Flying into London

As many of you will know I’ve been in Africa for 9 weeks working on a voluntary project in Ghana and then joining a tour of West Africa. It was an amazing adventure and I feel very happy that I played my part in building a primary school in a very hands-on way! Our tour took us on the roads less travelled in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Senegal and there are many stories to tell about these dusty red roads but they are for another time… Continue reading

Hyde Park, a great place on a Sunday morning

It’s summer in London, it’s a lovely Sunday morning, my sponsored half marathon is looming so what could be better than a full circuit of Hyde Park? It turned out to be an excellent idea and I zoomed round taking in all the sights in no time.
I saw the work going on to completely reinvigorate Kensington Palace and give it a grand garden entrance; the wonderful formal fountains on the north side of the park; people take a horse ride around the park, those jogging and more unusually those ski-ing! The Horse Guards were returning to their barracks and the Albert Hall and Albert Memorial were looking at their best. The photo in the order listed here and you can see what a wonderful morning it was!

After completing a full circuit I decided to treat myself to a visit to the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Each year this fine gallery holds a competition for the best design for its summer outdoor pavilion – this year’s competition was won by Peter Zumthor, a Swiss architect, with his design Hortus Conclusus, meaning Enclosed Garden. It has a plain dark exterior with several doors through to an interior garden and cafe via interior dark passageways. The garden is conceived as a peaceful place which is enclosed and protected. The cafe bustle somewhat disturbs the peace but it is an impressive and interesting structure. Here are some photos: of the Serpentine Gallery itself; the Pavilion exterior with people entering and a view taken further back to give more perspective; and, the interior garden.




London has great night life so I should mention a visit to a venue completely new to me – the Bush Hall in west London. As part of the inaugural London Blues Festival Ray Gelato was playing a set here and it was a great night. Ray was born close by but has had a long and illustrious career playing with many bands as well as his own Giants so he can put on a really fun show as the singing and saxophone playing lead man in a band with plenty of good brass. The hall itself is a star – a small ex theatre decorated in a wonderful Victorian music hall style and I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for future events there.








Bye for now





Music and laughter in London!

Afrocubism is a show I’d been waiting for ages to see. This combination of Cuban and Malian music was the original concept by Nick Gold that became the Buena Vista Social Club, just half the idea, because the Malian musicians couldn’t get visas to travel. I love that record so was very excited to the full line up at last although time has taken away most of the Cubans and Eliades Ochoa is the key survivor of the original line up. He was joined with the cream of Malian music: Bassekou Kouyate, Kasse Mady Diabate and Toumani Diabate. They won a Songlines award which was presented by Carlos Acosta, the ballet dancer, a fellow Cuban It was a brilliant evening of music and made me wonder what would have happened if those visas had come through!
Photos are: Royal Albert Hall, the band, Eliades Ochoa, Cuban trumpeters and Carlos with the band.

Sometimes in London you can stumble across music without any plan or expectation. Last week I found myself with a spare hour before it was time to meet up with friends for a theatre trip. I was on the South Bank and it was about to rain so I dipped into the Royal Festival Hall to revisit the Festival of Britain 1951 exhibition. I heard some music and it turned out to be an indoor busking session (they’d moved in due to the rain) and I was lucky enough to see She Keeps Bees followed by the excellent Guillemots. They played for about half an hour, it was free and there was a good, very appreciative crowd. A great. unexpected treat!


Comedy is very popular in London and any night you can find great comedians all over town. June and July are especially good times as many of the top performers are trying out new material for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Festival. One recent Friday night we booked in to see a comedy gala in aid of Anno’s Africa a development charity and great cause. They lined up a great evening of laughs from the following: Daniel Kitson (host), Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery, Jenny Eclair, Simon Amstell and Miles Jupp – to name just my favourites. To top this fun evening off there was a raffle with the prizes awarded by Hayley Mills and my friend won a golfing trip to Ireland (with me of course!).


Photos are Hayley, Stewart Lee, Simon A, Jenny, Miles, Simon M


Bye for now, Sue



Classical music, rain and bin bags!

London – so varied, so interesting, such unpredictable weather! I like to think it’s always sunny in London but we do have rain or our parks wouldn’t be so lovely and green. This week’s wet highlight was Kenwood – a series of open air picnic concerts set in the lovely surroundings of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. We went for the summer proms featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which turned out to be accurate as we had sun, cold and the most amazing downpour I’ve been out in for a very long time. We were half way through the picnic when the heavens opened on us and despite enormous amounts of plastic we were soaked to the knickers! No photos of this as the camera was safely away in one of the few dry sections of the bag. Being British we ‘kept calm and carried on’, sat it out, finished the picnic and enjoyed the concert tho’ sitting in damp clothes is not my favourite feeling. Here’s a photo of the venue just before the rain…..

Trafalgar Square was hosting a pop-up maze with blue plaques all around inside the maze telling visitors all about the West End. It wasn’t large enough to get lost in but was good fun and in the middle were singers from Dover Street jazz and I read that there were different performers each day. Just a bit of fun and why not. A couple of photos to give you the idea, one on the inside and one of the famous lions taken in the queue – yes of course there’s a queue – surely part of the fun!

It was classical music week with a trip to the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall where we saw Elgar and Vaughan Williams performed by the Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It’s a beautiful venue and I love to hear music there. It was good to see it full as the Proms are a fabulous national treasure from the BBC – the world’s largest classical music festival with over 70 concerts spread over 3 months every summer. ‘Prommers’ queue on the day (queueing again!) for standing tickets at just £5 which makes it brilliantly accessible for the less well off but hardy folk. Luckily for me we had box tickets as I’m too short and too lazy to stand for a couple of hours! Here’s a photo of the inside of the wonderful hall, taken just after the performance finished in case you were thinking I’d taken in mid symphony which would be a major Proms crime…

One of my local galleries was holding their Summer 2010 Collection which was very interesting. Salon Contemporary on Westbourne Grove showcase the best of new British talent in this annual event in its 4th year now and new graduates get to show their work in the trendy gallery. It was invite only and was absolutely packed. The most eye catching was Hye Young Ku who works with bin bags and combines a static piece with performances and the photos shows her is in her bin bag bed creation within which she sang short sets. Salon Gallery has regularly changing exhibitions and is an important champion of new work. They also initiated a great new local initiative, First Wednesdays, where local galleries and fashion shops open late on the first Wednesday of the month (it was in the name I guess!) which just makes Notting Hill even better.

Eating and drinking this week – my fabulous picnic at Kenwood was a highlight! I love putting together my picnic with its massive over-catering and plenty of hot food. Also a trip to the refurbished Chepstow in Notting Hill and Smithy’s Wine Bar in Kings Cross where the Dover Sole was very highly recommended.
Here’s hoping for no rain as I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe this weekend!
Bye for now.