Magic for Maggie’s

Round & About

London

Maggie’s cancer charity invites everyone from the local community to enjoy its pop-up Christmas events here in Fulham.

Maggie’s West London centre is a haven of peace and support based on the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital on Fulham Palace Road, offering a wide variety of activities and support groups for anyone living with, or affected by, cancer.

This Christmas the Maggie’s team are holding two exciting festive events in Fulham, encouraging local residents to get involved with supporting their Maggie’s Centre. On Thursday 29th November at Fulham Library, an exciting “pop-up” fair will offer visitors an enticing range of crafts, gifts and artisan products, perfect for present ideas and stocking fillers. From 11am – 2pm the hall will be transformed into an arts and crafts haven, featuring Etsy suppliers and local London crafters, with donations to Maggie’s, and even mulled wine on offer!

Shortly after, on Monday 10th December, the charity is holding its second Carols by Candlelight concert at All Saints Church, from 6.45pm. This wonderful evening concert features not only The London Chorus, conducted by Ronald Corp, OBE, but also the wonderful Francis Holland School Choir – performing all of your festive favourites, as well as some more modern interpretation of Christmas classics.

Both events are generously sponsored by TWM Solicitors, and you can buy tickets for the concert at www.maggiescentres.org/westlondon (‘fundraising and events’). For more information call 020 7386 1750.

Wishful thinking: Richmond panto star

Round & About

London

Amid a star-studded cast that also includes Robert Lindsay and Rachel Stanley, comedian Jon Clegg plays Smee in Aladdin, this year’s Richmond Theatre pantomime. We ask him some questions.

Q. How did you get into acting and who were your inspirations? “I got into acting through pantomime! I was working as a stand-up comedian and was told I should give panto a try. I’ve always loved comedy actors – probably Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson were my first inspiration, and Laurel and Hardy!”

Q. What was the first pantomime you remember seeing, and where? “I didn’t go to a pantomime until I was a teenager – how deprived is that?! But then my first panto was in Redhill, Surrey, and starred the lady from the Shake’n’Vac ads.”

Q. What was your first panto role? “I played Wishee Washee in Aladdin, at the Tameside Hippodrome in Ashton Under Lyme near Manchester. I was alongside Hunter from the Gladiators [James Crossley], Irene from Home and Away [Lynn McGrainger], and the vicar from Dad’s Army [Frank Williams].”

Q. What do you enjoy about playing panto? “It’s great to work with a cast of fabulous actors – I do solo stand-up work the rest of the year. And it’s great fun, entertaining an audience full of beaming children is a real pleasure!”

Q. Is there a role on your wish list you would love to play one Christmas? “I love playing the comedy role in pantomime. Buttons was always on my wish list, and I have been fortunate to play that role three times now!”

Q. I imagine performing in panto can be quite intense, with a lot of days with more than one performance. How do you relax off stage? “It is intense, but it’s also incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. I enjoy long walks, eating out and watching sport when I’m not on the stage.”

Q. Is this the first time you have appeared at Richmond? “Yes, it’s my first time at Richmond. I came to see panto here 10 years ago, when I was in Brighton, as a friend was in the show. Paul Zerdin and Nigel Havers were the stars. They were brilliant, and two years later I worked with Nigel in Peter Pan at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley.”

Q. Peter Pan is set on an island. If you were stranded on an island which three people living, historic or fictional would you like to have with you and why?
“Firstly, my wife (of course!) along with Winston Churchill and Anthony Kiedis (lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers)”.

  • Peter Pan is on at Richmond Theatre between Saturday, 8th December & Sunday, 6th January. Other Christmas shows worth catching include Snow White at the Palladium and 42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Squirrel Sisters: nutty and nice

Round & About

London

We talk to Fulhamites Gracie and Sophie – aka Squirrel Sisters – about their mission to bring their vegan snack bar start-up to the masses.

Q. You’ve both lived in Fulham all your lives – why do you love it here?
“We were born in Richmond but we moved to south-west London after university. Fulham is amazing because it’s so central and well connected with that buzzy London attitude at the same time as having a lovely village feel to it. You get the best of both worlds in Fulham.”

Q. Tell us a bit more about how you went about starting the business…
“Health, wellness, food and how it makes us feel has always been a passion of ours so we started Squirrel Sisters as a blog in 2014. Our blog gained a large following quickly; people connected with our mission and the fact we are two normal girls with a busy lifestyle who want to enjoy life while feeling great.

“With a growing following on our blog we saw an opportunity to turn our blog into a business so after much planning and preparation we launched our snack bars in November 2015, which we already had the recipes for [Gracie used to make them for Sophie due to her gluten intolerance.]

“We wanted to prove that healthy could be delicious and exciting so set off on a mission to help people make better and healthier choices more often. We wanted to help others believe that in treating yourself you can treat your health.”

Q. You’re stocked in an impressive range of places! Have you found it hard to break into the supermarket giants?
“We are extremely proud of our distribution – after two and a half years you can now find our products in more than 1,000 stores across the UK including Waitrose (you can find our cacao brownie and cacao orange flavours stocked in the Waitrose by Parsons Green), Morrisons, Boots, Whole Foods (all our flavours are stocked in the Fulham Whole Foods), Planet Organic, Selfridges, Ocado, Amazon and hundreds of independent delis, cafes and supermarkets.

“Launching into supermarkets is a challenge for a small company, especially if you haven’t had investment. We have won several awards for our bars (including three Great Taste awards) and we have great branding so this really helped with breaking into the bigger supermarkets.”

Q. There are lots of small, independent shops and supermarkets around Fulham. Do you think these are important as well?
“So important! In our first year we focused on all the independents and created good sales case studies that we could show the big supermarkets to prove how popular our bars were. We always make a conscious effort to support the smaller independent stores.”

Q. Which healthy cafes or restaurants do you like to visit in Fulham?
“We love Little H (especially because they stock our bars) on New Kings Road [www.littlehlondon.com], Esquires Coffee (they do the best avocado on toast) just across the bridge in Putney, Megan’s by the Green on Parsons Green Lane and Boy’s N Berry on Fulham Road.”

Q. And what are your plans for the future?
“We have big plans for Squirrel Sisters – we are currently in the process of securing investment, which will really take us to the next level. We want Squirrel Sisters to be accessible to everyone. We want to be a global brand that is known for its real, honest and exciting approach to health.”

Q. Anything else to share with our readers?
“We recently published our first cookbook, Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats, which is available in all good bookshops and online retailers including Waterstones and Amazon.”

Squirrel Sisters maple bacon popcorn

Recipe: bacon maple syrup

The ultimate sweet and savoury popcorn combo – you’ll make this again and again!

• 2 slices dry-cure smoked streaky (fatty) bacon
• A splash of olive oil
• 50g / 1 3⁄4 oz / 1⁄4 cup popcorn kernels
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1⁄2 tsp sea salt flakes

Put the bacon in a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with a small splash of olive oil. Fry over high heat until crispy and golden all over, turning when needed so that it all browns evenly. Remove the bacon from the pan with tongs and leave to one side to cool.

Tip any fat left from the bacon into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the popcorn kernels and pop the lid on. Heat over high heat until you begin to hear pops. Keep cooking, shaking the pan frequently so that none stick and burn, until the popping subsides. Turn the heat off and leave it for another 30 seconds or so before removing the lid to make sure any late-popping kernels don’t fly out at you. Tip the popcorn into a bowl, discarding any un-popped kernels.

Once the bacon has cooled and hardened a little, put it into a food processor and blitz to a coarse powder.

Drizzle the maple syrup over the popcorn, stirring gently all the time so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle in the bacon powder and sea salt flakes, mix well and serve.

We have teamed up with Squirrel Sisters to offer a mixed box of bars and a cookbook to one lucky reader. Click here to enter

GINspiration

Round & About

London

Gin is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with a wealth of interesting spirits produced right here on our doorstep. We chat to some of the enthusiastic local producers and offer up our favourite tipples!

History of gin

Gin may be one of the most popular liquors in the country, yet the colourless spirit has had to contend with a chequered history since it first landed on these shores more than 300 years ago.

