Reviews, Social Commentary

Frieze Art Fair London 2017

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Damien Hirst Butterflies, Frieze Art Fair 2017. All photos courtesy of NHYM 

Last night was the Preview night of the Frieze London and it was full of bright colours and patterns. To me, it demonstrates a reaction to the difficult world we live in today with news reels filled with terrorism, gun violence and nuclear weapons waved around by complete goons, Trump v Kim. It is a dire and dark world and artists in reaction are creating pieces to take us away from it all.

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There is something to be said about going back to comforting places. The colours and techniques felt very familiar this year and less eccentric than the past years. These above Gauguin and Matisse-inspired pieces induced a feeling of comfort in me, as if I had seen them before.

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These geometrical patterns and colours above felt similarly influenced by greats like Rothko. There were a lot of cartoon-like art reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein as well.

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I particularly loved this piece, which was made up of four screens of a film of moving water, which was a soothing and peaceful scene in the middle of the crowded and frenetic art scene.

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This was an interesting political, social and cultural commentary on South Korea.

Patterns: 

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There were a lot of patterns on display which creates a feeling of routine, familiarity and comfort, which I think the world feels and needs at the moment.

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People Watching: 

Of course the people watching was almost as great as the art. Preview night always promises colourful outfits and characters and this year did not disappoint with balloon woman:

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I mean, how does she breathe??? I still haven’t figured this one out, but she was great ‘live art’ to watch, and the silver headed man was pretty entertaining too.

New To The Frieze: 

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This year, a new American Express Centurion Lounge opened at the Frieze for certain American Express card holders. They are opening airport lounges for their card members and have already 7 in the US and a few around the world like Hong Kong but plan to open them globally and this one is to showcase their new venture.

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Inside the lounge, well, it does look like an airport lounge, but it offers complimentary champagne, snacks and even sandwiches, so when you are in need of an art-break, it is definitely worth stopping by for a drink and art-discussions. There is also a new BMW lounge, which you could sign up to and a VIP Lounge at Frieze Masters by the guys behind 1 Grovesnor Square.

Frieze keeps growing year after year, with parallel art, fashion, design and architecture events around London and now even airplane lounges, cars and luxury developers have joined the party. This year, to me, it was about comfort, routine and light and bright, which feels is what we are all needing these days.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary, the beta mum book

Fashion Week 2017: Anya Hindmarch & Ralph Lauren

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All photos courtesy of NHYM 2017. 

This week has been bustling with activity for London’s Fashion Week Fall ’17. Mums have been dropping off their children at school and then rushing off to fashion shows or events, dressed-to-impress. I am someone who appreciates fashion: I enjoy looking it at and wearing it, but you wouldn’t say I am a ‘fashionista’ unlike friends of mine including Smart Fashionista who has 167K followers because of what she wears (hey, we all have our strengths). I am not fashion forward enough, and I like my clothes comfortable (read: leggings and sweaters uniform) for the school run.

But this week, I was busy with my own fashion collaborations with a book signing and talk at Anya Hindmarch on Tuesday for my book The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land. On Thursday, I was invited to an exclusive ‘Cars and Fashion’ Ralph Lauren event.  I love both brands and actually have both brands in my closet so makes for the perfect fashion week invitations. (Let’s face it, there is some fashion that is great to see on a runway but not necessarily to wear).

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My book signing table! Loved it. NHYM 2017. 

On Tuesday, I was invited to do a small private talk, reading, book signing and Q&A session  at Anya Hindmarch in their Sloane Street shop with the Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club, a group of international women in London. They were a lovely, thoughtful and enthusiastic group.

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It was also a chance to browse Anya Hindmarch’s new Fall ’17 collection, while sipping on wine and discussing the trials and tribulations of writing a book. This fall’s highlight to me was Anya Hindmarch’s ‘Build a Bag’ concept, which is great fun. You take a bag, and add lots of fun accessories. I particularly like the fluffy pompoms to add to any bag (or at least my girls would love them).

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Anya’s fall collection was a perfect collaboration because it is playful, fun and colourful, which is how I think The Beta Mum should be read.

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Next up, I was invited to a cars and fashion Ralph Lauren event at their New Bond Street store last night. The perfect combination, it appealed to men and women: boys and their toys and girls and their dresses. Some things never change whether you are 5 years old or 50 years old.

