Kopparberg Urban Forest by @cathiasays

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Stepping up for me yet again while I’m off doing something else, the intrepid Cathia Randrianarivo kindly filled in to cover the Kopparberg Urban Forest pop-up festival in Dalston. Cheers Cathia for the ace account of the event and for all the fun photos you took. It looks like you had a blast … once you actually found the right queue to be in ;-P

A few weeks ago, I found myself trekking across London to explore a pop-up festival in East London. Yep, I just wrote that sentence and it still sounds a bit unreal. Behind Dalston Junction station there is a break in the concrete and brick, where a three pronged tent has been set up surrounded by greenery and beautiful woodwork. Not what you’d expected in the middle of a busy city really but that’s the beauty of London town.

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Welcome to the Urban Forest. A month long, free (yes, FREE) festival sponsored by the good people of Kopparberg. First off, don’t do what Ashleigh and I did and queue for the Dalston Roof Gardens; it’s definitely not there. Go around the building and you will notice the familiar festival warning signs: big groups of people in comfy colourful clothes, porter loos and the yellow vests managing the entrance. In a big city, festivals are usually held in big parks or just outside of London or not in London at all, so this is a little different.

treetops || the VIP mezzanine

On arrival, we got our wristbands and were pointed in the direction of the VIP bar [so fancy]. We were a bit late, the VIP bar was at capacity and it was a one-in-one-out policy. Ashleigh and I decided to wait patiently [helped by the fresh Elderflower & Lime cocktails we had just been handed] until it was our turn. Now, I am quite an impatient person – I can’t help it, I’m fidgety – particularly when it comes to queuing. Luckily, as the Urban Forest is quite an intimate festival everyone is nearby so people watching and style spotting became a fun game. Then suddenly, Ashleigh spotted Sophie Ellis Bextor and hubby coming down from the VIP area. Wait a minute, am I the one-in for SEB the one-out? Get out of here! Celebrity goggles off, we calmed down and headed up into the treehouse mezzanine.

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The VIP area itself was packed, and quite warm – we were hanging in the top of a tent after all [school doesn't lie kids, heat definitely rises]. It was a relaxed sitting area with good views of the stage if you were able to get a good spot. I really like the general forest wood feel with the added touch of quirky lighting [one of which was a line of Kopparberg used bottles turned into a string of lights]. SEB managed to get a good place when she came back up, we didn’t though so I decided to take some super subtle pictures of Ashleigh and her cocktail [enjoy]. Whilst trying to get snaps, we were offered a traditional Swedish nibble from Fika: elk meatballs. Neither of us were a big fan but it’s always good to try something new!

berries || the food

I suddenly got the hunger and was lured out of our tent mezzanine by the smell of jerk chicken. Although I knew what I wanted, we decided to browse the food stalls to give them all a fair chance at winning our attention: there were more Swedish elk balls, chicken wings, pulled pork gaps, [didn't notice veggie options] and then we were back at the jerk sausage and chicken at Mama’s Jerk Station. Done. Although the Urban Forest does have a Scandinavian edge with the deliberate food and artist choices [understandable with Kopparberg being Swedish born and bred], the Jamaican jerk chicken stall was very popular! I ended up going for a delicious box of jerk chicken, salad and plantain. NOM.

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Ashleigh and I felt more comfortable in the public main area of the Urban Forest, I enjoyed eating my food in amongst everyone, chatting, and the atmosphere was buzzy. I kept noticing everyone’s style and felt a little out of my depth. We also later found that the vibe inside the tent was very different to outside. Inside, it was was more chilled with everyone having a little dance and drink. Outside, it was the buzz of friends chatting away, eating and drinking. Some of the ladies were dressed on point so I had to take some snaps.

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birdsong || the music

Ashleigh jumps up again: It’s Kelis! I don’t know how she does it but I am clearly oblivious and rubbish at spotting celebs. The buzz suddenly got more excitable. Kelis was here! Now – to put this into context, I think Kelis is the bees-knees. When I first discovered her in my teens, from the video of Caught Out There on MTV Base [yep, that was my go-to channel], I knew I would follow her music for a long time. Sure enough, however many years later, I still think Kelis makes and has made some of my favourites. The lyrics, the beats, the stage presence – she is great to watch and listen to. So much so, I interrupted her after the show while she was eating her jerk chicken [I apologised before anything else] to tell her and became one of those crazy fan girls. [Thank you Kelis for letting me interrupt you while you were eating your chicken.]

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Kelis was the surprise headliner for the first day of Urban Forest. Though her set was short [about 30 minutes], she was worth it. She covered all of the classics as well as some of her new releases: Caught Out There, Trick Me, Milkshake, 4th July & Jerk Ribs. My favourite being the Madonna Holiday and Kelis Milkshake mash up – so fun. Now she’s even bigger on her cooking, with her own food truck in the US and naming her newest album FOOD makes me feel like I’m not going to stop admiring her anytime soon. What a way to say “I’m just going to do what I love”.

Aside from Kelis, I think the Urban Forest line up gives you the opportunity to hear a variety of upcoming artists. I hadn’t heard of a lot of the bands but supporting Kelis we caught the end of Danish singer-songwriter Nabiha who fitted right into the festival’s chilled atmosphere. Check her music out here.

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As a concept, the Urban Forest is a fun one. I didn’t really have any expectations of what it would be like beforehand but can now say it is definitely worth a drop in. Particularly if you live in and around Dalston [no excuses really]. For such a small space in London, it offers a good variety of food, Kopparberg-styled cocktails and music, and best of all completely for free. Ashleigh and I ended up dancing away to the resident DJ for the rest of our evening and thought it was a good evening out.

Massive thanks to the Kopparberg team for showing us what a Scandinavian-London good time can look like. For more photos and info, visit kopparbergurbanforest.com.

Cathia Randrianarivo is a London based marketer-by-day and blogger-by-night, always on the lookout for the next adventure. Check out her own blog at jingle-jungle.blogspot.co.uk.

