Saturday, 15 January 2022

The Art of Banksy Exhibition, London

The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

One thing I've learned about the new world is that we spend an awful lot of time planning and looking forward to things through delays, false starts and eventual happenings. This was especially true of London's The Art of Banksy exhibition. I recall waiting a very long time for the exhibition to finally open in May 2021 but by the time it did, I had much more important things on my mind as I lost my father in July. Not going to lie, last year was a tough year but it's strengthened my desire to live every minute to the full and to celebrate life in honour of those who have left us.

It was around November that my lovely friend Sarah reminded me that we promised to go to The Art of Banksy together and fresh from my fabulous day out at The Beautiful People exhibition, I went ahead and bought us tickets.

It will surprise exactly no-one to learn that I loved the exhibition. Street Art features so regularly on this blog that it has its own label and Banksy was one of my first loves. You learn very little about the elusive street artist himself but you do learn about the famous and often notorious works he has completed and the exhibitions he's put on. This exhibition was very much unauthorised but Banksy's touch was unmissable.

These were my favourite pieces.

Visit Historic Palestine

Visit Historic Palestine | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Girl With Balloon Tee

Girl With Balloon Tee | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Love Is In The Air

Love Is In the Air | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

I Fought The Law

I Fought The Law | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

No Ball Games

No Ball Games | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Authorised Graffiti Area

Authorised Graffiti Area | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Album covers, posters and magazine covers

Album covers, posters and magazine covers | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Laugh Now

Laugh Now | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

Brace Yourself

Brace Yourself | The Art of Banksy Exhibition | London

This last one was interesting. When Banksy released his Oscar-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop, there was already a band with that name. They agreed to change their band name to Brace Yourself and sign over the trademark to Banksy and he painted them this backdrop as a thank you.

I don't agree with everything Banksy has done. He infamously staged the Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles in 2006 which featured a live, painted Indian elephant. Not cool. For the most part, I think he's one of the most important activist artists of our time and I'm dying to know who he is.

The The Art of Banksy exhibition has been extended to May 2022. Tickets cost £25 Monday to Friday and £29.50 on weekends with concessions and family tickets.

50 Earlham Street

Note: The Art of Banksy exhibition is right across the road from the Seven Dials Market, one of my favourite places in London, so be sure to stop by for yummy street food greatness.

Monday, 18 October 2021

The 'Beautiful People' Exhibition at London's Fashion & Textile Museum

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting in bed with a cup of coffee, celebrating one of my last days off before I start a new job in November. I'm reminiscing about the perfect weekend just gone, where I met up with old friend Mo for a day of exploring and walking around London.

Our first stop was the Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture exhibition at London's Fashion and Textile Museum.

This exquisitely curated exhibition includes authentic clothing from the late 60s and early 70s, as well as photos, fliers, posters, magazines and album covers from the era, displaying how music, fashion and celebrity became intrinsically linked in the counterculture movement.

I've always adored sixties and seventies fashion and long felt that I'd been born in the wrong era. If I could go back in time, I would absolutely go to Woodstock in 1969. My obsession was influenced in part by my parents' love of music from that time as well as my mum encouraging my hippie phase.

Suffice to say, I absolutely adored this exhibition and highly recommend a visit. Read on for my highlights from our visit.

It All Began at Glastonbury

The party to end the 1960s and the beginning of the Glastonbury festival.

The Apple Boutique

Clothing from the Apple boutique. I love their long, sleek lines.

Granny Takes a Trip

I'd never heard of Granny Takes a Trip before but I think I would have loved their clothing, especially their mini-skirts and mini-dresses.

Mick Jagger in Military Jacket

A young Mick Jagger wearing a then-vintage military jacket in 1966 (c. late 19th, early 20th century). He sparked an anti-establishmentarian trend of wearing of military clothing which really reminded me of young South Africans in the late 80s and 90s wearing their army fatigues to clubs, complete with band t-shirts and long hair.


One of my enduring memories from the early 70s is my godmother Helen and her sister Marcelle visiting us in England. I clearly recall them wearing outfits like this with knee-high boots. They must have loved the boutiques in London!


This was my favourite of all the boutiques shown, especially that exquisite mini-dress.

Mr Fish

The rise of velvet. I confess to owning a pair of velvet knickerbockers in the early 80s. It was my favourite possession, second only to my Adam and the Ants Prince Charming LP.

Music and Art Deco inspired clothing

While rock music and celebrity were the most prominent themes of London's counterculture, there was also an Art Deco and 1920s / 30s revival.

Eastern Influences

With The Beatles pilgrimage to India and the rise of the sitar in rock music, the Western interest in Indian clothing began. I myself was a slave to this trend, buying many silk shirts, skirts and dresses from the Oriental Plaza in Johannesburg in the 90s.

Althea Porter

This last piece caught my eye. Althea Porter dresses retailed for an eye-watering £100 to £1000 in the late 60s / early 70s but were absolutely worth every penny. Look at the incredible quality in this piece that is evident 50 years later!

The Beautiful People exhibition runs to 13 March 2022. Our tickets cost £13 each including booking fee and museum donation.

Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street


Friday, 19 March 2021

Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Look at that beautiful blue sky! Barely a cloud in the sky and where there were clouds, they were cute, fluffy and simply idyllic. We've had horrible weather in Kent this week with heavy showers and constant grey skies. Imagine how pleased I was when the sun decided to return today when I'd planned a socially distanced walk with my friend Sarah in the Kentish market town of Tonbridge.

The View from Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

We parked at Tonbridge Castle and enjoyed a delicious cheese, fruit, cold meat and cracker graze box from Gourmet Grazing. Satisfied and with full bellies, we walked through the gatehouse of Tonbridge Castle and into the grounds.

Tonbridge Castle | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

The history of Tonbridge Castle is fascinating. It was initially occupied following the Norman Conquest but burnt to the ground in 1088. Construction of the surviving gatehouse took 30 years from 1230 and the mansion was built in 1793.

Tonbridge Castle Gatehouse | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

The castle mound (or motte) also still survives and you can take a zigzag path up the mound and walk beside the moat surrounding it.

Tonbridge Viewed from River Walk | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

After exploring the castle, we walked along the River Walk into Tonbridge market town.

Yarn Hearts | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Many of the shops were closed due to lockdown so we walked along the other side of River Walk towards the park. Tonbridge must be glorious in summer when you can take boat rides along the River Medway.

Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

Our walk took us past the Tonbridge swimming pool and sports fields. There were loads of people around although most were socially distanced.

Riverboats on the River Medway | Exploring Tonbridge Castle and Surrounds

I loved the look of these riverboats on the River Medway. Tonbridge looks like a lovely town to live in and there were lovely new-builds along the river banks. I imagine the crowds could get unpleasant for residents in summer though!

We ended our walk with iced cocoa from 65mm Coffee on River Walk. We loved exploring a new (to us) town and will definitely return to Tonbridge again when things get back to normal.


Sunday, 21 February 2021

A Spring Walk in Lullingstone

Oh! Glorious spring! I’d been planning a socially distanced walk with my friend Amanda for several weeks but January and February were bitterly cold, with several instances of snow. As you can imagine, we both bounced out of bed on the morning of Sunday 21st February when one of those perfect spring days bloomed, the type with blue skies and sunshine where you can’t imagine there will ever be a cold day again.

Spoiler warning: it was short-lived and as of 6 March, it is bitterly cold and grey again.

We met up at Lullingstone Country Park, which has ample parking and toilet facilities. There were many other people about, so I kept my mask on until the crowds thinned.

We walked to Lullingstone Castle which you might remember I wrote about previously when we enjoyed the Medieval Weekend and the World Garden.

Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden reopens on Easter Sunday, 3rd April 2021.

We walked under Eynsford viaduct which you can see in the first photo above and into the meadow where you can see the woolly cows.

They are very cute but obviously we gave them their space.They remind me of the Highland cattle we saw on our visit to Crieff Visitor Centre.

We decided not to walk into Eynsford, mainly because some of my favourite pubs and restaurants are there and they are all closed at the moment. I can’t wait to go back to the Plough Inn or Riverside Tea Room this summer.

