5th Day of Xmas: Christmas in London

World

 

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.

 

4th Day of Xmas: Festive Reads

Books

One thing I am most excited for when I go home for Christmas is to sit by the fire, wrapped in a blanket whilst eating mince pies and reading a good book. I can’t wait to have absolutely no responsibilities and nothing to do – to feel like a kid again.

In the new year I plan on reading some more mature books because I feel as though now I am independent and I have a proper job, I should read some of the classics. But for now, I’m sticking to my guns.

Despite already having a stack full of unread books in my flat, I had to buy these two to add to my collection, because Christmas themed books are obviously a must.

I’ve never really thought about reading a festive novel, other than the picture-books my Mum used to read to me on Christmas eve when I was younger. I automatically think the way to feel festive is to watch a film but when I saw these on Amazon I thought maybe these could be my new tradition.

Let it Snow – John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson

This book is made up on 3 adorably cringey romantic stories that are sure to make you feel lonely as heck at this time of year. It begins with Johnson’s The Jubilee Express, followed by Green’s A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, and it closes with The Patron Saints of Pigs by Myracle. I’ve read books written by multiple authors in the past and not really been keen on how the story flows, but I thought I would give this one the benefit of the doubt because it is written by 3 really great authors.

The three stories all intertwine because they are all set on Christmas eve when a storm hits, causing chaos for the residents of a town. The character’s stories rely heavily on each others actions, even though they don’t know each other.

One character ventures out into the storm from a stranded train and sets off a series of events that will change quite a few lives. Another girl takes a risky shortcut with a stranger starting a budding romance and three friends compete to win a race to their local waffle house.

Each of the stories are unbelievably cringey but in light of the holiday season, they’re cute and made me smile/feel super sad about not having a boyfriend.

 

Almost Midnight – Rainbow Rowell

I’m sure many of you have heard of Rainbow Rowell before, the writer of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park. Considering her track record of amazing books, I thought Almost Midnight would live up to the quirky, mature and unique standard of her writing. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise it was going to be an illustrated book, which as nice as it is, makes me feel a little bit like a toddler. It’s also actually two short stories – which is fine – but they’re really short, like toddler short. Anyway, after I had gotten over the fact that I had paid £9 for a picture book with a few words, I got into it.

The first short story is about 16-year-old Noel and Mags who meet every year at the same New Years Eve party, and every time fall a little more in love with each other. The second short story is about Elena, who begins to queue for the new Star Wars film (very relevant right now) and meets Gabe, a fellow Star Wars fan.

Although both of the stories are kind of high school, they are sweet and I enjoyed them; they were really easy to pick up and put down in my lunch breaks and weren’t too taxing to read when I was tired.

As much as I did enjoy these books, nothing will ever compete with the story my Mum read me on the 24th all those years ago.

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.

 

2nd Day of Xmas: The Best of Christmas Films

Film & TV

This weekend the weather was rubbish, I was exhausted and all I wanted was a cuddle from my Mum. Of course, the only cure for feeling like this is to binge watch as many hours of film and TV you can fit into the space of 48 hours. Because it’s Christmas and I am doing blogmas, I decided to stray away from my beloved Parks and Recreation box set in order to watch some good old Christmas films.

I’m going to try my best to make this post a little different because I know the majority of people’s favourite films are the same.

I have so many memories of watching films from when I was younger and off school pretending to be sick so I could sit and watch Christmas TV all day. The one problem is, I can barely remember the names to any of them! Anyway, here we go.

  • The Santa Clause (Not to be confused with Santa Clause: The Movie). 

This has always been my favourite Christmas film of all time. It was what truly kept me believing in Santa for all those years so it holds many a dear memories. I also love how we have totally taken Bernard the Elf’s style in wearing baker boy hats and berets!

 

  • Elf 

Of course this has to be somewhere on top of the list because it’s one of the most significant seasonal films of all time. And as shocking as this may be, I saw it for the first time last year! As a child I always preferred the really tacky Christmas films but now I’m older (obviously not at heart) I appreciate the beauty of Christmas in New York a bit more.

  • Home Alone 1 & 2 

Every single time the Home Alone music starts up, I cry. Every. Time. As a family we have always loved watching these films together. When we went to New York we even went to some of the filming locations. It just reminds me of sitting in my living room, the fire on, with my Mum, Dad, brother and Grandma eating celebrations. The best kind of films are ones that bring back memories.

  • Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

This isn’t a Christmas film as such but it’s always on at Christmas so I thought I would mention it. Mr Magorium always reminds me of this one time I was home sick from school (this time I was actually sick) and me and my Mum were both cuddled under my duvet on the sofa in the dark and I just remember feeling all warm and fuzzy inside – maybe it was just the virus but it still makes me happy.

  • The Ultimate Christmas Present

So you might not have heard of this one, I happened to see it one year on the Disney Channel (this was probably only like 2 years ago, I’m still a huge kid at heart hehe). I’ve never seen anyone put it on their favourite film list so I’m assuming it’s not very popular, or people just couldn’t take how unbelievably cringey it is. But in the light of the festive season, it’s a pretty cute film and I enjoyed it!

  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol

This is just a short film, it’s only about 20 minutes but they might be the most emotional 20 minutes of your life. I first saw this last year with my ex boyfriend who we do not talk about . I don’t even care that it holds memories because it is just such an adorable film. I intend on showing this to my children every year on Christmas eve as a tradition when I’m older.

If you have any other suggestions please comment them! I’m going to have a lot of time on my hands when I go home on Friday.

 

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.

 

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

Festive Flat Decor

Lifestyle

This year will be my first year without spending the weeks coming up to Christmas at home. That means no tree decorating whilst listening to Christmas music and eating my dad’s mince pies ☹️. In an attempt to make myself and my flat feel a little more festive, I went on the hunt for some cute decorations this weekend. I thought I would show you what I found.

I recently mentioned that I wanted my decor to be ‘shabby chic’ ish in my previous post. I had this vision in my head of it being like all the Pinterest posts with a holly covered mantelpiece and lights on every inch of the walls. Unfortunately my room is approximately the size of a large cardboard box so this was a long-shot, but I did manage to find some pretty cute things.

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I bought this ridiculously tacky silver foil garland because it was only £1 and honestly, what is more festive than a string of snowflakes hanging from your curtain pole? As ugly as it is, I actually kind of love it. You can’t go wrong with tacky at Christmas, it’s definitely the best way to be.

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Every year I get a Poinsettia; it’s such a beautiful plant, the colours are so rich and festive and bright. As soon as I popped it in this classic Ikea pot (I’m pretty sure everyone in the country owns at least one of these) it automatically cheered up my room. If nothing else, you definitely need one of these at Christmas time! They’re super cheap too, I bought this one from Morrison’s for only £1.50.

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I miss my little pup so much, so when I saw this little sausage dog decoration I knew I had to get it. I’ve put it on my lamp so I can see it and to remind me that it’s only 10 days until I see my little fluff! (Yes, I’m a saddo). I bought this from Wilkinson’s for £1.

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I also bought these super cute lights from Wilkinson’s for £6. They come as a set of three little jars with snow balls and holly in them. How adorable are they!? As soon as I saw them there was no way I was leaving the shop without buying them so I didn’t realise that they needed to be hung from somewhere and that you need a screwdriver to open the battery box. Luckily for me, I’m a DIY expert so I used my tweezers to open the box and taped them to the wall using boob tape – genius.

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Lastly, I bought this XMAS light up sign. It’s probably the only thing I got which remotely suits my shabby chic theme (I tried my best). I put it next to this pistachio chocolate scented candle that I was given as a gift last Christmas to make it extra festive. This was £9 from… you guessed it, Wilkinson’s.

All I need to do now is make myself a hot chocolate and watch Elf.

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

Winterville

World

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

The London Underground Cooking School

Lifestyle

 

So last night was my first ever Kudos Christmas party. I felt so lucky to be celebrating with such amazing and talented people.

We began our evening by drinking prosecco at precisely 4 o clock in the afternoon, because don’t all good parties start with unnecessarily early alcohol consumption? Whilst sipping on bubbles, a bag was handed out filled with pink and white carnations. We each had to take a flower from the bag in order to allocate us to a team. Once we had got into two separate teams we were given some questions that when answered, would give us a clue as to where we were spending the rest of night (I know this seems super long-winded but it was fun, honest!) The clue was a postcode that we had to walk to.

After what was meant to be a 15 minute walk, we finally arrived at the location – the London Underground Cooking School. We started by drinking more bubbles (champagne this time) and eating posh canapés before being split into groups and assigned to a professional chef who taught us how to make the key elements of our dishes.

