Downtown 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.
www.byfleetmanor.com
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.
www.bachmanns.co.uk

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.
www.hummingbirdbakery.com

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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.
www.londonfashionweekfestival.com
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.ftmlondon.org+44 2074 078664
    183 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF

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

Main
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.
www.inamo-restaurant.com
+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


Dessert
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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Big Ben Alternative

Where to visit while tours have been suspended

Climbing Big Ben is one of the must do activities and limited to residents. Unfortunately, tours have been suspended while the Clock and Tower are under repair until it reopens again in 2021.

So if you haven’t been, don’t have that long to wait or have visiting guests –
The Monument to the Great Fire of London is a perfect alternative. Designed by famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren (who also designed St. Paul's Cathedral), The Monument is the world's tallest column.

Standing 202 feet high, it is located 202 feet from where the Great Fire is said to have been started. After climbing 311 steps up a spiral staircase (only 23 steps less than Big Ben), you'll enjoy panoramic views of the city and given a certificate as a memento of your ascent before you depart.

The Monument offers joint tickets with Tower Bridge where you can visit both attractions for £12/adult and £5/child (to climb The Monument itself is just £4.50/adult and £2.30/child).

As an added bonus, the joint ticket is valid for seven days so you can visit each attraction once during this time-frame – ideal for taking in two of London's most popular attractions and landmarks.

www.themonument.info+44 2076 262717
Monument Street, London EC3R 8AH

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