As you can imagine, so far I haven’t been able to cross off going to a football game, taking that sleeper train or watching Eurovision in the Netherlands from my 2020 to-do list. But I have managed to cross off 10 things that I’m quite proud of. Go To The Tower of London – I DID IT! I finally went to the Tower of London! Only 14 years after seeing it from afar for the first time, but it was long due and I’m so happy I got to explore the grounds and learn more about the history of my all-time favourite London landmark.
Go To The Andy Warhol Retrospective @ Tate Modern – I also went to the Andy Warhol Retrospective back when the museum re-opened in August. The exhibition itself did not wow me, but it was interesting to walk around in an almost empty Tate and its Turbine Hall.
Go Glamping Or Stay In A Tiny House – When I was in the Netherlands I did stay in an alternative accommodation, but I don’t think it was alternative enough. It has taken me a long time to find a place that meets all of my requirements, but I have finally found a tiny house I can reach via public transport. It’s only booked for February 2021, but who knows where we’ll all be then.
On top of that, there’s some that I already covered in my last update, but as they are something I’m working on all year round I’m including an update on them too.
Make The Most Of My 2 For 1 Railcard – My 2 for 1 card expired but I have been exploring little villages just outside London. The big highlight so far was the charming village of Shoreham in Kent. It’s not too far from the Pick Your Own Apple orchard and their Lavender Field that you must have seen on your Instagram feed.
Brush Up On My French 101 – I’m level 12 on Duolingo and have been getting stuck into an audio course. In the coming months I want to watch French movies or TV shows – and no Emily In Paris doesn’t count.
Add New Recipes To My Go-To List – Thanks to the Green Roasting Tin, I’ve discovered a delicious fennel and brussel sprouts bake that I want to add to my weekly recipe list.
Wear All Of My Unworn Clothes – I’m trying to wear all the clothes I own. Sure I can try them on briefly, but wearing them throughout the day works much better. I have lots of vintage that don’t get enough wears and by using them all I hope to find the ones that aren’t for me and sell it on and try to make someone else happy.
Keep A Plant Or Vegetable Alive – Sure, I did drown my green beans and let insects take over my pak choi, but I did grow a few tomatoes, some dill, coriander, rosemary and basil. I mentioned the fern in my last update and happy to report it’s still alive and has been joined by a little succulent and a pilea. I also have a monstera cutting that has grown roots and a second leaf. So excited to see where it goes next.
While I don’t think I’ll be completing any other things from the list, I’m very pleased with the things I got to see and do. I might move some of the remaining things to my 21 for 2021, but on one side it feels like cursing it and on the other side I’d like to have some things to look forward to.
As I mentioned before, the month of October has always been about the BFI London Film Festival for me: waiting for the programme announcement and finding the gems, trying to put together a schedule where screenings didn’t clash and then dashing from cinema to cinema to make it on time.
This year, the festival took place online and physically, which had one big plus side: everyone in the UK got a chance to see all the films as well. The thing with a lot of the films that are screened at festivals is that they never make it to the cinemas or get a big release, so it can be the only chance to catch them ever.
A few weeks before the festival you could buy tickets for selected time slots and then add it on to the BFI player – the Video on Demand streamer for the London Film Festival. On the day itself you had to press ‘play’ within one hour and after that you usually would have 12 hours to finish watching it.
It sounded ideal, but the downside was that some films are just meant to be seen in the cinema and that definitely showed with a few of them, and of course, I was hit by the lack of good popcorn, my homemade batch was just not as salty.
I must admit I did miss the post film discussion where you hear everyone excitedly chatting about the film, though this is kind of replicated on social media. On top of that, it was a shame to miss the big promotions, red carpets and posters everywhere, plus the slim chance you might bump into a director or star in Soho or in the cinema foyer.
However, online, booking tickets was so much easier, there was a higher chance of actually getting tickets for the films you wanted to see, and the schedule meant I didn’t have to take off as much time off from work to catch everything I wanted. So it was a bit of a mixed bag.
I watched a total of 11 carefully picked films and I can recommend the below 9 to everyone.
Limbo – A brutal but also comedic movie about a Syrian musician waiting out his asylum request on a remote Scottish island.
One Night In Miami – One Night in Miami is a fictional account of one night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s. Really inspiring performances all mainly set in one motel room.
Druk – A thought-provoking drama that asks if a regular tipple is the key to unlocking the best version of yourself. One of those movies I needed. The final scene has been one of my favourites in a long long time.
Kajillionaire – A quirky family of unusually creative grifters try to scam the system in Miranda July’s deadpan, offbeat love story.
Stray – This charming documentary shows life on the streets of Istanbul from the lowdown perspective of its stray dogs.
Mogul Mowgli – Riz Ahmed plays a British-Pakistani rapper spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.
Supernova – Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci shine as a long-term couple dealing with the onset of illness in this warm and tender drama. I was expecting a very different film so it hit me extra hard.
Mangrove – Steve McQueen’s rousing tale of Black solidarity and resistance brings a seminal moment in British history into sharp focus.
Wolfwalkers – The sweet and emotional story of a young apprentice hunter in the 1600s who’s torn between the real world of her hunter father and the magical spiritual forests home to a tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.
As quite a lot of the festivals have gone virtual, chances are some of the above films will come to a screen in your house where you can watch them from the comfort of your own couch. Most of them will be geo blocked so make sure to Google to find the best one near you.
DOK Leipzig, Germany
Dates: October 26 – November 1
What I’d watch: Children, Downstream to Kinshasa
Raindance Film Festival, UK
Dates: October 28 – November 7
What I’d watch: Nafi’s Father, Force of Habit
Leiden International Film Festival, Netherlands
Dates: October 29 – 8 November
What I’d watch: Holler, The Macaluso Sisters
London Korean Film Festival, UK
Dates: October 29 – November 12
What I’d watch: Bori, Pawn
IDFA – International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dates: November 18 – December 6
What I’d watch: The Fog of Srebrenica, Flower Punk
I’m always curious about what I get targeted with on Instagram and I’m starting to see it as another way to discover new destinations. During lockdown, it was mainly life and business coach adverts that were sent my way, but then slowly, bit by bit, the travel ads started popping up:
Visit Azores – Yes, please! The Azores have been on my list for a while now, and I was once about to buy £60 pound tickets, but then I checked and the weather was going to be horrible. I do hope to visit it in the future for a hike or two, and to check out the abandoned hotel and the tea plantation.
LNER – Good old LNER wants me to book tickets and travel with them. Though I do want to visit a few places on the LNER line, my two trips with them were awful and unless I’m desperate I won’t be taking the LNER again.
Visit South West UK – I always thought it was a hassle to get to by public transport and travel locally from place to place, but I saw The Cosy Traveller do it and now I’m thinking it’s doable. But maybe keep it for when the weather gets better.
Human Forest – This is one of those e-biking rent companies that’s taking over London. Since it’s currently only in Islington it’s a bit limited, but once they are all over the city I’m sure I’ll try out, if only for the free 20 minutes ride.
Copse Cabin X GPF – Oh how I’m itching for a night or two out of London in a little cottage or cabin filled with walks around little villages, followed by board games and one-pan pasta dishes. Copse Cabin looks amazing, but is a bit far for me to get to.
Visit Hampshire – Eventually yes, because I want to have been to all of the UK counties, but Hampshire is not on top of that list.
Visit Denmark – Probably the number 1 European country I want to return to. Last time I visited Copenhagen, but next time I would love to see the Mons Klint, visit Kronsburg Castle and a Viking Museum.
The Grand Brighton – Looks cool, but if I’d to stay overnight in Brighton again, it would be back at the rather special Artist Residence.
Sussex Modern – Yes! There is actually one place on their list I’ve been meaning to go forever, but now I’m seeing the list I can definitely plan a whole weekend around it. The only downside is that it looks like you need a car.
Yas Island Dubai – I’m not sure I’m the target audience for this one. The only thing I’d want to do in Dubai is an afternoon tea at the Burj, which I can do if I have a stopover there.
