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 The London Link, Uncategorized

The London Link #3

Welcome back to the third instalment of the London Link!

We actually had bloggers join us last time, which was lovely! The summer holidays are now in full swing and I’m sure there has been many days out in the capital so would love to see a few more posts this week.

I spent a week in Cornwall training for my new job as an early years photographer and came back with so much information and equipment to get started, so while I have been getting my head around that I haven’t been out anywhere interesting in London. The furthest I have ventured is down the road to the local shops to pick up supplies for a family BBQ so took a quick snap as I stopped off.

I have the next few weeks free before flying off to Dominican Republic.. cant wait!! So I want to make the most of my free time by getting out and about. I will be visiting the Globe Theatre, not to see a play but to see my photos from a project I worked on with them which are now being displayed in their lobby. I also want to visit some more museums and galleries. One of the museums on my list is the Jewish museum that has an exhibition all about Asterix in Britain that was shared on the linky by Museum Mum last time.

Photograph of Asterix leaflet being held up outside the Jewish Museum London entrance

I 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 Travel, Uncategorized

13 Things to do on Brighton sea front

As one of the closest beach resorts to London and with so much to see and do in Brighton, it is no surprise that it is such a popular hot spot for visitors, particularly on a nice summers day!

After my recent visit to attend a family wedding I thought I would put together a list of things to do should you be planning a visit in the future.

Relax and take in the views

I love a bit of people watching or just the serenity of watching the sea gently rumbling to the shore so it is perfect to just pull up a deckchair and enjoy the surroundings. Deckchairs are available for a rental charge on the beach but are free to sit on halfway down the pier. You can also enjoy the view in close up by using one of the telescopes on the pier.

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Visit the attractions

The Sealife centre is right opposite the pier and the newer British airways i360 is a replacement to the wheel that used to be pride and place on the beach. The i360 is further down the beach towards Hove and is the worlds tallest moving observation tower at 450ft high. There are also many museums dotted around with the Fishing museum actually along the seafront.

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Sunbathe on the beach

Brighton is not really known for it’s sandy beach as it is actually a very stony beach but this doesn’t stop people laying out their towels and having a sunbathe. if you are brave enough you can even take your shoes off and walk down to have a paddle and if you are lucky you will find some sand. Although I did find sand on the first day I visited, it seemed to have disappeared when I returned to dip my toes in!

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Take a selfie

Do you need an excuse to take a selfie? I personally don’t take many selfies but I certainly caught lots of others doing it and who can blame them with such a lovely backdrop. There are also lots of comical seaside face cut out boards that you can use as a prop for your holiday pics as well.

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Eat

There are plenty of places to eat but fish and chips seem to be a firm favourite and there are no shortage of shops to pick up this seaside must have. There are also lots of hot dog, donuts and crepe pop ups and we personally like the Chinese hut at the end of the pier to get noodles and fried rice followed by an ice cream on the beach.

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Fairground rides

The fair is situated right at the end of the pier and you purchase a wrist band in order to go on all the rides, there is a nice selection for all ages and it is a great way to keep youngsters entertained.

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Soft play

You may not want to spend a day trip having to watch your kids in soft play but it is an alternative to the fairground, probably easier if you have little ones. It is also at the end of the pier but is inside the arcade and surrounds the restaurant seating area so you could give yourself a well earned rest while the kids wear themselves out.

Arcades

You cannot visit a seaside resort without a little trip to the arcades! My personal favourites are the 2p machines (one day I’ll be rich enough to move to the 10p machines) and I have amassed quite a collection of tat that I have won on them. I like to put them on my book shelf as they are all quite cute and remind me of family day trips whenever I see them on there.

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Get sporty

Whether you are a keen kayaker or prefer to just watch sport on the TV you can do either in Brighton. The water had a few surfers and jet skiers and there were some fisherman down by the water but on the pier one of the bars have set up a large screen to watch the tennis which is slightly less strenuous and you can enjoy a drink or two while there.

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Get married

Brighton may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a beach side wedding but the bandstand is the perfect intimate setting to get hitched and that is exactly what my aunt chose to do. I thought it would be far from private as it is out in the open and there are people walking past but actually as it is further down the seafront towards Hove it is less busy and passers by didn’t seem to bat an eyelid.

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Cool the kids off

If you are reluctant to let the kids get in the sea in Brighton they can still cool off in the outdoor pool a short walk from the bandstand. There is also a playground next to it so plenty to keep them entertained.

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Instagram the huts

I have been to Brighton on many occasions and had never seen the beach huts before but on this visit our hotel was further down the beach at Hove and the huts were right opposite. From the back they are all one colour but the owners are allowed to paint the doors any colour they like and they look really pretty so I couldn’t resist an Instagram pic. They are also available to rent if you want to use one on your visit.

