Category Archives: London

London - Seen & Done

Things To Do in London: the Horniman Museum and Gardens

Central London in summer is my own personal little corner in hell. Just like many other major cities, London is starting to burst at the seams with overtourism, and to catch a peaceful moment I’ve started avoiding the major attractions – instead I head South of the river, to the far far East or even to the West!

One of those recent stops for me was re-visiting the Horniman Museum and Gardens – a quirky museum in Forest Hill which houses a lot of stuffed animals, musical instruments from all around the world and African, South American and Siberian anthropology.

We owe the place to Frederick John Horniman, a Victorian tea trader and avid traveller who brought back curious things from around the world to Forest Hill to let people share in on his passion. I assume his partner and friends got tired of hearing how he got Wally the Walrus for the 20th time so he opened up his display to the public. As the collection grew and grew and attracted more visitors I imagine his wife wasn’t too excited with people wandering around her house and so they secured a nearby building that still houses the museum and gardens. To top it off, there’s also a butterfly house, an aquarium and a crazy golf course – sadly it wasn’t the one from Alice in Wonderland, but is still worth a shot.

It doesn’t take more than 1 hour to see everything, which leaves enough time to go up the hill for the amazing view over central London, see the gardens in bloom and grab some food at the Saturday Farmer’s Market for a picnic on the grass. The collections are a bit dry and leave a lot to the imagination, but it’s kind of charming in old fashioned way with Wes Anderson style fonts and pastel colours, and did I mention it’s (mostly) for free?

It’s a bit out of Central London in Zone 3, so it might not be the ideal hotspot for your first visit, but definitely hop on the bus/train if you are visiting London for a second or third time or love stuffed animals, dried insects and a bash on the drums in the music room.

Do you have any undiscovered museum gems?

London

SCOOP Exhibition: The Wonderful World of Ice Cream Pop-up

Ice-cream museums recently popped up in New York and Los Angeles and now SCOOP is in town to serve up its take on the idea at Gasholders in King’s Cross. What better way to escape London’s heatwave than a visit to a cool, refreshing and tasty ice cream pop up exhibition?

Unlike the exhibitions in the US, you won’t find over-styled art installations that beg to clog up your Instagram, but a more informative take on your favourite treat, such as the history of early ice cream, with one room dedicated to Agnes B. Marshall, the Godmother of the frozen desserts in Victorian age.

The other sugary highlights included chilling in the ice room, sniffing obscure ingredients making your own ice cream, inhaling vanilla ice-cream fog, exploring ice cream paraphernalia, sampling lots of free ice cream (including a glow in the dark soft serve!) and tasting some unique, historic flavours, like daffodill or water mint – which, even as ice-cream aficionado, I’ve never seen before.

Not bothered to pay £12? Here’s what you’re missing out on…

The exhibition runs til 30 September at The British Museum of Food near King’s Cross Station. Tickets are £12.

What’s the weirdest ice-cream flavour you’ve ever had?

London

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

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

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

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?