La Traviata at the Royal Albert Hall

I’ve always loved this opera.  I love the emotion, the drama and, of course, the music and voice.  When Issy and I ‘talked opera’ we discovered we both loved La Traviata and both wanted to see it in Milan.  Toward the end of 2014 we spotted La Traviata was playing at La Scala between Christmas and New Year.  Sadly Issy wasn’t well enough at that time for us to risk arranging tickets and flights and we said we’d go see it together one day.

A couple of pieces from Act 2 of La Traviata were played at Issy’s funeral.

There was no way I was going to miss tonight’s performance at the Royal Opera House.  Only one seat required.

LaTraviata

It was utterly magical and majestic.  Incredible in so many ways.  The staging was brilliant.  Classic but brilliant.  The lighting extraordinary.  The orchestra magnificent and the opera singers so truly talented.  Fabulous, engaging, beautifully performed and truly emotive.  There might have been a little leakage from my eyes!  Issy would have loved it too.

la_traviata__c__catherine_ashmore_499x350A huge thank you to the ROH staff who managed to get me from ticket collection and into my seat in minutes… with seconds to spare before the concert started.  Thank you.

Ooh and look, what a beautiful building.

IMG_9334

Glass Memories of Washington

When I visited Washington at Easter, we (Andi, Sam and I) chose an object that I could use to create something in glass.  The object we chose was a pine cone.  You’d think that’d be simple to use.  Perhaps to create the object in glass?   Perhaps use the texture from the cone?  Or something else?  When I showed the tutor she dismissed creating it in glass as the cone was open and difficult to cast.  She suggested I use the base to create a latex mold and then add these ‘flowers’ to a piece.

Over several weeks, I’ve been making the wax ‘flowers’.  I decided that I’d like to do a bowl with the flowers around it.

The process is the same, create the was ‘flowers’, create a wax bowl, affix the ‘flowers’ securely and try to close up the gaps to reduce risk with plaster.  It takes an age to get the completed wax model.

Then I mixed up the plaster and flint mix to pour over the wax model.  Next stage is to steam out the wax.  I purchased some emerald green gaffer glass which flows faster than bullseye glass.  I then handed it over to the technicians to fire in the kiln.

All the above I did without telling Andi how I was creating the piece.  I was excited to create it and then present it to Andi as a completed piece in the future.  In June I’d not heard from Andi for a few days and was worried.  A few days later she messaged me from the hospital… and told me she was wrapped in her AnnaBlanket which made me smile.

AndiBlanketAnd I let her into the secret and told her what I was doing with the pine cone and a few photos.

IMG_0362After all that work and with the terrifically important reason I was making this piece, the pressure was on for this to be perfect.  Only a few days later I was at college and the piece was cooling in the kiln.  I could tell that something had happened as the technicians asked me to look in the kiln.  The mold had cracked and glass leaked.  So incredibly upset.

GreenAndiBowlI love that damaged imperfect bowl.  It’s not useable and needs a lot of work to clean up or reuse the glass.  Right now, I can’t do anything with it except be disappointed and sad.  Maybe one day soon I’ll create something with the glass that will work and be an Andi treasure.

Saturday Images on Glass – results with screenprinted stacks

Following on from the screenprinted images, I retrieved the pieces from the first firing.  On the first picture the screenprinted ones are the Teddy Wolfe ‘line drawings’.

Mum and Dad fired

You may recall that I also fired a few as ‘stacks’ with multiple sheets of glass, each with the image on them.

IMG_8948

A few photos of the fired stacks.  The one of Teddy has images with both black and blue enamel.

 

 

 

IMG_9115 IMG_9116My next job for these pieces is to grind and polish the edges.. no quick fix for this one so I started with the machines.  You mark the edge up and grind it off, starting course and ending up with the finest grade.  It’s a long process and I’m still working on them.  I’ll post again when they’re finished.  I’m hoping with pollished edges the 3D effect of stacked images will be even more obvious.

IMG_9242

Spring Lamb Dinner at Rotunda

What a find.  Rotunda Restaurant & Bar in the swanky new Kings Place behind Kings Cross Station hosted a very special foodie evening last night.   Spring Lamb Dinner.

Our evening started with delicious canapes and wine on the terrace and a short talk from the farmer.  (I love knowing exactly where my food comes from).  How refreshing to hear about a farming practice where they truly farm in an organic style.  No pesticides or nasties that can affect the meat product.  He was also hugely enthusiastic about his family farm and proud as punch with the lamb we were shortly to eat.

Next up we had a butchery lesson.  The chefs talked us through butchering a whole lamb followed by a Q&A session.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t know some of the cuts of meat nor the best way of cooking them.  I’ll certainly be ordering parts of lamb at the butchers that I’ve not ordered before.

Rotunda SpringAnd finally, the dinner.   Oooh, food heaven in every course!

Spring Lamb menuIncredible.  Thoroughly recommend the annual Spring Lamb dinner.  Or if you can’t wait until next year, there’s a number of other events coming up.  Rotunda Events

Breakfast at Tiffany’s LIVE

IMG_9140Breakfast at Tiffany’s is, without doubt, an iconic film.  For me, a film that I can see over and over and still love every second.  So when I spotted that it would be playing at the Albert Hall in London with a live orchestra, I was already in heaven.

Breakfast at Tiffany medleyand a little video so you can see/hear the quality of the performance live.

A truly magical evening.  The orchestra and choir were faultless.  The film, never disappointed.  The audience peppered with ‘Holly Golightly’ in little black dresses, pearls and tiaras.  The ones carrying ‘cat’ was quite genius.

Post Breakfast at TiffanysHow happy do we all look after the performance?

Watch the Albert Hall’s clips Breakfast at Tiffany’s on YouTube.

DigitalSpy’s review BatT

Jon Richardson’s ‘To-Do List’

Jon Richardson's To Do ListAn excellent evening spent watching the filming for a new series ‘To Do List’ hosted by Jon Richardson.  Weirdly I realised when I was telling people that I was going to this filming, that not everyone has yet discovered Jon Richardson!  Weird, you’re missing out!

Each week, Jon Richardson will tick off tasks from his ‘To Do List’ with the help of his guests.

Guests were Matt Forde, Roisin Conaty and Romesh Ranganathan

JonRichardson

A ‘laugh out loud’ sort of an evening, particularly with the chemistry between ex-flatmates, Matt Forde and Jon Richardson.  (If you didn’t see the series they did for Channel 4, Jon Richardson Grows up – check it out on JonRichardsonGrowsUp).  Loved the banter about Twitter, Surbiton and vegetarian foods!  Perhaps you’ve got to be there… so keep an eye out for the show on the TV.  I think it’s worth a peek!

Idle hands…

I discovered I love to crochet in front of the TV.  Actually I also discovered I like to decoupage and bead and well just about anything crafty!  But right now it’s crocheting after first picking up a needle and making the little blanket for Andi.

So I’ve been hunting for a project to continue my rediscovered crochet crafting.  I found Woolly Hugs and also their Facebook page.  There are lots of fabulous projects to knit and crochet items for Nepal, World Child Cancer, Yorkhill Hospital Glasgow, Great North Children’s Hospital Newcastle and the one I chose, Angel Hugs for the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

My task was to crochet a small blanket in pure white cotton to be sent to the parents of some of the sickest babies in the country at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.  Devastatingly not all survive.  The Angel Hug blankets are crochet/knitted with love and a hug for the baby and their family at a really difficult time.

This is the beginnings….

AngelHugBeginningsThen after rushing back to the shop (StitchUp) for more Cotton, I joined the squares together and added a surrounding edge to the blanket.

AngelHugNo1It’s not perfect….. but it is made with love.

Why don’t you knit or crochet one too?  Great ideas and causes on the Woolly Hugs website.

I’m happy to keep crocheting for this project or another but would love some help financing the cost of the wool.  If you fancy supporting me, I’ve chosen some wool on my Amazon Wish List, feel free to purchase and send them to me (white for Angel Hugs and coloured for other projects).  Thank you.

Ooh and if this post does spur you on to knit or crochet something, let me know.  I’d love to see what you’ve made.

Sarcoma Support

Sarcoma UK‘s Annual report arrived in this post this morning with a little note “.. you may recognise a certain person inside :-)…”

Well there I am!   Taken at the Sarcoma UK’s Big Conversation Day last year.Sarcoma UKMy quote “Being diagnosed with a sarcoma can be isolating due to the rarity of this type of cancer. …” remains absolutely true for many today.

Sarcoma is rare.  Divide ‘Sarcoma’ into types – soft tissue and bone.  Then divide further into the different sub-types.  Each sub-type is different with it’s own surgical regimen and treatment plan.

Now try and find others who understand what you’ve been diagnosed with!

(This doesn’t just apply to cancer or sarcoma.  There are some very special/rare/unique diseases of other kinds that also must fear the unknown and isolation when diagnosed).

Fortunately with people having more access to the internet and feeling more confident to use it for support, this has meant a far further reach for support.  Certainly I’m not sure how I would have coped had it not been for our wonderful Facebook Phyllodes Support Group members.  For all the criticism about social media and all that is wrong with it, there is an enormous amount that’s right.

For those fortunate enough to be able to travel or live near a physical support group – Sarcoma UK run a number of support groups up and down the country as well as online forums.  More information can be found here

Images on Glass Course – Final Week

Firstly an update on the pieces that were fired during the week.

Screenprint after firingAs you can see the screenprinted images using black ink have worked well.  Sadly the blue ink is fairly pale on most and the orange ink has in most places burnt away.  Personally I love the unpredictability of some areas in glass and it’s why there’s a need to test everything as you go along and continually learn.

My small Teddy Wolfe images have been stuck together and will be fire again into a stack (see below).  Which, with a little bit of hard work and a grinder to neaten up the edges will, hopefully, mean that I have a sort of 3D image of the picture.

Our tutor also had back sheets of decals using images that we’d emailed to her.  I wanted to use some black and white images of my parents.

IMG_8970

As this was our final class in the course, today our tutor encouraged us to re-explore the different methods we’d learned in the short course.

I concentrated mainly on using the decals we’d had printed and screenprinting.  I was keen to revisit the idea of screenprinting one image and then laying them over each other to create a multi-dimensional image.

So that the images would be as close as I could get, to being in same spot on each piece of glass, I first set up my screenprinting area.  Under the screen I taped a piece of cardboard from which I’d cut the size of the glass pieces.  Masking tape was stuck around the image I was using on the screen.  The screen was then stuck to the table at one end and then each corner marked out once again with masking tape.  The rest was up to me and my dodgy eyesight!

IMG_8969First the area is ‘flooded’ with ink by carefully dragging the ink over the area.  Then the glass is placed under the screen (in the cardboard slot) and ink is pulled over.  As my images have incredibly thin lines I dragged the ink over it several times, hoping that it would be a clean thicker line without being smudged.

This time, instead of firing the pieces and then stacking them, I chose to leave the images to air-dry and stack them for a single firing.

Stacking GrannyEeek it was mightily difficult to get it lined up perfectly!

Some of my peers in this final class concentrated on using powders on glass.  Others drew with enamel and then used powders and frit.  Some used their decals and screenprinted.  Here’s a selection of what’s being fired this week (including a batt of my stacks).

IMG_8973 IMG_8972Fabulously diverse and once again will be interesting to see what comes out from the firing.

Finally we lay out a selection of our pieces that we’d finished so far on this short course.  (Obviously there are some in for firing during this week and attendees will need to pop back to the college to collect them).

IMG_8971I think you’ll agree there are some wonderful pieces demonstrating different methods.  Certainly something I’m keen to understand further and do more of but most of all I can honestly say we’ve had a huge amount of enjoyment on the course.  Thank you Richmond Adult Community College our tutor, Monette and not forgetting the technician, Sally, who ensures our pieces are fired for us.

Be in the Audience – TV/Radio

A short while ago I decided it was high time I looked again at things to do in London for free or in the affordable range. It is possible!  We’re all very used to going to do what we always do, or hanging out in places that we’re used to.  It’s often only when we’ve got friends visiting us that we try somewhere new or become a tourist in our town City.  Why is this?

