Strut is a dress agency and vintage store for men and women which opened almost two years ago. Word has spread among stylists and lovers of highly original and designer items about this cornucopia of once-owned designer pieces and sourced perfectly preserved flapper silks, thirties tea dresses, fifties frocks and iconic designers of later decades. On my last visit I saw an Alexander McQueen jacket at under £200, an Alice Temperley dress, vintage Ossie Clarke and boxed new Jimmy Choos ranged alongside Gucci loafers and Vivienne Westwood shirts and blouses. Exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly staff make for a great shopping experience.
Strut has recently opened a sister shop, Stroll, just down the road at 111 Church street, where more modest tastes can be indulged. Operating as a dress agency for the local fashion cognoscenti you will find high-end high street and designer bargains. On the day I visited £30 would have bought me a brand new pair of John Rocha brogues or a Betty Jackson jacket.
182 Church Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 OJL
Google map: bit.ly/b200bb
+44(0)207 254 4387
If you wanted a time machine - this is it. Like the name suggests, it's more than just clothes, it's a whole life.
Packed with all sorts of collectible items you could stock up on everything you might need to move back in time. From magazines through cups to clothing - it's all there.
As well as being wonderfully laid out, the staff/owners are extremely friendly and interesting and the stock is nicely chosen. A nice place to visit, it's a real experience.
Fur Coat No Knickers is a vintage wedding dress shop in Kingly Court just off Carnaby Street. The dresses are mostly forties and fifties and then altered to fit by two girls who spent years in West End Theatre fitting actors and actresses.
My wardrobe is crammed with vintage and I love the fact each piece has its own secret story of previous lives and mistresses. There are so many great, low cost vintage shops in London but if you are searching for something very special (with a price tag to match) then this tip is for you!
Relik is found down the end of Golborne Road you don’t really venture down. It stands defiant on its own as if it’s been snubbed by its Portobello peers. You will discover rail upon rail of designer names and high quality pieces - a sleek 1950s Dior suit, or some vintage Vivienne Westwood it’s all scandalously glamorous (you may find yourself rummaging the rails alongside Sienna Miller) but also surprisingly wearable
And as you pass over your credit card remember you can relieve yourself of retail guilt as buying into vintage means you can be ethical while enjoying your individuality. As my mother would say as she trawls the charity shops: “second hand has soul”.
Admiring the interior of this 1929 building from the loungers in the lobby, or just swimming in the pool, is relaxing in itself. But head downstairs for the steam rooms, saunas and an array of private rubdowns in a treatment room (salt scrub, sugar scrub, olive soap) to fully indulge. The Porchester Spa's architectural grandeur is offset by its down-to-earth feel; it has a distinctly unpretentious tea kitchen for when you need a bit of refreshment. Keeping cash on your person to pay for a private treatment poses a bit of a dilemma - where to put it? - but don't let that stop you!
One of the favorite pubs of Dr. Samuel Johnson and located only a few hundred yards from his home, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a must visit for Dr. Johnson fans but also stands on its own as one of London's truly fine pubs. People watch while enjoying a pint in what is for all intents and purposes one of the pubs front hallways.
145 Fleet Street EC4A 2BU
+44(0)20 7353 6170
Google map: bit.ly/dcX15C
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.
Cycle down to Springfield Park for a morning cup of tea at the Springfield Marina. Then continue along the River Lea. You can follow it all the way, alongside Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes past Lea Bridge and Millfields park. There are various pubs along the way, and lovely open fields with farm animals. Cycle all the way to the Olympic Stadium - and then around it on the pedestrian path if you wish - then continue along the Hertford Canal, alongside Victoria Park and the beautiful canal path to Old Ford Lock.
Turn right again along Regent's Canal, and come out to finish at Broadway Market for a cold drink or a cup of coffee. If that's all too tiring, refresh with a dip in Hackney Fields Lido.
In perhaps the most urban borough in London, it's the most beautiful and relaxing canal-side walk/cycle ride you can imagine, and with the added bonus of a tour of the new Olympic Stadium. Makes for a brilliant day out for all. An undiscovered gem of a park as well.
Take your bikes on the train to Clapton, Stamford Hill or Stoke Newington, and go down to Springfield Park from there. Springfield Park, Spring Hill, N16.
