30 December 2016

What's on in London January to March 2017

I send a seasonal newsletter directly to members of my friends club but want to let my blog readers have the chance to enjoy it too. So here's a few of the great things happening in London over the winter. 


Here’s your winter 2017 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed, or any other things you may have heard about, do send me an email (sue@itsyourlondon.co.uk) and I’ll get right back to you.

A warm welcome to new subscribers!

Have a look a Sue’s blog on the website (www.itsyourlondon.co.uk) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 4080 followers for all the latest news!

Hope you enjoy your newsletter, let me know what you think.
Best wishes,
Sue Hillman


JANUARY One popular tradition following the festive season is the January sales which offer massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. Watch out for Burns Night on 25th when you’ll find Scottish traditions breaking out all over London so why not try some haggis this year! This year the Chinese New Year falls in January, it’s a big event in London and in 2017 we will welcome in the year of the Rooster. 
FEBRUARY Love is in the air with arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events and menus at most restaurants.  Ready yourselves for Pancake Day races around London, one of the best being at the Guildhall in the City where the livery companies race and toss pancakes while wearing their very special traditional costumes!
MARCH St Patrick’s Day is big all round the world and London is no exception as the Guinness flows and we have a huge parade and dancing and bands so get out that green outfit and join in the fun in Trafalgar Square. Mother’s Day in the UK falls in March so treat your mum to a special meal in one of London’s fabulous top class restaurants.

January The Kite Runner opens at the Wyndhams Theatre and it will be interesting to see how they stage this powerful story.  Also tackling tough issues, BU21 at the Trafalgar Studios explores a massive (but fictitious) terrorist attack and the reactions of 6 Londoners who survive. To lift the spirits, Thoroughly Modern Millie comes to the New Wimbledon Theatre, based on the 1976 Oscar winning film and starring Joanne Clifton from Strictly Come Dancing. Somewhere in between is a comedy at the Park Theatre called which is based in a family’s frog farm in rural England and their 6 foot frogs, terrorism and the mystery of the long dead mother!
February There’s quite a build up for Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s theatre as it is an acclaimed transfer from Broadway starring Tony Award winner Cherry Jones. The Boys in the Band opens at the Vaudeville starring Mark Gatiss of Sherlock fame, offering razor sharp witty entertainment – they say – its first west end outing for 20 years. Tom Stoppard’s Travesties comes to the Apollo starring Tom Hollander, from The Night Manager, and Stoppard’s dazzling comedic writing. The story that inspired the film Calendar Girls comes to the Phoenix Theatre as The Girls with a musical contribution from Gary Barlow.
March  I’m really looking forward to Don Juan in Soho starring the wonderful David Tennant at the Wyndhams Theatre and have tickets for this already! The multi award winning musical La Cage aux Folles returns to London at the New Wimbledon Theatre to lighten our hearts.  The indoor theatre at The Globe, the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, hosts Othello and the Old Vic takes on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead starring Daniel Radcliffe. The Harold Pinter Theatre brings us Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf starring Imelda Staunton and Luke Treadaway and Conleth Hill.  An American in Paris, a new musical lands at the Dominion Theatre starring Jane Asher

January The annual London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington is a big deal showcasing modern British art from the early 20th century to now.  January is when a lot of the big autumn shows close so hurry to catch: Wilfredo Lam at the Tate Modern; Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery; Rodin and Dance at the Courtauld Gallery; and, Malik Sidibe at Somerset House.
February Two new and contrasting shows open at the Royal Academy: Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932; and, America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. The former looks at the revolutionary art breaking boundaries, through Kandinsky, Malevich and the Socialist Realism movement through other media including film, until Stalin’s clampdown in 1932. The latter show has 45 iconic works from Pollock, O’Keeffe and Hopper among others, and American Gothic by Grant Wood which has never before left America.   It explores post-crash America in flux, with rapid social change and financial insecurities through what is being billed as a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition. The Tate Britain brings us a comprehensive David Hockney show, bringing together 60 years of painting, video, sketches and photography. Wolfgang Tillmans work is in display at the Tate Modern
March The National Gallery will be exploring the artistic relationship between 2 great Renaissance masters, Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo from 1510 to 1540 in a new exhibition called Meeting of Minds, through their collaborations. 2 excellent exhibitions close in March: Paul Nash at the Tate Britain and Australia’s Impressionists at the National Gallery.
January The January sales are a big event and massive bargains are to be found in the grand department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, designer boutiques all around town and the reliable chain stores.
February The big news for February is the winter London Fashion Week which will showcase the spring/summer collections followed by London Fashion Weekend when they let the likes of us in to peruse what’s new and what we will be wearing very soon.  
March As the days get longer and the temperatures warm up, make the most of London’s street markets:  Portobello on Saturdays; Camden market any day; Spitalfields most days but best on Sundays; Borough food market Wednesday to Saturday; and, Columbia Road flower market on Sundays.

January  Alexandra Palace is hosting a London Model Engineering Exhibition, so lots of railways but also planes, tanks, trucks and boats. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a new show opening in January looking at the Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London. The new Design Museum just opened late November so make a trip west to check out the beautiful renovated building in Kensington.
February  The Science Museum’s big new show will explore the last 500 years of robots from the scientific and artistic viewpoint. From a 1500s articulated mannequin to the state of art 2017 life changing machines, there will be 100 robots, 15 of which will be working models. At the Victoria and Albert Museum you can visit Collecting Europe examining the big question ‘What is Europe now?’ by travelling 2000 years into the future courtesy of 12 international artists who then look back to now from then to answer that question – sounds intriguing….
March Book early for the adult sleep overs at the Natural History Museum, Dino Snores! The British Museum has a new show called The American Dream: Pop to the Present, showcasing for the first time the museum’s outstanding collection of American prints from the 1960s through this turbulent time in the country’s history. 

January January sees the marking of Burns Night and not just in Scotland, so seek out some Scottish food to celebrate and bravely try some haggis in restaurants such as the Boisdale and Hix restaurants. Kricket, a modern Indian in Soho offers small plates. Tommi’s Burger Joint in Soho offers a change to the USA brands with Icelandic burgers! Mere in Fitzrovia comes with a good pedigree as Monica Galetti, known from Masterchef but mostly as ex Gavroche chef, opens her own place. Six Storeys is one of the easily named places as, you’ve guessed, is an entire townhouse in Soho Square will be offering all day dining and drinking. One of my favourite French restaurants, Casse Croute, has a new location round the corner, offering breakfasts and brunches every day called Pique-Nique which is a little delayed from its original opening plan. 
February Steve Parle from the Dock Kitchen (where he cooked me a wonderful meal recently!) opens Palatino majoring on Roman cuisine in Clerkenwell. The Cheese Bar, a food truck, settles down in Camden Market with top grilled cheese toasties. Nape in Camberwell will serve cured meats, a deli and bottle shop, the meat will be great as Cannon and Cannon run the place are famous for their quality charcuterie. Rail House Café from the Riding House Café folk will be opening a large venue in the Victoria area which is in need of some good new places.
March  Several advance listings say ‘early/spring 2017’ so it’s quite a safe bet that March onwards will seem them hit the restaurant scene but apologies if they get their acts together and hit February. Maple and Kings in Kings Cross will offer healthy eating – salads, cold press juices and gluten free desserts. The luxurious Stafford Hotel is having a refurb and upping its restaurant game with the James Durrant run The Game Bird, expecting a very British menu. Another well-known chef, Claude Bosi formerly of Hibiscus (now sadly closed) will be running both floors at the glorious Bibendum building. A huge opening in terms of scale will be Ned in the City from the Soho House group. Called Ned after Edwin Luytens, always called Ned, who designed the building, it is a massive site and will have 8, yes 8, restaurants, private members club and private dining (making 9 restaurants) , a 252 room hotel and a Cowshed spa and a gym.