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Good Stuff and a New Place to Puff

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Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the low down on some fine things to see, sip or savour – all of which I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. Enjoy.

Sautter Cigar

After more than 50 years of trading from one location, Mayfair cigar shop Sautter of Mount Street has opened a second shop. The new outlet is at 8 Raphael Street in Knightsbridge, a very convenient stroll from the Tube, the Bulgari, and a couple of department stores you might have heard of. Despite the newness the Knightsbridge outlet, there’s much the same charm as at the original Sautter. I thoroughly enjoyed a recent visit to the weeks old shop. I’m happy to confirm the humidor has an excellent range of cigars and that the front room is a relaxing and comfortable spot for “sampling” a fine stogie.

Kiosk King’s Cross St Pancras

I had to take an early train up to Cambridge earlier this week and was pleased with the grab-and-go brekkie I got at Kiosk. Built into the ground floor of the Great Northern Hotel at the Western Concourse at King’s Cross Station and just a hop across the street from St Pancras, the concession serves “hugely generous hot roast meat sandwiches” along with Monmouth Coffee. I loved my black pudding sandwich (around £3.50) and cup o’ joe. I reckon the other morning items and other non-breakfast sarnies are just as tasty. I’ll certainly keep ‘em in mind next time I’m catching a train.

The Decadent Decaf Coffee Company

With a background in coffee sourcing, importing and roasting through sister company Sea Island Coffee (Europe’s “leading purveyor of rare and exotic coffees”), the folks behind Decadent Decaf offer a range of “gourmet” single origin coffees that have been “ gently decaffeinated using the premium Swiss Water Process (leaving the coffee flavours in the bean before being slowly flame roasted in small batches).” I tried a sample of their Indonesia Sumatra Mandheling. Full of cocoa-y flavour with strong aroma, it’s a good one for when you want that coffee fix but can’t do the caffeine.

Ghost Bus Tours

I took a Friday night ride through town with Ghost Bus Tours and had a pretty good time. I learned a bit of macabre history about London, laughed a lot and even experienced a few poignant moments. Not sure it’s something to recommend to long time Londoners already hip to the more gruesome aspects of this city’s often wicked story. However, if you’re visiting from out of town, it’s a fun way to get an overview of the city. All the other riders during my tour seemed to be having the times of their lives – especially the kids.

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Posted in coffee, Drink, Food, Good Stuff, London, Luxury, restaurants, Shopping, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London Daily Photo: Big Smiles

LDP 2014.07.13 - Big Smiles

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flat Sharing Tips + a £100 Discount from Myrooms

Young friends eating pizza at home

The average price of private rental in London is more than double what you’d pay anywhere else in the UK. London house prices are more than 60% higher than the national average and twice the average price compared to houses in the North East. According to Myrooms – one of the fastest growing accommodation providers in London with properties in Zones 1 and 2 – if you want to live in London and enjoy all it has to offer, flat sharing is one of your best options when it comes to achieving your dreams.

Some 670,000 households in London live in the private rented sector, a higher proportion than the national average of 14.2% (source). So as someone seeking shared residence in the capital, you’re hardly alone! Still finding the perfect flat share situation for you can seem a daunting task. Here are some tips from Myrooms to get you moving in the right direction along with a voucher code worth £100 off your first month’s rent.

Work Hard/Play Hard

When looking for your ideal room share in London, there are two main factors that every young professional will want to take into consideration; the journey to work and the local entertainment scene.  Good transport links are essential to ensure your career runs smoothly and access to a vibrant mix of local nightspots, restaurants and shops will help you make the most of your leisure time.  Commuting around London is not going to be cheap and often paying a higher rent to live in Zones 1 and 2 can work out more cost-effective than living in Zones 5 and 6. Plus, you will never be more than 5 minutes away from a tube so the whole of London’s nightlife, sights and attractions will be on your doorstep. And, because you’ll spend less time commuting you’ll conserve more of those precious hours, to maximise your London experience.

Finding Flatmates You Can Really Click With

It’s worth giving this one some thought, because life is not just about bricks and mortar and the perfect postcode.  So what’s important to you in a flatmate?  If you’ve shared before you might have an inkling, but if not make yourself a wish list. Do they smoke, what’s their attitude to the cleaning roster, do they know the price of a loaf of bread; what time do they get up and go to bed; what are their hobbies, loves, hates and viewing habits; what music do they like, full-blast or nice and quiet?  You get the picture.

Living with a stranger, can be a really exciting and beneficial bonanza, it can help you …

·        Broaden your horizons;
·        Learn new interests;
·        Network;
·        Expand your musical repertoire;
·        Experience different cultures; and
·        Learn to negotiate, compromise, persuade and influence.

Show Me The Way …

Moving to a new location can be both exciting and daunting in equal measure; that’s where Myrooms comes in.  It’s the fastest growing room-sharing service in London – for corporate and private individuals, young professionals and students. Myrooms consultants are highly trained and knowledgeable on all aspects of living in London. Driven by passion and enthusiasm, their mission is to find the right room for you and your lifestyle.  If you need a helping hand to negotiate these uncharted waters, Myrooms hands-on service will help with practical matters and provide you with objective advice.

So, if you’re ready to take the plunge Myrooms is offering £100 off your first month’s rent!  Just quote (TIKICH01) when you contact Myrooms.

Discount code must be redeemed by 31 July 2015.

Sponsored post

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London Daily Photo: Building Lasting Relationships

LDP 2014.07.12 - Building Lasting Relationships

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win Dinner for Two and an Overnight Stay at The Tommyfield London Pub

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COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME!

Located just five minutes from London’s Waterloo and owned by Renaissance Pubs, The Tommyfield now fully embraces its coaching inn roots by becoming a luxurious city crash pad as well as a cracking London local. Tempted? Keep reading to find out how to win a free night’s stay plus dinner for two at this ace Kennington pub!

In addition to its handsome pub and private party room, The Tommyfield has just introduced six beautiful bedrooms. Each with their own unique character and charm, the rooms feature either a super king or king-size bed, Egyptian cotton linen, an HD Freeview television, free wireless internet, Nespresso machine, blackout curtains or blinds, mini-fridge and safe as standard. All rooms cost £119 per night which includes breakfast.

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To celebrate the launch of the rooms, Renaissance Pubs has teamed up with me to offer one reader a chance to win a free stay at The Tommyfield along with a proper gastropub dinner for two.

To be in with a chance win dinner for two and night’s stay at The Tommyfield simply tweet the following:

RT to win dinner for 2 + an overnight stay at The Tommyfield, compliments of @RenaissancePubs & @tikchris http://bit.ly/1lZOZGD #stayatours

Good luck. Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions before tweeting!

T&C

I’ll pick one winner at random on Thursday 17 July 2014 at 17.30 BST. The winner will receive dinner for two and one night accommodation at The Tommyfield pub, subject to availability.

The Tommyfield is located at 185 Kennington Lane, SE11 4EZ. Find out more at thetommyfield.com/hotelrooms.


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COMPETITION IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN CONTACTED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING TIKICHRIS. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR LOTS MORE FUN AND FREEBIES TO COME! 

Check out more tikichris competitions.

 

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London Daily Photo: A Mentee Listens

LDP 2014.07.11 - A Mentee Listens

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Exceptional Museums in Basel (OneTravel)

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For a city of only about 200,000 people, Basel boasts more museums than cities with more than ten times its population. From the Anatomical Museum of the University of Basel (which was founded by Professor Carl Jung – yes, the Carl Jung) to the Vitra Design Museum (which is actually just outside the city and across the border in Weil am Rhein, Germany), there’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re keen to wow the little ones (or reconnect with your own inner child) at the charming Spielzeug Welten toy museum; be amused by the quirky collection of silly things at the Hoosesaggmuseum (Basel’s smallest and perhaps strangest museum); or be inspired by works by artists such as Picasso and Monet – this welcoming Swiss city’s cultural offerings aren’t merely a matter of quantity. Among Basel’s many museums, galleries and other cultural hotspots are some of the world’s most prized collections of art and some of the most compelling and celebrated exhibitions.

Here’s a quick look at six museums I came upon – and loved – during my recent visit. I’d love to go back for a visit to each of these again – and to see how many more of Basel’s 40 museums I could check out …

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: A Mentor Recounts Her Experiences

LDP 2014.07.10 - A Mentor Recounts Her Experiences

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello Stan Smith. Still Looking Good!

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White on white with a touch of navy – I’m almost afraid to wear my new Adidas Originals Stan Smith trainers out on the streets as they look so nice and clean right out of the box. But that fear will subside soon, and I’m sure I’ll make good use of this new pair of trainers.

Endorsed by Stan Smith, the 1972 winner of Wimbledon, this Adidas classic has been an icon since it was first released decades ago and today is considered more for the street than the court. I actually owned a pair of Stan Smiths when I was a teenager. I still remember how comfy they were and how long they lasted. I can’t really say that about most of the trainers I’ve worn since! Comfy with good arch support, built to last with a design that never seems to go out of style, plus they get a nod of approval from my girlfriend?. I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to return to such an awesome shoe!

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Cheers to JD Sports for passing such fantastic footwear my way!

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Restaurant Review: Granger & Co Clerkenwell

Granger&Co Clerkenwell at night landscape interior© Mikkel Vang

I had a lot of fun during my recent visit to Granger & Co Clerkenwell. Aussie restauranteur Bill Granger’s latest restaurant in a selective global portfolio – which includes a well established eatery in Notting Hill along with outlets in Sydney, Tokyo, and Hawaii – features a playfully palate pleasing menu served in a comfortable and lavishly spacious dining room. Here are a few highlights from my dinner.

Granger & Co is an ideal venue for special occasions that you still want to retain something of a casual air. The space itself impressed me upon my entrance and throughout my meal with its clean line deisign, shear size and zero clutter. Service was efficient and helpful without being too cordial. And the menu was an absolute winner.

Self taught cook Granger’s kitchen yields decidedly comfort food fare skewed toward the Asian side of the Pacific and could possibly come across as overly contrived and a little wacky … until you actually take a bite of what’s offered. A perfect example is the rather-odd-sounding-but-believe-me-it’s-actually-delicious bonito, tofu, potato and parmesan pizza (£12), which I found was an excellent choice for sharing. The multi-napkin-necessary “small plate” of Korean fried chicken with iceberg lettuce, spring onion and chilli sesame (£8.50) was a good one for passing round the table as well.

A little less easy to share but nonetheless a tasty tuck was the shrimp burger with jalapeño mayo, shaved radish salad, and sesame gochujang (£15). A relatively more run-of-the-mill dish of sticky chilli belly pork with spring onion salad (£17.20) was an exceptionally pleasurable mound of deliciousness as well.

I wouldn’t say an accompanying bottle of Momo 2012 Marlborough Pinot Noir wowed, but it certainly more than satisfied and held steady without faltering across a range of menu items.

Prices were pretty expensive but quality was high and the concept was big on fun without being crass or cheesy.

Just round the corner from Clerkenwell Green in a spot that’s a pleasure to settle into as a diner but might prove difficult to draw in enough customers to keep up a sustainable trade, Granger & Co is located at 50 Sekforde Street, EC1R 0HA.

Find out more at grangerandco.com.

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App Helped ‘Make My Switzerland’ Time Super Fun (OneTravel)

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As mentioned [on the OneTravel blog] about a month ago, in anticipation of an upcoming visit to Basel I downloaded for free the Make My Switzerland app. Having never been to Switzerland before, I was keen to access the local advice that the app promised. I was also curious to see how it compared with other resources that I might normally turn to when trying to find out about a destination, such as guidebooks, blogs, tips from friends, etc

Now back home from a truly great weekend in Basel, I can say having Make My Switzerland just a tap away on my phone was an asset to the visit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it replaced any of the other ways of making the most of a visit somewhere, but I am pleased to report that the app proved to be an excellent source of inspiration.

