Category Archives: Activities

Get involved – things to do as well as see

Guide to what’s on in London in October 2018

Brockwell Park Clock Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Herne Hill Music Festival kicks off in October

Autumn is finally here after a super long summer. Some may be welcoming the cooler temperatures, while others may be lamenting the fast approach of winter. However, lets live in the moment and focus on October. There’s plenty going on around town with many events creeping into the warmer indoor settings. Of course, there’s Halloween at the end of the month and half-term holidays so expect plenty of ghoulish and family events – or both – going on. October is a good month for booze fans with lots of beer and cocktail festivals. The nights may be getting darker, but you could brighten up your home with a purchase from one of the many art fairs on this month.

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

  • 1 – 7 October : London Cocktail Week

Over 300 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 digital pass so you can enjoy cocktails at participating venues for as little as £6. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website. Find out about the Broken Shaker pop-up bar at Madison.

  • 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 Gourmet Odysseys, Eat Film, Restaurant Hopping Tours, Eat Art @ Saatchi Gallery and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.

  • 2 – 3 October : RHS Harvest Festival Show

Horticultural show including fruit and vegetable competition, pumpkin display, nursery and harvest displays, harvest games, cocktails and live music. Open 10am-5pm. Free entry. Lindley Hall, RHS Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PE. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the RHS website.

  • 2 October – 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future

Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.

  • 4 OctoberYoung Marketeers’ Harvest Sale @ Borough Market

Local schoolchildren will be trading their homegrown fruit and vegetables at Borough Market. Proceeds go to the FareShare charity. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.

  • 4 – 7 October : The Other Art Fair

The bi-annual fair is a great place to buy art from 130 emerging and undiscovered artists. There will also be guest artists, immersive theatre, live music, bar and restaurant. Opening times vary. Tickets: £8.96-£22.40. Victoria House, Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1A 2QP. Nearest station: Holborn. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair website.

  • 4 – 7 OctoberFrieze Art Fair

Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 150 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £38.50. Regents Park (Art Fair near the Outer Circle in SE corner of the park). Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Baker Street or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Frieze London website.

  • 4 – 14 October : Oktoberfest London

Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £10 (depending on day). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.

  • 4 – 14 OctoberWimbledon Bookfest

Festival featuring readings, children’s events, storytelling, comedy, courses, screenings, walks and interviews from a wide range of authors, including Graham Norton, Alan Davies, Lionel Shriver, Sebastian Faulks, Cathy Newman, Michael Rosen, Max Hastings, Billy Bragg and more. Tickets prices vary. A majority of events take place in tents on Wimbledon Common, but also other venues nearby. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information and tickets, visit the BookFest website.

  • 5 – 7 OctoberCake And Bake Show

Event celebrating all things baking and decorating, featuring celebrity experts, stalls selling baking equipment, cake competitions and more. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £13. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Cake And Bake Show website.

  • 5 – 7 OctoberTequila And Mezcal Fest

A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Open Sat 12pm-9.30pm, Sun 8 1-9pm. Tickets start from £20 (early bird tickets include Tequila or Mezcal samples and free entry to seminars and master classes). Oxo Tower Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.

  • 5 – 14 OctoberHerne Hill Music Festival

Music festival in Herne Hill, south London at various venues across SE24 and neighbouring areas including The Half Moon, Off The Cuff, Canopy Bar, St Faith’s Church, Brockwell Hall and Herne Hill School. Tickets range from free to £50. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Herne Hill Music Festival website.

  • 5 October – 18 November : Poppies – Weeping Window

The Weeping Window from artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper’s famous 2014 poppy installation at the Tower of London has been touring the UK and returns to the capital. Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ. Nearest station: Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on the installation, click here.

