HouseTrip, a Song for the Day & a Local Hero: Clapham Common’s All-Singing, All-Dancing Shalamar

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been busy working on a special project recently. This project has become very close to my heart, so you’ll have to forgive me if I keep banging on about it over the coming weeks!

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I’ve been working with HouseTrip.com to help project manage their Where to Stay Guide for London. Now this wasn’t your ordinary, bog-standard ‘you can do this, don’t forget to see this’ guide, these were personal, insider journeys all over London, written by some proper Londoners and London-lovers. So, 26 boroughs (yes we made a few up), five languages and near-on 88,000 words later, it’s live and you can delve into it here: housetrip.com/content/where-to-stay/london.

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It was long, gruelling and challenging, (have you ever tried to organise journalists plus photographers, translators and videographers to deadline? They don’t compare it to herding cats without reason) but it was also incredibly fun.

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I got to work with some fantastic London bloggers like Emily Gibson from Curious London, Fabienne Henry from Lost in London, Laura Porter from About.com London, Fiona Maclean from London Unattached, Julie Falconer – the lady behind A Lady in London – Donald Strachan and the lovely Zoe Hedges from The Z-Factor, whose individual guides you should check out immediately!

The last few weeks I’ve carried my camera and wandered around what feels like most of London. I’ve followed paths and alleyways I never knew existed, discovered buildings and parks I’ve never seen before, eaten cake EVERYWHERE and and met some fascinating people. I’ve learned a few important lessons like if you try to take a picture of the hard-as-nails looking florist in an undisclosed south London location she’ll give you the finger; and no matter how much I wish I did I DO NOT live in one of the town houses in Sloane Square and need to stop pretending I do as it makes the real owners uncomfortable.

It’s has forced me to re-evaluate areas I thought I knew, like my five-hour jaunt around Kensington following Fiona’s fantastic recommendations – and yes, we did spend about two hours drooling over the food in Wholefoods before getting lost in the tulips and wisteria of Holland Park, but don’t take my word for it, read her guide here: housetrip.com/content/where-to-stay/kensington.

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My guides were Lambeth, Chelsea, Wandsworth and Canary Wharf, but there was one thing that didn’t make it into my Lambeth guides that I regret – for some reason late night, drunken singing and fried chicken didn’t seem family-friendly enough!

I’m pleased to introduce the all-singing, all-singing Shalamar of Shalamar’s chicken near Clapham Common station – a local legend extraordinaire who, if he remembers you, will do his very own version of a Backstreet Boys hit, complete with interchangeable hats and some sick dance moves.

This video is shaky, loud, out-of-focus and taken at the end of a very long night (I’m really selling it here), so feel free to play the real soundtrack linked below from YouTube if you can’t bear the distinct background sounds of drunken caterwauling. Enjoy your 90s flashback, because it doesn’t get much better than this boy band classic…or at least it seemed that way a few drinks down!

Shalamar! from emma sleight on Vimeo.

In the next few weeks I hope to post more on my forays into London for HouseTrip, from star butchers and deserted skyscrapers to prostitute’s graveyards and hidden street signs – including all the photography that didn’t quite make it in to the official guides, like these from Lambeth that I’ve been dropping in!

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Please do let me know if the guides feature one of your favourite places, or if we’ve manage to unearth a gem you didn’t know about…or even if you’ve seen Shalamar in action yourself!

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