The sweetest tour in London Town: London Cupcake Tours

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, Wine and Coffee

The sweetest tour in London Town: London Cupcake Tours

10 Comments 11 July 2013

Whenever I see a swirl of butter cream pink icing, a glistening beige cake beneath and some sort of delicious art on top staring back at me in a London window, I can’t say no.

Hi, my name is Bobbi and I’m a cupcake-aholic.

I am obsessed with the recent cupcake fad that has taken over this city. It’s hard to walk anywhere in London these days without being tempted by this itsy bitsy treat, but where should people go for one serious cupcake in the city?

London Cupcake Tours set out to answer just that with their self-guided tour packages. I spread my tour out over three days across two months and found some incredible places to eat cake in London Town.

The Package

I know what you’re thinking.

“Cupcake tour, what on earth is a cupcake tour?”

London Cupcake Tour

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I return home one day to find a hot pink package addressed to me. Wide smile on my face, I run up the stairs to my flat and immediately open it. The first thing I pull out is the London Cupcake Tour Guidebook, which lists six places in London to try cupcakes, maps on how to find each place and popular attractions and sights nearby. Also in the package is six vouchers for one cupcake at each of the bakeries in the guidebook, a reusable tote bag, a few cardboard boxes to fit two cupcakes each, a London Cupcake Tour cover for my Oyster Card and two buttons that say, “I’m on the London Cupcake Tour”.

The gift certificates are valid for three to 12 months, so there is no pressure to do the tour immediately or even rush it all into one day. So I took my time and spread the tour out over three months sharing each day with a friend.

On Tour

Day one, Ric and I visit The Cupcake Bakehouse in Covet Garden to share a Nutella cupcake. From there, we walk to Sweet Couture Cake Boutique and use our voucher for there on a friend that works nearby. It’s her birthday, so we surprise her with a vanilla cupcake with one candle in it. Don’t worry – we also sample some of Sweet Couture’s cakes ourselves. Their zesty lemon cupcake looks too delicious to resist.

London Cupcake Tour

Taking the first bite of my first cupcake on tour. Nutella – yummm. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Almost a month later and I’m having serious cupcake withdrawals, so Ric and I set out on day two of our cupcake tour. After wandering through Portobello Market in Notting Hill, we find a Buttercup Cake Shop location next to Gelato Mia. It’s different from the location listed in the guidebook and you’ll find a few places on the tour have more than one location. There we try a sticky toffee cupcake. Next, we head to Holborn to visit Bea’s of Bloomsbury and try my favorite: red velvet cupcake. This is also my favorite sit-down stop on tour. Bea’s has such a cute and cozy set up. It’s a great place to meet people for cake and a coffee and their icing is so creamy.

London Cupcake Tour

A cupcake tree at Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The last day on tour I head on by myself, but make another birthday purchase. First stop is Lola’s Cupcakes in Mayfair where I choose a cupcake that looks like a tennis ball. This little shop is celebrating the Wimbledon finals in the sweetest way possible. I’m pleasantly surprised to taste jelly as I bite into the vanilla cake! Last stop is Ms. Cupcake in Brixton, which is my favorite shopping experience. The bakery has a retro feel to it and the cupcakes are vegan, so everyone can enjoy. I take a Ferrero Rocher cupcake to go and share it with a friend later in the day for his birthday.

London Cupcake Tour

A tennis ball cupcake at Lola’s Cupcakes the day before Andy Murray wins Wimbledon. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Price

A London Cupcake Tours single pack costs £34.50 and can be purchased online. I thought this price was a bit high considering each cupcake would have cost £2-4 if purchased on its own. Honestly though, after looking at a few other food tours in London, that’s actually quite affordable. Walk.Eat.Talk.Eat’s tours range between £50-65. Remember, you’re not just purchasing cupcakes, you’re being guided through different areas in the city while visiting some of its best cake shops.

Final Thoughts

I thought this was the most adorable tour idea I had heard about in London. Cupcakes are very popular at the moment and bakeries just keep popping up in this city. London Cupcake Tour is a great way to experience that side of the city, while also touring it . My major problem with guided food tours is that they pack so much into just a few hours, which can be sickening after a while. That’s why I liked the set up of this food tour, because I could spread it out as much as I wanted. I didn’t have to eat six cupcakes in one day, which would have probably made me hate cupcakes.

London Cupcake Tour

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Overall, London Cupcake Tours was a nice addition to London life for me that allowed me to see bits of the city I wouldn’t have, like Brixton. All the bakeries were high quality and had something very special about them. I would recommend this to tourists with a sweet tooth and even locals that want to sample this exciting trend in London.

Thanks to London Cupcake Tours for letting me try out their tour. As always, all opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

15 Things I Will and Won’t Miss About Living in London

Destinations, England, Moving Abroad, United Kingdom

15 Things I Will and Won’t Miss About Living in London

10 Comments 09 July 2013

London seems to be a city that just keeps coming back into my life. I lived here for six months studying abroad in college and returned five months ago for a sort of place to live in limbo as me and my Ric tried to figure out a more permanent living situation.

In a nutshell, I adore this city. I don’t know what exactly it is about London, but the city just has something. Maybe it’s the free  museums and world-renowned art scene. Maybe it’s the city’s lively mixture of cultures and activities. Maybe it’s the city’s intricate and exciting history.

Whatever it is, this city had me at “Ya, alright?”.

And now, probably as you read this post, I’m leaving the London once again with no idea when I’ll return for a vacation, let alone to live, so I think now is a good time to reflect on the ups and downs of living in London Town.

