Sightseeing My City – Cocktail Making at Battersea Power Station

28 Jul

What do you do in London when it’s the weekend and the sun is shining? Get down to Battersea Power Station and take part in an outdoor cocktail making master class, that’s what!

Well, that’s what we did anyway.

Because everyone loves food.

Because everyone loves food.

Battersea Power station is a monolith on the skyline of London; a testament to a different time, and now a protected building, well-known to Londoners. Having been derelict for years, it is now in the process of being turned into a new development of housing, and is set to regenerate the area.

.... has a silver lining

…. has a silver lining

So this summer is the last summer it will be free for Londoners, before the works are finished. Enter the Power of Summer.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

The Power of Summer exists to toast a new chapter in the stations history, with a 100 people capacity street market going on all week and at the weekends, boasting stalls like Bob’s Lobster and Randy’s Wing Bar. They offer open air cinema to the masses, with Premier Pods if you fancy a little more luxury, and hug beanbags for those who just want to snuggle down and watch a film in the sun.

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

“London finally has a chance to get up close and personal with this iconic building for what will be a truly unique series of events. We’re very excited about bringing the whole Street Feast experience to Battersea Power Station, along with Everyman’s inspired selection of films.” Dom Cools-Lartigue

Bob's Lobster - London renowned

Bob’s Lobster – London renowned

We were invited down to the Indytute Cocktail Making Class which was run by Ping Pong (one of our favourite places for Dim Sum) so we were pleasantly surprised. The sunny day (not as advertised, weatherman!) only made the day better, and soon we were head to head in a mojito making cocktail off.

cocktail champs!

cocktail champs!

let the battle commence!

let the battle commence!

Through the two hour session we learned to make original mojitos, blackberry and Chambord lovelies and hibiscus coolers, all with the original mojito as a base. We giggled along with the other guests and got very competitive, stopping only to sample the wares of (first) Dogtown’s amazing hotdogs, and then later on, after a good few cocktails, a pulled pork bun at Miss P’s BBQ. We spent a lot of time talking to the guy working the stall who told us all about how they smoke the meat for 14 hours and the history behind smoking. It made us starving, and also looking to go try out the smoked turkey they offer in Brixton around Christmas!

Have you ever tried a cocktail making class?

Sightseeing My City: Musical Bingo, The Best Kind of Bingo!

26 Jul

In the spirit of doing something a bit different this summer and broadening my horizons, I signed me and two friends up for Musical Bingo. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect so I forgive you for thinking I’ve cracked.

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We turned up at Drink, Shop, Do, a gorgeous café come shop in the middle of Kings Cross and perused the selection of cards and knitting yarns before heading down to the underground bar for our Musical Bingo extravaganza to begin.

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We ordered delicious rhubarb cocktails, and took our (reserved, ahhh yeeeaaahh) seats, ready for the Musical Extravaganza to begin.

The first round was 50’s. Not my forte, but there were some classics in there from the likes of Buddy Holly and Little Richard, and a birthday group of fifty something ladies on the table next to us who were quite drunk and really getting into the spirit of it, including inciting Mexican waves and jitterbug style dancing. Lady luck wasn’t on my side, but I had a good giggle as the compere paraded winners up and down the aisle with their loot, including a blow up guitar and a round of shots for their table.

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The next round was musicals, boasting classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Memory from Cats, and then we moved onto the last round, which was The Name Game.

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image courtesy of Indeedy Inc – HOW COOL IS THIS?

We had a great night singing along to classics and laughing along with the people on the table next to us, and I would strongly recommend a visit. I think it would be better in a larger group of people, but it’s also worth checking out the other activities they do at Drink, Shop, Do, such as Lionel Ritch-tea Biscuit Decorating and The Papier Mache Monster Mash.

Sadly I didn’t get many pictures (they all came out like a ghost standing against a white wall) so apologies!

Drink Shop Do | 9 Caledonian Road | Kings Cross | London | N1 9DX

Have you tried musical bingo?

Don’t Look Back, The Past Has Nothing To Say

24 Jul

Life is a funny thing. When we are living in the moment we feel our emotions with full force; when we are unhappy we can never see that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, when we are in love we can’t picture life without that euphoria, and when we are happy we can’t imagine any other way. We believe wholeheartedly in our youth, and the spot in which we stand right then and there.

But isn’t it amazing that when we have the power of time on our hands that we look at things in a different light? I spent some time reading some very old posts if mine this week, with the view to work out how my writing has improved and how I can strive for more, and I felt myself wanting to turn back to hold my younger self’s hand and tell her everything would feel better soon.

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Maybe it’s the invincibility of youth. Maybe it’s the nativity of younger years. But maybe we can learn from how we felt and how we reacted, and pull it forward to make ourselves better people.

I have had so many emotions running through my veins; the fear and adrenalin of striking out – ending a relationship, moving to a new city, leaving a job. Vie felt devastating sadness of ending relationships that I thought would last forever, both romantically and platonically (and more recently felt a shadow of that sadness when I read through posts from during those times) and I’ve seen extreme joy – the birth of my god-daughters and the pleasure of watching them grown into tiny people and experiencing their unwavering love. I’ve felt the winds of change and the waves of destiny; stepping off a plane in a country I’ve never been in and being aware of the opportunity in front of me and the chances I might have, and all of these things have shaped the person I’ve become.

Now I’m a bit more serene, yet a heap more confident in myself. I don’t care so much about what the world thinks about me, but am more confident in my belief in myself and being comfortable in my own skin. And I’ve learnt that however forceful the feeling s, however intensely you feel it, it will dissipate. It won’t vanish, but you will come to get used to it, and it will feel like an old friend. Comfortable and consistent. I miss my Granddad each day and although it creeps up on me sometimes and I feel it as keenly as the day he died, mostly it hugs me and holds my hand and I smile wistfully.

How has your life and experiences changed you as a person?

Summer Skin

23 Jul

I love the summer.

When I wake up in the morning and the sun is shining through the blinds and I feel the heat on my face, I’m happy. I forget the rainy days and the cold winters, and there is a spring in my step. I live for the warmth.

My skin however, hates it. It melts as soon as there is a little humidity and shines and flakes in equal measure. It’s a hot mess.

There is however, something I have done to go from looking like a spotty teenager to oozing a bit more poise, and my secret weapon is… cue drum roll… Clarins.

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When I left school, I worked for the brand in department stores up and down the land, and although their skincare was really good and gave me the expensive taste I now display while purchasing lotions and potions, the makeup wasn’t up to scratch. But recently the PR girls at Clarins got in touch with me, so I thought I would try it all again.

The products are amazing, and here are my top 3 (and I have EXTENSIVE knowledge of the range!) summer products:

1) Clarins Multi Active Day Lotion SPF15

I have skin that burns within minutes of sum exposure, so I have to have an SPF in my moisturiser. I have had fears since training in skincare that my face will show my age (although currently still getting carded for alcohol bolsters confidence on this one!) and the aim of the game is to protect my porcelain palette.

2) Clarins Hydra Quench Tinted Moisturiser20140723_181610

Goes on a bit like war paint, but bear with it. Once it’s all rubbed in it gives your skin a gorgeous glow, and doesn’t feel dry at all. Added points for the SPF, and if your skin is normal you don’t even need to worry with a day cream. I do, but my skin is like sand paper.

3) Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara.

Having forever been a fan of expensive mascaras, and a marketers dream when falling for ad campaigns, I bought this mascara in the airport, and loved it. Then I went to New York and couldn’t find it to replace, so opted for the one I had heard good things about with beauty bloggers – Bobbi Brown. Nothing in comparison. I’m now ploughing through it so I can buy another Wonder Perfect!

Bonus points for the Tonic range, which Father Christmas knows will keep me happy if he throws in my stocking.

What’s your favourite or most indulgent beauty product? *

*Sorry guys, this one isn’t for you. Normal service will be reinstated tomorrow!

It’s Christmas Jim, But Not As We Know It

22 Jul

We all have them. The brands you look to when the shit hits the fan and you have completely forgotten your mother’s birthday. The brands you go to when you knew you should have bought something for the engagement party you are attending at the weekend, but just didn’t get round to it. The brands you visit when your friend has a baby and you want a cracking card to celebrate the fact that they can eat cheese and shellfish again without fear.jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Mine is Not on the High Street (if you’ve read my posts before you will remember them) so when they invited me to their Christmas In July event, I was pretty interested. We’ll let them off for actually talking about Christmas event in the heat of the summer (as that’s what all the big brands do) so glossing smoothly over that, I turned up in anticipation of lots of fun goodies to make me look cool this Yule (even I sighed as I typed this).

I wasn’t disappointed.

As a brand, they are pretty cool. Over the years I have struck lucky for difficult presents (especially my father, who is a nightmare to buy for) choosing cherry trees for the garden and grown your own mushrooms set. Boyfriends Dad was sorted out with a gear stick style bottle stopper, and my wall decal in the old flat was found in the treasure trove decal section on the site. Perfect for making a rental flat home, as it doesn’t damage the wall on the way out!

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Their Christmas range wipes the floor with all my previous Christmas purchases too. I found a perfect iPhone gramophone for my sister (although at £500 I might need to rethink) as well as some gorgeous tree decorations. I buy my god-daughter a tree decoration every year, but it gets a bit difficult to be imaginative after a while! I know where ill head when it comes to me thinking it acceptable to do my Christmas shopping this year.

So that being said, I’ll leave you with some of the fantastic things that are on offer.

Once again NOTHS, outstanding work.

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

NOTHS

Worlds most coveted “&” sign. Not sure if the boy would accept it in the flat, but I MUST HAVE IT

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The gramaphone of dreams. Mainly my sisters as I’m not buying it for her

Sightseeing My City: Lazy Weekends in Central

21 Jul

There is always something going on in London, and this weekend wasn’t any different. On Saturday I met a friend and we visited Spitalfields (as we do a lot of weekends, its such a fun place) to find things to jazz up the bar area she is having built in her flat. We found a really fun pineapple shaped ice bucket, as well as some Andy Warhol lettering to spell out BAR and some amusing pictures of dinosaur dressed in suits, titled “Lads Night Out”.

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

And on Sunday, we visited Carnaby Street, where I head read there was to be a food festival complete with demonstrations from top chefs.

I love Carnaby Street. Minus the crowds of tourists, it’s a fun inner sanctum in the otherwise faceless Oxford Circus and despite it still being chain stores; it has so much more personality.

Liberty sits at the entrance like a beacon on a ship; in my opinion one of the most beautiful buildings in the area.

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

The old fashion department store has tiny rooms filled with designer goods and fancy wares, but the highlight is the flower stall out the front, it’s so gorgeous. Whoever decides what posies to team with which is a genius, and it’s a pleasure to walk past in such a busy city.

Liberty of London

Liberty of London

The streets of Carnaby Street were adorned with stalls and peppered with the smells of scores of different cuisines cooking away.

Carnaby Street Eat

Carnaby Street Eat

We perused through Cha Cha Moon, The Diner, Masala Zone and many other favourites before opting to take a seat in the diner and gorge on American style favourites. 4

There was a pretty cool stand called Bunnychow which I had heard of but never tried; rolls hollowed out and crammed with a combination of fillings. Definitely doubling back for one of those one day soon!

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If you are in London, you must visit Carnaby Street. Where is your favourite place to visit at the weekend?

Sightseeing My City: Royal Maritime Greenwich, London

18 Jul

As a Londoner, there are a lot of things that I expect tourist guides to recommend. They’ll tell you to go on the London Eye, visit the Tower of London and take a trip through Hyde Park – all the places genuine inhabitants avoid at the weekends to stay away from the hordes of people. But seeing as I love to collect Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books, I thought it would be good to get one for my own city, and see if there was anything I was missing out on.

I was really surprised to find it recommends Royal Greenwich, and even more surprised to find it was a UNESCO protected area. I lived about ten minutes on the bus away for over a year, and had never taken the time to go and visit. I knew the Cutty Sark was there and the market was pretty good for foodies, but that was about all I knew about the area.

Fun and games trying on the old school headgear

Fun and games trying on the old school headgear

So last weekend, with my sister visiting and my friend staying, we decided to do the touristy thing. We took the Thames Clipper down the river to Greenwich, and explored.

Firstly, there is so much to do and see there. As you disembark the Clipper you see the Cutty Sark; the world’s only surviving tea clipper, and round the corner to the Old Naval Museum which is absolutely stunning and a museum, designed mainly for kids but with lots of fun stuff to do, like pretending to be a knight of the round table.

Ill leave you with the photos!

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Sightseeing My City: Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton, London

17 Jul

Don’t get me wrong, the weather in London can be a right pain in the bum. Knowing what to wear to make sure that you are warm / dry enough to brave the bitter winds and end of the world style rain, but to be warm enough for the humid greenhouse effect on the Tube could send even the sanest over the edge.

But when its summer, it’s glorious. Everyone is friendly, people flock to the parks and our office area puts out brightly coloured deck chairs and a screen for people to watch the summer sports and socialise. It’s nice. Amazing what a bit of vitamin D can do for your mentality, isn’t it?

Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton | London

Rooftop Cinema at the Queen of Hoxton | London

And during the summer, we have the Rooftop Cinema. Rooftops and bars open up their outdoor spaces to open air cinema screenings, showing classics and film favourites, and we book tickets to our favourite golden oldies and sit happily. They provide blankets (it’s still England, people. You never can tell), you can buy popcorn, and generally have a great time.

Last year I went to see 500 Days of Summer (not very fitting, we had to leave half an hour early thanks to the rain and wind in August, but one of my favourite films nonetheless) and this week my American visitor and I booked Bridget Jones Diary.

I am a huge Bridget fan. I was ten when the first book came out, and fifteen when the film was released. I think a lot of the humour went over my head at that age, but its shown so much on the TV at Christmas that I feel like I have grown up with her and her friends. Blue soup is often a joke amongst my nearest and dearest, and a Mr Darcy moment is no longer just reserved to Jane Austin, but also to the character played by Colin Firth. Its great.

And what a fantastic setting! Last year’s location was Peckham Rye, which is essentially a concrete rooftop on top of a café venue. It was great fun, but they upped their game this year, with sponsorship from British Airways. When we arrived at the Queen of Hoxton our tickets were converted to boarding passes and there was a large BBQ and bar. The Queen of Hoxton is also a great place in the summer to go for a rooftop drink, and has amazing views, especially as the sun set.

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Smile!!! It’s not raining.

Do you have rooftop cinema in your city? Would you go?

The Macaroon Afternoon*

16 Jul

I’m not a huge fan of stepping out of my comfort zone, but I do see the benefit of forcing myself to do things that scare me. Long gone are the days when I used to hide behind my mothers long skirts and duck my sister throwing mud at me, and now I must stand alone (mainly because at nearly thirty it would be a bit weird for me to be hiding behind said Mother, who, like Yoda, is now smaller than me.

When I saw a deal on macaron making classes, I roped in my BFF and booked us a slot.

Macarons

And it was great fun! We rocked up in our pair and it became immediately apparent that there were three types of people who did this sort of thing.

1)      The Fun Finders.

So us, and the hen do that were also there. Not down with taking life too seriously, none of us cried when anything went wrong – we had fun and were amazingly pleased with the outcome.

2)      The Die Hard Bakers

identifiable by the fact they arrived alone (no BFF to weigh them down) and immediately were drawn to each other, to make a ‘powerpair’. Before you could draw your whisk for a duel they were bonding over their previous successes and failures in independent macaron making, shouting buzzwords such as lavender water and rose oil. We made a beeline for the opposite end of the room, as every time we laughed in the queue they glared. No funsies.

3)      The ‘One More Enthusiastic Than The Other’ Couple

Lets face it, boys and macaron making do not go seamlessly together on the whole; they are no sausage and mash. The reluctant boys turned up, dragged along by their girlfriends as a fun day out, and looked perturbed to be there. One had an attitude where he rolled his eyes at the fun personality of the instructor, only to be shot down in glares from us girls who were there to have a good time, LOVED her, and weren’t prepared to have anyone steal her sparkle. Then there was the guy with the huge beard, who unfortunately got covered in macaron mixture fairly early on and spent the rest of the time picking it out of his beard. Hahah!

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We macarooned with the best of them for three hours, adding colours and fillings, and generally learning a whole lot. I have to take some time to talk about Jojo, the instructor, as she had the most addictive personality and was one of the loveliest women I have had the pleasure of meeting. So much so that when I asked my friend if she wanted to go to another one, she said she would happily pay thirty pounds to sit in a room with Jojo for 2 hours as a self-confidence booster.

If you want to try out the macaron making classes, you can book here from the fantastic Flammen and Citronen. I think it would be a really fun thing to build into a hen weekend, or something unusual to do if you had friends to stay.

*Actually, that’s not what we did. A macaroon is a small cake made with coconut; a French Macaron is two little bites of dreaminess sandwiched together with buttercream. We made the latter, but I wasn’t going to let the truth get in the way of a good title!

Progress With Purpose – Living Life Intentionally

15 Jul

A year or so ago I wrote a post about “Living Life Intentionally”, which you can read here. It was inspired by other people’s passion and need to live their lives with purpose, and something that I wholeheartedly embraced.

Then, in November last year, I lost my Granddad. A beloved man, he had an opinion on everything and was the encyclopaedia of life that I consulted daily. I miss him horribly, but it was only then that I felt I had to commit to the life of living my life with purpose, and not letting one day fade gracelessly into the next.

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And 2014 has delivered on my living of life. I have travelled, visiting San Diego, California in February and Bergen and the UNESCO protected Bryggen Harbour, Norway, in March. May saw me in Vancouver, Canada, and during the month of June I lived in the West Village of Manhattan, New York and spent a month working in my company’s office there.

But it’s not just limited to travelling. I have embraced new classes at the gym, visited new restaurants and sampled things from the menu that I have never tasted before, said “yes” to strangers reaching out the hand of friendship and moving me out of my comfort zone and gone on new experiences such as walking tours of the city and macaroon making classes. And I’ve loved every second.

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Still to come, I have booked a trip to Paris, a city I have always wanted to but never visited, booked a pork pie making class, planned a tour of London’s tea rooms, and am currently planning a trip to Iceland for the northern lights in November and a Christmas in (possibly) Bali. Last weekend I dined in a restaurant called Archipelago (review to follow) which is said to be the most unusual restaurant in London, boasting python carpaccio, zebra jerky and crocodile, and I’m constantly working new experiences into the mix.

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Do one thing every day that scares you, and live life with purpose. Its fleeting and you might just find it has slipped from your fingertips.

What’s your favourite example of living life intentionally?

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