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

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London Daily Photo: A Mentor and Mentee Share a Laugh

LDP 2014.07.09 - A Mentor and Mentee Share a Laugh

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast Recipe: Red Eye Gravy with illy Espresso

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Red eye gravy is a classic comfort food sauce from my home in the American Deep South. Usually served with ham or bacon, it’s about as easy and affordable to make as it is delicious. The main ingredients are grease from cooking your bacon or ham, a cup of coffee, and maybe some butter.

I love the stuff and have never even once heard mention of anybody making it here in the UK. It’s high time I did something about that! So, here’s a really quick and super easy recipe for making red eye gravy for yourself …

Read my complete post at the espressoCrazy blog.

Posted in coffee, Drink, espressocrazy.com, Food, illy, Recipes, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Jump!

LDP 2014.07.08 - Jump!

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tour de France: Cambridge to London with Bonne Maman

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I would like to say a massive merci beaucoup to the friendly folks from Bonne Maman for offering me the amazing opportunity to ride along with the Tour de France in the Bonne Maman procession vehicle yesterday from Cambridge to London. It was super cool checking out the Tour’s Village at Parker’s Piece in Cambridge and taking a behind the scenes snoop of all the goings-on and preparations before the race began. And riding in the procession to encounter the tens of thousands of Tour supporters along the way was phenomenally thrilling.

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I think what impressed me most was getting to see all the many gleeful spectators who had lined up (hours ahead of time in most cases I reckon) between the starting point Cambridge and the finishing line while zooming along in the Bonne Maman van. Hardly 10m of the 155k route was passed without us seeing someone cheering, even in the most rural of spots. Most of the time we were greeted by throngs of smiling, waving fans who’d made a day of the event – with BBQs and picnics, banners and flags. Honestly, I never had seen anything like it in my life.

It was a lot of fun hearing people shout declarations such as “I LOVE YOUR MADELEINES!” or a quite simple yet enthusiastic “JAM!!!” to us as we sped by. People seemed so pleased to have the famed Tour de France zip through their villages and towns – and appeared to be absolutely delighted by the sight of the Bonne Maman van.

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Of course, once in London awaiting the arrival of the cyclists at The Mall the scene was electric!

Follow the Tour online at letour.com as it commences its actual French route today.

To find out more about Bonne Maman go to lovebonnemaman.co.uk.

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London Daily Photo: An Artist and Her Self Portrait

LDP 2014.07.07 - An Artist and Her Self Portrait

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

26 Grains Pop-Up at Old Street Station for the Whole Month of July 2014

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Passing through Old Street Station in the morning? Get a free breakfast this Wednesday and Thursday (9 and 10 July) from the 26 Grains porridge pop-up when you mention this blog.

Yep, that’s right the most important meal of your day needs to be a healthy one and preferably a tasty one. From the 7th and throughout this month, 26 Grains is serving a delicious range of wholesome dishes at a pop-up up in Old Street Station, Monday to Friday from 7am to 3pm.

26 Grains takes its inspiration from Scandinavian recipes to bring you a bowls brimming with filling flavours, slow releasing energy and tasty toppings such as pear, cardamom, hazelnut and rye porridge; and coconut, chia and blueberry bircher muesli. But 26 Grains isn’t just about a fabulous brekkie. Check out these savoury lunchtime ideas: quinoa with poached egg and pesto; carrot and hazelnut risotto; beetroot risotto; kale, apple and walnut risotto.

26 Grains is the creation of self proclaimed “porridge obsessed” Alex Hely-Hutchinson. I met Alex a couple of weeks ago over coffee to chat about 26 Grains and the Old Street pop-up – and to have a taste of what she does best. I loved what I sampled and was actually kinda inspired by her enthusiasm and drive.

It’s a pleasure to help Alex spread the word about her food. To help you get a taste of 26 Grains, Alex and I came up with this generous offer exclusively for my readers:

On Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the 10th of July 2014, from 7am to 10.30am mention “tikichris” to receive a free porridge at the 26 Grains pop-up inside Old Street Station.

Can’t make in during those hours? It’s still worth coming round for a taste of healthy reasonably priced food. Porridge is priced at £4 and savoury items at £6.

And even if you think you don’t like porridge, you might want to drop by anyway in the hopes of catching a warm smile from Alex and having some of her glowing happy energy rub off on you.

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About 26 Grains

26 Grains takes time to prepare food and choose ingredients responsibly so that each bowl contains both nourishing and delicious food. Each flaked grain is hand rolled to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with, extruded or over processed. Grains are then soaked overnight to break down the phytic acid of the grain, making it easier to digest and obtain benefits such as antioxidants, nutrients and minerals, as well as a longer lasting release energy.

Alex and her crew make convenience-focused food without forgoing quality of ingredients or taste. They’re conscious of how much salt and sugar go in their bowls and use natural sugars such as maple syrup and fruit and then pair them with nuts and spices for full-on flavoursome effect.

Find out more at 26grains.com.

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London to Paris in 24 Hours – What to See, What to Miss (by David James Taylor)

Paris Weekend 2008

Paris is unquestionably one of Europe’s most historic, iconic cities. Conveniently, it only takes a few hours to travel from Paris to London by bus, which makes it a wonderful day trip option. As a result, you can get a real taste of the ‘city of love’ by visiting Paris for just 24 hours. However, if this is something that you’re going to do, you will have to plan very carefully to get the most out of your short visit. Here are some recommendations for a 24-hour trip to Paris.

Given that timing is of the essence, it’s best to work out how you are going to get around Paris before you set off. The Metro is good for covering longer distances, although it can be confusing and squalid. For shorter distances, you should certainly register for a Velib bike. Each journey is free so long as you don’t use it for longer than 30 minutes.

