Tag Archives: London

Does hailing cabs make you fabulous?

Before I moved to London I couldn’t wait until the day I was a big city gal, whimsically hailing cabs with a casually glorious semi-smile on my face. I’d toss my shopping bags in the back and be on my fabulous way.

I woke up this morning and felt a deep pain in the place my pocket normally resides. I realized I’d wasted yet another £30 ($50) on a cab ride home from the city because I was too stupid to leave 15 minutes earlier to catch the last train and too (I don’t even know the word – smart?) to take the night bus home.

Thirty pounds doesn’t sound like so much, but I’ve developed a habit of easily convincing myself it’s worth the money to not have to take the bus, tube, whatever. “Oh, it’s only £10. Oh, it’s only £20.”

Two months later it’s nearly £200 spent because my stupid hand won’t stop sticking itself out in the street and stopping cabs.

And instead of looking like this:

I looked like this:

So, no, taking cabs does not make you fabulous. It makes you another drunk idiot with less money than you had before. And the fabulous shopping bag? Just an empty, crumpled up, in-case-I-puke shopping bag.

Some people waste money on smoking. Some people waste money on compulsive shopping. I waste money on cabs, and I think cab addiction should be hailed as a serious medical affliction in the same regard as other addictions.

I kinda feel like Annie on Bridesmaids, “Help me I’m poor.”

By the way – if you’re up for cat jokes, cute cat pictures, and discovering the makings of a crazy cat lady, check out my sister’s blog, Furry Little Cousins. It’s great!

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Autumn in Hyde Park

Today I woke up ridiculously early and also forgot to set my clocks back, so when I got to Whole Foods in Kensington it was still two hours before they opened. I had a quick walk around Kensington Gardens, which is right next to Hyde Park, and decided the fall colors were so beautiful I had to call Adrian and ask him to bring my camera!

Adrian likes activities. He doesn’t like walking around taking pictures, and he refuses to use my camera because I have a big, bulky 1970s strap that he says “effs him off.”

In the spirit of activities, we tried out the Barclays bikes that are on every street corner in London. I’ve never tried them before because even though it’s only a pound to rent a bike for a day, I strongly fear being caught and stuck under the wheels of a London bus for miles until the driver notices. That stuff happens! This was the perfect opportunity to try the bikes out because Hyde Park is huge so we had a long, traffic-free ride through the park.

Today was yet another one of those days where I went into the city with a specific purpose and ended up doing something totally random and fun.

I also finally got my fall colors fix, and discovered Whole Foods caters to its American crowd and sells pumpkin ice cream in addition to shelves and shelves of Libby’s canned pumpkin! I stocked up.

I had wanted to go to Cambridge and get fall pictures like I did last year, but today was great too! I’m hoping we’ll have one more weekend of this …

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I’m turning into comic book guy.

Last weekend was the second weekend in a row we spent visiting comic book shops looking for current Walking Dead comics. We’ve already read all 14 books so we wanted to try to find the new issues. They are about £2 for a book with what seems like 5 pages, but we’re so addicted that it’s worth it.

We made a trip into the city to find four comic book stores we found online.

We headed around the corner to a couple of comic book stores which I had no idea were there despite walking down these streets many times!


They were actually quite spacious inside. I had no idea comic book shops were still a thing.



After Leicester Square we headed over to Berwick Street in Soho to look for one more. I’d been down this street before, but it was more than two years ago and I’ve been wondering what street it was that time I saw the cover of Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? album.

There’s a record shop with the Oasis CD on display, and a little arrow that says “you are here.”

And when you look to your left you’re like, holy crap! I am here!

In case you’re wondering, we didn’t find the Walking Dead comics we were looking for so we went home empty handed. I did, however, find a complete selection of the Calvin & Hobbes books in one of the shops and it made me long desperately for my collection at home. I love Calvin & Hobbes so much I wanted to buy one of the books to have here even though I already own every one of them.

Today I’m going into the city again to buy some clothes for work AND do a little Christmas shopping. The way I see it, Christmas is always on its way so it’s never too early to buy presents.

Later I have a date with my boyfriend, Ryan Gosling. I’m going to see his new movie, the Ides of March. Then I’ll probably come straight home and tell you how amazing it was and that you need to see it immediately.

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I love Borough Market.

I feel so lucky to be able to go to a place like Borough Market on my lunch break.

Borough Market is a big tourist destination market near London Bridge, but every foodie Londoner I know loves it as well.

