Saturday, 18 October 2014

Bars; the wish list edition

“Love is alcohol.” 
― Katherine Applegate


I've spent quite a lot of time recently going out and having fun, which is all well and good, but I'm already noticing that I'm getting a bit bored of my usual hangouts. So I've put together a little list of places I'm keen to visit soon. Might as well keep life varied!

Gong I'm fascinated by The Shard, I pass it every day on the way to work and I know that already everyone and their wife has been for dinner or drinks, but as yet I've not made it up to those gorgeous bars with amazing views for a cosmo.  I fully intend to rectify this in the near future.
Gong Bar Shard
Evans and Peel  I came across this on a blog a while ago and love the effort that's gone into the theme. Slightly out of the way of my normal haunts it remains on my list to visit.

BYOC A friend went here on a date and I think it sounds like a really cool idea, plus it's a bit different and who wants to go to the same old places all the time? You pay an entrance fee and take your own alcohol - then the mixologists make you a drink based on what you like! I'd totally take a bottle of Archers - don't judge.
BYOC Covent Garden
Hoxton Grill  I walked past this bar on the way to an art exhibition and immediately loved the vibe, before realising it was the bar and restaurant of the Hoxton Hotel.  I don't often go out round Old Street but I really want a pornstar martini here soon.
Hoxton bar and grill

Where's top of your list?

x

Monday, 13 October 2014

Friday Night in London

“To alcohol! The cause of... and solution to... all of life's problems” ― Matt Groening

On Friday night I had one of those spontaneous nights out that are typical of London.  After dinner and a show, we went for 'one drink' which ended with me in a taxi at 3am.  A great night!

We paid a fleeting visit to The Craft Beer Co in Covent Garden for a quick drink first. As a non beer drinker I stuck to vodka, but my companion was amazed and delighted by the choice of unusual craft beers and lagers on offer.  Plus it wasn't expensive either - especially for central London.  There was a great atmosphere inside, we got served really quick - props to the number of bar staff and there's a lounge area downstairs if you want to rest your feet.  They serve burgers too until about 10pm, which we didn't have time for on this   visit, but think i'd return to give them a try.

Then we headed to a local pub, which was bizarrely hosting Heat magazine a party so the DJ played 90s hits all night, which I loved.  After perhaps one too many vodkas and definitely too many selfies (which I won't share here!) the bar shut and we decided we were hungry.. well this is what happens when you stay up till breakfast time.

We headed into Soho, a very unlikely drunk trio, and headed to Balans.  As I've told you about before, I'm a big fan of Balans - mainly for their cocktails and their late opening hours.  Who doesn't love scrambled eggs at 3am?

After refuelling (and charging my phone up) I managed to order an Uber before anyone else and whisked myself home for some much needed sleep.

x

Friday, 10 October 2014

Wandering Weekend

“The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.” 
― Chuck PalahniukInvisible Monsters


I spent a lovely sunny Sunday in Horsham this weekend, only an hour's drive from London it's pretty much halfway between mine and my best friend's house so we often meet up there for lunch and a gossip.  
No change this time; we settled down round a table at Strada for a pizza and some catching up and then after a short stroll followed up with huge chocolate brownie sundaes at Sugar and Snow.

We couldn't even finish them, but it was definitely worth the journey purely for that amount of icecream, it was also nice to see my godchildren and then watch them run around the park full of sugar - there was no way I was running anywhere after that much food!



x

Monday, 6 October 2014

A visit to Bodo Schloss - Kensington

“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade...and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” 
― Ron White

Last week I ventured out of my usual Soho and headed to Kensington to visit Bodo Schloss, a nightclub with a distinctly Austrian feel.
It's quite weird to walk into a club you know is popular with the glamorous Chelsea set and yet find bar maids dressed like you've walked on the set of The Sound of Music, but I was up for the experience.  There's a restaurant service until around 10.30pm then the 'disko' starts.

I was in a big group and we were lucky enough to have a private table reserved and Ciroc vodka on tap, which makes any situation more enjoyable.  When you order a bottle you get it delivered with sparklers and fanfare which is fun but made me feel a bit like a nitwit - I suppose some people enjoy the attention.  
The music was a selection of RnB so everyone got their groove on. The DJ sits in a cable car which just adds to the bizarre theme.  The party was a celebration for a group of performers so pretty soon everyone was dancing away to JT, Beyonce and the like.  I sat drinking (and chatting) as per usual!

