Wednesday, 17 July 2013

It's Getting Hot in Here...

So lets all pile into a moving metal box, a couple of hundred feet under the ground and sweat on one right?

Summer has well and truly arrived, and Londoners really are making the most of it. Office workers are fighting their way to the nearest patch of grass, stripping off ties and tights as they go. Tourists are descending on Oxford Street in their masses, with every unneccessary picture taken being photobombed by a bedraggled, sweaty commuter. 

The summer has also brought my stressful work load to a slow, as clients and colleagues jet off to various islands all over the world (no really, I'm not jealous at all....) and has given me some time to revamp and get blogging again. It's good to be back! Don't worry you can still catch my old posts here.

So some tips to stop us London dwellers complaining in all this hot weather; don't be that person who blocks the Tube window, it is cramped and boiling, please do not block the only source of air. Certainly don't be the tourist from warmer climates, whose main concern is their imaculate hair is being blown all over the place, and close the window. You don't want to feel the wrath of the London commuter; it's not good at the best of times, but especially not when temperatures are close to boiling point on the train. Get yourself outside and enjoy it, before we have to start complaining about the rain again! 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Heeeey Salty Lady

‘Welcome back’ I hear you cry! Well, realistically the majority of you didn’t even know I was away but yes, I have been jet setting quite a lot recently hence the lack of blog posts, for which I do apologise.

I have ventured North of the Wall (a.k.a Scotland), to the sunny Marrakech in Morocco and then finally back to the Emerald Isle.

When I chose Marrakech as a holiday destination for myself, my sister and my mum, I was quite honestly just looking for somewhere that would inject a bit of Vitamin D into my borderline translucent body (please see featured image on the Home Page). And Marrakech did not disappoint.

Although I just wanted to remain horizontal on a sun lounger for the week, I knew I ought to do some cultural things and was advised that the Old Town, or Medina’s, souks and food stalls were one of the top things to visit. I was well prepared for the haggling that would be needed and knew to wear long trousers, having had to resort to wrapping my scarf around my bare legs last year after realising that I was the only person not in something below the knee in Egypt’s Old Town.  These long pins certainly did cause a frenzy with the stall owners…. (Anyone who knows my leg to body ratio will note the irony of that statement).

As soon as we arrived in the Medina, with our guide La La [please insert appropriate Teletubbies joke here], I realised that I was very thankful for my daily Oxford Street commute. Weaving through tourists, avoiding charity collectors and saying a firm NO to those people giving out ‘free’ bags of makeup put me in good stead.

My twin sister and I, as some of you will know, are not the type to accept being ripped off, so we were fiercely haggling and bartering with every stall owner, much to the mortification of my mum. One particular man tried to sell my sister a unique, one of a kind, never to be seen anywhere else in the world EVER, carpet, for a casual £1,000. Following a swift exit we, unsurprisingly, saw that same unique, one of a kind carpet hanging on a cheaper stall 100m away – the con artist!

We day-tripped to the seaside town of Essaouira where we found out that its Medina was known as the Lucky Square. Much to my horror, Essaouira gained this name due to the copious number of seagulls and their frequent bowel movements. My irrational fear of seagulls was tested to breaking point, and I did come very, very close to being ‘lucky’ at one point, much to the amusement of our tour guide; ‘’Oooh that was a big s**t” – thanks mate, I’m aware.

Our tour guide taught us a lot about the history of Morocco, its political and education systems, but if I am perfectly honest I only took one piece of information away that day. Apparently, in Essaouira, instead of saying someone is sexy, they call them salty – from the expression salt of the earth- which had me singing ‘ Heeey salty lady op op op op oppan Gangnam Style’ for the remainder of the holiday. And although I did get asked out by a Moroccan Peter Andre, sadly no one actually called me Salty Lady.

So despite my mum’s attempts to rid herself of her embarrassing twin daughters, she realised that Ryanair may have charged her just a tiny additional fee to get camels into the hold, so we all arrived safely back in the UK without a Moroccan husband or a caravan of camels. Although my dad did suggest she try a 2 for 1 offer next time. Cheers Dad…

Follow me on Twitter: @HollyJ_Brown

Sunday, 17 March 2013

An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman

I honestly wish I could make up a witty joke to follow through with the title of this post, but unfortunately St Patrick's Day celebrations have got the better of me.  I have lost several thousand brain cells, and my stomach and liver are in a fierce battle with the green shots and subsequent KFC consumed last night in honour of the great Saint.

What a weekend its been. The Irish contingent were out in force, and everyone else was claiming Irish ancestry, well not during the Ireland Italy match of course, but apparently our ancestors really got around. The 'power shower' and 'how now brown cow' impressions were being thrown around like nobodies business.

I celebrated St Paddy's a day early in O'Neill's, which was, as you can imagine, covered floor to ceiling in shamrocks and leprechaun hats.  If I am honest, my real celebrations were actually due to the England defeat in the Six Nations. I know we Irish can't exactly talk after our pitiful performance in this year's championship (honestly, losing against Scotland AND Italy. Shameful, just shameful) but after all the abuse I have received over the last few weeks my joy is perfectly justified. 

The England fans didn't seem to understand why the Italians, Scots, Irish and even Aussies were supporting the Welsh. I'm not even sure I can fully explain it myself. It is just simply AOBE- anyone but England. That's just the way it is.

But my St Paddy's celebrations didn't end there. We continued the all day drinking into the evening and to a bar that is swiftly becoming one of my favourites. The Underdog in Clapham is free entry, has a great range of music including some timeless classics, and the bar staff even danced Coyote Ugly style on the bar. The serial song requester struck again last night, and it was very nice after requesting One Direction to not have the DJ actually laugh in my face and ask if I'm being serious, which happened to me a few weeks ago (just do your job and play my god-damn song!). Now don't judge me for that, firstly because it's St Patrick's Day so that is definitely racist, and secondly, 1D may be a bunch of little cretins, but their songs are really catchy!

Naturally after midnight, and therefore officially St Patrick's Day, the shots began and well, it just went downhill from there. All in all I have had a thoroughly drunken St Patrick's weekend, and yes, I even ate a heavily potato based meal for breakfast. Irish stereotype well and truly lived up to!

So, I raise my glass to you, well a metaphoric glass, as the thought of alcohol makes me want to retch. Here's to Arthur*. Here's to Saint Patrick. And here is to all those who are, or claim to be, Irish.... so basically everyone then.

Happy St Patrick's Day, and may your hangovers be as mighty tomorrow as mine is today.

*Arthur Guinness - no further explanation needed.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Who runs the world....

Well the last few days have been quite important for the female sex. International Women’s Day on Friday, Mother’s Day on Sunday and yesterday another woman stood up against the sexual predator that is Harry Styles.

(Calm down 1D’ers I have listened to 1D’s ‘Kiss You’ on repeat more times than I would like to admit, so no hating please!)

Now I am not a parent, and as most of my friends will tell you, I am really not the mothering type. I am aware that there are probably mothers, daughters, grandmothers (Hi Nana), fathers and sons (see, not sexist!) reading this, but I have to admit I am that person who strategically chooses a seat as far from a small child as possible on a plane (cheers Easyjet for going back to allocated seating). And I have got off a bus three stops early when a child wouldn’t stop crying, that level of noise in such a confined space was just more than I could bear.

But I am a daughter who sadly couldn’t see her mum this weekend due to ridiculous flight prices back to Belfast (god Easyjet, can you do anything right?!).

My mum and I had the classic ‘no honestly, don’t get me anything’ chat early last week, which of course is code for ‘Thornton’s summer fruits chocolates will be just fine’, but for some reason, this year, I took her request quite literally.

As the guilt started to set in, and the subsequently bought Thornton’s chocolates made a disappearing act, I had to rethink.

I tried to remember some of the great memories over the years, like Mum v Ikea Furniture with incorrect screws, or Mum v Crowbar while laying floorboards. Both great and hilarious moments in my opinion, but my mum swears that neither of these events actually took place (she has obviously repressed those traumatic memories) so maybe best not to dwell on those.

I decided that I was going to attack this Mother’s Day gift DIY style. So I set off into London with my twin sister, a photographer (who was blissfully unaware of this role when agreeing to the day trip) and a handmade I LOVE MUM sign.

