Category Archives: london

Poppy’s Place, Parsons Green, London

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Where?

Located at the Lillie Road end of Munster Road, Parsons Green, this new little cafe-diner is as kooky as it is tasty. Nestled on the corner of Bronsart Road, the glass facades provide a light, airy space which won’t induce Sunday morning hangover claustrophobia.

Poppy's Place, 255 Munster Road, Fulham, London SW6 6BW, United Kingdom

The Decor?

Poppy’s is beautifully decorated with white wooden walls and flooring giving it a beach-like, summery feel perfect for a summer’s day treat. A rustic, duck-egg blue cabinet houses a delicious spread of jams and breads (even crayons for your tots), while the vintage server at the front is bedecked with tea cups that little girls dream of. Cute wooden tables are adorned with beautiful fresh flowers in coloured glass vases and lab-like stools complement the uncluttered vibe.

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The Grub?

The menu is varied and affordable and the quality of food, top-notch. Nothing on the breakfast/lunch menu exceeds £10 which is a pleasant surprise versus some local joints so if you’re after a bargainous, slap-up brekkie, take your pick. There’s something for everyone here, from smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and a choice of sides such as grilled bacon or chorizo to bacon baps, porridge with winter fruit compote or greek yoghurt with seasonal fruit.

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The Lunch?

Lunch options are equally diverse from house burger and macaroni cheese to a range of toasties, salads and baguettes. Steak, horseradish and rocket is a personal favourite. There’s even a Little Munsters Kids’ Menu including fish finger sandwiches, chicken wedges, baked beans on toast and boiled egg and soldiers.

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Dinner too?

Open until 11pm, the dinner menu also includes a range of mouth-watering dishes, from fresh catch of the day to ribeye steak (sourced from premium Lake District Farmers, this is the priciest dish on the menu at £25). The only health-warning of note is that you’re likely to become a regular if you visit this place. After a mouthful of these goodies, you’ll be chomping at the bit for more.

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Details:

Address: 255 Munster Road, Parsons Green, SW6 6BW

Telephone: 0207 920 6420

Nearest Tube: Parsons Green

Website

Is Your Job Taking Over Your Life?

“Hi, I my name’s John. I’ve been lurking for a while, but I’ve finally made an account to post this. I need to get my life off my chest. About me. I’m a 46 year old banker and I have been living my whole life the opposite of how I wanted. All my dreams, my passion, gone. In a steady 9-7 job. 6 days a week. For 26 years. I repeatedly chose the safe path for everything, which eventually changed who I was.” 

Whether you’re a banker, lawyer, chef or teacher, if your job is taking over your existence, read this article.

It may change your life.

Pearls of Wisdom from the Wise

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Who knows best?

People say you see most clearly in your final hours.

Lord Byron said, ‘Adversity is the first path to truth’.

I can’t help thinking that’s true and one of the silver linings to lives cut short.

Five Core Truths

Here are five insightful quotes from four exceptional people who saw the light in their latter days:

1. ‘Prioritising is very easy. Disregard the negative and inconsequential in seconds’.

2. ‘Cancer need not be the epilogue. In many ways it can be the introduction to a richer life of wisdom’.

3. ‘Life is about love and connection and not having flashy, overpriced stuff. The latter doesn’t keep you warm at night or provide love and support’.

4. ‘Don’t go changing’.

5. ‘Whatever you do, you must have fun’.

Who said these?

The first two are from a sporty, 23 year old English graduate diagnosed with terminal brain cancer prior to his university finals. He completed his degree in his dressing gown, achieving a 2:1 to end all 2:1s.

The third is from a 36 year old, reputed financial consultant who referred to research showing the link between highly stressful jobs and cancer. Her blog can be seen here.

The fourth is from a leader in the engineering industry with a sense of a damaging relationship when he saw one.

And the last is from a high-flying accountant advising on careers. Not necessarily what you’d expect from a man who ‘had it all’.

The moral of the tale?

If you’re feeling a little disillusioned with life, whether working too hard, worrying about a career change, questioning a relationship that doesn’t feel quite right or wondering whether to up sticks somewhere new, trust your gut. We’re all the same in the end - we only regret the things we didn’t do, not the things we did.

So don’t rely too heavily on rationale – it’s not always right. Bear in mind that societal ‘norms’ aren’t necessarily normal in the eyes of people who know what it is to truly live, or to have their lives cut short.

You only live once. So don’t wait until it’s too late to see the light. Your instincts are only telling you what your wiser self already knows.

And if you’re unsure of which direction to take, remember: ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards’ (Steve Jobs).

 

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Las Bravas, St Katharine Docks, London

Where is it?

Tucked away in St Katharine Docks between Tower Hill and Tower Bridge, Las Bravas brings high-end, affordable tapas to London. Having opened in March this year, it’s not surprising it’s received rave reviews on Trip Advisor given the quality of the food and staff.

What’s the food and decor like?

The restaurant is top-end shabby-chic, with cosy enclaves for the winter months and full-length windows running dock-side. The menu is diverse, ranging from Foie Gras and Brioche with Serrano Ham and Lamb Chops with Rosemary Alioli to Fried Baby Calamares and Smoked Sardines.

What’s the damage?

Prices are very reasonable. Ranging from £5-10 a dish, the food is beautifully presented with charming service that’s rare to find.

Why go?

If you’d like a taste of Spain without breaking the bank, I can’t rave highly enough. This place is the tops.

Details:

Website

Address: Saint Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AT

Tel: 0207 481 1464

Nearest tube: Tower Hill

The Troubadour, Earls Court

One of my favourite venues in London, the Troubadour is a cafe-bar-restaurant-club extraordinaire you have to visit at least once.  With pots, pans and all sorts of trinkets hanging from the beam-lined ceilings, this is a fantastical hubbub as magical as Alice’s Wonderland.

Music, you say?

Located at 263-267 Old Brompton Road and established in 1954, The Troubadour is one of the last remaining coffee houses of its era in London, with a club room in the cellar which has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.  Steeped in artistry befitting its name (a Troubadour was a lyric poet or performer from the High Middle Ages), it continues to host live music and poetry, mainly by performers who write their own material.  The performance area downstairs remains an intimate space for 120, with a cosy underground jazz club feel, dance floor and cocktails served until the early hours.

What’s the cafe like?

The ground-floor cafe is a spell-binding affair which caters for every taste bud and budget.  From The Brompton Burger and chunky chips to ‘The Troubadour Trio’ – a scrumptious spread of hummus, taramasalata and pumpkin dip with pitta bread and crudités – you will not be disappointed.  The jungular garden nestled at the rear of the cafe is but another feature to enjoy on a warm summer’s eve.

What’s the Wine Shop like?

The variety doesn’t stop there, with the neighbouring Wine Shop providing a calm alternative to the fast pace of the cafe and club next door.  Available for private parties, it was also awarded the ‘Best Argentinian Wine Retailer of the Year’ in 2010.  Wine-tasting evenings and Troubadour Feasts are superbly hedonistic events involving a several course dinner based on a chosen region or country in return for paying a fixed fee and the promise of meeting new and interesting people (The Troubadour tends to attract engaging sorts).

Do they do private parties?

If that’s not enough for you, The Troubadour Gallery is an elegant room perfect for use as a private party room for drinks for up to 70 guests or a buffet lunch or supper for up to 50 people.  Located on the first floor, it is designed in classical fashion with wooden floors, large windows and high ceilings.

Not sure it’s your bag?

If you’re an artistic soul who enjoys the eclectic, visit The Troubadour.  It’s one of a kind.  And if you’re a touch nutty, wear a hat on a Tuesday and you’ll get a free dessert!

Contact

265 Old Brompton Rd, London SW5 9JA

Website

020 7370 1434

Music Gigs: £5 for advance online bookings / £7 on the door

Poetry Evenings: Mondays Fortnightly 

Hours: 9am-Late  

Jak’s, Chelsea

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jak’s is a sprawling underground club.  Having replaced the vast space that was ‘Public’ on Lots Road, that’s exactly what I assumed. Described by my sister as a ‘must-see, chilled underground bar’, I felt obliged to see for myself. The reality didn’t disappoint.

A completely unique concept, Jak’s is a treasure-trove of character.  Walking in is like stealing a peek into the Parisienne bohemia of the Moulin Rouge. Like peering down the kaleidoscope of an eclectic mind, one thing Jak’s is not is mainstream Kings Road chic. Second to the Walton Street branch in South Kensington, the Chelsea hideaway is much larger, more magical and feels like a well-kept secret known to few. Dim lighting illuminates earthy woods and rich leathers, vintage rocking horses and other circus-like trinkets – most un-yah.  

A jaw-dropping delicatessen runs the length of the main sitting area with gastronomical delights a-plenty. Whether you’re after a scrumptious array of pitta, humous and feta or zingy prawn kebabs, this is a feast fit for a prince. With a cocktail menu as long as your arm and old-school sofas in every direction, Jak’s is an escapist paradise you can really sink into.

