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Survive a Summer of Weddings with 5 Confetti-fabulous Titles!

Bride to be or still dreaming of your big day, we have the perfect summer read to ensure that you start this wedding season in style. 

 

For the Maid of Honour, with the pressure to perform…

No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham by Brigid Coady will lighten the responsibility of the role with handfuls of humour!

No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham

When Edie Dickens reluctantly agrees to the role of maid of honour, cynical of love, she is forced to put on a smile. However, alongside pulling off the Hen party of the year, complete with penis deely boppers, she soon finds herself confronted by the ghosts of Weddings Past, Present and Future every Friday night until the day of the wedding!  Edie is forced to learn from her mistakes – but it’s not all bad when she enlists the help of a hunky new man.

Pop open the Champagne and indulge in this ultimate girly rom com!

http://hyperurl.co/qiqdri

 

 

 

Flying solo this season? Don’t let your single girl status leave you dancing on the sidelines this summer … make your plus one a lucky number this season.

Between bubbles and blinis dare to share a taste of romance, with Teresa F. Morgan’s debut rom com Plus One is a Lucky Number.

Plus one is a lucky numberSophie lands herself the role of a bridesmaid, but without a date she’s searching for a suitable man to match the dress code. With the best man being none other than the ex she would rather forget, Sophie needs a favour and she needs it fast!

She stumbles across her dreamy co-worker Adam Reid, who luckily for Sophie owes their mutual friend big time… and his gorgeousness certainly meets her requirements.

Join Sophie on the sunny shores of Cornwall and fall for the ultimate wedding favour…

 http://smarturl.it/plusone

 

 

 

Bridezillas – are you drowning in confusion and confetti? Samantha Birch comes to the rescue with The High-Street Bride’s Guide – the only wedding planner you need!

High Street Brides

You can style a reception so stunning your guests won’t believe you didn’t hire an A-list planner.

And you can sprinkle the day with personal touches that make everyone feel like you gave them special attention before they even got there. Without spending a house deposit on it. Honest.

Samantha Birch has written for GLAMOUR, Brides, You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride. She knows a thing or two about planning a wedding on a budget, how much you can expect to pay for everything and where to go to get it for less. And she’s put it all down here. 

‘Written not only for Brides but for anyone who may be involved in wedding planning’ (Bride Hour)

http://smarturl.it/highstbride

 

 

Secure your invite to the most talked about wedding of the summer…

An awkward ex-boyfriend, a delicious best man and an out of bounds bedroom- it’s all part of the magic of the big day with Charlotte Phillips’ Meet Me at the Honeymoon Suite.

Meet Me at the Honeymoon SuiteAmy lands her dream job as Wedding and Events Manager at exclusive boutique hotel, The Lavington. All she needs to do is pull off her first big wedding weekend … but without an old flame there is no spark, and unfortunately the groom turns out to be her own supposedly marriage-phobic ex. Then again, it’s not all bad as his best man is more than willing to help with Amy’s very own happy ever after.

Will temptation and tasty treats prove too much for Amy? (I’m not talking about the wedding cake.)  

 

 

http://amzn.to/1RQzX6B

 

 

Skip the starter and small talk – move straight to the main course with Nancy Holland’s debut Owed: One Wedding Night.

Owed-OneWeddingNightTo save her family business, determined Madison Ellsworth must turn to Jake Carlyle, her ex- lover and the man she left standing at the altar.

Jake agrees to help Madison – but only if he gets what he’s owed. His wedding night.

However, they soon learn that games played in the boardroom will inevitably spill over into the bedroom!

One game certainly leads to another…

 amzn.to/1F5PHLv

NADIA OSIPOVA’S HIDDEN LONDON: PART 2

It’s time for part two of Nadia’s tour of hidden London – and today we are traversing the city in epic style. Read on to follow our travels, but don’t forget – this is only half the story; download SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW to get the rest! 

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Hello! Me again. Has anyone managed to see any of my ‘secret’ London? I’d absolutely love to hear about it if you have! Please tweet your stories, pictures or other Hidden London suggestions at @HarperImpulse or share with us on Facebook!

And without further ado, the exciting climax of Nadia Osipova’s Hidden London!