Originally gin was sold as a medicine, distilled and supposedly capable of aiding kidney ailments, gallstones and gout after Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius created genever. Brits were first introduced to it when the English soldiers assisted the Dutch against the Spanish in Antwerp during the late 16th century during the Eighty Years’ War.

The armies were known to drink genever before heading into battle, and it’s thought to be the origin of the phrase “Dutch courage”. William of Orange then arrived here to rule in 1688 and promptly relaxed laws on making spirits. Gin, which starts with a base of juniper berries, gained in popularity – among all classes – with the upper classes drinking genever and the working classes making do with a new, cheaper “imitation” gin, substituting the costly ingredients with such things as turpentine and sulphuric acid.

Subsequently, gin’s reputation took a turn for the worse. In London alone, more than 7,000 “dram shops” sprang up with an estimated 10 million gallons being distilled annually by barbers, grocers and market stall holders. Gin became increasingly cheap to produce, easily accessible, little duty was paid on it and some workers were even given it as part of their wages. The 1736 Gin Act forced anyone wishing to sell distilled spirits to take out a licence costing £50.

Only three such licences were taken, but gin’s popularity did not wane as “mother’s ruin” remained hugely popular, before a second act was passed in 1751, which raised duty, and prohibited distillers, grocers, chandlers, jails and workhouses from selling the liquor.

Thankfully this was the low point for gin and the spirit has rebuilt its once-tarnished reputation to become the UK’s most popular alcoholic drinks. Gin’s popularity has been helped by upmarket gin bars, ever-growing gin festivals and distilleries offering delicious varied botanical flavours.

Mr Fogg’s Residence

If you’re in the mood for boozing like a Victorian, there’s nowhere better than the illustrious Mr Fogg’s Residence club and cocktail bar in Mayfair. Inspired by Jules Verne’s well-travelled protagonist in Around the World in Eighty Days, you’ll find a magical parlour room filled to the rafters with Victorian bric-a-brac. Stuffed reptiles, suspended penny farthings, riding boots, part of a hot air balloon; it’s bizarre yet mesmerising.

Two doormen, dressed somewhere between a dragoon and a Victorian butler, usher guests inside. A resident pianist sings as he plays. From the moment you step off Berkeley Square into this weird world of theatre and madness, Mr Fogg’s utterly engulfs you. Their tipsy afternoon tea is wacky and unexpected. A teapot full of Mr Fogg’s spirited teas is served first; choose from a variety of tea cocktails and tinctures, inspired from all corners of the world. A cake stand laden with fudgy brownies, Portuguese custard tarts and finger sandwiches follows. If you love gin, love cake and love something a bit different, pay Phileas Fogg a visit!

Kricket

Another place to indulge in a winter gin cocktail, paired with perfectly spiced food, is the newly opened Kricket restaurant in White City’s Television Centre in Wood Lane. Their Lucky Neem cocktail features Opihr Gin, sugar syrup and curry leaves; check out their Lucky Neem recipe.

Craft Gin Club

Jon Hulme, co-founder of the London-based Craft Gin Club says: “The rise in gin’s popularity is showing no sign of slowing down and at Craft Gin Club we’re tasting nearly 400 craft gins a year. We aim to reinvent the way gin-lovers discover and enjoy new gins, and so every month we send our members a bottle of craft gin from one of the world’s best distilleries. Each gin is paired with hand-chosen mixers, cocktail ingredients and foodie treats, along with our monthly magazine.”

Sipsmiths

Gin pioneers and childhood friends Fairfax Hall and Sam Galsworthy are behind Sipsmiths, the star producer based in Chiswick. Their journey began in 2009, in a tiny Hammersmith workshop where they set up London’s first traditional copper distillery since 1820. Their mission was simple: to bring London Dry Gin of uncompromising quality and character, back to the city where it first earned its name. Every bottle of Sipsmith is hand-crafted in small batches.

Side by side: Fulham Good Neighbours

Round & About

London

Chris Mikata-Pralat explains how Fulham Good Neighbours have been helping the community for over half a century – and how you can return the favour.

For those of us used to getting everything done via the multitude of apps on our phone, the idea of asking a neighbour for practical help might seem old-fashioned.