The idea was to create a photo/video montage of this sign and us across London. It started with the simple, un-intrusive photos of me with my hairdresser, then with the barman at a pub (cheeky sod then tried to get my number so he could “send the photo to his mum”…I know your game!). Next stop was a casual Tube photo; you can imagine how well that went down with the London commuter beside me…not awkward at all.

We then decided it was time to move on to bigger targets, the London Eye, Big Ben, etc. We were tempted by a large wooden climbing frame on the Southbank, but as ‘big kids’ weren’t allowed, we decided it was best to avoid this photo opportunity, as our mum would definitely not appreciate a phone call from the police on Mother’s Day.

Our final few shots were with the talented Southbank street performers, which I have praised in previous blogs. The man dressed as a chicken and the green Frankenstein were more than accommodating, but one particular performer had a different agenda all together.

A man painted head to toe in gold, floating in mid air; how could you miss that photo op, right? WRONG! He asked for a kiss on the cheek in return for the photo. I naturally obliged, as my thespian sister couldn’t possibly risk contracting tonsillitis, glandular fever or swine flu before a performance…

So as I moved in for the kiss, and yes you’ve guessed it, he pulled the fastest head-turn I have ever witnessed and got me square on the mouth, I swear he tried to get the tongue in too! I’m not going to lie, I felt somewhat violated after my mouth-assault, but it did produce some pretty amusing photos, so Mum, I hope you appreciated it!

Lots of people asked to borrow my sign to send pictures to their mums, (you lazy dogs, know who you are!) so I think I managed to spread a little love, and no doubt facial herpes, around London on Saturday.

Of course I am not suggesting that, next year, you all put yourselves at risk of mouth-assault for Mother’s Day; a perfectly good, and hygienic option for Mother’s Day is afternoon tea. Lots of places around London offer it, with my personal preferences being the Sanderson Hotel Mad Hatter tea party and, for a more traditional affair try Camellia’s Tea House on the top floor of Kingly Court; Carnaby Street- the Red Velvet cake is something else!

So, to my lovely Mum, I thank you for everything you have done for me, and I am thankful everyday that I inherited your deep-seated love of chocolate and list writing. It has created the most perfectly organised route to obesity.

Not under pressure for Father’s Day at all…

Follow me on Twitter @HollyJ_Brown

Friday, 1 March 2013

Thinking about food? Good, me too.

Anyone who knows me relatively well knows that I like food. I like it quite a lot. Okay, I’m lying. I have an unnecessary, emotional bond with food, it is on my mind 90% of the day, and it is my sun, stars and moon. Thornton’s calls to me when I walk past (although my mum gets this too, so it's obviously a genetic disorder and therefore out of my control), and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange genuinely is mine, ALL mine, and so help me if you take the middle section or the final segment you will regret it.

So, in summary, I bloody love food.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way a food connoisseur, in fact, I am actually terrible with food. My housemate can vouch for this; I am in charge of cutting and stirring ONLY, as I cannot be trusted with any other duty. I did in fact, on one occasion (as you only make this mistake once), put a potato wrapped in copious amounts of tinfoil in the microwave a few years back…as you can imagine that was not my most successful jacket potato.

However, not being able to cook doesn’t concern me that much because I know my true skills lie in the eating department. And my god do I do it well.

I have been blessed (or cursed in my waistline’s often-ignored opinion) with both a sweet and savory tooth. I believe whole heartedly in the power of the ‘second-wind’ – for those of you who don’t know, this is strategic breaking throughout a large meal, to ensure that you can eat the maximum amount possible. I get horrendous food envy; if you’re having chips, I am having chips. Salad is not real food – FACT. And I have just experienced what I called ‘Cake-Watch’ of the cake in the fridge on the ground floor of work. It really is surprising how fast you can move down 8 flights of stairs when you receive the email announcing the cake has been cut.

Okay so I will stop reminiscing and get to the point. As you may have realised, I like to eat, and apparently I cannot cook, so eating out is the perfect option for me, however my purse and I don’t quite agree on this.

But I have the solution! When I moved to London a friend introduced me to the wonderful Tastecard and it has honestly saved me so much money. This card gets you 50% off or Two 4 One in restaurants all across London and the UK. And I can tell you now it definitely takes priority in my purse over my gym membership card.

Just be careful that you ring up and book a table before hand and tell them you have the card as some places will refuse it if you haven’t pre-warned them. And a lot places won’t accept the cards on Friday and Saturdays, but it is all very clear on the website.

At the moment they are on sale for £79.95 for the year, which in fairness you would make back fairly quickly, however a few times a year they are discounted to around £30, which is far more reasonable, so I shall keep you in the loop when that comes around again. Alternatively you could try out their free trial which lasts for a month.

A few of my personal favourites include Imli (Indian Tapas, currently being refurbished) and Banana Tree (Indochina restaurant) both of which are on Wardour Street, Soho. I even kindly, but unknowingly, made an Orangutan Donation with my meal in Banana Tree last night, although that was my fault for not actually reading the menu properly due to my excitement.

[And I can tell you, the coconut ice cream in Banana Tree is ridiculously good, it fits perfectly into your dessert stomach, and this is coming from a girl who thinks a Bounty is not worthy of a spot in the Celebrations tin]

Fear not, for those who like to keep it simple with a good old Italian, Zizzi’s, Pizza Express, Prezzo and many more take Tastecard as well! It pretty much has every cuisine going.

So whether you are one of those people with a regular ‘Eat to Live’ type relationship with food or, like me, have a ‘Live to Eat, and eat some more, and then some more’ type relationship you need to get yourselves a Tastecard and start saving some money.

Please note that I take no responsibility for any expansion in waistline, increase in sales of slimming/hold-in pants or any additional time required on the Spawn of Satan, a.k.a the treadmill, as result of this blog.

And to finish could we please just all take a moment to give thanks to Marks & Spencer for bringing the buckets of Chocolate Mini Bite rolls into our lives. We are eternally grateful.

Follow me on Twitter: @HollyJ_Brown

Image of Mojito Cupcake from E&C Cakes. Follow on @EC_Cakes

Friday, 22 February 2013

Victoria's Station has the right idea!

New rule for the Code of Conduct: TfL should employ people like this at every station across London. That would get a smile on a few peoples' faces.

Now I finally understand why Victoria is forever shutting down in the mornings, I would want to listen to this guy all day too. One Love....


Follow me on Twitter HollyJ_Brown

Friday, 15 February 2013

Please Stand Behind the Yellow Line

Love is in the air in London this week! Well, in reality ‘love’ in London is angry commuters carrying dying flowers and melted chocolates on the Underground, to partners at home (don’t worry singletons; I am retching at the thought of those loved up couples too).

So even St Valentine can’t tame the commuters of London. If anything I think he has made it even worse. It is a well-known fact for anyone who has to regularly fight their way onto a Central Line train, like I do everyday, that people on this line do not want to go to work, but this week has been particularly bad. Passenger alarms are pulled as regularly as District Line closures.

Daily commuters, like me, have a routine that gets them from bed to work in a certain amount of time, and anyone disrupting this routine is likely to induce a rage like no other…silent rage. Probably the most deadly of all- cursing and screaming at someone you have never met, but all inside your head.

Therefore, I think TFL should enforce a Code of Conduct to reduce the severity of the inevitable heart attacks and stomach ulcers awaiting us London commuters. For example…

Code of Conduct

1. Stand on the right. ON THE RIGHT!

Having lost the ability to tell my left from right at roughly the age of 11, I am  (embarrassingly) one of those people who have to double-check which one is which.  If you are the same, pre check this before you get on the escalators remember if your hand makes an “L” shape then that is left.

(And yes, I have had to check on my hands at least 3 or 4 times that right is actually the correct side to stand on before posting this.)

2. Public Displays of Affection (PDAs)

Please refer to earlier retching comment. Enough said.

3.  “Can you move down a bit”

The most dreaded words commuters can hear on a packed train. If you have to ask the question, then there is CLEARLY no bloody room!!

4. Give up your seat

Now, I am not suggesting giving it up to anyone of course. I know the attempts of pushing yourself into the aisle to get into prime position only too well, but occasionally it is just good manners to give it up. I know this all seems obvious, but it still surprises me when I am the first to offer my seat to an elderly person when there are grown men averting their eyes in the carriage, where are your manners lads?? Hasn’t Pride and Prejudice taught you anything?

Also if you are pregnant, please wear the badge, please! It would save the rest of us from some very awkward conversations.

5. Coughing and sneezing

Take your disease ridden self home to bed and stop infecting the rest of us…please.

