Guide to what’s on in London in September 2016

© Jesper Mattias

Check out the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival
© Jesper Mattias

Summer is nearing an end. However, September usually has that lovely balmy weather with significantly less tourists so London is more comfortable. Of course, the Rio Paralympics will be on 7-18 September so expect to see some Brazilian-themed fun on around town and opportunity to watch the games on the big screen.

For a guide to the capital’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 1 September : Canalside Comedy

Enjoy a free lunchtime comedy show by the canal in Paddington. 12.30-1.30pm. Free. Canalside Live Stage, Paddington Basin, Paddington, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 1 – 4 September : Chambord Chapter Eight Games

French liquor Chambord are hosting a four day pop-up on the Dalston Roof Park, featuring plenty of cocktails, food and flamingo croquet. Tickets: £7.50 (plus fee) for time slots. Dalston Roof Park, 18 Ashwin Street, Dalston, E8 3DL. Nearest station: Dalston Junction or Dalston Kingsland. For more information, visit Chambord’s Facebook page.

  • 1 – 11 September : Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival

Ten day festival featuring free screenings in the Peckham and Nunhead area at various locations, including The Montague Arms, The Nunhead Gardener, Glengall Wharf Garden and The Ivy House. Free. Nearest stations: Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road Peckham and Nunhead. For more information and listings, visit the PNFFF website.

  • 1 – 16 September : Portobello Film Festival

Two and half week festival returns to Notting Hill with screenings and events at the KPH, Pop Up Cinema in Acklam Road and the Muse Gallery. Free. Nearest stations: Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park. For more information, visit the Portobello Film Festival website.

  • 1 – 30 September : Totally Thames

Totally Thames is a month-long celebration of our city’s main waterway. Among the many activities taking place are the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (10-11 Sept), The Great River Race (3 Sept), walks, art installations, live music, theatre, dinners, river relay, film screenings and many more activities. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 2 – 4 September : Meatopia

Weekend of meat, drink, music and fire. Featuring chefs including Niklas Ekstedt, Jose Pizarro, Matti Hurttia, Luke Findlay, Tomos Parry, Andrew Clarke, Henry Harris, Jackson Boxer and Gina Hopkins. Music from Professor Green (DJ set), Andy Smith (Portishead), MC Zani and Bass 6, DJ Tofu and Temple Funk Collective. Tickets: £23.85-£34.45. Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For information and booking, visit the Meatopia website.

  • 4 September : Angel Canal Festival

One day festival in the City Road Lock, Basin and Regents Canal towpath. Featuring over 80 stalls, children’s fun fair, Punch & Judy, story-teller, boat trips and canoeing, art projects and galleries, live music and street theatre. 11am-5pm. Free admission. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.

  • Now until 4 September : Exhibitionism @ Saatchi Gallery

The Rolling Stones stage their first major exhibition to mark 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll. Open Thu-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun-Wed 10am-6pm. Tickets: £21. Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s Square, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4SQ. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Saatchi Gallery website.

  • Now until 4 September : Goosebumps Alive

This summer, another immersive theatre experience returns to the tunnels below Waterloo station. With two separate shows for adults or children inspired by the ’90s cult horror series. Take a journey through the dark, abandoned vaults and scare yourself silly as you try to escape the stuff of nightmares. Times vary. Tickets: Adults start from £32.50. Children from £15. The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit Goosebumps Alive website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the production.

  • Now until 4 September : The Gardening Society

The rooftop of John Lewis in Oxford Street has cafe, bar, yoga classes, great views and a rotating set of pop-up restaurants serving lunch and dinner. Open Mon-Wed: 12-8pm, Thurs-Sat: 12-10pm, Sun: 12-6pm. The Gardening Society (Enter via the 5th Floor), John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1A 1EX. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Bond Street. For more information, visit the John Lewis website.

