Monday, 18 August 2014

A couple of days in London

Last week my girlfriend Emily and I went on a short visit to see friends in London. We were staying with our friends Stefan and Jemma near Queens Park and we met up with Charlie, who I went to Uni with and her lovely husband Dom. Stefan and Jemma recently moved into a new flat, so it was great to see this and to spend some time with them. 

On Thursday we headed to Camden to all meet up for drinks and stopped off at Byron for dinner. I've been a vegetarian for years, but was tempted by a very nice looking veggie burger and courgette fries, whilst my carnivorous friends tucked into some big juicy burgers! I really liked the retro decor in Byron and our eastern-European waiter was very friendly and attentive too. Would definitely recommend a visit to one of the many Byron restaurants.

Veggie food at Byron

We visited a cornershop in Bethnal Green, where EVERYTHING was handmade from felt! This is an art project by Lucy Sparrow, which I wrote about here. We made the most of travelling to that area of London by having a nice wonder around Shoreditch and Hoxton and mooching round some quirky shops on Brick Lane. Having been a fan of street art for a long time, I really enjoyed the varied styles emblazoned onto various surfaces around these areas. I put a few photos up on Instagram and someone commented on each saying who the artist was, which was cool. I've followed a few new accounts as a result of this, which have livened up my Instagram feed! 

I'm told this is by Mateus Bailon

I'm told this is by Ceptronix and Oddhouse

There are some really interesting shops at Box Park in Shoreditch, which I recognised as having been used on The Apprentice a year or two ago. Box Park is a semi-permanent collection of shipping containers that all house shops, ranging from High Street brands such as Gap and STA Travel, to small independent clothing brands. Next to this was also a lovely 'love lock' piece of fencing, which I would associate more with romantic places such as Paris, but was still lovely to see!

Love Locks in Shoreditch

Whilst in the area, I was pleased to finally visit a Rough Trade store. I've heard they're great and I've been to small festival pop up shops, but never one of the actual Rough Trade stores. There's a stage at the back of the store, with loads of fairly established bands programmed to play there throughout the year. Sadly there was nothing on while we were there, but Stefan was excited that Magic Numbers were playing there soon. Rough Trade serve a great coffee too!

Rough Trade East

Having been admiring street art throughout the day, it was really cool to see this in progress on the side of the Barfly, as we walked down Camden High Street later in the day! Apparently the graffiti artwork on the side of the Barfly changes regularly and it was great to see the artists at work on top of a cherry picker.

Street art in progress at the Camden Barfly

We were walking down Camden High Street to head to the Roundhouse, where our friend Jemma works. I've heard so many great things about this venue, so it was awesome to be able to finally see it. Alongside many big shows and performances hosted at this venue, they also have a huge youth programme and do a lot of great work in the community.

At the moment they have a beach set up on the roof, with a bar, fish and chips being served, deck chairs, beach huts and more ...in fact it's as close to being at the beach as you can get for the middle of London! Stefan couldn't resist making a sandcastle, which was quite surreal given the location.

Stefan making a sandcastle on a rooftop in Camden!

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