Romantic Restaurant Suggestions

With Valentine’s Day very nearly upon us you may be at that awkward stage of panic where you just don’t know where to take your other half for a romantic dinner for two. Luckily for you we have a few restaurants that are sure to stir some romance.

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Clos Maggiore

Voted London’s most romantic restaurant by Harden’s guide Clos Maggiore is the perfect place to treat your loved one to a slap up Valentine’s Day meal. Situated on Kings Street, this independent eatery oozes romance even before you step over the threshold, as you wind your way through Covent Garden’s cobbled streets. Once you are inside, however, things go up a gear as you are welcomed by truly spectacular décor. An intimate indoor courtyard is decked with abundant decorative branches, which really come into their own once they are in bloom during the early summer months and the glass roofs are opened. During the cooler months of the year mirrors are place around periphery of the room, and beautifully reflect the glow from a crackling log fire. The menu is classed as ‘Modern Europe’ and is inspired by the tastes and culinary traditions of France, with a sharp focus placed upon quality ingredients – plus an award winning wine list which boasts over 30 bottles by the glass.

Yi-Ban

This award winning Chinese restaurant is situated conveniently close to Woolwich, and boasts some spectacular views over Royal Albert Docks. The glass fronted building offers unobstructed views of the docks and beyond, perfect for an evening when the capital is awash with lights. You can choose to look out over the waters from inside, or in warmer weather on their outdoor balcony. You can choose from a vast array of various Dim sum, Seafood and other classics from Chinese cuisine such as Cantonese Honey Pork and ‘Kung Po’ chicken. Yi-Ban are also offering a special Valentine’s Day menu.

Petersham Nurseries

If you’re after somewhere a little more relaxed and rustic this is the place to go. Although it is located rather off the beaten track (for London standards), and has been lovingly been described as being a spacious, light and furnished shed, it’s the sort of place that would feel at home in Tuscany or the South of France. You’ll likely see the chef nipping to the beautiful and overgrown garden to collect some herbs, and their homemade lemonade is as much in demand as their wine is. Critics warn that prices for this relaxed and charming dining experience don’t come cheap, with produce being sourced directly from tiny organic shops all over Europe. However, it has a blissfully relaxed atmosphere that will put even the newest of couple’s first-date nerves at ease. For a cheaper, and potentially more imaginative alternative, you could go for tea and cake in the Teahouse – tea choices range from exotic fruit varieties to your traditional English breakfast.

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Help to Buy: What You Need To Know

House prices rising, symbolized by arrows with a house shape going up.

 

Sadly, it’s a well-known fact that in the current economic climate buying a house, especially if you’re a first time buyer, is a notoriously tricky business. However, if you’re struggling to save up for that mammoth deposit on top of the cost of living, there are avenues you can pursue in order to get your foot on the ladder. The Help to Buy home ownership scheme gives you financial help if you live in England and can’t afford to buy a home.

The Help to Buy equity loan

This loan is available to first time buyers, and home movers on new build homes up to the worth of £600,000. Be aware that you won’t be able to sub-let your home if you use this scheme. With a help to Buy equity loan you will have to contribute at least 5% of the property price as a deposit, the government will then give you a loan of up to 20% of the property’s price, you will then need a mortgage to cover the remaining 75% of the property’s worth.

The benefit to getting an equity loan from the government is that with a larger amount of money to put down, you’ll hopefully get a better mortgage rate from your particular lender.

So, what happens when you have to pay the equity loan back?

Thankfully, the equity loan is interest free for the first five years. However, from the sixth year, and every consequent year there after you have to pay an admin fee. This fee will begin at 1.75% of your loan, and increase every year by any increase in the Retail Prices Index plus and extra 1%.

A word of warning, these repayments are in addition to your mortgage repayments, and won’t be decreasing in size. So, over time the cost of the admin fee could become pretty expensive.

