pod Food


Lately I’ve been trying to be more inventive with takeaway lunch options than just another cheese sandwich. As a vegetarian, that was the default choice for a long time but now there’s a lot more variety on offer.

I’ve been trying to find alternatives to sandwiches and have a bit of a thing for the chop’d tofu salad so was pleased when pod got in touch and asked if I had tried their salad boxes. I hadn’t but now have and can tell you they are just as delicious.


My daughter and I decided to share a Mango, Noodle & Cashew Salad (£4.99), a Purple Grape Juice Yogurt Pot (£2.60) and a Caribbean Blitz smoothie (£3.50). The salad and yogurt pots are ready to take away in the chilled cabinet and the smoothie ingredients are in a cup but you take it to the counter to be blended. It’s a good way to know exactly what’s inside your drink.


pod has 23 locations across London and their freshly-prepared range changes every few months according to what’s in season. (I chose from the summer menu.)

During breakfast they serve scrambled eggs, porridge and energy-boosting smoothie blends. The lunch menu includes innovative salads, a variety of hot dishes, whole-grain baguettes as well as specialised lunches such as the detox, protein and gym boxes.


pod is a great place to know if you need a gluten-free, wheat-free or dairy-free option or just a healthy and nutritious meal.

We both enjoyed our takeaway lunch although I’ll make sure I’ve got dental floss with me next time as I had lots of bits stuck in my teeth. But that point aside, I want to go back and try the hot meal options soon.

Official Website: www.podfood.co.uk


The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face


Yes, that title got my attention too!

It’s an immersive experimental theatre experience by Shunt – a collective of artists creating and curating live performance in unusual locations within London.


This new project has been commissioned by The Jetty – a former coaling jetty on The Thames at Greenwich Peninsula. It’s actually really easy to find and is only a 10 minute walk from The O2 and North Greenwich tube station.

The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is performed in a temporary space made out of shipping containers. Up to 30 people enter together and progress through the containers to different surreal scenarios.

Everyone has to take off their shoes and socks and go barefoot which only adds to the weirdness. You also have to carry your footwear with you in a white shoebox.

As the door shuts behind you, each room reveals a performer who does their best to make you feel somewhat squirmy and awkward. I’m not normally good with this kind of close arty theatre but I totally gave in to it as it is over far too soon. Be prepared for latex masks and an outdoor finale that surprised me again.

It’s bonkers but recommended and costs only £10 for 45 minutes of hypnagogic entertainment.

Do plan to stay longer at The Jetty as there’s excellent street food (I had the Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Dirty Beans) and the bar has some warm cocktails as it can get a bit chilly later in the evening. There are blankets available and heaters so don’t be put off. We met lots of nice people who also had a great evening.


The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is only on for six weeks (14 August to 28 September 2014) but The Jetty will stay and host all sorts of unusual and fascinating arts events.

Do note, The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face is only suitable for people aged over 16.

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D


I love seeing films at the Science Museum IMAX cinema and their 3D choices are usually outstanding so I was pleased to be invited to see Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D.

Mysteries of the Unseen World3D

It’s a National Geographic film, narrated by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, featuring the work of acclaimed cinematographer Louis Schwartzberg, who is the only cinematographer in the world to have been shooting time-lapse film footage 24 hours a day, 7 days per week continuously over the past three decades.

In this film you can discover things that are too fast, or too slow or too small to see with the naked eye. Using time-lapse photography, electron microscopy and nanotechnology, you can take a closer look at a universe of creatures, processes and phenomena you never even knew existed.

You get to see the flight of a dragonfly – four wings all working indepently. Did you know a dragonfly can fly upside down? Nope, me neither.

Actually this film is full of ‘did you knows’. Did you know mosquitos see infrared vision so they can go to the warmer parts of your body to drink blood? Did you know bees see using ultra-violet (UV) light? Did you know a butterfly’s wings are covered in scales?

You’ll see the invisible rays of light all around us and the bacteria living on a human body. Yes, that means you and me. My favourite fact is that there are 1,000 bacteria in our belly button. Yeah, bet you feel itchy now.

We got to see what’s in the air, and, therefore, what we’re breathing in. We saw bugs with smaller bugs living on them. We saw close-ups that went in to the cell level.

I have to say this is my favourite 3D film I’ve seen at the Science Museum IMAX as it leaves you knowing there’s so much we never get to see and it changes our view of the world forever. Seriously, awe-inspiring stuff. Recommended.

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D (U) is suitable for children aged 8+. To see a trailer and for booking information visit: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/mysteries

Steam Train on The London Underground


On Saturday 2 August 2014, I was lucky enough to not only see a steam train on the London Underground but to also take a ride from Moorgate to Hammersmith and back. And don’t worry, you’ve not missed out as there’s more to see on Saturday 9 August 2014 too.


This heritage outing day was part of the 150th anniversary of the Hammersmith & City Line. Special steam train journeys were slotted in between the normal tube service which made a nice surprise for those on the platforms waiting for their usual train.


The Hammersmith & City railway opened on 13 June 1864, just over a year after the very first underground railway opened in January 1863 and at a time when horse drawn omnibuses were still in use and the world had yet to see the invention of motor car, television and telephone.

The line was part of the Metropolitan Line until 1990 when it was given its own identity as the Hammersmith & City Line.


Metropolitan Railway Locomotive No.1 was the very beautiful engine that pulled our train. This dates back to 1898 and was restored for the 150th anniversary of the Underground in 2013.


At Moorgate station, we were greets by a brass band and actors dressed as Victorian characters who were happy to chat and pose for photos.


The public got to travel in the Chesham set coaches which were built in 1898 and 1900 and are on loan from the Bluebell Railway. The carriage I was in was from 1900 and was withdrawn from service in 1936. It was the same as the one in the London Transport Museum and was sold to the Bluebell Railway for £65. It was used in the Clockwork Orange film and was restored over the last ten years.


A volunteer travelled in each carriage to keep us safe and to share information about the train and the line.


I simply loved the sounds and smells. The whistle and the ‘chuff chuff‘ sounds of the engine raised a smile from us all. And the reactions of the people on each tube platform was fantastic. Some had been waiting all day and had top of the range cameras and others were caught by surprised and grabbed their mobile phone to get a quick snap while beaming with delight.


The smell of the hot coal wafted into the carriage along with soot which also made us all grin. I think we all felt it was a bit more ‘real’ to get a little grimy on a steam train.


The men working in the engine were completed blackened from working with the coal all day. My daughter thought it was all for effect as we’d just been with the Victorian actors until I explained what they had to do to make the engine work.

There were also heritage buses at Hammersmith station and I was thrilled to see the Battle Bus as it had visited my daughter’s school and I missed it! A quick chat with the staff and I discovered the bus was actually built just around the corner from my home.


As I said at the start, you haven’t missed out as there are more heritage trains journeys on the Hammersmith and City Line on Saturday 9 August. There are also steam trains on the Metropolitan Line on 16 and 17 August. Find out more and book tickets.

If you aren’t able to book a ticket do check the timetable as you could still see the train along the route.

Royal Childhood at Buckingham Palace


Each year, the summer opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace has a special exhibition and this year it’s all about Royal Childhood. The exhibition covers 250 years of objects from the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives and the private collections of the Royal Family.

Soldier dressing gown worn by three-year-old Prince Harry, c. 1987.

Soldier dressing gown worn by three-year-old Prince Harry, c. 1987.

The exhibition is in two rooms including the Palace Ballroom. Some of the highlights include previously unseen photographs and film footage, as well as some of The Queen’s own childhood toys. Outfits worn by young royals and school work made me smile, while the official announcement of the birth of ‘Prince George’ displayed on the famous easel was popular with many visitors.




As well as the usual audio guide, this year is more family-friendly as there is a Family Multimedia Guide for children under 12. I tried this with my daughter and friends and we enjoyed Rex the corgi giving facts about each room and the quizzes.


There is also a new Family Pavilion on the West Terrace (opposite the Garden Cafe) at the end of the tour. Mar Dixon has written more about this.

Inside the Family Pavilion.

Inside the Family Pavilion.

Seating Added

I was also pleased to see seating had been added to many of the rooms which will help visitors of all ages to stop and enjoy the grandeur in the State Rooms. Previously, there has been nowhere to sit until the end of the tour which was gruelling for older visitors on crowded days.

Chairs belonging to the princes.

Chairs belonging to the princes.

Did you know? All Buckingham Palace menus are written in French.


Did you know? Buckingham Palace has 20,000 works of art.

Three paintings by Prince Charles aged 8 and 9, 1957-58

Three paintings by Prince Charles aged 8 and 9, 1957-58

As with all good visitor attractions, you exit through the gift shop.


Do look for this tree sign just by the gift shop exit.

Can you see the mistake on this tree sign in the palace gardens?

Can you see the mistake on this tree sign in the palace gardens?

