1. Last chance to head to New Zealand for a trip of a lifetime courtesy of Stories Beat Stuff

    Cast your minds back to April friends - you might remember TCé flagged up a comp where you picked a prized possession you’d trade for the chance to win a pretty awesome experience of a lifetime in New Zealand - a country that looks like it should be on the destination hitlist of any self-proclaimed urban adventurer. But whether you entered or not, you’ll be pleased to know you’ve got one last opportunity as Stories Beats Stuff enters into Phase 3, offering two new adventures which you can enjoy with three of your pals. There’s the glamorous City Splendour, which will take you around three of New Zealand’s largest cities and let you get up to everything from whale watching to club hopping, before later relaxing at a boutique hotel, VIP style:

    Or you can choose Culture Kaboom, where you’ll take in New Zealand’s volcanic history by visiting boiling mud pools, steaming geysers and a hot water beach before learning more about Maouri culture by meeting locals and experience the indigenous lifestyle firsthand:

    We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think those two trips looked brilliant - and if you think so too, simply submit a video or a photo of what you would trade-off, select the three friends who’ll be joining you (pick wisely), and share your entry on all your social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) to get as many votes as possible.  You can even win flights for two to New Zealand for just voting.

    Personally, we’ve got our eyes set on Culture Kaboom for being the epitome of YOLO (“you only live once”), so’ll be entering with this:

    There’s nothing more we prize more than our vinyls - and these two - from the late Amy Winehouse - were the very first we received she debuted her album Frank nine years ago. Call us crazy for putting our Amy original promos on the line, but we’re down with the philosophy that stories beat stuff (even beloved stuff!), so it’d be great if you can vote for us just here) - and let us know when you enter as we’ll be more than happy to return the favour!

    To enter, visit www.storiesbeatstuff.com

    This is a Sponsored Post on behalf of Tourism New Zealand

     

  2. Last chance to see… The Rolling Stones: 50 exhibition at Somerset House

    These candid and insightful photos captures the history of one of the world’s most iconic bands over half a century - from rebellious teen starters working the club circuit to wealthy aged rockers who can fill a stadium of diehard fans to this day. Admission to the exhibition (in the East Wing Galleries, East Wing) is FREE and on until August 27th.

    The Rolling Stones: 50 Exhibition

    The Rolling Stones: 50 Exhibition

    The Rolling Stones: 50 Exhibition

    The Rolling Stones: 50 Exhibition

    For more info, visit www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/rolling-stones-50

     

  3. Get away this Bank Holiday with Fly.co.uk

    There is nothing better than a bank holiday weekend, three whole days of unadulterated holiday relaxation. There are parties everywhere and everybody’s mate is putting on a BBQ. Only problem is, invariably the English weather can ruin it. You know it, I know it. I have spent too many bank holiday weekends under a brollie, turning the snags on the Barbie and serving up soggy lettuce – not pretty.

    Barcelona

    If your plans are looking either paper-thin or none existent then never fear – there are still plenty of options to chose from. You could head to the lovely British coast, but then, isn’t everyone else doing that? And doesn’t that spell motorway tail backs to Timbuktu? How about getting the train to an historic market town? At the small price of hundreds of pounds and still the English weather to negotiate. How about a trip to the sun? Too late in the day and overpriced? Not necessarily. Even at this late date doing a bank holiday trip on a shoestring is still possible.

    Paris

    Cheap flights from the UK are plentiful but deciphering the multitude of sites can be a headache. Sites do exist to make it a bit easier though. Fly.co.uk scans a massive 750 airlines to bring up the cheapest options for the dates you want to leave on. Destinations are anywhere and everywhere  - from the far flung to doorstep breaks. How about spending the bank holiday weekend in Marrakech… done. Or Belfast… no problem. There are cheap flight tickets galore to destinations that guarantee a final indulgence in vitamin D: the best kind of healthy lifestyle, if you ask me. Equally, there are flights to culture hotspots such as Paris, Barcelona and Budapest. Why not use the bank holiday to feed the mind and enrich the soul? Nirvana here we come!

    The August bank holiday may be one of the busier holiday weekends of the year but don’t think that means there are no last minute deals to be had. With the wealth of options out there, it’s definitely a buyers market. What better way to spend the bank holiday than watching the paralympics from the sun lounger? Believe me, I styled my Olympic watching this way and boy, it felt good.

    So don’t get stuck under the brollie on the 26th. . Picture this: sun, sand, pina colada – I’m there already.

    fly.co.uk

    This is a sponsored post on behalf of Fly.co.uk

     

     

  4. Somewhere you should go… Notting Hill Carnival 2012

    The final bank holiday weekend of the summer can mean only one thing in London… it’s carnival time! So don the feathers, loosen those hips, and grab that whistle to enjoy two days of West-Indian style partying in the heart of West London’s Ladbroke Grove. Yes, we know it’s crowded and challenging to get to if you’re not in that neck of the woods, but Notting Hill Carnival is THE essential bank holiday activity in the capital – and once you’re there with the throngs of people drinking a can of Red Stripe and a portion of jerk chicken, the trauma of arriving will be a distant memory, guaranteed!

    Notting Hill Carnival

    The carnival weekend, running over two days, is dominated by the carnival parade, 40 sound systems and BBQs serving up charred delights. The two day event runs over Sunday - ‘Family Day’- and Monday, a more adult affair, although the fun happens throughout both. As always the parade is a fiesta of colour and dancing. Sound systems old and new  to look out for this year include:

    • The Flavour Magazine soundstage - featuring tunes from the late great Bob Marley and special guest performers (Westbourne Park station -  Tavistock Road and junction with Lemington Spa Villas) 
    • KCC and the Rocking Crew - for the latest US house offerings (Wornington Rd) 
    • Channel One for some deep rockers reggae (Junction of Westbourne Park Rd and Leamington Villas Rd) 
    • Gaz’s Rockin Blues (a stalwart since the 70s) for ska, rock and punk (Outside 103 Talbot Rd)
    • Sancho Panza if you fancy funky house and disco (Corner of Kensal Rd and Alderson St) 
    • The Fun Bunch - in honour of the late DJ Swing, expect some quality R&B, hip-hop, boogie and garage (Junction of Talbot Rd and Sutherland Place)
    • Norman Jay’s Good Times - It returns this year, promising exactly what it says on the tin (West Row off Kensal Road
    • Latin Rave Street Jam - always fun to get those salsa moves down with random strangers! (Outside 318 Portobello Rd) (Full list of Soundsystems can be found here…)
    Notting Hill Carnival

    Buy food from the family BBQ at the side of the road and beers from anyone passing with a shopping trolley full. Although the largest street party in Europe, people have worked hard to keep carnival a local, community affair - so let’s try and keep it that way. (Words: Laura Thornley)

    Check out our photogallery of Notting Hill Carnival 2011, just here

    Carnival Tips

    Here’s a few tips to ensure you have a wonderful and safe time if you’re heading to the carnival over the Bank Holiday:

    1)  Travel light - it gets extremely crowded along the various roads at carnival and it’s easy for pickpockets to have a field day.  Keep bags zipped up and as close to your body as possible; avoid backpacks.

    2)  Carry cash - it’s rare to find a cash machine (or anyone who’ll take cards!) so it’s best to be prepared.

    3)  Wear comfortable shoes - you WILL do alot of walking.

    4)  Bring your own snacks and drinks -  there’s no rule that says you can’t ;-)

    5)  Expect to pay up to £2 to use a toilet.

    6) Carry tissues and spare loo roll as it’s likely most places will run out quickly.

    7)  Catch the procession if you can, then find a decent soundsystem and spend the day there (this year we recommend King Tubby, Latin Rave Street Jam and Music is Sound-system); as mentioned, it gets ridiculously crowded (especially along the procession route), so once you’ve got your snaps of costumed revellers, chill out at one of the many soundsystems - click here to see a map of where you can find them.

    8)  Watch what you eat.  You’ll pay up to a tenner for a meal and a drink (but snacks like donuts and ‘festivals’ (fried dumplings) aren’t really marked up and can be a good filler if you don’t want to spend £20 on lunch and dinner throughout the day). Also, if you’re going for jerk chicken, make sure it’s cooked thoroughly.

    9) Head to Ladbroke Grove to catch the “real” carnival. Tourists rarely make it beyond the Westway, but if you do, expect to experience a more community-vibe on the route to Kensal Road (and cheaper jerk chicken!).

    10) Don’t forget your whistle or horn.  You can buy them at the carnival, but it’ll cost you plenty.

    11) Get to Westbourne Park station earlier than later when you’re leaving.   Unfortunately, this is the station near the “backend” of the carnival - but there’s a terrible bottleneck which is being manned by police and it’ll take you ages to get through.  If you’re leaving late, it’s worth walking back to Notting Hill Gate/Ladbroke Grove.

    If you have any more tips, feel free to share them via Twitter or on our Facebook page - otherwise, have a good one! 

    For more info, visit www.thenottinghillcarnival.com

    Notting Hill Carnival

     

  5. Somewhere you should go… Bookstock at The Book Club

    The Book Club is good at street parties - if you made it to their Diamond Jubilee bash you’ll already know. But if you didn’t make that, you’ve now got a second chance. This Bank Holiday weekend,  The Book Club is hosting another bigger and better street party: Bookstock. For all those born under the sign of Aquarius you will know that its inspired namesake made the history books as the ultimate festival - so they have set themselves quite a task. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the Stones will be making an appearance (too old anyway?) but there will be some amazing acts, food and fun for one last hooray to the summer months on August 26th.

    Bookstock 2011

    First up is the Dub Pistols, who will be performing old and new music live. Also taking care of the music side of things are We Were Evergreen and The Bikini Beach Band - masters of surf noir pop covers. Or if it’s a rave you’re after, then how about a glo-in-the-dark neon 90s ping pong rave? (I’m sold already).  There will also be tunes spun featuring Fleetmac Wood - a mashup of Fleetwood Mac re-edits.  Finally, expect locally produced food and booze, plus prizes for best fancy dress. You couldn’t ask for much more, right? (Words: Laura Thornley) 

    For more info, visit www.wearetbc.com/bookstock

     

  6. Something you should see… Stop Making Sense

    With the summer days almost over and the melancholic autumn breeze slowly creeping in, you might find yourself more inclined to just chill and watch a decent flick two.  Well, the good folks at Sugarhouse Studios have been kind enough to offer an eccentrically joyful mix of sounds, images (and puppets!)  to help you do just that.

    Stop Making Sense

    Widely regarded as one of the best rock movies ever made, Stop Making Sense (directed by Jonathan Demme, who went on to win an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs) follows the innovative American New Wave band Talking Heads for three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983 as part of their tour to promote their album Speaking in Tongues. Captured in a straightforward manner,  the film is a visual and aural feast from beginning till the end.

    Those of you unaware of the genius that is David Byrne and his band mates, brace yourself because you’re in for a treat. As for the loyal fans,  this interactive film experience will give them  a chance to try and come with even more eccentric clothes than the ones wore by the group and imitate the otherworldly dance moves of Mr Byrne. Part of the Scala Beyond film season (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
    Sugarhouse Studios and Assemble present STOP MAKING SENSE takes place on Saturday 25 August at Sugarhouse Studios. For more information visit www.sugarhousestudios.co.uk/stop-making-sense

     

  7. Somewhere You Should Go… Mela

    One of my favourite things about London in the summer is all the festivals that spring up.  Come rain or shine, Londoners love nothing more than getting outside to hear some great music and eat some delicious food whether we’re in our wellies or flip flops.

    So one of the last fests worth checking out this summer is Mela - a celebration of South Asian culture combining traditional artists and up and coming talent with a line-up of classical music, British Asian urban artists, dance, comedy and cabaret, Asian-influenced street theatre, circus performances and more.

    Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Mela  promises to be better than ever with its vibrant carnival winding its way through the park led by show stopping sculptures and featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Bollywood Brass Band and BBC Asian network DJs - and with great weather expected this Sunday, it looks like this is a definite for this weekend’s to-do list!

    Mela takes place on Sunday, August 19th at Gunnersbury Park from 1pm- 9pm. For more info, visit www.londonmela.org

     

  8. Somewhere you should eat… Flat Iron at The Owl & Pussycat

    For the past five weeks, steak-lovers in East have formed a somewhat orderly queue to pile into an upstairs room at The Owl & Pussycat on Redchurch Street  and get a load of  ”the flat iron” - a unique cut of slow reared, tender beef that packs a serious punch in the taste stakes, all for just a tenner.  Here, you can enjoy a real top selection of meat cooked however you like and served with a choice of sauces (Bloody Mary, Bearnaise, Fresh Horseradish cream prepared on the night or peppercorn, £1) and some pretty awesome sides like  dripping cooked chips (£2.50), roast aubergines with tomato, basil and parmesan (£2.50), or a pear and blue cheese salad with candied pecans and lemon dressing (Sophie’s salad, £2.50).  So if you’re after a quirky dinner spot that’ll impressive your friends (as well as your taste buds) plan a visit to this remarkable pop-up pronto as its run comes to an end soon.

    Flat Iron

    Other highlights at Flat Iron include the fresh popcorn appetiser, an enticing cocktail list (you can make your own Bloody Marys!) and  soft drinks like the strawberry and basil crush and orange and rosemary cooler - oh, and if the dessert of the day happens to be the caramel mousse (sprinkled with salt), you’re in for a treat.

    Flat Iron

    Flat Iron

    Flat Iron at The Owl & Pussycat is open Tuesday to Saturday from 6-10pm (and no booking required).  For more info, visit steakiswhatyouwant.com

     

  9. Somewhere you should go… Latino Festival by Carnaval Del Pueblo

    Samba dancing, extravagant outfits, pulsating Latin beats and millions of ecstatic revellers. Yes, we’re talking about Rio de Janeiro’s famous ‘Carnaval’ – the infamously spectacular celebration of Brazilian culture that draws partygoers to Rio annually from across the globe.

    But perhaps you couldn’t afford the plane ticket this time round.

    Latino Festival

    That’s ok. It’s a little known secret that every year, Latin America’s penchant for flamboyant festivity arrives to London in the form of the Carnaval Del Pueblo. Renamed Latino Festival this year (following the closure of its previous venue London Pleasure Garden), it will now be taking place at The Coronet Theater in Elephant & Castle on August 18th.

    The event has been a feature of London cultural life for over a decade, featuring samba, merengue and capoeira rhythms, as well as music and dance from Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador and the Oru Carnaval in Bolivia. Not to mention dazzlingly colourful costumes and dance lessons. Though smaller than unusual, Saturday’s event  will include a colourful programme of performances to keep the Carnaval Del Pueblo legacy going strong for another year, running all day from 12-8pm. ‘Que legal!’ (How nice.)

    Entry is £3, but for more info visit www.carnavaldelpueblo.com

     

  10. Somewhere you should go…The Jump Off finals

    What do Labrinth, Professor Green and dance crew Diversity all have in common? Aside for their obvious affinity to hip-hop, they were once unknown names that first earned their stripes at The Jump Off - one of the capital’s most energetic arenas for burgeoning talent where, since 2003, the battles have been delightfully rowdy (think Eminem’s 8 Mile with a few more categories i.e comedy, producing, singing and even modelling)  and the stakes quite high, offering 20k (!) in cash prizes and the high possibility of  making it in the industry.



    Quite timely then that just as the Olympics wraps up, this competition sees its dance finale take place on August 13th at Scala in Kings Cross, following a seven month season.  Dance crews Prototype and the Soul Mavericks will be competing for a £10,000 prize, so if you’re still high off the games, know your popping from your locking and fancy getting a glimpse of some serious contenders in action, head over to North London tonight  for what should be one incredible bout.
    For more info, visit  http://uk.jumpoff.tv