Category Archives: London

Mussel Men

Last Saturday night I headed to deepest darkest Dalston with a group of friends to check out the Mussel Men pop up at Fabrica 584.

There seem to be a plethora of foodie pop ups around at the moment, and I’m making it one of my new year’s resolutions to try to visit all of them! But Mussel Men in particular sounded epic, and perfect for a wintery night in January to combat the post Christmas blues.

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So here’s the deal- you book in pairs (but we went as a group of 10 and that worked really well) and for £35 you get a kilo of mussels and frites to share, a bottle of prosecco and either oysters to start or a dessert. A pretty good deal for central London I would say.

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The food is all yummy and good quality- simple but well done. The dessert was delicious, but I ate it all before I could take any pics, which was awkward given I was meant to be sharing it…

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So, while the food was great, and worth visiting for that alone, one of the main attractions is definitely Captain Bob and his thumb warfare. Wannabe Mussel Men can challenge Bob to a thumb war, and if you beat him you get a free Mussel Men t-shirt! What’s not to love about that!?

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We quickly realised though, that Captain Bob is pretty fierce when it comes to thumb warfare- in fact I’m pretty sure he has never been beaten- ever.

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We even resorted to trying to arm wrestle him, and when that still didn’t work we decided to accept his kind offer of a free t-shirt if we ordered another bottle of Prosecco (no great burden there).

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After that we decided it would be much more fun to just challenge each other to thumb wars in the weird little thumb boxing rings that they had- at least one of us had a chance of winning!

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Check out the next Mussel Men pop up on this weekend- you can find the details and book through their website here.

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We’re all taking our training seriously for our next thumb war showdown with Captain Bob. In the meantime, definitely check it out! Enjoy x

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Dach & Sons

I’ve been very lazy recently and haven’t written any blog posts in a while. It all went downhill after we got back from our wonderful vacay in NYC (more about that soon). When we got back to London, the days were shorter and colder and work seemed to be getting longer and longer each day. But, I am decidedly back on the blogging wagon now and hopefully it will force me out of my winter hibernation mode.

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine from school moved to London, and the best bit about it is that she is living in North London too, a mere 15 minute bus ride away! So as I was riding the c11 to check out her new pad and it was taking me on a little jaunt around my local area, I was amazed by how many cool restaurants and local hangouts I never knew existed. This weekend I set out to recify this situation and planned an evening in Hampstead.

I love Hampstead, say what you want about it (yummy mummy land, ladies that lunch etc), but it’s such a lovely village with the heath right there, gorgeous shops (where I always seem to pick up a bargain!) and nice restaurants. We had wanted to check out Dach & Sons, an American style hot dog and slider joint, for a while.

Dach & Sons opened earlier this year and it serves American style food as well as a selection of beers and bourbons. It’s run by the same people who do Purl and the Whistling Shop, both of which I love, if you haven’t been- you must! The decor is a cool diner type vibe and the staff are super friendly and helpful.

We tried the signature hog-dog ‘the daschund’ which is a homemade frankfurter and the beef sliders, both of which were yummy!

I was feeling a little under the weather so I didn’t try any of the cocktails, but I saw some sublime looking mint julips being made. Unfortunately until I shift this yucky cold I’m sticking to soft drinks. But I was obsessed with their tall carafe style glasses- I really want them for my house!

The sides were pretty special as well, we had coleslaw which was delciously tangy and fries which were right on the money. They even have homemade ketchup!

The dessert menu is very enticing as well, with all the familiar favourites. We opted for the apple pie with homemade toffee icecream, both of which were scrupmtious

My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to check out their speakeasy style bar upstairs- as I didn’t even realise it was there until I looked at the website today!

Afterwards we went to watch a film at the Everyman cinema in Hampstead. As much as I love going to the Odeon and eating a bucket o’ popcorn, the Everyman is just a much more civilised way to go to the cinema. Comfy armchairs, table service and the option of wine is so much nicer. We saw Argo, which I would highly recommend, and not just because I love Ben Affleck.

Next time you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, do expand your mind to North London, there are so many gems. Dach & Sons and a film in Hampstead made for a very nice wintery date night. Enjoy x

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A morning at the Paralympics

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend the morning watching an Athletics session at the Paralympics. After having a wonderful day at the Olympic Hockey a few weeks earlier at the Riverbank arena I was determined to get a chance to experience an event inside the stadium. I tried in vain every day in the run up to the Paralympics to get tickets and it got to the stage where it was clearly interfering with my work, as people I don’t really know in the office would ask me in the kitchen if I’d managed to get tickets yet. Luckily, just as I was developing a serious vendetta against the London2012 ticket website a very lovely friend saved the day and offered me tickets to an Athletics session that she wasn’t able to make.

Before going to the games my knowledge of Paralympic athletics was ashamedly limited to Oscar Pistorius, but I was super excited to get inside the stadium and learn more. But as it was the first morning session for the athletics meet and mainly heats my expectation for what the atmosphere would be like was not sky high. But I couldn’t have been more wrong, the stadium was packed at 9.30 on a Saturday morning and the atmosphere in the crowd was incredible!

Quite soon into the session we had witnessed the first GB gold medal which went to Richard Whitehead in the T42 200m final, a category of event for people who have impairment in a limb. I wish I had of known more about the classification system before I went to the games but I was able to understand the variations  in events as I watched and then did some proper research when I got home. Watching Richard Whitehead win was so exciting because at the start of the race he was coming last and then when he got onto the 100m straight he just blitzed so far ahead of everyone else- incredible!

We were lucky enough to see lots of different events, ranging from wheelchair racing, to discus, club throwing (which I had never seen before- kinda like shot put but they throw a wooden club that looks like a rounders bat), long jump and lots of track races. The track races I enjoyed watching the most were in the category where the athletics ran with a guide as they had a visual impairment. I thought it was fascinating to see how the athletes and the guides worked together throughout the race and appreciating the nuances of the event like the guide not being able to cross the finishing line first

 

The other memorable event was one of the heats for the mens 1500m where the athletes had impairments in their arms. An athlete from the tiny North East African nation of Djibouti (yep I’ve never heard of it either and I even have a geography degree) got lapped twice and finished 7 minutes after all the other athletes. But even  though he knew he didn’t have a chance of getting through to the final he just kept running around the track by himself while the entire stadium stood up and cheered him on. I’m aware that this sounds extremely cheesy, but it was a really special event to witness.

 

To say I enjoyed going to the Paralympics is an understatement- it was awesome! The Olympics makes made me quite emotional at the best of times so the Paralympics was on another level. I’m so glad I got to experience it and appreciate the skill and strength of the Paralympians, it’s something I won’t forget for a long time.

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Cinema under the Kensington stars

Earlier this summer my sister visited me in London and while she was here we decided to check out Kensington Palace. It had just been renovated and most importantly I had never been there, which is quite rare for a London tourist attraction!

The Palace was a great way to spend an afternoon in London. The new exhibitions are interactive and informative at the same time, and the experience far exceeds most other museums I’ve been to in London. The part I liked best was that they have games for little (and big) children in each room and one fab treasure hunt type game about different roles in the court that you follow the entire way through the exhibition. While we visited they had a special exhibition called ‘Victoria Revealed’ which detailed the life of Queen Victoria who grew up in the Palace. I learnt lots about Queen Victoria, mostly that she was a pretty fierce lady- she proposed to Prince Albert rather than the other way round, had 9 children and was queen for almost 64 years.

While we were visiting I noticed that later in the summer they were having outdoor cinema nights in the palace gardens showing royal themed films (naturally!). So I got together a group of girlfriends to go and watch The Young Victoria and continue educating myself about the life of my second favourite English Queen (anyone close to me knows how much of a Liz II fan I am).

The screen was set up in front of the Orangery in the palace gardens. It was an absolutely gorgeous setting and everyone had brought picnics to munch on while watching the film. I really enjoyed the fact that the film was set in the venue at which we were watching, it definitely added a cool dimension to the experience. The event was very well run, super friendly staff, free give aways when you arrive and you could even rent blankets and inflatable back cushions (they really had thought of everything).

