The Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram

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Instagram is still a wonderful place to hang out. Despite the negativity and influencer backlash that was doing the round earlier this year. I've really tried to turn my account into a place for positivity. It also gives me a chance to keep abreast of people’s lives that I would otherwise struggle to keep in touch with.

I'm going to be in Bali for a couple more days then it's back to blighty. Which I have missed. London has everything. It's home and I can't wait to see Charlie and the folks again. I've made a list of some London centric Instagram accounts that act as cosy reminders. Almost like love notes in my lunch box.

Here are some of the Best London-Centric Content Creators on Instagram.

ALEX COCKWILL

(Images above) Alex is an occasional engineer and has international imagery from New York, Sweden and soon Hong Kong and Sydney. You can check out his Instagram grid here.

There is something very gritty and urban about Alex's work. You can almost taste London through the photos. 

London Tip #1

You should definitely head over to the ArcelorMittal Orbit in East London. The area near Stratford has been rejuvenated since the London Olympics in 2012. A great place to shop, eat and abseil. 

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LONDON 

Simply @London. Wow there is a guy that got in there quick with the Instagram handles. With over 2.2 million followers it's going to be top of most searches. It's an Editorial Platform & Creative Agency and for your chance to be featured you can tag #ThisIsLondon.

London Tip #2

If you're coming to London and you so happen to be a James Bond fan. There are numerous James Bond locations in and around London. I've posted a blog about those here.

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UK SHOOTERS 

They shoot a lot around the UK, not exclusive to London but their London content is sublime. And through the prism of UK Shooters its highly distinguishable. With regular meet ups it's a great community spirit. Tag #uk_shooters and shop the merchandise here.

London Tip #3

If you're in town for a few days, maybe your hotel doesn't have a gym but you want to keep your fitness levels up, then check out KOBOX gym. I am an ambassador for the club, very proud of that. You can find them on Baker Street, The City and Kings Road, Chelsea. I've included them in my blog why I love London which you can check out here.

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BEN VISUALS

The shame of it is Ben hasn't posted for a while. Come back Ben!! However, there are 156 posts on his feed and they're all a mini slice of escapism. Shot through obscure frames, with art nouveau eye, disruptive picture plains. I like this guy, shot on a Canon, only 16 apparently.

London Tip #4

You might be looking to get some nice scenic shots along the canals. The Thames isn't the most picturesque of city rivers. This isn't Lucerne you know. But I've mapped out a few nice canal walks where I've taken Charlie before. You can check out that blog here.

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SHOTS DR

The infamous yet elusive Damien Rivoire. Specialises in London's streets and towers. With a penchant for the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. All taken with a Nikon D3200. 

London Tip #5

Coming to London and need a trim? I recommend Ruffians who have 3 barber stores in London. 

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HOLBROOK SHOTS

Luke Holbrook takes some of the most amazing photos of London. He uses a Sony A7iii and when he's on the move, a Galaxy S9+. I love the slow capture shots. Gives London a late night Bladerunner vibe.  

London Tip #6

Coming to London and want to know which hashtags to use? I always use #VisitLondon in my stories. Also tagging me will help as I will give you thumbs and buy you coffee! 

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TMNIKONIAN

You can buy his prints, contact details in his bio. Maybe I should start selling my prints. Leave a comment below if you think there is a market for me selling life sized cardboard cuts out of me without a shirt on. How about the Carl Thompson calendar, will surely fetch 50p on eBay right? 

London Tip #7

For an awesome place to shop and eat, where people might not find you, try out St Christopher's Place

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BASTAKE PICS

Basim (hope that's his name) is a London based Photographer (naturally) and a VFX artist. He has an eye for colour and architecture. But from unconventional vanguards. I love his innovations and the crispness of his delivery. 

London Tip #8

What about a Rooftop bar? London has some of the best in the world and I recommend the Santa Monica at Skylounge. I've made some notes over on the blog

 

COMING TO LONDON? How expensive is London?

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You might be thinking of moving to London this year. I've got some news for you, it comes at a premium. I wanted to share with you some of the outgoings I have and ways you guys can save some money. 

Cost of Fish and Chips 

Yes this is the most pressing thing. Now I'm a man of the people, I know a pint of Soya milk is £1.60 from the local co-op. However, dependent on where you go in London the cost of a bag of fish and chips will fluctuate. 

Here in London you should expect to pay double for the price of fish and chips than you would anywhere else in the UK. Undoubtedly the best place to get Fish and Chips is in any of the Ivy restaurants in London, priced at £14.75. 

According to the latest article on the average price for Fish and Chips in London the average cost of a regular cod in London is £7.60. 

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Gym 

As you know I go to KOBOX, and would absolutely recommend that if you're looking to join a gym in London you subscribe to KOBOX to improve your network, your fitness and also your self defense skills. A single class is £20 but you can buy them in bulk for a bargain discount. 

A regular subscription at Virgin Active will cost you north of £85 a month. But with that you can go to regular spin classes, yoga classes and Pilates. 

Cinema 

The infamous ODEON of Leicester Square where most of the London premieres are held will cost you from £10 a ticket. If you want to catch an afternoon showing of Bohemian Rhapsody for example that will cost you £13.25. 

It's been ridiculed in the press recently as some prices can go up to £40. But then again, the IMAX over the road will charge similar amounts. 

