Where to mini golf in London

I’ve never been one for a “typical” date night. My dream date night is something different/exciting/active and mini golf is certainly up there with the best. My boyfriend actually plays golf so mini golf is the closest I can get to actually challenging him. So it’s fair to say we’ve been to a few so far in London. Here are our 3 faves:

Canary Wharf Mini Golf

Definitely one for the summer months this FREE mini golf has become a warm weather staple. Being so close to home, it’s the perfect excuse to get us out of the flat on a sunny day. It does open throughout the winter so if you can brave the cold you can get your mini golf fix and with a cafe right next door you can warm up with a coffee. It’s a great little course with tricky obstacles whilst still being perfect for families. There’s even some hole in one opportunities. Moreover, it is situated right next to the entrance to Canary Wharf tube station making it all the more accessible. Open 7 days a week until 4:30pm it’s certainly one way to get your mini golf fix.

Junkyard Mini Golf

If I had to pick a favourite it would be this one hands down. It is simply the most fun I’ve ever had playing mini golf. Located in the super cool Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch it’s within easy distance from Liverpool Street Station and Shoreditch High Street. The cocktail menu is something to behold where classic cocktails are given a hip and old school twist – AT THE SAME TIME. Be sure to check out the “Hotline Ting” for additional popping candy and party rings (and yes I do mean the old school biscuit). With 4 courses in total it’s impossible to get bored. Check out ‘Gary’ the 90’s rave course for a unique sliding experience… Booking is nearly always required so plan your visit in advance.

Hotline Ting (c) classic cocktails with an old school twist

Plonk Mini Golf

With 5 locations across London, Plonk is quickly establishing itself as the mini golfing hot spot. From putt in the park to puzzle putt, Plonk has variety. We recently paid a visit to Plonk Dalston with friends for a Saturday double date. After some difficulty finding it (it’s inside a bar and not very well sign posted) we got ourselves two rounds of mini golf for £12 each. At peak times these do have to be played consecutively but you can go for bar breaks in between. Efes bar itself was nothing to write home about but actually the golf was very good. The capitalisation on space is extremely impressive and nearly every hole had various ways to play it of varying degrees of difficulty. If all the others are this good then I’m excited to continue to explore all that Plonk has to offer.

Pizza, a DJ and Dalston

This weekend I payed a visit to the fantastic Pizza Union in Dalston with Tom and some friends. It’s the only pizza place I’ve ever visited with a resident DJ and where you can get 2 pizzas and a bottle of wine for under £30 (in London). Here’s how my experience went down.

The location

I have to admit Dalston isn’t an area of London I’m particularly familiar with and it wasn’t an area we actually intended to find ourselves in. We were aiming to visit Draughts, the board game cafe up the road in Haggerston but with a 2 hour wait for a table we quickly decided to source a new plan. So we ended up in Dalston. We actually dropped by Pizza Union after a couple of rounds of mini golf at Plonk. It’s within easy walking distance from both Dalston Junction and Dalston and Kingsland – both on the London Overground. A small venue, seating is adequate with larger benches and smaller, intimate tables. The pizza making and HUGE pizza oven all take place in front of you and the eclectic neon makes it feel like a cool venue. Not to mention the fact it has a resident DJ. It was such an incredibly unique and exciting place to spend a Saturday evening eating pizza and listening to the tunes and I could see it being an excellent warm up venue for a night out.

The menu

Pizzas start from as little as £3.95 for a margherita with options to add toppings or make your pizza gluten free for £1 extra. For such a small venue the pizza menu is impressive with many pizzas and ingredients completely new to me and different to anything I’d ever seen before. They have a variety of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic with the option to purchase full bottles of red, white and sparkling wine. They offer sides of olives, sauces and dips to add to your order. Not content with just pizza they offer salads and one desert option. A dough ring filled with Nutella and mascarpone. As a pizza bar it sits in between a self-service/table service venue. Once ordered you collect the pizza yourself but the plate/tray is cleared for you.

