Tag Archives: London

Moving to Instagram

28 Feb

I’ve jumped on the Instagram bandwagon (better late than never) and will be posting my steps from there – 22 to go!

Follow me on ainhoab89.


I’ve done the first one already – here’s a little preview:


STEP 30: dinner at The Dairy in Clapham. To finish off… Biscuits, salted caramel and malted barley ice cream; baked pear, clotted cream and cinnamon shavings and complimentary sugar coated wafers and mini doughnuts. Best things come free. #thedairy#instablog #instacollage #dessert #foodgasm#chocolate #art #blog #saltedcaramel #igers


Step Twenty-Five: Maltby Street food tour

12 Nov


London’s street food scene is mushrooming, and for the real London foodie in the know, Maltby Street market is a must.

While Borough market has a well-established devoted following, and is famous for certain stalls (the raclette), Matlby in Bermondsey isn’t as well known which makes it even more intriguing.


In terms of appearance, it isn’t the typical food market. Stall after stall line both sides of the narrow street but some back into old warehouse spaces under arches, making them look even more makeshift and quirky. The planks and old scaffolding behind the stalls look a little unstable, but traders have embraced it all and use them as shelves to prop up bottles and hang sign boards from.


On the Saturday morning that we went, we had to walk single file at times – it get’s that busy. Some people were already enjoying a tipple from bartenders serving drinks from a dresser, while the other option for diners was to take their food to an eating area in an antiques shop, and sit among old bath tubs and sinks. Trendy, but without the East Landan trendos.


Food options on offer – smoked salmon, pastrami bagels (ultimate Jewish soul food), hummus and beef stew, fillet steak sandwiches and more, and moving onto the sweet stuff – cookies, waffles, French tarts and the like.


Apart from the food stalls, some well-established businesses have set up shop permanently in the old warehouses, like Bea’s of Bloomsbury and St John’s Butchers, hinting that Bermondsey is well up and coming in London’s foodie revolution. The eateries were already packed by the time we got there, so I’ll definitely be going back for the half-restaurant, half-warehouse dining experience.


And after the nibbling and eating, we walked around the antique shops which have the most bizarre finds on offer, including a headstone for Simon Cowell that was taken from the London Dungeon.


Maltby Street is intriguing, and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were directed. It’s within walking distance of Borough market, which is where our tour, led by funnywoman and guide Emma Parker of Coutours, started.

We were led round the stalls and given tastings, starting off with our morning bread and moving on to explore the raclette, oysters and more.


The tour isn’t just a case of dine and dash though. At each stop, Emma imparts her wisdom and shares the “secret history” of London’s street food. Who knew fish and chips were a hybrid creation from Ireland and Portugal, and that oysters were the first, and very cheap, example of street food?


Tours are available to guests staying at Presidential Apartments, luxury suites in Kensington, with pick-up at the apartments, then heading to Borough and then Maltby.

Tour prices: ÂŁ28pp for minimum two people, or ÂŁ75 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

Tour times: 10am-1pm.

Call Emma on 07934781 056 to book your place.






Step Twenty-One: outdoor swimming at Brockwell Lido

23 Aug


After seeing the hot dogs or legs parody on Tumblr, I have to admit I’m guilty of taking a fair few of these shots myself. But I never thought I’d get the chance to play the game in not-so-sunny London…until I went down to the Brockwell Lido.

The outdoor swimming pool has been nicknamed “Brixton’s Beach” and on a hot day, locals are sure to flock to it. The pool is a whopping 50 metres long and let’s just say the measly number of lengths I managed didn’t reach double figures.

There are lanes for serious swimmers and a more casual area that young kids and teenagers were diving into. The vibe is very chilled out and anything goes – I spotted a few bras instead of bikini tops on display and people jumping in in t-shirts.


One of the main reasons I was drawn to discover the lido was the TANNAGE opportunity.

There’s ample space around the pool to plonk yourself down and sunbathe (bring your own towel), and a special decking area if you arrive early enough to bag a space. Some lockers are provided but most people just leave their stuff on the side.

As it was summer, the pool wasn’t heated so was a bit of a shock at first, but I quickly warmed up and had a very refreshing, albeit brief, paddle.

It may not be as idyllic as lying on a white-sand beach, or as relaxing as a deserted island, given all the children running around, but it has a lively and friendly vibe. And if like me, you aren’t keen on sunbathing in a bikini in a park, and need a little dip now and then, the lido is the next best thing.

The poolside cafe stays open after the pool shuts and although I didn’t have anything, it apparently serves good food. I’ll definitely be going back for dinner when the surroundings are lit up and look beaut, according to Google pics, or on Tuesdays when the cafe does “Prosecco Tuesdays” (a glass for ÂŁ3).


The details:

Location: inside Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road. Hearne Hill train station or a short bus ride away from Brixton tube.

Opening times: Mon-Fri, 6:30am-8pm, Sat-Sun, 8am-6pm. Bank holidays – 8am-6pm.

Price: ÂŁ5.75 for adults to swim; ÂŁ3.05 for entry before 10am on a weekday.

For cafe menus click here. (People do bring food in but I’m not sure if this is allowed).

For main website and to check out their gym and spa facilities, click here.

If you just want a laugh, click here.



Step Seventeen: rent the pedalos in Hyde Park

14 Jul

pedalos ali and jaz

Ah, British summer. The phrase should be an oxymoron, but the heat wave of late has proved me wrong, and looking at the forecast the sun is here to stay. For the next week at least.

While this glorious weather lasts, I’d recommend a pedal around the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

So it’s not quite Yacht Week, alas, and doesn’t really compare, but it was the next best thing in our hopes to recreate that week of bliss at sea.

It’s a great little experience for when the sun is shining, and was a proper feel-good-summer-take-me-back-to-my-childhood outing. And if you get two boats, you can link up, just like YW really.

group photo

Pedalos and rowing boats are available to hire from the Boathouse for a half hour or hour. We chose the half hour option as we thought it would get a little monotonous (ha-hum strenuous), but ended up going back the next day to hire the boats for a full hour, because the outing really was that fun.

The sun shone, we pedalled around the lake, got excited when cygnets swam past and had a picnic by the bridge, listening to the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys concerts playing in the distance. Bliss, away from the hustle and bustle of London.

Definitely recommend spicing up a park outing with a pedalo ride round the lake. Just don’t fall in like Jo.


The details:

Location: Boathouse, the middle of Hyde Park

Opening times: 10am-8pm

Prices: adults ÂŁ10 for half an hour, ÂŁ12 for an hour; children (under 15) ÂŁ4 for half an hour, ÂŁ5 for an hour


pedalos me and jaz

Step Ten: I want to live in this museum

19 Feb


I will try to be as brief as possible…because from my experience when I’ve said “I’ve just found a really cool museum,” I often don’t get a positive response/any response. But I will do my best to convince you why the Wallace Collection is worth a visit.

And perhaps even enlighten you to its existence.

(Please don’t click the back button now).

  1. The museum itself is absolutely gorgeous. None of that modern/contemporary art clinical whiteness. It’s a historic London town house that belonged to Sir Richard and Lady Wallace, and each room is a different colour and pure luxury – chandeliers, high ceilings, winding staircases, big windows, curtains that match the wallpaper but not in a distasteful way. Rooms called The Landing and The Oval Room etc. etc.  The works.
  2. All the art was collected from the 18th and 19th centuries, from four different Marquesses. So it’s a pretty big family collection and they didn’t really discriminate when choosing. In their 25 galleries, you can see the most random things, from tankards to table clocks to rifles to canons, and the most respected, from Rubens to Rembrandt.
  3. The modern crypt holds temporary exhibitions and Murillo’s paintings are currently on display until 12th May.
  4. There is a wicked painting of a TRUE LAD that made my day. And one of a creepy strawberry girl. (See below)
  5. It’s free entry! So if you really hate it, you can leave and go shopping on Oxford Street instead which is just down the road. But if you loved it, you can go back for the free, drop-in talks or sign up to their work shops and art classes.
  6. After the museum, you can act all civilised in their Courtyard Restaurant where culture-vulture Caz and I enjoyed a cheese platter served by an actual French lady who played the part of pushy French waitress very well. It is the perfect escape from the outside hustle and bustle and has an a la carte menu, afternoon tea, wine list and other drinks. Three cheeses for £10 to share and we were stuffed.


My conclusion: I could happily spend another three hours wandering around the museum. And I was born in the wrong time.

To check out their website for more details, click here.

The details:

Location: Hertford House, Manchester Square (just behind Selfridges). Bond Street tube.

Opening times: daily from 10am-5pm

Free admission.

TWC62579strawberry girl

Step Two: walk through the rain and don’t get wet

5 Oct


Londoners are very much used to the rain. Most people hate it (like the spitting or drizzling that doesn’t quite justify an umbrella), some people love it (I think they’re really thinking of exotic tropical storms when they say this), but overall the city has its fair share of downpour.

But what if you could walk through the rain and not get wet?

The latest art installation at the Barbican Centre, Rain Room, lets you experience this utter control and satisfaction.

You walk through a 100 sq m field of falling water, and as you move, you repel the rain. Magic. It might sound a little dull – walk through the rain, like we don’t do that every day in London – but this time you control the weather. No more, *why does it always rain on me* moments.

And the best thing is you’re not rushing through a throng of people. The ushers are very strict (walk, don’t run!), and only allow 5 people on the field at a time. So you get to enjoy this temporary, new-found power in peace.

Obviously as it’s a quirky thing to do in London and just opened yesterday, we queued for 45 minutes but it was well worth it. Aim to go during the weekday when it’s less busy. And after head to the Food Hall for some delicious cakes and brownies.


The deets:

Free admission.

Open daily from 11am to 8pm, until 10pm Thursday.

Closed 24th, 25th, 26th December and 1st January.

The Curve, Barbican Centre. Tube: Barbican.

Around until 3rd March 2013.