Since moving into my little treehouse flat in the North London sky, I’ve been trying to take it easy and not make too many plans so that I can spend some serious doses of time just enjoying having a little place of my own (and a shiny new Netflix account!) When this week rolled around and I had a look at my diary, I realised that it was once of those BIG weeks where I had accidentally made a million plans and booked, double booked and triple booked myself into oblivion but boy was it worth it. Here are a few of the highlights…
Monday: In The Mood For Love @ Battersea Power Station
You may or may not know, but the mighty majestic chunk of South London skyline aka Battersea Power Station is in the early stages of being transformed into luxury flats. With this in mind, Everyman cinema have moved in with their “The Power of Summer” outdoor cinema screen showing an impressively eclectic range of movies until 31st August. This will be the LAST chance to take a look at Battersea Power Station up close as after this it will turn into a building site and then turn into a swanky gated community. As soon as I heard about the Everyman pop-up, I knew I had to go, and it just so happens that they were soon playing Nick’s all time favourite movie (one of mine too – handy that) Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood For Love. I snapped up tickets and told Nick he had to meet me at 6.30pm at Victoria station but he had no idea where we were going. I love surprising as much as surprises myself. The night didn’t get off to a very good start in that the organisation for this event is… well none existent! You get absolutely no instructions on how to reach the venue when you book, and after hopping out at Battersea Park Station there is ZERO signage. Can you imagine how maddening it is to be able to see the giant place you are trying to reach, but having no idea how to get there?! We were going round in circles and I had to stealthily ask for directions at least 5 times before someone informed me that the usual route was closed (helpful) and told us to enter via Chelsea Bridge. Even at the bridge there was absolutely no signs until you had reached the entrance, all tucked away by some railway arches. If you do go along to a screening, plan your route like an army mission and leave a truck ton of extra time.
All the stomping around in the humid heat paid off when we got into the station and were met with this view. It’s such an iconic, epic piece of London history and really is breathtakingly vast up close and personal. The big white “pipe” like structure up the left side is the lift shaft for the builders. It reminded me of the lift up to The Wall of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. It must be nearly as high, right? Upon arrival we had about half an hour to grab some grub and we were really excited to hear that Street Feast were putting on the catering. Disappointingly, out of a capacity of about 20 food trucks and stalls, only two were open when we were there. Maybe because it was a Monday, but that meant the queues for both were insane. I pitched up at the one selling brioche buns of braised beef, and I ordered. Then I waited… and waited… and waited… and Nick had nearly lost his mind with impatience and I had nearly lost my mind at the slack service by the time we received our cold food 45 minutes later! GAH! The worst part was that there wasn’t even a flicker of apology from the staff that we were missing the start of the movie because they were being soooo slooowwwww. I think part of the problem is that when you book for the Everyman thing, you can pay double for “premium” service which means that you get waitor service from the street feast trucks to your cinema seat. As you can imagine this meant every waiter service order got shoved to the front of the queue and us commoners just had to suck it up and wait. I wouldn’t be such a whinge bag, but they ban you taking your own food in; so could at least offer a decent service in return. Oh and it was £2 to have ONIONS on your hot dog. £2?!
And breathe… As crummy as the service and the welcome was, once we hit the cinema we found front row bean bag seats with a perfect view and you listen to the movie through nifty headphones connected to some new-fangled audio system. That bit all worked perfectly and looked something like this.
It was such a special experience to be snuggled up outside in the summer air, watching such a beautiful film, with one of the most dramatic backdrops possible. Sometimes I’d be distracted by birds flocking into the chimneys or planes diving through the clouds to land, but that was ok because I know the film backwards and forwards. We both left the film feeling so alive with the memory, it’s one that will definitely stick around longer than the summer does.
Tuesday : Hays Galleria and Hills Balfour & Caxtonfx Summer Party
On Tuesday night Nick & I had been invited to a travel industry mixer and summer party hosted in London Bridge by Hills Balfour and Caxtonfx (off the back of my other blog; Twentysomething Burnouts) I surfaced from the Jubilee Line sticky and sweaty and with time to kill before Nick was due. I fancied grabbing myself an iced coffee from somewhere and pitching up to spend 30 minutes with my bookclub book Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton (which is SO good, and bleak in all the right, gripping ways) after ducking out of the crowds, my feet seemed to take charge and before long I was in the company of a long-lost love; Hays Galleria! When I first moved to London 7 years ago, I lived in Streatham and was much more likely to be found lurking in Southern spots. Hays Galleria was a home-from-home, I spent SO much time there and always took guests there for a nose around and to grab a cheap eat. It’s funny how London life evolves and expands and you can totally forget places even exist? I had entirely blanked it out of my brain until I stumbled across it again, and really enjoyed spending some time re-discovering such a London treasure.
After finding Nick, we made our way to the party. It was hosted in a third floor open plan office, giving a 360 degree view of London Bridge as the setting sun hit magic hour. The views were glorious (but I was too busy chatterboxing to snap any photos, woops) and the party was so much fun. Travel blogging is still relatively new to us, and having spent the first year of doing it… well… travelling, we haven’t met much of the UK-based community yet. It was great to put that right, and we met tons of lovely people. I think it’s always a great sign when the last dregs of prosecco have gone and the night has ended, and the hosts are having to encourage the guests out of the door! We were having such a good natter to everyone we didn’t want to leave. We also had the added bonus of the pleasure of Wish Wish Wish Carrie’s company on the tube home. I’ve been reading Carrie’s blog for over 5 years now (and about half my wardrobe is inspired by her!) so I was slightly starry eyed to meet her in person. It tuns out we are neighbours and have a bunch of shared interests (cheeseburgers, mainly) and she is such a swell, sparkly, down to earth beaut of a girl. Exactly what I’d have expected from reading her blog.
Thursday : Wolf Hall and Mishkins
Back on one of our first days of London re-living (I wrote about it here) Nick and I both had first interviews for jobs we really wanted and met up afterwards; realising we had dressed identically! We were walking from South Bank to the British Museum, when something on the Strand caught our eye… Wolf Hall was coming to the Aldwych theatre. Wolf Hall was a book that had a little home in both of our hearts; as we read the Hilary Mantel novels when we were both suffering from a tropical fever in Peru. They were dim days, and Wolf Hall had really kept our brains in a magical faraway place. At this point we were lodging with my Godmother, were unemployed and had a lowly £100 left in the travel budget. We had no idea what our lives were going to look like from week to week and it was really unsettling to be dropped back into crazy capital city life after 7 months in a hammock. We both swapped a knowing look and marched into the theatre, and spent the last of our travel budget on two tickets to Wolf Hall for the 18th July. We picked the future-date completely at random because we felt like by then surely we would both have jobs, we’d have a home, and we’d be able to look back at the date we bought them and see how far we’d come. And we sure could!
We had nose-bleeder seats up in the Grand Circle. I love the hierarchy of old London theatres; we weren’t allowed in the front entrance, we had our own pauper back-stairs! Our seats had a perfect view though, as a lot of the action took place at the back of the stage. It was 30-degrees in London on Thursday but amazingly the theatre had air conditioning, so it was a haven to escape into the dark for a few hours. I barely ever get cultured enough to go to the theatre, and it’s something I really want to do more of. There is something so mesmerising about the actors performing just for ME (well, and a room full of strangers but I just ignore that bit.) I thought it was a fantastic stage adaptation of an even more fantastic book. I think it definitely is a benefit if you’ve read the book; as if you haven’t there is so much texture and detail cut-out. The way the characters are portrayed would really bank your sympathies with different people if you hadn’t read the book to colour in the context a little more. That said, it’s an issue with any adaptation. The casting and performances were spot on with what I expected, and everyone gave it some serious welly. There was a scene from the book that I remember when reading I thought would translate really well to stage (the court mimicking of Thomas Wolsey’s demise) and it didn’t disappoint. The production design was simple, but very effective. I was completely captivated for the whole two halves and was so sad when the lights came up at the end. So sad… we might have picked up tickets to see Bring Up The Bodies next month.
Leaving at 10.30pm with rumbling tummies, we headed to a behind-the-curve recent discovery of mine; Mishkins “A kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails”. It’s the perfect spot for some late night munching, especially when out for a night in the theatre district. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, whereas the nextdoor Opera Tavern was heaving out onto the streets. The staff are always so welcoming, and the menu hosts an epic choice of cocktails (diamond fizz for me every time! Gin, prosecco & lemon) and the food is a really casual choice of comfort eats like sliders, macaroni cheese, salt beef everything, deep fried bits and open sandwiches. You can get large or small cheaper portions of all the options, so it’s easy to mix and match and order tapas style tastes of everything.
We got an extra side-serving of excitement when half way through our meal, the lead actor Ben Miles, who plays Thomas Cromwell and was sensational at it, walked in with two friends and sat opposite us. I snapped a very uncool stealthy shot; he’s the bloke behind Nick er… covering his face. I’m a terrible paparazzi.
With the courage you get from a glass or spirits down our necks, we approached him on the way out and told him how fantastic he was. His friends were really welcoming and clearly chuffed to have had him recognised! So we joined them briefly and told Ben about reading the book in poo-ru and he is an equally avid fan of Hilary Mantel, which you can tell in his performance. It was such a perfect surprise ending, to a night that had been a long time coming.
And that ends a big busy Bee London week, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the next one! I’ve been suffering from really bad Sunday-night blues since we got back from travelling, but this is the first weekend that I am actually feeling ok and looking forward to a week of rat racing and more out-of-hours adventures. Having a salary again is fun; as it means I allow myself one pay day Topshop treat and last month it was this palm-tree print shirt dress, which is the perfect new home for my Tatty Devine parakeet to reside.
Tags: A kind of Jewish deli with cocktails, Aldwych Theatre, Battersea power station, Bee Barker Blog, Ben Miles, Best London outdoor cinemas, Best macaroni cheese in London, Bethan Barker Blog, Bring Up The Bodies, Can I visit Battersea Power Station?, Carrie, Caxtonfx, Caxtonfx Card, Cinema at Battersea Power Station, Diamond Fizz, Everyman, Game of Thrones, Hangover Square, Hays Galleria, Hilary Mantel, Hills Balfour, In The Mood For Love, Is Battersea Power Station open to the public?, Is Wolf Hall worth seeing?, Like a skeleton key, London, Luxury Flats, Mishkins, Outdoor cinemas, Parakeet Necklace, Patrick Hamilton, Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC, stage adaptation, Street Feast, summer, Tatty Devine, The Aldwych, The Power of Summer, Things to do in London, Thomas Cromwell, Topshop Palm Tree Dress, TwentySomething Burnouts, What is Wolf Hall like at the theatre?, Where to eat after the theatre?, Where to eat near London Bridge, Wish Wish Wish, Wolf Hall, Wolf Hall at Aldwych, Wolf Hall Review, Wong Kar-wai