Sunday, 26 March 2017

Most people are probably aware of Wimbledon as the place where the famous tennis competitions take place every year, but a lot of people might be surprised by how much more the area has to offer aside from that as well. I've lived close-ish to Wimbledon for a few years now, and it's really become my go to place to have lunch on the weekends, do some shopping or to just have a picturesque walk on a nice day and wander around.

The main part of Wimbledon has the shopping and the eating part down pretty well (you can find most chains here so no need to trek it all the way to busy central London!) but when it comes to those picturesque walks, there's nowhere better than Wimbledon Village. As you might expect from most villages, this one too is dotted with little shops (the charity shops here are amazing!), big pubs with gardens and lots and lots of beautiful houses to pine over.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk from Wimbledon station to the village, and once you get there, I would reserve about an hour for walking around and musing around the shops, and then another one to have lunch or dinner in one of the lovely pubs. I like the Rose & Crown and The Dog & Fox, both of which are also lovely B&B:s in case you want to make a staycation out of it!

As for those food options, I do have to confess I have never had lunch here before! I definitely want to do that soon though, as there are SO many places I'd love to try - such as the Thai restaurant Thai Tho, the cafe/brunch place Brew, or the Wimbledon branch of the famous Ivy Cafe chain.

When it comes to shopping, you're spoiled for choice too. Want something a bit cheaper but still special? Head to one of the charity shops on the high street - I found SO many things I wanted from them. Need something a bit more luxurious for a special occasion? Wimbledon Village has lots of little fashion shops such as Hobbs and Reiss, as well as a few bridal and lingerie shops too. There's also the lovely Neom selling organic & natural skincare and fragrances which are, although correct me if I'm wrong, also cruelty free.

My personal favourite, however, was this sort of independent supermarket, Bayley & Sage, which stocked everything from fresh seasonal produce to ALL the cheeses and pastries, as well as lots of smaller brands that you might not be able to find in your local Tesco. I absolutely loved it there and could have spent ages browsing around the aisles!

What's your favourite London village? I love that there's so many of them!

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time you're hearing about Hackney's Cafe Miami, but just bear with me - I couldn't help myself! I'm a sucker for all things pastel, and as soon as I started seeing the most beautiful pictures of this place all over my social media feeds, I knew I wanted to visit it myself. The decision was sealed after I had a look at the menu, so I emailed the cafe and they managed to book (yes, you can actually book!) me a table for the coming Sunday.

The decor is, as you might have guessed, inspired by Miami and the art deco scene (the building where the cafe is located is from the 1920s!), and if you don't look outside, you might actually think that you've stepped back in time. The cafe is full of white, pink and pastel blue shades, with plain white walls and tables that almost seem like they were made to be the perfect base for all of those Instagram flatlays...

The American kitsch theme continues on the counter too. Next to your typical pastries, you can find home made pop tarts, oreos (also home made!) and tea cakes in a vintage wrapping. Even their sugar cubes are cut into cute shapes - you've got to admire them for sticking to the theme! I'm sure this is all done with a purpose, as everything here is super cute and, again, very instagrammable. Which, of course, is what pulled me in, so it definitely works!

Speaking of cute, the food here is very well presented too. That was actually something I was slightly worried about before I bit into my avo toast - would this be one of those places where it's all style but no substance? Luckily it wasn't. I ordered avocado on toast with halloumi and chilli jam, and it all worked perfectly together. The real winner was the seedy bread though - it was super crispy and full of flavour - I was almost tempted to ask where they got it from!

My boyfriend went for the "waffle burger" which looked as amazing as it sounds like. Apparently it wasn't quite up there with his favourite London brunch (that prize goes to the lovely Mud in Tooting!) but warranted 4 stars nevertheless. I say that's a success!

Overall my experience with Cafe Miami was really good. Was it a bit overhyped? Maybe. But that might just be me - I'm not usually as into this kind of stripped back decor as I am to a cosy and rustic setting. Saying that, this place definitely has its own style and theme, and it sticks to that theme very thoroughly, which I find very impressive. Everywhere you looked you could find some new cute and quirky detail you hadn't noticed before. Like the fact that their WiFi password was 'shitloadsofsugar' - things like that!

But let's not get carried away with the little details. The most important thing is, of course, that the food in Cafe Miami was superb, which is all you can really ask for from a good brunch place. I can't wait to go back and try out their Nutella filled (!) pancakes - they sound insanely good!

Café Miami 24 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0PD

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Length: 50-60 minutes if you stop to wander around the river and in the market - which you absolutely should!

Notable sights? The historic sailing ship The Cutty Sark, the famous Prime Meridian Line and the Royal Observatory.

Why should I do it? Greenwich is one of my favourite places in London. The market bit is really buzzy and full of amazing little stalls selling flowers, food and crafts, but at the same time the whole area has a lovely village-y feel to it - and it's only in zone 2! Blackheath Village, on the other hand, which is about a 20-25 minute walk from Greenwich, is a full on quiet little area where time seems to have stopped - it's full of country pubs, a massive field for picnics and lots of little shops.

As per usual, I've put the map HERE so you can see the route I took, without me having to try to (badly) explain where I turned left and where I turned right...

We started off at the Cutty Sark DLR station and made our way towards the market. We made a little detour in order to have a nosy around the river and the Cutty Sark (the actual boat, not the station!). The river is only five minutes away from the station, so it's definitely worth going to have a look at the views, especially if it's nice weather! From the river it's again about a five minute walk to the market, which I think should definitely be an essential part of anyone's visit to Greenwich!

