Amazing art fair and secret Jewish London

There are two big highlights this week which I wanted to tell you about and I have lots of photos of each. One was the massive London Art Fair which lots of new stuff but some very big names too. The other was a walk around Jewish London which was fascinating.

Our walk started at Tower Hill on a damp, somewhat chilly Sunday morning but the two and a half hours with Ruth our excellent guide sped past. I had been invited on this walking tour by Context Travel who use very well qualified guides for small groups. ( There were 4 of us so plenty of time to ask lots of questions and as we had so much to get through Ruth kindly gave us extra time on our tour (and some Jewish sweets at the end which was really kind). We saw the site of the first synagogue after the Jews returned to the UK (after earlier banishment), where they used to live (the simply named Jewry Street) and signs describing the care given to new poor arrivals. We entered the Bevis Marks synagogue which has the record of the holding prayers for the longest uninterrupted period of time in Europe since its opening in 1701 and we had a talk about the history of this grand yet simply decorated building which was built and furnished by quakers with their starkly uncomfortable and original benches!
We walked around the City and Shoreditch area learning about the Jewish life for those reaching London and how they were looked after by various organisation and saw plaques and buildings including a soup kitchen for the ‘Jewish poor’ . In the unlikeliest of places, the Christian church by Spitalfields market we saw plaques to the Christians who looked after the Jews and sought to convert them! One talked of the work for the ‘welfare of God’s ancient people’ with hebrew inscriptions in a Christian church – most unexpected. I’ve missed out loads of things we saw including the moving sculpture to the kindertransport in Liverpool Street (trying to squeeze this one in!) but hopefully you’ll see that there is plenty to see and learn about on London walks.

The photos are – , blue plaque to the organisation who helped the poor Jewish immigrants, the stone marking William Willson’s work, the soup kitchen (now posh flats)Bevis Marks entrance, the site of the first but now destroyed synagogue and the Jewry Street sign.


As a complete contrast the rather posh indoor event that is the the London Art Fair offers an amazing range of work and some truly fabulous stuff including big household names as well as the less know – as yet! The prices were mostly outside of our means in the main hall as they were in the 1os of thousands of pounds but there was work by Warhol, Hirst and Emin so this is hardly surprising. The photos tell you more than words so they are: an amazing drawer set made of porcelain; Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow tapestry with the stages of life woven with hundreds of brand names and figures; a wonderful stone head; amazing rubber green feet; Andy Warhol’s Mao head; Elizabeth Frink’s head sculpture; and, Damien Hirst’s butterfly wall. There was so much more in the 3 levels of galleries and stand and we needed a good couple of hours just to get an overview.


That’s all for this week so hope you enjoyed it. Looking forward to next week’s….
Bye for now,

Autumn colours, blue skies and sunshine

What a beautiful autumn we are having! September and October have been a delight and with the odd day’s exception, we’ve had sun and warmth beyond the season’s norm.

This Sunday in Hyde Park was wonderful and I’ve attached a photo to show the autumnal colours with a group of horse riders from the local riding school and one of the Serpentine lake at its best. It was the kind of day which you just want to hang on to as you feel winter approaching. Our clocks went back this weekend so we are now back on GMT which means darker afternoons and very soon it will be much colder.



After last week’s art fest, only one visit to report this week – to the Wallace Collection to see Damien Hirst’s new paintings called ‘No Love Lost’ . Very blue with skulls, lines and ashtrays so work that out if you can. The Wallace Collection has wonderful art, furniture, ceramics and armour and, as important to some, a lovely courtyard restaurant where we had a late breakfast to sustain us on our visit.


A couple of restaurant visits to report – one to The Criterion in Picadilly Circus which must be one of the most stunning dining rooms in London with it’s gold mosaic ceiling and marbled walls and welcoming bar. They call it neo-Byzantine and they’ve been serving dinners to everyone from Suffragettes to Arthur Conan Doyle for over 100 years. We also had a meal at Vasco & Piero’s Pavilion as Michael Palin recommended it and I believe every word he says! A good Italian meal was had but I prefer the Criterion as surroundings are very important to me and it’s hard to beat theirs.




I had a good afternoon exploring pubs in Victoria but all in the line of business as I have some Americans coming in today and they wanted to eat in a ‘proper pub’ ahead of their evening’s show in Victoria. It’s not an area with that much to offer but I’ve chosen 2 and will talk them through which style their prefer and report back on which one we go to next week! I took the opportunity of being in the area to revisit Westminster Cathedral, the home of Roman Catholic church in the UK. It’s a wonderful building and continued the neo Byzantine theme this week with its golden mosaics which are unfinished as they want each generation to add to the building. Dating from the turn of the last century it also has fine sculptures by Eric Gill and have a look at the photo of the exterior.


Off to meet my Americans so bye for now.