Books

Books

I love books. Books are my passion. I buy more than I can read and I still have so many yet to be opened from my days as a bookseller, as I worked my way through uni. and shortly after.

So you can imagine my delight when I found myself organising a bloggers event that was to start at Taschen on Duke of York Square.

After some bubbles and a catch-up with a great crowd that included Angie, Suze, Fiona, Emma, Lauren, Aftab, Matilda and Tania, the manager of Taschen (Nolan Browne) led us around the store to explain the background of Taschen’s unique publishing ethos and the wide array of titles in the store.

And as I listened to Nolan telling us about Benedikt Taschen’s agenda to create a greater accessibility to the wonders of art in publishing, I started to think back to my initial purchases as I built my book collection. It was Taschen that published the first Magritte book I bought and I remember picking up this two-book Van Gogh publication (below) from a store in Besançon where I studied for my third year at uni. It was also Taschen that published the first interiors book I bought. And to this day I’m still picking up titles I feel I need in my collection. Thing is, whilst Taschen provided an entry point into the world of art and interiors for me they also publish some of the most exclusive books you can get your hands on – and I want them all!

Taschen Books

Nolan talked us through Taschen’s limited editions …

David Bowie at Taschen, Duke of York Square

… and Sumo books that are sometimes accompanied by limited edition prints. I meant to take a photo of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) book which is something I would love at home. If you’re a Muhammed Ali fan, I urge you to visit the downstairs of Taschen’s store to discover a book that was printed with such care, you’d find the same craftsmanship at the Vatican.

Taschen, Duke of York Square, London

The start of the evening satisfied the book-nerd in me and it also gave me ideas for future gifts. There’s a gorgeous publication on tree houses which is perfect for someone I know who loves architecture and of course tree houses. 🙂

After a tour of Taschen, we all popped over to Manicomio. We could have hopped, it’s so close. And our night here started with a gorgeous vodka-based cocktail called Jagged Wood; a nod to Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery which is a must-visit exhibition whether you love The Rolling Stones or not. It’s very impressive.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And as we waited for our starters to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the shots of truffle soup that were served to us. I love truffles and I savoured the thick texture of this soup. It was a great preamble to our meal.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

For starter I had the yellow fin tuna which was gorgeous too.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And for main I ordered the chicken tagliata with asparagus, artichoke and onions which I had with a side of …

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

… rosemary potatoes.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

Dessert was the buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb, which I absolutely loved.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

As usual Manicomio didn’t disappoint and it was great to finally experience this place in the evening. I’ve always been drawn to Manicomio for lunch or a glass of wine in the afternoon because I love their terrace. So it was a treat to discover the nighttime buzz inside the restaurant.

There is so much to look forward to over spring/summer on Duke of York Square, which I’ll be sure to cover on here. But to give you the heads up, here are some dates for your diary …

  • Chelsea in Bloom – 23rd to 28th May
  •  Strawberries & Screen for the Wimbledon semi-finals and finals  – 8th to 10th July
  • HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday & Commonwealth Market, which will include a street party style occasion to mimic the Queen’s own celebrations at the Mall  – 12th June
  • The BFG Dream Jar Trail’s arrival into Chelsea, which will excite any Roald Dahl fan – 8th July to 31st August

Maybe I’ll see you around?

Chelsea Girl

It’s all in the detail any Virgo will tell you and today I decided to address this need for some colour in my day, especially after yesterday’s post.  So as I made my way along the King’s Road – having popped into Waterstone’s …

King's Road Waterstones

… to pick up Amelia Freer’s much anticipated cookbook – (I’ve pretty much bought most of the healthy cookbooks and apart from Honestly Healthy’s, Amelia Freer’s Eat. Nourish. Glow. has been the only book I’ve been really into. And until today I’ve been longing for a recipe bible to be published. It was only by chance I discovered Cook. Nourish. Glow. when I popped into Waterstone’s to have a browse. I’m so so excited to try out her recipes. 🙂 … ) ….

Amelia Freer Cook Nourish Glow

I digress.

And so after the serendipitous find, I headed to The Nail Boutique inside Chelsea Farmers Market to have my nails done.

The Nail Boutique

The sign of a good place are its regulars and The Nail Boutique has plenty, which is one of the reasons I like popping in here. The cash only payments have only caught me out once. And as well as good manicures that come with relaxing hand massages, the friendly staff too, it’s just another excuse to step into one of my favourite Chelsea nooks: Chelsea Farmers Market.

The Nail Boutique

After my nails were done and as I headed back to the office, my thoughts started to riff on how I spent the last hour: in order for me to feel good, I wanted to make sure my nails looked good. And in order to have the capacity to look good, I needed feel good in the first place.

That’s something I picked up from Amelia Freer’s last book in a roundabout way. Going for the quick fixes (in terms of coffee and sugar binges) when I’m in need of a quick energy boost really doesn’t work. Carefully choosing the right ingredients on the other hand does work. Otherwise it becomes a vicious cycle of highs and lows with little energy for not much else.

It’s only day two of not drinking coffee or grabbing a sugary snack but I’m already astounded at the amount of extra energy I seem to have. It now means I can keep on top of looking after myself because right now – just past 9.30pm and after a busy day at work and running around after Little Man – I still feel full of beans.

I can only hope it lasts.

Chelsea Girl

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Last week I had the great privilege of attending the launch of Moleskine’s limited edition range of Mickey Mouse notebooks, which I think is quite a genius yet unsurprising idea if you think about the legacy of both brands: Moleskine notebooks have been scribbled on by some of the greatest creatives, including Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse whilst Mickey Mouse is probably the most recognised cartoon character in the world. Mickey’s introduction to cinema audiences heralded a new age of entertainment and the beginning of the Disney empire.

(Mickey Mouse Moleskine Video link)

So to celebrate this first-time collaboration and the art of sketching, drawing and design, on a Friday morning was obviously a great start to the end of last week!

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by MoleskineThe morning began with a delicious buffet breakfast in an upstairs room at Saatchi Gallery’s Mess Restaurant. After we all had a chance to mingle and chat, we were all seated for what was to become a Mickey Mouse drawing masterclass led by Disney Character Artist Seiji Lim.

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by MoleskineAs much as I have always loved Mickey Mouse and drawing, it had never crossed my mind that I could even attempt to sketch him. Why would it? For some reason Mickey always seemed so untouchable. But Seiji led us through a step-by-step process in piecing Mickey together on the page. And here are my attempts …

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

IMG_5634

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by MoleskineMoleskine’s limited-edition notebooks include more sketches to showcase the process of drawing Mickey Mouse. There is even a six-page drawing guide if you want to give it a go.

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

At the end of the session, I asked Seiji if he observes people and uses their mannerisms when drawing Mickey Mouse. Seiji explained that at times he does for example adopt the attitude of say a model and translates it onto Minnie Mouse. But he also explained that he always has to be conscious that he also needs to keep in line with the character’s heritage. I found this all fascinating because I have always considered a Moleskine notebook ideal for jotting down observations. And I for one cannot wait to fill my latest notebook with more doodles, ideas and ramblings. Maybe I’ll even give drawing Mickey another try. 😉

Mickey Mouse Notebooks by Moleskine

The large notebook is priced at £18.50, and the small pocket-sized one is £13.99, which you can buy from selected retailers.

Disney Moleskines

In the past, I’ve never really been into new year’s resolutions. When I gave up smoking and when I reached for new goals, they’ve usually happened at some time during the year – when I’ve felt like it. But this year feels different. Maybe because I had some time to think during my Christmas holiday in the Philippines or maybe because 2012 was quite an eventful year. Whatever the reason, here is what I’m thinking for 2013.

1. Bookshops. During university, I worked in a few bookshops: Book Etc. (which is not around anymore) and The Royal National Theatre’s bookshop, which I absolutely loved. I also worked at Waterstones Gower Street. So when I took a walk along Charing Cross Road last year to discover the changing landscape of a street that was once renowned for its variety of bookshops: big and small, the reality of the digital age hit me.

Of course, I love my iPad and the fact that I can carry a number of books on my Kindle but I also love books. I love holding them, flicking through the pages and putting the book on my shelf once I’ve finished with it – maybe even looking forward to picking it up again, once some time has passed. So, one of my new year’s resolutions is to make sure I purchase at least one book a month from a bookshop. (I’ve already bought two this month). I’m not trying to fight the digital age but with the largest online bookseller being scrutinised for paying little or no UK corporation tax whilst local bookshops disappear from our high streets, I want to do anything I can to make sure I support the book stores.