Things I’ll Miss

Getting lost – kind of

My absolute favorite thing to do in London is walk around with no plans or destinations. I could walk this city for hours and hours and not even realize it, because there is so much happening to take my mind off the fact that I’m exercising. Tiny side streets – blue plate homes – hole-in-the-wall cafes – so much has happened in the city and so much has been added that you never know where you’ll end up or what you’ll find on a wander. However, you’ll never actually get lost enough to the point that you can’t find your way back home. There’s always a tube station close by, no matter how lost you get, hop on that and you’ll know exactly where you are again.

Free magazines and newspapers

I’m very old-fashioned with my media. While I do read more things online these days, I’ll take a massive inky newspaper or glossy magazine over a website or kindle any day. It was really nice in London to have that for the same price as online media: Free 99!

Not only am I going to miss picking up my free copy of Time Out outside Shepherd’s Bush Market station on Monday mornings en route to the library or Evening Standard weekdays on my way home, but I’ll also miss the paper boys. The way the guy says “Evening Standard” is always a highlight on my walk home and I know I’m not alone. I hear kids repeating the phrase just as he does at the library, girls on Uxbridge Road throwing it into the conversation in his voice.

Random happenings

I think we can all agree, whether you love or hate London, one thing is certain, there is always something to do in this city and they’re so random and unique. Into art? Head to an auction at Sotheby’s. Love the cabaret? This city is a mecca for it. Want to live in the past? You can do that too – at themed parties. Are you a total foodie? Don’t get me started – the markets here are incredible.

This city literally has something going on every day to suit all types of people. You really never know what you’ll get into or where you’ll end up on any given day in London. They say nobody knows how to party quite like the Brits, they’re kidding.

Free museums and art

London is the city where I really fell in love with art, so I might put it on a pedestal a bit more than I should, but it is a really great city for art lovers. National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern and Britain, Saatchi Gallery, V&A – there is no shortage of art galleries in this city displaying Picasso, Manet, Dali and more legendary artists. And what’s even more amazing, most of these galleries and museums are free. London can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

British TV

This is something I’ll miss, but I know I’ll keep up with long after leaving London. England has some of my absolute favorite TV shows. For chat, shows like Graham Norton, A League of Their Own and Top Gear presented an entirely new and sort of no-hold-back sort of watching experience. It took me a while to completely understand the humor here, but I do now. And on some British chat show people are given wine – so you see a completely different side of all your favorite celebrities.

For scripted dramas and comedies, I’ll start by saying a lot of your favorite American series were based on British ones and often, the originals and a million times better. Shameless was my sort of awakening to how good TV is over here. Then of course there’s Made in Chelsea, which, for better or worse, I am obsessed with.

Curry and Kebabs

I never understood Britain’s bad reputation for food and drink. Sure fish and chips and Bangers and Mash are quite simple dishes, but they should not be used at the entire spectrum of British food. To be honest, I love eating in this country and especially London. Not only is England home to some of the world’s most famous chefs (Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver), but it’s also a melting pot of about a million different foods from around the world.

Two of those melting pot items that my mouth will miss (but my hips will not) are curry and kebabs. Let me start by saying I lived off Uxbridge Road during my most recent stay, where kebab shops and curry houses are literally almost every store front for about 20 minutes of walking. You try dieting when a spinning hunk of lamb meat is staring at you throughout every walk to and from anywhere. It’s not going to happen. We do a lot of food right in America, but we don’t come close to how they do curry or kebabs in London.

Urban parks

I get giddy every time I see a park anywhere in the world, especially England. London does parks right. Whether it be a perfectly trimmed rose garden or a wild forest, this city knows how to help people escape the hustle of the city, if even for just a stroll. It was actually in a London park that Ric asked me to marry him, Chiswick, so obviously that’s my favorite, but some other good ones to check out include, Regent’s Park, Holland Park and St. James’s Park.

Coffee

This is something I never thought I would miss about London, especially coming from New Zealand and Australia. Something big has happened in the cafe and coffee culture since I last lived here in 2007. There is so much focus on coffee here and they’re really producing incredible things with that. My favorite cafe is Wild & Wood in Holborn. Have a flat white there and you’ll understand why I’m not looking forward to going home to suburban chains.

The Tube

I’ve never seen a public transportation system run as efficiently as the London Underground system. If you can pay £7 for a day pass, that’s your entire day set in London with all it’s free museums and parks. You can literally go anywhere in the city with the underground and it always feels like a train arrives as soon as I enter the station. I am not looking forward to going back to NJ and relying on my car to get around.

Things I won’t Miss

Dog pee and poop on the sidewalk

I know it’s a city and sometimes your pets just have to go – that’s not controllable – but I’m not going to miss wondering if every bit of liquid I see in the street is a puddle of pee or water. Pee I can understand. You can’t clean that up as a pet owner, but crap on the sidewalk is inexcusable and so gross. I’m not sure if this was something that only happened in my area, because I have to say I did not see it often in other parts of the city, but for the love of god people – clean up after your pets, especially when they’re messing on pedestrian walkways!

Overcrowded

As much as I love all the hustle and bustle of a city and activities that come with that, I am not going to miss walking down the streets on a weekend in London. I feel like I’m in a herd of cattle a lot of days in this city. Crowded bars, crowded streets, crowded tube carriages…these things will not be missed.

