Twenty-First Century Festibowl Fun in Finsbury Square

Nicole R.Nolan

Take a quintessentially British sport, add some summer days replete with sunshine and an aerial canopy awash in cerulean blue, then focus on the location of Finsbury Square and you’ve got yourself Festibowl 2018. Running from Friday 6th July until Friday 3rd August (and the day already sold out), for one month you can consider yourself delightfully old fashioned in the City and become quite the dab hand at a (less than) quaint game of bowls.

Traditionally played in white garb (somewhat like tennis, if you’re a Wimbledon fan; though white gloves also make an appearance), there are around 500,000 bowlers in the UK. That’s a popular sport, no doubt aided in part by its concomitant pint from a pub, said drink taken in hand onto the flat green. And not all pub culture-enthusiast bowlers are of retirement age.

“We set up with a mission to lower the average age of lawn bowls from over 70 to under 40 and after three years we’ve managed to get to an average of 69 so we’re pretty happy about that.”

Very funny. Jokes aside, though, even those in their twenties and thirties are getting in on the bowls scene now. Furthermore, Shoreditch being Shoreditch, Festibowl does away with some of the older style genteelness and adds a modern day touch with DJs and cocktails (and, of course, food, provided by Truffle London and Chalana Market). Think “The Spicy Back Bowl” and “Crack a Jack” mixes to sip on, or bubbles if you prefer; and certainly don’t think vegan and tee-total.

Despite these modernisations, however, Festibowl stays true to bowls’ traditional British style and lends itself as the perfect wind down ending to an office-stuck manically pressured day. Hence the many still-suited individuals you might come across there (and decided lack of white clothing). As The Telegraph writes:

“Lawn bowls may seem as Rock’n’Roll as Coldplay and quinoa – but the public’s perception of this emblematic British game may soon change.”

If anyone’s going to change it, it’s Festibowl. The event runs from noon until 11pm each day, with private bookings on from 2pm until late and public team bookings from 6pm. Tickets cost £15 per person. A private rink can also be hired for £120 for 8 people and for this some Thursday slots are available, too. Tickets can be purchased on the day, but only before 1pm. Therefore, it might be wise to get online and get clicking now…

Happy bowling! #keeponthegrass


Perfect Liars Club London: At The Book Club This July

Nicole R.Nolan

It’s the global phenomenon that’s hit destinations as diverse as Tel Aviv, Washington DC, and even Tokyo, and now the spectacular “sleuthing show” known as Perfect Liars Club is set to land in Shoreditch. If you like these long summer days we’re having capped off with a touch of comedy and intrigue thrown in (and a fabulous cocktail in hand perhaps as well), then this is the London event for you.

On Tuesday 10th July, between the hours of 7.30pm and 9.30pm, The Book Club – that two-floor spacious Victorian Warehouse known for its offerings of “cultural revolution” in a keen-eye-for-design social scene – will be taken over, and the evening’s audience members overcome with delight. For during the evening they will be testing their mental faculties in a challenge of shrewdness in order to catch the liar amongst the performers.

As reviews declare, “With everyone from ambassadors to astrophysicists; theatre directors to accountants, you can only be sure of one thing: it’s going to be hilarious.” You don’t have to be anyone special: if you have an utterly amazing (read: unbelievable) story, then you’re in.

The premise is as follows: four people, four humorous tales of “something unexpected, unbelievable, or just plain ridiculous that (allegedly) happened to them.” Three of them are as honest as the day is long, but the fourth is entirely mendacious. By posing questions to the group of raconteurs, the mission is to uncover the liar.

The brainchild of Brits Layla McCay (Artistic Director) and Roz Campion, they wanted to make their mark on the “growing indie spoken word scene” in Washington DC back in 2013 and were – surprise, surprise – big fans of shows such as Would I Lie To You. Since then, the Perfect Liars Club has been a monthly event, with McCay and Campion returning to the UK to run the London side of things, leaving Washington DC in the hands of Pierce McManus and Cara Foran.

