Street art has been gaining a newfound respect in recent years thanks to the likes of Banksy and Stik. However, of course there is another kind of ‘street art’… as in someone on the street creating art. While crossing Hungerford Bridge today, I spotted an artist painting the London Eye and Southbank. I rarely see artists creating work outside these days so it was a pleasant surprise to see a painter in action. Hope he was pleased with the finished article…
While Christmas is fast becoming a distant memory already, it’s probably a bit premature to be thinking about Easter. However, it’s never too early to think about eating chocolate eggs! This January, a rather exciting pop-up is coming to the capital to lift us out of the winter doldrums.
With Easter approaching, you may have noticed Cadbury Creme Eggs appearing more prominent on shelves in recent days. Fresh from the new Cadbury Creme Egg advert, the travelling Hunting Lodge will be going on tour, with three dates in the capital. Creme egg fans will have the chance to enjoy an immersive chocolate experience.
The Hunting Lodge will feature a display of Creme Egg hunting paraphernalia, the chance for guests to hone their hunting skills and chow down on a range of Creme Egg inspired treats. The cosy outdoor area will feature four choco-tastic dishes for diners to sample, including:
- Gooey Creme Egg S’mores – gooey Creme Egg pieces and a giant marshmallow, sandwiched between two toasted biscuits.
- Creme Egg Hunters’ Hot Choc – Cadbury hot chocolate, with melted Creme Egg added in.
- Creme Egg Forest Fridge Cake – crushed biscuits, nuts and apricots, coated in a thick layer of Cadbury chocolate, topped with Creme Egg pieces.
- Creme Black Forest Toastie – Creme Eggs mixed with black cherries, sandwiched between golden toast.
There will also be a takeaway area for those in a rush, serving Creme Egg S’mores to-go. Meanwhile, 100% of the proceeds at the Lodge will be donated to the Prince’s Trust Charity.
- The Cadbury Creme Egg Hunting Lodge will stop at the Coca-Cola London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB on 27 January (4.50pm-9pm) and 25-26 February 2017 (1.50pm-6pm). The lodge will also be touring Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh. For more information, visit the Facebook event page, or tweet @CadburyUK using the hashtag #CremeEggHuntingSeason, or booking, check out Eventbrite.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
With December only a week away, it’s no surprise that many London attractions are getting a festive makeover in the run up to Christmas. One such landmark taking part in the Yuletide fun is the London Eye, with their Frostival returning for the third year. I went to the launch last week and it really got me in the festive spirit.
For those of you budding Torvill and Deans, the Eyeskate open-air ice rink is back so you can glide across the ice under the shadow of the twinkling London Eye. Seasoned skaters are welcome to bring their own skates or you can borrow a pair. There’ll also be a bar serving drinks for after you’ve caught your breath.
Meanwhile, for those who prefer their ice strictly with a drink instead, visitors can enjoy a special Winter Cocktail Experience on the London Eye. The award-winning Cocktail Trading Co will be mixing up special drinks, such as a ‘Merry Stockings’, a ‘Candy Cobbler’ or a ‘Punsch and Judy’ for you to sip while enjoying stunning views of the capital in one of the Eye’s pods. You’ll also enjoy priority boarding, one hour on the Eye and some nibbles.
For those in the mood for romance, two can enjoy the Mistletoe Cupid’s Capsule. You’ll be hosted in your very own pod with chilled Pommery Brut Royal Champagne and luxury Hotel Chocolat pink Champagne truffles, with a bouquet of mistletoe strategically placed for a kiss or two!
- Eyeskate is taking place from 14 November – 2 January 2016, while the Winter Cocktail Experience is available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only from 14 November – 2 January 2016. Eyeskate tickets start £9.45 (adults) and £6.75 (children). London Eye ticket upgrades from £9. London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the London Eye website.
Welcome to part 1 of ‘Metro Girl’s Must Do’ series, a guide to my essential sights or activities to do during your visit to London. Many tourists may only spend a few days in the capital before escaping to the likes of Oxford or Bath or jumping over the English Channel to see the continent. So if time is of the essence and you’re torn between where to go, this is my opinion on London’s top attractions.
