Monday 26 July 2010

Sunday Music at Tudor Barn, Well Hall, Eltham

Faced with the dilemna of so many events in Eltham yesterday, we ended up visiting the live music at the Well Hall Pleasaunce. We saw the Espree Band, featuring Suzie B, play under a gazebo on the Green in front of the Tudor Barn (photo left).

They were good - playing the usual classics one might expect at such an event and for a middle-aged, suburban audience. One track that caught my attention though was a kind of latin rendition of 'Summertime, and the livin' is easy...". The keyboard player clearly enjoying playing with that one. The singer was lovely as were all the band who a funny rapport going on (including finding it hilarious to end some of their numbers with the 'Countdown' theme tune (C4 quiz show), for no obvious reason). When a bride and groom strayed into the grounds for wedding pictures, the guitarist joked that they'd like to dedicate a track to them - "Boz Scaggs' Why did you do it?" (sic), a slip because that track was I think actually by Stretch. Instead they aptly played Stevie Wonder's 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered'. A lovely afternoon.

Live music continues at the Well Hall, Tudor Barn on each Sunday afternoon, between 2-4pm, up until Sunday 22 August.

Click to check out other Eltham/Greenwich Events & Places

Sunday 25 July 2010

Eltham entertains tomorrow

So, loads of events going on in Eltham on Sunday 25 July, many going head to head (unfortunately) - which will you go to? 

-   2pm to 4pm - Tea and cakes with the Friends of the Tarn at The Tarn, Court Road, Eltham, London SE9
Free event with live entertainment from the Bob Hope Theatre, a Butterfly Hunt and other children's activities

-   2pm to 4pm - there will be 'a variety of live musical performances in Well Hall Pleasaunce' (and actually on each Sunday afternoon, between 2-4pm, up until Sunday 22 August. This week, the Espree Band featuring Suzie B - there'll be live music stage setup on the Green in front of the Tudor Barn. This is a Greenwich Council Free Event.  Food & drinks available in the Tudor Barn.

-  All day - Also at the Well Hall, - a Beer Festival, "Come and enjoy a fantastic day out with local brewerys sampling and selling their finest produce. To help the beer go down will be Live entertainment and a Hog Roast."

- 11am and 5pm - And also at the Well Hall,the Greenwich Theatre are also putting on their 'summer show' tomorrow  - they "return to the grounds of Well Hall to discover The Finders, a group of spritely creatures who live in the park, harbour an ancient grudge with a grumpy giant, and promise to take audiences on a treasure hunt which could bring peace to the park forever. Complete with spellbinding puppetry, magic, music, and more than a few mud pies, after going on a journey around Well Hall Pleasaunce with The Finders you will never see the Eltham park in quite the same way again."
Tickets for The Finders are free but must be booked in advance on 020 8858 7755 or in person at Greenwich Theatre. Tickets are not available online.
[Damn , I forgot all about this earlier and wanted to take the kids to go - let's's no good, phone not answering]

-   3pm to 4.30pm - Greenwich Concert Band at Eltham Park South as part of the excellent Friends of Eltham Parks Summer Concerts Series 

Click to check out other Eltham/Greenwich Events & Places

Left, a photo of the excellent Greenwich Youth Band playing at the Eltham South Park on Sunday 11 July 2010, as part of the ParkFest programme

Friday 23 July 2010

Monica Ali on fiction - diasporic and Asian

Interesting to read this interview with Monica Ali talking about writing, about 'diaspora fiction' and 'Asian fiction'- lots of lovely categories to grapple with here, though it's a bit disjointed in places and you wish she would expand more (I must remember it's not an academic essay...). It's also apparent that the journalist is Indian-Indian rather than British-Indian because of describing Ali's mother as 'British' - I think in the UK we would say 'white'. Anyway, it's still good to read :

(by Madhusree Chatterjee for IANS, an Indian news agency)

"Asian and diaspora fiction not very different: Monica Ali (Interview) 
22 July 2010