  1. The Palace of Westminster is pretty iconic around the world – even if some Londoners don’t even know it’s called that. It’s more commonly known, of course, as the Houses of Parliament, which has met there since the thirteenth century. The Palace – the largest in the UK – has eight bars, six restaurants, 1,000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, a hair salon and a rifle shooting range (as you do). There’s also been a long-held myth that nobody is permitted to die within the grounds of the Palace (presumably if you show up looking a bit peaky they rush you off in an ambulance sharpish). This has probably come from the fact that as the Palace is (officially if not in practice) a royal residence, so anyone who dies there should receive a costly state funeral. But the absolute best thing about the Palace of Westminster is that the lifts have, to this day, hooks inside them for hanging up your sword. In fact, floor markings in the Commons Chamber have been designed to be a safe two sword lengths apart. You know, just in case the debate starts getting too hot.
  1. The Underground map has got to be one of the most iconic London images of all time. There are about 270 stations on the network – but there are also an additional 40 lost or ‘ghost stations’. These points were usually closed due to poor user numbers – now their street-level facades are repurposed into branches of All Bar Ones, or Pizza Express, but the subterranean platforms and tunnels remain… If you know when and what, you can catch glimpses of the old platforms from your tube windows – sometimes they’re still tiled, the station name proudly emblazoned. The most famous and least-dead ghost station is Aldwych, closed in the 90s due to chronic under-use, but still used today whenever TV or film companies need an archetypical “tube platform”. These quaint little pieces of history may not be around for much longer, though; Transport for London is actively seeking investors to turn several former stations into bars, clubs and restaurants. Try and grab a peek of them in their shabby, abandoned glory before that happens (and after it does, go there for cocktails, naturally).
  1. Fans of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan series will probably know that the Darlings, like Barrie himself, lived around Kensington Gardens and this is precisely why Barrie chose to place the bronze statue of Peter he’d had commissioned there. The statue was erected in secret one night in 1912, appearing as if by magic to delight the children on May Day morning. Not everyone was feeling it though. Questions were asked in the House of Commons about whether an author should be permitted to promote his work by raising a statue of his main character in the middle of a public park! The children, however, loved it, and kiddies are seen climbing up the base of fairies and woodland creatures to get closer to the boy that never grew up. Nowadays they can even use their smartphones to scan a barcode on the nearby plaque and get a personalised call back from Peter Pan himself! In time, all representations of Peter moulded to the statue’s version, and there are copies of it in cities across the world.
  1. Go to the Embankment and crane your neck to check out Cleopatra’s Needle. It’s nearly 3,500 years old and its twin can be found in New York City. Pillaged from Luxor, Egypt and brought to London at great expense, the Needle was re-erected in 1878. Entombed in the pedestal there is said to be a time-capsule that contains (among other things) cigars, a razor, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a bus timetable, copies of 10 daily newspapers, and pictures of 12 “English beauties of the day”. The ‘Cleopatra’ part is a complete misnomer, as the monolith was already a thousand years old by the time she was born. And, of course, like any Egyptian artefact worth its salt, the needle is said to be cursed – at the very least it was the first monument in London to be hit by an air-raid during World War I. While you’re there, also spare a thought for the two bronze sphinxes who flank the monolith. They were installed ‘backwards’, so they are gazing at the needle rather than guarding it, rumour has it because Queen Victoria found that way round more aesthetically pleasing.
  1. While you’re checking out Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (because, come on, you have to check out the Globe), don’t forget to take a peek at the Ferryman’s Seat. Back in the day there was only London Bridge in use if you needed to get from South to North London on foot. Not that convenient. So, the taxi drivers of their day, the ferrymen, lined up on the shores to take punters from one bank to the other. The South was where all the fun was – the brothels and the theatres – and often ferrymen would be asked to wait around whilst their fares partook of the Southwark delights. Men waiting around needed seats. And that’s what this is, an ancient granite ‘bench’ where a hard-working ferryman could rest his weary bones after a hard row across the sludgy Thames. It’s the last one left in London. I wouldn’t try to sit on it.
  1. Take a trip east, to EC4, half-way between London and Tower Bridges, and there – right in the middle of the city – you’ll find the atmospheric ruins of an ancient church, St Dunstan-in-the-East. Originally built by the Normans around 1100, the church was already old when it was damaged in the Great Fire of 1666. Like most of London it was patched up with the help of Sir Christopher Wren and managed to hobble on until it had to be shored up again in the early 19th Then in 1941 the church was severely damaged during the Blitz – amusingly, it was the older part of the church that faired the better, with Wren’s tower and steeple surviving the impact whole. The decision was made not to re-build, and in the 70s the ruins were opened as a public garden, a beautiful bit of green seclusion in the very heart of the city.
  1. Go and visit Big Ben. I bet you’re thinking that sounds like the most touristy thing ever, and that I’m trying to catch you out, because of course you know that “Ben” is the great bell and NOT the tower itself (that’s the Elizabeth Tower). But did you know that guided tours are free and available to all UK residents? The catch is that you have to write to your local MP and ask really, really nicely to get on the list – and with a maximum of 10,000 people allowed each year, that’s quite a long list…
  1. The seven noses of Soho. The hidden ears of Covent Garden. No, I’ve not gone insane. This is actually a thing – and legend has it they give good fortune to those who find them all! Scattered around Soho are seven sculptures of shnozzes (take the trail!). Back in the nineties there were originally over thirty-five of these installed by the artist Rick Buckley in reaction to the controversial introduction of CCTV (noses “under the noses” of the cameras – geddit?). The prank was not publicised and so urban myths grew up to explain the random noses. The nose inside the Admiralty Arch was said to have been created to mock Napoleon and that the nose would be tweaked by cavalry troopers from nearby Horse Guards Parade for luck when they passed through the arch. Fellow artist Tim Fishlock followed up by installing hidden ears around Covent Garden (“the walls have ears”…. geddit??). There are two that are reasonably easy to find on Floral Street, but most are still awaiting discovery…


