Baileys Feaster Egg Hunt: Time for adults to have some Easter fun!

© Hello Unity

Experience the elegance of the Rococo movement and the meaning of true chocolate indulgence at the Baileys Feaster Egg Hunt
© Hello Unity

Since we’ve already said goodbye to our teen years and become hard-working adults, it often feels like the Easter Holidays are only for kids now. Like most people my age, the amount of chocolate eggs I receive has heavily dwindled since I reached legal drinking age. However, I’m sure most would agree – women especially – we love chocolate just as much as we ever did so why are the children getting all the cocoa-natured fun?

Well, Irish cream liqueur giants Baileys have decided it was high time that adults got to have some of the sweet treat action at Easter. The company have teamed up with the Chiappa Sisters and Harvey Nichols to create a special one-off adults-only Easter Egg hunt in the Knightsbridge store.

On Saturday 19 April, chocolate-loving foodies will have the chance to experience an immersive theatrical adventure and take part in an Easter egg hunt. The audience will be transported back to the 18th century Rococo movement, where they will get to interact with royalty, subjects and courtiers as they hunt for a Baileys Chocolat Luxe Easter Egg. Once the egg is found, there will be a bespoke six-course Easter feast created by the Chiappa Sisters served on the Fifth Floor Terrace.

Tickets are priced £25 and included the theatre experience, six-course feast and Baileys Easter Egg. Tickets must be booked in advance for one of the nine slots between midday and 9pm on Saturday 19 April 2014. Over 18s only.


To find out what else is on in London in April 2014, click here.

Or for a special guide to Easter actitvities in London, click here.

Egg-cellent guide to what’s on in London over the Easter holidays

© Sister72 on Flickr

© Sister72 on Flickr

Easter Holidays means many different things to people - chocolate, bunnies, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and two bank holidays. However, to many parents and guardians it also means – eek, how do we keep the children entertained for two weeks?

My monthly ‘what’s on guides’ include many activities on in London during April, however for those looking for more family and Easter-centric ideas of what’s on during the holidays, I’ve put together listings of things to keep you occupied.

For an adults-only Easter activity, read Baileys Feaster Egg Hunt: Time for adults to have some Easter fun!

  • 5 – 21 April : Charlie’s Chocolate Adventure @ Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is hosting Charlie And The Chocolate Factory-inspired events for their Easter Festival, including create your own chocolate bar, sing along in the inventing room, go nuts in the nut room and not forgetting the Easter egg hunt on 20 April. Must buy general entrance tickets: Adults £14.50, Children 16 and under (accompanied by an adult) Free. Activities vary in cost from free to £5. Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest tube: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 5 – 21 April : Bunnies On The Run @ London Eye

Help Edwin find his missing bunnies and receive a chocolate reward. The experience includes an activity pack, a guided host to assist the mission and a 30 minute ride on the London Eye. Tickets: £24.21pp. Every Saturday and Sunday on the dates mentioned above, Good Friday and Easter Monday. Highly recommended that tickets are bought in advance. Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest tube: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Eye website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Eye, click here.

  • 5 – 21 April : Easter @ WWT London Wetland Centre

The London Wetland Centre are hosting several activities over Easter including a self-guided spring trail, paint your own egg, pond dipping and see the ducklings. Some activities include a £1 donation. General admission tickets: Adult £12.35, 4-16 years £6.90, family tickets £34.50 for 2 adults, 2 children. Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest train station: Barnes or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the London Wetland Centre website.

  • 7 – 19 April : Easter Adventures @ Kenwood House

The historic Kenwood House is hosting several events for families over the holidays including the chance for a stately portrait and meet Lord Iveagh. Free admission. Opening times: Noon-4pm. Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR. Nearest tube: Archway or Hampstead Heath (overground). For more information, visit the English Heritage website.

  • 17 – 20 April : Disney On Ice

Your favourite Disney characters take to the ice for the Worlds Of Fantasy show. Tickets: £24.25-£47.30 per person. Wembley Arena, Engineers Way, HA9 0AA. Nearest tube: Wembley Park. For more information and tickets, visit the Disney On Ice website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Search for the bunnies on the London Eye

  • 18 – 19 April : Family Weekend @ Sadler’s Wells

Two day festival featuring family activities before and after performances of Rapunzel or Deep In The Woods. Tickets must be booked in advance. Tickets £12-£15. Takes place at the Lilian Bayllis studio or main Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R. Nearest tube; Angel. For more information and booking, visit the Sadler’s Wells website.

