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.

October 30 event: Make new friends at the streetfood market

The weeknight street food market has been a roaring success, so we thought what better way to ward off the spirits around Halloween than by gathering together and sharing some delicious street food and hot spiced punch… with discounts!

Streetfood market2

On the evening of October 30th, starting at 7.30pm and running until about 9pm, come join us around the candle-lit pumpkins. Afterwards we’ll be retiring to Frida’s bar at Mamacita for those who might want a drink with a bit more kick!

The stallholders are offering 20% off all food and Frida’s is ALSO giving us a 20% discount on drinks – but to take advantage of the discount you’ll need to register.

Mail with the word WHalloween (typed exactly like this – any variants and it won’t work!) in the subject line and you’ll get a reply with the invite flyer. Please check your spam/junk mail if you don’t receive it.

You can print out the flyer or show it on your phone on the night when you pay for the food. This registration is to give us a rough idea of numbers, which should mean we don’t run out of food!

The stalls will be serving burgers, crêpes, falafel, Caribbean, Indian and Venezuelan food, mac & cheese, and the BBQ Collective.

Should the weather takes a turn for the worse, the event will be postponed, but at the moment, the forecast is fine.

“I had an absolutely brilliant time.” Get the scoop on Whampsocial


What’s the person on the right doing?

Last Wednesday, around 30 people crammed into Frida’s, the downstairs bar at Mamacita, for the first of a new regular meetup event: Whampsocial. A specially-created menu of delicious cocktails (only £5!) and filled tacos served in glazed roof tiles (amazing) were the accompaniment to some lively chat amongst local people keen to meet and mingle with their West Hampstead neighbours.

But don’t take our word for it; here’s the verdict from a few of the people who were there, kicking off with the night’s charming and welcoming organiser,


It was a really great night – the atmosphere in Frida’s, with its low ceiling and dimmed lighting, was perfect for it. A great mix of the usual faces and a few newbies, along with some delicious cocktails, was the perfect combination for interesting conversation and lots of laughter. Still trying to mull over which is my favourite Mamacita cocktail… Close call between the Hemingway daiquiri and the Elderflower and cranberry sangria! (Or maybe the Mamacita spritz?! Decisions, decisions…)


WHampSocial 1.0 was everything it promised to be – casual, mingly, and boozey. It was great to see that right from the start people were bold enough to come alone, jumping right into the conversation. It was excellent fun to catch up with old and new local Twitterers alike, with a good mix of regulars and newcomers, with everybody fitting in nicely. The venue was great, nice and cosy with friendly staff. I stuck to the beers, trying all three proper ones (obviously skipped the Pacifico), having already nailed the cocktail menu on previous occasions. Two decent pale ales were a bit overpriced, but a good strong stout (6%!) got numerous encores, definitely contributing to painful, but worth it, morning after.


As a whampevent regular I expected to meet friendly, liked minded people…and I did….but I especially enjoyed this smaller informal event because it was even easier to chat. The delicious Frida’s cocktails probably had something to do with it!

Luke and Dana

It was our first time attending a Whampevent so, fashionably late, we wandered down the stairs of Mamacita with a little trepidation. The bar was buzzing with a good sized crowd of friendly faced, cocktail drinking locals and while we scanned the drinks menu we were greeted with smiles and hellos. Within minutes we were introduced to a nearby group and made to feel very welcome. The night, like all good nights do, seemed to fly by in no time at all and the details of exactly what happened are a little hazy. But I do remember: – Sampling most of the drinks on the special cocktail menu – Talking about the amorous couple in the corner – A detailed review of, and set of scenario based recommendations, for a local weekend Brunch


I had an absolutely brilliant time at Whampsocial. I was a little concerned as I was arriving late and on my own, but people are so friendly and welcoming that this was soon forgotten and I really enjoyed the evening. The atmosphere and cocktails were both excellent and I’m looking forward to the next one!


I was quite a late arrival so headed downstairs worried I might find myself alone. Or, worse, only Norm and Cliff propping up the bar (whamp youngsters, look it up). Nothing of the sort: the room was still packed, very friendly and Frida’s worked well as a venue. All in all, Whampsocial looks like a great new addition to the West Hampstead calendar.


I really enjoyed the evening, I met very nice people (not so surprising only nice people live in West Hampstead 😉 )


I loved the relaxed-yet-funky atmosphere in Frida’s Bar – the decor is fun but not too obtrusive, the cocktails are original twists on old classics and really rather good, and the company was, of course, second to none.

The food was full of flavour, filling and modestly priced. I spent £10 on two shots of tacos (a Whampsocial special offer) which fully sated my large appetite. The chicken and chorizo ( I think this is what they were – my memory is slightly hazy) was succulent and juicy with a memorable taste, while the pork and apple had a wonderful balanced flavour.


What a lovely atmosphere at last night’s Whampsocial, it was great to catch up with some familiar faces and to meet some lovely new locals. We had some great banter about the rugby, as a Welsh lass I came in for quite a ribbing. They had pulled out all the stops at the cosy Frida’s Bar, with a tailor-made ‘mates rates’ cocktail menu, which certainly helped to get the conversation flowing! By the end of the night I was feeling the effects of the delicious blood orange cosmopolitans and it seems I have agreed to organise a night out at Lately’s. Oh dear.


New event: #Whampsocial – March 12th

Whampgather is an all-out party, and Whampdinner is so popular it can be hard to get a place (we know, we’re sorry). It made sense to start something in between – a more informal mid-week meetup, open to everyone. The result: Whampsocial.


This is a casual affair on Wednesday evenings (might occasionally be Tuesdays, to keep you on your toes) that gives you a chance to meet some locals and indulge in some beverages and food to help you get through the rest of the week. The first two are March 12th and March 26th.

Mamacita on West End Lane has kindly agreed to host us in its atmospheric basement bar ‘Frida’s’. There will be drinks and food offers that won’t break the bank:

  • £5 tacos, the perfect bite to have with a round of drinks;
  • bottles of wine for £15 or £3.50 by the glass;
  • selected cocktails for £5;
  • and even carafes of cocktails to share – the perfect excuse to make some new friends!

In case you were reading too fast, that’s carafes of cocktails. Exactly.

If you’re feeling adventurous (and don’t have too early a start the following day), there’s also an epic selection of tequilas available!

Whampsocial will happen every 2-3 weeks, from 7pm until around 11 (or later, for those who want to brave heading across the road to Lower Ground Bar…). We’ll be advertising it via Twitter using the hashtag #whampsocial and on the calendar on the website.

It won’t be ticketed (unless it turns out to be excessively popular!), but please let us know via Twitter whether you’ll be coming so we have an idea of numbers. If you’re not on Twitter, just leave a comment on the relevant event page on the calendar.

We’re a friendly bunch, so don’t worry about coming along on your own – there’ll always be someone to chat to. We’ve all been whampevent virgins at some point! Pop in for a couple, or stick around for the whole night. Either way, we hope you’ll make some new friends and have a great laugh. See you at the bar…

Rosie (@PuddingsAndWine) & Jonathan (@WHampstead)

Whampevent: It’s funny because it’s true

STOP PRESS: If you’re coming tonight – be there by 7pm or you probably won’t get in

If you didn’t know that Kilburn’s Good Ship runs a Monday night comedy club then you have had your head in the sand for the past few years. Now you can find out and meet some lovely locals at this last minute whampevent.

It’s a no-brainer this. The club gets great acts, and tickets are dirt cheap. I mean stupidly cheap. It’s five pounds on the door. Five pounds! There’s even a small discount for booking ahead. Yes, you can get to see three or four good comedians for less than five pounds. There’s even a raffle where you can win the notorious Bag of Shit from the Pound Shop

This Monday (September 30th), the headline act is Andy Zaltzman. If you don’t know him, well you probably should. Aside from being a big sports fan, he’s an affable political comedian who’s worked with John Oliver (Jon Stewart’s sidekick on the Daily Show) and has written for Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

Time Out said, “The best political comedian in the business, Zaltzman lets loose a veritable torrent of jokes, facts, observations, very short stories, silly remarks and inspired asides… Zaltzman is breathtakingly good.”

