I’ve often remarked that one of the biggest and best parts of London life is taking the opportunity to leave it – and I mean this in the best possible way. For some Australians, they’ll even cite this as their core motivation for moving over here; proximity to ‘the continent’ etc. etc. Personally, I’m in love with this city more than anywhere else but at the same time, I find London life to be a tad claustrophobic at times. After a while, a girl begins to miss little things like seeing the stars at night.
So, having not left town since I returned from my Australian sojourn earlier this year, I was absolutely delighted to get out of town to visit Kent for the very first time last weekend. What ensued was some quality family time spent exploring Faversham and Canterbury, indulging in history lessons, cake, pretty gardens and some classical music along the way.
And I got to see some stars.
To me, nothing beats shopping in Melbourne.
I’m not sure if it’s purely a taste or specific style thing (once a Melburnian, always a Melburnian…) but I’m yet to find the same fashion induced joy as that from my hometown anywhere else in the world. I’ve often
remarked complained about the lack of value for money in London (particularly when it comes to buying shoes), the all too familiar annoyance of spotting at least a handful of people wearing the same Zara top you just bought on the weekend and, let’s not forget, the sheer chaos of shopping on London’s high streets.
But it’s not just about that. It’s about the event of shopping in Melbourne, the actual act of walking the streets and browsing the boutiques (mainstream, vintage and everything in between). It’s about the afternoons spent with friends, about the coffee breaks when your feet need a rest and the mere act of perusing a lot of pretty, good quality and affordable things.
Brunswick Street is one of Melbourne’s gems – full of great restaurants and brunch hot spots as well as a few of my favourite happy places to shop. Case in point:
A stationery and design lover’s dream.
The Fabric Store
My mother is an extremely talented dressmaker so for me, I walk in and see potential clothes.
An institution which needs to be seen to be believed.
Whilst you’re in the ‘hood, you’ll need some sustenance. I recommend checking out Broadsheet for some inspiration.
Part of what I really loved about being home in Melbourne over the past few weeks was looking at my home city through a different lens. I’ve gotten so used to sharing glimpses of my London life with my family and friends back in Australia that it was a refreshing reversal to instead be sharing snaps of my Melbourne home with those back in the UK. It really made me think more thoughtfully about what I was doing whilst I was home. Now that I’m back in London and back to work, I’m so excited to be able to share a few of my favourite Melbourne things with you all as I reminisce.
On that note, many visitors to Melbourne will have heard about the Queen Victoria Market (the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere) however, the perhaps slightly lesser known South Melbourne Market is, without a doubt, my favourite in town.
My ever first agency job was just up the road from the market so I, naturally, have nostalgic connections to it. We used to pop down at lunchtime for famous South Melbourne Dim Sims or hot jam donuts to help us through chaotic afternoons. It was a delightful ritual and one which I’m still a little bit sad to no longer have – but it’s comforting to know that the market is still as buzzing and vibrant as I remember it.
But don’t just take my nostalgia laden word for it – here are five reasons why you need to visit South Melbourne Market the next time you’re in the ‘hood:
1. Pretty Produce
2. Fresh Flowers
3. Local Design
4. Local cafes and pubs
5. South Melbourne Shopping
Plan your excursion here.
The first time I went to Paris was in 2012. I remember feeling content at the end of the few days that I didn’t really feel compelled to return to the city again. Despite being one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places I’ve even seen, I just didn’t get the magic of it at the time. In hindsight, this was probably because I had a nasty sinus infection, it was the third stop in a month-long trip, I was tired and it was January so absolutely poured with rain the entire time. Fun, right?!
Serendipitously, I’ve found myself drawn back to Paris no less than four times in the past two years. Most recently, to make like Carrie Bradshaw and pop over for lunch with a couple of the girls.
There’s really not much else to say, other than I get it now. I mean – when you find yourself drinking champagne, watching the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower, it’d be hard not to.
Paris, je t’aime.
There’s some cities that I’ve been to which have been purely and utterly love at first sight: New York City, Venice and London, obviously. Berlin was not one of them.
My love for Berlin has been more of a slow burn. There’s something cold and quiet about the city that makes it feel, on the surface, unwelcoming and a bit disinterested. It’s not crowded and its best bits are decidedly hidden – but as you come to learn, part of Berlin’s charm is having you discover them on your own.
It goes without saying, but Berlin’s obviously seen some dark days. The history in the city is overwhelming and totally humbling. This most recent trip in late November marked my fourth trip to the city and I can honestly say that every single time I’ve been, I’ve learned something completely new. I don’t think anything I’ve seen in my travels has really had the same impact as when I first stood at the Berlin wall – I mean, they just put up a WALL. It’s crazy.
Aside from all this though, Berlin has so much to offer in terms of shopping, design, food and some of the best coffee you’ll find outside Melbourne. Having now travelled a bit more around the rest of Germany, there’s really nowhere else like it. It’s affordable, quirky and ultimately, such a rewarding place to spend some time.
