Insider guide to London: Harriet Elizabeth Waghorn

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Harriet Waghorn – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

Harriet Elizabeth Waghorn is one of the loveliest and most dynamic women you could hope to meet in London. She’s also an incredible dancer – good enough that she has been able to turn her passion into a career, which is no mean feat in a town stuffed with thousands of talented dancers all competing for the same goal. Her determination and dedication don’t stop her from having fun though, so she’s the perfect London guide for anyone looking for something mindful, healthy, physical and entertaining.

Harriet took her postgraduate degree in dance at one of the UK’s top conservatoires, the Trinity Laban school, which is also a lovely place to visit – you can occasionally catch public performances by students as well as the odd music recital.

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Harriet Waghorn outside Southwark Cathedral – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

She’s currently working as a freelance dancer in Latin American and Contemporary dance and as a company member of Nutshell Dance Company.

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Harriet Waghorn outside Southwark Cathedral – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Contact improvisation at Moving East
Contact improvisation at Moving East

My favourite place to meet random people: Moving East. If you really want to try something different that connects with all sorts of weird and wonderful people, you should go to the Contact Jam at Moving East in Dalston. A Contact Jam is an improvised movement/dance session based on Contact Improvisation, which is about connecting your mind and body with the space and bodies around you. Depending on your mood your session might be playful, mindful, energetic – whatever you, your body and your mind need at the time. The session at Moving East are held every Saturday from 1-6 (1-3 is a guided session with a facilitator, 3-6 is an open improvisation). I go every week if I am free and I always leave feeling more energized. You need to wear comfortable clothes you can move in and bare feet. P.S you do not need to be a dancer to go to this class.

The nave of Southwark Cathedral
The nave of Southwark Cathedral – picture by Adrian Pingstone

If ever I need a place to rethink and recalculate I like to go to Southwark Cathedral. It’s not because I’m religious, but the space, architecture and atmosphere never cease to overwhelm me. So calm and tranquil but simultaneously grand and impressive.

It doesn’t have to be Southwark Cathedral necessarily, but if you want to visit one of London’s more famous churches where things are a bit more tourist-y, some of the bigger ones charge you to get in. To avoid these costs you can always go to a service (there is usually one around 5/5:30pm) and see the space that way.

The Wapping Project
The Wapping Project – picture via Tripadvisor

My favourite place for a fancy dinner: The Wapping Project. I came across this place when I was employed to teach Ballroom classes in the exhibition space below the restaurant. The Wapping project is a converted Hydraulic Power station – many of the old industrial features have been preserved and co-exist with modern fittings to create a sleek yet rustic feeling. The prices are not cheap for those living on an ‘artistic’ wage. But for most others it’s a typical ‘nice dinner out’ expenditure. As well as serving great food with an impressive setting, they often have exhibitions, performance projects and other bits and pieces going on in the space below the restaurant.

Hot Tub Cinema
Hot Tub Cinema

My favourite place for a new experience: Hot Tub Cinema. Your first thought might be “young frisky Londoners, scantily clad, in hot tubs watching films – is this my thing? Really?” The answer is yes! Whilst all the above is correct (although not necessarily the frisky bit) it is such a great experience that it is one not to miss. You can order popcorn, sweets, drinks, hotdogs and other treats straight to your hottub without having to leave your gloriously warm environment. Last year the hot tubs were situated on rooftops in Shoreditch in the summer, and in a steamy warehouse in the winter. The tickets sell out really fast so book early and you will have an amazing time.

The Counter Cafe at Stour Space
The Counter Cafe at Stour Space

My favourite place for brunch is Stour Space, an exhibition/studio/café space in Hackney Wick. It is situated right on the River Lea with a floating outdoor seating area that looks across to the Olympic Park. I go here at least once most weeks to grab some brunch and sit at my laptop in between teaching my dance classes. The food at this independent café isn’t cheap, but it’s not particularly expensive either and the quality is great. I found this gem when I was wandering aimlessly on a sunny afternoon and was stopped by a passerby who told me go to here – so I did.

 

Insider guide to London: Ellie Geary

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Ellie Geary at London’s Garden Museum – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

This week’s London guide Ellie Geary is one of a new wave of young artists that have moved to south London over the past few years. She specialises in creating atmospheric collage pieces and has recently started working with video too. She also one half of Splitpin Projects (the other half being our photographer Jessy), art directing special projects and curating exhibitions and shows around the south of England. They’re currently working on an exhibition in Margate and will be hosting events as part of Camberwell Arts Festival this year.

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Ellie Geary at London’s Garden Museum – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

Ellie has only lived in London for two years, but has very much become a part of the city. She’s always hunting around for inspiration and finding new places to go.

“I like spending time in places with interesting story and sentiment and get inspiration from textiles, train journeys, photography, medieval art, animals and the contrast between the city and countryside,” she says.

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Ellie Geary at London’s Garden Museum – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
DeliCate on the Cut
DeliCate on The Cut – picture via the very good London SE1 site

My favourite place for breakfast is Delicate on The Cut. It is a tiny place of great value and selection, sympathetically open for breakfast until 4pm, thank you. Be sure to ask for some of their freshly squeezed orange juice because it is amazing.

The Old School Yard is my favourite place to go for a night of non-stop dancing and purely ridiculous antics. There are games consoles, private karaoke rooms and pizzas named after each of the Ninja Turtles, and it’s really close to Borough station (in a direction that doesn’t take you to the sprawling mess that is Borough High Street on a Saturday night).

London Garden Museum
The restored Knot Garden at the Garden Museum – picture via Wikipedia

I go to the Garden Museum to relax and get my nature fix. Set in the medieval and Victorian church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, it feels modest and inviting with exhibition space, a garden shop and tearooms. As my mother works as a gardener, I like to pick up a postcard, a book or some seeds for her when I’m in.

For me, the best place to buy books has to be Quinto Bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Publications range from rather expensive but beautifully bound editions to second hand novels on sale for £1 at the front. You need time to rummage and explore downstairs amongst the dusty old art books too. I always find a bargain in there!

The Cross Bones Graveyard plaque
The Cross Bones Graveyard plaque – image via Wikipedia user ProfDeh

The Cross Bones cemetery gate is my recent historical discovery. Just off Southwark Street on Redcross Way, it is an old site of a mass grave for ‘The Outcast Dead’. I like that fact is it both macabre and wonderfully decorative. Attached to the gates are a myriad of messages, toys and tokens left by the public… always worth passing on route to Tate Modern.

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Ellie Geary at London’s Garden Museum – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler