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Improve your skills and help save the planet with the Small Change Big Difference cookery classes


Want to do your bit to help the planet? Feel like your cooking skills could do with some improvement? There’s an opportunity to do both at some new sustainable cooking classes popping up across London… and the best part – they’re free!

Run by the Small Change, Big Difference campaign, a new series of 30 classes are offering Londoners the chance to expand their cooking skills. Along with whipping up some gastro delights, the classes will also aim to reduce the estimated 910,000 tonnes of food wasted by the capital’s residents every year. You can find inspiration on how to create quick and easy recipes using whatever is lingering in your fridge or cupboards. Expert chefs will showcase their passion for food and teach you how you can improve your health and protect the planet by choosing the right ingredients.

The first workshops have launched already with weekly ‘Waste-FREE Lunch’ every Thursdays (in July) at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough. Attendees can learn how to make a healthy, sustainable packed lunch – before eating it! – in a lunchtime session. There will also be classes on Wednesday evenings through the month at venues in Brixton, Stoke Newington, Battersea and Oxford Circus.

The remaining July workshops include:

Sunday 21 July : Waste-FREE cookery class at Newburgh Street, Soho. (10.30am-11.15am)

Wednesday 24 July : Cookery School at Little Portland Street, Oxford Circus (6.30pm-9pm)

Thursday 25 July : ‘Waste-FREE lunch’ at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle (12.45pm-1.40pm).

You book a space on one of the classes through a Eventbrite, which will require a fully-refundable £10 deposit to guarantee your spot. The classes are running from now until October 2019.

  • Small Change, Big Difference cookery workshops are taking place from now until October 2019 on selected dates. Places are free, but a £10 returnable deposit is required to secure your place (You will be refunded after attending the class, however this is not refunded in the event of a no-show, with the money donated to charity). Book your place (up to 2 weeks in advance) via Eventbrite or find more information on the Small Change, Big Difference website.

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

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Celebrate female talent at Devonshire Square’s International Women in Arts Festival

The International Women in Arts Festival at Devonshire Square
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

A month-long festival celebrating female talent has kicked off in the capital this month. Running until 26 July, the International Women in Arts Festival is taking place in Devonshire Square. Hosted by WeWork and with donations going to The Pink Ribbon Foundation, the four-week programme will offer Londoners and visitors free entertainment.

Throughout the month there will all-female bands performing a range of musical genres, including jazz, swing, classical and pop. Meanwhile, an array of professional dancers and students from top dance schools and creative companies will be showcasing their dance skills.

Highlights included dance shows choreographed by Artistic Director, former English National Ballet soloist Jenna Lee; performances by Oriental dancer and school founder Fleur Estelle; and award-winning Samba sensation Gladys Cavalcante. Also performing will be professional Javanese and Balinese dancers Andrea Rutkowski accompanied by Artistic Director Ni Made’ Pujawati, who will perform sacred Rejang Sari and traditional Legong Kuntul dances. Gymnasts from Team GB will showcase their ribbon choreography, followed by a high-energy set from an all-female acrobatic trio.

During the festival, WeWork’s Devonshire Square community with be fundraising for the Pink Ribbon Foundation, or guests can donate online. Located in the City of London, just a short walk from Liverpool Street or Spitalfields Market, Devonshire Square is a historic business, dining and entertainment quarter, dating back to the 18th century.

  • The International Women in Arts Festival takes place from 5 – 26 July 2019. Most performances start at 1pm. Free. At Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

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

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Visit the Medieval ruins of Whitefriars in the basement of a London office block

The history of the City’s Carmelite monastery.

Remains of the Whitefriars monastery in the City of London

Most Londoners are aware of Blackfriars, as it lends its name to a bridge and busy train and tube station. The name stems from the Dominican Friars – who wore black mantles – who had a priory in the area. Although the Blackfriars priory was closed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, the name remained. However, the names of some of the City of London’s other monasteries and priories weren’t so durable throughout history.

