The first time I visited London was on a school trip. It was a 9 hour journey on a packed School bus with 30 other teenagers who were just as excited as I was. I remember being in awe of the city and how alive It was; it was one of the best places in the world… that was then. I’ve since re-adjusted my childhood rose-tinted goggles and know differently. It’s still a fun place and I enjoy working/visiting it, but I can see why people who live there might not enjoy it all the time.
I try and visit at least once a year for a reason that’s not work-related, as a holiday, to visit people and see as many shows as I can afford. Here are the highlights of my trip this year in pictures:
One of the oldest food markets in London, dating back to 1410, this place smells like heaven. A bustling, busy market with stalls displaying food both international and local. A pie and mash stall just 5 paces down from a ramen street food stand. Red wine soaked Italian cheese across from slabs of sourdough. This place has it all.
Shake Shack (Late Night Food)
A US burger chain that's growing internationally. They have 7 UK locations, only one of which is outside of London (Cardiff). I went after a show and was told how amazing it was by an American who loved it so I went in with high expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The best way to describe it is: It’s like if 5 Guys had an older less greasy brother. The chips were lush and the burger was tasty without making me feel disgusting in the way that greasy food sometimes can.
Pizza Pilgrims (Dinner)
If I’m not sure where to eat or I’m looking for recommendations I trust, I look to GastroGays. I asked for good pizza places in central london and they recommended Pizza Pilgrims. With 7 locations across central London this joint is one of the hottest tickets for fresh pizza, smooth wine and friendly service. The time between ordering and food service was astounding: they get less time on countdown. Perfectly cooked, tasty pizza in minutes with deep fried mac and cheese on the side. Delicious.
We stayed by Kings Cross and just behind where we stayed there is a large, stone warehouse that we later learned was a grade two listed Victorian grain store that been turned into quite a cute hipster brunch place that is bursting at the seams with avocado… it's what Queen Vic would have wanted. We stumbled upon it on our way to somewhere else and were glad we did. Nice coffee and contemporary menu that wasn’t too pricey; well worth a look.
Admittedly, it's the 4th time I’ve seen the show. However, it was the first time I’d been in the second row. As always a stellar performance and being close enough to the the whites of their eyes was fun and particularly spectacular during Defying Gravity.
My second time seeing the show and we were literally walking past and just checked for tickets on the hoof and decent tickets were available at a reasonable price. In all honesty, I wasn’t keen on seeing it again but as soon as I sat down and the show started I remembered how much I had enjoyed it. I ended up loving it and being glad I went.
To be fair, it was a matinee. To put the experience into a sentence, it’s as if Disney did panto without the fun of being able to shout out. With this show you’re paying for the spectacle, dancing and the costumes. Mind blowing staging and family friendly fun.
Another last minute purchase; so last minute we didn’t even consider that we would be getting Amber Riley. Hands down one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen on a stage. A cast so slick and precise you would accuse them of witchcraft and vocals so hot they could boil water.