Winter has well and truly arrived. The temperatures have dropped, the woollies are out and hot alcohol is suddenly the trendy thing to drink right now. As much as I love London, we rarely get cold enough to have snow so winter is the capital is never quite as glamorous as it would be in Meribel or Aspen.
However, the team behind the popular Archer Street bar are on hand to transport you from the bustling and chilly streets of Soho to a cosy winter escape. The downstairs bar has been transformed into a pop-up ski lodge bar Piste, which will get you in the festive mood with a range of special cocktails. The bar has been inspired by Scandinavian mountain cabins and Swiss chalets, featuring reindeer fur, vintage skis and a roaring fire, so you can imagine you’ve enjoying an après-ski tipple.
Among the drinks on offer will be the ‘King Of The Alps’ made with Tanqueray gin, blended with King ginger liqueur, fresh lime, apple juice and a whole pear and mixed with cinnamon and maple syrup, or the ‘Glow Plough’, comprising of Grey Goose shaken with homemade mulled port syrup, fresh lime, cranberry juice, egg white and finished with a floating glow stick.
Piste is the latest pop-up from the Archer Street team, who change the downstairs area every six months with different themed pop-ups, such as polo-inspired Chukka and Brazilian-themed Barzinho for the World Cup last summer. Meanwhile, upstairs the original Archer Street is open Monday to Saturdays, a spacious two floor venue with 400 capacity.
- Piste at Archer Street, 3-4 Archer Street, Soho, W1D 7AP. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus. Piste is open Thursday to Saturday from 6pm – 1am. For more information, visit the Archer Street website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
To read about another London pop-up The Little Yellow Door, click here.
For Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
With the re-development of Victoria station and the surrounding area, Belgravia is the next hot postcode. Although long renowned as an upmarket residential and business area of the capital, SW1 has been lacking in choice of nightlife and restaurants.
Located at the prestigious address of Grosvenor Gardens opposite the Goring Hotel, Kouzu is a new contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar. The restaurant encompasses two floors in the Grade II-listed former National Bank Belgravia branch, which closed in 1970. Overseen by head chef Kyoichi Kai (formerly of the Arts Club and Zuma), the kitchen is staffed by an all-Japanese crew, ensuring authentic cuisine.
Upon arrival, we were given a Japanese greeting by all the staff, which was a nice touch. We were seated on a cosy table for two, under the window and near the bar, providing an intimate dining experience. Aside from the wine list, there is an extensive cocktail list full of many original creations alongside traditional favourites. We started with a Bellini with a twist – with a peach liqueur espuma on top and mist of peach bitters, which was light and fluffy and a Momo Awa, a red fruity concoction. The cocktail menu looked so good, we decided to forgo our usual wine accompaniment for the meal and went on to order Sakura Ume and Passion Victoria cocktails for our mains.
The menu features a wide range of sushi, sashimi, salads, small plates and grills. We were in the mood to mix things up so decided to try a mix of sushi, nigiri and hot dishes. To start with I ordered the Blanched Spinach, Sesame Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Although a simple dish, it will certainly please spinach-lovers such as myself. The combination of sesame sauce and seeds gave the spinach an unusual twist, but I loved the two flavours together. My friend opted for the Prawn Tempura, served on a salad, which I was able to try. The tempura was light and not oily at all – a welcome contrast to often greasy tempura I have eaten at other restaurants.
For main, I ordered a mix of sushi and Nigiri – Cucumber rolls with salmon, mackerel and scallop, with homemade Wasabi on the side. The fish nigiri tasted fresh and rich in flavour, with the beds of rice cooked to perfection, just sticky enough to remain intact between the chopsticks. My friend opted for the grilled salmon, which was well cooked and served with crunchy vegetables. With the manageable size of our first mains, we continued with the Chef’s Selection of sashimi, a fine spread of raw fish including toro, salmon, yellow tail, scallop and tuna, which was delicious and filling.
As we were pretty indecisive with the mouth-watering dessert menu, we ended up sharing a selection between us. The Crème Brulee had a Japanese twist as it was served with Maccha (powder green tea), which gave it a lovely savoury hint. The Dacquoise and Fig cake was an appetising light dish, perfect for after such a filling meal. The desserts were accompanied by various flavours of ice cream, but I particularly enjoyed the sesame, yuzu (Asian citrus fruit) and salted caramel flavours. The sesame ice cream admittedly sounded strange, but was delicious. It was an unusual combination of sweet and savoury, and took a few bites before I was able to process the taste and realise I liked it.
Overall, all the dishes were brilliant. With Kouzu’s contemporary twist on traditional Japanese dishes, it was quite the culinary adventure. The service was attentive and fast, while the setting proved for a relaxing environment. I would definitely recommend for Japanese food connoisseurs or those looking for a special venue for a birthday or other occasion.
- Kouzu, 19 – 20 Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, SW1W 0BD. Tel: 020 7730 7043. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the Kouzu restaurant website.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of Kouzu restaurant for this review.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
There’s no denying it, these days the run up to Christmas kicks off a lot earlier than 1 December. With more of us looking for more unique and special gifts for our loved ones and friends, there’s no surprise that many of us are turning to fairs and markets to find something different. Here’s a guide of both long-term and one-off Christmas shopping events in London, kicking off this November onwards.
For Metro Girl’s guide to open-air ice rinks this season, click here.
