Friday, 15 July 2011

Havana to Kew

It’s that time of year again when the summer is nigh and we have some fabulous concerts in this lovely city.  One of my favorite places to go to for an outdoor concert is at Kew Gardens.  
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to simply as Kew Gardens and often shortened to ‘Kew’ are 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses located between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England.  
It has the largest herbarium in the world (collection of preserved plant specimens in plain English), important seedbank, one of the world’s largest botanical collections, forensic horticulture, world’s largest surviving victorian glass structure and has one of the largest compost heaps in Europe, made from green waste from the gardens and the waste from the stables of the Household Cavalry.  The compost is mainly used in the gardens, but on occasion has been auctioned as part of a fund-raising event for the gardens.  You didn’t think I would put that point in about the compost heap did you... but I didn’t want to bore you with the usual list of things at Kew, although these are just but a few. 

Now, the concert we went to see was a 13 member band called “Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club”.  
 “The Buena Vista Social Club” was a members club in Havana, Cuba that held dances and musical activities, a popular place for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s.  The genre: salsa, bolero, guajira and son. 
In the 1990s, nearly 50 years after the club was closed, it inspired a recording with traditional Cuban musicians, some of whom were veterans who had performed at the club during the height of its popularity.
The recording, named Buena Vista Social Club after the Havana institution, became an international success, and the ensemble was encouraged to perform.
Several surviving members of the Buena Vista Social Club currently tour worldwide, to popular acclaim, with new members and occasionally the solo singer Omara Portuondo,  who by the way was the only female member of this group and a legend, as part of a 13 member band called Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.  Omara Portuono is 80 years old and my word is she a live wire.  I hope I can still dance and move as she does at that age.  Such a beautiful woman with an amazing voice and such a character. 

Concerts at Kew are rather special, not only are they set in these beautiful grounds but also that you turn up an hour or so before the start of the concert and people bring along food and drinks and it turns into this massive picnic in front of the stage and it’s great fun.  
The weather at first was overcast and the greatest fear was rain, but just as we got there, the sun decided to make an appearance and it was a lovely summer’s evening.  So the afternoon started off with lots of food, wine, bubbly and of course good friends which is in my opinion a great recipe for a fab evening.  
Now just to give you an idea of the event, you obviously have this lovely garden all around with hundreds of people having a picnic, then an area where once the music starts you can get up and dance and behind the stage, which is the background to all concerts at Kew, Temperate House - the world’s largest surviving victorian glass structure.  

I love this music, there is something about salsa that just makes me feel happy and seems to have a direct connection to my hips as I have to get up and dance.  It brings to mind the sun, the sea, mojitos and passion, a passion for life, for fun and for love.  

The atmosphere was amazing, it makes me think of times when people dressed up in beautiful dresses, went to these dance halls and you would have these orchestras and singers and people would dance all night.  I often wish I had a time machine so that you can go back in time to experience this first hand.  How amazing would that be.   
Most of us who couldn’t sit still whilst this music was playing went to the front to dance, or rather try to dance salsa, it was something, but I wouldn’t call it salsa, but hey, it’s the thought or rather effort that counts.  Of course, there always has to be someone or some people who can’t behave in public and unfortunately I and the lovely Kerstin found them.  Now really, I have to complain, who, at a concert, with all these gardens around us brings a six year old child on the shoulders, of his father I’m assuming, who of course by then is drunk into this massive crowd of dancing people and decides to body slam his friends with this child on his shoulder and then you have the other set of people who decide to bring their drinks onto the dance floor while they just stand there drinking and looking on.  Needless to say, this was going to end in tears and it’s a shame that my mother taught me better manners as you would have seen a grown man cry after I body slammed a certain part of his anatomy.  There I am innocently enjoying myself with my friends, dancing away, only to be drenched from head to toe down my back in beer by one of the morons who stands and drinks and the other moron who is drunk with a child on his shoulders body slamming away.   Seriously!!
As you can imagine, I was not happy and the look on my face said it all.  There I am, soaked and stinking of beer with these utter idiots around me.  It always happens to me.  After a few choice words which I won’t repeat as I would probably be banned by the blog society, I had to push this away and just try and enjoy the rest of my evening.  The occasional glare ensured that they moved away from us slightly.  Why do people have to behave like this, what is it with people who think that unless they are drunk they won’t be able to enjoy themselves, it really spoils it for the rest of the people who are there to dance and listen to music.  
Thus ended my beautiful evening, with me going home and people looking at me as if I were some alcoholic as I was reeking of beer and looking rather worse for wear with stained and smelly clothes.  NOT AMUSED. 
I would like to thank my lovely friend Lannah who arranged this all for us and for the rest of the girls for making it a lovely evening and of course to our personal photographer, Kerstin, who always ensures that we have the memories recorded - see you all there next year! 


  1. Great photos and a lovely write up. I can soooo imagine your face when the beer was spilled - I hope you gave them hell!

  2. Great write up of what was a really nice evening (beer shower apart) and a fantastic concert that wasn't even ruined by my inept dancing :-)
    The mind boggles at compost and manure charity auctions though...only in London!

  3. Hey, snap!

    How fabulous to 'see' you again, thanks for your comments.