Category Archives: London

A decade of Memoirs of a Metro Girl!

Reflecting on a decade of blogging about London

Ten years ago today, Memoirs of a Metro Girl was launched! At the time, I was working as a digital journalist for a national newspaper and I was finding myself unfulfilled by some of the content I was writing. After a colleague told me about WordPress, I decided on a whim to launch my own blog. I had read a few other London blogs around at the time and many were written by newcomers or visitors to the capital. Blogs by tourists obviously have a very different view of London to myself, although hopefully they love the city as much I do. Having been born, grown up and spent my adult life in London, I hoped I could add a real insider’s insight to the capital, reflecting on how certain areas had changed over the years – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse! Admittedly, the blog went ‘live’ with only a couple of pages, when I should have built up more first… but hindsight is an amazing thing. I also cringe at the quality of my photos in those early posts, but thankfully camera phones have rapidly advanced and acquiring a SLR camera has also improved my imagery. I’ve also stopped getting embarrassed about taking photos of food in restaurants, despite some friends often rolling their eyes when I do so!

I initially wanted to cover events, pop-ups, bar and restaurant reviews in London as I played as hard as I worked. I was known amongst my friends and family for my wide knowledge of London and always had recommendations and tips to hand, from cocktail bars to hidden treasures. In addition to blogging about my hometown, I thought I would slip in the odd travel piece about my holidays – a topic area I have purposely neglected in recent years to focus specifically on the capital, preferring to just pop photos of my travels on my Instagram instead. Read the rest of this entry

Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Wembley Park at the Jubilee Dance Party

One day festival will see five stages across the north-west London neighbourhood on 4 June 2022.

Celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee at a dance party
© Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Grab your dancing shoes this summer as Wembley Park celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a dance party. The north-west London neighbourhood will be hosting five stages of live acts, DJs and dance leaders on Saturday 4 June 2022. Whether you want to see the professionals in action, or shake your tail feather instead, there’s something for everyone.

Along with dancing galore, there will be street food stalls, DJs, live music and family zones as Londoners come together to mark Queen Elizabeth II‘s 70 years on the throne. Across the stages across Olympic Way, there will be dance classes for all ages and abilities, showcasing different genres throughout the day.

One stage will feature live entertainment, including family shows and live bands. Families will have plenty to keep them occupied, including face painters, bubbleologists, circus acts, stilt walkers, street dancers and pavement artists. Aside from the entertainment, there will also be interactive areas, including photo booths, selfie stations and a giant photo wall of a digitally-generated portrait of Her Majesty, made of photos taken on the day.

  • Jubilee Dance Party takes place on 4 June 2022, from 12pm-7pm. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. Free entry. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

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Guide to what’s on in London in May 2022

Find out what festivals, events and exhibitions are on in the capital this spring, including prices and transport options.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Canalway Cavalcade returns to Little Venice

Spring is in full swing and the sunshine is really becoming a regular around town… thank goodness! This month, there’s only one bank holiday (2 May) as the later one has been bumped later to 2-3 June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. There’s also half-term holidays for kids from 30 May – 3 June.

With the rising cost of living biting many families’ pockets, there are plenty of free and affordable festivals and events on around London this May, such as the Herne Hill Free Film Festival, Eid in the Square and Canalway Cavalcade.

Here’s a guide to the best events, festivals and exhibitions on in London this May.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 29 April – 1 May 2021 : Italian Sparkling Wine Festival

Taste over 60 types of Italian wine from over 15 wine specialists. Open 4pm-10pm. Tickets: £20-£30 (inc bespoke Eataly wine glass and limited-edition pouch). Eataly, 135 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3YD. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For tickets, visit the Eataly website.

  • Now until 1 May 2022 : Marylebone Food Festival

Restaurants and cafes across Marylebone take part in a week-long foodie celebration. Featuring special festival menus, events and launch dinner hosted by Jay Rayner. At various venues in Marylebone Village, W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Marble Arch or Baker Street. For more information, visit the festival website.

  • 1 May 2022 : Queen’s Yard Summer Party 2022

Festival spread out across Hackney Wick features the best of local art, culture, wellness, food and drink. At various venues across E9, including The Yard, Number 90, Lord Napier Star, Colour Factory and more. For listings and more information, visit the party’s website.