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How much for a pint of ale in London? 

It will vary of course, but let me tell you something. We make some of the best ale in the world. Our craft beer in this country is second to none and if you really want to treat yourself and safe some money then invest in a Craft beer subscription box like DiscoverBrew

Surrey is now the most expensive part of the world to buy a pint and the average pint in London costs £4.08, according to the Good Pub Guide

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How much for a Savile Row Suit? 

Well check you out! Flying into London for the weekend, may as well pick up a Savile Row suit whilst you're here eh? Like your style, pun intended. 

According to Beam Fashion, Prices for a bespoke suit start at nearly £5,000 and can go up £10,000 for very exclusive materials. (Silk, Mohair, or a 150 Merino wool). 

The ready-to-wear suits are available starting from £2,200, (although Chester Barrie will have discounted 2-piece ready to wear for half that). 

Don't forget you'll need some shirts, and whilst a trip to Jermyn Street where you'll find Turnbull & Asser, Emma Willis and New & Lingwood will be a box-ticked, you might need something more accessible (price wise at least). 

You can get a Hawkins & Shepherd shirt for as little as £54 if you sign up to a shirt subscription service today. 

 

EAST LONDON v WEST LONDON | The pros and cons of living in both

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If you're thinking of visiting or moving to London anytime soon no doubt you'll be checking house prices in the different boroughs of London, which places in London has the lowest crime rates, what parts of London have the best schools etc. 

In this article I'm going to pit East London v West London and add to it over time with recommendations for restaurants, theatres, places to watch the footie etc. I'll invite you all to do the same in the comment bar below. 


WEST LONDON 

Pros of living in West London 

West London is generally conceived as the safest part of London, with Richmond on Thames topping the list with the lowest crime rates. In particular Chiswick is a little slice of heaven, to both work and live. 

The Chiswick Business park in particular is adorned with mini lakes, waterfalls, brimming with outdoor activities, very modern and 'Singaporian' in design. 

Cons of living in West London 

You are slightly removed from the rest of London. The District line is the main service and if that capitulates then your daily commute into the centre of London can be a case of trains, planes and automobiles.

Hopefully with the advent of the HS2 or Crossrail there will be greater social mobility in 2020. 

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EAST LONDON

Pros of living in East London

Really does live up to its traits and stereotypes of being the place where the cool kids hang out. The artists have long since migrated further east to places like Hackney since the gentrification of places like Shoreditch. Ironically the artists made the place what is, then could no longer afford to live there due to inflated house prices. 

That said there is still great places to shop for clothes, Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market have great vintage and pre-loved collections. Beyond Retro is tucked away on the outskirts of Bethnal Green, All Saints sits at the top of Brick Lane and there are an abundance of leather ateliers to choose from. 

You have the Olympic Park also which is an awesome location for a first date, or a trip to the O2 for when the big acts come to town. 

Cons of living in East London 

It has its unsavoury areas. Without wanting to sound elitist you only have to stretch out beyond Brick Lane, past Boxpark, and 10 minutes towards Bethnal Green tube you've reached the arm pit of East London. 

You do have great locations like Columbia Flower Market, but even that is a zoo nowadays. The disparate elements that gave East London its uniqueness, have sadly compounded its downfall by becoming too touristy, over populated and not an overly enjoyable place to visit. 

 

Live Like a Rock Star at the Hard Rock Hotel in London

Ahead of its 2019 launch, Hard Rock Hotel London revealed a first look at its Rock Royalty level; offering exclusive rooms and suites, alongside luxurious perks that allow guests to live like a true VIP. Situated on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane, Hard Rock Hotel London tip the hat of recognition to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bobby Davro*, Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly.

Every bedroom is carefully appointed with an awe-inspiring memorabilia collection and original artwork. 

Hard Rock Hotel London promises to be the city’s next iconic live music hot spot, the Rock Royalty programme offers an elevated experience so guests can live out their rock star dreams.

That's right, you think you're hot stuff snowflake? You flew in first class, you had your tailor meet you at the airport, you can get your PA to buy your kids souvenirs, but you still have to queue ten man-deep at the bar in KOKO like every other Joe Schmoe.

Well now you can get escorted around London like Rod Stewart back when he was relevant. The package is truly pioneering; from door to door luxury airport transfers and exclusive access to local music events to bespoke amenities tailored to each guests’ Ultimate Room Rider. 

Tell us more about the Ultimate Room Rider Carl? 

You can take advantage of Hard Rock Hotel London’s Ultimate Room Rider, request that the concierge has pointed the toilet paper and rid the entire condiments tray of De-caff coffee. (Please hotels, we don't need de-caff, ever. Certainly not an even split of de-caff sachets to regular coffee).

On a serious note, the Ultimate Rider package adds personalised touches to each Rock Royalty room including a choice of pillows, in-room scents and bath bombs. 

Oliver Kahf, General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel London, said: “While we will treat every guest at Hard Rock Hotel London like a VIP, our Rock Royalty programme offers an extra special experience. We want every guest to know how it feels to be treated like a Rock Star."

The 103 Rock Royalty rooms and 14 suites are all located on the third floor of the hotel and have been custom designed for luxury and comfort.

