Friday, 18 July 2014

Temple of Agape, The Festival of Love, the Southbank, central London

The work of Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan, the Temple of Agape is made up of hundreds of  flag-like signs, hand-painted with words about love.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Snog on the Southbank, central London

Pink My Ride: Snog flogs frozen yoghurt on the Southbank

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Mouth of the Tyne Festival, Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear

Tynemouth's distinguished Early Victorian Front Street decked out for the Mouth of the Tyne Festival

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Allard's Lounge, Front Street, Tynemouth, Tyneside

An eclectic, exuberant cafe-bar on Tynemouth's Front Street, Allard's Lounge serves a decent selection of seafood, meat and vegetable tapas. There are a few tables outside, but head inside for some buzz and bling. With a very high ceiling, the lounge bar is decorated with skull and cross bones wallpaper, glittering chandeliers, back-lit, gold-framed mirrors and Arts and Crafts padded benches. Claim some seats and then order at the bar, where there is Moretti beer on tap. Among the tapas, the plump king prawns in a creamy chilli sauce (£5.95) pack flavour, as does the patatas bravas, which is served with a big dollop of alioli and tomato sauce. You can also get pots of tasty seafood or chicken paella (both £4.95), while the halloumi and chorizo (£3.95) is salty, but succulent. Be sure to order the chips, which are fat juicy wedges of potato: some of the best you'll find. And the olives in garlic (£2.95) are plump and moreish. But avoid the lamb on skewers, served with a creamy mint sauce, which can be disappointing - the meat may be tough and dry.  Order enough tapas and it might be accompanied by some passable bread and olives. Allard's can get very busy and the service brusque. Although the food can take a while, this cafe-bar has enough atmosphere to keep you well entertained. 8/10

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Graffiti Art, opposite the East Dulwich Tavern, South London

Conor Harrington's Dulwich Fight Club, part of the baroque-themed Dulwich Street Art Festival. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Café Het Paleis, Paleisstraat, Amsterdam

On a corner overlooking one of the tasteful canals just west of Amsterdam's centre, Café Het Paleis has outside tables well placed for soaking up the charm of this atmospheric city. But you may find the simple food a bit disappointing. Although the crispy chips (3 euros) are fine and filling, the grilled focaccia sandwiches (around 6 euros) are slim and the chicken and mozzarella filling can be overwhelmed by the jalapeño. The coffee is good quality, but the cups are small. Still, you can get free tap water and service by the young staff is smooth. Take your time and watch the steady flow of passing tourists and locals gravitating towards the picturesque waterways in this part of the city. 7/10

Battersea Power Station Development, South London

An aerial view of the ongoing development around Battersea Power Station 

NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Dam, Amsterdam

A sprawling hotel in the touristy heart of Amsterdam, the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky claims five star status, but many of its communal areas feel jaded, rather than luxurious. The original 1866 building has been modified out of all recognition, making the hotel a confusing juxtaposition of old and new. The ground floor is a labyrinth and the lifts are in sore need of an upgrade.  Still, the bedrooms have been modernised and are comfortable and well-equipped with safes, decent WiFi, quiet air-con and other mod-cons. They are decorated with large stylish black and white prints, while the window might offer a view over the rooftops of old Amsterdam. There will be a large free bottle of water in your room.  The staff are well-drilled, but the check-in process can be wearisome. If you don't have a credit card, then they charge 100 euros to your debit card, which you can get back, if you don't spend it.