Serpentine Pavilion 2019: Slope down to Junya Ishigami’s rock-y structure

Backyard Cinema – LA Nights review: Frozen cocktails and palm trees as you watch your favourite movie at the beach

See you at the beach! Backyard Cinema – LA Nights is running in Camden for a short time only

After returning from my holiday to Italy last month and being well and truly back in the daily grind of work and commuting, a little bit of beach action would be lovely right now. I was especially tempted by Backyard Cinema’s latest immersive film experience so went along to check it out this week. Having launched at the Camden Roundhouse last month, Backyard Cinema’s LA Nights is running for a limited time only.

Backyard Cinema LA Nights © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Bright colours and palm trees galore as you follow the trail to the beach

If you’re unaware, Backyard Cinema is a themed, pop-up cinema company which hosts immersive screenings at special locations around London. They have given film fans the chance to roam the Lost World, get lost in a Labyrinth, be roused by a live choir in a church and fly with the Snowman, among their many other creative themes. For five weeks only, the BC posse have transformed the roof of iconic north London venue Roundhouse into a slice of sunny Venice Beach.

Guests enter through the Roundhouse itself and climb the stairs to the roof. It isn’t long before you are taken on a trail, with lots of neon, weatherboard beach signs, fairy lights and a pair of Instagrammable angel wings to pose against. The screening room is ‘the beach’, with golden sand, palm trees and plenty of comfortable beanbags. The space is fortunately covered over so you don’t need to worry about the temperamental British summer.

Backyard Cinema LA Nights © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A Passion Fruit Martini was the perfect beachy drink

After selecting our seats, my sister and I headed straight to the bar to sort out our refreshments. A special drinks menu has been curated to complement the theme, with adults-only Slush Puppie cocktails, tropical cocktails and its own beer created by the Gipsy Hill Brewing Company. We were particularly drawn to the palm tree glasses so started with some Passion Fruit Martini, which were very fruity, but a little boozy. After collecting our drinks and snacks (there is a vegan ice cream stand, which proved popular), we were suitably put in the retro mood with lots of classic Californian and retro tracks keeping us entertained before the movie kicked off. Read the rest of this entry

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams review: Go crazy for couture at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Exploring eight decades of Dior and the man himself at this stylish exhibition.

Christian Dior Couture © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Early Dior designs, including the red Ulysse coat (right) from 1952

Without a doubt, Christian Dior is one of the most important designers in women’s fashion. Launching his label in 1947, he transformed ladieswear with the ‘New Look’, among many more stunning designs. I’ve visited several fashion exhibitions in the past, but my ultimate design house to see was Christian Dior. As you may have read, the tickets were a huge hit and sold out immediately, prompting the V&A to extend opening hours. A friend and I managed to get tickets recently to a late Sunday evening opening and ending up spending about three and a half hours in fashion heaven.

The exhibition not only explores the story of the man himself and his path to establishing the worldwide brand, but also follows his successors, including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and the current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. While there is something very ‘Dior’ throughout the company’s fashions, each designer has their own signature look they bring to their label.

The entrance to the exhibition was Parisian-esque with the classic Bar Suit given centre stage

A Gianfranco Ferre Allyson Ensemble from 1990

Designer of Dreams starts with the French designer’s early life, growing up in a wealthy family and residing in Paris and Normandy. A display shows artefacts from the young Dior’s youth and creative beginnings, from running an art gallery to becoming an apprentice to fashion designer Robert Piguet. With Europe recovering from World War II, women were tired and weary of wartime fashion so were ripe for Dior’s ‘New Look’. Establishing his eponoymous fashion label in 1946, he stood out for giving women shape and silhouettes – a contrast to the boxy, plain designs which were synonymous at the time. One of the first designs you see in the exhibition is the iconic ‘New Look’: the Bar Suit and Hat, a silk, wool and taffeta ensemble of a structured jacket and full skirt. Being a fan of Netflix’s The Crown and its fashions, it was great to see the silk, couture gown designed for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday portrait in 1951.

