Thursday, 15 May 2014

A Vist to a "Museum" and a lovely lunch

I am sure you all know ,by now, how excited I get about the very idea of a visit to a Museum (or to an Art Gallery) so when I see that there is anything on at Manarat on SadiyaIsland in Abu Dhabi I behave pretty much like a dog greeting a master at the door after a long lonely day alone. I want it all and I want it yesterday. I have to go see, smell, and generally overload  as many of my senses as I can with everything. Which is why, a couple of Fridays ago Bryan, Pip and I climbed into the car and drove down to Abu Dhabi.

What was on offer, courtesy of the British Museum, was an exhibition entitled ‘A History of the world in 100 objects” Yay all the boxes ticked. Art and Museum and learning all rolled into one tempting package.

No I do not know why he is looking up.

We are so extraordinarily lucky that the powers that be in Abu Dhabi support such endeavours so that punters like me and mine can indulge our “gimmie more interesting stuff” passion. We are rarely disappointed. And neither will you be if you head on down the road to Abu Dhabi and feast your eyes on the exhibit. If you can’t make it to Abu Dhabi you can trawl through the attached link and see if this exhibition will turn up in a city near you or you could hound your local museums to get it to you….. Good luck with that…….
Mosaic of the exhibition.

As always at these venues  there are guards about that do not take kindly to photographs being taken of the exhibits. Which got me thinking. Why? I have heard over the years that the reason is that flash photography damages artwork. That makes sense, I imagine that over time all those burst could damage delicate materials, but I assume that non flash photography does not? Anyway in my quest to have my curiosity satisfied I googled the question “Why Can’t I take you take photos in Museums?” And I found a number of interesting answers. The one I liked best was this one from the National Museum of American History   
It seems there are a few reasons.
1.     Flash Photography can damage artwork. Fair enough.

2.     Copyright – Hummmmm should object of beauty and history and learning be shared? But again I guess fair point if you are taking photos for commercial purposes you should pay for them.

3.     Crowd control- not such a problem here in Abu Dhabi, long may it continue!

Here are a few opinions or articles about the subject:

This one was a bit precious...
From ArtNews

And now that I have bored you with that here is a sample of what we saw:

An Arabian Bronze from Yemen AD 100-300

Early Victorian tea set. How quaint.

5000 year old Egyptian cows.

This little beauty was on the HMS Beagle between 1831 and 1836 when Charles Darwin was doing his thing on board.

Inca gold Lama - one of my favourites so cute!

Seriously old Jomo Pot from Japan

for the smokers we have a North American otter pipe, because you always want an otter staring at you while you smoke.

Ramses's 11 in Granite from way back in the day.

Taino Caribbean ritual seat.... it looked bloody uncomfortable and I would have avoided at all costs positions of power if it meant sitting on this thing!

  The other delightful thing about going to Mabarat is that Fanr Restaurant is right there. I have never been disappointed with their food. For those of you that like a bit of crisp refreshing wine with your lunch you can have a glass or two. Even better is that this does not have the usually ridiculous price tag that comes with a licensed venue. Fanr does refreshing fruit soda’s too. I try to taste a different one each time I visit. The whole menu is  a gastronomic deligh.  I am torn between the teas and the lunches as they are both yummy. Because I can’t bear to choose I   like to top and tail my cultural experience with a  taste bud tingling that includes ( if possible) both.  I recommend that you pop into Fanr, have a lovely lunch then visit the exhibition then come back to Fanr for tea or desert!!!!!!! You won’t regret the lingering stretching out of your day. 
pea risotto - delicate flavours

Arty Farty Fanr Restaurant

Yummy curry.

So much chocolate! Too much  for three greedy people!

The Exhibition is on until the beginning of August. Please go. Take your children, teach them about beautiful things and history. Or just go yourselves and  feel privileged to be able to walk amongst historical artefacts with facinating timelines linking the pieces together.

Monday, 5 May 2014

My teeth HATE me.

Oh the pain.

