Into Halal Food? The Festival is back to London!

The London Halal Food Festival returns this year and is set to become the biggest showcase in Europe for Halal Food – giving those attending a tantalising Halal journey of delicious food and drink from over 100 international exhibitors.

Taking place on 19th and 20th August, at London’s historic Tobacco Dock, the festival is the only one of its kind and attracts visitors from across the UK who want to discover new and exciting international Halal cuisines.

An estimated 18,000 people will attend over the weekend and around three tonnes of meat and poultry will be consumed as people spend close to half a million pounds trying out Halal burgers, freshly prepared dishes, culinary delights and alcohol-free cocktails – before finishing off with tasty sweet treats in a dedicated dessert section.

There will also be live performances from celebrity chefs in a special cookery theatre, including a live demonstration from MasterChef Champion, Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed. Other highlights include a dedicated Italian Halal Zone and a Man Vs Food competition open to visitors. Other companies present will be taking advantage of the huge crowds by promoting their new and latest line of halal products – including baby food, convenience meals and home-delivered Halal meat.

Waleed Jahangir, London Halal Food Festival Show Director, said

“The Muslim Halal market is booming and during the Holy month of Ramadan, supermarkets estimated to make around £70 million from Halal food offerings alone.

“British Muslims are the most diverse in the world; they have bigger households, they spend more, eat out more often and cook in more volume – which is estimated annually to be worth a whopping £10 billion. That’s why we’re seeing more and more brands reaching out to Muslim consumers and the London Halal Food festival is a fantastic opportunity for both businesses and consumers to come together and learn more about each other.”

The word Halal translates to ‘permissible’ and is frequently applied to food, especially regarding the slaughtering of animals according to Islamic requirements. However, its meaning in terms of dietary requirements can also represent core values such as free-range, organic and sustainable (fair trade), which are standards that are becoming more important for the millennial Muslim.

Waleed adds:

“Traditionally, the past few generations of Muslims could only eat what was cooked at home, but now they can finally try the food they couldn’t have when growing up. The festival looks to breakdown this barrier by bringing in all types of food, from all over the world, with just one condition, that everything in the show remains Halal.”

The festival was recently placed in the top five of London Food Festivals to look forward to in 2017 by lastminute.com and with over 100 exhibitors, it’s set to be a great weekend of food and fun for all the family.

Tickets are still available from £10 with exclusive packages still available online. To find out more information about the festival, or to book your tickets, visit www.londonhalalfoodfestival.com

The Giant Immersive BeeHive at Kew

This Summer you might want to head to the Kew Gardens to visit the’Hive’, the new installations from the UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress, originally created for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and now residing temporarily in London.

If you are indeed planning to go there for a proper bee-themed treat or are just curious to know more about it, here’s some useful info.

The Hive is an immersive sound and visual experience, it’s 17 meters tall and constructed from 170.000 aluminum parts and with 1000 LED lights. The intensity of sound and light is controlled by the vibrations of bees in an actual hive at Kew that is wired to the sculpture. The artist says:

“I want visitors to feel enveloped, wrapped-up and involved in the experience, rather than adopting the position of an external observer.”

There are two entrances of the Hive: one at the bottom where you can learn about honeybees while for example biting sticks that are inserted into a conductor to sense the vibrations when upstairs the stage is actually wired up and controlled by the activity of the bees. So I suggest to just simply sitting there and observe the surrounding ‘activity’.

But how does it work? 

Honeybees communicate with each other primarily through vibrations, therefore, the artist put an accelerometer in a beehive at Kew which is connected to the installation. But what is an accelerometer? Accelerometers are basically vibration sensors. This accelerometer picks up vibrations from activity of the bees and these vibrations are sent in real-time to The Hive.

 

BeeHive at Kew. Photo By Roman In London

 

BeeHive at Kew/ Photo By Roman In London

 The importance of bees

Photo by Roman In London

 

This artwork also serves the scope to highlight the importance of honeybees: HoneyBees pollinate 70 of the most important crop we eat, including fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds.

