Charity shopping at Crisis in London

Hello from London!

I love that saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining". Last weekend my silver lining took the form of a visit to stay with my dear friend in London. Ben used to be a Gallery assistant of mine (about 10 years ago I think) and our friendship has continued over the years. He's now a mature student studying for a degree in Japanese at SOAS in London. Although he's only just started his course I have every faith in his ability to achieve his goal. When he worked with me he was an absolute power horse, with not just a huge capacity for work, but he had a real flair for selling. Bright as a button and utterly focussed, this guy was always gonna go far! I'd come away to the mainland to have minor surgery on the skin cancer on my back, but rather than the starkness of a trip for that alone, I decided to tag on his offer to stay and have a tour of his local charity shops.

I'd forgotten my Oyster card, but Ben told me I could just use my contactless card to get around on the tube. I loved that I could keep the card safely inside the palm of my glove as I swiped my way around the underground! How exciting these wee things are for an island lass.

My wonderful shaggy leather bag was a gift from Ben many months ago. He bought it in Stanley Market in Hong Kong on his last trip there. Coat is by Covent Garden, two piece is by Zara as are these most comfortable of boots. Handbag is by Carvella. 

But first, was breakfast. Of course. You can't go shopping without a decent breakfast and Duck and Waffle serve a pretty mean breakfast it has to be said.  

The view from this 40th floor restaurant isn't too shabby either.

Ben went for the house special, Duck Benedict whereas I opted for something more simple, but equally delicious. We toasted the day over a glass of Mimosa. For a moment I was worried that we'd peaked too early. 

But no, things were just about to get a whole lot better. Ben took me to his favourite curated charity shop, Crisis at the bottom of Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park. The shop does away with that endless searching for a gem which can be so time consuming. Instead the staff pride themselves with sifting through the donations to steam and display designer wear along with more funky pieces that can command a good price. 

Coming from our tiny island community, one of the shocking truths about London for me is the amount of homeless people you see as you travel around the city. Ben told me that the number of deaths of the homeless is already over 140 this winter. It's a chilling thought that we're barely into winter and this figure is set to rise when the first cold snap hits. Crisis aims to help in the long term as well as over Christmas by bringing those in need off the streets into a caring community where they can not only eat and shower, but access all kinds of medical support and practical help too. My shopping was going to make a real difference to lots of lives. 

The haul!

When we returned to base Ben kindly modelled one of my most sparkly finds. This (H&M) cardigan will surely come into its own over the festive period.

The spree was mostly from the Crisis shop with a few other finds from the Cancer Research shop in Muswell Hill. Exhaustion soon set in, resulting in us beating an early retreat home. Ben cooked dinner while I had a soak in the bath, but not before I spread the loot out for us to admire. Not the best photo, I'm afraid, but you'll see more of these pieces over the next few weeks I'm sure.

All shopped out!

Truro was suitably festive by the time I arrived on Monday. I had time to do some Christmas shopping before going to the hospital for my appointment. In keeping with the island-girl-goes-shopping tradition, I packed up a box of presents, putting them in the post before coming home. Ben had sent a box of clothes home for me too. 

By Tuesday I had reduced my luggage to this amount. That day I had a frustrated trip to Land's End airport as the weather or rather cross-winds, put paid to my flight home. En masse we weary-from-going-nowhere travellers were sent away to return the next day. I took this opportunity to deposit my suitcase at the docks to be shipped home to me, hence avoiding excess baggage charges.

24 hours later and hurrah! Here she comes!

Farewell to the mainland! See you again next year.

Anna x


Our weekend in London

Here I am  just off Oxford Street outside the London Palladium which seemed like the perfect spot to showcase my new JD Williams trouser suit last weekend. We'd taken the boat on Friday evening to Penzance where we then boarded the overnight sleeper train to London arriving at the crack of dawn into Paddington station. We hopped on the tube to the Barbican where we were staying for the weekend. After a shower and change of clothes we headed out for breakfast just across the road to hatch our plan for the day. 

Steve spent the day on Saturday walking along the banks of the Thames, his favourite way of getting to know London. I, mad fool that I am, thought I would hit the sales on Oxford Street. Oh my goodness, what was I thinking? Hot, hellish and overrun with tourists, the streets were heaving and I wasn't man enough for the task in hand. I found a couple of things in Topshop and Zara, made a quick foray into TK Maxx and then retreated back to the flat. When I say, I love to shop, what I mean is that I love to shop successfully. London, well central London, is just too much for me. I made another stab at finding some summer dresses again on Sunday morning and then admitted defeat. Steve and I went to Leicester Square on Saturday night to watch a movie, picking Rocketman which was on my bucket list - that plus Bohemian Rhapsody were the two movies I wanted to see in a cinema setting this year. Elton's story was pretty heartbreaking for the most part, but I loved the costumes and performances.

The main reason for our trip to The Big Smoke was for us to visit Johnnie Walker and his wife Tiggy, who is also his Manager, and to see Johnnie recording his show The Sounds of the 70's on Sunday afternoon. This is us outside the BBC buildings, (shame I'm standing right in front of the name) en route to Wogan House, the home of Radio 2.

I'm harbouring a mix of nerves and excitement as we loiter outside gathering up the courage to enter into the hallowed Radio 2 building.

Tiggy pointing me in the direction of the Green Room which wasn't green at all. Johnnie and Steve fixing up cups of tea, and Johnnie's guest of the day, Lesley-Ann Jones with her publicist getting ready to go on air.

And this is where it all happens. Every Sunday afternoon Johnnie is king of all that he surveys in this recording studio where he talks to the nation sharing stories of his time in the music business. He has interviewed all the music greats and has some amazing tales to tell. As he sits behind the microphone, Johnnie is completely at home in this environment, gauging perfectly each question to elucidate the most revealing answer. His interviewing style is relaxed, warm and friendly, never hard hitting or too probing, encouraging his guest to share some intimate insights behind the big music story of the day.

Lesley-Ann Jones has recently published the memoir, Tumbling Dice, of her days when she accompanied the likes of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on tour as their pet journalist and biographer, her time on Fleet Street exposing the tales of fake news before it ever became a thing, as well as being locked up all in the name of the job - it all makes for riveting and hilarious reading. She has seen and done almost everything within the world of reporting and music journalism and doesn't hold back on telling it how it is. I love her frank and honest approach. If you listen to her interview you'll see that she shoots from the hip. 

Tiggy gasping at the revelations regarding Fleet Street journalism. You'll have to listen to find out what.

Listen to the full interview with Lesley Ann Jones here.

Once the show was finished, we joined Johnnie for a quick photo shoot and then retired to the Green Room for a bite to eat. I was so excited at the prospect of our next stage of the adventure - we were all going to Wembley to see The Eagles in concert! 

We spilled out of the underground and joined the masses on their way to the huge stadium.

I was behaving like Johnnie and Tiggy's personal paparazzi. As usual, I was giddy with excitement, unable to contain my joy. Not only were we on our way to the opening night concert of the biggest rock band in America, but we were guests of the ever-so-famous Johnnie Walker too! 

Of course I had to get a selfie!

Great seats, amazing view, awesome company - I couldn't stop grinning!

Sheryl Crow as support was fabulous. I don't think there was a woman in the arena who wasn't impressed at the physique of this 50 year old rock icon. Get thee to the gym I say!

OMG, The Eagles!

Every hit that we know and love was played over the course of the next two hours - One Of These Nights, Hotel California, A Heartache Tonight, Lying Eyes, Take It To The Limit, Tequila Sunrise, Johnny Come Lately, Take It Easy, Desperado, and closing the show with Best Of My Love which was their first number one in 1974. Don Henley told us it had been a dinosaur week at Wembley, causing a huge roar of laughter. "Dinosaurs leave big footprints" he added. And that's what they did. The musical footprint of the evening was massive, the harmonies spine-tinglingly sweet and the guitar solos were flawless. So smooth were the performances that you had to remind yourself that this wasn't a recording, but live music.

Don Henley's voice was as smooth as honey and the line-up was equally strong with the inclusion of Deacon Frey, son of the late Glenn, keeping the family connection in place.

What can I say about my first visit to Wembley Stadium? Will anything every rival this as a big night out? I doubt it. Steve introduced me to the music of The Eagles when we got together in 1978. It's part of our courtship and now part of our lives again as OAP's - oh how I love that. And it also connects us to Johnnie and Tiggy thanks to the wonderful night we spent together building happy memories. It was bloody awesome!

We left London the next morning, breaking our journey in Truro for the night. As we got on the boat back to the islands on Tuesday I must admit I was still on a high. Steve and I are latecomers to the joys of live music, but I do hope we can get to a few more concerts now that we're into the swing of things. Rock on baby!

I can't help but mention my own claim to fame. In 2018 Johnnie featured me on his radio programme for no other reason than he liked my story of how I came to arrive on the Isles of Scilly. For those of you who may have missed it, my own interview on Sounds of the 70's with Johnnie is still available to hear in its condensed version here.

                                                                                          Anna x

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