Well, well, well, what is this? Another bank holiday? Oh May, you really are spoiling us! It would be a shame to let the long weekend go by without filling it with fun stuff and/or hangovers, so here are a few choice events to keep you entertained over the late May bank holiday in London.
Borough market is a Mecca for foodies and every Londoner should visit this heaving beast at least once. But once can be enough for most London inhabitants as the place is always superbusy and crowded and there are plenty of other markets you can go to in order to feast. (Disclaimer: the exception being if you happen to be in the London Bridge area around shutting down time, when it is well worth your while to pop in and grab some produce at gloriously knocked down prices. Got me some beauties of a specimen of English muffins at half price once.)
Here are a few markets to explore for foodie heaven (some of which have been mentioned in previous posts).
If the plethora of adverts on the Underground are to be believed it seems people have become incapable of meeting each other without the help of a dating.com. Apparently we are all too busy to find our other half and so need some complicated computer algorithm to calculate compatibility with another. What the adverts fail to explain is, if you don't have time to locate someone, then what are the chances of having time to subsequently date them, and then have a relationship? But perhaps that is by the by.
So, having carefully pored over your online profile, uploaded a flattering photo (taken five years ago) and selected your profile preferences, you can press enter and let the Internet take care of the rest. Well, no. Unfortunately not. Having identified your matches it is really up to you to do the hard bit - make contact and then finally meet them!
But what to do and where to go? One very good thing about Internet dating is you should have a pretty good idea why the great big dating computer in the sky matched the two of you, so here are some dating ideas based on your compatible characteristics.
One of my favourite months is upon us – May. And it’s my favourite because it brings us not one but TWO bank holidays. Turning our attention to the one coming up imminently, here are a few of the best things happening this first May bank holiday weekend.
For the lover of words among you, you might be interested to know that there are several nights which focus on just these. These range from spoken word events to storytelling nights to what could almost be described as a game show. Here are a few.
London is the theatre capital of the world. Yes, so Broadway’s pretty important too, but if I can be heard above the howls of rage emanating from the Great White Way, hear me out – the sheer range, ambition and excellence of what is on offer here puts it wig and shoulders above the rest. From the glittering lights of the West End to a room above a pub where tomorrow’s Sam Mendes is learning his craft, you won’t get a better night out.
Every Londoner will give different recommendations for the best culinary experiences in the city, but going off the beaten track is always a good idea – a hidden gem is likely to have better service than an over-hyped eatery in many cases. Whether you like a place with a little quirk or are looking for haute cuisine sophistication, a pub lunch or a refined night out, there are bars and restaurants to suit everyone’s tastes nestled in the city’s various quarters.
Living in the city of London you might be forgiven for expecting never to encounter anything more rural than a pair of designer wellies. You’d be forgiven; but you’d be wrong. Because scattered all over the city, tucked away behind houses, car parks and office blocks, are a number of city farms. From Hounslow to Mudchute, there are tiny small-holdings and market gardens hidden in the most unlikely of places. Kentish Town’s city farm, for example, is surrounded by three different train lines, which weave beneath its collection of enclosures and allotments. There’s even a small group of goats which lives up above these railway tracks, scrambling over large concrete boulders, watching the trains go by (and probably pretending they live in a small Alpine village somewhere rather than in North London).
There are many famous sightseeing activities which visitors to London are told to do, from getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from the London Eye to visiting Harrods and other famous department stores for a bit of shopping. If you want to experience something truly original and memorable in London, however, there are a few ‘must do’ activities which are not your standard fare. From historically-themed dinners to novel guided tours and modern art exhibitions, London offers many options for people who prefer to avoid the obvious choices and would rather sample a variety of the city’s intrigues.
The English adage says it best: Keep Calm and Carry On. Even better: Sip your tea, nibble on a delicious cake or pastry and lose yourself in the sugary reverie of a lazy afternoon. Whether you’re a gourmet foodie on the prowl for the perfectly-formed macaron or you’re simply looking for a tea-time treat, this list of London’s Best Bakery Hideaways is the perfect place to start.
London, being the most wonderful city that it is, can cater for pretty much any taste. It has nightclubs galore, and almost any that you might happen to stumble into in Soho on a Friday or Saturday night will be playing a crowd-pleasing mix of stuff that's in the charts, either now or from yesteryear. But what if you want something a little bit different? Something... alternative?
