Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale is on Sat 6 Dec from 10am.

So the festival is all geared up, reindeer are on their way and the postcards are all hung in Passobello 174 High Road East Finchley N2 9AS.

Even better, there is a parking amnesty on, which means free parking on the high road.

All the cards are £20 and, just to remind you, we have cards by Dame Zandra Rhodes, Axel Scheffler, Richard Lumsden, Davina McCall, Magnus Irvin, Louisa Crispin, Simon Roberts, Nadege Meriau, Martin Shovel, Somon Ellinas, Ben Jennings, and many many more.

There is a sneak preview of a small number of the cards here

See you tomorrow.



Flitting through East Finchley – painters from near & far



I wanted to give a little thank you to some artists, some local and some not, who are worth keeping an eye out for. Some are local to the borough, others aren’t.

First up Jacinta Smelt, an artist based in the Netherlands, has been, once again, incredibly generous with her work. Last year her bold, strong paintings, like the butterfly above, literally flew off the shelves. Check out her website here:

Another painter, London but not Barnet-based, to keep an eye out for is Rachael Weitzman. Her paintings are, as this article on Beautiful Decay says, little narratives

Orly Orbach is another narrative artist and her work is wonderful. Her clients include the British Museum, the Southbank Centre and Royal Festival Hall and many others

Closer to home, Finchley resident Mari I’Anson is another artist who is donating for the second time. Her watercolours have a fluidity and lightness of touch that is elegant and her gentle observations make her work utterly charming.

Lisa Takahashi @takahashiprints is a painter and printmaker who lived in Barnet for many years, but has now moved to Bristol. Her subtle use of colour is combined with strong designs. As her website mentions, she has exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition as well locally at the Arts Depot

Two marvellous abstract artists next, both producing work of great richness and warmth.

Polly Rockberger is a Finchley local

Dragica Janketic-Carlin is based in the Mare Street studios in East London

There is a brief interview with her talking about her work here

A couple of local figurative artists deserve a mention. Despina Symeou’s  @despinasym card is just brilliant

Whilst I’m sure Harriet Connides’ @ceeforina pretty and whimsical lady will be snapped up. She is exhibiting at the Arts Depot from Sunday

And finally, I have to mention Alex Tracey @ayjaytrashy who paints the most wonderful, witty miniatures on sugar packets and tea labels from cafes around the borough.

Thank you all

The sale is on 6 Dec in Passobello 174 High Rd East Finchley N2 9AS. All the work is sold anonymously and all for £20, with all the proceeds going to Age UK Barnet.




Axel Scheffler – illustrator of the Gruffalo – donates a postcard


Axel Scheffler is best known for his partnership with children’s author Julia Donaldson. Best known for his illustrations of the Gruffalo, a classic book which has sold 6 million copies and has been translated into 50 languages. The Gruffalo was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and won the 1999 Smarties Gold Award and the 2000 Blue Peter Award for the best book to read aloud. And we all know that grandparents are the best at reading aloud.

Axel Scheffler has also written and illustrated the Pip and Posy series.

It is with enormous gratitude that we received an original card from him. Thank you so much Mr Scheffler, for taking the time to help us.

I’d also like to thank the other illustrators who have donated cards – Louise Andersone @luluandiris and Martin Ursell’s lovely students from Middlesex University: Jack Sephton, Bethany Ward, Charles Johnston, Dervla Mary Leonard, Magdalena Kacalak-Likatnes, Reece Robinson, Casey Ballam, Gaby Giu, Jasmine E Brady, Billy Jackson, Imogen Dale, Alina Grigorjeva, Chloe Askew, Sachiko Oguri, Ammena Qureshi, Vidar Francke, Summer du Plessis, Eva Strasburger, Alexander Harvey, Amy Laker, Molly Howard-Foster, Callum Fenton, Taro Qureshi, Sinead McKeefrey, Pondhorror, and Kate Simpson

And last but not least, Rob Biddulph, currently art director of the Observer magazine, who has just published his first illustrated children’s book, Blown Away

You are all very kind. Thank you.






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.