30 May 2018
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I was cycling down Lamb's Conduit St. near Holborn, in London, when I spotted a shop called Connock and Lockie at No. 33. They're old established bespoke tailors, and have been in their present premises since 2004. However, not having much need for gents' bespoke tailors, I hadn't noticed them before. It was hard, though, to ignore several splendid figures in their windows, all of them on the theme of Alice in Wonderland.

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They're quite large, and very striking, and although there weren't that many pedestrians, a couple of people did stop and take photos while I was there so I wasn't the only one whose eye was caught.

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A notice by the White Rabbit's feet seems to suggest the models were made by what I thought must be a company, by the name of "Dodo's and Obelisk's" (punctuation as written). But an internet search doesn't find any business of that name.

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I suppose I should have asked Connor & Lockie why they had these Alice models in their window, but I suspect the answer might be just "because we liked them."

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And I could find out about Dodo's and Obelisk's by calling the phone number on their card, I suppose, but I suspect they'd feel I was wasting their time, since I am sure I couldn't afford to get them to make anything for me!

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Let me know if you ever find out about them!
12 May 2018
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I'm just back from a trip to East Anglia. While I was there, I visited Norwich, and came across this little shop in 22 Lower Goat Lane, very near the market square. It is called Norwich Gift Emporium and its window had an Alice in Wonderland theme which caught my eye.

If you manage to visit before 18 May you can enter the contest - voting for your favourite art work.

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Personally I liked the flamingo lampshade! There is a lot to see in this part of Norwich - a very interesting and (I always think) rather underrated city with all kinds of things to see and nice places to eat in its winding medieval lanes.

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01 April 2018
I noticed that Primark's offering four different little purses with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Even though I don't have any use for small purses - I have a hard enough time keeping track of the big purses - I thought they were cute. M y favourite was "Drink me," but the purse was so small I didn't think it would hold enough coins to buy anything worth drinking, let alone something made of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast... BUT.....

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.... never mind, here's a recipe for your own Drink Me potion - minus the turkey, I'm glad to say. It actually looks pretty nice, so if you try making it, let me know!

07 February 2018
A good friend, Yoshi, visited us at the end of January for a few days, and during his stay we went to have an Alice afternoon tea. As I've mentioned in the past, Yoshi has taken us to a couple of charming Alice themed restaurants in Tokyo, but we hadn't found anything exactly similar here. This, though, was very a great find, and very interesting.

The Sanderson Hotel has an unusual decor featuring quirky and unusual furnishings in the public spaces, including an animated reception desk, a delightful twinkly bar serving Alice style cocktails, and a splendid elevator whose walls are clad in a three-dimensional depiction of outer space. Many years ago, the hotel was a giant showroom for the Sanderson furnishing fabric company, and I have dim memories of roaming through fascinating full sized room sets showing off the company's wares. Built in modernist style, it featured a spectacular and very large stained glass window which I was glad to find was still in existence.

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The tea was outside - although the heaters were very efficient and we were sheltered from the wind. We loved sitting amidst the trees and listening to the fountain. We were really impressed by the quality of the food, which included five delectable blends of tea. I would have bought a box of Cheshire Cat to take home, if it had been possible to buy one.

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Here's the menu

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And here is how the tea was presented - with pretty green cucumber sandwiches, all types of cakes, scones and some eye catching mushrooms (complete with a blue chocolate Caterpillar.

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Here's a closer view of some of the cakes. My favourites were the tiny chessboards complete with silvered chocolate pawns, but I also liked the cartoonish pocket watch macaroon which was topped with a specially made Malteser "crown."

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It is not cheap, but it was certainly charming, and would make a lovely birthday treat for an Alice fan. Go here for more details
28 January 2018
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18 December 2017
I was in Belfast recently and as I walked along a dark street of old office buildings, my eye was caught by this.

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I looked a little closer

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It was Alice!

Someone has cleverly created the illusion of Alice by using different sized squares of office paper.

