/movies.

I applaud the actresses to be going out night after night in their skimpy costumes, doing all manners of acrobatics, mainly sexual! lol  Nice!

The orchestra was conducted well too to keep the singing and music flowing to the story.

But the night or probably night after night,in my opinion, the stage belongs truly to  Jon Jon Briones.  He makes  Miss Saigon the hit it is.

His singing is powerful.& he owns the stage when appearing. Everytime he was on it. you only concentrate on him.  He has humour, he has pathos, he has salaciousness, he has deviousness and he was able to bring out the motivation of the situation he was portraying.

It is all about the American Dream as most Filipinos and Asians long for. Jon Jon easily connected to this aspiration.

Of course the rest of the cast are also brilliant. I was expecting the cast to be made up mostly of Filipinos but there are plenty of Korean actors.

Newcomer, Eva Noblezada, whilst no Lea Salonga (the original lead Kim),  has that vulnerability required for her role.  Her singing is sweetly pure with a touch of purring a la Britney Spears, I thought!

Gigi was well played by Natalie Mendoza who gave the role sassiness and very overt sexiness and wantonness.

Chris Peluso’s Chris, I thought, was rather weak. Perhaps his character was not fully realised. What came out was a very dorkish man, who is too dramatic and not really know his mind. It was really hard to sympathise with him.

I thought Sangwoong Jo’s Thuy was more fanciable. Kim should have gone with him and not kill him but probably Kim is really after her own American Dream all along by way of Chris or any G.I.

Overall the stage effects, music, singing, dancing and acting were superb and standing ovations to the cast and crew were given by us the appreciative audience. We saw why it had won many awards and critical acclaim,

Miss Saigon is of course based on the consequences of the Vietnam war .  Its theme  was partly based on one of my favourite Puccini operas ever – the ‘Madame Butterfly’. I want to see next!.

Bangers and Mash

Bangers Mash, Photo by PH Morton

Bangers Mash, Photo by PH Morton

Bangers and Mash

Bangers are sausages.  The name bangers came about during the Second World War.  This delicious parcel exploded when fried because of its high water content, thus called bangers.

Bangers and mash with onion gravy is definitely a comfort food.  Easy to make using ready-made mash potato mix and gravy granules and of course the sausages.  But to make this recipe that extra bit more special, we have below a recipe that is easy to follow and yet will give you a creamy mash to go with the sausages.

Ingredients:
8 sausages
2 large onions, sliced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp English mustard
5 Oxo cubes preferably beef or chicken cubes dissolved in 600ml hot water
salt and black pepper
2 tsp softened butter
2 tsp plain flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the mash
900g potatoes, peeled and chopped into equally sized cubes
50g butter
100ml milk

Preparation method

Using a large frying pan, heat the oil. Fry the sausages until they have turned brown/golden all over.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry with the sausages. Transfer the sausages and onions to a covered container to keep the heat in. Set this aside.

Using the same frying pan, make the gravy by making a paste out of the soften butter with the plain flour. Add the dried herbs and mustard. Pour in the chicken or beef stock and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil. Lower down the heat to simmer, until the gravy had thicken.

For the mash, (I would actually start cooking the potatoes first before frying the sausages) cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water until tender.

Drain.

As the potatoes are mashed add the butter, milk and season with salt and pepper. Mix until the mash is creamy and smooth.

To serve, make a bed of mash potato. Top it with a couple of the cooked sausages and fried onion.  Drizzle with gravy.

Enjoy!

……

Tidbits:

Did you know?

Queen Victoria was very partial to sausages.  But the sausages she craved were hand-chopped rather than minced by a machine.