The one tube you CAN drink on! Head underground for post-war frolics at Cahoots

© Cahoots

Grab a seat and hold tight! A vintage tube carriage has been recreated in Cahoots

I’m always on a lookout for a bar with a difference and unlike the other themed drinking establishments in the capital, Soho’s newest nightspot celebrates one of my favourite things – London itself. Playing up to the building’s history as a former World War II shelter, Cahoots is an underground basement bar which takes guests back in time to the 1940s. Located in Soho, Cahoots has been styled as an abandoned underground station in post-war London, where those in the know come to party.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Cheers! We enjoyed gin-infused cocktails, such as the Vera Lynn, served in a green female-shaped mug

I was lucky enough to be invited to the bar’s launch party recently as the premise really excited me. My blogging name is Metro Girl… the bar is underground themed.. surely it’s got to be a match made in heaven? The bar’s entrance is subtle from the street, but once entering and heading down the wooden escalator-style steps (which prompted flashback to riding the tube as a child in the ’80s) we were greeted by a doorman (who in character and in a rather spiffing accent, old chum), told us the station was ‘closed’. We played up to it and said ‘we had an appointment’ and were shown the way in. The interior of the bar is pretty amazing – along with a recreated tube carriage (where we subsequently ended up sitting in most of the night), there were vintage-style signs from both the London Underground and the post-war years. Sandbags, bunting, and waiters dressed in vintage clothing furthering the vibe. We parked ourselves in the carriage with our drinks resting on an old suitcase which doubled as a table. The theme continued through to the toilets, with 1940s street sound effects adding to the atmosphere.

The cocktail menu is extensive and unique, with influences from popular drinks from the 1940s, as well as unusual ingredients such as tea leaves, beetroot and Oxo cubes. Cocktails are served in a variety of vessels, such as tin cans, Thermos flasks and milk bottles, ranging from £7-£9. I tried quite a few cocktails, but my favourite was a ‘Vera Lynn’, a fruity gin concontion which came served in a lovely green china version of the wartime dame in her heyday. There’s also an impressive sharing cocktail for groups, the Tanqueray No.10 Station Clock, where you dish out your booze from a giant hollow clock.

As well as the interiors and cocktails, there is also great entertainment with swing bands and dancers performing on many evenings. We were encouraged to try a bit of dancing, but I politely declined over fears of making a fool of myself, but some fellow guests were game and did a good job. The music was a mix of jazz, swing and lindy-hop, so you really feel like you’ve stepped in a time machine. Although this may seem like an immersive experience, we enjoyed ourselves so much I could see Cahoots becoming a regular drinking den for me and my pals. For those looking for something a bit different for a night out, I can highly recommend Cahoots. As long as you’re looking for adventure and are open to embracing the strong theme, head underground. Just don’t tell everyone…

  • Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest tube [apart from Cahoots obviously… ;-)]: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Cahoots website.
© Cahoots

Don’t tell everyone! The entrance to Cahoots feels like a real-life tube station


 For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

To read about Metro Girl’s visit to the disused tube station Aldwych, click here.

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On yer bike! Ride in style as The Tweed Run returns to London

© Matt Shaw

On yer bike! The Tweed Run takes in various historic London landmarks
© Matt Shaw

There’s many high-profile cycling events in the capital like the Tour de Britain and RideLondon. But let’s face it, the Lycra cycling costumes aren’t the most stylish of ensembles. Well, for those looking for a cycle ride with a difference, April sees the return of The Tweed Run.

The Tweed Run is a must for fans of vintage and cycling, with the 7th annual event combining the two to create one of the most stylish events in the UK. Participants dress in their best 1920s and 1930s tweed attire as they cycle through the historic streets of London. Spectators can expect to see the likes of penny-farthings, vintage two-wheelers and contemporary pedal-powered contraptions. Speed demons need not apply, as guests will be stopping off along the way at various landmarks to enjoy a cup of tea and a picnic in the park before ending the day with a knees-up in an art deco ballroom for the closing ceremony.

Although places for the Tweed Run are now filled, you can join riders at the closing ceremony, hosted by Bourne & Hollingsworth at the Bloomsbury Ballroom on Saturday evening. In the stunning location, vintage-dressed cyclists and revellers will enjoy an evening of delicious cocktails and food and live music.

  • The Tweed Run takes place on Saturday 18 April 2015, starting at Trafalgar Square at 11am. Although tickets for cyclists are now sold out, there are £20 tickets available for the Bourne & Hollingsworth’s Tweed Run Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening. For more information and tickets, visit The Tweed Run website or Bourne & Hollingsworth.

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

For a review of brunch at the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, click here.

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Live out your Tarzan fantasies with adrenalin-fuelled fun at Go Ape Trent Park

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Swing through the air on the Tarzan swings at Go Ape in Trent Park

With 8 million people crammed into 40 square miles, London isn’t exactly renowned for wild open spaces and outdoor activities. However, for the more adventurous Londoner looking for something different for a day off, or a fun activity for a hen, stag or birthday party, Go Ape is a great way to spend a few hours.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Daring: Whiz back down to earth on the zip wires

Go Ape has sites nationwide giving both adults and children the opportunity to fly through the trees with Tarzan swings, high ropes and zip wires. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, a group of us (aged between 20s-60s!) visited Go Ape in Trent Park on the outskirts of London last summer for a hen party activity. Although on the day in question it was raining, it was still possible to do the activity with a pair of sturdy trainers and a raincoat.