First, we had to prepare the fish for our crispy sea bass with roasted beetroot and celeriac remoulade starter. Me being the girly girl I am was not happy about having to cut a whole fish into pieces but I did it anyway… with gritted teeth of course.

I then had to prepare my vegetarian main course which was goats cheese stuffed artichoke, vegetarian scotch egg and stuffed onion. I like to think I was doing pretty well until I dropped my artichoke down a hole in the worktop so the pro had to start again for me – it was probably for the best anyway.

For dessert we were taught to make chocolate torte which is basically a dream come true for me. It’s a good job I was useless at preparing it because otherwise I would never eat a proper meal again.

Afterwards we sat at a huge table laid out with crackers, presents and enough wine for all of London, to do a quiz. Unfortunately because almost everyone at Kudos has at least 6 years on me, I had no bloody idea what any of the questions meant let alone what the answers were (reminder for me to learn something, anything) so our team did indeed come last. Oops?

Shortly after everyone had calmed down from their competitive rage we sat and had our 3 course meal. It was SO good and probably one of the best meals I have had in the past 3 months – not that it had much competition. I can’t say that I had anything to do with the Michelin standards but I did give it my best and it’s the taking part that counts right?

So after countless glasses of wine, a heck of a lot of food and about 50 pictures in the photobooth we decided not to call it a night and to instead go into Shoreditch. We went to a couple of bars and the club Cargo – a very strange situation to be in with new work colleagues but nevertheless, I danced until 2 in the morning.

Overall, I had a really wonderful night. Partly because of the amazing Kudos team but also because of all the guys at the Underground Cookery School. They were so lovely and most importantly they kept my glass full all night! It’s fair to say we have all struggled at work this morning. But our boss did buy us all breakfast to soften the 9AM start so we’re all just about still going.

Hugs and wishes,

Abbie x

 

 

Bluebird Brunch

Lifestyle, Style
There aren’t many advantages of living in Wimbledon; it’s a trek to central London, most people are aged 60 + and the nightlife is almost as dead as back in Kenilworth. But one reason why I am glad I moved to South West London is because I am so close to Chelsea – one of my favourite places in the city. So I spent Sunday doing what I do best, shopping, eating and acting as if I belong on Made in Chelsea.
My OOTD consisted of the sparkliest of headbands from Zara, a gingham dress from Brandy Melville, a grey faux fur jacket from Topshopknee high H&M boots and a Kate Spade bag. I was channelling some serious Blair Waldorf vibes in this outfit. I really felt the part whilst I was walking down the Kings Road – fake it till you make it, right?
I firstly went to Bluebird cafe, a place I have always really wanted to visit as I have heard such good reviews (and it’s very Instagram friendly). The waiter was a bit shocked when I said I just wanted a table for one but it didn’t kill my positive spirit, I was perfectly happy in my own company even with the numerous cute couples around me. I sat outside under pretty fairy lights, decorations and the warmest heater in the world, all cuddled in a blanket. Despite the fact I am supposed to be practising veganism at the moment, I couldn’t not go for the avocado and poached eggs on sourdough bread because my inner white girl has missed it so much over the past few months. I’m not sure if it was so good because I haven’t had a proper meal in a while or because it was just that good. Although it was a pretty expensive brunch, I was happy to have spent the money because of my overall experience. The ambience was lovely, the food was great and the staff were super accommodating (despite getting slightly judged for being on my own!)
I spent the second part of my day shopping on the Kings Road, a notoriously expensive street. Granted, I could only afford to go into about 3 of the shops down there but I still had a lot of fun window shopping and getting inspiration from high end fashion. I also wanted to get some Christmas decor inspiration because it’s already the 5th and I have nothing up! I first went into Anthropologie, a super cute shop that sells shabby chic clothing and home accessories. They had a ton of gorgeous Christmas decorations, none of which I could afford but it did give me some ideas as to what I can do with my room – I think i’m going to go for the rustic look as that seems to be everywhere this year.
I will definitely have a Christmas decor post up soon!
I have also decided to do a little Christmas blogmas. Of course I was far too unorganised to do the generic blogmas throughout all of December so instead I am going to do ’12 days of Christmas’ from the 15th to the 26th!
Hugs and wishes,
Abbie x