Exploring London; the Ultimate A to Z

It’s Monday 7th October 2013 and we can’t fit one more thing in the Skoda. Moving from my hometown of Bristol to the Big Capital to begin my career in writing and start a new chapter of my life.

Two weeks before, I had to find a place in 48 hours. In London for just two days for a bit of training, I had nowhere to live through a very annoying housemate of a friend we call “Mard Arse”. A free room in my friend’s house at the exact time I’m moving to London. Perfect right? Mard Arse had other ideas and I was left finding a home at short notice. Despite the extorniate rent due the trendy neighbourhood of Brixton, it happened and I made two fantastic friends in my housemates.

Just over one year and I’ve moved from Brixton to Tooting and have had so many adventures in-between.

Tube surfing, gigs, fantastic food and great experiences; social media is a great documentation of a time well-spent, but it does lack that personal touch.

Going back to the chock-a-blocked Skoda (complete with Border Terrier, Archie) we’ve unpacked and it’s time for the parents to vacate. My parting gift was this:

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My Dad has had this in his car for as long as I can remember. Dotted and streaked in highlighter are routes he has taken over the years and this gave me an idea to populate and personalise with memories of my time here.

The thing about the London A to Z is the black and white pages are so impersonal, yet its purpose is to get you to your desired location where memories are made. Within those pages are fantastic meals, new friendships and great experiences. A closer look and those lines are streets where you’ve lived, wandered down and even partied. The parks are areas you picniced, tube stations were you waited for a night-out and the squares are pubs you spent rainy weekends.  It needs a bit of colour!

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From amazing exhibition and talks (from the likes of Malala Yousafzai and David Bowie Is) to the foam claw and lobster bun at Bob’s Lobster, it’s my aim to fill this up!

And there’s so much more to add…

Rating Five Burger Places in London

I love burgers. Burgers with gherkins. Burgers with blue chesse. Burgers with onion rings. Burgers burgers burgers.

Having lived in the capital for just over a year, I have made it my mission to find the perfect burger. Not just an amazing burger, not just a really tasty burger, but the PERFECT burger. In terms of ratings, there have been a couple of eights and nines but I’m yet to find the ten; the MASTERPIECE.

Here is my summary so far rated out of five gherkins…

1/ Byron Burger

Byron Burger Clapham was probably the worst out of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it was THAT bad, and there was colouring involved (yep, I’m 25). As you can see, there is a generous helping of red onion with a crispy toasted underside of the buns; yum yum yum. And the pattie itself wasn’t dry with the crunchy lettuce, but as you can see, but that is it. It does look pretty though.

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2/ Bodos Schloss

Bodos Schloss based in Westminster is an experience. Like Après Ski resorts, it was all cabin like and cosy. The wine was delicious and unlike many London restaurants, it actually came with fries. The cheese was delish and red onion marmalade, although there could have been more. The pattie itself was kinda dry, especially when I asked for rare, and the bun was a little dry too. The burger wasn’t the best but the atmosphere and feel of the whole place was great. The burger certainly wasn’t £14 worth of tasty though.

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3/ The Gorringe Park

Having just moved to Tooting with two great friends, we’re exploring the area. From Brixton to Tooting can be a bit…quiet. But there are some really great places around, not to mention cheaper rent. One of the nicest pubs is The Gorringe Park. It has a little cinema downstairs (which shows films such as Ghostbusters), a library room upstairs and really friendly staff. There were delicious chunky chips with a lovely toasted sesame seed bun. Now, this isn’t a normal pattie, this is a pulled pork pattie. It was quite delicious, if a little messy.

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4/ Bukowski Grill

The Bukowski Grill in Brixton market is a proper gem. There are just two, one in Brixton and the other in Shoreditch, and they do a burger called THE MOTHER. Oh my days. That, below, is TWO patties succulently grilled, crispy bacon, melted cheese, lettuce and a shiny brioche buns. These burgers don’t come with chips but with The mother doesn’t need chips. I mean, JUST LOOK AT IT. It’s really reasonably priced, has a really friendly atmosphere and outshines the three above.

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5/ Dip and Flip

This one has to be the best burger I’ve had to date! In London, and in general if memory serves. It is 80% American style burger and 20% roast dinner (bear with me). In there is American style mustard, ketchup, a really moist beef pattie, shreaded lettuce and GHERKINS. Yes, GHERKINS. I am a gherkin obsessive. They should be in ALL burgers. Now, that’s the 80% taken care of (with every element a beautiful moment) now the 20% roast. The speciality is the Dip and Flip. That dish to the right is a dish of gravy, perfect for soaking the brioche bun and that’s not even the best bit. The X Factor is the layer of beef or lamb. I’ll repeat; a layer of beef or lamb. I went for the beef and it was just as beautifully cooked as the patties and all the elements. A definite must for burger fanatics.

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Women Fashion Power and a chilly London afternoon

It’s no secret that I am a feminist, and so are my lovely friends, so when the Design Museum announced their Women Fashion Power exhibition, we were there. There with BELLS on.

25 astonishing women showcasing their favourite outfits; those powerful I-can-do-anything outfits that make them feel that they can rule the world, and any boardroom too.

After a lazy morning shaking off the tiredness of too much wine and grub at the slope inspired Bodo’s Schloss (post to come), I made my way along the embankment. Despite the fact it’s a bit tourist galore (hello invasion of personal space) I couldn’t help but embrace their clicker-happiness.

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It is a rather pretty bridge, you have to admit, with the blue, castle themed towers and the toaster Instagram filter.

Today was one of those gloomy days with the odd spot of rain. Yeah, it isn’t the sunny glorious days that have you reaching for the Pimms but it does have its advantages if you’re a budding photographer/Instagrammer.

The above shot, if I remember correctly, is Brannan but not fully. You know this new Instagram update means you can adjust filters to mute down their sometimes abrasiveness so this is about 60% Brannan with an added contrast, brightness and vignette. I’ll make a note of these things for the future I reckon.

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The exhibition itself is about £12. There was a time not long ago where I thought this was extortionate (in a small museum sense). £12 for an exhibition? Really?! Well, I hope there is at least fireworks at the end. But since the David Bowie Is exhibition and Hollywood outfits both at the V&A, I have come to realise that it is all well worth it. The thought that goes into these shows is brilliant, and just remember the ridiculous cinema prices nowadays for shit like The Last Song and any other Nicolas Sparks adaptation.

The entrance of the exhibit was packed and there was an initial dread that you would be squishing around because the venue decided to let me a few more people than probably advisable but of course you fan out and explore.

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Going through time starting with the likes of the ultimate warrior Boudicca right up to grunge and the girl power of the Spice Girls, the outfits were just beautiful but even more so was the stories surrounding them. The stunning grey and crystal embellished gown above was special because the wearer’s children tell her she looks like a princess.

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As well as a lot of iconic Vogue covers featuring some of the world’s greatest supermodels, the exhibition really hit a personal note with the Spice Girls, a trend that epitomised the 90s as well as grunge. One item that caused a giggle was the ‘For Teens Only’ released in the 1960s when teens had their own disposable incomes and sexual freedom for the first time. With articles such as ‘No More Dates, No More Kisses – I’ve Lost Him’, it seems every generation goes through the same relationship issues, and they didn’t have Ben & Jerry’s either.

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Any powerful women’s exhibition wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Vivienne Westwood. I’m in no way a ‘fashionable’ person and this quote is what I feel is the epitome of clothes for women. It’s all about experimentation and discovering your personal sense of style  that makes you feel like your own goddess ready to rock.

Women have used fashion as a powerful, necessary weapon from the Suffragettes embracing their working-class roots and the party’s colour palette representing royal purple and green for hope to the Victorians dismissing their restrictive corsets and showing a little ankle.

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A brilliant and informative exhibition that we truly enjoyed, it then got a little better with a three cheese fondue at Zizzi’s and short riverside walk. Yep, my friends and I can be quite romantic when we want to be.

Chardonnay Celebration

One of my favourite hobbies has to be drinking wine. All wine. Yet, there is a prominent aspect of pickiness when I choose a white, red or pink…

For example, Chardonnay.

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I am not sure why, but I never order a glass of Chardy, and this was the opinion of many winos at the Hardys Chardonnay Wine Tasting vent held last week. Why?

One reason is it simply isn’t “cool”. The “Anything But Chardonnay” phrase cropped up and it’s true; Chardonnay has somewhat of a tacky image.

There is also Chardonnay’s variety. With Pinot and Merlot, they are a staple in the wine cabinet, ever dependable. Yet with Chardonnay, the vast variety of flavours and styles means there is a chance (albeit a small one) that you’re going to get it wrong. And a bad Chardy can haunt your tastebuds…

But heck! I went and taste Chardonnay, properly, for the first time and am converted…

Cheers to Chardonnay and Secret Salons!

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