We booked the Tree Top Adventure package (£33pp) and arrived a short time before our time slot to get equipped with safety harnesses. Before taking to the trees, you are given full safety instructions by a trained staff member and are individually asked to demonstrate your new skills before you are trusted to do it alone. Although you climb higher and higher across the course as you gain in confidence and experience, the ropes start at easy jumping distance from the ground to get you acclimatised. Go Ape staff members are always nearby on the forest floor should you run into any difficulty.

The course is split into five sections and involve 33 or 38 crossings, taking around two to three hours to complete. While some crossings just involve ropes, some are made of wooden platforms suspended between the trees. Although some of the platforms are wobbly, you have your safety harness attached at all times so always feel your safety is paramount.

The climax of the course sees you climbing incredibly high with views over Trent Park, before descending down a 120 metre zip wire. Being responsible for your own safety harness adds an extra bit of adrenalin and the initial seconds when you launch yourself off the platform on a zip wire or Tarzan swing can be quite scary before you realise you’re not plunging to the ground and are flying through the air.

While the day in question we visited, it was drizzling rain on and off, it didn’t dampen our mood or enthusiasm for the activity. There were a few screams, some psyching ourselves up and a lot of laughing, but overall we thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes a bit of adventure in their life, or perhaps would be a good place for someone who wants to conquer their fear of heights.

A few tips – bring a waterproof coat, closed toe shoes (preferably trainers or something with grip) and gloves could be handy too. Leave your fear at home too!

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Participants are required to pass between trees using a variety of rope and wooden apparatus

  • Go Ape, Trent Country Park, Cockfosters Road, Enfield, EN4 0PS. Nearest station: Cockfosters. For more information and booking, visit the Go Ape website.

For Metro Girl’s post on hen parties in London, click here.

 Or for a 1920s hen night, why not read our review of the Candlelight Club here.

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DF/Mexico review: Self-service, tacos and free drinks refills… eating Mexican NY-style

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Mexican street food: Fish tacos at DF/Mexico

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Once you’ve seen the menu, you can order on the self-service touch screens

DF/Mexico is the newest venture from the people behind Wahaca. I’ve long been a fan of the Wahaca chain and Mexican food in general and am thrilled there’s finally decent Mexican food in London after years of nothingness. A close friend, who like me has also travelled around Mexico and is quite discerning when it comes to its cuisine, recommend I try it… before the name completely slipped my mind. Then on a Friday afternoon in Shoreditch, I accidentally stumbled upon DF/Mexico and instantly remembered it as my friend’s recommendation. The DF in the name is what Mexicans refer to Mexico City as, aka Distrito Federal. The premise is a modern Mexican diner serving street food. There’s no reservations and an unusual self-service system, so if you’re looking to be treated, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking for filling and tasty food and don’t have much time on your hands, this is a good place to stop.

My sister and I visited for a late lunch and were pretty ravenous by the time we arrived. We claimed a table before studying the menus – featuring a mix of burritos, tacos, salad and grilled chicken or meat. Once we were ready to order, we headed to one of the self-service touch screens, where you put your order in. I found it pretty simple and straight-forward, despite the lack of interaction with a human. We both ordered some of the bottomless soft drinks at just £2.30, which was very appealing if you’re particularly thirsty. I’m a fan of Hibiscus – a flavour I don’t find very often – so enjoyed a few glasses of it and it was pretty gorgeous I must admit. In addition to the usual soda, the venue is also licensed and serves Mexican classics such as Frozen Margaritas or Sol and Pacifico Clara beers.

Upon returning to our table, we didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive. I ordered the MSC Fish Tacos, served helpfully upright in a taco tray. Cooked in Panko crumbs, the cod was filling and tasty – not too oily – and served with red coleslaw and Chipotle mayonnaise, which gave it a bit of a kick. Admittedly, I could have ordered more, but the lateness of the day being caught between lunch and dinner meant I was forced to reel in my appetite. Overall, the venue was light and contemporary and we felt quite comfortable stopping by for our quick eat. The food and drink were really good and the prices were very good value. Definitely a pit stop to refuel at next time I’m in Brick Lane.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Thirst-quenchers: Unlimited refills of ‘Aguas Frescas’, in either Horchata, Hibiscus or Lime and chia

  • DF/Mexico, Hanbury Street, Shoreditch, E1 6QR. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. for more information, visit the DF/Mexico website.

For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

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It’s not falling down and it’s NOT Tower Bridge: The history of London Bridge

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The current London Bridge has been standing since the 1970s, connecting the City with Southwark

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The bridge contains its name engraved into the side for passing boat passengers

Poor London Bridge. It regularly finds its name being misused by tourists thinking it’s actually the grander, more elaborate neighbour downstream Tower Bridge. In fact, when I type ‘London Bridge’ into Google, the Tower Bridge Experience is the first hit so I couldn’t blame London Bridge for feeling somewhat of an inferiority complex. While Tower Bridge is admittedly a lot better looking, it will never have the history and importance to London that the city’s namesake bridge will have.

The current London Bridge has only been crossing the River Thames since the 1970s and is the latest incarnation in a list of bridges which have carried its name. The first river crossing stemmed back to Roman London, with the original being built somewhere in the area of the present site by the invading Roman army of Emperor Claudius (10 BC-13AD) in the 50s AD. The initial bridge was only temporary, with a second permanent one being erected soon after made of wood. The creation of the bridge came as the Roman city of Londinium began to swiftly develop on the site of the current City, with a smaller settlement emerging on the southern end in present day Southwark. When the Romans departed in the 5th century, Londonium was abandoned and the bridge was left to rot. It wasn’t until the 9th century that the Saxons returned to the old Roman City following repeated Viking invasions. The city was ‘refounded’ by Alfred The Great (849-899AD) in 886AD and another river bridge was erected. However, by 1014, the bridge was said to have been destroyed by Olaf II of Norway (995-1030) in a bid to separate the Danish occupants of old London and Southwark. Olaf’s troops were believed to have tied their boats to the bridge supports and rowed away, pulling the bridge down in the process. This leads to one of the theories of the origins of the nursery rhyme ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’, although others have claimed it dates more recently to the 13th century. After William The Conqueror (1028-1087) claimed the English throne in 1066, another bridge was built on the site, but it didn’t last long and was destroyed by the London tornado of 1091. Believed to be a T8 tornado, it claimed two lives and left the church of St Mary-Le-Bow badly damaged. It was then replaced by King William II (1056-1100), with his incarnation of the river crossing eventually being destroyed by fire in 1136.

London Bridge (1616) Claes Van Visscher

Old Medieval London Bridge in 1616, taken from a panorama by Claes Van Visscher. Southwark Cathedral can be seen in the foreground and to the right the heads of executed prisoners above the southern gatehouse.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Two stones from the old Medieval London Bridge now stand in the courtyard of St Magnus-the-Martyr Church

Finally in the 12th century, London Bridge began to be built of stone – a much more hardy material given the amount of natural disasters, fires and war which had ravaged the previous incarnations. In 1176, under the rule of King Henry II (1133-1189), work began on the foundations of the first stone London Bridge. The project was overseen by Peter, a priest and chaplain of St Mary Colechurch (which no longer exists) with funding raised from taxes on wool. The bridge, which is now referred to in history as the Old Medieval London Bridge, took 33 years to complete. When it opened in 1209, it was 274 metres long, six metres wide and featured 20 Gothic arches. By this point, King Henry II had already died and his heir, King John (1166-1216) ended up leasing plots on the bridge to fill the deficit in a bid to recoup the huge costs of the build. The bridge featured gatehouses at each end and a drawbridge near the Southwark entrance to allow bigger ships to pass through. Owning a business on London Bridge was quite the draw and by 1358 it was seriously overcrowded, with a whopping 138 shops spanning the River, with some buildings as many as seven stories high. The encroaching plots meant the actual road was reduced to just four metres so it was quite a squeeze for carts, horses and livestock. Unsurprisingly, the resulting traffic was so bad, it could take up to an hour to cross the bridge. In addition to congestion, the cramped living and shopping quarters were also a hazard. In 1212, fires broke out at both ends of the bridge, causing an estimated 3,000 deaths. By 1381, there were more fires on the bridge during the Peasants’ Rebellion and further still in 1450 during Jack Cade’s rebellion.

As well as numerous fires, the bridge was susceptible to damage and ageing and was frequently repaired. Parts of the bridge collapsed in 1281, 1309, 1425 and 1437, the first blamed on expanding ice from the frozen River Thames during a particularly harsh winter. Each time the bridge was damaged, it was repaired again. In contradiction to the Norse origin of ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’, the other theory is the song was referring to Eleanor of Provence (1223-1291), the queen consort of King Henry III, who was very unpopular with Londoners. Many accused her of misappropriating the bridge maintenance fund for other means and she was even attacked coming down the Thames on her barge in 1263 and had to be rescued by the then-Mayor of London.

Meanwhile, London Bridge was more than just a Medieval shopping mall and river crossing, it had a rather more grim association for 355 years. When Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered in 1305, his head was dipped in tar and placed on a pike above the southern gatehouse. This gruesome display served as a warning to citizens to obey their king and the country’s laws, and became a tradition until 1660 following the restoration of King Charles II (1630-1685), when it was finally abolished. Over the decades, the heads of Wat Tyler, Jack Cade, Sir Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Bishop Fisher and Guy Fawkes were all stuck over the gatehouse. Six years after this gross practice came to an end, London was famously ravaged by the Great Fire in September 1666. However, it turned out the previous fires the bridge had experienced actually saved it, as a gap between buildings acted as a fire break.

London Bridge, stereopticon card photo from early 1890s

John Rennie’s Old London Bridge in a postcard from the early 1890s. The bridge now stands in Lake Havasu City in Arizona, US.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

By the 18th century, the traffic situation on London Bridge had reached crisis levels. In 1722, the Lord Mayor imposed a new rule that traffic should keep to the left, the first time such a rule had been made and is now long enshrined in law for vehicles in this country. Forty years later, congestion on the bridge was relieved somewhat when an Act of Parliament ordered all buildings across it to be demolished. However, these improvements couldn’t turn around the fortunes of what a modern day council would declare to be a ‘failing building’ and it was decided a new bridge was needed. Scottish engineer John Rennie (1761-1821) won the competition in 1799 with his design of five stone arches. However, building didn’t start until 1824 with the foundations being laid 100 feet west of the old Medieval bridge. Following Rennie’s design, the 283 metres long and 15 metres wide bridge was made from Haytor granite and constructed by Jolliffe and Banks under the supervision of the then-late Rennie’s son John (the younger, 1794-1874). The movement of the bridge upstream meant new approach roads had to be built which added to the £2.5million cost. The new location meant the church of St Magnus the Martyr was no longer the first building people passed by when they entered the City of London. The new bridge was finally opened on 1 August 1831 by King William IV (1765-1837) and Queen Adelaide (1792-1849). During the building, the old bridge had remained in use and was demolished once its replacement had been opened. Rather disrespectfully, during demolition the bones of Peter de Colechurch (who masterminded the building of the Medieval bridge and had been buried in its old chapel) were found and tossed into the Thames. Some of the features of the old Medieval Bridge were sold off and some of the stone alcoves can still be seen today in Victoria Park in East London and in the grounds of Guy’s Hospital, just south east of London Bridge.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Underneath the arches: Looking under one of the three concrete box girders

Over the subsequent decades and despite opening of other bridges, London Bridge was one of the busiest parts of the whole capital. City bosses managed to widen the bridge in 1902-04, however subsequent surveys over the early 20th century showed the bridge was sinking an inch every eight years. The local government knew the bridge wasn’t up to the demands of growing London and its traffic. In 1967, the Common Council of the City of London decided to look for potential buyers after council member Ivan Luckin suggested putting it up for sale. In April 1968, American businessman Robert McCulloch bought it for $2,460,000. There’s an urban myth that McCulloch thought he was buying the grander Tower Bridge instead, but this was denied at the time by Luckin. Rennie’s bridge was then taken apart and shipped over to the newly-built Lake Havasu City in Arizona, USA, where it still stands today.

So last, but not least, we come to the current modern London Bridge, which was designed by British architect William Holford (1907-1975) and engineers Mott, Hay and Anderson. The bridge comprised of three spans of prestressed-concrete box girders and is 283 metres long and 32 metre wide. It took five years to build at a cost of £4million and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 17 March 1973. Despite its grand history (or at least its predecessors which bared its name), London Bridge is now one of the youngest spanning the Thames. However, with the opening of the Millennium Bridge and plans for new crossings in Vauxhall and Temple, it won’t look so ‘young’ after all.

London Bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Colourful: London Bridge lit up in orange and blue during the London 2012 Olympics


For film footage of Rennie’s bridge in 1927, click here.

To read about the history of nearby Borough Market, click here or the story behind the Millennium Bridge, click here.

For more of Metro Girl’s London history blog posts, click here.

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Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings review: Brunch and bottomless cocktails… what’s not to love?

© Bourne & Hollingsworth

Bringing the outdoors indoors: The Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings’ greenhouse is a light and relaxing environment
© Bourne & Hollingsworth

The Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is the latest venture from social supremos Bourne & Hollingsworth. The company has already impressed with theirs bars Reverend RW Simpson and Bourne & Hollingsworth Bar and their events such as Blitz Party, Dark Circus and Prohibition. Last September, they added the B&H Buildings – their first restaurant – to their repertoire.

Located in Clerkenwell, just off Exmouth Market, the B&H Buildings is an all-day bar and brasserie offering a relaxed environment. Last week, I paid a visit to experience their new weekend brunch party, which offers fresh English dishes and bottomless cocktails. The first thing which struck me upon entering the venue was how light and airy it was compared to other restaurants. The interiors were inviting with lots of greenery, a good environment for the eyes after a boozy night before. The bar was full of inviting vintage-style sofas and coffee tables, while the dining area featured a mix of patterned armchairs, marble tables and garden furniture, giving a conservatory-feel.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Brunching: Potato hash with smoked salmon and fried duck egg (left) and B&H Breakfast, featuring Cumberland sausages, black pudding, tomato, poached egg and toast (right)

© Bourne & Hollingsworth

Something sweet: French toast with caramelised bananas and mixed nuts

The brunch menu features a choice of single serving or bottomless cocktails – offering unlimited refills on classics such as Bellinis and Bloody Marys for £15/£16. My companion was rather braver than me and ordered a Bloody Mary served to his preference of extra hot. I was in the mood for something a bit easier on the taste buds and ordered one of my favourites, a peach Bellini.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

An extra spicy Bloody Mary

The food menu, printed daily complete with weather forecast which was a nice touch, was a great mix of sweet and savoury, meaning it took me a while to finally commit to a dish. As good as my usual favourite, the Eggs Royale looked, I decided to try something different and opted for the Crispy Potato Hash (£9), which can be served three ways and with a choice of poached hen’s egg or fried duck’s egg. Presented in a crisp white bowl, my hash was mixed with the salmon and topped with two eggs and hollandaise sauce. The potato hash was fairly light and tasted lovely mixed with the salmon and egg. My companion went for a traditional breakfast (from £8.50), comprising of two eggs (to your preference) and toast, with a choice of three items. He decided on Cumberland sausages – which were a little crispy – tomato and black pudding, and evidently enjoyed the filling spread. I was in a rather greedy mood and wanted something sweet to follow so just about managed a second course of French toast with Caramelised Banana and Mixed Nuts (£6). It looked amazing – very gooey and sugary – when it arrived on our table and fortunately it tasted as good as it looked. It was pure indulgence.

Overall I really enjoyed the brunch. The B&H Buildings were relaxing and I found the space a really comfortable space to be in. The service was friendly and we were well attended to throughout our leisurely meal. The food was good and I thought the menu offered a good choice of brunch items. It was a great place to spend a rainy Sunday and I’ll definitely be back.

  • Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, 42 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HU. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel. The weekend brunch parties run from 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit the Bourne & Hollingsworth buildings website.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Celebrate World Book Day as authors share their latest reads at Seven Dials

© Seven Dials

For the love of books: Liz Hoggard (left) and Samantha Shannon (right) will be among the authors taking part in Seven Dials’ World Book Day celebration

It’s World Book Day on 5 March and to celebrate the event, Seven Dials’ Book Exchange are hosting readings from three authors throughout the week. Writers Hannah Rochelle, Liz Hoggard with Sarah-Jane Lovett and Samantha Shannon will be reading excerpts from their new books with an intimate audience. The evening events, taking place on 3rd, 4th and 5th March, will see guests treated to complimentary popcorn and prosecco while listening to the authors in action. There will also be the chance for Q&As and book signings.

Kicking off the festivities on Tuesday 3rd is Hannah Rochelle, Fashion Features Editor at InStyle magazine and founder of EnBrogue.com, a blog devoted to stylish flat shoes. After huge success of her blog, which has been featured in The Times, The Guardian, Red Online and BBC Radio 4, among others, Hannah is now releasing the En Brogue book, featuring hand-drawn illustrations, photographs and facts about her favourite flats.

On Wednesday 4th, writing duo Liz Hoggard and Sarah-Jane Lovett will be sharing some insights from their Dangerous Women: The Guide to Modern Life. The life-enhancing tome offers practical, but humorous advice from a group of very knowledge women, with entries such as ‘Accepting A Compliment’,’Affairs’ to ‘Family Therapy’ and ‘Teenagers’.

Finally, on World Book Day itself on Thursday 5th, Samantha Shannon will be treating fans to an excerpt of her second novel The Mime Order, following on from her hit debut novel The Bone Season, which was set in Seven Dials. Her latest tale tells the story of Paige Mahoney’s alternate future London.

  • To confirm your place at the events, please register at www.sevendials.co.uk, with the date you wish to attend. There will also be the opportunity for a few walk in on the evening on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 6pm, and the readings will commence at 6.30pm. Seven Dials’ Book Exchange, 9 Shorts Gardens, WC2H. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square.

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

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Shopping with a conscience as One Good Thing pop-up store comes to Berwick Street

© Berwick Street London

The team at Soho Bikes are among the local businesses who have donated items to the One Good Thing pop-up shop
© Berwick Street London

There’s two types of shopping in life – necessity and indulgence. However, how often do you go shopping with a conscience, knowing the money you’re spending is putting something back?

Well the latest London pop-up will be doing just that – allowing you to treat yourself, while knowing the money you’re spending is going to a good cause. Leading homeless charity The Connection at St Martin’s is opening the One Good Thing pop-up shop in Soho’s Berwick Street from 2-31 March.

The public will be encouraged to donate quality fashion items which will be sold in store to help the homeless. On sale will be designer and vintage clothing, silk scarves, jewellery, leather handbags, pictures, ornaments, antiques and china. Local stores including Universal Works, Soho Bikes and Percival have already helped by donating clothes and accessories to the store.

All profits will go towards helping London’s homeless move off the streets, while the store will provide homeless people from The Connection with volunteering placements so they can gain retail experience and the skills to help them in future employment.

Lance Kuhn, Enterprise Manager, from The Connection says: ‘We are very excited about our first retail opportunity in Westminster – the London borough most affected by homelessness. I encourage any individual or business to donate and buy from our shop, One Good Thing and make the difference to a homeless person’s prospects.’

  • One Good Thing, 2 Berwick Street, Soho, W1 0PB. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. Open from 2-31 March 2015. Opening hours: Monday – Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm. For more information, visit Berwick Street London’s official website.

To find out what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in March 2015

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Vodafone London Fashion Weekend returns to Somerset House

Spring is on its way thank goodness. It means lighter nights, warmer temperatures and Easter Holidays starting in the last week of March. This month will see lots of festivals and special events for foodies, travel junkies, fashionistas and film buffs. Of course, lots of activities are taking place towards the end in a bid to help harassed parents entertain their little angels over the Easter Holidays. Here’s a guide to what’s on in London this month…

  • 1 March : TNT Travel Show

Exclusive travel deals, top travel companies, inspirational travel seminars and discounts on travel. Tickets: Pre-registration: Free, fast track £2.50, VIP £15. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the TNT Travel Show website.

  • 1 – 8 March : WOW: Women Of The World Festival

A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Salma Hayek, Caitlin Moran, Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, Bridget Christie, Shazia Mirza, Sandi Toksvig and Lady Leshurr among the featured names. Events range from free to £40. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 26 February – 1 March : Vodafone London Fashion Weekend

London Fashion Weekend follows London Fashion Week, giving access to everyone who loves fashion (who has tickets!). Tickets must be bought in advance, which are available for different prices and packages, starting from £20 for the bronze package. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple or Holborn. For more information, visit the London Fashion Weekend website.

  • 27 February – 1 March : BBC Good Food Eat Well Show

The inaugural BBC Good Food Eat Well Show comes to Olympia, bringing together healthy food brands, products and producers and featuring book signings, dietitians’ clinic and Eat Well interview stage. Celebrity guests include Phil Vickery, Jenni Falconer, Davinia McCall, Natasha Corrett, Lorraine Pascal and Liz Earle, among others. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: £15. Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Nearest tube/overland: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show website.

  • 27 February – 1 MarchView Festival

Three day festival of art history, featuring debates, talks, film screenings, student presentations, exclusive museum tours and an art book fair. Some events are free, while others cost up to £10. Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, 17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT. Nearest tube: South Kensington. For more information, visit the View Festival website.

  • 2 – 31 March : One Good Thing pop-up store

Homeless charity The Connection at St Martin’s is opening a month-long pop-up store in Soho’s Berwick Street, selling designer and vintage fashion, accessories and gifts. Profits will go towards helping the homeless. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm. One Good Thing, 2 Berwick Street, Soho, W1 0PB. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit Berwick Street London’s official website. Read Metro Girl’s post on One Good Thing here.

  • 3 – 6 MarchDevonshire Square World Food Festival

World food market returns to the historic square in between the City and Shoreditch. Twenty stalls will be dishing up delights, including Cheeky Burger, Bull and Rancher, Arepas, Maize Blaze (100% gluten free Colombian dishes), Shrimpy, The Mac Factory, and Mark Jankel’s Street Kitchen. Open 12-2pm. Devonshire Square, EC2M. Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

  • Now until 3 March : Post Pop: East Meets West

An exhibition of pop art and its influence from the US to Russia to China. Artists includ George Pusenkoff, Leonid Sokov, David Mach, Vitaly Komar, Alexander Melamid and Michael Lin, among others. 10am-6pm. Free. Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest tube: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Saatchi Gallery website.

  • 4 March – 31 May : Inventing Impression

An exhibition chronicling the rise of Impressionism between 1865 and 1905 with the support of Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, including Monet, Renoir, Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, and Edgar Degas. Tickets: £18 adults, under 12s free. National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Embankment. For more information, visit the National Gallery website.

  • 5 – 9 March : Cinema Made In Italy

Film festival of the newest features from Italy at the Ciné Lumière, including Darker Than Midnight (Più Buio di Mezzanotte), Good For Nothing (Buoni a Nulla), Greenery Will Bloom Again (Torneranno i Prati), Perfidia, Quiet Bliss, So Far So Good (Fino a qui tutto bene), The Ice Forest (La Foresta di Ghiaccio), The Lack, The Mafia Kills Only In Summe (La Mafia uccide solo d’Estate) and 9×10 Novanta . Tickets: £10-£12 plus booking fee. Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensbury Place, SW7 2DT. Nearest tube: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Ciné Lumière website.

  • 6 March – 17 May : Jamaican Hidden Histories

Exhibition celebrating the cultural and historical links between Britain and Jamaica. As well as photographs, films and artefacts, there will also be events taking place, including talks, screenings and workshops. Open 11am-6pm daily. Free entry. Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, Southbank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Waterloo or Blackfriars. For more information, visit the Oxo Tower Wharf website.

  • Now until 8 March : Vault Festival
© Jack Abraham

The Vault Festival returns to The Vaults underneath Waterloo station
© Jack Abraham

Six week arts festival in the tunnels beneath Waterloo, featuring 10 performances a day. There will also be free live music every Wednesday and Sunday. On Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays there will be late night parties, including a Valentine’s Ball and Mardi Gras. Tickets range from free to £15. The Vaults, Arch 233, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest tube: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For tickets and listings, visit the Vault Festival website. For more information, check out Metro Girl’s blog post on Vault.

  • Now until 8 March : Orchid Festival

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks. The sea of colour from one of the world’s most stunning flowers will certainly brighten up a dull winter’s day. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: £15 adults or £14 concessions. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 9 March : Trader Vic’s Tiki Cinema

Trader Vic’s in the London Hilton are hosting monthly screenings in their Tiki-themed bar and restaurant. This month’s screening is The Goonies. Film starts at 7.30pm, food is served from 6pm. Tickets: £13 (including screening and a cocktail). Trader’s Vic, 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1BE. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Trader’s Vic website.

  • 10 – 27 March : Drive In Film Club

A pop-up film club at Alexandra Palace, screening films including Dirty Dancing, Grease, Gone Girl, Pulp Fiction and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Rollerskating attendants will bring popcorn and snacks to your car. Price: £22 per car (all occupants included). Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. For more information and tickets, visit the Experience Cinema website.

  • 10 March – 20 April : London Handel Festival

Six weeks of concerts, talks and walks in venues, including Frederick Handel’s own parish church St Georges in Mayfair, as well as the Foundling Museum, Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St Lawrence at Little Stanmore and Grosvenor Chapel. For more information, visit the London Handel Festival website.

