Some artsy ideas for 2018 at IAI

the store studios

The Institute of Art and Ideas announce a brand new series of live events in London 2018

Three unique evenings of debate, discussion and music at The Store, 180 The Strand in will engage with the ideas at the cutting-edge of contemporary culture

Taking place from February to April, the Institute of Art and Ideas has today announced a new trio of unique live events at a renowned cultural venue The Store at 180 The Strand, home to London Fashion Week 2017.

the sto

Heading up the series is The Future of the Post-Truth World event that will take place on February 6th.

During the evening a debate will explore what it means to live in a world of contradictory perspectives and untrustworthy truths. Beginning as an attack on deceitful politics, ‘post-truth’ has fast become the description of our age. Is the digital revolution a force for democracy or a route to chaos? And, if ‘post-truth’ is an unavoidable predicament, how might we make the world a better place?

This event will be followed up by The Self and Selfie on March 6th. Exposing the fine line between narcissism and genius, this exciting evening of a contemporary debate will analyse the way we view vanity, arrogance and creative genius in the world of Generation Selfie. Salvador Dali once quipped there was no greater joy than waking up as himself. Does focusing on yourself rather than others really bring happiness and success? Or does self-obsession damage social cohesion?

The final event in the series will be Food, Facts and Fantasy on 3 rd April. In a progressive evening of debate, they’ll be challenging whether it’s time to radically rethink our relationship with Mother Earth. As biologists predict the upcoming extinction of humankind, is it time to revolutionise how we eat in order to change the course of history? Or is human dominance a brutal yet natural outcome of evolution?

For more information visit:
‘The art and soul of the party’— Harper’s Bazaar
‘Back to big thinking’ – The Guardian

Tired of the classic British Afternoon tea?

japanese afternoon tea

This might be your solution.

For those who are (like me) inquisitive by nature and always on the hunt for something innovative, this November YO!, the Japanese street food and sushi restaurant, is going to introduce its first bespoke Afternoon Tea, exclusive to its Selfridges’ sites across the UK. Fusing the classic British Afternoon Tea tradition with the essence of Japanese Omakase dining. Available from the 15th November until 31st December for around £25 bucks, and tuck in to three tiers of deliciousness, you can work your way up the stand with tasty Tempura Nori Nachos, Onigiri Sushi Balls, and a selection of  Sashimi. And if that wasn’t already enough you dig in to the Seared Sushi, which features special Salmon Caviar topped with edible 23-carat gold leaf, for that extra Christmas sparkle!

To finish, an assortment of tasty sweet treats combining Eastern flavours with Britain’s much-loved desserts. From Matcha Green-Tea Brownies to rich Chocolate Ganache Mochis and Adzuki Red Bean Cheesecake Dorayaki Pancakes, these delectable delights will not disappoint.


These are the coffee habits in the UK

Did you know that 1 in 3 millennials are coffee snobs?

A research conducted by Lyons Coffee Bags has shown that almost a third (30%) of 18-34 year olds say they would  refuse to drink a coffee offered to them unless it was made using fresh beans, capsules or bags.

 The national research, which looked into the nation’s coffee drinking habits, found that 39% of millennials are consuming three or more cups of fresh coffee every day. With the majority claiming it was their favourite drink of choice.

 And despite spending £2,015* a year on coffee, over half (54%) believe fresh coffee is worth the extra expense because of its superior quality.

According to the young, savvy, coffee connoisseurs, it appears instant granules are becoming a thing of the past in favour of fresh coffee beans, capsules and bags, with a third claiming they simply taste better. But for one in ten, it’s simply about image, with fresh coffee appearing trendier than its freeze-dried counterpart. Less than 10% of those polled admit that they’ve bought instant coffee compared to 61% who regularly buy freshly ground coffee. Three quarters of young people are now enjoying fresh coffee at home, not just in fancy coffee shops, with a quarter investing in their own coffee machine to get their coffee fix whenever they need it.

 Young men appear to be the biggest coffee lovers, with 15% revealing that they would never buy instant coffee, compared to 10% of women. Furthermore, two thirds of men drink over two cups of fresh coffee per day, compared to half of women.

