Dive into the delights of West Hampstead events

What I love about Whamp events is the brilliant people I have met. Yet without these events, I would have quite happily walked past them on West End Lane!

Of course, I also like the easy exchanges about the streets and roads we live on, recommendations on the best places to go in the area and how long we’ve been living in this mutually-agreed-upon wonderful neighbourhood. Not to mention walking home at the end of the evening with no requirement for public transport. An evening sans social-commute! Bliss! These are enjoyable and indeed essential pieces of the Whamp Life puzzle.

Summer evening drinks at The Black Lion

Summer evening drinks at The Black Lion

However, it is the lasting impression of local characters that leave me bubbling with enthusiasm after every event I’ve organised. From fresh-starters to long-time Whampers; from witty writers to astute city goers; from the famous West End, to West End Lane business owners. Every person has a different story about how they came to be in West Hampstead, yet steadfastly I’ve found them to be friendly, interesting and interested in the world around them. Turning up to an event in the hope of meeting your neighbours is a good filter to find sociable, open people and that seems especially true here. This is what makes West Hampstead Life so special.

Few drinks at One Sixty before heading out for a dinner

Few drinks at One Sixty before heading out for a dinner

What’s the story?
I have my own little personal history of how I came to run the Whamp events. I find myself re-telling the tale when I meet new faces at these socials and the inevitable curiosity about how this unique community came to exist in London. Firstly, I always emphasise that I only running the events! There’s a small team of people who do a fabulous job of the website, emails, reviews and twitter (usually I don’t contribute to the news!).

Secondly, I am not the pioneer! I am continuing the years of work by Jonathan and his supporters who established this concept. I’ve always been a big fan of meeting people in person, so I’m delighted to be carrying it on with his guidance. I will save the rest of the story of how I got involved for face-to-face telling, otherwise you’ll be missing out on the requisite animated hand gestures. All I will say is that it involves a willing bunch of West Hampstead ladies (and one lovely one in particular), a few too many Pimms & Lemonade and a narrow escape from the doomed Lower Ground Bar!

What kind of events?
Whether it’s a sit-down WhampDinner or a more relaxed WhampSocial, we like to mix it up. Since relaunching the events in June this year, we’ve done a Friday night curry at gorgeous Guglee, book-ended by drinks at One Sixty and the Railway; an evening with a steady flow of lovely people round a table or two at the Black Lion; followed by a splendid turnout of old timers and newcomers that found their way to us through the Czech bar, into the beer garden and onto plastic chairs.

Twenty four locals enjoy dinner at Guglee

Twenty four locals enjoy dinner at Guglee

Most recently, a lively bunch met for tasty Vietnamese at Pham House, with a few drinks next door at The Gallery. Next we plan to try the soon-to-open Thunderbird bar on West End Lane.

If all this sounds like its for you, read more about the practicalities (tldr: sign up to the mailing list)

All you need is an email address and a NW6 postcode (or NW2 or 3 if we’re feeling generous), then the Whamp world is your oyster. Throw your name in the hat and maybe yours will be the next Whamp story. If you do, I think you’re highly likely to have an entertaining evening. Because we’ll be somewhere lovely in West Hampstead, happy to meet someone new, surrounded by more people with the same outlook. Long may Whamp Events continue. Come! We’ll make it so.

Whampdinner: The Movie!

Ever wondered what West Hampstead Life events are really like? Or maybe you’ve already been to a few and want to relive those heady evenings?

Either way, now’s your chance. We teamed up with talented amateur filmmaker – and West Hampstead local – Helen Carrie, who has put together this brilliant short film of the last whampdinner, held a couple of weeks ago at Mamako.

As you can see, mouthwatering food and scintillating chat with new local friends were the order of the day, as 25 of us took over the restaurant for a fun evening getting to know our West Hampstead neighbours. Helen’s really captured the friendly, relaxed vibe of the evening so if you’ve always wondered whether these events are for you, check it out for a good flavour of what to expect!

If you do fancy coming along to future events, get yourself on the mailing list, if you aren’t already, for advance notice of dinners and other one-off meetups.

DIY food at Seoul is the way to go

A couple of weeks ago we took 24 people to Seoul on Finchley Road for #whampdinner. It’s not a restaurant most people were familiar with, so what did we think?

Tom: I was interested to see what Seoul was all about, having not eaten Korean for quite some time, and only done the table-top cooking with such cuisine on one previous occasion. In the event, my table bottled-out altogether, with not a single one of us mustering up the courage to try what is clearly their main speciality!

Vegetable dumplings with a soy dipping sauce were fine, and got things off to a positive start.

However, trying a seafood noodle dish, curious as to how this might vary from a Chinese, or Thai, equivalent, didn’t prove to be the most inspired decision. The thick udon noodles were pleasingly “chewsome”, but tricky to manage with the (very charming) thin steel chopsticks (albeit I am like a drunk stick insect when juggling such utensils). My bowl included one prawn, which being in its shell was even trickier to actually eat, as was the solitary mussel. There was plenty of squid however, which was most definitely on the rubbery side, though not inedible. Not unenjoyable, then, but all a little flat.

Other plates such as those where you mix a raw egg into a hot mixture of rice and things, were generally lacking in seasoning. Service was fine, though it proved very taxing for the kitchen to get main dishes out together.

So in summary, no major food crimes in evidence, but for those choosing simple options, I’d like to see a little more heart and “s(e)oul” in evidence. (Apologies – pathetic!)

Jonathan: Both the other two tables embraced the barbecue concept with gusto and overall it was pretty good. Our waitress really looked after us and made sure everything was cooked properly. We had rice on the side and a small selection of starters including gyoza-type dumplings and the obligatory kimchi.

Barbecue meat at Seoul- photo with permission by LondonEater

Barbecue meat at Seoul- photo with permission by LondonEater

If you fancy something filling and not too expensive then the bimbimbap dishes aren’t going to leave you hungry even if, as Tom suggests, they’re not exciting. The bulgogi and the barbecue meat in general though is well worth trying – and it’s a fun way to spend the evening with a group of friends. It’s the second time I’ve been to Seoul and I think it’s well worth the trip if you fancy a change from West End Lane.