Category Archives: London

London

Things We’ve Lost In London

The streets and neighbourhoods in London keep changing. The recent closure of a fantastic restaurant and the upcoming demolition of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre inspired me to highlight some of those forgotten places in London that we can’t visit anymore.

Long before streaming sites there was Blockbuster to pick up movies and TV show boxes. They also had ridiculously cheap Ben & Jerry’s and sweets and snack deals. Other places that fed my book, music and movie hunger were HMV and Virgin Megastore, which had massives branches on Picaddily Circus and Tottenham Court Road with listening posts to check out new music. RIP.

I’m also sad that The Heygate Estate is gone. It was a Brutalist gem that housed over 1000 families, but has since been flattened to make place for 360 new identikit flats, just one of the too many in London. It will live on in the memories of its residents as well as the movies and shows that it was featured on, such as Attack the Block.

Watching a football game in traditional stadiums has changed over the years. Arsenal’s home base Highbury and West Ham’s Boleyn Ground were scrapped and replaced by new developments and the holy ground is now much more modern, grand and generic.

While the Millenium Dome’s white shell still remains over the top of the O2 Arena – today known for its giant events space, cinema and countless restaurants – it was originally famous as the site of the Millennium Experience – a massive celebration for the year 2000 comprising interactive exhibits, art and music.

Then there is the London Astoria, a venue in Soho and a cinema and ballroom before that. It sadly had to go down to make way for the Crossrail train project in 2009. Other London venues that have closed have included the Hammersmith Palais (2007), the Mean Fiddler (2009), The Luminaire (2010), Earl’s Court (2014), Madame JoJo’s (2014), The Good Ship (2017) and the Borderline (2019).

Battersea Power Station is probably my favourite London building and my biggest regret is not getting in queue for Open House several years back. The former coal-fired power station is being re-developed as Apple’s European head office and I’m sure they’ll open up for Open House in the future again, so fingers crossed!.

Cantina Luredo had 7(!) different types of guacamoles on their menu and it was my intention to savour them all with nachos in hand. When I walked by the other day I saw place was permanently closed and I won’t be getting my guacamole fix after all.

London

Captured: London in January

Mercato Mayfair

All I want is to spend all of January in bed and catching up on films and series. But despite this, I forced myself to face the January sadness and leave the streaming services for a few hours and do something. It brought me to indoor foodmarkets, foodhalls and foodcourts.

I covered my love/hate relationship with the House of Illustration here. The Cuba: Cold War Graphics exhibition had little background information, which is something you need as the posters on display don’t speak for themselves. But I guess they get some bonus points for managing to find these posters featuring women rebels.

I don’t really get to visit Mayfair so it’s nice to walk around and spot things, like this little peaceful corner in Grosvenor Square.

Mercato Mayfair
The reason for my trek to Mayfair was to check out the new Mercato food hall! Their second location opened last year and is housed in a former church. Yes… it looks amazing as it sounds.

Mercato Mayfair
Where else can you better share coffee, croissants and confessions than in a former confessional?

market hall oxford street
Not too far away from there is yet another food market – Market Hall Oxford Street. Apart from the go-to chain joints there’s not really too many options all in one place in the area. Until now that is!

market hall oxford street

It’s located in an old warehouse and very industrial and offers around 15 vendors cooking up tasty food of all cuisines from Mexico, Italy, Japan and more. The katsu curry sandwich was a sure-fire winner.

fulham palace and gardens

A walk in Bishops Park brought me to Fulham House and Garden, a historic house that was once the home of the Bishops of London and has now opened its doors to the public.

My favourite place in historic houses I visit are always the libraries. This one with a secret door has to be my favourite! Though it might be a tie with the pink/blue one in Kenwood House.

fulham palace and gardens

I can’t wait to go back in spring to see the gardens in full bloom. Maybe even bring a blanket, some sandwiches and wine for a picnic.

market hall fulham

My indoor food market hopping also brought me to Market Hall Fulham, which is smaller than its Oxford Street and Victoria counterparts, but might be fun to check out if you are near the area.
market hall fulhamIt seems you can’t open a foodhall in London without it being in a unique location. This venue is in the former entrance hall of an Edwardian Underground station, if only all public transport locations were this amazing.

How was your January?

London

11 Things To Do in London And 2 You Should Skip

Here are 11 awesome things I’ve seen & done in London that you should do too and two you can skip, ranging from eateries to exhibitions and gardens.

Pick & Cheese
A Conveyor Belt. With Cheeses. I can’t believe London had to go this long without one! The place offers 25 types of cheeses plus a few desserts paired with specific condiments. Plate after plate passes by and all you have to do is pick up what sounds or looks good. It has been my favourite dining experience for some time and I am going back to try the other 20.

