Honor & Happiness

Go hand in hand

During my parents’ most recent visit to J.C. Dragon Top Elementary School in a remote area of Sichuan Province, China, they were fortunate to participate in some of the preschoolers week-long activities and teachings around moral virtues. Dragon Top was built by my family in 2003 to honor my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. T.C. Chao.

One central theme for the week was 孝, or filial piety. Filial piety means to be good to and to take care of one's parents by showing courtesy, love, respect and support. This includes honoring your family name throughout your parents’ lives as well as your own.

It is hard not to be drawn to the children at Dragon Top. The girl pictured in the middle of the photo seems to have taken the lesson quite enthusiastically! The symbolic gesture of holding two fingers up with the palm outward is a sign of happiness and positivity in Chinese culture.

A portion of the proceeds from the London via Surrey book app goes to support Dragon Top. Thank you readers and subscribers for helping me honor my family and for providing these children with valuable life-long lessons!

Warmest wishes to those you hold dear;
And look forward to returning with posts in the New Year!

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Christmas Markets

3 markets in under 2 hours

With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, everything feels a bit more rushed than usual. Where to find last minute gifts, while steering clear of traditional shops and enjoy a bit of festive fun at the same time:
Start at Waterloo Station and walk 5 minutes to Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre (Until December 30th) — Conveniently located by Waterloo station, 50 wooden chalets dot the river as part of Southbank Centre's Winter Market. In additional to gift vendors, the market features food of all types from traditional bratwurst and mulled wine to fried chicken and vegan street food. There are opportunities to warm up in a Finnish sauna located in Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace or Jimmy's Winter Lodge located on the riverside.   
Walk 19 minutes to Leicester Square

Leicester Square (Until January 8th) — For the second year, the heart of Leicester Square is transformed to a Christmas market featuring 25 stalls of savory and sweet treats along with a variety of handcrafted and unique gifts.  Take a break from Christmas in Leicester Square shopping to visit the grotto or watch a show in the vintage spiegeltent (Dutch for 'mirror tent').  Produced by Underbelly, there is a wide range of shows to enjoy for all different age groups.  
Walk 20 minutes to Waterloo and take 29 minute Southwest Train to Kingston and walk 5 minutes to Kingston Market

Kingston Market (Until December 31st) — Since the 1200's, Kingston Upon Thames has been home to an Ancient Market. During the holidays, the number of stalls more than doubles to 75. The layout of the market is based on the Berlin Christmas market — the largest in Germany.  The market includes two outdoor bar areas along with German-style street food and cuisine from around the world. New this year is Candy Cane Forest complete with entertainment, rides and other fun for kids.

It is also worth stopping in at the Eden Crafts Marquee located on All Saints Parish Church Green and The Market House located in the middle of the Ancient Market Place.  With so many shopping choices, it is no wonder that Kingston is on track to become the largest towns hosting a Christmas event in the UK.    

The walk at and between markets will keep you warm and justify the mulled wine and other holiday treats you'll encounter along the way!

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London Light Trail

5 Stops in 45 Minutes

London is truly magical during the holidays — catch some of the best lights and decorations the capital has to offer in less than an hour:

Bond Street — Bond Street is known for its luxury shopping and is considered one of the most expensive streets in London. Chanel, Dior, Hermès and Louis Vuitton are just a few of the exclusive shops that line the street. It is no wonder that the area truly sparkles.
Walk 22 minutes to Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street — Popularized in the 1960s, Carnaby Street continues to be known for its fashion-forward concept and independent shops. Not surprisingly, the themed light display is creative and non-traditional. This year's theme, Carnival, is as colorful as the history of the street itself.
Walk 4 minutes to Regent Street

Regent Street — Often referred to as the mile of style, Regent Street features 75 flagship stores from around the world. The tradition of Christmas lights dates back to 1882. This is the second year the Spirit of Christmas theme of 300,000 LED lights has been on display.
Walk 7 minutes to St James Market

St James's Market — St James's Market is an up and coming shopping destination featuring concept restaurants and stores. Conveniently located in West End, it is tastefully lit up along Jermyn Street.
Walk 13 minutes to Covent Garden

Covent Garden — Popular with tourists, Covent Garden's piazza is again decorated in a mistletoe theme this year. There is also an enormous Christmas tree and a lit reindeer in a sleigh. It is hard not to get into the holiday spirit here.

While the route itself will take you 45 minutes to walk, it doesn't take into account all the photo ops along the way!

