London is tops for cinema lovers!

I’m a great fan of cinema and much prefer seeing a film on the big screen than on the TV with all the fun of the movie going experience. London has an amazing range of cinemas, from the swanky thousand-plus seaters in Leicester Square like the Empire and Odeon, through to the many intimate local and boutique places.

London has great movie credentials as it hosts one of the world’s top film festivals in October every year when over 200 films are on show and the stars come to town to parade on the red carpets. As a venue for shooting of films there are too many to mention but from the top of my head come ‘Notting Hill’, ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Bridget Jones’ and of course the recently released ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.

My favourite cinemas are the small, boutique and quirky ones and here are my top 5, not in any order as it’s too hard to chose!  Those of you with a working knowledge of London cinemas will notice that these are all around the Notting Hill area. This is not just because I live there, but we have an amazing concentration of great movie houses and I celebrate that!

1. The Electric

This is the last word in luxurious film viewing with extra wide seats, a bar with snacks in the auditorium, plenty of space for drinks by your seat, a footstool, bed sized seats at the back for – well, best leave that there…. All this and up to the moment films and a long and interesting history as they have closed and nearly gone under many times since opening in 1910!  They are one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK

2. The Lexi

This a wonderful warm hearted little cinema, staffed by volunteers and sending their profits out to an amazing project in Africa, the Sustainability Institute. They show you a film about their work with kids so you are in no doubt as to the good they do.  You can catch the latest films here and it’s well worth heading out to find them.

 3. The Gate

The Gate is a very comfortable stylish cinema dating from 1911 with a splendid Edwardian interior. It is an independent cinema showing big name films as well as more hard to find gems and live screenings of opera and plays from the National Theatre, which is pretty cool of them!

4. Portobello Pop Up

This is a brilliant place – a digital non profit microplex, the antidote to multiplexes, made of recycled materials, sitting under the Westway.  The box office is made out of – you’ve guessed – cardboard boxes and the seats are a collection of odd reclaimed seats. They show a range of films, of with director’s Q&A. This year I saw My Beautiful Launderette with a chance to chat to Michael Frears. There’s no booking, no tickets, you just turn up – how refreshing! Just check when their season is….

5. The Coronet

Lots of history associated with the Coronet as it started as a theatre in 1898, featured in the film Notting Hill (remember the scene where Hugh wears his snorkel goggles – of course you do!) and I recall it being the last cinema you could smoke in – upstairs only!  The interior gives away its theatrical background and the tickets for all the latest films are good value too.

London has loads more great cinemas but these are my top 5 – which are yours?

Bye for now,

Laughs, tears and being very full up!

Read on to see what was happening in my London week: Carnaval del Pueblo fizzing, bike scheme starting, pizza opening, Spurs losing, comedy giggling, restaurant visiting and Toy Story!


Carnaval del Pueblo is a huge Latin American festival held in Burgess Park, south London and was indeed huge with 3 large sound stages, endless, endless food stalls, over 100,000 people dancing and picnicing and stalls selling all things Latin American and of course face painting! The festival is in its 10th year and is great fun – I even got to park nearby which was amazingly lucky. I should of course have cycled as London’s new cycle scheme started this weekend. We have new shining bike stands everywhere and once you’ve registered you can use a bike for your journey, taking it from one bike stand and returning it to another. I’ll have a go v soon but in the meantime loved this photo of the bikes all parked and ready to go the night before it all started.


The very friendly people at Fire and Stone pizzas kindly invited me to their pre-opening session for London bloggers at the new Shoreditch branch. They gave us a demo of how they make their pizzas and bases and enthused about their emphasis on fresh ingredients from good suppliers. The kitchen had been fired up with it’s pizza oven and pizza kept appearing so we tasted a slice – well several actually, then we were given the chance to make a pizza ourselves! Not as foolish as it sounds as we chose a one off their menu and assembled the ingredients on the base with the help of one of the chefs, so no too much room for making a mess of it. There was a competition for the one that looked most like it should have and somehow I won so here is a photo of me with my fabulous ‘Marrakech’ (all their pizzas are named after towns and use typical ingredients from that place). The bases are different from normal dough as they have to carry quite a weight of toppings and are very tasty I must say. A fun morning and felt immensely full afterwards as we also had to taste the puddings – ‘had to’, yes, would have been rude not too so for those who like to drool over food photos, here’s a pudding one – yummy brownie. Got a doggey bag – had to eat it – still feeling full – all my own fault…..


We’ve all moved on from the World Cup (as quickly as possible!) and it’s pre-season friendly time so I went to see Spurs play Villa Real courtesy of some complementary tickets which was just as well because a 4-1 loss didn’t feel very friendly. Spurs’s ground is not the best looking or easy to get to and there is talk of them trying to take on the Olympic stadium after 2012 which would be good except that the team is Tottenham Hotspurs not Straford Spurs! One photo of Spurs almost scoring a 2nd goal….

Kings Place is a new-ish arts venue near Kings Cross and was the venue for pre-Edinburgh comedy at the weekend – the wonderful Chris Addison from The Thick of It. He did a great set and is up there with my other favourites now. I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe in a couple of weeks so I’m looking forward to getting a few new comedy names on that list. Kings Place has a canal side setting with bar and restaurant and hosts a great range of events and exhibitions throughout the year. It’s easy to get to except at the moment when the tube lines I use seem to be closed for renovation just when I want to use them – thank goodness for buses.

Restaurants this week included Camino near Kings Place – really good tapas and the bar was absolutely rammed with people who’d clearly been there for some time but no trouble at all.


And finally, Toy Story 3 – absolutely loved it and just held back a tear as they headed into the fire….. Genius story, scripting, technical brilliance and witty too. We went to the Electric Cinema to see it so we had the added loveliness of super comfy spacious seats and a bottle of wine.

Next week is shaping up – a trip to the Proms and a Kenwood picnic concert if the weather holds up.

Bye for now,


Trips and tours

I’m a bit late posting this week’s blog due to a short trip to Cornwall which was great. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel in Fowey (pronounced Foy just to confuse) where they were starting their regatta week so bunting everywhere. Coves, harbours, 2 cream teas and a visit to the Eden Centre all added up to a great little break tho’ the sun was clearly not venturing out of London for us.

Last week was focused on a business day with 2 Chinese visitors on an It’s Your London tour on Friday. They went for the fully accompanied version and we had a fun day (have a look at to see more about the tours). They wanted a full big sights tour so, with the help of our taxi driver, we managed to fit in: Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey (inside too), Downing Street, Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace (inside tour and lunch), Tower of London (inside too) and a drive around the City past St Paul’s and we nipped into the Olde Cheshire Cheese for a quick half before finishing with Trafalgar Square. Action packed but not too rushed either. They were lovely people and hopefully my explanation of Henry 8th didn’t confuse them too much – all those wives! The sun shone thankfully and the crowds weren’t too bad for mid August so I’m looking forward to the next visit.

One other outing worth a mention this week. We went to the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road which is always a delight with its huge seats, foot rests, bar in the cinema and more space around the seat then your own home. It’s what all movie going should be. Before the film, a return visit to El Pirata de Tapas on Westbourne Grove to have another tasty meal before strolling round to the cinema. That’s the beauty of Notting Hill – loads of good stuff all close by.

Bye for now. Am off to Edinburgh for the Fringe to catch some comedy and theatre. It’s all go…..