28 December 2009
21 December 2009
Yes we had snow in London! It didn't lay in the centre of town but caused huge excitement for a few hours.
Lots of lovely London Christmas lights to show you in these photos. The most beautiful were the delicate cut out fairytale images at Tiffany's in Bond Street but the most fun were in Carnaby Street - see previous posting. The most comic was the penguin with the pink wig in Ted Baker South Molton Street, a pedestrianised shopping street which also gave us this original blue arch look. Also worth a mention is St Christopher's Place, another pedestrian shopping area with lovely hanging lights.
London is full of ice rinks during December and they all fight to be considered the best location which is a tough competition between Tower of London, Natural History Museum and my winner, Somerset House. This weekend they also had a Christmas fair where a few more unusual presents were purchased but I can't tell you what just in case the recipients are reading this!
Festive eating and drinking saw our annual visit to Julie's in Holland Park which is a most beautiful restaurant full of tiny side rooms and alcoves. We dined in a room which was just big enough for our table of 5 and all our presents. Festive mulled wine drinking took place at the Ground Floor - First Floor. They've made a festive effort so deserve a photo and are well placed right at the heart of Portobello Road so you can see a few stalls outside even tho' it was quite late in the day. which is the bar below a restaurant which is called - you've guessed already, First Floor! Wishing you all a very merry Christmas. I've one more blog for 2010 so catch me next Monday.
14 December 2009
Mid week I took a trip out to the Olympic site to see how it was coming on and you can see on the left a photo of the stadium which is taking shape now. It's a huge building project including a new station, Stratford International which has just opened so of course we had to go there and try out the new high speed train to St Pancras. Just about 8 minutes which is great but I wish they'd kept the original name of 'javelin train' - much more fun! At St Pancras we loved the ice sculptures of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower which celebrate the links to Paris via Eurostar, one of my favourite train journeys and one I've taken many times.
6 December 2009
Must be off shopping for presents....
29 November 2009
Restaurant and bar update: I went back to the Oak which houses my new favourite local bar and this time managed to get into the restaurant. They don't take bookings so we chanced it on a Monday as it's a bit hit and miss later in the week but the food was wonderful and I'll be back. I think I missed out mentioning a neighbour of the Oak, a Mexican restaurant called Crazy Homies which serves proper Mexican food surrounded by Mexican artifacts, so skeletons and pinatas everywhere, in a lively fun atmosphere. It's run by Tom Conran who has a few places in the area, all of good quality. A return visit to Albertines wine bar in Shepherds Bush was as cosy as ever on a rainy evening.
The next blog will be in December so watch out for tales and photos of Christmas lights as there are some good ones around already!
Bye for now,
23 November 2009
16 November 2009
It was a misty couple of days and the photo from the terrace captures that feel in contrast to the mad, busy, bright interior of the event.
I've been to a couple of great public exhibitions this week. One was a photographic delight - Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. This traces the course of the 60s and its pop stars through brilliant photography and magazine and album covers. It's great fun to see all these icons in their earlier seemingly innocent times when we know what is in store for them. Each caption mentioned a key song from that artist at that time so there was shameless singing along from many visitors, including us at one point I must admit!
From a lost worlds of Indian princes and the 60s to a film about lost millions and the internet but all about living lives on the public stage. 'We Live in Public' won the documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival and traces the life of Josh Harries, a pioneer in the cyber world through his rise and crash including a section where he lives with his partner on camera 24/7 in a fore runner of films and TV to come. Josh himself was at the cinema for Q&A afterwards which was strange as the film portrays him as an interesting but very unsympathetic character, both of which were borne out in person. We squeezed in cocktails at the Criterion bar and a wonderful lunch in one of Soho's authentic Italian restaurants - Il Porchetta - huge bowls of lovely pasta and very reasonably priced.
It feels like winter is nigh and the Christmas lights are coming on all over London - more on that next week and perhaps some photos.
8 November 2009
Sunday was the Luxury Travel Fair at the Olympia Exhibition centre so of course I went to that. It was quite quiet and as a friend had a stand at the next door Spirit of Christmas Fair, they let me in and I helped out on their stall for a couple of hours. This was great fun and I even sold a few things for them! Her company is called Floreat and we had beautiful candles, holders, decorations and the like. It was much buzzier in there and I began to feel a bit Christmassy helped by the wonderfully decorated massive hall it was held in - see photo.
