A Tremendous Tour of Trellick Tower With Open House London

If you’ve not heard of it, Open House London is an annual festival where buildings and homes of architectural interest are open to the public to have a browse.  Sounds excellent, but it’s actually really difficult to get into any of the buildings! The best ones you have to sign up to weeks in advance online.  We failed to do this. However on Sunday we thought we’d chance our arm (s) and hang around outside the iconic Trellick Tower near Portobello Market and see if we could get on a tour anyway.

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Beautiful graffiti at the foot of Trellick Tower
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Precariously balanced graffiti artists

By a complete stroke of luck, we got squeezed on a tour.  But by now my expectations were low.  It’s such a striking building from the outside, but when you get close to the building the area around it is very run down and the building itself looked pretty grotty and unloved. Was it worth looking inside?

However, first good sign – our tour guide was sprightly, clever and fun, and in the lift we got, up to the 18th floor.  And wow! We were greeted with a pop of bright yellow! There was shining yellow tiling everywhere – all around the lift shaft and up the corridors.  It was so cheering and contemporary – it looked amazing.  I couldn’t believe the tiles looked so good after over 40 years (Trellick was built in 1972).

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Apparently all the other floors have different coloured tiles.  The Brutalist architect Goldfinger chose to use these upbeat tiles and a lot of big windows in the corridors to ensure residents got a good burst of light in their flats and would feel uplifted as they walked down the corridors to their homes. Very progressive thinking for social housing in the 70s.

And excitement, we were going to to see two examples of Trellick flats.  I love nosing around people’s places, especially if I can steal interior ideas.

First of all we walked into a one bedroom flat (which was as it turned out owned by the tour guide) – it was very compact: small bedroom, small lounge, small kitchen – but it was rather lovely and most importantly the views of London were stunning!

Next up we went into a three bedroom flat, the friendly owner and his enthusiastic fluffy dog greeted us at the top of the stairs.  It was an attractive, tasteful flat packed with great vintage furniture and most of the rooms had incredible views.

I was particularly enamoured with the kitchen – and was keen to find out how I could replicate the yellow kitchen cupboards.  Cue me bothering the owner who kindly explained how to achieve the look (Ikea cupboards and Farrow and Ball paint if you are interested).

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Kitchen envy
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Best bedroom view ever
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Me having a vertigo moment – looking over the balcony at 18 floors was frightening
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View of the basketball court from 31st floor – don’t fall!
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Iconic stained glass windows – all a bit Doctor Who!

In just half an hour I felt that we’d been transported into another world! It was a very interesting, enjoyable and even better – completely free – tour.  We felt privileged that the tour guide and his neighbour so generously gave up their time to let us trample through their homes.

 

Eating Three Courses for £7 at Books for Cooks, the Famous Notting Hill Cookbook Shop

I need to clarify to begin with that I didn’t in fact eat three courses for £7, I ate two courses for £5.  But I needed you to know that you COULD eat three courses for £7. This is such a deal!

My friend Lolita let me in on this hidden gem back in May.  Books for Cooks is a fantastic bookshop entirely dedicated to cookbooks and so it’s my idea of heaven.  And! Even better they have a daily test kitchen where they sample recipes from their cookbooks and serve them to the public at a meagre cost.  I was shown photographic evidence of the food Lolita had eaten and I knew I had to go as soon as possible.

My visit wasn’t entirely straight-forward.  I was accompanied by my friend Vic and her toddler Bella, both Vic and I accepting the challenge of entertaining a toddler during quite a fancy meal.  We could do this surely! Well Bella was certainly as enthusiastic as me about the cookbooks. She merrily pulled as many as she could off the shelves to have a good old look.  As the delicious starter (chilled minted pea soup) arrived, it became apparent we would need to eat in shifts.  One to walk Bella outside, one to eat and repeat!

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Chilled Minted Pea Soup

Chilled minted pea soup then?  Little did I know how much I would like a cold soup – it sounds a bit weird.  But it was thick, refreshing, sweet and delicious – it was a winner.

Next up was beef bourginon with crushed new potatoes.  What’s not to love about a beef bourginon? It was admittedly a small portion, but with pudding in mind and it only being midday, this did make sense.  And it really was a rich, tender bourginon and those great buttery crushed potatoes on top were a lovely touch.

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Beef Bourginon with Crushed New Potatoes

Unfortunately despite having plenty of room for a pud, Bella had reached her saturation point.  I jealously surveyed the three varieties of cake being doled out (guinness cake, apricot sponge and carrot and walnut cake).  I just about managed to be a grown up about it, promising myself that I would return one day and have the full three courses.

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The day’s menu and the delicious cakes I nearly ate
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Delightful Bella, momentarily distracted from pulling all the books off the shelves

I heartily recommend you visit the test kitchen at Books for Cooks whether you are interested in the cookbooks or not, you will be very interested in the delicious and bargain priced meal.  The staff were lively and welcoming and clearly loved having their bookshop crammed with greedy customers.  I will most definitely be back to browse the colourful bookshelves and eat more food.

Find out more about Books for Cooks here: https://www.booksforcooks.com/