Where to watch fireworks in London

I’ve never liked Halloween. I don’t understand the appeal of dressing up like I’ve been in a car crash and then trying to look a little bit sexy.

Bonfire night? That’s different. Fireworks, hot dogs and good clean fun is something I can get behind. I’ll happily park objections to the (equally weird) ritual of celebrating burning someone alive, for a spiced cider and everyone coming together.

Bang

Bang

So great is my nerdy nostalgia I invited friends over for a ‘firework themed lunch’ (which I know sounds like the start of an ill-fated episode of casualty, but don’t worry it was FINE). I even consulted Pippa Middleton’s suggestions for a bonfire feast in her much-mocked ‘party book’ Celebrate. I made her filled jacket potatoes, before moving on to my own honey and mustard sausages and a great toffee apple and blackcurrant crumble recipe I found. Unfortunately London was 30 degrees, so I really should have adapted and served salads and ice-cream.

I usually go to Battersea Park Fireworks – its amazing display, set to music in such regal and impressive surroundings – is one of the best ways to spend £10 in London. However this year, we headed up to North London (so far up I risked a nosebleed) to see what Alexandra Palace had to offer.

Whizz

Whizz

The first noticeable thing were the crowds – the display was delayed by half an hour to let everyone in. But once it started it was amazing and they chucked  everything at it. As my friend aptly put it, it was basically like watching exploding money.

Pop

Pop

However, one of the best things was discovering the aerial view of London on the viewing platform. Just stunning and my camera phone doesn’t do it justice.

What a view

What a view

So I’ll come back to Ally Pally – even if there are no fireworks. But Battersea Park’s display is scheduled for next weekend in case I’ve tempted anyone….

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A tourist in London, my own city

When you live in London, sometimes you stop seeing London. It can pass you by, like a big red bus.

Sometimes all I see are its problems – the rib-crushingly overcrowded tubes, the fact it costs £8 to drink a warm G&T on the road outside the pub. The tourists, the inequality, the shove and the push. The cycle of pressure, of late nights and long queues at Pret.  I  can forget the million different experiences waiting for us here. The counter flow of new restaurants and shows opening and new trends starting here first. The glamour, the excitement, the lights and the life. The fact that you are probably only a stones throw from a new opportunity, (or at least a Pret).

It took a boat-ride down the Thames  – being a tourist in my own city – to make me see what I sometimes forget. London’s majesty and grandeur.

The bridge that women built in WW2

The Thames – keeper of secrets

I don’t think London is necessarily beautiful or welcoming or kind. I cringe when people project a warm and fuzzy ‘I Love London’ Instagram identify onto a city that is, to me, ultimately tough and big and old. But I do think its stunning. On a boat trip on an ordinary day this city can certainly turn some heads. Sailing from Embankment, through the city to Greenwich, the word that springs to mind is ‘grand’.

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View of the Shard – this building wasn’t even HERE when I moved 8 years ago

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The Walkie Talkie – another new one

Picture of the Tate

The Tate – always there, too rarely visited by me

Favourite fancy London restaurants for Spring

In an attempt to document more of the places I’ve been (and would recommend) I wanted to write about a few restaurants I’ve been to this spring. (As established in earlier posts on eating that this is what I mostly seem to get up to):

1. Roka.

Image of sushi chefs cooking at Roka restaurant

Get your rocks off at Roka

An old friend is getting married and as I’m not able to go to her hen party, I wanted to take her out to celebrate. I had a feeling she would like Roka  as she is a big fan of Japanese and fish and was wanting to try here for her 30th (but Roka weren’t keen to accommodate a big party). Sadly for me (I’m told) I detest fish. I can only manage to eat fish which is deep fried and served in newspaper whilst on a beach – anything else turns me into a total child. So my affliction made it slightly hard to share all of the sushi and sashimi on offer, which Roka is famous for. But we managed. I loved the Japanese grill (and the theatre of being able to watch the chefs in action), and of course, the cocktails…But we ended the night in a proper British pub with a bottle of pinot, as every (alternative) hen night should…I think Roka is a great , but perhaps best enjoyed by people who actually eat sushi…

2. Simpsons on the Strand

Image of two chefs carving roast beeft at Simpsons restaurant

The best roast beef in London

There is something of the Orient Express about Simpsons on the Strand (as you’d expect of the Savoy) – an old fashioned gentility and oak-paneled tradition that provides such a sense of occasion, even I am tempted to shun my Northern roots and say I went there for ‘supper’. I’ve always wanted to go, but you need a reason. So we went there for my friend’s 30th, with her family, which made the experience fittingly grown up. Simpsons has a lovely menu – but the stand-out order is the roast beef, which comes complete with two carving chefs who are generous with insights and (importantly) slices of meet. Its the kind of place you expect to spot a politician. Like Winston Churchill.

3. The Modern Pantry

Image of Modern Pantry menu

Yes I know this menu is impossible to read…

I don’t often go to East London – I’m definitely not cool enough (and practically, I just live too far away). But I do have some trendier friends and a group of us we went for a lovely dinner in Clerkenwell to the Modern Pantry. I’d describe the menu as elegant. Just like my friend whose birthday/engagement celebration it was. So it was a perfect place to raise a glass to her by fairy light.

4.  Paramount

 

View of London from Paramount restaurant

A lovely view of London from an old favourite

There is a lot of buzz about the latest restaurants with ‘sky-high views’ currently…(and I am very excited about my first trip to the Duck and Waffle for a birthday dinner in May, and will inevitably join the throngs and visit the Shard and Sushi Samba  as soon as I can). But the fact is these places are wildly popular and almost impossible to get into. So for an early Mother’s Day treat we went for Sunday lunch at a rather forgotten favourite – the Paramount restaurant at centre point. It was very pleasant – lovely food,  peaceful and private (we even spotted a few celebs) and had great views of London (which I’m sure are just as beautiful, whether you are on the top of a crane, in an office block or at the top of the Heron Tower).