Chambord Chapter Eight Games

When I saw an event listing for the Chambord Chapter Eight games, I knew within a heartbeat that I had to pick up some tickets. Flamingo croquet and an Alice in Wonderland theme? French-American food from Le Bun? Chambord cocktails in London Fields? OBVIOUSLY yes.
All credit to the event company, because the whole roof terrace at Proof was decked out perfectly. Rose coloured chaise longues, pastel and jewel coloured wooden huts, flower bombs, and the fluffy flamingo mallets as a centrepiece. Mine was called Celine, by the way. There were four different Chambord cocktail options on the menu, utilising ingredients like gin, grapefruit, raspberry and rose. Le Bun had also incorporated the theme, and their usual burgers featured new additions such as Chambord coulis, champagne slaw, and freeze dried raspberries.

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Sipping cocktails in the sunshine while overlooking London Fields, we loved having a go at the course. Regular hoops had been replaced by tiny topiary hedges, topped with cocktail shakers, martini glasses and gold pineapples. I’m a big fan of activity based fun instead of just heading to a normal bar, and this didn’t disappoint. Chambord had really explored the silly, French, OTT theme their latest campaign seems to be based on, and to great effect. The whole thing was entirely joyous, and if you’re not a regular croquet player you should have a go at it.

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While the Chapter Eight games are over for now, I’d keep an eye on Chambord as I’m sure they’ve got some equally exciting things still to come. I would also strongly recommend heading over to Playground and Proof, as it’s a fascinating space and definitely worth stopping off at. Combine it with a trip to Broadway Market and Hackney City Farm as we did, and you’ll have a delightful day.

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ReefXLSFF at Boxpark, Shoreditch

When it comes to surfing in my family, my dad is generally the go to guy. I spent many childhood summers spent sitting on Cornish, French and Portugese beaches watching the main man on the water, but I never really *watched* it properly.

So when an invite popped through for the ReefXLSFF at Boxpark event, I knew there was only one person I could possibly invite. Sure enough, my dad turned out to be a seasoned London Surf/Film Festival goer and was delighted at the prospect of heading down to watch some of the ‘Shorties’ from the last few years as a warm up before the main event. This year will be the fifth incarnation of the festival, presented by Reef, and it’ll run from the 16th – 24th October. The festival takes place across a variety of venues around the capital, and will feature the very finest of surf features.

IMG_20150820_202758It was already a given that my dad would enjoy it, but I was surprised at how much I got into the whole thing. When you watch surf films, you find that your concern over knowledge about technical terminology melts away into a simple state of ‘woooooowwwwwwww’. I spent most of the evening watching the Shorties while turning to my dad and going ‘WHAT THE?! That’s AMAZING!’ It’s thrilling to watch as people glide in and out of waves, completely obscured by a tunnel of water, only to come out triumphant at the other end.

IMG_20150820_191829And a few words for Reef – such a strong presence from my childhood; the name emblazoned on the slightly cooler bikinis and shoes that I knew would turn me into a serious beach-goer. I was lucky enough to snag a few goodies from the new collection, and I have nothing but praise for my new palm print backpack and comfy sneakers, perfect for weekend walking. I also just need to tell you about my charcoal grey Reef t shirt, which is probably my favourite t shirt in the world. It’s at comfort blanket levels of awesome; the softest cotton. I dream about this t shirt during the working week.

IMG_20150820_184135So I have two strong recommendations for you: one, to check out the LSFF line up and go and escape to the board. Number two, if you’ve EVER been on a beach, Reef is still unbeatable for practical yet really rather beautiful kit. Don’t be that idiot in Primark garb that falls apart instantly. Take your beach time seriously and head to Reef!

Summer Tales, Shoreditch

Months after booking tickets, I finally went along to Summer Tales in Shoreditch on Saturday night. (Wow, that’s some sibilance…) After seeing heaps of blog posts and beautiful pictures across social networks, I couldn’t wait to finally see the venue. Turfing up around 7.30 on Saturday, we faced a mammoth queue – word to the wise, either turn up dead on 6pm when doors are opened, or buy a queue jump ticket (cocktail included.)

