The Ups and Downs of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Every four years I look forward to the FIFA World Cup and every time it finally comes around, I am reminded that the consolation of having multiple loyalties from living in several countries does not take away the pain of watching your favourite teams lose. This year’s results have been no different. Nevermind the losing, simply watching England play can be — and often is — a painful experience. Japan also gave some pretty embarrassing performances (no offense to Greece, but seriously?) and both countries were knocked out in the early stages.

I’m not one for wishing any team to do poorly but there’s a first time for everything and Uruguay have Luis Suárez to blame. The 4 month ban is a bit soft, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. I’m still completely unimpressed with Uruguay and am happy that they did not go through! Even a child knows that biting is not permitted on the playground, let alone an adult at work! If I bit someone at work even once I’d probably be sacked (not to mention my sanity would be questioned).

The US may have lost the match against Belgium but they put up a good fight, or rather Tim Howard did and was no doubt the man of the hour. In case you missed it, he’s the goalie for the US national team that finished with 16 saves. Simply amazing.

Photo: dpa

Photo: dpa

So that left me to find new teams to support and I wished so much more for the host country, Brazil, but last night’s match still feels like a dream (or nightmare). I remember checking the Google several times, thinking there must be a glitch with the score, but then I turned on the game and confirmed that the impossible was in fact true. To be fair, Germany were in fine form, or perhaps Brazil were just horrible. Oddly, we all seem to be more focused on their defeat and not Germany’s victory. Either way, it’s never easy to watch grown men cry, let alone sweet little children who looked just devastated as Germany scored goal after goal in the first 30 minutes of the match.

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

And then of course there is Oranje, who I am quietly supporting as it seems every time I openly support a team, they lose, with the exception of the match against Costa Rica. Although they give me a heart attack every time, I love penalty shootouts! Hup Hollande en Oranje Boven!

Photo: OnsOranje

Photo: OnsOranje

Update: I don’t understand why Holland didn’t put Tim Krul in again. Penalty shootouts are exciting but now that I think about it, they’re not the most fair way to end a match. I’m torn about who to support for the final. Can’t really be bothered with all the heartache anymore and I’m not particularly attached to Germany or Argentina. Hmm… who are you supporting?

This Is Brighton

In the spirit of sharing beautiful music and film, I couldn’t resist passing this on to you after discovering it on The Big Forest’s blog (you should also check out their shop on Etsy).

Featuring music from a song dear to my heart, “To Build A Home” (by The Cinematic Orchestra with vocals from Patrick Watson), along with images of one of my favourite places in the UK, I found myself pondering life and feeling incredibly grateful for all of the experiences I have had thus far. Without further ado, here is a beautiful time lapse film of Brighton captured by an incredibly talented 14 year old filmmaker, Caleb Yule.

 

Is It A Mistake to Rename Big Ben?

I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘if it’s not broke(n), don’t fix it’.  Along the same lines, I’m not sure renaming the Clock Tower (colloquially known as Big Ben to the world) to Elizabeth Tower is the best thing to do, even if the change mirrors an honour bestowed on queen Victoria — the only other British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee back in 1897 — who gives her name to The Victoria Tower at the west end of parliament.

It certainly is a lovely sentiment, but because Big Ben is a national icon perhaps renaming any one of the beautiful gardens or parks in London as Elizabeth Gardens or Queen Elizabeth Gardens would be better suited to the occasion.  A park would serve as a living memorial to the Queen.  Not to mention, although having gone through the parliamentary name change process, the tower will forever be known as Big Ben to all.

World’s Most Expensive Afternoon Tea?

Priced at £550 per couple, the Cliveden ’Platinum Afternoon Tea Tasting Menu’ is touted as the world’s most expensive afternoon tea. It includes prized ingredients such as Da Hong Pao tea, Beluga Caviar (£4,000 per kilogram), white truffles (£2,500 per kilogram) and chocolate cake decorated with gold leaf, paired with Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. You know, the South East Asian delicacy, which costs £50 per cup and is made from beans of coffee berries which have been digested (basically shat out) by civets, washed, and then roasted. But if that’s not fancy enough for you, the tea is also accompanied by two glasses of Dom Pérignon Rosé Champagne. Click here for the full menu.

Lavish indeed, but somehow I’m not tempted.  It might be the world’s most expensive tea for two, but is it also the world’s tastiest?  I can’t stand the flavour or smell of coffee so I doubt the cuppa Kopi Luwak would be any better.  I would have probably been chuffed to go if you’d asked me a few years ago.  Yet somehow I think I’ve outgrown shamefully extravagant dining.  Over the years I have found the more expensive the meal, the less impressed (and more disappointed) I’ve been.  I’d much rather have their traditional afternoon tea (without the bubbly, please) and spend the rest of the money having tea at various other fine establishments.  But if you’ve been tempted, call 01628 668 561 or email dining.reservations@clivedenhouse.co.uk to book what I hope will be an unforgettable experience for you!

What To Wear To Royal Ascot

If you thought the dress code for cricket matches was over the top, wait until you see how Royal Ascot is taking a bit of the fun out of the world’s most formal sporting event. The new dress code was first announced in January and this week organisers sent out reminders with badges and tickets for this year’s races at the course in Berkshire, southern England.

As a reminder, strapless, halter or spaghetti-strap dresses are banned, as are obvious midriffs. Straps must be wider than an inch; dresses and skirts must be at least knee-length. Hats are a must in the Royal Enclosure and Grandstand. Fascinators are forbidden, as is any headpiece with a base of less than 4in (10cm). Trousers must be full-length. Hold on! Fascinators forbidden? That’s rubbish (actually, what I really wanted to say was f*** that)! Let me just say that fascinators should definitely NOT be banned. I much prefer them to hats for formal occasions. They’re just so much fun!

According to the Metro, everyone remains unanimous on one thing. That is, to steer clear of excess:

‘Less is more’…‘Less skin, less jewellery, less booze, fewer layers, simple trims – but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Keep it simple but you can still have great impact. Just look at the Queen’.

Perhaps we should agree to leave the Queen out of this. Call me a church girl or whatever you want, but I’m definitely with the idea that ‘less is more’. Quite frankly it’s a bit embarrassing that some women need to be reminded that dressing up doesn’t mean tarting up. Of course if you don’t like all these rules you could always opt for the Silver Ring, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

Wardrobe infringement: These ladies would be asked to wear a pashmina over their shoulders due to Royal Ascot’s strict dress code this year.

I believe the base of this headpiece is more than 4 inches (10 cm), so it should pass the test.

This is my absolute favourite! Simple, yet elegant and not the slightest bit boring. Doesn’t she look lovely?

What Not To Wear To A Cricket Match

The MCC dress code card

Ever wonder what to wear to a cricket match? Well wonder no more! As seen in the Telegraph, the Marylebone Cricket Club has issued picture cards for the first time in its 225-year history to help its members and other cricket goers avoid any cricket fashion faux pas. Apparently the idea came from the Melbourne Cricket Club in Australia (their sister organisation) in an effort to help simplify the rules.

“Whilst in the Pavilion, gentlemen shall wear ties and tailored coats and acceptable trousers with appropriate shoes. Zip up golf-style jackets are not permitted. Gentlemen will not be admitted to the Pavilion, including the Pavilion concourse, unless, on entrance, their dress conforms to this Regulation. However, coats and ties may be removed on the Pavilion Concourse, and outside balconies, but must be replaced for entry to the Pavilion building.

Ladies should wear dresses; or skirts or trousers worn with blouses, and appropriate shoes. Dresses and blouses may be sleeveless.

Religious, traditional or national dress, or service uniform, is permitted. However, the following items of clothing are prohibited; jeans and their close relations; leggings; jodhpur-style trousers; t-shirts; track suits; training shoes; plimsolls; flip flop shoes; denim clothing and overalls”.

For more information on what to expect at Lord’s (or rather, what Lord’s expects from you) visit their website. I’m gutted that I won’t be able to sport my favourite England track suit when I finally get around to going to a match. I’ve always thought the game itself to be rather boring, but I’d definitely like to go with N one day, if not just to dig into my very own Lord’s picnic hamper and gawk at all the men dressed in bright yellow and red striped jackets and ties, which to me screams fashion fail, full stop.

Here’s what I mean:

This actually is quite a nice photo.

He’s my favourite!

This is how I imagine myself at a cricket match–asleep, of course!

Although technically not ‘appropriately’ dressed for Lord’s, Alesha Dixon looks lovely here.

Damp, Drizzle, Drought

Not to put a damper on the start of the week, but I fear we may soon be in for another panic situation as more and more ‘we are in drought’ posters pop up around London. Drought has been declared in seventeen counties in England’s southeast and central regions.  Londoners are now banned from using hosepipes or maintaining a swimming pool, paddling pool or ornamental fountain.  But if we’re clever enough (which I’m confident that we are), we won’t let the media turn the current water situation into another panic frenzy.

I’m not sure that groundwater in some places being ‘close to the lowest levels ever recorded’ really classifies as being in drought. Saving water should come as second nature, not as temporary action taken when threatened with a possible water shortage. Thames Water, the company responsible for this poster campaign, could do with a better (more permanent) water saving campaign instead of using scare tactics. After all, isn’t it a bit late to only start saving water once a real drought is in sight? They ask that everyone ‘please start now’ when we all should’ve been conserving water since yesterday.