I wish I managed to take more pictures of all the different stalls in the market, as there is such a great variety, but I have to say I felt slightly uncomfortable going too close with my camera to snap people's handcrafted items! I did manage to get a few pictures though, mainly of food (of course) and those gorgeous succulents of which I wanted to get each and every single one to take home! I think I might have to go back, perhaps on a weekend after payday...

It was really difficult to choose which place to get my lunch from, but in the end a stall making messy fries won over my heart. They had quite a few different options, all of which sounded pretty yummy, so deciding what to get was hard! In the end I decided to go for the Mexican fries with guacamole, jalapenos and cajun spice, as it was actually vegan too plus who can resist a bit of guac?!

The fries were SO GOOD, even though the guys making them did forget to add in the jalapenos... That said, when I realized that they were "missing", I was too far away and couldn't be bothered to go back and complain, which does technically make it partly my fault too - I was being pretty lazy! I have to give it to them though, as even without the jalapenos, the fries were really good and had just the perfect ratio of guacamole and chilli sauce - yum!

This is the view from the top of Greenwich Park, and it's by far one of my favourite views in London. After finishing our lunch in Greenwich Park (my first outdoors lunch this year - yay!) we started climbing up towards the top, which was admittedly slightly difficult with a full stomach (it's a pretty steep hill, okay?) but as I mentioned earlier, very much worth it in the end due to the amazing views.

After you're done admiring the views, it's time to continue towards Blackheath Village. Just continue past the Royal Observatory and keep going straight through the park and you'll soon arrive to a massive open field which is the heath itself. If you walk through the field towards the church (which is also very pretty!) you'll find your way to the cute little village full of pubs and shops to keep you entertained.

My favourite pub in Blackheath is the The Railway right next to the train station, but last time I also paid a quick visit to the Princess of Wales right next to the heath, which was SUPER cute as well. They also have quite a sizeable garden at the back, which means it would be great for those sunny days I'm confident we'll start getting very soon..!

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

I've been wanting to visit the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie (does anyone know what this building is actually called?!) ever since it opened back in January 2015, but I only managed to do so last week. Luckily, it was so worth the long wait!

It's free to go up to the viewing platform, but you do have to book a time slot, which unfortunately means you can't just rock up whenever. And booking this slot, well, that turned out to be slightly harder than I thought it would be..! I tried to get in on a few occasions before this, but they never had anything available for when I would have wanted to go. When my dad told me he'd be here during the week, I saw my opportunity arise - surely it would be easier to get a slot for a weekday! I'm not sure if that ended up being the case, or if it was just the fact that I wasn't trying to book at the last minute this time (you can book up until 2 weeks before), but whatever it was, it worked. I finally had a time slot!

The actual garden is on the 36th floor, so you can just imagine how great the views are. Also, unlike many other (free) viewing platforms or restaurants with a view, you could actually walk all the way around the building and so see London from every possible angle. There are also two cafes serving cocktails and other drinks with sweet and savoury snacks, so you don't have to enjoy the views with an empty stomach either.

I had a tropical smoothie with mango, papaya & pineapple, which was exactly what I needed in my sickly state (worlds longest cold here!), but I have to say that this gin cocktail that my dad's wife had was pretty tempting too. Look at all those decorations! Apparently it tasted pretty good too, so there's that, of course...

I'm not sure what else I can say - I think the pictures, and the name of the place, speak well for themselves. It's what it says on the tin: a lovely viewing platform full of light, plants and plenty of eating and drinking opportunities. We went on a nice, sunny day, which made everything just that one bit better too, so I really don't have a lot of bad things to say. Go book a slot now - do it!

Sky Garden 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Rosendale is a gorgeous, big and bright pub in a suburban bit of Dulwich in South East London. It takes just over 10 minutes to get there from West Dulwich train station, and even though the leafy streets taking you to a pub might seem like there's nothing else there than beautiful big houses with colourful doors (and there's a lot of those - sigh!), just persevere because this place is truly worth the short trek. And who doesn't like a bit of dream house spotting? I know I do!

The Rosendale has a bit of history, too. It used to be a coaching inn in the Victorian times, and was only later turned into the beautiful public house it is now. They have an extensive menu of drinks and food with lots of craft beers, a long wine list (I had their house rosé which was really good!) and simple food made very well. As the title suggests, we visited the pub during lunch time, which meant we got to sample their weekday lunch menu which had everything from little nibbles to pizzas and sandwiches - so much to choose from..!

I loved the decor too - there was lots dark wood and beautiful prints on the walls, and due to the big windows and high ceilings, a lot of light too. I also loved the vintage-y furniture, especially the chairs, which felt like a lovely nod to the long history of the pub.

Now, back to that extensive lunch menu... I was there with my dad and his wife, and all of us chose something a bit different, and most importantly: we all loved what we got. I went with the Margherita pizza with added chillies, but asked to have it without cheese to make it vegan friendly. It was SO good. The tomato sauce was excellent, but the base was the real star here. It was crispy, thin and kept itself together perfectly without any sloppiness at all. Definitely one of my food favourites from 2017 so far!

My dad and his wife tried out the burger and the fish finger sandwich, and I heard rave reviews from both of them, especially for the burger. Unfortunately there was no veggie burger option, at least not on the lunch menu, but it might be worth checking if they can whip something up - they seemed pretty accommodating!

I had a wonderful lazy lunch experience in The Rosendale and I definitely want to return. Apparently they also have a big garden for when it gets a bit warmer - I can't wait!

The Rosendale 65 Rosendale Rd, London SE21 8EZ

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