Monday, 25 November 2013

Walking and Watching, Box Hill and Electric Cinema : LOCAL LOVES

Now that we are only days away from December, that scandalous month of constant drinking, I decided to have an alcohol free weekend! Brave, I know!

So with a combination of fresh countryside air and luxurious relaxation on the schedule I practically skipped out of the office on Friday.

First stop was Box Hill in Surrey -  wrapped up in tweed and patterned knitwear I met up with lovely Catriona and jumped in the car. After a quick 40 minute drive and several goes around one particular roundabout we found the other girls in the Stepping Stones car park. But there was one fantastic new addition to the gang - everyone meet Griff! Isn't he brill?!

As you can tell from the name of the car park our walk started with a pretty hairy river crossing, Griff definitely didn't fancy it at all. The water was running high and quick due to all the rain we've been having recently so the little dog was gathered up into Emily's arms and we tackled the stepping stones.

It was round about now that I began to wish that I was a gym goer - Box Hill is flipping steep! Bear Grylls steep. And although the Hunter wellies looked the part they certainly didn't help with the climb. Boy I was pooped. So pooped in fact that none of us fancied the pink fizz I had hidden in my bag when we reached the top! This definitely isn't one for the faint hearted but it is certainly worth it for the view.

Although the day started in beautiful sunshine the clouds had unfortunately gathered by the time we were at the top so the photos aren't great but I hope you get the idea!

At the top is a visitors centre and cafe so you can stop for lunch. There were hundreds of cyclists up and I began to wish I was wearing lycra and not a pair of knee high Jack Wills socks!

The route we took down was much more relaxing and Griff had a lovely time. What a handsome chap. At the bottom of the hill is a lovely pub called the Running Horses (which recently featured in an episode of Made in Chelsea ha!) and we thought we had definitely earned a pub lunch so off down the leaf strewn road  in it's direction we went. Hilariously Griff decided he didn't like walking on leaves and turned into quite an efficient snowplow!

Leaving our muddy boots by the door we found a perfect spot by the fire and munched on humungous sandwiches and the chunkiest of chunky chips. Feeling completely full up and chuffed with ourselves we jumped into the cars before the food coma hit. I slept like a baby that night!

The following day (which I woke up on without a hangover hurrah!) I bounced out of bed and put on my new fox dress - perfect for a trip to Notting Hill. My destination - Electric Cinema on Portobello Road. Notting Hill is a really beautiful area of London with pastel coloured mews houses, tiny candlelit bistros and that famous market. 

It really is the most fantastic place and I can't go back to normal cinemas after experiencing this level of cinematic bliss! Gone are the fold down velvet chairs and popcorn strewn carpets...instead you enter the most luxurious hall full of leather sofas, armchairs, footstools and even beds on the front row! The bar serves cheeseboards, freshly made sausage rolls and, of course, gourmet hot dogs. And there isn't the normal balancing act of food on knees and drinks in cup holders - every seat has a beautiful little mirrored side-table and vintage lamp. Then, just as the lights went down I realised the foot stool had a lid and inside was a cashmere blanket! Flipping heck I was in heaven. 

Gosh, I haven't even told you what movie I was there to see!! It was called Sunshine on Leith and it was so good that I downloaded the soundtrack on the way home! It's similar to how Mamma Mia used the music of Abba - instead this film is made with the music of The Proclaimers. Now don't let a lack of knowledge of The Proclaimers back catalogue put you off - I walked into the cinema only knowing one song. Yep 'I would walk 500 do do do!'

The film is so utterly heartwarming and the performances are fantastic. I am now head over heels in love with George Mackay the male lead and was so surprised when I found out he isn't Scottish in real life - such a great (and sexy) accent!

As you can imagine the tickets aren't cheap but they are only about £3 more than a normal cinema if you go on a Sunday - and could there be a more perfect Sunday activity?! Armchairs are £15.50, a sofa for two people is £40 and I think a bed at the front is £25. Upcoming shows are The Counsellor and Saving Mr Banks so head over to the website and book yourself in.  

And one more hidden gem about Electric is that there is a fantastic restaurant next door! Check out the menu here - it's a perfect winter warmer on a chilly dark evening.

So that's three suggestions from me today:

 - Stride up Boxhill and fill your lungs with that beautiful air... Then tumble down to the pub!

- Try and see Sunshine on Leith before it finishes in cinemas! It really is one of my new faves and I can't wait for the dvd to come out in January.

- Go to the Electric Cinema as soon as possible and experience the luxury. Even the walk from the tube is a treat, pottering down Portobello Road we bought chocolate waffles for supper. 

p.s. one little admission....I had a half pint of cider at the Running Horses and a little beer at the cinema...dammit!!