whathappensinlondon

Posts Tagged ‘Places to Go in London’

Storyteller

In Day to Day on January 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

Seeing as the wonderful exhibition Tim Walker: Storyteller finishes today, I thought it was a good time to publish my review of loads of reasons you should go, and just one why you shouldn’t.

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You don’t have to be an avid reader of Vogue, or any of the other huge fashion names associated with Walker’s photography to appreciate his brilliant approach, as it’s his creativity and boundless imagination which makes his work so captivating. As well as photographs, of course, the fairly small exhibition features a selection of the huge props he has used over the years, from an insect playing the cello, to a fairly creepy giant doll waving you off as you leave the last room.

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Drawing comparison to Annie Leibovitz, his talent lies in creating incredible sets and stories – the photograph merely captures this in a perfect image at the last moment.

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Tim Walker insect

In my opinion, it’s his take on Edward Scissorhands and the recurring theme of skeletons that really show how he manages to use some of the more sinister aspects of the world of fantasy to show off beautiful clothes.

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And the one reason you shouldn’t go? The Rizzoli gift shop is SO disappointing – for £3 a postcard, I expect at least more than one choice (the Humpty Dumpty image used in all the advertising for the exhibition). Same goes for the posters. With such an incredible range of work on display in the actual exhibition, it would be nice to see some of the same variety in the shop. But that’s it, my only complaint, you should definitely get up and go to the exhibition right now.

They might even reduce that postcard as it’s the last day…

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Get your skates off

In Day to Day on December 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

COVENT GARDEN, SOMERSET HOUSE, THE STRAND

So, last weekend I managed get nail varnish remover spilt on my beloved MacBook Pro. Obviously in no way my own fault, it still meant a Sunday trip up to the Mac Store in Covent Garden and a very long wait seeing as their online booking system is totally shit.

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With 4 hours to kill between getting there and my vital 15 minute appointment with them geniuses at the Genius Bar, I guilt-tripped a couple of friends into spending the day in Covent Garden. Turns out ‘I’m so sad, I’ve potentially lost all of my photos of me larking around on a beach in Thailand’ tugs at the heartstrings in more ways than you would expect and they eagerly jumped on the train to meet me.

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First off, while waiting for my friends to spend a day waiting with me, I stopped off at Somerset House. It’s so pretty once they’ve put up the skating rink, I challenge anyone to go there and not start to feel a bit Christmassy. I watched everyone whizzing around (no falls) for a bit, but it’s not as fun as actually going on the ice so made my way towards the exhibitions. There’s loads on at the moment, and most of it’s free, so I’d massively recommend heading up there if you’re looking for something to do of a weekend while still saving up the pennies for important festive things like booze and Christmas presents and a sequinned dress for the office party.

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The first exhibition I went to is just to your left as you walk into the main reception. In the late 1940s black-and-white photographer Cartier-Bresson said that ‘colour photography is not up to the mark; prove me wrong’. Curator William Ewing has set about doing just that in ‘Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour‘, by showcasing a number of photographers working in colour who also adopt Cartier-Bressons hallmark ‘decisive moment’ style of photo.

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For the exhibition Ewing has chosen contemporary photographers including my favourites Karl Baden, Ernst Haas, Fred Herzog, Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb and Trent Parke. Each interprets the ethos in their own way but all display incredible talent for powerful capturing split-second moments.

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Next up, Night Paintings from Paul Benney. The curation and location of this exhibition make it a worthwhile visit as it’s situated underneath the ice rink in a series of hidden passageways and atmospheric chambers. The space, known as Deadhouse, has never been used for an exhibition before and actually contains the gravestones of 17th century courtiers within the vaults and set into the walls. To find out more, there are free organised tours every Thursday and Saturday. Also, if you were left dying to find out more after reading my blog post on how London is romanticised in films, Deadhouse plays Newgate prison in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film.