1: London Eye
Although the London Eye has only stood in the capital since 2000, it has quickly integrated into the city’s skyline and is now an iconic piece of ‘architecture’, with its silhouette appearing on postcards and T-shirts at tourist shops. Situated in front of the former County Hall building, casting a shadow on Jubilee Gardens, the London Eye is located on the South Bank of the Thames. Although The Shard can now boast higher viewing platforms, the London Eye’s close proximity to Westminster means it is often favoured by tourists looking to see those famous London landmarks such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
The Eye itself is a huge Ferris wheel of sorts – but with capsules you can move around in instead of little passenger cars. There are 32 capsules – one for each London borough – and can hold up to 25 people at a time. The 135 metre (443 foot) high wheel is generally constantly moving during operating hours, but moves alongside the boarding platform slowly enough for passengers to board. Although I have heard many friends fear being travel sick or scared of heights, it moves so slowly it shouldn’t be an issue. If you are feeling a bit nervous of the height, the bench in the middle means you can observe the views without feeling insecure standing against the floor to ceiling glass walls. The rotation pattern of the London Eye means you will see North-East (ish) first before finishing looking South West over the 30 minute journey.
The London Eye is open all year round and I myself have been on it at different times of day and different seasons. While summer is a great time to visit, it is incredibly popular so you may find you spend time queuing or have to book tickets far in advance. With this in mind, the Spring is probably the best time to go. If its heavy rain, I would say don’t bother at all, and low cloud will also diminish the views. I highly recommend timing your visit for just before sunset and watching London start to twinkle as the lights come on. You can buy guides that can help you find landmarks across the city, even Wembley Stadium or the Olympic Stadium on a really clear day. While I’ve known friends to dismiss the London Eye as ‘so touristy’, it’s a great place to start your trip to London to give you a feel for the city and how it is spread out.
After you’ve disembarked, there’s plenty of other attractions nearby, including the London Aquarium, London Dungeons or London Film Museum. Alternatively, you could walk along the South Bank to the many bars and restaurants around the Southbank Centre and beyond. During the Christmas season, there is also an open-air ice rink under the gaze of the wheel.
- Standard tickets start from adults £19.20 (walk up) or £17.28 (online), children £12.30 (walk up) or £11.07 (online). Tickets can be bought from the Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. Opening times vary depending on season. For more information, visit the London Eye website.
For Part 2 of Metro Girl’s Must Do series on Borough Market, click here.
Or for Metro Girl’s review of the nearby London Dungeon, click here.
Open air ice rinks have been rising in popularity over the past 10 years. In December, I can’t think of many activities more festive than going ice-skating with friends, family or a date, before warming up afterwards with a hot chocolate or mulled wine. While there’s a handful of permanent ice rinks open all year round, from late November until early January, a host of iconic venues host pop-up ice rinks. Here’s a guide to some of the rinks open this season. Although walks up may be possible, I recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment, especially at weekends and Christmas holidays. (NB: Most ice rinks will be closed on Christmas Day and early closing on Christmas Eve).
For the updated 2014 guide, click here.
- Natural History Museum Ice Rink
A 950 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Open from 2 November until 6 January 2013. Mon-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm. Adults £11.50/£13.50, Children 12 and under £8/£9. Nearest tube: South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly line). To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.
- Skate at Somerset House
One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Open from 16 November until 6 January 2013. Session times last an hour and are bookable from 10am until 9.15pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Adults £12.50/£15.00, Children £7.50. Nearest tube: Temple (Circle and District line). To book, visit the Somerset House website.
A newer addition to the open air ice rinks is the raised rink in the park shadowed by the London Eye. Open from 17th November until 6 January 2013. Open daily from 10am until 9pm. Session times last 45 minutes . Adults £10.50 (£9.45 online), Children £7.50 (£6.75 online). Nearest tube: Waterloo (Overland, Jubilee or Bakerloo line) or Embankment (Circle, District or Northern Line). To book, visit the Eyeskate website.
- Ice Rink Canary Wharf
In the middle of the soaring skyscrapers on Canary Wharf and surrounded by shops is another pop-up rink. Open from 3rd November until 13 January 2013. Session times last 1 hour. First session times vary from 9.45am/10.45am ending at 11pm most nights. Adults £12.50, Children £8.50. Nearest tube Canary Wharf (Jubilee line). To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.
- Tower Of London Ice Rink
Skate in the moat of one of the most iconic and historic buildings in the capital. Open from 17th November until 6th January 2013. Session times last 1 hour. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £11/£13, Children £8.50/£9. Nearest tube Tower Hill (Circle or District Line). To book, visit the Tower of London Ice Rink website.
- Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
Skate in front of King Henry VIII’s favourite London residence. Session times last 1 hour. Open from 1st December until 13th January 2013. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £11/£12.50, Children £8.50/£9. Nearest train Hampton Court (overland from Waterloo). To book, visit the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink website.