Or for a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
- 14 November to 23 December : Christmas Market @ Wembley Park
Get in the festive spirit with the market and accompanying ice rink. Free entry. 10am-8pm. Outside the London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley, HA9 0QL. Nearest station: Wembley Stadium (National Rail) or Wembley Park (tube). For more information, visit the Wembley website.
- 21 November – 4 January 2015 : Traditional German Christmas Market at Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. Free entry. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. For a blog post on Metro Girl’s visit to Winter Wonderland, click here.
- 25 November – 28 December : Christmas at the N1 Centre
Wooden chalet style Christmas market will be in Islington in the weeks running up to Christmas. Free entry. Opening hours vary. N1 Centre, 21 Parkfield Street, Islington, N1 0PS. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the N1 Centre website.
- 8 – 21 December : More London Festive Market
The Scoop – located next to City Hall on the Southbank with views of Tower Bridge – hosts a two week market featuring food, drink, craft stalls and live entertainment. Santa is also expected to make a cameo appearance. Free entry. Open 11am-7pm. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the More London website.
- 12 – 21 December : Barbican Christmas Market
The Barbican’s foyers will be transformed into a (indoor!) Christmas shopping extravaganza with 35 independent stalls selling quality vintage and designer clothes, arts and crafts, jewellery, books and toys . Free entry. Mon–Fri 4pm–8.30pm, Sat & Sun 12-8.30pm. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.
One-off or short-term Christmas fairs
- 12 – 16 November : Country Living Christmas Fair
Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations. Tickets: Adults £13 in advance, £16.50 on the door, Children £8 in advance. Opening time vary. Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.
- 22 November : Christmas Market @ St John at Hampstead
Christmas market in Hampstead, featuring gift, treats and presents. St John-at-Hampstead Church, Church Row, Hampstead, NW3 6UU. Nearest tube: Hampstead. For more information, visit the church website.
- 23 November : Hampstead Christmas Festival
As well as stalls serving gifts, food and drink, there will also be a fairground, Santa’s Grotto, reindeer, face-painting, circus acts and performances from Babs Savage, Charlie Manning, Mad Dog Bites, The Runner Brothers and Rock Choir. A mystery celebrity will be turning on the Christmas lights. Free. 12-5pm. High Street, Hampstead, NW3. Nearest tube: Hampstead. For more information, visit the Hampstead village website.
- 26 November : Red Cross London Christmas Fair at Kensington Town Hall
Includes over 90 stalls and the chance to enter competitions to win great prizes. Ticket: £10, includes a glass of wine and entry to the eventing drinks and canapé reception from 6pm. Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 7NX. Nearest tube: High Street Kensington. For more information, visit the Red Cross website.
- 29 November : Christmas Bazaar @ Dulwich Picture Gallery
Over 40 local artisans will be selling crafts, pottery, jewellery, toiletries and more. 10am-5pm. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich, SE21 7AD. Nearest train station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. For more information, visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
- 29 November : Christmas Market @ Forty Hall
Christmas market inside a Grade I-listed Jacobean manor house. 12-4pm. Free entry. Forty Hall Museum and Gardens, Enfield, EN2 9HA. Nearest train station: Turkey Street. For more information, visit the Forty Hall Estate website.
- 29 – 30 November : Christmas Fair at Chelsea Psychic Garden
Two day festival at London’s oldest Botanical garden. Stallholders will be selling garden paraphernalia, unique jewellery, cashmere clothing, Ceramics, food, and leather goods, amongst others, in heated marquees. Guides will be available to show guests the gardens. Breakfast, lunch and mulled wine will also be on sale. Entry £5, friends of CPG free, Under 16s free. 10am-4pm. Chelsea Psychic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS. Nearest tube: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Chelsea Psychic Garden website.
- 29 -30 November : Crafty Fox Christmas Market at Dalston
Over 40 unique traders, there will also be DJs, Mr Wingate’s screen-printing workshop, pop-up tea room from The Tea’s Knees and life-size art by Jimbobart. 11am-5pm. Free entry. Farr’s School of Dancing, 17 – 19 Dalston Lane, Dalston, E8 3DF. Nearest overground: Dalston Junction. For more information, visit the Crafty Fox website
- 30 November : Belgravia Christmas Sunday
Craft stalls, boutique markets, brass bands, choirs, Santa and his reindeer and more festive fun will be spread across Elizabeth Street and Pimlico Road. 12-5pm. Entry free. Nearest tube: Victoria, Knightsbridge or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Belgravia residents website.
- 30 November : Friends of Dulwich College Christmas Fair
Christmas fair in the grounds of historic Dulwich College in South London featuring food, gifts, raffle, games, cafe and Santa Claus. 11am-4pm. Free entry. Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, SE21 7LD. Nearest train: West Dulwich. For more information, check out the Friends of Dulwich College website.
- 1 December : The City Christmas Fair at Drapers Hall
Annual fair in aid of Wellbeing of Women, including stalls, champagne bar and a silent auction. 11am-8pm. Tickets £5. Drapers’ Hall, Throgmorton Street, EC2N 2DQ. Nearest tube: Bank or Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Wellbeing of Women website.
- 3 – 5 December : Islington Christmas Gift Fair
Indoor fair with stalls featuring everything from fashion to homewares to toys. Opening times vary. Admission: £3 (going to the Make-A-Wish foundation). Islington Assembly Hall (beside Town Hall), Upper Street, N1 2UD. Nearest tube: Angel or Highbury & Islington. For more information, visit the fair’s website.
