This Festival Dedicated To Dessert Has A Melting Chocolate Wall

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Image: Me Your Meringue

A Dessert Festival coming to London is dedicating an entire room to chocolate… including a melted chocolate wall.

Yep, you read that right, the chocolate zone at London Dessert Festival promises a wall covered in the molten good stuff — as well as chocolate infused ‘tasting orbs’, top chocolatiers, and a chocolate wrapping room covered top to bottom in foil. Holy Cacao.

Image: Nosteagia

Among the other experiential dessert sections is a ‘frozen’ zone (where you can taste ice cream flavoured bubbles and get rained on by sprinkles) and a ‘patisserie’ zone, scented with cinnamon and cookie dough, and decorated in cherry blossoms.

Image: Yogland

There’s also a vegan zone, for dairy-free desserts. Farewell summer body.

Image: Cafe Forty One

Over 20 brands are taking part in the two-day even at Spitalfields at the Old Truman Brewery in east London, including Miki’s Paradise (freakshakes and crepes), Wheelcake Island (fluffy Taiwanese pancakes) Yogland (forzen treats), Nosteagia (bubble waffles and bubble tea) and Cafe Forty One (masters of the vegan dessert).

Image: Wheelcake

The closest thing to a trip through Charlie’s Chocolate Factory you’ll ever get? Possibly.

Doughnut mousse-out!

London Dessert Festival at Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, on 17-18 August. Tickets £12.78-£60 Choc out the line-up up of participating brands.

#london, #londonist, #uk

8 Derelict London Buildings That Time Forgot

Beyond London’s glimmering skyscrapers and grand institutions, there is a twilight zone of burnt-out factories and decaying mansions. Few people know this world as well as Paul Talling. The incorrigible urban explorer has released a revised edition of his book, Derelict London. Here’s a selection of abandoned buildings from this wistful tome.

1. A Cooke’s Pie & Mash, Shepherd’s Bush – A beloved eating emporium

Established in 1899, this family-owned pie shop traded from its Goldhawk Road site between 1934 and 2015. In its prime, the café was popular with Queens Park Rangers fans on their way to the nearby Loftus Road stadium, as well as with celebrity customers including Pete Townshend of The Who and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. It also features in Phil Daniels’ and Ray Winstone’s scenes in the 1979 film Quadrophenia. Ultimately run by the great-grandson of founder Alfred Cooke, it was popular to the end and its closure caused a local outcry: it was subject to a compulsory purchase order due to the redevelopment of the surrounding area. The Cooke’s company lives on, with the family now offering an online frozen delivery service.

2. Wilson & Kyle Brentford, Brentford – A tank and aircraft factory

Originally based around the corner in Catherine Wheel Yard, Wilson & Kyle moved to these buildings on Brentford High Street in the 1950s. The company made prototype tank parts, anti-aircraft gun equipment and assembly jigs for aeroplanes, and during the second world war, specialised in fuel-injection equipment for ships’ diesel engines. Having once employed 160 people, the company closed in 1998, and the factory has remained derelict ever since. The site is one of a number of abandoned buildings in Brentford. The whole area between the High Street and the River Thames has become run-down, with Hounslow Council issuing compulsory purchase orders on the remaining businesses. Plans are in place for a waterfront development that has been described by the Evening Standard as ‘West London’s Next Big Thing’.

3. Stanwell Place, Stanwell – A house that hosted a king

These gate piers are concealed in the undergrowth mere metres from the southern edge of Heathrow Airport. They once marked the entrance to Stanwell Place, a country house that was first built in the 17th century. During the second world war, the house and estate played a crucial role in the Allies’ military strategy. Sir John Watson Gibson, who lived at Stanwell Place until his death in 1947, helped design the portable Mulberry Harbours that were used to drop cargo in France after the D-Day landings. And in 1944, the house hosted two crucial military meetings attended by senior US commanders including general Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The house was latterly owned by King Faisal II of Iraq; it was demolished after his assassination in 1958. Today, most of its grounds are overgrown or used as gravel pits.

