Tag Archives: london

5 things I learnt from the Women’s Equality Party manifesto for Mayor of London

london skyline mayoral election

The London Mayoral election is this Thursday and I’m yet to decide who I will be voting for.

This week I’ve been reading all the manifestos so I can make an educated choice. I think I know who will get my second preference vote (the one that ‘matters’) – but I’m keen to explore all options for my first preference.

The manifestos are rather glossy and fairly accessible, so if you’re unsure who to vote for it’s worth giving them a read. Sadiq Khan (Labour), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Caroline Pidgeon (London Liberal Democrats) and Sian Berry (Green Party) are the four key contenders but there are a range of other personalities and parties on the ballot too.

One party that caught my eye was the Women’s Equality Party. They obviously have a clear ideology and I was interested to see how that applied to more conventional policy topics like housing and transport. It was an interesting read – here are five things I learnt:

  • Founded in 2015, the Women’s Equality Party has over 45,000 members and registered supporters
  • 45 years after the Equal Pay Act the gender pay gap still exists
  • 5,500 rapes were recorded in London last year
  • 28,000 women in London work full-time but still provide 20 hours of unpaid care every week
  • Enabling women to work the hours and jobs they want would add an estimated £70 billion to London’s economy

Sophie Walker from the Women’s Equality Party is not going to be the next London Mayor, but I hope throwing her hat into the ring has captured the attention of Sadiq / Zac so London in 2020 is a safer and more equal place for women.

Soho in 1986

A few weeks ago I wrote about how special it is to go for a walk in London. Lee commented with his memory of walking in London in 1992, and now Simon has chipped in with his memories of Soho in 1986:

I worked in Soho in ’86/’87. I remember the old actor and his wife at number 40 Dean Street – George Munting, I remember Paul Raymond coming to check on his flats, I remember Derek Block getting angry with someone parking in his space, smashing the windscreen and then paying to get it mended. I remember Michael, I remember the gay pub on Old Compton Street. I remember the working girls and Dog Shit Alley. I remember the lump of lead the landlord at the Ship in Wardour street used to keep “just in case”. I remember “Just in case”.

I remember having a chat out of the window with a girl in marketing, 2 doors down and one floor up, I remember the offie in Old Compton Street selling the cheapest wine I ever bought outside France, T remember learning to juggle in Soho Square, I remember Rupert Rhymes (then head of ENO) bringing donuts, I remember being the only one in the neighbourhood that went into the bookshops for the books, I remember Ronnie Scott’s jokes, I remember a village. Good times!

Simon Harding

I want to say a big thank you to both Lee and Simon for sharing their memories and giving me a glimpse of a city I never knew. If you have a memory you want to share of London please do chip in.

Walking in London in 1992

Lee originally left this a comment on my post about Walking in London, but I think it’s interesting enough to share again here.

I wasn’t old enough to spend my days walking in London in 1992, but Lee’s painted a pretty different picture to the London I see on my walks today.

When I first came to London in 1992, I was doing work placements. Then I got my first job which paid 4.5k a year. My pay didn’t cover a flat, so I stayed in various places for free with friends. At the weekends, I’d walk everywhere. I hardly knew London, but with a Travelcard, a belly full of pound slices of pizza with dodgy coleslaw I discovered most of London. I’d walk from Belsize Park to Blackheath and back via Maida Vale, from Burnt Oak to Camden, from Greenwich to Oxford Street. I’d make it a rule to walk somewhere I’d never walked before. Detours were good. There was no plan.

I got to meet people and started to love London. It’s changed a lot. There are few places that offer solitude any more. The South Bank used to be quiet in places. I even saw Banksy before he was famous putting up an artwork (there were a few of them, it wasn’t him alone).

I loved looking up at buildings and catching glimpses of how things used to be, how they changed, imagining who lived in places and how and why areas evolved. The layers of history are still there to see.

What saddens me now, is that 24 years ago, the grottyness was old, the neglect was os something that used to be beautiful but was now falling down, or an old shop sign that had been left. This neglect was discovered and cherished (like Shoreditch) and made beautiful again (when it wasn’t redeveloped).Now the grottyness is new, plastic, cheap, gaudy or fake.

Lee Newham

Do you have memories of London from other years? I’d love to hear more.

The Duke pub in Wanstead

Last year we moved to Wanstead, a lovely little area in East London that has a wonderful village-like feel.

It was a new area for me – I’d visited Wanstead just three times before moving in. I fell in love with it instantly though and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I love Wanstead for lots of reasons, namely the numerous parks and open spaces on my doorstep, the excellent transport links into London and the independent shops and restaurants in the area.

Well, I love and hate Wanstead for that last one! It’s fair to say that my waistline has expanded since moving to town… but it’s so important to support local independent businesses, even if your waistline does suffer :p

There are several great pubs in Wanstead but my favourite is undoubtedly The Duke. It’s a short stroll from the high street and is a welcoming haven that dishes up excellent seasonal food.

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I’d been to the Duke a few times before I was asked if I fancied reviewing it. I’d been for Saturday brunch (perfect poached eggs and avocado on toast), Sunday lunch (roast beef with all the trimmings, washed down with half a bottle of a seriously tasty and reasonable red) and also just to work my way through their gin and tonic menu on a Sunday night whilst listening to some cracking live music.

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Last week though we headed down to our local to try dinner for the first time, and what a treat it was.

I started the evening with their recommended Aperitif, an Apple Drop. It tasted exactly like it sounded which was great, and was made from Martini Bianco, fresh apple juice & ginger ale.

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To start I had burnt leeks with a poached duck egg, chestnut mushrooms and truffle sauce.

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Really delicious and not too filling, unlike Alex’s hot smoked salmon salad with new potatoes and wild garlic pesto, which whilst also delicious would have filled me up!

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The burnt leeks dish managed to be delicate whilst also packing a punch in terms of flavour. The poached egg was perfectly runny, the truffle sauce wasn’t overwhelming and it all came together to make a really interesting leek based dish.

For mains I decided that since it was British pie week it would be rude not to order the Beef & Guinness pie. The meat was tender and tasty and the pastry was crisp – a pretty perfect pie basically!

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Naturally I also stole a few bites of Alex’s ricotta gnudi with roasted celeriac, buttercream sauce and parmesan. It’s a decadent, rich dish that I couldn’t manage on my own but would happily share.

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Rather full for a Wednesday night we decided to share something sweet for dessert. The apple and thyme pie with thyme custard had just a hint of thyme which was rather pleasant. The pie itself was perfect, stuffed with apples that were the right side of tart.

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The Duke is one of my favourite places to visit and I’ll be back very soon. Wanstead really isn’t that far out folks, so the next time you’re looking for a friendly pub that serves excellent food it’s well worth a visit.

The Duke
79 Nightingale Lane
Wanstead
London E11 2EY

13 ways to celebrate Christmas in London

christmas in londonChristmas spirit doesn’t have to be about consumerism. For me it’s all about finding ways to embrace the cold winter months and spend as much time as possible with my friends and family. Here are 13 things I do each year to celebrate Christmas in London.

Christmas in London

1) Carols by Candlelight

Union Chapel in Islington is a working church, live music venue and home to The Margins Project for London’s homeless. Each year the not-for-profit space hold a free Carols by Candlelight event that’s the highlight of my Christmas in London. Think classic carols, silly tunes and festive thoughts – with a side of mulled wine and mince pies.

2) Create your own Christmas Eve rituals

I think it’s because I’ve never celebrated Christmas Day that I’m obsessed with Christmas Eve rituals. I just find them fascinating! I love that rituals have been passed down through generations and that new families create their own special ones too (here’s a Christmas Eve ritual that I love).

3) Ice skating

Since breaking my leg I don’t take any chances, so you won’t catch me on the ice this year! However if you feel like taking the risk there are lots of places to go ice skating in London this Christmas. My favourite places to ice skate are at the Tower of London and on Hampstead Heath – although the view from the Natural History rink looks rather special too.

4) Christmas cocktails

I love a mug of mulled wine as much as everyone else but it’s good to mix it up every now and then… Fancy making your own Christmas cocktail? Try this apple pie cocktail recipe that’s guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.

5) Cologne Christmas markets

Sometimes the best way to celebrate Christmas is to leave London! This year I went to the Cologne Christmas markets for the first time and they were wonderful. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and festive and there’s lots to see and do. Unlike Winter Wonderland in London, all the Christmas markets in Cologne sell reasonably priced mulled wine (3 Euros a mug) and excellent street food that will leave you with change from a fiver.

6) Go to the ballet

A few years ago my friend Emily arranged for us all to go to the ballet before Christmas. Not only was The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum a truly festive extravaganza, but it was also the perfect excuse to see your closest friends right before the big day. If you’re not afraid of heights, the seats at the top will set you back just £10-£15 – not bad when you consider tickets to see a popstar cost ten times that amount.

7) Take a walk through London streets

When everyone else is panicking in Oxford Street the weekend before Christmas, wrap up warm, grab your camera and take a long walk through your favourite London streets. That’s what I did in Bloomsbury a few years ago, before spending the rest of the afternoon at the British Museum. A pretty perfect day out.

8) Farewell to Christmas at the Geffrye Museum

Visit the Geffrye Museum on 6 January for their traditional burning of the holly and the ivy. I went in 2013 and loved every second. They’ll be carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake outside in their beautiful garden – it’s not to be missed.

If you can’t wait to visit Hoxton, the Geffrye Museum can will still meet your festive needs in December with their 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes exhibition.

9) Go to the theatre

My entire family love Elf, so when we heard they were turning it into a musical this Christmas we had to get tickets. We dressed up in our finest Christmas sweaters, donned novelty head ware and settled down for an evening of laughter at the Dominion Theatre.

10) Volunteer

Crisis at Christmas always need volunteers. Whether you have a specialist skill like hairdressing or just want to make sure the homeless are warm and fed this winter, Crisis need you. More information here.

11) Get crafty

Search Pinterest for Christmas craft ideas or attend a workshop in London to try making something new. The Wallace Collection has a couple of sessions that look good – the glass painting one looks particularly interesting.

12) Visit Trafalgar Square

One of these years I’m going to do what I’ve always said I’ve wanted to – visit Trafalgar Square on Christmas morning. I presume it’s super quiet and it must be magical to visit somewhere that’s usually swimming with people. Alternatively visit sometime before Christmas to see the tree and enjoy one of the many free carol concerts taking place in the run up to the 25th.

13) Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

Nothing screams Christmas in London louder than Charles Dickens. Take a journey through Christmas Past and see for yourself how Christmas was celebrated in Victorian times.

How do you celebrate Christmas in London?

Eames exhibition, Barbican prints and Quentin Tarantino

So this is strange. I’m writing this week’s Sunday Selection in front of the Rugby (Australia versus Scotland) and I think… I think I’m enjoying it. After what feels like a lifetime of weekends being dominated by Rugby match after Rugby match I’m actually getting into it.

I had a bad cold at the beginning of the week so made sure this weekend was a quiet one. Brunch at our local pub was yesterday’s treat and a walk around Hackney Wick, Fish Island and the Olympic Park was today’s. Here’s what I’ve been reading in my spare time:

The hidden beauty of America’s parking garages

Bret Easton Ellis interviews Quentin Tarantino

This insanely amazing Essex home is on my visit list

Event of the week: The World of Charles and Ray Eames

Buy of the week: these Barbican prints have made their way to the top of my wish list

Have a great week.

Metroland, maps and London stations

A few London related bits I’ve seen lately:

37 London stations called something different 50 years ago

Wear your city

You can now rent a London telephone box to run a business

Metroland, 100 years on 

Lost iPhones travelling the world

A place based kickstarter project I love

Have a great week!

P.S. I’m all about the podcasts at the moment. Any recommendations? 

Nordic Bakery Cookbook

nordic bakery cookbook

Earlier this summer I was invited to breakfast at the Nordic Bakery near Baker Street. The Nordic Bakery in Golden Square has long been one of my favourite places to relax in London so it was nice to visit another of their locations.

I had the pleasure of meeting some lovely bloggers on the day as well as Miisa Mink. Miisa co-owns Nordic Bakery, wrote the Nordic Bakery Cookbook and does a ton of other interesting stuff too. I have a feeling that if you want to learn how to use your time effectively to make it count Miisa is the person you need to speak to!

When I spoke to her over breakfast that day at Nordic Bakery it was just before my birthday and I must have let that little detail slip. Lo and behold, a signed copy of the Nordic Bakery
Cookbook made its way to me to celebrate and I’ve been celebrating with it ever since.

My favourite cake recipes so far are the Banana Cake and the Orange and Poppy Seed Cake. They’ve turned out perfectly each time which so rarely happens and the flavours are outstanding. Nothing is showy or overbearing, everything is just perfectly balanced and a delight to eat. I’m yet to try my hand and the bread recipes but I’m confident that if I follow the directions they’ll be a success.

You don’t have to watch The Bridge or be obsessed with white floorboards to enjoy Nordic food. If you’re yet to try any Scandinavian food please dip your toes in the water with a trip to Nordic Bakery. I heartily recommend (and am quietly salivating over) the herring and egg sandwich followed by a hefty cinnamon bun, all washed down with a strong flat white. You can visit with friends, but if I’m honest, the Nordic Bakery is most enjoyable when you just need that hour alone.

Explore London with Fotoruta’s iPhone photography class

Anyone who reads this blog knows that my photos aren’t anything special. Unlike most lifestyle and London bloggers I don’t own a DSLR and have no intention of doing so. If I can’t master the basics no amount of fancy technology is going to save me.

Thanks to smartphones I take more photos than ever and I do think mine have improved since I got Instagram a few years ago. That’s the great thing about social media that we often forget; being exposed to other people’s work is inspirational and the more we see, the more we learn and the more we think about our own work differently.

My photography skills still leave a lot to be desired so for my birthday Alex sent me on an iPhone photography class (fellow Android users rejoice – these classes are for you too).

The Fotoruta classes are as much about exploring London as they are about photography. Importantly, it doesn’t matter how much you know about London or about photography either – the classes are small and there is plenty of time to ask your tutor specific questions.

On the day I met my group in a coffee shop in Camden. There was our tutor Jahel, me and a family of four. Usually being the odd one out is really off putting but it really didn’t matter that I was on my own. The family were lovely and there are no partner up activities to make you feel left out.

How well you know the area you’re photographing is irrelevant too. I’ve spent thousands of hours of my life walking through Camden whilst the rest of the group barely knew the place and we all got something out of it.

Before the day we were all encouraged to download specific apps. I’ve since learnt that this is as much about the camera functionality as it is about the editing options. One thing I really liked about this course was the focus on taking a good photograph; editing can be fun, but you need to understand what makes a good photo if you want to create something of value.

By the end of the Fotoruta workshop I discovered that what I liked to capture, and what I was best at capturing, mirrored my wider interests. I’m interested in the contrast between rich and poor. Old and new. Gentrification. Changing communities. Architecture. Juxtaposition. And (sadly) where better to capture that today than on the streets of Camden, one of London’s most diverse boroughs.

As you can probably tell I thought the Fotoruta iPhone workshop was great. If you want to learn more about photography so you can take better photos whilst out and about it is definitely worth booking yourself in for a class. Now for a few of my better photos from the day… Let me know what you think!

green building camden

A different perspective on Inverness Street

santander cycles camden

Having fun with new photography apps

camden town london

My 1000th photo of a building in Camden (probably)

street art camden london

Exploring the theme of loneliness

Check out more of my photos on Instagram and learn more about Fotoruta London here.

London Life

Sunday was always going to be all about Wimbledon, whether I liked it or not. I’ve never been a huge tennis fan but give me an excuse to make a themed afternoon tea and I’m on board. The match was pretty entertaining plus I got to use my new cake stand, so we’re all winners in the end.

Here are a few photos of London life from the last week:

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Contemplating which delicious recipe to make first from the Nordic Bakery cookbook

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A bloggers cocktail masterclass at the Pullman Hotel

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Drinks in the reading room at Paradise By Way of Kensal Green

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Brunch with friends at Duck & Waffle

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Pimms and finger sandwiches for the Wimbledon Men’s Single final