A London lifestyle blog incorporating all things London, food and fitness related under one domain. Written by Kassie Barker-Jones. The blog encompasses everything London has to offer; London isn't just our dream, it's your dream too and we're here to help you experience it in the best possible way.
I’d never considered myself one to have a private chef over - in fact, I actually love hosting and cooking for people. It’s the simple things - I love having a reason to have people round given I live alone, so hosting is a favourite of mine and trying recipes is great fun.
But when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t turn it down and curiosity definitely got the better of me.
La Belle Assiette was founded to make entertaining at home truly enjoyable. They bring talented chefs into your kitchen so you can enjoy hosting dinners, without the stress of cooking or cleaning. The concept of having someone I didn’t know come and cook was a little unnerving - until I met Bonita who was the chef for the evening.
Instantly any reservations I had were gone with Bonita making me feel super comfortable with her friendly nature and chatty approach.
Her menu was entirely vegan, which I try to avoid meat as much as I can so this was great, and was largely a sharing meal with a real focus on produce which was in season, and even from the her allotment providing vegetables that were truly fresh.
We’d discussed the menu beforehand, ensuring neither my guests nor myself had any dietary requirements and Bonita decided on a menu. To start it would be butternut squash, red lentil and coconut soup with a sweetcorn fritter and burnt chilli jam.
We’d then move onto butter beans, burst tomatoes, garlic and black pepper courgettes, gremolata and aioli, cauliflower and red pepper olive oil hummus, watercress and rocket shallots and crumbs and then pitta bread and pickles.
To finish a warm chocolate brownie with boozy blackberries and coconut yoghurt.
All I had to do was set the table, invite the guests and relax. The entire menu was incredible, tasty and worked incredibly well with Bonita talking us through each course, how it was made and answering any questions we had. A personal favourite? Garlic and black pepper courgettes - truly some of the freshest food I have ever eaten with just the most incredible flavours.
When we had finished, and believe me we were all so incredibly full as portion sizes are generous, Bonita had tidied everything away leaving nothing for me to do...a welcomed treat after many times having to tidy up after!
The entire evening, from start to finish, was seamlessly easy, enjoyable and a breath of fresh air. It’s something I’d truly recommend to take away the stress from you so you can enjoy your evening.
La Belle Assiette from £39 to £89 per person, depending on the menu, and provides everything you could need.
It's almost a given that as a Londoner, I seek out rooftop bars like I seek out suitable men. They come few and far between, often with large queues, and sometimes they are more hassle than they are worth.
But the returns are often worth it in the most parts; panoramic views across London, the sunsets are unforgettable and it's usually an undeniable buzz.
Savage Garden recently launched in the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Tower Hill, spanning three bars across the location with different themes, different menus and different vibes.
The Beefeater Gin terrace shows the views of London; the Shard, Tower Bridge, the City skyline. The pretty in pink atmosphere is perfect for those of you seeking the perfect shot - and trust me you'll get it. But views aside, the cocktails are (of course) gin based with the Bloody Queen being a firm favourite.
If you can tear yourself away from the Beefeater Gin bar with the impeccable sun trap with the Instagram worthy views, you can take a walk on the wild side with the other bar which is perfect for every occasion. The bar has a selection of wild cocktails and equally enviable views, as well as food, which focus around Jagermeister.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a fan of a rooftop bar - and even more so in this incredible heat - and Savage Garden might just top it for my favourite sky bar in London. Drinks aside, the food boasts pieces like pork belly, masses of seafood, beef dishes and if you're a vegan or vegetarian, a range of burgers and tasty meat-free snacks.
This really is the place to be this summer, and I don't take that statement lightly.
So now it's time for you to take a walk on the wild side at Savage Garden...
When I was young, naïve and unaware, I used to picture myself living in an insane flat, in Central London, completely on my own by the age of 23 without a care in the world.
I’d watched Bridget Jones Diary over a hundred times, where she has a spacious flat in Borough Market on a seemingly low budget, and people moaning about London being expensive must be mad.
It’s funny because when you’re young, you’ve really no concept of money at all and these things seem completely possible. In films, we’ve seen the likes of BJ be able to afford to live in a flat which in reality would be about £3,000 per month to rent, or across the pond, Carrie Bradshaw lives in an incredible apartment in Manhattan on a writers budget…
The reality, both in London and across the pond, is that the most viable option for people moving to the city is having a flat share.
I moved when I was 19 to a city I didn’t know, with no job and little stability – and it was finding the perfect place which gave me a level of stability. It was also a case that I had initially moved with a boyfriend so when I found myself in this amazing city, I actually had no friends in London. They were still at home so it wasn’t going to be a case of moving in with my friends from home when things took a turn for the worst and I found myself needing to move out.
