Quite apart from having six floors of books (you can happily spend hours browsing) this store has a handy cafe and bar on the fifth floor which I found nice and relaxing having dodged into the store to get out of the rain!
203-206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LE
+44(0)843 290 8549
Google map: bit.ly/W4Nfj8
This flight of fancy is one of my favourite places in London. It's a few moments from bustling Hampstead but feels like something from another time.
The red brick Victorian pergola is a delight, crammed with plants and trees, the twisting paths and ornate walkways are a joy to discover. Each flight of steps leads to something new. I love this place in winter when the frost outlines the hanging vines and the sun sparkles on the pond.
North End Way, Hampstead, NW3
Google map: bit.ly/Vp3Izx
The Lea Valley walk is a lovely stroll for Londoners at any time of the year, but in autumn I think the combination of trees, leaves and water is particularly lovely.
For an 11ish mile walk, I recommend heading north from Limehouse to finish up at Ponders End, where you can catch the train back to Liverpool Street Station. For a shorter stretch start or stop at Markfield Park, about 1/2 mile from Seven Sisters and Tottenham Hale tube/train stations.
En route you pass the surprising and stunning Three Mills, the Olympic Park (albeit through security fencing), and breathe in the fresh air of the great green expanses of Hackney, Walthamstow and Tottenham Marshes - and then you're in the countryside with narrowboats and fishermen.
The whole route follows the reflective waters of the Lee/Lea in its various guises - from the Limehouse Cut to the Lee Navigation to the River Lea.
My favourite place to break the walk for a bite to eat is Pistachio's in the Park Cafe in Markfield Park which runs alongside the Lee Navigation.
For a coffee early on in the route, and good food too, you can detour to the Counter Cafe in Hackney Wick - it's on the west side of the canal at the junction with the Hertford Union Canal - which itself offers up a whole host of alternative destinations!
For me, the hardest thing about doing any of the Lea Valley Walk was working out how to get onto it. If you are walking from Limehouse aim for St Anne's Church - it marks the point where Commercial Road crosses Limehouse Cut, and there's access to the canal there. St Anne's is also one of Hawesmoor's churches and its website is great for directions - you can get there easily on the No 15 bus from central London, or on the DLR (Limehouse/West Ferry stations).
Lea Valley Walk information: www.walklondon.org.uk/route.asp?R=4
A Walk Along The Limehouse Cut Canal (lots of info about what you'll see on the early section): www.imvisitinglondon.com/limehousecut.html
Three Mills: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mills
Pistacios in the Park: pistachiosinthepark.org.uk/category/markfieldpark
Friends of Markfield Park (good map): www.markfieldpark.org.uk/
Counter Cafe: thecountercafe.co.uk/
St Anne's Church website (great directions): stanneslimehouse.org/location.html
TfL bus route map finder: www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/
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
There are innumerable books written on bike rides in the UK. But for the five million people living in South London there is a secret corridor into winding, empty country lanes, villages and a place that feels far from London.
Dropping down from Crystal Palace to Elmers End and through West Wickham you arrive at Corkscrew Lane, and suddenly its woods, valleys and rolling fields. The Lane takes you right to the top of the majestic North Downs and on a good day you can see 30 miles. You might touch 40 mph on the exhilarating drop to Westerham. Turn left to follow the ancient Pilgrims way as it winds through vineyards on its way to Canterbury, 70 miles away. Then it’s the big cogs to climb the elegantly named Hogtrough Hill (15%), heading north through Cudham and the pretty Downe to Keston. Cutting left down the steep hill by the Norman church takes you past fields and stables until suddenly you arrive back at West Wickham again. The last push up Anerley hill is helped by the thought of the amazing double expresso at Café Paradou on Crystal Palace Parade – the perfect place to nod to the other riders who meet there.
Begin in Crystal Palace, South London
Cafe Paradou: 10 Crystal Palace Parade
London SE19 1UA
+44(0)20 8670 7600
Google map: bit.ly/GSITc8
This very trendy bar is located on the seventh floor overlooking Leicester Square. Apart from it being a great bar, is has some of the best views across the square and across London for that matter.
Christopher Wren’s The Monument has been impressively restored creating a new glittering landmark for the city sky line. Built between 1671 and 1676 it commemorates the great fire of London; the origins of the fire supposedly close to this spot. The viewing deck at the top provides excellent views over the surrounding areas and a great view over to the rapidly developing new London Bridge complex on the south side of the river. At the top visitors are protected by a wire mesh; the real fright is the very narrow and steep 311 stairs. This is a great experience for a mere £3 and children (and adults) will love the certificate you receive acknowledging your climbing achievement.
Fish Street Hill
+44 (0) 207 626 2717
Closest tube: Monument and London Bridge Closest station: London Bridge
Open: 9.30am – 5.30pm every day (except Christmas and New Year)
Google map: bit.ly/oolpuf
* Sophie is our Been there local for London. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-sophie-mitchell-intro.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/SophieMItchell
When I'm feeling flush, I like to treat myself to a dinner on the eighth floor of the OXO Tower and marvel at the views of the city from the huge summer terrace - summer weather permitting!
