Archive for the ‘Holland Park’ Category

Saturday 12th August 2017
Our last morning in Paris was spent at Culture Rapide drinking coffee and relaxing in the early morning sunshine before gathering our belonging and making our way to Gare du Nord to catch the 3:30pm Eurostar back to the UK.

IMG_2778As always Paris has been good to us; catching up with friends, meeting new like-minded souls, eating a vast amount of fantastic food and spending time in one of our favourite cities where the pace is gentle and the people are welcoming.

Arriving back in London is an assault on your senses. St Pancras is buzzing with the sound of kids running around and families waiting to board trains for a multitude of destinations.
We hoped on board a Thameslink train (direction Bedford) without checking that it stopped at all the stations on the line; of course it didn’t! We ended up getting off at the first available opportunity, which happened to be St Albans, turned ourselves around and took this gentle reminder that we were no longer in Paris, things weren’t so simple here and we must remember to check everything, twice.
Arriving at our hotel in Kensington about an hour later than planned was not such a big deal. We checked in, dropped off our cases and bags and headed straight out to see what the area was like.
Our hotel is just around the corner from the Olympia which had just closed its doors on a 3-day beer festival and you can believe it when I say everyone there seemed to have had a ‘merry’ old time; I’ve rarely seen such drunkenness in the streets of London. Everyone was in good spirits and as well as the beer, seemed to have indulged in odd head-wear (chickens, unicorns and frogs seemed to be the most popular and I bet the company that had the stall selling these were in good spirits too). Also at the end of the street we are staying on is the London publishing offices for Universal Music Group, home to some of the world’s leading writers and artists across a huge range of genres and sub-labels.
This time next summer they will have moved into a new building at Kings Cross / St Pancras: https://umusic.co.uk/umusic-blog/fourpancrassq

Feeling tired and not in the mood for a big night out, we stopped in at a local Pizza Express, had a quick bite to eat and made our way back to the hotel for the evening.

Sunday 13th August 2017
Everything in London seemed a little odd today.
We knew about the Sunday Trading By-Law that is in place in England, but hadn’t remembered it all being so strange. We popped into a large TESCO store near our hotel to pick up a few bits ‘n’ pieces. It was 10:45am and although the place was quiet (for a mega store) there were still a fair few customers filling their trolleys. We were about to make our way to the cash desk when “Bing-bong customer announcement: I’d like to remind customers that we are not able to process any transactions until after 11am on a Sunday. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Bing-Bong”.
I found myself asking “why have you opened the doors then? What’s the point in letting people in if you can’t serve them?”  I wondered if it was so people could fill their trolleys and be ready to hit the tills as soon as 11am arrived?
Problem was easily solved as there was a little coffee place (they were allowed to serve us due to only having a few staff members) with free WiFi – soon we’d be able to process our purchases and start our day properly.

Later we walked along to Kensington High Street before making our way to meet our good friends Joe & Martin for lunch at The Windsor Castle. The bar was originally built in 1826 and is now a Grade II listed building. They have a lovely courtyard space with outside bars. We didn’t spend much time inside, but it seemed to be very traditional with lots of real ale pumps and dark wood. I imagine in the winter it’s a wonderful cosy place to spend your time, but on a lovely summer day we were best placed at one of the picnic style tables out back.
From there we wandered through Holland Park which was incredibly busy so we didn’t stay too long. We walking through Notting Hill Gate, Regents Park and finally hitting Baker Street. By this point in the afternoon it was time for another coffee before a spot of window shopping and the occasional rest in parks along the way before finding somewhere to have our evening meal. We ate at Cinnamon Spice – cheap and cheerful but full of wonderful flavour and spice (just as the name might suggest).

Sometimes it’s easy to look at London and see only the good bits; beautiful parks, historic streets, great venues and a multi-cultural community where everyone is welcome.
At other times it’s easy to see the city as a difficult place; dirty and filled with people rushing to and fro, no time for manners or stopping to admire everything on their doorsteps.
Today was somewhere in between. The grass isn’t always greener and perhaps after 3 weeks away from home (and our home comforts) I’m starting to miss Edinburgh and everything that makes our home city so great.

NEXT UP:
Sacre Noir @ SINK! The Blueberry Bar, Shoreditch for Plugged In Switched On

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Sunday 27th July – Day Off, Paris
After the success of the Paris leg of this year’s summer tour and some much needed sleep, we went into the 10th Arr. & had brunch in a lovely bar called ‘Swinging Londress’. It was great value (quiche, salad, eggs, rice & olives, bread, juice, coffee & dessert for €12), with great service and in a really nice location too.

Sunday Brunch in Paris

Sunday Brunch in Paris


Later in the day we went back to Au Chat Noir as I left my hat & mask the previous night after our show, before heading out into the suburbs for a BBQ with friends and in the evening we ate at an American style café.
Paris street art & AlexisSs

Paris street art & AlexisSs


Having had a pretty lazy day, we went back to the apartment to discover that a local music fan had filmed our show from Friday night at AbracadaBar and uploaded the full set to YouTube. Although we always record our rehearsals and live shows to watch back and evaluate, the angle is usually from the side of the stage and it’s often more like watching again from your own viewpoint rather than that of the audience. As this was all from the audience’s view it provided us with a little insight into the delivery and performance aspect of a Sacre Noir show, which was really nice.

We were really pleased with our set after the show and having watched it back we were pleased to see that everything did indeed sound & look just as great out front. The Tour de France finished today & apart from all the fans in polka dot tops, we managed to miss the whole thing. We were in Paris at the same time 4 years ago (honeymoon) and saw the final sprint down the Champs Elyssee, which was really cool, but I do remember having to walk the long way round the city as many of the streets and roads were closed off, so we were keen to avoid that this time.