IMG_20141124_124753 IMG_20141124_125154Inside was the jungle paradise of my dreams – all credit to the event planners, who had plucked palm trees, sand, tree houses and neon signs to produce something beautiful AND fun. Attention to detail was excellent, from candy striped cushions in one of the upper bars, to a tiny beach with hammocks and beach chairs, to wooden swings…the whole thing felt like a playground for adults. With alcohol. In fact, alcohol from COCONUTS. Which brings me to an important point – make sure you go armed with cash. Boozy coconuts at the ever lovely Cocoface were cash only, and we were banned by the security guy from popping across the street to get cash out as he said we wouldn’t be allowed back in. So, lesson learned.

IMG_20141124_125041 IMG_20141124_125545I think London is developing an increasing intolerance for pop ups and installations and takeovers, especially those around the Shoreditch and Hackney areas. You could say…they’re starting to feel a bit HACKNEYED. HA HA. But seriously. I know these kind of things have a bit of a bad rep, but when something is brilliantly executed and an awful lot of fun, I can easily overlook the fatigue and get on board. Summer Tales pulls off a real coup, transforming a small grey patch of Shoreditch into somewhere magical. In many ways, it had the laid back festival feel that Secret Garden Party lacked at points.

IMG_20141124_125802 IMG_20141124_125810It’s somewhere that you can go for a relaxed few drinks and a delicious supper from one of the street food stands, then have a bit of a dance around on the covered dance area, surrounded by fairy lit trees. As a bit of a sad sidebar, the crowd in Shoreditch seems to have changed a lot, generally speaking. It used to be somewhere you could go out and not really care what you looked like  (something I increasingly admire in a place!) but over the last few years it seems to have turned into an extension of the West End. Girls were teetering through the woodchips and sand in five inch heels, holding mirrors up to check their fake lashes, adjusting teeny tiny dresses. It was fine, and all power to you if that’s your thing, but it felt a bit like watching the Kardashians going camping.




Anyway, that aside, I strongly recommend it for making the most of the last few weeks of summer. Go for a Pin-Up Colada at the Lazy Flamingo Bar upstairs, grab a fishbowl of booze at the downstairs bar, sit and relax on a swing, and be a weirdo like me who strokes the tiny patch of sand going ‘the sand feels sooo good, I love sand!’ And most definitely have a dance. The DJ broke out a hyper-electro, instrumental version of the Human League’s ‘Things That Dreams Are Made Of’, which delighted me no end. Just be as charming as possible to the security staff and do your best to avoid the girls in the bathroom screaming ‘THAT LIPSTICK IS SOOO MY COLOUR’.

Summer Tales runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Red Market in Shoreditch. Buy tickets here.

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Midnight Apothecary at the Brunel Museum

I’ve been very excited about writing this post, because I couldn’t wait to share what I got up to last weekend! (Well, a bit at least. If I told you everything, I’d have to kill you.) Hands up if you’ve ever been to Rotherhithe? If you’re like me before the weekend, your hand will remain floppily by your side. Well, I’m encouraging you to change that, dearest chums, and raise that wrist heavenwards with pride. Rotherhithe is actually rather ace, and I’ll tell you for why.

I can’t remember where I first read about Midnight Apothecary, but I’d like to thank that publication whole-heartedly. Botanical cocktails on a roof garden, marshmallows to toast, AND a tour of the Brunel museum sounded like a heavenly way to spend a Summer evening, and after coming back from Sludgefest 2015 (Secret Garden Party), I was ready to hit an actual Secret Garden in the sun.

IMG_20150801_181751 IMG_20150801_181828Luckily, it was a gorgeous evening as we wandered down from Rotherhithe station – via Shadwell, which I can’t talk about in the same glowing terms, sadly. We spotted the museum straight away, a substantial tower rising up from the residential street with an unmistakeable waft of barbecue. Clambering up slender steps to the roof, we were soon greeted by the sight of a proper English garden, full of laughter and sun, and the scent of burning sugar from the marshmallows. If you’re unclear as to what that translates to, I’ll tell you: that, my friends, is sheer happiness.

IMG_20150801_192932 IMG_20150801_191706The cocktails are provided by Lottie Muir of The Cocktail Gardener, who is by all accounts, a bit of a whizz. We managed to make our way through all but one of the 7 strong menu, and I tried everything from Douglas Fir vodka to hibiscus syrup, via a lavender gin fizz, and a strawberry and thyme concoction. Pretty AND lethal, just the opposite of how I like my men. I truly believe the soul can be entirely soothed just by sitting calmly in a garden, spotting birds flying overhead, inhaling the scent of gas lamps mixed with herbs, with a shot of vodka or two by your side. After a day in Shoreditch and surrounding areas, it felt awfully calm and peaceful.