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The event was hosted by the beautiful Yasmin Le Bon and had lots of Ferraris around.

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This was my absolute favourite room with a red, black and white palette of colours; sleek, sophisticated and luxurious. I love RL for those reasons and hopefully there may be a future collaboration in the making.

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I loved both events, although they were very different. Anya Hindmarch’s collection is channeling colours and fun, while Ralph Lauren is channeling sleek and sophisticated, but I’d like to think that I can work both styles! Another Fashion week comes to an end and the fashion houses can breathe again next week, until the next one.

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Thank you Anya Hindmarch for hosting my book signing and thank you Ralph Lauren for inviting me to this great event!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

 

 

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Photos, Reviews, Travel

Florence…With Kids!

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Florence view from Villa San Michele. All photos NHYM 2017

As we all know, traveling with kids is just not the same as travelling without kids. I laugh at my friends with young babies who tell me ‘But, holidays are just not holidays with kids!’ And then the children grow up a bit and you can leave them in the Kids’ Club and have a few hours of peace on the beach with a book and cocktail in hand. I am now at the age where my children are – just about – ready for cultural holidays.

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So this summer, we decided to take the plunge and take a ‘plane-car-boat-train-road-trip’ from Florence to France. Florence, I thought, would be a great place to start exposing them to sight-seeing and cultural holidays. It’s rich in culture, art, architecture and history, while being quite manageable in size. Oh and it has some great hotels and great food.

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The one thing about getting older – and I am – is that it’s the time to fulfil your dreams. As children and as we grow up, we create our dreams in our minds, but as an adult, you get to make those dreams – hopefully – happen (or so I tell myself so I don’t get too depressed about getting older). Villa San Michele is one of those places I had read about twenty years ago and always wanted to go. It is an old monastery with a facade by Michaelangelo, which was converted into a luxury hotel. It is one of these places where you feel like you are absorbing history just by staying there. Some people may find it too old/cold, not-as-great as-it-once-was, but I loved it and was very happily not disappointed. It has the most wonderful views of Florence and is up in the hills where it is cooler than the valley where Florence resides.

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We loved our room, a Garden Suite, which we got as an upgrade and it was huge and perfect for a family of four. Not sure how or why we got such a great upgrade, but it ended up being the most value-for-money hotel we stayed in for the entire trip.

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The trick I realised with cultural holidays, is that you should spend 3 – 4 hours sightseeing with the children, and then make sure there is a pool at the hotel where they can spend the rest of the day. It was the perfect balance for them and for us.

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Top 5 Activities To Do With Kids in Florence: 

  1. Ride a Tuk Tuk or any other kind of fun transportation through Florence to see the main landmark places such as the Piazzale Michaelangelo, the Duomo, and the Ponte Vecchio so you don’t have to hear ‘I don’t want to walk anymore!’ http://www.tuktukflorence.net/tuk-tours
  2. Do a treasure hunt through the museums and palaces like the Palazzo Vecchio with a tour guide looking for flowers, turtles and mystical creatures. (Dr. Alessandra Bernabei is great – although on the expensive side +393398517317)PizzaMakingFlorenceNHYM
  3. Learn how to make your own pizza and gelato. And then eat them for dinner. https://www.florencetown.com/161-pizza-gelato-cooking-class.html
  4. Take a trip to surrounding areas such as Chianti, Forte Dei Marmi or Cinque Terre. http://www.marklimotours.com – Mark speaks perfect English and will take you anywhere you want.
  5. This one’s not really for the kids but has to be done. Leave the kids in front of a DVD and have a romantic dinner at La Loggia restaurant in Villa San Michele. Utterly beautiful views and sunset to try to get a little romance back. SunsetVillaSanMicheleNHYMThe children learned about the history of the Romans, the Medicis, about architecture and religion, about pizza and gelato making and about Michaelangelo and the Renaissance. It was a really culturally enriching trip and fun for the whole family. For anyone thinking about going to Florence, I highly recommend it!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

Recommended hotels:

Villa San Michele

https://www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence/

Four Seasons Florence

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Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party & Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit

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Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit. NHYM 2017

It has been an ‘artful’ week with both a private view of the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit and the Serpentine Summer Party 2017. Yes, the summer season has officially started with events such as Queens, Wimbledon and Henley, but I have chosen the art scene to fill my nights. On Tuesday night, I attended a private view of the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibit.

