Thursday, 28 February 2013

Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall

My first visit to this magnificent building, and I loved it. Can't wait to come back for the Proms later on in the year - part of my 1000 things :-)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Namco Funscape (43/1000 & 44/1000)

(#76 & #688 in the book, #321 {17 Nov) in TolTol, #90 in Under £10 book)

Ok, so this is in all 3 of the books... a fairly popular place obviously!

As @londonfox and I had dragged @chrisnotwell around the shops all day (to be fair, we had given him booze!), our bribing material was to come here. I've been here a few times with my work, and so I *might* have had a few tokens left over from our times here, so that was as good enough incentive to come (thanks work!).

Just a few tokens
When we arrived, we headed downstairs and had a go on a few of the games, starting off with the Need for Speed racing game. @chrisnotwell and I both lost in the first round. @londonfox however won her game... and the next 5 or so. So off @chrisnotwell and I went to go play some air hockey - my favorite arcade game of all time (well, along with the 2p machine) and I'm happy to say that I whipped his behind 7-4. Go @tadders! After this mighty win of mine, we popped back over to @londonfox who was still playing on the stupid racing game. As I said in my Hole in the Wall blog... mispent youth! We were quite bored of this by now, so we abandoned her and went upstairs to find a game we could play.

Then we came across a 2 player game where we get to shoot zombie skeletons, and use a ships wheel. Awesome. @londofox eventually finished her racing game and came up and found us. It was now time for her to be ignored while we played :)

We were there for quite some while, and eventually after about the 5th continuation, we decided to move on to something all 3 of us could do… DODGEMS!

All 3 books mention to come here for one thing and that is the mighty dodgems. So we all took a token each, went off into three different directions and sat in our cars.

Let battle commence…

There was a fairly big group of people including a couple of little kiddies, not like toddlers more early teens, so apart from @londonfox and @chrisnotwell being my targets – they were too. Cue evil laugh… mwahahahahaahaahahahah! Hey, they were gunning for all of us, so it’s only fair they get it back… life lessons and all that :)

I’d forgotten just how much fun dodgems are.

Once we’d finished our go, @londonfox was desperate to go on one of the dance machines. So we went on the nearest one to where we were, dumped our coats and bags for @chrisnotwell to look after and we went dancing. The machine was rubbish. Had weird Japanese dance music we had never heard of… so off we went to find the old school dance machine. Which we did downstairs.

After a quick alcoholic beverage (playing games really takes it out of you!), we wondered over to the dance machine. Boo… some couple were already on it. So I challenged @londonfox to a game of air hockey.

After winning 6-3, I ended up losing 6-7 and promptly sulked. Grr. This was meant to be my game!!

I didn’t have much time to sulk as soon the other couple went off the machine and it was our turn. Oh dear. I am truly terrible at this. It appears I have absolutely NO coordination whatsoever.

We had 3 rounds, they were all fast. We started off with 5, 6, 7, 8 by the awesome Steps, I thought I’d have been able to do that as I know the routine off by heart… but not on this version… I was a mess. Then we did Cotton Eye Joe, and I was awful at this too. The 3rd song was one I had never heard of and was ridiculously fast. So fast. @londonfox tried to keep to the instructions, but me? Nope, I’d given up and just spent the entire song jumping about like a loon. Pretty sure most people around thought I was a bit mad… at least I made @chrisnotwell laugh!

Action shot

In the book, you're meant to come and watch the pro's dance on the machine .. I think we (well I) took that one stage further and became much more than a pro, I be came an entertainer!

We had one more blast on the dodgems and then it was time to go home. We were pooped and ready for a big fat Indian when we got back nearer home.

As I had these tokens already, it was a very cheap night for us. Each silver token is worth £1 and the gold token for the dodgems are worth £3 each. So it can turn out to be a costly time if you're going as a family, but it is such good fun. All machines take cash, mainly 50p or £1 a go and the majority take the tokens. There is also bowling and pool tables there too so loads and loads to choose from.

@chrisnotwell and @londonfox saying goodbye
Namco is based at in County Hall right by the London Eye. For a full list of the bits they have there have a look at their website. County Hall is on Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB.

Play a mean Pinball (42/1000)

(#586 in the book)

The book has 3 pubs to go play pinball in, the Royal George in Charing Cross, the White Hart in Stoke Newington and the Hole in the Wall in Waterloo. Seeing as we were doing our little tour of Waterloo, the Hole in the Wall it was!

Now I'd never been here before, but @londonfox and @chrisnotwell had and told me to pretty much ignore what it looked like from the outside.

As you can see, it's basically one of the Arches with the train line going to Charing Cross above. Thankfully, being an East London gal, I'm not put off a dodgy looking pub!