- 5 – 7 December : Winter Village in Hackney
Stalls selling run by artisans, ceramicists, artists, fashion designers and jewellery designers. There will also be a street food quarter and live music on the outdoor stage. Free entry. Open Fri 5-9pm, Sat and Sun 11am-7pm. St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, E5 0PD. Nearest train/Overground: Hackney Central. For more information, visit the City Showcase Markets website.
- 6 December : Carshalton Frost Fair
Winter event in the grounds of the historic buildings at Carshalton Ponds. Featuring farmers’ market, craft stalls, choirs, a brass band, clog and Morris dancing, festive entertainment, hot food, hog roast, Father Christmas’ Grotto and Punch and Judy shows. Free entry. 1-6pm. Nearest train station: Carshalton. For more information, visit the EcoLocal website.
- 6 – 7 December : Christmas Craft Fair & Santa’s Grotto at Sutton House
This National Trust, Grade II-listed Tudor property will open its doors for two days to host pop-up shops, the chance to eat mince pies and sip mulled wine and visit Santa. Open 11am-6pm. Entry: £1. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest Overground: Homerton. For more information, visit the Sutton House website.
- 6 – 7 December : Horniman Christmas Fair
Christmas fair in the gardens of the Horniman Museum with festive food, mulled wine and Yuletide activities in the museum and gardens. There will also be performances from community choirs on Sunday 7 December from noon. Free. 10.30am-5pm. Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest Overground/train station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman website.
- 6 – 7 December : Crafty Fox Christmas Market at Brixton
Over 50 unique traders, there will also be DJs, Lucie Ellen’s bunting necklace workshops and Mr Wingate’s screen-printing workshop, pop-up tea room from The Tea’s Knees. Free entry. 11am-5pm. 389 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LQ. Nearest tube/rail: Brixton. For more information, visit the Crafty Fox Website
- 6 – 7 December : White Christmas Fair @ Battersea
Over 40 stalls, while the Doodle Bar is open serving mulled wine and hot toddies. The London Distillery Company will be offering whiskey tastings and tours. Free. 10am-5pm. Testbed1, 33 Parkgate Road, Battersea, SW11 4NP. Nearest train station: Battersea Park. For more information visit the White Christmas Fair website.
- 7 December : Morley Winter Fair
Morley College hosts a festive fair, featuring arts and craft stalls, street food, live music and dance, family activities, and demonstrations. Free entry. 11am-3pm. Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7HT. Nearest station: Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Morley College website.
- 6 -7 and 13 - 14 December : Festive Christmas Market at Morden Hall Park
Over two consecutive weekends, the Natural Trust run Morden Hall Park will host a Christmas market, featuring local food and craft tables, live music and carols, mulled wine and roasting chestnuts and the chance to visit Father Christmas. 10am-5pm. Morden Hall Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 5JD. Nearest tube: Morden or Phipps Bridge tramlink. For more information, visit the Morden Hall Park website.
- 12 – 14 December : Chelsea Christmas Gift Fair
Indoor Christmas fair featuring food, fashion, homewares and lots of our gifts. Entry: £3. Opening times: Sat - 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road, SW3 5EE. Nearest tube: South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the fair’s website.
- 13 December : Dusty Fingers German Winter Wonderland
Vintage fashion fair along with stalls selling arts and crafts, gifts and hampers with the chance to buy German themed food and drink. The Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Clapton, E5 0PU. Nearest Overground: Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Dusty Fingers Facebook page.
- 13 – 14 December : Crafty Fox Christmas Market at Peckham
Over 50 stalls, there will also be DJs, live art, a café and lots of workshops. Free entry. Open daily 11am-5pm. Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4ST. Nearest rail: Peckham Rye. For more information, visit the Crafty Fox Website
- 16 – 20 December : Leadenhall Festive Market
Finish off your Christmas shopping while enjoying festive food and drink. Free entry. Open daily 11am-4pm. Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, EC3V 1LR. Nearest tube/train: Bank, Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the City of London website.
The Southbank is one of London’s most heavily tourist-populated areas, thanks to the London Eye, London Dungeon, Aquarium and view of the Houses of Parliament to name but a few. Those who have lived in London a long time, know this is a relatively recent phenomena, having really kicked off with the opening of the London Eye by the southern shores of the Thames in 2000. Prior to the 1950s – when the Royal Festival Hall was built for the Festival Of Britain – the Southbank was a place of industry, which has long since gone.
Standing on the south side of Westminster Bridge, just by the pedestrianised steps leading down to the front of County Hall, is a proud-looking stone lion. Tens of thousands of people – predominantly tourists – walk over Westminster Bridge every day to get a selfie of themselves with Big Ben behind or to board the Eye for a 360 degree vista of the capital and many not even notice him. He stands tall at 12 feet at a width of 13 feet, weighing an impressive 13 tonnes.
While the grey-coloured lion looks very comfortable against the backdrop of the similarly coloured County Hall building, his origins weren’t quite so low-key. This sculpture was originally red and belonged to the Red Lion Brewery, an imposing great building on the site of the Royal Festival Hall. The brewery was designed by Francis Edwards and built between 1836–7 for owner James Goding. The site spread south of Belvedere Road after Goding acquired land for stables and warehouses as his beer empire expanded. (For an image of the Red Lion Brewery, click here). Our current lion was one of two red ones which stood at the brewery – a great emblem for the beer brand. What makes these lions special is they are made of Coade stone – a type of stoneware made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, named after its creator Eleanor Coade (1733-1821). Coade’s Artificial Stone Company stood not far away on Westminster Bridge Road.
