Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about walking into Eighty Six. After all, I was so used to 86 Fulham Road being my favourite tequila bar in London. Sadly, Cactus Blue closed its doors for the last time during the summer and its loyal customers were left in the lurch as to what might take its place.
Last week, this question was answered as I walked past No. 86 to see that the lights were on inside. And so as quickly as I could, I headed back there to see the transformation for myself and of course to see what delicious treats I was hoping to find on their menu.
My drink of the night was the Yellow Pepper, which contained rose liquor, vodka, apple juice, vanilla, yellow pepper and lemon juice. The rose, apple and vanilla must have worked to soften the flavour of the yellow pepper because the yellow pepper wasn’t overpowering at all. If anything it was delicate. My favourite drinks are those that look deceptively simple but are wonderfully complicated when they hit the taste buds and this was one of those drinks.
The Yellow Pepper hasn’t fast become a favourite but it was an exciting departure from the familiar selection on most cocktail menus. Simply delicious.
When Cactus Blue’s doors closed this summer, it was a very sad day. All that was left of this Chelsea institution was a note on the door to thank everyone for the great memories. Months later, and a new bar and restaurant called Eighty Six has opened in its place and I have to admit, the new ground floor layout is infinitely better.
The main bar now sits to the left of the room and there is an extension towards the back, giving the ground floor a whole new space to play with. Eighty Six doesn’t have the crammed feeling associated with Cactus Blue. And with a great cocktail list and retro dance music, the atmosphere on a Saturday night was very buzzy.
Earlier that evening, I had popped over to Brick Lane for a private viewing of Stephen Santos’ art exhibition. Whilst the event was successful, with a great crowd stepping off the streets to join the party, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had to endure such a difficult journey east thanks to London Underground’s engineering works to see the exhibition of a Chelsea artist. I wondered why Chelsea’s art scene was restricted to Park Walk and Lots Road. What about the other local artists with more experimental works?
There was a time in the 60’s when Chelsea College of Art was influential with the fashion, music and graphic design scene that gave King’s Road the edge. Now, Chelsea College of Art has moved to Pimlico and the local art scene is determined by the commercial tastes of gallery owners and not the attitude of artists.
I know of one local artist who will soon be setting up a pop up exhibition using one of the empty shop units on Fulham Road. It would be great if Alahna Fiveash’s show could help inject artistic energy back onto the streets of Chelsea. Why should East London have all the fun?
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So I’ve finally tried Hari’s on King’s Road. Whilst I’d like to say it was because of Hari’s local legacy on Brompton Road for over 30 years, it was actually because I saw someone sipping something deliciously pink whilst having their haircut when I walked past Hari’s window last week.
Sold, I booked my appointment and a few days later I was sipping a deliciously green drink which consisted of Apple, Kiwi and Mint whilst having my hair cut. Jake who looked after me was great company as we rambled amiably and as I listened to tales about how his father used to cut Jimi Hendrix’s hair.
The haircut was in time for an evening at Anthropology for Love Bakery’s Cupcakes From The Heart book party and more deliciousness involving champagne and cupcakes. Although, I did wait until I had returned home before devouring the chocolate cupcake which I stole away in one of the wonderfully planned takeaway boxes.
Later in the week, I finally visited Chelsea Theatre after much intrigue about its unassuming building on World’s End Estate. Turning up on Friday night for Richard Maxwell’s production of Ads, I was excited to discover a pre-show 10 minute production in the cabaret styled room. And after, we were led into the main theatre.
Ads involved a series of monologues from New York City’s locals who were projected as holograms onto the stage space. Their messages explored a world free from social networking and the distractions of advertising. The irony was how these real people with their real life stories appeared as computer generated simulations. Chelsea Theatre is theatre at its most interesting: pushing the boundaries and questioning mainstream society. Its edgy voice and buzzy atmosphere excites me and I can’t wait to discover more of their work.
This is my favourite time of the year in Chelsea mainly because of Sloane Square’s Christmas lights. So pretty.
But these aren’t the only lights on the King’s Road. On Saturday, Duke of York Square had a ceremony for the switching on of their Christmas lights. The children loved it, excited to see Saint Nicholas arrive on a horse drawn carriage. And with a gospel choir, free popcorn and horse chestnuts available as well as mulled wine on sale for a fiver from Manicomio, performers entertained the small crowds.
Still, the atmosphere felt a little forced especially with the MC blaring the shops’ late night opening hours on the mic. It was strange to imagine parents taking their children with popcorn sticky hands for a bit of Christmas shopping after.
I didn’t hang around for too long. Instead I set off down the King’s Road to The Phene for the second time in a week.
|Feel Good Shopping at French Sole
A few drinks later, I joined hoards of people from Chelsea heading over Albert Bridge to Battersea Park for the fireworks display.
Arriving at the park’s gates, being stuck in a gridlock for 20 minutes and paying £6 to get in, I started to wonder whether Battersea Park was starting to lose it. After all, I remember the days when Battersea Fireworks was free. But when we made it through the ticket gate and shunned the long food queues, Battersea Park put on its best display ever. Each sequence, carefully orchestrated to music, would have suited a finale perfectly. The entire display was superb.
Afterwards, crowds of couples, families and friends crossed back over the Albert Bridge and King’s Road had a surge of exceptional energy running through it. People were spilling out of the pubs and the restaurants were more crammed than usual. This was where the real Chelsea party was happening. So I say get a proper party started in Sloane Square and the crowds will come and maybe even shop.
|Sloane Square’s Christmas Lights
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Just back from an amazing run along Chelsea Embankment and I wish every autumn day could be like this. There’s nothing better than running along the river, across Albert Bridge (despite the current hoardings) and through Battersea Park. Days like these remind me of how beautiful Chelsea is.
But not every autumn day is as crisp as today and running outside in the cold and pouring rain isn’t necessarily ideal. I’m also not a gym bunny. I used to be. But I became bored of staring at myself in the mirror whilst on the treadmill. I prefer the outdoors and when the weather isn’t my friend, I know that I can rely on King’s Road Sporting Club and Chelsea Sports Centre to help me out in my moment of get-fit.
My indoor exercising routine is nothing without my Casall Rock Ring, which is unlike any other hula hoop. This one has weight bars that provide bumps on the hoop to pummel your waist as you hula. It really isn’t as painful as it sounds and it is so much fun starting the day listening to my favourite tracks whilst spinning the hula around. It really sets me up for the day.
Chelsea Sports Centre is also another great winter option for exercising especially on a Wednesday night between 9pm and 10pm for women, when the pool is at its least busy. Sometimes I find myself alone in a lane, which is so delightful. Swimming during rush hour feels quite hectic that it stops being fun or relaxing.
So as it becomes difficult to get out of bed in the cold mornings, I am determined that the only winter coat I put on is the one I can take off when I get home.
Bring on the season of indulgence. I am ready!
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