Pollination is the transfer of the pollen grain from the stamen (the male part of the flower) to the stigma and egg (the female part of the flower). It is through pollination that plants are fertilized and able to produce the next generation of plants, including the fruit and crops we eat.

 Buttress also says:
“I opened a bee hive for the first time two years ago and it gave me a different outlook on life and how humans are connected to nature. We are in danger of losing that vitally important connection, especially in cities.”

Festival Checklist: What To Take To A Festival

festival

It’s official: festival season is in full swing! Whether you’re chilling out at a local festival or heading to some of the big players like Glastonbury or V, packing is essential. If you like to leave things to the last minute, don’t fear! Here’s a handy festival checklist; pack your backpack full of these and we guarantee you’ll be set whatever the weather!

  • Dry shampoo — you might be in the middle of a field, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have great hair!
  • Sunhat — the British weather is interchangeable, so pack a hat for when the sun’s out to avoid sunstroke.

  • Umbrellas — rain is synonymous with festivals. Don’t forget your brolly — one like this from this designer range will definitely stand out from the crowd.umbrella
  • Wellies — an obvious one, but essential none the less!

  • Waterproof jacket — keep dry and pack a waterproof jacket for when the heaven’s open.
  • Reusable water bottle — festivals usually provide water stations, so you can dodge those high prices and fill up for free.
  • Torch — finding your way back to the tent can be difficult; a torch will help.
  • Tent & sleeping equipment—pop-up tents are great for taking the hassle out of pitching. You’ll also need an airbed or roll mat, sleeping bag and pillows.
  • Sun lotion — make protecting your skin a priority and pack an SPF.
  • ID — Festivals are tough on under-age drinking, so prove your old enough and take along your ID.
  • Toilet roll—don’t rely on those portable toilets
  • Wet wipes — perfect for freshening up after a day of dancing.
  • Phone charger — how else are you going to share all those photos if your battery dies? Most festivals provide charging points.
  • Towel — if the heavens open during the last act of the day, a towel will help you dry off before bed.
  • Camping chairs — more comfortable than grass, pack some if you’re camping at a festival.
  • Earplugs — noisy neighbours be gone!
  • Sunglasses — a festival must-have that makes it easier for you to catch all of the on-stage action.
  • Bin bags — throw a couple of bin bags in your backpack to collect your rubbish during and after your festival fun.

With the essentials in place, you’re all set for having the time of your life, whatever festival you attend!

Hiking trip in Otford, Kent

Hiking is a different and healthy way to spend your spare time, especially when you live in the UK and you can take advantage of the many beautiful spots that the Country Side has to offer just at your door step.

In this post I’ll let you know about the hike I did a few days ago In Kent: Starting From Otford Station via Darent River to the ruins of the Ancient Roman Villa and back to London Victoria from Eynsford Station.

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Pretty House in Otford Village. Photo by Roman in London

The tranquil Darent River flows from the hills near Sevenoaks down to the River Thames at Dartford.

It is a 19-mile walk but there are different paths or walks that you can choose depending on your level of expertise and endurance, my walk from Otford Station to Eynsford was a good 3 hours long, although we were a big group of around 40 people and took many ‘photo breaks’ as well as a lunch break in the meantime. As a first-timer, I must say that it wasn’t a particularly difficult trek, although a lot of it depends from the fastness of the pace.

 

Medieval House in Otford. Photo By Roman In London
In this route, there’s a  narrow but picturesque footpath that you can follow, which runs parallel to the river that flows through the valley. Definitely a nice change from the usual daily hustle and bustle of London!
Photo by Roman In London
Deep Green. Photo By Roman In London

 

A nice Pony cheered us along the route. Photo by Roman In London

 

Photo By Roman in London

 

Photo By Roman In London

 

 

Once you get to the Lullingstone visitor center, you can also visit the Lullingstone Roman Villa which is open to the public but you’ll need to purchase a ticket for that, I haven’t got the time but I’ve been told that it’s definitely worth a visit, well… perhaps next time! Apparently, the remains of the villa, which were discovered accidentally by workmen digging holes during the mid 18th century, include several very well preserved mosaic floors.
Continuing to the path you’ll pass through the nine arched red brick Eynsford railway viaduct that was built in 1859 (pictured below).
Photo By Roman In London

 

Photo By Roman In London.

The Darent Valley Path directs you away from Eynsford but I would recommend you make a diversion away from the path and take a look at the very picturesque and historic village itself.

Eynsford. Photo By Roman In London

Continuing along the path and approaching Eynsford, I came across the ruins of another ancient villa.

 

Ruins of Roman Villa. Photo By Roman In London

It was an absolute fun and made few friends along the way which is definitely a plus! Let me know if you have any questions in case you are thinking to try it x

A day trip to York

This year I have decided to visit the UK more, and York was my first port of call.

I know there’s a lot to uncover aside from my usual spots of choice, so I’m trying to see the most possible this year by applying the rule that it has to be someplace that I have never been before (within a reasonable budget and distance from London and of course holiday permitting, lol). Therefore, last Saturday,  I’ve hopped on a train and headed to my chosen destination for the day.

A train ticket from London to York costs around £50 return (a bit cheaper if pre-booked in advance) and it takes roughly an hour and 50 minutes to get there, so it’s a good place to choose even if you are just looking for day trips.

Once arrived there, and since I had only 6 hours to spend in the city, I made a plan to see at least the most famous tourist attractions.

What to do

At 11 am my train arrived at the station and I started my day visiting the York Minster.

 

York
York. Photo By Roman In Londo

Dominating the City there’s York Minster Cathedral  (Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York), one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The ticket costs £10 plus £5 more if you are willing to climb the 257 steps to get to the top (which I obviously did). The day was lovely, sunny and the view from the top was grand so I’m glad I’ve made the effort. However, it made me realize how actually unfit am I gave that it took me a while to regain my breath once on top.

View from the top. Photo by Roman In London

A prize for the courageous climbers is a badge of the Cathedral reading *I made it to the top*.

If you’re travelling with a partner you should stop for a kiss by the Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window, as legend says if you do you’ll stay together forever 🙂

Walk the walls. Definitely, a must if you go to York,  is a walk on the walls. It takes circa 90 minutes and the view is breathtaking, especially around this time of year.

 

Photo by Roman In London

Stroll around the Shambles. The narrow cobbled streets that surround the Minster are hard to resist and full of nice shops and bars, in the late 14th century The Shambles housed a street full of butchers shops, today you will find sweet stores, antique and jewellery shops, tea rooms etc.

GhostTour. One of the quirky traits of this City is its reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in Europe, so if you fancy the idea of a Ghost Tour you’ll have an array of options to choose from.

I have finished my day sipping a tea in a lovely tea/coffee shop called the Vanilla Cafe (pictures below) its old-fashioned interior decor has captured my attention and the tasty almond cake I had has proven it to be a good choice. The Betty’s Café is also another option and has the reputation for being York’s most famous tea spot (with the queues to match),

Vanilla Cafe. Photo By Roman In London
The Vanilla Cafe’. Photo by Roman In London

York has definitely a lot more to offer though: with influences from the Romans, Vikings, Normans, Tudors, and Victorians, you’ve got a whole snapshot of history in one city. All of which has made it one of my favourite UK city break destinations and (perhaps next year) I’ll definitely head back to see more of it!

 

 

Santa Severa: one of Rome’s prettiest beach

A beach close to Rome, with clear water, a medieval castle, and some Roman ruins: why not?

Santa Severa, even though is not really a destination widely considered by foreign tourists, is in my humble opinion, a proper hidden gem that’s worth to visit especially if travelling during the summer months. If you need a break from the heat of the City, you might be surprised to hear how easy and close is to slip into the clean Mediterranean waters.

Santa Severa, amongst other destinations by the sea, is only 50 km from Rome.

The beach that surrounds the Castle is free, which is quite rare given the fact that in Italy most of the beaches are taken over by private owners (Stabilimenti).

