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

The Tailors Shop, London

The Tailors Shop,
30 Craven Terrace
London W2 3EL
Phone number 07961 172171

We have only used their cleaning & ironing facilities for the husbands shirts & trousers and double bed-sheets. We have been very happy with the service, they manage to get out most of our long haired white cats fur out of the fabric, which he does appreciate. Especially when it comes to his dark coloured trousers.

They have an offer of 5 shirts for 6£, but they now give us the price of 1.2£ a shirt no matter whether we give them in multiples of 5 or not. One of the benefits of being a regular.

Service is quick and they pack clothes well on hangers and in plastic. Thy recycle both, so we just return them with the next bag of clothes.

They have tailoring, alteration and darning facilities on the premises, but we haven't used them so far.

Rating : 4 / 5

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Attending a Debate at the House of Lords

A friend of mine (a scholar) was one of the panel at a debate due to take place at the House of Lords. She invited me to come watch & I obviously jumped at the chance to view how things work behind the scenes. I had to register and "buy" a free pass for the visit, just so I was given a ticket of sorts.

The entry for debates in the House of Lords, is at the far end (almost at the park next door). So its at least a 5-10 minute walk from the station depending on how you catch the traffic signals.

Do budget at least 10 minutes for a security scanning. The staff are all very polite and helpful, but taking off jackets and belts and putting them on again takes time and there is normally a rush of people before a scheduled debate.

The room we were in was beautiful and cosy. Good acoustics, so as long as the speakers enunciated clearly at slightly louder than conversation volume, it was easy to follow the proceedings.

Most of the speakers and the audience seemed to be in agreement in general, it was the particulars that needed working out. But the debate was conducted so politely and articulately. I wish some other governments could take a cue from this style of functioning and debating.

This was an amazing experience and I feel privileged to have been able to witness it.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Adult Lates at Kidzania

I was one of the lucky few who received a complimentary ticket for one of the Adult lates at Kidzania.(Normally costs around 30pounds a person)

My name was on the list, so I gained entry at the mezzanine floor quite quickly. But by the time I reached the top of the escalators, there was a humongous crowd at the checkin counter and it was not until I reached almost the front of the line, that I saw a sign saying that this line was only if you wanted to deposit your bags and coats (1pound fee per item) - waste of time / unclear signage

A glass of bubbly was next and that was a good thing to calm my irritation down. There were enough staff on the inside to keep clearing the empties.

As I passed through a metal detector, I was handed a map and 40 kidzos (currency) The map did not have too much info on it and there was no explanation as such as to how things would operate. It wasn't until after 2 hours or so, when I realised that I could also earn kidzos, not just spend them.

 There were lots of fun activities to do and once I met my friends inside, it was even more fun. Every individual shop/activity had a queue, so like Disneyland a lot of time is spent just waiting in line.

I tried the
Face painting - costs 15 kidzos - awesome!
Tattoo - costs 15 kidzos - its just a sticker - not worth the cost, unless you have money to burn in the end.
Police Station - earn 8 kidzos - fun
Reporters - earn 8 kidzos - good fun - you even get a printed news sheet with your story (and name if you like) on it.
Recycling paper - earn 8 kidzos - very good
Cadbury's chocolate - costs 12 / 15 kidzos - you just get to fill the tempered chocolate in a mold - not worth the queuing time for me - you get a voucher for 2 tiny bits of chocolate to be collected at exit.
Tour bus - costs 1 kidzo for a ride - earn 8 kidzos if you become the official tour guide and do a good job.
Magic show - free to watch in a lovely theatre - you get to perform if you head to the auditions next door.

The airplane / hospital / dentist / radio show / al jazeera tv show / Kwality Ice cream / firemen booths were all terribly overcrowded. so they seemed like the most fun.

4-5 hours aren't enough to explore even half the place.

I don't see how kids would be able to manage on their own on the inside. They do need an adult with them I would think, unless they are teenagers or maybe tweens. There are a few eating options inside - GBK, The Diner, a juice and coffee bar etc, but they all need genuine cash.

I did eat a burger at GBK, as I wasn't sure if I would get anything at Shake Shack or the main GBK after 10:30pm. But if I had the time, I would have eaten outside in one of the mall eateries.

If you have more than 70 kidzos left at the end, you can open a bank account with kidzania bank (or so I was told), but I just had 30 left and I was told to take it back and use it on another visit or give it to a child who was visiting.

Its fun to visit if you want to feel like a kid again. But I wish there was at least a 5-10 minute video at entry to outline the concept of how the place works. They have instruction videos playing at a lot of the shops - the police station, the fire station and others. Should not be too hard to include a video at the start

City Cruises

Absolutely loved this cruise. We took it from Tower Bridge to Greenwich and then all the way back to Westminster bridge with a quick stop again at Tower Bridge.

Its a bit expensive as a mode of transport to Greenwich vs the tube, but its an amazing experience and definitely worth trying out at least one way.

There is a bit of recorded commentary and sometimes the crew themselves take a hold of the microphone and reveal interesting details about the buildings you are passing (remember they are not tour guides though, so don't expect lengthy historical or architectural descriptions)

I've done a couple of boat rides across the globe that are just modes of transport, not sold as a cruise, and this one is right at the top of the list. Try and wait for a boat that has a top deck if you can, the views and pictures are so much better from here on a good day.

The lower section was also amazingly comfortable. I have never seen such comfortable table seating on a transport boat.

There's a tiny cafe counter which sells pre-packaged food and some hot drinks.

Clean toilets too.

We quite enjoyed taking a break from some hectic sightseeing while just relaxing on the boat for the afternoon.

Big Bus Tours

In bigger cities like London and Paris, we tend to use Big Bus as a full day program rather than a Hop on Hop Off.

Since my brother is visiting, we are doing touristy stuff with him and since I loved my Big Bus London experience a couple of years ago, I opted for Big Bus again.

Their website is pretty self explanatory and easy to navigate and buy tickets online (minor discount available for online booking)

The red line is the one with live commentary and only in English. If you need any other of the languages that Big Bus offers, what you want is the blue line.

The blue line covers all that the red line does and a slightly longer trip around Hyde Park which is very useful if you are staying at a hotel in that area or need to get to Paddington or Victoria stations to catch a train out.

I bought the one day ticket (valid only on that day) rather than the 24 hour one, because we were going to be on the bus by 9 in the morning, so no chance of using it the next day.
The 48 hour ticket is better value for money. Plus you get a night ride around the city. But since we live in London, it didn't make sense for us and my brother had other plans for the next day.

What I really liked when booking tickets was that it didn't restrict you to pre-choosing your date, so you have the option to hold on to your ticket for a slightly sunnier day if you have time flexibility.

Our first guide for the day was Leanne #bigbusleanne who was AMAZING! Such an infectious bundle of energy. she gave us an all singing, dancing, musical experience on the tour. None of the following guides could match up to her energy and enthusiasm levels.

We then stopped for lunch before hopping on to City Cruises (complimentary with big bus) before we completed the circuit.

Big Bus does offer 3 free walking tours. But it won't be possible to attend all 3 of them and complete a circuit. If you take the 48 hour option, you may be able to do 2 of the tours. Then I would recommend the Royal Walk (to take in the changing of the guard) and the evening ghost walk.

You do get a booklet of vouchers, but I don't see myself using any of those any time soon.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Yelp and Paint Jam London present: Newbie Street Art Night Walk

This was a SUPERB event. I have walked around the Shoreditch area a bit, and seen some street art. Occassionally, I have even stopped to take a picture or two of something that really caught my eye.

But Peppe our guide was a gold mine of information. Not only did I learn about a few more artists, I can now recognise their work, even if I don't remember their names *blush*

He showed us why it was important to look up the walls and not just at eye level, to see junked cars converted into art, mushrooms sprouting near drain pipes, pixelated pac man type gifs, modern deathmask 3D art, fossils and dinosaurs. It was truly a whole new world.

The group was a lovely size and very friendly. The weather was chilly, but all of us were having so much fun, that everyone persevered right until the end.

I'm not a big fan of bagels/beigels, so I've never walked into either of those famous shops in Shoreditch. But we stopped to take a break from the cold at the Beigel Shop -  a little sample of those instagram celebrities - rainbow bagels - had me picking up a bunch of them for brekkie.

My brother had just landed in London the previous day and absolutely loved this alternative perspective on the city.

Rating : 5 / 5

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Yelp Mingle: Immersive Cinema with POP Picturehouse - Hairspray

Hard Rock Cafe
150 Old Park Lane
London W1K 1QZ

Fun, fun, fun.

We got to put on some 60's style makeup. Some of the yelpers were dressed for the appropriate time period.

A well stocked bar. Some decent nibbles - loved the chilli cheese fries and the cocktails were potent.

Seating was a tiny bit cramped, but better than most live theatre seating in London.

They had 3 actors who interacted with the audience a bit and performed some of the dances simultaneously as they were being played on screen.

A very different way of watching one of my favourite movies. Quite enjoyable.

Rating : 3 / 5

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Yelp and Not Another Salon: Not Another Hair Event!

This event was so much fun. Loved trying out the wigs and seeing other yelpers in different colours. Never thought a blonde look could go with my skin tone.

In the food and drink - loved the tea and mini bite pairings from Tea Studio & Funzing, the bubble tea from Bubbleology and the White Russians with Pirates Grog Rum.

Chipotle Burritos are best assembled fresh and to taste, the pre-rolled standardised ones weren't as good.

We got to taste just 2 gins and were we too late to try the wine (second lot who entered at 8:30) or did they not show up? Anyway, the Bubble tea made up for it.

Small disadvantages of being in the second lot
- the nail bar had a really long queue and before we got to the front of the line, it was time for her to close up.
- we just couldn't get inside the secret room. It was a small space and the people who had found seats there had gotten quite comfortable
- the floor had gotten quite dirty with all the food on offer - but that could just be my semi dormant OCD cropping up.

Overall, it was a good event. Sophia and her team are awesome - they are so down-to-earth and not at all intimidating - (It was a complete surprise that Ross who fitted me with the wigs is a regular stylist at London, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks!) I quite liked the vibe of the location and the attitude of the stylists. I think I would go back to them for my next colour treatment and maybe let them do something new with my hair.

It was great to meet Beth and Christoph, other known yelpers and some newbies too. Looking forward to a whole lot of events in this year.