Polpo opening in Notting Hill

Great news for foodies is that mega-gold star reviewed Polpo is setting up in Notting Hill Gate at the old All Bar One site. Polpo is a bàcaro, a Venetian word which means a humble restaurant serving simple food and good, young local wines. The first Polpo was set up by ex-Caprice chief Russell Norman and chef Tom Oldroyd in 2009 in Beak Street, the Venetian menu and restrained price combo has been a hit. The opening date for our Notting Hill Polpo is set for the end of May, but right now the site is still full of dust and hard hats. The new head chef hasn’t been decided yet but the kitchen will be headed up by Polpo’s executive chef Oldroyd, who looks after Polpo as a group.  Polpo has received the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand for the last three consecutive years and was awarded 2 Rosettes in the AA Guide for Culinary Excellence 2012-2013. Can’t wait. www.polpo


Hopelessly Devoted and Present Laughter

Fancy an incendiary new play? Then get thee to the Tricycle to see Hopelessly Devoted by Kate Tempest. Birmingham Rep and Paines Plough are behind this production. PP is celebrating 40 years of staging new plays and was responsible for Jumpers for Goalposts at the Bush by Tom Wells (one of my faves). Note, Tempest is a well regarded playwright and the youngest winner of the Ted Hughes prize for poetry. Hopelessly Devoted looks at Chess in prison, her relationships, her isolation, her confrontation with her past and her possible salvation through music.  An emotional feast. It has had great reviews presumably from the B’rum Rep run and looks worth crossing the Harrow Road for.
Closer to home and THIS WEEK the Ladbroke Players will be treading the boards at St Peter’s Church with Noel Coward’s Present Laughter – hahaha. From Thursday 3rd to 5th April at 7.30pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are £12 and it is in aid of Ibba Girls School – a residential girls school in South Sudan Book for Present Laughter through


From the Couch

Second in the series of Rachel Kelly’s keys to calm. Kelly is a Notting Hill lifer, mother of five, poetry buff, journalist and author. ‘Black Rainbow’, Kelly’s memoir about how poetry helped her overcome depression will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on 24th April.
Mantra of the week which I’m finding super helpful: ‘Turn control into curiosity’. No, at first it wasn’t obvious to me either, but here’s how it works. Control is a close bedfellow of anxiety. We try and grip ourselves and other people as a response to feeling panicky and yes, out of control. Every time you find yourself trying to boss others and telling them what to do, ask yourself why. Most of the time I’ve found it’s about my agenda and how I think the world should run. Much more relaxing is to stop, breathe, and ‘Turn control into curiosity’. Why do I want to stop them? What is it in me that wants to boss others? It is amazing how less stressful life has become – and indeed more interesting – when I practise this kind of acceptance. Oh, and watch trying to control your own feelings as well. A useful trick: beware all sentences you tell yourself with ‘shouldas, oughtas, couldas and musts’ in them, a list first devised by the famous psychotherapist Albert Ellis. You feel what you feel. It is what it is. Be curious and accepting rather than controlling. That’s not at all the same as saying you should act on all those pesky feelings… but that’s a story for another week.

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Butterflies, bats and beetles

Worms, bugs and bats feature in children’s holiday events at Holland Park Ecology Centre. Beetle Mania is a good workshop, lots of beetles to look at and the children make a beetle model too. One of the most popular ones in Survivor, where children build a shelter in the park. These are incredibly well-run and interesting but to qualify you have to be between  five and 10 years old and it only costs £4.10 for a two hour session.  Meeting place for all the activities is the Ecology Centre, next to the adventure playground. 14th-25th April and you must book. Also really good fun is the Children’s Night Safari, you listen to bats and see amazing moths caught in the insect light boxes. Parents go too.  £7.30-9pm.
Also, Sensational Butterflies is back at the Natural History Museum. A humid tropical enclosure is full of  free-flying fluttering butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises. Now until 14th September, 10am–5.30pm daily, Natural History Museum, tickets £5.50 or £19 for a family.


Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race

A goat race has to be a good reason to cross London. On Sunday 6th April the 6th annual Oxford and Cambridge goat race will take place in Spittlefields City Farm between two goats named Oxford and Cambridge. Goats will be on the starting line at 4pm but get there any time after noon and indulge in bit of a booze up, listen to bands and indulge in some goat related banter. For the those who like a flutter there is official bookie and sweepstake.
Stay in West London on 6th April if the Goat Race is just too silly and make your way to Hammersmith for 5.55pm for the Oxford and Cambridge 160th Boat Race.


Book slam is back

There’s a great line-up for the next Book Slam, where people read from their recently penned books and a band plays too. Book Slam favourite Ben Watt, from  the band Everything But The Girl and DJ and writer will be reading from his new book Romany and Tom. You might like to listen to this from his latest album due out this month  while you read the rest … Watt will be joined by poet and rapper Sonny Green who writes powerful poetry over hip hop and there will be music by Anouska Lewis and Will Burns who has recently been voted one of the Faber New Poets for 2014.  The Tabernacle, Powis Square, tickets £8 or  £10 on the door. Get there 6.30-ish to nab a table and have some food befoe the 7.30p.m. start.  The first person to send a cheerful comment (click at bottom of story) will get two FREE tickets. It’s going to be a great evening.


Wildlife exhibition at Great Western

Feral Film Foundation is an African film production company which promotes community based wildlife conservation through film. There will be  an exhibition of limited edition African wildlife prints by Kenya-based Jimmy Greenwood and an auction of single editions to raise funds for the Foundation in association with The Tongwe Trust and the brilliant Fauna & Flora International. Great Western Studios, Alfred Road, 8th-11th April. For the private view on the 10th or to buy one of the prints contact events@greatwesternstudios Or you could just pop on your khakis and have a look at this …


Two for the price of one

K&C is paying for 41 extra police constables this year to support and boost numbers of community officers. But there is a good deal. The real cost of a police constable is £65,000 a year but the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is currently offering a BOGOF (buy one get one free). Is there a fiddle, shouldn’t we be having 42? In other words, it will cost £32,500 a year to acquire the services of a constable. Cllr Joanna Gardner, cabinet member for Community Safety, IT and Corporate Services, says: “All the evidence says that our investment in PCSOs has been a success, particularly when it comes to providing a visible policing presence, but PCSO (police community support officer) numbers are going into decline and we now have an opportunity to reinvest in full police officers and a different way of working.”


Irish Jane’s lemon cheesecake

For the Base: 8ozs (Irish Jane likes oz) digestive biscuits crumbed – put in a bag and bash very therapeutic, 3ozs butter.
Melt the butter and mix in the biscuit crumbs and then press into a dish.
For the Filling: 3 x 12oz packets of Philadelphia cream cheese, 1 tin of condensed milk, the juice of three lemons (just typing this is making my mouth water).
Beat the condensed milk with the cream cheese, then add the lemon juice and spread onto the base. Pop in the fridge until you are ready to scoff. Then decorate with grated dark chocolate. You will never look back.


Give it up

Easter is coming and with it the end of Lent. Most of us give up alcohol or chocolate for 40 days. Fitness expert, Gill Clegg tells us what we should give up instead.
1. Red meat – too much isn’t good for you or the planet; less consumer demand = less cow farts = less methane in the atmosphere.
2. Internet shopping after a glass of wine – your bank manager (and your waist) will thank you.
3. Selfishness – do something nice for someone every day.
4. The car. Run, walk, cycle, skip…get to that meeting any which way but by car.
5. Tooting your horn – if you can’t give up your car then at least give up adding to London’s noise pollution.
6. TV – now the nights are lighter go for a walk or do some stretches in the garden.
7. Processed food – now you’re not watching TV you’ll have more time to be a cook from scratch.
8. Fizzy drinks – empty calories and new research has shown that diet drinks give you diabetes too.
9. Twitter – you will feel cleansed from the inside once the horrific cold twitter turkey subsides.
10. Your private jet (…..or taxis) – give the money to charity instead.