Zippos Circus – OMG 2015


One of my favourite Easter traditions is seeing Zippos Circus on Blackheath. Every year there are new acts and every time I sit there with my mouth wide open in shock at what these performers can do. It’s great that in a world now dominated by screen-based entertainment for kids that we can still watch a show that makes the whole family happy.

Rastelli Clowns - Zippos Circus 'Unchained' _. (1)

The 2015 show is called ‘OMG!’ and is a two hour spectacle with plenty of laughs from The Rastellis – a classic clown troupe from Italy who use music and comedy antics to entertain. The trumpet playing attached to oversized clown trousers had us crying with laughter.

My first ‘OMG’ moment was when Salvatore did tricks with a diabolo that look like it was going to reach the top of the new circus tent. That would have been spectacular enough but he then used a diabolo that was on fire!

There’s acrobatics from The Zulu Warriors who throw each other around as if picking up feathers, and the Globe of Terror, with South American Lucius Troupe, riding motorbikes inside a sphere cage is scary but hard to look away.

Zippos Circus - Lucius team, Globe of Terror (1)

See a short video of the Globe of Terror on my Facebook Page.

Zippos Circus does have some animals but don’t get concerned about lions and tigers as we’re talking about horses and – my favourite – legendary Ringmaster Norman Barrett MBE and his talented budgies. Honestly, I love that act and look forward to it every year.


The equestrian acts were beautiful to watch and there was a part of the show was “prancing ponies” and the Frozen song “Let it Go!” which made the four year old with us very happy.

Odka is a woman who can fold and contort her body to fit inside a bottle – which is bonkers enough – but this year she can also fire a bow and arrow with her toes!

It’s a truly international show with the pick of the best circus performers from around the world. Duo Galaxy are from Germany and have a ‘Wheel of Death’ act that made me scared to watch but also scared to look away. Seriously impressive stuff.

See a quick video of Duo Galaxy on my Facebook Page.

Zippos Circus tours the UK from March to October each year so check for dates near you. Ticket prices start from £7 child, £9 adult.

Brown Pebble


The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is a fascinating place crammed full of exhibits. It’s a university museum so not very big but has some notable highlights.

The last time I had visited was for the Nu’Shabtis Liberation exhibition, also know as Little Blue Men, and I returned recently to bring my daughter. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours looking at the many glass cabinets as well as sketching and making notes.

We then went looking for the most amusing object names and while there are plenty funnier than these I have to say I like these ones.

Brown PebblePebble x 2Brown PebbleRough PebbleBrown Pebble

Bourdon Place Statues


It is always worth walking down a back street in central London as you never know what you will find. On Bourdon Place in Mayfair, W1, there are three bronze statues called ‘Three Figures’ by sculptor Neal French.

Bourdon Place Statues, Mayfair W1

The figures represent Terence Donovan, the photographer, on a photo shoot with the model Twiggy, plus a shopper who walks by and seeing the photo shoot.

Bourdon Place Statues, Mayfair W1

Photographer Terence Donovan (1936-1996) worked in the area from 1978 to 1996, according to a green plaque on the wall where his studio was on Bourdon Street. The artist of these sculptures has noted “A passing shopper stumbles upon Terence Donovan photographing the model Twiggy near to his studio in 1960s Mayfair” but I’m guessing there’s a mix up here. Donovan is well known for photographing the ‘swinging sixties’ in London, and he did seem to prefer taking photos out on the street, but he moved to 30 Bourdon Street when he branched out into film production.

Bourdon Place Statues, Mayfair W1

Anyway, let’s not pick on the artist as I like these statues. They were commissioned by Grosvenor Estates when they were redeveloping Fifty Grosvenor Hill as offices in this London conservation area. They managed to keep the ‘mews’ character of the area while creating five floors of modern open-plan offices inside. This sensitive redevelopment project also included more trees and this public art.

Bourdon Place Statues, Mayfair W1

Twiggy unveiled the trio of bronze figures in May 2012 and, I feel, they are well worth seeking out.

Bourdon Place Statues, Mayfair W1

Directions: The nearest tube stations are Bond Street and Green Park.

From Bond Street station, turn off Oxford Street onto Davies Street and Bourdon Street is 5 minutes down on the left. Bourdon Place is on the left.

From Green Park station, turn off Piccadilly onto Berkeley Street, and continue past Berkeley Square onto Davies Street. Bourdon Street is on the right. Bourdon Place is on the left.

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.



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.


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.



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)



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.


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.


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:


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






The Battle Bus

The Battle Bus


Inflatable meat!

LMS2 steamroller Malaysia LMS3 Waterloo1 Waterloo2 Waterloo3 owl horses eagles yellow LMS5 Herts1 LMS6

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Twitter: @106BakerSt
Address: 106 Baker Street, London W1U 6TW