National Burger Day

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One of the co-founders of #LondonBookClub decided last year that the only way to celebrate her birthday was to make it a national holiday and along with Mr Hyde came up with the idea of National Burger Day. Unfortunately for me I was in Scotland preparing for my trip to the states when the inaugural event took place but it looked like everyone had a whale of a time so I knew for sure that I wanted to go this time around. Tickets went on sale at 8am one morning a few weeks before the event and sold out super quick so I was feeling very smug that I’d already bought my ticket when I did.

This year the National Burger Day tweatup took place at Battersea Power Station, an area of London that I’d never been too given that it was a bit far from home to go out venturing too. However with a menu like this can you blame me for making an exception?

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The must tries on this list for me were the Disco Bistro Roller Disco Burger and the Dip & Flip Double Dunk so after picking up a massive festival cocktail I joined the queue for Dip & Flip who were issuing blue latex gloves along with their burgers to allow you to get properly stuck in, I mean who could resist!

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After about an hour wait I paid my money and then joined yet another queue for collection. The way these burgers are made means they are ready in batches as each one is individually doused in gravy so it wasn’t too long before I had my mitts on the goods. (There was a slight mishap where the woman taking the orders gave me the slip with my name on it rather than adding it to the order pile which led to a little confusion when I finally reached the front but it was all OK in the end!) Just look at this badboy! The burger itself was amazing especially that gravy soaked bun but the roast beef was a little on the rough side for me. It even came with fries covered in gravy and cubes of cheese which were what I imagine Canadian poutine to taste like and were even better than the burger in my opinion.

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As I said I’d also wanted to try the Disco Bistro’s offering but by that point they had run out of  pineapple bacon jam so instead I decided to give it a miss and head straight for dessert: burger cupcakes and cookie fries courtesy of Crumbs & Doilies. How cute are these?

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The cupcake itself was WAY too big to fit in my mouth but it was pretty amazing with its marshmallow cheese, candied bacon and brownie patty layers. The star for me though was the amazing cookie fries and their dips especially the white chocolate ‘mustard’. Can you say yummy?

I’m not a fan of lager so I gave two of the #LondonBookClub boys my free pint to share but I did indulge in my first ever Pickleback, a shot of Jameson whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be! The best thing about National Burger Day though was the atmosphere. Everyone was there to have a good time and munch down on some great burgers, my only regret was not getting there earlier so I could have tried at least one if not two more.

BitBS Rating – ££

Financial Future

I feel like I talk a lot about the things I want to do rather than making them actually happen. I’m working on this by having my 30 by 30 list to focus on but one of those items is a lot harder than just getting out and doing it:

3. Get out of (and stay out of!) debt

Although all of the debt that I have is at 0% and so isn’t actually costing me anything I’m not comfortable with the fact that if they asked me to pay it all back tomorrow I simply wouldn’t be able to. I’ve always been very savvy with money and making the most of 0% deals to actually me money rather than the banks but as of the end of July my debt total stood at £5,081.99 and I fully anticipate this being even higher this month as I just purchased a 3 month travel card for the grand total of £424! In order to get out of this situation I NEED to make a plan, a financial plan, not only for this but as a way to fund all the other fun stuff that I want to do. Luckily September also brings me new tenants for my flat so I will only have one set of bills coming out of my salary from then on.

I have 20 months before I turn 30 and I’m guessing approximately £5.5k of debt which averages out to be £275/month. £175 of this is easily achieved by the money I’ll be gaining in rent from the flat. The rest I’ll need to make up by either making some extra money on the side or reducing my spending to below my income.

Starting off slowly my first goal is to be able to save 10% of my salary each month so around £160. If I can do this by the time 2015 rolls around I’ll be saving £335 per month and the extra £60 per month can be used for the fun things like those mini breaks I’m so desperate to take. £60 per month might not sound like a lot but over the course of a year adds up to £720 which is enough to fund at least two weekend breaks somewhere in Europe!

That said I also need to pay my dad back the money he loaned me when I bought the flat. While there is no timescale on this, simply pay him as and when I can what I can, I would like to do by the time I hit 35 (80 months away) which would be pretty much 10 years after he loaned the money to me in the first place. This would involve being able to save an additional £300 per month in order to make that deadline happen – something I won’t be able to do straight away but something to strive towards for sure. I think starting small and building up is definitely the way to go rather than saying I will start saving 40% of my salary every month starting immediately.

Do you have any tips for making/saving money? I sure would love to hear them!