One very fun evening was at the Jonathan Wylder Gallery in Knightsbridge. They were showing their fabulous sculptures, many of ballet figures ranging from tiny to life size and paintings, mostly of London. The garden was open and was also a venue for sculpture and was a magical oasis. We were wonderfully entertained by Rebecca Poole's jazzy tones and I think she is one to watch for the future. Afterwards we adjourned to the famous Motcomb's bar and restaurant to savour the evening.
Any other restaurants this week? Of course - Mulberry Street in Notting Hill with their 20 inch pizzas and yes they really are that big but between 3 they seem to disappear quite quickly and they do offer them by the slice for the faint hearted! And coffees at the excellent people watching venue of the Kitchen Pantry also in Notting Hill.
Off to meet some business contacts in Pimlico so bye for now.
2 November 2009
Last week was dominated by my excitement at seeing David Tennant! Anyone who knows me is well aware that I think he's absolutely gorgeous so the chance to see him close up was not to be missed. I was at the London Film Festival catching a good Spanish film called 'Three Days with the Family' made with new actors and technical staff. I enjoyed this although I was hoping to get my ear in with Spanish and it was in Catalan so more difficult to follow. The London Film Festival is a brilliant event with hundred of films of all genres and nationalities packed into a few weeks in October. So many stars were in town there were red carpets rolling out all the time!
On the way out I came across a huge crowd waiting along the red carpet to see the stars of 'Glorious 39' arrive. Bill Nighy, Jenny Agutter, Hugh Bonneville came and went and then the screams started for David (not just me!) See photo for closeness but it's a bit blurry due to all the other flashes going off....
The same afternoon I got 'wristbanded' as I was passing Leicester Square and gained access to the special night time party to celebrate the launch of the Michael Jackson film 'This is it' We saw videos of Michael's career on the huge screens and all kinds of folk interviewed on stage as part of the red carpet - Westlife, Harry Connick Jnr, Scarey Spice, JLS, Diversity, Tao Cruz, Peter Andre...... More screaming but this time not from me.
Thursday saw this month's Book Slam at Notting Hill's Tabernacle and the star was undoubtedly Roger McGough with his witty, insightful and accessible poetry read with charm and warmth.
There's not been too much time for eating out this week but I did spend a fun evening at the Chepstow in Notting Hill which is one of my favourite local bars. We had a few drinks and then got caught up in their weekly quiz and had we joined properly, might have done rather well but who knows.....
That's all for this week.
Bye for now.
26 October 2009
19 October 2009
That seems enough for one week so bye for now.
12 October 2009
It was a fascinating session about fact, fiction and fossils, as was the title of the talk, and the life of a working class woman with little education at a time when women's potential was so wasted. And the invite-only after talk drinks were great too- I managed to get into as I have a personal connection. There were some interesting discussions going on about science v arts and how to bridge the divide. Fascinating and not your average Monday evening.
Later in the week it was time for a trip to the theatre and we went to see The Power of Yes, a new play by David Hare about the financial crisis, at the National Theatre on the South Bank (I mention location as an excuse to add a photo of the area!) The play was unusually constructed - we had the author at the centre of the stage at all times, asking a range of expert witnesses to explain to him what had happened and why so he could write a play. Large numbers of men in suits came on and off the stage with varying theories and fingers to point. We learned a lot and got angry all over again, tho' the emotional involvement with the characters in the play was low.
Friday was also educational - isn't strange how weeks go like that? It was TEDx in Notting Hill which is an event of inspirational speakers, this time on the topic of The Future of Enterprise. Back at the Tabernacle which is a great venue, we heard amazing stories of young entrepreneurship, new forms of energy and people making a real difference to the world through their own lives. It was great if a little daunting! One great fun story to mention about recycling - a project to pair up single lost gloves to make a new groovy unmatching pair and sell them. Watch the Glove Love video on http://www.dothegreenthing.com/
The rain stopped and Saturday was a perfect Portobello Market day and we wandered up and down and then found the best outdoor seat in the area - just in front of the Ground Floor bar. We watched the world go past, caught up with friends and even worried whether the sun would burn! Early October can be so wonderful with its stolen extra days of summer.