It’s a huge market filled with stalls selling everything you can imagine, food related of course! On Thursday I went to the garlic stand and bought my parents a hot garlic pickle (as in British pickle, not pickles). It’s fantastic. I didn’t get many pictures because I spent so long waiting in line to get an iced espresso at one of the shops near the market.

On Friday I went with a friend from work and we thought it would be fun to have a dinner party using some vegetables from Borough Market that we’ve never heard of.

Look at all those tomatoes! I’m not a huge tomato fan, but this colorful display was definitely one of my favorites. I can’t wait to go again this week. I would go more often, but I always forget to take my camera and I can’t stand going there without being able to take tons of pictures.

If you ever come to London be sure to check this market out – there’s something for everyone and it’s a great place to pick up a quick lunch.

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If you’ve ever wondered what city life is like …

Some days are normal. You wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep.

Other days you wake up, go to work, walk out of the tube and hear a woman screaming in absolute anger.

You don’t think “Cool! A fight!” because it’s a big city and what if there is a knife flying around or you get hit with a stray fist?

Then you walk closer and hear:

THE BUS DRIVER WON’T LET YOU ON THE BUS IF YOU CAN’T FIND YOUR MONEY. IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR MONEY, YOU GO SIT DOWN, AND YOU LOOK FOR YOUR MONEY. IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR MONEY YOU AREN’T GETTING ON THE BUS BECAUSE YOU NEED MONEY TO GET ON THE BUS.

Because it’s a big city everyone walks by and either doesn’t notice or pretends it isn’t happening. I’ve learned that a lot of things can happen in a big city before people will stop and acknowledge.

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Planet Earth: Richmond Park Edition

I went all David Attenborough today.

We made the short trip to Richmond Park and it was delightful indeed. I’d heard two things about Richmond Park. 1) It’s a huge park and there are deer running around everywhere. 2) Gordon Ramsay sometimes tweets about running in Richmond Park.

So, I was hoping for two things. 1) I’d see deer. 2) I’d see Gordon Ramsay having a quick jog.

Once again, I didn’t see Gordon. BUT, I did see this beautiful little thing:

We walked for about an hour and I started to get anxious that there would be no deer sightings, but then we found a group of about six sitting in a patch of shade. There were cars rolling by in the background and people walking past every so often. We got fairly close, and it was evident they don’t fear people in the slightest.

The park was huge. I didn’t plan well (at all) so we didn’t see much of it even though we were there a couple hours. I definitely plan to go back soon, because apparently you can get amazing views of the city from one of the hills.

I also plan to pack a picnic for next time!

Any better way to top off an English day than with a pie platter?

I wonder how many pies I’ve eaten in England?

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A randomly lovely day in the city

FUN day. I finally met a friend who was willing to go with me to one of the only German restaurants in the city. We went to Katzenjammers by Borough Market (next to London Bridge station) before our late shift at work. I read reviews and heard the food was good but the service was rather bad, which I figured was standard since the London Bridge area is so touristy, and let’s face it, this is England – not known for customer service.

Well, the service was great and the food was even better. I’m not much of a meat eater but I totally wolfed down a big sausage covered in a huge pile of kraut, then polished that off with a pretzel covered in cheese. We went from 2-3 so there were a few people there but it wasn’t packed. Apparently Friday nights are the nights to go because they have live music.

Sorry about blurred photo. It was just so dark by our table and I wasn’t about to take that sausage outside. It was all I could do to take one picture before devouring.

After our amazing German meal we were stuffed, but we still had a ton of time before work. I was really thirsty, so we stopped into an Italian place by work I’ve been wanting to try. As soon as we saw they were actually offering blankets so people could lounge in the sun on the grass we both knew we were going to spend the rest of the hour there. I’d never been into the restaurant but it was beautiful. On every table they have a fresh pot of basil – my favorite herb!

Yep. That’s a huge glass case filled with fresh basil.

We ordered two cocktails named Hugo – prosecco (my fav!) with fresh mint leaves, a lime slice and a bit of fruit syrup to sweeten it up a little. It was so perfect.

Only one of those is mine, although I’d gladly have had two. And yes that book is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Read it now.

Sometimes I love London.

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Sick of riot news?

Well you’re about to see some more. I have to share these pictures with you. (Btw, sorry I’ve been largely absent the past couple weeks. I’ve been working on another big project and training for my 10K, etc.)

Monday night when the riots spread throughout the city one of my friends (Manuela, you’ve met her before here) found out from the news about her street being attacked. She actually saw a flaming van in front of her apartment on national TV.

Here are some of her pictures from the next day when she was able to return home.

“Welcome to Hackney”

It’s still unbelievable to me even though it was just this week. See my other posts on the riots here and here.

