Sunday, 16 July 2017

James at Kew Gardens, South London

While most acts in the Kew the Music Festival attract a middle class, middle-aged crowd, Madchester band James draws a slightly more edgy audience. At this performance, there was a smattering of people under 30 and the thirty and forty somethings in attendance were convincingly clinging on to their lost youth - some of them even danced around babies and toddlers sleeping in pushchairs.  To be sure, you still get the picnic rugs, the prosecco and the parma ham. But the more fervent fans crowded into the dedicated dance area in front of the stage and occupied most of the picnic area immediately behind it.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Hampton Court Palace and Gardens, South West London

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Palais Royal de Bruxelles, Place des Palais, Brussels

Once the home of the Belgian Royal family, the imposing Palais de Bruxelles is now open to the public every summer. Built on the site of the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant, which was destroyed by fire in 1731, the main body of the current building dates from 1820. However, the facade was rebuilt in 1904 by Leopold II in the Louis XVI style, while the side wings date from the 18th century.  The Palace is separated from the Parc de Bruxelles by a wide cobbled street with no road markings, which provides a bumpy ride for cyclists.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Guildford Arms, Guildford Grove, south London

In a quiet residential area not far from Greenwich's tourist traps, the Guildford Arms is an elegant pub in a curvaceous Georgian building on a corner plot. It is flanked by a large leafy beer garden spread over multiple levels broken up with grasses and white birches. It is a peaceful spot late afternoon on a week day, but the renowned kitchen doesn't open until 6pm. Before then, it is crisps or nuts.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Mama Lan, the Pavement, Clapham, South London

Part of a small chain of Chinese restaurants specialising in Beijing street food, the Clapham branch of Mama Lan is a compact stripped-back establishment where you sit on benches around wooden tables. The menu features a variety of dumplings, spicy chicken wings, noodle soups and rice dishes, such as sweet chilli chicken and crispy ginger beef. Well presented and full of colour, the food doesn't tend to taste as good as it looks. The prawn crackers are a bit stingy for £2.50 and harder than you might like, while the dumplings (£5.50 for five) don't have enough flavour, and the chicken wings (£6.50) can be very bony. The beef noodle soup (£9.50) doesn't have enough meat, relaying heavily on the pak choi and chilli to maintain your interest. You can wash it all down with bottles of Chinese Tsing Tao beer (£4) or glasses of pinot grigio (£5), cocktails or fruit juices. There is also tap water, but it needs ice.  Mama Lan isn't expensive, but it isn't great. 6/10

Friday, 28 April 2017

Consent, The National Theatre, the South Bank, central London

A new contemporary drama, Consent is performed in the round in the National's Dorfman Theatre, ensuring most of the audience have an intimate and close-up view of proceedings. Written by Nina Raine, the play is cleverly-crafted, exploring the thorny issues of what constitutes consent and rape inside and outside marriage from multiple angles and viewpoints. The searing script effectively contrasts the rigid logic of the legal process with the emotional trauma caused by sexual abuse, highlighting the relativity of so-called justice.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Hyde Park, London

Following a downpour, the flatlands of Hyde Park are almost deserted. The Royal Park covers 350 acres of land right in the heart of London.