A pen–to register; a key–
That winds through secret wards
Are well assigned to Memory
By allegoric Bards.

As aptly, also, might be given
A Pencil to her hand;
That, softening objects, sometimes even
Outstrips the heart’s demand;

That smooths foregone distress, the lines
Of lingering care subdues,
Long-vanished happiness refines,
And clothes in brighter hues;

Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works
Those Spectres to dilate
That startle Conscience, as she lurks
Within her lonely seat.

Oh! that our lives, which flee so fast,
In purity were such,
That not an image of the past
Should fear that pencil’s touch!

Retirement then might hourly look
Upon a soothing scene,
Age steal to his allotted nook
Contented and serene;

With heart as calm as lakes that sleep,
In frosty moonlight glistening;
Or mountain rivers, where they creep
Along a channel smooth and deep,
To their own far-off murmurs listening. 

William Wordsworth

If the older people in our families and communities are the archivists of our history, telling us stories about our past, connecting us and giving us a different perspective, then maybe photographs can do that too. Capturing, keeping and holding our past for us; connecting us to it.

For the many older people in our community who live with dementia, photographs have a particularly important role. They can be the trigger for those memories and stories, a place for reminiscence to start. They can remind us of the life the person before us once lived, remind us sometimes that they are a person, something that can sadly forgotten in the face of severe memory problems. A memory box, placed near a bed or by the door to a room in care home, is an important part of care in my view


So it is with great pleasure that I can introduce some of the brilliant photographers who have contributed to Age UK Barnet’s Secret Postcard Sale on 6 Dec in East Finchley.

Simon Roberts is a photographer whose work deals with our relationship to landscape and ideas of identity and belonging. His work includes photographs of England, Russia and of seaside piers, to his work on the Election Project, commissioned by the House of Commons Work of Art Committee. His photographs are held in major public and private collections, including the George Eastman House,  Deutsche Borse Art collection and  the Wilson Centre for Photography.

US based photographer KH Krena’s work is painterly and involving. You can find her blog here

Coming back to Barnet, there are three great photographers who have kindly donated work.

Nadege Meriau is a young photographer with an impressive list of exhibitions and prizes to her name. Her work is stunningly beautiful, visceral and surreal and beautifully crafted.

Debbie Jaye is a landscape photographer and, as a local, many of her lyrical images will be familiar to residents of Barnet

And last, but by no means least, the wonderful Anne-Marie Sanderson, photographer at the Barnet Press, has donated a lovely selection of images. Her work is vibrant and beautifully constructed, with a lovely affectionate eye for her subjects – her website is well worth a few minutes of your time.

All these photographers, and work by others, will be on sale at the East Finchley Christmas Festival, so if you can spot them, you may well pick up a bargain. Head up to the north end of the high street, past the dog show, music and mince pie bake off, and you will find us in Passobello, all day.



If music be the food of love…


Another post about a true artist who has donated to the postcard sale, which, in case you have forgotten, is on 6 Dec in Passobello, 174 High Rd East Finchley N2 9AS.

Richard Lumsden is a man who can, it seems, do anything. An actor, perhaps best known for his role as Robert Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility, but also The Avengers, The First of the Summer of Wine, Chalk, Sugar Rush and a host of other films, TV and theatre productions. He is currently appearing in Our Town at the Almeida Theatre.

He is also a writer, with new scripts in production, a composer and a musician.

Find out more about his many talents here

Added to this, he has very kindly drawn a postcard which is utterly charming and very special indeed. The person who finds his card will also receive a CD of a song composed and performed especially for us and completely unique.

I’m jealous. This card is definitely worth hunting down.

Many of Age UK Barnet’s clients are music lovers as well. Our music group meets monthly, driven to  and from our centres by our very kind and dedicated volunteers, to listen to live musicians or recorded music together and discuss their passion. About one third of the members of this group are blind and a fair number of them are skilled musicians in their own right, so they are a tough crowd to please.

Here are some pictures of the lovely cellist Dinah Beamish performing for her equally lovely audience. Dinah’s website is here

IMG_7795 IMG_7789 IMG_7729 IMG_7702 IMG_7718 IMG_7719 IMG_7725

Da-da – Happy to unveil the support of the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics


A massive thank you to Tanya Peixoto, owner of the utterly charming Bookartbookshop in Pifield St, Hoxton (pictured above), for her donations to the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale.

