29 August 2008

Back for Carnival, what a blast.

London Living has been out of town and missing London. 2 visits to Scotland and one to Bristol have taken me out and about around the UK which has been fascinating but I was pleased to be back home in time for Carnival. It's a fabulous event and being a Notting Hill resident is even more of a treat at this time of year. The build up starts a few days before as posh shops start boarding up their windows, giving a very odd feel to the area. On the day it starts quietly but by mid morning the noise begins to build and the smoke rises from the BBQs, then it's all go and the place is rammed full of visitors. Some areas had rather more police than usual which was odd and somewhat unnerving. We wondered around, soaked up the atmosphere, felt the music blasting our ribcages, smelt the jerk chicken and imagined we were in the Caribbean for just a little while.

As for my time out of town, I can recommend Mull and Iona for the big skies and fabulous light, although we were not blessed with much sunshine which is a big feature of summer 2008 wherever you are in the UK. The second Scotland trip was my annual foray into the mad world of the Edinburgh Fringe where we rushed around town to see 4 comedies, 2 plays, a BBQ and a jazz brunch. What an wonderful opportunity to fill your days with a bunch of different shows and take a chance on new names.

Bristol has its charms too - SS Great Britain, a fascinating visit, its surrounding countryside, Bath, and we managed to get to 2 very constrasting music shows - a blues band in a tiny cramped buzzing pub and a classical concert in the cathedral. Always love those contrasts...

Back in London with a second trip to the Proms to see a more conventional classical programme which bizarrely featured one piece from the Bristol concert, Vaughan Williams's Lark Ascending.

Next week sees me off to Spain for a week in Minorca in search of sun and lazy days on a lounger - can't wait! So back in a week.

7 August 2008

Jazzy days....

Been trying out some of the 'been there forever' sights of London but mostly those here for just a few months. The forever - Buckingham Palace - open for the summer and all very impressive with lots and lots of gold paint. They have a room set out for a state banquet which was beautiful but the chairs looked very small and uncomfortable as only Betty gets a chair with arms.

Things that are passing through - Frank Gehry's summer pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery which is light wood and glass and wonderful tho' I did miss his usual style of curving metal. I was there in that wonderfully hot and sunny bit of summer we had so I saw it at its best. Ealing Jazz Festival Sunday also benefitted from the height of summer and it was baking and just got hotter as the afternoon went on. The good jazz took rather second place eating, drinking and keeping cool - apologies to the musicians!

More music this week than usual and more jazz. A jazz brunch at the Albert Hall on Sunday saw Edison Herbert and his group serenade us through a full English. And a second trip to the Albert Hall in one week (always the way) saw a marvellous world music prom give us a whistle stop world tour - Cape Verde, Spain (the extraordinary Son de la Frontera very proper flamenco), China, Gambia and finally a magnificiant show from Mali. Well done to the new proms supremo, Roger Wright, for putting this in the main evening slot not the late tube slot.

Other temporary delights - the Cezannes at the Courtaulds and Hadrian at the British Museum. Not enough wall in the Hadrian for my liking, isn't that what he means to us Brits rather than huge models of his villa in Tivoli? Still, always great to be able to drop in and see the Rosetta stone and a Moai from Easter Island on one's way out of a building.

Off to Scotland for a few days to visit the isle of Mull and then to Edinburgh for the Fringe, so back soon....