London life

(top) Borough Market at lunch time, (bottom left) fish market, (bottom right) raspberry brandy truffles

Work week 2

Week two at Time and Leisure was a busy one for me. I officially have three published preview articles on the website, as well as two event roundups. By this time next week, I’ll have another four! Crazy to think two weeks are already down; that means I only have six left. Where is the time going??!

Five of the six pieces on this week’s “What’s On” page are written by me! Check out two of them below: a preview on the 6-piece London group, All the Queen’s Ravens and the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Five of the six pieces on this week’s “What’s On” page are written by me! Check out two of them below: a preview on the 6-piece London group, All the Queen’s Ravens and the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

All the Queen’s Ravens preview

Coming up this March, Putney’s Half Moon pub will present All the Queen’s Ravens, an enigmatic six-person folk group from London.

The band is fronted by vocalists Laura Hillman and Charlotte Aggett, with drummer Rob Davies, guitarist Luke John Wills, bassist Clarky, and Camilla Johns on the mandolin.

After listening to some of their tracks on SoundCloud, I visited the ATQR website to determine just what genre their music fell into. Their ‘About’ page described the music as ‘a flamboyant bi-lingual mix of folk and americana alluding to blues, gospel and sultry flamenco, delivering a foot-stomping, dress-swirling bagful of attention-grabbing magic.’ What exactly does all of that mean?

‘It has been difficult for us to define our music so far as it appears to change in its dynamics all the time,’ said Charlotte, one of ATQR’s two female lead vocalists. Charlotte told me the group initially started off with strong folk, bluegrass and Hispanic influences, but they have also flirted some with country and blues. She added, ‘We have been described quite recently as “gypsy Fleetwood Mac,” which is of course a huge compliment, but continue to struggle with descriptions of our sound!’

A number of ATQR’s pieces involve a bilingual lyrical mix. This is thanks to lead vocalist, Laura, and her Spanish upbringing.  ‘Aura Negra’ is an example of the colourful mix, a tale of ‘forbidden fruits made cryptic’ as described by the group’s website.

I was also quite interested to know how the name All the Queens Ravens was chosen. According to the group, it comes from a legend dating back to the time of King Charles II. The story tells of the King insisting that all ravens were to be kept inside the Tower of London, with wings clipped, due to a superstitious belief that their escape would cause the Crown, and indeed the empire, to fall. Charlotte told me, ‘We wanted a name that felt connected with folklore. Besides, Charlie and Camilla both do great bird impressions.’

All the Queen’s Ravens by and large plays at popular venues and festivals throughout London, 100 Club and Borderline being two such gigs. This upcoming appearance will be their third at The Half Moon, Putney’s long-running host of live music. Charlotte described their excitement to return to the venue, saying the sound and atmosphere are great for performing.

The band is currently in the process of recording their newest album. ‘Titled Hearts for Judas’ is scheduled to release in July of this year. What else does the future have in store for ATQR? ‘We are constantly writing new material,’ said Charlotte, ‘and would all dearly love to devote more time to recording and performing our music.’

All the Queen’s Ravens, 14 March, The Half Moon in Putney, 8pm, £5 in advance, £6 at the door

For more information and to book, visit  and

Banff Mountain Film Festival preview

Outdoor enthusiasts worldwide have marvelled over its films since the late 1970s.

Action-packed and awe-inspiring, the Banff Mountain Film Festival is a must see for all lovers of nature and its playground. Climbers, kayakers, skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and slackliners alike; count them all in. You can even count me in; just two years ago I was one out of the 330,000 individuals lucky enough to see the tour each year.  

The highly acclaimed Banff Mountain Film Festival now brings to screen footage from the world’s most influential adventure filmmakers. Each November in Canada’s Banff, Alberta, twenty five of the best films are chosen out of hundreds to be included in the world tour. To date, the tour has visited more than thirty countries and all seven of the world’s continents.

This year’s tour, set to stop mid-March in Surrey’s Dorking Halls, includes an impressive roundup of films.  When I spoke with UK and Ireland Tour director, Nell Teasdale, she spoke highly of one film called ‘Crossing the Ice.’ The documentary, directed by Justin Jones, was awarded Grand Prize, People’s Choice Award and Best Exploration and Adventure Film at November’s  festival. It follows two Australian adventurers who take on an unassisted, epic trek across Antarctica to the South Pole and back. ‘It’s a funny film,’ said Teasdale, ‘but a horrible journey at the same time.’

Along with ‘Crossing the Ice,’ an additional seven films will be shown at the Dorking Halls presentation. The names of the films are as follows: ‘Reel Rock: Honnold 3.0,’ ‘Flow Hunters,’ ‘Lily Shreds Trailside,’ ‘Ernest,’ ‘Reel Rock: Wideboyz,’ ‘Strength in Numbers,’ and ‘Being There.’ They feature a range of films from mountain biking, freeskiing, mountaineering, canoeing and survival.

Dorking Halls General Manager, Keith Garrow, said he and the staff are absolutely thrilled to host the event. ‘The festival combines some of the world’s best film makers with the most amazing outdoor heroes to produce an evening of film unlike any other,’ he said.

Talks by mountaineers and adventurers have in the past been hosted by Dorking Halls, however this presentation is completely unique from the new release films normally shown at the venue. Garrow told me, ’This sort of event is great for us because it can bring in people who may not normally attend our other live shows or films.’

There is a film out there for every member of the audience; I’m proof of that statement. I’ve never considered myself a full-blown outdoor enthusiast, but that mattered very little when I attended my first Banff film festival back in Burlington, Vermont, where I attend university. Sitting in awe under the gigantic screen, I watched an unforgettable film called ‘Sketchy Andy,’ featuring the world’s best slackliner, Andy Lewis. Lewis was filmed slacklining at extreme heights, often times without any harness secured. Each step, hop and flip made by Lewis left me holding my breath in both utter fear and amazement. Like many of the others, the film left me with an adrenaline rush like no other; and to think, I was sitting with my feet firmly on the floor the entire time.

Be sure to get a taste of the great outdoors from the streets of Surrey this March 14. I assure you, you’ll leave wanting to add a little more adventure to your own life! Hundreds of seats have already sold, so book without delay!

Banff Mountain Film Festival, Dorking Halls, Thursday March 14, tickets £13 for adults, £11 for children and senior citizens, prizes drawn at the end of intervals.

For more information and to book, visit more about the films

(top) The Time and Leisure office located in Merton Abbey Mills, (bottom left) Cool bus I found in the parking lot outside of the office, (bottom right) Scenery on my lunch break Tuesday when we had BEAUTIFUL weather

Megan trying to break into the Kensington Palace gardens

Megan trying to break into the Kensington Palace gardens

I wasn’t alone in enjoying the sun today in Hyde Park

I wasn’t alone in enjoying the sun today in Hyde Park