Many of us would like to know our neighbours better but do not know where to start. Fulham Good Neighbours is an award-winning local charity that has been linking people in need of help with those who can offer it for more than 50 years.

Those seeking support are usually members of the fourth generations: older people in their eighties and nineties. Those offering it come from all walks of life: from university students, via city professionals to retirees. What unites them is the desire to make Fulham a friendlier, more neighbourly place to live in.

Requests for help vary from changing a light bulb or putting together flat- pack furniture to garden clearances and decorating. The charity also offers befriending, digital inclusion and a range of relaxed social clubs to get local pensioners out of their homes. In recent years, they took over organisation of the annual Parsons Green Fair.

The work of Fulham Good Neighbours is possible only thanks to the dedication and support of nearly 100 volunteers, some of whom have supported the charity since the 1970s.

Whether you are a local business or individual offering or seeking help, contact them today to see how you could get involved and make Fulham a community where neighbours look out and care for each other.

Call 020 7385 8850, follow @FulGdNeighbours and FulhamGoodNeighbours (Facebook), email info@fulhamgoodneighbours.org or visit www.fulhamgoodneighbours.org

Skills school

Round & About

London

Following in the footsteps of Thierry Henry, the next generation of football superstars enjoy summer fun with Arsenal FC

Young football fans, aged seven to 12, attended a free summer Skills School at the Burlington Danes Academy in West London, during the summer holidays, under the official club coaches of Arsenal Football Club, with support from The Little Foxes FC.

The kids were put through their paces on a programme specially designed by the Arsenal coaches to develop their agility, control, speed and precision.

The Arsenal coaches heading up the Skills School were Tom Hartley, Jason Mason and Luke Addy.  Simon McManus, Head Coach, Arsenal Soccer Schools, said: “The Skills School programme provides young footballers with a great opportunity to train the Arsenal way in a safe, fun and friendly environment.”

At the end of the Skills School each child received a medal plus a goodie bag including: exclusive Skills School jersey, drawstring bag and water bottle.

This event was organised by Cover-More, the official travel insurance partners of Arsenal FC. If you are interested in receiving details for future Skills Schools, please register here: www.covermore.co.uk/arsenal-skills-school

Young minds

Liz Nicholls

London

Kevin Leivers of The Naked Pharmacy explains how parents can help boost children’s mental health

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. This may mean the start of somewhere new which is stressful for both students and parents alike.

Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is a deeply personal issue and masks itself in many varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital – learn how to retrain the breath. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breath out, making the panic worse. A great technique is “The Big Breath”. Tony Ulatowski has used this with more than 400 students in west London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. Tony says: “One of the preschool teachers shared her story of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who has now learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions, and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better about taking control of her emotions.”

A healthy balanced diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits can be hugely helpful. Amazingly 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from Victoria, New Zealand in 2017 found patients with moderate to severe depression had a statistically significant improvement in symptoms on a modified Mediterranean diet. Dr Chatterjee, star of the BBC’s Doctor in the House, shows diet can make a difference. However, when was the last time your doctor asked you about food when you were worried about feeling depressed?

There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic, and that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies, which he believes are outdated and on off-target. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which are shooting at the wrong target. In short, saffron restores normal nerve function in key areas of the brain. If you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Saffron takes the brakes off. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit www.thenakedpharmacy.com or email info@thenakedpharmacy.com or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

London calling

Liz Nicholls

London

We asked Merlin Labron Johnson, star chef at London’s Portland and The Conduit, his kitchen titbits ahead of his appearance, with many more talents, at The Big Feastival

Q: What is your favourite kitchen gadget – one that you couldn’t live without?
“My microplane – because I love covering dishes with a fine grating of something!”

Q. What’s your favourite summer/al fresco dish?
“Tomatoes, raspberries, basil and good olive oil.”

Q. Do you have a favourite pub/restaurant for a summer visit and why?
“My favourite place to eat is 40 Maltby St in Bermondsey, London. I love their wine list and deceptively simple dishes, all executed to absolute perfection on mismatched crockery.”

Q. Do you have a favourite supplier/producer/farm shop and why?
“I’m a big fan of OrganicLea, a workers’ co-operative growing food on London’s edge in the Lea Valley. Their produce is incredible and their vision is noble – working to create just production and trading systems that provide fair incomes to food producers and guarantee the rights of communities to access healthy and nutritious food produced using ecologically sound and sustainable methods.”

Q. What’s your favourite British summer fruit/veg? And drink? “Strawberries and the green asparagus from OrganicLea farm was incredible this year. Elderflower soda is definitely my favourite summer drink.”

Out of the blue

Liz Nicholls

London

Interiors fans can look forward to their next dose of luxe inspo thanks to Decorex International 2018, 16th to 19th September

Pops of peacock, azure, indigo and sapphire are sure to dazzle over the next seasons in the world of interiors if Decorex is anything to go by…

And it most certainly is: for more than four decades, Decorex International has been the show of choice for the luxury interior design market, and the go-to destination for new styles and trends. This year, the event returns to Syon Park from Sunday, 16th to Wednesday, 19th September, and will see rugs designed from across the world bringing an international flavour.

Decorex is firmly recognised among the international design community as the trusted resource for high-end interior designers, architects, speciers, retailers and property developers. Boasting more than 400 exhibitors from leading names to emerging talents, this annual four-day show attracts nearly 14,000 visitors from across the globe. This year Blank Canvas is the show theme with lots to delight!

Much celebrated contemporary craft furniture, lighting and home accessories retailer Another Country will be present for the first time. Other SW London stars exhibiting this year include Pooky whose gorgeous marble-effect lampshades are making us swoon; Charlotte Jade with luxe-patterned wallpaper, textiles and ceramic tiles and bespoke patterns and the superb Christopher Jenner who has a studio based in Chiswick Drummonds. Also look out for Blackbird London and Bert Frank. If the interiors inspo has you in the mood for some shopping, also check out the stunning lighting and mirrors, sofas and seating from Isleworth-based Sweetpea & Willow.

Visit www.decorex.com to find out about tickets and updates.

On the urban rhino trail

Round & About

London

The Tusk Rhino Trail is a London-wide art installation, created to raise awareness of the endangered African rhino. Land Rover talk about its sculpture, put up this Monday in Trafalgar Square.

A unique 1.2m-long rhino sculpture was towed into Trafalgar Square on Monday, in support of the Tusk Rhino Trail, to aid conservation projects for this precious, endangered, African, species. The initiative involves 21 sculptures donated and decorated by leading figures from the worlds of art and design installed at prominent locations across the capital.

Towing the sculpture into this particular location was a Land Rover Discovery SUV, as this motor manufacturer has been collaborating with Tusk, The Duke of Edinburgh’s charity, for more than 15 years to preserve the habitat of the rhinoceros, in remote African places.

This particular art installation uses specialist paint techniques from Land Rover’s state-of-the-art manufacturing process to achieve a highly durable liquid metal finish.

Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover, said: “I wanted to celebrate the magnificence of this unique creature, so my rhino is covered in a chrome finish. The idea being that because of the highly reflective nature of chrome it would be seen from a long distance, consequently creating awareness of the plight of this animal in Africa. The red painted horn signifies the absurdity of this beautiful animal being hunted for such a small part of its overall being.”

Traditionally chrome has been used on vehicles to communicate prestige. Land Rover has developed an innovative and sustainable process to create a modern interpretation of chrome using a paint coating called spray chrome.

Inspired by the dye treatments conservationists use to protect rhinos from ivory traders, the horn of the Land Rover sculpture has been painted red, highlighting the plight of this endangered creature. White ivory has huge value to poachers and one solution is to inject rhino horns with a dye, making them less appealing to hunters.

To raise awareness of the plight of the rhino, you will find 21 installations popping up all over London. culminating in the celebration of World Rhino Day on Saturday, 22nd September. Each of the 21 rhinos will then be sold to raise funds for Tusk projects across Africa at an event hosted by leading auction house Christie’s on Tuesday, 9th October.

To discover all 21 rhinos, visit Tusk Rhino Trail 2018  #TuskRhinoTrail