Category Archives: London

London - travel

20 Photos That Might Make You Want To Visit The Next Lumiere London

20th January 2018

It’s no Glow Eindhoven or Vivid Sydney, but Lumiere London is a pretty good reason to brave a cold, damp January evening. For four days, international artists get free reign to light up London with over 50 installations.

What they don’t mention in the press release is:
2 rude Dutch people
3 crying mums
10 kids on scooters
12 places trying to seduce you with hot chocolate
20 sites where you’re not sure if it’s part of the festival or just accidental Lumiere.

Despite this, there’s more than a few bright lights to dazzle you. Mine were:

Child Hood @ Trafalager Square – all my Hertz go to this one

Harmonic Portal @ 197 Piccadilly –  loved these watts and wats

The Wave @ the South Bank –  lightened up my mood

Entre les rangs @ King’s Cross – was truly delightful to walk around

OSC-L & Sixty Minute Spectrum @ South Bank – leave you in the dark

You might want to dim your expectations when you come across these ones:

Waterlicht @ King’s Cross


Be Faithful To Your Dreams @ 197 Piccadilly

Guardian Angels @ King’s Cross

Friction @ 103/113 Regent Street

Lampounette @ King’s Cross

UFO @ King’s Cross

London

ABBA: Super Troupers @ Southbank … ABBA-Go or ABBA-No?

13th January 2018

ABBA are back! But sadly only in museum form, at the Southbank Centre – only moments away from ‘Waterloo’ Station!
So why not kickstart your 2018 with an immersive exhibition about the band, complete with narration by Jarvis Cocker?  An hour filled with the background stories that shaped the group with a close look at some of ABBA’s original costumes, music instruments and album artworks.
Tickets are randomly priced between £15 and £25 – and lucky for me mine was £25. Without spoiling too much, is the exhibition worth your hard earned ‘Money Money Money’?
Yes, ABBA-solutely worth it if you
  • can’t resist guided quirky and interactivish exhibitions
  • always have wanted to sing Dancing Queen at the infamous Polar studio (or a replica in this case)
  •  aren’t planning to visit the ABBA Museum in Stockholm
  • don’t mind have ABBA’s greatest hits stuck in your head for the rest of the day
No, don’t ‘take chance’ on it if 
  • you like to take your time to check every detail and not be rushed
  • you expect more background info than what you can find with a simple internet search
  • you don’t like small and possibly cramped spaces
  • the 1970’s make you scream ‘S.O.S.’

So was it worth the £25? As you know, value for money is the ‘Name of the Game’ for Tea so ‘When all is Said and Done’ it would have been great if it was £20 as it’s actually ridiculous when you consider the tour only takes an hour. Then again it is 2018 and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ we paid a fiver for a bowl of cornflakes and tenner for a hip burger.
Are you in the mood for a dance?
Abba: Super Troupers is at the Southbank Centre, London SE1, until 29 April 2018

London

Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum: Then vs Now

7th January 2018

I must admit my first encounter with the Victoria & Albert Museum was far from perfect. My original impression 8/9 years ago was something in the lines of …

1. The name?! This was before the Young Victoria and for someone who didn’t know much about the monarchy it just sounded like  a place dedicated to people named Vicky and Al? Stuff should say what it does.. like…umm..the Horniman Museum (insert cheeky monkey emoji here)

2. It’s neighbours are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum – it’s guess it’s like the unloved and under-shadowed sibling that’s kept in the attic.

3. When I visited one of the main collections I got lost and ended up in the ‘Fences’ section – yep, old bits of metal from across the ages – not even a white picket option was there – though they did have some gates … sadly they didn’t lead to the escape exit !

4. Speaking of exits I quickly escaped to its gardens – which are pretty chilled, not on weekends though.

5. Fences!!! I really can’t stop thinking about them – a major museum in one of the major world cities and it’s got fences. Apologies to the fence lovers out there – maybe you can educate me one day.

I recently returned to give it another shot – people deserve a second chance so why shouldn’t museums – and though it’s a bit of a confused mess of stuff – I went away not too unhappy.

1. The fences were gone – hooray – maybe they are now happily in the National Fence Museum.

2. My highlights were some fun renaissance artefacts and a few rooms set up to show how people, well rich/famous people, lived. The medieval stuff was good but sadly as you go back it’s heavily religious focused – as those priests were good at storing their expensive stuff – the peasants were all ‘minimalist living’ and recycled everything obviously. The other exhibits (Asian art, materials, etc) were well documented but again – a tad stuffy – despite the “fun facts and questions “ they included on some descriptions.

3. It’s still a bit of a maze – even with a clear map the individual collections are split across several floors – not very helpful, unless you’re up for a bit of orienteering – then this might be for you! And what’s with the super dim lights?

4. There’s a few places to try on clothes/armour/accessories – but they feel a bit unloved and out of place as it has a bit of a stuffy vibe and great aunt’s closet smell.