The Hoxton Hotel – The ad promised to give you £100 spending money if you booked a £199 stay in … Paris or Amsterdam. I thought the Amsterdam location had a rooftop swimming pool so I almost booked it back in August, but I found out it didn’t just in time.
Visit Estonia – I only spent less than 24 hours in Tallinn and would love to see the rest of the country. So yes! One day I want to do the Baltics the slow way – instead of rushing through them in 5 days.
The Gainsbourough Bath Spa – I was set to go to a spa on the week of the lockdown back in March. The Gainsbourough Bath Spa looks amazing, but if I’d go to one, it would be a local one so I don’t have to deal with too long a trip.
Visit Bermuda – Yes! Bermuda has been teasing me with their special visa offer for working remotely, but sadly it’s not applicable for me. I would love to visit the island one day to see Horseshoe Bay Beach, go into the Crystal Caves and walk the Railway Trail.
Here I am with another post on a dusty old house. I didn’t think I’d get into visiting historic houses and manors around the city until I was well into my retirement years. But I guess there is a 65-year-old in me that wants to go out now and explore them all. Plus who knows where I or the houses will be by the time I get to pension age!
I visited Osterley Park and House during its low season, which meant only one part of the house was open and the gardens were out of bloom. Still there was enough to explore and the park itself is lovely for a walk.
Originally built as a Tudor house in the 1570s, it was acquired by a rich banker in 1713, who saw it as the perfect way to impress and show off to his friends, enemies and clients. His grandson got Robert Adam (the go-to neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer of the 18th century) to remodel and transform Osterley into the impressive neo-classical country estate we can still explore today
As mentioned, only four rooms were open during my visit and one of those was the entrance hall that was used to welcome the above mentioned friends and clients to dinners, parties and balls and a slap to the face of the enemies. It probably also reminded those lucky enough to enter that they’d never attain this level of wealth.
The house has also been used as filming location for shows and movies since the 1940s and you might have seen it in Young Victoria, Mansfield Park or Alan Partridge. But I mainly recognised it as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan filmed quite a few scenes there, including the library with the secret door / book cabinet that leads to the secret Bat Cave.
The impressing continues with the formal garden with a number of little nooks. There is the Tudor Walled vegetable garden, the most adorable Garden House filled with all the Instagram friendly plants and a floral garden that must have been perfect to parade around.
While I did see a lot I still want to go back during the high season to explore The Long Gallery, The Tapestry Room and the Kitchen.
Osterley Park & House is a 20-minute walk from Osterley Underground Station on the Piccadilly Line.
Summer is over and it’s time for the next most wonderful time of the year, good old Autumn. As we’re on the edge of the second wave I’m trying to keep things a bit positive and have put together a plan of action with six things I’m looking forward to this October.
October equals the London Film Festival. Although the last two years I haven’t been going as much, I’m making it up this year now that the event has gone virtual and I can watch almost all of the movies without having to get annoyed at people talking, using their phones or you know…carrying the virus. I’m mainly looking forward to Mowgli Mogul, One Night In Miami and Wolfwalkers.
Board game afternoons. Putting my problem-solving skills to the test during an afternoon of tactical and cooperative board games. Expansions for Gloomhaven, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Agency and Pandemic Legacy should keep me busy for any cold, windy and rainy Saturdays and Sundays on the horizon.
Make my way to Central London somehow and warm up with a hot chocolate. I want to go to my classic favourites at Hotel Chocolat and Chin Chin Labs as well as to Said London, one I haven’t been to yet, but I love their chocolates and have been meaning to go there for a long long time.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons and I can’t wait to see the leaf colours change on my daily walk around the block and longer walks around London on the weekends. I’ve even researched the best paved/rainproof walks, so I can’t use ”getting my shoes dirty” as an excuse not to go out and get some nature.
I could eat soup while it’s 31 degrees, but for some reason it’s frowned upon, so now that warm and hearty dishes season has officially opened, bring on the universal butternut squash soup, Bosnian bean soup and Lebanese soup.
Well, I have to wait until the end of October, but season two of The Mandalorian will be more than welcome by then. I must admit The Child stressed me out. I hope he can find some peace and quiet in season two.
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