Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Afternoon tea @ Chelsea harbour

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As somebody who loves to visit new places I was lucky enough to receive some lovely birthday presents from my family including a spa day with massage and facial which I am yet to use (it is booked for October) and vouchers for an afternoon tea for two at the Chelsea harbour hotel.

The Chelsea harbour hotel is situated close to the river Thames, a short walk from Imperial wharf station and is overlooking the affluent area of the imperial wharf marina.

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My daughter and I arrived early for our booking so had an opportunity to take a stroll around the area and along the river, we were surprised at just how empty it was with just a few other people around. With the sun shining and the sights of boats on water is felt like we were exploring the Mediterranean for the afternoon.

As we entered the hotel we were really impressed with the swanky interior and with it being equally as quiet as it was outside we were welcomed straight away by the nice waiter on the desk.

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The waiter informed us that we had a table booked inside but as it was such a nice day he asked if we would prefer to dine on the balcony which was really sweet of him and although I don’t usually like eating outside on street level (yes I can be a snob sometimes) I couldn’t say no to the views of the marina on the balcony.

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We were first served with water followed by peach bellinis and then our platter of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. While eating we were asked which tea we would like from a selection by Whittards.

It was nice to have everything delivered at once as we didn’t have to wait for anything the only problem was that the table became a bit of a squeeze! I really liked the presentation of the afternoon tea, the slate trays are very modern but it was accompanied by traditional, pretty china plates and cups.

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Whenever I see an afternoon tea they always look tasty but I never expect them to be filling…I was wrong! Jasmin couldn’t even finish her cakes and I struggled to get all mine down. The sandwiches were a nice variety with really soft bread and the freshly baked scones were the best I have tasted, don’t think I could go back to shop bought ones after those!

Although I am very much a coffee drinker I do like a cup of tea on occasion. I chose the piccadilly blend which had a subtle floral flavour while Jasmin went for the English Rose. One of us kept forgetting to use the tea strainer so ended up drinking the tea leaves (In the words of Shaggy – it wasn’t me)

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We probably spent around an hour at the hotel, the staff were very conscientious, constantly checking on us to see if everything was ok and we had a thoroughly  delightful afternoon.

I would love to try out afternoon tea at other venues, where is your favourite?

Posted in London, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

An afternoon at Kew

Kew gardens, also known as the Royal botanic gardens, is set in 300 acres of land in the London borough of Richmond and is home to the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world.

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I had last visited Kew gardens 10 years ago with my eldest son on a school trip and had vague memories of sweating in a giant green house. This experience was pretty much the same only I just had the responsibility of supervising one 12 year old (The youngest son who reluctantly joined me) and we were free to roam wherever we liked.

Armed with the map of the gardens it reminded me of a theme park for nature lovers as opposed to thrill seekers, I’ve definitely become more of the latter over the years! The park has different attractions dotted around and because we arrived quite late in the day we headed towards the right to see how much we could fit in.

Palm house

The palm house is a Victorian glasshouse and is home to some unique palms and tropical plants from the warmer climates of Africa and America. It is very warm as you walk in but if you venture up the spiral staircase you have to start removing items of clothing and wiping the steamed up lens of the camera as it is so hot!

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We left at the rear exit of the palm house to sit and admire the rose gardens while we cooled off for a bit before heading towards the Hive via the broad walk.

The broad walk

The great broad walk is a stretch of 320 metre pathway with double herbaceous borders described as an ornamental promenade.

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It is so much nicer walking from one attraction to another when there are pretty things to look at on the way!

The Hive

One of the things I was mostly looking forward to seeing at Kew was The Hive. Described as an immersive sound and visual experience, it was designed to give humans an insight into what it is like for a honeybee inside the hive. As it was a sunny summers day with lots of visitors the hive was definitely buzzing and although there isn’t anything to do inside it I did really like the experience.

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Princess of Wales conservatory

Described as one of the most complex glasshouses, this conservatory contains ten different environments and houses all sorts of exotic plants. The conservatory commemorates Princess Augusta, who founded the Gardens and it was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in July 1987.

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Davis Alpine house

This innovative, award winning structure is home to the alpine plants. The design enables it to create the cool, dry and windy conditions that alpine plants favour and this glasshouse is surrounded by beautiful scenery of rock gardens and waterfalls.

