Review: Colour and Vision Exhibition @ The National History Musuem

I had a wonderful day at the Natural History Museum last Sunday with my bestie Lewis. The Colour and Vision Exhibition is really something to behold (and oooh so shiny! Perhaps not the best place to be with a hangover admittedly). It’s a fascinating and inspiring journey chronicling the history of colour and vision in the natural world.

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Lewis looking slightly mental

As you would logically expect, the exhibition starts off at the very beginning, with the first signs of life on earth (in my hazy state it took me a while to cotton onto the fact that we were moving through time). It was fascinating to peer at odd primordial creatures pickled in jars and ancient fossil impressions, and piece together how the human eye had evolved from these simple forms.

I stood and pondered on this thought-provoking quote from Darwin for a while:

“To suppose that the eye … could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree…”

darwin

Darwin looking discerning

You can probably imagine this part of the exhibition was somewhat lacking in colour and light, to reflect our dark and primitive beginnings. After all, the first ‘eyes’, if that’s what you can call them, were unable to perceive colour. To be honest though after the amazing light installation at the entrance (see below), I was quite eager to move onto the section with the pretty colours and lights.

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Rainbow lights

We then moved into a room with at least 50 pickled eyes (my stomach was churning by now), and a very interesting interactive video display where you can compare your own vision to that of various animals. Dragonflies are incredible, dogs not so much.

There were also lots of dead stuffed things, in true Natural History Museum style. The iridescent plumage on some of the tropical birds is beautiful far beyond anything man-made.

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Shiny dead things

birdy

 

plumage

All in all it was a very enjoyable day, and I will certainly be back for future exhibitions.

Colour and Vision Exhibition – Natural History Museum, South Kensington
15 July – 6 November 2016. Last entry 17.15
Adult £10.80

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New show: The Games Afoot

sherlock
A great tip from my friend who always knows the best shows on in London…I present you with
‘The Games Afoot’.

From the creators of Alice’s Adventures Underground (which was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever been to), this new immersive experience takes you into the world of Sherlock Holmes, where you get to act as a sleuth for the night.

I imagine it might be quite frightening, as their last show was a little at times, so maybe not for the faint hearted!

https://www.thegamesafoot.co.uk/about

 

Christmas with a conscience

Today I read on Facebook that half the paper consumed in the U.S. is used for wrapping presents. Yes, wrapping presents. That seems crazy to me!

In actual fact it seems that in the U.S., annual rubbish from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals around 4 million tons, while the overall amount of household waste adds up to about 250 million tons. Either way, this is very depressing news, especially when you remember the devastating forest fires which swept through South East Asia earlier this year. 2.1 million hectares of forest were destroyed in one of the worst ecological disasters in living memory. We really can’t continue to obliterate our forests like this. Even if that eye-opening factoid about wasting paper isn’t accurate, it’s clear that the Christmas holidays tend to induce a particularly unrestrained and frantic bout of consumerism which has, I’m sure, a seriously detrimental effect on our planet.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel quite sick just thinking about it. All those greeting cards thrown in the bin. All the uneaten sprouts and turkey sitting in the fridge. All the electricity used to power row upon row of fairy lights.

Despite the notions of “goodwill” and “charity” that the festive season carry, people everywhere seem to get wrapped up (excuse the pun) in buying things, putting on a display, and overindulging. They forget about the wider ramifications of all this excess and gluttony. At the risk of sounding like the Grinch I really feel the need to point out the obvious hypocrisy here. I know I’m not the only one who shares this uneasy sentiment, so I’ve put together some ideas to help you enjoy Christmas in a conscientious way. Let’s embrace the original ideals of selflessness, generosity and community.

1) Wrap your presents using fabric, newspaper or recycled paper
This genius blog article has loads of ideas for avoiding the usual gift wrap trap. It might even save you some pennies too.
Eco-friendly and green gift wrapping ideas for this holiday season from The Art of Simple.brown-paper-packages-2I also like the very pretty range of recycled wrapping paper from Stephanie Cole Design, available from notonthehighstreet.com:
Recycled Strawberry Wrapping Paper.

2) Buy presents that have been ethically sourced
Any hippy at heart will love the clothes, bags and jewellery from Forgotten Tribes. Their goods are handmade and fair trade, and use up-cycled traditional indigenous fabrics.
http://www.forgottentribes.com/
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Fair trade coffee also makes a nice present:
Equal Exchange Arabian Mocha Java Blend Organic Ground Coffee from the Ethical Superstore.

Essens-III-Down-Hood-600x630Or you could keep a loved one cosy and warm this winter by giving a down jacket for Christmas. If you’d prefer to shop responsibly then make sure the one you buy is durable (down jackets vary a lot in quality), that any DWR treatment is Flurocarbon free, and that the feather fill comes from happy geese. Haglofs make excellent quality jackets which meet the Responsible Down Standard: the Essens III Down Hood from Above and Beyond is perfect for climbers and mountain enthusiasts.

3) Make yummy meals from your leftovers
Don’t let all that beautiful food go to waste. Why not make bubble and squeak?
Try Nigel Slater’s classic bubble and squeak recipe
or maybe a turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwich.
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4) Use candles instead of fairy lightsimgres.jpg
Personally I think there is absolutely no room for a giant flashing Reindeer made of fairy lights on your front lawn. So much electricity is wasted on tacky Christmas lights. Some tasteful candles positioned in the window or around the fireplace will look better, and save energy. You could use cinnamon and orange flavours to make the room smell nice and festive too. I like the idea of wrapping candles in actual cinnamon sticks, I wonder if you would smell them as the candle burns. Obviously be careful you don’t burn the house down if you are using candles on the tree.

5) Use the same tree every year
My mum used to use the same, real tree each year, I kid you not. We kept it in a pot in the garden when we weren’t using it, and once it got too big we planted it. Unfortunately this isn’t really a practical solution for everyone. I would advocate getting a fake tree if you can’t have a potted one, but this is only really going to be environmentally friendly if you hang onto it for many years. Which brings me to the other option, a real tree, but if you do go down that route then get one that’s FSC approved. FSC trees are grown as part of a well-managed forest, minimising the use of pesticides and protecting forest plants and animals.images.jpg

Upcoming events in London this summer

The Vaccines
A decent, radio-friendly band play the Kingston Hippodrome.
28th May. Sold out but have look on stubhub.tumblr_lzaer4cVMb1qaahf6o1_500
http://www.stubhub.co.uk/

Dylan Moran @ the Apollo
He is a sexy Irish comedic genius. I want his babies.
29th & 30th May. Tickets on Stubhub for about £50.
http://www.stubhub.co.uk/

88824955Peter Pan @ Regent’s Park Outdoor Theatre
The absolute best theatre venue in London. The show looks pretty spectacular as well.
15th May – 14th June 2015. £22.50-48.50
https://openairtheatre.com/

Courtney Pine with support from Soweto Kinch @ the Jazz Cafe
Went to see Soweto Kinch at Ronnie Scott’s about a year ago. Incredible and dare I say ground breaking. Go see him.
5th June. £12 if you get the Time Out Voucher
https://uk-offers.timeout.com/deals

Congo Natty @ Koko
urlKoko is a world-class concert venue/club in an old theatre in Camden, with a giant disco ball and a large smoking area on the terrace. And Congo Natty is awesome. Nuff said.
13th June. £16 early bird on sale now.
http://www.koko.uk.com/

KaraUke

London really has it all, including karaoke to a live ukulele backing band!
18th June. Free.
http://karauke.co.uk/

Wimbledon Tennis Championships
A british institution, and a valid excuse to get tipsy on Pimms and stuff your face with strawberries and cream. If you’ve missed the ballot for tickets then queue up on the day for entry or watch the big screen on the hill outside.
29th June – 12th July. Varies in price.
http://www.wimbledon.com/

Scan by Rodney Todd-White & Son020 7734 9070Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon
National Portrait Gallery delivers what I imagine will be a very popular exhibition.
2nd July – 18th October. £9.
http://www.npg.org.uk/

One Dance Festival
House/Garage/Old Skool/Drum & Bass with Ms Dynamite-ee-ee and Artful Dodger headlining. Free if your birthday is between 26th June – 27th July!
12th July. £20.
http://www.onedancefestival.com/

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Lovebox
A sweet line up with Rudimental, Mark Ronson, Groove Armada, Snoop Dog and Flight Facilities.
17th – 18th July. £93 for the weekend.
http://loveboxfestival.com/

Ally Pally Summer Fest
This is definitely one for the diary. With street food, a fun fair, an ice rink gala, live music, a silent disco and more.
25th July. Free entry.
http://summerfest.alexandrapalace.com/

BBC-Proms

Prom 27: Late Night With … BBC Radio 6 Music
Classical music meets electronica (and an excuse to dress all fancy).
5th August. Sold out but have look on stubhub.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/empxj5

Meltdown @ Southbank
David Byrne, of Talking Heads, curates a very special week of one-off performances at the Southbank Centre.
17th – 30th August. Check website for pricing.
http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/david-byrnes-meltdown

Outdoor cinema
Sit back and watch a classic film under the stars; the perfect way to spend a balmy summer evening. Some of Luna Cinema’s gorgeous venues include Kew Gardens, Kensington Palace, and Brockwell Lido.
1st July – 18th September. Check website for pricing.
http://www.thelunacinema.com/

rooftop-cinema-peckham

Great UK weekend trips from London

This post has been written with all Londoners in mind, however, it’s probably most useful to foreigners who have just moved here and want to get to know the UK. I think getting out of the city and breathing in the fresh country air is an occasional must if you don’t want to end up on a ventilator at age 28…

The Gower, Wales
The Gower has to be one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, in fact it was the first to be named an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. There are now 46 AONBs, but I’m not sure any of the others can compete.
Rhossili Bay is one of my favourite beaches. It’s a world class surfing destination and a great place to learn. There is a nice campsite nestled in the dunes here, and you can watch the sunset over the horizon because the bay faces west (http://www.hillendcamping.com/). Three Cliffs Bay is another perfect spot for some rock climbing or a walk. You can quite clearly make out the points of the three cliffs in my photo below. It takes about 5 hours to drive to the Gower from London; public transport isn’t really an option unfortunately.
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Edinburgh
You might think that a trip up to Scotland is a bit unrealistic for the weekend, but think again. Edinburgh is only 4h20 on the train from London Kings Cross, and if you buy tickets in advance it’s actually a fairly affordable roundtrip. Edinburgh is a wonderful city, and it’s much more relaxing to mooch around than London. There’s loads to do here:
search-location-edinburgh – Take a walk up to Arthur’s Seat and enjoy the views over the city and the Firth of Fourth.
– Visit the gothic and very impressive castle:
http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/
– Sample some proper Scottish wiskey. May I suggest Talisker from the Isle of Skye.
– Eat weird scottish food. Go for a deep fried mars bar or some haggis. Very healthy. Then wash it down with a local Brewdog beer (I like the Punk IPA): https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/edinburgh
– Don’t miss the best fudge shop in the world either, The Fudge House. So gooey. So good! http://fudgehouse.co.uk/
– Catch the famous “Fringe Festival” in summer with a mix of theatre, comedy, street performance and other events. https://www.edfringe.com/
– Stay at Castle Rock Backpackers, next to the castle with fab views over the city and a friendly vibe. http://castlerockedinburgh.com/ 

Bristol
upfest_soulful_crew569_0Oh I’m totally in love with Bristol! It has an interesting music scene (leaning towards garage and reggae) making it a really fun night out. Bristol is a bit reminiscent of East London with all the graffiti, and it has a similarly diverse population, but it’s definitely less hipster.
King Street and the adjoining Marsh Street seem to be good areas to go out in. I like the Beer Emporium http://thebeeremporium.net/ — they have a ping pong table and loads of craft beer. If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, Full Moon Backpackers is a cool place to stay http://www.fmbristol.co.uk/, last time I was in Bristol we watched some live music in their courtyard. In May the city hosts Love Saves the Day Festival as well, I went in 2014 and it was excellent. A very memorable, muddy, messy day out. The best bit about Bristol? It’s only about an hour and a half on the train from London Paddington.

Brighton
brighton_2472753bIf you are looking for a pleasant beach to lounge on in summer I wouldn’t really recommend Brighton (there are pebbles, lots of seagulls and the usual throng of tourists), but if you are looking for a seaside town with nice little cafes and a vibrant arts scene then it’s perfect.
Those arriving by train can walk straight out the station and down the hill to get to the main shopping area, it’s about 5-10 minutes away. Turning left out of the station will take you to “the Mews”, a charming network of cobbled streets lined with bunting and second hand shops. This is my favourite area. You could quite easily do Brighton as a day trip from London, especially if you live in Putney. It’s dead easy to get to. Just get the train to Clapham Junction and then there are regular trains to Brighton taking about 50 minutes. Or stay overnight and treat yourself to a sea front hotel, http://www.lastminute.com/ sometimes has good deals.

Croyde, Devon
imgresSurfs up, dude! The sweet little village of Croyde in Devon is one of the UK’s best surf spots, and it has everything you would want from a seaside holiday destination. There’s a glorious sandy beach, a scenic coastal walking path and an excellent pub, The Thatch: http://www.thethatchcroyde.com/

imgres-1 Last time I was here I stayed at The Thatch because we knew the chef (who is now living in Australia, but I’m sure the food is still awesome). If you want a peaceful nights sleep then take a room in their cottage over the road.

There are a few surf shops in the village if you need to rent surf gear: http://www.croyde-surf-hire.co.uk/. It’s probably best you drive here, which takes about 4 hours. If you don’t have access to a car and you can’t rent one, then there is a train to Exeter from Paddington. From Exeter you can get the train to Barnstaple, and then a bus or a taxi. That would be a bit of a mission for just a weekend though, so I really advise driving.

Bath
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Bath is undoubtedly one the prettiest cities in England, with lots of beautiful architecture. It makes an ideal weekend break from London. You can amuse yourself by sampling some West Country cider in one of the local pubs, wandering the cobbled streets and going shopping, visiting the thermal baths (above) and the Roman baths… or taking a trip to Stonehenge or Glastonbury. There are direct trains to Bath from London Paddington which take an hour and a half.

Durham Cathedral
sb10064813ag-001.jpg / Durham Cathedral url
There are plenty of historic sites in Durham, but the cathedral is really the crowning glory. It’s been voted the UK’s favourite building and I can see why. Bring your broomstick along and pretend you’re at Hogwarts, you’ll probably recognise it as one of the main filming locations. Afterwards head to one of the olde-worlde pubs in the market square or have a look around the castle. There are frequent trains from Kings Cross, and the journey is under 3 hours, which is impressive considering how far north it is. Make sure you book an advance ticket to save money because buying a return on the day is going to be painful.

The Lake District
I used to live up in Cumbria, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the most amazing and unspoilt areas in the UK. You will particularly like it if you appreciate nature, the mountains and hill walking.
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Lots of tourists come here in summer, but they tend to congregate in the main towns/villages: Windermere, Kendal and Ambleside. They don’t usually stray far from their coach and just visit the main hot spots, so it’s quite easy to avoid them.

7238952_origBeatrix Potter’s house “Hill Top” is particularly popular with snap happy Japanese tourists. The cottage is worth a visit though if you are interested in that sort of thing, especially if you are a National Trust member.
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top/

While were on the subject of historic attractions, Wordsworth’s family home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is also worth going to see, and is a good backup plan if it’s pouring down with rain. urlAnyone visiting from the US or abroad will be suitably charmed by how quaint and English it is. Wordsworth was part of a circle of Romantic writers in the 19th century who wrote about the beauty of the Lake District, and he is still celebrated today as one of England’s greatest poets. http://wordsworth.org.uk/visit/dove-cottage.html