  • 2 May 2022 : Beer and Bread Festival

Festival returns to the historic Brixton Windmill for the 5th year. Local businesses will be selling beer, ale, bread, pastries and bakes, while there will live music, craft workshops, children’s activities and meet-the-millers of the windmill. From 1pm-5pm. Free entry. Brixton Windmill, Windmill Gardens (west end of Blenheim Gardens, off Brixton Hill), Brixton, SW2 5EU. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Windmill website. 🐻

  • Now until 2 May 2022 : Canalway Cavalcade

A unique waterways and community festival at Little Venice. Features stalls, bands, kids’ activities, Morris dancers, a Real Ale bar, food and pageant of boats. Open 10am-5pm. Free. Little Venice, Maida Vale, W2. Nearest station: Warwick Avenue. For more information, visit the Inland Waterways Association websiteFor Metro Girl’s blog post on a previous year’s Cavalcade, click here. 🐻

  • Now until 2 May 2022 : La Linea

The London Latin Music Festival returns at venues across the capital. Venues include Ritzy Picturehouse, Rich Mix, Union Chapel, Jazz Cafe and more. For more information, visit the Como No website

  • 5 – 8 May 2022 : Affordable Art Fair – Hampstead

An event giving people a chance to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale at more affordable prices. Open Thur 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets from £11/£14. Hampstead Heath (Lower Fairground Site), East Heath Road, Hampstead, NW3 1TH. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath or Hampstead. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

  • 5 May – 29 August 2022 : Our Time On Earth

An immersive exploration of radical ideas for the way we live on Earth. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-8pm. Tickets: £18. Curve, Barbican Centre, City of London, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest stations: Moorgate or Barbican. For more information, visit the Barbican Centre website.

  • 7 May 2022 : Eid in the Square

Celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid and the end of Ramadan in Trafalgar Square, with traditional and contemporary entertainment, costumes, food stalls, workshops, sporting events, and tours. 12pm-6pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 5DN. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website. 🐻

  • Now until 8 May 2022 : Van Gogh Self-Portraits

Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraiture is explored in a new exhibition. Entry times from 10am-5.15pm. Tickets: Adults £16-£20, Under 18s free. The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 0RN. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. For tickets, visit the Courtauld Gallery website. 🐻

  • Now until 8 May 2022 : Grand Designs Live

Find inspiration to improve or build your home with experts and top brands. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: Standard advance £12-£15, Standard on-the-door – weekday £17, weekend £20. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest stations: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the show’s official website.

  • 9 – 15 May 2022 : London Craft Week

A celebration of craftsmanship, featuring over 250 makers, designers, brands and galleries, with workshops, exhibitions, open studios, tastings, galleries and shops. At various venues across the capital. For more information, visit the London Craft Week website.

  • 10 – 20 May 2022 : Herne Hill Free Film Festival

The free film festival returns to Herne Hill for the ninth year in a mini edition. Films include Tron, Another Round, The Father and more. Venues include Prince Regent pub, Canopy Beer, Herne Hill Velodrome, Herne Hill Baptist Church and effraspace. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more details, visit the Free Film Festival website. 🐻

  • 11 – 15 May 2022 : Photo London

Photography fair at Somerset House, featuring expanded exhibition spaces and the chance to experience a range of photographic practices. Tours and talks also available. Tickets: Adults from £29, Children under 13 free. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.

Dulwich Village Christ Chapel © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Dulwich Festival returns

  • 13 – 22 May 2022 : Dulwich Festival

After two years of a pared back festival due to Covid-19, the Dulwich Festival is back with a host of live events for its 29th year. With the theme of ‘Regeneration and Awakening’, there will be over 40 events, including live music, theatre, talks, fairs, local history, guided walks, workshops, street art walks, family events and more. At various locations in Dulwich Village, East Dulwich and West Dulwich, SE21 and SE22. Nearest stations: West Dulwich (12 mins from Victoria) and East Dulwich (13 mins from London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the Dulwich Festival website. 🐻

  • 14 – 16 May 2022 : Art Car Boot Fair

Shop for art from 120 artists, as well as live painting, portrait-making, games, raffles, a bar and live performances. Open Sat 14 2pm-7pm, online only Sun and Mon. Tickets: £15 (free after 5pm). Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, N1C. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Art Car Boot Fair website.

