On the last Sunday of the month I always look back on what I’ve been up to in the past weeks. What were my personal highlights? What films and series did I watch? What exhibitions did I visit and which countries did I travel to? Find the answers in my Reflections on July.
My only travels this month brought me to the jungle…
Although I truly enjoy travelling, I also appreciate being at home. So I quite enjoyed the fact that I didn’t need to go anywhere in July. Especially since the next months are already packed with various trips. However, I did manage to go the jungle this month. Just a quick visit for dinner.
How? Well, I visited the Rainforest Café in London! Ha ha, confused you there, didn’t I? When my bestie and her family came to London from the Netherlands, I figured this would be a great dining option for the kids.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant in Central London, then this is a good option. However, considering its prime location in ‘Tourist Central’ (close to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square) it’s also rather pricey. And don’t come here if you’re in need of some peace and quiet. Besides the noise of all the excited kids, they also have frequent simulations of tropical thunderstorms which are L O U D. Otherwise it’s a fun experience to eat dinner in a rainforest setting, surrounded by all sorts of tropical animals.
Dark tourism and my Singapore shopping malls survival guide
Regular readers should know by now I also write for my travel blog Done That Been There. After all, I try to mention it as much as I can here. It’s the only spam I allow on this website ha ha! In July I wrote two blog posts on there which are entirely available in both Dutch and English.
1. Dark tourism: a visit to an abandoned Dutch theme park
There’s nothing more creepy, yet simultaneously intriguing, like an abandoned theme park. Sometimes the reason for the derelict site is a natural or even nuclear disaster, serious accident or bankruptcy. The latter happened to the now abandoned theme park Land van Ooit (Land of Ever) in the Netherlands. I grew up just 15 minutes from there and visited it in its heyday. Recently I went back after a long time and stumbled upon the surreal scene you can see in the photos here: Abandoned theme park Land van Ooit: a visit to a Dutch ghost park.
2. Singapore shopping malls survival guide
For this article I had to relive some traumatic experiences we had during our trip in Singapore early this year. When we got lost for hours in several of the humungous Singapore shopping malls. And based on these ‘adventures’ I wrote this survival guide, just so you might make it out safe and sound in case you visit.
I hope you understand this is exaggerated and should be taken with a ‘crumb of salt’ as we say in Dutch. However, I’m not exaggerating about the fact we got stuck in various shopping malls, hours at end. You can read all about our hilarious experiences here: Singapore Shopping Malls Survival Guide.
A day spent at Tate Britain
Hubby and I spent several hours at Tate Britain one day this month and ticked off several exhibitions off our list:
- Van Gogh and Britain (until 11 August 2019)
- Frank Bowling (until 26 August 2019)
- The Bauhaus and Britain (until 17 November 2019)
The first one was the blockbuster show on Dutch painter Van Gogh. However, if you’re thinking to go, you might want to reconsider. First of all, it’s extremely busy as it’s incredibly hyped up in the press.
And secondly, considering Van Gogh didn’t start painting till after he left Britain, there’s not much of his artworks in the exhibition. To me it felt more like Tate took the Van Gogh theme as an excuse to showcase other artworks they had sitting in their archive.
Although I always appreciate it when an exhibition provides a context for an artist’s sources of inspiration, it felt the possible British influences on Van Gogh’s works were a bit too forced in a way. For example, on display were books he ‘might have read’ while he was here to artworks and landscapes he ‘might have seen’. All in all, it just didn’t sit right with me. But I did see some of his sketches and beautiful drawings like the one below, I didn’t know about beforehand.
A far more interesting (and quieter) exhibition currently at Tate Britain is Frank Bowling‘s colourful and thoughtful paintings.
And after all that art…
We went to see our friends of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company at the Royal Opera House in London. Hubby had written the music for one of the pieces that night, the highly entertaining and interactive dance performance Fingers in the Air, by choreographer Juanjo Arques.
A visit to The Tide, London’s newest leisure destination
July also saw the festive opening of London’s newest urban destination of Greenwich Peninsula. The Turning Tides Festival was filled with music, wellness events, talks, installations and more, spread over two weekends.
Hubby was also part of this opening weekend and had made a soundtrack for The Tide, an elevated walkway along the Thames. You can listen to the soundtrack for free on Spotify here: Undercurrent by Scanner.
The Tide walkway has been designed by the same architects of New York’s High Line and along the route you can find meditation spots, Damien Hirst sculptures, trees and captivating views of the Thames of course. If you want to find out more about it, head over to my article The Tide Is High and It’s Coming For You – Welcome to Greenwich Peninsula.
In July I wrote the following blog posts on Dutch Girl in London
- The Dutch Girl Tales #16: Nog even over Vaderdag: In the July edition of my monthly Dutch blog post I wrote about my sweet father as a belated Father’s Day present. It’s a very personal and also moving story which brought tears to many. If you could use a good cry but can’t read Dutch, you might want to drop the URL in Google Translate.
- 5 Books About London I Love: London is a city that is full of surprises and here’s five books that offer up different ways of seeing the metropolis. From the islands that people live on, to moving stories from a different generation.
- My 10 Favourite Dutch Sayings Featuring Food: Following last year’s popular blog post with some hilarious Dutch sayings about animals, I wrote a similar post but this time chose sayings about food.
My first London tour with visually impaired participants
The school holidays are peak season for my London walking tours and I’ve welcomed some lovely groups already this summer. However, the most memorable tour this summer would be the group of visually impaired youngsters who visited from Belgian with their school supervisors. This turned out to be their first trip abroad, so I did feel some pressure to make this a pleasurable and fun experience for them.
I was a bit nervous beforehand, but that was so unnecessary as they were one of the most fun and attentive groups I’ve ever had on my tours. I received a grateful email from the school afterwards and I’m so happy I made a small contribution to their London experience.
What I’ve been up to for the rest of July? Mostly bingewatching my ass off!
Looking at my monthly reviews, I notice I hardly watch films anymore. Instead my lists are mostly filled with various series.
I guess hubby and I have been hit by the bingewatch virus big time!
How come? I guess partly because they make more high-quality series nowadays. But also technology plays a big part in this. I mean, you can download several episodes within a few minutes on your phone and just watch it offline anytime it suits you!
At the moment we’re in the middle of the seventh, and final, season of Orange Is the New Black. So far it’s all rather grim, but I guess it reflects the harsh reality of prison life. I’m hoping for a happy end for most of the main characters, but doubt that will happen.
Below you see a list of the films and series I’ve seen this month. I’ve marked my recommendations with a *.
New in the cinema
|Revisited in the cinema
Films (re)watched at home
So far my personal highlights of this last month.
Tell me, what have you been up to in July?
Best, Zarina xx