Grand Hotel Europa, by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. I love books about hotels and people residing in hotels long-term fascinate me because this habit seems to belong to the privileged in the distant past. But Grand Hotel Europa, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s novel, is such a mélange of topics I am interested in, that it kept surprising me at every turn.
Social, historical and political commentary on tourism and mass tourism, art and art history, the history and future of Europe, are sprinkled with fashion and aesthetic observations, hotel life shenanigans, mystery and even romance.
It was a delight listening to this book and it has given me a lot of food for thought. Some chapters read like nonfiction because they are so insightful, sharing even data and research findings on some of the topics above.
I was left with many ideas, many astute observations, perhaps the most striking being that ‘Europe is the Museum of the World’. I have been thinking about this for weeks now…
Howard’s End (1992)
Watching The Europeans a few weeks ago, I got a taste for ‘re-visiting’ books I’ve enjoyed in the past through their film adaptations. Thus, when I spotted Howard’s End (1992) on Netflix at the weekend I was only too delighted!
This film adaptation stars an amazing cast, with Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Thompson as the Schlegel sisters and Anthony Hopkins as Mr Wilcox, among others. If you want two hours and twenty minutes of slow and (mostly) feel-good beautiful cinematography and especially if you have enjoyed the book, I highly recommend this film for a long dark afternoon or evening over the next few months.
Pollock’s Toy Theaters and Museum
Last week, on a quick trip into Soho for a meeting, in 20 minutes I had to spare I discovered at least three different treasures. The most whimsical and unforgettable, and one I am planning to return to soon, was Pollock’s Toy Museum. I saw this quirky colorful corner of a building and I went to peer inside though the windows to discover miniature paper toy theaters, something I didn’t even realized existed. It felt almost magical.
I fell in love with their Alice in Wonderland one and I will get it on my next visit. This time I decided for their much smaller matchbox circus theater, which was a fun little project I enjoyed with my son that afternoon. I also got him some Guatemalan worry dolls for just £1 and I can’t believe it’s all I had to pay to learn about their magical story and bring four home with me for my son.
Source: Petite Theatre in a Box
I only had the chance to very quickly browse through the shop, but there were so many different things to discover that I felt quite overwhelmed. I also didn’t have time to actually visit the museums upstairs, so again, I am very much looking forward to return with my son too.
People Matching Artworks
I discovered this photography series on the Avant.Arte Insta account and I quickly followed the author, Stefan Draschan to explore more of his work. You can also read more about him and the project here. If you love art and visiting museums, his project photographing people while watching artworks and serendipitously or intentionally ‘matching’ these can be very satisfying to follow. I, for one, am looking forward to more of his posts!
Source: Dressed to Match
It also reminded me of another Insta account I follow, Dressed to Match, of Art Gallery Director Michelle Satterlee, dressing to match various art works, from Monet to Mondrian. She also reposts others doing the same inspired by her and cool examples of dressing to match, like pictorials, commercials and more.
Source: Dressed to Match
I need to try this at least once, look at these cool people nailing it!
Le Nez du Café
A few weeks ago, I had the chance of taking a one-to-one coffee training at work with one of my very talented colleagues. On top of learning a lot about the coffee world, from history to production and preparation, the training was also very sensorial, with multiple tasting sessions and even an olfactory exercise to test the astuteness of my nose.
This is how I discovered Le Nez du Café Revelations. This kit of 36 different aromas handmade in France, permits you not only to perfect your sense of smell but also to understand the process of creating the coffee that produces the aromas.
Now, I am far from being a coffee connoisseur and while the kit is essentially designed for this purpose, I found playing with it an exquisite experience. I have now gotten into the habit of opening at random some of the little glass bottles inside to try to guess what they are whenever I have the chance.
Most Beautiful Words in the English Language
I am sure that my interest and love for words is no surprise by now, so it’s clear that a survey to discover the most beautiful words in the English language will definitely get my attention. Mind you, this is ‘old news’ from almost 20 years ago (2004), but for a language that started over 1600 years ago I’d say it’s pretty recent.
I expected more unique or melodious words, but the majority of those which made it into the Top 70 are actually basic, but sentimental or meaningful words, like mother, smile or freedom. I did manage to discover a new to me and rare word – loquacious, which means tending to talk a great deal; talkative – and I am glad to have a new and clever word to describe my otherwise not-so-lovable tendencies. Also, courtesy of someone commenting on the BBC article about the survey, I learned that there is a word to describe long words or people who use long words, and that is sesquipedalian. Sounds very sophisticated, no?
My contribution to the list at first thought would be shenanigans, concoction, marvellous and, of course… exquisite! What words would you add?
RIP Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II
I want to close this week’s letter with my favourite picture of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. I’d like to think she actually enjoyed some time in this manner, perhaps during the holidays she spent at her beloved Balmoral.
While her passing cannot be considered unexpected, it has given millions, myself included, the occasion to have her in our thoughts and reflect on her historical life this past week. There aren’t many people still alive who have known a world without her as the Queen of the United Kingdom, and that fact alone is saying a great deal.
It is the end of an era, I believe, and she will be greatly missed.
RIP Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II
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