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Afternoon Tea

    Hitting the high notes – A limited edition jazz afternoon tea at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Hotel

    Our evening started as the sun set over the Hyde Park tree canopy. Shaking off my long day at a desk and having sat for a reflective half an hour, I was more than ready to slip into the Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel, to try out the limited edition Jazz Afternoon Tea with Binny & Aftab.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Sheraton Grand Park Lane Hotel
    but my verbose words are all mine.

    As I sank into the luscious carpet, the harpist gently strummed the final chords of a catchy pop tune (the song escapes me now) and I looked up to see the mischievous grin of Binny float through the door, Cheshire Cat style.

    We were shortly joined by Aftab, all smartly suited and booted, and we sank gratefully into our seats in the centre of the beautiful Palm Court. Twittering away as we caught up IRL, our waiter Paulo popped over to introduce himself and started the champagne flowing and charmingly checked our dietary requirements.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Presented with menus and a selection of teas – we were taken on a journey reaching back nearly a century, inspired by the golden era of Jazz during which the hotel first opened its doors in a glorious heyday of music and glamour.

    Advised by Paulo to choose a lighter tea from the 27 options (we loved him and his honest advice) Binny and Aftab were both enchanted with the spicy notes of the Zanzibar chai whilst I enjoyed the lovely Apple and Elderflower Green Tea.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The unique birdcage shaped tea tier was inspired by Sir Richard Bracewell Smith whom built the Park Lane hotel in the 1920’s and oversaw the placement of the groundbreaking internal steel structure, nicknamed “the birdcage”.

    #bloglife

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The finger sandwich array included honey roasted ham with celeriac & mustard rémoulade on beetroot bread (which we loved), smoked trout with pickled cucumber, horseradish mayonnaise, chicken curried mayonnaise on basil bread, free range egg served with mayonnaise and watercress, not to mention a gorgeous John Ross Smoked Salmon, Caper Cream,
    Dill & Seaweed Scone. Aftab and Binny asked for a couple of substitutions which were met without hesitation.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Then, the scones. Light, heavenly and accompanied by one of my favourite homemade jam selections ever – raspberry, lemon curd and peach, plus clotted cream just waiting to be slathered.

    “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As welcome as a flute lifted in delight after a thunderous brass run, the top tier was a delicate symphony of musically decorated sweet bites. I’ll stop labouring on the theme in a moment. (Spot the orchestra geek…)

    I couldn’t pick a favourite – none of them fell flat. A Sable Breton biscuit base topped with a light honey mousse and blackberry gêlée with a chocolate music sheet was both delicate and sharp, a coconut dacquoise with piña colada crème and tropical compote was a high note, the rich red velvet cake with orange butter reminded me of a cello trill and the chocolate tart with basil lime ganache and topped with an edible saxophone was perfect in cadence.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (9 music references in there if you happened to keep count.)

    Nattering long enough for the sun to dip below the horizon and the lights to dim for cocktails, we regretfully laid our eating instruments (10) and gathered our coats to go into the cold, cold night and many adventures.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I will definitely be returning.

    “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!” 

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Sheraton Grand Hotel Park Lane Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Psst. The limited edition Jazz afternoon tea at the Sheraton Grand is available Monday to Sunday 12:00pm – 7.30pm until 30 July 2017. Also worth noting are the times that a Harpist or Guitarist, Pianist or Jazz Band accompany the tea – a schedule is available on their website.

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    72 hours in Chester

    Chester is the first holiday I’ve ever booked through the power of Instagram alone. We had been looking for somewhere as a long weekend break (well, I say we, but I had actually been put on a travel ban which Mr Kiwi now mostly denies, his baby blues all innocent) when I spotted that a friend of mine had day tripped up to Chester. It was beautiful.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    So firing up the laptop, I booked us a cheeky little Cheshire staycation.

    Simply hopping on a train and scooting through the rolling countryside is a pleasure that I can’t get enough of – the excuse to lose myself in the pages of a book to the soothing background clickety-clack of train wheels and whistling winds – it’s a special kind of bliss.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We didn’t have many plans further than booking a hotel within the ancient city walls for the first two nights. Our mission was simple relaxation. Upon arrival mid-afternoon we checked in and promptly snoozed – because hopping on a train is clearly hard work…

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Waking up from our nap (cause adults) we googled a few things to do the next day, and set off wandering through the city centre.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    After a quick meal, and tipped off by our hotel concierge, we found ourselves nestled in a Tudor beamed locals pub tucked into The Rows. It feels like a dream city – full of ancient buildings, crooked lanes and history on every corner. It is also such a foodie city – with quirky pubs and great restaurants galore (we visited almost everyone) – not to mention having a barbershop/hairdressers on nearly every corner.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. It has a number of medieval buildings, but some of the black-and-white buildings within the city centre are Victorian restorations. It was so pretty – and the shopping is pretty good as well.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The next day dawn bright and with blue skies. We gambolled through Grosvenor Park, hopped onto a bus tour (in the cutest historic bus) and stopped for a pretty good flat white…

    …before boarding for a rather unique afternoon tea.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh, and we made sure to photograph the second most photographed clock in England. When in Rome and all that…

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    For our last night we snuck a little further into the countryside. Watch this space.

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Chester Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Is Chester on your ‘to visit’ list yet? It was a cracking staycation – compact with enough options to keep you amused but not enough to overwelm.

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    Afternoon Tea at the Baglioni Hotel, a chic corner of Kensington

    There is no delicate pinky waving of gossamer pastries or wafer-thin slivers of sandwiches that leave your appetite wanting at the Italian style Baglioni Hotel afternoon tea, but a delectable selection of molto bene classics that sets this apart as the Maserati of Kensington teas.

      Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Baglioni Hotel but I would definitely take this Afternoon Tea out for another spin on my own dime.

    The hotel is a quiet oasis of luxury (well, on the mid-week afternoon that we visited) just across the road from Kensington Palace and Hyde Park, all marble floors and glamorous setting – the perfect place to spend a few hours with good people.

    Speaking of whom, it just so happens that this particular day I was catching up with Fiona, from London Unattached for a few hours of relaxation, and to sample their tea. It reminded me of our trip to Italy – expressive flavours, generous portions and an underlying sense of cheeky humour – a refreshing twist to the delicacy of traditional English afternoon.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

     

    Sat in an intimate nook of the Brunello Bar and Restaurant the sun shone through the windows, we overlooked Londoners going about their business and gently clinked glasses to celebrating 3 years of friendship (well, according to the message we had received recently from Facebook anyway- I’m fairly sure it’s been longer.)

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We began as all the best catchups do, with a glass of Italian fizz (though a glass of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial or Ruinart is available) as we perused the short but sweet loose leaf tea menu.

     

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our sleek stand was presented with a flourish worthy of a F1 winners podium, and we tucked in with barely repressed glee to the selection of sandwiches. Egg laced with chives and lavished with mayonnaise, oak smoked Scottish salmon with fresh cream and chives, focaccia layered with bresaola and buffala mozzarella cheese, and a sun-dried tomato and ricotta cheese combination to tantalise the taste buds. After some lengthy consideration, we both voted the salmon as our favourite; a rich and satisfying sandwich nibble, and the focaccia a nod to the Italian heritage.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our scones were brought to order, freshly taken from the oven. Presented with traditional salvers of clotted cream and jam, we were also intrigued to receive a swirl of Nutella as an ode to La Dolce Vita.

    Smoothed upon their light scones, we nibbled our way through several topics, with top-ups of tea as requested.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The crowning glory was the top tier; a Pistachio encrusted cannoli, a trumpet shaped sfogliatina Napoletana, a sweet little Baci di dama (a ladies kiss), a lemon tart served with juicy berries and a custom made Tiramisu in a tear-drop shaped dish.

    I couldn’t resist the nibbling the cannoli mid-process, conjuring memories of Italian twilight and New York lunchtimes, and interrupting the traditional sandwiches > scone > sweet procedure that most aficionados follow but I felt like being a rebel that day, what can I say?

     Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    They were all lovely, but I think we both fell for the charms of the Lemon Tart. As a caffeine addict, the Tiramisu could have done with more coffee I think, but all was forgiven as Fiona regaled me with tales of her Italian adventures over the years. For Fiona’s story of actually making Cannoli, you’ll have to pop over to London Unattached.

    Over the years I’ve been luck enough to try a wide variety of Afternoon Tea. In fact so wide, that last year I ended up going on a tea-tox regime, somehow managing to only enjoy 3 swathes of Afternoon tea, so this was a nice second introduction back in the dreamy landscape of luxurious afternoons.

     Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    For a sleek, modern setting the Baglioni Hotel is a lovely spot to while away the hours, and it’s a perfect tea to take a fellow to – who knows, you might even spot a Maserati or two zooming along Kensington Road.

    One feels one would approve.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Baglioni Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Egerton Hotel: A pawfectly luxurious doggie afternoon tea.

    My cutest afternoon tea date (ever) arrived at our Egerton Hotel rendezvous wearing a blue bow tie and his salt & pepper hair suavely combed – just right for a Kensington afternoon tea. 

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Paws
    down, this is the cutest afternoon tea I’ve ever done. Ever. And I
    shan’t be apologising for the litany of puns about to litter this post.
    #Sorrynotsorry

    As my date for the day is still rather young, he also brought his gorgeous Momma (one of our Aqua Kyoto bottomless brunch blog addicts – if you haven’t been, you need to get there soon), and the utterly delicious Momma-to-be MontgomeryFest overlord for an afternoon of squealing, pinky raising, scone banter and a cheeky glass of champagne.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This is how expats do (not quite) Mothers Day in case you ever wondered.

    Well, some of them.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My love for animals is fairly well documented, so when I discovered
    that a beautiful hotel in a gorgeous part of London had a doggy
    afternoon tea, all I had to do was entice a few of my favorite people to accompany me and lure our fetching date out with the promise of woofles. I mean scones.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Met with the wagging tail of Olly (our two-year old collie cross, bow-tie clad date rescued from Battersea Dog and Cats home) closely followed by Christina and Annie, we were seated in the bar of the  5-star luxury boutique Egerton Hotel, our table ready for an onslaught of expats. My voice was a little bit Husky with a cold, but feeling Ruff was worth the visit. Boom tch!

    It was paw-fection.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It wouldn’t be a London building without a dash of ridiculously amazing history. No. 17 and No. 19 Egerton Terrace now stand on what was part of an
    84-acre parcel of land left in trust in 1627 by Henry Smith, Alderman of
    the City of London, ‘for the relief and ransom of poor captives being
    slaves under Turkish pirates’.  Of course it was.

    Having passed through a few hands, it’s now a 28-room oasis of opulence in the heart of Kensington. Pups and their owners gather here both on the weekend (and to stay obviously) to while away a few hours of indulgence. After ordering our tea and clinking our glasses, out came our stands, one for the ladies and one for our gentlepup.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And out came the squealing photographs.

     Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    He was so, so patient with us. As were the lovely staff who fussed over Olly almost as much as we did – and in true luxury hotel style kept chatting to him by name all afternoon.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    His 3 tiered stand consisted of chicken and beef meatloaf (savouries), homemade doggie biscuits (the scone course) and a tub of special doggie ice cream (the sweet). Forget cute kids, this scene made me get all broody for putting together a menagerie (though I’m not sure what the cat would have to say on that subject – perhaps ‘you have got to be kitten me?’. I’m not even going to apologise for that pun.)

    For the humans, we enjoyed selection of mouth-watering sandwiches (all of the traditional fare – cucumber and cream cheese, coronation chicken, a salmon on walnut bread and egg with a flaked almond crumb), freshly baked scones with
    Devonshire clotted cream and choice of preserves, toffee caramel cupcakes,
    chocolate orange brownie slivers, lemon and poppy seed gateaux, blackberry
    stuffed macaron, apple and blackberry crumble with a delectable coffee undertone and spiced pumpkin and plum tart.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    All homemade, served with endless lashing of individually potted tea and the cutest of fellow diners.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Just. Look. At. These. Cuties. (Above and below.)

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    However, I did have one moment of terrifying indecision that I’ve never had to face in my *too long to admit* time period of afternoon tea addiction – there are two schools of thought on the Jam/Cream or Cream/Jam debate, but what do you do when the cream is served with irresistable slices of fresh strawberry?

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My photos aren’t the best as I was too busy trying to steal Olly cuddles, but I feel that the sacrifice was worth it a hundred times over. We had a howling good time being whined and dined.

     Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

     It fact, the afternoon tea at the Egerton Hotel was doggone delicious.

    Luxury Afternoon Tea Egerton Hotel Kensington Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    A handful of unusual London foodie destinations

    Do you ever find yourself in an out-of-the-ordinary corner of London, and hankering for bite to eat? How about when you have to run an unusual errand or meet up with a friend halfway between your place and theirs?

    Trafalgar Hotel's Vista Bar Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Kurobuta Japanese Cuisine Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Nb: Post contains a couple of blogger invites**/discounts##.

    Or even, when your friends have left it up to you as the ‘foodie’ to pick a venue for dinner in an awkward part of town not known for gourmet credentials? That’s when restaurant selection can run a little bit creative and come up some unusual discoveries. (Pssssssst. To jump on the thematic bandwagon, these would make great surprise Valentine’s Day spots with partners, friends or family.)

    Marble Arch – Kurobuta
    Now, this little place really surprised me. Not far from the shisha bars of Edgeware Road, a few of us bloggers arranged a get-together (thanks to a Timeout deal) and enjoyed their bottomless brunch on a busy Saturday afternoon. The vibe is very informal Japanese, conjuring memories of the bright Izakayas we visited in Kyoto – but had better seating and happily provided knives and forks for those who haven’t conquered chopsticks. Sushi, grilled items and build-your-own ramen bowls are served buffet style, with a maki platter and delicate pumpkin tempura slivers (they were divine) brought to the table, alongside a welcome cocktail and endless prosecco. But, my favourite dish of the day were our (extra charge) portions of BBQ pork belly enrobed by steamed buns and served with spicy peanut soy sauce. Founded by Australian Scott Hallsworth (formerly of Nobu) this ‘junk-food Japanese’ pop-up turned served alongside acoustic music definitely hit the Saturday afternoon sweet spot.

     Kurobuta Japanese Cuisine Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Kurobuta Japanese Cuisine Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Leicester Square – Heliot Steak House at the Hippodrome 
    Despite
    popping up on umpteen ‘best steak in London’ lists, we were still
    rather unsure about visiting a casino in Leicester Square (especially one so close to the tourist infested tube station), but it turns
    out that the Hippodrome is a sure bet for a good meal. We visited early
    on a weekday evening, feeling a little a little Kenny Rogers (ie. that country music classic The Gambler “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run”) but left feeling more James Bond (Casino Royale) after enjoying the opulent surrounds of the former circus variety theatre. Oh, and cool facts – the restaurant is named after the famous female lion tamer who fed raw meat to her big cats  over 100 years ago, the theatre featured a 100,000 gallon tank in which polar bears and sea lions would swim and Harry Houdini used to perform there.

    Heliot Steak House at the Hippodrome Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Borough Market – Roast **
    Stop laughing already. I know that Borough Market is a London foodie epicenter and has been for decades, but even living across the road from the market, I rarely ever thought to pop upstairs and dine in the restaurants that overlook the stalls once the market closes down. To be fair, my basket and bags would always be too heavy with fresh produce to need to. But Roast has always been on my ‘to visit’ list – and if their main meals are anything like the British-sourced canapes we tried at a blogger event, I need to visit properly, stat.

    Borough Market Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Borough Market Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Trafalgar Square – Trafalgar Hotel’s Vista Bar
    Just. Look. At. The. View.

    Trafalgar Hotel's Vista Bar Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Trafalgar Hotel's Vista Bar Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Southwark – OXBO Bankside Restaurant, Hilton Hotel ##
    Somehow managing to corral a hashtag of bloggers together just before Christmas, Eppie introduced us to the delights of the Oxbo Bankside Restaurant. As there were a fair few of us around our generous table, we were proffered the group menu served en familie from heaped platters alongside a few cheeky glasses of prosecco which when down a celebratory treat. I particularly enjoyed the generous slices of Josper grilled sirloin steak and dark & white chocolate bavarois with spiced orange segments. There is a real focus on ingredient provenance which makes me want to revisit and I’ve recommended it to several friends looking for a good group venue that is just the right side of quirky quality. For a full review definitely check out Eppie’s far more detailed post. (Oh, and while you’re there, our favourite pub for a geezer-style, proper roast dinner is just down the road…)

    OXBO Bankside Restaurant Adventures of a London Kiwi OXBO Bankside Restaurant Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Shepherds Bush – K West Hotel Glam Rock Afternoon Tea **
    Across the road from the ginormous Westfield Shopping Centre in W12 and less than a mile from the infamous Hammersmith Apollo – a Grade II listed Art Deco music venue – the modern 4-star K West Hotel tucked in amongst plain brick flats, has played host to many of British rock music greats. Rather excited to visit the former BBC Kensington House building, now named after the building featuring on David Bowie’s ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ (both myself and Mr Kiwi couldn’t live without music and have spent many an evening in the Apollo) not to mention housing Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bowie, The Kinks & Roxy Music. Nowadays the glass-skinned hotel is home to a luxury cocktail bar and afternoon tea that can be served until midnight.

    K West Hotel Glam Rock Afternoon Tea Adventures of a London Kiwi

    K West Hotel Glam Rock Afternoon Tea Adventures of a London Kiwi


    North Greenwich – The Peninsula Restaurant 
    Tucked behind the maraudering hordes of concert-goers streaming into the O2 arena, the Intercontinental Hotel is a quiet haven of luxury. Our meal (full review of the Peninsula Restaurant here) was delicious, and popping for a city skyline post-prandial cocktail to the 18th floor SkyBar we discovered one of the best views of the Millenium dome roof from the
    other side of the hotel – in the Ladies bathroom of all place – that had
    us snapchat swooning. Such millenials. 

    The Peninsula Hotel North Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Peninsula Hotel North Greenwich Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Walthamstow – Gods Own Junkyard
    Akin
    to waking up in a Baz Luhrman film – and shades of the real Moulin
    Rouge – it is simply impossible to taken in
    everything in one look. So, after settling in a corner of the Rolling
    Scone Cafe with a hot chocolate and tea respectively (we called it
    warding off the winter cold, but really any excuse will do) before
    another wander to two around the incredible space (and a visit around to
    the corner pub for a table full of fries accompanied by feline hosts.) A full love-in of Gods Own Junkyard can be found here.

    Gods Own Junkyard Walthamstow Adventures of a London KiwiGods Own Junkyard Walthamstow Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Ok, I said a handful and I ended up sharing 8 unusual foodie destinations around London. And I have no regrets.

    Unusual London foodie destinations Adventures of a London Kiwi

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