Sunday, 26 April 2015


This weekend, my Mum and I took a little detour out of the hustle and bustle of central London and instead, hopped over the river to Greenwich.

When I was little, Mum had taken Lu and I here before to see the Cutty Sark, but I have to admit I remembered very little of this trip. This time however, we were just visiting to see what the area was like- recently I have been flat hunting and so trying to get to know some different areas to our normal stomping grounds!

We visited the beautiful grounds of the Old Royal Navel College, popping inside some of the buildings to see the stunning wall paintings and intricate carvings.

Outside, we sat on the grass, listening to a band who were practicing somewhere in the college, their music drifting out of an open window.

Then, like any Brit who feels the slightest hint of sunshine, we headed for ice cream!

We walked away from the Navel College towards the Queen's House. Some of the views we encountered from here were just simply incredible!

It's always great discovering a new area. In a city as large and varied as London, I love how there's always something completely new and different just around the corner...

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Inner Circle: The Club Upstairs at L'Escargot

At the end of March I received a mysterious sounding invitation inviting me to an event hosted by ‘The Inner Circle’. Intrigued, I read on and discovered The Inner Circle was an exclusive and high end dating service for single professionals, which, for three nights only, was taking over the new Soho private members club ‘The Upstairs Club at L’Escargot’, and turning it into a dedicated ‘singles bar’. Now, L’Escargot is a bit of an establishment in itself. As one of the oldest and most revered (not to mention, in my experience, very tasty!) French restaurants in London, this venue definitely aroused my interest in the event. But, since I am happily coupled off with my lovely boyfriend, I decided I would just have to send my little sister Lulu, accompanied by my friend Sarah instead to check out what was going on! So, off they went armed with a camera, to see if they could discover what The Inner Circle was all about.

A few days later, I had a chance to sit down and ask Lulu all about the event. So, with no further ado, let me introduce Lulu, my bubbly, self-confident, 21 year old sister. She’s currently at uni studying Economics and Philosophy and has her job in the city already lined up for when she finishes! Here’s what she had to say on her experience of being part of The Inner Circle…

“The first thing that hit me when entering The Upstairs Club at L’Escargot was the heat. It was stuffy and warm and despite having spent quite some time getting ready, I found myself stripping off many of my layers. The second thing that hit me was the number of people. It seemed everyone had had the exact same idea- our invites had said the event started at 8pm so, in the interests of being fashionably late (and not the only person at the party) we’d all arrived for 9pm. The third (and much more interesting) thing that struck me was how much I liked the d├ęcor. The Upstairs Club felt decadent but also modern. For example, there was one small room with red velvet walls which felt almost seedy. But not in a seedy seedy way. It was a cool seedy. Old age glamour, maybe? The main room had a big glass atrium which was just simply very pretty and quite a contrast to the velvet room.
Upon arriving (and since we were ‘press’- thank you big sister!), Sarah and I were presented with a bottle of Prosecco. Then, we went for a wander around the venue.

There were three main rooms in which to mingle. The Inner Circle had definitely chosen a brilliant venue to force people to talk. One room was tiny, three of the walls lined with sofas. You were practically knee to knee with other guests and so it would have been impossible (and definitely rude!) not to introduce yourself. Corridors between rooms were not the widest, lending more opportunities to bump into people and introduce yourself. The Inner Circle had also come up with a clever little ploy to incentivise conversation- if you and a friend managed to both pair up with another person and then all got a photo taken together, then you would be rewarded with a bottle of Prosecco! (Oh, and apparently a photographer from Tatler was there!)
The event was definitely lively. In one corner of the main room, a saxophonist and a DJ played, although I thought it was a shame that they were not made more of a focal point as, tucked away in the corner of the room as they were, it made it quite hard to get up close to the music. Everyone there seemed happy and comfortable, and, a credit to The Inner Circle’s screening policy I’m sure, well dressed and rather good looking. I was definitely having a pleasant time.

The evening The Inner Circle put on at The Upstairs Club was definitely an enjoyable one. I felt that one of its big pluses was that the crowd were definitely well chosen. Pretty much everyone was between 25 and 35, which, although maybe a little old for me personally, lent its self perfectly to its target audience of young professionals. More than that, (although this may have been all that Prosecco’s fault,) everyone I spoke to was interesting and outgoing.

Beyond this, as I previously mentioned, L’Escargot’s new club certainly was a good venue. The maze of comfortable little rooms and narrow corridors meant that bumping into people was easy and intimate. If I had arrived to the event on my own, I wouldn’t have been uncomfortable as sooner or later, I would have started chatting to someone! However, arriving as a pair was definitely ideal as you could easily walk around together without being too intimidating to approach! 
There were however a couple of drawbacks which I feel I should mention. As I said, the heat initially was pretty unbearable when the rooms were at their busiest, which seemed a shame after so much effort had been put into getting ready! Luckily however, as the room calmed down, it got cooler. Additionally, I noticed that the cloakroom appeared to be somewhat unguarded and open to anyone on the occasions I attempted to put in my bag. In the end, concerned for my belongings, I opted to carry them around for the evening! There also didn’t seem to be any games or activities (which had been mentioned on the invite) going on. It may be possible that I missed them since there were so many people and since I left at about 11, but if they started any later then that would have been a bit of a shame as a fair few people would have missed them.
All in all, I had a very enjoyable time exploring The Upstairs Club with The Inner Circle. Next time however, I’ll be sure to bring a smaller bag and a fan!”

