Northern Girl on… The Barbican Conservatory

One of London’s more secret attractions, not many people know that The Barbican centre has a conservatory that is open to the public and free to visit. Located on the third floor, the conservatory is home to some of the most amazing plants, fish and even turtles.

The plants wind through the conservatory past the fish ponds where you can take in all the varieties from pepper trees to banana plants and even the papaya plant. It then takes you up the stairs for beautiful views of the whole conservatory where you get to see the two varieties of turtles en route to the cactus room. 

If you get chance afternoon tea is a must. The food looked absolutely amazing and you’ll be hard pressed to find afternoon tea in a more picturesque and unique environment. 

Or if you’re on a budget, pack your own sandwiches and take them out to the stunning ground floor courtyard where you can sit by the water and soak up the sunshine.

The conservatory is open every Sunday 12pm-5pm (last entry 4:30) until the end of September with the exception of the 20th August and 10th September where it is closed for private events. Full information and afternoon tea booking can be found at www.barbican.org/visitor-information/conservatory

NG x

 

10 reasons why you should visit the para athletics world championships 

For the first time ever World Para Atheltics Championships are being held in London. Here are 10 reasons why you should go!

1. Be a part of history – the number of tickets sold to this games is thought to have outsold the previous 5 world championships proving that following the 2012 Olympics, London really does do it best 

2. You get to see one of countries newest football stadiums – granted if you went to a West ham game you’d get to do this anyway but if football isn’t your thing it’s still a magnificent stadium to visit and so hugely important to London’s Olympic legacy.

3. It’s easy to get to. Stratford is on both the jubilee and central lines as well as the DLR meaning it’s super easy to get to and quick it also has great bus links and is even connected to TFL rail.

4. You’ll get to see some super star athletes – team GB are absolutely smashing these championships and we’re currently second in the medal table  (go cheer them on, we might get first)! With so many great athletes you’re guaranteed to see some GB medals no matter which session you attend.

5. Tickets are cheap. And I mean really cheap. For over 3 hours worth of action tickets start at £10 and just in case you’re worried that that means being up in the rafters here’s the view from our  £10 seats

6. See world records be broken – who doesn’t want to be able to say “I was there when xxx broke the world record” it’s so astounding to see what these athletes are achieving and how close some are to even beating their able-bodied counterparts. It’s also really heartwarming to see how many athletes are smashing PBs at these championships.

7. You’ll learn a lot. Before each event they have a little infographic explaining what the disability category means so you’ll be able to tell your T11s from your F34s in no time.

8. It’ll make you really appreciative of your life – I said it on Twitter recently but nothing humbles me more than para sport. To even begin to imagine what these people have been through and to be going out there and achieving what they are, channel 4 (the official Para sport broadcaster) really do say it best when they say they’re superhumans.

9. You’ll have fun – there’s loads of great food outlets all around the Olympic stadium and the atmosphere inside is incredible they even play upbeat songs between events to keep you bouncing so get ready to sing along to some of your favourite hits.

10. You’ll get to explore the Olympic park – get there early enough and there is so much more to see. The Olympic park itself is magnificent, take a peek in the aquatics centre, stroll along the canae or be a big kid on the various climbing frames. It is such a fantastic ode to London 2012. See if you can beat Greg Rutherford’s gold-winning long jump distance or remind yourself just what was achieved on Super Saturday. As if that wasn’t enough you could even take in the views from the top of the Orbit before sliding all the way down in the giant helter-skelter-esque slide.

Tickets are currently available for all remaining sessions right up until the final sessions on Sunday 23rd July. Purchase by visiting http://www.london2017athletics.com/worldparaathleticschampionships

NG x

Northern Girl on… paddle board yoga

You may have seen my earlier post on community yoga – if not it’s here. At the start of this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a free trial of SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga). This is a new concept run by the same instructor and organisational team as community yoga.

Feeling like I was having my flash dance moment! – photo credit Neha Kadiyala

What is SUP yoga?

Exactly as it sounds you are doing yoga on a paddle board! The board replaces the traditional yoga mats and you’re on the water.

Is it safe?

It’s perfectly safe, even though you’re on the paddle board on the water, the boards are docked and connected to each other. Our trial group were a whole host of individuals with varying experience levels and not one of us fell in .

Team photo once we all got up on the board! Photo credit Neha Kadiyala

Do you have to wear a wetsuit?

You don’t have to. It’s all about personal choice, I chose to because if I were to fall in I didn’t want to be in soggy clothes all day but others didn’t and stayed completely dry.

Is the yoga difficult?

It isn’t.  The teacher will be on the dock rather than a board to make it easier for everyone to see but she has done it on a board so she knows which poses work and which don’t.  She will give you options to make it easier/difficult but it’s all about how confident you feel and how much you want to push yourself.

Is it fun?

It’s great fun. I really enjoyed it and I was impressed and just how much I was able to push myself into the more difficult poses. I was doing shoulder stands that I didn’t even know I could do on land – let alone on the water!

Where do I sign up?

All information can be found on the DSWC Facebook page or by contacting the centre direct. There will be 2 sessions on Saturday mornings starting May 27th 10-11am and 11-12. Each session is  £25 (£20 for members) with special offers available. Full details and dates below.

Photo credit courtesy of the DSWC

Places are very limited so get booking! Ng x 

REVIEW: Northern Girl on… Sh*t Faced Shakespeare

Me and Tom decided to have a date last Friday after securing ourselves tickets to the Leicester Square Theatre to see Sh*t Faced Shakespeare. We got our tickets on Time Out Offers so they were discounted to £14. Bargain.

We’ve been to  LST a few times already since moving here and I have to say we really like it. It’s incredibly tiny and intimate with stalls only seating for 400 (there’s also a second 70 seater lounge theatre) and the room itself has two bars at either side of the seats. They tend to hold a lot of comedy shows here but due to it’s limited seating you really have to keep an eye on the listings!

When we arrived at the theatre we simply had to swap our Time Out Vouchers for actual physical tickets at the box office which was a breeze and the box office staff are always extremely friendly and helpful. Once collected it was time to head in and enjoy the show.

We took our seats and had a quick view of the programme provided – great touch. Sat back and waited for the show to start. From that moment on, I don’t think I stopped laughing once. From the build up video right through to the final dance sequence was constant laughter.

 

For background info, Sh*t Faced Shakespeare are covering Much Ado About Nothing this summer with various shows throughout the year. There is a rotating cast of 10 classically trained, shakespearean actors playing 7 roles in each performance with one catch, one actor has been drinking for approximately 4 hours before the show. It is never the same actor on consecutive nights and they will never drink on more than 3 occasions in any given month (that is when they’re performing, I have no idea what they do in their spare time or after the show).


The show starts with the actor who is playing the compere/safety warden role warming up the crowd. Musical instruments and a bucket are handed out to members of the front row with the rules explained. If at any point the audience member with a musical instrument thinks the drunk actor is getting too sober; they sound their instrument, the compere comes back on stage and hands the drunk actor another drink. This can only happen on 3 occasions during the show so picking the right moment is key. The audience member with the bucket is told that if anyone shouts bucket at any moment they have to be alert and present said bucket – I think you can figure out why. The compere/safety warden then goes on to show the audience how much the actor has had to drink “ooooooh”. It’s fair to say our actor was truly shit faced. From memory I think he had consumed a can of lager, a bottle of cider and 2/3 of a bottle of Gordon’s gin; top effort. From there, the show starts.

One thing I think they did exceptionally well is they don’t actually tell you which actor is drunk and who they’re playing. Given that the opening scene starts with 3 out of the 6 characters you spend the first scene trying to work out which one of them is actually drunk. That was until the appearance of the other 3 characters where the safety warden/compere quickly appeared back on stage to replace a sword with a swimming noodle – safety first and all that. That moment in itself was just perfect hilarity and you now knew who the drunk was and what to watch out for in the show.

From the moments of confusing the characters in Much Ado to Macbeth, to calling the actors by their real name and discussing the actor’s watch which he forgot to remove – the actors are all in full shakespearean dress after all – the drunk Benedick provided some absolutely hilarious moments but what also blew me away was how incredible the other actors were to adapt to his drunken ramblings.

I don’t want to give too much away but I cannot recommend this show enough. It’s one of THE funnest nights in theatre I have ever had and I can’t wait to take literally every family member/friend who visits throughout the summer because the beauty of it is no two shows will ever be the same!

Just don’t sit on the front row if you don’t fancy making a spontaneous guest appearance… #otter

Have you seen Sh*t Faced Shake before? Let me know.

Ng x

Tickets available here: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873562224 The show is on until the 16th September 2017.

Northern Girl on… Walking Tours

It’s no secret that the London Underground is a quickest and most convenient way to get around the city but it also means that it is far too easy to spend most of our time looking at tunnels under ground and missing everything that there is to see above it.

This weekend Transport for London teamed up with Walk London for their first weekend of free walking tours throughout the City in 2017. Me and Tom were fortunate enough to get ourselves booked on 2 of the 40 walks they were running this weekend.

The first one saw us all gather outside Bank station to follow a walk based on the Central tube line, starting at Bank and ending at Chancery Lane. The tour guide Mark was excellent at providing us with interesting information throughout the walk, stopping at various points of interest (including the story behind the golden pineapples at St Paul’s!) and it was great for me to see a part of central London I had never even been to before, I also found out why the Ministry of Justice’s logo is what it is and came away with some excellent quiz trivia. At the end of the walk Mark even signed a copy of his book “Walk the Lines” which we picked up for a tenner (bargain!)

Our signed copy of “Walk the Lines” following our Central Line Walk


After a quick coffee break near Chancery Lane, we hopped on the tube (it was raining by now) and made our way to Westminster for our second TfL walk of the day. We started just outside Westminster station and took in New Scotland Yard, the remains of Whitehall Palace and the beautiful Somerset house with trivia that took us through Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and The Savoy Hotel before finishing at one of our already favourite wine bars in the city (it’s also rumoured to be the inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron.)

Want to get involved?

TfL and Walk London organise these weekends of free walks 3 times a year with the next one scheduled for the 20th and 21st May and the one after that will be some time in September.

Can’t wait that long?

There are various other walking tours which offer different tours to suit different interests. http://freelondonwalkingtours.com/ have seven different tours from Royal London to Jack the Ripper and Soho and the West End and they are just one of many tour operators throughout the City.

Not one for mixing with a group/want to find your own way around?

The TfL website has loads of maps to cover almost everything there is to see in London, just click on the walking section of TfL website. They also provide a “walking tube map” an alternative to the conventional map which gives you the walking distances between stations, you’d be surprised just how short some of the distances are (Leicester Square and Covent Garden, I’m looking at you!) Or if you want a bit more direction but still explore on your own there are loads of walking books available on Amazon or able to pick up in stores such as Oliver Bonas.

We can’t wait to get out with our new book and explore just what else there is to find above the tube!