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Oldies but goodies

Five of the oldest places to eat and drink in London that are still worth going to today:

Beigal BakeOn Brick Lane there are two bagel shops near to each other. They both serve made-to-order salt beef sandwiches on fresh baked 30 pence bagels. We tried Beigal Bake, London’s oldest bagel shop. Like many of the locals, we’ve been going ever since.
+44 2077 290616
159 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB

Borough MarketDating back to the 10th century, Borough Market boasts the oldest fruit and vegetable market.  Today, it is one of the best known markets in the country with over 100 quality food stalls. The full market is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm (there is a limited market on Mondays and Tuesdays) and on Saturdays beginning at 8 am. The best time to visit is at lunch to sample products from traders.
www.boroughmarket.org.uk+44 2074 071002
8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL

Gordon's Wine BarGordon's Wine Bar is the oldest wine bar in London (and possibly the world) where Rudyard Kipling once lived.  The bar has managed to maintain its original decor over the years, including an an underground wine cellar lit by candles and an outside terrace.  They feature a well-priced, award-winning wine list and their food includes a selection of over 20 cheeses.  They operate on a no reservation policy — so get there early or get a party of 8-10 together to book 'The Cage'.  As the winner of the 2017 Best Bar of the Year Award, they are obviously doing something right!
www.gordonswinebar.com+44 20793 01408
47 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NE

RulesLocated in the proximity of Covent Garden, Rules is one of London's oldest and most famous restaurants.  The restaurant is known for its traditional British menu (specializing in game, oysters, pies and puddings) and impeccable service.  Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier and HG Wells are just some of the famous actors and authors who dined at Rules and have their portraits displayed on the walls.  
www.rules.co.uk+44 2074 071002 
35 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7LB

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese — Considered one of London's oldest pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was popular among the literary set.  Dickens, Doyle, Tennyson and Twain were among the authors who frequented the pub.  The series of small, cozy rooms are steeped in history and full of atmosphere.  It is definitely worth a a stop for a pint and a bite to eat.
+44 2073 536170
145 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2BU

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Thanksgiving Day

Celebrate in and around St Paul's

St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most famous landmarks. The Grade 1 listed building sits on the highest point of the City of London and the dome of the Cathedral is one of the highest in the world.

In addition to daily services, St. Paul's hosts special services throughout the year. The annual Thanksgiving Day Service will take place November 23rd beginning at 11 am. The service is free and no tickets are needed.

St Paul's connection to Americans dates back to 1903 when JP Morgan donated funding to provide electricity in the Cathedral. When the American Memorial Chapel within the Cathedral was damaged following World War II, the British people raised funds to have it replaced and it was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958.

The Cathedral will open for sightseeing beginning at 1 pm following the service. Introductory 15-20 minute talks on the history and architecture of the Cathedral and guided 90-minute tours (Typically 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 2 pm daily, including areas not usually open to visitors) can be booked at the guiding desk. Both are included at no extra cost of your admission.

While at St Paul's, there are two picturesque views from and of St Paul's Cathedral worth taking in. Climb 528 steps up to the Golden Gallery of the Cathedral for breathtaking panoramic views Shakespeare Globe, Tate Modern and the Thames.

Also, close by you can take lift* to the terrace of One New Change, a retail and restaurant building. Here you have a chance to enjoy a stunning unobstructed view of St. Paul's Cathedral from 6 am - midnight at no charge.
www.stpauls.co.uk+44 2072 468350
The Chapter House, St Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD

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Countdown to Christmas

Creative Calendars for less than £20

Gone are the days of advent calendars filled only with pieces of chocolate.  While extravagant ones fill the shelves of high-end stores, there are ones that are equally fun and frivolous for a lot less:

BeanBoozled (£15) — BeanBoozled popular Russian Roulette candy game has been made into a Naughty or Nice? calendar.  The advent calendar features 24 packages of randomly mixed jelly bean flavors.  The tasty (and not so tasty) combinations, include: buttered popcorn / rotten egg, caramel corn / moldy cheese, chocolate pudding / canned dog food and tutti fruitti / stinky socks to name a few.  Only for those that are up for a dare!

Kellogg's (£4) — Kellogg's has released the UK's first breakfast calendar.  The limited edition Variety Advent Calendar features '24 bowls til' Christmas' and is only sold in Tesco stores.  The pack includes classics like Coco Pops, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and more.  Considering my parents wouldn't buy us sugary cereals growing up — I have a feeling I am more excited by this one than my kids are.