Everyone gets to enjoy the palace gardens as it’s the only way to leave the grounds. We did the ‘Nature Trail’ and enjoyed looking for birds and special trees.

Visitors follow a path through the palace gardens to leave.

Visitors follow a path through the palace gardens to leave.

This year seemed to be a definite improvement in the appeal for families and we spent at least 2 hours on our visit – much longer than in previous years.

As expected, the special exhibition rooms were the most crowded and I know I missed a lot as I couldn’t see all of the glass cabinets due to the crowds. But I’m still glad I went and do think it’s a real treat to see inside this iconic palace.

Official Website: www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace

A Dittea About Me


I met Elizabeth Darcy-Jones a few years ago when she was Tea Poet in Residence at The Chesterfield Mayfair. She is Britain’s Tea Poet and it was only a matter of time really before we would meet and become friends.

We got together recently – for tea, of course – at Camellia’s Tea House which I have to say is a real tea lover’s paradise. As well as serving a huge variety of teas they also sell blended teas to purchase and take home (I’m drinking ‘Beautiful Skin‘ while writing this) plus teapots, cups and all the other goodies that makes tea such a nice ritual. They also have cakes and snacks including gluten-free options.

Anyway, after our catch-up, Liz emailed me to say she had written a poem about me! I’ll admit I was shy about it but also thrilled as it’s such an honour. As I adore tea, to have a poem written about me as a tea blend is fantastic. I would love it if you would pop over to her site to read the ‘Dittea‘ there. Thanks.




St Martin’s Courtyard is easy to miss but well worth finding as it’s a Covent Garden shopping and dining destination away from traffic.


One of the restaurants is SUDA Thai which offers regional Thai cuisine that’s great for sharing. Dining is on the ground floor and first floor, plus plenty of space outside in the courtyard too.

I visited with my daughter to try the Lunch Meal Deal menu which is two courses for £10.95 or three courses for £13.95.

Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with tofu)

Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with tofu)

We dined inside on the ground floor and while I commented that it was a bit dark inside my daughter pointed out she thought the images of sacks on the walls made it look as if we were inside a ship and she liked that. She also liked the upbeat background music and the TV screen which was initially showing scenes from a Thai festival but changed to Top Gear. I thought that was odd but she was happy watching.

At lunchtime we saw lots of local workers coming in for a quick lunch for also shoppers stopping by and other families.

From the Lunch Menu we chose Porpia Tod (crispy spring rolls) and Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with tofu), and Gaeng Kiew Waan Pak (mixed vegetable green curry with rice) and ice-cream for dessert. All arrived quickly which is great when you have limited time in your lunch break.


The spring rolls got a big thumbs up from us both as they were delicious. I’d happily go back again and just order some of these to share and a couple of fruit smoothies.

SUDA Smoothie: Strawberries blended with banana, grenadine and fresh lime juice Tropical Smoothie: Fresh papaya and passion fruit blended with orange juice

SUDA Smoothie: Strawberries blended with banana, grenadine and fresh lime juice
Tropical Smoothie: Fresh papaya and passion fruit blended with orange juice

We shared our main meals and I was pleased neither was too spicy so we enjoyed both. I did think the Pad Thai was much bigger than the green curry and rice though.

Gaeng Kiew Waan Pak (mixed vegetable green curry with rice)

Gaeng Kiew Waan Pak (mixed vegetable green curry with rice)

While my daughter had her ice-cream dessert (I have no idea how she could eat any more!), I enjoyed a pot of Lemongrass Tea which came in a small black teapot with a handleless Chinese teacup. The tea was delicious but I had to wait for it to cool down as the cup was too hot to pick up for some time.


All in all, we had a lovely lunch and will definitely be returning. The cocktail menu also looks good so I think this would be a great place to bring friends on a summer evening.

SUDA Thai Cafe Restaurant
St Martin’s Courtyard
off Upper St. Martin’s Lane (and Long Acre)
Covent Garden
London WC2E 9AB

Official Website: www.suda-thai.com

Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, I believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Tour de France in London


On Monday 7 July 2014, Stage 3 of Le Tour Yorkshire – Grand Depart 2014 (the Tour de France) reached London. I decided to watch at Woodford New Road (on the E17 side of Waterworks Corner roundabout) as it’s where the cyclists would first enter London (Woodford is Essex and Walthamstow is London), it’s a long straight road, and I guessed there would be lots of space to watch. I was right on all counts.

This is normally a really busy road so the kids enjoyed the space for a quick game of footie while waiting.

This is normally a really busy road so the kids enjoyed the space for a quick game of footie while waiting.

