HRH The Duchess of Cornwall reviews the Chelsea Pensions at their Founder’s Day

The 321st Founder’s Day at Royal Hospital Road was held on the best of a British day; clear blue skies and sunny. The Chelsea Pensioners looked stunning with their scarlet coats and decorations blazed in the sun’s reflection.

This year the Reviewing Officer was HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Looking radiant in her acquamarine coloured coat dress and matching hat she was clearly at ease talking to the Pensioners and hospital staff at the infirmary and the 176 Pensioners present at the ceremony ‘on the Green’. One Pensioner, upon seeing the photographers’ camera equipment, remarked that he hoped the gear worked. The Duchess, very much at ease, and chatting easily with those presented to her, seemed to genuinely enjoy the occasion, made more relevant by the fact some of those present had likely served with her father in Africa.

The ceremony lasted an hour – a long time for those attending whose average age is 82 and who had to stand throughout. All in all a wonderful and very British Occasion.

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott/Lucy Elliott Photography

(Lucy attended this event as part of the Royal Rota – with thanks to the Royal Press Office, Clarence House).


‘Meet your Neighbour’ Event at The Milestone Hotel

For some years now The Kensington Magazine and The Milestone Hotel have collaborated to hold a ‘Meet your Neighbour’ event where local residents have an opportunity to meet each other. It must be the only event where people can walk up to each other and ask ‘so where do you live’ and its not a chat up line! This event is extremely popular and shows no signs of abating. A wondeful opportunity and the only one of its kind in Kensington.


Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott The Kensington Magazine


Celebrating Influential Women with the Mayor of RBKC and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall

An inspirational reception held at the Town Hall by the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea Councillor Julie Mills, with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in attendance. A room full of women at the top of their professions – professions represented being eclectic; philanthropy, armed forces, retail, government, entertainment, legal and medical with many High Commissioners or Ambassadors representing the Commonwealth. This was particularly relevant since the event was being held on Commonwealth Day. An informal approach to the event enabled everyone to ‘network’ together and it was a privilege for all to meet the Duchess who was particularly interested in meeting those representing parts of the Commonwealth she had visited.

 ‘HRH The Duchess of Cornwall (centre) with the wife of the Lieutenant Governor of the Royal Hospital Angela Currie (blue); Chelsea in-pensioners and the Royal Borough’s Mayor Cllr Julie Mills.’


HRH The Princess Royal meets Young Offenders in North Kensington

Young offenders and Royalty are not the two types of people likely to be getting to know each other over a cup of tea… Well, today the two came together as Princess Anne, known for her charitable work, made a public appearance at the unveiling of her plaque at the ‘Young Offenders Team’ centre in Oxford Gardens, W11. The centre aims to show the young offenders the repercussions by forms of community ‘Payback’ such as community service and to also bring young offenders to talk to the victims of their crimes, to see the affect of their crime and the wider picture. Speaking to a young ex-offender named TJ, earlier convicted of robbery, whose response to the question of what he would be doing without the Youth Offenders Team was “if YOT wasn’t around I would probably be in prison”. Instead he was doing well with football. I’d say that’s a quite a bleak outlook to have and if this kind of centre can change someone’s prospects from behind bars to being on a football pitch then shouldn’t there be more of them and more high profile individuals like The Princess showing their support to them? Does seem like it.

The type of ‘Payback’ the young person must do is decided by a panel of volunteers from the community. Dawn, a panel member in her second year of studying Youth Justice said the role was about “getting to know the person”. Additionally, Nicky Gunter, Preventions Manager described it was that both victim and offender should be given “the chance to be heard” and maybe all that is needed for young offenders is for someone to listen to them to show that not everyone expects them to go down the same path over and over again.

After speaking to many of the victims of crimes and offenders involved at the centre, the Princess made a short speech at the unveiling of the plaque where she acknowledged that the Centre had “set an example of which one or two would like to follow”.

Text by: Hannah Mckellar-Ricketts (on work experience with The Kensington Magazine)
Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine

Images: Left to right:

Top: HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the Restorative Justice Council with Betty McDonald Head of Service; HRH Princess Royal.

Centre:  Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Julie Mills with ‘TJ’, Mr Graham Robb, Restorative Council Justice Trustee

Third line: Julie Mills; Grace Fredricks, Reparation Co-ordinator at the Youth Offending Service with Community Police Carlos Husbands and Helen Tilbury



Truffle Hunting in the Dordogne

Firstly, and I would like to get this out of the way. Not all airports are equal. Some are more equal than others. City Airport is a case in point. None of the usual palaver of walking miles and miles once you’ve got there to try and find your gate. None of the waiting around carousels for your baggage to appear. Departing from City Airport turns out to be rather a well kept secret. You mention City Airport to people and they say, “Oh yes I used City and it was brilliant”. Well if it’s brilliant why aren’t people shouting about it? OK so they want to keep it a secret. Well I’m about to spill the beans. It took us precisely one hour to get there from Notting Hill (Friday morning 8.30 a.m.) and one hour to return to Notting Hill (Sunday 9.00 p.m.) When you get out at City Airport from the DLR the airport is there, right in front of you. Check in took about 60 seconds. Cost-wise, once you’ve added all the implausible extras from ‘no frill airlines’ you might as well have paid City Jet the same but have far less bother. Have I said enough?