4. VIP Garage, Limehouse – Where sails were made

This workshop was built in 1869 as a sail-maker’s and ship-chandler’s warehouse. It was occupied by one company, Caird & Rayner, from 1889 to 1972, and was never substantially altered, so the building retains its original cast-iron window frames and two double loading doors that open on to the Limehouse Cut. Caird & Rayner were engineers and coppersmiths who specialised in the design and manufacture of seawater-distilling plants, which were supplied to Royal Navy vessels and Cunard cruise liners. The building is the only original ship’s store surviving in Tower Hamlets.

More recently, the building was used as a vehicle repair shop. Previous owners planned to demolish the premises to make way for a block of flats but planning permission was refused. The current proposal is to keep the oldest sections as offices, and build flats on the land to either side.

5. Lambeth Waterworks, Surbiton – Instrumental in sighting cholera

The Lambeth Waterworks Company, founded in 1785, originally occupied the current site of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. It moved to Seething Wells, Surbiton, in 1852 amidst growing concern over the quality of the drinking water being taken from the Thames.

Clean water from Surbiton subsequently played a major role in proving that cholera was a waterborne disease. In 1854, Dr John Snow compared families drinking water piped from Seething Wells with those using water from the Thames. He concluded that people who drank Lambeth Waterworks water did not contract cholera. From 1855, the Metropolis Water Act made it illegal to extract Thames water for domestic use.

6. York Road station, Barnsbury – A Leslie Green gem

This Underground station, a short distance from King’s Cross, opened on what is now the Piccadilly line in 1906. Always awkwardly situated in a run-down industrial area, the station never received many visitors. From 1909 some trains didn’t stop at the station during the week, and by 1918 there was no Sunday service. It closed completely in 1932.

The station was designed by Leslie Green, the architect responsible for dozens of stops on the Bakerloo, Piccadilly and Northern lines. He was famous for using ox-blood red tiles and elegant Arts & Crafts lettering. The raised writing on York Road’s façade was chiselled off in the 1930s, so that the new owners had a flat surface on which to mount their signs; these were removed in 1989, and the distinctive white-tile signage has been visible ever since.

With the recent redevelopment of the King’s Cross neighbourhood there have been proposals to reopen the station.

7. The Spotted Dog, Forest Gate – Henry VIII’s hunting lodge

In part dating to the late 15th century, this building was once a hunting lodge used by King Henry VIII, who had kennelling for his dogs here. In the early 19th century it was converted into a pub. According to one correspondent on derelictlondon.com, there was once an underground passage that ran between the dog and the Boleyn Tavern a mile to the south. He says the entrance to the tunnel is still visible in the basement of the Boleyn, but the rest has been filled in with concrete.

The pub finally closed in the early 2000s. It remains derelict, despite efforts by a campaign group to have it reopened as a pub or community facility.

8. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Whitechapel – cast the Liberty Bell

The UK’s oldest manufacturing company operated on this site from 1738 to 2017. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, founded in 1570, cast some of the most famous bells in the world, including Pennsylvania’s Liberty Bell and Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. After 9/11, the company made a tribute bell — the Bell of Hope — as a gift from the people of London to the city of New York.

The Hughes family, who owned the foundry from 1904, recently sold the premises, citing economic pressures and the poor condition of the building. The very last tower bell to be cast there was for the Museum of London, to which the foundry has donated many artefacts.

The site has been bought by a property company, although a conservation group is attempting to have the building listed to prevent it from being redeveloped.

The new edition of Derelict London is available to buy now from Random House Books, rrp £14.99. We also highly recommend joining Paul on one of his Derelict London tours.

