Berlin Part Three

Although we’d heard that Sunday brunch is a traditional part of Berliner culture, we decided instead to head out to Friedrichshain for a much anticipated vegan kebab at Vöner. I’d been looking forward to this absolute treat for MONTHS so you can imagine how excited I was as we hopped on to the tram and headed off. I’m glad to say that it absolutely did NOT disappoint – Vöner is amazing as they have an actual proper vegan kebab spit thing and they carve the meat off just like a ‘real’ kebab. Just thinking about it now is making me […]

Windsor Castle

When I posted the other day about my forthcoming fortieth birthday (eek!), many of you expressed astonishment that I had ‘visit Windsor Castle’ on my Things To Do Before I Turn Forty List. Which is fair enough – after all, I am a history blogger and have been resident in the UK for my entire life so far so how come I’ve never managed to visit? The thing is that I HAD actually been to Windsor Castle before. Well, sort of. I spent a lovely afternoon in the private bit of the estate, near Frogmore House, there a couple of […]

Ian Finlay-Hamilton at the Arnolfini

I’ve been a huge fan of Ian Finlay-Hamilton ever since I was a spotty sixth former, completely obsessed with the French Revolution and wracked with a terrible and obviously unrequited love for Louis-Antoine de Saint Just. I remember feeling utterly astounded by Finlay-Hamilton’s work at the time, unable to believe that here was someone who had taken the same obsessions, the same instinctive passion for neo-classical design and actually turned it into something of beauty. I thrilled when I read about his imaginary organisation, the Saint-Just Vigilantes – an organisation without members or rules but with a very definite agenda […]

A Visit to Tyntesfield

(‘TAKE A PHOTO OF ME IN THE JACK THE RIPPER HAT!’ I yelled at my poor husband, snatching the said hat off The Eight Year Old’s head as other parents stared at us in aghast horror and silently ushered their own children away.) It was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK so we made the absolute most of it with a visit to the SS Great Britain and M Shed on the Harbourside in Bristol on Saturday, an epic walk around Leigh Woods (a huge and very well looked after forest belonging to the National Trust which is […]

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey. All photos: Melanie Clegg. The sun is finally starting to come out in the south west so we decided to make the most of it by heading to nearby Lacock Abbey for a day of historical treats which had the additional bonus of giving me a bit of time off from the gloom and gore of 1888 Whitechapel. It also happened to be the National Trust’s regular ‘free weekend’ so that was great timing! I know that we really ought to still be members of the good old National Trust but we’ve run out of places to visit […]

Vigée Lebrun and Marie Antoinette

Their association began when Marie Theresa asked the Count Mercy to approach Marie Antoinette to request two full length portraits for a room filled with family portraits. Forgoing the usual court painters, Marie Antoinette chose someone new for this important commission: a rising star in art, the Parisian portraitist Madame Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who had already painted Marie Antoinette’s brother in law, the Comte de Provence. It was to be the first painting in a series that was to immortalise both sitter and artist in the eyes of posterity: when one thinks of Marie Antoinette, it is the vision of her […]