lbhblog

Jun 042014
 

 

If you only visit one exhibition this year, make sure it’s the Matisse Cut-outs at Tate Modern, opening tomorrow until 7th September 2014.   I predict that the Tate has a major blockbuster on its hands here. Brilliantly curated with a light touch, these masterpieces from the latter end of Matisse’s life emit an unqualified joie de vivre which will appeal to all ages and leave you with a smile on your face. Make sure you take the accompanying headphone tour as there are anecdotes galore which only add to your enjoyment.

Handwritten illustrated books mix with the major pieces, each looking as fresh as the day they were commissioned. It is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the artist’s paper cut-outs made between 1937 and 1954 and features 130 works, many seen together for the first time. When ill health prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors and in a very simplistic explanation, a new art form was born.  His will to continue creating works of art must have been extraordinary strong – I am in awe of his genius and I am sure I will return again to see this incredible exhibition.

Henri Matisse:  The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern is open from 17th April – 7th September 2014.  Tickets (with donation) are GBP18.  For a quieter viewing, book the Sunday evenings where visitors are restricted from 20.00 – 22.30.  Can’t get to London but you live in the UK or Eire, then from 3rd June, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs Live will be shown live at selected cinemas.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

 

 

 

 

May 192014
 

 

This silky smooth Martini was created by Carlo the Head Bartender for the General Manager who just loves chocolate…

50ml Vodka

15ml Cocoa Liqueur

15ml White Cocoa Liqueur

15ml Chocolate sauce

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. Double strain and serve in a chilled Martini Glass. Garnish with two Mini Marshmallows and enjoy.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

May 142014
 

 

The most extravagant, the most recognisable and perhaps the most poignant statue in London for me has to be Queen Victoria’s memorial to her late lamented husband, Prince Albert, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London in Kensington Gardens.  It commemorates the life and work of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – a life cut short at just 42 when he died of typhoid fever.

He left behind him a grief-stricken widow who would wear her mournful weeds for the rest of her life.  This memorial to her husband took eight years to complete, was designed in the gothic manner by George Gilbert Scott and involved an army of artists and craftsmen in its complex design.

The iconography of the statutory is slightly confusing but from what I can gather, the main large sculptures on the outer edges symbolise the various continents of the world who exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 which to a large degree, was organised by Prince Albert.  It took place in a temporary Crystal Palace created just a few metres away in Hyde Park.  The groups above the main frieze are symbolic of Agriculture, Manufacture, Commerce and Engineering – the major themes of the Exhibition.

The Parnassus frieze however, which runs around the memorial, depicts those figures that the Victorians considered the greatest figures in Western culture, arranged within the fields of poetry, music, painting, sculpture and architecture. Most of the statues are hewn from Campanella marble but for the figure of Prince Albert (for which 72 tons of cannon barrels were provided by Woolwich Arsenal), gilded bronze was used.

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The sculptor of Albert himself – or rather sculptors – was firstly Baron Marochetti (who died), then John Foley (who again died before the statue was cast) and finally Thomas Brock who completed the work.  It shows him in his Garter robes, holding a volume of the Great Exhibition catalogue. The actual memorial opened to the general public in 1872 but without the Prince’s statue which was eventually installed three years later.  It was then covered up again  for another year so it could be gilded before being finally unveiled in March 1876.  Scott was knighted for his work on the memorial.

 

The monument incurred slight damage in both World Wars but it was only when a piece of lead fell off in 1983, that a full restoration was commissioned.  The monument, complete with an Albert now covered in 24-carat gold, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1998.  Rumour has it, it is a bit too ornate for her taste ….

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company. Images by Sue Lowry

May 062014
 

Today we bring you another Quarter Bar & Lounge original, made with a London native Edgerton Pink Gin. Edgerton is resolutely London-based and is London’s first Pink Gin. The botanicals come from halfway round the world. Coriander, angelica, juniper, orris root, sweet orange peel, cassia bark, nutmeg – oh and did I mention – the Admirals and officers in the Royal Navy used to drink Pink Gin?

