Thursday, 11 August 2016


The tube ride home is quite pleasant when overground and the weather's a balmy 18 degrees centigrade. Outside, the breeze is just gentle enough to let the stray hair around my face touch my skin ever so lightly. I prefer to stand at the far end corner of the coach even though there are empty seats. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I listen to music. Most of the time I let my mind wander. My work involves dealing with highly strung and haughty people on a daily basis. Getting lost in my thoughts is somehow an exorcism of the foul energy they rub off me. I allow my mind to shuffle through old conversations --both mine and overheard-- observations, and random thoughts that thrive during uninterrupted trance-like gaze past trees and green football pitch. 

Rather than post them as Facebook status, I collect my random thoughts. If I were more poetic I'd put them in a jar. But I'm not as social-media pretentious as I'd like to be, so I write them down on a yellow pad. I go over them every now and then in the hope of inspiring longer pieces. I haven't been successful so far. 

Here are snippets for now. You might be able to relate to some.

One of occasional mornings when my journey to work is like a chartered tube ride

On differences in priorities:
Me: I need to have my nails done.
Him: I need to have my tyres done.

On the perks of being a woman:
For all the time I complain about not being acknowledged, undermined, or bypassed in business transactions or conversations due to my gender, the one instance when I'm happy to not exist is when the bill comes in a restaurant and it's handed to the man.

On mutually beneficial relationships:
The reason you are together is to make each other's dreams come true. 

On what's common between men and women:
I have only known and been told that the world is full of drama queens. I say there are just as many drama kings.

On challenging one's self:
To get your mind working, read something that's out of your comfort zone or area of interest.

On the ridiculousness of superlatives:
I chuckle when people say 'best husband ever'. Who are they comparing their husbands with? The first? The second? The most recent? And I say this about people who've not been married before.

On what's important:
I can't do everything, so I choose to read.

On the circus that is Facebook:
I love looking at dogs on Facebook, especially the human kind.

On what gets me excited after a long day:
Freshly changed linens, a new book to read, a quiet night, and no work the next day.

On having someone who makes me laugh at myself:
I started wearing reading glasses. On my second week of getting used to it, I told the Mr that I really need them badly at times as everything can look hazy. He says not when I'm online-shopping for shoes.

On having children:
I was once asked by someone who was intimately close to me why I wanted children. I was dumbfounded while mentally grasping in the dark for a concrete personal reason other than biological and social expectations. In my heart though, I knew that just the two of us together had lost its meaning, and I wanted to put into the equation what I thought then would help reclaim it. I now know that the soul and meaning in a healthy relationships are not necessarily found in creating an extension of one's self. Have I found that meaning yet? More than half of it, yes. The rest will probably take a lifetime. With good company, it will be an awesome journey.

I'm lucky that I don't have to take a packed train on my way home. Winding down is therapeutic. It helps that I'm not stuck between underarms. 

Hope you're all well x

Monday, 18 July 2016


60 days. Facebook Page Reminder says that's how long since my last post. Within that time, Taylor Swift got heartbroken, suspiciously fell in love again within a fortnight and broke all our expectations of a hit song penned in tribute, er, mockery of her last fling, my hair got the chop and I went from bronde to more brunde, Britain decided to divorce the EU, and Theresa May clickety-clacked her kitten heels to No. 10. 

There was a time in my younger years when two months have passed when nothing significant has happened in my life. My time counter was measured on an annual basis. That's how slow the events were. I looked forward to filling up my diary. Nowadays I have to constantly remind myself of the reminders I've failed to tick. I then repeat the same old to-do list, cross out a couple out of at least five, then carry them over the following week's list on top of fresh ones.

It's never-ending.

Roses Point--where time is suspended--is one of my favourite spots in Co Sligo Ireland.

One would think that as fast-paced as our lives are now we'll get more things done. But as I audit my life (done while massively slowed down by an awful case of hayfever this year since the end of May, leaving me permanently almost inebriated from my antihistamine concoction), I recognise that I fill up my daily goings-on with desultory distractions that halt me from achieving either a major plan or something more spiritually rewarding.

There's an invisible yet audible yapping that has taken up residence in my head constantly fed by anything I can get my index finger to tap on and read. Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything. Each seems to be an expert on anything. Everyone seems to have the answers for every question and can unravel conspiracy theories. All of us have become politically erudite. We are sandal-wearing and tree-hugging, but only to those whose politics are the same. We claim kindness but spew hatred and contempt.