British novelist of Bangladeshi origin Monica Ali, who is a judge for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2010, says the English language is evolving in exciting new ways. She also believes diaspora fiction is not very different from Asian writing as in the end readers just want a good, well told story.
'Writers such as Salman Rushdie and V.S. Naipaul have introduced readers to English with a sub-continental inflection and that trend has continued with writers such as Gautam Malkani, for instance. Language is always fluid and evolving in exciting new ways,' Ali told IANS in an e-mail interview from London.
She said crossover or diaspora fiction was not much different from Asian fiction because 'readers were always for the same thing - a good story, well told'.
'Apparently, there's this thing called 'post-colonial fiction',' Ali said.
The 43-year-old writer, born to a Bangladeshi father and a British mother, shot into the literary firmament in 2003 with her widely acclaimed novel 'Brick Lane' on the Asian diaspora in Britain. The book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and made into a movie in 2007.
Her subsequent books, 'Alentejo Blue' and 'In the Kitchen', set respectively in rural Portugal and in the chaotic corridors of a London hotel, throw light on the middle class and subaltern communities that inhabit suburbia and villages.
Ali is known for her moving insights into the lives of people of Asian origin and the white middle class in Britain.
'I do enjoy doing research. It puts off the dreaded day when it is just you and the blank screen. I spent a lot of time in hotel kitchens. And, yes, I've been studying the British middle class. It has been a very long-term and continuing project. Every day is research! I think I have written about some difficult subjects, but I hope my books are fundamentally optimistic about human nature,' she said.
Ali said all her books have been driven by the fact that 'life is tough'. 'That's the way I feel anyway - life is tough. But humour and connecting to others can provide a way through,' she said.
Ali, a social activist who fights against racism, is an intense writer.
'I try to write with the door closed and inhabit only the world I'm creating on the page. Then I edit with the door open and an ideal reader in mind,' she said.
An avid reader since childhood, Ali has been inspired by classics.
'I read a lot of 19th century classics, Tolstoy, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Zola, Flaubert, etc. Also I read R.K. Narayan and V.S. Naipaul at an early age.
I don't know if diaspora children read more than British children. Perhaps so, as a means of escape,' she said.
Commenting on the role of literary awards, Ali observed that the 'awards raised the profiles of writers'.
'All prizes work in a similar way - to raise the writers' profile. But I do hope that people write not in the hope of receiving prizes, but because they are artists and have something to say,' she said.
The writer, who rates 'Asian fiction highly', said she was thrilled to be invited to the panel of the Man Asian Literary Prize.
'I'm never invited to anything. I was thrilled to be invited on this panel - perhaps it will open more doors...'
Ali is working on a new book, but she refuses to divulge anything about it.
'I can only promise you it is totally different,' she said.

Thursday 22 July 2010

The Sirens of Titan come to Eltham, Oxleas Wood

This sounds fun:

"Join London Bubble on a time travelling promenade as we journey through Earth, Mars, Mercury and Titan with Kurt Vonnegut's classic space comedy The Sirens of Titan. Fortelling the space race and the creation of synthetic life, it lovingly pokes fun at our continual search for 'the meaning of life, the universe and everything'.

Tour dates:
24 - 27 July 2010, Sydenham Wells Park
29 July - 1 August 2010, Southwark Park
3 - 9 August (no show on 5 August), Oxleas Woods
11 - 14 August 2010, Hilly Fields Park

All shows start at 7.30pm. For booking please call 020 7237 1663 or"

Unfortunately, I don't think Vonnegut is particularly child-friendly and so we can't take the children, unless anyone knows this production and can tell me otherwise?

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Are London's best bloggers south of the river?

An article appeared in Time Out just over a year ago asking why South London's bloggers were better than North London bloggers:
"...if we are looking at north against south, one thing stands out: when it comes to blogging, the south wins hands down, and the south-east in particular...Over in the Kentish corner of London we have Greenwich Phantom, Brockley Central, Transpontine, Deptford Dame, Blackheath Bugle and Charlton’s 853, while in Stockwell there’s the excellent Onion Bag Blog. There are dozens more such locally focussed blogs in this extraordinarily fertile area of London."
As you can see they name-check a number of well-known South London blogs. As to reasons why, they speculate:
" it because south Londoners (who are all, one notes, located firmly east of the centre in all these cases) tend to be younger so are more in tune with technological developments. Do south Londoners have more pride and interest in their local area? Or is it because south Londoners feel they aren’t properly served by mainstream media so have to forge their own communication networks."
Hmm. "...younger so are more in tune with technological developments" - I like it  (though not wholly accurate in my case at least). "Do south Londoners have more pride and interest in their local area?" This seems to ring somewhat true. What do you think?

It made me wonder what exactly is a 'South London blog'? Do you need to have a South London name-place in your blog title or a SL nom-de-plume? It think that it is not merely that you are based geographically in South London but that you choose to make a feature of it in your posts. And so I think I can call myself a 'South London blog'. Though actually, I think Time Out has it right - lots of us would more specifically identify ourselves as 'South-East London' bloggers.

But, but - that's not all we are, are we? We all have multiple identities.  This is how Bob from Brockley, a well-known South-East London blogger, described me in a recent post of his:

"London Masala and Chips is the blog of a Labour-supporting British Asian mum who lives in South East London. Her election coverage has been good, and touches on lots of the same issues as we have here."

It is fascinating which of our identities others, and we ourselves, choose to preference. Bob had it pretty right for me - I'm interested in writing about social and ethnic identity issues, current affairs, living in London and South-East London, and family life. This does make for a pretty wide-ranging blog (and not very good for Google Adsense which I've bee thinking about). People arriving here for a post about Eltham elections might be puzzled to also find an article about British-Asian festivals. How much would I have much in common with other South London bloggers?

This is precisely a question which has come up in relation to a recent meet/drink-up organised, co-incidently, by Bob from Brockley for his readers. Unfortunately I couldn't make it, but it's been fascinating reading the discussion around the 'preliminary report' of the drink meeting. These are exactly the questions which would occur to me.

Anyways, I must break-off now and carry on looking after FOUR children for the day - I kid you not. It's a reciprocal holiday arrangement we have with my sis-in-law. I think they've probably had their TV allowance for the day (oh dear). I must now go and do something 'developmental yet fun' with them. Roll on reciprocity....

Saturday 17 July 2010

French holiday villa with surprising extras!

I've been busy trying to organise the children's summer vacation,  (I mean, just how do parents cover 67 of the kids' annual total days off school when you only have 27 days annual leave, the hubby's only willing to take 20, and you also want to try and overlap to have a family holiday?!)

Anyways, rant over... I've also been trying to arrange our family holiday away for during part of that time. For the last few years we have rewarded ourselves with a luxury week away, usually in France, and with our own private pool. However, searching today on the internet, I didn't reckon on finding this hidden extra (circled in red, above) ....!!

That aside, over the last few years we have covered a lot of the south coast of France:

- the first year in 2007, we were near Avignon, in a little village called Eygalières, some 10 km from its more famous neighbour St-Rémy-de-Provence
- the second in 2008, near Carcassonne ("Outdoor swimming, castles and French horses' bums!")
- and the third in 2009, in Lorgues, near Nice/St Tropez ("Back from South of France" and "Hello from France, Cote D'Azur")

This year, I'm trying to book something towards Perpignan, close to the Spanish border - do let me know if you have somewhere near there to rent out for a week this August!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

French MPs approve bill to ban the burka

The Telegraph tells us:
"French MPs vote in favour of banning burka

French MPs have passed a law banning Islamic face veils from public areas amid warnings it poses constitutional problems and risks being overturned in the courts."

France24 expands on this:

"French lawmakers have approved a controversial draft law that would ban face-covering Islamic veils from being worn in public spaces. The bill will now go to the French Senate, which is expected to approve it in September."

Oh dear.

Liberty vs secularism  vs. multi-culturalism vs assilimaltion vs.feminism vs.cultural preservation/freedom.

It's all in there (and there's only one of these that I'm not usually too keen on...).  I know that French-Sikhs there are worried that they and their turbans are next in France.

Expect a blog-shower on the subject. I shall catch up later - back to cooking dinner for the family (who said feminism is dead...)

Saturday 10 July 2010

Outdoor Cinema: Grease at Avery Hill Park

This sounds fun if it comes off - from the New Eltham Resident's Association:

"Open Air Cinema – 1950's music, cars and the film Grease. Saturday 17th July
 The council haven't been advertising this greatly because they're not sure if the licence is going to be granted!! ... I'm told that all the entertainment has been booked including a 1950's themed band, classic American cars and, of course, the showing of the film Grease. Car tickets will cost £10 and will be limited to 100.Free for pedestrians and you can bring your own refreshments. Look out in the park and press for more news."
Although Greenwich Council does now have this on it's website, so it seems it's now confirmed:
"Grease - drive-in screening (certificate - PG

Avery Hill Park, Avery Hill Road, Eltham SE9 2BJ

Car entrance:  Reinickendorf Avenue, Avery Hill Road

Saturday, 17 July, 6pm - 12 midnight

There are Drive In car spaces and a viewing area on the grass for pedestrians.
£10 per car for advance bookings - advance tickets can be purchased from Tuesday 29 June at Eltham Library and Greenwich Heritage Centre.

Tickets can be purchased on the day at a cost of £20 per car. Pedestrians need not book – places are free."
Other Avery Hill posts:
London Masala and Chips: Avery Hill Park Cafe protest
London Masala and Chips: Festivals in SE london: an embarrassment ...

You can check out other local happenings at Eltham/Greenwich Events and Places.

Friday 9 July 2010

Alice at Eltham Palace

"’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."

Alice from Alice through the the Looking Glass
What's the most perfect thing you could be doing one hot summer evening in SE London? Sitting on beautiful lawns, surrounded by an ancient Palace on one side and rolling gardens on the other?  Rug spread out groaning with goodies to eat and chilled pinot grigio to drink?  Children laughing and happy, and about to be exposed to some fine, guilt-alleviating culture?  (Husband also happy and beaming!)? Yes, well that's what we did last night.

We went to see an open air production by the Quantum Theatre, of Alice through the the Looking Glass, set on the south lawn of Eltham Palace.  It was absolutely magical. The play was performed beautifully by a cast of four people, with a minimal and inventive use of their few props. Alice was played by Northumbria University-trained Holly Manning. They were all so talented.

The performnace started at about 7.15pm and ran for about 1 hr and 50mins. The tickets cost us £40 for 2 adults and 2 children.  It was well worth it. The curious thing was that this production last night played to only about seven groups - it felt like a private performance. It was a pretty under-advertised event. Hubby and I love the festival season because it allows us to enjoy outdoor live music and theatre, with our children and without the bother and worry of arranging babysitting (even if we had a list of known babysitters, which we don't...)

The Quantum Theatre was founded in 1993 by Michael Whitmore, who also created this production of Alice. Apart from touring in the area (and far beyond) the Theatre company itself is actually based in Plumstead at The Old Button Factory in Bannockburn Road. It is also touring with Great Expectations. More details on their website or on tel 020 8317 9000.

Festivals in SE london: an embarrassment of riches

Now what should it be tomorrow?

Lewisham People's Day or the Avery Hill Park Festival?

You can check out other local happenings at Eltham/Greenwich Events and Places.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Blythe Hill Fields Festival, 3 July

We attended the 4th Blythe Hill Fields Festival last Saturday, in south-east London (kind of near Brockley, Catford, Forest Hill...). It was a blistering hot day - by the time we were ready with the kids to venture out at about midday, we decided that this smaller festival might be more up our street than the larger, busier, Danson Park Festival (although that sounded tempting too).

We made an excellent choice. I'd never been to Blythe Hill before - what a revelation that this piece of hilly parkland, with its new playground (with a sand pit!) and magnificent big sky view should exist here.

There was live music, craft and food stalls, donkey rides, ceramic painting and a beautiful Punch and Judy show in the dappled shade (my photo above) of a big beautiful tree. It felt very relaxed. I'm guessing that it's the sort of event that was down to few dedicated community-minded people - well done.

When we could persuade (i.e bribe) our two children to sit, we enjoyed watching the live music on the non-threateningly sized stage  - it was great to lounge around on a rug, or on the scattered hay bales, munching a picnic. My picture is here is of the stage during 'pack-up' - I was too distracted to take one earlier when there were loads more people, honest! Unfortunately we missed Dads Aloud (has anyone every seen them? what are they like?) but at the end of the programme we caught the Nzinga Dance African drumming group and the Brockley Ukelele Group.

Happily, my dad-in-law joined us for the ukulele set because he's just been given a ukulele for his birthday to occupy him in semi-retirement.  It was one of those great days - we'll be there next year. I'll let you know the date when I hear.