Gin and good chat!

This week, following the excitement of the Royal Wedding, we had to find new amusements – never a problem in London! Two unusual fun things this week were an invitation to a gin tasting and the wonderful 5×15.

I was invited to the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane for a gin tasting session and was a little concerned as I am normally a vodka drinker and not so taken with the gin. That’s before I met Stefano, their wonderful barman who expertly and with great charm talked me through and converted me to the wonders of gin. He is a master of gin and knows the history of the drink in amazing depth. I was keen to try Sipsmiths, the only gin distiller to set up in London, the home of gin, in 189 years and Stefano mixed their fine gin with basil, as the main ingredient, to make the wonderful Prudence and I also tried the Old Time Tipple and Poor Man’s Punch, which was quite ambitious! Other great names on their cocktail list are the Tuppence Duty and Mother’s Ruin all reflecting the history and myths surrounding this famous drink. They use a wide range of gin brands and mix them up to bring out the ‘botanicals’ in the gin as well as adding some fabulous dry ice.

The Arch bar at the InterContinental, which overlooks Wellington Arch, holds a daily gin hour (5.30-6.30) if you want to dive into the world of this up and coming spirit, or should I say, a spirit reclaiming its place at the bar. The photos show: the lobby at the Intercontinental; the Prudence; the wonderful barmen; the view out to Wellington Arch; the dry ice at work; and, a nice cup of tea (also known as Poor Man’s Punch)!



5×15 is a brilliant concept bringing us an evening of 5 speakers each allotted 15 minutes in which to regale us with tales of their lives and passions. There is a timekeeper who will not let them go over – well not too far over! Last week we were in for a treat and the evening kicked off with an introduction by Rosie Boycott, one of the founders. Our line up was: Mick Hucknall; Anna Pavord; Hugo Vickers; Melvyn Bragg; and, John Bird. Mick talked about his early musical experiences seeing punk bands for the first time and how this led him to set up Simply Red. Anna talked about how she came to gardening and how it has been at the centre of her life. Hugo Vickers told us about the Duchess of Windsor’s sad later years. Melvyn gave his impassioned case for the King James Bible and John Bird inspired us about the Big Issue. Look out for these evenings – this one was at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill – as it’s a great format and gives you entertainment and food for thought with 5 different great speakers each time. Photos of 3 of our speakers (Melvyn, Mick and John with the Big Issue) and Rosie:

It was a cultural week in Notting Hill as we also went to the Print Room, a local theatre set in a converted 1950s warehouse. They were staging Tennesse Williams’ Kingdom of the Earth, a 3 hander exploring many of Willliams’ favourite themes set in the deep south of America on a night of rising flood waters. It is a small theatre which has a imaginative approach to stage setting and this time we had most of the stage covered in a mound of earth which the actors had to climb up and across during the action. It was different and effective but rather hard to describe – you’ll just have to go! A trip to the bar opposite is part of the experience as the cast also go there for their post performance drinks so you can see them out of costume and have a chat.


Next week is shaping up really well already… so bye for now.




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