Veganuary at Home (with Help from the City)

Nicola Sheppey

Bored of cooking the same plant-based dishes at home this Veganuary? Let the City take the pressure off and have delicious meals delivered straight to your door. Below are four of our favourites sending you innovative and classic vegan dishes – you might just find you’ll stay a vegan for February (and beyond).


Ex Som-Saa chef Andy Hogben looks at international cuisine to get inspiration for the fantastic variety of flavours he includes in his small but beautifully curated vegan menu at Alter. In January you can order the Izakaya Feast off Dishpatch – delivered on a Friday with a variety of dishes to enjoy throughout the weekend. Click here to order.


You might not think of pizza being the most vegan-friendly food option this month, but you’d be wrong – cult favourite Homeslice have got some fantastic vegan selections on the menu. We recommend the vegan ‘Ndontja’ (pictured) – a delicious combo of vegan ‘nduja flavouring, tenderstem broccoli, vegan mozzarella and chilli oil. Click here to order.

Clean Hearts Cafe

Clean Hearts Cafe specialises in healthy and delicious foods that, well, keep your heart clean – so you already know that they have a fantastic vegan selection on the menu. Treat yourself to breakfasts, sandwiches, quiches and even vegan milkshakes – you might find yourself ordering two meals a day. Click here to order.

Emilia’s Pasta

The Aldgate venue for our favourite pasta eatery has closed its doors, but the St Katharine’s Docks branch is still delivering to anyone in the area. Enjoy a variety of vegan variations on their classic, perfected menu of traditional Italian pasta. Veganuary just got that little bit more indulgent. Click here to order.

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A day in the Eastern City with a City Gift Card

Nicola Sheppey

After our Aldgate itinerary, we’re now sharing some of our favourite spots to spend your City Gift Card in the Eastern City – valid for long after we’re allowed back on the streets. Ready for another fab day out?

1 . Get in an early morning workout at Boom Cycle

Start your day right at spinning studio Boom Cycle – the ultimate party on a bike. Set your pace, work hard and more importantly have fun at Boom, with a studio just around the corner from Monument Station.

Find it: 8 Lombard Court | click here to book

2 . Have breakfast at the Lampery

You’ve earned it. Make a morning meeting more exciting over a light and fresh continental selection at the Lampery – or some good old American pancakes, obvs. There’s plenty of delicious brekkie options to indulge in at the Apex Hotel’s in-house restaurant.

Find it: Apex City of London Hotel, 1 Seething Lane | click here to book

3 . Treat yourself at Chequers Hair and Beauty

Take a break from the office and get party ready* at Chequers Hair and Beauty (*yep, it counts if it’s on Zoom). Book into the salon situated in the scenic Leadenhall Market and choose from a wide range of treatments and offers – for those days when bodmin is just as important as admin.

Find it: 53-54 Leadenhall Market | click here to book

4 . Grab an afternoon drink (and a Scotch egg) at the Lamb Tavern

We don’t know about you but we’ve been really craving Scotch eggs lately … good thing the best snacks (/substantial meals) of the City are right in the Market. Grab a drink and a bite to eat from the Lamb Tavern and spend more time in the beautiful setting of Leadenhall Market – win win.

Find it: 10-12 Leadenhall Market | click here to book

5 . Have dinner at Blacklock City

The basement steakhouse is waiting for you. The team behind Blacklock are committed to sourcing the best homegrown meat and, most importantly, serving it up at great value – think delicious cuts for under £20 and cocktails for a fiver. Surely the best way to finish a hardworking day.

Find it: 13 Philpot Lane | click here to book

Support City businesses by purchasing a City Gift Card here – launched by the City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) & Partnerships with the City of London Corporation. You can also find out where you can spend it on the website, with more businesses being added by the day.

Follow the Eastern City (EC) Partnership on Instagram here.

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A day in Aldgate with a City Gift Card

Nicola Sheppey

Ready to sign up for a City Gift Card? You’ll be amazed at what you can spend it on around a working day in the City. In a series of blog posts, we’ll be looking at how and where you can spend your pre-loaded points in the different areas of the City – kicking off with Aldgate. Explore the area, treat yourself and support local businesses at the same time, all in one day. What’s not to like?

1 . Grab breakfast and check your emails at Benk + Bo

Trendy co-working space Benk + Bo has sustainability at the heart of what it provides: a relaxed space to spend time in with a vegetarian cafe in-house. Book in for a day or half-day, bring your laptop and enjoy a naturally-lit area with plenty of leafy plants, creating a mindful space you won’t want to leave (aided by plenty of fresh coffee, obvs). Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events, workshops and brunch clubs, too.

Note: Benk + Bo is currently closed and will reopen in January 2021; in the meantime, explore Benk + Bodega, their online shop with gift bundles, vintage homeware and more up for grabs.

