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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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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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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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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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London Cafés: Brickwood

It’s hard to say what I loved most about my first visit to Brickwood in Clapham.

It might have been the coffee, it might have been the bunting and fairy lights strung along the exposed brick walls, it might have been the coffee OR it might just have been the thoughtful shelf full of Tiny Teddies, Shapes, Violet Crumbles and other assorted Australian treats.

On reflection – it’s probably just all of the above.

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A Day Sketching at the V&A

The Victoria & Albert Museum, aka the V&A (#local), is one of my favourites in London. Aside from being one of the most simultaneously majestic and beautiful buildings in the city, it’s also full  to the brim of absolutely beautiful, awe-inspiring things: everything from architecture models to fine china, Rodin sculptures, paintings and tapestries. And, it’s free entry (except for special exhibitions).

A few weekends ago, I had the luxury of spending a full day inside the museum, re-visiting the fundamentals of drawing at a Sketch Out workshop.

What can I say? It was pure bliss.

An entire day of sitting and admiring stunning pieces of art, getting completely lost in a sketch book as the hours absolutely flew past. Being so consumed on a specific task, thoughtfully considering details, light and shadow: I can’t remember the last time I was able to so effortlessly summon such concentration.

Even if you’re not the sketching type, I dare you to walk through the doors and not feel instantly inspired to create.

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Afternoon Tea at The Charlotte Street Hotel

Miniature toasted sandwiches with the crusts cut off, sparkling champagne, perfect little petit fours and clotted cream slathered on warm scones: I’m telling you, afternoon tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel is just plain dreamy. 

In general, afternoon tea is one of my favourite parts of London life. I’m not sure what it is specifically – perhaps the sense of occasion, the bottomless teapots and endless sandwiches. Or maybe it’s just the relaxed vibe as you kid yourself into thinking that that all those tiny little portions are never going to satiate your cravings. Or maybe it’s the pretty little plates. Or maybe it’s just all of the above.

Regardless, I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t think that sharing tea with friends, family or colleagues is just a downright lovely way to spend an afternoon.

 

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What to do in London when…you need a walk

I’m not sure if it’s just a symptom of living in London, or merely apartment life in general, but staying inside all day in London can turn you a bit batty. Sometimes, you just need a walk

For all the city’s positives, it has a tendency to get a bit claustrophobic. Whether you were an outdoorsy person before or not, don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving the great outdoors after an extended period visiting or living in the city. Personally, I’ve never been more in love with sunshine.

It’s worth noting that you can really walk anywhere in London, stop, look up and be entirely in awe of your surroundings – it’s such an incredible city, full of history and diversity.

However, for those moments when you’re maybe lacking a bit of inspiration, here are six of the best places to go for a walk:

 

Hyde Park

It may get a little bit touristy at times, but you can’t deny that it’s a pretty damn beautiful place to stretch your legs.

 

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Regents Park

I think Regents park is one of London’s more beautiful. Whilst Hyde Park and Green Park are inner-city, a stone’s throw from the key tourist locations, Regents Park has this ability to make you feel far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown. A couple of weeks ago, I even tried Saturday morning taiji in the park and left surprisingly energised. On a clear day, it’s also worth climbing up to Primrose Hill for some people watching as you admire the London skyline.

 

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Southbank/any of the bridges across the Thames

Personally, I think the Southbank of London is a little underrated: there’s great food, people watching and it’s easily accessed by public transport. However, walking along any of the bridges (particularly the Waterloo Bridge which gives you a picture-perfect shot featuring Big Ben & the London Eye) is one of my absolute favourite touristy things to do in London.

 

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New River Walk

A friend and I stumbled across this tiny little pocket of green whilst en-route to Stoke Newington. It’s not the most majestic park you’ll find in London, but it’s tucked-away location sparks fond memories of The Secret Garden.

 

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Green Park/St. James Park

Not only is the park pretty damn beautiful, but you have the added bonus of being able to stumble across random little things like Buckingham Palace

 

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