As the Underground has just celebrated its 150th anniversary I think TFL should give something back to its raged commuters by way of a simple gift. Like enforcing the Code of Conduct, or even more simply having the District Line completely open for one weekend in the year, or putting a ban on those people who are incompetent at topping up their oyster cards. It’s the simple things in life TFL..

Now, I am aware that this blog post isn’t exactly in keeping with my general theme of finding hot spots around London, but it has just been one of those weeks. And although I may be ranting, you can’t tell me that the majority of you haven’t experienced at least one of these things or silently wanted to punch that slow walker in front of you.

So maybe St Patrick can do a better job next month. Sure, no one enjoys a tube journey more than the ones filled with drunken people dressed in green and claiming to be the next Michael Flatley, and trying to prove it to the whole carriage….

Bring on the 17th March!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Tourism; Deadly Sin or Guilty Pleasure?

Can you imagine moving to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower, or moving to Dublin and not visiting the Guinness Factory? No, of course you can’t! (Well, okay, maybe you can, but just go along with it.) So, why is it so difficult for us London dwellers to get out to see the sites of the City?

I am not here to judge of course; it took me over a year before I decided it was time to don the bum bag and the camera and set off on a day of touristy activities with a Farmer and a Londoner in tow.

London makes a lot of money out of tourism, and no, I am not going to provide a nerdy fact of how much, but it is safe to say that these activities are not cheap. To start with, I would avoid the London Eye (with tickets between £17-£40), there isn’t anything up there that a good Google Images search of ‘London Skyline’ can’t provide. In my opinion the best action is at ground level, or underground to be precise…

With a National Rail train ticket you can get 2 for 1 on lots of attractions around London, and my tourist day started with the London Bridge Experience and the London Tombs, which unsurprisingly takes place under London Bridge.

[Can I just point out that, yes, this deal is convenient for people who have travelled into London on a National Rail train, but for the regular Underground users the best way around this is to take a quick trip from Waterloo East to London Bridge, or something similar, for £2.60 so you have your National Rail ticket ready to go!]

The London Tombs are what I could only describe as the dirty love child of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre villain and that creepy puppet from Saw. Horror films have never overly scared me, well, with the understandable exception of when someone decided to call the house phone after I had just watched The Ring, but I can quite honestly say, in the Tombs, I was scared shitless.

I would like to point out now that if you are one of those grumpy sods who tuts at people who love a bit of audience participation, then I would say this one isn’t for you, as interaction is required/forced upon you.

So, we were initially briefed on the usual Health and Safety stuff, told that no photography was allowed and most importantly, not to worry because the actors would NOT touch you. This, my friends, was a LIE. Not only do the actors chase, scream and swipe at you, they basically go Hannibal Lecter on you.

I can advise now that if you have any friends who adopt the same ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ style tactics when faced with danger as my friend did, I would suggest not opting to walk behind them when going through the Tombs, as it makes running from the villains exceptionally difficult! Although, I do have to admit there was something oddly satisfying about hearing the 6ft3 man behind me screaming in terror as he was chased with a man wielding a chainsaw.

Now, I am aware that I may not be selling this particularly well to everyone, but honestly it was a very fun, if slightly terrifying, experience with a bit of London history thrown in there too. For the thespians among you, it makes for a great role-play exercise, and if the Movie Star dream dies a painful death after Drama School, could be a great job opportunity!

However, if you would prefer something a little bit more relaxing for your touristy day National Rail 2 for 1 covers lots of well known, and not so well known events, from the London Aquarium to Locations of James Bond Films to a Jack the Ripper tour.

And for a completely free experience just take a walk along the Southbank where you will get to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, The Globe Theatre, the London Eye and a variety of other London attractions and some incredibly talented street performers along the way.

So, leave your commuter rage at home and embrace your inner tourist! As for me, next stop ... Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea.

Follow me on Twitter: HollyJ_Brown

Friday, 1 February 2013

Touched too much

For all of those who think they have just stepped into the blog of an aspiring 50 Shades novelist, I am very sorry to disappoint, you filthy lot, but you haven't.

As I have mentioned before this blog reviews some of the things to do and people to see ( not things to see and people to chain up 50 Shaders!) in London, within a budget.