Until next time, Berlin.
Since moving to London, with its seemingly endless grey days and never-ending darkness during winter, I’ve become quite enamoured with sunshine.
I can’t believe that I took it for granted for so long: perhaps all Australians really are genetically predisposed to worship the sun. So, although we’ve been quite lucky in London this year in terms of the number of sunny days we’ve been blessed with, you can only imagine how excited I was to re-visit California (even if only for a week!) to soak up every last second of sunshine I can before winter officially hits.
I had the immense pleasure of spending a few days at the incomparable Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego – perhaps one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been. Spin class by the beach (complete with a serenade by the US Navy on their morning run), morning walks and jogs along the beach, the sea breeze and bottomless brunch – what’s not to love? As I stood with my toes in the pacific, I can quite honestly say that London has never felt so far away. The best part? It’s all only a 10.5 hour flight away.
Add a visit to the San Diego Zoo (where I was perhaps disproportionately excited to see real-life Flamingoes for the first time – what can I say, I love the colour pink…), a stroll and afternoon shopping down through Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and some attempted star-gazing at the Griffith Observatory, my brief visit reminded me just how much there is to love about California life.
After you’ve driven around the picturesque streets, stopped for some gingerbread in Grasmere, visited Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farm and hiked up to see Aira Force Waterfall, it’s probably about time to participate in another fun Lake District activity: vintage shopping in Coniston.
Because, let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t be a trip to the country without some time spent perusing vintage wares, dreaming of the house you’re going to put all those shabby-chic mis-matched tea cups in and all the occasions you can totally wear that top hat.
Be strong, self control, be strong.
As any traveller knows, there are few places in the world which present themselves as exactly as you imagine them. For me, New York City and Paris have always topped the list: I’ll never forget the first time I looked up at Manhattan’s skyscrapers or stumbled across The Eiffel Tower. There’s something really special about how equally magical and reassuring it can be for reality to coincide what’s in your imagination every so often.
Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, with its rolling hills, picturesque gardens and nostalgic imagery, is one of those places.
Since I first moved to the UK, the Lake District and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm have been top of my list of destinations to visit. Having grown up with the tales of Peter, Jemima, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail’s antics (not to mention this TV series…), I’ve been itching to get up north to see what Miss. Potter found so inspiring.
After visiting it last Sunday, what can I say? Except now, I totally get it.
Walking through her house, seeing the very floorboards present in some of her books and reading her letters to friends describing her surroundings makes you feel close to the author (in a similar way as a visit to the British Library). The whole experience, quite frankly, will leave you wishing that you could have been Miss Potter’s friend.
Hill Top is obviously a stark contrast from London: the air is fresh and you’re surrounded by green in every direction (a characteristic of the Lake District in general). Wandering through the gardens, nestled in the hills of the English countryside, it’s hard not to feel relaxed as you keep a keen eye out for Peter and his friends.
The Lake District is full of beautiful sights which only increase in natural beauty if it’s been a while since you’ve left the big smoke. That said, nothin’ beats a pretty waterfall. On my recent visit to the Lake District, we paid Aira Force waterfall (just by the rather stunning Ullswater) a quick visit.
Though apparently quite a touristy sight, the waterfall is nestled amongst the trees and is relatively pleasant ‘hike’ up half a dozen flights of stairs. Thankfully, the path to the top is littered with sculptural art pieces and ‘fun’ facts about the different trees you’ll encounter along the way, increasing your nature chat exponentially (and who doesn’t need that?).
The tea rooms are small but warm and welcoming – the gigantic scones, ladened with clotted cream were an absolute dream, fuelling us with the requisite energy for powering up those stairs.
And once you get to the top, listening to the water crashing down on the rocks below surrounded by nothing by greenery, dreary old grey London certainly feels very, very far away.
My recent trip to Italy was one of the most magical holidays I’ve ever had. There’s so much I love about the country and the Italian way of life. After falling in love with Venice, a day trip to Capri during our stay in Sorrento truly had me head over heels.
The island of Capri is an easy ferry/cruise from either Sorrento or Naples. It’s most famous for being the haunt of the rich and famous (like Jackie Kennedy) who frequented the island during their Italian sojourns. And whilst there’s no denying that the Island exudes money (private yacht anyone?) it’s still undeniably beautiful and quite charming.
To get to the town centre on foot, you have to navigate your way through the small, steep streets. Be warned – you will be walking uphill for a good twenty minutes so you probably don’t want to be doing this in the 40deg summer heat. In April, it was nothing a refreshing lemon slushy couldn’t fix.
Spend some time wandering the streets, past the luxury shops and five-star hotels, stop for some pizza and enjoy a glass of Rosé in the sunshine and trust me, you’ll never want to leave.
With the sun shining and the sea sparkling, grey little London felt very, very far away indeed during our all-too-brief visit. I left with a new pair of black cat eye sunglasses in an attempt to take a small morsel of the Capri glamour back to London with me.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here are 10 photos that will make you want to spend a day in Capri.