  • 15 May 2022 : Urban Village Fete

A contemporary twist on a traditional village fair featuring stalls, music, DJs, dance, art & design workshops and street food. From 11am-7pm. Free entry. Central Park, Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, SE10. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Greenwich Peninsula website. 🐻

  • 19 – 22 May 2022 : Sci-Fi London Film Festival

The annual celebration of the sci-fi genre returns to east London, featuring premieres, talks and screenings. Stratford Picturehouse, Salway Road, Stratford, E15 1BX. Nearest station: Stratford. For more information, visit the Sci-London Film Festival website.

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Guide to what’s on in London in April 2022

Find out what’s on in London in April, including the Oxbridge boat race, the Vaisakhi festival and the London Games Festival.

April 2022 is sure to be a whole lot better than 2021, when the UK was in the middle of a phased exit from lockdown. With the weather getting warmer and summer fast approaching, London’s festival and event calendar is really kicking off.

This year, Easter weekend falls on 15-18 April so expect the capital to really come to life with a host of family and chocolate-themed activities. There is also an early May bank holiday weekend starting on 30 April.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 31 March – 3 April 2022 : London Coffee Festival

Java lovers should head to the East End for this four celebration of coffee. Featuring tastings, coffee masters, food & wine pairing, Global Coffee School, DJs and more. Entry times via timed sessions. Thu and Fri daytime for industry only. Open to public: Fri 4pm-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets from £24. Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Aldgate East. For more information and tickets, visit the London Coffee Festival website.

  • 1 – 2 April 2022 : The Creative Craft Show

An event for stitchers, sewers and hobbycrafters, featuring workshops, demonstrations and talks. Open 10am-4pm. Tickets: Adults from £10, Children free if accompanied by an adult. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest stations: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the show’s official website.

  • 1 – 3 April 2022 : London Spanish Film Festival – Spring Weekend

Three day film event ahead of the London Spanish Film Festival in September, featuring several new Spanish language releases. Tickets TBA. Cine Lumiere, 17 Queensberry Place, Kensington, SW7 2DT. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the London Spanish Film Festival website.

  • 1 – 10 April 2022 : London Games Festival

In-person and online festival to promote gaming and interactive entertainment, including a Trafalgar Square exhibition, LGF World Stage, Games Finance Market, the Now Play This exhibition, BAFTA Games Awards, industry talks, and more. For more information, visit the Games London website. 🐻

  • 1 – 18 April 2022 : Dino Kingdom

Enjoy an immersive pre-historic adventure with life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs, augmented reality, 3D mapping technology exhibits, excavation site, fun fair, food and drink and more. Open daily 10am-4pm (timed entry). Tickets: Adults £14/£17, Children 3-15 yrs £12/£15, infants free. Dino Kingdom London, Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, W3 8LQ. Nearest stations: GunnersburySouth Ealing or Acton Town. For more information, visit the Dino Kingdom website. 🐻

  • 1 April – 4 September 2022 : 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework

Retrospective exhibition of one of the country’s oldest arts organisations. Open 11am-6pm. Tickets: £12.65. Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF. Nearest stations: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the museum website.

  • Now until 2 April 2022 : Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival

The 12th annual beer festival returns to SW18, featuring 100 beers and 25 ciders to sample. Also featuring live entertainment. Open Wed 6pm-11pm, Thu 1pm-11pm, Fri 12.30pm-11pm, Sat 1pm-11pm. Tickets: £10-£40. Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, John Archer Way, Wandsworth, SW18 3SX. Nearest station: Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Town or Wandsworth Common. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.

  • 2 – 19 April 2022 : Power UP

Interactive gaming events explores five decades of video games and consoles. For ages 5 and over. Tickets from £8. Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD. Nearest station: South Kensington. For tickets and more information, visit the Science Museum website. 🐻

  • 3 April 2022 : Oxbridge Boat Race

Watch the historic annual boat race between the Cambridge and Oxford University crews. Thousands will line the banks between Putney Bridge and Mortlake to watch the action. Women’s boat race @ 2.23pm and Men’s boat race @ 3.23pm. Free. Nearest stations: Putney Bridge, Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, East Putney, Chiswick or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the Boat Race website. 🐻

  • 5 – 26 April 2022 : The Arks of Gimokudan

Filipino artist-designer Leeroy New presents his first UK large-scale installation to mark Earth Day 2022. The installation will feature three ships made of recycled and reused materials and waste. Free. Somerset House courtyard, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻

  • 7 April 2022 : SicilyFEST London 2022

A celebration of Sicily and its food, wine, produce and culture. Also featuring a kids’ area and DJs. Open Thur 5.30pm-10pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: £2.50 (advance), £3 (on the door). Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the FeverUp website. 🐻

  • 7 – 10 April 2022 : Roy’s Art Fair

Roy’s Art Fair returns, aiming to make art more affordable and accessible. Meet and buy direct from the artists, take part in workshops and check out installations. Open Thur 5pm–8.30pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat 12pm–6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Free. At Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Blackfriars or Southwark. For more information, visit the Roy’s People Art Fair website.

