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. 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,

Visiting the home of the enemy!

As we know football is a very important game and in London we have several major rival teams. Mine is Tottenham, known as the Spurs and their rivals are Arsenal, known as the Gunners (when we are being polite). The grounds are close together but I’ve never been to Arsenal’s, neither their old ground nor their new one called the Emirates thanks to the power of sponsorship. So, when Visit London said they were holding a business seminar there I jumped at the chance and must admit that it’s a very impressive stadium. It did feel odd being in the home of the enemy and luckily the photo is too small to see that they have all of their achievements inscribed on the second tier hoarding and they do have rather a lot of cups and championships.

We are still beset by rain but it is not constant and I went to the South Bank to meet a colleague in the wonderful British Film Institute (BFI) cafe. I love film and walking around there you just want to spend the rest of your life in the cinema catching up on old films. It was a beautiful day and the river Thames was at its best so here’s a photo showing the river, the boats, St Pauls, Tower 42 and the ‘Gherkin’ and the classic double decker red bus on the bridge.
While on the South Bank, I popped into the Royal Festival Hall to get a sneak preview of the Press Photographers exhibition which was showing wonderful, haunting photographs of some of this year’s dreadful events. Faces stare back in suffering and again many from Afghanistan but also from the Chinese earthquakes and Kenya. I think I’ll go back as they had not finished displaying them all and these images deserve my full attention.
London is great for shopping and a visiting friend had 2 requests – ballet tights for men and a tartan beret with a built in ginger wig – well of course! He’s in a play is his excuse and he’s sticking to it. No problem in London, so we found a ballet shop near Baker Street who had a good selection of manly tights and then we headed off to Portobello Market. The Scottish hat was more of a challenge but a party shop delivered and I was very tempted by the full length blonde Abba wig but just held out. Portobello was buzzing as always and although I live very nearby, I never tire of it as it’s so full of life.
It was the last Bookslam event of the year at the Tabernacle with Lionel Shriver, author of ‘We need to talk about Kevin fame’, Paul Lyalls a performance poet, Robin Ince was comparing, and music came from the Great West Singers and Andreya Triana. Paul was the star for us – funny, entertaining and great poetry.
Restaurant and bar update: I went back to the Oak which houses my new favourite local bar and this time managed to get into the restaurant. They don’t take bookings so we chanced it on a Monday as it’s a bit hit and miss later in the week but the food was wonderful and I’ll be back. I think I missed out mentioning a neighbour of the Oak, a Mexican restaurant called Crazy Homies which serves proper Mexican food surrounded by Mexican artifacts, so skeletons and pinatas everywhere, in a lively fun atmosphere. It’s run by Tom Conran who has a few places in the area, all of good quality. A return visit to Albertines wine bar in Shepherds Bush was as cosy as ever on a rainy evening.
The next blog will be in December so watch out for tales and photos of Christmas lights as there are some good ones around already!
Bye for now,
Sue Hillman

David Tennant!

My blog’s being posted a day late this week – sorry! I’m busy helping my mother move house and opportunities to get online have been a bit limited but we are nearly sorted – phew. Also means very few photos this week.

Last week was dominated by my excitement at seeing David Tennant! Anyone who knows me is well aware that I think he’s absolutely gorgeous so the chance to see him close up was not to be missed. I was at the London Film Festival catching a good Spanish film called ‘Three Days with the Family’ made with new actors and technical staff. I enjoyed this although I was hoping to get my ear in with Spanish and it was in Catalan so more difficult to follow. The London Film Festival is a brilliant event with hundred of films of all genres and nationalities packed into a few weeks in October. So many stars were in town there were red carpets rolling out all the time!

On the way out I came across a huge crowd waiting along the red carpet to see the stars of ‘Glorious 39’ arrive. Bill Nighy, Jenny Agutter, Hugh Bonneville came and went and then the screams started for David (not just me!) See photo for closeness but it’s a bit blurry due to all the other flashes going off….

The same afternoon I got ‘wristbanded’ as I was passing Leicester Square and gained access to the special night time party to celebrate the launch of the Michael Jackson film ‘This is it’ We saw videos of Michael’s career on the huge screens and all kinds of folk interviewed on stage as part of the red carpet – Westlife, Harry Connick Jnr, Scarey Spice, JLS, Diversity, Tao Cruz, Peter Andre…… More screaming but this time not from me.

Thursday saw this month’s Book Slam at Notting Hill’s Tabernacle and the star was undoubtedly Roger McGough with his witty, insightful and accessible poetry read with charm and warmth.

There’s not been too much time for eating out this week but I did spend a fun evening at the Chepstow in Notting Hill which is one of my favourite local bars. We had a few drinks and then got caught up in their weekly quiz and had we joined properly, might have done rather well but who knows…..

That’s all for this week.
Bye for now.

Summer came back and we loved it

What a glorious week and weekend for us sun lovers. Late September often brings a burst of sunshine and this year was a really good one. So, there was sitting out with Sunday papers, country walks and even some gardening.

The big events this week included Tent, an design exhibition which was part of the busy London Design Festival. Why ‘Tent’ you may wonder – Tent is an event consultancy and apparently the guys who run it, started off in a tent in the Kings Road. It was held at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in the East End (no longer a brewery tho’) and we had lunch sitting out at Patisserie Valerie on the way. Lots of groovy designs and new designers to chat with but not sure how much of the work would really suit my flat.

London has been jam packed with style this week as we’ve had London Fashion Week and the Design Festival, both with multiple venues and lots of press attention so there’s no excuse for frumpiness or ordinariness but it’s a bit hard to keep up with it all…. I’m told that the main fashion statements were ‘ big curly hair and expensive looking cardigans’ so let’s see what happens this autumn.

It was BookSlam at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill on Thursday evening with William Boyd reading a fun short story and from his new book, Don Patterson reading rather gloomy poetry(my view but some folk liked it) and Netsayi who is a great singer from Zimbabwe. The Tabernacle site is wonderful and their outside courtyard was humming before it started and here’s a photo of it. It’s the home of the Notting Hill carnival and is now hosting a wide range of cultural activities and is almost on my door step.

I spent the weekend in Bristol visiting friends, seeing a great up and coming jazz performer called James Morton at the Bebop club in Bristol and visiting the Georgian splendours of Bath. Bath is a lovely city and has wonderful surroundings including Prior Park Gardens where we walked through the dramatic landscaped grounds and sat in the hot sun. Bath is an easy trip out from London and rewards with its beautiful buildings made out of the fabulous golden stone, the Roman Baths which you can tour and then go the spa. There is also the Pump Room where Jane Austen used to take tea and where you can taste the spa waters – not very tasty unfortunately but I’m sure therefore that it does you good, but I just have a cup of tea instead, like Jane!

Bye for now.