My London Birthday

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I had the most exciting Sunday this past week – it was my birthday! I know some people might not feel like their birthdays are a big deal, but I always feel like that day is super special to me.

We returned from France on the Saturday, and this was my one day between the holiday am starting back at work. I thought Ben and I could spend it quietly at home in Bishops Stortford – maybe going to a nice brunch and spending the remainder of the day in the sunshine.

Little did I know he had something entirely different up his sleeve!

We boarded our train into London Liverpool Street around 11am, after a morning of coffee and bagels (yum!!) I thought – are we going to the Southbank? Shoreditch? Islington? Is he just teasing me and we are only going to the next town down the line?

I followed him all the way to Canary Wharf, where we got off of the DLR and walked to the Museum of London. First order of the day was to see the exhibition on slavery and sugar import in the docklands. It’s fascinating, and takes you through London’s history up until preset day- including a life size model of what the city would have looked like in the 17/1800s! Highly recommend it.

Afterwards, we took a lovely walk through the new part of the city (which reminds me of New York really..) and ‘stumbled’ upon the Thames Clipper! I had never been on the Thames before for anything – and so we boarded heading towards the older part of the city. We cruised past the Docklands and under Tower Bridge which was AMAZING to see at that angle, and disembarked at Embankment. Next on our plan for the day: Gordon’s Wine Bar!

I ADORE this wine bar. It was the location for Ben and my first date, and has been the scene of many of my meet ups with friends since. They serve my favourite bottle of red wine in the world – Chianti Conti Serristori. Adore. Adore. Adore.

With this and a bite to eat at the best place to grab a Bratwurst hot dog (Herman ze German), we walked across our bridge to the SouthBank. The last thing we were going to do today, Ben told me, was watch Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

I had the most amazing birthday. Ending the day with a walk along Millennium Bridge back towards Liverpool Street with St Paul’s in our midst, I felt already on cloud nine. This – if you want to copy it my friends – comprised the happiest day of my life.

The Lot Valley | France

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Last week I spent an unbelievable week in the Lot Valley in France. Surrounded by wine country and fields of sunflowers, I joined Ben and his family for a wonderful week of relaxing and exploring the neighbouring towns.

The weather wasn’t the greatest – and I certainly didn’t pack for it – but with that aside the wine and the scenery were to die for. I arrived on the Saturday, keen to practice my French I had been studying for some weeks prior, and was immediately hit by the presence of sunflower fields. It is the one thing I will take away from the trip – the site of them on that sunny Saturday.

We explored neighbouring towns of Duraval, Puy L’évêque, Cahors, Belaye, and others. Spectacular view across the valley awaited us at every turn.

On both my flights I met so many lovely older English couples who had bought property in the area. They loved it and the small, nondescript airport spoke volumes about the quiet areas that surrounded. What a lovely part of the world to experience!

Rye | Sussex

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Ben and I headed off to Rye at the weekend for a friend’s wedding. I had heard little to nothing about Rye before that day – but when I came to work Friday and said where I was going that evening, everyone pipped up to say something. ‘Oh Rye is beautiful!’ ‘There’s a lovely old pub there…’ ‘Go down to this beach on the Sunday…’

Well folks – Rye has now made my top three towns of England.

It is a stunning town on a hill and very well serviced by a ton of small independent stores and coffee shops. It has a number of adorable B&Bs and pubs that still have accommodation above. The charm of the cobbled streets (stunning to look at, rough to walk on) and the old houses that looked like they had remained untouched since the 14th century truly took my breath away.

Let me just say that any moment I could steal away from the wedding and all it’s wonderful festivities, I was walking around this town taking photos and enjoying the sunshine.

We stayed at the old and haunted Mermaid Inn which is the most Old English place I have ever stepped foot in. Just to get to the room was a maze of going under low beams and passageways and twisting around old staircases. You can visit the bar area and restaurant if your not staying, and I recommend it just to see the interiors of this old English maze.

The wedding was held at the much more modern George Inn – which had a much more upscale charm.

