City Breaks

How to visit London on a budget

Heading off to the big city with just a bit of pocket money doesn’t immediately seem like something we’d want to do. With such an amazing nightlife, it would almost be rude not to enjoy it, right? It is, in fact, possible to explore the city without spending a full months pay on it – as long as you know where to look.

Here is a neat guide to help you enjoy London even though you’re on a strict budget so that you get to enjoy travelling a bit more often.

Face the tube

Let’s start with the easiest first. London has a fabulous public transport system, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. While the city is big, it also has a lot of people and many of them happen to be on the tube as well, making it a crowded and warm experience.

By coming to terms with the crowd and familiarising yourself with the tube system, it all becomes a bit more manageable, though, so try not to wimp out and order a cab every time. I first time I used the tube I had to double and triple check the maps to make sure I was going on the right line and in the right direction.

Besides, when you use the public transport system and get yourself an Oyster card, you get to explore the city like a local. They wouldn’t spend their hard-earned money on those overpriced cabs, so why should you?

If you’d like to sit down somewhere more relaxed and be served for once, it’s a good idea to check out a shisha lounge or two – they have great food and a relaxed atmosphere, making it a perfect place to spend a few hours with your friends.

Use the freebies

It’s really easy for tourists to save money as long as they take advantage of all the free things to do in the city. The British Museums, Tate Modern, and the National Gallery are just a few examples of great things to enjoy for absolutely nothing. It’s cultural too – and even a bit educational if you pay attention.

Walking around in the parks, admiring the Thames, and experiencing the Changing of the guards are also fun alternatives that will cost you nothing except for the energy you spend on getting there – or a tiny amount of your oyster fare.

Since you’re probably in the city to do a bit of shopping, why not check out some of the charity and secondhand shops too? Blitz is a well-known option, and they have a vast selection of cool preloved clothes that would just love to join you back home.

The wonderful markets

Booking a table at Duck and Waffle with a magnificent view of the Shard is a great time to spend your afternoon, but not the best alternative when you’re on a budget. Steer clear of the overpriced restaurants and eat at the local markets instead – buy your groceries there as well, by the way, if you’re money-wise enough to stay somewhere with a kitchen.

Borough Market is a great alternative, but you’ll also find excellent street food options at Camden Market. The portions they serve are usually gigantic too, so it should keep you full for a while.

London hen party fun

When most people think of hen parties, they tend to think of ladies getting a little messy on a wild weekend away. However, some people prefer to keep things classier and more sophisticated. Whether you’re a bridesmaid accommodating a bride with more refined tastes or you’re the bride-to-be taking control, London is one of the best places for a hen party that’s a little bit better in just about every way.

London Hen Party

Bridesmaid duties…

We don’t choose bridesmaids just because they’re some of the people closest in the world to us. They’re supposed to help us and in organising the hen party they can be of a lot of help. London’s a big city and it can get confusing, so make sure bridesmaids are each playing a role in coordination with each other. One can be in charge of finding accommodation closest to the things the bride wants to do, for instance, while another organises the use of the city’s extensive public transport system, making it easier by buying Oyster cards.

Let’s go shopping…

Beyond an entertainment and nightlife mecca, London is one of the fashion capitals of the UK. Everyone getting themselves a little extra to take home with them is going to ensure that they’re getting more than they might have expected from the trip. You don’t have to urge anyone to spend, of course. You can make it a little easier if you’re taking some of the London shopping tours that stop by some of the smaller boutiques or even thrift shops instead of just the high-street famous brands. In London, so long as you’re in the right area, you’ll be able to find good additions for just about any price.

Just the girls

The nightlife is not something to be underestimated in the city, either. There’s a whole range of classy, sophisticated bars and lively clubs to be found. If you want to make it truly special, however, skip mingling with the locals. Think about more exclusive nightlife options like getting on the Cuckoo club guest list in advance. You don’t want your time together spoiled by people hitting on the bridesmaids or losing some of the party in amongst the crowd. Instead, treat yourself to a little pampering and special treatment from the staff. The high-end clubs can make you feel like a star, even if it is for a night.

Day time fun

The city is best experienced for more than just a night. If you can organise it, make sure you have plenty of time to explore it in the day, as well. Not just for the shopping but the sheer amount of entertainment, often free, that’s available on the streets. If you want to keep the high-flying air of sophistication up, for instance, stopping by the Globe Theatre or having a day at the May Fair Spa is always recommended.

London gives you the chance to experience a hen party like nowhere else in the UK. Whether it’s enjoying the pleasures of an exclusive club with just your favourite ladies for company or exploring the wealth of daytime activities the city has to offer.

 

Wonderlust Meets World: How To Make Your Travel Dreams A Reality

We all have dreams. Some of us wanted to be ice skaters when we grew up, others wanted to travel. Although you can often grow out of the ice skating stage, when you have a dream of seeing the world, it never really leaves you.

How to Make Your Travel Dreams a RealityWhen you want to be able to travel and head to all of the destinations around the world that have filled your dreams for years, you can often get to the point where you want to make it a reality. Wanderlust can do that to you! So, if that’s the stage you’re at now, here are a few tips on how to make those travel dreams your soon-to-be reality.

Making A List

The first step towards chasing your dreams is to get out a pen and paper (or an online document) and get your plans written down. By writing everything down, you’re more likely to take action. It also helps to make a list of your bucket list holiday ideas to know where you want to go. Whether you want to head to Bondi Beach or see Cape Town, it’s important to get everything out of your head and into a list to work out what to do next.

Be Realistic With Your Situation

Now that you’ve made a little more sense of your thoughts, you then need to work out your current situation. Because making your travel dreams a reality, will depend on what you can actually do. You need to work out what time off you can have and when, how you prefer to travel and what it is that you’re looking to get out of the trip. By doing this, you’ll be able to work out what plans you can make first.

Deciding On A Budget

With a better understanding of what you can make possible, you then need to decide on a budget. Because it’s often the budget that will then determine what plans you can put in place. Making a travel budget is often tough. Again, you have to be realistic, but you can make it as large or as little as you like. Just be sure to plan for travel, accommodation, food, and any activities that you may want to do.

Making A First Firm Booking

When you get to this point, the only step left to do is to make your first firm booking. You have to be able to take the plunge and put those plans in place. Once you’ve researched and decided on what you want to do, get your travel and accommodation in place and give yourself a huge pat on the back because those plans are becoming a reality.

Preparing The Rest

Then, you’re going to want to make sure you get the rest of the little things in line too. There are lots of things to do when you travel internationally, but if you have time, you can tick these off slowly. From getting your currency to arranging your luggage, you’ll probably find that these are the exciting final touches that help you to get yourself ready to realise your dreams.

 

Feast On London – OXO Tower Brasserie Review

During April some of the top restaurants in London take part in ‘Feast On London’, a month long city wide celebration of London’s culinary heritage.

As we were heading to London for the weekend we thought it would be a nice treat to eat in a fine dinning restaurant.

There were so many to choose from on Bookatable that it was very difficult to pick somewhere. We were however only booking a few days before our trip, so a lot of the restaurants had already been booked up. We were on a tight time frame because I had an event to attend in the evening. So, we decided on booking a 15.30 table, plus I wanted great views across London. I love the London skyline, it’s a fabulous view to gaze at. Each time we visit something new has appeared.

The OXO Tower Brasserie

The OXO Tower Brasserie seemed like the perfect choice, it was located fairly near to the London Duck Tour, which we were booked on to at 13.30. The menu looked great and at £33 per head for 3 courses plus a cocktail, it would be silly not to book. A great price for dinning in London. Plus not forgetting those beautiful views across the city.

We arrived to a warm welcome up on the the 8th floor of the OXO Tower, by a friendly receptionist who stored our coats and arranged for us to be seated.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our table was just one row away from the window, which still gave us great viewing opportunity. After we had made our orders for drinks, a white wine for me and a beer for my Hubby, the table next to the window became available. Our kind waiter asked if we would like to move across, perfect! Right next to those beautiful views. During the summer months I can imagine the roof terrace to be full of people having cocktails and delicious foods. On our visit however it wasn’t overly warm and quite cloudy, so no-one was outside.

Feast On London Menu

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our attention soon turned to the menu. I opted for the Cod cheeks, followed by the Roast Chicken and then the Chocolate hazelnut cake. My Hubby went for the Rabbit Ragu, Roast Chicken and the Treacle Tart. We also ordered the roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli sides.

The Cocktail

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The cocktail that came with the menu was Bombay Sapphire and Hibiscus. It came served in a tall glass with ice, lemon and Hibiscus petals floating in it. We both thought it was a tasty cocktail, not too sweet, with floral flavours that finished with a warmth of gin. We both would happily have had 2 or 3 of these.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Starters

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We didn’t seem to be waiting for too long when our starters arrived. What with us chatting away about our day so far and plans for the rest of the trip along with looking at that stunning view of London.

OXO Tower Brasserie ReviewMy starter of, beer-battered cod cheeks, bitter leaf salad, lemon and seaweed aioli. It looked amazing and smelt amazing on arrival I couldn’t wait to try it. The cod cheeks fell apart and melted in the mouth, all the little flavours together was just fabulous. The little lemon oil along side the seaweed aioli worked perfectly on the dish.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Hubby had slow-braised rabbit ragu, pearl barley and truffle pecorino. I’m not keen on game, so it is my Hubby’s choice of food whenever we dine out. He loved it, saying it was full of rich tomato, gamey flavour. The rabbit just fell apart. It seemed to be a winner for him.

The Main Courses

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We both opted for the roasted chicken, slow-cooked bacon collar,truffle onion purée and spring greens. Adding sides of roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli. It was truly delicious. That salty bacon flavour against the truffle and onion purée just cut through the flavours. The roasted chicken was soft and tender still full of moisture, the knife just glided through. Even though we added a couple of extra sides to the meal, we really wouldn’t have needed to as there was more than enough.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Dessert

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

I went for the chocolate hazelnut cake with condensed milk ice cream. I was honestly disappointed with my dessert. It wasn’t what I was expecting, I was expecting a chocolate cake however it was not. I felt the cake was a little dry and the hazelnut crumb was burnt. It had that bitter burnt taste across the dish, which honestly wasn’t brilliant. The ice-cream was creamy and smooth, however I couldn’t tell it was condensed milk. So, I was disappointed with my dessert and I wish I had opted for something else.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

My Hubby opted for the treacle tart, rhubarb and clotted cream, he loved it. The rhubarb was well cooked, with just the right amount of acidity to cut through the sweetness of the treacle tart. Amazing along side the clotted cream.

Overall Review

We both really enjoyed our meal at the OXO Tower Brasserie, there was a relaxed atmosphere with friendly staff that were happy to help you out. There is an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared, over seen by head chef Keir Barry. Who designed the British style menu. Even though I was not overly impressed with my dessert it would not put me off visiting again on our next tip to London.

 

Mummy in a Tutu