Open House London

World’s largest architecture festival

There is still time to plan where to visit during Open House London September 22nd and 23rd. This year’s 26th annual event provides free admission to 800 buildings and includes talks, tours and walks, covering 30 boroughs.

Some of the iconic buildings that usually charge, include:
  • The Banqueting House
  • Design Museum
  • Mansion House
  • Middle Temple Hall
  • Museum of London
  • Royal Botanic Garden, Kew
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • The View from the Shard
For those that are willing to brave the elements, the two-day event also includes special talks and walks, including:
  • Cycle Tour of Olympic Park
  • Walking Tour of David Bowie’s Beckenham
Best of all it is all free - so grab a family member or friend, download the app and be one of the 250,000 that participate!
www.openhouselondon.org.uk

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Zip Line Across London

Birds eye view of London

Last year's summer pop-up at Archbishop’s Park is back. Here’s your chance to catch Zip Now (formerly Zip World London), the world's longest and fastest city zip line before it closes September 9th.

You will begin by climbing up 115 feet (more than 9 double decker buses!) where you will enjoy unparalleled birds eye view of London’s skyline. Attractions include Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Eye and The Shard.

You will then travel 225 metres (738 feet) at speeds 50 kph (31 mph). This year, there are three ziplines located side by side so family and friends can ride together. Also, new this year is the Mega Drop. For £10 more, instead of walking down a flight of stairs, you can take a 15 metre (49 feet) freefall down.

Conveniently located within 10 minute walk from London Waterloo, this is a thrilling start or end to a day in London. Book on-line for discounts, including special prices 2:30 – 5:30 pm weekdays. No experience or previous training required – just a sense of adventure!
www.zip-now.co+44 3300 583477
Carlisle Lane, Lambeth, London SE1 7LE


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Pilot's Hub & Hanger

Brasserie and coffee house adjacent to historic 1930s hanger

With the temperatures cooling down, it is a perfect time to visit The Pilot's Hub. The brasserie and coffee house is located adjacent to the historic 1930s Redhill Aerodrome. Beginning in 1937, Redhill featured an Elementary Flying Training School that continued until the beginning of World War II. Through the course of the War, it served as a Royal Air Force Station for deployments of fighter squadrons and used by support units.

Today, Redhill offers a range of commercial aviation services, including aircraft maintenance, flight training, along with helicopter and charter services. Seating is first-come first served, with exception to holidays (we made the mistake of making a trip there on Father's Day without a booking*).  Only a runway separates guests seated on the deck from the planes.  Alternatively, bar height seating inside is a perfect for viewing planes taking off and landing. The food is homemade, including made-to-order burgers, sandwiches and cakes, with bread and pastries from Chalk Hills Bakery.

Be sure to take a walk to the loos*. The route passes through the hanger filled with plans, including a historic G-ABWP Spartan Arrow, the last one in existence from 1932. The Pilot's Hub is worth the drive for a leisurely bite!
www.pilotshub.co.uk+44 2086 529027
Hangar 9, Redhill Aerodrome, Redhill, Surrey RH1 5JY


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Summer Exhibition

World's longest display of contemporary art

There is still time to catch the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) Summer Exhibition which closes this Sunday, August 19th. Founded in 1768, the Summer Exhibition is the world's longest running annual display of contemporary art. The committee for the 250th anniversary display is chaired by Grayson Perry, English contemporary artist known for his ceramics and tapestries. 

Hung by RA artists, each room is as unique as the pieces within them.  The works range from monumental pieces by well-known artists such as Joana Vasconcelos' Royal Valkyrie to small-scale pieces by first-time exhibitors like Nicholas Allan's On.

Even the medium used to create the art invites visitors to take a closer look – from El Enatsui's Change of Fortune made of bottle tops sewn together with wire to Lee Cutter's Prison Culture made of etched bars of prison issue soap.

  
With over 1,300 pieces of art selected from 20,000 entries, some rooms are literally filled floor to ceiling with pieces of art. The casual, collage-like display draws an audience that is as diverse and interesting as the artwork itself.

Gallery III with its bright yellow walls even features a gin bar where traditional drinks like London Cup (similar to Pimm's) and snacks are available for purchase. With this addition, it is no surprise that there is truly something for everyone!
www.royalacademy.org.uk+44 2073 00800
Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD


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War Horse Returns

UK Tour until April 2019

Winner of 5 Tony awards, War Horse, is famous for its larger than life puppeteering. Based on Michael Morpugo’s 1982 children’s novel by the same name, it is about an army horse named Joey and efforts by his original owner, Albert, to bring him home after World War I.

The book was adapted to the stage by National Theatre in 2007 and had a successful 8 year run on West End. Since then, War Horse has been performed in 11 countries to over 7 million people. The play has become an integral part of British history with Joey making appearances at the Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee celebration.

As part of its 10th anniversary year, War Horse is touring the UK. In Surrey, the play runs August 1-18 at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. General tickets £22.40 - £59.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee), Theatre Card members £19.50 - £55.50
www.atgtickets.com+44 8448 717627
Ambassadors,Peacocks Centre, Woking GU21 6GQ


War Horse returns to National Theatre on November 8th to mark 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and runs through January 5, 2019. All matinee performances £15 – £52, Friday and Saturday evenings £18 – £67 and Half-price tickets for under 18s

National Theatre will also host a number of special events and talks, including:
"Writer Michael Morpurgo on War Horse" Tuesday, November 20th at 5.45 pm
"Inside the Horse: Exploring the War Horse Puppets" Thursday, November 22nd at 5:45 pm
www.nationaltheatre.org.uk+44 2074 523000
Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX


Don't miss your chance to see War Horse again or for the first time!

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V&A Museum

World’s largest museum of art and design

The Victoria & Albert Museum, commonly referred to as V&A, features 145 galleries covering over 12.5 acres in London. The permanent collection of over 2.3 million items includes jewelry, paintings, sculptures, textiles and everything in between.

Like other British museums, entry is free – with exception to temporary exhibitions. It’s these innovative exhibitions where the V&A truly shines. The curators bring a fresh take or creative twist on ancient crafts and materials, such as their Fabric of India and Pearls exhibitions; examine how artists of the past still influence us today Botticelli Reimagined; or create landmark exhibitions that challenge assumptions such as Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty and Frida Kahlo : Making Her Self Up.


The McQueen exhibition was the first and largest retrospective on Alexander McQueen.  It became the most popular V&A exhibition with a record attendance of over 480,000 people. Whether you saw the exhibition, missed the exhibition or frankly don't even know who he is, the documentary McQueen is a colourful and fascinating account of one of Britain’s top fashion designer complete with family home movies, intimate interviews of those close to him and footage from fashion shows. Playing now in theatres
www.mcqueenfilm.co.uk


The Kahlo exhibition displays a collection of 200 items, including clothes, letters, makeup, medications and photos – the majority found in a bathroom of Kahlo’s Blue House unlocked 50 years after her death. This is the first time the items have been on display outside of Mexico. Not surprisingly, this much anticipated exhibition has been featured in numerous store windows. Tickets are free for members, £15 for non-members. On until November 8th

Annual membership to the V&A is £70, includes free entry to all exhibitions, previews and access to Members’ Room and priority booking for events. There are few memberships that pay for themselves with just a few visits!
www.vam.ac.uk+44 2079 422000
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL


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Jo Downs Glass

Seas of inspiration

Based in Cornwall, Jo Downs is one of the world’s most well-known fused glass designers. She specializes in handmade, original coastal-themed wall panels and art frames. Her unique designs have earned her corporate commissions from churches to cruise liners to hotels – as well as private commissions. Opened in 2014, the Jo Downs Handmade Glass in Ripley is home to her only major gallery outside of Cornwall.

In addition to fused glass drop-in workshops using brass, copper and tin, they offer frit (broken glass) workshops. After a short demonstration, you will have time to design your piece. Using literally every color under the sun, draw inspiration from a beautiful array of gift and interior pieces around you or create something completely your own.

We each made a small ‘vase’ (perfectly sized tealight holder) for £25. It was remarkably easy and we were all pleased with the end result. Coasters, larger vases and square framed pieces are also available to make. Fusing with Frit workshops are now conveniently offered on Sundays twice a month.

Even if you decide you are not up to making something – there are countless number of custom coastal-inspired gifts available for purchase too!
www.jodowns.com+44 1483 225742
Teulon House, High Street, Ripley, Surrey GU23 6AY


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Beaverbrook

Quintessential English luxury country house hotel

Located less than 20 miles outside of London and set on 400 acres between Leatherhead and Dorking, Beaverbrook is the quintessential English luxury country house hotel complete with golf club. Prior home of Lord Beaverbrook, legendary newspaper publisher (Daily Express and Sunday Express)and one of Britain’s most influential 20th century leaders.

The Garden House features 11 bedrooms and a British-Italian inspired restaurant, while the Main House has 18 bedrooms and a Japanese restaurant headed up by Maruyama Taiji, former Nobu chef – not surprisingly some of the best sushi we have had. Fresh ingredients for dishes are sourced from the Kitchen Garden.

Enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the 1920s inspired Parrot Bar or on the terrace of the late-Victorian mansion that boasts stunning views of the Surrey Hills. Rooms are named after famous guests including Winston Churchill, Joe and Rose Kennedy, Rudyard Kipling, Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth Taylor and are creatively and tastefully decorated by Susie Atkinson, designer behind Soho House.

Amenities aside, the staff could not be friendlier and customer-service focused – a treat in and of itself. With onsite cinema, cookery school, private dining options and tennis courts – along with health club, pools and spa to come, you may find the most difficult choice you have to make is whether to go home or not!

www.beaverbrook.co.uk+44 1372 571300
Beaverbrook, Reigate Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8QX

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Farnham Antiquing

As much as I try to save select Tuesday mornings for Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park and Sandown Racecourses, there are times these dates don't work or it is simply too cold, wet or lately even hot to go. A visit to Farnham does the trick:

The Antiques Warehouse — Located on a farm, the two large Elizabethan barns are full of wall-to-wall (literally!) antique treasures.  Items include vintage furniture, garden items, household decor, jewelry, paintings and more.  If you have attention for detail, like the thrill of the hunt and/or have a good decorative eye, this is the place for you.  There are countless items  all with potential for the right buyer.  

The owners could not be friendlier or more helpful.  It is no wonder that episodes of the popular BBC Antiques Road Trip have been filmed there.  As a bonus, on weekend afternoons and bank holidays they also have live piano music and serve homemade cakes, coffee and tea.  
www.theantiqueswarehouse.com+44 2034 411688
Badshot Farm, St. George's Road, Runfold, Farnham, Surrey GU9 9HR

PackhouseIf The Antiques Warehouse is a bit reminiscent of your grandmother's attic, then Packhouse is like visiting your shabby chic aunt. Voted Surrey's Best Interiors 2018 and located in close proximity to The Antique Warehouse, Packhouse lives up to its motto of "lose yourself amongst beautiful things.

There are 60+ modern to vintage vendors that decorate various sections throughout the 400-year old Grade II-listed multi-level building.  Despite visiting multiple times, I find myself turned around — apparently others do too and they have a handy map you can pickup next to the till by the entry.  Conveniently located next door is a gastropub, Bears which is open for light bites, lunch and even dinner.

www.packhouse.com+44 1252 781010
Packhouse, Hewett's Kilns, Tongham Road Runfold, Farnham GU10 1PJ

The only downside (if any) is I rarely leave empty-handed!

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Kids Week - Kids Eat Free

Top picks of where to eat

The Kids Week promotion has expanded to 35+ theatre district restaurants. During the month of August, Kids Eat Free when accompanied by an adult. Can't beat that!

Bodean’s BBQ Smokehouse — If you’re in the mood for Kansas City barbeque ribs in London, here’s your place. Become a member and Kids Eat Free Saturdays and Sundays with purchase of main and drink.
www.bodeansbbq.com+44 2039 00444
25 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JS

Duck & Waffle The £15 for Mighty Duck Deal includes a duck dish (choice of burger, satay, jam doughnut or their signature Duck & Waffle dish), fries and drink. www.duckandwafflelocal.com+44 2039 00444
52 Haymarket, St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RP


Inamo The £24 for 4 dishes from Pre-theatre Set Menu can be viewed through digital projections on you table surface. Change the tablecloth, order, watch chef and play retro games with a swipe of your finger. Kids enjoy either an Apple Gyoza & Caramel Ice Cream or a Candy Floss Garden with chocolate tree on crushed Oreo for dessert.
www.inamo-restaurant.com

Leicester Square Kitchen — The £20 for 3 dishes or £25 for 4 dishes Pre-theatre Set Menu is a mix of Mexican and Peruvian small plates. The dishes are perfectly portioned and flavorful.
www.leicestersquarekitchen.co.uk +44 2076 660902
31-36 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LH


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Kids Week - Free Tickets for 16 and Under

Tickets on sale June 12th

Kids 16 and under go free to shows in August with a full price paid adult ticket (and two additional children can go half price). As a bonus, some shows include free activities and workshops, including acting, dancing, meet and greet and Q&As.

While Book of Morman and Hamilton are not on the list, there are 40+ other shows to pick from, including:

  • Aladdin
  • Bat Out of Hell
  • Chicago
  • Dreamgirls
  • Kinky Boots
  • Les Misérables
  • Lion King
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Matilda
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • The Play That Goes Wrong
  • Thriller Live
  • Wicked
  • Young Frankenstein
With no booking, postage or transactions fees – this promotion is particularly popular and tickets sellout fast.  Tune in next week for the best pick of theatreland restaurants where Kids Eat Free.  Now that's the ticket!
www.kidsweek.co.uk

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Terrace Dining

With the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures, it is the perfect time of year to explore the Surrey’s footpaths and of course enjoy outside dining along the way.

Kinghams Restaurant (Shere) — Kinghams Restaurant is located in the quintessential English village of Shere. The restaurant dates from 17th century and is known for quality seafood, fresh produce and fine wine. The garden is in bloom throughout the summer and there is a bonus of heated gazebo in case the forecast should change.
Fancy Free, Shere Village and Little London Walk 3-1/2 – 4 miles
www.kinghams-restaurant.co.uk+44 1483 202168
Gomshall Lane, Shere, Surrey GU5 9HE


The Refectery (Godalming) — Originally a cattle barn, The Refectory in Godalming has been successfully repurposed to a pub restaurant. In addition to the stunning interior wooden beams and fireplace, the terrace is the place to be when the sun is shining. The menu changes daily and features both traditional and international dishes. Along with ales and wine, they also feature a substantial whisky menu.
iFootpah, The Refectory and Milford Common Walk 4 miles www.brunningandprice.co.uk/refectory+44 1483 413820
Portsmouth Road, Milford, Godalming GU8 5HJ


The Withies Inn (Compton) — The Withies Inn is a 16th century pub restaurant located in Compton close to the famous Watts Gallery. While the inside is a step back in time with its low ceilings and lighting, the outside boasts a long, lush pergola for alfresco dining. The menu is traditional British fare and the portions are generous — best to go when you have time to enjoy a leisurely meal.
Fancy Free, Compton, Surrey : The Withies Inn Walk 2-3/4 miles
www.thewithiesinn.com +44 1483 421158 Compton, Guildford, Surrey GU3 1JA

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Royal Seal of Approval

Favorites you can enjoy too

Just before the Royal Wedding, I headed to Windsor to get a glimpse of pre-wedding preparation along with visiting the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The large Royal Warrant Holders Association Pavilion marquee caught my eye with its array of wedding memorabilia by Halcyon Days (finebone china) and Daniel (Windsor department store).


A Royal Warrant of Appointment can be made by HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and/or the Prince of Wales to businesses who have supplied highly quality goods or services for at least five years. Those granted a warrant are responsible for displaying the relevant coat of arms of the Royal Family member.


There are currently 800 Royal Warrant Holders. Once an application is accepted, royal warrants are issued for five years. To say the least, companies are motivated to maintain this distinction. In the case of Jaguar Land Rover, Pimm’s and Tabasco (yes the popular Louisiana sauce), it is clear what products are Royal family favorites. 

On the other hand, it is hard to know which specific products at high-end stores like Fortnum & Mason (department store) and Penhaligon’s (perfume house) are favored by the Royal family – complicated by the fact it is not customary for Warrant Holders to disclose this information.  

What I do know is my future trips to Boots and Waitrose will feel just a bit less mundane!


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Four Flower Finds

Perfect Mother's Day Gifts May 13th
Treat Mom to some of the best flowers in the world

Chelsea Flower Show (London)Put on by the Royal Horticultural Society, this is one of the most famous flower shows in the world. The show runs May 22-26 and features everything from over-the-top show gardens to smaller, more intimate one. If you don't manage to get a ticket, there will be window displays celebrating the 60s and 70s and the upcoming royal wedding as part of Chelsea in Bloom that coincides with the Chelsea Flower Show dates.
www.rhs.org.uk+44 8452 605000
Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4S

Hampton Court Flower Show (East Molesey)If Chelsea isn’t enough, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 3-8) is the world’s largest annual flower show covering 33 acres and takes 3-5 hours to take it all in.  Luckily, the small village of East Molesey boasts quite a few antique shops, boutiques, independent stores and a surprising number of good places to eat— in case you need a break before heading back for more or visit Hampton Court Palace in the same day.
www.rhs.org.uk+44 2031 666000
A308, East Molesey KT8 9AU

Kew Gardens (Richmond)Officially known as Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is London's largest UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts the world's largest glasshouse with the largest most diverse plants in the world. The Temperate House re-opened this weekend after a 5 year, £41 million restoration — take the time to get a birds eye view of the House and the gardens on the the Treetop Walkway 18 metres* up.
www.kew.org ✆ +44 2083 32565
Kew Green, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE

The World Garden (Kent) — Located on the grounds of Lullingtone Castle, one of England's oldest family estates, The World Garden is the UK’s first garden of its kind. The Garden featuring plants from around the world is the brainchild of modern day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke. You may recall hearing about Dyke in 2000 when he was kidnapped in the Panama on a plant hunting expedition. Following his release, Dyke wrote the best-selling book The Cloud Garden and opened the World Garden to the public in 2005.
www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk
+44 1322 862114
Eynsford, Kent DA4 0JA


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