Lifestyle: Playing Tourist in London

Playing tourist in what is now our home town felt a little strange at first; dashing around London sight-seeing. The day was born out of us not having a clue what to do – one of the weirdest things about finishing our LDR and moving in together is not making weekend plans in advance.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 11_zpsjpyqk6dw.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 2_zpsqbehmdkg.jpgI decided that I’ve never seen Big Ben close-up (and also thought I’d get a good Instagram shot, #lifeofablogger). Will wanted to go further down the Thames to take some snaps of the architecture for uni. Taking a riverboat tour was the perfect answer – and despite it being the first chilly day of Autumn, it was a good shout. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t feel my hands by the time we got off the boat, and a steaming cup of tea was pretty much all I could think about. Moaning aside, I loved the tour we went on. It was the cheapest option we found from Westminster Pier (I’m still a student at heart!) and didn’t include a specific tour guide. What it did include, however, was boat staff who knew the interesting little titbits such as where scenes in Oliver Twist were filmed, and that the Spinx around Cleopatra’s Needle are actually the wrong way round from what was intended.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 13_zpsqyucwb7k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 14_zpsnd8fesra.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 12_zpsmwlpkbt6.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 10_zpsuktddrbn.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 8_zpszcqsyg6v.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 7_zpsv9v0lrlz.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 6_zpsbieszkcc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 5_zps2mqj8psk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 4_zpsggzeoffk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 9_zpspy3agve2.jpgOne thing I loved about taking a boat along the Thames was the different perspective I got of the city. It was so obvious how London is a mix of old and new, yet that’s something that’s totally overlooked when I’m wandering around on a daily basis. I couldn’t believe how traditional the buildings in the City were at the waterfront, compared to the modern Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater. I could also see my own office – I wasn’t aware how tall the building was until I saw it from this perspective!

 photo Playing Tourist in London 18_zpsrxgsyu0k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 20_zpsda3es6pt.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 19_zpsen3srmyc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 17_zpsmw1ijlhb.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 16_zpshpr70r8w.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 15_zpszukwryii.jpgWe got the boat all the way to Greenwich, where we stopped for a quick picnic underneath our umbrella. I feel in love with the bit of Greenwich I saw, and have popped it high on the list for returning to on my next spare weekend (the food market looked insane!). I can imagine it’s pretty magical in the run-up to Christmas too…

 photo Playing Tourist in London 23_zpsfw6g13ce.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 28_zpskn4nzbd6.jpgOur tourist-ing continued the following weekend, with us heading to Camden for a spot of shopping and street-food eating. We decided to make the most of the unexpectedly warm and sunny day (seriously, it was NOT forecast, but greatly appreciated!) and walk along the canal from Kings Cross. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite walks in London, especially as it involves walking through the spot where W popped the question.

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Ice-cream Cookie Sandwich anyone…? Cheers @blutopicecream for my new addiction!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

 photo Playing Tourist in London 27_zpstyzazpj1.jpgWe lunched on Korean Burritos (him) and Fried Chicken & Chips (me) – a decision I did come to regret an hour of so later as my stomach apparently doesn’t love SFC as much as I do. I’m gutted as it meant I couldn’t quite appreciate my Ice-Cream Sandwich as much as I wanted. Guess there’s an excuse to head back…!

I’ve loved playing tourist in London, sure the hoards of actual tourists are annoying (I got jammed against a wall at one point whilst a group were trying to get by, not a highlight of the weekend!), sure there are other European cities that are far prettier. But if definitely made me a bit more appreciative of London, and I’ve now got plenty of other spots on my bucket list to tick off. Kew Gardens is next (thanks Katy for that bit of London based wander-lust!)…

What’s your favourite spot in London?

