Tuesday, 5 April 2016

What to expect when visiting London

SURE, everyone knows the basics of London - the home to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye.
England’s capital and most visited place is commonly seen as the gateway to Europe. No-one misses visiting London when they head to the UK, it’s almost compulsory.
Whether you want fish and chips, to ride the tube or visit Camden Markets, London has it going on. Modern London is multicultural and full of life and you’ll never get bored however, there’s more to it than you’ll imagine. 
You’ll need an Oyster card which charges a deposit of £5 + £2.40 per journey on top. 
If you want to rest while you get taken up or down on the escalator, make sure you stand on the right side. Especially in London, people will frantically be coming past you on the left so make sure you remember this.
The tube gets crammed! Peak times such as rush hour in the morning anywhere from 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm can be tight. The tubes will fill up quickly and it won’t be a comfortable ride back.
It’s not unusual for it to be silent on the tube. In London no one seems to speak to each other, whether they are staring at their smart phones, reading the paper, snoozing or gazing into the distance, expect this.
It doesn’t rain as much as you think. London actually rains less than Paris or Rome not to mention the rest of the UK. It may be grim sometimes but when it rains it is normally just in spurts rather than all day long. Just take a hoodie or a coat just in case, or a small umbrella if you want to carry one around.
Tips aren’t as essential in London as they would be in the US, however it’s common to tip. If you’ve ordered food 10 per cent is a good start however if there is a service charge added, which is more often now 12.5 per cent then that’s the majority or all of your tip right there.
Dining out in London doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Visit a money saving website like MyVoucherCodes to avoid paying full price when eating out at London’s popular restaurants.
Pubs are a way of life here. People will often go to the pub during the week but mostly on weekends. If you sit in the pub all weekend then that’s considered pretty standard in London. Don’t feel the need to do something productive, the pub’s a fine substitute for that!
Most of the city’s top museums and galleries are completely free entry. So if you want to head to the famous British Museum, Tate Modern or National History Museum then you won’t have to pay a thing.
Shopping alternatives from Oxford Circus are Covent Garden, Kings Road and Regent Street. They’ll be more low key in comparison however are good options to consider.
The black cabs have a novelty about them but you’ll find if you do ever take a taxi, local cabs and Uber are cheaper and more convenient.

And the most important - have a jolly good time!

Monday, 15 February 2016


Chel-Ski is a new dry slope that offers skiing and snowboarding training just ten-minute walk from Fulham Broadway Station. Don't expect to be bundled up in salopettes as your hurtle into artificial snow drifts, because your session takes place on a giant astroturf treadmill. Getting used to skiing on the spot is a challenge, but once you are up and gliding smoothly it's the ideal setting in which to gain confidence and perfect your technique.Sessions at Chel-Ski are always with an instructor and as much for beginners as improvers - it must be far less scary to learn to snow plough on a bit of carpet than on an icy slope. 

Despite the apres-ski themed cafe, this is no substitute for the real thing but, for what is essentially a combination of a lesson and a workout, it's great fun. 

As is seeing how confused people get when you tell them you went skiing on Monday morning!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ideas for Valentine’s Day in London

Celebrate at the fabulously romantic Clos Maggiore for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day in London.

The famous ‘Bob Bob Ricard’ of Soho serves a luxury British and Russian menu and is well worth a visit. Feel free to use the ‘Press for Champagne’ button as many times as you like.

Dining in the dark will open a new world of possibilities at Dans le Noir.

Fancy afternoon tea on Valentine’s Day? Why not try one of these lovely venues.

Alternative ideas for those of you who are very active
Try the ping pong at tables ‘Bounce’ or something completely different at the indoor rock climbing venue, The Castle Climbing Centre. An expedition across the roof of the O2 sounds like a challenge but could be surprisingly wonderful.

Views of the city
The view of the London skyline from the Shard is truly a breathtaking experience.

An unforgettable Champagne Experience at the London Eye will have you spinning in your own private capsule.

And lastly, one naughty little secret is the Coco de Mer. Pssst!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Essential Guide to Christmas in London 2015

There's nothing more festive as London at Christmas time. Plan well ahead to avoid disappointment. 
This year Christmas Day falls on a Friday. There are public holidays for Christmas Day and Boxing Day on the 25 and 26 December. As Boxing Day is on a Saturday in 2015, there is an additional public holiday on Monday 28 December. New Year's Day (1 January) also falls on a Friday and this is a public holiday.

London on Christmas Day

Virtually everything is closed for business on Christmas Day in London. Some places, including banks, remain closed on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Almost all of London's attractions close for at least one day over Christmas, and many close from 24 to 26 December, as well as 1 January. There's considerable variation, so it's a good idea to check directly with specific attractions before travelling.
There is also a chance to enjoy the traditional Peter Pan Cup Christmas Day race. Since 1904, swimmers have been braving the cold for this outdoor competition in the Serpentine lake. Wrap up warm and admire all participants! 
Some pubs and bars open for a few hours on 25 December, so you can pop in and share some Christmas cheer.