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Named after its homonymous martyr, is believed to have been an ancient Roman port under the name of Pyrgi. Like its bigger neighbour Santa Marinella, it was a popular summer resort for the Romans as well as a fishing settlement supplying fish to the mainland towns and Rome itself. The outline of the Roman settlement is still visible, if you walk around the borgo (walled village) you will notice that the Roman-era foundations are made of massive cyclopean masonry. On top of this, the medieval borgo walls were built, from smaller stones, covered in plaster. Inside the walls, there is a small museum, a church and some small artsy shops.

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Here is the castle’s official website, where you can also pre-purchase the entry ticket: http://www.regione.lazio.it/santasevera/

Santa Severa. Photo by Roman In London

How to get there from Rome: https://www.rome2rio.com/it/s/Roma/Santa-Severa

Santa Severa is about 45 minutes away by train from either Termini or Trastevere station. The train ticket costs about €5, but access to the beach is totally free.

 

 

Here’s your new favourite Swimsuit

swimwear

A swimming costume or bikini is probably the most important purchase of the Summer, so it’s one you want to get just right. Whatever your body shape and personal style, there’s a super swimsuit to suit you!

Stand-Out Swimsuit

If you want to turn heads on the beach then back away from basic black and go for eye-catching colour and pattern instead. Spots and stripes never go out of style, and a colourful cut-out swimsuit gives extra fashion points.

swimwear

Perfectly Petite

If you’re looking for a swimsuit to suit a small frame or bust then remember that voluminous frills and ruffles will both add interest. The gypsy-style Leandra Off Shoulder Bikini by Lisa Marie Fernandez is a winner for those who dare to be different. The off-shoulder style is bang on trend too.

swimwear

Killer Curves

The halterneck bikini top is a curvy girl’s best friend for the beach. The Daisy Print Bikini by Dolce and Gabbana is super cute and there are matching retro-style high waist bikini shorts too.

swimwear

Poolside Posing

If you’re not actually planning on getting closer to the water than a poolside sunlounger, La Perla has some incredible swimsuits for posing up a storm in. The sequined ‘Dreamland’ plunge swimsuit is a white hot number that will go great with whatever cocktail you’ve got in your hand – just be careful not to spill!

swimwear

 

Waterpark Ready

Whether you’re keen to do some actual swimming, or want something that will stay put on the waterpark slides, a proper swimming costume definitely has a place in every suitcase. Onia has a good range of sturdy swimwear that will withstand the waves. The Devyn zip-up top is a sporty, supportive alternative, if a one-piece doesn’t appeal.

Just moved to London? These are the apps you’ll need!

London

Whether you’ll be travelling or moving to London this year (2017),  this post will give you some tips on what are the most useful apps you’ll need during your stay.

Those days when we used to travel “light” with a map and a guide book only are long by now, today our daily lives are made easier by technology and the use of the phone for each little thing we might need is ingrained in our daily habits: from checking the news, emails, weather, transports and bank,  you’ll definitely need your phone, even more, when on a City Trip.

 

The Big Ben at night. Photo By Roman In London

 

  • Uber

A great app to have, it lets you find a taxi wherever you’re at, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of paying the driver in cash as it’s all taken from your registered credit card. On the plus side, it’s about 30-50% cheaper than a traditional black cab.

  • City Mapper

Simple, sleek, and super helpful, City Mapper provides up-to-date transports times and line updates, the route planner is particularly useful, allowing you to optimise for a shorter journey or fewer changes.

  • Time Out London

You may be able to pick up a free copy of Time Out on the tube or around hotels and cafes. If you don’t find one, make sure you use the Time Out London app for suggestions of things to see. They list the latest events, culture and nightlife and have lots of suggestions for first-time visitors too.

  •  Bus London

Never wait in the cold again thanks to UK Bus Checker. The app will give you live bus times at any London stop so you know exactly when to show up at your stop to catch your ride.

  •   Meetup

If travelling solo or just looking to meet people I find this a very useful app as it gather a wide range of interests and opportunity to meet like minded people to have interesting and fun times

  •   Just Eat

This is internationally known and widely used almost everywhere. If you get too tired after a day touring the City this is a good app to use to get your dinner (or breakfast delivered).

