When I first moved to London some eight years ago, Camden was something of a central hub for me. I was dating a bass player whose band played in local venues like Barfly which is now painted a vibrant blue and the old Tommy Flynns which I believe is now closed.
On Friday and Saturday nights, we’d stroll into Marathon – an ordinary looking kebab shop at the front. But it was definitely not an ordinary kebab shop. There was as little room at the back where you could go for really late night jazz, played live by two guys on the sax to a crowd of people who you would never really think would be into jazz. The atmosphere on those nights was electric. There was dancing shoulder to shoulder, wooden tables with candles in the middle, wax dripping down the sides of re-purposed Jack Daniel’s bottles, and waiters swooping in and out, dodging the crowds (you could barely move) with heaped baskets full of fat, hot chips.
Picture this: So I’m just walking home from work thinking about how I’m doing such a great job at saving for this Kenya trip (the only money I spent was on my morning tea). I had my phone in my hand while I was digging for my keys just outside the door, and smack. Faceplant on the pavement (my phone, not me). Yup, cracked to bits. It’s been a good 3 years with this phone so I suppose it was time for a disaster. And a new phone. Welcome, iPhone 6 after an hour in the Apple Store…So much for not spending any money that day! (All print and notecard purchases very welcome this week… argh!)
Jorge is in Spain this weekend, so I’m going to make it a productive one and see if I can work on my etsy shop and drum up some freelance work as well as finish up a few current projects. The weather has been beautiful in London so if that keeps up, I’ll take my camera out for a spin and have a few hours in the park with my book. I may or may not do some baking too.
Ah, sun! These are the days when the winter chill starts to unhinge itself from the London air, the days when you still shiver in the shade but could sit on a bench for ages with the sun against your face. Who else has crossed the street to walk on the sunnier side this week?
Jorge was off this weekend so we decided to go out for a walk. We started in Chelsea, passing bright yellow houses, tacky pink flamingos and beautiful flowers in full bloom.
This is going to be a bit of a long post without many photos, but fascinating, so stick with me!
One cold February day in 2010, when the sidewalks were strewn with dried up leaves left over from the Autumn months, I went for a walk along the Thames. I came across a building with boarded up windows, white columns out front and a tattered roof. It looked like a place that was host to many stories – once grand, now neglected.
I took a photo, as I tend to do while I’m walking around London, and I posted it on the blog I was writing at the time – Little London Observationist. It’s been almost a year since I stopped writing there, but still, the simple post I shared in the link above continues to encourage comments.
I didn’t give the building much thought until I saw the buzz that this photo seemed to generate. The comments started to unravel the history and the stories of a place called The White Elephant on the River (which may or may not be the building in the photo. One comment suggests this is a building down the street from the famous White Elephant on the River and was possibly owned by the same person.).
I’m hoping this weekend is as beautiful as the last so I can run around the city taking photos again. On the bank holiday Monday this week, I even got my first unexpected sunburn of the year after spending hours in a t-shirt walking along the Regent’s Canal and through the park.
I went to an inspiring meeting last night in the beautiful garden of the Chelsea Arts Club with the most lovely and talented group of local London etsy shop owners who are interested in doing some pretty cool creative stuff this year. You’ll probably be hearing more about them here in the coming months.
There will also be a lot of work to do this weekend with big changes ahead, but more on that later!
What have you been up to this weekend?
Photo: A pretty place in Primrose Hill, London – Chalcot Square
Let me introduce you to the businesses in my sidebar this month!
Henry Wiltshire International For anyone like me who is easily swept up in daydreams of one day owning a house in London, this is a dangerous website to visit! It’s easy to spend far too much time clicking into properties like Sky Gardens in Nine Elms and picturing yourself waking up to that view over London with a cup of tea in your hands, the Thames flowing by below you. They’re the folks to approach if you’re interested in buying one of the new flats in the re-developed famous Battersea Power Station (how cool would that be? “Oh, I just live over the river in the Battersea Power Station…” Rolls off the tongue, right?). Eight members of their team will be taking on a challenge to run the Great Wall marathon in China next month, battling some 5,164 steps in aid of the Build Africa charity.
Throughout most of my lifetime, my dad’s been crafting garden products in his spare time: bird feeders, flower planters, butterfly houes, Little Free Library shelters. His creativity is endless. Whenever I travel back to New York to spend some time at home, my dad takes me into his “shed” to show me all of the new projects he’s been working on recently, the latest ideas half-finished creations waiting for the next coat of paint or a custom roof. Some of my favourite pieces include this nesting box (inspired by countless trips to the Greek Islands), this intricate house number sign and the classic rustic tivertons (which I would love to have in my garden if I ever have a garden). I’ve recently been giving him a hand with Pinterest and Facebook so follow along if you like!
Photo:A Tiverton birdhouse / feeder
Photo:Nesting box inspired by colours of the Greek islands
Easter morning when we were kids felt a bit like Christmas: There were overflowing Easter baskets hidden around the house to find, giant chocolate bunnies to bite the ears off of and slowly gnaw on for the following week, colourful Easter eggs to eat, family coming into town to celebrate, a delicious dinner of roasted ham, fresh homebaked bread – a whole table full of food – followed by an elaborate cake baked by my mom. Around us, the house would be decorated with Easter colours, ceramic eggs, vintage bunnies.
I haven’t been home to New York for Easter since I moved to London eight years ago. All of that is a distant memory. Some years in London, the day just passed like an ordinary day with a phone call from across the ocean. In 2012, I went egg rolling on Parliament Hill followed by a Sunday roast in the cosy Garden Gate pub in Hampstead. 2013 was a Sunday roast near the fireplace at the Builders Arms in Chelsea. Last year, Jorge and I enjoyed a Sunday lunch near the front window in Bumpkin, watching torrential rain pour down all afternoon.
This year, we decided to keep up the Sunday roast tradition and head back to Bumpkin once again. It was warm enough to sit outdoors in the covered garden, the same place we had our wedding reception last June, a place I’ve eaten probably more times than anywhere else in London. So much so that we were greeted with a lovely glass of kir royale with a big juicy blackberry perched on the rim.
We went for the set menu they were serving for Easter: a starter, main and dessert each. We shared both: a prawn cocktail and a meat board with these delicious rosemary and sea salt flat bread slices.
For mains, we both chose a roast. I went for chicken with garlic bread sauce and Jorge chose the roasted pork belly with apple sauce. Both were delicious, as usual. As you’d imagine, half of this was boxed up for me to eat for lunch today – so big!
And while the dessert menu is always tempting, we were so full we went for something light – tangy orange sorbet with a marshmallow on top. Yum!
They also had a special Easter weekend cocktail on their menu that I couldn’t resist, so I finished of with something that tasted like a completely liquid, very alcoholic Cadbury egg.
And then, like the eggs down Parliament hill, we pretty much rolled the 10 second walk home.
Happy 4-day weekend in the UK! I kicked it off with a lazy Thursday evening watching a BBC show about a World Muslim pageant in Indonesia (worth a watch!). The rest of the weekend, I’m hoping to take my camera out and about in London, read a bit more of this book, enjoy a Sunday roast and just relax!
From swarovski-covered Mercedes sightings to street art festivals to beard exhibitions, it’s been an interesting month, but full of quieter moments as well. There’s been time for magazines and tea, spring flowers, a bit of light shopping and some creative cake baking. One of the best parts was finally finishing and launching my photo notecards on etsy.
1. A bling car. March started out with a sunny walk through Knightsbridge, the home of fast cars and lots of bling. This Mercedes was parked near Harrods and was attracting quite a bit of attention as usual. It’s owned by Russian Daria Radionova who had it covered in one million Swarovski crystals.
2. Street artist Neonita at work. Stu from Inspiring City invited me out to Femme Fierce, an amazing festival in the Leake Street Tunnel that took place on International Women’s Day. Somewhere around 150 female street artists from around the world for its 3rd year. Neonita was one of my favorites.