Chock-a-block with LEGO

Round & About

London

Take your children along to a enjoy a free “edutaining” workshop, between 3rd and 5th August, thanks to LEGO at the Natural History Museum

Children aged six years and up are welcome to join the sustainable superhero Plantus Maximus at the Kensington museum and learn more about the natural world through fun and interactive LEGO® brick-building experiences.

To celebrate the arrival of the first LEGO bricks made from plants, children are challenged to combine LEGO plant elements and bricks to build their own sustainable superhero and create a natural habitat fit for Plantus Maximus and his friends.

You can embark on a special adventure with Plantus Maximus around the museum to learn more about the environment, natural world and how to help protect our planet. Kids and families are also invited to join in a variety of free activities and events over the same period.

The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity.

It is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK, attracting more than 4.5 million visitors each year.

Online booking is essential for the LEGO® Build sessions; visit www.nhm.ac.uk

Summer favourites from Paul Clerehugh

Round & About

London

We chat to Paul Clerehugh, the star chef of The Crooked Billet and London Street Brasserie…

Q. What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
“ My Vogue Speed Peeler, for planing Reggiano curls from a parmesan wedge. It produces perfect courgette, daikon and carrot ribbons and peels a waxy charlotte in seconds… I could even shave my legs with it.”

Q. What are your favourite al fresco summer dishes?
“Shaved courgette and parmesan dressed with thick green olive oil. Or else rotisserie spitroast chicken, loads of herbs, garlic and lemon. I’m also partial to a Mr Whippy with local raspberries and monkey blood.”

Q. Which are your favourite local suppliers, producers or farm shop?
“Blue Tin Farm Shop at Keepers Cottage in Ipsden. Great produce, a great smoke house, great providence and I fancy the farmer’s wife…”

Q. What’s your favourite summer veg, fruit and drink?
“Runner beans, tomatoes and Barbara Laithwaites’ Stoke Row English sparkling wine. I also love an ice-cold Dandelion & Burdock.”

Visit www.thecrookedbillet.co.uk  or London Street Brasserie

Three best brunch spots

Round & About

London

Serial brunch addict Jessica Elphinstone shares her insider knowledge on London’s hidden gems when it comes to foraging for more than just cereal

 

Rude Health Cafe
Coffee at Rude Health Cafe

Rude Health Cafe – 212 New King’s Road, SW6 4NZ
Founded and run by husband wife Nick and Camilla Barnard, Rude Health is all about natural food packed with goodness and amazing taste. Their café is a mecca to all things wholesome – spelt pancakes with berries and pistachios, wild salmon tartare and all manner of jazzed up porridge. It’s one of my favourite spots for a nourishing weekend brunch. A deli stocks freshly, baked goods and juices, as well as a great selection of Rude Health-branded products, and keep an eye out for their eccentric events, which range from wild swimming to life drawing.

Wright Bros – 26 Circus West Village, Battersea, SW8 4NN

Wright Bros Brunch
Wright Bros Brunch

Seafood lovers unite for this seriously unique brunch offering at the newest Wright Bros opening in the shiny new Battersea Power Station. Overlooking the river, one sunny Sunday, we ponder over kedgeree, a crab omelette and a heavenly lobster croque madame, washed down with freshly squeezed juices. Non-fishy options are available too, as well as a feisty cocktail menu featuring clamato juice bloody Marys and breakfast Martinis. In keeping with the nautical theme, the Thames Clipper can drop you off literally metres from the front door.

Love Walk Cafe Brunch

Love Walk Café – 12 Jerdan Place, Fulham, SW6 1BH
This unpretentious café in the heart of Fulham Broadway welcomes residents and tourists alike with an easy charm and generous portions. No-nonsense full English breakfasts are highly reasonable and well executed (surprisingly hard to come by in the capital!), while excellent coffee and fresh juices are served with a smile, and more experimental vegan and Mexican themed breakfasts are also well worth a try.

Fulham Market Hall marvel

Round & About

London

Jessica Elphinstone heads down to Fulham Market Hall to check out what everyone’s talking about…

A disused Edwardian ticket hall jazzily revamped as Fulham Market Hall brings serious sparkle to Fulham Broadway, offering a much-appreciated hub for some of West London’s best food and drinks. With ten different counters serving up everything from Hawaiian poké to fried chicken sandwiches,

Claudes Deli at Fulham Market Hall
Claudes Deli at Fulham Market Hall

Begin with a Fulham Spritz or two, served from the original London Underground ticket office booths. The sparkling elderflower cocktail is a real winner for balmy August evenings.

An array of homemade bread and pastries, cheese boards, charcuterie and colourful salads are prepared to order at Claude’s Deli.

Following the huge success of Thai street food restaurant Farang, chef Sebby Holmes serves fiery South East Asian dishes at Thima. Whole crispy sea bass with fresh Asian herbs and a lime dressing is a particular favourite.

Butchies at Fulham Market Hall
Butchies at Fulham Market Hall

We love the free-range, fried buttermilk chicken sandwiches from Butchies, served with OG sauce and plentiful pickles.

Finish it all off with a weird and wacky ice cream sundae from Asian-inspired dessert bar Soft Serve Society. Topped with everything from candyfloss to bubble waffles to charcoal coconut, they’re certainly a novelty.

Find the Market Halls adjacent to Fulham Broadway Underground Station, SW6 1BW. Visit www.markethalls.co.uk

Hot stuff this summer!

Round & About

London

Hot in the city! But with so many top tipples to choose from and foodie favourites, here are our top picks to refresh and treat yourself here in south-west London….

Here, at Round & About Magazine, we are passionate supporters of local pubs, restaurants and producers. After all, anyone working in the food and drinks industry will know it takes a lot of hard graft to create the perfect recipe for punters to relax.

Lavinia Davolio in her Parsons Green Lavolio Boutique Confectionery shop
Lavinia Davolio in her Parsons Green Lavolio Boutique Confectionery shop

One fellow foodie who followed her hunger ( and her heart) is British-Italian entrepreneur Lavinia Davolio. Her sophisticated handmade confectionery, made with fruit, nuts and more goodies wrapped in chocolate and spices and a delicate sugar-spun shell are decadently delicious (not to mention pretty in their William Morris gift tins). Parsons Green-based Lavinia left a high-flying career in investment banking to pursue her dream and has lots of events planned for August and September –visit www.lavolio.com

Best for drinks

Gin has seen a surge in popularity and there are some interesting local distilleries and bars worth checking out. Did you know gin started out as a medicine (it was thought to cure gout and indigestion)? In the 18th century, alcohol was safer to drink than water and gin was cheaper than beer (it was untaxed until the government cottoned on, sparking hooch production). Much of the gin was drunk by women (with historians saying it resulted in child neglect and wet nurses giving gin to babies to quieten them), landing many in debtors’ prisons or the gallows, or driving them to madness, suicide and death (hence the term Mother’s Ruin). However, these days it’s a more joyful summer spirit, and best enjoyed in the sunshine. The Star & Garter, overlooking Putney Bridge, has 140 years of history and is home to Putney Gin Club (as well as serving good food, including charcuterie boards and cheese); www.thestarandgarter.com.

The Sipsmith Distillery in Chiswick is the first of its kind to open in London since 1820, and offers weeknight tours, a “sipper club” and delicious tipples; visit www.sipsmith.com.

We’ve also enjoyed a visit to the fun Mr Fogg’s gin parlour, tavern and house of botanicals in Mayfair and Covent Garden – visit www.mr-foggs.com.

A refreshing choice for those who love the botanical flavours and want a delicious summer drink without alcohol, Seedlip’s non-alcoholic spirits are served in some of the world’s best cocktail bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels; have a look at www.seedlipdrinks.com and enjoy!

Pilango Cider drink
Pilango Cider drink

We have so many great brewers and booze-makers here in this corner of south-west London. Parsons Green-based Pilango Cider offers exceptional cider with a global twist. The team’s offering is inspired by their travels across the world and their house ciders, Liberated and Hopped, are 100% juice ciders made from community-sourced apples.

Also great for hoppy bunnies, check out tours and tipples by Chiswick’s Fullers www.fullers.co.uk/brewery, Sambrooks Brewery, www.sambrooksbrewery.co.uk, Fordham Brewery in Kensington www.heathwick.com/fordhambeers
and Kew Brewery www.kewbrewery.co.uk. Also check out www.vagabondwines.co.uk

Best for food.

We have too many to mention that are especially beautiful in summer. For starters, our top picks include Claude’s Kitchen in Parsons Green, SW6 4JA, – our resident food fanatic Jessica Elphinstone is a big fan, especially of the tiramisu; call 020 7371 8517 or visit www.amusebouchelondon.com. She’s also a fan of vegan haven Picky Wops in Fulham’s North End Road (especially the pizza); www.pickywops.com.

So, we’d like to know what’s your favourite pub or restaurant and why? Join in the conversation and comment below.

Summer favourites from Atul Kochhar

Liz Nicholls

London

We asked Atul Kochhar the twice Michelin-starred chef, and owner of Benares in London, Sindhu in Marlow and many other restaurants, about his summer favourites

Atul Kolchhar
Atul Kolchhar

Q: What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
“I wouldn’t be without a wok or a karahi. A slightly heavier wok is best as you can stew, braise and fry. It’s a good idea to season a new wok before using it for the first time; Put plenty of salt in and heat then take a kitchen cloth and rub the salt all over the sides and base, wash with weak soapy water and dry.”

Q. What’s your fave al fresco dish?
“Anything I can do on the barbecue, meat, vegetables or fruit. You don’t need to add lots of spice; keeping it simple with salt, pepper and lemon juice is ideal. Try to retain the juices as much as you can by grilling on a high heat so the food seals quickly and retains flavour.”

Q. Do you have a favourite pub or restaurant?
“I love The Footman in Mayfair where, once in a while, I go for a pint with my team. A great place.”

Q. What about a fave farm shop or supplier?
Laverstoke Park Farm [in Basingstoke] does the best cheese, especially buffalo mozzarella.”

Q. Which British summer produce do you love?
“Early this year I made a pact with the family to spend less time travelling and more time at home so I’m mostly in the UK. Strawberries are my favourite. Chard and rhubarb I love, too, especially at this time of year. Chard is best blanched quickly, used in the same way as spinach. If I’m cooking a chicken curry I’d add the whole leaf to the pot – which makes it slightly salty but amazing, since it absorbs all the juices. The eating is fantastic! If you’re a vegetarian chard is a great option.”

Visit www.atulkochar.com

Just my type

Round & About

London

Chiswick artist Keira Rathbone owns 40 typewriters; but she doesn’t use them to put together modern art installations, she creates unique prints by using them the traditional way…she types

From pet portraiture to prints of Putney Bridge, Keira Rathbone’s art has captured plenty of attention – she’s even appeared on The One Show and national radio.

Keira Rathbone travelling and working

So how did Keira discover she could create artwork using a simple typewriter?

“I was at art school in Bristol and I saw someone typing at a typewriter in our studios,” she says. “It reminded me that I had previously purchased a little orange portable one for £5 from a charity shop and I made a note to dig it out when I was next at my parents house.”

At home with the typewriter, Keira’s words dried up: “But I just typed anyway, repeatedly hitting the same characters, actually avoiding creating words. I felt set free and started to enjoy fashioning the distinctive shapes and textures, how they look sitting next to each other or overlapping, experimenting with soft and hard keystrokes.”

Landscapes, city scenes, even celebrities have all been Keira’s subjects, but why not just use a pen or pencil?

Putney Bridge by Keira Rathbone typewriter artist
Putney Bridge by Keira Rathbone typewriter artist

“I like the typewriter because of its simple mechanism, she replies. “I stand a slight chance of being able to fix its minor problems. I’m not really into makes and models, as long as they work well and I can fit them in my pannier, suitcase, rucksack or under the buggy, ready for when inspiration strikes.” Keira doesn’t even sketch her subject first: “I don’t really want to know how an impression will turn out before I start, other than a vague composition.”

If you want to know more about Keira’s art and perhaps commission her, there’s more information on her website at www.keirarathbone.com

Behind the glitter

Rachel Wakefield

London

As a nation, it seems we just adore dancing. Beloved BBC television show Strictly Come Dancing often beats The X Factor on ratings at Christmas time.

Last year, 9.9 million people tuned in to watch Debbie McGee and Alexandra Burke show off their fancy footwork, compared to the 4.4 million tuning into the singing show final.

Step Up, the American dance drama movie franchise brought in more than £458million thanks to Channing Tatum’s swish moves. And on a weekend, come summer or winter, our country’s bars and clubs are packed to the brim with 20 and 30-somethings (or older) all dying to let go of any troubles from the previous week and just have a bit of a boogie – preferably with a cocktail in hand.

It’s understandable that many of us are considering dance as a new hobby. Ballroom, Latin, salsa, ballet, street, tap, modern, swing – there are so many different types to try. But what do you need to know before you put your best foot forward? Ballroom dancing looks effortlessly glamorous from an outsider’s perspective. But what’s it like on the front line, behind the hairspray, glitter and dazzling outfits?

I started ballroom dancing about two years ago and just competed in my very first contest, the Nationwide Medallist of the Year finals 2018 in Blackpool – the home of ballroom dance.

Stepping on to the Empress Ballroom floor at the Winter Gardens for the first time, with hundreds of eyes on me, I felt a little bit special – if not quite myself.

I was dark brown in tan, wearing the tightest and brightest royal blue ballroom dress, and my eyes fluttered beyond my control thanks to long false eyelashes glued to my eyelids. My hair had half a tube of gel in, and was hard as stone after multiple coats of hairspray. My acrylic nails were long and sparkly, my lips painted on in dark plum, and I stretched my mouth into the biggest, and most dazzling smile I could muster. I took up hold with my partner and began to dance…

It was utterly magical, if not incredibly frightening at the same time. I danced a waltz, tango, foxtrot and quickstep (the Viennese Waltz was saved for those who made the semi-final). And while I didn’t make the second round, here’s what I’ve learnt about what it takes to make it in ballroom:

1 Have passion! Like every hobby, you need to be passionate about it. I wouldn’t join a football team because I’m simply not into football. Competitive dance takes up a great deal of time, practice and requires dedication. There were moments I was ready to throw the towel in and quit forever, but my dance partner, teachers and family urged me to keep going and keep fighting.

2 Know your steps! I’ve had this drilled into me multiple times by teachers. If you don’t know the steps, it doesn’t matter how good your posture is, or how nice your hair looks, you simply can’t move if you’ve forgotten where to put your feet. Like any new skill, practice is key.

3 Take pride in your appearance! A lot of
work (and I mean a lot) goes into the appearance of a ballroom dancer before they compete – more so for the ladies than the men. Some of the dancers look completely unrecognisable. There’s fake tan, false eyelashes, hair pieces, bronzer, glitter, excessive jewellery and bright colours. Nothing seems to be off limits. I’ve seen girls wearing neon yellow dresses, with elaborate hair buns piled high into an almost unicorn shape. But it’s all to help them stand out. If a contestant decides against the fake tan – no matter how good a dancer they are – it may well be the difference between being noticed by a judge and not.
4 Stand your ground! I was, I’ll admit, a bit shocked during my first competition at the amount of elbows flying around. But once you’ve got your impressive ballroom shape, you don’t want to lose it and risk a judge seeing you just standing there in the middle of the floor. That may be the only time that judge looks up in your direction. So if you knock into another couple, regardless of whether their elbow goes into your eye socket, chest or perfectly styled hair, you stand your ground and keep going.

5 Be powerful! Dancing looks so graceful and effortless to me. But in reality, the most experienced couples are working in overdrive to power their way across the floor. Many of the top dancers are slim and slight, but underneath have muscles working harder than ever before. A judge is far more likely to spot a couple powering their way across the entire length of a floor, rather than taking tiny steps in the corner.

6 Show confidence! The winning couples are often the most confident – it pours out of them. They dance their routines perfectly, looking like it’s second nature; they wink at the audience and grin and laugh as they go. They’re the ones who catch the eye. So even if you take a wrong step, style it out, you’re far more likely to sail through to the next round.

7 Have fun! If something isn’t fun, it probably isn’t for you. It’s just the way it is. But dance doesn’t have to be competitive. If you don’t enjoy the serious side of it, it’s perfectly OK just to continue it as a casual hobby. I spent my first year of ballroom just having a laugh at my weekly beginners’ classes before I stepped into the competing world and decided to take it more seriously.

Fancy learning something new? Want to set yourself a challenge? Dance suits all ages, abilities and fitness levels. Head over to a class with your other half, friend, parent or colleague and see if you have what it takes to “keeeep dancing”.

Give it a go yourself…

The Dance Lab in Upper Richmond Road in Putney offers ballroom and Latin classes to people of all abilities; call 020 8870 6113.

Dance Attic Studios in North End Road Fulham offers classes for kids and adults, in ballroom, Latin, and ballet; call 020 7610 2055.

Ebb & flow

Rachel Wakefield

London

Author Sofka Zinovieff explains more about her new novel inspired by the patch of south-west London where she grew up and which is being hailed as a summer must-read…

I spent much of my childhood living by the river in Putney. We lived so close to the bridge that the house trembled every time a Tube train went over, and passing “pleasure boats” blaring dance music were a feature of summer evenings.

My father had an electronic music studio that started in a shed in the garden, and later graduated to the basement. Vast banks of computers and synthesisers let out mad squawks and bleeps and I would regularly return from school (Putney High School) to find rock groups like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, as well as experimental musicians from around the world.

When I decided to write a novel set in the 1970s, it was too tempting not to use elements from my own environment as the setting. Although the story is not my own, the physical setting is largely based on the place I lived and the heady atmosphere of barefooted, flower-powered, wild-child indulgence is inspired from the world I knew.

Daphne is only 13 when she falls in love with Ralph, an upcoming composer, 20 years her senior. Ralph is married, but he has long been obsessed with Daphne – “dark, teasing, slippery as mercury, more sprite than boy or girl”. He is also close to her alluring bohemian parents, Ellie (a Greek political activist) and Edmund (a successful writer). In the hot summer of 1976, Daphne and Ralph travel to Greece together and manage to “disappear” for a few days to an island. Only one person knows of their passionate trysts: Daphne’s best friend Jane, whose awe of the intoxicating Greenslay ensures her silence.

Daphne looks back to her first love as a romantic secret. After a rackety life with a brief, disastrous marriage to a Greek billionaire and years of drug abuse, she is finally back on track. She and her 12-year-old daughter now live on the other side of the Thames, with a view across to her old home. When Daphne re-connects with Jane, she is forced to reconsider her relationship with Ralph. Growing anxiety over her own adolescent daughter leads her to confront him, the truth of her own childhood, and an act of violence that has lain hidden for decades…

High achievers

Rachel Wakefield

London

This month Wimbledon, next year the West End and the world…
Dance Overture is London Studio Centre’s annual end-of-year production, showcasing the varied and exciting talents of first and second-year students.

Overflowing with energy, this month offers dance-lovers the chance to see household names of the future…
in spectacular form, between Friday 13th and Sunday 15th July Wimbledon’s New Theatre will host an exuberant display of jazz, ballet, contemporary dance and musical theatre. This exciting production was developed and rehearsed in just five weeks and showcases the diverse range of skills students have studied through a challenging year of technical training, rigorous assessment and rewarding academic exploration honed by leading and emerging choreographers.

London Studio Centre is keen to support former students in their careers, and some of the pieces in the production have been created by alumni who have established themselves in the field of choreography. Now they have a chance to work with those who are following in their footsteps.

However, this is by no means the only route people have taken once graduating. The London Dance Centre is 40 years old. It was founded by Bridget Espinosa and offers a comprehensive programme for students who are dedicated in the pursuit of excellence in all facets of musical theatre. The course offers a broad and versatile training and offers students the chance to specialise in classical ballet, contemporary dance, jazz dance and musical theatre. Aspects of all these genres will be showcased in the performances.

Studio Centre alumni have joined many of the leading companies such as Rambert Dance Company, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, English National Ballet, Royal Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Stomp, ZooNation, Spirit of the Dance, JazzXchange, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. They have also appeared in many Broadway and West End Shows such as Hamilton, Wicked, Matilda and Cats.

This will be an inspiring show for future young dancers as they have a chance to see students from a centre which is at the cutting edge of creative development. For further information and tickets, please visit www.atgtickets.com