Category Archives: London

Good-bye, Parsons Green!

I was so lucky when I first moved to London and got a little studio flat just off the Kings Road in Fulham. I fell in love with the area, and never left. Then we got our little mews house in Parsons Green, and I can honestly say that there is no other neighbourhood in London I’d rather live. It’s a truly special place.

Fulham Parsons Green Lane

Fulham Epple Road

Parsons Green has plenty of curb appeal, with endless rows of streets to wander down on a sunny day. I’ll miss spending Saturday mornings making the rounds to all my favourite shops and stops. Here’s a few in case you’re ever in the neighbourhood:

Fulham Epple Road Doors

Fulham Road Cologne and Cotton

Cologne & Cotton is the only place I’ll go for bed linens and bath essentials. I can’t resist their luxurious cotton nightwear. They stock fancy European fragrances and toiletries, and a selection of adorable children’s items – in case you’re on the hunt for a perfect baby shower gift.

Cologne and Cotton Blue Stripe Sheets

Fulham Road Nomad Books

Nomad Books is the indie bookshop that every neighbourhood in London yearns for. With a steady rotation of staff picks, there’s always a  recommendation in the window to tempt me inside. The cafe buzzes with the sounds and aroma of freshly brewed java, great with a new novel and a crumbly slice of cake.

Fulham Road Nomad Books Window

Parsons Green

Parsons Green The White Horse

Every neighbourhood in the city has its local public house. But living here we’re blessed with one of London’s most iconic pubs, The White Horse. The beer garden gets rammed in the spring and summer when the outdoor grill gets fired up, wafting the sweet smell of barbeque across the green.

Parsons Green The White Horse taps

Parsons Green The White Horse Beer

Parsons Green The White Horse Drink

Parsons Green Elizabeth King

Grocery shopping is never a chore at Elizabeth King (also known as Bayley & Sage). We’re spoiled for choice with its impressive range of fresh fruit and veg, homemade pastas and sauces, and heavenly pastries and baked goods. And we’ve never come away from here without a big, gooey hunk of cheese from the dairy case.

Parsons Green Elizabeth King Fruit

Parsons Green Elizabeth King Shopping

Parsons Green Elizabeth King Tomatoes

When it comes to health and fitness, I’ve got it pretty good in my neighbourhood. There are a slew of places to get my fitness on. For my gym kit, I go straight to Sweaty Betty. They sell comfy, stylish activewear, and they host free yoga classes in the shop several times a week.

Parsons Green Sweaty Betty Pilates Socks and Leggings

Bootcamp Pilates is an old fave. Everyone knows them by now. Sure, it isn’t the poshest or sexiest studio in London. But it’s gooood.

Parsons Green Bootcamp Pilates

Bootcamp Pilates Fulham Parsons Green

Every corner of this neighbourhood is now so familiar and feels like home. There have been many crazy dinner parties, and quiet weeknights in, and rainy Sunday mornings reading The Times with a steaming mug of tea. So it was a with a heavy heart that we packed up everything and watched the removal vans be loaded one by one. This place holds so many wonderful memories of our years in London.

Mustow Place Parsons Green Rose Red Door

Mustow Place Flat Upstairs Sitting Room

Mustow Place Sitting Room Upstairs

Moving Day Mustow Pl

Moving Day Mustow Place

Moving Van

Moving Day

Moving Day Beam Me Up To The Container

Moving Day Boxes

Moving Day Eddie Van

Moving Day Van Postcard Crazy New

Soon, all our earthly possessions will be aboard a shipping container, crossing the Atlantic to the shores of the New World. We don’t know what will happen next on our new adventure, what people we’ll meet, or good times we’ll share. The only thing we know is that we couldn’t have picked a better place on the map to spend our time in London.

Long live the Green!

Green Card Celebrations

One of the perks of marrying an American, besides the great chat and endless fun, is getting one of those coveted green card thingys. I don’t see what all the fuss is about, but my better half thought it might be novel to have one to pad his wallet. So we hit the gilded streets of Mayfair on a glorious golden morning for our prescheduled appointment at the American Embassy.

London Mount Street Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Embassy of the United States, London

Embassy of the United States, London

We arrived at Grosvenor Square and were promptly processed through a few lines, then hung out briefly in the main waiting room watching enticing American travel videos on a big screen, before our number was called. After a quick chat, everything was deemed to be in order, and the application was approved!

US Embassy Visa Success

Feeling very accomplished, we headed off to celebrate over a meal…

At my all-time favourite lunch spot, The River Cafe.

River Cafe Lunch Outside

Sipping prosecco with fresh blood orange, we attempted the universal puzzle of deciding what dishes to order.

River Cafe Lunch Menu

Which is no problem, because you simply cannot go wrong!

Insalata di Carciofi - raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Insalata di Carciofi – raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

River Cafe Lunch beer cheers

Spiedino ai ferri - chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Spiedino ai ferri – chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Piccione al forno - whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

Piccione al forno – whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

This pigeon was declared in “the top three” dishes, ever. Which, in other words, is about as good as it gets!

Dessert had to be accompanied by a frosty glass of limoncello. And even after, pleasantly stuffed, we were still reluctant to peel ourselves away from the table.

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Strolling along the banks of the Thames, we passed Hammersmith Bridge and all the grand residences lining the Lower Mall.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Riverside House

We came across The Dove, a pub we’ve been aching to visit, so we wandered in for a drink and a look around. The Dove sits right on the water, making it a popular place to watch the annual boat race.

Hammersmith The Dove

Hammersmith The Dove Front

Hammersmith the Dove Seating Inside

Hammersmith The Dove Drink

Hammersmith The Dove Rainy Day

A cosy place to while away a rainy London afternoon. And now that our days here are numbered, we are clinging to the romance of these bleak and wet days more than ever!

A Spitalfields Institution: Upstairs at the Ten Bells

Old Spitalfields Market is one of London’s oldest covered commercial markets; it’s been around since the 1600s. Each day it brings together traders selling fashion, food, antiques, and crafts. A surge of boutiques, shops and restaurants have bubbled up in the vicinity, regenerating this part of East London.

The Ten Bells sits right opposite the arched entrance to Spitalfields Market on Commercial Street. But it has a sinister history all its own. It dates back to 1666 and was the local watering hole of Jack the Ripper in the 1800s. Two of his victims used to frequent this old Victorian boozer, one of which was spotted drinking here just hours before her mutilated body was found around the corner. Not exactly the most romantic date night in London back in the day…

Ten Bells Chalk Board Menu

Ten Bells Outside

But fast forward 127 years, and people are still dying to get in. The upstairs restaurant is all the rage – classic East London gritty. You climb up the creaky battered staircase, beneath a very apt sign reading Live East, Die Young, and into a dining room lit with Tracy Emin neon and homoerotic photography.

Upstairs at 10 Bells Neon

Upstairs at Ten Bells Staircase

No thanks. I'd much prefer to Live West, Die Old.

No thanks. I’d much prefer to Live West, Die Old.

Ten Bells Upstairs

The menu is eclectic modern British. Predictable ingredients, but done in a cool, clever way.

Wood Pigeon tortellini

Wood Pigeon ravioli, crushed swede, consommé

Laugh Drink

Potato Gnocchi, Brown Shrimp, Crab, Girolles

Potato Gnocchi, Cornish Crab, Brown Shrimp

Ginger Glazed Cashew Ribs

Ginger Glazed Ribs, cashew nuts, pickled ginger

Yorkshire Rhubarb, Buttermilk Mousse with White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Crumb

Yorkshire Rhubarb, Buttermilk Mousse with White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Crumb

Ten Bells Dessert

Tummies full, we dashed fearlessly out onto the mean grungy streets of East London, the eerie glow of a Dickensian moon lighting the foggy night sky.

Ten Bells Silly Face

Spitalfields Moon

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Outside

Spitalfields Fairy Goth Mother

Ten Bells Ed London Spitalfields

Ten Bells Telephone Booth

It was a thrill to visit the dismal, macabre heart of London’s yesteryear. It proves there are still places where the grimness of history yet clings, even if only in spirit, in the drear-cloaked night.

Sea Containers

Mondrian has arrived in London!  A familiar name we all know and love. For me, the brand conjures memories of an epic stay in Miami celebrating Art Basel many, many moons ago. This one is decidedly more Southbank than South Beach, but sits proudly on the water, the mighty River Thames. Housed in part of the old Sea Containers building, the new hotel has an understated nautical theme, and vibrant river views from its new ground floor restaurant.

We went to check it out on a blazingly bright afternoon for lunch.

Sea Containers From Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge Treacy Black Felt Hat

Sea Containers Dining Room

Sea Containers Dining Room Crest We Serve

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

There’s quite a bit of seafood on the menu, which is no problem for me! We ordered a selection of starters, then shared a chicken and a sea bass.

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep's milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep’s milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with  charred lemon vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with
charred lemon vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass  with citrus, salsa verde

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass with
citrus, salsa verde

Sea Containers Lunch Apple Pie

The desserts were great, and they even let us order a crème brulee off menu.

Sea Containers Lunch Creme Brulee

Sea Containers Faces

Sea Containers Faces Smiles

The sun was setting as we finished lunch (damn you, winter days!), so we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar, Rumpus Room, for the view – and ended up staying a little bit longer than planned.

Rumpus Room Signage

Rumpus Room Area

Rumpus Room Bar

With unobstructed views across the pulsing heart of London’s business and financial district, the rooftop terrace is no doubt going to be a popular al fresco destination this spring and summer. Have fun, people!

Rumpus Room Outside Rooftop Bar

Rumpus Room View

Rumpus Room View Rooftop Thames

Rumpus Room Drinks Table

The drinks were impressive (aka exceptionally strong) and before we knew it, we were all a bit sozzled.

Rumpus Room Drinks

Rumpus Room Rooftop Silly face

The only thing I would say if you visit Rumpus Room (and you aren’t expensing it to the bank you work for) – check your itemized bill before paying. The service is attentive and pleasant, but they definitely added extra items to our check that we didn’t order. Other than that, go forth and enjoy!

All-Day London Brunch

It’s a well known fact that January is a month for New Year’s resolutions, detoxing, hitting the gym, and swearing off booze and other forms of excess.

At least for some people it is!

For me, it’s about “how am I going to get through the bore and chill of another wintery month in this great city when most of my friends are off on a wagon ride somewhere?”

So my enabler and I hit the town on Saturday chasing the perfect all-day brunch.

Pearl Bracelet

Rocking my new arm candy, an oversized pearl cuff, and bundled up in layers, I set my sights north to Marylebone. Our destination was a London brunch institution, The Providores.

Leather Leggings Marylebone

Providores Downstairs

We bypassed the communal tables of the popular ground floor Tapas Room, and headed upstairs to the bright dining room. I need lots of elbow room when I have a breakfast this good!

Grilled chorizo with sweet potato and miso hash, a soft-boiled egg, garlic labne and star anise cashew nut praline

Grilled chorizo with sweet potato and miso hash, a soft-boiled egg, garlic labne and star anise cashew nut praline

French toast stuffed with bananas and pecans, with grilled smoked streaky bacon and vanilla verjus syrup

French toast stuffed with bananas and pecans, with grilled smoked streaky bacon and vanilla verjus syrup

I’m not normally a fan of sweet and savoury combinations, but this French toast had me changing my tune on that rule, especially as the syrup was so light and not too cloying.

Although the food is wonderful, The Providores is not the type of place you can settle back and linger over a long chat and bottomless cups of coffee. It’s very busy at the weekends, and once our plates were cleared, the wait staff’s expectant eyes were upon us. We didn’t feel rushed; but there was an inherent understanding. We get the picture; so it was “check please” and we were back on the streets.

Titiana's Garden Marylebone

Church on Wyndham Place

Ginger Pig

Smily Face

Cool Guy Cool Shwood Sunglasses

Walking to Chiltern

Now what to do? We strolled for a bit, then headed for a comfy place to chill with a decent wine list, Chiltern Firehouse.

Chiltern Firehouse bar

Chiltern Firehouse Wine Drinking

Crab donuts

Crab donuts

Fried chicken with bacon aioli

Fried chicken with bacon aioli

Spicy tuna tartare deviled eggs

Spicy tuna tartare deviled eggs

Chiltern Lounging Text Messaging

We spent the afternoon lazily chatting, nibbling (and even distractedly checking BBC football scores on our mobiles) – all perfectly justified ways to waste a January Saturday.

Sometimes you just have to shrug off the virtue of moderation, and enjoy a day of self-appointed gratuity! It sure helped this lychee martini go down rather well.

Chiltern Firehouse Lychee Martini

With the day well and truly spent, we retreated from our cozy den of inequity and out into the twinkling lights of Marylebone – after the perfect all-day London brunch.

Chiltern Firehouse Outdoor Front Garden Patio Pots

 

 

Petersham Nurseries Candlelit Carols

Petersham Nurseries is one of the gems of suburban London. It’s not your typical garden center – it’s possibly the chicest, bohemian greenhouse wonderland I’ve ever encountered.

The vast grounds near Richmond were saved from developers by an Italian businessman and his Aussie wife, and they’ve since redesigned the gardens, opened a Michelin star restaurant, a rustic teahouse, and a vast garden shop full of salvaged homewares, antique furniture and vintage garden décor.

And it happens to be the premier place in town to rekindle that old-fashioned Christmas spirit!

Petersham Nurseries Teahouse

The event was a candlelit evening of Christmas carols and shopping!

Petersham Nurseries Shop

As we entered the packed dirt-floored nursery, we were handed a ticket for a free cup of mulled wine. Crumbly mince pies were also on hand to nibble as a group of singers from Barnes Choir filled the café with the beautiful harmony of Christmas carols.

Petersham Nurseries Mulled Wine Ticket

Petersham Nurseries Carols Mulled Wine Mince Pie

Petersham Nurseries Carols Sip

Petersham Nurseries Carols Santa

Petersham Nurseries Carollers

Petersham Nurseries Carols Tree

Petersham Nurseries Carols

The space was heaving with fir trees and berries, shiny red baubles, and twinkling fairy lights – it was a magical Christmas dreamland!

Petersham Nurseries Shop Plants

Still humming “Jingle Bells”, we wandered around perusing the shop! My eyes didn’t know which way to look first – left or right, up or down. Every inch of the place was covered in vintage prints, gilded mirrors, antique chandeliers, homemade wreaths, scented candles and soaps, and heaps of Christmas ornaments.

Petersham Nurseries Shop Walls

Petersham Nurseries Shopping

Petersham Nurseries Shop Putti

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles

Petersham Nurseries Shop Crocuses

Petersham Nurseries Shop Mirror Reflection

Petersham Nurseries Shop Hobnail Pitcher

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles Tree

This shop is one of my top recommendations for finding unique Christmas gifts!

And I couldn’t pick a place with more charming Christmas cheer.

Thames River Cruise

The London Thames is definitely not the place you expect to find a Mississippi paddle steamer, but that was exactly what I found myself climbing aboard the other night for dinner.

The glossy wood-panelled Elizabethan is a lovingly recreated replica of the iconic American stern-wheeled riverboats that Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher would have felt right at home on.

It picked us up at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea beneath the twinkling lights of Albert Bridge.

London Thames Albert Bridge at Night Lights

Albert Bridge

Boat Elizabethan

Boat Champagne

Glasses of bubbles in hand, everyone swept up the carpeted stairs to the spacious upper deck to mingle with old friends.

Boat Smiles Glasses

And watch the brightly lit sights of London pass by along the riverbank.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

London Eye

London Eye

Thames Eye

The Shard

The Shard

Boat Bruvs

Boat Smiles

Boat Smile Lights

After catching up with the latest news of marriages, babies, jobs, and – most importantly – football scores, we migrated below deck into the dining room for the dinner service.

Boat Talking

Boat Dinner

Boat Dinner Smiles

Boat Dinner Smile

After coffee, it was time to buckle up my dancing Choos and head upstairs where the band was kicking things off.

Boat Shoes

Boat Band 4

Boat Band

Everyone was alternating between having a boogie on the dancefloor and popping outside on the balcony to take in the views and the cool air.

A little bit of silliness may also have taken place.

Boat Smiles Buoy

Boat Smiles Us

London Thames Walk Chelsea Streetlamp

Just an incredibly relaxed evening aboard a beautiful boat surrounded by good people – let the holiday party season begin!