“Oh, I love London Society! It has immensely improved. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be.”
On Thursday of last week I went down to London by train, on a wee adventure to meet my friend John. We had tickets to see Rodriguez at The Hammersmith Apollo, or rather the Eventim Apollo as it’s now called. If you’ve never heard of Rodriguez, I don’t blame you at all as unless you have seen the documentary “Searching for Sugarman”. If you are a music fan (Is it even possible to not like music?) then you have 111% gotta see this film.
Basically in a nutshell, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, from Detroit, Michigan made two albums in the 70’s, which never really took off or gave him much fame at all and he ended up just getting on with his everyday life. Meanwhile though in South Africa, he became a household name. Two South African dudes in the 90’s ended up coming to Detroit to try and find him, filming the search as a documentary, and so the movie “Searching for Sugarman” was made. Since the films release he has started touring again at the age of 71. WHAT A LEGEND. So we HAD to jump at the chance to see him play live!
John had gone to see him play previously in Birmingham on the Tuesday (superfan) and I met him on the Thursday in London straight off the train. We Were staying near Earls Court, which was cool and we were pretty close to the gig. I was really pleasantly surprised by London.
People were so friendly and chatty with us. But the crowd were hard at the actual gig, hardly anyone moved down from near the bar and there were people in the corridor! We arrived just as Rodriguez was coming on so it was perfect timing, but we were stuck next to the bar and underneath the balcony and you could not hear properly. I’m no expert but the sound wasn’t reaching underneath the balcony. So I took a big gulp and me and John attempted to swagger through the tight crowd, we got about 3 feet, and had to sheepishly retreat as folk literally just would not let us through. It was so senseless! There was loads of space on the main floor further down! A couple of minutes later a group managed to create a sort of snaking effect through the crowd which us and many others joined ( much to the dismay of some of the other punters: “You better not stand in front of me mate!”) A few elbows to the stomach and bitchy comments later and we were in a lovely spacious area not too far from the stage, and we could hear! Although, overall I did think the sound was pretty bad. My mate Stevie, The Bungalow sound man extraordinaire woulda owned it. I totally felt for Rodriguez cos things seemed to keep going wrong for him, like his guitar didn’t work so he had to swap for an electric guitar from the guy in his band, and his guitar strap kept falling off during the performance. The crowd were very supportive though and overall it was a brilliant gig!
Instead of doing a boring day by day account of what we did in sweet lil’ London town, I’m just gonna mention some of my favourites!
I’ve always found it a really interesting wee place to wander around, even though I tend to get a bit overwhelmed! There’s so much to see! After a while you realise that most of the stalls and shops are selling the same things, but here are a few of the things that I found that I loved!
When we first got off the underground and arrived, we were absolutely starving! I bought a dress at a stall on Inverness Street to wear to The Miss Scottish Pinup 2014, but I wont share a photo of that until after the pinup thing ( hopefully it fits cos I had to try it on over a jumper!) John noticed a Brazilian restaurant so we thought we’d give it a bash! It was called Made in Brasil.
The food we had for lunch was excellent and it was super great value! So refreshing to try something different and it totally reminded me of my South American travels. It seemed like very authentic food!
The tin Camden High Street sign above was one of my purchases (it’ll look great in my kitchen, as well as a Beatles ‘Help’ tin sign which I’m gonna put in my bedroom or lounge. They’re really quite big and sturdy! I love the Camden one cos it’s all rusty and looks proper like someone’s ripped it off the wall. i got them both for £20 at an indoor stall.
We also went into The Hawley Arms in Camden, which I believe is where many a famous head has reared their fame head, including Winehouse, Docherty, Fielding and Brand so we had to give it a visit. The weather was amazing and boy did we need a seat after walking around all day so we got a drink and headed up stairs. They have a beautiful outdoor sun trap of a terrace but it was mobbed and not a seat free to be seen ( It was Saturday and nearing St Paddys day!) So we sadly didn’t stay long!
It was still a great wee place.
I saw this when I went to the toilets. I really did love Amy Winehouse. She was totally magnificent and it was cool to be somewhere I knew she used to hang out. (Creepy, I know)
- Coconut Water
Ohhh…. if you know me at all, then you know I love this stuff! I could move to London just for the fact that they sell this in ice cold 500ml cans for £1.49 at pretty much every corner shop! I fell in love with a brand called Foco,which was coconut juice not just water, so that means it had extra added bits, probably why it was so moreish! They do sell lots of lovely flavours of pure coconut water too though! Their coconut juice had pulp added so it was like wee lovely bits of coconut floating about in it. I dunno, maybe that sounds horrific to you, but I fell in love! You can buy it on Amazon by the crate…. YUM!
That Aloe juice stuff in the photo was a bit much, even for me, but I’m sure it was probably really healthy. I’ve heard great things about Aloe. It was just the taste, the texture, the gloopiness and bits in this product: It just wasn’t for me.
- Shoreditch Grind
We stayed just off Old Street in the East End and it was brilliant! There was an amazing wee coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night just two minutes away from our accommodation called Shoreditch Grind and it was excellent! I would really recommend visiting this place if you’re in the area. Plus, they were so busy they forgot to make my cocktail so I got a second one for free which was very kind of them! They also make coffee based cocktails which I wish I had tried!
My cocktail of choice here was a Negroni. It’s made up of three parts: gin, semi sweet vermouth (rosso) and Campari served with a lemon rind and ice. Beautiful!
- The Night Jar
We found a total gem with this one by simply asking a local for a recommendation for a good place t0 go out and they told us that The Night Jar was a must do! From my experience travelling I have learnt that it is so much better to talk to people and find out what the locals do rather than fall into the usual tourist traps or big franchise type business void of character. This was definitely worth it!
We went by at around 9pm and they said it was £7 cover at the door and as we hadn’t booked it would be unlikely to get in. The lovely bouncer told us that if we swung by around 11.30pm we would get in for free but the jazz band would have finished by then and we would still not be guaranteed a seat. He also claimed that it was the second best bar in the world! So we were sold! And very intrigued! We came back at around 11pm, only queued for around 10/15 minutes and we got a table to ourselves and a very interesting cocktail menu.
It wasn’t too fancy or overly expensive, ( I actually thought it was super reasonable compared to say TGI’s and the presentation was always unexpected and out of this world) although the cocktail menu included some very interesting ideas and ingredients!
I don’t know if you can see but seaweed air is one of the ingredients in a cocktail! I obviously picked it out of curiosity!
The staff were lovely, accommodating and attentive. The surroundings were lovely, and was very atmospheric. I would definitely recommend this place to anybody visiting London. It’s just 2 minutes walk from Old Street underground station.
John ended up shunning the cocktails for some lovely craft beer, Blue moon in fact, which is delightful! ( We have it on tap at The Bungalow) They even put blood orange in it instead of just your normal average orange slice!
The thing is that the ingredients listed for the cocktails sounded really interesting, but you didn’t know what you were gonna get. A cocktail I ordered came out with a full meringue, a mini whisk and fruit on top, and the other one I had came in a huge bamboo cup with rum soaked Madeira cake with a melted chocolate on top! John ordered one that came with a full milk chocolate spoon! They were so brilliant and creative!
We found this amazing little fish & chip shop called Poppies on our wanders and fell in love! It was all vintage and lovely. Full of memorabilia and the staff were all in cute pinup outfits! (There’s also one in Camden and i was so tempted to revisit!) The food was great, the setting divine and just what we needed after a big traipse around town! John even broke his pickled egg virginity!
- Brick Lane
We headed down Brick Lane way toward Spitalfields for some vintage bargains, and I was right in about it! Within two shopsworth of browsing I found a beautiful blue mohair vintage cardigan that I loved! It has two Paisley pattern scarves running up each side and I HAD to get it OKAY! 🙂
After we’d been here I lost my mojo a bit, I’m not one for loadsa shopping and neither is John so we wandered our way back home. We were parched on the journey and there shined a shiny shiny beacon of hope right in front of us! The Commercial Tavern!
This place was cool! It was so shabby it was chic. Wallpapered doors, distressed furniture alongside deluxe chaise longues, drippy paint work, eclectic tiled bar, vogue cuttings on the wall. It was just cool okay.
I almost forgot! I found a Lola ( my greyhound) just off Brick Lane and I got so excited!
After our stay in the centre of London we headed to a lovely wee place called Berkhamsted where we stayed with John’s mate Dave. He was cool and we had a good few nights there!
They were all really cool, and Dave was a great host! I even did a 10km run one day along the canal, I got lost among the forests too, it was so beautiful!
So that’s about all I have to mention on my wee trip away! It always feels like way too much stuff for me to write, nevermind the amount there is for someone having to read it. But I hope you still enjoy it!
Let me know about your travels! I love to hear your comments and your experiences in similar places!
Lots of love