Benbulben in the background on the walk down to the beach

My social media bubble has popped itself a while back. Loudly. I've been slowly turning down the volume until perhaps it becomes white noise.

Last week I spent a relaxing time in Ireland. I went to see a holistic healer in Co Laois where I had treatment for tennis elbow, tight knee, nodules, and general tiredness. It helped that the treatment room looked out to this unfiltered view where next door was a farm with cows roaming freely and mooing in sync with each breath released as muscles were unknotted.  My friend's osteopath says the fluids in our body should have the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the ocean. Mine has been furiously resisting the plunger trying to suck the life out of me.

Not bad for a mobile phone shot

I saw a photo of this landscape blanketed in snow. Thought it was even more stunning.

I described the air as minty on my Instagram post. That fresh feeling just right after you've brushed your teeth. My mobile connection came in patches in the remotest areas it was liberating not to hear the latest news. Or gossip. My only worry was I might not be immediately reached by my family in case of emergency. I mock one of my friends who's always the last one to hear about important local and world news or seems annoyingly indifferent to what he comes across. But when events wear me down because I overload myself with too much information and choose to wade into the online raucousness, I wish to have a semblance of him: levitating across the war path with a mauve silk chiffon scarf trailing behind.

People close to me know that I'm happy to organise a party as long as it's not mine. When invited, I'm usually the first one to call it a night, or at least one of the first ones. Being dressed and made up belie the efforts made to drag myself to be present. I still care a bit about being branded as antisocial. Just a tad bit. I love the meals, the chatter, and the banter. But my threshold for entertainment involving so many people is low that at a certain point I daydream about switching off. In big events I slowly retreat to a corner where I can recoup the energy lost from socialising. I revert to my default mode: an enthusiastic observer. In both physical and online settings, I watch friends and strangers alike celebrate, speculate, (over)react, sensationalise, lecture, argue, criticise, display intellectual prowess and emotional intelligence or the lack of it, love, and hate. Ranging from overwhelming to tedious, there are parties where I inconspicuously turn on my heel for a French exit and an Irish goodbye.

Away from the commotion there are books waiting to be read, old films to see, hobbies to take up, pages to write, and private offline conversations to make. It's slow-moving but I'm weaning myself from constant status updates. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Wallace Collection London: Everything Else

I'll say it for you: finally the last instalment! Between working full-time which mentally leaves me out of tune, reading a book that's beyond my comfort zone that's turning out to be like a short course as it's a subject I'm clueless about, and trying to have a life, I finally found the time again to put together the remaining photos from my visit to the Hertford House which was almost a month ago. 

The grand staircase balustrade is made of wrought iron and gilt brass. Originally installed between 1719 and 1720 on the front straircase of the Banque Royale Paris which eventually became Bibliotheque Nationale, it was removed between 1868 and 1874 and installed in Hertford House in 1874 by the Parisian firm Geslin.

A chest of drawers attributed to Andre-Charles Boulle, c. 1710. The fanciest toilet mirror is also attributed to Boulle's marquetry. Part of a toilet service for the duchesse de Berry, daughter of Philippe d'Orleans (later Regent of France), c. 1713.

Copy of the writing-table made for the Elector of Bavaria, c. 1854 to  1857

I've not been a big fan of marble surfaces since moving to the UK as I find that they look out of place in small flats with wooden floors that creak and shake when lorries delivering pallets drive past. And yes, marbles remind me of mausoleums (and Catholic churches). Which reminds me of pretentious and forced restraint. And coldness. And death. Apologies for the reference if you love marble worktops and tables.

The one in the photos though is more like a painting laid out on a console table. The outer border is made of Portoro or Marble of Portovenere which is mainly found in the province of La Spezia in the Liguria region of Northern Italy. I find that black marble exudes elegance more than its cream or white counterpart.

I particularly loved the sculptured detail of this table leg. I'm quite surprised that it's the one feature I don't have any information on. The delicate intricacy is stunning, and while I'm not partial to anthropomorphic figures in furniture and home decor, these works of art are an occasional testament to those times when minimalist was unheard of. I favour the latter style, but would love to stay in accommodations where I'm surrounded by such luxury and opulence. That's why I call it a holiday: I pay a visit to aspirational surroundings that sensually stimulate my penchant for beautiful things that don't have a room in my daily life.

