Art in Clapham

 Looking for something a bit arty to do in Clapham? Why not pop down to Studio Voltaire on Nelsons Row, just a short walk from the Common and visit Laura Aldridge’s first solo exhibition.

Aldridge’s visual and sculptural language engages with femininity with its use of homely and sometime folksy constructions and use of pastel colours.  The work can be understood as following a tradition of a number of artists engaging with the decorative and seemingly sentimental work, particularly Ree Morton and Lily van der Stokker.

The exhibition runs from 31st March to the 14th April, open 12pm – 6pm Weds-Sat.

Everyone’s Zumba-ing!

Zumba has taken the country by storm and literally EVERYONES talking about it! So last night I decided to bite the bullet, take a class and see what all the fuss is about. I’d heard that a popular one was Lindsay-Jay’s class at Wessex House in Clapham Junction, so along with a friend I arrived at 6:30 donning some light trousers and a strappy top because word is you get HOT HOT HOT! I was absolutely amazed to see how many people had turned up and rather relieved to see that not everyone was beautifully toned dancers – in fact there were all ages, shapes and sizes! Having found a space, almost at the front (eek!) the Latino pop music started pumping and Lindsay bounded on to a platform and began performing some simple dance steps encouraging us to follow. The pace was roughly that of an aerobics class but the moves were a lot more dance focused and rhythmical. There was a great deal of booty shaking, quick salsa inspired steps, punching the air and jumping around – it was indeed VERY hot 20 minutes in! The best thing I felt about the class was that it didn’t matter how good you were or whether you were keeping up, everyone just let themselves go and really got in to the spirit of it. Lindsay-Jay kept up a good pace throughout the class making sure you felt like you had a good work out but at the same time enjoyed yourself. She’s extremely inspiring and says ‘I’m so passionate about what Zumba does for people, especially those that wouldn’t normally exercise. It’s so much fun and its effective – it truly is exercise in disguise!’. She runs classes throughout the week, click here for further information. At the end I felt like I’d had a good hour of cardio exercise but more importantly I’d had fun – I will definitely be going back for more next week!

Camp Royale

It’s true! The Royal Wedding is coming to Clapham!…Well almost. On the weekend of the Royal nuptials, Clapham Common is set to be transformed into celebratory campsite where the event will be shown on an enormous screen and there will be prizes for the most excitingly decorated and elaborate tent. The organisers have buddied up with National Express and Yorkshire Tea who are providing camping packages along free tea – woo! Melanie Oxley, the chairman of the Friends of Clapham Common has expressed her concern over the large amount of people descending on the area over the three days. She commented ‘if we have bad weather its going to end up looking like Glastonbury did’.  Organisers are hoping for a sunny bank holiday weekend so the ground remains firm and people can enjoy the ceremony sunglasses and deck chair style with cup of tea and Union Jack in hand! The site will have its own security, toilets and hot water and will be open from April 28 to May 1 at £75pp

Clapham’s Mary Poppins

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to meet with Kathryn Mewes, Clapham’s very own Bespoke Nanny. With 16 years experience working with a variety of children and teenagers both in the UK and Australia, she spoke passionately about her work and recent case studies.

On first impressions Kathryn appears smiley, gentile and delightful to be in the presence of, it was immediately apparent that she could put anyone, children or adults, at their ease. She explained to me with great enthusiasm, how the Bespoke Nanny business idea came about. Kathryn graduated from the Norland College back in 1996 and has been a Nanny for a broad range of children ever since.  Temper tantrums, fussy eaters, non sleepers, non speakers, twins, triplets, sibling rivalry – she’s seen everything and taken it all in her stride. She has now set up her new business focusing on spending a smaller amount of time with a larger number of families, with the intention of working together with the parents to break down and sort out problem areas and difficulties that have arisen with their children.

Parents will approach Kathryn with all sorts of issues, but nothing that seems to have ever fazed her. As a first step she will sit down with the parents for a 90 minute consultation and chat through their concerns, worries and difficulties surrounding their child and they will then devise a plan of action that will be carried out over the next few days. She will then observe the child in a daily routine and by the second day Kathryn begins to work her magic. Using games, creative activities, encouragement and reward systems and a whole host of other exciting techniques, Kathryn immerses herself in the child’s life, becoming a friend, someone they can trust and temporarily part of the family. Through these techniques and using her wealth of childcare experience she unravels sleep problems, funny eating habits, potty fears, playing and social skill difficulties and many more challenges, making sure the parents are involved and in full support every step of the way. Depending on the issue, Kathryn will be with a family for between 3 and 4 days with weekly follow up phone calls to check on progress for a month afterwards.

We are lucky enough to have Kathryn living on our doorstep in Clapham, an area that she feels ‘has a real sense of community’ and she hopes that the majority of the families she helps will be local.

Further details about Kathryn and the Bespoke Nanny service can be found at www.bespokenanny.com and Kathryn can be contacted directly at Kathryn@bespokenanny.com

Gails Bread Revolution

Back in 2005 when Ran Avidan and Tom Molnar created GAIL’s, finding good artisan bread in London was not easy. GAIL’s decided to change the way people feel and think about bread and make good bread accessible to Londoners by putting their shops in residential neighbourhoods that had a sense of community spirit.

GAIL’s have decided that they want to create a bread revolution and change the way people think about, feel about and consume bread. They believe that ‘truly ‘good’ bread you only need flour, water, salt and yeast. You don’t need preservatives, artificial colourings, flavourings and all that jazz so GAIL’s doesn’t use them, preferring to use fresh, natural, healthy ingredients.’

Good bread has character and GAIL’s loaves are all handmade with their own special recipe. GAIL’s breads are seriously ‘slow-dough’, the most important tool in their bakery is the hands of the bakers. Each baker hand kneads the dough and looks after it while it proves for 48 hours (industrial bread takes less than an hour to prove). Like their bread, each GAIL’s shop is handcrafted to be unique and fit into its local environment. Although GAIL’s does have a number of stores, they are against the “chain” mentality where each store looks exactly the same and the people are robots. They want their customers to relax and enjoy their shops and through this connection feel a sense of community.

AS PART OF THEIR BREAD REVOLUTION CAMPAIGN GAIL’S WILL BE GIVING OUT A FREE LOAF OF BREAD WITH EVERY PURCHASE MADE IN THEIR BATTERSEA SHOP ON NORTHCOTE ROAD ON 20TH MARCH

Perfect Pancakes!

This Tuesday is Pancake Day and LoveClapham has put together a little simple recipe for you to get flipping with!  

Preparation is everything…

Pour 300ml of milk into a jug and beat 2 large eggs in, place 125g plain flour into a bowl and make a hollow in the centre, then slowly pour the egg and milk mixture into the centre of the flour, whisking as you pour. Keep pulling flour in from the edges so that you don’t end up with a lumpy mixture. Once all the flour is incorporated, whisk 25g melted butter into the batter, cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

Cooking and Flipping…

Use a non-stick frying pan for best results and heat it on medium until there’s a slight haze coming from it. Add a small scoop of butter and let it melt, moving the pan around so it covers the base. Whisk the batter once more before using it. Ladle 70ml of batter into the pan – rotating the pan as you go so that it covers the bottom. Leave to cook for no longer than 1-2 minutes. To check if the pancake is ready to be turned, loosen the edges with a spatula then give it a little shake – it should come loose and move in the pan. If you’re feeling brave, grab the handle with both hands and step away from the stove. ‘It’s all in the wrist action’ so flip it quickly and confidently inwardly. Place back on the heat, cook for another minute and slide out onto a plate.

Toppings…

If plain and simples your thing then lemon and sugar is the way forward. For those of you with a sweet tooth nutella with sliced banana or ice-cream with chocolate drops. A personal favourite is maple syrup with chopped strawberries. But there’s no limits to the list of toppings so get creative Clapham and enjoy flipping this Tuesday!

Protests Against Lambeth Cuts

Last night over 300 protesters lobbied Lambeth Councillors in a bid to vote against the Labour group budget. Security and Police gathered quickly in an attempt to keep them away with no entry to the galleries, however a fight broke out in the coucil lobby and protesters forced their way into the Council Chamber.  Concillors were quickly moved to a side room and a decision was made to vote through the budget quite hastily. Meanwhile in the council chamber Lambeth SOS chaired a people’s council where members of the community, anti-cuts movement and trade unions spoke about how the cuts will affect them and where the movement will go next.

The group was an organised protest who are committed to ‘resisting every single cut to services, jobs, pay benefits and pensions and every single rise in rents, tuition fees and taxes for working class people’ – as said on their website.

So what are the cuts that they were protesting against?

  • The park ranger service
  • The school crossing patrol service which serves 24 schools
  • More cuts in Children’s Services
  • Libraries budget slashed and staff cut
  • Discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
  • Regeneration schemes on housing estates
  • Cuts and privatisation in adult social care
  • Lambeth and Lewisham Colleges to merge – massive cuts to local education
  • Reduction in highway maintenance levels and potholes
  • Maintenance of the borough’s parks, cemeteries and crematoria is to be scaled back.
  • Street cleaning levels reduced
  • Were you there last night? Or do you have an opionion? – let us know by leaving your comments below.

    Brasserie James

    On Thursday I walked over to Clapham South for dinner with my friend Ellie at Brasserie James. I’d read positive reviews about its talented young chef Craig James and was excited about the prospect of sampling his new menu. Inside the dining area is modern yet warm and deceptively spacious, with soft lighting and table candles it allows for a relaxing dining experience. It appears to attract couples and small groups which means it would never feel too noisy even when full.

    We were greeted by the Manager and shown to our table in the window. At a glance the menu appeared full of sumptuous, mouth-watering dishes and each and everyone had their own individual culinary twist creatively injected by Craig. The wine list was bountiful and there was the option of by the glass, carafe or bottle. We opted for a velvety mid range San Rafael Merlot, however for those feeling a little more adventurous there was a classic cocktail list and a small selection of champagnes.

