Two Days in London

Celebration time!

We made an impromptu 1 year anniversary trip from Dublin to London on our way to a family wedding. Oh gosh I LOVE LONDON!! It’s such a bustling city, the weather was perfect and our hotel stay was just perfect. We just had a one night stay in the newly refurbished ‘The Principal‘ hotel right on the Piccadilly tube line at Russell Square, overlooking Russell Park. The location is excellent. And the bathrooms! Brass, marble and a roll-top bath and I’m 100% set. It’s currently in the midst of a soft opening so everything looks quite fresh and the staff are fabulous. I’ve never stayed anywhere with such lovely staff. There’s a nice coffee shop attached too, Burr & Co.

Welcome welcome welcome!

A welcome coffee

After checking in our first port of call was straight back on to the tube and off to London Bridge station to check out Borough Market. More specifically it was a coffee pitstop, to the Gentleman Baristas just outside the market to help himself get through the day. 4 out of 5 rating on this one. There was a queue for a little gelato spot called Gelateria 3Bis so obviously this was pitstop number 2. This one is worth a small queue so again, 4 out of 5. Pretty good start to the day! We ended up wandering around Covent Garden a few times so we popped back here after our gelato stop and went to check out the Deciem/Abnormal Beauty company little store. J’adore!

Ooh London!

Quintessentially London

Charing Cross

Oh what you come across…

DRURY LANE!!!!

The Ivy

What a beautiful day!

Guiding us towards the Gentleman Baristas

We had a 3pm booking for the Art Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood Hotel just off the Holborn tube stop. Afternoon Tea is served in the Mirror Room, a copper-hued beaut of a location. Again, epic bathrooms. That’s really how I judge a place!! We just missed the Rodin art tea by one day so we got in on the new Cubism/Pop Art theme. It was delicious and they gave us their signature Banksy concoction with a little candle to celebrate our anniversary; so lovely. It’s an exceptionally sweet afternoon tea so prepare for a major sugar rush!

Here we go!

Round 2!

Inside the signature dessert

Some more sugar was called for on our second day so we got ourselves to Belgravia to check out the Dominique Ansel Bakery and to see the queues for the Peggy Porschen Cakes. Holy crap that cookie shot with Tahitian vanilla milk is the tastiest morsel I’ve come across. Probably devoured it in 10 seconds flat. By probably I mean actually… I also tried their frozen s’more – also absolutely delicious. John got a Cuban sandwich (mainly because we had recently watched that Chef movie) and he loved it too. He was super impressed that a bakery actually sold something savoury. Yes, he’s the person that orders a cheese board as dessert. Opposites attract!!

So, this is a thing…

Peggy Porschen

Getting excited!

Current special: Strawberry Fields

Decisions, decisions!

Paris-London

Kinda talented

I’ve been waiting for this!

SO GOOD!

We also made a quick stop at the Victoria & Albert Museum, for a quick mooch around. The jewellery collection is astounding – Beyonce gifted her Papillon ring which I’m sure is worth a gazillion pounds so that’s definitely worth a look. We didn’t get too much of the museum done, more of a drive-by but I cannot wait to get back!

V&A

Stairs to nowhere

So ornate!

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Hitchin, England

Just 1.5 hours outside of London (only 1 hour by train) lies the cutest little English village, Hitchin. We tripped up to Hitchin from London to see the lavender fields in full bloom at Hitchin Lavender. We stopped off in the actual village of Hitchin for a scrumptious lunch at The Groundworks cafe, situation just next to St. Mary’s Church. There’s such a lovely village vibe here, it would be a lovely place to stop over for a night.

Hitchin Lavender is just a 5 minute drive outside of Hitchin, just after Ickleford village. It costs £6 per person and you receive a little brown bag (and some scissors) which you can fill with as much lavender as you can squish in. Hitchin Lavender is a working farm and there’s a little tea-room where you can stop off for a quick cuppa. They have 25 miles of lavender here so plenty of space to get a picture with just you in it! Currently, they also have sunflower fields right next to the lavender and they look so, so beautiful. You can cut sunflowers too and it’s 50 pence per stem. There was a bridal party taking their photos (how amazing are those pictures going to look?!) and if you need to do something along those lines then there’s a £50 professional photography charge.

Well worth a visit!

All the options!

Miles and miles…

So happy!

Bee-metropolis

Gorgeous!

My haul

Sunflower Alley

The happiest flower

AND relax!

London, England

Walk London Tube Map from Ary & Joe

Walk London Tube Map from Ary & Joe

So we had a grand plan to move to London but since fate sometimes has other plans we’re actually heading back to the balmy Aussie climate and Sydney. Yay! We did however, manage to do a little touristing about in London so I guess that’s worth a post!

One of the nicest walks we took in London was down along Southbank to Tower Bridge. We happened upon the Southbank Centre Market next to the Royal Festival Hall (Waterloo underground stop) just in time for lunch one afternoon. Handy! There are so many places to eat around here and plenty to see so it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon. There was a really cool book market on this walk and you pass by the Tate Modern too. We happened upon Borough Market (London Bridge underground) around here and must have revisited 3 or 4 more times in a number of days. Worth it! The sweet potato fries from Scotchtails were delicious and John’s coffee fix was had at the awesome Monmouth Coffee (the original is on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden) – queues out on to the street but worth the wait. Since we’re on coffee – in a world a million miles away but still on the tube was Brickwood (just across from Clapham Common) which has some seriously tasty banana and walnut bread with espresso butter (who knew?). Anyhoo…back to Borough Market and let’s just say some chocolate was had at Rabot 1745. Awesomes! The Shard is around this area and that’s one building definitely worth checking out.

Southbank Centre Market

Southbank Centre Market

The coolest book market

The coolest book market

Reminder

Reminder

Borough Market with the Shard in the background

Borough Market with the Shard in the background

London baby!

London baby!

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Reminder

Reminder

Notting Hill and Portobello Road are definite must visits in London. We unfortunately didn’t make Portobello Road for the infamous Saturday market so I guess I’ll just have to sit and watch Notting Hill again. We stopped off for some Pimm’s on a Sunday afternoon instead. Tough life!

So yes, I would live here!!

So yes, I would live here!!

Shopping in London

I’d probably say that my favourite shop to visit in London is Harrods (Knightsbridge tube) and that’s honestly fully because of the Food Hall. First stop Harrods, next stop Hyde Park to enjoy the food haul. We came across Park Close, a cute little alleyway to get you across to Hyde Park and you’ll pass by the trés cool Bvlgari Hotel on the way. Nice! Since we’re on food I’d have to say that Fortnum and Mason (Piccadilly Circus or Green Park tube) AKA mecca for tea and coffee lovers comes a close second. Amazeballs. They sell overpriced everything but it’s worth meandering here anyway. Their hampers are absolutely beautiful and they’ve a great range of tea and biscuits too. Selfridges (Bond Street tube) needs a mention. I’m currently obsessed with the Mr. Selfridge show so it was pretty cool to wander around this store. It has everything. Everything. Topshop (Oxford Circus stop) is probably worth a visit since it’s so gigantic and Liberty a short walk from here is housed in the coolest building in London. Forget Buckingham Place/may as well be an office building. Liberty is where it’s at. Just around the corner from Liberty is Regent Street – probably my favourite street for shopping in London. All the shops you could need are lining up for you on Regent Street. There’s a lovely Anthropologie which is really good for gifts and homeware. This is also where Hamley’s Toy Store is; enter at your peril… We were wandering around SoHo feeling hungry one evening and came across a place called Spuntino – I guess you could call it a bar/diner hybrid that sells some full sized meals and tapas. Pretty damn good tapas at that. And the staff were very friendly.

Hello Harrods!

Hello Harrods!

Goodies from Harrods

Goodies from Harrods

Selfridges

Selfridges

A whole block!

Selfridges – a whole block!

Loving Liberty

Loving Liberty

In all its glory

In all its glory

Regent Street

Regent Street

The Ritz, by Green Park tube stop

The Ritz, by Green Park tube stop

The Covent Garden area seems to be where every single tourist congregates in London. It’s mayhem, particularly around the Covent Garden Market. Maybe because Shake Shack is here?!! Oh and Ladurée is too – they actually want £5.40 for ONE macaron. Eh, WHAT NOW?!! They’re nowhere near that price in Sydney and that’s a damn long way from France. Just across from the market lies St. Paul’s Church with the most peaceful garden in the middle of the city. Such a nice place to chill out in the sunshine. Neal’s Yard is also around here and of course Neal’s Yard Remedies, the natural beauty/apothecary emporium.

I took in the National Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square one morning (free entry) and got to see some Van Gogh and my favourite, Monet. So lovely. It started to get unbelievably busy about 11.30am so I definitely suggest getting here as early as possible. Although everybody seems to hang around the Van Goghs and Monets anyway! The National Portrait Gallery is just behind here and they’ve an Audrey Hepburn exhibition until 18th October. Tickets were all sold out for the time we were there, sadly 😦 You can easily walk from the National Gallery down to see Big Ben and Westminster.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Entering the market

Entering the market

Inside the market

Inside the market

Old school shop

Old school shop

The garden in St. Paul's, Covent Garden

The garden in St. Paul’s, Covent Garden

Locating Neal's Yard

Locating Neal’s Yard

Neal's Yard Remedies

Neal’s Yard Remedies

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Monet's Japanese Bridge

Monet’s Japanese Bridge

Westminster and Big Ben

Westminster and Big Ben

The London Eye

The London Eye

Camden

We took a little trip to Camden Market and obvs it rained and rained. Not that that has ever stopped an Irish person in the history of ever. Honestly, we went to Camden because I wanted an açai bowl from Samba Swirl. I’ve been researching açai bowls outside of Brazil since we went there and I haven’t been able to find one that didn’t taste like bananas or water. Unfortunately this one didn’t live up to Brazilian standards either. God damn it!! It’s a problem of an obsession 🙂 Camden Market is ridiculously busy at the weekends so we also went during the week and had a lovely potter around. The surrounding area is really cool too; lots of pretty houses, small cafés and awesome graffiti. Ooh and a Whole Foods. Awesome.

Getting to Camden Market

Getting to Camden Market

Camden Lock

Camden Lock

That famous entrance

That famous entrance

Game Plan

Game Plan

Within the Market

Within the Market

Obviously had to get this pic :-)

Obviously had to get this pic 🙂

Fair enough

Fair enough

Horsing around

Horsing around

Colourful streets around Camden

Colourful streets around Camden

It's Emily!

It’s Emily!

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

Artland Road

Artland Road

Day dreaming

Day dreaming