Monday, 30 November 2015

Insta Post November 2015 - Al Thani Jewels, Christmas tree by Damien Hirst, and Budapest

Sorry but I am already over all the holiday parties and cheer.
I am exhausted and it's not even December.
I had my first batch of parties this weekend and 
I am really feeling it today.

Sorry to be bah hambug but you are talking to someone who was skeptical even sitting on Santa's knee when I was 5. 

But I don't normally do fancy dress nor Christmas jumpers so I took tinsel to wrap around a simple black top instead.

London is festive at the moment though and has all the lights up.

I went to a lunch yesterday at a Turkish restaurant where they had so many pendant lights up I was wondering if it passed the health and safety requirement.

There was an odd dish which was cut up kebab with rice in the middle so they could charge quadruple what they would charge for a kebab.

Sotheby's had the preview for the books in the private library of Pierre Berge.

It isn't particularly photogenic but the items up close were interesting to peer over.

He had a first edition signed copy of Madame Bovary.

They had this shelf for books just outside the room which was nice but then I don't think regular books would look so nice and would detract from the item.

I relived one of those unfortunate auction regrets when I was outbid for cane chairs very similar to the one below especially when these were going for 10 times what I missed out on.
Mind you this is Sotheby's and getting a "sleeper" doesn't happen as often as it does for the smaller auction houses.

Budapest had some spectacular interiors and I enjoyed breakfast at the New York Cafe.

So grand!

People also tend to forget the Romans loved Budapest and this is one of the intact mosaic floors that survived 2000 years.

Budapest was also one of the biggest Jewish cities before World War 1.
It has the second largest synagogue in the world after Temple Emanu-el in Manhattan.

The inside of the synagogue had so many different types of architecture and a very unique building indeed. 

Buildings in Budapest are rather under publicized and the scale is very much in fitting with the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

I now have my favorite baths in Budapest - it isn't this one but the ones pictures in my previous post on my trip.
This one was nice and I wish I had my camera to take a picture of their amazing tiling and spaces.

This is one I took from the internet.
There were many synagogues in the city and this one was bombed during the war but it still was so beautiful and my favorite.

It's still undergoing restoration.

The food in Budapest is wholesome and nourishing with its huge portions.
This was one of the lightest meals I had during my stay.
The spaghetti had one inch of sour cream and grated cheese.
They also have such great wines that were such phenomenal value.
This meal with a pinot noir of outstanding quality cost me £5 which included a generous tip.

The highlight of my trip was meeting the Hattats of the blog of the very same name.
Jane and Lance invited me to their home in Budapest which as you can see from the picture had the most enviable perfect proportions. 

While their blog is charming, it doesn't do them justice in the slightest. Don't worry I did my usual nagging for them to post a blog again!

I flew back over London looking so photogenic and bright.

The V&A just opened an exhibition of the jewel collection of the Al Thani royal family.

These jewels are so fabulous and I don't think any picture could do justice to any of the pieces.

They also had two pieces from Her Majesty's Royal collection that we weren't allowed to take pictures of.

If you are in town, I insist you go and see these pieces.

This is the Christmas tree done by Damien Hirst just in front of Connaught Hotel.

From the general view it just looks like another tree with ornaments until you look up close and the ornaments are actually pills, and tablets and syringes.

Apparently there have been complaints about the nature of the ornaments but it's Damien Hirst with his quirky sense of humour.

I wish everyone all the strength and energy needed for this month! x


  1. The pill tree is so vulgar! Haha but I can't help but love it either. London has a love for sort of rude art though, doesn't it?
    How nice that you met J&L.
    Love the auction tours and am very sorry about those chairs-both the originals and these memory triggers. If I have one talent, it is buying stuff when I want it and never having this regret. Buuuut it has its drawbacks. The chairs will pop up again where you least expect them. They always do. I have a set of Chinese Chippendale chairs that I passed over a few times here or there and eventually found 6 for $150. Maybe you didn't miss them, you're just holding out for the right deal. Aren't I optimistic today?