Nadia Osipova’s ‘Hidden London’

NADIA OSIPOVA’S HIDDEN LONDON: PART 1

Today marks the publication of Erin Lawless’s brilliant new novel, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW! To celebrate, we have a guest blog from protagonist Nadia, who is going to guide you around her favourite hidden London spots – read on to discover more, and take a look at the interactive map!

(And don’t forget to start reading SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW, available now!)

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Hello! My name is Nadia Osipova, and I’m a Londonholic.

I’ve lived here my entire adult life, and I love it all: the tourists, the expensive, inauthentic food, the crowded pavements, the ‘minor delays’ on the tube… Haha, I’m joking (sort of) – but it is the truth that since the news of my potential deportation, I’ve been feeling extra fond of the Old Smoke. Because it’s true: “when a (wo)man is tired of London, (s)he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Or something like that.

But London isn’t all Buckingham Palace and museums and boating on the Serpentine (although that is very nice) – in my years here I’ve discovered that the ancient history has many secrets… And here are my Top 15!

1.       Embedded in a case set into the front of a rather shabby WHSmith on Cannon Street is the ‘London Stone’, the ignoble remnants of a once much larger limestone object, because… REASONS (that had already been forgotten by Tudor times).  But it is generally accepted that the Stone came to London with the Romans, although some prefer to believe it formed the altar in a temple founded by Brutus, the Trojan refugee who was the mythical founder of London a thousand years even before said Romans. Level three on the romantic scale is that London Stone is the stone from which the legendary King Arthur pulled the sword Excalibur. However it got here, legend has it the destruction of the stone is meant to herald the destruction of the city in turn!

2.       London is famous for its grisly histories and ghost stories – for a couple of quid you can join tours that will take you round all of the ghoulish sites. But they probably won’t include the tale of London’s weirdest ghost – the chicken ghost of Pond Square. As the story goes, Francis Bacon (yes, he who pops up in films about Elizabeth I quite a lot) was hurrying through a snowstorm in January 1626 when he suddenly came up with the theory of refrigeration (as you do). Eager to test out his idea he quickly purchased a chicken and slaughtered it before stuffing the carcass with handfuls of snow to see if it preserved the flesh. Wonderfully ironically, Bacon never lived to find out:  the day out in the snow meant he contracted a severe chill, which eventually became pneumonia and killed him a couple of days later. But it’s not Sir Bacon’s disgruntled spectre that haunts Pond Square – there have been frequent reports for hundreds of years of a ghostly chicken who appears from nowhere to race in circles around the square, frenzied and flapping, before disappearing as suddenly as it arrived. So if you’re at a loss around Highgate one evening, maybe go for a stroll around the Square, and see if the chicken appears for you…

3.       London may be an amazing city, but it’s seriously lacking in beaches, am I right? Well, if you traverse all the way to the western end of the Central Line you’ll find a reservoir complete with artificial beach nestled near Ruislip Woods. The old reservoir was renovated into a lido for swimming and boating in 1933 and although the pollution eventually got so bad that going in the water was banned, there is a paddling area and now the water is said to be considered again to be an “acceptable standard” (!) for inland bathing (should you be that desperate). Most people just enjoy the walk – it takes about an hour and a half to leisurely stroll around the water, but there’s also a charming miniature railway run entirely by volunteers to take you most of the way round the lido in style.

