Done all the usual tourist stuff?

When you go to London, most people have the same list in their head of what they want to see during their day/weekend there. And no one can blame you. Big Ben, Tower Bridge, London eye, St Pauls, British Museum – these are all brilliant must-see sights. BUT, once you have done it, there’s a whole other London just waiting to be unearthed. If you don’t live in London, you may wonder why anyone would pay the extortionate prices they do. But when you live in London, you cannot imagine living anywhere else. There is always something going on and always places undiscovered. This is the real magic of London.

I thought I would write a list on things to do that may not be in all the usual sightseeing guides – a real taste of London.

  • FOOD MARKETS – And not just the big ones like Borough – but the little local ones like South Bank and Greenwich – these are two of my absolute favourites. They have a very different atmosphere to Borough – laid back with plenty of beer, music and of course, food. Choose from numerous food trucks and stalls serving everything from giant gourmet burgers to vegetarian Indian street food.

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  • BRUNCH – Afternoon tea is very big at the moment and you wont have a cafe that doesn’t have a special deal. But, I can safely say I prefer brunch. I live for brunch – whether it’s something greasy to cure a heavy night or a get-to-gether with bottomless mimosas – you can always find the right place. I will limit myself to two recommendations because I could go on forever. 1. The breakfast club – they have many all over London so find the closest one and get there early if it’s a weekend. There is normally a queue in the central ones but I promise, you will not regret it. Just look at the menu – everything from stacks of pancakes to a vast choice of breakfasts including maple syrup bacon… mmmm. 2. Bourne and hollingsworth building – great for bottomless bloody Marys or mimosas – delicious food in a beautiful setting. Great for a special occasion .. or not – the prices are very fair for the feel of the place

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  • AN OLD TOILET OR TWO – okay so that doesn’t sound too appealing but I BET you’re wondering what’s down there. If you’re looking for a quirky cocktail haunt, get to Kentish town, Ladies&Gentleman. There are a few renovated toilets around and I highly recommend a lot of them, including The attendant for a coffee or breakfast.

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  • OUTSIDE LIDOS – If the weather is nice, get to a lido early. If the weather isn’t nice, ensure you go to a heated one. These lidos are all over London and become a great social hub on a hot day. Sunbathe swim and take the best instagram pics ever!

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  • GO HIKING – okay so if you’re just visiting London, the last thing you want to do is get away from it. But if you live in London, sometimes you want to see a bit of green, well, a lot of green. I do, anyway, growing up where there was plenty of it. Take a hike in Sevenoaks – make sure you scope out a good route before you go and this will ensure you see the best scenery. We got everything from our walk – wild deer, massive expanses of green, uphill hikes through trees and stunning views! Only a short train ride away. Pack a BBQ and some prosecco – job done.

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  • GO TO AN OPEN AIR CINEMA – they’re everywhere in the summer – bring a blanket and a picnic. A very fun and cheap way to spend the evening – couples or big groups of friends, you’ll find a great range of people attending.

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  • ISABELLA PLANTATION – a rare spot of hidden beauty. Established during the 1950s, the ornamental woodland garden consists of clearings, ponds and streams and is planted with ferns, exotic trees and shrubs. It’s particularly striking during April and May when the azaleas and rhododendrons put on their annual show.

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The longer you spend in London, the more places you will discover. And this never ever ceases, this is why I would never leave London :)

 

Guy discovers girlfriend cheating, wins £65,000 hours after dumping her

Getting cheated on is bad. There’s not a lot you can do other than hope that they regret it immediately and their life spirals into misery without you. Maybe pray you win a fortune and can drown your sorrows in champagne and holidays? Would that help? Let’s ask this guy!

Dan White, 25, cannot believe his luck after his ex-girlfriend cheated on him. Sounds strange, right? That’s because just hours after finishing it with her, he won £65,000 on a footie bet.

The pair dated for two years, however, he discovered she had been unfaithful multiple times during her time at university in Southampton.

He immediately broke it off and thought his life was doomed, until his luck came in with a ten pound bet! He can now try and get over his ex whilst living with friends in Marbella! He said he has met plenty of girls in his new life abroad!

Dan’s ex, Courtney Davies, 23, is now sincerely regretting her decision, saying that they always dreamed of travelling but never had the money to do so.

“The girls are all sending me messages asking if I was gutted that he won. and I should never have been unfaithful!”

But, she’s not bitter…

“Even though I was in the wrong, he called it off by text which I didn’t think was the right thing to do, but I wish him all the best even though I won’t see any of the money!” she said.

She added: “He could give me a million a year for the two years I went out with him – I wouldn’t say no to that.”

In your dreams, mate! Good on him!

Meet Britain’s Luckiest Guy

A LUCKY punter scooped £50,000 from a £5 bet on the footie last night — thanks to an injury time goal from Barcelona.

Celtic fan Kieran Ferrie, 24, beat 10,000 to one odds by correctly predicting the scores of four Champions League games.

His wager looked like falling agonisingly short until Jordi Alba’s 92nd minute strike at the Nou Camp sealed a 4-0 victory for Barca over AC Milan.

Pals told how Kieran, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, couldn’t watch the second half due to nerves. One friend said: “People tried to phone him after but he was literally speechless.”

The other scores he got right were Man Utd versus Real Madrid (1-2), Borussia Dortmund versus Shakhtar Donetsk (3-0) and Paris St Germain against Valencia (1-1).

5 Unusual bars in London

There’s nothing better than stumbling across a bar that’s not just standard. These 5 are quirky and strange and you just cannot beat them!

  1. Callooh Callay

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If you’re fed up of the depressing headlines splashed across the papers every day then escape your worries for a few hours and enter this fairytale world of childhood fantasies.

2. Doodle Bar

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There are few London bars where drawing all up the walls is par for the course. Why not let loose at Doodle Bar?

3. Bounce Farringdon

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Not many London bars offer 17 ping pong tables for a good game of table tennis.

4. Evans and Peel Detective Agency

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This 1920s prohibition-style cocktail bar is something out of the ordinary. The Private Eye team will give you a full detective interview before they decide whether to show you the goods. And if you pass the test, the drinks are something really special.

5. Ninetyeight

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The decor of this stylish basement bar in Shoreditch is almost like an eccentric relative’s house. Unusual? Yes. Worth a visit? Definitely.

 

For the foodies

The Araki

Chef Mitsuhiro Araki has relocated his three-Michelin-starred sushi bar the Araki from Tokyo to London. Everything at this nine-seat “chef’s table” restaurant is prepared by Mr. Araki himself. The omakase set menu is priced at an eye-watering £300 ($467 US), excluding service charge. With just nine seats and with this price tag, it will be of no surprise that so far, with the exception of the Financial Times, none of Britain’s national newspapers have sent in their critics to review.

Bao

Expect queues at this busy Taiwanese street-food restaurant in Soho. As the name suggests, the main attraction is steamed buns, the classic pulled pork and peanut powder being a bestseller. The next best thing is the fried Horlicks ice cream bao. But the “Most Instagrammed” award goes to the pig blood cake with soft egg yolk.

Bonhams

Situated in Mayfair’s auction house, Bonhams features chef Tom Kemble (previously of Hedone and Faviken) at the helm of the kitchen. Currently the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch (a la carte), with the exception of Thursday night’s “Supper Club,” when it serves a four-course tasting menu for £45. Do check out the great value wine list.

Duck and Rice

Duck and Rice is a Chinese gastropub by Alan Yau, a restaurateur who’s best known as founder of the Wagamama chain and London’s Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha. There’s a downstairs bar serving snacks, beer cocktails, cask ales on tap, bottled ales and lagers, as well as wine. The dining room upstairs offers a full-on menu with Cantonese dishes.

The Ivy Restaurant

Move over Chiltern Firehouse, because the mother of celebrity restaurants in London, the Ivy, is back and ready to claim back its status a celebrity haunt. The restaurant reopened in June after a five-month refurbishment. Executive chef Gary Lee has created a brand-new menu with new Asian-influenced dishes, such as tea-smoked short ribs in the Asian Graze & Share section, but the Ivy’s classics are also still included.

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Kitty Fisher’s

This tiny Mayfair restaurant, named after an 18th-century high-class prostitute, has quickly become one of the hottest tables in London. Yes, having Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife in for dinner certainly does get you publicity, but it’s young gun chefs Tomas Parry (head chef) and Chris Leach (sous-chef and ex-Pitt Cue Co.) and their wood-fire cooking that’s the restaurant’s trademark. On the menu are small plates and larger dishes, but if it’s on offer, do order their signature Galician beef.

The Manor

The Manor is a new restaurant from the people behind the Dairy, located on Clapham Manor Street almost around the corner from its sister restaurant. In charge of the kitchen is Dean Parker, formerly of the Dairy and Amass in Copenhagen. On offer is a seasonal a la carte menu with small plates and a seven-course tasting menu, including a vegetarian option. Desserts can be enjoyed at the restaurant’s special dessert bar.

Portland Restaurant

This restaurant by Will Lander (also co-owner of Quality Chop House) and Daniel Morgenthau (previously of 10 Greek Street) features Merlin Labron-Johnson, who was sous-chef at Kobe Desramaults’ Michelin starred In de Wulf in Belgium, behind the stove. There’s a compact seasonal menu as well as a daily specials board. A special mention for the wine list, which is attractively priced and do ask for the “single bottle” list. Start your meal with the homemade Portland lardo.

Smith & Wollensky

The American steakhouse chain has opened its first restaurant across the pond in the Adelphi Building, just off London’s famous Strand. International Smith & Wollensky lovers can order their favorite steak and side dishes from the familiar menu. New is a Sunday lunch menu which features a “Roast of the Day” and duck fat potatoes. Guardian critic Jay Rayner has not given Smith & Wollensky a warm welcome, but it’s still early days; the restaurant opened in July 2015.

Smoking Goat

A tiny, no-reservations Thai BBQ restaurant that opened in Soho in November 2014, Smoking Goat’s compact menu (three starters and three mains) by chef Seb Holmes (formerly of the Begging Bowl) features mainly seafood and meat. The fish sauce chicken wings and whole Cornish crab are a must, the latter described by Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler as “worth dirtying your nails and wrecking your shirt for.”

Pic Credit must be Alex Maguire Photography.

For The Animal Lovers

Got a soft-spot for furry friends? Although our capital city isn’t especially synonymous with animals, you’d be surprised at just how much is on offer for animal lovers.

Whether you love them big and smelly or cute and cuddly, London’s got something for you… take a look at our list of attractions and things to do.

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
152-154 Bethnal Green Road Bethnal Green E2 6DG
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Japan is frequently ahead of the trends, so it’s no surprise that it was here where cat cafes really took off. The premise is simple: the venues offer hot drinks, snacks and feline company to guests, who can play, stroke or simply watch the animals as they go about their business. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium isin Shoreditch (where else?)and you need to book a time slot in advance, this is because numbers of guests are kept low so as not to disturb the 12 resident cats.

Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is London’s favourite alfresco spot, whether it’s for swimming, picnicking, cruising or spotting bats, deer, and heaven forbid, grass snakes (they’re completely harmless however). Within the heath is the Golders Hill Park Zoo, which is free to enter and has a collection of both familiar and exotic animals, including eagle owls, ring-tailed lemurs and coatis.
London Wetland Centre
This acclaimed centre in West London is home to a whole host of animals you wouldn’t normally find in the city due to their predilection for water. The aquatic ecosystem is made up of four reservoirs that were built in the Victorian era, along with their surrounding wetlands, and is inhabited by otters, bats,birds and several types of reptiles and amphibians. Given that this is their natural environment the experience is a bit more immersive than the zoo, and you can turn up to things like the otter’s feeding time.
London Aquarium
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Do you ever dream of snorkelling with sharks in the ocean?Then you’ll be pleased to know you don’t need to fork out for a flight to the Solomon Islands yet, as there’s a place right here in the capital where you can do just that. Granted the aquarium by the South Bank is not quite the same as the Pacific Ocean, but it’s a tad more convenient. Plus you also get to watch fearsome creatures like crocodiles, rays and piranhas behind glass, from a safe distance.
Richmond Park
This wild park is home to a large population of deer (over 600 in total), who can easily be seen all year round despite their usual mistrust of humans. Be warned that you shouldn’t get too close or walk your dog in the park during summer and autumn when mothering deer are at their most defensive, but other than that you’ll easily get to watch these red and fallow deer going about their business in their natural habitat.
Hackney City Farm
Hackney City Farm is home to donkeys, geese, pigs, sheep, calves, chickens, guinea pigs and more, however it’s not just farmyard animals that are catered for here. Anyone with an interest in sustainability might want to take part in one of their gardening courses, plus you can get married here. What more could you want?
London Zoo
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The zoo’s most popular enclosures include the Gorilla Kingdom, the Butterfly Paradise, the Tiger Territory and the recently expanded Penguin Paradise; in fact so beloved are some of the residents that new arrivals are avidly followed on the zoo’s YouTube Channel. This also helps to promote their conservation work, which focuses on halting the extinction of animals and protective natural habitats.