Battling Summer Holiday Boredom: Top City Options

Nicole R.Nolan

Let’s face it: if you’re a parent, as much as the dawning of the summer break is a relief from fatigue for the kids, it is an emotionally charged scheduling nightmare for those who run the household. By the very nature of a school break, the children are always around and so the house gets messier and messier, hobbies once treasured at the end of a school week become less and less enticing, and finally there’s the fact that the summer holidays are long. Really long. It’s natural that – whisper it – boredom should become a concern.

Therefore, to help while you wrack your brains for an idea, here are some of ours. Encompassing fresh air, learning, and culture, there’s pretty much something for every child’s taste (if all else fails, however, you can always pop to the Barbican and catch “Mission Impossible – Fallout” or, of course, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”).

1. Centre of the Cell (Blizard Institute, Whitechapel)

Perfect for budding scientists, upon arrival at reception prepare to be met by “Explainers”, who are there to welcome visitors to Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry and run through H&S procedures before walking you to the Pod, suspended over the working laboratories. During term time, the Centre of the Cell (in the Pod) permits only school tours, but happily during the holidays there are public sessions as well. Take a look at the website for specific dates this month (you must book ahead).

However, on Wednesday 22 August, there is the final “Muscling In” special event (2pm to 4.15pm). Suitable for ages 7 to 12 years, the show explores how muscles, bones, and joints work together to aid human movement, all carried out in the Pod suspended over the Blizard Institute (adults £7.50; children £5.50).

2. Toffee Park Adventure Playground (Old Street)

Ideal for younger kiddies, Toffee Park is a nature haven in the City, nurturing a green oasis of trees and plants (and critters, too!) to surround children while they play out of doors – that cherished pastime of childhoods of yore… The adventure playground might be absolutely surrounded by an urban landscape, but within its bounds there’s also a “secret garden” for older attendees wanting a picnic spot, a pitch to kick a ball around on, and Arts & Crafts aplenty to offer more than enough activities to keep boredom at bay for sure.

3. Culture Mile 150 (Smithfield Markets)

Marking the 150th anniversary of the Smithfield Markets in the vein of the original Bartholomew’s Fair, Culture Mile takes place over the weekend of 25th and 26th August between the hours of 11am and 8pm and revels in the Arts in the north-west corner of the City for the two days. Entry is free and the entertainment on offer (combined with food and drink, at a price) is suitable for the whole spectrum of a family’s ages. Dubbed “London’s biggest birthday party”, there is sensibly a “chill out” area for under 5s (and their parents!). Saturday is all about cake, but Sunday offers a proper roast (and roller-skating). We’ll certainly be there.

 

Top 5 Family-Friendly Summer Bites in the City

Nicole R.Nolan

Every parent knows what it’s like: you’ve spent the day amusing, entertaining the kids – done the tourist track; done the off-the-beaten track – but all that energy still reveals itself to be inadequate as summer entertainment due to… growling stomachs. And it is a fact universally acknowledged that there is nothing grumpier than a hungry child. That said, though London is an amazing city for gastronomic delight, not every establishment is child-friendly. To this end, here at One City we’ve put together a list of what we believe to be the tastiest, most family-friendly eateries in town. Hope you enjoy.

1. Bodean’s BBQ Steakhouse (Old Street)

There is no generational divide when it comes to BBQ (though perhaps don’t take the vegetarian in your life, let alone due to the décor). With deals ranging from #BurgerDay Mondays (BOGOF), #sharingiscaring Tuesdays (25% off platters for 2 plus), and #WingWednesday (wherein 6 chicken wings come free with a main and drink), Bodean’s Old Street is an affordable option for those hungry mouths.

2. Homeslice Pizza (City & Shoreditch)

When is pizza not a good idea? With premises across London, but the City locales proper being as above, Homeslice is an easy winner for quietening the crescendoing rumbles of kiddies’ tummies after a long day traipsing around the capital. Even better, there are decidedly adult taste bud options too (think “Kimchi, Porcini Cream & Basil” or “Spiced Lamb, Savoy Cabbage & Sumac Yogurt”). Yum.

3. Mangio (Knightrider Street)

Again possibly one of the staple foodstuffs of childhood, pasta is what you’ll find plenty of at Mangio. But this is homemade pasta, this is real pasta, and even the burgeoning palates of youngsters will appreciate the difference. With two options of filled pasta and three options of sauce, the seasonally decided menu may seem slightly limited, but it’s really not. They also offer salads and paninis, as well.