 Nicole Hartnell, brand manager at Lyons Coffee said: “As a nation we love our coffee but instant definitely appears to be going out of fashion.Millennials are continuing to change coffee consumption patterns and behaviours and are most definitely driving the move towards gourmet, sophisticated coffee.Luckily there are plenty of convenient options for enjoying fresh coffee on the go, such as Lyons coffee bags, which contain 100% fresh ground coffee, but in a bag. Just as fresh, but a fraction of the price of high-street takeaway coffee, and much more environmentally friendly than coffee pods.”

This is a video of the research conducted on the streets of Manchester where were put different types of coffee to a taste test to answer the question: Can millennials really tell the difference between fresh and instant?

Top 10 Christmas Trips!

Where will you be on Christmas Day?

On the sofa, watching the telly with your family, lounging in your PJs or thinking about treating yourself to a different Christmas? Like waking up on a houseboat on the Okavango Delta or taking a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake or perhaps you are dreaming about riding a cable car up Monserrate or walking on the Perito Moreno Glacier…  Well, there are plenty of options, these are my dream TOP 10 destinations for a Christmas break.


Discovering the sights of the capital city of Phnom Penh and learning about the dark days of the Khmer Rouge before driving to Siem Reap while Cruising the largest lake in the region, Tonle Sap on Christmas Day.  See the floating villages or explore the vast complex of the Temples of Angkor.


How about taking an overland adventure through tropical southern Thailand, from the bright lights and glittering temples of Bangkok to the palm-fringed and white sand beaches of Krabi. Along the way, learning about the Bridge over the River Kwai, visiting cave temples, camping on a remote beach, spending time getting to know locals and explore one of the oldest rainforests in the world. I’m sold!


Explore the island’s revolutionary history and its modern, vibrant Caribbean culture. Travel across the breadth of the country, discover beautiful colonial architecture and a lively music scene in Trinidad and Cuba. Pass through glorious countryside, rich with exotic birds and flowers, and camp out in the forested Escambray Mountains. The sea is never far away, with spectacular coastlines and tropical islands to enjoy.


Explore the ancient lands of the Maya, visit the early Mayan cities of Tikal, Quirigua and Copan (in Honduras). Also travel through the Guatemalan highlands, spending time in traditional mountain villages and local markets, including the colourful San Tomas Festival in Chichicastenango.


Colombia is definitely one of South America’s most exciting destinations, with a rich cultural heritage, many areas of outstanding natural beauty and a notoriously friendly and welcoming population. Discover the country through the colonial cities of Cartagena, Bogota and Popayan, the beautiful wax palms and coffee farms of Armenia, and the blossoming cultural hub of Medellin.


Patagonia is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. Walk among the glacial lakes and mountain ranges of Torres del Paine National Park, discover the captivating city of Buenos Aires and admire views of the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno Glacier.


Explore the diverse cities and landscapes of North India by train, bus or traditional sail boat. From the palaces of the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur to the pilgrimage centre of Varanasi and the magnificent Taj Mahal, uncover the country’s fascinating architectural and religious heritage. Take a cultural journey across this colourful landscape, from intricately carved temple complexes to lush jungle backwaters and historic harbour ports.


Nearly a fifth of Botswana’s landscape is designated for wildlife protection: enter Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve to track Africa’s greatest animals in their natural habitat. Stay on a houseboat on the Okavango Delta, a huge freshwater oasis in the Kalahari desert, and visit the raging Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls.


Unwind in the beautiful islands of the Seychelles. Explore the palm-lined beaches of Praslin and visit the forest of Vallée de Mai, home to the famous Coco de Mer Palm. Hike along forest trails to Trois Frères peak to enjoy spectacular views over the island and its beach fringed shores. Cycle around the paradise island of La Digue, pedalling from one palm lined beach to another and only stopping for a freshly caught seafood lunch or a gentle swim. The Seychelles are an iconic destination but it is possible to get off the beaten path and discover a different side to these tropical islands.

Travelling through the scenic Nile Valley and into the desert discovering Sudan, a country with more pyramids than Egypt and some of the friendliest people on the planet. Visit well-preserved sandstone temples, tombs engraved with images of the pharaohs and the many pyramids of the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Experience the warm hospitality of the Nubian people and stay in a traditional village house.

Beauty and the Beast at the Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Beauty and the Beast to be Accompanied by Live Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall

Going to the cinema can be a magical experience and London already has some great events that make watching a film even more special. For example, here on my blog  you can read about the experience of going to a secret cinema to watch a classic cold war film (we won’t say which!). The secrecy around the film, as well as dressing for the occasion (in military getup), made it less a trip to the cinema and more a fully immersive event.

