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Taylor Swift ‘London Boy’ guide to the capital 💕

Taylor Swift ‘London Boy’ guide to the capital 💕

“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon…”

It’s no secret Cooper and I are Swifties (the collective term for ‘fans of Taylor Swift’). He might not like me mentioning it too much in public, but trust me, we’re up there dancing with the best of them at her shows 😁

 

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You’re likely to know by now that she’s released a new album – the 7th studio album in her excellent collection. Taylor Swift London Boy – we love this track on Lover! Don’t get your hopes up about running into her in the UK capital though. The song tells a story about where she spends time with her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn. And they’re known for not advertising where they are.

But you can still take a wander around places that are obviously close to her heart. (and if you’re a super fan, you might have heard about this odd theory that her lyrics actually map out a heart around London. hehe)

Must say, I’ve read some rather cynical accounts of Swifty’s London Boy guide to the city. But, as someone who is also rather in love with London, I kinda like her guide.

Taylor Swift London Boy city guide

We’ve compiled some travel info for any of you other Swifties out there interested in taking in the experiences and areas she’s mentioned.

Camden Market

In Taylor Swift’s London Boy she mentions “Camden Market in the afternoon”. Ok so Camden is pretty cool and you’ll find a lot of things (probably stuff you don’t need) at the market. If you get tired of big crowds though, don’t go in the afternoon.

We’d suggest going later at night, or early in the morning. Camden Market is well worth a look, but time it so you don’t get trampled!

Maybe try some halloumi fries while you’re there. With thousands of views, this is one of Cooper’s most popular videos on YouTube. Still can’t believe he visited and ate them without me!

FEST is also a nice spot that decorates according to the season. Nice to go for a drink away from the crowds.

 

Highgate and Hampstead Heath

Taylor’s spent a bit of time in the suburbs of North London. It’s known to be a bit affluent, posh even. Granted, we like it. We house sat in Crouch End recently. We also enjoyed a house sit near beautiful Hampstead Heath that boasts miles and miles of parkland walks, lakes and stunning views across London.

There’s a number of tube/Overground stops that will take you right up to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath.

Leafy Highgate is best known for its cemetery. It’s an old one, and also the final resting place for many well-known figures including another one of our music faves, George Michael.

 

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West End and Soho

The West End is a catchall term for London’s central entertainment and shopping districts, like Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square.

 

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Like Camden, it gets very very crowded. But there’s some cool experiences to be had here. Most of ours include food 😆

Sketch, pictured above, is pretty special (don’t miss going to the bathrooms – just trust us). For a bit of craziness in Soho, you’ll find us digging for an afternoon drink deal at Bar Soho. (Swifty mentions ‘drinking in the afternoon’… sure, it’s a thing on a sunny day 🌞). There’s plenty of food joints, bars and pubs in the vicinity of Bar Soho, if you can get yourself down that way.

And when you need a snack (yup, you know what I’m talking about), go here:

Hackney, Shoreditch and the east end

aww, our ‘London home’ side of the city. For a large part of the last century the east end struggled. Much of it was badly hit during WWII, and the poorest Londoners resided here.

A lot has happened in recent years. Shoreditch and neighbouring Dalston are arguably ‘trendy’. No doubt there’s a cool energy, lots of boutique stores, arty experiences and a surprising side of London to see.

Taylor Swift in London Boy mentions Hackney as a place to explore, over “Louis V on Bond Street”. Agreed.

Broadway Market is our absolute favourite experience in the east. Head over there early on Saturday for one of the best, loveliest local markets in the city. Around the corner is a fabulous bar/restaurant/pop-up store space called Mare Street Market. Highly recommended. Then, take your foodie treats, sit in London Fields (park) and people watch.

You can view east London in all its glory from this excellent rooftop venue:

 

High tea in London Boy

I read a news item saying that ‘purists’ will be upset with Taylor Swift for calling ‘afternoon tea’ ‘high tea’. Weird – that’s how I know it. And that’s how it’s marketed. All tastes the same 😋

Top London travel tip: before coming to London, sign up for a discount site like LivingSocial or Groupon. There’s plenty of awesome deals on high tea or afternoon tea! Buy one ahead of your trip and indulge.

 

Brixton and south London

Down to south London now. Brixton is famous for music, cool markets and lots of new fun things opening all the time.

Jump on the Victoria line and head on over to this side of the city. Culture Trip‘s published a helpful guide on things to do in Brixton.

 

“Stick with me, I’m your Queen…”

Ok so you’re coming to the capital. You’ve seen The Crown, Victoria… Get amongst some Royal action while you’re in town. Why not.

Head to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Windsor for highlights.

 

Bond Street and central London

In London Boy, Taylor Swift mentions ‘Louis V’ (the store), but implies exploring the rest of London outside of the glitz is just as fun (true).

You do need to explore central London though. Why? Because it is lovely!

From the historical buildings in Bloomsbury to stunning St Paul’s and Thames walks – find out why people, including us and Swifty, fall in love with this place.

 

Bonus: get yourself to a good old fashioned English pub

A quintessential London experience: the pub. They’re different in England than pubs in other places. Cosy, chilled, good times.

Careful in London that you don’t get dragged into a touristy pub – nothing wrong with them, but they’re often more expensive and lack the authentic charm that your local neighbourhood pubs have.

One of our favourites is in Angel, east London. Take a look.

 

So you see, Taylor Swift views the city like many of us do. For those who don’t like it, tough. The visitor numbers can’t be denied, nor our fabulous city’s millions of fans all over the world. I’ll take my rose-tinted view whenever I can 🌈

 

Please do add your tips or questions in the comments below. See you in London!

 

Taylor Swift London Boy, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19

 

 

LoveFit 2017: music and fitness festival UK

LoveFit 2017: music and fitness festival UK

 

Congrats to the producers of this weekend’s LoveFit 2017 festival in the UK – the first of its kind – that combines dance music with health + fitness activities.

It was fun to be invited along.

While in this instance we did more spectating than participating in classes, we applaud the overall message from wellness experts and speakers like Andrea Corbett about fitness being the best way to a happy mind and life.

Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes:

 

 

The history of Swedish pop

The history of Swedish pop

Our visit to Stockholm reminded us of how much influence the Swedes have had on the history of pop.

Some of the coolest, most influential sounds of commercial music have come out of this area (home of Eurovision) and the locals are rightly proud of that fact.

The excellent ABBA Museum isn’t just a nod to that particular fab foursome, but also to the history of Swedish pop, dance and rock music.

It really had us stepping back in time, remembering melodies of youth.

This experience got me curious about what we’ve forgotten about the history of Swedish pop, so I did a little research while waiting for a flight, and discovered 14 music acts from the 80s through to now that pop and dance music fans might be surprised to know are Swedish.

The history of Swedish pop

14 acts from my childhood to now, that you might be surprised to know are from Sweden:

  1. Europe – they enjoyed number one status in 26 countries around the world with the classic anthem, The Final Countdown.
  2. Roxette – Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle gave us some of the best pop of the 80s and 90s, including their debut hit, The Look, classic soundtrack songs and massive world tours for the albums Look Sharp and Joyride.
  3. Ace of Base – that song about a ‘sign’ that we couldn’t get out of our heads in the early 90s.
  4. The Cardigans – released one of the biggest tracks from Baz Luhrmann’s wonderful Romeo + Juliet back in 1996. The movie’s soundtrack was equally as successful as the film.
  5. Dr Alban – producer of some of the most fun dance tracks of the 90s including the massive Sing Hallelujah.
  6. Robyn – Show Me Love is a song I remember was played a lot on commercial radio – as far away as Australia. This was back in 1997, when Robyn was just 17.
  7. Rednex – Responsible for Cotton Eye Joe back in 1994. Don’t know why I expected these guys were from America! Guess again.
  8. Eagle Eye Cherry – another act I never would have thought hailed from Europe. Save Tonight was huge on radio and featured on television soundtracks in 1998/99.
  9. Alcazar – we all raved to Crying at the Discoteque back in 2000 (right?!).
  10. Eric Prydz – a popular DJ who famously produced Call on Me which was accompanied by a video set in a raunchy aerobic class that made most men pretty happy.
  11. Icona Pop – they had a pop-dance hit we liked, I Love It, which was heavily played in clubs around 2013/14.
  12. Tove Lo – in 2014 she released a successful pop album, Queen of the Clouds, featuring neat releases like Talking Body.
  13. Swedish House Mafia – an electronic music super-group.
  14. Avicii – currently one of my favourite producers of dance anthems.

