Events, treatments, activities all get featured here, in the lifestyle section.

Merge Festival, Bankside

Last week I headed on over to check out what was going on at Merge Festival – an annual arts, music and performance festival held in Bankside.

Merge Festival BanksideMerge Festival BanksideMerge Festival Bankside

It’s on until the 4th of June, so you’ve got a few days left to catch live music and performances throughout the neighbourhood. The weather was absolutely stunning, so we managed to catch some of the live music on the Thames Clipper, but you can still catch some of the acts at Borough Market, or at Citizen M.

Merge Festival Bankside

We also made it to Drive Dead Slow, which is the trippiest bumper car experience I’ve ever experienced – personality tests and all. I’ve popped down the rest of the events until the 4th below – get yourself down there before it’s over!

Merge Festival BanksideMerge Festival BanksideMerge Festival Bankside

12th May – 4th June – Drive Dead Slow – the ultimate dodgem experience

What: The world’s first artist-designer bumper car arena: a collective of visual, sound and light artists have each adapted a 1960s Supercar to give each vehicle a personality to match your mood. Career around a disused fire station and see which car/ personality you’ve chosen!

Merge Festival BanksideMerge Festival BanksideMerge Festival Bankside

Artists include: Marcus Lyall, Bompas & Parr, Jimmy Cauty, Luke Morgan, Ed Baxter, Tony Pletts and Dave Cranmer.

Where: Southwark Fire Brigade, Southwark Bridge Road (entrance on Sawyer Street), SE1 0EG

When: 12th May – 4th June (ongoing through MERGE), 12:00 – 19:00 daily (until 22:00 on Friday nights)

Cost: Free from 12:00 – 16:00, £5 after

Merge Festival Bankside

12th May – 4th June – Candy Chang Confessions – Hilton London Bankside

What: A top-secret confession booth set up by Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang. Divulge your innermost thoughts, facts and quirks and write whatever you’d like on a wooden plaque, and leave behind anonymously. Throughout the festival, a gallery of these hanging confessions will be created outside the booths where you can delve into others’ thoughts – some may be shocking and some might show we are not alone in our quirks! 

Where: Outside Hilton Bankside, Prices Street, SE1 0UG

When: 12th May – 4th June, all day, every day

Cost: Free

12th May – 4th June – Acoustic Buskers at Borough Market

What: Perk up your lunch break with live acoustic sessions at Borough Market, featuring local musicians Tim Newman, Lucy May Walker, Alex Monk and Marku Michelucci.

Where: Market Hall at Borough Market, 2 – 4 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL

When: Monday – Wednesday during festival, 12:00 – 14:00

Cost: Free

12th May – 4th June – Skyline Sessions at Mondrian London

What: Head to Mondrian’s recently revamped skyline bar, Rumpus Rooms, for live acoustic music and excellent drinks throughout MERGE.

Where: Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD

When: Every Wednesday during the festival, from 19:00

Cost: Free to enter

12th May – 4th June – Jonny Drop at Boro Bistro

What: Adding extra musical flair to the MERGE line-up are Boro Bistro’s Thursday night DJ sessions, playing Latin, Jazz and Soul on vinyl.

Where: Boro Bistro, 6 – 10 Borough High Street, SE1 9QQ

When: Every Thursday during the festival, from 19:00

Cost: Free

12th May – 4th June – Live music at Union Street Café

What: A celebration of the humble olive at Union Street Café’s Olive Grove. Drink and dine under an olive tree canopy and sip on martini cocktails whilst enjoying live music.

Where: Union Street Café, 47 – 51 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BS

When: Every Friday during the festival, from 20:00

Cost: £25 for four small plates and a cocktail (quote MERGE Bankside)

12th May – 4th June – Sunday Sessions at Bedales

What: A weekly Sunday musical experience at the legendary Borough Market bar.

Where: Bedales, Borough Market, 5 Bedal Street, SE1 9AL

When: Every Sunday during the festival (excluding 14th May), from 18:00

Cost: Free

15th May – 3rd June – ‘This is Not Culturally Significant’ at Bunker Theatre

What: A darkly comic one-man show that explores various characters’ eccentricities. Performed entirely nude, it’s both uncomfortable and mesmerising.

Where: Bunker Theatre, 53A Southwark Street, SE1 1RU

When: 15th May – 3rd June, 20:00

Cost: Tickets start at £10

24th May –  4th June – Patrick Tresset’s Machine Studies

What: Immerse yourself in a classroom of 20 robot pupils, each with a distinct personality. Watch how they respond to English, maths, science and art lessons. In another room, have your portrait drawn by a robot as they now turn their gaze on you.

Where: Platform Southwark, 1 Joan Street

When: 24th May – 4th June, Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 19:00

Cost: Free, pre-book a portrait drawing at mergefestival.co.uk

31st May – 2nd June – Caravan Shorts

What: A 15-minute theatre production from a caravan, produced by Robert Linde. Nine audience members at a time can experience one of eight short dramas in this intimate and exciting setting. The caravan will move locations throughout the Bankside area over the course of the festival.

Where: Flat Iron Square (Union Street)

When: 31st May – 2nd June, 12:00 – 14:00, 17:00 – 19:00

Cost: Free

1st June – Electronic DJ at citizenM

What: citizenM gets into the MERGE spirit with a special electronic DJ night.

Where: citizenM, 20 Lavington Street, SE1 0NZ

When: 1st June, 17:00 – 19:00

Cost: Free

4th June – Super Glad at the Union Theatre – musicians

What: Music nights return to showcase local talent at this Bankside institution, paying homage to legendary pub ‘The Gladstone’s Sunday sessions. The day will be jam-packed with live music and drinks, featuring Billy Bones, The Swamp Stomp String Band and Vinyl DJs.

Where: Union Theatre, Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR

When: 4th June, 18:00 – 22:30

Cost: Free

More details on the festival, now in its seventh year, can be found at mergefestival.co.uk, as well as links to purchase any tickets.

Merge Bankside is a festival curated by Illuminate Productions, created in collaboration with Better Bankside, a Business Improvement District dedicated to making Bankside a place to work, live, and visit. It is also supported by Tate Modern.

Have you made it down to Merge yet? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Yoga in the Shard

Last weekend I did yoga 1,016 ft up – Europe’s highest yoga class.

Yoga in the shardYoga in the shard

One thing I’ve started realising since I’ve been blogging is that it’s forced me to push myself into doing things I wouldn’t have necessarily done before, like the zipline course I did in Wales. While I won’t be skydiving anytime soon, I feel a lot more comfortable being high up, which is an unexpected (but lovely) benefit.

I did the 8am class on a Saturday, which meant we were in the View from the Shard, rather than the one on the 24th floor. On hotter days the class apparently takes place in the open air bit on level 72, but as it was still chilly we were in an enclosed room one level down.

Yoga in the shardYoga in the shard

It’s almost worth it for the panoramic views of London alone.

Yoga in the shardYoga in the shard

We made sure we were the first ones in, so I managed to snag myself the mat (there’s no need to bring your own) by the window. While the views were amazing, I found doing yoga so high up quite challenging – being so high up made me go off-balance quite a bit more than usual.

Yoga in the shardYoga in the shard

The class is an hour long, and while I really enjoyed my time up there I did find the sound system very static-y which detracted from an otherwise fantastic experience. Once the class is up you’re allowed to take all the pictures you want, and wander around the View, so it’s definitely worth the cost, especially if you consider that an advance adult ticket to the view is £25.95.

Yoga in the shardYoga in the shard

The Yogasphere class at the top of the shard is £45 per person – and for every person who attends a class, Yogasphere plants 10 trees, which is great (and makes it an even better deal).

You can find out more details about the class here.

Have you been to yoga in the Shard? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Paperless Post

I love getting post.

Paperless Post

Not bills, obviously, but there’s something so exciting about a handwritten letter or postcard that feels so thoughtful. All the actions that go into the ritual of sending a birthday card are so deliberate that it just gives it so much more emotion than a text message or a post on your Facebook wall. A friend of mine sends me a handmade birthday card every year, and I look forward to it each time.

I wish I could be as organised and have it put together as much as she does – which is why I love Paperless Post. It’s the best of both worlds – beautifully designed and elegant, they have a wide range of online cards for every occasion. I usually end up sending thank you emails this way – it’s a little bit more special than a regular email, and they also partner with some of my favourite stationery designers like Kate Spade and the Rifle Paper Co.

Paperless Post

 

Paperless Post

One of my favourite things about them is that for many of the designs you can also get printed versions to accompany the digital ones, making it perfect for party invitations in particular.

Paperless Post

Have you ever tried Paperless Post? What are your thoughts? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

 

America After the Fall at the Royal Academy

I admit that the initial appeal of America After the Fall, the Royal Academy’s exhibition on American Paintings from the 1930s came from American Gothic.

America After the Fall at the Royal Academy of ArtsAmerica After the Fall at the Royal Academy of Arts

It’s the first time its left the States, and one that I’ve always wanted to see in person, so it didn’t disappoint.

America After the Fall at the Royal Academy of ArtsAmerica After the Fall at the Royal Academy of Arts

But America After the Fall is so much more than American Gothic – with pieces by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and Jackson Pollock, it’s a fascinating look at an era in which America was so in flux. The most haunting for me was a painting called American Justice by Joe Jones – a powerful commentary about race and racism in America, and all the more heartbreaking given the current political climate.

America After the Fall at the Royal Academy of ArtsAmerica After the Fall at the Royal Academy of Arts

Heartbreaking, moving, and very current and relevant, despite the decades between then and now – I also found it somewhat inspirational, because we can at least hope that despite everything going on politically, we might be able to get some great art out of it.

America After the Fall is on until the 4th of June.

Did you get to the exhibition? What were your thoughts? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Hens with Pens

A few weeks ago the lovely ladies behind Hens with Pens, Penny and Mona, invited me down to one of their life drawing events.

Hens with Pens

I absolutely love the concept behind Hens with Pens, who offer life drawing classes for hen parties throughout the UK. I dragged along my friend, who was acting as hen for the evening. Life drawing is something that I’ve always been intrigued about, but never managed to get myself to, so I really enjoyed my night – and being guided by a tutor was so much fun, too.

Hens with PensHens with Pens


My friend was a total trooper, and we had a great time – although I won’t be pursuing a career in art anytime soon, as my skills were abysmal!

Hens with PensHens with PensHens with Pens

For £300, ten hens get the model and the tutor for 1.5 hours, along with drawing materials, berets, and moustaches. While we were there we also had some delicious vegan canapes as well, and I haven’t had that much fun in ages – I thoroughly recommend it! The team are incredibly passionate about what they do, and it was infectious – they were absolutely lovely as well.

Have you ever done life drawing? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!