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I squeezed in the Henri-Besson photo exhibition and Paul Benney’s Night Paintings exhibition but am heading back this weekend so that I can see the Valentino and Timothy Walker exhibitions – to be honest I want to give them more time as I’ve heard that both are brilliant.

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Seeing as I’ve tagged and led this with spilling nail varnish remover on a MacBook, here’s a link to what you should do straight away (which I didn’t). You’re welcome.

The Boy with Salt Beef on His Face

In Day to Day on March 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

SHOREDITCH

“You want to go for a night out in Shoreditch? To a Moroccan bar? And see a silent comedian?!”

Er…yes is the answer. It was actually a great night out, and despite being in scene-kid central, it was far from posey or up it’s own arse. Myself and 4 friends stopped off at a bar before the comedy night – even though I’ve worked and been out in Shoreditch before, I have limited knowledge of the good bars to go to so this was a suggestion from a friend.

Casa Blue, at the top of Brick Lane, was a good pick. Small, so small it looks a bit like a cafe, the decor looks like Car Booty exploded all over the walls and tables – rifles, lanterns, candles, fish bowls, posters, film memorabilia, records – it’s camped up Eastern chintz mixed with some good old fashioned market ‘antiques’. The look was so over the top that I liked it, especially the completely mismatched sofas, chairs and tables (all very worn). Bottles of beer and spirit/mixes were reasonably priced for the area but the fishbowls were £28, which is ridiculous.

And beware of the toilets, they are awful.

Next, we headed to Rich Mix to see my current favourite-comedian-of-all-time, The Boy with Tape on His Face. Ever since seeing him at the Old Vic Tunnels last year, I’ve been desperate to see him again, so when I saw he was headlining at Rich Mix for £10 a ticket, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do with a Friday night.

Using audience participation and hilarious facial (eye) expressions, he is excellent. Other comedians on the bill that impressed me included Tony Law and Cardinal Burns. Despite getting there late, I feel that we got the best seats in the house, rather than being cramped downstairs we were ushered up to the upstairs viewing gallery, which was almost completely empty and a much better vantage point. The event was well organised and the drinks were cheap – pretty much the perfect night, no?

No. Because, being in Brick Lane it was missing one thing and it wasn’t a curry…

The salt beef bagels from the Beigel Bake are NOT TO BE MISSED. Open 24 hours, I’ve never been here without having to queue, they must churn out hundreds of the damn things on Friday and Saturday nights. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone order anything but a salt beef bagel, but that may be because I get slight tunnel vision when I walk in there and focus on the h-u-g-e pile of beef they cut from.

The portions are beyond generous, with the option of mustard sauce and a gherkin for 20p. Just thinking about it makes me want one and I cannot stress enough how much you should try one if you are visiting or living in London…

I would say that that was the end of the night, and that we all went home, bellies full, content. But that would be a lie.

We went to the Cactus Pit.

The less said about that the better.

Tatty Devine vs Claire’s Accessories

In Day to Day on February 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

LONDON/A FACTORY

A double-edged sword, social media now has the power to escalate a bad situation to the point of no return. Last week, independent cult jeweller Tatty Devine, blogged about the copycat designs Claire’s Accessories were carrying as part of their 2012 range. It transpired that, shockingly, the high street chain had brazenly duplicated a number of their unique acrylic and Perspex jewellery pieces.

Within 24 hours, the Tatty Devine site had crashed due to the spike in visitors to the page, and #ClairesAccessories had begun to trend on Twitter. In the post, Tatty Devine added photos of their own original pieces; next to those that Claire’s Accessories were selling for a fraction of the price. You only need to glance at them to realise they had been completely matched; detail for detail and that a serious case of plagiarism had taken place.

