Saturday, 22 October 2011

Enjoy yourself!

This is a special little post to announce the line up for next weekend's Oxjam Shepherd's Bush Takeover and to launch what I'm going to call a quick and slick competition for a lucky reader to win two wristbands to Oxjam on Saturday (29th October).

It's not long now before a band of musicians, comedians, DJs and the ever energetic Oxjam team takeover Shepherd's Bush. Literally.

See the below flyer for more information and to find out where and when everything is happening and if you want to get tickets you can order online (and find more information) at

You can find more information about some of the acts in this previous blog post.

Most importantly all the proceeds of this event, which is one of many Oxjam Takeover days and events going on across the country this weekend and next weekend will go towards Oxfam's work.

And so to the competition to win two tickets. These will get you free wristbands for the day which means free entry to all the venues all day and all night long so all you have to do is make sure your boots were made for walking. To enter, leave me a comment below with your name (and ensure you leave your email address in the correct field so I can contact you) and I will pick a winner at random early doors on Thursday 27th October. Simples!

Good luck!!

Who's that girl?

Well this is me. I have only a couple of blog posts left to post on Bird in the Bush and I thought one of them should be some sort of big reveal about who I am, or rather what I look like. Here I am featured on the Someone Once Told Me website today and it features a big fat picture of me, and I'm not hiding behind a tree or a bike or positioning myself slightly off the camera lens. This is what I look like. On a average day. In black and white.

Someone Once Told Me describes itself as a "photography website" but I don't think that gives it enough credit. It's actually more of a fascinating social experiment led by Mario (a one time Shepherd's Bush resident). Everyday the site features a photograph of somebody from any given corner of the world with some words that somebody once told them and they explain the story why this means something to them. Some are funny, some are sad, some are thought provoking and some are just downright bizarre. I had my photo taken on Shepherd's Bush Green, much to the amusement of the regulars, and you can read and even listen (cringe!) to me explain what somebody once told me and why it was so important to me here.

SOTM also recently launched an iPhone app allowing you to keep up to date with the daily SOTM stories as well as submit your own and all proceeds from the purchase of the app go to support the charity Operation Smile. Before I left the Bush I was lucky enough to grab some Thai food at Jasmine with Mario and he is incredibly passionate about this app, its support of Smile and the SOTM project so if you like what you see please do consider downloading the app. (I can promise you that there will be no more photos of me and my chubby cheeks or soundbites of my deep voice again so you needn't worry about that.)

Friday, 7 October 2011

This will be someone else's dream...

I just had a yummy lunch with my good friend Bella. It was one of many one-on-one lunches I am eating my way through as our leaving date approaches with increasing speed.

We spent more money than was healthy on more food than was healthy in Polpo on Beak Street and we put the world to rights, to wrongs and the rights again. During the conversation Bella mentioned that she'd been to an art gallery opening the night before (not a usual Bella and Bird conversation topic I must quickly add). At this gallery she had met two young Irish girls who'd not long been living in London and thus they immediately reminded her of us when we first graduated from Uni and had a new, exciting toy to play with, i.e. London.

The reason Bella was telling me this story was because Bella had asked these two young women where they'd moved to. They'd answered "Shepherd's Bush". When Bella, who isn't unfamiliar with the delights of the Bush at all, asked whereabouts, they replied. "Oh there's this beautiful art deco building on Shepherd's Bush Road, do you know it?" Bella knew it very well.

Though I still don't know for 100% certain that they now inhabit my old flat, all it took was for Bella to say "they said they have amazing views"for me to feel a sense of satisfaction that they probably are living there. Yes it makes me realise how much I'll miss that flat, but it's a timely reminder that life moves on and people do too and in many ways they must. Though it wouldn't be a life wasted, if we all stayed in the same place we would miss out on a lot.

If I could have picked the next residents for that flat I loved so much it would have been precisely the people Bella described to me; lovely young girls with energy and hunger for life in London. Plus they claim to love the "buzz" of Shepherd's Bush. Ah ladies, you have no idea...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Dancing in September

Actually there wasn't much dancing in September, there was a lot of packing, moving and saying goodbye as I finally left Shepherd's Bush. If you get a big Schadenfreude kick from my sorrow then you can read a number of those posts, and for others of you there was still lots going on in the Bush which I tried my best to cover.

So the sad posts... Mo and I shared sushi, mojitos and an ill-advised "emptying the drinks cupboard" experience on our last night in Shepherd's Bush. (The delicious sushi you see is from Sagano.)

And I said a fond farewell to the flat that has been my home for the last two years by giving you a bit of history and information about the iconic building. Though I've been back to the Bush a few times since leaving I try to avoid walking past my building as much as possible. The thought of seeing someone else perched on my balcony... sigh.

Moving on (literally!), the blog featured some lovely guest posts from Trish who reviewed a gig at Bush Hall, and from "Wildman of the Bush" who wrote one of my favourite ever Bird in the Bush posts about the "Bush Sax Man".

Still on the subject of music, I finally did a post about a great Bush family project Music House for Children and the date was announced for Bushstock 2012.

In other news Open Doors came and went inspiring creativity in even the most artistically challenged of people, i.e. me. It was a great project and a lovely day for us Bush enthusiasts so if you haven't explored the work that was on show, you really should see some of the photos that were taken here, here and here. I am still hankering after the W12 wallpaper...