The initial rooms of Designer of Dreams were focused on Dior’s realm at his label, with gorgeous dress upon gorgeous dress. The lighting and layout was very effective at highlighting the detail and complementing the aesthetic of the fashions. Following the designer’s death at just 52 in 1957, his young protégée Yves Saint Laurent was appointed artistic director at the tender age of 21. While trying to keep that signature Dior look, YSL embraced a more softer and wearable style. However, YSL didn’t stay long at Dior and moved on in 1960 after just six collections. As a result, there is an understandably small amount of YSL creations in the exhibition. Read the rest of this entry

Take a ‘wade’ on the wild side with Creekside Discovery Centre’s low tide walk

Explore the history and nature of Deptford Creek with the Creekside Center

With the current pace of building in the capital and developers looking to seize every last piece of land to build on, London’s wildlife is being squeezed into increasingly smaller environments. As banks of rivers and streams are absorbed into manmade land and structures, many animals and birds are running out of space to build nests, or even shelter during bad weather. While we need more homes in this overcrowded capital, it’s trying to balance fulfilling demand while protecting the wildlife’s habitats that is a real challenge.

Recently I paid a visit to the Creekside Discovery Center in Deptford, south-east London to join one of their Low Tide Walks. My boyfriend and I were up bright and early on a Sunday (well, by my standards early for a Sunday!) morning to get suited up for our visit to Deptford Creek. We were told to wear old clothes and a hat, with the CDC providing thigh-high waders and a walking stick. The Center itself is a one-storey educational space in a garden full of beautiful, coloured wildflowers. In fact there are over 130 different wildflower species across the site. It was rather amusing to see various memorabilia retrieved from the Creek dotted around like a modern art display, such as shopping trolleys, rollerskates and typewriters. I’m always baffled why someone would find enjoyment by throwing a trolley into a river or creek… perhaps they should get an actual hobby?!

The old lifting bridge, built in the 1830s

The name Deptford comes from ‘deep ford’, with the Creek forming the north end of the River Ravensbourne before it flows into the Thames. We started our two-hour expedition being led down to the Creek by a conservationist Nick. We entered the water – and mud – near the historic lifting bridge. It was originally built in the 1830s for the London and Greenwich Railway, which connected London Bridge with Greenwich, which was incredibly busy at the time due to its naval and royal connections. The railway was the first steam service in the capital and also the first entirely elevated railway. When it came to crossing the Creek, the railway owners realised it was problematic. They couldn’t build a regular fixed crossing as that would have blocked the many ships passing up and down the Creek. Civil engineer George Thomas Landmann (1779-1854) came up with the idea of a lifting bridge, which would allow trains to pass over while in situ, but could be lifted up for passing barges via pulleys, chains and sliding rods with eight men required to operate it. The current bridge you can see today, is a younger replacement, with several bridges replacing the original 1830s one. At time of writing, it’s been out of action for decades and is a listed structure. Read the rest of this entry

Ready to throw? Check out the EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling live experience in London

© EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling

EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling is a feminist-punk-rock wrestling live experience

Women’s sports are rightly getting the spotlight they deserve right now after decades of hiding in the shadows of their male counterparts. With the hit Netflix show Glow fuelling the popularity of women’s wrestling, there’s never been a better time to hit the ring and cheer on the ladies.

EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling is a feminist and fabulous, punk-rock wrestling live experience. EVE was founded by married couple and activists Emily and Dann Read, who have been fighting for acceptable of women in the professional wrestling industry since 2006 and create events showcasing the talents of female wrestlers.

Already this summer has seen some of EVE’s biggest shows to date, including Wrestle Queendom II – the largest ever women’s wrestling event in Europe. On 10 August 2019, the home of the EVE Academy in Bethnal Green will host Fights and False Lashes. Expect an empowering and entertaining show of fight and fun. Following in the autumn will be the three-day 2019 SHE-1 Series in November, with Wrestle Queendom kicking off the new year in January 2020,

Meanwhile, if you fancy being the next Ronda Rousey or Nikki Bella, you can enrol at the EVE Academy’s classes. You will be taught in the art of callisthenics, core strengthening, stretches and aerobic exercises and tune-chanting by two-time EVE champion and fitness instructor Rhia O’Reilly and Lucha Libre head coach and pro-wrestler Greg Burridge.

  • EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling Present: Fights and False Lashes takes place on 10 August 2019. 7.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets: £25 + booking fee. Over 18s only. At Resistance Gallery, 265 Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, E2 9RF. Nearest station: Bethnal Green or Cambridge Heath. For more information and tickets, visit EVEWrestling.com.
  • Further events: 9-11 November 2019: EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling Present: THE 2019 SHE-1 SERIES @ Resistance Gallery and 11 January 2020: EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling Present: Wrestle Queendom @ York Hall, Bethnal Green.

For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in August 2019

Find out what events, festivals and exhibitions are on in the capital this summer.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Summer is here! The schools are out, the tourists are in town and (hopefully) the weather is glorious. As you would expect, there’s more events and festivals than ever taking place in the great outdoors. If you’re a parent or grandparent looking to entertain the kids during the school holidays, there’s plenty going on – with many events even free! There’s also plenty on around the August Bank Holiday, including the famous Notting Hill Carnival.

Here’s a round-up of the best events on in the London this August.

For a guide to London’s outdoor and pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 3 August : International Scottish Gin Day @ Mr Fogg’s

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour will be serving a special cocktail menu celebrating Scottish gin for one-day only. Expect concoctions such as a Scots Seaside Martini, Scottish Spice and a Hendricks in the Highlands. 1pm-12am. 1 New Row, Covent Garden, WC2N 4EA. Nearest station: Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Mr Fogg’s website.

  • 3 – 4 August : London Halal Food Festival

The UK’s only food festival dedicated to Halal. Featuring over 150 food & drink stalls, cookery theatre, The Souq market, kids zone, Halal Eat Offs, chill out lounge, live music and more. N.B. All vendors will be cash only and there are no cash machines are venue. Tickets: Adults £10-£30, Under 10s free. Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For tickets, visit the London Halal Food Festival website.

  • 3 – 4 August : Prudential RideLondon

The annual cycling festival returns to London. Eight miles of road in central London will be closed to cars so people can experience cycling on safe and clear roads. Anyone is welcome to take part in the FreeCycle on Saturday 3, while more serious cyclists will be passing through London on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday 4. Other events for spectators include the Brompton World Championship and RideLondon Classique. To register, visit the Ride London website.

  • 3 – 11 August : Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown Festival

This year’s Meltdown Festival is curated by Nile Rodgers. Acts include Jungle, Johnny Marr, Kero Kero Bonito, Thundercat, Yael Naim, CHIC, anais, Durand Jones & The Indications, and more. Ticket prices vary. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 4 August : Island Love Brunch @ Skylight

Celebrate the end of another red hot summer with an alfresco brunch with views of the city. Expect food and drink from Skylight, Yiro and Flipside along with summer club anthem hits, live performances and games inspired by the hit show Love Island. Over 18s only. 12pm-3pm. Tickets: £10-£45. Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For tickets, visit DesignMyNight.

  • 6 August : Taste of Puglia Supper Club

The second of Bottles wine bar ‘Taste of…’ supper club, this month exploring the Italian region of Puglia. Guests can enjoy three courses alongside wine tastings from Puglia. 7.30pm-9.30pm. Tickets: £35. Bottles, 67 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1 6AA. Neatest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit DesignMyNight.

  • 6 – 10 August : Great British Beer Festival

Over 1,000 of British and international real ales, ciders, perries and beers with be available to try, along with the new wine and gin bar. Also including live entertainment and street food. Tickets £9-£11 (advance), £14 (on the door). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.

  • 7 – 11 August : Mr Black Espresso Martini Fest

Fans of the Espresso Martini will love this three-day festival, from Drink Up London (London Cocktail Week, London Beer Week, London Wine Week). Over 50 bars across London will be offering £6 Espresso Martinis and other Mr Black cocktails. Wristbands: £10 (includes access to £6 cocktails, entry to Mr Black’s Church of Coffee pop-up (@ Truman Brewery) and access to 1,000 free Espresso Martinis on 16 Aug). For more information, visit the DrinkUpLondon website.

