Life Lately: Exploring London, and Finding Good Things

So, since I’ve been a little on and off recently with this blogging malarkey, there are a few things I’ve been up to recently that I haven’t shared, so thought I’d do a little summary post for you all. I’ve been exploring and found some lovely new places around London to head to this summer. All these photo’s are just some snapshots I took quickly on my iphone, the kind of one that you take, and eventually gets deleted (because at the end of the day, there are only so many photo’s of wine a girl needs) so what better place to store them than on here.

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Wine and Puppy’s

Less of a discovery more of just an excellent thing. But sipping on Rose whilst sat outside with a puppy at your feet…bliss.

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The London Riviera 

This fun little pop-up is sat right outside Boris Johnson’s office at More London. It has cocktails, coffee and food, and lots of cute little stripey summer outdoors bed furniture things (you know what I mean) to lie down on and relax if you’ve had a long day shopping or walking in the summer sun. There are also flamingo tables. Yes, that’s right, I said Flamingo tables. Find one. grab a cocktail or coffee depending on your mood and possibly the time of day, and *ahhh* relaxation in the city at it’s most kitsch.

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Eating Ice Cream 

Nothing beats Ice cream when it’s summer in London, and if it comes in a waffle cone then I’m pretty much sorted for the day. This beautiful stuff by the Benugo cafe in Hyde Park was pretty special, and beats a Mr Whippy any day. (I did post about my trip to Hyde Park here if you want more ducks, and summer fun!)

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The Rum Kitchen

What a discovery. I’ve always been a fan of Kingly Court in a kind of walk through or sit and eat a sandwich on the benches, but haven’t really been paying close attention to it. And my word has that place gone through a bit of a transformation. It’s now a thriving little hub of cute restaurants, bars and shops and well worth a visit. We picked the rum kitchen as destination of choice, and all the cocktails (all rum based – unsurprisingly) were gorgeous, and a little bit different from the usual too. Plus sitting in the window and looking out at this view, as the sun sets is a pretty lovely way to spend an evening.

What do you think? Have you made any new discoveries in your city recently?

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Afternoon Tea at The Wallace Collection

Tea and flowers

An Afternoon Treat

After seeing some beautiful photo’s of the restaurant at the Wallace Collection all over Instagram, I wanted to give it a go myself and booked a little treat. (Instagram fomo is real!).

So of we trotted up to Marylebone on a sunny sunday to see what all the fuss was about! I’d never been inside The Wallace Collection building before, let alone the restaurant, but it is a pretty special place! A glass roof, pink walls, and pretty tree’s give the illusion of being sat outside on a terrace in Italy (albeit eating traditional english afternoon tea…).

Me at Tea

Skip to the good bit…

Of course, nice environments, and pleasant staff are important, but I’m sure you’ll all agree with me when I say that the food is what matters the most right! Well, good news, it was lovely! Some of the sandwich flavours weren’t my cup of tea (s’cuse the pun) but I can be fussy sometimes (slash I just can’t cope with cold egg it’s seriously gross why was that ever invented!) and my company for the occasion scoffed them up quickly enough!

The scone’s were tasty – and the tiny cakes were not only especially cute, but also especially delicious! It’s hard to pick my favourite between the miniature Lemon Meringue Pie, and Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Heart!

Cake Stand

Tea pot and cakes

After the tea we had a look round the collection, tried on some armour (not kidding, you can do that!) and had a little look round at the art work on display! I’m not the hugest fan of galleries full of very old paintings…it felt a little pretentious, but I did enjoy looking at the special weaponry, and The Laughing Cavalier made me smile a lot! It’s definitely worth a visit, as it’s free to enter as well!

Then a wander round Marylebone, and some fantasy house shopping in estate agent windows was definitely called for! Myself, and guest both concluded that we were far to full for dinner. So at £17.50 per person, for the setting, service, location, and food I decided it was worth every penny for a well deserved occasional treat!

If you’d like to see what I wore for the occasion, check out my outfit post here!

 

 

 

Summer activities in London!

London

May is my favourite month in the city, for the following reasons:

  1. The temperature is just about right so the tubes aren’t too sweaty, but you aren’t too cold waiting at the bus stop.
  2. The evenings are lighter so you don’t feel the need to go to bed straight after dinner, and can actually GO OUT after work.
  3. We get not one, but TWO bank holiday weekends, and best of all,
  4. ALL THE FUN THINGS START HAPPENING!  I did a little round-up for you.

Open air Cinema’s. 

There is something pretty exciting about watching a film outside. It’s something that you can’t do at home unless you have a very impressive set-up so it always feels a little bit special.

There are so many great open-air cinemas in London – and around the country – in the summer months. Even free one’s. Last year, I saw the Truman Show at More London for free, sat outside with a view of Tower Bridge, and The Thames behind me and it was bloody well lovely.

There is a great selection now of companies running these kind of events, and venues all over the city, so see if anything takes your fancy.

Check out some of these options: Rooftop film club, The Luna Cinema, Film 4 Summer Screen, Pop-up Screens.

Outdoor Eating/Food Events

Everyone loves a bit of Borough Market all year round, but there is no doubt that Al Fresco dining/(eating on the street) becomes a lot easier when the sun warms up.

Lewisham Model Market has opened in the last few weeks, and I am excited. A disused, and pretty derelict 1950’s indoor/outdoor market gets transformed every weekend evening until September for a street-food market like none South East London has ever seen. I went last year, and whilst the food was good, it was a little over priced, and it was reallllyyy busy so hard to find a seat etc. but if you are in the area or don’t want to stray far from home it’s definitely worth checking out.

Midnight margaritas! (Yes that is a practical magic reference - and no I know it's not midnight!) #margaritas #wahaca #cocktails #guacamole #fdblogger #foodpic #instafood

Udderbelly and Wonderground

I have a great love for the Udderbelly team at Southbank. They bring a little bit of the Edinburgh Fest down with them every year (well technical it’s before that but you catch my drift.) They have some brilliant stuff going on here. Cabaret’s, circus acts, comedy, and theatre. All stuff that’s a little bit different, and fresh. Don’t miss Sh*t-faced Shakespeare (they perform shakespeare whilst one cast member gets progressively drunk throughout the show) or Showstoppers: The Improvised Musical for a fun and unforgettable night.

Outdoor Theatre

The Globe season starts in April but you have a better chance of avoiding those pesky April showers, if you go slightly later in the season. As a semi-regular Globe visitor I would recommend visiting in the slightly cooler spring months than the heat of Summer. I will never forget standing through Henry VIII for over three hours in 25C and not for good reasons. The shows are almost always excellent.

Similarly, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre kicks off it’s season with Peter Pan from the 14th May. Now I’ve never seen this version, but if there is flying (it’s Peter Pan so I hope there would be) then I imagine it will be pretty magical to see Pan and Wendy flying through real-life tree’s.

Well, that should be enough to get you started. Let me know if you check any of my suggestions out! I’m also currently working on a  detailed guide to South East London. So if you have anything you’d like to see go in that please let me know.

A View from The Thames

Shaken, not Stirred

looking

This week I was invited to a James Bond themed boat party on the Thames. I mean, it’s not exactly the sort of thing I would normally go to, but since I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous I put my glad-rags on and journeyed up to Temple pier to board the Golden Jubliee.

It’s pretty fun to get dressed up and go and make new friends! I had a lovely time, and met some beautiful new people (Shout out to Jaye for the outfit shots). AND I got to bring out one of those ‘only worn once to a special occasion’ outfits and get some more wear out of it! Huzzah! There was prossecco involved too, which is never a bad thing, and I even got the chance to learn roulette at the mini casino that was set up on board. (We played with fake money luckily as I wasn’t very good!) There was also a magician, and a little bit of dancing at the end of the evening.

Ladbrokes face

arm up

arm detail

Dress and shoes both old all saints numbers. 

 A New Perspective

I’m rather glad I decided to go, as seeing my home city from a new perspective really helped to re-ignite my love for ole Mr London at a time when it was beginning to wain a little. I know the whole ‘if your tired of London your tired of life’ saying is often batted around at people like me, but if I’m honest, I am a little tired of the extortionate rents, travel costs, low wages, and general globalisation that’s bringing my beautiful city to it’s knees.

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London

Tate

The globe

Tower bridge

But when you see it like this. You can’t help but feel proud, and honoured to be surrounded by such beautiful architecture, and I’m glad to be lucky enough to have access to all the cultural joys of London.

I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world…yet, anyway. If you want to catch this glimpse of the city you can hop on a Thames Clipper quite reasonably and easily, and stand out on the deck, where the views are just as epic, but a lot more frequent…as James Bond parties don’t roll around that often do they!

Thank you to Ladbrokes and BBB for the invite. 