4.       Full of the typical grandeur and romance that the Victorians imbued with the dead, Highgate Cemetery is one of the world’s most famous graveyards, but most Londoners don’t even know where it is. The avenues of death entomb poets, painters, princes and paupers, including (most famously) Karl Marx, the novelist George Eliot, the man who invented the modern postal system and the one who invented cinematography! You can easily get lost in the winding paths, gazing at the gothic majesty of typically-dramatic 19th century tombs – but nowadays the cemetery is most famous for its supposed vampire. Girls looking for their Lestat/Edward/Salvatore brother, jump on the Northern Line now.

5.       People most often go to Crystal Palace to go to the, er, Crystal Palace, which is fair enough. But if full scale models of dinosaurs are your thing, don’t forget about Crystal Palace Park itself, an old Victorian pleasure ground. A delightfully random set up with one lake where you can boat and one where you can fish (and never the two shall meet), sculptures of extinct animals (the Bromley council website describes them as, tongue firmly in cheek, “the Victorians’ answer to Jurassic Park” – in very unVictorian fashion, bring your smart phone to access a free audio tour), a landscaped maze and a small zoo (if you prefer your animals not yet extinct).

6.       If you head as north as North London gets, you’ll arrive in Enfield, where the ancient Plantagenet kings had a hunting ground. Hidden away in the parkland that now covers the area is an island surrounded by a man-made moat, known since time immemorial as “Camlet Moat”.  Archaeological digs have unearthed that there used to be a substantial castle on the site, already established by the time the Romans were here. Unsurprisingly, Camlet Moat is a centre for spiritualists and Druidic activity and many believe that this was the site of the legendary Camelot. A wraith-like “grail maiden” is meant to appear to the worthy! Whatever your thoughts on King Arthur, the walk through the park and around the island is a magical way to spend a loose afternoon.

7.       You can’t help but notice the Windmill International – its sign is pretty unsubtle. It was once known as the Windmill Theatre and remains best known to this day for the introduction of nude tableaux vivants in the 1930s. Before the introduction of a little nudity the club was haemorrhaging money – people really weren’t feeling variety shows anymore – and so the owners eventually decided to take a leaf out of the Moulin Rogue’s playbook and brought in the ladies. However, to get past the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship, the girls had to remain completely stock-still, as if classical statues (as that was their argument – how could nude statues be morally objectionable?). Cheeky soldiers on leave used to bring in mice or spiders in their pockets and throw them onto the stage in the hopes that the girl would scream and run around a bit, but the ‘Windmill Girls’ were famously stoic. So was the theatre itself. “We Never Closed” they claim proudly, even now; performances at the Windmill continued even at the height of the Blitz. Today (after a brief stint as a cinema/casino), the Windmill is now a pretty standard table-dancing club. Still, it’s nice to celebrate the history of the British appreciation of a nice pair of tits (even while being bombed by the Germans).

By now I bet your diary is pretty full of all the cool things you’re dying to check out! But THERE’S MORE! Check back tomorrow for numbers 8-15 in Nadia’s Hidden London!


Nadia Osipova’s ‘Hidden London’

BALLS TO SINGLES NIGHTS – STOP THE CLUSTER-DATING-HELL by Anonymous Dater

bad ping pong

It was the worst singles night in the history of mankind. I should know.

Listen, I will put up with pretty much anything in the name of trying to meet that elusive soulmate/Mr Right-now/someone who gets part of my name right and does not have really bad breath. I have, as recounted here, been to a night where I had to sniff smelly t-shirts potentially worn by my future beloved. On other occasions I have put up with milling around random bars whilst rather sinister ladies called Matchmakers forced me to talk to verbose men about football. That was called an anti-dating night, as it did not involve any speed dating. And for me, it was true, no dating happened. At all. I have even attempted to climb out a toilet window after turning up on a blind date, to find out my date was hogging the only doorway, which was almost as wide as he was. He may or may not have resembled his photo, in the way that that a small lamb resembles a five-tonne Bullock. With horns.

I am not afraid: to admit that I am single online; to date blindly; or to speed date. Hell, I’ve even been on holiday with all singles. There’s no way I am in denial. And my standards are so low, I don’t think even Usain Bolt could limbo under them.

But this singles night, it was a step too far.

It all seemed so innocent. Ping pong. Yes, a dating night based on playing your paramour at table tennis. What could possibly go awry? As you gazed across the pleasant green meadow of reinforced plastic, your future bride/groom would tap a little white orb of loveliness in your general direction. You would laugh coquettishly and then wave this dove of joy back, to wing its way into their heart.

