22 November 2010

Loving the Victoria and Albert.....

This week's blog has a peek inside the V&A, the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of London's great treasures. They have a few different sites but the one in South Kensington is the leading one. They tell us that it is 'one of the world's greatest museums of art and design with collections unrivalled in scope and diversity' and who am I to disagree! You can explore 3,000 years of amazing artefacts across such a range of media from fashion textiles, carpets, glass, ceramics, metalwork, photography, paintings, jewellery and more.... They have special exhibitions but the permanent rooms are extraordinary especially the rooms of statues and the cast room where the casts include huge Roman columns - have a look at the 2 photos of these. One item I can't photograph is the Ardabil carpet that is only lit for 10 minutes per hour because it is so delicate. This carpet dates from 1539/40 and is one of the oldest dated carpets and one of the finest in the world The outside of the building is impressive and an elaborate glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly hits you as soon as you enter as do the V&A monograms in the marble staircases. They even have a courtyard with a pond to splash in (best if you are under 10 years old tho') and several cafes to rest the weary sightseeing bones in and refresh yourself. Enjoy the photos and book yourself a visit. It's free and will delight any visitor - there really is something for everyone.

Don't you think Sundays, when the weather is getting chilly and a bit wet, are just made for a great big roast lunch? This week we went to Rosa's in Notting Hill where the roast beef with roast potatoes, parsnips and a yorkshire pudding was absolutely excellent. Followed up with apple crumble and clotted cream made this the perfect Sunday lunch - if a little too filling for me! It's a little place with a lovely local feel - have a look for yourselves and give it a try!

We went to the Lonsdale bar, also in Notting Hill, for a quiz night which was great fun despite the fact that we did not manage to win - not sure how that happened! The quiz master was comedian and actor (Torchwood for those fans among you) Tom Price who was very funny and a great host. I'll be definitely be back for more, the quizzes are every 3rd Wednesday of the month so pop that in your diary and check them out!

Bye for now,

17 November 2010

Lord Mayor's Show in London since 1189!

Winter is really on its way now and it's gone rather cold on us but there's plenty of indoor stuff to do in London and those from northerly climes would not even call this cold - you need just wrap up warmly and walk briskly and you are fine!

Last Saturday was the annual Lord Mayor's show which has been held in some form or other since 1189 making it the world's oldest civic procession and in all that time it has only missed one year, in 1852, for Wellington's funeral! The parade was huge with the armed forces, the guilds of the City of London, businesses and a mix of people on foot, on horseback, in grand carriages, vintage vehicles and even in a massive piece of farm equipment - no idea what that was called.... I went to see this at Mansion House where there was a grandstand for presenting arms to the Lord Mayor and these arms were muskets presented by Civil War soldiers. The Mayor-ship (I doubt that's the right term!) is a one year appointment so each year this event celebrates the new person taking office. The was a sense of fun running through the parade with many of the serious looking gents in carriages waving hand puppets around! There were huge crowds enjoying the parade who all wandered over to the Thames to ooh and aah at the spectacular fireworks. A great day out for all and all free which is a great bonus with all the talk of cuts at the moment. The photos show the parade, the toys (can you spot the glove puppet sheep?), real dogs and dog costumes from the PDSA charity, the Lord Mayor waving from his carriage and one firework shot across the Thames to St Pauls.

It was a big week for those of us in the travel industry as the World Travel Market arrived in force taking up the whole of the massive Excel Centre in east London. There were fancy stands from every country in the world and some seemed as big as a country! There was so much to see and people to catch up with that it was exhausting but it's a major event in the industry year so great to be there. A few photos just for fun - Paddington continues the soft toys theme, the komodo dragon made me look twice and the Korean stand saved me by serving very tasty lunch!

It was a delight to show a visiting American around London and we wandered our way through the tried and tested favourites: Downing Street, Big Ben, Thames Cruise and British Museum. I never tire of these....

Just one more thing to squeeze into this week's jumbo photo blog was a charity event at Mary Portas Giving and Living shop on Westbourne Grove. It was the kick off for their online auction of Killer Heels against Killer Diseases and they have gathered designer shoes - Manolos, Westwoods and Choos - and donations from famous locals - Pixie Lott, Nigella, Jonathan Ross etc. So we viewed the shoes over a glass of bubbly, with many of the clever window display you can see on the photo, and decided which ones to bid for. Great idea Mary!

Bye for now,

9 November 2010

Scarey Jack the Ripper...

I had some visitors from Texas who wanted to do a Jack the Ripper tour so much they even booked it before they came to London. We had an afternoon tour and the Jack the Ripper and it was properly scary. We met up for our tour just outside Whitechapel Gallery in the East End and set off in the dark with our wonderful guide. She was from the East End and was a real expert on the topic who researches 'Jack' every day so she knows everything there is to know it seems and has her own theory as to who he was. She led us around the sites of the murders for an engrossing two and a half hour tour full of stories about the era, giving us lots of context. It was a very tough area at the time with people living incredibly hard lives and especially the women who were driven to drink and life on the streets. She warned us and then came the grisly details of the murders and even photos of the victims, but these were optional! It was not the sort of thing I would usually do as I'm not keen on the horror stuff but our guide was so knowledgeable that the time just flew by. No photos of this tour as it was a very dark night!

The afternoon before Jack saw a great Indian lunch of very tasty curries at Tayyabs near Whitechapel, a wander up Brick Lane dropping into a wonderful bright cloth shop with such cheery staff, a quick shopping trip in Spitalfields and a nip to the Tate Modern to show them the wonderful Sunflower Seeds by Ai Wei Wei (see blog from 22nd October). We spent time admiring the night lights over the Thames and it was a great photo opportunity. What an afternoon and evening - we all enjoyed it and loved packing so much in.

The run up to Christmas has started and you'll be seeing the lights and the shops in future blogs but the big Spirit of Christmas Fair took place in Olympia this week. I was helping out a friend who had a stall and we spent a day selling lovely Xmas decorations and high quality candles. It was a busy day and we did well - I thought so anyway! You can see the Olympia room which is great and our very special stall before the customers emptied it.... I treated myself to a proper visit the following day to start my own present shopping as there was no time when we were working to leave the stall even for a minute!

Then there was one wonderful autumn day out which started in my garden where the Japanese maple was brighter than ever (the close up photo), then we set off for a great Portobello market day. The sun was catching the buildings beautifully with more flaming trees. Lunch was taken at the Electric Brasserie as it's so hard not too and we had to dodge the cameras filming the Channel 4 programme Seven Days so watch out for me passing quickly by! The leaves have nearly gone but it was a bright and vibrant autumn to remember.
Bye for now,