Walking on the sidewalks

To add to my overcrowding and poop winge – I think people need an education in sidewalk rules before they arrive in London. I always walk according to what side of the street a country drives on, but I don’t think everyone else does that. Since the UK is the only country in Europe that drives on the left side of the road and loads of Europeans as well as people from around the world (most of which drive on the right) visit London on a daily basis – no one knows which way to walk on sidewalks. People from the UK/Australia/NZ go left – the rest of the world goes right. It especially annoys me at tube stations when there are signs on the stairs that say stay left, yet for some bizarre reason people are taking up both sides. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if the city wasn’t so busy, but it is and no one know which way to go, which frustrates me like crazy.

Overpriced

As cheap as a person can make London with free activities and discount stores, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world if you don’t bother considering your budget. This is especially troublesome when you’re living here on the American dollar. I can’t help but exchange money in my head and every time I go to the store I feel like I’m paying double on top of something that already costs more than it would in the rest of England, the rest of the world. £16 cocktails ($US24) – £3 triangular sandwiches ($US4.50) – £2.50 coffees ($US3.75)- as much as I enjoyed eating and drinking you, you will not be missed.

Not having the right of way

Cars in London rule the road and they’re not going to stop for any idiot who wonders into the road. Don’t worry, I’m that idiot too. But what always bothered me is at cross walks when I would have the green man and suddenly he would start blinking. Now my understanding in a lot of places is that this meant, “Hurry up, you only have a few seconds to get across, but don’t worry you can still walk”. Not in London. As soon as the green man starts blinking for pedestrians, a yellow light goes on for the cars that are waiting and they immediately start to go or get angry at people for still walking in the road.

Rush Hour

I was fortunate enough to only have to ride the tube or be in central London a handful of times during rush hour and that was enough. This isn’t just London, but in a lot of big cities, people lose all respect for each other between the hours of 7-10 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. I’m not going to miss getting shouldered on the streets and nobody apologizing and I’m not going to miss getting shoved out of the way at a tube station so some jerk who just got there can get home two minutes earlier than me.

Every place has it’s good and bad, ups and downs, and London is no different. Though I had a few erks about living here, I think it’s clear to see that the positives more than outweigh the negatives. Take advantage of all London’s free activities – museums and parks – wander through the city’s side streets as much as possible and avoid the CBD completely at rush hour and you’ll walk away loving this city as much as me.

What are some of your favorite things about London?

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Going back in time at the Blitz Party

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, Vintage World Shopping

Going back in time at the Blitz Party

3 Comments 11 June 2013

There is no better city for a period-themed party than London. It seems to have sections that represent pretty much every era in its long history. For this reason, Ric and I felt like we had slipped back to the 1940s, long before even entering Great Suffolk Street Warehouse for the Blitz Party.

It happened as soon as we left Southwark Tube Station.

I notice two girls with Victory curls in front of us, one in a red flowing dress the other wearing a pink with fur wrapped around her shoulders. As we walk further from the station, skyscrapers and apartment complexes give way to a brick tunnel system and old pubs. It feels like we we’re entering into the shadows of a scary and mysterious time in world history, only finding relief in the gathering of like-minded people.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And there are plenty of them.

It’s hard to give a general name to the location of the venue used for our bunker for the night, but I’d describe it as a system of brick tunnels with warehouse-size rooms. It looks like a storage place for ammunition during World War II, but during the Blitz Party, its many rooms are illuminated by red light, decorated in red, white and blue flags and filled with big bands and swing dancers.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

We arrive just before 9 p.m. and head to the furthest bar at the venue as the bar in room one is already packed. There are about four of five bars set up here. While chatting at a table with Ric about how crazy this party is and wondering where exactly we are, I look up to see three girls talking at the end of our table, only lit up by a spotlight behind them. They almost look like spies. I have to remind myself where I am and what day it is, but eventually I give in.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Our room is filled within an hour. I notice a circling spotlight to the right of a stage in the room. A band takes the stage and an explosion of confetti goes off the introduce them.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The place is packed and there are soldiers spinning their ladies around and throwing their bodies in the air. Ric and I explore the venue more to find an army truck and hordes of people taking photos in it, a wall with WWII propaganda and a make up station with the Beauty Queens offering free vintage make overs to people at the party.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

We eventually find ourselves in a smaller room that’s pitch black besides a few gas lanterns hung on the wall and a bar that’s illuminated in red. As my eyes get used to the darkness, I notice couples laying together on a few cots set up in the room. We go to the bar and purchase a punch made of earl grey, orange sherbet and liquor for £7. They’re served in blue tin coffee cups.

Blitz Party

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This is a a different cocktail from those offered in the rations book at the main bars. It must be a reward for those adventurous enough to wonder through all the rooms here.

But then again, any person that would come to a party like this is already adventurous enough.

The Blitz Party is truly to feel the styles and trends of the past. They really succeeded in that affect. Be prepared to shell out a bit of money in your wardrobe for a party like this. It’s really important you come dressed for the part, because if you don’t you’ll feel pretty left out. I spent £47 on a Katharine Hepburn-inspired pants look. I did my own hair which was actually a lot easier than I thought and can be learned from watching Youtube videos.

The next Blitz Party is July 13 at the Village Underground, tickets are £20 and can be purchased on their website.

To view more photos from the Blitz Party, check out my Facebook album.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

The Blitz Party gave me press admission to review this party.

Preparing for an era party on a budget: Blitz

Blog, Destinations, England, What I'm thinking

Preparing for an era party on a budget: Blitz

1 Comment 07 June 2013

I’ve never been to a city that does throw back parties as well as London. Maybe it’s because the city has such a long and rich history, maybe they just know how to party, but I love it.

A “fancy dress” requirement is regular at private parties here and the themes are always so interesting, tarts and vickers anyone? Plus, dress up parties aren’t just for private gatherings, there a common affair at locations all over the city.

Last month I visited the Belle Epoque Party in Shoreditch, dedicated to late 19th century Paris, and I really don’t think I was completely prepared for it. I didn’t realize how much people dress up for themed parties here and honestly couldn’t afford to do it myself. It’s something quite special for 20-somethings to still embrace dress-up as much as they did at four and this time I intend to play the part.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to the Blitz Party, a 1940s-themed party in a bunker just in time for D-Day. Times obviously were not great in the world back then, but style was, and I have a pretty good idea of how to dress for this party, without breaking the bank.

1940s girls

Photo: Young Red Violets

Hair

First thing’s first, when it comes to dressing up for a 1940s party: it’s all about the hair. For this era, you could get away with doing just your hair to fit the part and keeping everything else pretty simple. Victory curls are the most well-known 1940s look, so that’s what I am going to go for. There are some well-known vintage hair stylists in London, like La Belle Jolie in Crystal Palace, but I’m going to give this a go on my own, so I can splurge on a dress. All you really need to do is Youtube 1940s hair to find a few looks to choose from then and learn how to do it yourself.

Make up

Luckily, this step is fairly easy for my party’s era. Dark eyebrows, simple eye makeup, red lips and maybe a flick at the end of your eyelids with wet liner. Plus at the last era party I attended they had vintage make up artists, The Beauty Queens, on site giving complimentary makeovers. So I’m going to leave myself a bit blank in hopes of that. If all else fails, think WWDD (What would Dita do?).

1940s make up

Photo: Chlo-beau make-up

Dress

One complaint people might have about visiting an era-themed party is that they have nothing to wear.

This is my problem as well.

No, I don’t just carry a 1940s vintage dress with me around the world, but I would like to. I’ve chosen to invest in this, because I know I’ll wear it again. It’s very trendy right now and I love the look anyway. Luckily, there is no shortage of vintage stores in London. I’m going to head to Carnaby Street and Portobello Market today as well as hit some second-hat shops along the way. I’m looking to spend no more than £60 on my dress and I’m not too fussed whether or not it’s actually vintage, but they are a good place to go for inspiration. Time Out has a great listing of vintage stores in London. 

Moves

Other than creating a dance to “Zoot Suit Riot” by the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in my friend’s basement when Swing was a fad in the 90s, I have no idea how to dance for the 1940s and just realized the meaning of that bands name… I don’t think it really matters that much, but it would be cool to show up with some moves. Returning to Youtube, practice these dance techniques while getting ready for the night.

By tomorrow you should be look mighty spiffy! Looking forward to seeing how my look is actually going to turn out and of course going to the Blitz Party tomorrow night. Are you going? What did you do to complete your look?

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Creating their own genre of entertainment: Wam Bam Club

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, The Arts and Cabaret

Creating their own genre of entertainment: Wam Bam Club

6 Comments 06 June 2013

A seven-man jazz band playing swing music at the entrance, a complimentary glass of champagne after receiving my ticket and two big-chested men smiling and offering me a Lindt chocolate in red wrapping, I knew I was in store for a different sort of cabaret as soon as I arrived at the Bloomsbury Ballroom last Friday.

At the Wam Bam Club, you don’t just watch a show, you’re a part of it.

The set up of the show, entertaining guests and interacting with them from the start, invites you to join in. The seating arrangement in the ballroom and the way the show is carried out actually gives you the chance to.

With an art deco interior design, the Bloomsbury Ballroom has one main stage at the front and the Wam Bam Club adds another to the middle. Small tables and chairs border the room. You’ll have to get cozy with your neighbor and the performers, as it’s a packed house, but you’ll want to as one of them is the bubbly and hilarious Lady Alex.

“These are my cabaret bitches,” she screams as an even number of male and female sex pots, known as the Wam Bam Buff Boys and Wam Bam Belles, run down the middle of the ballroom and surround her on stage.

Wam Bam at Bloomsbury Ballroom from Lady Alex on Vimeo.

The show just felt laid back and inclusive of all interests from the start, but I didn’t really think about why, just went with it. At intermission I talked to someone at my table about the show and she mentioned how she noticed it was a lot different from most burlesque and cabaret, because it wasn’t just women taking off their clothes, but also yummy men.

Mysterious and cutesy burlesque acts by female bombshells are matched with a sailor-themed double striptease to “In the Navy” by two buff men, which ends in nothing but skin and soap I must add.

Further, Lady Alex, the MC and show creator, is a woman, which is another major difference to most cabarets. (Note, there are several other amazing women that make up the burlesque and cabaret scene in London, whether it be in their performance or creativity. In fact, I’d say there are more women in the industry than man. I only notice by this statement that I’ve not seen any female MC’s in London or in performances around the world. It was something different at Wam Bam Club in my experience.)

It doesn’t seem like the Wam Bam Club is trying to make a stand. They’re just having fun the best way they know how. That’s the biggest impression this show leaves. Laugh, leave your worries behind and never take yourself to seriously.

This is clear by how many comedy acts are offered in the two-hour show. It starts with the fabulous Bunny Galore. In a blond wig and red dress, the drag act sings, “When you’re good to momma,” and the entire audience replies, “Mama’s good to you.”

Then there’s Ninia Benjamin. Dressed in Primark clothes, not one sequin, you wonder what she has to do with cabaret as she comes to the stage. The loud-mouthed comedian lets it all out and will have you laughing so hard her non-burlesque wardrobe won’t matter by the end of her routine.

“I’m a dirty fucking bitch,” she warns everyone within minutes of hitting the stage. That’s apparent with her sex lessons that include Kit Kat references.

But the definite highlight for me came with the show’s headlining act, Up and Over It. The duo may have cleaned their act up for America’s Got Talent, but they held nothing back for the Wam Bam Club.

“This is what happens when Irish dancing goes a little bit tits up,” Lady Alex says before introducing them.

Their performance starts with just one woman and one man sat at a table with two open bottles of booze. Black eyes on both of them, ripped-up clothes and wild hair, they look as though they’ve been on a three-day bender.

The male part pours an obvious white powder across the table and snorts it, only to be outdone by his female counterpart. This “Anything you can do I can do better” persona continues as they go back and fourth with an incredible tap dance routine, first done only by hand but then taken to their feet.

Smoke surrounds them from the powder on the table as they stare furiously at each other and wait for the other to mess up during the strenuous routine. Neither does. In fact, their flawless. They take a few swigs from their bottles, carrying on with one hand, without even flinching.

The show ends with a Marie Antoinette-like extravaganza. Lady Alex is at the center of it, wearing a boat around her waist that shoots confetti. She’s surrounded by the Wam Bam Buff Boys and Wam Bam Belles.

It’s grand, fabulous, hilarious, beautiful, flawless and colorful. It’s not just cabaret or comedy or dance or burlesque, it’s a genre unto itself. It’s Wam Bam Club.

The show doesn’t end when the performers leave the stage either. The Top Shelf, the seven-man swing band mentioned at the start, take to the stage along with DJ Earl of Ealing and the floor opens up to the crowd for the show’s after party. 

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

General admission costs £25 and includes a free glass of wine and seating at shared tables. For £35 you’ll receive a complimentary glass of wine again and find seating at private tables closer to the stage. Plus, they provide seating for groups in the sofa area. You can also pay £10 to enter only for the after party. Their next show at the Bloomsbury Ballroom is Friday, June 28, but they also perform every Saturday at Cafe de Paris. All tickets can be purchased on their website.

Wam Bam Club offered me press admission to review this show. All opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

A day in London if money wasn’t an option

Destinations, England

A day in London if money wasn’t an option

2 Comments 30 May 2013

When Expedia asked me to write about what I would do in London if money wasn’t an option, I have to say I jumped at the chance. Traveling the world for three years straight comes at a price, so I’ve always kept my budget very low, opting for hostels and shabby huts instead of suits and villas.

I wouldn’t have the past three years any other way, but I’d be lying if I told you my mind didn’t wonder when we pulled up to lush resorts on tours or visited posh restaurants, only for drinks.

How would it feel to travel luxuriously? Where would I go? What would I do?

There’s no better city to answer that question than London. Home to royalty and the world’s most expensive residential building, people in England’s capital city know how to spend it and for one day in my imagination, I do too.

Wake up in comfort

I wake up so engulfed in pillows, I can’t even see Ric. Pastel, floral drapery covers the windows and a tea pot sits next to my bed stand. I feel like I’m staying at a manor in the country side, but jump out of bed and rip open the curtains to remind myself I’m not.

Looking down at the River Thames and the Eye, I see the city I’m set to conquer today, London.

Ric opens his eyes and screams, “Ahhh, this is so nice.”

He takes over all the pillows in the bed and I get ready for the day.

After a long bath in our one bed river view suit, I snuggle into a complimentary robe and slippers and jump back into bed.

“Wake up Ric,” I say.

“I can’t get out of bed,” he replies.

“You have to,” I say. “I want to see London.”

After a half and hour of opening his eyelids and dancing around the room, too giddy to sit still, we’re both finally up and dressed, ready for the day.

Walking through the checkered lobby, I think of all those before me who have done the same. Churchill. Sinatra. Monet. When it comes to hotels, I’m a sucker for the old, prestigious pads. That’s why I chose The Savoy.

The Savoy London

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Tea, Dinner and a show

We stop by concierge at The Savoy and ask them to schedule us in for tea at the The Dorchester at 2 p.m. and dinner at The Ivy at about 10 p.m.

“But I hate tea,” Ric says.

“You can’t visit London and not go for tea,” I reply.

Steven, whose helping us out a concierge, smiles and laughs at us.

“I can plan that out for you,” he says.

“Do you think you would be able to find us tickets to The Book of Mormon,” Ric asks him.

“Oooh,” he says. “I will try.”

Tickets to this show by the creators of South Park are the hardest to come by at the moment.

“In case, I can’t find them, any other requests for the theater tonight,” he asks.

“We’ll leave that up to you Steve,” Ric replies.

We exchange smiles and salutations and Ric and I exit The Savoy and walk a few minutes for breakfast at Simpsons in the Strand.

Rolls Royce London

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Breakfast and London’s best view

Two full English, four glasses of bucks fizz and two cups of coffee later and we’re out the door. Ric spots our ride first. We hired a chauffeur for our visit to take us around in a black Rolls Royce. We met him when he picked us up for Heathrow yesterday.

“Morning Jim,” we say.

“Morning guys,” he says. “Where to?”

We look at each other and reply in unison, “The Shard.”

“And don’t spare the horses,” Ric adds, laughing to himself.

We’re both suckers for good views and there is no better one than London’s highest sky scraper. Building on The Shard completed in 2012 and its 69th and 72nd floors are now open to the public. From the top of The Shard, we look for our room at the hotel and point out Big Ben, Tower Bridge and other popular spots in the city.

“I really hope Steve can get tickets to the show,” Ric says in the lift down.

“I wonder what I should wear,” I reply. “Can we go shopping?”

Ric looks at me hesitantly then smiles and nods yes.

The Shard

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Higher than high street

We meet Jim outside the building and tell him to go to Savile Row. There isn’t enough time for a bespoke suit for Ric, specially tailored suits that the street is known for. Luckily Gieves & Hawkes has a few suits in store that fit Ric and look great. He chooses a bright navy single-breasted suit with a skinny black tie. They keep it to tailor some specifications and promise to send it to our hotel by 5 p.m.

Next stop is Harrods. Ric stays behind me nodding, no and yes to things I pull off the racks. After choosing 10 dresses, I head to the fitting room and Ric sits down on one of the chairs just outside.

Ric gives me sort of yes looks for every dress until the seventh one. His eyes light up.

“Bob,” he says. “That’s the one.”

It’s a black lace number by Burberry. Unlike usual, I actually agree with him on this one. They wrap it up and we’re back in the car en route to The Dorchester for tea. We opted for the Vintage Afternoon Tea on the Balcony. Ric lets me eat all the smoked salmon and I let him have all the coronation chicken, because we both know that’s each other’s favorite. I drink all the tea, and he the champagne. Since we have minor food comas, we ask a woman at the front desk if the spa can fit us both in for massages. Luckily, she says they can.

We leave The Dorchester two and a half hours later, feeling like putty. Slightly buzzed and completely relaxed.

Savile Row

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Preparations for the night

Jim drops me off at La Belle Jolie in Crystal Palace for my vintage hair and makeup appointment. Ric heads back to the hotel for a nap. I return to the hotel just after 6 p.m. Ric is in front of the bathroom mirror shaving. His suit is hung up in an open armoire.

“Ric,” I say. “What do you think?”

“Wow,” he says. “I have such a pretty girlfriend.”

I smile and kiss him.

I call room service and order a two Bloody Mary’s.

“So what happened with the tickets,” I say as I slip into my new dress.

Ric steps out of the bathroom and says, “He got ‘em.”

“Yes,” I yell.

We look out the window, him in his suit, me in my dress, drinks in hand and cheers to a great day. The show is incredible. Dinner is even better. We bump into Gordon Ramsay and Ricky Gervais, just like in Extras and finally return to the room just after midnight. We jump into bed and exhale.

What a day?

That’s how I would spend a day in London if money wasn’t an option, how would you?

All the places chosen for this post were picked by me, but it is brought to you by Expedia.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Borough Market Photo Essay

Destinations, England, Other, Photography

Borough Market Photo Essay

6 Comments 17 May 2013

Roasted duck sandwiches, wild boar and black truffle ravioli and freshly made chai, there is no better place in London to tour the tastes and smells of the city than Borough Market.

Somehow I always end up here on my days off. Maybe it’s old world look of the market, which is located under London Bridge. Maybe it’s the cultures that come together and share food here. Maybe it’s the different foods and free samples. Yea…it definitely has to do with the last possibility mentioned.

Even though I’ve visited here at least a hundred times, I always do a quick tour of the market before deciding what I want. Usually full off samples after my overview, I’ll make the effort to squeeze a cheese sandwich or lamb sandwich in my stomach. The food is that good and vendors that friendly.

Enter from London Bridge and you will be bombarded with vendors selling an array of meals for lunch. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Like posh grilled cheese. The line for this cheese sandwich stand with specialty cheeses stretches around the market entrance. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Watch as your fresh oysters are prepared in front of you. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Plus, there’s something for everyone, even vegetarians. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Head deeper into the market and you’ll find mushrooms in every way imaginable, from wild to liquidated into white truffle oil. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And olives… Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And cheese…Free samples, anyone? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Not just fresh food, but beautifully decorated, like this elephant cookie. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I especially love the classic chalk board signage. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And again… Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Though signage isn’t really necessary. Most can just let their noses lead the way. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Of course, there are pies! Maybe just one for later. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Have you ever been to Borough Market? What did you think? What’s your favorite market in the world?

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

A three day London tour highlighting the city’s free attractions

Destinations, England, Guides

A three day London tour highlighting the city’s free attractions

3 Comments 10 May 2013

I’m the biggest dork when it comes to travel. Ever since I was little I’ve been an aspiring Danny Tanner, itinerary printed out for everyone traveling and heavy knowledge of every stop on the tour, even at Disney World.

Sometimes I think I like planning trips even more than actually taking them and recently I’ve come to the conclusion that the very best possible job for me in travel would be to design tours and itineraries.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned about Unanchor from Clare Auchterlonie, known as @restourist on Twitter. She was a huge help when it came to planning my road trip around western USA and in the process she passed along some of her own Unanchor travel guides.

Basically, the company allows people to create tour guides and self publish. But they’re very hands on with what gets published on their website. Cat Crews, a member of the Unanchor team, was with me every step of the way to offer tips and advice to making my itinerary the best it could be.

Which brings me to the point of this post!

I’ve just published my first itinerary for the website, London for Free :: Three-day Tour.

Walking to Big Ben from St. James’s Park. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

As you might all know by now, I adore London. I’ve lived here twice and both times have spent ridiculous amounts of time just walking the city. I don’t know what it is about walking here, but I could do five miles without even realizing it, because there are so many random things along the way to keep me distracted.

I love touring the city with no destination in mind and discovering alleyways or sections I never knew about. Loads of miles later and several tours for work and pleasure and I know I have a pretty good grasp on the city’s layout, history and best attractions, most of which are free.

The guide includes detailed maps to help you on your walking tours. Map created by Bobbi Lee Hitchon using Google Maps

I’m always amazed at how many free museums, events and activities there are in this city. I think it’s something people don’t realize when planning a trip here, because all you hear about London is how expensive it is.

Well, it doesn’t have to be.

My three-day tour is designed so that you don’t have to pay a dime while touring. I point out museums and activities that are free and take you on walks pointing out sights that you’d have to hire a guide to know about. I even show you where to find free comedy, theater performances and food, as well as how to get into places that normally charge admission, like St. Paul’s Cathedral, for absolutely nothing.

The V&A is one of many free museums mentioned in my tour. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The tour includes a major attractions like Shakespeare’s Globe, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, as well as lesser known places to visitors like The Wallace Collection and Regent’s Canal. Every stop includes a historical description, so you’ll learn about the culture of the city and its past every step of the way.

I also include affordable food and drink options for lunch and dinner and an index with everything you need to know about visiting London.

Dim sum in Chinatown anyone? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

London, for me, is the best city in the world, so I would love for people, on any budget, to find out why. This guide is especially good for summer, so I hope people get to enjoy it in summer 2013. Click the link in the widget below to have a look.


Powered by Unanchor.com

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

A chaotic meeting of artists at The Bride and the Bachelors

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, The Arts and Cabaret

A chaotic meeting of artists at The Bride and the Bachelors

No Comments 10 May 2013

Ric and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to modern and contemporary art. I am fascinated by it and even if I don’t like some pieces, I always do like to learn about the concept behind it.

Ric gets frustrated and says, “Why is this art?”, which I’m sure is a lot of people’s reactions to some of the things that go on display and sell for millions on auction. So as you would imagine, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain is mentioned often in conversations we have when I drag him to galleries.

Visitor looks at the work Fountain (1950 replica of 1917 original) by Marcel Duchamp. Photo Felix Clay 2013

The Dada icon questioned the same thing in 1917 when he turned a porcelain urinal upside down, signed it R. Mutt and submitted it to be displayed for the Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. They rejected it, but Duchamp’s ‘readymade’ would make history anyway and influence plenty of artists to come, which is the basis of The Bride and the Bachelors, an exhibition available until June 9 at the Barbican.

The exhibition is the first to explore Duchamp’s legacy by tracing his interactions and exchanges with composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

To me, it sounded like the perfect exhibition and one I’ve actually thought about with other artists in the past. See for me, it’s the history of art and minds involved that’s usually more interesting than the work at hand. Unfortunately, this exhibition was a bit too much to take in and while at times I was intrigued, I also spent a lot of my visit flustered and confused.

The exhibition is organized to start with a room dedicated solely to Duchamp’s most influential work. On display in the first room is Fountain (1950 replica), Nude Descending Staircase and The Bride Stripped Bare of by Her Bachelors, for which the exhibition is named.

I was giddy when I walked into this room, because works I had read so much about were right in front of me. However, where I went wrong with this exhibition was trying to see it all during Dancing around Duchamp.

As I mentioned at the start, this exhibition traces Duchamp’s legacy not only to visual artists but also those in music and dance. So the Barbican dims down the lights on the exhibition for Dancing around Duchamp every Thursday from 6:30-8:30 pm and over the weekend from noon-5pm. During this time dancers from London Contemporary Dance School and Richard Alston Dance Company take to a white stage centered in the exhibition to perform Merce Cunningham’s Events, which is a dance version of Duchamp’s ‘readymades’, while John Cage’s experimental music plays in the background.

Dancers perform Merce Cunningham choreography in the exhibition. Photo Felix Clay 2013

Imagine that going on while trying to look at art and read about what can be a very intricate exhibition at times.

It was too much.

From the start I was doomed. While trying to read the introduction, I heard three voices in the background of the music and feet hitting the floor in the room next door.

If I could do it again, I would have visited the exhibition before Dancing around Duchamp to see all the visual art and read the associations between all the artists on display. Then after a short break, come back to see the dance and music performance, because it was beautiful. The dancers were amazing and it’s a very original concept to see a performance like it in an art gallery, but I just felt to overwhelmed to take it all in properly.

I wanted to carry on seeing the exhibition, which is spread out over two floors, but I also wanted to see the dance and felt really torn. I started to wonder if this is the sort of affect Duchamp would have wanted from a viewer.

Rooms in the upstairs area of the exhibition focused on tracing Duchamp’s influence and interactions with the four other artists included in this exhibition. By seeing how many works paralleled to works by Duchamp all at once, I felt a full grasp of his contribution to the art world and how different his thought process was compared to everything that was going on at the time.

How Duchamp used chance to create works like 3 Standard Stoppages and musical scores like Erratum Musical and how this idea was incorporated into dance routines by Merce Cunningham. How they used chess, a game Duchamp played often and incorporated into his work, to explain the interactions and exchanges between the four artists and Duchamp. John Cage even composed a musical notation called Chess Pieces after meeting Duchamp for the first time.

Visitor looks at the work Door 11, rue Larrey (replica) (1964) by Marcel Duchamp. Photo Felix Clay 2013

The relationship between all these men is more than influence, they met, they worked together and probably bounced ideas off each other. Jasper Johns and Merce Cunningham actually collaborated on a theatrical performance called Walkaround Time, which was inspired by Duchamp’s The Large Glass. You’ll see Walkaround Time orbiting the dance floor on the first floor.

And all these artists continue to inspire. French contemporary artist Philippe Parreno designed the exhibition and layout of all the pieces it includes.

I always wondered what it would be like to be in a room with artists from the Dada and Surrealist movements, just to hear what they said and what kind of conversations they had. They’re minds must have been so out there to create things before anyone in the world could have even imagined anything close. I would think the talks would be enlightening, profound and quite chaotic, which this exhibition definitely demonstrates.

The Bride and the Bachelors is on display at the Barbican until June 9. Purchase standard tickets online for £10 and at the door for £12.

The Barbican granted me press admission to see this exhibition. All opinions are my own.

Sexy starlets and sinister stunts at Proud’s Twisted Voo Doo

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, The Arts and Cabaret

Sexy starlets and sinister stunts at Proud’s Twisted Voo Doo

2 Comments 09 May 2013

The smile almost had me fooled.

Escaping London’s financial district to the dark, smokey basement cabaret called Proud, my friend Bobbi and I were greeted by the cutest host. A big smile and kind words at the door, he led us to our table right next to the stage and threw in a few naughty jokes along the way. In case we were wondering, he warned us before leaving the table.

“I’m going to get a lot worse than this ladies,” he said.

A couple sits together in the smokey Proud Cabaret lounge. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The he, is Joe Morose. Once a manager at Proud, this natural performer now plays cabaret compere at the venue. The current manager said Morose hopped up on stage one night and has held the position since then.

Joe Morose opens the show with The Beatles ‘Come Together’. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Morose wasn’t joking either. He kicked off the show with his own rendition of The Beatles ‘Come Together’ highlighting the phrase, “Come together, all over me”. Dressed in a plaid ensemble and fascinator at the start of the night and baring down to a black corset with a full goblet of white wine in his hand by the end of the night, Morose sang his own version of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ and Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ on stage while mingling and joking with members of the audience.

Morose gets cozy with members of the Proud Cabaret audience. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

“Oh I see you got a pair of pearl knickers,” he said to a man in the crowd who was thrown some lingerie during Missy Fatale’s burlesque performance. “You might get a pearl necklace later.”

This incredible stage presence brought together a unique, new show at the famed cabaret house, Twisted Voo Doo. The show mixes traditionally cabaret strip and dance routines from the likes of Jolie Papilon with shocking and sometimes grotesque acts by Preacher Muad’dib. The multiple Guinness World record holder drills a screw into his face, blows up a condemn from his nose (that’s inserted from his mouth) and does things with fire you shouldn’t try at home, during his two performances in the show.

Jolie Papilon at spins in a pearl flapper dress. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Preacher Maud’dib isn’t afraid to use power tools on stage. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Maud’dib blowing up a condemn lodges in his throat. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Most of Maud’dib’s Guinness World Records have to do with pyro acts, he showed off a few of his heated talents at Twisted Voo Doo. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

You’ll find a nice middle ground between pure sex appeal and circus-like talents with a fire act by the classic Missy Fatale as well as a burlesque feather performance, two hula hoop routines by the absolutely adorable Lisa Lottie and two acrobatic performances on an aerial hoop by Ben Brown, during which I’m pretty sure he completely twisted his torso.

Missy Fatale is exactly what you want from a burlesque cabaret dancer, classic, flawless and gorgeous. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fatale shakes her feathers on the Proud Cabaret stage. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fatale shows off a hidden fire talent. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Lisa Lottie’s body transitions during her hula hoop acts make it almost look easy. Almost… Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Lottie can hula hoop with more than just her waist. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Lottie adds to her act with cute face gestures and smiles. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ben Brown’s flexibility and strength is shocking. I had to look away a few times. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

As you might have noticed, I’ve been going to a lot of cabarets in London lately and I was not going to bother with this one, because of that.

I’m really glad I did.

I found the usual burlesque cabaret routines at Proud to be some of the most elegant and sexy I’ve seen in the world and the performers gorgeous and charming. Plus, the cabaret house likes to be innovative with their shows, opting for something more than just the usual cabaret by adding a touch of voo doo.

Lisa Lottie walks on Preacher Maud’dib as he lies face down on broken glass. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And Joe Morose…

My friend and I came to the conclusion that we loved him just two minutes into his first routine. He’s the kind of host that could you’ll remember long after a random night out or a special occasion celebrated at Proud.

Talking to him after, he told me how he wants to create for his audience a complete escape from the finances and skyscrapers that rule the world above Proud. Walking into the smokey, dimly lit cabaret house, walls decorated with scrunched red stage curtains and feathers, then completely being entertained by a lovable little troublemaker, beautiful women with booby tassels and acts so unusual that you either have to look away or stare at without blinking, I think the cabaret and its performers have completely achieved Morose’s ambition.

The crowd at Proud Cabaret for Twisted Voo Doo on Thursday. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

General admission for the show only is £11.20 online or £10 at the door, but they sell out quite fast usually, so you’re better off booking ahead. To book at table for dinner and a show, call +44 20 7283 1940 or email cabaretreservations@proud.co.uk. Prices for a three-course meal and a show are £35 on Thursdays, £40 on Fridays and £69 on Saturdays. A few of the reviews I read about Proud complained about a 12.5% service charge. This is optional for parties under six or eight people. We noticed it too and they removed it for us.

Proud granted me press admission to cover this show. All opinions are my own.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)


Follow on Bloglovin


Powered by Unanchor.com
blogger badge (1)

© 2013 Heels and Wheels. Powered by Wordpress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium Wordpress Themes

Switch to our mobile site