Best of 2022, Part II

Top 10 posts — Part II

The best of the best from 2022

5. Kids go free in August— Tickets on sale June 14th

4. Best shows and seats from £10 — Best ways to get budget-friendly West End tickets

3. London Loop — 2 hour and 15 minute loop from Waterloo Station

2. London for (Book) Lovers — London boasts some of the biggest and most unique bookstores

1. Quintessential English afternoon tea — For less than 30 quid and conveniently located by some of London's most popular landmarks
Loads to do inside (and out) for 2023!

Best of 2022

Top 10 posts — Part I

With covid at bay, posts about about large-scale celebrations and other days out got the most attention:

10. Egg-straordinary Easter Hunts— At a castle or palace that also happens to be a popular filming location
9. Teas fit for a Queen — Celebrate 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign with a Platinum Jubilee Tea

8. Garden, Glamour & Buckingham — Day out for £35

7. Last minute Valentine's gifts — . . . that aren't flowers

6. Celebrate Chinese New Year— Starting January 31st

Best of 2022 — Part II will feature the best of the best from 2022.

12 Best Advent Calendars

Festive fun to fit every taste and budget

From books, chocolates, and toys to beauty, beer and cheese, these advent calendars starting at £8 to less than £100 (or less than 50 pence — £4.25 per day), are sure to please:

£.50 or less per day
Disney Storybook (£8) — The 24 books includes adventures of 101 Dalmatians, The Lion King, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, and more.

Monty Bo Jangles (£9.99) — This advent calendar filled with six different chocolate truffle flavors (3 flavors in the vegan calendar).

£1 — £1.50 or less per day

Mini Brands (£19.99) — This collector’s item features the most popular minis from previous Mini Brand Series and 4 never-before-seen minis.

LEGO® (£21.99) — 24 buildable treats from LEGO® City, and Friends to favorite characters from Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter.

T2 (£22) — Sip the Future Hello advent calendar includes either 24 individually wrapped tea bags or packaged loose leaf teas.

Bonne Maman (£25.99) — Everyday enjoy a different jam, marmalade or spread, including unusual combinations such as apricot with bergamot and pineapple with yuzu.

Chuckling Cheese (£34.99) — Say 'Merry Cheesemas' with 8 different wheels of cheese, including a limited edition and a mystery one.

~£2.50 per day

BrewDog (£59.95) — Features 24 beers, including core, headliners, new, seasonal and advent calendar exclusives along with a special glass.

Biscuiteers (£60) — The keepsake advent tin includes 24 festively decorated vanilla biscuits of bears, birds, cats, crocodiles and more.

~£3.50 per day

John Lewis (£85) — Wine advent calendar with 24 mini 187 ml bottles of red, rose and white wine.

Less than £4.25 per day

L'Occitane En Provence (£99) — Contains 24 of their best-selling body, fragrance and skin care products worth £132.

Master of Malt (£99.95) — Their Premium Gin, Spiced Rum and Whiskey Explorer each include 24 30 ml glass samples from some of the world’s top producers.

Best of all — they come wrapped and ready to give!

10 Black Friday Sales

Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving holiday (fourth Thursday of the month), is considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year and has become increasingly popular in the UK. Here are just some of the retailers participating:

Accessorize — Black Friday week with 50% off

ASOS — Black Friday through Cyber Monday

The Body Shop — Up to 50% off

Debenhams — Up to 50% off fashion and home

H&M — Black Friday Week through Cyber Monday

Monsoon — 25% off everything and 50% off new lines

Sports Direct — £20 voucher for every £100 spent

River Island — 25% off for £150 spent, 20% off for £85 spent and 15% off for £50 spent

Sweaty Betty — 25% off everything with code SBSAVE

Waterstones — Half-price books

Whether you shop on-line or in-person, there are only 5 Fridays left until Christmas!

The Crown Watch Party

Nearly a year since Netflix’s season four release of
The Crown, season five will return on November 9th. Since the Queen’s passing, the original series is once again on the Netflix Top 10 list. What better way to binge watch The Crown then throwing a tea party for yourself or with friends.

Place an on-line order for afternoon tea treats to be delivered to your door:

Fortnum & Mason : The Cream Tea Selection — The picnic cooler includes Piccadilly Clotted Cream Digestive Biscuits, Giant Almond Brownie, Fortnum’s Afternoon Blend Tea and BrutReserve Champagne along mini scones, clotted cream and strawberry preserves.

Harrods : The Tea Time Treats Hamper — The wicker basket features Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits, Mixed Chocolate Almonds, No. 14 English Breakfast Tea and strawberry preserves.

John Lewis : Afternoon Tea Treats Gift Basket — Afternoon tea treats include afternoon tea bags, chocolate chip biscuits, chocolate salted caramel slab, confectionery strawberry hearts, macaroons, shortbreads, two fruity posh pops and raspberry jam.

Whittard : The Afternoon Tea Collection — Four loose leaf tea caddies with Whittard’s most popular blends accompanied by a silver-plated infuser.

Marks & Spencers : Brit Kit Afternoon Tea — Mr. Kipling Bakewell Tarts, Jam Tarts and Whirls, green scone mix, PG Tips tea bags, raspberry jam and clotted cream

In case you have difficulty selecting just one, Netflix has confirmed that there will be a sixth (and final season) of The Crown.

Ted Lasso Tour

Screenshot by Author of Amazon

The award-winning television show,
Ted Lasso was first broadcast in 2020. While the second season followed in 2021, there is no date set for the release of the third (and reportedly last) season.
To get your Ted fix in the meantime, take a 2-1/2 hour tour of Ted Lasso filming locations:

Start at Wembley Stadium
London : Richmond vs Manchester City in the FA Cup — Shots of the Richmond vs Manchester City FA Cup pregame were taken at Wembley Stadium.  A vareity of behind-the-scenes tours of the UK's largest sports and entertainment venue can be booked. 2037 639881
South Way, Wembley HA9 0WS

35 minute drive
Hayes : AFC Richmond Training Ground — Hayes and Yeading United Football Club’s training ground serves as AFC Richmond’s training ground in the show. 2085 732075
The SkyEx Community Stadium, Beaconsfield Road, Hayes UB4 0SL

40 minute drive
Richmond : Crown & Anchor — Scenes of the football team's pub and Ted's apartment were taken at The Prince's Head, a 300-year old pub a six-minute walk from Richmond Station. 2089 401572
28 The Green, Richmond, Richmond-upon-Thames TW9 1LX

1 minute walk
Richmond : Ted’s Street — A one-minute walk away is Paved Court, the street that Ted walks down.
Paved Court, Richmond, Richmond-upon-Thames TW9 1LZ

30 minute walk
Twickenham : River Thames — The River Thames scene where Twickenham Rowing Club on Eel Pie Island is in the background can be viewed from Barmy Arms Pub. ✆ +44 2088 920863
The Embankment, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 3D

1 minute walk
Twickenham : Street Scenes — A one-minute walk away is Church Street where shots of Eel Pie Pub, Sheer Laser Clinic and Completely Floored are included in the series. Mojo at 43 Church Street was converted to the Dolls of England Shop.
Church Street, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 3NR

35 minute drive
London : AFC Richmond's win in Everton  — Historic Craven Cottage, home of the Fulham Football Club, served as the backdrop for AFC Richmond’s win at Everton. Tours of Craven Cottage are available 11 am – 3 pm.

Can’t wait to BELIEVE again in 2023!

Rail alternative

As inflation continues to rise and lack of wage increases for workers, rail strikes are likely to continue. Here are some ways to get around London and get some sightseeing in too:

...By air
Emirates Air Line — The temperature controlled cable car 90 metres (300 ft) is higher than than the O2 Arena Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. The 10-13 minute (5 minutes 7 am - 9 am Monday - Friday) ride offers birds eye views of London and starts at £5 / adult and £2.50 / child.

...By Land
Routemaster Bus
 — Take the Number 11 bus starting at Liverpool Street Station and ending at Victoria Station. The route takes approximately an hour and goes by many of the major landmarks including Bank of England, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. A fun and affordable way to see London!

Tally Ho!
Take the 3-1/2 hour Landmarks & Gems tour on a traditional British bicycle complete with ding-dong bell and wicker basket. The leisurely ride stops at Lambeth Palace, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, London Eye and Covent Garden Market to name a few.  Ride up to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, view the Household Calvary, visit a top historic pub and unleash your inner-Banksy by ‘tagging’ London with spray paint.

...By water
London Waterbus — The traditional narrow boat on the Regents Canal has is celebrating 60 years of service and stops at Camden Lock and Little Venice. The Waterbus and one way fares from Camden Lock and Little Venice start £14 / adult and £10 / children. Booking online is suggested - especially on the weekends. 2037 639881

Uber Boat — In 2020, Thames Clippers partnered with Uber and officially became Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.  It is the fastest and most frequent boat service on the River Thames with 17-stops starting at Putney Pier to Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier. Major attractions along the route include Big Ben, London Eye, Shakespeare Globe, St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London to name a few.

Last, but not least, while London now covers more than 600 square miles, the original City of London (nicknamed the 'Square Mile') covers just 1.12 square miles. The perfect size to travel . . .

...By Foot
London Loop — This loop with 30 stops begins and ends at Waterloo Station with food stops, free views and countless photo ops along the way. It takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes or 15,000 steps (if you are counting).

Download the Citymapper app and just go!