I saw him at The Good Ship last year, and he was excellent.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I thought we’d organise a fairly impromptu whamp drinks & comedy night on Monday.

This is all very simple. You need to either buy a ticket online (there aren’t a lot of these left), or just turn up on the night. The bar is expecting a sell-out, so you need to be there before 7.30 by 7pm to guarantee getting in. I’ll be there from just before 7pm and we’ve got a table reserved, so there’s a focal point, but we’ll just be hanging out in the bar. Look for PJ Harvey, we shall be beneath her.

Come along, meet some friendly locals, enjoy some great comedy. The support acts are Paul Myrehaug, Andrew West and Andrew Watts.

See you there!

WhampArt: Guided tour at Camden Arts Centre

STOP PRESS: This event is now full. If you’d like to go on the waiting list then by all means contact me, and leave a mobile number.

We’re a cultured bunch in West Hampstead, right? We know our Matisse from our Magritte, our Monet from our Manet, and even our Munch from our Munk if we’re very cutting edge.

So it’s time to push the boat out a little. Time to expand those artistic horizons. All you need to do is come along to #whampart at the Camden Arts Centre on the evening of Wednesday, February 6th.

This is our first collaboration with the Camden Arts Centre (but hopefully not last, so behave yourselves!). We’re getting a special guided tour of the Film in Space exhibition, and then we can retire to the rather nice café/bar for some wine and incredibly intellectual discussions about what we’ve seen. Or we might talk about the weather or kittens or US foreign policy in Obama’s second term.

Here’s a bit about the exhibition from the Camden Arts Centre’s website:

Film in Space is a group exhibition selected by British artist-filmmaker Guy Sherwin. The exhibition focuses on expanded cinema, a film movement which came to prominence in Britain in the early 1970s, at the time Sherwin started making films. The movement was closely associated with the London Filmmakers’ Co-operative, an organisation set up in 1966 by artist-filmmakers to exhibit and produce experimental film work which challenged mainstream cinema. Sherwin worked at the LFMC in its early years and was highly influenced by his experience. For Camden Arts Centre he has selected a number of key works from this period and is showing them along with works by younger artists who are continuing to experiment with the versatility of analogue media, as well as others who have started to take on board the advent of digital technologies. Throughout the exhibition there is an emphasis on film, light, and sound as material to be constantly re-worked, manipulated and experimented with.

I’ve seen the exhibition and it’s interesting but I think having the guided tour will really make it much more accessible. So even if you’re not sure that 1970s expanded cinema is your sort of thing, why not come along and learn a bit more about it. The Camden Arts Centre is such a great local resource but it’s underused by locals; here’s an opportunity to get to know it.

Sounds great! What do I do now?
We’ll need to meet in the reception area at 7.30pm promptly on Wednesday February 6th. The tour will be about 30 minutes and then we’ll head to the bar, which stays open until about 9pm.

We have 15 places and you’ll need to reserve your spot. It’s going to be first-come/first-served. As always, if you sign up then please don’t pull out at the last minute. It might be hard to get late replacements, and it’s not fair on the Arts Centre staff who are doing this especially for us.

To book your place you must with your name and mobile number. Max 2 places per person.

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Bookshop event January 22nd

Whampbooks is back on January 22nd.

If you’re not familiar with this particular event, it’s really very simple. The lovely people at West End Lane Books open their doors for the evening for a night of bargains, booze and books. There’s 20% off all stock, (free) wine for all, and a chance to meet and chat with some lovely locals.

The fun kicks off at 7.30pm, but it’s all very informal. Come along when you can, there’s no ticketing or pre-booking or anything. I think this will be our fourth book event, and they’ve all been great fun. See you there!

Books galore – just needs you!

Books, bbqs, Batman: 2012 whampevents

Another year, and lots more West Hampstead locals have met each other at the various events we’ve organised. It very much feels that this year, the events have moved well beyond a collection of tweeters and have become more – dare I say it – mainstream. And that’s no bad thing at all.

Way back in January, we held Whampgather VIII at The Priory Tavern. More than 100 people turned up, making it the biggest yet. We had live music for the first time (though we perhaps should have done a soundcheck) but best of all we raised more than £500 for The Winch through the raffle. The bar had been set high for future events.

