Posted in Food, London, Uncategorized

Relaunch of the B-Rex @ Byron

 

Last week I was invited by the lovely people at Byron to join them for the relaunch night of the B-Rex (and V-Rex for vegetarians or C-Rex if you prefer chicken over beef) at their Kensington High Street branch. I’m sure the restaurant is full of high spirits most of the time but it seemed an extra special affair on this particular occasion with their own in house DJ mixing some tunes, a photographer to document the shenanigans and a graffiti artist creating his own version of the B-Rex.

The restaurant itself is next to Holland park and a short walk from High street Kensington tube station, it is also not too far from the Design Museum if you were planning a day out in the area. With the Art Deco design and colourful décor we were soon comfortable in our seats and ready to get our hands on the much anticipated B-Rex.

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The big burger in question is made up of a beef patty with 100% British, grass-fed beef topped with cheese, onions, pickles and American cheese, the mayo and BBQ sauce gave it a little sweetness. I’m not usually a fan of anything hot but the jalapenos added a nice little kick while the bacon and onion ring added some crunch to the texture.

As burgers go it was probably one of the best I’ve had… and no of course nobody actually caught me smiling at it before taking my first bite!

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Okay, maybe they did.

I knew I would be full with the burger so chose a salad to accompany it but still couldn’t resist the idea of a Freakshake for dessert, especially with all the goodies that were laid out to accompany it.

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We left with our bellies full and a lovely gift to takeaway that included a bottle of Byron’s famous sauce so we can create our own specialities at home! We had a great evening and the team at Kensington were very welcoming and kind.

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With half term approaching I think I may treat my youngest to a Byron burger at our local branch in Clapham as he hasn’t forgiven me for not inviting him to the launch night (He is a bit of a foodie and would love the B-Rex) Also if you know me, you will know that whenever I look for somewhere to eat I will check whether it is on the Tastecard app first and delightedly Byron is so that’s a bonus!

If you want to find out where you can pick up your own B-Rex then visit the Byron Website.

*We were given a free meal for the purpose of this review, all opinions my own!

** I do usually take all my own photos but as there was a photographer to hand I just sat back and enjoyed my meal for a change! Photographs kindly supplied by Byron.

Posted in London, The London Link, Uncategorized

The London link #4

Welcome back to the fourth edition of the London link!

Posting this linky just makes me realise how fast two weeks seem to fly by and particularly how much I haven’t done in that time. I have been busy running around London this week but it was more dealing with normal daily tasks and sadly coping with the loss of a family member and spending time at the hospital visiting my nan who has been poorly for a while. I haven’t done anything touristy, it seems like with the return of the rain and the mild weather it feels less like summer and more like reality, but I do have a couple of plans next week. One of the things I will be taking part in is a tour of the Supreme Court in Westminster so look out for that blog post! I am then off on Holiday to Dominican Republic for a week so may have to put back the London link #5.

Two of the places I have been hanging out this week are Crystal Palace and Brixton, both local to me and great for popping into high street stores and independents. Kyra has a new obsession with charity shops so we have been visiting a few local ones to see what they have on offer.

I do use the hashtag #ohprettycity on Instagram and occasionally share photos from other instagrammers on that account that tag me, so feel free to join in!

I am adding an old post about a ghost walk in the city, would love to see where you all have been, here is a bit about the linky if you wish to join in…

The London link is a fortnightly linky for bloggers that live, work or are just visiting this vibrant city, where you can share all your London related posts. You can add daytrips, attractions, restaurants, parks, events or any other posts about the big smoke.

There are not many rules so it is simple to join in…

  • Add up to two London related posts, old or new
  • Share the love
  • Insert the linky badge into your post or sidebar
  • Use the hashtag #thelondonlink on all social media or commenting

I will comment on and share all posts that have been linked up and I will also share my favourite on the following fortnights post. As the purpose of the link up is to see all the amazing places across the capital I hope you can visit other posts and comment too if you enjoy them.

Click the box below to add your link. You can find the badge code at the bottom of the page 🙂

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

A visit to Parliament

I had never thought of visiting parliament before, in fact I wasn’t aware that it was open to the public so when I was invited to take a tour I was quite intrigued.

I’m not really much of a fan of politics and was a bit worried that I would find it boring if I didn’t know what they were talking about but there was actually so much more to it than just politics. For a start the actual building is amazing, from floor to ceiling it is full of intricate details, ornate decoration and historical paintings.

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I never normally opt to join in with tours as I like to just explore by myself but our tour guide Daniella was full of information, facts and amusing anecdotes. She really brought the subjects to life so as you are walking through you could imagine the queen in her robing room sitting on a sofa by the window rather than on the throne that has been sun damaged over many years.

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The Royal family play a big role in Parliament and since watching The Crown and Victoria on Netflix I have become much more interested in the history so found it all really interesting.

It felt very strange going into the house of commons after seeing it on TV for so long, it looks so much smaller in real life! I was really impressed with how much you get to see on the tour – not so impressed that I wasn’t able to photograph it all though! (you can only use a camera in the main hall and St Stephens hall) I mean have you even visited somewhere if you don’t have photographic evidence? I was going to request images of parts of the building that I wasn’t allowed to photograph but I think it is nice to leave it to you all to visit yourself as it is so much better in real life!

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Westminster hall is the oldest of the parliamentary estate and has played a central role in British history. There seems to be a lot of work going on so we couldn’t really appreciate its magnificence and many smaller details were covered up.

I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone interested in architecture, art, history or politics and you can finish off the tour with a trip to Voice and Vote: Women’s place in Parliament exhibition which features unseen historic objects, pictures and archives from the parliamentary collections, this will be on until 6th October.

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For quite a small exhibition tucked away in the corner of Westminster hall, there is loads to see about such an important subject. Although the tour of Parliament has a fee, this exhibition is free entry so great to take the kids over summer, especially all those budding politicians!

Have you ever visited Parliament before?


 

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Love is Love – Pride 2018

I have never been to a Pride parade before, they do look so much fun but I tend to avoid anything that is overcrowded as I had a bad experience at the Notting Hill carnival back in the 90s. As I was attending a tour of Parliament in the early afternoon and I knew that there would be people milling around Trafalgar square I decided to take a stroll towards there and see if I could get some photos of the festivities.

I didn’t realise as I approached that actually the parade would be passing through at the same time and I managed to see all the emergency services and floats from lots of different companies all in support of the day. Trafalgar Square itself was so full I didn’t attempt to go all the way up there but Whitehall was full of people but not too congested.

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I am so glad I took a walk to see the parade, it was such a joy to photograph so much colour and happiness and the atmosphere was truly electric. To top off the afternoon England won their game against Sweden and the jubilance continued on!

Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

A spa day at The Montcalm Hotel – Marble Arch

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As a London and Travel blogger, my friends and family know that I like nothing more than to get out and experience new things (when I’m not lying in bed reading a good book) so when it comes to buying me presents they usually opt for the physical type, a meal out, a trip away or an experience voucher… just don’t make it skydiving because I would never do it!

On mothers day I received a Virgin voucher for a trip to a spa with a champagne meal for two…oooh. It took me a while to get round to booking it but the process was quite easy and one thing I liked about it was that it gave you the option of swapping your experience for something different if that particular activity didn’t take your fancy, for instance if I received a skydive I would have swapped it for an afternoon tea perhaps! I knew my eldest daughter would also appreciate a spa day so she accompanied me to The Montcalm.

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The Montcalm is a short walk from Marble arch and has a five star rating. It seems quite small from the outside but as you enter you are met with a light, spacious lobby area that is filled with little seating nooks with mismatched furniture in neutral warm tones.

We were shown down to the spa in the basement which was divided into different spaces and were given a pair of slippers and a towel each. I didn’t particularly want to use the gym but wanted to try out everything that was on offer so we brought our gym clothes for a quick workout. There were a couple of people in there when we arrived but they were just finishing up their session and we soon had the place to ourselves. I tried out all the machines but left well away from the contraption that was full of weights, it was supposed to be a relaxing morning after all!

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After the workout we had a quick change into our swimming costumes to visit the spa room. It consisted of a sauna and steam room that had a shower in between. Next to that was the Jacuzzi that had the option of the bubble machine, this switched itself off every so often and you had to wait a while for it to be reactivated. The small pool was also similar to the Jacuzzi, the water was warm and although it had buttons to get the same jet stream effect as the Jacuzzi, these did not work. To be honest the pool was nice just to relax in but wasn’t big enough to actually make use of if you wanted to have a proper swim and as we found out a few minutes after entering the space can quickly feel crowded.

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While we were in the pool there were two guys in the Jacuzzi, it would have felt a bit awkward to get in there with them so we went to try out the sauna instead. As we both suffer from panic attacks and there was a big red panic button on the wall it kind of made us a bit apprehensive so we just tried it out with the doors open… I know you would think this defeats the purpose but it was still really hot in there!

As we left the sauna, the two guys had moved over to the pool so we went into the Jacuzzi but then another two ladies came in and it felt even more awkward, I mean there are lots of chairs around and a snug little area with magazines but nobody wants to go to the spa to sit around on chairs do they? After a while it was approaching our lunch time and we felt very hot and sweaty so we departed to cool off in the showers and get changed.

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The changing rooms were clean with lots of space to keep your stuff but only had two showers and two toilets so luckily we were the only ones in there, especially as the showers are not very private with see through glass doors!

Before our visit to the spa we tried to check out what food would be served with the virgin voucher but couldn’t find any information other than the fact that it was a one course meal. I mean I don’t know how much the voucher costs because I don’t like to check these things as it was a present but I thought a one course meal was a bit miserly and if they want to make it a special day they should at least add a dessert, even if they charge a few pounds extra.

The restaurant, which is just beyond the lobby, was a lovely big room with skylights to provide extra light. I liked that the artwork on the wall matched the furniture.

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We were a bit confused as to why they gave us a menu with all three courses on it if we were only to choose one meal and although I assume we could have purchased more had we wanted to, we were not offered their normal menu with the prices of anything on. There were only three main meals on offer unless we wanted to pay a supplement and if you are a vegetarian then you better be a fan of eggplant as that is all your getting! This did just remind me of Hard rock café all over again and I think that when Virgin make these deals with restaurants that they should be more upfront with what they are offering!

We both went for the Corn-fed chicken supreme with thyme and truffle although it didn’t mention any sides and we were left wondering if it would just be a bit of chicken on a plate. Luckily it was accompanied with a creamy mash, vegetables and half a roasted garlic and it was absolutely delicious, I ate everything including the garlic which surprisingly didn’t taste very garlicky. We also enjoyed a nice glass of prosecco (for some reason the small print states that you only get champagne if you attend the other hotel outside of London) which I had to finish for Jasmin as she didn’t particularly like the taste.

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Overall we had a really lovely morning, although it would be nice if the vouchers from Virgin experience were more transparent so you know exactly what to expect.

Have you ever visited a hotel spa or used a Virgin voucher, what was your experience like?

If you have visited anywhere in London then feel free to join in with my new linky #thelondonlink to add any of your blog posts, old or new!

 

 

Posted in London, Photography, Uncategorized

Free Range 2018 – The Old Truman Brewery

If you follow me on social media, you may have seen me share lots of info about Free Range. If you don’t follow me and have never heard of it then let me explain…

It has nothing to do with chickens or eggs!

Free Range is an annual show held at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick lane in East London to celebrate the graduate work of creatives across the country. A culmination of fashion, illustration, graphic design, photography, fine art, interior design and architecture are all exhibited in the season of art.

I am happy to share my thoughts and opinions on all the places I visit but I am a bit biased about Free Range as the work of myself and my fellow class mates is currently on show.

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Shows are split up across the month as follows:

  • Design Week 15 – 18 June
  • Photography Week One 22 – 25 June
  • Photography Week Two 29 June – 02 July
  • Art Week 06 – 09 July
  • Interior Design & Architecture Week 13 – 16 July

If you want to catch my work along with 13 other universities it is showing until Monday 25th. For my final work, I created two images that I took in Amsterdam, one at Keukenhof gardens and the other at Royal Holland flower auction I also added a book entitled A Floral Perspective. These were used for grading at our university gallery but right before the Free Range show I decided to print out a set of photos from the book, at the last minute the curation team thought it would be better to just use these in the exhibition.

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Work from a few other students at London South Bank

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As you can see not all the work is just photographs on the wall, there are installations, video, projections and wall hangings. Throughout all the university shows there were lots of innovative ways of shooting and displaying work. I didn’t actually get to see all the shows but I will be going back before it closes so may get to see some more.

Work from students at other universities

A few of the shows I saw included Middlesex university, Blackpool and the Flyde College, Birmingham City University, University of Westminster and Canterbury Christ University.

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The Truman Brewery is spacious, bright and airy so even when it was really busy on the opening evening, it didn’t feel too overcrowded. It is a large space spread over 3 floors so you may not get to see everything during one visit but there is a free programme you can pick up to see all the exhibitors at a glance and choose who you want to visit.

All the work on show is years in the making. If you do manage to see the show and admire a particular piece then be sure to let the artist know, follow them on social media or share it with your friends, it is not easy trying to make it in the creative industry and every bit of encouragement is welcome!

 

 

 

Posted in Food, London, Travel, Uncategorized

The Royal Oak – Orpington

The Royal Oak is a typical country pub set on the outskirts of London in Orpington, still accessible with the Oyster card but definitely a feeling of being away from the big smoke.

The pub is described as ‘oozing rural charm and rustic character’ and I have to agree. We visited on a weekday evening and the restaurant was really busy with a relaxed cosy atmosphere. The mix of wooden and leather furniture and range of wall hangings all add to the traditional character and give it a very homely feeling. Although the restaurant is really large, the space is divided into different sections so it feels like you are in a smaller, more intimate setting.

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On arrival we were shown to a small table for two in the window which was nice, although it only overlooked the entrance to the carpark so not much of a view. The staff were really friendly and chatty and we didn’t have to wait very long for our order to be taken.

The menu has a wide range of dishes. Starters include duo of pate, chargrilled lamb koftas and the soup of the day. The mains range from pizzas, steaks and burgers to seafood risotto and seared sea bass. There are lots of desserts including classics like Eton mess and sticky toffee pudding. Many of the dishes are also included in the set price menu where you can choose two dishes for £14.95 or three dishes for £18.95.

For starters we thought we would go back to the 70’s with the prawn cocktail, although it sounded a bit more upmarket as it was called a prawn and lobster cocktail served with a lobster mayonnaise and rustic bread!

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For the mains, I went for Hunters chicken which is a large chargrilled chicken breast topped with smoked cheddar and streaky bacon, served with triple cooked chips and barbeque sauce. This dish also has a tasty accompaniment of Portobello mushrooms in a smoky tomato sauce which I didn’t think the dish actually needed as it had salad but was an added bonus.

The Mr went for the big 8oz steak which is expertly aged for a firm texture and rich flavour. Served with triple cooked chips, homemade onion rings and a thyme-roasted tomato, you can also choose whichever sauce you would like and he went for the peppercorn. I don’t think the picture actually does the steak justice, it was huge and the man was very impressed, he is even still gushing about it now and he is usually quite critical when it comes to food! If you do order a dish with chips you are asked if you would like them thick or thin cut which is a nice touch as many people do have a preference.

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After the meal we were both pretty full but there is an option on the dessert menu to get a smaller size dessert with a hot drink so I thought I would go for this. I chose the chocolate brownie and ice cream which was really delicious, unfortunately it was still too much for me to finish but I gave it a good try.

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When we arrived at The Royal oak on a sunny day it was bustling with people, particularly outside, but by the time we were leaving it was fairly quiet with most of the customers in the bar area. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and would definitely return if we happen to be passing.

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It seems like the perfect place to while away a summers afternoon, indulging in a Sunday roast or even just grabbing a cold one to sit in the beer garden. We did ask if there were any cocktails available but they are more of a cask ale, craft beer and G+T supplier. They have a large offering of all sorts of Gin and Tonic in different flavours and even have an event at the end of the month ‘Come GIN with me’ where you can see what new gins have joined the menu. Other special days include a Fizz Friday and a Pie Wednesday.

If The Royal Oak looks like your type of hangout then check the website for menus, openings and to book a table.

*we were invited to The Royal Oak to try out the menu, all thoughts and opinions are my own