What about the restaurants I hear you ask? More bars than restaurants this week, so one to mention for an evening get together is The Sun in Splendour at the start of Portobello Road. Drinks, food and a great bit of eaves dropping! We wanted to say " No, he's not interested in you and you getting even more drunk isn't going to change that " but didn't of course.....
Bye for now,
5 October 2009
The highlight of last week was a trip to the Donmar Warehouse to see Dominic West, lately of 'The Wire', being interviewed. He's an unassuming and amusing interviewee and the time passed all too quickly. He talked about his career, The Wire and his new play opening in a few weeks - a 16th century Spanish play called 'Life is a Dream' which is quite a contrast to 21st century urban Baltimore! Thanks to the intimate nature of the theatre we'd seen him walk past us on the way in and wondered if we might see him leaving. So after a few minutes, when the main crowd had left, Dominic came out and posed for photos. I would never normally do this but he was there and I was there so I asked and you can see the result...... What a lovely man!
We topped the evening off with drinks and dancing at Ronnie Scott's upstairs bar to recover from all the excitement. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we'd been sitting outside Bar Italia earlier which is opposite Ronnie's and enjoyed great people watching, Soho really is the place for this.
Yesterday I did part one of a photography course using East End markets as a way of learning more about taking shots of people and busy places to give a stronger impression of the character of somewhere. We wandered around Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane and although my photos weren't as good as I'd hoped, it was fun and I'm looking forward to part two next week. Brick Lane had some amazing graffiti and here's one photo that did just about work. It was fun to see the markets on a busy Sunday and we were all tempted by the wonderful food smells and extraordinary bargains- perhaps we will succumb next week.
Had a lovely lunch at Bloody French in Notting Hill - yes it really is called that! We chose the very authentic French Onion Soup and had a good gossip. Notting Hill is packed with high quality and interesting restaurants and I do my very best to work my way through them all!
Bye for now,
24 September 2009
The big events this week included Tent, an design exhibition which was part of the busy London Design Festival. Why 'Tent' you may wonder - Tent is an event consultancy and apparently the guys who run it, started off in a tent in the Kings Road. It was held at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in the East End (no longer a brewery tho') and we had lunch sitting out at Patisserie Valerie on the way. Lots of groovy designs and new designers to chat with but not sure how much of the work would really suit my flat.
London has been jam packed with style this week as we've had London Fashion Week and the Design Festival, both with multiple venues and lots of press attention so there's no excuse for frumpiness or ordinariness but it's a bit hard to keep up with it all.... I'm told that the main fashion statements were ' big curly hair and expensive looking cardigans' so let's see what happens this autumn.
It was BookSlam at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill on Thursday evening with William Boyd reading a fun short story and from his new book, Don Patterson reading rather gloomy poetry(my view but some folk liked it) and Netsayi who is a great singer from Zimbabwe. The Tabernacle site is wonderful and their outside courtyard was humming before it started and here's a photo of it. It's the home of the Notting Hill carnival and is now hosting a wide range of cultural activities and is almost on my door step.
I spent the weekend in Bristol visiting friends, seeing a great up and coming jazz performer called James Morton at the Bebop club in Bristol and visiting the Georgian splendours of Bath. Bath is a lovely city and has wonderful surroundings including Prior Park Gardens where we walked through the dramatic landscaped grounds and sat in the hot sun. Bath is an easy trip out from London and rewards with its beautiful buildings made out of the fabulous golden stone, the Roman Baths which you can tour and then go the spa. There is also the Pump Room where Jane Austen used to take tea and where you can taste the spa waters - not very tasty unfortunately but I'm sure therefore that it does you good, but I just have a cup of tea instead, like Jane!
Bye for now.
21 September 2009
16 September 2009
8 September 2009
This weekend saw some visitors from America who wanted to pack as much in one evening as possible, so I took them up on that challenge. Take a deep breath and here goes...
Early evening dinner at Momo getting the first table after they opened at 6.30. Yummy couscous and tagines with some good Moroccan red wine.
