#365DaysofLondonBaby-Day 15 – Georgian Dining Academy

After a small break in the 365 days, I would like to continue this journey of blogging, but more importantly London and its adventure with a very special event – a Georgian Dining Academy on this December 10th . During a recent event with the fantastic guides of Footprints of London, I met the lovely Miss B – she is a very knowledgeable Tour Guide (qualified as a City guide in 2012), runs a wonderful blog, is an expert of Architecture (stay tuned for a potential guest blog from her), history, ceremonies in the city and about any- and everything. She bustles with energy and finds many ways to share all of this passion and knowledge of London. It was a great honour and joy to meet her.

FullSizeRenderOne of the exciting things she organises is a unique Dining Experience, called “Georgian Dining Academy”. The purpose of the Academy is to create a Georgian, performance style, dining experience in the heart of the City. With the encouragement of Miss Kitty Pridden (also a City Guide of 2012) this novel idea was put into action in 2014. It has proved a successful event which takes place quarterly. In true hipster style, I wrongly classified it as a “Pop-Up” dining event but want to correct that it is an established series of events and its not popping up and leaving but here to stay :). But I let Miss B explain in her own words. Continue reading

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 14 – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Happy Diwali!

Did you know that London has its own purpose- built Hindu Temple? And that it used to be the largest Hindu Temple outside of India? Well, off to Neasden then!  BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (or Neasden Temple to keep it simple) is a Hindu temple built in the 1990s built with Bulgarian Limestone and Italian Marble, hand-carved in India and assembled in London (without any iron or steel!) in a time of only 2 years.

Image taken from BAPS website

It looks absolutely stunning from the outside and next to a full spiritual and cultural centre (A “Haveli” – a wooden structure with delicate carvings). The Mandir also houses a very interesting Exhibition, called “Understanding Hinduism”, a well stocked Indian spiritual shop and an Indian Restaurant across the street.

Visitors of all (or no) faiths are welcome, entrance is free and you can walk around all the temple, admiring the carvings, the large hall, the holy statures and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. The entrance to the exhibition costs £2 but its well spent- it is vast, interactive and easy to understand and  includes an extensive booklet for further home study. Be prepared though for your arrival – all this architectural delight is set in a Neasden Industrial estate (on the opposite site of the North Circular Road of IKEA….) so it makes for an interesting contrast (see some pictures from my visit below…) . Access via public transport is not very good, you could use the Jubilee line to Neasden and walk for a while, or you could bike along the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal (about 30 min from Paddington). Just check the travel planner, the adress of the Mandir is 105-119 Brentfield Rd, London NW10 8LD

Neasden Temple Neasden Temple

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 13 – Poppies at the Tower (TBT)

Poppies at the TowerIt’s TBT (Throw-Back- Thursday) on London Baby!  If you are in London, you have undoubtedly met the Fundraisers of the British Legion selling poppies at Tube Stations and other places to raise money for the Poppy Appeal to support the Armed Forces Community and specifically the Veterans of Past and Current Conflicts.

Poppies at the tower of londonLast year, Europe remembered the outbreak of the First World War and the most impressive and touching tribute was installed at the Tower of London. Starting in July 2014 until November, 888,246 handmade Ceramic Poppies were planted by volunteers in the moat of the Tower. Each one standing for a British / Commonwealth Serviceman who lost their lives in World War I. The installation was by artist Paul Cummins and its official title was “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”.

Pictures hardly describe the scale of this artwork and for almost 3 weeks, it was super busy, as people flocked to see the poppies. I have been lucky to cycle by the site weekly during the installation and seeing it grow slowly was very impressive.

After the removal, all poppies were sold to raise further funds for the poppy appeal. Unfortunatly, all that remains are the memories, but  remember to get your poppies soon if feel like supporting the appeal.

Poppies at the tower

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 12- Sir John Soane’s Museum

Image by Sir John Soan's Museum

Image by Sir John Soan’s Museum

One of the things I love about London and the English is their embracing of eccentricity. Looking at past and present, a certain quirkiness almost seems to be a requirement for securing a place in the history books 🙂

Sir John Soane, a neoclassical architect (e.g. Bank of England) is no exception. A well-travelled man, he left his legacy to London in form of his house, where he housed his models, his art and other collections, things he acquired on his travels, and much more. In fact, Oxford Dictionary of Architecture calls the house and its interiors “one of the most complex, intricate, and ingenious series of interiors ever conceived”. 

Image by Sir John Soan's Museum

Image by Sir John Soan’s Museum

The good news is – you can visit Sir John Soane’s museum – and as most London Museums, entry is absolutely for free. Since Soan’s death in 1837 (almost 180 years ago), the house is almost untouched, which is not only remarkable as it offers a time capsule, but also remarkable that somebody lived there….You even can see a mummy sarcophagus which has survived many legal battles with the British Museum who also wants to have it, so it is top notch pieces to see and will brush up your history from Egyptians, Greeks, Romans…Sir John has done all the travel and research for you 🙂 Go and visit, you won’t regret it!

The museum is situated on Lincoln’s Inn Fields near Holborn and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-17.00. There might be a queue outside as there is a maximum number of people in the building at one time, but it usually moves quite quickly. All other information can be found here.

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 11 – Christmas Shopping on Carnaby Street

Carnaby StreetChristmas is coming in big steps and at least for London’s high street, the season is in full swing. Oxford street has officially done its major “Switching on the Lights Ceremony” on Sunday – with no less than Kylie Minogue pushing the button. Others will follow with their own ceremonies during November, but my favourite Christmas lighting – and “Christmas Shopping Event” (while I generally avoid those) last year took place in Carnaby Street (see picture above).

As you can see above, there is a bit of a funky twist in this shopping area just around the corner of the big Oxford and Regent’s streets. Carnaby Street consists of the famous street itself, as well as the Kingley Court Shopping Centre and the streets surrounding. In total more than 100 shops, from famous lifestyle brands (Puma, DocMartin etc.) to small and hip shops. Not your Shoreditch “too cool for school” hipstery, but just a bit edgier than the main shopping streets. Next to that a few bars / restaurants in and around Kingley Court make it a great destination for an afternoon / evening of shopping.

Bargain Hunters mark your agenda – Carnaby Street will switch on their lights in a great event with “DJs, live music, complimentary food & drinks, a pop-up bar and loads of on-street and in-store activities” – and 20% off in most stores. Last year, it was great fun and the 20% were quite genuine discounts (so few of the usual exclusions)! The event is on Thursday 12th November from 5-9pm. To get the discount and a free drink, you need to register to get a free ticket.

3,000 Visitors! Thank you!

Dear all,  a big thank you for reading and following That’s London Baby! It’s a small blog but I hope to grow it over time to share the joys of our great city.
Today,  there was the 3,000th visitor  on this page and I am so excited! My country challenge of having a visitor from each country in the world is also still ongoing,  but on a good way with 75 countries 🙂
Thanks to all of you for visiting,  reading and sharing!

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 10 – Making Plans for Bonfire Night

Good Monday Morning! If you start the working week dreaming about the weekend, its a good moment to make plans for the upcoming Bonfire Night on Saturday (7th November). The good news is that there are dozens of Bonfire Celebrations all over London, the bad news is that most of them have now (paid or unpaid) ticketing so planning is essential.

Image taken from TTIschool.com

Among the many, I would like to highlight two of the largest events – Blackheath Fireworks (organised by Lewisham Council) and Alexandra Palace Fireworks Display.

Blackheath is one of the few major free fireworks. There is a fun fair from Noon and food starting from Noon 5pm with the Fireworks taking place at 8pm. All information can be found here.

Alexandra Fireworks Festival is a large scale event, also offering a German Beer Festival and the Ice Skating Rink. The Fireworks (starting at 8pm)  are said to be some of the best in London because of the great view. All of the events are ticketed separately though, with the fireworks alone setting you back £9 for adults and £6.50 for children. All info on the Festival and tickets can be found here.

For all other fireworks, Londonist has compiled this very helpful overview here.

#365DaysofLondonBaby -Day 9- Highgate Cemetery

wpid-wp-1445892812241.jpgHalloween is over, but you can still visit the dead! As the days become more eerie, visiting a cemetery will be a special treat. Highgate Cemetery is one of the “Magificent Seven” Cemeteries that were built in Victorian London times to manage the increase of Death that came along with the city’s explosion of inhabitants. Situated on either side of the steep Swain’s Lane into Highgate (even if you are not into cemeteries, its a great place to train your cycling skills!), there are about 53.000 graves “home” to 170.000 people.  Continue reading

#365DaysofLondonBaby – Day 8 – Ai WeiWei Exhibition

Fall is coming with big steps and often that means your weekend explorations have to slowly shift to inside activities. No problem, as there are many museums, exhibitions and galleries to explore.

wpid-wp-1445889204408.jpgThis fall’s “must-see” exhibition is definitely Ai WeiWei’s first large UK show in the Royal Academy. It has received rave reviews Continue reading