Category Archives: Travel

Thai Temptations

Blue skies and white sand in Thailand

If the sunny weather is making you dream of foreign climes, this could be your lucky weekend!

Thailand at Trafalgar Square is a celebration of the SE Asian country, and this Saturday, June 5 sees all sorts of Thai treats hit town.

There’ll be a parade, Thai dance, Thai Boxing and traditional Thai music all happening on stage.  As well as all that, there’ll be lots of tasty food and drink to try out.

Thai street food

The event kicks off at 12pm in Trafalgar Square and is free to enjoy.

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus

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Escape To….Lincoln

Abraham, Nebraska, the dude from Prison Break.  All fine Lincolns.

But none as fine as our very own one. Behold Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England.

The cathedral towers above Castle Square

A city bursting with history, Lincoln can be traced back to the 1st century BC – the name Lincoln is thought to be taken from Iron Age Celtic ‘Lindon’, meaning pool.  It’s centered around Brayford Pool (probably where the name came from), where the University now lives, and the River Witham runs through the centre.

Through the ages many people have come and gone, including the Romans (some Roman arches still stand in the Bailgate area) and Normans – William the Conqueror built Lincoln Castle, which houses one of the only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta in the country.

One thing you’ll never miss on a trip to the city though, is Lincoln Cathedral.  Perched at the top of the Steep Hill (more on that later), it can be seen for miles around and has even doubled up as Westminster Abbey in the film The Da Vinci Code.

Entry to the Cathedral is £5 adults/£3.75 concession, and once you’re inside you must go and hunt for the Lincoln Imp (not to be confused with the Lincoln Imp pub on one of Lincoln’s council estates).

The top half of the Steep Hill

Both the castle and cathedral are at the bottom end of an uphill area of the city called the Bailgate.  An historic area of the city, it’s full of small independent shops and boutiques, as well as some lovely pubs and restaurants.  Gino’s, an Italian, is one of Lincoln’s most well thought of places to eat; there’s also the Ice Cream Parlour just off Castle Square, which sells homemade Lincolnshire ice cream – and needless to say, is very popular in the summer.

Shopping

Move away from the Bailgate, and you hit The Steep Hill on your way down into the city.  It’s not called Steep for nothing – going down is almost as difficult as going up because of the incline – but there’s a handrail to aid you, should you need it.

The Steep Hill is also home to more boutiques and historic restaurants.  The Wig & Mitre pub and Brown’s Pie Shop, are two of Lincoln’s long-standing favourites, and definitely worth a visit.  Further down is Reader’s Rest, a second hand book shop conveniently situated midway on the hill.

The Wig & Mitre and Brown's Pie Shop

LondonLovelies is a fan of vintage shops, and there’s no better place to go in Lincoln than Tasty Vintage, situated at the bottom of the hill.  But you don’t have to be in Lincoln to see it’s wares; you can check out their website for vintage clothing and accessories.

Just past the vintage shop is the Jews House restaurant and Jews Court, built on the site of a medieval synagogue.

A Night on the Town

The town centre has become a much more vibrant place to go out since the arrival of Lincoln University just over ten years ago.  Although much has changed over the years, currently there’s Ritzy/Pulse/Jumpin Jaks on Silver Street, and Sakura and Walkabout on the High Street.  Along the Brayford Waterfront, there are tons of restaurants and bars including a Scream bar which has a club upstairs.

Other places of interest

The Usher Gallery is located on Lindum Hill (with free entry), and if museums are your thing, the Lincolnshire Life Museum on Burton Road might be of interest.

The Cathedral by Night

Further afield, Market Rasen – the town that was the epicentre of an earthquake a few years ago – has a racecourse which is worth a visit for a fun day out.

In the summer, the Castle hosts concerts in the grounds.  Previous shows have included Jools Holland and Liberty X.

December sees the internationally famous Lincoln Christmas Market, which snakes through Castle Square, the Castle grounds and the Cathedral.

Getting There

Lincoln is about 2.5 hours on the train, and is served by East Coast trains, changing at Newark for the East Midlands service.

In the car, it’s about 3 hours from London, depending on traffic!

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Filed under Food & Drink, Markets, Travel

The Monopoly Bar Crawl

As tweeted over the weekend (find me at @londonlovelies if you haven’t already), I took part in a Monopoly themed bar crawl on Saturday.

Bar 8: St. Pancras

As the title suggests, the aim is to visit a bar located in each of the places on a Monopoly board game, so the crawl started on Old Kent Road, for the hardcore that started early, that is.

I happened to join at Bar 8 (I think), which was St. Pancras.

We then moved on to Euston, and Marylebone, where we had a fuel stop and watched the rugby for a bit.

Whilst we were there, the birthday boy handed out property cards, which we chose at random and meant we had to do a forfeit at that particular bar.

The Route

The forfeits came from another member of the party who had come dressed as Chance, complete with laminated cards.

Most, but not all, were drinking related.  From Marylebone we headed to Mayfair, where the ones who made it (some of us got lost and/or separated en route) enjoyed (?!) £10 cocktails, before the group…regrouped…on Park Lane.

The crawl continued on – I left at Whitehall – until the wee small hours, but unfortunately it stopped a bit short of the 26 stops.

Fancy Dress Encouraged

Of course, fancy dress was encouraged.  We had people representing the boot, some sailors from the battleship, a top hat, the aforementioned Chance, and I went as a dog walker (the toy dog nodded it’s head and wagged it’s tail and everything)

Other details you might like to add to your own crawl are certificates that show how far along the crawl you are (see picture below).