#london, #londonist, #uk

Things To Do Today In London: Friday 12 July 2019

Drag Syndrome at Southbank Centre

Things to do

CRAFT MARKET: The ever-excellent Crafty Fox Market heads north of the river for once, bringing its usual eclectic line-up of traders. Browse ceramics, jewellery, homewares, clothing, prints and more from a curated selection of artists and makers. Canopy Market (King’s Cross), free entry, just turn up, 12-14 July

HYPER JAPAN: Japanese food, culture, art and fashion is all celebrated one under roof at Hyper Japan. Wander around stalls selling Japanese items, watch martial arts and cookery demos, enjoy live music and take part in cosplay, all inspired by the Asian country. Olympia London, from £17, book ahead12-14 July

SHUBBAK FESTIVAL: For a few weekends this summer, themed takeovers are happening at National Theatre’s open-air River Stage. This weekend, Shubbak Festival — a celebration of contemporary Arab culture — curates the programme, kicking things off tonight with music from the Attab Haddad Ensemble, DJ and radio presenter Noor Palette, and singer Amira Kheir. South Bank, free, just turn up, 12-14 July

Peruse the works at Crafty Fox Market

IDLER FESTIVAL: Idler’s weekend of talks, debates, music, comedy and merriment kicks off today. The festival’s Friday line-up includes hip hopping female Morris dancers, folk musician Sam Lee, plus lessons in beekeeping, calligraphy and the ukulele. Eclectic indeed. Fenton House (Hampstead), £35-£105, book ahead12-14 July

SOLDIER’S VIEW: Ian Maine of the National Army Museum tells the story of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry in the Normandy Campaign of 1944, in this free lecture. Hear about the key battles which the regiment was involved in, and the casualties it suffered, with photos from the time to support the talk. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, book ahead11.30am

Leave work early and enjoy Waterloo Carnival

WATERLOO CARNIVAL: Dance in the streets (well, on the green) at Waterloo, for the local carnival. All afternoon, free entertainment including live music, dancing, a carnival procession and stalls takes over the local area — an excellent excuse to slack off work a bit early. Waterloo Millennium Green, free, just turn up, 12pm-6pm

WRITER QUEEN: Queen Elizabeth I is renowned for many things, but her writing talents are often overlooked. See some of her poems, speeches and prayers, written both before and during her monarchy, many of which are kept at the National Archives. Dr Katy Muir discusses the cultural significance of the writings. National Archives (Kew), £6-£7.50, book ahead2pm-3.30pm

The third edition of Oval Night Market

NIGHT MARKET: Oval Night Market continues its summer residency in east London with an evening of food, drink and art, based on New York’s street parties. Refuel at street food stalls and a cocktail bar, and browse and buy products from local artist and makers, all with a soundtrack of live music and DJs. Oval Space (Cambridge Heath), free entry, just turn up, 5pm-11pm

DRAG SYNDROME: The world’s first collective of drag kings and queens with Down’s syndrome — a group known as Drag Syndrome — perform at a cabaret night which features live music, dancing, lip syncing and voguing. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 5.30pm

COCKNEY SING ALONG: Musician Tom Carradine brings his famous Cockney sing along sessionto north London. Join in with songs from the music hall era, both world wars, and West End musicals. Union Chapel (Islington), £5, book ahead, 7pm

Kiss My Genders Live at Southbank Centre

SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY: New documentary film Spirit Of Discovery tells the story of late oceanographer Walter Munk and his impressive and extensive scientific research. Watch the film, then see a panel discussion about the role science plays in preserving our seas. Science Museum (South Kensington), £5, book ahead7pm-9pm

KISS MY GENDERS LIVE: Hayward Gallery’s current Kiss My Genders exhibition comes to life on stage. Several of the artists involved present an evening of poetry, screenings, discussion and performance, celebrating diversity in relation to gender identity. Southbank Centre, £15, book ahead7pm

CIRCUS SHOW: Aircraft Circus is a circus training school for students of all ages. This summer scratch show is a chance for current students to show off what they’ve learned, with additional appearances by alumni, and professional performers, all on a ‘summer of love’ theme. Expect acrobatics, aerial tricks and other circus skills. Aircraft Circus Academy (Woolwich), £15, book ahead, 7.30pm

Tube ponderings with Barry Heck

Our resident tube fancier dishes out daily thoughts on the London Underground.