If you missed the rest of this series of posts, please click HERE for a view of some of the galleries and rooms, HERE for the rest of the exhibition galleries at Hertford House, HERE for porcelain and crystal pieces inside the mansion, and HERE for some paintings, sculpture, and other objects of curiosity from The Wallace Collection.

Thank you for looking!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Wallace Collection: OBJECTS Part II

The only time it's not rude to stare at someone is when you're in an art gallery or museum where you can lock eyes with portraits the features of which are almost anthropomorphic. It's also possibly one of the rare times when there's a connection and understanding between yourself and what (or who) you're gazing at without the need for verbal communication.

Out of the nearly 5,500 objects on display at The Wallace Collection, about 775 are paintings and drawings by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Van Dyck, and Canaletto, among others. Some everyday objects on display give us a glimpse of aristocratic lifestyle and vice during the 18th century.

Susanna Van Collen and her daughter Ann by REMBRANDT

The Laughing Cavalier by FRANS HALS, 1624

Bronze, wood and gold sculpture of a panther, c. 1525.

Marble sculpture of Cupid and Psyche by Filippo della Valle, Florence c. 1732

The above glass display looks like an array of sumptuous pastries, don't they?

These elaborately and intricately designed decorative objects are snuff boxes, which accessory makers rolled out  as snuff-taking became fashionable in the 18th century. Snuff is smokeless pulverised tobacco that's sniffed for a swift hit of nicotine that was sometimes flavoured or scented. I've seen similar boxes in carved solid silver at the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. These ones are probably the equivalent of today's 'IT' bags. 

Snuffing was to the elite as smoking was to the hoi polloi. Prominent historical figures known to snuff were Pope Benedict XIII, Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Johnson. These snuff boxes were for the ladies, judging from the feminine and dainty designs. 

Below are just two of the ones I find very charming. 

Back in the day, a vice was concealed in fashionable gilded boxes decorated with enamel and precious stones. Nowadays, vices are concealed in what most of us receive at the end of the month which can make us pass out if and when we decide not to ignore it: a credit card statement. Who knows, our plastic cards may one day be exhibited in museums.

Back for more.

Click HERE and HERE for posts about the rooms and galleries; and on PART I for other objects in the collection.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Wallace Collection London: OBJECTS Part I

I heard that one of the big bosses from a well-known French fashion house didn't want to stare at an empty plain porcelain after dining that he commissioned designers to translate some of their silk prints on the porcelain they began manufacturing.

Not as elaborate as 18th century porcelain, but well made and decorated china can certainly shift from simply functional to aesthetical.

The Wallace Collection is host to a very impressive Sèvres porcelain collection. From its inception in 1740 up to these days, Manufacture nationale de Sèvres still produces luxurious and beautifully crafted wares. 

Almost all the porcelain in The Wallace Collection were either made in Vincennes between c. 1752 and c. 1756 before the move to Sèvres. They are largely in the high Rococo style or 'late Baroque' which was more playful and witty than the characteristic style of its predecessor. 

There are far too many that caught my eye, but these ones could somehow make its way to more modest modern homes. 

A 'Calabre' teapot from 1753 was named after Pierre Calabre, a shareholder in the factory. It can hold up to 10 cups of very strong brew of cold tea which was augmented by hot water from a silver jug.

On either side is a pair of flower pots from 1758, painted by Louis-David Armand. The vase in the middle with pastoral scene, is believed to have been painted by Charles-Nicolas Dodin, circa 1767. A profusion of vases was introduced around the time to bring the garden indoors. 

I'm quite fond of tea services. It must have started when as a girl I received a plastic tea service which I used to pretend I'm an adult sipping tea with friends during a hot summer afternoon back at my grandmother's in the Philippines. If space were not an issue, tea sets would fill up my cupboards. Tea serving is the only time I get to be lady-like and pretentiously cultured.

The above tea service was painted by Andre-Vincent Vielliard. This service is believed to have been purchased by Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress, on 28 December 1759 when she visited the factory. The 4th Marquess of Hertford acquired the service in London in 1849. 

My favourite piece: a ewer and basin in rock crystal with gold mounts of a young triton wrestling with a snake-like sea monster on the handle and a small barking dog as a thumb piece on the cover, circa 1727 to 1730, by goldsmith Jean Gaillard. This rare piece is one of two surviving works of the time, with this in The Wallace Collection the only one with the basin still remaining. They were owned by Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, the Duchesse de Mazarin, and Queen Marie Antoinette. 

If you're curious enough, you will see interesting finds in every corner of Hertford House. As someone who rates dual or multi-purpose pieces of furniture, I'd love to own this oak veneered work table with swivelling candelabrum. Built circa 1765 to 1770, it is likely to be an early work of Riesener who specialised in neoclassical Louis XVI style.

When I was a young girl, I would find myself reading by candlelight during frequent power cuts. It would be quaint and nostalgic to do so again, this time as an adult. I just have to make sure I'm not sitting next to my curtains and the wax doesn't drip on the carpet. 

More next time.

If you missed Part I and Part II of the posts on the rooms and galleries, please click HERE and HERE.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Wallace Collection London: ROOMS Part II

For museum-goers, I can imagine that you probably relish the same satisfaction when in the maze that a museum can be, you find yourself alone in one of its galleries.

Recovering from a cold, I dragged myself out of bed when off work to visit The Wallace Collection in London. Sometimes surrounding one's self with beautiful things can ease up the sinuses.

Tucked behind Selfridges London, in Manchester Square, The Wallace Collection is a national museum housed in historic Hertford townhouse, the former residence of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. Fine and decorative art pieces are presented in 25 galleries. 

Here, I take you on a tour of some of the rooms, paintings, furniture, and decorative pieces that I particularly loved. I'll break it up into several posts so you don't get visual overload.

Above is the Large Drawing Room where the cabinet-making and marquetry expertise of Andre-Charles Boulle are on display. The Frenchman specialised in brass and tortoiseshell inlays. He was the chief cabinet-maker to King Louis XIV. He's credited to have revolutionised a new type of furniture in 1708: the chest of drawers. Two of his creations for the King can be found in the Palace of Versailles. Amongst his other royal clientele included Philippe V of Spain and Maximilian-Emmanuel of Bavaria. 

Most museums do not have provisions for visitors to sit right inside the galleries for them to admire and take in the grandeur that surrounds them. At Hertford House guests are allowed that luxury. See those two chairs by the windows? They're reserved for you. 

The Great Gallery was constructed in 1872 as part of the extension of Hertford House to accommodate the rest of the family's collection which was transported from Paris to London. This room is considered to be the culmination of anyone's visit to the museum. It houses old master paintings by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Rubens, Philippe de Champaigne, Poussin, Velazquez, and many others. The Great Gallery honours on its walls the Baroque Age of artistic expression from the Netherlands, Flanders, France, Italy, and Spain.

Above is the Fernery where natural light is ushered into the first floor landing. I'm quite drawn to this part of the house and have come back a few times to catch it at its stillness when no one is around. For those who have been reading my posts since 2013, I think you can make it out by now that I love taking photographs of museums and beautiful spots at its unoccupied state. It does take me ages sometimes as I hang around until everyone else equally appreciating their surroundings has left the premises. I think I can aptly be called an empty-museum-gallery stalker. 

Next time, we'll have a look at some of the finest objects that can be found in these rooms.

Have a lovely long weekend everyone!

Click HERE if you missed Part I.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Wallace Collection London: ROOMS Part I

Recovering from a cold, I dragged myself out of bed when off work to visit The Wallace Collection in London. Sometimes surrounding one's self with beautiful things can ease up the sinuses.

Tucked behind Selfridges London, in Manchester Square, The Wallace Collection is a national museum housed in historic Hertford townhouse, the former residence of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. Fine and decorative art pieces are presented in 25 galleries. 

Here, I take you to a tour of some of the rooms, paintings, furniture, and decorative pieces that I particularly loved. I'll break it up into several posts so you don't get visual overload.


Above and below are images of the Front State Room. It sets the opulent tone of the rest of the house. Front rooms, even in modern modest homes, are the grandest as this is the first room guests can see and where they are received. The porcelain displayed on cabinets and the chandelier, made by Jean-Jacques Caffieri, are originals from the 1870s.

The centrepiece is a Porphyry vase, in the middle of the four-cornered sofa, which dates back from between 1760 and 1765. The vase is made of Lapis Porphyrites which come from Egypt and were used in a majority of Roman buildings. 

Above is the Back State Room, which is more to my taste as it is more spacious. Also, some of the family's finest French porcelain is on display in this room which I will show you later. 

Mirroring myself. The doors open to The Wallace Restaurant, a French-style brasserie operated by Peyton and Byrne.

On the first floor (second floor to our North America cousins), museum guests are greeted by a refurbished landing that opens into to a Fernery. Above is just a glimpse. We'll take a closer look in the next post. 

More coming up!

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