Well, firstly, I've realised that everyone's idea of alternative really depends on what their starting point is. For some, it just means non-mainstream-pop. A night at Feeling Gloomy playing indie music would hit the spot. Others might sneer at this weak definition and insist that anything other than heavy rock and goth music isn't alternative. For others still, this is their mainstay and if you want it to be alternative you need to serve it up with a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of kink. For some, it means getting involved in the burgeoning cabaret and burlesque scene, or diving into the plethora of vintage and retro nights that necessitate dressing up in “period” outfits.
If you happen to be in the East End and looking for something a little different, then check out some of these nights.
[caption id="attachment_1188" align="alignright" width="150"] © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence[/caption]
London’s a funny old place. Spring should be in the air – daffodils blooming, layers coming off, little chicks and other such signs of warmer weather appearing. Instead we seem to be battling snow. We’d be forgiven for not realising Easter is around the corner.
But it is sneaking up fast upon us, and so that it doesn’t take you by surprise, here are a few ideas for making the most of the extralong weekend to enjoy. Whether you want to use the extra days off as an excuse to party more, or whether you are looking for Easter activities for kids. read more
You don’t end up with a city population of over 8 million without attracting people with some unusual interests and passions. This is of course one of the many reasons we all love London – it can be home for all: the masses and the individual, the average and the eccentric.
What this diversity means is that in addition to the standard whitewash-walled galleries, typical museums, restaurants and events, Londoners also have access to some of the stranger places, exhibitions and events the UK has to offer. Here are some of my favourites:
Well, like all the headlines in the Daily Mail that take a question form, (you know, Is This the New Miracle Cure to solve Such and Such?), the answer is No. Clubbing is clubbing and food does not really go hand in hand with that. But as almost anyone will tell you, Street Food is a star that has risen. People love it and they want it whenever they can get it. They also want more to go with their Street Food... like... a party! And parties and food are perfect partners.
With the formation of several markets and Street Food collectives, this is definitely a trend that is growing.
Irish or otherwise, Londoners love to get involved in St Patrick’s Day celebrations. And little wonder, with so much Irish culture in our city. We thought it’d be apt to take the opportunity to celebrate some of our favourite Irish businesses in the capital. We’ve sifted through the tacky, gimmicky, and downright false ‘Irish-themed’ venues to find the authentic and noble Irish establishments that deserve a shout out.
If you’re stuck for some Irish inspiration this week, here are a few ideas to get you started.
There is a wealth of places to go shopping for a new outfit in London but where do you go for something a little different, something a little less 'high street'. Well, we have gathered a selection of the finest boutiques to fulfill your every fashion needs.
Many people remember the sweets and chocolates of their childhood with nostalgic sighs. While the treats of childhood which are no longer made might seem worlds away, there is a select group of people in London who have gone all out in recreating some of that remembered magic, but with a contemporary (and even adventurously adult) twist. Whether you screamed loudest for ice cream, loved a good sugar rush, or went in for dress-up rather than indulgent food temptations, some of London’s more interesting shops give childhood favourites surprising makeovers.
The world has become virtually smaller and now an increasing number of us are choosing to move city, country and even continent. Whether it is in search of an easier life, a warmer climate, or a better job, the fact still remains the same, change is exciting, and well, the grass is always greener.
Sometimes it is true, however, that the ideal vision that we have in our heads is not always the same as the reality we encounter when we arrive in our new home. Certain things will be better, sure, they have to be, but soon we may begin to miss aspects of our old lives, and recreating a secure and comfortable circle of friends can be one of the biggest challenges.
Luckily with new challenges comes new technology, and in the modern internet age new apps, tools and websites are constantly being developed to help assist all of us globe trotters in connecting with other like-minded individuals, in every corner of the globe. Whether it’s a football fan in the Falklands, or a yoga buddy in Yokohama, there is always a tool to locate the perfect buddy, and this can be one of the most important steps in settling into a new home. read more
For most of us, a trip to the cinema is something you do on a Wednesday night cos you want to do something but not stay out late. Or a Saturday night because you don’t want to drink, but you don’t want to stay in. Or a Sunday afternoon. Or whenever really – going to the cinema is, traditionally, an everyday affair and the best you can hope is that the person behind or in front of you doesn’t eat their popcorn too loudly and that your nearest cinema isn’t going to gouge your eyes out with their prices.
Except that this is London, and in London you can find an out-of-the-ordinary experience for even the most banal activities. So which London cinemas should you look to for something a bit different?