The equity loan will need to be repaid in full after 25 years, when your mortgage term finishes or when you sell your home – whichever happens first. You will repay the market value of the loan at the time, rather than a fixed cash amount. For example:

You take a 20% equity loan to buy a property worth £200,000, which will be £40,000. Then, when you sell the property, it’s worth £250,000. You will consequently have to repay £50,000 – this is 20% of the new value of your home, not the amount you borrowed. If the property had dropped in value, you’d pay less than you borrowed.

You can also choose to repay part of the loan early in chunks of either 10% or 20% of the total value.

Top 5 Tips for Packing When Moving House

It’s a well-known fact that moving house is up there as one of the most stressful situations an individual will ever go through. What’s more, it’s more than likely that the meteoric rise in stress levels will begin to take place months before the removal van pulls up outside. Living somewhere for years and years will, inevitably, result in an astounding accumulation of possessions, and it is commonly the thought of having to segregate and pack all those worldly belongings that sees the majority of us break out in a cold sweat. So, in order to prevent you from falling at the first hurdle follow these top 5 packing tips to make your move, relatively, stress free.

1)     Be selective

By this we mean that now is the perfect time to have that clear out you have been meaning to do for months, maybe even years. There will inevitably be a lot of junk hiding amongst your treasures so hiring a skip could be money well spent. You may also find that you have some perfectly good possessions that you just don’t need or want anymore, but other people will. If this is the case take a trip to the charity shop or attend a car boot sale – this way you manage to lighten the packing load and earn some money or help someone less fortunate out at the same time.

2)     Be strategic

Packing up the entire contents of a house can be a daunting, and sometimes overwhelming, thought. In order to stay on top of things pack each room one at a time. This way you set yourself more achievable challenges, and once a room is all packed and ready to go you will have the relief of knowing you are one step closer to your end goal.

3)     Be organised

It’s stressful enough moving as it is without adding extra niggles which could of easily been avoided with a bit of forward thinking. Make sure you order plenty of boxes way ahead of time, so when it does come round to packing it is all there waiting for you – and you won’t have the hassle of not having enough storage.  Ensure that the boxes you do order are strong, and designed for the job at hand, otherwise there could be a few nasty accidents.

4)     Be sure to label everything

There is nothing worse when you move home than looking for the essentials such as clothes or kitchen utensils to find you have no clue where they are. Be sure to label each box with exactly what’s in there to minimise stress, and make unpacking that little bit easier.

5)     Be practical

In a haze of industrial tape and cardboard boxes it may be quite easy to lose your head, but adopting a practical approach can save a lot of drama and hiccups along the way. Remember to pack important documents, as well as necessities you may need to access quickly, clearly labelled and separately from your other items. Pack fragile items on their own and with plenty of padding to avoid breakages, tears, and lots of cleaning up. Also, as tempting as it may be to save room, don’t over pack your boxes. This will minimise injuries and the chance of the boxes splitting; revealing all your worldly goods to your new neighbours.

The Summer of Music in London

Hard Rock Calling 29th and 30th of June

With The Boss headlining this weekend shindig at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the 150 000+ spectators will certainly not be left  where the Glory Days are. This will be the second time that Springsteen has headlined Hard Rock Calling after an unforgettable performance in 2009. Over 50 years he has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide, whilst maintaining his blue-collar accessibility and fantastic live show. The festival also plays host to the legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon, as well as other acts including Kasabian, Paul Weller and the Klaxons.

London Music Festival

British Summer Time Hyde Park 5th-14th of July

Taking place over 10 days and 2 weekends in Hyde Park , this brand new event in the heart of central London features some of the biggest names from across the globe (and throughout history.) With Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Lionel Richie and Jenifer Lopez to name but a few, this is one music festival looking set to make a mark on the capital. However, the differing zones of entertainment across the park -including restaurants, salons, pubs, cocktail bars, cafes, bistros and food stalls- play host to a more intimate vibe from Monday to Thursday. Midweek the headliners will be replaced with film, music, literature and sport. A true all-rounder and definitely worth a look.

