Another busy year and the holidays behind us, so off we go again…
43 bus routes took us out to Redhill, Surrey in the south and Slough, Berkshire in the west; leaving us 151 still to do - hopefully well before I’m 80 years old! Amazingly well-recovered from spinal surgery, Harriet joined us, having already met some of the ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. We rode the #88 from Clapham Common up to Camden Town as the Jewish Museum, which I’d long wanted to visit, had a free Open Day. I learned from Harriet that many Jewish traditions are kept in Ghana today, not only by those of Jewish ancestry.
The informal ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ met regularly. Anne T joined us for the newly-refurbished Garden Museum Café, made of glass and set in their lush garden ~ so dramatic when we found ourselves in the midst of a thunderstorm and tropical downpour! Quite a display! Last month we were at Mamuska’s new venue near Westminster Bridge Road, next door to the Mandela Exhibition, if you’re interested. Silvi suggested the Vincent Rooms next and we’re waiting for confirmation before spreading the word.
Mike G invited me to join his family at home for a traditional Ethiopian Sunday lunch served on injera, a sponge-like pancake, piled with delicious spiced foods. Many of us have known Mike’s four charming children since they were very young but they are now starting at university; Axum to study neurological medicine; and Zewditu is studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics. A small group of us hopes we might one day go with Mike to visit Ethiopia when the situation there is less volatile. The recent peace treaty with Eritrea is encouraging.
Stefan was back in Kennington with his family a couple of times this year: firstly to celebrate his 70th birthday with friends at The White Bear; then to lead a history walk on what was the Common. It was such a walk years ago, led by Stefan, that sparked my interest in the park’s history and we subsequently both became founder members of the Friends, and each in our own way changed a bit of the history of that park ourselves!
Bola invited me to her royal daughter Kemi’s wedding at St George’s Cathedral. Yoruba wedding tradition sets out the colours chosen by the bride and groom for the day: Royal Blue and Silvery Grey, so my challenge was to find clothing in those colours. Apparently I didn’t quite get the right blue but Bola said it was fine. The groom, Damilola, seemed particularly nervous until he got the girl, and then everyone was able to enjoy the rest of the day! It was all so colourful and glamourous and such an honour to be invited.
Lucy and I met up in Kent a few times; a couple of visits to the Salt Cave in Tunbridge Wells at the end of last winter, and shopping in High Brooms. We had thought to visit the towns along the railway line, but that was put on hold when Lucy went back to work. Good news is that they are having another baby so we can expect to resume before too long.
My vacation this year was a Baltic cruise! We flew to Helsinki where I was able to join a walking tour around ‘Arabia’. It is the district where my Ruska dinner collection comes from. I’ve been collecting it for years; most of it given to me by Miranda after I bought a coffee pot at our first Car Boot Sale at St Mary Newington all those years ago! Arabia is an old part of Helsinki, where the neighbourhoods have biblical names. On our return I joined another tour that included a visit to the old factory, now a museum. Our ‘cruise boat’ was actually the old P&O ferry that used to shuttle back and forward to Bilbao. Some may remember that I’d been on that, a memorable trip for cigarettes when we got caught in a hurricane in the Bay of Biscay and were lucky to get into port before it was closed. Anyway, so I knew she was tough but no worries this time as the Baltic was like a mill pond.
Three coach trips this year with Lambeth Horticultural Society: Polesden Lacy in Surrey, Magdalen College gardens in Oxford with its deer park in the middle of town! and West Dean gardens near Chichester. I do the check-in at Kennington so you’ll find familiar faces if you’d like to join us.
A resolution this year was to get back to the cinema and theatre and I managed one of each, both true stories. Carol came with me to see Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman about an African-American detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 70s. Wow - Powerful stuff! Anne G invited me to ‘Pack of Lies’ about a north London suburban couple and their teenage daughter who discover in 1960 that their best friends and neighbours are actually Russian spies after their home had become a secret surveillance post for government officials out to trap them. Both stories resonate today. Anne and I bumped into Sylvia as we were coming home via the poppy display at the Imperial War Museum. Carol and I have kicked off this year with two more true stories at the Ritzy: ‘Can you ever forgive me?’ and, our favourite so far, ‘Green Book’. Fabulous!
A new initiative this year, suggested by Mary v, has been to visit The Cinema Museum. Several of us saw ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ last month, the first time for me. Wonderful! A couple of days later I was out walking with the River Thames Society and Muriel and I sounded them out about a visit there – most had never heard of it! So we’re booked in for October, with coffee at Jamyang beforehand. Somehow it all comes back to Kennington…
Several Companions are beavering away in the background on neighbourhood matters; like - What happened to the lights on the huge tree at the Cross? How come the shops on Vauxhall and Jonathan Streets are being spruced up? Why are the trees dying on K’Lane? How on earth do we get a wheelie bin?…
Last year we drew a close to the book sales in aid of the Friends of the Durning Library. So many Companions worked so hard and gave so generously, raising £1,114.81. Not bad, eh?
The bulbs are blooming and the blossom is out… Enjoy!