If you’re going to be single at Valentines Day, what better place to be than London?

I’ll be honest, I’m not overly fussed about Valentines, but there are so many fun events coming up over the next couple of weeks that I may as well get into the spirit of things! And I’m not talking overpriced romantic dinners surrounded by starry eyed couples, haha!

So here are my top five picks of the anti (or just not quite so traditional) Valentines events going on this year. You’ll most likely find me at a couple of them…

Valentine’s Extreme Garnishing

You know I like my weird and wonderful food events by now, right? Well The Robin Collective put on the most interesting pop-ups, from re-creating the Eiffel Tower out of toast to making miniature gardens from coconut grass and brownie soil.

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I’m super excited to be joining them for their Valentine’s workshop – Extreme Garnishing at The Hoxton in Shoreditch. Not entirely sure what to expect, but I hear there will be molecular techniques, love potions and even cooking with explosives! I can’t wait!

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Extreme Garnishing is happening on Tuesday 16th February and tickets are selling like hot cakes, so pick one up for £20 from Design My Night.

If you’re intrigued by the toast, there’s another toast build coming up – look at their upcoming events here. Oh, and I’m also keen to try some of their Medicinal Marshmallows

Blindfold Date

If you’re British, and unless you’re way too young for me anyway, there’s no way you won’t know what Blind Date is (and I hear it’s making a comeback!). On Wednesday 10th February (so great timing for you to actually make plans for V Day at the weekend if they manage to match you up with Mr/Miss Right), It’s Unknown will be hosting a gameshow type night at Concrete in Shoreditch.

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As well as one lucky contestant being blindfolded on stage to ask questions of three potential soulmates, there will be plenty of other chances to find love – including tombolas of love (?), love shacks and slow dance sessions (that’s my nightmare, right there!)…

I’ll be at Blindfold Date with a a few hot girl friends, so get involved! Tickets are £6 advance from Design My Night.

Psst… It’s Unknown have plenty more cool events up their sleeves – sticking with the love theme there’s Musical Bingo’s Heart Make Hotel later this month.

The Bloody Valentine Cabin

If you’ve seen my bucket list, you’ll know I’m dying to try out one of the cabins at York & Albany in Camden – and obviously a horror themed version is ideal! From 11th to 14th February, the cabins are decked out in blood splatter, with screenings of horror movies and themed cocktails and snack platters. Prices start at £30 per person (for snack platters and a cocktail), but there is a minimum spend of £120 per cabin for groups of 4 or less (£180 on Friday and Saturday).

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You can book a cabin by emailing experiences@gordonramsay.com or for larger groups, you can book on Design My Night.

Eat Your Heart Out

I love a good supper club, and you know when it’s being held at House of Vans in Waterloo it’s going to be a fun one! With mischieviously named dishes like ‘Cupid’s a Cock-tail’ and ‘Sour Grapes’, their anti-Valentines supper club is in conjunction with Grub Club, so you can take it as a given that the food is going to be good.

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Dinner is on Saturday 12th February, and tickets are £30 each, but currently YPlan have a great deal with tickets at £25.50 (also, you can save another £5 using my code LEVANS88 ).

Or, if brunch is more your thing, House of Vans and Grub Club are holding an anti-Valentines part 2 on the day itself, with their Boozy Bill Murray Brunch – a Bill Murray double bill, bellinis, Bloody Mary’s (or, erm, ‘Bloody Murrays’), unlimited waffles and pancakes and a whole load of American style sharing dishes. Pretty good for £20.

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House of Vans also have a couple of anti-Valentines double bills (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Lars & The Real Girl or Before Sunrise/Her) and a cute card making workshop.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Nothing says anti-Valentines like preserving a heart and putting it in a jar, right? Not one for the faint at heart, a couple of places are holding macabre classes in pickling lamb hearts and placing them in jars. Has anyone else noticed that taxidermy is so in right now? I don’t really get it, but anyway…

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The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch (which makes an appearance on my bucket list for its Brothers Grimm themed rooftop) is holding their workshop on their rooftop terrace on Saturday 6th February for £55 (or £100 for a couple). Tickets available here.

Or The British Academy of Taxidermy have two sessions on actual Valentines Day priced at £50 each (or £70 for a couple) at the Islington Arts Factory. Tickets available here.

Dirty Lovin’

Yes this is number 6, and I know, it isn’t exactly a Valentines alternative but I wanted to give it a mention. The Kensington branch of one of my favourites, Dirty Bones (you can see a review post here) has a Valentines Tasting Menu night on February 14th, featuring some brand new dishes – for £25 you get two courses, sides and a cocktail.