Lifestyle: London Bucket List

We’ve lived in London for nearly three months (I know, I couldn’t quite believe it either!), and my “to-do” list is getting longer and longer. Disappointingly we’ve hardly ticked off anything, yet it grows at a seemingly exponential rate. There’s no rush to complete it (I have no plans to move out of London anytime soon, if anything I’m here to stay!) but I do have some bits I really want to try and do over the next few months.

 photo London Bucket List_zps0yvwb18w.jpgSome are perhaps a bit weirder than others. Rather more than a couple involve food. Some are big and fancy, others are small. Some may take longer to tick off.

    1. Go up the Shard. Even if just for cocktails.
    2. Visit a flower market. Think of the Instagram shots!
    3. Visit all the tube stations. This was inspired by my first trip to Mornington Crescent a few weeks back – it’s quite honestly is the strangest tube station I’ve visited! In an ideal geek world I’d take a selfie at each and put a film together with Jay Foreman backing it….
    4. Explore Greenwich. Looks like a lovely place – and the observatory is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.
    5. Wander around Portobello Market. Because who wouldn’t want to?!
    6. Eat brunch at Duck & Waffle. I’ve been dying to go for ageeesssssss.
    7. Buy and devour a Cronut. Though I’m waiting until the hype (and queues) die down a little.

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  • Go to Richmond Park in the frost and/or snow. Just imagine how pretty it would be!
  • Go on a stay-cation.
  • Eat a LOT of street food. I’ve finally visited KERB but there’s so many more vendors I want to try…

 

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  • Find my “London’s Best Burger.” I ate the 2015 winner at the beginning of October and now feel I need to do more research. Send over recommendations!
  • Visit Kew Gardens. I also really want to experience their Bee Hive!
  • Watch The Lion King. I’m so excited to finally tick this one off in December with my besties!
  • Fly over the city in a helicopter. A girl can dream!
  • Make use of the gorgeous streets for outfit photos.

 

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  • Eat at The Grain Store. We got engaged in Granary Square so it’s natural to try the nearest restaurant, right…?!
  • Explore more hidden areas. I love the canal walk between Kings Cross and Camden.
  • Have Afternoon Tea in a posh hotel. Because British.

 

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  • Go “metal-detecting” on the Thames Shoreline. We can see the river from the flat (it’s just 50 yards away!) and I’d love to give this a go!
  • Row along the Thames. I’ve always wanted to give rowing a go, and there’s so many rowing clubs nearby in Putney…this is my goal for summer 2017!

What’s on your bucket list? What would you love to do in London?

 

Lifestyle: Autumn Wanders in Richmond Park

I do love London, love working in the bright lights of the City. But I have discovered that I really, really miss wide open spaces, fields, woods, and long walks. One of my favourite things to do on a weekend is head out and explore, and there’s something so magical about doing so at this time of year; pulling on thick socks and boots, snuggling up in coats, donning scarves, hats, gloves. You can wander hand-in-hand without getting sweaty, you get a beautiful rosy glow to your complexion without spending 10 minutes at the mirror with blusher.

 photo Richmond Park October 2016 46_zpscco5gu7v.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 45_zpszvs9i14e.jpgLuckily our flat right now is perfectly located. 10 minutes stroll (across the Thames, I marvel every day at the beauty of my short walking commute) to the nearest Tube station which takes us both conveniently to where we need to be each morning. But best of all? It’s just a short drive to Richmond Park. In fact, it takes longer to drive across the park than it does for us to get there.

We headed over there a few weeks ago, back at the beginning of the month when the weather couldn’t quite decide between Summer or Autumn. I kept removing my jumper, putting it back on, then moaning it was too warm again. First world problems, right?!