You walk inside and there is a small bar on the left and then straight ahead is the main bar. And that is where we were headed for as that's where the "Medieval Madess" pinball machine was. The pub is full of wood paneling and brickwork and to me has a real old school, 70/80's pub vibe to it. I do like a pub with a bit of character!

There was rugby on the TV when we got there, so we got ourselves a drink (lots of good real ale choice), grabbed a table and waited for half time so we could go on the pinball machine.

Alas, it appears I am not very good a pinball. I lasted about a whole minute.

@londonfox however had a mispent youth and so was on there for much much longer!

It was fun though as I haven't played pinball in at least 10 years... probably a lot longer than that in fact. To play the machine is 50p a go so if you find yourself in there having a pint... go have a go. It very much put @londonfox and me in the mood for out next stop... Namco!

You can find Hole in the Wall pretty much opposite the main entrance into Waterloo Station, underneath the railway directly in front. It's proper address is 5 Mepham Street, London SE1 8SQ.

Drink at Bar Cubana

(#284 {10th October} in ToLToL)

After the very mixed shopping experience of a vintage shop, a knitting shop and a fetish shop, our last port of call on Lower Marsh was Cuban bar and restaurant Cubana.

The ToLToL book says to come here to have a drink on Cuban Independence Day, but that's not until October. So we though having a Cuban beer on 16th February was as just an apt occasion.

According to the book, it's rumoured that Fidel Castro was once a shareholder here. @londonfox and @chrisnotwell had tried to explain this all to me in the Crown & Cushion but I had absolutely no idea who they were talking about. I am a history buff, but it's all pre 1945 really and my knowledge of "modern history" is pretty pants I'm afriad. For those of you like me who had no idea who this dude is, he's a communist revolutionary and politician who stormed power and became Prime Minister and then President of Cuba. Am sure you can Wiki the whole story!

We were all pretty hungry by this point, and think in need of a drink after Honour, so in we popped. It was very very busy in there, but there was a cubby hole round the back of the bar that we could go and sit down grab a beer, and get some bar food.

Food wise they are a proper restaurant serving traditional classic Cuban dishes, but we decided to go for a sharing platter of sesame free-range tempura chicken, char-grilled free-range marinated chicken & chorizo skewer and sweet potato & organic chorizo croquettes, and some fresh plantain crisps with a fresh tomato salsa. Yum yum.

By the time we'd eaten this, it was 2-4-1 on the cocktails and as tempting as it was to stay (there was a lot of choice), we decided to head off out of Lower Marsh and on to our next pit stop - the Hole in the Wall.

Cubana is based at 84 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RG, their website is here and they're also @CubanaLondon on Twitter.

Find your Fetish (41/1000)

(#70 in 1000 Things)

Ok... I'm gonna say sorry now to any of my family reading this... I promise it's not the kinda shop I usually go into, but for the purposes of doing the book, I had too! And if anyone under 18 happens to be reading this, it's of adult content so please close this page and have a look at one of my other blog entries.

So Honour... Honour is a shop which provides "Fantasy Fashion and Accessories" and is obviously a location to visit within the book hence me going - and before anyone comments, I didn't buy anything!!! And because it is on Lower Marsh and we had already been to other entries of the book here like i Knit, Radio Days etc... we had to come in here too.

You know what kinda place you're going into when you have to be buzzed in. Myself along with @londonfox and @chrisnotwell stood outside the shop for a few minutes deciding if we were actually going to go in. Not sure any of us wanted to be the buzzer... then someone came out and I seized our chance and I walked in. Thankfully they both followed! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but there were lots of people in there which I wasn't expecting.

It's a small shop with two floors. Downstairs is mainly full of women's PVC/rubber/leather clothing (along with stockings and shoes) and upstairs has men's clothing (again, lots of PVC/rubber/leather) and accessories. There were lots of accessories. For such a small place they can fit a lot in. Ahem. I'll be honest, some of the things were quietly terrifying. They varied from vibrators, to masks, to handcuffs, to strap-ons, to butt plugs... you kinda get the drift. Lordy, I can feel myself going all shades of red just writing this!!

A terrified looking @Chrisnotwell -
not totally surprising with the size of the items next to him!
If you happen to be someone who is into this kinda scene, the shop has lots of different bits, so I am sure that you would find most things you'd be after. They also have a website which I think has a much larger collection and you can find them @honourclothing on Twitter too.

Honour is based at 86 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AB.

Oh, and did I find my fetish? Nope! And even if I did, do you guys really think I'd be sharing it with you? A girls gotta keep some secrets you know... ;-)

Rediscover your Knitting Needles (40/1000)

(#94 in 1000 Things book, #156 {4th June} in ToLToL, #884 in Under £10 book)

So on the same day that I discovered Radio Days, I also stumbled across a little knitting shop called i Knit London. Walking past I could just see a group of people sitting around having a glass of wine and knitting. I remember texting @londonfox straight away telling her I wanted to learn how to knit so I could come here and do that because it just looked so cool. Yes cool.

That was 18 months ago...

I am glad to say that I have started to knit! Yay! A little before christmas, @londonfox's mum and auntie came over to her flat to teach us (well mainly me as @londonfox can knit, and I had never done it in my life!), and I'm glad to say that I can now knit... kinda. I can't however cast off or retract any mistakes I make... BUT I'm new at all this haberdashery lark so it's a learning curve. To help me on my way @londonfox and @chrisnotwell brought be some knitting stuff for Christmas which is awesome :)

The top bit is my first ever attempt, the middle bit on the needles
is my current attempt and the book is my bible!
Anyhoo... back to the shop. We didn't pop in here to knit on this occasion, I'd have loved too (as I'm sure @londonfox would have too) but it would have been @chrisnotwell's idea of hell I think so we just stuck to having a quick perusal. They had all kinds of wool, books, needles, magazines and most importantly sofa and chairs to sit on to knit and booze at the back!

I just had a look at their website to get an idea of when they hold specific events, and it seems like tuesday nights is going to be the one for me... a knitting group for new knitters! Perfect. Does start at 6pm though, so I might have to be extra good at work and ask my boss very nicely if she'll let me leave an iccle early so I can go be incredibly cool and knit.

i Knit is based at 106 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AB.

Oh, on a slightly different (but still to do with knitting) note, if anyone lives near to the Rotherhithe/Surrey Quays/Bermondsey area, on the first thursday of every month there is a WWW (Wine, Women and Wool) night at a pub called the Ship in Rotherhithe. As the name of the night suggests, it's only open to us girlies, but it's a good night, all the other women are lovely, friendly and most importantly helpful with my lack of knitting skills!

Shop for Vintage (39/1000)

(#44 in 1000 Things)

So, I don't have may shops that I love, but this is one of them. Ladies and gentleman I introduce you to Radio Days.

I first popped in here best part of 18 months ago when I went to the Imperial War Museum which is just down the road. That day I decided to walk back to Aldgate to get the bus home and that is when I first stumbled (quite accidentally) on Lower Marsh.

I was only meant to pop in to have a quick look, but in the end I was in there for a good hour or so - trying some of the amazing vintage clothes on and also have a long chat with one of the owners. 

The shop comprises of 2 parts, clothing at the back and everything else you could think of at the front - including jewellery, ties, bow ties, stockings, phones, glassware, china, magazines etc... all from the 1920's to (my favourite decade the) 1980's.

This shop is just absolutely lovely in every way, really friendly owners and had fabulous content. Be warned, the pricing isn't cheap, but a lot of the clothing is old school designer and you pay a price for that (although I was told if you like something, tell the owners and they might be able to do you a special deal/price). There is also a chance they will stay open longer in the evening if you call on that day and let them know what time you'll be down.

Radio Days is based at 87 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AB. Just remember to spare yourself an hour or so when you're in there as you well and truly go back in time!

Watch Irish Hurling in an Irish Pub (38/1000)

(#278 in the book)

Next stop on our Waterloo day out was Irish pub, the Crown & Cushion.

Now, as you can see from the title of this blog, we're meant to go there to watch Irish Hurling. All I know about hurling is that there are 15 players in a team, it's the oldest team game in Europe - been played for circa 3000 years, - and looks like lacrosse from the photo's I have seen. According to the book it's "fast, furious and really quite violent" so perfect for watching with a pint in the pub!

Here comes the slight flaw in our plan... there was no hurling on this weekend and therefore couldn't possibly be on in the pub! But seeing as we were in the area, would have been rude not to pop in anyway.

So, the pub from the outside looks, well... a bit dodge. Don't let that put you off as inside it is a lovely old mans pub! 

Being in an Irish pub, I should really have had a Guinness - but as many times as I try it, I just don't like it. Really not my kinda drink and is far far too bitter for me (tastes like I'm eating coffee beans!). But not to panic, @londonfox didn't let anyone down and had half a Guinness. Well done that girl. Although she did get grief from a dude at the bar for only getting a half, that was mildly amusing! @chrisnotwell and I settled for Doombar instead.

As we suspected, there was no hurling on the TV - they had rugby and horse racing on - but that didn't stop us enjoying the pub. There was tons and tons of memorabilia, mainly Guinness but also some street signs (mainly Irish, but included a Rotherhithe Street one - which is very close to where I live) and an open fire.