I wandered around for breakfast one morning and stumbled upon the Apothecary Coffee House which is a charming venue with retro looking baristas and amazing looking cakes. They had soya milk (which is always a plus for me) and I had a simple croissant for a total of what you would pay for a small latte in London.

I love this town. With the seagulls cackling away as a sign of the sea being near, it would be a perfect holiday place, even for families. X

Musings on Sunshine

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England glistens in the sunshine. There is this green lushness that England has generally (I think it’s from all the rain) and sunshine is the perfect compliment. I don’t know of anything else in nature that makes me so excited or brings me more happiness then sunshine and heat on a Saturday or Sunday.

So I apologise ahead of time for my postings on sun, heat, and how awesome this is. I think my fellow Londoners can agree. X

Regent’s Canal

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This is one of my favourite walks in London. The canals stretch from Little Venice all the way through Stratford, and are relatively untouched by tourists. It is such a tranquil walk through the city that you don’t even realise you are in bustling neighbourhoods.

We walked from Regents Park through to Camden Lock – which isn’t that far in the scheme of things, but was still beautiful. And with the sun shining and the tourists away, it was a great way to spend a morning in the city.

Something I have always wanted to do is to rent Boris bikes and ride from Little Venice to Paddington. What a great ride though the town – with pubs and places to stop off and rest – it would be a fantastic day out. X

Paycocke’s House

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In Coggeshall, there is a gem in the form of a National Trust property. The Paycocke’s House, once belonging to a wealthy merchant in the cloth trade, was built around 1500, with many of the original features still intact. The ornate woodwork and wood paneling is a stunning display of craft, and the gardens are a lovely place for a small game of croquet!

The home is small, but the details and the knowledgeable staff are a treat. There is even a small cafe to sit and grab a tea and cake (I went for a cream tea- could not resist!).

X

Coggeshall | Essex

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Last weekend we had STUNNING weather once again! I tell you – 78F (24C) degrees is a beautiful thing in England, and it does not come around often!

My first day of sun worshiping happened on our patio – where I stayed out for nearly 5 hours without sunscreen and burnt my shoulders, arms, and back quite significantly. I don’t regret a moment of it.

But for Day 2 – our Sunday – Ben was keen to go out and about. So we decided to head over to the cute village of Coggeshall in Essex for a wander and some National Trust action.

What a beautiful old town! I love the architecture of the high street – and all the flowers! Peonies, English roses and more all over the pubs, church yard, and houses.

We went for a cheeky mid-day pint at the 14th century Woolpack Inn – which had ornate little bars and a patio filled with sun and flowers.

Highly recommend for a stroll on a sunny day – and the people we met were lovely and so friendly! X

World Cup

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Have you been watching the World Cup? The atmosphere is contagious! Ben and I have been supporting England to no avail – but some teams are in and doing well (hello USA – time for soccer to be a bigger sport?).

Who are you rooting for? X

Currently Obsessing…

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… with Japan!

I have had an itch for visiting Japan ever since reading Memoirs of a Geisha.  What a unique society and customs that are so unlike what I am use to!  Then I picked up a small travel guide to Kyoto in a charity bookshop a few weekends ago – and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since!

I would want to go all over – however I am increasingly becoming obsessed with the thought of Kyoto.

I would stay here: AirBnB

Here are some fun guides:

Goop

Lonely Planet

Wallpaper*

 

Image via Flickr

Visits from Across the Pond

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When I was in high school, I enrolled in French. It was a course I was fascinated by – the French language to me was the ultimate language. It was a beautiful mix of words and sounds that awakened every sense of me.

I wasn’t the only person in my family to have this feeling toward the French language. My mother and aunt had it too. And through this connection (made even more true by the fact that I went to my mother’s alma mater) is how I met this incredible woman.

This is my high school French teacher – the one and only Madame!

Teachers can truly touch a life – and Madame certainly does so for me! It was wonderful to see her and spend time with her in my lovely, sunshine filled city of London today. I wish her all the best and will always remember her and her French classes!

All my love Madame! X