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 (www.earm.co.uk) 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 (www.dedhamvalevineyard.com), 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  www.visistessex.com

 

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

East London Group returns with political focus

© A. E. Turpin Estate, 2017

East London Group returns with political focus

The Working Artist: The East London Group
curated by Michael Rosen and Emma-Louise Williams
East London Group paintings to be shown at their home in Bow, with a focus on member Albert Turpin – Mayor of Bethnal Green and leading political figure – with contemporary commissions highlighting sites around Bow and Mile End Road

This September, the East London Group returns to the Nunnery Gallery with a new collection of paintings, selected and curated by writer broadcaster Michael Rosen and radio producer film-maker Emma-Louise Williams.

Working during the inter-war period, the East London Group of artists were made up of ordinary working men and women, attending art classes and exhibiting their paintings alongside their day jobs. There were thirty-five members – including Walter Sickert, Phyllis Bray, William Coldstream, John Cooper, Elwin Hawthorne, the Steggles brothers, Brynhild Parker, Henry Silk and Albert Turpin.

Rosen and Williams have selected over 50 works for exhibition, with a special focus on little-known works by Albert Turpin. Turpin was not only a critically acclaimed artist but a prominent figure in local politics, as a leading force in the East End anti-fascist movement and Mayor of Bethnal Green. His works tell the story of the East End’s resilience through a turbulent time of war and peace and will be shown alongside sketchbooks and political pamphlets that haven’t been seen for 70 years, providing a vivid and contextual narrative to the paintings.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a series of new in-situ commissions by artists working in east London today, highlighting recognisable sites in the paintings surrounding the Nunnery Gallery. Walking tours of the local area will guide visitors around these new public artworks, finishing at Queen Mary University of London – who have supported the new commissions – where remnants of a mural painting by East London Group member Phyllis Bray can still be seen in the People’s Palace.

The patronage provided by the East London Group’s famed supporters – Sir Joseph Duveen, Samuel Courtauld and Arnold Bennett to name a few – led them to great heights, with their achievements contextualised in the press by the artists’ means of earning a living, a “window-cleaner”, “shop assistant” and “pipe inspector”. This exhibition, with its wealth of previously un-exhibited material, sheds new light on many of the characters of the group, who were accomplished artists – lauded by the art world – but also active war artists, heroes of east London politics and avid chroniclers of the changing face of the London of their time.

The exhibition coincides with a flurry of newly published books that encompass the Group and their stories, including an illustrated memoir from Albert Turpin himself: East End Vernacular, Artists who painted London’s East End streets in the 20th Century (The Gentle Author: Oct 2017); So They Call You Pisher! A Memoir by Michael Rosen (Verso: Sep 2017); The East End – My Birthright by Albert Turpin (Francis Boutle: Sep 2017); The Story of Titania and Oberon, with illustrations by Phyllis Bray (Pavilion Books: 2017).

© A. E. Turpin Estate, 2017

Of the focus on Albert Turpin, curators Rosen and Williams said:

“Admirers of the Group find themselves drawn more to one artist than another, and in our curation we’ve pinpointed the world of Albert Turpin. Turpin was an unstoppable sketcher, filling countless notebooks with drawings of his family, while bringing to the Group a Fauvist tendency to colour his East End in a robust and affectionate way.

“He was politically committed to the struggles of those around him and in putting this exhibition together we were delighted to meet Turpin’s daughter and granddaughters who were able to provide documentary materials to give witness to Albert Turpin’s commitment.”

Sophie Hill, Nunnery Gallery Co-Director, said:

“Then, just as now, population flux and insistent remodelling characterised the streets sandwiched between the City and what is now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Ordinary working men and women picked up paint brushes to capture the changing landscape.

“Highlighting the sites of our surrounding local area through contemporary artwork not only draws attention to east London’s changing architecture, but also showcases the talent of artists working in east London today – whose work is certainly inspired by our area’s rich political and social history which, as the East London Group demonstrates, has always had a long and poignant relationship with art”

 

Exhibition: East London Group
Dates: 29 Sept – 17 Dec 2017
Admission: Free
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun, 10am – 5pm
Address: Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ
Travel: Bow Road Tube Station, Bow Church DLR
Contact: +44 (0)20 8980 7774 / [email protected]

Traveling to London on a budget

Traveling to London on a budget

Summer in London is definitely a great season to be in this City: not overly crowded, not too hot to be outside but warm enough for an al fresco dining or to spend the day at the park. So, if you are planning to travel to London anytime soon, it’s a good choice timing and weather wise. However, London isn’t really the cheapest option, so here I am to offer you some tips on how to plan your trip to this City on a budget.

