Discovering the Back-Streets around London Bridge

Secrets of Southwark

This iconic area of London with its cobbled streets, winding alleyways and array of exciting bars and restaurants is one of London’s most popular areas. Step away from the tourist track and be amazed with the hidden gems and bustling back-streets.

Within walking distance from London Bridge Hotel you will find all of the top tourist attractions such as The Shard, The Golden Hinde, The Globe Theatre, Tower of London and The River Thames. Take a step back from all of these areas and discover what this area really has got to offer

Gelateria 3BIS- Borough Market – Park St

For a welcome and friendly Italian experience head on over to 3BIS gelateria where you can grab home made gelato, frozen yoghurt, crepes, waffles and much more. Within walking distance from London Bridge station, it’s the ideal place to stop off for a sweet treat after a busy day shopping or sight seeing. They offer a broad selection of flavours that you can enjoy inside or out.

3Bis gelateria borough market
3BIS Gelato

We opted for a Mango and Rasberry sorbet in a cone, but you can also choose to have it in cup, and some chocolate filled cannoli’s. A new product that are selling is the chocoshot cup – a flavoured cone cup filled with your favourite gelato flavours.

3BIS also supply to events, such as weddings and parties. You can hire a gelato cart to turn your event into a special and unique one.

Bird & Blend – Borough Market – Park St

Bird & Blend is an award winning tea company who are on a mission to spread happiness and reimagine tea. The shop is light and airy and the staff are friendly and full of knowledge about all things tea. They offer a wide selection of tea blends and if you’re not sure on what to buy the staff are more than happy to make one up for you to try.

Not only at Bird & Blend can you get a perfectly brewed tea but you can also grab tea gifts, tools to make tea and even book onto one of their mixology tea blending and tea tasting experience workshops.

We are big fans of Matcha tea so was pleasantly surprised by the huge selection of flavoured tea to try. The member of staff that served us was brilliant and very friendly, offering us lots of advice on what delicious blend of tea to try. As it was a hot day we went with cold blend tea, which he mixed in front of us and even allowed the children to join in with making their own tea; they were shown how to use a bamboo whisk and how to add the special ingredient that made Unicorn Fizz drink change colour.

Bird & Blend shop front

We tried and Iced Black Matcha and Coconut, MojiTEA, Unicorn Fizz and an Iced Gingernut Matcha & Apple drink.

I couldn’t recommend this place enough, the staff were friendly and approachable, the quality and taste of the tea was perfect and reasonably priced.

Backstreets

One thing I noticed about the area around London Bridge was that no matter where you turn there is always something to catch your eye. The street art and buildings are amazing. Wander through the railway arches and follow the Low Line walk, which spans the length of the Old Victorian Rail viaducts from London Bridge to Bermondsey. The Low Line connects the neighbourhoods and communities, celebrating the heritage of the railway arches, unlocking places of interest along the way.

Drawing of swans in a railway archway
Art work under a viaduct on the Low Line walk
Malagonisa street art
Colourful wing street art at Cluedupcoffee

The buildings still show signs of the old days. Something I always tell my children when we are visiting a new area is to look up. When walking along we tend to just look straight forward but when you look up you will notice the infrastructure and architecture of old buildings. There is always an historical, strange or artistic inspirational find.

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is a new foodie hub in Bankside that is nestled in the heart of London Bridge. It offers a unique cultural and culinary experience with tantalising food vendors, restaurants, street food, bars and live music. It’s a great outdoor space that runs along the railway arches and hidden behind a grass wall. The garden is a welcome space to sit and enjoy time with family and friends in a casual and vibrant environment.

This is a nice little hidden secret within London, very vibrant and a great place for lunch. Head over here for a vibrant and buzzing atmosphere and a variety of food and drink options. Not only was there a DJ on when we was there but they had a big screen up showing a sporting event.

We opted for some light bites from the summer menu at the Lime Hut, which were zesty and rich in flavour, all freshly cooked on a huge pan in front of you.

