Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I know where it's at... Bushstock Venue No. 1: St Stephens & St Thomas Church Hall

Source: www.ststephensw12.org
Yes, you have read correctly. One of the four Bushstock venues is a church hall. In fact, the newly built hall belonging to the church of St Stephens and St Thomas, on the corner of Coverdale Road and Uxbridge Road, will be the pseudo-HQ of Bushstock as it's where festival goers will need to exchange their ticket for wristbands. It is also where tickets (wristbands) can be bought on the day (this Saturday June 4th) for £30 if you are still um-ing and ah-ing about going.

A few months ago I happened to have a lovely chat with a member of St Stephens' who explained to me that the hall was built with the very intention of being for the local community. I was told that the hall was intended to be an inclusive, positive place in Shepherd's Bush for local residents to benefit from regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds. To demonstrate this the hall is now being used for a film club for local elderly residents (and soon the homeless as I blogged about earlier this year) and by  Ballet Black, a dance school which aims at providing "dancers and students of black and Asian descent with inspiring opportunities in classical ballet", amongst other similarly local pro-community causes.

Source: www.ststephensw12.org 
St Stephens is no stranger to being a music venue and indeed Communion Records have hosted a number of successful nights there featuring acts that will be returning to W12 on Saturday, including Daughter who will return to the church hall. Here's a video of Daughter filmed at St Stephens in March this year.

Among the other artists who will grace the acoustics of St Stephens are my three favourites:

Fink - Jose Gonzales-esque intense folk

Sarah Blasko - Aussie singer who is similar to but way, way, way, way better than Katie Melua.

Marques Toliver - (fast forward to 0:28 to ignore two silly people messing about behind a barrel of hay) who received an outstanding reception at Brighton's Great Escape (which I sadly missed as I was busy on a hen do playing get the chocolate willy into your mouth from your forehead, without using your hands). This is my kind of music; unique, soulful, eclectic, skillfully delivered by a hot man in a checked shirt messing about with a fiddle. Marques is DEFINITELY a Birdie top tip for Bushstock (I''ll be the one at the front of the audience reaching out trying to stroke his bow)

Help! I need somebody!

One of the best things about this here blog is being contacted from far and wide about the most peculiar things. Last week Clive of Faded London (whose blog I wrote about recently here) emailed me asking for me to help somebody who had contacted him regarding some buildings on Uxbridge Road (pictured below). To best explain I have extracted the key parts of John's email:

"I'm an Architectural Researcher and having great difficulty finding anyone with information regarding the attached photographs and hoped you or some of your readers may just be able to clear up the mystery.

I'm researching the history of a small English metal fabrication company that provided prefab all metal buildings to Australia in the 1950s. The company, E. C. Mussett & Co ( later Multipurpose buildings) are no longer in existence and information is almost non existent. I was however recently sent some old images of their buildings which included an atypical one that I cannot identify. The attached image may be a rare and early work by the firm when they simply dealt in metal framing only. Naturally the building may have no connection with their production of the 1930s-1950s but it's inclusion amongst the other verifiable buildings is a mystery that must be solved.

The title 'Mirror Studios' written on the corner of one of the images may be the company who produced the image but I believe it may actually refer to the buildings themselves.

The second image was unlabeled but appears to be the front side of the same garages. I would place them at some time during the late 1930s or 40s and I imagine that the only connection with the company would be that the framing is metal?
Thank you for your time,

John Matthews - Melbourne, Australia"

Needless to say it would be brilliant if someone out there knew something about these buildings as it's clearly something that matters to John all the way on the other side of the world. After blogging about Bush history and buildings past and present, I have faith in the Shepherd's Bush Time Team that someone may know something.

If you know anything about these buildings please do leave a comment or you can email me and I will put you in touch with John.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Take me back...

Spotted this photograph posted on Twitter the other day and rather than bore you (again) with one of my trips down another W12 memory lane (have you recovered from this one yet?) I thought I'd see if someone could tell me what this building is, where it was/is and what it was used for?

I am fast learning that many of you know lots and lots about the history of Shepherd's Bush and I love being informed, educated, and corrected (yes really!) so thank you for reading and extra special thank you to those who comment.

Am escaping the Bush for the bank holiday weekend with NewMan and I will be back Tuesday with a very special request for historical information so dust off your memories all you life long Bush dwellers...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Just a taste...