I want to move to Eynsford eventually or another small Kentish town near it. I’m not ready to move out of my house yet though – we have been here five years this month!

Today marks one year since I last went into London. Life has definitely changed in the past five years but never so much as in the last twelve months. Here in my sunny corner of England, we’ve been in some form of lockdown (or tier 4 restrictions) since the 4th of November. I’m not complaining but even the optimist in me has to admit that this is a long time to be without restaurants, cinemas and non-essential shops. What is most important is that my loved ones have mostly survived this pandemic although I lost one of my oldest friends Vicky to a heart attack in June.

Despite everything the pandemic has brought us, I am lucky to have this on my doorstep. Kent is a wonderful place to live and explore and one day I’ll get back to exploring London again.

I’m still not completely set up to post on this blog again. I don’t have the right photo editing software since the Great IT Failure of 2018, I rarely use my proper camera and using Open Live Writer isn’t as easy as it used to be. I do all my Addicted to Media posts on my iPad but that isn’t as simple with photo-heavy posts. I will continue trying to find something that works. I’ve kept diaries and journals since I was twelve and not keeping up Emm in London since 2016 meant that I lost five years of chronicling my life story and I’m really feeling that at the moment. I’ll keep randomly uploading posts from the last five years (on the dates that they occurred) but I’d like to start updating this blog in real time again going forward.

How are you? Are you still in lockdown in your part of the world?


Thursday, 24 September 2020

Five Days in Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis September 2020

It seems impossible now but there were five days in 2020 where life almost felt normal. We drove down to Lyme Regis in Dorset and stayed in a fisherman's hut by the seaside. It was one of the most simple yet idyllic trips we've ever taken. Our trip to Lyme Regis was originally meant to be a family holiday with Stephen's parents in June but, like our trip to Lanzarote in March, it was cancelled. We rescheduled for just the two of us in September and our trip took place in the brief window of time between lockdown easing and tier restrictions being announced again. In fact, tier restrictions were announced on our last day in Dorset.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We booked the reasonably priced Fisherman's Hut through Lyme Bay Holidays. We were amongst the first customers to stay in the hut and we were pleased with how clean and hygienic it was. Our hosts were absolutely lovely and made sure that we had everything we needed. The photo above shows the view down to the sea and we spent many hours lying on the sun loungers, drinking homemade cocktails and enjoying the view.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We took long walks every morning. Lyme Regis is the perfect size to get in those holiday steps. We walked out onto the Cobb when it was safe to do so but even then, the winds were fierce and threatened to blow us into the sea.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Naturally, it looked perfectly calm out there without a hint of how slippery and wet the walk was.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Part of the Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis is fossil country and if you're lucky you can find ancient little fossils on the beach. I didn't find any fossils but will definitely try again next time.

Lyme Regis September 2020

One word of advice: Lyme Regis is popular so if you're ever going to visit, be sure to book restaurants in advance. I only thought to book a week ahead and we only managed to secure two bookings for our five day stay.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Our favourite meal was at the Millside where we sat outside on the dog-friendly patio and enjoyed a dozen oysters and a Fruits de Mer sharing platter for two. We were very keen to visit the Millside again during our stay but alas, weren't successful in securing another booking and were honestly lucky to have secured our Sunday afternoon booking in the first place. We also ate at Mark Hix's Oyster & Fish House but unfortunately weren't overly impressed with any of the food there.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We enjoyed several breakfasts at the open air Beach House Cafe on the Marine Parade. They have an entire menu of different types of shakshouka and their food was delicious and very reasonably priced.

Lyme Regis September 2020

We also enjoyed several breakfasts and lunches at Swim on the beach. We sat outside on the balcony, enjoying the sea views and their excellent coffee. The staff at Swim were excellent at socially-distanced dining and made us feel completely safe, something which was incredibly important at the time (and will no doubt be important again when Britain reopens).

Lyme Regis September 2020

We had a marvellous time in Lyme Regis and we'd love to visit again. We're also on the lookout for other small seaside towns with excellent seafood.

Lyme Regis September 2020

Did you manage to get away last year? What are your plans for this year?

© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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