    1. I was joking that the tree is actually depicting the need for all those drugs after the holiday season! Or in some cases during the holiday season. London is always a bit rude and if it doubt it's probably rude! I lost the chairs by one bid at an auction earlier this year and I don't know why I wince especially as I don't need them. I need your optimism this month Stephen!

  2. One never knows what to comment on first in your comfortably rambling posts, but I love the Hungarian restaurant with the lamps, the mosaic floor, and the medication tree. (I can;t quite tell the scale, but I am assuming that those needles are not actually sharp.)

    Never fret about losing by one bid; the other guy may have been willing to go several times the amount. In that case, further bids on your part would merely have been inflationary, and not have gotten you the chairs.

    1. I did wish to touch the ornaments and suspect the tree might slowly be barer as drunken pranksters might take one here and there with the prices of anything Hirst related. Yes you are right I keep telling myself that I'd have been outbid anyway!

  3. You've been so busy and I love it that you met J&L. I can imagine how lovely they are. Budapest is just gorgeous, I have to get there, add it to the list I guess. Love the disturbing Christmas tree. I'm feeling tired by Christmas already, it's not just you. I sent gifts to my siblings and my nephew way back in October because they live far away, I haven't done any other Christmas shopping and I likely won't. I'm so sick of the constant online sales and emails, in fact I spent Black Friday unsubscribing to all of these stupid sites that send me stuff every day, ugh. I had a No Spend November which was excellent, looks like I'll just keep going on that one.
    My kids will get ski equipment for Christmas which luckily my hubs is in charge of buying!
    So I guess I'm a bah humbug too, suits me I think. Though I have to get in the spirit somewhat because I have loads of Christmas baking to do. XOX

    1. I'm so exhausted after not partying I forgot one must not mix drinks so I mixed cocktails and wine and it's painful. Budapest has so much but none of it is famous and everything was a surprise. No spend decry sounds great. I have done 99% of my pressies already so at least I don't have that hanging over my head. You can concentrate on other holiday events with family and friends instead xx

    2. So agree about the Black Friday emails… and now Cyber Monday. I was bombarded - not only all the US shops going in hard on the emails, but also the UK and Aussie ones too. Black Friday is now a thing in Australia it seems (which is bizarre). I spent a lot of time unsubscribing. It would be interesting to see if their email lists shrink rapidly over this period!

    3. I think there is slowly a backlask against this shopping malarkey.

    4. Yes, Black Friday seemed big here too. Don't remember it as a feature at all last year. Had been wondering why it was called Black Friday - husband explained he thought it was because years ago American retailers used it (followed by Christmas shopping and the sales) as an extra way of getting ledgers back into the black (or keeping them there) as winter tended to be a slow time for sales. Do you, or does anyone know if this is correct? Anyway, G did well out of it as DJs had some amazing bargains in men's clothes - there was a pair of Paul Smith pants in a kind of red/burgundy that originally cost around $250 (probably not a popular colour - but turned out he'd been wanting some just like that, who knew?) - the trousers and two good shirts to go with - all together cost a total of $112! Didn't see any similar bargains that I liked in women's wear.
      Naomi, again an amazing post - from pill bottles on Christmas trees to Beautiful Budapest, to cane chairs at auction and Pierre Berge's library. We can always expect the unexpected. I love it. Also loved the red bag full of silver glitter.
      Must have been wonderful to visit the Hattatts! But I have to admit to wondering. Why is part of the frieze above the doorway draped in black cloth? Don't spose you know? We too have languished in that amazing New York café - and in others almost as grand. The Austro-Hungarians certainly had a penchant for gilt and glory.
      Looking forward to whatever comes next. Am writing this as my Christmas pud finishes its first major steam. Must go and check! Pammie

    5. There are quite a few explanations about Black Friday and some are rather dire and too depressing to repeat here! The xmas tree from afar is so classic and tall and it's only when I walked closer I did a double take because I was thinking - is that a syringe? oh hang on it is a syringe. His art always gets people talking in any case right? Budapest took me aback and I am hoping to go again next year because I want to see the palace that Empress Sissi lived in. You would love the Hattats and you must say hi to them if you are ever there next year. That New York cafe is the grandest cafe I have ever been to - makes Parisian cafes look like MCDonalds. Bet your puds are yum xx

    6. Before I went to check on the pud made the mistake of accepting the update to Windows 10. So am still here at the computer so late. Had to make quite a few decisions without really understanding what I was doing (so what's new!) and it's taken hours. Good news was that pud looks fine and smells heavenly. It's on FB.
      Sissi's story is fascinating, isn't it! She was, in a way, kind of the Princess Diana of Austria- Hungary. Tragic end too. In Vienna we usually stay in the Hotel Konigin Elisabeth, named after her, and there are large portraits of her and hubby who was so devoted. The museums and galleries are wonderful. So many to visit too. It's great to visit both cities, one after the other to take in both Austro-Hungarian capitals. They're only a couple of hours apart by road, so very convenient.
      Our DIL's family is Hungarian so we travelled around the beautiful old Hungarian towns where they were born and other areas where they'd lived. In Budapest we met up with her mother's family and were treated to fatted calf and tokay. They were so kind even though we're just her in-laws. Pammie xx

    7. Ooops! That should be Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth in Vienna! She was Empress not just Queen! Pammie

  4. Fabulous post as always -love your pictures. Budapest looks fabulous.

  5. Gosh, what a busy bumblebee you've been, hot-footing it across town and country(ies).

    Loved those caned chairs and I think I would have shed a few tears too had I been outbid for similar ones. I cannot imagine getting a "sleeper" at these auctions, no way. Well too organized and advertised and obviously their experts know what they have on their hands.

    Secondly, how fabulous to have an audience with the esteemed Hattatts, and in their fine home too. I'm sure you had a lovely visit with them. Budapest and its architecture looks to be divine and well maintained and, more importantly, appreciated, by the looks of things.

    Thirdly, hang in there with the spirit of the season. I know London is such a social town and everything always looks so festive. Just make sure you get a little rest between the parties.

    1. One of my best bargains ever was at Bonhams during the financial crisis! I got random prints for 30 pounds! That was one of the best sleepers ever. I had so much fun with the Hattats and their flat is perfect and proportions like that just don't exist in London. Paris but not here. The rest between parties at this rate might be next year! I feel my age after a party nowadays CD...

  6. Uh Imma gonna jump on a plane and join you. Londres looks amaze. As does Budapest, no idea it was so stately x

    1. The lights make the early nights bearable. But Budapest really needs a PR team BC it has so much yet no one realises. I barely scratched the surface there

  7. Love your travels. Never thought to put sour cream on spaghetti...odd?

    1. I had so much near which I don't normally eat too much of so for a change I tried it and I loved it especially with the local Pinot noir and a side of goulash

  8. So fun to meet the Hattats! I'm trying to get all of the Christmas stuff done so I can really enjoy the season with a lot of reading by the fire. I used to quite like Hirst but now find his stuff too depressing. I have not been to Budapest but would love to make it there this summer. It looks spectacular and everyone I know who's been loves it. You have been busy. Hopefully you can grab some down time soon. xo

    1. Hirst now has made so much money everything's does seems like a laugh now! Reading by the fire seems a dream and I wish I had a fireplace. You would love the Hattats!

  9. For a variety of reasons I haven't been feeling terribly Christmassy either. Despite baking 3 gingerbread houses on the weekend (which actually made me feel quite grumpy - they were for my youngest to decorate at school and took 5 hours of baking). Loved this random post. I wouldn't wear a Christmas jumper either. I'm not very into theming and am renowned for my poor efforts at Fancy Dress parties.
    Love, love, love the pictures of Budapest, and it is so high on my list of places to visit. Also love those chairs and feel bad you have non purchasing regret on them. But that revolving bookcase is divine!!! You know how I love those.. how much is the estimate??! xx

    1. Did you know that there's official Xmas jumper day in 2 weeks? People really do get in the spirit and wear them. But I just don't need the clutter. Budapest has so much that even though I was there 4 days I hardly saw half the things on the to see list- I need to see the palaces next trip. Those chairs as you see would be a lifetime deal and never tire of them and I think that's why the pang lingers. Will check to see how much they went for! Xx

  10. i am suddenly longing to return to london and have a piqued interest in budapest!
    my business has begun decorating a house for a christmas walk. if i had the nerve in this uptight region i reside in, a medication tree would be too fun!

    1. Budapest is a demure humble city and I can't believe it's taken me so long to go. At least this tree has gotten people talking BC regular baubles would have been ignored!

  11. I'm exhausted just reading your post, you have certainly been so very busy lately! I do love your Jige, is that Rouge Vif? I hope we get to meet someday and I will have my Rouge Vif Jige with me, it's honestly one of the best bags I ever purchased. We can be bag twins (mine is box calf). Love that sitting room of the Hattats, I just want to swill champagne and have a long chat with you there and meet Jane and Lance in person! I'm sorry I missed the Al-Thani jewels at the Met (damn it all), I'm thinking of going to Christie's this weekend to see a preview of one of their magnificent jewels auction. If I make it I will post pics to IG! xx

    1. Believe me it's so comfy I was there half the day with the Hattats! Yes make up for the jewels with some other I say. Bag is Epsom in rouge casaque although I love box you can't be picky these days as they rarely come up. Long gone are the days they were selling them in their website xx

  12. This is my favourite time of the year and as the years go by, I am able to have less and less stress/pressure. I do the way I like and it goes smooth...
    We haven't started the parties yet, it should be this coming weekend.
    Oh my! were there any spaghettis under the cheese?

    1. you are lucky to feel calm - i normally vary depending on the year but I am afraid I piqued too early.

      Yes that was sour cream and ewe's cheese on top with goulash on the side and a sweetish pinot noir - it was yummy though a bit heavy - not your type of food Stephanie!

  13. well, tomorrow night is the big tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Ever since I saw workmen drilling holes into the trunk to insert more branches and fill bare spots, I've been getting umpy about that tree. All the fuss about finding the perfect huge tree, negotiating with property owners to buy it, getting it onto a huge flatbed truck to bring it into the city in the middle of the night (better for traffic), standing it up -- and then they fill the bald spots with spare branches?? It was like learning that Santa doesn't really wrap the presents, all over again. So I have to work hard to gin up some Christmas spirit.

    I love Budapest. Nobody does excess and extravagance as well as Hungarians. And BTW, sour cream goes with everything and is good for the complexion.

  14. Well I would be exhausted as well, although reading about all of these fabulous places and activities is wonderful! I would love to see the jewels up close and personal! Thank you for sharing all this fabulousness (?) with us!!

    The Arts by Karena
    Books for the Holidays!

  15. Oh Naomi you make me chuckle about being somewhat of a scrooge. I never get stressed at this time of year and the dinners and parties are just like any other during the rest of the year so the festive season doesn't really affect me as such. London is looking pretty as always as does Budapest and that New York cafe is right up my street and your friend's stunning home! xx

  16. Wow, this blogpost is full of the goodnesses today. Cannot believe that Turkish restaurant, though you were posting a photo of a lighting shop!
    Love the Hattats, always knew they would be fabulous in real life. They have that rare quality: generosity of spirit and kindness alongside a deep aesthetic-osity( that sentence got away on me)
    you have had a wonderful trip.
    London looks gorgeous, Britain is such a Christmasey place isn't it?

  17. Thanks for this post especially Budapest. I always thought that there was a reason my rels raved about Budapest but when you are young ( that was a long time ago) and can't envisage what they're going on about you just think old foggies ( more fool me ).
    Love your sense of Christmas spirit, a bit of tinsel. Agree that it can all get OTT, but for a variety of reasons ( no one's in hospital nor are we mourning loss of one of our family treasures & have had 2 council clean ups where we've got rid of our some of our accumulated crap, yeah) am really enjoying the lead up to Christmas. Best Chrissy party was just recently at Madame Tussaud's ( Sydney) to which we've never been. Hubs did the social thing as invite through him and I just had the best time. Didn't think venue would be as good as it was. Den xxx


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