You may remember a rather smug little post that I did about a visit that I had to the dentist? Let me tell you a sad thing. I am not feeling so smug at the moment.

My teeth are in revolt. I don’t have gum disease. I don’t have abbesses or filling that have fallen out or holes that need fixing. I have teeth that just have nothing better to do than torture me, which they have successfully done by inflicting varying degrees of pain on me since February. I assume my teeth have some sinister motive for causing me such pain.  Maybe they no longer wish to reside inside my mouth?  They have recently taken the torture to a new level because, clearly, I have not bowed down to their demands and given them their independence. Though what they would do with that I have no idea.

I am in bloody agony darlings. Whatever it is that gets exposed  (dentene or some such thing) has my nerves reacting as if they are in the throes of a massive bacterial infection (where there is none) and has me on my knees. It is a conspiracy I tell you. There is no way my teeth are winning.  They will stay put no matter how much they terrorise me.

I mentioned to my dentist yesterday that if my teeth were not brought "under control" people would die. I did not, as it happens, mean him. I meant people around me every day because there is only so much pain one can live with before one lashes out and woe betide anyone in the way at the time. I think that living with on-off pain since February and constant pain for a week or so shows a supreme level of patience on my part, but I am weakening. I just know I am about to explode with the frustration of the wearing down of everything that makes me such a joy to normally be around. I think my lovely dentist thought I was possible getting at him and was extremely cautious about coming anywhere near my mouth with any instruments that might cause me even a bit of discomfort.

The upshot of the visit to the Lovely Dentist Barry is that I have a mouth painted with some horrid tasting goo that is supposed to protect my nerves for a bit and I have to paste my teeth every hour on the hour with Sensodyne toothpaste. BUT IT IS NOT BLOODY WORKING.

Never, ever in my life has the idea of false gnashes been so appealing. I almost wish my teeth were rotting just to have an excuse to get rid of the lot of them. But they are not, so I cannot. I suspect that the solution may land up costing me the equivalent of an exotic holiday destination stay in a 6 star hotel for a month, with none of the benefits. Or maybe that is what my teeth have been angling for, a beach holiday with an endless supply of pinna colada’s and a gentle breeze?

The dentist tells me I have a traumatic bite so maybe my teeth and my jaw don’t get on and they are issuing me an ultimatum. Either the jaw goes or we go? I am starting to understand how destructive relationships work. Can’t live with them, can’t bloody live without them.

I need help. All well researched, scientific solutions are welcome. Don’t bloody come to me with eye of f-ing newt and gizzard of a lizard remedies. I am not in the mood.  

Tomorrow I will be back at the dentist. Do you think if I threaten to break his other foot (did I mention he has a broken foot?) he might at least prescribe me something strong. Pethidine strong?


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Talking of Books on the 5th April 2014

My dog eared copy complete with post it notes.

A few Weeks ago I got to do my stint on Talking of Books as a co-host. As always I had a rather jolly time with the company behind the mic.  for the duration of the show.

The Book of the week was “The First 15 lives of Harry August”. The author (Claire North) we were told  was a well-known writer using a pseudonym. I dug about to try and find out who the author could possibly be and I could not find anything at the time we did the show. Names were bandied about and we pretty much all agreed (John McDonald, Ann Brabazon, our feisty lead reviewer and I) that it was most likely a man.  My reason for thinking this was that I found the female characters rather weak and I really did not think that a woman would write such shallow female characters. Not that the men were much deeper but by comparison the gals did not fare well.  Turns out I am wrong. The author is Catherine Webb (who also writes as Kate Griffin) a writer of fantasy / science fiction novels for adults and young adults. I am not at all familiar with her writing but then I am not an avid reader of Fantasy or Science fiction.  I do occasionally get recommended a book that I love in these genres, most recently World War Z. Not at all like the movie but both equally enjoyable.   

Usually when I look at the encyclopedia sized volumes that pass for a novel and realise that what I am straining to hold in my arms is not one story but part one in a seventeen part series, I just walk away. It is too much. I thank my lucky stars for TV series like Game of Thrones. There is no way I could commit to reading the books. I know what I am like. I would get sucked into the fantasy and never come out. Watching is altogether safer. I wait with bated breath for each episode of the series safely knowing that I don’t ever have to read them. Too much time spent in someone else’s fairy tale other world is not good for me.

But back to Talking of Books.

Ann and the Show’s host John I think liked the book more than I did. Now I am not saying that I did not enjoy reading The First 15 Lives of Harry August but , well, er, ehhhh, I did not find it a literary book; it is not going to be a Booker prize winning novel and not likely to be nominated. I did not find it a full on fantasy fiction book with all the usual wonderful descriptive passages and attention to detail that comes from a world that is made up. The writing style was easy to read but not characterful. It was written in a plot driven sort of thriller style whilst trying to be a philosophical fantasy novel. It really did not quite make it for me. Don’t get me wrong as I have already said I really enjoyed reading it. If I was lying on the beach with music plugged into my ears and looking for an entertaining read this would fit the bill. Would I look for another book by Claire North? No, been there done that. Would I read one that I found lying about at a holiday cottage?  Absolutely I would. Do you know what I mean? Would I recommend it to a fan of fantasy / science fiction? Yes I probably would, mainly because it has been very  favourably reviewed on “goodreads” by fans of this sort of genre. It is different and quirky in this genre so as a twist on fantasy fiction I am sure it would entertain.

Here is my short review on Good Reads:
 goodreads Penny's review

And here is the recording of the show: Talking-of-books-1-05-04-2014

The second hour of the show was devoted to the Book Champion and this week William Jones was championing Steam Punk. Now my introduction to Steam Punk came via a friend’s daughter who is involved with Steam Punk Fashion and I was fascinated by the whole idea. Here is her site Inventoria Designs At the time I first became aware of Steam Punk what I did not realise that it started out as a literary genre and has taken on a life of it’s own in fashion and lifestyle. See here: What is Steam Punk
If you have read Jules Verne or H G Well and imagine that future as happening now where the tangents of technological progress followed steam and clockwork mechanics. Where coal is the power and air balloons majestically float us to romantic adventure filled destinations. Where ladies dress up in quasi Victorian clothes with a hint of modern sexy. Dare I say that the whole whips and leather  and  lace and buckles looks a bit S & M to me? But hey, what do I know......Where men are swashbuckling heroes who stand side by side their equally daring ladies. Think of Will Smith in Wild, Wild, West. Imagine the more recent Sherlock Holmes films directed by Guy Richie and you have the idea of steam punk. Now take all that and think of books in this highly romanticised adventurous atmosphere and you have Steam punk literature. Think of the heroic characters in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials Trilogy”.  And then stretch yourselves from there and add vampire if you feel like it……


I think this says it all!

Steam punk fiction is now a broad fantasy genre that has a growing number of fans and has a host of sub genres developing.

Here is a list of recommend reading: 20 top rated steampunk novels

Have a listen to our resident expert William here:

The last hour of the show was devoted to our younger listeners with reviewers Jamie and James ( no, it was not at all confusing) who were representing the Costa Coffee Book Club with their thoughts on this entertaining book. I loved it.  This delightful tale of the notorious Librarian Spud Murphy is a quick easy read for most children. I found it easy to identify with the characters and suspect it is a great book to get your children interested in reading as the plot is funny and warm and touches on familiar family scenarios.

I was blow away by both Jamie and James’ passion not only for reading but for writing. I love the fact that both boys are avid writers. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to them and am sure that the passion they felt came across on the show.
Have a listen to the delightful hour we spent together here:

And once the boys were done that was it. Done and dusted until the next time. I sigh. My shoulders fall a little in resignation but I quickly perk up as I  set off  to my afternoon shift in The Old Library with warm, fuzzy book induced happiness to spread about..........

Just a little cheeky