  • 7 – 12 April 2022 : F R A G M E N T S Festival

An experiential festival featuring short events dotted across the City celebrating the 100th anniversary of T S Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. Tickets: £20 (all-access). Events take place at 22 City of London churches. For more information, visit the festival’s website.

  • 8 – 10 April 2022 : Now Play This 2022

Festival of experimental games returns to the capital. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £9/£6.50 conc. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻

  • 8 – 10 April 2022 : Ceramic Art London

Contemporary arts event, featuring exhibitions, talks, and opportunities the buy. Open Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £16, Children free. Central St Martins, Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Ceramic Art London website.

  • 8 April – 29 August 2022 : Football – Designing the Beautiful Game

Explore the stories of design from the world of football. Open Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm. Tickets: Adults from £16.80. Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, W8 6AG. Nearest stations: Earls Court, High Street Kensington or Holland Park. For booking, visit the Design Museum website.

  • 8 April – 11 September 2022 : Inspired!

Exhibition explores how visual artists have taken inspiration from the literary arts. Opening hours TBC. Tickets: £8. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition.

  • Now until 10 April 2022 : Telegraph Hill Festival

Arts and entertainment festival in South East London, including music, open studios, art shows, interactive exhibits, classes, workshops, talks, literary events, plays, performance art and music events. Lots of events are free, but some will cost. At various venues across New Cross, Nunhead, Hatcham, Brockley and Honor Oak. For more information, visit the Telegraph Hill festival website. 🐻

  • 11 April – 26 October 2022 : Magnificent Maps of London

London Metropolitan Archives show off their historical map collection in a new exhibition. Featuring maps from the 16th century to present day. Open Mon-Thu 10am-4pm. Free entry. London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HB. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the City of London.gov.uk website.

  • 12 April – 31 May 2022 : Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY)

Check out 138 photographs of landscapes and people from around the world in an outdoor exhibition. Open 24/7. Free. Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the TPOTY website. 🐻

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Exploring the stories behind the art | Inspired! exhibition launches at Guildhall Art Gallery

Exhibition explores the theatre, literature and music which has inspired the visual arts.

The ‘Old Drury Lane Theatre on Fire’ by Abraham Pether (1809) is one of the artworks in the Inspired! exhibition

Artists find inspiration in many places, often in real-life subjects, such as people or landscapes. However, there’s a wealth of artworks which have grown from the fictional – be it theatre, literature and music. Launching this spring at the Guildhall Art Gallery is a new exhibition which explores the way artists have turned to poetry, plays, novels and music to inspire their work.

A large section of Inspired! will focus on Victorian story-telling. Much of the period’s artwork was nostalgic in reaction to the Industrial Revolution with artists looking back to simpler times, thanks to William Shakespeare‘s works, Medieval folktales and Greek myths. For example, Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of actor John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) as Coriolanus in the Bard’s tragedy. Meanwhile, the burning of Drury Lane Theatre in 1808 was depicted by Abraham Pether’s painting the following year.

For those who enjoy Pre-Raphaelite art, pieces by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) found inspiration in the Romantic poets and the work of John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. Also at the exhibition include works inspired by the likes of Sir Walter Scott, Chopin, Joseph Addison, among many others.

  • Inspired! Art inspired by theatre, literature and music runs from 8 April – 11 September 2022. Opening times TBC. Tickets: £8. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website.

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Guide to what’s on in London in March 2022

Find out what’s on in the capital, including art fairs, Secret Cinema’s Bridgerton experience and the Ideal Home Show.

Kew Gardens Palm House daffodils © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Spring is in the air… well at least it’s supposed to be! With March having notoriously erratic weather, fortunately London has plenty of indoor festivals, exhibitions and events on this month. 