I can’t sign off this week of pub-related musings without mention of the Metropolitan Bar at Baker Street station. This grand branch of JD Wetherspoon is housed in the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Railway (now the Metropolitan line). The rooms are filled with Underground memorabilia, a joy for any tube fan. Follow Barry on Twitter @HeckTube.

Good cause of the day

Sign up now to take part in Tesco Dance Beats on 18-20 July. Dance marathons and other events take place at stores around the UK, raising money for Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. Find out more here.

#london, #londonist, #uk

New Afternoon Teas To Try In London This Month: May 2019

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Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at the Egerton House Hotel

London’s awash with afternoon teas, from the traditional to the quirky to the vegan. And new ones are always being added to the selection too — take a look at the menus making their debut in London this month, including special Chelsea Flower Show afternoon teas. Some of them are only around for a short time, so book quickly if they take your fancy.

St James’s Afternoon Tea at The Stafford

We’re kicking things off with a playful offering this month — the St James’s Afternoon Tea takes inspiration from the area of St James’s, with nods to the luxury shops and boutiques that surround the hotel.

Lock & Co. hatmakers, tailor Henry Poole & Co, and James J. Fox cigar shop are all represented in the all-important top tier via an edible bowler hat, tuxedo and cigar respectively. The cheddar and chive scones use cheese from local cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield too.

St James’s Afternoon Tea at The Stafford. £45, or £58 with a glass of champagne.

Available: Daily, 12pm-7pm.

Gin Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James

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Why nobody has come up with the heavenly crossover of gin and afternoon tea before is beyond us, but those wizards at Emmeline’s Lounge have finally done it.

The Gin Afternoon Tea was created in partnership with the City of London Distillery, and offers gin infused treats, washed down with cocktails.

For example, notes of juniper berries, fresh orange and lemon and coriander seeds in the Square Mile Gin have been paired with a charred lemon and pink grapefruit tart with rosemary meringue. The Six Bells Gin is served alongside the elderflower jelly honey cake and pear mousse delice. Freshly baked scones, a selection of sandwiches and teas from Lalani & Co also make an appearance. But really, we’re here for the gin.

Gin Afternoon Tea at Emmeline’s Lounge, Conrad London St James. £45 per person with a glass of champagne or three cocktail tasters, or £100 for two with a bottle of champagne.

Available: Daily, 1.30pm-6pm

Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at The Egerton House Hotel

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The entirety of the Egerton House Hotel has been given something of a floral makeover in advance of the Chelsea Flower Show — and that includes the food.

The traditional English afternoon tea has been replaced with a summer garden version, including rosewater chocolate brownie, summer fruit vanilla tart, marigold macaroons, lavender posset with poppy seed biscuit, blueberry tower and a spinach, blackcurrant and edible flowers cupcake.

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Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free afternoon tea options are available, and botanical cocktails are on the bar menu throughout the summer too.

Summer Garden Afternoon Tea at The Egerton House Hotel. £48 per person/£64.50 per person with champagne.

Available: until September 2019

English Country Garden Afternoon Tea at 108 Pantry

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108 Pantry launches an English Country Garden Afternoon Tea — its first afternoon tea that’s available in a fully vegan option, with floral flavours and seasonal ingredients leading the menu. Savouries include smashed avocado, roasted piquillo peppers and rocket, or barbecue baked sweet potato, coriander, lime and cashew mayo on onion bread.

Lemon drizzle cake, cashew & blueberry ‘cheesecake’ and salted caramel slice with toffee popcorn are among the sweet options, but the highlight, at least for originality, is a lollipop encasing an edible flower.

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English Country Garden Afternoon Tea at 108 Pantry. £32 per person/£42 with a glass of sparkling wine.

Available: Monday-Friday, 2pm-6pm. Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm.

Floral-Inspired Afternoon Tea at 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel

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Located so close to the event, it’s no surprise that 100 Queen’s Gate is getting in on the Chelsea Flower Show action, by temporarily transforming its traditional afternoon tea into a floral offering.

