Beefeater, Brixton and Vauxhall Pleasure: 6 things to do in and around The Oval in London during the Cricket World Cup

2019-06-01 10:30
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The greatest showcase of world cricket has started and will draw supporters of the 10 competing national teams from across the world to Britain. The opening match might not have gone too well for the Proteas, but fans who are there live in hope that this tournament will see the team finally clinch world domination.

Supporters would relish the prospect of staying for the entire tournament, if the Proteas advance toward the final on July 14th.

Especially since the tournament takes place in Spring and Summer, with fervent supporters from all over the world adding to the atmosphere of an already eclectic destination.  

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With so much to see and do, we asked a UK insider, Sue Petrie, British Airways' Regional Commercial Manager Trade for Southern and East Africa to give us a low-down on how to make the most of your time while there. 

“While the world’s best cricketers will duel at beautiful venues across Britain, there’s plenty to do between matches. For example, the opening match between South Africa and England at The Oval puts fans in the middle of a variety of attractions." Petrie suggests the following:

Browse a market: Brixton is famed for its lively, multicultural flavour. At the epicentre of that is the Brixton Station Road Market, a community market run by local traders and a good place to savour and the area’s Afro-Caribbean heritage. Expect to enjoy Ethiopian, West Indian, Kashmiri, Moroccan and Colombian dishes, as well as charcuterie and baked goods, and there’s plenty of vegan and vegetarian fare. Depending on when you visit, the focus will be on handcrafts, fresh produce, vinyl and collectables. The market is covered and worth visiting in any weather. The area is also known for its energetic nightlife and it’s worth a pilgrimage to the pedestrianised Electric Avenue. It’s so-named because it was the first market area in London to have electric lighting in 1880. The reggae singer Eddy Grant had a hit with a song of the same name. 

Attend a live show: The O2 Brixton Academy is a beloved, iconic venue that’s hosted performances by every musical act of any significance in the last 50 years, including the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Madonna, the XX, Faithless, Pixies, Good Charlotte, Rammstein and the Dave Matthews Band. For music-lovers, this is a pilgrimage to remember. 

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Tour a famous distillery: London and gin share a lot of history and in the past the aromatic spirit was blamed for many of the city’s social ills. Once labelled Mother’s Ruin, it’s now a crucial ingredient of many cocktails and is very much on-trend. There are around 24 gin distilleries in London, including the one where Beefeater has been made for the last 200-odd years. Nowadays gin is enjoyed worldwide, but much of its history can be traced back to the imposing Edwardian building in Montford Place off Kennington Road. You’ll be able to see the Victorian-era pot-still stills and sample the botanicals that give gin its unique tang – juniper, liquorice, coriander, almonds, lemons and more – as well as the end-product. 

Take a walking tour: You can of course stroll around London on your own, but a good tour-guide outfit like www.lookup.london will give you fascinating insights into the city’s many oddities. Just one example is Southbank House, around 20 minutes’ walk from Kennington Oval. While many London buildings are vast, sleek glass-and-steel edifices, the terracotta-and-tile façade of Southbank House tells a story that’s intertwined with royalty and empire. Originally established to make glazed sewer pipes, the Doulton company diversified into its now-famous fine bone-china. When it was awarded a royal warrant, the company was entitled to rename itself Royal Doulton and its tableware and collectables remain sought-after worldwide.

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Try some famous local bread:  When Karl Heinz Rossbach moved from his family’s farm in Southern Germany in 1982 to London to study psychotherapy, he yearned for the nutritious, traditional bread of his home, but found nothing like it. He was immersed in the thriving counterculture of ’80s London and like many students at the time he lived in a “squat” – the only digs he could afford. He needed to fund his studies and feed his yearning for home-made bread. So he repaired a discarded gas-cooker, built a proving cabinet from scrap, a mill from a coffee-grinder and a washing-machine motor, and used an old bath as a mixing bowl. Outlets offering organic, artisanal foods are commonplace now, but Rossbach’s was the first in the area, and The Old Post Office Bakery continues to delight patrons with food like its potato, onion and honey sourdough loaf, tomato pesto cheese pie, and chocolate and hazelnut biscuits. Visit the old post office bakery

Visit a pleasure garden: London is a busy city and that’s part of its appeal. But residents and visitors also enjoy London’s many tranquil green spaces, offering fresh air and space to unwind. One such destination is the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in Kennington. The gardens have attracted visitors for around 200 years and have been mentioned in the writings of Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Thomas Hardy and William Makepeace Thackery, author of Vanity Fair. Nowadays it’s also the site of the Vauxhall City Farm, an independent charity giving city-dwellers access to nature and animals. It might feel incongruous to walk among farm animals within earshot of Big Ben, but the farm provides valuable environmental awareness and facilities including horse-riding. A coffee-shop on-site offers light meals.   

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