The biggest news I have this month is the arrival of our tiny kitten who is full of playful energy. I’ve been spending a lot of time swinging toys around the flat and admiring the sleeping ball of fur in the quiet moments. I also went for my first wedding dress fitting. Jorge’s been away twice to Spain this month, but I still can’t fly after my eye surgery (almost!) so I’ve been grounded in London. And actually, I’ve quite enjoyed it, spending hours walking through the parks, around the whole city, the South Bank food market and weaving through the flowering side streets near home. Spring, with its bi-polar personality, is definitely here with beautiful blue days and grey rainy ones like last Sunday. Which is also okay, because I on Saturday I went to Liberty and had a little shopping spree. On Sunday, I spent five hours doing a huge Spring clean (with music, a chaotic kitty and plenty of breaks for tea) and baked a double chocolate, chocolate chip banana cake (recipe soon). What have you been up to this month?
Here’s a look back at April through a few Instagram photos:
1. R Robot street art. The Village Underground has one of those massive canvas walls that’s ever-changing, new artists invited to paint regularly. This one is by Nick Kuszyk, otherwise known as R Robot. He’s usually based in NYC, but popped over the pond at the beginning of March to tackle this wall and bring some colour to London’s grey streets. I went over to the East End to meet Carolina for tea at The Book Club and we wandered past here on our way. I, of course, couldn’t resist stopping for a photo.
2. Cherry blossom confetti. Dovehouse Street is lined with cherry blossom trees. I walk down it almost every day, usually twice, so I watched as the trees transformed from their naked Winter branches to a pink tunnel of blossoms. Winds swept through at the beginning of the month and the petals began to drop, swirling through the air like pink confetti, covering the sidewalks being swept up in piles along the sides of the road. Now, the trees are full of vibrant green leaves.
3. Kitty’s Instagram debut. Note, I am saying “kitty”. The original owners told us it was a female kitten, so we chose the name Lupita. It wasn’t obvious otherwise, but a trip to the vet for first shots and a check up last weekend revealed Lupita needs a name change as “she” is actually a boy cat. Hmm. Explains why she gets into so much trouble then!….Stay tuned. This picture was taken a few days after we got him. He’s much bigger already, less than a month later, and rarely as calm as this photo suggests!
4. Phat Phuc. Phat Phuc is one of Chelsea’s hidden gems, tucked away in a courtyard down some steps behind a flower stall on Sydney Street. It has quite possibly the best name ever and serves up tasty pho and other Vietnamese street food from this little stall. There are a few picnic tables under a tent, but it’s pretty cold to sit outside these days, and being so close to home, it’s easy to take away. I picked up a steaming bowl for lunch one weekend.
5. St. Luke’s Gardens. This beautiful little paradise is a 30 second walk from our flat which means every time there’s a sunny day, I’m sprawled out on the grass or sitting on one of those benches with a book or a magazine and a lovely cup of tea from Paul. The people who maintain the park do a stunning job. It’s a colourful oasis and is quickly becoming one of my favourite places in London (perhaps also because this is where we got engaged last Summer!)
6. New robe. When kitty arrived, he seemed to be obsessed with my old robe. Guess maybe the texture felt like another cat or something, so now it’s folded up in a box and has become his bed. That meant time for me to get a new one. I had my eye on one from Anthropologie that I loved but it was sold out so I wandered into The White Company and found this one which was out of stock in my size, but they shipped it to me for free all nicely folded like this:
7. Letters. This photo was taken on an evening walk somewhere around Brompton Road, down a side street with grand old homes. I do love my evening walks lately. This was one of the letterboxes facing the street of a white concrete walled garden. I loved its simplicity and thought it looked best in black and white. I often take photos of the little things (hence the name of this blog) and this fit the description perfectly. Plus, it reminded me of getting real snail mail by post – always a highlight of my day.
8. The old Michelin building. Michelin House became the headquarters of Michelin Tyre Company way back in 1909 so it’s more than a century old and was designed by an employee of the company. They moved out in 1985 when it was bought by Sir Terence Conran and Paul Hamlyn. That explains why The Conran Shop (a brilliant design shop) is now housed inside and there’s also an oyster bar, appropriate for this part of the city, surrounded by shops like Stella McCartney, Carolina Herrera and the like.
9. Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park. The first time I saw this structure was from the other side of the river. I remember being completely intrigued by it and it was the reason I visited Battersea Park for the first time quite a few years ago. Turned out it’s a Buddhist Peace Pagoda, now a very familiar site as Battersea Park is so nearby and has become one of my favourite green spaces in London. It sits right on the river path and sees an endless stream of joggers and dogs flowing past.
10. Prince Albert Bridge. My favourite night time walk these days involves a stroll over the Thames via this magical bridge – the Prince Albert. In the day time it’s like walking through the Candy Land board game we used to love when we were kids, painted in pastel colours like a soft cherry blossom pink, a mint green and a light baby blue. At night, it’s illuminated like a fairground ride or a carnival game with 4,000 LED bulbs. Its one of only two central London bridges never to have been replaced (the other being the famous Tower Bridge).
11. St. James’s Park. This time of year, St. James’s Park always has this massive tulip bed, surrounded by people taking photos. It’s incredibly colourful and wraps around a group of trees. I stopped by during my 10 mile walk that I wrote about the other day, that involved a stop at the South Bank’s Eat The World Street Food Festival. It’s the oldest of the Royal Parks in London and there’s a group of pelicans who live there, which started with a gift from the Russian ambassador way back in the 1600s.
12. Sacred Cafe. I discovered this little place when I was invited to go for an interview over tea in the basement for an internship position with Seven Magazine where I ended up as chief sub editor for about a year in 2008. It was a rewarding experience, but one of the best things that came out of it was the discovery of Sacred Cafe, tucked away on Ganton Street away from the bustle of Regents Street. Any time I’m out shopping central, I like to pop in here for some tea and a savoury muffin in their dimly lit basement with couches and candles.
13. Sleeping kitty. The ball of energy does sometimes take a nap, occasionally sprawled out on this little round blue carpet that’s in the kitchen if that’s the room we’re in. I took this photo of just the paws with no claws because it shows how relaxed he is for once. It’s nice having a cat around the house again. The last time I had a cat was our family cat, Moggy, in New York who was with us for 18 years from when I was four years old till I turned 22, the year before I left for London.
14. Easter chocolates. When we were kids, the best thing about Easter was going on the hunt for our hidden baskets and unpacking the goodies. While I’m no longer in New York to rummage through closets and boxes stacked in the basement, my mom has still carried on the tradition of compiling a “basket” for me. It arrives by post, of course usually with a parcel of chocolates, an easter egg dye kit, my favourite magazines and sponge candy among other things. I love the packaging on these chocolate bars she included this year.
15. Easter Sunday. Since I’m living in London, Easter is one of those holidays that sort of gets glazed over these days. In New York, it was always a family holiday, one that involves elaborate ham dinners and egg decorating afternoons. But in London, the last few years have been marked by lazy local lunches, last year in a pub around the corner – The Builder’s Arms – next to the fireplace. This year, we had Sunday roasts at Bumpkin, lounging around for hours, watching the rainy afternoon out the front window, car tyres swishing, people walking under umbrellas.
16. Getting ready. Last Friday was the UK National Blog Awards Ceremony. The blog I run for work was nominated for an award in the travel organisation category. They billed themselves the “Oscars of the Blogging World” and it was all about food, networking and a few key speeches. Jorge was in Spain and couldn’t go with me but insisted on a photo before I left. Hence, the first ever proper selfie that made it onto my Instagram page. How exciting.
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