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Also, from 12th to 14th February, the to die for Banana Toblerone-tella Waffles are available all day, not just for brunch at both Dirty Bones Kensington and Carnaby.

So there you have them, my top picks. I’d love to hear what other single people get up to!

L xx

All photos from the relevant establishments/PRs.

So my final gig of the year was one of my highlights of the year – musically at least.

You know you have that band that are just so incredible live, so you go to all their shows? Okay, I have a few (BMTH and Slipknot being obvious ones!) but a couple of years back that band was Your Demise. And then they were no more. Bummer.

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But on Friday night they reformed to perform at The Ghost Inside Benefit Show at Camden Underworld. If you’re a reader of my blog, chances are we have similar taste in music, so you won’t have missed the fact that the members of The Ghost Inside were involved in a pretty horrific bus crash last month, in which the drivers of both vehicles passed away. The band themselves are stable but in a very bad state and are facing huge medical bills.

It’s actually lovely to see people rallying around to help the cause. There have been a couple of benefit shows, other bands have made donations, and Epitaph are passing on all profits from the sale of The Ghost Insides music directly to the band (so get buying their records!). There’s also a hugely successful Go Fund Me if anyone wants to donate.

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The benefit show was headlined by You Me At Six, with tickets on sale for a minimum donation of £20. Underworld is a ridiculously small venue for a band this size, so predictably tickets sold out pretty quickly! Now I’ll be honest, I know very little YMA6, but I really, really enjoyed their performance. Josh Francesci is an excellent front man and I think I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to see the band perform such an intimate show.

yma6

It was obviously Your Demise that I was there for (musically – although I would have tried for a ticket even if they hadn’t been playing, because it’s for a great cause) and they didn’t disappoint. They still have that great energy and crowd interaction, and Ed was hanging from the ceiling at points just like back in the good old days! There was a little entertaining moment when he had to check his phone to help with lyrics he’d forgotten, but that didn’t spoil things!yd

It was a bit of an odd combination of bands I think, although with it being a benefit show it didn’t really matter. But you could clearly see who was there for YD and who were there for YMA6!

I can’t not mention Deaf Havana, who opened the show. I’m a fan of the band, I find them quite chilled and I’ve seen them perform a lot around little West London venues over the last few years. The crowd was a little sparse for their performance (I think a lot of people who were coming for YMA6 didn’t arrive til a bit later) but there was such a great vibe and everyone got really involved. Deaf Havana have been consistently good each time I’ve seen them, but this time they raised the bar a little.

deafhavana

It was such a fun night, and I really hope the money raised helped a little toward helping The Ghost Inside.

L xx

All photos my own.

It’s been quite a busy week, so this is a packed post! You know what it’s like coming up to Christmas, things get a little bit hectic…

Xmas at MeatLiquor

Monday evening I popped down to MeatLiquor in Brighton to check out their Christmas menu – it was all delicious with a unique twist – exactly what I’d expect from the chain. Obviously this gets its own post!

meatliquor

Kraken Rum Think Ink Pines

On Tuesday I went along to the launch party for Think Ink Pines, the Worlds first all black Christmas tree shop, a pop up from Kraken Rum in Shoreditch, and had an ace time! You can read all about it here.

krakenhunter

Three Mobile Christmas Party

I love the team at Three and I have a December birthday, so I was over the moon to be invited to the launch of their new campaign – Merry Birthday at The Hoxton in Holborn. I will be posting about this soon, but I’m holding it back for my actual birthday next Sunday, haha!

Here’s a picture of the amazing cake they had, which you’ll find out more about soon! threecake

Clash Social with Three Mobile

On Thursday I went along with Three to the launch night of Clash Social, who had partnered with Horizons/Gowelion (BBC Cymru Wales) for a Welsh music showcase at The Dead Dolls Club in Peckham. I was so impressed with some of the acts, and I can’t wait to tell you about them in detail!

There was also a free Patrón tequila bar, so of course it was a good night!

patron

The Ghost Inside Benefit Show 

You’re more than likely to have heard that the band The Ghost Inside are in a pretty bad way, and this gig, held at the Underworld in Camden was put on to raise money to help with their medical bills. It was such a fantastic night and such a small venue for headliner You Me At Six. Also playing were Deaf Havana and Your Demise – the latter haven’t toured in as long as I can remember and came together to perform as a one off again for the cause. You can read more here.

underworld

Moleculart 2015

This one’s a bit of a curveball. I spent my Saturday night at the Bargehouse on South Bank at an interactive art exhibition hosted by Lollipop and ABQ London (you may remember them from the Breaking Bad pop up bar I wrote about here). It was…. interesting. More about this coming soon.

moleculart

So that was my week, next week should be a bit quieter!

