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
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
Between a trip to Basque Country and a weekend in Hever I still managed to see and do enough things in London this February! Though I feel I’ve let myself down but being the only one who hasn’t had the first beer in a pub garden?!
Their mocha is Just. The. Best. It’s also a co-work space so if you ever need a place to work from in Brixton, make sure it’s Caya.
GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN! @ SOMERSET HOUSE Holborn
What I always love about the bigger exhibitions at Somerset House is that they are set out for both people who are long time fans as well as people who are new to the topic and they certainly pulled it off here again. I loved stepping into the world of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and co and seeing objects that inspired the comics, the pens and pencils Schulz used and just reading the many comics on display.
ROKA Holborn – various locations
When it comes to Japanese I usually opt for katsu curry or okonomiyaki over sushi. So when I have to go out of my comfort zone ROKA was a good pick. The place offers Japanese tapas style and is a great option if you’re looking to try a variety of flavours over one meal: GO! But instead of going for a la carte try one of their cheaper fixed menus.
MELBA @ SABOY Strand
I don’t know much about eclairs and I don’t want to make any wild claims, but The Savoy’s Melba patisserie has by far the best ones in London. I can’t wait for an excuse to go and try some of their other pastries. Or try their ice-cream éclairs once we’re into the warmer months.
It was almost an urban myth: an IKEA in London with a focus on sustainability and with a rooftop terrace is finally here! And since it feels like a day out I feel it needs to be on this list. My very first visit didn’t cost me my relationship and the chair we assembled hasn’t collapsed. That’s always a win. Sadly the rooftop terrace wasn’t open on the day I went, so that might be put to a second test.
SOUTH LONDON GALLERY Camberwell//Peckham
If you are in the neighbourhood and you want to see some potentially up and coming artists then you might want to walk in. I found my oasis in the garden of the main building and their new contemporary art space in a former Fire Station (sadly without a pole).
MARIA SABINA Southbank
This Mexican at Southbank Food Market is serving a simple taco trio (chicken, beef and/or cactus) with the best hot salsa I’ve come across London.
Here are some awesome and less awesome things I’ve seen and done in London during what was the LONGEST month ever.
I usually go to Lumberjack because their mocha is Just. The. Best. If you’re hungry, get a slice of banana bread, a simple avocado toast or one of the ever-changing cakes on offer … heck, just get everything, plus one of their cute tote bags to go.
WELLCOME COLLECTION Bloomsbury
Ignoring the fact that this health/medical museum is located on one of London’s most polluted roads, this place is a nice breath of fresh air on the capital’s cultural scene. In addition to its permanent collection of medical history, this institution puts on some of the most thought-provoking exhibitions you’re likely to see.
SAN MARINO Brixton
You could walk past a place a thousand times before you actually walk in. I know, because I did when I was looking for a place for an English Breakfast in Brixton. If you are looking for a no fuss and cheap Full English breakfast this is the place to be. They also do vegetarian, vegan and even halal. Keeper!
WALLACE COLLECTION Marylebone
The Wallace Collection is a beautiful Instaworthy old mansion house filled to the brim with more 18th and 19th century paintings than you can imagine. But I won’t give away too much, as I’m putting together a proper post for my Museum Musings series.
DAUNT BOOKS Marylebone
You have seen this bookshop on every self-respecting Instafeed or on one of their iconic tote bags. Enter at your own risk! Depending on your level of impulse control, you might want to ration yourself as it’s hard to leave this place without picking up everything for your bookshelf.
If I had money to burn it would be at Skandium, a Nordic design & furniture retailer, with everything from Moomin cups to sofas and chairs you’ll never want to leave.
But not everything can be awesome, so here’s a heads up on what to avoid.
MILDREDS King’s Cross
With mock chicken burgers, soul bowls and smoked tofu, this vegetarian food paradise has got you sorted…or does it? I want to say I loved it, but it was too expensive for what you got. The Mac & Cheese was dry, the chips were inspirationless and the soul bowl was soo lemony that it ruined the other flavours. If I ever return it would be for the baclava type of dessert and their grilled anchovies.
HACKNEY FLEA MARKET Hackney
The maps and decorations looked amazing. The clothes were overpriced and mainly 70s lycra fabric vintage dresses and overworn jumpers! To top it off it was rush hour tube levels of crowdedness.
With everyone on Dryanuary, NOSpenduary or Vegananuary it’s so tempting to spend your weekends indoors binging whatever Netflix throws at you. But don’t give in yet! Why not take a walk, a ‘green’ walk that is. London is full to bursting with walking routes, many within easy reach with public transport. Here are three to consider this weekend.
Wimbledon Common – Richmond Park Walk
Living in London is great, but sometimes I’m just starving for greenery and a place to walk without carbon monoxide in my face, you know? Only 20 minutes away from Central London there is Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park, two large green spaces which can traversed together for a nice day out. Wimbledon Common feels a lot more wild, with lots of little paths and a sense of getting lost, while it features a lovely little Windmill (NL♥) and you even get to cut across golf courses and encounter a horse traffic light! When you make it to Richmond Park you can explore the Isabella Plantation, go up to Poet’s Corner and King Henry’s Mound, relax by the Pen Ponds and of course, catch some beautiful deers in action (if you’re lucky you might even see one taking a bath!). When you’ve seen enough green stuff for the day, you can head out of the Petersham or Richmond Gates for a stroll by the River Thames, part of Thames Path major walking route.
Still need convincing?
This 128 km route lines the River Thames all the way from Hampton Court in the west to the River Darent in the east, with sections split between the north and south side banks. There’s a lot to see and do along the route, with highlights such as Hampton Court Palace, Parliament, Kew Gardens, London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Old Royal Naval College, the O2, Canary Wharf, Thames Barrier, and a lot lot more. One of my favourite stretches is the old industrial areas that are found between the Thames Barrier and the O2, with massive cranes and industrial materials, some still being used. If you feel a bit cheeky you can make use of the TfL Riverboats to get a different persective along London’s major river, plus it’s also a bit faster than your old feet.
Still need convincing?
Green Chain Walk
They say you don’t know South-East London til you’ve done the Green Chain Walk. Alright, you got me, no one’s said that, but they really should. This hodgepodge of little routes goes all the way from weird dinosaur models of Crystal Palace Park to the Clockwork Orange film location of Thamesmead, just on the River Thames. The routes can be a bit hit and miss, as there’s often a quite a bit of walking along roads, but there’s definitely gems to find here and it’s especially magical if you don’t know the areas, and feel like your exploring a hidden route with the only clues being little signposts every so often to guide you on your way. My particular highlights were the Lesnes Abbey Ruins and Woods, Oxlea Woods with Severndroog Castle, plus the route by Eltham Palace, which is a must-see in its own right.
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