28 February 2010

Here comes the sun!

It's March 1st, St David's Day (patron saint of Wales) and the sun has finally burst through after a seemingly endless winter of snow and rain. Optimism returns!

I'm still recovering from the big Africa trip and one annoying follow on from a great holiday can be the post return bug and I got a humdinger! So I've been stuck in a lot of the week so this blog will be a little thinner than usual but next week's looking good already.

I sneaked out to one of my favourite shops in London, the Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill - yes the travel bookshop from the film 'Notting Hill'. Well, the one it was based on - for real film buffs, the interior to exterior shots were filmed around the corner on Portobello Road itself and the interior shots were done in a studio but when you go into the shop it certainly has the feel of the real thing. As a travel bookshop it's lovely and I rarely get out without a purchase as they have wonderful guide books and broader travel literature and even great CDs. They've just started a series of evening talks so we went to see Hugh Thomson reading from his book 'Tequila Oil Getting Lost in Mexico' and telling us a bit about how the book came about. Really interesting and entertaining and the title refers to a rather evil sounding drink which I will be avoiding for sure... And of course, here's a snapshot of the exterior of this famous shop much photographed by visitors.

A local gallery, The Muse, were having a preview evening for Justin Piperger's new works including cartoons, bold colours and some more functional pieces with household objects in his paintings such as clocks and tea towel holders. It brightened up a rainy evening of which there have been rather too many of late so we are all looking forward to the start of March. Apparently Justin will be painting in the gallery a couple of days a week, so I might just pop in and see how he works.

The Noisettes played at the Roundhouse this weekend and it was a show of huge energy and fun. This fabulous venue has great sound and the Noisettes' lead singer Shingai Shoniwa is an amazingly stylish, eccentric, talented and friendly performer (see slightly blurred photo) and the show was a burst of sunshine on a Sunday evening. The show was sold out and the floor was jumping!

Bye for now,


22 February 2010

Lovely to be home despite the cold!

Well hello! I'm back home after nearly a month in southern Africa and seem to have forgotten that it's still winter here. My friend who lives about 50 miles away couldn't come and visit today as Oxfordshire is snowed in! I've got used to 30 degree heat so am staying indoors...

A couple of London things to report on since my return in the middle of last week and then a quick trot through my trip for those who might be interested.

This weekend saw the culmination of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year as we moved into the year of the Tiger. Central London was awash with red lanterns and huge crowds enjoying the sights, sounds and food on offer and all things Chinese. It was great to see so many people enjoying the day and plenty of Chinese people as well as locals and tourists. A few photos to give a feel of the day:

Food and drink have been a priority since my return and Friday evening was a lovely meal at Brasserie Max in the Covent Garden Hotel. Buzzy and at times a bit noisy which drowned out some of my endless holiday stories, perhaps that was the plan! Sunday evening was an engagement party at the Oxo Tower top floor bar with it's amazing views along the Thames. Generous amounts of champagne were served and I recommend it for a bash.

So on to the Africa trip - in brief. It was a brilliant overland adventure from Cape Town to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side) taking in Namibia and Botswana on the way, in a safari truck called Otiz. Everything from Cape Town's Robben Island and all that awful but ultimately uplifting history, to elephants in our path, lions at a kill, quad bikes on the dunes and white water rafting equally in the water in the boat! We travelled 5,000 kms by road, light plane, bikes, boats, canoes, helicopters and by foot. We boiled and sweated, got sun and wind burnt, got bounced and bruised and wouldn't have missed it for the world. The camera broke on day one but I indulged in the new Lumix so was happy if rather poorer. A few pictures of course but where to start and how to stop?

Next week it'll be back to normal blog-wise as the sun tan fades and as I return to bringing you the best that London has to offer.

Bye for now,