- Off to the theatre to see Mountain Top at the Trafalgar Studios, a two-hander about the last night of Martin Luther King's life. Front row seats meant we were very much in the action including a covering of pillow feathers following an on stage fight! Wonderful play, truly excellent performances and unexpected plot lines. The experience left us buzzing
- Walked through Trafalgar Square to show them the art project One & Other, also known as the Fourth Plinth. We saw 2 of the 2400 people who have one hour on the empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square to do whatever they want (if legal!). These people weren't doing much but good to see public participation and acknowledge the brilliant concept.
- On to Pizza Express Jazz club in Soho for a show - Sarah Gillespie and Gilad Atzmon - he was particularly good managing to play accordion, various sizes of sax and the clarinet. We stayed on for the jam session afterwards and they were set for the night with some great sax players.
- Home! Bit tired but felt we'd squeezed in as much as we could and got some great variety in there too.
Saturday and Sunday were brunch days and walks. Brunch number one was at the Waterway in Little Venice overlooking the canal boats followed by a London Walk around the area. Can't recommend London Walks highly enough, always knowledgeable and entertaining guides give you insights into an area even if you live there. Brunch number two at the Orangery by Kensington Palace which is such a beautiful terrace (see photo) followed by a walk around Hyde Park on another sunny day.
I'm currently battling technology as I can't update the rest of my website (http://www.itsyourlondon.co.uk/) so I'm currently still showing August on the front page which is very frustrating - hoping for progress soon.
Bye for now. Sue
1 September 2009
On the mornings of the event, all starts quietly and then the noise starts to crank up as the parade winds itself around the long route and the sound systems keep moving the volume button to the right. If you want to see the extraordinary bright colours of the parade costumes, smell the wonder of jerk chicken and feel your sternum pulsate to the rhythms, then this is the place for you! Several of my neighbours can't get far enough away as the hundreds of thousands of visitors make it a bit of crush at times but I love it. I really enjoy showing friends around which they appreciate as we pass endless lost people turning maps every which way to find out where on earth they are. The police patiently give directions and brace themselves for the later stages of the event when they have to try and get everyone on their way home after a few beers (the carnival goers that is not the police!).
The next day it's like nothing has happened as the amazing clear up puts us all back to normal and I spend the next day sorting through my photos to keep the few great ones and lose the rather blurry dozens and wonder if my neighbourhood is the same place that hosted the carnival madness.
Not much time in between for restaurants, bars or art etc but local eateries I've frequently this week were: Toms Deli for brunch in their lovely outdoor garden (a rare treat as they normally have a huge queue), and another return to Aphrodite for a pre-carnival fortifier.
One more thing to let you know about was the One Magic Summer event in Trafalgar Square, brought to us by the Mayor's Office (Boris Johnson). Rows of deck chairs in the middle of the square had been set out for anyone to sit in for free and chill out for a few minutes or even hours with entertainment laid on. It was a lovely day when I went down and the whole idea really brought smiles to a lot of people's faces, always a delight to see in a big busy city.
Bye for now.
26 August 2009
We managed 8 shows, a mix of comedy x3, theatre x2 and dance and I squeezed a visit to the Book Festival before they arrived with a friend who lives in Edinburgh. They have about 4 or 5 different festivals all on at the same time so everywhere you turn there is a venue with something interesting showing. The famous Royal Mile running from the castle to Holyrood Palace is full of players persuading you to see their show with flyers and mini performances. It really is a case of so much to see, so little time.......
Back in London we had a visit to Greenwich for the day to see the sights there. The day kicked off with a boat trip from Embankment in the centre out to Greenwich on the super fast Thames Clipper. We wandered around Greenwich,past the Market square through the Royal College and its wonderful baroque Painted Hall to the National Maritime Museum. Lots to see here including Nelson's jacket - the one he was wearing when he took the fatal shot. And yes, there is the bullet hole. On a more modern note, you can drive the simulator and park your ocean liner in Sydney Harbour but take your turn with all the kids!
After lunch at the famous Trafalgar Tavern we walked up to the Observatory to stand on the Meridian at 0.00.00 longitude and take in the spectacular views over London. The film show at the Planetarium was wonderful if a little sleep inducing so we briskly walked back to the river and took the little known pedestrian tunnel under the Thames. Important not to think about the water above you....... A glass of Pimms at Plateau in Canary Wharf topped off a highly recommended day out. Greenwich is not far but feels out of town and we don't go there often enough.
Excitement builds as it's the Notting Hill carnival this weekend and a huge party will be going on all around me. Can't wait!