Decorated in post box red (much sexier than London Bus red or Sephora laptop case-kiss red)  and royal blue, each room oozes luxury with a hand-crafted Hypnos® bed, flat screen digital TV, minibar and a nightly turndown service.

Guests can also expect to find their personal choice of spirits, soft drinks and sweet treats waiting in the mini bar and their favourite music track playing in their room on entry. (What's yours? Mine - Freddie’s Dead by Curtis Mayfield, every time).

Rock Royalty Suites come with complimentary shoeshine and pressing services to ensure every guest is stage ready. Rooms will also have a coffee table book showcasing the history and stories of the hotel’s most famous - and infamous - guests.

*Joking about Bobby Davro, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. 

Top 10 Film Locations You Can Visit in London

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One of the great things about living in London is the infinite amount of things you can see or do. I'm going to jump straight into this one and give you a tour of the top ten film locations you can visit in London.

 

Robin Hood and the Prince of Thieves St Barts Church

It posed for the Cathedral of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as well having featured in many films, Transformers, The Avengers, Four Weddings and a Funeral (final wedding) and Sherlock Holmes. 

It's five pound entrance fee and open week days, though best check their website for times as they are closed through during the week through the winter months. 

 

Skyfall

Ok this isn't an exotic location but it's right on the doorstep of St Barts Church and you can't miss it. As Tanner takes Bond to their 'new digs' he escorted down a winding road that leads down into leads the Smithfield Car Park in West Smithfield alongside the famous Smithfield Meat Market.

There are a couple of pubs dotted around the winding road you should have no problem finding one that will serve food. 

 

Batman's Police Station

Just up the road is The Farmiloe building that provided the interiors for Gotham City's Police Station in all the Christopher Nolan's Batman films. It's become a vacant event space, almost typecast as the abandoned warehouse where sh*t goes down. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Inception to name but a few. It's also provided the exteriors for Eastern Promises.

You can try calling the buildings representatives to see if they'll let you in for a nose round. The guy’s name is Matthew Mycock. What? I'm not laughing. Why are you laughing? 

 

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Harry Potter

From the Barbican head up two stops Kings Cross from the underground on either the Hammersmith & City, The Circle or the Metropolitan line.

The queues for this can be dreadful. That said, it's well organised. The Trolley is embedded into the wall by the Harry Potter shop. (They had to move in within the station as the real platform was getting over run with tourists). 

It's free to take pictures with your own phone or you can get a professional to take one that you can pay for in the shop. 

If you're looking to eat then Kimchee is just a two minute walk from the station. I recommend the Bibimbap, a mixed bowl of rice and sautéed vegetables topped with a fried egg and hot, stir-fried rice cakes, Bulgogi Ddukbokki. It gets busy so might need to book. 

 

James Bonds Flat!

You may as well right? Go see where James Bond lived in the Movie Spectre. That's where he orders Moneypenny to drop off the remnants of M's office. Which is ludicrous because she is walking with him, package in hand, and he tells her to drop it off at his place in the evening? 

If I were Moneypenny I would say 'Look Bond, I'm right here, with the box, why don't you take this from me now, save me schlepping across London to deliver it. We're not going to shag if that's what you're after. We haven't shagged in the 23 movies previous, we're not going to start now.' 

From Kings Cross jump on the Circle or the Hammersmith & City line. About 30 mins on the tube and you get off at Ladbroke Grove Station. From there it's a short walk to 1 Stanley Gardens, Notting Hill, W11. 

 

Whilst you're in Notting Hill

Yes, I think you've guessed it haven't you. Go to the Notting Hill Travel Book shop that was run by Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill. The only snag is there isn't a book shop there, the real book shop on which it was based closed down due to rising real estate, ironically boosted by the popularity of the film. According to the Movie Location blog

There is no ‘Travel Book Company’ on Portobello Road, the down-at-heel shop owned by William Thacker. The store was Nicholls Antique Arcade, then furniture store Gong, it’s now a gift shop/souvenir store, sensibly called – yes – Notting Hill142 Portobello Road (and rather cheekily replicating the film’s typeface). Somewhat misleadingly, the shop-owners have added an additional sign reading 'The Travel Book Shop'.

Next week we'll head over to West London. 

 

Why I Love London by Carl Thompson Men's Lifestyle Blogger

London, whichever way you slice it is one of the best cities in the world. It is an endless opus of historical virtue populated by rampant-hungry minds that questingly seek the latest fashion, the newest pop-up, the most instagrammable, yet unmolested touchstones of the city. Notice how I'm not saying its traditional, yet contemporary. I refuse!

The pace isn't as breakneck as you might think. (Waitrose opens at 11am on a Sunday in Marylebone). London isn't so much the city that never sleeps, moreover the city that likes a lie in.

That said we're not Paris. Our streets are cleaner, marginally. Not Swiss standard clean, and we'll never reach the unassailable cleanliness of Singapore clean, but we're certainly cleaner than Paris. Our food is better and more diverse also.

I'm in London for the Weekend Carl, what can I do?

In London with the missus? Head to the Olympic Park and take up the ArcelorMittal Orbit. That is not a euphemism. It's actually an awesome day out, you'll get to Ride the Slide and get some great vantage views of the city. London is flat as heck from up there and you can see over 20km out.

In the summer months the green park nearby is perfect for a picnic and there are places to eat, paddle along the Waterworks River, get lost. I'm surprised people don't sing about this place more. Or maybe they do.

