Monday, 13 October 2014

September in pictures


1. This is another belated monthly wrap up, as I spent the end of September just outside Stirling in Scotland, with family and friends celebrating the Accidental Mother's birthday. We rented a rambling house, with beautiful surrounding gardens and woods. It was the kind of place where you opened a door without being entirely sure what you might find on the other side - it was huge and confusing, but a great place for a party.

2. Another month, another cat in the office at Cats Protection's North London Adoption Centre. 'Augusto' was very friendly, although not conducive to getting much work done. We've been hard at work creating a campaign to recruit new volunteers to help support our South London Adoption Centre which will be opening in early 2015. The shiny new centre will rely on the hard work of an army of volunteers who will help to clean out and socialise the furry residents, offer them foster homes, take them to the vet and help them find new families. If you live in or near South London and are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Cats Protection, have a look for more details here and do drop us a line. The kitties need you!

3. Shakespeare's Globe is an extraordinary theatre, the home of Shakespeare in London. Recreated in the image of the original Globe Theatre - which stood on Maiden Lane, burnt down, was rebuilt, and finally closed in 1642 - the current Globe opened in 1997. But not many people know that within the grounds of this theatre is a whole other performance space - a theatre within a theatre. After getting the main space ready for the opening in 1997, everyone rather ran out of steam (and money!) to work on this second, smaller theatre. But with the Globe going from strength to strength, the creative team channelled their energies back towards this incomplete space, and with a little inspiration from various original Jacobean playhouse designs, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse opened last year. I went along to visit the space with its star-covered timber roof, and hear some fabulous music performed by candlelight. (A little surreal for a Monday morning but undeniably magical.) It is an enchanting space, at once small and intimate and limitless in potential: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a TARDIS of a theatre.

4. Brixton Market is a funny place - a bastion of gentrification in the heart of a surrounding area which resolutely refuses to give up all of its glorious imperfections and submit fully to the hipsters and yummy mummies. Early last month, a friend introduced me to a great Japanese cafe, Okan, tucked in the heart of this market. It is a no-nonsense kind of place; no reservations, cash-only, and one star attraction on the menu. 'Okonomiyaki' is apparently Osaka's favourite streetfood - a kind of thick pancake stuffed with cabbage and all kinds of other goodies. Even noodles if that takes your fancy. After our tasty pancakes we needed a little caffeine so headed through the market to Federation Coffee for a couple of flat whites and a little cooing over a visiting puppy. My coffee came disguised as a swan.

5. From pancakes to popstars, across town a new statue was unveiled in another market. Commemorating the late, local singer and pub frequenter, Amy Winehouse, the statue that now stands in Camden Market courted its fair share of controversy even before its completion. But as soon as it was unveiled, the general response was 'huh?'. It's not the most convincing likeness...

6. I caught up with Charlotte of Best LDN Walks last month, to join a great new walking tour that she's just launched. The Hidden Secrets of London pub tour is an educational - and potentially boozy - walk around many of the city's oldest drinking establishments; including Charles Dickens' watering hole, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Armed with her amusing anecdotes and fascinating facts, Charlotte whisked us around Blackfriars, along Fleet Street, through tiny alleyways to meet green parrots and talking cat statues, and down into a dungeon beneath a pub. Oh, and also through a couple of very lengthy gin lists (Sorry about the headache the next morning, Muriel...!). 

7. A day before the exhibition closed, I finally dragged myself across town to see 'Sensational Butterflies' at the Natural History Museum. In a former life I collected butterflies for a zoological survey in an African forest, and have harboured a fascination with these little fairies every since. After several months in a purpose-built exhibition tent a few of the specimens at the NHM were looking a bit ragged and tired, but their brighter fellows fluttered from tree trunk to flower, occasionally pausing to rest awhile on one of the visitors who wandered beneath them. The steamy, lively exhibition took me right back to that forest.

8. I love a good crowd-funding success story. And I love a project that showcases this weird and wonderful city of mine. Earlier this month a new Kickstarter campaign was launched to produce 'London Symphony', a filmic journey through the city, its landmarks and its communities. The finished film will be a striking masterpiece of architectural and cultural record. But the campaign still needs help to get the film off the ground. If you'd like to learn more, or to get involved with helping make this dream come true for the film's creator, Alex Barrett, check out London Symphony's page on Kickstarter. Alex would love you forever.

9. With the end of the summer came the end of London's finest evenings. The kind of evenings you spend sitting out on pavements after work with an endless supply of cold, cold drinks. The kind of evenings that make you never want to go home. The kind of evenings you spend eating and chatting at Street Feast in Dalston. For the summer, Dalston Yard was coopted by lots of different street food outfits - from Pizza Pilgrims to Rainbo, and Yum Bun to the outstanding Bleecker Street Burgers. Every Friday and Saturday evening, the yard would fill up with hungry Londoners, catching up over cocktails and Czech beer, and eating way too much food. There was often an occasional dog, and there were a hell of a lot of hats (see: Dalston). As the autumn approached, there were braziers to huddle around, but there was no fighting the end of summer. The darker, colder evenings came on faster, and Street Feast finished up for the year. Sad times... 

Farewell summer, and farewell September!

1 comment:

  1. I think that I recognise number 6...It was a great night out, and thanks again for hooking me up. Oh, and I am thinking of starting a vlog and I would love you to feature in it. What do you think? I am still thinking about scripts, etc...can I exchange drinks/food for a brainstorm? Hope to see you soon!

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