So, once you’re on your bike, where should you go? Let’s start with some of the iconic sites which you will probably feel you must see if you’re going to Paris. For a start, there’s the Champs Elysees which brings you directly to the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs Elysees is one of the world’s premier addresses and if you like designer shopping, then there is nowhere better. Nearby is the Place de la Concorde, one of the most magnificent squares you will likely ever see. Of course, perhaps the most famous site of all in Paris is the Eiffel Tower. However, you can expect to queue for at least two hours to climb the monument itself, eating up a valuable chunk of your 24 hours. You might be best off stopping at Trocadero station to take a picture from one of the best vantage points there is. Talking of which, for an incredible vista over the entire city, climb the stairs to the famous Sacre Coeur church. And if you like churches, then Notre Dame is another iconic landmark.

If you want a taste of culture in Paris, then the Louvre art gallery is the natural place to go. It houses the Mona Lisa and other priceless works. However, you could easily spend half a day at the Louvre. If you feel that’s too long but you still need a dose of art, then check out the Musee d’Orsay, which includes possibly the world’s most impressive Impressionist collection.

Paris is also an excellent shopping venue and if the Champs Elysees is out of your price range, then there are plenty more affordable options. There are some excellent boutiques at the Pontdes Arts and the whole Marais neighbourhood is also a trendy location. For an authentic shopping experience, check out the Saxe-Breteuil Market near the Eiffel Tower, where you can try cheeses, bread and other fresh produce before you buy.

If you’re going to be in Paris for the evening, then there are plenty of options for entertainment. The Fleche d’Or comes highly recommended as a free venue for indie and rock music. If you’re looking for a quiet drink then Harry’s Bar has excellent cocktails and was a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemmingway. For something a little more upbeat, Le Rex is a top nightclub venue.

However, if you need to save time on this briefest of day trips, then perhaps one of the most time-efficient activities to enjoy is a dinner cruise on the River Seine. Great food and you get to see plenty of sites all at once.

Written by David James Taylor 

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London Daily Photo: A Mentor Shares His Perspective

LDP 2014.07.06 - A Mentor Shares His Perspective

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Stuff – Imbibe Live Edition

Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the low down on some fine things to see, sip or savour – all of which I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you … and in this case mostly to sip all from my meander round this year’s Imbibe Live – the “innovative and interactive annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade.” Enjoy.

1936 Biere

Very crisp, very refreshing, and very much something I’d consider as a first choice beer – this pale lager from the Swiss alps is made with quality Swiss hops, barley, and water.

Nutsu Nuts

Unlike a most wasabi flavoured snacks (which just use horseradish and some sort of colourant to a wabasi effect), Nutsu Nuts’ wasabi peanuts are made with the real stuff for more pow and deeper flavour.

Taste Nirvana

Not all coconut water is the same apparently. I was wowed with the first sip of Taste Nirvana’s extra yummy coconut water. Made from especially sweet Thai coconuts harvested from Nakorn Pathom province, Taste Nirvana was way more flavourful compared to other coconut water brands (and minus any pesky sweeteners or preservatives). It’s been a few days since my taste and I’m already craving another refreshing drink!

Volcano Coffee Works

Volcano Coffee Works is a leading small batch, specialty coffee roaster based in South London. I liked my sample of Volcano’s cold brewed “Engine Oil”.

And in related imbibing news, here’ something I got to sample sometime back. I had fun playing with it but am just now finding the chance to write about it ….

Cosmopolitan R-EVOLUTION Molecular Mixology Kit 

Yep, this handy little kit has all the things needed to make Cosmopolitan Pearls, Cranberry Mousse, Citrus Caviar “using all of the components of the classic Cosmo but in much more exciting ways,” such as reverse spherication and emulsification. The kit retails for just under 30 quid online at the Cream Chargers website.

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London Daily Photo: A Mentee Contemplates His Future

LDP 2014.07.05 - A Mentee Contemplates His Future

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwegian Salmon + a Scandilicious Freebie

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This July and August when you purchase four promotional stickered packs of Morrisons “M” Norwegian salmon at Morrisons supermarkets, you’ll get a free copy of Signe Johansen’s cookbook, Scandilicious, Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking. Just look for the NORGE logo on pre-packed Norwegian salmon when shopping and choose between 440g salmon fillets, 240g salmon fillets and 240g lightly smoked salmon fillets.

Salmon! I’m a fan. Odds are you too. In fact I can’t think of anybody who doesn’t love this delicious fish. And sure it tastes great, but nice thing is that it’s great for you too. This heart-healthy superfood is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and D. The world’s biggest supplier of salmon is Norway. It’s cold, clear waters sustain a year-round supply and enjoyed by more than 100 countries worldwide.

This summer Norwegian-American chef, Signe Johansen (I’m a fan of Signe too) has teamed up with Morrisons and the Norwegian Seafood Council to help folks make the most of their fishy endeavours by offering copies of her great cookbook Scandilicious, Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking when you

Find out more and see some of Signe’s excellent Scandi seafood recipes at seafoodfromnorway.co.uk/Campaigns/Morrisons-free-cookbook-campaign.

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4 Foodie Festivals in Italy This Summer (OneTravel)

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Anytime is a good time to visit Italy, especially if you are a foodie! And this summer promises a delicious array of events for folks keen to have as many gourmet experiences as possible during their Italian vacation.

Here’s a list of four particularly yummy festivals in Italy this summer that are worth visiting with an empty tummy! Buon viaggio and buon appetito!

Read my complete post at the OneTravel blog.

Posted in Drink, Food, Italy, OneTravel, restaurants, Shopping, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#TennisCrazy? Here’s a Chance to Win Your Very Own illy Coffee Machine

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One of my favourite gigs is being “blogger in residence” for espressoCrazy, the sole UK distributor for illy coffee and Francis Francis coffee machines. I love illy coffee as I do my Francis Francis machine – and I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s not loved having an espresso made with my Y1.1 Touch IperEspresso Machine. So, when I heard that espressoCrazy was running a #TennisCrazy special during Wimbledon offering free illy espresso makers I thought I would pass the word on.

Here’s the scoop folks! All you’ve got to do to be in with a chance to win your very own espresso machine is to follow @espressoCrazy on Twitter. Yeah, that’s it. The giveaway has been going on since Wimbledon kicked off and will continue until the 2014 tournament ends. So you’ve got a few more days to play but only just!

You can see the terms and conditions for this fantastic opportunity here:
http://www.espressocrazy.com/faqs/#faq24

Beyond the giveaway (and the tennis), following @espressoCrazy is a great idea for coffee fans. You’ll find out about special promotions, facts and fun stuff about coffee and might even get to read a thing or two from me now and then. Ace!

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Bis Später Basel

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I really had a fantastic time during my city break in Basel. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the highlights of my visit.

To help you better browse the posts I’ve published about my recent trip to Basel, here’s a list with links to all of them:

Basel City Break

I think I’ve stressed enough how hassle free travelling to/from/in Basel was. My Swiss International Air Lines flight from London City to EuroAirport (just over the Swiss border in Mulhouse, France) was a breeze and surprisingly short at only an hour and a half. Getting into town was hassle free and fast. I reckon it took about 20 minutes for me to arrive at my city centre hotel from the airport.

Much of what I wanted to see and do was within easy walking distance from my hotel. But when I relied on busses and trams, public transport proved to be the stuff of dreams: efficient, comfortable, clean, and free! Yeah, check this out – I was given a free Mobility Ticket when I checked into my hotel which allowed me access to all of the city’s public transportation for the entirety of my stay. And as I understand it, all Basel hotels give Mobility Tickets to all their guests.

In closing I’d just like to say that for a compact destination that’s big on culture, I reckon Basel should be one of your top choices. I was really impressed with just about everything saw and experienced there and would relish any chance to go again.

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London Daily Photo: Warm Smiles

LDP 2014.07.04 - Warm Smiles

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

See Basel: A City Artfully Designed to Please

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Keen to take a city break that’s chock full of eye candy treats by some of the world’s greatest modern architects, designers, and artists? Go to Basel. I was blown away by all the fascinating stuff I got to behold during my few days there.

Home to more than 40 museums, an impressive array of iconic buildings and more – world class yet quaint Basel yields the sort of visual stimuli you’d more likely expect to see in cities with five times its population. Most of the sights I enjoyed viewing were within a pleasant (often riverside) stroll of each other, while the rest were all easily reached via clean, comfy and very reliable public transport. Here are some of the things I liked looking at the most while I there, a few of which I’d say would have been worth making the trip to see in and of themselves.

Fondation Beyeler

Whoa! Worth the trip alone, this Renzo Piano designed museum housing the collection of celebrated gallery owner Ernst Beyeler and wife Hildy is situated in the leafy outskirts village of Riehen and offers a crash course in who’s who and what’s what among the elites of 20th century art: Monet, Cézanne, loads of works by Picasso, etc etc. I crave a repeat visit to the room with all the Dubuffet works! And I wouldn’t mind another lunch at the museum’s Restaurant Berower Park, a casual dining eatery set in a historical residence with plenty of outdoor seating with views of the nearby countryside and large scales works by artist such as Calder.

On now at the foundation and running until 7 September 2014 is a frickin’ fantastic Gerhard Richter exhibition which for the first time ever explores “works conceived as series, cycles, or interior environments from all periods” of his career.

Fondation Beyeler is located at Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125, Riehen. For details about the museum go to fondationbeyeler.ch.

Kunstmuseum Basel

Just as awe inspiring (if a teensy bit more when considering the breadth of its collection) is Kunstmuseum Basel aka the Fine Art Museum. One of the most important assemblages of fine art on the planet, the museum is home to important works from the 1400s to the present day including the biggest collection of art by the Holbein family, significant pieces from the Renaissance and the 19th century, as well as lots of German Expressionism and American art since 1950, and an impression number of Cubist works from Picasso, Braque and Léger. I especially liked seeing the neon installations by Bruce Nauman, the relatively small piece by monumental sculptor Richar Serra, and the haunting oil paintings by Swiss symbolist Arnold Bocklin.

Kunstmuseuam Basel is located at St Alban-Graben 16, CH-4010. Visit online at kunstmuseumbasel.ch.

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Schaulager

Opened just over ten years ago under commission of the Laurenz Foundation in a colossal exhibition and art storage facility with a snarling sliver of a stylized window crack running through it. Designed local architect heroes Herzog & de Meuron, Schaulager is an amazing place to view edgy contemporary art. It’s a killer place to behold inside and out even without the art on view.

On permanent display are two phenomenal installations: American artist Robert Gober’s Untitled which features a life size and open armed concrete cast of the Virgin Mary with a large metal drain pipe jutting through the middle of her gut; and Katharina Fritsch’s ginormous Rattenkonig, a nightmarishly looming and uniformly circled rat king that suggests feeling somewhat similar to having a vicious guard dog lunging and gnashing inches away from you at the end of its lead.

On now until 19 October 2014 is a delightfully WTF exhibition of Selected Works by Paul Chan that – if you’re something of a jaded culture junky like I am – is just the thing for smirks, giggles and heady contemplation.

Schaulager is located just outside Basel city centre at Ruchfeldstrasse 19, CH-4142, Münchenstein. Find out more at schaulager.org.

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Museum Tinguely

Contraption as fine art, always with a sense of humour and usually one that’s rather dark: the works of Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tingugely are fun to admire. To be honest, I had no idea who this Basler artist was before my visit. But now I’d consider myself to be well on my way to becoming a major fan thanks to this museum and its permanent exhibition of Tinguely’s animated mechanical sculptures.

On now is a beguiling temporary exhibition, I am not You by Czech artist Krištof Kintera that’s as quirky as it is creepy.

You’ll find Museum Tinguely on the north bank of the Rhein at Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, CH-4002. Go to tinguely.museum for more information.

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Vitra Design Museum

The Vitra Design Museum is one of the world’s leading design museums in the field of design, presenting a changing programme of exhibitions and events on topics of design and architecture with guided tours of exhibitions and architectural tours of the Vitra Campus available. Come here for an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with pieces, structures, samples, and ephemera by leading designers and architects such as Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi and more more more!!! Most of the photos I took during my Basel city break were of this photogenic dreamland.

