Once a month I always look back on what I’ve been up to in the past weeks. Here I share what I have been up to in my personal life. What exhibitions did I visit? And what are my recommendations for films and series? You can find the answers to all these questions in my Reflections on December!
I usually write these monthly reviews on the last Sunday of the month, but to be honest I don’t think I’ll have that many new exciting things to share with you, except perhaps what Christmas snacks and meals I’ve eaten ha ha! Next week Sunday I’ll be reflecting on the whole of 2019 instead so do make sure to come back to find out where life has taken me in these last 12 months!
Making homework, quite literally
They say you’re never too old to learn. Well, at the moment I’m studying for my Life in the UK test whenever I can in my free time. (Which is quite limited unfortunately.) Although I have my Settled Status which should allow me to remain in the UK after Brexit, I would feel more secure after I’ve obtained British citizenship.
This costly process (both timewise and money) involves many steps starting with an interview to test your ability to speak and understand English. (At least that will be a test I think I will pass with flying colours!) And you can’t start the application process after having passed the Life in the UK test. 24 multiple choice questions about British history and customs. I’m lucky I studied English and also give tours in London so my knowledge of British history is quite solid. However, some of the questions are rather mind-boggling. I did a few mock tests with British friends and I knew even more about their birth country than they did!
Besides my own studies I’ve also been busy writing new content for English coursebooks for a leading Dutch publishing house. The first of three books just came in from the printer’s and I hope to receive my copy in the next weeks. Now work has started on the second book. Ironically, writing these schoolbooks has been a highly educational process for me as well, gaining so many more skills too.
I was part of a wedding proposal!
London must be an extremely popular city trip destination for Dutch and Belgian tourists because I had so many requests for my Dutch-language London walking tours this month! These included my first ever Paddington Bear themed tours!
But the most special tour I’ve ever given, must be the one I gave yesterday. It was a private tour for a Dutch couple along some secret London sites. However, the biggest secret of all was that the man planned on proposing to his girlfriend at the end and made me part of that special event by bringing them to his dream location! He had found just the perfect spot for this from my blog post Self-guided Historical Walk along ‘Secret’ London Landmarks.
It’s always nice to receive positive feedback on a blog post, but never would I have expected this kind of response! Even I had butterflies beforehand as I thought it was both romantic and so exciting. Obviously, I felt truly honoured to have been asked to be part of this very special moment.
In December I wrote the following blog posts on Dutch Girl in London
- The Dutch Girl Tales #19: Vandaag heb ik even geen zin: In this month’s Dutch-language blog post I wrote about how exhausting and stressful it is being a perfectionist and the unnecessary pressure I put on myself. But judging from the comments and messages I received afterwards, I’m definitely not unique in this.
Things to do in London with kids Christmas 2019: Looking for things to do in London with kids for Christmas 2019? In this blog post I’m sharing five fun Christmas family activities, from ice skating to gingerbread house making workshop and my favourite Christmas Market in London!
When the Magic of Christmas Is Gone: This is one of my most personal blog posts to date and I was unsure if I should publish it. But I’m so glad I did as many readers (sadly) recognised their own feelings towards Christmas in this. Having lost several family members to cancer, Christmas isn’t that obvious ‘merry’ time for me. In this blog post I’m talking about coping with grief at Christmas.
On the December watchlist: my film a recommendations and series
Our annual cinema passes expired and because of a lack of good cinema releases, we haven’t renewed them yet. However, with the arrival of the last instalment in the original Star Wars saga, I think it’s about time to return to the cinema again.
In these last months, we mostly watched series. It’s incredible to see how much the quality and series have changed since I was young. Back then there was a great distinction between TV and film actors and budgets, but nowadays there’s hardly a series anymore that doesn’t feature a great host of A-list Hollywood stars.
Wondering about those Paddington films in the list? That was my homework for my special Paddington Bear in London tours this weekend! (They were good fun though.)
Films (re)watched at home
Art tips in London and beyond
- Andrei Tarkovsky @ Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam (closed 6 December 2019)
Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam really is one of my favourite museum. I’ve seen various oeuvre exhibitions there now and was lucky to catch the retrospective on Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky just a few days before it closed.
- Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness @ Tate Britain (until 5 January 2020, £13)
This exhibition is actually one huge installation featuring a life-size replica of an bridge on the M53 in one of the upstairs rooms at Tate Britain. The room is dark and features TV screens that feature a collection of older and new video works by Leckey. In principle the video topics sound very fascinating, i.e. the investigation between popular culture and technology, but it just didn’t work for me.
- Nam June Paik @ Tate Modern (until 9 February 2020, £13)
This blockbuster show is a great tip for both young and old visitors. Nam June Paik is considered an important figure when it comes to creation art based on technology. He has created so many iconic works, including these robot Uncle and Aunt. Apparently similar figures used to be on display in a café in Paik’s hometown of New York. It was curious to see an interactive light installation by Paik which I also saw in the Olafur Eliasson exhibition at Tate Modern in October (and which is used as the main image for the exhibition by Tate). I’m sure Paik came up with the idea way before Eliasson though.
One of Hubby’s best friend, Stephen Vitiello, worked for Paik and this current exhibition at Tate features works from Paik’s archive that Stephen discovered. Stephen has so many great stories on Paik and I’d love for him to write down all these amazing anecdotes and publish a book!
- Curious Things: A Glimpse into the International Mail Art Archive of Michael Leigh and Hazel Jones @ Manchester Metropolitan University (until 3 September 2020, FREE)
After you’ve seen this show you will want to run home and create your own mail art!
- Vital Fragments: Nigel Henderson and the Art of Collage @ Tate Britain (until 5 April 2020, FREE)
And after seeing this small exhibition, you’ll be inspired to make collages too! It definitely inspired hubby and myself and we’re tempted to set up our crafts table this Christmas and make some collages. That is, if we can be bothered to move from the sofa, TV and snacks…
- Steve McQueen: Year 3 @ Tate Britain (until 3 May 2020, FREE)
This project by filmmaker Steve McQueen must be one of his most adorable works. Spread out across the huge corridor upstairs at Tate Britain you can see school photos of hundreds of London year 3 school kids. I bet these kids and their parents must be super proud!
That’s it for my personal Reflections on the last month.
Tell me, what have you been up to in December?
Wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas!
Best, Zarina xx