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Ducks, ‘dogs and Pimm’s: Another Taste of Taste of London

Sorry guys, I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Seems I’ve been simultaneously lacking in inspiration, preoccupied and melting a bit in the London heat.

That said, exciting things have been going on: Royal Ascot, Ed Sheeran & Take That at the O2 (though sadly not at the same time), a seemingly endless supply of Pimm’s and, as this post’s title suggests, Taste of London.

I blogged about this delightful foodie event this time last year (where has the time gone!?) and my love for it hasn’t waned. Particularly because this year, in contrast to last year’s torrential downpour, we were blessed with one of the most lovely sunshiney days we’d seen in a while. The London skies have now returned to their annoyingly clichéd drizzly grey hue so what better time to reminisce!

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A few of my favourites from the day:

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The 5 Golden Rules of The London Underground

Londoners (those both old and new) have a love/hate relationship with the London Underground. Personally, I’m mildly obsessed. Mostly, it’s the history that I love; how the growth of each colourful line tells a story about London’s past and future. Find yourself in town during a Tube Strike and you’ll realise quickly that it truly is the lifeblood of London. Because of this, there’s understandably a bit of etiquette involved. So if you’re new in town or just stopping by for a visit, there are a few golden rules of riding the London Underground that you need to know before you even attempt to mind the gap:

 

1. RELINQUISH ALL PERSONAL SPACE.

In any other scenario, it’d almost be considered inappropriate. On the Tube, it’s practically a necessity to get up close and personal with your fellow commuters. It’s totally fine to be breathing down someone’s neck, reading their book or newspaper over their shoulder if it means we can all fit on board.  Further to this:

2. PUSH OR BE PUSHED.

Go on, you can fit. Really. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and politeness will get you nowhere except very, very late to work.

3. DO NOT TALK. ESPECIALLY TO STRANGERS.

As much as it pains me, most London commuters would rather chew off their own arm than engage in conversation during their morning or evening commute. You’ve been warned.

4. STAND ON THE RIGHT.

Over two years in London and this rule still baffles me. Australians drive on the left and keep to the left. Brits drive on the left and keep to the right. But whatever. Conform or find yourself the recipient of some huffing and puffing and profanity.

5. EVEN FLEETING EYE CONTACT IS JUST NOT OKAY.

Trust me. Just don’t.

 

The thing I absolutely love about these rules is that to Londoners, these are all just the way of the world: none of the above is out of the ordinary whatsoever. Most of the time, I find there’s something comforting about the shared lack of comfort – the unspoken acknowledgement of the ways of the Tube. But you know what they say about rules: they were made to be broken by chatty expat Australians.

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London Links

Today has been a gloriously sunny Sunday in London. Fittingly, drizzly rain has just descended as another weekend draws to a close but at least I got to spend a few blissful hours in Parsons Green enjoying the dose of vitamin D. Summer is on its way!

I’ve been back in town for a few weeks now and am slowly adjusting back to London life. As chapter 2 of my adventure continues, one of my resolutions is to reinvigorate MissECalwell and keep in touch with you all on a less sporadic basis. London life has taken on a new, more permanent meaning for me and yet I still feel like I’ve still only just scratched the surface of my British Bucket List. So each week, I’m going to share my favourite London links and inspiration in an effort to keep momentum going – and in doing so, I invite you to do the same! Sharing is caring, after all.

So, without further ado –

What I’m watching:

What Olivia Did. I’m so hooked on her videos – I absolutely love her optimism and fun take on 60s/70s style.

What I’m reading:

I’m still recovering from Where Women are Kings – possibly one of the most striking books I’ve read in quite a while. This Aussie’s piece on how relentless London life can be for expats was a weirdly comforting read for me. As much as I love this city, expat life can be tough here and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in thinking so.

What I’m eating & drinking:

Coffee from Hally’s. A month in Melbourne and my coffee snob ways have returned. Bring on the extortionately expensive hipster brew – I’ve got no shame.

What I’m doing:

To be honest, not a whole lot.  To compensate, I’ve been frequenting Another Space trying desperately to get back in shape after indulging in all the foodie delights of Melbourne.

 

How about you?

 

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A Bank Holiday Date with the Royal Academy

Spending my days off in one of London’s incredible museums or galleries is absolutely one of my favourite things to do in the whole entire world. Though two years have passed since I moved, I’m more settled and have made some dear friends, I find that my habit (or penchant) for solo dates has stuck with me from my early days in the city. Luckily, London’s plethora of options has me spoiled for choice.

I love the progressiveness of the V&A, the awe-inspiring artefacts in the British Museum and the personality of the National Portrait Gallery. Today, I headed to the Royal Academy (which previously hosted one of my favourite exhibits I’ve ever seen – Abstract Expressionism) to ponder the moody optimism of 1930s America in America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s.

Between the storytelling and beautiful art, there’s something I find really comforting and humbling about wandering through the galleries with other like-minded souls. This show was small but thoughtful and I left its considered collection feeling optimistic about the concept of the American Dream. 

There are so many things I love about living in London but the privilege of being able to escape from the world into these magical places remains firmly at the top of my list.

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Saturday Feasting at Broadway Market

There are SO many markets in London but I have to say, Broadway Market is top of my list (with Columbia Road an unquestionable second). Unfortunately, the market is right across the other side of town for me so I don’t get to frequent it as often as I’d like – but when I do venture out east, I’m never disappointed.

With it’s array of sourdough donuts, fried chicken sandwiches, duck fat chips drowning in truffle laced mayonnaise, an endless supply of fantastic coffee, independent designer wares and London Fields: I really can’t think of a better (or more delicious) way to spend a sunny Saturday.

