A Guinness World Record attempt to hold the longest ever guitar lesson is taking place today at London City Island.
More than 200 Londoners will take part in the 24–hour lesson at Trinity Art Gallery before moving to Trinity Square for a mass gig where the final song will be played in unison.
Open to all levels and abilities funds raised from the project will allow The Guitar Social, which is hosting the record bid, to extend a course specifically designed to help the visually impaired learn to play the guitar and experience the joy of making music. One such beneficiary is 96-year-old Mary who is partially blind and has just played her first gig.
Thomas Binn, founder of The Guitar Social, says: “Our classes are about reducing social isolation, raising self-esteem and connecting communities that are too often ignored by the arts world.
“We decided to use this event to showcase the power of music and to rally support for those who really need it. We hope Londoners will come and join in the fun of this momentous occasion!’’
The Guitar Social works to get novice musicians out of their bedrooms and on to a stage.
The record attempt starts at 6pm today (18th) and runs until 6pm on Friday 19th.
For more information and details about how to get involved, visit Guitar Social
Whizz over the city with Zip Now London this summer
Calling all thrill seekers – if the idea of being 35m up in the air in central London, whizzing at speeds of up to 50kph over a distance of 225m appeals then read on…
Zip Now London returns to the Southbank for its third summer season today (12th) until 15th September.
This year it’s set to be bigger and better with a fourth line offering even more highflyers the chance to enjoy the views and the exhileration.
After launching from a 35-metre high tower you’ll whizz past the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Gherkin, Lambeth Palace and The Shard.
Real adrenalin junkies will be able to add on the option of a free-fall mega drop if they think they’re up to it!
Zip Now CEO Barry Shaverin said: “Zip Now London is back and better than ever offering a huge rush of adrenaline without needing to leave zone one. This year we’ve added a fourth line to meet the huge customer demand for people to fly in groups with their families, friends and colleagues.”
Zip over London Monday to Friday 11.30am to 7.30pm; Saturday 9am to 7.30pm and Sunday 9am to 5pm.
Whether you’re a tourist or just curious about our capital, spending the day exploring London can be an amazing experience.
Danny Horwood, from urban scavenger hunt innovators Foxtrail London, shares his advice for what to include on your to-do list.
Much of London’s diverse landscape is made up of buildings that have made it through the Great Fire, the Blitz, and the many other threats since the city was founded more than 2,000 years ago.
A great place to start is London Wall, while mostly in ruins, is estimated to have been built in 190-225 AD and is widely considered the oldest building in London. London Wall is conveniently close to the major landmark Tower Hill, famous for its gruesome executions, and the even more iconic Tower of London, so you can pay a visit to the Crown Jewels, ravens, and Beefeaters while you’re exploring the area.
Modern London is diverse, influential, and packed with culture, so there’s always plenty of new landmarks to discover – some are bizarre, like the world’s longest tunnel slide at the UK’s tallest sculpture, the Orbit, and some are impressive, like the Shard and it’s 244-meter-high observation deck.
While not the newest addition to London’s skyline, the London Eye has become an icon in its own right to rival Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, despite originally being designed as a temporary feature. With some of the best views in the city, it’s ideal for taking in all the sights of London at once and a great option for time-pressed tourists.
London is home to some of the world’s greatest eating, drinking, and shopping experiences, but there are so many more unique attractions to explore. Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeon, and Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station, for example, are world-famous must-sees. London’s most popular attraction, the British Museum, boasts one of the largest and most comprehensive displays of world history, if galleries are for you then the V&A museum of art and design has something weird and wonderful for everyone to enjoy, including fashion exhibitions.
If you’re only in London for a short while, it can feel a waste to spend it indoors. Simply strolling down the many famous streets of this old city, there is so much to see and discover including more major landmarks, hidden treasures, and other curiosities.
Why not take a guided tour to get the inside scoop on the rich history of the buildings around you, or take part in an organised scavenger hunt to interact with the city? Getting the family involved in a treasure trail is a great way to have fun, work as a team, and learn through experience.
There’s so much to see and do in London, just get out and explore!
Paintings, ceramics and sculptures by local artists will be on display at Fulham Library in the Society of Fulham Artists & Potters spring art exhibition.
The exhibition which begins today (14th) runs until 19th with much of the work on sale for the six days.
Membership of the society, which was founded in 1952, is open to anyone over the age of 18, living working or studying within the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and neighbouring boroughs. Artists practise in all media and the exhibition is one of two held every year.
Entry is free and the exhibition runs from 10am to 8pm Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm Friday and Saturday and from 11am to 3pm on Sunday.
Here’s why you should catch this powerful musical at Reading’s Hexagon between now and Saturday, 4th May, writes Peter Anderson
Three childhood friends in post 9/11 America are each seeking for a meaning. That was the inspiration for Green Day’s Grammy winning album, fifteen years ago “American Idiot”. Ten years ago, came the musical with lyrics Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong and a book by Billy Joe and Mike Mayer. The musical won two Tony awards and another Grammy award for best show album. Now the musical is touring the UK and comes to Reading and Wimbledon as part of the tenth anniversary tour. The show stars singer-songwriter Luke Friend (X-Factor), Tom Milner (The Voice and Waterloo Road) and introducing Sam Lavery (X-Factor and Capital FM) as Whatsername.
Peter Anderson caught up with the lovely Sam and asked how she discovered her love and talent for singing. I had often sung around the home as a child, then we had a school trip out to Holy Island that included a talent competition. A lot of the lads did football tricks, some of the girls did dancing and for some unknown reason I had a go at singing. From that moment on that was the way I wanted to go, when I came back from the holiday, I started singing lessons and entered competitions.
Whereas unlike Tom she did not have the chance to sing for Tom Jones, one of her relatives and her inspiration has. “I only have one inspiration, my grandfather. When he was younger, he was a backing singer for a while for Tom Jones and could have made a career of it. But that career would have been in London and he had a young family in the North-East. He decided to forgo the possible career and go down the mines to look after his family. I am so glad that he can now enjoy my success and see what I am doing, and he has been very supportive to me.”
So, what can audiences look forward to in the explosive rock musical that is “Green Day’s American Idiot”? “Very like a gig combined with an emotional roller-coaster ride, we have a live backing band between the three of us. I think it is the kind of show where you leave it humming the tunes and then slowly the issues that the musical also raises dawn on you.”
The three of you are more known as singers than for acting, how did you work on the characterisations? “All three of us major characters have been given a lot of help about the research to do with the complex issues the songs raise. The other idea that I really found helpful was that we were made to read the lyrics time and time again without the music. This gave us the time to really grasp the meaning of the words and who we were singing them to.”
For your chance to see this powerful musical that has introduced a new generation of theatregoers to Green Day’s music the show comes to Reading this week and Wimbledon later in May. It is at the Hexagon from Tuesday 30th April to Saturday 4th May, and the New Theatre Wimbledon between 14th and 18th May.
Thousands of people will take part in the iconic MoonWalk London to improve the lives of those with cancer.
Frances Flaxington from Lambeth is preparing to take on her 11th MoonWalk London, organised by breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.
At Midnight on Saturday, 11th May, she will join thousands of women and men wearing decorated bras walking either a Half Moon (13.1 + 2 miles) or a Full Moon (26.2 miles) through the streets of London, to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Both distances start and finish at Walk the Walk’s huge pink tent on Clapham Common.
Frances first heard about The MoonWalk from a friend who had taken part – she had always loved walking and wanted to do something in memory of her mum who passed away from breast cancer. She has now completed an incredible 10 Full Moons, with the first back in 2005. Since then, Frances has been treated for ovarian and stomach cancer, and underwent a preventative double mastectomy because of the very high risk of developing breast cancer herself.
She says: “I am lucky my flat is on The MoonWalk route, so every year I pop home to go to the toilet, rather than having to use the portaloos! Every year, when you are walking along The Thames, it is so emotional as you watch the stream of people all doing The MoonWalk for the same purpose. It is great that cancer is no longer the ‘Big C’ scary word it once was. Life does go on after a cancer diagnosis. You don’t ever forget that you’ve had cancer, but life changes, in a good way – it makes it more valuable.
“I would encourage anyone to sign up to take part in The MoonWalk – it is a great cause, a personal challenge, and brilliant fun!”
The MoonWalk London is the flagship event organised by breast cancer charity Walk the Walk and has helped the charity raise an incredible £128 million for vital breast cancer causes over the last 22 years. The MoonWalk is a unique, fun night out – this year’s theme is Disco Inferno, so think Saturday Night Fever, glitterballs and all things disco! Sign up on your own or maybe get a team of friends and family together to celebrate a special occasion.
The minimum age for taking part in the MoonWalk London is 13 and hundreds of men take part every year – did you know that men get breast cancer too?
Photos from The Moonwalk London 2018
Raise money, raise awareness, get fit and have fun. Please sign up for The MoonWalk London now or donate here
Under the Bridge: a great night of live music is on the bill at Chelsea Blues, Rhythm & Rock Festival.
Enjoy a night of bluesy rock action Under the Bridge at this Fulham Road festival with leading musicians, many of whom have learned their craft from the best.
Brought to you by one of the leading blues and rock organisers in the country, Solid Entertainment, Chelsea Blues Festival is packed full of blues, as you might expect, rhythm and rock – pretty much as it says on the tin.
Among the acts on stage will be Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre and his band.
Martin has been the guitarist of Jethro Tull for 43 years. His sound and playing have been a major factor in their success with album sales exceeding 60 million; the band are a key part of rock history.
As well as several Jethro Tull albums, Martin has worked with legends of the music industry such as Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Gary Moore and shared a stage with Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac.
Martin has put together a band to play music from Tull’s catalogue which includes musicians from a similar background.
Also on the bill are the Stevie Nimmo Trio; Stevie is one half of Scotland’s Nimmo Brothers with his roots firmly in the blues and er, roots world.
JFK Blue are a stylish blues/rock band and have been described as having a Southern rock feel, and you’d imagine that’s the kind of vibe Bourbon Street Revival are channelling too mixing contemporary with rare and well-loved classics.
The line-up is completed by Deep Sea Blue who pride themselves on being a “new wave of indie blues”.
More acts are set to be announced but whoever else joins the bill it sounds as if it’s a night not to be missed on Saturday, 30th March, at Under the Bridge, SW6 1HS. Tickets £29.
A new exhibition at the V&A showcases the fashion revolution launched by Mary Quant.
Miniskirts put Mary Quant on the map, it became a fashion icon and came to symbolise a new era for women.
The little skirt which made a big difference will no doubt be a stand out attraction in a new exhibition at London’s V&A showcasing the work and influence of the designer.
Examples of her famous designs from across the 1960s and 1970s will highlight the way in which she launched a fashion revolution on the high street. More than 200 items of clothing and accessories, including unseen pieces from Quant’s personal archive will form part of the exhibition.
Born and brought up in Blackheath, her Welsh schoolteacher parents refused to let the young Mary attend a fashion course so she studied illustration instead at Goldsmiths where she met her future husband Alexander Plunket Greene. After graduating in 1953 she began an apprenticeship at a high-end milliner.
Together with Plunket Greene and a friend, the three opened a restaurant in the basement of a house Plunket Greene bought in King’s Road, Chelsea, by this time fast becoming “the place to be”. But it was the boutique she opened on the ground floor, Bazaar, that was to pave the way for Quant’s career and change in fashions.
Starting with clothes bought wholesale, she soon switched it up a gear after the success of a pair of lounge pyjamas she had designed for the opening and began stocking the boutique with her own designs.
Working overnight to produce new stock for the shop, which continually offered new lines, customers came in search of the unique items at competitive prices.
Bazaar was making a name across London as one of the few shops selling an alternative to the more “mature” designs of traditional high fashion. And it wasn’t just the clothing that brought about the different approach – the boutique offered loud music, free drinks, extravagant window displays and extended opening hours that all helped to attract shoppers.
She drew her influences from the musicians, dancers and street chic as well as the Mods who were shaping London’s youth culture. Quant’s initial collections were modern, simple and wearable, she wanted “relaxed clothes suited to the actions of normal life” as epitomised by the miniskirt, named after her favourite make of car, the mini.
Bright colours were a feature of her designs too drawing on clothing she’d worn as a child at school and dance classes and soon coloured tights were seen all over the capital, often with one of her high-hemline skirts.
Mary Quant, photograph by Ronald Dumont, c.1967. (C) adoc-photos/Corbis Premium Historical/Getty Images
By 1957, the popularity of her clothing led to the opening of a second Bazaar in the King’s Road designed by another design icon Terence Conran.
And her originality didn’t end there – in 1966 as the nation was celebrating England’s World Cup glory, she invented hotpants, a garment even shorter than the miniskirt. The designer was also honoured with an OBE in this year.
She went on to sign a contract with American retailer JC Penney and expanded into the UK mass market with a cheaper line, Ginger Group.
By the end of the sixties, it is thought as many as seven million women had at least one Quant in their wardrobe while her cosmetic range was worn by thousands more.
The beginning of the next decade saw her empire grow to include homewares, swimwear and jewellery and even a skincare range for men.
In 1990 she was awarded the Hall of Fame Award by the British Fashion Council and in 2015 became Dame Mary Quant in the New Year’s Honours.
Co-curator Jenny Lister received an overwhelming response to the request for items for the exhibition. She said: “Quant is a fashion icon and one of the UK’s most well-known designers, so it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to fully celebrate her contribution to global style.”
• The Mary Quant exhibition, sponsored by King’s Road, runs at the V&A from 6th April until 16th February 2020.
Liz Nicholls goes undercover to help you create your dream bedroom and get a good night’s sleep in National Bed Month.
Creating the perfect boudoir is a labour of love. And this month is the perfect time to lavish love on your bedroom, and yourself, to get a better kip…
Delightfully for fans of 1970s decor such as myself, one of the hot trends of the year is a celebration of retro shapes, especially the lozenge, with glitz points ramped up even higher if it’s in velvet. For a sumptuous example, check out Danetti ‘s Rene king size bed in navy blue (pictured above right) or Living It Up’s Harmonia platform bed in emerald green (above). If you want to go “full princess” (I mean, who doesn’t?!), also check out the chic hotel-worthy beds and accessories from French Bedroom Company, including the plushious throw (jewel-hued velvet again). See our competitions page, too!
March is National Bed Month when bed brands, including many based in Chelsea’s buzzing design quarter, are offering advice and deals on new beds and bedding, to encourage us all to sleep more soundly and deeply. Check out And So To Bed, Sweetpea & Willow, Original Bed Company, Button & Spring, Button & Sprung, Feather & Black, Darlings of Chelsea and Made.
For all you fellow insomniacs out there, Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams is well worth a read. The bestselling author’s latest tome is helping debunk unhelpful sleep habits. Notably; keeping a regular bedtime routine (including evening meditation if possible, Calm and Headspace apps are well worth checking out) and avoiding caffeinated drinks after 12noon and naps after 1pm.
Don’t underestimate the power of a dark, cosy bedroom interior to lull your body into healthy circadian rhythms – this encourages REM-rich sleep to replenish energy levels. As you can see from the range of bedroom inspo pictures here, dark and moody colours are hugely on-trend at the moment. I’ve gone for Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue on my boudoir walls, set off with a soft Middleton Pink on the ceiling and copper accents. It’s not as mad as it sounds – the effect is gentleman’s-club-meets hotel getaway. I can’t recommend a bold, dark hue highly enough – check out Annie Sloan’s new range.
Switching off electronic devices, especially blue-light emitters, is a must for a good sleep, as is avoiding clocks or looking at the time during a wakeful night. If our brains are over-saturated with artificial light, this disrupts the release of melatonin, so echew overhead lights in favour of lamps; we love the infinity star (£9.99) and more by Lights4Fun and dimmable options.
Research shows, too, that most of us set our bedroom temperature too high to help you drop off soundly – 18C is ideal for most people.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of great bedding to help you get a good kip! Senso-Rex, the company behind www.gravityblankets.co.uk, was founded in 2013 and its products have recently been winning rave reviews for easing stress and anxiety. State-of-the-art gravity blankets are tailored to your height and body weight to provide the sensation of being hugged or embraced and ensure a dreamy sleep. The Snoooze travel pillow has also been designed to give you perfect comfort and convenience when travelling. This revolutionary travel pillow, with zip compartments which enable it to expand and create a soft, bouncy luxurious feel, comes with a 100% cotton pillowcase and its own bag for easy transport .
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.”
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