Even more shocking to me was Claire’s Accessories response (or lack of). Despite trending on Twitter, their page featured no statement and no comment on the increasingly disastrous situation, until later the next day. Their Facebook page was worse. I looked at the page at 4.56pm on 23rd February and liked a comment someone had written about the scandal – by 4.59pm the comment had been deleted and I had been blocked from writing on the page. Below is an example of the sort of comments that were repeatedly deleted for 2 days…

I watched as the page refreshed with more negative comments…which were again deleted within minutes. Not only does this make people angry and upset, it also makes Claire’s Accessories look incredibly unprofessional and naive. Social media is a public forum and if they, as a company, are willing to enjoy the positive aspects of this (their page has over a million fans), then they also need to use it to respond to the negative.

Handily for this post, Social Media Week was only a week ago and is still fresh in my mind. During which, I went to a very insightful workshop led by social media management company, Tempero, on protecting your brand. They’d even brought in lawyer, Tim Pinto to answer the trickier questions. One of the main points raised by Tim and Tempero was that when faced with situations that have spilled into your brands social media presence, ‘don’t’ panic and react quickly’.

Claire’s Accessories take note – ignorance is NOT bliss. By ignoring the situation, and actually deleting criticism you open yourselves out for more of the same. As a result prolific bloggers including Liberty London Girl picked up the story, plus the Guardian, The Independent and Stylist Magazine ran their own articles online following how poorly it was handled from a PR perspective.

Stylist Magazine published this response from Hind Hadj, Head of European Marketing & PR for Claire’s, “Claire’s is aware of the blog post yesterday on the tattydevine.com blog and is currently investigating these comments.”

Claire’s Accessories have also released this statement on their Facebook page:

Claire’s Stores, Inc. is a responsible company that employs designers, product developers and buyers, and works with many suppliers to provide innovative collections that bring customers all the latest fashion trends. As such, we take any allegations of wrong doing seriously. We are looking into the matters raised.

A similar, shorter one is on their Twitter page. However, this all feels very much too little too late from Claire’s and I hope that Tatty Devine manage to resolve this with them, I’m sure that they will update their blog page with any developments. For more info, here is the original blog post, here is Liberty London Girl’s personal blog post about the scandal and here is the email you should use should you want to send anything to Claires Accessories: marketinguk@claires.co.uk

Pelton Pub Crawl

In Day to Day on January 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm

GREENWICH

January is pretty dull. Everyone has resolutions to drink less, spend nothing and generally moan their way through the month. My resolution is different, allowing me to drink AND not feel guilty spending a little bit of money. It’s not really a resolution as such, more a task I’ve set myself and it is this: STOP GOING OUT TO THE SAME PLACES ALL THE TIME AND NOT LET EVERY WEEEKEND OF THE YEAR ROLL INTO ONE.

I realise that this has always been the general premise of this blog, but although I have discovered many fantastic places in London since starting it, I’ve also revisited plenty of mediocre ones through sheer laziness.

One new place, which is local BUT I have never been to is The Pelton Arms. Tucked away in the less popular East side of Greenwich, it is the perfect starting point for a mini pub crawl, or somewhere to spend the whole night. Inside it’s cosy, friendly and reminds me a little of The Morden Arms but on a larger scale. The drink selection is good, for me, the wine list extends past red/white/dry/sweet and for beer drinkers there’s a nice selection of ales plus Greenwich Meantime brews on tap.

I didn’t eat when I went (on a Friday night) but I’ve heard repeatedly that the food is excellent with the expected pub gastropub dishes and a full roast on Sundays. They have an extensive events calendar which ranges from knitting to live band nights, which provide much needed (and inexpensive) ways to fill up your evenings during the week. Unfortunately when I visited the Pelton, it was within a much wider Greenwich pub crawl, but I wish I had spend more time there and will definitely be returning. Next up, the Cutty Sark Tavern…

…which was closed for refurbishment, so despite protests from me, the next stop was The Trafalgar Tavern. The Traf does boast some of the best views of the Thames and is one of the oldest pubs in London, but other than that, the food is awful, the service is worse and the whole place is poorly cared for and looked after. Next up…The Gypsy Moth…

A good one for the summer, it has a good garden but is a tourist trap owing to it’s convenient location just outside the Cutty Sark DLR and next to Greenwich Market. They’ve got a quiz night I think, an OK selection of lagers and lots of seating available – the only thing that pisses me off about the place is the service – go in any time, any day, any month, any weather and no matter how busy it is, it will still generally take 20 minutes to get served. It doesn’t help that they insist on permanently closing half of their bar so there’s a big blob of people waiting to get served in the most awkward part of the pub, right next to the toilets and around a massive pole.