The night was called ‘Balls to Dating’. A typical recent trend in singles nights is not only that they seem to have increasingly bizarre themes, but also to pretend they have nothing to do with dating, being single, or anything so embarrassing. But this night did, oh God, if only the flashbacks would stop.

I managed to persuade a friend to escort me to this doomed soirée. Only thing was, she wasn’t single, so I erm, had to pretend we were just going for an extra-sporty night out. I casually mentioned the singles side when we were almost there (a slightly dingy bar-entrance in Holborn), it was too late . . . and it all got so much worse.

As we approached the bar, and received our hand stamps, they should have just fixed a millstone to our necks and branded us lepers. We descended to the sweaty basement, to discover about 300 people crammed into a not-very-big space. We had just entered a scene from a bad high school movie. It didn’t help that the organisers, in the pursuit of cash, had clearly got the balance wrong, and there were roughly twice as many women as men (and they were hot women, very hot). Instead of joyfully embracing this, and doing little dances of delight, or pluming their feathers in joy, herds of males were clustered, petrified, plastering themselves around the walls and hunched at the bar, darting angry glances and carefully side-stepping any female contact.

It didn’t help that the organisers had decided to organise table tennis tournaments which did not involve couples competing, or even matching people together, but instead were highly individualistic competitions to knock each other out. In desperation we both decided to get horribly drunk and try to beat everyone at ping pong. We hit several men in some rather sensitive places (by accident, I stress). Though to be honest I got shoved out of the way by some other overly-competitive boys who seemed less keen on dating and more keen on trying to kill me. With a bat. This was not what I was expecting.

Clusters of feral women had taken to bunching in corners, behind protective protruding surfaces, and throwing ping pong balls at random mates from afar. Others were simply beached on benches. At one stage a small Italian took to stalking us around the room until we had to physically restrain him. At least he was making an effort.

As my friend pointed out the whole business of being single gets so much worse when you are all fenced off together and forced to dance to the rhythm, of the date-makers’ music. Which was way too loud. We are not all defined by being single – the fact we have not yet hooked up with the love of our lives is not something that somehow unites us or makes us the same bunch of losers.

Number of drinks bought for us: nil. Number of drinks we bought anyone: nil. We would have stood more chance of meeting a couple of guys if we had picked a pub, any random pub, and just gone out for a drink. At one stage I did manage to win us free drinks through a bit of pretty shit-hot dancing (what can I say? I rock).

Singles nights aren’t too bad, right? This was just a one- off right? It’ll all be ok, yeah?

No. It won’t. Don’t do it. I have conclusively decided that they are the devil’s work. If I ever think about going to another one just stop me and give me a good dressing down. Do anything else – proposition people on the tube, get drunk and go clubbing, talk to people in the street. Go on! Anything but this. We are not singles. We are human beings. Punch the air now and say it with me. For the sake of man(and woman) kind.

Things to do this Bank Holiday: Gypsy at the Savoy

It’s Easter. You’ve gouged yourself on chocolate, taken a customary walk, maybe popped into church to celebrate and to get you away from the chocolate… Now what to do on the Monday?

I’ve got just the (actual) ticket! Head to the Savoy. Not for an extortionate cocktail, or even tea, but for the Theatre. The Savoy theatre next to the famous hotel on the Strand is currently playing host to Gypsy! Staring Imelda Staunton (Prof Umbridge from Harry Potter) and Lara Pulver (‘The Woman’ from Sherlock).

Gypsy is loosely based on the Memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee the famous striptease artist and her mother the formidable Rose played by Imelda Staunton. It follows Gypsy Rose Lee AKA Baby Louise and her sister Baby June as they are pushed into Vaudeville act after Vaudeville act across America by their mother who is determined to make them ‘Stars’ to compensate for her own mother abandoning her as a child.

The Musical takes us along Louise’s journey, pushed to the side in favour of her sister at ‘Kiddie’ shows and then becoming the sole focus of all her mother’s ambitions once June has run away with a beautiful dancer to escape. It’s a musical about trust, love and motherhood as well as a warning for overly pushy mothers!

Gypsy also has some amazingly good songs, many of which are so much part of the everyday we have forgotten where they came from… the best examples of which are: Everything’s Coming Up Roses, and Let Me Entertain You (Better than the Robbie Williams version)

So, heave yourself off the sofa and head to the Savoy, and hey, why not grab some afternoon tea before the show? It’s a bank holiday after all!

– Helen

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