Tag Archives: quirky things to do in london

Evans and Peel, Much Ado About Nothing, Oddisee and long term confusion.

12 Mar

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EAT: Evans and Peel Detective Agency has been on my London to-do list since… well, since about 6 years ago when I moved here actually. So, I suggested a speakeasy style bar and restaurant where you have to make up a fake case for a detective before you’re allowed in and my friend Jude didn’t need any further convincing to come.

We arrived and buzzed: by the time we got let in (they open at 5pm – had to call for a reservation, old school) there was another 4 pairs of people waiting for their 5pm appointment. So, after waiting for the guys ahead of us to finish their chat with the detective, we were let in.

So, the story we decided to go for (I say we, Jude had nothing to do with it although he did a good job at playing along and not being embarrassed by me) was that we wanted the Evans and Peel to investigate the suspected Ghost Brothel next door to my flat. I was pleased to see a genuine look of confusion on the woman’s face when I presented this, but she played along well – asking how we knew they were ghosts and/or prostitutes, had we heard any noises coming from next door? Etc. When the play acting was finished (it lasts about 3 minutes) our case was taken and a bookshelf swings open to reveal a dimly lit, prohibition-era bar. In we went.


Jude and I went all out – cocktails, beers, mains, dessert. Mainly because the atmosphere of the place was wicked – fantastic music (instrumental of course and perfectly in keeping with the prohibition style of the bar) and we basically just wanted to hang around for as long as possible! The menus are delivered to our table by a server, in plain brown envelopes (but the fancy kind which you have to loop string around in order to close them) and you’re also kitted out with the likes of a magnifying glass too.

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For mains, we went for burgers. The menu is a little limited – but not bad at all (see above) – and standard London prices. We also had a couple of beers to see us through too – again, limited selection, but a GOOD selection, which is the key thing. The burger was good. The way it’s cooked (on an old fashion grill or something) means you can only have it medium well done. It actually comes out medium which I wasn’t loving, but I ignored as most people like their burgers this way and it was still a tasty burger. Chips were solid too, as were the sauces; nowt ground-breaking (Patty and Bun have nothing to worry about) but you do get bacon and cheese with it, as well as coleslaw. All in all, a good burger.


Where Evans and Peel really shines is the spirits. The cocktails are pricy (£7-£15) but worth splashing out for just once. I went for a fruity one (passion fruit, egg white, rum) and Jude selected a Bourbon from their EXTENSIVE whiskey and bourbon list. They have stuff on there which is £25 a shot (seriously), so make sure you grab the magnifying glass and have a look!

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When I said we went all out, I meant it. I also opted for dessert (as did Jude) and we both went for the ice cream cookie sandwich – blueberry ice cream with jam sandwiched in between two chocolate chip cookies. SO GOOD. I warned Jude not to try and bite the bloody thing because it would go everywhere… which it totally did. Tip: eat one of the cookies first and then you can bite your way through. Super simple, really yummy.

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Basically; I loved Evans and Peel. It’s a KILLER date venue –  a little bit different, off the beaten track and the vibe is perfect for some romancing. It’s also a great place to catch up with friends. What it’s not is a place to ‘go out out’ for pre-drinks. Just sayin’. Seriously – go. It’s a place you’ve got to try while in London; I’m gutted it took me so long to get down there!

SEE: My favourite Shakespeare play is Much Ado About Nothing. I’ve seen it performed countless times, abroad, in London, in Stratford. And the latest production, currently showing at Theatre Royal is a really strong production. I should know… did I mention it’s my favourite Shakespeare play and I’ve seen it countless times? Yup? Cool.

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The setting is Autumn 1919, with the soldiers (Benedict and Claudio) returning from the war. The staging is simple – all the action takes place in a few different sets and, I admit, it got off to a slightly slow start. Benedict was fantastic the whole way through though; the scene where he overhears that Beatrice loves him was fantastically funny and I think the actor carried Beatrice a little bit at times, to be honest.

That’s not to say Beatrice wasn’t good, but the comic timing just wasn’t there at some points. The actor totally nailed the ‘give a shit’ disposition of Beatrice, but the scene where she overhears that Benedict loves her was lukewarm, with all the actors not really going as all-out as the male cast members had done.

For £10 however (which is how much I got my ticket for) it was a fantastic production and I can’t recommend it enough. Go!

LISTEN: I went to see Oddisee at the Islington Assembly Hall last weekend. I’ve seen him before, a few years back at the Jazz Café, but this time he was playing to a significantly bigger crowd, with a live band and a kick-ass new album.

If you haven’t heard of Oddisee, how can I describe him? He’s for people who want Drake to rap about something meaningful and put some thought into his music. BURN. But seriously; Oddisee blends hip hop, soul, funk and thrown in a hint of pop on a track here or there.

His latest album, The Iceberg is fantastic. Stand out tracks include Hold It Back, in which challenges inequality between women and men in the workplace, which refers to the current political climate; “We gon’ push the demons deeper in the closet, It ain’t no secret they just seeping out regardless, We’re keeping logic hostage”. Another of my favourite tracks is You Grew Up, which tells the story of Oddisee’s childhood friend. His (the father’s) friend loses his job, blames ‘immigrants’ like Oddisee’s father for it and their friendship has to end. Forward a good few years and we learn that his childhood friend is another white cop guilty of killing an innocent black man. There’s some ACTUAL shit going on in this album, but it’s thoughtful. It hasn’t been thrown together in anger; Oddisee is interrogating the situation with his lyrics and putting them against a blend of funk, soul, hip hop music, all played by an actual band rather than a Drake 808.

Cannot recommend the album enough. And if you love The Iceberg and Oddisee, check out the rest of his tracks on Spotify. I have a soft spot for ‘Miami’ – an instrumental off his album Travelling Man. For now, I’m going to leave you with a recent track: Like Really.

LOVE: So, I’ve been on a few dates with a few people over the last couple of months. And something wasn’t sitting right with any of them. That was, until the last guy I dated – then boom. It hit me.

The guys I meet online and usually on Tinder (so you can never tell if they’re looking for anything serious, but they’re usually not). Or, they’re on OK Cupid and they’ve listed ‘Long term relationship’, ‘Short term relationship’, ‘New Friends’ and ‘Casual Sex’ in their ‘Looking For section to make sure all bases are covered. Which is fine.

But now, I’m filtering out the guys who include ‘Casual Sex’ and ‘Short term relationships’. Because I’ve realised I want something a little more significant than that. I only realised this when I was sat with a perfectly nice, attractive, intelligent guy on a date, but who I know has just got out a relationship and isn’t looking for anything serious.

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Which is fine. But when I left the date, I realise I just want someone I can rely on to do stuff with. Hence why I’m not removing ‘New Friends’ from my OK Cupid searches – I want someone who will go to gigs with me. While I vent about my day to. Who wants to explore new restaurants in London. And I either need them to do this as friends or as someone I’m in a more long-term relationship with, because that’s the only way you can totally be yourself, right? If you’re dating someone short term JESUS it’s exhausting. The conversation, having to rock up looking great, having to always plan ahead in terms of what you’re doing. Second guessing the way they respond to you or touch you. Take all that crap out of the equation and I want a friend with time for me to explore London or I need to get past all that stressful dating stuff and just be comfortable.

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So, all this dawned on me. And I turned the last perfectly nice, intelligent, attractive guy I went on a date with down when he asked for a second date because ‘we want different things’. At least he knows his thing is sex. Mine? As you can tell from my rambling, I guess I’m still not 100% sure. Ho hum.

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Drafthouse burger, London loo tours, communal music playlists and dating hiatus

2 May

EAT: I’ve decided I have a local (it plays good hip hop and old school tunes and does the cider I like). But, TECHNICALLY, there is a pub far closer to me. Not only that but it has a rather good looking burger menu. So, at long last I visited the Battersea Drafthouse pub.

The pub has an outside seating area which is rather lovely, despite being by a main road and traffic lights (the foliage hides a lot of the cars and buses whizzing past). The inside of the pub isn’t too bad – there’s a ‘bar’ area with casual seating and music and there’s a smaller area to the back of the pub which serves as more of a restaurant/casual dining area.

The staff are nice and recommended us a rather nice cider (off to a good start). The food is also reasonably priced and there’s a good selection too. As well as burgers, you can get foot long pork scratchings (seriously), hot dogs and pub classics.

Onto the good stuff. I went for the veggie option, The Beruit Burger (Giant Chick-Pea & Halloumi Patty s/w Pickled Red Onion & Sun-Dried Tomato Salsa.) and my friend went for the The Smoke (beef burger with Smoked Chipotle Mayo, House-Smoked Cheddar & Hickory-Cured Bacon). We shared Cajun spiced fried (the portion was perfect for two people).

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The Beruit burger patty held together really well and it actually tasted of something, unlike most veggie burgers – the halloumi gives it that extra texture and taste which bean burgers often lack. The red onions were nice but they didn’t that much flavour and the tomato salsa gave the burger some much-needed juiciness, despite the ‘sun-dried’ element not really coming through. The burger bun wasn’t brioche (my usual preference) however it held the bun well and it was nice nonetheless.

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I also got a side helping of the Kim Chi coleslaw (above) with my burger and I warn you, it’s pretty hard core stuff. It has a REAL kick to it, it’s crunchy and it goes with the burger perfectly. I’d really recommend it. But make sure you have a biiiig glass of water to wash it down with!

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The Cajun spiced fries were also really nice. You can order regular fries, a small portion, for an extra pound, but definitely get the Cajun fries to share. They’re not as spicy as the Kim Chi slaw (thank god) but they’re still really good. I’m always really disappointed with fries but with the Cajun kick makes these stand out.

My friend had the Smoke burger and the beef burger was a little overcooked (asked for medium, more like well done) and apparently the beef wasn’t that flavoursome. Basically – not enough ‘Smoke’ in the Smoke burger and the quality of the beef could be a little better.

All in all – nice enough for a pub. Sides were good, burgers weren’t the best in London but they were by no means bad either. If you’re in the area, give them a try.
SEE: After learning all about the Nobel Prize and a seventeenth century war ship last week, I decided to learn a little more about ol’ London Town… by going on a tour of toilets in London.

Yup, there’s a walking tour called the ‘London Loo Tour’ and I managed to grab a last-minute space (for £6 rather than £12). The tour guide was lovely – she’s a Californian who came to London on a student visa and she may well be leaving for the USA at the end of the year, so make sure you book your space quick! The tour guide also comes with a plunger which is a novel way to make sure you can see her!

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The tour was great. Not only is the tour guide lovely but she’s got the tour down to a fine art, making sure everyone is included, the pace is right and that there are frequent, but not too frequent, stops so you feel like you’re learning all the way.

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The tour starts at Waterloo station (outside the toilets, naturally) and winds its way across to Embankment, up through Covent Garden and ends near Temple. You learn about the Jubiloos (near the London Eye) and even get a tour of them – it usually costs 50p, but the London Loo Tour lets you see the fancy lavatories for free. As you walk over the Thames you’ll hear all about how London sewers used to deal with all our lovely number ones and twos in the 1800’s.

The word ‘Loo’ comes from ‘Guardy-Loo’, what people used to shot as they threw their sewage out of the windows to warn people what was coming. You’ll also learn all about other loo related phrases and their origins, how ‘the big stink’ affected London and you’ll learn that the sewers we use today for 18 million Londoners were actually built in Victorian times for 3 million people (yikes).

photo 3Victoria Embankment Gardens (above) were purpose built over the sewers and did you know that somewhere in London there’s a lamp which gets its electricity generated by the fumes from the sewers (yummy!)

I won’t give everything away, but the tour is a great thing to do on a sunny day in London and it’ll give you lots of things to talk about. It’s a welcoming tour – go alone, with friends – if you want a private tour you can even get one! And to top it all off, the tour ends in Cellar Door. Cellar door is a bar located in toilets where Oscar Wilde used to go cruising for men. You also get discount on drinks if you’re with the tour!

If you go, tweet me and let me know what you think. And if you want to go, head to @londonlootours for more info. Enjoy!

LISTEN: At work my boss has created a playlist on Spotify which the people on my floor can contribute songs to at any time and it plays continually. You can vote songs up and down (the more quotes a song has the quicker it moves to the top of the playlist). Anyway, it’s an awesome idea and below is a song which I added to the playlist and I’m currently diggin’ on hard.

Listen, enjoy and go here to add the Soundrop app. Add it to Spotify, invite people and get your own playlist going!

LOVE: I’m currently on a dating hiatus, for a variety of reasons. When you go on a lot of dates, with the same guy or many different ones, sometimes you just need to take a break.

Firstly, money is a big issue with dating. There’s no way I’d ever allow a guy to pay for the entirety of the date so I have to spend out at least £15 per date, which obviously I’m happy to do, but I have a lot of holidays coming up soooo money is a little tighter than usual. Sharing a milkshake is about all I can afford right now.

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Secondly, I keep running out of time. I want to take a little bit of time to go the gym a bit more, meet up with friends I haven’t seen in a while and do more interesting, fun stuff in London. Dating eats into my time quite significantly – I went on around 30 dates last year. That’s 30 evenings (aside from the record day when I managed three dates in one day) which get eaten up and I don’t have a huge amount to show for it except a few short and sweet romances and hilarious stories about good and bad dates.

It’s not that the dates are bad at all. Even the bad ones are hilarious and I get a good story, but for the most time I have a lovely time and meet really interesting people. I may be alone in this, but I like dates. I love first dates. I like doing new things, I’m narcissistic so talking about myself is great and I’ve actually found I’ve learned a lot about myself through just talking about me. When people say ‘what do you do outside of work’ and you realise you have nothing to say… well, that would suck. But it’s nice to have a full life and interesting stories to share.

Due to my love of dates I sincerely doubt my dating hiatus will last. Ho hum.