  • 18 – 21 April : Alternative Easter Egg Hunt @ Design Museum

The Design Museum have teamed up with Rococo chocolates to create a hunt, with riddles and clues throughout the building The trail will take visitors through the Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith exhibition. At the end, participants will be rewarded with Rococo chocolates. Highly recommended to book tickets in advance. Tickets: Adults £13.88, Under 16s: £7.15, Under 6s: Free. Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, SE1 2YD. Nearest tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For tickets, visit the Design Museum website.

  • 18 – 21 April : Easter Egg Hunt @ Cutty Sark

The historic tea clipper Cutty Sark will host Easter egg hunts over the long weekend. Activities are free with general entrance tickets. Adults £13.50, Children 15 and under: £7, Under 5s: Free. 10am-5pm. King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9HT. Nearest rail/DLR: Cutty Sark or Greenwich. For more information, visit the Cutty Sark website.

  • 19 – 21 April : Easter @ V&A Museum Of Childhood

Lots of Easter themed activities at the Museum of Childhood, including an Easter trail, Easter games, storytelling, and arts and crafts session. All activities and admission are free. Open 1oam-5.45pm daily. Museum Of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green. For more information, visit the Museum Of Childhood website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Hunt for Easter Eggs on the Cutty Sark

  • 19 April : Berwick Street Record Store Day

A free mini music festival on Berwick Street in the heart of Soho, featuring 7 artists performing on stage and various retailers hosting in-store activities, including sales of limited edition records. Free. Shops open from 8am, performances on main stage from 12-7pm. Berwick Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Berwick Street website.

  • 19 April : View Tube Easter Parade

Celebrate Easter with costumes, hats, music and songs. 11am-3pm. Free to all ages. Sparked Fun Palace exhibition at View Tube, The Greenway, Marshgate Lane, Stratford, E15 2PJ. Nearest tube: Stratford. For more information, visit the View Tube website.

  • 19 – 20 April : Yard Life Festival

Music festival to raise money and awareness for MS research, featuring new musicians and DJs, including Bambi, Daniel Glover, John Hill, Katie Coleman, Courtly Love, Electric Child House and much more. Tickets: £20 Saturday, £25 Sunday or £35 for the whole weekend. Islington Metal Works, 7 Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the Yard Life Festival.

  • 21 April : Feast Of St George

Celebrate the patron saint of England’s feast day with a day of fun and fare in Trafalgar Square. Includes free tastings, food, banqueting area, like cookery demonstrations, food workshops and live music and dance. 12-6pm. Free. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Greater London Authority website.

Also remember the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, V&A Museum, Science Museum, and Natural History Museum are all free at any time.


For a guide to what else is on in London in April, click here.

photo credit: Sister72 via photopin cc

W Rock Tea at W Hotel: Take a magical mystery (taste) tour with the coolest afternoon tea in town

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Three tiers of deliciousness washed down with a pot of Rosy Lee: W Rock Tea at the W Hotel

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Contemporary setting

When it comes to Afternoon Tea in London, there is a huge choice of venues and budgets to suit everyone. However, as much as I love Afternoon Tea, there are many that just blend into each other. While I do adore treating myself to high tea, I do tend to save it for special occasions, such as birthdays. So when organising a Mother’s Day treat this year, my sister and I hunted around for an ‘alternative’ tea and it didn’t take long before the W Rock Tea at the W Hotel came up.

The W Hotel London is a recent-ish addition to the popular, upmarket hotels in the capital. The London branch opened in 2011 and quickly became a destination for visitors to the capital who want to be in the centre of the action and to party. Situated on the site of the former Swiss Centre, the W stands on the Chinatown end of Wardour Street, where Leicester Square links to Piccadilly Circus. Outside the hotel it is pretty chaotic, a mix of tourists and Londoners battling to get to their destination. However, once you step inside the W and take a lift up to the reception, it is calm and relaxed.

Upon arrival, we were shown to our table in the W Lounge – comfortable sofas with low tables and windows overlooking bustling Wardour Street and the stunning rooftop architecture of Georgian buildings across the road. The Lounge is set back from the busier bar area and gangway between the lifts and the former by a row of shelves featuring contemporary, ornamental plates, which provided an eye-catching backdrop. With so much light and modern fixtures, the W Lounge really sets itself apart from other Afternoon Tea venues, which would usually be more traditional in nature.