Chocolate Week Part 2: A Chocolate Tasting with Cocoa-Runners

Choc tasting

The Tasting Zone

It was a little cautiously that we entered into The Tasting Zone at The Chocolate Festival not knowing quite what to expect. What we got however couldn’t have been a better experience. An hour of trying different bean-to-bar chocolate’s from chocolatiers across the world

The most useful thing I learnt was that the trick to finding a decent bar is to ask where the beans come from. If they don’t know, it’s made from Belgian Chocolate and that means bad. Belgian chocolate is bad. End of story. (I didn’t know that before either, but the guy had reasons and it all made a lot of sense at the time!)

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Cocoa Runners

The tasting was led by Cocoa Runners, a company who offer a subscription box service for bean-to-bar chocolates. In the subscription you get four large bars of fancy chocolate each month, and it is all wrapped in incredible insta-worthy packaging.

They really seemed to know their stuff, and all the chocolate we sampled was delicious, so if luxury chocolate is your thing, and you fancy a present getting delivered every month, you can find out more here. 

(Please note I do not own the photo of the chocolate)

The Chocolate Festival

choco Swan

Easter

It’s nearly here. Four whole days to lie on the sofa, go for walks in the sunshine (hopefully) and eat so much chocolate, hot cross buns and lamb that you can barely move when it comes to getting up for work on Tuesday.

Having made a trip to the Cheese, Wine and Chocolate festival I now feel like an expert on the stuff…

The Festival

After treating ourselves to some champagne and lots of incredible cheese, we took a wander round the Chocolate Festival, that this year has hijacked some of the floor space of The Cheese and Wine Festival in the Business Centre in Islington.

Now, as cheese and chocolate are pretty much my two favourite things in life, I was having a pretty good day. Stall after stall of free samples of some of the best cheese and chocolate not just in the UK, but world over.

Rococo chocs

Added bonus was Lush Cosmetics were there showing off their collection of chocolate based beauty goodies, and offering chocolatey treatments to the festival punters. Some better know brands like Rococos chocolate’s and Paxton and Whitfield Cheese where there, but it was a fabulous place to discover some exciting new brands (particularly in chocolate) who – from what I learnt in my tasting are doing pretty groundbreaking things in the world of chocolate.

But there will be more on my fave brands, and tasting experience later…

 

Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty at the V&A

A couple of day’s ago I headed down to the V&A for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. I stood in the greatest room I have ever and think will ever see. Floor to ceiling cabinets on all four walls of some of McQueen’s greatest designs, interspersed with screens showing some of his greatest catwalk triumphs.

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What is most evident from the exhibition is that McQueen was an artist rather than a fashion designer. His imagination was astounding, and it gave us the beautiful, troubled, and out of this world works of art that stand in the V&A at the moment. His artistry is evident in his truly spectacular catwalk shows. One that stands out, a model stands spinning in a clean white dress, being sprayed with paint by machines either side. If you take it out of the fashion context, it’s live art not a fashion show.

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What makes the exhibition so worth seeing, is not just to see these masterpieces close-up. (Although that is worth it). The curation of the exhibition is what makes it so spectacular. The rooms perfectly accompany the theme’s of each of McQueen’s collections or ‘periods’.

The only criticism I could give is that the exhibition kind of reaches it’s climax half way through, and we are left to wander slightly disappointed through to the final room. Perhaps this too reflects how since the loss of McQueen’s great mind, the company has turned it’s focus back to fashion and my guess would be profits in making clothes more wearable. As a result will lost the element of the fantastical that makes McQueen’s designs so spectacular.

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The exhibition is on until 2nd August 2015.

Peder Balke Exhibition at The National Gallery

The other day, I was in the area and had a free half an hour so popped into the National Gallery to find out a bit more about their new Inspiring Impressionism exhibition. I ended up not going to the paid exhibition, but instead I stumbled into the (free) Peder Balke Exhibit.

Whilst only small, it was quite the beauty. Balke’s scene’s from scandinavia – mainly water themed and using oil based paints are quite something to see all together in one place. It is the first time many of the paintings have been shown in the UK. Balke was active in the late  late 1800’s and is considered now to be a forerunner of the modernism movement.

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When you see his impressive sea-scapes you’ll wonder why you’ve not heard of him before. His use of dark blue’s and grey’s, really captured my imagination. My favourite was a small oil on board (that was in a case rather than a wall so I very nearly missed it.) entitled Sun Breaking Through Clouds at Vardohus.

The exhibition is at the National Gallery until 12th April, and is completely free, so definitely worth a look if you have a spare 15mins in the area.