A London Staycation

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A year ago today I moved to London. And the best way to celebrate feeling like I truly belong here is by going back to the very beginning – being those all important, slow walking, picture-taking tourists on their holidays, enjoying this wonderful city.

This weekend Jack and I took it upon ourselves to do a variety of ‘touristy’ activities. It was probably the most productive weekend we’ve had to date and most definitely the earliest we’ve got up together on a Sunday morning.

We started Saturday by getting up at 9AM (unheard of) and going to our local cafe, Bread by Bike. It’s a super cute bakery around the corner from my flat that prides itself on its sourdough bread – it’s a real hidden treasure and I would definitely recommend going if you’re ever in North London. We got take out, took it home and sat in bed watching Friends.

 

 

Jack napped whilst I put my glam on and we headed to Notting Hill. When we first got together, Jack was desperate for me to watch the film Notting Hill; I had never seen it and never intended to because of my hostility towards rom-coms. Of course, I eventually gave in and I can now begrudgingly say I quite like it. We walked the length of Portobello Road Market, got milkshake and found pretty coloured houses to take pictures with.

 

Next, we got the tube to Westminster and walked along the bridge to the Southbank. Our next choice of tourist attraction was either the London Eye or the London Dungeons. Because I knew how happy it would make my mother – she’s wanted me to go for the past year – we went to the dungeons. I was slightly terrified of people jumping out and any talk about blood or gore is abhorrent to me, but nevertheless, I had a wonderful time. It was also super interesting to learn about London before artsy vegan restaurants, boozy mini golf and pretentious cafe’s.

Our next stop was Wagamamas before we decided we had spent far too much time out of  bed. I introduced Jack to the wonder of yasai kastu curry, then we went back to Camden in time to have a Saturday night in, complete with snacks and a film.

 

Sunday was a bright and early start as well. We woke up, got ready and went straight to Camden market. I usually do my best to avoid Camden on a weekend because of how busy it gets, but it was only right to do the tourist thing and have a browse. There is a ridiculous amount of food choice round there and I had to make the decision as to where we went for breakfast. We found a cute little Mexican cafe and settled there. Jack had breakfast tacos and I had a blueberry cinnamon loaf. After food, we were raring to go for day 2 of our tourist staycation. Jack wanted some posters so we searched the maze that is the market for some cute vintage movie posters.

 

Next, we went to Brick Lane market. We had a look at the vintage stalls, strolled the street and Jack played chess with the man who ‘plays chess for fun for free’ every Sunday. Next, we went to Old Spitalfields market. All the browsing was absolutely exhausting so we did the true British thing and stopped for tea. After we gained a bit of energy, we grabbed a doughnut – obviously a photogenic one for the pics – and I made Jack take a million photos of me. Honestly, that man is a saint. If he doesn’t complain when taking outfit pictures, he’s a keeper.

We stopped at our third and final market of the day – Petticoat Lane Market. To Jack this probably seemed like a horrifying, typical dirty London street selling fake Gucci and what claims to be vintage (really just dirty and used) clothing. But to me, it’s an absolute wonderland. If you look hard enough, there are some real bargains, including brand new things from Mango and Topshop. I spotted a dress for £10 that is still full price at £42 in Topshop. I would definitely recommend going there every now and again to see what they have. Whether you are a tourist or not, if you can get past the slightly scary Londoners and dingy streets, it’s a really great shopping destination when you are on a budget.

 

To bring the weekend to a close, we went back to my flat and began watching Harry Potter; our plan was to watch all 7 this week then go to the Warner Bros studio. Jack however, fell asleep whilst I edited the hundreds of pictures I got (I will be posting them for the foreseeable ever). He woke up with a new lease of life and we decided the weekend was not quite finished after all. We got ready and went to Pizza Union at King’s Cross. We then got the tube over to Tower Hill to take a Jack the Ripper tour around Whitechapel. It was so much fun and super interesting whilst being a slightly morbid way to spend your Sunday night. It made us feel like real life tourists, following a man around with an umbrella in the air with a bunch of people from around the world.

I have had the most incredible weekend. It’s so easy to get caught up in work and general daily life that you forget where you are. I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most amazing cities in the world. If you are too, I would highly recommend taking a day off from the ‘rat race’ lifestyle and really try to appreciate your surroundings.

I just want to say a big thank you to Jack for making me the best possible version of myself. You make me laugh, cry, smile and love like never before. This time one year ago, I could never have imagined myself being as happy as I am now.

 

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

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72 Hours in Rome

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The best kind of friends are ones you can make spontaneous plans with. Tommy and I did exactly that when we nonchalantly suggested a trip to Rome together this weekend. We spent 72 hours in the beautiful capital, meandering round the streets of Italy and soaking up its ceaseless culture.

 

Day 1

 

After arriving in Italia, we went straight to our hotel, St Peter’s Bed, a quaint little B&B located just outside of the Vatican City. The hotel was all we could have asked for and more. On a city break, I tend to think the accommodation doesn’t really matter as you spend most of the time exploring however, if it wasn’t for the characterful surroundings and our welcoming host it wouldn’t have been as charming.

As we only had 3 days in the city, we didn’t want to waste any time. The Colosseum was our first stop. I spent most of the time in sheer disbelief that we had actually made it to this iconic attraction in Rome together considering my lack of ability to even make plans for dinner. We went into the Colosseum to have a good look around which was definitely worthwhile. Tommy acted as my tour guide which may or may not have been educational – quite honestly I wouldn’t know the difference.

It’s fair to say Tommy and I aren’t the most cultured people in the world, so some of the beautiful monuments were slightly wasted on us; we had no idea what they were. Nonetheless, they were lovely to look at.

By the time we got round to eating, we were absolutely starvo so we attempted to go to the nearest place we could find. Typically, the nearest place was Subway. Determined to find some Italian cuisine, we walked and walked to find a cute little restaurant. We were hoping for heaps of pasta but much to our dismay, we were given about 6 pieces of ravioli… Anyway, we couldn’t really complain considering we were sat in Rome drinking prosecco at 1 in the afternoon.

Afterwards, we went to the Trevi Fountain. This was probably one of my favourite places, it was absolutely beautiful. Unsurprisingly it was rammed with tourists meaning you could barely move but when we did get a good view, it was breathtaking. Just a quick tip to take your own Polaroid camera when you’re there – we got charged 10 euros for 2 pictures. I personally was thrilled with them but Tommy wasn’t so impressed.

In the evening, we were ridiculously lazy and just went to McDonald’s for dinner. I did get to experience Maccas pesto pasta though which was an experience in itself.

 

Day 2

 

When in Italy it would be rude not to start your day with gelato, so that is exactly what we did – despite the fact that it was pouring with rain.

Afterwards, we headed straight to the Vatican City which was about 10 minutes away from our hotel. The queue to go inside circled the whole way around St Peter’s Square and it took us about an hour until we finally made it to the front. But it was so worth it. There aren’t many ways to make me speechless, in fact it’s actually unheard of. But the Vatican managed it. Although I couldn’t particularly relate to a lot of the religious beliefs inside, I was mesmerised by every inch of the artwork.

Another quick tip though, please don’t do an Abbie Gaunt and wear a super short (but super cute) skirt when visiting one of the most holy places in the world, it won’t be appreciated and you will have to walk around with a jacket round your legs…

For the rest of the day, we wondered the pretty streets in the rain and stumbled across even more incredible architecture. That city is literally never-ending.

 

Day 3 

 

The majority of day 3 was spent recovering from the night before. It wouldn’t have been a Tommy and Abbie trip without us getting very drunk which we accidentally did whilst attempting a civilised evening. We found some cute bars and sat drinking our fair share of cocktails and Peroni. In an attempt to spend less money and get more drunk (classy, yes) we skipped dinner. That didn’t last long when we found an amazing restaurant with possibly the best pizza I have ever eaten in my entire life; Ristorante Pizzería Imperiale, you were a dream.

Afterwards, we tried to find the Ice Bar, because is it really a city break without visiting the Ice Bar? However, instead of that we found the Pantheon (which we had accidentally missed on our tour of famous landmarks…) and a fancy club called Shari Vari. The rest of the night was a kind of blur, all I know was that it was a good one.

In the morning, we begrudgingly got up and packed to check out. We ate more ice cream for breakfast in hopes of curing our hangovers and walked the streets a little more.

With the little money we had left, we browsed the shops and I refrained from buying anything from Sephora – I amaze myself.

All in all I had the most wonderful trip with a truly good friend. I am so glad I have finally seen a small part of Italy and I can’t wait to explore more.

Next stop, Belgium!

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

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5th Day of Xmas: Christmas in London

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So the run up to Christmas this year has been super exciting because it’s my first time spending it in a big city! In my hometown, the Christmas light switch on is about as festive as it gets which involves a few sad-looking lights and a drooping Christmas tree.

Already, I have done so many fun things and there’s still 4 days to go until the big day! I thought I would put together a list of the best things I have done so far and the things I am hoping to do in the coming days before I go back home for the holiday.

Harrods

Ever since I was a little girl Harrods has been one of my favourite places in London. There’s just something about it that feels so magical; the doormen, the lights, the windows and extravagant decor – it makes you feel so special. I went this year to treat myself to a new Tiffany bracelet and to marvel at all the beautiful trees and decorations. Harrods is literally a day out in itself so I definitely recommend going, in particular at night when it’s all lit up.

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

How could I possibly not mention Winter Wonderland? It’s a necessity to go there if you’re in London at Christmas time. This was my first ever time visiting so it was super exciting for me (I have actually been 3 times now just because I am super extra). It has pretty much everything you could ask for when wanting to get into the holiday spirit; Christmas markets, festive fairground rides, winter warming foods, ice skating and even an ice kingdom. I definitely advise you to go and drink lots of mulled cider (essentially apple pie in liquid form), and eat chocolate churros whilst dancing to live music at the Bavarian Village.

Southbank Centre

When walking down the Southbank at this time of year there is no escaping the Christmas spirit. The festive market runs all the way along the river with stalls selling unusual gifts, hot chocolate and almost every kind of street food you could wish for. They also have a Rekorderlig Cider Lodge this year selling various flavours of mulled cider so you can sit in a tepee, sip on hot bevs and look out onto the London Eye.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

I went past the ice rink at the NHM this weekend and I am so glad I saw it! I don’t know if I will get chance to actually go skating before going home, partly because I might not get back in one piece if I do, but it’s definitely something you should stop by. The atmosphere was so enchanting with music playing and the beautiful backdrop of the buildings whilst everyone was skating around. Seeing everyone looking so happy was a lovely thing to watch, it made me feel super fuzzy and festive inside.

Gingerbread City at the Museum of Architecture

As much as I love the idea of making a gingerbread house at Christmas time, I have finally accepted that construction is just not for me – I’m better off just observing. Luckily, at the Museum of Architecture there is an entire city to see with the most extra gingerbread creations you could possibly find. Definitely a must see if you want some inspiration for your own designs or if like me, it’s a look and don’t touch situation.

Festive Afternoon Tea

So if you have read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I am obsessed with afternoon tea. Another one of my favourite things is alcohol… Put the two together and you have a dream come true. This is what Mr Fogg’s Residence are doing this year and it’s an absolute must on my list of fun and festive things to do. The afternoon tea includes either gin or champagne infused tea with Christmas inspired sandwiches and cakes in a traditional setting with live entertainment. If you’re not a huge fan of alcoholic tea, the Kensington Hotel are doing ‘tale as old as time’ themed afternoon tea which sounds super cute too!