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 3 – 6 March 2022 : The Stitch Festival

Haberdashery festival featuring hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, interactive features and 200 exhibitors selling specialist craft supplies. Open 9.30am-5.30pm. Tickets: Adults £15.50, Children £7.50. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Stitch Festival website.

  • Now until 6 March 2022 : Orchid Festival @ Kew Gardens

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by Costa Rica. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: Adults £15, Children (4-15yr) £5. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • Now until 6 March 2022 : Beano – The Art of Breaking the Rules

Exhibition of Britain’s naughtiest kid and the comic’s history. Explore original artwork and artefacts. Open Sat, Sun & Tue 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri 11am-8pm. Tickets: Adults £16, concs £12.50, Under 6s free. Embankment Galleries (South Wing), Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻

  • Now until 9 March 2022 : The Green Planet AR Experience

Enjoy an immersive, augmented reality experience with Sir David Attenborough as you explore the green planet. Open Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sun 10am-8pm. Free entry, but book a time slot in advance. 55 Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, W1 5RF. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Green Planet Experience website. 🐻

  • 10 – 13 March 2022 : Affordable Art Fair – Battersea Spring

A chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging from £50 to £7,500. Tickets: £10-£27. Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

  • 11 – 13 March 2022 : WOW – Women of the World

A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Marian Keyes, Lisa Taddeo, Pandora Sykes, Patrisse Calours, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Warsan Shire, Deborah Frances-White and Elizabeth White among the featured names. Events range from free to £38. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 11 – 13 March 2022 : Move It

The world’s biggest dance event featuring performances, classes, workshops, shopping, and talks by experts from all genres, including Layton Williams, Dane Bates, Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, Dark Angels, Flawless, Jess Baddie, Josh Denyer, Josh Wharmby, Kloe Dean and more. Day tickets: Adults from £21, Children from £16.50 (show and class tickets also available). ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Custom House or Prince Regent. For more information, visit the Move It website. 🐻 © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

  • 11 – 27 March 2022 : Ideal Home Show

A place of inspiration for homeowners including interiors, fittings and gardens. Includes plenty of opportunities to buy things both big and small for the house and food. Celebrity guests and experts include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Phil Spencer, Martin Lewis, David Domoney, Rosemary Shrager, Lisa Faulkner, Melissa Helmsley, and many more. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Advance tickets (more on the door): Weekday £14 or Weekend £16, Children 15 yrs and younger free (Tickets also include free access to the Eat & Drink Festival). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more tickets, visit the Ideal Home Show website. Read the rest of this entry

Palace, Prison and Poorhouse | The story of Bridewell in the City of London

Originally built as a Tudor palace, the name ‘Bridewell’ has now become synonymous with prisons around the world.

Bridewell Palace 14 New Bridge Street © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020

Office block 14 New Bridge Street incorporates the rebuilt gatehouse

Today, the City of Westminster is associated with royal residences, with Buckingham and St James’s Palaces and Clarence House located in the borough. Although it’s been some time since British monarchs resided in the City of London, there are still reminders of former royal abodes to be found within the Square Mile. While the Tower of London is an obvious historic relic of the royal City, there is also another less noticeable remainder just over a mile away.

A relief portrait of King Edward VI

Situated on the busy A201 road, leading north from Blackfriars Bridge, is Bridewell Court. It consists of a 19th century gatehouse, which forms an entrance to an office building, currently home to a law firm. If you look above the archway, you’ll spot a clue to the site’s fascinating history: a relief portrait of King Edward VI (1537-1553). 

Bridewell Palace was built in the 16th century on the site of St Bride’s Inn, on the banks of the River Fleet. It was a huge site, spanning south from the existing gatehouse towards where the Unilever building on the Embankment stands today. The structure was the main London residence for King Henry VIII (1491-1547) during the early part of his reign in 1515-1523 after acquiring the site from Cardinal Wolsey (1473-1530). The palace complex comprised of three-storey royal lodgings surrounding two courtyards. A bridge led from the palace over the Fleet to the Dominican priory of Blackfriars. Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) lodged at Bridewell while the validity of their marriage was being debated at Blackfriars when the King was hoping to re-marry Anne Boleyn. By the 1530s, it was leased to the French Ambassador. Following Henry VIII’s death, the property passed onto the ownership of his son, Edward VI.