If the weather is fair then it’s definitely a good idea to go for a walk in the fells. Buy an OS map from one of the many local outdoor shops and then use this great website to plan your route: http://www.walkingenglishman.com/lakes.htm
My favourite spots include Blencathra, Helvellyn, the Coniston range, the Langdales, and the area around Wastwater. There are so many great rambles though, the list is endless.

url-1The Old Man of Coniston is quite an easy walk with a well defined path. At 803m it’s one of the highest peaks in the Lakes, so you do really need to set aside a whole day, especially if you would like to take in some of the other hills in the Coniston range on your way. It is possible to begin and finish the walk from Coniston itself, a lovely village at the northern end of a lake (well actually it’s a ‘water’ if you want to get technical about it). There are a few good pubs to end the day in, the best is The Black Bull Inn, which brews their own beer, ‘Bluebird Bitter’ and ‘Old Man Ale’. They serve top pub grub too.

If you are looking for something a little more invigorating and challenging, try Helvellyn or Blencathra. Helvellyn is probably the most mountain-like. It has two ridge lines leading to the summit, Swirral Edge and Striding Edge (pictured below). In winter it often requires crampons and an ice axe, so it’s a serious undertaking. Sharp Edge on Blencathra is possibly even more demanding and the end can feel quite exposed, but it’s a beautiful route, and there is an easy path up to the top if you’d rather not scramble.
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I would recommend staying in one of the cottage B&Bs, they are usually quite good value at about £60 for a room including cooked breakfast. My favourite has to be Ambleside Lodge because it has parking, it’s right in the middle of Ambleside and they have rooms with jacuzzi baths for £45! I had an amazing weekend here a few years ago. Breakfast is included as well. http://www.ambleside-lodge.com/
If you are coming up by train you can get the train from Euston to Windermere, it takes about 3h30.

Where to buy a used car in SW London

As I am currently looking for a second hand car, I thought I would share with you the list I’ve been compiling of dealerships near Putney.
imgres-1Please note I am not recommending any of these dealers, and I haven’t used any of them myself. This is simply a list for your reference.
I also suggest http://www.autotrader.co.uk/
which is a very handy website or maybe http://www.gumtree.com/.

Balham Cars
http://www.balhamcarslimited.com/ 020 87677227
302-306 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW177AA

Woodland Cars
http://www.woodlandcarsuk.co.uk/ 020 8399 4294
1 Central Parade, St. Marks Hill, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 4PJ
30 min by public transport from Putney (train to CJ then train to Surbiton)

Auto Capital
http://www.autocapital.co.uk/ 020 8965 5990
163 Dukes Road, Park Royal, London, W3 0SL
45 min by public transport from Putney (Cycle/bus to Hammersmith, then Piccadilly line)

Now Vauxhall Heathrow/Richmond/Kingston
http://www.nowvauxhall.co.uk/ 0208 102 9230
Heathrow branch: The Roundabout, Staines Road, Feltham TW14 8RY
50 min by public transport from Putney

Garatt Lane Cars
http://www.garrattlanecars.co.uk/ 020 30919632
24 Chillerton Road, Tooting, LondonSW17 9BG

A&A car sales London
http://www.aandacarsales.co.uk/ 07851 042734 or 07852 142515
Red lion business park, Red lion road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 7QD

edit: I bought a small van from Auto Capital last weekend. Their customer service was very good. So far I am very happy with the van, it seems to be in good working order apart from a bit of a leak when it rains (reading up on this it could cost a few hundred to fix…). I organised finance for it through the dealership as well.

Stuff I’m loving at the moment 6/5/15

Adult sweets
Totally making vodka gummy bears for our next house party!
http://mixthatdrink.com/vodka-gummy-bears/

Nepal Earthquake Fundraisers
I can’t think of a better way to raise money for an important cause.
This Saturday 9th May, at Brixton Jamm, with a Basement Jaxx DJ set.
http://www.brixtonjamm.org/event.php?event_id=780

Alice in Wonderland at The Vaults
I went last night and it was amazing. The set is just incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it.
http://www.the-vaults.org/#!alices-adventures-underground/c1jhy

Marie’s Thai Cafe
A delicious, cheap, quick eat in the Lower Marsh area by Waterloo.
http://www.wearewaterloo.co.uk/listings/marie%E2%80%99s-caf%C3%A9

The fact that Ed Miliband is being objectified by teenage girls
Modern politics continues to leave me dumbfounded.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahjewell/the-milifandom#.cpW3lRgeY

Ladyhawk
Hey… you’re playing with my delirium.

This bag from Accessorize:
Womens-bags-Accessorize-Bon-Voyage-Across-Body-Bag

Food For Thought is closing down

As some of you may have read on the Time Out blog, one of London’s best veggie restaurants ‘Food For Thought’ is shutting down. What sad, sad news.

Their website has an announcement in the news section:
http://foodforthought-london.co.uk/news.html

What a shame. I love this little place in Covent Garden. It’s right by the Seven Dials (the nicest area of CG), and just down the road from The Cambridge Theatre. I discovered it one evening with my mum. We were in a mad panic to find somewhere quick to eat before watching Matilda, and we just picked it on a whim. It’s one of those classic London bistro style places that is split between a couple of floors, and of course ridiculously busy and cramped.

You can order food from the counter and then find yourself a table (often shared with other people). The food and the atmosphere is all very hippy and homely, a bit like a social club or a canteen or something. There are a lot of people wearing woolly jumpers. I’m not painting the best picture here, but it’s good, healthy, wholesome and most importantly cheap vegetarian food, which is not so easy to come by in central London. It’s the kind of place that’s perfect for students and Guardian readers… Oh and my mum too. They usually have a few different curries and stews, some noodles or quiche; don’t expect a lot of choice. They just do a few dishes, but they do them well. Best of all there is often pavlova for dessert, which comes highly recommended.

Apparently the café/restaurant will stay open until the 21st June, so if you haven’t been and it sounds like your cup of tea I suggest a visit. Perhaps go for a bite to eat before seeing a West End show, as I did.

It’s frustrating to hear that another affordable and independent London institution has been pushed out by the chains and tourists that are now swamping Covent Garden. Typical, huh? But there is good news, I have a different veggie restaurant to recommend for when this one shuts:

The Gate http://thegaterestaurants.com/
There is a branch in Islington, but I usually go to the Hammersmith one, right by the Apollo. Some of the best brunch food I’ve ever had! Certainly the best vegetarian brunch anyway. It’s upmaket enough to make a nice date setting too. A main costs about £12 if I remember rightly, and brunch is around £6-8.
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Stuff I’m loving at the moment 24/3/15

Alt J
How did I not discover this band earlier?! They are just so, so good. Their music is so refreshingly different and their lyrics are really beautiful and haunting. Their song “Nara” is apparently about two gay lovers. It has two other counterparts “Arrival in Nara” and “Leaving Nara”, presumably also centred on this theme. Nara is a town in Japan famous for its deer, which are allowed to roam free and untamed, making it “a nice analogy for equal rights across the board” as their frontman pointed out in an interview. Reminds me of Macklemore’s “Same Love” (in sentiment, not in style!):

Cheap festivals
There are a few remarkably affordable festivals with great line ups this year. My pick of the bunch:
Farm Festival – Based in rural Somerset and only about £50 for the weekend. With Lamb, Submotion Orchestra and Phaeleh playing. Don’t forget to bring some cider with you.
31st July till 1st August http://www.farmfestival.co.uk/
INmusic Festival – So it’s not a weekend festival, it’s midweek, and it’s quite a long way from Putney, but what a great excuse for a holiday to Croatia! Set on an island in a lake, in one of my favourite European cities, Zagreb. The line up is as good as some of the best UK festivals, featuring Florence + the Machine, Placebo, Death Cab for Cutie and BRMC. Amazing for £50!
22nd – 24th June https://www.inmusicfestival.com/en
Eurockéennes Festival – I went to this festival a few years ago, and it’s where I discovered one of my favourite reggae artists Hollie Cook. She is actually from West London but the festival is based in France, near Belfort and my hometown of Basel. For €113 you get 3 days of music from the likes of Damien Marley, The Chemical Brothers, Sting and Ben Harper.
3rd till the 5th July http://www.eurockeennes.fr/programmation/

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Lindt Chocolate Eggs
They are everywhere because Easter is coming up, and they are basically just larger versions of the Lindt balls. Eggcelent!

JOY clothing
The clothes and accessories at JOY are so very pretty, and also unusually good quality.

kiah_lemon_frI can’t really afford their normal prices, but they have some very good sales on at the moment. Quite similar to Oliver Bonas, which is probably my favourite shop on Putney high street.

There is a good branch for JOY inside Clapham station.
http://www.joythestore.com/

Unusual and fun ideas for getting fit in London

I’m not a big fan of the gym, never have been, so here are some alternative and quirky ideas around London for shedding your winter blubber:

Morning Gloryville
Make like Dermot and dance your way through the early hours of the morning. This glorious idea is the perfect way to start your day in my opinion – a crazy and silly group of people raving before work.
http://morninggloryville.com/

Yoga with Fitness on Fire
I cannot recommend these hot yoga classes enough. They are excellent value, and the Big Ben studio is so convenient to get to from Putney. It’s just a 20 minute train ride to Waterloo and then a 5 minute walk along the river. Best of all the studio is based in the Marriott County Hall Hotel, and you can use their spa for £10 afterwards… oh and the fancy schmanzy toilets for free.
http://fitnessonfire.co.uk/

Wakeboarding
I’ve never been to a centre near London but I did try wakeboarding up in Cumbria and it was a lot of fun. If you already snowboard, skate or surf you will probably pick it up quite easily. This place in Thorpe looks semi-decent, and they have boats which I’m told is better than cable runs. They also offer water skiing and stand up paddleboarding, another great activity in its own right:
http://jbski.com/

The Electric Run
Another rave style idea. Dress yourself up with luminous paint and glow sticks and jog your way around a specially built course in Wembley Park. The course has themed areas including “under the sea’ and “electro rainforest” and finishes with a light and sound show with DJs. Only 5k, so no excuses. 2nd May 2015.
http://electricrun.co.uk/london/

Rock Climbing
There are a number very good indoor climbing walls around London. It’s a sport that’s really growing in popularity and it’s easy to see why. For a start it’s easy on your joints compared to a lot of other types of exercise, but also it works all kinds of hidden and long forgot about muscles, and can even result in a rather nice six pack if you train enough. Plus it’s a great adrenalin kick and a good way to practise overcoming fear. Oh and if you can climb competently indoors it opens up a whole world of outdoor climbing and mountaineering, and as someone who loves these activities more than anything, I can’t recommend it enough.

Near to Putney we have:
Urban Ascent http://www.urbanascent.co.uk/
Small and friendly, this is a very laid back bouldering wall in Parsons Green. Only a 10 minute cycle ride from Putney or take the 21 bus. Just £6.50 a session if you are a BMC member and you buy a block of 10.

Westway http://sports.westway.org/defying-gravity-1994
One of the best walls for roped climbing, with a big overhanging wall for leading. It’s part of a gym, so expect lots of shirtless men showing off on the bars and sit-up bench (hey I’m not complaining!). It’s £10 a pop once you are a member. They change the routes round quite frequently and host high profile comps regularly. Catch the 220 bus to Hammersmith and then the Hammersmith and Circle line to Latimer Road.

Vauxwall http://www.vauxwallclimbing.co.uk/
Not my favourite, but very conveniently located near to the tube. Very abrasive holds, probably because it is a new wall. £10 just to boulder seems a little steep to me as well (see what I did there). Run by the same people who run the wall in Kendal, which is one of the best in the country.

The Castle https://www.castle-climbing.co.uk/
A justifiably popular wall, literally built inside a castle. They have just opened a new section in the basement for leading and top roping, and the bouldering is very good too. £12 a go once you are a member. Total nightmare to get to in rush hour and very crowded in the evenings, so more of a weekend venue if you live in the south-west.
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