Romeo & Juliet, Avante Garde Dance

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Avant Garde’s Romeo and Juliet uses 3D sound design and the streets of Blackfriars to create a cinematic journey through Shakespeare’s epic love story. The show has dance and musicality at its heart, but is rooted as a theatre production. Tony Adigun’s ground-breaking choreography and direction combines with Shakespeare’s text adapted by spoken word artist and theatre-maker Maxwell Golden, to create a stunning production that immerses the audience in a modern take of the play that literally uses the cityscape as the stage.

I enjoyed my first proper bank holiday weekend since moving to London and true to form the weather was absolutely hideous for it. Unfortunately this meant that my plans to see the Avant Garde Dance promenade version of Romeo and Juliet which was due to take place throughout the streets and buildings of Blackfriars didn’t go quite to plan. The team had made the (absolutely correct given the circumstances) decision not to continue the performance as scheduled as the weather made it very unsafe for both the audience and the actors and instead put on a shortened version of the show at what would have been the final location – St George The Martyr church in Borough.

While disappointing this was of course preferrable to having the performance cancelled entirely as it was the final day of the show and there would be no opportunity to see it again. After a 10 minute walk to the church we entered and were introduced to the Capulets and Montagues. We were all crammed into the small entrance hall and my first thought was that there were too many of us to be able to see the action clearly which did prove to be a little bit of a problem for some scenes.

We were led by our guide in and around various parts of the church and its vicinity some parts of which worked better than others but I thought the cast did a remarkable job reworking the show the way they did. About half way through we were given wireless headsets to be able to hear what was being said by the performers but this did have some technical hitches which was a tad frustrating but let’s be honest the main thing you look for in any performance is the quality of the acting (and in this case dancing) which was to notch. There was one hilarious yet awkward moment when we were thrust into the rave where Romeo and Juliet first meet and were encouraged to join in. Let’s just say my raving moves leave a lot to be desired but watching a much older lady throwing some shapes on the dance floor certainly loosened me up. Thank you Avante Garde Dance for ensuring that the show did indeed go on and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any future productions!

BitBS Rating – £

Heavenly Hotels: The Rookery

The Rookery hotel is inspired by 18th-century London and houses some of the most beautiful antiques, rich colours and oil paintings throughout. The bathrooms are possibly even more sumptuous than the rooms with the four-poster beds being complimented by roll top baths and beamed ceilings.

rookery 2 rookery1The piece de resistance of the rookery though has to be the Mary Lane room which has a retractable ceiling to reveal the spire above it. Traditional, decadent indulgence. Room prices range from around £200 per night to £660 per night for the Rook’s Nest penthouse apartment.

The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face, The Jetty

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Since The Drowned Man finished I’ve joined several immersive theatre groups on Facebook so that I can keep on top of the latest offerings in and around London in the hopes of filling the void. One show that was mentioned frequently recently was the latest show by Shunt, a collective of artists creating and curating live performance in unusual locations within London, but with a name like The Boy Who Climbed out of his Face I really wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to see or not.

Then a lady on one of the groups mentioned that she had some spare tickets due to unadventurous siblings so rather than let them go to waste I put my name in the hat for a ticket. On Sunday afternoon I received a message saying I could have one of the tickets if I wished and just a few hours later I found myself meeting up with a small group of strangers outside the Emirates Airline station in North Greenwich ready for whatever awaited us. Or at least I thought I was ready, I’m not sure you can ever be ready for something you don’t know anything about but that is definitely the best way to go into this performance; with an open mind and no expectations!

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The Boy Who Climbed out of His Face takes place within a temporary studio called The Jetty, on the Greenwich Peninsula, made up entirely of shipping containers. You enter the show in small groups and progress through different rooms. It’s a very sensory experience made even more so by the fact that you must remove your socks and shoes before entering and carry them with you in a white shoebox throughout the whole performance. Each ‘room’ is weirder and more wilder than the one before and it’s quite an uncomfortable experience. One thing you may want to be prepared for is the freaky latex masks that many of the actors wear especially if you have an aversion to things like that.

It’s also worth noting that The Jetty houses a bar with live music and street food vendors so you can make an evening of it but note that you’ll need to take money with you as it’s a cash only throughout. We went for the 8:30pm slot which was perfect as by the time we emerged at the end of our 45 minute stint night had fallen and the skyline was beautiful. The show runs until 28 September and tickets are a bargainous £10 each. Try it and see what you think but don’t expect to have any clue what you just experienced or be able to explain it to anyone else!

