summer

Holiday or helliday?

Holidays are good for you they say.

Only, it seems, my colleagues didn’t get the memo. They’re back in the office post summer break but, amazingly you might think, no happier than before they went away.

Prior to booking they were all, invariably, looking forward to a break from the office, a good rest and the chance to let their hair down... so what happened?

It transpires that the planning proved too much for one co-worker. “Searching for flights on Sky-scanner - who soon clocked onto my proposed holiday plans and dates which resulted in rocketing prices  - wasn’t fun,” said Shana. “Nor was trawling through tonnes of hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, which left me feeling more confused than ever.”

For another, working 15 hour days pre- holiday in a bid to clear his in-box at work, saw him board his flight for Colombia looking and feeling like a wreck. Something not helped by the email he received while en-route to the airport to say that his flight time had changed and he would now be taking off six hours later than scheduled.

Then on arrival - if you’re anything like the average stressed out Londoner who, statistics show, now work longer days than anyone else in the country, clocking in three extra weeks per year - it’s almost impossible to instantly switch into 'holiday mode' upon reaching your destination.

And invariably you will have packed all the wrong things something my mate Kate, can attest to. A sensible doctor by day, Kate couldn’t fathom what had possessed her to pack 17 pairs of shoes for a recent beach trip together with her gym kit, despite barely making it to the gym back home.

Then there’s the thorny issue of who to travel with… Travelling together can be intense and can either make or break relationships. Going in a group isn’t necessarily any easier. The worst trip I ever had was with two ‘friends’ to Mexico - we ended ended up falling out over food, finance and pretty much everything under the sun - so don’t be daunted by the prospect of solo travel.

And what about the weather which can rarely be relied on in this day and age? Last month, Louise spent a rainy fortnight (and small fortune) in France while back home, Britain baked in the hottest summer solstice ever...

All of the aforementioned for a few brief moments abroad when you feel refreshed and able to cope with whatever life throws at you -  only for this feeling to dissipate as soon as you land back in London and the emails from your boss with the subject line ‘Urgent action required’ start flooding your in-box…

Shana summed up the agony succinctly when she said: “Quite frankly it was all enough to make me wish I had stayed put on the sofa.”

Perhaps Samuel Johnson was right after all:

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

http://www.justabouttravel.net/2017/07/30/holiday-or-helliday%E2%80%A8/

Hot in the city

When summer hits, London comes alive like nowhere else on earth. Make this one your best summer yet with JAT’s guide to the capital’s coolest new spots

 

Brixton Beach

 

Credit: Brixton Rooftop

When summer rolls around, nothing beats sitting in a deck-chair on the sand with a drink in hand and feeling the warmth of sand between your toes. But landlocked Londoners need not despair… those who want to be beside the seaside in the capital, simply need to head to Brixton Beach up on Brixton Rooftop.
The seaside-inspired pop-up first hit south London in summer 2016 and, new for this year, is Brixton Beach's BBQ Thursdays which sees London’s BBQ specialists and chefs take over for one evening filled with fab food, creative cocktails, Latino beats and Salsa sessions.
On Thursday 3 August, Brixton Beach will welcome James Whetlor, founder of kid goat meat specialists, Cabrito for an evening filled with barbecued goat meat, while on Thursday 24 August, the rooftop space will be transformed into a Caribbean fiesta, taking guests on a trip to the streets of Havana courtesy of BokitLa who will be serving up their Guadalupan special sandwiches. Finally on Thursday 31 August, Brixton Beach resident food trader, STAKEhaus, is scheduled to  host a Surf n Turf Beach BBQ.
Whichever night you rock up, be sure to bring your salsa shoes: Richard Voogt from Dsantos Dance UK is hosting Salsa sessions on the beach, while DJ Dennis The Chemist has his heart set on transporting everyone to the heart of Havana.
Bottom line: who needs Brazil when you have Brixton?
Brixton Beach, Pope’s Road, SW9 8JH, www.brixtonrooftop.com



Fiz bar, Soho

IMG_1742.jpg

 

Image: KH

Get fizzical at Fiz Bar - a fabulous sparkling wine pop-up that's running at eclectic neon art gallery Lights of Soho until 13 August.
The brainchild of three friends - take a bow Barnaby Lewis, Max Bigland and Jordan Nadian  - London’s first sparkling wine bar has been inspired by the vibrant food and drink scene found in the backstreet cava bars of Barcelona. As such, prepare to say goodbye to pretentious, pricey champagne bars and the formality of traditional wine bar-restaurants and hello to a continental eating and drinking experience, with guests mingling and paying prices that allow them to sample more than one bottle and share multiple items of food.
The drinks menu covers the classics from France and Italy, but also includes a pink Prosecco and Cava together with a host of options (available by the bottle and glass) that come under the ‘something a little different’ category. JAT can vouch for the unfiltered Ca di Rajo “Lemoss Frizzante’ from Italy - which zings with notes of lemon and lime - and Black Queen from Australia, a sparkling red that has hints of cherry.
On the food front, there’s reasonably priced cheese boards to share with friends and brioche buns filled with Pork belly and Pastrami with pickles to get stuck into.
Someone has done their homework here and it shows: gold star.
25 Brewer Street, W1F 0RX, www.fizbar.com

 

tibits Bankside

 

 

Image: KH

tibits -  voted ‘Best Vegetarian Restaurant’ in the prestigious Cook Vegetarian  awards - has opened a brand new London outpost: take a bow tibits Bankside.
tibits 2.0 lies within easy walking distance from Southwark tube and is just minutes away from London landmarks such as Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern.
As per the original tibits over in Heddon Street, aka Regent Street’s foodie quarter, the star of the show is the ‘food boat’ featuring over 40 mouthwatering vegan and vegetarian dishes dreamed up by head chef, Brian Mesmain. Standouts from the summer menu include Spelt risotto marinara, Peruvian quinoa salad and Bangkok peanut curry noodles.
Customers are invited to create their own meal -food is priced by weight (£2.50 per 100g at lunchtime and £2.80 per 100g in the evening) meaning you are in complete control of what you eat, how much you eat and how much you pay - and then enjoy their veggie fare in a style. Expect exposed brickwork and piping, living plant walls and graphic tiling designed by Atelier O and Emrys.
The restaurant also has a 10-seated private dining area as well as a garden room should the British weather choose to play ball.Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities: fans of the first London tibits include Hollywood actress Ellen Page, British comedian Alan Davies, Bianca Jagger, Premiership footballer Joey Barton and iconic British designer Pam Hog.
124-128 Southwark St, SE1 0SW; www.tibits.ch

 

Jamaican Garden Terrace at Boisdale of Canary Wharf

 

Image: KH

Never made it to Jamaica? Then make a beeline for Boisdale of Canary Wharf  who have turned their terrace - one of the city’s most popular outdoor spaces - into a beautiful and exotic Jamaica Garden Terrace in association with the Jamaica Tourist Board.
The 130m terrace, which was officially opened by His Excellency Seth George Ramocan, Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom on the 3 July with former England footballer, Sol Campbell, and award-winning saxophonist, Yolanda Brown (who performed the Jamaican National Anthem; in attendance) is reminiscent of the rain forest fringed shores of Port Antonio with lush tropical plants and cascading palm trees.
It’s the perfect setting in which to enjoy a selection of meats (think pork, chicken and specials such as lobster and shrimp) from the jerk spice barbecue washed down with Appleton rum packed Caribbean cocktails and plenty of Jamaican Rum Punch - created especially for the occasion by Boisdale mixologists.
But food and drink is only half of the draw… live DJs promise to keep the party going until late.
In the words of the late, great Bob Marley: “Every little thing gonna be alright.”
5 Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT; https://www.boisdale.co.uk/

 

http://www.justabouttravel.net/2017/07/28/hot-in-the-city%E2%80%A8/

Bye bye Britain

Torturous Brexit negotiations, four terrorist attacks in a month, the Grenfell Tower tragedy, a coalition of chaos… it’s time to escape for the summer, says Kaye Holland

July and August are when most Brits take to the skies in search of the three Ss- that’s sun, sand and sea – but, traditionally, they’re two months when this globe trotter stays put.

I’ve always enjoyed spending the summer in London when the capital empties out and I get to enjoy its brilliant parks, carnivals, theatres, restaurants, art galleries, museums and markets in t-shirt temperatures, without the fear of getting crushed. (http://www.justabouttravel.net/2013/08/09/london-looks-lovely-in-august/)

This year, though, it’s all change. After yet another terrorist attack – this time at a London mosque, on Monday, near Finsbury Park, I figure: aren’t we due a break?

Regardless, many of us appear to be taking one. Over a recent bottle of wine with friends, the usual question was asked as to what peoples’ plans were for the summer?

Those that usually, like me, man the office in August, replied that they were going away. And when I say away, I don’t mean up to Edinburgh for the annual festival or off to Wales to see the relatives. Rather, I’m referring to far flung travel.  

My mate Maz who always stays put for summer (and then escapes somewhere exotic during the cold winter months) is travelling to Colombia. Karen has gone back to Barbados. Others are off to Africa, Ecuador, Russia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives...  Sure, some are high earners but, by and large, they’re average Brits who have simply had enough. They’re Brits who want to be someplace sunny –light amid the literal and metaphorical darkness - where a coalition between the Conservatives and the DUP can’t haunt them. Or as my friend Murray put it: “Right now, I need to be ABB (anywhere but Britain).”

And why not? After all August – aka the height of the school holidays - is a time when your boss won’t really notice whether you’re at work or not.


One caveat: choose your travel companions carefully (http://www.justabouttravel.net/2014/01/20/four-tips-for-successful-group-travel/_): in the aftermath of all the angst and anger back home, you’ll want to avoid arguments while abroad.

We’ll see you in Santorini…

http://bit.ly/2u2BIcc

The things you need to know if you are renting out your home for the summer

Renting isn’t always as simple as it seems

Travelling to Europe may have become a lot more expensive in the aftermath of the EU Referendum but - providing you’re a property owner  - there is one big plus. The fall in the value of the British pound post-Brexit has made Britain much, much more appealing to foreign tourists (flight bookings to the UK rose 7.1 per cent in the first month after the referendum, according to travel analyst Forward Keys), all of whom will need somewhere to stay.

Here’s how to promote your pad…

Sell yourself
Popular locations - here’s looking at the likes of London and Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles - have thousands of featured properties so take time to write an attractive profile of your pad. Include as much information as possible – read house rules, amenities, public transport links and the like – in your listing and upload proper pictures. (If you’re using Airbnb, avail yourself of the brand’s free photography service aimed at showcasing your property in its best light).  
If you’re targeting the American market, be sure to mention quintessentially English features - e.g. Georgian architecture and/or a terrace. Want to tap into the Chinese market? Consider including some Mandarin in your listing. And do some research on tv shows and films that were shot in your area - I always point out that parts of the hugely popular Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone were filmed at Harrow School, close to my apartment - to help market your property.


It’s not all about Airbnb
While Airbnb may dominate the headlines, it isn’t your only option. Boost your rental options by listing your abode on Airbnb competitors including Windmu (a Berlin asked company that offers more than 300,000 places around the planet), 9flats, housetrip.com (part of TripAdvisor) and homeaway.co.uk.
Own or live in a luxurious home? Look to Onefinestay (an upmarket Airbnb). Alternatively if you’re after an experience rather than cold, hard cash, make like Kate Winslet and Cameron D in The Holiday, try a house swap through a house swapping site such as HomeExchange.

Don’t cancel
Unless you really, really have to, don’t cancel a reservation - cancellations show up on your listings and will deter people from proceeding to make a booking. If you want to earn a super-host badge –  a badge of honour for the best renters – you’ll need to keep your commitments.
Think too about the cancellation policy you offer. ‘Strict’ entitles guests to a 50 percent refund unto a week before arrival, ‘moderate’ means a full refund up to five days before while  ‘flexible’ - the most attractive to potential renters - means guests can cancel up to the day before and still get a full refund.

Ask for feedback
If you’re confident your guest had a positive expensive, ask them to write a favourable review which will help you to get further bookings. Keep in mind however that guests typically only have fortnight in which to post a review, so politely give them a gentle nudge if necessary.

Be the best possible host
Of course to ensure that you receive glowing five star reviews, you’ll need to be the best host you can be. JAT’s top tips? Ensure that guest bedrooms and communal areas (think the bathroom, kitchen etc) are clean before each new tenant turns up. Change the sheets and towels and stock up on the likes of loo roll, washing up liquid et al and consider filling the fridge with staples such as milk and bread. When the guest(s) arrive, greet them with a smile, offer them a cup of tea or coffee (they may have had an long journey) and show them around the property. It’s a good idea to put together a welcome pack telling them a little about the home (including WiFi passwords) and surrounding area.

Do your homework
Don’t be caught out by red tape - there are lot of rules surrounding rental properties which hosts need to be au fait with to avoid falling foul of the law. Case in point? Airbnb hosts in London have only been allowed - as of January 2017 - to rent out an entire home for a maximum of 90 days per year in an attempt to stop landlords turning much needed housing in the capital into unofficial hotels.
What’s more, many people think that because they own a property their  free to rent it out but the reality is different. If you have a mortgage against your property, it pays to check with your mortgage provider as to whether there are any hosting restrictions.
Lastly don’t forget to tell the tax man…depending on the amount you make by renting out a room/ home, some of this may need to be declared to HMRC.

10 summer style commandments

Allow Catch All to save you from fashion sins this summer…

 

Don’t mistreat your feet
Warmer weather invariably means that our feet are on display in sandals and such. Sadly some of the feet Catch All has seen, has been enough to make us retch. Our message: don’t mistreat your feet. Think of all those poor, unsuspecting souls who actually have to look at your foot flesh, and factor in regular pedicures.


Ditch the shorts and wear suits
When summer finally rolls around, middle aged men and women alike start dressing like 10-year olds by sporting t-shirts and shorts - in shopping centres, offices et al. Catch All says: don’t forget to dress for the job you have. Only professional athletes and tourists should ever wear shorts in a city.

Invest in a good deodorant
When the weather is balmy, if not down right blistering, you’ll need a good deodorant. You’ll want one that will eliminate the funk without leaving unsightly white marks on your clothes. 

Wear breathable fabrics
By this we mean clothes made from natural fibres - take a bow, cotton (which absorbs moisture and thus is a warm-weather friendly fabric) - as opposed to garments made from sweat inducing synthetic fibres like polyester.


Say no to socks and sandals
Wearing socks with sandals is set to be a big trend for Spring 2017 but it’s not one you should be adopting. Forget what Calvin Klein, Bottega Veneta and Versace are advocating: socks and sandals remains the ultimate fashion faux pas, evoking memories of pensioners on the beach.

Forget the flip flops
Hands up if you have a pair of Havaianas? That’s all of us then. They’ll work for another summer, won’t they? Well yes - but only on the beach. Make no mistake: wearing flip-flops in the city is style suicide.

If it’s bright, it’s right
For most of the year, the UK is like the Bakerloo line - brown and dark - and consequently we’ve forgotten how to wear colour. Summer a time to experiment with shadesyou might not normally consider.

Say hello to sunglasses
Squinting in the sun is not a good look so make sure you purchase at least one pair of good quality sunglasses. The Aviator model – sported by Tom Cruise in Top Gun - was designed in 1937 for American air force pilots and has rightly become a cult classic.

Go to Gap for a classic t-shirt
Since 1999, the Gap ‘Favourite’ has been a staple wardrobe item for all fashion savvy men and women. It’s made from soft, high quality cotton, is available in black, white and grey and oozes effortless chic.

Be prepared
Regardless of how,optimistic the weather forecast is looking, don’t forget that this is the UK so be prepared and always pack a lightweight jacket plus an umbrella in case temperatures suddenly dip or the heavens open.