Natural and Raw

On Saturday I felt like going back to basics – back to the natural and raw. My fellow blogger Lidiya and I decided to visit the Natural History Museum. I’ve been there more times than I can count but I don’t think I could ever get too much of it.

For starters, the museum is housed within what I would probably call my favourite building in London.
Secondly, we definitely picked the right time to go. The decor is strikingly appropriate for getting you into the Halloween mood.
We felt like we didn’t know enough about the hidden gems of our planet, so we had to delve into the core of the issue.

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After we educated ourselves about volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, we made our way to the next floor where we ooh-ed and aah-ed over some gorgeous crystals and precious stones.
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Lapis Lazuli (above) was once more expensive than gold. When ground into powder and made into ultramarine, it turned into the finest and most expensive of all blue pigments. It was used by the most important artists of the Renaissance and Baroque like Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665).
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I was captivated by the magical nuances of the opals both in their natural form, and as cut and polished gemstones.
Variations of sapphire
One of the gemstone collections at the museum
A rainbow of gemstones
And the Aurora Pyramid of Hope, comprising 296 extremely rare coloured diamonds (only one in 10,000 diamonds is coloured).

I’m not particularly greedy, I’d be perfectly happy with just one coloured diamond:
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As eternalised by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
We left The Vault and stepped out onto the upper staircase leading to the top floor of the museum.

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I have always pictured Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry like this, the only difference being that the ceiling (right) does not reflect the weather outside, but that doesn’t necessarily take away from its beauty.
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For those who want to take some crystals home (and can’t afford the coloured diamonds at the time being), there is a good selection at the museum shop (below).
A quick breakfast in front of Tiffany’s windows might have done the trick for Audrey, but we found that after having spent most of the afternoon obsessing over jewellery, we needed something more substantial.

We kept to our Natural and Raw theme as we crossed the street and found our way to Tombo, a very affordable and highly recommended sushi place. I had also gone out of my way to accessorise in line with the raw nature of sushi:
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We experimented with Bonsai green tea and it turned out to be an excellent choice. It has a very specific nutty flavour and goes really well with both mains and desserts.
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Lidiya had the Temari set (left) with salmon, prawn and edamame, and I got the Prawn Tempura sushi rolls.
We also ordered a Salmon Temaki sushi wrap … each. To be fair, it looked much smaller in the menu!
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We had come across really positive feedback on the desserts (as per Foursquare users) so we simply had to sample both the mochi ice-cream (sesame and green tea flavours), and the raspberry macaroons.

The sun had gracefully decided to stay out until late in the afternoon, so we strolled towards Kensington Gardens.
We marvelled over the creativity exhibited by the owners of this lovely terrace for a short while and then continued on our way towards the park.
lbert’s Momorial, and across the road from it – probably my second favourite building in London, Royal Albert Hall (below).
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I’m wearing H&M trousers and Clarks ankle boots.
Taking my photography skills to the next level. Although, to be honest, it’s not too hard to to snap one of these furry fellows, they just strut around fearlessly and even come to sniff your finger if you pretend to be offering them some food.
Even so, I felt quite proud after looking through my pictures and discovering an unblurred, successful close-up shot of this amazingly savage-looking and yet delicate purple rose. Particularly because it was guarded by a number of thorny bushes which were determined to catch hold of every inch of my clothes and hair.


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