Bye for now.
20 August 2009
Last week was focused on a business day with 2 Chinese visitors on an It's Your London tour on Friday. They went for the fully accompanied version and we had a fun day (have a look at http://www.itsyourlondon.co.uk/ to see more about the tours). They wanted a full big sights tour so, with the help of our taxi driver, we managed to fit in: Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey (inside too), Downing Street, Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace (inside tour and lunch), Tower of London (inside too) and a drive around the City past St Paul's and we nipped into the Olde Cheshire Cheese for a quick half before finishing with Trafalgar Square. Action packed but not too rushed either. They were lovely people and hopefully my explanation of Henry 8th didn't confuse them too much - all those wives! The sun shone thankfully and the crowds weren't too bad for mid August so I'm looking forward to the next visit.
One other outing worth a mention this week. We went to the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road which is always a delight with its huge seats, foot rests, bar in the cinema and more space around the seat then your own home. It's what all movie going should be. Before the film, a return visit to El Pirata de Tapas on Westbourne Grove to have another tasty meal before strolling round to the cinema. That's the beauty of Notting Hill - loads of good stuff all close by.
Bye for now. Am off to Edinburgh for the Fringe to catch some comedy and theatre. It's all go.....
10 August 2009
Culturally this week's highlight was a ticket for Streetcar Named Desire starring Rachel Weisz at the Donmar Warehouse. Strong performances in a small venue made for powerful theatre. A warm evening helped give some idea of a steamy New Orleans night and cocktails after at the Covent Garden Hotel with 2 funny barmen made for an excellent evening's entertainment.
Saturday saw several hours whiled away in Hyde Park starting with a visit to the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery which is based on inflatable beach toys, odd but amusing. The reflecting outdoor pavilion at the Gallery, this year's winning commission for the annual temporary structure, was strangely calming. The park itself was full of people sitting, picnicing, boating, playing games and enjoying the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, now run by the Benugo group which has upped the quality so we joined them there for a snack and a Pimms.
More entertainment came in the form of a live band at Charlotte Street Blues bar. They were good but I'd definitely call them rock not blues, still live music is a treat in a small venue so no harm done, except for any die hard blues fans who'd have felt rather cheated!
One bar to sign off with...... Albertine's in Shepherd's Bush has been there for many years (19 to my knowledge) and is just what a wine bar should be: no nonsense, reliable good and a lots of choice of wine, good food without being fussy or taking over and it doesn't change apart from the odd lick of paint. Long may it last!
Bye for now.
3 August 2009
On the unusual theme, I spent 2 evenings on a jewellery making course and came home with a pair of earrings and 2 rings made of silver wire and beads. London's colleges offer an unbelievable range of courses for adults to try our hands at new skills. I wasn't that good so won't be back for more but being able to have 2 evenings of tasters was just great and my masterpieces are definitely wearable if not brilliant!
It was Ealing Jazz Festival and on Saturday evening we popped in, gave them our £1 and saw 2 great bands. Yes, that was £1 - the best value in town. The Township Comets featuring Pinise Saul had great African sounds particularly from the singer. This was followed by Liz Fletcher and her band, again a great singer with strong instrumental back up. This event's been going for 25 years and never fails to provide excellent music in large circus style tents with a programme spread over 5 days. You can sit outside the tents during the day and picnic or just lay around and listen to the varied jazz styles. It's an important part of the summer for west Londoners and I used to be one.
Before I close, one restaurant to mention. Annie's down by the river in Chiswick is a beautifully decorated converted Victorian house with tables on 2 floors and outside on the street. Sumptuous is a word that crops in their reviews for their decor and is very apt and the brasserie style food was lovely including the seasonal special of lobster which I couldn't resist and the cocktails slipped down easily as well.
Bye til next week.
29 July 2009
Life in London's been busy and topped by a giant cupcake which was sighted in Covent Garden as a special guest at their regular Thursday real food market. How big you ask, well it was 2 metres by 1.25 metres and was big enough to offer over 2000 people a decent sized slice, brought to them by Culinary Olympic winner Michelle Wibowo. I saw it, it was huge and took forever to cut up.
More cerebral delights were tucked away in the massive Westfield shopping centre in small Getty Images collection of glorious celebrity photographs by Terry O'Neill. From Paul Newman and Lee Marvin's publicity shots to the casual snap of the Rolling Stones in a BBC canteen, they were arresting photos.
One local monthly event for us Notting Hill-ers is Book Slam which moved venue for July so had to be checked out. Book Slam is a live event and mixes poetry, book reading and music. We dropped into the Tabernacle, the new venue and also home of Notting Hill carnival, to see a performance poet (Luke Wright) and the novelist David Nicholls. We gave the new venue the thumbs up and even bought the book as it was signed and the reading had got us hooked.
I can't end without a mention of a restaurant or bar and for this blog it's the Champagne Bar at St Pancras International which makes a fitting start to any Eurostar train trip to Paris. It's the longest champagne bar in Europe and for those who have to ask the question - there is no clear answer to who holds the world award! From the bar you can enjoy St Pancras which has been renovated to become a wonderful and beautiful station.
londonliving blog will be coming to you on a weekly basis from now on as there is just too much to fit in each fortnight and I'll be able to do every entry a bit more justice. Hope you're enjoying it so far.
Bye for now.
13 July 2009
The heatwave is also behind us but not before we enjoyed drinks in my garden until midnight in short sleeves - what a treat. Now we have sunshine with passing showers but easily good enough for an outdoor BBQ on Friday.
On Saturday evening we went to see something amazing. Sadler's Wells was the venue for Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray, a retelling of Oscar Wilde's gothic fable through dance. The fluidity of movement, the seductive choreography, the stunning elegance, the driving music, all came together in a fabulous experience. The dancers must be from another planet compared with us earth bound mortals. They lead us through the glorious rise and then the fall into decay of an advertising made 'It Boy'.
On a sombre note, last week saw the unveiling in Hyde Park of the memorial to the 52 people who were killed by terrorist bombs in London on 7th July 2005. There are 52 tall stainless steel pillars, one for each person, grouped into four sections which represent the four locations of the bombs. It's a public space and you can walk among the pillars and reflect on the loss, as the many visitors were doing when I was there. Very fitting.
For Sports fans, cricket has taken over and the 2nd match in the 5 match series called 'The Ashes' of England v Australia will start in London on Thursday. This is at Lord's cricket ground the home of cricket, by Regents Park. I won't even try to explain cricket to those not brought up with it but as a major sporting event it's great fun as the rivalry is intense. Not looking that good for England after the first match ....
A couple of restaurants to mention before I sign off. Launceston Place in Kensington for lunch was lovely, we had the set menu but they added in a couple of extra taster dishes, a pre-starter and pre-dessert which always cheers the diner up. The staff were charming and its conventional look is dignified without being stuffy. In contrast was Crazy Homies in Notting Hill, a very lively Mexican restaurant with loud music and wacky decorations. Good food, good service and a fun atmosphere has put this onto the list of local favourites.
30 June 2009
And still the heat goes on....
It's Henry V111 year as it's 500 years since he came to the throne and there are all kinds of events and exhibitions to visit to learn about this monarch who changed the course of our history. We visited Hampton Court and as well as getting lost in the famous maze (but finally found the centre to claim our sticker!) we joined Henry and his courtiers for pre-wedding drinks and a lively chat about his life and thoughts about wives! Henry was married, well one of his 6 weddings, at Hampton Court and there are re-enactments of the preparations and the wedding for visitors to join in and even Tudor dress to wear as you go round. It's great fun and part of a very entertaining day out in this grand palace.
I was very happy to see Michael Palin in a one off charity show at the O2 arena entitled '20 years of jokes and 20 years of comedy', a treat for travellers and Monty Python fans alike. What a lovely man. The O2 is an amazing building designed as a huge tent and features in Casino Royale for those who know their James Bond films.
One of my visitors staying in Notting Hill wanted to try an English pub so we went to The Cow, known for its sea food. The menu offered 'whelks and winkles' so we decided to boldly go. I retreated to the Pimms as this went down much easier but, for the brave, this dish is really something to remember! Pimms is the classic English summer drink, refreshing but a little bit stronger than it seems.
One more unusual London experience worth telling you all about are the 30 pianos out on the streets all across London, for anyone to sit at and play, as part of Luke Jerram's Play Me I'm Yours artwork. I found one in Notting Hill being played rather well by students whose days mission was to give a short rendition on each of the 30 pianos for Cancer Research, a huge effort on such a hot day.
