I am often invited to press events featuring new food lines. The most recent was the M&S Delicious and Nutritious introduction.
Persian Duck with Basmati Rice, roasted butternut, spinach with pomegranate dressing. £4.49 (350g). One of a range of eleven to choose from, this is the one that hit my tastebuds. Stunning!
Then Mini Macaroons – six flavours: pistachio, lemon, raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and passion fruit. 12 in a packet £1.50 144g – really great flavours, very very moreish!
And this, the Summer Fruit Tart, that really ticked all the boxes. The most delicious tart I have ever come across. Crisp all butter pastry, filled with lemon and vanilla custard, topped with a summer fruit compote. A really piquant fruit mix, I detected cherry, raspberry … at £4.99, 530g. It deserves a drum roll! I will be looking for this every visit to my local M&S!
I was specially impressed with one of their ales, Citra IPA Ale. It was light, flavoursome and satisfyingly alcoholic without being heavy.
As you can imagine there was a lot more to try – you can see more on their website. Some are ideal as picnic food, or sitting out in the sun in the garden. Do give them a try … we can’t rate them highly enough!
Val Reynolds, Editor
Now that Spring is here … and with the hope that Summer will follow, time to cast off winter clobber and take advantage of the open air cultural events that are on offer this time of year.
There are a plethora of offerings around London for the next few months, and not just the usual favourites such as Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and The Globe. But that’s not to say that they should be ignored; the programme for the former has been out for a while now, and this year they are kicking off the season with an adaptation of the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. During the hot (maybe!) summer months they’re putting on The Sound Of Music, which I’m sure will pull in the crowds.
Shakespeare’s Globe is, as usual, concentrating on works by the bard and this year is offering The Tempest, Macbeth and that perennial favourite for outdoor performance, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There’s also a smattering of modern plays to increase variety at this most interesting of theatres where you can still stand as a groundling for very little cost and often be part of the action.
But don’t forget that London is now home to a number of summer festivals where sometimes the events are free and rarely cost a fortune.
There are four in particular really worth mentioning. First up is the London Festival of Architecture that happens in June – I’ve frequently gone along to their offerings which in the main are geared to non-professionals and which give eye-opening views on all aspects of architecture and related subjects. It really is very varied; last year I particularly enjoyed going to a number of the recently refurbished Cameron Mackintosh theatres in the West End one Saturday morning.
Then there are two music festivals I’d like to mention both of which also run non-music related events. The Spitalfields Festival centres on the market area and beyond and a number of the concerts are held in its beautiful churches.
And The City Of London Festival also avails itself of its churches and guildhalls within the square mile, not to mention venturing further afield to Canada Square in the centre of Docklands.
Finally, the area around City Hall is home to the More London festival, with the Scoop amphitheatre (right next to the London Assembly’s building) hosting all sorts of events, most of which are free.
If I’ve whetted your appetite, then the links below will give you a lot more information. Summers come and go, some shorter than others, some wetter than others, but come rain or shine you’re never short of a cultural treat in London!
Jeannette Nelson, Arts Correspondent
A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.