Off to Africa!

I’m off to Africa for a few weeks so blogs for a while will depend on the availability of internet cafes and enough spare time in our very busy trip to post anything. I’ll do my best but who knows….

It’s been a short week since my last blog so just a few things to report on. One was a visit to La Sauterelle restaurant in the Royal Exchange. We took advantage of the Evening Standard special offer and treated ourselves. It’s a lovely restaurant in an amazing setting and you can see both the outside and inside on these photos. The Royal Exchange now houses up-market shops and the ground floor bar as well as the restaurant. Fascinating fact time – why is it called La Sauterelle ? This is French for grasshopper which is in the crest of Sir Thomas Gresham who founded the original Royal Exchange and you can see one in the weather vane on top of the building.

I wrote about my art tour last week with Artfeelers and this week their had their official launch party out in Hackney in a pop up shop turned gallery. The artist Piero Arico had been living in the gallery (literally as he’s been sleeping in a cupboard) and making a huge painting – if that’s the right word – on the walls of the shop. He has incorporated his own designs and ideas and built in comments, stories and contributions from anyone passing by and visiting the shop. 2 photos to give you an idea of the evening – one of the art work and one of us all spilling out onto the street.

The rest of the week has been coffees with friends and colleagues before my holiday and a lovely meal at Cafe Boheme in Soho. I’ve been going there for years and it never disappoints – good French style food and I treated myself to steak frites bernaise with pear tarte tatin and it was as good as ever. They have a lively bar as well so worth a visit for drinks or food.
One more thing to mention on the theme of pop up shops is the Marmite shop on Regents Street. It’s gone now but it was fun tho I know, as the advert says, you either love it or hate it. They had great displays and lovely merchandise, even if it was a bit pricey. There was a small cafe for those who wanted to know what the stuff tastes like or were having withdrawal symptoms. How about these marmite bottles?
Well, I’d better return to the packing and will be in touch soon.
Bye for now,
Sue

Bye bye snow… we think..

It was a strange week of contrasts in London weather wise and hopefully this will be the last weather report for a while as we’ve all got a bit more obsessed by it than usual! On Tuesday/Wednesday we had loads of snow, more than before, and here’s a picture of my garden to give you an idea of how it looked and how dark it was! Sadly my photography course in the London Wetland Centre of all places (!)was cancelled due to the snow but hopefully will be rearranged soon. By the weekend we were submerged by rain and then on Sunday at last, the sun came out. Perhaps more snow to come this week – enough! Today is grey and officially the gloomiest day of the year and we are all supposed to be at our lowest ebb, so I hope you are all feeling ok!

So, what to do to cheer ourselves up? I took an art tour in the east of London with a company called Artfeelers run by the wonderfully enthusiastic and knowledgeable Claire Flannery. A group of 8 of us set off with Claire to see some of the less well known galleries showing contemporary art around Bethnal Green and Claire introduced us to the artists. We went at our own pace and we had the chance to talk about the art as well as have great input from Claire. Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of our walk: a fabulous squirrel on the wall (and a one with Claire!) Then we have a wonderful bookshop and gallery called Kaleid where beautiful artists’ books are lovingly displayed along with large pieces as you can see on the wall behind the table. We went to A Foundation which had an interesting range of work, including this fabulous gold helmet, displayed in this wonderful airy white space. Finally onto Caveman Bob, a video piece of a cave where a man lives with a narration of his world in the cave. The whole thing is set in a container and the interior is cave like – amazing…. (Also visited but not photographed was Martin Sexton’s gallery)

The whole tour takes a couple of hours and I recommend going along to see new stuff in good company. http://www.artfeelers.com/ for more info.

Regular readers of this blog will know about BookSlam, a monthly night of fun in Notting Hill with book readings, performance poetry and music. This month’s was not a vintage for us as the book was heroin chic and the poetry was a bit all over the place but the singer was wonderful and worth watching out for in the future, Josephine Cnyama from Manchester has a great voice and good songs.

Restaurants to let you know about include Langtry’s where the history of the place was the key feature. Lily Langtry has an amazing story which saw her rise from an educated vicar’s daughter from Jersey to London socialite, to Prince of Wales’s mistress and an actress who took America by storm. She lived at 21 Pont Street from 1892-1897 in the Cadogan Hotel which now houses Langtry’s restaurant. As if that wasn’t enough for one hotel, Oscar Wilde was arrested in room 118 in 1895 meaning that he may have been arrested when she was staying there – what a night!

Back to the current times, we also popped into one of the many Persian restaurants in around Paddington. This one, Sadaf on Westbourne Grove, serves the typical stews and kebabs and has the tough task of taking over from one of my favourite restaurants (a Lebanese called El Fairuz) and sadly is not quite as good.

I’m caught up with plans to visit Africa as I go on Saturday for a 3 week overland trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. Can’t wait but loads to do….. So one more blog then I’m off.

Bye for now,
Sue