Listen to a Londoner: Suzi Brown

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I received an email the other day inviting me to a little shindig to kick off something called “Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience”. The message said it involved fashion, all sorts of art (including”specially curated graffiti”), the offer of some Monday evening drinks, a spot of shopping with local artisan vendors, food (always important) – in particular, home-cooked Middle Eastern treats and some comfy lounge-style sofas.

What could be better apart from the fact that it’s set in the old abandoned Victorian post office on King’s Road that’s always intrigued me and the fact that it’s less than two minutes walk from our flat? Yes, please. Count me in.

So I decided to interview the brains behind this operation to find out what it’s really all about and, well, who exactly is “Mama Brown”? Turns out she’s Suzi Brown and she’s a pretty fascinating person indeed. She’s well travelled, has a light installation in her dining room from a Saudi Arabian artist and she believes in cooking good food and bringing together people from all walks of life. Read on for more.

(Note: These are press photos throughout besides a couple from Mama Brown’s Facebook page, but I’ll be sure to take some to share with you at the event on Monday night!)

Mama Brown's

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. What’s your favourite London discovery?
SB: I was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and grew up in Lebanon. When the war started in 1975, I came to the UK to study at Oxford and then went on to Richmond College and earned a BA in Art History. London is now my home. There’s nowhere like it. It is the centre of the modern world, yet it maintains a rich sense of history and tradition. That’s what gives London its edge and that’s why people keep coming back. Just when you think you know it, London presents another side that you never even knew existed. It is then that you realise you’ve only just scratched the surface of this amazing city. Discovery is the norm in this eclectic and international place.

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LLO: The old Victorian post office on King’s Road will host your upcoming event “Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience”. What can we expect from the “experience”? What will the atmosphere be like? Also, talk a bit about your choice of venue.
SB: When I first walked into the post office on King’s Road, it was in a sad state –  dirty and grimy, with no source of water or power. But there was something about the space that I knew would lend itself well to what I wanted to do with Mama Brown’s. It was huge, cavernous, and gritty. It was like working with a blank canvass, “tabula rasa“.  We immediately seized the challenge of transforming the space into what it is now. The atmosphere is a bit of London’s East End meets London’s West End. Mama Brown’s is bringing a bit of Shoreditch street flavour to the posh neighbourhood of Chelsea.

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LLO: What prompted you to set up the first Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience over the Summer and where was it? What were the highlights? What’s new this time? 
SB: The first Mama Brown’s was at Holland Park. It was hugely successful as it was an intimate setting where art, design, culture and cuisine came together. Apart from the amazing showcase of merchandise that came from all around the world, people were very much impressed by the organic Middle Eastern food that was served fresh every day. That was definitely a highlight.The idea was born through my love of bringing people from all walks of life together at huge communal tables – each person sharing his or her own experiences in life, culture, food and art. But this time, I want to take things even further by making the experience even more memorable, more enriching, more impressively festive. Of course, Mama Brown’s will still have the same heart and soul that made people fall in love with it the first time around, but we have a few more surprises up our sleeves that are sure to delight. There will be more art to admire, more beautiful merchandise and even better food. We are bringing in lots of new vendors whose items you will fall in love with.

Torula Bags

LLO: Tell us about a couple of the stand out vendors who will be there on King’s Road. 
SB: It’s difficult to name only two as all of them are stand outs in my opinion. Each one is bringing in something totally different from the other. What makes Mama Brown’s different and unique is that all these amazing designers, whether they are established or up-and-coming, will be found under one roof.

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LLO: Give us your top choice of gift for holiday shoppers looking to buy something fun at Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience for each of the following:
SB:
Mum: A beautiful and ornate cashmere shawl
Dad: A pair of exquisite cufflinks
Brother: A cool, one-off designer shirt
Best girl friend: Gorgeous accessories for everyday
Boyfriend:  A holiday weekend bag or a nice leather iPad cover with his initials

LLO: I hear there will be “specially curated graffiti” on display at the event. What sort of specially curated graffiti? Also, with artist Ben Wilson’s recent chewing gum art trail down King’s Road, do you think Chelsea’s becoming more open minded about embracing street art? Or will it stay in the east?
SB: The space we have was a virtual blank slate and we had to think of ways to aesthetically transform it whilst keeping the edgy character of the place intact. Graffiti is the one art form that we felt would allow us to do this.  But it couldn’t just be any graffiti. The style had to reflect what Mama Brown’s is all about – avant-garde, yet classic; street, yet clean and functional. Yes, we are in Chelsea, yet we are bringing some edge to it. Ben Wilson’s chewing gum art on the King’s Road is a breath of fresh air. It tells us that the neighbourhood can appreciate beauty in all forms.

