バークレーホテル (Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley)：とてもイギリスっぽいことが続きます。そう、アフタヌーンティ！ロンドンナイトリッジのシックな場所に位置して、とてもハイドパークに近い、このバークレーホテルは伝統的なスコーンや濃厚なクリームだけじゃなくて、お洒落なプレタポルティなの。季節ごとにマッチしたミウミウやステラ・マッカートニーや私の好きなボッテガ・ヴェネタといったコレクションがビスケットの形で登場します。
原作: Milla’s London: Fashionista’s Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
オペラレストラン (l‘Opèra restaurant): 私がパリを離れる前に、オペラにはもう一度絶対に行かなければ行けないって決めていたのだけれど、今回はバレーを見に行くのではなくて、新しく改装したレストランでのランチをしました。お料理は美しく披露され、おいしかったのですが、なんと言ってもその周りが素晴らしかった。たぶんここでお料理を食べることは二度とないかもしれないけれど、カクテルを楽しむには素敵な場所です。
原作: Milla’s Paris: Lunch at l’Opéra restaurant
源吉兆庵 (Minamoto Kitchaon)：ここは本当に天国のよう！日本の和菓子の天国がシックなメイフェア地区で。一番いいのは、餅や津弥を飛行機に乗ることなく楽しめることです。日本人による経営で、買い物するたびにおいしい緑茶が出されます。これは日本を離れても日本を味わえるところなのです。
原作: Milla’s London: Minamoto Kitchoan
I discovered Spice Ways tea company when I went to the Berkeley Hotel for afternoon tea, where I tried their ‘Gorgeous Ginger’ fruit infusion. I didn’t think I’d like it much as I’m somewhat of a tea purist, but completely hooked, I was happy to receive ‘Posh Pomelo’ a mix of pomelo, melon, pineapple, papaya and ‘Amazing Apple’ comprising of tasty apples, cranberries, papaya, pineapple, cinnamon and other spices. The latter smells like Christmas – full of comfort and happiness. The best part, you can eat the little pieces of fruit. Tea and fruit? Yes please!
I’m trying to think more about the effects of my consumption on others and the environment, so the idea of buying from a local British brand appeals to me. I love that Spice Ways is owned by two friends who source all the ingredients themselves. There’s something pure about that, and I’m happy to support what they do.
Religion is always a touchy subject and I’m slightly hesitant to bring it up on the blog. Despite my hesitation, I simply have to share the ‘Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam‘ exhibition with you. Firstly though, I must mention that this exhibition is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, who has been heavily criticised by international governments for the huge disparity between the quality of life of the nation and the ruling class, the lack of women’s rights and the severity at which ‘regular’ Saudis are treated should they dare speak up. There has been a lot of press about this and whilst I agree that Saudi Arabia needs to address these issues seriously, I feel we must separate the purpose of this exhibition from the politics.
Somehow, that isn’t so difficult. The exhibition seamlessly transcends the usual politics and propaganda one tends to associate with any form of organised religion and we get a first class education into what Hajj means to Muslims. The curator’s passion really comes through and we get a deep and unapologetic view into the fifth pillar of Islam. I won’t pretend to know much about the history of this age-old religion but what struck me most was the emotion. People connecting with the heart of their beliefs; the intimacy and symbolism of the pilgrimage is unparalleled, and the enthusiasm with which the British Museum presents this makes it arguably the best exhibition they’ve put on. So much so that I did the tour twice, spending almost 3 hours there. I’ve never seen anything like it. As I watched the hypnotic videos of the Hajjis walking around the Ka’bah, a deep sense of peace came over me. That overwhelming belief and connection not only to your faith but to fellow worshippers is awe-inspiring.
As a non-Muslim, I am not permitted to enter Mecca and given the political climate, I think my chances of going to the Middle East, in the way I would like, are sadly pretty slim. I left touched by the spirituality and with an even stronger view that we must take the politics and agenda out of religion and continue to educate ourselves. Religion should not, in my opinion, be about dictating the lives of others but forming and maintaining a spiritual connection with whoever/whatever we believe in.
I searched high and low to find a neutral video about Hajj and voilà, the Financial Times offers a brief but insightful breakdown. The exhibition also introduced me to the work of two amazing artists: Ahmed Mater, whose piece (featured above) titled ‘Magnetism’ is as beautiful as it is unique, and Idris Khan, the artist behind ‘You and Only You’. The exhibition continues until 15th April so if you have a chance to see it, do!
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
+44 (0) 20 7323 8299
Living abroad is a great thing, and I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything. On the downside, it can be hard to maintain friendships when you’ve been away for long periods of time, particularly with different time zones and so on, as I discovered during my time in the US and Japan. Moving home to London is like starting over, and I welcome that challenge.
On Saturday, I went to coffee meet-up near to South Bank where I met such an interesting array of people from India, Poland, the US, Romania and good ole East London. It’s so nice to swap stories and get a peek into everybody else’s world. Talking to people who’ve travelled the world only to come and call London home is wonderful. For all the hardships of living in a major city, everybody agreed that here in London, the diversity is the heart of city: everybody has a chance. I love this place!
Afterwards, I strolled along the river en route to meet a friend for lunch – a truly glorious day!
How was your weekend?