The once-underground phenomenon that is street art has gone mainstream. Walk into any design bookshop and you can pick up a guide to the latest artists to make their mark on London’s canvas walls. Take a stroll down Brick Lane, through Hackney and Shoreditch and you’re bound to bump into a street art tour. Who to watch? There are many more but here’s a handful of artists who regularly leave their mark:
Afternoon Tea is about as quintessentially English as it gets, and establishments across London have cottoned on to the increasing popularity of this quaint, latter day delight. London is positively plastered with hotels and restaurants offering all manner of afternoon teas, from the traditional to the truly remarkable. Whilst there are too many to name here, I have selected a range to meet the desires of differing tastes. read more
I might say I'm going to a club tonight and you'd be none the wiser about what kind of night it was – could be cheese, r n b, swing, anything.
But if I say I'm going clubbing, then I’m sure it would conjure up certain expectations for the kind of place I’m patronising. You imagine I'm going somewhere that proffers rockin’ electro, dirty beats, filthy bass, heavy house, hard trance. And you’d be right.
And it is to the venues filling this role in the nightlife in London that I am going to talk about when I talk of places to go 'clubbing'. So here is a rundown of some of the best little clubs in London. read more
No one can deny that freshly baked bread is one of the best things in the world, but making the best bread around takes true skill, plenty of experience and a nod to tradition. The same goes for traditional patisseries – only experienced, authentic pastry chefs with a steady hand need apply. So if you’re hankering after a sweet treat, or a bit of crusty bread to dip into your winter soup, and if you’re looking for the finest authentic patisseries and traditional breads this side of Europe, then head to the capital to sample the wares of some of the best bakers in London.
Say the word ‘Camberwell’ to any black cab driver in London, and prepare for the blank expression, followed by the “Don’t go there mate”.The same also applies to any number of other such places south of the river. Within a couple of miles of the Thames; Forest Hill, Brockley, New Cross, Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth, Crystal Palace, and numerous others all draw the same response. You would think you were asking them to take you to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I believe one of the biggest misconceptions of London living is the cost. Yes, of course it can be expensive, but simultaneously no other city in world offers more for free than the ‘Big Smoke’. Residents of some of the UK’s smaller cities will undoubtedly agree that ‘there isn’t much to do’, and when there is limited choice, too there is often a high price to pay.
Despite the elevated rental costs, which can be overcome by the shrewd house hunter, and of course the Olympic-boosted council tax, London doesn’t need to be expansive, and indeed I survived in the city on less than a grand a month salary. read more
For any Londoner, the tube is a godsend that gets you from point A to point B. The thirteen colour-coded lines intertwine like an electrical diagram, and are the most efficient manner of transport across the city as you head across the river and to the four furthest ends on the giant mechanical snakes that tunnel under and over the city’s networks.
But for those who have read Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or China Miéville’s UnLunDun, we know that the Underground network holds a plethora of secrets from the commuters. Who are the Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line? Is there really a secret underground tube station for members of the Royal Family? We all know that some stations are temporarily closed for upgrade works or maintenance – but are there some that still exist which have experienced a more permanent closure? What are London’s Underground secrets? read more
With all manner of craft markets and niche social gatherings to visit, not to mention a vibrant night life, London has earned its reputation as excitement central. It attracts visitors from far and wide, and often a casual visitor to London will find themselves setting down roots and calling it ‘home’.
However, there’s more to the Big Smoke than simply satisfying the thrill-seekers and curiosity-hunters. Those looking for more than just a good time will find plenty of opportunities for self-improvement, with a huge variety of learning courses on offer in London. Learn everything from book-keeping to burlesque dancing, from millinery to zoology. Ever fancied learning some nifty dancing from the 1920s? No problem. Want to hone your Photoshop skills and start a new career as a photo editor in London? There’s a course for you! Find part-time learning courses in London quickly and easily with our round-up here, and learn something new in the coming New Year. read more
Though it may seem like every other shop in London is a Zara, Tesco or Starbucks, there are still many eccentric, vibrant independent shops thriving among the high street mega-brands. Here is a small list of some of the best. read more
Old film cameras are stacked on wooden tables and white buckets for “Norfolk Lavender” and “Chilled Wine” hang in the doorway of Alice’s on the antiques end of Portobello Market, one of the best markets in London. read more
For Londoners 277 is an important number, but most won't have a clue why. It just so happens that 277 is the number of hours the average Londoner spends commuting to and from work each year. That’s over 11 days each year spent in buses, trains, trams and traffic jams. Each year the same amount of time as the Paralympic Games! read more
Tackling the rental market in London can be a daunting prospect. London’s property is some of the most expensive in the world, yet this high value makes it a tempting investment, and both sales and rental markets in the city move extremely fast. read more
Mind the Gap. Wait for the green man. Caution: coffee is (not surprisingly!) hot. Don’t use heavy machinery under the influence. The world is full of don’ts, health and safety warnings and protection measures designed to keep us safe, keep us healthy and – perhaps most importantly for those with the signs – to keep us from suing. read more
London is one of the world’s greatest party and events cities. We’re famous for our street parties, we’ve gained global fame for our exceptional organisation skills thanks to events like the Olympics and the Jubilee, and we’re up for any excuse to host an event. It’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to England’s capital every year. read more
London in the 1600s brings to mind rats, the stench of rubbish, crowded streets, outbreaks of bubonic plague, the Great Fire, Shakespeare, horse-drawn carriages, dim light of oil lamps hanging outside houses and, of course, pub culture, which has continually played an important role in British history. It may have set the scene for bar fights, gambling and other debauchery, but pubs have long been the setting for great literary and artistic inspiration and where many great business ideas have been born. Queen Victoria once said: “Give my people plenty of beer, good beer, and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.” read more
One of the greatest appeals of London is the sheer amount of places to go. There are enough bars and restaurants alone to do one of each every day and never get through them all in a lifetime. Add in galleries, museums, cafes and… well, you get the idea.
The question is, how can you find the best London has to offer? With so much out there, nobody wants to waste their time and money in an establishment that isn’t fully deserving of either. Life is too short for bad wine, as they say.
London's ever so popular West End contains a vast and concentrated assortment of wine bars many of which are tucked away within the busy atmosphere or tiny streets. Here's some favorites; ideal for Christmas drinks to bring in the cheer! read more
London is a city of layers. The tourist trail is the shiny surface - from Big Ben to Piccadilly Circus and beyond. Beneath, the more unusual places to visit – strata of options which, depending on which part of the city you frequent most, vary in familiarity. Some of the most unusual places for one person in London, therefore, are some of the most ordinary for others and vice versa. Keeping an open ear, open eyes and an open mind can reveal a few hidden gems. read more
At times you’ll be tempted to just follow in Richard E. Grant’s footsteps in Withnail & I. And while smothering yourself in Deep Heat and getting up against the radiator till opening time seems the only solution some mornings, remember that you’ve got months more to get through.
I’ll also assume that, unlike Withnail or I, most of you are employed. In which case you’ve got the freeze-overheat-freeze conundrum of London’s public transport system. We’ll deal with this shortly.
No doubt you will have had the dulcet tones of Cliff Richards, or the jarring scream of Noddy Holder or some other such cheesy Christmas tune (or maybe you’re lucky and only get Fairytale of New York stuck in your head) pervading your thoughts and alerting you to the fact it is the holiday season. read more
If you're anything like me, you find the amount of choice in London for New Year's Eve both thrilling and daunting. Every venue worth it's salt knows it's a big night and puts something a little bit special on for it. So how do you pick? Well, budget, musical taste and willingness to travel all play a part, but to help you narrow it down somewhat we've picked some of the most interesting-looking nights out there.
Love it or hate it, at some point this Christmas you will find yourself humming; Naa, Na-Na-Na, and a Dum, Diddle diddly-dee-dee. For those who can't read music (ahem), I refer of course to the festive ditty the Twelve Days of Christmas. read more
For an increasingly large number of people, London is becoming the chosen destination for a career move, or simply a fresh start. It’s impossible to not be drawn to a place where you could line up enough daily activities for a lifetime and still not get to see everything, or get to eat almost every national cuisine in the world within just one city. read more
One of the many appeals of London is that there’s enough to keep one busy for a lifetime. However a city as busy, vibrant and buzzing as the capital can seem like it’s moving so fast that it leaves you behind in its wake. With so much to do, how do you keep a track of it all? And more importantly, how do you connect with the things that interest you? Let’s highlight some of our favourite blogs to help you along your journey! read more
Allow us to introduce ourselves on our brand new and long awaited blog…
We've spent the last few months helping local people find new and popular London restaurants, bars, shops, hangouts, and anything else you can think of by using Twitter and Facebook. Now, though, it’s time to take our London networking to the next level read more