Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Truvia® Voyage of Discovery

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a press event promoting something rather special.  You see, there's a new sweetener in town and it's got all the lovely sweet taste of sugar and yet it's completely chemical-free, 100% natural and contains zero calories. No, really, I know it sounds hard to believe, but it's completely true. It's called Truvia® and it comes from the leaf of the stevia plant, found in the magnificent Iguazu Falls in South America. And now it has launched here in the UK.

So I braved the elements of another typical British summer downpour and headed off to sample its sweet delights on the roof top of Selfridges in the heart of London where the crazy guys at Bompas & Parr had built an amazing lurid green boating lake to row upon merrily (life is but a dream), complete with a miniature fantasy island.  There was a fantastic bar serving equally fantastic cocktails (all made with Truvia® of course) courtesy of the cocktail gurus from the Experimental Cocktail Club. Even Peter Cockroft, the BBC weather man was there, rowing away.

Try as it might, the weather couldn't dampen the high spirits, as guests engaged in enthusiastic banter,  marvelled at the magic of Truvia®, drank interesting cocktails (in exchange for special crystals) and rowed around on the lake,  I caught up with the eccentric Sam Bompas who was clearly pleased as a Singapore Sling Punch with his mad green lake achievement, and quite rightly so. It was a fun evening and I'd like to thank Bompas & Parr and the lovely bods at Kaizo PR for inviting me along. And a special thank you to everyone at Truvia® for producing such an amazing product. I'm sure it will be a delight to teeth and sugar-addicts everywhere. My stevia plant is looking very happy in the garden and I'm looking forward to sprinkling some Truvia® on my porridge tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sands Films Studio, Cinema Club & Rotherhithe Picture Research Library

I've got another gem for you. Situated in a Grade II listed former granary, you will find the Rotherhithe Picture Research Library (part of Sands Films) which houses a vast selection of books, containing visual and pictorial references on all sorts of subjects and themes. It is like stepping back in time to the days of Dickens, where everything is logged by hand, each label and description written in ink and filed neatly in beautiful wooden cabinets. Nothing digital going on here as there isn't a computer or mobile phone in sight. Just an awkward looking photocopier where you can copy your research findings.  So if you're looking for an image of an early 19th century porcelain vase, a pair of Victorian slippers, an old map or perhaps you just want an image of a gnawing mammal, then you'll probably find it here.

But that's not all you'll find under this fantasic timber-framed roof. Oh no. Sands Films also runs a film production company with studio facilities. In 1982, Sands Films produced a remarkable screen adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel 'Little Dorrit'. There is also a costume hire business and workshop, specialising in amazing period costumes which are used for various films and period television dramas.

And last but not least, there is the Sands Films Cinema Club held every Tuesday evening at 9pm. It's an informal and intimate cinema where the audience sit back on a comfy old sofa or a mismatched chair and enjoy a free screening of a usually seldom-seen film, be it black and white, world cinema or art house. Olivier, the head of Sands Films, gives an interesting and enthusiastic introduction to the film beforehand, and encourages a Q&A session afterwards.

I was fortunate enough to see Jean Cocteau's 'La Belle et La Bete' when I took a bunch of culture-hungry colleagues from work one evening. On another visit, I saw a wonderful French film from 1967 called 'Le Vieil Homme et l'Enfant' starring Michel Simon.  It's films like these which make a visit to Sands Films an absolute must. And there's a little cafe too where you can enjoy a cup of tea and some homemade cake, whether you're perusing the library, hiring a costume or getting ready for the cinema.

Sands Films & Rotherhithe Picture Research Library
82 Saint Marychurch Street
SE16 4HZ
Open Mon - Fri 10am - 4pm
Cinema Club: Tuesday 9pm

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors

So you've decided to buy yourself something different, and what you really want is an emu egg or a golden pig snout, or perhaps a two-headed teddy bear. Oh, and what about a stuffed flying dog?  But where, oh where are you going to purchase such nonsensical items? Well I can help you, because there's a very curious shop I know in Hackney, which sells very curious things indeed.  It's Viktor Wynd's 'Little Shop of Horrors' at The Last Tuesday Society, and I think it'll have just what you're looking for...

The shop is part of The Last Tuesday Society (all part of Viktor Wynd's bonkers empire) and exhibits a fascinating collection of natural and supernatural objects, all for sale. It also houses a gallery and museum which is available as an unusual venue to hire for events, book launches, receptions and even small dinner parties, where dinner is served on a candlelit mortuary table! All the amazing artefacts and props are also available to hire for film and TV shoots. And if Hendrick's gin is your tipple (it's definitely one of mine), then perhaps you would like to attend one of the Hendrick's Lectures held at the Last Tuesday Society.

A friend asked me if I could recommend somewhere for him to buy an unusual birthday present for an old chum, so off to the Little Shop of Horrors we ventured in search of something special. And it didn't disappoint. A pair of exquisite, giant moths in a beautifully framed box, fitted the bill perfectly.

Whether you're just going to ogle the wares to satiate your own curiousity, or are looking to buy something fun for that person who has everything, the Little Shop of Horrors is definitely worth a visit. And check out all the other crazy stuff that The Last Tuesday Society has to offer, including drawing classes and regular masked balls. In fact, a friend and I are off to Wyndstock next month, to frolick in the depths of the New Forest, dance in the woods and eat cheese and cakes in the moonlight, so watch this space for news on how that goes.

As a thank you for writing this post, Viktor kindly sent me a box containing my very own golden pig snout, a box of twelve butterflies and the skull of a small animal. I'm one lucky lady! 


11 Mare Street
E8 4RP
By appointment and Thur - Sat 12pm - 7pm

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