Category Archives: London

London - travel

To Shoot Or Not To Shoot + Where To Take Guiltfree Photos In London

From Notting Hill in London and Rue Cremieux in Paris to Rainbow Row in Savannah, residents everywhere are complaining about people disturbing their day-to-day lives while holding photoshoots outside their front door. We’ve all been guilty of a snap or two in front of a colourful house, street art or cute doors. But who’s actually crossed the line and walked into someone’s porch, done a yoga pose leaning against a front door or even filmed a dance routine? And while it’s not exactly someone’s house, is trampling through flower fields for that perfect pixie photoshoot really worth it?

Is this an increasing phenomenon? We can all agree that articles like 12 Instagram Photo Spots in Paris That You Have To Visit, 15 Best Places to Take Pictures in London and 7 Pretty Cafes in New York are more and more ever-present, whether on blogs, or even bigger sites like CN Traveller and Visit London. I even recently read that 37% of Dutch people look for Instagrammable places to visit during a city trip – that’s quite a lot!

Now, of course this isn’t a new thing, remember picture postcards, seaside photo boards, and of course photographs in general (we’ve all got our horror stories of Auntie and Uncle bringing their holiday snaps to share), plus famous pop culture photo spots like the Beatles on Abbey Road and any movie set in Paris, New York or London. Today, the latest flavour is Instagram or your favourite social media platform of the month.

So why do we all want to snap ourself while on our travels? Is it for the memory, immortalising that moment, or for the likes? Either way, layouts, arranging people and composition can be a tough cookie to crack, especially if you’re in a bit of a rush, meaning it’s often so much easier to replicate something than to think of one yourself. Have you ever found a nice photo spot and suddenly found quite a few other people want to join and see what the fuss is all about?

William Shewell Ellis via Eastman Museum

This is definitely something Kodak must have realised when they introduced Kodak Picture Spots in the 1920s. Interestingly, the Kodak signs started as roadside markers across the US highlighting general points of interest to photograph, which helped popularise picture-taking behaviour. Then they found their way into Disney theme parks, national parks and historic landmarks. But now we’ve gone from helpful signs saying ‘Why not take a photo here?’ on landmarks and tourist sites to ‘No photos allowed’ to protect against people’s houses getting a tad overrun by influencers. So what’s the answer? Shooting-guilt free I reckon.

instagram photo spot Covent Garden London


Want to keep your shoot guilt-free?
How about keeping these in mind?


Covent Garden is frontrunner when it comes to curated photo opps that don’t invade people’s porches. It recently started off with flower-decorated swinging benches, but now includes seasonal curated corners as well as the Covent Garden Infinity Chamber, as well as sponsored sections which pop up from time to time. If you want all of these to yourself go out and explore it on Christmas Day, when it’s all empty.

The red phone boxes are the ultimate London landmark and as no one uses phones anymore, you’ll free as guilt-free as a zero-calorie ice-cream (but beware their aroma if you step inside!). You can find the famous red ones in Covent Garden (the market, and nearby Broad Court), Bloomsbury (Byng Place), Parliament Square and Smithfield Meat Market. There’s also a sponsored phone booth in Spitalfields Market that’s designed and placed with the aim for everyone to take a photo and display the big DW in the background.

Street art murals are perfect backdrops if you’re looking for something colourful. Some of the best examples include the Redemption Bar angel wings near Old Steet, the colourful Lakwena mural right behind Liberty in Carnaby Street, or pretty much all of Brick Lane. Don’t forget to credit the creator when posting these, it’s the least you can do.

For an overdose of photo-spot cuteness head to cafes like created-for-the-Gram Peggy Porchen, flowery heaven Dalloway Terrace or the pink perfection that is Sketch. They’ve built their identity around creating the perfect photo setting. So get yourself those overpriced scones or eclairs and take as many shots as you like.

Shall we make make an unwritten pact to not disturb, distress or bother people (or nature) in their natural habitats, even if it means missing out on that perfect snap?

London - Museums

Museum Musings: British Museum


When I first went to the British Museum I was surprised because instead of learning about the history of Great Britain it was more like learning about the things the British had nicked during their travel expeditions…however, it did grow on me and now I think it’s actually one of my favourite ones in London.

And I’m not the only one who rates it highly – it’s even the number one thing to do in London on Tripadvisor. But do not fear, I went in with a critical eye and put it to the Museum Musing test. Here we go.

Location – 15/20
The museum is located in Bloomsbury and nearby underground stations are,Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street. As it’s near Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Holborn you can easy combine it with other galleries, museums, food or shopping.