The Vitra Design Museum and is located a short distance outside of Basel in Weil am Rhein, Germany. It’s a cinch getting there and back by bus. Learn about Vitra at design-museum.de.

More

There is so much more: a lovely little paper museum set in a working medieval paper mill; a guided tour of the city’s architectural highlights (guide Rudolph Suter is brilliant!); a good bit of street art, loads of design centric boutiques and attractive spots for eating and drinking; and … well, I hope you get the point! There’s a lot to admire in Basel.

This just about concludes my Basel City Break miniseries. I’ll ‘officially’ wrap things up soon with a final post listing all the posts in this series. Merci vielmal!

Posted in Art, Basel City Break, Design, Germany, Graffiti, Museums, Shopping, Switzerland, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London Daily Photo: Coordinating Promise

LDP 2014.07.03 - Coordinating Promise

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eat Basel: A Tale of Two Surprise Menus

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Luckily for me, eating well in Basel is a straightforward matter. Eating well and cheaply is another story all together. But affordable options can be found. Here’s the scoop on two “surprise” dinners I had while in Basel: one a rather upscale affair, the other decidedly low brow and mercifully low priced. I’ve also listed a few other quality venues for food and drink that I came across during my Basel city break.

Restaurant Rubino

My first evening in Basel presented an opportunity to enjoy one of the more refined dining experiences of an especially delicious year at the lovely Restaurant Rubino, where diners are invited to leave any irksome decision making with Chef Manuela Buser and go with her Menü Surprise. So I did and was indeed glad to have done so. Basically, I was asked if I preferred vegetarian, meat or fish and if I was up for two, three, four or five courses. I requested a three course mix of meat and fish.

Soon enough a fantastic Trentino white wine (Muri-Gries Sudtirol Terlaner Weissburgunder 2012) was brought to my table along with a “pizza Margherita divided” amuse bouche – both of which were so perfectly pleasing to my palate that they left me wondering if somebody actually had been studying my blog in anticipation of my visit. A starter course of tuna tartare with gremolata followed by a magnificent main of veal in a lemon sauce served with roasted baby potatoes and seasonal vegetables and paired with a glass of Syrah from Cyprus (was actually good) kept the taste buds popping. A finale course of Jaipur curry crème brûlée intrigued and delighted in equal measure.

Service was gracious and friendly. The dining room: airy, clean, and filled with natural light. Plan to spend at least 75CHF (about £50) for a couple of courses with wine. Making a reservation would be wise. Restaurant Rubino is located at Luftgässlein 1, CH-4051 near the city’s main cathedral (Basler Muenster).

Visit the restaurant online at rubino-basel.ch.

Restaurant Eintracht

My second surprise dining experience came the next evening at Restaurant Eintracht, a quaint and family run dinner located across the Rhein in the traditionally working class neighbourhood of Kleinbasel. Eintracht is famous (among Baslers anyway) for its “mega” Cordon Bleu. But based on a local’s recommendation (cheers Lea!), I opted for the “menu mir isch glich” which at 9.90CHF (roughly £6.50) was a veritable bargain. “Mir isch glich” translates to something along the lines of “whatever you’ve got, I’ll eat it.”

During my din-din the kitchen had fleischkäse (something along the lines of mortadello) at hand. Plenty of it as well. I got two steak-sized cuts of fleischkäse preceded by a cup of veggie soup and served with a heap of rosemary seasoned fries. It all went down a charm with a glass of Swiss lager Feldschossen.

Service was personable and appreciative. The vibe was homey. Restaurant Eintracht is located at Oetlingerstrasse 64, 4057.

For details go to eintracht-basel.ch.

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More

Here are a few other tasty highlights from my Basel city break:

Acero: Ace little eiscafe (cafe serving ice cream) with lots of homemade treats and a lovely and spacious garden in the back. Excellent pistachio ice cream here! eiscafe-acero.ch

Buvette Landestelle: Hanging out by the river and drinking a cold one seems to be as Basel as it gets – in the summertime anyway. And a great place to do just that is at Buvette Landestelle. Once a “favela” installation for Art Basel 2013, this open air bar and restaurant is the place to be if you like the idea of a laid back and post industrial setting with loads of street art to admire. landestelle.ch

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Glaus’s: Traditional cheesemonger on upscale retail row of Spalenberg Strasse with more than 250 different cheeses, mostly Swiss. There’s no online presence that I can find but the address is Spalenberg 12, 4051. Telephone number is 0612618008.

Läckerli Huus: Basler läckerli is a gingery biscuit, and according to just about everybody I encountered this huus sells the best in town along with a range of other traditional sweets. lackerli-huus.ch

Läderach: Maybe you’ve heard that the Swiss have a thing about milk chocolate? Well in Basel, Läderach is reckoned to be the top shop for chocolate yummies for all price ranges and occasions. laederach.com

Union Restaurant: This cool “American” style restaurant with an awesome burger menu was a perfect venue for catching some World Cup action on the big screen. My waitress asserted my Brie bacon burger was to be the best I would ever have. It wasn’t, but it might well have been the most gorgeous smelling cheeseburger ever to have been placed beneath my greedy chin. Yummy stuff! A glass of the region’s own Quintus, Valentin Schiess Pinot Noir, Gamaret was a winner too. The look and feel of this place was kind of like a Swiss outlet of the London burger chain, Byron. Prices were in line with that comparison too, maybe a little more dear. union-restaurant.com

More posts about my Basel weekend are on their way. So please keep an eye out for more tips on having a Rhein time in this compact city that’s big on culture.

Posted in Basel City Break, Beer, Chocolate, Drink, Food, restaurants, Shopping, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rachel Khoo and the Patisserie of Steam at Miele Gallery, Regent Street

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Open now until 4 July at the Miele Gallery, Regent Street is a “Steam Patisserie” pop-up featuring treats by TV pastry chef Rachel Khoo made using Miele Combination Steam Appliance including the world’s first ever Doreo, an “exciting dessert hybrid of a doughnut and “the crumbly classic American cookie.”