Two years ago I completed "Dressmaking for beginners", a course run by Hammersmith and Fulham Adult Learning and Skills Service (ALSS). The result of 10 consecutive weeks blistering my fingers with needles and pins was a black halter neck dress that neither fitted, nor looked good. That and a sense of satisfaction that I rarely achieve in my day job or occasionally personal life. I made a dress. A dress I can't wear, but a real dress out of flat pieces of fabric and cotton that I sewed into place. It still hangs hopefully in my wardrobe, waiting for the day my boobs double in size or another day when I decide to give it to someone who fills its requirements, literally. (See Exhibit 1 below)

Exhibit 1

However, the course taught me many valuable skills; how to thread a sewing machine, how to follow a dress pattern (to a point, and then I learnt how to ask my Mum for help), how to hem, dart and put in a zip. Small achievements for a slave to fashion who's always been "all the ideas, unable to use the gear". Since the course I have inherited a beautiful 1950s electric Singer sewing machine from my Grandma and have made another (ill-fitting dress). I have also rescued numerous skirts, dresses and tops from the charity shop pile by fixing broken zips or undone hemlines and I even made NewMan some cushions for his new sofa. More recently I made some big fat bunting for future sister-in-law's hen do using leftover fabric and lace ribbon.

This post was not meant to be a show and tell of Birdie's achievements and failures in fabric, it was actually to publicise the local council's Adult Learning Classes. They are there to be filled and benefited from, just like I did. (Mo also did the course with me and she is a whizz with a needle and thread). Depending on your circumstance the courses are free or at a subsidised, reasonable price. I attended my classes at the Adult Education Centre on Bryony Road (just off Bloemfontaine Road) but classes take place all over the borough.

Next week is half term (hear teachers emit a communal sigh of relief) and during the week Hammersmith & Fulham ALSS are offering free taster classes for both adults and children. They will include the following tasters of new classes:
  • Learn to prepare delicious food
  • Improve your computer and social networking skills
  • Discover how easily you can learn a new language
  • Get fit with Tai Chi or learn Salsa and Zumba
  • Face painting and puppet making for parents and children
The classes are on Tuesday 31 May at the new Adult Community Learning Centre on Australia Road, White City
and Wednesday 1 June at the Macbeth Centre (just off king Street in Hammersmith)

More information is on the flyer below or you can visit their website or call our telephone enrolment line: 0845 839 7912 to ask any questions (they're very helpful!).

Happy Learning Shepherd's Bush!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Take me to the clouds above...

The timing of my trip to Brighton for a hen do was deliberately planned to coincide with The Great Escape, Brighton's annual musical festival which proudly claims to be "Europe's Leading Festival for New Music" and who am I to disagree? I was introduced to many new bands I enjoyed and have since listened to again. My personal highlights were Warpaint (ok, so they were new to me), Matthew and the Atlas, Ben Howard and Cloud Control.

So how chuffed was I when I found out that Cloud Control were included in the set list for Bushstock. To be precise they will be playing from 8:30 in Ginglik. Hailing from the Blue Mountains, near(ish) Sydney, Australia they are a youthful band of three blokes and one bird. It is hard to pin point their music exactly because as with their performance, each song you listen too sounds a bit different from the last. Some are slow, some are fast, some are folky and light, some have real weight and rocky layers to them. However all their songs were in varying ways worth listening to.

Presentation wise they keep it simple; the fellas were dressed in jeans and"normal" T-shirts (and were free of a haircut that was mastered in Shoreditch) whilst the girl looked effortlessly stunning in a vintage-esque shirt top and tight jeans. Far too many bands detract (intentionally or unintentionally) from their music and live performances by what they wear these days. That said, Cloud Control tick the most important "how to make it as a band" box by having a lead singer who's very easy on the eye in a quirky extra on Home and Away kind of way.

With reference to fellow countrymen there is something a bit Temper Trap-like about them with strong, memorable rift like vocals, but their music isn't as subtle or flowingly crafted. The influence on their music is different too; a bit "native", and like Vampire Weekend they build on this with male-female harmonies that are reminiscent of, dare I say it, Magic Numbers. But they maintain a raw edge which is very effective when they perform live. Bizarrely as I post this, they are warming up for a gig over the road at Bush Hall tonight.

