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#SpoilerAlert ! This interview contains unbridled enthusiasm and passion for life, we fear it may be contagious…

This week, House of Coco caught up with super ‘slashie’ Leah McKenzie on her passions, plans and how on earth she does it all!

HoC: Hey, Leah, welcome to House of Coco. We know you as a lady of many talents – tell us a little about your passions!

Leah: I have one passion in life and that is living life! Everything goes into that, I think we are so lucky to be able to have such an amazing experience, even in dark times. When the time is right we are all thankful for this opportunity to experience things like food, culture, arts, music, love, laughter, joy and even things like pain and sadness, its all part of this amazing experience.

HoC: We completely agree and we can see your passion for life spilling through to your work from presenting and acting to X Factor’s BootCamp! How did you build your portfolio career?

Leah: I have always known that showbiz is definitely my destiny! From a young age when I became aware of my self, my intellect, my talents and emotions, I realised a wanted to be a showbiz star; an actress, singer song writer, a presenter, a TV personality.

To get to where I am now I’ve done both paid and unpaid work and also made sure I was constant with all my social media’s, to the point where people would say I post way too much but I felt this method was right for me as I have so many sides to show! I want people to see and understand my growth, I believe that is why people are interested in me as they see I am real and authentic, my journey is serious and also raw to the core and I want to share this with people all over the world.

HoC: Talking of you at a young age; what advice would you have now for a younger you?

Leah: If I could talk to a younger version of myself I would first of all explain to them how important it is to get as much training as possible because when you’re given a gift it’s raw like a diamond in the rough. But when you start to shape it up and polish it, you get to appreciate its beauty.

Also I would tell them to be themselves, be true, dress however they feel to dress, speak how they want to speak and follow their dreams with the right intentions and never, ever give up. Like all the Greats have said; you work hard, lose sleep, you stress, you cry and scream but you never, ever let that stop you going because one day that door will open for you and it will be right for you.

If it’s your destiny and you it want THAT much it will happen for you.

HoC: Inspiring stuff, we love it! So what’s on the cards for the rest of 2017?

Leah: I would like to have an EP out, and my TV show ‘Leah McKenzie Loves Life’ doesn’t matter if it only has a few hits… haha, I’m sure it will have loads!

I would also like to establish a company that can help other British artists to excel. Not just artists in music but all creatives. I think the word ‘Creatives’ breaks all the barriers and there is no boxes; anyone is a creative as long as what they are creating comes from within.

To be honest, I’m open to see what else the rest of this year has in store. It’s been full of so many great surprises!

HoC: Sounds like a busy couple of months ahead; how on earth do you squeeze it all in?

Leah: Being a boss is one of the most challengingly things to do especially when you have a young family, like me. When you’re so driven like I am, I have ideas galore but trying to prioritise and make them happen is so challenging. I have failed many times. I have started things and not completed them and it has been a learning curve. What I’ve realised, as I’m becoming older and more mature, is if you start something you HAVE to finish it.

You need to be organised, write your ideas down and execute them one by one and just make it happen. I don’t really socialise that much, even though my Instagram portraits I’m a really bubbly sociable person as that’s work for me! When I’m not working, I’m at home working on myself and trying to make this happen. Consistency, willpower and determination is what drives me; even if you fail, just get up and keep on marching.

HoC: We can respect that hustle! Please tell us you allow yourself some R&R time too? How do you unwind from all the craziness?

Leah: If I’m lucky enough to go holiday, I like to escape to a beach!Ahhh, the sun, sand and sea (and a few vinos!) and just happy vibes…. If I’m in England, I love to go for strolls in the park and just be around nature. I don’t like to think about work or money on my days off, I just want to walk, have a laugh and be in fairyland. I do love going to the gym but even that I see as work so when I’m trying to relax I try not to do anything like that!

HoC: Give us some gossip; you’ve got to tell us what the X Factor bootcamp was like, is it anything like what we see on TV?

Leah: It was so amazing, the whole experience was fantastic. It is a lot like what you see on TV but at the end of the day people have to understand that X Factor is an entertainment show, it’s there to entertain!