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The meal is hosted inside Botanica, the hotel’s new plant-filled tea room, and consists of pickled baby carrot, baby beetroot and courgette flowers, along with botanical-inspired pasties, and cakes served on a bed of edible chocolate soil. Savouries include gin and tonic smoked salmon and cream cheese, on flower-shaped dark rye bread.

Chelsea Flower Show afternoon tea at 100 Queen’s Gate. £35 per person.

Available: 13 May-30 June 2019.

Traditional afternoon tea at The Green Room at The Curtain Hotel, Shoreditch

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With all these themed, limited edition afternoon teas, it’s refreshing to see someone sticking with good old-fashioned tradition.

The newly-launched afternoon tea at The Green Room — located within the Curtain Hotel — promises traditional afternoon tea with all of the trimmings, including plain & fruit scones with jam and clotted cream, a selection of fine tea cakes, smoked salmon bagel, gin & tonic cucumber sandwich and devilled eggs.

Even better, the venue has partnered with local social enterprise Hackney Herbal to curate a bespoke blend of teas and infusions to accompany all that nosh.

Afternoon tea at The Green Room. £30 per person/£40 with champagne.

Available: 1pm-4pm, Friday-Sunday

Crosstown Doughnut afternoon tea at Bluebird Chelsea

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Doughnuts? Did someone say doughnuts? Crosstown Doughnuts teams up with Bluebird Chelsea for a floral afternoon tea, tying in with the Chelsea Flower Show. The three-tier afternoon tea is piled with Crosstown doughnut bites, cakes, scones and sandwiches, including red velvet and rose petal cupcakes and neroli blossom and strawberry macaroons. Centre stage is Crosstown’s bespoke vegan orange blossom dough bite.

Choose from tea, coffee or champagne to wash it down.

Bluebird in Bloom afternoon tea at Bluebird Chelsea. £29.50 per person.

Available: 21-25 May 2019.

Sweet Pink Afternoon Tea at Maitre Choux Chelsea

Usually, afternoon tea is only served at the Soho branch of choux pastry bakery Maitre Choux — but to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s coming to the Flower Room of the King’s Road branch.

They’ve certainly stuck to a theme, with Spanish raspberry pink éclairs, pink champagne, and a whole wall of pastel pink flowers — definitely one to book if you’re as interested in photographing your food as you are eating it.

Sweet Pink Afternoon Tea at Maitre Choux, Chelsea. £22-£36 per person.

Available: 21-25 May 2019

Quintessentially British Afternoon Tea at Roast

Borough Market restaurant Roast launches an afternoon tea focusing on traditional British ingredients. The menu is subject to change due to its reliance on fresh, seasonal produce, but a sample includes coronation chicken and cucumber, cream cheese & mint sandwiches, scones with strawberry preserve, and Victoria sponge cake. Tuck in inside that gorgeous conservatory-like dining room overlooking the market.

British Afternoon Tea at Roast, Borough Market. £25 per person, or £0 per person with champagne.

Available: Monday-Saturday, 12pm-6pm

Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate, Old Street

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Don’t be misled by the name — you won’t be making your own meal at the Afternoon Tea Academy. Instead, the team at the upmarket restaurant have worked with tea company P.M. David Silva & Sons to pair each tier of the traditional stand with a tea, and an expert is on hand throughout to talk through the pairings.

The food menu errs on the fancy side of traditional, with roast chicken, beetroot hummus and peppered beef pastrami sandwich fillings, buttermilk scones, and handmade pastries including rhubarb and custard mille-feuille.

Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate. £39-£49 per person.

Available: Selected dates from 11 May.

And finally…

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It’s not brand new, but the Filipino Afternoon Tea at Romulo Cafe has only just come to our attention. It launched in March, designed for two people to share, and blends traditional English tea with Filipino twists — think Filipino style light brown, crumb-speckled buns, served with Cornish clotted cream and purple yam jam. The sweet section of the menu includes traditional Filipino dessert made with dulce de leche buttercream, cashews, chewy and sweet meringue, and a mango float.

