Author Archives: LondonMetroGirl

Celebrate National Tea Day with a tea dance at St Katharine Docks

© St Katharine Docks

Celebrate National Tea Day with a tea dance at St Katharine Docks

Brits’ love affair with tea looks unlikely to be slowing down any time soon. So it’s probably no surprise to hear there’s an annual National Tea Day this April (apologies if it’s an important part of your calendar already…).

This year, St Katharine Docks will be hosting a celebration of the mighty cuppa with a tea dance. Following the success of their first tea dance last year, the Docks will be marking National Tea Day, which coincides with the Queen’s 91st birthday. The Ragroof Players will be hosting two tea dances, featuring vintage music from the 1920s to the 1950s, glamorous costumes and stunning dance displays. People of all ages and abilities are invited to join in one of the two-hour participatory tea dances.

Meanwhile, Tom’s Kitchen will be serving Canton tea and homemade lemonade accompanied by a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes for those feeling peckish between 12-7pm. The Friday World Food Market will also be on site with stalls serving foods with a British twist from 11am-3pm.

  • The National Tea Day Tea Dance is on 21 April 2017, with tea dances taking place at 12-2pm and 5-7pm. At St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website.

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

To find out about the history of St Katharine Docks, click here.

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Exploring Dulwich’s street art with the Dulwich Festival

Guide to what’s on in London this Easter 2017 for adults and children

© onefox/Pixabay

Chicks, chocolate and bunnies galore in London this Easter
© onefox/Pixabay

Easter is fast approaching! To many of us that means a long weekend, lots of chocolate and (hopefully) warmer temperatures. With parents searching for ways to entertain their children, a host of London attractions have curated special activities over the break. My monthly ‘what’s on guides’ include many activities on in the capital during April, however for those looking for more family and Easter-centric ideas of what’s on during the holidays, here’s listings of things to keep you occupied. However, it’s not all for the kids, with a special section at the bottom with adults-only Easter fun over the Bank Holiday weekend (which is 14 – 17 April in case you’re wondering).

  • 24 March – 23 April : George Irvin’s Funfairs

Travelling funfairs will be setting up camp at Crystal Palace (24 Mar – 9 Apr), Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (1 – 17 Apr), Clapham Common (1 – 23 Apr) and Hampton Court (13 – 18 Apr) over the Easter break. Rides include Big Apple Coaster, Dodgems, Bungee Trampolines, Tea Cups, Waltzer, Inflatable Slide and Carousel, among many others. For more information, visit the Irvin Leisure website.

  • 1 – 16 April : Bunny Hop and Seek for Easter @ Museum Of Brands

Hunt a parade of Easter bunnies around the museum and through the Time Tunnel. Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Activities free with museum entrance: Adults £9, Children 7-16yrs £5. Museum Of Brands, 111-117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, W11 1QT. Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. For more information, visit the Museum Of Brands website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Moomin Adventures @ Kew Gardens

Explore Kew Gardens on an interactive trail before ending up at the magical Moomin Festival Camp in the wild woodland. There will also be the opportunity for craft workshops, sample the Moomins’ pancakes and visit the Hemulens’ Herbarium. There will also be Lindt chocolate treats for every visitor. Tickets: Adults: £14, Children £2.50. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Jurassic Kingdom

Dinosaur fans will get the opportunity to see 30 life-sized installations of animated dinosaurs, which move and make noise. There will also be street food and drink vendors on site. 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults – £13.50 (online), £15 (on the door), Children £11.50 (online), £13 (on the door). Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. Nearest station: Osterley. For tickets, visit the Jurassic Kingdom website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Easter Egg Hunt @ Battersea Park Zoo

Find out what zoo animals will be holding Easter eggs. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £8.95, Children 2-15 yrs £6.95. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Easter Family Fun @ Hampton Court Palace

Go on a Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt at the homes and gardens of King Henry VIII. Other activities include meet Princess Caroline, decorate your own chocolate cup and find out how Georgians used to drink their chocolate. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults £23 (£20.30 online), Children £11.50 (£10.20 online). Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.