5. Lastly I must tip my hat to the place for getting me so excited to see some Dutch places represented among many UK/French/German – so much so I kinda shouted “I’ve been there!!” much to the surprise of the staff. And also – so much love for all the exhibits and mentions on me – well on Tea! It’s truly a timeless wonder and elixer of life.

PS. Here’s a photo of a painting of a dog stealing a slipper and it may well be the best thing ever.

London - Seen & Done

Hidden London: the Clapham South Subterranean Shelter Tour

29th October 2017

Imagine it’s pitch black, loud air sirens are booming and you’re rushing down a endless metal staircase… Having grown up in a war zone bunker – in my case a cellar – this was as normal as your weekly visit your grandparents.

It took me over two years to get tickets for one of London Underground’s Hidden Tours. Tickets go on sale only a few times a year and sell out quicker than a spare tube seat gets taken in the rush hour. I was glad to head down after such a long wait, but it did strike a chord with me and my past back home…

When I booked the tickets I didn’t read into it too much so I thought we’d be seeing a closed off platform at a station, but it turned out this was a massive underground complex specifically built for the Blitz  – bombing attacks of the UK by Germany from 1940-1941, there was a LOT to see and you could have easily got lost with the guides.

The tour guides show you around the little underground village that includes a medical station, a canteen that dished out top notch sandwiches and tea, and a recreational area (apparently getting frisky was probably the only sports activity ;). The shelters housed up 10,000 people so you can imagine it wasn’t just a place to stroll in. If your house was destroyed or if you were visiting London you could get a ticket. To get in you needed a pass with a bed number and each bed was allocated to a specific person, plus it was BYOB (Bring Your Own Bedding).

The first time was scary and no one knew what happened, but overtime it got … almost boring. I hated them during the day because it meant we had to stop our hide and seek or tag game, I was scared of them when I was at school or on my way to school as I was away from my mom and brother, but when they came at night it meant I didn’t have to sleep and could play with my friends and cousins

Once you walk down the stairs you step into the tunnels that are full and full of the actual beds that people slept on, some are made up and one had a Ludo game on it, something I had actually played during while killing time in what seemed like another life.

Then, it’s a long walk back up to daylight, I was thinking of my mom, my aunt and other people in town. While they were worried in what state the house or the animals would be I was proably more frustrated about the Ludo game I had lost.

After WW2, the underground tunnels became a kind of youth hostel, then it housed labour migrants from the Caribbean and the military before it was turned into archives – all that top-secret info and what not!

What the future holds for the tunnels is unclear (they want to expand), but similar sites are currently being used for mass hydroponics – growing all sorts of vegetables that turn up in the supermarket! To think your shiny orange carrot may have never seen the natural light of day until you take out outside in your shopping basket!

London

Been There London That

2nd May 2017

So far I’ve written over 100 posts around London ranging from awesome things I’ve seen and done that you should do too to answers to some questions that might pop up but aren’t bothered to look up and this quiz where you can find out if you’re a real Londoner. Here’s a quick round-up of those posts you can’t afford to miss!

Flights to London can be relativity cheap, but hotels bite a massive chunk out of your budget. So it’s always nice to balance the pain by doing a few things on the cheap. And even for free. Ok, you do need an Oyster to get around but once that’s sorted there are enough free things to do in London and you can read here how to save £200 on your visit and still have fun. I think that last one is one of the best posts you’ll find here, TBH.


Sure, Borough and Camden Market are iconic and essential. But Broadway Market, Brixton and Maltby Street Market are some of my favourite places to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You can stuff your face with all kinds of treats while at the same time relaxing and watching people go by. I’m actually lying … I haven’t been to Broadway or Maltby Street in the last 6 months, but now winter hibernation is over I’ll be putting on my comfiest shoes and venturing out into the world again.


You can read here about some of the hidden gems of Covent Garden, because yes, even in one of the most visited places in London there are new things to uncover. Though it can be busy in London, you can easily escape to places with fewer tourists. What about going to an underground jazz club in Peckham, having a bite at London’s second most fanciest Nando’s in Camberwell, playing a drunk game of Operation in Kentish Town and taking in architecture heaven in Bloomsbury. Or be brave, go to Zone 4 and visit an Art Deco house and remains of a medieval palace.


The Shard is my favourite place to see London from the top, but I understand it can be a bit expensive so ok … The Sky Garden IS soulless and nothing like the floating gardens of modern Babylon they wanted it to be, but is free and who really cares about ethics when it comes to saving a bit of your budget? What about the Eye, you might wonder? Well I’ve explained here why it’s not worth your money.


Have you ever wondered what an empty London feels like? Well I come close to it during a walk on Christmas morning and you can read about it here.


I have ideas for another 100 posts, but is there anything about London you’d like to know more about?