We love London and we love Girl Ray so it seemed like a no-brainer to ask them to tell us about the things they love to do in London, which include eating loads of pizza, karaoke, hanging with piglets, and mudlarking. Girl Ray—made up of singer-songwriter Poppy Hankin, bassist Sophie Moss and drummer Iris McConnell—seems like the kind of friend gang/band that everyone would love to join. Their third album, Prestige, came out in August on Moshi Moshi and it’s an ode to disco that was inspired by the TV show Pose about NYC’s queer ballroom scene in the ’80s. US and EU: You can pick up the LP from the band on tour this autumn. Meanwhile, read on and find out what Poppy, Iris and Sophie love to do in the great city of London! Images courtesy of Girl Ray
FOOD AND DRINK
Poppy: The first thing is something that I like to do, which is going around and eating loads of pizza because I used to be a pizza chef last year and I got kind of obsessed with pizza and just trying to find the best ones in London and there’s much debate. But yeah, I used to work at a place called Ace Pizza, which does really, really good pizza. It’s kind of like Napoli New York hybrid. They’re great. And then there’s a ton of other good ones, like Gordo’s, which is also in Hackney. And I’m forgetting every single pizza I’ve ever eaten. But there’s a ton of good pizza happening in London right now, so yeah.
Iris: We like a place called Gordon’s Wine Bar, which is a little bit touristy, but it lives up to the hype. It’s right next to Embankment station and it was made in 1890 and it’s in a little cellar and it does really, really tasty wines and a banging vegan cheese board. It’s a lovely little place to go after the theatre, you know we never do that, but it’s a classic spot.
Sophie: Something I and we like to do is go to a place called Tayyabs, which is in Whitechapel, East London. It’s right by my uni and I like to go by myself in between classes and eat lots of Punjabi food, but we like to go as a group as well.
Iris: They do really good like soft chickpeas.
Sophie: Yeah, really, really good stuff. Yeah.
Poppy: Next one is cosy pubs. The best thing about London in the winter or autumn is getting cozy in a pub and one of my favorite ones is the Southampton Arms, which is near Tufnell Park and Hampstead Heath. Super cozy small pub with a fireplace and it’s just very old, old vibes. And yeah, and it’s great. We also have a load of great locals near where we all live in Hackney, like the Prince George and Chesham Arms and the Duke of Wellington.
Iris: And where we grew up there’s a really crazy one called the famous Royal Oak, where Sophie used to work.
Sophie: I used to work there. Never work at your favorite places.
Poppy: Yeah, that’s actually the best rule in life. But yeah.
Sophie: Speaking of East London, we also like E Pellicci, this old Italian fry-up place. It’s been there since the 1800s I think. And it just does a delicious fry-up. Also, like, very lardy Italian foods and the vibe is just fantastic.
Poppy: Yeah, beware the fried bread because it will mean you can’t finish the fry-up. So when they ask you toasted or fried bread, just go “toasted” even though fried is delicious.
Iris: I disagree. Really good fish & chips all around London, but we probably like Micky’s fish & chips the most which is in Hackney and near Dalston. It’s near this really good pub called Army and Navy. They do darts and karaoke there. I’m rambling now.
Poppy: I also like to tell people coming to London to go and get a martini at Duke’s Bar, which is, yeah, it’s a bar at the bottom of a very fancy hotel in Mayfair. But it’s like a very London experience and you have to wait a little while to get a table, but you go in there and you should order a gin martini and the martinis are the strongest drinks you’ll ever have. I think they have about six shots of gin in them and there’s actually a two-drink limit. You can’t have more than two drinks. But the guys come up with a little cart and they make it right in front of you and it’s very delicious.
Sophie: Another one we like is Bar Italia in Soho—another very classic old Italian joint. But yeah, the drinks are great, it’s very open plan and people watching there is just excellent.
THINGS TO DO
Iris: There’s a lovely little view from the top of the Oxo Tower. You can just walk up there for free, get that lift up or whatever and there’s just a great view from the Thames, get a little tap water and do some people watching.
Sophie: I’m looking at this list and I’m like, wow, I just do all these things by myself. OK. Genesis Cinema, again after university I like to go, sometimes they do 3-pound tickets for all the films that have come out like a few years ago, but they’re all the films that are super cheap and yeah, fantastic place.
Poppy: We also like to go to city farms, which are not unique to London, but it feels like quite a London thing where you get these, yeah, these small little farms in the middle of the city and you’ve got, you know, lots of lovely animals and …
Sophie: Ever heard of a farm?
Poppy: This is how a farm works. There are animals, but no, yeah, it’s a nice thing to do on the weekend, go and say hi to the piggies. They’re usually free.
Iris: You like to follow them on Instagram to see when there’s newborns.
Poppy: Yeah, exactly. But Hackney City Farm is my local and my favorite but there’s lots of good ones.
Iris: Vauxhall City Farm is great. Stepney Green. Yeah, there’s some real cute ones. There’s a wonderful little place called the Novelty Automation Museum. It’s a collection of homemade arcade machines. It’s right by Holborn and it’s just such a weird place and it’s just so strange. I love it there. It’s really fun. It’s like a work of art, but you get to play with it.
Poppy: Something I like to do as well, which is a bit random, is when the Thames is in its low tide, you can go onto the banks and find all kinds of crazy shit. There’s so many, like, there’s loads of bones, which I don’t touch obviously, but you can find little Victorian glass bottles and you can find clay pipes, like smoking pipes, loads of tiles, loads of stuff because basically for the past, like, however many 100 years, the Thames was basically just the bin for people, they just throw anything in it. So, there’s tons of stuff that washes up and it’s really fun to go and have a look and see if you can find anything.
Sophie: Um, it’s a bit dorky, but I quite like going on trains a lot, just for the sake of being on the train. And there’s a train line called the DLR [Docklands Light Rail], which was made in around 2012 for the Olympics and it goes across mostly East London, but it goes to central and South as well and it’s very like Blade Runner-y around the Canary Wharf and I find it quite relaxing to just sit on it and think about life.
Iris: And if you sit in the front, it feels like you’re driving the train.
Sophie: Yeah, there’s no drivers.
Iris: There’s great galleries everywhere around London, but particularly in Mayfair there’s some really fun commercial galleries that you can just wander around and they’re all free and the exhibitions change every few weeks and it’s very exciting. I mean, it’s incredibly wealthy around there, but it’s great for people watching also.
Poppy: I also really like a spot in Walthamstow in east London called the Walthamstow Trades Hall, which is like an old working man’s club. But recently they started doing some super fun nights, like there’s a good karaoke night, which is a lot of fun.
Sophie: We really like to go to car boot sales. We love knickknacks and there’s a car boot sale in Dalston called Princess May Car Boot, which is very, very good. And you’ll often see people you know, kind of setting up stores there because anyone could do it. Poppy’s done it.
Iris: And there’s a great one in Chiswick as well. If you drive, we recommend that. There’s a great vintage shop, probably my favorite in London called Blue 17 on Holloway Road. It’s very overwhelming but lots of fun. And I really like this toy shop in Archway fairly nearby called the Toy Project, which is kind of like a charity shop, but it just does toys and yes, it’s for children, but it’s just very fun to visit because everything’s really cheap and it’s run by a funny woman and her daughter. And it’s great for toy lovers.
FOOD AND DRINK
Trying pizzas (Ace Pizza, Gordo’s etc.)
Gordon’s wine bar
E Pellicci fry-up
Great Turkish food on Kingsland Road (Somine)
Martini at Duke’s Bar
People watching from Bar Italia
Fish & chips at Micky’s Chippy, Dalston
THINGS TO DO
Top of OXO
Novelty Automation Museum
Mudlarking by the Thames
Karaoke Night at Walthamstow Trades Hall
Walk on Hampstead Heath and swim in the ponds.
Going on trains/DLR line
Car boot sales, Princess May Car Boot in Dalston & Chiswick car boot sale
Blue 17 Vintage, Holloway Road
The Toy Project
Read our interview with Girl Ray in CF18 (which are pretty hard to come by these days!) and listen to their wonderful new album, Prestige, here! Also go see them play in the USA and EU later this year (see dates below).