Category Archives: Seen & Done

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 - Seen & Done

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done in London That You Should Do To: February Recap

London Southbank February 2019

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?!

CAYA
Brixton
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.

IKEA
Greenwich
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.

Who is ready for March?

London - Seen & Done

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done in London That You Should Do Too: January Recap

Here are some awesome and less awesome things I’ve seen and done in London during what was the LONGEST month ever.

LUMBERJACK
Camberwell//Peckham
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.

SKANDIUM
Marylebone
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.

How was YOUR first month of the year?

London - Seen & Done

Walk This Way: Three Walks To Take Around London

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?

Thames Path

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.

Still need convincing?

London - Seen & Done

Museum Musings: Tate Britain

Who doesn’t love visiting a museum? I know it’s of my favourite rainy Saturday morning activities and now the season has started I’ll be doing another round of museums and seeing which one is truly worth your visit. I want to make it as fact based as possible, so I’ve opted for a traditional grading system.

I’m looking at the 4 things that are most important to me: location, exhibits, value for money and the layout. So, how easy is it to find your way around? Do you need a map? Does how they’ve arranged all the exhibits make sense or leave you more confused than when you entered? Is it far from the city centre and can I combine it with a visit to something else? To top it all off, there are extra points to be had for places with a wow factor.

Kicking off with the Museum that’s been the home to British art since 1897, it’s Tate Modern’s overlooked and dusty uncle: Tate Britain.

 

Location – 15/20
Tate Britain is located in Pimlico, not really a must-see London neighbourhood. Though I did see a lot of people with carry-on suitcases so it might be an Airbnb nirvana? It’s about a 10 minute walk from the Pimlico Station or Vauxhall Station in Zone 1.

Pretty quick to get to, but since it’s a bit out of the center and there isn’t really another activity you can combine it with I’d say it loses some points.

Exhibits – 10/20
Holds a permanent British collection, offering an overview of paintings, photographs and sculptures by the island’s finest. It has all the big names but not the world-famous works you might know for them – it’s like the the B-sides of an album.

Value For Money – 20/20
Like most museums in London, anyone can browse the permanent collection for free while temporary exhibitions start at £13, which is very fair for the capital .

Layout – 10/ 20
To make sure you don’t miss anything, do grab a map as it’s easier to navigate. The placement of the paintings is hit and miss: in some rooms there would be 20 crowding a wall, while others would have a lot less, making it feel inconsistent. 

Wow Factor – 10/20
Points for the gorgeous neo-classical portico entrance, the dome ceiling and for that forgotten corner that’s left from how the building used to be in the 90s.

Total: 65/100 points. It’s a reasonable enough art museum, where you’ll have lots to enjoy, but it falls down for its lack of big-name pieces and it doesn’t have the grand magic of its newer, hipper brother on the South Bank – Tate Modern.