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Cabaret and circus collide as the Black Cat: Bohemia headlines Underbelly Southbank

© Black Cat Cabaret Bohemia

Black Cat: Bohemia opens at Underbelly Festival on 22 August

Coming to the Underbelly Festival Southbank for the end of the season is a tantalising and thrilling show. Combining cabaret, circus and performance in a dark and daring show from the Black Cat Cabaret. The company will be coming to the Spiegeltent to première their most ambitious show yet, Black Cat: Bohemia.

Opening on 22 August, the show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatics and toe-tapping music as the 12-strong troupe showcase their impressive skills. The production sees the smart and sexy cast bring the spirit of Bohemias past, from Montmartre to Weimar Berlin, from the Hotel Chelsea to the ’80s Blitz Kids, to the 21st century Southbank.

Among the dazzling performers will be flame-haired singer and host Miss Frisky (Frisky & Mannish); aerial daredevil Katharine Arnold; acrobatic duo Charlotte & Nicolas (Cirque du Soleil, Limbo); cyr wheel maestro Jo Moss; tumbler Leon Fagbemi (La Soirée); aerial feline LJ Marles; and burlesque goddess Missy Fatale.

  • The Black Cat Cabaret is performing Bohemia at the Underbelly Festival from 22 August – 30 September 2018. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Performances at 7.15pm (Tues-Sat) and 9.15pm (Sat only). Tickets from £19. For tickets and further information, visit the Black Cat Cabaret website.

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

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Jewel Tower – a Medieval survivor of the Palace Of Westminster

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Jewel Tower is a small remainder of London’s Medieval history

When it comes to London’s royal palaces, most of them tend to be rather young, with the oldest parts of Buckingham Palace dating back to 1703 and Clarence House, a few years shy of its 200th anniversary. However, long before the monarch resided at Buck House, the King or Queen had a home in the huge Palace Of Westminster. Today, the title belongs to the Houses of Parliament, the seat of our Government.

Jewel Tower door © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The fireproof door contains the year 1621 and the mark of James I

Most of the Medieval Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a huge fire in the 1800s, to be rebuilt as the iconic masterpiece, which remains today. However, two buildings managed to survive, the 11th century Westminster Hall, and the 14th century Jewel Tower. Now owned by English Heritage, the diminutive Jewel Tower is open to the public. Recently, I paid a visit to this small, but interesting piece of Medieval London. It’s a small space with the exhibition taking about an hour to see.

The Jewel Tower was built around 1365-6 at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster to house the treasures of King Edward III (1312-1377). The Tower stood at the end of the garden and was protected by a moat to the south and west of the building. It was built under the direction of master mason Henry Yevele (1320-1400) and master carpenter Hugh Herland (1330-1411) on land which had been appropriated from Westminster Abbey, to the chagrin of the monks. The keeper would have worked on the ground or first floor, logging the King’s treasures coming in and going out of the Tower. The most valuable goods were kept on the second floor.

Jewel Tower stairs © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The spiral staircase

For 150 years, the Tower was used to house the subsequent Kings’ treasures until a fire at the palace in 1512. The building then became home to less valuable items, such as clothing, bed linen, furniture and royal children’s toys, according to an inventory in 1547. In 1600, the building was repurposed for the Government, rather than royals, when it became a parliamentary office. A three-storey timber extension was added to the side of the Tower as a house for the Clerk of the Parliament. The ground floor of the Jewel Tower became the kitchen and scullery, while the first floor was used as a repository for various parliament documents. In 1621, the building was renovated to become more secure to protect the important documents. On the first floor, a brick vault was added with a metal door featuring the year inscribed on the exterior and the cipher of King James I (1566-1625). That very door still exists today and can be seen on your visit.

By the 18th century, the Tower was apparently a bit of a state so work was taken to renovate and improve it. Larger windows and a new chimney were added, while the building was made more fireproof to protect the documents inside. Throughout the century, the Tower was gradually hidden by the buildings popping up around it. By 1827, the House of Lords’ records had been moved out of the Tower because it was too small and it was known as part of Old Palace Yard, with the name Jewel Tower dropping out of use.  Read the rest of this entry

Beso London review: Delicious Moorish cuisine in a relaxed West End setting

Beso Shaftesbury Avenue © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Social eats: Sharing plates to start at Beso in Shaftesbury Avenue

Beso London is the newest foodie addition to the West End. Billed as a Moorish restaurant, the menu takes inspiration from Morocco and Spain. The new establishment is headed up by founder chef Khalid Dahbi, who has worked in Michelin-starred Le Meurice and L’Arpège in Paris, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, the Gaucho, and Bibendum Restaurant. Situated on the fringes of Covent Garden at the less hectic end of Shaftesbury Avenue, Beso is a refreshing addition to the area’s culinary offerings, which tend to be dominated by chain restaurants.