Traveling to London

There are a few budget airlines that fly into London, however, you’ll still need to book your tickets in advance in order to get better deals. You can compare your flight options using flights comparison sites like Skyscanner etc.

Weekly Travel Card – Oyster

One way to travel cheap would be to avoid taxi fares as they can get very expensive. There are few options available on the market like the Oyster Card, which is a prepaid ‘ticket’ for the zones you’ll be traveling to. You can either choose the weekly option or if you are staying for less than a week you can use the pre-pay option. It is valid on the bus and light rail systems as well. Using an Oyster Card is 50% cheaper than purchasing a normal ticket. Another option would be hiring a bike or simply walking around to explore the City at your own pace.

Free Activities

One of the benefits of a City as huge as London is that there are loads of free things to see and do. Another beautiful thing about London is that Museums are free for the likes of the National History Gallery, Tate Britain, and Modern, Saatchi Gallery and so on.

A free activity that I recommend not to miss if in London for the first time is heading to Buckingham Palace for the historic Changing of the Guard, there, you will witness a military band playing during the swap. Charming. A fun and historical event that will cost you nothing.

Also, there are few apps that will help you sort out your activities like Dojo, Time Out, Yelp etc. These are great resources for local events and festivals. Or you can wander aimlessly in the streets of London—there’s always something going on.

Southbank. Photo By Roman In London

 

cinema
Outdoor Cinema. Royalty free images.

Eating 

London cuisine is a truly diverse experience that will be able to please all types of the palate.  A common habit for Londoners during summer months is having a picnic in the park: just buy your food of choice and grab your favorite spot on the green and you’ll feel like a true Londoner!  There are also few local markets like Borough Market or Broadway Market that offer plenty of fruits, veggies wine, cheese, and a bottle of olives make for the perfect picnic in one of the city’s many parks.

Broadway Market. Royalty free images

 

Get the London Pass

London Pass is a tourist card that will grant you access to 32 attractions and free public transportation.

It includes many of the most famous London landmarks, such as Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Britain at War Museum.

Home from Home

London can be quite expensive in terms of accommodation costs even at the lower end of the market so you can hunt on Home from home for accommodation. There are lots of options available you just have to look around.

Also, finding an apartment with a kitchen for stay at home nights is a great way to save money.

London Houses. Royalty free images

Airport Transfers

There are a few ways to get into and from the airport. You can go either via Tube (London Underground) otherwise, you can arrange for a taxi, minicab to meet you upon arrival.

London. Royalty Free Images

West End Tickets 

You can find good bargain tickets for west end shows in Leicester Square or a good idea would be to buy them in advance.

 

Best London’s Bottomless Brunches

Most of us all definitely know what a brunch is: a combination between breakfast and lunch, usually eaten at late mornings or early afternoons. But not that many (I suppose) know what a Bottomless Brunch is: add all above but with unlimited booze on top and the menu is served!

London, as many other cities now, offers a wide array of restaurants, cafes’ and bars that claim to serve the best bottomless brunch in town. But let’s see what people actually think. For this purpose, I have a collected a few opinions on the matter (around a dozen folks in total) amongst friends, colleagues and Londoners basically, and these are the results of my little survey:

(Note: the order is random)

       1.  Jones and Jones, Dalston

Unlimited amounts of prosecco, Bloody Mary, as well as all-you-can-eat food. You can choose from the likes of a full English breakfast, avocado on toast with a choice of poached egg or bacon and Belgian waffles with banana, toffee and honeycomb ice cream. Only downside: you’ll need to book well in advance.

Price: £34

      2. Asia de Cuba, St Martins Lane

 

Brunch shouldn’t be limited to weekends only, especially when it looks as good as this…

Un post condiviso da St Martins Lane, London (@stmartinslanesocial) in data:

Situated inside St Martins Lane hotel, Asia de Cuba’s offering doesn’t feature what’s on every brunch-lovers radar.

Each Saturday and Sunday from 12pm-3pm the restaurant runs a Cocktail Brunch and/or a Champagne Brunch with bottomless Perrier-Jouët champagne. The food has a Cuban Influence but apparently, it’s the dessert that stands out: tiny Mexican doughnuts served with Thai chili-chocolate dip. A must try!

Price: £45 Cocktail Brunch

Price: £70 Champagne Brunch

      3. Big Easy (Covent Garden)

Unlimited BBQ Breakfast OR a selection of lobster dishes: plus bottomless beer, wine and prosecco.Why Not?