#london, #londonist, #uk

Things To Do Today In London: Monday 13 May 2019

Siobhan Miller performs live in Clerkenwell

Things to do

LAST CHANCE: It’s the final week of National Portrait Gallery’s Elizabethan Treasures exhibition, which brings together miniature paintings from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. See the works of Nicholas Hilliard and his pupil Isaac Oliver, who created impressively detailed miniature portraits of high society and royalty. National Portrait Gallery, £10, book aheaduntil 19 May

LONDON WINE WEEK: Good news vino lovers — London Wine Week begins today. Register for a free digital pass to take advantage of the special offers running all week at venues all over the capital, including £6 flights of tastings of three wines, and food and wine pairings in certain restaurants. See all venues taking part. Various locations (hub at Flat Iron Square), digital pass is free, book ahead13-19 May

Time’s running out to see the Elizabethan Treasures exhibition

LIFE BEGINS AT 40: Midlife crises are the topic at the Royal Society tonight. Professor Mark Jackson looks at what causes a midlife crisis, and why societal changes have caused them to become more common in recent years, including deepening anxieties about economic decline, political instability. The Royal Society (St James’s), free, just turn up, 6.30pm-7.30pm

THE RED SHOES: 1948 drama film The Red Shoes is screened at Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s the tale of a rising ballerina who is forced to choose between her art and love, knowing the decision will have consequences. Dulwich Picture Gallery, £10/£8, book ahead7pm

LAB RATS: Dan Lyons, author of Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable, discusses how the hypocrisy of the working environment in Silicon Valley has spread out worldwide. It’s increasingly common for even low-grade employees to be expected to view their jobs with a cult-like fervour, despite diminishing prospects of promotion — and Lyons asks what can be done to reverse this change. The Water Rats (King’s Cross), £7/£5, book ahead7pm

LEARN TO ROLLER SKATE: Get your skates on — quite literally — and learn how to roller skate at this beginners’ class for adults. Learn the basics, and combine skating with fitness in the low-impact, high-intensity workshop. Skate hire and protection pads included. Balham (location provided on booking), £13, book ahead7pm-8pm (sponsor)

MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH: Rotimi Akinsete — author of new tome This Book Could Help — wrote it in collaboration with charity Mind, and aims to offer advice on how to achieve balanced mental health and defeat the outdated ideas that can stop men from looking after themselves. Tonight, he speaks about why men should make mental health a priority, and why we should all be talking about mental health more. Foyles Charing Cross Road, make a donation to Mind on the door, book ahead7pm-8pm

BOUQUET MAKING: Ever fancied your chances as a florist? Join professionals from Moyses Stevens for a hand-tied bouquet making workshop, and create a masterpiece of spring blooms to take home. Canapes and drinks from bar No 11 Pimlico Road are included. 11 Pimlico Road, £50, book ahead,7pm-8.30pm

Enjoy drinks while you try bouquet making

CHARITY COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe, Kerry Godliman and John Robins are among the impressive line-up at Cracking Comedy in aid of Women And Children First. Money raised goes to the charity which helps support women, children, mothers and babies in the world’s poorest communities. Leicester Square Theatre, £22, book ahead, 7.30pm

NEON LIFE DRAWING: It’s life drawing, but not as you know it. The models are covered in reactive paints which glow under UV lights, and you’re provided with neon pastels to recreate what you see. The session begins with quick drawing exercises to get you warmed up, before you’re given free rein to be as creative as you like — the less traditional, the better. Queen of Hoxton, £14, book ahead7.30pm-9.30pm

LIVE MUSIC: Traditional Scottish singer Siobhan Miller performs an intimate gig, showing off her soulful voice and self-penned lyrics. She’s won several folk music awards, and performed in venues as diverse as the  National Theatre of Scotland, Broadway in New York, and Cambridge Folk Festival. The Slaughtered Lamb (Clerkenwell), £14, book ahead8.15pm

Tube ponderings with Barry Heck

Our resident tube fancier dishes out daily thoughts on the London Underground.

