A Very Cultured Weekend

This is taking me such a long time to type up, because there’s so much. This is a long one, which I probably should’ve split up, but never mind! Get yourself a cup of tea and a (packet of) biscuit(s). Yay!

Madden and I decided a couple of weeks before Christmas that we should have a ridiculous London weekend to break up the monotony of winter and it being cold and miserable. Madden booked her flights, we found a b&b, and after some back and forth emails mainly consisting of links and dancing girl emojis, we booked a ton of tickets to the most cultured stuff we could find.

Madden’s flight got her into London early on the Thursday, so I sent her two pages of ridiculously specific directions to our hotel, and to the British Library, and Regent’s Park so she could go for a run. She whatsapped me from the hotel when she got there, and I swear that Thursday afternoon was the slowest in the history of Thursdays. She’d arranged to meet our friend Aran (who just moved down to London – yay!) for drinks at 5, and I would meet them as soon as I got into London after work.

After lots of squeaking around Liverpool Street at 7pm, the three of us headed to Brick Lane for curry and catching up. We were lured in by Ainsley Harriot’s beaming face on the Famous Customers wall, after Aran pointed out that putting Chris Martin up there would make people think the curry wasn’t very spicy. “Chris Martin looks like he orders a balti…” The food was amazing, and we’d scored a free round of drinks, which is never a bad thing. After dinner, Aran and Madden got a little guided tour of Whitechapel and the Square Mile, and then we found a bar for some more drinks until they kicked us out. After dropping Aran off at the DLR, Madden and I headed back to our hotel, where we accidentally stayed awake until 3am cackling like witches at ridiculous internet things.

Friday morning we were up and out super early, and we walked to Camden for some breakfast and a mooch. Along the canals, we decided that a canalboat holiday would be literally the most rock & roll thing we could think of doing, so guess what’s happening this summer?! Ha. We had a wander around the Stables markets, but it was freezing, so we decided that going to Selfridges would be a much more sensible option (notsomuch for Madden’s purse about an hour later).

After all the wandering, we were in pretty desperate need of carbs (and wine), so we headed towards Leicester Square, and scoped out the theatre. Luckily, there’s a ton of Italian restaurants dead opposite The Garrick, so we picked one and settled in to warm up for a bit. After stuffing ourselves with pasta and salmon and mozzarella garlic bread, and debating which celebrity we’d want to be in a life-swap situation, we went over the road and found our seats for Red Velvet, just in time for the curtain.

Every single review I’ve read of this play has been on the money. It’s on until the end of this month. Go see it.

After the theatre, we picked up a bottle of wine and went back to the hotel to paint our nails, spam everyone on whatsapp, and get drunk in our pyjamas. Obviously the best things to do on a Friday night. We went to sleep after Madden woke herself up trying to sell me some mobile phones that she’d just got a shipment of. Hahaha.

Saturday, if you’re unsure, is a day for sequins and having cake for breakfast. So that’s what we did. After making ourselves as sparkly as possible, with the biggest hair we could muster, we headed to Drink Shop Do for tea and cake. Madden opted for orange ombré Victoria sponge, I had an enormous slice of chocolate cake, and we shared a huge pot of Alice in Wonderland tea. Fueled by obscene amounts of sugar, we went off to Covent Garden for the matinee at the Royal Ballet. We saw the double bill of Rhapsody and the Two Pigeons, with Francesca Hayward in the first. She got so many flowers. Both ballets were beautiful, and not even the grumpy women behind us dulled it.

After a quick soup-stop and a walk around Covent Garden (and Madden’s bank balance taking another hammering in Fly London), we went to the Barbican for some dinner (omg, eat in the Barbican cafe thing. It’s yummy, and the decor in that place is beaut), and to get our tickets for the LSO soundhub showcase. Madden had wanted to see some super “avant-garde orchestra shizz,” and had found this hiding in the internets. It turned out not to actually be at the Barbican, but at St. Lukes, so we ended up drinking gin in a deconsecrated church, watching/listening to work by some awesome new composers. Both Madden and I loved Na’ama Zisser‘s Karaoke II piece, and Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian‘s Walls and Ways was beautiful. (Also, on Cevanne’s website, you can donate and she’ll write a line of music out of your name. That’s the coolest thing ever.)

After the LSO, we went back to Shaftesbury Avenue to find Aran and Cillian (who didn’t make it to Brick Lane, but made up for it) at FREVD. Google says it’s a “much-loved minimalist bar in concrete cellar, serving potent classic cocktails,” and I think that’s pretty apt. Also, it was absolutely rammed, and the gimlets were outstanding. Somehow, after wedging ourselves through the door of the oldest drag bar in London and singing “Simply the Best,” googling places in Chinatown called “Dumplings” (I have vague memory of standing in the street shouting “IT’S CHINATOWN, EVERYWHERE IS CALLED DUMPLING”), and eventually finding the specific Dumplings we were looking for, we ended up eating – guess what – and spring rolls, and drinking yet more gin, in a Chinatown restaurant at midnight. Like I said; outstanding gimlets.

Sunday was much quieter, with a pub breakfast on the Embankment, where we met back up with Cillian to go see the Frank O’Hara exhibition at the Southbank. It was perfect for a Sunday morning, and his poetry is just beautiful.


Cillian headed off to do some work, and Madden and I mooched back to the British Library and then to the hotel to pick up our stuff. Madden had to sit on a rail replacement bus all the way to Stansted and I love her. Haha. I got to finish off my weekend with Star Wars episode IV, and it was pretty good, but Yoda wasn’t in it.

I think I’ve pretty much used up all of my cultural capabilities until at least 2017.


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