I'm JaneB from London. I've been Qyping since 19-05-2009
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JaneB's Qype profile
Deptford High St, Deptford, London SE8 3DR
I only moved to Deptford a few months ago, but I’m already totally dependent on Deptford market for my daily dose of fresh fruit, vegetables, and a good old nosey at the weird and wonderful wares on offer (Victorian pram full of sinister dolls, anyone? How about some discount cosmetics? Maybe some gigantic live snails?). Whatever you’re after, chances are you’ll find it here, and although the quality definitely varies, there are some brilliant bargains to be had if you know where to look. From fresh cakes and pastries to clothes and bric-a-brac, take a wander down the high street and you’re bound to come away with a new acquisition or two.
7 Leicester Place, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7BP
Ever since I first moved to London a few years back, people have been raving to me about the Prince Charles. And they would always talk about it in hushed reverential tones. Almost as if it was the headquarters for some strange, sinister cult. And yes, finding somewhere only seconds away from Leicester Square where the staff are chatty and cheerful, the cinema tickets are cheap as chips and the beers will set you back only a couple of quid does sort of feel like a religious experience when you encounter it for the first time.
But then you trundle downstairs into the cinema itself, and find several hundred people caterwauling along to the expletive-laden classics from the soundtrack to the South Park film. Before the film’s even started. And even if (like me) you’ve never been here before, you’ll speedily realise that this could only happen somewhere like Prince Charles.
The events team here are brilliant. Warm, dedicated and innovative, and with a genuine love for cult classics like Wayne’s World, Empire Records, and the Rocky Horror Show, they run regular theme nights with plenty of audience participation, as well as all the current releases you’d expect from an indie cinema. I’m just cursing myself for taking so long to check it out.
1 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0DR
Now, I never got the chance for a snoop around Gosh in its original incarnation opposite the British Museum (for confused Qypers who’ve been reading the rave reviews below mentioning its previous location, it moved earlier this month to its new home in Soho), but my gloriously geeky beloved had waxed lyrical about it on many an occasion. So when I found myself pottering past the shiny new version of Gosh on Berwick Street, I had to have a look.
I’ll happily admit to knowing next to nothing about comics or graphic novels, but I was instantly won over by the picture of Calvin (of ‘and Hobbes’ fame) in the window. Once inside, it’s a two-floor treasure trove, currently showcasing an exhibition of artworks by renowned graphic novel artist Dave McKean.
They do regular signings and other similar shindigs too, and they’ve got such an epic selection of gorgeous books that there’s bound to be something for everyone – from curious first-timers in need of a gift to the hardcore comic buffs. I was especially taken with an illustrated edition of The Struwwelpeter stories, sinister German folk tales that I loved when I was younger, and which got me all nostalgic for times gone by!
16 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea SS9
I visited Leigh-on-Sea for the first time ever over the weekend, and the Strand Tea Rooms proved a useful hiding place when the so-called summer weather did its worst and rained off our amble along the front.
With shabby-chic décor consisting of plain whitewashed walls and shelves showcasing a hideous selection of kitsch bric-a-brac (prices starting from a mere 50p), this cute and cosy little café won’t be winning any style awards any time soon. But with mugs of tea for only £1 and service that’s cheerful, fast and friendly, it’s got all you need for an afternoon of nattering out of reach of the rain.
According to local legend, it’s apparently home to a friendly ghost too, but alas we didn’t spot any spooks. Or at least, not this time…
43 Greenwich Church Street, Greenwich , London SE10 9BL
Now that Greenwich is walking distance from where I live, I’ve been on the prowl for more eateries to investigate. And Bianco 43 is one I’ll definitely be returning to. I was here a few weeks ago before hitting the nearby Greenwich Picturehouse cinema, and I loved how small and sweet it is. With all the bleached wood, you feel like you’re hidden away in small place by a beach. I cased a few people heading upstairs, so it may well be bigger than I realise, but on the ground floor there’s only a handful of tables, making it ideal for an intimate, cosy catch-up.
The food is cheap, cheerful and delicious, especially considering the lack of other nearby options and Greenwich’s trend of overpricing everything. The portion sizes are huge, my baked gnocchi was heaven on a plate, and the courgette fries were delicious too. The booze could have been cheaper; a house red would have gone down well and probably kept us in there a lot longer. The profiteroles were on the disappointing side but that probably says more about the raptures I was in over my main course than anything else. Next time I reckon I’ll opt for the cannolo siciliano instead. And there will be a next time. You can count on it.
11-13 Frith Street, London W1D 4RB
When I used to work in Clapham, the Battersea Rise branch of Giraffe was a regular lunchtime haunt, especially after I first got my gob round one of their chicken and mango salads. Then we had a Qype shindig at the one in Spinningfields in Manchester, where I tried their burgers for the first time (anywhere that puts avocado and chorizo in their burgers will always be onto a winner with me). But although the swish new Soho branch has been open since June, until last night I hadn’t had a chance to investigate it.
With swish red decor and a gorgeous upstairs lounge which is the perfect place for people-watching on the busy Soho streets below, the Soho branch of Giraffe does a fine line in boozy cocktails and tasty bar snacks as well as main meals. The Red Room is usually only seen by private parties, but last night a team of intrepid Qypers monopolised it for an exclusive flatbread-making session, in which we got to learn all the secrets of the perfect flatbread, and try making our own. Although some of them ended up more like pizzas than flatbreads, they were all delicious, and a testament to the quality of the fresh ingredients involved. The staff were all warm and friendly too – a plus in somewhere as busy and usually brusque as Soho!
29 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY
I was here a couple of months ago for one of the infamous Belle Epoque parties, organised by the same people who coordinate the Blitz Party shindigs. Now, I’ve always loved the sound of these events, which combine crazy costumes with live cabaret, music, mayhem and dancing. But ever since the end of my burlesque days (and with it an all-too-thorough wardrobe clear-out), I’ve always been on the shy side about attending, assuming my frocks would not be flamboyant enough and that I might not be comfortable among the eccentrically-costumed clientele.
But I was wrong. In several years in London, I’ve never spent so much of my night gabbing away to gorgeous, sociable strangers. The crowd at the shindig I went to were warm and friendly, and wonderful dancers to boot. The absinthe cocktails were strong, the cabaret swoonsome (I wasn’t so struck on the burlesque striptease, but the aerial acrobatics had me amazed), and it was daylight before we were home. Always the sign of a good night…
514-518 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AR
Dalston may not be my usual stomping ground, but after visiting Oxfam Dalston for the first time to host a special Oxfam Bookfest edition of the For Books’ Sake pub quiz, I know I’ll be back for a proper rummage next time I’m in the area.
Having briefly cased out the long line of bookcases full of paperbacks, beautiful hardback editions and collectables, I’m sure those alone would be enough to lure me back for a leisurely snoop. And then there’s the racks upon racks of clothes, records, and bric-a-brac. The epic proportions of this branch mean there’s all sorts of treasures waiting to be uncovered, and judging by the prizes they assembled with ease for the quiz (vintage Anais Nin erotica, anyone?) the quality is high and the prices affordable.
The staff are all warm, chatty and knowledgeable, and they were an absolute dream to work with on the quiz. Can’t recommend ’em highly enough.
35 Marylebone Lane, Marylebone, London W1U 2NN
This gorgeous little deli let me snoop around their seemingly-endless jam shelves when they were only five minutes from closing time, and had endless patience with my idiotic questions about ingredients and additives. On the near-impossible quest for a gift for an in-law who seems to be allergic to almost everything, the chap serving me was chipper and knowledgeable, and soon sent me on my way with two gloriously quaint jars of rhubarb and ginger jam, which were received with glee, gratitude, and orders for more. So that’s Christmas and birthday presents for that family member sorted for the foreseeable future then. Haven’t had chance yet to try the sandwiches, but I’ll time my next visit so I can investigate those too…
80 Ladywell Road, Ladywell, London SE13 7HS
I haven’t been to Tank Gallery since I moved house earlier this year. Before that, I lived about a minute away, and that meant I had no excuse for not investigating the weird and wonderful installations curated there. Hidden away in an old carriage house behind Ladywell Tavern, they’ve got two floors and an entire team of talented people involved and all sorts of original ideas. And I especially love that they’re doing it in Ladywell, and how warm and welcoming they are when you go in for a natter. A definite highlight was Books in Limbo, where they filled the downstairs room with thousands upon thousands of books, and even had an ‘owl lady’ reading from the rafters…
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