As the W is a rock ‘n’ roll venue (it often plays hosts to after-parties during premieres, fashion week, etc) at its Wyld Bar, and is on the doorstep of Soho, the hotel’s afternoon tea has been strongly influenced by its setting. With music a big part of Soho’s history, the tea has been named the W Rock Tea, with the various bites named after legendary rock classics. After ordering our choice of tea, our individual pots soon arrived along with the three-tiered stand made of vinyl records – no chintz or granny’s china here! Despite the urge to immediately sample the sweets, we started with the savoury sandwiches – aka ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (Pink Floyd) – which consisted of smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill; cucumber and Greek yoghurt, egg mayonnaise and watercress; and roast chicken and lemon butter. The bread was a mix of brown and white so something to please everyone and no crusts (this made my inner child very happy!). The sandwiches were tasty, but light – meaning there was plenty of room for the sugar-filled delights which were coming next.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Rock ‘n’ roll: London’s Burning chocolate pudding (left) and Sticky Fingers meringue

The one staple of all good afternoon teas is, of course, the scones – aka ‘Rule Britannia’. They were fresh and a substantial size, tasting divine with clotted cream and jam. With the traditional parts of the tea finished, we then started on the top two tiers of the stand. Accompanying the tea and stand were the shot glasses of ‘London’s Burning’ (The Clash) – a light and fluffy chocolate pudding with hazelnut crunch, which was definitely one of my favourite features of the Rock Tea. Other highlights included ‘Sticky Fingers’ (Rolling Stones) – vanilla meringue ‘with attitude’, which had carefully been created in the shape of the Stones’ iconic mouth and tongue. My Mum is a huge Stones fan so she was particularly chuffed with that. I also loved the ‘Cherry Bomb’ (The Runaways) – chocolate, mascarpone and cherry which was delicious and creamy. Other items on the tier included ‘Sweet Emotion’ chocolate and passion fruit, ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ rose financier and rose petal jam; and ‘Purple Haze’ Victoria Sponge and psychedelic marzipan, all different flavours in perfect sizes so you could sample each one.

Overall, the Rock Tea rocked! The service was friendly and attentive and all the food was delicious. The setting was comfortable and fun. I was definitely feeling pretty full afterwards so a walk through Soho was a good post-pig out remedy! For those looking for an afternoon tea with something a bit different, I would highly recommend the W Rock Tea.

  • W Rock Tea is available in the W Lounge between 1pm and 4.45pm daily and costs £25 per person. W Hotel, 10 Wardour Street, W1D 6QF. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For booking, tel: 0207 758 1060 or email afternoon.tea@whotels.com or visit the website. For more information, visit the W Hotel London website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The big W: The W Hotel stands on Wardour Street


For the history of what stood on the site of the W Hotel before it was built, read Swiss glockenspiel in Leicester Square: The last survivor of the Swiss Centre.

To check out Metro Girl’s other bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Great Scotland Yard history: From a London base for Scottish kings to the Met Police’s HQ

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Great Scotland Yard is off Whitehall in the City of Westminster

The name Scotland Yard is synonymous with London’s Metropolitan Police. However, how did the name of a yard end up following the Met around Westminster as they moved headquarters over the decades?

As I write, the Metropolitan police are preparing to move their headquarters again from the current site of New Scotland Yard on Broadway in Victoria to the Curtis Green Building on Victoria Embankment in 2015. While the name New Scotland Yard will follow wherever the Met goes, the name originates on a short road in Westminster, which still exists to this day.

Great Scotland Yard is a short road spanning between Whitehall and Northumberland Avenue, taking just three minutes to walk from one end to the other. While today, the road is relatively quiet from pedestrian and vehicle traffic, in the 19th century it would have been a hub of activity with police officers, victims and criminals passing through it.

The name of the road is said to stem back to a medieval palace which was used as a base for Scottish kings and diplomatic representatives visiting London. By the 17th century, the road was home to various government buildings and residences for civil servants. Two notable residents include the architects Sir Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones and the poet John Milton.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Grade II-listed Edwardian building on the site of the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in Great Scotland Yard is being converted into a luxury hotel

The name Scotland Yard was first linked to police when the original Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s office at 4 Whitehall Place, had a rear entrance on Great Scotland Yard. By the early 20th century, the force had outgrown the Great Scotland Yard site and moved to the nearby Norman Shaw Buildings on Victoria Embankment – located next door to where Portcullis House stands today – which were built between 1887-1906. New Scotland Yard remained at the site until 1967 when it moved to the current site in Victoria. The move in 2015 brings New Scotland Yard full circle as it returns to the Embankment – next door to the Norman Shaw Buildings.