To make this deliciously pink concoction, you will need:

  • 50ml Edgerton Pink Gin
  • 50ml cranberry juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 4 raspberries
  • 1 egg white

In the bottom of a cocktail maker, muddle the raspberries and add the gin, cranberry juice, lemon juice, syrup and mix gently. Add the egg white and shake over ice, then double strain and garnish with mint. Sit back and enjoy!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Apr 222014
 

 

In the space of just 12 years (it opened in March 2000), The EDF Energy London Eye has become a symbol of London innovation and cities around the world have raced to replicate its success. Taking seven years to create, the Millennium Wheel as it was known when it opened, was designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield, a husband and wife architectural team and at 135 metres, is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels.   It is now the UK’s most popular visitor attraction with over 3.75 million customers a year.

Here are five fast facts about one of my all time favourite London attractions:

  • You can see around 40 kms (25 miles) from the top on a clear day – sometimes even as far as Windsor Castle.
  • There are 800 passengers per revolution, equivalent to 11 London red double decker busses.
  • A rotation takes around 30 minutes.
  • The weight of the wheel and capsules is 2,100 tonnes or as much as 1,272 London black cabs.
  • Kate Moss is the UK celebrity who holds the record for return visits on some 25 occasions with Jessica Alba being the international record holder at 31!

Go on – give it a whirl – I know you want to.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Apr 152014
 

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Ever wanted to meet the man behind the platters? Well our next staff profile is for you… meet Head Chef Guy.

Guy has always had a passion to cook, ever since he was a little boy – “I was always going to be a chef”. He likes dishes with big flavours, which explains why the Deep fried brie with beetroot jam is a particular favourite.

With the menu for Quarter Bar & Lounge, Guy takes his inspiration from the local markets and their seasonal fair, to create a number of modern dishes with a British or Mediterranean flavour.  At home, however, he enjoys nothing more than traditional Congolese food.

So the all-important question that all chefs must be asked – what ingredient could you not cook without? A simple answer from Guy – all of them, they are all as important. Without salt you have no flavour but without meat and vegetables you have nothing to season!

Oh and one more – what football team do you support? Even faster with the answer this time – Man U!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Apr 112014
 

For this episode of Shaken not Stirred we bring you another a modern classic the espresso martini. This espresso martini is just one of many coffee-flavoured martini recipes being made today. We like this one because it uses chilled espresso that gives that caffeinated kick you just can’t duplicate with coffee liqueurs.

To make this intense and creamy drink you will need:

  • 50ml vanilla infused vodka (just steep a vanilla pod in vodka for a few weeks)
  • 50ml  Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • a shoot of espresso
  • 15ml sugar syrup

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and mix well. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with three coffee beans. Sit back and wait for the buzz!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Mar 312014
 

Paul O’Pray is the Head Concierge of London Bridge Hotel, the independent, four star property located just steps away from London Bridge and The Shard London.   He has worked for the hotel for over 16 years this May and has become famous or perhaps infamous for his idiosyncratic musical choices shared via social media streams.  We caught up with him to ask him for his personal London favourites.

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You obviously love the area – what hidden gems are there hereabouts?

There’s Borough Market of course – unbeatable but I think the biggest gem in the collection has to be the Old Operating Theatre museum – just around the corner from us.  It offers a glimpse into the Victorian age and is atmospheric and bursting with character – a very unique attraction.

The Old Operating Theatre by Sue Lowry

I also like Southwark Cathedral just a couple of minutes walk from us across the road.  It’s a very peaceful oasis in the heart of the city – they offer a daily prayer and sometimes, it’s a very soothing place to visit and be at peace.  There’s a monument to Shakespeare and the Marchioness memorial of course – I always stop for a moment there. Oh and I love the George Inn.  The food is very good – there’s a mix of tourists and city types – it has a wonderful atmosphere and you can really feel the history – the coaches which must have pulled in here for refreshment before travelling onto Dover.

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The George Inn by Sue Lowry

Oh and did you know, the captain of the Mayflower is buried in Bermondsey at the St Mary the Virgin Church in Rotherhide.  Christopher Jones was his name.  London has a wonderful maritime history – and I love its seafaring history.

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St James Park by Sue Lowry

What else do you love about London?

I enjoy our parks – especially Hyde Park. Full of little gardens – you can really lose yourself in there and completely forget you are in the centre of the capital.  I’m a bit of a gardener too so I always visit Regent’s and St James’s Parks to see what’s going on.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

Mar 172014
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we bring you our twist on the classic Cuban cocktail, made with fresh kiwi, white rum and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

To make this fresh and fun cocktail you will need:

  • 1 ripe kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 50ml white rum
  • 50ml pressed apple juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup

In the bottom of a cocktail maker muddle the kiwi and add the rest of the ingredients and shake well over ice, then double strain and garnish with a slice of kiwi. Sit back and enjoy!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Mar 102014
 

There is so much to see in London but for newcomers, (and for Londoners like myself who have never done it),  my suggestion would be to visit the myriad of attractions that surround the Tower of London.  This suggested day out requires both stamina and good walking shoes!

Coming in via Tower Hill Underground and heading for the underpass, you might do a double take as I did when you notice a Roman statue staring at you.  This is not just any Roman centurion – it’s actually a statue of Emperor Trajan and he stands proudly in front of one of the largest parts of the Roman wall still in existence.  The London Wall (as its now known) used to surround the Roman city of Londinium.  (When you have time, a walk around the London Wall is another great “to do”, taking around two hours to complete and you can download a PDF of the route via the Museum of London.)

Anyway – keep heading onwards, following the crowds and in front of you, will loom the fortress of the Tower of London – a palace and a prison where many a terrified citizen has entered and never exited … alive.  It was built to awe and subjugate Londoners and the key building (and the one I headed to immediately) is the White Tower.  What really amazed me when I entered however was the pure scale of the site.  It really is enormous and there is so much to see and so many batiments to walk that you can spend a good few hours here.

Just inside the entrance, you come across a water gate.  This is the infamous Traitor’s Gate – trust me, you don’t want to enter the Tower of London this way – the clue is in the name.  Bad news.

Did you know the Tower of London used to house a Royal Menagerie (AKA zoo) around the time of King John too?  These rather good wire statues give an idea of the other “prisoner” inhabitants of the Tower.

What I really liked?  The costumed actors who inter-acted in perfect character with the public as you walked around.  These children are entranced.  I also liked all the cafes and restaurants scattered around the complex – all are good, well priced and ideal for quick re-fuelling.

Refreshed and revived, from here, it’s but a short walk to the nearby Tower Bridge.  I’ve always had a fascination with this particular London attraction as my god-father used to be Bridge Master here.

Shame he never did get to take me on a private tour but the friendly peeps here make everyone feel at home.  You ride up the lifts to see the walkways (little tip – take photos only from the tiny windows that open above the displays) – descending and walking across the bridge to go downstairs to see the engine rooms.  Just brilliant.

Now walking alongside the River Thames, my next suggested pit-stop is HMS Belfast – a tethered warship just steps from (and photographed from) Tower Bridge.  A World War II cruiser, she saw service from 1939 – 1963 when she retired.

HMS Belfast opened to the public on Trafalgar Day, 1971 under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum.  Today she is the last remaining vessel of her type – one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built.

There’s lots to see on board so a good tip is to leave around 90 minutes for your visit – I highly recommend it and kiddies in particular adore it.

OK, onwards and upwards again just along from HMS Belfast and you come across these amazing public artworks along the footpath.  I couldn’t see the artist’s name for this one – as you can see, it was otherwise engaged – but they are certainly both thought-provoking or amusing – depending on your point of view.

Trundling along the path, I next suggest a quick visit to Shakespeare’s Globe – the recreation of one of London’s famous Elizabethan theatres just a few feet along from where it originally stood.

We have American political refugee, Sam Wanamaker, to thank for this amazing building – without him, it surely would never have happened.  Thanks Sam.

Enjoy one of the many plays enacted on this famous stage (did you see it in Shakespeare in Love?) or just come for a tour of the building.  Quick tip – bring a comfy cushion along or hire one at the Globe if you come to a play – they are wooden seats and the plays can be long in duration.  Enough said.

You will hear all about the South Bank of London and its history – renowned for frivolity and excesses of all kinds and kept at arm’s length from the more serious-minded citizens of The City of London who forbade the operation of such “palaces of debauchery” within its square mile.  Tsk, Tsk.

On for another culture boost and just in the shadow of the Globe lies Tate Modern.  One of the UK’s top three tourist attractions, Tate Modern is housed inside the former Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station.  Imaginatively converted by Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, the views from the top floor restaurant are some of London’s best.  Reservations recommended.

After this day of heroic activity, crawl back home or head for the nearest bar ….. and relax.  Job well done.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.