Blog Every Day in May: Newsflash

“Talk about something that is in the news today.”

This is my kind of news story…..

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My pick from the Red Carpet

It’s all been building up to today…the weeks of warming up, sneak peaks and the rest of awards season….and now our wait is over….we get to see what everyone wore to the Oscars!

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m just as much into cinema as I am fashion, but really for me, the Academy Awards are all about the pretty frocks. I rarely agree with who The Academy choose to win, and the cynic in me fears it’s pretty political anyway (I won’t get into the whole Skyfall debate again for fear of raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels), and I’ve never once watched the whole award-giving bit through.

But, snoop, judge and nosey at what everyone wore I CAN do! And here are my favourites from this year…..

I think Reese Witherspoon gets a bit of stick for choosing rather girly dresses for these things, and if I could remember anything she’d ever worn before (brain like a sieve, me) maybe I’d agree. But whilst you couldn’t ask for a more feminine silhouette than this number by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, I think she’s pulled off an incredibly glamorous look this year. I’m crazy about the cobalt blue (big for this Autumn I’m hoping!) and her curves are to die for.

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Hello Audrey Hepburn! Anne Hathaway has been going up in my estimation for a while now, and her super cute crop is just beautiful in my opinion. Her gorgeously simple Prada dress matches her look perfectly, and she’s just heavenly in those delicate blush tones. The dress manages to be both modern and classic at the same time, as does Miss Hathaway.

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I adore Amy Adams…she’s cute as a button and always unassumingly elegant. I wasn’t sure at first about the frothiness of her layered tulle dress by Oscar de la Renta, but this IS the Oscars after all, and the pretty lavender shade is stunning with her lovely red hair.

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Just look at all that shiny! I’m a sucker for a heavily draped skirt, and Amanda Seyfried’s dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen is a perfect red carpet number. It’d be a little bridal if not for the elegant key-hole neckline, but again, this IS the Oscars so ‘look-at-me’ factor is par for the course.

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And speaking of bridal…here’s the one everyone has been talking about. It would be plain wrong to say that Jennifer Lawrence looked anything less than stunningly enchanting in her Christian Dior gown, and the silhouette is simply incredible. But, I can’t help but think that it’s a little too white, and if only it had some straps going on I’d be fantasising about wearing it on my wedding day! Still, ‘when in Rome’ and all that….and Raf Simons sure has shown the rest how to create a showstopper.

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My somewhat unlikely favourite though is Jessica Chastain’s Armani Prive dress. Actually, it’s more like the complete package in honesty, as Chastain looks nothing short of the ultimate Hollywood starlet with her red lips, curled red hair and porcelain skin.
If *I* was going to the Oscars, this is how I’d want to look!

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Now you know I’m not much cop at talking about what the boys wear….I know their suits are *techincally* different, but I just can’t get myself interested in the particular cut of a dinner jacket. But, I would like to take a moment to talk about facial hair.

Usually I’d say that an event such as the Oscars absolutely calls for a clean shaven face. However, as fiance to a beardy man myself, I have to admit that I’ve been swooning over the Hollywood chaps who chose to keep their chins warm this year….  Bradley Cooper, Ben Afleck, Liev Schreiber, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman all sported rather dashing facial hair, and the silver fox himself, George Clooney, looked yummy. Nicely done boys.

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So, which were your favourites? And are you pleased with the winners?!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…..Box Sets

So it’s that time of year again…..everyone is getting their Christmas shopping done, and in response all the new box sets are out. Whilst I’m at least a *little* bit cynical about all this (I never liked the idea of products being rushed out just for Christmas), some of them are just so jolly tempting! With Amazon’s Black Friday week of sales already in full swing, it certainly seems the time to bag yourself a bargain and set yourself for some long, lazy times on the sofa in front of the telly!….

I’ve always had a fondness for Hitchcock, being a lover of thrillers as I am. I’ve been even more into his work though since we went to see Blackmail at the British Museum earlier this year as part of the ‘Genius of Hitchcock’ and ‘London 2012′ festivals. And so when we saw this wonderful box set come up on the Amazon sale, it had to be ours! I can’t wait to spend long wintery Sunday afternoons watching the 14 films included (Rear Window, Vertigo and The Birds especially!), as well as nosing through the hours of bonus features, a collectible hardback book, art cards, costume sketches, correspondence, and photographs. You can still get the box set on the sale, until 7:15 tonight (until they run out!), for just £61.75, instead of the usual £92.49….that’s about £4.40 per *Bluray* film!…Bargain!

For those that don’t already know, I am a HUGE fan of Twin Peaks. It is certainly my favourite TV show of all time, and I could happily watch it every day. Really. It’s a little shameful then that I’ve not really watched any of its creator’s other work. David Lynch is often heralded as one of the most important filmakers of our generation, and I’m regularly told that I really ought to watch one or other of his films. I *did* manage to sit all the way through Inland Empire, although I can’t say I understood any of it or that I wasn’t rather disturbed by it….I am reliably informed though that his other films are a little easier to follow and that I should enjoy them lots! This Bluray box set includes Blue Velvet, Dune, Eraserhead, Lots Highway, Wild at Heart, and the Twin Peaks ‘prequel’ Fire Walk With Me (which I’m also yet to see). Sounds like a line up to get well stuck into! It’s currently £39 on Amazon.

Coming up on the Amazon Black Friday sale this very evening (7:15 to be precise!), is one box set I’ve really been lusting after. Blur’s 21 Vinyl Box Set is the Holy Grail as far as I’m concerned. Containing 18 discs and three DVDs the set features all of Blur’s seven studio albums in expanded editions with attendant B sides, alongside four discs of demos, off-cuts and out-takes that the band found in their lofts (!), many of which are of course previously un-released. This band had a place in my youth, my musical education and in my so-called-adult life, and I’d gladly spend the 18 hours it takes to listen to 21 in one sitting on a journey through my musical memories.

Have you got your eye on any good box sets? Do share!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Andy McKee at the Union Chapel, with bonus Jon Gomm and Preston Reed

As I mentioned earlier, I took the short trip into London last night to see the very marvelous Andy McKee. I’ve seen him once before, and at the same venue actually….the incredible Union Chapel in Islington (it’s one of my all time favourites).

I wasn’t sure if I should expect more of the same as last time, but I really was hoping for something a bit different. And of course, as usual, Andy delivered.

First up as his warm-up was Jon Gomm. I’d not heard of him before we bought the tickets, but a quick Googling took us to this incredible video. I mean, seriously, HOW?! It’s just ridiculously amazing. The man makes one guitar sound like an entire band! And what’s more, as we found out last night, he’s from Blackpool and dead lovely. After he regaled us with stories of his first gigs in Northern Working Mens’ Clubs and Glaswegian pensioners who wanted to hear something they knew, he treated us to one of the most remarkable covers I’ve ever heard…..his ‘emergency disco number’ in fact, his version of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody had me bouncing in my seat with joy! Love!

When Jon introduced the next act, it was with such respect and awe that I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next! In fact, Preston Reed has been a massive influencer and hero of both Jon’s and Andy’s, and so I was super keen to hear him play. His sound is much more bluesy and blue grassy, but plenty funky too. I loved the sounds he created, not to mention his beautifully glossy silver curls! He makes playing look so incredibly effortless, despite the complex nature of what he’s doing. And when he finished up by promising us he’d be back at the end to play with Andy and Jon, I was more excited still!

Next up, Andy McKee himself took centre stage. I was really pleased to hear some things he’d not played when we saw him before, but more pleased still that he performed his amazing Hunters Moon and Drifting (two of my favourites and his most famous ‘percussive guitar’ songs). He’s such a charming performer, and it’s impossible not to warm to him instantly. Apart from that though, he is so amazingly skilled, and really does something different. I was only disappointed that he didn’t play his version of Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule The World….. next time perhaps!

There was one last treat though, as promised, as Preston and Jon joined Andy on stage to play all together. They began by playing an adapted version of one of Jon’s songs, and we could see right away how well they work together and how much they enjoy it too. One of Andy’s songs was next, and I think this was the one that showed each musician off best….both Preston and Jon took a little ‘solo’ in it, and Andy just looked so thrilled to have them both there on stage with him. My favourites though were Preston’s songs that they played last, but still together. We were warned it was about to get a little more funky, and it certainly did with the whole audience clapping along and grinning just as much as the three men on stage. It was a real joy to see three solo artists join together so beautifully, and part of the charm of their performance together was how much they clearly just adore playing together.

