Blog Archives

Aqua Shard review: Brunch with a view at one of London’s highest restaurants

Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Tor Bay Harbour Lobster Benedict at Aqua Shard

Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

We had a great view from our table, despite the drizzle

The Shard is home to six restaurants, all boasting amazing views of the capital. I’ve been to the bar in Aqua Shard on several occasions for drinks, but had never dined before. So I was thrilled when my boyfriend treated me to a surprise brunch at the venue for our anniversary. When dining at a sky-high venue, it’s always hit and miss if the weather will be on your side. On the afternoon we visited, London was suffering from questionable weather, but we managed to get a clear enough view for the first hour of our meal before the rain came down. We were fortunate enough to be given one of the best seats in the place, with seats looking out over the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and the rest of the City.

We were opting for the weekend brunch set menu, which features 3 courses and two amuse bouches for £48. I made sure I had eaten a light breakfast to prepare myself for such a big meal early in the day. Our first amuse bouche was pumpkin soup, which was lovely and creamy and tasted sweeter than I anticipated.

To start with, I opted for a brunch favourite – Tor Bay Lobster Benedict (Cackleberry Farm Egg, Roasted Lobster Hollandaise and Sea Greens). The serving had just the right amount of Hollandaise sauce so as not to overpower the egg and lobster. The seagreens were an unusual, but good accompaniment.

Crispy Cod Cakes (Pickled Lemon, Samphire and Cucumber Salad, and Spiced Kelp Aioli

For my mains, I went for another fish dish – Crispy Cod Cakes (Pickled Lemon, Samphire and Cucumber Salad, and Spiced Kelp Aioli). As a regular consumer of fish cakes, I was pleased by the quality and the accompanying sides gave the flavour a different approach than usual.

In between the mains and dessert, we had another amuse bouche of Yoghurt Sorbet and Crispy Strawberries, which really cleansed the palate. For my final dishes I decided on the English Bramley Apple Crumble (Toasted Almond Crumb and Nutmeg Ice Cream). When it arrived, it was a very different crumble to I’m used to – sort of a deconstructed twist on a traditional favourite. Although the portion was small, the rich sweetness made it very filling and was the perfect end to the meal.

Overall, we had a fabulous brunch. The weather wasn’t on our side, but we still got to enjoy a decent amount of times with good view before the rain came down. The service was good and the menu choice offered something a little different from the usual brunch offerings.

  • Aqua Shard, Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge, SE1 9RY. Nearest station: London Bridge. Weekend brunch is served from 10.30am-3.30pm. For booking, visit the Aqua Shard website.
Aqua Shard brunch © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Dessert was a deconstructed apple crumble, a different approach to an old classic

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

Aqua Shard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Snowman Experience review: A magical and nostalgic immersive screening of a Christmas classic at Winter Wonderland

Backyard Cinema presents The Snowman Experience is an immersive screening of the classic Christmas animation for adults and children alike.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Snowman book. Created by author Raymond Briggs, it was adapted into animated short film in 1982. Directed by Dianne Jackson, the film has become a Christmas classic and is shown on TV every year. As a child of the 1980s, I found The Snowman enchanting and moving and continue to watch it every Christmas as a tradition.

This festive season, Backyard Cinema has created an immersive live experience at Winter Wonderland. The walk-through experience is more than just a film screening, allowing you to visit the sets and even say hello to The Snowman himself.

This week, I went along to check out The Snowman Experience and absolutely loved it. Although the film is just 25 minutes long, the experience actually lasts 45 minutes and spans many different spaces inspired by the classic tale. Located near the giant wheel in Winter Wonderland, the experience starts every 20 minutes. Upon entering the huge tent, you walk through an atmospheric ‘snowy forest’ to reach the reception, where a photographer is waiting to capture you in a ‘flying’ pose to commemorate your visit.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience

The experience eventually begins in a large screening room in what appears to be the family home from the film. The familiar blue kitchen cabinets, Christmas cake, fireplace, TV and sleeping cat have been recreated faithfully, which helps kickstart the nostalgia before the film starts. Two windows with moving snowing scenes adds to the atmosphere. As the animation begins on the big screen, it is accompanied by a variety of effects in the surrounding rooms of the house, bringing a sense of magic. When its time for The Snowman and James to take off and fly on their night-time journey, we move on to the next room to watch it in a forest under a twinkling sky. Next, the action progresses to the snowmen’s party as we head into the third and final screening room, featuring a table full of balloons, streamers, hats and glasses ready for the celebrations. Children particularly are in for a treat when the star of the show – The Snowman himself – enters the room to say hello and show off some of his dance moves. Despite being a grown adult, I must admit it was lovely to see the Snowman and really made me feel nostalgic about how magical I found the character as a child.

Overall, it was a great experience. While children are guaranteed to love it, anyone that grew up watching The Snowman or reading the book are equally likely to be enthralled. Backyard Cinema have really brought the film to life and seeing it on a big screen along with the stunning soundtrack really showcases the beauty of Howard Blake’s music and vocals of Peter Auty. The experience made me feel like a little girl again and I am highly tempted to go back again I enjoyed it so much.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience is on at Winter Wonderland until 6 January 2019. At Hyde Park, W2. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95, Family tickets £27.80-£51.80. Shows start every 20 minutes. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Will you ‘brie’ there? An Evening Of Cheese returns to Borough Market

Evening of Cheese © Borough Market

Will you ‘Brie’ there? Roque (fort) down to Borough Market for an Evening of Cheese in December

Returning to Borough Market this December is the hugely popular celebration of cheese. With Londoners planning their festive cheeseboard, this is a great place to get inspiration for your next special dinner. This annual late-night shopping event offers Londoners than chance to meet over 20 of the market’s cheesemongers and explore a huge range of cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheese from UK and international producers.

On Wednesday 12 December 2018, ‘An Evening of Cheese’ returns to Borough Market. Expect to see cheese stalls taking over the market, with experts on hand to advise you on your festive cheese needs, including cheese recipes and drink pairings. There will also be a cheese-based cooking demo in the Market Hall’s Demo Kitchen.

Among the world cheeses taking part include:

  • Drumlin – Heritage Cheese (Ireland).
  • Oude Beemster Gouda – Borough Cheese Company (Holland).
  • Canarejal Cremoso – Brindisa Ltd (Spain).
  • Roquefort – Mons Cheesemongers (France).

On the night, market traders will compete in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’, while local choirs and carol singers will bring some Christmas cheer.

  • An Evening Of Cheese takes place on 12 December 2018 from 6pm-9pm. At Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Free entry. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
  • Borough Market is open every day during the Christmas period from 5 December until 4pm on Christmas Eve – including Sundays.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Christmas gift guide for the Londoner in your life

Looking for gift inspiration this Christmas? If you have a Londoner or Londonphile in your life and you’re stuck for ideas for what to get them for festive season, then look no further. Here’s a few suggestions for some London-centric presents.

 

  • The British Library membership

British Library © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018£80 (direct debit) or £87 (via credit/debit card) per year from The British Library.

If you know a Londoner who loves literature, then an annual membership to the British Library could be a perfect gift. They can enjoy unlimited free entry to BL exhibitions (plus 1 guest), access to the exclusive Members’ Room, or the Knowledge Centre Bar (plus up to 3 guests) on weeknight evenings. Members also enjoy priority booking for the BL’s programme of talks, events and performances as well 20% discount in their public restaurants, cafes and shops. The British Library has a series of specially curated exhibitions and events throughout the year. Current exhibitions include Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War (until 19 February 2019); and Cats on the Page (until 17 March 2019).

– The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras or Euston.

  • London Playset in a Bag

£19.99 from House of Marbles.

Although aimed at children, plenty of big kids will also like these miniature London landmarks and characters. Iconic sights such as Big Ben, the BT Tower, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye have been carved in wood and painted in bright colours. (9cm/3in figures come in a drawstring bag. Not suitable for children under three).