Price: £29.50

    4. Forge and Co, Shoreditch

 

Amazing value for bottomless prosecco and a full English breakfast

Price: From £4 plus £10 for a glass of prosecco with refills.

      5. Drink, Shop & Do, Kings Cross

A unique venue, well renowned for their creative and bizarre events: such Robot lego wars, swing classes and so on. Every Sunday they host a boozy brunch with unlimited booze and bagels. Ah! I forgot to mention: Bottomless Bloody Marys are included in the deal!

Price: From £15

Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern

Politically charged Tate Modern’s new Exhibition “Soul of a Nation” is currently on display until the 22nd October bringing together, from various parts of the World, 150 pieces of “black art”.

Definitely one of the must-see exhibitions of the Year, it displays works that have been created during 20 years (from 1963 to 1983) of raw Political times that created a strong emotional impact on the black lives by looking back at American Black Art in the Age of Civil Rights Movements.

Benny Andrews
Benny Andrews Did the bear sit under the tree. Photo Credits Tate. From the Collection Estate of Benny Andrews

Each of the 12 rooms focuses on an urban artists’ group or kind of art, with artists such as Barkley Hendricks, Romare Bearden and Lorraine O’Grady with the aim of looking at different artists’ groups throughout America.

It starts, firstly with the Spiral Group – a group of African American artists –  in New York and with the March on Washington (when Marthin Luther King gave a speech at a crowd of 200,000 people) and ends with a performance by Lorraine O’Grady.

This exhibition makes you wonder what meant to be a black artist during that period of controversy, but also, what forms of art would have made the right impact by giving – at the same time – complete and full freedom of expression. Whether the chosen medium was music or abstract works or paintings, it must have been absolutely hard to communicate freely and being listened to at the same time.

As an example, AfriCOBRA (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), that formed in Chicago in the late 1960s, who made portraits of Malcolm X, incorporated text from his speeches.

“This exhibition traces the aspiration – in an incredible, heart-wrenching way – of what represented black America in the following two decades as King’s dream gave way to disillusion.”

Below an inspirational playlist that you can listen to on your way to the exhibition 🙂

MARK GODFREY is the senior curator of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is co-curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, with assistant curator Priyesh Mistry.

VENUE

Tate Modern
Bankside
London
SE1 9TG

DATES

12 July – 22 October 2017

PRICING

£16.50FREE for Members

Adult £16.50 (without donation £15)

 

The best “Investment bags” to buy

When it comes to Women’s Accessories, not an entire blog would be able to fulfil the scope of explaining the different nuances each pair of shoes or bags have (at least for how I see it.) So, I decided to start from the basics and to describe what – in my humble opinion – are the top essential bags that will last you a lifetime and, therefore, worth the investment. (In case you needed an actual reason)

Bags are for me a piece of home when I’m away, a reassurance that all I need is safe (and with me) and, of course, a complement to my outfit. Therefore, having a bag that stores all my things and at the same time looks good is a priority for me. My ideal handbag? Both practical and stylish. But let’s see what the market has to offer for all the other tastes:

1 The modern Backpack

Leather backpack
Leather backpack

 

Over the last couple of years, backpacks were amongst the hottest trends. A shoulder bag may seem like a stylish option, but having back pain is not a good look. From soft leather bags to canvas styles that can take a beating we tend to look for durable bags that would hold day-to-day essentials, without compromising on style.

 

2 Tote Bags

Bags that we wear on the weekends or in the evenings can be small, fun and stylish, really anything that suits your mood! However, bags that we use every day have to be first of all functional. Those can be used for work and – perhaps – a neutral, large tote is the perfect solution for what’s required in our professional lives.

The go-to tote is usually a leather tote for many reasons but mainly for their quality and durability. This is definitely what we can call an “investment piece” since will supposedly see you through a lifetime of wardrobe crises.

Tip: “The texture, smell and strength of the leather should be obviously superior. If the stitching is uneven and different sizes, it’s an indication that it could be a fake.”

Tote bag

 

3 The “Neverfull” Bag

Neverfull
Neverfull

One of “hardiest” bag out there can fill up to 3,5 KG, accessible to a wider audience. Practical and timeless. High marks for functionality and comfort and looking great all the same with its famous LV pattern and red striped fabric on the interior. It has a large zip pocket on the interior, and also comes with a small pouch to prevent your small items from spilling out all over the bottom of the tote.

 

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