4. Jane Roe Kitchen (Old Street)

With all meat sourced from Smithfield Market and all pizza dough left to sit the proper 48 hours before culinary deployment, JRk provides a surprisingly broad menu based on two dishes: burgers and pizzas. With veggie options in the form of the Middle East Burger (think falafel) and Halloumi Burger, as well as Funghi, Tom and Cherry (get it?), and tried-and-tested and well-loved Margherita pizzas, you don’t have to feel too guilty either about animal-loving family members or the environment in general really. Delicious.

5. La Tasca (Broadgate)

The heat of summer always brings to mind Mediterranean images and dreams of a lifestyle on the coast replete with seafood – and perhaps sangria (just for the grown-ups, mind). To this end, tapas restaurant La Tasca in Broadgate is the right establishment to sojourn in of a summer’s lunch hour. A decadent appetisers menu boasts Garbanzo Hummus, Cheesy Garlic Bread, and Salt & Pepper Marcona Almonds, while the devilishly hot Gambas de Diablo, smoky Guiso de Pollo, and Beef Empanadas of the tapas menu proper entice quite the mouth-watering effect. There is also a paella menu and larger mains for more ravenous appetites. In short, everyone is happy.

Top Al Fresco Dining in the City this Summer

Nicole R.Nolan

It’s all good and well doing as the masses do when the mercury rises, heading to the nearest green and breezily aired open space (having obtained your repast to share with either colleagues or friends – or both – from the local M&S), but sometimes dining al fresco calls for a little more luxury than a flung down piece of clothing or blanket (for the better prepared, and probably more grass-stain averse). To this end, One City had a think and we’ve come up with the following fab spots to dine out of doors this summer, no picnic hampers or haphazard shopping bags involved. You’re welcome.

1. Yauatcha City (Moorgate)

Part of the Broadgate Circle development, the renowned dim sum house and Chinese restaurant originally based in Soho has branched out here, offering expectedly delicious delights en plein air at either end of its dominion over the entire second floor. These summer terraces are heated (should the unusually warm weather suddenly revert to the British rain-speckled norm) and at the moment Yauatcha (all branches) has a Summer Collection of patisseries on offer, due to the glut of fruit from the high heat. Think “Flower Daisy” almond sponge in miniature and “Strawberries and Cream” on a Thai basil cheesecake mousse (that is, of course, after the savoury wonders of the main menu). Enjoy.

2. Rochelle Canteen (Shoreditch)

This area of Shoreditch being what it is, Rochelle Canteen is the outdoor space for the local creatives. Run by Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson, the canteen is within the old Rochelle School, by Arnold Circus. The food is pretty old school, too, but oh-so-mouth-watering: “Lobster, Chips & Bearnaise” or “Sirloin, Horseradish & Watercress”, for example. Unfortunately, they don’t take bookings for outside seating due to the fluidity of the skies, but brunch and lunch are available from Monday to Sunday, and from Thursday to Saturday supper is available also (between 6pm and 9pm).

3. Angler (Moorgate)

The fine dining restaurant on the sixth floor of the South Place Hotel on Liverpool Street (not the more canteen style eatery on the ground floor), Angler is a restaurant that likes to deconstruct its dishes (some might say a little too far, but opinion is a fickle, subjective creature). Michelin-starred, it boasts a rooftop terrace that cannot be pre-booked out beyond the reach of mere mortals (so, all good). It doesn’t matter if the rain returns either, as there’s a retractable roof and heating to boot. Furthermore, “high summer” promises live DJs as well. Now, that’s a yummy buzz.

4. Dishoom (Shoreditch)

The Shoreditch branch of Dishoom is all about the verandah [sic.] (no terraces for this Indian restaurant). Indeed, Dishoom likes to revel in the play of light and shadow on its antique and apt furniture, drawing a clientele who find satisfaction in both a spicy delicacy and an ice cool drink out of doors. Old Jazz and possibly equally old books surround diners in a cloud (replete with sandalwood incense) of the essence of Bombay of yore in, yet but in a small section of Shoreditch. Definitely a sensual choice for a lazily long luncheoning into the afternoon this summer.

12 Facts on Bank, London’s Most Infamous Tube Station

Eva

Those working in the City will know all too well that commuting to and from Bank Station is not exactly fun. So many exits, no main entrance, and somehow you always find yourself ending up at its interlinked station Monument – miles from where you need to be. Let’s just say there are reasons Bank has repeatedly been voted the most hated station amongst Londoners, but what else can be said about London’s largest concrete maze? Let’s check out 15 random facts on Bank.

Bank station

1. Are you taking the wrong exit every single time you visit this enormous station? We’re not surprised: with no less than 12, Bank counts more exits than any other London station.

2. Another reason to get lost at Bank is the station’s DLR concourse, which, with a whopping 41.4 meters underground, is the city’s deepest station below street level.

3. And what about all the steps? 128 to be precise. And that’s without counting the silly amount of escalators: 15.

4. Just to illustrate its gigantic size: Bank owns not one, but two moving walkways (you know, those things you only really see on airports?). The only other station owning these is Waterloo.

5. Another way to envision its immensity: together with interlinked station Monument, Bank forms a public transport complex that takes up the entire length of King William Street.

6. Just like Regent’s Park, Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner, Bank Station doesn’t have any entrance buildings above the ground, making it incredibly hard to find its main entrance (there isn’t one).

7. While only 45% of the overall tube network is actually tunnel based, the City runs few overground trains: the longest continuous tunnel is the Northern line running from East Finchley to Morden (17.3 miles in total!).

8. Although last estimated in 2010, on average, Bank is used by 298,335 people every single day. In case you’re having trouble visualizing this shocking number: that is three times the capacity of Wembley Stadium.

9. The main reason for it being voted the worst tube station in London is overcrowding, which also explains why the spacious Canary Wharf is often named as a favourite.

10. During the Blitz in 1941, a bomb hit Bank station, killing an estimate of 51 people. It also left a huge crater outside the Bank of England.

11. Ever noticed Sarah Whitehead on your morning commute? This sinister spirit dressed in black also called ‘the Black Nun’ is said to have haunted Bank for many years. Since 1811, to be exact, which is when her brother Paul was charged with and executed for forgery.

12. Bank junction is a very popular starting and/or ending place for walking tours in the City. Both the Haunted Tour and London Postal History tour start here, while the Harry Potter tour ends here (and starts at Westminster tube station). Want more inspiration for walking tours in the City? Check out our article here.

Immerse Yourself in a Dead Man’s Hand Saturday this Summer

Nicole R.Nolan

When something sells out months in advance, you know you’re onto a winner. And with only places for 18th and 25th August left, the Dead Man’s Hand immersive event at Grand Union Farringdon is the event to opt into right now. It might be slightly further afield than the immediate bounds of the City, but this is a London event not to be missed. As the promotional premise reads:

“Jack Spade thought he had been dealt the right cards, but reckless gambling seems to have cost him his life. All those who sat around the poker table that night have something to hide, but can your party work out which card shark was responsible for his murder? If you’re ready to go all-in, then the nearby streets hold the clues and characters, but you’ll need all your cunning, and maybe a favour or two from Lady Luck, to catch the killer.”

Designed by A Door in A Wall, their other mystery game (the Cold War event Dead Drop) also quickly sold out, so they’re certainly onto something, it could be said… Indeed, the Dead Man’s Hand “real world adventure” is just the (hot) ticket for doing something a bit different during the long summer ahead.

In fact, it’s a remastering of the 2013 event of same appellation, in which over 1000 people took part (1000 people! And some might even be tempted to return this year…). That said, who could blame them, when you have the following marketing promises to tantalise?

“The game combines the best elements of immersive theatre, escape rooms, treasure hunts, storytelling and comedy, to create a unique immersive experience packed with mystery and puns.”

Having been running since 26th May this year, Grand Union Farringdon has played “host to illicit gambling den The Underhand Club, the starting point for a high-stakes tale of double-dealing poker players and bets gone bad”. The idea is for participants to “work in teams to collect clues, meet characters and gather evidence in the great outdoors to get what they need to solve the case and save the club”. Not your run-of-the-mill Saturday afternoon, eh?


This is an over 18s only event due to the venue, and adult humour and language within the game. Each member of the team (ranging in size from couples, to three to six people, and more) needs their own tickets, which must (obviously, given its sell out nature) be purchased in advance (at £32.50). Think long and hard about your team name, too, as a prize will be given for the best one (in addition to the overall winners of the game).

The event opens doors at 1pm sharp (running until 5.30pm). The first 45 minutes will be for settling in and Grand Union will have operational their bar and kitchen service at the beginning and at the end of the day’s game.

Don’t forget to take your Smartphone (fully charged), and perhaps a pen and paper, for getting about and jotting down clues. That be what Dead Man’s Hand is all about, after all…