Yes, it's still hot...
17 June 2009
My blog will now be posted fortnightly so hopefully you won't have the mammoth sized May one to plough through again! What are these blogs going to be about? Mostly what I've been doing in London and if there's something great that's been happening which I somehow missed, I'll add that in too. Hope you enjoy it - let me know!
First 2 weeks of June
You have to love the contrasts in London life. One day watching the ballet Ondine on a big screen in Trafalgar Square being beamed live from the Royal Opera House - all restrained elegance and passion. Another day at the Shepherds Bush Empire watching Katy Perry's show - all energy and bounce, nothing restrained at all.
More energy on show with the quick thinking gang at the Sunday show at the Comedy Store where their amazing improvisation leaves you feeling very slow. Good to see Paul Merton still does this show despite all his TV and Radio appearances. A great end to a weekend.
Had fun at 'First Thursday' which is the once a month late opening of a whole lot of small and very groovy art galleries in the East End. We started at the newly refurbished Whitechapel Gallery which is highly recommended, except for the one painting that makes your eyes go really funny. In Vyner Street there about 10 galleries and we joined the flow of people going in and out of all the venues and stopping at the pub on the corner. It's all a brilliant chance for new art lovers (and the curious among us) to see a great range of stuff all at once.
As we were out in the east of London, we went on to the Boundary restaurant which has a lovely roof top bar - complete with heaters, blankets and an outdoor grill. It was hard to walk past all the Indian restaurants in Brick Lane but rooftop bars are so tempting!
This brings me onto restaurants and those who read May's blog will know I'm a big fan of eating out. There are so many place to go in London that it's hard to find the time to return old favourites but Aphrodite in Notting Hill is one I keep going back to. It's a wonderful neighbourhood Greek with the friendliest staff and owner possible.
New ones that have been tested out were: La Fromagerie in Marylebone and the Notting Hill Tandoori in - well you can guess! La Fromagerie has a handful of tables in the middle of a drooling food shop where the cheeses are so strong and well thought of that they shut them away in a special room! Notting Hill Tandoori gave us great Indian food served by a charming waiter and if you are a fan of breads, I recommend their parathas.
Andy Murray won at Queens tennis - first Brit for 71 years and I missed it, only saw it on TV! It's Wimbledon soon and the excitement and expectation are mounting. There's world cricket in town as well, tho' sadly England didn't do too well. Royal Ascot this week - all hats and royals. It must be summer with all this sport.
We 've had some lovely sunshine and a little bit of rain so the flowers and trees are in bloom and leaf and London is full of life and colour. Wish you were here? Well, come and visit!
Oops - sorry, this seems to have been as long as May's blog. There's just so much happening.......
31 May 2009
We love May in London - it's when the sun comes out and we have not 1 but 2 public holidays so we get to spend more time having a good time.
I've been trying out some great restaurants - Dehesa, Terroirs and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - all recommended and showcasing the current welcome trend of grazing/small plates. More traditional new restaurant was Chor Bizarre and also The Real Greek out at the new huge shopping centre called Westfield, so many shops so little time!
The Globe Theatre has seen a couple of visits from me - once to an amazing modern play called The Frontline which was a blast of energy on stage. And once to their lovely bar and restaurant called Swan at the Globe where we wiled away a very long lunch looking over the Thames to St Paul's dome on another sunny day.
It's been a good month for theatre with some big hitters on stage like Gillian Anderson, Judy Dench and we are waiting for Jude Law to bring us his Hamlet. I went to see When the Rain Stops with less well known players but still a good night out at the Almeida theatre, combined with a drink at the restaurant of the same name opposite.
May also saw a visit to the Jazz Cafe to see the wonderful Mali guitarist Vieux Farka Toure who put on a great show for us on my birthday - thanks Vieux!
And there's more.... Bookslam this month hosted David Simon of the Wire fame, reading from one of his books. Bookslam is a fun and funky event of poetry, music and book readings held in a night club. A very different feel was the Conspiracy Theories talk from David Aaronovitch in the fabulous surroundings of the Miller's Academy club.
Well that was May in London, well just the highlights but it certainly was fun.