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

London Brunch: 202 Notting Hill

A funny thing happens when you don’t blog for months and months. You’ll be aimlessly scrolling through photos on your phone (in between mindlessly refreshing Facebook and obsessively curating your Spotify playlists), and stashed between selfies and screenshots of memes, stumble upon a forgotten set of photos, like a faint displaced memory. Since I’m currently wrapped in a duvet listening to Frank Sinatra, yearning for warm and easy summer days, I thought I’d reminisce a bit and take you with me to a dreamy brunch in Notting Hill.

Hungover, but keen to embrace the long London summer days and limbo period after classes end but before full-time work, my friend Halle and I set off in search of brunch. Another American, and sadly now back in the States, Hal is one of my best friends and a great exploring companion. She’s always up for trying a new restaurant, starting a conversation with strangers, or trekking through an unseen neighborhood, and I love her spontaneity and sense of adventure. On this day, we settled on Notting Hill and breakfast food – preferably in a picturesque setting. Not too difficult to find in this part of London.

Originally, we though we’d scope out Granger & Co, but the Notting Hill location was PACKED (pro-tip: always go early to the Notting Hill location), so we opted for a great alternative just down the road, 202.

In the heart of busy Westbourne Grove, 202 is easy to stroll by, but keep your eyes peeled for the namesake numbers and head in. On a sunny day like this one, the bright and modern space was particularly fitting.

Like Granger, there was a bit of a wait, but less overwhelming, and the queue is lined with Slim-Aarons-esque coffe table books to keep you entertained. You also might make a furry friend.

The vibe is decidedly casual, and you could show up in leggings and sneakers without shame. Packed with yummy mummies, foreign tourists and chilled out locals, 202 lacks pretension and is perfect for a no-nonsense brunch in a California cool space. I’m also just instantly smitten with any restaurant that has perfected eggs benedict….

Halle committed a cardinal brunch sin and ordered a salad, but quickly repented by adding on a side of crispy fries. The food doesn’t veer from the classics, but done well, they are always satisfying. Stuffed, but hangovers fading thanks to the healing powers of 202, we decided to traipse around Notting Hill. I mean, it’s really a London commandment: When in Notting Hill, thou shalt walk and photograph its Instagram friendly streets.

Enveloping us in its arms, the summer afternoon sun gave the shops an appreciative glow and almost distracted us entirely from the throngs of visitors along Portobello Road.

 

Notting Hill may have long ago completed its transformation from bohemian enclave to tourist destination, but it’s still worth a long, languorous visit. There are plenty of side streets lined with charming houses and scenic shops or brunch havens like 202 to escape the masses.

 

 

 

London’s Best Instagram Spot: God’s Own Junkyard

I know, I know, I’ve been extremely MIA from this weird corner of the internet. It’s a long story that involves me finishing my dissertation the day before it was due,  long summer days drunk on sun and tequila, interviewing and then being crushingly rejected from several jobs before landing my dream job, falling in love (read: lust) a thousand times on Bumble, and falling even more in love with the city of London.

Pinky swear I’ll catch you up on these chattier (aka dramatic) topics at a later date when I’m feeling a bit more poetic, but in the meantime I thought I’d woo you back with one of my new favourite places (and best spots to photograph) in London. This weekend my friend Jordan and I made a pilgrimage to an effortlessly cool, Instagram haven of neon perfection in….Walthamstow. For those of you unfamiliar with London, Walthamstow is literally east of Jesus waaayyy out in suburbia. After going to the end of the Victoria line, then taking a bus, then meandering around a cute village that felt entirely out of London, we finally found our fluorescent junkyard, God’s Own Junkyard, that is.

Eyes glued to my Google Maps app, I at first led Jordan astray and past our destination, but finally we entered our Mecca and boy was it worth it.

After a long trek with too little caffeine, I was convinced the shop would leave me disappointed. The candy-hued bonanza exceeded expectations, however, and I highly recommend you head there ASAP if you’re in need of inspiration. It inspired me to blog again, which is no small feat.

You can commission them to create a neon artwork for you, or just endlessly browse like we did. Luckily, they’re very welcoming to tourists, so you won’t feel guilty for taking photos and taking in the seductive glow. There’s also a cafe, so pull up a coffee (not too overpriced all things considered) or Coca Cola and embrace the cavalcade of color.

The kitschy, sometimes very sassy or raunchy, signs are perfect for a photo op. I call this one “me facing a Monday.” Cheeky.

Snag a spot on one of the couches and get a bit vibey.

Or take photos of your photogenic friends.

Dress (similar)

I honestly could have spent all day here, and surprisingly can’t wait to go back to Walthamstow to spend more time finessing my neon photography skills.

Coat // Loafers // Backpack

 Newly convinced that everyone looks better in a pink glow.

Pretending I’m Scarlett in Lost in Translation.

No, no I’m not.

Next time you’re in London I highly recommend making the trek to the dreamy junkyard. If you’re staying central, the commute isn’t too bad on the northbound Victoria line. No cameras allowed, but you can use a phone camera, so snap away. It’s a photographer’s dream and hasn’t yet been overrun by every basic betch looking for the perfect Instagram (I’m looking at your, Sketch).

Bring the Junkyard Home:

Valentine’s Day in London

Happy early Valentine’s Day, internet friends! In honor of the much better Galentine’s Day holiday (if you didn’t watch Parks & Rec, you can learn more about the holy day here), I decided to take myself around London on a festive little date. As Tom Haverford says, treat yourself. Lucky for me, the city is adorned with its best red and pink glitz and is almost as charming as when it’s decked out for Christmas.

To start the day, I made a pilgrimage to a famously pink palace in Belgravia that was looking even more whimsical than usual (and a bit like Cupid threw up on it – in the best way possible)….

Right around the corner from Victoria Station in swanky Belgravia, Peggy Porschen is a cake and tea shop known for its insta-famous cotton candy facade. Wrapped in flowers and balloons, the shop looked St. Valentine-approved.

The selection of sweets was just as mouth-watering as the decorations.

Since Galentine’s Day only comes once a year, I settled on a strawberry champagne cupcake for breakfast. Leslie Knope would approve.

Pink Sunglasses

Sidenote: the roses on top are not edible. I may have given them a try, since I have no restraint with food. The rest of the cupcake, however, was entirely edible and entirely delicious. After literally licking my fingers clean, I strolled around Belgravia to discover any other decorated shops. They weren’t as over the top and candy pink as Peggy Porschen, but Neill Strain Florist and Jo Malone also impressed.

Leave it to a florist to nail extravagant romance.

Belgravia is pretty residential and full of quintessential London row houses that I can’t afford.  Sadly, I did not bump into any future first husband potentials while stalking the mansions. Before I could get too depressed by all the fabulous, over-priced real estate, I headed to Mayfair to scout out more of the V-Day spirit.

While there were plenty of chic storefronts that ALMOST made me want a boyfriend, Fenwick on Bond Street was the showstopper.

How fantastic are those balloons? Can I have them for my next birthday party? They also reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Up, which honestly tells one of the best cinematic love stories in its first 10 minutes.  It was the perfect fanciful stunner to cap off Galentine’s Day.

While it’s no Galentine’s Day, tomorrow I’ll likely be spending Valentine’s Day again with my two great loves: food and London. Hope yours is filled with lots of love!

Shop my Valentine’s Day favorites:

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