These songs are my favourites and also, I hope, give you a good overview of how different each song is; something for everyone? Maybe, maybe not. I'll certainly be in Ginglik for their performance at Bushstock. See you there?

Deserves an encore...

This week shall hereby be renamed Thespian Week as after the exciting news about free plays for local Bush souls at the newly relocated Bush Theatre, they also got in touch to tell me about another local initiative which aims at finding local playwright talent.

ANGLE Theatre Company, which has long been unearthing undiscovered talent from all background and ages, has teamed up with Bush Theatre and are launching their "call for plays" at a roadshow in Westfield this Saturday 28th May 2011.

Here comes the press release:

ANGLE and the Bush Theatre announce an exciting new collaboration to transfer the successful “call for plays” campaign, which in 2008 brought un-produced writers from London’s East End to the stage, to West London with an exciting new project; ANGLE at the Bush led by patron Roy Williams.

The original project reached over 50 community organistations in 2007 - a total of 100 submissions were received, 50 of which were from first time writers, and 40 scripts written by people from a BAME background. Three plays were selected to be in ANGLE’s inaugural season of plays: TriANGLE09 at Hackney Empire Studio. Two of the writers, sociologist Shamser Sinha and Mina Maisuria, were offered commissions and attachments respectively at The Royal Court and the Bush Theatre. In November 2008 ANGLE Theatre won a Peter Brook Award in support of its first season.

Initiated by Charlotte Gwinner, founder of ANGLE Theatre and a Creative Associate at the Bush Theatre , and produced by Gabby Vautier ANGLE at the Bush will take place from March to November 2011. It will be targeting local writers who exist outside of the regular new theatre writing channels across the surrounding boroughs: Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Harrow and Hillingdon.

The Bush Theatre’s artistic director Josie Rourke said: ‘Everyone at the Bush Theatre is thrilled to be working with ANGLE on this important and deep-reaching project. ANGLE is second to none at reaching out to the quieter and underrepresented voices in London. The Bush is delighted to bring them West this year.’

Reading between the lines (ooh get my little thespian joke!?) it is very clear that this is a scheme which aims to attract the rawest of talent, from those who may never have stepped foot in a theatre but have a ticking bomb of ideas inside them. If you know anyone who may be interested I suggest you advise them to head down to Westfield on Saturday swapping their credit card for a notebook of ideas.

For more information you can contact angle@bushtheatre.co.uk or visit bushtheatre.co.uk or angletheatre.co.uk.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How about a round of applause?

As you may have known they have recently relocated to the old Shepherd's Bush library building on Uxbridge Road. To celebrate this (and possibly to get the Bush a little more cultured) they are inviting locals to come see a show for free (does this warrant Caps Lock, ok it does), that is FREE on either June 11th or June 14th 2011.

Below is a message from the Bush Theatre to their neighbours and more information about the show and how you can get your free tickets.

Be there at the beginning of the transformation from Victorian library to 21st Century theatre…

Dear Neighbour,

The Bush Theatre is pleased to invite you to a FREE performance of WHERE’S MY SEAT for people who live or work locally on Saturday 11th June and Tuesday 14th June at 7.30pm.   

Please see the attached invitation with full details and feel free to pass it along to friends and colleagues in the neighbourhood.

In this inspiring production, you’ll see three short plays by three brilliant Bush playwrights performed in three different layouts in our new home on the Uxbridge Road. Each play is inspired by nine curious objects from the National Theatre and six challenging stage directions created by Alan Ayckbourn, Michael Grandage and Bush Artistic Director Josie Rourke. As the stage transforms and the seats move around, we’ll ask you to feedback your views from the stalls – and to put to the test other areas of the building from backstage to the bar.

To reserve your tickets, please call the Box Office on 020 8743 5050 or email boxoffice@bushtheatre.co.uk.  The Box Office is open form Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.Please note, tickets are free but are subject to availability so book early.

Our new home is the old Shepherds Bush Library,7 Uxbridge Road.
With best wishes,
All at the Bush

And here is more information about what you could go and see (check out the all star cast!)

The Bush Theatre presents

The Old Shepherds Bush Library
15 June – 2 July

“One new theatre, three experts, three playwrights and you”

As part of the Bush Theatre’s 32 Degrees West Season – the angle from the front door of the company’s current home of 39 years, to the new home at the old Library in Shepherd’s Bush where they will relocate this autumn – the company stage Where’s My Seat. Ahead of the building’s inaugural season later this year, the company throw open the doors of the new venue and invite the public to play a part in the transformation of the space, from library to theatre.