 photo Richmond Park October 2016 40_zpshbhcw1tw.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 35_zpssiztpny3.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 34_zps26i1dom5.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 33_zpsfeqpbtz5.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 30_zpsljgmpaig.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 29_zpsgnce7j88.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 2_zpsmkytrt2v.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 12_zpsvvf5zdmb.jpgI used the opportunity to finally (finally!) play about with the manual settings on my camera. I’m still very much ‘playing’, with no real clue as to what I am doing. Whilst I wish differently, I don’t find anything too ‘creative’ comes particularly easily to me (give me some numbers any day!) but I don’t think I’ve done too badly here. Sure, there’s some over-exposure and a bit of blurriness, but on the whole not bad for a first attempt. Now to keep up the courage and not slip back into auto-mode…

 photo Richmond Park October 2016 37_zpslbjyyleh.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 36_zpsghfxejp2.jpgAs my parents had come down to visit, they kindly brought with them a huge picnic. Lots of goodies – quiche, picnic eggs (guilty pleasure!), sausage rolls, pate, baguette, cheeses…we were stuffed before we could even think about pudding! It did mean that we just had to go on a long walk, making the most of the beautiful parkland and fresh air… And the best bit about them visiting (the fact that we could keep the leftover picnic food was a close contender!) – they brought the dog! Having a dog was something I missed hugely whilst at university, but moving out properly has made it seem like a huge deal. I pretty much fall on the floor to play with every dog I meet (seriously, if anyone in SW has a dog they can lend me for a day, I’m yours!). So, so good to have doggy cuddles for a few hours.

 photo Richmond Park October 2016 32_zps5yrgdcaj.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 28_zpsf2g1fwph.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 27_zpsetm9xhvp.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 24_zpsyiz0ecfp.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 21_zpszidigzmz.jpg photo Richmond Park October 2016 20_zpsra2lrfws.jpgAlthough I’d visited Richmond Park at the height of summer last year, I think Autumn is where it is really at it’s most beautiful. The trees were just beginning to change when we visited, giving a teaser of what was to come. I only hope the leaves change colour just a bit earlier in two years, else our Autumn wedding is in danger of becoming a ‘late Summer’ wedding! I also couldn’t believe quite how close we got to the deer on this visit, even with an overexcited terrier (try as we might, he isn’t a fan of non-human/dog creatures, big or small!). The stags in particular were breathtaking, and definitely more than Instagram-worthy! Pretty much a perfect Autumnal afternoon…

Have you ever visited Richmond Park? Any recommendations for places to visit in London to get away from crowds?

 

Lifestyle: Dinner At Bill’s, Soho

For some reason it took me until this September to visit Bill’s – despite reallyyy wanting to go for ages. In the end we squeezed in a visit after trying and failing to get food anywhere on a Friday night in Soho.

 photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 6_zpsymqxevqy.jpgThe problem with wanting to visit somewhere for ages is the constant studying of the menu. And the 1001 things you end up wanting to eat. Being the cheapskates we are, we only went for mains and a shared pudding – but it was more than enough. Even if I was slightly jealous of the ‘meat platter’ at a neighboring table…

The restaurant was busy, even at 8:30pm we had a thirty minute wait for a table – I’ll blame the opening night of RWC2015 for that one! We were eventually seated, had a very friendly waitress and got looking at the menu!

 photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 7_zpsbrduttkc.jpg photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 8_zpss7kcbn5l.jpg photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 5_zpszyqrxtka.jpg photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 4_zpsinrw93kf.jpgI went for the special at the time – a battered chicken burger, with spicy mayo (swapped out for aoili due to the presence of sneaky tomato powder!), and sweet potato fries. I devoured it pretty quickly, so it must have been good! I felt the coating on the chicken could have been crisper, but it was definitely yummy. I wasn’t so impressed with the sweet ‘tato fries – a little overdone and cold for my liking unfortunately…

W went for the lamb koftas, and I have to admit to a little bit of food envy. Beautifully presented, well flavoured, just the right amount of spices – he really enjoyed it. It’s definitely an option I would consider next time I visit Bills!

 photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 9_zps0ffqkjku.jpgSuitably stuffed, we shared a pudding. I couldn’t resist the doughnuts and dipping sauce – and it was SUCH a good choice. Warm fluffy doughnuts drenched in cinnamon sugar, a dark chocolate sauce, and plenty of strawberries on the side too. The portion size wasn’t skimpy either; I was glad we were sharing!

 photo Bills Restaurant Soho Review 1_zpsbs1kb9n9.jpgI enjoyed my visit to Bills, I found the staff immensely helpful with allergy information, the food generally yummy, and it was well-priced with a good atmosphere – a pretty good place!

Have you ever been to Bills? What did you think?

Lifestyle: ALL The Street Food @ Pump, Shoreditch

Keen to explore as many areas of London as possible, perfectly happy to eat a TON of food, more than excited to meet one of my favourite bloggers, I jumped at the chance to be Katy’s Plus One at a party thrown at Pump in Shoreditch. After both of us failed to read where we were going, we panicked a little upon the realisation that this wasn’t a bar, but essentially a (large) collection of street food stalls. In a disused petrol station (hence, Pump). And it had rained ALL DAY.

 photo Pump Shoreditch 2_zpsxav1mksc.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 3_zpswskb2b3t.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 14_zpsolcdvvpc.jpgLuckily I was already having a bad hair day. Even more luckily, it seemed to stop raining by the time we’d gotten out of Liverpool Street and found the venue.

After refuelling ourselves in Pump’s bar area (pun intended!), we planned our attack.

 photo Pump Shoreditch 4_zpsusnqsfdq.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 5_zpsddnwsieu.jpgFirst up was two mistakes. The first was going for the same thing, from the same place, thus reducing the ability to try EVERYTHING. The second was what we tried. Seafood by los Moriscos was serving up seafood (predictably) in a brioche roll. Sounds good, smelt great, looked yummy. It fell a little bit flat unfortunately. We were expecting battered seafood, we got plain grilled. It was a little bland, a little rubbery and could have done with a good grind of salt. The aioli was good (sorry W!), I enjoyed the mix of tentacles (I’m not at all squeamish about the suckers!), but I didn’t enjoy the combination of seafood and brioche. Not for me unfortunately, and Katy wasn’t in love either…

We upped our game and decided to share food.

 photo Pump Shoreditch 6_zpsxv2enez2.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 7_zpsj6xwmrft.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 8_zpshwlgcaty.jpgAnd next up was my favourite bit of the night. I’m a HUGE lover of fried chicken, from the standard KFC to glorious Mother Clucker, so I couldn’t resist trying my first ever Korean Fried Chicken from Makimayo. Um, YUM. We tried the version smothered in a spicy mayo-type sauce with crispy onion and I genuinely wanted it to last forever. The spicy sauce was just hot enough to slightly burn, the chicken was blisteringly hot and fall-apart tender, the coating crunchy and salty. I’d go back for this alone!

 photo Pump Shoreditch 9_zpspfhy4uo0.jpgThe final savoury dish was made up of sliders. Not sure any mini-burger-type sliders though, these were pulled meat in all it’s glory. We got the mixed plate from Pulled by los Moriscos , which came with one each of pulled beef, lamb and duck. The duck was my favourite, though it was a close call between that and the lamb. We reckoned the beef would have been lovely had it not been so spicy!

 photo Pump Shoreditch 11_zpsloemf75p.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 10_zpso5hdngxq.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 12_zps2wrgqpqd.jpg photo Pump Shoreditch 13_zpsfcbeav18.jpgWe finished off by splurging out on a Bubble Waffle. Each. We both ended up choosing the nutella-banana combo (because NUTELLA), and it was the best decision of the night. Crispy, fluffy, warm, chocolately and healthy because fruit (right?!). Nosteagia sure know how to do their waffles!

Pump is open until late every day of the week, so if you’re in the area,  head over and grab something yummy. I spent the whole of my last week fighting the temptation to go grab some more chicken…
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A fab night – yummy food and lovely company! What’s the best street food you’ve tried?

Lifestyle: A Monday Brunch at The Breakfast Club

One of my goals whilst living in London was to go out for brunch, and on our last morning we managed it. We packed the car up, locked up the flat and headed over towards Clapham Common and The Breakfast Club.

 photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 9_zpsoztln2fh.jpgThe Breakfast Club has been on my list to try for years, but the queues put me off. I may really want to try a place, but having to queue for breakfast just isn’t my scene. I can’t imagine W would be too impressed if I made him queue either! Visiting on a Monday was perfect as we walked straight to a table. It turned out to be the perfect way of finishing up our summer in London. Chatting about our best bits, what annoys us most about each other, it was a relaxing few hours before our drive up North.

Years of wanting to visit had resulted in copious studying of the menu and as a result I wanted allllll the things. In the end I went adventurous and tried something new – a risk which paid off as I now have a new love for Eggs Benedict.

 photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 7_zpskzr4tl6o.jpg photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 8_zpsfv3vlqv4.jpg photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 5_zpsp2lzxfbv.jpg photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 6_zpsia8tdfis.jpgI ordered my traditional Benny with a side of the homemade potatoes, and I have to say it was all delicious. The eggs were poached to pretty much perfection (some might say they were slightly under, however I quite like a bit of runny white…), the hollandaise creamy and a little sharp. The ham was good quality and perfectly salted, and the muffins fresh. I loved the garish of Lamb’s Lettuce too which really enhanced the dish. The potatoes were PERFECT for mopping up extra yolk and sauce, though I was left feeling pretty stuffed after demolishing it all!

W went for the All American Pancakes. Fluffy pancakes served with sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs and potatoes, then drizzled with maple syrup. He thoroughly enjoyed it, though wasn’t impressed with non-crispy streaky bacon!

 photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 3_zps0qmei9so.jpg photo The Breakfast Club Clapham Battersea Review 2_zpsmrridtfh.jpgWe felt drinks were a little overpriced, though my English Breakfast was a huge mug and a good quality tea. I’d wanted a green juice, but I’m afraid at that price it was a no-go! As for the rest of the restaurant, the decor was quirky and bright, the seats comfortable and the staff super friendly and allergy-aware. The table next to me ordered the Chorizo Hash and despite having devoured my meal I still had food envy – maybe something to try next time! And there will be a next time…

Are you a fan of brunch? Where’s the best place you’ve tried?

Lifestyle: Thoughts on Commuting

With all honesty, I’m not a seasoned commuter. Before the move to London my walk to work was 15 minutes if I was slow, and even them I was commuting out of London. So like I say, I had it easy. It doesn’t mean I don’t manage to get annoyed at the trains, at people, at buses, at everything though. So here it is, with tongue in cheek, I present to you my thoughts on commuting…

 photo 2015-08-17 11.41.06_zpspx4fnfro.jpgPS: I don’t actually commute now! I finished my placement way back at the end of August. I was a lady of leisure for a while (far too much leisure, after a potential Lyme Disease infection!), and am now back at university delighting in lectures and maths once more.

Buses & Queuing

Seriously, what is it with London buses and people’s inability to queue?! Back in Canterbury, even in Northampton, people form a relatively ordered line to get onto buses. None of this pushing and shoving to get to tap your Oyster card first…

Since When Did I Get So Aggressive?!

Leading on from the last point, on my first day of commuting I vowed to not push my way onto a bus. That lasted less than a week, after I was left standing in the rain ‘cos the bus was full. So yeah, I’m now getting on that bus no matter what. Elbows out!

Do Not Stop To Put Your Ticket Away Immediately After The Barrier

Just no. There will always be someone behind you at 8am, and someone behind them. You will get walked into, and probably called a bad word. Just hold onto the damn thing.
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There’s Lifts for a Reason

I’m running up the stairs to my platform as my train will leave in approximately 10 seconds. Please do not attempt to get heavy suitcases up these stairs. The lifts are two seconds away and you aren’t even running for the train.

Actually, Just Don’t Travel With Big Suitcases

Maybe pot calling kettle black here, as I do travel with suitcases (though generally cabin-bag sized). They slow people down on stairs, they take up seats (seriously, train is busy, your bag does not get priority for a seat over me), and they block exits. I’ve had to vault over suitcases to exit a train more times than I care to remember.

Please Move Down Inside The Carriages

Don’t stand in front of the doors just inside. I don’t care if you are getting off at the next stop, I would like to be able to board the train.

