World’s longest toilet queue!

This week started in a big toilet queue – the world’s longest queue in fact! No, there’s not a sudden horrific shortage of toilets in London but an event for WaterAid to highlight the appalling number of people in this world who do not have access to a safe toilet. We queued outside Parliament in Gordon Brown masks to make this point and queues formed all across the world to lobby their own governments – altogether we were making a Guiness Record attempt on the length of the queue. A very important cause so have a look at their website and there’s a photo here from the queue.

The National Portrait Gallery has a couple of special exhibitions on at the moment. One is the glorious portraits of Irving Penn who had access to an amazing range of famous faces, from Wallis Simpson to Greta Garbo and Rudolf Nureyev. The exhibition follows the development of his work over the decades and you can see some people photographed twice. His early device of photographing people in the corner of rooms moved on to photos of subject somewhat hidden – by clothing or by the closing one or both eyes. Also there is a small show of photos by Jane Brown who worked in black and white and only using available light which I really admire. Here’s the poster shot of Irving Penn and a sneaky shot of Jane Brown’s Mick Jagger I took some while ago at a foyer exhibition at the Guardian. A second Jane Brown was the irresistible shot of Henri Cartier Bresson taking a photo of Jane taking a photo….

We had a bit of rain this week but there was a warm welcome at St Martins-in-the-Field church who had a Vivaldi concert including his ‘Summer’ concerto. Wonderful music in a fabulous setting. 2 photos to give you the idea – one inside the church and one exterior view on a sunny day to show it at its best.

We were looking forward to seeing ‘Little Dog Laughed’ but it was not all we’d hoped although Tamsin Grieg was brilliant and worth the trip. The play just didn’t add up to enough, perhaps it was the anticipation? Looking to go next week to see a matinee so am on the look out for some bargain tickets.

Not so much eating out this week but if you find yourself looking for a coffee on Portobello Road I can recommend Gails but only if you are strong enough to resist all the cakes! Good coffee and a jolly atmosphere. Then if you are near Notting Hill Gate tube station, head for Pain Quotidien for coffee and snacks and you’ll not be disappointed. Today I’m off to a soft launch of a new Raymond Blanc restaurant so watch this space next week for reviews…
Bye for now,

Here comes the sun!

It’s March 1st, St David’s Day (patron saint of Wales) and the sun has finally burst through after a seemingly endless winter of snow and rain. Optimism returns!

I’m still recovering from the big Africa trip and one annoying follow on from a great holiday can be the post return bug and I got a humdinger! So I’ve been stuck in a lot of the week so this blog will be a little thinner than usual but next week’s looking good already.


I sneaked out to one of my favourite shops in London, the Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill – yes the travel bookshop from the film ‘Notting Hill’. Well, the one it was based on – for real film buffs, the interior to exterior shots were filmed around the corner on Portobello Road itself and the interior shots were done in a studio but when you go into the shop it certainly has the feel of the real thing. As a travel bookshop it’s lovely and I rarely get out without a purchase as they have wonderful guide books and broader travel literature and even great CDs. They’ve just started a series of evening talks so we went to see Hugh Thomson reading from his book ‘Tequila Oil Getting Lost in Mexico’ and telling us a bit about how the book came about. Really interesting and entertaining and the title refers to a rather evil sounding drink which I will be avoiding for sure… And of course, here’s a snapshot of the exterior of this famous shop much photographed by visitors.
A local gallery, The Muse, were having a preview evening for Justin Piperger’s new works including cartoons, bold colours and some more functional pieces with household objects in his paintings such as clocks and tea towel holders. It brightened up a rainy evening of which there have been rather too many of late so we are all looking forward to the start of March. Apparently Justin will be painting in the gallery a couple of days a week, so I might just pop in and see how he works.

The Noisettes played at the Roundhouse this weekend and it was a show of huge energy and fun. This fabulous venue has great sound and the Noisettes’ lead singer Shingai Shoniwa is an amazingly stylish, eccentric, talented and friendly performer (see slightly blurred photo) and the show was a burst of sunshine on a Sunday evening. The show was sold out and the floor was jumping!



Bye for now,