Christmassy London in lights

Only 15 days to go! I’m rushing around trying to make sure I have bought everyone’s presents, posted all the cards and, most importantly, enjoyed London’s Christmas lights! 

One of the wonderful traditions in London at this time of year is the lighting of the tress in Trafalgar Square. Every year since 1947 the people of Norway have sent us a magnificent Christmas tree as a gesture of thanks for British support during the dark days of the Second World War. The switching on of the lights attracts huge crowds and this year was no exception with the square and every viewing point crammed with excited Londoners and tourists.  The 70 foot tree looked fabulous with its 600 bright lights hanging vertically, as is the Norwegian style.  Here are some photos to show you the scenes in the square including the  fine voiced choristers who braved the cold to entertain us!

 


To top off the evening, we went into the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields for the annual VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) charity Christmas Carol Concert where we had great fun belting out all the old favourites, listened to a wonderful choir doing it properly and heard some fun and inspiring readings and talks about the work of VSO.  A festive glass of hot  mulled wine was also happily consumed!

Inside St Martin-in- the-Fields

The British Museum has a special open evening for members so we could shop in private and enjoy the Egyptian Galleries by night, which was a bit spooky and put me in mind of the film A Night at the Museum. The famous inner courtyard and Reading Room looked festive with their snowflake design.

The museum by night – watched by a Pharaoh!


South Molton Street, just off Oxford Street has very striking lights and they have done the sensible thing and used last years’ again – good to see the recycling and the dramatic blue arches would be hard to beat.
  


Another example of recycling is Oxford Street where they have kept most of the lights used last year but added several sections sponsored by Marmite. The advertising for this quintessentially British spread is ‘you’ll love it or hate it’ and that seems to apply to the lights too!  I think most of them are ok but the section where people’s faces appear is rather creepy. Have a look at the good bits:

 

 

 

 Selfridges, one of London’s top department stores on Oxford Street, is famous for its Christmas windows and although they are not all as good as usual this year, I particularly like these two. 

 


I’ll be back soon with some more sights of London at Christmas time for you.

Bye for now
Sue
www.itsyourlondon.co.uk
@itsyourlondon
 

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 http://www.wateraid.org/.org 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,
Sue