16 April 2015

There's some great stuff happening in London, April to June 2015!


 It’s Your London has been away for a few months volunteering in Swaziland (see my last blog post)  but I’m back and catching up with all things London. Newsletters come with each new season full of great info but not too often clutter in your inbox!

Here’s your Spring 2015 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed (or other things you’ve heard about) send me an email (sue@itsyourlondon.co.uk) and I’ll get right back to you.

Have a look a Sue’s blog on the website (www.itsyourlondon.co.uk) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 3600 followers for the latest news!

Hope you enjoy your newsletter; let me know what you think!

Best wishes,



  •  April The  massive London Marathon takes over the streets and the nation’s hearts as  thousands struggle past the sights of London to raise incredible amounts for charity long after the elite runners have reached the end on the Mall. The crowds are huge and it’s great fun to join in.
  • May The magnificent Chelsea Flower Show is the greatest flower show in the world and it gets us in the mood for gardening with all that fabulous colour and design. Let’s hope we get some London sunshine too.
  • June We have a royal event called Trooping the Colour which marks the Queen’s official birthday, she has 2 birthdays (of course) but this is the public one. You can see the royals if you get there early and don’t forget to take your flag.  The end of June sees the start of Wimbledon when we all go tennis mad for 2 weeks and SW19 is the place to be.


  • April If you are looking for big names on the stage, look no further than American Buffalo at the Wyndham theatre starring Damien Lewis, John Goodman and Tom Sturridge. Bang up to date is The Vote at the Donmar Warehouse tracking the political events of the moment and will be playing in real time on May 7th when the election takes place, with a great cast including Timothy West. Golem at the Trafalgar Studios faces the issues of man and machine and who controls who in an innovative production.
  • May One of May’s big openings is The Elephant Man at the Theatre Royal Haymarket starring Bradley Cooper in the lead role.  I’m not sure if this comes under the ‘theatre’ heading but Al Pacino is on stage at the Apollo Hammersmith, in an ‘Audience with...’.   A lesser known Shakespeare play – King John -  has its first outing at The Globe. Noel Coward’s ever popular Hay Fever opens at the Duke of York starring Felicity Kendal.  At the London Palladium, Beyond Bollywood looks great fun, promising to be a dance extravaganza around a theatrical storyline!
  • June.  Another play or film turned into a musical hits the Phoenix. Theatre with Bend it Like Beckham the Musical, keep your fingers crossed that Beckham himself might turn up!  In a strange football co-incidence, the National Theatre is showing The Red Lion, about the passion that football inspires and stars Daniel Mays.  In the hope of fine evenings, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park brings us Chekhov’s The Seagull.


  • April A Sonia Delaunay exhibition arrives at the Tate Modern, her first UK retrospective of 60 years of work. The Royal Academy hosts the London Original Print Fair where work is for sale as well as viewing. The Deutsche Borse Prize shows its entrants at the Photographers Gallery
  • May Photo London at Somerset House is London’s first international photography fair, looks like being a major event. Not many new openings this month but shows to catch which close in May are: Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden at the Tate Modern: John Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends at the National Portrait Gallery; and, Inventing Impressionism at the National Gallery. .
  • June A key art event happening in June is the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show, is open for anyone to submit their work, few however are chosen to hang alongside some top names. The Tate Britain’s Fighting History explores conflict in history painting from the 18th century to the present day. Somerset House has an exhibition of The Jam: About the Young Idea examining their influence on music, style, politics and culture. This year’s Serpentine Pavilion will open for inspection from Spanish due SelgasCano, I hear it’s plastic!  Last but absolutely not least is a new Barbara Hepworth show at the Tate Britain.



  • April Borough Market, the ultimate foodie destination is holding a special St George’s day event which sounds English but we share our patron saint with many places including Catalonia so look out for a great mix of stalls and events from Spain and Britain. Just opened in March but worth a mention is the world’s first Google shop on Tottenham Court Road!
  • May.  Carnaby Street will host a Shopping Party with 20% off in many shops alongside music and generally good fun.  This area is now buzzing again so worth a visit any time.
  • June The Spirit of Summer Fair at Olympia exhibition centre has everything you never knew you needed for your home and garden and yourself London Jewellery Week sounds dangerous, showcasing big names and bright new talent at exhibitions, shows, and launches. Graduate Fashion Week at The Truman Brewery could offer insight into the next big thing in fashion.


  • April  The British Museum’s spring blockbuster exhibition is Defining Beauty: the body in Ancient Greek Art, but opening in April is Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation. This is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the history of this 60,000 year old civilisation, one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures. Apsley House, the former home of the Duke of Wellington, reopens this month so you can enjoy these fine historic surroundings again as the anniversary of Waterloo is marked.

  • May Museums by Night is a special event countrywide but London museums are joining in with fun events such as a nightime safari at the Natural History Museum, an event called Put that Light Out at the Royal Artillery Museum, simulating the blitz experience, a sleepover at the William Morris, Late Mad Men at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising and the rather scary The Night of the Bodysnatcher at the Old Operating Theatre! The Design Museum opens a new exhibition about shoewear -  Life on Foot: Camper at the Design Museum, looking at the impact of creative design and new technologies on shoe making.
  • June. Continuing the late theme from May, Sir John Soane’s museum can be visited for one night a month on a candlelit tour – it really is fabulous.  And continuing the shoe theme, the Victoria and Albert Museum brings us Pleasure and Pain – an exhibition about shoes! The Museum of London at the Docklands hosts Soldiers and Suffragettes, early press photography by Christina Bloom.
  • April  The foodie world is excited by the arrival of Le Chabanais from the people behind the famous Parisien restaurant Chateaubriand. More from Gordon Ramsay as Maze Grill opens in Chelsea where Aubergine was located and where he made his name. Tonic and Remedy claims apothecary inspired food with strong pedigree from the Great British menu chef Paul Welburn from Rhodes W1. Talking of strong pedigrees, Berber and Q is brought to us by Josh Katz and Mattia Bianchi whose priors include Ottolenghi and Galvin Bistro de Luxe.
  • May Wahleeah in Fulham will have a strong emphasis on cooking with beer. 2015 sees the 100th year of the Ivy so they closed in January to have a facelift and will reopen with a new menu mixing classics with a nod to southern European and Asian cuisines. They have also refreshed their art work so expect a whole new look focussing on British art, especially emerging talent.
  • June The Taste London festival comes to Regents Park with an enormous  annual gathering in Regent’s Park where ordinary food lovers get to sample small dishes from great restaurants at manageable prices. Jason Atherton’s new tapas wine bar opens in Marylebone called Social Wine – I do like the sound of this one. The famous Chutney Mary Indian restaurant which has been on the Kings Road is upping sticks and moving to St James. Focussing on sustainable seafood in the City, Bouillabaisse is brought to us by Kurt Dzesar from Chotto Matte.

  • April Chelsea Physic Garden opens a brand new area, the World Woodland Garden, and you can enjoy displays of medicinal plants from all around the world and be amazed that it was founded way back in 1673! Hampton Court Palace is celebrating its 500 years so they are putting on events to mark this milestone. 
  • May. Regents Park Open Air Theatre season starts, running throughout the spring and the summer including Peter Pan in the repertoire this year. The ultimate in gardening is the Chelsea Flower Show where you will be inspired for the rest of the year! St James’s Park is having Victory in Europe Day (VE) celebrations with a big party where performers will include Katherine Jenkins, Pixie Lott, Alfie Boe, Ian Lavender, Status Quo and Strictly Come Dancing – quite a line up.
  • June Taste Festival comes to Regent’s Park with the chance to taste small dishes from many of London’s top restaurants in the lovely surroundings of this famous park. The Hampton Court Festival hosts favourites such as Jules Holland, Burt Bacharach and Paloma Faith in the grounds of the Palace along with comedy shows and fireworks.


  • April The big deal is the London Marathon which is a huge event for elite and ‘fun’ runners alike. It takes over London and the television and we admire and weep with them. We also have County cricket at the Oval and the FA Cup semi finals at Wembley.
  • May The BBL (British Basketball League) playoff finals come to the 02.  20/20 cricket gets a new set of fans at the Oval followed by a more conventional test series against New Zealand with a game at Lords. It’s a big month for football with the FA Cup Final at Wembley and the Championship play offs which are always exciting.
  • June It’s tennis time with the warm up men’s’ events at Queens and then headlong into the start of Wimbledon when everything stops for 2 weeks especially when Murray is playing. Wimbledon is a wonderful event and although it’s almost impossible to get a seated ticket, you can join the famous queue for general entry and soak up the atmosphere.

  • April Somehow, and wonderfully, still alive, Wilko Johnson plays at the 02 Shepherds Bush. Popular classical pianist Lang Lang plays at the Royal Albert Hall and in a complete contrast the same venue hosts Status Quo as part of their current tour! Catch Lynyrd Skynrd at the Apollo Hammersmith. The Blow Monkeys are Under the Bridge, Chelsea and Ben Howard is playing in Alexandra Palace.
  • May Boyz 11 Men bring soul to the 02 and Olly Murs also plays there but in the larger Arena, as are S Club 7 on their revival tour – their first for 10 years - and the great Mark Knopfler and Band. However, the big name at the 02 is Paul McCartney. Cult folk singer Rodriguez is on at the Royal Albert Hall and then Eric Clapton takes up his annual residence there and then the summer starts properly with the Beach Boys!  Also in the world of contrasts The Forum hosts Fabio and Grooverider in the same month as Billy Ocean.
  • June It’s a busy time at the 02 following May’s list with Fleetwood Mac, Take That, John Legend and Goldie Looking Chain. Head to the 02 Shepherds Bush for wonderful Hozier and to catch Holly Johnson too. Brian Ferry celebrates his new album at the Royal Albert Hall, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga team up for a charity event at the same venue. British Summer Time Festival returns to Hyde Park with The Strokes, Blur, Kylie, The Who and Taylor Swift over 2 weekends, with great support acts like Paul Weller, Kaiser Chefs, Ellie Goulding and Grace Jones.





*All listings correct to the best of my knowledge but exact details should be checked with each venue.

9 April 2015

It's good to be back in London!

After 9 weeks away it was certainly good to be back in London! I'd been to Africa, living a different life, meeting different people and having different experiences and landing back in Heathrow into a sunny spring day brought a big smile to my face. I love being away and exploring the world but it's always good to be home. 

Here's a whistle stop tour through those 9 weeks with just a few photos to illustrate my experiences, I will save you from the rest of the 3,500 photos I took!

The first 6 weeks were spent in Swaziland volunteering on a building project, helping to finish a school building for young children, many of whom are orphans. AIDS has had a devastating impact on Swaziland and many families take in children whose parents have died or are ill, putting great strain on them, so these children need somewhere to go during the day for food and education. Our task was to finish one large schoolroom, plastering it inside and out and laying the floor. That sounds so easy but with no power tools and having to fetch water from a tap across the field it was hard work, but we somehow managed to finish it and I gained all kinds of extra muscles!

Hard at work..
Even harder work!
Here are the kids we were building the school for

Luckily there was some spare time during the project to explore Swaziland and to take some side trips to Mozambique and Kruger National Park. In Kruger I was able to fulfil my long held wish to see a leopard and we managed a really close up and personal meeting with this most beautiful beast and to add to my joy we had the opportunity to see several rhinos, a real treat when I think of how few are still left in the world. 

My beautiful leopard

A pair of precious rhinos

One African country that has fascinated me for most of my adult life is Ethiopia with its rich history and fabulous scenery so I decided to spend a couple of weeks touring around after my volunteering. After waiting so long to go there was I disappointed? Absolutely not! Travelling through incredible mountain ranges, and climbing some of them (!); visiting richly painted churches and seeing the religious traditions; learning about their proud rich culture; and, eating their wonderful food - how could I be disappointed. It's hard to pick out just a few highlights to show in my photos but here goes....

Firstly the mountains:

Extraordinary  landscapes in the far north near Hawzen

The endless vistas in the Simien mountains
Churches and traditions:

Highly decorated church interiors are everywhere

Parading church treasures on a special day

The incredible St George's rock hewn church at Lalibela
The food and drink:

Tasty shiro
Everything comes with injera - a type of bread used to eat with
St George - the national and best beer

The people, I couldn't whittle these down any further....:

Deacons and priests chanting

At the cattle market

There are always people walking to and from market

Praying at St George's church on the saint's day

More walking...