The British-Asian fusion cuisine is pretty tasty too.
When I tell friends I know of a haven of peace and tranquility in Peckham I am often met with raised eyebrows, but it does exist! Peckham Rye Park is a beautiful oasis located to the south of the bustling, noisy streets.
Peckham was mentioned in 1087 in the Doomsday Book, when it was called Pecheha, an Anglo Saxon word meaning 'village among the hills'.
During the reign of Henry 1, Peckham was a farming village and the land was used for growing crops and fruit. By the 18th century it was famous for its melons, figs and grapes.
In 1767, William Blake visited Peckham Rye and had a vision of angels in an oak tree. The ''Angel Oak', as it was later called, has since disappeared
The park's original layout opened to the public in 1894. There is a large lake and several smaller ponds alive with noisy ducks and geese, a Japanese garden, arboretum, bowling green and woodland walks. My favourite spot is in the Sexby Gardens where plots of lavender give off a wonderfully soporific, mid-summer ambience.
During the Second World War, temporary huts were erected to detain Italian prisoners of war. One still remains, located next to the café.
Peckham Rye Park
Peckham, London SE22 0LR, +44(0)20 7525 1052
Open until 20.30 during the summer
Bus 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/nBHHNT
Crocodile Cafe in Muswell HIll. Mad service and strange food, but good coffee and a quirky terrace. Inside, the room is quiet, without baristas crashing their espresso filters on the bin. Stunning views across London.
122 Muswell hill
Lurking in the hinterland that is Hack-Hack-Hackney, this little bit of east has most definitely missed out on the regeneration, but it's also missed out on the outlaw years of estates, grime and crime. It's a beautiful spot offering tranquillity amongst the sprawl, where you can stroll along the river, watch the wildlife scuttle by, catch a real odd (but truly unique) pint at the Hope and Anchor, or pick up a fry-up at the cafe opposite Lea Valley Marina. Beautiful, chilled and totally hidden.
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.
I'm definitely more of an urban type and enjoy a regular matinee screening at the Barbican cinema followed by noodles in Smithfield.
Sometimes though, I enjoy a trip to Harrow-on-the-Hill, especially in the autumn.
My partner, who lives there, gave me a guided tour one weekend. We strolled upwards about 10 minutes from the tube (Metropolitan Line), past the famous Harrow school, to St Mary's Church on Church Hill. The atmospheric churchyard is where Lord Byron sought inspiration. We cut down a dark passage through the trees leading from the gravestones into an open area which had amazing views across London.
Another short walk back to the church and down the High Street and we were at The Castle Inn pub. We had lunch on the lovely garden terrace, where some windfall apples had fallen on the ground around our feet.
Castle Inn pub on 30 West Street (020 8422 3155)
The hidden gem that is the Regent's Canal goes from Angel right out to Limehouse.
The western end of the canal gives you Camden and Little Venice... the eastern end gives you London's industrial heritage, the amazing Victoria Park, Bow, a quick detour for the Colombia Road flower market on a Sunday and Broadway Market on a Saturday.
But now I'm having second thoughts about posting this because it's a rare treat and we don't want too many people bounding down the tow path...
Angel Tube, then turn down the street next to The York pub. Walk as far as you want...
If you need to travel between the West End and Canary Wharf then using the Thames Clipper boat is a great way to travel and do some sightseeing en route. Regular services run from Embankment and Waterloo among others to Docklands and Canary Wharf.
For a great dining experience on the Thames in East London, not far from the City, try visiting the Shad Thames area and Pont de la Tour. Great seafood, wine and atmosphere overlooking Tower Bridge. They have both a relaxed bistro and a more formal dining room for business dinners.
The Butlers Wharf Building
36d Shad Thames
London SE1 2YE
Tel: 020 7403 8403
This small pub was build in 1720. Right on the riverfront of the Thames. Excellent views of the river - good food and beer.
76 Narrow Street Limehouse E14 8BP
When in London, a visit to Greenwich is a must. See the Observatory and take a walk at Greenwich Park, and visit the National Maritime Museum that has free admission daily 10.00 am to 17.00 pm.
This is a hidden gem, set in the greenfields of Fairlop Waters in Ilford. Phenomenal chilli chicken, and excellent veggie options.
The food is supposed to be authentic Mumbai cuisine, which is the one place in India where you can find the whole country's various delicacies united. It overlooks a lake, and you can smoke some great apple mint tobacco in their sheeshas. Great value for money.
It's in the Fairlop Waters complex on Forest Road, Barkingside, Essex, London, IG6 3HN. Fairlop tube (central line) is just a few minutes walk away. I found it here: www.london-eating.co.uk/6766.htm
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