Visit London Blog » waterloo Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Railway Children Return to Waterloo Wed, 13 Jul 2011 09:06:41 +0000

I’m no trainspotter but I was excited to return to the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. Fond memories of day trips were supplemented by curiosity about this unique production of E Nesbit’s classic tale.

The Railway Children first came to Waterloo last year. Positive reviews and an Olivier Award followed. It’s back until 4 September.

I wasn’t disappointed – The Railway Children is innovative whilst oozing nostalgia and charm. I agree with much of Jenny’s original review.

Asking around the audience, I discovered someone who’d also seen the show in 2010. Her feeling was that the already good show had been refined and was better than ever. There’s also new cast including comedian and broadcaster Marcus Brigstocke as Station Master Perks. However, for me the star of the show remains Stirling Single, the 60 tonne steam locomotive which makes its spectacular entrance at the end of the first half.

Note to parents: the mums in our group felt that the show was not suitable for young children. There are some loud and potentially scary moments. I’d say 7 and above to be on the safe side although the recommendation appears to be 5+.

Railway Children is at Waterloo Station until 4 September

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Cuba in London: Cubana Restaurant and Bar Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:00:20 +0000

We spoke to Cubana founder and Managing Director Phillip Oppenheim about opening Cubana 12 years ago, scouring Cuba for pre-revolution recipes and serving the first mojitos in London:

Choosing Cuban Cuisine

I was always fascinated by food and drink and fortunate to have travelled widely. I was a journalist in the early part of my career but I always wanted to do a restaurant. I thought of sushi in London or a greasy spoon in Paris. I wanted to do something different, not a theme bar. By the time we got round to it, sushi had already been done in London.

My then-girlfriend had studied Cuba at university. Although I had travelled a lot, I wasn’t very familiar with Latin America so we went there. We discovered cocktail culture (we served the first mojitos in London), cigars and salsa but the food had gone into decline after the Communist revolution.

To research the food, we found old pre-revolutionary cook books in a book market in Havana and we also found old plantation cooks in the countryside who gave us recipes. We also got some from Cuban-Americans in Miami. We found the mojito recipe from a barman in an illegal private bar in Havana – at that time no-one did mojitos and we brought them to the UK.

Cuban Food at Cubana

Cuban food is obviously Latin American but Mexican is spicier. Cuban food is based on very good ingredients so they don’t need to use too much spice. It’s an eclectic cuisine with North African and Spanish influences.

Our food is always made from fresh ingredients – we never use anything pre-prepared. Everything is free-range – we’ve even received an RSPCA award. Our steaks are from a top quality supplier. We use fresh fruit to make our cocktails – apart from cranberry juice!

We have two signature dishes: Pollo Criollo, that’s free-range chicken marinated in orange juice served with fried plantain and black bean rice. And Ropa Vieja which means “old clothes”. It’s a gloopy, shredded beef stew that takes a day to cook – it’s real comfort food. We sell a lot of it at Glastonbury festival.

Bringing Cuba To London

There aren’t vast numbers of Cubans in London but we get a steady flow in Cubana. The guys from the Embassy often come in and we have Cuban bands that play here. We have lots of Spanish and South American staff.

We do Cuban music and street food as part of Waterloo Carnival and Waterloo Quarter – there are music and street food events throughout July. We also have a Cubana event at Glastonbury festival.

Why Visit Cubana?

Fresh food, great cocktails, reasonable prices.

Cubana, 48 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RG

Where else can you enjoy Cuban culture in London? Tell us in the comments below.

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DITCH Any Other Plans and Head to the Old Vic Tunnels Thu, 03 Jun 2010 12:30:35 +0000 The tunnels under Waterloo Station We were greeted by the sight of a dead hare tree Lighting added to the atmosphere dolls The venue's Bunker bar

We entered through a small unsteady door, the space was immediately dark and the air was damp. I felt and heard the resounding heartbeat of the Waterloo trains above.

Ditch is certainly a surreal experience, every moment more surprising than the last right up until the final, painfully bitter moments of the play. It is performed in Tunnel 228, a once functional train tunnel beneath Waterloo station that’s been taken over by the Old Vic Theatre.

The production, which is a fusion of art and theatre, begins as an installation that you must walk through to reach your seat. Sinister clues are displayed against harsh lighting, for example a dead hare hanging above a pool of blood. It’s not clear if the haunting symbols are something intended by the playwright, Beth Steel, or if the production team decided on it themselves, either way they set the scene powerfully. Once you’ve walked through these shadowy tableaux you reach a small makeshift theatre space.

Despite the cold hostile environment, we were kept snug in our seats with cosy complimentary blankets. The play itself was relentless, set in a dystopian future. We watch a group of “fascist strongmen” whose purpose is to catch the illegals they find on the moors. They are tended to by two women, powerless and lost within a world of aggressive men.

The narrative of Beth Steel’s play is a little confusing at the start but the cast’s flawless acting is convincing enough to carry one along. The six characters loosely pair up – the lovers, the friends, the elders. Their prospects are bleak, and yet through the whiskey-fuelled action there are moments of hope amongst the despair and eventual doom. A glimpse of romance adds a little compassion to the story and allows the audience to sympathise. The juxtaposition of these tender feelings against the harsh reality of this dwindling civilisation is engaging and Richard Twyman’s direction emphasises this further.

Of the six actors, Dearbhla Molloy, who played Mrs Peel, was most impressive. Her gritty depiction of this older woman was consistently moving despite the brutal nature of the part. Throughout the show the sound effects blend with the disturbing rumbling trains above, a constant reminder of one’s location.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the play (Beth Steel’s first) and the atmospheric environment. With £12 ticket offers about there is no reason to miss out on this otherworldly experience.

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Launch of The Railway Children Live at London’s Waterloo Station Wed, 24 Mar 2010 19:01:05 +0000 The poster for The Railway Children Live at Waterloo Station The old Eurostar lobby will be transformed into an exhibition space about The Railway Children Try to imagine 10 rows of banked seating on either side of the tracks: this platform is where the show will take place...

Today I went back to the old Eurostar terminal at London’s Waterloo. It immediately brought back memories of boozy fashion press trips to Paris, when I worked in a different job…

This trip was much more wholesome. This summer, one of the old Eurostar platforms is being transformed into a stage. Above it, a huge tunnel-like canopy will keep most of the noise of the station out, and provide the backdrop for an exciting, site-specific children’s theatre show: The Railway Children.

The star of the show is Stirling Single, a real steam locomotive, which’ll appear from a tunnel at a dramatic moment, pulling a carriage, its pistons gleaming, atmospheric steam adding to the theatrical tension. I can’t wait.

Other sections of the old Eurostar station are being transformed for the show too. So while you’re waiting for the play to start, you can browse an exhibition all about E Nesbit’s original book, the history of the railways, the Railway Children Charity, and the setting of the play: Yorkshire.

While you might think older railway sites like Shunt at London Bridge would’ve been a better fit for a story published in 1906, I think The Railway Children Live at Waterloo Station will make excellent use of the space. And there’s certainly something to be said for using a more modern site: nightly audiences of around 900 will be able to choose from 1,800 Eurostar toilets! A luxury you don’t often get at the theatre in London

It sounds like it’s going to be one of the family theatre events of the summer.

The Railway Children opens at the Waterloo Station Theatre on 4 July. Book your tickets now

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