The red lions stood on the site for nearly 100 years until the brewery was damaged in a fire in 1931. The semi-ruined building was briefly used as storage for waste paper before lying derelict for years before it was demolished in 1949 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall. Apparently King George VI (1895-1952) rather liked our lion and encouraged city planners to find a new home for him. The lion was then moved to Station Approach outside Waterloo railway station, but that home didn’t last long either when the station was later expanded.
Finally, in 1966, the lion was restored to his original Coade Stone grey colour and placed on a plinth outside County Hall, where he remains today. During his final move, the name of the noted sculptor William F Woodington (1806-1893) was found engraved on one of the paws, along with the date 24 May 1837. He is now Grade II-listed by English Heritage. As for his twin, the other lion is now painted gold and stands at the Rowland Hill Memorial Gate at Twickenham Stadium 12 miles away. (For a photo of the Twickenham lion, click here).
- The Southbank Lion stands on the south east corner of Westminster Bridge. Nearest tube: Waterloo or Westminster.
For more of Metro Girl’s London history posts, click here.
Open-air ice skating has fast become a tradition for many Londoners around Christmas time. This year sees some temporary venues open earlier than ever, with many open for over two months. The activity is incredibly popular so it’s highly recommended that you book tickets in advance. Session lengths and times vary between venues. Of course, all are closed on Christmas Day, with most finishing early on Christmas Eve. Some – such as Somerset House – have club nights so you can try your hand at ice dancing.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.
- 30 October – 4 January 2015 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink
A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Opening hours vary. Session times last 1 hour. Adults from £12.65, Children 12 and under from £8.60. Nearest tube: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.
- 1 November – 28 February 2015 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf
In the middle of the soaring skyscrapers on Canary Wharf and surrounded by shops is another pop-up rink. There will also be a Christmas Market nearby from 17 November – 24 December. Session times last 1 hour. First session times vary from 9.45am/10.45am ending at 11pm most nights. Adults £14.50, Children £9. Canada Square, E14 5AB. Nearest tube Canary Wharf. To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.
- 11 November – 11 January 2015 : Skate at Somerset House
One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Session times last 1 hour and are from 10am until 10.30pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Adults and children start from £8.80. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.
- 14 November – 4 January 2015 : Ice Skating Wembley Park
Ice skate in the grounds of Wembley Park outside the London Designer outlet. There will also be a Christmas market on from 14 November – 23 December. Open 11am-8pm Sun to Thurs and 11am-8pm Fri and Sat. Tickets: Adults start from £10.80, Children start from £9.45/£7.65. Cheaper if booked online in advance. London Designer Outlet, Wembley, HA9 0PA. Nearest tube/train: Wembley Stadium or Wembley Park. For more information, visit the Wembley website.
- 15 November – 4 January 2015 : Eyeskate @ London Eye
A newer addition to the open air ice rinks is the raised rink in the park shadowed by the London Eye. Open daily from 10am until 9pm. Session times last 45 minutes . Adults £10.50 (£9.45 online), Children £7.50 (£6.75 online). London Eye, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest tube: Waterloo or Embankment. To book, visit the Eyeskate website.
- 17 November – 26 February 2015 : Broadgate Ice
Temporary ice rink at Broadgate Circle in the City of London is open for over three months. This year’s rink will be accompanied by luxury pop-up bar and restaurant The Tasting Room, which will serve smoked dishes, gourmet doughnuts, local craft beers and winter warmers. Open 10am-10pm. Session times last 1 hour. Adults £12.50, Children £8.50. Broadgate Circle, EC2M 2QS. Nearest tube: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit Broadgate’s website.
- 20 November – 4 January 2015 : Westfield Ice Rink
In between shopping, enjoy a spot of skating at Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush. Will host also host DJ evenings, family days, date nights and student events. Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-6pm. Adults: £9-£13.50 (online), Children: £7-£8.00 (online). Westfield shopping centre, Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7GF. Nearest tube: Wood Lane or Shepherd’s Bush. To book, visit the Westfield website.
- 21 November – 4 January 2015 : Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
Skate in front of King Henry VIII’s favourite London residence. Session times last 1 hour. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £11.50/£13, Children £9.50/£8.50. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest train Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). To book, visit the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink website.
- 21 November – 4 January 2015 : Ice Skate Vauxhall
A new ice rink this year comes to Vauxhall, not far from the River. Open daily from 11am-8/9pm. Tickets: Adults start from £10.80, Children start from £9.45/£7.65. Cheaper if booked online in advance. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HL. Nearest tube/train: Vauxhall. For more information, visit Ice Skate Vauxhall website.
- 21 November – 4 January 2015 : Ice Rink @ Winter Wonderland
A pop-up ice rink at the annual Winter Wonderland in the south east corner of Hyde Park. Session times last 1 hour. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £10.50/£14.50, Children £8.50/£9.50. Hyde Park, W2 2UH. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. To book, visit the Winter Wonderland website. For a sneak peek, check out Metro Girl’s blog posting on last year’s Winter Wonderland.
- 2 December - 1 January 2015 : Winterville
Pop-up rink in this alternative festive wonderland in East London. Skating times vary, but Winterville is open from 10am-10pm. Tickets: Adults £10.50/£12, Children: £7.50/£8.50. Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, E9 7DD. Nearest tube/train: Hackney Wick, Mile End or Cambridge Heath. For more information, visit the Winterville website
- 7 December – 11 January 2015 : JW3
Pop-up ice rink at the Piazza at JW3, the Jewish Community Centre London. Also including café serving mulled wine, hot drinks, etc. Tickets prices TBC. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET. Nearest station: Finchley Road and Frognal. To book, visit the JW3 website.
And if you fancy ice skating any other times of the year, these rinks are open all year round…
- Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY.
- Streatham Ice Rink, 390 Streatham High Road, Streatham, SW16 6HX.
- Lea Valley Ice Centre, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, E10 7QL.
- Queens Ice And Bowl, 17 Queensway, Bayswater, W2 4QP.
Like many, I was a huge fan of Lego growing up. Forget dolls and playing ‘house’, I preferred to build houses, towns and goodness knows what else with Lego bricks. Now I doubt Lego has ever really fallen out of favour with children over the decades, but it certainly seems to be cooler than ever at the moment, following the release of the Lego movie earlier this year.
Following successful showings in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Shanghai and Singapore, artist Nathan Sawaya’s Art Of The Brick exhibition has finally arrived in London. Running at the Old Truman Brewery until January, AOTB features over 75 sculptures made from over 1 million Lego bricks. Although I missed the launch, I went along recently with my sister (a fellow childhood Lego aficionado) to see how humble plastic bricks can be used to create pieces of art.
After watching a short video with an introduction to American artist Sawaya and his inspiration, we then started in the ‘classics’ section of the exhibition, where he had created Lego versions of iconic artwork such as Rodin’s The Thinker, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. While it was admirable to see these recreations, we were more interested to see Sawaya’s original pieces. His creations ranged from small to huge, with information boxes detailing his inspiration, the meaning and how many bricks used. It was interesting to see contrasting size sculptures sometimes having surprisingly close number of bricks involved to make them.
Among the recognisable pieces of Sawaya’s work ‘Yellow’, a sculpture of a male torso opening his chest to reveal bricks spilling out. My favourite was ‘The Swimmer’, which was stunningly lit in its own room, featuring only the top half of a swimmer that you would see out of the water. The pièce de résistance was the huge T-Rex, made with 80,000 bricks and measuring over six metres in length.
An exhibition for both adults and children, there is also an Interactive Zone at the end so you can make your own creation. But given Sawaya’s sculptures took over 4,188 hours to make, budding Lego artists may find their options are limited. For those looking for some nostalgia or those with an interest in art made from non-traditional materials, I can recommend checking out Art Of The Brick.
- The Art Of The Brick exhibition runs at the Old Truman Brewery from now until 4 January 2015. Tickets: Adults: £14.50-£16.50, Children under 12: £8-£9.50. Open daily, hours vary. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit The Art Of The Brick website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
With October and Halloween out of the way, it can be hard to enjoy November without the looming thought of Christmas hanging over your head. The dropping temperatures also make us more reluctant to go out and about during your free time because the sofa and TV can be so appealing. However, there is plenty of fun things on in the capital to lure you away from your home – many free and also in the warm indoors.
For a guide to open air ice rinks in London this winter, click here.
For a guide to Christmas markets and fairs, click here.
- 1 November : Nightmare on Camden High Street
One day festival in Camden, featuring live music and parties at venues across town including Brewdog, Dingwalls, Electric Ballroom, Jazz Café, Hawley Arms, The Barfly and Our Black Heart. Acts include King Charles, Blood Red Shoes, Inme, Howling Bells, Night Engine and dozens more. Tickets £20 for a wristband which allows you access to various events, capacity depending. Nearest tube/train: Camden Town, Chalk Farm and Camden Road. For more information and listings, visit the Nightmare Festival website.
- 1- 2 November : Regent Street Motorshow and London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
On 1 November, 300 cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow from 10.30am-4pm. On 2 November the Veteran Car Run will set off from Hyde Park Corner between 7 and 8.30am, spectators can line the 64-mile route all the way from the capital to Brighton to watch 500 classic cars show off their prowess and vintage style. Entrance rules stipulate cars must be built before 1905 and will be either of the three or four-wheel variety. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Free to spectate or visit the motorshow. Visit the Veteran Car Run website or Regent Street Motorshow website for more information.
- Now until 2 November : Day Of The Dead Festival
Embassy of Mexico has teamed up with tequila brand Jose Cuervo and Arte Mexico to bring the 3000 year old Mexican celebration, Dia de los Muertos to London’s Southbank. Featuring Day Of The Dead art displays, Jose Cuervo masterclasses, children’s art and crafts workshops, and a screening of Under the Volcano. Free, but workshops require registering in advance.11am-6pm. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest tube/train: Waterloo or Blackfriars. For more information and registration, visit the Oxo Tower website.
- 1 – 15 November : Crystal Palace International Film Festival
Screenings, premieres and Q&As during this two week long festival in South East London at various venues including Stanley Halls, St John’s Church and the Sparrowhawk. Nearest rail/overground: Crystal Palace. Check the CPIFF website for full listings and tickets.
- Now until 2 November : London International Animation Festival
Showcase of animation from around the world featuring gala premieres, retrospectives, filmmakers Q&As, workshops, audience voting and screenings. Tickets start from £10.50 (Barbican session tickets) to £95 for full pass. Venues include the Barbican, Rio Cinema (Dalston) and Horse Hospital (Bloomsbury). For more information and tickets, visit the LIAF website.
- 2 – 29 November : Richmond Literature Festival
A festivals of books and words at various locations across the borough, including Marble Hill House and Strawberry Hill House. Featuring talks and Q&As from authors, including Paddy Ashdown, Emma Bridgewater, Irving Finkel, Peter Snow, Sheila Hancock, Liam Fox, Jacqueline Wilson and Simon Barnes. For more information, visit the Richmond Literature Festival website.
- 4 – 9 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair
For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets: £18.50 (in advance) £21 on the door. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest tube/Overground: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.
- 4 November - 30 December : The Paddington Trail
Fifty Paddington statues hidden around London to mark the release of the film adaptation. Each statue has been customised by a different celebrity. Free. For more information and trails, check out the Visit London site.
- 7 – 26 November : World Press Photo Exhibition
The shortlisted entries for the annual World Press Photo completion go on display on Level 2 of the Royal Festival Hall. Free. Open 10am-11pm. Royal Festival Hall, Upper Ground, Southbank, SE1 9PX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the World Press Photo website.
- 8 November : Lord Mayor’s Show
The spectacle is known as the oldest and largest civic procession in the world. The three-mile procession includes floats, music and animals and a fly-past and normally starts at Mansion House at 11am with spectators free to line the route. In the evening, a spectacular fireworks show takes place between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges. Visit the Lord Mayor’s Show website for more information.
- 8 – 16 November : Modern Panic V
Modern Panic returns to London to showcase a collection of 40 surreal, controversial and unique artists and live art practitioners, exploring the depths of the psyche and human archetypes. Works from artists including HR Giger, Iain MacArthur, Lucy Sparrow and Sequin Kay. Admission: £3. Open 11am-7pm daily. Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, Hackney, E2 9EG. Nearest station: Cambridge Heath. For more information, visit the Guerrilla Zoo website.
- Now until 11 November : Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Check out Paul Cummins’ art installation featuring 888,246 ceramic poppies in the moat surrounding the Tower Of London. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during WWI. Tower of London moat, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB. Nearest tube: Tower Hill. To find out how to buy a poppy, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website. For Metro Girl’s photos of her visit to the installation, click here.
- 13 November : Carnaby Shopping Party
Special shopping event on Carnaby Street in Soho with over 100 stores, restaurants, bars and cafes giving ticketholders 20% off. There will also be exclusive trend talks, live music, complimentary food and drink, in store parties and money can’t buy experiences. 5-9pm. Shoppers can register online for a free ticket now. Carnaby Street, Soho, W1. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby Street website.
- 13 – 15 November : Greenwich International Early Music Festival
The world’s largest early music festival, jointly promoted by The Early Music Shop, the Greenwich Foundation and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Concerts include I Fagiolini directed by Robert Hollingworth, Brecon Baroque directed by Rachel Podger Fretwork, Emma Murphy with Ibi Aziz, Philomel, Anne-Suse Enßle (Moeck/SRP Solo Recorder Competition Winners Recital), Trinity Laban Soloists and Baroque Orchestra. At various locations around Greenwich. For more information and tickets, visit the Early Shop website.
- 14 – 16 November : BBC Good Food Show
The travelling foodies fest comes to London’s Olympia for three days. Featuring appearances from Jamie Oliver, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, James Martin, John Torode, Theo Randall and Michel Roux Jnr. Tickets start from £26.50, cheaper in advance than on the door. Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Nearest tube: Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the BBC Good Food Show website.
- 14 – 23 November : London Jazz Festival
This 10 day festival sees international jazz stars coming together at venues all over the capital, including Southbank Centre, Barbican, Jazz Cafe, Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express Jazz Club and many others. Gigs range from free to ticketed. For more information, visit the London Jazz Festival website.
- 14 November – 1 February 2015 : Hogwarts at Christmas
A must for all Harry Potter fans. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has been given a festive makeover with props and decorations from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Featuring Christmas-themed gifts and costumes from the film franchise. Tickets: Adults £31.00, Children £23.50. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.
- 20 – 23 November : Taste Of London Winter
Sister event to the hugely popular Taste Of London event which celebrates food. Four day festival at Tobacco Dock in Wapping offers tastings, demonstrations, masterclasses and food theatre with Michel Roux Jnr, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Daniel Doherty, Raymond Blanc and Theo Randall among those giving their tips. Prices start from £19. Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest tube: Wapping (Overground). For more information, visit the Taste of London Winter website.
- 21 November : Late London – Sherlock’s City
After hours entry to see the Sherlock Holmes exhibition including a Memory Maze installation, Bartitsu self-defence demos, Sherlock improve, life drawing and performances. 7-10pm. Tickets £12. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest tube: Barbican or St Paul’s. For more information and tickets visit the Museum Of London website.
- 21 November – 7 December : Enchanted Woodland
Syon Park in South West London is open after hours, with an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum. Exciting lighting effects will transform the trees, plants and lake into a magical place. Hot food and drinks also available. Open 5-9pm Friday to Sunday only, last entry 8pm. Tickets: Adults £7, Children £3. Syon Park, London Rd, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest train station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website.
- 21 November – 4 January 2015 : Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland does exactly what is say on the tin – the south east corner of the park is transformed into a Christmas fair with rides, food and lots of mulled wine, as well as Christmas gifts. It’s free to enter, but of course the aforementioned will cost. There is also an open air ice rink for those who fancy a twirl and Zippos Cirque Berserk – an alternative circus show. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read about Metro Girl’s previous visit to Winter Wonderland.
- 22 – 23 November : Tequila Fest
A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Tickets: £15. Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, 45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.
- 23 November : Hampstead Christmas Festival
As well as stalls serving gifts, food and drink, there will also be a fairground, Santa’s Grotto, reindeer, face-painting, circus acts and performances from Babs Savage, Charlie Manning, Mad Dog Bites, The Runner Brothers and Rock Choir. A mystery celebrity will be turning on the Christmas lights. Free. 12-5pm. High Street, Hampstead, NW3. Nearest tube: Hampstead. For more information, visit the Hampstead Christmas Festival’s website.
- 26 November – 7 December : Nordic Film Festival
A celebration of the best films to come out of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at various locations across London, including Arthouse Crouch End, Hackney Picturehouse, Institute of Contemporary Arts and The Proud Archivist. For more information, visit the Nordic Film Festival website.
- 26 November – 3 January 2015 : Christmas At Kew
A new evening experience for 2014, featuring a one mile glittering trail which weaves its way through Kew Gardens with stunning sights lit up upon the way. There will also be vintage rides, festive food and Santa’s Snowflake Grotto. 5-10pm. Tickets – Adults: £15 in advance £17 on the day, Children: £10 in advance, £12 on the day. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 27 November : Churchill’s Birthday – Lates at Churchill War Rooms
An after-hours opening of the Churchill War Rooms featuring music, dancing and more. 7-10pm. Tickets: £17.50 (£14 concessions). Churchill War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, Whitehall, SW1A 2AQ. Nearest tube: Westminster. For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum website.
- 27 – 30 November : Brick 2014
A festival of Lego, featuring games, construction zones and displays. Featuring models and a huge store selling Lego. Tickets: £15 (in advance), £30 (on the door). ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest tube: Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the Brick website.
- 28 – 30 November : Foodies Festival Christmas
The popular food festival returns to London. Featuring food stalls, chefs theatre, whisky arena, ski bar, drinks theatre, Christmas feasting table, children’s cooking school, ceilidh dancing and live music and more. Tickets £18-£20. Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Foodies Festival website.
- 28 – 30 November : Heathrow Beer Festival
Run with support of the West Middlesex CAMRA, the festival will feature over 35 seasonal Real Ales and Ciders. Admission: £3 for BA Clubs / CAMRA / NUS, £4 for Public Entry. Concorde Club, Crane Lodge Road, Cranford, Heathrow, Middlesex, TW5 9PQ. Free bus shuttle from Hatton Cross tube. For more information, visit the BA Clubs website.
- Now until December : Bond In Motion
An exhibition of over 50 James Bond vehicles, including the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and Aston Martin DB5 from Goldeneye. Tickets – Adults: £14.50, Children: £9.50. Booking in advance highly recommended. London Film Museum, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the London Film Museum website.
- Now until 4 January 2015 : The Art Of The Brick
Nathan Sawaya’s Art Of The Brick exhibition features a range of sculptures made from millions of Lego building blocks, from recreations of iconic artwork to new contemporary pieces. Tickets – Adults: £14.50-£16.50, Children under 12: £8-£9.50. Open daily, hours vary. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit The Art Of The Brick website. For Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition, click here.
- Now until April 2015 : Sherlock Holmes exhibition @ Museum Of London
An exhibition of the world’s favourite fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, featuring historic artefacts from Victorian London and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Tickets: £12 adults, £10 concession. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest tube: Barbican or St Paul’s. For more information and tickets, visit Museum Of London website.
- Now until 30 August 2015 : Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2014 @ Natural History Museum
An exhibition of the annual Wildlife Photographer Of The Year – the 50th year of the competition. Although entrance to the museum is free, this exhibition is ticketed. Adults: £12.60, Children & Concessions: £6.30. Open 10am-5.50pm daily. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest tube: South Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the NHM website.
Once a mainstay of Victorian streets, gas lamps have gradually been replaced by electric lighting and are a very rare occurrence today. However down one quiet London street, there is what is believed to be the capital’s only remaining sewer gas lamp.
Halfway down Carting Lane at the back of The Savoy hotel, is an example of a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp. The design was patented by Joseph Edmund Webb of Birmingham in the late 19th century in a bid to safely remove sewer gases from the sewers below. These gases, when built up, were hazardous and smelt dreadful. These lamps were mainly placed on slopes and hills – where sewer gases were more likely to collect. Carting Lane is a slope leading down towards the Thames from The Strand, with the sewers taking waste from The Savoy. With this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear the road has been nicknamed ‘Farting Lane’. However, while the lamps removed sewer gases, they weren’t actually powered by them. The flame is lit by traditional town gas, while drawing up sewer gases from below and burning off any impurities along with the mains gas.
Unfortunately the lamp was damaged by a lorry in more recent years, but has been fully restored by British Gas engineers and can now be seen running 24 hours a day.
- The old lamppost can be found on Carting Lane (leading from The Strand to Savoy Place), Westminster, WC2R. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple.
For the history of the ‘Dolphin’ street lamps by the Thames, click here.
To find out about the monument to composer Arthur Sullivan in Embankment Gardens behind the hotel and his ties to The Savoy, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s posts on London history, click here.
The popularity of pop-ups is fortunately continuing, but how many of these hot new venues make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? This is where The Little Yellow Door comes in. A new pop-up in Notting Hill Gate, this new nightspot feels like a mate’s home you’ve just swung by for a few drinks or a laidback meal.
This new pop-up is based on a fictional flatshare where five mismatched flatmates come together and throw parties every week. Open Thursdays to Saturdays, the venue will host dinner and drinks parties and will be the first hospitality venue to take bookings by WhatsApp. The menus will be handwritten on magazines lying around the flat, while drinks will be served in jars, teapots, blenders or even eggcups – whatever the flatmates can get their hands on. The cocktails are influenced by the flatmates’ favourite TV shows, such as My Name Is Earl, an Earl Grey infused gin, citrus, egg white and sugar short drink served in a tea cup and saucer with biscuits on the side, and sprinkled with earl grey leaves, or Suits, a Manhattan on ice with a dash of absinthe.
On Fridays, The Wandering Chef will be stopping by to create culinary delights for the flatmates’ visitors and will be influenced by the nationality of the latest flatmate to move in. On Thursdays and Saturdays, it will be more of a party focus with bar snacks available to accompany your drinks.
Regulars will receive a key to the ‘flat’ so they can come and go whenever they fancy and if they BYOB, they’ll be rewarded with a personalised mug which will be filled up with free punch every time they visit. TLYD is from the same team behind ROXX, Press Play and The Wandering Chef so you can expect a good time.
- The Little Yellow Door will be open Thursdays 5-11pm, Fridays 6pm-1am and Saturdays 7pm-1am. The Little Yellow Door is located at 68 Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill, W11 3HT. Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate. For more information, visit the Little Yellow Door website.
For another pop-up bar in London, Piste @ Archer Street, click here.
For Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels, synonymous with luxury and style. Having previously visiting the stunning Beaufort Bar in the hotel, I have long been eager to sample some food in one of the restaurants. Fortunately, for my recent birthday, my sister booked a table at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill in the hotel as a surprise.
The name of the restaurant stems back to the hotel’s iconic cat Kaspar. The cat’s origins started during a fateful meal back in 1898, when South African diamond magnate Woolf Joel hosted a meal for 14 people at The Savoy. After one guest dropped out at the last minute, another diner declared it was unlucky to eat at a table for 13 and death would fall upon the first person to leave. Joel wasn’t superstitious and dismissed the notion and was the first to leave, only to be shot dead weeks later in Johannesburg. In the following years, any time there was a table of 13 at The Savoy, an extra guest was arranged by management to make up the numbers to 14. With members of staff often joining diners at the table, this often proved unpopular so in 1926, architect Basil Ionides created an art deco sculpture of a cat named Kaspar. Since then, Kaspar has joined many a group of 13 diners at The Savoy, wearing a napkin around his neck. In 2013, The Savoy’s River Room restaurant was re-imagined as Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill.
My party of four dined at Kaspar’s on a Saturday evening in August. Unfortunately we were far from the river view, but had a nice table and booth situated in the north west corner so had an expansive view across the restaurant. Kaspar’s was decked out in stunning Art Deco interiors, with icicle-style sculptures surrounding the ornate bar, which has high stools should you prefer some informal dining. However, we were definitely being formal on this occasion.
One thing on the wine list which thrilled me was to see they had half-bottles and carafes alongside the typical glasses or bottles. I order carafes all the time when I go abroad, but I think London restaurants seriously need to step up and offer more carafes on their menus. We were a party of four, but we were split into two camps when it came to what wine we preferred. I wasn’t in the mood for drinking much so my sister and I shared a carafe of Anjou Rosé, Domaine des Cedres for £16.00, which was light and fruity and just what we needed.
The food menu was pretty extensive and our patient waiter did have to return a few times as we took so long to decide. Eventually I plumped for the Green Pea Soup with Seafood Dumpling (£9) which was a lovely consistency. The dumpling was an unusual flavour combination with the soup, which worked well. My mother, rather controversially, opted for the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait served with Grilled Sourdough Bread and Cumberland sauce (£15), but said she loved it.
For my main, I was pretty torn for choice but finally settled on the Isle Of Sky Lobster, with the option to buy half or whole. I went for the former (£22), which was served with garlic butter and lemon so you will need to order sides, such as Buttered Spinach or Cornish New Potatoes. The lobster was soft and easy to get into and tasted gorgeous with lashings of melted butter on. I also tried my sister’s Seafood Linguine, a simple, but tasty dish which is apparently quite popular for Kaspar’s diners.
Tragically, we were all pretty full and didn’t have room for dessert but had a little sugar fix with complimentary raspberry and dark chocolate lollipops. Overall, the food and drink were brilliant – there was a wide range of dishes to appease all taste. The venue was sophisticated and the service was incredibly friendly and attentive. Can recommend as a nice venue to treat yourself, or perhaps a pre-theatre meal as its located right next to The Savoy Theatre.
- Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill is located in The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EU. Nearest tube: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. For more information, visit the Kaspar’s website.
For Metro Girl’s review of the Beaufort Bar in The Savoy, click here.
To find out about the monument to composer Arthur Sullivan in Embankment Gardens behind the hotel and his ties to The Savoy, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.