How do I meet people in London?

How do you not meet people in London? My eyes boggle at the endless reams of events you can find on various forums such as Skint London, etc. There are countless book signings where you can meet likeminded souls into the same authors as you. Of course there is always Tinder, Bumble, Match.com and endless other dating apps that can be used to meet single people in the city. 

There are circa 400 libraries in London, each will host a chess club, a comic book club, a photography club etc. London also has a high number of free museums (pay a donation) where you can meet locals and tourists, so go check it out.

Into exercise?

You get to expand your network exponentially at fitness classes. KOBOX is my go-to favourite that has a real sense of community spirit. There's Barry's Bootcamp in Euston and Liverpool St, but you need to book. I know people are getting mad into these boot camps of late.

You can also join a London Walking Tour. There are plenty of those that will encourage you wear comfortable shoes because you'll cover around 10k on a two-hour tour. Not only will you get to meet people, (around 20-30 people go per walk) you get to learn the History of London and see some hidden gems.

And what if I want to treat the missus, where are the best restaurants in London?

This is all depending on budget. I'm not going to go into a lengthy listicle of what restaurants to frequent as there are way too many and a thing called Trip Advisor exists. (Although Trip Advisor is NOT king. How many people do you know that actually know anything about food? And let's not forget a man in a garden shed was once rated number one restaurant in London on Trip Advisor).

I will say that Liverpool Street has the Ivy Gardens two minutes’ walk from the station. They don't allow any photography inside, which is a shame because you'd love to brag about this place.

Mid-level pricing for London standards (£15 for fish and chips). The food is wonderful, there's enough on the plate (unlike the flatulently overpriced Cinnamon Kitchen also in Liverpool St) and the underpinning romanticism that you feel within the floral surrounding is inescapable.

Like dining in a theatre production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream without the drugs.

And finally?

And finally no. There is no finally, no finite conclusion, no completed script. London is an open ticket, difficult to chapterise, impossible to cover in a single blog. If you're coming to London, then you'll want a plan. Getting lost is ok, but it's not like getting lost in Venice. Venice is a fairyland City straight out of a Spielberg movie. 

London has more serious edges. But that's what I love about it. 

Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel Review | Exceptional Location

London is full of amazing hotels and now I can add the Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel to the list of my favourites. If you are after a hotel that has Instagram worthy interior design, friendly staff, amazing amenities, unique rooms, great facilities in the middle of the busy London Paddington district yet situated in a quiet square, then this is the hotel for you. Combine that with being in an exceptional location at a mid-range price, then you've found the best hotel in London for it's price range and I genuinely believe that to be the case.

This boutique style hotel which has recently undergone a complete refurbishment boasts 78 well designed guest bedrooms with Victorian style windows, high ceilings and a warm town house feel through-out. This iconic London hotel is located just a 3 min walk from Paddington train and tube stations, with Heathrow airport being 15 minutes away via Paddington Express. You can take a short walk to Hyde Park or Oxford Street for a bit of high-street shopping. 

I felt at complete ease during my whole stay in this hotel and that is partially down to the relaxed, professional atmosphere given off by the management team which filters down to the other members of staff and it felt like a great place to work. The interior also contributed to this relaxed feel due to the bright areas which let in lots of light from the large windows, then cozy darker areas to cocoon yourself in when wanting time out or privacy reading the morning newspaper.

The rooms and suites are possibly the most impressive aspect of this hotel, no expense has been sparred on their designs, just look at the photos which are completely non-edited and taken exactly as the room was presented. The first thing I noticed was the Tom Dixon lighting as I'm a massive fan of his interiors and have some of those light-shades at home also, so it's safe to say that we both have exceptional taste! 

The rooms include a full array of facilities including air conditioning, safety deposit boxes, WIFI, telephone, iron, free in-room mineral water, work desk, minibar and coffee/tea making facilities. For a full list of room ammenities, check out their website directly, here.

If you require a larger room, speak to the hotel and ask for one of their individual suites which have a massive living area, more storage space, a huge bathroom with a double sized shower and a massive bed with an excess of cushions. 

Finally this hotel has more than just a great interior designer and an exceptional location. It also houses a gym complete with cardiovascular fitness machines, weight machines and free weights. There's also a bar, restaurant and meeting facilities so if you are a business traveler, on holiday or someone who wants to enjoy a staycation to London, before you book your hotel, I urge you to consider the Mercure London Hyde Park Hotel. 

 

MERCURE LONDON HYDE PARK HOTEL

Top 5 Awesome Bond Locations just outside London

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Think of how many click bait articles about James Bond there’s been since Spectre. I think even at some stage even I was tipped to play the fictional British Secret agent. (Ok so I started that rumour, but that’s all by-the-by). After all the exacerbated hyperbole, it was recently announced that the next person to play James Bond, was the old person who played James Bond. How stunningly anticlimactic.

But one thing that remains resolute are the James Bond locations. Even if they get burnt to the ground, (like M's house in Henley from On her Majesty's Secret Service) there is still the ground itself that can be worshipped. Or the door to the ground. Or the ground leading to the door.

Here are some well-known and some lesser-known James Bond Locations around London.