Mad Beauty (£19.99) — There are 24 mini beauty gifts in all.  The set includes one compact, eye liner and lip liner, two blushers, eye shadows and lipsticks along with five lip glosses.  It even has numerous applicators, brushes, decals and more — everything you need to fill up a makeup bag.  

Wax Lyrical (£19.99) — Wax Lyrical's Night Before Christmas Calendar features 24 tea lights and tea light holder.  Their popular holiday fragrances Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh, Toasted Cinnamon and Vanilla and Cranberry are included.  With combined burn time of 150 hours, this set will last throughout the holiday season. 

Last, but not least is the world's first Cheese Advent Calendar (£8) featuring 24 individually wrapped cheeses and sold by ASDA.  Flavors include Applewood, Jarlsberg, Mature Cheddar, Red Leicester and Wensleydale varieties.  So far I haven't had luck getting my hands on one let me know if you do!

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Remembrance Sunday

Poignant Poppies

Remembrance Sunday (November 12) is held on the second Sunday in November and honors members of the armed forces. The official national ceremony takes place at Whitehall in London. The ceremony includes two-minutes of silence at 11 am, representing the eleventh hour in which World War I came to end. 

Traditionally, the Queen lays the first poppy wreath. However, this year Prince Charles will perform this duty, while Her Majesty and Prince Phillip watch from a balcony. Other members of the Royal Family, key political leaders and representatives from the armed forces will also lay wreaths.

Nearly a century later, the red poppy remains a popular symbol of remembrance. During World War I, red poppies grew and flourished throughout the war-torn countryside. The flowers were featured in the famous 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ written by a Canadian Doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after losing a friend in battle.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly...

His poem inspired American, Monia Michael and French woman, Anna Guérin to make and sell red silk poppies — interestingly they were first sold in the US to support disabled veterans. In 1921, the Royal British Legion held its first ‘Poppy Appeal’ and sold nearly 9 million poppies to support World War I veterans. The following year, The Poppy Factory was established and continues today to employ disabled veterans to produce millions of poppies a year.

The Poppy Factory in Richmond offers free 2-hour tours. The presentation covers the history of 
the factory and includes a visit to the production floor where wreaths for the Royal Family along with millions of other remembrance products are made by hand. You will also have a chance to help the charity make paper poppies — particularly popular this time of year. 
www.poppyfactory.org +44 2089 391837
20 Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6UR

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Bonfire Night English Style

Festive Fireworks & More 

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot...

Bonfire Night (November 5) commemorates the anniversary of the failed plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Ironically, Guy Fawkes was not the ringleader of the plot. However, Fawkes was the one found in the cellar of the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. 

Traditional Bonfire Night food and drink, includes Parkin Cake and Mulled Wine. Parkin is a traditional sticky oat, spiced cake (somewhat of a cross between gingerbread and sticky toffee pudding). With the cooler temperatures, mulled wine is one of my favorite winter warmers. Mulled wine is usually made with red wine that is heated, spiced and sweetened.

Of course, the highlight of the national holiday is fireworks  representing the gunpowder. With Bonfire Night falling on Sunday, there will be fireworks (you have likely heard them already!) leading up to and through the weekend. The biggest fireworks shows in London and Surrey are:

Alexander Palace (London) — The Ally Pally’s Fireworks Festival will take place Friday and Saturday. In addition to fireworks, the festival includes a bonfire, family area, DJ / live music, German bier festival and parade. Advance Tickets: Adult £8, Child £6.
www.fireworks.london+44 2083 652121
Alexander Palace Way, London N22 7AY

Imber Court Sports Ground (East Molesey) — Fireworks Live takes place Sunday and features a fireworks display, bonfire, DJ / life music and fun fair. Bonfire 6:30 pm, Live music 7 pm, Fireworks 7:30 pm.  Advance tickets: Adult £8.50, Child £4.50, Family £20.
www.fireworkslive.co.uk+44 2034 411688
Imber Court, Ember Lane, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 0BT

Even if you don’t have a chance to go to a fireworks show, you can set off your own at home. Unlike the US, which limits fireworks to holidays and rural areas, the UK allows fireworks (including those of the aerial and explosive varieties) year-round and in many parts of the country.

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Spirit of Christmas Fair

800+ independent boutiques under one roof

With each passing year the signs of the holidays seem to arrive earlier and earlier.  The Christmas shops of both Harrods and Liberty opened in early September and it is not uncommon to see Christmas and Halloween decor located within the same aisle.

As a matter of principle (and a bit of denial too), I cannot get on board with the trend of holiday shopping until at least the end of October.  The Spirit of Christmas Fair in London running October 30 through November 5 has figured this out.

While it may not be as charming as fairy-lit, traditional holiday markets and comes with an admission fee, there is something to be said of having over 800 vendors displaying their wares, complimentary masterclasses and interactive workshops and tastings too  all indoors no less!

The Food Hall located upstairs features independent artisans, including Royal Warrant holders and Great Taste award-winners along with exhibitors new to the Spirit of Christmas fair. If you have the time, take a break from festive shopping at a sit-down restaurant Mosimann's, royal caterers and private dining club, or enjoy a glass a champagne at one of the Louis Roederer Champagne Bars.

Book tickets in advance to receive 20% off admission. Also, your November 2 - 5 Spirit of Christmas ticket also gains you entry into the Luxury Travel Fair presented by Condé Nast Traveller.
www.spiritofchristmasfair.co.uk+44 1483 229136
Olympia Grand, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX.

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Half-Term Halloween Specials

Beyond pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating

With Halloween falling on a Tuesday and during half-term, there are more activities than usual over the weekend and even after Halloween itself. Here are three unusual ways to celebrate:

echo7 Recording Studio (Ewell) — Kids 9 to 16 can dance, sing or just chill out at echo7 Recording Studio. They have full use of a professional recording studio with 4,000+ songs to choose from complete with disco lights and microphones (including ones used by stars like Michael Jackson for Thriller and Taylor Swift). The two-hour session for up to 10 is £10 / person Monday - Friday (minimum £50) and £15 / person Saturday or Sunday (minimum £75). Extras like UV lights and paints, chocolate fountain with dips, pizzas and music video can be added. The Studio is open beginning at 8 am, parents can choose to stay or dropoff and best of all no need to worry about the weather!
7 Rosebery Parade, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2EJ

Edible Cinema (Multiple) — Intrigued by the idea of seeing and tasting a film at the same time? When you get to your cinema seat, there will be a tray of small numbered boxes that are to be opened at specific times during the film. The menu is based on an interpretation of what is happening on the screen. The team behind the creative menu includes experimental chefs, food designers and mixologists. Past films include Grosse Point Blank, Trading Places, and When Harry Met Sally. Just in time for Halloween, Beetlejuice makes a return screening October 31 and November 1 at select Everyman theatres in London. Tickets are £35 and includes Bombay welcome cocktail, eight bite-sized canapés / mini cocktails.

Skywalk Adventure (Esher) — Located at Sandown Sports Club, Skywalk Adventure features two treetop adventure courses, including bridges, swinging logs, tightropes and zip wires landing into nets. The minimum age is 8 years and minimum height is 1.3 metres tall. There is an on-site cafe with hot pots, salads, sandwiches, snacks and wraps along with a fully stocked bar. They will be open extended hours October 26 - 31 as part of their SPOOKtacular Skywalk experience complete with supernatural sightings.  For a less Scary Skywalk adventure, they will be open as usual during the daytime. Admission is £15 for kids and £20 for adults for both courses (over 40% off regular prices). Booking by October 22 required.
www.skywalkadventure.co.uk +44 1372 701107
Sandown Sports, More Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AN

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Mix it up

Making fitness fun again

Let's face getting older means it is much harder to maintain (much less lose) weight. Four ways to have fun trying:

Anti-gravity Yoga (Godalming) — The Fitness Hangout was the first studio in the UK to feature this New York City craze.  If you want to learn how to fly, flip and invert — this is your chance.  Using a silk hammock it combines traditional yoga poses and principles with elements from aerial arts, dance, gymnastics, Pilates, and calisthenics.  As well as being fun, it’s a complete workout that is certain to get you in shape while realigning you — we walked away an inch taller and smiling.
www.thefitnesshangout.co.uk +44 7779 110773
14, Woodside Park, Catteshall Lane, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1LG

Clubbercise (Multiple) Clubbercise® is one of the fastest growing workouts in the UK – burning up to 500 calories in 45 minutes. It combines simple, fun routines set to 80s, 90s and today’s hits. It is aimed at all abilities with high and low impact options — whether you are a beginner or a fitness fanatic. It is fun if you are a bit shy too — the main lights are turned out, disco lights go on and flashing glow sticks add to the fun. You’ll leave feeling you like you had a night out on the town without hangover or headache!

Paddleboard (Sunbury-on-Thames) — If you are looking for for a new challenge while enjoying the review landscape, this is worth a try.  Fortunately, the board was remarkably stable and I quickly found a sense of calm and focus&nbsp – different from that of being in a studio. The session included an introduction to paddle boarding, paddleboard yoga and core yoga moves.  Be prepared to work your core and experience a bit of an adrenaline rush from being just a little scared too.

Parkour (Multiple) — Originating in France, this is a form of fitness training that improves strength, speed, agility, coordination, stamina, endurance and precision. Parkour became popular after the famous jump scene in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Learn how to overcome obstacles as quickly and efficiently as possible using your body. They also boast the UK's first dedicated parkour centre in Canary Wharf. All you need is a pair of tennis shoes and a sense of adventure.
www.parkourgenerations.com +44 2036 513364

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The Legend of Silent Pool

Award-winning Surrey Hills gin

We first came across Silent Pool, a spring-fed lake, while hiking the Surrey Hills. It is located at the foot of North Downs on the Albury Estate just outside of Guildford.

Legend has it that a woodcutters daughter who regularly bathed in the Pool is said to have drowned while being pursued by none other than King John.  It is said even today you can sometimes hear her screams at night or see her image floating on the surface of the water.

Fast forward to 2014 and the filtered spring water taken from the Silent Pool is used to make handcrafted Silent Pool Gin.  The recipe also calls for 24 botanicals  four of which come from the North Downs area, including chamomile, elderflower, honey and pear.  Apparently, they developed a winning floral blend as evidenced by a silver award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition just after its launch in 2015.

Beyond the gin itself, the botanicals are beautifully featured in cooper on the teal blue bottle (similar to the moss in the pool itself). Even if you are not a gin lover, it is hard not to be drawn to the bottle once the gin is gone you can just add water. 

The company offers 90-minute tours of their distillery complete with tasting session.  While the legend behind Silent Pool will remain a mystery, it is clear that the success of Silent Pool Gin will not.

www.silentpooldistillers.com+44 1483 229136
Silent Pool Distillery, Shere Road, Albury, Surrey GU5 9BW

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Downton Abbey Fans

Who knew that the historical period drama, Downton Abbey, would become such an international hit? The award-winning show became the most watched television series in the world by its third season. Access two famous filming locations:

Highclere Castle (Newbury) — Despite Downton Abbey ending after six seasons, Highclere Castle, used for exterior and most of the interior shots is still open to the public. Tickets book up quickly. However, they have a limited number of 'walk-up' tickets on each Public Opening day. I haven't known anyone who hasn't been able to purchase these. It is worth a try - even if it means seeing the 'country house' set on a 5,000-acre estate at a distance.
www.highclerecastle.co.uk+44 1635 253210
Highclere Castle, Highclere Park, Newbury RG20 9RN

Byfleet Manor (West Byfleet) — Located closer in is Byfleet Manor, also known as Dowager Violet's house in the Downton Abbey. Book afternoon tea in the Downton Room, the Drawing Room of Lady Violet. The traditional tea includes a selection of homemade finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and selection of cakes and pastries. Our visit included a talk about the filming that takes place there and a walk around the gardens, complete with a river and island.
Byfleet Manor, West Byfleet, Surrey KT14 7RS

For the ultimate Downton Abbey fan, both venues now offer opportunities to stay overnight!
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Fondant-Free Cakes

Shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss have popularized the use of fondant icing (also known as sugar paste). While the cakes look amazing, I find myself picking the icing off to be able to eat the cake on its own. For cakes that taste as good as they look, visit:

Bachmanns Patisserie and Chocolate Creations (Multiple) — The award-winning cakes at Surrey-based Bachmanns 'taste gorgeous and looks stunning'. The display case is always filled with beautiful and tasty individual desserts (particularly helpful if you are indecisive or just want to try more than one). If you find something you like, they can be adapted to feed large parties of 70+ for special occasions. Other items made fresh and onsite include breads, chocolates, croissants and pastries.

Choco Cake (Weybridge) — A Weybridge newcomer, Choco Cake makes unique cakes, chocolates and pastries.  Daily cake selections include carrot, lemon, Malteser and orange and almond.  Our favorite is passion fruit cake - available by special order only.  Other treats include chocolate bark, bars and hot chocolate spoons.
10 Baker Street, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 8AU

Hummingbird Bakery (Multiple) — This famous bakery bills itself as baking ‘authentic American cakes and desserts’. Indeed the portions are US sizes. They have huge cupcakes with black bottom and red velvet varieties being family favorites.  Red velvet is also available as a full-size cake.  The colorful six-layer rainbow cake topped with chocolate or vanilla whipped icing is a perfect addition to any celebration.

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London Fashion Week Festival

London Fashion Week (LFW) is one of the highest profile fashion events in the world and one of the ‘big four’ (New York, London, Milan and Paris). 

London Fashion Week is limited to members of the press, buyers or if you are a celebrity. However, tickets for London Fashion Week Festival September 21-24, which follows directly from LFW, uses the same exhibition and catwalk venue. The event features expert talks and designer shopping event, including emerging to high profile designers. You can also add 'catwalk' shows and a designer tote bag. Go to soak up the atmosphere and inspire your wardrobe with the latest trends before they appear on the high street.
The Store Studios, 180 The Strand, London WC2R

More fashionista fun:
  • The World of Anna Sui (Fashion & Textile Museum) — For the first time an American designer is featured as part of a retrospective exhibit.  Anna Sui was named one of the "Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade" and awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).  The exhibition runs through September 30th.
  • www.ftmlondon.org+44 2074 078664
    St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
  • Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion (V&A Museum) — This exhibit highlights the work of Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. Balenciaga is considered a master couturier of high standards and admired by fashion icons, including Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. Over 100 pieces are featured in the exhibition that runs until February 18, 2018.
  • www.vam.ac.uk+44 2079 422000
    Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

7 Scrumptious Soho Stops

Conveniently located in London's theatre district

Clustered over a few blocks on Warder Street, there are good places to eat that do not require a lot of time.

Starter (or for a light meal)
Hummus Bros No reservations needed for this establishment just walk-in and be seated family style at their Soho location. Hummus is served with a range of toppings from chicken and falafel to beef and aubergine - all served with fresh pita bread.  Nothing fancy just excellent, healthy and filling. Enjoy!
www.hbros.co.uk+44 2077 341311
88 Wardour Street, London W1F 0TH

Princi— This location in London is the only one outside of Milan. Think Italian bakery and pizzeria of the Ottelenghi variety – glass cases full of focaccia sandwiches, pastas, and pastries. The cafeteria style service works well for a quick bite before or after the theatre*.
www.princi.com+44 2074 788888
135 Wardour Street, London W1F 0UT

Inamo — Inamo is considered London's only interactive restaurant where guests control their dining experience.  The digital projections on your table surface can be changed with a swipe of a finger, including selecting a tablecloth, ordering, watching the chefs and playing retro games.  The Asian cuisine meant to be shared includes award-winning fresh sushi.
+44 2078 517051
134 - 136 Wardour Street, London W1F 8ZP

Pho — Pho is London's first Vietnamese street food restaurant and has grown to include locations throughout the UK.  Their authentic dishes are made fresh and in-house.  Their famed Pho (rice noodle soup) dish is served 15+ ways and is accompanied by basil, chili, lime and other items so you can season to your own taste.
www.phocafe.co.uk+44 2074 343938
163-165 Wardour Street London W1F 8WN

Wahaca — Mexican street food selections include burritos, quesadillas, tacos and tostadas. The portions are a bit on the small side so you may need to order more than one, a starter or a drink. My favorite location is still the Southbank location one located in large, reclaimed shipping containers, including a take away* option below with picnic table style seating.
www.wahaca.co.uk+44 2077 340195
80 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TF

The Hummingbird Bakery — Hummingbird Bakery bills itself as baking ‘authentic American cakes and desserts’. Indeed the portions are US sizes. They have huge cupcakes with black bottom, cookies and cream and red velvet varieties being family favorites.  You can even have them delivered to your door.
www.hummingbirdbakery.com+44 2078 511795
155a Wardour Street, London W1F 8WG

Snowflake Luxury Gelato — Winners of 25 Great Taste gold stars, the largest gelato bar in London has as its motto 'serving happiness'. They have 50+ flavors of Italian gelato and sorbets all made daily depending on what is available and freshest. Even gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free versions of some of their flavors are available.
www.snowflakegelato.co.uk+44 2072 471045
102 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TN

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