Imagine a combination of healthy herbs, flavoursome flowers, juicy fruits, alcoholic tipples and a little night music thrown in and you have London’s hottest pop-up cocktail bar.
Lovely Lottie, the ‘Cocktail Gardener’ has created a fabulous roof-top paradise with botanically-infused drinks straight from the garden.
Last year, Lottie completed a one-year horticultural course at Capel Manor with honours and was looking for a vacant plot she could transform.
She found the neglected circular plot on the roof of the Brunel Museum, just across the road from her home.
In spring, with the help of fellow students, Lottie transformed the plot into a beautiful, edible garden with six raised beds radiating out from a central sundial.
By day, this rooftop cottage kitchen garden can be visited and enjoyed by all, while on Saturday evenings in September, Lottie places shimmering, coloured birds and flares among the plants, puts out the deckchairs, takes off her gardening gloves and rustles up the most amazing ‘prescriptions’ – her cocktail creations.
Visitors sip divine drinks amongst the foliage; honey and basil daquiris, whisky mint juleps, raspberry mint martinis and lavender gin fizzes with lavender sprigs as swizzle sticks.
Lottie uses borage blossom as decoration and also creates inspired, imaginative – and potent – creations such as lovage with brandy, gin with thyme or chocolate mint in whisky.
As Lottie says ‘Although we use lots of herbs and flowers, our cocktails really pack a punch.’
The marvellous Midnight Apothecary will only last until the end of September, so visit soon and reap the benefits!
Midnight Apothecary is going on till Sat 29 Sept, but then they have two specials - for Halloween (Sat 27 Oct) and Bonfire night (Sat 3 Nov.) In between, Lottie will be doing the bar for the Royal Horticultural Society's harvest festival event on 9 October.
Free entry, cash bar
Every Saturday in September 5pm-10.30pm
Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue SE16 4LF
Nearest tube: Rotherhithe
Buses: C10, 188, 381
Tours of the Grand Entrance Hall at 7:30pm (£5)
Google map: bit.ly/RVPDWG
* Lucy is our Been there local for London. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-lucy-mallows.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LucyRM.jsp
Under-recognised but really fun for the family: my nephews went mad for the splash zone, a kids area open in summer. Plus lots of special kids activities as well.
For a fun London experience, check out the late night adult-only openings of the London Science Museum on the last Wednesday of every month. With 'no kids between you and the big red button' you can refresh forgotten science knowledge by checking out the rocket show (where the presenter proves he can do adult as well as childish humour), doing a spot of speed-dating, and contemplating the properties of sound while boogieing away at the silent disco. Best of all, it's completely free.
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD
+44(0)870 870 4868
Google map: bit.ly/AjDdSY
Keep little ones and teenagers intrigued on a shoestring budget with a day trip to the Natural History Museum. The impressive cathedral-like structure plays host to one of the largest natural history collections in the world.
The collection includes everything from microscopic slides to mammoth skeletons, a dinosaur gallery to Darwin’s work on natural selection and an enormous life-size model of a blue whale.
The National History Museum also offers special exhibitions, an outdoor ice skating rink (in winter) and a wildlife garden. Admission to the permanent collection is free.
The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons is a lot more fun that its name might suggest. It contains more that 3,500 specimens, mainly collected in the 18th century by John Hunter, the anatomist.
There is a vast array of pickled body parts, the skeleton of a 7’ 7” ‘Irish giant’, the tooth of an extinct giant sloth, and a slightly grisly display of pickled foetuses. More recent additions include Churchill’s dentures.
There is also the opportunity to try your hand at simulated keyhole surgery, and watch footage of brain surgery. Educational and fun at the same time!
If you really want to understand London at war you need to visit the Churchill War Rooms. Seeing the intricate labyrinth of underground bedrooms and offices, and the maps marked with strategic plans really brings home how real the threat of invasion was. You feel the tension in the air. A large part of the museum also details the life of Winston Churchill and political life during the war. While this is interesting the best aspect of the museum is in sharing a space with one of the most iconic men of recent history.
Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ
Google map: bit.ly/rThsFi
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When I tell friends there's a windmill in Brixton, they think I've lost my marbles, but windmills have existed in the Lambeth area since the Middle Ages. This dark and slightly sinister windmill, located just off Brixton Hill and before the notorious prison, is the only remaining windmill of a dozen in the area. Built in 1816, it was leased by John Ashby, a miller who produced stoneground wholemeal flour with his sons and grandson. The building was known as Ashby's Mill and has recently undergone extensive renovation. The work continues but, following a grand reopening on May Day 2011, the mill is open on and off throughout the summer. Well worth a little detour.
Packed from basement to ceiling with artifacts collected over a lifetime, you could spend hours, even days discovering all its treasures. Be sure to search out William Hogarth's An Election and A Rake's Progress.
Set in the garret of St Thomas’s Church, atop a rickety spiral staircase, is Europe’s oldest operating theatre. Fortunately, (by the look of some of the torturous implements used in surgery) it has long been out of service but still provides a fascinating insight into the horror of what it must have been like to be a patient - or indeed a surgeon - in the 19th century. A simple wooden operating table encircled by several rows of wooden benches, in what is essentially an attic, gives a very cramped and unsettled feeling to the visitor. I was told that the majority of cases were amputations, as internal surgery was too dangerous without antiseptics. Also, without anaesthetics the surgeons had to rely on heavy amounts of alcohol for the patient and a lightening quick technique. Apparently they could perform an amputation in under a minute, though patients often died from shock. Isn’t the NHS marvellous? Well, modern medicine anyway…
I recommend it because it is where eccentricities and esoteric objects are the norm. A shop/gallery/museum so densely filled with Victorian taxidermy, animals floating in jars, shrunken skulls and stuffed animals that even the shopkeepers still stumble upon unseen items.
More than just a shop, this is a display of Viktor Wynd’s personal collection inspired by his genuine interest in animals, skeletons and the thrill he gets from chasing, finding and purchasing rare and one-of-a-kind objects.
As much as the store can freak people out with jars of two-headed mini skeletons, human fetuses and just the general mass amount of dead, it is also full of inappropriately placed objects that let the humour shine through…a book titled Sex Instructions for Irish Farmers will be among a collection of fake, bloodied fingers and the books Wind Breaks, Coming to Terms With Flatulence and Whose Bottom is This?
'A free destination for the incurably curious' is what this small museum on the Euston Road calls itself, and it certainly is. Henry Wellcome was a Philanthropist and Collector of art and medical curiosities which are still housed in the original building. I pop in here regularly with my kids, have a pastry in the Peyton and Byrne cafe and explore the extensive collection of artefacts and interactive exhibits on display. Children get a free Wellcome pack and a friendly welcome. Oh, and they learn quite a bit too.
This is the perfect museum for kids. There is a lot there, an aquarium, a natural history museum and a music gallery, but all on a fairly small scale. Most importantly they understand that children need to do more than look, they need to touch, play and get involved, and here they can. There are magnifying glasses in the aquarium, quirky instruments to play in the music gallery, and fabulous and free creative activities and story-telling sessions. When you have exhausted all on offer inside you can stroll through the pretty gardens and visit the small menagerie.
Smack in the middle of Hoxton’s urban sprawl, the Geffrye Museum’s elegant 18th century almshouses are set behind a verdant front lawn and backed by historic walled herb and flower gardens. Indoors, period rooms extend chronologically, each full of furniture, ceramics and paintings, illustrating the history of the British middle-class interior from the 1600s to the present. The contemporary wing introduces a light-filled cafe with views onto the gardens, serving modern British fare, a book-filled shop, and the first of several children’s activities spaces. Beyond the Quiz Desk, ‘Feely Box’ (!), and tables teeming with children colouring, completing quizzes and reading lies 20th century Britain, as well as spaces for workshops, seminars and temporary exhibitions. A vibrant and community-orientated venue for young and old alike, it truly draws its period rooms into present-day London.
Hunter Collection in the Royal College of Surgeons. A smallchild friendly museum with a high gross factor which will thrill toddlers to teens! Adults will be fascinated as well. Ancient pickled specimens in bottles from Cookes Voyages etc, huge preserved elephant to the honey bee, videos of key hole surgery alongside a simulator. Magnificent sculpture, extraordinary portraits of various diseases and injuries and a quite beautiful art treasure of the human circulatory system pinned onto a panel! Both ancient and Contemporary exhibits. Years later my boys are still talking about the museum and love taking their friends there when visiting London. All for free as well and in the historic Lincolns Inn Fields. So central but so tranquil.
Had to be in the UK for business and extended my stay there, for two days before heading to Barcelona for the weekend.
I found a nice little studio apartment in South Kensington, close to Hyde Park and the Victoria & Albert Museum (beautiful building, great exhibitions). The apartment, Cromwell, was perfect.
I went shopping at Harvey Nicols and Harrods and visited the V&A Museum and the Tate Modern.
A restaurant worth mentioning is Tokyo Diner, near Leicester Square. Great, inexpensive Japanese food. I loved their social and environmentally-conscious philosophy.
In Barcelona I was very lucky to have beautiful weather and was even able to spend time on the beach. I found a great two-bedroom apartment, Girona Design 2B, in the Eixample, just north of El Born, with Aspasios. The Eixample is a very nice and quiet neighbourhood to stay in and still in close proximity of all the good stuff.
For the decor and the weight of history!
The cafe is located in the museum's original refreshment rooms, the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms. They are high ceilinged, with the original tile decorations depicting such themes as the Seasons and the months of the year.
We sat close to a large black range which I wanted to imagine lit, serving tea to ladies in long skirts and gents in top hats. The tea which was served from china tea pots was made with real tea leaves in large bags. There were large, adequate scones, lucious clotted cream and lovely jam - all in proper china dishes. We also had decent Victoria Sponge and fruit cake.
Tea, scones, cream and jam for about £6
V&A South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
Tel. +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Nearest tube station: South Kensington - follow signs
It's a delightful surprise behind the hustle and bustle of The Strand with a beautiful courtyard for fountains or movies, a museum of Russian artifacts from St Petersburg (The Hermitage Rooms) and a wonderful collection of paintings and other pieces of artwork at the Courtauld Gallery. There is a basement cafe at the Gallery, or a terrace restaurant overlooking the Thames, or The Admiralty for finer dining.
Every time we go to London we love to visit the science museum (South Kensington) and have such a special time walking among space ships, planes and many more; will not miss the basement area where there is a lot to do like experiments with water, foam house building etc.
If we can we will treat ourselves and book the IMAX tickets. Then we walk through Hyde Park heading to Selfridges on Oxford street where the top restaurant (Food Garden Café) has a range of yummy stalls like pancakes, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, baked potatoes and fresh fruit juices and smoothies. It's real treat, and kids love to choose their food.
After food we'll go to the floor with children's clothes and toys, which is really unique. Around Christmas they display a lot of pedal cars and other traditional toys for children to try and it's very special.
Fabulous, friendly museum... free entry, free lockers, lovely staff.
This is a lovely Almshouse and museum of interiors for the 'Middling Sort' or middle classes. Living space from the year 1500 to 2000 is set out along a very long corridor. Great fun looking at carpets, wallpaper, lighting and doors and how people lived through the ages. The Edwardian room is my favourite - lovely relaxing reading area with lots of current issues of interior magazines and books. Very child-friendly too.
Lovely reasonable spacious cafe and herb garden outside. A lovely oasis and never busy. Catch it in Nov/Dec when all the room s are decorated in period style for Christmas. Great shop too!
Liverpool St station (20 min walk towards Hackney).
The museum is housed in a former ice warehouse and features the history of the ice trade, ice cream and the canals! You can get a barge trip through Islington tunnel and down to Camden, it is hidden away in Kings Cross and is a perfect place to take the kids for an afternoon.
12-13 New Wharf Road
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