    To start with we were treated to an amuse bouche in the form of a pastry beetroot and stilton tartlet which was shortly followed by a basket of homemade chunky slices of warm bread with red pesto and basil cream dips which were divine and surprisingly light. As a starter I chose pan fried scallops which were bouncy and seared to perfection, teamed with able companions in the form small rounds of pork and dashes of Bois Boudran sauce, the dish was delicate and thoughtfully flavoursome. Ellie had the squid and chorizo salad, it had a rugged charm in its presentation and whilst the squid was golden and very crispy the chorizo was slightly too oily.

    For the main course we both plumped for the waiter’s suggestion of roast breasts of poussin and the Assiette of Denham Castle lamb. Ellie commented that the lamb was wonderfully tender and the best she’s eaten, which rather speaks for itself! The poussin was stuffed with sage and chestnut which could have been slightly too rich and filling were it not for the fact that it was cleverly put together with a simple side of squash and spring onion croquette potato.

    It’s surprising I know but we just about had room to try one of the puddings from their modest dessert list. The obvious choice for us both was the valhrona chocolate fondant, salt caramel and honey comb ice cream, which was melt in the mouth delicious and rounded off a scrumptious meal perfectly. The staff were attentive, friendly and made the overall experience very pleasurable – I would definitely recommend Brasserie James. I hope to be making a return trip to try their breakfast menu!

    Acoustic Clapham

    Starting this Wednesday 16th February, The Bread and Roses pub on Clapham Manor Street will be hosting its first Acoustic Session, which is set to become a regular fixture, where the South London musicians will aim to offer listeners a varied and exciting night of live music.

    The 4 musicians will play a range of acoustic, funk, indie and rock based sets entertaining the audience from 7 to 11pm. There aren’t a great deal of opportunities to see live music in the Clapham area, so if you want some authentic sounds from some talented and creative people on your doorstep, then head to the Bread and Roses after work mid week and lets rival all those North London gigs!

     The pub is run by the Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union council and they are a worthy organisation so being involved in events here is going towards a good cause. Also if you’re a musician and you want to share your talents and passion with the community please let the organisers know by contacting them through flomproductions08@gmail.com

    Luuurve is in the Air

     

    Second only to New Years Eve, Valentines Day has the tendency to be one of the years greatest and most expensive anti climaxes. But if you want impress and treat a loved one, this Monday 14th to something other than last minute petrol station flowers and a cheap bottle of plonk, then we have some cunning little suggestions up our sleeves and all within half an hour of Clapham.

     Taking ‘the plunge’ at Tower Bridge  The metaphor for ‘getting hitched’—not plunging into the icy Thames—is being used to promote an evening of romance, bubbly and live music on the high-level walkways 140ft above the river –organisers are hoping the Big Question will be popped and are offering a chance to win Tower Bridge as a free venue hire for their wedding. Tickets are £15

     Love is Change exhibition If you are looking for something a little different with a cultural angle visit Love is Change. A charming exhibit that explores the diversity and power that love ignites through photography, art and music. Free admission

    Charlotte Street Hotel Enjoy a sumptuous four course dinner with a glass of champagne and canapés, followed by a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in this hotel’s luxurious private cinema for £60 per person

    Valentine’s Masquerade Ball The historic banquet hall in St. Katharine Docks provides the setting for a one-off special event which will offer guests a blend of romantic dining, dance, revelry and entertainment played out against the carnivalesque backdrop

    In the Mood for Love at the Jazz Cafe Saxophonist YolanDa Brown returns to the Jazz Cafe with her In the Mood for Love concert featuring full Live Band and Special Guests covering a range of musical genres.

    Ever felt like you’d quite like to join a choir but never have for fear of ‘not being good enough’ or embarrassed of singing in public? Well perhaps this is the answer for you. Vocality Clapham is a fun and friendly singing group led by an experienced musical director. Their unusual repertoire of songs from around the world includes traditional folk, spiritual, pop, gospel and ethnic tunes, from as far afield as Eastern Europe and Africa as well as the home nations. Vocality founder Catherine Dyson commented: “Our approach is rather different from many choirs: there are no auditions, we don’t use sheet music and it doesn’t matter if your voice is a little rusty. It’s all about giving people a chance to experience how fantastic it feels to sing beautiful songs in harmony with others. And if you’re having a bad week, it’s just the ticket – people go away feeling uplifted and energised.” If you’d like to find out a little bit more about it click here which will take you to their webpage. Happy singing!

    Bright Pink Racing For Life!

    Friday 11th February is Cancer Research Race for Life’s official Clapham launch date, with members of the team out and about at commuter times kicking off the 6 month build up to what they hope to be an epic fundraising day on July 30th. Last year Clapham Common was transformed in to a sea of pink with women of all ages taking part in the 5 and 10k runs raising a fantastic combined total of over £350,000! This year it’s going to be BIGGER and BETTER with target totals amounting to £700,000, Race For Life are encouraging all women to don their trainers and walk, jog or run their way round the Common to help fight the disease that touches one in three of us at some stage in our lives. So if you’re thinking of doing an event close to home this year, on your own, with friends or family, have a look at this link and sign up to be part of something great with one million other women across the UK. I’m doing the 10K – so see you there!