  • 1 – 21 April : Easter @ WWT London Wetland Centre

Enjoy the Celebrity Dusty Duck Trail and Easter Giant Duck Hunt (1 – 17 April only) during the Easter Holidays. The trail (£1 entry) will feature 6ft sculpture of Dusty Duck with a chocolate prize at the end, while the hunt (£1 entry) will feature ducks hidden around the reserve with a prize at the end. Entrance tickets: Adult £12.26-£13.49, 4-16 years £6.75-£7.42, family tickets £34.36-£37.80. London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the London Wetland Centre website. Read the rest of this entry

Granada Tooting: A neo-renaissance cinema masquerading as a bingo hall

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The interior of Gala Bingo Club in Tooting – formerly the Granada Cinema

In cinemas’ heyday in the early half of the 20th century, there were film theatres on every high street, often several on the same road. However, in recent decades, a host of cinemas have been bulldozed or converted into bingo halls, churches and even pubs. However, while one such venue is no longer screening movies, the stunning, original interiors have been largely preserved.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The grand entrance features four Corinthian style pillars

In the heart of Tooting stands a very grand branch of Gala Bingo. Located on Mitcham Road, Gala is residing in the former Granada Tooting, a Grade I listed, Art Deco cinema. Although bingo players are welcome to visit during game-playing hours, I joined a guided tour early one Sunday morning during Open House London for a more in-depth look and to find out about the history.

The cinema was originally built as one of a chain, owned by Essex-born media baron Sidney Bernstein (1899-1993) and his younger brother Cecil (1904-1981). After his eldest sibling Selim was killed during World War I in 1915, as next in line Sidney inherited the family business following the death of his property tycoon father Alexander (1870-1922). The business included several music halls and the Empire group of ‘Kinemas’ in Ilford, Plumstead, East Ham, West Ham and Willesden. Together, Sidney and Cecil established the Granada Cinema chain – named after the Spanish city of Granada after the former had been there on holiday. Granada is home to the stunning Alhambra complex, so the name would have sounded very exotic to the average early 20th century Brit, most of whom would have never been abroad. Sidney wanted people to be drawn to the cinema itself, rather than the film, and thought of his businesses as temples of entertainment. Although his initial ‘Kinemas’ were converted music halls and theatres, his first purpose-built cinema was the Granada Dover, which opened in January 1930 (it was demolished in 2014). Read the rest of this entry

Be a record breaker and join the Space Hopper Challenge

Space Hopper Challenge

Fancy being part of a World Record attempt at the Space Hopper Challenge?

Fancy being part of a world record? Well, you can have the opportunity to do just that on the second Bank Holiday in May.

TickTheBucket and London Flashmob are organising the Space Hopper Challenge on 29 May 2017. It’s set to be a fun day out for family or friends, with the opportunity to picnic and enjoy some alfresco drinking alongside the chance to make history.

Participants will be invited to attempt to break the world record for the most people on space hoppers, alongside two other surprise world records too. Johannesburg, South Africa are the current holders of the record, which they’ve held since 2013, with 2,943 people.

The challenge is open to both adults and children, with each ‘hopper’ able to take their own space hopper home to keep. Hopefully, the weather will be kind so it’ll be a nice spring day out in the green surrounds of the King’s House Sports Ground in Chiswick.

  • The Space Hopper World Record attempt takes place on 29 May 2017. Doors open at 12pm. Event at 2.30pm. Tickets (include space hopper): Adults £12. Children £10. King’s House Sports Ground, Riverside Drive, Chiswick, W4 2SH. Nearest station: Barnes Bridge or Chiswick. For more information, visit the Space Hopper Challenge website.

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

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How do you like your Beanz? A Heinz pop-up bar is coming to London

© Heinz

The Beanz Meanz Heinz pop-up bar will be opening in the Selfridges Foodhall on 27 March for four weeks

Forget boring quinoa! For me, a hearty weekend brunch has got to come with baked beans. Heinz Beanz have been satisfying British appetites for over 100 years and, this year, marks the 50th anniversary since the ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ advertising slogan was first coined.

This spring, Heinz are celebrating 50 years of its Beanz slogan by launching a pop-up bar in London’s iconic Selfridges department store. The counter will be serving Beanz with a modern twist, including with crispy bacon, with smoked ham hock or scrambled egg. There will also be the chance to opt for an additional cheddar cheese topping.

Meanwhile, Heinz is also launching a limited edition can to mark the anniversary. The commemorative design will only be on sale in Selfridges, featuring different iterations of the Beanz Meanz Heinz slogans, such as Beanz Meanz… Yummz, Famz, Chatz, Spudz, Eggz, Morningz and Brekkiez. Meanwhile, Beanz fans will also have the opportunity to buy 50 collectable cans numbered individually and personally signed by copywriter Maurice Drake, who came up with the slogan in 1967. Proceeds of the cans will go to The Ideas Foundation, a charity which identifies and nurtures creatively gifted 13-19 year olds, as well as working to increase diversity in the creative industries.

  • The Beanz Meanz Heinz Pop-Up Bar is open from 27 March – 23 April 2017 at the food hall in Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. Opening hours Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm. For more information, visit Selfridges website.

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

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Drink at London’s best bars under one roof at Cocktails In The City

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Drink at London’s top bars under one roof at Cocktails In The City
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

It’s that time of year again as the UK’s biggest cocktail celebration returns to the capital this month. The spring edition of Cocktails In The City brings some of the best drinking hotspots to you. Setting up camp at the stunning surrounds of One Marylebone, Londoners can go on a bar crawl under one roof.

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Be open to experimenting
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

Twenty-five of the world’s top bars will be hosting pop-ups from 30 March – 1 April in the Georgian venue’s Grand Hall. Among those representing will be The Artesian (four-time winner of World’s Best Bar), concealed hotspots London Cocktail Club and Reverend JW Simpson, speakeasies Barts and The Lucky Pig and hotel classics Trader Vic’s and The Blue Bar, serving their signature drinks and experimental new creations.

Meanwhile, jetting in from Europe will be Berlin’s Schwein Bar, Stockholm’s Linje Tio, Oslo’s Himkok and Copenhagen’s Ruby. The Nordic bars will be teaming up with Woodford Reserve to create the ‘Hygge’ drinking experience with their pop-up bars nestled together on the cosy 2nd floor.

Cocktail fans will also have the chance to blend their own bespoke gin with London micro-distillery Sacred in the enchanted garden, mix their own concotions with some of the capital’s finest mixologists and learn how to create the ultimate Rum Punch with The Duppy Share.

Other bars taking part include 100 Hoxton, 214 Bermondsey, Burlock, Cahoots, Disrepute, Gaucho, Hush, The Four Sisters Townhouse and Three Six Six.

  • Cocktails In The City takes place from 30 March – 1 April 2017 at One Mayfair, 13A North Audley Street, Mayfair, W1K 6ZA. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. Ticket: £15 includes 1 cocktail. For more information and booking, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

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

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Hang with the art flock at the Paper Aviary in St James

Paper Aviary

The Paper Aviary is a new exhibition in St James’s Market Pavilion

A new public art exhibition has just opened in London’s St James. Taking inspiration from the Royal aviary which used to stand in St James’s Park, is ‘The Paper Aviary’ in a new permanent art space.

Paper Aviary

The exhibition is accompanied by a soundtrack of birdsong

Back in the 17th century, the park was home to King Charles II’s (1630-1685) collection of exotic birds. The King had redesigned the park after being inspired by the French royals’manicured grounds while he was exiled in France during the English Civil War. The aviary is mentioned in the diaries of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. In addition to the aviary, the Pelicans were introduced to the park at the same time, where they continue to live today. Although the aviary is long gone, a reference to it lives on in nearby Birdcage Walk.

‘The Paper Aviary’ is a new installation by design and brand specialists dn&co with Argentine studio Guardabosques. The likes of bright green Sulawesi hanging parrots, red and yellow lories and lorikeets, and cassowaries have been brought to life in the paper aviary. Each bird has been handcrafted with plumage and patterns inspired by fashion houses and craftspeople of St James. Represented are the houndstooth, checks and polka dots from the fabric patterns of John Smedley, Turnbull & Asser and Aquascutum. As visitors step into the St James Market Pavilion, they will be greeted by a curated soundtrack of birdsong to accompany the exhibition.

  • The Paper Aviary is open from 15 February – May 2017 at St James’s Market Pavilion, Regent Street, St James, SW1Y 4AH. Free entry. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park. For more information, visit the St James London website.

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

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Shopping in style – Part 5: An art deco gem Princes Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Princes Arcade was built in the 1930s in the Victorian Princes Hall

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 5 focuses on the youngest, the Princes Arcade, which unlike the others, wasn’t purpose built.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Princes Arcade features a simple blue, white and grey colour scheme

Princes Arcade is part of Princes House at 190–195 Piccadilly  which was originally built to house the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. The building, designed by English architect Edward Robert Robson (1836-1917) and built by Messrs. Holland and Hannen, and Messrs. Peto Brothers of Pimlico, featured galleries, shops and a public hall. Robson was famous for his London state schools of the 1870s and early 1880s. The Piccadilly-facing ground floor featured six shops, with their own basements and mezzanine. On the façade of the building were eight portrait busts by sculptor Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901). The building was in a prime location opposite the road from the Royal Academy and was opened by Prince and Princess of Wales (the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) in April 1883.

The main public gallery in the building was called the Prince’s Hall. However, by the turn of the 20th century, the Hall was joined with the Prince’s Hotel in the rear and it started being used as a restaurant. Between 1929 and 1933, the gallery building and the Prince’s Hotel underwent significant alterations, with the Princes Arcade being constructed at the time. The new arcade linked Jermyn Street and Piccadilly and opened in 1933. The Princes Arcade is roughly about 200ft long and features shopfronts projecting into the aisle on scrolled bracket. The southern part of the Arcade has a lower ceiling than the northern part, with the latter featuring decorative plasterwork with the Princes of Wales feathers.

In World War II, Princes Arcade fell prey to bomb damage in 1940, prompting repairs and alterations. The galleries of the Royal Institute were also damaged, reopening in July 1948. By 1972, the entire building was Grade II-listed – two years after the Royal Institute’s lease expired and they moved to the Mall Galleries near Trafalgar Square.

The Princes Arcade was renovated in 1983 and is now sporting a blue, grey and white colour scheme. The original lanterns were restored in 2011 and are now a dark grey colour. Today, the Arcade is home to Andy & Tuly, Barker Shoes, Bates Hatters, Christys’ Hats, Loake Shoemakers, Sage Brown, Segun Adelaja, Simply Gem, Smart Turnout, St Petersburg Collection, The Left Shoe Company and Prestat – Roald Dahl’s favourite chocolatier.

  • Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DS. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Princes Arcade website.

‘Shopping In Style’ is a series of blog posts on the history of London’s oldest shopping arcades. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to keep up to date with my latest posts. Read Part 1 on the Burlington Arcade here, Part 2 on the Royal Opera Arcade here, Part 3 on the Royal Arcade here or Part 4 on the Piccadilly Arcade here.


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

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Guide to what’s on in London in March 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Spring is in the air!

Spring is here… allegedly! The temperatures are rising – just a bit – and the nights are getting lighter. With the advent of March, London starts to come alive with a lot more festivals and events on around town. There’s also a host of film, food and drinking festivals if that whets your whistle.

For a guide to what’s on in London over the Easter holidays, click here.

  • 1 – 5 March : Cinema Made In Italy

Film festival of the newest features from Italy at the Ciné Lumière, featuring screenings and Q&As including 7 Minutes, Ears, Pericles The Black, The Confessions, In Guerra Per Amore, Slam, Pawn Streets, Vangelo and I Was A Dreamer. Tickets: Adults £12, Children £10. Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensbury Place, SW7 2DT. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Ciné Lumière website.

  • 1 March – 3 September : The Art Of The Brick – DC Super Heroes

Lego artist Nathan Sawaya has created an exhibition of Lego sculptures of Super Heroes and Villains including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Children £11. The exhibition is in a temporary structure on the corner of Upper Ground and Cornwall Road, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Art Of The Brick website. For a review of the previous Art Of The Brick exhibition, click here.

  • 3 March – 7 May : The Iris @ Now Gallery

A new art installation from artist Rebecca Louise Law, featuring 10,000 fresh irises suspended from the ceiling. Open Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. Free entry. NOW Gallery, The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, SE10 0SQ. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the NOW Gallery website.

  • Now until 5 March : Orchid Festival

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by India. The sea of colour from one of the world’s most stunning flowers will certainly brighten up a dull winter’s day. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: £8 adults or £2.50 children. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • Now until 5 March : Vault Festival

Six week arts festival in the tunnels beneath Waterloo across three venues, five bars and a restaurant. Entertainment includes live music, theatre, film, dance, comedy and late-night parties. Open Wed-Sun. Ticket prices vary, although venue entry is free. The Vaults, Arch 233, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website. For highlights, check out Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s festival.

  • 5 – 12 March : French Fest @ Live At Zedel

An eight day celebration of French culture, featuring music, opera, theatre and comedy in French or English or both. Dining options also available. Live At Zedel takes place at Crazy Coqs or Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Brasserie Zedel website.

  • 7 – 12 March : Women Of The World Festival

A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Gillian Anderson, Sandi Toksvig, Catherine Mayer, Nilüfer Yanya, Reni Eddo-Lodge, among the featured names. Events range from free to £30 or many included with day pass £22. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 8 – 10 March : London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) North London host a beer and cider festival. As well as over 150 beers, ciders and perries to choose from, there is also food, tombola and ‘shut the box’. Opening times vary. Tickets: £4 (£3 for CAMRA members), but free during Wed and Thur lunchtime openings. Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, WC1H  AU. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information visit the CAMRA North London website.

  • 9 – 12 March : Affordable Art Fair @ Battersea Park

For those among us who aren’t loaded, this event is a chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There is over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging for £40 to £4,000. Tickets: £10-£12 in advance, more on the door. Battersea Evolution, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Art Of The Brick Lego art returns to London with a superhero theme

  • 9 March – 18 June : American Dream – Pop To The Present

Look back over 60 years of the world superpower with prints from American artists including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Children under 16 free (w/ a paying adult). British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3DG. Nearest station: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the American Dream Exhibition website. Read the rest of this entry