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West Side Story Returns to London (7th Aug to 22nd Sept, 2013)

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West Side Story is one of the most popular and greatest musicals of modern times and it’s heading back to London in celebration of its 50th anniversary year. The original book was written by Arthur Laurents paired to the fabulous score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the Broadway stage version is thought to have changed the concept of musicals forever and it’s about to happen yet again.

west side story musical book

The original book

The story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the film version set in the fifties having been a massive success back in its day when it hit the silver screen. The show had enjoyed huge success as a Broadway musical and the film version introduced the story to a global audience like never before. With the amazing songs that include Maria, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and many others, today’s theatre version of the musical has been tagged “a masterpiece and musical landmark” of modern times.

Fans will be able to enjoy the musical when it returns to the stage at Sadler’s Wells this autumn for a renewed and revived production of the original show. The dance sequences along with the amazing stage scenery with Joel McKneely’s vibrant stage production, is bound to get a few toes tapping to the well-known and now famous melodies that made the Broadway show and film such a hit with people all over the world.

The musical boasts Jerome Robbins’s original and brilliant choreography which went down a storm the first time around in 2008. The cast of the show are more than adept at proving their technical brilliance with the world renowned composer Donald Chan leading the way as a live orchestra plays the now iconic Bernstein score.

amazing musical

An amazing musical

An Amazing Musical Gloriously Restored

It’s amazing to think that fifty years after the musicals’ first showing in the West End, this now classic theatre musical still draws in the crowds like never before. The story of Romeo and Juliet is known the world over and having been brought into a fifties setting of gritty urban living, has proved that even today, a classic musical still hits the right spot with discerning London audiences.

A Superb Cast To carry it off

The cast is to say the least, a young and exuberant ensemble with names like Lana Gordon adding to the vibrancy of the show in a superb way. There’s a lot going on in this musical, with pulsating songs and dance themes that really do prove that West Side Story is indeed one of the greatest “theatre musicals of all time”.

As you would expect of a venue such as Sadler’s Wells, the production is out of this world with the theme of West Side Story’s gang violence as well as the racial prejudice really hitting much of what is happening in today’s modern world. This is just one of the reasons the storyline is still as relevant today as it was fifty years ago or even in Shakespeare’s day.


In 2008, the musical received rave reviews not only from the many theatre critics but all the people who bought tickets to see the cleverly put together production of the Broadway show. For years audiences have relished the modern day version of Romeo and Juliet. Starting out as a Broadway show and then hitting the silver screen earning it brilliant critical acclaim, the musical promises to keep London audiences entertained when it arrives at Sadler’s Wells this autumn. However, it might be worthwhile booking tickets early if you don’t want to miss out on what promises to be another brilliant production of West Side Story – the show tends to sell out rather quickly even today.


Image credits: Bueno Book Shop and regionalfoodbank

London’s finest afternoon teas

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One quintessentially English thing to enjoy on a visit to London is the full-service afternoon tea. This is less of meal and more of an experience, where diners are served delicate sandwiches and fancy cakes with pots of tea. Although at first glance the cost of an afternoon tea might seem steep, an afternoon tea is time unlimited and if there’s a particular sandwich or cake that takes your fancy, you’re welcome to request as many more as you can manage.

There are some exceptionally fine places in London to enjoy an afternoon tea, ranging from the expensive and prestigious through to the homely and welcoming.


Tea at the Ritz

One of the most famous afternoon teas in the world is that served at the Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly. Known the world over, the Ritz’s teas are served in the hotel’s spectacular Palm Court and include a selection of 17 different types of loose leaf tea and a selection of freshly cut traditional finger sandwiches.

ritz hotel london

The Ritz Hotel in London

Tea at the Ritz is a formal affair. Reservations are always needed and gentlemen are required to wear a shirt and tie at all times. At £45 per person, or £57 with a glass of fine champagne, it’s not a cheap way to have tea by any stretch of the imagination. However, with superb service, enormous prestige and a wonderfully fresh and delicious selection of sandwiches, cakes and teas you won’t be disappointed. For a celebration or event, it really can’t be beaten.


Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

Also in Piccadilly, fans of the afternoon tea will find another fine menu at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. On the fourth floor of Royal Charter epicureans Fortnum and Mason, the Salon was renovated to co-incide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and re-opened by the Queen and her daughter- and granddaughter-in-law the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2012.


tea fortnum mason

Fine tea at Fortnum and Mason

The Royal seal of approval is entirely warranted by the quality of the tea served. The afternoon tea menu is complemented by a full a la carte tea menu stretching to 12 pages and offering a variety of sweet and savoury goodies along with teas, wines and homemade lemonade. At £40 for tea it’s a little less expensive than the Ritz and comes with the cachet of having dined where Her Majesty the Queen has recently taken tea with her family.


The Modern Pantry

An altogether more modest price but no less fine fare is offered at The Modern Pantry on St John’s Square near Farringdon Tube Station offers a delicious selection of home-made sweet and savoury bites to tempt you. Although the setting isn’t as salubrious as the Ritz or as prestigious as Fortnum and Mason, the price tag of £15 for afternoon tea is much more reasonable and allows almost anyone visiting the city to get a feel for this traditional genteel way to spend an afternoon.

With a modern twist on the traditional favourites, green tea scones and triple-decker sandwiches with mouth-watering fillings, you won’t feel short-changed. You’ll also find a range of carefully selected teas from a local supplier to go with your nibbles, which are also made from locally sourced produce wherever possible.



While there are some extremely extravagant and opulent ways to experience afternoon tea in London in fancy surroundings, enjoying the experience doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. If you have a special occasion to celebrate on your trip to the city, choosing one of London’s finest establishments to enjoy your afternoon tea is a great way to mark the day. However, there are plenty of alternatives that allow you to have your cake and eat it.



Image Credits: azeemaazeez and Rosie Tulips

Eating Out in London – 5 Great Restaurants

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London is a bustling city overflowing with activity. Whether you’re there visiting friends, sightseeing, or you live there, it is very likely that you’ll want to eat out at some point.

In a city that has so much going on, where do you begin when you’re looking for a restaurant? Below is a guide to some highly recommended places that you and your friends, family or loved ones, could enjoy eating out at in the big city.


1) Balthazar

This fantastic restaurant has come from the successful brand in New York, USA. A Londoner, who found fabulous success state-side, came back to replica that success in England. The food itself is truly a reverie of France, and a beautiful tribute to Paris.

This 5 star restaurant echoes the same red themed set-up as the New York brand, and produces food that is second to none. If you want delicious French food while you’re in London, then you definitely need to visit Balthazar. It is located in London’s West End, and is the perfect place to go before seeing a show.


2) Koba

Koba is one of London’s best Korean restaurants, so if you’re in search of a scrumptious Asian meal then this where you need to go. It is located within walking distance of 3 Tube stations, but the closest is Goodge Street.


koba restaurant london

Example cuisine at the Koba restaurant, London

The menu offers a wide range of food including stir-fry and barbecued Kalbi beef. The service is absolutely brilliant in Koba, and you will get a friendly, yet professional service along with a scrumptious meal from this unique London restaurant. 


3) Roast Restaurant

Roast restaurant is located just a 2 minute walk from London Bridge Tube station and specialises in great British food. It has won many awards for its classic and tasty dishes and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

If you’re looking for a traditional English, or Scottish, breakfast then this is the place to go. They also serve traditional roast dinners, as well as many other delicious British meals. Roast restaurant is a great place to go for choice; even the wine and cocktail list is very extensive.


roast restaurant borough market

The Roast Restaurant above Borough Market

Opened in 2005, this top class London Bridge based restaurant is definitely a great place to eat out in London, whether you’re just visiting the city, or even if you live there.


4) Koya

Koya is a wonderful Japanese restaurant situated in the heart of England’s capital city. The food is freshly made everyday, and the prices are very affordable and reasonable, especially considering the top quality of every meal. You can get hot and cold food in Koya, so whatever the weather you can pop into this great restaurant for a meal.

Udon dominates the menu, but the slow cooked pork-belly and other great meals are also available and definitely worth trying. If you’re looking for a delectable Japanese dish, Koya is the place to be.


5) The Ledbury      

The modern European menu offered at the Ledbury is absolutely brilliant. Their menu definitely has an interesting flair, but unlike many high end restaurants, you can still recognise and understand what each meal consists of.

It is great value for money with well-sized portions, wonderful surroundings and friendly staff. It’s a great place to pop in for lunch during the week, and you don’t need to book too far in advance, which is also very beneficial – you can even drop in to see if they have space on the day.



All of these wonderful restaurants offer delicious food and top class service. They are definitely great eating out options when you’re in London.


Image Credits: Suzie Depingu and alalsacienne

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