  • 4 September – 30 October : Dinner At The Twits

An immersive and gruesome dining experience inspired by Roald Dahl’s classic The Twits. From the same team behind Alice’s Adventures Underground and food wizards Bompas & Parr. Minimum age 14+. Tickets: £80-£110 (feature a 90 minute show, arrival cocktail, banquet with wine, box of chocolates and hot beverage). The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit The Twits dinner website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the production.

  • Now until 6 September : Shakespeare In Ten Acts @ British Library

An exhibition to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare death, featuring how his plays were performed through history and how his reputation changed. Featuring the only surviving play-script in his hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, the earliest printed edition of Hamlet and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Tickets: Adults from £12. PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: Euston, King’s Cross or St Pancras. For booking, visit The British Library website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Visit Lambeth Palace during Open House London

  • 7 – 18 September : Paralympic Screenings @ Pop Fields

Watch the Rio Paralympics on the big screen in Pop Fields, the outdoor space next to Pop Brixton, where you can buy food and drink from local vendors. Free entry. Pop Fields, 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, SW9 8PQ. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Pop Brixton website.

  • 8 – 11 September : London Flower Show

Show gardens, flower & produce displays, live entertainment, art installations and growing competitions. 11am-7pm. Tickets start from £10. Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, TW7 4RB. Nearest station: Boston Manor or Syon Lane. For more information, visit the London Flower Show website.

  • 9 – 11 September : Kings Place Festival

Music and arts festival in Kings Cross, including classical, contemporary, comedy, folk, spoken word, jazz and family. Tickets start from £6.50, although some events are free. Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG. Nearest station: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Kings Place website.

  • 10 September : Cream Classics performed by Cream’s Philharmonic Orchestra

Iconic dance music brand’s classic tracks as you’ve never heard them before. Cream Classics Performed by Cream’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Doors: 7pm (Orchestra 9-11pm). Tickets start from £30. O2 Academy Brixton, 211 Stockwell Road, Brixton, SW9 9SL. Nearest station: Brixton. For tickets, visit TicketWeb.

  • 10 -11 September : Classic Boats Festival

As part of the Totally Thames celebration (see above), St Katharine Docks are hosting a weekend festival, featuring a display of 40 sail and power vessels, alongside a range of waterside attractions. 1-5pm. Free. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website. To find out more about St Katharine Docks, read Metro Girl’s post here.

  • 10 – 18 September : Colourscape Music Festival

The travelling festival combining contemporary music and art pitches up at Clapham Common for a week. Featuring colour and music workshops and weekend concerts. Tickets: Adults £5-£10, Children £2-£5. Clapham Common (near the Long Pond boating lake), SW4. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. For more information, visit the Colourscape website.

  • 11 September : Tour De Britain

The Tour Of Britain cycle race comes to London – the final stage of the eight day professional cycling race. It will start and finish @ Regent Street St James, taking in sights such as Aldwych, Somerset House, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben along the way. 2.30-4.30pm. Free for spectators. Many roads and bridges will be closed to traffic. Nearest stations: Westminster, Embankment, Temple, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Tour Of Britain website.

  • 11 September : Hackney One Carnival

East London has got its own carnival, with music, dance and costumes. Starts with carnival procession from Ridley Road at 2pm with the finale from 5-8pm. There will be a kids’ area and live stage at Gillett Square. 12-8pm. Free. Nearest stations: Hackney Central, Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction. For more information, visit the Hackney council website.

  • 13 – 17 September : LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair

Five day fair in Mayfair with the opportunity to buy fine art and antiques, including furniture, jewellery, carpets, tapestries, antiquities, clocks, ceramics and silver. Opening hours vary. Tickets: £20. Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1. Nearest tube: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the LAPADA London website.

  • 15 September : Crystal Maze @ Merchant Square

Take up the challenge in the pop-up crystal maze with a chance to complete challenges in order to enter the crystal dome.  It’s your childhood dreams come true, you can take part with your colleagues or friends. Sign up your team and choose your start time. The winning team will receive a £250 donation to a charity of your choice. 12-2pm. Free entry. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 17 September : Bermondsey Street Festival

Celebration of music, dance, arts, cuisine and creativity from the local area. Featuring fashion shows, dog shows, live music, stalls, food and a fete. 11am-7pm. Free. Bermondsey Square, Southwark, SE1 3UN. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Bermondsey Street Festival website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Get inspired at the London Design Festival

  • 17 September : Great Gorilla Run

Runners dress up as gorillas for this 8km run, which raises awareness of the dwindling population of these amazing creatures. Starts and finishes at Minster Court in the City of London. If you want to take part, you must register (£60, but includes your own gorilla costume to keep!). Free for spectators who want to watch the action along the way. Minster Court, Mincing Lane, City of London, EC3R 7DD. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For more information, visit the Great Gorilla Run website.

  • 17 – 24 September : Streatham Free Film Festival

The 2nd Streatham Free Film Festival will be taking places at venues across Streatham, including the White Lion Pub, The Hideaway, Deli Lama, The Railway, Streatham Tate Library among others. Including talks, screenings, competitions and sing-a-longs. Films include Saturday Night Fever, Victoria, Ida, Day Of The Wacko and Modern Times. For more information, visit the Free Film Festivals website.

  • 17 – 18 September : Open House London

This annual event is hugely popular and sees buildings that are not normally open to the public, throw open their doors for just two days. Some buildings are strictly pre-booking or ballot only and you need to apply in advance to gain entry. Be prepared to queue for the more popular buildings, such as City Hall and The Gherkin. Free. For more information, visit the Open House London website.

  • 17 – 18 September : Tequila & Mezcal Fest

A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Tickets start from £15 (early bird tickets include 10 Tequila or Mezcal samples). Boiler House, Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Stret. For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.

  • 17 – 18 September : FutureFest

Two day festival of innovation, featuring immersive experiences, compelling performances and radical speakers. Guests include Brian Eno, Will Self and Melody Hossaini. Tickets range from £50-£80. Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For more information and tickets, visit the FutureFest website.

  • 17 – 25 September : London Design Festival

Festival celebrating innovation and creativity at various events in the capital, including exhibitions, talks and the chance to buy. Among the 300 events on in town include a bio-responsive garden by Bompas & Parr, street galleries, pop-up stores and many more. To find out more, visit the Design Festival website.

  • 21 September – 2 October : Raindance Film Festival

UK’s largest independent film festival returns to the capital. Featuring over 100 movies and 150 short films screened in the Piccadilly Circus area. For more information and tickets, visit the Raindance website.

  • 22 – 25 September : London Fashion Weekend

London Fashion Weekend follows London Fashion Week, giving access to everyone who loves fashion (who has tickets!). Featuring fashion shows, makeovers and opportunities to shop at discount prices. Ticket packages start from £20. Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the London Fashion Weekend website.

  • 22 – 25 September : New Scientist Live

A festival of ideas and discovery from New Scientist magazine. Featuring four immersive zones: Brain & Body, Technology, Earth and Cosmos. Tickets: £25 (advance). ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Custom House. For more information, visit the New Scientist Live website.

  • 22 September – 2 October : Spiegeltent

A Spiegeltent is popping up in Canary Wharf for 10 days with a host of entertainment for adults and children, including comedy, live music, cabaret, burlesque, circus and more. Ticket prices range from free to £??? depending on event. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For most tickets, visit ????.

  • 23 September – 23 October : Merge Festival

The annual arts, music and performance festival returns to Bankside, drawing upon the area’s heritage and contemporary culture. For more information, visit the Merge Festival website.

  • Now until 24 September : David Bowie – Unseen Photographs

Exhibition of black and white photographs of the late, great David Bowie by Gerard Fearnley – brother of Derek Fearnley, who played bass for the music legend in 1966/67. Limited edition prints will also be available to purchase. Open Tues-Sat. Free entry. 12 Piccadilly Arcade, SW1Y 6NH. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Snap Galleries website.

  • 25 September : Japan Matsuri

A celebration of Japanese culture returns to Trafalgar Square. ‘Matsuri’ means festival or holiday so expect plenty of entertainment, food and drink and other chances to buy Japanese products. 10am-8pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, WC2N. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Japan Matsuri website.

  • 25 September : Festival Of Heat – London’s Chili Festival

Celebrate the mighty chill with a day of cooking demonstrations, growing and tasting workshops, chili and harvest stalls, food stalls, live folk music, DJs and spicy world foods. 11am-6pm. Tickets: £10. The Red Market, 288-299 Old Street, Shoreditch, EC1V 9LA. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the Festival Of Heat website.

  • 25 September : Pearly Kings & Queens’ Harvest Festival

Pearly Kings and Queens are an iconic part of London culture, who aren’t seen around the capital as much as they used to. Unsurprisingly, they are likely to be the main attraction at the festival at Guildhall, which also includes traditional entertainment, a parade and a Harvest Festival service. Starts at Guildhall Yard at 1pm, before the service at St-Mary-Le-Bow Church at 3pm. Nearest station (to Guildhall): St Paul’s or Bank. Find out more information on the Pearly Society website.

  • Now until 25 September : London Wonderground

The London Wonderground Festival returns to the Southbank for a fifth year – an entertainment extravaganza in Jubilee Gardens, near the foot of the London Eye and by the Southbank Centre. It includes cabaret, children’s show, comedy, burlesque and alfresco drinking. Open daily until 11pm. Free to get in, but tickets required for shows. Jubilee Gardens (off Belvedere Road), South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo, Embankment or Westminster. For more information, visit the Wonderground website.

  • 29 September – 2 October : London Oktoberfest

Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. (NB: this event is NOTHING to do with the one which was cancelled at the last minute last year). Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £5-£10. Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of dogs, Canary Wharf, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.

  • Now until 9 October : Clangers, Bagpuss & Co Exhibition

Exhibition of vintage children’s TV characters including Bagpuss, The Clangers, Pogles Wood, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. See the original puppets, sets and filming equipment. Open 10am-5.45pm daily. Free admission. Museum Of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PA. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information, visit the Victoria & Albert museum website.

  • Now until 9 October : Serpentine Pavilion and Summer Houses

Visit the temporary structure in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens. This year’s Pavilion is designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), while four architects will design four 25sqm summer houses. Free to visit, but also contains a Harrods pop-up café inside. Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA. Nearest stations: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Serpentine Gallery website. For Metro Girl’s post on this year’s Pavilion, click here.

  • Now until 31 October : London Bridge City Summer Festival

Replacing the More London Free Festival is an expanded festival featuring live music, theatre and dance performances, fitness classes, film and sports screenings and return of the London Riviera pop-up bar and restaurant. Free. Events taking place between Tower Bridge and London Bridge on the south bank of Thames. Nearest stations: Tower Hill or London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City Summer Festival website.


For a guide to London’s urban beaches this summer, click here

For a guide to London music festivals this summer, click here.

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Meet Roald Dahl’s The Twits in a fabulously foul, immersive dining experience

Dinner at The Twits © Addie Chinn

Dine with some of Roald Dahl’s most memorable characters at Dinner at The Twits
© Addie Chinn

This year marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl. And what better way to pay tribute to the legendary children’s author than by bringing two of his most memorable characters to life. Coming to London this autumn is gruesome, immersive theatrical dining experience Dinners At The Twits.

© Florence Fairweather

The Terrible Shrinks cocktail garnished with a scented helium balloon
© Florence Fairweather

Located deep in The Vaults below Waterloo train station, guests will be treated to 90 minutes of entertainment from the worst hosts ever. Les Enfants Terribles, the company behind last year’s immersive hit show Alice’s Adventures Underground, have teamed up with real-life Willy Wonkas, food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr to create a unique evening experience.

Upon arrival, diners will be greeted with a potent cocktail using ingredients from Mr Twit’s garden. Chose between The Terrible Shrinks (Roly Poly Bird berry and orange vodka topped with soda, garnished with a scented helium balloon) or The Twits Garden Spritz (wild nettle and thistle-infused Aperol, wild strawberry vermouth, prosecco and soda, garnished with nettles and thistles).

Guests will then take their seats with Mr and Mrs Twit at their chaotic table for a special menu conceived by Bompas & Parr. The banquet will include Wormery LIVE, Glowing Hug Tight Glue, Treasures of the Compost Heap, Bird Pie – Your Night of a Thousand Claws and Bloater Paste. To finish, you can chomp on Mr Twit’s Beardy Bar, special chocolates created specially for Dinner At The Twits. Chocolatiers Rococo Chocolates have conceived a wonderous mix of their own milk chocolate with cereal, banana, yoghurt, lapsang souchong tea and honey.

Meanwhile, you’ll be able to wash it down with half a bottle of bag-in-box wine from St. John Wines and Mr Twit’s Odious Ale – a bespoke brew by East London’s 40FT Brewery using the native yeast from Roald Dahl’s actual writing chair.

After the theatrical dinner, guests are invited to relax in the Muggle-Wumps’ Downside Up Cocktail Cavern in The Vaults for deliciously bizarre concoctions. The Cocktail Cavern will be open to all, so members of the public too scared to experience the gruesome meal can enjoy a flavour of The Twits’ world.

  • Dinner At The Twits runs from 4 September – 30 October 2016. The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Minimum age 14+. Tickets: £80-£110 (feature a 90 minute show, arrival cocktail, banquet with wine, box of chocolates and hot beverage). Timings: Tues-Sat evenings: 6pm, 7.15pm and 8.30pm, Sat matinees: 12pm, 1.15pm and 2.30pm . Sundays 12pm, 1.15pm, 2.30pm and 3.45pm. For booking, visit The Twits dinner website.
  • The Muggle-Wumps’ Downside Up Cocktail Cavern is open to the general public from 6pm-late Tues-Sat and has free entry.

For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.

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Expand your knowledge of wine at Humble Grape’s Wine Dinners

Humble Grape

Brush up on your wine knowledge while enjoying a foodie feast at Humble Grape’s Wine Dinners

Love wine? Fancy knowing more about it? Well one of London’s best independent wine merchants are creating exclusive evenings so you can get more intimate with the mighty grape. Every month, Humble Grape will be hosting a bespoke wine dinner in the private dining rooms of their Battersea and Fleet Street bars. Guests will have the chance to sample their many artisan wines and find out the stories behind them.

Humble Grape will kick off the series of dinners at the end of August by exploring the Chilean Millaman wines from the Andes Mountains. In September, they will travel east to South Africa as specialist winemaker Francois Haasbroek, of Blackwater Wines from Cape Town pays a visit. Then things get more adventurous in October with the Blind Challenge event which will give guests an opportunity to sample unknown and otherwise unavailable wines.

On 30th and 31st August, the Golden Ticket wine winner will feature seven newly imported Chilean wines from Millaman family vineyards. The wines include a Sauvignon Blanc aperitif, full-bodied Chardonnays, a Pinor Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and their Limited Reserve 2014 Malbec, among others. Accompanying the drinks will be sharing platters of charcuterie, cheese and vegetables.

A week later on 6th and 8th September, artisanal wine producer, Francois Haasbroek will be taking guests on a journey from grape to glass. His top five artisanal wines from the Cape Region will be sampled alongside a bespoke four-course meal with a South African twist.

Finally, on 25th and 26th October, the Blind Wine Tasting will test your senses to new heights. Explore a range of flavours and scents as hidden bottles are served. Guests will be guided thorough eight unique wines, including from the Blanc blend to Pinot Noir, in a multi-sensory trail. Accompanying the wine exploration will be a delicious four-course meal.

  • Humble Grape is located at 2 Battersea Rise, Battersea, SW11 1ED (Nearest station: Clapham Junction) and 1 St. Bride’s Passage, City of London, EC4Y 8EJ (Nearest station: City Thameslink or Blackfriars). Tickets from the Wine Dinners range from £50-£100pp. For more information, visit the Humble Grape website

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

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Tribute to the man who saved St Pancras station: The Sir John Betjeman statue

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The bronze statue of Sir John Betjeman on the upper level of St Pancras International station

Whatever your taste in architecture, few would deny the St Pancras station and hotel is one of London’s finest buildings. After decades of neglect, the station was given a huge facelift in the Noughties, with the former Midland Grand Hotel reborn as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Every year, over 28 million passengers pass through the Victorian Gothic architectural masterpiece.

However, while today we appreciate architecture from yesteryear, it wasn’t always the case. In fact, St Pancras nearly followed the fate of nearby Euston, whose famous Doric arch was demolished in 1961. One of the heritage campaigners who fought to save the Euston Arch was English poet, writer and broadcaster, Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984). Betjeman was a founding member of the Victorian Society, which was established in 1957 to fight to preserve 19th and early 20th century architecture, which had fallen out of favour at the time.

St Pancras station and the Midland Grand Hotel were built in 1868 to a design by acclaimed architect Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878). Originally a luxurious hotel, as technologies advanced, it lost its popularity and was closed in the 1930s. British Rail then moved into the former hotel – then known as St Pancras Chambers – and its bedrooms became offices. By the 1960s, British Rail made several attempts to close and demolish the hotel. However, Betjeman and his colleague Jane Hughes Fawcett (1921-2016) at the Victorian Society led a ferocious campaign to save the Victorian wonder.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The statue stands on the upper level as it appears Betjeman is gazing up at the famous Barlow train shed

At the time, Betjeman wrote: ‘What (the Londoner) sees in his mind’s eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset, and the great arc of Barlow’s train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street.’ Fortunately, Betjeman, Fawcett and the Victorian Society’s campaign was a success and St Pancras was saved. It was protected forever in 1967 when it was given Grade I listing.

When St Pancras International re-opened in 2007, the late Betjeman was commemorated with a bronze sculpture of his likeness. The 6ft 7in statue by artist Martin Jennings shows the former Poet Laureate holding on to his hat as he gazes up at the Barlow roof. Explaining the piece at the time, Jennings said: ‘The piece is an image of him as if he has walked into the station for the first time and gazes up at the roof. He’s got a bag with his books and his coat is billowing up behind him as if in the wind of a passing express train.’ Under his feet is a disc of Cumbrian slate with lines from his poem Cornish Cliffs: ‘And in the shadowless unclouded glare. Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where. A misty sea-line meets the wash of air.’

  • The Sir John Betjeman statue stands on the upper level, above the shopping arcade concourse at St Pancras International station, Euston Road, N1C 4QP. Nearest tube station: King’s Cross St Pancras.

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

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Balthazar review: Brunching French-American style at this upmarket brasserie

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Scrambled eggs and Cornish crab at Balthazar London

Balthazar is a long-standing New York institution, that finally came over the Pond in February 2013. I heard rave reviews from friends and colleagues that had visited, particularly about the brunch, so it had been on my wish list for some time. Finally, I had some relatives visiting so thought it would be a nice treat for go for brunch.

While weekend brunch is served until 4pm, you have to arrive a bit earlier on a weekday for their Le Petit Dejeuner menu, which is served until 11am. Our party of four arrived at 10am – slightly earlier than I would like for a rare weekday off, but not exactly up with the lark. I admit I’m not a morning person, so wasn’t particularly perky when we arrived. We initially entered the Balthazar Boulangerie – which smelt amazing by the way – before being pointed to the actual restaurant next door. Balthazar, like its New York original, is described as an all-day brasserie offering French bistro food. The venue has plenty of character, with high ceilings, luxurious red leather booths and vintage-style mirrors.

When it came to the breakfast menu, there are plenty of options both sweet and savoury. It took ages to commit to a dish because a) there were so many alluring choices and b) I was half-asleep pre-caffeine, but fortunately the staff were very patient. Despite the predominantly French menu, the Big Apple influence is also clear with the New York Pancakes and Hazelnut Waffles among the featured dishes. After much deliberation, I eventually settled for the Scrambled Eggs and Cornish Crab with toasted Balthazar sourdough toast (from their bakery next door) and crème fraiche. It was a great choice. The eggs were so light, fluffy and creamy, I would actually go as far to say the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had. The crab brought a new element to a familiar dish. Meanwhile, two of my party opted for the uber healthy Balthazar Breakfast Salad with quinoa, spinach, avocado, crispy bacon, roast Tabasco tomato and a poached egg (£11), which they said was really tasty.

To accompany our breakfast we opted for English Breakfast Tea and Fresh Orange Juice, which was good quality. The service was brilliant. We had numerous waiters attend to us during the meal and they were incredibly friendly and attentive. Overall, we all loved our breakfast – food, setting and service. I can’t wait to go back to try out the weekend brunch menu.

  • Balthazar, 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Holborn. For more information, visit the Balthazar website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Fancy some super food? Balthazar Breakfast Salad with quinoa, spinach, avocado, crispy bacon, roast Tabasco tomato and a poached egg


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

Balthazar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Serpentine summer houses: Explore four very different structures in Kensington Gardens

Spotlight Festival: Music, performances, shopping and more at the West End’s one day festival

© Matt Alexander/PA Wire

The Spotlight festival returns to Seven Dials, a one-day festival of comedy, music and arts.
© Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Many festivals can be rather tough on the wallet. However, this weekend, you can get your festival fever fix for free as Spotlight returns to Seven Dials. The iconic West End shopping and dining destination will be closed to traffic for one day for a festival of music, comedy and arts.

An open-air stage will feature a host of performances, including the cast of Motown The Musical and Treasure Island, comedy from Nathan Caton and magic from Britain’s youngest illusionist Ben Hart. The stage, hosted by George Lamb, will also feature music from Sample Answer, Old Dirty Brasstards and King Charles.

Among the activities on offer include pop-up tea garden, crazy golf, giant chess, giant Connect 4, Airstream photo booth, design your own flower crown and watch Margaux Carpentier’s live art mural unfold. The surrounding shops and restaurants will be taking part with discounts and special events, such as complimentary drinks, goodie bags, competitions and more.

  • The Spotlight Festival is on 13 August 2016. 12-7pm. Free entry. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. Register for free on the website for your free glass of Prosecco from the Prosecco truck on Earlham Street. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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

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Four Winters review: A magical new way to taste ice cream

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Choose your own flavour and topping as you watch your ice cream made to order with liquid nitrogen at Four Winters

It’s at this time of year that we tend to consume more ice cream than usual. With an increasing amount of ice cream and frozen yoghurt parlours opening up in the capital, it’s become easier to get your frozen dessert fix than usual.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Peanut Butter Cup – peanut butter ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate crisps

However, turning the sweet treat on its head is a new type of ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Four Winters, which originated in Jordan two years ago, opened their first UK parlour in London this spring. When I heard about it, I was intrigued. I’ve tried savoury food made with liquid nitrogen before and it certainly brings an element of theatre and excitement to eating.

Located on Gloucester Road, Four Winters is in a good location to cater for both locals and the tourists who flock to the area’s many hotels. There is plenty of seating inside and out should you wish to eat in. The chirpy staff are really friendly and explain the whole process before setting to work creating your magical dessert. Rather than peruse ice creams in their tubs at the counter, you are given the choice of a simple flavour or fusion flavour which will be flash frozen using liquid nitrogen to order in the open kitchen counter. The mist rising off the ice cream certainly brings a touch of magic to proceedings.

In addition to the science behind the creation, Four Winters is also unique because it offers seasonal flavours. They change their menu four times a year with flavours influenced by the four seasons. I opted for the Peanut Butter Cup – peanut butter ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate crisps served in a cup (cones are available). Upon the first spoonful, I could taste the difference from regular ice cream. It was smooth, creamy and the flavour was so much richer than usual.

Overall, I highly recommend Four Winters for ice cream fans. Children especially will love watching the liquid nitrogen freezing process. I’m looking forward to returning next season to check out the new flavours.

  • Four Winters, 103 Gloucester Road, SW7 4SZ. Nearest station: Gloucester Road. For more information, visit the Four Winters website.

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

Four winters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Where to watch the Rio Olympics 2016 on the big screen in London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Watching the Olympics on the big screens

The Rio De Janeiro Olympics kick off on 5 August 2016, with the Paralympics following on 7 September. Although many of us had the opportunity to watch the games in person in our beloved capital four years ago, this year it’s unlikely many of us will be jetting over to South America. So why not watch our Team GB athletes on the big screen so you can soak up some of the ‘lympic atmosphere. Check out the venues hosting pop-up screens around town, with plenty of food and drink on offer too to keep you fuelled as your watch our sportsmen and women go for gold.

  • 5 – 21 August : Boxpark

Watch the Olympics on the big screen while sitting on deckchairs. Plenty of food and drink establishments will be selling refreshments and snacks. Free. Boxpark, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6GY. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Boxpark website.

  • 5 – 21 August : The Big Screen @ Bluebird

Bluebird on the King’s Road will be hosting screenings of the Rio Olympic Games on a giant outdoor screen in their sunny courtyard. You can watch the action while sipping champagne or Pimms from the bar or eating from the café menu. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Big Screen @ Merchant Square

Watch the Olympics on the big screen in Paddington. Food and drink will be available, including Pimm’s. Open until 10pm nightly. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, Paddington, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Summer Screen @ Canary Wharf

Watch the Rio Olympics outdoors at Canary Wharf. Bars and restaurants nearby will be serving food and drink. Times vary. Free. Canada Square Park, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. Read the rest of this entry

Get your funk on this Bank Holiday at Madness’s House of Common Festival

© Lock N Load Events and Anglo Hannah Management

House Of Common, curated by Madness, takes over Clapham Common for one day only on Bank Holiday Monday
© Lock N Load Events and Anglo Hannah Management

Now we’re in August, it feels like the summer is rushing by the rate of knots. However, there’s still time for some festival fever. This August Bank Holiday Monday, chart legends Madness are hosting their very own music festival on Clapham Common.

The Baggy Trousers stars will be inviting a host of their musical pals to share the stage during the day long alfresco extravaganza. Acts include The Hot 8 Brass Band, Craig Charles, Terry Farley, Spring King, Toddla T, Rob Da Bank, and Reggae Roast. Also performing include Toots & The Maytals, David Rodigan, Norman Jay MBE, Congo Natty & The All Stars, Mike Skinner & Murkage present Tonga, Ms. Dynamite, Kiko Bun and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

A statement from Madness reads: ‘We are honoured and privileged that London has found us a place where for one day every year we can have our very own festival, we here by name that day House of Common. See you in Clapham Madheads… For the love of the common people.’

  • House of Common takes place on Monday 29 August 2016 (Bank Holiday) from 12pm until 10.30pm. Tickets: £47.81. Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. For more information and tickets, visit the Madness website.

For a guide to London’s music festivals this summer, click here.

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

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