Food wise, they do standard-ish pub grub like sandwiches and burgers, but there is also a Thai restaurant based upstairs and judging by peoples comments on @foursquare, the Thai food is pretty good. 

Ok... so back to the hurling. I've done a Google search and found this clip on YouTube. It looks a pretty cool game to watch!

I've also had a look at the @officialGAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) website to see when there are matches next on and it seems they're kinda on every other weekend until the end of March league wise. Then there seems to be a big competition starting at the end of June. That's when I'm gonna come back and watch it I think...

You can find the Crown & Cushion at 133 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HR.

Scooterworks Cafe (37/1000)

(#237 in the book)

So after we'd walked through Leake Street and taken in an art exhibition, our next stop was the Scooterworks Cafe. 

So we walk in, and we are greeted by scooters inside (like you couldn't tell that from the name), but also CATS! 

Sleeping cat on a chair someone could be sitting on!
I mean, what else do you want when you wanna pop out for a coffee? It's a pretty small space, but there is a downstairs and also an outside bit at the back I think.

Upstairs was pretty packed, so while @chrisnotwell and @londonfox ordered our drinks I popped down the steep spiral staircase to try and find a table for us all. Downstairs is even smaller than upstairs, but I found us a table. Phew!

So the book recommends this places for amazing Italian coffee and the cats. The cats in this place is pretty awesome, but I really don't like coffee, so that bit is pretty lost on me. So I went for a hot chocolate .. and it was yummy!

Mmm.... yum!
I was hoping they did food as I was staving, but they didn't. Well, technically that's not entirely true as you can can clearly see from my pic that they do sell tea cakes and caramel wafer bars, and they also had a few different cakes (all chocolate), but they don't do any "proper" food. Hence me buying the bits that I did... but hey, they were yummy so I was happy!!

Me kinda looking happy...
The cafe overall is pretty good (even without proper food), and it's also a bar to so you can buy alcohol if you so wish. Although it would have been slightly more exciting if we'd seen more that 1 cat properly, we were definitely expecting to see more. Think this is definitely somewhere we'll pop back to when in the area (and hopefully see more cats!).

The Scooterworks Cafe is based at 132 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE.

Leake Street (36/1000)

(#109 in the book)

So on Saturday just gone, 16th February 2013, myself along with @londonfox and @chrisnotwell popped on the bus and headed to the Waterloo area for the day. I wanted to pop to Lower Marsh and the other two decided to join me and as @londonfox has devised a number of pub crawls from the list I sent here, we added some of them to this too!

Once off the bus at York Street, we walked down a road called Leake Street.

It's basically a 200-ish meter tunnel connecting York Street to Lower Marsh that goes directly underneath the platforms at Waterloo Station. I'll be honest, it doesn't look all that great to look at (bit of a dodgy alleyway to most people) but what it does have is street art all the way from one end to the other.

Originally this tunnel was owned by Eurostar when the trains ran from Waterloo before moving to Kings Cross St. Pancreas at the end of 2008. In August of that year, probably the most famous street artist, Banksy, held a "Cans" festival where groups of artists from all over the world descended on this derelict tunnel and covered it with their artwork. The rest as they say is history... oh, and it's all completely legal.

As soon as we arrived at the tunnel we could smell the spray paint cans, me personally I love that smell (like sniffing a permanent marker, which obviously I'd never do... ahem), but after a few mins it was giving @londonfox a slight headache. There were a few people there doing their artwork as we walked though. And even some sort of film crew down there.

Ok, so there was some rubbish tags and normal graffiti, but in the majority there was some really good artwork down there. By all accounts, every couple of weeks the walls are painted over again so that another artist can come down and make their art known. My favourite off all the wall pieces was this one...

Pretty cool and apt for me (and @londonfox) being women cyclists :) Although I in no way look cool like that when I'm cycling!

Just after this, there was a guy standing outside an open door into one of the arches telling us about a free art exhibition going on. Quite intrigued, we decided to go in and have a look. This place is called the Vault (part of the Old Vic Tunnels) and was a maze of interlinking tunnels/rooms filled with artwork and sculptures by an artist called @DavidBreuerWeil and the collection was called Project 4.  There are 87 pieces altogether under different sections, Aspiration, Community, Commodification, Itinerancy and Continuity. These were my favourite pieces...
Emergence 2012
Life Line
Am very glad we popped in there, the artwork was fantastic! If any of you find yourself in the Waterloo area in the next few weeks, I highly recommend popping down the strange alleyway that Leake Street looks and pop into the Vaults to have a look at this exhibition. It's on until 1st March 2013 and is free!