IPL @ Harley Street Skin Clinic

Over the past few years I’ve began to notice a bit of pigmentation on my face, particularly around the tops of my cheeks. Almost certainly a combination of too much sun exposure and not enough SPF on my part. That and sadly well general aging. Topical retinol and Vitamin C can help, but if you really want to treat pigmentation hard you need to go down the laser/ light route. Intense pulsed light or IPL for short is probably the most popular and one of the least expensive of those treatments on offer.

I went to the Harley Street Skin Clinic for my IPL treatments. I actually first went for a consultation there with the lovely Lesley pre-lockdown, but because summer was coming up we decided to wait til the winter when I knew I wasn’t going away and I’d be well away from any potential sun exposure. Then of course Covid hit and everything shut down. Some two years later I returned and started my treatment. I did three sessions of IPL spaced a month apart. Before and after the treatments I did a VISIA skin analysis so I could accurately gauge how effective my treatment was. I’ve included the pictures below.

As you can see there was a slight improvement in the before and after photos. Weirdly one of the things I particularly noticed was my pores appeared smaller. IPL stimulates colleagues production so this is a known benefit, but one I wasn’t expecting. Pigmentation wise there was definitely an improvement, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as I was hoping. An important lesson to learn there, prevention is easier than cure. You should always be wearing a high factor SPF every day, yes even during winter. I think next time I will have to try a stronger pigmentation busting laser to deal with things as although the IPL definitely helped, the improvements were subtle and not quite as dramatic as I was hoping.



Ramo Ramen

This ramen restaurant is famous for its award winning oxtail kare kare ramen. Until recently they only had a branch in Kentish Town in North London, but they’ve now opened a second branch on Brewer Street in Soho. A much easier option for me. I was passing and meeting a friend for drinks later so went for an early dinner. I was the only customer in there at the time, though a few other customers came in while I was eating. The ramen was relatively quick to come and looked interesting. The broth was sadly a bit cold, definitely more lukewarm than hot. Ramen should always really be served very hot and eaten immediately for maximum noodle slurpage, so this was disappointing. The noodles were the standard shop bought in type and on the slightly too soft side. The egg was starting to get hard and was slightly broken. Personally if I was the chef I wouldn’t of served it. However the highlight was the oxtail which was really good, definitely the star of the show. This has the makings of a pretty decent ramen, unfortunately on the day I visited standards had very much slipped.

Oxtail kare kare ramen
Oxtail kare kare ramen

Ling Ling at The Gun E8

When my friend Rup first suggested Sunday lunch at the Gun, I assumed he meant the Gun pub in Canary Wharf which I’d been to many times before and is well known for its excellent Sunday roasts. However turns out he actually meant the Gun in Hackney. I didn’t know this pub, but apparently he’d heard good things.

The Sunday lunch is a collaboration with pop up Ling Ling and is an asian fusion Sunday lunch. I ordered the Korean mirror glazed chicken and my friend the char sui pork belly. It came with a sesame Yorkshire pudding, panko breaded carrot and wasabi. It looked good, but what is it with restaurants serving Sunday roasts with the gravy already poured on the plate? I do really much prefer a jug of gravy to pour myself. It was all perfectly pleasant, but didn’t exactly blow me away. For pudding they only had one thing on the menu, a white chocolate and matcha tiramisu which sounded delicious, so we both ordered. What arrived didn’t particularly taste much of either white chocolate or matcha, however it was creamy and substantial. No artfully presented, delicate dessert here, a great big wedge of tiramisu dolloped in a bowl and all the better for it.

Lunch was pleasant and the company as always great, however I couldn’t help but feel they were trying to shoehorn asian flavours into a Sunday roast, which wasn’t needed and also not always particularly successfully done. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t rush back.