Christmas Lights Tour

Another fairly obvious thing to do in London at Christmas is to look at all the beautiful lights. I have created a little tour of the best displays to see in the city.

Covent Garden market mistletoe display, Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, Picadilly Circus, Regent & Oxford street, Carnaby street and lastly, a walk along Waterloo bridge to see the skyline.

I have had such a wonderful time exploring all the things to do in London at Christmas but I am beyond excited to go home and spend it with my family!

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

If you’re interested in the other things I’m getting up to follow me on Instagram.

Or take a look at my previous Blogmas posts.

 

J’adore: Paris

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I am currently suffering from severe post holiday blues from a trip I took to Paris 11 months ago so I thought I would reminisce by posting about my time there.

I’ve been to Paris twice in my life, once when I was about 10 and again in January. The first time I went with family and spent the entire time either in Disneyland or in a Disney shop. The second time, I went with my ex-boyfriend and spent most of the time alone. Despite my strange circumstances (that we don’t like to discuss because of obvious reasons… weird), Paris may be my favourite city in the world. Granted I have only been to a few, but I don’t think anything could beat the Parisian food, fashion, culture and architecture.

Instead of going at the weekend, I went midweek which I would actually really recommend if you’re able to. I managed to bag my hotel and flights for only £230 and the attractions were a lot quieter

Of course, I did all of the generic touristy things whilst I was there; the Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame, shopping down the Champs-Élysées, fancy dinner, excessive macaroon eating, etc. I also went to the Louvre which was super exciting. I just about saw the Mona Lisa in person after mostly looking at it through the screen on my camera (as a generation, I admit we suck). After spending what felt like a whole city break looking at the art – it’s so freaking big – I found a courtyard at the Louvre where I just sat and admired the area. There were only a few passers-by and it was dead silent apart from the light sound of violins playing nearby. As novel as this sounds, it was so peaceful and warming to find somewhere quiet in a big city.

 

 

My favourite thing I did by far was a nighttime boat tour of the River Seine. It may have been the coldest I have ever been in my life but it was totally worth it; I didn’t even take any pictures, I just enjoyed the moment. I got to see all of Paris’ most beautiful sights beautifully lit up; sounds totally cringeworthy but it was one of those moments where you stop, look around and appreciate just how lucky you are.

I also took it upon myself to dress as the Parisiennes do because when in Paris right? I absolutely love their effortlessly chic style so I tried to incorporate some of it into my own outfits. After doing plentiful amounts of research (Pinterest you are my hero) I found that they primarily wear tailored, minimal and neutral pieces. It was quite difficult channeling minimalism as it was January and bloody freezing – all I wanted was to wear my duvet, (strangely a look that seems to be acceptable now with all the puffer jackets? If only I’d of known) but obviously beauty is pain so I fought through the frost for the good photo ops. Here is me smiling through the pain of not being able to feel my fingers or toes.

 

 

I also went to Disneyland, yes, I did indeed go to Disneyland on my own and honestly, it was a truly… character building experience. Now, I’m not opposed to doing things alone, I will happily go for dinner and ask for a table for one or sit and have coffee whilst reading a book. But going to Disney on your own is a completely different ball game, in fact, it’s not even playing the same sport. Despite being alone, it was just as magical. I went on a few rides, met Minnie, watched the Frozen parade, drank hot chocolate and cried at the beauty of it all.

 

 

Now I am definitely off to plan my next trip!

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

Winterville

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I just wouldn’t be a London blogger if I didn’t write a post about a winter themed amusement park at Christmas time. I think it’s a right of passage to  take photos of you with your hot chocolate next to a burning fire with a ferris wheel strategically placed in the background. And so here I am.

 

 

In my attempt to be a little less generic, I am going to tell you about Winterville rather than its debatably better parent park, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Winterville is based in Clapham Common, only about 15 minutes from my flat which is super convenient for when I fancy a bevvy hot chocolate – I have been twice in the last week purely for that reason.