  • 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival websiteRead the rest of this entry

Open House London 2018: What to buildings to visit and tips

Foreign Office © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Whitehall

It’s that time of year again – when Londoners get the chance to peek inside buildings that are normally off-limits. Taking place on 22-23 September 2018, Open House London is essentially a festival of architecture and design, where a huge range of buildings from homes to Government buildings to skyscrapers allow the public to step inside. Many museums which usually cost to enter are also taking part so you can visit for free. While it’s probably too late by now to enter some of the ballots or ticketed entry slots, there are tons of other places just waiting to be explored. This year marks the 26th year of Open House London, with over 800 properties taking place. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have long queues. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists a selection of reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, as well as tips and advice for making the most of the weekend.

Tips on making the most of Open House London

  • Comprise a list of places you hope to visit and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long by searching Open House’s official website, buy a hard copy of the guide here or download the free app available on Apple or Google Play.
  • Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast to inspire suitable clothing. You will be walking and standing a lot.
  • Start early – many of the sites open around 10am or 11am, but some even earlier. If you get there before they open, you could beat the queues.
  • Make sure your phone and/or camera are fully charged and bring a portable charger if you have one so you can search online maps and share photos on social media.
  • Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
  • Go the toilet whenever you find one. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities or you could end up desperate while waiting in a very long queue.
  • Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, as security searches are expected.
  • Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it if you end up queuing.
  • Share your discoveries on social media under the hashtag #openhouselondon. This is also handy for checking out where the long queues are.
  • Follow Open House London on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Metro Girl’s reviews and photos of Open House buildings

Banqueting House. Only surviving building from Whitehall Palace, built in 1619. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Banqueting House, Whitehall, SW1A 2ER. Nearest stations: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment.

Billingsgate bath house. Roman home and bath ruins in the basement of a modern office building, dating back to 2nd-3rd century and discovered in the 19th century. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm (queues likely). 101 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6DL. Nearest station: Monument.

Caroline Gardens Chapel. Partially-derelict Georgian chapel used as an arts and event space, built 1827. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Asylum Road, Peckham, SE15 2SQ. Nearest station: Queens Road Peckham.

Charlton House. London’s only surviving Jacobean mansion, built in 1607. Open Sunday 10am-4pm (tours at 11am and 2pm). Charlton House, Charlton Road, Charlton, SE7 8RE. Nearest station: Charlton.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Check out the stunning Crystal Palace Subway

Crystal Palace Subway. Victorian subway connecting what used to be a train station to the site of the Crystal Palace, built 1865. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (queues likely). Crystal Palace Parade, Crystal Palace, SE19 1LG. Nearest station: Crystal Palace.

Dennis Severs House. Georgian townhouse and unique setting for a historic ‘still-life drama’, built in 1724. Open Saturday 12-4pm (queues expected). 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street.

Emery Walker’s House. Georgian terrace styled in authentic arts and crafts interiors. Open Sunday 2pm-5pm (queues likely). 7 Hammersmith Terrace, Hammersmith, W6 9TS. Nearest station: Stamford Brook.

Fitzrovia Chapel. Victorian designed chapel, designed 1891, completed 1929. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, W1T 3BF. Nearest station: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road.

Granada Tooting (Gala Bingo Hall). Former Art Deco cinema with neo-renaissance interiors, now used as a bingo hall, built in 1931. Open Sunday 9am-12pm. 50-60 Mitcham Road, Tooting, SW17 9NA. Nearest station: Tooting BroadwayRead the rest of this entry

Thames Rockets review: See iconic London sights at 35mph on a thrilling boat trip

Tower Bridge and Shard Thames Rockets © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A view of Tower Bridge and The Shard from a Thames Rocket boat

Thames Rockets boat © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

One of the Thames Rockets departs London Eye Pier

I’ve long recommended a boat trip down the River Thames as a ‘must do’ to friends and family visiting London from abroad. It’s a great place to get an overview of the capital and some of its most iconic landmarks. such as the Tower of London, the London Eye and Cleopatra’s Needle. Personally, I’ve been down the river many times over the years on the Thames Clippers, party boats or the tourist cruises. However, the one Thames experience missing from my personal history was a speedboat ride… until now.