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Wraysbury Lake - A View to a Kill

The film gets a couple of sniffy reviews, (not from me I might add) but this lake is a gem of a location. The lake is private - you'll need permission to get in and there is a security gate that you won't be able to negotiate no matter how determined you are.

The location is famous for the scene where Zorin and May Day pushes a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II with a dead Tibbett and an unconscious Bond inside. It's lost the gravel upon entrance but other than that the slope into the lake is just how you'd imagine it. There is a sign by the slope entrance recognising the location and the lake itself is just idyllic.

Postcode: TW19 5EP

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Pinewood Studios - The 007 Stage

It's worth a visit even if you can't get in. The studio sign itself just brings tingles and if you poke your head over the railings you can see the John Barry Theatre which does all the screenings for various Bond meet-ups. You might want to keep your distance of about 20 yards or else a perfectly affable security guard will tell you in no uncertain terms to get back, or risk having your photos deleted forever!

Postcode: SL0 0NH

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Stoke Park  - Goldfinger

Just four miles away from Pinewood Studios, the 5-star Spa and golfing resort played host to two James Bond movies, Goldfinger (1964) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). The famous 17th and 18th hole where Bond and Goldfinger duelled it out for the purse of a gold bar are located behind the complex. If you're not a member (annual fee of £3,570 plus a joining fee of £2,500) then it takes a certain amount of tenacious sneakiness to reach. Really it's just a walk around a footpath, but you stand a better chance of penetrating the non-existent security if you stick to the Stoke Park dress code. Which means no tucking in trousers to socks or anything else camp or conspicuous.

Postcode: SL2 4PG

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Stoke Poges Church - For your Eyes Only

Whilst you're in this neck of the woods it would be criminal not to check the Stoges Church, the location for the pre-title sequence in For your Eyes Only. Roger Moore is visiting the grave of his beloved Tracy before he gets called away on a fateful mission. The church is quaint and a quick walk around the back gives you a gorgeous panoramic vista of Stoke Park.

Postcode: SL2 4NZ

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Stonor Park - The Living Daylights

Lastly Stonor Park, which has been home to the Stonor family for 850 years. It also doubled as the Bladen safe house in The Living Daylights. Acres of sublime inscrutable countryside surround this wonderfully kept stately home. Just a few hundred yards down the road you'll also find the wall where the poor milkman got strangled by Necros.

As someone within the tour party quipped, 'Why was a milkman delivering milk to a dairy farm? No wonder people say Bond is far-fetched'. Well quite.

Postcode: RG9 6HG

Don't Ditch Your Wool Coats Just Yet | Style Edit & A Little Advice

Spring is only a month away and that suggests warmer weather right...wrong, I have lived in good ol' Blighty all my life and I know that cool days and bitter evenings can ease off and then bite back in full force unexpectedly. According to the UK weather statistics, snow fell during March in 2013, 2008, 1998, 1994 and so on. In fact statistics also state that it is more likely to snow during Easter than it is during Christmas...this just blows my mind! So the message of this blog post is to not ditch your wool, cashmere coats just yet, instead merge them into your spring wardrobe and concentrate on layering.

Spring is an awkward month in the sartorial calendar to dress for because of the aforementioned weather reasons. My little piece of advice, I mean it isn't rocket science but try to keep hold of your winter coats for at least until the end of April. At that point you should be able to shop a large collection of spring/summer coats which are single layered and made of more lightweight fabrics. 

Going back to winter wool or cashmere coats. On warmer days/cold nights layer up with lightweight tees or merino wool jumpers, like I have done in the style edit above. With thin jumpers such as this roll-neck you can easily roll the sleeves if getting too hot and the layering will keep you warm going into the evenings.

For this AW17 Style Edit, I'm actually wearing a Zara AW16 coat, so I'm sorry but you can no longer buy it. As well as this coat, I'm wearing a khaki tee and dark grey roll-neck knit again from Zara. My black ripped jeans are ASOS. The sneakers are from the brand National Standard which I purchased from Menlook.com. Finally I have accessorised with a fashion watch from Circulr.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Rebecca Spencer

My London Flat Renovation | Including Home Tour

Finally it is finished, my London flat is at last fully renovated to my own individual taste and style. For 6 years I have lived in this 2 bedroom flat in Clapham South without doing a single thing to it and it looked tired, dated and in dire need of an interior design make-over. Working on a budget, I couldn't change everything - so I had to pick and choose what changes would make the biggest impact and what I could get away with keeping. The last few rooms to get some love were my open-planned front room, dining room and kitchen and as you can see from the below it was a 'tad' cluttered, dark and the walls looked tired.

Unfortunately I didn't get many photos of the actual work however as you can see, I repainted throughout in white and with a teal feature wall replacing the dated brown hues. The floor stayed and I tidied up all the electric speaker wiring that was all over the place before. Once all of the major work was complete, I pretty much replaced all of the furniture other than my dinner table and my office desk. 

I replaced the dark brown blind with a typical white plantation shutter which gives the room a much lighter appearance and the large slats allow so much more light in than the previous blind did. The hideous radiators have been covered up with some made-to-measure white radiator covers, taking up a tiny bit more space than just having radiators but allowing you to decorate the room better by putting 'stuff' on top. I was going to buy a new coffee table, however decided against it in favour of keeping the room as open and uncluttered as possible. So instead I brought a vintage side table. 

I'm pleased with all of my buys but especially this light grey sofa from Loaf...I opted to change my old L-shape one with a single 3-seater, again opening up the room much more. With Charlie dog banished from the the entire back of the house due to new carpet going down - I wanted to keep 'his' space open! I then got a single reading chair from Swoon Editions for the corner of the room then a new media unit for all my audio visual equipment. 

The final touches to the living room were a antiqued brass mirror from John Lewis, a copper Etch ceiling light and floor lamp by Tom Dixon adding some amazing mood lighting at night when I'm just chilling out watching another box-set.

Only a few changes were done in the kitchen, mainly because I ran out of money! Other than the radiator cover, I've changed the tap to a French style brushed copper design which works well with the other copper touches around the flat. I then changed all of the crappy broken bar stools with these epic antique looking adjustable stools. I was not going to do any more changes but I then got given a new kettle and toaster from Morphy Richards and I couldn't be happier as the unique design is perfect for what I want and fits in with the rest of the kitchen.

 

SHOP SOME OF THE PRODUCTS

3 SPRING/SUMMER FORMAL WORKWEAR LOOKS

After a 12 year career in the City of London, it is safe to say that workwear is well into my comfort zone. Wether it is for an important meeting or to impress your work crush, I know how important it is to look good in the office. Sometimes we can get lazy with our workwear fashion but the chances are we are going to meet 'the one' during a work event or at work, so guys...you should make more of an effort. Plus 5 out of 7 days (for most of us) are spend at work, so you should be buying clothes that have the fabric quality, design and tailoring to last.

In these 3 looks, I have tried to show diversity. Tie, no tie, pocket squares, silk scarves and different spring/summer shirt on-trend colours (White, Pink & Mint). Each look can easily be dressed up or toned down for a #ThirstyThursday or #FriYay (sorry about that last hashtag!). I've used all of these blazers in smart-casual attire for bars at the weekend with skinny jeans, so you are able to justify the investment.

All the looks are available from Hawkins & Shepherd, a small London based brand launched 3 years ago focusing on quality fabrics, design, tailoring and customer care. H&S are traditionally a shirt makers, whose signature shirt is the pin collar and if you have watched Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice you'll be very familiar with this on-trend classic shirt. So if you are after something different to the boring, same old London's shirt-makers (you know who they are!) - shop Hawkins & Shepherd to look unique rather than the same as the guy who you sit next to at work.

 

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Photography by Ella H. Photography

IT'S A NAVY KINDA DAY - OUTFIT OF THE DAY #OOTD

We all go through ups and downs of general life, one day everything is perfect and the next you question everything! My fashion choices don't tend to be dictated by my mood, however today I think it has! Dark navy could be the side of me that feels something is missing in my life and I could be SO much happier than what I am right now and the colourful orange touches indicating fun, better times ahead...HA, what a load of bollocks, it's just clothes!

On a day where our European neighbours Brussels have experienced such terrible terrorist attacks, injuring and taking life - I thought this dark navy outfit-of-the-day is perfect for todays mourning. It made me think about loved ones here in London and how much they mean to me, what's important in my life and what do I want to achieve out of it. You should do the same, it's quite liberating.

This look is centred around this double-breasted navy cashmere blend overcoat, available at Hawkins & Shepherd. Purchase this coat and you'll be buying into British design & British fabrics and like a German car, it is built to last and will be forever stylish. An allsaints navy shirt, ASOS tartan style check trousers and some brogue black shoes complete my look of the day.

 

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Photography by Sophie Milner

IT'S STILL COAT WEATHER

A few days ago I took off at London Heathrow for a quick trip to Switzerland and of course packed jumpers and coats as this should be their coldest month of the year. On arriving and for the duration of my trip it was actually quite mild and a simple t-shirt and coat worked nicely. It was this morning when back in London, I woke up thinking it's time to pack away my coats for another season...errr nope, one step outside on the misty frost tipped grass made me realise my coats will be here to stay for at least another month or two.

It's fair to say that the outfit is based around the Zara wool coat and the Street Style look above was taken in London around the Pall Mall area. If you are like myself and just cant give up your knitwear and coats yet...maybe this look will give you some inspiration.

Photo Credit Sophie Milner

HAWKINS & SHEPHERD SHIRTS FOR SPRING/SUMMER 2016

Luxury men's shirt makers Hawkins and Shepherd have returned stronger than ever this Spring/Summer season with their new-look collection as part of a wider evolution across the styling of the brand. The introduction of their new button-down and pattern shirts are in keeping with market trends. As always, Hawkins & Shepherd shirts use the finest cotton fabrics and classic, handmade tailoring. Don't expect them to be in stores for some time, so get online and shop today, as this collection is limited edition and while stocks last. 

Hawkins & Shepherd White Button-Down Shirt

Hawkins & Shepherd White Button-Down Shirt

It feels odd writing a piece on my own shirts  but who best to do that than myself as I have put so much sweat and tears into getting Hawkins & Shepherd where it is today and I'm so proud of the brand.

Our button-down shirts have small details that stand out subtly whilst sticking to minimalistic, classic shirt tailoring. For example we stitch the top button hole and the last button hole in a different colour that compliments the shirt fabric perfectly. 