January Twilight Tours of the Tower of London will open your eyes to the spooky and gruesome history of this historic site but please don’t have nightmares. Adult Ghost Tours at Hampton Court Palace continue the scary theme….
February  Also at the Tower of London is Conquest, a costumed live activity aimed at half term crowds who will be called upon to help defend the Tower against enemies on all sides! The Banqueting House hosts a big Palace Pub Quiz, such an impressive room to spend a fun evening in.  If you are near Green Park at midday on 6th February, hurry there to hear the gun salute to mark Accession Day to celebrate when the Queen took on the throne – there will be at least 41 rounds!
March. Kew Palace reopens at the end of March after its winter hibernation so combine it with the wonderful sight of spring flowers at the Kew Botanical Gardens.

January Darts kick off the sporting year at Alexandra Palace with the last rounds of the world championship final. Then the Dafabet Masters comes to Alexandra Palace, snooker’s biggest invitation event. Also at Alexandra Palace in a busy month are the World Championships of Ping Pong where they say the game is returning to the mainstream!  The football season pushes through the 2 cup competitions with key rounds being played in the League Cup and FA Cup with plenty of London teams on show. NBA Basketball can be cheered on at the 02 Arena where the Denver Nuggets face the Indiana Pacers .
February The Six Nations starts with matches at Twickenham where we will be looking to England to continue their winning ways – apologies to the other home nations but I’m English. The football League Cup final will be played at Wembley. Netball comes to the SSE Arena Wembley when England play Australia and New Zealand take on South Africa in the Quad Series.
March  The Six Nations continues and completes all the matches through March, England’s last game will be against Scotland at Twickenham. The England football team are on the trail to the 2018 World Cup with a qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.  In boxing David Haye fights Tony Bellew in a heavyweight clash at the 02 Arena.  The FA Cup reaches quarter final stage and I hope some London clubs are still in the draw.

January Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne take on the 02 Arena for their ‘last ever tour’ called The End! Also at the 02 is Drake. Several venues have David Bowie tributes on this 1st anniversary of his death, including the Jazz Café. Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna with its combination of music and death defying acrobatics takes on a long stint at the Royal Albert Hall. Ronnie Scott’s has some good shows including Ruby Turner, Claire Martin, Manu Katche and Booker T Jones.
February Blast from the past Donny Osmond comes to the Apollo with Soundtrack of My Life. Also at the Apollo are Busted and Bon Iver. LeAnn Rimes plays one night at the massive London Palladium venue. Green Day are at the equally big 02 Arena
March The Kaiser Chiefs come to the 02 Arena as does Craig David and Olly Murs and the C2C massive country music festival with some of the biggest names. Elbow play 3 nights at the Apollo.  A R Rahman takes on the Wembley SSE Arena and The Who play an acoustic version of Tommy at the Royal Albert Hall. Old favourites The Stranglers play their biggest hits on their Classic Collection Tour at the Brixton Academy. The atmospheric venue Union Chapel hosts Macy Gray and G4, and top reggae band Aswad play at Under the Bridge.

Enjoy London!


v  Everything is current at the time of writing but dates, events and venues may change 

16 December 2016

London's wonderful Christmas lights and trees

London looks brilliant any time of the year but in the build up to Christmas London dresses up in its very best festive lights and trees pop up all over the city.  

I'd love to show you a few of the fabulous sights to enjoy right now in London.   Covent Garden is a good place to start as they have the best tree, in my view, and fabulous lights. This year's theme is mistletoe - ahhh...   You can shop for gifts and enjoy some refreshment as you explore. 

The Queen's grocer (they have a plaque to prove it!) has some really unusual windows this year including the boy and the brussel sprouts and the turkey having a tug of war with a chopper! They are all beautifully crafted in the strangeness. 

Last year Regent Street had an epic fail with their decorations which were far too dark to enjoy so it was a relief this year to see the light, bright and very sparkly angels that cover the full length of this famous shopping street. 

Kew Gardens goes all out with their illuminated trail which sells out so fast I missed out last year so was determined to book early and was entranced by their lights.  The high point was a laser and lights show on the palm house, hard to photograph but here a a few to give you an idea of the magic. 

Ice rinks pop up in all of London's most iconic sights:  the Tower of London, Somerset House and the Natural History Museum:

Talking of ice, one of the more unusual trees was to be found at Kings Cross where a tree is trapped in an enormous block of ice.

