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

 

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

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!

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

The other day, I popped into Vivienne Westwood’s shop on the King’s Road to browse the handbags. Oversized and textured, colourful and rebellious, the latest collection is a true feast for the edgy.

This shop that once confused me as a child with its iconic anticlockwise turning clock is the embodiment of what is so great about the King’s Road.

Steeped in history as the cornerstone of the punk music and fashion scene of the 70’s; yet still relevant to today’s fashion scene as Vivienne Westwood’s Empire Capital, this shop is an iconic Chelsea landmark.

Recently, I also visited another legendary Chelsea establishment. The Chelsea Bun is this area’s best kept secret even though it has been opened for 26 years. Situated just off the King’s Road, two minutes away from Vivienne Westwood, The Chelsea Bun feels like a hideaway for the locals that we don’t share with the rest of the world.

And now, I am about to reveal its secrets!

A modest establishment yet very buzzy, especially during the weekend’s breakfast and brunch hour, Chelsea Bun serves the best Benedict Breakfasts in SW10. If I’m not indulging in the Benedict Royale then I’m relishing their delicious salads. My boyfriend usually plunges into the American and Gourmet breakfast menu but then again he cycles a hundred miles a week.

What I love about the King’s Road is the variety it has to offer. Towards Sloane Square there are the well-known high street brands of Duke of York Square, as well as the very popular The Botanist and historic Royal Court Theatre.

Yet towards World’s End there is the more cutting edge Vivienne Westwood, the local’s favourite Chelsea Bun and the experimental Chelsea Theatre.

There is so much on offer. Where I end up next week is anyone’s guess.

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

Yesterday, I popped into Proud Chelsea on the King’s Road to catch Can You See Me? A Life Through A Lens…, the Jimi Hendrix exhibition, before it ended today.

When I was 16 I had met Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding after sneaking backstage at the Clapham Grand following a Hendrix tribute concert.

Having convinced the security staff with my apparently winning smile, to let my friend and I through, I found myself talking to one of Hendrix’s closest friends moments later. And as my friend sat silent and gobsmacked, I bombarded Noel Redding with a barrage of questions about Jimi Hendrix.

That night, I learnt about the man behind the rock legend. I learnt that Hendrix liked to play hide and seek on the Peckham housing estates when he was high on acid and so I Iearnt that despite all the rock and roll media glamour that defined Hendrix, he was ultimately a child at heart.

Proud Chelsea’s exhibition also manages to give us an insight into Hendrix as a playful spirit as well as the rock star.

Whilst some of the photos are iconic set pieces, the others are stolen moments that betray the mischievous glint in the man’s eye. His captured smiles are heart-warming whilst his rehearsal and performance photos show us a serious musician.

The backstage photos of Hendrix with Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger also give us a chance to see that rock and roll royalty are merely like-minded people.

Stepping out of the exhibition, I started to think about the rock and roll spirit of the King’s Road, which Hendrix was largely a part of.

Then I asked myself, where next? Of course, Vivienne Westwood.

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

The Chelsea Flower show may be a long distant memory especially now it is autumn. But that doesn’t mean Chelsea is a barren land.

Take The Botanist on Sloane Square. Most nights are guaranteed to be buzzy with a crowd of people spilling out onto the street. Normally when I go there, I hang out in the bar area but last week I tried their restaurant for the first time and what a discovery it was.

The art deco inspired dining hall with its atmospheric lighting and elegant botany themed art at the back create exactly the type of environment I love: stylish and warm.

I had half a dozen juicy oysters for my starter and for my main I had the duck with foie gras ballotine. My main was given an interesting and delicious twist with the Muscat grape purée and star anise jus.

Instead of pudding, I decided on a Martini and had the King’s Robe: fresh watermelon with rhubarb liqueur and vodka with the rim of the glass sprinkled in rhubarb sugar. My kind of dessert. So far, this cocktail is at the top of the leader board in my search for the signature Chelsea cocktail. It was simply yummy.

Later in the week, I popped into the Cath Kidston AW fashion show on the King’s Road. In keeping with this season’s trends, the Nelson Tweed Coat is perfect for something military. In a shop full of floral, this coat is one example of Cath Kidston balancing its signature style with fashion.

I really can’t wait until the winter lights dress the trees of Sloane Square. This is my favourite time of the year!

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

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