So a Christmas event in a park – you know the drill – mulled wine, German markets, blazing lights, fairground rides and people everywhere. Of course, Winterville has all of that but one thing it lacks is the mosh pit of people everywhere you go. It’s a lot more civilised than WW which makes it really lovely to walk around without being ambushed by children. If you’re looking for a cute date idea or a night out with friends but don’t want it to be too hectic this is definitely the place for you.

The choice of food is amazing. They have a designated area for all of the food trucks instead of them being spread out everywhere so you can weigh up all your options in one place. I chose a stand that sold squid and chips because I was feeling a little fancy – it was amazing and really reasonably priced. Obviously, I had to have a bev to go with dinner so I had a mulled wine spiced with orange. It was SO good and made me feel very festive.

After food we went to the area where all of the events are held. There was a live band playing and the atmosphere was great. There are loads of really cool things planned in the next couple of weeks so if you fancy cirque du cabaret or a 90s roller disco, that’s the place to be.

 

 

Of course, the inner child in me had to attempt to win a huge cuddly toy; like I wasn’t going to take one of those home to annoy my Mum. Unfortunately I didn’t win anything (remind me to practice throwing balls into a bucket) so we went on the amusements instead. Flashing multi-coloured lights will never not excite me.

I don’t think I have mentioned that it was actually a date to Winterville I was hoping to have gone on the ferris wheel because honestly, don’t we all want the classic movie moment at the top? But instead, I was made to go on the rollercoaster. Granted, it wasn’t the Tower of Terror but still, laughing like a crazy woman wasn’t really the look I was going for. But it was all in good fun!

My favourite thing about Winterville was the BAILEYS HOT CHOCOLATE. Nope, I’m not kidding. When I asked for one the woman assumed I didn’t want alcohol (cons of looking 12) but I quickly told her otherwise because how else is a girl supposed to drink her hot chocolate? We stood round a fire pit – which I forgot to mention are dotted everywhere – to keep warm. It was so nice and so relaxing and made me SO happy; I felt warm both on the inside and outside.

 

 

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

I Love: London

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So i’m not one for big days out. After being somewhere for approximately two hours I am exhausted and ready to get back to the comfort of my bed. But London is always an exception. I love the individual shops, the fashion, the fresh flowers and the general buzz.

Fancy Food: As a surprise for my Mum’s birthday, we booked to go to The Ivy for lunch. This was my first fine dining experience and it’s safe to say I could get used to it. The service was incredible and they made us feel so welcome – as if we didn’t look out of place. I had ‘Spaghettini’ – pasta with crab, chilli, wild garlic and bottarga. Stupidly I didn’t expect ‘Spaghettini’ to be spaghetti (I should have stayed in school). Despite managing to order the most ungraceful dish to eat in a fancy restaurant, I enjoyed it. I think it’s fair to say i’ll have to marry into money to be able to go to places like The Ivy regularly. Here’s hoping.

Theatre: In the evening we went to see Dreamgirls. We booked the tickets about 5 hours beforehand and managed to bag central seats five rows from the stage for £25 each (so if you’re going to see a show I recommend going to Leicester Square and booking from one of the agents on the day). I can honestly say it was one of the best musicals I have ever seen, the vocals were incredible and the costumes were a dream. We were also lucky enough to see Amber Riley from Glee in it who was absolutely phenominal.

Outfit: What I love about London is how fashion forward everything is – anything goes. There’s something about that city that makes everything seem so effortlessly chic. I layered a frilly high neck top with another floral frilly top. To make it look a little less girly I wore ripped straight leg jeans – my go to jeans at the moment because they’re so comfortable but still look cute. Tragically, I ended up walking round in fluffy sliders – not exactly the epitome of fashion – but I was in so much pain with the heels i’d been wearing I didn’t care. Anyway, in the end I kind of came to love them, it was like walking round London in slippers.

All in all I had a wonderful day. Even though I felt aggitated and anxious with all the people, I had my family around me, laughing and making memories. We spent quality time together which we rarely do. I love days like these.