Olafur Eliasson: In real life – Exhibition @ Tate Modern
On until 5 January 2020
I wasn’t expecting too much of this as I had a feeling I had seen all of it on Instagram! But to really experience the art installations of Olafur Eliasson you need to be in the middle of it. The exhibition lay-out and information was so-so, and though it was meant to be a retrospective, there was little to no information of his career progression and I had to read all the interesting bits online afterwards.

Chelsea Physic Garden
The Chelsea Physic Garden is London’s oldest botanic garden and has been an apothecary garden since 1673 … so you can image they know their plants and how to present them. I loved the Mental Wellness corner that encouraged you to smell and touch the plants and to sit down, close your eyes and listen to the sounds. Hope they keep that section.

Play Well @ Wellcome Gallery
On until 8 March 2020
The Play Well exhibition showcases the ideas and objects that have shaped the way from mid 1800 to today and how play is part of childhood and society. I have to say it’s not my favourite exhibition of theirs, but if you find yourself near Euston and are looking for some free entertainment it’s worth popping in for.

Burnt Toast
I’ve seen the most delicious pictures from people enjoying their French toast, Full English or avocado on a sourdough at Burnt Toast. As you can image, this all day breakfast place is almost always packed. It took me some time to figure out you the best time to have the place alone with just you and French Toast is as soon as they open.

The Crossrail Place Roof Garden
The free garden in Crossrail Place in Canary Wharf is designed to display and conserve plants from the eastern and western hemispheres to reflect the indigenous to countries visited during the 19th century by trading ships. It’s surprisingly peaceful, well planned out and not too busy on weekends.

WA Cafe
WA Cafe is a Japanese patisserie and has the best selection of cakes and teas I’ve had in a long long while. I can confirm their matcha roll cake, sesame cheesecake and strawberry shortcake all go perfectly with a hot pot of buckwheat tea.

Casa Pastor
I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be out of Mexican places to try in London! Though I prefer most of the market places I do like to go to an actual restaurant once in a while. Casa Pastor has a selection of delicious and well-sized tostadas, tacos and quesadillas, but the winners have to be their in-house tortillas and Chile de Arbol salsa.

Buddhism Exhibition @ British Library
On until 23 Feb 2020
In the British Library you can escape for a Buddhism 101 exhibition where you can learn more about the roots, philosophy and contemporary relevance of the religion. My favourite bit was the adding of music to bring you in the right mood while examining the Buddhist art and scriptures.

London Calling: 40 Years of the Clash @ Museum of London
On until 19 April 2020
An exhibition taking us a behind the scenes of the album as well as background info on all four of the band. I learned one of the members was born just around the corner from where I live and that their diet while recording consisted of beans, eggs and chips. While pretty small, it covers a lot, such as the broken Fender Precision Bass that’s being smashed on the cover of the album, their personal jackets and tour photographs. And of course London Calling is the soundtrack for your tour.

Kenwood House
You might have noticed that I like to visit a good old house/manor. But if your visit to London is limited and you’re not sure which to pick, why not combine a walk through Hampstead Heath with some exploring of Kenwood House? You’ll find Dutch masters on the wall, French baroque furnishings in most of the rooms and Latin books in the dreamlike library. The best bit? Entry is free!

Wasn’t For Me

Designed in Cuba: Cold War Graphics @ House Of Illustrations
Until January 19 2020
Their exhibitions sound great on paper, but I haven’t managed to like any of them so far. The current exhibition Cuba: Cold War Graphics didn’t really give me any info on the materials used or how the day to day of a designer looked like back then or who kept the posters. It could have been tied in with the current affairs. Ah well.

Charbonnel et Walker afternoon tea @ The May Fair Hotel
When Team Confetti and I looked for a place for Afternoon Tea I picked The May Fair Hotel because we used to book it for talents a lot back when I worked in film PR. If it’s good enough for all the talents, it’s good enough for me I thought….but not for the Afternoon Tea it seems! I can honestly say the one at Pattiserie Valerie is better value. The sandwiches AND scones were dry, two Charbonnel et Walker Truffles were too rich and the mini donuts were nothing like the ones on the press images. Either go for Pattiserie Valerie or treat yourself to one at Park Lane or Corinthia.

London

Deserted London Streets On Christmas Day

empty deserted london christmas day

A few years ago I shared my thoughts on wandering around an abandoned Central London, and this Christmas I went again and have to say that it’s definitely not as deserted as before. When I got there at 7.45 AM (same time as before), there were already a fair number of people and cars on Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square even felt like a Sunday morning before the shops open.

empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day

Is everything really closed?
No, not everything, there was a Pret as well as a few Caffe Concerto branches open. On Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus I saw some tourist-focused eateries open and the Hop On Hop Off bus was driving around.

empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day

Who do you run into?
People doing the same thing as you, some confused tourists, locals walking their dog and homeless people. Around Covent Garden I also spotted security and a street sweeper.

empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day

Is it still worth waking up early for?
Actually yes, not for a 28 Days Later or eery vibe, but there is something magical about walking from Leicester Square to Covent Garden without anyone in your way and seeing new details that you might miss as you don’t have to watch where you are going. Also, renting a bike and cycling around with a smaller chance of being hit is amazing.

empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day empty deserted london christmas day

Anything else I need to know?
– Though there are a lot of people, you can still get a photo or two without anyone in it. Patience. A lot of patience.
– Skip Westminster Bridge as Elizabeth Tower is still under scaffolding, go to Embankment instead for the perfect London Eye and Westminster Bridge shot.
– Just like last time the small side streets are my favourite as those are the ones you usually don’t see empty

London

20+ Things To Do In London During This Holiday Season

As we finally reach the festive month that is December, here’s a bunch of things to see and do in the merriest month of winter in London. From traditional Christmas activities, to mouthwatering menus, as well as Christmas markets and workshops, I’ve got you sorted.

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS THINGS TO DO IN LONDON

Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Set against the backdrop of the Waterhouse building, the Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most magical places to be this winter. Experience the thrill of skating surrounded by fairy lights nestled in frost-covered trees, with the smell of mulled wine and toasted marshmallows in the air.

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Returning for its 12th year, head down to this annual, family-friendly event in Hyde Park. With a huge Christmas market, a stunning ice kingdom, big-top shows, an ice rink and a host of Christmas-themed activities and fun, you’re sure to feel festive in no time.

Christmas in Leicester Square
See one of London’s most famous squares transformed for the festive season as part of Christmas in Leicester Square. The festival features a traditional Christmas market, a Santa’s grotto for families and a Belgian spiegeltent.

Winter Festival @ Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre will be transformed into a magical Christmas landscape this winter, with a bustling market, twinkling lights and a host of seasonal events. The festival offers a packed programme of free and ticketed events for all ages – from world-class theatrical performances and festive concerts, to social dances, community choirs and activities.

The Great Christmas Pudding Race @ Covent Garden, 7 December
One of the most exciting events of the Christmas season, this charity fun-run takes place in London’s iconic Covent Garden, helping to raise vital funds for the charity Cancer Research UK. Teams in fantastic fancy-dress costumes race to compete the festive course, navigating obstacles such as a giant inflatable slide and a crazy foam slalom all whilst balancing a Christmas Pudding on a tray!

Skate at Somerset House
Make the most of the wintry weather as one of London’s most beautiful outdoor ice rinks returns for Skate at Somerset House. In partnership with Fortnum & Mason, this icy experience is open all day and well into the evening, when the rink comes alive with special club nights featuring top DJs.

Skate in the City, Broadgate Ice Rink
Embrace the magic of Christmas in the heart of the City. Broadgate Ice Rink is just a two-minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, in the midst of an impressive array of Christmas decorations, shops, bars and restaurants.

Tower of London Ice Rink
Skate in the grounds of one of London’s most dramatic landmarks, and soak up the centuries-old historic atmosphere at this exclusive outdoor ice-rink.

ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS THINGS TO DO IN LONDON

CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND POP-UPS IN LONDON

Frost Fair festival @ Museum of London Docklands, 21 – 22 December
When the River Thames would freeze over, many years ago, huge celebrations called Frost Fairs were held on the ice. Join the Museum of London Docklands for a weekend of festivities recreating the magic of these special festivals, with interactive games and workshops, enchanting performances and arts and crafts.

The Peter Pan Cup @ Hyde Park, 25 December
Watch one of the more unusual London events in December, as brave outdoor swimmers compete in the icy waters of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park for the annual Christmas Day race. Don’t miss this event, which has been taking place on Christmas mornings since 1864.

Enchanted Eltham Palace @ Eltham Palace, 12 – 15 December
Once a favoured medieval palace and then the childhood home of Henry VII, Eltham Palace was transformed into a striking Art Deco mansion by eccentric millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1900s. Explore the stunning historic landscape lit up after dark with the return of their popular enchanting evening, with an illuminated trail, interactive colour displays and fairground rides.

Maltby Street Christmas Night Market, 6-20 December
As nights draw in and the festive season approaches, Maltby Street Market warmly invites everyone to join them on their beloved Ropewalk for the first run of their seasonal after dark markets. We’re talking carolling, hot mulled wine and mince pies, as well as responsibly sourced Christmas trees you can buy.

Plastic Freedom Pop-Up 6 – 8 December
If you’re looking for gifts that are plastic free to spread that eco-love to your family and friends, then this pop-up is your go-to destination. The Sea Containers London X Plastic Freedom pop-up will sell a wide variety of items, from limited-edition Self Care Company X Plastic Freedom candles and specially curated grooming gift sets to Christmas sock sets and brass and wood Christmas tree decorations.

A sustainable gift-wrapping station will be setup within the space, where guests can either bring in their own items to be wrapped or have items purchased on the day wrapped for them using recycled, hand-printed paper, boxes and hessian bows.

Christmas at Brixton Village
London’s most diverse and vibrant market, Brixton Village, has a really exciting line-up of events, and has been kitted out with full Christmas sparkle, pop-up street food in partnership with Street Food Union, and even a specially designed Instagram Mural for visitors to capture their perfect Christmas moment. As well as all of this, there is a really great line-up of festive music performances (detailed below), both this weekend and during upcoming weekends in December. There are also some great Christmas deals such as Salon’s Christmas Banquet, raclette and champagne at Champagne & Fromage, and Lost in Brixton’s festive drinks packages.

CHRISTMAS FOOD MENUS IN LONDON

This festive season, Perrier-Jouët and the Intercontinental Park Lane will launch an exclusive Afternoon Tea experience, inspired by the classic English carol “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”. Featuring an array of delicious sweet and savoury favourites including partridge and pear pithivier and sandwiches such as smoked salmon, roast beef, chicken and beetroot. There is also winter spiced scones, chocolate tart, and traditional Christmas mince pies – all enjoyed alongside a glass of perfectly chilled Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut or Belle Epoque. It’s available daily (from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm) until the 5th of January, 2020.

There is no better way to kick-start your celebrations than at Champagne and Fromage, a shop and bistro in Brixton Village, which will be offering customers a special offer on raclette, the perfect accompaniment to a well-deserved glass of fizz. Champagne and Fromage offers an Authentic French menu with a vast selection of award-winning grower Champagne and over 50 soft and hard artisan cheeses.

Harry’s Bar, James Street is launching a limited edition ‘Golden toadstool,’ a festive take on its most popular dessert. The decadent funghi encompasses a dark chocolate dome encasing iced vanilla parfait with blackberries, salted caramel, and toasted hazelnuts.

A Christmas cuddle in a bun. Blacklock have created the ultimate ‘Christmas burger,’ featuring Philip Warren Turkey thighs rubbed in a mix of Christmas spices, served in a brioche bun with Blacklock sausage and onion patty, middlewhite bacon, cranberry ketchup, and greens.

Big Mamma have gone all out with the ‘Christmas Tree’ pizza. Layered with Mozzarella di bufala, broccoli-parmigiano cream, topped with crunchy potatoes, stracciatella and ‘burned’ tomatoes. This one-off special will be available at both Circolo and Gloria.

Looking for the spot for your festive get-together? Whether you’re planning a meal with friends, a family celebration, or you want to take over the whole space for a blowout lunch or dinner, Salon in Brixton will be providing festive cheer with a set Christmas Banquet Menu for groups of 6 or more. Dishes will include indulgent options such as Aylesbury duck with celeriac and pickled walnut, and Caramelised pear with chestnut and sour cream.

Wahaca’s unique ‘Mince Pie Empanada’ has made a comeback and this year it’s infused with Mezcal and served with Brandy Butter ice cream. This, alongside the ‘Turkey & Stuffing Taquito special with Grilled Hispi Cabbage,’ means Wahaca’s festive menu will be an unmissable treat this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS WORKSHOPS IN LONDON

Gift Wrap Printmaking Workshop with Laurie Avon (free), Thursday and Saturdays, December 2019
Illustrator Laurie Avon is leading one-hour rubber stamp printmaking workshops at Islington Square this festive season where participants can create their own personalised gift wrapping paper to take home. Using simple tools and a take-home approach, Laurie’s workshops celebrate the evolution of stamps – from a historic symbol of authority, to a playful means of expression.

Christmas Leftovers and Fermentation – 11 & 12 December @
Cub
Hoxton bar and restaurant Cub has released this month’s Fermentation Masterclasses with a festive twist.  Taking place in ‘The Cub Cave’ a subterranean bar beneath Cub, the events are hosted by Dr Johnny Drain, one of the world’s leading experts in fermentation. Guests will learn how to make their own ferments from leftovers whilst enjoying tasty drinks and snacks from the Cub team. Tickets can be purchased here

Wreath-making workshops @ Christmas at The Yards, 28 November, 5  & 14 December
Christmas wreath-making workshops with the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, priced at £5 and with proceeds going to the charity Action for Children – 5.30pm

Festive craft workshops @ Christmas at The Yards @ Christmas at The Yards // 28 November, 5  & 14 December
Make Kirigami cards, learn how to write beautiful hand lettered gift tags or create pop-up cards and paper baubles as part of a series of creative Christmas craft sessions – 5-7pm & 12-1:30pm

So that’s it for the top treats and attractions you should definitely indulge in this season, but it’ll be over so quickly, I better get started researching next year’s list soon!