Tamara Harvey directs Francesca AnnisDebbie ChazenRichard CorderyHugo SpeerHugh Skinner and Nina Sosanya across three plays penned using stage directions by Alan AyckbournMichael Grandage and the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke. The playwrights, Deirdre KinahanJack Thorneand Tom Wells have taken the stage directions of the theatre practitioners - which were inspired by nine props chosen by the National Theatre – and written a play especially for the event, each to be staged in a different layout.

Over the course of the evening, the audience will see the three short plays. During the first interval, as the stage is reconfigured, the audience will be invited to examine the front of house area and bar in more detail and feed back their thoughts; and during the second the company will open up the backstage areas, rehearsal room, garden and invite the audience to test these areas, and comment on the use of space within the new building. The feedback gathered will be collated and utilised for the first stage of the conversion into a working theatre this autumn

 props donated by the National Theatre are two stuffed hares, a 30cm strawberry, a mask, a coal scuttle, basketball, dog with moving head, glass cabinet, a necklace made of human fingers and a blue wooden aeroplane.

If you are not a slap-bang-in-the middle of the Bush resident then fear not! Bush Theatre considers anyone who lives within a 2 mile radius of the Bush as a neighbour so you could claim these tickets even if you live in the far off wilderness of W4, W11 or even an SW postcode! 

I will certainly be claiming my free tickets as I can't wait to have a nosey around this new site, which come October will have a bar, cafe and area open all day to the public for people to meet and discuss the arty farty things... or not. 

Thank you Bush Theatre!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Way up high,
There's a Bush that I heard of,
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Come true in Shez Bu...

Saw not one but two rainbows, side by side, stretching out over Uxbridge Road this evening. It captured my eye and just for a second my imagination: what would you hope for at a rainbow's end in Shepherd's Bush?

Got the time...

Here you go Bushstock go-ers, all the times for the bands you do or maybe don't want to see. You can now start to plan your outfit changes, toilet breaks or when best to hit up Bagel Bite for a mid-gig snack... Oh I do love an organised music festival.

If  I print a few of these out does anyone know where I can get them laminated?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Fresh as a summer breeze

I know many of my readers are big fans of not just Shepherd's Bush but the general sprawl that is London so I wanted to draw your attention to the blog Fresh Eyes on London. In the same vein as London Daily Photo and Tired of London, Tired of Life this blog dishes up a daily photo of our unique city with a neat little anecdote or in the case of Tired of London, Tired of Life, inspiration of what to do. There are hundreds, if not thousands of things in London I am yet to do or see and it's almost humbling to be reminded of this in my Google Reader and to consider one or two of them.

Source: Fresh Eyes on London
Though I don't think Mo (not my flatmate!) who pens Fresh Eyes on London has featured the Bush (yet!), her most recent post struck a chord with me. She points out that although we're a city of over 7 million busy people, London itself is essentially a jigsaw puzzle of villages and town like communities. I certainly think this is made true by Shepherd's Bush where I have discovered a strong sense of community and a fighting spirit to preserve this. This is made clear by places like the Masbro Centre and by campaigns like the recent battle to save our village hall.

For any Monopoly enthusiasts out there, Fresh Eyes also did a recent series of posts focused on London Monopoly locations which I found fascinating. Bizarrely I grew up playing the Paris version of Monopoly and so whenever I played on a London board I was enchanted by these names of places I actually knew or at least recognised. I have since seen a Monopoly for most cities I've visited and I certainly think a Monopoly for Shepherd's Bush is possible... so tell me which roads would be our Old Kent Road or our Mayfair?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Daddy Cool

The Masbro Centre has just announced that they are having a special day of activities and fun for Dad's/Male Carers to share with their little ones. It will take place next Saturday morning (28th May) from 10.30 until 12.30.

When I was at the Centre last month I was told that events focused on encouraging dedicated father-children fun and interaction were some of their most successful and so it's great to see this day being held to launch a "Dad's Play" activity book. Please spread the word to any fathers or male guardians or carers out there you may know.

Following my visit to the Masbro Centre I couldn't be more convinced of their commitment and passion for the local community. The importance of this can't be emphasised enough when you recall the recent violent crimes that have shocked us all. We really don't know how lucky we are to have these types of projects and initiatives in our area and for free! For more information about the Masbro Centre head to www.upg.org.uk.