Another film event trend that is equally immersive are film screenings where the score is performed live by an orchestra. Film scores are an important part of any film, and some film fans love them as much as the characters and story. One famous example of this is the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.

beauty and the beast


On December 9, Beauty and the Beast fans will get the treat of a lifetime as the live-action adaptation of this beloved Disney classic will be screened for the very first time with a full orchestra—the Philharmonic Orchestra—providing the live musical score.

Renowned film score composer Alan Menken, who scored both the animated and live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast will be back for December’s in-concert extravaganza at Royal Albert Hall. He will provide the score for the live orchestra, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken himself and the late playwright-lyricist Howard Ashman, and the three new songs written for the live action film.

The live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was a huge success. The film, which featured an ensemble cast led by Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke, Evans, and Ewan McGregor, topped $1 billion in gross earnings worldwide according to Forbes. This made the Bill Condon-helmed film the second highest-grossing movie of 2017 and one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Beauty and the Beast has continued to remain one of Disney’s most popular films. The success of the live-action film and the demand for a live-orchestra screening demonstrates how fans still connect and cherish the tale. The story is universally known and The Hollywood Reporter revealed that it has been adapted many times, both on the big screen and small. Such is the power and recognition of the classic that it has even reached audiences in unexpected places. Slingo have a Beauty and the Beast slot game that incorporates famous elements from the original 1740 story. Like the Disney version, the game takes the story and adds its own unique take. It is this level of adoration from fans that will ensure that story will be cherished by future generations.

Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon, in an interview with The Telegraph, considers the film’s original score, which won two Oscars for Mr. Menken, as “magical,” and something that “draws people in” even 25 years later.

A Royale Release

Just last month, the Royal Albert Hall screened with a live orchestra the Daniel Craig starrer Casino Royale—to rave reviews. As the Express recounted in its review of the show, fans of the James Bond series flocked to the Royal Albert Hall, with most dressed in black ties and evening gowns.

The show, of course, did not disappoint. It was “impressive” and “immensely enjoyable,” according to the Express review, with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra receiving a much-deserved standing ovation at the end.

For the past several months now, the Royal Albert Hall in London has been the home of this one-of-a-kind movie viewing experience.

Some of the other films given the live orchestra treatment this year, include Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in April, Star Trek and Star Trek Beyond in June, and Titanic in March.

Last year, a string of hits were shown at the Hall as well, notably Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Independence Day, Jurassic Park, Aliens, and ET.

For any film fan, if you love action, sci-fi, romance, or Disney, the chance to see a film with a live performance of the score should not be missed.

Winter is one step ahead only…

…and so it’s the Christmas Market Season!

Whether you are looking for boutique accessories to keep you warm in the winter, fill your loved ones’ stockings with artisan gifts or simply settle in to eat, drink and be merry Christmas in London has plenty of choices to offer you in terms of Markets: Christmas by the River (as pictured below) is one of the many opportunities you’ll have to find the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a true Christmas market.

Throughout Christmas Season these markets will host a wide range of workshops and activities.. both for the little ones and for adults.


Christmas Market nearby the River, London


Christmas Market nearby the River, London
Christmas Market nearby the River, London
Christmas Market nearby the River, London

These are the most wanted areas for renters

If you are wondering what are the most wanted areas for renters this is the answer:

London Bridge is the most searched area for mid to long-term rentals in London, according to data from rental accommodation platform Spotahome. London Bridge, last year, attracted more than twice the interest than the next most searched for locations, Camden Town and Shoreditch.

Has Brexit affected the demand for rental places in London?

Alejandro Artacho, CEO of Spotahome, comments: “The demand for property in key locations around London remains high and growing, and in places such as London Bridge it is unlikely that this will fall. There is a growing opportunity for landlords to meet mid to long-term rental demand in locations such as Stratford, Ealing and Hammersmith as there is not currently enough rental stock to satisfy the demand in East and West London in particular.

London is and will hopefully remain an international hub for people across all Countries, with thousands of skilled individuals moving to the City to find better work opportunities than what they can find in their Countries.

Raise a glass to Essex producers of beer!

With CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) choosing Essex as a destination for their festivals, it’s hardly surprising that Essex breweries (and vineyards) are ‘jumping on the beer (and wine) wagon’ and attending food and drink festivals all over the county.

East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel near Colchester ( has been home to the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) festivals for over 30 years – the 31st one will take place on 5th – 9th September.  Those who wish to travel by train can take the Greater Anglia Sudbury Line (from Marks Tey) directly to Chappel Station, the destination of the festival, where literally hundreds of different beers will await you.  The weekends have become so popular, it’s become necessary to buy tickets – so don’t miss out.

Grapes are not as fussy about soil types like other fruits and crops, and tolerate a wide range of soil chemistry and conditions.  Having the least rainfall in the UK, Essex appears to have the perfect soil for them, as there is a vast selection throughout the county. New Hall Vineyard in Purleigh, (one of the oldest and first vineyards in the UK to grow the Bacchus grape, which is now one of their most popular wines, hold an annual English Wine Festival and Fun Day in September (on 3rd and 4th), which features winery and vineyard tours, crafts and food stalls, plus entertainment and lots of fun activities for kids.

‘The Only Way was Gold’ for Essex’s newest vineyard West Street when they won the prestigious award in the World renowned International Wine Challenge 2017 in May  – only six were won throughout the UK.  The award celebrates all that’s great about West Street – the vines, the great restaurant serving local produce, and of course as much wine-tasting as you can muster.

The wonderful ‘Essex Way’  (footpath from Harwich to Epping or the other way around!), runs through Dedham Vale Vineyard (, where you can grab a bicycle and tour the beautiful Essex countryside, before returning to try some of their fabulous wines and cider. There are guided tours and tastings, or just visit and enjoy the surroundings at your leisure.  You may choose to have a glass of wine overlooking the glorious lake, or have your next party there – the vineyard caters for weddings too, affording a wonderful backdrop for treasured memories and those fabulous pics.  The vineyard will be hosting their Cider and Wine Festival over the weekend 25th – 27th August, where there’ll be wine, cider, beer, food, live music, and camping if you desire!

Talking of beer, Billericay Brewery,  a microbrewery and beer shop based in Billericay, produces conditioned, crafted ales that have great taste and character.  Selling directly to the public from The Essex Beer Shop, their beers are made from 100% natural ingredients and sold in bottles and casks.  Every second and last Sunday at 2 pm, throughout the year, they offer brewery tours and tastings, explaining the brewing process and ingredients used – so you can be sure of going home with a beer that suits your palette.   A

This post was written in collaboration with


Take an immersive tour in the Kensington Gardens’ WW1 trench

Guards Army, Hyde Park, 1915. Credit Keystone Press Agency

Visitors are invited to go on an immersive tour of Kensington Gardens’ very own First World War trench – a reconstruction of the one built in the park 100 years ago, which formed part of the Government’s top-secret plans to devise ways to defeat the enemy.

Two free public events on Sunday, September 17 and 24 invite families to discover the vital – but undercover – role played by London’s Royal Parks during wartime Britain.

The tours are part of a series of activities hosted by The Royal Parks together with The Royal Parks Guild to mark the centenary of the Great War.

During the war, Kensington Gardens was turned into a small slice of the western front to help soldiers get to grips with trench construction, warfare and living. And now visitors can go back in time to experience trench life for themselves.

Every half hour a costumed soldier from the 10th Essex Living History Regiment will lead a 20-minute interactive tour around a specially-constructed open-air trench to give groups a unique glimpse of how the army slept, ate and engaged the enemy during the Battle of the Somme. Events are wheelchair accessible.

Members of the WAAC drilling in Hyde Park @IWM (Q54089)

To complement the tour, an exhibition will reveal how the original Camouflage School, sited at Kensington Gardens, enabled the army to experiment with innovative tactics to confuse the enemy through disguise – from cardboard cut-outs of soldiers to ships inspired by zebras.

Discover the story of how Solomon J. Solomon, a pioneer of camoflage techniques, established the school. Find out how he convinced the army to translate the camouflage techniques found in nature into cutting-edge techniques to deflect enemy aerial reconnaissance of troops and vehicles – and how he knitted camouflage nets from his mother-in-law’s house.

Families can visit Kensington Gardens’ war allotments, tended to by a team of volunteers. During the war, the view from Kensington Gardens was of radishes not roses. Growing-your-own provided a vital boost to a rationed diet. Visitors can learn how Kensington Gardens led the way with a ‘model allotment’ and discover vegetables produced during that period of history that are no longer grown.

A range of other activities will also be on offer including face painting and the chance for children to play a giant interactive game to bring the story of the First World War to life.

Eleanor Harding, First World War lead at The Royal Parks, said: “This one-off interactive tour brings to life the story of how techniques developed at Kensington Gardens’ Camouflage School helped baffle and ultimately defeat the enemy – from painting ships with zebra stripes to disguising key look-out points as trees.

“Today the Royal Parks are the heart and lungs of London, providing a slice of nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city for millions of visitors. But not many people realise that 100 years ago they played a more dramatic role to provide top secret information to the army which helped save many lives on the battlefield.”

David Ivison, Vice Chairman of The Royal Parks Guild, said: “This is a rare chance for visitors to immerse themselves into the fascinating but forgotten secrets of how the Royal Parks boosted the war effort – and find out about the people who worked in them. So much knowledge has been lost over time. But research organised by the Guild has uncovered intriguing snippets from the past.

“A ‘eureka’ moment came when the official list of Royal Parks’ war casualties was found in The National Archives. The subsequent discovery that 24 names of The Royal Parks’ war dead were included in His Majesty’s Office of Works memorial, situated in the Treasury building opposite St James’s Park, was a truly heart-stopping moment.”

The First World War project is funded by a £90,000 National Lottery Grant awarded through the English Heritage Fund. The project runs until June 2019 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, with a host of events being organised in the Royal Parks over the next two years.

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “This fantastic programme of events will highlight the significant but underexplored role that the Royal Parks and their staff played in the First World War, bringing to life the wartime stories of some of the UK’s most recognisable landscapes. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £86million to more than 1,700 projects marking this global centenary and helping people to understand the lasting legacy of the conflict.”

21st Century Treasure Map App in Milton Keynes

Based on the fact that the average UK adult believes they live more than 5 miles from the nearest cultural artefact – such as public artwork, a monument or a site of historic interest.  MK Council has launched a free app to help residents and visitors locate 50 locally hidden gems from a ‘tree cathedral’ to a 1,000-year-old moot (meeting place) and a flood plain nature reserve.

National research [1] on behalf of Milton Keynes Council suggests we may be unaware of what is in our own back yard.  In fact, the average UK adult believes there are no cultural artefacts within 5 miles of their home – an area equivalent to almost 20 square miles and larger than the built-up area of towns like Swindon or Ipswich.  One individual guessed that the nearest cultural artefact was 160 miles away.

Based on public data from leading national tourism groups and The National Recording Project (NRP), the UK is home to more than 10,000 sites of national cultural interest [2] which doesn’t even reflect the total number of historical sites, listed buildings and public artwork at a local level.

A third of those in the study say they have never visited any local cultural artefacts – artwork, historic sites or buildings, or beauty spots.  Those in the North East are most likely to have visited local treasures (74%) where as people living in the South West are less inclined (64%).

When questioned on the closest cultural landmark to home, over a quarter of people think of the local theatre (26%), woodlands, parks or natural beauty spots (16%) monuments (15%), architecture (14%) followed by sculptures and other public artwork.  More than one in ten respondents could not think of any landmarks close to home.

A new and free to access app has been launched in Milton Keynes to encourage residents and visitors to explore hidden local gems.  Locations such as an idyllic tree cathedral, a 1,000-year-old moot, a peace pagoda (the first one to be built in the western world) and a flood plain crawling with wildlife are all within 4 minutes travel of well-trodden city areas.  With almost a thousand public sites and artefacts across Milton Keynes, visitors are unlikely to ever be further than 100m from the nearest.

The Discovering MK smartphone app encourages users to discover more about Milton Keynes.  Partly inspired by the Pokémon Go craze, the app reveals an interactive trail of 50 locations around the city.   At each point along the trail, users can unlock information about the landmark, take a mini quiz and upload a selfie to show where they are.

Developed by Arts & Heritage Alliance MK and MK21, the free app is available via Google Play and Apple Store.  It was developed to commemorate Milton Keynes’ 50th Anniversary and celebrates the unique and diverse city, which has 220 pieces of public art, 22 million trees and shrubs, 180 miles of dedicated bridleways, footpaths and cycle tracks and more shoreline than Jersey.  This project has been supported with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, MK Community Foundation, MK Council and Santander Cycles MK.

[1] Representative omnibus polling of 2,205 UK adults via Censuswide between 28th and 31st July 2017.

[2] Estimate based purely on publicly available data from English Heritage, The National Trust, Visit England and The National Recording Project (NRP) online database – August, 2017

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