London-Playset-in-a-Bag

  • Soapsmith Soaps

£8.00 from Soapsmith.

Make a traditional gift of toiletries a little bit special with some London-themed soaps. All Soapsmith soaps are handmade in London using high quality, moisturising oils and butters. A range of soaps have taken inspiration from some of the capital’s famous districts, such as Baker Street (almond, honey and goat’s milk); Bloomsbury (primrose, peony and roses), and Hackney (Bergamot, Sandalwood, Rosemary and Geranium); among others. Founded by born and bred Londoner Samantha Jameson in 2012, all of Soapsmith’s products are manufactured in an East London workshop.

© Soapsmith Marble Arch soap

  • Half Hitch Gin

£35.00 from Half Hitch Gin website.

Back in the Victorian era, Camden was famous for its gin. Half Hitch Gin have brought ‘mother’s ruin’ back to NW1. Half Hitch Gin has been made in the former warehouse vaults of Camden Lock since it launched in 2014. Half Hitch Gin is made with tinctures of black tea, pepper, hay, English wood and bergamot. You could buy the gin lover in your life a bottle of Half Hitch, or perhaps book a visit to the gin school at their micro-distillery.

  • London Alphabet Screenprints by Lucy Loves This

£20-£50 from Lucy Loves This.

Brixton-based illustration studio Lucy Loves This has created a series of screenprints detailing some of the capital’s areas and their popular haunts. For example, Shoreditch features landmarks such as Boxpark, Truman Brewery and Arnold Circus entwinned in a giant S. The prints can be bought unframed (21 x 29.7cm) or framed (32.5 x 45cm) and are printed on 300gsm paper. Free delivery on orders over £40.

  • Prettycitylondon: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places

PrettyCityLondon book cover£25.00 from Waterstones.

London Instagram sensation Siobhan Ferguson has been photographing the capital’s most beautiful places since 2010. She now has over 351,000 followers on her PrettycityLondon Instagram account and another 358,000 on her sister account @theprettycities. Her coffee table book published this year features beautiful photos of the capital and provides a guide to some of London’s less explored parts, as well as tips on how to plan and photograph the capital to help make your ‘gram pop.

For a comprehensive guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

To find out where London’s outdoor ice rinks are this winter season, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Guide to what’s on in London in December 2018

Find out things to do in London this Christmas and December 2018.

Festive door Fitzrovia Christmas © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

London turns festive

It’s finally December! Although retailers have been pretending it’s the festive season for a month or more, it’s that time of year where things really crank up. All around town is a host of Christmas activities, pop-ups and events, with plenty of mulled booze and hot food on offer.

As well as guide to London’s events and festivals in December, Metro Girl has also rounded up an entertainment guide to all the capital’s ballets and pantomimes on this season.

For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive and winter season, click here.

For a comprehensive guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas pop-ups and festive cocktails, click here.

  • 1 – 9 DecemberSpitalfields Music Festival

Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Richard Reeve Parry, Fidelio Trio, Mary Bevan and Katherine Manley, among others. Including concerts, promenade performances, walks and more. At various venues in the Spitalfields area including Shoreditch Church, Rich Mix and the Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields. For booking, visit the Spitalfields Music website. Read Metro Girl’s review on last year’s festival.

  • 1 – 16 December : Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

Celebrate the re-opening of the historic theatre with a host of Christmas activities over three consecutive weekends and some weekdays. Including Luna Cinema screenings, Christmas market, street food and drink, Santa’s Grotto, Horrible Histories’ Horrible Christmas, and more. Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Ally Pally website.

  • Now until 2 December : London Illustration Fair

Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £10 advance. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • Now until 4 December : Foodflix @ Bluebird Chelsea

Weekly film night comes to Bluebird Chelsea in their new cosy orangery. Expect Cointreau cocktails, gourmet fast food, popcorn and modern classic films. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the Foodflix.

  • 4 – 8 DecemberPigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (CAMRA members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.

  • 6 – 22 December : Enchanted Eltham

Late-night opening of Eltham Palace sees the Tudor and Art Deco buildings and gardens dazzle in a show of light, colour and sound. Follow the trail around the gardens. Also including fairground rides and hot food and drink on offer, including a roasting marshmallow pit. 4.30pm-9pm on Thu-Sun only. Tickets: Adults £12, Children 5-15 yrs £7.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace

  • 7 – 9 DecemberHampton Court Palace Festive Fayre

Festive food event in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring shopping, live music, mulled wine, seasonal demos, tastings, choirs and more. Tickets: Adults £19.20, Children £9.60. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the HRP Food Festivals website.

  • 8 December : The Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.

  • Now until 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future

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

  • 10 – 30 December : The Four Realms at Christmas

Creative wizards Bompas & Parr have created a special, immersive Christmas experience, inspired by Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Enter the Land of Snowflakes, navigate the icy mirror maze, tickle your senses in the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets, before arriving at the Fourth Realm. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children 12 and under Free (but still need to register for a ticket). The Atrium, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. For more information and booking, visit the Westfield London website.

  • 11 December : The Honeypot Children’s Charity’s Christmas Carol Concert

A night of festive entertainment and carols to raise money for The Honeypot Children charity. Featuring Portobello Live Choir, West End Kids and Alex Gibson Music. Complimentary mulled wine and mince pies following the concert. Doors open 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets: Adults and teens £15, Children under 12 £12. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For tickets, click here.

  • 12 December : An Evening Of Cheese

Late-night opening of Borough Market celebrates cheese. Twenty of the Market’s renowned cheesemongers showcase their range of UK and International cheeses. There are also demo kitchens and tastings, carol singers and traders competing in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’ competition. 6pm-9pm. Free entry. Borough Market, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website. Read Metro Girl’s blog on an Evening of Cheese.
Read the rest of this entry

Where to find some Christmas cheer – guide to London’s festive pop-ups and Christmas cocktails

Christmas is fast approaching and there’s a host of festive pop-ups opening around London. Here’s a guide to the capital’s Christmassy bars and terraces, as well as some of the seasonal cocktails on offer at some of the regular bars.

Around the capital, a host of festive experiences are popping up around the capital. A host of London’s top bars have curated special festive cocktail menus. From Christmas pop-up bars and cosy terraces to winter wonderlands, here’s the best places to have festive fun.

Christmas cocktails

Many London bars and restaurants have created special festive cocktails for the Christmas period, available for a limited time only. Here’s some of London’s top Christmas concoctions.

© One Aldwych Lobby Bar

Christmas Showtime cocktails at the One Aldwych Lobby Bar

  • The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych

The Lobby Bar at the luxury One Aldwych hotel has created five Christmas cocktails to sip while looking at their 25ft amazing Snow Dome Christmas Tree. Father Negroni (Beefeater 24 gin, Cinnamon Campari and Antica Formula); Jungle Bells (Havana Club 7, Angostura Reduction, Lime Juice, Sugar Syrup and Crème Des Prunelles); Mulled Berries (Tequila Altos Silver, Mulled Wine, Agave Syrup, Lime Juice and Pedrino Tonic); Rose Stardust (Absolut Elix, Raspberry and Rose Shrub, Orange Juice, Disaronno Amaretto, Grapefruit Juice and Rose Lemonade); and Warm Gift (Maker’s Mark, Double Cream, Mozart Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Syrup, Pedro Ximénez, Frangelico, Vanilla Bitters and Tabasco).

– One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the One Aldwych website.

© The Little Blue Door

Christmas cocktails at The Little Blue Door

  • The Little Blue Door

‘The Flatmates’ are hosting festive feasts throughout December with a host of cocktail specials. Featuring the Mince Pie Martinis served with mini mince pies and EggNog Whiskey Flips with Grated Nutmeg. Check out Metro Girl’s review on The Little Blue Door.

– The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 5HP. Nearest station: Parsons Green. For more information, visit the The Little Blue Door website.

  • Dirty Martini

The sleek bar chain has created a special festive menu, available at its seven central London locations. Includes The Bellringer (Amaretto Disaronno, cranberry juice, blood orange syrup, topped with Prosecco); Grinch’s Espresso Martini (Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, DM Homemade Christmas Syrup, Fresh Espresso, Chocolate Bitters, Gingerbread Foam); and Santa’s Punch (Ketel One Oranje Vodka, Bold Liqueur, Pimento Dram, DM Homemade Xmas Syrup. Fresh Pomegranate Juice, Lime Juice, Orange Bitters). All £9.50.

Dirty Martini, branches at Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Minories, Monument and St Paul’s.

© Dirty Martini Christmas Cocktails 2018

Dirty Martini have created three Christmas cocktails (L-R) Santa’s Punch, The Bellringer and Grinch’s Espresso Martini

  • Bōkan

Dockside restaurant and bar Bōkan have created a special festive drink to enjoy along with the views of the City. The Hot Mulled Sloe cocktail incorporates Sipsmith gin, spice mulled cloudy apple juice and a slice of orange. £9.

– Bōkan, (Floor 37-39), 40 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf, E14 9TP. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Bokan website.

  • Cantina Laredo

Mexican restaurant Cantina Laredo has created a quirky festive cocktail – Brussel Sprout infused margaritas – to accompany their ultimate festive feasting menus.

– Cantina Laredo, 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2H 9FB. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit Cantina Laredo’s website.

© Cantina Laredo

Brussel Sprout infused margaritas at Cantina Laredo


Winter pop-ups

There’s a host of Christmas pop-ups in London this season. Expect plenty of hot booze, comfort food, fake snow, Christmas trees and sparkling lights.

  • 6 November – 24 December : The Winter Forest

Seasonal pop-up returns to Broadgate Circle in the City of London. Featuring 300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, cosy wood cabins, live music, festive quiz nights (Mons), craft classes, Father Christmas, art exhibition and plenty of hot food and drink. Free.

– Broadgate Circle, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Broadgate websiteRead the rest of this entry

Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth review: A wonderfully festive movie experience

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Backyard Cinema has created a Christmas Labyrinth at Winterville at Clapham Common

This year sees Backyard Cinema launching their biggest film events to date. Setting up camp at festive experience Winterville is the Christmas Labyrinth. I’ve been going to Backyard Cinema events for several years and am always impressed by the various theme they come up with. It’s safe to say they’ve surpassed their previous themes with a fantastically Christmassy immersive experience on Clapham Common.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Which door will you choose?

The Christmas Labyrinth is one of two Backyard Cinema’s festive screening experiences – the other being The Snowman Experience at Winter Wonderland. This year, Backyard Cinema has taken over a large section of Winterville, with their huge, cosy tent hosting two screening rooms, a huge labyrinth adventure, cinemas bars, as well as a lobby bar with live entertainment.

Upon arrival, you can stop for a drink at the bar or head straight in to start your journey. Our evening began in a magical room, with a mysterious voice urging us to choose one of four different doors. I’m used to taking a special route to get to Backyard Cinema’s screening room, but this year’s Labyrinth experience is clearly much bigger, with many choices for the visitor. Although you are encouraged to take a separate door from your friend, my pal and I decided to take the same one and headed into the ‘Jester’ door, being the pair of jokers are we (according to my friend!). Our journey through the maze was disorientating, confusing, but exciting as we figured out what way to go. Finally, we ended up in a twinkling forest – which made me feel like I was in Narnia – which opened to the screening room.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

We walked through a magical labyrinth to the screening room

While the previous Backyard beanbags have always been comfortable, there’s some higher, bulkier and even cosier ones for their new Winterville home. My friend and I claimed a good set of beanbags with a prime position and headed to the nearby bar for some festive drinks. There’s a selection of craft beer, soft drinks, wine, prosecco and winter warmers. I’m a sucker for hot booze at the time of year so a mulled cider and rum was an easy choice… one I made twice as it happens. As you would expect for a cinema, there’s the typical snacks, including Proper Corn popcorn and pic and mix sweets. The bar is open throughout the screening should you feel the need to refresh yourself.

On our visit last week, we were watching the musical film The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. We had never seen it before and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Throughout the film, I was really comfortable all settled in the beanbag, although I did use one of the BC provided blankets towards the last half hour to warm me up even further. Overall, it was a entertaining evening and the labyrinth was a creative and fun way to enter the cinema. Tickets are already sold out for many dates in the run-up to Christmas so I recommend buying them ASAP.

  • Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth runs until 22 December 2018. At Winterville (entrance just north of the Long Pond), Clapham Common, SW4 9BX. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. Tickets: Adults from £18.98, Children from £9.98. Stalls, premium and loungers available. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2. Under 6 January 2019. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Snowman Experience.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Turning bingo on its head – cocktails, grub, DJs and amazing prizes as Dabbers Social Bingo opens in London

There’s a permanent new modern bingo hall for the younger generations launching in London this December 2018.

© Dabbers Social Bingo

Dabbers Social Bingo is the UK’s first modern bingo venue

Think bingo is just a tame evening activity for pensioners? Think again! Unless you’ve been hiding a rock, you may have heard of a resurgence of bingo in recent years. New generations of Londoners, from Generation X-ers to Millennials have been enjoying the more raucous, modern take on bingo at festivals and one-off evenings.

Coming this December on the fringes of the City and the East End is Dabbers Social Bingo. Opening on Houndsditch, this will be the UK’s first, permanent modern bingo venue. Founder Ed Wethered has teamed up with the gang behind Musical Bingo, Gospeloke, and Comedy House Party, with backing from the founder of Picturehouse Cinemas.© Dabbers Social Bingo

Dabbers is reinventing the classic game with interactive game show elements, sought-after prizes and fabulous food and drinks. Expect cocktails instead of tea, comedians stepping into the bingo callers role and incredible experiences as prizes.

As soon as you enter the venue, the lobby will pay tribute to the game’s heritage with memorabilia from the past. Grab a drink from the lively bar while listening to the live DJ. Next, grab your bingo cards and your ‘gaming drink’ ready to take your seat in the bingo arena. You have the choice of social bingo tables if you’re up for meeting some new friends or a more intimate experience in the banquette tables. Alternatively, groups can hire one of the Baller Booths and receive a free bottle of fizz. During the game, expect to be impressed by the custom-made bingo blower machine, glittering lights, pyrotechnics and a sensational sound system.

During the week will be a variety of themed nights to suit different tastes. Vintage Bingo on Tuesday will offer a more literal interpretation of the classic game hosted by veteran bingo callers. Travel junkies should head to Dabbers on Friday for Bingo Voyage, with the main prize offering a weekend away. If you fancy a boogie, head to Disco Bingo on Saturday nights for a real party atmosphere with UV lights, while Family Brunch bingo on Sunday lunchtimes are open to families.

On the drinks menu will be a selection of craft beers, cocktails and a decent wine list. As well as booze and bingo, there will also be the ‘Well Rounded Menu’, offering round food. Including treats such as melon balls wrapped in ham to round Waffles with ample Crumble and Cinnamon Sugar (vegans and vegetarians catered for too).

  • Dabbers Social Bingo, 13 – 22 Houndsditch, City of London, EC3A 7DB. Nearest stations: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. Open Mon-Wed and Sun 12pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-3am. Dabbers Social Bingo officially launches on 3 December 2018 (soft opening from 28 November 2018). For more information, visit the Dabbers Bingo website.

For the latest guide to what’s on in London, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Chelsea cows – the story behind Wright’s Dairy and its surprising musical legacy

Have you ever spotted a cow’s head sticking out of one of Chelsea’s buildings? Here’s the history behind them…

Wrights Dairy King's Road © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The former Wright’s Dairy on the Kings Road now houses a Carphone Warehouse

Today, the London district of Chelsea is famous for its football club, trust fund socialites and designer boutiques. However, until the 19th century, the area was a rural neighbourhood. Chelsea served as a market garden for the rapidly-expanding city, with corn, barley, fruit and vegetables grown on the area’s numerous farms, orchards and gardens. It was particularly known for its root vegetables and was the first place in Britain where lettuce was grown successfully in the mid-to-late 18th century. Meanwhile, the area became fashionable for the wealthy from the 16th and 17th centuries, with its residential districts starting to overtake the farms in the late 19th century.

Wrights Dairy © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Wrights Dairy head office in Old Church Street

One such farm which held on longer than others was Wright’s Dairy. The dairy was one of the first in Chelsea and was erected on Cook’s Grounds (the site of Glebe’s Place today) in 1796. Around 50 cows and two goats grazed nearby, providing milk for the dairy. In advertorials for their business, they were described as ‘dairy farmers and cowkeepers’. A frequent visitor to the dairy was Scottish philosopher and writer Thomas Carylyle (1795-1881), who lived a few minutes walk away on Cheyne Row. At the time of Carylyle lived in Chelsea, the dairy was run by W. H. Wright, whose late father had founded the business.

The Old Dairy was forced to move slightly west due to rapid redevelopment in the late 1800s, with Cook’s Ground and the nearby kitchen gardens of the Chelsea Rectory being swallowed up by housing. Wright’s Dairy set up their headquarters and a shop at 38-48 Church Street (now Old Church Street). The fields behind the dairy were used for the grazing cows. The street – which runs from the Embankment to the Fulham Road – is one of the oldest recorded streets in the area and dates back to the 16th century. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, business was booming for Wright’s Dairy and it was well-known and respected in the area. Its advertising in 1914 (see here) boasted about being “under constant medical, veterinary and sanitary inspection” and “acknowledged to be the finest and cleanest dairy in Chelsea”. One of their big selling points was stocking “humanised, sterilised and special nursery milk in glass bottles for infants and invalids”. As well as their Old Church Street base, Wright’s also had a shop at 69 King’s Road. Like many dairies of the time, both shops and the headquarters featured cow head sculptures sticking out of the top of the buildings.  Read the rest of this entry

Guide to London’s open-air and pop-up ice rinks this winter 2018/2019

Want to go ice skating in London? Here’s a guide to the capital’s open-air ice rinks (and permanent rinks) this festive season.

Skylight London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Skate on one of London’s ice rinks

The countdown to Christmas in London means many things… mulled wine, lots of tinsel and open-air ice rinks. With the trees, decorations and twinkling lights making the capital looking rather festive, taking to the ice at this time of year can seem rather appealing.

Here’s where to find London’s pop-up ice rinks this Christmas and winter season, with details of prices, times and how to get there.

  • 20 October – 6 January 2019 : Skyline Skating @ John Lewis

Skate on the roof of the John Lewis department store. Along with Sipsmith ice rink, there is also Mypies fresh pies and hot gin being served. Sun-Wed 12pm-9pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-11pm. Tickets: £8pp. John Lewis rooftop, 300 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1C 1DX. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the John Lewis website.

  • 25 October – 6 January 2019 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink

A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Opening hours vary. Session times last 1 hour. Adults from £12.65, Children 12 and under from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.

  • 1 November – January 2019 : Skylight London

Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, fondue and ice hockey slap shot. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking, visit the Skylight London website.

  • 2 November – 16 February 2019 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf

Skate over ice in the middle of the soaring skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Non-skaters can watch the action from the bar or street food stalls. Session times last 1 hour. Opening times vary. Adults £9.95-£16.95, Children £9.95-£10.95. Canada Square Park, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.

  • 14 November – 13 January 2019 : Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason

One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the historic courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Session times last 1 hour and are from 10am until 10.30pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Tickets start from £11. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.

  • 15 November – 23 December : Winterville Ice Rink

Clapham‘s alternative winter attraction features an alfresco ice rink over 600 square metres. Mon-Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. Tickets: Adults £14, Children (under 12s) £9.50, Teens £12. Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.
Read the rest of this entry