Sweet Art: A Maynard-Bassett Art Gallery

My sister and I recently went to a pop-up gallery – made of sweets! Sweet Manufacturers Maynard-Bassetts (the Jelly Baby and Wine Gum people) held an art show that we managed to get tickets for, featuring their ‘sweet’ takes on different types of art.

The first one we saw when we walked in was the ‘Mona goes Pop’ art below – a Mona Lisa piece made entirely of square liquorice sweets –  I think this was one of the best pieces we saw too!

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There were art pieces dotted all around the room – such as the poster art with sweet wrappers, the various emojis made of sweets, and the very cool Underground Tube map made of sweets.

The venue was a really relaxed place to walk around – thankfully we missed the crowd by going at lunchtime before it all got busy!

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We also got a chance to be a little creative with the sweets at the DIY table, where there were lots of sweet-animals and sweet-people – I loved all the different things people were making!

We also saw various cute pieces of art scattered around the room – I think my sister and both loved the pink mouse best!

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The pop-up gallery also gave every guest a chance to take a bag of sweets from the Pick’n’Mix section home (most of them weren’t halal, so I gave them to my work colleagues, who were ecstatic!) and also had a machine to try and grab a free bag of sweets too!

It was a really fun art show, and a very generous one on the part of the Maynard-Bassetts company, who organised the event and gave out sweets and drinks for free. I’ll be looking out for more events like this in the summer, and will post them as I attend : )

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World Hijab Day…2017

Happy World Hijab day everyone, whether you wear hijab or not, and whether you are Muslim or not.

I think it’s pretty apt that it’s World Hijab Day today after so many troubling recent events – whether it is events in America such as the new legislations being put in by Trump, the devastating shooting in Quebec at a mosque or whether it is the general spotlight on Muslims, the attitudes of people around us and even the growing Islamophobia a lot of us have begun to come across.

In the midst of all this, there are so many reports of solidarity, beautiful, moving protests, rallies and speeches which celebrate the beautiful in Islam and helps women be confident in their religion and hijab. I read yesterday a comment from someone on a social media forum who said he was glad Trump was elected, even if he did vote for him – his being elected led to the outpouring of support, the solidarity and the show of friendships being shown from across the world have served to unite us and give us hope that there are people out there who support other religions.

So in that way, at the risk of sounding like an epic fantasy movie, I will say this – in dark times, there is light. I have seen so many examples of the very best of humanity in their celebration of not just the right to wear hijab, but the right to practise our religion. These days, hijab is so much more than the right to cover and be modest – it is our way of life, our right to be Muslims and a representation of women who, amidst struggle and discrimination, show their very best in themselves.

There are some who have criticised World Hijab Day, saying it is too politicised and has been made into an agenda to make money, or even push a non-related feminist idea. I say this is silly, because for ordinary women this is a chance to express their love for hijab, set an example to their families and friends and also show non-Muslims the beauty of hijab. There is also the criticism that celebrating hijab inevitably suggests that non-hijabis or ‘exposed’ women have something to be ashamed of, or that they are doing something wrong. It is very difficult to wear a hijab and be confident with it – yet including myself, most women I know who wear hijab really aren’t trying to make a statement or make anyone feel inferior or less. It is never okay to harass a women just because she chooses not to cover, just as it is not okay to bully and harass a woman for wearing a hijab. It is also not okay to assume that wear a hijab automatically makes you better, more blessed or more privileged than anyone else, just as it is not okay to assume women are oppressed because they choose to wear hijab.

I have been very lucky to be surrounded by friends, work colleagues and family who are very supporting of my choice to wear hijab, and been sheltered from a lot of negativity and abuse from people who don’t understand Islam or our reasons for hijab. It has become so much more normal, acceptable and even fashionable to wear a hijab – just look at any London street and you’ll see plenty of us walking around and leading our lives.

World Hijab Day is not just about  the act of wearing hijab as a human right, but actually protecting the right of an individual to safely make that choice. With hijab comes a lot of responsibilities and rights, and it is great to have a day to celebrate wearing it openly, whether you choose to or not.

