Events, treatments, activities all get featured here, in the lifestyle section.

BGO’s Blogger Casino Night for WWF

On Thursday night I attended my very first blogger event, invited by the Joe’s Blogs Network and BGO. It was a casino night, with croupiers teaching us how to play roulette and blackjack. I had an amazing time, and once I arrived at the event and the butterflies in my stomach feeling had faded away I had such a laugh. It was incredible to be among several bloggers who I already followed, as well as to see some new faces too – I have a lot of reading to do!

BGO CasinoBGO meetup

It was a great night, with the winning formula of unlimited prosecco, pizza and the adrenaline rush from the roulette wheel. We were given some credit and all proceeds from the event went towards supporting WWF, which is such a great and worthy cause.

BGO BGO Meetup

BGO Casino Night

Some of the lovely ladies from the event – check them out! Skylish, Miss Geeky and Squibbvicious

BGo prosecco BGO blackjack

BGO Casino night

Thank you to Joe’s Bloggers and BGO for having me – I had a blast!

BGO Casino Night

RA Blogger Preview Event | Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album and Le Relais de Venise Entrecote

This week has been one of the busiest and most exciting I’ve had in a while. I attended my first two blogger events, the second of which was a blogger’s viewing event at the Royal Academy of Arts for their new exhibition – Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album. Dennis Hopper is better known for his cinematic work, in Rebel without a Cause (1955), Blue Velvet (1989) and Easy Rider (1969). He was also a keen photographer, and The Lost Album presents photographs he took between 1961 and 1967 in America.

Dennis Hopper Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964 Photograph, 16.69 x 24.92 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964
Photograph, 16.69 x 24.92 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963 Photograph, 17.25 x 24.74 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963
Photograph, 17.25 x 24.74 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

As a child of the 90s, this event and the exhibition really made clear to me what a confusing, frightening and exciting times the 60s were. Through the lens of Dennis Hopper, all the different aspects of the 60’s we are all familiar with came together for me. In the Lost Album you see the decade in all its glamour, with portraits of models, artists and actors like Paul Newman, Andy Warhol and Jane Fonda, as well as struggle, which you can see in the photographs he took at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. It took all the events that I had only understood previously as these discrete events or moments of history and visually presented them to us within the context of the time. As a former anthropology student I was far more fascinated in these images, of people during the civil rights movement and of the artists then I was at some of the photographs later on in the exhibit.

Dennis Hopper Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965 Photograph, 17.02 x 24.87 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965
Photograph, 17.02 x 24.87 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper Untitled (Blue Chip Stamps), 1961-67 Photograph, 24.97 x 17.12 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Untitled (Blue Chip Stamps), 1961-67
Photograph, 24.97 x 17.12 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Aside from the dramatic and moving photos of these events the photograph that really drove it home for me was a picture of Roy Lichtenstein in front of one of his pieces. When I was in high school in New York, I lived in a group of apartment buildings connected to a plaza by the river, which had a couple of diners and cafes attached to it. We used to hang around there and eat onion bagels coated with butter on our lunchbreaks at the diner, which was decorated with large scale Lichtenstein imitations on the walls – the whole place was yellow and red and it just seemed so tacky, loud and almost pedestrian. I hated it. But in the Lost Album, seeing Lichtenstein sitting in front of his work, and in the context of the whole exhibition it was so incredible to see how fresh and new his work was in its time.

Dennis Hopper Double Standard, 1961 Photograph, 17.45 x 24.87 cm The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

Dennis Hopper
Double Standard, 1961
Photograph, 17.45 x 24.87 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. www.dennishopper.com

The exhibition took place in the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens in Piccadilly. We arrived a little early so we got a glass of wine before we went in to the bloggers preview area. The cocktails for the event (a deliciously summery fruit mojito) were provided by the Atelier cafe, in the lobby of the Royal Academy. The cafe is gorgeous, and looks like how I’d like my kitchen to look – I’ll definitely be back for a spot of lunch!

Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album Royal Academy Dennis Hopper Royal Academy Wine Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album 2014-06-27 13.49.14 Atelier Royal Academy Royal Academy Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album

Wine Atelier mojito

After the event, I took Mr A to somewhere I’d wanted to take him for a long time – Le Relais de Venise Entrecote. I almost don’t even want to write about this place as I don’t want more people to go! Le Relais de Venise have several branches internationally, in New York, Manchester and France. We arrived around 8.30 on a Friday night, and waited 45 minutes to get in – they don’t take reservations, but boy is it worth it.

Le Relais de Venise

Le Relais de Venise only has one item on the menu – so if you are a vegetarian or not a fan of steak then this place isn’t for you. The first item that arrives is a gorgeous walnut salad with a lemon-y dressing with some french bread. It is absolutely divine, and a lot more exciting than it might sound!

Walnut salad le relais de venise

The main is a gorgeous steak cooked to your liking – blue, red right up to well done. A fan of all things raw I took mine blue, and it just melts in your mouth. It comes with a side of fries and coated in the most incredible sauce. The first time I went to Le Relais de Venise a colleague of mine claimed he wanted to bathe in it, it’s that good. It’s almost a curry like flavour to it, but it’s creamy and delicious and a well-guarded secret. A few years ago a French newspaper claimed they had cracked the sauce, which they claim contains chicken livers so I’ll have to try it out for myself soon!

le relais de venise

We washed it down with a bottle of their house red, and the waitress came by again with seconds after we had cleared our plates. It was absolutely divine – I only wish they’d open up a branch in Muswell Hill! At this point I was so full and an incredibly happy girl, but Mr. A wanted to got a tarte au citron after all that queuing which was also delicious.

tarte au citron It was also lovely to see the lovely lady behind the Wonderlusting blog at the RA bloggers event, who I had met at the BGO blogger meetup event the night before, which I’ll be covering in my next post!

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Fatal Attraction to Shoryu Ramen

It was one of those unbelievably beautiful London days that it seemed almost a shame to be going inside last Saturday. But my sister and I, both nursing hangovers were pretty happy to be doing so, especially as we had managed to snag an unbelievably good deal. For a tenner each we’d managed to get some amazing seats to the West End production of Fatal Attraction at Theatre Royal Haymarket. As children of the 90s we were both really excited to see Kristin Davis (Charlotte York from Sex and the City) play Beth Gallagher in Fatal Attraction, based on the film of the same name. Londontheatre royal haymarket

But first, we had to eat – and as we were pressed for time (we went to the 2:30 show) we wanted something quick and delicious. Luckily, Shoryu ramen which we have been multiple times was just around the corner, so we popped in for a Shoryu Ganso tonkotsu ramen.Shoryutonkotsu ganso ramenshoryu tonkotsu ramen

If you are up for authentic, quick and tasty ramen then Shoryu is definitely worth popping into. The broth and noodles are delicious, and the pork and egg perfectly done, with a little runny in the middle. I washed mine down with oolong tea, and we were in and out within half an hour. Back in Japan, the best ramen places are always the dingy ones that truck drivers frequent – and is meant to be eaten fairly quickly as the noodles can get ‘long’, or soggy. If you are up for a long, leisurely feast of Japanese cuisine then I wouldn’t recommend the fast-paced and bustling Shoryu for you. As a pre-theatre lunch it was perfect, and we managed to get back in our seats with plenty of time.shoryushoryu

The show itself was really great – Natascha McElhone was hard to keep your eyes off of, she had great presence and is one of those people who looks even more stunning in real life than in films or photos. Kristin Davis and Natascha McElhone both stole the show, and the ending was different to the hollywood version, something the screenwriter had originally wanted to explore before the movie execs got involved. It was darker, which I liked and was such a good day out.Fatal Attraction

We decided to keep chatting about the play over bubble tea at Boba Jam. Bubble tea is quite an acquired taste – sweet milky tea with giant balls of tapioca floating at the bottom isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (haha!) but it was a great way to end a lovely afternoon.bubble tea

 

A Baking Masterclass with John Whaite

Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than baking? I was lucky enough to attend a baking masterclass today, courtesy of Baking Mad, led by Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite. The class took place at the Fair Cake school in Greenwich, just along the river Thames. It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon – baking, drinking prosecco in the sun, and eating cakes, of course!

Fair Cake SchoolFair Cake Schoolfair cake schoolfair cake schoolfair cake schoolfair cake school

We made lemon sherbet cakes and gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip, a sweet version of your favourite childhood breakfast. I won’t share the recipe here as you’ll find it in John Whaite Bakes: Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood but it all tasted incredible, and definitely worth trying out for yourselves!

Lemon Sherbet Cakelemon sherbet cakelemon sherbet cakebillingtons

I learnt a few tips from John today that I hadn’t known before – such as listening to your cake. If you’re not sure whether your cake is done, have a little listen – if you can hear a crackling or a popping sound, it needs a little more time. And when you bake with golden syrup/treacle, dipping your spoon into hot water beforehand will make the syrup slide off of the spoon and into the mixture smoother and quicker.

It was a lovely way to spend the day, and I had such a great time! We all got a few Billington’s goodies to take away also – and I managed to get a signed apron too. john whaite gingerbread soldiers john whaite gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip fair cake school gingerbread John Whaite lemon sherbet cake lemon sherbet cake john whaite

If you ever get the chance to attend one of John’s masterclasses, I highly recommend it!

baking masterclass

Kronos at 40, at the Barbican

For Mr. A’s birthday I got him tickets to see the Kronos Quartet at the Barbican Centre. Despite having lived in London for quite some time, I hadn’t ever been, and I really loved it. While the Barbican might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I absolutely love the brutalist architecture. The combination of the concrete, greenery, the water fixtures (and the weather  on tuesday wasn’t half bad either) makes it feel like you are in an alternate version of the future that people once dreamt of (like in the 1985 film Brazil).

BarbicanBarbicanBarbican BarbicanBarbican BarbicanBarbicanBarbican BarbicanBarbican Barbican

The inside of the Barbican bizarrely reminds me of a Japanese department store, but I can’t really put my finger on why. The architecture within isn’t as inspiring, but high ceilings and a good bar is all I need, really.

BarbicanBarbicanBarbicanBarbicanBarbicanBarbicanI was also ridiculously excited to go see the Kronos Quartet, particularly as this concert was a 40th anniversary celebration. It’s astonishing to see how much they’ve done over the years – and that evening’s performance was a collaboration between them, as well as the UK premiere of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No.6.

Barbican

Jarvis Cocker and Bryce Dessner from the National also contributed and performed their pieces for the evening, which was all very exciting. Before I get into a bit more detail about the performance, I’d just like to declare that I like all the cheesy, cinematic stuff that real music buffs would sneer at me for, but I frankly don’t care. If a piece of music can stir up a memory, or give me goosebumps I’m into it. If I need a whole lot of context to make me understand I can usually take it or leave it, and I have a similar attitude towards modern art. Such a philistine, I know.

Erica Jeal, from the Guardian wrote this article about the evening, and I think on the whole (from his reaction immediately after the show) Mr A. agreed with her on most points. I got something completely different out of the evening, but I enjoyed myself so much that I’m not sure I mind! The Riley piece which they started with was too technical for my liking, but I was completely covered in goosebumps for the Philip Glass. It just reinforced my wish that if my life ever gets made into a film (like in Jiro Dreams of Sushi) that Glass is used as part of the soundtrack. Although not executed faultlessly by the quartet, I absolutely loved it.

I found the Dessner piece enjoyable, but not particularly memorable and the Jarvis one (which included playing a musical saw) sounded like how I imagine an alien abduction might. I didn’t care for the Mariana Sadovska, which got my hopes up considerably when they opened it, describing the significance of Chernobyl and ethomusicology – to me, it sounded like a call to prayer, mixed with the Moulin Rouge-version of Roxanne overlaid with the heavy breathing and babbling of a lunatic (sorry). I just wasn’t that into it, I guess.

As an encore, the Kronos Quartet played a 1920s tune called Last Kind Words, which was lovely, and my favourite – Death is the Road to Awe, from the film The Fountain. Mr. A shared the same enthusiasm for the last piece as Jeal did, but I, like an idiot was grinning and nodding along – I was delighted.

All in all I had an amazing time, and will definitely be heading to the Barbican for more as there’s so much going on! I only wish the Kronos Quartet could have indulged me and played the soundtrack from Requiem for a Dream, which might be one of my favourite soundtracks of all time. For now, I’ll just have to make do with this: