Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I love it when we're cruisin' together....

I took advantage of the fantastic weather and a bargaintastic 2-for-1 river cruise voucher yesterday, grabbed my sweetheart and set sail aboard the Millennium of Peace...

Taking a trip on the City Cruises fleet of Thames excursion vessels is a great (and relaxing) way to see much of London's architecture, whilst being regaled with all sorts of interesting facts and anecdotes by the shipmates.

Along the course of the river, I discovered, amongst other things, that the Waterloo Bridge was built by women, that Charles Dickens lived in the attic above The Grapes pub, that a bottle of Perrier water in the restaurant on the top floor of the OXO Tower will set you back 7 squids, that the architect of The Shard (which will open in 2012) will receive the penthouse of the building as payment, and that Cleopatra's Needle (awarded to Nelson for beating Napoleon) is the oldest thing in London.

We took the boat from Westminster Pier, and it travels to Tower Bridge and then Greenwich. We hopped off at Greenwich to look around for a couple of hours...and by 'look around', I mean, hunt for ice cream!

Our ice cream mission was easy to complete, so we also had time to walk up to the Observatory and check out the Greenwich Mean Time line, look around some vintage shops in the town centre, and generally wander about in the sunshine.

Our trip on the way back was super romantic as the sun was setting, and it felt peaceful and serene traveling along the water. As well as feeling loved up with my sweetheart, I also had one of those I love London moments, which, when you live in one of the best cities in the world, is unavoidable and quite frequent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wild West Hampstead Honky Tonk

It was an absolute treat to see Lynette Morgan & the Blackwater Valley Boys play The Alliance pub in West Hampstead last Saturday night. Not only was this gig free and within walking distance from my house (which is a result in itself) but the band were awesome and put on a super fun and lively show!

This country rockabilly band oozed authentic Americana...and then spoke with English accents! In fact, my sweetheart Aaron was the only American at the honky tonk that night, which was amusing to me....

Lynette Morgan is a true delight, with killer dress-sense (I had outfit envy) and a real enthusiasm for performing, which shone through in their music.

They played two sets featuring a selection of their own original songs, as well as some classics by artists such as Billy Haley, Wanda Jackson and Patsy Cline. Everyone in the band had a turn at singing, with some of them also switching instruments and places, which was cool as it mixed things up a bit, adding variety to the night.

In fitting tribute, they included a couple of Hank Williams songs, as September 17th would have been his 88th birthday. In fact after listening to their rendition of Long Gone Lonesome Blues, I have had the song stuck in my head for the past few days...and poor Aaron is the one who has had to listen to my incessant attempts at yodeling....

I only found out about the show 2 days before it took place, and I'm so glad I did! This gig proved to be an intimate affair attended by locals, rockabilly enthusiasts and a few of my close friends. The atmosphere was great, and for anyone hankering for a honky tonkin' good time, I would highly recommend going to see this band.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Summer Scoop of Dirty Dancing

Two things I really enjoy: warm summer evenings and watching my all time favourite movie, Dirty Dancing. So when the two combined last Friday night, the Brown Swayze and I went along for some 80s-does-50s dancing and romancing.

The setting for the movie was by the Thames at The Scoop amphitheatre, which is located in front of City Hall by Tower Bridge. Various movies are being screened throughout the month of September, every Thursday and Friday, for free. This outdoor cinema seats up to 800 people, and it was already pretty full when we got there around 45 minutes before the movie started, so it is advisable to arrive early, find a good spot and have a picnic whilst you wait for the film to begin.

We took along a nice selection of picnic snacks, as well as a blanket and cushions, so we were quite comfortable, especially as the weather was lovely and it stayed warm into the night, no jackets required.

It was very romantic watching the movie under the stars with my sweetheart, and the crowd was great, singing along to all the songs and cheering at all the right moments - clearly, I am not the only die-hard Dirty Dancing fan out there...

Aaron and I got up and had a dance as the credits rolled at the end of the movie, and although there were no watermelons in sight, we had the time of our lives...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Glamour of the Gods

The Glamour of the Gods exhibition is currently on display at The National Portrait Gallery, featuring photos of Hollywood movie stars from 1920 to 1960.

The photographic portraits are chosen from the archives of the John Kobal Foundation, and include iconic stars such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, Marlon Brando and Jean Harlow.

With over 22,000 black and white original negatives from this ultra-glamorous Hollywood era, John Kobal was a film historian who brought the Hollywood studio photographers back into the spotlight, writing over 30 books on film and film photography.

The exhibit has been on display since early July, and runs until 23 October 2011, so it was about time I went to see it. The gallery runs a 'late shift' on Thursdays and Fridays, remaining open until 9pm, instead of the usual 6pm closing time. The show was punctuated with music last Thursday, with Lady Kamikaze djing in the gallery, so it was the perfect opportunity to get dolled up and go to take a peak at the portraits.

Some of my favourite photos included a very striking portrait of a young Nina Mae McKinney, Rita Hayworth in the film Gilda (love that movie!), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing, Gary Cooper looking rugged with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and Marilyn Monroe sitting on the pavement fixing her make-up.

Whilst the exhibition itself is not huge, there are some beautiful photos, and at £6 entry, it's worth going to have a look. We weren't allowed to take photos in the exhibition, so keep an eye out for the photos I mentioned above!