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There were so many more places within the gardens that we didn’t get to explore including the creepers and climbers and the treetop walkway, I suppose this means we will have to take another visit again soon!

When I asked my children if they wanted to join me on a trip to Kew gardens they all refused, my daughter even decided that she would rather revise for her GCSE’s (which are not until next year May) than come with me. My 12 year old wasn’t very enthusiastic about the trip but came anyway and upon leaving the gardens he declared that when he is older he is going to buy me a house in Kew and get a membership card so we can visit everyday… I think that is a result!

Posted in London, Travel, Uncategorized

The chocolate museum – Brixton

I am not sure I know anybody that isn’t a fan of chocolate, I know that I absolutely love it! I have often wondered how anybody managed to discover such a great tasting product so when I realised that there was a chocolate museum just down the road I had to go and visit.

Hidden away on a side street in the heart of Brixton is the only chocolate museum in London. It may not be as grand as The British museum or as well known as the V&A but that is one of the great things I love about London, it is full of little treasures!

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The chocolate museum has two floors. As you enter you could be mistaken for thinking it is just another coffee shop as you are greeted with a bright space where people are sitting around at tables. This is the workshop space where customers can purchase and make their own chocolate either as a pre-booked class or walk-in session.

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As you descend the colourfully artistic staircase you enter the museum section which is home to objects and artefacts that showcase the history of chocolate in the UK.

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As well as putting on workshops the museum also welcomes groups of school children to teach them about the history of cocoa, where it comes from, how it is made and the connection it has to slavery. I love the fact that it comes from a tree that bears fruit which means we must be able to class it as one of our five a day right?

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The chocolate museum is fairly small so doesn’t take long to look around. If you want to visit and make a day of it then it is probably worth joining in with a chocolate making session. I didn’t personally have time to stick around when I visited but I would love to go back and see what chocolate creation I could come up with!

Are you a chocolate fan?

 

 

 

Posted in London, Travel, Uncategorized

The wind in the willows – London Palladium

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The wind in the willows that is currently showing at the London Palladium is an adaptation of the original children’s story written by Kenneth Graham, first published in 1908.

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I am not really familiar with the original story but this version is a lovely family show that takes you from one Spring to the next looking at the friendships of the woodland animals, although it is not all friendly and the mischievous Toad and the villainous weasels are thrown in for good measure.

The staging and costumes were amazing but with a reported budget of 4.5 million it is no surprise that they managed to put on such a spectacle. Each set of animals have their own style and I particularly liked the outfits of the family of hedgehogs. The music was really catchy with both choral and pop influences, you know it’s good when you find yourself singing along even though it’s the first time of hearing it.

I loved the relationship between Ratty and Mole, there was some good humour between them that had me smiling throughout, although I wouldn’t say it was really laugh out loud unless you are under the age of 10.

The show has loads of famous faces including Denise Welch, Rufus Hound and Gary Wilmott to name a few and they created real colourful characters and played the role of the animals convincingly. Whatever Toad was on I think I need some, he had more energy than the Duracell bunny and hats off to Rufus Hound for managing to put on such a performance, although I didn’t find toad himself very endearing.

A great, feel good show that I think could appeal to anybody, it did lack a creative storyline but the simplicity would appeal to a younger audience.

I am really getting a taste for musicals and have enjoyed Wicked, An American in Paris and The Commitments in recent years but would love some recommendations for other west end shows!

If you are hoping to catch The wind in the willows then you will have to be quick as it is only at the Palladium until early September, could it be a contender for your summer bucketlist?

Posted in London, Uncategorized

7 deadly sins at the London Dungeon

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The 7 deadly sins at the London dungeon is an adult only themed food evening running on a Friday throughout June.

This is definitely an experience like no other, not sure where else combines the facts of a museum told through theatrical performance with food and drink thrown in which makes it a great night out, although saying that it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

The evening is a 75 minute tour that takes you along candle lit passageways through different parts of London, meeting historical figures that give you information about the goings on at the time including the murders by the infamous Sweeney Todd.

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We started the evening getting into character by dressing for the occasion in Victorian style hats and sipping on green coloured cocktails. We were shown the menu so we were prepared for what would be offered at different sections of the tour.

menu – 7 deadly sins

Some of the food on offer was really nice, my favourites were Mrs Lovett’s pies and the sausage and mash which had a strong mustard taste. If the drink is alcoholic then it must be watered down quite a bit because I am usually a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and I didn’t feel tipsy in the slightest. I thought the concept of it relating to the seven deadly sins was clever and there was a good selection of food and drink.

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I wasn’t too keen on the way it works as a guided tour because I like to take my own time when looking around, I suppose this is so everyone gets to see the actors but I spent most of the time trying to avoid their glare as I hate being the centre of attention and didn’t want to be picked out by them. One of the rooms is a courthouse and a few members of our group were picked out as criminals, it’s all fun and games as long as I am not the one in the dock!

I understand there are usually a couple of rides in the London dungeons which are not featured in this particular event, I feel like they could enhance the experience because it did feel that there was something missing and I wasn’t scared as much as I was expecting to be. I would have had more photos but we were asked not to use cameras throughout the tour, I assume this is because the actors want to keep your attention and the cameras/phones can be distracting.

The ticket for the 7 deadly sins is £59 which for me seems a little steep but if you like an immersive show and are a bit of a foodie I think this would suit a group of friends as a prelude to a night out.

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Uncategorized

Ocean invaders – Sea life

Over Easter I went to see the new addition to the London sea life aquarium. Ocean invaders is a new world of Jellyfish and if you are a fan then you won’t want to miss it as it’s the largest jellyfish experience in the UK. I didn’t know that there are over 350 different species of this mesmerising creature or that apparently they have been around for 500 million years!!

 

This was my first visit to the aquarium and as I went in the evening there were some sections that looked closed off but there was still loads to see. The jellyfish were the main attraction of the night but for me the penguins were the stars of the show, I just find them so amusing to watch. Each Penguin wears a coloured band so you can tell them apart and their names are on the wall. They would walk towards the glass and see everyone watching and then turn back and walk to the back wall, I don’t think they are fond of human company!

The aquarium itself is rather large but does look like it is in need of a makeover, it looks a bit dated but then I imagine it would be a pretty large and expensive job considering a lot of it is under water. As well as having various sea life to admire there are also some interactive activities and games aimed at children. It was great to be able to walk over and under the glass as the fish, including sharks and stingrays, swim past you and the rock pools and smaller tanks allow you to get a better look at the fish close up.

I think this would make a great day out if you have a young family and situated along the Southbank it is perfect to see lots of other sites while you are there. Have you visited the London aquarium, what did you think?

Posted in Lifestyle, London, Travel, Uncategorized

An Autumn stroll – Avondale park

I’m not really a big fan of autumn, if I’m honest it is probably my least favourite season (only behind winter because that has Christmas!) but I do like to take a stroll and appreciate all the autumnal colours.

I am a Londoner and have lived all over the city but there are so many parts that I am yet to explore. On a recent visit to Notting Hill I came across Avondale park. It is one that I have never heard of before, probably because it is quite small and more of a community park than one that has an influx of visitors.

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The park wasn’t very busy although I can imagine that when school finishes it is probably full of kids as it has a great range of climbing equipment suitable for all ages and a picnic area where parents can enjoy a hot drink while the kids play.

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I really like the modern structure that houses the toilets and a small tuck shop, the wooden design compliments the rest of the park without looking too out of place.

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Posted in London, Travel

Dulwich outdoor gallery

I was driving through Dulwich village one evening and noticed a little corner shop lit up in neon lights (it was hard to miss) so I was curious as to what was going on and had to go back to pay it a visit.

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The Dulwich outdoor gallery is the hub for a number of artist all displaying work around the local area in conjunction with the Dulwich Picture gallery. The work is done by some of the top street artists around and is all based on a common theme – 17th and 18th century paintings that are in the permanent collection at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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Posted in London, Photography

Favela exhibition – Horniman

The Horniman museum is a place we have frequented quite a lot, particularly in the holidays when the children were younger. It is local compared to most of the museums in London and has a great little aquarium and large gardens that give it a bit of variety.

When I saw during the Olympics that the Horniman had a Festival of Brazil taking place throughout summer I had to pay them a visit, I especially wanted to see the Fevela photography exhibition!

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The first thing you notice, built right in front of the museum, is the model made out of bricks, inspired by the architecture of the favelas in the city of Rio. Continue reading “Favela exhibition – Horniman”