We do see the funny characters going through [to the next round] for our entertainment and also see some amazing singers go through. I will say that on and off screen I had a fantastic time and the production team were great, I met some amazing artists and the opportunity was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys singing. You may not want to be the next big superstar but just go for the experience and they make you feel like super stars……..until you get dropped and sent home, haha!

HoC: It’s been such a pleasure to meet you, Leah, and we’re super excited to see what you get up to next. How can we keep up with your adventures?

Leah: I’m on all the social channels; find me on instagram @leahmckx, twitter @LMMWORLDXX and Facebook is ‘Leah McKenzie’

I’m one of the little fish trying to make it in the big pond. I’m sure I will grow and succeed on this journey but we all need support! The little people that need your support will appreciate that ‘like’ or ‘follow’ so much more than Drake or Rihanna. So come on guys, get following!

No longer are breweries only to be found in the far-flung ‘up-and-coming’ parts of the big smoke as the new ‘Tank Fresh’ brew pub from West London favourites, Long Arm Brewery , has landed in East London, just a quick sprint from Liverpool Street station. Welcome, friends, to one of #TeamCoco’s new haunts!

Let’s start with the vibes. On entering the industrial but airy pub you’ll be greeted by the shiny brewery part of the space which offers bespoke group tours. Not only is this beautifully presented but has a beautiful soul as well, championing how the beer industry can adopt zero-waste initiatives through innovative production and serving methods. An added bonus to their beers is that they are both vegetarian and vegan friendly. Beer facts and strong values? We might be in love.

In terms of what’s on offer; as a beer drinker you are in for a treat with classic Long Arm beers on the taps, regular creative brews, often dreamt up by the bar staff, which have included a stout that tasted like cookies (!) and a select number of exciting guest bottles.

On our trip we sampled a flight of the house beers including a quirky lemony belgian wheat beer, rounded off by a cheeky little IPA from Kiwi brewers, Yeastie Boys. It’s refreshing to find a brew bar with such a range and an accommodating approach to finding you a drink you’ll enjoy rather than peering down from its craft beer high horse…

Often the downfall of a good brew pub is the lack of decent options for your non-beer drinker buddies. Here at Long Arm Brewery, you have nothing to worry about. Not only do they distil their own gin but we sampled two of their delicious beer cocktails that would convert the biggest naysayer to the joy of a good brew; we’d particularly recommend their version of a lemon drop; sour and sweet in equal measures.

Throw in casual catch up enablers like table football and tasty american-style pub nibbles (like wings and blue cheese dip and beer battered onion rings) and Long Arm Brewery is the perfect spot to catch up with your squad after work.

We’ll see you at the bar!

Long Arm Pub & Brewery can be found at 20-26 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2DX

www.longarmpub.com

Open 11am – midnight Monday – Saturday and 11am – 11pm on Sundays

Not only has our girl, Rosie Olivia (rosieoliviamillinery.com) made incredible headpieces for royalty including Pippa Middleton and Zara Phillips, but she’s just literally crowned the arrival of the new Ford Fiesta. We caught up with her to talk inspiration, celebrity clients and how you, too, can become a hat wearer!

HOC: Hi Rosie! So lovely to meet you, let’s start at the beginning; how did you get into being a milliner?

RO: I have always loved accessories, especially hair accessories, whether it’s a floppy winter beany hat or a little glitzy hair clip; I always have something in my hair. When I was younger, I used to go to functions with my mum where all the ladies would wear hats. I used to sit there and admire them all and think, the lady opposite me, would look so much better if those feathers on her hat where in another colour or she wore a hat without a brim!

When I was was in University I was driving myself mad about what I could do for my final collection for my degree show. Throwing ideas back and forth, I realized that I wanted to work in the creative industry so this was my chance! I have always loved hats and love the fact that a hat finishes off an outfit. It’s a great accessory and when one is put on your head it gives you confidence and makes you feel great. I took an internship at Philip Treacy and then created a collection of headwear for my degree show. From then, I knew that I wanted to focus on a career in millinery.

HOC: We bet its an awesome feeling making someone feel confident through your creativity! Who are your favourite clients to work with?

RO: I make hats to sell via retailers and I also make bespoke hats for individual clients which is my favourite thing to do as every hat is different.

I meet lots of great ladies, who have different outfits and styles; some that love to wear hats and some that have never worn one before. I love my job as I get to meet lots of different characters, style them with a great hat and make them feel fabulous! There isn’t one favourite person in particular that I have made a hat for, as they are all fabulous people, but making hats for Zara Tindall was really fun and a challenge as it’s always last minute! When you images in the press it makes the manic rush of making the hats seem worth it!

HOC: We wish more people wore hats; they really transform an outfit! If someone wanted to start wearing hats, where on earth would they start?

RO: I would say book an appointment to see me at my showroom! I am brutally honest but I will help you find the right hat shape for you. I always want my clients to look their best as it’s my brand name on the line. My hats are not for everyone but if you have help putting the hats on and look at different styles and get some honest advice you may just find the hat for you and you may become a hat wearer!

I want to see people wearing more hats casually. I feel that a lot of people will only wear a hat to a special occasion but actually it is just an accessory which can be used throughout the year. Also, I have clients who really love the fact that my hats are handmade in the UK from start to finish and I think it’s important to have a home grown brand.

HOC: You’ve even got cars into wearing crowns! Tell us about your collaboration crown with Ford Fiesta’s latest release?

RO: I wanted to create a crown that bought to life the details and attributes of the new Ford Fiesta. I designed a crown with a quilted leather headband and royal blue crown jewels and used an actual gear stick as the centre piece along with seat belt arches. It was really important to me that the crown reflected the Fiesta whilst following my millinery techniques. It was really fun to experiment with new materials – I’ve certainly never used leather and metal on a hat before! I then worked with a talented team of designers and 3D scanners and carpenters to scale up my creation to Fiesta size. The giant crown weighs in at 90kg, features 200 hand painted crystals and uses 800m of seat belts.

HOC: Finally, we love an inspirational ‘Girl Boss’ here at House of Coco; can you share a recent ‘Girl Boss’ moment you’ve experienced?

RO: There are a few! I was interviewed on Sky News once about a Facebook for a campaign called ‘She Means Business’ . Being positioned as a woman who young girls could look up to was a very cool moment! I was also just recently on the judging panel at Newmarket Races July festival for the Style Awards and of course, I have made hats for a royalty and now a crown for Ford!

To find our more about Rosie Olivia Millinery head over to www.rosieoliviamillinery.com . The newest Ford Fiesta, the nation’s favourite car, is available now!

Walking into the grand Banking Hall in London you’ll be greeted by the train inspector of Laverstoke Express, a goblet of Bombay Sapphire and tonic and through the steam, glimpse the exciting new name behind the latest The Grand Journey, none other than Story’s head chef Tom Sellers.

Having adventured across Europe, the Laverstoke Express is back in London once again for one week only transporting lucky passengers on immersive gin journeys from 17th – 23rd July 2017 (www.thegrandjourney.com) . So it’s all aboard the train with Tom to understand the inspiration behind this journey to explore the 10 botanicals that make Bombay Sapphire the jewel in your drinks cabinet…

HOC: Cheers, Tom! Thanks for having us along on this journey. We’d love to know, what drew you to working with Bombay Sapphire on this concept?

TS: I’m a big fan of gin. The more I have learned about Bombay Sapphire and the dedication they have to building flavour in their gin made me want to get involved. I loved the concept of taking guests on a journey through the individual botanicals.

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The food I create at Restaurant Story celebrates individual stories, be it from memory, history or literature. We wanted to translate that philosophy to The Grand Journey and create intelligent dishes that not only tell the story of Bombay Sapphire’s gin of ten journeys, but also enhance the flavours of the botanicals to work in harmony with the accompanying cocktails. Ultimately, we want to enhance this unique experience for the diners.

HOC: What was your favourite dish that you created for The Grand Journey?

TS: I love working with seafood so the scallop dish is probably my favourite. Using Spanish lemons in the dish really elevates the sweetness of the seafood and I chose to present the scallop both hot and cold so that guests could experience a range of flavours in one dish by using different methods in each presentation.

HOC: We know you as a chef who really cares about provenance of ingredients. Did you work with any botanicals that really surprised you?