I called it a day around 1am and headed back to my comfort zone, partying on a school night? Who do I think I am?

x

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The 2014 Inspiration Awards

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 
― Jane Goodall

I was lucky enough to be invited to the 2014 Inspiration Awards for Women on Thursday at Cadogan Hall. It's a yearly event in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and it was the 7th ceremony this year.  It's always nice to have a pink carpet occasion so I wore an LBD and pink accessories.  There was a champagne reception before the show, so I sank a couple of glasses of pink fizz (can you spot a theme?) before taking my seat.
The audience was a mix of nominees, families, celebrities and invited guests who cheered for all the winners collecting their awards.  You can see a full list of winners here http://www.inspirationawards.co.uk/winners/index.html.

Celebrity guests and prize givers included Ray Quinn, Heidi Range, Vanessa Feltz and Louie Spence.  There were great performances from Camilla Kerslake and Micha Paris during the awards ceremony and a solo from an incredible singer, Emma Kingston who sang Listen from Dreamgirls which brought me to tears! 

I didn't actually take any pictures during the performance as I think it's rude, although it didn't stop most of the audience!  There were lots of paps in attendance so I just pretended I was a Kardashian for the evening!

The only photo I actually took was of my shoes... (I clearly have my priorities right).

I had a great night and got home much later than I planned - I wouldn't advise trying to do a full days work on 3 hours sleep if you can help it!

Photo credit: Getty Images

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Marathon Challenge

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.

Frank Shorter

This Saturday saw me, along with 17000 others, walk a charity marathon called the ShineWalk around London in aid of Cancer Research UK. The ShineWalk is a huge annual event and this was my first time.  In fact it was the first time I'd ever undertaken a physical challenge, never mind tried to raise a substantial amount for charity.

We started at 9pm in Southwark and the atmosphere was great - music, flashing lights and a gospel choir singing 'Proud' which brought a tear to my eye before we'd even left the starting blocks.  We were all feeling excited and cheery (well we didn't know quite what was in store!)

The walk took us along some scenic routes, including Tower Bridge and the Serpentine, but I have to admit after mile 15 I think I was just looking at the floor.  London is gorgeous lit up at night, but the sheer pressure of keeping moving for more than 7 hours is huge and every leg muscle starts to scream as you progress along the course.
There were plenty of pit stops to grab water or a banana and have a much needed stretch, but the novelty had well and truly worn off by mile 20 and the last 6 miles passed in quiet agony.
Along the way were hundreds of volunteers cheering us along and also loads of passers by stopped to congratulate us which felt a bit weird.  I can't tell you how good it felt to cross that finish line, all of us holding hands and have a celebratory picture taken.  We all immediately peeled off our shoes and socks and changed into flip flops for the journey home.  Already aching we tried to do a bit of stretching but I must admit that I'm not sure anything could have helped with the aches and pains I had the next morning.
On the super positive side, I made over £500 for Cancer Research, which I'm delighted with. (If you want to help click justgiving.com/ginarowland)  So despite my blisters and inability to keep my eyes open I am chuffed to have done my bit in the fight against cancer.
Would I promise you now that I'll be there again next year? Let's see how long it takes me to recover this time first... 

x

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Choccywoccydoodah - chocolate mecca

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” 
― Linda Grayson


Finally I have entered the chocolate mecca that is Choccywoccydoodah.  It's been on my list for so long and with a friend visiting from out of town I thought it would be the perfect place for 2 chocoholics to catch up.

Sadly we had to queue for half an hour to get a table - not ideal, but as it was a dry day and we had 4 months of gossip to catch up on it passed quickly enough.  The kind staff also brought all waiting chocoholics mini cake bites to pass the time - can't argue with that.
Once seated upstairs by our friendly waitress, we ordered hot chocolates (with marshmallows and chocolate sticks) and perhaps foolishly a slice of chocolate cake too.


hot chocolate 
cake heaven on a plate from choccywoccydoodah
The milk chocolate hot chocolate is definitely a contender for best hot choc of my life.  Creamy, thick, extra chocolaty and topped with whipped cream; what's not to like?  The cake might have pushed us over the edge -3 layers of sponge, ice-cream, sauce, chocolate frosting was perhaps a bit much - I'm glad we ordered to share!
If I've got chocolate, i'm smiling!
The shop downstairs is a total visual treat, the gifts are not cheap, but they are different, inventive and eclectic -you can even buy a chocolate cat (if such things float your boat).  We stuck to giant white chocolate buttons as early Christmas gifts.
Cakes on display at Choccywoccydoodah


All in all a great afternoon in my favourite, London town.

Have you visited yet?

x