A Bear Called Paddington

 

“Have a marmalade croissant!” was how I was welcomed to the Museum of London one day this week. It’s not always like that but I was there to see the new Paddington Bear exhibition. After I enjoyed the wonderfully sticky pastry I was able to reminisce about happy childhood memories of Paddington Bear and his London adventures.

Paddington Bears around the world. L-R: Germany, UK, USA, Japan.  Image © Museum of London

Paddington Bears around the world. L-R: Germany, UK, USA, Japan. Image © Museum of London

How It All Started…

On Christmas Eve in 1956, Michael Bond (Paddington’s creator) bought his wife a small toy bear from a London department store and named him after the London railway station he travelled into each day from his Berkshire home. He started writing stories and adventures for the bear and A Bear Called Paddington was published in 1958, a couple of months after his daughter Karen was born.

A First Edition of this book is on display at the Museum of London for the free exhibition celebrating the loveable bear from ‘Darkest Peru’.

Curator Hilary Young prepares a signed first edition of the first ever Paddington story called A Bear Called Paddington. Image credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Curator Hilary Young prepares a signed first edition of the first ever Paddington story called A Bear Called Paddington. Image credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

There are some film props from the new Paddington movie out later this month but the rest of the display has come from the Bond family archives and has never been displayed before.

Paddington’s evolution is shown with Michael Bond’s typewriter that he used when he started writing about Paddington full-time and original sketches by Peggy Fortnum.

Paddington with Karen Jankel. Image © Museum of London.

Paddington with Karen Jankel (Michael Bond’s daughter). Image © Museum of London.

There are cardboard cut-outs and the Paddington puppet from the 1970s BBC TV animation series and and an original Paddington bear toy when merchandise became important.

An original plush toy Paddington by Gabrielle Designs (1980). Image © Museum of London.

An original plush toy Paddington by Gabrielle Designs (1980). Image © Museum of London.

I had one of these toys and remember how wonderful it was that a toy could stand up because he was wearing wellies. It seems the wellies were added to make children like me happy as Paddington was originally barefoot. Wellington boot manufacturers hoping to cash in on the new movie will be disappointed as the filmmakers have chosen to be true to the original style of bear and he doesn’t wear any footwear in the movie.

© STUDIOCANAL

© STUDIOCANAL

Paddington’s Picnic Weekend

If you need any more encouragement to see this lovely exhibition, on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November 2014, 12-4pm, there is an indoor family festival with crafts, storytelling and plenty of marmalade sandwiches.

Fan mail letter from Australia addressed to 'Paddington Bear, 32 Windsor Gardens, London' eventually found its way to author, Michael Bond. Image © Museum of London.

Fan mail letter from Australia addressed to ‘Paddington Bear, 32 Windsor Gardens, London’ eventually found its way to author, Michael Bond. Image © Museum of London.

Sherlock Paddington Connection

The timing of this exhibition is because of a new Paddington film which is released on 28 November 2014. And that also explains the 50 Paddington bear statues all over London too. The Museum of London have cleverly tied in their Sherlock Holmes exhibition by getting the Paddington Bear statue designed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Paddington Trail bear at the Museum of Museum. Image © Museum of London.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Paddington Trail bear at the Museum of Museum. Image © Museum of London.

A Bear Called Paddington Exhibition Info

Dates: 14 November 2014 – 4 January 2015
More info: Museum of London website
Admission: Completely free.

Lord Mayor’s Show 2014

 

The Lord Mayor’s Show is an annual event in November that, for some reason, I’d never attended before. I was even given the chance to be in the Parade a few years ago and turned it down. Yeah, that was daft as it is truly wonderful. Today, I’ve changed my mind about this London tradition and will be going every year from now on.

Alan Yarrow Elected New Lord Mayor of London.

HISTORY

The first Lord Mayor’s Show was in 1215. Today it’s about history and tradition as well as recognising what The City of London is today.

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TIMING

The Parade is the biggest part of the day. It is about three miles long and takes about an hour to pass you if you stay in one place to watch. It has a different route on the way back.