The first London Underground line opened in January 1863, with the section from Paddington to Farringdon. That much is well known. But do you know where spade first hit dirt in the construction of that first line? It seems to be outside Euston station, according to this newspaper article from January 1860. Seymour Street is modern Eversholt Street, so I think the first dig took place as shown on the map below.

Follow Barry Heck on Twitter @HeckTube.

Good cause of the day

Comedians Pierre Novellie, Harriet Kemsley, Bobby Mair and Kate Barron come together for a fundraising night of comedy in Hackney tonight, in aid of mental health charity Mind. Find out more and book tickets.

#london, #londonist, #uk

Things To Do Today In London: Thursday 28 March 2019

Take part in a gin tasting

Things to do

LONDON COFFEE FESTIVAL: Caffeine addicts and connoisseurs will be pleased to know that the London Coffee Festival opens its doors and fires up its coffee machines today. Watch 16 coffee masters go head to head to be crowned the winner, take part in a mindful coffee tasting experience, watch some of the world’s best latte artists at work, and of course, get a pick-me-up in the roaster village. Old Truman Brewery (Brick Lane), £18.50, book ahead,28-31 March

COUNTRY LIVING FAIR: A four-day festival of stalls, crafts, demonstrations, workshops, food and drink, the Country Living Spring Fair takes over Alexandra Palace from today. Watch cookery demos, learn how to do calligraphy, pick up tips on taking care of chickens, and stock up on beauty products, homewares, gifts, food and drink. Alexandra Palace, from £8.50 (additional charge for workshops), book ahead28-31 March

GIN WIN: Gin in always a win in our book, but there are actual, boozy prizes to be won in a tasting game at this evening of gin. Two gin cocktails, plus tastings of three gins overseen by an expert are included in your ticket price. Six Storeys (Soho Square), £30, book ahead, 6pm/7.45pm

GOODBYE EUROPE: Documentary experts 1000 Londoners screen Goodbye Europe, a series of short films coinciding with the UK’s departure from the EU (…maybe). Watch short films about people from the 28 EU countries who now call London home, some of whom take part in a panel discussion after the film. Curzon Soho, £16.50/£14, book ahead6.30pm

FEMINIST HISTORY: See objects in Bishopsgate Institute’s archive that relate to women’s and feminist history, and hear their stories from  Library and Digital Archives Manager Grace Biggins. Tales told include that of Britain’s first female firefighter. Bishopsgate Institute (Liverpool Street), £7/£5, book ahead6.30pm-7.30pm

BREXIT LESSONS: Confused about what the heck is going on with Brexit? This panel discussion may clear things up for you — or it may confuse you further. Experts in EU law, politics, economics and Brexit itself gather to discuss what’s been decided so far, and what the short-term implications for Britain are likely to be. LSE (Holborn), free, just turn up, 6.30pm-8pm

UNSENT LETTERS: From Beethoven to Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf to Iris Murdoch, and George III to JFK, many well-known historical figures wrote letters that they left unsent… but not unseen. Actors Harriet Walter and Tuppence Middleton read out these letters, which never made it to their recipients. The Tabernacle (Notting Hill), £30-£39.99, book ahead6.45pm-8.15pm

EXPLORE ANTARCTICA: Find out how polar exploration has helped us better understand the world at this talk. Dr Anna Jones of the British Antarctic Survey and Dr Richard Powell of the Scott Polar Research Institute are among the experts sharing their thoughts on how early polar explorers paved the way for modern day research. The Royal Society (St James’s), free, just turn up, 7pm-8pm

Watch a film inside this gorgeous temple

TEENAGE DIARY: Rufus Hound hosts an evening with actress and impressionist Jan Ravens reading extracts from her teenage diaries to the audience. Hear about her time growing up in Merseyside, covering school, her best friend Nicky, her love of pop music, and her crush on Gary. British Library, £10/£7, book ahead7pm-8.30pm