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The Summer Exhibit was more modern than the last time I attended, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. This painting ‘Art Makes Children Powerful’ set against the sculpture of this child was very powerful. Our children are our future and in all this instability, art provides stability and an outlet for expression.

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Not only was the art creative, but these hors d’hoeuvres were absolutely brilliant! They really looked like the real thing.

Serpentine Summer Party

Next, on Wednesday night was the Serpentine Summer Party!

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The Serpentine Summer Pavilion 2017 was designed by Francis Kere, influenced by growing up in Burkina Faso and his schooling in Germany. It is based around the symbol of a tree as a place where people gather together, where everyday activities play out under the shade of its branches. Symbolically, I appreciate its construct, but visually I admit that I preferred last year’s pavilion.

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As a new feature, this year had a pop-up restaurant dedicated to Coco Chanel, therefore called Coco’s. Chanel sponsored the party this year, but sadly Karl was not in attendance. The restaurant offered crudites and a main – stone bass or burrata – that was meant to be eaten in 20 minutes. Mr. X and I loved the concept and were very happy to try it out.

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But of course, the private concert is always one of the highlights of the night. That night, despite the freezing cold weather, Rita Ora played some great music to get the crowd moving. What I like is Rita Ora’s story. She is a proper Notting Hill girl and was involved in the Rugby Portobello Trust, which has proven to be truly inspirational in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. She truly illustrates the power of dreams and of working hard to fulfil those dreams.

Of course, the people watching was, as always, brilliant. From Damien Lewis to Claudia Schiffer, to Dame Shirley Bassey to Mario Testino and stalwarts like Grayson Perry. The amount of talent, artistry and creativity in one place is incomparable to any other party. And for normal people like me, we hope to absorb some of their creativity.

It was a great night as always!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

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In the Press, Reviews, the beta mum book

Thank you to all my reviewers!

As the last week until my book launch approaches, I wanted to share some of the wonderful reviews that have started coming in from book reviewers, mum bloggers and also Goodreads Advance Copy readers. I am humbled by the words that people have used to describe my book, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land. I couldn’t hope for more wonderful words, and as a writer, this makes the hours of hard work, solitude and perseverance all worth it. So a very BIG thank you to all of you who have taken the time out of your busy days and lives to read my book and write down your thoughts on it. Without readers there would be no writers. xx

‘Intelligent, thought-provoking fiction that you want to keep reading…I completely bought into Sophie. I wanted to give her a hug. It’s a couple of days since I finished the book, but I keep wondering how she’s getting on. She’s not alone though – all the characters come off the page and into your life. It’s a great story too: I read it in a couple of sittings…’ The Book Bag.

‘Beta Mum is a brilliantly written, engaging novel, I literally can’t put it down. I hope it’s adapted into a TV series or film asap.’ Vicki Psarias, Honest Mum. 

‘This is a must-read…It is brilliant, witty, fun, sad and thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down. There were also plenty of things I could relate to and recognise… I wish there were a sequel.’ Karin Thyselius-Schumacher, NW8-Mums.com

‘What can I say? I absolutely LOVED this book!…It made laugh out loud, cringe and hold my breath. It’s so relatable… I think there’s scope for this to become a series and I for one cannot to wait to see if it does!’ Purple Book Stand

‘Keep an eye out for blogger and new author Isabella Davidson. Her debut novel, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land is funny, relevant, entertaining, a bit suspenseful and very reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella and Liane Moriarty’s love child…if they were to ever have one…you know in chick-lit land.’ Jennifer Castro, Goodreads

‘Forget politics…this is a world that’s more dog-eat-dog! The Beta Mum is the hilarious fish-out-of-water tale of Sophie, a Canadian, who ends up pitted against the rich, socialite mums of west London. Isabella Davidson’s debut novel really astutely follows her escapades as she tries to settle in and make friends, while finding her own place in this new, glossy world. Highly recommend!’ Ex – Harlequin Editor

‘What a great book!…A great debut book from Isabella Davidson, and I hope it will be the first of many.’ Heather Lou, Goodreads

‘I loved this fictional story that has a gallery of fascinating super rich mums…Book loving friends, you have to read this book with ‘rich’ characters you will want to read about.’ Suzanne Marsh, IReadNovels

‘I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and observant, and I really empathised with Sophie and her plight…Davidson has some really good insights into marriage after children and the effect that virtual life has on one’s real life. Hopefully this is the first of many books for her.’ Kaci Loves Books

 

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Reviews, Top 10, Travel

Glamping at New Barn Farm

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Glamping Canvas Frills Tent. NHYM 2017. All photos courtesy of NHYM

When I told my friends I was going ‘glamping’ they looked at me suspiciously: ‘You? Glamping? Really?’ It is true that glamping is not on the top of my travel bucket list (uhm, Bhutan, Buenos Aires and Burma are currently my frontrunners) but it was something I was prepared to do ‘for the children.’

