Sunday 30 June 2013

The London Sportive, south London, Surrey and Sussex

Starting in south London, this Sportive offers a choice of three routes (50km, 100km and 100 miles) looping through some surprisingly picturesque Home Countries scenery.  The 2,500-odd cyclists set off in what look like hundred-strong groups from Dulwich Park, with start times dependent on your choice of route and your estimated completion time. If you are doing the long route, it can mean a pretty early start (7.30-8.10am) amongst hard core road bikers clad in lycra and loaded with energy bars. As you'll see quite a few riders fixing punctures on the road side, you are best off taking an inner tube, tyre levers and a small pump, even though there are mechanics at the feed stations and motorcyclists scanning the route.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

England versus New Zealand, T20 at the Oval, south London

New Zealand just held off England in this high-scoring encounter at the Oval. The Kiwis notched up a free-scoring 201-4 in the allotted 20 overs, thanks to some profligate England bowling. Chasing that handsome total, the home team got off to a flyer. But then the sun went down, the floodlights came on, the wickets started to fall and the run rate with them.   Late in the innings, England captain, Eoin Morgan, was caught behind by an amazing high one-handed catch in the slips.  The match went down to the last ball, but crowd favourite Ravi Bopara failed to slog the six England need to win.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Limbo, South Bank, central London

Sultry, soulful and sensuous, Limbo is an edgy and intimate circus show in the best traditions of Cirque de Soleil. It is performed in an elaborate replica of a 1920s Spiegeltent (a wooden temporary structure originating in Belgium) erected on London's South Bank. The audience sit in a circle in half-a-dozen rows around the stage and even the cheapest seats are close to the action.  On the outer edge, there are tables with benches.

Friday 21 June 2013

The Old Oak, Rue Franklin, Brussels

A full-on Irish pub in Brussels' European Quarter, the Old Oak is awash with old-worlde paraphernalia, Celtic charm and television screens showing whatever football game is on in Europe. It draws in lively young Eurocrats and has a bit of atmosphere.  The pub is housed in a deep, slim nineteenth century building, but a massive stain glass roof in the back room prevents the place getting too dingy. The beers are bog-standard, but there is an impressive array of spirits on the shelves behind the bar. The run-of-the-mill menu is all about refuelling. You can get a cheese and bacon burger with chips for 11 euros. Although the meat is pretty low quality, the cheese and bacon help. And you get some half-decent chunky, but salty, fries. Better still, the Old Oak's staff are very welcoming. 7/10

Thursday 20 June 2013

Cloud surfing at St. Pancras, central London

The first in a series of pieces of art to be exhibited above The Grand Terrace, Cloud: Meteoros will be on display until the Autumn 2013. Selected by a panel of judges, including potter Edmund de Waal, Cloud: Meteoros  is the work of sculptors Lucy and Jorge Orta.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Inside Battersea Power Station, South London

Reputed to be the largest brick building in Europe, Battersea Power Station still has a formidable presence, even in its derelict state.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Rioja Tapas Fantasticas 2013, Potters Field Park, central London

Wine, woman and song - the Spanish band entertaining the largely Hispanic visitors to the Rioja Festival in the shadow of Tower Bridge

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Humane Hedges, Festival of Neighbourhood, the South Bank Centre

The Festival of the Neighbourhood at the South Bank Centre features some fantastic topiary depicting two figures clearing up after the 2011 London riots and two gardeners chatting over a fence. They were designed by Shipshape Arts who made the memorable giant fox that occupied the same spot two years ago. The Festival of the Neighbourhood, sponsored by MasterCard, features an eclectic array of installations celebrating a spirit of community.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Close of business in Green Park, central London

At 6pm on a glorious June evening, office workers spill into Green Park's 40 verdant acres, overlooked by monumental Devonshire House. 

Monday 3 June 2013

Walks around Downe and Cudham, Kent

 There are some surprisingly scenic walks in the countryside between the prosperous commuter village of Downe, which has handsome houses and a couple of pubs, and the M25. From Downe, take the B road towards Biggin Hill and then pick up one of the footpaths south west, towards the hamlet of Cudham. Soon you'll be descending down a steep path through the pleasant woods into a large and luscious valley, empty except for a substantial wood-beamed farmhouse and a few outbuildings. Only the occasional two-seater plane, heading back to Biggin Hill, might disturb the peace.