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Guide to what’s on in London in November 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

November kicks off with Guy Fawkes fireworks

Yes, autumn is here. The clocks have gone back, the temperatures are dropping and it feels like we’re on the countdown to the festive season. However, there’s plenty of non-Christmas events on around town to keep you living in the moment. With cosying up with a good book particularly inviting prospect at the moment, there are several literary festivals taking place around the capital. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best festivals and special events in the capital this November.

For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks, click here.

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

  • Now until 1 November : London Literature Festival

The London Literature Festival returns to the Southbank, with renowned writers, futurologists and transhumanists discussing the future in these uncertain times. Among the highlights include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tom Hanks, Philip Pullman, Annie Leibovitz and a live reading of Nelson Mandela’s memoirs. Many events are free, but tickets go up to £70. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 2 November : Cantina Laredo’s Dia De Los Muertos

London’s new tequila and guacamole bar Cantina Laredo host a Day Of The Dead celebration with a one-off ofrenda four-course menu, cocktails, face-painting, DJs and more. 5pm-late. Tickets: £55pp. Cantina Laredo, 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2H 9FB. Nearest station: Leicester Square. For booking, visit BookATable.

  • 2 – 4 November : Wahaca’s Day Of The Dead @ The Vaults

Three day festival to celebrate Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos featuring Mexican food, drink, live music, DJs and culture in the tunnels underneath Waterloo station. Fancy dress encouraged. 7pm-2am (family day from 1pm on 4 Nov). Tickets: £15-£25. The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Wahaca website.

  • 3 – 20 November : World Press Photo Exhibition

The shortlisted entries for the annual World Press Photo completion go on display in the Royal Festival Hall. Open 10am-11pm. Free. Royal Festival Hall, Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX. Nearest station: Embankment or Waterloo. For more information, visit the World Press Photo website.

  • 3 – 29 November : Richmond Upon Thames Literature Festival

A festivals of books and words at various locations across the borough. Featuring workshops, talks and Q&As from authors, including David Starkey, John Grindrod, Andy Friend, Henry Hemming, Peter Snow, Ann MacMillan, Hilary Spurling and more. Venues include The Bingham, Marble Hill House, Old Town Hall, Strawberry Hill House, Teddington Library and more. For booking, visit the Richmond Literature Festival website.

  • Now until 4 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • Now until 4 NovemberKilburn Literary Festival

The North West London suburb of Kilburn hosts their third literary festival, featuring talks, workshops, readings and competitions. Events range from free to £10. At various venues across NW6 including the North London Tavern, Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn Library and the Sheriff Centre. For more information, visit the Kilburn Literary Festival website.

  • 4 November : Regent Street Motor Show

Three hundred cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow ahead of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following day. Featuring entertainment and interactive displays. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic. 10.30am-4pm. Free. Regent Street, W1B 5TD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regent Street Motor Show website.

  • 4 NovemberWinter Wine Festival

One day wine festival featuring a choice of 600 wines to taste. As well as tastings, there is also a free wine walk, masterclasses and discounts on wine shopping. 12pm-6pm. Tickets: £20-£25. The Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5DA. Nearest station: Holborn. For more information, visit the Wine Gang website.

  • 4 November : Spice World Screening with Live Orchestra

Spice Girls fans will love this immersive screening of their 1997 movie, accompanied by a live orchestra, with Spice Girls masks and photobooth on site. 7pm-10pm (guests can stay for the club night afterwards until 3am). Tickets from £10. Clapham Grand, 21-25 St John’s Hill, Clapham Junction, SW11 1TT. Nearest station: Clapham Junction. For booking, visit the Clapham Grand website.

  • Now until 5 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets: £20 (advance), £24 (on the door). Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.

  • Now until 5 November : Winter Art & Antique Fair

Arts and antiques event, featuring over 120 dealers showcasing their unusual objects and art and talks. Opening times vary. Tickets: £15-£20 (cheaper in advance). Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Olympian Antiques website.

  • 5 November : London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Watch the beginning of 64 mile route from the capital to Brighton. Get up early to watch 500 classic cars setting off from Hyde Park Corner between 7.04-8/8.45am. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Route goes from Hyde Park Corner, past Buckingham Palace, over Westminster Bridge and south via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. Free to spectate. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Veteran Car Run website.

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Guide to what’s on in London in September 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Visit buildings normally off limits to the public at Open House London, such as City Hall

Summer is coming to an end and the temperatures are starting to cool. The children are going back to school and there’s a noted drop in the number of tourists (which probably relieves most Londoners tbh). However, with September usually being a pretty warm month, Londoners can enjoy the capital with a lot less crowds than over the official summer months. One of the highlights of September is Open House London, which takes place in the middle.

  • 31 August – 16 September : Portobello Film Festival

Two and half week festival returns to Notting Hill with screenings and events at the KPH, Pop Up Cinema in Acklam Road and the Muse Gallery. Free. Nearest stations: Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park. For more information, visit the Portobello Film Festival website.

  • 1 – 3 September : Meatopia

Weekend of meat, drink, music and fire. Featuring chefs from Hix, Berber & Q, Lobos, Lagom, Patty & Bun, Rhoda, Camino, Tommi’s Burger, Pizarro, Smokestak and more. Music from Tom Findlay (Groove Armada), Tantz, Hip Hop Karaoke, Beatbox Collective, The Nest Collective, Karuke, Bring Your Own Brass, Men Diamler, Bill Brewster, Op Sa! and more. Open Fri 1 5pm-11pm, Sat 2 12pm-9pm, Sun 3 12pm-7pm. Tickets: £23.85-£106 (depending on package). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For information and booking, visit the Meatopia website.

  • 1 – 10 September : Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival

Ten day festival featuring free screenings in the Peckham and Nunhead area at various locations, including The Old Nun’s Head, Nunhead Cemetery, Peckham Library, The Ivy House and more. Films include Singin’ In The Rain, Good Fellas, Deep End, Wall-E and Night Of The Living Dead. Free. Nearest stations: Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road Peckham and Nunhead. For more information and listings, visit the PNFFF 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 (9-10 Sept), The Great River Race (9 Sept), walks, art installations, live music, theatre, dinners, river relay, film screenings and many more activities. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 1 September – 1 October : Lambeth Heritage Festival

A month long festival celebrating the heritage and people of Lambeth – stretching from the South Bank all the way to Streatham and Norwood. Featuring talks, film, music, theatre, exhibitions, walks and workshops. At venues across the borough including Migration Museum, Brixton Windmill, Lambeth Palace, Lambeth Archives, the Cinema Museum, London Fire Brigade Museum, the Chocolate Museum, Brockwell Lido and more. For more information, visit the Lambeth.gov.uk website.

  • 3 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 admission. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.

  • 3 September : Zee London Mela

Festival celebrating South Asian culture, featuring four stages, outdoor arts, DJs, world food market and more. Free admission. Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, W3 8LQ. Nearest stations: Gunnersbury, South Ealing or Acton Town. For more information, visit the Zee London Mela website.

  • Now until 3 September : Star Wars Identities

Star Wars fans are in for a treat as over 200 costumes, props, models and artwork from the franchise are displayed in a special exhibition. Find your own Star Wars character in an interactive quest. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults £20-£25. Children £10-£15. The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Star Wars Identities website. 

  • Now until 3 September : London Bridge City Summer Festival Theatre – The Odyssey

Watch God and Monster’s epic production of The Odyssey in three parts at this open-air free theatre. Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm (Pt 1 6pm, Pt 2 7.30pm and Pt 3 9pm). Free. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

  • Now until 3 September : The Art Of The Brick – DC Super Heroes

Lego artist Nathan Sawaya has created an exhibition of Lego sculptures of Super Heroes and Villains including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Child £11. The exhibition is in a temporary structure on the corner of Upper Ground and Cornwall Road, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Art Of The Brick website. For a review of the previous Art Of The Brick exhibition, click here.

  • 4 September : RSC Live – Titus Andronicus

Watch Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus broadcast live from the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. From 7pm. Tickets: £10. East Wintergarden, 43 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, E14 5NX. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.

  • 5 September : Candlelight Opening @ Sir John Soane’s Museum

Late-night opening of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the former home of the 19th century architect, which is full of his sculptures, painting and antiquities. First 200 visitors in the queue at 5.30pm guaranteed entry, after that it will be one-out, one-in until 8.30pm. 6-9pm. Free. Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP. Nearest station: Holborn. For more information, visit the Sir John’s Soane Museum website.

  • 8 -9 September : The Beavertown Extravaganza

Two day beer festival by the Beavertown Brewery, featuring 70 of the world’s best breweries. Open Fri 8 3-10pm, Sat 9 1-8pm. Tickets: £55. The Printworks, Surrey Quays Road, SE16 7PJ. Nearest station: Rotherhithe. For tickets, visit TicketAnnoy.

  • 8 – 10 September : FemFest

Female-focused art festival featuring multi medium art exhibition, performance, fem film night, arty party and the usual Sweet ‘Art freebies and surprises. Times TBC. 47-49 Tanner Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3PL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Sweet Art website.

  • 9 – 10 September : Classic Boats Festival

As part of the Totally Thames celebration (see above), St Katharine Docks are hosting a weekend festival, featuring a display of 40 sail and power vessels, alongside a range of waterside attractions. 12-6pm. Free. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website. To find out more about the festival, read Metro Girl’s post here.

  • 9 – 10 September : Vintage Classic Car Boot

Weekend festival of classic cars, street food wagons, music, performances, street theatre and more. 10am-6pm. Entry £5. Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Classic Car Boot Sale website.

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Fitzrovia Chapel: A beautiful hidden gem

Open House London 2017: Highlights and tips to make the most of the weekend

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Step inside some of London’s special buildings, such as 18th century Drapers Hall

History and architecture buffs rejoice – Open House London is returning. Now in its 25th year, the weekend is essentially a festival of design, history and architecture. Over 16-17 September 2017, around 800 homes, government buildings, offices and more will open their doors to the public for free. While some usual fee-paying museums won’t be charging during the weekend, there are also rare opportunities to visit some very special buildings, such as 10 Downing Street or the clock tower of St Pancras, that are usually off-limits to the public. Some buildings, such as the latter two just mentioned, are only entry by ballot or booking in advance. However, most you can just turn up and enter. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and the Billingsgate Roman Bath House, are likely to have a long queue. With that in mind, here’s my guide to making the most of Open House London. This guide lists what I consider the highlights of this year’s event, although the following section featuring reviews and photos of buildings already visited by Metro Girl, includes further highlights too.

Highlights of Open House London 2017

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin. Iconic skyscraper in the City of London, built in 2003. Open Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm (long queues likely). 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP. Nearest stations: Bank, Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Hindu temple, built in 1995. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD. Nearest station: Harlesden.

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.

Finsbury Town Hall. Art Nouveau, Victorian building from 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Rosebery Avenue, Farringdon, EC1R 4RP. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel.

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

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery. Victorian brewery, built in 1828. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (booking required). Chiswick Lane South, W4 2QB. Nearest station: Stamford Brook or Turnham Green.

Guildhall. The City’s base of their municipal Government since the 12th century, built in 1440/1789. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Gresham Street, City of London, EC2V 7HH. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Mansion House or Moorgate.

Home House. Georgian townhouse with fine interiors, built in 1776. Open Sunday 3pm-5pm (book tour in advance). 20 Portman Square, W1H 6LW. Nearest stations: Bond Street or Marble Arch.

Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s London home, dating back to 13th century. Open Saturday 9am-2pm (book time slot only through website). Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth, SE1 7JU. Nearest station: Lambeth North.

Masonic Temple. Greek Masonic Temple in the former Great Eastern Hotel, built in 1912. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. Andaz Liverpool Street, Bishopsgate, EC2M 7QN. Nearest station: Liverpool Street.

One Canada Square. Nineties skyscraper in Canary Wharf with tours to the 39th floor. Open Saturday 10am-4pm (book in advance). One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf.

Rudolf Steiner House. Unique example of expressionist architecture, built in 1926-1937. Open Sunday 1-5pm. 35 Park Road, Regents’ Park, NW1 6XT. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Visit the Great Hall and Maggie’s Centre at the 18th century hospital. Open Sunday 10am-5pm (book in advance). West Smithfield, City of London, EC1A 7BE. Nearest station: Farringdon.

Two Temple Place. Victorian office/residential building in an Elizabethan style, built in 1895. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 2 Temple Place, City of London, WC2R 3BD. Nearest station: Temple.

Underground Bunker. WWII bunker 40ft underground, used by Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet, built in 1940. Open Saturday 8.30am-5.30pm (book in advance). 109 Brook Road, Neasden, NW2 7DZ. Nearest station: Neasden or Dollis Hill.

Wrotham Park. Privately-owned Georgian, Palladian mansion, built in 1754. Open Sunday 10am-3pm (book in advance). Wrotham Park, Barnet, EN5 4SB. Nearest station: Hadley Wood or Potters Bar. Read the rest of this entry

Expanding my skills on a London Landscape Photography class with Obby

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

One of my photographs on the London Landscape Photography Course
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

I’ve long had an interest in photography and have been feeling pressure to take quality images for my blog since I started it five years ago. Of course, circumstances – such as bad restaurant lighting or a grey, cloudy day – can hamper a photograph from reaching its potential. After years of half-heartedly considering doing a photography course, I recently came across Obby – a community marketplace offering classes and workshops.

Although I initially was looking for a photography course, I found my appetite whet for others classes by the huge selection. As well as photography, there are also workshops in arts, crafts, drinks and tastings, food, health and beauty. There was a range of photography classes available, however I decided on the London Landscape Photography Workshop, which was most relevant to me as a blogger. Booking was super easy, I scrolled through the available dates and booked with a credit card. I liked that my class was confirmed straightaway and it wasn’t a voucher that I’d have to use with a second party, like other experience websites.

London photography course St Paul's Millenium Bridge © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A much derided building, the ‘Walkie Talkie’, actually looks pretty cool from the right angle
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The workshop itself was a seven-hour class with Steve Hedges Photography. Our small group of five (including myself) met Steve at Liverpool Street station armed with our cameras and tripods at 9am on a Friday. The first part of the workshop was sat around a laptop going through the basic rules to follow when photographing landscapes and seeing examples of the powerful differences that depth and angle can make. I am currently between cameras so had borrowed one which I wasn’t so familiar with, but by the end of the class knew the settings so well I was able to teach the camera’s owner how to use it!

During the workshop, we stopped to photograph the Leadenhall Building, the Lloyds Building, the ‘Walkie Talkie’, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. The class was a mix of learning practical camera skills, but also developing our ‘eye’ for a great shot. We were taught about aperture, shutter speed, exposure, filters, ISO numbers, among other features of the camera. With the class so small, our instructor had enough time to give us individual feedback as we photographed each building. While there was a lot to take in, we were given frequent opportunity to really let what we were learning sink in and be put to practice. Although the weather weren’t on our side – it was a grey, cloudy day with occasional light rain – I’m happy with what I photographed throughout the day. There’s a selection of images I was really pleased with (such as the two I have published here), and some I wasn’t so enamoured with. However, that’s the whole process of photography, it’s all about the right light, conditions and angle coming together to create the perfect shot. There was so much things to think about afterwards. the most challenging one I think will be patience, it takes time to get the right photograph. While I would never consider myself a good photographer, I completed the workshop feeling more knowledgeable and confident with my skills going forward. Steve was a great instructor – patient, encouraging and full of experience. I thoroughly recommend the workshop and whole Obby booking experience. Now what am I going to learn next..?

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Wanderlust 108: Find your zen at a ‘mindful triathlon’ of running, yoga and meditation

© Wanderlust 108

Wanderlust 108 is a lifestyle triathlon of running, yoga and meditation

With wellbeing and mindfulness bigger than ever, the lifestyle industry is booming. There are many people (myself included!) who prefer calmer forms of exercise instead of being a sweaty Duracell bunny going at 100mph. Following its success internationally in recent years, the Wanderlust 108 ‘mindful triathlon’ is coming to London this September.

Wanderlust, who produce the largest yoga lifestyle events globally, in partnership with adidas will host their signature triathlon at Victoria Park in East London on Saturday 23 September 2017. Participants will take part in a 5k run (or walk), a 90-minute alfresco yoga class and a guided meditation session. Guests can also add a free scheduled class in aerial yoga, acro-yoga, hooping, walking meditation, workshops, or a community yoga experience from local teachers. In between sessions, triathletes will also enjoy  live music and DJs, artisanal vendors, local foods and further activities.

Wanderlust regulars will be flying in from the US, including DJ Taz and Arli Liberman providing the soundtrack for the yoga and meditation. Visitors will also be able to buy all the kit to fulfil their wellbeing and fitness needs from stalls featuring local vendors, as well as the ‘adidas x Wanderlust Dome’, showcasing their latest joint collection. There will also be plenty of local and organic food and drink to keep you fuelled from on-site vendors.

Aside from London, Wanderlust is hosting events in over 60 cities in 17 countries in 2017, including Milan, Lisbon and Barcelona in October.

  • Wanderlust 108 takes place on 23 September 2017. At Victoria Park, Grove Road, Tower Hamlets, E3 5TB. Nearest stations: Mile End, Cambridge Heath or London Fields. From 7.30am-4pm. Tickets from £30. For more information, visit the Wanderlust website.

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

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Serpentine Pavilion 2017: Seek shelter under a canopy of triangles

Gin-tasting and cocktail masterclasses at the Botanical Bar on the Floating Pocket Park

© Merchant Square

Go on a gin journey at the Botanical Bar pop-up on the Floating Pocket Park in Paddington

Alfresco drinking is one of the best things about London in the summer (in my opinion!). When the weather is good, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a cocktail in the fresh (fresh-ish – we are in London after all!) air. This summer, the urban scenic surrounds of the Grand Union Canal is playing host to a new drinking destination.

Setting up camp on Paddington’s Floating Pocket Park is a new pop-up venue from the team behind Lockhouse. The Botanical Bar will serve a range of gins and gin cocktails, with workshops and tastings on offer for dedicated gin lovers. Some of the signature concoctions on offer include ‘We’ve Got The Whole World Gin Our Hands’ (Beefeater 24, fresh lavender and lemon balm), ‘Dr Greenthumb’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Island In The Sun’. Among the many gin brands will be Beefeater London Dry Gin & Beefeater 24, Plymouth and Monkey 47, while the mixers come from the London Essence Company. Non gin drinkers are also catered for with mocktails, Perrier ­Jouet Champagne, soft drinks and Cornish ice cream.

Botanical Bar © Merchant Square

Learn how to make the perfect G&T at a tasting or masterclass

Gin-tastic events @ the Botanical Bar

  • Gin Tasting (Thursday 20 July and Thursday 10 August)

Find out your perfect G&T as you’re guided through ‘beautifully balanced botanicals, tantalising tonics and gorgeous fresh garnishes’ so you can make one at home. Learn tasting techniques so you can detect the best quality gin. Tickets: £25pp.

  • Cocktail Masterclass (Thursday 3 August)

Learn how to mix up classic cocktails or Botanical Bar originals with talented mixologists. Event includes a welcome drink, before you take part in a fun, interactive masterclass. After you’ve learned your skills, there will be a farewell shot to finish. You can also enjoy 15% discount of a meal at Lockhouse. Masterclass lasts 90 minutes and costs £25pp (inc 5 drinks).

  • Botanical Bar @ Floating Pocket Park, Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington or Edgware Road. Open Thursday and Friday until 18 August 2017 from 12pm-9pm. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website  or Lockhouse website.

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

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Migration Museum review: Take a closer look at Britain’s cultural landscape

© Migration Museum Project

The Migration Museum has opened at The Workshop in Lambeth, central London

Following the Brexit vote last year, the Syrian refugee crisis and Donald Trump’s shock presidency, the issue of migration is bigger than ever. London is renowned for being a multicultural city so it’s no surprise most of the capital voted against Brexit. Most Londoners recognise the huge contribution migrants have given to the city. However, migration is no new phenomena, with waves from various parts in the world dating back centuries. London itself after all was founded by migrants, aka Romans, in the 1st century. As someone who was born, grew up and continues to live in London, I can’t think of many friends who are British going back generations. I myself am a first generation Brit born to Irish parents and most of my best friends have migrant parents.

With migration being such an important part of London’s history, it’s amazing there hasn’t been a museum dedicated to the subject until now. However this spring, the Migration Museum opened its doors at The Workshop in Lambeth. The Workshop, an arts and community space which is home to the London Fire Brigade Museum among others, is a temporary venue for the Museum until 2018. The museum aims to explore how the movement of people has shaped the country throughout history.

© Migration Museum Project

Call Me By My Name gives a voice to the Calais Migrants, a group generalised and stereotyped
© Migration Museum Project

I paid a visit recently and checked out two exhibitions: Call Me By My Name and 100 Images Of Migration. The latter was a collection of thought-provoking images of migrants in Britain from professional and amateur photographers, dating back decades to present day. Although some photos were very different, they collectively demonstrated up the variety of experiences and lifestyles of migrants in the UK. I especially liked a photo of children from different ethnic groups playing together, which was a lovely display of integration and reminded me of my childhood at a multi-cultural, south London primary school.

Call Me By My Name is a particularly powerful exhibition, giving a voice to those who experienced living in Calais’ infamous ‘Jungle’. Following a lot of negative criticism and pigeon-holing in the media, this multi-media exhibition humanises them. Through art, images and other media, it delves into individuals’ motivation for leaving their home country, their desperation to seek safe refuge and their hopes for a new life in the UK or Europe. Reading some of the first-person narratives was incredibly moving and I think many MPs should check it out before making decisions regarding the UK’s treatment of migrants. The exhibition is far from one-sided, giving the views of politicians, lorry drivers and others who hold more negative opinions of migrants. I was specially struck by the tear gas curtain – what looks like a piece of decoration from afar, it’s only on closer inspection you realise it is made of tear gas canisters used in ‘the Jungle’, provoking a disturbing image.

Overall, the Migration Museum provides a balanced, informative and moving collection, putting migration in context and demonstrating it cannot be generalised. Regardless of your background, it’s well worth visiting to explore how movement of people having shaped our country, particularly when Brexit is likely to make a huge impact on this in the coming years.

  • Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. Open Wed-Sun 11am-5pm (late opening on last Thursday of the month until 9pm. Free admission. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website.

To find out about the new ‘No Turning Back’ exhibition at the MM (Sep 2017-Feb 2018), click here.

To read Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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Competition time! Russian Revolution exhibition at the British Library

© Sam Lane Photography

Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths is on at the British Library until 29 August
© Sam Lane Photography

This year marks 100 years since Russian overthrew its Tsarist autocracy. Following the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, Russia embarked on a turbulent period as different political and social groups battled to lead the country. To mark the Communist uprising, the British Library have curated a collection of propaganda and memorabilia from different sides of the battles.

Admittedly I didn’t know too much about the Russian Revolution before visiting this exhibition. I had been fascinated by the story of the ‘missing’ Grand Duchess Anastasia as a child, who has since been confirmed as murdered along with her family in 1918. The Russian Revolutionary period is convoluted and involves many different groups with different agendas and methods. The various parties were not only seeking power, but complete overhaul of society as a whole, so they needed to convert and influence the Russian people to their way of thinking… with propaganda.

© British Library

Red Army poster
© British Library

In a bid to unravel this complicated period, the British Library have set out their exhibition in six stages – The Tsar and his People; Last Days of the Monarchy; Civil War; The Bolsheviks in Power; Threat or Inspiration?; and Writing The Revolution. The exhibition begins in the last days of the Russian Empire, featuring photos of the Imperial family juxtaposed against scenes of millions of Russians living in dire poverty. Peasants were being heavily taxed with little in return so it’s clear to see why there was rising resentment against the ruling classes. An amazing part of this initial section is a first-edition of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was published in London in 1848. Other impressive pieces are a coronation album of Nicholas II and a 1902 letter from the then-future Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin asking to use the British Museum’s Library under a pseudonym ‘Jacob Richter’, which he was using to evade the Tsarist police. Russia’s brewing social discord wasn’t helped by World War I, with conscription leading to labour shortages. Many Russians were unhappy over Tsarina Alexandra when she was put in control over the Government while her husband acted as Commander-in-chief of the military. Many were suspect about her relationship with the faith healer Rasputin – who is seen in photographs and as a caricature in pamphlets and posters.

The sections of the exhibition centring on the revolution itself features a range of propaganda and memorabilia from the period, including handwritten notes from Leon Trotsky with annotations by Lenin and pieces of Red Army uniforms. I particularly liked the electronic map of the different groups’ movement around Russia – seeing the Red Army swell, then retreat, before eventually achieving national dominance. Finally, the exhibition concludes with how the Revolution was captured in past tense, with the ruling party using propaganda to keep the status quo.

Using a varied collection of objects, posters, film, photos and other memorabilia, the British Library has provided a fascinating insight into the motivations behind the Revolution and breaks down the myths of what it achieved. It’s certainly heavy stuff and requires a clear head, but is a worthwhile visit from Russian history aficionados or novices.

  • Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths is on now until 29 August 2017. PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest stations: Euston, King’s Cross or St Pancras. Open Mon, Wed-Fri: 9.30am-6pm, Tues 9.30am-8pm, Sat 9,30am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tickets: £13.50 (free for members). For booking, visit the British Library website.

Competition time!

To win a pair of tickets to Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths at the British Library, like our Facebook page and fill out the form below. Closing date: Monday 24 July 2017. (Competition is now closed!). The winner must live in the UK and be able to visit the exhibition before it ends on 29 August 2017. Only the winner will be contacted after the competition closes.


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

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