I could lie and say it was a glorious night and we watched the film under a balmy starry sky. However being England, it obviously rained. Just for a little bit though, and at quite a crucial time in the film, so there was absolutely no chance of us calling it a day due to a few drops of rain. We just put up our umbrellas and eventually it passed!

The event was run by the Luna Cinema and they run lots of similar nights in beautiful venues all over the country. Check out their website for more details, but to give you a flavour it’s combos like Casablanca in Holland Park, The Artist in Kew Gardens and Shakespeare in Love at Hampton Court Palace.

I thought it made for a lovely London evening, so get a few friends together soon and take advantage of this late summer we’re enjoying to experience cinema under the stars, or you won’t get the chance until next summer! Enjoy x

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A day of Olympic fun

After two weeks of Olympic action we finally got to go to Olympic park last weekend!

I had watched more sport in the fortnight leading up to our visit than probably the rest of my life put together and was starting to become an expert on riveting events such as archery, weightlifting and long distance running. That, combined with hearing from every Tom, Dick and Harry about how fantastic the Olympic park was, was making me seriously excited for our visit. I felt a bit like how I felt as a child before going to Disneyland. The reality of the park was not dissimilar with all the friendly volunteers, colourful signs, big crowds and ability to make me want to spend stupid amounts of money in the shop.

We came in via the Stratford entrance where the Aquatic centre is. As we were walking into the park Tom Daley was diving in the morning heats and even from outside the noise from the crowd was really loud!

Our event was in the afternoon so we had a bit of time to check out the park, which really was as great as everyone claimed. I loved walking down by the canals where all the lovely english flowers were and seeing all the different arenas and stadiums at the park.

To add to the theme park-like feeling the Olympic park had, in the morning we witnessed a parade for the Olympic mascot Wenlock. He had his own procession with dancing volunteers and a full on scottish band with bagpipers. Then there he was at the end of all the commotion waving and dancing in the back of a golf buggy. The man standing next to me took the words right of my mouth when he turned to his toddler and said ‘that Wenlock’s a bit weird, isn’t he?’

After paying an obligatory visit to the world’s biggest McDonalds for lunch (I had a cheeseburger, obvs) we headed down to the Riverbank arena to watch the Hockey. The Riverbank arena is a fab venue, with its psychedelic blue and pink hockey pitch. It is completely outside though, so we were lucky that the weather was glorious the day we were there.

We had tickets to the men’s bronze medal match, which as luck would have it, ended up being between Australia and Team GB. I was feeling pretty conflicted before the match, I wasn’t really sure who I would cheer for or who I wanted to win. But this was cleared up very early in proceedings when hardly anyone cheered for the Australian team and I knew I needed to support my home country.

Having never watched hockey before I managed to get the hang of it quite quickly- although all the video referrals and penalty corners were a bit strange. It was a great match and the atmosphere inside the stadium was very exciting, I felt lucky to have experienced the atmosphere at a GB game.  The teams were tied at half time, but the Kookaburras won in the end (I do love how Australian sports teams always have animal themed names). I was really pleased as I thought they played better than their opponents, but a part of me felt sad that Team GB didn’t get a medal on home turf.

After the hockey ended we hung around at the Olympic park for the evening and watched the Athletics on the big screen. We were able to see Mo win his second gold medal which was so exciting- everyone watching the screen was on their feet cheering him on at the end and being able to hear the roar from the stadium at the same time was amazing.

Like everyone else in London I’ve definitely been having Olympic withdrawal symptoms since the games have ended. It was such a great two weeks and I’m so happy that I was in London to experience it. I’m trying desperately to get Paralympic tickets at the moment (like the rest of London) in a bid to draw out the fun a little longer. If you didn’t get a chance to go to the Olympics I would definitely encourage you to try to get Paralympic tickets as it is worth seeing the park and more importantly being part of the experience. Enjoy x

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Prom Queens

I’ve realised over the last few months that I have an infatuation with buying tickets to events, particularly ones in high demand. On paper that sounds extremely weird, but I just love the triumph of when I’m able to get tickets to something that completely sells out or that loads of people want to go to. At one stage a friend of mine and I got so obsessed that we were like a ticket buying tag team, wasting many a work hour on the ticket master website. I’ve had some big successes with my ticket purchasing persistence like getting loads of tickets to the Take That concert (don’t even get me started on the Olympics- it was like my own personal ticket purchasing Everest but I got there in the end). The downside of this obsession is that occasionally I do get caught up in the excitement of it all and buy tickets to events that I soon realise I don’t actually want to go to (for example Capital summertime ball… definitely a hysterical purchase and it was complete pain trying to get rid of them).