Guests of the pop-up can sample Rachel’s steam creations, such as the Doreo which is only available during the event.There’s also a chance to sit in on a range of master classes this Friday to learn how to cook Rachel’s signature pastry dishes along with the Doreo using steam. You can even catch a demo of how to bake the perfect loaf of bread with steam.

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The Steam Patisserie events are free of charge and can be booked through sending an RSVP to mielesteampatisserie@frankpr.it.

Timings for Steam Patisserie:
11.30am to 12pm
12.10pm to 12.50pm
12.50pm to 1.30pm

 How to … Master Classes:
 The Master Classes are £35 per head. To book a place call Miele on 0845 365 6610.

 Timings for Master Classes (Friday 4 July):
 Rachel’s Recipes and the Doreo: 9am to 1pm

Miele Gallery is located at 15-19 Cavendish Place, W1G 0QE. Find out more at miele.co.uk/showrooms/london.


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Sleep Basel: The Passage

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During my Basel city break, I stayed at The Passage. Only open since February of this year, the sleek and minimalist four star hotel served as a conveniently positioned base for exploring the city and a comfy HQ away from home that was well worth returning to.

My room met my approval. The bed was large and with a firm mattress (good pillows too), and I had total blackout darkness whenever I wanted to sleep. The walk-in shower was spacious with ample water pressure from both a handheld head and Rainshower.

There was one pesky feature though: a speaker in the bathroom that was connected to the TV. Every time I turned the set on, this speaker came on too (and fairly loudly at that) and could only be turned down by doing so manually in the bathroom. The first time this happened I was already in bed and it was late at night. It took me awhile to figure out why I couldn’t manage to reduce the volume by remote control and then it took some time to realise where the sound was coming from and then where the switch was to remedy the situation.

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Everything else about the hotel was lovely. Each member of staff was friendly and helpful. The fitness room and sauna were fantastic. I even had to do a spot of work while there, one evening in my room and also in the lobby during the afternoon of my last day before heading to the airport. I gladly report there was never any issue with the free WiFi and that both settings were conducive for out-of-office admin and focused writing. All in all, it was easy for me to see why this place has such near perfect TripAdvisor ratings.

From The Passage, it was incredibly easy to go anywhere in or near the city. Most sights (the river, tons of museums, loads of shops, plenty more) were with easy walking distance, and public transport was readily at hand usually just outside the hotel or just a short and pleasant stroll away at the hubs of Marktplatz and Barfüsserplatz. As I mentioned in my introductory post about my visit to Basel, upon arrival at the hotel I was given a free Mobility Ticket which allowed me access to all of the city’s public transportation for the entirety of my stay. And as I understand it, all Basel hotels give Mobility Tickets to all their guests. Travel time between The Passage and the airport by bus took less than half an hour.

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I’ll blog more about my weekend in Basel over the next few days. Please stay tuned for more tips on having a Rhein time in this compact city that’s big on culture.

The Passage is located at Steinengraben 51, CH-4051. I loved the place and am happy to recommend it to you. Find out more at thepassage.ch.


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London Daily Photo: Promise Foundation’s Josephine Campbell

LDP 2014.07.02 - Promise Foundation's Josephine Campbell

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Basel: Taking the Make My Switzerland App for a Spin

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Obviously you’ve heard about Switzerland’s stunning panoramas of and from its mighty Alps. But for my first of hopefully many more visits to this friendly little Alpine nation, I found the views shared via a handy Swiss app to be a real wonder to behold as well. The free to download app, called Make My Switzerland, is available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store and offers a wealth of insider knowledge about the things that savvy locals love best in seven Swiss cities – Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, and Zurich. I gave the app a whirl over an especially fun weekend in Basel, and I’m more than happy to recommend the city and the app to anybody keen to explore a delightful and compact destination that’s big on culture.

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During my three night stay in Basel I ate super well; marvelled at truly amazing modern architecture and contemporary design (Basel is home to star-itects Herzog & de Meuron, and furniture company Vitra has its headquarters nearby); and took in some of the best art exhibitions I’ve seen in a very long while. From figuring out where to get the best ice cream to which among the multitude of Basel museums were not to be missed, the Make My Switzerland app served as a useful resource for accessing much of what I enjoyed most  – both for doing research before my trip and while on the ground.

I was inspired and impressed and would love to go back – and if my next visit is to turn out anything like this last trip did then doing so will be a piece of cake.

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My Swiss International Air Lines flight from London City to EuroAirport (just over the Swiss border in Mulhouse, France) was a breeze and surprisingly short at only an hour and a half. Getting into town was hassle free and fast. I reckon it took about 20 minutes for me to arrive at my city centre hotel from the airport. Much of what I wanted to see and do was within easy walking distance from my hotel. But when I relied on busses and trams, public transport proved to be the stuff of dreams: efficient, comfortable, clean, and free! Yeah, check this out – I was given a free Mobility Ticket when I checked into my hotel which allowed me access to all of the city’s public transportation for the entirety of my stay. And as I understand it, all Basel hotels give Mobility Tickets to all their guests. Wow.

I’ll blog more about my Basel City Break over the next few days. Please stay tuned for more tips on having a Rhein time in Basel.

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Posted in Apps, Art, Basel City Break, Design, Drink, Food, Freebies, restaurants, Shopping, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London Daily Photo: Become a Person of Influence #Yimby

LDP 2014.07.01 - Become a Person of Influence

The Promise Foundation is inspired by Promise Campbell, who at the age of twelve benefited greatly through a relationship with a mentor leading her to achieve things far beyond her own expectations.

The foundation is based at Queens Park Community School in North London where Promise attended school when she was a student.Much of the initial funding to start the foundation was sourced via Yimby, an online crowdfunding tool for social good.

If you have a project you’d like to start which may require some funds to make it happen, Yimby could be the perfect option. So what will you change?

Posted in Good Cause, London, London Daily Photo, Photography, Yimby | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment