There’s always something to see and do in London. While this is obviously a bonus, the cash you need to spend on such activities isn’t so great. Recently, London has been declared one of the world’s most expensive cities (hardly surprising), so when something free comes along, the attention of culture-hungry, cash-strapped Londoners is piqued more than ever.
More London is a modern-looking business complex sitting on the South Bank of the River Thames, opposite the Tower of London. Each summer, for four straight months, they hold the More London Free Festival, a programme of live music, dance, theatre, films and sport. Jade and I dropped by recently to join in the festivities.
Chilling under blue skies
The weather forecast had told me that we were in for a day of heavy, thundery downpours. I had taken heed of the warnings and I’d gone into London suitably equipped with a gigantic golf umbrella. “Jumbrella” as I affectionately call it is an unwieldy pain to carry around at the best of times, but when the pre-warned soaking failed to materialise, it made the nuisance of brandishing it all the more irritating.
Thankfully, we had such an awesome day and the weather was so warm and sunny that I was kept almost entirely distracted from my irritation.
Upon our visit, the theme was ‘Street Party’, a celebration of Latin and Caribbean food and music. We really enjoyed the food and the music was fun and catchy. Fellow visitors were compelled to take to their feet and dance in the sun while others watched and sipped Pimms. It was a lovely atmosphere.
A taste of Venezuela in the London sunshine
As well as live music, there were a number of world food stalls, one of which particularly stood out for its uniqueness. It’s not often Venezuelan food gets mentioned in Britain (or Venezuela itself for that matter), so we jumped at the chance to sample some in the form of a filled Arepa from a much-talked-about company called Guasacaca.
Arepa is a flat bread made from cornflour. It has a very soft, dense texture and is slightly crispy on the outside thanks to the fact it’s grilled. There were a variety of different fillings on offer. We went for the ‘Venezuelan’ variety which included spicy beef, black beans, grated cheese, and slices of plantain with a healthy spoonful of guacamole on top for good measure. Like most food from South America, the result was a comforting, flavourful, texture-laden lunch that we really enjoyed.
Staying cool & refreshed
To drink, we went for a great British staple, and also something a little bit different.
In the top right of the picture, a glass of ‘Pimms’, a wonderfully refreshing cocktail of Pimms liqueur, fizzy lemonade and a variety of fresh, chopped fruit and veg. Thanks to a clever and much favoured advertising campaign, many people in Britain now think it’s ‘Pimms O’Clock’ as soon as the temperature rises above 20 Celsius.
In the foreground, something I’ve never heard of before, let alone tasted. It’s Harry Brompton’s alcoholic Ice Tea. I’m already a huge fan of ice tea, it being massively refreshing and it being mostly tea (what can I say, I’m a Brit) so when Mr Brompton added silly juice to the mix, I was instantly sold. It tasted like any other ice tea, so it drank really easily like one too. The sprigs of mint and the fresh cucumber only added to the enjoyment. I’ll definitely be having another glass of this before the summer is out (which by UK standards will probably be next Wednesday).
More entertainment to come
There’s still plenty more to see at the festival. During the upcoming Wimbledon fortnight, visitors will be able to sit outside and watch the action streamed live onto a big screen. There’s also plenty of live music and theatre planned too, including a performance from the London Bulgarian Choir and a play called ‘A Tale of Gods and Monsters. There’s surely something that you will enjoy if you happen to find yourself in London this Summer.
Find out more
For a full programme of events, check out the More London website for details.
Guasacaca appear to be making their way around London, dropping in on various events and fairs, so if you fancy trying something new this summer, keep an eye on their Twitter feed so that you can track them down.