L xx

People always ask me what I enjoy most about blogging – they usually expect ‘free stuff’ to be the answer. I’m not going to lie, you do get a fair few products thrown your way, but for me it’s the social side that I love. I’ve had so many opportunities to meet people and attend events and enjoy experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

roundhouse3

A recent last minute Thursday night out with Three Mobile was the perfect example. It was my first time working with the brand, and I really hope to again, as I had so much fun! Three had arranged a little tour of Camden Roundhouse for us with the Joe Strummer Foundation, followed by a private gig at The Monarch with Lyza Jane and Bless. Oh and some food and too many Desperados, haha! Sounds like my kind of event, right?

This is going to be a bit of a long post I’m afraid, as I have so much to say about the evening!

The Joe Strummer Foundation

Okay, first things first – if you aren’t sure who Joe Strummer is, he’s a British musician most well known for being the co-founder, rhythm guitarist, lyricist and lead vocalist of the Clash. Shortly after his death in 2002, the Joe Strummer Foundation (also known as Strummerville), a non-profit organisation, was established by his wife, Lucinda Garland, with the main purpose to reflect Joe’s contribution to music by supporting aspiring musicians and funding projects worldwide which create social mobility through music. You can read a little more about their objectives here.

Strummerville have so many interesting projects worldwide, and have some cool events – including a couple of gigs coming up in collaboration with Dr Martens (the London date is headlined by a band I love, Bury Tomorrow).

Roundhouse Studios

As you can imagine, I’ve been to the Roundhouse more times than I can remember (most recently to see One Direction and Little Mix at the Apple Music Festival which you can read about here).

1dfront

But I didn’t know that the Roundhouse isn’t just a music venue – it also comprises of the Paul Hamlyn Roundhouse Studios, a creative space for young people. You can read more about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and their contribution to the venue here.

Now, I don’t think we could have a better guide for our tour of the Roundhouse Studios than Strummerville really, as their relationship with the venue goes back almost ten years, when the charity contributed funds to the redevelopment of the Roundhouse. Strummerville even have their own rehearsal room within the studios for their younger beneficiary bands to use. It’s a great little room, really inspiring, with original Joe Strummer lyrics and sketchings on the walls, as well as doodles by other bands.

strummerville roundhouse studios

strummerville roundhouse studios

Strummerville aren’t the only ones with their own rehearsal rooms, we also saw rooms sponsored by Nandos and Gibson, among others.

roundhouse studios nandos

roundhouse studios gibson

One room I particularly loved was a circular performance space, which you reach through slightly creepy tunnel like corridors.

tunnel

If you stand right in the centre of the room, it does some crazy things to the acoustics!

roundhouse studios

At the time of our visit, we almost interrupted a spoken word group rehearsal – did you know that the studios aren’t just used for music, but for theatre, circus, and spoken word as well? Oh and there’s even a TV recording studio sponsored by Bloomberg…

roundhouse studios bloomberg

We also found out a little bit about the venues history – I don’t know about you, but I love finding out stuff like this. Built in 1847 to be used as a railway repair shed, the Roundhouse was later used as a liquor warehouse for Gilbey’s Gin before becoming an arts centre in 1960. It actually closed in 1983, and sat derelict for a while before being bought by The Norman Trust in 1996 with the intention of giving it a new lease of life. Later, in 2000 Sir Torquil Norman CBE founded The Roundhouse Trust. You can read more about the history here.

It really was a fun, interesting tour, and it’s so nice to see so many organisations taking such an active role in helping inspire and give opportunities to the next generation, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds who would otherwise be unable to develop their skills. Having previously dated someone in a fledgling band, I know how awkward and expensive finding rehearsal and recording space can be, and I was therefore really impressed how reasonable the rates are for Roundhouse Studios, particularly given its location. If you’re under 25 in London, definitely check them out!

roundhouse studios

The Music

After our tour of Roundhouse Studios, we were taken down the road to The Monarch, for a private acoustic performance from two of Strummervilles up and coming talents – Lyza Jane and Bless.

lyza2

Watching Lyza Jane perform, a girl crush quickly developed! I mean, look at her – she’s just so effortlessly cool. I loved her outfit, which featured rings from The Great Frog and a tshirt from her own Etsy store, Pantsu & Pantsu (check it out, it’s a super cute range of embroidered cotton pieces, some with pom poms!). She was so lovely to chat to as well.