Lately, all of my friends have been going glamping. Apparently it is ‘the’ thing to do if you are middle/upper middle class in England. (And Soho Farmhouse does NOT count). So, when two friends asked if I wanted to go glamping, I was curious enough to give it a try (I’ll try anything once). They booked the New Barn Farm in Bedfordshire which is a running farm with a camp site on it and is part of Feather Down, a collection of glamping holidays.

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Inside Canvas Frills Tent. NHYM 2017.

For those who do not know what ‘glamping’ is, it is ‘glamourous camping,’ which means you actually have a bed. How hard could it be? Well, it all started before we left and I was given a list of what to bring: blankets, milk, water, food, tea, coffee, fruit, matches, hot water bottles and the list goes on – you pretty much have to pack your whole house for one weekend. And then I forgot socks.

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The Bathroom. NHYM 2017.

The good news is that our Canvas Frills Tent had a bathroom – some of the tents didn’t have bathrooms. You actually had to go to an outhouse. Now that was one step too far for me. Apparently the farmer told my friends that I looked very ‘nervous’ when I arrived and he kept asking if I was OK every time he saw me. Ha.

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Chicken coop. NHYM 2017

Before you arrive, you can ‘reserve’ some chickens next to your tent and guinea pigs, which of course the girls were thrilled with.

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Eggs from the chicken coop. NHYM 2017. 

We were able to collect eggs from the chicken coop which was rather satisfying – cooking my freshly collected eggs made me feel very ‘one with nature.’ (Well actually, my friend cooked them).

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Rabbits petting farm. NHYM 2017. 

This is a working farm with lambs, pigs, swans, goats, roosters, horses, bunnies and guinea pigs, so for animal loving children, this is heaven. (You should try pig feeding, it’s quite an experience). There is a small petting farm that children can go in and pet the bunnies and guinea pigs to their heart’s delight.

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Baby Guinea Pig. NHYM 2017.

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Rooster New Barn Farm. NHYM 2017. 

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One of the pet Guinea Pigs. Which we lost. NHYM 2017

One of the great past-times at New Barn Farm is guinea-pig-chasing….Basically, you can ‘rent’ a guinea pig for the weekend who stays in a cage outside your tent, but when you take them out for a pet and you don’t hold them tight enough, they are prone to run away. Our group lost two guinea pigs in two days and had to go chasing guinea pigs in bushes and under our tent. Not a good record.

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Fire and boiling water. NHYM 2017. 

The other great past time whilst glamping is building fires. I had been forewarned that it can get very cold at night (we were there early May) and there is no heat in the tent apart from the fire, so be prepared (or rather husbands and dads be prepared) to keep a continuous fire going. You will need to buy 1) wood 2) coal 3) kindling 4) matches and bring a man with big biceps to keep the fire going all night long…. It was freezing in the night, despite multiple blankets, so I barely slept  (and neither did my youngest who told me she was dreaming of tropical beaches).

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Cupboard bed. NHYM 2017

The cupboard bed was a fun novelty for my eldest and was the warmest part of the tent at night – protected and closest to the fire.

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Breakfast NHYM 2017.

One of the highlights was having our meals together in one of our friend’s tent: 3 families, 6 children and 6 adults all cozying up in one tent. You can pre-order your meals which will be waiting for you at the farm ‘shop,’ including breakfast and BBQ essentials. Although it isn’t quite room service, it is a lot of fun. Saturday night is pizza night, where the hosts will make pizza in their outdoor pizza oven for you, which is great fun.

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Feeding baby lambs. NHYM 2017. 

The other big highlight for our children was feeding baby orphan lambs with milk bottles. We went there specifically in Spring for this, and although it was cold, the girls loved it.

