Winner! Barb Alexander knows London…

18 12 2009

Colombia Road - MissDani

Barb Alexander of The Tudor Tudor Blog: Making the Dynasty Wicked Cool named this London location above: Colombia Road!

As promised – A guest post from Barb’s wicked cool Tudor Tudor blog

The official YouTube account of London’s historic royal palaces offers a lively and well-produced clip of the Tudor festivities at the beautiful and grand Hampton Court Palace, just outside the city.  If you can’t get to the palace this Christmas season, give it a view!
The Tudor Tutor: Making the Dynasty Wicked Cool!

Hi, I’m Barb Alexander, creator and writer of the Tudor Tutor blog, and former junior high and high school English teacher. Where there’s literature to teach, there’s history to teach! As a teacher, I got the biggest rush out of explaining historical people and events to teens in an exciting and relatable way. To be honest, that’s how I prefer to learn history as well — in my opinion, when our past is presented in an overly-scholarly, dusty way, it can be awfully yawn-inducing.
The history of the Tudor dynasty is a total soap opera and I’d love for everyone to have fun with it (learning something wouldn’t hurt, either!). The Tudor Tutor aims to do just that. You’re invited to check out the blog, join the Facebook group, and follow me on Twitter.

Many thanks to MyMetropole for the guest spot!

So you think you know London – Name this London location

14 12 2009

Go on, you think you know this London location? In which famous London market street is this letter box located?

Give it a go in the comments below. The winner can have MyMetropole column inches to use to their heart’s delight – post your pictures, promote yourself or a group your involved with, post a guest post…Good Luck!

Small Village has Big Christmas Shopping

13 12 2009

MyMetropole focuses on London, my beloved mega-Metropolis. However, I do, on occassion, escape the Big Smoke and find solace out there in the small villages of England. Throughout the year I lived/studied in Brighton, I never made it further up the coast of East Sussex than Eastbourne. So when I was recently invited down fto ‘1066 Country’ (Hastings, Rye, Battle) for, I was very excited to visit the medieval town of Rye. It’s an antiquer’s paradise, a tea-taker’s heaven, and for someone from the suburbs of Chicago living in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, Rye is the very definition of a perfectly ‘quaint’ village.

If you are anything like me, then the thought of cramming yourself into some suburban mall under mass-invasion by holiday shoppers parked in endless queues for unoriginal, impersonal purchases is something you would rather avoid at all costs. Inevitably, at some point around the 12th of December you awake in the dark of night in a blind panic, jutting up out from the comfort of your cosy duvet at the shocking realisation that you have now officially waited until the border of ‘last minute’ Christmas shopping and you may never find all the gifts you need before C-Day.

I recently discovered a little village on the East Sussex coast where you can find original gifts, avoid hour-long queues, find parking for a pound, and even enjoy yourself by indulging in any number of cream teas to relax?

The well-preserved medieval town of Rye has gone through many transformations throughout its long history, with a particularly prosperous era  during the 18th century when strategic seaside location of the village across the Channel from mainland Europe meant it profited from Smuggling as much as any other honest trade at the time. Today, this walkable and chain-free town is a shopper’s paradise teeming with original artwork, photography and antiques available from small, independents where long queues are replaced by chit chat with insightful stop owners.

Whether officially an antique-lover or not, Rye’s multitude of antique shops carry possible gifts for everyone. There are over 30 antique shops laid out on the Rye Antiques Trail, maps of which are available in several shops and also at the Tourist Information Centre on Lion Street. One of the people behind the creation of the Antiques Trail, Andy McConnell, is the senior glass specialist on the Antiques Roadshow and owner of Glass Etc, offering ‘Antiques and High Class Junk’. With customers including Alexander McQueen and Tom Baker and over 30,000 pieces of ‘junk’, Glass Etc offers quality and quantity, as well as twinkling conversation with either Andy or one of his informed staff.  Round the back of Glass Etc is a parking lot where 24 hours of Christmas shopping parking costs one single London pound.

Rye is home to two book shops worth a mention for those bookworms in the family. Martello Bookshop is a small town bookstore with a strong selection of mainstream bestsellers and off the wall coffee table tomes.

Rye Old Books next to the TIC is the kind of shop that transports you to the mysterious and magical world of childlike imagination created by shelves and shelves of old hardcover books which collectively hold the accumulated sum of the world’s answers.  It is rightly so, then, that the owner, a jolly older Irish woman, might actually know everything there is to know.  On my visit she sprinkled the conversation so richly with history that one (very long) sentence began with the trail of the Brothers Grimm, drifted to the relationship of the English to the North Germans through the Hanseatic League and ended in an aside on pituitary glands and why there are no Giants anymore.

For music lovers, Grammar School Records is located in a converted grammar school building, and is home to a host of new and used records, CDs, DVDs and even 8-tracks for whatever eccentric music requests might be on the list.

Rye is home to several top art and photography galleries. The Purdie Gallery showcases local Rye resident David Purdie’s photography work capturing regional scenes of the sea and sand.  Nearby (as is everything in Rye) is Clive Sawyer’s photography shop. Having travelled the world several times over through his work as a guidebook photographer, Clive has amassed a marvellous collection of international photography which he has converted into small, medium and large prints, coasters and posters at very affordable prices.  200 meters from Clive is Turtle Fine Art, which stocks ceramics, bronzes, paintings and etchings at mid to high range prices.  Back on the high street, the nationally recognised Rye Art Gallery’s Easton Rooms display high calibre paintings, and prints, photography, glass, sculpture, and ceramics all for sale at affordable prices.

In the 16th century, Rye was at the pinnacle as a popular port, and Strand Quay was the hub of maritime activity with over 200 boats. Today this area of Rye is home to popular shops like the jam-packed two-floor treasure trove Strand Quay Antiques and Kitchenalia, run by Jane Wick. Jane’s shop spills over with collectable vintage kitchen equipment, crockery and textiles.

Indulge in a little me-time and rest your feet and fill your belly at one of Rye’s tearooms. Sneak back off the Mint to The Cobbles Tea Room, an as-classic-as-they come tea-taking experience.  Cranberries of Rye on the High Street next to the Rye Art Gallery does delightful cupcakes and offers a tea for two ( at an unbeatable £12.50) which includes coffee or tea, cucumber sandwiches and six luxurious desserts.  Just two houses away, rediscover your childhood and queue up at Britcher & Rivers old time sweet shop at an old time pace. Nibble on toffee and fudge, humbugs, sweet tobacco, aniseed twists and Catherine wheels, all served from jars into little paper bags.

For more information on all things Rye visit

Clive Sawyer, Gallery in Rye
Hilders Cliff (nr Landgate), Rye

Glass Etc.
18-22 Rope Walk, Rye

Rye Old Books
7 Lion Street, Rye

Martello Bookshop
26 High Street, Rye

Grammar School Records
High Street, Rye

Turtle Fine Art Gallery
26 Landgate, Rye

Purdie Gallery
106 High Street, Rye

Strand Quay, Rye

Strand Quay Antiques
1-2 The Strand, Rye

Britcher and Rivers
109 High Street, Rye

Cranberries of Rye
105a High Street, Rye

The Cobbles Tea Room
1 Hylands Yard (off the Mint), Rye

The Rye Art Gallery
107 High Street, Rye

London slang, innit?

10 12 2009

Slowly but surely I am coming to terms with the fact that I cant be walkin round talkin like I’m from Chicago, yo. I need say things like, yeah? and Innit? Well-chuffed and bruv.

But I am no where near understanding Cockney!

Laura Izibor – Je t’adore!

9 12 2009

Laura Izibor rocked the Camden Jazz Cafe last week, and while I am no pro music reviewer like my dear friend Hellafied over at The Gospel According To Gates, I can’t NOT talk about this amazing performance.

A Dublin, Ireland native, this 20 year old transported the crowd at the Camden Jazz Cafe  into a timeless space in which she sang Al Green better than Al himself and offhandedly mentioned the time when she met the Soul legend. Then she seamlessly wove almost the entire 1994 Mary J. Blige smash ‘Real Love’ into an interlude of one of her own songs, all the while scatting more fiercely than Bill Cosby himself, who would most definitely have had her on the Cosby Show if we were still back in the day.

At times she looked so young on stage, as 20 year olds do, but her stage presence and her piano-led show could have taken place in a Parisian cafe in the 20s or a 50s beatnik club, she could have been Ella or Billie up there…and it wasnt until I was cramming myself back into the Camden Town tube station that the magic of the show wore off enough to remind me we were in London on a cold winter’s night in 2009.

Her spirit on stage was magical, she danced and sang and joked with her band with such commeraderie that you know they are the dearest of friends both on and offstage.  The audience was also one of the highlights of the night. The Jazz Cafe cant hold more than a couple hundred at most, and of these, the mix of black, white, straight, gay, young and old was perfectly balanced even beyond a normal London gig. She appeals to such a wide audience and embodies that mixture of cultures, backgrounds and even age, as Laura is 20 going on classic.

I am relieved to have seen her before her US hit single Shine becomes just the first of many hit singles and her only choice is to fill larger and larger venues. The intimate setting , including her diva-esque entrance down the stairs onto the stage, certainly helped the entire crowd to fall hopelessly in love with this brilliant star, who also gently mentioned how her hero Jill Scott walked along in a film as her very own song played in the background. She works with some of the biggest talent out there and will no doubt soon sit among them all at the grandest of soul/jazz legends parties.


It’s Who You Know…London Rollergirls Olivia Coupe

7 12 2009

“You don’t  have to be a bad-ass, but if you have a whinge someone will yell at you to Harden the fuck up! I love that!” Olivia Coupe – London Rollergirls

I recently wrote a preview for Le Cool on the London Rollergirls roller derby league’s opening day. As a result I had the pleasure of interviewing star player Olivia ‘Liv or Die’ Coupe, who plays for the Ultraviolent Femmes.

MyMetropole: Thanks for answering some questions for us Olivia! First question is semi-obvious: How did you first get involved in RollerDerby?

Liv or Die: I first heard about roller derby in 2006 through my first job working in a production house in Auckland, New Zealand.  One of the programmes I was working on was thinking of doing a piece on New Zealand’s first league the ‘Pirate City Rollers’.  I was too shy to go by myself and it wasn’t until a few months later that I saw my first game and was hooked.  When I decided to go travelling and then to relocate  overseas I had 3 criteria and one of them was that the country had to have a roller derby league.  So I moved to London and joined the London Rollergirls.  Playing Roller Derby is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

MyMetropole: How does London’s roller derby league compare to others around the world?

Liv or Die: I wouldn’t be surprised if London has one of the most diverse roller derby leagues in the world.  We have women and men from all around the globe – loads of Americans, Antipodeans such as myself, French, Spanish.  We’ve played leagues all over the UK and more recently in Stuttgart, Germany.  Our All Star teams London Brawling and Brawl Saints remain undefeated and we recently won Roll Britannia which was Europe’s first ever Roller derby tournament.

MyMetropole: The season opener is tonight, what are some big events to look forward to coming up this season?

Liv or Die: We’re really excited to have two huge events next year – We have a game with the Texas Rollergirls’ Hustlers on 20 March 2010 and in April we’re flying over to New York to train and play with some of the U.S.A’s top leagues on the east coast.

MyMetropole: Sounds like London Rollergirls are really on the rise internationally. Let’s talk about getting knocked down now – do you girls suffer crazy injuries?

Liv or Die: Injuries?  Sure, like any sport the risk is certainly there,  but I’ve come away lucky.  I’ve had a black eye and a broken toe but nothing too serious.  Our league is really conscious of safely at every practice and we have designated trained safety persons for each session.

MyMetropole:But certainly you have to be a BAC (bad.ass.chick) to play roller derby, no?

Liv or Die: There’s no set personality type needed to play derby and you certainly don’t have to be “bad ass” :). Attitude doesn’t always equate to skill but it helps to be able to push yourself and do things that scare you.  Roller Derby doesn’t leave much room for complaining. Sometimes you might have a bit of a whinge at training or you’ll be in a really bad mood but someone will tell you to harden the fuck up and snap you out of it which I love.  I don’t consider myself very bad ass at all but when you’re in the game and you land a huge hit on a girl and she goes flying it’s the best feeling when the crowd goes nuts!

MyMetropole:Hell yeah! I can imagine that it feels great when the crowd goes wild!What are the fans like?

Liv or Die: Our fans are just as diverse as our league.  All ages from kids as young and 4 to grandparents.  A lot of our regulars are rollergirls from leagues around the UK, particularly Romsey Town Rollerbillies, Birmingham Blitz Dames, and Rainy City (Manchester).  A crowd averages around 200-300, partly limited due to us outgrowing our venue.  We’re always on the lookout for venues to train and bout in, which is really difficult to find in London.

MyMetropole: What about when you’re out on your own away from the fans. What are your favourite London locations?

Liv or Die: I’m a bit slack when it comes to seeing London.  I’ve got a couple of local restaurants in Brixton where I live that are really cheap and really good – so good I don’t want anyone else to know!

MyMetropole:Alright, then we won’t drag that out of you…So, how do people react when you first tell them you play roller derby?

Liv or Die: Most people seem really amused. I think they’re expecting some inked up rockabilly punk or someone a bit more imposing than myself.  We have all types including those of course!

MyMetropole:So, what is your ‘type’ then, What do you do?

Liv or Die: Film type. I’m a film editor working mostly in beauty/fashion.

MyMetropole: I see what you mean about roller derby girls having a variety of backgrounds. I never would have expected beauty and fashion film editors on knocking down the competition on four wheels!  So, mandatory MyMetropole question: Who inspires you?

Liv or Die: I don’t have any role models but I’m inspired by other women who achieve things or push themselves.  It makes me want to get out there and do the same.  I like having roller derby because I think it gives me a bit of an edge .

MyMetropole: Cheesy last question: How has taking the plunge to begin as a roller derby player changed your life?

Liv or Die: Over the years roller derby has given me a place to stay in a city where I knew no one, it’s allowed me to get into countless gigs and events for free, play sport internationally and it’s how I got my job which is a huge one!

Olivia ‘Liv or Die’ Coupe plays with the Ultraviolent Femmes, who had their first game of the season on Saturday night They lost to  the Steam Rollers, which is home to one of the league’ s superstars Jessica aka Sky Rockit,who was awarded both rollergirl of the match as voted by the crowd, and MVP as voted by the Ultraviolent Femmes.

The London Rollergirls have  6 games this season, 3 are closed door bouts not open to the public. For more information and schedules visit

So you think you know London? Name this London Location

4 12 2009

Okay kids, its time to play Name this London Location…The winner gets MyMetropole column inches for anything your little heart desires. You want to vent? Show off some pics? Shamelessly plug your blog?  Tell me the name of this London location, and a MyMetropole plug and post is all yours!

Good Luck!

Total Rewall

3 12 2009

Launching tomorrow night for a week of unadulterated subversive subterranean art is the Total Rewall event in the Leake St Tunnel near Waterloo -starting at 7pm on 4 December and open all day everyday until the 10 December 2009.Some of you may remember this famous tunnel thanks to the Cans Festival last year thrown by none other than Banksy himself. As I pointed out in my Le Cool preview of Total Rewall this week, I thought myself clever to be sunning myself in Spain last year and I missed it.

This will be my first time in the Leake St Tunnel, and the premise of Total Rewall seems exciting enough:

First, 32 photographers were asked to take pics of places normally out-of-bounds for graffiti / street artists.

Total Rewall

Next, these pics will be blown up to mega size and laid throughout the tunnel.

Lastly, an open invitation is being sent out to street artists of all kinds – graffiti, stencil, etc, who are invited to come work their magic on all the pieces in what will have become a street artists pop up mecca. (That’s you, by the way, so get there!) Also, for those of us less-skilled in this area, visitors are invited too!

Total Rewall

From the Cans Festival

The evolution of the images will be documented on a daily basis and displayed on, and then Totalrewallers will create an online book available for download.