In that spirit, I’ll leave you with an image I saw yesterday which I loved – a Jewish father and son allying with a Muslim parent and his veiled daughter. It’s such a simple picture, but beautiful – this is how it should be, united. I have read a few complaints online and from Jewish friends about the concerns of anti-Semitism, particularly from Muslims. I would like to say that this is not all of us, our religion teaches us to respect others’ faith and unite over our similarities rather than fight over differences.

Assalaamu ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah (May Peace and Mercy of Allah be upon You.)

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Nostalgia Fun with Troll Dolls

My sisters and I have always loved things that remind us of our 80s and 90s childhood, and we love how these are recycled and re-interpreted in today’s media and fashion. One of the things we all remember having was troll dolls – ugly-but-cute dolls which brightly coloured long hair for us to style (and accidently cut) into funky shapes.

With the new Trolls movie being released in October, I’ve been seeing a surge of funky-haired dolls everywhere – including these pretties below in makeup store Mac, which was releasing a range of Troll-coloured makeup! The makeup itself was a bit too bright for me but I loved the different coloured trolls and their hair!

Worth the trip to memory lane!

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Sweets from Japan!

I love getting presents (who doesn’t?), and I especially love getting presents from other countries. I’m lucky enough to have friends who bring me back presents from their holidays, and I thought this was pretty cool – sweets and chocolates from Japan from great friend who now lives there. This isn’t the conventional stuff either – this was the quirky wasabi-flavoured nuts, Kit-Kat you put in the grill to cook, and almond-flavoured hard sweets. Some very funky flavours, but fun to explore and of course, I loved the colourful, bright packaging!

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Giant Books & Giant Shoeboxes

I love seeing quirky installations around London, especially when it’s giant out-of-proportion things – so you can imagine how much I loved seeing these huge pieces in North Greenwich outside the O2 Venue, by the Empathy Museum. Even better, these were to raise awareness for great causes – in this case to get people to be empathetic and see the world from someone else’s perspective.

There were two installations in place – a huge series of books disguising a walk-in library and a huge shoe-box where you could go in to try on shoes. My favourite was the books lined up below (and it was fun to spot which titles I’ve read!) which looked huge in the empty square, but also beautifully colourful. There’s a door hidden on the side to walk into the room inside, where you can read and browse the books inside, or simply donate books.

I’ve always had a soft spots for book places like these – as someone who devoured books as a child, my sisters and I were constantly in and out of libraries borrowing books that we couldn’t read fast enough (and if we had bought all the books we’ve ever read we’d probably fill several book shops!) I love that there’s a place like this for people who can walk by and pick up a book, especially if it’s something left by a reader who has loved the book and left it for someone else to enjoy.

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The second giant installation was this shoe box below, which was another room for people to come in and try to walk in someone else’s shoes – something to help change your perspective, read stories about people from all over the world and their professions and background. I didn’t get a chance to try anything on because the shoebox was closed when I turned, but I loved that this gives people a chance to explore different backgrounds.

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I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this around London – one of the things I love about living in this city is the amount of changing artwork, advertising and opportunities to try something new. I’m sure I’ll be seeing more things like this over the summer, and it’s given me more incentive to explore more parts of London (and take my camera with me too!)

Back To The Future Day – 21 October 2015

It’s here! It’s finally arrived! The day that Marty in classic Back to the Future II dials to find goverboards, microwavable pizzas, self-lacing shoes and flying cars – although not all that we’ve been promised have been developed yet!

I’m off to celebrate with a Back to the Future Marathon, pizza that doesn’t microwave and a skate board – but it’s amazing to see how time flies. No, I don’t feel old at all!

You can read some live updates here and here by The Guardian, and BBC here.

Happy Places: Libraries & Bookshops

I have a few places which I’d call my happy place (a shop with colourful pens, for example!) but one I think are one of my go-to happy places are libraries. I don’t go to libraries as often as I used to since I got my electronic book reader, which I use (when I do get time to myself!) or I end up forgetting I have a pile of books in my room (I currently have five next to my bed) and start reading something else.

I went to a local library yesterday, and loved the fact that although there are many changes to libraries, there’s still that magic of hundreds of books and the potential of a new world to step into. It reminds me of my childhood a little as well, since my sisters and I used to visit the library every week (and take out the maximum number of books allowed) – one of my earliest memories of the library is my dad taking me to the library as a child, and the estatic joy at seeing all the children books – so it’s no wonder that this feeling has stayed with me.

Whenever hubster and I go somewhere new, I always look for a bookstore or library to make myself home. This is a picture of one of my favourite discoveries – a beautifully quirky bookshop we found in the city of Istanbul, which had art, beautiful old books and a big curved staircase which just made the whole thing amazing.

So here’s one of my happy places, being surrounded by books. I just need to find that library which had the huuuuge books in them, so I can stand on top and pretend to be a tiny person lost in Book Land…!

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Dishoom: A Spicy Chai You Need To Try

A BOMBAY CAFE IN LONDON

The original Bombay Cafes have almost disappeared. Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, their faded elegance opened all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turns slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.

I recently visited Bombay Cafe Dishoom, Shoreditch branch,  which has been on my list of restaurants I’ve wanted to visit for a few year now. There a few branches open all over London now, and I’ve been told by a few friends who have been to this place how great this place is, so I had high expectations of this place. My friends and I booked a lunch to go one weekend to experience some culinary (and visual) delights, and were not disappointed.

Dishoom harks back to an older era which mixes chai in metal cups with fusion dishes and art deco and art noveau decor; there’s random railway signs (which remind me of old Bollywood films from my childhood), funky bits of clocks and machinery, sepia-coloured family photos and gorgeous fabrics and flooring, all mixed together for an old-timey but very friendly atmosphere. There’s nothing pretentious about this place at all, and the staff who work here are just as friendly.

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The best thing about this place is it’s eccentric decor and the way everything seemed to come together – everything is placed together in a mix-and-match way without feeling cluttered or over-crowded at all, and there’s plenty of seating for the customers.

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When we wear seated, we were giving metal cups and a water jug, with condiments and pretty plates. One of the things which really stood out from this restaurant was these plates, which were laid out with small personal stories on each one, in patterns and swirls and which added a really nice quirky touch. It really tied in with the history of the restaurant and gave a way of making us feel part of the restaurant’s Story and how it works.

Of course I have to comment on the food, which is the initial reason we came. Dishoom apparently does a brilliant breakfast, which I have yet to try but we came for a (slightly late!) lunch and loved what we had. Our meal was pretty traditional in its cuisine, but there was plenty of juicy flavour and variety, and there’s something special about each dish. The rotis (traditional chappatis/round bread) were huge and delicious, not like the usual naans you get in standard restaurants but something closer to what my mum makes, and the drinks were traditional South Asian drinks – no coke or Pepsi here, you’ll find what is served in a normal Bombay Cafe.

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And what meal is complete without tea and dessert? I loved the Dishoom take on some traditional desserts – the ‘Memsaab Mess’ and ‘Guju Chocolate Mousse’, combining traditional English desserts with an Eastern touch. I also loved the drinks menus – there’s seven types of chais alone, each with their own dash of unique flavour.

And of course I must mention the signs in this place – they’re humorous and to the point – it’s nice to be reminded sometimes not to sleep in the toilet!

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I love the way there is a juxtaposition of old style glamour with modern retro decor, everywhere you turn you’ll see wooden chairs and screens mixed with painting, odd bits of machinery on display, from the welcome counter at the front door to the ground floor bathrooms and bar.

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Like it’s name, (‘Dishoom’ is the sound you used to get in old Bollywood movies when heroes threw a punch, think ‘kapow!’), this restaurant packs quite a punch and certainly lives up to its name. I loved my visit here, for both the food and the style of this place, and it’s great when the visual experience you get is just as good as the food. I’m already planning to come back soon, and have recommended it since to about three people who went and said they loved it too. Maybe I’ll try another branch next time, Convent Garden maybe?

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