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.







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.



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.




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.



Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale 2014 – Magnus Irvin


Magnus Irvin is another artist who has kindly agreed to contribute to the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale for the second time in a row.

His work is held in the collections of the V&A, the British Museum, the Arts Council of Britain, the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. He is a founder member of the London Institute of Pataphysics and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. And he is utterly lovely.

You kind find his work on his website here – the surreal, the scatological and the seascapes.  His work is beautiful, funny and brilliant, imbued with mischief and wonder.

However, for those readers of a delicate disposition, unwilling to explore the sections of his website entitled “poo” or “anus”, here is a lovely film of the man in action, painting something rather larger than a postcard.

Thank you so much Captain Magno, for all the sweetness and joy you bring.