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Afternoon Tea @ Plate review: A twist on an old favourite on an educational foodie journey

Plate Afternoon Tea sandwiches © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Delicious crobun sandwiches at Plate’s Afternoon Tea

I’m a huge fan of afternoon tea and don’t have it as often as I should. I recently spent a few months working in Hoxton and regularly passed by the M by Montcalm Hotel so was glad of the opportunity to check it out when a friend invited me for afternoon tea recently. The day in question wasn’t just any typical tea session, but a special event called the Afternoon Tea Academy.

Each tier is paired with a different tea blend

The event saw Plate restaurant at the M by Montcalm collaborating with tea company P.M. David Silva & Sons for an afternoon of tea, food and a little bit of education. Silva & Son’s Dan Silva had teamed up with Executive Chef Matt Hill to pair a different type of tea to every tier of the meal. Dan started off the afternoon by giving us a brief history of Britain’s relationship with tea and why the Sri Lankan plantations and hand-picking technique are so important to the company. P.M. David Silva & Sons is a family-run business over three generations, which started in the mid 1930s, so have a good heritage behind them.

We kicked off the Afternoon Tea with the sandwiches first (of course!), which were a lovely, flaky hybrid of bun and croissant, called the ‘crobun’. Among the fillings were one of my favourites, Chapel & Swann smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, tarragon, preserved lemon & cream cheese. There was a delicious twist on a traditional cucumber sandwich with salted cucumber with tarragon pesto, preserved lemon and cream cheese. Our tier was completed with beetroot hummus with smoked feta, pickled beetroot and lambs lettuce. I’m not usually a fan of beetroot, but the combination was really lovely. The sandwiches were paired with New Vithanakande Tea, which had a sweet caramel and fruity flavour (which turned out to be my favourite of the day).

Strawberry with Szechuan pepper and basil custard tart; lemon and elderflower cake; Valrhona Caledonia Jivara milk chocolate, light mango and lime crisp choux; and white chocolate and olive oil macaron

Three tiers of treats

Next we moved on to scones, with a selection of plain and raisin buttermilk available. They were warm and fresh out of the oven and a perfect size. As much as I love scones, I prefer them on the smaller side to optimise the chances of being able to complete a whole afternoon tea as I usually I end up too full. The scones were served with clotted cream and handmade strawberry preserve, along with a cup of High Grown Ceylon Tea from the Inverness estate. The tea had lovely rosy and citrus flavour, which really complemented the jam.

Finally, we just about had enough room for the top tier of pastries, which were pretty exquisite. Each treat had contrasting sweet and savoury notes, which were interesting, but delicious. I particularly enjoyed the strawberry with Szechuan pepper and basil custard tart. The remaining creations – lemon and elderflower cake; Valrhona Caledonia Jivara milk chocolate, light mango and lime crisp choux; and white chocolate and olive oil macaron, all tasted lovely. These were accompanied by the final tea – Lovers Leap, a crisp tea which we were recommended to drink black without milk.

Overall, it was great afternoon tea. Each tier was brilliant, with the various teas really complementing the different flavours of each food. It was an added treat to receive the story behind the tea blends and the ingredients in the food by Dan and Matt, who stopped to talk to us during each tier.

  • Plate @ M by Montcalm, 151-157 City Road, Hoxton, EC1V 1JH. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the Plate website.

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

Plate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Royal Hospital Chelsea: Visiting the historic home of the Chelsea Pensioners with Open House London

Royal Hospital Chelsea chapel exterior © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The exterior of the chapel of Royal Hospital Chelsea

As the host venue of the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Hospital Chelsea sees over 157,000 visitors pass through its gates every May. However, these horticulture lovers only get to see the outside of this historic venue. Known as the home of the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’, parts of the Royal Hospital are open to visitors, including during Open House London.

Wren’s Chapel with ceiling painting by Sebastiano Ricci

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement and nursing home for around 300 veterans of the British Army. Until the 17th century, there was no state provision to look after retired or injured soldiers. However, King Charles II (1630-1685) recognised these veterans needed care and founded the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1682. He chose to establish it on a 66-acre site in Chelsea, which housed a theological college named ‘Chelsey College’, founded 73 years older by his grandfather James I of England (1566-1625). Charles II and his royal administrator Sir Stephen Fox (1627-1716) commissioned architect Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) to design and oversee the building’s construction.

Wren designed the Great Hall and Chapel. The 42ft high chapel was completed in 1687 and was consecrated in August 1691. The chapel’s interior features a painting of the Resurrection of Christ by Italian painter Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734) and his nephew Marco Ricci (1676–1730), which was added in 1710-15 during Queen Anne’s (1665-1714) reign. Just to the south-west of the Chapel was the Great Hall, which was originally intended as a dining hall. It featured 16 long tables with a large mural of King Charles II on horseback being crowned by Victory. Meanwhile, outside in the central court, the King was honoured again with a 7ft 6in statue in copper alloy by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721). Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in September 2019

Find out what festivals, exhibitions, fairs and more are taking place in the capital this September.

Dulwich Pavilion Colour Palace © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The Dulwich Pavilion

Summer is starting to wind down and autumn is creeping ever closer. September seems to be a hybrid month between the two, where we could have warm summer nights, but there’s always the risk of windy, wet weather. September is a more manageable city to spend time in as the main tourist throngs have died down and the children are back in school.

  • 31 August – 1 September : Zee London Mela

Family festival inspired by the rich culture and flavours of South Asia, featuring live Bollywood, traditional and urban music, performers, food, drink, fashion, sports, kids area, funfair, fireworks finale and more. Open Sat 31 1pm-8pm and Sun 1 1pm-9pm. Tickets: £2. Under 16s Free. Southall Park, Uxbridge Road, Southall, UB1 3BT. Nearest station: Southall. For more information, visit the London Mela website.

  • 1 September : Angel Canal Festival

One day festival in the City Road Lock, Basin and Regents Canal towpath. Featuring over 80 stalls, children’s fun fair, Punch & Judy, story-teller, boat trips and canoeing, art projects and galleries, live music and street theatre. 11am-5pm. Free. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.

  • 1 – 30 September : Totally Thames

Totally Thames is a month-long celebration of our city’s main waterway. Among the many activities taking place are the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (6-8 Sept), The Great River Race (14 Sept), Regatta London (29 Sep), walks, mudlarking, art installations (such as the Ship of Tolerance), live music, theatre, dinners, river relay, film screenings and many more activities. Many events are free. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 1 – 30 September :Carnaby Eats

The restaurants, cafes and bars of Carnaby are taking part in a month-long foodie festival. Featuring special menus, masterclasses, cookbook launches and more. At the streets in and around the Carnaby district of Soho. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • Now until 1 September : Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams @ V&A

Exhibition of Christian Dior designs, from 1947 to the present day. Featuring over 200 garments and hundreds of accessories, photographs, videos, sketches and more. Exhibition hours opening vary (timed entry). Tickets: £20-£24. Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the V&A website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition.

  • Now until 1 September : Meatopia

Weekend of meat, drink, music and fire. Featuring chefs from Smokestak, B’s Cracklin Atlanta, Gunpowder, Cabrito, Blacklock, Sausage Commitment, Brigade, Hangfire, Belzan, Hawksmoor and many more. Music from Olugbenga (Metronomy), Das Brass, Huey Morgan, Izo Fitzroy, King Brasstards and more. Open Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-7pm. Tickets: £23-94 (depending on admission day and package). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For information and booking, visit the Meatopia website.

  • Now until 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre

Watch a live outdoor performance of The Sea Queen or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night 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 website.

  • 3 – 28 September : RIFT present Midsummer Night’s Dream @ Ally Pally

An immersive theatrical performance of the Shakespeare classic in the newly-opened basements of Alexandra Palace. Age 12 and over only. 7.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £28.50. Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest stations: Alexandra Palace or Wood Green. For more information, visit the Alexandra Palace website.

  • 4 – 7 September : Santo pop-up @ The Little Yellow Door

Notting Hill’s foodie favourite Santo will be hosting a pop-up with the flatmates, featuring Mexican food, drink and music. From 6pm. The Little Yellow Door, 6-8 All Saints Road, Notting Hill, W11 1HH. Nearest station: Westbourne Park or Ladbroke Grove. For more information, visit The Little Yellow Door website or the event’s Facebook page. For more information about TLYD, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 5 – 15 September : Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival

Ten day festival featuring free screenings in the Peckham and Nunhead area at various locations, including Nunhead Cemetery, Peckham Palms, The Ivy House, The Old Waiting Room and more. Films include The Lady Vanishes, Harold & Maude, Widows, Albatross, The River and The Wall and more. Free. Nearest stations: Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road Peckham and Nunhead. For more information and listings, visit the PNFFF website.

  • 5 September – 19 January 2020 : The Immersive Wolf Of Wall Street

Enjoy a taste of ’90s high-flying Wall Street hedonism with an immersive theatre production, adapted from the hit film. Expect a restaurant, bars, supercars and more. Over 18s only. Dress code: 90s American Office attire. Times vary. Tickets: £58-£100. 5-15 Sun Street, City of London, EC2M 2PT. Nearest station: Moorgate or Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Immersive Wolf website.

Classic Boat Festival St Katharine Docks © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Classic Boat Festival returns to St Katharine Docks

  • 6 – 8 September : Classic Boat Festival 2019

As part of the Totally Thames celebration (see above), St Katharine Docks are hosting a weekend festival, featuring a display of 40 vintage sail and power vessels, alongside live music, street food, workshops, talks and children’s activities. 12pm-6pm. Free. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill, Fenchurch Street or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website.

  • 6 – 14 September : Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival

Eight day film festival offers free screenings in Charlton and Woolwich. In various locations including Severndroog Castle, Charlton House, The White Swan, St George’s Garrison Church, The Reach, The Thames-Side Studios and more. Nearest stations: Charlton or Woolwich. For more information and listings, visit the CWFFF website. Read the rest of this entry

Explore 125 years of Tower Bridge with special after-hours talks this autumn

Learn about the history, people and architecture of a London landmark at special late-night openings of Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge being constructed ©City of London, London Metropolitan Archives

Tower Bridge being constructed in 1893
© City of London, London Metropolitan Archives

Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic sights. Instantly recognisable the world over, the bascule and suspension bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in the capital. To mark the bridge’s 125th anniversary, there will be a series after-hour talks for Londonphiles.

Kicking off in September and running until December 2019, each session will invite experts to share their knowledge and skills in a specially-curated event which explores the history of Tower Bridge. Each experience will last an hour and take place in the new Learning Space, high up in the South Tower. Film, food and art are among the themes explored over the talks.

Listings

  • Thursday 5 September : Illuminated River Project

The Illuminated River Project is a London wide public art commission that will transform the capital at night, lighting up 15 bridges across the River Thames. Once complete, the project will be the longest public art project in the world. Join Director Sarah Gaventa and Project Architect Chris Waite at the Bridge to explore the ambitious decade-long public art project and how Tower Bridge will shine in its role.

  • Thursday 12 September : Sir Horace Jones and the Architecture of Tower Bridge

Dr Jennifer Freeman, architectural historian and writer, and a specialist in ‘at risk’ conservation buildings will guide guests through the extraordinary life of Tower Bridge architect Sir Horace Jones. A specialist on the man behind a number of London’s most iconic buildings, including Smithfield Market and Billingsgate Market, Jennifer will not only explore Jones’ legacy and his innovations as a designer and planner, but the architectural marvel Tower Bridge remains as to this day.

  • Thursday 17 October : Tower Bridge Eats – Cooking and Dining with the Denizens of Tower Bridge in 1894

Don your kitchen whites and test your taste buds to explore the past century through an exclusive tasting talk with food historian Dr Annie Gray. Foodies will be taken on a whistle-stop tour of 125 years of gastronomic history at Tower Bridge.

  • Thursday 7 November : An Illustrated Construction of Tower Bridge

From the fanciful to the downright farcical, explore some of the alternative river crossing designs presented to the City of London’s special committee in 1876. Tom Furber, Engagement and Learning Officer with the London Metropolitan Archive offers a fascinating insight into some of the weird and whacky designs submitted for the design competition, as well as the ground-breaking construction of Tower Bridge.

  • Thursday 5 December : Tower Bridge & the Thames on Film

This illustrated talk by British Film Institute curator Simon McCallum will give a flavour of the BFI National Archive’s unparalleled collection of film and TV about London, with a particular focus on life along the Thames. Drawing on a rich array of newsreel footage, documentaries and home movies, this archive tour will include glimpses of the majestic Bridge itself across the past century. These films are part of the Britain on Film initiative, with thousands of newly digitised titles from the BFI and partner archives around the UK now free to explore on BFI Player. Simon’s talk will be complemented by a screening of the classic 1959 film The Boy on The Bridge, made possible by the estate of Director Kevin McClory.

(Please note this event will finish later due to the film screening).

  • Talks will take place in the Tower Bridge Learning Space. At Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP. Nearest stations: Tower Hill, Tower Gateway or London Bridge. All events: arrive at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets: £20pp (includes a welcome drink and a return ticket to visit Tower Bridge within 12 months). For more information and booking, visit the Tower Bridge website.

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

For more London history and architecture posts, click here.

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Open House London 2019: Tips and highlights of the annual architecture festival

How to make the most of one of London’s most fascinating and photogenic festivals.

View of the City from the Leadenhall Building

Open House London is a must-do for any lovers of architecture, history… or just London really! Whatever your taste in design, you can be guaranteed to find a building that appeals. To those uninitiated, Open House London is a two-day long festival of architecture, when hundreds of buildings open their doors to the public for free. It could be a chance to step inside a government building, a City of London skyscraper, an art deco masterpiece or a brutalist icon – places that would normally be off-limits to visitors.

This year’s Open House London is the 27th and takes place from 21 – 22 September 2019. Over 800 buildings are taking part in the event, with most of these accessible to those who just turn up. However, there are some special buildings – such as 10 Downing Street. the new US Embassy and the BT Tower – which are balloted entry only, so you need to apply before the beginning of September to be in with a chance. There are some other buildings which have limited numbers so offer time slot bookings in advance.

Top 10 tips on making the most of Open House London

  1. Make a list of places you want to visit and also a few back-up options if the queues are too long by searching Open House’s official website. Alternatively, you could buy a hard copy of the guide here or download the free app available on Apple Store or Google Play.
  2. Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast to inspire suitable clothing. You will be walking and standing a lot.
  4. Get up early: Most of the buildings taking part open around 10am or 11am, but some open even earlier. If you get there before they open, you could beat the queues.
  5. Make sure your phone and/or camera are fully charged and bring a portable charger if you have one so you can search online maps and share photos on social media.
  6. Bring ID – some buildings may require ID to enter.
  7. Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, as many buildings are subjected to security searches.
  8. Go the toilet whenever you find one. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities or you could end up desperate while waiting in a very long queue.
  9. Follow Open House London on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
  10. Share your discoveries on social media with the hashtag #openhouselondon. It’s worth searching this hashtag on Twitter to find out where the long queues are.

Top picks to visit at Open House London 2019

Camden Highline. A tour of the proposed Camden Highline park connecting Camden Town to King’s Cross. Open Saturday and Sunday 9.30am-3.30pm (pre-book only). Camden Gardens, Camden Street, NW1 9PT. Nearest station: Camden Town or Camden Road.

Drapers’ Hall. Livery Hall first built in 1530s, twice rebuilt. Featuring 19th century façade and Victorian interiors. Open Sunday 10am-4pm. Throgmorton Street, City of London, EC2N 2DQ. Nearest station: Bank or Liverpool Street.

Freemasons’ Hall. Art Deco meets classical, built in 1927-33. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 60 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AZ. Nearest station: Holborn or Covent Garden. Read the rest of this entry

Dirty Martini Summer Drinks review: Enjoy a colour injection in your gin with ‘Pink’ or ‘Orange’

Limited-edition menu sees competing gin cocktails with House of Pink vs House of Orange.

Dirty Martini summer drinks gin © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A Strawberry Pink gin and tonic (left) and a Blood Orange gin and tonic from Dirty Martini’s Summer Drinks menu

I’m a great believer in drinking to suit the seasons – I would never dream of mulled cider in summer and an Aperol Spritz must always be accompanied by warmth and sunshine. So whenever I hear the words ‘summer drinks’, I don’t need much convincing. Furthermore, when I heard that Dirty Martini were using my tipple of choice – gin – in their new summer menu, I didn’t need much incentive to try it out.

This summer, the cocktail bar chain has created a contrasting summer drink menu, featuring the competing House of Pink vs the House of Orange. Each ‘house’ features three cocktails each, with the common ingredient being either Beefeater Blood Orange or Strawberry Pink Gin. I’m fairly well acquainted with pink gin, but not so much with the blood orange so was keen to experiment. I’ve only been drinking gin regularly for a few years and often find friends declaring they ‘don’t like it’. However, I’ve always insisted that a cocktail or a flavoured gin will be far from their memory of gin, as its such a versatile drink. On my visit, I was accompanied by one of those said friends who didn’t think she liked gin, but was open-minded. With my encouragement, she tried a ‘Strawberries & Dreams (strawberry pink gin, pineapple, strawberries and a coconut foam), which she was pleasantly surprised by how sweet and lovely it tasted. Meanwhile, I opted for a ‘Summer Lover’ (Blood orange gin, passoa, fresh passion fruit, vanilla, citrus, egg white and Prosecco), an even fruitier twist on the Pornstar Martini, which I really liked.

Dirty Martini summer drinks gin © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A Summer Lover – Dirty Martini’s twist on a Pornstar Martini with Blood Orange Gin

My friend had soon developed quite the taste for the pink gin, as had I for the blood orange, so we let those ingredients dominate our next cocktail choice. My pal decided on the ‘I Lychee Like That’ (Strawberry pink gin, watermelon, lychee and strawberries with dehydrated dragon fruit), with the lychee and dragon fruit giving an exotic twist and refreshing taste. However, I went for the uber delicate ‘Life’s a Peach’ (Blood orange gin, Frangelico, peach, peach schnapps, eucalyptus, citrus and egg white), which was a surprisingly boozy and fragrant drink. Finally to finish, we kept it simple with pink and orange gin and tonics. Having stuck to blood orange cocktails, I mixed things up and went for the strawberry pink gin served with pink grapefruit and mint, which was sweet, but light. Meanwhile, the blood orange gin is accompanied by orange slices and fresh rosemary, with the herb really elevating the gin flavour.

Overall, the summer menu is a treat for gin lovers and even those who think they don’t like gin… you may be surprised! I’ve been back to the St Paul’s branch to enjoy the summer menu more than once, and I’m sure I’ll have to squeeze in one last visit before the season ends.

  • Dirty Martini’s Summer Drinks menu is available from 3 June – 1 September 2019 at all branches. London branches include Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument, St Paul’s and Minories. For more information, visit the Dirty Martini website.
  • Dirty Martini’s Bottomless Gin Brunch is available from 7 June – 1 September 2019 at Bishopsgate (Fri, Sat & Sun), and St Paul’s, Hanover Square and Minories (Fri and Sat). Featuring Bottomless G&Ts, Prosecco, choice of three Martinis or beer for 90 minutes, alongside a birdcage of sharing food.

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

Dirty Martini Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Munch your way around the world at foodie festival Carnaby Eats

Enjoy masterclasses, special menus, cookbook launches and more at this month-long food festival in September 2019.

Wrights Brothers will be taking part in Carnaby Eats

The many eateries of Kingly Court will be taking place

The Carnaby district of Soho is well-known for its wealth of restaurants and bars. So it’s the perfect destination for a month-long foodie festival this September. Throughout the month, the restaurants and cafes will be offering special menus, masterclasses, and cookbook launches.

Budding foodies can take part in free expert masterclasses from Dehesa and Farm Girl, while cocktail aficinoados can enjoy a Pisco Sour masterclass at Señor Ceviche or a mixologist taster class at Jakata. Throughout the month, there will be cookbook launches from Dishoom, Leon and Chai by Mira. Popular eateries Pure, Shoryu Carnaby and Pastaio will be debuting their new autumn menus. Meanwhile, Ugly Dumpling’s executive chef Emilian Craciun will be offering a tasting menu on the first and last Sunday of September.

American diner favourite Dirty Bones will be offering customers the chance to ‘Pimp your Dog’ and customise their signature Yankee Dog. Pizza Pilgrims will be creating a special birthday pizza to mark their 7th year, as well as launching their new 100% biodegradable pasta straws. Meanwhile, Wright Brothers Soho will unveil a new selection of small plates and sustainable dishes, as well as their own gin. You can also head downstairs (and back in time) to 1940s cocktail den Cahoots, who will be entertaining and feeding guests with their ‘Squiffy picnic’ every Saturday.

Over 40 Carnaby restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs have signed up to the new Blue Turtle sustainability scheme in collaboration with ocean conservation organisation Project 0. The scheme aims to reduce consumption of single-use plastic and encourage business owners to embrace more sustainable practises.

  • Carnaby Eats is taking place from 1 – 30 September 2019. At the streets in and around the Carnaby district of Soho. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

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

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Serpentine Pavilion 2019: Slope down to Junya Ishigami’s rock-y structure

Backyard Cinema – LA Nights review: Frozen cocktails and palm trees as you watch your favourite movie at the beach

See you at the beach! Backyard Cinema – LA Nights is running in Camden for a short time only

After returning from my holiday to Italy last month and being well and truly back in the daily grind of work and commuting, a little bit of beach action would be lovely right now. I was especially tempted by Backyard Cinema’s latest immersive film experience so went along to check it out this week. Having launched at the Camden Roundhouse last month, Backyard Cinema’s LA Nights is running for a limited time only.

Backyard Cinema LA Nights © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Bright colours and palm trees galore as you follow the trail to the beach

If you’re unaware, Backyard Cinema is a themed, pop-up cinema company which hosts immersive screenings at special locations around London. They have given film fans the chance to roam the Lost World, get lost in a Labyrinth, be roused by a live choir in a church and fly with the Snowman, among their many other creative themes. For five weeks only, the BC posse have transformed the roof of iconic north London venue Roundhouse into a slice of sunny Venice Beach.

Guests enter through the Roundhouse itself and climb the stairs to the roof. It isn’t long before you are taken on a trail, with lots of neon, weatherboard beach signs, fairy lights and a pair of Instagrammable angel wings to pose against. The screening room is ‘the beach’, with golden sand, palm trees and plenty of comfortable beanbags. The space is fortunately covered over so you don’t need to worry about the temperamental British summer.

Backyard Cinema LA Nights © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

A Passion Fruit Martini was the perfect beachy drink

After selecting our seats, my sister and I headed straight to the bar to sort out our refreshments. A special drinks menu has been curated to complement the theme, with adults-only Slush Puppie cocktails, tropical cocktails and its own beer created by the Gipsy Hill Brewing Company. We were particularly drawn to the palm tree glasses so started with some Passion Fruit Martini, which were very fruity, but a little boozy. After collecting our drinks and snacks (there is a vegan ice cream stand, which proved popular), we were suitably put in the retro mood with lots of classic Californian and retro tracks keeping us entertained before the movie kicked off. Read the rest of this entry

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams review: Go crazy for couture at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Exploring eight decades of Dior and the man himself at this stylish exhibition.

Christian Dior Couture © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Early Dior designs, including the red Ulysse coat (right) from 1952

Without a doubt, Christian Dior is one of the most important designers in women’s fashion. Launching his label in 1947, he transformed ladieswear with the ‘New Look’, among many more stunning designs. I’ve visited several fashion exhibitions in the past, but my ultimate design house to see was Christian Dior. As you may have read, the tickets were a huge hit and sold out immediately, prompting the V&A to extend opening hours. A friend and I managed to get tickets recently to a late Sunday evening opening and ending up spending about three and a half hours in fashion heaven.

The exhibition not only explores the story of the man himself and his path to establishing the worldwide brand, but also follows his successors, including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and the current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. While there is something very ‘Dior’ throughout the company’s fashions, each designer has their own signature look they bring to their label.

The entrance to the exhibition was Parisian-esque with the classic Bar Suit given centre stage

A Gianfranco Ferre Allyson Ensemble from 1990

Designer of Dreams starts with the French designer’s early life, growing up in a wealthy family and residing in Paris and Normandy. A display shows artefacts from the young Dior’s youth and creative beginnings, from running an art gallery to becoming an apprentice to fashion designer Robert Piguet. With Europe recovering from World War II, women were tired and weary of wartime fashion so were ripe for Dior’s ‘New Look’. Establishing his eponoymous fashion label in 1946, he stood out for giving women shape and silhouettes – a contrast to the boxy, plain designs which were synonymous at the time. One of the first designs you see in the exhibition is the iconic ‘New Look’: the Bar Suit and Hat, a silk, wool and taffeta ensemble of a structured jacket and full skirt. Being a fan of Netflix’s The Crown and its fashions, it was great to see the silk, couture gown designed for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday portrait in 1951.

The initial rooms of Designer of Dreams were focused on Dior’s realm at his label, with gorgeous dress upon gorgeous dress. The lighting and layout was very effective at highlighting the detail and complementing the aesthetic of the fashions. Following the designer’s death at just 52 in 1957, his young protégée Yves Saint Laurent was appointed artistic director at the tender age of 21. While trying to keep that signature Dior look, YSL embraced a more softer and wearable style. However, YSL didn’t stay long at Dior and moved on in 1960 after just six collections. As a result, there is an understandably small amount of YSL creations in the exhibition. Read the rest of this entry