One of its USPs is the juxtaposition of space and cosiness. Spanning the full breadth of the old club, you can choose from sitting in the vast lounge area, the candle-lit bar or the adjoining lounge with cosy seating hubs perfect for intimate catch-ups.

Despite its distinctively eclectic vibe, Jak’s maintains a refreshingly civilised ambience – something of a contrast to its more raucous predecessor. A wonderfully relaxed setting, it combines a sense of occasion with understated wow-factor. Big enough to dodge a wrong-un and intimate enough to woo a good-un, this would be a great venue for a first date – the visual extravaganza providing ice-breakers aplenty.

Open from 8am until late, with feasts for every palate, I really couldn’t rave more. The only note of caution would be to avoid eating here on a Saturday night. The club vibe awakens proper at the weekend and it’s fair to say that skimpy dresses, high heels and full-frontal cleavage merge less than seamlessly with a low-key evening meal… The knock-on effect is delayed service and slightly cool food.

That said, if you’d like a trip to the magical French capital but can’t quite stretch that far, this would be a pretty good second prize.

Contact:

Address: 533B King’s Rd, London SW10 0TZ

Nearest tube: Parson Green/Fulham

Website

Tel: 0207 751 4400

Capacity: 400 people

Free rental and wifi

Review of ‘London’s Lost Jewels’

The Cheapside Hoard is a must-see for jewellery lovers and historians. The collection comprises the world’s largest cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery including rings, brooches and earrings in bright coloured gemstones and enamelled gold settings.  Read my review here.

The Winter’s Tale, The Royal Opera House

This is one for Shakespeare and ballet lovers.  Based on the well-known tragicomedy, The Winter’s Tale, the world premiere of the new full-length ballet by The Royal Opera House is a striking exposition of emotion.  Co-produced with the National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Opera House’s Artistic Associate, Christopher Wheeldon, captures the powerful themes of love, loss and reconciliation in dramatic fashion.  Classical tutus and traditional ballet are replaced with minimalist dress and modern choreography as a sterling cast of Royal Ballet Principals including Lauren Cuthbertson, Edward Watson, Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb dance their magic.

The austerity of the opening Act sets the scene of forboding turmoil, with dancers silhouetted in black huddling against a background of sombre grey clouds.  Darkness and light are hinted at by the joviality of the next scene as Leontes and Pelixenes’ friendship from childhood to adulthood is neatly charted through compressed display – the two little boys who dance innocently together in red and green shirts shift seamlessly into grown men in more sophisticated pas de deux, wearing the crowns of their respective Kingdoms, Behomia and Sicilia.  Their closeness is cemented by the introduction of Leontes’ wife, Hermione with whom they both dance happily – lifting her with gaiety, their happiness is captured though carefree pirouettes and beautiful port de bras.

The shift in mood is dramatically evoked through aural and visual deviation, with playful musical tones giving way to the discordant as the lush tree-lined backdrop sheds its leaves in decay.  Leontes’ estrangement from Hermione and Pelixenes is cleverly portrayed through his withdrawal from the triangular symmetry of both men standing astride her, their hands placed tenderly on her pregnant belly.  His mental anguish is dramatically captured by his jerked balletic movements which see him bent-double against dissonant pluckings of the violin.  His fit-like spasms are all the more pointed against the softly lit Pelixenes and Hermione who remain bound in still visual closeness.  In contrast to Shakespeare’s text which evokes the irrationality of Leontes’ suspicion that Hermoine has committed adultery with Pelixenes, Hermione and Pelixenes’ physical proximity evokes sympathy for the fraught Leontes.

The play goes on to nimbly chart key events from the text – Pelixenes’ hushed departure, Hermione’s imprisonment and death, the birth and disposal of Perdita, her love affair with Florizel and their eventual union.  Notwithstanding its general originality, the final scene in which Paulina presents Leontes with the statue of his late wife could be more dramatic.  While the pale blue and white staging provides an ethereal backdrop to Hermione’s animation from statue to life form, the consequent pas de deux between Leontes and Hermione could be more glorious given the remarkable revelation that his wife, some 16 years dead, is in fact, alive.  That aside, Wheeldon’s ballet is a refreshing display of intense emotion, made all the more striking for its simplicity and modernity.

Details:
10 April – 8 May 2014
Tickets are still available – £9 to £81