Quintessential English afternoon tea

For less than 30 quid

Once upon a time, you can have the full afternoon tea experience for £20. While these are few and far between, there are ones for less than £30. And best of all they are conveniently located by some of London’s most popular attractions:

The Crusting Pipe Wine Bar & Restaurant (Covent Garden) — Located in the heart of Covent Garden, the covered terrace is protected from the elements. Afternoon served daily between 2:30-5:30 pm.  A scone, clotted cream and preserve will only set you back £4.95. When booking request a ‘window’ table so you can watch live musical performances.
Starting at £27.95 / person, (inside Covent Garden) 2078 361415
27 The Market Building, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RD

The English Rose Café & Tea Shop (Buckingham Palace) — This independent family run café on Lower Grosvenor Place and Trip Advisor Hall of Fame honoree serves Afternoon Tea for 2 £38 (£19 for each additional person) 12 pm-5pm. The tea consists of finger sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream and jam, and a pot of tea.
Afternoon Tea for 2 £38, (7 minute walk to Buckingham Palace) 2079 766280
4 Lower Grosvenor Place, London SW1W 0EJ

The Ivy Tower Bridge (Tower Bridge) — The Ivy has a number of brasseries and cafes located throughout the UK. Their afternoon tea served 3-5 pm daily changes depending on the season. They also offer a cream tea of scones, clotted cream, jam and tea or coffee for £8.75.
Starting at £26.95 / person, (2 minute walk to Tower Bridge) 2031 467722
One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AA

Great Court Restaurant (The British Museum) — No visit to London is complete without a visit to The British Museum, The first museum of its kind in the world includes over 8 million works. Enjoy an afternoon tea break 11:30 am-5 pm complete with Earl Grey tea-soaked and Somerset butter scone and classic Cornish clotted cream.
Starting at £26 / person, (inside The British Museum) 2073 238299
Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG

Tea & Tattle (The British Museum) — Established as a bookshop in 1903, Arthur Probsthain Bookseller is one of the leading Oriental and African booksellers in the world. The downstairs tearoom offers a no-frills traditional English afternoon tea featuring loose leaf teas, homemade cakes, jams and sandwiches and just baked scones. Instead of tea for two you have the option of smoothies or coffees for two and all options come with homemade lemonade.
Starting at £24 / person, (across the street from The British Museum) +44 7722 192703
101 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QQT

The Wallace Restaurant (The Wallace Collection) — The Wallace Collection of 15th-19th century fine and decorative arts was open to the public in 1900. One stipuliaton is that no object should leave the collection and until 2019 not even on temporary loan. The indoor, light-filled courtyard is protected from the elements and a perfect break from the busy West End.
Starting at £24.95 / person, (inside The Wallace Collection) 2075 639500
Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN

At these prices you can enjoy afternoon tea more than once!

Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

September 13

In honor of one of the world’s best storytellers, Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on September 13th. Four fantastical ways to celebrate in London and Surrey:

Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre (Great Missenden) — Get a glimpse into the life of Roald Dahl and what inspired his fanciful stories and enduring characters (Willa Wonka is 58 years and counting).  Here you will find his Writing Hut left as is — including the ball of foil wrappers from the three bars he ate nearly everyday (consequently he needed false teeth at 21 — also on display!) and part of his hip bone and the handcrafted writing table finished with cloth from a pool table.  Apparently, over his 36 year writing career, he wrote exclusively with US pencils and legal pads of paper. 1494 892192
81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks HP16 0AL

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea (London) — Speaking of having a sweet tooth, One Aldwych, located across the street from the Lyceum Theatre features one of the sweetest afternoon teas and is sure to please kids or kids at heart. Special touches include a keepsake illustrated menu featuring different characters on the cover from the book. With Afternoon Tea service Wednesday – Sunday beginning at Noon until 3 pm (weekdays and 4 pm weekends) it is perfectly timed to enjoy before a 2:30 pm Lion King matinee. 2073 0010008
1 Aldwych, London 

Matilda The Musical (London)— Winner of 99 international awards, including seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical (record for the most won by a musical), Matilda The Musical re-opened at West End's Cambridge Theatre September 2021 and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in London. A Netflix film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda is set scheduled to be released in the UK on December 2nd. 2039 252998
Earlham Street, LondonWC2H 9HU

National Motor Museum (Hampshire) — While Roald Dahl was best known for his book writing, he helped co-write the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang screenplay that was made into a film. The original vehicle is included in a world-famous collection of 280+ vehicles at the National Motor Museum.

BONUS : The Beaulieu Attraction is one of the top visitor's destinations and the all-inclusive ticket includes access to The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House & Gardens, Little Beaulieu, Beaulieu Abbey, The Secret Army Exhibition and unlimited rides on the monorail. 1590 614650
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7ZN

As Roald Dahl once said 'A little magic can take you a long way.'

London for (Book) Lovers

International Literacy Day September 8th

With back to school upon us and in celebration of International Literacy Day September 8th, London boasts some of the biggest and most unique bookstores.

Waterstones is the largest bookstore chain in the UK and its Piccadilly location is considered the biggest bookstore in Europe. Foyles, which was purchased by Waterstones, flagship store in Charing Cross Road was recognized by Guinness Book of Records for the number of titles on display and its 30 miles worth of shelf space.

Some relatively smaller, but equally impressive shops include:

Hatchards — Located next to Fortnum & Mason, Hatchards is the UK’s oldest book shop and holds three Royal Warrants and considered a bookseller to the Royal Households. While it too is owned by Waterstones, its Piccadilly location covering four floors with 100,000 books definitely does not feel like the run-of-the-mill bookshop. 2074 399921
187 Piccadilly, London W1J9LE

Daunt Books — The two-story Edwardian style branch in Marylebone was originally established in 1910 and is considered one of the first custom-built bookshops in the world. James Daunt founded Daunt Books in 1990 and is known for specializing in travel books — all neatly organized geographically by country. Additionally, Daunt is an executive of Waterstones and more recently Barnes & Noble. If there is even a touch of the charm similar to the Marleboyne location, book lovers are in for a treat. 2072 242295
83-84 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW

Word On the Water Located canal side near King’s Cross railway station, a 1920s Dutch barge has been repurposed into a charming floating bookstore also known as The London Book Barge. Operating since 2011, they were cleverly open up as an outdoor market throughout the pandemic by only selling selections from their exterior shelves and continuing their tradition of treating passer-bys with live music performance and poetry slams. 7976 886982
York Way, Granary Square, London N1C 4LW

The Notting Hill Book Shop — This independent book shop made famous by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the film Notting Hill was known for its travel books. In fact, the back part of the store is still called The Travel Book Company as featured in the film. The iconic blue exterior matches the Hugh Grant’s famous blue door, which is a quick 2 minute walk away at 280 Westbourne Park Road. It is hard that 23 years later fans still flock there! +44 2072 295260
13 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE

Books for Cooks Not nearly as famous as its Notting Hill neighbor, the sheer volume and variety of cookbooks is overwhelming at Books for Cooks. Tucked in the back of the store is an on-site test kitchen where recipes are put to the test Tuesday – Saturday. They offer a reasonably priced three-course meals, usually featuring recipes from Books for Cooks own cookbook. The tables fill up by noon, so arrive by 11:45 am to guarantee a seat and food is served until it is gone. 2072 211992
4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN

While technically not a book shop, you can’t mention books without mentioning the British Library . . .

British Library Since the British Library receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, it houses a staggering 150 million items. To put this in context, if you were to take out five items every day, it would take you over 80,000 years to view them all! Reserve a free tour that covers the history of the Library and its collections (including the King's Library, which once belonged to King George III) along with how items are stored and delivered to researchers. Visits include a stop in the book handling room and possibly the viewing platform to see researchers at work and ends in the Treasures Gallery where such notable items as the Beatles Manuscripts, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebook, the Magna Carta, and the first edition of The Times are displayed. 3303 331144
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Bookworms can also checkout, nearly 250 other book shops in London:

All for the love of books!

Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday

July 31st

July 31st marks the birthday of the fictional character Harry Potter. Along with events that take place in the movie on this date, it also happens to be the birthday of author J. K. Rowling.

Four ways to party in Potter style:

The Making of Harry Potter
Opened in 2012, Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden located 20 miles outside of London is a behind the scenes permanent exhibit complete with authentic costumes, sets and props.  A shuttle bus runs between Watford Junction station and the Studio Tour.
From £49.95 ✆ +44 2034 277777
Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LR

Platform 9-3/4 Located at Kings Cross Station as featured in the movie, the site also features the first Harry Potter Shop in the world.  Take a photo with Hogwarts scarf or purchase a professional one they take.
Free ✆ +44 2078 331137
Kings Cross Station, London N1 9AP

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildWhile North American productions have been reduced to a single play, London will maintain the original two-part format of the most awarded play in history.
From £15 / part ✆ +44 3303 334410
Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5AY
Tip : Friday Forty  Every Friday 40 tickets are released for every performance the following week for £40 (£20 per part).  The TodayTix lottery closes at 1 pm on Friday and winners are notified by 5 pm.

Inamo - SohoTo create a bit of your own magic, book a 5 pm afternoon tea at Inamo - Soho (a 7 min walk from the theatre) between the two parts.  Considered London's only interactive restaurant 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.
From £22.95 / person 2078 517051
134-136 Wardour St, London W1F 8ZP