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Cocktail Trading Company

Last Friday, I *finally* got a chance to go to a bar that I have been very keen to visit ever since I first heard about it opening- The Cocktail Trading Co. Now, I’d tried to go to the Cocktail Trading Co. twice previously but, first time I made the mistake of not standing in the (at the time, rather short) queue, and the second time I just got there far too late- the queue was out the door! However, this time, luck was on my side!
In a tiny basement pretty much bang opposite Liberty, down a narrow, slightly rickety staircase The Cocktail Trading Co resides with its truly remarkable menu.

It comes in a tiny book and each cocktail listed is accompanied by a detailed illustration of what to expect. I looked through it slightly incredulously- some of the drinks just looked impossibly fabulous!
I started with a ‘Sauvignon Private Ryan,’ which, consisting of sherry and apple brandy, turned out to be totally and utterly delicious. It came dressed with some micro basil, mint and another purple herb I didn’t recognise, as well as a surprising sprinkle of a kind of fruit a fibre mix and a pair of smoking matchsticks!

My friend Immy went for a Tu-Whit-Tu-Whoo-Woo which tuned out to be a bubbly concoction in an owl tumbler, garnished with a healthy dose of candyfloss…
James tried a Scouts Honour, which much to our delight, came with a skewer of toasted marshmallows which were melted in front of us by a chatty (and rather entertaining) barman. Not only that, there was a small flat tin stuck in the ice on top. I won’t tell you what was inside as it would ruin the surprise, but it had us giggling into our cocktails to say the least!

Unable to avoid the lure of that little illustrated menu (and of course, because the company was too much fun to leave) we decided it was perhaps time for seconds.
After much umm-ing and ahh-ing I finally settled on a ‘Welcome to Kentucky, have a nice day.’  This rather extravagantly named tipple turned out to be more of an alcoholic meal than a simple drink as piled on top was a hearty handful of dried, flavoured noodles, dusted with icing sugar!? Somehow, this worked pretty well and I happily munched my way through my drink.
Immy’s second drink was a Violet Fizz which came (I guess kinda unsurprisingly by this point) in a rather tasteful shade of lavender. The top was decorated with more mystery herb, broken meringue and an edible flower! These drinks were seeming more and more edible works of art and I almost felt guilty as I dismantled them to slurp them up!

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my experience at the Cocktail Trading Company. The staff were wonderful (thank you for the extra marshmallows!) and the drinks really quite special (and not too expensive at £9 each!) – the whole experience was definitely worth the wait! So if you find yourself near Oxford Circus, definitely go and if there’s a queue, just wait- this bar is most definitely worth it!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race!

This weekend, Spring most definitely came to London. The sun shone dazzlingly in the sky, blossom bloomed from every tree and birds sang brightly (okay, okay, you get it, I’m excited about Spring) as we skipped off to Putney Bridge to watch one of the most traditional events in the English sporting calendar- the Oxford/Cambridge boat race.

This year history was being made, as, for the first time, the women’s boat race was to be run on the same day as the men’s. For us, this simply meant double the excitement and double the chances to win. Having grown up in and around Cambridge, my sister and I were staunchly on the light blue’s team, ready to wave and cheer them on to glory!

Firstly however, we had some serious picnicking to do. So, after meeting up with our friends, we found ourselves a spare bit of grass (a surprisingly impressive feat!) and set up camp. To our backs we had The River Thames and in front of us was a giant screen displaying all the run up commentary to the race. On a small stage, live music was playing as we dug into our hummus and carrot sticks, and the general atmosphere buzzed with excitement!
The ladies’ race was first, and so off they went, cutting swiftly through the river, each team trying desperately to outdo the other. Cambridge fought bravely, but unfortunately this year, Oxford managed to top them, gliding into first place. A groan went up from the Cambs supporters, disappointed to see the women’s team fall behind. But! Not all chance of glory were lost- the  men’s race was to come!
Then, the screen announced that the boys were up. We rushed to watch from the river bank, (we were right near the start line,) fighting to get a place where we could just see a glimpse of the river. Then they were off, blades slicing through the water in perfect union. The race seemed a little closer than the women’s, and we shouted and screamed our support, desperately egging them on! But it wasn’t to be. Oxford (boo, hiss!) managed to gain a lead and refused to give it up, no matter how hard the Cambs team tried. Devastatingly, those pesky Oxfordians managed to claim first place.

Disappointed, we consoled ourselves with the simple fact that although maybe this year our rowers hadn’t quite managed to bring home a victory, at least we knew we were part of the better (and certainly more beautiful) city.  This fact lifting our moods just a little, we fought on to enjoy the rest of what was the most glorious of London Spring day.