Archive for October, 2012

The New Holland Park School

The new Holland Park School has both the X Factor and the Wow Factor, of that there is absolutely no doubt.  The design and internal layout has been very carefully thought out.  In vision it reminded me of the airport at Singapore.  All I can think is those very very lucky children who are going to spend their formative years in such inspirational surroundings.  Every detail, from iMacs to specially designed furniture in maple, to mixed gender loos, to a competitive 25 metre swimming pool, to mesh and copper frontages, to a 1950s style American diner canteen.  They will have it all.

Colin Hall, the Headmaster, absolutely brimming with enthusiasm (and quite rightly, pride), cannot wait for the 19th November when the pupils transfer formally from the ‘old school’ to the new.

The building of the school has not been without controversy, but with time, and once residents get to see the building for themselves I hope they will forget the inconvenience and the wrangle it caused.  The result of such a beautiful building, will surely inspire everyone, but particularly  those who do not come from wealthy backgrounds, that they can achieve anything.

The building is mostly glass, giving a huge sense of light and space despite its housing some 1350 pupils.  To my mind the beautiful bespoke new tables and chairs just waited for some graffiti in traditional school style, particularly on such a momentous occasion ‘i woz ere 19.11.12’ but Colin is quite confident and spoke with pride that his pupils appreciate nice things and that the furniture, well made and very strong, will last for years and years.  The external of the building to the East and West are clad in copper and mesh creating a fluid feeling and one reflecting the nearby trees from either the park or gardens.

The sports grounds available to pupils are larger and better than was previously available  and the sports hall dug deep into the basement is huge – Colin anticipates the standard of games, as well as enthusiasm for sport in general going up dramatically.  And good news for local residents, there are plans in the future to allow local community groups to use the swimming pool and sports hall.

I can only imagine that the school with its classrooms, so light and airy will inspire future generations of pupils to aim higher than they could have ever dreamed.  This is inclusive society at its very best.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography.com


Mayor Launches ‘Magic Wand Appeal’ to help Brain Tumour Research Campaign

The Mayor’s Charitable Appeal this year is for the ‘Magic Wand Appeal’. No The Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Cllr Christopher Buckmaster is not looking for fairies or princesses but rather residents of Kensington & Chelsea who feel strongly enough to give to the Brain Tumour Research Campaign to raise funds for research and £250,000 to fund a SonoWand; a vital piece of state-of-the art neuro navigational system enabling surgeons to operate on the brain tumour more accurately and thus giving patients a higher chance of survival.

At a press launch today, the Mayor together with Wendy Fulcher (who established the Brain Tumour Research Campaign) and Mr Kevin O’Neill (consultant Neurosurgeon at Charing Cross) explained how this money was desperately needed to provide another machine at Imperial College’s Charing Cross Hospital. Over 2500 people in London have brain tumours and would hugely benefit from the kind of surgery offered by the SonaWand and which is safer than previous methods of surgery. The rate of brain cancer is increasing by an enormous 2% each year, yet less than 2% of national research funds go to brain tumour research or treatment.

The Mayor and Mayoress will be holding various events throughout the Borough until the end of his Mayoral term, from dinner parties to dog shows, from carol concerts and Beauty Days to lunch with Sebastian Faulks – all to raise funds and awareness about brain tumours which is the commonest cause of cancer death in children under fifteen, and is the second fastest growing cause of cancer death in adults over 65.

If you would like to support The Magic Wand Appeal, please see www.wayahead-btrc.org/ways-to-donate or call 020 8601 2402. If you are a UK tax payer, the charity can benefit from a further 25% Gift Aid.

To find out more about the forthcoming events please see www.rbkc.org.uk/mayor/charityevents

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography.com



Chocolate Fest at the Royal Garden Hotel to celebrate Chocolate Week

What is it about chocolate that everyone loves a little piece? From the white milky bar kid to ‘… all because the lady loves ….’white, milk or dark chocolate. A recent evening at the Park Terrace Restaurant at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington proved that chocolate in whatever guise, Easter egg, truffle, filled with gnache, or produced as a hot chocolate soufflé still has that allure that most cannot deny.

In front of their chocaholic audience, the two chefs, Head Chef Steve Munkley and Pastry Chef Nick Hollands demonstrated (in many examples) a ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ to show how easy it is to make chocolate cases, Easter eggs, chocolate sauce, chocolate ribbons to decorate Easter eggs or extremely fragile stick chocolate lattices (actually, like most things in life, once you were shown how to do this, it was remarkably easy – but since this was not the Generation Game and we didn’t actually have to do anything apart from eat, I can say this with confidence). As suspected there is a chocolate which could be deemed ‘good for you’ and that is the dark chocolate, especially the 100%, due to the lower sugar content. The worst for you, (with apologies to the Milky Bar Kid) is the white chocolate as too much sugar is added. The stronger the cocoa percentage the better for you.
After our 1.5 hours of instruction on all things chocolate we went through to the dining room for our four course chocolate extravaganza. This comprised …..yes, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. This was definitely not the place for the diabetic. Fabulous evening as it was, I did wonder if it should come with a hotel health warning – ‘not suitable for those with high regard for insulin levels, or those intending to fit into a wedding dress in the near future. For everyone else, this evening is highly recommended’.

The courses comprised Milk Chocolate Parfait, Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroon; White Chocolate and Coffee Tart with marbled Chocolate Ice-cream; Dark Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Flake and Orange Mascarpone and the most sublime Hot Chocolate Soufflé with warm Cherry Bakewell. I had this years ago at Reids Hotel in Madeira, and have never found another which came close, but on this occasion it reminded me of that glorious evening many years ago.

I hope the Royal Garden Hotel repeats this chocolate extravaganza event – the chefs, extremely experienced and willing to share their professional tips were excellent as a double act, the audience who started the evening upon arrival with one of the strongest chocolate cocktails I’ve ever tasted, all thoroughly enjoyed both the presentation and the dinner afterwards.

Chocolates are not just for Valentines – as was (apparently) proved by Casanova who preferred chocolate to champagne. Eat your heart out Charlie.

The Chocolate Dessert menu is available in Park Terrace Restaurant until the 14th October for dinner only.
Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London W8 4PT
www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk / 020 7937 8000

Images & copyright:  Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography.com