Now, I wonder, aged 29, if I bring my Dad along can I meet and play with the firemen?

This is it...

This is it pop pickers, the final Bushstock Festivale flyer telling us who is playing and where on Saturday 4th June 2011.

I saw a few of these bands at the Great Escape festival in Brighton last weekend (I know, how cultured of us to have a hen weekend arranged specifically for a music festival, though believe me this is where the culture stopped and the squealing started). These are strong line-ups for each venue but at this stage I think I'll be roaming in between Ginglik and St Stephens Church, for reasons I will explain next week when I review the venues and some of the bands/acts/crooners. Tickets are still available at www.bushstock.co.uk

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Come on baby light my fire

Source: Brill Blogger Diamond Geezer's Flickr
In the past few days it has been announced where and when the Olympic torch will tour our fair isle in the run up to next year's Olympic games. It would pass through all London boroughs with five overnight stops in five boroughs. Unfortunately the torch will not be spending the night in the Bush, throwing shapes and pints around in the Walkabout before crashing in the K West. However, it will be spending the night up the road in Ealing.

This and the recent ticket allocations got me thinking and researching the 1908 Olympics in White City (or White Stadt if you're Google). I can't help but see strong similarities with the development of this area of Shepherd's Bush and the current regeneration and building work in East London. We may not have got a new postcode out of it, but we sure did get some lovely history and legacy.

Source: BBC

I was unaware that the 1908 games were never supposed to take place in London. They were scheduled for Rome, but after Vesuvius erupted all of Italy's money was channelled into rebuilding Naples which was devastated by the volcano. Built remarkably quickly these postcards shows a surprisingly beautiful complex, true to the name it earned this area.

Source: BBC
The stadium cost £68,000 to build; not sure Westfield could do much with that! Once built 22 participating nations descended on London to take part in 24 sporting disciplines. The games actually incorporated both summer and (some) winter events, meaning that the total length of the Olympics that year were five months. More remarkably perhaps, the overall winners were Great Britain with 146 medals.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Source: Independent

Source: BBC
Source: Telegraph
I loved reading that the history of the 1908 Olympics wasn't without its controversy what with the USA's threats to not flag-dip (look it up!) and the unfortunate Italian marathon winner who after collapsing twice and running in the wrong direction in the final yards of his White City stadium finish (which started at Windsor Castle!) thus being assisted across the finish line was subsequently disqualified, losing the gold medal a day later. White City was also where the first medal was awarded to an African-American athlete when John Taylor received a gold medal as part of the 400m relay team.

As I wonder aimlessly down nostalgia alley I can't help but feel sad that there is so little, if any, of the original Olympic complex still standing as much of it was knocked down to make way for the BBC Media Centre. It's somewhat extra painful now that the BBC has decided to up sticks and move t'up north to Salford, thus depriving Shepherd's Bush of more important historical association.

However, White City still holds a very special place in local and Olympic history. I was most struck when I learnt that it was at the games of 1908 in Shepherd's Bush that the following was included in the Olympic creed; "the most important about the Olympic games is not to win but to take part." And ain't that the truth...

With nothing but your T-shirt on

Only three weeks to go until Bushstock descends and Bushstock baby-makers Communion Records are getting themselves ready, at least they've made some T-shirts for the occasion.

I am completely smitten, not least because they've put a picture of a bird on them. This of course has nothing to do with me but ah well, a girl can make stuff up. These T-shirts will be available on the day of the festival (Saturday 4th June 2011) and potentially afterwards online once we've all sobered up (if there are any left). Communion are also giving away two T-shirts in a Facebook competition. Click here for more info.

I have lots of Bushstock related posts to follow soon, including a review of one of the bands and me getting turned away from one of the venues - not the best start.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Feed me, feed me now...

Returning home to the Bush on Sunday (after my hen weekend trip in Brighton) and dragging my suitcase, aching liver and battered dignity behind me, a sudden cannibalistic hunger clawed away at my insides. I also predicted that a very expectant but empty fridge would need replenishing and it was beyond all doubt that I needed some all-important vitamins, preferably washed down with a litre of saline solution. However, I had very, very few pennies to spend on all the above. What to do?

