18 July 2011

Outdoors London: going to the ball and a huge flower show!

It's mid July and outdoors London is in full swing even if the weather is not keeping up but I'm hopeful it will improve very soon. I was at 2 major outdoors event last week - a live screening in Trafalgar Square from the Royal Opera House and Hampton Court Flower Show - both good fun and luckily we escaped without getting rained on at all!

A really big screen was put up overnight in Trafalgar Square for a live screening of Massenet's Cendrillon (or Cinderella as we know her) from the Royal Opera House. This was in panto style with great costumes, sung in French with subtitles. Although it would be wonderful to be in the Opera House, the outdoor version does have 2 great advantages: it's free as the Opera House can be very pricey; and, as it's televised you get some great close ups. They followed the story pretty closely and in the tradition of panto the principal male role was played by a woman which was rather strange as it resulted in soprano wooing soprano, where the spoken voice is less obvious, this was unexpected especially as the Prince looked like a young KD Lang!
The Square was completely packed with a lively crowd all sitting on the hard floor but eased by free blow up cushions courtesy of the sponsor BP. We enjoyed the show and look forward to next year already.
Photos take us through the first half of the event as we saw them on the screen (with Nelson's Column in the background): the intro from Deborah Bull with crowd in the Square behind her; the ugly sisters before and after they are dressed up for the royal ball; our first view of miserable Cinders who has to stay home; Cinders and the Fairy Godmother after she has waved her wand; the wonderful carriage with horses (Carosse in French); Cinders arrives at the ball in her dazzling white dress while everyone else is in red; and, finally, the first kiss.

Hampton Court Flower Show is a major annual event in the gardening calendar and also for those who like a good day out! We were kindly invited by friends who had a stall in the massive Country Life tent where you could buy a huge range of lovely things - none more so than on their stall of course - Floreat was best! This show is absolutely enormous and you could spend all day walking round without going back on yourself and some of the tents were the size of the centre court at Wimbledon! We saw show gardens, amazing flower displays, everything you could ever need in your garden, and everything you will never need in your garden! As we were there on the last day, there were great bargains to be had as they began to close up and they pulled the show gardens and sold the plants off for a few pounds. As a result people were struggling out with huge plants and it's a long way to the car or train station so goodness knows what state the plants and their owners would be in by the time they got home!
Photos show: Hampton Court's Long Walk with tents all around; flower displays; a garlic garden(!) ; fabulous colours x2; blue and white agapanthus; and, a cactus garden, looking a bit like a cake stall!

Bye for now, Sue

http://www.itsyourlondon.co.uk/ @itsyourlondon

5 July 2011

Hyde Park, a great place on a Sunday morning..

It's summer in London, it's a lovely Sunday morning, my sponsored half marathon is looming so what could be better than a full circuit of Hyde Park? It turned out to be an excellent idea and I zoomed round taking in all the sights in no time.
I saw the work going on to completely reinvigorate Kensington Palace and give it a grand garden entrance; the wonderful formal fountains on the north side of the park; people take a horse ride around the park, those jogging and more unusually those ski-ing! The Horse Guards were returning to their barracks and the Albert Hall and Albert Memorial were looking at their best. The photo in the order listed here and you can see what a wonderful morning it was!

After completing a full circuit I decided to treat myself to a visit to the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Each year this fine gallery holds a competition for the best design for its summer outdoor pavilion - this year's competition was won by Peter Zumthor, a Swiss architect, with his design Hortus Conclusus, meaning Enclosed Garden. It has a plain dark exterior with several doors through to an interior garden and cafe via interior dark passageways. The garden is conceived as a peaceful place which is enclosed and protected. The cafe bustle somewhat disturbs the peace but it is an impressive and interesting structure. Here are some photos: of the Serpentine Gallery itself; the Pavilion exterior with people entering and a view taken further back to give more perspective; and, the interior garden.

London has great night life so I should mention a visit to a venue completely new to me - the Bush Hall in west London. As part of the inaugural London Blues Festival Ray Gelato was playing a set here and it was a great night. Ray was born close by but has had a long and illustrious career playing with many bands as well as his own Giants so he can put on a really fun show as the singing and saxophone playing lead man in a band with plenty of good brass. The hall itself is a star - a small ex theatre decorated in a wonderful Victorian music hall style and I'll definitely keep my eyes open for future events there.

Bye for now