Saturday, 7 October 2017

Schweppes Laboratory Experience

Schweppes’ Alchemy Bar
21 Slingsby place

The invitation to the Laboratory Experience said :  
"Schweppes Alchemy Bar invites you to explore the curious world of the original alchemist, Jacob Schweppe.

Coming to Covent Garden 2nd - 8th October to celebrate London Cocktail Week, the Alchemy Bar hides many secrets and is offering you the chance to delve into the wondrous science of cocktail making.

Dive into over 200 years of bubble-making expertise and book your place in the Schweppes Laboratory Experience. You’ll create your very own sparkling concoction and learn the secrets of flavoured bubbles from London’s revered experiential mixologists, Smith & Sinclair. From colour-changing gin & tonics to inhalable gin-based clouds, the Schweppes Laboratory Experience will take you back in time as well as giving you a glimpse into the future; that’s if you can find Jacob’s secret study of course. Schh!"

For £10, I thought this would be a great way to take a break, since I've gone back to studying for a bit and needed a rest. I thought I'd spend an hour listening to some interesting facts, maybe get to try some concoctions of my own and maybe meet a few new folks. To be honest I wasn't expecting much.

But when I got here, I realised that an entire full fledged bar had been set up at this spot. Once we registered, at the appointed time we were taken into a classroom with 5 tables where we could work in sets of two.

It was great fun, we donned leather aprons, inhaled alcoholic clouds, mixed some cocktails, bantered a bit, made some boba style bubbles (woohoo)and drank the coctails we had made.

I was quite happy with this itself, but then we were led to a secret bar - 1783, where we got to taste a couple of the new flavours that Schweppes is coming out with. I can't wait for the cucumber one to hit the market, it is amazing!

We also had a choice of cocktails mixed for us and got a chance to hang out and chat with other people in our group. I'm still curious about the group who popped in on their lunch break, did they get any work done after returning to office?


Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Camden Watch Company and The Stables Market , London

 The Camden Watch Company
The Camden Watch Company,
88B Stables Market
Chalk Farm Road
Camden Town
London NW1 8AH
Phone number 020 7485 7963
Open everyday 11am-6pm

I was wandering around Camden Market last weekend, I was there for the Cheese festival and "discovered" the Stables Market. Despite visiting Camden multiple times and wandering around the area, I never even realised that this beautiful historic section existed behind the rest of the market.

This is such a beautiful historic market with intricately designed gateways and interesting bric-a-brac on offer. I've never ventured this far in Camden and so I was quite surprised and how Alladins Cave like this section of Camden is compared to all the cut price London souvenirs and generic tshirt stores on the outside.

The Stables Markets date back to 1854 and has been loving restored. It's worth walking through, even if you don't buy a thing.

One of the wonderful shops that I discovered here was The Camden Watch Company, and I loved what I saw. Limited edition watches. About 20-30 different types in glass cases. Beautifully displayed with descriptions on the inspiration for each of them - gave it an almost museum like feel.

I learned from their website that The Camden Watch Company is an independent British watch brand, founded by two Camden dwelling watch lovers, Anneke Short (a British watch designer trained in Switzerland) and Jerome Robert (a Swiss native, born and raised in the heart of the watch valley of Neuchatel, before moving to Camden Town in 2010). Together, they founded a thriving watch design studio, AMS Design Studio, before embarking on their next step – creating their own brand. The aim was simple; to create a brand that not only reflected the vibrant and dynamic Camden that we see today, but that also encompassed the rich heritage of the area. And so The Camden Watch Company was born.

In June 2014, The Camden Watch Company flagship store opened its doors to the public to the very first time in the Victorian building locally known as the Horse Hospital.

Camden Market was originally developed in 1839 as the Camden Goods Depot, the London terminus for goods traffic from both the railways and the canals. As the area continued to grow, more warehouses for the goods and more stables for the Victorian working horses moving the goods were needed, leading to the construction of the Stables Yard. In 1883, a two storey building was erected in the North-West corner of the Stables Yard. It accommodated 92 horses over 2 floors, including 12 loose boxes that were provided for resting tired or injured horses and led to this building becoming known as the “Horse Hospital”.

The watch designs are all identified by numbers that are significant to Camden. I ended up buying a watch for myself and the husband and both of us are very happy with the way they look. Plus, they come with a one year warranty.

I didn't take any pictures inside the store, but they have a lovely instagram account and you can see pictures of their shop and products on their website.

I struggle to find quality gifts made in the UK/London to take back home. The Camden Watch Company fits the bill perfectly and I'm sure I will return multiple times. They have an online store too if that works better for you.

Unit 12 Clipper Park Industrial Estate
Thurrock Park Way
Tilbury RM18 7HG
Phone number 034 4879 4417

I had just done a massive spring cleaning and had a lot of bulky clothes, books, shoes, CD's and DVD's to give away.
About 12 bags full - roughly 6 large suitcases of stuff. They were too much for me to carry to my local charity shop - Trinity Hospice (where I normally give our gently used items).

I contacted iCollectClothes online, I had save their address from an advertisement I'd seen a couple of months ago.

They work with multiple charities: Heart UK, Breast Cancer Prevention Project, Mercy Ships, Colostomy Association, Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary and Troop Aid.You can choose which one of these you would like your donation to benefit. For every tonne of clothes collected, iCollectClothes donates £200 to that charity.

They gave me multiple date options for the pick up (within 24 hours) and said that if I wasn't home, I could leave the clothes out and they would be collected from there.

Peter came to pick up the clothes as scheduled, he was very courteous and polite. The whole experience was very convenient for me and it was a pleasure to deal so professionally with iCollectClothes.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Dino Spotting at Jurassic Kingdom in Osterley Park

Jurassic Kingdom has arrived in London!

A temporary exhibition (Pop-Up) of animatronic dinosaurs at Osterley Park, is what is on offer from the 1st to 17th of April in London, before it goes on tour across the country.

Thanks to Joanne at Love Pop-Ups London, I got 2 tickets to visit this show. When I took a look at their website, it seemed mostly geared towards kids and I was wondering if the trip would make sense for 2 adults. Having being there, I have to say a resounding "Yes!"

While this is Easter Break and the park was filled with kids, the path is very well laid out over a much larger space and was more relaxed than our visits to the Magic Lantern Festival in Chiswick or the Christmas lights at Kew which conceptually had a similar set up. However at Jurassic Kingdom we were able to amble at our own pace.

There was plenty of technical information about each dinosaur. So what you take away from each exhibit is up to you. The sound and movement would appeal to younger kids, but the descriptive details would be of more interest to adults and kids with passion for dinosaurs. We met an 8 year old kid who was rattling off facts that weren't printed out there. She definitely knew her stuff.

While the main exhibits are supposed to be hands off, (there were a few rule breakers), there are smaller size dinosaurs that the younger ones can sit on and push around the park for a bit. There was also an educational video playing under a tent around the half way mark.

There's even an excavation pit where you can let them get their hands dirty in the sand while uncovering dino fossils.

There are plenty of food and drink options on site. Osterley Park has its own Stables Cafe and the Jurassic Kingdom had food options at the start and midway through the circuit. We tried the hot dogs and milk shake at the half way point, for about three Pounds each. 

There are washrooms at each of these points too.

While you are here, do take a look at all the other wonders in the area. There is also a seperate Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt trail at the moment.

Osterley Park is a Georgian country estate managed by the National Trust. The House itself is worth a visit (we didn't have the time on this occasion). The grounds are extensive and throw up surprises like this nesting swan. We also spent time marveling at the antics of the fluffy white calves and the gorgeous horses.

We were lucky to be able to visit the Farm shop which sells produce from the Park. The vegetables were so reasonable and absolutely fresh and yummilicious when I cooked them at home. So much tastier than supermarket veg. We even picked up some fresh free range eggs and all at amazing prices.

If you are taking the tube, its a bit of a walk to the location (1 mile from Osterley Park station), but you can take a break at the lovely second hand Bookshop after the bridge.

Definitely wear comfortable shoes as it is a walk to the park and once you get on the trail, the ground is uneven and definitely not conducive to push chairs.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Culinary Genius at ITV London Studios

Headed to ITV London Studios to watch a taping of a new show by Gordon Ramsay - "Culinary Genius"

When we applied, we weren't told how long it would go on, but they did recommend that audience : "bring in a packed lunch to get into the spirit of things"

1st point to note : entry to this building is not on the river bank, but at the opposite end of the building (parallel road)

Quick security and bag check at the gate and we were let in. Security again recommended that we pick up a bagged lunch before heading in. Good advice as there's nothing you can pick up inside, even if you are watching a cooking show.

It was quite interesting to watch how a cooking competition actually gets filmed. I'd love to have that army of assistants following me about in my kitchen and cleaning up after me, while I cook. Lol.

Bottled water was provided and loos were adequate.

As mentioned before, there is no place to pick up any food on the inside.

Also no photography inside the building. They are quite strict about cell phone usage too. So if you cant turn your phone to airplane mode, don't bother visiting.

They took a 45 min lunch break around 1:15, before shooting a second episode, but a lot of the audience kept leaving in between and most of them left during lunch.

Didn't get to see Gordon Ramsay, but an interesting experience for sure. Would love to see the show when it comes out, to truly appreciate an editors job.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Chambers of Flavour V2 - The Gingerline Experience

So excited to finally get a chance to do this.

I'd heard about the Gingerline experience before, but their tickets are so darn hard to lay hands on. So, when Alex gave a couple of yelpers the opportunity to try them out, I threw as many hats in the ring as I could and was chosen for a 6pm slot on Tuesday. So much excitement to get into Version 2 of the Chambers of Flavour.

When they send you your ticket, they ask you if you have any food allergies / intolerance. A friend with me had a shellfish allergy and she was well catered for during the experience.

Now everything is kept super secret until the very end, including the location, until 4pm on the evening of. I received my text message at 4:30 and I just about managed to reach in time for my 6pm time slot. Thanks to the wonderful chaos of Oxford Street Station during evening rush hour in the midst of Christmas Shopping mania, making it a herculean effort to change lines.

You have to reach on time, given their format, if you reach late, they won't be able to accommodate you in the next lot. This is not the WB studio and they only take a maximum of 16 people in at a time. So plan to be around the Liverpool Street / Islington area by 5pm, if you have an early slot.

We were served a welcome alcoholic drink on arrival that was appreciated after the biting cold outside. A lovely machinist explained the concept to me and ran through a few rules (no photographs inside etc)

The pre-experience space includes:
- The bar which opens at 5pm.
- A complimentary coat check where you can leave all bags and purses (recommended to leave your hands free during the experience)
- Washrooms (best to use them here. There is one more opportunity mid way through the experience, but you will miss out a bit on the banter)
- Seating space with tables.

The bar had a nice variety of cocktails. Some could be consumed in the waiting area and there were 4 options that could be bottled for takeaway during the experience. (No other opportunity to buy drinks inside) They pack it in cooling bags and you can even choose a bottle of wine instead of cocktails. These drinks have to be paid for and are not covered in the ticket price. Prices are around 8-9 Pounds a glass. Mocktails too are available.

The experience flows through a story, each phase takes you into a new space where you meet new characters, enjoy a nibble or a drink. Each room was equipped with water bottles, glasses and napkins.

The performers were lovely, having so much fun. There's a lot of audience involvement at every stage. The food was much better than I expected (supper theater doesn't always have the best food, but ginger line has designed the experience around the food and that makes all the difference)

1. Leave everything at the coat check and leave your hands free.
2. Buy drinks at the bar, before you handover everything to the coat check.
3. Use washrooms at the start to maximise your experience inside.
4. Arrive early if you can.
5. Flat shoes and comfortable trousers/jeans make it easier to move around.
6. When you finally arrive, you may not be certain that you have found the right door and there's no one outside that you can check with. Just read the instructions carefully and you will know when you are at the right place. As you walk closer to the doors, you will hear some muted chatter.

Have fun.

I did love the experience and if I'm lucky enough to get tickets for the next one, I'd definitely return.

Friday, 26 August 2016

St Paul’s Church Knightsbridge

St Paul’s Church Knightsbridge
32a Wilton Place
London SW1X 8SH

Phone number 020 7201 9999

A beautiful Victorian neo-Gothic church that is an ocean of tranquility in the midst of frantic Bloomsbury & Kensington.

There are some amazing mosaics with scenes from the bible on the walls. I was really surprised to see panels devoted to The Betrayal by Judas, Jesus in Simeon's arms & an apprehensive Mary at the Annunciation. Not the usual iconography that you see in a church.

The altar and stained glass are also beautiful & given its size it's awe inspiring, but not intimidating.

This church has been serving the people of Knightsbridge since the 1840's. It was the first church in London to champion the ideals of the "Oxford Movement", the so called Tractarians who sought to restore a sense of Catholic order & spirituality to the Established Church & to enrich its worship by the recovery of ancient traditions.

It was consecrated in 1843 & the tiled panels were created in the 1870's by Daniel Bell. The stations of the Cross were painted in the 1920's by Gerald Moira.

If you would like a bit more background about this church, David is an expert & I've linked to his post here.

Read David J.'s review of St Paul's Church Knightsbridge on Yelp