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An idea for making the office more creative - and I'm glad they chose Alice.
27 October 2017
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I've been wondering to myself how the Blue-Ginger Gallery in Malvern got its name. I'd never heard of it until I heard about their Alice exhibition (which began on 21 October and runs till 27 November).

On checking it out, I found that some fun events are coming up in November. On 6 November there's a talk by illustrator John Vernon Lord with an introduction from Mark Richards, ex Chairman of the LCS. (Unfortunately I was unable to publicise a whole talk by Mark on the 21st October, but it's taken me this long to fix technical problems with the website)! JOhn Vernon Lord's talk will include a drink and tea with the Mad Hatter - I'm not sure if that means a drink of tea but I suspect the tea is "extra."

You can needlefelt a Dormouse in a teacup, and make Alice themed silver jewellery in two further workshops, on 11 and 19 September respectively. Full details of how to book are here.

Some interesting artists represented at the exhibition include Tamsin Abbott, Mike Abbott, Graham Arnold, Eleanor Bartleman, Sue Carr, Annie Ovenden, Hannah Willow, Jo Verity, Carol James, Mollie Meager, Jo Dewar, Mariette Voke, Janis Waldron, Gen Belgard, Sue Brown, Karin Celestine, Jemima Jameson, Sue Williams, Sasha Rae, Maggie Hobbs, Gwen Vaughan, Rachel Padley, Heather Sweet-Moon, Ben Willis, Dave Cockroft and John Coombe

I particularly like Tamsin Abbott's work. She's very busy and isn't taking commissions at present, but has done some wonderful stained glass work which can be seen on her website here.

And that's one of her images at the top of this post.
26 September 2017
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I wish I'd had a pound for every article or blog post I've read which aims to explain "what Lewis Carroll really meant." By now I'd have amassed enough to stay in a really very nice hotel in Oxford!

Sadly, I'm rarely the slightest bit convinced by the theories - so it was a thrill to me today to hear from Neil Bant with his thoughts on the famous riddle "Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk?" In his piece, here, he says some interesting things about the Mad Tea Party too, but you have to go to the end to get to the bit about the riddle.

As Mr Bant points out, Carroll did offer a comment on the matter. I have never believed he was giving anyone the answer, but I did think he was offering a clue.

So in case you never knew, this is what Carroll said:

"Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter's Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: 'Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!' This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all."

The devious old thing.

I'll let you read the piece so you can see what you think of Neil's thoughts. I don't agree with every detail of his reasoning, but it instantly hit me that the answer he suggests to the riddle has the characteristic blend of quirkiness and apparent simplicity that so characterises Carroll.

Everyone has taken over a hundred and fifty years to work it out, but it is actually as simple as can be.

AND Carroll gave a clue.

01 September 2017
I think Grayson Perry is one of the most interesting artists working in England right now. He's fascinated by all shades of opinion in this country, its groups and moods, and so his work - most commonly pottery, sculpture or tapestry - usually gets smiles and nods of recognition.

His latest show, at London's Serpentine Gallery, is coming to an end, and so I'm glad I made it there. If you click this link you will see large images of some of the work from the show, and at the very top are what people were calling the Brexit Vases. Actually, their official title is "Matching Pair" Both were decorated with suggestions from people who voted for either Leave or Remain, and the two vases, one for Leave and one for Remain, stand for what Britain means to these two groups.

I quickly spotted something familiar.

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Tenniel's White Rabbit appears in several places on the "Remain" vase. I wonder what this represents? A feeling of being too late? A feeling of wonderment or craziness? Or simply that "Alice" is one of the most quintessentially English books? If so, I wonder why nothing from "Alice" appeared on the Leave vase.
Whatever the reason for that, Perry says he finds it reassuring that the vases are actually so similar, despite their differences. And it seems that the country is apparently united on liking Marmite, at least!

The vases appeared on "Grayton Perry : Divided Britain" on Channel 4 last spring. If you missed that, you can read more about them here

21 August 2017
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I've been away for a while but back now! A friend told me about this show at the Edinburgh Festival in which Alice meets philosophers. High school students they came all the way from California to perform it. Apparently it was great, and I love the art work. I'll look out for another performance.

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