We followed up immediately with the second bookshop “lock-in” at West End Lane Books. On a cold night, a literary crowd of locals turned up for some free wine, discounts and lively conversation. We ran the night again in August with quite a lot more people and there should be another one coming up in the New Year.

In March, whampreview turned its attention to Little Bay. This was the biggest headache whampreview I’d attempted with 32 of us taking over the conservatory of the Belsize Road restaurant. Lots of new people came along, which is always great to see. Once we’d got used to having red pepper sauce served with everything, the evening became very enjoyable indeed.

April saw 24 of us at Guglee on West End Lane, only in its third month of operating. Sachin and his staff looked after us extremely well and the Sev Puri Chat provided quite the ice breaker. If you haven’t tried them yet, i’ll just say that you need to tackle them in one mouthful.

If anyone needed some good ice breakers it was the 30 lovewhampers who bravely signed up to the first ever singles night, organised by Katie. After being carefully matched up based on complex algorithms and a rigorous questionnaire (cough), our 15 couples headed off to various local restaurants to see if love was in the air. It wasn’t for most, but there were a couple of couples who didn’t return – and at least one walk of shame the next morning. So, that’s a result right? Think we might be doing this again in 2013.

The final whampreview before the summer break was our poshest yet. Just 16 of us trotted down Abbey Road to One Blenheim Terrace. Lots of new faces again, and some excellent food if slightly slow service.

In June we held the summer #whampgather. In keeping with previous years, this was a daytime family-friendly affair that rode on the coattails of the Team Sunday Lunch adventures earlier in the year. Fifty of us filled up the front of the pub to enjoy the various roast offerings of the revamped pub. There was some torrential rain that lunchtime, so many new people had to introduce themselves while pretending they liked looking like drowned rats.

The awful weather in the first part of the summer meant we feared the worst for the second WHampBBQ. In 2011, we’d ended up choosing the hottest day of the year. That seemed like a distant hope in 2012. Yet, astonishingly. the Gods of the Grill shined down on us and in late July more than 60 people descended on Chris’s lovely flat on a warm sunny Sunday for more meat, salad and Pimms action than NW6 has seen since.. well, since the same time last year.

We actually held two events in July as it was our first Whampfilm night at the Odeon in Swiss Cottage. We managed to get 27 tickets for the opening night of the Dark Knight Rises at the Imax screen (and get a glass of wine thrown into the bargain). There were a few logistical problems, which we were able to learn from when we had the second film night for Skyfall in October.
It wasn’t technically a whampevent, but I was heavily involved in promoting yet another event in July when the Friends of Fortune Green held their first ever outdoor film screening. This had been postponed a couple of times already due to the weather, but finally a large crowd of around 200 people came to watch Breaking Away and get bitten to smithereens by mosquitoes. A second screening was held in late September and the FoFG hopes to get this up and running again in 2013.

Aside from the Bond night, October was quiet, but we were saving ourselves for November. First up was Whampsushi at Feng Sushi. This was a whampreview with a difference as we took over the whole restaurant for a special set menu devised by co-founder and managing director Silla Bjerrum. Silla was also on hand to give us some sushi demonstrations. Given all the clamouring there’s been over recent years for sushi events, this had proved a surprisingly hard sell, but the night itself was really excellent – both the food and atmosphere lived up to billing. It was also sadly the first time we had no-shows for a whampreview – hopefully the last, as it messes up table arrangements, deprives people of a place, and screws the restaurant.

A week later was the biggest event of the year. No, not the Olympics. No, not the Jubilee. No, not the Leveson enquiry. Bigger than all of those. Whampgather X. We changed locations (we’re running out of large enough pubs) and took over The Alliance for the night. In total, 160 people turned up – lots and lots of new people alongside the familiar faces. It was a great night, and lovely to see DJ Stoney providing the music. He had been at the very first whampgather back in October 2009, when I’d thought that perhaps if it went well I might do a second.

Christmas drinks were relatively informal again this year, but it was nice to raise a glass with all those who turned up.

Twelve months of events – thank you to everyone who came along to any of them. A special thank you to my able helpers: particularly Tom, Mark, Nicky, Lauren, Jen, Brad and Katie. Thank you also to all the businesses who have donated raffle prizes or worked with us to offer good deals at events. It’s all much appreciated and I hope that locals reciprocate with their custom.

If you’ve never been to a whampevent but think that you might want to meet some friendly locals, then do sign up. They sell out quickly, and the restaurant events are always oversubscribed so don’t be disheartened if it takes a couple of attempts to come along to one. In 2013 I’m going to try and organise more whampreviews, there’s a monthly film club starting very soon, lovewhamp should return, and of course Whampgather XI is already looming on the horizon!

I’m going to give the last word to @tommyjames, who tweeted the morning after Whampgather X: “I went along to #whampgather on my own, took a risk and made some friends.”

That’s what it’s all about.

See you next year.

Whampgather X – November 15th

Three years ago, I walked, somewhat nervously, up West End Lane to the first whampgather. The turnout was better than I’d expected. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, I’d do a second one.

This November, you are all invited to the TENTH whampgather. Yes, we’ve made it to double figures.

[UPDATE: We’re sold out, but there’s a waiting list and as we always have dropouts, I strongly suggest putting your name down if you’d like to come – scroll to the bottom for the link.]

Where: The Alliance, Mill Lane
When: November 15th, from 7.15pm to late (late licence)
Cost: free (but you’ll need a ticket – scroll down for the ticket link)

Autumn is well and truly on us. It’s time to dust off any cobwebs left over from Halloween, get warm and cosy with your neighbours, and get your whampgroove on at what promises to be the biggest whampgather of them all. We have exclusive use of The Alliance, and the landlord Michael is promising us a great night.

DJ Stoney will be manning the decks as only he can; the raffle is back raising money for The Winch (we made £500 last time); and there are special offers on beer and wine. The Alliance also has a good food menu, so why not come early and get dinner there too.

Finally, X really does mark the spot – in the week running up to Whampgather there will be a Treasure Hunt competition with a special prize on the night. Keep an eye on the website for more details nearer the time.

If you’re not familiar with the whole #whampgather thing, then read this overview. In a nutshell, it’s a big party open to all ages, and is an amazingly good way to meet some locals. Put it this way – we wouldn’t be having a tenth one if the previous nine hadn’t been all types of brilliant.

The Alliance is a new whampgather venue for us. It’s a proper local pub that frankly more people should be checking out, and having had two gathers down at the southern edge of West Hampstead, it’s time to turn our sights to the northern reaches.

Getting there: Kilburn tube is slightly nearer than West Hampstead tube (10 mins vs. 15 mins), and the C11 stops 20 seconds away. It is NOT hard to get to!

Whampgather is FREE, but because we have exclusive hire of the pub, you will need a ticket. Register below (or you can go to the Eventbrite page)

Opening night Skyfall tickets – Bond is back

It’s the most successful film franchise of all time (probably, I have no idea – but it’s got to be a frontrunner, right?). Now Bond is back with Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007.

Skyfall opens in the UK on October 26th and you can get to the 19.30 Imax screening that very night at the Swiss Cottage Odeon with our second #whamppremiere event.

Tickets are £22, which gets you a premier seat (all sold out for this first night screening – so this is your only chance), and a free specially designed “M” vodka cocktail just for us (house wine/bottled beer available).

We have just 30 tickets available. Those of you who came to the Dark Knight screening will be pleased to know we’ve ironed out the kinks in the process. Now you pay us directly, so you don’t have to collect your tickets in advance or pay separately at the bar.

To reserve your space, asap. It’s first come/first served. Maximum 2 tickets per person (do say whether you want 1 or 2). I’ll send you payment details.

Cancellation policy: please don’t cancel.

Books, booze and bargains

Next Thursday, the 16th, is the third of our occasional #whampbooks events with the marvellous West End Lane Books.

The premise is simple: you come to the bookshop from 7.30pm. You can chat to some lovely locals, you can drink some (free) wine, browse the shelves, and if you want to buy anything then you’ll get a 20% discount. Yes, free wine AND 20% off books. Come on.