Back to music (maybe there was more dancing than I remember) and I shared with you some information about Oxjam Acton, a smaller scale Oxjam event just down the road but run by a Bush resident with real character and fascinating musical background. Read more here.

Other music events to consider in October are of course Oxjam Shepherd's Bush Takeover, the fundraising warm up to which features a gimmick-gong-free singles night, and of course the #bushw12 #dnbnight on Saturday October 15th at Raving Buddha, organised by some of the finest Bush Twitterati.

Speaking of which, this month I wrote about how important and significant twitter and the #bushw12 twitter family has been to me and my blog. If you don't "get" Twitter, I hope maybe this post will go some way to changing your mind. I have decided to stay on Twitter as Bushbirdie, though I know this may disagree with some of you Bush-purists, but quite frankly I don't want to lose the friends/followers I have on there, though of course I won't be offended if you decide to unfollow me on my travels. Speaking of which, I also introduced my new blog As the Bird flies... If you haven't already had a nosey around it or subscribed to posts by email please do.

Though it was initially strange, I have enjoyed returning to the Bush as a "tourist", on one trip I even got ice cream, and I was honoured to spend an joining in (i.e. gatecrashing) the Bush Theatre celebrating their new home, new future and future production Sixty Six Books.

A personal highlight of this month was when NewMan and I played around making temporary tattoo transfers (simple things...) and he made me this Shepherd's Bush tattoo. In other personal news I have reduced the price of everything on my Etsy store, and will give you a further 10% discount with the code FUNTIMER, if you like what you see.

There was more, there always is. Until now. I am now faced with only two weeks left in the country, the longest to do list I've ever written and a city full of friends and family to see and say goodbye to. For that reason I will only be posting a handful more posts on Bird in the Bush, at most.

One of my last posts will be Bird's guide to living in the Bush so please do feel free to pitch in ideas, must-dos, must-avoids, must-ignores. As always it will be light-hearted yet heartfelt and, I hope, a fitting end to my time as Bird in the Bush.

Thank you for reading, always x

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Open the door...

It should be an unnerving sight in Shepherd's Bush; the front door to a terraced house left wide open and strangers walk in and out having gained something. Or rather it's not usually a positive thing, yet last Saturday it was a very positive thing for Shepherd's Bush and for art as local people were invited to enjoy art inspired by their local area in a local home.

Friends Tom and Katy began the OpenDoors London project after long recognising how hard it was to open doors as artists to gain exposure or to simply get their pieces hung on the walls of a gallery, or better, on the wall of somebody's home. Their approach to doing something about this was to open their own doors, and those of their friends and fellow artists, and host a number of one off pop-up galleries all over London. A nice added touch (or paintbrush, I should say) is that OpenDoors uses the local area of the pop up galleries as inspiration for the artists work and it is important to them that this process is very inclusive of local people, their thoughts and opinions.

As it is Tom's Galloway Road home which opened its doors first, the first Open Doors was inspired by W12 and over the last few months Tom and Katy encouraged local people to answer questions about the Bush, to share their photos of the local area and to enjoy the digital scrapbook collecting information, images and statistics all aimed at inspiring the up and coming artists who showcased their work last weekend.

Very popular with local Bush dwellers, W12 wallpaper.
Many pieces were obviously inspired by one particular element of the Bush, for example Louise Burrows' collages which featured iconic images from BBC in two pieces inspired by the history of Lime Grove studios and television production in the area. (You can read more about this in my post on the subject matter).

Other pieces were classic Bush, like the tableau of faces seen through the eyes of one artist on her visit to the area. The painting of a homeless man asleep on the Green was a more haunting reminder of the other side of Bush life.

Other work was more creative, like the wool spider's web photographed in recognisable locations around Shepherd's Bush by Emily Spence (which I sadly didn't get a photo of as it was too busy with people discussing the work and I was too shy to stick my lens in their faces but you can see Emily's own photos of her work and other pieces here). To see all the artists work and to find out more about them go to the Open Doors website but here are the other pieces that caught my eye (and I could photograph easily without elbowing people out of the way.

There was a huge chalkboard where visitors were encouraged to draw or leave a message. I was very impressed to spot Stickers on the Central Line left a message and can anyone spot "Wildman of the Bush" of this brilliant guest post fame?

Of all the "arts", I have always struggled to connect with "art" itself. Music, theatre and literature all sink into me effortlessly but aside from some very accessible pop art and photography (you can read more about my new journey with photography on my other blog), I don't find myself instantly warming to galleries or art sales. I am not proud of this and at times have been quite embarrassed by it. Yet I think Open Doors has possibly lit a spark or maybe ignited a small flame in me as I genuinely enjoyed the whole process which Open Doors were successful in inviting me to join in. I loved their digital scrapbook, the questions they asked and the inspiration they gathered. I finally then really enjoyed and appreciated, which is always key with art I think, the pieces on display last Saturday. So, thank you Tom, Katy and all the Open Doors artists for opening up something artistic in me and giving me a special, new experience, which was all the more enjoyable because it was so very Shepherd's Bush.

Open Doors moves on to Clapham and SW4 next, but please do continue to support them as I know their first successful Open Doors day in W12 was extremely important to them and they now have Shepherd's Bush memories to treasure. Well, don't we all?