Tag Archives: explore

his and hers paris… for a day

19 May

One of those cliche lines Londoners use on visitors when extolling the benefits of living in this beautifully flawed city is its close proximity to Europe and that “it’s so quick and easy to pop across to the continent for a weekend”… In reality we all know that we’re as likely to pop to Barcelona as we’re likely to travel from Brixton to Broadway market to meet a friend for brunch… i.e. not very.

Having cast a very cynical view on how far we spread our European wings, to celebrate the final leg of the His and Hers week of birthdays (Jane’s), we decided to take advantage of the proximity of Paris and take a day trip to visit our Gallic neighbours.

With the trip by Eurostar taking less time and money than it does for me to return home to North Devon (ridiculous I know), by catching a 7.15am train from St Pancras and returning from Paris at 9.15pm, you can pack a lot into a day.. Here’s a little photo journal of our day!

 

Some last minute itinerary planning (please note the homemade Paris “handbook” – one half of the His and Hers has organisational “issues”)

First stop of the day was the Musee Rodin – there were certain tell tale signs that helped us find our way there..

Seeing all of the roses starting to bloom in the garden (or should I say jardin), really made it a special way to start the day

We couldn’t have asked for better weather to appreciate such classic sculptures – Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’

 

And George coming face to face with the realism of Rodin’s work

After the joys of Musee Rodin, we were all in need of a caffeine pick me up, so we hit a cafe to sample a french cappuccino (way too frothy) and catch up on Paris’ view on the morning news..

 

After possibly a little too much caffeine, we got a little childish with our photo ops in Jardin des Tuileries…

A wander down Rue Saint-Honoré via Colette (parting with too much money) and into the Marais…

Taking in the magnificence of the Pl. de Vosges – impossible to do in one photo!

And after a full day of walking, a little respite to take in respective news from across the channel..

We were slightly disappointed in the meagre selection of brie in the supermarket….

But we made do and had quite a piquenique on the Eurostar home!

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a slightly cyc-hotic idea

2 May

In just over a month’s time this half of the His and Hers will be heading south to Barcelona to spend a few days head nodding to the bleeps and wobbles at the excellent Sonar Festival.

And to get there I will be traveling… by bicycle. Yep, in a moment of bravado / stupidity / drunkenness, a good buddy and I thought a great way to warm up for a weekend of jogging on the spot would be cycling the 900 odd kms from Paris to Barca.

Usually in my travels around London I don’t use a map to guide me – I think that’s half the fun of cycling in London. Getting lost on the one way back streets and mews of Fitzrovia, or seeing how steely your nerve is when all of a sudden you’re heading into the Blackwall tunnel (this hasn’t actually happened to me, although the homing pigeon in me does have a penchant for lanes of the A40).

With the increased level of cycling in preparation for our impending adventure, without fail my geeky tendencies have come to the fore and I’ve been utilising a little technology to help out.

Bike Hub is a ‘cycle satnav’ app that uses Sustrans (pioneer of the ‘Safe Routes’ cycling in the UK) routes to plot quickest or quietest cycle routes in UK & Eire, and Cyclemeter is a GPS app that continually records your time, location, distance, elevation and speed.

What’s great about bike hub is that you have the choice of plotting a number of different route options – from simply A to B journeys or, if like me you want to do one long ride and end up in the same place, it will plot you a round route across whatever distance you want to go (brilliantly you can do it by points of interest – i.e. Pubs).

Once you’ve plotted your journey you can download the journey to your phone and it’s a Satnav to guide you on your merry (cycle)way. The other thing I haven’t mentioned about this very useful app is that its free!

The cyclemeter app on the other hand is more of a post ride / fitness tracker (this appeals to my competitive nature). You can plot regular journeys and sync them to your calendar to see how you’ve improved over time. Warning – if you’re anything like me it can make the journey to work slightly dangerous…  Yes I will make it to work in under 17 minutes!  (I am that much of a loser).

This app will set you back £2.99, but it can also be used for gauging running and walking, so I guess its worth the outlay.

From my pretty regular use of the app it appears to be pretty accurate – the only discrepancy sometimes seems to be with measuring fastest speeds.. However I quite like this, it’s flattering to think I could reach 65KM/H heading down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace.. Watch out Sir Chris Hoy!

give three piece a chance pt.2

27 Apr

Now if you subscribe to the Bertie Wooster school of sartorial styling (technically, I think you can probably only aspire to the Wooster school of style, as actually reaching those dizzy heights is beyond even the most sophisticated gents capabilities), you’ll probably be aware that along with a pair of brogues on your feet and a stiff G&T in hand, the must have accompaniment for any gentleman’s suit is a close clean shave and a quality haircut.

