FULLMOON CAFE, Havelock Island

Revisiting the Andamans after many, many years, it was as though we were discovering the islands for the first time, so much had things changed.

One of the lovely discoveries we made was the trendy Fullmoon Café on Havelock Island, which was not only the eatery for our little hotel, but also a popular hang out for tourists and divers from all over Havelock Island.

And deservedly so.

Chill vibe.

Great food.

Excellent service.

Golden Retrievers and a cat.

What more needs to be said?

The dogs flop at your feet, the cat curls up on your lap, all adding to the relaxed mood of this open-air café that gives onto the beach.


Thoroughly recommended, for the excellent food, great menu choices and reasonable prices.  To serve such a varied menu, given the logistics of island life, is seriously impressive.

We paid our own way, and I did not tell the staff at Fullmoon Café that I blog and write reviews.

A great little place.


Last night we saw Darkest Hour.  Today, The Post.

A veritable embarrassment of riches. 2 amazing films, back to back.

At the risk of sounding as though I’m writing those slightly corny one-liners that are quoted on movie posters, The Post is a triumph.

The film is a brilliant re-enactment of those not-actually-that-far-off days of the Pentagon Papers and then Watergate.  The major theme of the film, the necessity of a free press, ready and able and allowed to expose the wrongdoings of government is stunningly contemporary, when you think of President Trump and his campaign against the press.

The film also taps into another historical seam that is bang-up-to-date, namely the attitude to and treatment of women.  In my Delhi cinema today, there were cheers when Meryl Streep raises her hand to stop yet another man from interrupting her.  There were also cheers when Ben Bradlee’s wife explains why she thinks Katherine Graham is brave for taking the decision to print the Pentagon Papers, in a world where women are ignored and – if noticed at all – are interrupted and patronised. 

It was these fascinating links to Trump and to the #metoo movement that made this film so compelling on different levels.

As one expects with a Steven Spielberg film, The Post is beautifully filmed, and with faultless period details – oh, Meryl Streep’s clothes, how perfect are they? The scenes on the print room floor, of the type setting and the columns of newsprint winding their way up and down the factory floor in an almost balletic way, are visually stunning.

There is not one single thing to dislike/criticise/wish were otherwise in this movie.

Everything is perfect.

From the splendid performances of those two giants of the cinema, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, down to the hippie crowds protesting in the street, to the young women on the court room steps, looking respectfully and admiringly at Katharine Graham – every detail is perfect.

Tom Hanks is as electrifying and convincing as ever.  His Ben Bradlee is a driven, energetic, kind, principled man.

Meryl Streep…well, what can one say?  I am totally in love with Ms Streep, and am unable to think of a single performance of hers that hasn’t been perfect.  She is talented, versatile, intelligent, principled, gorgeous (and, I like to believe, just so darn nice).  As a human being she makes sense and talks sense, and I have always admired her hugely.  As an actress, she is beyond talented.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a fan.

I am thrilled to learn that I am not alone in lusting after the kaftan Ms Streep wears in the party scene – when she makes the decision to go ahead and print.  It is a gorgeous confection and there is a Vanity Fair article praising it – here’s the link, which describes this white and gold kaftan as the best movie dress of 2017.

Loved the movie.

Loved the timeliness of it.

Before I wrap up this gush-fest, just have a look at this, below:

Makes you thing, right?

Loved the film.

Totally recommended.


Other than the irritating “Cigarettes are injurious to health” warning which stayed on the screen almost all through the movie, I had nothing to fault in this fabulous film.

So this review is actually going to be little more than a song of praise for outstanding acting, wonderful period detail and the creation of amazing tension, even though we all know the outcome.

Gary Oldman is extraordinary as Winston Churchill, brilliant orator, quick-thinking, irascible, insensitive to those around him who love and like him, and a street-fighter of note.

His outsmarting of his War Cabinet through his emotional speech to his Outer Cabinet, in which he liberally quotes people he just met on the Tube is a classic moment, demonstrating his amazing oratorical skills.  The Tube moment is, apparently, fiction.  But it makes for good cinema.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Clemmie is sublime, looks utterly fabulous in those chic 1940s clothes and brings out a more vulnerable, likeable side to Winston Churchill.  Clementine was clearly the ballast for her husband and although Ms Scott Thomas’s screen time might be limited, she fleshes out Clemmie’s character so perfectly that we feel we do indeed know her.  When she toasts her husband on becoming Prime Minister, it is a masterclass in how to deliver a rebuke with love and respect.