Public Transport Services over Christmas

Public transport is limited over the Christmas period, so make sure you plan your journey in advance. There is no public transport running on Christmas Day. Make sure you can get home safely on Christmas Eve as there are no night buses and public transport starts to wind down from early evening.

Some taxis are available although they may charge more on Christmas and Boxing Day. You should check details before travelling and book in advance to avoid big queues. Check the Transport for London website www.tfl.gov.uk before travelling.

Staying Safe Over Christmas and NY

Any minicab journey that isn't booked by phone or in a minicab office is illegal, dangerous and puts you at risk of attack.
Simply download the free Cabwise app on Android or Apple to your smartphone or text CAB to 60835 to access Transport for London's Cabwise service. You'll receive two minicab numbers and one taxi (black cab) straight back. Texts are charged at 35p per enquiry plus the standard text message rate. Roaming rates apply to overseas networks.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Ping Pong Bar Bounce in Shoreditch

Ping Pong Bar Bounce just opened on Old Street. Don’t worry if you can’t really play, you could always have a drink and watch!

Alongside 17 ping pong tables there’s an Italian restaurant, serving pizza, antipasti and canapes, plus a cocktail bar. A private room with three tables is also available for bookings.
If you’re keen on the whole pub games thing, there’s more good news. The Bounce team has also been working on Flight Club – a darts bar opening on Finsbury Square later this year.
What do you need to know? Bounce is at 239-241 Old Street, More info here .

Friday, 14 August 2015

How about a bike ride in London?

Wheely good days out

1. Route - Bermondsey to Angel (paradise for foodies)

Start out at Maltby Street Market
Pick up some breakfast or brunch along the Ropewalk. There is an option for every appetite but we would particularly recommend the excellent doughnuts from St John.

Head for The Gherkin
From the Tanner Street docking station cycle over London Bridge, past the Monument and into the City to take a selfie with London's favourite food-shaped building.

Next on to Whitechapel
Drop off your wheels at Fashion Street and walk north up Brick Lane, enjoying the delicious smells from its famous curry houses.

You are heading for Elys Yard
Grab some street food from the gaggle of vendors there. Mother Clucker's fried chicken is just the delicious protein hit you will be craving. Then on to Brick Lane Market docking station. 

Pedal over to Angel
Your final stop is Islington Green, where you can take your pick from the many cafes and restaurants on Upper Street. The tempting cake selection at Ottolenghi will be hard to resist.

2. Route - Hyde Park Corner to Chelsea (culture for vultures)

Pick up a bike at Hyde Park Corner
Make for the Serpentine Gallery to check out the 2015 Pavilion and Duane Hanson's disconcertingly realistic sculptures. 

Next, to the Natural History Museum
Dock at South Kensington tube to experience the museum's virtual-reality tour 'First Life', which takes you back 500 million years. Lovely David Attenborough provides the intro.

Nip into the Saatchi Gallery
Do not miss the extraordinary permanent installation by Richard Wilson, or Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon's works combining newsprint and woodcuts (until 6th of Sept).

Wind up at Chelsea Physic Garden
Dock your bike at Royal Avenue, SW3. Protective brick walls mean the ancient botanical garden has its own micro-climate and the Tangerine Dream Cafe is a serene spot for tea.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Beach action in London this summer

The Beach at Brent Cross Shopping Centre

100 hundred palm trees and 250 tonnes of golden sand have landed in Brent Cross (North London). What can you expect? Teacup rides with a rollercoaster and one of the last remaining traditional helter- skelters. Enjoy the fish and chips together with many summery drinks on offer and chill out in giant deckchairs next to a paddling area. Great idea after day of shopping!
What you need to know:  start from 10thof July – 2nd of September (12pm until 10pm), Tube Station – Brent Cross then 210 bus, Entry £3

Beach East at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

With 2,200 sq metres of sand to tempt weary workers to unwind with sandcastle building and balmy evening walks. A gigantic paddling pool and fairground rides will entertain the kids, and Pub Tropicana and Coconut Joe’s bar will keep adults suitable refreshed. Bring me sunshine...
What you need to know: start from 11th of July – 31st of August (10am until 10pm), Tube Station – Stratford, Free Entry

The Beach at JW3 in Jewish Community Centre

You will find all the best bits of summer including deckchairs, paddling pools, barbecues and plenty of sand. There is fun for all ages and free entry, although some events are charged and ticketed.
What you need to know: start from 5th of July – 31st of August, Tube Station – Finchley Road, Free Entry