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August: Eat, Drink and Get Naked

1 August 2014 | Josh Barrie

Yes, August brings the likes of Notting Hill Carnival and RideLondon – but so too some fascinating food art, Europe’s largest celebration of south Asian culture, and ‘giving’ everything to save tigers...

There’s no doubt our diaries this month are full of wondrous venture. If not away overseas, holiday spirit and song is at least enjoyed reverberating around town.

It seems now outdoor cinema has reached new heights of popularity – whether on a roof in Peckham, or in a Camden back yard, movies are flickering in the fading sunlight. And these, alongside food markets, the formalities of big time festival season, and summer sporting activities, push hidden gems further under the sand.

Events such as The Art of Dining for example, which delectably combines the beauty of an artist’s palate with a special supper. Put together by food magazine Four, the experience, running this month and next, marries the idea of human perception and culinary exploration.

Examining the use of colour in formal eating, The Art of Dining focuses on our senses: taste, vision, hearing, touch, and smell; gauging how we react to and engage with food.

“Aiming to stimulate, amuse and delight,” describes Four, the series also uses musical changes to “create an ever-changing environment for your meal to take place within.”

Music comes from Radio One’s DJ Gemma Cairney and the pop-up evenings take place at the Carousel in Marylebone on selected dates. Tickets will set you back £50, but this would be a fine way for discerning foodies to delve further into cuisine. Just don’t spend the whole time taking photographs of your dinner.

Today, photography’s become more accessible than ever. We all see great shots from one click to the next on Twitter, Facebook, websites and so on. They’re strewn with them. But – as with great works of art – pictures are best viewed with the glistening shine of physicality.

Cue then theTravel Photographer of the Year competition, run by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). Having selected the most revered pieces from both professionals and amateurs from around the world, from categories such as ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Wild Stories’, they’re now being showcased for free at the organisation’s London home up until August 17.

But for added splendour the RGS is also hosting three ‘enchanted evenings’, “an opportunity to view the exhibition in a special way,” it explains. Running between 6-9pm on August 1, 6, and 13, some of the most poignant moments ever recorded can be seen a glass of wine, sparkling fairy lights, and most importantly the TPOTY judges who’ll be on hand to talk about the images and why they were chosen. Tickets are £6, or £12 with a drink and a copy of Journey Six, the new TPOTY book.

I can’t say Acton’s the most riveting of London areas. Past Shepherds Bush in fact, the far west seems an area untapped by many. No doubt residents will dispute my claims, but I think it’s fair to say the likes of Dalston and Brixton are talked about more frequently. It certainly isn’t so hot on Instagram.

But The London Mela is something worth waking up to, if you haven’t in the past, as it returns with its charm and vibrancy once more. It’s Europe’s largest outdoor south Asian festival and takes place in Gunnersbury Park on Sunday August 31.

Organisers say “last year’s Mela was a creative triumph, spectacularly celebrating the event’s eleventh edition with over 80,000 people attending”. It’s definitely quite a showcase and – although often proclaimed the case – 2014 is said to be better than ever.

The festival’s mainstay is the tunes, with the BBC Asian Network involved helping to profile music from both overseas and back home. Also expect journeys in the form of food, dance, and arts and crafts too; indeed its cultural spotlight and community edge gives it zest not easily crafted in a capital with a plethora of such happenings. What’s more, it’s free – and family-focused.

Arguably perhaps not quite so family-orientated is the London Zoological Society’s Streak for Tigers. It’s a case of a very serious cause given a sprinkling of humour.

The plight of the of the world’s most incredible animals is being widely documented at the moment. I don’t need to harp on about elephants, sharks, tigers – put simply it’s a horribly sad situation, and one that must be fought in any way possible. With that in mind, running around London Zoo naked for one of the most endangered species on the planet, which is what’s happening on August 14, seems a positively marvellous idea.

“It's time to unleash your wild side and show us your stripes in support of the ZSL Tigers,” explains ZSL; although if doing so is just a step too far, there’s also the option to just go along and watch. I’d say doing so is a little weird, but as it’s such a commendable cause I don’t believe it to be. Registration to get your kit off is £20. 

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