Outdoors London: going to the ball and a huge flower show!

It’s mid July and outdoors London is in full swing even if the weather is not keeping up but I’m hopeful it will improve very soon. I was at 2 major outdoors event last week – a live screening in Trafalgar Square from the Royal Opera House and Hampton Court Flower Show – both good fun and luckily we escaped without getting rained on at all!

A really big screen was put up overnight in Trafalgar Square for a live screening of Massenet’s Cendrillon (or Cinderella as we know her) from the Royal Opera House. This was in panto style with great costumes, sung in French with subtitles. Although it would be wonderful to be in the Opera House, the outdoor version does have 2 great advantages: it’s free as the Opera House can be very pricey; and, as it’s televised you get some great close ups. They followed the story pretty closely and in the tradition of panto the principal male role was played by a woman which was rather strange as it resulted in soprano wooing soprano, where the spoken voice is less obvious, this was unexpected especially as the Prince looked like a young KD Lang!
The Square was completely packed with a lively crowd all sitting on the hard floor but eased by free blow up cushions courtesy of the sponsor BP. We enjoyed the show and look forward to next year already.
Photos take us through the first half of the event as we saw them on the screen (with Nelson’s Column in the background): the intro from Deborah Bull with crowd in the Square behind her; the ugly sisters before and after they are dressed up for the royal ball; our first view of miserable Cinders who has to stay home; Cinders and the Fairy Godmother after she has waved her wand; the wonderful carriage with horses (Carosse in French); Cinders arrives at the ball in her dazzling white dress while everyone else is in red; and, finally, the first kiss.


Hampton Court Flower Show is a major annual event in the gardening calendar and also for those who like a good day out! We were kindly invited by friends who had a stall in the massive Country Life tent where you could buy a huge range of lovely things – none more so than on their stall of course – Floreat was best! This show is absolutely enormous and you could spend all day walking round without going back on yourself and some of the tents were the size of the centre court at Wimbledon! We saw show gardens, amazing flower displays, everything you could ever need in your garden, and everything you will never need in your garden! As we were there on the last day, there were great bargains to be had as they began to close up and they pulled the show gardens and sold the plants off for a few pounds. As a result people were struggling out with huge plants and it’s a long way to the car or train station so goodness knows what state the plants and their owners would be in by the time they got home!
Photos show: Hampton Court’s Long Walk with tents all around; flower displays; a garlic garden(!) ; fabulous colours x2; blue and white agapanthus; and, a cactus garden, looking a bit like a cake stall!

Bye for now, Sue

http://itsyourlondon.co.uk/ @itsyourlondon

Learning in London and the river by night

On this week’s list we have: lunch at the Royal Opera House; a new art course: a blogger meet up; and, the river by night


You may think the Royal Opera House is the sort of place you need several hundred pounds and a much sought after ticket to get into. Not the case! At lunchtime you can stroll in and go to the Amphitheatre restaurant on the top floor and have a lovely and not too pricey a lunch. It was all calm when we were there and the mushroom risotto with rocket comes highly recommended. The Opera House runs tours so you can see behind the scenes and we decided that we’d do one of those soon as I’m sure they are fascinating. Apart from the good food, you get to see inside the main areas of this wonderful building, as this photo shows.


Lunch was a just the warm up event for the start of our art course. We’ve signed up for 10 weeks on Contemporary Art which is a fabulous course involving visit about 3 small commercial galleries each week to view and discuss the art on show. So, no classroom work at all! We get to visit a whole range of new galleries with a friendly, knowledgeable tutor and it costs just £136 pounds. Week one saw us at 3 new venues around Picadilly: Spruth Magers who are home to Cindy Sherman’s new photographic murals; Marlborough Fine Art home to Cathie Pilkington striking sculptures made from a wide range of materials; and, John Martin Gallery showing a range of work with some potentially purchasable work (funds permitting of course!). It was mostly new work to me and new galleries so a great start to the course. I’ll take some photos next week as we head out to the East End.

London Bloggers Group held one of its regular meet-ups this week which was a great chance to chat to some rather more established excellent bloggers and try to pick up some tips over a free glass of wine – great stuff! Leaving the venue on the River Thames I took the time to admire the wonderful sight of the river and the river banks by night and here are a small selection of photos for you to share in this – and what a view!

Must be off – lots to do. Bye for now.
Twitter @itsyourlondon

Happy Birthday your Majesty!

This week saw the official birthday of the Queen, her real one is in April but she has a second one when all the pomp and circumstance is rolled out. We got our spot opposite Buckingham Palace at 9am, way ahead of the crowds and waited in the sunshine while men on horses, men in carriages and men on foot kept themselves busy and all dressed up in their very shiniest uniforms. Then finally the royals rolled out in their carriages and there she was – very smiley and with Prince Philip who was completely submerged in a huge bearskin! There was more marching than you can imagine and a 41 gun salute from Green Park. The bands played all the usual marching tunes including one loved by the England football fans which made me wonder whether that had been put into the programme in honour of the evening’s World Cup match against the USA (I’ll gloss over that result!) And for the royal spotters here’s a photo of the classic line up on the Buckingham Palace balcony – see how many you know and yes, Harry was missing!


It was Open Garden Squares Weekend in London when hundreds of gardens are open to the public many of which are private and inaccessible to non residents. A single tickets gives you entry to them all so I rushed around to pack in several of the more unusual including the roof top garden on the Ismaili mosque in South Kensington, where no photos were allowed but you could get access to their modern styled prayer room – even to women. The guide managed to explain the background to the Ismailis in a few minutes so we all left with a better understanding. One of the stars of the weekend was the Kensington Roof Gardens which is a private club and restaurant owned by Richard Branson where the gardens on a sunny day make you feel like you are on a Spanish holiday. They famously have flamingos living there to add to the exotic feel and they are beautifully pink. Other gardens I visited were so big they felt more like parks but there were also tiny treasures just big enough for the houses that surrounded them but all spoke of a life of substantial money and luxury….


Another London treat was the live screening in Trafalgar Square from the Royal Opera House of 3 ballets. This was a wonderful treat as the tickets for the indoor version are terribly expensive and to see it for free with great sound and picture quality was huge fun if a little chilly as it was a particularly poor evening. The programme was 2 modern ballets, Chroma and Tryst followed by a more traditional Symphony in C and to my surprise it was Chroma that mesmerised me with its raw passion and driving score. The dancers wore just singlets and knickers and no ballet shoes so it felt very different to what you would expect from the Opera House and Wayne McGregor’s choreography was completely engaging at all times. These 2 photos show you how the screen works with a close up on Chroma and a shot of the inside of the Royal Opera House to see how the other half enjoyed the show.
A new local pizza restaurant to mention this week – Otto. Started by a couple of young guys who love cornmeal pizza bases and huge toppings. They’ve just opened and started with such a bang that they ran out of food on their first night! Luckily they had restocked by mid week and served a very tasty pepperoni pizza but it does fill you up so certainly go for a half each. They’ve taken over an old cafe which never seemed to work and have kept the casual cafe feel while making it more welcoming so I wish them well.
It’s all world cup for the next month with Wimbledon squeezed in as well as Royal Ascot horse racing so fingers crossed for good weather!
Bye for now,