Beso cava kitchen © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Seated at the Firebar, we had a great view of the kitchen

The venue offers a choice of outdoor and indoor tables. The night of my visit was hot so the terrace was understandably in high demand, so we decided to dine indoors and were thrilled to be offered the Chef’s Table, aka the Firebar. The space features low-lighting, modern art and subtle mosaic detailing, giving a contemporary Moorish feel. Although primarily a dining destination, there is also seating at the bar if you just fancied a quick drink or pre-food cocktails.

Pulling up comfortable bar stools at the marble Firebar, we had a great view into the kitchen so could see and smell the food being cooked. The beauty of sitting at the Firebar meant Chef Khalid could explain the dishes to us and show us the individual ingredients being added. Reading ingredients on a menu is one thing, but being able to see the quality and quantity of them being added to your food was really enlightening. We kicked things off with a glass of Cava with some nibbles as we decided between going off the menu or opting for ‘the Beso Experience’. My friend and I were up for a culinary adventure so after stipulating our dietary requirements, signed up for the experience, which translates as small plates of Beso’s best dishes using the freshest ingredients that day.

We began with the starter-esque sharing plates, along with a bottle of a Portuguese white, Fernão Pires Verdelho, Ai Galera, – recommended by the chef – which was a refreshing and delicate accompaniment. Our first dish was some Crispy Chickpeas with Cumin and Paprika; and Moroccan Sardines with Basil and Chichurra. I liked the different approach to chickpeas, which can be quite a boring food if not seasoned correctly, while the sardines were absolutely delicious. Thinly sliced and served cold, the sardines tasted so fresh and were well complemented by the Basil and Chichurra. We moved on to another fish dish, Smoked Mackerel Pate with Smoked Nuts with bread. It was incredibly more-ish (or should that be Moorish! – ha). Continuing the fish dominance, we had an old favourite of Calamari with Crème Fraiche, Lemon Zest and Harissa, with Chef Khalid garnishing it in front of us, really bringing the kitchen action to the table. Adding some vegetables into the mix, we had a delicious Aubergine Salad with Mixed Peppers and Spinach. The Duck Pastilla was a big hit with my friend. A Moroccan dish of duck wrapped in pastry, cumin, flaked almonds and cinnamon, which proved an interesting and tasty mix of sweet and savoury.  Read the rest of this entry

Where to find London’s best speakeasy bars

Disrepute © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Head to one of London’s hidden basement bars

London is world-renowned for its nightlife… and with good reason. While admittedly the nightclub scene isn’t what it was in the ’90s and 00s, the quality of its bars has certainly increased tenfold. Back in 2013, Metro Girl published a guide to London’s speakeasy bars to coincide with the release of The Great Gatsby movie. Over the years, this post has continued to get a lot of readers, but it’s time for an update. A lot can change in five years with bars opening and closing all the time. While many of these hidden bars are 1920s themed and underground, some are on ground level, but are included on the list for their vintage vibe. Of course, in the capital, nothing stays secret for long so reservations are recommended for most of London’s hidden bars.

  • 69 Colebrooke Row

Islington cocktail bar with a 1950s Italian café vibe crossed with Film Noir. Billed as ‘The Bar With No Name’, it’s a tight squeeze with only 30 seats. Includes experimental cocktails, food, cocktail masterclasses and weekly live music. Reservations highly recommended.

– 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the 69 Colebrooke Row website.

  • Barts

In the true spirit of a speakeasy, this secret bar is hard to find. Barts is hidden away in a 1930s Chelsea apartment block behind an unassuming door requiring a password to enter. The venue is styled as a 1920s gangsters’ hideout with the cocktail menu inspired by Uncle Barts’ mob. Read Metro Girl’s review of Barts.

– Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW. Nearest stations: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Barts website.

  • Beaufort Bar

Although not a speakeasy or a basement bar, the exquisite Beaufort Bar deserves to be on the list for its stunning Art Deco interior alone. While many visitors head to The Savoy’s American Bar, they often miss out on its sister bar. Expect stunning black and gold decor, fabulous cocktails and exception service. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Beaufort Bar.

– The Beaufort Bar, The Savoy, Savoy Court, The Strand, WC2R OEU. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. For more information, visit The Savoy’s website.

  • Cahoots

Located hidden down a side street in Kingly Court, Cahoots is a step back in time to post-war London. During the Blitz, many of the capital’s tube stations were used as bomb shelters. Cahoots is essentially a post-war tube station, with plenty of vintage TfL memorabilia and furniture, 1940s-themed cocktails, and live swing and lindyhop. As well as cocktails, they also have late night music nights and boozy picnics. To get in, you are advised to make a reservation or try and talk your way in by getting into character and saying the right thing. Read Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots.

– Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Cahoots websiteRead the rest of this entry

William Blake finally honoured with a gravestone at his final resting place

William Blake gravestone © James Murray-White

William Blake’s new gravestone in Bunhill Fields
© James Murray-White

William Blake (1757-1827) is widely regarded as one of, if not the, greatest artist in British history. The born and bred Londoner was an acclaimed poet, painter, author and printmaker, although never had much success during his lifetime. Nearly 200 years after his death, Blake’s canon continues to amaze and inspire people around the world. Among his more famous works include ‘Songs of Innocence and of Experience’, ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’, ‘The Four Zoas’, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Milton’, ‘And did those feet in ancient time’.

Having been brought up as an English Dissenter (Protestant Christians which broke away from the Church of England), Blake was laid to rest in a Dissenters’ graveyard following his death in 1827. The painter died at home in the Strand and was buried in Bunhill Fields in the London borough of Islington. As well as the location of his parents and two of his brothers’ graves, Bunhill also included the burial sites of Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susanna Wesley. Blake was buried in an unmarked grave on 17 August – on what would have been he and wife Catherine’s 45th wedding anniversary. He was buried on top of several bodies, with another four being placed above him in the coming weeks. His widow Catherine died in 1831 and was also laid to rest at Bunhill Fields, but in a separate plot.

Bunhill Fields was closed as a burial ground in 1854 after it was declared ‘full’, having contained 123,000 interments during its 189 year history, and became a public park. Although William and Catherine Blake had both been buried in unmarked graves, the William Blake Society (founded 1912) erected a memorial stone to the couple in Bunhill Fields on the centenary of the painter’s death in 1927. The stone read: ‘Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757–1827 and his wife Catherine Sophia 1762–1831.’ Re-landscaping in the 1960s following widespread damage during World War II resulted in many of the monuments being cleared. Although the Blakes’ memorial was one of those to survive, it was moved from its location at William’s grave to near Defoe’s memorial stone in 1965.  Read the rest of this entry

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

© Mac & Wild Gun Room

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

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

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

Frozen whisky slushies

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

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

© Mac and Wild whisky bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guide to what’s on in London in August 2018

Underbelly South Bank © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Underbelly Festival on the South Bank is just one of many attractions in London this August

School’s out for summer! August is, without a doubt, the busiest time in the capital. Parents and grandparents are taking to London’s parks and museums to entertain the kids, while tourists are arriving en masse to take advantage of our city’s fabulous sights and attractions. After a scorching few months in the capital, many Londoners will be hoping for more hot weather… although a few rainstorms may be welcome for our poor parched parks and not-so-green spaces. Across London, there’s plenty of events and festivals taking place this August. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best of the city this month.

Here’s a guide to London’s urban beaches and lidos.

  • 3 August : Wear – an opera performance

Tête à Tête brings a modern, immersive opera production to King’s Cross, exploring the themes of fashion and the future. 8pm. Tickets: £7.50 (advance), £9.50 (on the door). The Crossing, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.

  • 3 – 4 August : Cocktails In The City – London Summer

London’s best bars gather in one space for a festival of cocktails. Participating bars include Barrio, Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots, The Nightjar and The Cocktail Trading Co. Open Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-5pm and 5.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £20 (inc welcome cocktail). Bedford Square Gardens, Fitzrovia, WC1B 3HH. Nearest station: Russell Square or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

  • 3 – 5 August : London Craft Beer Festival

Over 65 breweries from London, the UK, Europe and USA will be showing off 100s of beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs from Two Door Cinema Club, Hercules & Love Affair, Huey Morgan, Toddla T, Everything Everything, Trojan Sound System, Hip Hop Karaoke and more. Times vary. Tickets: £46.50 (includes free glass and unlimited small pours). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.

