Saturday, 13 May 2017

Rooftop rollerdisco pops up in Stratford

Attention all Londoners - this is not a drill. Our wonderful city now has what it's been missing all along; a rooftop rollerdisco.

Roof East in Stratford is open again for the summer, bringing all manner of hipster pursuits to the top deck of a multi-storey car park. The rollerdisco is just one of the activities on offer - although let's be honest, it's the best.

The rollerdisco was the last place we visited. As the night - and the cocktails - went on, my photography got worse.
Situated inside a marquee with a DJ blaring out classic cheese, it's the ideal place to fall thingy-over-whatsit to the dulcet tones of R Kelly*. The downside of the marquee is that the rollerdisco is the only place on the roof that you can't admire the views over east London and beyond.

Elsewhere on the roof, take out the day's rage in the American-style baseball batting cages. Armed with a helmet and a bat, you'll have the balls fired at you (pick a lane depending on your preferred speed). Be warned though - it's harder than it looks to strike a hit.
Team Londonist shows its competitive side.
If that's all a bit strenuous, try the more gentile offering of bowls. A word of advice; ten pin bowling it is not. Do not lob the ball down the lane (pitch? court? green?) with all your might. It's a case of skill over strength - as Team Londonist learnt, after much trial and error.

The crazy golf is back for another year. This year's course is much improved on last year's meagre offering - although the decor probably gets a bit trippy after a few drinks.

Unfortunately the food offerings aren't as varied as last year. Pick from pizza courtesy of Pizza Shack, or all manner of Spanish-inspired food from Jimmy's Tapas Bar (top tip: the chorizo hot dog is a worthy choice - and the cheese from the pizzas leaves an excellent shine, should you accidentally drop it on a black leather boot #justsaying).

Last, but by no means least, is the outdoor cinema by Rooftop Film Club. I've been a fan of what these guys do since my first introduction on top of Peckham's Bussey Building some years ago. The cinema's on the northern side of the roof, so no getting distracted from the screen by the skyline views.

When the sun's out, it feels a bit Miami Beach - all bright colours, (fake) palm trees and summer vibes. But when night falls, there's no getting away from the fact that you're in E15. Dress appropriately. You've been warned.

*Actually happened - not to me for once, but to a colleague.

Roof East 2017, top floor, multi-storey car park, Great Eastern Way, Stratford, E15 1XE. Entry is free, all activities incur a charge.

Scribbling Lau is now on Facebook. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

How to see Harry Potter film props for free in London

Calling all Potter fans! There's an exhibition of Harry Potter memorabilia in London at the moment, and it's completely free.

It's not by any stretch a new exhibition - House of MinaLima threw open its doors in mid-2016, and was originally due to close in February 2017, but has been extended indefinitely due to popularity.

It showcases art and design work by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima that was used in the films, with props on loan from the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Basically, a Potter nerd's paradise.

I'm not the biggest fan of Harry Potter which is why it's taken me so long to get round to visiting the exhibition. Nothing against the Boy Wizard, just not a huge fan of the series - more a casual observer.

On a Saturday afternoon, it's nowhere near as busy as I'd braced myself for, and I even had some of the rooms to myself, except for the extremely friendly staff members who are posted on each level. The expected throng of die-hard Potter fans was few and far between - presumably they visited in the museum's early days. Most of my fellow visitors seemed to have walked in off the street, attracted in by the intriguingly colourful shopfront.

You'll enter (and exit) through the ground floor gift shop - but as the exhibition's free, you can't begrudge them the chance of making some money. With Hogwarts house badges at £3.50 and posters starting at £19 though, it's not somewhere for young Potter fans to be spending their pocket money.

Take the narrow, steep, winding staircase up to the first floor - unfortunately the exhibition's not wheelchair accessible - where you'll step into 1920s-30s New York.

This section is dedicated to the most recent film, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and although I've not seen the film and had very little idea of what was going on, there's no denying that a lot of effort has gone into recreating the time period.

Up another flight of stairs - the staircase is an artwork in itself - and you'll come face to face with artwork from the original Harry Potter films. Daily Prophet front covers line the walls and Hogwarts textbooks stare down at you.

Even with my limited Potter knowledge I was able to recognise the Howler letter Mrs Weasley sent to Ron at Hogwarts, and a ticket for the Hogwarts Express.

The highlight? You'll find yourself standing on a Marauder's Map the size of the room (invisibility cloak optional).

After solemnly swearing that you're up to no good, head up another flight of stairs for even more items from the films. Centrepiece here is the Dursley's fireplace, overflowing with Hogwarts acceptance letters - a bittersweet sight for any die-hard Potter fan who's still waiting for their letter to arrive.

Take time to glance again at the artwork lining the staircase on the way back down - even on second glance, you're bound to miss something.

A quick sweep around the shop and you're back outside - although by this time you'll be expecting to find yourself in Diagon Alley, rather than 21st century Soho.

House of MinaLima, 26 Greek Street, Soho. Open 12pm-7pm every day. entry is free.

Scribbling Lau is now on Facebook. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, 8 May 2017

London's most romantic cocktail bar is back

London's not short of quirky and unusual outdoor bars when summer rolls around, but one that stands out from the others is The Midnight Apothecary.

Run by The Cocktail Gardener, aka Lottie Muir, everything on the cocktail menu is made from plants and flowers, which are grown in the secret garden where the bar is set. Think rhubarb, wild lilac, elderflower and the like. Beautifully garnished, the drinks are sweet, and strong enough that you'll only need one or two to make an evening of it - all the more reason to go back multiple times and work your way through the whole menu. Hats off to whoever came up with the cocktail named Rhubarbra Streisand.

Forget the usual overcrowded bars, elbowing to get served at the bar, and not being able to hear each other over pumping music - The Midnight Apothecary is calm and tranquil. Queue to order at the bar, leaving your name with the bartender, and take a seat on one of the wooden benches or stools nestled among the fragrant flowerbeds. Your drinks will be brought to you when they're ready, by which time you'll be kicked back, basking in the candlelight and fairy lights, toasting marshmallows on the flickering campfire. The only thing missing is an acoustic guitar player, serenading you from somewhere in the corner.

If the weather's looking peaky, the bar heads indoors to Brunel's tunnel shaft -and if you're looking for a side of history with your cocktail, introductory talks by one of the museum's guides run throughout the evening. The tunnel itself is now part of the London Overground railway line, so no getting in there, but it's still a fascinating insight into an impressive engineering feat.

Entry to the bar costs £5, and does need to be booked in advance. Once you're in, cocktails are £8 each (or it's Happy Hour every Friday 5.30pm-7.30pm when drinks are buy one get one half price).

My tip? Get there early. Although the ticketing system prevents it from getting overcrowded, seating in the garden is limited - plus, you're gonna want to be right up near the campfire toasting those marshmallows. Due to the residential setting, last orders is at 10pm, so if you turn up too late, you'll miss out on crucial cocktail supping time.

The Midnight Apothecary is open every Friday and Saturday night, 5.30pm-10.30pm  from now until September 2017 at the Brunel Museum. Entry is £5 and needs to be booked in advance.

Scribbling Lau is now on Facebook. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.