Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Royal Wedding Fever

London is currently a vision of red, white and blue.  With less than two days to go until William & Kate tie the Royal knot, there is definitely a buzzing sense of excitement in the air.  People across the country are digging out the bunting and dusting off their finest vintage crockery in preparation for one of the many street parties which will take place up and down the land.  Even Downing Street is having one! London parks are gearing up for masses of picnicking revellers who will watch the wedding unfold on giant screens.  It really is going to be a right Royal knees-up!

I will be watching it on television, from the comfort of a sofa with my dear friend in the countryside. We will no doubt be enjoying lashings of Pimms, cucumber sandwiches, Melton Mowbrays and mugs of Earl Grey, whilst donning homemade Kate & Will masks, humming Rule Britannia and taking in every detail of The Dress. Then off to the village pub for a few celebratory jars of ale, before heading back to London and the wonderful aftermath of the big day.

So not wanting to miss out entirely on the Royal Wedding build-up in London, I decided to take myself off to Westminster Abbey this afternoon so I could immerse myself in pre-wedding fever.  Outside the Abbey, some hardcore Royalists have already set up camp, securing their tents and sleeping bags in prime positions. And with the glorious weather this week, it surely beats Butlins - free accommodation in the heart of London!

The campers have come from far and wide and include some American Royal 'super fans', as well as John Loughrey, a vehement Royalist from South London who was the first to arrive early on Tuesday morning.  He's not getting a moment's peace as all the news and television crews are queuing up to interview him.  He's clearly in his element!

I then made my way from Westminster Abbey, down past Horse Guard's Parade and along The Mall which is looking magnificent and regal with all the Union flags adorning its entire length up to Buckingham Palace.  Surprisingly no eager queue pitchers camping on The Mall as yet.  However, various news crews from around the globe have set up camp in an impressive large green office block type building which has been temporarily erected just opposite the palace. I saw the Fox news hounds enthusiastically talking to camera, spreading the latest wedding goss, live across the pond. And then a strange bunch of Queen and corgi mask-wielding tourists caught my attention...

 A quick hop across leafy Green Park and a wander down Piccadilly, I arrived on Regent Street which also looks resplendent in giant Union flag bunting. It is nice to see that nearly all the shops along Regent Street have dressed their windows in a regal fashion as a courteous nod towards the big day.

I had a wonderful afternoon in the sun, walking the route and absorbing the atmosphere.  Which just leaves me to offer my own congratulations to the happy couple.

The Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton
Friday 29th April 2011

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Candid Arts Cafe

Hidden down a back street by Angel station is a wonderful discovery. The Candid Arts Trust. Housed in a characterful old brick building over various floors, it is a haven for all artists, designers, film makers and creative types alike.

Whether you want to drop in and get involved in a life drawing class, or attend one of the numerous exhibitions and events they hold, there really is so much creativity going on behind those discreet doors.  They even have a variety of interesting studios and gallery spaces available to hire for shoots, events, private parties and workshops.

But my favourite bit has to be the Candid Cafe.  A lovely room full of cosy tables including one long refectory table and a handful of comfy sofas and armchairs.  Candelabras dripping with candle wax, pieces of eclectic art adorning the walls, fresh bunches of hand picked flowers on the tables, and windows overlooking the pretty courtyard below which is open for alfresco refreshments when the sun is out.

Candid Cafe is a perfect place to meet a friend over a hot chocolate or a bottle of Merlot, or even just go alone and chill out with a good book or your laptop.  The food is simple, tasty and homemade with a healthy, Mediterranean, and predominantly vegetarian flair, and the staff are friendly and easygoing.

I've been going to Candid Cafe for a few years and it's a great place to relax and while away the time whatever the weather.  So when you're next in Angel, go and enjoy a bit of Candid time.  But it's the kind of place you'll want to keep to yourself, so don't tell everyone!

Candid Arts Trust
3 Torrens St, EC1
Cafe open Mon-Sat 12-10pm  Sun 12-5pm

Monday, 11 April 2011

Saltoun Supper Club

Supper clubs are few and far between in South London, so it was wonderful to discover the Saltoun Supper Club. So good in fact, I've been there twice. Located in a cool, quirky flat in Brixton, the supper club is run by a lovely South African guy called Arno, who is quite clearly a very creative and interesting character.

The four course dinner was scrumptious on both occasions and included interesting dishes such as smoked ham with caramelised pear; cauliflower and parmesan gnocchi with truffle oil (totally amazing); duck breast with roasted root veg and the most exquisite ensemble of chocolate brownie with homemade peanut crackle and ice cream.  The ingredients are of a high quality and I would say his cooking competes with the standard of any good restaurant.

Every Wednesday and Thursday, Arno transforms his dining room into a 16 seater restaurant.  Cosy candlelight, interesting decor and a wonderful aroma of food, create the perfect welcoming ambience. I particularly like the way he has decorated one wall by delicately mounting a multitude of strange little artefacts in neat rows. Butterflies, a seahorse, a miniature wicker chair, a small pair of scissors and a giant plastic fly all parading in perfect harmony.

On both visits, I took some great friends (and my lovely cousin) along, who all thoroughly enjoyed it.  Arno is a fantastic host, and even though the kitchen is open plan, you really don't notice him, beavering away behind the scenes, working his magic, whilst his friend plays the perfect waiter, both so attentive and friendly.

After the starters, it is encouraged for diners to disappear up to the sitting room for a break. This lovely room with it's sloped ceiling, odd little 'Being John Malkovich' type doors and mountain of higgledy piggledy books against the wall, is a perfect place to retreat, play with Slinky and enjoy a glass of wine, before returning downstairs for the next course.

Arno's piece de resistance is his petit fours which he painstakingly creates with such incredible attention to detail.  The floral decorations on the white chocolate pieces alone, were a beautiful art form.

If you fancy eating some superb food in lovely, arty surroundings, I can't recommend Saltoun Supper Club highly enough.  Take some friends, take a few bottles of wine and go and treat your tastebuds to a night to remember.

Saltoun Supper Club, SW2
Wednesday & Thursday
Contribution £35 per head

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