Category Archives: Events

WSTN – Boxpark and The Aubin Cinema – Shoreditch Adventures

Although I have lived on the outskirts of London and in London all my life I haven’t ventured into east London that much!

Before you even ask, no I am not a snob but neither am I a hipster! I have made my way to Shoreditch for the odd warehouse party and my American friends had a flat in Old Street (which was oh so cool!)

At the moment my bf is keen to visit different parts of London that we haven’t explored before! So thats what we did!

First off I have to say that it is a mission to get to Shoreditch from central London! I honestly don’t know why there isn’t a tube station! We had to get the overground. My bf found this very amusing and kept commenting how it was very like the metro in Paris as the carriages werent divided (I think it was more to do with the french people next to us to be honest) I have spent a large amount of time on the overground as this is how I used to travel to work, but I can see how confusing it would be to tourists.

Our plan was to head to the Aubin Cinema which my bf had read about online, but as we were early we decided to go into the Boxpark. This is Shoreditch’s pop up mall! It’s basically a load of storage containers which have been put on land waiting to be developed (probably into super trendy flats that’s no one but rich kids can afford to live in! Cynical me?)

The actual layout of the mall is pretty cool. Theres a bar at either end with restaurants in the middle on the top floor and shops along the main road below it. I was happy to see a lot of independent shops mingled in with the big named brands. (If you are an apprentice uk fan many of you will recognise it from the episode where they had a hat and homewear shop)

The bars quite predictably were full of hipsters and people on their way out for the evening! I can say this for it, the beer is reasonably priced about £3 a pint which is cheap compared to the £5 pint I just bought in Mayfair! The main seating area is outdoors which, was great on a sunny day but would be miserable if it was raining. There was some covered seating in the middle, which I can imagine gets quite busy. The only issue was that the seating was long benches (think wagamamas) which would have been ok but we had large groups around us intent on getting pisssed! (student life! Sigh)

Underneath are the pop up shops which ranged from fashion to art to sport. Mainly independent but I did spy a Nike and a couple of other familiar brands. They’re pretty cool and unique little shops but they know it so some of the prices will be a bit of a shock. Nether the less there are still bargains to be had.

After perusing the shops we headed over to the Aubin cinema, which is down some random little road. My bf had read some good reviews about it, and even though the film we we’re going to see was on neither of our agendas (Frances Ha! I’ll be writing a review about this soon as it was surprisingly good) I was excited to go. So the cinema is underground and is run by Aubin & Wills. The main difference if this cinema is that it has sofas and comfy armchairs instead of your normal cinema seats. You get blankets and you can get wine from the bar with your popcorn.

I have two main criticisms of this cinema, ok actually 3. Firstly its small, which is ok, but I wouldn’t suggest getting a seat in the front row as your neck will not thank you. Secondly it attracts a strange crowd, who when plied with alcohol can be disruptive (we had a man literally fall into the screen halfway through, which was funny but he continue to laugh for way too long afterwards). Lastly there was only salt popcorn! Which is weird after 4 mouthfuls but you can stop eating it because it’s popcorn!!!

I did like the fact that you had blankets and foot rests, although they could have done with more of these. I also like that you had a cushion, even if my bf didn’t like his. You also had your own little table with a wine bottle holder which was handy. The film didn’t run on time but was about 5 mins late, which I didn’t mind too much and we did have to sit through lots of adverts, which is standard at most cinemas now. (on that we had to watch a full cinema advert for Jack Wills which made me want to hurl)

Overall it was a comfy viewing and more importantly you we’re surrounded by adults! (I cannot stand children anywhere let alone at a cinema!) Its fun but ultimately not that different from a small screen at a large cinema chain. Someone really needs to create one in central London for me to go back again….

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WSTN – Portobello Market – Is it all a load of old junk?

Saturday gave us a break from the sweltering weather. (For once I wasn’t sweating within two seconds of leaving the house) We decided to venture over to Notting Hill to have a look around Portobello Market.

Now I have a confession to make. I am a London girl born and bred but I have never been to Portobello Market before this weekend! I even went to university in London and still didn’t make it out to Notting Hill. And it wasn’t through want of trying… (I once showed up at Notting Hill to meet a friend and she had forgotten, FAIL)

 The central line was down unfortunately so we were dropped off by a taxi at the very end of the street. This meant I didn’t have a chance to get any cash out (This one fact saved me a lot of money).

First thing I noticed was that there was people everywhere! I never realised that the market was such a big tourist attraction. I wouldn’t suggest wearing flip flops like my bf did or going there if you have an aversion to large crowds of people; many of whom are tourist and tend to stop walking unexpectedly. (I nearly walked into quite a few of these! Which would have been disastrous as I was carrying a hot cup of tea!)

There was a lot of things going on alongside the stalls. Street performers, some of which were pretty amusing, such as headless Victorians and mens vocal choirs were at regular intervals. I really liked that the stalls were in some sort of an order. It wasn’t like Camden, which is my usual market haunt. These stalls were organised into second hand, flea market, Food etc. it was even clearly sign posted.

It seemed like you could have bought pretty much anything at the market. I was particularly happy to see a lot of artwork and old maps for sale. It was a jumble of everything.

There were a few things that bothered me. Firstly the prices! I know its West London but blimey! I was glad to see that there was some haggling taking place but the face value prices really were designed to rip tourists off. (Also if you don’t like second hand then you’re going to have some trouble)

I also had an issue with the lack of banks/cash machines. I didn’t see a single one the entire length of the street. (This may have been because I was concentrating on not running into tourists)

Finally there was the issue with the ‘normal’ shops. This is what really annoys me about market areas these days. When I used to go to Camden market it was all stalls and independent stores, now its named brands. I saw Jack Wills, I saw All Saints, I even think I spied a Dorothy Perkins! I don’t get it! Why would you come to a market to go to a store that you could go to on a normal high street?! Now I know that there isn’t a market there all the time but do these store really need to be there? Do they really have a place? Or are they there just to rip off tourists brought to the place by the market………?

(phew I’ll stop ranting now)

Overall it was good fun but you might want to take a couple of hundred quid with you as bargains are few and far in between, plus I couldn’t find a case machine. The atmosphere is amazing and my tip would to head to the food end if you don’t like large crowds as it was a bit quieter and had an interesting mix of flavours from around the world.

As an aside to this they really should sign post where bits from ‘Notting Hill’ was filmed as we got a bit confused over which book store was used!

 

 

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WSTN – Wimbledon

I was one of the lucky few who scored last minute tickets to Wimbledon! (unfortunately not the Sunday but the Saturday)

The main games of the Saturday were the ladies singles final and the mens doubles finals. There was also the ladies doubles finals but we left before that. The omens were good! we scored last minute tickets, the weather looked great and everyone was buzzing about Murray being in the final (he of course went on to win! Hurrah!).

Now like the F1 racing from last week it wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable if it had been raining!!! A lot of Wimbledon is outdoors especially Murray Mount/Henman Hill. Many of the courts don’t have covers too! So we were lucky to have centre court tickets. I would strongly suggest aiming for centre court or court number 1 tickets if you are booking in advance and have a choice.

We got to the grounds early wanting to soak up the atmosphere and get our bearings. This mainly involved wandering around finding the champagne and pimms bar, and then stopping there for a while. I must say the (reasonably priced) Strawberries and cream were lovely however my mum makes better pimms! (and this wasn’t so reasonably priced! Nearly £30!!!!) The bar was right by centre court and was one of the few places that accepted card. That’s right we may be in 2013 but at Wimbledon the food court only takes cash!!!! the food by the way is pretty varied and rather nice. (not just your standing burgers and chips which is sold at every sporting event – however you can still get a burger if needs be)

The main thing I liked about Wimbledon was that it was civilised! There was no pushing or shoving and no (very) drunk people. (although the couple next to me were knocking back the gin and tonics!) Centre court itself is not small by any means but is not sooo large that the tennis players look like match sticks and the ball is a tiny yellow speck.

We were very lucky with our seats. They were far back but they were on the shady side of the court! Temperatures reached over 28 degrees on Saturday and opposite us on the other side of the court there were a lot of fainters. The paramedics had to be called out a few times for people who had fainted in the heat. A lot of people in those seats were glad that the women’s final was so short.

I must  point out that I haven’t talked about the actual tennis much. The women’s final was…. erm….. disappointing. Bartoli destroyed Lisicki in straight sets. It was rather uncomfortable to watch a tennis player go to pieces so comprehensively! The men’s doubles final was entertaining but it was hard to get behind the Americans who were the number one seed. (I’ve nicknamed them the bryanators! as they twins with the surname Bryan, appear to be unbeatable and share the personality of a robot. A single robot designed to do a tedious task)

Overall it was a good day! the atmosphere was amazing the tennis was average but I think that was down to the nerves of the players not Wimbledon.

I am already looking to see if I can get men’s final tickets next year! I don’t even care if Murrays not in it! I might even try for the women’s final, I just hope there are more interesting and deserving players in it next year!

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‘Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity.’
Billie Jean King

My blog on Wimbledon will be uploaded this evening! I was lucky enough to get tickets to Saturday’s Ladies Final.

‘Tennis is a pe…

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WSTN – Formula 1 – Silverstone

So on Sunday I ventured into the world of formula 1!

Nope I wasn’t driving, (which is unfortunate as you should see how I drive around roundabouts!), I was watching from the banks of Silverstone!

I must say before I properly begin I am not a motor racing virgin. I’ve actually been to a few stock car and banger races. I also don’t detest the sport as a whole. Its normally assumed that women hate sport and especially motor racing (football I do hate, so that’s pretty stereotypical of me). I actually rather like it (and no its not just because Jenson Button is dreamy). When it comes to watching it on telly, I like the rally cars, although I could by no means be considered a ‘proper fan’.

Formula 1 is a different matter entirely. I grew up in an age when Micheal Schumacher pretty much won every race, and there was no one racing whose names I could pronounce. So I didn’t give it much attention until the arrival of Button and Hamilton. (Even then I’ll watch the first few laps and Google the winner later)

Any way! the day itself was very last minute (we decided at 9:30 Sunday morning to go). We raced up (nice pun if do say so myself) to the track just in time to see the red arrows and grab a couple of pints (fairly reasonably priced if your used to London prices).

First thing you notice is the NOISE. Its not just loud its LOUD. But remarkably after 4 laps you adjust. We luckily wandered around the track quite a bit. I would suggest this as toilets are few and far between. Also you couldn’t tell what was going on from one spot. I did a lot of counting cars. Trying to find out where Hamilton was, only to realise after 10 mins I’d been looking at his team mates car!!! Every so often its good to find a big screen, especially when the safety car is out, as you cant hear the tannoy and you want to know who has crashed!

It is very exciting! and when your up by the stands the atmosphere is electric! I don’t know whether it was the lovely weather, the 2 pints I’d had or the fact we had a British racing driving fighting up the grid (not sure that’s the correct turn of phrase), but I was cheering and comparing lap times with the best of them! I even cheered when Vettel had to retire from the rest! (I cheered so loudly the man next to us had to leave, think the phrase ‘thank f**k he’s out’ may have had something to do with it)

The main downsides were getting to the event. We were very lucky, we got a train and then a lift. If you had to drive up you would have had to fork out a lot of money to park without getting a ticket. The parking wardens are very on it! even where its not clear whether you can park or not. I must have seen 50 tickets.

Also if you didn’t score a bargain like us the ticket prices are EXTORTIONATE!

Finally I don’t think I would have enjoyed it so much in the rain. (sporting events in the rain are only enjoyed by the extreme enthusiasts, the very rich in boxes and the very drunk, who would have a good time anywhere!)

Overall very enjoyable if you are lucky with the weather! I would go again, but I may try and score a ticket in a covered area, just in case the British summer goes all… well… British!

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