  • 11 – 13 March : London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) North London host a beer and cider festival. As well as over 150 beers, ciders and perries to choose from, there is also food and stalls selling merchandise. Open Wed-Thur 12-3pm & 5-10.30pm, Fri 12-10.30pm. Tickets: Free on Wed and Thurs lunchtimes, £3.50 (£2.50 for CAMRA members) all other times. Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, WC1H 9AU. Nearest tube: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information visit the CAMRA North London website.

  • 12 – 15 March : Affordable Art Fair @ Battersea Park

For those among us who aren’t loaded, this event is a chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There is over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging for £40 to £4,000. Admission costs £10.80-£12.96 in advance, more on the door. Nearest rail: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

  • 13 March : Lovely Day for a Guinness – Friday Lates @ Museum Of Brands

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day early at this late night, adults-only opening of the Museum Of Brands, which is celebrating the famous black stuff. Entrance includes free drink on arrival, themed cocktails, drinks and snacks, live entertainment including ceilidh music and an Irish treasure hunt around the museum. 6.30-10pm. Tickets; £10. Museum Of Brands, 2 Colville Mews, off Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AR. Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate. For more information and booking, visit the Museum Of Brands website.

  • 13 – 20 March : Backyard Cinema’s Awards Season @ Altitude London

Pop-up cinema company comes to Altitude London on the 29th floor of the Millbank Tower so you can watch one of this awards season’s top films while enjoying views over the capital. Food and cocktails will also be served from 1950s-style usherettes. Times vary. Tickets start from £15. Altitude London, Millbank Tower, 30 Millbank, SW1P 4RS. Nearest station: Pimlico. For tickets, visit the Backyard Cinema website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s post on the awards season.

  • 14 – 15 March : FutureFest

Two day festival of innovation, featuring immersive experiences, compelling performances and radical speakers. Tickets range from £40-80. Vinopolis, 1 Bank End, Bankside, SE1 9BU. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information and tickets, visit the FutureFest website. For Metro Girl’s review of Vinopolis, click here.

  • 14 – 15 March : London Super Comic Convention

The UK’s biggest comic convention, featuring the latest in comics, comic related memorabilia, superheroes and graphic novels. Tickets start from £18.50. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest tube: Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the London Super Comic Convention.

  • 14 – 29 March : Telegraph Hill Festival

Arts and entertainment festival in South East London, including a production of Guys & Dolls, classical concert, open studios, art shows, interactive exhibits, classes, workshops, talks, literary events, plays, performance art and music events. Lots of events are free, but some will cost. At various venues across New Cross, Nunhead, Hatcham, Brockley and Honor Oak. For more information, visit the Telegraph Hill festival website.

  • 14 March – 2 August : Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

The first retrospective of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, from his MA graduate collection to his final, unfinished Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. Tickets: £17.60 adults, £16.50 OAPs, £9 students. Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest tube: South Kensington. For tickets and more information, visit the V&A website.

  • 15 March : St Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival

If you’re actually Irish or not, all are welcome to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. The parade starts at 12 noon in Piccadilly, before proceeding to Trafalgar Square for the festival. The Square will play host to the free St Patrick’s Day Festival from 12-6pm, which includes dance, music, comedy, films, and a farmers’ market. Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Embankment. For more information, visit the Greater London Authority website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Check out the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square

  • 15 March : Moulin Rouge! screening @ Hippodrome

Pop-up film company Nomad set up camp at the Hippodrome Casino for one night only for a screening of Moulin Rouge! Tickets include an arrival cocktail, a £10 odd super chip and a burlesque performance by the Hippodrome Hunnies. 6pm. £25pp. Over 18s only despite film’s rating of 12 because of location. Hippodrome Casino, Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH. Nearest tube: Leicester Square. For tickets, visit the Nomad Cinema website.

  • 17 March : St Patrick’s Night Party @ View From The Shard

Enjoy the craic at the highest St Patrick’s Day party in Europe at the top of The Shard. A Silent Disco will be taking place at View From The Shard. 8pm-midnight. Tickets: £40. The View From The Shard, Joiner Street, SE1 9SP. Nearest tube/train: London Bridge. For booking, visit Time Out London. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Silent Disco at The Shard here.

  • 19 – 22 March : London Ear Festival

An international, contemporary music festival, celebrating music from Britain, Austrian, Germany, Italy, Austria and Norway. Tickets prices vary. Events take place at The Warehouse (13 Theed Street, SE1 8ST) and Cello Factory (33-34 Cornwall Road, SE1 8TJ). Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the London Ear Festival website.

  • 19 – 29 March : London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

The British Film Institute hosts the 11 day festival of lesbian and gay film at BFI Southbank. Belvedere Road, Southbank, SE1 8XT. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the BFI website.

  • 19 – 29 March : Camberwell Free Film Festival

Ten day free film festival comes to SE5 featuring screenings, talks, and Q&As. Including screenings of The Lego Movie, Frozen and Pride. At various venues including Cool Cats’ Cafe, Flying Dutchman, Salvation Army, and Longfield Hall. For more information, visit the Camberwell Free Film Festival website.

  • 20 March – 6 April : Ideal Home Show

A place of inspiration for homeowners including interiors, fittings and gardens. Includes plenty of opportunities to buy things both big and small for the house and food. Celebrity ambassadors in attendance include Alan Titchmarsh. Gregg Wallace, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, George Clarke, Katie Piper, Martin Lewis, and Suzi Perry. Tickets: Adults £12 (weekday) or £14 (weekend). Earl’s Court, Warwick Road, SW5 9TA. Nearest tube: Earl’s Court or West Brompton. For more information and tickets, visit the Ideal Home Show website.

  • 27 – 29 March : Chocolate Festival

Over 60 chocolatiers will be exhibiting and selling, including Paul Wayne Gregory, Demarquette Fine Chocolates and Damian Allsop, Artisan de Chocolat and Rococo Chocolates. Also including the Taste Zone, Cocoa Spa, Chocolate Café and Chocolate Market. Tickets: £9 in advance (£12 on the door), children £4 (£5), under 5s free. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the Chocolate Festival website.

  • 27 – 29 March : Cheese And Wine Festival

Takes place at the Business Design Centre simultaneously as the Chocolate Festival so savoury fans will be in for a treat too. Opening times: Fri 27th 1-7pm, Sat 28th 10am-7pm, Sun 29th 10am-3pm. Prices TBC. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the Cheese And Wine Festival website.

  • 28 March – 25 May : Shaun In The City Art Trail

Fifty 5ft tall sculptures of Shaun The Sheep will be cropping up around London for two months. High profile artists, designers and celebrities have customised the giant sculptures, which will be scattered across the capital, in locations such as Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Carnaby Street, St Paul’s Cathedral, Chinatown, The View from The Shard and The Tower of London. In October, the Shauns will then go up for auction, with proceeds going to the Wallace & Gromit Children’s Foundation. For more information, visit the Shaun In The City website.

  • 29 March : Head Of The River Race

Four hundred crews from around the world take their boats to race 4.25 miles from Mortlake to Putney. The race starts at 2.15pm so grab a spot along the Thames to catch the action. Free. Nearest tube or train station to spectator points: Mortlake, Barnes Bridge, Hammersmith or Putney Bridge. For more information, visit the Head Of The River Race website.

© Nathan Sawaya

Art Of The Brick runs at the Old Truman Brewery until April
© Nathan Sawaya

  • Now until 29 March : Richmond Performing Arts Festival

Six week festival featuring dance, music, singing and drama at various venues across Kew and Richmond. For more information, visit the Richmond Festival website.

  • 30 March – 12 April : Chorus Festival

Festival celebrating singing as a group, featuring concerts, warm-ups and workshops. Tickets range from free to £38. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 27 February until end of March : Curl’s Best Friend pop-up

Beauty brand Benefit Cosmetics are opening a month-long pop-up cocktail bar and beauty parlour in Soho. With hair and make-up makeovers, cocktails and cupcakes available. Curl’s Best Friend, 26 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 5DE. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road or Piccadilly Circus. Open Tuesday to Saturday between 11am-11pm (Noir bar open from 7pm). To book appointments and reserve tables, call 020 3620 4747 or via the free Curls Best Friend By Benefit mobile app on Apple/Android. Click here for the Amazon link to the appTo find out more, visit Metro Girl’s post on the pop up here.

  • Now until 12 April : 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 12 April : Sherlock Holmes exhibition

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 : Wildlife Photographer Of The Year exhibition

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.

  • Now until further notice : 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.

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Cocktails, cupcakes and curls: Indulge yourself at Benefit’s new pop-up in Soho

Curl's Best Friend © Benefit Cosmetics

Get your curl on at the ‘Curl’s Best Friend’ beauty parlour pop-up
© Benefit Cosmetics

Being pampered, drinking cocktails and indulging your sweet tooth are among the favourite pastimes of many women. However, the prospect of all three at the same time usually seems a bit tricky. However, from this Friday and throughout March, ladies of London are in for a treat as Benefit Cosmetics are hosting a special pop-up offering the appealing trio. Curl’s Best Friend, a three-storey curl and cocktail bar is coming to Soho, where women can be as girlie as they want.

Customers can relive elegance of the 1950s beauty parlour across three chic and theatrical floors of pampering, glamour and fun. To mark the launch of Benefit’s new mascara Roller Lash, there will be the celebration of the curl, whether it be eyelashes or hair. Located on Greek Street, the ground floor will feature a bar, serving signature cocktails and cupcakes in vintage chairs, where you can get made up with the new Roller Lash.

© Benefit Cosmetics

Indulge your dark side at the Noir bar for cocktails
© Benefit Cosmetics

On the 1st floor, the beauty parlour and curl station will be offering curly faux-blows from the hair-stylists and makeovers from the Benefit’s make-up and brow experts offering upper or brow wax and tints.

Finally, when the sun goes down, the ladies can head up to the secret Noir Bar on the second floor. The sleek, dark venue, inspired by Benefit’s They’re Real mascara, will be open from 7pm each night and serving delicious, sultry cocktails.

  • Curl’s Best Friend runs from 27 February until end of March 2015 at 26 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 5DE. Nearest station: Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road or Piccadilly Circus. Open Tuesday to Saturday between 11am-11pm (Noir bar open from 7pm). To book appointments and reserve tables, call 020 3620 4747 or via the free Curls Best Friend By Benefit mobile app on Apple/Android. Click here for the Amazon link to the app.

(NB: For those outside of London, The Benefit’s ‘Curls Best Friend’ tour parlour will be going on the road from 17 April 2015).


To find out what else is on in London this month, click here.

To read about Benefit’s World Cup pop-up bar last summer, click here.

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