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,

A rather different week in London…

A rather different week from the usual as I was a volunteer for WaterAid at the London Triathlon this weekend. WaterAid is a great charity whose vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Take a look at Lots of cheering on our runners/swimmers/cyclists but also rooting for anyone who was running for charity or looked really exhausted and there were a few of those….. We were all wearing WaterAid t-shirts to spread the word so it was important to have a big group of volunteers to be as visible as possible. London has lots of big events where you can volunteer for a day or 2 to show support so there’s no excuse not to get involved. The event was held at the Excel Centre in the east of London and this will be one of the Olympic venues in 2012, tho’ not for the triathlon which will be in Hyde Park.

On the unusual theme, I spent 2 evenings on a jewellery making course and came home with a pair of earrings and 2 rings made of silver wire and beads. London’s colleges offer an unbelievable range of courses for adults to try our hands at new skills. I wasn’t that good so won’t be back for more but being able to have 2 evenings of tasters was just great and my masterpieces are definitely wearable if not brilliant!

It was Ealing Jazz Festival and on Saturday evening we popped in, gave them our £1 and saw 2 great bands. Yes, that was £1 – the best value in town. The Township Comets featuring Pinise Saul had great African sounds particularly from the singer. This was followed by Liz Fletcher and her band, again a great singer with strong instrumental back up. This event’s been going for 25 years and never fails to provide excellent music in large circus style tents with a programme spread over 5 days. You can sit outside the tents during the day and picnic or just lay around and listen to the varied jazz styles. It’s an important part of the summer for west Londoners and I used to be one.

Before I close, one restaurant to mention. Annie’s down by the river in Chiswick is a beautifully decorated converted Victorian house with tables on 2 floors and outside on the street. Sumptuous is a word that crops in their reviews for their decor and is very apt and the brasserie style food was lovely including the seasonal special of lobster which I couldn’t resist and the cocktails slipped down easily as well.

Bye til next week.