Tuesday, 25 August 2015

If we've popped-up and setlocked ... then this must be London.

Hi you. I'm back.

I'm now post London. Post Hamlet. Post Cumberbatch. Although, as you'll see from where this post finishes up ... it's fair to say I'm never entirely post-Cumberbatch; I'm more a case of 'permanently in between Cumberbatches'.

But until the next batch comes along [a few paragraphs down in fact] ... let's talk about the serendipity I stumbled over in the big smoke; let's talk about things that pop-up with the power to delight, and let's talk about finding gnomes, and Holmes, where you'd least expect them ...

The Popping-Up:
While I may not live in or even particularly close to a city I still like to think of myself as pretty up-to-date with what's what, with what's on the up, with what's going down.

I may live 250 miles from the capital but, for several reasons, I don't live under a rock with a whippet for company. Heck, I read; I can use a hashtag; I have at least 5 kinds of tea in the cupboard, I watch SkyArts documentaries for pleasure and I can even use the manual settings on my camera.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is, as my Grandma would've put it: I'm not as green as I'm cabbage-looking. And yet, until last week I'd never been to a pop-up restaurant [they tend to be such city-style phenomena don't they?] so when we stumbled across one in 'real life', in the OXO building on London's south bank, just metres from our hotel, dare I admit that I really felt I had to go? Perhaps so that, at the very least,  I could later proclaim, like, in a blog post or something [ahem] that: "I went to a pop-up restaurant ... in London".

And while I was really looking forward to it I found myself being slightly unsure at the same time ... and began to feel like maybe there was slightly more green around my cabbage leaves as I'd been willing to accept!

Which was only appropriate considering the theme of this particular pop-up:
The Garden Gate at OXO2 [open until August 30th] is decorated like part summer fete, part English garden, part woodland picnic:
Its laid back atmosphere [there were people playing table tennis and jenga] was just what two tired, achy people needed who'd been walking around London for 3 days,  one of whom may or may not have been so emotional that they wept in a theatre one night and then again over breakfast the following morning [For the record: that last person wasn't James. But then you'd guessed that already hadn't you?].

And what's better for lifting a crafty, kitsch-loving girl's spirits than sitting her on a gingham covered tree trunk next to a wall of fake hedging and artificial flowers?
Not to mention the fact that if I'd had the foresight to bring a garden gnome with me I apparently could have bagged myself a free drink in exchange. [And I ever-so-nearly packed one too ... just in case. But, it was that or my make-up ... and needs must ... ;-) ].

You can just make out here - behind me - the shelf where the donated gnomes end up:
And to continue the theme, cocktails [which I didn't have ... like my heightened Hamlet-influenced-emotional state needed any alcoholic encouragement to tip over into hysteria ...] were served in watering cans. And the food  ... well ...

... my black bean burger with guacamole [which was the best thing I've eaten all month] was presented in a wooden garden crate complete with fries [again, amazing] in a plant pot! 
While James's steak arrived in a terracotta plant pot saucer:
And as if the experience couldn't get any better the price for both main courses came to just £18.00. I know!

After having paid £80.00 elsewhere for our first meal in the big bustling we-can-charge-anything-if-you-can-see-the-Thames-while-you're-eating-it metropolis, this couldn't have been a more pleasant and welcome end our stay.

So, if you're anywhere near the south bank in the next 5 days I can't recommend a trip to The Garden Gate highly enough. And don't forget to take a gnome with you!

And, while you're there you - like James - can look out for this ...
Sherlock: The Great Game. Season 1 Ep. 3. BBC
Before you get too excited on my behalf this is NOT a holiday snap shot taken by me! [Just as well really as there's a dead body laying just out of shot!]

No, it's a screenshot of a scene in 'The Great Game' ,Season 1 Episode 3 of Sherlock, which was filmed on the south bank. A fact which ... thought I'm not entirely sure why ... had been lodged in James's head all the time we were there. And so ...

The [accidental, after-the-fact] Setlocking:
For the uninitiated 'setlock' is the hashtag used by those people who trek around London seeking out, finding, and generally loitering around the set of Sherlock while it's being filmed.  And, while I love the show, I'm not so obsessed as to do that. Heck, we were in London for 3 days and I didn't even insist we go to Baker Street so, y'know, I'm not that much of a crazy-fan-girl ... [maybe next time?].

And so ... as we'd been walking along the riverside path each day James had been convinced that the scene, which he could clearly picture in his head, must have been filmed fairly near our hotel and/or the pop-up restaurant nearby.
  • He knew you could see St.Paul's in the background and that there was a wooden jetty/wharf in shot.
  • Meanwhile the main thing I could remember about the scene was a  play on words between Lestrade and Sherlock [Sherlock: "Meretritious". Lestrade: "And a Happy New Year."] which had made me laugh. [Still does].
[BTW: that fact - that one of us remembered buildings while the other honed in on the word play - tells you all you need to know about our respective differences!]

Once we'd settled back in at home we re-watched the episode so James could settle with himself, once and for all, if his savant-like location hunting had been correct ... well ... here's the scene again ... and there's the dome of St.Paul's on the left ... and the wharf on the right ...
.. but wait ... isn't that? And that? Why ... yes, yes it is ...
And with that, James was vindicated!

And wouldn't it have been even more entertaining, and indeed a bit strange, if, entirely coincidentally, we'd walked along that very same wharf on our first night and if, James had stopped to take a photo of our hotel, and me [hoping my skirt didn't whip up in the breeze], while we were there?

Well, yes, that would be strange ... and yet ...
As much of the series is filmed in and around the city I don't doubt that we'd inadvertently done lots more after-the-fact 'setlocking'. We just don't have the photos to back that up. Which may be just as well ...

... otherwise you'd be beginning to think by now that I was a little bit of a Sherlock geek ... and, goodness me, we couldn't have that ... could we ...?


Thanks for taking time to read me today. Do feel free to:
  • share your own experiences of pop-ups, or ..,
  • let me know if you too have visited The Garden Gate, or London's south bank,  or ... 
  • dare to admit you've setlocked ... 
  • or maybe you've visited locations where your own favourite shows/films were filmed. Whether you were aware of it at the time or not! 
I'll be here, waiting to hear from you, mulling over my time in the big smoke, sneakily wiping away the Shakespearean tinged tears ... 



  1. Does anyone know when the next series will be back? I know he's busy doing his theatre work but honestly, there's still time to shoot a few television scenes isn't there?
    Sounds like you had an amazing time down south, I hope you weren't one of those people in the audience taking photos during the performance!

    1. Oh Debs ... there was zero chance of me getting a camera out in the theatre! [I'll tell you more in a later post!] ;-)

  2. So pleased you had a good time - I can't believe you got two meals for less than a weeks wages in the capital, and served in such an unusual way too. Although I think I would feel to 'untrendy' to even go in somewhere like that!
    Can't say I have ever been near a film set etc - although years ago they did film Boon in Nottingham next to where my Dad worked (he wasn't impressed though, they used to close off the roads he needed to drive along!)

    1. Oh goodness, Boon! My sister and I used to *love* that!

      I too worried about being untrendy but, once we got inside, and saw a party of city-types trying to relax in that picnic-style setting *in their suits* ... I felt like we fit in much better!

  3. OK....I'm going to skip over the fact that you have said nothing about The Play (or The Acting) - as I realise you're emotional about it still (as I knew you would be! And I, no doubt, would also be had I also just attended!)!!

    There's so much to love in this post!! The 'Meretritious/New Year' line is one I laughed out loud at, and still chuckle at when I remember it!

    LOVE your skirt (and 70s shirt!!!)....but is it really that cold and blustery in London already??!!....

    and I love that you serendipitously stayed right near where that scene was filmed (and that James remembered it; I loved that they'd shot some scenes there, it kind of took it right back, for me, to how London must have looked in Conan Doyle's times...referencing, in some small way, the books)...

    LOVE (obviously!) that you went to a pop-up restaurant and that they offer a free drink if you take a gnome!!! (My kind of place!).....[No cake?? No dessert?! Really?!!]

    And, lastly, I loved your 'I began to feel like maybe I was slightly more green around my cabbage leaves as I'd been willing to accept!' line...you have a way of describing timidity-induced anxieties that only a fellow sufferer would understand....(thank you!)....

    [I am, obviously, waiting with baited breath for when you can process your theatre experience and put it in to words; I appreciate it will take time!]....in the meantime, I'll be chuckling at the images that your line "I'm more a case of 'permanently in between Cumberbatches" conjures up!!!!

    1. Absolutely too much to say about the actual play - you're dead right. I'll digest and divulge at some point!

      And look at you eagle eyes, that is actually a vintage shirt I'm wearing! I reckoned if you can't push the 'slightly weird' style boat out when in London when can you. Hence the daring to wear socks and wedges ...

      Yes, there was dessert. For some reason I didn't get a photo [panna cotta - for the record].

      More on Hamlet when/if I pull myself together!! x

  4. I've learned a new word..I actually read "setlocked" as "sherlocked" and was laughing at myself...and then it all became clear. Sounds like an excellent way to see more bits of London. Come over here and you could do the same with The Fall. Because you've got to come now..or it wouldn't be fair :)

    Your photos are brilliant. Maybe good enough to pull you back to scrapbooking a few?

  5. This is amazing! I'd love to visit a pop up restaurant. I haven't spent much time in London since I lived near there up until I was 10. My parents flat was on a road just off Bakers Street up until I was born, but they always referred to it as on Bakers Street, lol.

  6. That restaurant was a real find and I would have popped in there too! Hadn't heard of setlocking but my daughter (huge Sherlock fan) will be informed and I'm sure it will become a family past time any day know! We've done a few of the Harry Potter sets he Uk

  7. Oops pressed enter before ready!...sets around the UK - is there a name for that I wonder?!

  8. Well, I always learn something when I come here, Julie, and set-locking is it! What a splendid set of photos - as Sian says, they'd make as great scrapbooking page :). Your little eating place sounds super - I have texted the name to my DD.

  9. Loved the blog, I can barely remember the faces of my relatives never mind places I've seen on film. It's a good few years since I strolled around London, before there was such a thing as a 'pop up' restaurant, but it did look like something I will investigate if I ever see one.
    ..and you really should get yourself a whippet, they are the best!

  10. LOL! You make me laugh! Glad you had fun down here and with all the co-ink-idinks and all. I had totally forgotten that was where they filmed a scene in Sherlock!
    I would love to see the Hamlet - well done for getting tickets. We walked through the Barbarian at the weekend and saw the queue for the tickets on the day, it was crazy big and I dread to think what time some of those guys had been waiting there, there was no way they would all have gotten tickets.
    We went to our first pop up restaurant around someone's house when we were still living in Tooting. It was like going to a friend's house for dinner but without actually knowing anybody there at all. It was great fun and a total heart in mouth moment when you ring the bell on a complete stranger's door for dinner!


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