28 December 2009

New Year here we come....

I hope you all had a happy Christmas. I was with family in Kent but managed to squeeze in a few London things around the festivities to tell you about and have a few more Christmassy photos of course.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park was lovely and worth a good few photos. It is a big funfair full of rides and loads of Germanic stalls selling all kinds of stuff - food and gifts. Unfortunately I've not yet mastered posting videos on here so you'll just have the photo of the moose and will miss his lovely singing of Silent Night which was hilarious!

One hotel worth a mention for their Christmas decorations is the Mandarin
Oriental in Knightsbridge - just an iPhone photo so not as clear as others but you'll get the idea of how lovely it looked.
I went to see Avatar in 3D on a huge screen at the Odeon Leicester Square. It was an amazing visual treat and tho' very long, it sped past. I'm not a great fan of 3D as it gives me a headache but for the flying scenes in particular, the high speed vertical drops it made the experience completley breathtaking. Treat yourself to a big screen if you are going to see it.
Also managed to squeeze in a restaurant trip which saw us at Kitchen W8 in Kensington. It was really good - the room, the service , the food and the extra little extra bits in the form of amuse bouche and great truffles with coffee, all came together for a lovely evening. We took the Time Out special offer which was amazing value at about £20 for 3 courses and the kind waiter hurried us along politely as I'd not noticed the offer ended at 7pm and we just managed to order at 6.59!
I wish you all a fun New Year's eve and all the best for 2010.
Bye for now.

21 December 2009

Merry Christmas....everyone!

Last week's theatrical theme carried on into this week with 2 more stage based evenings. One was high octane A list as we got much sought after tickets for the Misanthrope starring Keira Knightley and Damian Lewis. An excellent expose of shallow lives in rhyming couplets. The second visit was the local pantomine (oh no it wasn't!!) which was performed with gusto and enthusiasm and the chaos on stage only added to the fun. We had the chance to sing along Slade's 'Merry Christmas ..everyone' which really put us in the festive mood. It was directed by Alfie Allen, brother of Lily Allen who I went to see in concert at the Brixton 02 Academy a few days after so it was a family week and their Dad was at Lily's show. It was a snowy night but worth the effort to see her perform what she said will be her last show but let's hope not.

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.

Bye for now.

14 December 2009

All the week's a stage

Life goes in cycles I find and I'm in a wonderful theatre cycle at the moment with 3 plays this week and one tonight which will be in next week's blog. I'll go through them as they fell during the week so we can have some photos on the way.

Monday was the Tricycle Theatre (cycles eh!) to see Kwame Kwei-Armah's new play called 'Seize the Day' about the possible election of London's first black mayor. Hopefully that won't be too long coming.

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.

Wednesday was music night with great performances from Rebecca Poole and the Cazalets (separately) at the Tabernacle. Always good to see live bands. Rebecca has a great jazz voice but was also doing more rocky numbers this week. The after show drinks at Ravenous were fun too, one of those indoors/outdoors late night venues.... Thursday we were back at the theatre to see 'Sirens' at the Canal Cage Theatre. This is a small venue with a 3 hander play with musicians which a friend was producing and it was really well done with strong performances and of course great producing!

Friday was fun with a tour around London in a bright red original Mini thanks to Oli and Robert of Small Car Big City. We zipped around the West End in style with a fun commentary as well. Thanks guys and here you are in the photo!

The big one play-wise was 'Inherit the Wind' at the Old Vic starring Kevin Spacey which was fabulous. The huge cast, the beautiful set, the brilliant performances and the sharp and witty script. Seats just 5 rows from the stage added to the fun. I've had a very Darwin themed 12 months starting with a trip to the Galapagos and since then I've been to various exhibitions and now a play about how his theories have stirred up the world.

Last week I promised you photos of Christmassy cheer so here is one of the windows at Selfridges department store who are famous for their beautiful and elaborate windows and have a team working on them all year to prepare for our delight. 2009's theme is pantomime and here is 'boo hiss' with a fabulous pantomime dame.

No time for food and drink this week so back to restaurant and bar reviews next time!
Bye for now,

6 December 2009

Christmas is coming.....

Christmas is most definitely coming and it's time to get out and attack that present list. London is looking beautiful with all the lights and decorated shop windows, so I'll be posting a couple of photos each week in December and you can see for yourselves. Even better, why not squeeze in a visit to London or plan to come next year? On the left is the huge Santa's Grotto at the massive Westfield shopping centre - shopping heaven or shopping hell, up to you! On the right is a very 60s style Carnaby Street, naturally, where peace and love are the festive theme and very much in keeping with the street's history as the centre of groovy London.

It was World Aids Day on Tuesday and London did its bit to raise awareness with gatherings, pop up shops for fund raising, church services and the most visible sign was the London Eye which turned itself red and was a really spectacular sight. We all stopped, stared, thought about the message and took our photos.

One of the big exhibitions in town at the moment is Moctezuma Aztec Ruler at the British Museum. You can see amazing artefacts from his rule and find out his story especially the momentous year following the Spanish landing through to the defeat of his empire. I loved the turquoise mask and serpent and thought the historical explanations well written. The British Museum is one of the most beautiful buildings in London both outside and inside. The photo on the left shows the classic exterior and the other is of the amazing covered court with the historic library in the curved central building. There is so much to see in the museum that it would take a whole blog to do it any justice but its newest exhibit is a few pieces from the recent Anglo Saxon find in Staffordshire. There are gold fixings from swords dating back to the 600s AD with beautiful workmanship and inlaid garnets. It's incredible to think someone found the full hoard of over 1500 pieces laying in the ground just a few months ago. I'm returning to the British Museum next week so will report on more of its wonderful exhibits .

My restaurant of the week is Polpo, a Venetian wine bar on the edge of Soho near Carnaby Street. It's a busy place and they don't take advance bookings so we had a quick drink nearby before claiming our table. They have a tapas style approach and I recommend their pork belly with mushrooms and radicchio and the wonderful roast rosemary potatoes, washed down with a good strong red wine. We stayed on beyond the lunchtime rush and it was lovely as the afternoon light faded outside, it's cosy with a casual dining area and seating at the bar on stools. It has that classic 'distressed' look and is hugely popular.
Bar of the week was in the Courthouse Hotel, which lives up to its name and has many of its original features including 3 former cells in the bar area which you can sit in (with the door open!) complete with the cell toilet but for decorative purposes only now. Oscar Wilde and Mick Jaggar spent some time here but before the cells became part of the bar sadly for them!

Must be off shopping for presents....
Bye for now.