City Jet fly to numerous places in France. Margaret and I flew to Brive, in the Perigord region of the Dordogne Valley. Our purpose? To hunt truffles and learn how to cook truffles and foie gras. A hard weekend. Within an hour of landing we were hunting truffles in the truffle area of Yssandon. Truffles can be found in three ways, by using a pig (somewhat unreliable as the pig will enthusiastically eat the truffle), flies (I won’t go into this here) or a dog. We met Jean-Pierre accompanied by his young dog who was definitely more interested in playing. She was quickly replaced with Pif, a 14 year old, experienced ‘truffle hunter dog’. Together we found lots of truffles. One so large that it sold on the market the next day for 180 euros. Truffles found in this area are known as The Black Diamond Truffle. They can be found from December to February and are highly prized. Collected in wicker baskets lined with the traditional red checked cloth, truffles have a very distinct scent, stronger in scent than when actually eaten. They tend to grow, as a fungi about 35 cm beneath the earth, on the roots of oak or hazelnut trees. One easy way of working out whether you might find truffles is whether there is a barren patch of earth surrounding the tree on the grass level. If it’s barren it means there are truffles since they are taking away all the moisture from the surface.

Truffles can be eaten both raw or cooked. Raw can be on sour bread with foie gras, or crushed with salted bread. Cooked could be as a brillarde – a form of runny scrambled egg or omelette with truffle – a traditional dish for all truffle aficionados. Other examples are Limousin beef fillet, with black truffle spelt risotto; roasted wild turbot with black truffle mashed potato; sea scallops cappuccino with black truffle or as a sauce with veal. To my mind the two most simple but delicious ways of eating truffle are (a) sliced truffle sandwiched between two layers of young brie, on bread or (b) truffle with foie gras and a tiny bit of truffle oil, flashed grilled. In both these examples the taste and texture of the truffle really shine.

The weekend of 14/15 January was La Fete de la Truffe held in Sarlat – a beautiful and traditional French market town. Tiny quaint cobbled streets, a traditional market square where the old and the young sample dishes of foie gras and truffles and chefs show off their culinary skills. Each truffle on sale at the market is checked for freshness and quality (if the truffle is ‘wet’ or a bit squishy, then it’s off). But there’s more to see here than just truffles and people eating and drinking. A must is the trip in the Vue du Ciel a glass lift to view the town from above. Masses of higgledy piggley roof tops in reds, oranges and browns, like a Klee painting, adorn the vista. You could imagine this was how London looked pre the Great Fire. Very close together, all shapes and sizes, turrets, flat roofs, steep roofs, etc. You really don’t expect this surprise as you ascend in the lift. Apparently it is equally beautiful at night.

As part of the Fete de la Truffe, the Academie Culinaire du foie gras et de la truffe takes place – here one star Michelin chef Daniel Chambon taught us how to make ‘Petit chou farci de foie de canard a la truffe, brunoise de legumes et de truffes’. Which, like most cookery demonstrations looked simple enough. It certainly tasted delicious. Later in the afternoon it was our turn to try and under the eye of Henry Florance, a group of enthusiastic novices (of varying degree of culinary talent) tackled a gratin of foie gras, truffles and vegetables. And for a group of enthusiastic novices, the results were surprisingly good.

A weekend in the Dordogne (Friday – Sunday) is a wonderfully easy (and stress free) escape from City Airport with plenty to do and see, and if you love truffles, go before the end of February.


How to get there:

What to do/see:
Vue de Ciel, Sarlat: www.sarlat-tourisme.com About 5 euros per person
Jean-Pierre Vaujour email:  jp.vaujour@wanadoo.fr / (only speaks French)

Where to stay:
Manoir de Malagorse www.manoir-de-malagorse.fr
Chateau de Lacan, Brive www.chateaulacan.com
Le Pavillon Saint-Martin Hotel www.hotel-saint-martin-souillac.com


CityJet flies to Brive twice a week from London City.  Their one way fares start from as little as £79, including all taxes. To book flights visit www.cityjet.com or call reservations on 0871 666 50 50. 

Lucy Elliott (Editor) and Margaret Mervis (Travel Writer) of The Kensington Magazine were guests of the above.

Images and copyright: Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine





Remembrance Sunday Kensington & Chelsea 13 November 2011

This year it was the turn of St Mary Abbots in Kensington to host the civic ceremony for Remembrance Day. Hundreds of residents turned up to support the families and friends of those taking part in the march from the Town Hall to St Mary Abbots’ memorial, ranging from older members to little tots – and even little tots dressed in red sweat shirts can march (occasionally turning into a run to keep up).

Officiated by Father Gillean, Father Gareth and Father Rob of SMA, the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills was accompanied by all members of RBKC, Honorary Alderman Richard Walker-Arnott, The Rt. Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Rear Admiral R H Burn, The Rt. Hon the Baroness Hanham and Sir Michael Craig-Cooper. Children behaved beautifully and the Council must be given full credit – Kensington High St. and Kensington Church St were re-designed to give pedestrians right of way, traffic was stopped for the two minutes silence, and even better – car and bus engines were asked by the police to be turned off. This is how the two minute silence should be. With proper respect given.

The sun shone on a glorious Autumnal day; the Church was packed and the sermon given reminded the congregation (specifically designed for the younger audience) that there are three aspects to Remembrance, the past, the present and the future. It was certainly lovely to see so many children take part in this important day in the year.

Images: Copyright Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine