Category Archives: Activities

Get involved – things to do as well as see

Open House Junior 2017: Inspire little Londoners at the capital’s architecture festival

© Open City

Get your kids into architecture at Open House Junior

Open House London is a great opportunity for Londoners to have a look inside buildings normally off-limits to the public. While many parents will be looking forward to exploring the capital’s history and architecture, they may be wondering how to occupy the kids too during the weekend. Thankfully, Open City are making architecture accessible for young as well with the Open House Junior programme, which runs alongside Open House London.

From 16 – 17 September 2017, a selection of free activities and trails will help to inspire a generation of little Londoners. Open House venues, including City Hall, Paddington Central and The Leadenhall Building will be hosting activities, where you can drop in with your children.

Among the events and activities include:

  • City of a Thousand Architects @ City Hall
    Become an architect for the day! Plan, design and build a future London skyline from the heights of City Hall.
    City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA. Nearest station: London Bridge.
  • Build a View Shaper @ The Leadenhall Building
    As part of the City of London’s Sculpture in the City programme, children can create a framed view of the city, inspired by the sculptures around The Leadenhall Building.
    Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall St, City of London, EC3V 4AB. Nearest station: Aldgate, Liverpool Street or Bank.
  • Junior Activity Hub @ Paddington Central
    Paddington Central is joining the Open House Junior programme and inviting families to explore, design and create.
    Paddington Central Canalside (by the Westway), Paddington, W2 6PY. Nearest station: Paddington.
  • On your marks, Get Set, Lego! @ Kingdom Square
    Join this quick-paced race to build the biggest and best LEGO structure. Enter your creation into the competition and be in for chance to win exciting prizes.
    Paddington Central, Kingdom Square (outside 4 Kingdom Street), W2 6BD. Nearest station: Paddington.
  • City of Bridges @ Paddington Central
    Be inspired by Paddington’s many bridges, and using an engineering toolkit, come along and add to the gigantic city of bridges in the striking Paddington Central amphitheatre.
    Paddington Canalside (outside Beany Green), W2. Nearest station: Paddington.
  • Playmake @ Sheldon Square
    Play. Make. Create! Paper forests, tinsel towers, and luminous lava fields. The Archivate Collective crew – a team of architects and designers – will be helping children make their city.
    Sheldon Square, Paddington, W2 6PY. Nearest station: Paddington.

Speaking about the event, Open City director Rory Olcayto said: “The more of us who participate in debating, shaping and mending the cities we live in, the better they will be, and the more reflective of our communities they will be too.”

  • Open House Junior takes place during Open House London on 16 – 17 September 2017 from 11am-4pm (some times and age suitability may vary). Events are free. For children aged 5-11 and their families. For more information, visit the Open House London website.

For Metro Girl’s tips and highlights of this year’s Open House London, click here.

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

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Classic Boat Festival 2017: Vintage vessels, entertainment and more nautical fun

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Classic Boat Festival returns to St Katharine Docks

This weekend sees the return of the Classic Boat Festival to St Katharine Docks. Over 40 vintage boats will be docking at central London’s only marina for the three-day event as part of the month-long Totally Thames Festival.

Visitors will be given the chance to get up close with boats from a bygone era by chatting to the owners and even stepping on board. Among the boats will be 14 of the Little Dunkirk ships, the Queen’s royal barge Gloriana and the former London Fire Brigade fireboat the Massey Shaw.

As well as the nautical action, there will be plenty of waterside entertainment, activities and food and drink including street food stalls, free Paddle Boarding and canoe taster sessions and children’s activities, including Explorer Treasure Quest, Pirate Sword Decorating and Flag Decorating. Meanwhile, there will be live music from National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Barnet Hill Life Boat Crew sea shanty singers.

Totally Thames is a month-long river-related events taking place on the 42-mile stretch of the River Thames. Among the activities taking place are The Great River Race, Tower Bridge Bascule concerts, walks, archaeological explorations, live music and many more activities.

  • The Classic Boat Festival is on from 8 – 10 September 2017 from 12pm-6pm. 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’s on in London in September, click here.

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

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Open House London 2017: Highlights and tips to make the most of the weekend

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Step inside some of London’s special buildings, such as 18th century Drapers Hall

History and architecture buffs rejoice – Open House London is returning. Now in its 25th year, the weekend is essentially a festival of design, history and architecture. Over 16-17 September 2017, around 800 homes, government buildings, offices and more will open their doors to the public for free. While some usual fee-paying museums won’t be charging during the weekend, there are also rare opportunities to visit some very special buildings, such as 10 Downing Street or the clock tower of St Pancras, that are usually off-limits to the public. Some buildings, such as the latter two just mentioned, are only entry by ballot or booking in advance. However, most you can just turn up and enter. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have a long queue. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists what I consider the highlights of this year’s event, although the following section featuring reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, includes further highlights too.

Highlights of Open House London 2017

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin. Iconic skyscraper in the City of London, built in 2003. Open Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm (long queues likely). 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP. Nearest stations: Bank, Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Hindu temple, built in 1995. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD. Nearest station: Harlesden.

Drapers Hall. Livery Hall first built in 1530s, twice rebuilt. Featuring 19th century façade and Victorian interiors. Open Sunday 10am-4pm. Throgmorton Street, City of London, EC2N 2DQ. Nearest station: Bank or Liverpool Street.

Finsbury Town Hall. Art Nouveau, Victorian building from 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Rosebery Avenue, Farringdon, EC1R 4RP. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel.

Freemasons’ Hall. Art Deco meets classical, built in 1927-33. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ. Nearest station: Holborn or Covent Garden.

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery. Victorian brewery, built in 1828. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (booking required). Chiswick Lane South, W4 2QB. Nearest station: Stamford Brook or Turnham Green.

Guildhall. The City’s base of their municipal Government since the 12th century, built in 1440/1789. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Gresham Street, City of London, EC2V 7HH. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Mansion House or Moorgate.

Home House. Georgian townhouse with fine interiors, built in 1776. Open Sunday 3pm-5pm (book tour in advance). 20 Portman Square, W1H 6LW. Nearest stations: Bond Street or Marble Arch.

Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s London home, dating back to 13th century. Open Saturday 9am-2pm (book time slot only through website). Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, SE1 7JU. Nearest station: Lambeth North.

Masonic Temple. Greek Masonic Temple in the former Great Eastern Hotel, built in 1912. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Andaz Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate, EC2M 7QN. Nearest station: Liverpool Street.

One Canada Square. Nineties skyscraper in Canary Wharf with tours to the 39th floor. Open Saturday 10am-4pm (book in advance). One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf.

Rudolf Steiner House. Unique example of expressionist architecture, built in 1926-1937. Open Sunday 1-5pm. 35 Park Road, Regents’ Park, NW1 6XT. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Visit the Great Hall and Maggie’s Centre at the 18th century hospital. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (book in advance). West Smithfield, City of London, EC1A 7BE. Nearest station: Farringdon.

Two Temple Place. Victorian office/residential building in an Elizabethan style, built in 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 2 Temple Place, City of London, WC2R 3BD. Nearest station: Temple.

Underground Bunker. WWII bunker 40ft underground, used by Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet, built in 1940. Open Saturday 8.30am-5.30pm (book in advance). 109 Brook Road, Neasden, NW2 7DZ. Nearest station: Neasden or Dollis Hill.

Wrotham Park. Privately-owned Georgian, Palladian mansion, built in 1754. Open Sunday 10am-3pm (book in advance). Wrotham Park, Barnet, EN5 4SB. Nearest station: Hadley Wood or Potters Bar. Read the rest of this entry

Live music, freebies, shopping and more at Spotlight Festival in Seven Dials

© Matt Alexander/PA Wire

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

Enjoy a free festival of entertainment, shopping, eating and drinking in London this weekend. This Saturday 19 August 2017, the Spotlight Festival returns to Seven Dials. The streets will be closed to vehicle traffic so visitors can relax in the sunshine on the pop-up lawn.

The open-air stage, hosted by author and presenter Laura Jackson, will feature a great line-up, including performances from the cast of West End musicals The Lion King and Aladdin, Some Voices choir, Whinnie Williams, Old Dirty Brasstards, Marawa’s Majorettes, Five Guys Named Moe and the House & Garage orchestra. There will also be further smaller stages throughout the area featuring performers and DJs, such as Sax and Bongos, burlesque performances from Circus, acoustic sets from Version and magician Neil Henry.

Visitors can really get into the festival spirit with chill out areas, free glitter stations to decorate your face and hair, a GIF photobooth and free fashion illustrations. Among the freebies on offer include cocktails from the Monmouth Kitchen pop-up bar, flower crown workshops, cinnamon buns from the Nordic Bakery and dog grooming from Malin & Goetz in collaboration with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Fashion fans can get their retail fix at the various stores and boutiques, which will be offering in-store discounts and promotions. Among those taking part are jewellers Laura Lee, watch brand Larsson & Jennings, Neal’s Yard Remedies and glasses specialist Ollie Quinn.

  • The Spotlight Festival is on 19 August 2017. 12-6pm. 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 Monmouth Fizz cocktail from the Monmouth Kitchen pop-up bar 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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Expanding my skills on a London Landscape Photography class with Obby

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

One of my photographs on the London Landscape Photography Course
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

I’ve long had an interest in photography and have been feeling pressure to take quality images for my blog since I started it five years ago. Of course, circumstances – such as bad restaurant lighting or a grey, cloudy day – can hamper a photograph from reaching its potential. After years of half-heartedly considering doing a photography course, I recently came across Obby – a community marketplace offering classes and workshops.

Although I initially was looking for a photography course, I found my appetite whet for others classes by the huge selection. As well as photography, there are also workshops in arts, crafts, drinks and tastings, food, health and beauty. There was a range of photography classes available, however I decided on the London Landscape Photography Workshop, which was most relevant to me as a blogger. Booking was super easy, I scrolled through the available dates and booked with a credit card. I liked that my class was confirmed straightaway and it wasn’t a voucher that I’d have to use with a second party, like other experience websites.

London photography course St Paul's Millenium Bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A much derided building, the ‘Walkie Talkie’, actually looks pretty cool from the right angle
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The workshop itself was a seven-hour class with Steve Hedges Photography. Our small group of five (including myself) met Steve at Liverpool Street station armed with our cameras and tripods at 9am on a Friday. The first part of the workshop was sat around a laptop going through the basic rules to follow when photographing landscapes and seeing examples of the powerful differences that depth and angle can make. I am currently between cameras so had borrowed one which I wasn’t so familiar with, but by the end of the class knew the settings so well I was able to teach the camera’s owner how to use it!

During the workshop, we stopped to photograph the Leadenhall Building, the Lloyds Building, the ‘Walkie Talkie’, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. The class was a mix of learning practical camera skills, but also developing our ‘eye’ for a great shot. We were taught about aperture, shutter speed, exposure, filters, ISO numbers, among other features of the camera. With the class so small, our instructor had enough time to give us individual feedback as we photographed each building. While there was a lot to take in, we were given frequent opportunity to really let what we were learning sink in and be put to practice. Although the weather weren’t on our side – it was a grey, cloudy day with occasional light rain – I’m happy with what I photographed throughout the day. There’s a selection of images I was really pleased with (such as the two I have published here), and some I wasn’t so enamoured with. However, that’s the whole process of photography, it’s all about the right light, conditions and angle coming together to create the perfect shot. There was so much things to think about afterwards. the most challenging one I think will be patience, it takes time to get the right photograph. While I would never consider myself a good photographer, I completed the workshop feeling more knowledgeable and confident with my skills going forward. Steve was a great instructor – patient, encouraging and full of experience. I thoroughly recommend the workshop and whole Obby booking experience. Now what am I going to learn next..?

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A rare chance to get up close to the painted ceiling at the Old Royal Naval College

Wanderlust 108: Find your zen at a ‘mindful triathlon’ of running, yoga and meditation

© Wanderlust 108

Wanderlust 108 is a lifestyle triathlon of running, yoga and meditation

With wellbeing and mindfulness bigger than ever, the lifestyle industry is booming. There are many people (myself included!) who prefer calmer forms of exercise instead of being a sweaty Duracell bunny going at 100mph. Following its success internationally in recent years, the Wanderlust 108 ‘mindful triathlon’ is coming to London this September.

Wanderlust, who produce the largest yoga lifestyle events globally, in partnership with adidas will host their signature triathlon at Victoria Park in East London on Saturday 23 September 2017. Participants will take part in a 5k run (or walk), a 90-minute alfresco yoga class and a guided meditation session. Guests can also add a free scheduled class in aerial yoga, acro-yoga, hooping, walking meditation, workshops, or a community yoga experience from local teachers. In between sessions, triathletes will also enjoy  live music and DJs, artisanal vendors, local foods and further activities.

Wanderlust regulars will be flying in from the US, including DJ Taz and Arli Liberman providing the soundtrack for the yoga and meditation. Visitors will also be able to buy all the kit to fulfil their wellbeing and fitness needs from stalls featuring local vendors, as well as the ‘adidas x Wanderlust Dome’, showcasing their latest joint collection. There will also be plenty of local and organic food and drink to keep you fuelled from on-site vendors.

Aside from London, Wanderlust is hosting events in over 60 cities in 17 countries in 2017, including Milan, Lisbon and Barcelona in October.

  • Wanderlust 108 takes place on 23 September 2017. At Victoria Park, Grove Road, Tower Hamlets, E3 5TB. Nearest stations: Mile End, Cambridge Heath or London Fields. From 7.30am-4pm. Tickets from £30. For more information, visit the Wanderlust website.

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

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Guide to London’s urban beaches in summer 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Enjoy one of the capital’s urban beaches, such as this one on the South Bank

London may be 40 miles from the nearest seaside resort, but in the summer a surprising amount of sandy spots seem to crop up around the capital. During the warmer months, a host of bars, hotels, parks and outdoor spaces are hosting their own mini beaches with plenty of opportunity for fun and frolics for both young and old.

  • 1 June – 24 September : Beach Bar @ The Montague Hotel

Pop-up beach bar returns to the gardens of The Montague Hotel. Featuring real sand, beach hut, tropical cocktails, palm trees and BBQ. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm. The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague Hotel website.

  • 23 June – 10 September : The Beach @ Brent Cross

A pop-up beach featuring entertainment, rides and street vendors, including 2,500 square metres of imported sandy beach. Open Mon-Fri: 12-10pm. Sat-Sun: 11am-10pm. Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Hendon Central or Brent Cross. For more information, visit The Beach Brent Cross website.

  • 2 July – 3 September : Hampstead Beach

The Jewish Community Centre is hosting a two month long pop-up beach, featuring lots of sand, cocktails, food and special events. Open Sun-Thu 9am-10.30pm, Fri 9am-5pm. Sat closed. Free entry. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, Hampstead, NW3 6ET. Nearest station: Finchley Road and Frognal or West Hampstead. To book, visit the JW3 website.

  • 15 July – 28 August : Big Screen On The Beach

Camden’s Roundhouse is hosting alfresco film screenings on its summer beach pop-up. Films include The Goonies, Mean Girls, Moana, Frozen, Titanic, Beauty And The Beast and many more. Times vary. Tickets: Adults £13.50, Children £5. Camden Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8EH. Nearest station: Chalk Farm. For booking, visit The Roundhouse website. Read the rest of this entry

Celebrate sporting ineptitude at the Chap Olympiad

© Bourne & Hollingsworth

A day of good old-fashioned fun at The Chap Olympiad

We’re not all the athletic types so winning may not be a frequent word in our vocabulary. However, if that sounds like you, then the Chap Olympiad could be right up your street. Returning for the 13th year is a day of old-fashioned fun taking place in one of Bloomsbury’s leafy Georgian squares.

On Saturday 15 July 2017, Britain’s most eccentric sporting event takes over Bedford Square Gardens with live music, food, cocktails and frolics. The Chap Olympiad ‘rewards panache rather than sporting prowess’ with the focus on effort and enthusiasm rather than talent.

The games for the 2017 tournament are:

Not Playing Tennis: Players seated in armchairs, play a game of tennis without getting up.  The tennis ball is suspended on a wire strung between two hat stands.
Tea Pursuit: Contestants in pairs chase each other on bicycles, one with a teacup, and one with a teapot. The tea must be poured into the cup and the fullest cup of tea wins overall.
Well Dressage: Two contestants, each mounted on a hobbyhorse, make a display of elegance and panache around the track in a freestyle manner. They are awarded points by lady judges with number cards.
Umbrella Jousting: Two contestants, armed only with brollies and briefcases, must go at one another on bicycles and attempt to knock each other off.

Guests are invited to dress in their finest dapper, vintage style. For those who don’t fancy taking part in the games, you’re welcome to grab a deckchair and sip a G’n’T while being entertained by the sporting ineptitude. The Chap Olympiad is produced by bars and events group Bourne & Hollingsworth (The Blitz Party, Dark Circus and Cocktails In The City), with the games organised by The Chap Magazine.

  • The Chap Olympiad takes place on Saturday 15 July 2017 from 12pm until dusk. At Bedford Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, WC1B. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street. Tickets: £25. Visit the Bourne and Hollingsworth website or call 0203 174 1156.

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

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Turning lawn bowling on its head at the first ever Festibowl

Festibowl

Festibowl – Three days of lawn bowls, street food and drinking in the heart of the City

Lawn bowling has long been associated with the older members of our society. However, a new form of bowling is attracting a younger audience. This month, Festibowl is taking over Finsbury Square for three days for its inaugural festival.

Festibowl features a quicker form of lawn bowls in a relaxed atmosphere with not a white shirt and matching trousers in sight. In between a game, there will be plenty to do with DJs, street food and cocktails. During the festival there will also be a battle between three-time Commonwealth gold medallist Ellen Falkner and four-time Commonwealth Gold Medalist Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall MBE for the first Golden Bowl Award on 29 June.

CEO & Founder of Festibowl, William Goy said: “Barefoot bowling is the perfect way to bring people together to enjoy the English summer. I’ve been passionate about bringing this lively version of the sport to the UK over the last three years and I’m delighted to be launching Festibowl, the first festival of its kind, in London this year. Traditional Lawn Bowls clubs are struggling for members and we hope that Festibowl is a reminder of how we should cherish this great British sport and stop its decline. We’ve had a great response from bowls clubs up and down the country, and we’re delighted to play a role in helping to bring bowls into the 21st Century.”

  • Festibowl will take place on 28-30 June 2017. At Finsbury Square, City of London, EC2A. Nearest stations: Moorgate, Liverpool Street or Old Street. Tickets from £25. The Exhibition match on 29 June at 12.30pm is open to the public and free to attend. On 28 and 30 June, people are welcome to turn up and bowl for £5 between 12.30pm-1.30pm. For tickets and more information, visit the Festibowl website.

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

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