30 June 2009

Heatwave in London!

The last 2 weeks of June saw a couple of unusual events - a British player doing well at Wimbledon and temperatures hitting the 30s (90s)! To make the most of both I headed off to Wimbledon on Monday to see Andy Murray play on the centre court with the roof closed for the first time and play went on to a very untraditional 10.39 pm. Nails were bitten, eyes were hidden behind hands, Mexicans were waved and in end Andy prevailed and we breathed again. This being England, the fans are planning to queue for 2 days to catch his next encounter!

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

June fun.....

Hello readers,

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.......