The younger of of our group opted for a sugary treat from Waffle On. Yep, you guessed it, they sell freshly cooked waffles with a selection of toppings.

Crossbones Graveyard

Whilst walking around we came across a very interesting, but rather odd yard and was lucky that we managed to have a quick look just before it closed for the day. Crossbones Graveyard is the site of an old burial ground with an extraordinary background. Back in medieval times it was a graveyard for prostitutes, by the 18th century it became a burial ground for around 15,000 paupers and is now a sacred place and sanctuary in the heart of the City dedicated to the ‘Outcast Dead’.

Now a garden of remembrance, with shrines, open to the public and to celebrate life in all imperfection.

It was once the final resting place for the’ Winchester Geese’ which is a rather quaint term for medieval prostitutes who were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work in the brothels.

As you enter the yard you will walk under a wooden structure which is in fact carved out to be the wings of a Goose

crossbones graveyard geese wings wooden structure
Carved wings

Along the top it says

‘Here lay your hearts, your flowers, your book of hours

your fingers, your thumbs, your ‘miss you, Mums’.

Here hang your hopes, your dreams, your might have beens,

Your locks, your keys, your mysteries’

A very interesting place full of history, there are plenty of places to sit and contemplate and reflect on life. An incredible space that truly moves you, despite being in the City it has a peaceful silence.

An unusual find but one that we were glad that we had stumbled across. Possibly somewhere that we wouldn’t have normally visited but has definitely opened our eyes to exploring backstreets a little more.

This is a collaboration post. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views and pictures are my own

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Tea for Two – Afternoon Tea at Whittard of Chelsea, London

Living at home with very busy boys it can be hard to find the time to spend quality time with each one of them. The boys are normally, either, running or playing football and myself or Dad spend our weekends ferrying them around from one place to the next.

Last weekend we were invited out by Whittard of Chelsea to attend an Afternoon Tea for two at there Tea Bar in Covent Garden. I took this as the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with my middle boy.

Whittard of Chelsea Tea Bar is an extension of the Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden store.

Situated in the middle of Covent Garden Piazza, downstairs within the flagship store you will find more than your average tea and coffee shop. The Tea Bar features a specialist bar that serves a menu of full afternoon tea alongside 100 loose leaf teas with delicious cakes and savouries to compliment their astonishing tea menu.

Whittard Tea Bar also serves a selection of alcoholic drinks, tea infused cocktails, sandwiches, hot chocolates, coffee and all day afternoon tea.

As we arrived we were immediately greeted by the lovely friendly staff, who made us feel very comfortable throughout our visit. The Tea bar is rather small inside and you get that cosy feeling from the rather relaxed atmosphere.

We were shown to our table and offered the menu. Oh my! I had never seen so many choices of different types of tea that was on offer. They had a pretty extensive list of teas available and we had no idea what to choose. Luckily, our host, Marta, was there to offer some advice on what to try. After telling her what tea we normally drink she recommended the Jade Formosa Oolong for my son and the Matcha Guricha for me. Marta also offered us her plethora of knowledge on tea; Oolong tea is a traditional chinese tea that the leaves are wrapped into small beads and can be brewed multiple times.

Tea Menu

We were served our tea and given 3 timers; 3, 4 and 5 minutes. We were advised to give our tea between 3 – 4 minutes to infuse.

Infusion

The tea was every bit of what you would expect from Whittard, it lived up to its expectation. Full bodied with a herbal richness.

The Whittard Tea

We ordered our afternoon tea and opted for The Whittard Tea which is their signature spread of sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea for an afternoon of champions.

As we waited for food to arrive we sat and sipped our delightful tea and chatted about school and work. It was lovely to spend time with my son in such a charming and relaxed surroundings. Sitting in the tea rooms you wouldn’t think that just beyond the window was the busy hustle and bustle of London.

It wasn’t long before our host was heading our way our afternoon tea.

The Whittard Tea

I was also served up a glass of pink prosecco that was infused with strawberry and mint. I must say, I don’t normally drink but this was very refreshing and smooth. A very summer taste. I certainly could have had more than one glass of this fine drink.