Wireless Festival 12th, 13th and 14th of July

Back to the Olympic park where this festival is one year from celebrating its decennial. Wireless is big, bold and boisterous, and attracts over 20 000 revelers on each of its three days. If you were born later than 1980 then this is your festival. Justin Timberlake, Jay Z and Calvin Harris to name but a few, will all be taking the main stage of the newly re-launched Olympic park.

Lovebox Weekender 19th, 20th and 21st of July

Perhaps the friendliest of the inner-city festivals, close your eyes and you could be at Glasto itself. Situated in Victoria Park, the Lovebox weekender plays host to a huge range of musical styles across multiple stages. This years line up includes the fantastically foul-mouthed Azelia Banks playing her only UK festival set, Rudimental, Goldfrapp and Lil’ Kim.

Camden Roundhouse

iTunes Festival 1st -30th of September

For the entire month of September the iconic yet intimate venue of the Camden Roundhouse will be host to a free gig every night. This year Jack White, Norah Jones, Usher, and (somewhat surprisingly) One Direction will all be headlining, but more acts will be announced nearer to the time of the event- always best to keep everyone guessing. For more information about how to apply for tickets, visit www.itunesfestival.com.

What to do now that the sun is out in London…

We have had a weekend of sunshine and with temperatures rising daily, it is time to think about what there is to do in London now that the sun is out…

London Cycle Path

The View from The Shard

The View from the Shard

Running right past our doorstep, it would be almost criminal not to take advantage of a sunny  day by hopping on a bike to enjoy some of londons finest spots. Taking you past independent shops and markets, the best of british architecture, and some of Londons finest ‘secret gardens’, the London Cycle path is a great way to explore the capital. The nice people at transport for London have even put together a few suggested routes for you to try.

The View from the Shard

Self-proclaimed as ‘London’s most eagerly awaited attraction’, this new vantage point from which to enjoy the panorama of the British capital is a must for any clear-afternoon. From floor 69 you get a 360° view of London, before being exposed to the elements on floor 72.  At 800ft the shard is almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London, and you are promised a crowd-free, stress-free, queue-free viewing experience – although pre-booking tickets is advised.

Horse-riding

There are a surprisingly large number of inner-city haunts which take care of all your equestrian needs. Offering everything from taster sessions, to birthday parties, jumping lessons and hacks, look no further than the capitals riding stables to provide a great day out for when the weather finally warms up. Dulwich Riding School, established in 1961, offer horseback rides through Dulwich park for £25 for an hour – the perfect way to enjoy some ‘inner-city ‘countryside.

Rock n Roll Walking Tour

With a weekend to kill and spring on the breeze, why not jump whole-heartledy into tourist mode and embark upon a walking tour of our great capital? Free with a London Pass, or £9 without one, the ‘Rock and Roll’ walking tour takes you through the musical history of London. You’ll wander through Soho and Covent garden tracking Britain’s rock heritage including the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and David Bowie. Tours start daily at 1pm from the Original London Visitors Centre.IMG_4745

Outdoor Fitness

Making the most of the capital’s parks as well as a range of industry expertise, the SWFitness group specialize in outdoor group fitness sessions … ‘Boot Camps’… which are designed to give you “the best hour of exercise you can get”. Burning up to 1000 calories a session, in a motivational environment in the great outdoors, SWFitness cover everything from dropping body fat, to all-round health, and of course nutrition; because nothing says “spring is here” like donning the lycra and getting sweaty in a local park.

A Guide to Moving House

moving-houseStatistics – and real life – go to prove that moving house is one of the most stressful events in a persons life (third only to bereavement and divorce.) However with good planning and organization this does not need to be the case. Obviously a larger budget can offset stress vs cost more easily, by simply paying others to do all the leg-work, however, even this approach requires careful planning. Here at Woolwich Central we’ve put together 5 things to think about which will make ‘the big move’ that little bit less stressful, no matter what budget you’re working with.

