January crawled a bit in the beginning with its grey and rainy days, Londoners walking the wet pavements with heads bent under dripping umbrellas, red buses splashing through puddles on the side of the road. The last weekend was definitely the best and it went by in a whirl. My mom came over from New York to help with wedding plans. After I found out my dream dress cost about as much as a long and amazing holiday just about anywhere in the world, I found another beautiful one that will be mine. And shoes were easy. Jorge’s parents were also in London for the weekend so they had a chance to meet for the first time which was a lot of fun with all of the English/Spanish translating!
Here’s a look back at January through Instagram:
1. A rainy day sunset. Finally we had a glimpse of sun as it sank below the clouds on a relentlessly rainy day. This was taken through the kitchen window, fogged up a bit from baking, late afternoon on a lazy Saturday. Enjoyed from the dry and warm indoors, I don’t mind the rain. Neither did Groucho Marx who once said “I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining.”
2. A new London Routemaster bus. I took my first journey on a number 11 bus, one of the city’s new Routemasters. It’s an upgraded version of the original with its trippy red seat pattern and a conductor manning the back entrance. It was nice enough, but smelled like any other London bus on a Sunday morning.
3. Love locks in Shoreditch. Each time I visit Shoreditch, the fence of love locks seems to become fuller and fuller. It’s a lovely idea that started in Hungary about 30 years ago. It has spread all across the world to other parts of London as well. Last year there was a huge temporary “LOVE” sculpture full of locks in Covent Garden for Valentine’s Day. They are fun to read, especially the ones that have quirky messages.
4. A surprise blue sky. Sometimes London throws in a nice surprise with January blue skies. It might be bitter cold with a sharp wind, but that sun sure makes a difference. This was a day I went to visit a friend in East London for tea and a walk back along the river. It rained late afternoon, of course, but this deep blue morning sky stuck around in memory for long enough that the rain didn’t put a damper on the day.
5. Daunt, part 1. This month, I managed to visit my favourite London bookshop, Daunt, on two different occasions. It’s a beautiful setting, with plenty of natural light and the books are organised by area of the world with the traveller in mind. These are the stairs leading down to the basement where I spend most of my time browsing the shelves.
6. Daunt, part 2. I wrote about Daunt earlier this month in a post with 12 of my favourite books that I’ve found there along with pictures of the shop. I finally started Spain in Mind, one of the few new books I picked up in January. I’m hoping to spend more time reading this year, though with wedding and plenty else to keep me busy, it will be a challenge. I’ll be tracking what I read on my bookshelf page as usual!
7. A Spanish meal. Jorge and I had been saving a gift card to our favourite Spanish restaurant in London, Iberica, for the cold days of January when everyone is broke and an incredible meal with delicious wine is just about the best thing in the world. So we trekked to Marylebone and were definitely not disappointed. Daiquiris, olives, bread with tomato, octopus, jamón, croquettes, tarta de santiago…yum!
8. The Palace Theatre. We were invited, mid-week, to see “The Commitments” at London’s old Palace Theatre. The show wasn’t incredibly impressive, but the interior of the theatre that was built in the late 1800s was – although this photo doesn’t do it any justice whatsoever. It is full of intricate carvings and details and you could tell it was quite an extravagant place in its day.
9. Pastries at Paul. I stop by French coffee shop Paul every morning on my way to work to pick up an English Breakfast tea. I usually avoid the pastries but sometimes they are way too tempting. While my mom was over, we treated ourselves at breakfast one day to a gourmandise – a thin pastry filled with custard and chocolate drops.
10. Daiquiris at The Mansion Bar and Parlour. Dimple and I discovered this little gem in Earl’s Court, a contemporary bar with a vintage vibe on a side street near the tube station. It opened just a year ago and was completely empty. The cocktails were glorious, so we weren’t sure why. We’ll be back for more Hemingway Daiquiris soon.
11. Lunch at Joe & The Juice. If I’m having a day out shopping on my own, I love to pop into Joe & The Juice on King’s Road for lunch with a good magazine. They have the most amazing fresh juices. My favourite is an “AMG” – apple, mint and ginger – with a serrano sandwich, though the one in the photo is a “Stress Down”, full of sweet strawberries.
12. Beetroot Chocolate Brownies. I love beetroot, but I was skeptical about putting it in brownies. I’m glad I gave the “The Great British Bake Off” recipe a try though. They turned out to be very tasty – and I’d like to think that they are the healthiest brownies in the world. There’s a recipe on the blog with more photos.
13. An orchid in bloom. There are already a few tiny signs of Spring around the city – the first buds sprouting from tree branches, bright pink blossoms on bushes and a robin hopping in the grass. The temperature hasn’t caught up yet (and we haven’t had a proper Winter yet, so it could go either way!), but it was nice to see one of our indoor orchids start to bloom. There are 12 flowers open right now!
14. Soup at The Elk in the Woods. It’s been about a year since Jorge and I discovered The Elk in the Woods on a snowy March afternoon in Islington. One of my wedding dress appointments was in the area so I took my mom there for lunch. It was the perfect place to warm up from the rain with red pepper, tomato and basil soup with toasted sour dough bread. Oh so delicious.
15. The cafe at Liberty. Liberty is one of my favourite shops in London and my mom loves to visit when she comes as well so we shook out our umbrellas and headed inside. A bit of relaxation was definitely in order so we decided to try out the cafe on the second floor for the first time. The pink lemonade was perfect and we shared this sweet pear and almond tart. I’ll definitely be back!
16. A wall of Liberty fabrics. Although I don’t sew or really have any use for them at all, I love to browse the wall of fabrics in Liberty. Aren’t they pretty? There’s actually a huge textile archive that’s been building up since the early 1900s which is still visited by the designers today. That would be an amazing place to be able to see.
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