Anyway, her music! Lyza has a beautiful voice, you can take a look at her videos on her YouTube channel. Before branching out on her own, Lyza, was a backing singer for the band Alabama 3, and performed with them at Glastonbury. Lyza has written and produced her own music, predominantly electronica, and usually heavier than her performance for the evening which was very singer songwriter. Her most recent EP, Milk Teeth, is out now.

lyza

Next up were Bless – a group of London guys who formed after having previously been members of two seperate bands. Their sound was very retro rock’n’roll – again not my usual thing but enjoyable nonetheless. They were a great bunch of guys and stayed for a few drinks to talk politics, songwriting influences and veganism.

bless

Bless are releasing their debut EP, Music Comes First (which they kindly gave me a copy of) on 11th December – and on the same night they’ll be back performing at The Monarch. If you find yourself at a loose end near Camden that evening, give them a go, they’re great fun!

You can check Bless out on their YouTube channel.

The Phone

You’re possibly wondering what Three have to do with this? Well, they kindly made the evening happen – and kindly gave me a Samsung S6 Edge which I could take my photographs of the evening on.

phone

Photo by Becca Talbot

Have you noticed how much better my photos are than when taken with my usual (and in need of replacement!) iPhone? I’ve been a loyal iPhone user since they came out years and years ago, so getting used to an Android was a bit odd, but it was really user friendly, so I guess it’s time for a change! You can find out more about Samsung handsets here at the Three Samsung Hub.

Now, I’ve also been a loyal O2 user for years (mainly for O2 Priority tickets) so it was interesting to try out a new network. I’m always losing signal and 3G usually with my current network, and I can tell you that I usually do at the Roundhouse. But with Three I was able to upload to my Instagram super speedily, I was so impressed!

Three have recently enhanced their network with new technology they’ve named 4G Super-Voice to tackle indoor blackspots. Now I’m no tech expert but I believe at the moment you need a compatible handset to use 4G Super-Voice but they’re due to roll it out to more handsets soon. And did you know that they were voted most reliable UK network this year by YouGov?

Another reason I want to move over to Three is for my regular travelling abroad – they’re the only network with no roaming charge! You’ve got yourself a convert Three, I can’t wait for my current contract to expire so I can change to your network!

The Food

You’ll know by now how much I love my food by now right? So I have to give a little mention of the delicious steak and cheese sandwich I ate at The Monarch!

sandwich

Well, that’s it from me for now, so if you’ve reached the end of this post thank you for persevering! And thank you Three for a wonderful evening!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

So the first music event I’m posting about on Girl At The Rock Show is One Direction and Little Mix, haha! But don’t worry, I’m not about to change to Girl At The Pop Show just yet (and trust me, I have plenty of amazing heavier events coming up in future posts – including an American festival roadtrip!).

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Thanks to YPlan, myself and Luisa-Christie of Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat had the opportunity to attend the Apple Music Festival at Camden Roundhouse for what was possibly their most sought after show.

I’ve never been lucky enough to attend what was formerly the iTunes Festival before. I’ve always entered to win tickets but have never been successful. Typically, the time I get to go, it’s for an artist I’m not into, and don’t know much of! But if you’re going to broaden your horizons into the world of pop, what better way to do it than by seeing the world’s biggest boy band? (I think that’s pretty safe to say they are, right?)

1dfront

The evening started with a performance from Little Mix. I’m not keen on their music if I’m honest, but the girls put on a great show. I really like how individual they are, while still managing to gel together as a group. I also hadn’t realised how truly beautiful Perrie Edwards is! She’s got me thinking maybe I should go back to my natural dark blonde for a bit…

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When One Direction came on, the crowd didn’t go as crazy as I expected. I suppose it made sense, as they were an audience of ticket winners rather than One Direction fans. So I saw no fainting, and only a little high pitched squealing (typically from the woman right behind me!). In fact, the people around me seemed more excited at the presence of YouTuber Alfie Deyes in the audience.

Again, One Direction’s music isn’t my thing, however I liked a couple of their more singer songwriter style songs. And the boys put on a good show – the little blonde one (Niall?) had an incredible voice, and it was nice to see him playing the guitar a bit. Harry Styles, as expected, stole the show – but more for his audience interaction and prancing around the stage rather than for his performance.

1d

I had a good evening – mostly because of how excited Luisa was! And I’m glad I went – it was a good experience!

There are a couple more pop shows on my bucket list – I have no shame in admitting my love for Taylor Swift, and Britney is an icon for my generation!

L xx

All (poor quality iPhone) photos my own.

Pssst… If you aren’t already signed up for YPlan – use my code LEVANS88 for £5 credit towards your first purchase. (FYI: For everyone who uses my code I receive £2 in credit – which will help me bring more blog posts about awesome events to you!)