American Vs British English: Shopping Words!

Happy Sunday, guys! I spent my morning window shopping on Oxford Street (somehow managed to resist Topshop’s siren call), which inspired this video. London is a shopaholic’s heaven, from Bond Street, to markets, to vintage stores in Shoreditch, and there are a few key vocab words to know if you’re American. While both countries speak English, there are some key vocab differences when it comes to clothing and shopping. Check it out, so you can fill your bags and add to your London wardrobe with ease.

Band tee:

Bum Bag:
Tank top/Vest:
Mini backpack:
Nike Trainers:
Ballet flats:

Shopping in London: American vs British English Words

My 2018 London Bucket List

My 2018 London Bucket List

Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions for 2018, I thought I’d do something a bit more active (re: I didn’t want to get introspective and psychoanalyze myself more than I already do), and instead craft a 2018 London Bucket List.

When I originally moved to London as a student (more on that here), I rarely had classes scheduled all day, so was fortunate enough to have plenty of free time to fill. This meant lots of exploring the city, embracing my inner tourist, and taking in a smorgasbord of major landmarks – cultural, historical, or instagram famous.

Since I’ve started working full-time, however, I obviously am only free on weekends to roam this beautiful city and need to make more of an effort to still adventure outside my day-to-day bubble. I figured this bucket list might hold me accountable (so I don’t disappoint my internet friends!), and even give you ideas for things to do when you next visit London.

Have a lazy Sunday roast

For someone pretty obsessed with my next meal, I’ve surprisingly not had one of the most quintessentially British meals of all – the Sunday roast. With the winter days so damp, cold and dreadful, now is the perfect time to seek refuge in a pub for a long supper swimming in gravy.

Wander the Tate Modern

I loved the Tate Britain when I finally visited in December, so visiting its sister is a must. There’s a Picasso exhibition on in the spring, so may be the perfect excuse.

Ride through Hyde Park on a Santander cycle

A few weekends ago I disastrously attempted to cycle to and then around Richmond Park with my housemates (aka avoided several near misses with oncoming traffic). I think a breezy afternoon bike ride on a free Santander cycle around scenic Hyde Park may be more my speed.

Dive into Hampstead Heath

Come summer time, I am full on cannon-balling into this swimming pond.

Sink pints at the Churchill Arms

I’m determined to get my drink on at one of London’s most beautiful pubs. I’ve walked by and gawked plenty of times, but have yet to hole up inside with a choice IPA.

Picnic on Primrose Hill

Always down to take in some of the best views of London with a cute packed lunch as accompaniment.

Spend a summer night at The Globe

When I visited London back in 2014 we saw Titus Andronicus at The Globe (people fainted from the gore! hardcore!), but I haven’t been back since moving here. I am a theater nerd, so slipping back into Shakespeare’s world while watching top dramatic talent would be ideal.

Consume too much curry in Whitechapel

Again, with the food. I’ve tried legendary curryhouse Tayyab’s, but am keen to venture to other outposts like Needo. London does curry so right.

Boogie at a London music festival

Last summer I donned some glitter face paint and experienced my first UK music festival at Love Box. Very fun, thanks mainly to a Frank Ocean set I’ll never forget, but not quite Coachella levels of mindblowing. I’m headed to a fest in Croatia this summer, but would like to branch out here on English soil.

Tour Buckingham Palace

Ok, who else is obsessed with The Crown? The show has converted me into biggest royal family devotee, so I’m keen to tour Her Majesty’s abode ASAP.

Find floral heaven at Kew Gardens

Just outside the city, Kew’s floral oasis is supposed to be stunning. Perhaps I’ll visit around Christmas when it’s all aglow with fairy lights.

Experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Confession: I wrote myself a Howgwarts acceptance letter in 5th grade on parchment paper that I made myself. The muggle struggle continues, so I finally need to make the trek to the studio tour here and fully nerd out, Hermione-style (yes, I cried when they cast Emma Watson instead of me in the role).

Taste my way through Borough Market

Some of my favourite London restaurants are in Borough Market in Southwark (check out El Pastor or Padella if you’re in the area), but I’ve yet to really taste the market itself. With countless vendors offering the finger-licking goods, the market is at the top of my foodie to-do list.

See a ballet at the Royal Opera House

Growing up consumed by dance and even once in a ballet company, I’ll always have a wistful soft-spot for the art form. I definitely need to book a show at the world-famous theater in Covent Garden.

Climb to the top of St. Paul’s

Another London icon that I surprisingly haven’t experienced yet. You can hike up the stairs to the top of the cathedral, and I think 2018 is the perfect year for me to go and pay my respects to this icon.

Cheers the city from the roof of Madison

Once summer hits London, the sorely missed sun and long hours of daylight mean Londoners are constantly outside, preferably with rose in hand. Once temps have risen and the clouds have parted, you’ll be able to find me at one of the many chic rooftop bars, preferably Madison, taking in the world’s best (IMHO) skyline.

Escape London for a day in the country

I could spend years discovering London, but I can’t forget about the rest of England! So many cities are within a short train journey from the city, so I need to get better about venturing outside the Big Smoke. Cornwall, the Cotswolds, Cambridge, Cumbria and many more are on my list.

Thank you for stopping by – do you have any favourite or iconic London spots/things to do I should make a point to do in 2018?

London Essentials:

Covent Garden Christmas – Vlogmas Week 1

Covent Garden all decorated for Christmas in LondonHey team! I’m participating in Vlogmas for the first time this year over on Youtube! Well, sort of half-way vlogmas, as I have a full time job and can’t film daily. No one wants to just watch me wake up, ride the tube, work, ride the tube home, eat, watch Blue Planet, then go to bed. So, a weekly vlog it is!

As London celebrates Christmas on steroids, I’m trying to do something festive every week  in the lead-up to Christmas, and this week I went to Covent Garden and took in all the baubles and bows – while copiously sipping mulled wine of course. So why not bring all my Internet friends along for the (sleigh) ride? Heh. Also have a chatty little update in case you’re interested in the half-way entertaining saga that is my life.

Covent Garden in London at Christmas

I’m starting to get verrrrrry festive – currently listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and researching a Christmas market to visit this week. All to hopefully vlog of course. Thanks for stopping by, and I can’t wait to share more videos and Christmas posts with you!

London’s Best Christmas Lights

Christmas is in full swing here in London (I guess that’s what happens when you live in a country that doesn’t care about Halloween or Thanksgiving), and the Brits have already gone full Buddy the Elf mid sugar high. Usually we Americans tend to be the most obnoxious and excessive when it comes to, well anything, but with Christmas, the UK has us firmly beat. They are OBSESSED here. I really can’t complain, though, because London is an absolute wonderland to experience around Christmastime. Think streets adorned with lights, markets on every corner, and mulled wine in every gloved hand.

London's Best Christmas Lights - Some of my favourites at Cartier on Bond Street

On Monday this week, instead of my usual routine of work, tube, dinner, Gogglebox, mindless scrolling, bed (thrilling, I know), I decided to meet up with some friends from my master’s programme and take in the city at its most festive. We pranced around Central London in the thankfully fairly mild weather, took in some of my favourite lights, and finished the evening off like all true Londonders do – with cocktails. How else are we supposed to stay warm in damp and chilly England? I vlogged the evening, so grab a hot chocolate, put on your snuggie, and check out the best of London’s Christmas lights with me!

London's Best Christmas Lights - a local's favourite spots to see in the city

My Top Tips for Visiting Westminster Abbey

Glasses // Shirt // Jacket

Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most visited sites and with good reason. It’s historic, awe-inspiring and quintessential England – it’s truly one of my favorite places in London. While it’s frequented by millions of tourists, unfortunately many visitors don’t get the most out of their visit to the Abbey or simply stop for a quick selfie outside. I did a thorough tour in 2014 and walk by the Abbey at least once every day, so I wanted to share my top tips for visiting, straight from the mouth of a London local. Enjoy and be sure to caption an instagram with #WestminstagramAbbey or #WestminsterCrabby (Only true Mary-Kate and Ashley/Winning London fans will get that last masterpiece).

Getting There
The Abbey is located literally smack dab in the center of London. Westminster tube station is the closest, but Waterloo and Charing Cross are also very much within walking distance. Multiple buses serve the area, and I like how you can look out the window and get the lay of the land, however I’d get off a few stops before the Abbey and walk to the destination as the area is highly congested.  Also check beforehand and see if any events or demonstrations are scheduled for Parliament Square, as there may be road closures and unexpected crowds. Travel for London has an excellent Twitter account with updates (follow here).

Go Early
As much as I enjoy a lie-in and a late brunch of the waffle or eggs benedict variety, you’re going to want to set your alarm and get to the Abbey in its opening hours. It opens at 9:30 on most days (opening times here), so not too dreadful, but beat the crowds and queues by arriving in the morning. The surrounding area will also be less crowded, so better for taking photos in front of the Abbey, London Eye and Big Ben. Suck it up and down those Americanos! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in an hour long wait with groups of school children and every other tourist in London.

Nope, that’s not the Abbey
Well I may sound like Captain Obvious, Big Ben is not attached to Westminster Abbey. It’s a common misconception, but that large beautiful building with the two towers, that yes does look a lot like Westminster Abbey, is actually the houses of Parliament. This is where the UK legislature is housed. So don’t make the rookie traveler mistake of mislabeling it in your insta photos like I may or may not have a few years ago #amateurhour

Big Ben and Parliament #notwestminsterabbey

Book the Verger Tour
There are two official tour options once you enter the Abbey – a self guided audio tour and the Verger tour. Please, for the love of travel everywhere, book the Verger tour. It’s only five pounds more than the audio tour and eons away in quality. You’re led through the Abbey by a very knowledgeable guide, and groups are kept to 10 people max – so very intimate. Best of all, you get to see areas of the Abbey like Edward the Confessor’s tomb, the Cloisters, and the Nave which are NOT open to the public and audio tours. VIP, baby!  The experience was one of my all-time favorites in London. For only a 5 pound price increase, you won’t be disappointed. Definitely book in advance here.

Budget Time to Explore 
Once the tour is finished, don’t rush outside to your next destination (likely the pub)! Explore the Abbey in all its grandeur and take your time to take in each nook and cranny. There are so many Harry Potter esque halls, courtyards, arches, etc. that will transport you through time or make you feel a little like a royal (or wizard). You’ve paid for admission, now get the most of it!

Forget Your Camera
Sad news for the photography or vlogging obsessed, but photography and videography are not allowed inside the Abbey. You can take plenty of snaps of the intricate and awe-inspiring exterior, but I’d leave the clunky DSLRs at home for this tour. You won’t be able to use them. Just take it all in and commit the stunning historical interiors to memory the old fashioned way.

See it from a new angle
While you’ll  want to tour the Abbey early in the day, I recommend returning at sunset, dusk and after dark to enjoy it from a new perspective – and with dope new lighting. Some of my favorite personal photos of the Abbey were taken just before nightfall. The street lamps give it that quintessential spooky London glow. Also be sure to explore and photograph the Abbey from every angle. It’s such an immense and detailed structure, so you’re bound to find pleasant little surprises and ways of enjoying it beyond the typical entrance shots.

Feels like Sherlock Holmes is bound to come running around the corner chasing a mystery.

Avoid nearby pubs
You’ll be smack in the middle of a major tourist zone, so any nearby pubs are usually overpriced, serve average (at best) food, and are prone to theft. Walk a bit further to the Covent Garden Area to the East or Pimlico to the West for better quality options or more local haunts. I love Cross Keys and Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden.

Want to see the Abbey for free?
Shhhh – want to know a well-kept little secret of most big churches in Europe? Want to see them for free? You may not get the entire tour and see every thousand year old relic and antiquity, but go to the Abbey for evensong, and you can take in all its glory without paying a dime (or pence).  Evensong is a daily mass and choral service, open to the public at the Abbey. The music is beautiful, and you don’t need to be religious to enjoy the feast of sound and sights. Simply line up at the Abbey’s West door 30 minutes prior and enjoy! A schedule is here, but evensong is usually at 5PM on weekdays and 3PM on weekends.

Enjoy your visit to the Abbey and let me know in the comments if there are any other London attractions or tips you’d like me to share!

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