I have been an Audible member for a few good years, but recently I also signed up to Audiobooks.com. They have the same one free credit per month subscription, but they also offer VIP credits upon signing up, which you can use for books from a monthly selection. While exploring the app, I stumbled upon their Audio Magazines where I got to browse through hundreds of ‘articles’.
I listened to some brilliant ‘long reads’ from The Guardian, which are also available directly here. I recommend the one about Debrett’s – How to be entitled: can Debrett’s help outsiders join Britain’s elite? The history of the company, now self-described as a coaching company, publisher and authority on etiquette and behaviour, is insightful and betrays some peculiarities of the British society and culture. Still, as an expat, I found it useful, if slightly prejudiced and disappointing.
Another captivating listen was How to move a masterpiece: the secret business of shipping priceless artworks. I knew a little bit about what goes into transporting works of art from various documentaries or series like Secrets of the Museum, and if you’re also interested in things like this, I think you’ll enjoy it too!
Artist Genieve Figgis
Speaking of transporting precious art, Genieve Figgis’ distinctive humorous paintings seem to have been mishandled, but that’s actually their genius. It’s impossible not to want to take a closer look. Her chic gruesome characters seem to have a literal meltdown, which makes the contrast with her formal settings, poses and outfits (of even the Royal Family) that much more enticing.
Source – Guess the characters?
Find her on Instagram for more prime examples of the aesthetic of ugliness.
Listening to the long read about Debrett’s, I thought I should use it to my advantage, rather than get annoyed at some of the things mentioned. Since moving to a different country and into a different culture, I haven’t invested enough time and resources into fine-tunings like etiquette training and accent softening, which can actually make or break a first impression. I’ve been thinking about working on my accent for a while, and now I decided to do a bit of research.
It turns out that what I want is not quite Received Pronunciation, RP for short – what is usually and slightly misleadingly referred to the Queen’s English, posh English, BBC English.. you get the point. I believe that what I need is to be rid of some American English constructions, words and pronunciations that I am not even aware of using, to make sure I am always understood and presenting a coherent image, while also slightly softening my accent if needed for the above purposes.
There are, of course, tonnes of videos and free resources available online, but after briefly checking a few links, I think what I would really benefit from is working with a speech therapist or language trainer to tackle my individual challenges. Needless to say, more research is needed on my part, but I’m quite excited at the prospect of improving this skill I use every day.
Downton Abbey 2
Source – Downton Abbey on Instagram
What better time to recommend and passionately encourage you to watch one of my favourite series of all time, than when they announce a second movie sequel? Downton Abbey will be back starring the full cast this Christmas! I am honestly so excited about this news, one can never have enough of The Crawleys, but mainly of Lady Grantham (the iconic Maggie Smith). She is such a force of nature with her wit and no-nonsense attitude. An inexhaustible source of memorable one-liners, snappy comments and profound quotes in equal measure.
I think this gives the perfect opportunity for a (re)watch of the full series and first movie. Plenty of time until December. Don’t you agree?
I am also hoping this year I will have the chance to visit the beautiful Highclere Castle, where the exterior scenes in Downton Abbey are shot. It’s been on my list for far too long!
Cross Stitch Street Art
Look at this! Cross stitch street art adorning walls of aged and historical buildings on the streets of Spain. It looks so exquisite and authentic! I don’t know how difficult this is to make, it seems to me that once you figure out the technique, it should be quite easy, but the magic comes from the exquisite floral and fruity patterns. I would love to learn how to do it and create some florals for my parent’s house.
This is the work of artist and set designer Raquel Rodrigo, of Arquicostura Studio, and you can read more about her project and see many more delicious images here and here. Find inspiration and even some patterns on this dedicated Pinterest board.
I haven’t thought of doing this in many years, but I can remember my teenage self really wanting to change the colour of a favourite item of clothing, particularly as I transitioned from my pink & colourful phase to my mostly all-black one.
Recently I spotted the Haute Couture textile dyes recommended by Ines de la Fresanage in her weekly letter and I immediately thought I would love to freshen up the colour of some all-black items, as well as experiment with a few other colours for items I’m not really ‘feeling’ anymore. This particular brand is hard to find in the UK, as much as I love the retro packaging, but it seems Dylon all-in-one fabric dye could be a good replacement.
I can’t believe it’s this easy nowadays… I seem to remember that 15 years ago the option I had found involved boiling and the inevitable destruction of one of my mom’s big pots.
A Secret, Symbolic History of Pomegranates
I love a quirky article about a ‘difficult fruit’, that deals with mythology alongside modern-day science-based uses and benefits, word etymology and art history – all in a little over 1,500 words. This is only part of the complex story of pomegranates. To give you a taste of an exquisite read, the author compares the act of cracking a pomegranate open to lifting the lid on a jewellery box. Oh my!
If you are left wanting to explore these various topics further, browse here more than two thousand artworks featuring pomegranates, read here about the scientific evidence (or lack thereof) behind some of the benefits claimed for this fruit, begin learning about its complex symbolism in art here or try your hand at a recipe including pomegranates.
And now of course I am curious – what makes a fruit ‘difficult’? I suppose Kate Lebo’s book thus entitled should reveal the answer… Are you as intrigued as I am?
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.