If I lived in Notting Hill, off the Kings Road or maybe in Primrose Hill, this conundrum of needs would be a true challenge. In Shepherd's Bush this is no feat at all, even with a hangover and splitting headache.

Thanks to Damas Gate (my favourite place on Uxbridge Road) I was able to stock up with essential groceries (you know, semi-skimmed milk, Special K and a family size bag of bombay mix) as well as picking up a small bucket of olives and a delicious to-be-self-assembled-falafel wrap lunch, which has provided enough leftovers for yesterday and today. All for well under £8.00.

I'm not sure how well it would sell the Bush to potential visiting tourists, but Shepherd's Bush really is the best place to live when you are hungover, hungry and broke.

Girls just wanna have fun...

I have just survived my first ever hen do. I joined my brother's future wife and a giggling gaggle of her friends in Brighton where we partied hard for three nights. Really hard. As well as encouraging my current fascination with weddings, it was another warm reminder how wonderful women are and how much fun we are when we get together and celebrate being women. Maybe I'm wrong but this is ultimately what I think most hen dos should be about. That and being daft about anything dick-shaped, of course.

This completely contradicts most of my pre-conceived ideas of hen dos ("Why do we have to get silly and giddy about plastic or edible cocks? So immature."). Yet this weekend I couldn't help but love the squeals of laughter when we were all given willy rings, and I was bursting with pride as our Bride completed her challenge of collecting mens' items of clothing off mens' backs. I also relished the opportunity to don a blonde afro wig and sing Whitney Houston in our private karaoke booth.

I hope my pre-hen planning and post-hen recovery explains my brief blogging hiatus. I've really missed typing away about the Bush (and the Bird!). It's been a funny few weeks for us in W12 with a fatal shooting down the road and a violent daylight stabbing incident yesterday in Hammersmith. This has all been excellently reported by Chris Underwood's Shepherd's Bush Blog.

I have put up more pictures from my time in Brighton on my new blogging adventure "As the Bird flies..." please have a poke around.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Too many fish in the sea...

Emerging from Shepherd's Bush tube after work I often find myself wondering who or what will await me on the pavement outside the station. Certainly since it's regeneration it has become a playing field for political, commercial or religious leaflet distributors. The majority of the time I like this. In the run up to an election I like being reminded that political spirit is alive and well. The religious rapping and the paintball salesmen leave me less enthused but it is nevertheless nice to see some activity and it adds to the whole randomness of Shepherd's Bush. Particularly when it is set to the musical soundtrack Shepherd's Bush renowned saxophone player (seen here). The only people I was very uncomfortable, and a little angry, about seeing were the Sciencetologists who were once a regular feature outside the station.

About a week ago, however, I was more tired than usual following a hectic Easter weekend and in shock from the lack of chaos or elbows-in-gut on the tube and before I knew it a collection of leaflets was thrust in my open palm. They were for a variety of special offers at Tan and Beauty, a hairdressers/beauty salon on Uxbridge Road facing the Green. Aside for a pedicure, manicure and sunbed there was a leaflet for a fish pedicure. Not something I thought I'd see in Shepherd's Bush.

A fish pedicure, also known as a fish spa, is a recent trend where, basically little hungry fish eat the dead skin off your feet. I remember about a year ago my friend Elsie told me how she had been given a voucher for a fish spa in Knightsbridge, the first in London, for her birthday. She went along with some curiosity and trepidation and reported back saying she nearly wee-ed herself with laughter and her feet were indeed left softer... "a bit".

It was for this reason that I agreed to go to a fish spa in Kuala Lumpur when NewMan and I were there staying with my best friend CeCe last October. A summer of flip flop wearing had left my heels dry and hard. I wanted feet as soft as cotton wool, or failing that at least feet that when they rubbed together didn't create a spark.

Apparently the concept of fish spas using these skin munching species of fish began in 2006 in Japan and the trend has spread across the globe. They are well established in Malaysia where we saw numerous places to have the "treatment" and indeed when we went other clientele were sat knee deep in the fish tanks reading newspapers or on their iPhones. Since it's popularity has grown so has the criticism with reports claiming that it is actually a very unhygienic treatment and that tanks aren't kept clean or that the benefits for skin ailments like eczema or psoriasis are mythical. I don't know what the case may be, but I gave it a go and I still have all ten of my toes.

It is testament to the bizarre way trends grow that a concept I considered to be very rare or foreign less than a year ago has now landed in a hair salon in Uxbridge Road. When I gripped CeCe's hand tight and plunged my tootsies into the fish tanks in Malaysia last October I never thought that within the year there would be a fish spa within 500m from my house. Will I head there and take advantage of their special offer of 30 minutes for £20 instead of £30? Probably not considering it was £6.00 for 30 minutes in Kuala Lumpur, and if I'm honest I didn't really see any benefit (and before you think it the dry skin on my hoofs feet isn't that bad!). I did, however, abandon my dignity in front of the Malaysian regulars and I laughed and squealed until I cried; it's amazing how ticklish it can be to have fish nibbling away at your feet. And were my tootsies candy floss soft? Heck no. Of course not. But thankfully I have since found and invested in Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream; far more effective if a lot less fun.

Here are my pictures from my fish spa in Malaysia with a little video of said squealing (which is CeCe, I'm the one with all the plasters thanks to my popularity with Malaysian mosquitos):

I wonder what other bizarre trends will arrive in the Bush next?

Saturday, 7 May 2011

We are the Champions

What a month for QPR, heck, what a year!

Today the FA have FINALLY (and the Caps are warranted) announced that they will not be deducting points for the charges made against the club in relation to the signing of Alejandro Faurlin.

This is the FA's statement as reported on the BBC website"Although two of the charges have been found to be proved there will be no points deduction made from Queens Park Rangers FC in this season or the next."

It follows that QPR have won the Championship and with it promotion to the Premier League. It isn't hard to anticipate how elated fans will be when the Championship trophy is presented to Warnock and his men at Loftus Road after the final whistle is blown after they meet Leeds this afternoon. For all involved I hope the game is a win for the Rangers, but I doubt anything will dampen the spirits of QPR fans today, nor the noise and celebration levels in and around Shepherd's Bush tonight and possibly for many more days to come.

Today was supposed to be Bushstock. I am glad they moved the date because I think QPR deserve this day and this moment. Even if you don't like football and have very little idea what I am writing about you soon will because having Shepherd's Bush as the home of a Premier League football team again will soon change our Saturday afternoon traffic of visitors; FYI those Man United and Arsenal fans from Surrey won't just be heading here for Westfield shopping.

Can I buy my tickets for next season's home game against Everton yet?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Stuck on you...

You may already have seen this in other blogs or on twitter, but I thought it worth sharing with my readers as like me I know they will never tire of the amusement one can have with the name of our fair manor.

Stickers on the Central Line have turned Shepherd's Bush into Shepherd's Pie.

Source: Stickers on the Central Line

When I investigated further, I also found they'd previously re-named the Shepherd's Bush stop:

Source: Stickers on the Central Line

This is a charming, fun idea and their Tumblr is well worth a visit to see other stickers they have stuck on the Central Line, which I do still think is the best London Underground Line and we're very lucky to have it coming in and out of our Bush (ahem). I don't think it will take long for Stickers to appear on the other underground lines.

Here are some of my favourites:

All photos from Stickers on the Central Line.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

You say yes, I say no...

Or maybe it's the other way round?

Despite wanting to a little bit on this occasion, I am not going to get political, but I am going to encourage my readers to get off their beautiful bottoms and vote today in the referendum on the alternative vote. Aside from the predictable yet unwaveringly correct argument about those (men and women) who died for our right to vote, it quite frankly gets my (voting) goat when people don't vote then moan about the state of the government, the council etc. No matter which vote counting system is in place after today's referendum, there still need to be votes to count...

As an extra incentive for voting in Shepherd's Bush I can guarantee you it will be an opportunity to see a real mix of people. I have visited two polling stations during my time living in W12 and both occasions have afforded me opportunity to see not only true Shepherd's Bush characters placing their votes; the fierce old lady declining help getting up the steps into the polling station from a moderator was my favourite, the half-drunk young woman shouting "F*ck the Tories!" last year may have been equally as entertaining if a little more concerning. You will also be assured of classic Labour and Tory or on this occasion I suppose Yes to AV or No to AV campaigner stereotypes on your way in and out. (The Tory supporters always looking slightly more out of their comfort zones, it has to be said.)

Polling stations in Shepherd's Bush and across the country are open until 10pm tonight. If you're a Bush resident you can find your nearest polling station here (though it should be clearly displayed on your poll card). Happy voting!