Shetland

I have been really late with catching up with all my blogging since I got back from holiday. I’m very busy with the day job at the moment and haven’t had much time. However, I finally have a chance now to post all about my travels – better late than never!

Geth and I drove up to Mum and Dad’s in Edinburgh on the Sunday to meet up with the family – my brother and sister-in-law Malcolm and Steff had arrived from Canada on the Saturday – before we all travelled north. On the Monday, it was another long drive up to Aberdeen, with a brief lunch stop in Arbroath for some chippy goodness – separate post to follow at some point!

It was a bit of a wait to get onto the ferry but I was pleased to find that the small cars were loaded first – this meant that once my wee Skoda was in place on the car deck, Geth and I were able to grab a good space for the family in the lounge bar for the evening.

It was a fairly pleasant ferry journey north to Shetland, although first-time sailor Steff found it a bit nausea-inducing. In the morning, as soon as I’d driven to the B&B, I found a space to get on with some work – August has been busy from the off this year!

That afternoon, Geth and I found a nice café called the Dowry for lunch – it was so good that we ended up eating there five days in a row! – and then went for a walk around Lerwick to plot out where we were going to do our long runs the next day. I hadn’t slept well on the ferry so I got a fairly early night before the run.

It was nice running around Lerwick – a good way to see the town again after twelve years, especially as we had to do three laps to make the scheduled 14k we were both running that week! It was back to the Dowry for breakfast, as I’d been eyeing up the waffles the day before, and decided I’d earned them after my run.

Waffles with ice cream and marshmallows
Probably completely undid any calorie deficit I’d accomplished with the run. Delicious though!

I had a fairly quiet Wednesday afternoon – I had a bit of work to do again – before meeting up with the family for a meal at an Indian restaurant where we’d eaten when we were last in Shetland twelve years ago.

On the Thursday, Geth and I drove down to Sumburgh so that we could visit the excavation at Old Scatness. It wasn’t really open when we were last in Shetland as it had only recently been excavated, but they’ve got a nice wee visitor centre nowadays. Geth loved the site and could probably have stayed there for another hour!

Old Scatness
A bit windswept at the Old Scatness site!

Back in Lerwick, we had an afternoon snack at the Dowry, and a chippy with the family again for tea. (On reflection I’m amazed that I only put on half a pound during the holiday! I did do a fair bit of running though…)

Geth and I met up with Malcolm and Steff for breakfast (at the Dowry again, you’ll be amazed to learn) on the Friday morning, and then went to the Shetland Museum. The museum hasn’t really changed since we visited in 2007, but it’s always worth a poke around.

St Clair IV deck plan
This is the deck plan that hung on the wall of the passenger deck of the St Clair IV, the P&O ferry on which we always travelled to Shetland in the ’80s and ’90s when I was a kid. I must have looked at that deck plan on the actual ship a hundred times back in the day, and the fact that it’s now in a museum makes me feel a bit old.

In the evening, we met up with relatives Joyce and Douglas at the Waterfront restaurant. There was a lot of fish eaten by everyone else, but I was pleased to find that the veggie option was my old favourite, pasta and pesto. Cheesecake too, which is always welcome (see forthcoming cheesecake roundup post).

On the Saturday morning, Geth and I packed all of our remaining stuff into the car and then went on foot on the Bressay ferry to get to the start line of Bressay parkrun. After parkrun, we visited Joyce and Douglas for lunch and a brief tour of Bressay in the mist, before heading back to Lerwick so that I could get some work admin sorted out courtesy of the Dowry’s wifi.

Later that afternoon, we all drove back to the ferry terminal, and Geth and I and the Skoda got onboard nice and promptly again! It was a slightly bumpier ride than going up, and again I found it difficult to sleep on the boat, but we arrived nice and early in Aberdeen and the Sunday morning traffic was so quiet that we were back in Edinburgh by ten o’clock.

We had a couple more days in Edinburgh – I had to spend all of Sunday and Monday working, but Geth and I were able to meet up with our friend Kieran on the Monday night, and then we went to the City Cafe with Malcolm and Steff to have breakfast with my cousin Freya and her boyfriend Ryan on the Tuesday morning, before Geth and I headed back to Newcastle in the afternoon.

Hopefully it won’t be another twelve years before I make it back to Shetland again!

Artefacts

After going for brunch with my brother and sister-in-law Malcolm and Steff this morning, Geth and I headed to a museum for a wander round. I’ll do a full post on that next week – I’m still a bit too busy for more than a quick update each night at the moment!

We had a nice family meal out as well, and I’m now planning to get a fairly early night before parkrun tomorrow.

OOTD 9th August 2019
OOTD: almost monochrome. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), hoodie Gildan for Resistanz (2016), jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), bag CXL by Christian Lacroix (2018), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Levi (2018), trainers Reebok (2013).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – Do You Believe In Shame?
The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
Visage – Fade To Grey
Duran Duran – Watching The Detectives
Jennifer Lopez – If You Had My Love
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – Jason
Travis – Driftwood
Sebastian Gampl and Tommy Reeve – Under Control

‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ at the V&A

I first heard that this exhibition was coming to the V&A in early 2018, and was excited to find out that it would coincide with my London Marathon trip. As soon as the tickets became available in the autumn, I booked a slot the day after the race, banking on the fact that the pretty outfits would distract me from having to stand on marathon-tired legs for a couple of hours!

Dior is my favourite fashion house, but I didn’t actually know much about the life of Christian Dior himself, so the initial part of the exhibition, which focused on his early years and his first forays into the fashion industry, was really interesting. The late ’40s and early ’50s fashions shown were beautiful (and probably totally at odds with postwar austerity/rationing for most European women, but…!).

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
An example of the New Look. Not sure about the wicker hat, but the shape of the outfit is lovely!

There followed an equally interesting section about Princess Margaret’s love of Dior clothes and how it fitted in with her already-colourful life as a young royal. They had the dress that Dior designed for her 21st birthday portrait on display.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress from 1951. Kinda beats the cheap scuzzy mid-’00s gothwear I wore for my 21st in 2006 hands-down! Don’t think it would have held up to a night of booze-sticky sofas in the Tron pub though.

Later in the exhibition, there was a large room dedicated to the history of the Dior house and its different creative directors throughout the years. I appreciated the ’80s era designs best, of course…

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Dior outfits of the ’80s! Interestingly, these are all from the first collection of Gianfranco Ferré as creative director in 1989. Marc Bohan was creative director for the majority of the ’80s, but because he’d held the post since 1960, his section of the exhibition focused on his ’60s designs.

…but the most colourful and fun dresses on display were those of John Galliano, who was creative director during the ’00s. I’m not normally a fan of ’00s fashion (largely due to too many cringey memories of wearing it), but I really liked these.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Stunning colours! Not really dresses for real-life wear though.

I bought the exhibition book afterwards, so I’m looking forward to curling up with it at some point and looking at some pictures that are a bit better than these ones off my phone camera!

I was also excited to see that the V&A have another fashion exhibition on at the moment – one about Mary Quant. My post-marathon legs couldn’t have coped with another hour or two of standing, though, so that’ll be one for next time I’m in London – it’s on till February 2020 so there’s plenty of time.

The legs still work…miraculously!

I’m going to do a proper race review post all about yesterday’s marathon tomorrow, but I will say that I am super proud of myself, even if I was really slow!

My legs have obviously been suffering a bit today, but nowhere near as much as they have after shorter races in the past, so my fitness has clearly improved. I had a good walk, as I had a booking to see the Christian Dior exhibit at the V&A (something else I will blog about in greater detail later in the week!) – it was a bit tiring, but it meant that I didn’t stiffen up too much today.

Back to work tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll be fully recovered in another day or so! Not running again until Saturday though.

OOTD 28th April 2019
Sunday OOTD: I went out in this, ran for over seven hours and then had a bath and got back into my pyjamas! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), hoodie Debenhams (1999), running vest Winner Dri-Tech for RNLI (2019), running tights Karrimor (2015), running shoes Brooks (2017).
OOTD 29th April 2019
Monday OOTD: blouse appropriate for the museum exhibition, trainers appropriate for my tender post-marathon feet. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), blouse Christian Dior (vintage 1980s, bought on Etsy 2018), belt unknown brand (2003), trousers Gap (2018), trainers Reebok (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – Meet El Presidente
Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire
The Midnight – Gloria
Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (TGIF)
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
VNV Nation – Nova (Shine A Light On Me)
U2 – Elevation

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)

A museum Monday

Canada part nine…

 

On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum.  Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
The exterior of the building, including the front signage, has stayed the same since it was built in the 1930s. It was originally the tallest structure in the vicinity, but is now dwarfed by its neighbours!

The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto).  They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s.  In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).

(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves.  This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey.  #proofreaderproblems)

As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century.  In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.

Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue.  The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!

'Elvis has left the building'
‘Elvis has left the building’.

‘Elvis has left the building’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wikipedia claims differently.

'He shoots, he scores'
‘He shoots, he scores’.

‘He shoots, he scores’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary do back this one up.

'Hat-trick'
‘Hat-trick’.

‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.

Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.

After a pleasant wander around the venue, we headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum.  Geth just wanted to have a look around the main museum, but I was more interested in one of the exhibitions they had on – a collection of work by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her interesting collaborations with architect Philip Beesley.  The creative and design process behind making the pieces was fascinating – there was a short film all about it that was being shown in the exhibition hall – but it was the beautiful dresses being shown in the hall that were the best thing:

Iris van Herpen couture dress
Perhaps a little impractical for the supermarket, but it’s very pretty.

The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!

Philip Beesley installations
I wouldn’t mind some of these for the house, though sadly I don’t think our ceilings are high enough.

After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor.  They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.

In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush.  This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up!  They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:

Restaurant table scribblings
Message from Steff on our last family dinner table!

After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).

The Bata Shoe Museum

Canada part two…

 

I was excited about going to the Bata Shoe Museum with Mum on Tuesday, because I’d been with Geth when we were last in Toronto two years ago.  The main part of the museum, which is a history of footwear, doesn’t change much, but they always have really interesting exhibitions on.  Two years ago, the exhibitions included a history of men in heels, so I got to see a pair of Elton John’s ’70s platforms and things like that.  This year, they included the use of gold in shoes, footwear of the Arctic peoples, and a special exhibition on Manolo Blahnik, who is my favourite shoe designer.

Manolo Blahnik exhibition poster at Bata Shoe Museum
I like the floral mural on the wall too.

It was the above poster that was the first sign we saw of the museum – it hangs on the east side, just before you turn the corner to the entrance if coming from the south.

Gold spiky Giuseppe Zanotti platform shoes
Spikes were a big thing when these Giuseppe Zanottis were released (I approved), as were peep toe boots (I did not approve).

I remember drooling over the above Zanottis circa 2011/2012, when platforms were still a huge thing.  I wouldn’t wear them nowadays, but they’re still very beautiful to look at.

Mid-century shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum
The gold shoes are Bally – I can’t remember the brand of the red boots, but they’re very beautiful.

The above shoes are mid-century.  I’d be more likely to wear ones like these than the Zanottis!

Manolo Blahniks at the Bata Shoe Museum
The pointed toe on these Manolo Blahniks is just perfect.

These Manolos are among the many that have been lent to the museum for the exhibition.  I had to restrain myself from taking pictures of every pair there – we’d have been there for a while!

Instead, I bought the exhibition book, and a postcard.  The gift shop guy was trying to get me to buy another Manolo book as well, which had things like the transcript of an interview between Manolo Blahnik and Mary Beard about his historical influences, but it was far too heavy to take back in my suitcase!  I’ll get it online instead.

Overall, it was a really good museum trip, and I’ll definitely be back again next time I’m in Toronto.  I wonder what exhibitions they’ll have for me then!