I had occasionally seen Thames Rockets on the Thames over the years as a pedestrian on dry land. Finally, last week, I got the chance to experience a trip on a Rocket myself. The company, which launched in 2006, offers six different experiences, ranging from a 15 minute ‘Thames Taster’ to the 80 minute Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage. I was on the Ultimate London Adventure, which aims to provide a “fun-filled adrenaline-fuelled 50 minute” journey. Ahead of my trip, I was intrigued how they would combine a sight-seeing tour and speed.

Arriving 15 minutes before departure, I was greeted by the friendly Thames Rockets team, who fitted my lifejacket at the pier just by the London Eye. Next, we were given a safety briefing before climbing in. The Thames Rockets boats are speedboats with seats for about 12 people, each with a driver and guide abroad during your journey. I managed to get a coveted spot at the front of the boat, which was perfect for me as I was planning to photograph and video a lot of the journey. We were introduced to our driver Doug and our guide Bill and prepared to set off.

Tate Modern © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge

The first part of our journey was a musical trip past some of London’s most famous sights, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We slowed down a bit just before Tower Bridge so we could get some good photos. Soon after we passed under Tower Bridge and passed the River Police Station at Wapping, it was time to crank things up a gear. With this eastern passage of the Thames being wider and less busy than central London, Doug was free to increase the speed. Soon enough, we were holding on tight to the railings as we twisted, turned, and jumped over the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph). There was plenty of whooping and screaming as the group reacted to the various stunts. Sitting by the port side of the boat, I did get a little wet from the spray, but I was well prepared in a raincoat and it was all part of the fun. As we raced towards Canary Wharf, there were times I couldn’t even see the skyscrapers as the bow rode up in front of us as we leaped over the waves. The side turns were particularly hair-raising and certainly showed our skipper’s impressive skills at the wheel.  Read the rest of this entry

Conservation and colours as the Tusk Rhino Trail comes to the capital

Rhino Trail Covent Garden © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Patrick Hughes’ The Rainbosceros in Covent Garden for The Rhino Trail

If you’ve been in central London recently, you may have noticed some pretty new pieces of street furniture. Twenty one rhino sculptures have been erected near iconic sights as part of the Tusk Rhino Trail. Each piece of art has been customised by international artists, to raise awareness of the rhinos’ plight. These magnificent creatures are under threat of extinction due to poaching and they must be protected.

Rhino Trail St Pancras © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Nick Gentry’s silver rhino at St Pancras

The capital-wide art installation has been curated by Chris Westbrook for the Tusk conservation charity. The sculptures will remain in situ until World Rhino Day on 22 September 2018. The following month, all 21 will be auctioned by Christie’s to raise money for the charity on 9 October.

Artists taking part include Ronnie Wood, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Axel Scheffler, the Chapman Brothers, Charming Baker, Glen Baxter, Nick and Rob Carter, Eileen Cooper, Nancy Fouts, Nick Gentry, Zhang Huan, Patrick Hughes, David Mach, Gerry McGovern, Harland Miller, Mauro Perruchetti, Dave White, David Yarrow and Jonathan Yeo. Locations include Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Guildhall, Marble Arch and St Paul’s. Why not download a map and bring your children rhino spotting.

  • The Tusk Rhino Trail is on now until 22 September 2018. To download the trail map and find out more about the charity’s work, visit the Tusk Rhino Trail website.

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

This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.

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Guide to what’s on in London in September 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Classic Boat Festival returns to St Katharine Docks

Autumn is coming. It feels like we’ve been treated to an extra long summer this year thanks to the blazing hot temperatures. However, with London not really cut out for the practicalities of an uber hot heatwave, the cooler evenings and not-so-busy capital is sure to be welcomed by many Londoners. Despite being autumn, there’s plenty of alfresco festivals throughout September, with foodies and booze fans well accommodated. Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the best events on in the capital this September.

  • 31 August – 2 September : Meatopia

Weekend of meat, drink, music and fire. Featuring chefs from Smoke & Salt, Smoking Goat, Ox Club, Smokestak, The Lido, Foxlow, Patty & Bun, Hawksmoor and more. Music from The Cuban Brothers, John Fairhurst, DJ Pierre, New York Brass Band, Tom Findlay (Groove Armada) and more. Open Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-7pm. Tickets: £23.85-£93.28 (depending on package). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For information and booking, visit the Meatopia website.

  • 1 September : Camberwell Fair

A long tradition of the Camberwell Fair continues, stemming back to the 13th century. Featuring market, games, two live music stages, food, drink and community events. 12pm-9pm. Free entry. Camberwell Green, Camberwell, SE5 7AF. Nearest station: Denmark Hill or Oval. For more information, visit the Camberwell Fair 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 (7-9 Sept), The Great River Race (8 Sept), Billingsgate Roman Bath House open days, walks, mudlarking, art installations, live music, theatre, dinners, river relay, film screenings and many more activities. Many events are free. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 1 – 31 September : Lambeth Heritage Festival

A month-long festival celebrating the heritage and people of Lambeth – stretching from the South Bank all the way to Streatham and Norwood. Featuring a local history fair, talks, guided walks, film, music, theatre, exhibitions, and workshops. At venues across the borough including West Norwood Cemetary, Lambeth Palace, the Cinema Museum, National Theatre, Brixton Library and Brixton Windmill. For more information, visit the Lambeth.gov.uk website.

  • 2 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 2 September : Spin Festival

Cycling festival featuring over 100 road, urban and lifestyle exhibitors. Expect plenty of stalls, workshops, talks and more. Tickets: Adults £13, Weekend pass £21. Printworks, Surrey Quays Road, Rotherhithe, SE16 7PJ. Nearest station: Canada Water. For more information, visit the Spin website.

  • Now until 2 September : Painted Hall Ceiling Tours

The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College is undergoing a huge restoration. For a limited time only, visitors will be able to ascend 60ft to see the painted ceiling up close. Times vary. Tickets: Adults £10, Children £5. Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest station: Greenwich, Maze Hill or Cutty Sark (DLR). To book, visit the Old Royal Naval College website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the tour here.

  • Now until 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre

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

  • 5 September : The Rum Off @ Bobby Fitzpatrick

Help find the world’s best rum in the first heat of the Rum Off 2018. Four leading rum brands – Havana Club, The Real McCoy, Gosling’s and Skipper – will compete through a series of cocktail making heats, with you getting to vote for your favourite. 7pm-10pm. Tickets: £8. Bobby Fitzpatrick, 273 West End Lane, Hampstead, NW6 1QS. Nearest station: West Hampstead. For tickets, visit EventbriteRead the rest of this entry

‘Drams in the Dark’ and virtual shooting @ Mac and Wild City’s new whisky bar

© Mac & Wild Gun Room

Try your hand at shooting at the virtual range at Mac & Wild in Devonshire Square

To those unaware, Mac & Wild is a Scottish drinking and dining destination across two London venues. Located a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station, the Devonshire Square branch opened in November 2016 and has fed and watered cityslickers ever since.

Mac and Wild whisky slushies © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Frozen whisky slushies

Last week, I went along for the launch of two events taking place at Mac & Wild City – a virtual shooting range and the ‘Drams in the Dark’ experience. Having previously visited the Fitzrovia branch for an amazing dinner, I had high hopes for its sister venue. Located in the Georgian enclave of Devonshire Square, Mac & Wild covers two storeys and an outdoor terrace. Our visit coincided with the hottest day of the year at a sweltering 34c so a frozen gin cocktail on arrival was much appreciated.

After sipping a cocktail on the balmy terrace, stepping inside to the cool, air-conditioned enclaves of the building was very alluring. While the main restaurant is located on the ground floor, we headed downstairs to the lower ground to the new whisky bar and virtual shooting range. The vibe is Scottish Highlands-meets-contemporary with wooden beams, leather and fur seating, foliage and over 200 varieties of whisky bottles behind the bar. The team behind Mac & Wild have teamed up whisky expert Blair Bowman to curate the menu and special events, as well as Monkey Shoulder and Glenfiddich. The bar features some interesting twists on whisky servings, such as the Whisky Slushie, of which we enjoyed a few. The slushie was a short, frozen combination of apple and whisky which was both sweet and refreshing. My friend isn’t a big whisky drinker and said she really enjoyed them. As well as plenty of whisky, the bar also offers some of Mac & Wild’s most popular dishes, including Venison Scotch Eggs, Haggis Pops, Mac & Cheese and the Veni-Moo Burger.

© Mac and Wild whisky bar

Mac & Wild’s new whisky bar features comfy leather seating and 200 varieties of whisky

Aside from the drinking, one of Mac & Wild’s most unique offerings is its Virtual Shooting Range. The Devonshire Square venue features two lanes equipped with state-of-the-art virtual shooting systems and replica shotguns. As a bona fide city girl and animal lover, the thought of going actual shooting is quite alien to me. However, I was a fan of shooting computer games such as House of the Dead and Duck Hunt as a teenager so was eager to see if my skills had stood up over time. My friend and I had a lot of fun as we tried shooting boars and bears, despite not being too successful, although we watched others fare better. You can choose between clays, rabbits, pheasants, grouse, to deer, boars and bears so the game has quite a variety.

Following a spot of shooting, we headed into a pitch black room for the ‘Drams in the Dark’ experience, hosted by whisky consultant and author Blair Bowman. The dark room setting means your senses are heightened so the aromas and tastes of the whiskies have new depths. Before the tasting begins, you are given an introduction as you settle in and slowly get used to sitting in the darkness. The experience sees you being guided through four or five drams of whisky, along with pairing canapes, which give an added dimension. Among the whiskies we tried were Talisker 10 Years and a Dalmore 12 Years – two very different flavours. Tasting the Talisker along with a bit of fruit cake was a really interesting combination. Despite sitting in a dark room full of strangers, we felt comfortable and really enjoyed the experience. Blair’s knowledge and passion for whisky was really evident and his guidance was useful for both newbies and experienced whisky drinkers.

  • Mac & Wild, Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. The Whisky Bar is open Tues-Sat from 5pm until late, with the Whisky Hour (happy hour) available daily from 5pm-7pm. The Virtual Shooting Range lanes are available for groups of 2-40 people and are bookable between Mon-– Sat from 12pm-11pm.
  • Drams In The Dark take place every Friday and Saturday night from 27 July 2018 and last 90 minutes. Tickets: £40 (include pairing canapes). For more information and booking, visit the Mac & Wild website.

Check out Metro Girl’s review of dinner at Mac & Wild Fitzrovia.

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

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Spice up your kitchen reportoire with the ‘Migration of Taste’ cooking demos at Borough Market

Ursula Ferrigno © Borough Market

Ursula Ferrigno is one of the chefs taking part in the ‘Migration of Taste’ demonstration kitchen at Borough Market this August

London is renowned for having some of the best restaurants in the world. The bustling metropolis is a melting point of different cultures, which is reflected in the wide variety of cuisines on offer in the capital.

Borough Market is celebrating our city’s international flavours this August with a series of cooking demonstrations. Taking place every Thursday lunchtime, visitors can learn how to make a range of exotic dishes from top chefs. ‘Migration of Taste’ explores the market’s status as an international market and how world cuisine can be fused with British influences. Chefs will prepare several dishes in front of the audience, with recipe cards available to take home. Visitors will also be able to sample the culinary delights after they’ve been cooked.

  • 2 August : Ursula Ferrigno

The acclaimed food writer and chef trained at the Auguste Escoffier School of the Culinary Arts. Ferrigno was taught to cook as a child by her grandmother in Italy and regularly returns to visit family and to teach cookery. She is passionate about Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and using fresh, natural ingredients.

  • 9 August : Norman Musa

Malaysian-born Musa moved to the UK in 1994. After opening his first restaurant in Manchester 12 years ago, he also teaches Malaysian cooking across the UK. He will be showcasing recipes from traditional and contemporary Malaysian cuisine.

  • 16 August : Dhruv Baker

The MasterChef 2010 winner has been inspired by his jet-set lifestyle, having lived in Mexico, India, East Africa and Spain. He will be exploring his Mexican food heritage, along with inspiration from European cuisine for his experimental dishes.

  • 23 August : Philip Juma

Growing up as an English-Irish-Iraqi, Juma has quite the rich and varied heritage. Using his experiences working in the capital’s contemporary restaurants, he mixes traditional Iraqi dishes with modern cooking techniques.

  • 30 August : Zoe Adjonyah

Adjonyah expanded her knowledge of West African cuisine when she visited her extended family in Ghana. She found inspiration in her grandmother’s kitchen and at the Kaneshie street market in Accra. Known for Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, she is looking forward to bringing visitors on a food journey through West African flavours.

  • The Migration of Taste Demonstration Kitchen Residency takes place on Thursdays throughout August. From 1pm-2.30pm. Free. At Market Hall, Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.

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

Find out the history of Borough Market.

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Where to find lavender fields near London

Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Mayfield is one of several lavender fields on the outskirts of the capital

Scrolling through your social media feeds recently, you may be seeing lovely shots of people running through lavender fields. Obviously, an over-crowded metropolis like London doesn’t have the room for huge fields, but there are several of these floral paradises just outside the capital. Lavender season is usually from late May until September, with July to August the best time to visit. As these tend to be in the countryside, it’s advisable to go via car if you can, however some public transport routes have been detailed below. The fields are all family friendly so it’s a great day out with the children during the summer holidays.

  • Mayfield Lavender Farm

Despite some London guides claiming this is in Croydon, it isn’t. Located in the Surrey Downs, in the London Borough of Sutton, it’s at least a 45 minute commute from Croydon town centre. Mayfield has 25 acres of fields with an Insta-tastic red phonebox and tractor for those perfect poses. It also has a shop selling lavender products and a café, serving drinks and snacks, many featuring lavender flavours. Find out more on their website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post about her visit.

Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, Surrey SM7 3JA. Open daily 9am-6pm from 1 June – 16 September. Tickets: Adults £2, Under 16s free.

Getting there by public transport: The nearest train stations are Chipstead (42 mins from London Bridge) or Banstead (56 mins from Victoria), before a short bus ride (166) or a 40-45 minute walk. Alternatively you can get the 166 bus earlier from West Croydon which takes about 45 minutes.

  • Hitchin Lavender

    Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

    Many of the fields have on-site shops so you can buy lavender products

Situated north of the capital in Hertfordshire, Hitchin boasts 25 miles of rows from which you can pick your own lavender. It also features a sunflower field and wildflower area. There’s a 17th century barn on-site selling lunches and cakes, as well as a shop. Find out more on their website.

Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3UA. Open daily 10am-5pm from 19 June until the end of August. Tickets (picking included): Adults £6, Under 14s £3, Under 5s free.

Getting there by public transport: From King’s Cross, you can get a Thameslink train to Arlesey (54 mins). Take the 72 bus to ‘The Green’ stop, a few minutes walk from the field.

  • Kentish Lavender

Castle Farm in Kent is home to the largest lavender farm in the UK with over 95 acres of the purple stuff! Their Hop Shop is open all year round, selling lavender and other farm products. You can only visit the fields on a guided group tour or a sunset pop-up picnic. Check out their website to find out more.

Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB. The Hop Shop is open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Group tour tickets: Adults £6/£7, Children 5-14ys £3/£3.50.

Getting there by public transport: From Blackfriars, you can get a Thameslink train to Eynsford (55 mins) or Shoreham (59 mins). From either, there are several bus routes (approx. 15 mins) going to the Hop Shop.

  • Lavender Fields @ Hartley Park Farm

This is a lot further afield in Hampshire, but if you’re willing to make the journey, then you may find it quieter than the ones closer to London. There’s an on-site shop open from mid-April under late September, but the lavender fields are only accessible during their open days. Check out their website to find out when their open days are taking place.

Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP. Tickets (open days only): Adults £4, Under 12s free.

Getting there by public transport: From Waterloo, you can get a South Western train to Petersfield (1 hour). Take the 38 bus to the ‘Hartley Park Farm’ stop.

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

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Sculpture In The City 2018/2019: Contemporary art lights up the Square Mile

Guide to London’s urban beaches and lidos this summer 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Soak up the sun at one of London’s urban beaches

When the sun comes out, most of us have the urge to head to a park, rooftop bar or… the beach. However, this can cause issues with the capital being a couple of dozen of miles from the nearest seaside. Fortunately, in the past few years, urban beaches have been cropping up around London. Some are patches of sand accompanied by water, while some have a full-blown beach club so you can close your eyes and imagine you’re on the French Riviera. However, if sand isn’t your thing and you just fancy a swim, you can always visit one of the city’s lidos or swimming ponds.

  • 3 May – TBA September : Fulham Beach Club

The popular Neverland has had a summer makeover, featuring day beds, private beach huts and cabanas, two bars, Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club pop-up, live DJs, croquet, beer pong, shuffleboard and ping pong. They also host special events include bottomless brunches, yoga classes, fancy dress parties and sports screenings. Open Wed-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-9pm. Entrance starts from £5 (free to SW6 residents all days except Sat). Neverland, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Neverland Fulham website.

  • 21 May – 21 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, BBQ and jet ski selfie area. Open Mon-Sun 12pm-10pm. Packages start from £50. The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague Hotel website.

  • 25 May – 9 September : Southbank Centre Beach

The popular mini beach returns to the South Bank opposite the skate park. The area is surrounded by food and drink vendors. Open 10am-10pm. Free entry. Southbank Centre Beach, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Grab a summer cocktail and hit the beach

  • 26 May – 2 September : The Beach Brent Cross 

Pop-up beach returns featuring a huge beach of imported sand, water to paddle in, rides, entertainment and food and drink vendors. Open Fri 4pm-9pm. Sat-Sun: 12pm-9pm. 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.

  • 1 July – 2 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 9.30am-8pm, Fri 9am-3pm. 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

  • 18 July – 2 September : Urban London Beach

Sandy beach by the River Thames underneath the Emirates Air Line cable car. Sit on a deckchair, watch your kids play in the sand or enjoy an ice cream. Open daily 10am-8pm. Free entry. Urban London Beach, 27 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Docks, E16 1FA. Nearest station: Royal Victoria (DLR). For more information, visit the London’s Royal Docks website.


London’s lidos and swimming ponds

If you’re not a fan of sand, perhaps you’d like to cool down in one of the capital’s alfresco swimming spaces instead.

Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0PA. Nearest station: Herne Hill.

Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Road, Tooting Bec, SW16 1RU. Nearest station: Streatham.

Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, SE18 4LX. Nearest station: Charlton.

Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive, W2 2UH. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner, South Kensington, Marble Arch.

Parliament Hill Lido, Heath Lodge, Highgate, NW5 1NA. Nearest station: Gospel Oak.

Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, Hampstead Way, Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QN. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath.

Finchley Lido, Chaplin Square, Finchley, N12 0GL. Nearest station: West Finchley.

Park Road Pools & Fitness, Park Road, Crouch End, N8 8JN. Nearest stations: Hornsey or Highgate.

London Fields Lido, London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU. Nearest stations: London Fields or Hackney Central.

Hampton Pool, High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST. Nearest station: Hampton.

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

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

Find out where London’s nearest lavender fields are.

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