Year Zero Bag

LLO: What is your favourite piece of art in your private collection?
SB: It would definitely be the Ahmed Mater light installation in my dining room. It is difficult to explain why. Art is art and it speaks to each one of us differently. That’s why art is so special, isn’t it?

Imperial Collection Vodka

LLO: Where does your love of cooking come from? What will we be eating at Mama Brown’s Pop Up Experience?
SB: When you are a mother of five children, you learn how to diversify and experiment when it comes to cooking! Apart from that, I was exposed to some of the best cuisine from an early age, growing up in an Arabic household. I am an avid traveller and I believe one of the best ways to experience culture is through food. I bring the flavours and tastes of my travels to every dinner party I host and to every meal I prepare for my loved ones. Mama Brown’s is a labour of love. What better way to show my guests my appreciation than by preparing some of my best-loved Arabic dishes at Mama Brown’s?

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LLO: What’s your favourite holiday season tradition and why? Any holiday season pet peeves?
SB: It would have to be the time I get to spend with my family over the winter break. We have a tradition of travelling to a corner of the globe that we have never been to. Last year, we spent a glorious three weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia. It was amazing – totally immersing ourselves in a new culture. Apart from spending time lounging on tropical beaches, we did some really interesting things that we’ll never forget, like planting rice in rice paddies. Pet peeves? I abhor packing and tourist traps!

Communal Table

LLO: You’ve been called “London’s ultimate hostess”. That’s a big name to live up to! What are your top three hosting tips for the rest of us?
SB: A big name to live up to, indeed! If I didn’t love bringing people together, I would never do it. I love to host and I do it very frequently – whether it’s a small intimate dinner with my closest friends or a big party until the early hours.

Top three tips:
1. Food made with love. Everyone loves a delicious meal. It’s what people remember most at the end of the night.
2. Introduce new blood. Always make it a point to bring in a few new faces each time you entertain. It makes things more interesting.
3. Create a fun atmosphere with no stress.

Thanks Suzi!

Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience is located at 232 King’s Road, Chelsea and will be open to the public from the 26th of November until the 15th of December (Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00am-7:00pm).

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Street Art: Clet in London

It looks like the clever French street artist Clet Abraham was at work in West London recently – perhaps he was in town for the bank holiday weekend?

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Wandering through Chelsea on Monday with my parents who are over from New York, we spotted a few stickered signs in typical Clet style (Oakley Street and King’s Road). Then I found another two on my way home  last night (Sumner Place) in South Kensington.

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It’s great to see some street art on my side of the city for a change.

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Clet and Ben Wilson’s recent chewing gum art trail down King’s Road may be some of the subtler styles (I’ve also spotted  few Christiaan Nagel mushrooms perched on Chelsea rooftops), but it makes me hope for some colourful murals popping up around here eventually! Or at least a few small Pablo Delgado pieces please?

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I’m positive there are plenty more Clet pieces hiding nearby and perhaps further afield. Have you spotted any recently?

London Art Spot: Ben Wilson (Part 1)

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Earlier this week, I wrote about the customised piece of chewing gum art that Ben Wilson made for Little London Observationist. I met Ben last week, just off the King’s Road in Chelsea where he as been working diligently on a trail for the InTransit Festival of Arts and in collaboration with Garry Hunter of Fitzrovia Noir (who contributed some of the photos in this interview). He was sprawled out his paint-spotted sleeping mat, on the pavement, surrounded by colourful bottles and an open toolbox. He was working with his new favourite hue – a bright fluorescent green.

The Chewing Gum Man, as he is widely known, has been perfecting his art of beautifying this discarded substance around the world for almost a decade and I’ve been itching to interview him since my last post about Ben in 2012. Now he’s bring his street art to West London where it’s rarely seen.

Read on for my chat with this fascinating artist and then hop over to the article in The New York Times when for more when you finish. 

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LLO: How long have you been creating chewing gum art?
BW: It will be 10 years in October.

