Category Archives: London

London

Lee Bul’s dystopian sci-fi playground @ Hayward Gallery

3rd June 2018

After being closed for a two-year refurbishment The Hayward Gallery is back in action and is showcasing the work of innovative South Korean artist Lee Bul – so it’s monster-like bodies, futuristic cyborgs and mirror mazes galore.

When it comes to modern art it’s the installations that do it for me, you know the one when you’re not sure if it’s a renovation or modern art. Bul’s work is definitely the latter and her work will whisk you away to different worlds filled with giant foil Zeppelins and immerse you in funhouse-style mirror mazes. That said, the exhibits sitting in large, bright open white gallery spaces didn’t match the tone and would have worked better in a darker environment with some moody music (BRB:majoring in art history, becoming a curator and making this happen – watch this (art) space!). One thing I really enjoyed was the storyboards showing the artist’s ideas developing, plus even little mini prototypes of the sculptures, was just refreshing to have the pieces explained visually as opposed to just the little text boxes.

Lee Bul: Crashing runs until 19 August 2018 and tickets start at £13. Also note the infinite mirror room that’s used in the promo material is beautiful, but be aware only the people are allowed in at a time and the place cramped.


Depending on how long you spend in the gift shop the visit will not take you longer than an hour. You might want to leave the ever-crowded Southbank area ASAP, but while you are nearby why not escape to The Queen Elizabeth Hall Room Garden – a hidden gem and a quiet getaway with a bar, riverside views and a green garden to explore, or eat something at the Southbank Centre Food Market – we’re talking tasty smells, tons of food on offer and a friendly atmosphere.

London - Seen & Done

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done In London That You Should Do Too

27th May 2018

Blondies Kitchen | 1 Kingly Court
Blondies Kitchen are taking over London with their cookies + milk combo and if you’ve been on social media this week you’ll know they just opened a new location on Kingly Court. Their cookies are perfectly soft, ready to melt in your mouth and there’s tons of flavours to choose from. Try the white chocolate and biscuit butter with a glass of milk or go for a soft serve with cookies crumble and/or Nutella crunch for the perfect dairy/baked tastebud pleaser.
 
Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret | 9a St Thomas St
It looks like something out of Harry Potter, tucked away in the attic of an old church with potion-like herb collections with hand-written descriptions of their medicinal uses and apothecary bottles that will make your bathroom cabinets look so 2018. It also houses the only surviving 19th century operating theatre where performances are held, plus there’s a collection of torture-style instruments. So happy things have moved on since then.
Hampton Court Palace | Molesey
Grand tudor palaces, gardens in bloom and a maze you need to get lost in… you can read all about my day of exploring Hampton Court Palace and its grounds here. And if that doesn’t get you on the train to the south west London then I have failed as a blogger.
I might not get Harry Potter tickets until 2024, but in the mean time I should watch another play here and there to stay cultured. Last year I saw a Shakespeare comedy at the Globe and this year I was ready for a tragedy. This version of the Scottish king gone mad tale is set in a dystopian world (I’m thinking Brexit aftermath) and includes a lot of beards (‘MacBeard’ would have been a much better title) … so if you like watching beards and drama while sipping on some fine red then this might be for you.
Chip’Sir | 21 Cranbourn Street
It was only a matter of time til the Dutch cuisine made its way over to the UK…but we’ll have to wait for the traditional ‘hutspot’ dish or the herring with raw onions for the moment! Until that joyous day there is the chips hole in the wall just off Leicester Square that sells what we Dutch call Flemish fries: thick-cut and double fried makes them crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside. And you know they are Dutch when they offer satay sauce. I’d like to see them a bit more crispy next time though and I need to ask what the name is all about as well.

London - Seen & Done

Exploring Lesnes Abbey Ruins

2nd May 2018

Medieval ruins and bluebell forests? 30 Minutes from Central London? Sign me up!

This year I promised myself I’d really delve into London’s unseen secrets, and that’s how I found myself crossing Abbey Road… but not the one you’d think! It was less 70s album cover and more abbey ruins, woods with bluebells and more dogs than you can shake a stick at.

No, you haven’t been transported to the set of yet another grim medieval fantasy show, this is actually within easy reach of London and you can explore to your heart’s content. What I loved was imagining the monks going about their daily lives. While most of the walls have long ago fallen, the abbey layout remains intact so it’s like starting a Sims game – wondering how you’d decorate and which room went where. Otherwise, the main activities I saw were playing hide and seek, family picnics and dog walking; there’s also a cute cafe selling lovely slices of banana bread.

Here’s the TL:DR take on the history – the abbey was originally built around 1180 and everything was fine and dandy until Henry VIII couldn’t keep it in his pants so all the monks and monasteries had to go. 

I can’t believe the place hasn’t been transformed in apartments. At the moment it’s 30 minutes from London Bridge, but once Crossrail opens you’ll make it to Abbey Woods in 12 minutes from central London. That’s basically prime location.

If/when the apartments come I hope the mulberry tree survives – planted by King James I (well, his entourage), it looks so old it makes Pocahontas’s Grandmother Willow look like Baby Groot.

Once you’re all abbey-ed out you should explore the Lesnes Abbey Woods – ancient woodland carpeted with bluebells and other natural wonders – you’ll forget you’re in a huge city until you accidentally walk into someones backgarden.

Do you have any historic city secrets you can share?

London

Exploring Hampton Court Palace

8th April 2018

If you are not a local you probably know of Windsor or Buckingham Palace, but there is a little place called Hampton Court Palace. While the queen doesn’t keep her toothbrush there this doesn’t mean you should skip it.

Though the level of freedom to explore wasn’t as good as at Dover Castle, there is a lot to see and do. I’ll spare you the history (there’s lots to read and a audio tour), but let’s just say a lot of stuff happened in the last 500 years, even more that you saw in Wolf Hall, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Tudors.

Follow me today and explore the best spots to explore at Hampton Court Palace.
Henry VIII’s Palace
Loved seeing where Henry VIII and his wives hung out. The Great Hall was a spectacle and I enjoyed the table setting with the history of the dishes, but it didn’t beat the one in Oxford (Potter for life). The Chapel Royal was a peaceful hideaway … but for me it was the ‘entertainment’ room with lounge pillows all over the place, board games and a stained glass window that hit the spot.
Willem III Apartments
My Dutch homeboy and his wife Mary hung out here for a bit in the 1690s and asked the guy who designed St. Paul’s to pimp up the place and dazzle them with new ceiling paintings. The group of French school kids I saw were definitely impressed, but I really loved the fact that one of them was geeking out on history but trying to play it cool.
Kitchens
I had heard so many stories about the kitchens but they were sadly closed for refurbishment. The kitchen gift shop it still open though. The wine cellar was #goals and would the centrepiece on my vision board if I had one.
The Gardens and Grounds
The Privy Garden was where I imagine Henry would impress his visitors, courtiers and mistresses and now obviously commoners like us. I loved seeing the adults walking around in awe while the younger kids were having much more fun playing with pebbles. The most entertaining bit was spotting a swan trying to follow his friend through a fence in the canal and not quite managing it. It seemed really embarrassed about this … it seems even the most elegant of us all can fail at something sometimes.
 
Public Park and Maze (!!!)
For somewhere that you can enter for free the public park section (the Wilderness and surroundings) is very pretty and well kept. But most importantly let’s talk MAAAZE!
The amount of times I’ve rushed to a garden ‘maze’ to be confronted by child- friendly bushes only a metre tall is sadly far too many than I’d like to admit. But Hampton Court Palace’s maze stands a mighty 3 meters, so not cheating for you! I got lost and loved it, plus it’s a great secret photo spot too.

You can get to Hampton Court Palace on the train from Waterloo station. The journey takes around 35 minutes and the train station is a short walk to the palace. If you want to take it to the next level, arrive at the palace by riverboat to channel your inner Henry or Anne. Just remember the boat takes around 3 hours from Westminster pier.

 

London

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About London But Were Afraid to Ask II

27th March 2018

Every year around Easter, summer and Christmas my inbox explodes with questions from people who found my blog and want to know more about things to do and see in London, which always surprises me as the internet is so full of recommendations, but I’m happy to share the most frequently asked ones.

The best neighbourhood to stay?

The closer to Central London the more expensive it gets, but the further out the more you’ll pay for travel. If it’s a short trip and you don’t want to travel too much then consider paying more for a hotel. I would say zone 2/3 to save money on travelcards and travel time. For Air BnB look at areas closer to the famous one. Camden too expensive? Try Kentish Town! Shoreditch too steep? Look at Bethnal Green instead. Hostels can be found everywhere but some of my faves are The Clink (my very London Hostel), the Generator and St Christopper’s Inn.

What dessert or sweet treat would you recommend for someone visiting London for the first time and where?

Afternoon tea perhaps? Sketch is worthwhile, but I can imagine that’s not in everyone’s budget so you could check GroupOn for cheaper options. Marks & Spencers also offer afternoon tea at its big branches. My go-to treat is a Signature Slice from Timberyard, with GAIL’s carrot cake a close second, and pretty much any ice-cream from Chin Chin Labs.


What’s the best time of the year to visit the city?

I notice more tourists in the summer and around Christmas and that’s probably for a reason. And who am I to say anything else?

What are your recommendations of things to do in the London in the evening?

For me personally it’s watching whatever show I’m binging at the moment, but I imaginee that’s not what you’re in London for. But I love doing the walk from the London Eye to Tower Bridge as you get to see the famous sights in a different light. You can go see a movie, try your luck at a music venue, hope there’s a late night museum event on, chow down at a night street food market, check if there is a (pub) quiz anywhere around you or just go for a pint.

What top London attractions are worth paying for?

For me personally it was worth it paying to see a play Shakespeare’s Globe and visiting View From The Shard. The London Eye...not so much. You can get away with doing London on the cheap by sticking to the museums.

If I was visiting London for a weekend and wanted to have one brunch at the best most typical place, what do you recommend?

Hmm typical? How about traditional. A Sunday roast at a local pub? A Sunday Roast consists of meat, roast potatoes, gravy, roast vegetables and the delight known as Yorkshire Pudding (hint: it’s not pastry). I also think the brunch menu at Aster (Victoria) and German Gymnasium (King’s Cross) are great value for the money. They are more likely to have a queue so keep that in mind when planning your day.
maltby street market london

What the best food street market to visit?

I don’t know about the best, but my all time favourites are Maltby Street and Broadway Market as they are always fun and vibrant without getting too crowded.

Where would I find some great vintage shops?

I loved the East End Thrift Shop and all of my best buys came from that place, but they recently closed and sometimes have a pop up show. Beyond Retro in both Camden and Brick Lane and Rokit in Covent Garden have relatively ok priced vintage clothes.

Where can we find awesome vegetarian food in London?

I’m not a vegetarian, more a flexitarian so I don’t really hunt these down. The few veggie places I’ve been didn’t leave a big impression and often felt like they only had one seasoning in their spice rack. Most places in London have a vegetarian option which has never let me or my taste buds down. However I have it on good advice from a v. friend that long-running organic vegetarian diner Mildreds in Soho, The Gate chain and serve-yourself salad spot Tibits off Regent Street are all worth popping into.


Where can I find the best street art in London?

The most obvious one is in and around Brick Lane and Shoreditch where you’ll find all the spots that you’ve seen on Instagram. You’ll find the famous David Bowie just across from Brixton Station and I’ve also encountered nice examples while walking around in Camden, Kentish Town and Hackney.

What is the most important thing I need to know about London for a first time visit?

Stand on the right when on an escalator – especially during rush hour – and always ALWAYS! let people out of the tube carriage before going in. Also please don’t be so loud.

If you could eat at any one place in London for dinner, without regards to worry about price or reservations, where are you going?

Probably Duck & Waffle as it’s such a hassle to get to and if I could revisit one for the over the top experience it would be L’Atelier Robuchon.

Which is your favourite location in London from where you can see the entire city? Would you rate any of it better than London Eye?

When I lived in Kentish Town I loved walking to Hampstead Heath – it’s a green oasis and perfect to get away from the crowded city life and enjoy the view. But I imagine you might be looking for something more central, so why not go for the 360 degree panorama view from The Switch House at Tate Modern (free) or Sky Garden (also free, if you manage to get a reservation) or if you have budget, St. Paul’s Cathedral or View From The Shard are worth it too. I’m not a big fan of the London Eye and one of the most read posts on here here is actually the post on why I don’t like it. It might a fun experience, but don’t do it for the view.

Where would you say is the best breakfast place in London?

In Central London I like the Black Penny in Covent Garden/Holborn, followed by the nearby NY/Parisian style Balthazar. And if you are going South then Duck Egg Cafe at the Prince of Wales in Brixton or the pancakes at Three Eight Four. I always see a queue outside the Breakfast Club venues, but I’m not too much of a fan and prefer the Diner when it comes to chain breakfast options.
 

What are some of the non-touristy and less explored places to check out in London?

It needs some planning ahead of time, but the Hidden Underground Tours are great. If you have the time go and explore the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace park or one of these alternative things to do in London.

What’s your favourite day trip from London?

I’m going to mention the obvious ones first – as they are popular for a reason: Brighton for the hippy seaside vibe, Oxford for discovering the places that influenced your favourite books, and the charmingly traditional and quaint Leigh On Sea.
Did I miss anything? Ask away!