Monday 28th July – Day Off, Paris (Alexis’s birthday)
As with all birthdays, I was more excited than Alexis today, but after a quick call from his mum & dad, we went out for the day.

Paris Metro

Paris Metro


Starting with a trip to the Albert Khan gardens and photography exhibition, which involved 3 changes on the Metro. When we got there we discovered that it was closed on Mondays, but as we found ourselves in an unfamiliar and a nice part of town, we decided to stay for a coffee, and after a trip to the supermarket we ate our picnic there too. Keen to spend some time in a ‘green space’ today, we went over to the park Andre Citroen (on the site of his old car factory).
Paris park

Paris park


It was really lovely & peaceful in the park, so we stayed there for a while then went back into town for a spot of shopping near Montmartre.
"I love you"

“I love you”


In the evening we ate at a local Indian restaurant, which was really lovely. It can be very difficult going out for food in Paris as a vegetarian, but thankfully some national cuisines can always be relied upon to provide lots of options.
Back in the apartment for our last night in Paris before midnight (this has been rare on this trip), we caught up with some emails and watched TV and had some birthday cake.
Birthday cake

Birthday cake


It really has been a great trip and we’ll have to make a special post for all the “thank-yous” at the end of the tour.

Tuesday 29th July – Travel Day (Paris – London)
Got up early and headed out for coffee before packing the bags and heading into for lunch near GDN. We also managed to find time for some cake before leaving Paris.
Our train back to London was just after 3pm, getting into St Pancras before 5pm. It was raining when we left Paris, but the sun was shining when we arrived in London. We made it back to Ealing in time for a quick cuppa and a change of clothes before going out to The Village for a small acoustic show with Andy Docherty and friends. We met Andy last year when we played at Power’s Bar in Kilburn (sadly gone now).
Andy (a fellow Scot) is running the open mic at this nice pub on Pitshanger Lane, bringing some of his very talented friends into the leafy suburbs of Ealing. Tonight, as well as Andy and ourselves, one of the other acts who performed was a fantastically talented young lady called Jai Blue – she has a stunning voice and managed to bring the crowd to silence with her beautiful voice and lovely lyrics. Her first song was about her relationship with her mum (who “didn’t raise no quitter”) and told a story of strength and trust – just beautiful. There were a few first timers to the open mic scene but everyone had a great night and the crowd was very supportive.

Jai Blue at The Village Inn (Ealing)

Jai Blue at The Village Inn (Ealing)


The Village Inn is a lovely bar with really great staff (super friendly and full of fun) and I’m sure their ‘acoustic night’ will go from strength to strength. Andy finished the evening with a cover of ‘Hey Laura’ by Gregory Porter, which was a very classy way to end the evening.

Wednesday 30th July – Day off in London
“So I went and sat in Crystal Palace, by the plastic dinosaurs”… and all because of some lyrics in a Brett Anderson song. The park was beautiful & the dinosaurs (which aren’t plastic) were really cool. They pre-date Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ and are really quite different from the more contemporary versions. The song “To The Winter” makes the park sound bleak and dark and lonely, but on a beautiful sunny day, with kids running and playing everywhere and families in small boats in the pond, it was anything but bleak.

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park


In the afternoon we went to Camden and had coffee by the lock. I love Camden! It really is one of the most vibrant areas of London with a great mix of bars and cafés and strange sights like the DJ Granddad (who entertained the crowds by playing dance track while his friends did a strange dance routine (if you can call it a routine)… it was very funny.
"People are strange, when you're a stranger"

“People are strange, when you’re a stranger”


We also discovered the ‘Edinburgh’ area of Camden (near Parkway) which is home to a pub called the ‘Edinboro Castle’ and streets called Holyrood Court and Northbridge schools…. Very funny for us natives.
The Edinboro Castle, Camden

The Edinboro Castle, Camden


In the evening we went back to Ealing for a BBQ in the garden to make the most of the beautiful weather.

Thursday 31st July – Day off in London
We went out early in the morning to Holland Park which is really stunning.
Just before you get to the park there is a statue of St Volodymyr of Ukraine with a tribute to those who have recently lost their lives in the recent conflict. It was very emotional reading the stories of how these young men were found or killed, and some are still missing (since March this year).

St Volodymyr of Ukraine

St Volodymyr of Ukraine


Inside Holland Park there are a few peacocks that live there and they were really cool to see up close – very calm and quite friendly with the public and squirrels. The park has a beautiful Japanese garden and loads of natural play areas for kids. It is a really relaxing space in the city, I think because there is no cycling, skating allowed and dogs have to stay on a lead, and as a consequence everything seems very controlled.
AlexisSs in Holland Park

AlexisSs in Holland Park


After a picnic in the park we headed over to Hackney to catch up with friends, Barry & Ray. We started off in their local pub, The Cock Tavern then heading out for food at the Hackney Bureau. Both the craft beer and cider at the pub were lovely and in the bistro the food was simple and fresh. It was great to get together and have a good chat before they gig tomorrow evening when I’m sure Alexis & I will be in ‘show mode’ and not really able to spend as much time with them as we’d like to.
at Barry & Ray's in Hackney

at Barry & Ray’s in Hackney

NEXT SHOW
Summer Tour 2014: Gig 8 Friday 1st August @ Power Lunches (London)
dressmaker presents: Sacre Noir (Dark Female Lo-Fi from Scotland), Introverts,
Tinderdust, Grand Bassam
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