There’s nothing like a night at the theatre…

26 Jan

Twelfth Night

…and I’ve been lucky to have two in the space of a week! The first was in aid of JP’s birthday when I treated him to a trip to the Vaudeville to see Uncle Vanya, starring Ken Stott, Anna Friel, Samuel West and Laura Carmichael. The excitement started long before the show began with a celebrity star-spot in the theatre’s bar – none other than Jim Carter and Penelope Wilton, aka Carson and Isobel Crawley from Downton! The performance itself was thoroughly enjoyable too – despite Uncle Vanya exploring the human condition in varying stages of misery and depression in true Chekov style.

Next up was an outing to the Apollo to see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. One word – fantastic! From the staging – you see the cast getting ready on stage and can also pay to sit in boxes on the stage – to the actors (Stephen Fry, Roger Lloyd Pack, Paul Chahidi and Mark Rylance as Countess Olivia – hilarious!), the entire production was cleverly thought out and put together. I laughed throughout. I’m ashamed to say there are a lot of Shakespeare’s plays that I haven’t read yet but I feel inspired now to dig out my complete works and give him another go. Any recommendations on where to start?

Uncle Vanya runs to 16 February; unclevanyatheplay.com

Twelfth Night runs to 9 February; apollotheatrelondon.co.uk

Happy (early) Burns Night!

19 Jan

Going to uni in Edinburgh and being married to a Scot, Burns Night is unsurprisingly an important date on my calendar. And, having discovered The Ceilidh Club in London, it made sense to get a group of friends together and head to their festivities – traditional dancing with haggis, neeps and tatties thrown in (the perfect ingredients for a night out, in my opinion). M came up from Southampton too and, despite feeling gutted that he didn’t have his kilt to hand – in storage – we all had the most fantastic night. Resolution for 2013 – go to more ceilidhs. They’re such honest fun and a much more enjoyable source of exercise than the gym, any day.

ceilidhclub.com

Keep Britain Farming!

16 Jan

Pop-up farm

Pop up farm 2

The countryside came to London today when The Addington Fund hosted its first Pop-up Farm – outside St Paul’s Cathedral! Check out the cute sheep – and the impressive combine harvester. Don’t think the city commuters knew quite what to think. Country Living magazine was also there promoting their current Keep Britain Farming campaign to encourage the public to reconnect with where their food comes from and get to know their local farmers. Definitely a cause to support.

keepbritainfarming.com

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without…a Christmas jumper (and socks!)

25 Dec

I’m sad to say I’ve never had a Christmas jumper before so this year I was adamant that would treat myself! Here’s me in my chosen pullover – I love it!

Christmas jumper

And, finishing off the festive ensemble are these incredible socks from my lovely housemate J. Perfect!

Christmas socks

Carols at Imber

22 Dec

I am just back from the most amazing experience ever and I had to write straight away to tell you all about it. I first read about the carols at Imber in Country Living magazine and knew immediately that I had to go, especially because they take place not far from my mum and dad in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire. Imber is a village on the Salisbury Plains that, during the Second World War, was taken over by the Armed Forces for training purposes. The inhabitants were relocated, but told they would be able to return to their homes once the war had ended. But they weren’t. Today, the public is granted access to Imber on 60 days of the year – so former residents can visit the graves of loved ones buried at St Giles, Imber’s Church, for example. The Christmas Carol Concert is one such day so today me, M and my mum went along. What an experience.

Imber carols Little Miss Married

The organisers put on a vintage London bus from Westbury train station to Imber, which is fun in itself. We all huddled together and willed it forward as we manoeuvred steep hills through the pouring rain. When we arrived there was a rush of umbrellas as everyone quickly weaved their way through the mud to get inside the church. There was mulled wine and a mince pie when we got there – much appreciated – and then we found a seat at the front by the brass band. We’d got there in the nick of time because there was a constant stream of people coming in and before we knew it, it was standing room only – outside! It was packed. But, even if we had been one of those left standing, it would have been worth it. The atmosphere was incredible; such an overwhelming sense of coming together. Everyone sang at the top of their lungs and it felt so special to be part of this seemingly secret community. It was like entering another world. What a way to start Christmas and one I will certainly never forget.

Putney WI Christmas Market

15 Dec

After just a couple of weeks putting it together the Putney WI’s first Christmas Market took place today at the Regenerate Rise Centre on Felsham Road. It was fantastic! We had 16 brilliant stalls selling everything from handmade tree decorations to quilted cushions, jewellery and these stunning gingerbread houses – that actually lit up!

We also had carol singing from some of our members by the tree, which really added to the festive spirit. We had a fantastic response from the public and it was a great chance to raise awareness about the Putney WI as well as, of course, supporting Regenerate Rise – we made over £300 for the charity!

WI Christmas Fair 2

WI Christmas Fair 3

WI Christmas Fair 4

WI Christmas Fair 1

putneywi.wordpress.com

Festival of Carols

13 Dec

I love carols but, every year, I end up only going to one carol service so barely getting to sing them myself. I’ve therefore vowed that this year I have to go to at least three events where I have the opportunity to sing. First up was tonight’s Festival of Carols, hosted by The Eve Appeal at St Botolph without Bishopsgate. It was beautiful. I began with a candlelit procession, which was followed by a programme that included Once in Royal David’s City and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, as well as readings by Celia Imrie and Helen Lederer. I feel so festive this year!

eveappeal.org.uk

Cecil Beaton at the Imperial War Museum

2 Dec

Cecil Beaton's photograph of Eileen Dunne, aged three

The Theatre of War exhibition has been on my list of things to do since it opened in September so I can’t believe I only just got there today – as it enters its last weeks! But, as I knew it would be, it was worth the wait. Not only am I a massive fan of photography exhibitions, I love Cecil Beaton. The exhibition follows Beaton’s time working for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War, taking images that would create sympathy for the British side such as the famous picture of three-year-old Eileen Dunne in hospital at Great Ormond Street that appeared on the cover of Life magazine. It’s an eye-opening and thought-provoking collection and one that truly demonstrates Beaton’s skill.

The excursion was made better still when I stumbled across the Morley College Christmas Fair en route and picked up a stunning set of antique soup spoons and dessert forks, which I’ve been hunting for, for a while. Now all I need is for M and I to move back into our own place so I have a space to invite friends over to use them!

Theatre of War runs to 1 January 2013; iwm.org.uk

Sushi club goes British

28 Nov

Back from the monthly sushi club meet and tonight saw us head to Barbican, to The Jugged Hare, a gastropub specialising in British cuisine. There was a lot of meat on the menu – mutton, rabbit, venison, Pig’s head (!) – so perhaps not one for vegetarians. We all ended up trying something new: B had duck, C had quail and I tried kidneys and the portions were just right, and tasty. I probably won’t have kidneys again – not my cup of tea – but the sides (fondant potatoes and Guinness battered black pudding bites) were scrummy.

thejuggedhare.com

WI elections

19 Nov

So, the Putney WI is well and truly established. We’ve been up and running for eight months now and have a good 30-strong following. But November is the traditional time for annual elections and, even though we’ve not been running a full year yet, it’s time for members to vote in a new President and committee. Having set up the group, I was obviously keen to be re-elected – and I’m pleased to say I was! Many of the original committee members were also re-elected in, as well as some of our new faces, so I’m really excited about the future of the Putney WI. I’m confident it’s going to continue to grow from strength to strength!

putneywi.wordpress.com