A few days go, Mbosh and I attended the London Wine Awards in The Loft at The Ivy.
The London Wine Awards is the only wine competition where the most important wine judge in the world – the customer – casts the crucial vote.
Wow. Easton Regal is COOL. Like REALLY COOL. I was my most COOL self at Easton Regal and if only I had the body of Olivia Newton John, I’d don me some leather trousers, wiggle my bum and hang out there all day long, living on their sweets and brownies. (And the occasional amazing salad from The Modern Pantry next door.)
My week in pictures
Living in London is always an exciting and colourful experience and I share my life in real time as much as possible via Instagram.
Writing a London Lifestyle blog means my experiences are always rather eclectic – I’m often adding pictures of the latest café I’ve visited, new little shop I’ve discovered or the outfit I’m wearing.. l love the hidden corners of London and when I find a sparkly one, I share that too…
The Henley Festival is a magical annual event etched in the diaries and imaginations of anyone who’s anyone.. (like you now – etch it, quick.) It’s a five night explosion of of unrivalled revelry. Taking place the week after the Henley Regatta, it’s one of the biggest and best-loved arts festivals in the UK. BMW are the official sponsors of the Henley Festival and toot toot! They have kindly given me a pair of tickets to give away. The competition is at the bottom of this post so whizz down there and have a looksie.
Pip pip! What ho! Jolly good show! And Rule Britannia!
This Summer, (July 2 – 6th) sees in another spectacular Henley Royal Regatta, complete with knockout races, strapping oarsmen sporting a dazzling (terrifying) array of socks and blazers, and an atmosphere so sparkling and intoxicating, you’d think you were actually IN a glass of the most fabulous champagne.
Living in London is always an exciting and colourful experience and I share my life in real time as much as possible via Instagram.
I love writing a Lifestyle blog and my experiences are always rather eclectic – I’m often adding pictures of the latest café I’ve visited, new little shop I’ve discovered or the outfit I’m wearing.. l’m love the hidden corners of London and when I find a sparkly one, I share that too…
Lily Cole (actress-environmentalist-model-super-cool-chick-and-really-REALLY-lovely-too) has hooked up with Veja (awesome-French-ecological-funky-and-sexy-shoe-and-accessories-brand) to design a range of gorgeous, sustainable footwear, to help protect the Amazon rainforest. Oh yes she has.
I toddled off to the Hoxton Hotel earlier this week, to meet her, see the new limited edition collection and eat as many smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels as I could handle. (Which is a lot. There should have been applause. For me. Not Lily Cole.)
What many people don’t know is that Lily works her socks off as an ambassador for the Sky Rainforest Rescue – a partnership between Sky and WWF to help protect one billion trees in Brazil.
Sky and WWF work with the local government in Acre, northwest Brazil, to tackle deforestation by enabling local people to make a fair living from sustainable rainforest products such as rubber, which is a phenomenal initiative and one that Lily has taken to her heart with gusto – in 2013 she produced a hugely successful jewellery collection made from Amazonian wild rubber.. so she knows what she’s doing, does Lily.
Veja have raised awareness of the versatility of Amazonian wild rubber, which is a naturally occurring material, by using it in the soles of their trainers. They work with local rubber tapping communities including those in the Sky Rainforest Rescue project area in Acre. They buy the rubber at a price that guarantees a better income for the rubber tappers and enables them to keep the trees standing tall and strong.
Lily Cole has seen first hand how this rubber is extracted and has gone on to do exactly the same with her shoe collection, driving home the point that we CAN use wild Amazonian rubber to make beautiful and desirable products for people’s everyday lives. Love love love.
Her range of Veja ‘Taua’ style canvas trainers come in three gorgeous colours for Summer. The design celebrates the smaller flora and fauna of the rainforest – from the delicate wild mushroom to the enchanting hummingbird.
Lily’s inspiration for the design came from her 2012 trip to the Amazon where she saw the breath-taking beauty of butterflies, birds, dragonflies and plants that depend on the eco-system of the Amazon rainforest to survive. She obviously didn’t see any dinosaurs.. but it is a stark reminder of what can happen if we don’t pull our mindful-shopping socks up.
And investing in a pair of these trainers is one sure fire of doing this. For every pair of Lily’s Veja ‘Taua Amazons’ sold, Sky will donate £10 to Sky Rainforest Rescue to help support the livelihood of rubber tappers and equip them to tap six more trees, helping to protect the rainforest. £10! That’s flippin brilliant.
“The survival of the rainforest depends on managing its resources…During my trip to the Amazon, I saw firsthand the crucial part that Sky Rainforest Rescue plays in creating demand for wild Amazonian rubber for companies like Veja, and making the rainforest worth more standing.”
Yes, Lily. YES.
The limited edition collection will be available to buy online and through Offspring concession stores in Selfridges, London and Manchester, and Topshop, Oxford Street.
Prices start at £55 for the low top Veja ‘Taua Amazon’ trainer in Oxford Grey, to £65 for mid top Veja ‘Taua Amazon’ in Clementine and Nautico.
Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to be part of a very exciting union between TATE and Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts (Starwood Group). Unlock Art is an initiative, developed between both partners, with the aim of demystifying the exciting, complex and extraordinary world of art for ordinary folk like you and me.
When I say ordinary, I don’t mean boring or dull (obviously – we are fabulous), but rather those of us who have never studied art at any level higher than school.. maybe GCSE, or perhaps even at A Level.. To me, the art scene has always seemed to exist on another plane somehow.. slightly out of reach. Walking into a gallery can often be a bit intimidating and I have certainly found myself feeling a bit bewildered when faced with certain masterpieces, which have set the art world alight.. sometimes I just don’t get it. And I don’t think I’m the only one… (Yes, I am thinking about the messy bed…)
So, hats off to TATE, who, in partnership with Le Méridien, have produced an exciting series of eight short films offering an imaginative, witty, and enriching introduction to the world of art.
The films put art under the spotlight, with topics ranging from the history of the nude to humour, performance to Pop Art, presenting all the need-to-know facts. Bold in approach and rich in content. The film series was conceived to make the arts more accessible to a wider audience and they have achieved exactly that.
Each of the films in the Unlock Art series were released on a monthly basis and presented by a different celebrity. Not a typical arty high-brow celebrity, which you might expect, but a lovely, friendly, accessible one. You know – the ones we like.
Frank Skinner, Sally Phillips, Dawn O’Porter, Tamsin Greig and Peter Capaldi (among others) presented these dynamic, bite size films, which manage to convey the essence, history and meaning of each complex art genre with ease, expertise, fun and a little bit of silliness.
Don’t think for a second that just because these are joyful, accessible (no clever art lingo) and quirky shorts, that they’re not super smart and on the money. Ho no, for the mighty Jessica Lack (freelance art critic, former arts writer for The Guardian and deputy editor of TATE Magazine) developed all the scripts and they are fabulous.
Here is the final video produced, called ‘What’s So Funny?’ Tamsin Greig presents this film, which gets to grips with humour in art. From conceptual artist Duchamp to Dutch performance artist Bas Jan Ader, she discusses the central role that humour has played in art over the last 100 years…
I, along with a few other bloggers, have been on board this exciting Unlock Art train and we have been having an incredible ride. Each month we have watched the newly launched film at TATE before being whisked off by the fabulous Linda Bolton (art-historian-fashionista-wonder-woman) who has taken us around the TATE on a uniquely curated, hugely interesting and engaging tour devised by herself, which echoes and supports the film we have just watched.
This time Linda showed us some of the more humourous pieces on display, e.g. Lichtenstein’s – Mustard on White, through to Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’…
We have then rumbled back to Le Méridien Piccadilly, full of chatter and debate for some kind of extraordinary cocktail and other culinary treats… Here is Franz, working his magic in the Terrace Grill & Bar at Le Méridien Piccadilly. This is his very unusual take on the classic Manhattan..
Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists, which I love. They have come up with a fantastic idea to encourage their guests to visit forward thinking cultural institutions around the world, by offering them complimentary access. All they have to do is present their Le Méridien Unlock Art room key and they can explore a local, inspiring and cultural experience. Kaboom. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain – what could be better?!
All the events I have attended have been utterly thrilling. I have learnt so much about the world of art and it has been hugely exciting! I think I can safely speak on behalf of all the other bloggers; The Everyday Man, The Swelle Life and The Luxe Chronicles, when I say that it was a huge privilege and opportunity to be invited to explore this world with such knowledgeable, passionate and wonderful people… and in addition, to have also experienced the true luxuriousness and beauty of Le Méridien…but more on that in my next blog post…
For the final event, we were all invited to a spectacular finale TEN COURSE dinner in the Adams Suite, inspired by the Unlock Art film series and created by Chef Michael Dutnall and mixologist, Franz Zauner.
Before dinner, we all had time to go to relax and shower in our gorgeous rooms at the Méridien Piccadilly, where we were all staying that night. I opened my door and whooped. Audibly. Oops. And not just because my bed was as big as this…
But mostly because the Le Méridien angels had left me a little treat…
I obviously ate them both. Then ran around the room twenty times as I remembered the TEN COURSE meal I was attending later that evening… (I should point out that I wasn’t the only blogger that ate both the eclairs. But I don’t want to ‘out’ her (Denise) as that’s mean. But just so you know. IT WASN’T JUST ME.)
Holy moly. Ten courses… I should have worn my baggy pants.
It was amazing. The menu was divided into ‘acts’, with the wall film projections changing accordingly, with each act having been inspired by one of the Unlock Art films. It all began with cocktails and canapés… and concluded with the most triumphant dessert I have ever had. And that is saying something.
What an amazing dessert! A box of treats! Woot!
The meal was exquisite and the most perfect end to a fantastic program. So many oohs and aahhs of excitement with every new course presented.. and as the wine flowed, so did the conversation. We had oodles to say about our fabulous Unlock Art experiences… you couldn’t shut us up.
I crawled back to my beautiful room and into my deliciously comfortable bed (SO much tidier than Tracey Emin’s) where I pondered on the day’s and last few month’s Unlock Art events.. before drifting off into a lovely sleep and dreaming that Andy Warhol was trying to nick my eclairs.
Not on your nelly.
All the films are available for you to watch here…
I loved this production as soon as it started. The opening scene is powerful, simple, strong, eerie and gave me goosebumps…I was hooked. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting to be…
Originally a Western starring John Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin, I couldn’t work out how, in a space as dinky as the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, Jethro Compton was going to adapt the story to the stage…where would the horses go? Would there be sound effects? And the vistas! Where would the vistas go? Would there be some kind of dirt track projection? With rickety wagon sound effects? How how how how HOW?
But cor, has he come up with something clever. I was blown away.
I’m sure many of you have seen the film, but for those of you who haven’t, I won’t ruin it for you.. so in brief, the story follows a young scholar from New York City, named Ransome Foster. He is traveling in search of a new life and somehow arrives beaten and half-dead on the dusty streets of a small Western town called Twotrees.
The town soon becomes his home – he meets a girl (sigh), he finds purpose in teaching a young black man to read (hero) but things don’t run smoothly (obvs.) There’s love rivalry, (and Burt has a bigger gun) a terrifying incident with whisky and hot sauce.. oh, and a vicious outlaw who wants him dead. He must make the choice: to turn and run or to stand for what he believes, to live or to fight… to become the man who shot Liberty Valance. (You see, that’s where the title comes from. Clever.)
This is a tale of love, hope and revenge set against the vicious backdrop of a lawless society… and the exceptional cast and creatives have done it proud.
The staging is simple but perfect, set entirely in Hallie’s saloon. And the cast are completely fabulous. Special shout outs to Oliver Lansley, who played Rasome Foster, Niamh Walsh, who played the feisty and stubborn pocket-rocket Hallie Jackson, Paul Albertson as Bert Barricune, Lanre Malaolu as Jim Mosten and finally, James Marlowe, who played Liberty Valance and scared the bejesus out of me. (Actually stared at my feet for about 10 minutes at one point as I thought it best not make eye contact. You know, just in case.)
The production also features the legendary voice of Robert Vaughn, who you may know from The Magnificent Seven, The Man From U.N.C.L.E and BBC’s ‘Hustle.’ His gentle narrative voiceover truly added to the whole atmosphere and warmth of the production… an inspired addition, I thought… here’s a sneaky preview…
I was so impressed with this production – everyone in it is top notch and I’m thrilled for them. It’s gripping, full of tension, exciting, terrifying, powerful, very witty in places and, most importantly, it’s a wonderful story.
Please go and see this – it’s the blimmin’ World Premiere and it’s in little ole Finsbury Park.
Lucky us in London, eh?
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Runs until 22nd June
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “The characters are believable, the acting ridiculously good. Every pause, raise of an eyebrow, touch of a brow brims over with meaning and tension. [The play] will have you perched on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.” The Upcoming
★ ★ ★ ★ “Superb. A genuinely gripping drama and one I warmly recommend” Telegraph
“Ingeniously rework[ed]. The seven strong cast is excellent.” The Stage
“An enjoyable night of theatre with a set of fine performances, and will surely enjoy a popular run at the lovely Park Theatre.” A Younger Theatre
“A consistently absorbing, often moving and very unusual evening of theatre.” The Public Reviews