It all made me want to pick up a guitar, and as I thought just that on the way home, I realised that what is not usually my favourite instrument (I’m a piano and violin girl usually) had just been used to such a level as I’d hardly realised they were all ‘just’ playing guitar. If you’re at all a guitar fan, or you just enjoy listening to something different, I couldn’t recommend seeing all three of these musical geniuses enough.

Ems x

Living for the weekend…… 1st and 2nd September 2012 in London

I’ve been making lots and lots of lists this week, in readiness for our move……and not just packing lists and furniture buying lists either. There are so many things I want to do and see before we leave London…..I’ve lived here for 12 years and still haven’t done everything I want to! But then I’m sure I could stay another 12 and still not get through the ever-increasing list! And we’ll not to be too far away, so I’m trying to cut myself a little slack and just make sure I get to as many things as is reasonable! There are a good few things on the list for this weekend of course, and lots of them things that are only on for a few days, so they get priority……

Kings Cross Ice Cream Festival

1st and 2nd September, 11am to 6pm

The Granary Building, Granary Square, Kings Cross

Free entry

This free, family friendly, two-day festival showcases the best ice cream makers in London and the South East and celebrates the history and production of ice cream in the region. Ice cream enthusiasts will learn about the history of ice cream and how it’s made, as well as having the chance to get involved with milking cows, making art, and making ice cream using the latest in nitrogen technologies.

Bowiefest

31st August to 2nd September

ICA, The Mall

Tickets from £10

You may well be as shocked as I am about this, but believe it or not, David Bowie is 65 this year and his seminal album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is celebrating its 40th anniversary! And what a great way to celebrate the man of awesome….with the UK’s first film festival dedicated to David Bowie. The festival includes screenings, talks, Q&As, and is going to make for a truly unique event.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Medals

Until 9th September

The British Museum, Room 37

Free entry

As part of my quest to see every room at the British Museum this year, I popped into Room 37 this Monday and was very impressed with the mini-exhibition there. The display tells the story of the production and design of the medals for the London 2012, including details on the mining of the metal by Rio Tinto, the process of the designs by David Watkins and Lin Cheung, and the fascinating production by the Royal Mint. As usual, the British Museum goes the extra mile by giving historical context for the medals in the shape of 19th and 20th century objects highlighting the longstanding links between Britain and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

Regent Street Festival

Sunday 2nd September, 1pm to 8pm

Regent Street

Free

Head to Regent Street this Sunday for the thirteenth annual Regent Street Festival. Expect eentertainment on the street itself, as well as in-store activities and discounts. The restaurants in the food quarters, Heddon Street and Swallow Street, are also serving special menus and cocktails to boot, and you can keep up to date with everything going on using the Living Regent Street app on your iPhone.

Liberty Festival

1st to 3rd September

Various locations

Free entry

As part of the Mayor of London events for 2012, Liberty Festival offers Londoners the chance to watch the world’s top deaf and disabled performers and artists from the UK and beyond. At venues ranging from the Southbank Centre, BT London Live in the park, the BFI and Potters Fields at More London, you can see comedy, theatre, film and music events, as well as watch the coverage of the Paralympic Games.

The 39 Steps

Criterion Theatre, Picadilly

Special offer tickets from £20

I wouldn’t usually single out one show as a must-see in one of my weekend ideas posts, but I saw this for the second time last night and I just think it’s an unbeatably good night out. Start with a pre-theatre dinner at the stunning Criterion Restaurant (just £19 for two courses on the their set menu, which is packed with seasonal and ethically sourced produce as well as home made bread and butter!), then head just next door to the theatre to see this brilliant show….. Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps, has been cleverly and hilariously adapted for the stage, and has won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy to prove it. With a brilliant cast of just four, the story is acted out using wittily chosen props which imagine up the dozens of settings. It’s fast paced, intelligent, and super funny…..and with special offers on tickets with Time Out, there’s no excuse to miss out!

I hope that’s inspired you! Have a fab weekend!

Ems x

Living for the weekend…. 27th to 29th July 2012 in London

I don’t think anyone could be short of things to do this weekend….even if you don’t want to leave your sofa, there’s going to be lots to get involved in and watch on the telly for one! Still, I’m hoping to get out and about, seen as the sun is due to shine again. Here are my potential plans….
It would be silly to miss this, but you still have just a few weeks left….. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first gig, Somerset House has opened a free photographic exhibition, which documents  their amazing career. The Rolling Stones: 50  showcases a wealth of unseen and rare material, including over seventy prints ranging from reportage photography, live concert and studio session images and outtakes from every period of the band’s history.
East Wing Galleries, Somerset House
Free Admission
Ends 27th August 2012

And whilst we’re on the subject of legendary bands….. I am DEAD EXCITED to see the Blur 21: The Exhibition which opens today. East end venue Londonnewcastle is housing a collection of over 70 images of Blur from iconic music photographers, designers and artists. Celebrating the band’s 21 year career, the retrospective honours Blur’s era-defining music, through the lens of illustrious music photographers Pennie Smith, Kevin Cummins, Tom Sheehan and Paul Postle, and will show never before seen artwork.

Londonewcastle Project Space

Until 14th August

Free admission

From this weekend, London’s cultural hub at Exhibition Road will host nine days of celebratory art, music, science, literature and acrobatics. ROAD SHOW brings a wealth of creativity to the capital, taking inspiration from the stacks of museums and institutions resident in the area. Expect interactive games, theatrical performances, live music, nature workshops, installations (including the hand crafted particle accelerator!), and the ‘Vintage Style Ride’. It’s free to get in, and you can see lists of activities here.

Whilst you’re in the ‘hood, pop into the V&A, where you will find their exhibition of leading British fashion designers and visual artists collaborating in a ground-breaking series of works commissioned as part of the London 2012 Festival. Britain Create 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion features collaborations from the likes of Mary Katrantzou and Mark Titchner, Paul Smith and Charming Baker, and Matthew Williamson and Mat Collishaw. The pairs were given an open brief, as an opportunity to promote the acknowledged relationship between fashion and art, and encompassing sculpture, video, music and photography.
Room 17a at the V&A
Free Admission
Until 29th July 2012
 

Also part of the London 2012 Festival, The World in London is a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery, bringing together over 200 specially commissioned photographic portraits of Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the Games. The images will be mounted on huge panels and exhibited in Victoria Park in East London, as well as Park House in Camden. It’s free to get in too!

I hope everyone has a fab weekend!

Ems x

Cape Town Opera’s Porgy and Bess at the Coliseum

Last night I was lucky enough to go to the home of the English National Opera, London’s Coliseum, to see The Gershwins’ masterpiece, Porgy and Bess. I’ve been there lots and always enjoy the ENO productions, but it was a lovely change to see a production by another company. Welsh National Opera provided the orchestra, so it was fabulous to hear them too for the first time.

I’ve been wanting to see Porgy and Bess for years, having come to love so many of the songs…. There can’t be too many people who don’t recognise at least one song from the show, and ‘Summertime’ is one of the most recorded songs in the world, having been covered in almost every style, including jazz, rock, reggae, soul and samba. And so, in the company of my dear friend Jane, I watched this moving story whilst swaying and humming my way through ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, ‘I Loves You Porgy’ and ‘I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’.

First performed in 1935, the opera Porgy and Bess was based on DuBose Heyward’s novel ‘Porgy’ and the subsequent play. Originally set in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s, Cape Town Opera‘s production moves the action seemlessly and aptly to apartheid-era Soweto. Marking 75 years since Gershwin’s untimely death, and to celebrate Cape Town Opera’s 10th anniversary in 2009, this vibrant and truthful production reflects the ubiquitous and enduring message of the story.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect if I’m honest… knowing so many of the songs in a more jazzy style, I couldn’t imagine how they would fit into a classical opera. And yet, all the well known songs, alongside some equally beautiful melodies, just seamlessly fuse into an amazing score which leads us perfectly through the action. I think this makes it a great first-opera-experience for anyone who would like to get into the genre, but isn’t quite sure if it’s for them. Sometimes, knowing a melody makes you enjoy the performance more, and so this would seem a great show to start with.

There are still tickets available from £19 here, from this evening to the last performance this Saturday evening.

Go see!