Exhibits – 15/20
It’s go everything from pottery to coins and mummies. And from stones to watches and more stones. Even if you hate museums you’ll find something to enjoy. Yes, the lay-out of some of the rooms is outdated and some are cluttered, but overall it has its charm.

Value For Money 20/20
Well … it’s free! And there is a lot of it.

Wow Factor – 15/20
What isn’t wow-ing about British Museum?! From the entrance with its high pillars to the grand Great Court with the glass ceiling and everything in-between.

Layout – 10/20
It’s basically a maze, a fun maze that is, unless you’re in a hurry and want to go to a specific section. Best is to just go with the flow, follow or walk away from the crowds and see where you end up, you won’t be disappointed.

Minus Credit – 2
Usually this is where a museum can get extra credits but the British Museum is getting some points deducted for its vague second entrance. I get they need to spread things out for safety reasons, but they need to put up clear signs if they direct you away from the main entrance due to it being too crowded.

Total: all in 73/100 points. The British Museum should be on top of your list if you’re into seeing the rest of the world’s history without having to leave London.

London - Seen & Done

March Recap: Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done in (and near) London That You Should Do Too

March has come and gone and I’ve been trying to make the most of my weekends and evenings. Here is what I have been up to.

BRIXTON VINTAGE KILO SALE
Brixton
Every second weekend of the month in Brixton and third weekend in Brick Lane are filled with shirts, blazers and dresses. If you are looking for on trend items like slip dresses, animal print or neon this isn’t the place, but as it’s fairly priced for £15 for 1kg of clothes you don’t have too much to lose.

CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS @ V&A
Kensington
Despite the hassle to get hold of the tickets I loved it! It’s sold out, but here is how you can still get tickets and enjoy all the dresses you’ll never be able to own.

HALL’S PLACE
Bexley
You’ve guessed that I can’t get enough of historic manors, houses and mansions. Hall’s Place proved to be another good pick where I learned about the people who lived in the house from the 16th century onwards and all the changes they made to the place, including the US soldiers who rocked up during the Second World War and stole more than a few hearts. The gardens and greenhouse were a great escape too and I loved the topiary in the shape of animals too.

RED HOUSE
Bexleyheath
Another thing you can visit in Bexleyheath is the former house of William Morris (you’ll know his textile prints even if the name doesn’t ring a bell) where you’ll find a selection of wall paintings, stained glass and tapestries that were created by Morris and his art friends all hidden across a lovely period house.

TWO TEMPLE PLACE
Embankment
I have shared my thoughts on this Gothic revival heaven here. You can visit the place and see the John Ruskin exhibition until 22nd April for FREE.

CHARTERHOUSE
Clarkenwell/Farringdon
I had a tour through the Charterhouse building complex that has been around since the 14th century and served as burial ground, monastery, school and housing charity. It’s so interesting to see that these are still around in London after so long.

MUSEUM OF ORDER OF ST JOHN
Clerkenwell/Farringdon
Despite being fascinated by the gates for years I only popped into the Museum of Order of St John a few weeks ago. They did a great job showing in an interactive way how the order started and what they do now. I’m annoyed that I missed the tour, so I definitely want to go back to see the historic rooms at St John’s Gate and the Priory Church & Crypt.

SIR JOHN SOANE MUSEUM
Holborn
One of those places that I’ve walked past a dozen of times when I worked in Holborn. One of those houses is the former home and office of John Soane, an architect and art collector. He designed it to display the art works and artefacts that he collected during his lifetime. It comes with the boujiest breakfast room, cellar to third floor ceiling statues and a sarcophagus carved from the inside and outside!

Wasn’t for me

LEON
I gave up on Leon a long time ago, as everything tastes the same, just a lingering Leon aftertaste after every bite. Still I wanted to try the new meat free love burger and just like with everything at Leon, it was … just ok. The patty itself wasn’t too bad, but all the extras were too much all together and the bun was a bit inspirationless and not worth going back for seconds.

BARRIO
2 for £12 cocktails that have names like Wonky Donky, Malibu Stacey and Ram Berry Jam. But sadly the cocktails were more like mocktails and should have been priced like that. The jalapeño poppers were actually ok, but not good enough to make me want to return.

Now spring has arrived and that means burning all your 200 denier tights, making the most of that extra daylight in the morning and getting your life back from the SAD monsters. I’m looking forward to what Q2 will bring. What are your April plans?

| FEBRUARY RECAP | JANUARY RECAP

London - Seen & Done

Hidden London: Two Temple Place

I do love a good historic house and thought I’d seen all the best ones in London already, but how wrong I was! I went in for the Ruskin exhibition and walked out as a Gothic revival fan. Two Temple Place has it all! Mahogany carvings: check. Grand staircase: check. Stained glass windows and ceiling: check. A giant fireplace: check! Marbled floors: check! I mean look at it!

Just when you think the stained-glass ceiling is as impressive as it gets, you’ll walk into the Great Hall to spot not one but two glass stained windows: one designed for sunset and the other for sunrise. You might also recognise The Great Hall from The BBC’s The Bodyguard where it stood in for House of Commons reading room. The Mahogany carvings and golden details also continue in this space.

So who can we thank for this beautiful place? William Waldorf Astor, an American attorney, politician, businessman, and newspaper publisher (also the same guy who restored Hever Castle) who bought and renovated the place and used it as his office space. I can think of worse places to work from.

The place is only open to the public during Open House and their annual exhibition, which is happening now until 22nd April. So you have little less than a month to make it down to Thames Embankment and see for yourself. And don’t forget to go to the Ladies toilets on the first floor … you’ll be in for a treat.

London

How To Buy Tickets To the Sold Out Christian Dior Exhibition

Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London

Following its massive success in Paris back in 2017/2018, Christian Dior’s must-see exhibition has finally arrived in London at the The Victoria & Albert Museum , with some additional and never seen before pieces just for London! As soon as booking was possible, the tickets for the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams were sold out almost instantly – but then a glimmer of hope arrived last week when they announced an extension for another 7 weeks with more tickets, but again they were gone before you could even load up the booking website!

Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London

All this means there are three two options for you to witness it:

1. Become a member.
2. Queue up and see if you can grab some of the tickets they release daily on first-come, first-served basis.
3. Steal someone’s ticket

If you go with option 2, you’ll be queuing early morning at the museum’s main entrance on Cromwell Road. To give you an idea: I got there at 08:15 on a Saturday and was the 26th in line. I cannot 100% guarantee if 08:15 is the best time to arrive, as there are a few things you have to factor in on a daily basis – the weather wasn’t too great so I can imagine less people were eager to head out, and earlier in the week they had released tickets for the extended dates, meaning it was probably a less crowded day.

Around 09:30 a staff member will appear and hand out ticket numbers to those queuing, then when the doors open at 10:00 you go inside and purchase the actual tickets (£22) for the available timeslots they have at the ticket desk. I saw on Twitter that during a random weekday they gave out 100+ tickets; on the Saturday I went there were 58 tickets and there were well over 100 people waiting many of whom were sadly left empty handed.

Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London

With your tickets finally in hand you can head to the Sainsbury Gallery, but make sure you go on time because soon be joining another queue. For your reference I waited for 50 minutes in that one. Once you’ve gone through the final ticket check downstairs the queuing hasn’t quite ended…if it’s busy, you may be waiting a bit more to see the dresses as it can get quite cramped in there…Welcome to the Christian Queueor.

Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London

What I Didn’t Like
Because it was crowded you never really got the chance to get immersed in the moment. You had to stop and wait for people, read and then move on as the next person was either panting at your neck, holding their phone in front of you or subtly nudging.

They didn’t make use of the amazing space of the actual V&A and instead crammed the exhibition in downstairs in the Sainsbury Gallery. It felt dusty and old fashioned at times, without much innovation. I can only compare it to this Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition I saw in Rotterdam which was imaginative and well presented with mannequins that had faces projected and who randomly started singing, this just felt a bit meh simple and reliant on the exhibits rather the space as a whole.

It’s relatively short and the exit came as a surprise. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me so I waited at the exit point for about 10 minutes and there were a lot ‘oh is this it?’ and then people leaving and some even heading back in.

Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London   Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London
Christian Dior Designer Of Dreams Victoria & Albert London (12)

What I Liked
Obviously seeing all the garments up close, it was also a bonus that most weren’t hidden behind glass boxes, so you see the details and craftsmanship that go into couture pieces. Getting a sneak peek of Dior’s sketches and fabric swatches.

I also liked that it wasn’t all chronological and instead broken down in themes that featured garments from all the different designers and how they added something to the fashion house but all kept the famous hourglass silhouettes at the forefront. Seeing the same shapes and styles come back time after time reminded you that every trend comes back, so make sure you keep that leopard skirt you bought for the next round!

The ball room, oh the ballroom! The big finale. I mean look at that last photo.

So was it worth the queuing? All in all yes … as it’s not often you get the chance to see such wondrous clothing up close and personal, so stick with in and enjoy.

The exhibition now closed, but it’s moving to Kunstmuseum in The Hague next year (10 October 2020 till 28 February 2021) which makes it a great excuse to head there for a city trip. You can buy tickets here.