On the topic of the history of music – here’s a display I got a kick out of at the ABBA Museum – who remembers…?

We loved our visit to Stockholm. Read about our itinerary and travel tips here.

 

Celebrate Annual Record Store Day

Celebrate Annual Record Store Day

Did you know April 21 marks the fourth annual Record Store Day, an event designed to highlight and preserve the feeling we used to get from buying music somewhere, rather than in cyberspace? Remember the time (as MJ said) when we used to eagerly wait for singles and albums to be released? When artists would appear in-store to perform while their new offering was being stacked on the shelves?!

I remember when I bought my first ‘cassingle’ – yes kids, that was a ‘music single’ on a tape (a what?). It was Dannii Minogue’s Love and Kisses, bought in a music store at Smithfield Shopping Centre in Cairns, if I recall correctly.

My first album was The Bangles, Different Light bought in 1986 – how I loved that one! My little heart broke when the tape unwound in my walkman, but my mum saved up her last dollars and replaced it when she could.

Bangles

 

Then of course CDs became the greatest invention of my adolescent existence (until the Internet, of course), with my first purchase being Bryan Adams, Waking Up The Neighbours. Music was important to me as a teen – it meant everything. So much so I set my sights on a career in radio when I was younger. I knew all the artists, all their albums, each upcoming appearance and what was on the way. I was completely addicted to Savage Garden and remember catching a bus into Brisbane city early on the morning of their first album’s release and joining other fans in the purchase line at HMV Queen Street Mall. The excitement, the anticipation. It’s something you guys don’t have now in this society of instant gratification. I must admit, it’s fantastic (especially for the ‘impatient’, like me) to be able to hear a song and immediately ‘get it’… from somewhere. Although every now and then I do feel quite nostalgic for the old days of spending hours browsing music stores. A highlight of my 2000 visit to NYC as a 20-year-old was exploring the Virgin Megastore in Times Square which is sadly, no longer there. It is disappointing that these businesses have disappeared into cyberspace – only ten years ago the record stores we visited in America still stocked tapes (which my brother and I thought was cool, in a retro kinda way); and if you had just one hit single in America, like Savage Garden did, then you could actually make a million well-earned dollars because people who loved you paid for the disc (or tape, or record, as the case may be).

Sg_album

 

Times have changed but evidently there are those out there like me who remember the joy the music store provided… those of us who all secretly had a little dream to spend our time working with CDs, tapes, DVDs (ala Empire Records). Across April 21 in Australia a range of independent record stores will be taking part Record Store Day, offering cut-price CDs and vinyl, limited editions, rarities, staff dressed as pop stars of old and artist in-store appearances. The Aussie operation is run by the Australian Music Retailers Association – www.recordstoreday.com.au (Tweet @RSDAustralia), which aims  to grow the movement both annually and internationally; with that in mind you can also check out what’s happening in America on this special anniversary – www.recordstoreday.com.

Here’s to the ‘classic’ record, tape, CD and DVD. Mp3s we do love you, we just miss your predecessors every now and then. Who knows, hopefully our music stores will indeed be around for many more years to come, with new and improved opportunities that may emerge thanks to technology.

Do you have a fave memory of waiting for a new release or buying a certain album? Share in the comments below or tweet me, @sarahblinco.