Google map: bit.ly/c2RKDD
If you start a day trip to Greenwich at Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs (easily and enjoyably reached on a driverless Dockland light railway trip from Stratford), you can walk through the historic 1902 victorian foot tunnel to reach all the attractions of Greenwich. It has beautiful wooden lifts to take you into the tunnel complete with lift attendants, historical in themselves. The tunnel drips to add excitement for the children to remind them of the river above, although I hope this is just condensation! Once through the tunnel you arrive right in the heart of Greenwich with a choice of river boat trips, the beautiful painted ceiling at the Old Royal Naval College (activity sheets for children to explore the paintings too), Martitime museum, Royal Observatory and massive beautiful park for wonderful picnics all within 5a five minute walk. No one in the family ever says no to a trip like this as there is something for everyone and can be adapted to anything the British weather may throw your way.
The Waterpoet has one of the best beer gardens in London. The garden is open all year round (even in the snow!) as it is sheltered between an old crumbling building and two modern style buildings. It serves delicious and very affordable food, hosts various quiz nights, it has pool tables and various TVs scattered all around the venue for those who love football, cricket, tennis or rugby. They also have a great choice of beer and wines. It has great atmosphere each time and super friendly helpful staff.
It is located near Liverpool Street station at 9-11 Folgate Street Spitalfields, London E1 6BX
Tel: 020 7426 0495
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xmzdnj
In terms of best beer gardens in the UK, my recommendation would be the White House, near to Clissold park in London.
It's run by a Turkish owner and the rear garden really feels like being on holiday in Turkey - there's bean bags everywhere, low tables, shisha pipes to smoke and so on. They do table service in their busier times which is great when the football's on. Two big screens to watch on out there also. The food is excellent in a simple-but-great Turkish way. Oh - and there's a pub rabbit! Better than a pub dog ...
Impressive beer garden where you can sit barefoot on the grass or a picnic table, with a pitcher of Pimms and enjoy other people's dogs.
69, Stoke Newington High St, London, N16 8EL
+44(0)20 7254 6626
Google map: bit.ly/mIjYhe
A little slice of heaven in the middle of Hyde Park. The lido is part of the Serpentine - a whole 100 metres roped off in the lake itself, just for swimming, be it a leisurely paddle or energetic workout. You can spend the whole day here for £4 which has to be the capital's best bargain! The lake water is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day so much better than chlorine or salt water. There is a little area to bask in the sunshine, a cafe, changing rooms and even a paddling pool for kids, but the real star is the refreshing dark lake water. If you are lucky it will just be you and the ducks - bliss!
Most idyllic place for early morning dip, watching London come alive with a memorable view.
The ponds hidden among the trees on Hampstead Heath in North London are large natural pools complete with changing rooms and large decking areas which allow for confident dives into the water or possibly more graceful steps into the hidden depths. Once in, swimming amongst the lilly pads, reeds and low hanging branches make for the most beautiful outdoor swimming location where you can cool off and completely forget that you are anywhere near an urban setting let alone right in the middle of the countries capital.
Saturday morning and a moorhen is busy repairing her nest. Nearby a new brood cluster, while one bravely ventures out over the still water. Trees overhang in heavy green and reeds, bushes and white flowers tussel for poolside seats - for this is Hampstead Heath swimming ponds and the swimmers are visitors to this natural wonderland. Brought up in nearby Archway, these cool waters drew me in after hot days at school and then later after work office. The secluded green fields around the ponds are perfect for laying out to dry in the sun with the weekend papers and a carton of juice. There are three pools, one for women, one for men and a mixed pond, all complete with showers, changing rooms, lifeguards and wooden decks to access the deep water. Each time I have brought a friend, its such a pleasure to see their glee as they swim with ducklings or float on their backs under the blue sky, worlds away from the bustling city that lies just across the park.
Just south of Woolwich lies Eltham Palace, a fascinating combination of a luxurious art deco home and a medieval royal palace. From 1305 to 1526 Eltham Palace was a popular country residence for the royals, it was King Henry VIII's boyhood home. In 1936, textile magnates Stephen and Virginia Courtauld restored the Great Hall and built their glamorous art deco home, which is a stunning masterpiece of 20th-century design.
Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich SE9 5QE
+44(0)20 8294 2548
Google map: bit.ly/l8IP09
A bar in Drayton Park opposite the Arsenal Football Stadium, the perfect venue for watching the world cup. Multinational staff and punter will ensure a competitive atmosphere, fantastic food and prosecco on tap. What more can you want?
020 7704 2387
66a, Drayton Park, London, N5 1ND
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wahhtd
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