Ems x

Hitchcock’s Blackmail screening at the British Museum

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As part of the BFI‘s ‘The Genius of Hitchcock’ (which is in turn part of the London 2012 Festival), we went on Friday night to see Blackmail…..at the British Museum, no less!

We are members of the museum and so received an email ages ago to give us a heads up that it was going on. I’m so glad we did, as it was a one off gala screening and rather a ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of thing. The film was to be shown in the open air, right in front of the museum, which had been chosen because it so heavily features in the film…. So we arrived to the museum well prepared for an evening outdoors, and settled down onto the grass on and under several layers of blankets, and with some very welcome cushions!

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Blackmail is one of the Hitchcock films that the BFI has been working hard to restore. He actually made two versions of the same film, with almost the same cast and crew….one as a silent film and the other as Britain’s first ‘talkie’. The film started as a silent film, and indeed the director was said to prefer this format, which is why I was so pleased to see the silent version.

The soundtrack was provided by a live orchestra, performing Neil Brand’s specially commissioned score, and I have to say this was a real highlight for me. The music was fantastic in its own right, but moreover provided the perfect backing to the action and was certainly responsible for aiding the suspense and making me jump!

The film itself really is a masterpiece. The story of a young policeman, whose bored fiancee bites off more than she can chew when she is enticed up to an opposing suitor’s studio, I found myself compelled by the story from very early on. The film portrays a rather realistic and grimy London, although there was such excitement when the chase scene culminated right at the British Museum….. It was wonderful to se it as it was, and to recognise rooms featured in the villain’s desperate escape attempt.

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I left wowed by the brilliance of Hitchcock, and this wonderful film……and instantly wanted to see more silent films, as well as North by Northwest (my favourite Hitchcock film).

You have another chance to see Blackmail, both the silent and talkie versions, at the BFI in August….you can still get tickets here.

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Ideas for the weekend….. In Sunny, Sunny London

The sun is here!!! It’s sunny! And warm! And the rain has gone! Hurrah!!!

Enjoy it while you can!…..

Wonder Hill Craft Market

I’m back at the Miller in London Bridge on Saturday, hosting a stall at the Wonder Hill Market….. I’m looking forward to showing off my new Jubilee pieces and some other new treasures I’ve made. It’s free to get in, and just around the corner from the wonderful Borough Market.

Wonder Hill Market

Eurovision at The Water Poet

And of course, don’t let let the weekend pass without a little bit of Eurovision….. The Water Poet in Shoreditch is holding a free Eurovision Screening with themed cocktails and dressing up to boot!

The Great London Swim

Now I’m not suggesting you get invovlved in this first hand, but there will be plenty of fun to be had at Victoria Dock on Saturday watching the Great London Swim.  The challenge is to swim one mile as fast as you can along the specially created course in the docks. It’s £38 if you would like to sign up for a go (it’s open to all ages and abilities) but otherwise, pile down to the docks to watch everyone floundering about!

Soho Flea Market

Safely back to shopping, head to Soho on Sunday for the City Showcase Flea Market, which will be showcasing artisans, artists, fashion designers, jewellery designers, filmmakers and musicians. Between 12pm and 8pm, the length and breadth of Dean Street will be closed to traffic and specifically-curated ‘creative market stalls’ will exhibit and sell directly to the public, all in support of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust. The unique event will also feature an outdoor stage with new and emerging music and comedy acts.

Art Car Boot Sale

And for more shopping still, head to Brick Lane Yard on Sunday for the Art Car Boot Fair. Aiming for a super friendly and laid back atmosphere, the sale will see well known artists selling their wares in a car boot style. There is also  ‘Handbag Disco’ which is a rather exciting sort of pass the parcel crossed with musical statues….. Bags include designer handbags and celebrity bags donated by the likes of Alesha Dixon, Daisy Lowe and Sophie Dahl. It’s £3 to get in. Get your bartering hat on!

 Big Nature Day

Also on Sunday, the Natural History Museum is hosting its annual Big Nature Day with lots of free family activities in the Wildlife Garden and Darwin Centre. Expect worm charming, bee box making as well as puppet shows and talks.

Big Nature Day at the Natural History Museum

So get outside and enjoy the sun, and all the fun stuff going on in London!

Ems x