Great to be back…

Despite really enjoying a wonderful couple of weeks in USA, it’s great to be back in London. I survived a long weekend in New York which was a blur of activity and excitement. We were there for World Cup weekend (doesn’t that seem a long time ago now?) and I can confirm that NYC has footy fever in a big loud way. We crammed in 4 shows, many meals, a walking tour of Harlem and a trip out on the Statten Island ferry and it was hot and sticky especially on the subway where trains have air-con but not the platforms. Then it was off to New Mexico to visit super arty Santa Fe, Native American pueblos in Taos, white sand dunes and massive caves in the south. A few photos at the end for those who like a bit of vicarious travelling.

My first weekend back in London was fun with the English summer continuing to delight us sun lovers. Our restaurant trip was to Vanilla where the food was good (on our usual Toptable special offer) but the place was a little unsure whether to be a bar or a restaurant so fell a bit between the two. Saturday saw a walk through Hyde Park to visit the new pavillion by Jean Nouvel at the Serpentine Gallery. It’s big, red and wonderful – an installation and a cafe all in one! The exhibition of photographs in the gallery by Wolfgang Tillmans was not my thing – he may have a Turner prize but we missed the special-ness of his work.


Saturday evening was spent catching up with friends and having fun in the centre of town from the Old Shades pub off Trafalgar Square, to an outdoor cafe in Covent Garden (complete with busker who sounded amazingly like Cat Stevens as was), to the Rock and Sole Plaice who were out of plaice but the cod was good and finally to Cafe Boheme in Soho – phew! No one told me the tubes finished just after 12.30 as I thought it was later – thanks goodness for buses…


Sunday was a quieter shopping day with a good amount of time in Selfridges,which is very smart and trendy and then on to St Christopher’s Place for coffee out in the sunshine. Jet lag has finally hit or is it just tiredness….


I’m looking forward to a full week back in London and here are a few photos from the USA, including the one from Roswell which I couldn’t resist! They are: New York Statue of Liberty, Pueblo, Taos, Chimayo north New Mexico, White Sands and Roswell’s great advertising…


Bye for now,

Rain and rainforests

I have to admit it does rain in London sometimes and this week was one of those weeks and some! So it was fitting that the rainforest came town in the form of the ‘Ghost Forest – from the Tropics to Trafalgar’ an outdoor exhibition which highlights the extent and danger of deforestation. Ghost Forest brought us 10 stumps of rainforest trees from Ghana filling up Trafalgar Square in an haunting and beautiful display of fallen giants. The square was well chosen as Nelson’s Column is about the height of one of the fully grown trees and we learned that Ghana has lost 90% of these trees in the last 50 years . I went to see them by night in the rain and by day in the sun, so I’ve posted one photo from each visit and you can see the trees against the backdrop of the square and the National Gallery. The trees are now off to Copenhagen for the climate change conference.






London Jazz Festival was in full flow this week – good indoor activities for rainy evenings! There was a huge range of artists in town for this and I chose to see the African Jazz Quintet at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill. They were really good and for me the saxophonist was outstanding though my friend thought the guitarist was the star but the photo is mine so it’s of the sax guy! The music was full of melody and life and the band were clearly having a great time as well as the audience.




Another great escape from rainy days in London is the amazing variety of courses you can take. I treated myself to a one day on British cinema at the City Lit college and we watched clips and discussed how the cinema showed us the massive social change just after the 2nd World War (lots of great black and white movies) . Not everyone’s cup of tea but I thought it was fascinating and on that day the college were running everything from singing to keep fit to professional study. Afterwards we caught up on cinema as I’ve been a bit lax lately and went to see An Education which was really evocative of the 60s and had some great performances.


Restaurant update. In London you can get special deals through a website called OpenTable¬† and we picked up a great deal of 2 courses for ¬£14.95 at Brasserie St Jacques in St James’s. It’s a good quality French restaurant with excellent food and charming staff who were keen to tell us that on Tuesdays they will be bringing opera to diners at their tables, rather than the enjoyable background jazz we had. I’ve also been frequenting coffee venues in Notting Hill and can recommend Daylesford Organic and 202 on Westbourne Grove as this week’s favourites for meetings and catch ups. Good coffee but don’t expect it to be cheap!
My neighbour’s just turned up for coffee, so bye for now.