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Outdoor film - a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Great Get Together Weekend – Jo Cox would have been proud of West Hampstead

It was a hot weekend in West Hampstead but with the ‘Big Lunch/ Jo Cox Great Get Together there was some really cool stuff going on. On Saturday night it was cycle-powered outdoor cinema and on Sunday a number of Big Lunches in the ‘hood.

By popular demand the first outdoor screening of the summer, organised by the Friends of Fortune Green, was back to cycle-power. The film was ‘Arrival’, which overall proved a popular choice although the audience of over 325 either loved it (“it was best film I’ve seen in ages”) or didn’t (“what was that all about?”); but even those who didn’t quite get the film enjoyed that fantastic atmosphere. Normally, by the end of the film it’s sweaters and blankets but not this time as it was still 23 degrees at 11pm.

Outdoor film - a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Outdoor film – a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Before the film started MC Simon Inglis thanked FOFG for putting it on and electric pedals for the system, and wished a speedy recovery to Councillor Flick Rea, in the audience with her arm still in sling. He also asked for donations to help fund the film, and the audience responded generously giving £925; so next up the kids-friendly film on August 12th (date for your diaries).

After the late-night film screening it was a gentle start for the Big Lunches on Sunday. Down in the Iverson Road Space, Monica Regli from MILAM reported that “It was sweltering hot so we had to keep moving the tables but we had a really good turnout. She heaped praise on member Carlotta Fiocchi-Sassoon the main organiser, although “everyone chipped in (and a special thank you to Sidings)” Monica was especially pleased that there was a great community spirit, “you could hear everyone networking and swapping information. Just what the country needs right now – a really positive effect.”

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Up in Fortune Green ward it was take your pick. Probably the award for best village fete atmosphere was the Ravenshaw event on Glastonbury Street – although with a street name like that you can’t but help have a great atmosphere. It was a really well planned , but their secret weapon was their paddling pools! Popular on a hot day with the kids … and eyed enviously by the adults.  Their raffle raised a tidy sum for a local charity and #Grenfelltower.

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

A short walk away Hillfield Residents Association had about 75 adults and kids turn for their Big Lunch. Co-organiser Sandie Evans said “I’ve met the nicest people – and how did I NOT know Neil and Amanda – they live practically opposite and we’ve both lived on the Street for over 15 years”! Hillfield’s secret weapon was resident Jimmy who just happened to be juggler and kept the kids entertained for hours, although thankfully for him given a brief break by the arrival of police horses.

Everyone loves a police horse!

Everyone loves a police horse!

For the cultural historians among you that old buffet staple potato salad is out (there was none), pasta salad came in second place but the winner by far was couscous salad – there was enough to resurface the M1. Hillfield’s raffle was for #troysmission, the West Hampstead toddler with cerebral palsy whose mum is seeking to raise £50,000 for a potentially life changing operation for him.

Couscous the new potato salad

Couscous – the new potato salad

And a short walk away from Hillfield, neighbours Gondar Gardens and Agamemnon, 65 of them, sat down under four massive gazebos (on a very hot day) for their lunch. Their secret weapon was magician, Tom Grubb, who kept the (admittedly by this stage slightly boozy) residents bamboozled.

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar Gardens (although some were on the water!)

Chairman David Yass said “There was a very nice community feel – one of my neighbours said to me I’ve lived here 30 years and met someone who lives across the street who I had never talked to before – isn’t that wonderful.” WHL can’t really put it any better than that.

Said Pavlova. Photo via Susie Steiner

Big Lunch proves a big deal

It was national Big Lunch weekend recently, and there were a number held in upper West Hampstead (aka Fortune Green): Ravenshaw Street, Gondar Gardens, Ingham Road and Achilles Road. How did they turn out?

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

Ingham resident Susie Steiner, reported that “the great British weather wasn’t being very co-operative, especially early on, so the Ingham Road Big Lunch, scheduled for Fortune Green, turned out to be a wet lunch and Ingham Road residents repaired indoors for their get together. There was a brilliant turn-out, nevertheless, lots of food, toddlers and free-flowing fizz. Much credit to the organisational skills of Hannah Borthwick, who provided the Ingham pavlova”.

Said Pavlova. Photo via Susie Steiner

Said Pavlova. Photo via Susie Steiner

Spellbinding!

Spellbinding! Photo via David Yass

Starting slightly later, Gondar and Agamemnon Residents Association avoided the early rain and were able to stay outdoors. What kept them so well entertained on an overcast but fortunately dry Sunday afternoon in June?

“Aside from the usual Big Lunch necessities (home-cooked food brought to share, the opportunity to play football, cricket and mini-tennis in the middle of the road), the rabbit that GARA pulled out of the hat was… Tom the spellbinding magician who wowed children of all ages with his wonderful tricks” said Chair of GARA, David Yass.

Down at Ravenshaw Street “it was a great success despite the rain!” said organiser Georgina Thorburn, “we probably had 60-100 people coming and going throughout the afternoon. We also had a West Hampstead fire service bring one of their engines for the kids to view, mounted police offices (on horses) and an ice cream truck. There was also free face painting, arts and crafts for the kids and a raffle, which raised over £100 for Great Ormond Street hospital”.

Over in Achilles Road there were a whole host of activities over the day; “We had a fire engine and police horse visits, a Strike Pads demo, Zumba class, table tennis, kids’ doughnut-on-a-string eating challenge, face painting, bouncy slide, water balloon and spoon race (OK that one didn’t work too well!) but the subsequent water balloon fight was fun”, according to organiser Cecilia Yee.

Zumba on Achilles Road. Photo via Cecilia Yee

Zumba on Achilles Road. Photo via Cecilia Yee

Something that united them all was the delicious food that people brought to share. Nothing like a street party to bring out the great British Baker in all of us. Although, Gino’s Tiramisu on Achilles Road, took the biscuit so to speak, but as it would take a Zumba class to work off the calories, it was fortunate that Achilles Road had organised one.

Food glorious food! photo via Achilles Road

Food glorious food! Photo via Achilles Road team

Our local councillors Flick Rea, Lorna Russell as well as local MP Tulip Siddiq popped along, Tulip bringing baby Azalea. Also in a nice touch local touch, Achilles Road ran a fund-raising raffle on the day to raise money for new football goals at the nearby Fortune Green play centre. Ravenshaw also had a raffle, which raised £100 for Great Ormond Street hospital.

Final word to Janet Pedder, who helped organise the event on Achilles Road, but which applies to all of them. “It was just so fabulous to have the road free of cars and for the kids to be able to run, scoot and cycle the length of it with no fear or safety concerns. And we all met neighbours who we hadn’t made contact with before. It was such a happy and relaxed atmosphere”.