Sunday, 10 July 2016

Russian Walks - Chelsea and Fulham

Today I decided to embark on one of the Russian Cultural Walks around London. As I was in the area after Church I decided to follow the Chelsea and Fulham Walk. The walk begins at the Saatchi Gallery and ends at Brompton Cemetery, a distance of around 3.5 miles. As I have never lived in this area of London I was excited to explore a part of the city I do not usually frequent.
I have previously been to the Saatchi Gallery so decided not to go around it and view the recommended works of art but walk straight on to stop B on the route. This was a former dance academy turned Pizza Express. As a listed building the outside and statues have remained the same, and make it one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever seen. Note to self - one in dine in later.
The next few stops were buildings either built or frequented by famous Russians. They were worth seeing and created a slightly magically feeling as you could stand outside a building that once Tolstoy or Turgenev had stayed in over century ago. One for any Russian lit fan.
The last stop on the walk was Brompton Cemetery where Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh is buried, along with several other Russians I discovered. I had never been to Brompton Cemetery but it was without a doubt the highlight of the walk. The overgrown cemetery is filled with stone crosses, angels and mausoleums, and despite being a place of the dead has a sunny and calm atmosphere. From the information leaflet I learnt that it is London's most central and accessible cemetery, was designed to be a garden cemetery in the layout of a cathedral, and it was the first and only cemetery ever to be nationalised! 
The thing that struck me most about the route was that it did not just take you along main roads but down side streets. On the way I saw beautiful houses I never would otherwise of seen and got to discover several window boxes full of lavender. Something I bonded with an older gentleman over!
I would suggest to anyone wishing to pursue one of the walks is to take a smartphone. On more than one occasion I found it a little tough to follow the printed out map and had to use the maps app on my phone to find my way. However, this was a great way to spend a few hours in London and train for Shine Walk 2016.
NB It's not too late to sponsor me for my walk!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Cross Stitch Crazy!

As many may know when I am not at work, training for Shine Walk or doing all things Russian, I like to sewing and make things. So it was great to be in this month's issue of The World of Cross Stitching on the readers panel! Pick up issue 243 and see my lovely face smiling back at you;

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Shine Walk 2016 - Sponsor Me, Please!

Dearest Reader, things have been a bit quiet of late on the blogging front. Now this does not stem from a lack of desire to write or a lack of material, or because I have been too busy cooking and taking pictures of my food on Instagram, but simply in that I have been training for this year's Cancer Research UK Shine Walk for which I hope to raise £300.
The walk will be taking place on 24th September 2016 in London and begins in the evening. You walk the walk by night with glow sticks to light you up, hence Shine Walk! There is the option to do a full or half marathon length walk. I have opted for the half marathon and will be walking around 13 miles.
Aside from frequenting the gym I have decided to combine my love of Russian culture with walking and undertake some of the Russia Beyond the Headlines London Walks. These are a series of walks around London which take you past Russian related places you may not know were there. For example plaques of famous Russian people who lived in London, and sculptures by Russian artists.
Now comes the part where you can help, please click here to sponsor me! All donations of any size are very welcome, and you can also donate anonymously if you would prefer. We all know someone who has or has been affected by cancer, and Shine Walk is a way to raise money to help fund research into new cures.
Updates on progress and possibly funny stories to follow soon!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day one and all. I thought I would share this video with you. It made me laugh and sum up the day for some nicely;

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Film: The Patent Leather Shoes of the Unkown Soldier

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a film showing of the Bulgarian Film 'The Patent Leather Shoes of the Unknown Soldier' as part of the SSEES 100 Years Film Festival.
Admittedly I am not very au fair with Bulgarian Cinema but having studied Russian Cinema for many years decided to give it a whirl. To me there were many similarities between the two cinematic styles, perhaps not unsurprising given the Soviet link, but there were a couple of things that struck me about the film.
The first was the use of memory and its link to the narrator's childhood in rural Bulgaria. This trope is not unusual and could easily be compared to other cinematic work's such as Tarkovskii's Mirror. However, the thing which interested me is how the memories are triggered; the protagonist accidentally hits play on his tape recorder and hears a recording of some peasant music from his native land. Nothing unusual in that you might say, but what is interesting is that this occurs while he is on assignment in London and is outside Buckingham Palace watching the changing of the guard while Feed the Bird from Mary Poppins plays. Was the director aiming for a link with this film? I think yes. Both films are told from the point of view of children, have fantastical elements too them, and an unhappiness which needs resolving.
Further if the director were wanting to engage a Western audience this music could have the same effect on a Western viewer as the peasant music on the narrator. The question is why specifically the West? If the director chose this music to establish that the narrator is in the West it is not needed as he has already shown footage of London and the iconic Buckingham Palace.Therefore there must be some other reason who its inclusion.
The second thing I found interesting in the film was the use of exaggeration. For example in family scenes where the narrator finds something noisy it is too noisy, when he describes the marriage between his uncle and aunt as sad the bride is overtly sad, and when it is mentioned that the family resemble animals the next scene is of them grazing happily on all fours like sheep. To me this links back to the link with Mary Poppins where the characters dance with chimney sweeps and jump into pictures drawn on the street.
The link between these two films may be subtle but is indeed there. This is one film I would recommend any fan of Eastern European Cinema sees, partly so I can discuss my theory with you.