  1. Make a list of people and companies you need to notify. This includes (but is not limited to) banks, electricity companies, internet providers, doctors, employers and the council. The Royal Mail re-direction service is a helpful way to ensure your bills don’t go astray. For friends and family members a simple e-mail will suffice- one less expenditure on stamps, and saves the arm ache of writing out all their addresses!
  2. Removals. Talk to family, friends and colleagues to see who they recommend, then get quotes from at least 3 different firms. Hiring professional packers is almost definitely worth the outlay, and if you’re going DIY then assure you have an excellent colour-coding  system for room allocations. Also think about insurance for your possessions whilst they’re in transit. Also (and it seems basic) but will your old furniture fit in your new house?
  3. Take this as an opportunity to de-clutter and clean! Get rid of anything that you never use: old relics from forgotten hobbies and dusty magazine collections. If you’ve forgotten you had them, chances are you no longer need them- there are even specialists who can help you ‘let-go’ and de-clutter.
  4. Ask for a guide for your new house. If you have a folder containing important info, from the numbers of local tradesmen to how to put the heating on, recycling schemes and burglar alarms, then your transition into your new home will be a lot easier.
  5. Finally, on the day get rid of all distractions. Send the children and pets away so you can focus on logistics. Collect up all spare keys and change the locks on your new home. Once the boxes are unloaded set yourself an un-packing deadline – stick to it!

This is just a very brief summary, but moving house is certainly a situation where the age old mantra ‘fail to plan and plan to fail’ holds true.  If you’re looking for help when moving, tweet us @WoolwichCntrl or check out this article.

What to do in London for Valentine’s Day

Romantic walk and a picnic on Hampstead Heath

Theres nothing quite as romantic as escaping the hustle and bustle with your loved one, leaving the traffic, sirens and crowds and taking in a breath of fresh air. Jane Austen and Emily Bronte certainly knew the power of the great outdoors to get your pulses racing , and luckily London boasts an unrivalled array of beautiful parks and open spaces for all of us to enjoy. Hampstead Heath, with its lakes, lanes and vast swathes of open ‘green-ness’ provides the perfect landscape for a romantic stroll- with Highgate village a great pit-stop for wearied wanderers. The view of the capital from the top of Parliament hill is unrivalled on a clear day, and perfect for a romantic trip out.

Dial Arch

Situated in the natural heart of Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich, the original Dial Square building dates from 1720, this Gastro pub is a truly unique part of Woolwich history- the building itself acted as the gate house for the historic home of British defence and munitions production. Recently re-furbished to house a “plush and unique style, with exposed brickwork, chandeliers, and original artwork on the walls”, the Dial Arch is brimming with rustic style and character.  A warming fire with heart-warming food and traditional cask ales will assure that you and your loved one are comforted to the core this Valentines day- and its right on your doorstep.

Future Cinema

“WE ARE LIVE CINEMA” boasts the website in bold capitals. Future Cinema is a live events company that specialise in creating living, breathing experiences of the cinema. A totally new concept providing an immersion in the cinema, and bringing  back the concept of ‘spectacle’ – it is perhaps best explained by themselves: “Specialising in bringing events to life through a unique fusion of film, improvised performances, detailed design and interactive multimedia, Future Cinema create wholly immersive worlds that stretch the audience’s imagination and challenge their expectations.” Current viewings on offer are Casablanca and the Shawshank Redemption – whilst the latter is perhaps not top of the list for romance, Casablanca is heralded as one of the greatest love stories of all time, and the spectacle of either event will be sure to provide  a great evening out.

Cocktail Masterclass

What’s better than enjoying a delicious cocktail with your loved one on Valentine’s Day – why learning how to make them of course! London’s very own Harvey Nicholls run cocktail making master-classes twice weekly. The course promises to guide you “through cocktail bar alchemy, classic cocktail combinations and bartender’s top tips,” before they let you lose behind the bar to practice your newly found skills. The morning class is followed by a certificate presentation and lunch in the adjoining 5th Floor restaurant – reservation required.   If great drinks followed by great food don’t get you in the romantic spirit then nothing else will.

Tramshed

Set in a famous grade-2 listed tramshed building on Garden Walk and Rivington Street was designed by Vincent Harris and built in 1905 as an electricity generating facility for the Tramway System. Where gastronomy and culture collide, there is an art gallery on the bottom floor as well as a specially commissioned Damien Hirst work overlooking the restaurant- which can be equally enjoyed by private diners on the mezzanine floor. With a simple menu of chicken or steak, or chicken salad or steak salad, this isn’t one for vegetarians however. But for meat lovers, great quality and fantastic produce can be assured. Tramshed also offers takeaway chicken & chips, salads, steak sandwiches and coffee from 11am daily-  an ideal way to enjoy valentine’s day at home!

How to get fit in London: the alternative guide

The Thames Cycle PathNew Year, New You. Time to get fit and try to lose the ‘winter coat’ acquired over the season of excess. However, if the thought of a treadmill makes you give up before you’ve even started, there are plenty more options available to Londoners that the dreaded GYM… Here are Woolwich Central’s top 5:

Horse Riding:

There are a number of stables in London and it’s never too late to learn. Wimbledon Village Stables, the oldest stables in Britain, welcomes riders of all levels. They run a range of short courses for complete beginners including a one day course. It’s not cheap at £175 but a private instructor will take you through the basics and leave you raring to go.

Woolwich cycle path:

A great way to enjoy the crisp winter weather – just remember gloves and a positive mental attitude – cycling around the capital is an effortless way to exercise right from your doorstep. If you’re not lucky enough to have your own two-wheeled transportation system, then Greenwich cycle hire will be more than happy to help you out, and even have some great suggestions and tips on their website to inspire you further! With Greenwich cycle path just a stones-throw away, there really is no excuse not to give it a go!

Rollerblading:

Not just the reserve of bikini clad California-dwellers, Roller blading is taking off across London. Far more effective than any ‘legs bums and tums’ class, rollerblading is a great way to get fit and enjoy London. Citiskate run four and five week courses which take place in Hyde Park, Victoria and Kew and the Absolute Beginners course covers essentials such as stopping and falling! A four week course costs £145 which includes rental skates that you keep for the duration or £105 if you provide your own. Once you are able to stop at speed and handle more challenging terrain you can join in the Friday Night Skate which is held over a variety of routes.

Military Fitness:

Run by ex-military fitness trainers, these group work-out sessions have been springing up in parks across the capital. British Military Fitness (BMF) is the UK’s largest military style fitness, where it’s all about creating a motivating environment and maximising team spirit in the great outdoors. There are over 13 000 member across 80 local parks across the UK, and classes are run for all abilities.

Watersports:

Not the first thing to spring to mind when thinking of alternative ways to lose the winter paunch, but there are in fact many opportunities to take part in watersports across London.

The Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre has access to Millwall Dock and the River Thames and offers 25 acres of sheltered water, excellent for those who wish to learn one of a variety of watersports in a safe environment. For further information on activities including sailing, canoeing, dragon boating and rowing log on to www.dswc.org. The British Canoe Union also provide useful details on where you can learn to canoe and kayak around London.

For more suggestions, visit www.allinlondon.co.uk.

Buying your first place in London

Securing your place on the ‘property ladder’ is a daunting task, especially when the bottom rung itself seems completely out of reach. Moreover, with London providing endless variables from an entire sprawling metropolis, its hard to narrow down choices based on income, location, transport etc. etc. etc. Well luckily we have made things a little easier for you with Woolwich Central.

With 189 apartments to choose from, landscaped gardens, rooftop sky terraces, interior designed communal areas, lifts to all floors, a Tesco supermarket, a café, and room to store your bike; the Woolwich Central development ticks all the boxes a first time buyer could possibly think of. Located in the Royal Borough of Greenwich overlooking the Thames, the transport links into the Heart of London are quick and painless.

It seems that, apart from parenthood, buying your first home is a sign that you are ‘properly grown-up.’ Buying your first place should be exciting not stressful, and with our First Buy scheme you can own 100% of the property for 80% of the price. Woolwich Central is perfectly located in the south east of London, and we’ve designed our new development to encompass all that is great about inner-city living, whilst taking extra special care to ensure privacy, great quality, and taste.

For more information, visit our website at http://www.woolwichcentral.com.