Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Stylist's Rail @ BIRTHDAYS

I'm a bit of a wheeler-dealer at heart, a wannabe-white-van-man always looking to make a bob or two. So when my friend Hydes suggested getting a stall at The Stylist's Rail clothes sale at BIRTHDAYS I was IN.

Run by a sweet girl called Plum, on the first Saturday of each month, this is one pimped up jumble, with great 'pre-loved' items from the likes of Topshop right through to Moschino - all at bargainous prices. Needless to say, having gone with the aim of selling my clothes (and streamlining my life), I wound up replacing each sale with a new item from someone else's rail. 

The next sale is on 4th May, so book your spot now if you're looking to sell. Otherwise, just head on down, grab a beer from the bar and tuck in - I doubt you'll leave empty-handed.

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Monday, 15 April 2013

Sabel @ F.Cooke

Newly local and already sucked in, Broadway Market is rapidly becoming a favourite weekend hang out. And what better place to hold a sweet little foodie pop-up than the hundred year old institution of F.Cooke just up from the canal. So when bookings for Sabel, the 'sociable eating' brainchild of chef with Michelin star experience and an events organising guru opened, I was straight online and in line. 

And we weren't disappointed - it was an afternoon of pure culinary delight in the lovely setting of this historic site.

Ever the indecisive, a simple menu suits me fine, especially when each dish on it looks as delicious as the next. So sharesies it was and it was one of each of the starters for the table.

Sabel: Lamb scrumpets and Heirloom beetroot salad

Mains became trickier with both the slow cooked beef cheek and pork belly leaving us smacking our lips but it was the stinking bishop macaroni that swung it for me and pork belly it was.

Sabel: Pork belly, chaps and black pudding, stinking bishop macaroni cheese

This was some of the best food I'd had for a while - the combination of tastes and textures invoking moans of pleasure from round the table.

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon of food and friends - I can't recommend it highly enough. Not only for the gourmet delights but also the friendly team running it and the general positive vibes. It's a couple of weeks back that I went now, when London was freezing, the space could have been warmer but with Spring finally sprung this should no longer be a problem.

There are only a couple more weekends in the run so you'd best be snappy but, having said that, I shouldn't think it'll be the last we see of this little gem.

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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Butchery Bingo - The Shoreditch Butchery

With a strong competitive streak and a sucker for a prize, bingo has always held huge appeal for me - add a stiff cocktail or two and a hot dog and I'm in heaven. So when Enni-the-babe invited me to the soft launch of Butchery Bingo at The Shoreditch Butchery a couple of Monday's ago, I jumped right on board.

Hosted by the delightful Boogaloo Stu the evening is a raucous affair of 'do me 'til I'm raw number sixty-four' set to the finest nineties tunes.

The Butchery, XOYO's little bar-next-door, has it's own grungy charm and provides a nice diner back drop to the bingo, with us all squeezed into booths to tuck into our 'dawgs and sliders.

With a round of shots for the table on each full house, we were soon flying high - maybe a little too high for a Monday night...

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Killer Combo: Yoga, Art, Music & Food

What better way to overcome the Monday evening malaise than a bit of art, a bit of yoga and a lot of food?

Well, that's exactly what the lovely Gabrielle has gone and done, holding a weekly class in a great space: the Eb & Flow Gallery. So last Monday, my yoga-licious pal Lew and I went to check it out.

Current Exhibition: Gemma Anderson's lovely etchings

And what a treat it was. The hour long class (for all levels) was nicely challenging, ending with a little meditation, accompanied by singing and a delicious supper from Trullo's Tim Siadatan.

Whilst the supper part's not a weekly occurrence the art, yoga and music is. So if you're looking for a pick-me-up after just another manic Monday, go get involved.

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

2 Weeks in Sri Lanka

Having not had a 2 week holiday since I don't know when and with the snow falling hard and fast over London - needless to say I was a leetle bit excited about our trip to the holiday destination of 2013 - Sri Lanka.

It's hard to know where to start...

Tallala Retreat
Talalla Beach

... But where better than the beach? So we bombed it down to the south coast and into the ultimate zen zone of Talalla Retreat - a place who's purpose is to Our days were spent doing yoga, hanging out on the deserted beach, drinking cold cold beer and eating (organic) vegetable curry. Bliss.

Dondra Lighthouse 
A boat ride over to the nearby Dondra Lighthouse (the highest in Asia, no less) for sunset - less sun, more storm - was beautiful.

Coconut man
3 days later, cleansed of the stresses of London-life, pink nosed and salty from the sea, we headed up into the hills to a little village called Ella. 

Buddhist Temple
Surprisingly thankful for some cooler climes, we took a small hike up to Little Adam's Peak. The apparently incredible view was unfortunately slightly obscured by cloud, but with the rain having scared the tamer tourists away, we wandered through the rows of tea plants completely on our own. 

Winding up at the seriously lush 98 Acres Resort , we had a nice cup of (Orange Pekoe) tea and watched the view unfold as the rain stopped and the clouds cleared.

Continuing on the tea theme, we took a tuk tuk to the nearby Halpewatte Tea Factory to see the process from field to pack and after a delicious tea tasting session I decided that becoming a tea broker was my new dream job.