Vietnamese cookery class with Uyen Luu

I love Vietnamese food, of the all the different Asian cuisines I think it’s among the most interesting and fresh with their flavours. Although I’ve eaten a lot over the years I didn’t know much about cooking it though. I’d googled and researched the best Vietnamese cookery classes in London and this was frequently recommended. Uyen Luu is a food stylist and cook who has worked with chefs including Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc. Conveniently her test kitchen from where she runs her classes, as well as supper clubs, is not too far away from me just across East London’s Victoria Park in Hackney, as such I decided to bike over, but forgot to check the weather reports, so consequently ended up turning up rather drenched after an unexpected downpour. Uyen couldn’t have been lovelier though, giving me a towel to dry myself off and advising I bring my bike inside as there had been some thefts in the area recently.

The course started at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, there was 10 of us in the class and we started off by all going round the table and introducing ourselves. The class was a mixture of hands on cooking and live demonstrations, and we started by learning to make Vietnamese summer rolls. All the ingredients were laid out in front of us and we dipped the pre bought rice paper wrappers in water to soften them, before assembled the ingredients into a sort of smiley face and then wrapping tightly to make a cigar shaped roll. We then moved over to the kitchen area when Uyen showed us how to make her delicious chicken pho. The main tips being to chargrill the onions and ginger before adding and using the best quality chicken you can afford. She was helped in the kitchen by her lovely Mum who taught her how to cook when she was a child. We also made bánh xèo, stuffed rice pancakes, probably my favourite Vietnamese dish and one that I was surprised to find contained no egg and was also quite simple to make. We also cooked a whole marinated fish and a delicious green papaya salad. It was really good mixture of watching and also practical taking part and you could get as involved or not as much as you wanted.

At the end we finished up by having a big feast all together at the communal table of all the dishes we had prepared together that day. We then packaged up what we still had left (we made alot!) to take home. Finally there was a chance to buy Uyen’s latest cookbook and get her to sign it for us. All in all it was a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed it. Genuinely one of the nicest afternoon I had in ages. I learnt so much and it has has really inspired me to go on more cookery courses in the future.

Tower of London

So often when we live in a city like London we can forget the wonders that are right on our doorstep. While abroad I often take the chance to visit those countries art galleries and museums, I forget that some of the best of these in the world our actual in my own home city. Making a conscience decision that I needed to rectify this I suggested to my friends that we should head to the Tower of London. Not only is this World Heritage site actually in our city, it’s even in our borough, so local in fact that as residents of Tower Hamlets we can visit for just £1. Anyway we all took the Friday off work and headed to Tower Hill with our proof of addresses and local library cards.

After buying our tickets we walked through the main gate and waited on the bridge over the moat and on the advice of the ticket office waited for one of the regular tours that start from there every half an hour. The completely free tours are led by one of the famous tower beefeaters and take about 45 minutes. The tour only covers the outside of the tower complex, but gives a really good overview of the various buildings and the beefeaters are excellent guides and drop in lots of jokes and fun facts along the way. This leaves you to explore the insides of the various buildings by yourselves. The main building is the White Tower, which although famous as being a jail was actually a royal palace for over 500 years,

The other main building is of course the Jewel House that houses all the Crown Jewels. This building is completely windowless (I imagine for security reasons) and also included the coronation robes. Annoyingly no photography is allowed, though I did manage to catch a sneaky shot of the imperial state crown when one of the guards wasn’t looking! I asked why no photography was allowed, but was told if I wanted a picture I could buy a postcard in the gift shop, which I thought was a tad rude. The main jewels are located in glass cabinets with travelators each side like you get at large airports. I assume this is to stop overcrowding and encourage people not to dawdle, but it was hardly necessary on the day we visited as it really wasn’t that crowded.

Afterwards we went to the small Chapel Royal of St Peter next door where some of the VIPs were buried after their executions, including three Queens of England, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey.

We finished off our tour by walking around all the battlements walls of the Tower and admiring all the stunning views of the City of London and Tower Bridge that they provided. We then exited on to the riverside and walked across Tower Bridge to the Ivy Market Grill at One Tower Bridge for a late lunch.