Inside Canada House

Canada HouseThere’s always something new to do in London, and my new thing this week is visiting Canada House in Trafalgar Square. It’s home to the High Commission of Canada in the UK and it’s recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. To showcase the result they’re running public tours on selected Fridays – so I went along to see what it’s like. Continue reading

Four new principals at the Royal Ballet – and two of them are Japanese!

Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward, Akane Takada, Ryoichi Hirano photo © ROH

photo © ROH

Way back in 2013 I wrote a post asking when we would next see a Japanese principal (the highest rank) at the Royal Ballet. Well, the 2016/17 season is the answer. And it’s not just one either – a bit like buses, it seems, you wait ages and then two come along at once. But the dancer I picked in my 2013 analysis of runners and riders isn‘t one of them. Want to find out who is? Then read on. Continue reading

Monk’s House Rodmell, Virginia Woolf’s country home

Monk's House RodmellI went down to Sussex this week to visit an old friend, and we spent a very pleasant, sunny afternoon visiting Monk’s House, the former home of writer Virginia Woolf, in Rodmell, a pretty village not far from Lewes. Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard bought it in 1919, and it became the country retreat for the Bloomsbury Group. Continue reading

Commune with the bees in the Hive in Kew Gardens

The Hive at Kew

So what exactly is the hive? Well, it’s a new attraction at Kew that hopefully will help visitors understand the life of the bee. It’s a gleaming seventeen-metre-high aluminium structure that’s like a beehive you can walk into. Plus it’s an immersive, multi-sensory experience which is driven by activity in a real beehive in the gardens that activates lights and music. With me so far?  Continue reading

The new Tate Modern extension

Tate Modern extensionThe new extension to the Tate Modern opened this week. It’s a ten story brick structure called the Switch House, that towers over the original six story Tate Modern, now called the Boiler House. Naturally, I headed down there as soon as I could, to take a look before the shine wears off. Here’s what I found.

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Want to see the new Kusama exhibition? Join the queue!

Kusama pumpkinsBack in 2012 the Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama which featured several of her infinity rooms – spaces which use mirror to give the illusion of vast distances. I remember lingering in them at my leisure, admiring the infinitely receding spots (a Kusama trademark). But that’s all in the past. Nowadays Kusama is hot, and to see her infinity rooms at the Victoria Miro gallery you need to queue. Continue reading

The Wallace Collection – French art for free in the heart of London

Wallace CollectionA lot of Londoners have a soft spot for the Wallace Collection. It’s just round the back of Oxford St and it’s free, so you can pop in for a browse any time you like. And it’s quite spectacular, filled with French eighteenth century painting, furniture and porcelain with famous Old Master paintings and, the icing on the cake, a world class armoury. So how does it come to be there? Continue reading

Missoni at the Fashion and Textile Museum

IMG_3073Back in the 1950’s Ottavio and Rosita Missoni did something remarkable – they made machine-knitted fabric into cutting edge fashion. Their company, founded in 1953, brought together Ottavio’s love of art, design and colour with Rosita’s understanding of fashion to create an eclectic combination of colour and style – one that’s been sought after ever since. This summer there’s an exhibition of their work at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey so Yannick and I went to take a look. Continue reading

Fenton House: Hampstead’s hidden gem

Fenton House HampsteadA short (uphill) walk from Hampstead tube station takes you to a little enclave of old houses, where a seventeenth-century merchant’s house and its walled garden occupy a quiet corner. Grade I listed Fenton House, now owned by the National Trust (bequeathed to them in 1952 by Lady Binning, its last owner and resident), is a lovely place to visit on a fine spring day, as Yannick and I recently discovered.  Continue reading

Five fabulous London gardens to visit this Spring

Isabella PlantationThe weather (today at least) is sunny, and it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that spring has sprung. Cherry blossom season is over, so naturally you want to know what follows. The answer is bluebells and wisteria and rhododendrons and azalea, among others. Where are you going to see them? Just read on. Continue reading