Tanya is also Vice-Curatrice of the College de ‘Pataphysique and has very kindly rounded up some contributions to the sale from fellow artists in the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics. This article may, or may not, explain what Pataphysics is.

on second thoughts, maybe Wikipedia is better…

In the meantime, we would like to extend our thanks to Bettina Schroeder, an artist whose work is regularly exhibited throughout Europe and America,

and to Sally Child, the creator of Tea Trolley dancing, which you can watch here:

And finally, Magnus Irvin, whom I blogged about earlier in this series, is another member of the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics.

Tanya, Sally, Bettina and Magnus may be totally cool, but as winter draws in they are helping to spread the warmth with their generous help. And for older people that is vital; one older person dies needlessly from cold every 7 minutes every winter in the UK. In the London Borough of Barnet there will be an estimated 190 avoidable deaths due to cold this winter.

To donate to Age UK Barnet or find out more about how we are helping older people stay warm and healthy, have a look here:

Or, come down to the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale on 6 Dec in Passobello, 174 High Rd, East Finchley, N2 9AS and see if you can find the postcards made by these highly collectable artists. The sale starts at 10am and all proceeds go to support Age UK Barnet (reg charity 1080458). 






Davina McCall – Run, Swim or Cycle to find her card


You will need to exercise some thought to find the secret postcard donated by television presenter and charity fundraiser Davina McCall; a small clue – it is as bold, bright and warm as the lady herself.

Davina is probably best known as the presenter for Big Brother, and more recently Got to Dance, but best loved for her incredible Beyond Breaking Point Sport Relief challenge in February of this year, where she raised nearly £2,240,000 by running, swimming and cycling from Edinburgh to London in just 7 days.

This incredible feat gives me a rather clunky segue into some of the most important work Age UK Barnet does locally – providing exercise classes for older people. Whether you are interested in dance, tai chi, yoga, aqua aerobics (many thanks to Mill Hill School for loaning their pool) or Nordic walking there is something for every taste and every exercise level, whether that is gentle seated exercise or Zumba Gold.

There is a list of activities here

Exercise is vital as people get older – almost one third of people aged over 65 fall each year. Falls account for 10-25% of ambulance call-outs for people aged over 65.

Almost 3,200 people over 65 died from a fall in 2012 – about one person every three hours.

Half of those with a hip fracture never regain their former function and shockingly, one in five dies within 3 months.

None of those figures tell you anything about the terrifying experience of falling and being unable to get up, or the way that a fear of falling keeps older people trapped in their homes

Falls prevention, including exercise classes and things like our handyperson scheme and toenail cutting service, or our Falls Awareness Days pictured below, can cut falls by 15-30%.

Toenail cutting and handyperson may not be glamorous, certainly not when included in a post about the woman who won the Glamour Award Hero of 2014, but they are important, so we are very grateful that Davina has donated a card.

The Secret Postcard Sale will be on 6 Dec in Passobello, 174 High Rd, East Finchley N2 9AS from 10am to 5pm. All the cards will be on sale for £20 each, and you won’t know until you have purchased a card who the artist is. But it might be Davina McCall’s.



Secret Postcard Sale – Local Shows and Local Groups Showing Support


The details for the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale are being finalised.

The cards will be on display and for sale in

Passobello, 174 High Rd, East Finchley, London N2 9AS

on Saturday 6 Dec from 10am-5pm

A huge thank you to Atif, the owner of this lovely carpet shop, for letting us takeover for the day. He couldn’t be kinder or more helpful. Do check him out on Twitter @passobelloltd and send him some twitterlove from me.

The East Finchley Christmas Festival will be taking place on the high road that day, so there will be plenty of music, stalls and festive cheer when you come.

So, just a reminder of how this works for those of you thinking of coming along; hundreds of postcards have been donated to Age UK Barnet with drawings, paintings, photographs and collages on the front. They are signed on the reverse, so they are sold anonymously, all for the same price – £20.

This means it is partly an art sale, because you buy an image you love, and partly a raffle, because you might spot a card by a well-known artist or celebrity, which is worth much more than you paid for it.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to the local artists who have supported this.

Age UK Barnet’s art group and volunteers

Finchley Art Society, whose members have been amazingly generous. They currently have an exhibition on at the Trinity Centre in Nether St, N12, so do pop along and see their work.

North London Artists Network @nlan_tweets have been good supporters too. Check out Dan Wrightson’s exhibition at Lauderdale House in Highgate from 26 Nov. Dan’s son Ben is the youngest artist this year, at the grand age of 3.

Studio North Three are a group of artists who meet from 10am-1pm on Tuesdays at Frith Grange Scout Hut in Mill Hill and have given a lovely selection of work.

Whilst we are in Mill Hill, thank you to Rubi Bhattacharyya of Milldon Art Society who donated postcards both this year and last.

Thank you again to Barnet Guild of Artists and to East Finchley Open Artists, in particular Ann Froomberg for her lovely work and for getting them on board again. They will be holding a selling exhibition at Tree House School, Woodside Ave, N10 3JA on 22-23 Nov, with proceeds to Ambitious about Autism.

Martin Ursell of Middlesex University is once again rounding up some artists and illustrators of the future for me.

Finally I would also like to give a special thank you to Audrey Montet @montetdesigns whose art group at Fonthill Care Home in St Albans have been very generous supporters and who have provided the oldest artist to contribute this year, at the age of 92.

All in all, it is looking pretty festive and exciting.




Easy to love – grandparents and cartoons

grandpa reading 001

Grandparents come with many gifts and with many different styles. They don’t need to be related by blood to hold their place in our family – we can draw our families any way we want to.  They tell us stories – snapshots of our history, stories about ourselves, and tales with a moral for us to listen to. They can be funny and playful; observant and warm; gentle or sharp. It is a simpler, more direct relationship than with our parents, and somehow, because of that, the lessons we learn from our grandparents stay with us.

Befriending is a way to bring this relationship into your life. For more information about befriending see here:

What has this to do with cartoons? Within the pages of our newspapers, we hold them with a similar affection, unlike the hectoring of the editorial or columnist, or the rote facts of an article.


I’m really grateful to the very talented cartoonists who have donated to Age UK Barnet’s Secret Postcard Sale this year – do click on the links to see their work so that you can recognise it on the day.

Ben Jennings won the political cartoonist of the year in 2011. You can see his work in the Guardian and the I Paper, amongst many others. He tweets as @bjennings90 and his website is:

Simon Ellinas is a Barnet local. He has drawn for the Sunday Times, the News of the World and The Week. He tweets as @cartoono and his work can be found here:

And last, but by no means least, Martin Shovel. He has worked for the Daily Telegraph, amongst others. He tweets as @martinshovel and his website is:

Gentlemen, your contributions have given me huge pleasure. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity, to Age UK Barnet, if not to your subjects.

Readers, all the postcards will be on sale on 6 Dec in East Finchley, anonymously and for a fixed price, so see if you can spot one of these and nab yourself the kind of bargain your granny would be proud of.


Cooking up some fun

A fair amount of the activities of Age UK Barnet revolve around food: lunch in the day centres, or a shared meal at one of the lunch clubs – the Muslim Ladies lunch club on Wednesdays at the Ann Owens for example, are all popular and, for some of people it is the only freshly-cooked hot meal they get. Carrying shopping, managing hot pans, or having the hand strength to chop, can all get difficult when people are older and becoming frail or lose some of their sight.

We also run cookery classes for men around the borough – in Barnet & Southgate College, New Barnet Community Centre and Ann Owens Centre. These incredibly popular classes are lively and fun. Many of the men who attend are carers or recently widowed, so have only just taken on the role of cooking at home. Some just want an opportunity to brush up their skills, or get out of the house and meet others.

Read more here



Healthy living advice is available from our Ageing Well service, and from our Eat Well, where volunteers trained by dieticians give one-to-one support to older people in their own homes to improve their diet and eat more healthily.

For many older people, malnutrition is a real issue, because of problems cooking, or loss of appetite. Many people do not realise that as you get older, just as your hearing or vision may deteriorate, your sense of taste may also lessen, making food taste bland and unappetising.

Our volunteers can give advice on meal planning, online shopping, or adapting to a new diet.

You can find out more about our services here


Scan13Eating is, in the end, a social activity. No-one enjoys a meal eaten alone as much as they do sharing a meal with a friend.  Please come and share some sweetness with us by popping in to Boyden’s Kitchen, Church Lane, N2 from 2.30pm on 5 Nov, and make a postcard for the Secret Postcard Sale.