BitBS Rating – £

Skylounge, Tower Hill

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One of the people I’ve gotten to know really well since moving to London is my friend Grant. We go to the cinema on a weekly basis and he’s accompanied me on many of the adventures I’ve written about on this blog over the past year but that’s all about to change as on Saturday he packed up his belongings into the back of a transit van and left this beautiful city to move North with his job. Of course we had to send him off in style and so he chose the Skylounge at the Hilton Doubletree Tower Hill for farewell drinks. I arrived a bit late due to having been at the RA Latin takeover beforehand but I arrived at the perfect time to take in the last of the sights before the sunset. Just look at these views!

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Keen to play catch up I quickly got stuck into the cocktails. There’s quite a selection but you pay for the view with the price of the drinks so I couldn’t indulge in too many! The bartenders are really great at their job, professional and friendly and we had some great table service as well. I loved the Candy Saga cocktail that I had to start before moving on to more familiar territory.

By the time I’d finished the sun had finished setting and the Tower of London along with its bridge were the piece de resistance of the evening. Just look at this beauty.

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Skylounge isn’t somewhere I’d be heading every Friday evening (and perhaps dress up a little more than I did, as I turned up still wearing a superman t-shirt and converse from work as it was casual Friday and felt rather underdresseed!) but if you want to impress, be it a date, a client or a friends first trip to the city I’m not sure you can beat the Skylounge for effect.

BitBS Rating – £££

Radical Geometry, Royal Academy of Arts

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Radical Geometry brings together work from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros by some of the great innovators of South American modern art, from Torres-García in Uruguay to Lygia Clark in Brazil, from Maldonado in Argentina to Gego in Venezuela. Inspired by European artists such as Mondrian and Kandinsky, their bold experiments with space, movement and colour radically transformed the relationship between art and viewer. This is art that refuses to be contained by its own perimeter, art that ruptures the boundary between the object and the space around it and introduces dynamic forms to give the illusion of motion and volatility. You will see work that changes as you move around it, and “drawings without paper” that use negative space and shadow to create unique, fleeting compositions.

I was really happy to receive another invite from the RA to attend their bloggers look at another of their exhibitions: Radical Geometry. It took place last Friday on the same night as the Latin takeover that was due to take place later that evening. As with the Dennis Hopper exhibition (still running until the 19th October) it started off with mojitos and an introduction to the marvellous works we were about to see.

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We got a tad lost trying to find the exhibit and it was right at the top of the building so involved several sets of stairs by the time we got there but boy was it worth the climb. Once again no photography was allowed but to be honest the pieces in this show don’t really lend themselves too well to photography. They’re better observed from various points of view, in fact many of the pieces are designed to actually be touched and moved around rather than be static pieces of art but unfortunately there was no touching either. The exhibition has pieces from five different South American countries but my favourite had to be Jesús Soto’s Nylon Cube. 250,000 painted nylon strings that create the illusion of a blue cube suspended from the ceiling. It’s difficult to describe but it’s beautiful. As are the selection of Gego’s Drawings without paper, wire sculptures that cast the most beautiful shapes with their shadows.

Afterwards as I left the Latin takeover had begun with some fantastic toe-tapping South American music and dance in the courtyard, courtesy of Brazilian Grammy Award winner Zeu Azevedo. Sadly a friends leaving doo was happening that same evening so I couldn’t stay to enjoy it but there is a quick video over on my Facebook page if you’re interested. The exhibition is open at the Royal Academy of Arts until 28th September and costs £11.50 per adult and I thoroughly recommend that you go see it as pictures just don’t do the pieces justice.

BitBS Rating – £

Catford Constitutional Club, Catford

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I went to my first blookclub (bloggers bookclub) this month which is held in random SouthEast London locations. This months host location was the Catford Constitutional Club whose owners are in the process of resurrecting an old style social club. It’s very easy to miss this place as it’s hidden down a passageway off Catford Broadway but it’s worth the effort to find it.

The pictures don’t really do it justice I’m afraid but they’ve left the parquet flooring, 70’s wallpaper and cornice work in place giving it that shabby chic vibe. The tables and seating don’t match and the building boasts high ceilings that are rare in London these days. We were seated in the lounge area which was separate from the bar which made it quieter, ideal for book club natter. The staff even asked us if we wanted the music turned down a little before we started.

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Having come straight from work I was super hungry and the menu was to die for so I had to order something to munch on. Most of the other ladies just has fries but I couldn’t resist the mussels when I spotted them on the menu. It was just a starter portion but it was enough for me. Although I could have done with more bread to mop up the delicious sauce with! And for just £6 it was a complete bargain. In fact on the entire menu everything was under £16 and everything I saw come out of the kitchen looked amazing. I’d definitely be happy to come back if blookclub returns here again!

BitBS Rating – ££

Spending Report: 16th – 22nd August 2014

Saturday (£82.65)
-£0.89 KwikSave (Groceries)
-£2.49 Delice de France (Eating Out)
-£0.70 Boots (Groceries)
-£50.00 Barbican (Entertainment)
-£13.87 Frankie & Benny’s (Eating Out)
-£2.70 Jimmy’s Farm (Eating Out)
-£12.00 Southwark Playhouse (Entertainment)

Sunday (£26.20)
-£14.00 TimeOut Offers (Entertainment)
-£12.20 GoDaddy (Miscellaneous)

Monday (£78.78)
-£40.00 Oyster (Transport)
-£4.79 Tesco (Groceries)
-£29.00 Wowcher (Beauty)
-£4.99 Itsu (Eating Out)

Tuesday (£47.40)
-£2.70 Cineworld (Eating Out)
-£44.70 Morrisons (Groceries)

Wednesday (£87.20)
-£21.99 Insure & Go (Essentials)
-£36.80 Oyster (Transport)
-£5.58 Tesco (Groceries)
-£4.98 Robert Dyas (Miscellaneous)
-£12.85 99p stores (£1.98 Beauty, £4.94 Groceries, £5.93 Miscellaneous)
-£5.00 Cooperative (Miscellaneous)

Thursday (£18.40)
-£2.15 Tesco (Groceries)
-£4.75 EAT (Eating Out)
-£11.50 Catford Constitutional Club (Eating Out)

Friday (£54.40)
-£2.70 Tesco (Groceries)
-£3.00 Greggs (Eating Out)
-£3.20 Starbucks (Eating Out)
-£45.50 Skylounge (Eating Out)

Total: £395.03
(Essentials: £21.99, Groceries: £66.45, Eating Out: £94.70, Transport: £76.80, Beauty: £30.98, Entertainment: £76.00, Miscellaneous: £28.11)

You can do anything you set your mind to

Now that my flat in Aberdeen is being rented out by a management company up there I’m feeling a little more secure with my decision to move to London and feel like I can start looking to the future and what I want to achieve in life. So when I was contacted by Kabbage.com to write a feature about my hopes and dreams for the future now seemed like the perfect time to share these with you.

Now I’m very lucky to have already achieved several of my life goals; I went to university and got a first class degree, visited Australia, Asia, Africa, America and Europe, I’ve bought my first property and I moved to London just over a year ago; a dream I’d had since my very first visit to the capital. But that doesn’t stop me from having even bigger and wilder dreams for the future.

Short term goals

Travel, travel, travel – I plan to make 2015 a year full of travel. The world is such a beautiful place and I want to explore as much of it as possible. Living in London with its multiple airports makes travel a lot faster and more importantly cheaper than it was when I lived in Aberdeen and I intend to make the most of it. Paris, Italy and Greece are top of my to visit list but I want to experience as many different cultures as I can. Naturally I’ll be sharing my adventures with you all right here on this blog!

Medium term goals

Change my career path – I currently work in IT Support and while I’m good at my job I don’t have a passion for it. You may remember that I took an Events Management course at the start of this year and I’d like to put this to good use. Ideally I’d love to start my own business as a party planner but I need to get some experience in the field before I can make that a reality. It’s nice to know that Kabbage.com, who offer sall business loans, can help out with funding when it’s needed though as that’s always a huge stumbling block for new businesses.

Long term goals

Get married – If you’ve seen my 30 by 30 list you’ll know that while I’m quite happy being single I’m currently giving dating a go and I do eventually at some point down the line want to settle down and get married. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of experience at wedding planning by the time my own rolls around that it all goes smoothly and without a hitch.

But that’s not all I want to achieve, I have other dreams too. Dreams that I’m not certain how or when I’m going to achieve them but goals that are always in the back of my mind when I’m making life decisions.

  • Live in another country for at least a year
  • Publish a novel
  • Run a quiet B&B by the seaside somewhere

What are your hopes for the future? Perhaps Kabbage.com can help you realise some of your dreams.