The Strand didn't want to be left out and repeated last year's jolly decorations, as did Oxford Street: 

And finally, the best festive afternoon tea, happily consumed at St Ermin's Hotel:

I hope you enjoyed a virtual tour around festive London, where it really is 'looking a lot like Christmas.....'

Bye for now


18 November 2016

The Design Museum moves across London to Kensington

"Moving the Design Museum to Kensington is the most important moment in my design career - so far"! was Terence Conran's inspiring remark at the preview opening of the new site on Kensington High Street, London. He's put a lot of his own money into the development and move of this museum so he has every right to feel proud of this impressive new building. 

Rising from the relic of old Commonwealth Institute building, which has been derelict for over a decade. a new stunning home to showcase UK design in a world class space has emerged.

As you enter, your eye is drawn up to the roof through an enormous atrium and the revolving words 'designer', 'user', 'maker' are a splash of colour against the gorgeous pale wood and pale marble of the stairs, walkways and walls. 

The shapes and angles in every direction remind you that this is a museum for architecture as well as design and I spent much of my visit just standing and enjoying this stunning space. 

Good design is everywhere, including the museum map which takes the form of a tear off sheet, reminiscent of a toilet roll!  The sleek lines and use of natural materials are so attractive and reminiscent of the new Tate Modern.

There are 3 exhibitions to visit, however it should be noted that only one of those is free and my favourite, the Beazley Designs of the Year will cost you £9 for an adult ticket.  The Beazley gallery has great displays of designs in a wide range of applications from bikes to clothes to ceramic 3-D printing, however it was the section of design used to save the environment that caught my eye.   I love to see designers looking at the possibilities of improving the lives of poor people and caring for our world. Here are a few:

A smog collector which turns it into a dense, carbon rich powder that has been used in jewellery making: 

A book whose pages can be torn out and used as a filter which purifies water that is not safe to drink and makes it clean drinking water. The pages of the book have the instructions for use printed on them and each page can purify 100 litres of water so a book could last a family a year!

Trainers made from recycled plastic found in the oceans:

As someone who has a very small London kitchen, the simple clever appliances designed in Japan for MUJI looked spot on. I was told that the objects you use most often have been designed with curves to make them easier for us to adapt to and feel comfortable with.  The item with the spoon is a mini rice maker - clever!

The free to visit areas in the Designer, Maker, User section has a great time-line of design which was well worth a read and a wall of oh so familiar products celebrates the style of objects that shape our everyday lives.

The other ticketed exhibition is Fear and Love, where you can explore the work of 11 innovative and thought provoking designers.  Immediately, you are drawn to the robot, Mimus, as 'she' is moving around in her perspex box with that robot noise they make. I chatted with the designer and she showed me how Mimus is programmed to follow visitors around and look closely if she interested in them.  It's rather spooky and not quite as endearing as the designer thinks......

She hasn't spotted me yet....

Eeek, she's found me!

There's more 3 D printing, wearable technology, a beautiful display of wool to demonstrate a machine that is able to separate fibres by fabric and colour, giving us hope that landfill for clothes may be a thing of the past:

The exterior and the roof remain of the original Commonwealth Institute building remain as well as this splendid 1960s map which left us wondering what the difference was between the cream and the brown countries?  The original stained glass windows have also been retained and can be found by the shop. 

As Sir Terence Conran said, this museum will "educate, inspire and delight future generations and truly make a difference to the world around us."  Sir T and the Director Deyan Sudjic placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of the creative industries to the UK economy and the UK's place as a world leader in this area.  Sir T feels strongly that government needs to "appreciate the importance of design to the quality of life of citizens and to the economy".  On a lighter note, he loves the building so much that Sir T said "I feel I'd like to live here"! 

Of course there is a top quality, good looking shop awaiting you and to spoil visitors even more they have 2 shops, one inside the museum and the other in one of the new residential buildings as you come across just off Kensington High Street. 

More information about the new Design Museum here, including opening times and ticket prices. 

Bye for now.