Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thames Festival has Lady Luck on its side.

Yikes, it has been a while since my last posting.... my trip to the USA (both the packing, organising, travel and hanging out) has kept me busy, but I will try to get back on it now!

I gotta think back a couple of weeks to early September and the Thames Festival. Wowwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! I love the Thames Festival, and this year did not disappoint! My leggies were so tired for a couple of days afterwards, which is always a good sign...

The Thames Festival which runs along the river Thames (funnily enough...), all the way from the London Eye, along the Southbank up to Tower Bridge, has been taking place every September for the past five years or so. It is a free festival, running over Saturday and Sunday, and features live music, dancing, food, drinks, arts & crafts stalls, activities, a nighttime carnival procession, circus performers, art installations, and ends with a huge fireworks display on the Sunday night.

Luckily, this year, despite a slightly drizzly forecast for Saturday, the whole weekend ended up being sunny and warm and was highly attended. To be honest, although I could talk about all the weird and wonderful things that I wanted to check out over the weekend, I cannot really comment much on anything other than the Lady Luck stage, which is where I stayed put for the entirety of the festival!

This year the Lady Luck stage and dance floor, run by DJ El Nino and Lady Kamikaze, was set up right outside the Tate Modern, by the Millennium Bridge. It was a great location, which, I think offered the chance for better promotion and easier access than where it was set up at Potters Fields park last year, which felt quite far along, away from all the other activities.

Anyway, so, given that I have been a house hermit of late (trying to save money for my trip to SF) this was pretty much the most perfect weekend of fun that I had been craving. Lots of friends and familiar faces, great music, fab dance floor, al fresco dancing, perfect weather and a super fun party atmosphere.

As well as the DJs, there were bands playing every hour, which offered a variety of styles to mix things up a bit. I really enjoyed The Muleskinners, The Jive Aces (always fun!) and Sugar Ray Ford, Zephyrs of Swing.

So, as mentioned, I stayed put at the Lady Luck stage to get my dance fix, but there were so many other things that I would have liked to have checked out, including Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, C.W. Stoneking and Ska Cubano, who were playing on a different stage (unfortunately, this stage was quite a walk from where I was, so it would have been a bit of a pain to to go there and then come back, and with the theory 'if it aint broke, don't fix it', I decided that as I was having fun where I was, I would just stay there).

I am already looking forward to next year's Thames Festival!

Monday, September 6, 2010


There's just something about stepping up to Carnival and feeling the loud music reverberating through my body, that makes me feel so happy and energised.

After the wonder that was Notting Hill Carnival 2009, I was geared up for a fun-filled Bank Holiday weekend, and planned to hit the Carnival both on Sunday and Monday. However, just as I was getting ready to leave my house on Sunday afternoon, it started raining, and all my enthusiasm went with it, down the drain. Of course, about an hour later the sun came out, but by that point I was happily settled with a good book and a bowl of sliced up watermelon cubes...

On Monday, the sun was shining, so I headed to Kensal Rise to walk up to the Carnival, and I was instantly glad that I did. Yes, it's crowded - but it's crowded full of happy faces, amazing costumes, music, friends and most importantly, jerk chicken!

I had arranged to meet with a couple of friends, but a combination of bad phone coverage (I suppose because there were so many people?) and my inability to settle in one place, meant that we kept missing each other. I did, however, bump into numerous old friends, and got carried along with them. That's one of the great things about Carnival - amongst the hundreds of thousands of people who take to the streets, you always manage to see a few familiar faces and stumble upon friends old and new.

The Notting Hill Carnival, which has been taking place every summer since the 1960s really is one of the best free street parties (and the biggest Carnival outside of Rio) in London. I must admit I wasn't always as enthusiastic about it, but had a bit of breakthrough last year, when we were bathed in glorious sunshine all weekend, and I spent both days drinking Malibu and dancing at the Good Times soundsystem. Plus, as with most things, it is what you make of it.

So whilst the Carnival is free, and most people bring their own booze (and various other mood enhancers...) I would recommend budgeting for a) jerk chicken and b) clean toilets. Trust me, you do not want to have to queue up for the smelly portaloos if you are bursting - rather, invest and spend a penny (or £1, as is more accurately the case) to enter the home of a local, and use their nice clean toilet, complete with toilet paper, running water and soap. It's beneficial to all parties concerned (and wow what a money spinner for those living in the area!) and then you can get back to having fun.

Anyway, I will leave the photos to tell the story, as I don't think it needs anymore explaining - just make sure you are around for London's most vibrant, colourful, street party on the August bank holiday in 2011!