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Imitating The Imitation Game: A Visit to Bletchley Park

Since seeing The Imitation Game a few years ago, visiting Bletchley Park has been on my British Bucket List. So in the midst of January’s seemingly endless grey skies, rain and post-Christmas blues, it felt like the time was right to finally pay the iconic place a visit.

Bletchley Park, for those who aren’t familiar, is an estate just outside of London which functioned as a top-secret central location for the code-breakers during WWII. It was also here that Alan Turing invented the Turing Machine – one of the first ever computers. No biggie.

Aside from some pretty lovely scenery, it’s mind-blowing as you walk the grounds to think of everything that happened there and how it really wasn’t all that long ago.  The secrecy that was required and the sheer intelligence of the workers is so impressive and really quite humbling.

But don’t even get me started on the pigeons.

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Christmas in the Countryside: Bradford on Avon

Merry Christmas and happy new year everyone! What a year. But more to come on the joys of 2016 over the next few days.

After what felt like a marathon of Christmas parties, lunches and end of work chaos, by the end of last week I was well and truly looking forward to a few cosy days in the country. Last year, I went back to Melbourne for Christmas for some much-needed sun and family time: it was a whirlwind visit and though great, it’s sadly not something my bank account permits me to indulge in annually. So, this year I spent my ‘orphan Christmas’ with a few friends in the delightfully picturesque Bradford-on-Avon.

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Though small, the town was beautiful, friendly and welcoming: exactly what I was looking for during the festive season away from home. Because of the time of year, most things were closed over the few days we were down there which really forced us to slow down. It’s amazing how easily you become addicted to the pace of London life. To spend such a large amount of our time inside, relaxing, cooking and watching all the Christmas movies Netflix had to offer almost felt like a novelty.

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Don’t worry though – we still managed to find the pub (The Bear Inn) and good food (Timbrell’s Yard and The Weaving Shed) to sustain us. But mostly, it was strolling through the greenery and contemplating what on earth I was thinking by ordering a turkey large enough to feed 11-14 people when there were only four of us. Life lesson: they’re not exaggerating the portion sizes.

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So now I’m back in London, spending ‘Chrimbo Limbo’ catching up on all those decidedly non-blog worthy life admin tasks I’ve neglected over the past few months of travel and socialising. YAY!

Here’s to the last week of 2016 – let’s make it a good one.

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Hampstead Heath

I’ve remarked previously how since moving to London I’ve missed the sunshine and beach like crazy. And whilst that’s still very true,  upon further reflection I think what this urge really stems from is a desire for escape: escape from the inherent claustrophobia of the city. Upon visiting Hampstead Heath this past weekend, I’m now more sure than ever that what my soul regularly needs to be happy and content is open space and fresh air.

When I think about it, it makes sense: I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. If you walk five or ten minutes in any direction from my house, you’ll hit a park, the bush and/or some sort of wildlife.  It’s a green, picturesque part of the world and looking back now, I realise that it was quite a magical place to grow up in despite its suburban location.

So as I wandered through Hampstead Heath for the first time on Sunday, hiking up the rolling hills in the sunshine, taking endless photos of pretty autumn leaves and hunting for fairies in the shrubbery, I really felt a bit overwhelmed with nostaglia in the best possible way – not to mention in awe of the fact that such a beautiful place is tucked away in North London! 

I was also quite overcome with the desire to make like a child and roll myself down one of the expansive green hills, but maturity (and fear of ruining my coat in the mud) got the best of me. I suppose there’s always next time.

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London Life Lessons

It’s cold, grey and absolutely bucketing down with rain as I write this. Way to be cliché, London.

I’ve spent the day (and now evening) at home, forcing myself to do absolutely nothing. I’ve done the washing, a trip to the supermarket, gone for a run, run some errands , baked a batch of cookies (free to a good home!) and binge watched season 5 of Offspring. So, you know – it’s gone well.

I’ve always found myself an inherent multi-tasker: I function best when I’m busy and have lots of things to do. The problem with this potentially unsustainable side of my personality is that London has a tendency to exacerbate this. Anyone who’s lived here will know just how addicted you get to the pace of London life. When you stop, the feeling of stir craziness is pretty intense. First world problems.

In other (not entirely unrelated) news:

  • Time Out’s list of 101 Things to Do in London has got me adding lots of new things to my British Bucket List.
  • I’ve taken up Spanish as a new hobby and have started lessons this week. Hopefully soon my conversational skills will extend beyond “Hola. Cerveza. Hasta luego.”. Though, to be fair, that phrase still gets the job done.
  • I’ve covered lots of new ground: visiting Peckham, Clapham and Dalston for the first time.
  • Booked a Christmas cottage for Christmas in the country. I can’t wait for Christmas jumpers, roast turkey, mulled wine and jigsaw puzzles. If it snows, I think my life just may be complete.
  • A dream came true last night as I saw the Goo Goo Dolls belt out Iris – the anthem of my 15-year-old romantic self.

Here’s to a cosy, productive and happy week ahead!

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Exploring Peckham + Crafty Fox Market

I’m such a sucker for a design market. Not only do I love supporting local artists, designers and creators, but I love the atmosphere and the sense of occasion attached to them. You know – those early weekend mornings filled with hipster coffee, brunch and special new finds. It’s just the dream.

Back home, the Melbourne Design Market has long been one of my favourite haunts for finding unique Christmas gifts for my friends and family. Here, the Crafty Fox Market has topped my list so far. Last weekend, Crafty Fox popped up in Peckham. So, compelled by the call of the market and Time Out’s persistent urging to check out the wonders of SE15, we jumped on the Overground and headed south of the river to explore.

I returned home with a delightful new candle from Clement & Claude, earrings from Mica Peet and a golden pineapple brooch from Custom Made fit for Hawaiian royalty.

So, all in all, it was quite a successful excursion. 

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