  • Now until 3 August : Festibowl 2018

Festival of lawn bowling returns to the City every Thursday and Friday throughout the summer. There will also be DJs, street food and cocktails. 12pm-11pm. Tickets from £25. Finsbury Square, City of London, EC2A. Nearest stations: Moorgate, Liverpool Street or Old Street. For tickets, visit the Festibowl website.

  • Now until 3 August : Somnai

Experience a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies including virtual reality. 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 from £35. Somnai, 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest stations: Old Street, Barbican or Farringdon. For booking and more information, visit the Somnai website. Read Metro Girl’s review.

  • 4 August : London Tequila Festival

Live music and DJs, over 30 different Tequilas, Processions and piñatas, Tequila cocktail bar, tacos, fajitas and more. 12.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets £16.99-£22.99 (inc complimentary shot). Acklam Village Market, Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5TY. Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.

© Bourne & Hollingsworth

Cocktails In The City: Summer Edition sees London’s best bars in one space
© Bourne & Hollingsworth

  • 7 – 11 August : Great British Beer Festival

Hundreds of real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers with be available to try, while there will also be plenty of entertainment and food. Tickets start from £11 advance (£14 on the door). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.

  • 8 – 25 August : Secret Cinema presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet

Immersive cinema company brings Baz Lurhmann’s vision of Verona Beach to the capital. Expect love, violence, Hawaiian shirts and a banging soundtrack in a five-hour outdoor festival, including screening. No cameras allowed. Times vary. Tickets start from £51.67. At a secret London location. For more information and tickets, visit the Secret Cinema website. Read Metro Girl’s review of a previous Secret Cinema event.

  • 8 August – 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre

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

Oslo Hackney review: Cheeky cocktails and creative dishes with a Nordic twist at a versatile venue

Oslo Hackney Salmon poke © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A Nordic Poke – a salmon salad – at Oslo in Hackney

Hackney has been a popular social destination for some time, offering a variety of drinking, dancing and dining offerings. Last week, I popped along to one which offers all three, Oslo in Amhurst Road for dinner and cocktails. Oslo is a restaurant, bar and live music venue in a former railway station building by Hackney Central overground. It’s a huge space with high ceilings, with the exposed brickwork and metalwork giving a contemporary, industrial vibe.

Melon Mojito © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Melon Mojito

Oslo opened in 2014 and offers British cuisine with a Nordic twist, encompassing lunch, dinner, Sunday roasts, weekend brunches and sharing plates. Our visit coincided with the launch of Oslo’s new menu, which features globally inspired dishes. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free foodies will find plenty of options to choose from, while carnivores will be pleased with some meatier offerings.

Starting with drinks, Oslo offers a large selection of cocktails, wine and craft beers, as well as the usual spirits. The cocktail menu offers plenty of classics, but many with an Oslo twist – such as a ‘Bull Fashioned’ with rum instead of whisky. I wanted a light, refreshing drink as the evening of our visit was sweltering so I opted for a lovely ‘Jubilation’ (Tanqueray Gin, Elderflower & Blueberry Syrup, Orange Bitters and Prosecco). It was well presented in a crystal, patterned glassware and a sprig of rosemary brought out the flavours. Meanwhile, my dining companion selected a ‘Melon Mojito’ (Havana Anejo Rum, Melon Liqueur, Mint Leaves, Fresh Lime Juice and Brown Sugar), which was a richer, fruitier approach to an old favourite.

Oslo steak © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Free range British 10oz Flat Iron Steak served with Hand Cut Chips

Approaching the food menu, we shared a plate of Cod Bolinhos (Cod Croquettes, Seaweed Tempura and Lime Mayonnaise) as a starter. This is the first time I’ve had the dish outside of Portugal or a Portuguese restaurant and I was impressed. It was an authentic and tasty starter and we were actually tempted to order a second round. The crispy seaweed was a good contrast to the soft, chewy Bolinhos.  Read the rest of this entry

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

Ursula Ferrigno © Borough Market

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

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

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

  • 2 August : Ursula Ferrigno

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

  • 9 August : Norman Musa

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

  • 16 August : Dhruv Baker

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

  • 23 August : Philip Juma

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

  • 30 August : Zoe Adjonyah

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

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

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

Find out the history of Borough Market.

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Where to find lavender fields near London

Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

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

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

  • Mayfield Lavender Farm

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

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

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

  • Hitchin Lavender

    Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

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

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

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

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

  • Kentish Lavender

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

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

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

  • Lavender Fields @ Hartley Park Farm

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

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

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

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

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