The food

I have to say it’s beyond good. I’d always like to hope that my local pub offers the best pizzas in London but I think I’ve now found a pretty close rival. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a pizza that’s quite so crisp. It’s a perfect 12 inch, thin and crispy pizza that I simply couldn’t fault. I almost feel guilty for not doing Pizza Union justice and only ordering a Margherita pizza. I’m not one to return to food places in London – since there are just so many – but if I was back in Dalston/Aldgate/Kings Cross/Spitalfields and I fancied a pizza, this is where I’d be heading.

You can find more information about Pizza Union through their website or by visiting them on social media.

https://www.pizzaunion.com/

@pizzaunion

 

6 places to get in the Christmas spirit in London

The first snowflake has officially fallen and the advent calendar windows are starting to be opened but if after all of that you’re still missing some Christmas magic, here are some of my favourite FREE places in London to help get you in the Christmas spirit:

Regent Street

Once again Regent Street have their beautiful angel Christmas lights that sparkle and glow magnificently. Nothing makes me feel more in the Christmas spirit. For true Christmas magic  follow the angels all the way to Hamleys and tap into your inner child (it is Christmas after all).

Carnaby Street

Just tucked behind Regent Street is the magnificent Carnaby Street where you can experience a different kind of Christmas. This year they have opted for a Christmas carnival theme. With birds of paradise and all the bright colours you could imagine. Pay the spectacular Choccy Woccy Doo-Dah a visit and get some Christmas chocolate inspiration. Or if beauty is your thing, get lost in the likes of Benefit, Urban Decay, Mac and Too Faced for all your Christmas wish-list dreams.

 

Liberty London

Also just off Carnaby street is Liberty London. Founded over 142 years ago it is one of the oldest and most spectacular department stores in the country. With its mock-Tudor exterior and dramatic window display it’s enough to get that warm fuzzy feeling and that’s before you’ve even visited the 4th floor. Take the lift to their Christmas shop for unique Liberty gifts and stunning tree decorations. They have everything. Think personalised baubles for your pet to stunning peacock tree decorations. It’s near impossible to resist them all.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Whilst it may not be the largest Christmas market in London, year on year it becomes one of my favourites. At any time of year there is something special about Leicester square, so add some Christmas magic and you have a truly beautiful mix. Be sure to check out the craft stalls and the mini pancakes to feel truly Christmassy.

 

 

WinterVille – Clapham junction

Think of it as almost a mini winter wonderland. Whilst not as spectacular, it’s certainly cheaper and far less crowded. With a bouncing beer tent, ice skating and alcoholic hot chocolate on offer it is certainly not one to be missed.

And finally…

Oxford Street

For me, it’s the epitome of Christmas in London. There is no greater feeling than stepping off the tube at Bond street station and seeing beautiful lights wherever you look. Year on year the window displays set it apart from your normal London shopping street. Be sure to check out “Moz” in John Lewis and the neon “with love” at Selfridges for a true feeling of Christmas.

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. However t 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.

What happened on the day?

The first walk saw us gather outside Bank station to follow a walk based on the Central tube line, ending at Chancery Lane. The tour guide Mark was excellent at providing us with interesting information throughout the walk. We stopped 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 logo at work 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 and made our way to Westminster for our second walk of the day. Starting just outside Westminster station we took in New Scotland Yard, the remains of Whitehall Palace and the beautiful Somerset house. The trivia 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. The next one is scheduled for the 20th/21st May, the one after that will be 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 everything there is to see in London in the walking section. They also provide a “walking tube map” an alternative to the conventional map which gives you the walking distances between stations. You might be surprised at just how short some of the distances are. If you want a bit more direction whilst exploring on your own there are loads of walking books available on Amazon or in stores such as Oliver Bonas.

We can’t wait to get out with our new book and explore what else we can find above the underground!