  • 7 – 30 August : Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden

Pop-up cocktail garden in leafy Clerkwenwell, featuring refreshing cocktails and workshops in a secret garden. Opening hours: Wed-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm and Bank Holiday Sunday 12pm-11pm. Nearest station: Farringdon (5 min walk). For the location, visit the Secret Spritz Garden website. See Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.

  • 7 August – 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre

Watch a live outdoor performance of The Sea Queen or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by the Thames. Performances from Wed-Sat at 6pm, Sun at 4pm. Free entry. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, London Bridge, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

  • Now until 7 August : Banquet of Hoshena

Dinner Time Story brings their new immersive dining experience to London. Diners will be treated to a projector-lead dining concept using 3D visual technology, image mapping and experiential props. Tickets: £85/£95/£110. Westfield, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: White City. Pre-booking requests: info@dinnertimestory.com or tel: 07510 204 003. Visit Banquet of Hoshena on Instagram. See Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.

  • 9 – 11 August : London Craft Beer Festival

Over 100 breweries from London, the UK, Europe and USA will be showing off 100s of beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs from Friendly Fires, Zombie Disco Squad, Kaiser Chiefs, Jack Stevens, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) and more. Times vary. Tickets: £40-£79.96 (includes all your beer, tasting glass and programme. Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.

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Anniversary of Seven Dials’ Sundial Pillar marked in new artwork

Rene Gonzalez Seven Dials art © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages by Rene Gonzalez in Seven Dials

A new piece of art is on show in Seven Dials to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the district’s famous sundial pillar. ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’ by Rene Gonzalez is the latest installation for the Seven Dials’ The Artist’s Artist Project and was unveiled in May 2019.

The Artist’s Artist project features the showcased artist nominating another for a new installation. Iona Rowland nominated Gonzalez and two other artists following the display of her Agatha Christie piece earlier this year. A panel of Shaftesbury representatives and Seven Dials stakeholders then select the winning artwork. Following display, the piece will be donated to charity.

Gonzalez’s art not only pays tribute to the sundial, but also the rich history of the area. Politician and project manager Thomas Neale (1641-1699) – who designed the Seven Dials estate – is featured in the image, alongside Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who unveiled the reconstruction of the sundial monument for The Seven Dials Trust in 1989.

  • ‘At the Entrance of Seven Obscure Passages’ is on show until September 2019 at the junction of Shorts Gardens and Neal Street, WC2. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in July, click here.

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Summer spritzes in a hidden oasis at the Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden

The Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden will be popping up in Farringdon this August

Popping up in bustling Farringdon this August will be a secret hideaway cocktail haven. Hidden from passers-by behind ivy-covered walls will be the Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden.

The city oasis will be a destination for after-work drinks and weekend cocktails during the warm August evenings. Step inside a garden full of plants, medicinal herbs and a 200-year-old olive tree to shade under. Guests can sneak through the privet hedge to find the hidden bar, before enjoying a drink on the jasmine-trailed swing seat and gazing at a lemon-filled fountain. As the sun sets, garlands of fairy lights with light up the space, which will be filled with the sounds of live jazz and acoustic music.

Botanical drink company Fentimans have teamed up with mixology expert Dino Koletsas (The Langham, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Callooh Callay) to create a special spritz menu. Visitors can enjoy a redefined series of spritzes featuring Fentimans tonic waters and top British ingredients. The full range of Fentimans tonics (from Valencian Orange to Pink Rhubarb) will be mixed with homemade herbal infusions and liqueurs, fresh fruit and aperitifs. Guests will be able to garnish their own spritzes with rosemary, sage and lavender from the garden. Throughout the three-week pop-up, the Spritz Garden will also host masterclasses, such as floristry, flower pressing, Limoncello making and collages.

  • The Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden, Clerkwenwell. Nearest station: Farringdon (5 min walk). Open from 7 – 30 August 2019. Opening hours Wed-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm and Bank Holiday Sunday 12pm-11pm. For more information and the location, visit the Secret Spritz Garden website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.

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A look at London’s post boxes from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II

Victorian post box © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A Victorian post box in Kensington

The red post box is an iconic piece of British heritage, having been a familiar piece of the streets for nearly 180 years. Despite the public’s fondness of the post box, it isn’t in such demand as it used to be due to the rapidly changing world. The rise of electronic communication and the introduction of rival delivery companies to Royal Mail means the post box isn’t used so widespread as in previous years. A Royal Mail post box is said stand half a mile from over 98% of the UK population. There are around 155,500 post boxes across the UK, with a substantial portion of these situated in London.

Edward VII era post box in Kensington

Of the thousands of post boxes in the capital, some of them are listed. In 2002, the Royal Mail entered into agreements with Historic England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively to retain and conserve all existing post boxes.

When it comes to post boxes, there are two main factors  which distinguish them from each other – their design and the royal cypher. The roadside post box has existed since the reign of Queen Victoria, with every subsequent monarch’s cypher being immortalised on the front. By looking at the cypher, you can date the age of your nearest post box, although admittedly the ballpark for boxes erected during the reigns of Victoria and our current monarch Elizabeth II are rather large! Of course, the shortest reign in recent memory is that of King Edward VIII. The eldest son of King George V only reigned for 326 days, before he abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Despite his short time as head of state, there are 171 boxes with his cypher, some of which are in London.

Ciphers of British monarchs

VR – Queen Victoria : 1837-1901
ER VII – King Edward VII : 1901-1910
GR – King George V : 1910-1936
ER VIII – King Edward VIII : Jan-Dec 1936
GR VI – King George VI : 1936-1952
EIIR – Queen Elizabeth II : 1952-present.

Walking around London today, a red post box is a frequent piece of street furniture. While the majority are round or oval, there are also hexagonal, wall boxes and other unusual sizes. Most free-standing post boxes feature a cap, which protects rainwater from entering the box and wetting the mail.

Prior to postal reform in 1840, mail was an expensive form of communication. The Uniform Penny Post was introduced, meaning the sender pre-paid the postal costs, rather than the recipient. The same year, the Penny Black adhesive stamp was released. It wasn’t until 12 years later, the first roadside Post Office pillar box was erected in St Helier, Jersey as a trial. In 1853, the first roadside pillar box was established in the mainland United Kingdom in Carlisle. In 1856, Richard Redgrave (1804-1888) from the Department of Science and Art came up with an ornate pillar box design to be used in London and other cities. Today, you can see one of Redgrave’s designs – which were bronze – at the Victoria & Albert Museum. From 1857, some post boxes were built into existing walls. Read the rest of this entry

Improve your skills and help save the planet with the Small Change Big Difference cookery classes


Want to do your bit to help the planet? Feel like your cooking skills could do with some improvement? There’s an opportunity to do both at some new sustainable cooking classes popping up across London… and the best part – they’re free!

Run by the Small Change, Big Difference campaign, a new series of 30 classes are offering Londoners the chance to expand their cooking skills. Along with whipping up some gastro delights, the classes will also aim to reduce the estimated 910,000 tonnes of food wasted by the capital’s residents every year. You can find inspiration on how to create quick and easy recipes using whatever is lingering in your fridge or cupboards. Expert chefs will showcase their passion for food and teach you how you can improve your health and protect the planet by choosing the right ingredients.

The first workshops have launched already with weekly ‘Waste-FREE Lunch’ every Thursdays (in July) at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough. Attendees can learn how to make a healthy, sustainable packed lunch – before eating it! – in a lunchtime session. There will also be classes on Wednesday evenings through the month at venues in Brixton, Stoke Newington, Battersea and Oxford Circus.

The remaining July workshops include:

Sunday 21 July : Waste-FREE cookery class at Newburgh Street, Soho. (10.30am-11.15am)

Wednesday 24 July : Cookery School at Little Portland Street, Oxford Circus (6.30pm-9pm)

Thursday 25 July : ‘Waste-FREE lunch’ at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle (12.45pm-1.40pm).

You book a space on one of the classes through a Eventbrite, which will require a fully-refundable £10 deposit to guarantee your spot. The classes are running from now until October 2019.

  • Small Change, Big Difference cookery workshops are taking place from now until October 2019 on selected dates. Places are free, but a £10 returnable deposit is required to secure your place (You will be refunded after attending the class, however this is not refunded in the event of a no-show, with the money donated to charity). Book your place (up to 2 weeks in advance) via Eventbrite or find more information on the Small Change, Big Difference website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.

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