Never order food here, I have been told this numerous times but thought I’d try it last month after traipsing round Greenwich and deciding against noodles, Pizza Express and McDonalds. I just wanted something quick and tasty – so myself and a friend both ordered burgers. We were the only people eating, and the kitchen hatch was in plain view. 40 minutes later, no food had arrived. When we went to the bar, there was an awkward conversation between the bar staff where it transpired that our order hadn’t even made it as far as the kitchen. They did apologise and give us a refund but still, NEVER order food in The Gypsy. We ended up in McDonalds and waited 2 minutes.

Selfridges

In Day to Day on January 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm

OXFORD STREET

First of all, this is an apology post/actual ‘What Happens in London’ post. Owing to a hell of a lot of work combined with various annoying setbacks, I have been rather slack (read: totally awful) at posting recently. BUT…do not fear! I will be ignoring all the rules of sensible blog practice and posting round the clock, clogging up your screens.

Once it gets to Christmas I’m quite glad that I no longer work near Oxford Street and we have some distance between us. Just thinking of how busy it is over the whole of November and December makes me panic. Although I think that the festive season should be shoehorned neatly into four weeks of eating, drinking and pretending to like people that you don’t, it always overflows into a large chunk of November, easing us into 25 days of non-stop advertising and Mariah. Selfridges take it to new levels and installed their Christmas shop in their basement this July. Full of glitter, decorations and expensive baubles it is every Christmas eccentrics dream.

Apart from a hellishly busy Christmas shop, Selfridges have had many other amazing things happen to them this year. One of the most exciting is when they opened a branch of Swedish export Monki on the ground floor. A strict secret among those in the know for years, the high street chain is owned by retail giant H&M, and carries a brilliant range of simple, well designed and cut clothes. Clothes that when people ask where you got a top, you could smugly reply that you can’t buy it in the UK. A sort of middle ground between H&M and COS, the opening was met with a mixture of grumpiness (now everyone is in on it) and excitement from most of my friends.

Third up in my run-down of Selfridges memories and general love, is the Bompas and Parr moat that was installed on the rooftop of the department store earlier this year. The photos are my favourite part, as the stunt is so visually appealing but apparently those who did manage to get tickets were cold and a bit confused as the experience was a slightly dull, very rocky boat ride. Check out their website for other amazing projects, like their jelly creations.

I really don’t want to go…

In Day to Day on October 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm

COVENT GARDEN

It’s always the fall back – the mid meeting place that seems like the easy option, failsafe plan b, c or d. For me however, going to Covent Garden always smacks of returning to my 12 year old self (jaunts up to London with my girlie friends, the day would consist of ‘shopping’ around Covent Garden and meeting up with other people (boys!) that we could have just met up with locally). When I say shopping, what I really mean is browsing through Paperchase, Quiksilver and Octopus and coming back with a funny jelly watch, a pair of tie dye jeans or some hilarious writing paper.

Anyway…less reminiscing and nostalgia and more reviewing. Covent Garden is very touristy: lots of mimes painted in silver, gold and white as well as plenty of other performers commanding large crowds by riding round on unicycles with a mic and large ego. One such performer, who I haven’t seen in CG but really wish I had, is Sam Wills

I discovered him at The Old Vic Tunnels (review here) as his alter ego, The Boy With Tape on His Face and am now slightly obsessed with seeing him again (should you wish to, his next London date is at the Underbelly Festival).

I’ve been to the Punch and Judy, which overlooks the performers, numerous times after making plans to meet friends and said plans being finalised so late that last resorting has called for 4pm desperate emails of ‘OK, we’ll meet in the Punch and go from there’.

From there usually means the Roadhouse (I know), the now defunct Garden Club or, if common sense and the motivation for a longer walk prevails, Gordon’s Wine Bar. My favourite by far, I have reviewed Gordon’s and praised it’s offer many times that maybe I should stop; also, I suppose it’s not really in Covent Garden, is it?

Other options include Walkabout, or The Chandos. I have ended up in the  Chandos with people visiting me in London, colleagues, friends and just about everyone else on my radar that has passed through the Charing Cross – South East London migration path on Thursday and Friday evenings. A favourite because it is cheap, friendly and very central, go to the upstairs bar for a seat because most people don’t even know it exists so shhhh! I have to this date, only even been in Walkabout once and intend to keep it that way.

Very Stylish, Very Starck

In Day to Day on September 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

BERNERS STREET

The last seven days have been a blur of clothes and shows (more on this later) as London Fashion Week descended on the capital, clocking up column inches all over the place. However, amidst all the celebrities, bloggers, photographers and bona fide fashionistas, a less noticeable wave of people swept through London over the weekend…the nosy ones.

London Open House took place over the weekend, giving the voyeur in all of us the chance to look round some of the cities most guarded and inaccessible buildings. Whether you’re into old cinemas, hotels, modern architecture or simply aesthetically pleasing design, there is bound to be something on offer to catch your eye, as the list is extensive to say the least. With over 700 places specially open to the public, I plumped for the Sanderson Hotel on Berners Street – minutes into the tour, I knew I made the right decision. Starting with a view from across the road, our guides pointed out Ian Schrager’s hallmark oversized vase with pink flowers placed outside the main entrance, clearly identifying the building as one of his from the off.

Once in, Phillip Starck’s unique vision becomes clear – his influence is everywhere. ‘The space between the doors and the reception desk is the catwalk’….which explains why all the chairs are pointing towards the main desk. OK, and the lips? ‘A big kiss from us for when you arrive!’ Of course…dare I ask, the pictures of dogs behind and in front of the white drapes? ‘Well, it’s the English man’s best friend’. This logic pretty much explains everything in the hotel, from the fittings to the furniture, it’s all very surreal and the whole experience of walking around (and I presume staying there), is much the same.

After looking around the Purple Bar, Billiard Room and stunning stained glass windows, we got to the lift. I know, a lift doesn’t sound very exciting does it? Well, instead of being forced to stare uncomfortably into a smeary mirror for the 30 second journey upstairs, instead we did some star gazing. The walls are made from 3D images of planets and stars from the galaxy in deep blue and twinkly white on both the walls and ceiling – it’s absolutely stunning and very Christopher Kane.

Upstairs, the room numbers are shining lights on the floor rather than on the doors, and that’s it. The corridors are completely bare with no defining characteristics at all – to be honest, it’s a little unsettling and I expect a girl on a tricycle to come wheeling around the corner at any minute. The bedrooms replicate this but in far more luxurious settings and all in white.

Echoing the dream-like, surreal nature of the rest of the decor, the rooms are designed to feel like you are stepping onto a cloud. White walls, white floor, white cupboards, white furniture and a bed (white) placed at an angle in the middle work together to create a calm, cool environment. As a listed building, converting the old Sanderson HQ and showroom into a hotel was difficult, with no extra walls allowed to be built within the rooms. The bathroom is therefore separated from the main bedroom area with a large sheet of glass and two layers of privacy curtains, so make sure you’re very comfortble with whoever you share your room with!

After querying how they keep the rooms so white with no evidence of scuffs or wear and tear, I was told that after a week long stay every room is repainted white – they even have a full time painter on site who must really hate white by now.

Although I prefer more classic and comforatble interiors, the Sanderson delivers on both style and Starck – their second hotel on St Martin’s Lane is now firmly on my ‘must visit’  list.

Click here to visit the Sanderson Hotel website.

