Discover Stunning Contemporary Art at Halcyon Gallery


halcyon gallery new bond street city of westminster london


Halcyon Gallery was founded in 1982 and showcases modern and contemporary art from artists worldwide. It has three locations in London – at 29 New Bond Street (an intimate space), 144-146 New Bond Street (a space covering three levels), and in Harrods.

Halcyon Gallery, 29 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2RL. Phone: 020 7499 450


In a city like London that is replete with world famous galleries and museums, it’s not often that one ventures to smaller, more specialist ones. But, over the years, Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street has carved a niche for itself. Like the Tate Modern, it specialises in modern and contemporary art from emerging and established artists. Unlike the Tate Modern, which was founded in 1897, Halcyon Gallery is only 37 years old.

Because of the way shops are situated in New Bond Street – like numbered houses – when you walk into the gallery, it almost feels like you’ve entered the living room of a mansion with large paintings that line the walls and sculptures that dot the floors. Smaller galleries and museums have a more personal feel. There are usually fewer people, as these spaces aren’t as “touristy”, and you get to discover the best contemporary artists. The first time I visited Halcyon Gallery was to see the works of renowned glass blower Dale Chihuly, and I thought it was an apt space for his glass art.

If you want a taste of the art scene beyond the hustle and bustle of the popular, large galleries, Halcyon at 29, New Bond Street is where you should be. Just like its name suggests, it evokes serenity and tranquillity, which indeed is vital to appreciate art.

Feature photograph courtesy Halcyon Gallery



Head To God’s Own Junkyard For A Lit Weekend


god's own junkyard


Located in Walthamstow is God’s Own Junkyard, a salvage yard containing the personal works of late neon artist Chris Bracey. You can find props, backdrops, and signage Bracey made for movies like Blade Runner alongside vintage signs and disco balls. It’s a neon paradise you can’t miss.

God’s Own Junkyard, Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, London, E17 9HQ. Phone: 020 8521 8066. It is open on weekends: Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Rolling Scones Café is open for food and drinks all weekend.


It’s almost bizarre to think there is a wonderland of neon lights, vintage signs, and old movie props in a decrepit industrial estate on the edges of Walthamstow and Wood Street. A few years ago, Ravenswood Industrial Estate was a bit of a dump with no reason to go there unless you got lost looking for a garage. Today, it has been transformed into “the” place to be on a weekend. You have two breweries, a gin bar, a regular pizza stall, and the jewel in its crown: God’s Own Junkyard.

The late world-famous neon-artist Chris Bracey’s God’s Own Junkyard was the first shop to set up there, and it’s a psychedelic world of its own. He created signs for a number of movies, including Blade Runner and four Batman films and, sure enough, the props, backdrops, and signage used in those movies are displayed in God’s Own Junkyard.

Instantly Intsagrammable from the threshold of this weird and wonderful place, you’ll find at the most popular spot a Jesus statue holding neon guns under a sign saying, “Madonna’s Erotic Show”. It’s indeed reminiscent of the Jesus statue in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. And while you’re there, you can give your neck and eyes a bit of a break by stopping for some cream tea, cakes, sandwiches, or coffee. God’s Own Junkyard houses a café, The Rolling Scones. But of course, it’s just a side act to the wondrous colourful, trippy, lit up world of disco balls and wacky signs.


Spitalfields Market Has Something For Everyone


spitalfields market


At Spitalfields Market, you can shop for apparels and accessories, indulge in some delicious street food and people-watching or even set up a stall of your own. Milling with crowds on most days, this bustling market is a hotbed of activity for locals and tourists alike.

Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, London E1 6EW. Phone: 020 7375 2963


It’s a whole world out there in Spitalfields: food and drink, stalls of apparel, handmade jewellery and art prints, community events, and more. You can’t go wrong with spending an afternoon (or the whole day) in this trendy lively East End area. Granted, it has become more popular over the years and you almost don’t want to head there on your “chill out” weekend. But working near Liverpool Street has its perks; Spitalfields Market is my lunch time treat every Friday. I pick up my Spicy Mediterranean Box from Badolina, sit at the entrance of the market, opposite Patisserie Valerie, and watch the crowds go by. It’s not all office-goers out during their lunch break either. You can spot tourists, families, couples, and groups of friends from across the Channel. It’s a treat to watch – and that’s just from outside!

Divided into roughly three types of markets, Spitalfields devotes itself to independent artists who sell their wares at the Spitalfields Arts Market. At the Saturday Style Market, you’ll see traders selling apparel, accessories, homeware, and other goods, and the Traders Market at Crispin Place is open all seven days. Let’s not forget the plethora of sit-down restaurants plus food stalls. As the saying goes, there’s something for everyone in this glorious melange of shops. If none of this pleases you, Brick Lane is just a short walk away, with food and vintage shops nearly spilling onto its streets.

P.S.: If you’re an independent artist or a trader, you can get in touch with Spitalfields Market to set up a stall.

Feature photograph by Alan Stanton [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Flickr


Leadenhall Market Is A Cinematic Landmark


leadenhall market city of london


It’s one thing to spot the ornate Victorian roof on screen and another to actually walk on the cobbled floors of Leadenhall Market. The covered lanes, vintage lamps, and uniformly gilded shop signs at one of London’s oldest markets make the experience of shopping here a rather magical one.

Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LT. Phone: 020 7332 1523


Rich in history, Leadenhall Market dates back to the 14th Century when it was established for the sale of game and poultry but, like everything in Central London, it’s had a major makeover since then. You’ll be hard pressed to see a butcher operating there today. The market is more along the lines of an upscale mall with high street shops catering to affluent city folk who wear Barbour coats, drink fine wine, and eat a Chop’d salad for lunch.

As a covered market with a magnificent Victorian roof, Leadenhall Market has had its share of hardships, the biggest being the Great Fire of London of 1666. Since being redesigned and revamped, Leadenhall Market has been granted Grade II Heritage listed status. Like with most iconic places in London, the best time to visit Leadenhall Market is during Christmas. The Victorian structure never has as much appeal as it does when the festive lights are switched on, the halls are decked with holly, and there’s a great big Christmas tree adorning the entrance. Not to mention the carolers and last minute Christmas shoppers.

For those of you who jump at any Harry Potter trivia, Leadenhall Market was used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. So next time you’re up there enjoying a bit of retail therapy, look around at the stunning market and picture Harry and Co. buying their first wands.

Feature photograph by Diliff at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons


Thrift Shopping and Delicious Food At Petticoat Lane Market


petticoat lane market


Petticoat Lane Market was set up in the mid-1700s in what was then called Petticoat Lane; since the 1800s, the street has been known as Middlesex Street. Although you may or may not be able to buy vintage skirts at Petticoat Lane Market anymore, you can certainly walk through the bustling lanes of East End with a shopping bag in one hand and a falafel roll in the other.

Petticoat Lane Market, 119-121 Middlesex Street, London E1 7JF


There are plenty of markets in London that deserve to be ticked off the “must-see” list, but there are some that sit quietly and confidently in the shadows, moving along yet barely changing with the years, waiting to be discovered. Say “aye” into your coffee mug if you’ve been to Petticoat Lane Market. You’re probably in the minority.

You’d be forgiven to think that Petticoat Lane Market in the East End of London actually sits in Petticoat Lane. The name of the street no longer exists, having changed to Middlesex Street in the 1800s. Sadly, for whatever reason (not hipster enough?), Petticoat Lane Market is not on most tourists’ radar. It holds many clues to the history of London’s East End, like when it was (illegally) set up in the mid-1700s and slowly became a centre for manufacturing clothes. Or when it became a safe haven for Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 1800s.

A few hundred yards away from Spitalfields Market, Petticoat Lane Market is still thriving today. On Sundays, you’ll see stalls upon stalls selling clothes and (super cheap) woven goods. On the other six days, it’s the venue for lunch time trade with hawkers selling Katsu curry and rolls, chana masala with rice, falafel rolls, coffee on wheels, and more.

PS: If you’re a fan of The Apprentice, you should know that Alan Sugar started his business with his first stall smack in the middle of Petticoat Lane Market.

Feature photograph by Andrew Dunn [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Experience The Best Of Mughlai Cuisine At Grand Trunk Road

grand trunk road indian restaurant london


Grand Trunk Road is an Indian restaurant in South Woodford whose menu is inspired by the best of North Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Afghan cuisine. The butter chicken and dal Bukhara alone are worth going to Zone 4.

Grand Trunk Road, 219 High Road, London E18 2PB. Phone: 020 8505 1965


"....And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen hundred miles – such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world."
– Rudyard Kipling on the Grand Trunk Road in his novel, Kim

London is no stranger to curry houses. They firmly dot every borough, with new ones popping up every now and then. But when teams behind renowned Michelin-starred restaurants start opening their own ventures in lesser-known suburbs of London, it's worth sitting up and taking notice. So when Grand Trunk Road opened in leafy South Woodford, an area that has known only Bangladeshi (Indian) inspired curry take-aways, there was a definite gleam in my eye and a spring in my step. After all, rumours (now confirmed) suggested this restaurant had been opened by Rajesh Suri, former general manager of Tamarind in Mayfair.

But what intrigued me more was the name. In India, the cuisine of the North-West frontier – fondly known as "Mughlai", or the cuisine that thrived during and after the Mughal rule in India – is possibly the most-loved. Nothing beats a bowl of hot, steaming, creamy dal bukhara (or dal makahni, a Punjabi cousin of the former) or butter chicken with a pillowy butter naan, dishes that are lacking in London’s non-Michelin starred Indian restaurants. My vote for the best dal makhani in London would go to Dishoom – but that was before I dined at Grand Trunk Road.

Nothing beats a bowl of hot, steaming, creamy dal bukhara or butter chicken with a pillowy butter naan.

The name refers to one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads – linking South Asia with Central Asia – from Chittagong in Bangladesh across Northern India through Delhi, moving on to Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan and finally ending in Kabul, Afghanistan. As for the food? The menu has been inspired from all these places. It’s the first time I’ve seen butter chicken on a menu in London – I’m not usually a fan of sweet-tangy Indian curries, but I had to taste this, if only to see if it was authentic.

We skipped the starters to try a selection of main courses – including, of course, the butter chicken – and with just two people, that’s quite a meal. But I already knew I was coming back. Everything from the décor to the service screamed “home” to me. It replicated the opulence and attention to detail that is a hallmark of Mughlai and Awadhi restaurants in India.

Along with the Amritsari butter chicken, we ordered Lahori keema muttar and my beloved dal bukhara. And while I’d usually go for the butter or garlic naan or a tandoori roti, I noticed they were also serving missi roti, a bread made from gram flour and something I’d never touch in India. But nostalgia is a strange thing; it creeps up and takes you by surprise when you least expect it. All of it, including the missi roti, hit all the right spots. Gongs sounded in my head with every bite, and not just because the food was delicious and reminiscent of Saturday evening dinners with my family, but also with the knowledge that here’s a restaurant that is only a 15-minute drive from where I live. If I ever feel homesick, it’s just the right place to cure me of it.

Feature photograph courtesy Grand Trunk Road


A Book Club Tour Of London’s Literary Greats

sherlock holmes museum


221B Baker Street is a fictional address in the City of Westminster that was the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character, Sherlock Holmes. Awkwardly placed between the real 237 and 241 Baker Street, it is now the Sherlock Holmes Museum and has become a literary landmark.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum, 221B Baker Steet, Marylebone, London NW1 6XE. Phoner: 020 7224 3688

The Langham Hotel, 1C Portland Place, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA. Phone: 020 7636 1000


On a perfect summer’s eve, my book club mates and I met at Baker Street by the 7ft tall statue of Sherlock Holmes. For that particular month, we were reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, so 221B Baker Street (where Holmes lived) was the obvious choice. One of the members remarked that they had never actually done a literary tour of Baker Street despite having lived in London all their life. That, in my opinion, is a mark of a true Londoner, or anyone who has lived their entire life in one city – they almost never tend to the see the big “tourist” spots unless they happen to go out with actual tourists. It seemed apt, then, that our first real jaunt of this gigantic tour de force of literature happened during a book club meet.

We sauntered towards 221B, which was, of course, closed – don’t all tourist spots in the UK close at 4 p.m.? – but we took some pictures by the door and read the inscriptions outside, that ubiquitous shiny blue plaque that is dotted across Central London.

But this was to be a literary tour, and a tour by definition requires you to visit more than just one place. So we then made our way to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s medical practice at No. 2 Upper Wimpole Street. It was here that he set up his (failed) career as an ophthalmologist and where he wrote the majority of Sherlock Holmes works while waiting for his patients (interestingly, it continues to be offices shared by medical professionals today). On our way to the medical practice, we happened to spot a plaque dedicated to Isaac Asimov, who was a member of the “Baker Street Irregulars”, one of the oldest and largest organisations devoted to Sherlock Holmes fandom.

sherlock holmes museum

Yet another surprise (again, before we had even reached Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s practice) awaited us in the form of a mural of Charles Dickens and his most popular characters, marking the space in Marylebone where he lived for a considerable amount of time. Here we were, a bunch of Sherlock Holmes geeks who thought Baker Street and its surroundings were solely devoted to the detective who some people think actually did exist – how naïve of us to ignore London’s great literary past, Asimov and Dickens – two giants who don’t quite feature in “tourist” guides when referring to Baker Street. What was meant to be a Sherlock special book club meeting turned into a true literary walk. So much of 19th and 20th Century literature marks different spots of London, it’s almost impossible to keenly seek them out.

sherlock holmes museum the langham hotel

We ended this particular meet at Upper Wimpole Street after seeing where Doyle created the works that made his most famous character the icon he currently is. And since this was such a success with everyone in the group, we decided that we had to do it again for our next book, which was, in a way, connected to Sherlock Holmes. We decided to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and meet at The Langham Hotel just by Oxford Street. The connection? Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously dined at The Langham with the publisher of Lippincott's Magazine, which led to the commissioning of The Picture of Dorian Gray and one of the best loved Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Sign of Four”. If you happen to wander past Oxford Street, take a slight detour to The Langham Hotel to read the blue plaque that commemorates this meeting – a small piece of literary history tucked in a corner of one of London’s most bustling areas.

Sherlock Holmes Museum photo by Anders Thirsgaard Rasmussen (Sherlock Holmes Museum) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Plaque photo by Spudgun67 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Langham Hotel photo by The Langham, London (The Langham, London) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Madame D Aims For Himalayan Heights


madame d nepali tibetan cuisine restaurant london tower hamlets


Madame D serves small plates of Nepali, Tibetan, and Indo-Chinese dishes. The menu includes chilli paneer, beef puffs, and momos, but most patrons swear by the prawn crackers.

Madame D, 76 Commercial Street, London E1 6LY. Phone: 020 7247 1341


A lot has been written and said about Madame D, the second restaurant by the owners of Gunpowder, inspired by Himalayan cuisine and showcasing the flavours of North East India, Nepal, and China. Like Gunpowder (and many other new restaurants with cramped spaces in London’s crowded restaurant scene), Madame D specialises in serving small plates to be shared. This meant that the limited menu shrank further for my dining companion and me – some of their dishes have MSG, but they were happy to accommodate my requirements and mark the dishes that don't.

From what I could eat, I can tell you that Madame D is all about the heat – the broken Naga chilli in the chilli lemonade infused the drink with its spices as long as I let it sit inside, making my lemonade the opposite of refreshing. But it’s the prawn crackers, those unassuming crisps most Asian restaurants serve, that Madame D takes to a whole new tantalising level. Accompanied by a spicy prawn pickle and tangy grated carrot kimchi, they were the best start we could have asked for.

The food that followed was delicious but not as fiery as the crackers and pickle we got earlier. In a city that boasts some of the best Indian restaurants outside the Indian subcontinent, it can be quite hard to hit the right flavour profile, but Madame D is bold, inventive, and confident – three qualities that are the bedrock of great food.

Feature photo by See-ming Lee [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


10 Questions With Jewellery Designer Keeley Hogg

keeley hogg i love dolly jewellery designer


Keeley Hogg is a jewellery designer and maker and owner of the brand I Love Dolly. All of her pieces are handcrafted using traditional methods. You can buy I Love Dolly jewellery from their Etsy page. You can also get in touch with Keeley and commission pieces by contacting her on her Instagram page.


Calling Keeley Hogg a mere “jewellery designer” is a bit of a misnomer: she’s more of a jewellery maker, a copper and silversmith, if you will. Give her a piece of copper and silver and she’ll turn these sheets and wires into earrings, pendants, bracelets, and even cufflinks. All her pieces, which can take up to 12 hours to make, are carefully and painstakingly created by hand. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. The City Story spoke with Keeley to find out what exactly attracted her to this craft and the story behind her jewellery brand I Love Dolly.

The City Story: When did you start making/designing Jewellery?

KH: Gosh, some time ago now – time flies! My former mother-in-law bought me some tools and was into all sorts of crafts including jewellery making which really inspired me to have a go. I started off with simple beading, which turned to wire-wrapping, which turned to silversmithing. I never knew the technical skill required for setting a stone until now. It's great to look at pieces of jewellery and understand the work involved.

TCS: What attracted you to this craft?

KH: I have dabbled in lots of crafts over the years such as knitting, crochet, life drawing, painting, pottery...if you are creative, it can be difficult to stick to just one! But making jewellery is multi-faceted and a great stage on which to play out your ideas, experiment, grow, and be free to explore artistry and craft. The endless possibilities continue to flame my passion for it – working with a range of metals (including wire and sheet silver, gold, copper, bronze, brass), soldering, metal paints, clay, enamelling, gemstones, electroforming, etching, upcycled materials – it taps into everything you could want creatively.

It helps that I love jewellery too!

silversmith keeley hogg i love dolly

TCS: Describe a typical day in your Jewellery studio – including the stages the metal and stone go through from start to finish.

KH: Well there is generally a lot of tea drinking involved! But aside from that, you start with a raw piece of sheet metal or wire, and it is then transformed using many processes such as sawing, filing, bending, shaping, texturing, hammering, soldering, and polishing before it looks like something you would want to wear. All of my jewellery is crafted by hand using traditional methods that have been used for many, many years. It's amazing what you can create with a few basic tools! Just heating a piece of silver until it melts into a ball can be fascinating (it's the geek in me). Setting stones opens up a whole new love and passion, with all the processes they go through before you buy them and they end up in a ring or in a brooch. I recently discovered the iolite stone (a purply-blue coloured stone). It's depth of colour is brilliant.

TCS: What's your favourite metal and stone to work with?

KH: There are so many types of stones, I really couldn't choose! I spent a day out at Hatton Garden recently buying gems (a place called Ward Gemstones, which is like heaven for jewellers). I had to be dragged away!

My passion for metal started with copper. It's a lovely rich colour that can be utterly transformed from the dull orange you see in, for example, your central heating pipes! It can be rustic or shiny and it can be soft and malleable to work with (perfect for weaving and wirewrapping). That said, silversmithing has given me the opportunity to really develop my skills and learn very advanced techniques I never thought would be accessible. I have learned most of my skills at very reasonably priced council-run courses in Waltham Forest and Redbridge where you get to meet inspiring tutors and fellow makers.

TCS: What are the key elements of your work?

KH: I like my pieces to look simple and elegant (even if the work involved tells a different story!) No two pieces are ever really the same when it comes to something handcrafted. The main point is to have a good workable design, an element of practicality and an immaculate finish.

TCS: Is there a story behind your brand name?

KH: Yes! My nan was called Doris and was often called Dolly. She was an inspiring, happy, positive, and feisty woman who was unfortunately only in my life into my early teens when she died. I still often think about her and would love her to have seen what I make. Calling my little shop I Love Dolly felt like the best way to have her somewhere in what I do.

silversmith keeley hogg i love dolly

TCS: Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery – one that you've designed or one that you wish you had designed and made. 

KH: My favourite pieces are those I have made for my husband. I made him a pair of cufflinks with the words “Vita Brevis” hand stamped onto them (he’s a Latin teacher and it was his dating profile date, which is how we met). They were an early creation in my silversmith career and are far from perfect – they are a little wonky and off centre and the hand stamping is uneven (with one letter even being back to front!) but he loves that I made them for him, which makes me love them too. I also made his wedding ring using sterling silver and gold and the two colours complement each other perfectly. I'm proud to see him wear and love something made with my own hands every day.

I am also inspired by jewellery from ancient times (the British Museum has lots on display) as techniques used then haven't changed much, which is astonishing when you think about how far we have come technology-wise in other respects. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it, I guess the old saying goes! They would have used pretty basic tools and some of the pieces are simply exquisite.

TCS: What are your design ethics? 

KH: It is always great to be inspired by other artists but you have to allow your own inspiration to do its work. So finding your own style is important. I still attend workshops/classes and if all the jewellers are set the same task it's unbelievable how different everyone's piece is!

TCS: How does your local surroundings/city inspire your work? 

KH: I like to draw on nature and things around me. I love geometric patterns and art deco styles. I sometimes work with old coins which are often beautifully patterned and textured as well as being steeped in history. I also scavenge for sea glass on beaches (around the UK and abroad). The best pieces for jewellery are perfectly frosted and discovering rare coloured glass is always a treat (and fascinating to learn why certain coloured glass ends up on particular beaches).

TCS: What's the final dream for I Love Dolly? 

KH: To keep being inspired, to keep learning and to continue to enjoy making pieces people love to wear. I am working on a commission piece at the moment for an anniversary gift and it is truly heartwarming to be able to transform their vision into the piece of jewellery they want to give their partner on such a special occasion. It is one of the best things about being a jeweller!


The Authentic Thai Food At Som Saa Has Bags Of Flavour


som saa thai restaurant spitalfields tower hamlets london


Som Saa is a Thai restaurant that started as pop-up in Hackney in 2015. After running a successful crowd-funding campaign, it opened as a permanent restaurant in Spitalfields where it serves authentic Thai food from perennial favourites such as green Thai curry to papaya salad with egg and prawns.

Som Saa, 43A Commercial Street, London E1 6BD. Phone: 020 7324 7790


How often do you go to a Thai restaurant and resist ordering the green curry? It doesn’t happen that often with me. But Som Saa, the hot not-so-new Thai kid on the block is pulling all the stops when it comes to authentic Thai dishes. You’ve probably walked past it loads of times if you are in and around Commercial Street in Spitalfields. With a fairly small menu offering delights like deep fried sea bass and smoked duck soup, Som Saa’s dishes have bags of flavour. Go there for a boozy lunch and eat to your heart’s content at this former fabric warehouse. Pop-ups turned restaurants are definitely having their day in the sun. Only in London!

If you’re one to follow the city’s hottest chefs and cook book writers and need their endorsements, you only have to look at your Instagram “discover” feed and see what the rage is all about. As someone who has had their fair share of green curries in London, I can definitely tell you that I will not be touching it at Som Saa. Because if the other stuff is so good, there’s no point in choosing your fall-back option, is there?

Feature photo by kiattipong2499 - stock.adobe.com