Aside from tea, Ella is vaunted as quite a hub for Ayurveda treatments, with a surprisingly huge number of spas for such a small village. We treated ourselves to massages at the much mentioned Suwamadura Ayurvedic centre. Sadly less impressive than we were led to believe - the head massage was more scratch attack than soothing but it was an experience nonetheless.

The next morning we set off before dawn to head back down to the coast, via the Udawalawe National Park.

Arriving at Udawalawe just before sunrise we set off into the park aboard a jeep with driver and a tour guide in tow. Stupid, I know, but I just hadn't realised quite how amazing the nature element was to Sri Lanka and my goodness, cheap too - we were off on a full-blown safari and for less than you'd pay to go to the zoo.

Safari Sri Lanka

There are a number of National Parks in Sri Lanka, each with their own incredible USP, Udawalawe's key attraction being quite how many elephants they have there - over 500. Soon we were standing, watching a family of four ambling through the foliage, the pinky light of the rising sun blushing their wrinkled skin.

Eagles, peacocks, water buffalo and a few more elephants later, with the sun high in the sky we returned back to the car to continue the drive on down to the south coast...

South Coast Beach Sri Lanka

...And into the open arms of the Mangrove Chalets on the beautiful white sands of Marakolliya beach, just along from Tangalle.

This place is paradise. With huge cabins just back from the beach, surrounded by palm trees and miles and miles of just sand, sea and palms - there was nothing to do but sleep, eat, swim, read and well and truly flop.

Lunches were freshly caught prawns and calamari, grilled with ginger and garlic, served with buttery potatoes and washed down with shandies at Sha Sha's beach shack.

Sundowners were mojitos at the Crocodile Bar as the evening's fire was built.

An early morning kayak trip into the mangrove had me scared out of my skin at a feeding monitor lizard (from far off, they could be crocodiles). And on a late night walk down the beach we came across a turtle who had clambered up the sand to lay her eggs.

Marakolliya is truly amazing and it was very hard to leave at the end of our 4 days - but the culture vulture needed his fix, so it was back to real-life (ish) and up the coast to Galle.

An amazing fort town on the East coast, we spent 2 lovely days wandering the streets of the strangely multi-cultural Galle. With architectural influences from the Portugese, Arabs, Dutch and Brits this town is well and truly a mish mash of 'looks' and with an incredible artist community there is plenty to do and see.

We stayed at The Fort Printers, a beautiful converted print works with a lovely plunge pool shaded by frangipani trees.

Sunset walk around the ramparts
And so our holiday drew to a close and we made our way back up the coast to spend our last night in Negombo.

Stumbling upon a light show to celebrate a Roman Catholic Saint's day, once again we were amazed by the endless treats of the island.

With the war over and the wound of the tsunami healing, Sri Lanka was quick to welcome us into it's warm embrace - the people never less than charming, the places we visited never less than extraordinary.  

You should go. 

And take me with you.

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

London Eye Eye Eye

With the Shard's opening claiming 'the best view in town', this week's Timeout magazine draws our attention back to the dear old London Eye

Now just another part of the London skyline furniture it's sadly often overlooked. But just before Christmas, with our lovely Semma leaving for a stint in the Middle East, the gang needed a treat to see her off and what better way to bid London al wada' than a little trip on the wheel?

And so we booked a capsule and filled it with her friends - 25 of us cosied up and ready for the ride. Our dreams of flowing fizz slightly scuppered by a no food or drink rule, we managed to pull off a couple of bottles and as we reached the top raised a toast to our darling friend.

The views were spectacular, the lights of the city twinkling beneath us. A pretty amazing back drop for a little hang out with our friends.

I'm sure I'll make it up the Shard at some point (probably once the Groupon deal hits), but if it's a treat with a view you're after, have a think about the Eye again... Less expensive than you think for a bubble of your own - endless possibilities (not involving nudity, much to Harry's disappointment). And a nice little snap for our Sems' Middle Eastern wall...

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Monday, 14 January 2013

The Rain Room

An installation that requires a 3 hour queue must be worth it. Surely? Surely. And so, yesterday afternoon, Em and I settled down on the Barbican's floor to wait our turn into The Rain Room

An installation by contemporary art group Random International, the Rain Room is quite something. True to it's title it is, essentially, a room full of rain... but controlled by you. Entering the 100 square metre area, the rain magically stops falling wherever you step - just don't walk too fast or wear dark clothing.

With a focus on behaviour and interaction, the Random International collective have certainly captured our attention and for good reason. The sensation as you walk through is truly weird - surrounded by pouring water, the sound of the splashing droplets reverberating around the room, you stay (nearly) completely dry.

Our initial trepidation quickly forgotten, we were soon prancing around, punished once in a while with a light spray for too quick a step (or too wild a jump). Lit by just one harsh spotlight from the corner of the room, it was hard to make much out through the deluge and despite there being up to 10 other people in the installation at one time, you felt quite isolated in your own little bubble.

Open until 3rd March, it is definitely worth a visit. But if you just can't face the queue, whack your earphones in and watch this - then go and queue.

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