TS: I spent a day at Laverstoke (the Bombay Sapphire distillery in Whitchurch) learning about the origins and flavours of each of their botanicals. Grains of Paradise is a West African pepper that I had never tried before and really stood out to me.

HOC: And finally (and, of course) , what’s your gin drink of choice?

TS: Gin and tonic. It’s a classic.

Cheers to that, Tom! Hurry #TeamCoco and jump onboard the Laverstoke Express for a journey of a lifetime; head over to www.thegrandjourney.com for tickets and more information.

As the plane landed in Mallorca we were reminiscing about trips past to the island; self catered family holidays in white walled hotel complexes, walks down dusty quartz lined paths to waterparks and how we’d overlooked the island for our coming of age party week, opting for Ibiza instead.

It’s true Mallorca hasn’t had much of a rep as a truly desirable holiday destination for the savvy millennial but when we heard about the lush properties that Melia Hotels (www.melia.com) have on the island, we were intrigued to put our preconceptions to one side and go and explore…

We discovered that there’s so much packed into this island that you could stay pretty much anywhere on the island and be within easy reach of adventure. We opted for a beach base (our recommendations are at the end of this article) which made all drives super quick as we weren’t navigating cities and also a great option for those days when the sea was glistening and we just wanted to chill with a mojito.

Here’s three of our favourite island adventures; we can’t wait to go back and find some more.

Palma

Once simply seen as the city closest to the airport, Mallorca’s capital has transformed itself into an incredible city retreat. The Old Town is simply stunning, with the epic imposing Cathedral towering over winding streets we spent many hours wandering around, hiding from the May heat in shadowed plazas.

The city is home to some illustrious shopping streets like the Passeig des Born as well as the impressive contemporary art found in Es Baluard, a museum as beautiful from the outside as the inside, with its great sea view. We happily spent a long weekend exploring vintage shops like Seattle Vintage and Quint, fuelled by flat whites from RoseVelvet (who also do a mean cheesecake) and cold brew from El Molienda; the first of third wave coffee shops to hit the city a few years ago.

Whatever you do, don’t miss quirky Santa Catalina; a flourishing area of ex fisherman’s cottages turned restaurants and bars. There’s even a pizza delivery company in one of the windmills in the neighbourhood! We had great mojitos and tacos at Patron Lunares ; a gorgeous bistro with high ceiling and novel decor and innovative Mexican at Toloache, run by a charismatic team who’ll make their views on Tex-Mex well known! Drinks-wise, as in mainland Spain, you’ll find some mean G&Ts on the menu (many using neighbouring Menorca’s Xoriguer gin); in fact, there’s a restaurant called Gin Burger with a menu championing two of our favourite things!

If you fancy spending the night in the city, the Melia group have a number of gorgeous well priced options, for example the chic city centre Innside Palma Center with a panoramic rooftop equipped with pool and bar.

Soller

A super cutesy day trip that doesn’t need the car (and therefore allows for lunchtime Sangria!) ; is to take the vintage train cross country from Palma to the mediaeval town of Soller, at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains. Starting out in commercial Palma, you are soon chugging along through lemon and olive groves, spying countryside villas you make mental note to google the price of.

After grabbing some lunch in Soller catch the (also vintage!) tram down to the super picturesque Port de Soller. It’s so picture perfect and, in fact, If you are a fan of the Night Manager you might recognise this spot from the show. A walk from the port will take you to some gorgeous beaches for a quiet sunbath or straying just a few steps from where the tram leaves you presents many eating and drinking options, with a stunning view. Grab an icecream from local maker before heading back to Palma for the evening.

Deia

Deia has long been considered Mallorca’s most picturesque village and with the epic drive (if a little nail biting on those tiny, twisty roads) along the I-10 it’s not hard to see why.

The road from Andratx to Deia skims the coast, climbing into the mountains, giving peeks of the glistening sea through olive groves. Some view points are absolutely astonishing and rival the incredibly famous Pacific Coast Highway but a lot closer to home!

