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.

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All-focus

All-focus

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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Hotbox & Columbia Road

I apologise for the amount of ‘lifestyle blog’ cliches about to be unleashed on you, but I’m afraid I’m going to do it anyway.

Last Sunday we headed out to Shoreditch for brunch at Hotbox on Commercial Street. Renowned for top notch barbecue food, the venue opened in late 2014, and has just expanded the menu to include an absolutely stonking brunch. This also involves a bottomless option: all the Bloody Marys, Prosecco and Mimosas you can hack for 25 quid.

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We got there on time to avoid longer queues – I even missed The Archers to haul myself out East, but I regret nothing. From the second we arrived, the staff were a delight, calmly and politely handling the jostling queues. The waiter we had was an absolute peach; chatty and attentive without being disruptive. The venue itself is dark and cosy, with long tables and benches, high stools and ledges. Everything has been designed with precision: tiny glasses are topped up from an industrial steel jug, lightbulbs are bare, black frames abound. The music is excellent: from Sly & the Family Stone to Roxy Music within a track, ideal for a Sunday.

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The brunch menu is instantly appealing – we opted for Huevos Rancheros, avocado and roasted corn on sourdough, and smoked mac & cheese. To turn down the opportunity for macaroni cheese at what is ultimately a breakfast hour is criminal, and I question anyone’s motives for doing so. We shared all our dishes (particularly difficult on said mac & cheese…there was nearly a fight) which was a strategic move designed to give us as much of the menu to try as possible.

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Dipping a spoon into the Huevos Rancheros was a glorious experience thanks to eggs with exactly the right amount of runniness, a green coriander sauce, and a reassuring dollop of chunky guacamole. The sourdough dish was an excellent balance of sweetness from the roast corn, spice from paprika, and the creaminess of the avocado. I’ve been let down by so many macaroni cheeses in my life, and joyfully this was not so at Hotbox. Oozy and smoky with a crispy topping, I could happily have eaten a whole panful. The Bloody Marys were pleasing but perhaps a little watery, although the spicing, celery AND lemon wedge were spot on. I cannot recommend Hotbox enough – just make sure you get there as close to 11.30 as possible. After all, you can listen to The Archers on iPlayer.

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Barely able to move, we somehow manouevred ourselves down Brick Lane and through the market, on a floral mission. I used to keep flowers in my room as a matter of course, but when I started trying to cut down my expenditure, they were the first to go. I forgot how cheering heading home with armfuls of fresh flowers was, and meandering down the market was a joy. We took our time (we didn’t have much choice, given how stacked the place was), and enjoyed the sunshine and a coffee from one of the little wall cafes that appear all over the area.

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By the time I headed home, I felt like I’d been on holiday. I’m often staunchly anti-East, just because I’m a big fan of South West. But on a Sunday, there was a special atmosphere. There’s not really anything like it on my side of London – the energy, the people, the architecture of the place. I’m determined to explore more of this city, instead of just sticking to my little corner, so stay posted!

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Schiaparelli, The Savoy, and Shoreditch

Hello all, sorry for being super quiet the past few weeks. In  fact I’ve been MORE than super quiet this week. I’ve been more or less asleep for the most part, thanks to a lovely (and probably well-deserved) bout of flu. A little tickle in my throat turned into an awful lot of time spent in bed. I remember actually quite enjoying being ill when I was at school, as it meant a few precious days off – I know that I must be growing up as I was just mega annoyed! Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say that I asked Twitter and Facebook for remedies, and the one that came out tops and genuinely worked was: hot milk with a splash of brandy,  and honey swirled in. I styled it out with some nutmeg and cloves, and I think I may have found my new drink of choice.

Just a quick line about something that I’ll be discussing in more detail soon, but on Monday we had a meeting of the *deep breath* Tunbridge Wells Teenage Cancer Trust Fundraising Group. We’re in the process of planning a Winter Ball on the 29th November in Tunbridge Wells, and we’ve got some very exciting plans that we’re just starting to sort out. I’ve mentioned TCT before – I’m an ambassador for the charity and am really looking forward to raising their profile in the coming months. If you would like to be involved in any way – if you’re an entertainer, a caterer, an organiser, a generally brilliant person or you’d be interested in attending, please drop us a line at tunwellstct@gmail.com or check out our Facebook page. Thank you!

Before the dreaded flu hit, I popped to The May Fair Hotel (in, uh, Mayfair) on Tuesday for the launch of the Chamilia & Breast Cancer Care collection. It was a lovely afternoon spent with the delightful girls at Push PR and some very sweet girls, mostly spent lounging on the ginormous sofa, eating marshmallows and cupcakes with edible flowers on them, drinking pink champers and gossiping. We were in the jaw-dropping Schiaparelli Suite – allegedly Paris Hilton’s room of choice when she stays there. We were all really quite overexcited by the space and spent much of the afternoon dreaming about staying there. I’ll be writing it up for LadyMPresents.co.uk, but in the meantime check out Chamilia here.

I then had a call from an old advertising chum, and ended up leaping in a cab from Mayfair over to Brookes Brothers bar in Holborn. Thanks to my amazing powers of geography, I very nearly sent my driver to Brooks Brothers, the shop on Regent Street. What?! I bet some shops totally have bars. Aaaanyway, we hopped from there to a true heritage pub, also in Holborn, and which I’ve forgotten the name of, then made a stop in the American Bar at The Savoy. I’m a big fan of The Savoy. Low lighting, a pianist even on a Tuesday, and inventive cocktails. If you’ve never been, I insist that you do. Just…don’t send me the bill. We finished with a nightcap at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, which was pleasingly deserted. See what I mean about deserving the flu?

After lying low until Friday, mostly asleep, I was getting cabin fever. I missed going to Fashion’s Night Out on Thursday, watching Frasier in a fug of Lemsip fumes, but I suppose there’s always next year. *Tiny violins* Anyway, by Friday I was more than ready to see an old chum and drag him along to photograph the launch of the 5 Inch and Up line for Nelly.com at Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch. After days of hot milk and medicinal drinks, the mojitos and prosecco both proved a welcome tonic. The collection’s intriguing – full of vertiginous wedged heels and panelled, highly tailored jackets. Again, review coming soon on LadyM. The old chum, Paul, took some alarmingly good photos – some of which you can see below, and should you need a photographer I can’t recommend him enough. (Get in touch with me should you like to contact him.) I also wagered him that I couldn’t make a pizza when sozzled – I’m pleased to say, readers, that I won the wager, although I’m not sure to what degree of success…

And on that note, I’ve exhausted myself again – my energy levels are truly pathetic at the moment. It’s Fashion Week next week, and I need all my strength reserved. Hope you’ve all been enjoying the gorgeous weather! x