Sunday, 20 October 2019

Autumn in Wandsworth Park, South London

Unlike Battersea Park, you can cycle alongside the river in Wandsworth Park, a small, but lovely patch of green next to the Thames.

Harrods Furniture Depository, South West London

A Grade II-listed building completed just before the First World War, Harrods Furniture Depository now houses high-end apartments. Fully restored, the grand facade overlooking the Thames is as impressive echo of the luxurious Knightsbridge store.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Master Harold...and the Boys, The National Theatre, The South Bank, Central London

Image from the National Theatre web site
Set in 1950 in apartheid South Africa, Master Harold... and the Boys is a powerful play that unpicks the contradictions and cruelty of a society in which people aren't perceived to be equal. While often light on the surface, Athol Fugard's incisive script explores big themes, dissecting everything from the qualities we look for in great people to the subtle nuances that can undermine respect and friendship and the nature of beauty and conflict.  Although the action never leaves a park cafe and the set is unchanging, the wider world casts a dark shadow over the three characters wiling away a wet afternoon. Across the 100 minutes of the play, a figure we never see - an alcoholic cripple - exercises an extraordinary amount of influence over the events on stage.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

King William Walk, Greenwich, South London

One of the links between Greenwich's handsome hillside park and its historic riverfront 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Hotel Metropole, Place De Brouckère, Brussels

Still sporting its extraordinary late nineteenth century interior, Hotel Metropole is a throwback to La Belle Époque when Europe literally ruled the world. The grandeur of the reception area, with echoes of the bank that originally occupied this handsome building, will leave you open mouthed, while the creaky cast iron lift will leave you waiting patiently on the ground floor. As you would expect, the bedrooms are decorated in period fashion, complete with chandeliers, fussy wallpaper and velvet-roped curtains. By comparison, the breakfast buffet is a bit prosaic. But the still-magnificent Hotel Metropole is a very memorable place to stay. 8/10

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The Secret River, The National Theatre, the South Bank, Central London

Images from the National Theatre web site

Set in the early nineteenth century, The Secret River tells the fairly simple, yet absorbing, story of the struggle by a family of downtrodden Londoners to build a new life in Australia. They stake a claim to a plot of prime riverside land that has long been the home of the local Dharug people. From here, the rollercoaster of hopes and fears is fairly predictable. But the play conveys a powerful message, as the tension ratchets up, and the family are forced to take sides in the struggle for supremacy between the motley collection of former convicts from Britain and their aboriginal hosts. With a large cast and live music, this Sydney Theatre Company production is a feast for both the eyes and ears. While the spacious stage is quite spartan, the dramatic lighting and the precise percussion conjure up the Australian outback. When the family start digging holes, the sound of spades scraping on hard ground rings out convincingly. The Brits' faces are painted white, as if to emphasise their alien status, while they routinely refer to the locals as "the blacks". In another era of mass migration, this depiction of the disorientation and distrust, that often accompany dislocation, rings true.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich, South London

Overlooking the Thames and awash with nautical paraphernalia, The Trafalgar Tavern is a lively pub and restaurant selling good value beer.  Although it can be swamped with tourists and day-trippers at weekends, there should be just about enough seats, either inside or out, in which to make yourself comfortable.