GOLDEN PARTY: Golden Tongue is a poetry night shining the spotlight on work by South Asian women, celebrating the diversity of their diaspora and identities. There’s an all-gold dress code for tonight’s event, where poets and spoken word artists including Shagufta K. Iqbal, Amani Z. Saeed and Afshan D’Souza Lodhi share their work. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £10, book ahead7.30pm

TEMPLE CINEMA: As cinema settings go, this one’s pretty impressive — the Andaz London hotel’s Masonic temple, buried underground in Liverpool Street, complete with lacquered thrones, marble columns and a golden zodiac-adorned ceiling. If you manage to tear your eyes off your surroundings and glance at the screen, the film being shown is Hereditary, a 2018 horror masterpiece. Andaz London (Liverpool Street), £15, book ahead7.30pm-10.30pm

Tube ponderings with Barry Heck

Our resident tube fancier dishes out daily thoughts on the London Underground.

Yesterday‘s image of a power socket in a tube train comes from the wonderful Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum — a treasure trove for anyone who loves transport. Visit this Sunday when the engines will be all a-steam, and a chance to see a fire engine from London’s Burning.

Follow Barry Heck on Twitter @HeckTube.

Good cause of the day

Book ahead for this Sunday’s concert at Cadogan Hall, raising money for the Princess Alice Hospice. The Princess Alice Hospice community choir joins forces with the Strawberry Hill House choir and West End stars for an evening of show tunes. Find out more and book tickets.

#londonist, #uk

New Plans For London’s Huge Spherical Music Arena Unveiled

Photo: Madison Square Garden Company

A cathedral-sized black sphere, embedded in the middle of Stratford. There’s nothing ominous about this at all…

Plans have been unveiled for a future London music arena with a capacity of 21,500 — the MSG Sphere. MSG stands for Madison Square Garden Company, the team behind New York’s famous venue. It wants to get its claws into London, and sees Stratford as a target ripe for the picking. Word first emerged of the venue over a year ago, at which point it looked like a cathedral-sized floating golf ball.

The sphere won’t look like a sunken nightmare version of the Epcot Centre most the time. Instead it will be covered with LED panels, broadcasting high-definition concert footage or advertisements. Because yes, the future is going to turn out like Blade Runner, and we’re getting unavoidable adverts 90 metres up in the sky.

Photo: Madison Square Garden Company

There are questions about the necessity of such a venue in London. The city already has the O2 Arena and the Wembley Arena, to cater for such events. However in the structure’s planning document, MSG Company argues that New York has seven sizeable arenas that can host world tours, and has a similar population base to London. This seems to be failing to take into account that Wembley, the Emirates and the new Tottenham Hotspur stadiums are all viable options for some of the biggest music acts in the world.

The venue aims to be more than a music arena as the planning document also outlines its uses for theatre, immersive cinema, conferences, corporate events, ring sports and e-sports events. It also will contain a smaller music venue with a capacity of 500, which aims to support grassroots music.

Where the Sphere will fit into Stratford, on a 1.9 hectare site that’s currently a disused coach park. Photos: Madison Square Garden Company

This isn’t the only archaeologically brazen music venue that’s currently planned for London. There’s also The Centre For Music and its bold ziggurat design. Is this the future for London? Architecturally gimmicky venues?

The MSG Sphere is only at the planning stage so there’s still a lot that can change, but it has support from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, which will be a boon to its chances of being built.

Some have voiced criticisms of the new venue, arguing it will block sunlight out of the area, and the brownfield site could instead be used to provide London with desperately needed houses. There’s a petition against the venue started by local residents, who also worry that the Sphere will cause overcrowding in an already-heaving area.

Not to end on a sour note, but one Twitter user pointed out the Sphere’s design similarities to the a scene of massive destruction from Japanese cult-classic Akira and now we can’t un-see it.

#londonist, #uk