All abuzz at Polka Theatre with ‘The Giant Jam Sandwich’

There’s a buzz in the air at Polka Theatre…and it’s not just the swarm of wasps descending on The Giant Jam Sandwich. Touring company, New Perspectives brings John Vernon Lord’s classic family favourite to life with ingenious creativity and modern twists, thrilling packed audiences during a sell-out run in Wimbledon.

One hot summer’s day, four million wasps invade the village of Itching Down. They’re noisy, nasty and don’t mind who they sting. Everyone panics but Bap the baker rallies the industrious citizens of Itching Down to knead and bake the biggest wasp trap ever!

Three dynamic actors portray a host of engaging characters, entertaining an audience spanning the generations, from babes in arms through to grandparents. Their energetic performance elicits squeals of delight from youngsters and provides jokes to provoke belly laughs from the adults. There’s singing and dancing with stompingly catchy tunes and live instrumentals. Inventive use of lighting, sound and props captivates the audience with vivid depictions of fluffy dough, skies darkening under a swarm of wasps, and the arduous challenge of sawing through the crispy crust of the ginormous loaf. There’s even a flying tractor! The immersive narrative is enthralling with audience participation deftly handled by the cast – including non-scripted interjections from the enthusiastic young crowd.

The Giant Jam Sandwich is New Perspectives’ second visit to Polka. The company’s Executive Director, Sally Anne Tye values the theatre’s crucial role “at the forefront of hosting and producing a rich theatre and creative learning programme for children” and sees it as a “natural home” for New Perspectives’ work.

Polka Theatre is indeed an enchanting venue. Opened in Wimbledon in 1979, it was the country’s first purpose-built children’s theatre. On walking through the beautifully carved wooden doors into the main auditorium, the excitement of anticipation familiar to older audience members is heightened by the knowledge that this could be the very first taste of theatre for many of the wide-eyed little people bustling in alongside. The welcoming tone is set perfectly inside the main auditorium, with 300 plush velvet seats tailored for children but still comfortable for adults, shallow stairs with easily reachable bannisters, and colourful staging glowing softly under spotlights suspended from ornate metalwork arching across the roof. The focus on children is evident throughout Polka with a bright indoor play area including rocking horses and dressing-up chest, an outdoor playground, café with train-carriage cubicles, and toilets located immediately outside the auditorium.

Building on this unique heritage, Polka Theatre has ambitious plans for extensive redevelopment this year, to ensure the venue continues to charm and captivate the next generation of theatre goers. Future Polka will redefine its visitor experience and provide a modern environment in which artistic excellence can flourish. Key features will include the creation of a National Centre for Early Years Theatre, including a new auditorium for under 6s, a multi-purpose rehearsal space and a new Creative Learning Studio. The plans will also support Polka’s desire to increase its sustainability and financial resilience. Read more about their plans here, or visit the Polka Theatre website.

Pancake Day: Tuesday 28 February

Pancake Day is this Tuesday 28 February and Wimbledon has everything you need for your perfect pancake fix this year, whether you’re dining out or making your own at home.

Tuck in to delicious pancakes all across Wimbledon Town Centre! Enjoy freshly prepared pancakes at Bliss Coffee, sweet and savoury crepes at CrepeAffaire, or try Lu-Ma Cafe’s Indulgent Pancakes with booja booja vanilla ice-cream. And there are three brand new pancake treats to choose from at Bill’s Annual Pancake Party: Lemon Cheesecake sandwich, Salted Caramel Stack and bells and whistles Banana Split.

If you’re making your own this year, pop in to Elys’ Cookshop on the 3rd floor or visit Lakeland or Debenhams in Centre Court and choose from their extensive selections of handy gadgets and utensils to kit out your kitchen with pancake essentials. If you’re stuck for tasty ideas, have a look at these fantastic recipes for sweet or savoury options, including vegan and gluten-free pancakes.

And remember to enter Centre Court Shopping’s competition to win a Pancake Day Hamper from Lakeland worth £100.

Business Rates Revaluation 2017

Business rates are changing from April 2017. Love Wimbledon urges businesses to review your draft business rateable value now to allow for appeal and preparation for any changes to be reflected in your budgets.

This comes from the government website:
‘At revaluation, the government adjusts the value of business rates to reflect changes in the property market. It usually happens every 5 years. The most recent revaluation came into effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2010, based on rateable values from 1 April 2008.’

So from April 2017, the business rates that you pay on your business premises are likely to change. The proposed draft rateable values were published on Friday 30 September and can be viewed by postcode or street name and town here (although Wimbledon is not recognised as a town!)

It is important to note at this stage that the multiplier (the percentage that is applied to your rateable value to define the actual cost of your business rates) is also an estimate. However, you can receive an estimate of your business rates from the same website based on the current multiplier.

If any of the details are incorrect on the website you are able to inform the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) of any changes which will then impact upon the business rates payable. Changes may relate to the number of floors and purpose of each floor or any internal modifications that you may have made.

Be part of London Food Month this June

London Evening Standard is excited to launch a major new food festival to be held annually from June 2017. A month-long celebration filled with hundreds of events throughout the world’s culinary capital. Creative directors Grace Dent and Tom Parker Bowles will curate a vibrant showcase of the culinary diversity across every corner of London. Fay Maschler, Britain’s longest-standing and respected restaurant critic, will be selecting her 50 favourite places to eat.

Love Wimbledon is encouraging town centre venues to get involved in this high-profile opportunity to publicise events and experiences across our town centre and benefit from a £5million marketing and public relations campaign across London Evening Standard’s platforms, social media and partners.

London Food Month will promote special collaborations, and unique experiences across the industry to offer a programme of must-see, eat and drink events. From high-end dinners to free community events, old favourites done differently to the latest lunch hotspots, it will have something for everyone. London’s leading restaurants, chefs, bars, cafés, charities, hotels and markets are invited to participate in London Food Month by holding a special event or experience. You can host an event at your own venue or partner with another.

All London Food Month events will be listed in the London Food Month programme that will be distributed with the London Evening Standard.

Visit the London Food Month website for details and register by Wednesday 22 March to take part.

Dementia Friendly Merton

A new campaign has been launched calling on residents and businesses to help make Merton a Dementia Friendly borough by 2020. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people are likely to be living with dementia in Merton by that time.

Dementia Friendly Merton is supported by Merton Council, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and the Alzheimer’s Society. Love Wimbledon is encouraging Wimbledon businesses and organisations to get involved and learn more about how to help people with dementia in Wimbledon Town Centre. Those interested in getting involved should email Love Wimbledon’s Chief Executive, Helen Clark Bell:

Merton residents can also sign up for a free 45-minute training course, which promotes understanding of dementia and the small ways which can make a difference to people with dementia. For more information on Dementia Friendly Merton, please visit the Merton Council website.

BAFTA for Curzon’s Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema

The Curzon Group has been awarded this year’s BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.

Dame Pippa Harris, chair of Bafta’s Film Committee, said: “I am thrilled that Bafta is honouring Curzon with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award. For over 80 years, Curzon has provided the British public with unforgettable cinema experiences, while championing independent, art house and foreign language film-making. I would like to thank everyone at Curzon for their extraordinary contribution to our industry, and for their unwavering commitment to bringing the very best in film to audiences across the UK.”

Philip Knatchbull, Curzon’s chief executive, said he was “delighted” at the award.

“Curzon has a long and proud history in the British film industry and many talented and passionate people have contributed to its success story over the years. We think of ourselves as champions of bold and visionary film-making from around the world supported by our growing network of cinemas and home cinema digital platforms.”

Founded by Harold Wingate, Curzon’s first cinema opened in Mayfair in 1934. The Group imported unknown films during the post-war period and evolved successfully over the ensuing decades,  meeting the changing demands of audiences and the challenges of a dynamic film industry. Curzon is known as a place to discover other worlds and cultures and to see from a different perspective, with films that spark conversations and provoke reflection.

HMV Curzon Wimbledon is at 23 The Broadway, SW19 1RE. Click here to see their current screenings.

Feel the Love in Wimbledon this Valentine’s

Love is all around us this month with Valentine’s Day on Tuesday 14 February!

Find the perfect gift in Wimbledon

Valentine’s wouldn’t be complete without a treat. A thoughtful little gift or a grand gesture will show you how much you care and Wimbledon has everything you need. Add some sparkle from one of our fine goldsmiths and diamond specialists including Sinclair Jewellers, Pandora and Swarovski or choose from a range of luxury gift, jewellery and watch brands at Elys.

Love is in the air

Pick up a beautifully scented bouquet of flowers from Flower Kiosk or The Flowersmith, just outside Wimbledon Station. Or indulge in decadent chocolates and irresistable cakes with Patisserie Valerie’s Classic Heart Cake and Strawberry Gateau Heart available online for delivery or collection.

Intimate dinners at romantic restaurants

Delicious deals for the hottest date night of the year! San Lorenzo has created an especially seductive San Valentino menu while The Terrace is celebrating love with an elegant 3-course set menu. And why not catch a movie? Enjoy all the latest Hollywood hits and award winning cinema at HMV Curzon and Wimbledon Odeon, which is also hosting a one-off screening of Dirty Dancing.

Wimbledon Guild’s award-winning HomeFood Cafe is also cooking up some tasty treats for a special Valentine’s Tea Party from 2.30pm on Tuesday 14 February.

Mingle with Singles

Kicking off this weekend, Wimbledon is buzzing with events to spice up your nights. Dance into the small hours with great music and fantastic drinks deals including Po Na Na’s 2-for-1 cocktails at Romance isn’t Dead Yet, pulse-pounding beats at Valentine’s Aftermath, or for the more unorthodox the Valentine’s Massacre. Get your neon on for The Pod’s UV & Me Valentine’s Weekender and enjoy live vibes with resident DJs at their Valentine’s Day Traffic Light Party.

Make it a night to remember and feel the passion this Valentine’s in Wimbledon!

Keep up to date with all the latest news on Valentine’s promotions, events and offers by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – join in and let us know what you’re up to!

Belly Dancing at Wimbledon Guild
Thursdays, 12-1pm

Fabulous way of connecting with others in a fun, non-competitive way with health benefits including increased flexibility, improved blood circulation and boosted confidence

Belly Dancing is part of Wimbledon Guild’s Ageing Well activities programme and will appeal particularly to ladies aged over 50 who have a sense of fun! Instructor Turkan Ismail says, “Belly dancing is a fabulous way of connecting with other women in a fun, non-competitive way and has health benefits including increased flexibility, improved blood circulation and boosted confidence.”

Turkan said: “We had ladies ranging from 50 to 70 at the taster class so anyone who wants to can come along and try something new. Don’t worry about what to wear either – whatever is comfortable and works for you, such as a t shirt and leggings is fine.”

Places are limited and must be booked in advance by contacting Wimbledon Guild on 020 8946 0735 or

As well as belly dancing, Wimbledon Guild offers regular yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi sessions, all of which have recognised health benefits. Other, specialist exercise classes are tailored to help increase mobility, stability and physical fitness for people recovering from a stroke.

More information can be found on the Wimbledon Guild website.