When I returned from Australia in 2003 I looked at London through new eyes, itme on my hands before I got a job and short of cash!  I realised that although I’d lived in London for over 12 years before I moved to Australia I’d not really ‘visited’ London for a very long time.  So before I got a job and to keep myself occupied during the days, I spent a great deal of time finding something to do every day (after applying for jobs in the morning) that would mean I spent no more than £5 a day (including travel).

OK so 13 years later I’d have to maximise £5 slightly but there’s still a heap you can do in London for next to nothing or free.  So over the coming months I’m intending to rediscover a few of them, discover some new ones and share them with you.  What have you done?  Where do you go? What’s affordable to you?

London doesn’t have to be a wildly expensive place… unless you make it that way!

So my first stop was looking at ‘being in an audience’.  I found the online links and applied to a number of shows.  I suspected that I’d maybe get one show I applied for but didn’t expect to get every single one.  So here are a few:

The Last Leg – #IsItOK
Love watching this show so it was a treat to see it being filmed.  Laughed a lot.  Loved the warmup game of ‘human tinder’ too!

TV Audience3Katherine Ryan – Pilot for a new show The Katherine Ryan’s Famous Celebrity Show.
Not hugely funny.  I think Katherine is a better stand up comic than a host so will be interesting to see if this show goes to air.TV Audience2David Mitchell – Radio 4 show ‘The Unbelievable Truth’
Really enjoyed seeing this radio show recorded.  Very funny.  TV Audience1Graham Norton Show – The Eastender Special.
Great fun to watch and be a part of.  Graham Norton definitely has a great rapport with all his guests and is able to keep the ‘show going’ between takes and with slightly more difficult guests.  Very interesting to see it filmed and then watch it back on TV to see how it’s cut.

TV AudienceYou do however have to remember that these tickets are free.  You are required (of course) to stay for the whole filming.  For the majority of the recordings you need to turn up several hours beforehand, stand in line and get a wrist band.  Usually you can then disappear for a coffee/something to eat etc and rejoin the queue shortly before being asked to file in and take your seat.  This process can take a while so be prepared to stand around for a while.

I also registered for seats at Britain’s Got Talent auditions.  I’d hoped to take my friend’s teenager during their school holidays.  Fortunately (as it turned out) they were busy on that date so a friend and I went along.  We arrived very early and anticipated a long queue.  However it turned out that people had queued over night and despite our turning up early all tickets had been allocated and we were turned away.  I can’t imagine how that would have been had I travelled up to London with teenager and then had to disappoint them with nothing.  BUT they do warn you they oversubscribe the ticket allocation so that the audience is full for filming!

Another downside is where they maybe filming two episodes on the same day but switching guests and audience between filmings.  We registered to see a new Greg Davies show being filmed in Clapham.  We were due to see the second filming of the day.  After standing in a queue for nearly 2 hours we heard that the first filming was just about to finish.  By our calculations this would mean that we’d not be seated until after 9.30pm, the filming was a couple of hours, there would inevitably be additional warm up, phaffing, retakes etc and doubted if we’d be out in time to get the last train home.  So despite being fourth from the front of the queue, chose to leave and get a late supper and head home.

So it doesn’t always go to plan.  You must however commit to attending the audience for the whole evening/allocated time, clap/laugh/boo/hiss when told and generally be fabulous TV/radio fodder for the listener/viewer.

It’s fun.  It’s great fun to see what really goes on to produce the show you’re watching/listening to.  I’d thoroughly recommend it… but allow plenty of time and remember they’re free tickets but in return for being free you’ve got to stand in line and then you’ve got a job to do!

Here’s a couple of links that you may find useful:
BBC London – http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tickets/
ITV have a list of companies they use for their tickets – http://www.itv.com/beontv/join-the-audience
Channel 4- http://www.channel4.com/programmes/take-part/articles/all/get-tickets

And if you’re brave enough… be on TV!
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/take-part
http://www.itv.com/beontv
http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/beonashow/