‘Jungle Juice’ cocktails, abandoned ruins and super comfy seating at Backyard Cinema: The Lost World
As one of London’s roaming film clubs, Backyard Cinema gives movie fans the chance to watch their favourite films in more comfortable surroundings than your typical Odeon or Vue. I’ve previously checked out BC’s outdoor summer screenings at Camden Market and, earlier this year, watched Romeo + Juliet accompanied by a live choir in a church. The last Backyard event I attended – those star-crossed lovers – brought two different elements to one of my favourite films so when I heard about the company’s latest experience, I had high hopes.
Backyard Cinema have created a Lost World in a corner of the capital’s latest foodie paradise Mercado Metropolitano. The premise is screenings of your favourite adventure movies complemented by a suitably atmospheric setting. After lunch at one of the Mercado’s Italian food stands, it didn’t take long for us to find the entrance to the Lost World. A friendly staff member, dressed in a khaki safari ensemble, greeted us outside a rather diminutive entrance and explained the ‘perils’ of our journey to our seats. We then crouched down and made our way through the ‘abandoned jungle’, with low-lighting, eerie calls and nature sound effects putting you in the frame of mind. Finally, I tentatively jumped into the foam pit (the lighting made me somewhat unsure of judging how deep I would plunge), but found there was plenty of the soft stuff to cushion my landing as I emerged into the cinema.
The screening room was full of comfortable bean bag chairs against a backdrop of what I would describe as ‘Indiana Jones chic’ interiors and continuing sound effects. Before taking our bags, we headed to the bar and embraced the theme by ordering the cocktails, ‘Jungle Juice’ and ‘Fire Monkey’. We went in blind as had no idea what was in them, but they were fruity, suitably alcoholic and tasted good. We accompanied our sweet drinks with even more sugar – popcorn and sweets – as we were clearly having the afternoon off being healthy (well, it is the cinema!).
Finally, the movie. On this occasion, we were here to see Finding Dory – the recent sequel to Finding Nemo. Backyard are screening a lot of classic adventure films such as Goonies and Jurassic Park, but also a few new ones too. One of the first things which struck me was that no one was ruining my shot of the screen. I often find heads in the way, but the spaced out bean bags meant this wasn’t a problem. I usually get pretty uncomfortable in traditional cinema seating, but settled back in my bean bag and was incredibly cosy and settled. The film itself, was exactly what I hoped it would be and I really enjoyed it.
Overall, we had a good few hours in the Lost World. The quirky entrance and the décor of the screening room was a fun way to start proceedings. The staff were, as ever, friendly and helpful. I would particularly recommend the Lost World to families as they have screenings during the day on weekends. The 1hr 45 minute film whizzed by in the comfort of our bean bags… which I’m not considering buying for my own home actually.
- Backyard Cinema: Lost World, Mercado Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets start from £16.50. The Lost World runs until 11 November 2016. For booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
As someone who doesn’t like to follow the crowd, I’m a huge fan of speakeasies. I love the idea of venturing into a secret bar or restaurant that only a few know about. Barts in Sloane Avenue has been on my to-do list for quite some time and this week, I finally paid a visit to attend the launch of the venue’s new Comic Book menu.
Barts is located in Chelsea Cloisters – a 1930s apartment block on Sloane Avenue. You’ll have to hunt a bit to find it – there’s no neon street sign guiding you to your destination. We eventually found the hidden door and rang the bell, prompting a tiny letterbox-sized window to open revealing a pair of eyes to check if you’re not the fuzz. Once we entered, we were greeted by an intimate, quirky space featuring cosy red and wood interiors. Vintage Bric-à-brac, such as taxidermy, lampshades and tennis racquets, adorned the walls.
The venue originally opened in 2009 and describes itself as ‘London’s worst kept secret’. However, the team behind Barts have decided to shake thing up and have launched a new Comic Book menu. The new drinks listings come in the form of, you guessed it, a comic book, which tells the story of how Chicago gangster Uncle Barts crossed the Pond and started his bootlegging business in Chelsea’s mean streets. Aside from the obvious of being a place to peruse the alcoholic concoctions on offer, the menu also gives you something to read (handy when your friend or date is running late!) and provides an entertaining back story to some of the innovative cocktails. The menu is separated into eight chapters (e.g. ‘The Real McCoys’ and ‘Most Wanted’), with each having a distinct theme and with boozy mixes complementing Uncle Bart’s adventures animated on the opposing pages.
After spending rather longer than we expected perusing the extensive menu, we settled on the Charleston Crumble (Grey Goose vodka, cranberry juice, rhubarb purée and vanilla syrup) and the Jazz Singer (Russian Standard Original vodka, passion fruit purée and vanilla syrup). On reflection, they had very similar ingredients, but tasted rather different. Mine was the Charleston, which tasted like a dessert and I absolutely loved it. When I tried a bit of my friend’s Jazz Singer, it was more fruitier. Next up, my companion wanted something a bit more dramatic – the intriguingly named Kidnap & Handsome. When the drink arrived at our table, it made quite the entrance. A short tumbler was oozing smoke under a bell jar, with the gangster theme continuing with dollar bills, a lipstick-smudged playing card and chocolate truffle. The drink itself was a mix of sweet and bitterness – Sauvelle vodka, oak-infused vanilla syrup and oak bitters. My choice, The Alchemist (Belvedere vodka, elderflower cordial, mint, gomme syrup and cloudy apple juice) was decidedly less theatrical in a simple coupe glass, but refreshing and subtly sweet.
Drinks aside, Barts also plays host to regular parties and live entertainment. During the night, we were entertained by the fabulous, feel-good vocals of the Haywood Sisters, who really fitted into the retro vibe. Barts regularly have live music on the bill so it’s worth checking out their website.
Overall, we had a great evening – the service, venue and drinks were all exceptional. I loved the intimate feel of the bar, while the staff were friendly and clearly knew their stuff when it came to mixology. Barts would be a great venue to impress a date or celebrate a birthday. I’m off to join Uncle Barts’ mob!
- Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW. Nearest stations: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Barts website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
Experience Halloween with a difference this spooky season as the Dark Circus Party returns to London. There will be thrills and spills galore at the Day Of The Dead special on Saturday 29 October 2016.
Guests will dress the part as they arrive at an abandoned circus and become drawn into the dark shadows of the bazaar. Follow the skeletal faces through a carnival of horrors as aerialists perform above your head. Finally, revellers will arrive at the haunted big top, where they will be wowed by circus entertainment with a Day Of The Dead theme. There will be aerial acts and trapeze artists alongside traditional Mexican rituals and a Mariachi-lead masked death procession.
Guests will be getting suitably lubricated for the evening’s revelry at El Jimador Cantina with tequila cocktails served in sugar skulls. Early arrivees will have the option to get the bash started before everyone else at a pre-party tequila masterclass to learn all about the Mexican tipple.
Alongside the circus entertainment and drinking, there will also be live music, an authentic Mexican boxing ring and, for those who dare step inside, a painted wagon for you to get a skeletal makeover.
Dress code for the evening will be Sideshow Freaks, Queens of the Flying Trapeze, Tragic Clowns, Snake Charmers, Lion Tamers, Ring Masters, Strong Men, Corpse Brides and traditional painted skeletal faces.
- Dark Circus Party: Day Of The Dead special takes place on Saturday 29 October 2016. 9pm until late. Tickets: £30. The Grand Hall St Pancras, Euston Road, WC1H 9AU. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras or Euston. For tickets, visit the Dark Circus party website or call 020 7724 1617.
For Metro Girl’s guide to what else is on in London this Halloween, click here.
Without a doubt, Strawberry Hill is one of the most unique houses in the capital. I was first introduced to it when I saw an Instagram photo of the building’s stunning Gallery and wanted to find out more. Built as a private home, it stands in Twickenham, south-west London, a short walk from the Thames and is now open to the public as a museum.
Strawberry Hill was built in stages from 1749 to 1776 as a home for Horace Walpole (1717-1797), a politician and the son of the first British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745). Horace was under pressure to find himself a country seat (18th century Twickenham was countryside) and found one of the last sites available in the very fashionable area. The original house on the site was called Chopp’d Straw Hall, which Horace wasn’t too impressed with and renamed his new build Strawberry Hill after finding the name on an old lease.
Work on the house started in 1749 with Horace conceiving a vision of a Gothic castle. His inspiration from Medieval architecture predated the Victorian architectural fashion for Gothic revival many decades later. Horace and his team of amateur architectures looked at the Henry VII chapel and tombs at Westminster Abbey, as well as tombs from Canterbury Cathedral for ideas. The resulting building looks like a cross between castles and Gothic cathedrals. The first stage of construction was complete by 1753, with a second stage of alterations taking place in 1760, a third in 1772, with work finally being completed in 1776, costing £20,720 – a rather hefty sum in the 18th century. Read the rest of this entry
The onset of autumn can be a bit depressing for many of us as the nights get darker and the temperatures get colder. So perhaps that’s why so many of us are getting more excited about Halloween than we used to – a bit of fun to lift us out of our pre-winter blues. Now it’s not only the Americans that go crazy for the annual scarefest with a host of daytime and nighttime events for both children and adult on in London. As it coincides with half-term, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun for kids throughout the week in the lead up to the 31 October. Meanwhile, for party animals, there’s plenty of late-night revelry, or for a calmer alternative, there’s special meals and film screenings.
For a guide to what non-Halloween activities and festivals are on in London in October, click here.
- 1 – 31 October : The Witch Hunter at the London Dungeon
The London Dungeon are hosting a Halloween twist on their usual attractions, as you join Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins on his 17th century witch hunt. Tickets start from children £17.50, adults from £21.50. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 22 – 30 October : Boo At The Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo including Halloween-themed activities, pumpkin carving, animal demonstrations and crafts. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.25, Child £17.60. London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 22 – 31 October : A Slice of Pumpkin Eye at the London Eye
Special Halloween experiences for families with a fun activity pack. Tickets: Children from £16.95, Adults from £21.20. London Eye, near Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Eye website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Eye, click here.
- 22 – 31 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: £11.25 adults, £4.95 children. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam.
- 24 – 28 October : Half Term Horrors @ Eltham Palace
Creepy family fun at the Medieval and Art Deco Eltham Palace. Including costume competitions and pumpkin carving. Book a time slot at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: Adults £13.60, Children £8.10. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit English Heritage website. For Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace, click here.
- 24 – 28 October : She Tells Sea Tales
Step on-board the Cutty Sark to be entertained with artists, musicians and storytellers. 11am-3.45pm. Tickets: Adults £12.15, Children £6.30. Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9HT. Nearest stations: Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the Royal Museums Greenwich website.
- 24 – 29 October : Things That Go Splash In The Night @ Maritime Museum
Children can make their own shipwrecked musical instruments and listen to scary tales and watch puppet shows. Free admission. Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, SE10 9NF. Nearest stations: Cutty Sark (DLR), Maze Hill or Greenwich. For more information and booking, visit the Royal Museums Greenwich website.
- 25 October : Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and ghastly games. 4-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website. Read the rest of this entry
Aquum has been one of Clapham’s late-night staples since it opened back in 2007. However, with nightlife appetites evolving in recent years and becoming more food orientated, it’s time to roll with the changes. Last week, I was invited to the re-launch of the Clapham High Street venue, which has added to new dining element to its drinking and dancing hotspot.
Aquum has had a makeover in both its design and its format, with the addition of a restaurant making it a more versatile day-to-night destination. Taking over the kitchen is Head Chef Anastasios Tologlou (previously at Medlar, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Coloniales Huerta in Valencia), who has conceived a menu inspired by his Greek roots and his experience in some of the world’s top restaurants. The new menu features a variety of light dishes, sharing plates and mains. During the evening, we tried some delicious tasters, such as the Razor Clam and Black Eyed Bean Salad and the particularly fun Halloumi Martini – described as a ‘modern twist on the classic Cypriot dish’, featuring grilled Halloumi cheese soaked in a herb essence.
While Aquum hopes to attract a wider audience for its restaurant, it will continue to stay open late on weekends for DJs taking to the decks. The venue’s mixologists have created a new menu, full of original cocktails and twists on some old classics. We started with some Kir Noirs (Pinot Noir syrup, cherry syrup and Mercier Champagne), which were refreshing and subtly sweet. Next up, was the very girlie-named Twinkle, which appealed to me because of its elderflower ingredient – which has been having a resurgence in popularity over the last couple of years and is one of my favourite flavours. Served in a martini glass, the combination of Elderflower cordial, Eristoff vodka and Mercier Champagne managed to taste both strong and light at the same time. A few of those and you’d be well on your way to a good night out!
Aside from the new eating dimension, the venue has also had a design makeover. Aquum is now spread across four levels, with a second bar and private dining/events space available. The white leather seating has been stripped out for a more contemporary stone and dark leather seating. Many of the nightlife venues on Clapham High Street have been looking rather tired of late, so it’s great to see one of them taking a new approach. Both the drinks and food I sampled so far were different and delicious, so I look forward to returning in future for a weekend which will start with dinner and end with dancing.
- Aquum, 68-70 Clapham High Street, Clapham, SW4 7UL. Nearest stations: Clapham North, Clapham High Street or Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Aquum website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
The latest artwork has been unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square and it’s already dividing critics and the public. Really Good, a giant hand in a thumbs up gesture by artist David Shrigley, was unveiled on 29 September 2016 and will remain there for the foreseeable future. The new sculpture replaces Gift Horse by German artist Hans Haacke, which had been in situ since March 2015.
After Trafalgar Square was laid out in the 1840s, three of the four plinths were – and still are – occupied by sculptures of King George IV, General Sir Charles James Napier and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock. The Fourth Plinth was originally designed to hold an equestrian statue of King William IV, but plans were dropped due to lack of funds. After decades of being empty, a new public art project was conceived in 1998 for the Fourth Plinth to house a rotation of temporary artworks.
Brighton-based artist Shrigley has created a seven-metre high, bronze hand with a disproportionately large thumb. This new sculpture has been hailed as a beacon for positive thinking during a somewhat tricky year, with the Brexit vote dividing the British public. The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones wrote: ‘This is a weird and bizarre sculpture whose stark silhouette against the London sky is not affirmative or reassuring but aggressive.’ Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Mark Hudson said: ‘If the dark bronze skilfully echoes the patina of the older statues, blending the sculpture into its grandiose setting, the way the ball of the hand, the clenched fingers and thumb relate to each other is uncomfortable and patently unrealistic.’ Personally, I’m still undecided what I think about it and may have to see it a few more times before I decide if I like it or hate it. It’s certainly prompted a lot more debate among Londoners than recent commissions.
- Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Embankment or Leicester Square.
Since opening in Spring 2015, Time Run has become one of the capital’s leading immersive gaming experiences. Following the success of the original mission, adventurous gamers can go to a whole new level with The Celestial Chain. The pioneering gameplay format will challenge teams to push their mental skill and dexterity. The Celestial Chain is an innovative, interactive experience giving participants the opportunity to travel through fast-paced time zones.
Edwardian adventurer, inventor and scientist Luna Fox and her eccentric, robotic sidekick Babbage will be recruiting Time Runners to battle an ancient force. A rogue goddess has escape from her prison – the titular Celestial Chain – and is wrecking havoc as she travels through time. Gamers will journey from the distant past to the future, finding lost and hidden artefacts along the way to capture the dark goddess before she changes the world forever.
Teams will be able to compete for higher scores against other Runners and revisit to try to beat their own achievements. Larger groups will be able to compete in The Celestial Chain. Over two hours, seven teams will be able to complete the experience. Novice and experienced gamers will come together in teams of 3-5 people as they move between time periods piecing the story together by solving puzzles and searching for clues.
Time Run was created by a team game designers, production specialists and live event organisers, with the original Lance of Longinus receiving rave reviews from gamers following its launch in 2015. The original mission is still running alongside The Celestial Chain.
- Time Run: The Celestial Chain starts from 24 November 2016. At 9-15 Helmsley Place, London Fields, E8 3SB. Nearest station: London Fields. Tickets: Off peak (Tue–Fri before 5.30pm): from £25pp, Peak–(Tue-Fri 5.30pm onwards; all day weekends): from £35pp. Booking fees apply. Suitable for age 12+. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. For booking, visit the Time Run website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Chocolate… it’s one of those foods most of us just can’t live without. With National Chocolate Week coming up soon (10-16 October 2016), what better excuse than to delight your sweet tooth with some of the finest cocoa treats.
For those who like their chocolate with a bit of a kick, acclaimed London restaurant The Cinnamon Club is devising a special menu to mark NCW. The Westminster eaterie’s Executive Chef Vivek Singh has teamed up with master chocolatier Paul A Young to create a taste adventure. Three unique chocolates represent a starter, main and dessert. To start, bite into the Lime Pickle Caramel with single origin 64% Madagascan dark chocolate, sea salted caramel, The Cinnamon Club’s lime pickle and a gold leaf flourish. Moving on, the Cumin & Almond Truffle features bitter 66% Grand Cru dark chocolate, sweet almond puree, cumin, coriander seed and is coated with toasted naan crumbs. And to finish, the Paan Truffle includes paan, tobacco, rose petal preserve, condensed milk, peppermint and white chocolate with rose petals. For those with a bigger choco-tite, there will also be a limited-edition dessert of dark chocolate paan and caramel muri bar served with carrot halwa and clover ice cream.
This special menu will be available at the Indian fine dining destination from 10-30 October 2016. Guests who order the Chocolate Week dessert will also be given three Paul A Young truffles to take home.
Meanwhile, Vivek and Paul will also be presenting a collaborative demonstration at The Chocolate Show at Kensington Olympia on 14 October at 5pm. The three-day event will feature talks, demonstrations and interactive workshops from acclaimed chocolatiers and chefs.
- The Cinnamon Club, Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, Westminster, SW1P 3BU. Nearest station: St James, Victoria or Westminster. For more information, visit the Cinnamon Club website or tel: 020 7222 2555.
For a guide to what else is on in London in October, click here.
The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping as the countdown to Christmas kicks off. However, there’s plenty of reasons to live in the moment this October with lots of festivals and special events on around London. Of course, for those with a love of fancy dress, the month ends with Hallowe’en with plenty of ghoulish fun to be had in the capital.
For a guide to Halloween activities and parties on around town, click here.
- 1 October : NFL on Regent Street
American football festival returns to Regent Street. The shopping haven will be pedestrianised between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus to celebrate Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars game at Wembley. Includes appearances by NFL players and coaches, cheerleaders, inactive games, NFL merchandise, food and drink. Free. Regent Street, Soho/Mayfair, W1. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regents Street website.
- 1 – 2 October : Classic Car Boot Sale
A boot sale with a difference, featuring vintage fashion, homewares and pop culture memorabilia up for purchase from the boots of over 100 classic cars. Entry: £5 (£4 in advance). Lewis Cubitt Square (off Stable Street), Kings Cross, N1C 4AY. Nearest station: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Classic Car Boot Sale website.
- 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival
Restaurants all over the capital are taking place in this festival, offering special menus, discounts and events celebrating the capital’s culinary culture. Highlights include Veuve Cliquot Gourmet Odysseys, American Express menus, restaurant hopping tours, London’s longest lunch and Eat Film. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.
- Now until 2 October : Raindance Film Festival
UK’s largest independent film festival returns to the capital. Featuring over 100 movies and 150 short films screened at cinemas in the West End area. Venues include Vue Piccadilly Circus, Century Club and The Hospital Club. For more information and tickets, visit the Raindance website.
- 29 September – 2 October and 6 – 9 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 stations: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.
- Now until 2 October : Spiegeltent
A Spiegeltent is popping up in Canary Wharf for 11 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 £15 depending on event. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For most information, visit the Canary Wharf website.
- 3 – 9 October : London Cocktail Week
Bars, restaurants and other surprising venues are celebrating London Cocktail Week with a variety of offers and events around the capital. To get the most out of it, buy a £10 wristband so you can enjoy cocktails at participating venues for as little as £5. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website.
- 5 – 16 October : BFI London Film Festival
Film buffs rejoice for the biggest event in the British film calendar – next to the Baftas of course – but this is the one we can all experience. Eleven days of screenings, premieres, exhibitions, masterclasses and Q&As will be taking place across the capital, at 15 venues including Odeon Leicester Square, Hackney Picturehouse, Ritzy Cinema and Curzon Mayfair and Cine Lumiere. For more information, visit the BFI website.
- 5 – 16 October : London Literature Festival
The London Literature Festival returns to the Southbank, with renowned writers, futurologists and transhumanists discussing the future in these uncertain times. Among the highlights include Christopher Ecclestone, MyAnna Buring and Nikki Amuka-Bird perform a reading of The Time Machine and Margaret Atwood discussing her latest book. Many events are free, but tickets go up to £25. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.