There is NO Room to Walk Between Carriages

I do a lot of journeys where the train divides. Yes, I know it is simpler to be in the correct part of the train (so do it when you get on), but in rush-hour you cannot attempt to squeeze by everyone to get to the right part. Especially with your giant suitcase. The trains are stationary on a platform for a while, it gives you time.

“Please May The Guard Contact The Driver”

The phrase you do NOT want to hear at 8am, when the train has just stopped in the middle of no-where, when you reallyyyy need to be in work early and set an earlier alarm to do so.

This event was due to a passenger physically assaulting a member of staff on the train in front, so the train had to wait at the station for police assistance. It was “nice” (though not for the victim!) to be delayed for a genuine reason that wasn’t something to do with National Rail or Southern…

 photo Favourite London Things 9_zpstbfyb60k.jpgWhilst I’m coming across as a grumpy bitch in this post, a lot of it is tongue in cheek, and only if I’m in a realllyyyy bad mood will these bug me. Or if they all affect one journey. But yep, you get the picture!

Do you have any interesting commuting stories to share?

The London Diaries: Views of the City & Some of My Favourite Spots

One of the things I really wanted to do over the summer was to visit the Sky Garden. I love viewing places from above so it seemed like the perfect way to enjoy London, without the extortionate expense of the Shard. The Sky Garden is free, though does require advance booking, and includes an inside garden area and large viewing balcony.

 photo The Sky Garden 7_zpssnr6kz7q.jpg photo The Sky Garden 6_zpsqos8vovx.jpg photo The Sky Garden 5_zpspucvitb5.jpg photo The Sky Garden 4_zpskrhp14q2.jpg photo The Sky Garden 2_zpsmmkta4gn.jpg photo The Sky Garden 3_zpsgdrqpxlh.jpgI felt the garden area was a little disappointing, lots of trees and not many flowers. The views however were stunning.

We had originally planned to climb the Monument after this, but as this towers above that view we decided to give it a miss. Definitely worth an hour of your time to soak in the view, possibly have an (overpriced) cocktail and a good natter with your best friends.

 photo Favourite London Things 12_zpsgjp8dxzl.jpg photo Favourite London Things 1_zpst2fsfarc.jpg photo Favourite London Things 16_zpsirxptiae.jpgOver the last week I managed to squeeze in visiting almost all my favourite places, seeing some of my favourite people, and eating a lot of my favourite food.

After W’s leaving drinks we wandered along the Thames, crossing Albert Bridge. It might sounds silly, but I’m a little bit in love with this bridge. It’s like something out of a Disney movie, light up, old-fashioned and generally just beautiful. Perfect as the sun goes out.

 photo Favourite London Things 17_zpsuh59fcy3.jpg photo Favourite London Things 19_zpsiu1bkotf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 20_zpsgtohmnnz.jpg photo Favourite London Things 21_zpsxxcmsauq.jpg photo Favourite London Things 22_zpsgol9oitf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 18_zpspbpjisxf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 2_zpspnnkfylg.jpgLast Saturday was a whirlwind. Scotch pancakes fuelled our morning of shuffling around Borough Market. I’d never seen it so busy, it was actually a little unpleasant as it was SO overcrowded. I couldn’t find the end of the queue to order those gorgeous looking Scotch eggs, so we grabbed a pretty yummy Salt Beef lunch (rye bread sandwich for me, bagel melt for W, both minus the gherkin, because EWW…) before escaping to the relative quiet of the city. We’d picked up some doughnuts from Bread Ahead but in all honesty they weren’t that great. Overly sweet filling, relatively dry dough. A disappointment compared to their brownies.