Amongst my more follically challenged friends, I have what they might describe as a very positive problem – lots of very thick, gravitationally opposed hair (sods law says that this post will kick start the onset of my male pattern baldness).

So a good barber that can help with the only element on my head I can easily change for the better is an imperative, which makes Gentlemen’s Tonic hidden away on Saville Row such a find.

I think because it’s nestled within Gieves & Hawkes at No.1 Saville Row, people don’t necessarily know it’s there. So for me who leaves booking appointments to the very last minute it’s one of those rare as hen’s teeth barbers, one where you can call up in the morning and get an appointment for 1pm that lunchtime.

If it wasn’t blatantly obvious from the name of the establishment, Gentlemen’s Tonic caters male grooming needs, and a wide variety at that. From barbershop classics such as traditional wet shaves, complimentary shoe shines to sports massages in a dedicated therapy room, pretty much the only thing they don’t have on site is a quartet.

Apart from cutting hair very well (ask for Mark) it pulls off the male grooming experience with aplomb. Neither too metro-sexual or too “laddie”, its traditional chairs, tiling, pots of barbicide and cut throat razors give the interior a really sharp edge (bad pun I know).

On my last visit I was quizzing Mark about wet shaves and how to shave properly. Given the average man will spend 5 months of his life shaving, I’ve never been taught the proper approach, and after reading Mark’s top tips (given to everyone who has a wet shave) I’ve realised that even if I have umpteen blades on my Gillette razor, I won’t get a closer shave without a few basic skills.

If you’re a lady reading this (firstly thanks for showing interest in this very male focused post), I’d 100% recommend buying a male companion the experience of a traditional barbers wet shave for a present.

I imagine it’s equivalent of us buying you ladies a massage/facial.. it’s pampering, but with an unequivocally masculine edge (there’s really dangerous blades involved.. grrr.). Also for us men it has an added bonus – a perfect excuse not to shave for three days beforehand…

heading south to northside

23 Apr

I am in Melbourne for a couple of weeks and there are a few little haunts that I just can’t miss when I’m in town. One of them is Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which is home to a clutch of great little shops, restaurants and Northside Records – the “best record store in the world” (The Next Men’s words, not mine).

Ollie’s post on Friday about Record Store Day spurred me on to see how the celebrations went down at Northside. Run by one of Melbourne’s favourite DJs, DJ Chris Gill, Northside is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

To celebrate Record Store Day, Northside had amazing instore appearances from Kurtis Blow, Maseo from De La Soul, The Putbacks and The Psyde Projects. DJs were also playing all day. Chris was having so much fun he was late for a family wedding – so late that he had to divebomb into a pew just as the bride started walking up the aisle. You can imagine how that went down.

Judging by the tunes blaring out of Northside today, it seems Chris doesn’t really need Record Store Day as an excuse to have a good time, but to celebrate a decade of supporting soul – new, old and reinvented – Chris assures me there will be non stop parties all year long.

With previous instores by The Bamboos, The Congos, Eddie Palmieri and loads of Melburnian up-and-comers, I think record lovers can be confident he will be true to his word.

Northside Records – 236 Gertrude Street  Fitzroy, +61 3 9417 7557

your record store needs you!

20 Apr

Having spent the majority of my youth (and, let’s be frank, a lot of my adult life)  in record shops, and working in radio, I am unashamedly biased in my support for the annual Record Store Day which, if you’re not aware, is tomorrow.

Now you don’t have to be massive vinyl nerd queuing up at ungodly hours on a Saturday morning to buy ltd 7″ pressings to enjoy the event. With in-store performances by loads of amazing acts at the majority of the 230+ stores participating, it’s worth using this great little search function on the Record Store Day site to see what’s going on in a record store near you.

We’re going to be heading down to our friends at Phonica in Soho to see a bevy of brilliant acts (including Mo Kolours & Ashley Beedle) and to possibly buy a few shed load of records too.

If you can’t get down to any events, we thoroughly recommend you try and watch “Sound It Out”, a documentary (yes another!?) about the last remaining record store in Teeside. What’s great about the film is that regardless of the genres the geeks customers in the shop like, the passion they have for their music is endearing and something any music fan can relate to.

And finally, without record shops and their staff, the track below wouldn’t have landed in my life. This brilliant tune (for a Friday) from the late 70s was recommended to me yesterday by a friendly record store clerk (they do exist!), which makes me a happy nerd.

rum diaries – the 223 club and aloosh

15 Apr

We’d like to apologise for the lack of posts over the weekend, but in a desperate move to absolve any personal responsibility, it really wasn’t our fault.

Please lay all blame on the unfeasible amount of fun we had on Friday night at the new 223 club in Waterloo (and possibly the strongest rum punch anywhere outside of the Caribbean).

We were there to see Aloosh – a band you should really check out (have a listen to “Time” below).

I’m not going to try and describe their sound, as it’s pretty hard to pigeon hole them into one specific category (without sounding like a bit of a prat). But as each member of the band are all accomplished musicians in their own right, their sound is a really refreshing mix individual influences (and as an inconsequential side note to the music, lead singer Jodie has possibly the best hair ever).

With the super cool Dave Okumu (guitarist of The Invisible and producer of Jessie Ware – reviewed here), following the band and playing a really fun set of tunes that got the whole crowd dancing in the archway space, it was more akin to a great house party than a club..

And with everyone being ridiculously friendly (possibly due to rum punch good vibes), it all added up to make the opening of the 223 a pretty special night in our opinion..

All photos: Courtesy of the 223 club

Check out the club site for upcoming listings… we know we will be… we may just go easier on the rum punch next time..

Aloosh music http://www.myspace.com/alooshmusic

223 club – 137-39 Lower Marsh Street, Waterloo

exmouth market – all day ideas

12 Apr

For a number of years I had the joy of my place of work being located a stone’s throw from Exmouth Market.

Photo credit: Alan Stanton

You might think “joy” is a slightly exuberant word to use to describe a street, but in my opinion it’s one of the few streets in London that you can visit at any point in the day or any day of the week and go somewhere interesting, independent and of a good standard (also fitting that my office is now based right on Leicester Square.. which is a long way from joyous).

Exmouth Market is in no means a hidden gem, but it still surprises me how many people haven’t visited.. I think it probably has something to do with there not being a tube stop in the close vicinity (Angel, Farringdon and Kings Cross are a 10 min stroll away).

So here’s the His and Hers recommendations of spots in the vicinity, by time of day and activity.. this is in no way exhaustive (unfortunately we’re going to miss some spots, otherwise this would be the longest post ever..)

Weekend Breakfast & Brunch: Starting with the obvious here… one of the more recent additions to the market is Caravan (which we recommended here). Run by a group of antipodeans it’s the spot to get breakfast and top notch coffee (lets face it, there’s two things you can expect Kiwis to be great at, coffee and beating everyone in rugby). Tip: If you don’t like waiting, turn up early, or in pairs.. if not, prepare for a bit of a wait.. it’s popular.

Weekday Lunch: Not technically on Exmouth Market but just around the corner, Clerkenwell Kitchen, frustrates me. Mainly because it’s so good and I don’t get to go there as often as I’d like (it’s only open weekday lunchtimes). With a real focus on sustainability, the team that run the kitchen change the menu daily. If it’s sunny make sure you sit in the courtyard out the back (bordered by the kitchen’s herb garden).

Weekend Lunch / roast: Again just off Exmouth Market on a very quiet residential street (this post should possibly be renamed “Side Streets around Exmouth Market”), The Easton is a gastro pub, which, due to its slightly hidden location, will always guarantee you a spot even if everywhere else is rammed.. which maybe implies it’s a last resort, but it definitely isn’t, especially based upon the quality of the Sunday roast we had there recently.

Early evening with friends: Cafe Kick – The spot to have a post work beers and then get way too competitive on their table football tables.  You reserve and pay for the time on the tables, as opposed to sinking quid after quid into hungry machines, which makes things a little less expensive.. but the likelihood is that you’ll probably spend the equivalent on beers working up a competitive thirst (no halftime oranges here)..

Evening – “Catch up with friends” dinner spot: Morito is the little sister restaurant to possibly my all time favourite restaurant Moro (it’s next door). Unlike its bigger sibling which is probably for more special occasions, Morito is all tapas, you can’t reserve a table and there is a very relaxed vibe to proceedings.

Due to its pedigree and no reservations policy, it is always extremely busy from opening. However, due to patrons’ keenness to eat, I’ve actually been a couple of times a little later in the evening, Spanish style (maybe after a game of table football/beer or two), and never had to wait… however the danger of this approach is a tendency to get carried away with the ordering… “7 plates per person yeah?”

I could carry on with recommendations but I won’t, so go explore for yourself – you might even find “The Secret Pub”.. and this place is infamous.. the one with the best beer garden, cheap drinks, great food and no crowds.. I’m not going to tell you where it is here, but if you invite me for a drink.. I may just show you.

Exmouth market – from central London (Charring Cross Rd / Tottenham Court Road) take the 38 bus and it’ll drop you right at the end of the end of the market in about 15/20 mins