I arrived at 1pm and the caravan was due at 1.15-ish. There really weren’t many spectators there are the time so I got a good spot beside a cattle grid as I thought the riders might slow down here and it would give me a better chance to get a few photos.

Our Tourmakers hd a lot of waiting too.

Our Tourmakers had a lot of waiting time too.

The caravan arrived and our long straight road meant they zoomed down at high speed flinging freebies to the few spectators. Caps and sweets were most prized by the kids.

And here they come!

And here they come!







Yes, you did just see a photo of an enormous bag of McCain’s Chips.


The most bonkers one I saw, I reckon.

Then it was back to waiting.

Local cyclists entertained the kids, while we were waiting, by doing wheelies.down the quiet road

Local cyclists entertained the kids, while we were waiting, by doing wheelies down the quiet road.

At around 3.15pm the cyclists reached this edge of London.




That cattle grid caused a lot of riders to slow down.

That cattle grid caused a lot of riders to slow down.



What is going on here?!

What is going on here?!

And then it was all over in minutes and the crowd dispersed. Within 2 minutes of the riders passing most of us were on our way home.


Latest Articles by Laura Porter


I write the About.com London Travel site and write for many more publications about London, UK Travel, family travel and plenty of other stuff too.
Click on About Me to… um… find out more about me and I’ll try and remember to add links to my latest work here.

September 2014: London Protected Views (About.com)

August 2014: The Chocolate Museum in London (About.com)

August 2014: pod Food (this site)

August 2014: September in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

August 2014: The Royal Mile in Edinburgh (VisitBritain Super Blog)

August 2014: You Can’t Trust The BBC Weather App (OIK Strategy)

August 2014: The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face (this site)

August 2014: Exploring Edinburgh on a Perfect 3 Day Mini Break (Anglotopia)

August 2014: Pancras Square Leisure Centre Swimming Pools (About.com)

August 2014: Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Pods (About.com)

August 2014: Mysteries of the Unseen Universe 3D (this site)

August 2014: Best Free London Apps (About.com)

August 2014: Online Random Generators (OIK Strategy)

August 2014: Camellia’s Tea House Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea Review (About.com)

August 2014: Steam Train on The London Underground (this site)

August 2014: Nadler Kensington Hotel Review (About.com)

July 2014: Royal Childhood at Buckingham Palace (this site)

July 2014: What To Do If You Are Sick in London (About.com)

July 2014: Kingsway Hall Hotel Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea Review  (About.com)

July 2014: How To Sleep On A Hot Night (OIK Strategy)

July 2014: Afternoon Tea On a Vintage Routemaster London Bus (Londontopia)

July 2014: August in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

July 2014: Imperial War Museum London Reopens (Londontopia)

July 2014: SUDA Thai restaurant review (this site)

July 2014: Why Is Visiting Museums So Tiring? (OIK Strategy)

July 2014: Tour de France in London (this site)

July 2014: Thriller Live review (About.com)

July 2014: Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour London (About.com)

July 2014: Analogue Guide: London – book review (About.com)

July 2014: Leiths School of Food and Wine (About.com)

July 2014: Free Day Out For Families in London (Visit London)

July 2014: 10 Things For Families To Do In The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (Visit London)

July 2014: Churchill War Rooms Review (this site)

June 2014: Houses of Parliament New Family Audio Tours (this site)

June 2014: Bank of England Museum (this site)

June 2014: Namaaste Kitchen (this site)

June 2014: Bridge – Museum of London Docklands (this site)

June 2014: Helsinki #finnairtweets (this site)

June 2014: World’s Most Tweeting Arline (this site)

June 2014: City Vision: The City in 2050 (this site)

June 2014: Summer Afternoon Bee – afternoon tea review (this site)

June 2014: What is #FriFotos? (this site)

June 2014: Loneliness (OIK Strategy)

June 2014: What Does A Hotel Butler Do? (OIK Strategy)

June 2014: Rosewood London – hotel review (About.com)

June 2014: Where To Eat Near Trafalgar Square (About.com)

June 2014: Mount London – book review (About.com)

June 2014: How To Not Look Like A Tourist In London (About.com)

June 2014: July in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

May 2014: WW2 Bunker in North London (this site)

May 2014:  wrote these London neighbourhood guides for housetrip.com:

May 2014: RHS Chelsea Flower Show (this site)

May 2014: Goodbye Piccadilly (this site)

May 2014: Insomnia (OIK Strategy)

May 2014: Why Is Hotel Room Lighting So Dim? (OIK Strategy)

May 2014: Brown Hart Gardens (this site)

May 2014: June in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

April 2014: Aldwych Tube Station Tour (this site)

April 2014: Glorious Georges at Kensington Palace (this site)

April 2014: Chop’d New Menu Launch (this site)

April 2014: Food Hygiene Ratings (OIK Strategy)

April 2014: Uncyclopedia (OIK Strategy)

April 2014: May in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

March 2014: April in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

February 2014: March in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

January 2014: February in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

December 2013: January in London (London Bridge Hotel blog)

Prior to this I’ve written for the About.com London Travel site since 2006 and written for many other publications too.