  • Opentable

Eating out in London is quite an expensive business, but there are bargains around if you know where to look. Opentable, which handles reservations for up to 80% of London’sMichelin-starred eateries, can provide restaurant discounts on everything from quick bites to fine dining in over 4,000 UK restaurants, as well as nearby restaurant searches and the ability to book online.

  •  Currency Converter App

If coming from abroad you may not be used to the Pound and might experience the constant challenge of doing currency conversions in your head. Any currency converter app is, therefore, a must companion.

phone

 

Roman In London: where to see it

Roman Wall

As surprising as it may sound (at least to me) the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain in the year 43 AD and founded London who was named Londinium.

However, the Romans settlement didn’t last long (until around 61) when the Iceni tribe, led by Bodica, stormed in and burned it to the ground. A much bigger and stronger City rose in its place, but here and here there are still some remains of that short-lived Roman Empire influence.

The original City was built inside a set of defensive walls and some sections can still be seen today.

Roman London
In the 1300 the City was still confined within the Roman Walls. Map of the British city of London in around 1300. Vectorised version of File:Plan of London in 1300.jpg by William R. Shepherd, a work in the public domain in the United States, also its home country, by virtue of being published in 1923 without copyright renewal.

Roman Wall

Roman Wall
Roman Wall

The Roman Wall was maintained until the 18 century, some of its sections can be seen on the grounds of the Museum of London, in the Barbican Estate and around Tower Hill. It now follows roughly the boundaries of the modern Square Mile. Outdoor displays of the wall stretches can be found along the thoroughfare of London Wall, towards the Museum of London.

Roman Amphitheatre

Remains of London’s amphitheatre were recently discovered in the north of the city (1888 in Guildhall Yard), and you can visit them at the Guildhall Art Gallery. The  80m-wide dark circle of  dark stone in the courtyard outside shows where the Roman amphitheatre in London once stood.

It was built in AD70 as a simple wooden structure, it’s not clear yet what was happening inside the amphitheatre at that time, whatever animal fighting or gladiators being executed, what is sure though, is that it was a place for mass entertainment as it had a capacity to host up to 6.000 people.

Roman Amphitheatre © photo by PastLondon on Flickr

Obsession at The Barbican: Review

Jude Law and Halina Reijn are the protagonists in Ivo van Hove’s “Obsession”, stage version of Visconti’s 1942 film at the Barbican which I went to see last weekend and this is my review of the play.

The story is an adaptation of the 1930s  crime novel  ‘The Postman always rings twice” by James Mc Cain about a man and a married woman having an affair and the plot to murder her husband.

The scenography set is minimalistic with a modern and stylish twist, but, although well-thought and very dynamic, I’ve really struggled to imagine those described Italian ambients and scenarios.

As soon as you step into the theatre hall you’re already submerged into the atmosphere as the actors are already performing their set on stage.

You can start “breathing” and witnessing the boredom of Hannah’s life in her marriage with Joseph as she lays almost stranded in the kitchen, her mind elsewhere, her anguish in the solitude while her present/absent husband carries on his work duties. The lack of communication and respect between them is already palpable.

After a few minutes, Jude Law sets his foot onto the stage and the atmosphere gets suddenly intense as the immediate erotic attraction with Hannah sets the voyeuristic expectations high. Although the focus of the acts is not onto their passion, but more on the internal conflicts of the character of Gino (Jude Law) who struggles with a debate between his wild and free side of personality versus the desire and love for a woman. However, the possibility of a stable and  (perhaps in his opinion) boring life, makes him struggle and not able to cope.  The play depicts his shifts from pure passion to boredom with the rapidity of the blink of an eye.

Jude Law interpretation is stellar in interpreting the difficult character of the moody Gino and so is the interpretation of Halina Reijn, however, especially in some fundamental parts of the story, the abstract scenography makes it harder for a viewer to fully immerse in the play.

At Barbican, London, until 20 May. Box office: 020-7638 8891.