But eventually, I moved into a great place in Tooting Bec with two complete strangers thinking we’d rarely talk, it would be marginally uncomfortable and perhaps, at times, awkward. I had no experience in the house share world... but after all, you’re living with strangers – right?
In fact – it couldn’t have been more different. I moved in with two people who I didn’t know from someone walking down the road, and weirdly they quickly became my lifelines in a city that can be so lonely.
These two flatmates quickly became two friends, two friends quickly became a friendship group of people all across London from different walks of life. I met people who worked in large corporations, people who were writers, freelancers, actors, singers…and it was amazing, eye-opening and just incredibly welcoming.
Weekday nights were spent binge watching anything from Love Island to Black Mirror, weekends were spent hosting dinner parties or wine & cheese nights and the gaps in between were spent chilling with each other, and eventually with the friends I’d made through these people.
In fact, my best friend is a friend of my former housemate’s best friend and since we met at a house party, which essentially was me queuing for the toilet to be sick after having too much lethal punch and dragging her in with me despite not really knowing her, we’ve been great friends and I fully expect to be friends for life.
Being part of a house share was actually miles from the hell I’d imagine, and actually became the first time in London I’d felt “at home away from home”. They were the people there for you if you’d been through yet another fuck boy, the people who you can go to the local with to do a pub quiz or go for a run with, the ones you can have a quick dinner with after a particularly stressful day.
In fact when I found out my ex had cheated on me, the first thing I did was go upstairs, wake up my housemate and cry to him. Because when you're in a flat share, there is always someone there.
And that evening, both of my housemates put their plans on hold in order for us all to go out to the local pub. It's funny because you meet these strangers, you meet their families (I have met the families of all of my previous housemates) and their friends, and some how they just become part of your life, and within time it becomes hard to remember what life was like without these people.
And whilst now, I live on my own and love it, I have days where I miss coming home to people, having a laugh and the spontaneous nights out. I have days where I miss all the fun of having a sleepover, but the benefit of having your own space.
It is truly one of the best experiences – and it’s not just me that thinks this, nor is my experience a singular one. And I can also appreciate that some aren't great - but on the whole they are.
In a conversation recently, we discussed house shares and what the benefits are...
"Not only do you always have someone with shampoo or body wash if you run out, but you also always have someone to natter to or completely ignore"
But it doesn't just whittle down to that. A house share for me really was the place I found a home away from home, a family of strangers and the fundamentals behind 80% of my friendships.
So whilst they may leave dirty dishes occasionally, use the washing machine when you want to or use your milk - you could end up making a friend for life, and that's worth every penny.
This post was sponsored by Ideal Flatmate. Ideal Flatmate is a site which helps you find the perfect flatmate for you, in a seemingly hard process, with the belief that who you live with is more important than simply where you live.
I've lived in London just over three years and with each year that passes I find myself becoming a little more complacent with my surroundings, not appreciating the truly spectacular settings that I have the opportunity to walk past each and every day.
I see the London Eye every day, pass Big Ben on a weekly basis, sit in Hyde Park every other weekend without a true appreciation for just how incredibly lucky I am to do this. Without remembering that people travel across the world to do simply that just as I do when I travel.
But how do you give yourself the chance to truly appreciate London?
For months I have been on about doing a London bus tour, joking with friends about doing an open roof tour with drinks (which, sadly, is prohibited on most I found out) for each landmark site we see.
As a Londoner, by nature we joke about the tourists, if not regularly moan, and avoid doing the things that appreciate just why this city is so great. We pay £40 for two cocktails to admire the views of said landmarks, maybe for one photo, or a moment of appreciation, but actually avoid properly taking it in. Bus tours of cities, by nature of what they are, fall into the category of tourists attractions.
I recently headed along to a MegaTours event to, in many ways, force myself to appreciate the city I proclaim to love yet spend very little time appreciating.
The tour conveniently fell on a day where is was 28+ degrees - and I am not joking when I say London in the sun beats any holiday location for me. I love it.
The tour lasted around 2 hours and included sights from London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Piccadilly Circus. If you're in London for a short time, it truly is the perfect way to see the city.
But even if, like me, you live here it's great to see your city without the stress of spending the whole time pushing through tourists, or being unable to see the landmarks due to the masses of people.
Tours start at £1 - yes, I am being serious - and you can book them HERE
If you want to see London in a completely different way, this is definitely the way - and trust me I never thought I'd promote a tourist attraction!