The Whittard Tea consisted of selection of handmade finger sandwiches – smoked salmon with lemon cheese; coronation chicken; cucumber; egg and cress Scones. Scones with clotted cream and tea-infused strawberry and mango preserves and a choice of five bitesize cakes.

The hardest choice was what to put on first on the scone; jam or cream?

The presentation was beautiful as was the taste. Freshly prepared food, with delicate flavours that sent my taste buds into overdrive. A sensational selection of excellent food to indulge in. A perfect british tea time experience.

Outstanding service, delicious food and a fantastic variety of drinks including vast tea choices Whittards Tea Bar is definitely a place to visit and a quintessential location to book for a Mother’s day treat.

Not only can you book for afternoon tea you can also browse round the shop and buy some amazing gifts that they have on offer. I would definitely recommend the Easter Tea; a treat that is better than eggs. A nutty oolong tea with subtle hints of chocolate and buttercream, finished off with a scattering of sugar bunnies. Not only is it palatable but it also smells amazing.

Whittard Afternoon Tea £30 per person

Glass of prosecco £6

Tea ranging from £3.50 -£5.00

Take a look at what Whittard has to offer here

To book a table for afternoon tea or check availability take a look here

We were gifted with the afternoon tea and a goody bag for the purpose of this review

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Pop Up Lego Cafe In London

The boys cross country race and football was cancelled today so whilst I was strolling through my twitter feed I came across a status retweeted by Warner Bros UK about a pop up coffee shop opening just for a couple of days in London. The Coffee Chain, inspired by the cafe that is featured in the Lego Movie, was opened up yesterday by the stars of the film Chris Pratt (Emmet) and Tiffany Haddish (Queen Waterva Wanabi) on the Southbank alongside the Thames.

The pop up cafe was brought to life with around 48000 bricks including a LEGO coffee machine, donuts and the morning paper.

 

We popped onto the train and went along to grab a coffee and hot chocolate. My son is absolutely mad about LEGO and couldn’t wait to get there. He was so excited when he saw that not only was there a LEGO cafe but also there to greet the public was Emmet and Sweet Mayhem.

It certainly made our trip worthwhile.

The public were encouraged to donate a small sum of money towards UNICEF.

As we entered into the cafe there were lots around us to keep us entertained

 

Joseph took along his very Joseph took along his very own LEGO character that he created of himself as a runner and they allowed us to take a photo of it on top of a donut

We are now looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out next week

Are you?

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Riding the Slide at the Arcelormittal Orbit Stratford

The Arcelormittal Orbit was designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond and was erected back in 2012 just in time for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, 80m high above the Olympic Park and 60% made from recycled steel offers extraordinary 20- mile views of London skyline.

This fantastic piece of art is impressive and moving. It is part of the Olympic legacy that transformed East London. I remember back in 2012 when the Olympics changed the area and the people within it. The Olympic Park is now used every day by visitors from all over; people out cycling or going for walks, families picnicking on the grass, children running around and playing in the many parks and couples out for romantic walks along the canal.

Everytime I see this amazing structure it brings back memories of the unity we shared back in 2012 and how well our olympic teamed performed.

The sculpture is a physical embodiment of the spirit of East London.

A few weeks we visited the Orbit not only for the incredible panoramic views across London but also to ride the world’s tallest and longest slide.

The visit starts at the bottom of the Arcelormittal Orbit where you get to stand directly underneath and look up at the twisting red lattice framed iconic structure. This in itself is a wow moment. 

We took the lift up to the viewing platform where we spent some time looking out across at London’s skyline, pointing out buildings that we recognised. The youngest was pretty impressed with the Olympic Stadium where Westham were playing at home. We knew they had scored when the crowd erupted in a loud cheer.

When you book your tickets you have to hope for a clear day. Unfortunately we had previously visited the orbit on a rainy day and didn’t get to see half of what you can on a clear bright day

There are interactive touch screens on the viewing platform that tell the story of the Orbit and the park and they also give you information on the surrounding area. They tell the story of the Orbit. The polished concave mirrors that are on either side of the platform play with your perspective and turn the horizon on its head.

The level below the viewing platform is where you get to ride the slide.

Kitted out with a helmet and arm protectors you join the queue ready to watch a short video about how to ride the slide. Once inside the mat, you grab the sides of the chute and you push yourself down the slide.

From top to bottom descending 76 meters it takes just 40 seconds.  Reaching up to 15 miles/hr (24 km/hr), the slide loops it’s way around the sculpture 12 times. At times you are in darkness and then you see a flash of daylight where the top of the slide is covered in plastic. Or, in complete darkness if you have your eyes closed for the whole 40 seconds it takes from top to bottom.

The slide ends with a straight drop and before you know it you’re seeing  daylight again

 

You would expect to come out the bottom at speed but you slow right down as you exit.

Once down at the bottom you can go back up to the viewing platform again or if you are us, just to take the steps down.

 

Once finished on the viewing platform, you can take the lift back down the ground level or go down the 455 steps. Yes, we counted them! As you walk down the steel stairs you are treated to the sounds of London echoing around you coming from a specially designed soundscape soundtrack.

My boys give this experience a huge adrenaline pumped thumbs up

There is a height and age limit to the slide, you can find out all of the information on there website.

 

 

 

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Fake News Is Top Of The Class At Madame Tussauds London

After being at the forefront of popular and celebrity culture for more than 250 years, Madame Tussauds London has launched a new programme to support and educate students about fake news.

 

The ‘Fake News and the Media’ school lesson is part of Merlin Entertainments new ‘Today’s Lesson Will Be…’ educational programme that is being rolled out across the company’s London attractions. Created in collaboration with education specialist SHAPES for Schools this new lesson is linked to PSHE and the English national curriculum and is targeted at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students aged between 9 – 13 years old.

Taking place inside the world famous attraction on Baker Street, which boasts A-list celebrity figures such as Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson has been created as a reaction to the current issues around the distortion and misuse of false information and the influence it is having on young people’s choices.

 

As the lines continue to blur between what is a real news story and what is false, the interactive lessons will provide teachers and their students with the essential skills to navigate the news agenda safely online and across social media.

‘Today’s Lesson will be…’

Delivered by Madame Tussauds performers, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson will lead students through a critique of how the media presents news whilst also analysing the difference between rumour, spin, satire and false information.

Lessons will include

  • Structured discussion around modern celebrity culture and the media, and how the two are linked.
  • Working in groups to categories news stories according to different criteria, including: how the news was shared; who wrote it, text and images, and the emotive impact on the reader.
  • A group-based definition of ‘fake news’ and other key terminology.
  • A game in which pupils try to identify their classmates’ real stories from their fake ones.

Joanne Channon, Education Manager at Merlin Entertainments, said:

“The dissemination of false information through the media both online and across social media can be incredibly confusing and challenging for young people. Out of the classroom learning is proven to be highly effective in helping to stimulate young minds while boosting student’s social skills such as confidence, creativity and communication. We believe our new workshop will inspire students this academic year and we hope it will have a positive impact on how they interact with modern media in the future.”

The fake news workshop helps children to stretch their literacy skills. They will learn how to identify different types of media, it’s purpose and to understand the concept of ‘fake news and how it impacts on modern audiences. Children will analyse a variety of news stories and by picking out textual evidence to back up their decisions they will learn how to assess whether they think the story is real or fake.

Learning outside of the classroom can lead to a deeper understanding of the subjects being taught by bringing it to life. It can help to inspire and reignite enthusiasm for learning. Hands on learning will also enhance a child’s personal and social communication skills by encouraging communication and increases engagement with in the subject.

The new ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson can be booked as part of Madame Tussauds London’s schools package. This includes such benefits as a 40% saving on tickets and free Teacher Resource Packs. For more information please visit www.madametussauds.com/education

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