London is full of surprises!

London is full of surprises even when you think you know it very well! We found a new local theatre hidden away and I had the fun of visiting Kensington Gardens to show a friend a hidden away restaurant and the wonderful art on show in the trees. One other very surprising find was the Mediatheque, a place you can watch films about London for free!


Just around the corner is a row of former shops and something that looked like a run down workshop which we’ve always ignored and then we heard that a new theatre had opened there so we had to go and explore! They were staging A Snake in the Grass by Alan Ayckbourn and had some pretty good names in it so we ventured into the alley way with curious excitement! We entered an amazing room which had the full set for the play in the middle of the audience. This play is centres on a disused tennis court so there in front of us were the remains of a tennis surface, an old net and a run down umpires chair. The play was really good and the cast featuring Susan Wooldridge and Sarah Woodward were excellent. The smallness of the venue added extra atmosphere and we are looking forward to their next production. Added fun came from meeting Susan Wooldridge afterwards as the cast were drinking in the Commander opposite – the theatre doesn’t have its own bar so gives 15% off vouchers for the Commander so everyone decamps there before and after the show.


Photos: the outside and the tennis court set.


What to do if you have a spare hour on London’s South Bank? Why not pop into Mediatheque which is part of the British Film Institute (BFI) and is a hidden treat. You go in, they ask if you’ve been before and how long you want to spend there and then patiently explain how to you it and you sit in a comfy seat with you own flat screen and off you go. The archive is all yours and they have thousands of films and documentaries to chose from. I looked for old film of London and saw; post war workers’ day trips to London from the Midlands and was amazed at how much they managed to pack into one day; turn of the century views of the docks in full swing; and, clips of the bomb damage immediately after the Second World War. I was overwhelmed by the choice and quantity of material and will definitely go back and yes, it’s free!

Hidden art treasures and a restaurant tucked away are my last two treats for this blog. In Kensington Gardens just by the Palace is the Orangery which dates from the 18th century and is the former garden ballroom for the palace. It is a beautiful building, now a cafe serving wonderful snack and cakes with a terrace which is a delight in the summer. We were there on our way to enjoy the Anish Kapoor outdoor pieces, tucked into the ponds and trees of the gardens, before they were due to depart in the next few days. There are 4 pieces in all and a previous blog featured a couple but we explored them all again as they are so good. The 4 are: the reflective World Upside down which reverses the audience on one side; the triangular piece which reminded me of a witch’s hat; a red circle; and, some way away, a silver disk. These disks reflect the sky and you watch the clouds move across their faces and see birds pass through the disk too. We found them mesmerising and they seemed to attract the swans too!


Photos: Anish Kapoor’s 4 pieces; a beautiful swan; and, the Orangery exterior and interior (including cakes!)

Enough secrets from London for now!