 photo Favourite London Things 10_zpscg2h10k7.jpg photo Favourite London Things 8_zpszcbuhhis.jpg photo Favourite London Things 5_zps9kexkpyu.jpg photo Favourite London Things 3_zpsgxjczlu6.jpg photo Favourite London Things 6_zpswuuwvqd2.jpgWe’d originally planned on making the most of the Open House events across London. We’d been too late to enter the ballets for Downing Street, the BT tower and 1 Canada Square, so I aimed at the Bank of England. Unfortuantely the queue put us off, so we meandered over to the Emirates Skyline. Whilst not included in Travelcards it does provide a cheap way of getting another view of London – and I personally loved the calmness of the flight. And watching the waterskiing lessons as we came into land!

 photo Favourite London Things 11_zpszozsvotf.jpgI then introduced W to St Katharine’s Docks, which is definitely one of my favourites spots in London, before we headed to tick off one of my 30 Before 30 with some lobster. We visited the Burger & Lobster in Harvey Nics, hoping to avoid queuing. In the end we still waited 30 minutes but it was pretty much worth it. Our lobsters were sweet and succulent, the lemony garlic butter the perfect accompaniment. I reckon it would be the perfect date night as it’s something a little different, we definitely had a giggle trying to extract all the meat!

 photo Favourite London Things 14_zpsgb5hqdoo.jpg photo Favourite London Things 13_zpsufl8tvsk.jpgMy original Sunday plan of dividing packing time with a picnic in Richmond Park was foiled due to a duathalon; we ended up lying on Ham Common for a few hours. We watched the cricket match, soaked up some sun and then had a drive around the area. Perhaps not what I had planned, but a lovely little break anyhow.

 photo Favourite London Things 15_zpswbijnby3.jpgAnd then that was it, our summer in London was over. On Monday we moved back up to the Midlands, and tomorrow I leave again for Kent. This summer has led me to fall completely and utterly in love with our capital city, and I would dearly love to live there for longer. It’s allowed me to live with my boyfriend for the first time, it’s allowed me to meet some of my favourite bloggers. I’ve eaten a lot of street food, attended events, and even spent 18 hours in Manchester doing some filming. A fantastic summer by anyone’s standards. And now this brings me to the end of The London Diaries. I still have quite a few London related posts waiting, but I’ll spread them out a little. After all, being on a student budget means little eating out from now on! Until next year, London… (or Wednesday at least, hello grad interviews!).

Where is your favourite spot in London? How was your summer?

The London Diaries: A Few Hidden Gems

In London you have a whole plethora of restaurants and eateries. You’ve got the chain restaurants, the rapidly expanding burger places, the street food markets. You really are spoilt for choice!

 photo Frenchies Duck Confit Burger - 5_zps2huhzszp.jpgImli Street Restaurant Review4 photo 0c2c2808-d19d-4811-b1ec-1aab52c06ec0_zps6fzrfyiq.jpg photo Five Guys 8_zpsthpxwpqp.jpgI’ve loved the Indian tomato-free specials I was cooked up over at Imli Street. Wahaca is obviously a favourite. There’s been a carb-overload in Pizza Pilgrims. I’ve eaten countless burgers – pink tinged Byrons, greasy Five Guys and the BEST duck confit burger (which is pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever eaten) However I’ve also come across a few hidden gems during my time in London, both of them I’ve spoken about before.

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 12_zpsxj1zl5o7.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 17_zpsm3esxrlw.jpgSt Moritz is a Swiss restaurant in the heart of Soho (just about my favourite area of London!). Being a fan of cheese is a must if you visit here, not least because you are greeted by a traditional racalette on entering. I highly recommend their cheese fondue, and of course their chocolate fondue is a must ‘due’!

 photo IMG_0804_zpsh4qs54pe.jpg photo IMG_0810_zpso7ojry8i.jpgThe Stockholm is a little out of the way, nestled towards Mortlake. It’s pricey but we found the lunch menu both affordable and delicious – my sausage was beautiful, and of course the Swedish meatballs were far superior to IKEA’s.

But there’s so many more hidden gems out there, and I do feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve found the best way of getting a good place to eat is by word of mouth. Obviously I google blog reviews before I go anywhere, hell I’ve got a list of 43 blog posts of restaurant reviews (all places I want to visit). I use Twitter, I use Zomato, but still it can be difficult. When Millennium Hotels asked me to contribute to their new infographic about hidden gems in London, I knew that (1) I had to add my bit and (2) share it with you!