Lily James as Churchill’s secretary Elizabeth Layton is gorgeous., with that winning smile of hers.

Oh dear, that’s hardly a deep-insight-y kind of thing to say, but Ms James really is so lovely, and makes Ms Layton into a delightful, vital part of the PM’s life.

Samuel West, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn – they are all perfect and visually perfect, Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI in particular is wonderful.

The atmosphere of England in the late 30s and early 40s, when it was a world of privileged white middle-aged men, with hardly any women and ne’er a non-Caucasian face visible is superbly re-created, with the scenes in the House of Commons bringing home, if ever one needed a reminder, of how Britain has evolved over the decades.

Having said that, the only false note was, for me, the presence of a black Londoner on the Tube.  I’m no historian, but I just cannot see Winston Churchill sitting and chatting like that.  Maybe I’m wrong.  That scene was just a tad too PC for me.

But that minor criticism aside, this is a stunning film, and I cannot praise it too highly.

And, as a matter of interest, is it an Indian thing (I live in New Delhi) to have that tobacco warning on the screen each time a character lights up? Which is almost all the time.  Or do other countries do this as well?


In Mumbai last week, I went to the marvellous exhibition “India and the world: A history in nine stories” which is on at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – or, as it says on their own website “(Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)”.

Although the exhibition will travel to Delhi later this year, I very much wanted to see it in the splendid surroundings of the beautiful colonial-era museum.

At the risk of sounding bossy – please do go see this exhibition.

Trust me.  You will not be disappointed.

It is superb, and the way objects are displayed and explained is world-class, weaving history laterally across countries and religions through 9 stories.

The concept of the exhibition is fascinating, allowing us to see Indian artefacts in a global context, across civilisations.  We see how Indian history ties in, for example, with the history of Rome or Greece or Mesopotamia, and you can stand and compare contemporaneous sculptures or pottery from across civilisations, as they are exhibited together.

Take a display like this one, above, in which images of emperors across different civilisations are placed side by side – a Kushan king from India’s Uttar Pradesh, the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Alexander the Great.

Quite extraordinary.

This is a rare, very privileged opportunity to see treasures from the collections of the British Museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya itself, and Delhi’s National Museum, as well as objects from smaller regional museums and private collections.  In other words, access to objects you would otherwise never get to see.

All the stops have been pulled out:

“It is the largest such collaboration for even the British Museum, which has never before lent so many objects for a single show.”



The exhibition is on in Mumbai until February 18th and then it heads to Delhi in March, for 3 months.

Every single object on display is remarkable.  But there were some special favourites.

How divine is this little Harappan era agate bull, below?

Tiny, gorgeous, perfect.  Dates from1800BC.  Too lovely.

Loved this juxtaposition, below, of two religious icons:

Loved the slightly cross-eyed elephants in this Golconda painting:

And this was fun, below.

The British Museum’s Roman copy of the original Greek Discobolus, dating from 100AD:

And a 2012 Chinese reinterpretation, complete with Mao suit:

Details of the dates and timings can be found on the exhibition website.

Disclosure: I paid for my ticket + Rs100 for a photo pass, and no-one at the museum knew I blog.

Xiaomi MIJIA PM2.5 Smart Detector Air Quality Monitor

So shocking is the air quality in Delhi, where I live, that a Christmas present of a PM2.5 detector was a great hit.

Our son brought us the Xiaomi MIJIA PM2.5 Smart Detector Air Quality Monitor from China, where he lives, and it is the easiest gadget to set up and use.  Literally just charge it – it uses a standard micro USB –  and you’re A for away.

There is a light that is green when the PM2.5. level is within acceptable norms, and a red light which we have seen far more of, sad to report.

On/off button.  All very easy-peasy.

Since it is super light, you can easily carry the detector with you.  We did, taking it to the Andaman Islands, to test the air quality there, and also testing the air on board our Vistara flight.

Pretty pure, I have to say, as you can see from the photo below:Back here in Delhi, we move it from room to balcony to room, watching in horror as the levels shoot skywards whenever we step out onto our plant-filled balcony.

There’s a full technical review online & I took the liberty of quoting from it regarding the monitor’s vital stats:

“The PM2.5 detector is a pocket-friendly device that easily fits into the pockets as the device weighs 100 grams and measures 62 mm x 62 mm x 32 mm in size. There is a built-in 750 mAh battery that can last up to 2-3 hours on single charge.”

In my other blog, christinepemberton.me, I shared a short video of our monitor recording the changing AQI level as I walked out onto our balcony – the video shows you just how super easy it is to use & interpret the data.

A useful addition to your house, especially if, like me, you live in a polluted place.  It gives you real-time, personalised info, and you can plan your course of action accordingly.

Murder on the Orient Express

Dream cast.

Visually sumptuous.

Fab footage for steam train fans (and let’s face it, who isn’t a fan of steam trains?).


Despite all of the above, and without wishing to sound ungrateful and churlish, Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” never quite lives up to expectations.

Judi Dench.

Johnny Depp.

Michelle Pfeiffer.

Penelope Cruz

Derek Jacobi.

The list of this amazing cast is endless, but, with the exception of Mr. Branagh who produces/directs/stars in the film, they all seem under-utilised, Judi Dench in particular.

The film is a visual treat, undoubtedly, with lots of lovely footage of the Orient Express chugging its slow and stately way across snowy Europe.  Never have the Swiss Alps looked so gorgeous.

Avalanche stops the train.  A murder occurs while the train is stranded.  Whodunit?

And I can’t spoil the plot for you, so let’s leave it there.  I knew, of course, who did it, having seen the 1974 film – which has an even more breathtaking cast than the 2017 version, if that were possible.

I thoroughly enjoyed this remake, loved the lush period detail, loved the train, loved the clothes, loved the elegance.

Very much enjoyed Mr. Branagh’s less caricatural portrayal of Hercule Poirot, though, if I might be so bold – what’s with the moustache/s, Mr. Branagh?  Downright weird.


I don’t really see what this film achieves, other than making M. Poirot a little more thoughtful and a whole lot more theatrical.
Do go see it.

Lovely film.

But not, I fear, a great film.

Eating at Smith’s in Wapping

In London for my birthday, we decided to eat locally, and since we were staying in Shad Thames, the choice was lots of nice but a bit run-of-the-mill-and-not-special-occasion-y places.

Or Smith’s.

Smith’s it was.

We walked across Tower Bridge and strolled along the river to Smith’s, a large, rather green, glass confection with great views.

Sadly, even though we’d called in person the previous day to book, and mentioned it was my birthday, we didn’t get a table with a view of the river as requested, but never mind.  Can’t win ’em all.  That’s what you get for having a birthday on a Saturday in London.

The restaurant was packed, and as an avid people-watcher, it was a fascinating crowd.  (I don’t live in the UK, just for the record, and haven’t for 40 years, just in case I sound weird in my people judgement).  But basically, I felt as though I’d time-travelled back to the days of City FX traders with lashings of money and very blonde girlfriends.  There was lots of champagne-drinking, girls in dizzying high heels & plunging necklines, and the people next to us ordered stonking great lobsters and caviar (but were both glued to their mobiles, which was totally 2017).

All quite fun.

Now, I must mention that we are not an easy combo to feed.

I don’t eat meat, and hubby is allergic to anything fishy or sea-foody…but it was my birthday, remember, so I was indulged and he had a côte de boeuf which he pronounced excellent.  He also drank white with his beef, because it was my birthday.  Nice man.

I had oysters to start.  Divine.

Then scallops.  Equally divine.

All very nice, and I guess it was childish of me to feel a twinge of jealousy when the lady at the table opposite us got the whole “happy-birthday-to-you” routine.  I went over to wish her, as a fellow-birthday-girl, but she smiled and told me it wasn’t actually her birthday till the following week…ah well, you can’t win ’em all Mark II.

We paid our bill, & I didn’t say that I blog or review.



Eating at Cafe Lota in the Delhi Crafts Museum


Finally I got my act together (thanks, Catriona) and not only visited the Crafts Museum after aeons, but also had lunch in the absolutely adorable Cafe Lota, situated just at the entrance to the museum complex.

Been meaning to go there forever, and it was every bit as charming as I’d heard.

Like the whole Crafts Museum complex, there was a distinctly retro feel to the place.  A calm, unhurried, un-pushiness, which was balm to the soul.  Here’s a link to a post I wrote about the Crafts Museum.

It’s also about shopping, too 🙂

I decided that if ever I should be so lucky to live in a home with a large courtyard studded with trees, I think I’d like to make a similar space as Cafe Lota has done.

You sit under trees, but are roofed in.

The food was interesting, and that is meant positively.

Indian, but Indian nouvelle-cuisine-y with interesting things on the menu – like mushy pea rotis which, as a Tyke, I obviously had to have.

I’ve never been a chaat fan, after a horrid experience in what was then Bombay in the lovely early days of getting to know India.

Scarred for life, I swore off chaat for decades.

The occasional try over the years didn’t make me change my mind, and yesterday’s dish was fine, but actually, I’m still not a fan.

Catriona loved it, so it’s clearly me.

We had sole cooked in mustard which was heavenly, so heavenly I forgot to take a photo.

And then this mushy-pea bread, makhana and lotus stem combo:

Nice, different, interesting, but a tad awkward to eat, if I’m being honest.  But yet again, the fault is all mine.

Loved the vibe, loved the feel of the place and will definitely plan a return visit.

Great service – un-pushy, un-hassle-y, smiley.

I paid the bill myself, and did not mention that I blog or review.

Victoria & Abdul

Oh dear.

What a let down.

The story, that of the unlikely friendship between an ageing Queen Victoria and her Indian servant, is not only a delectable one, but the additional fact that Abdul Karim’s diaries were only recently discovered is also thrilling.

Add the incomparable Judi Dench to the mix, and we should have had the blockbuster to beat all costume-historical-sweeping-blockbuster-epic-y thingies.

Except we don’t.

Judi Dench is her usual incomparable self.  Not one word of criticism about her performance.

She is absolutely perfect as Queen Victoria.Perfect.

But for the rest of the cast…yet again, at the risk of repeating myself, what a let-down.

Stellar names delivering flat performances, with Eddie Izzard a notable exception.

I haven’t read the original book, nor do I know enough about that period of British & Indian history to speak with any authority, but I’m pretty sure that an Indian servant like Mohammed would not have slightly cheeked off the British, used words like “bloody” and been so, well, so 21st century in his open disdain for the British and their way of life.

Also, and I may be over-estimating Queen Victoria, but would she really not have known the background to the Koh-i-Noor?  One of her prized pieces of jewelllery?

And now let’s move onto young Ali Faizal, who plays the charming, handsome and likeable Abdul Karim.

Great eye-candy, totally, but what a sadly one-dimensional portrayal.

The actor is utterly charming, and you like Abdul unwaveringly, but other than smiling sweetly and affectionately at HM, what else does he do?

Victoria and Abdul
Judi Dench (left) as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal (right) as Abdul Karim

Lovely visuals, as one would expect, but that was it.

Didn’t care about any of the other characters, they were all so 2 dimensional.

Liked Ali Faizal.

Loved Judi Dench.

But left the cinema feeling slightly cheated.

This movie could’ve been fabulous.

Could’ve been epic.

Instead, it was formulaic, and even a little silly at times.

But, having said that, it is still worth seeing for the wonderful Judi Dench.

Eating at Côte in London

On both our trips to London this year, we have based ourselves fairly & squarely in SE1, probably my favourite part of the city.

We walked miles along the Thames, explored the City and the fabulously renovated Docklands area, including my all-time favourite St. Katharine Dock.

We also ate several times over the weeks at some of the restaurants at St. Katharine Dock, especially Côte.  Once we ate at Côte in Hay’s Galleria, but our “regular” became SKD.  The service was always pleasant and efficient, the views over the little harbour are brilliant, and there are heaters for those who (like us) prefer to sit out and eat, despite the fickle English weather.

At lunchtime (we didn’t go there in the evenings, as it so happens) Côte offers a reasonably priced menu, which you can order as either 2 or 3 courses.

My husband is allergic to seafood, I don’t eat meat, but we always found things we both wanted on their menu.

As a bit of a creature of habit where food is concerned, I tended to have the same thing every time we ate there.

The why-fix-it-if-it’s-not-broke logic.

The dish in question was THE most delicious mackerel terrine, which was always consistently good, and a generous helping, too.

Loved the presentation, on a wooden platter with that cute individual jar.


Hubby tried an interesting-looking & interesting-sounding yellow beetroot salad one day.

Nothing wrong with the quality of the beetroot, just that despite its striking looks, it was –  sad to report –  a tad underwhelming, taste-wise.  Nice, but a bit bland.

Doesn’t it look lovely, though?

I never even knew you could get yellow beetroot.

I subsequently Googled it – as one does – and it doesn’t stain.

So now you know.


Anyone who knows me that I have long since given up eating puddings and chocolate – both of which used to be the highlight of any meal for me.

Fighting middle-aged flab was simply not compatible with eating pudding and so, sadly, many years ago I gave up the unequal fight.

I share this with you, not to elicit any sympathy, but to highlight the fact that, despite years of not touching pudding, every time we lunched at Côte, I had pudding.

Their frozen berries and hot sauce are to die for.

Trust me.

Too too yum.

Recommended, after several visits.

We paid our own way every time, nor did we tell anyone that I blog and write reviews.