I, for one, certainly felt fitter over the Olympics last summer- all that drinking and shouting at the huge screen in Hyde Park really was a good work out- but as the GB flags and Tom Daley shrines are starting to be taken down, the pounds are starting to creep back up!

I know from experience how difficult it can be, when you move to London, to decide which sports team to join without sacrificing a lie in on Saturday morning, or even worse, being that person who is hungover and throwing up on the side of the pitch. However, fear not my dear obesophobes (and yes it is a real phobia) I have the solution.....getting touched up.

Now calm yourselves down 50 Shaders, I don't mean it in that sense, I mean in the touch rugby sense. Let me explain....
The sport is mixed touch rugby, so no tackling or cauliflower ears and both woman and men on the pitch (2 girl minimum at any time), although, as you may expect, the majority of the players are men.

Most men who play in a mixed league have sustained an injury at some stage and can no longer play full contact rugby, or so they tell me... However, I have been held/touched for a tad too long on a number of occasions to believe that all the men's motivations are based on previous injury...

Honestly though, if you have recently moved to London, or even if you haven't, and are looking to play some light hearted sport and meet lots of new people then Go Mammoth is the place for you. I paid £65 for a 9 week league and it was worth every penny. It is even cheaper if you enter a full team in the league too. If touch rugby isn't your game then Go Mammoth have a variety of sports from dodgeball to ultimate frisbee to meet your needs. Not only this, but after each match all the players get 20% discount at a local sponsored bar.

So, don't be that person who can only talk about their job and their partner. Get out there, meet some new people and keep those pounds off!!

And hey, who doesn't love a cheeky grope.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Late night was it?

Like most people, I like a good drink. The more observant of you will have noticed the name of this blog, and won't be overly surprised by my opening sentence. However, contrary to the stereotype I don't shot Guinness through my eyeballs, I don't say Tirty Tree, and I don't have a pot of gold stashed under the bed (I will admit right now though, that I do bloody love potatoes...).

I again, like most people, have attempted (or failed in my case) to complete a 'Dry January' - alcohol free for 31 long days. I completed a solid 19, and then it went somewhat downhill, however I don't fully blame myself for this...

All Londoners, tourists and visitors alike know that drinks in London aren't exactly cheap. However Late Night London have made it their mission (in my opinion) to break as many people's dry January as possible with their 50% off drinks sale throughout this tough month.

Now I don't work for Late Night London, nor am I receiving any payment or shots for this blog (sadly), but I think everyone should be making the most of the last weekend of Late Night discounts.

Over 40 bars across London are taking part and its as simple as printing off the vouchers and handing them to the bar staff. However be warned, it is one voucher per transaction, so if you are wise you will have your handbag bursting with these vouchers, as I did last Saturday night.

I feel at this point I should do my bit and promote drinking responsibly - these vouchers can cause unusual and outright embarrassing behaviour, including dancing 'gangnam style' moves to the DJ because you have forgotten the name of the song...I am the serial requester of songs on nights out, but I feel this was my all time low.

So ladies and gents if you are feeling the January blues and funds are running a little low but you still want to get merry this weekend, get on to Late Night London.

To all those who are 25 days sober, I salute you. To the rest of us, there's always next year.

London's calling...

Belfast born and bred, I moved to London over a year and a half ago to start life in the Big City. The prospect of moving was always going to be a daunting one; coming from Belfast where strangers chat with ease on public transport and have a relatively relaxed way of life, I knew London would be a completely different beast. Just to put it in context, I was not only offered a job in a fish and chip shop on my flight over to London, but a blind date with the grandson of an elderly Belfast woman sitting beside me, where as in London if you talk to someone on the Tube you are naturally a raving lunatic.

Now that I have finally got my bearings in London I have started this blog to review places to go and things to see within London. From the best value afternoon tea to the most, dare I say it, enjoyable Hollywood wax experience.

Humans are creatures of habit so the thought of changing your hairdresser, your local pub and even your dentist is a troubling one (and yes, I will have to admit that I am still travelling back to Belfast to see my local dentist...). The hope of this blog is to encourage those reading it to post reviews and suggestions of places they have visited or services they have received, as it is too easy to receive a below-average service for an extortionate price in London, so with your help lets shed some light on the hidden (and not so hidden) gems of London!