LLO: Is it something you do full time?
BW: Yup!

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LLO: Are you a self-taught artist or do you have a formal art education?
BW: I did an art foundation, but generally I’ve just done my own thing. My father was an artist. My mum did illustration. I would say I’m a mixture.

LLO: What do you enjoy most when you’re not painting?
BW: Gardening. I like mainly flowers, but I can get into veg too. I also used to work in woodland areas, building sculptures. I did a big project in Baltimore.

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LLO: Do you do a lot of international work then?
BW:
A fair bit. I’ve worked in lots of different countries over the years: Finland, Serbia, America (until I got put in a detention center).

LLO: For creating art?
BW:
I had contacts in America but they didn’t sort out my papers properly. They messed up. It’s a complicated story. I got to wear one of those nice orange uniforms and was put in solitary confinement even though they invited me! Anyway, it’s all in the past. 

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LLO: Where did you create your first piece of chewing gum art?
BW:
In Muswell Hill, on Colney Hatch Lane. I live nearby.

LLO: What made you see a piece of chewing gum art and think I’m going to paint that?
BW: I was upset by all the rubbish and sense of disconnectedness where people just affect things in a slightly detached way. When people detach from their environment, that’s when the environment gets destroyed and that’s also when people destroy each other. If you have a love of a place, it’s something which, if you really care, you wouldn’t (*pauses* – sorry, I get involved in the picture and it is sometimes to remember what I’m talking about at the same time).

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LLO: So does this tie in to the “urban tumbleweeds” you were showing me earlier?
BW: Certainly does. People think they don’t impact their environment, but we all do just by being who we are. We have to take responsibility for that. Since I’ve been working on the pavement, I see balls that blow along. It’s all people’s hair mainly, but it can pick up anything as it’s rolling along. It’s relatively light and roughly the size of a tennis ball. It picks up old cigarettes butts, bits of rubbish, Rizlas, anything really. It blows around. When you’re working, you see how hair gets caught in little crevices. This is an “urban tumbleweed”.

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LLO: Would you say you make chewing gum art to put a positive spin on something negative?
BW: I do pictures because people ask me to do pictures for them. I do what I do out of a sense of compassion. You can see a dark side when people are out of touch, but if there’s a sense of belonging then something negative is less likely to happen. I am transforming rubbish. People are bombarded by images with so much consumerism around us. It’s stuff they’re buying or things they feel they have to have. This is different. It’s a small picture and I care for the pictures. I transform something that has been rejected by society. It’s about caring, taking the time and making a stand for something. It can be any degree of absurdness, but it can also be quite serious.

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LLO: How to does connect directly to your work?
BW:
 When you’re working, you go with the place. People come up to me and make requests. I keep a book of requests and the pictures tend to reflect the people. It’s kind of sad how depersonalised some areas are becoming. It’s all being corporatised with big companies who take people out of the equation. They tried to get rid of people who sell tickets in the Underground, but you need a human presence there so it isn’t a frightening place to go. If people don’t invest in people, then there’s no one to care. You need people. There has to be a sense that people can be creative in their environment. I’m finding a way to be creative in my environment and connect with people. I think it’s a right.

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LLO: You must get tons of requests.
BW: I have to say sorry for all the pictures I haven’t done yet. I haven’t been able to do them because my father died last year and around that time, I lost a toolbox I had for years.  I lost about four request books with about 200 requests. So all of those people will think I didn’t care. I don’t ask anything for the pictures when I do them.

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LLO: Tell us about the process you go through to create a piece from the beginning to the end.
BW: Okay. Find a piece of discarded, spat-out chewing gum. Heat it with a blowtorch. Then I apply a lacquer into the bubbling gum. That stabilises the gum itself. Then I put one coat of acrylic enamel on the melted gum followed by a second coat. I make sure the whole thing is dry and rock hard. Then I paint the picture. Then I put a clear car lacquer over the top. Then I apply a heat again. And you have a picture that can be rained on and walked on. It can even be under a puddle of water. It’s an invention. You then have a gum pic and the discarded chewing gum has been transformed.

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LLO: Have you ever had a negative experience while painting?
BW:
 As soon as I started, a lot of people tried to stop me. Then I was arrested, had my DNA taken by force. I was even beaten because someone thought I shouldn’t be working in the city of London. But why can’t I? It’s a right for me to be creative in my environment. I’m doing work that’s for people. It’s about social cohesion. Every time I do a picture for a different person, it’s making links between people. If someone doesn’t like this, then they are also within their rights to remove it. You can’t be arrested for painting on a piece of chewing gum though. That’s very important. Also, it’s transient. It won’t stay forever. I used to creep around at night a fair bit painting on billboards, but then did it during the day in a pair of overalls. If I was stopped I’d say it was a community art project. But then I switched to gum. The arm of law can’t get me now. Nah nah!

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LLO: I see you have a build up of dry paint you carry around.
BW:
Yes, you get attached to certain things. The toolbox and this multi-coloured “muffin” as I call it. It’s in a glass thing for little nibbles. This is number three that I have had. The first legendary multi-coloured muffin built right up. Then the glass broke off. I got knocked over by a double decker bus. Literally. I was running along the side of the road and had my rucksack caught. I went flying and my toolbox opened up. My stuff went everywhere. The glass of the whole multi-coloured muffin thing broke, but it was solid paint so it carried on. Then everyone was in uproar, having a go at the bus driver. This one here is a young muffin, a little amoeba. It hasn’t grown up yet. It’s organic.

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LLO: Where are your favourite places to work in London now?
BW:
 I still do a lot of work around where I grew up like Barnet, Whetstone, North Finchley and Muswell hill where I live. People come out and say, “What are you doing? I’ve been looking at you there for five years!”

Come back for part two of my interview with Ben tomorrow.

Ben Wilson Designs Chewing Gum Art for Little London Observationist

On Thursday last week, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the famous chewing gum artist, Ben Wilson while he was at work on a King’s Road piece. I have some transcribing to do but you should see the interview up in the next day or two.

Ben then very kindly came round on Saturday to create a customised piece of chewing gum art at the Little London Observationist headquarters!

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It was late afternoon when my phone rang. It was Ben. “I’m just downstairs. I’ve been working on your piece for a little while now!” So I made him a cup of tea, milk no sugar, and headed downstairs.

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He had chosen a lovely blue-green colour for the base with a black outline and was already working on the design.

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On Thursday, Ben had asked me what I’d like on the chewing gum. My first thought was a camera. So he took a photo of my hand holding my camera for inspiration.

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Ben is sprawled out on his paint-splattered sleeping mat. He’s surrounded by his backpack, an open tool box full of paint, a torch and some lighters, a scraper, lacquer, paintbrushes, a cup of water and his paint dish where he mixes colours.

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He also has a packet of crisps and a mug of tea.

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Ben lapses in and out of silence when he works. Sometimes he’s lost in concentration. Other times he sits up telling me animated stories of his family, his three children, other artwork he has painted around the world and his general love of creativity and nature.

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He works on such a tiny scale, but detail is very important in Ben’s work. He looks at me before he dips his brush in a spot of red paint and says, “Now this will really bring it to life!” I watch as he paints my fingernails on the hand holding the camera.

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He must have a very steady hand and great eyesight. He’s been painting chewing gum on the streets of London – thousands and thousands of them – for almost 10 years now. October marks a decade.

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He invited me to his studio to see some of his other projects so I am looking forward to that.

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Ben paints full time, as you’ll read in his interview in the next few days. Sitting next to him on the pavement is a small flip notebook. While he’s working, people often approach with requests and he writes down what they would like as well as their contact details. He loves to connect with people and he takes these requests for free. To Ben, this is the beauty of his work and what he most enjoys.

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Of course, an artist also has to make some money to survive. To this end, Ben also works on some commissioned projects like his new gum art trail that follows the King’s Road as part of Chelsea and Kensington’s InTransit Festival this month. Ben is following the “Route of Kings and Punks“. But more on that in the interview post this week.

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Ben is working on the Little London Observationist lettering when the sky goes dark.

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We feel a few drops, but Ben is well prepared to work in any weather – rain or shine, even snow. He digs his umbrella out from his backpack and pulls on a pair of reflective trousers.

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And he carries on.

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Ben works for a few hours. During this time, people at the pub across the street and passersby watch curiously, look backward as they walk past. I know many will come back to see what on earth he was doing painting on the ground – not a sight you often see around here.

Once the painting has been finished and it’s been set with a flame from a lighter, it’s time for a protective lacquer coat. Ben has a few cut outs in his toolbox which he uses to protect the pavement surrounding his work when he sprays the chewing gum.

