Instagramable Moments: July 2014

I know I say this every month, but how quickly did July fly by? It’s been a scorcher here in London, a proper summer this year. It’s been a whole month since our wedding, we’ve said goodbye to our guests and settled into everyday life and honeymoon planning. After much deliberation, we’ve booked our trip to the Caribbean for about 10 nights in October – to St. Lucia. Any recommendations or tips on where to stay, what to do, places to eat, etc are highly appreciated! In the meantime, on Friday next week, we are jetting up to Sweden for the weekend for a few days in Stockholm which will be a first for me. My new lens is in for a workout. Can’t wait to give it a whirl in a new city.

But first, a look back at July through instagram:

1. A sleepy cat. When Oakley’s not tearing up paper floor lamps and chasing flies that have slipped through the open Summer windows, he’s a cute sleeping pile of fluff. He seems to fall into dreamland in any direction he happens to be twisting when his eyelids start to droop. This was one of my particular favourites. It would take some serious yoga skills for any human to feel comfortable like this.

Oakley

2. Afternoon tea at The Ampersand. This one is a bit of a #latergram by a few days! The day before the wedding, we met for an afternoon tea at The Ampersand in South Kensington with some of our friends and family who had bought plane tickets and jouneyed from far off destinations to celerbrate with us. This is me with two of my best friends from New York – Tara and Tara. Tara on the left I met at university and Tara on the right I’ve known since we were about 4-years-old. The three of us have many great memories and it was amazing to have them both in London with me at the same time for the first time.

drawing rooms ampersand

3. After the ceremony, before the party. Another #latergram. My friend Ewelina took this photo of Jorge and I after the ceremony finished while we were waiting for a quick shower to pass so we could go outside and throw confetti. Isn’t he so handsome in his bowtie? It was such a beautiful day and this little break was what we needed before the party began. We wandered the back streets of Chelsea for a bit taking photos with the photographers, but Ewelina’s shots turned out just as pretty.

wedding

4. First after-wedding photo. There were thousands of photos taken the day of our wedding. I’m planning to share a few with you in a wedding post – maybe next week, if you’re interested? This was the first taken of us, married without the wedding attire. My parents stayed on a few days, so we went out for a Lebanese lunch with them at the new(ish) Comptoir Libanais in Sloane Square. After lunch, I took my mom into Zara (she’d never been!) and then we all took a wander along the river before saying goodbye. The next day we went back to work and they went off to the Greek islands for two weeks…!

Little Observationist

5. Anthropologie. It’s so dangerous to have an Anthropologie shop just around the corner. While I don’t often buy clothes there, I’m always snooping around the kitchen section eyeing up all of the pretty bowls and tableclothes and napkins. One of our wedding presents was a gift card to spend there, so we had fun with that one. The shop is, of course, a bit overpriced (example – I bought a card there for £4 and then found the same exact one in the Chelsea Physic Garden gift shop for £2.50) but I still love it. It’s fun to look at the creative displays around the shop as well. It makes me want to buy a house… some day!

Anthropologie

6. Stumper & Fielding. One Sunday, Jorge and I ventured over to the colourful streets of Notting Hill. Sunday is a great time to walk down Portobello Road when the market stalls aren’t there (at least if you’ve experienced the chaos of the market as many times as I have) and we were two of only a few people in the lovely Stumper & Fielding. It’s a shop that sells mostly men’s stuff  - classic British style with a contemporary twist – but some we both love it. I took photos while we were there so I could write a guest post on Jorge’s blog earlier this month.

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7. A yellow door. The real reason I wanted to go to Notting Hill that day we went into Stumper & Fielding was to find this yellow door with the blue brick walls and creative number sign. I saw a photo of it on Flickr ages ago and wrote it down in the little to do list I keep on my phone. It’s a long list of little things I want to see before I one day inevitably leave this city. It seemed a good day to tick it off so we ventured out to find it so I could take a photo of my own. I love a good colourful door, don’t you?

yellow door notting hill

8. A morning in the park. I know I’m always sharing photos of my weekend mornings in the park, but with St. Luke’s Gardens and its beautiful rose gardens across the street, it’s become my favourite way to kick off a sunny Summer Saturday. First, a trip to Paul for a gourmandise and an English breakfast tea with milk and one sugar to go. Then, swing by Waterstones on my way back toward the park. This trip resulted in a Caitlin Moran book, a few Stockholm guides to make plans for next weekend and a card to write to my grandma. It’s a drawing of our street – how cool is that? Armed with goodies to keep me entertained, I sprawl out on the grass for an hour or so. Bliss.

park

9. The simple things. Oakley loves to spread himself out on top of anything and everything that I’m working on at any given moment. Sometimes this involves walking over my keyboard and sending emails before I finish writing them or closing all my windows. Other times it means curling up right in my magazine pages. This Sunday, he felt content to watch me from across the table, drifting in and out of kitten slumber. He turned 6 months old on Monday this week. He’s grown a ton!

Oakley

10. The Chelsea Physic Garden. On one of Jorge’s working weekends, I spent an afternoon at the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden. It was a spontaneous visit that came about on an early morning walk, following the direction a random cat that walked out in front of me because I had no other plans in mind. It rained briefly during the 20 minutes I spent inside the greenhouses and I enjoyed watching the water run down the glass roof while I was surrounded by tropical plants and warmth. I was surprised how many they had there from the Canary Islands which reminded me of visits to Tenerife!

chelsea physic garden

11. Oakleys “helping” with the blog. Oakley just loves attention. He wants to be part of everything, though he gets cranky with too much touching. This afternoon he just sat there watching me while I put together a blog post (which I’ve actually scheduled out a few weeks from now, so you know what’s coming. Eventually he fell asleep with his head on the keyboard so I switched to reading for a while. He’s definitely taken over ruling the flat as he sees fit…!

Oakley

12. Evans & Peel Detective Agency. Not far from my office, there’s a hidden little place down a side street in Earl’s Court with a 1920′s prohibition vibe. It’s called Evans & Peel Detective Agency. You ring the bell, the “detective” comes to let you in and takes you to a basement “office” with 1920′s decor. He writes down your “case” and asks a few questions to gather clues. We made up one about a missing person. Then he leads you through a revolving bookcase into the cocktail lounge/restaurant. We went after work one night with Dimple and Monty. I got a “Wobbling Journalist” to drink with a suggared orange peel. Terrible light for photos though!

evans and peel detective agency

13. A new lens. Meet my new toy!It’s been a long time since I’ve invested in a new lens – a few years probably. The ones I was using currently didn’t give me too much flexibility. I was shooting up close or I was shooting with a long zoom. This one is going to be brilliant for everyday and has a pretty wide range to work with. The only downside so far is that it’s a bit heavy so I’ll stick with my little Lumix for nights out and any time I’m not carring a big enough bag.

canon lens

14. A mid-afternoon tea break. Walking around central London can be hard work, especially in this heat, so Jorge and I thought we deserved a tea break the other day after an few hours of shopping. We went to check out The Riding House Cafe which was on my list, but it was jam packed with a 20 minute wair for a table. So we crept back around the corner to this tiny little branch of Workshop (more of a coffee bar than a cafe) in Fitzrovia. It had a bit of an awkward atmosphere as there is only room for about 10 people and you’re all looking at each other on sofas with itty bitty low tables but the drinks and sandwich we shared were great.

tea at workshop

15. A Liberty London ice cream van. Parked on Regent Street just outside of All Saints, we stumbled upon this lovely Liberty print ice cream van just after our trip to Workshop – how cool is that? Sadly we were too stuffed full of lunch to indulge but definitely going to get one next time I’m in the area if it’s still there. I think all ice cream vans should be covered in Liberty prints. How much prettier would Summer be? At least the millions that drive down my parent’s street all summer with their sill ice cream van songs…

Liberty London ice cream van

16. The London Wetland Center. I spent hours walking the pathways that wind through the peaceful meadows and bogs of the London Wetland Center in Barnes last weekend. It was one of the hottest, sunniest days of the year. The best part? The Peacock Tower that looked out over the whole property. These guys were at the entrance. I’ll share some photos on the blog soon!

london wetland center

17. Homemade scones. On Sunday, I thought it would be nice to relax with a cream tea in the afternoon. I decided to dig out a recipe and make an attempt at baking my own scones to smother in clotted cream and strawberry jam. Turned out to be a good idea – They were gigantic because I couldn’t find a smaller circle cutter, but tasty nonetheless. I’ll post the recipe on the blog eventually. Stay tuned!

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For more, follow me @LittleObservationist!

My #BestSummerEver Bucket List

As you probably know by now, I have a long and continuously updated “bucket list” in the notes on my phone. While much of it has to do with travel, there’s plenty all around London too, from free stuff like finding that yellow door in Notting Hill to a few bits and pieces that are more on the expensive side.

Malibu contacted me the other day to see if I’d like to be part of their #BestSummerEver campaign that kicks off with a reality YouTube series in which they send a group of friends around Europe for 40 days on a quest to complete challenges.

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I’m not going to Europe with them, but I’m going to have some amazing London experiences that have been on my list for a long time! They’ve asked me to come up with my own personal Summer bucket list within a budget of £1,000. So that means, some of those more expensive London bits that are on my wish list? Malibu’s going to be awesome and help me make those happen.

Jorge is being “dragged” along for the ride, so together we carefully concocted a classy list that we’re going to have the pleasure of fulfilling over the rest of the summer.

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And so, I give you our #BestSummerEver bucket list:

  1. A NIGHT AT THE ZETTER TOWNHOUSE & COCKTAILS. Deciding which hotel to stay at on our wedding night was a toss up between The Ampersand in South Kensington (where we ended up staying) and The Zetter Townhouse. This little gem has been on our radar for a while. We love accommodation with quirky decor (like Hotel Fox in Copenhagen, the Airbbnb Art House in Amsterdam and The Platine in Paris). The Zetter Townhouse is right up there on that list and the perfect place for a little staycation in Clerkenwell. The cocktail lounge decor is brilliant as well, so we will look forward to taking advantage of that while we’re there.
  2. DINNER AT THE LEDBURY. With 2 Michelin Stars under its belt, The Ledbury is sure to impress, right? This Notting Hill gem has been on my list for a long time as well. An 8-course tasting menu at £110 a person (or £180 with wine) is definitely not an everyday experience. The pictures of the food look incredible and the reviews back up their amazing reputation. Fingers crossed we can find an open night to book a reservation.
  3. SWAN LAKE BALLET AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to a ballet and Jorge and I have never been to one together. What better than Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House for a classic night out in Covent Garden? I’ve never actually been to the Royal Opera House to see the interior in all its splendour either, so that will also be a first!
  4. DINNER AT HIBISCUS. Another one of London’s restaurants that holds 2 Michelin Stars and is said to be one of the 50 best in the world, Hibiscus is headed up by French chef Claude Bosi. It’s also the first restaurant to receive 6/6 stars from Time Out! I first heard about Hibiscus through TRULY who sent us to Ametsa for an amazing lunch. Hibisus is another one of the experiences they offer. I’m looking forward to some crazy taste combinations and some colourful photos at their restaurant in Mayfair. 
  5. AFTERNOON TEA AT CLARIDGES. Another one in Mayfair, Claridges has been serving their traditional afternoon tea for 150 years. That’s a lot of afternoon tea so they must have it down pat. I have heard good things about the Second Flush Muscatel Darjeeling tea and I’m sure the pastries and scones are incredible. It’s one of those things you just have to do at least once if you’re going to be in London and suddenly have an opportunity, right? 

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Depending on whether it’s possible to get reservations to some of these, considering how far in advance they book up, I may end up swapping one or two for a different experience, but at the moment, this is the list!

What would you put on your best summer ever list? 

NOTE - I work with brands selectively because I want to make sure that Little Observationist is full of authentic content and this campaign will open plenty of doors for creating new posts! Funny enough, my shelves have always been stocked with Malibu. It was my drink of choice for a long time and has been the fuel for many happy and crazy memories, so I’m genuinely happy to be involved with this one!

Interview: Sam Peacock

Sam’s work is an exploration of texture and colour. It reminds me of the gritty city areas I like to photograph – the peeling paint, the rusty buildings, the areas that are slightly run down and dilapidated. There’s a certain beauty in the decay, hiding volumes of stories from the lives that have passed through. There are stories in Sam’s art as well. He builds layers upon layers, mixing industrial materials with the more organic, everyday ingredients of life, creating colours from pigments drawn from coffee grounds and demerara sugar. In August, he’ll be involved in a joint exhibition of work with Roy’s People in the new Seven Dial’s Cafe inside Timberyard in London’s Covent Garden. 

Sam PeacockPhoto from the Timberyard exhibition: liquorice, demerara, arabica, carbolic soap, paraffin wax, gloss and oil on a steel plate

LO: Hi Sam. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
SP: Hi Stephanie. I’m originally from a town called Rugby, known for its cement, high concentration of pubs and radio station (now declassified). My home is with my family in Wimbledon, I’m a midlander through and through. I was a teacher, but circumstances in one’s life can alter your perspectives, so now art is my work full-time.

sam peacockPhoto: From the Blaxland collection

LO: You’re exhibiting work this August with Roy’s People. Where and when is the exhibition and what can we expect?
SP: The exhibition is opening on Wednesday, August 6th at The Timberyard in Covent Garden. You can expect some epic abstracted landscapes from me. You will have to ask Roy what he’s showing. Eleni will curate the show. She is organising the event alongside the Timberyard. It’s a good space with lots of corners and angles. This won’t be the last time you see us two working together either. We are both represented by the Curious Duke Gallery, so that helps. We talk about art a lot. The show represents where we are at this point in time.

sam peacockPhoto: From the Katoomba collection

LO: If you didn’t have an example to show to someone you just met, how would you describe your work to them?
SP: I use steel primarily as a template to work on as this conveys heat. Materials are all referenced and not a random event and are, I guess, a nightmare vision of what we all might inherit. Colours and textures are combined. Two main colours are split with a dividing line. Reds are always the easiest colour to work alongside. Blues take a long time to get used to as far as my work goes.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 17.26.45Photo from the Timberyard exhibition: liquorice, demerara, arabica, carbolic soap, paraffin wax, gloss and oil on a steel plate

LO: How have your travels influenced your art?
SP: They do so enormously. My first solo show was in Sydney, Australia. It was all based around arid landscapes, burned environments and the Victorian architecture crumbling underneath new investment. Australia has always held a great place in my heart. My wife is from a town called Blaxland. I do a lot of work when I’m there, mentally and physically. Bush walks are everything to me over there. We carried on the Australia theme into the London solo show last year at the Curious Duke Gallery where we exhibited a series of unseen landscapes, directly linked to the parts of the landscape you have to dig out and find. We had been planning it the best part of the year.

Sam PeacockPhoto: From the Kurringai collection

LO: When did you first start painting and why? How has your style changed over the years? 
SP: I was awful academically. There was too much going on in my head. I had a total inability to concentrate. This followed me right through uni….I think this answer is too truthful all of a sudden. The best experience of painting besides in my studio was doing BTEC Art and Design course at Rugby College. That course is for everyone. I’m an advocate of post 16. It was my field for years as a teacher. It can become salvation if taught and nurtured correctly.

Why do I paint? Does anyone really know why? Can anyone honestly say why they paint? It’s the best thing next to having a family that I ever did.

The material consistently evolves without ever really changing. I like the use of fire and heat and making something with my hands that people can admire and talk about. Most of these people I’ll never meet. I have fallen in and out of love with art more times that I’ve broken bones. Before all this started, I played drums for a living and worked in a pub, so it’s a constant evolution.

Sam PeacockPhoto from the Timberyard exhibition: liquorice, demerara, arabica, carbolic soap, paraffin wax, gloss and oil on a steel plate

LO: What materials do you use in your painting? What has been the most unusual? Is there something you have in mind that you’d like to experiment with sometime?
SP: I’ll let you in on a secret. Am working with lead and gold at the moment. All under wraps. Nothing is that unusual anymore. The liquorice seems to get people discussing more than most. I’m probably known for burning coffee too.

Sam PeacockPhoto: From the Mudgee collection

LO: How do you start your day? And what do you do to wind down in the evening?
SP: With my girls. I’m a modern man and take my daughter to school. I kiss my wife and tell her I love her, checklist everything for work and I’m in the studio by 9.30 working solidly and alone until 2.30pm. I keep the fire at bay. Then I’m off to collect my daughter from school. I make dinner, play with Barbie dolls, then do all the bedtime routine stuff. Then I have some time to spend with my wife and read.

Sam PeacockPhoto: From the Mudgee collection

LO: Share three little everyday things that make you happy.
SP: Apart from being with my family, creating a good colour from scratch. And I know it sounds a bit sad, but getting a pasta sauce correct. And Franziskaner beer.

Sam PeacockPhoto: From the Newtown collection

LO: As an artist, you’re constantly stimulated visually, but what inspires your other senses?
SP:
Smell:  Garlic
Taste: Italian food
Sound: Musical scores. Everything from Howard Shore to Lalo Schifrin.

sam peacockPhoto from the Timberyard exhibition: liquorice, demerara, arabica, carbolic soap, paraffin wax, gloss and oil on a steel plate

LO: What’s your favorite London discovery?
SP: Oh, it’s all been discovered. However, there is a great place in Merton called Abbey Mills market and the Wandle trail. Well worth a Sunday.

Thanks Sam!

Check out Sam’s website for more and you can follow along on Twitter and Facebook too. 


 

From the exhibition press release: Sam Peacock has developed a portfolio concerned with trade routes and London’s Docklands. Working on sheets of reclaimed steel, Peacock layers paint, Timberyard’s brand of Has Bean Coffee and demerara sugar and liquorice in his Ironsea series. These layers are then scraped back and roasted to allow the natural materials to bubble and discolour in an evolving landscape that is enclosed in varnish. This collection of work focuses on the journey of these imports from their far flung homes to the UK’s South Coast ports and London’s Docklands, seen in the linear demarkation of the steel sheets split into two horizons in both colour and texture. Peacock’s Ironsea series embodies the arrival and dawn of coffee shop culture. Exhibition runs 6th August – 31st October 2014.

 

Little Weekend Links 35

My new toy arrived – a fabulous new lens that I can take on honeymoon. I have a few at the moment but this one is more of a everything lens. I took it out once and despite it being a bit heavy I love it. Can’t wait to go out and practice with it a bitover the next few days. It looks like it will be a beautiful weekend too. We’re being treated to a proper summer this year. Last weekend, on a mission to sort out some honeymoon shopping before AW14 hits the shops, Jorge and I discovered a new El Ganso on King’s Road. That street is becoming more dangerous by the minute. We also managed to find outselves in the middle of Regent Street which is gloriously traffic free during weekends in July. I spotted this pretty Liberty ice cream van, though I was too full after our tea and lunch at Workshop in Fitzrovia to indulge. I did have a ‘William <3 Kate gelato’ (pear and chocolate chip) from the Chelsea Farmer’s Market later in the week. We also went out to dinner at our favorite cheap and cheerful local, The Stockpot on King’s Road and split a Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough in the cinema while watching Belle. This weekend might involve swimsuit shopping, possibly a trip to Brixton market and the London Wetlands Centre which has been on my list for a while. Or East. Always an adventure. Let’s see!

What are you up to this weekend? Any fun plans?

Liberty LondonPhoto: The Liberty ice cream van on Regent Street, London

Here are some links for you:

Enjoy the weekend!

Recipe: Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread always takes me home to New York. Not just because it’s zucchini bread and not “courgette bread” but because the smell is full of memories of freshly baked goodies waiting in the kitchen when my brother and I came home from school. It was always one of my favourites. Of course, when I came to London, I copied down the recipe. I like it best just out of the oven, the teeniest bit still gooey inside. (And no, it doesn’t taste like zucchini, if you were wondering. It’s sweet!)

Note: You can use two loaf tins or make one bigger square cake in an 8×8 or 9×9 pan, which is what I did with this one. Just keep an eye on the baking time. It’s ready when a toothpick comes out just clean.

zucchini bread recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 31/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups peeled and grated zucchini
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla

zucchini bread recipe

Preheat the oven to 350F / 176C.

I always start by washing, peeling and grating the zucchini.

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Set the zucchini aside and in a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and oil.

zucchini bread recipe

Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla.

zucchini bread recipe

Fold in zucchini and raisins.

zucchini bread recipe

Pour into a pan and pop into the oven for about 50-55 minutes.

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Best served warm.

zucchini bread recipe

Enjoy!

Chelsea Physic Garden: A Lush London Oasis

Sundays are meant to be slow days, un-rushed, a bit lazy. The best ones leave room for spontaneous plans. Like visits to The Chelsea Physic Garden.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

One Sunday, Jorge’s working weekend, I set off to Paul for my morning English breakfast tea with one sugar and a splash of milk. There’s something about a having a little morning habit to look forward to that starts the day off right.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The sky was bright blue by 8am with a few wispy clouds and plenty of plane trails heading to and from Heathrow. The park was welcoming but still quiet, flowers swaying under early sun rays in a slight Summer breeze. I had the whole day ahead for some quality me time.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

I thought I’d take a walk, wander through the back streets off of King’s Road, staying between the high street that was still empty of shoppers and the busy embankment of the River.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There were some signs of life: A few families piling into their expensive cars, dressed for church. A man and boy sitting outside of a hidden synagogue. An elderly lady pushing her walker with a cigarette in one hand, immaculately dressed. A guy about the same age as me sitting on a low brick wall, sitting on his hands, staring off into the distance.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

I turned down a narrow, deserted street called Paradise Walk (who could resist?). The smell of Sunday morning cooking (pancakes, sausages…) wafted out of open kitchen windows and there were nearly inaudible hints of conversation as people began their day. A bike was parked in the sun, a basket in the front which I could picture filled with a baguette and piles of fruit from the market.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

I’d love to have a bike, to ride around London, but it’s not the safest way to get around this city unfortunately.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

At the end of the street, a huge ginger cat darted out from a cat flap, stopped and looked at me and the walked off. I followed it, with no real direction in mind. In front of us was a long brick wall that ran the length of Swan Walk (who thinks of these names, anyway? “Yes, I live on the corner of Paradise Walk and Swan Walk…” Has a nice ring to it.)

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The cat walked closely along the edge of the wall, bushing it with his fur, walking with a trot in his step now. And then suddenly, he dashed through a doorway and disappeared.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

That’s when I realised that behind that long brick wall was the Chelsea Physic Garden. Having walked through all of the somewhat unfamiliar back streets, I was relishing the idea of getting lost.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

But nevermind. It was a beautiful morning; why not spend a few hours walking around the gardens? It had been over a year since my last visit, despite it being just around the corner.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

So I followed the cat’s lead. unfortunately, unlike the cat who could sneak in for free and chase birds to his heart’s delight, I had to pay the £10 entrance fee. It is definitely worth it though!

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

This place is a lush oasis in the middle of a hectic area and it’s a pleasure to be surrounded by so much green, so many exotic plants from around the world.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London (1673) and definitely the best I’ve visited. It’s almost four acres of loveliness next to the river.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

It’s an amazing place to relax, soak in the sun, have a bite to eat. Or if you’re naturally curious, it’s a great place to learn something new.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Since I lost sight of my feline guide, I just started in the Garden of Medicinal Plants to the right of the entrance. This is a fascinating area to spend some time reading all of the signs next to each one. It’s actually the reason the whole thing came about some 300+ years ago.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The original purpose was so that apprentices for the Society of Apothecaries of London could learn to grow the plants used in medicines. “Physic” refers to medicinal drugs and the art of healing as it’s defined today.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There were plants there that have been used in treatments of everything from the common cold to childhood leukaemia. There’s also a Garden of World Medicines and a pharmaceutical garden that features plants used in psychiatry, dermatology, Anaesthesia and just about every other medical field.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

It makes you think about how incredible it is that someone figured out how to use these plants for these purposes. Who would look at a Woolly Foxglove plant and think, “Oh, maybe that can be used to prevent abnormal heart rhythms…”

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Near the medicinal plants are the glasshouses which are possibly the first heated glasshouses in Europe.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

With stormy clouds above, I thought it was a good time to step undercover and, luckily, I was inside for just enough time to let the quick showers pass.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

It’s hot in there, especially when you walk through the corridor. I was amused to see that there is a huge collection of plants from the Canary Islands, where Jorge is from and where I will be spending a good amount of time on future holidays!

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The last few times I was in Tenerife, I missed the season for the rare Echium wildpretii plant that grows at the top of the volcano, Mount Teide.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

The Chelsea Physic Garden has these, but of course, they are only in bloom in the Spring so I still haven’t seen them.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

I loved being inside of the glasshouses during the rain, seeing it run down the glass roof, surrounded by plants in tropical heat.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

If only I had a nice chair and a cup of tea, I could have sat there for quite a while just watching it. But it stopped pretty quickly so I went back outside to continue exploring.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There’s a statue in the middle of the garden of Dr. Hans Sloane (Sloane Square, anyone?) who took over the freehold of the garden.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

It’s a replica of the original which was damaged from pollution and is now in the British Museum.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

From 1712, Dr. Sloane charged a rent of £5 a year on the condition that the space was forever maintained as a physic garden. Fun fact – this £5 rent is still paid to his heirs today!

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Just there is the pond rockery. It’s the oldest man-made rockery in Europe which is actually Grade II* listed.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There are pieces of stone there that were once part of the Tower of London! Speaking of old, the garden also has the largest outdoor olive tree in Britain.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Near the glasshouses is a little shop selling flowery greeting cards, soaps with floral packaging and hand lotions. I stocked up on cards.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There’s also a cafe with outdoor seating, next to which is another glasshouse full of cacti and things like Venus fly traps. I remember my brother having one when we were kids and we used to stick things inside of it to make it close.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Next to that, there’s an education area with plants growing in recycled food containers.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

There are trails that stretch through the back of the garden, past a fernery house and through a woodland garden.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

My favourite area of the garden is in the far corner toward the river on the opposite side from the Garden of Medicinal Plants.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Next to a compost area and a study center are two gardens next to one another. One is the Garden of Useful Plants. The other is the Garden of Edible Plants (including a mini “vineyard”).

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Most of the edible plants I’m familiar with, but I love reading the purposes behind all of the useful plants.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

It reminded me of the fique used in Colombia to make everything from ropes to rugs to dolls to handbags. I didn’t see that plant but there were a lot from South America.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Nearby, there are also a few bee huts and you can see the little creatures buzzing around like mad.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

In the trees at line the side of the gardens closest to the river, there’s a collection of bee houses that were made by Scottish artist and poet Alec Finlay. They are actually called bee libraries because they are made from books. Not just any books, of course, but books about bees, botany and horticulture. From the books he used he extracted a bit of “honey” in the form of poems, one of which is printed on the larger beehive in the photo above.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

I spent some time in the middle of the garden as well where there is a tank of water filled with reeds and other plants that grow in these conditions.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

A few couples were sitting on benches, just meditating on the space, taking everything in and being in each other’s company.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

All in all a beautiful place to spend a slightly lazy, unhurried Sunday afternoon.

Chelsea Physic Garden, London

And, as you can see, I took far too many photos!

Little Weekend Links 34

It’s been a hot and sunny week here in London with plenty of blue sky days. Last Sunday I visited the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden where I took too many photos and have an epic plant-filled post to share with you on Monday. Jorge’s was away in Italy all week so Oakley and I have had the flat to ourselves with plenty of crazy cat play time, cereal for dinner and sleeping like a starfish. He’s back now, which is good because (among other reasons, of course) the million plants in our flat would probably die soon.

After the sun went down this past week, I spent some time designing my first media kit. I’ll always write original content (including posts that happen to be sponsored, in which case I will let you know), and I’m looking forward to working with some fun brands that I love on a few upcoming projects. If you’re interested in collaborating with me, let me know.

This weekend, I’m looking forward to getting out and about with Jorge since it’s not often we have a weekend off together and planning our honeymoon to St Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.

Any exciting plans for you?

P1100152_2Photo: Leafy back streets of Chelsea, London – July 2014

Here are some links for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

A Venetian Lunch at Polpo, Notting Hill

For four years (until 2012), I worked in Notting Hill, walking every day down the high street. Now when I return to that area, I notice all the little changes, shops that have closed and new restaurants that have opened. So when Jorge and I took a walk on Sunday, we were excited to see that a brand new Polpo had opened the last weekend in May in the place of an old All Bar One chain.

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We had both been to the Soho branch on separate occasions and really enjoyed the food and atmosphere there, so I guess we had high hopes. Unfortunately, though the staff were lovely, this branch didn’t quite live up to our expectations.

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The decor had a down-to-earth, industrial chic vibe which worked in some ways. The quirky lamps hanging over the bar and the cool distressed ceiling stood out, but it was a bit too dark on the end far from the windows, the tables are tiny for a restaurant that recommends sharing three tapas per person. Perhaps because of the previous use of the building, it maintained a tad bit of that chain atmosphere that can’t be helped in a big open space. The Soho branch is much more intimate.

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We both ordered drinks with elderflower. Jorge’s was really tasty (elderflower, ginger beer, lemon). Mine was too sour and a bit watered down (green tea, mint, apple, elderflower).

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Then came the food. Both of us were impressed by the first dish – heritage tomato panzanella. It was like a solid version of gazpacho with a great mix of textures and flavours, big chunks of fresh tomatoes and bits of bread.

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Maybe it was because we ate something so flavourful first, but what came next – the zucchini, parmesan and basil salad – tasted a bit bland. It was good, and healthy, just a bit boring.

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The third one we actually sent back to the kitchen. It’s the first time we’ve ever sent something back to the kitchen. It was grilled lamb, caponata and basil. It was a shame because it looked delicious when it arrived, but cutting into it, the meat was nearly all fat and inedible.

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Last, we tried the veal and porcini meatballs. The sauce was tasty, but the texture of the meatballs themselves were an odd mix of airy and mushy and were a bit too reminiscent of a school lunch.

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As always, we finished with dessert. I ordered the strawberry and basil panna cotta which was a nice mix and end to the meal.

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Jorge ordered the chocolate salami, but they accidentally brought him raspberry and ricotta cannoli instead. He let them know, they apologised and kindly said to keep it while they brought the chocolate as well. Both were okay.

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Likes: The friendly, good-natured staff, some of the industrial decor details, the elderflower, ginger beer, lemon drink and the heritage tomato panzanella.

Dislikes: Most of the food. The green tea, mint, apple, elderflower drink. The fact that we sent something back to the kitchen for the first time ever. The lack of intimacy that makes the Soho branch appealing.

The Verdict: Disappointing. It’s a shame as we would recommend the Soho branch based on previous experiences. Perhaps this one is experiencing growing pains as it’s so new?

The Yellow Door of St. Luke’s Mews

Notting Hill on a sunny Summer Saturday is overwhelming.

Notting Hill

I’ve spent many hours jam packed between bodies of tourists crawling down Portobello Road, queueing at crepe stands and browsing tables of vintage plates.

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It’s a must when you first visit London (and full of characters worth some time spent people watching), but when you’ve been there, done that in the midst of the chaos, mid-week visits – or even Sundays – are much more civilised.

Notting Hill

When Jorge asked what I wanted to do Sunday last week, I consulted my the handy lists I always keep on my phone.

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One is a compilation of restaurant, cafe, pub and cocktail bar recommendations.

Notting Hill

The other is random stuff I want to see before I one day move on from this city.

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I occasionally jot down places or objects I want to photograph, quirky stuff I’ve spotted in Flickr feeds or magazines or that someone just mentioned in passing.

Notting Hill

For a while, the list has said: “St. Luke’s Mews, Notting Hill, yellow door.”

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While I couldn’t remember exactly what said yellow door looked like, I knew I’d have to go find it eventually. Nothing makes my lists unless it is (to me anyway) worth seeking out.

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Of course, as many of you probably know, I do love a good door. In fact, the first photography print I ever sold was of a door.

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So we hoped on a bus, got off at Notting Hill and walked down Portobello Road to the little mews to find my door. Which was easy enough and was then ticked off of the list.

Notting Hill

There was, of course, nothing particularly special about it.

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I always wonder about the people who live behind wonderfully creative doors though: What do they do for a living? What do they look like? How do they decorate inside?

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We took advantage of the fact that we were in the area already and wandered through some of the back streets we’d never explored.

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I know the area quite well, having worked there for four years, but there’s plenty left to discover.

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Also, being there on a Sunday meant we could have a leisurely look around Stumper & Fielding – one of our favourite independent shops – which is always packed to the brim on a Saturday but quite inviting on a Sunday.

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I took some photos inside with the intention of blogging about it, but I ended up writing a guest post for Jorge instead on his blog, Hunt for Design.

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We found a new Jonathan Adler shop that opened up just around the corner and ended up coming out with a giant coffee table book to add to our collection. When I left London to move to Colombia for a while, I got rid of 300 books that I’d accumulated and said I wasn’t going to keep the ones I buy or collect the heavy ones again, but I just can’t help it…our bookshelves are full. I feel that books make a house feel more like a home.

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Anyway, by then it was time for some food. I had originally wanted to check out Source in Battersea, which was on my other list, but since we were in Notting Hill and already starving, it made more sense to stay local. We had passed by a brand new Polpo – like the Soho/Covent Garden restaurant - that had opened at the beginning of May (it turned out to be disappointing, but more about that one on Wednesday).

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By then, it was time to head home where, to cheer ourselves up after a not so great lunch, we spontaneously booked a weekend away in Stockholm to look forward to at the beginning of August. Can’t wait!

Do you keep lists of places you want to visit? What’s on it now? 

PS – I know a lot of you follow my Little London Observationist page on Facebook, but did you know I have a page for Little Observationist as well? Swing by for fun stuff I find that doesn’t always show up on the blog.

Little Weekend Links 33

It’s been a while since I’ve wandered around Notting Hill, so I was was happy to spend a few hours there on Sunday afternoon. It’s an area of the city I’ve very familiar with, but there are still plenty of backstreets I’ve never explored. They also just opened a new branch of Polpo there which we were excited to try but disappointed in the end. We finished all of our thank you notes from the wedding and started honeymoon planning but we are having a tough time deciding between Japan and the Caribbean. They are so different but both appeal for different reasons. We’re not going until October so there’s still some time for planning. In the meantime, we’ve booked a pre-honeymoon long weekend in Sweden at the beginning of August so I’m very much looking forward to taking photos there. Any recommendations on places to eat, drink, shop and explore are more than welcome for Stockholm, Japan, St. Lucia or other Caribbean islands.  This weekend I’m hoping to have a pretty relaxing, quiet one with some travel magazine time and a bit of cheeky sale shopping to stock up for the upcoming honeymoon. I’ll probably also spend a bit of time working on my poor abandoned Etsy shop!

Any exciting plans on your side?

churchill armsPhoto: The flower covered, world cup supporting Churchill Arms, July 2014

Here are a few links for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

 

PS – What do you think of the slightly new look to the blog (banner and sidebar images)?

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