October Costume Spotting

Been busy this month so here’s a quick roundup of the one activity that unites all my October weekend experiences – costume spotting. From 1066 to the modern day to “out of this world”, I’ve spotted it all.

Armour and weaponry at the Battle of HastingsNorman soldier

I attended the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings re-enactment at Battle Abbey on Oct 16. There a Norman knight re-enactor told us the story of how the horse of William Duke of Normandy, a black Friesian gifted by the King of Spain, had its head lopped off by a Saxon warrior with a battle-axe. This was why the Normans briefly feared that their Duke was dead. What I appreciated most was the commentary delivered throughout the day, from the falconry performances to the battle re-enactment itself. One update to my primary-school-knowledge of the Battle of Hastings was that the long pointy shields, called kite shields, were used by both sides.

Brighton’s Snowdogs by the Sea

Snowdogs by the Sea is a street art exhibition from Sept 24 to Nov 27 which features 45 Snowdogs, “dressed up” by various artists, schools and other institutions. They are accompanied by 20 Snowdog puppies and will be sold at auction to raise money for St. Martlet’s Hospice, which has a store on Western Road minutes from my workplace! I saw my first Snowdog at Churchill Square, had to photograph one as part of a work-conference-challenge, and found one with my name at the train station on Oct 21. Find them all on the Snowdogs by the Sea Trail before the exhibition closes!

Cambridge gownsCambridge Tudor Bonnet

I found to my dismay that Cambridge academic dress is much more interesting than Oxford’s when I was given a walking tour of the city by my friend on Oct 22, a day when a graduation ceremony was taking place and gowned students thronged the streets. My friend explained that undergraduates wear gowns of different styles depending on their college. BA gowns have slits through which ladies’ can show off the outfits that they wear to formal dinners. PhD and MA graduates can wear festal gowns with strips of scarlet cloth on ‘Scarlet Days’. PhD graduates also wear a Tudor bonnet at Cambridge instead of a mortarboard (see inset). So much choice and variation, and to think that the only gown I own is a commoner’s one.

MCM Comicon at the ExCel in LondonWarhammer

The Comicon I went to with my friend on Oct 30 exceeded both our expectations. Having failed to look up where we were supposed to get off the DLR, I asked a family with a child dressed as Iron Man, but we found that there would have been no need – by the time we got off most people taking the DLR were in fantastical costume, to the extent that we couldn’t even tell if the policeman was a real one or not. I spent the day staring in awe at characters from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer (I almost got trampled by one giant mutant!), Overwatch, Team Fortress, Legend of Zelda, Suicide Squad, Deadpool, other Marvel Superheroes, DC Comic Superheroes, Disney Princesses, Assassin’s Creed, Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Doctor Who…but strangely not Game of Thrones. People in costume let you take photos with them too – who needs Disneyland when you can have photos taken with your favourite characters for free (with a £15 general entry ticket) here?


My Brazilian Culture Trip

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics may be over but the Paralympics are about to start (7–18 September), and my exploration of Brazil continues. It struck me towards the end of the Olympics that the only Brazilian food I ever had tried was bolitas, which is actually called pão de queijo, so having begun my further tasting of Brazil with some awful-tasting spicy chilli samba and Brazilian salsa style Pringles – the former was boring and the latter was too salty, though I was too hyped up to admit to their faults before – here are some better ways to get into the Rio spirit.

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It’s been a month since I left The Pigeonhole, a digital publishing start-up, so for Throwback Thursday I’m going to recount my unexpected moments there:

  • Stroking a taxidermied pigeon.
  • Setting a lunch trend.
  • Encountering questionable websites in my media list research.
  • Trying to concentrate with a dog’s head heating up my lap.
  • Arguing over Brexit with everyone but the dog.
  • Receiving a photo of a newborn baby in an email.
  • Eating “the best falafel in London”.

Best in class

Flat Iron webpage

The Flat Iron made its way onto my list of “places to eat” easily. The restaurant was recommended to me by my Dad – who over the course of his brief stay now knows better places to eat in London than me – via a Chinese website promoting the best value London eats, and in reviews closer to home it ranks among the top places to eat for steak-lovers in London. A fine reputation among both local and foreign diners was all it took, plus a special occasion to justify yet another dining-out night. Continue reading


Hold your nose

Laos Café

On Chinese New Year day, my Dad and I tried the new pop-up Laos Café by Saiphin, who runs Rosa’s Thai Café in Soho, London. It runs until the end of February, and is located 3 minutes’ walk away from London Victoria station on:

25 Gillingham Street London SW1V 1HN
Mon-Sat 12:00-22:30
Sun        14:00-22:00

I myself would not recommend it, but I think I am the odd one out, as everybody else (see photo) seemed to be enjoying themselves, and this other review says that the food is authentic. Maybe I’m just not suited to Laotian cuisine. Continue reading