From Steppes Travel Festival to Sunday Roast – that was our weekend that was
It feels like Autumn is well and truly here now. It’s my favourite season (well apart from winter, and I love summer too…hmmm Spring is quite remarkable as well…) and I’m enjoying walking down the West London streets in awe at the gorgeous display of colours in the trees. Not quite Vermont – but we still get a beautiful fall display in London.
I’ve been lighting real fires, Chiswick Boy has been gathering conkers, and we’ve started to dig out the Halloween decorations – and plan our October film viewing, as it’s Halloween month! Watch out for a post on my blog soon on our top 10 family films for Halloween!
But for now here’s the round up of our last week / weekend.
(Photo copyright www.addisonsingers.com)I’m not in the photo by the way! But I have joined the Addison Jazz Choir, which rehearses in the Polish Centre near Ravenscourt Park every Monday.
As you may know I’m a massive fan of singing and for years was in a musical improv comedy troupe. I even ran a one off version of our cabaret night in Chiswick a couple of years ago!
But I’m not in a choir or group at the moment and really missed it.
There were several choirs to choose from in the local area, but I opted for the Addison Singers as they have a jazz choir (there’s an oratorio choir too). It’s non-auditioned but they have an auditioned jazz ensemble too which I’m planning on auditioning for next term.
The joy of singing in a group cannot be underestimated. When you sing together you synchronise not just your voices but your whole bodies, and form an amazing connection which lifts your energies, your spirit and your physical well being. This isn’t hippy chat, there is real science behind it. Go forth and google!
2. Went to Bristol – city of my birth
It’s a little known fact about me that I was born in Bristol and lived there until I was seven months old and we moved to the Midlands. I know very little about the city. My grandparents lived in the smaller, beautiful Bath and I visited them regularly but Bristol was never on my radar.
I still know very little about Bristol, as I was there for work and only saw the station and inside the conference centre!
I do know that it has a massive circus population – and is meant to be really arty and creative. I’m hoping that next time I go I’ll have more time to look around – any tips?
3. Spotted this great jacket near Trafalgar Square
I don’t normally follow tourists just to sneak a photo of their clothes, but when I saw this amazing couple striding near Trafalgar Square I was intrigued. He held her hand protectively across all the roads and they seemed like they would have such an interesting story to tell.
I wanted to hear about each of the badges on her jacket, and about their travels across the globe. But I did the cowardly thing of just taking a sneaky photo instead!
4. Sipped a gin martini at the National Portrait Gallery late bar
Every month or so I meet up with my old school friend Kate. What started as Kate chuckling as I tweeted our drinks has become a regular search to find a new “tweetable drink”.
One of the nice things about getting older (there have to be some, right?!) is that one can now do quality over quantity. When I first came to London I would have made £20 last from 8pm to 8am, rolling in drunk from the nightclub and sleeping the day away. Not I’m happy to splash that £20 out on one drink, but make that drink last all evening – getting home for 10pm with no hangover!
One of London’s best kept secrets is the various nights that museums and galleries open late. They are the loveliest places to drink in the city. The National Portrait Gallery opens until 9pm on Wednesdays, so you can enjoy a bit of art and then head to the top floor for a very tweetable drink.
Here we have one gin martini and one vodka martini, made to perfection by utterly charming, elegantly suited, barmen.
They even ordered a portion of chips for us from the restaurant downstairs so we had something to nibble on beyond olives!
5. Found a gem of a noodle bar, nestled next to South Ken station
The rather unimposingly-named ‘Oriental Food’ is at 32 Thurloe Street next to South Kensingston tube.
It was filled with Oriental folk with big wheelie suitcases which made me think it was on the map in a guide book, and that people were stopping off here for a last holiday meal before heading to Heathrow. This had to be a good sign (like if you ever hear Italians queuing up for a pasta bar) – and we went in.
Chiswick Daddy’s bento box with spicy tofu and mince was a bargainous £6.90. Chiswick Boy stuck to his all time favourite chicken noodles, while I had a huge pile of seafood noodles for £7.90.
Completely recommend this place. The food was hot, tasty and fresh, and we’ll definitely be back. In a city where noodles bars are ten a penny it’s always a delight to find a new favourite!
6. Indulged in fluffy cream and berry meranigue at Le Pain Quotidien
We swung past the South Ken branch and nipped in for a glorious pavlova and coffee. We had takeouts, but what I love about eating in at Le Pain Quotidien is that coffee is served traditional French style, in white bowls.
7. Cuddled Pokemon by the Natural History Museum
It melts my heart that even at 9 years old Chiswick Boy still wants to cuddle his favourite characters. For the price of a quid dropped into the hat, this moment of joy is priceless!
8. Learnt some sobering facts about plastic in the oceans at Steppes Travel Beyond Festival 2017
Did you know that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans?
Or that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year?
Or that single use plastic items – bearing in mind these are made from a durable substance that has been designed to last forever – are on average used for five minutes and then discarded? They’re either recycled into items like fleece clothing which shed micro pellets of plastic every time they’re washed, which find their way into our water systems, our fish life and then into our food chain. Or they’re dumped and find themselves buried in landfill, or in our water, clogging up our priceless seas and rivers and posing a massive threat to our marine life.
These are just some of the things I learnt at the exhibition which was a thread running through the Steppes Travel Beyond Festival 2017 at the gorgeous Royal Geographic Society. (We were given free tickets to the festival by Steppes – thanks Steppes!)
I was so shocked that I’ve pledged to try and eliminate single use plastic from my life – more on this in a future blog post.
9. Heard two inspirational girls speak about what led them to set up Kids Against Plastic
As the sculpture above shows, single use plastic like carrier bags can have a devastating effect on sea life.
Amy (13) and Ella (11) Meek are sisters from Nottingham who were so shocked by the facts (and frankly adults’ reluctance to do anything about it) that they set up Kids Against Plastic.
Watching their talk at the Steppes Travel Festival I was struck by how self-assured they were – they gave a compelling presentation about Kids Against Plastic and showed unflinching passion in their campaign against single use plastic.
Apart from spending their summer clearing up Britain’s beaches, one of the key things Kids Against Plastic do is produce packs which help kids around the country convince local cafes to be plastic clever – helping their customers cut down on single use plastic by simple steps, such as not offering plastic straws or bags until asked.
Chiswick Boy took a pack, so watch out for hopefully some ‘plastic clever’ signs going up in local cafes!
10. Got enthused about the pink fairy armadillo in the Nick Baker talk
Chiswick Boy was really inspired by the talk from tv naturalist Nick Baker, particularly his story about hunting down the cutely named (and visaged) pink fairy armadillo.
Nick waxed lyrical about the joys of newt catching as a boy and wondered if current legislation to protect animals actually takes away some of that ability for children to develop a fascination with creatures and wildlife.
It’s fair to say that I’m not one of those people who’s fascinated by creepy crawlies. I shriek if I see a spider, and despite how often Chiswick Daddy tells me moths are beautiful I have yet to see it myself.
But I know that this is an irrational dislike, and Nick Baker’s talk on a lifetime fascination with weird and wonderful creatures was really compelling. If nothing else, it’s always fascinating to hear someone who’s passionate about something speak about that topic.
He was lovely and at the end answered Chiswick Boy’s questions. And I was inspired to look into a bit of adventure travel for us as a family, and rediscover some of the more wild adventures of my pre-child days.
So that was our week that was. What did you get up to? How do you feel about creepy crawlies? And would you ever give up single use plastic?