Find it: 4 Gravel Lane | click here to learn more

2 . Go for a treatment at Body Essential

If 2020 has earned you anything, it’s a little self care. Treat yourself to hair treatments, Hot Stone massages, nails and much more at Body Essential, right around the corner. The haircare and beauty experts will have you spruced up and relaxed for the festive season – and beyond.

Find it: 8 Harrow Place | click here to book

3 . Grab a coffee at Shaman

Time to head back to work? You’ll need an excellent coffee for that. Skip the chains and head to Shaman for some of the best hot drinks in the City, plus artisanal pastries, sandwiches and salads, bringing ethically sourced and expertly brewed coffee into your afternoon.

Find it: 15 Leman Street (within Leman Locke Hotel) | click here to learn more

4 . Have dinner at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

Catch up with your loved ones over a plate of the best pasta this side of Italy. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta serves up recognisable, traditional recipes really, really well. From a 4 hour slow-cooked béchamel bolognese to a basil and pistachio pesto, this is cooking that an Italian grandmother would be proud of.

Find it: 77 Alie Street | click here to book

5 . See off the night at novelty bingo hall Dabbers

Move over karaoke and pub quizzes: novelty bingo is THE new nighttime activity to try out. Good thing one of the best is right on your doorstep – Dabbers puts a modern twist on the classic game with music, comedians, original prizes and hilarious hosts. It’s open up for Covid-secure events, so book in with your bubble or household for a night to remember.

Find it: 18-22 Houndsditch | click here to book

Support City businesses by purchasing a City Gift Card here – launched by the City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) & Partnerships with the City of London Corporation. You can also find out where you can spend it on the website, with more businesses being added by the day.

Follow the Aldgate Connect BID on Instagram here.

For more updates on what’s happening in the City, sign up for our newsletter here!

PLAY: Performances in the City

Nicola Sheppey

Today Brookfield Properties, Culture Mile and the London Symphony Orchestra have released PLAY, two spectacular short films celebrating the creative energy of the City. In a time when fewer of us are able to wander the streets, let alone come together and perform, these moving and experimental pieces of music and dance show the cultural energy that Londoners have against the stunning backdrops of the City.


Filmed at 100 Bishopsgate and Citypoint, Rising explores our longing for human connection alongside our relationship with space during a locked-down world. We find new ways to connect when the old ways are challenged. We adapt and reconsider our surroundings, forming new bonds with them. When the violinist picks up her instrument, she plays as if she were on a stage. The dancer responds to the music through the rhythm of her body. At the heart of it all lies the value of art. It connects people and communities and makes the seemingly impossible possible once again.

“I was interested in exploring our longing to connect with other human beings, even when that’s practically impossible because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,” says Director Antonia Luxem. I’m fascinated by humans as a highly adaptable species that keeps finding new ways to connect when the old ways become obsolete.”

“The location, atop a skyscraper overlooking all of London, made me feel like I was reaching out to [artists],” says Composer Darren Bloom, “expressing both our shared feelings, as well as my personal hopefulness that there is light at the end of this tunnel and that soon we will once again find ourselves stirred by the great artists that currently lie dormant and muted in this great city.”

Creative Team: Maxine Kwok (Musician), Marie Astrid Mence (Dancer), Darren Bloom (Composer), Antonia Luxem (Director & Editor)

The Spell & the Promise

Filmed at London Wall Place, The Spell & the Promise plays like a contemporary fairytale, where the flute casts its spell and leads us on a journey. The title of the film reflects the music in two parts: the slow, mysterious hypnotic sounds of the bass flute before giving way to the more hopeful and evocative sounds of the classic concert flute. The dancers respond to the melodies and the cycles of the loop pedal as they flow outwards into the City.

“We get to dip in and out of the real world and something that is more beautiful and expressionistic, like a contemporary fairytale,” says Director & Producer Lexi Kiddo.

“The space and architecture of London Wall Place had a big impact on the music,” says Composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman. “Being emptier than usual, the space had a beautiful resonance to it, and we wanted to take advantage of that. The exposed, angular lines against the softness of water, light and Roman wall felt very powerful to me. I wanted the music to allow audiences to take stock, reflect and celebrate the lifeblood of the area.”

Creative Team: Gareth Davies (Musician), Faye Stoeser (Dancer), Salomé Pressac (Dancer), Jasmin Kent Rodgman (Composer), Lexi Kiddo (Director & Producer), Harry Price (Choreographer).

The PLAY films have been commissioned in anticipation of the PLAY Festival, which will take place in May 2021 in a specially designed pavilion at London Wall Place – bringing live music back to the City. “The creative talent of the musicians, dancers, composers and film artists involved illustrates the versatility and resilience of the arts in the City at this time,” says Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra.

You can also enjoy PLAY as part of Brookfield Properties’ light festival IlluminoCity; scan QR codes featured on the trail of light installations at Citypoint and London Wall Place and see the performances brought to life. Click here to learn more about PLAY.

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One City Stories: Freddie Readhead, Instructor at Barry’s St Paul’s

Nicola Sheppey

This year, health has been a bigger priority than ever before for many of us – so we were chuffed to see Barry’s opening its newest St Paul’s branch on Gutter Lane. You may not be able to get into the Red Room for now, but Barry’s at Home is still offering up world-class workouts to enjoy from home, keeping you strong and healthy in these uncertain times. We caught up over Zoom with the charismatic and enthusiastic Freddie, former actor and Instructor at Barry’s St Paul’s, to find out how fitness has changed his life – and why Barry’s is the place to be.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got to Barry’s.

Freddie: I was always a very sporty kid – I actually wanted to be a professional rugby player at first, but injuries put me off that path. My family are lawyers and I went to university to study politics, thinking I’d also go on the straight and narrow – but the one thing I was always drawn to was acting. I’d read the autobiographies of heroes of mine like Brando and James Dean – so after uni I went to New York to study acting, and spent six or seven years in New York and LA working as an actor.

This all came with a certain lifestyle – I was drinking a lot and had some unhealthy behaviours, and I started to resent certain aspects of my life in LA. I started to go to Barry’s LA and Soul Cycle and really enjoyed it, and when I came back to London my ex-girlfriend at the time told me Barry’s in London was really legit. I went to some classes and I remember thinking – this isn’t your stereotypical, Mr Motivator aerobics class. This is something amazing. There was a team culture that I recognised back from the rugby days – I was competing with other people in the room and I didn’t want to let them down. I was feeding off their energy. I remember thinking, this is my frequency.

I decided I wanted to become a trainer and class instructor, but Barry’s felt like something I’d need to work towards – it was the Real Madrid of fitness! So I started working at smaller gyms and committed myself to learning as much as possible. I was a spin instructor for a year, but it wasn’t really my style, and eventually I thought about the road map to Barry’s. I started plotting my course, thinking about what experience and qualifications I needed, and who to get in contact with. I always had my eyes at the top – and most importantly, I loved it. It wasn’t about the prestige, it was about the experience. I found my way into a training week, and eventually made it through the selection process and now I’ve been a trainer there for two and a half years.

It’s been a varied journey, not your typical start to finish experience! I was working hard as an actor without focusing on my health for a long time, but I shifted. Acting is very up-and-down as a career but fitness always kept me grounded and centred. I’m working a lot at Barry’s now and I absolutely love it.

How challenging was that transition from acting to fitness?

Culturally they’re very different. In the acting world, you might work hard and audition for a part and really know your craft but you won’t be chosen because of something completely outside of your control – not having the specific look they’re after, or not having the right visa. Fitness on the other hand is an honest reflection – the harder you work, the better you do.

I’ve always been a hard worker and a really focused person, so seeing that direct correlation between how hard you work and the outcome is really satisfying. Compare that to acting – ‘sorry, you haven’t been chosen because you’re too tall or too short’ – that sort of thing just constantly pushed me down. Fitness is so much more motivating.

What do you hope people get from your classes at Barry’s?

I take my role very seriously – I’m very aware that people sacrifice a huge amount of time and money to be in the class, so I want to maximise that sacrifice. I’ll never pressure anyone to do more reps or lift the heaviest weight in the room, but I’m more than happy to say, I don’t think you’re giving this 100% effort right now and I believe you can go further. I want people to come in thinking, this could be my last class and my last chance to work hard at this – which of course feels more realistic than ever at the moment!

Tell us a day in your life (pre-pandemic!)

I’m an early riser, and I’ll normally teach classes at 6 and 7am, so by the time it’s 8am I’ve done some work and my day really begins. I find a good local coffee shop – if I’m teaching at St Paul’s I go to Black Sheep around the corner – and plan my day. There are three non-negotiables, three things I always have to do. The first is five lessons of Duolingo French. I never miss a day, no matter if I’m hungover or if it’s Christmas or my birthday – I’m on something like a 950 day streak now. My goal is to get so good at French that I can go to Barry’s in Paris and be able to teach a class. I’d love to be there for a weekend and cover a class, which is another beauty of Barry’s being this global company. The second non-negotiable is an expert sudoku – I’m getting pretty good! – and then a 10-minute meditation. After that, I’m free to do what I like, which knowing me is usually checking the sport results and reading sports news.

I spend the late morning and early afternoon working, then between 2 and 5 I do my own training. Before lockdown my friends and I were planning to tag-team swimming the channel so I was spending hours in the pool training hard. In the evening I’ll teach some classes again; my day is book-ended with work, it’s pretty unusual compared to the 9 to 5 lifestyle. Then I’ll go home, watch a game and chill out, and crash early. I like being busy, I like working and feeling productive; I hate feeling lazy. Even when I’m travelling to and fro, I’ll think about how to use that time productively.

What’s the best thing about working and training at Barry’s?

Our clients are incredibly disciplined and hard-working. The one collective thing about people who train at Barry’s are just a group of really cool people from all walks of life, they’re the type of people I’m really passionate about training: lovely people who I consider friends. The company and the staff as well – I had no idea about the culture but the way Barry’s opens other doors and the way the staff support each other is great; we’re such an eclectic group of people who have come at it from all walks of life and all sorts of different angles. 

I enjoy staying at work, it’s never a chore spending time with all these people. Obviously it’s been difficult during lockdown because that sense of culture and community has gone, but it’ll come back – I’m confident of that.

What advice would you give someone to lead a healthy and more active lifestyle?

The way I think about it for myself is that if the aliens invade, I want to be the last man standing. So that means I need to be able to run well, swim well, fight well, be able to jump and avoid obstacles… I want to be an all-rounder. Before lockdown I’d vary all the exercise I did to make that a goal. But I appreciate people want to find little ways of getting fitness into their lives, particularly during lockdown.

I always tell people they don’t need 15kg dumbbells and a bench at home – they just need to be creative about how they exercise. So it might be that when you go into a room, you do 15 press-ups. When you put the kettle on, you do squats until the kettle’s boiled. When you’ve got something in the microwave, hold a plank until the timer goes off. Find ways throughout the day to incorporate different types of physical exercise – it doesn’t just have to be 45 minutes of an intense class. As long as you’re moving, there’s no right or wrong. I make my mum do this!

Barry’s at Home is so easy – you just click a button and I’m there telling you how best to exercise. All you need is yourself and 2m of space around you. If motivation is the issue, and I appreciate it has been during the anxieties of a pandemic, start small and build up. Start with that kettle.

What’s your favourite kind of exercise to do?

If someone told me I could only do one exercise for the rest of my life, it would be running. You don’t need anything, just your shoes and yourself, and you can run anywhere in the world. It’s a great way to explore a new city. Also, my job involves spending time inside in loud, dark rooms, so running around a park or a lake is really refreshing.

I always think practically about exercise – I’m not a fan of doing bicep curls for bicep curls’ sake. I try to think creatively – if you’re doing a lifting action, you might compare it to lifting a child off the floor, and then it’s about doing that safely, so you can see some value in it. I’m not into the idea of training just to look good. Barry’s is like a game – you’re constantly upgrading and competing with yourself, seeing your improvement as time goes on. I think the running at Barry’s in conjunction with the weights is what makes it the 360 fitness experience, and that’s what I love about it – I know I can work hard and go into a Barry’s studio and come out knowing I’ve done a full range of motion and covered so much in one class.

What are your favourite spots in London?

I love museums, and I always go to the Tate Modern. I’m not a huge art buff, but I love the energy in there, people taking their time. The thing to remember is that I essentially work in a nightclub – sure, with no alcohol and it’s very healthy – but it’s dark and loud and there’s a lot of energy, and I’m yelling over loud music. Museums, galleries and parks are the total opposite – places to zone out and spend some time focusing on myself.

What advice would you give to someone going into a similar career?

Don’t hone in one type of training initially. All my experiences have shown me what fitness is as a whole as opposed to just knowing one type; don’t be too specific, try lots of different classes and experiment, try to work in as many different places as possible. Make yourself into a 360 trainer.

I was very fortunate to get the opportunity at Barry’s but it also came about because I was ambitious and I made a plan. I researched what Barry’s look for, just like any job interview. I knew I had to be the pinnacle of physical fitness, and I was tough on myself during training, I treated it like a selection for the SAS. Don’t come at this casually, be aggressive – this should mean more to you than anything else as you’re going to need to sacrifice a lot of free time and friendships at first, but once you’re in you’ve got so many more opportunities and it becomes a really manageable and exciting job.

The beautiful thing about Instagram as well is that someone can get hold of me tonight and say ‘hey, I read your One City interview, I’d love to know how to get into being a fitness trainer, do you have any advice?’ I’d 100% answer and think: this is the sort of person who should be working at Barry’s. I’d tell my manager to look out for them. They’ve shown they have ambition and drive. Be ready to work, and it’ll pay off – it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done and all those years ago when I left LA feeling a bit depressed I never thought I’d be here, loving what I do and raring to go to work at 5am.

Find Barry’s St Paul’s at 33 Gutter Lane, London EC2V 8AS; click here for more info and here to explore Barry’s at Home. Follow Freddie on Instagram @freddiereadhead.

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