Our pattern printed shirt fabric has come from Portugal and is a limited edition, when they are gone their gone. The pattern collection centres around micro prints...paisley, geometric and polka dots are my designers favourites.

What to expect from Hawkins & Shepherd in the future? We have designed our first Hawkins & Shepherd Suit and Overcoat range in collaboration with Savile Row trained tailor Laura from Calder London using Britain's finest fabrics from Holland & Sherry. The suits will consist of single and double-breasted options and will be made to order. Our overcoat range will consist of two 100% Cashmere limited edition camel and navy jackets.

This is a major step forward for Hawkins & Shepherd but one that has been at the request of the label’s loyal customer feedback. We are small enough to react quickly to our customers’ wishes and in many ways they shape what we do as a company.

Hawkins & Shepherd Blue Micro Geometric Print Button-Down Shirt

Hawkins & Shepherd Blue Micro Geometric Print Button-Down Shirt

SHOP HAWKINS & SHEPHERD SS16 SHIRT COLLECTION HERE

Photo Credit Kylie Eyra

WINTER MORNING WALKS ALONG CHELSEA EMBANKMENT

This week for me has been one of those weeks to totally forget. Its been a time that if my brain had a format button it would have been pressed daily if not hourly! Who else has had one of the weeks or months? When I'm feeling down, upset, angry or stressed I find that getting up early and going for a walk helps set me up positively for the day ahead.

For me its good to get up early and do something with my mornings, either gym, British Military Fitness, walk my dog, do some writing...my mind is clear and hasn't yet been tainted with all life's stresses. I also find that I'm much more proactive and productive with the rest of my day.

This particular street style shoot was done along Chelsea Embankment one Sunday morning just after sun rise and I'm loving the soft lighting in these shots. What I'm wearing is very typical weekend, winter day wear - jeans, thick knitted jumper, casual blazer and a big scarf. Its comfortable, warm and versatile for many Sunday situations such was walks, pubs and even chilling on the sofa watching breaking bad (I'm now on Season 4!).

So the shoes which I wear like all the time are from River Island brought via ASOS.com and are somehow still in stock at only £60. Then the jeans are mid-wash blue semi skinny. My knitted jumper is from last seasons Allsaints collection, although in the shop the look below, I have added one that is very similar (but better...dammit!). The harris tweed casual blazer is via ASOS and finally so is the multi coloured scarf.

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Photo Credit Sophie Milner

CREED FRAGRANCES OPEN IN MAYFAIR

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I first became aware of CREED aftershaves about 7 years ago when I was 28 and had a bit of disposable income. I was looking for a fragrance that was signature to me which none of my friends already had...one that people comment on and one that your girlfriend will always think of you when they smell it. 

That fragrance came from Creed and was their 'Imperial Millesime' fragrance. It was so unique and worth every penny, it became my signature scent that I only wore on nights out and special occasions.

Like most men, I usually only ever have 2 or 3 aftershaves at anyone time:

1. Your going out scent, special occasions and night time only.

2. Daytime scent, for work and general everyday occurrences.

3. The one in your gym bag, usually your daytime scent in a small travel bottle.

As mentioned, my 'going out' aftershave is Creed Imperial Millesime and my 'everyday' cheaper aftershave is Jimmy Choo Man. For my gym bag, I have a refillable travel aftershave bottle that I won last Christmas in an M&S cracker! So I think it is time to upgrade! After visiting the Creed boutique in Mayfair, London - I found out that they sell beautiful travel aftershave bottles, complete with a teeny tiny funnel and large refillable fragrance bottles - which is actually very cost effective (see below).

Royal Mayfair by The House of Creed

This fall, The House of Creed releases Royal Mayfair, a vaulted scent that honours the Duke of Windsor, the famed British royal synonymous with taking risks in life, love and style who left a lasting impression on the history of men’s fashion. An homage to sartorial icons who push traditional fashion boundaries, Royal Mayfair captures the spirit of these trend setters through this cult fragrance. Nearly 80 years after its original commission, Royal Mayfair debuts as one of the brand’s most coveted accords and significant men’s launches since Aventus in 2010, at a time when menswear is more prominent than ever.

Royal Mayfair is one of the most modern accords that truly transcends decades,” shares Olivier Creed, Sixth Generation Master Perfumer at The House of Creed. “We know our clients are passionate about this scent and feel strongly it is important for them to be able to experience it permanently.

 

A staple in the fragrance wardrobe of scent enthusiasts and male style influences alike, Royal Mayfair was as modern then as it is today with ingredients grown across the British Empire. This green/fresh scent opens with British Gin, Jamaican Lime and a touch of Scottish Highland Pine. The middle notes are filled with strong fragrant Duke of Windsor Roses and finishes with base notes of Bahamian Orange, Canadian Cedar and Australian Eucalyptus. 

About The House of Creed

It began as a bottle of Royal English Leather commissioned by King George III after becoming enamoured with a pair of Creed scented gloves. Passed from father to son for seven generations since its London founding in 1760 by James Henry Creed, The House of Creed has been handcrafting uncommon fragrances for royal houses and discerning patrons for over 250 years. As the only fragrance house to rely on an ancient infusion technique to capture the raw and rare materials of each perfume, Creed has created a legacy of unrivaled scents, both commissioned and worn by history and Hollywood’s greatest names. Based out of Paris today, each scent is weighed, mixed, macerated and filtered all by hand in the highest tradition of the House's founder, James Creed. Today, sixth generation and master perfumer Olivier Creed and his son, Erwin Creed, carry on the craft from their Parisian laboratory continuing the art of Creed's perfume making—a timeless, yet modern take on history, bottled.

WHERE TO BUY CREED FRAGRANCES?

VISIT THEIR LONDON STORE: Creed Boutique on Mayfair. The address is 99 Mount Street, Mayfair,  W1K 2TF.

SHOP ONLINE AT www.creedboutique.com

SAVILE ROW LOOKBOOK

As the home a great tailoring, Savile Row has long been a major inspiration for me. I love the history that engulfs it, the buzz that you get when walking down the 'Row' and watching the steady hands of the tailors cutting fabric in the basements. If I'm in need of some influences when designing the perfect shirt for Hawkins & Shepherd, picking the finest fabrics or just personal styling, I find it right there on Savile Row.

I would love to be in a position to have a lookbook full of Savile Row tailored pieces, however as I'm a poor blogger still trying to make it big, I have put together all my favourite formal looks from recent posts. These looks are all available for a reasonable price online or via the highstreet. A perfect compilation of looks for you to to use for interviews, weddings or office attire.

So what is Savile Row? Firstly it is a street in Mayfair, London, England synonymous worldwide for great bespoke tailoring. British tailors have been settling here since the 17th century and now is a street that is protected to keep only the highest level of tailoring companies trading on it.

You would think that Savile Row has had it easy, but they haven't. Competition is high and it has been a constant battle trying to reinvent themselves for different marketplaces like younger professionals, classic gents or international clients. Some tailors have kept to their heritage whereas others such as Oswald Boateng and Richard James have reinvented themselves as what I would call, new Savile Row - focusing on the modern market and breaking the so called 'mould'.

Take yourself down there, be inspired, be different, be confident and be stylish.

MINT GREEN - THE ESSENTIAL SUMMER COLOUR

As expected the greens didn't reach new heights in the recent UK elections but they get my vote for the colour of the season. Green has been the most underrated colour for a few seasons and with brands such as BOSIE by Stytched.co.uk and luxury shirt makers Hawkins & Shepherd coming out with some beautiful designs, its time for change.

Green is quite a hard colour to style, which is why a lot of men avoid it. Although if you go for lighter shades such as mint you have much more choice when choosing how to style it. 

You many hear remarks such as 'Blue and Green should never be seen,' but that's not necessarily true. Lighter shades of green, again such as mint go extremely well with blues. Yet for todays look I have chosen a dark shade of grey as I think the colours work perfect together.

When putting together this look I wanted to focus on unique accessories that I cant find anywhere on the high streets as I want to give you - my readers - a unique experience rather than blogging about the same old rubbish that so many other menswear bloggers do!

So after a small amount of research, I have found this amazing new online boutique called stytched.co.uk - you should check them out. 

Stytched specialises in men's accessories with designers and brands that are not available anywhere else in the UK. Their range is currently quite small but their products are unique, luxury yet affordable, and I'm personally very interested to see how they grow.

Their frosted mint skinny tie has been designed by a New York based brand called BOSIE. When you see this tie up close, you can really tell that it is a result of fine craftsmanship and a labour of love, which makes the touch and feel of this tie that little bit more special.

Next on my hit list of accessories was their navy tie bar with palm tree detail, this time by a completely different designer called Riada which is the brainchild of Jasmine Adair.

I can assure you that the quality and love that has gone into these products is fantastic and it's not all about brand names: it is time to give the smaller niche companies an opportunity to shine because it's often these places that you'll still find quality at a decent price...rather than just paying for a label.

 

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Tie by Stytched.co.uk | Tie Bar by Stytched.co.uk | Hawkins & Shepherd Shirt | M&S Suit | Hawkins & Shepherd Socks | Grenson Shoes | Hawkins & Shepherd Flower Lapel

THE DECK CHAIR SHIRT!

When choosing fabric and designing the Hawkins & Shepherd Spring Summer 2015 collection, I wanted to go bright and bold to accompany their popular yet safe essentials collection.

Bold stripes and gingham checks are what I decided to focus on and will be THE designs to have throughout SS15 and even AW15. Although they are beautiful shirts, they are also hard to style correctly and therefore often avoided and instead opting for the bog standard whites and blues.

Well today is lesson one in how to style them. It is important to match bold colours in particular stripes with a block colour and in this case I chose navy. Try to keep the small details small and not over used or over powering. In this look I have gone for Hawkins & Shepherd Red wool socks but thats it with the red accessorising. It would be too much to then add a red pocket square..its one or the other.

Other than the coffee, which was awesome by the way; thanks The Chelsea Quarter Cafe on Kings Road - the only other accessory I have worn is a navy tie pin with palm tree details by stytched.co.uk. The worst sin when wearing a tie bar is if the tie bar hangs over the edge of the tie and with this particular bar being 1.75" in length is it perfect for semi-skinny and classed width ties.

Where to position your tie bar? Divide your tie into thirds. The bar should be pinned one third of the way down from your knot.

 

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Suit Supply French Navy Suit  | Hawkins & Shepherd Shirt | Gibson London Tie | Hawkins & Shepherd Socks | Black Brogue Shoes