10.45am: Lord Mayor travels from Guildhall to Mansion House
11am: Procession leaves Mansion House
12.40pm: Lord Mayor arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice

1.15pm: Procession sets off from Victoria Embankment (near Temple)
2.40pm: Lord Mayor arrives back at Mansion House

5.15-5.30pm: Fireworks (from a barge on The Thames between Blackfriar’s Bridge and Waterloo Bridge)

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MY BEST TIPS

I took my daughter so didn’t want to be stuck in big crowds but what’s great about this Parade is that there were sections where it was 10 people deep and around the corner we could stand at the front. Plus, behind those deep crowds there was actually no problem walking around so you could almost visit The City and avoid the event which surprised me.

I also thought TfL might shut some of the tube stations along the route if it got too crowded in the area so we went to Barbican tube station which is about a 10-15 minute walk away from St Paul’s Cathedral. It turned out St Paul’s station was open all day but by going to Barbican we got to see the back of the Parade with absolutely no crowds. We chatted to some of the marching bands and then walked down to the Museum of London roundabout.

The high walkways to the Museum were great viewing spots so I’d recommend going there at 10am and seeing the Museum for a while and then watch the Parade from around 11am. We walked through at around 11-11.30am and saw loads.

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Next, walk up to St Paul’s Cathedral (the Parade turns down Gresham Street) and you can watch the Parade on the cathedral steps and then go inside and explore as it’s free admission – just for this day. We looked around for half an hour or so and then took a seat under the dome for the 1pm Peter and the Wolf performance. We saw Alistair McGowan narrating the story (apparently the Grandfather sounds like Doctor Who/Peter Capaldi) accompanied by the cathedral organ and a percussionist. And, yes, it was magical.

StPauls

After the performance, at about 1.30pm, head back outside and walk towards the Museum of London. Stop at Gresham Street (on the right) as the Parade will come down this street and turn either left or right (towards their parking spot to end).

Now, this was the perfect viewing spot as there was no-one there! Seriously, we watched for a good 10 minutes before others stopped to join us waving.

You do need to be prepared to wave and smile to every float and sometimes you’ll be rewarded with sweets but you’ll always get a smile.

We watched for an hour and had so much fun! Those in the Parade were not willing to show they were getting tired and still made sure everyone watching was having a good time.

There are lots of charity floats in the Parade so I was surprised at the lack of collecting money as we’d brought lots of coins ready to give out but only saw one to give to. It was mostly lots of high fives for the kids and dancing to the music.

You could spend a few hours warming up in the Museum of London or St Paul’s Cathedral and then watch the fireworks but we chose to go home.

Would I go again? Too right, I would! I’m a bit embarrassed I hadn’t gone before. From now on I hope to see this every year.

Official Website: http://lordmayorsshow.london

PHOTOS, LOTS OF PHOTOS

And here’s the bit you’ve been waiting for:

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Segways!

Segways!

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kilts

The Battle Bus

The Battle Bus

butchers

Inflatable meat!

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Look at the pipe he's smoking.

Look at the pipe he’s smoking.

One of the biggest sections was from Pimlico Plumbers who also brought Santa.

One of the biggest sections was from Pimlico Plumbers who also brought Santa.

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Seeing the Household Cavalry

 

Last weekend I visited Wellington Arch and Apsley House – two English Heritage properties at Hyde Park Corner, London.

Wellington Arch

Wellington Arch

There’s not a lot to see at Wellington Arch – there’s a small exhibition about the building and a special temporary exhibition (currently about WWI) – but time your visit well and you’ll get a great view of the Household Cavalry on their way to Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. At 10.30am daily the Household Calvary reach Hyde Park Corner from their barracks in Knightsbridge.

Household Cavalry1There’s a balcony on Wellington Arch so you can get this great ‘high up’ view of the ‘soldiers and horses’ passing.

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They go through Wellington Arch so the fun thing to do is to run to the other side to see them continuing on their way towards Horse Guards Parade.

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Next we went to Apsley House, the home of the first Duke of Wellington.

Apsley House

Apsley House

We were exploring the building when staff called us over to the window to see the Household Cavalry returning to their barracks.

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From the Waterloo Gallery we had a great view as they headed towards that tall tower block in the distance.

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I do love seeing these free daily ceremonial events in London, don’t you?

Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris & His Legacy

 

William Morris (1834-96) is known for many things. He was a gifted poet, architect, painter, writer and textile designer. He wanted everyone to have access to beauty as he felt beauty could transform lives.

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884    Filename: NPG_889_1328_WilliamMorrisb.jpg    Copyright: National Portrait Gallery, London

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884
Copyright: National Portrait Gallery, London

Morris, and his legacy, is the subject of the latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It explores the ‘art for the people’ movement and at least half of the exhibition is about his legacy as he died in 1896 and it features designers up to 1960.

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The exhibition has 70 portraits and 70 objects – unusual for the venue. On display is the only oil painting he did of his wife, Jane Burden, and he felt he couldn’t make paintings move as he could with words. Do note he was considered as good a poet as Tennyson or Browning.

La Belle Iseult by William Morris, 1858    Filename: NPG_889_1329_LaBelleIseultb.jpg    Copyright: Tate 2014

La Belle Iseult by William Morris, 1858
Copyright: Tate 2014

This satchel is a good example of the everyday functional design that he admired.

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And this is Morris’s own gold-tooled hardbound copy of Karl Marx’s Le Capital as he strongly believed you should “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

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At the preview for this exhibition I saw odd socks art critic again and ‘photo complainer’ who wanted to take photos inside Buckingham Palace in rooms where it wasn’t allowed and today wanted to not be photographed taking a photograph.

This is a one room exhibition and for that reason I think the £14 admission is quite steep. Also, because I know the collection at the William Morris Gallery well and know I can see many of the exhibits for free again when they return. My recommendation would be to go to the National Portrait Gallery for the Late Shift on every Thursday and Friday when there’s a nice atmosphere at the gallery and your admission ticket to this exhibition comes with a 2 for 1 drinks offer.

Full details on the National Portrait Gallery website.

King’s Cross Light Tunnel

 

This is an interesting addition to the transport network and navigation at King’s Cross Station. Instead of just having a subway to add another entrance for One Pancras Square there is a 90 meter lightwall tunnel leading into the Underground station.

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It is one of Europe’s longest lightwalls and was created by The Light Lab and Spiers+Major. The tunnel has a gentle curve and the walls are lined with repeating panels, backlit with LEDs, along the full length so there are no shadows.

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The lightwall contains 190 controllable vertical pixels set behind 12mm toughened glass and the idea is for the lights to create a soothing, relaxing journey.

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The flooring has long triangles in ceramic tiles to echo the ‘fin’ sections above.

The tunnel itself has been designed by architects Allies & Morrison and links St Pancras International and King’s Cross St Pancras Underground stations to the new public spaces, restaurants, offices and homes at King’s Cross.

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The tunnel’s entrance is in the north-east corner of the One Pancras Square building, accessed via an escalator hall.

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The lighting effect is in constant flux but it is quite soothing to watch. See a video here.

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The tunnel is open to pedestrians Monday to Sunday from 7am until 8pm.

Nearby: Pancras Square Swimming Pools

 

Little Blue Men

 

Last week, there was a temporary art exhibition at The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology which chose to integrate with the exhibits in glass cabinets instead of a display in another room. This was  ‘Nu’Shabtis Liberation by artist/archaeologist Zahed Taj-Eddin of Egyptian Faience.

Ancient Egyptians believed that putting little figurines in with them when they died would give them these little people to work for them in the afterlife. Or something like that. Anyway, these modern day little shabtis decided to rebel and assert their freedom so could be seen protesting, using a mobile phone, going shopping or walking the dog. I found them really funny and it was addictive to try and find them in the long rows of cabinets. And it did make me look at more exhibits than usual and make me want to return soon to have another look around.

Anyway, here are some photos and I hope they make you smile too.

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And this is the kind of thing I found while looking for the little blue men!

And this is the kind of thing I found while looking for the little blue men!

Big thanks to IanVisits for highlighting the exhibition.

106 Baker Street Cafe Review

 

Not just an address, this is the name of a new cafe which opened in London in August 2014.

They also seem reluctant to conform to other eatery ‘rules’ such as letting potential customers know about what they serve instead choosing to simply say there is a “seasonal all day menu”. And that menu can’t be listed on their website as it changes daily. 106 Baker Street chooses to be represented instead by a series of bespoke illustrations allowing the food to speak for itself, I’m told.

Let me interpret some of that for you as how do you know if the cafe has something that appeals to you? The focus here is on healthy dishes and there is a choice of salads each day. Expect to see quinoa, pearl barley and kale. Quiches, sandwiches and baked goods.

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The cafe is located next to the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street but there is little else of note on this stretch of the street. Of course, Madame Tussauds is on Marylebone Road around the corner. It’s within the Baker Street Quarter Business Improvement District which hopes to raise the awareness of the area.

Italian chef Daniele Pampagnin is behind 106 Baker Street and he already has TOZI Restaurant & Bar in London and 5&33 in Amsterdam so I have to presume he knows what he is doing. There’s certainly a mediterranean influence to the dishes on offer.

For a London cafe the space is surprisingly large with a wide aisle well-suited to the yummy mummy customers and their Bugaboo buggies. There’s room for 20 to eat in which includes a couple of great tables in a small secluded courtyard at the back (although next to the ‘sauna chalet’ toilet) plus further outdoor seating at the front for the smokers.

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When I visited at 10am on a weekday there seemed to be a mix of business meetings and mother’s meetings inside.

10am was probably a bad time to visit but for a cafe promoting an all-day menu I didn’t think that would be a problem. Yet all that was on offer was baked goods: a variety of croissants, muffins and cakes.

Gradually more plates started arriving from next door as the 106 Baker Street kitchen is actually based at the hotel next door as it is part of the same company. I have been informed though that the brand is independent and the food is prepped in the morning every day. Still messes with my head on the “freshly made” claim that was bandied around so much.

But before anything else arrived we had to place an order so I went for gluten-free carrot cake, a Sicilian watermelon juice and a tea. My friend chose a blueberry muffin, the pink grapefruit juice, and a cappuccino, and then a sausage sandwich/muffin appeared so she added that too.

You place your order at the counter and then take a seat and it’s brought to your table.

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As there is no actual menu with prices – no, not even when you’re there – I’m trying to remember some prices for you. Tea was Harney & Sons teabags and £2 for a pot, the cappuccino was £2.20 and the watermelon juice was £3.75. There was “cantalup melon juice” on offer too but I pointed out twice this was spelt incorrectly and couldn’t bring myself to try it after that (spelling nazi that I am).

So what was the food like? The gluten-free carrot cake had an unappealing flatness which is not something I’d encountered before in my recent venture into gf cakes. But taste-wise? Nah, sadly it was too dry and too sweet. Maybe it just wasn’t what I wanted at 10am.

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The blueberry muffin fared better and was tasty with some sort of gooey centre. The sausage sandwich had been popped in the sandwich toaster so was warm on the outside but still cold inside.

When it was time to leave there was a much better array of food on the counter so maybe the time of my visit wasn’t the best. I saw two sizes of box for takeaway salad (£4.50 and £7) so the prices were fine.

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We decided to get another pink grapefruit juice to take away – yes, that really was a hit – and I was persuaded to take the bottle of green liquid as I had pulled a funny face when I spotted it in the chilled cabinet. OK, I can tell you it was celery, cucumber, spinach and lime and while I generally take the healthy option and I don’t like food waste I had to throw this away.

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I’ve seen other reviewers truly raving about this place (see this one, and this and here’s another) and, I guess, lunch seems to be where they excel. But I will stand by my point that an eaterie website which chooses black and white illustrations over a real menu or actual images of the food they serve is selling themselves short.

I’ll leave you with the window slogan:

  • Good stuff
  • Freshly made
  • Every day
  • All day

And here are the opening hours:

  • 7.30am-7pm, Monday – Saturday

Website: www.106bakerst.co.uk
Twitter: @106BakerSt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/106BakerSt
Instagram: http://instagram.com/106bakerst
Address: 106 Baker Street, London W1U 6TW

pod Food

 

Lately I’ve been trying to be more inventive with takeaway lunch options than just another cheese sandwich. As a vegetarian, that was the default choice for a long time but now there’s a lot more variety on offer.

I’ve been trying to find alternatives to sandwiches and have a bit of a thing for the chop’d tofu salad so was pleased when pod got in touch and asked if I had tried their salad boxes. I hadn’t but now have and can tell you they are just as delicious.

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My daughter and I decided to share a Mango, Noodle & Cashew Salad (£4.99), a Purple Grape Juice Yogurt Pot (£2.60) and a Caribbean Blitz smoothie (£3.50). The salad and yogurt pots are ready to take away in the chilled cabinet and the smoothie ingredients are in a cup but you take it to the counter to be blended. It’s a good way to know exactly what’s inside your drink.

smoothie

pod has 23 locations across London and their freshly-prepared range changes every few months according to what’s in season. (I chose from the summer menu.)

During breakfast they serve scrambled eggs, porridge and energy-boosting smoothie blends. The lunch menu includes innovative salads, a variety of hot dishes, whole-grain baguettes as well as specialised lunches such as the detox, protein and gym boxes.

noodlesalad

pod is a great place to know if you need a gluten-free, wheat-free or dairy-free option or just a healthy and nutritious meal.

We both enjoyed our takeaway lunch although I’ll make sure I’ve got dental floss with me next time as I had lots of bits stuck in my teeth. But that point aside, I want to go back and try the hot meal options soon.

Official Website: www.podfood.co.uk

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The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face

 

Yes, that title got my attention too!

It’s an immersive experimental theatre experience by Shunt – a collective of artists creating and curating live performance in unusual locations within London.

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This new project has been commissioned by The Jetty – a former coaling jetty on The Thames at Greenwich Peninsula. It’s actually really easy to find and is only a 10 minute walk from The O2 and North Greenwich tube station.

The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is performed in a temporary space made out of shipping containers. Up to 30 people enter together and progress through the containers to different surreal scenarios.

Everyone has to take off their shoes and socks and go barefoot which only adds to the weirdness. You also have to carry your footwear with you in a white shoebox.

As the door shuts behind you, each room reveals a performer who does their best to make you feel somewhat squirmy and awkward. I’m not normally good with this kind of close arty theatre but I totally gave in to it as it is over far too soon. Be prepared for latex masks and an outdoor finale that surprised me again.

It’s bonkers but recommended and costs only £10 for 45 minutes of hypnagogic entertainment.

Do plan to stay longer at The Jetty as there’s excellent street food (I had the Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Dirty Beans) and the bar has some warm cocktails as it can get a bit chilly later in the evening. There are blankets available and heaters so don’t be put off. We met lots of nice people who also had a great evening.

TheJetty

The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is only on for six weeks (14 August to 28 September 2014) but The Jetty will stay and host all sorts of unusual and fascinating arts events.

Do note, The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is only suitable for people aged over 16.

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D

 

I love seeing films at the Science Museum IMAX cinema and their 3D choices are usually outstanding so I was pleased to be invited to see Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D.

Mysteries of the Unseen World3D

It’s a National Geographic film, narrated by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, featuring the work of acclaimed cinematographer Louis Schwartzberg, who is the only cinematographer in the world to have been shooting time-lapse film footage 24 hours a day, 7 days per week continuously over the past three decades.

In this film you can discover things that are too fast, or too slow or too small to see with the naked eye. Using time-lapse photography, electron microscopy and nanotechnology, you can take a closer look at a universe of creatures, processes and phenomena you never even knew existed.

You get to see the flight of a dragonfly – four wings all working indepently. Did you know a dragonfly can fly upside down? Nope, me neither.

Actually this film is full of ‘did you knows’. Did you know mosquitos see infrared vision so they can go to the warmer parts of your body to drink blood? Did you know bees see using ultra-violet (UV) light? Did you know a butterfly’s wings are covered in scales?

You’ll see the invisible rays of light all around us and the bacteria living on a human body. Yes, that means you and me. My favourite fact is that there are 1,000 bacteria in our belly button. Yeah, bet you feel itchy now.

We got to see what’s in the air, and, therefore, what we’re breathing in. We saw bugs with smaller bugs living on them. We saw close-ups that went in to the cell level.

I have to say this is my favourite 3D film I’ve seen at the Science Museum IMAX as it leaves you knowing there’s so much we never get to see and it changes our view of the world forever. Seriously, awe-inspiring stuff. Recommended.

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D (U) is suitable for children aged 8+. To see a trailer and for booking information visit: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/mysteries