Local Area NewsAug 2014
Royal Childhood - Buckingham Palace
All lot of the toys that the royals have collected through the years could be from any number of upper class families. Hand-made rocking horses, toy cars and various fancy dress outfits all make an appearance and are all lovingly preserved. The things that mark out this collection are their origins and the personal touches that the future monarchs put on them. A rocking horse presented as a gift to Prince George from the Obamas is not going to be replicated anywhere else. Complete with presidential seal, it has been hand carved from a tree taken from the White House lawn.
A lot of our present Queen's toys have an equestrian theme which she, as a little girl, touchingly decorated with memorabilia from her favourite ponies. Old pictures show the close bond between her and her sister Margaret as they grew up inside a kind of closeted fairy tale where they shared almost everything. Pride of place, though, must go to two of the toys owned by her sons. Prince Charles had a miniature caravan that had actual running water and power while Prince Andrew's mini replica Aston Martin has all the cool James Bond refinements - apart from the ejector seat of course!
Notting Hill Carnival Street Food
Held over August bank holiday, this huge London street festival usually defines the end of summer but the culinary delights experienced often stay long in the memory. This is where most Londoners first sample jerk chicken, a spicy Caribbean dish that has recently become popular in the mainstream food scene. There will be stalls that sell this dish as well as roti, a Trinidadian flatbread and Ackee which looks like scrambled eggs but is actually a vegetable and is often combined with salt cod.
Carnival cuisine has long since branched out into other world foods. Check out jambalaya and gumbo from Louisiana, Thai red curry and akara from Nigeria. The music is still resolutely West Indian being mostly focused on Reggae and Calypso influences, but all that will probably change in time. Londoners tend to be a bit more adventurous with their stomachs than with their feet.
Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience - Madame Tussaud's
The old planetarium section of Madame Tussaud's has been converted into a Superhero Command Centre, giving visitors the opportunity to mingle with Iron Man and company. Captain America, Spiderman and the Hulk have all been lovingly recreated in a series of SHIELD themed scenarios where you can take pictures and hang out (quite literally in the case of Spiderman). Added to this are some interactive props that are fun to mess around with such as Wolverine claws, green Hulk bubbles and mutation mirrors.
The Command Centre is where the excitement really gets ramped up. The 4D experience means 3D with added sensory input and is where marvel predictably beat all comers. Visitors are given an "Iron Man's point of view" of London in peril and can take part in a heroic rescue. The effects are largely well judged - air jets at floor and head level from all directions, water sprays, and an unexpected claw-jab through the seat back from Wolverine all feature in addition to the traditional shaky floor. The effect timing is spot on and adds to the experience rather than drawing attention to itself.