Category Archives: London

100 Wardour Street review: Fine European dining in an atmospheric venue

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Crispy baby squid, fennel salad and yuzu dressing

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Madame (Vodka, lemon juice, apple juice with mint)

The address 100 Wardour Street has long been associated with Soho life – be it as a restaurant, bar or nightclub. I had visited various establishments on the site over the years, including Floridita and Meza for meals and cocktails. However, in 2016. the venue was reborn as 100 Wardour Street, a dining, drink and live music destination.

The 100 is split across two floors – a lounge area on the ground for more casual drinks and all-day dining, while the grand basement space features the huge restaurant and club. After dropping off our coats in the cloakroom, we wound our way down the grand staircase to the atmospheric basement, with low-lighting and designer furniture. The main focus of the room is the stage, which hosts live music throughout the week.

We were shown to a cosy booth, with room for five of us and space to look out across the expansive room. We kicked off proceedings with an apéritif, as I chose a ‘Respect Your Elder’ (Tanqueray Gin, Elderflower Tonic, garnished with lemon and edible flowers). Our party had opted for the set menu, with four options in each course. To start, I had the Crispy Baby Squid, Fennel Salad and Yuzu Dressing. What I liked about it, is that it wasn’t as greasy as regular calamari and had a lighter feel.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Grilled Scottish salmon fillet and warm vegetables a la Grec

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Confit Duck with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives

The mains available were mostly traditional British-European offerings, such as Roast Pork Belly, Confit Duck and Rigatoni. However, I settled on the Grilled Scottish Salmon Fillet and Warm Vegetables à la Grec. The salmon was cooked well with a crispy skin (if you like that sort of thing). By salmon standards, it was OK, but could have done with more a bit more flavour. Meanwhile, a few of my table opted for the Confit Duck, served with Braised Escarole, Piquillo Peppers and Olives, which was a universal hit.

To finish, I couldn’t resist the Chocolate and Peanut Butter brownie with Milk Ice Cream. The brownies itself was pretty rich as you can imagine, but the subtle flavour of the ice cream really diffused the sweetness and complemented it well. Meanwhile, I had also been enjoying a saucily named cocktail ‘The Madame’ (Vodka, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice with Mint), which was refreshing with just the right amount of fruitiness.

Overall, we had a great evening. I really liked the venue and atmosphere. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive. Although my mains was OK, I really enjoyed my starter, dessert and cocktails. I would definitely return.

  • 100 Wardour Street, Soho, W1F 0TN. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. For booking, visit the 100 Wardour Street website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Gooey! Chocolate and peanut butter brownie with milk ice cream

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

100 Wardour Street Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Guide to what’s on in London over Easter 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Spring into spring

It was only recently it was minus degrees and snowing so no doubt you may be shocked it’s approaching Easter already. With Easter Weekend bridging the end of March and beginning of April, we can only hope for some warm weather and sunshine. With schools on holiday for two weeks, parents everywhere will be looking for ways to entertain their little ones. Meanwhile, showing Easter isn’t just for kids, there’s an adults-only guide to offers and events at the bottom.

  • 25 March : Easter Egg Hunt @ Parsons Green Market

Pick up some clue questions and search the market for the Easter Eggs, with the chance to win chocolate prizes or a box of farmers market eggs. 10am-2pm. Thomas’s Academy, New King’s Road, Parsons Green, SW6 4LY. Nearest station: Parsons Green or Putney Bridge. For more information, visit the London Farmers Markets website.

  • 26 March – 15 April : Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt @ Hampton Court Palace

Hunt for the Lindt gold chocolate bunny in the house and gardens at Hampton Court. Other family activities include a digital adventure around the palace, the magic garden and maze and workshops. Tickets (events inc with general admission): Adults from £19.20, Children from £9.60. 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.

  • 29 March : Kids Easter Egg Painting @ Bluebird

Take the kids to an Easter egg painting class. For ages 3 and up (parents required to supervise). 3.30pm. Tickets: £15 per child. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.

  • 29 March – 2 April : Easter Egg Hunt : St Katharine Docks

A special egg hunt around St Katharine Docks, which celebrates its 190th anniversary this year. Families can pick up Easter egg colouring-in sheets and a ‘Hunt Pack’ that will consist of crayons and activity sheet as they search for eggs around the central basin. From 10.30am-4pm (closed Easter Sunday). 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. To find out about the history of St Kats, click here.

  • 29 March – 7 April : My First Ballet – Swan Lake

Introduce your child to ballet with the English National Ballet and English National Ballet School production of this classic fairytale. Performance times vary. Tickets: £10-£25. Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT. Nearest station: Holborn or Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Sadler’s Wells website.

  • 30 – 31 MarchFamily Weekend @ Sadler’s Wells

BalletLORENT present their production of Rumpelstiltskin, follow a self-guided journey or enjoy a host of activities. Prices vary depending on event. Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4TN. Nearest station: Angel. For booking, visit the Sadlers Wells website.

  • 30 – 31 March and 1 – 2 April : Easter Quest @ Kenwood

Follow the clues to claim your chocolate reward in house and gardens of historic Kenwood House. 11am-3pm. Tickets: £1 per child. Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR. Nearest station: Hampstead or Highgate. For more information, visit the English Heritage website.

  • 30 March – 2 April : Easter @ Battersea Park Zoo

Take part in a host of Easter-themed activities, including an Easter Egg search amongst the animals and a host of activities on Easter Bunny Day on 30 March. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £9.50, Children 2-15 yrs £7.50. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.

  • 30 March – 15 April : A Big Day Out With Peter Rabbit @ Kew

Beatrix Potter and her animals come to Kew Gardens, featuring games, Peter Rabbit trail, and the late author’s links with Kew. Free to take part with normal admission. Tickets: Adults from £17.75, Children 4-16yrs £4. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens websiteRead the rest of this entry

Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars: Travel to another galaxy to watch your fave sci-fi film

Backyard Cinema Mission To Mars

Travel to another galaxy with Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars

Coming to the capital this spring is a new theme from Backyard Cinema. The roaming film club have created a host of immersive cinematic experiences in recent years, including ‘Miami Beach’, ‘The Lost World’ and most recently, ‘Snow Kingdom’. However, the next exciting theme will take film fans to another galaxy.

From 21 March 2018, sci-fi buffs are invited to travel into space. Ticket holders will start their journey by preparing for take-off in the intergalactic security area, before boarding a spacecraft to watch the film. Over the next few months, Backyard will screen a host of classic and newer sci-fi films, such as Aliens, E.T., Blade Runner, The Martian and Star Wars, among many others. Movie fans will be able to sip bespoke out-of-this-world cocktails or [space ;-)] craft beer as they snuggle into a comfortable beanbag to watch the film.

On its latest theme, Backyard Cinema’s founder, Dominic Davies said: ‘Mission to Mars has got to be our most exciting theme to date. We have really worked on making this an immersive and trilling experience for our customers and have loads of treats in store for them. Sci-Fi and space travel is such an amazing genre of movies and there has been so much inspiration to draw from. We really hope to make London’s galactic dreams come true.’

  • Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars is on from 21 March 2018 until the summer. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle or Borough. Tickets: Adults from £17.50, Children (under 12) from £9.50. Date night package for two: £75 (includes snacks, bottle of Prosecco and blankets). For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

To find out what else is on in London in March, click here.

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Long Acre’s horsey history and the story behind the Carriage Manufactory

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The former Strong’s Carriage Manufactory on Long Acre

Long Acre is a busy shopping thoroughfare in the Covent Garden area of London. Linking Drury Lane with St Martin’s Lane, it has a host of shops from affordable to expensive, attracting both tourists and Londoners. As a one-way road, Long Acre isn’t particularly wide so most pedestrians rarely look up to see the Georgian and Victorian detailing of its many historic buildings. I have walked down Long Acre hundreds of times in my life and never noticed the stunning façade of No. 30-31. Now home to a branch of Gap clothing, the former carriage shop dates back to the late 19th century and shows a clue to its past life.

From the 13th to the 16th century, the area we know today as Covent Garden was ‘the garden of the Abbey and Convent’. The land covered 40 acres and was looked after by the monks of Westminster. However, King Henry VIII (1491-1547) seized the land during the dissolution of the monasteries and in 1552, it was given to John Russell, Earl of Bedford (1485-1555). The northern boundary of the estate was referred to the ‘long acre’ after the first pathway was constructed. In the early 17th century, King Charles I (1600-1649) criticised the condition of the road and houses along Long Acre, prompting estate owner Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford (1593-1641), to try to tidy up the area with more attractive dwellings. As well as improving Long Acre, Russell laid out Covent Garden Piazza and commissioned architect Inigo Jones to design St Paul’s Church in the 1630s.

Long Acre Hatchett

Famous coachbuilder Hatchett had a shop on Long Acre in the 18th and 19th century. (1783 sketch by John Miller in the London Metropolitan Archives)

By the late 17th century, Long Acre started to attract the coach and carriage building trade. In the late 18th century, one of Long Acre’s most famous coach makers was Hatchett & Co at No.121, on the current site of the Calvin Klein boutique and directly opposite Nos 30-31.  John Hatchett, whose family were in business from 1750-1870, was credited with creating high standards and innovative designs of carriages copied by his rivals (click here for one of his designs). According to the Carriage Journal, the Hatchetts employed several hundred workers, while John served as chief of The Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach-Harness Makers livery company in 1785, which still exists today. As the 19th century progressed, Long Acre was dominated by coach builders and harness makers, with names such as Pearce & Countze; Edwin Kesterton; Silk & Sons; Wyburn, Meller & Turner; Holman & Whittingham; G. Amery; T George & Co, and, finally, C. S. Windover and Co., Ltd, who was coach builder to her Majesty and next door neighbour at No.33.  Read the rest of this entry

Explore the swinging sixties with the My Generation exhibition at Carnaby

© Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

Michael Caine in Alfie in 1966
© Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

Coming to Carnaby this month is a new exhibition to celebrate the launch of Sir Michael Caine’s film My Generation. The London legend narrates and stars in a documentary telling his journey through the Swinging Sixties and the people he met along the way.

To mark the release of the film, an exclusive exhibition will be showcasing photography, prints and previously unseen archive footage from the decade. The exhibition has been curated by Zelda Cheatle, who has collaborated with some of the era’s biggest photographers, such as Terry O’Neill, Brian Duffy and Barry Lategan. Many icons from the film are featured, including Twiggy, Roger Daltrey and The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Vidal Sassoon, Jean Shrimpton, Lulu, Paul McCartney and The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bailey, Sandie Shaw and Mary Quant. Some of the pieces on show will be Lewis Morley’s infamous portrait of Christine Keeler and the first professional shot of Twiggy.

During the exhibition, there will be two Q&A sessions, hosted by Edith Bowman. My Generation’s director David Batty will be in conversation on Monday 12 March (6pm-7pm), while photographer Terry O’Neill will be recalling his amazing career on Monday 9 March (12.30pm-1.30pm). Tickets are free and available via a ballot on the Carnaby London website.

Meanwhile, a special screening of My Generation will be broadcast live via satellite from the BFI Southbank to UK and Irish cinemas on Wednesday 14 March. Celebrating Sir Michael’s 85th birthday, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with the birthday boy himself. Limited tickets are available via the website.

  • My Generation Exhibition runs from 8-21 March 2018 at 3 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F 9FB. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London in March 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Spring is in the air!

Spring is nearly here… allegedly! The temperatures will soon start creeping up, and the days are brighter and longer. Those who love to hibernate over the winter are finally waking up and ready to explore. This month you can expect to see a lot of art and beer events on around the capital. Not forgetting, Easter Weekend kicks off at the end of the month on Friday 30 March so there is yet more school holidays for parents to deal with.

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

  • 1 – 4 March : The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Haberdashery festival featuring workshops, knitworking, dressmaking studio, textile galleries, Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch and the Creative Living Theatre. Open 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat: 10am-5.30pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £13.50, Children £6. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Knitting & Stitching Show website.

  • 1 – 4 March : Number 90’s 4th Birthday

Popular canalside destination are hosting a mini festival of sorts over four days to celebrate their fourth birthday. Including DJs, live painting sessions, vintage clothes stalls, film screenings, dance show, magician, live music, food and drink. DJs and artists include Norman Jay MBE, Haggis Horns, Toytown Hustle, Dila V & The Oddbeats and the Pop-Up Choir. Open Thu and Sun 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-1am. Free entry. Number 90 Bar and Kitchen, 90 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. For more information, visit Number 90’s website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival.

  • 1 – 8 March : International Women’s Day @ Seven Dials

A week of events, offers and promotions celebrating women at the stores and businesses of Seven Dials. Highlights include a panel discussion hosted by Gemma Cairney on IWD on 8 March. At venues and stores around Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the event.

  • 1 – 20 March : Richmond Upon Thames Music and Drama Festival

Three weeks of music, dance and drama performances by local artists, arts organisations and schools. The Music and Drama Festival Showcase will take place at The Exchange in Twickenham on 4 March at 3pm (Tickets: £5-£10). The rest of the festival takes place in various venues across the borough. For more information, visit the website.

  • 1 – 21 March : Pauline Bewick Art Exhibition

One of Ireland’s most acclaimed artists Pauline Bewick displays some of her huge collection as part of the St Patrick’s Festival. Open 9am-5pm. Free entry. City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, Borough, SE1 2AA. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the website.

  • 1 March – 6 May : Somnai

Experience a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies. Somnai is said to be the biggest theatrical event since Punch Drunk and offers a ‘lucid dreaming’ experience. Over 18s only. 90 minutes long. Times vary. Tickets: £50. 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest stations: Old Street, Barbican or Farringdon. For booking and more information, visit the Somnai website.

  • 2 – 3 March : Movie Nights at the Museum

Watch a film under Hope the whale in the Hintze Hall. Movies include Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: A Force Awakens. Screenings at 7.15pm and 10.15pm. Tickets: £28. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest station: South Kensington. For booking, visit the NHM website.

  • 3 March : Magic of India Holi Festival

Family friendly festival to celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi. Featuring dry colour powder play, DJs, drummers, giveaways, hot Indian food and more. 11am-3pm. Tickets: £12. Exact location to be revealed nearer the time. Nearest station: Swiss Cottage. For tickets, visit the Funzing website.

  • 3 March : RA Lates – Night at the Palace

Late night party at the Royal Academy of Arts inspired by their upcoming Charles I exhibition. The RA will be transformed into the King’s Whitehall Palace for dancing, feasts, art, music, immersive experiences and creative activities. Dress code: Courtly decadence. 7pm-11.45pm. Tickets: £25-£40. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the RA website.

  • Now until 4 March : Vault Festival

Six week arts festival in the tunnels beneath Waterloo across three venues. Entertainment includes live music, theatre, film, dance, comedy and late-night parties. Open Wed-Sun. Ticket prices vary. The Vaults, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website. To find out about this year’s highlights, click here, or for a review of Neverland, an immersive theatre show, click here.

  • Now until 4 March : Snow Kingdom – Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema have created a wintry immersive cinematic experience in the foodie surrounds of Mercato Metropolitano. Travel through an ice cave and across a frozen lake to watch new and classic films in the atmospheric Snow Kingdom. Tickets from £17. Backyard Cinema, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • Now until 4 March : Ovo by Cirque du Soleil

The newest touring production from the Cirque, a spectacular exploration of the ecosystem, with insects working, playing, fighting and looking for love. Tickets range from £25-£231. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the Cirque Du Soleil websiteRead the rest of this entry

Go back to the ’80s and party in the name of charity at exclusive members club Tramp

As demonstrated by the huge success of Netflix show Stranger Things, it appears the 1980s are more popular than ever. Living in a world overwhelmed by social media and technology, no wonder so many of us hanker for more innocent times with bad perms, no mobile phones and stone-washed jeans.

If you’re a fan of the Eighties, you have the chance to embrace the era’s extreme fashion and strange hairdos on a nostalgic night out. On Thursday 22 March 2018, KIDS Charity is hosting a fundraising ’80s themed bash at legendary nightclub Tramp. As well as giving you the chance to reach for the crimpers and blue eyeliner, it is also a rare opportunity to see inside the exclusive members’ club, which is normally off-limits to the public. You can expect themed cocktails, outrageous costumes and the best ’80s anthems. There will also be a competition prize for the best dressed. The venue and DJ have generously offered their services free of charge so all income goes directly to the charity.

Although the pre-party dinner tickets are already sold out, there’s still the chance to purchase party only tickets, which include a welcome cocktail and canapés. Tickets are £50 each, however, there’s the chance to snap them up for £35 in a special flash sale from Thursday 1 March until Friday 9 March if you use the code MARCH15.

The KIDS charity was established in 1970 and now provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country. In 2017, KIDS helped over 13,500 children and their families. Tramp is one of the capital’s most exclusive private members’ clubs with a wild and fabulous history dating back to 1969. Over the decades, Tramp has hosted royalty and entertainment legends Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, George Best, Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen and Sir Michael Caine, among many others. Many celebrities have celebrated their wedding receptions at the club, including Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli and Ringo Starr. More recently, the likes of David Beckham, Rihanna, Drake and Kate Moss have partied the night away at Tramp.

  • The KIDS 1980s Party takes place on Thursday 22 March 2018 from 10pm-3am. At Tramp, 40 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN. Nearest station: Green Park. Over 18s only. For more information and tickets, visit the KIDs website.

Find out what else is on in London in March.

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Mac and Wild Fitzrovia review: Hearty comfort food and the best of the Highlands

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Venison Topside Steak 200g and chips

When I first heard about Scottish game restaurant Mac & Wild, I initially dismissed the cuisine as not for me. As a pescatarian, the likes of haggis and venison are off-limits to me. However, after hearing good buzz about it and realising they have menu options for me, I decided to give it a try. A freezing night in February seemed the perfect time for some Scottish fare, with my carnivore boyfriend on hand to sample the meatier options.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

An Irn Bru Daiquiri

Mac & Wild initially started out as a street food stall, bringing Scottish culinary exports to Londoners, before opening a pop-up, and today has two permanent restaurants in the West End and City. The menu prides itself on offering seasonal Scottish produce sourced from hand-picked suppliers in the Highlands. If you’re expecting a Scottish theme restaurant, you’ll be disappointed as there are no ginger wigs or tartan costumes in sight. The Fitzrovia branch has gone for a modern, rustic-inspired look with handmade tables made from old trees, brown leather cushions and black and white landscape photographs of the Highlands. As we sat down to our table, my immediate thought was how cosy and warm it was. A posey of Scottish thistles in an Iru Bru can masquerading as a vase was a quirky touch which made us chuckle.

Having noticed the iconic orange can on our table, I knew I had to try to the Irn Bru Daiquiri as my apéritif when I saw the cocktail menu. Admittedly I had forgotten what Irn Bru tasted like as it had been decades since I last drank it. While I approached the drink with scepticism, I was pleasantly surprised and it went down a treat. Served in a martini glass, it consisted of Ron Matuselum Platino Rum, Irn Bru reduction, Angostora Bitters and Lime – a sweet concoction. Meanwhile, my companion opted for The Forager, billed as a Wild Old Fashioned, made with Glenkinchie 12yo, foraged pine needle tincture, double infused heather honey and finished with barrel-aged bitters, which he said was an interesting twist on his favourite cocktail.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Cullen Skink, a soup made with smoked haddock, potato, onion, chives and dill

When it came to starters, we both chose fishy ones. As I was anticipating a three-course meal, I decided on a lighter starter – Inverawe Smoked Salmon served with sourdough, whipped butter and lemon. The salmon was so fresh and rich in flavour and served with the bread, it didn’t linger long on my plate. Meanwhile, my boyfriend had my second choice, the brilliantly named Cullen Skink. To the uninitiated, it’s a classic Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potato, onion, chives and dill. He praised the flavour and it’s suitability for a cold winter night. I tried a sip and thought it was delicious – definitely one to order on a return visit.  Read the rest of this entry

What is a cricket sign doing on a tube station?

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The sign for J Wisden & Co has been incorporated into Leicester Square tube station’s building

The architecture of London’s tube stations vary wildly, from Victorian façades to modern 21st century designs. However, the exteriors’ designs tend to be exclusively for Transport for London. However, there is an exception to this, where a separate business has been immortalised in the iconic ox blood-red tiling of Leicester Square station. If you look at the Cranbourn Street exit, you’ll see a set of cricket stumps, a ball and a pair of bats along with the words ‘J Wisden & Compy No.21′.

Long before Leicester Square station was built, there was a Victorian cricketer named John Wisden (1826-1884), who played for Kent, Middlesex and Sussex over a career that spanned 18 years. However, it was his ventures off the field that he is mostly remembered for today. While still playing, he teamed up with sports outfitter Fred Lillywhite(1829-1866) in 1855 to create a side business. The pair opened a cricket and cigar shop at 2 New Coventry Street, just off Leicester Square. However, their partnership was dissolved in January 1859 with Lillywhite handing over the business to Wisden. In the 1861 census, he is listed as living above the shop with his sister, his teenage cousin and a porter, Joseph Williams. In addition to being a good cricketer, it appears Wisden was a successful businessman and expanded into publishing following early retirement. In 1863, Wisden hung up his bat at the age of 37 because of his rheumatism. The following year, he launched the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, a reference book of the sport published annually. Wisden wanted the book to compete with his former business partner-turned-rival Lillywhite’s The Guide To Cricketers.

English cricketer John Wisden
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

By 1872, he moved his shop to the other side of Leicester Square at 21 Cranbourn Street. At the time, Cranbourn Street connected St Martin’s Lane to Leicester Square, as Charing Cross Road did not exist until 1886. He expanded his business into manufacturing and retailing other sports equipment, as well as cricket. In April 1884, Wisden died of cancer in his flat above the shop aged 55. He passed away unmarried and childless, so his estate went to his sister. She sold the company to Wisden’s general manager Henry Luff (1856-1910), who went on to open a second store in Great Newport Street – just a few minutes walk away – in 1896.

Luff died in 1910 – the year Leicester Square tube station opened. Three houses on Cranbourn Street were compulsory purchased by tube bosses and demolished to make way for the new transport. The new station, which serviced the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway, was designed by architect Leslie Green (1875-1908), known for his signature style of ox-blood red tiling and semi-circular first-floor windows. Following the opening of the tube, the Wisden store was relocated in the new station. As a sign of Wisden’s respected reputation and standing, Green had incorporated Wisden signage into his iconic red tiling.

The Wisden store was subsequently run by Luff’s son Ernest and it received the royal warrant for their “appointment as Athletic Outfitters to the King”, George V, in 1911. Despite this honour, the station shop went on to close in 1928, with the nearby Great Newport Street branch hanging on longer until 1961. While the shops are long gone, Wisden’s publishing company still continues today and is now an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing. The Almanack is still published annually today and remains popular with cricket fans around the world.

  • The Wisden sign can be seen on the exterior of Exit 4 of Leicester Square tube station. Above Wok To Walk, 21 Cranbourn Street, Westminster, WC2H 7AA. Nearest station: Leicester Square.

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

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Talks, philantropy and more as Seven Dials marks International Women’s Day

© Seven Dials

Gemma Cairney will be hosting a live panel with Charlie Craggs, Dinny Hall, Jenny Scott, Olivia Wollenberg as part of Seven Dials’ International Women’s Day celebrations

Following the recent #MeToo movement, this year’s International Women’s Day is predicted to be the biggest ever. Although it’s still not a public holiday like in Cambodia and the Ukraine (we can dream…), there are a host of events on around the capital to celebrate woman power.

This year, Seven Dials will be hosting a week of events, launches and promotions focused on females. One of the highlights will be an ‘In Conversation With’ talk on International Women’s Day itself on 8 March. Presenter Gemma Cairney will be a hosting a free discussion with a varied panel of influential and progressive women to discuss IWD’s theme of ‘Press for Progress’. Taking place at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel, the panel will feature Trans activist and author Charlie Craggs; British jeweller Dinny Hall; Founder of Mothers Meeting Jenny Scott and Founder of Livia’s Kitchen, Olivia Wollenberg.

Throughout the rest of the week, the area’s boutiques, cafes and bars will be taking part with various activities and promotions. Rossopomodoro will be serving a special chocolate pannacotta with marmalade from CasaLorena, an Italian organisation who help women affected by domestic violence or sexual harassment. Neal’s Yard Remedies will be hosting create-your-own massage oil workshops and offering free hand and arm massages, superfood tasting and in-store discounts. Illustrator Morgan Seaford will be talking about her designs at Duke and Dexter, while jeweller Dinny Hall will be launching a Suffragette-inspired edit at the boutique. Meanwhile, steak restaurant and bar Hawksmoor Seven Dials have created a £6 ‘Sister Suffragette’ cocktail (Appleton Rum, Cocchi Rosa Vermouth, Lavender Bitters and Triple Sec). Throughout the week, Seven Dials have partnered with Hey Girls, who are campaigning to end period poverty in the UK.

  • National Women’s Day celebrations are taking place from 1 – 8 March 2018. At venues and stores around Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. The panel discussion takes place on 8 March at 7pm at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel. To claim your free ticket to the talk, enter the ballot on the Seven Dials website before 2 March at 6pm. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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

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