2. It’s What You Eat That Counts. I had a revelation whilst on holiday. I was practically horizontal for the entire two weeks and yet I lost a few pounds even though I exercise more when I am in London. The difference between here and there was that there, I ate fruit instead of cakes and I ate rice or noodles instead of fries and bread. I don’t believe in dieting because life isn’t fun when I’m hungry; I’m not fun when I’m hungry. So I didn’t skip on meals or restrict my food intake – and I had plenty of fish and meat. But the weight dropped off me and now, I’m determined to keep up the healthy eating.

3. Work Life/Balance. The whole of 2012 felt like I was on a high speed train racing towards each goal. But as each box was ticked, another deadline or two would spring up and so it was difficult to feel like there was time to get off a stop and enjoy the destination. So, this year is about work/life balance. It’s about having time to pamper myself; being organised with my blog (which is pretty much like a part-time job); and having quality offline time with my loved ones.

4. Writing. I finally finished Stephen King’s On Writing whilst on holiday. (If you are a budding writer or are looking for some writing inspiration, I wholly recommend you reading this book. It will get you going!)

And now I feel ready to write a novel this year.

I’ve written a novel once before and I’ve tried reading it a few times but I have to admit defeat on it. It is so bad, I can’t bear to read past the second page, so I’ve put it back in the drawer and this morning I started something new.

My aim for 2013 is to write for a couple of hours each morning before my day officially starts, which is something a lot of successful writers have managed to do. Anthony Trollope wrote for 2.5 hours before his day job at the Post Office. So let’s hope the same approach works for me. There’s no harm in trying and if that doesn’t work, trying again!

5. My Blog. I have new ideas for my blog, which I am looking forward to introducing in 2013. And my goal this year is to keep on improving King’s Road Rocks! – if only to keep my readers entertained and to show more of who I am. For the last couple of years, I’ve tried hard to not exploit the stereotype of a Chelsea Girl because as those who live in Chelsea know, there is no one type. Plus, throughout history the definition of Chelsea Girl has changed and if the truth be told, the Chelsea Girl was at its most distinctive in the 60s and 70s with the Sloane Rangers of the 80s taking over.

But I also want this blog to have a more personal feel, so it will mean showing a little bit more of who I am. And in turn, I’d love to get to know you a little bit more too. So do drop in and say hi when you’re passing by!

Here’s to 2013 and making it happen. I’d like to raise a glass and wish you a great year!

xox

One of my movie heroes made a special visit to Chelsea over the weekend. Pedro Almodóvar, the film director who introduced Penélope Cruz to the world in his movie Jamon Jamon, in which Cruz also starred in her first film with Javier Bardem.

Almodóvar’s latest film, The Skin I Live In, starred Antonio Banderas whilst his next movie will star both Cruz and Banderas. In other words, Almodóvar dominates Spanish cinema. In fact, he has been the embodiment of Spanish cinema for decades.

Live Flesh was the first Almodóvar film I watched and it blew my mind. It stars Javier Bardem and is an adaptation of a Ruth Rendell novel: beautifully shot, great performances and really gripping.

Almodóvar is also an auteur, which are a rare breed nowadays. His films are visually stunning; his female characters have admirable strength and a fantastic sense of humour; and his stories tend to push the boundaries of our imagination.

So needless to say when I heard that he was doing a book signing at Taschen on Duke of York Square, there was no way I was going to miss it!

In fact, I arrived a bit early. Two hours early, to be precise.

There was no else waiting, so the bf and I sat across the way at Manicomio to keep an eye on the impending queue. It was hardly a chore with the Christmas lights on the Square to gaze at as other people sat around us, outside.

When other Almodóvar fans started to arrive at Taschen, we joined the line – and waited. And some time later, he finally arrived!

Me in my rain mac and scraped back hair – hardly glamorous – as he signed my limited edition copy of The Pedro Almodóvar Archives.

When he saw my name on the post-it: Mina, Almodóvar chuckled to himself and repeated “Mina”. For a split second I thought it was because of Dracula or one of the actresses he works with regularly. It wasn’t until I left the shop that I remembered Almodóvar is currently working on a biopic about the Italian singer, Mina. 😀

After Almodóvar signed my book, he turned round to shake my hand and wish me the best with my writing. He had a warmth that felt refreshing and comforting. No wonder the same actors want to work with him time and time again. It’s clearly not just about his talent.

I found the whole experience inspiring and I will always cherish the words written in my book:

And I’m sure it doesn’t have to be said that this book has now taken prime position on my coffee table.

Do you have someone you would love to meet? What would you ask them to write in a book for you? x

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