Anyway, recently this ticket buying hobby led me to buy tickets for the BBC proms at the Royal Albert Hall, which always sells out really quickly (and I managed to get 2 sets of tickets- yay!). I’m not in any way, shape or form into classical music but the proms seemed like such a quintessentially British thing to do and I had never been before, so I thought if there was ever a year to try it, 2012 was certainly it.

I managed to rope in a friend to join me on my random expedition to the Royal Albert Hall and considering how cheap the tickets were (about £18 each) we had really good seats. The Royal Albert Hall is such a beautiful building so if anything it was great to just be able to go inside and experience the atmosphere, even though it was so boiling inside the day we went!

We were definitely in the younger demographic of attendees and it was blindingly obvious that we were not hardcore classical music fans like the other people around us. It was also hard to tell whether everyone had their eyes shut because they were soaking up the music or because it was so hot inside and everyone was rather old (I’m sure the former!).

One of the things I loved about the experience is how much appreciation the audience gave the musicians. The applause went on for such a long time, I had never experienced anything like it at a concert before.

Although you have to put in a bit of effort to get the tickets (get on the website as soon as they go on sale), the tickets themselves are very good value and you can also just rock up on the day for standing tickets (there’s over 1000 every day) which are super cheap.

I would absolutely recommend going ‘promming’ at least once, and I’m glad I’ve ticked it off my London bucket list. x.

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Olympic Festivities at The Fringe 2012

The Olympics are finally here- yay! After so many years, months, weeks of build up the games have started and I’m pretty excited about it!

The topic of discussion this week at work, home and with friends was definitely the Opening Ceremony. Where were people going to watch it? Who would light the cauldron? And would Daniel Craig REALLY parachute into the stadium?! I had decided some time ago that I wanted to watch the Opening Ceremony at home- because I take this Olympic stuff pretty seriously and I needed to be able to concentrate! But at the last minute the boy got offered tickets to go to the Opening Cermony party at The Fringe 2012, a pop up members club right next to the Olympic Stadium!

After (12) years of listening to my parents banging on about how great the atmosphere was in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics and how people partied in the street and everyone got so into the games, it was a once in a lifetime experience blah blah blah. I decided that watching the ceremony with other Londoners right next to the stadium was exactly the type of thing that they were talking about and I needed to get over my idea of watching it on the sofa, and as the Aussie in me would say, just ‘get amongst it’.

The Fringe really didn’t disappoint. It is a converted 4 story warehouse right on the canal with fantastic views of the stadium. It’s a huge venue, with a massive outdoor area which has bars, foodstalls and a stage with live music. All the indoor areas have screens showing coverage of the games and the outdoor area has a huge screen too- which is where we watched the ceremony.

We were very lucky that although there was a little bit of rain before the ceremony started it eased off for the rest of the evening. Being right next to the stadium we also had a fantastic view of the red arrows fly past.

It was such a fantastic atmosphere and everyone was SO excited when the ceremony started!

I thought the entire ceremony was great, but one of the highlights was definitely the section with James Bond and the Queen, and then being able to actually see the parachuters drop out of the plane was awesome! Sadly I didn’t manage to get a picture as I was way too excited to be messing around with my camera at this point.

I felt very proud to be a Londoner watching the ceremony, but of course I felt extra proud when the Australian team came into the arena.

From where we were sitting outside we could see all the fireworks from the stadium, which was super exciting.

It was such a great night, although I paid for it the next day! I would highly recommend The Fringe if you want a fun place to watch the games, they are showing all the coverage over the next few weeks and being right next to the Olympic park really makes you feel part of the action. Enjoy x

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