Pete’s Back

In Day to Day on August 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm

CAMDEN

Stints in jail, that trashed bedsit and countless public falling outs with his Libertine bandmates mean that a large amount of Pete Doherty’s reputation has nothing to do with his music and more to with the ups and downs of his personal life. Over the weekend, at The Blues Kitchen, he focussed on the former and played one of his first gigs since he’s been out.

His all over-the-place stage persona is one that is hard to shake, so it was not much of a surprise that when he performed in Camden (at 4 in the afternoon so as not to break curfew) this Saturday, he ambled onto the stage with a trademark fag dangling from his lips. The outgrown hair, black clothes and gold chain are all still there too but there was something different about this gig.

After his time in jail, many people haven’t realised that Pete has been released – the media hype around him has lessened and he is starting to play more gigs, including dates at the O2 academy Brixton. The gig I went to on Saturday was packed out with fans (and weirdly, Nikki from Big Brother), proving his long standing appeal despite ups and downs.

With a set list spanning from both Babyshambles and the Libertines, the intimate performance was the first time I had seen him perform live after turning down the opportunity to see him play at The Dirty South about two years ago. I wasn’t disapointed – Don’t Look Back into the Sun, my favourite song of the evening was amazing to hear live and the crowd reaction was incredible. Standing outside, it was hilarious watching people trying to work out why hundreds of people were crammed into a dark pub singing along (in that boozy, toneless way only gig crowds can achieve) on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

If you want to see him play, you can buy tickets here. 

Did you hear the one…

In Day to Day on July 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

CAMDEN/REGENTS PARK

About the boy who went to the zoo, put a penguin in his rucksack only for his dad to find him washing said penguin in the bath later that night? This urban myth was spouted by almost everyone I told I was going to the zoo on Friday night, it’s not true but this did not stop my friend loudly pondering the logistics of such  a scheme whilst watching the penguins being fed ‘Right guys, we need a diversion…take your top off’ did not impress fellow zoo goers.

Thanks to the wonders of Groupon and it’s gradual takeover of the whole world, myself and hundreds of other coupon crazies went to The London Zoo as part of their Zoo Lates sessions on Friday evening. For £9 instead of over £20, childish excitement got to me as we walked the ten minutes from Camden Town station to the park where we headed straight to the bar. It feels weird to walk round a zoo with a beer but is in fact ingenious – making our way round, looking at tigers, gorillas, giraffes and hyenas on a Friday night makes for a nice break from paying the same amount to go to the pub/cinema/club.

Starting at the tiger bar, we went straight on to the new penguin pool where it was feeding time – unfortunately ZSL tried to turn throwing fish into water into some sort of show with a compere, shouting to the audience ‘Who likes penguins?! …I caaaaan’t hear you, I said WHO LIKES PENGUINS??!!!’ It was entertaining but not for the right reasons; I think everyone watching started to feel for the poor girl with the microphone, a bucket of sardines and 70 penguins charging at her.

We also saw the otter feeding and the spider monkey section but missed out the bearded pigs, comodo dragons, tortoises and quite a few other animals. I think the trick of Zoo Lates is to enjoy ambling round rather than try and tick off every animal because there is so much to see. The animal houses all close at 9, so going straight from work means that you only have a few hours to look at animals. However, don’t worry, there is something you can do after 9.

The pairing of the hugely successful Silent Disco and the zoo seems, like beer and the zoo, very strange. Yet it works so well. After we saw all the animals we wanted to, we headed back towards the main food area where there is also a carousel and a huge lawn area dedicated to Silent Disco. Pay a £5 deposit and dance the rest of the night away in your own world; underneath the trees and fairy lights, there is something very unsettling about stumbling into a mass crowd of silent (but energetic) dancers. With ten minutes to go it started raining, and instead of looking like a sexy J-Lo video, hundreds of drenched, muddy, covered-in-facepaint dancers hurried to get their headphones back and my new shoes got ruined.

Other than rain, it was the perfect night.