Category Archives: Reviews

Costa Book Awards: celebs, gossip and a worthy winner

Costa Book Awards
First time novelist Nathan Filer with his Costa award-winning book, The Shock of the Fall

My taxi driver was very excited when I said there would be loads of celebrities at the Costa Book Awards.

‘Like who?’ he asked, as he turned off Piccadilly to head towards the event venue, Quaglino’s restaurant.

‘Like, erm, Ian Hislop, and Simon Mayo… and maybe Mariella Frostup?’ I tried to think of some more A-list names who might conceivably be there but I should see his shoulders drop. He was obviously not that impressed.

Of course, it turned out I had slightly undersold the whole thing. The first person I spotted on walking down the stairs to the event was Jerry Hall, looking stunning in a massive halo of blonde hair.  Just nearby was actress Natascha McElhone, and Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri, the gorgeous Neil Pearson, and looming over all of them was the tall, brainy one from Pointless (Richard Osman – he is really rather tall). Continue reading Costa Book Awards: celebs, gossip and a worthy winner

So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

redemption bar notting hill

Visitors to Redemption, tucked away in the unfashionable corner of London between Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove, first have to walk past an array of Notting Hill’s pubs and wine bars, packed with Bright Young Things knocking back the very latest in alcohol trends, from finely-crafted cocktails to locally-distilled artisan gin.

Those who ignore such delights and cross the bridge over the railway tracks, find themselves in a different world altogether – low rise seventies-style flats overlooking a row of extremely untrendy shops; a bookmakers, a kebab shop and in the middle, Redemption.

It is almost empty when I arrive at 6.30 on a Saturday evening, but within the hour every one of its five or so tables is occupied, by couples and groups of friends, and the two-strong waiting staff are cheerfully rushing around with orders. Continue reading So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

Review: Quidam, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall

cirque du soleil royal albert hall review

Having just a few months ago seen the jaw-dropping, mind-boggling spectacle which is Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, the Cirque’s Quidam show at the Royal Albert Hall certainly had a lot to live up to.

But while the London show didn’t boast a 1.5 million gallon swimming pool in which acrobats high-dived and from which grand pianos emerged – the Royal Albert Hall’s insurers might have had something to say about that – Quidam was a much more intimate experience which seamlessly combined moments of exhilarating high energy with awe-inspiring displays of quiet and focussed acrobatic strength and grace which had everyone memerised.  On several occasions during the show I realised that I had forgotten to blink or swallow for what seemed like an age, and my sharp intake of breath at one stunning sequence was amplified a thousand times as the entire audience did exactly the same. Continue reading Review: Quidam, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall

Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos

Mark Warner holiday Kos
Mark Warner’s hotel in Latikira, Kos, Greece

Take dozens of single people, put them in a beach resort for a week, add sun and alcohol, and it’s simply a matter of time before holiday romances start to flourish.

It was just a couple of days into my Mark Warner holiday on the Greek island of Kos when the first newly-formed couple could be spotted. Walking hand-in-hand towards the beach, they looked happy, self-conscious and smug all at the same time. The rest of us were very happy for them – even if we did think that the holding hands thing was a bit twee – but we didn’t think the relationship would last much beyond the baggage carousel.
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It didn’t even make it that far, as it turned out. A row one night over whether to go into town for late-night drinks meant that, what had started off so brightly had, in the way these things do, crashed and burned before the week was out. Still, no matter, there was more dancing and drinking to be done. Continue reading Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos