Jorge and I kicked off August with a long weekend in Stockholm, Sweden, a sort of pre-honeymoon to hold us off till the real deal in St. Lucia next month. It was an excellent weekend – hot, sunny, full of beautiful, tan, tall, fashionable people and great food.
Back in London, a few local walks to enjoy the last few days of Summer that seem to have now tailed off. We spent a pretty glamorous evening watching the ballet at the Royal Opera House. I spent a Saturday pottering around Bermondsey, discovering Maltby Street Market and re-visiting Borough Market, an old favourite. There was a girly Thai food evening at Addies in Earl’s Court and drinks in Chelsea with the lovely Anne from Benton & Tilley.
We also had a staycation at The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell, a part of London I wasn’t very familiar with and enjoyed. They had a quirky, apothecary-style cocktail bar where we spent an evening sipping some pretty strong drinks. We also made it to the British Museum.
The last weekend, I had tea and scones at an old standby, Sacred Cafe near Carnaby Street after a walk along South Bank. Then, a journey east for a Foto Ruta photography treasure hunt with Stu from Inspiring City. All in all, a fantastic month.
Here’s a look back at August through Instagram:
1. Drinks in Sweden. Since it was our first visit to Stockholm, much of our time was spent familiarising ourselves with the city as much as possible. We spent a few hours on our first day wandering through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, Gamla Stan. To take a breather, we sat outside of a nearby restaurant for drinks and tapas and some good old people watching. My paper straw was pretty, but unfortunately fell apart. The goosberry cocktail was tasty though.
2. A view from a Stockholm hotel. We spent our weekend in Sweden at Hotel Stureplan in the Norrmalm district. This was the pretty view from our window and very representative of the streets around us. It wasn’t as quirky as the hotels we usually stay in because we got a good deal on the weekend trip, but it was nice, quiet and had a brilliant old lift that took us very incredibly slowly to our room on the 5th floor. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and gave us a few of our best restaurant recommendations. There’s more Sweden posts to come soon…
3. A cat attack. Oakley made it into a few posts this month. It’s pretty incredible to look back on the photos since we brought him home in August. He’s seven months old now and growing so quickly. His fluffy kitten face is transforming and he’s mellowed out oh so slightly. Here, he was jumping on my shoulders to attack my hair. He seems to like it up there.
4. London’s Royal Opera House. The first event for the #BestSummerEver campaign I’m working on for Malibu was a visit to the Royal Opera House to see a double bill ballet – Apollo and Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the first time both Jorge and I had been there and we marvelled at the beautiful theatre and were swept into the magic of the Russian dancers.
5. A beautiful bee. Every Summer at work, our company hosts a week of intense training when many of our colleagues from around the world gather together to exchange ideas, brainstorm new ones and update each other about our departments. It’s also a social time and a time when most of our everyday work is temporarily pushed aside. It’s also a pretty stressful week of long hours in the office, so to put a smile on my face, toward the end, Jorge bought me this beautiful Alex Monroe bee necklace which I absolutely adore. Isn’t it pretty?
6. Cat with an attitude. Ah, back to Oakley, the ruler of the flat. He is showing real personality these days, as you can see here. I was walking to work earlier this month when a moving van drove by with some quotes printed on the side. One of them was “Dogs have owners; cats have slaves.” It comes to mind when I look at this photo of the king.
7. The British Museum. While we were staying at The Zetter Townhouse (see number 8), we were a short walk to Holborn where the British Museum lives. It’s massive and could take weeks to fully explore. It’s the home of the Rosetta Stone. But, one of my favourite reasons to visit is simply to marvel at the architecture, the mix of old and new. I love that there were birds hanging out on the roof and you can glimpse the clouds through the glass.
8. The Zetter Townhouse. The second event of the #BestSummerEver campaign I’m working on for Malibu was a one night staycation at The Zetter Townhouse on the other side of London from where Jorge and I live, lunch at the restaurant in The Zetter and drinks in the quirky cocktail lounge full of taxidermy animals and Victorian knickknacks. Our room had this unusual bed, antique details and a gold-tiled bathtub in the center of it all. Definitely a memorable experience.
9. Exploring Farringdon and Clerkenwell. The night we stayed at The Zetter Townhouse, we did a lot of walking around the local area since neither Jorge nor I were incredibly familiar with it. We spotted this bright blue shutter in my favourite colour and thought it would make a fun background for a photo. Being so close to The City, much of this area was closed over the weekend, but it was still interesting to walk around. Some of Oliver Twist was filmed nearby and it’s brimming with history.
10. Bartending. At the hotel cocktail lounge, one of London’s most eccentric for sure, the bar is set up apothecary style and this nice bartender was happy to be photographed. I’ve written a bit about the cocktail lounge in the Zetter Townhouse post. The drinks are uncomplicated with no trimmings, though are served up with a bit of a gimmick at the beginning (ie – lit on fire).
11. Maltby Street Market. This was a new London market for me. I heard about it a few years ago, but for some reason never managed to visit until now. It’s a bit out of the way, wedged between a big council estate and the railway. Turned out to be an excellent discovery, a tiny market, but full of life with a great sense of community and vendors with a real passion for the food they sell, which looked delicious.
12. Borough Market. Borough Market is nearby Maltby Street Market and is, of course, the big one for foodies. It’s sprawling and crowded and you’re spoilt for choice there. It’s a fun place to spend a Saturday morning before escaping with one of the famous cheese toasties in hand and some goodies for later like homemade fudge and fresh bread. This vendor had a great personality and was passing our samples. A bit on the spicy side for me, but nonetheless very tasty.
13. Stinkfish in Clerkenwell. There wasn’t much in the way of street art in Clerkenwell, though further east there is plenty. When we stayed at The Zetter Townhouse, I spotted this Stinkfish piece on a closed shutter. He’s one of my favourite street artists, from Colombia. I interviewed him about three years ago for my Little Colombia Observationist blog when I was living there and he’s still going, stronger than ever.
14. Cromwell Road. See this depressing building? It’s a giant Holiday Inn on Cromwell Road that I walk by every single day (usually four times) apart from the weekends. On the other side, there’s a giant neon green sign with a website listed across the front of the building. I thought I better photograph it at some point. It’s become an icon of my daily routine.
15. Sacred Cafe. Way back in 2007 or 2008 (it’s all a bit fuzzy now), I had an interview in the basement of Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street with the editor of Seven Magazine where I ended in some sort of unpaid chief subeditor position for about a year in evenings and weekends. It was a fun way to gain experiences and I had a few articles published too, but the magazine died off eventually and became something else. The discovery of this fabulous little cafe with its savoury muffins lives on. I stopped in for a scone with cream and strawberry jam and a pot of tea one weekend while I wrote some snail mail to my grandma in New York.
16. A peaceful cat. Once in a while, Oakley is calm. He can sleep for many hours a day, but it’s usually when we’re not home. However, occasionally he will curl up on my lap while I read a book or write blog posts. He’s lying next to me snoring little kitten snores as I write this. This was one of his calmer moments. I love it when he tucks in his front paws!
17. The South Bank Lion. When I shared this photo of the South Bank Lion on Facebook, my friend Catriona commented, “He almost has a look of someone who’s just heard the following words: “Sorry mate, we’re all out of cake.” She has a point! Apparently he used to be painted red and lived outside the Red Lion Brewery with a buddy (who is now painted gold) until the brewery was demolished to make room for the Royal Festival Hall. He’s now restored so you can see his natural state – made of something called Coade of which there’s only about 650 surviving examples in the world. As for the photo, I wanted a different angle on the London Eye, something clean and uncluttered and this seemed to work.
18. Brick Lane. This photo below from Brick Lane is one of my favourites from August. It really brings out the vibe of the street – the murals on the walls, the tourists posing for photographs and the locals going about their everyday lives. It’s a wonderfully diverse place as well and it’s a bit chaotic too like the street art itself. The East is ever evolving. I can’t think of anywhere in London quite so vibrant on a Sunday afternoon. I’ll post some more photos soon.
19. A city pumpkin. Pumpkins always remind me of my grandpa’s garden back in New York. We used to go there when we were kids, a nice big piece of land full of all fruits and vegetables. Every Halloween, my brother and I would choose our pumpkins that we wanted to carve from his garden. It’s not every day you see a pumpkin growing in London, but Stu and I wandered into Spitalfields City Farm on our tour with Foto Ruta the other day and there it was: a little pumpkin patch. I wonder if it will have a face by the end of October, a tea light candle glowing inside.
20. An unexpected portrait. I had a random encounter while I was walking around in East London. I was taking a photo of a piece of street art by Dscreet (the one on the wall behind me) when a guy with a camera walked over and asked if I’d take his photo against the wall so he could send it to a friend in Thailand. He said his name was Peter Hall. He was a retired photographer wandering about his neighbourhood. He lives in Bethnal Green and was born a stone’s throw from the area. He was talking about how it’s changed over the years and then asked to take a photo of me as well before we parted ways. We exchanged cards and emailed the photos across the next day.
21. Stik. I first met Stik at the Mile End Arts Pavillion through the recommendation of a mutual friend that he would make a great street artist interview. That was in 2009 before he became so well-known. We sat on a piece of cardboard in the middle of the floor surrounded by drying boards that he was painting. I did a huge 3-part follow up interview with him in 2012 when we met for Earl Grey tea before he took me up into his studio. This is a small piece he did ages ago at the Spitalfields City Farm. It’s simple, but his work always makes me smile.
22. A morning in Camden. Wednesday morning last week I went to meet a colleague in Camden for a site visit. I went an hour earlier that we were meant to meet so I had some time to wander around before the markets set up, take a walk up to Primrose Hill and generally explore a quiet time in part of the city that has a reputation for being anything but quiet. This was just a random photo on Camden High Street but I liked the way it turned out.
23. Kentish Town trains. The same day as when I took the above photo, we found ourselves waiting for a delayed overground train on the Kentish Town platform on our way down to Denmark Hill. It’s an area of the city where I don’t often go. I liked the graffiti style Kentish Town tag on the building and the way the colours on the staircase and signs matched the colours on the train on the platform opposite.
24. Poppies in Tower Hill. For a while now I’ve been meaning to visit the Tower of London to see the poppy installation in commemoration of WWII where some 888,246 ceramic poppies will represent a British military fatality during the war. It was very impressive. This is just a close up of some of the poppies, but if you google “poppies Tower Hill” There are tons of photos that show the full scale.
25. The Chamberlayne. Jorge and I were invited to dinner last night to visit Danny and Lucy in their new flat. They live not far from where I lived when I first moved to London back in 2007. We took my old bus route. Talk about nostalgia. I hadn’t been up that way in years. So there were were in Kensal Rise, early with time for a drink, so we popped into one of our old local pubs, the Chamberlayne, for a glass of wine.
25. A sleepy kitty selfie. Lastly, I leave you with a sleepy Oakley. He is currently trying to climb up the palm tree in our kitchen so don’t let this photo trick you into think he’s so peaceful all the time! Behind me on the wall, a slice of a Stik print from my exhibition. I may try to get involed in another one in the Spring, so if anyone has any gallery ideas let me know!
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