British Library via Wikimedia Commons

Bridewell Palace, 1666.
(From Old and New London, Illustrated, by Walter Thornbury)

During his short reign, Edward VI gave Bridewell to the City authorities in 1553 to be used as a women’s prison, workhouse and orphanage for homeless children. Many of the female prisoners sent to Bridewell were prostitutes. By 1556, the complex also included a hospital. In 1557, Bridewell was paired with Bethlehem Hospital (aka ‘Bedlam’) in Bishopsgate for administrative purposes. However, as with most buildings in the area, the Bridewell complex was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, but was rebuilt soon after. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in February 2022

Find out what events, festivals and exhibitions are on in London.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014Last February was a bit of a wash-out thanks to lockdown, so no doubt many Londoners will be looking forward to getting out and about. This month sees plenty of festivals and exhibitions, including the launch of the Beatrix Potter at the V&A and the return of the Orchid Festival to Kew Gardens.

Of course, halfway through the month is Valentine’s Day so plenty of spaces will be offering romantic events, while others will be giving singles the opportunities to have some fun. During February, expect to see some family-friendly activites and events during half-term.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 2 February – 18 April 2022 : Bob Marley – One Love Experience

An immersive experience celebrating the late, great singer, along with previously unseen photographs and memorabilia. Open Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets: Standard £18/£24, Children 9-14 yrs £10, Under 8s free when accompanying an adult. Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For tickets, visit the Saatchi Gallery website. 🐻

  • 3 February – 8 May 2022 : Van Gogh Self-Portraits

Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraiture is explorer in a new exhibition. Entry times from 10am-5.15pm. Tickets: Adults £16-£20, Under 18s free. The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 0RN. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. For tickets, visit the Courtauld Gallery website.

  • 5 February – 6 March 2022 : Orchid Festival @ Kew Gardens

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by Costa Rica. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: Adults £15, Children (4-15yr) £5. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • Now until 6 February 2022 : London International Mime Festival

Festival at various events across London including performances of physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Workshops also available. Tickets range from £13-£45. Venues include the Barbican, Jacksons Lane, Sadler’s Wells, Puppet Theatre Barge, Shoreditch Town Hall, The Peacock and The Place. For more information, visit the Mime London website. 🐻

  • 9 – 22 February 2022 : Imagine Children’s Festival

Two week children’s festival at the Southbank Centre, including art, theatre, books, music, performances and workshops. Including Julia Donaldson, Francesca Simon, Steve May, Michelle Harrison, YolanDa and more. 10.30am-4pm daily. Many activities and events are free, but some go up to £20. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking visit the Southbank Centre website. 🐻

  • 10 – 13 February 2022 : Classical Vauxhall

Series of classical music concerts returns to Vauxhall, featuring the music of Brahms, Schubert, Shostakovich, and more. From 8pm. Tickets: £20. St Peter’s Church, 310 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HY. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the BeInVauxhall website.

  • 10 – 12 February 2022 : Ealing Music and Film Festival 2022

Scaled down version of the annual festival in Ealing. Events take place at The Old Library or St Barnabas Church. Tickets range from free to £20. Nearest stations: Ealing Broadway or South Ealing. For booking, visit the Ealing Music & Film website.

  • 11 – 13 February 2022 : Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show

Bike festival, featuring the latest bikes and launches, a Rossi tribute, bike kit deals, fire-ups and racing. Open Fri 11 10am-5pm, Sat 12 9am-6pm, Sun 13 9am-5pm. ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information and tickets, visit the MCN Motorcycle Show website.

  • 11 – 20 February 2022 : City Lights

Light and sound installations come to the Square Mile. From 5.30pm-10pm. Free. At various locations across the City of London. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Mansion House or Cannon Street. For more information, visit the City of London website.

  • 11 February – 9 March 2022 : The Green Planet AR Experience

Enjoy an immersive, augmented reality experience with Sir David Attenborough as you explore the green planet. Open Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thur-Sun 10am-8pm. Free entry, but book a time slot in advance. 55 Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, W1 5RF. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Green Planet Experience website.

  • 11 February – 12 March 2022 : Spaces of Light and Colour

Never before seen paintings by Ulrich Erben, from his early work until more recent creations. Open: Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest stations: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the Bastian Gallery website. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in January 2022

Find out what events, festivals and exhibitions are on in the capital as the new year kicks off.

Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2022 is way better than 2021 and 2020 (although, let’s face it, that won’t be hard, will it?!). Although January is one of London’s quieter months for special events and festivals, there’s still plenty on to keep you occupied during your free time.

As well as the last few days and weeks of festive events like Winter Wonderland and Winterfest at Wembley, there is also plenty of arts events. The Vault fringe festival is making its long-awaited return, along with the London International Mime Festival and the London Short Film Festival. In the early part of January, there’s still opportunities to catch some of the festive entertainment, including pantomimes, ballets and other theatre productions.

Find out what special events, exhibitions and festivals are on around the capital this January 2022. However, it’s recommended to check the events’ social media or websites before heading out as some may be impact by Covid-19 rules or cancellations.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 1 January 2022 : New Year’s Day Parade

Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to gather to watch 10,000 performers from around the world. Starts from Piccadilly’s Berkeley Street at 12pm, ending at Parliament Square at 3.30pm. Free. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Westminster or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Parade website🐻

  • Now until 2 January 2022 : Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition

Explore the Vatican’s majestic chapel in an immersive experience, featuring the iconic ceiling paintings, which have been reproduced with HD photography. Open Wed-Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults from £11, Children from £8. Cannon Factory. Ashley Road, Tottenham, N17 9LH. Nearest station: Tottenham Hale. For tickets, visit the exhibition website. 🐻

  • Now until 2 January 2022 : Summer Exhibition 2021 @ Royal Academy of Arts

The delayed summer 2021 exhibition features over 1,300 works from new and established artists. Open Tues–Sun: 10am-6pm. Tickets: £20–£22. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the RA website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition.

Last Orders by Leigh Banks is one the many pieces on display at the Summer Exhibition 2021
  • Now until 3 January 2022 : Winter Wonderland

The south east corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a festive fair with rides, food and drink stalls, ice rink, the Magical Ice Kingdom, Cirque Berserk, Zippos Christmas Circus, Bar Ice, Ice Sculpting Workshops, Santa Land, Real Ice Slide, and more. Open 10am-10pm daily. Tickets (must be pre-booked): Peak £5-£7.50, Off-peak free. Entrance fee waived if you spend over £20 on attractions, rides or games in advance. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. 🐻

  • Now until 3 January 2022 : Winter Night Garden @ Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema’s permanent home has been transformed into a magical festive garden for one of its two winter cinematic experiences (the other being the Snow Kingdom). Walk through a magical wardrobe and travel through an enchanted forest to reach the big screen, which will be showing festive favourites and new releases. Tickets range from £10.50-£29.99. Backyard Cinema’s Capital Studios, Ram Quarter, 13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town or East Putney. For more information and booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website. 🐻

  • Now until 3 January 2022 : Palace of Stardust @ Hampton Court Palace

A spectacular new light trail illuminates the historic Hampton Court Palace, as it winds around the gardens. Expect illuminations, projects and festive food and drink. Open daily 4pm-8pm (closed 11, 24-26 Dec). Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children £8, under 5s free. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). To book, visit the Hampton Court Palace website. 🐻

Read the rest of this entry

Merry Christmas to MoaMG readers | What’s on in London if you’re staying put

A round-up of what’s on in London during the 2021 festive period.

Just a short blog post to wish readers of Memoirs of a Metro Girl a safe and Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! As the pandemic continues to rumble on, some people may be isolating over the festive period or scaling down their plans – I am certainly doing the latter.

If you’re like me and are staying in the London over the Christmas and New Year period, there are still plenty of events and activities on around town to keep you entertained. Of course, many venues may have amended their Covid-19 precautions, such as limiting numbers, requiring masks and asking for proof of vaccination or negative tests. Other venues have decided to close as well so always check their websites or social media accounts before heading out.

Here’s some ideas of what’s on in London during Christmas and New Year:

– Follow the Illuminature lights trail around the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes

– Fans of the Fab Four can check out unseen photographs of The Beatles at the Shapero Modern gallery in Mayfair.

– Check out the Winterfest light festival in Wembley.

– Try out a spot of curling in King’s Cross.

– Head to the theatre to watch one of the capital’s pantomimes, ballets or other festive shows.

– Enjoy the contemporary art at the Sculpture in the City exhibition in the City of London.

 – Go skating on one of London’s outdoor ice rinks.

– Peruse the eclectic art at the last few days of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

– Bring your kids to pose with their favourite movie heroes at the Scenes in the Square trail in Leicester Square.

Stay safe and enjoy the festive period!

Metro Girl

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