No tickets, no pre-booking, just turn up. The event usually winds up aroud 9 – 9.30pm.

Look forward to seeing you there.

BBQ is scorcher once again

Last year’s BBQ turned out to be on the hottest day of the year. After the crappy last couple of months, it was almost too good to believe the predictions for a warm sunny day for the second edition of Secret BBQ last Sunday.

Yet the forecast was right and some 65 of us sprawled across Chris’s back garden last Sunday basking in the warm sun.

There are photos of lots of you here. Thanks to Mark for his “official photographer” duties.

Massive thanks again to Chris for throwing open his flat to all of us (and for having the excellent idea of buying individual ice creams!). See you all in 2013.

Don’t forget to use your Spiga prosecco vouchers either!

Photos all (c) Mark Townsend apart from the top photo

Secret BBQ returns in 2012

Last year, Chris generously volunteered to host a barbecue in his flat for whampers. It was a massive success (see pics), so we’re doing it again.

Why “secret”? We’ll reveal the exact location the day before to those of you who sign up (Chris isn’t a big fan of posting his address all over the internet and I don’t blame him). Rest assured, it’s within a 10 minute walk of West Hampstead tube station.

The date: from 2pm on July 22nd.

How it works: we provide all the food. Yes. All the food, the meat, the veggies the salad, soft drinks and all the ice for your beers. Last year we asked people for a donation to cover the cost, bit it didn’t quite work. So this year, we’re asking for £6.50 upfront (this includes the eventbrite fee). Doing it this way also helps us get a better idea of numbers. If we make any profit we’ll donate it to The Winch (the Swiss Cottage youth charity I regularly raise money for).

If you want to guarantee that The Winch gets some cash, there’s a £10 ticket option, from which £3.50 goes straight to them. Absolutely no obligation to do this, and if you’d rather give more or less, or donate anonymously then there’ll be a donation tin on the day.

You can buy tickets here via PayPal, or visit the BBQ event page.

When you get your ticket, we’ll need your mobile number (so we can tell you where it is), and please tell us of any dietary requirements. If you’ve got kids under five, bring ’em along for free (but please let us know in advance).

What else? You’ll just need to bring something to drink, some suncream (there was an “incident” last time – the hottest day of the year – she knows who I’m talking about), and your best party shirt/dress. Couldn’t be simpler. Oh, and no stilettos (wood floor you see).

Obviously, if you get a ticket, please do actually turn up. Imagine poor Chris sitting there that evening surrounded by bridge rolls and uneaten burgers!

Oh, and if it rains, there’s just about enough room to squeeze everyone inside and it will go ahead as planned. But it won’t rain. Definitely not.

See you there!

Special offer: Dark Knight Rises local premiere

Don your cape, check your batarangs, get into your batmobile and speed through the mean streets of Gotham to get to the Swiss Cottage Odeon on July 20th for opening night of the Dark Knight Rises.


Photo via @tomrye (edited by @LollyGee)

Thanks to the nice people at the Odeon, we’ve got special priority booking for the IMAX screening on the film’s opening night. For £20 you’ll get a top-end “club” seat and a free glass of wine from the Ambar’s rather good (that’s me saying that, not them) selection. This screening will sell out once it goes on general release, so here’s a chance to bag yourself a prime spot for the third and final film in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale version of the caped crusader story. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy also star in this dark tale of the Dark Knight, along with Anne Hathaway in a leather catsuit. Ahem.

It’s also our first crack at a film-oriented get together, in line with the new local film listings page that appears every week written by West Hampstead’s answer to Mark Kermode, @NxNW6. So come and mingle before the film starts over a glass of something, then settle into your extremley comfortable seat as the Bat does his thing on the big screen.

There are just 17 spots available  27 spots available. To register you need to , the cinema will then get in touch with you directly to arrange payment. This is first-come first served, and there’s a max of 2 tickets per person.

I think this should be a great event, and as a fan of these latest Batman films I’m pretty excited. I hope lots of you feel the same. If you’re not sure.. here are not one but TWO trailers to convince you!

Summer sun for Whampgrill

We managed to find the short sunny window of this fairly dismal summer for the Secret BBQ on Sunday. Just over 50 people turned up to a flat on the edges of West Hampstead on the hottest day of the year so far.

Chris very kindly opened up his house to a whole bunch of people he didn’t know but all of whom left as friends.

Some astute shopping and some industrial-scale grilling meant that no-one went hungry and definitely no-one was thirsty as the monster Pimms tureen was emptied as fast as it was filled. Same time next year?

Here are a few photos of the day taken by Michael. You can see the full slideshow here.

Private Space holds private style party for locals

On Thursday evening, 30 West Hampstead fashionistas descended on The Private Space on Mill Lane for Whampstyle – an evening of fashion, food and free wine!

After the all-important mingling and sampling of some delicious food provided by West End Lane’s newest restaurant Ladudu, we gathered round to hear stylist Zahide Ozkardesler discuss this season’s trends (clashing colours seemed to feature), accessorising (it’s all about belts), and understanding your colours (I confess I got a bit lost here).

Then Christian Croce, owner of The Private Space, gave some top simple hair tips for accentuating your look and a couple of brave volunteers were draped in clothes from the rack and quickly recoiffed before our very eyes.

There was a bit more mingling and we all polished off Bake-a-boo‘s colour-coordinated cupcakes before everyone melted off into the night. It was great to see some familiar faces and plenty of new arrivals both to the area and to whampevents. Big thanks also to The Social Metre

The next major event is the Secret BBQ on June 26th. It’s been filling up steadily so don’t leave it too late to put your name down.

Put a Shhhh… rimp on the barbie

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the Secret BBQ on the calendar. What gives?

A very generous whamper – Chris – has volunteered to host a barbecue after being converted to the delights of the whamp community at a whampreview a while back. So, between the two of us, we’re bringing you #whampgrill!

And the secret? We’ll reveal the exact location the day before to those of you who sign up (Chris isn’t a big fan of posting his address all over the internet and I don’t blame him). Rest assured, it’s within a 10 minute walk of West Hampstead tube station.

The date: from 2pm on June 26th.
The exciting bit: you don’t have to bring your own food – we’ll provide all the food – including non-meat things for the non-meat eaters. All you need to bring is something to drink. We’d also really like it if you brought a donation to help us cover our costs. Any extra money we make will go to The Winch, so do feel free to make generous donations.

Sounds good, right? A chance to make some new local friends, catch up with those you’ve already made, and enjoy some lovely grilled food in the rain (it won’t rain).

Now what? Given that it’s a party in his flat and his flat isn’t infinitely large, we are going to ask you to sign up for it so we can keep track of numbers – we can be a bit flexible but we’re expecting at least 40. If it looks like getting full, we’ll let you know so hopefully no-one misses out. Mail or tweet me if you’d like to come (with the number of any additional guests), with dietary requirements (coeliacs may need to bring their own bread rolls) and a mobile number so we can text you the location the day before.

Please say you’ll come if you actually plan to turn up, rather than just thinking “I’ll go unless a better offer comes along.” Sorry to get all pernickety, but just imagine poor Chris sitting there that evening surrounded by bridge rolls and uneaten burgers! Exactly. If you sign up and DO get a better offer/can’t come then please let us know asap. WHampers are invariably a well-brought up bunch, so doubt this will be a problem.

Oh, and if it rains, Chris assures me that he has enough room inside to cope and it will go ahead as planned. But it won’t rain. Definitely not.

See you there!

Sign up now for Whampstyle on May 26th

Early spring sunshine has already got locals busting out their summer fashions. But are you up to date with this season’s trends, and do you know how to tailor your look to best suit your personal style? The right clothes need the right hair – perhaps you’re looking for some top tips of how to style your hair at home so you can change your image quickly for those summer parties.

Well, it’s a good thing that I’ve teamed up with The Private Space on Mill Lane to offer an evening  that’s going to help you with all this. Due to the size constraints, places are limited for this free event, so we’re asking you to sign up for it rather than just drop by.

The evening on Thursday May 26th will kick off at 7.30pm with wine and canapés (free of course). Then Zahide Ozkardesler, London College of Fashion graduate, professional stylist and image consultant, will talk about the hottest summer looks and how to accessorize. Christian Croce, owner of The Private Space, will then offer some top hair tips to match the styles on show. There’ll be plenty more time to mingle with fellow West Hampstead fashionistas, pick up some more tips from the professionals, have another drink, and take advantage of discounts on The Private Space’s products and services.

There are strictly limited places for this event, so please sign up asap (this is a first come-first served event, unlike #whampreview for example where names are drawn from a hat). Please either tweet or e-mail me or mail The Private Space directly at to secure your place – and of course you can bring your friends along, just let us know how many are going to turn up.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

UPDATE: This event is now full. I’m also delighted to say that the food will be provided by Bake-a-Boo and West End Lane’s newest restaurant Ladudu.

West Hampstead bookshop “lock-in” success

Last night saw an experiment in West Hampstead. West End Lane Books threw its doors open from 9 to 10pm to @WHampstead twitter followers (and a few others!). There was wine, there was chat, there was 15 percent off everything. A dozen or so #whampers decided that the election debate on TV wasn’t enough of a lure (or recorded it) and getting to know a few fellow locals was a far better option.

It was great to see a mix of familiar faces such as @bubela, @TheWetFishCafe and @SamWong1 along with some first-time whampeventers including @designbyday, @jenny23232323 and @tractorgirlie.

Photo by @designbyday. Original here

Plenty of books were bought (lets not forget that if we want to keep our independent bookshops we do, at least occasionally, have to buy books from them and not Amazon), a reasonable amount of wine was drunk, and hopefully everyone had a good time!

Other bookshop / @WHampstead tie-ins are being mooted, so keep your eyes peeled and follow the #whampbooks hashtag. The bookshop also organises lots of its own events.

Whamplunch on track at The Railway

It was great to see some new faces at #whamplunch today. Alongside #whamp regulars @DJStoney and @mayfield22, we welcomed @Ghoul_of_London who hadn’t been put off by his experience at Le Petit Coin, @kerrypolka and @Frangelina as well as non-tweeting Marcia – a long-time West Hampstead resident – who used to be an active member of the now defunct CityNeighbours forum.

The Railway proved more than capable of meeting our lunch needs, the standard pub menu was good value for money, and Danny the new(ish) manager made a real effort to make sure we were looked after. Conversation revolved around feral squirrels, Shakespeare’s history plays, the origins of Queens Park, the best local Iranian food, and whether the Neverending Story was fundamentally misnamed.

Next up… #whamptea at Bake-a-boo. More on that later…

Whampcarol success despite the cold

Tuesday night was #whampcarol night. Clear skies meant a cold night and, with the bridge still closed due to the flooding, West End Lane was eerily quiet with minimal traffic and surprisingly few pedestrians.

Undetterred, the band (the magnificent @eastlondonbrass) arrived and together with @helenstone, @gitfinger and my fellow mince-pie maker @SarahReardon, we set up our stall. Even before we’d started playing, people were generously giving up their small change to the two charities: The Winch and the band itself, which works with kids in east London.

As the cold fingers worked their way through Christmas classics there was a regular stream of donations.

The Holly & The Ivy, “live” from West End Lane (thanks to @gitfinger).
Listen! We had both sides of the road covered so no-one could miss us and despite the quiet evening the hit-rate was high. A small cheer went up when the first £5 note was pushed into the collecting tin, but it wasn’t to be the only one. After almost 90 minutes playing and with the temperature dropping we decided enough was enough and we’d leave the people of West End Lane in peace. We hurried to the Alice House to defrost, taking our table and of course instruments in with us. One table started chatting to us and suddenly we were offered £60 to play two carols right there. The bar manager very graciously agreed we could, and our pot was £60 bigger. Thank you very much indeed to that generous man. We raised just shy of £250, which was outstanding for such a quiet evening. Already there was talk as to how we could make next year’s bigger and better. Thank you to everyone who took part, and especially to all the people who gave money. We really appreciate it.

Photos courtesy of @gitfinger and @helenstone