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Once he is satisfied with his work, he chips away any paint that may have dripped on the sidewalk and cleans up the edges. He’s very conscious about the impact we have on our environment which is much of the reason he paints on discarded chewing gum in the first place.

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When the piece is finished, Ben hangs hangs around for a few minutes. He tells me a story of how he was once caught drawing mini “gum” pieces inside of street art books that feature his work. This was at the Tate Modern bookshop. He was scolded before the manager approached and was excited by the personal touch he had given them.

Then he picks up his old camera with its cracked screen and takes a few photos of the new chewing gum piece for his collection. He shows me a few photos of his mother and children.

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And then he’s off. Ben loves to cook and is heading home to make a fish pie for his son for dinner.

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For more background on Ben Wilson, here’s a lovely article that was published in The New York Times

Exploring My London Neighbourhood: Chelsea, SW3

I was asked to write this post below for Move Guides, an expat relocation company, for a new series on their blog called Neighbourhood Wars. This was the first one, published earlier this week. Each Monday, they will feature a guest post from someone in a different London neighbourhood. Stephanie, who runs the blog, was happy to let me re-post here for you as well. These are some of the things I like about my own London neighbourhood. Photos are mine unless indicated otherwise.

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Chelsea Chimneys

I love to travel, which is part of the reason I ended up living in London, but sometimes exploring your own neighborhood can be just as entertaining as a trip abroad. Though I’ve lived all over West London in the last five years, my current neighborhood is in a little corner of Chelsea.

This area was once London’s bohemian quarter, full of artists, writers and musicians. It’s pretty well gentrified now but King’s Road has a history as a central area of activity during the Swinging 60s and the punk movement of the 70s. It’s long been a major fashion hub to one degree or another.

Here’s a list of some of the places I most enjoy in my neighbourhood, which I’ll define as within 15-20 minutes walking distance from home in any direction.

Tom Tom Coffee HouseTomtom Coffee House

FOR COFFEE, TEA & JUICE

There’s a cosy little gem on Ebury Street called Tomtom Coffee House, which is said to have some of London’s most delicious coffee. I’m more of a tea drinker, which is good as well.  They have heat lamps outside allowing for some fantastic people watching even when the weather is cold.

One of my favourite places to relax for an hour with a good magazine in hand after shopping is Joe & The Juice on King’s Road. It’s inviting, the seats are comfortable, the paninis are delicious and their fresh juice is healthy and refreshing.

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Soho’s infamous Fernandez & Wells recently opened a branch on Exhibition Road near South Kensington station. It’s always crowded with museum-goers, but head there on a week day and you’ll have a much better chance of getting a seat.

Jak’s on Walton Street is another relaxing place to stop by for a coffee or a fruit smoothie. You can sit on a big couch in front of a drum set table and talk the afternoon away. It also serves food, which I haven’t tried yet but it seems to get good reviews!

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FOR FOOD

My favourite place to go for dinner nearby is Sushinho on King’s Road, a Brazilian – Japanese fusion restaurant with melt-in-your-mouth sushi and other dishes with creative use of textures and ingredients. The cocktails are worth a trip alone. We went Monday night and I had a Brazilian Coconut Martini. Yum!

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Madsen, just across from South Kensington station serves up some tasty Scandinavian dishes. The décor, as you would expect, is simple. Staff are friendly and welcoming and prices are pretty cheap for this side of town.

The pizza at Rossopomodorro, on Fulham Road, is delicious and they have plenty of topping options to choose from for a more laid back dinner.

For a change, we sometimes order Vietnamese street food from Phat Phuc Noodle Bar, a little kiosk tucked away in a nook off of Sydney Street near King’s Road.

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El Gauchoa little Argentine restaurant, sits in nearby Chelsea Farmer’s Market. The steak is delicious.

American themed Honky Tonk opened last year on Hollywood Road. It’s good for an easy-going Saturday brunch with the girls.

Speaking of American, my favorite place to pick up all of my goodies from the States (like Fluff, Goldfish and Lucky Charms) is Partridges in Duke of York Square. Expensive, as most imports are, but it’s all there. For fresh bread, we have the lovely Gail’s bakery – one on King’s Road and one just outside South Kensington station.

FOR DRINKS

Jorge and I had our first date at Azteca a year ago and we’ve been there many times since. It’s a Mexican themed bar on King’s Road with the best mojitos I’ve had in London accompanied by lively Latin American music.

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That first night, we also went to Janet’s Bar on Old Brompton Road. This is not your ordinary drinking hole nor does it look like it belongs in Chelsea. It’s fabulously quirky and eclectic with walls lined with intriguing customers’ photos, mirrors, lights and random ephemera.

Down on Walton Street, Eclipse is a dark and seductive cocktail bar with nooks and crannies and creative concoctions to drink (including a delicious gin-based drink called Divine Smoke that actually smokes).

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The Sydney Arms, on Sydney Street, is our friendly local with room to sip a gin & tonic outdoors on a Summer’s day.

The Hollywood Arms has one of London’s best quiz nights and free movies on Sundays. They also have board games which are great for whiling away a rainy weekend afternoon.

For a traditional pub experience, I love the Queen’s Head tucked away on a narrow road called Tyron Street off of King’s Road. It has a fireplace and a warm atmosphere.

FOR ART & CULTURE

There are some giants nearby: Saatchi Gallery which has a fascinating collection of contemporary art, the Victoria & Albert Museum which often features design and fashion exhibitions, the architecturally beautiful Natural History Museum and the educational Science Museum as well the elegant and impressive Royal Albert Hall.

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On a smaller scale, there is a tiny branch of Proud Galleries on King’s Road showing off rock & roll, fashion and pop culture photography. For a rainy day, there’s always the luxe Curzon Cinema on King’s Road. There are only a few films to choose from at any one time, but beats out the nearby Cineworld if they’re playing something good.

FOR BEAUTY

The girls at the cheap and cheerful Nail Boutique in the Chelsea Farmer’s Market off of Sydney Street are always worth a visit for a quick and clean manicure and pedicure. The Chelsea Day Spa just off of King’s Road offers a much wider selection of treatments from manicures and pedicures to waxing to massages to facials. They also list a selection of treatments especially for men.

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If you’re willing to splash out a bit (about £60 for a luxury manicure), try Salt and Chocolate on Walton Street, a project of Russian fashion writer, DJ and socialite Yana Uralskaya. The walls are like galleries, full of original photography prints and the chairs are bespoke Jimmie Martin designs.

FOR RETAIL THERAPY

King’s Road is full of my usual favourite high street shops: Anthropologie, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Ted Baker, etc but there are a few other places that inspire the shopaholic in me.

I have a small magazine addiction, which I regularly feed at Londis, a corner shop on King’s Road with a gold mine of some 2,000 magazines hiding away in the back.

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For books, I head to Daunt, a Fulham Road branch of the original Marylebone shop where the collection is organized by country in which the books are set.

Another great place to pick up coffee table-style books (think photography, architecture and interior design) is the Taschen shop near the Saatchi Gallery in Duke of York Square.

For interior design, there’s the simple yet creative white decor of Jonathan Adlersome cool Asian-style pieces at Oka and the innovative Conran Shop right around the corner. If it’s flowers, plants and outdoor décor you’re after, The Chelsea Gardener is one of the best nurseries in London.

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FOR FRESH AIR

The vast Hyde Park is just up the road, a great place for Summer picnics and bike rides and a short stroll over the Candy Land coloured Albert Bridge will take you to Battersea Park with its peace pavilion and long pathway lining the Thames.

Battersea ParkBattersea Park

Nearby, we also have the Royal Hospital grounds where the annual Chelsea Flower Show is held and the Chelsea Physic Garden, a walled in sanctuary full of flowers and plants from around the world just off the Chelsea Embankment.

Chelsea Flower ShowChelsea Flower Show 2012

A walk through the side streets, like this one from Sydney Street to Sloane Square, can be just as fascinating. Chelsea has quite a few luxurious homes and private members clubs with an insight into the way the other half lives. These make for some entertaining people watching anywhere you go around here!

The garden next to St. Luke’s Church where Charles Dickens was married is a quiet and tourist-free place to lounge in the grass with a good book or bring a bottle of wine to share among friends. We often wake up to the church bells on a Sunday morning or mid-week to the clatter of 20+ horses trotting up the road!

St Luke's ChurchSt. Luke’s Church

Am I missing anything good nearby?

Leave me a comment and let me know what you like most about your own neighbourhood and where it is (London or not)!