IMG_20150801_193651 IMG_20150801_182135We moved from the outskirts of the garden into the centre, round the campfire, and grabbed a couple of stakes to toast our marshmallows on. Never has there been such a feeling of being simultaneously entirely masculine (large pointy wooden stake) but entirely girly (tiny pink marshmallow), and I enjoyed it immensely. As it turns out, my toasting skills are VERY poor. My phone is still bathed in a kind of marshmallow ectoplasm, and I was mercilessly made fun of by my Canadian pal who is adept at these kind of essential life skills.

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly get any happier, an effervescent and actorly chap leapt out in a red hat and told us he’d be giving a tour of the railway tunnel itself – this is absolutely not to be missed. We clambered through a small tunnel and went down into a huge underground room, where we learned all about the two Brunels and what they’d created. It was quite thrilling to sit there and imagine people banquetting all the way underground, and Queen Victoria making a visit.

IMG_20150801_202258 IMG_20150801_181846If you’re a bit fed up of the usual pop ups and the same old bars, and you like your cocktails with both a botanical AND a historical twist, there’s nowhere better than the Midnight Apothecary. Book some tickets through Design My Night (a mere fiver each), and have a truly unique and relaxing evening in Rotherhithe!

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Kopparberg Urban Forest

Much as I like South West London, it has a couple of big downsides. Primarily the lack of proximity to East London, which is where all the good stuff is. If you want some third rate DJ playing chart cheese while people in salmon trousers do non-ironic mumdancing, S Dubz is definitely the place for you. That isn’t to say we don’t have some good stuff over this way, but it all tends to fit a bit more into my ‘that was an absolute SCREAM’ category than the ‘that was a really chilled night’ one. Maggie’s is a scream. Beaver Lodge is a scream. Bunga Bunga is the screamiest. IMG_20150703_193320

But you catch my drift – if you want somewhere that isn’t quite so…well, so ‘hair n’heels’, then you’re going to have to venture further afield. Kopparberg Urban Forest was top of my hit list last Summer but I never quite made it along, so I made it top priority this time around. As with last year, they’ve created a sort of Scandinavian/East London composite, full of food stalls and wooden light fixtures decked out with foliage. Jam jars full of flowers hang near fairy lights, and there’s a little bandstand type thing in the centre that reminded me irresistibly of Groundhog Day.IMG_20150703_185805IMG_20150703_191345IMG_20150703_183807

The frozen strawberry & lime cider hit the spot after a long hot day and crammed Overground journey, and once we’d got hold of some sweetcorn fritter wraps, we started to unwind and enjoy our surroundings. DJs for the night were the awesome ‘Rock the Belles’, a kind of collective of female DJs, bands and artists, and they were playing an excellent selection of both old school and…new school (is that a thing?) hip hop. Now, being white middle class girls who went to private school in Sussex, my friend Sophie and I are quite obviously PRO hip hop dancers, so we really went for it. I mean, REALLY went for it. IMG_20150703_194437 IMG_20150703_200929 IMG_20150703_210529 IMG_20150703_211141

Emily Rawson, founder of Rock the Belles, got on the decks for the last few hours of the evening, and played a bit of everything from Roots Manuva to Kendrick, plus an awful lot of stuff that I’d never heard before but danced like a loon to anyway. She was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend you looking her up if you live in London. The whole thing had an enjoyably 90s vibe, and to our delight we happened to see an actual, honest to god dance off unfold. Very relaxed at first, everything turned up a notch as it started to get dark, and the place really came into its own.

IMG_20150703_225046The Urban Forest finishes this weekend, and entry is FREE, so I strongly recommend you get yourself down there for the closing events. Just make sure you wear shoes you can dance in. IMG_20150703_225054IMG_20150703_225139

Huawei G7 & the Ultimate Lifehacking Workshop

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Ham Yard for a ‘Lifehacker’ workshop, to celebrate the launch of the new Huawei G7 phone, where a rather excellent evening was had by all.

Huawei G7

Let’s get straight into it and discuss the phone, shall we? I am far from a tech blogger, but I knows what I likes, and I, uh, likes what I sees – for want of a better phrase. It’s a nice weighty thing, about the size of my old Samsung Galaxy Note: light enough to carry around, big enough that you can actually watch things on it, and type. Much as I’ve been having an full blown love affair with my Sony Xperia Z3, I’d never watch anything on it. This baby has a 5.5 inch display!

A few tech specs: download speeds are up to 150Mbps, which I believe translates into ‘hella fast’. The whole thing feels incredible slick, very speedy and terrific if you’re a multi-tasking, mega-distracted, slightly hyper phone user like me. It features a 3000 mAh battery, which means that you can use it for a couple of days at a time without charging. Do you remember in the 00s when your phone lasted for a few days? Before your iPhones came along and begged to be charged every hour or so? Well, that. Perfect if you work in social media but hate plug sockets, like me.

Negative points? The resolution is a little lower than I’d like at 267ppi, vs 319ppi for my Xperia Z3, but it’s still bright and clear. Cosmetically speaking, the casing is nice enough but looks more expensive in the white version. Functionality-wise, I’ve only played around with social apps and Spotify, but I’ve heard rumours of lag in game play. I’ll have to report back when I’ve had it a bit longer!

Huawei are positioning the G7 as a phone that will improve your day to day life. It’s speedy, it has that gorgeous big screen, it has an 13MP camera, the battery life is extremely appealing, and it comes in at under £200. The ‘Phone Manager’ feature is ace, as it scans your device and helps you clean up battery draining apps etc. OS is Android KitKat, so existing Android users should get on perfectly fine, but iFans may find the transition a little harder.

Generally speaking, the Huawei G7 is a good, solid mid-range phone, and I’m looking forward to exploring it properly.

Lifehacker Talk

The evening kicked off with a talk by two chaps from Lifehacker, a sort of real life version of Reddit’s LifeProTips. They talk us through how to make the most of each part of our day, thanks to our ever present mobiles. Tragically and also ironically, I was fielding some important work emails for almost the entire duration of their talk, which meant I think means I will now live a very unproductive, flabby and ultimately unhacked life. HOWEVER, I would like to share with you their greatest tip of the night, which was about the app If This Then That. In short, it allows you to create ‘recipes’ for your phone functions. E.g. ‘If I post a picture to Instagram, then post it to Twitter’. The app will then post the photo as a native pic to Twitter automatically. It’s a great way to streamline the way you use your phone. I’ve given a fairly rubbish example, but check it out and create as many recipes as…well, this guy below.

Cookery Masterclass with Sam Stern

Sam Stern is one of my all time food heroes, especially as my mum adores him. We’ve been consulting his excellent ‘Eat Vegetarian‘ book for years, and he’s your man for easy, please-y eats. He’s about to launch a book on cooking for one, which is going to be a million times sexier than this:

Sadly I couldn’t make anything as the recipe was mackerel & horseradish pate – which looked amazing. i just stood back and observed – but from general reactions it was a top notch recipe! I’m very excited about his next book, as I like cooking for myself and myself alone very much, and I think this book is an excellent concept.

Cocktail Masterclass with Iain Griffiths of White Lyan

When I spotted that Iain was going to be hosting this particular segment of the evening, I got terrifically overexcited. If you haven’t heard of Mr Lyan, then you need to sort your life out, son. Iain works with Ryan Chetiyawardana, founder of White Lyan, and one of my newly discovered impress-your-date venues, the Dandelyan Bar at Sea Containers. That’s a lot of names to digest, but if you care at all about drinking, I recommend that you commit them to memory. I’m going to be writing a separate review of Dandelyan soon, so hold your horses, ok?

Both venues have a unique approach to cocktail making: a refreshing change in a city where I am endlessly having pitchers of Porn Star Martinis slopped over me in every. Single. Venue. Instead, we had a table full of fresh fruit and herbs, salt, Mr Lyan’s own blends, San Pellegrino, tequila…I could go on. Iain guided us through the creation of three distinct and delicious cocktails: a clean G&T with the Mr Lyan Diamond Rickey blend and grapefruit, a zesty Pamela with tequila and pomelo juice, and my personal favourite, a Bloody Mary with yellow Isle of Wight tomatoes and green Tabasco.

A big thank you to Iain, and you all need to take my word for it and check out White Lyan and Dandelyan. 

Memory Masterclass with Dominic O’Brien

Just a quick note on the final speech as I’m running out of room, but we had a session from memory champion Dominic O’Brien. He was engaging and delightfully mustachioed, and his talk was a perfect blend of useful tips and party pieces. For example, he gave two people a copy of The Sun and asked them to pick pages – he then recited phone numbers, stocks, or any information found on the page. I obviously chose Page 3. Dominic also taught us some useful ways to remember numbers, and I will share my favourite: he assigns each number to an image. A ‘2’ becomes a swan, a ‘3’ is a heart, a ‘0’ is a football etc. Start with that, and you can build your own story using the numbers. As someone who forgot my own phone number the other day, I’m looking forward to utilising these tips.

All in all, it was a fun and informative night, and an ingenious idea for a press night. Thanks for inviting me down, I had a terrific time! (And not just because of the yellow Bloody Marys and macaroons…)

Lima Floral

I wasn’t sure what to write up from the weekend, because I was fortunate enough to go a variety of excellent places over the weekend: Dandelyan and the Rumpus Room at Sea Containers, Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Plum + Spilt Milk…but I opted to jot down a few notes on Lima, where I went for brunch on Sunday. I am still without proper DSLR, so please forgive the phone pics…

Lima is a Peruvian restaurant tucked away on Floral Street, just away from the surging crowds of Covent Garden. Known for delicate and well-balanced dishes, they’ve just launched a new brunch menu, for which I was a very willing guinea pig. The restaurant itself is light and airy, and the staff kindly accommodated our request to be seated upstairs in the sunshine, as opposed to our original spot downstairs in the Pisco Bar. The decor is inviting and fairly eclectic, full of blue hues and tapestries, and some envy-inducing china plates. My companion opted for a latte, and I decided to try one of the plum and rosemary ’emolientes’, a refreshing drink that is served warm. It was delicately flavoured, sweet without being saccharine, and entirely delightful. There are two different categories for brunch: a lighter Andean breakfast, and a long lunch. We were busy agonising over what to choose from the Andean menu, when our waitress told us we got EVERYTHING on that menu. I’m pretty sure I heard the Hallelujah chorus from some distant place.



The menu seems fairly unassuming, descriptions are simply put and don’t try to hard. This is often my favourite kind of food experience. I’d much rather be delighted and surprised, than work through a load of tortured descriptions including the words ‘foam’, ‘scorched’, ‘dusted’, and other examples of gastrolinguistic engineering. For our first course, we had sharing bowls of warm, creamy quinoa porridge with apricot; yogurt with eucalyptus and mint, and a bowl of fruit with maca root, honey and bee pollen. This was possibly some of the finest yogurt I’ve ever tasted, like eating a creamy cloud. I usually avoid ordering fruit in a restaurant as it seems like a waste, but this was fresh and full of flavour, and the quinoa porridge had all the comfort of your mum’s most reassuring rice pudding.



For the ‘main’ course, we were served potato pancakes with a perfectly savoury sauce, and an egg frittata with delicately cooked carrots and spring onions. As a vegetarian, I got an extra serving of pancakes, and my friend had a suckling pig brioche bun, an arrangement that we were both very happy with. I was initially skeptical about the small portion sizes, wondering if we should have chosen a ‘pile ’em high’ brunch venue, but we were so stuffed after this course that we nearly didn’t have room for pudding.

Yes, pudding. Every good brunch deserves fine puddings, and this was quite something. An quenelle of coffee ice cream with cacao crumble, two tiny bright meringues, raisins in a sugar syrup, and alfajores with dulce de leche. I want you to remember the word ‘alfajores’, because they are truly the most glorious biscuits in the entire world. Imagine a flattened down Viennese whirl: melt in the mouth, clouds of icing sugar, but with a caramel filling instead of jam and cream. I cannot impress upon you enough how pleasing they are.


The whole thing was £18 a head, which I think is very reasonable for a three course meal. You can also tack on unlimited Prosecco for £10 each, but after a Saturday morning of bottomless Bloody Marys at the Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings (try saying THAT while drunk), I gave it a miss. We went for 11am, but I would recommend kicking off a little later as the pudding course makes it feel a lot more like a proper lunch. That would be my one bit of feedback: the pudding was quite astonishingly sweet, and I left with something of a sugar headache – but it was worth it for the alfajores.

Thank you to Lima for a uniquely delicious brunch, and in particular to the charming staff for making it such an enjoyable experience.