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The New Barn Farm. NHYM 2017. 

For a true farm experience for the children, New Barn Farm was great. Despite the freezing cold, the kids really enjoyed it and if it had been warm it would have been perfect. As long as you bring a few hot water bottles (or a man with biceps to keep the fire going) and go with some friends who will host you in their tent so you don’t have to do the cleaning up, you will survive. Like I did.

New Barn Farm: 

http://www.featherdown.co.uk/location/new-barn-

Other glamping options:

http://www.featherdown.co.uk

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

FarmerTruckNHYM

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Reviews

Private Tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum

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V&A Entrance. All photos courtesy of NHYM 2017. 

BETTER IT IS TO GET WISDOM THAN GOLD.

This week, an amazing writer friend of mine who happens to work at the V&A (he is an actual couture expert and teaches in the History of Design MA – incredible!) gave my writing class a private tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington. I didn’t know much about the V&A apart from the fab couture exhibits like the Alexander McQueen exhibit, and last year’s Indian jewellery exhibit, which was equally as fabulous, so I was more than excited to join in.

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Inner Courtyard. NHYM 2017. 

As we stood in the inner courtyard where quotes like ‘Better it is to get wisdom than gold’ are inscribed in the museum’s facade, he started with a little history: the museum was founded in 1852 by Queen Victoria & Prince Albert as a place where the best art and design from around the world would be displayed to teach the English about design. It has since then become the largest decorative arts and design museum in the world.

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Persian Rug. NHYM 2017. 

Art and Design is such a broad subject and has such range that it is an enormous museum with 5.5 million objects of art and design, from around the world and through the generations. There are international collections including Asian Art and this Persian rug which has a specially built case that is deprived of light to preserve it – except when it is turned on for 10 minutes every 30 minutes for museum goers to see it.

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Hallway and Staircase. V&A. NHYM 2017. 

There is a blending of the old and the new at this museum, as you can see from all the Italianate designs and paintings – which at the time were the epitome of art and design -and the modern water feature in the main courtyard.

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The Cafe. NHYM 2017.

Here, you can see the modern design of this light – which I love – against the stained glass and ornate decorations in the background. The V&A was the first museum to have a cafe inside and it is still a hub of activity, especially on Friday nights where events like jazz concerts are held.

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Jewellery Collection. NHYM 2017. 

Of course, I wanted to go straight to the jewellery collection which showcases beautifully crafted jewels of amethysts, topaz and diamonds that illustrate the handicraft and tastes of the time.

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Diamond brooch. NHYM 2017. 

This above diamond brooch is one of my favourite pieces, which looks like it inspired the Chanel camellia range:

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Chanel Camelia Ring. Courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2017.

Unsurprisingly, the Chanel ring has been on my ‘Lust List’ for a while. The Boodles Raindance ring, also one of my favourites, is also part of the jewellery collection.

Unfortunately the fashion exhibit was shut as they are preparing for their next exhibit, Balenciaga, which is opening in May.

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Theatre Posters. NHYM 2017. 

There is an entire theatre and performance collection, which has posters and costumes that even your children would be interested in seeing.

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Lion King costumes. NHYM 2017. 

Speaking of children, this is a museum I would happily bring my children to, especially the paddling pool in the main courtyard that allows children. And then there is an entire Beatrix Potter collection, where you can see the works of one of the best-loved children’s authors.

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Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter. NHYM 2017. 

This is apparently the original Peter Rabbit that Beatrix Potter once drew in her South Ken home.

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Modern Collection. NHYM 2017

In the modernism collection, modern designs of furniture and objects, as well as photographs are shown. Apparently, to continue collecting modern design, V&A collectors are sent out to the streets of London to pick and choose random pieces of modern design to keep in the collection.

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Boom box. NHYM 2017.

But what made me feel really old is when I saw this old boom box from the 80s encased in a special glass framed case, like a shrine. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but show it to a teenager and they will think it was a relic of olden days….

For anyone who loves jewellery and fashion, theatre and music, the new and the old, design and art, this museum is a hub of beauty and creativity, modernity and history that not a lot of museums bring together like it does. Two upcoming exhibits I do not want to miss are the Pink Floyd and the Balenciaga exhibit. Can’t wait!

Thank you so much for the tour of the V&A, it was amazing! 

https://www.vam.ac.uk

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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