Daily Mind-ful 7 May 2017 (Hampton Court Palace)

Hampton Court Palace: Henry VIII’s Great Hall was the largest hall in England at the time and features giant, wall-to-wall tapestries of exquisite artistry and condition. Even if you’re not into tapestries (because I’m not), it’s a gobsmacker of a room; the chic floor pillows are emblematic of Historic Royal Palaces, the caretaking organization of Hampton Court Palace, and wouldn’t look out of place in a house today; extremely elaborate napkin and fabric folding was an art form during the Tudor period; headless paper sculptures representing various courtiers flesh out the tableaux of court life within many of the rooms within the Palace and are, in and of themselves, wonderful masterworks of contemporary paper craft; while the palace is crammed with portraits (too many to notice after a while), the best paintings are exhibited in the Cumberland Art Gallery, which boasts many true masterpieces by Van Dyck, Holbein and Rembrandt. The quality of the artworks displayed in this wing (where photography is prohibited) is a definite cut above the rest of the palace’s paintings and one of the high points of Hampton Court Palace; the chapel garden (with its unfortunate green and white striped railings) boasts a series of colourful metalwork animals perched at the top of decorative, heraldic posts.

The undisputed artistic, decorative and creative highlight of my visit was the Guard Room in William III’s apartments, because of the bold geometric arrays of weapons — 3000 fully operational, impeccably polished and maintained ones — lining the upper walls of the chamber. The jaw-dropping display, originally conceived to impress and intimidate visiting generals and dignitaries, undoubtedly achieved its desired effect then — and now, if my own reaction is any indication.

I was so wowed by this room that I made a separate short clip about it for Instagram; each chimney at Hampton Court Palace has a different design. The brickwork of the Palace is maintained by a neighbouring business, 300-year old Bulmer Brick Yard located a stone’s throw away from our house; the yew trees at the Palace make you feel like a mini Alice in Wonderland; we were treated to a game of “real tennis” which, based on casual observations, combines tennis, squash and net goals. (My tennis coach told me later that there are courts and a league quite close to Little Henny but that it’s easy to injure yourself because the balls are rock-hard and, therefore, tennis elbow is a real risk.)

To sum up the highlights: 1) The Guard Room in the apartments of William III; the Cumberland Art Gallery; the gardens; and real tennis, provided there’s an actual match going on. (Without the animation of a live match, it’s just a narrow room with nets.); Sadly, our banner day at Hampton Court was marred by the nightmarish logistics of getting back home! We arrived at Liverpool Street Station and discovered that virtually all the trains on our line were canceled. Consequently, we took a train to Stansted and then an Uber to the car park of Colchester train station. Lesson learned: NEVER expect or plan to take a train on Sunday!


Daily Mind-ful 23 April 2017 (Manure)

[SORRY: Partial repeat of the end of previous post re: hamburger complaint] Believe it or not, I don’t know how to cook any Asian food. I only know how to cook Western food; planning the menu for my cousins’ visit; I spent the entire morning outside mostly shoveling manure; it is possible to fall sick from handling compost and manure. But no N95 needed because this was aged, vintage manure; my fears of septicemia allayed, I cooked without first changing my clothes. WILL I SURVIVE?; PHEW! So glad I didn’t go to the Monte Carlo Open this year; the dry climate adds 5 years to my age at least but British people always underestimate the age of Asian people, so net-net, the effect is probably ZERO; check out the Brill cream helmet of Trump’s sons; new bucket list item: a live performance of the 1913 version of the Rite of Spring ballet.

Daily Mind-ful 18 April 2017

I woke up feeling strung out by a lot of what I can only term “urban” concerns, career,
money, etc; so I stated my goals out loud today (to make an honest woman out of myself) and made my friend Denise do the same; you know you’re old when you remind your good friends of their mom; took Denise to Wyken Hall/Wyken Vineyard so she could experience an idyllic English garden; if only I could interview people in my kitchen…; I discovered that photos taken with the “LIVE” setting on the iPhone camera are actually video snippets which play when the thumbnail image is pressed on the iPhone camera roll; the highlight of the day is definitely John pretending to conduct Mozart; for the record, I’m neither a fan of Roger Federer or Mozart,
believe it or not.

Daily Mind-ful 17 April 2017

No more typeface on top of my IG stories because it’s cluttering and distracting; tooling around the countryside with my friend, Denise; I may be too spastic to shoot a gun; learning to play the piano may be a better idea and more calming for frantic me; I’m funny because I have no awareness of how I am — and I’m damn loud; if you visit me, you’ll be pressed into gardening duty; I’m a dog owner who doesn’t like to touch her dogs — kind of like a Chinese parent who loves their kids but never hugs them; I cook my first roast beef ever.

Daily Mind-ful 11 April 2017

Daily vlog diary: Shopping and strolling in Amsterdam; bicyclists trump cars in Amsterdam and that means, watch out for them! Amsterdam — especially its dining and eating scene — is one of the birthplaces of global, urban hipsterism; it’s worth doing a video handbook about that topic — tongue-in-cheek, of course; Keukenhof (see full vlog on my visit); Keukenhof is a giant photo opp, especially for Asians; one of the main reasons to go is to get inspired for your own garden; huge rabbits on steroids at Keukenhof; more than anything, Keukenhof is very commercial; my visit to the Stedelijk museum without John; boy, it’s an ugly building; main mission: to see the Jordan Wolfson exhibition, even if I can’t see the crazy animatronic sculpture; how I visit museums as a rule; Jordan Wolfson (various shots of the video artworks without audio); I didn’t understand all of that art exhibition; SO I’M SAYING SO — OUT LOUD; but I still got a lot of out of it; there are no fat people in Amsterdam; Jansz – glamorous and dramatic; clothes for kids which are inexplicably, ineffably weird and unwearable; “Sino-Japanese” – whoever coined that clearly has neither Chinese nor Japanese friends.

Keukenhof: The Truth about Tulips

John and I visit the juggernaut of Dutch floral tourism, Keukenhof, in Lisse, Holland, to witness tulipmania up close. This vlog is an unvarnished recap of the show, the garden, the experience. If you’re a gardener — or Instagrammer, it’s definitely worthwhile. But despite the moniker “garden”, Keukenhof isn’t a real garden: it’s a commercial showcase for Dutch tulip industry.