While the Met has moved on from Great Scotland Yard, the association will be enshrined forever thanks to the road name. At time of writing, the Edwardian, Grade II-listed building on the site of the old Metropolitan Police headquarters at No.3-5 Great Scotland Yard is being converted into a five-star hotel, due for opening in 2016. On the corner of Whitehall and Great Scotland Yard, stands The Clarence pub, which dates from 1896.

  • Great Scotland Yard, off Whitehall, SW1. Nearest tube: Westminster, Embankment or Charing Cross.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Quiet: The road is relatively calm to what it would have been in the 19th century as a hub of police activity


For Metro Girl’s blog post on nearby Banqueting House, read Neo-classicism, masques and an execution site: The history and beauty of Banqueting House or for the history of nearby Charing Cross, read Civil war, centre of London and a memorial to a queen: The story behind Charing Cross.

To watch rare video footage of Whitehall taken in 1927, read Rare colour film of bustling London town in 1927

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Dating prospects looking ruff? Try Bark In The Park

© Match.com

Walk your dog and potentially find love at the same time
© Match.com

Any dog-owning singleton knows how important it is that your future soulmate is also a dog lover. Imagine the horror if George Clooney or Harry Styles (whoever floats your boat… I don’t judge!) declared their undying love for you… but was also highly allergic to your four-legged friend!

This is where professional cupids Match.com come in. The online dating agency are hosting a special one-off dating event for dog-owners on Saturday 5 April 2014 in Battersea Park. As well giving singletons the chance to meet other dog lovers, the setting is a lot more relaxed than other dating events, making it easier to strike up a conversation. There will be complimentary refreshments for the humans and activity sessions and a play area for the dogs. Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson and her beloved dog Digby – who are frequent visitors to Battersea Park in the E4 show – will also be in attendance.

  • Bark In The Park takes place on Saturday 5 April from 1-3pm at the Battersea Park Bandstand in Battersea Park, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest train station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road. To take part, either register at www.match.com/events or email BITP@eu.match.com. Tickets are £5 with proceeds going to the Dogs’ Trust.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in April 2014

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Caffeine fans will enjoy the London Coffee Festival

Spring is in full swing and festival season is really kicking off. As the sun returns to our skies, the parks and open spaces of London are hosting open-air festivals, fairs and performances. With Easter falling in April this year, there is a host of activities to keep families entertained during the holidays. (N.B. Please check back as I will update this post throughout the month with new events).

For a special Easter guide for family activities over the school holidays, click here. Or for an adults-only Easter Egg hunt, read Baileys Feaster Egg Hunt: Time for adults to have some Easter fun!

  • 3 – 6 April : London Coffee Festival

A celebration of coffee for the capital’s caffeine lovers at the Old Truman Brewery, featuring food, music and – of course – coffee. Visitors will even have the chance to make perfect coffee at home from some top baristas. The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street (overland) or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the London Coffee Festival website.

  • 5 April : World Pillow Fight Day

Celebrate World Pillow Fight Day by taking a (soft!) pillow you don’t mind being destroyed to Trafalgar Square. From 3pm until 5pm and free. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information and the rules, visit World Pillow Fight Day website.

  • 5 April onwards : ArcelorMittal Orbit re-opens

The Orbit structure in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park re-opens to the public permanently. Visitors will be able to access two viewing platforms at the top of the Orbit, giving 360 degree views of the Park and London. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog on the Orbit.

  • 5 – 21 April : Charlie’s Chocolate Adventure @ Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is hosting Charlie And The Chocolate Factory-inspired events for their Easter Festival, including create your own chocolate bar, sing along in the inventing room, go nuts in the nut room and not forgetting the Easter egg hunt on 20 April. Must buy general entrance tickets: Adults £14.50, Children 16 and under (accompanied by an adult) Free. Activities vary in cost from free to £5. Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest tube: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 6 April : Oxbridge Boat Race

This year it’s the 159th boat race between the Cambridge and Oxford University crews. Thousands will line the banks between Putney Bridge and Mortlake to watch the action. Starts at 5.55pm. Free. Nearest tube/rail stations: Putney Bridge, Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, East Putney, Barnes Bridge or Chiswick. For more information, visit the Boat Race website.

  • Now until 6 April : Sensing Spaces : Architecture Re-Imagined

Exhibition at the Royal Academy featuring creations from architects across the world imploring you to gain a new perspective on architecture. Tickets: £14-£15.50. Opening times: Saturday-Thursday 10am-6pm, Fridays 10am-10pm. Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park. For more information, visit the Royal Academy website.

  • Now until 6 April : Chorus Festival

Festival celebrating singing as a group, featuring concerts, warm-ups and workshops. Tickets range from free to £15. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 7 April – 14 June : Both Sides Now @ National Theatre

Photographic exhibition of 1960s singer-songwriters living in Laurel Canyon and the new wave bands in downtown 1970s New York. Entrance: Free. Open Monday – Saturday 9.30am-11pm, Sundays 12-6pm. Lyttelton Exhibition Space, National Theatre, Upper Ground, Southbank, SE1 9PX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the National Theatre website.

  • 8 – 10 April : Let’s All Be Free Film Festival

A festival of films from around the world demonstrating what it’s like to be really free. Screenings include Mamis, Good Wife and Not Anymore. Brixton Ritzy, Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, SW2 1JG. Nearest tube: Brixton. For more information, visit the LABFFF website.

  • 9 April – 17 August : The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The Udderbelly cow returns to the Southbank

Exhibition of work by the acclaimed designer, including his iconic conical brasserie worn by Madonna, costumes for Kylie Minogue’s tour and from Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. Tickets: £14.50, highly recommended to book in advance. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.

  • 10 – 13 April : The New Chelsea Art Fair

This year’s fair is having a relaunch with visitors having the chance to buy art starting from £500 upwards. Free entry if you sign up via the website in advance, or £6 on the door. Takes place at Chelsea Town Hall, Kings Road, SW3 5EE. Nearest tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Chelsea Art Fair website.

  • 10 April – 13 July : Udderbelly Festival

Udderbelly returns to the Southbank for a sixth year, featuring three months of comedy, circus, cabaret and family shows at affordable prices in an inflatable upside down cow venue. Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Udderbelly website.

  • 13 April : Virgin London Marathon

Cheer on an estimated 36,00 runners raising money for charity in the world’s biggest marathon. The 26 mile marathon starts in Greenwich/Blackheath and ends in The Mall. Free for spectators. For more information and spectator maps, visit the Virgin London Marathon website. For Metro Girl’s blog on last year’s Marathon, click here.

  • 17 – 20 April : London International Ska Festival

Four day festival of ska music featuring Ken Boothe, Rico Rodriguez, BB Seaton, Owen Gray, Buster Shuffle and The Splitters, among others, at venues across the capital. For more information and tickets, visit the London International Ska Festival website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Supporter the runners at the London Marathon

  • Now until 18 April : London Handel Festival

Six weeks of concerts, talks and walks in venues, including Frederick Handel’s own parish church in Mayfair. Includes performances by tenor Rupert Charlesworth and harpsichordist Laurence Cummings at the Foundling Museum. St George’s Church, St George Street, Hanover Square, W1S 1FX. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the London Handel Festival website.

  • 19 April : Berwick Street Record Store Day

A free mini music festival on Berwick Street in the heart of Soho, featuring 7 artists performing on stage and various retailers hosting in-store activities, including sales of limited edition records. Free. Shops open from 8am, performances on main stage from 12-7pm. Berwick Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Berwick Street website.

  • 19 – 20 April : Yard Life Festival

Music festival to raise money and awareness for MS research, featuring new musicians and DJs, including Bambi, Daniel Glover, John Hill, Katie Coleman, Courtly Love, Electric Child House and much more. Tickets: £20 Saturday, £25 Sunday or £35 for the whole weekend. Islington Metal Works, 7 Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the Yard Life Festival.

  • 21 April : Feast Of St George

Celebrate the patron saint of England’s feast day with a day of fun and fare in Trafalgar Square. Includes free tastings, food, banqueting area, like cookery demonstrations, food workshops and live music and dance. 12-6pm. Free. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Greater London Authority website.

  • 24 April – 5 May : Pick Me Up

Graphic arts festival at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries, showcasing and selling original graphic art, design and illustration. Daily 10am-6pm, late nights on Thursdays until 10pm. Tickets: £8, concessions £6. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple. For more information, visit the Pick Me Up website.

  • 24 April – 5 May :  Sci-Fi-London Film Festival

Independent film festival showcasing the latest sci-fi films. BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Sci-Fi London website.

  • 25 – 27 April : Sundance London Festival

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    Sundance London returns to the O2

The Sundance Film Festival comes to London to showcase the best of American independent movies. O2 Arena, North Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest tube: North Greenwich. For more information and tickets, visit the Sundance London website.

  • 25 April – 4 May : New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival

A film festival run and staffed by volunteers offering free screenings in venues around New Cross and Deptford. Classics will be screened alongside independent films by new and local talent. For more information, visit the Free Film Festival website.

  • Now until 27 April : The Sunflowers

Two of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings have been reunited – shown together for the first time in 65 years. The masterpieces will be displayed side-by-side so visitors can compare and contrast. Free, but expect to queue at busy times. Room 45, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the National Gallery website.

  • Now until 1 June : Bailey’s Stardust @ National Portrait Gallery

Exhibition of 250 portraits by the acclaimed photographer Sir David Bailey of celebrities, politicians, designers, artists and people he has encountered on his travels. Tickets: £14.50 adults, £12 concessions. Advanced booking is highly recommended. National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE. Nearest tube: Leicester Square or Charing Cross. For more information and booking, visit the NPG website.

  • Now until 1 June : United Visual Artists: Momentum

New art installation coming to The Curve at the Barbican. Unique Visual Artists have created ‘a carefully choreographed sequence of light, sound and movement, which responds to the unique space of the Curve’, featuring 12 pendulums which activate light and sound. Free admission. Be prepared for possible queues at peak times. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.

  • Now until December : Bond In Motion

An exhibition of James Bond vehicles. Tickets – Adults: £14.50, Children: £9.50. Booking in advance highly recommend. London Film Museum, 45 Wellington St, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the London Film Museum website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Art installation Momentum is on at the Barbican until 1 June

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Le Deuxième review: Succulent European fare in a relaxing restaurant in bustling Covent Garden

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Delicious: Pan fried hake with kedgeree

Covent Garden isn’t normally the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of a quiet evening meal thanks to its long association as being one of the biggest tourist draws in London. However, on a recent Saturday night, I found Le Deuxième to be a surprisingly tranquil and relaxing place to dine. Of course, this probably doesn’t apply to the pre-theatre crowd for the early seatings, but for a post 7.30pm meal, you’ll find Le Deuxième is an appealing venue that makes you forget you are even in such a tourist hotspot. The restaurant serves European fare and has been a popular pre-theatre place to eat since opening in 2001.

A group of girl friends and I recently visited Le Deuxième for one of our party’s belated birthday celebrations. Arriving at 7.30pm, we were shown to a cosy table by the window looking out over Long Acre. Immediately upon arrival, we all commented how quiet – audibly rather than lack of customers – it was given its location on the bustling street. Low lighting, pristine white tablecloths and candles made for an enticing and more upmarket feel than I was admittedly expecting.

We had booked our table through TopTable, giving us a three course set menu deal, including a Kir Royale for £27.50 which was very good value for the quality of food. For a set menu, there was a lot more choices than usual and it took us quite a while to decide what we wanted. Although the waiter returned a few times to see if we had made our minds up, there was no pressure or sign of impatience from the staff. To start with, I opted for the Halloumi, baby spinach and pear salad. I’ve had the combination of fruit and savoury starter only a few times in my life, but I must say the fusion of the two is surprisingly delicious and I savoured every mouthful of the dish.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Fusion: Halloumi, baby spinach and pear salad (left) and Crème brûlée (right)

For my main, I was torn for choice between the many fish dishes but as I didn’t have a huge appetite, but eventually decided on the Pan Fried Hake with Kedgeree. The hake was cooked to perfection, was light and melted in the mouth. The subtle flavours of the kedgeree complemented the dish well, with a little sauce to round it off. For sides, myself and my party shared some sautéed spinach and mashed potato.

Finally to finish, there was only one choice for me, an oldie but goodie – crème brûlée. The last time I had eaten one was in Paris and it was way too big a portion, so I was thrilled with Le Deuxième’s perfectly sized dessert which was tasty and therefore swiftly demolished! Just the right combination of crunchy topping and creamy goodness underneath. To accompany our meal, we ordered a bottle of Prosecco as we were in the mood for celebrating. Overall, we ended up spending about 3 1/2 hours in the restaurant so it turned into quite a lengthy session. However, thanks to good company, friendly and patient waiting staff and delicious food, the evening flew by. My only issue was the service charge at 15% was slightly higher than I would expect. Overall, my party were unanimous that we all enjoyed our dishes and would be happy to return.

  • Le Deuxième, 65A Long Acre, Covent Garden, WC2E 9JH. Nearest tube: Covent Garden. For more information and booking, visit Le Deuxieme’s website.

For a list of Metro’s Girl’s other bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Enjoy an Olympic view as The Orbit re-opens to the public

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Climb The Orbit for 360 views of the Olympic Park

Nearly two years after the London Olympics, The Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is finally set to re-open. Standing at 114.5 metre (376 feet) tall, ArcelorMittal Orbit is Britain’s tallest sculpture. Along with the London Eye and The Shard, The Orbit provides stunning views of London, looking over the capital from the east.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The orbit gives 360 degree views from London

The Orbit was a winning design in a competition in 2009, conceived by Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who believed the Olympic Park needed an ‘Olympic Tower’. The same year, Britain’s richest man, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal became interested in the project and offered to contribute funding towards it. In March 2010, Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s Orbit design was selected from a shortlist of three. Construction began in November 2010 and was unveiled to the public in May 2012 – two months before the London Olympics.

The structure comprises of two parts – a grey ‘trunk’ containing the stairs, elevators and topped by the observation desk. A lot of the ‘trunk’ is obscured by the twisting red lattice steel winding its way around the structure. It was made using 2000 tons of steel – from Mittal’s ArcelorMittal plants and recycled steel from Luxembourg. It stands tall at 114.5 metre (376 feet), making it the tallest sculpture in the UK. The observation tower is across two levels with a capacity for 150 people.

Public and press reaction to the Orbit has undoubtedly been mixed. It is a very contemporary piece and not to everyone’s taste. However, when it re-opens to the public in April 2014 as part of the regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I’m sure there are many who will appreciate the view from the structure while perhaps not liking the design. The Orbit reopens on 5 April and will now include new digital interpretation’ and visitor facilities. Hopefully it will fare better than the Emirates Air Line cable car, which hasn’t been used as much as hoped since the Olympics and Paralympics ended.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The ArcelorMittal Orbit features viewing platforms across two levels

  • The Orbit, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E15 2NG. Nearest tube/train: Stratford. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £7 (Local residents of Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest get £2 off). For more information and booking, visit the ArcelorMittal Orbit website.


For Metro Girl’s blog posts on other London lookouts, including The Shard, click here or London Eye, click here.

For further blog posts on the Olympic Park, read London Anniversary Games: An afternoon of nostalgia and triumph over adversity or It’s been a wild ride! Reflecting on my London Olympics experience

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Swiss glockenspiel in Leicester Square: The last survivor of the Swiss Centre

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Swiss Glockenspiel now stands alone, a few feet from its former home

© Tim@SW2008 on Flickr

The Swiss Centre in 1988
© Tim@SW2008 on Flickr

Anyone who grew up in London in the ’80s and ’90s would have been probably been excited by the Swiss glockenspiel in Leicester Square. Situated on the outside of the Swiss Centre, the clock used to play music, ring bells and feature moving figures dressed in Swiss costumes. I used to love standing and looking up at the glockenspiel in action as a young child. When the Swiss Centre was demolished in 2008 to make way for the W London hotel and M&M’s World, I was sad to see the glockenspiel go.

The Swiss Centre, a piece of Modernist architecture designed to showcase Swiss culture and encourage tourism, was built just west of Leicester Square in the Sixties. Opened in 1968, it consisted of a two-storey podium against a backdrop of a 14-storey tower block. The podium included a totem pole featuring Swiss motifs and adverts. On the Leicester Square facing side of the podium featured a Carillon – a musical instrument made of 27 bells set alongside 11 moving Swiss figures (carved by Fritz Fuchs in 1968). In 1984, the glockenspiel was added as a gift of friendship from Switzerland and Liechtenstein, making the Swiss Centre a popular stop for tourists and Londoners passing between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. On the hour, the clock would chime, the bells would ring and the figures would move around the curved wall.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Swiss figures move around to the music on the hour

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Swiss Centre may be gone, but the Swiss association lives on with the Confederation’s 26 state flags

However, the Swiss Centre never lived up to its expectations. The complex included the Swiss Tourist Board and other Swiss companies, including banks and restaurants. As time went on, non-Swiss businesses came and went,  including nightclubs, tacky tourist shops and an art house cinema. In 2002, Westminster City Council concluded the Swiss Centre was failing as a building. It didn’t complement its neighbouring buildings and its Swiss theme in such a touristy part of the West End was confusing to many. In 2006, the council agreed to its demolition and by 2008, it was headed for history with the W London hotel built on the site. While there weren’t likely to be many sad about the removal of the Swiss Centre, plenty were lamenting the absence of the Glockenspiel. While the building is now a distant memory, its name lives on in Swiss Court – the name of the pedestrianised path leading from Leicester Square to Wardour Street.

In November 2011, the Swiss Glockenspiel was returned to Swiss Court, just metres from its original location. Derby clockmakers Smith of Derby worked with Swiss artists to redesign and restore the musical clock. Now a free-standing version, the 10 metro high Glockenspiel was officially inaugurated at a Swiss-themed ceremony. The clock is now wireless and controlled from Derby, while the Glockenspiel now plays new music written by London’s Royal Academy of Music and the University for Music and Art in Berne. A couple of metres away, stands a flag pole featuring the Confederation’s 26 state flags, which also used to stand on the Swiss Centre.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Ring those bells! The Glockenspiel features 27 bells

  • Check out this YouTube video of the Glockenspiel on the Swiss Centre, filmed by David Gachechiladze shortly before demolition in 2007.

photo credit: Tim@SW2008 via photopin cc

To read a review of the Afternoon Tea at the W Hotel on the old site of the Swiss Centre, read W Rock Tea at W Hotel: Take a magical mystery (taste) tour with the coolest afternoon tea in town

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Silent Disco at View From The Shard: Shaking your booty at 800ft

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Best view in London – looking at Tower Bridge and Docklands from the 72nd floor of The Shard

Silent Discos have been growing steadily in popularity in recent years. To an outsider, they admittedly do look rather bizarre to see people singing and dancing to no audible music. I’ve been to a festival with a Silent Disco before which I didn’t partake in and it was quite weird to watch the participants and trying to guess which song they were listening to. I have long wanted to go up The Shard since I watched the inauguration laser light show of the building back in July 2012, but had held off due to the ticket price. However, when I heard there was an event taking place – a Silent Disco - I leaped at the chance to buy tickets, so finally visited this week.

In conjunction with Time Out, The View From The Shard – the viewing platforms on the 69th and 72nd floor – are hosting Silent Discos on selected dates throughout March and April. Priced at £35, tickets include access to the floors over four hours and a pair of wireless headphones, which can pick up three different DJs and their mixes, depending on your taste. Upon arrival at reception, we put our coats in the cloakroom and were whizzed up to the 68th floor via two lifts, with a break halfway up the building. I had totally forgotten from the publicity at the time of The View From The Shard’s opening that the toilets have floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the City of London. I must admit I felt a sort of stage fright about using the facilities against a window – something I am sure many visitors feel a bit apprehensive about – until you remind yourself no one can see you at that height.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Listen to the blue, green or red DJs through wireless headphones

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Stage fright? The toilets have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the City

The main focus of the action was on the enclosed 69th floor viewing gallery. The three DJs were linked to three colours blue, green or red, so you could switch your wireless headphones to which one you wanted to listen to. Personally, I was a Team Blue girl – listening to dance anthems and old school soul and hip-hop, but did flirt with Team Green often throughout the evening. Whatever your music taste, there was definitely something for everyone. The clientele was a mix of 20 and 30somethings, mostly groups of friends, but some couples. There were several bars dotted around, with themed cocktails and champagne besides the usual spirits, wines and beers. We opted for £7 Mile High Cocktails (Vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry, lime topped with sparkling water and garnished with orange), which was refreshing and tasty. When I first arrived, I was a bit distracted by the view as it was my first time at The Shard. However, after taking in the sights at the 69th and open air platform on level 72 (which was rather freezing I must admit!), I was ready to ‘disco’. My apprehension about dancing to music through headphones soon vanished and soon my friend and I were singing along and dancing our feet off to the familiar tracks.

Music, dancing and drinking aside, the event is also an opportunity to enjoy the stunning 360 degree views of London at a height of up to 800ft, which are of course available all year round. The 69th floor includes interactive touchscreen telescopes so you can zoom in to your favourite landmarks. During the disco, we ended up finding a spot overlooking Tower Bridge and St Paul’s – a unique view for the average London dancefloor! Despite being at such a heady height, I must admit it didn’t actually feel as high as I expected. I thought the streets below would be even tinier, but you could easily identify buses, etc. Overall, my friend and I had a really good night out. There was a great atmosphere, really fun and friendly. The combination of dancing, great music, cocktails and the best view in London made for a unique and entertaining night out.  Get tickets if you can!

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

View of the West End, London Eye and River Thames

  • The View From The Shard. Tickets to regular viewing platform £24.95 in advance, £29.95 walk up price. Silent Disco tickets £35, available through Time Out London. The View From The Shard, Joiner Street, SE1 9SP. Nearest tube/train: London Bridge. For more information and booking, visit The View From The Shard website.

For Metro Girl’s blog post on another London viewpoint – the London Eye, click here, or if you fancy a view with some adrenalin, read about up on the roof of the O2 at Up At The O2, click here.

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