From the town itself, there are incredible views from up near the church and almost too many great restaurants to choose from; from those with Michelin Stars (Es Raco d’es Teix) and fresh Italian and Asian cuisine (Nama). This little town has a huge celebrity following from literary heritage (Robert Graves and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to name but two) to popstars staying here before their wedding days (Robbie Williams, we’re looking at you). It’s certainly the quiet life up here, bar the odd raucous night at the town’s bar and there’s plenty of hiking to be had. For example, a short adventurous walk will take you down to the secluded Cala de Deia with its seafood restaurants; but before you have too much vino, remember you’ll have to get clamber back up!

Where to stay…

To soak up the party vibes we stayed at the quirky and colourful Sol House Mixed by Ibiza Rocks hotel in Magaluf. The notorious party town has calmed down over the past few years and in amongst the ‘brits abroad’ vibe there are peeks of luxe with beach house bars and restaurants.

The Sol House Mixed by Ibiza Rocks property is just set back from the strip; at a perfect distance to decide if you’d like to throw yourself into the party or prefer to enjoy the beach, the pool and a couple of cocktails rather than a ‘night out out’. If you are throwing yourself into the party, don’t miss the hotel’s epic buffet breakfast which will restore your faith after too many fishbowls!

To enjoy this stunning part of the coast but with a more laid back vibe we hopped around the island to close-by Palma Nova beach where the Sol Beach House resides. Right on the beach front it’s a calm oasis and smells great (seriously, not sure what the milky coconut smell is but we miss it!) Embracing the classic balearic vibes the hotel is all white-walls and driftwood with quirky Desigual prints to inject character into the surroundings.

The pool bar serves a super healthy and tasty menu of fresh juices and salads which acts as the perfect antidote to the often bread and cheese heavy beachfront options. Soaking in the pool or chilling on your balcony, Sol Beach House is a stunning base from which to plan explore the island but we don’t blame you if you struggle to leave! This beach hotel has a number of fantastic suites with private terraces, loungers and even jacuzzis cementing it as the ideal balearic base for your Mallorca adventure!

Forgive us, dear readers but we have been known to snarl our upper lips in derision at opulent British countryside hotels with golf courses. The uninitiated snobs we once were envisaged CaddyShack style nightmare guests and overworked hotel staff, buggies full of business men arguing over who has the largest erm, car… From the second we entered The Grove‘s 300 acre property (within 15 mins of leaving London Euston) our jaws hit the floor and we didn’t succeed shutting them until we were chowing down on a tasty burger later that evening. But more about that later.

We were guests of the hotel and spa to check out the new, bang on trend, holistic spa menu. Honing in on the current obsession with the power of crystals and other precious stones, the ESPA spa offers mindful treatments that harness not only the power of relaxation through the therapist’s work but also through breathing and visualisation techniques.

From the moment we entered the spa we knew we were in for a treat. Unlike too many highly rated hotel spas we’ve visited, the spa here feels like a tailor made retreat, rather than an add on to the hotel. Thoughtfully laid out, it feels spacious and relaxing with an additional outdoor pool located just across the way, with its very own urban beach.

Our therapist Daisy is welcoming and incredibly knowledgable about the treatment. Having read quite a lot of holistic books recently we’re all over the colour visualisations (we saw pink, by the way) and she’s enthusiastic that we’re enthusiastic about the use of a gong to wake us from our relaxed state and the application of Rose Quartz Crystals. We could be in California right now, you guys!

The care taken to coax us into relaxation really pays off and Daisy’s great masseuse work is amplified by the music and scent used. This is honestly the best massage we’ve ever had.

When we awake from the treatment, the tired harassed feeling we had from the week gone disappeared and we were energised and excited to explore the hotel. This is just as well as, with 4 spaces to eat in, a spectacular cocktail menu, bike trails and super quirky art dotted around the property, hiding in your luxe (and very possibly four poster) bed would be a shame.

After an explore we opted for dinner in The Stables, a rustic New-England styled stable serving ‘simple food served to perfection’ and enjoyed a low key but tasty dinner. Here’s another example of the Grove smashing our negative perceptions of 5* luxury; that it feels snobby and elitist. It’s just as well that the team here are so down to earth and friendly as we were shrieking with giggles on the golf buggy ride from the restaurant back to the main hotel…

Snuggling into our impossibly soft bed dreaming of what turned out to be an epic breakfast buffet, we felt a world away from the week’s stresses while only being 18 miles from Piccadilly Circus. Can we commute from here? Seriously.

The Grove is an ideal escape from the city, we couldn’t think of a better treat for you and your girls or your loved one. For more information head over to www.thegrove.co.uk ; see you on the urban beach!

You know us and you know we love gin! So when the tastemakers at Star of Bombay invited us along for an evening of ‘Slow Artistry’ we were intrigued and just a little bit thirsty!

Slow Artistry fundamental to the development and distillation of the delicious Star of Bombay. This innovative gin is slow distilled which intensifies the flavours and aromatics from the botanicals making a stunning cocktail spirit.

To illustrate the stunning care taken while creating this spirit we were treated to a bespoke meal created by Carousel’s chef Ollie Templeton which took in bergamot cured bacon, short rib steak and a yuzu meringue all paired with increasingly innovative gin cocktails.

From the curious naturally pink watercress and olive oil starter cocktail, through home made walnut liqueur, fake red wine (see below), we ended up merry and inspired, ending on a high with a cocktail with it’s own meringue peak.

There was a final personalised surprise in store before we all wobbled out into the night… Earlier in the evening we’d taken part in a blind taste test of eccentrically flavoured jellies, chosen our favourite and were presented with a martini with those flavoured bitters.

Of all the gin joints in all the world, we were so glad we walked into this one!

Star of Bombay is available at stockists nationwide RRP£36

Carousel London, 71 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 8AB

As April draws to a close have you had your monthly quotient of baked goods? If not, never fear – hide your cake obsessions behind a great cause!.The team behind Bowel Cancer Awareness Month have teamed up with celebrity chefs to suggest some yummy treats you could get baking to raise money for their cause (go to www.bowelcancerawareness.org.uk for more information)..Get that shopping list out as we’re bringing you an exclusive delicious recipe from Deliciously Ella – it’s even got potatoes in so it’s practically healthy! .

Sweet Potato Brownies

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2 medium sweet potatoes

100g ground almonds 100g ground oats 12 medjool dates 2 tablespoons coconut oil 6 tablespoons raw cacao 6 tablespoons maple syrup Icing: 2 tablespoons of coconut oil 1 tablespoon of maple syrup 2 tablespoons of cacao 2 tablespoons of almond butter

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How to…

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180C, then peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place into a steamer for about twenty minutes, until they become really soft.

Once they are perfectly soft and beginning to fall apart remove them and add them to a food processor with the pitted dates.

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well.

Place into a lined baking dish and cook for about forty- ve to fty minutes, until you can pierce the brownie cake with a fork bringing it out dry. Remove the tray and allow it to cool for about ten minutes – this is really important as it needs this time to stick together!

While the brownies are cooling make the icing by simply melting all the ingredients together and stirring well, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes to rm up a bit. Remove the brownies from the tray, leaving it another few minutes before cutting them into squares – then spread the icing on top, dig in and enjoy!

Fresh announcements over ‘London Paramount’ – which is being hailed as the ‘Disneyland’ of the UK – has left millennials across the country drooling into their Finding Nemo breakfast cereal. If approved, construction of the world class theme park will start in 2019 for a launch in 2021, blowing the likes of Thorpe Park and Alton Towers clean out of the water.

What?

London Paramount has been described officially as an ‘entertainment resort’ with a ‘number of themed zones, with exciting rides and attractions for families, children and the more adventurous thrill-seeking visitor’. Zones include; Adventure Isle, Land of Legends, Cartoon Circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and Entertainment City.

At the heart of the resort, there will be a wide range of indoor, covered and open air experiences, including West End quality entertainment, daily parades, restaurants, cafés, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and one of Europe’s largest water parks.

Who?

You can ditch the dreams for a Space Mountain, as although the park is being called ‘Disneyland London’ – it’s absolutely no way affiliated with Disney. The park, as the name suggests, comes from Paramount Pictures, the oldest major Hollywood studio in existence, but will also work in collaboration with BBC Worldwide, Aardman Animations and the British Film Institute, with the intention to explore the right mix of British film and television with the glamour of Hollywood.

In my head, the only time British television and Hollywood glamour could work together is at a theme park. They wouldn’t even need the white knuckle rides – just Hyacinth Bucket and Mr Bean popping out from behind a barrel on the log flume and scare the living piss out of everyone.

Paramount are also responsible for films such as Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, Titanic and, wait for it… Mean Girls.

When?

Plans have been around since 2014 but it’s all starting to get very real. If approved by the Government, construction will begin in 2019 for a 2021 opening, with some attractions opening slightly later.

Where?

The park will be located on the Thames, slightly north of Swanscombe in Kent, and can be accessed from London within one hour with new transport links.

Why?

Did you not hear me say Mean Girls?

Images courtesy of Paramount.

We love a bit of quirky art here at House of Coco. So we are delighted that there are plenty of wacky and wonderful art exhibitions on in London during the last few weeks of summer. From lilting Scandi music played in each room of an old house to the iconic outfits worn by the Rolling Stones, we’ve picked out the quirkiest of them all…

Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican

‘Art is a slippery devilish thing’ – Ragnar Kjartansson

Performance artist, musician, painter and film maker, Kjartansson’s talents are brought together in this emotional and ironic exhibition. You can wander through the rooms and bump into young men lounging around on sofas, drinking beers and playing slow love songs whilst in another room, nine videos of musicians play simultaneously, all filmed over an hour in a gloriously ancient house in New York State.

If you decide to go along at the weekend, look out for two women in Edwardian costume enjoying a live four-hour kiss on a rowing boat. Yes this exhibition might take the biscuit as the maddest in town…

The Ragnar Kjartansson exhibition runs at the Barbican until 4 September 2016. Entry costs £12 for adults.

Exhibitionism at The Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

‘We came up with the perfect tongue, I think’ – Mick Jagger

Exhibitionism is a bonanza of music, clothes, videos and paraphernalia related to the Rolling Stones. In fact it is the largest exhibition of Stones memorabilia ever put together.

It focuses hugely on the great people who have collaborated with the band from Delia Smith to Andy Warhol and there is a whole room dedicated to the development of the iconic lip and tongue logo. Anyone in need of a reminder of the squalor of student life will enjoy the re-creation of the band’s shared house from 1962 complete with discarded custard creams, overflowing ashtrays and piles of dirty plates. From humble beginnings to the ruffled velvet and striped lycra (among other choice outfits) of their days of success, this exhibition is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest bands on earth.

Exhibitionism runs at the Saatchi Gallery until 4 September 2016. Entry costs from £19 to £25 for adults.

Mark Grotjahn: Pink Cosco at the Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair

‘I call my sculptures masks, but they are not masks’ – Mark Grotjahn

Pink Cosco is made up of nine huge, brightly painted bronze ‘masks’. Influenced by pop art and abstract expressionism, each ‘mask’ is immense and garish with a long tube nose and a childishly scrawled name and date.

Formed from leftover cardboard boxes cast in bronze, the leering 3D faces seem to stand like an army in the blank space of the Gagosian Gallery. They remind us of tribal masks and lurid graffiti, an unsettling and very human combination that makes it difficult not to stare.

Mark Grotjahn: Pink Cosco runs at the Gagosian Gallery in Mayfair until 17 September 2016. Entry is free.

Raqib Shaw: Self Portraits at the While Cube Gallery, Bermondsey

‘(Art) extracts every bit of existence from you – that’s the promise of the divine’ – Raqib Shaw

One of the most flamboyant, eccentric and fantastical artists of our time, Raqib Shaw is known for his paintings of opulent paradise and disturbing hell. This exhibition differs from these only in that the artist himself is the protagonist of such scenes, always with his trusty pet Jack Russell.

Each work bursts with detail and has a ridiculously fanciful name like ‘Last Rite of the Artists Ego at Shankryacharya Temple’ or ‘Self Portrait with Fireflies at the Oracle of Ridicule and Truth’. An Indian-born London-based artist, Shaw’s paintings are influenced by the Kashmiri landscapes of his childhood and the religious scenes of the Old Masters. At first glance they seem like the grandest paintings imaginable but, when you look more carefully, you begin to ask yourself whether Shaw is poking fun at the very grandeur he paints…

Raqib Shaw: Self Portraits runs at the White Cube in Bermondsey until 11 September 2016. Entry is free.