Tag Archives: London

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 – Westfield Stratford – Shopping on an enormous scale!

Wow so last week went soooooo quickly! I didn’t get a chance to sit down and write.

I haven’t been lazy! I have however been struggling with some ideas… (Not for lack of trying, I think I’m just a bit tired!)

On Saturday night my boyfriends car was broken into and various things were stolen. So we got very little sleep that night.

Sunday I decided to head to Westfield Stratford. This was because I needed to do some errands and also because my other half wanted to do some work… (I can be quite distracting….apparently) I have been to this Westfield before and I do prefer it. Westfield Shepherds Bush actually gives me a migraine when I go inside. Also it goes round in a little circle and you have to get the weirdest train there. Stratford on the other hand is a curved T structure. which. really should irk me more. Even the vasts amounts of people don’t bother me as much.

Shopping wise there is everything  you can imagine (apart from a Ted Baker, unless I am very much mistaken). You do have to be prepared to queue for everything, paying, changing room, cinema, restaurants…. It can be very tiring. Especially on a day where there is an event being hosted at the Olympic Park. On Sunday the legacy games were in full swing and I had to literally fight to get into Toni & Guy! (getting your hair cut next to a paralympian was an experience, especially when you couldn’t remember their name or what sport they took part in but knew their face)

My favorite thing about Westfield Stratford has to be its cinema (followed closely by the frozen yoghurt stand! mmmmmmmmmmm). Its a Vue with extreme screens, where they have cranked up the sound so you can actually hear the film and the screen is the size of 4 double-decker buses (which means I don’t have to put my glasses on! Yippee!) Its expensive but oh so worth it! I was due to see The Worlds End on Sunday but the boyfriend showed up and we went book shopping instead!

I must state at this point that not many people venture along the whole of the shopping center. I find this really strange as you go there to browse and wander around the shops, but the furthest end away from the station is practically deserted. If you don’t like being constantly crushed by other shoppers I would suggest having a wander down this end. There are some pretty good shops, Nine West, Gant, John Lewis etc and some slightly less well known restaurants. (I really must try Mezze when I am next in Stratford) This end also houses my favorite book store of all time! Foyles!

If you love books and have been to Foyles on Tottenham Court Road then I demand you stop reading this immediately and go there right now! I’m serious! Its amazing, albeit a little confusing if you don’t know the layout, but it has one of everything! I have never gone in there and not managed to get the book I wanted! It also has some beautiful first editions for you to peek through glass at! The Foyles in Westfield is not so huge, but still carries with it the charm of the larger store. I particularly like their little essay books, which have been make into thin books with interesting covers. Authors in this series range from  Charles Darwin to Seneca to Nietzsche. My boyfriend had to drag me away from a book on Art Deco which at £50 would have put a dent in my already tight budget for this month.

Unlike Shepherds Bush, there is also some out doors space. Called ‘The Street’ it is more your traditional high street atmosphere, which on quiet days it is rather nice to sit along and have your lunch. On event days its very difficult to navigate as they tend to funnel the crowds down this narrow strip.

I am obviously a big fan of Statford Westfield and as someone who normally prefers West London this is a bit of a departure for me. My main reasoning for this is the fact the center is lay out is better. In Shepherds Bush it feels like the shopping center has been squeezed into the available space and therefore feels cramped. Also there are more transport links running too and from it. if your coming from the west it is a bit of a trek but at least you have multiple ways to get there.

Finally Stratford has bowling… Which makes it infinitely better… even if it does cost £20 a game!

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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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Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. Vol

I Love London

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