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.



Social media


People can be lonely at any age, but when you are older it seems to become more common. The physical problems of getting out and about, the death of friends and partners, the difficulties of managing on a fixed income, or the isolation of impairments like deafness, can all make it harder to make friends or stay in contact with the family and friends you have.

Social media is one way to reach out, but many older people are not online and are baffled or frightened by new technology. Being online is empowering too – being able to apply for your own blue badge, search for insurance or utility deals, or order a delivery from a supermarket, without having to ask for help helps people feel in control of their lives.

Last year Age UK Barnet helped 300 people learn to get online, working with 9 secondary schools and sixth form colleges, two primary schools and Mapledown School. They also held one off workshops with companies like John Lewis and Geeks on Wheels, as well as drop-in sessions at 5 libraries.

The feedback was great – all the people we asked came away feeling happy with the session, more confident with IT, and would recommend it to friends.

The classes are one-on-one, so older people can learn at their own pace and focus on what they want, whether that is their first Skype to distant family, or their first Facebook message to a grandchild. It also means that they can build a relationship with the students who are teaching them. And that, in my mind, is a very good thing, because working together breaks down those stereotypes – that older people are slow, humourless, weak and pitiable, and that teenagers are lazy, selfish, and aggressive, and let us all see each other as people. One woman told me that, before she took this class, if she saw a large group of teenagers at the bus stop she would have felt too intimidated to join them, but now she sees them differently, and one sixth-former told me that before he had taught our clients he had never had to communicate with a deaf person before, but he now knew to make eye contact and not use slang.

Age UK Barnet’s digital inclusion project is called MiCommunity, because ultimately it is about building a community. The internet community doesn’t have the same boundaries of borough, city and country that Barnet has, but it is a community nonetheless, so I would like to extend thanks to two artists who live nowhere near here, but picked up the call on Twitter and responded by sending in a postcard.

Louisa Crispin @louisacrispin draws delicate, intimate nature studies. There is a quietness to her work, which is compelling, in the same way that a quiet voice in a rowdy room can force you to stop, focus and really listen. You can see examples here:


Lis Watkins @lineandwash paints utterly charming watercolours of urban scenes. London comes to life under her lively palette and unsentimental eye. You can see more of her work here


Back in the local community, Finchley Art Society, who supported both last year and this year’s sale, are holding an exhibition in the Trinty Church Concourse, Nether St N12 7NN from 8-23 Nov. Mon – Thurs 9am -9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-6pm ans Sun 2pm-6pm. Do pop along to support them. Below is one of their contributions from last year, by Loretta de Lange.

Thank you all.



A couple of events in the run up to the Secret Postcard Sale


Stretch your fingers and get drawing for the Secret Postcard Sale.

In the run up to the sale Age UK Barnet will be with Grange Big Local at the Vale Farm Allotments carboot sale on 19 Oct 10am-2pm Tarling Road. Come along and find out more about both of organisations.

Come along for information about both of us, gardening tips, tea and cake and the usual carboot rummage.

I will also be at Boyden’s Kitchen in Church Lane N2 from 2.30pm on 5 Nov with blank postcards and pens at the ready if you want to come along. Bring yourselves, bring the kids and make a postcard for the sale.

Many thanks to Helen and Ben from Boyden’s Kitchen for their support, and to Janine and Lyndsey from Vale Farm Allotments.