In Medieval London, a number of monastic organisations owned a lot of property in and around the city. After King Henry VIII (1491-1547) ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, a large number in London were closed. Among those shutting their doors were Grey Friars in Newgate Street and Whitefriars at Fleet Street. Grey Friars managed to survive in name after the King gave its 14th century church to the City Corporation and it was renamed Christ Church Greyfriars. After it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) designed its replacement, which hosted worshippers until it was bombed during the Blitz and now its ruins survive as a public garden. (Read Metro Girl’s blog post on Greyfriars to find out more).

The 14th century crypt is believed to be part of the priory mansion

White Friars was a Carmelite religious house which sat between Fleet Street and the River Thames, spreading west to Temple and its eastern boundary at Whitefriars Street. The order was originally founded on Mount Carmel in what is now Israel in 1150. After fleeing the Saracens in 1239, the White Friars travelled to England and established a church on Fleet Street in 1253. Their name White Friars comes from, you guessed it, the colour of their mantles. In 1350, it was replaced by a larger church, rebuilt by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon (1303-1377). The White Friars were popular with nobility and Londoners, with many leaving money to the monastery in their wills. The friars’ extensive grounds included cloisters, a cemetery and garden, along with the church.

After nearly three centuries in the capital, the White Friars monastery was closed by Henry VIII in 1538. The king gave the Grey Friars chapter house to his physician, Doctor William Butts (1486-1545) as a residence. The king’s son and successor King Edward VI (1537-1553) ordered the church’s demolition and allowed noblemen’s houses to built on the site. One of the few surviving buildings, the refectory of the convent, became the Whitefriars Theatre. Established in 1608, the Jacobean theatre only lasted for around a decade and was thought to have been abandoned by the art scene by the 1620s. The diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) often frequented the establishment and noted his visits in his famous diary. At the time, the surrounding area was pretty notorious, with refugees, prostitutes and debtors known to hide there from the authorities. This bad reputation lasted well into the 19th century, with Charles Dickens writing about the area in the 1830s.

Now, all that remains of the friary is a 14th century cellar or crypt, believed to be part of the priory mansion. It was discovered in 1895, later being restored in the 1920s when the News of the World were developing their Fleet Street offices. After the NotW moved east to Wapping in the 1980s, a new building was constructed on site. During building in 1991, the ruins were lifted up on a crane and replaced in a slightly different location. Today, the basement of 65 Fleet Street features a large window so the ruins can be viewed from Magpie Alley.

  • Ruins of Whitefriars, Magpie Alley (off Bouverie Street), City of London, EC4Y 8DP. Nearest station: City Thameslink, Temple or Blackfriars.

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Photo fun for music-loving ‘grammers with ‘Massive Choon’ art installations at Wembley Park

Wembley Park unveils art commissions Massive Choon by Baker & Borowski
© Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Are you guilty of doing things just “for the ‘gram”? If so, a visit to Wembley Park could be in order. This summer, a series of public art installations have been unveiled, providing plenty of photo opportunities for your social media.

‘Massive Choon’ is a project from Baker & Borowski, the duo behind Produce UK and Skip Gallery. The giant, interactive 2D and 3D music-themed creations include a neon guitar and amp; turntable; drumkit; microphone; boombox and headphones. Visitors to Olympic Way, Market Square and Wembley Boulevard can interact with the art by peering through them or sitting or standing on them. The installation celebrates Wembley’s musical heritage, with the nearby Stadium and Arena having hosted some of the world’s biggest artists and bands over the decades.

The installation is one of a series of events taking place in Wembley Park over the summer, including ‘Summer on Screen’ outdoor film screenings, theatre, shopping and a one day music festival – the International Busking Day on 20 July.

  • ‘Massive Choon’ is on display now and all summer at Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London in July 2019

Find out what’s on in the capital in July, including Pride Parade, Ealing Summer Festival, Lambeth Country Show and more.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Live music at the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park

Summer is in full swing. Get ready for one of London’s busiest month as full-blown peak season kicks off when London’s families and tourists will be hitting the streets seeking entertainment. Tennis fans will be enjoying Wimbledon, with Pimm’s and strawberries on cream galore. Of course, the school holidays kick off so plenty of parents and grandparents will be seeking ways to entertain the kids.

For a guide to Wimbledon screenings in London, click here.

  • 2 July : Carmen @ Royal Opera House BP Big Screen

Watch the Royal Opera House’s production of Carmen live on the big screen. From 6.30pm. Free. At Lyric Square (Hammersmith), Trafalgar Square or General Gordon Square (Woolwich). For more information, visit the Royal Opera House website.

  • 2 – 7 July : RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Celebrity and expert speakers include Raymond Blanc, Martin Ogden, James Golding, Madeleine Shaw, Jose Pizarro, Mark Diacono, Chris Smith, Emily Rae, James Wong, Jasmine Helmsley and many more. Open to RHS members only Tues-Wed, Public entry Mon and Thu-Sun. Advance tickets range from £20 to £37.50 depending on full/half-day and RHS membership. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.

  • 2 – 14 July : Festibowl @ London Bridge

Festival of lawn bowling sets up camp by the Thames for two weeks. There will also be DJs, street food and cocktails. Times 12pm-10.30pm. Tickets from £15. Festibowl Bowling Green, Potters Field Park, SE1 2AA. Nearest stations: London Bridge. For tickets, visit the Festibowl website.

  • Now until 3 July : Masterpiece London

An imaginative art and antiques fair for traditional and contemporary. Featuring a week of cultural, culinary and social experiences. Open Thu, Mon-Wed 11am-9pm, Fri-Sun 11am-7pm. Tickets from £38.50. Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Masterpiece London website.

  • 3 – 7 July : The Other Art Fair

Art fair with the chance to meet and buy from emerging new talent. As well as the art displays, there will also be workshops, installations, a Sassy Cidre pop-up, tours, kids’ activities, supper clubs and more. Open Thu (private view) 5pm-10pm, Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat 11am-7pm and Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £9-£25. West Handyside Canopy, King’s Cross, N1C 4BZ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.

  • 4 July : Young Marketeers’ Summer Sale @ Borough Market

Borough Market will host 50 stalls from 11 London primary schools in partnership with the School Food Matters charity. The stalls will sell fruit and vegetables grown by the children. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Market Hall, Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.

  • 4 July : A Taste of California

Mark the USA’s Independence Day with an evening of California wine tasting. California Wine Tasting Masterclass will be leading the tastings, accompanied by American-style nibbles. Tickets: £35. New Street Wine, 16 New Street, EC2M 4TR. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For booking, visit the New Street Wine website.

  • 4 July : 4th July party @ The Gallery

Celebrate US Independence Day with a whisky-fuelled bash. Expect classic American whiskies, Mint Juleps, American food, special brewery colloborations and boilermakers. Free entry or £10 ticket for a whisky tasting session, 1 Mint Julep and 1/3 pint of a special collaboration brew. The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY. Nearest station: West Hampstead. Tickets can be bought from the bar. For more information, visit The Gallery website.

  • 5 – 7 July : Carters Steam Fair @ Hornsey

The vintage travelling funfair sets up camp in Hornsey, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open Fri 3pm-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm and Sun 11am-8pm. Free admission. Priory Park, Hornsey, N8 8QR. Nearest station: Hornsey. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.

  • 5 – 7 July : Just V Show

Lifestyle festival for vegans, vegetarians or those who want to live a more plant-based diet. Featuring vegan and vegetarian brands, cooking demos, talks, Veggie speed dating, and advice. Open 10am-5pm. Free tickets if you register online (also includes entry to Love Natural Love You and The Allergy & Free From Show). London Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Just V Show website.

  • 5 – 26 July : The International Women in Arts Festival

Devonshire Square’s WeWorks hosts a festival of female talent. Featuring live music, dance, acrobatics and more. Most performances start at 1pm. Free. At Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For the schedule, visit the Devonshire Square website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 6 July : Stockwell Festival

A celebration of the unique creativity and diversity of Stockwell. Featuring live music, street food, children’s entertainment, rides, sport, dance and a Community Action Zone. 1pm-7pm. Free entry. Larkhall Park, Stockwell, SW8 2PX. Nearest station: Stockwell or Wandsworth Road. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • Now until 6 July : Greenwich & Docklands International Festival

Two and a half week celebration of free outdoor performing arts, including theatre, dance, and street arts. At various venues across Greenwich and Docklands. For more information, visit the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival website.

  • Now until 6 July : Pride London

Festival celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. This year marks the 50th anniversary since Stonewall. Featuring music, talks, screenings, walks and performances. The highlight is the Free parade on 6 July from Portland Place (Regent Street) 1pm to Whitehall (ending approx. 4.30pm). For more information, visit the Pride London website.

  • 7 July : Greenford Carnival

Kick starting the Ealing Summer Festival is the Greenford Carnival. Expect dance, music, food, funfair, sports, arts and crafts and more. 12pm-6.30pm. Free entry. Ravenor Park, Greenford, UB6 9LB. Nearest station: Greenford. For more information, visit the Ealing Summer Festival website.

  • Now until 7 July : Hampstead Summer Festival

The festival takes place in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (7 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are Free. For more information, visit the Hampstead Summer Festival website.

  • 8 – 12 July : Summer In The Square

Five-day festival in Portman Square, featuring street food, badminton, garden games, Wimbledon screenings, licensed bar, tipi retreat featuring fitness and wellness activities. 11.30am-8pm. Free entry. Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 6LW. Nearest station: Bond Street or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website. Read the rest of this entry

Gigi’s Hoxton review: Summer cocktails and delicious bites at a versatile new dining, drinking and music venue

Hoxton Square is one of my favourite areas in Shoreditch because it offers what appeals to me about the area (e.g. nightlife), but also avoids the traffic and pollution that venues in Old Street, Great Eastern Street, etc, have to put up with. I’ve been socialising in Hoxton Square since the late ’90s (showing my age here!) and always thought of the area as a little nightlife enclave with great bars and a nice atmosphere.

Gigis Espresso Martini Aperol Spritz © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

An Espresso Martini and an Aperol Spritz

A new addition to the East End foodie and entertainment scene is Gigi’s Hoxton. The versatile venue is an all-day restaurant, bar and music venue with an alfresco terrace and a basement sister space Hoxton Underbelly hosting comedy, live music, DJs and club nights. Taking over the former Zigfrid von Underbelly, Gigi’s Hoxton is the latest venture from Giovanna Hussain, the woman behind some of East London’s favourite venues, including The Corner Shop and The Grapevine in Shoreditch, and The Rocksteady in Dalston. I went along with a friend last week to check it out.

As a previous customer of Zigfrid (although my last visit was some years ago), I couldn’t believe how different the venue looked. The bar had been moved from its original location and the vibrant murals by Kate Philipson had really brightened up the place. The finished look is a mix of industrial and vintage-esque chic, with colourful chairs, zinc tables, a green stone bar and neon lights.

Upon arrival, we headed straight for the bar and mulled over the cocktail list. Being a balmy day, my natural choice was an Aperol Spritz, while my friend couldn’t resist the Espresso Martini (on tap!). As a seasoned Aperol Spritz fan, I’m pleased to say Gigi’s got it spot on with the right mix of bitter and sweetness. I’ve found quite a few bars/pubs don’t get the balance right, so it’s always good to see a venue getting it right.

Mini tomato, basil and garlic bruschetta

The ground floor is essentially a L shape so we headed to the narrower section at the back to grab a table and two leather chairs. Gigi’s menus have been created by Head Chef Antonio Mollo and are influenced by his Italian heritage, as well as classic British dishes. We tried a selection of canapes, derived from the main menu, and were impressed by the creativity and flavour. One particular stand-out was the bruschetta. Although I’ve eaten the dish often over the years, I must praise this one for being so fresh and rich in taste. Other highlights were the crispy polenta, mushroom and taleggio fondue and the tortilla taco with homemade guacamole. I’ve got to mention the pea soup, Grey Goose le citron vodka sour cream shot which was a pretty unique taste for me, but I quite liked it.

Aside from the drinking and food, one of Gigi’s USPs is its music scene. After initially being treated to some soulful house and classic R&B tracks from the DJ, we were entertained with some great live music from the Blue Lion Band.

Overall, I think Gigi’s Hoxton is a great addition to east London’s nightlife. The food and drinks were equally good. The venue had a great ambiance and the DJs and live music really completed the evening. I’ll be back.

  • Gigi’s Hoxton, 11 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU. Nearest stations: Hoxton or Old Street. Open Mon–Thu: 12pm–1am, Fri: 12pm–3am, Sat: 10am–3am, Sun: 10am–12am. For more information, visit the Gigi’s Hoxton website.

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Step inside the Colour Palace as the Dulwich Pavilion returns for 2019

Wimbledon screenings in a festival setting at Big Screen on the Green

Sports screenings, live music, food and drink at Big Screen on the Green

If you’re a big fan of tennis, or perhaps just like the atmosphere surrounding the Wimbledon tournament, then Big Screen on the Green could be right up your street. Setting up at two stunning sites in south-west London will be a premium festival of sports, film and live music over 13 and 14 July 2019.

The weekend festival will be setting up in two locations. The first at Fulham Palace Private Gardens, a National Heritage site by the Thames. The second will be located at Morden Hall Park, the sprawling grounds of a Georgian manor house.

Big Screen on the Green will host live screenings of the Wimbledon Ladies and Men’s Singles and Doubles finals, as well as highlights of the Cricket World Cup Final and Formula 1 British Grand Prix. As well as the sporting displays, there will also be live music to keep you entertained during the breaks.

There will be a host of premium food and drink on offer, including a Champagne lounge, summer cocktails; gourmet food; and strawberries and cream. There will also be a VIP marquee available and a premium viewing zone for the best seats in the house.

The ticket-only event will raise money for several charities, including Parkinson’s UK and Mind, while supporting the National Trust. Big Screen on the Green will also be plastic-free this year with its sustainability partner the Ocean Bottle, committing to funding the collection of x1,000 ocean-bound plastic bottles per item purchased during the event.

  • Big Screen On The Green takes place on 13 and 14 July 2019 from 11.30am. At Fulham Palace Private Gardens, Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA. Nearest station: Putney Bridge and Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden. Tickets starts from £20. For more information and tickets, visit Big Screen on the Green website.

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

To find out about more Wimbledon screenings in London, click here.

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A look at the Summer Exhibition 2019 at the Royal Academy of Arts

Portman Square Garden Party: Step inside one of London’s most exclusive squares

The Portman Square Garden Party takes place on 19 June

Portman Square is one of the capital’s most exclusive squares. Located a short walk from Oxford Street, the green space was established in Marylebone in the 18th century. Usually closed to the public, the gates will be open for one day only for the Portman Square Garden Party on 19 June 2019.

The special event will be a modern-day village fete with money raised going to the Greenhouse Sports Charity. Your entry ticket includes unlimited five-star food and drink, live music and entertainment and the chance to play classic games. Throughout the evening, there will a fundraising raffle with fabulous prizes donated by local businesses. All visitors will leave the Garden Party with a goodie bag full of treats.

Among the food and drink on offer includes the Home House Bar (welcome Prosecco, red and white wine and soft drinks); Marylebone Gin Bar (gin and tonics); and the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill (eight food stations including afternoon tea, British cheese and biscuits, and fish and chips).

This year’s bash aims to raise funds for Greenhouse Sports, a charity providing sports coaching and mentoring to young people from disadvantaged communities. Last year’s event raised nearly £20,000.

  • Portman Square Garden Party takes place on Wednesday 19 June 2019. 6pm-9pm. Tickets: £45.00 pp. At Portman Square, Marylebone, W1H 6LW. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For more information and tickets, visit the Portman Square Garden Party website.

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

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