It was a toss up between the two restaurants about but in the end St Moritz won. Just. I wish I could have quoted two places!

I’ve loved reading about some of the other suggestions too. The House of Ho sounds amazing, I’ve really been lusting after some fresh, authentic Vietnamese food after reading about Libby’s first backpacking experience. Their September Set Menu sounds like great value for money, I’m adding it to my list of places to visit. Which considering I’m not living in London after Monday is going to have to be put on hold for a bit…

 photo 0c365d70-cf39-4235-b9e8-efc7bad6bd20_zpsxstursud.jpgOf course virtually all the pizza places have gone on the list in the hope of a tomato-free option (fingers crossed), and I’m now craving wings and hot dogs. I’m so surprised I’ve not piled the weight on this summer!

Where’s your favourite place in London? I’ve got ONE weekend left so send over your recommendations!

The London Diaries: St Moritz, A Hidden Swiss Gem in Soho

I fell in love with all things Swiss three years ago, when my boyfriend’s parents so wonderfully treated us to a trip away following our A-Level exams. With W on his tenth holiday there I had a fab guide to introduce me to the country! We were based in Interlaken and visited so many places my head was spinning. The scenery was breathtaking, the people so friendly, and the train system so bloody efficient (take note Southern!).

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 12_zpsxj1zl5o7.jpgThe food was pretty good too. Memorable meals include schnitzel, veal sausage (alongside onion ‘sauce’ and rosti = heaven), both from mountain-top restaurants. And fondue, lots of fondue. When we found out about a tiny little Swiss restaurant in London we just had to visit. We first visited last summer, before I got my camera and before I started blogging about everything I do. This summer we decided to celebrate Swiss National Day in the best way possible – a duo of fondue. Try saying THAT ten times faster…

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 15_zpsevlcu7s6.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 14_zpshxt8v4lc.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 21_zpsifhxvg0l.jpgSo, Saturday 1st August saw us head off in the afternoon sun for a battle down Oxford Street (seriously, how does anyone shop there?!) before disappearing into the peace of St Moritz. The restaurant is old-fashioned, as Swiss as you can get in the middle of Soho, complete with Alpine Horn and Raclette station.

We went for a duo of fondue…

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 8_zpswdlh4any.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 9_zpsx3tcftet.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 10_zpsnrswt6rs.jpg photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 13_zpsldrnvumt.jpgFirst up, the Fondue Moitie-Moitie (or half-half). This is a mix of Gruyere and Vacherin, served with bread and new potatoes. Previously we had the Fondue Neuchateloise (gruyere and emmental, served with bread only) – and found that this time round the fondue was stronger, slightly more liquid, and the potatoes added a welcome change from bread. I’d highly recommend!

We ate all the potatoes and we halfway through the second basket of bread when we admitted defeat and began worrying about what all the cheese was doing to our insides.

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 20_zpswrwiyrmd.jpgA quick pause followed by an even quicker decision on pudding. Chocolate Fondue just had to happen, and this version didn’t disappoint. On that note, last time we had a Coupe Denmark which didn’t hit the spot – but we were definitely spoilt with these when we were in Switzerland!

 photo St Moritz Restaurant Review Soho 17_zpsm3esxrlw.jpg=St Moritz served their molten pot of chocolate with some sugared biscuits, a huge selection of fruits and some marshmallow. The chocolate is the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, it’s obvious there’s good chocolate being used here! The biscuits offered some welcome crunch, the fruit was all fresh, and in all honesty it was just a delicious desert.

We left clutching our stomachs, both looking several months pregnant, and three days on I still wasn’t up to eating more cheese. It’s not a cheap place, we paid around £70, but St Moritz is a brilliantly quirky little spot, hidden away, quiet and the perfect stop for some comfort food.

Have you tried Swiss food? What is your favourite hidden foodie gem?