- Ice Age 4 Ice Rink @ Winter Wonderland
A pop-up ice rink at the annual Winter Wonderland in the south east corner of Hyde Park. Session times last 1 hour. Open from 23rd November until 6th January 2013. First sessions start at 10am, last session starts at 9pm. Adults £10.50/£13.50, Children £8.50/£9.50. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line). To book, visit the Winter Wonderland website. For a sneak peek, check out MOAMG blog posting on Winter Wonderland.
- Broadgate Ice
Temporary ice rink at Broadgate Circle in the City of London where you can actually turn up and skate without a need to book. Open from 9 November until 24th February 2013. Weekday sessions 12.15-9pm, weekends 9.30am-9pm. Adults £9, Children £7, Skate Hire £2. Nearest tube: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit Broadgate’s website.
For more fun things to do around London this January and February, read my blog post Guide to what’s on in London in January and February 2013.
This gallery contains 10 photos.
As a lifelong fan of London’s Southbank, I have always known it is the place to be on a warm summer day. But this weekend, thousands were drawn to the riverbanks for the annual Thames Festival. Coinciding with the climax of the Paralympic games, this year’s festival was no doubt the biggest and best yet. The […]
I have a complicated relationship with boats – which I include ferries, canoes and general waterway transport under that general term. As a child, I spent many hours on ferries to Ireland and France for holidays with my family and used to enjoy the trips. Then one day as a teenager, I suddenly developed seasickness, which still plagues me now if I don’t take precautions.
Despite my body’s physical reaction to boat trips, in my mind I still love to be at sea or on the river. I love the views and different perspective you can get of a place you know so well from a boat and the general romanticism of travelling on one. I love canoeing, the few cruises I have done I have enjoyed and I’m a qualified scuba-diver, which obviously means going on a boat.
Generally, those who suffer from seasickness will attest it’s usually worse on the open sea than on a river. I have a close relative who actually lives on a house boat on the River Thames and I admit to feeling slightly queasy when the tide moves in or out making the boat shift with it.
However, despite my ups and downs with sea travel, whenever the temperatures soar in London during our heatwaves, I always recommend the River Thames as the best place to be. The river is generally always the coolest place in the capital all year around – in the winter there’s a blistering cold wind, while in the summer it is transformed into a ‘cooling breeze’ while the rest of the capital sweats it out.
So when we had our mini heatwave in late May, which happened to fall on my lieu day off work, I suggested a river cruise with my friend @missgeorgieanne. I had previously been down the river about six or seven years ago (during another heatwave when it was around 33C I seem to recall) and have fond memories of it. This time round, it was supposed to be about 29C, but it was very humid and felt even hotter.
Before hitting Westminster Pier – where most of river cruising companies have ticket booths and start from, I did some research on the internet. National Rail (overland trains) have teamed up with a majority of London tourist attractions (and some shops, theatre productions and restaurants) to offer discounts – some as much as half-price. So if you’re starting a journey from an overland train station either in or out of London, keep hold of your ticket, visit the Days Out Guide website and sign up for the appropriate voucher.
So armed with my voucher and my paper travelcard, I was able to buy a reduced ‘Rover’ ticket (unlimited hop on, hop off) for City Cruises for my friend and I (Top tip: Buy the ticket online from City Cruises website and it’s even cheaper). With it being glorious sunshine, we headed for the open deck and landed a plum seat in the front row with an uninterrupted view of the shimmering waters (yes, I know the Thames looks a bit murky, but when the sun shines it really does glimmer!). One thing that appealed to me about City Cruises is that is has a licensed bar so it was cider on ice all round – we even inspired some American tourists seated behind us to order the same.
Setting off down river on the trip to Greenwich Pier – stopping at Tower Hill on the way – we were given a commentary by one of the crew. Although they say it isn’t an official guided tour – there aren’t any multi-lingual options unfortunately – the crewmember was very informative and funny. Having grown up in the city, my friend and I are bona-fide Londoners and assumed we would know much of the information provided, but were pleasantly surprised with our new discoveries. For example, the London Eye has 32 pods – one for each of the London boroughs. I’ve been on the London Eye about seven to nine times (with friends and relatives from abroad) and I had never heard that fact. While I’m mentioning the London Eye, I must recommend it as one of my top 5 tourist attractions in London. It moves nice and slowly for those worried about feeling sick (despite my seasickness – I actually love heights) and the 360 degree views around London are stunning.
We cruised on past the Savoy Hotel, Cleopatra’s Needle (Click here for Metro Girl’s blog on the history of Cleopatra’s Needle), the Royal Festival Hall, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral and under the ‘wibbly wobbly bridge, aka the Millennium Bridge, which links St Paul’s with the Tate Modern and gives a great view of the river and Tower Bridge.
Although not one of our most decorated or admired, Waterloo Bridge is known for having one of the best views of the river out of all the bridges. However, cruising underneath it, my memory was jolted with a fact I had long forgotten that it was actually built by women during World War II, so is often referred to as the ‘ladies bridge’. I have a special fondness for Waterloo Bridge personally as I used to spend my half-term and summer holidays as a child playing on the South Bank nearby.
During a short stop at Tower Pier – where customers are free to disembark if they want to visit the Tower Of London, we were treated to a good view of the Traitor’s Gate from the river. Many centuries ago, prisoners would arrive at the Tower via boat and would pass through the traitor’s gate – a declaration of what they were perceived to be by The Crown, whether they were innocent or guilty. Of all those who passed through, the chance of leaving the Tower alive were very rare. During the stop of Tower Pier, the boat turned side on to face Tower Bridge, giving a great view of the 19th century bascule/suspension bridge. Although I visited the interior only six months ago on the Tower Bridge Experience, it looked like it had a bit of clean-up since in anticipation of the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant, which took place a week after my cruise. On the Southbank near Blackfriars Bridge, a building called Sea Container’s House
was in the process of being draped with a giant Jubilee wrap featuring the Queen and her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during her 1977 Silver Jubilee. When we passed it on the way back to Westminster Pier, everyone had been unfurled except the Queen herself (although I, and the Royal Family of course got to see it on the rainy Jubilee Sunday during the flotilla a week later when I ended up finding a spot on the north bank of Blackfriars Bridge so right opposite the wrap).
Ninety minutes later after setting off from Westminster, we arrived at Greenwich Pier. We were pleased to be greeted with the newly restored Cutty Sark. Londoners were saddened when the world’s last remaining tea clipper was badly damaged during a fire in 2007 – a few days after I had last visited it actually. However, the phoenix has well and truly risen from the ashes and is back in action for visitors and Londoners to admire. Although its situated slightly differently from the last time I saw it – it has now been lifted 11ft off its dry berth and is surrounded by a glass structure containing an interactive museum. (For Metro Girl’s blog post on the sunset from Greenwich, click here).
To first-timers visiting Greenwich, the Royal Borough (its new title after being bestowed with it by the Queen earlier this year), there is a lot to keep you occupied for the day. As well as the bustling market, there’s the park, Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and various riverside pubs… the list goes on. As we only had limited time, after stopping for a refreshing 99 ice cream, we headed up into Greenwich Park for one of the best views in London – fact. However, due to the imminent London 2012 Olympics, the northern section of the park was partially closed off as it is currently being transformed into an Equestrian centre for the games. After climbing the hill, we arrived outside the Royal Observatory – the centre of the world in terms of time. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) of course originate here and in places both inside and outside the gates of the Observatory you can stand with one foot in each Hemisphere (East and West of course… we’re nowhere near the Equator!). As well as the Observatory, there’s also a great view of London’s new ‘City’ – the financial district of Canary Wharf.
After all the walking and sun-worshipping, we decided to seek shade with some afternoon drinking – yes, more cider on ice – at the historic Trafalgar Tavern – just on the opposite side of the Old Royal Naval Gardens and buildings from the pier, on Park Row. The Regency pub was built in 1837 and features bay windows overlooking the river and Isle Of Dogs opposite and plenty of outdoor seating for those warm summer days and nights. Sipping cider, resting our legs and gazing out over the river was a perfect chilled ending to the day before embarking on our ride home.
Oh yeah… one more thing, I didn’t feel seasick – not a bit!
On the cruise, we passed many popular London tourist attractions – vote for your favourite.
- Although we went on City Cruises, there’s also a host of other companies that do river cruises (both daytime tourist ones and night-time dinner ones), including Crown River, London Eye River Cruise and Thames River Services.
To read about Cardinal’s Wharf, an 18th century house located in between the Tate Modern and Globe, click here Cardinal’s Wharf: A survivor of 18th century Bankside amidst two London landmarks.
Or to read why the London Eye is one of the city’s best tourist attractions, click Metro Girl’s Must Do Series – Part 1: London Eye