whathappensinlondon

Posts Tagged ‘What Happens 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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How to enjoy the Thames

In Day to Day on May 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

SOUTHBANK AND FURTHER ALONG

Ah, the Thames… I’ve got a massive problem with it.

Featured in so many films as a romantic river, meandering innocently through London, it’s not what it seems. Cutting our city in half, it creates the North/South divide whilst at the same time makes getting from one side to the other at the end of any ‘I’ve-had-a-night-that-lasted-past-the-last-train’ nigh on impossible.

Films particularly guilty of making the one of the country’s dirtiest rivers look more exciting/dramatic/interesting/romantic than it is include Love Actually, James Bond and 28 Days Later. So… how to make the most it?

Here are some photos of what it is not like…


Go to the Southbank and visit the Festival Hall. While you’re there, stop off at Skylon and drink loads of their delicious cocktails. They’re expensive, but so worth it – when we go, we always forget the menu and ask the bar staff to recommend their own, but all the classics are all there if you don’t feel like going rogue (just be prepared for a disapproving look when you dare ask for a mojito).

I haven’t had the chance to eat there, but as the bar is located right in the middle of the restaurant, I would still recommend getting dinner. The atmosphere is great, there’s always a nice mix of work groups, families, couples, friends and all the food looks amazing. Also, despite the introduction to this post, the view is pretty spectacular, albeit grey.

The next stop isn’t far away. All through summer (even though it doesn’t feel like it will ever BE summer), there will be a Pimm’s stall outside the Festival Hall with plenty of tables for after-work drinks, dates and post-show chats. One of the best things for me about sitting out on the Southbank (weather permitting, of course) is watching all the runners slogging past as you sip on your fruit infused, ice-cold jug of cocktail. HA.

The Old Vic Tunnels

In Day to Day on April 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

WATERLOO

The first night I went the Old Vic Tunnels was just incredible. I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to one of their Boom Boom club events at short notice and for once I was glad people know I’m likely not to have plans on a Saturday night.

From the minute you queue up opposite the violinist in full makeup and twiddly moustache, to when you stumble out at the end of the night, these events literally feel like entering a different world.

Any excuse to visit The Old Vic Tunnels should not be missed – even watching paint dry inside the labyrinth caves below Waterloo station would be a worthwhile endeavour. Since acquiring the vast and cavernous space in 2010, the venue has held everything from prohibition parties, to summer camp festivals and of course, the legendary Boom Boom.

Never Give Up

Mixing fantasy with reality to awe-inspiring effect, their next biggie is the 2nd Annual Goblin Masquerade Ball. The fantasy themed night of mischief and revelry is sure to be a good-un (just check out the photos from last year if you need convincing). Goblins, Ogres, Bad Faeries and so much more, it’s dress up time in London’s leading undergrounds arts venue. For this post, I’m going to let the photos do the talking.

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One last message we received after buying our tickets: Dearest Revellers, cast aside your thoughts of the next day and abandon yourselves to the mystical excesses and delirious cacophonies of The Goblin King’s Theatre of Trolls…

Masquerade Ball

Reach, Climb, Run

In Day to Day on March 27, 2012 at 7:57 am

WOOLWICH

I’m not a typical ‘exercise person’. At school, being forced to play hockey, netball or tennis was my worst nightmare come true and I hated every minute spent running round an astro turf  wearing silly bright blue socks. One aspect of my school sporting calendar I did love, however, was the much loathed bleep test  – the competitiveness, the increasing pressure, the sole focus on running…

Sports day was the culmination of this weekly punishment and the ultimate in humiliating experiences. I went to an all girls school, where, unsurprisingly, there weren’t many takers for spending a whole day wearing uncomfortable kit and waiting in the Crystal Palace stalls to go and jump in a sandpit. The older we got, the less we went until…it was made mandatory. We all had to pick something. I got lumbered with the hurdle race and shocked myself when I came first.

Since then, running has been my favourite exercise and I try and go at least three times a week. Where I’ve found running a basic way to keep fit, I enjoy challenging myself more by entering races (Run to the Beat and the British 10k), and wanted to find another way in which to tone up other areas of my body.

Enter climbing.

Railay Climbing

After trying rock climbing in Railay, Thailand, I came back last year full of promise to start doing it regularly and become a total pro. Some months later, I found The Reach and enrolled on the beginners course. Exhausting, challenging and exciting, it was exactly what I had been looking for and I honestly can’t recommend it enough for someone seeking something new.

Climbing

For £35 you get two three hour sessions of teaching, shoe and equipment hire. Our instructor, Kevin was brilliant, even better when he told us that teaching indoor climbing wasn’t his ‘day job’ and that he was in between tours of showing people how to climb ice caps. With an eight people maximum per beginners class, there is more than enough opportunity to make the most of having an experienced instructor at your disposal. Make the most of this. At the end of the class, so long as you know how to tie a knot, belay your partner and fasten your harness properly, you can become a member for £4.

I’ve been twice a week for three weeks since the course and my only regret is not going sooner. The one problem I’ve found is that when you get to the top of the walls, you can easily smell the delicious food cooking in the cafe and if you’re anything like me, get easily distracted.

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

Be Cool.

In Day to Day on August 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

IN WATER

The weather is finally showing some signs of being summer and today I’m looking to cool down and swim off! As I’m not going anywhere near a beach over the next few months, I will be making the most of London’s pools, lakes and lido’s by seeking out the best (and most probably the worst) poolside picks our fair city has to offer.

Swimming in London is definitely tricky. Your options are limited by the obvious lack of coast but do include public baths *shudder*, private member pools – Shoreditch House has one on the roof – and lido’s. My favourite are the lido’s. Mainly established during the twenties and thirties, the best ones are those that aren’t constantly pushed in the Sunday supplements, i.e. stay away from London Fields and try the Brockwell Park Lido, which boasts an Olympic sized pool, or the Tooting Bec Boating Lake, which is the largest open-air pool in the country.

Those who are slightly adventurous may well want to try swimming in the Serpentine. Pretty cold, but also pretty impressive if you can pull it off – it’s only £4 so if you’re looking to do one of those ‘Guess what I did the other day?’ conversation starters, it is totally perfect.

 If you don’t fancy stripping off (and let’s face it, it’s not that hot), the Waterline photography exhibition is still showing at the Maritime museum until October; this is WELL worth a visit, not just for the brilliant exhibition but also to see the new extension they have just opened. After being a building site for months and months, the completed works are a good example of modern architecture blending in with old design without looking tacky. For a quick review of the Waterline exhibition, click 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.

Dwarves on tour

In Day to Day on July 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

TWICKENHAM

It’s 10 on a Saturday morning , I’m on a packed train full of oompa loompas, smurfs and men in drag – all drinking. My friend, Snow White, and us (her dwarves) drew a fair few stares from the early morning tourists on the way to Waterloo, but now, amongst our own people we feel very much at home. In a slightly surreal start to my day we’re on our way to the annual Twickenham Rugby 7s for charity.

The first I knew of Rugby 7s was from an old uni friend, born in Hong Kong, who insisted that the HK7s were the highlight of the year. Everyone dresses up, everyone drinks, someone usually streaks and the entire rugby playing community gets involved; although I’m not known for being an avid sports fan, this was enough to get me on board. The British version is much the same as Hong Kong, although due to a number of the high profile teams dropping out this year, attendance was slightly lower than normal.

The strange choice of entertainment was a beat box champion and a disappointing cheerleading squad, who didn’t really help to get the crowd excited (by the afternoon, everyone was merry enough for this not to be a problem). In the morning, loads of people set up in the carpark outside with picnics and booze on tables; as the tickets allow re-entry (a huge bonus to a long event like this) it was really nice to dip in and out of the rugby throughout the day. I won’t try to relay you all with too much play-by-play rugby chat as undoubtedly I’ll manage to get it wrong: but all you really need to know the Samurai’s won in the final against Esher.

With more funny names, the Golden Wasps were absolutely thrashed by the Wooden Spoon’s women’s team, who were led to victory by just one player who stood out by miles in terms of talent on the pitch (see, I almost sound knowledgeable). A group of around 20 of us who were sufficiently full of cider, sausage rolls and birthday cake then made our way over to Richmond. At The White Cross, we sat on the balcony admiring their enviable view of the river and amazing outdoor garden.

All in all, a wonderful, but-not-to-be-repeated-regularly Saturday of drinking, eating and dressing up – I hasten to add that Sunday was a painful day of self-reflection and regret.

Fish! Beer! Wine! Now!

In Day to Day on July 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm

LONDON BRIDGE!

Despite reviewing Borough Market and The George Inn already, I’m not quite done with the Borough area just yet as I feel that it offers far more than Monmouth coffee, tourists, after-work and pre-hometime drinks that it is usually associated with. There are a number of really good restaurants in the area, namely Fish! which is the place to go for some of the best affordable fresh seafood in London, Tas, which offers fantastic Greek cuisine and Cafe Borro for paella and grilled meat.

Back to Fish! (this exclamation mark is really messing with the tone of the piece), everytime I write it I feel that I need to follow with a quip and a dance. So, the restaurant-in-question serves classic fish and chips, alongside more quirky swordfish club sandwiches and luxurious whole lobster with garlic butter. The side menu includes mushy peas and mash so I was more than happy. Word of advice: do not order the club sandwich which comes with chips, and then order extra sides ‘just in case’ it’s not enough. It is.

Sitting in the outside seating area on Saturday night was really pleasant, and oh-so civilised but a just a little cold (read my Pig Post for warm outdoor eating tips). The Pleasantville moment was however shattered by an enthusiastic (and steaming drunk) man screaming at us that the end was nigh. We decided that maybe it was, so paid and rolled our way to the Southwark Tavern.

I love the Tavern because it has little cells downstairs which they have converted into booths (a bit like the Templar in Holborn), and it is never too crowded even though it’s smack bang in the middle of the central-to-Shoreditch migration path on the weekend. It also has nice house white wine, lots of cider, decent ale and homemade lemonade Pimms.

Now for one last thing, for snacks, try the Cafe Brood just around the corner for good (if a little pricey) paella, grilled lamb and salady bits and pieces – unfortunately the menu section on their website merely provides a short summation of the sorts of food to expect plus  a note that there are far too many too list. If you are a food voyeur/obsessive like me, this is annoying as I like to plan what I might order and then change my mind 7 or 8 times before even sitting down.

For good measure though, here is a link to their page.