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Pick up some souvenirs

Have you even been to the seaside if you haven’t come home with a bag full of magnets, keyrings or sweet treats? We personally love a selection of sticks of rock so I always bring them back for the kids.

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I definitely made the most of my trip to Brighton, have you ever visited? What would you add to the list?

 

 

 

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 Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Searching for Spring in Dulwich Park

On my journeys around London I have been spotting little traces of colour, including a couple of trees on my road sprouting blossom! Spring is my favourite time of year and I love to see colour appearing everywhere (and the sun occasionally making an appearance from behind the clouds) so thought I would take a stroll to nearby Dulwich park to see if there was any signs of Spring around there.

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Although it is not one of London’s biggest open spaces, Dulwich park has a lot to offer and something for everyone. Runners and dog walkers are around at all times but there are quite a lot of sporting facilities available. The tennis courts and basketball courts are free and open from 8am until closing and there is fitness equipment dotted around, mostly near the play area so no excuse for parents not to get in a quick workout while the kids are playing!

There is a pretty little boating lake which is open between April and October where we have spent many an afternoon navigating our pedal boat into the bushes.

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Next to the lake is a lovely little café with indoor and outdoor seating, which serves drinks, snacks and hot meals. I don’t think I have ever been to the park and it has not been busy inside so obviously a popular choice for visitors.

In my search for colour I only seemed to come across these plants which have quite an autumnal feel so I had to rely on the artwork to brighten up the day.

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So even though Spring was not in the air it was still nice to get out and about surrounded by greenery and getting my steps up on my Fitbit.

Have you seen any signs of Spring where you live?

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Going Ape in the Snow

When I booked tickets for my kids to Go Ape at Battersea park my idea was that they would enjoy themselves whizzing around the treetops while I went for a winter stroll around the park, I didn’t realise that it would fall on the only day that it was to snow in our part of town.

It didn’t go off to a great start as it was a freezing cold day and although the snow looked really pretty it was also raining which kind of takes the magic out of it. Following that I booked the kids on the junior trail of Go Ape which they were not impressed with as they have been a few times and consider themselves pros at it!

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What I love about Go Ape at Battersea Park is that it overlooks the children’s adventure playground so if you have younger children they can play for free as the bigger kids climb around in the trees while still in sight if they need a bit of encouragement.

All suited up and briefed about the safety of the course and the kids were ready to go…

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Understandably the park was empty when we visited but there was a whole party of children on the Go Ape course, unfortunately my kids seemed to be stuck behind them as a few were really scared and needed help from staff members to get across a couple of obstacles. I really love the idea of trails across the trees but having been up there myself I know how scary it looks and I do think there should be some way of letting more competent users pass as it is no fun standing for half an hour in the freezing cold waiting for your turn, and even less fun standing on the ground watching your kids waiting for half an hour for their turn.

Between each bridge is a standing platform that can hold three people and each bridge can only hold two people so as you can imagine when it is busy it does take longer to get around. As it was snowing it was also quite slippery which I imagine makes it a lot more challenging!

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I would like to say that the kids loved their experience of Go Ape as they usually do but like most of the little ones on the day, they just came off complaining that they were cold and wanted to go inside in the warmth. Because of the hold up they only managed to go around the course once instead of the usual two or three goes but as they were so cold I’m not sure they would have wanted to keep going anyway.

In the winter months Go Ape in Battersea park is only open weekends and half term holidays, I would definitely recommend that if you don’t want miserable children that you should wait until the weather warms up a bit before sending yours up into the trees.

Have your little ones ever tried Go Ape before?

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

North: Fashioning Identity @ Somerset House

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Currently showing at Somerset house is the North: Fashioning identity exhibition. Bringing together a collection, including photography, fashion, music and lifestyle artefacts by a number of artists, the aim is to showcase visual representations of the North of England.

“The show looks at the themes and tropes present in these collective visions of northern England and consider why these regions, or representations of them, are increasingly a source of inspiration and still so idealised today.”

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The exhibition is split into different rooms that you follow around until you get back to the entrance. The first few rooms are mostly photography and film but it then moves on to clothing, the focus is on particular styles and brands that are often associated with northerners through the music and fashion scene.

 

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At the end was a room made up to look like a house with lots of television screens, people were lazing around on sofas and beds listening to interviews and documentaries that had been filmed with people from the North, looking at how their home town has been an inspiration in their creative output.

A catalogue featuring all the work is available to buy as you leave or if you don’t want to purchase it, you can have a seat and read through it along with loads of other publications on the same subject.

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I really found the exhibition interesting, particularly the mix of contemporary and vintage pieces and the perspectives of so many different artists.

If you would like to visit, the exhibition is on until Feb 4th and a full price ticket is £7. There are concessions available and children under 12 go free. At the moment there is also a very festive ice-skating rink right outside so if you fancy, you could really make a day of it!