Deemed “wonderfully mischievous” and “intellectually stimulating”, tickets should most definitely be booked in advance (sometimes those priceless billets sell out in as little as two minutes!). At only £8 per person, this is an affordable romp of a night most certainly not to be missed.

So, see whether the wool can be pulled over your eyes and head along to the eastern bounds of the City for a Perfect Liars kind of evening at The Book Club – a venue well-known for its “thought-provoking programme” of events – on Tuesday 10th July.

“Listen. Laugh. Interrogate. Vote.” Over 18s only.


Grab a Brew at City Beerfest 2018

Nicole R.Nolan

The sun is shining and the livin’ is easy, as Gershwin wrote. Summer is officially here and the British people are basking in some overdue rays as only those used too long to rain and cold can and are want to do. To this end, why not extend the seasonal enjoyment to sipping on a tipple divergent from the favoured wine of even sunnier climes (think grapes of Spain; grapes of Italy)? Instead, head to the Guildhall Yard and revel by grace of hops at the 2018 City Beerfest.

On Thursday 5 July, from 12.30pm until 9pm, this all-day beer and music festival takes over the heart of the City of London, sixteen of the country’s top breweries coming together in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Brewers to offer their particular and well-loved brewed beverages, supported by street food stallholders too. From Budweiser Budvar and Fuller, Smith & Turner, to McMullen & Sons and Theakston, the City Beerfest is where it most certainly is at that day..

Run by the City of London Corporation, Beerfest was originally launched in 2013. This year, music is provided by female artists at the City Music Foundation, in celebration of the City of London’s Women: Work and Power programme of events. These musical acts include the Rosie Turton Quintet (blending trombone, violin, and electronics over background grooves and soundscapes, inspired in particular by Jazz, hip-hop, and Indian Classical music influences), together with Trinity Conservatoire graduate saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael’s (Charles) Mingus Project, and Balkan music octet Baltika and the Gorodi/Braysher Quartet.

Besides such aural delights, drinking on an empty stomach is always a no-no (especially when blended with the heat of the summer sun) and so the street food stallholders once again shall be stepping up to the plate (pardon the pun) to keep festival goers sated with alimentation as well as bibation. Get Wurst offers some German bratwurst and currywurst (as well – amazingly, but quite rightly – Vegan options too), and the likes of Souvlaki Street offer some global delicious delights.

Entry itself to the event is free. However, if you want to skip the queues (and, believe us, there will be queues), then purchase tokens for glasses and beer online beforehand. Tickets range in price, dependent upon how many you’re buying for. An Individual Entry Package will set you back £12 (4 beer tokens, i.e. half pints, and a commemorative City Beerfest glass), after which there are available five, ten, twenty-five, fifty, and one hundred-person packages at incremental prices (up to £1000 for the latter). Further four beer token add-ons cost £8 online (or £10 on the day) and extra special edition glasses £4 online (or £5 on the day).

Strictly over-18s only, there is a Challenge 25 policy in place, so be sure to take your ID with you or, ticket or no ticket, you will not be allowed in.

All profits will be donated to the City Music Foundation and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal 2018.

RooFIT Summer Series – City Fitness in Triple Aspect

Nicole R.Nolan

The first of the summer’s heat waves is here and – in the pursuit of that yearly-yearned for seasonal honed bod – what worse a thought than getting sweaty in a stuffy gym? The stuff of nightmares. Even private Central London members’ club BXR – a top-end Marylebone boxing club with a champion-making oriented mindset – realises this.

Instead, think outside the box (certainly outside the building) and head to the roof this July. BXR is taking part in the RooFIT Summer Series that has been taking place at the Aviary Hotel since June (beginning with TriYoga), offering rooftop morning training sessions en plein air.

This month, on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th July (as well as 26th & 27th July), there is a veritable BXR Takeover at the ten-storey Aviary, classes running from 7.30am until 8.15am. And to discuss BXR means to discuss SWEAT. A highly athletic style of training, the classes focus on “strength and conditioning, skills, cardio and mobility.” The music will be high-energy and the movements incorporated from boxing, ab drills, and other bodyweight exercises. Step away from the spinning class and head to the City heights to get your gloves on and your aggression out.

Tickets can be purchased Early Bird at a very reasonable £15 (or £25 on the day) and both are inclusive of an optional 50% off an Aviary breakfast afterwards (though this must be booked in advance), together with the use of the showers in the hotel spa. There is also included a PRESS juice and a “goodie bag” promoting sponsoring brands’ involvement. Sounds okay to us!

In addition enjoy a pre-workout, sunny early morning walk to the renowned Aviary Hotel, but minimal steps from both Old Street and Moorgate stations and situated within Finsbury Square. Winner of a Certificate of Excellence this year, the breakfast menu suits most appetites: a Soft White Herb Omelette for instance, Avocado on Toast with Smoked Bacon and Chilli, or a very restrained Coconut and Goji Berry Bar perhaps… There really is something for a range of tastebuds and dietary needs. And hunger levels will be peaking after a BXR session. Caffeine, too, comes in a decadent range of coffee, black, green, and even white tea forms.

If, however, boxing and its relevant training isn’t your thing, then former Royal Ballet dancer Karis Scarlette’s En Avant Ballet is replacing BXR next month with a series of posture and flexibility classes for adults. So en pointe; we know where we’ll be in August…

Spotting History in the City of London


Although its many skyscrapers make it hard to believe, the City is actually London’s oldest hub. Dating from around 47 AD no less, it was this part of our capital which was used as a trading port during the Roman occupation. Fast forward circa 1700 years, by the late 16th Century the City slowly started to become the centre for banking that it still is today.

So why is its ancient history so hard to find? That’ll be because it was almost entirely destroyed not once, but twice: in the Great Fire in 1666 and during the Blitz from 1940 to 1941. That said, there are still some absolute gems that have stood the test of time. You just have to know where to look for them.

Billingsgate Bathhouse

1. Roman House at Billingsgate

Starting with one of the oldest remains, tucked away under an office block on Lower Thames St sits an ancient Roman bathhouse that is surprisingly well preserved. You can now explore this bit of history either by yourself or in a group with the official Museum of London tour. During this 45-minute window, the exposed ruins will be complemented with the tour guide’s interesting insights and details, including a model of what the bathhouse would have looked like in full: a must for fans of ancient Rome.

mice sculpture

2. Mice Sculpture at Philpot Lane

Even if you’ve walked up and down this street a million times, chances are you’ve never seen the tiny sculpture hidden on the front wall of house number 11. Often referred to as London’s smallest public statue, the two mice fighting for a piece of cheese are easy to miss. The statue dates back to 1862, the year of the building’s construction. Word has it that two workingmen were engaged in a fight over one’s stolen sandwich, during which one of them tragically fell to his death. All the while it was most likely a cheeky rodent who was to blame for this theft.

Newgate prison wall

3. Newgate Prison Wall

Newgate Prison opened in 1188 as requested by Henry II, and remained one of London’s most notorious prisons for over 700 years before it finally closed its gates in 1902. During all those years it was a place known for its horrible conditions, both in terms of hygiene and inmate treatment. Although the prison was destroyed shortly after it closed, around the back of Amen Court near St. Paul’s, one of its main walls is still standing strong.

Londons first drinking fountain

4. London’s first drinking fountain

Once upon a time, London’s drinking water was so filthy that beer was often used as a healthier alternative. Caused by the rapidly growing population and lack of management, these appalling water conditions ended up being the main cause of the numerous cholera outbreaks in the early 19th Century. Drinking fountains were the city’s first attempt to improving the bad water system, with the one integrated within the railings of St-Sepulchre-without-Newgate church being the very first one.