This weekend, for the first time ever, I had a public showing of my art!

As a bit of history, I started painting in 1997, while studying in the US. That’s where I first discovered oil pastels and I loved them. Then I moved on to oils and I loved them even more 🙂 Now I also like to use ‘buttery’ acrylics that can recreate the thickness of oils but dry much faster. After 2001, I painted less as I was too busy enjoying life 🙂 However, this year, after moving to Greenwich, I got so inspired by the strong artistic community around here that I decided to restart and accelerate my art-related activities and, for that, I rented a studio nearby, at Second Floor Studios in Woolwich. When I visited the site I was very impressed with the size of the community as well as the variety of artists working there. And, as they hold annual Open Studios events, this was my first one. Here is my studio, as it looked over the weekend.

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Overall, it was an amazing experience as I was able not only to show my art to strangers and get some very nice reactions and comments but I could also go around and see what other people create across the site. I’ve met lots of neighbours and I saw lots of interesting things and techniques.

Here are some photos of the studios I visited and art pieces I liked:

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The various reactions I’ve seen recently to a transgender person winning the Eurovision made me realise how hard it is for people to accept what they believe is “anormal” and how hard it is to open your mind and question your prejudices.  Here are some quotes I like that are related to this.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” 
― Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” 
― George Eliot, Middlemarch

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” 
― Isaac Asimov

“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.” 
― Albert Einstein

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” 
― Mark Twain

“It does take great maturity to understand that the opinion we are arguing for is merely the hypothesis we favor, necessarily imperfect, probably transitory, which only very limited minds can declare to be a certainty or a truth.” 
― Milan Kundera, Encounter

Today we went to Norfolk. We haven’t been there in a while and I was looking forward to see the see, the beach at Old Hunstanton and have a nice lunch at the Ancient Mariner. Unfortunately, this was not what we got! I like fish pie so I ordered their “homemade fish pie with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables” but this is what I got:

It was the worst fish pie I’ve ever had: full of mayo! I did try to get the mayo away (the photo shows that cleaner version) but then I realized that all the vegetables are sitting in the mayo so I got so put off by the whole dish that I could not eat anything at all!

Dirk did try to get some of the mash and fish. This is how his plate looked after:

He could not eat any vegetables at all, obviously.

Very big disappointment. We were there once before but we seem to have been lucky with whatever we picked the other time. When we told the waitress that we could not eat that food as it was swimming in mayo she said she will tell the “chef”! Seriously, calling whoever cooked that a “chef” is a bit too much! I don’t think anybody gave a damn anyway as nobody came back. We just left the place and promise to never get back there.

We’ve just come back from a long weekend in Kent. While the weather was not the best we still had a very good time going around. First day, when we drove down, we made a quick decision to spend the day at Leeds Castle instead of Sissinghurst (as initially intended), as the weather was amazing. And no regrets at all. The Leeds Castle as well as the whole area around it are very interesting and beautiful. Here are some photos from there. The highlight of that visit were the flower trees (sorry, no idea what trees they are) on the bridge near the castle entrance. Amazing explosion of flowers! The castle itself is also very interesting as it combines very old areas (it was built in 15th century) with modernized areas able to accommodate a 20th century living.

        

The next day we went to Canterbury. It was much colder than the previous day so I had to buy some warmer clothes. Also, we did not see much sun that day. We spent most our time in the Cathedral.

Next day, on Easter day, we went to Sissinghurst garden,  a very famous National Trust property created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Even though the weather was again not that good, we really enjoyed that place. It’s really beautiful and the spring flowers made up for the lack of sun! Here are photos from there.

    

Our visit to Sissinghurst was followed by a trip to see Rye, as I’d read that it’s a very pretty old village. I wasn’t sure initially, but when we got to Mermaid St., where all the cobbled stone streets started and we went up to the church it was indeed a really lovely place. Here are more photos. We did not spend much time there this time but we’ll definitely be back!

Overall, it was a very relaxing weekend while we again saw beautiful and interesting places. Never a dull moment in this country 🙂

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I’ve just got a camera I cannot have enough of: the Fujifilm X10! I really wanted a small camera that can take low light pictures so that I don’t have to carry a big camera when going into London for shows. I have to say that I fell in love with this camera immediately even though I am not a big fan of vintage look. But it’s so sleek while also well built, so simple while also quite serious looking. The pictures are amazing and it had so many features you can’t have enough of playing with it. The only downside is the battery lifetime but that’s a small price to pay for such a jewel: I’ve got 2 spares 🙂 Here are some of my first photos with the camera, with more to be found in my recent Picasa albums.

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Update (18 Oct. 2013): the thing about battery was not true! It does last quite long but not if you keep the camera on all the time 🙂 I still love the camera after almost 2 years of usage!

This year we decided to mainly explore the area around us, so we spent some time in Norfolk, which has a pretty long and interesting coast and nice villages with very specific house style, similar to this one:
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We also figured out that Norfolk has lots of beautiful and imposing country houses besides Sandringham for which it is more famous as that is the place where the royals spend their Christmas. Over multiple trips up there we visited Sandringham, Blickling Hall, Houghton Hall, Oxburgh Hall and Holkham Hall. During our longer stay in Norfolk we also visited Burghley House, in Lincolnshire. Besides impressive houses, Norfolk also has beautiful and varied beaches and the famous Norfolk lavender.

“The important waves of technological change are those that fundamentally alter the place of technology in our lives. What matters is not technology itself, but its relationship to us.”

From “The Coming Age of Calm Technology”, by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, 1996

After reading in Bill Bryson’s book, “At Home”, about the history of radio and how Marconi set up the first public broadcast station in the Writtle village, near Chelmsford, I wanted to go and see what is there. Nothing much related to that famous piece of history can be found there, as it seems that the shack from where the transmission was made was moved to Sandford Mill, but Writtle is a very cute village with well kept, imposing even, houses.

Half timbered house

Village green with duck pond

We also had a very nice lunch in the Rose&Crown pub:

Rose & Crown pub

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On Saturday we went to visit a nearby garden, the RHS Garden Hyde Hall. We were not very sure if it is worth the £7 each entry fee especially as the rain kept coming and going but, in the end, it was very nice. The entrance is not very enticing though, as it is still under growth, but the more you go up the hill the more interesting it becomes, with dry area plants, roses, dahlias, a beautiful pond with lilies and another pond with lots of fish. We loved it and here are the photos from there.

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