Celebrations on a  special church day

School pupils all have uniforms and of course walk to school...

People arrived as if from nowhere whenever we stopped

And not to be missed - the highest bar in Africa!

In the Simien mountains - cheers!
I loved my time away, it was a fantastic trip full of fun, exploring and challenges. However, it was really good to be back in London!

Bye for now,

3 January 2015

What's on in London January - March 2015?

My London Living blog will be taking its annual winter break as I go to Africa so here's my London newsletter which features a choice of listings for the next 3 months of happenings in London, to keep you all busy. It normally just goes out to subscribers but I thought I'd share it on my blog this year. 


·         January 2015  A big tradition of the festive season is the January sales with massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. Watch out for Burns Night on 25th when you’ll find Scottish traditions breaking out all over London so why not try some haggis this year!

·         February Love is in the air with arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events.  Ready yourselves for Pancake Day races around London, one of the best being at the Guildhall in the City where the livery companies race and toss pancakes while wearing their very special traditional costumes! February also brings us the Chinese New Year, a big event in London, as we welcome the year of the Goat. 
·         March St Patrick’s Day is big all round the world and London is no exception as the Guinness flows and we have a huge parade and dancing and bands so get out that green outfit and join in the fun in Trafalgar Square.

  • January 2015 James McEvoy takes the lead role in The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Studios. A new Tom Stoppard play, the first for 9 years, called The Hard Problem opens at the National Theatre. My Night with Reg opens at the Apollo theatre with Julian Ovenden from Downton Abbey.
  • February Beautiful – the Carole King Musical opens at the Aldwych theatre so it’s bound to have great songs.   There is an unusual semi opera but anything starring Mark Rylance is worth booking – Farinelli and the King at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse.  The highly praised Arthur Miller View from the Bridge transfers to the West End starring Mark Strong.  Ralph Fiennes stars in Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National Theatre.
  • March Juliette Binoche stars in Antigone at the Barbican.  For a very short run the Coliseum has Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in the English National Opera’s staging of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber. Family drama comes to the National with Rules for Living starring comedians Stephen Mangan and Miles Jupp.

  • January 2015 There’s a block buster at the Royal Academy – Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne so expect work from a whole range of big names as well as his own. The London Art Fair, the largest in the UK is a great chance to see a whole range of work across many media from the early 20th century to the present day at the Business Design Centre.
  • February The National Portrait Gallery is staging Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. At the Photographers’ Gallery an exhibition of over 200 press photos on the theme of Human Rights and Human Wrongs document key world events from 1945 to the 1990s. The Hayward Gallery has a topical show ahead of the election called History is Now: Seven Artists take on Britain.
  • March A good looking show opens at the National Gallery this month, Inventing Impressionism, a touring show looking at the period 1865-1905. Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings have a rare showing at the Royal Academy. Christina Mackie is taking over the Duveen Galleries at the Tate Britain with her complex tableaux which seem to defy categorisation! 

  • January 2015 January is the big time for sales and massive bargains to be picked up all around town. Keep an eye open for Alexander Wang’s first London shop sometime ‘early 2015’
  • February It’s London Fashion Week so Somerset House will be    swarming with amazingly well dressed and strangely dressed people and there are many other venues across London too.  Feels odd that they will be showing autumn/winter 2015 already!
  • March It’s a great time of year to be visiting London’s many outdoor markets, from Portobello for antiques and knick knacks, food and fashion, to Borough for food, to Columbia Road for flowers and Spitalfields/Brick Lane for anything you might want.

  • January 2015 The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a feast for the eyes at the Natural History Museum and you’ll wonder how they got those shots. The Science Museum has a new exhibition called Churchill’s Scientists which sounds fascinating.
  • February Don’t miss some of the great shows in town such as Grayson Perry: Who are You? at the National Portrait Gallery, looking at British identity. The endless fascination with Sherlock Holmes is explored at the London Museum and the British Museum’s  Ancient Lives, New Discoveries explores another great fascination – mummies and the hidden secrets of 8 of the museum’s collection.
  • March The Natural History Museum’s new exhibition is Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea includes coral collected by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle expedition.  The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, an overview of his career which is transferring from New York. The British Museum delves into Greek sculpture with Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art showing their own work but with many pieces loaned from museums around the world.  The British Library has a Magna Carta exhibition to mark its 800 years.
  • January 2015   Burns Night sees London’s restaurants break out the traditional Scottish dishes so look out for haggis, neeps, tatties with some whiskey to wash it all down. The end of the month seems to be the new date for AlanYau’s Soho opening of Duck & Rice, a Chinese gastropub!  January also sees the return of the pop up Redemption serving up mocktails and vegan food so coming to the aide of those giving up booze for the month. The Sky Garden is due to open at the top of the Walkie Talkie where the views will be excellent. 
  •  February/March  There are a number of restaurants listed as opening in early 2015 but without exact dates – often the way.  So here are some of them: W36 a sister restaurant to Beach Blanket Babylon heads just north to Golbourne Road; The Chiswick Smokehouse speaks for itself; the Pulia in Borough Market will be an eat-in deli specialising in Italian food from Puglia; Smith and Wollensky opens their first New York steakhouse in the UK just off The Strand; Milos, Greek fine dining comes to Regent Street; and, finally the huge 200 seater Percy and Founders opens in Fitzrovia with 3 bars. Or you can catch a Real Food Market along the Southbank any weekend for a healthier start to this year's spring.

·         January 2015 The 30th January is the anniversary of the shocking royal event in 1649 when King Charles 1 was beheaded, so this seems like the right time visit the Banqueting House, the site where it happened,  as they hold a service on that day.
·         February The Fashion Rules exhibition continues at Kensington Palace with outfits from the Queen, Princesses Margaret and Diana from the 50s to the 90s. Blow the cobwebs away with a guided walk around royal Richmond Park.
·         March.  March is a fabulous time to wander round London’s large and varied parks – Regents Park, Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Holland Park to name just a few. The flowers will be in bloom and the leaves coming out on the trees and, as London is one of the greenest cities in the world, there is a lot to enjoy. Or visit Hampton Court Palace to watch one of their live Tudor cookery demonstrations.

  • January 2015  Basketball fans can enjoy the NBA Global Games as the New York Knicks take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the 02 Arena. Not for me but the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships take place at Tooting Bec Lido. Masters Snookers is at Alexandra Palace with the best 16 players around and TNA Impact Wrestling at Wembley Arena.
  • February The biggest sporting event in February is Rugby Union’s 6 Nations tournament played across all these nations’ capital cities with key matches at London’s Twickenham Stadium. It’ll be a warm up for the Rugby World Cup here in the autumn.  Elite Cycling takes places at the former Olympic Velodrome as part of the Revolution event if you want to experience the famous roar and see cycling’s top names.
  • March As the football season races on the Capital One (used to e called League) Cup final will be held at Wembley and England will play Lithuania in a Euro 2106 qualifier. The Head of the River Race takes place on the Thames and is world’s largest continuous rowing event with 420 boats covering 4.25 miles. 

  • January 2015 Queen featuring Brian May appear at the 02 with Adam Lambert as part of their European tour.  Top jazz-funk man Roy Ayers will be playing at the Jazz Cafe. London based Jessie Ware is at the 02 Academy Brixton. Paolo Nutini wows the 02 and Nils Lofgren is at the Union Chapel. Jessie J takes on the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
  • February  Catch Elbow at the Eventim  Hammersmith and in the same venue, D’Angelo and Sam Bailey. The Kaiser Chefs come to 02 and Ruby Turner is playing at Ronnie Scotts. The Christians play at the Jazz Cafe for a trip back to the 80s. Katherine Jenkins sings at the Royal Festival Hall and Bonnie Tyler belts it out at the 02.
  • March Catch Sam Smith’s lovely tones at the 02 Academy Brixton. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds come to the 02 Arena featuring their new second album  Chasing Yesterday. The 02 also hosts the Country to Country Festival with Lady Antebellum headlining. Tobacco Dock stages the London Electronic Arts Festival with performances, screenings, interviews and installations.  In complete contrast Mariza, the queen of Fado comes to the Barbican and I’m looking forward to this one.  Jazz star Dr John is playing his tribute to Louis Armstrong at Ronnie Scotts and Lionel Ritchie appears at the 02.

Sue Hillman