Four seasons in one day time of year

It’s May and we’ve had sun, warmth, rain and chills already but the blossom is out and if you can dodge the rain and keep a scarf to hand it’s looking beautiful. Here’s a photo of Westbourne Grove at its finest and I’ll spare you the shots of the rain! The May gathering of narrow boats at Little Venice was a victim of the weather but was still very jolly and the photo attached is – I have to admit – from last year’s event but it looked just the same this year apart from the sun when we popped in for a look this morning! It’s a wonderful sight right in the middle of London.

My visitors over the weekend wanted something a bit different in terms of exhibitions so we set off to Somerset House for their River Sounding installation and the Pick Me Up Graphics Fair. Bill Fontana’s River Sounding is a really unusual and fun experience. It’s a sound installation and as you walk around the subterranean storage areas and alleys under Somerset House sounds of the River Thames follow you giving an atmospheric feel whether there is a picture projected onto the old brickwork or just a passageway to walk through. These areas are normally closed to the public so it was fun to explore them. A few photos may help – a couple of the projected images and a view of the passageway so just image watery noises to accompany them!

Somerset House’s Pick Me Up Graphics Fair was a show of new work and also a chance to watch prints coming off the press. The work was extremely varied and ranged from accessible to fun to strange and eye bending! I’ve attached a snap of the printing and one of my favourite prints (thanks to Natsko Seki)

There was a good stand up comedy show at the Amused Moose with the compere Mark Dolan being our favourite. The venue was unusual as the comedy section was a set of chairs on the dance floor of a nightclub which was all mirrors and lights but the acts were funny and we left before the nightclub really got going…..

Dining report this week includes Franco Manca, a new pizza place in Chiswick which was a fun, lively room with a good buzz and tasty pizzas. We also had a return to Aphrodite, my favourite local Greek restaurant. The big treat was a visit to Cafe Anglais for a special occasion lunch which lasted several hours. The chef here is Rowley Leigh who has a good name in the London restaurant world which we reckoned is well earned.
Bye for now,
Sue

Days in and days out

Picking up the extras that were bounced out from last week’s bumper full list, we have days out in Cambridge and days in at the Cabinet War Rooms.

A day out to Cambridge from London is a great way to see a bit more of England and really do-able as the train takes about 45 minutes. You can see the famous colleges and can even go inside some of them, you can get run over by the masses of students on bicycles, go punting on the river and mooch around the old streets to your heart’s content. Cambridge is full of wonderful old buildings and we really enjoyed the sunshine too! Another treat was to see the famous Harry Potter platform at Kings Cross as my train to Cambridge left from platform 9. Here’s a selection of Cambridge photos and one from Kings Cross!


Back in London, Sunday was another beautifully sunny day so we walked along the Thames and then visited the Cabinet War Rooms where they have restored the actual rooms used by Churchill and the military to battle out the Second World War. They are marvellously evocative of a time of national peril and the courage of those who battled for our freedom. They’ve added a major Churchill exhibition making it a big visit. Here’s one photo of the Thames at it sparkling best, one of the outside of the Rooms and one of the Churchill’s underground kitchen – not sure he had much time for cooking though!

A couple of cinema trips this week to contrasting venues. One to the very newly opened Vue cinema at Westfields with spacious seats and a huge high quality screen (The White Ribbon was the film) and the other was the Coronet in Notting Hill, a independent cinema which began life as a Victorian theatre in 1898 (Shutter Island was showing here).
Restaurants visits this week included my local favourite, Aphrodite, where the Greek food is really high quality and the welcome is always warm. A trip to South Kensington saw visits to Brindisi for their tapas and to La Cave a Fromage for their wonderful smelly cheeses!
Bye for now,
Sue

Even more madness – Notting Hill carnival!

The bank holiday weekend in England always feels like the end of summer and it certainly goes out with a huge loud bang in Notting Hill when the carnival swings into town. We are lucky enough to have 2 days of the world’s second largest street party – I think Rio still beats us! The build up feels weird as they start boarding up shops and restaurants the days before and some locals rush away, especially if they are on the parade route. And the anticipation builds, especially for those in the parade who have spent all year making huge and elaborate costumes.

On the mornings of the event, all starts quietly and then the noise starts to crank up as the parade winds itself around the long route and the sound systems keep moving the volume button to the right. If you want to see the extraordinary bright colours of the parade costumes, smell the wonder of jerk chicken and feel your sternum pulsate to the rhythms, then this is the place for you! Several of my neighbours can’t get far enough away as the hundreds of thousands of visitors make it a bit of crush at times but I love it. I really enjoy showing friends around which they appreciate as we pass endless lost people turning maps every which way to find out where on earth they are. The police patiently give directions and brace themselves for the later stages of the event when they have to try and get everyone on their way home after a few beers (the carnival goers that is not the police!).

The next day it’s like nothing has happened as the amazing clear up puts us all back to normal and I spend the next day sorting through my photos to keep the few great ones and lose the rather blurry dozens and wonder if my neighbourhood is the same place that hosted the carnival madness.

Not much time in between for restaurants, bars or art etc but local eateries I’ve frequently this week were: Toms Deli for brunch in their lovely outdoor garden (a rare treat as they normally have a huge queue), and another return to Aphrodite for a pre-carnival fortifier.

One more thing to let you know about was the One Magic Summer event in Trafalgar Square, brought to us by the Mayor’s Office (Boris Johnson). Rows of deck chairs in the middle of the square had been set out for anyone to sit in for free and chill out for a few minutes or even hours with entertainment laid on. It was a lovely day when I went down and the whole idea really brought smiles to a lot of people’s faces, always a delight to see in a big busy city.

Bye for now.

Sue