The dog looks over the 'progress' certificate

Of course, you don’t really need to do this as a bar crawl.  It could be a fun (and much cheaper) day out just seeing some of the sights that are around the city.  Most of the major tourist attractions are covered along the way (for those not familiar with the London board, they include Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus, to name a few) –  perfect for exploring.

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Filed under Central London, Local interest, Travel

Escape To…

Every so often, London gets a bit too much.

The noise, the tube delays, all the people….what to do?

In a new feature to the blog, I will doing ‘Escape to’ articles on cheap getaways.

A Very Big House in the Country

So, in the first edition, we’ll be visiting the inevitable, sometimes dreaded, trip home.

This weekend I headed out to the West Midlands to visit family and endured home cooked food, peace and quiet and the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages.  It was a tough weekend.

For the small cost of the train or bus fare (or petrol if you’re lucky enough to have a car), you can be back en famille before you know it.

No money, No Problems

The best thing about going home for the weekend is that generally, you don’t have to spend anything.

In my experience, once the travel costs are out of the way, you don’t have to get your wallet out much, other than a few drinks down the pub maybe.

This weekend I was greeted by home cooked lasagne almost as soon as I walked through the door.  Saturday saw me head out into town for some window shopping, which then turned into actual shopping, but when I tried to pick the bill up my mother insisted she pay  (we were in Primark so I didn’t worry too much).

On Saturday evening we headed over to a neighbouring village for a meal.  My brother-in-law refused any money from me, and we then found ourselves in a comedy taxi ride home, where the taxi that turned up couldn’t accommodate us all, resulting in us being driven home in a van! Again, I got out of paying that one.

Priceless Benefits

Ok, so escaping London for the cheapness of home is not the only reason to go.  Nowhere is as polluted as London, so even if you head home to another city, it’s likely that the air will be cleaner.  There will be more space, probably more greenery and best of all you get to spend quality time with the family.

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Green Park and a Short Tour of Central London

I’ve been in London for a week now and last week I met up with an old school friend in Green Park for a picnic.  Funnily enough, on Monday I had a text from two other friends suggesting the same thing, so I went back (slightly more prepared in terms of picnic food, too).

I know picnicking in the park isn’t an original idea; far from it, I would imagine, but it was free (or cheap if you consider the cost of the food) and the park really is a great one.  As the official website states: ‘Green Park is quite different to its neighbour St James’s Park.  It is more peaceful, with mature trees and grassland’.  (http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/green_park/) Considering it’s surrounded by quite busy roads (Piccadilly, for one) it really is surprising about how quiet it is there.  My friends and I pondered more than once about how you could forget you’re even in the centre of London.

Built in 1668 as a deer park, it overlooks Buckingham Palace, which was built much later in 1837.  On both occasions I was there, the park was quite busy – not so surprising for a Sunday afternoon, but perhaps more so on a Tuesday afternoon just after lunch.  One of the nice things about the park is that there are deck chairs for hire, too.  There are also public toilets located at the Tube station which is quite handy and saves you having to try and find a pub or cafe nearby, as well as a small cafe serving refreshments.

Yesterday, I had a spontaneous visit into Central London again, this time to meet a friend in Holborn.  We wandered over to Covent Garden, one of my favourite places to stroll round (apart from having to dodge all the tourists, particularly in summer).

This area of town is great to while away an afternoon; there are enough shops to look around, lots of lovely cafes and street stalls  – Dinner Jackets has been there for ages, located by the Transport Museum and they do a mean jacket potato – and more often than not, there are street artists performing magic tricks or miming to the delight of passers by.  (Or not if you’re my friend Adam, who gets freaked out by the street statue performers)

Street Performer in Covent Garden

Street Performer in Covent Garden

One of my other recommendations is to walk up Neal Street to find Neal’s Yard, a small courtyard tucked away but offering an array of shops and cafes (Neal’s Yard Remedies probably the most famous), most with a vegetarian focus.

Here’s a tip – I ordered a hot chocolate with ginger, (which was one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had and was GBP2.50) from Neal’s Yard Salad Bar, but if you order it to take out rather than sit in you’ll save yourself a pound, and you can still sit in the courtyard, just on the central green benches rather than the proper tables.  People watching there was a good way to spend half an hour or so.

Neal's Yard

Neal's Yard

We also went to check out the Central Perk pop-up down Carnaby Street, but the queue was HUGE (it rivalled the line outside Topshop at it’s NYC opening) so we instead had a look round Kingly Court, which I’d never seen before.  A three-storey courtyard conversion it has loads of quirky shops and a great cupcake place in there.  Wish You Were Here, a load of pop-up shops from New York’s Lower East Side have taken over some of the shops, so they’re worth a look too.  Whether you can afford to buy anything on a budget is another matter…

Finally, I treated myself to some dinner at the Diner on Ganton Street (just off Carnaby Street) – it wasn’t so great for my budget, but the food was very good.  I went for some authentic cheese fries to remind me of my time Stateside;  it also doubles up as a bar later on in the evening.

One thing to note: Central London is quite easy to get around on foot.  The Tube stations are generally much closer than they look on the map, so there’s no need to get public transport between a lot of places  – Leicester Square and Covent Garden are down the street from each other, for example.

This is great if you’re on a budget!

Until next time….

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Filed under Central London, Travel