Churchill War Rooms


Since visiting the WW2 Bunker in North London I’ve been wanting to go back to the Cabinet War Rooms in central London but I kept finding a queue outside like this:

A line outside this long is quite normal at the Churchill War Rooms. It took me three attempts to find a smaller line that I was willing to join.

A line outside this long is quite normal at the Churchill War Rooms. It took me three attempts to find a smaller line that I was willing to join.

But, eventually, I found a time with a slightly shorter queue so I could revisit and see if this is still a “must see” attraction.

Firstly, it’s not called the Cabinet War Rooms or the Churchill Museum any more; this is the Churchill War Rooms.

Upon arrival, there are bag security checks and then you move downstairs to the Ticket Desk. An adult ticket is currently (2014) £17.50 and kids go free. An audio guide is included in the price.

Literally the first room you see is the War Cabinet Room and everyone stops to listen to their audio so the way into the room is blocked from the moment you arrive. Welcoming, eh? A member of staff here would be useful to encourage people to move further into the room but I didn’t see a member of staff at all during my visit. It would have been helpful again later when my audio guide broke – I was standing still with it hanging round my neck and it just fell off and I couldn’t reattach it so had to carry it for another hour.

So, this sets the scene for the visit. You’ll be moving through in ‘clumps’ with many people just in front of you so you can’t see much.

As everyone is listening to an audio guide it's pretty quiet inside this attraction.

As everyone is listening to an audio guide it’s pretty quiet inside this attraction.

It’s a very dark attraction and although photography is allowed you may find it’s too dark to get many memory pics. And there are those ‘freaky waxworks’ that dated attractions adore so much.

What's that? We're being watched?

What’s that? We’re being watched?

I guess the real reason visitors want to see this place is because it has been preserved as it was found so it hasn’t changed. But, that doesn’t mean the visitor experience can’t be updated.

The last attempt to improve was in 2005 when the Churchill Museum opened. It’s a large room within the attraction but, oddly, it’s even darker than the rest which makes the sharp corners of cabinets quite a hazard. I picked up a map at the entrance but it was too dark inside to be able to see it!

This 'chronology table' should be great but not many visitors could work out how to use it.

This ‘chronology table’ should be great but not many visitors could work out how to use it.

It's not a touch-screen table - as visitors expect now. You have to find these strips on the side to call up information.

It’s not a touch-screen table – as visitors expect now. You have to find these strips on the side to call up information.

Apparently, the Churchill Museum divides his life into five eras. There’s no one path to follow so I’m sure I missed loads as I saw nothing in any order. Audio has been added here and I suddenly heard lots of cheers but still have no clue what that was all about. There were also multiple videos but there were four in the same area all running at the same time which was overwhelming.

A lovely quote.

A lovely quote.

I looked around for about 15 minutes and then tried to find the way out but there was no signage for an exit. And, remember, there are no members of staff anywhere to ask. So I tried the way we had entered which turned out to right and got us straight back on the ‘audio guide/moving around in clumps/not being able to see anything’ circuit.


My visit lasted for 1.5 hours and that was enough. Being underground with such low lighting actually makes you feel very tired.


Even when it was time to leave there was no-one I could tell about the broken audio guide and overall I felt disappointed. Being ‘the real thing’ is not enough when you’re a visitor attraction. The audio guide was so dry it only added to the tiredness and it’s really not appealing to children even though they can visit for free. I noticed there was a school visit planned (a table had a cloth covering exhibits ready for the kids) and I wondered how they would make this more interesting for them. Education about wartime is important but that doesn’t mean you can only learn through seeing room-sets or boring guides. I don’t expect the Churchill War Rooms to be a laugh a minute or full of interactives but it does need to be more visitor-friendly. I remember the cafe was actually quite nice when I visited five years ago but no-one was stopping this time as, I think, they just wanted to get outside and away from it.

Official Website: www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms