This August-in-review blog post is brought to us all by Sue Hillman of It’s Your London touring company. Providing custom tours tailored to your personal interests, It’s Your London will help you make the most of your time in this phenonemonal city. (For more information visit www.itsyourlondon.co.uk)
August in London has one big landmark event in many of our diaries – the Notting Hill Carnival! It’s 2 days of madness with the loudest of loud sound stages with over 40 of them blasting out, the wildest of wild costumes and the yummiest of yummy Caribbean food. It’s like being on holiday with the smells and tastes of another land from goat curry, jerk chicken to saltfish and ackee with coconut juice sipped out of coconuts and, of course Red Stripe, the drink of carnival. This marvellous event has been held every year since 1966 and now over a million people crowd into the streets of Notting Hill to have a great party. The parade snakes it way through miles of crowded streets of Notting Hill with steel bands on trucks and hundreds of people following the parade. I love showing people round and had 3 different sets of friends visiting including 2 of my mother’s friends in their late 60s which was a challenge but they were game for everything except the ear splitting sound stage on All Saints Road! I could show you hundred of photos but am limiting myself to just a few here!
Music is a big theme in August with outdoor concerts in many of London’s great parks. We went for our annual excursion to Kenwood where the picnic concerts have been going for about 30 years – well that how long I’ve been going! Kenwood House and its park are a wonderful setting for a blanket, good food and wine and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the weather lived up to the music with a massive rainstorm just as we were starting out picnic! You can see the stage by night in this photo alongside 2 shots of the Royal Albert Hall, one inside and one outside, the home of the BBC Proms. Each year this hall hosts 76 concerts over a couple of months and has done for the last 116 years – and no, I’ve not been going that long! The BBC funds this amazing feast of music along with ticket sales and to ensure accessibility there are over a thousand ‘Promming’ tickets for sale each performance for just £5 if you can stand for the performance.
It is a year for anniversaries and this year saw the 70th celebration of the Battle of Britain. Each year is more precious as the heroes get older and fewer can come to the events. I was lucky enough to go to the Cabinet War Rooms where there was a Spitfire on the ground and with a Hurricane on a flypast (too fast for a photo but then speed was so important back then!) and a reading of Churchill’s moving speech in which he said ‘never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few’. Brings tears to the eyes just writing this and it was very emotional on 20th August this year. A group of veterans where there and one, Geoffrey Wellum, who came and talked to the crowd, shook hands, mine included, and was still life and soul of the party. You may have seen the BBC TV programme about him called First Light, the title of his book. Dame Vera Lynn was there too, an extraordinary and gracious 93 year old!