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Living in London during the riots

I woke up today thinking yesterday was a dream and buildings all over London, including where I live, hadn’t actually been on fire. It was the first time I’ve ever been scared in the city, and I never thought I’d be scared in this area of London. When I got in my cab at midnight to go home my cab driver assured me he’d been following the news closely and wouldn’t take me past any major shopping centers, and if he saw anything at all he’d drive away!

The ride home was clear apart from a lot of fire trucks and cops still around the retail center in Colliers Wood that was burned and looted earlier, and the road was closed off.

Today the rioting and looting spread to other cities around the UK, so it’s now being called the UK riots rather than the London riots. According to the BBC 563 people in London have been arrested and more than 100 have been charged.

I went to work at 4 today, and it was weird to see shops in both Colliers Wood and Waterloo boarded up. I brought my camera to snap a few pics, but I took my crappy one in the event I got mugged (that explains the poor quality of the photos).  As soon as I got to work they decided to send everyone home early to be safe. Since I was meant to be on the evening shift today they gave me the laptop to work from home.

This glass building wasn’t taking any chances and had a whole crew setting up some serious barriers.

Lots of little shops were closed for the day or just closed early. The pub across from Southwark station had already boarded up its windows.

I’m safe at home now just working, blogging and watching the news. Thanks to everyone for all the comments about us staying safe!

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#londonriots – A Different Perspective on the News

In England we get regular coverage of happenings in the US so I don’t generally feel like I’m that far away. When the riots started getting bad people in London were freaking out. I was checking news sites here and following Twitter and it was all over the place. Buildings, cars and buses are burning in several areas of the city, and shops are being looted in too many places to count. One of my friends was attacked and mugged (he’s OK) and some people had to leave work early to get home. It’s been an awful night in London.

I posted a Facebook status about the riots and several of my American friends had no clue. I couldn’t believe it. I feel so connected to the US, yet everyone I talked to had no idea I was in a city with riots erupting all around. I kept checking major US news sites and they either didn’t have any mention of it or it was a small headline buried under news of the debt crisis.

It was a weird feeling being a part of something huge that my whole country knew nothing about.

Check the Guardian for more news.

A police officer escorts a family past the burned-out Carpetright shop in Tottenham, north London. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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London’s Secret Garden

We discovered an amazing place in the city today, and even better is the fact that it was just down the road! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Cannizaro Park before. The park is actually in Wimbledon Common, just a 5 minute walk from Wimbledon Village (about a 2 minute bus ride from Wimbledon Station).

I know Wimbledon seems far away, but it’s only in Zone 3. I definitely recommend coming for a day out sometime and having a nice lunch in Wimbledon Village (lots of lovely restaurants and higher-end shopping around) before heading to the Common and Cannizaro. Also don’t forget there’s the lawn tennis museum for those of you who care about tennis!

The hotel and restaurant at Cannizaro:

The rain was really spotty today, but luckily many of the trees were so huge and numerous that we could stand below the big branches without getting wet. I was so worried about my camera so during the brief showers I’d stick him under my shirt like a camera baby.

Plan your trip to Wimbledon now! It’s beautiful! They should totally hire me to promote SW19, the best postcode in London. See? I can’t speak of this place without a promotion.

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Sun in Battersea Park

This weekend we decided to do something different and leave our little corner of London. I used to go explore the city every weekend, but the past few months we haven’t left South West London very often. Adrian found out about a foodie festival in Battersea Park, and I’ve always wanted to go there so we headed on over.

First we stopped by the Wimbledon mall to check out the new Sony store and their 55 inch 3D TV. We watched a few seconds of a show then played a video game. Adrian says this was a smile of genuine happiness because he didn’t know I was taking a picture.

I hate 3D at the movies because the glasses are always too big and wobbly, and it’s never worth it.

This was a whole new experience. We are definitely getting one of these TVs when we move back to the US. No doubt!

Once we got to Battersea Park I was so happy we decided to try something new. It was so beautiful and I couldn’t wait to go back within about 2 seconds of arriving. It’s like Regent’s Park, but without the tourists. Lots of trees, flowers and water.

The park also runs along the Thames. There were so many runners! If it’s nice next weekend I’m thinking of going running there as well.

We talked for about 5 minutes before we looked to the left and saw this:

Are you wondering where the foodie festival pics are? We walked up to the festival just after this, and the gate guard told us it would be £15. Per person.

“Shut the front door. Are you serious?” We walked away. Nothing says “rube” like walking up to an event, finding out it costs to get in and then turning away in disgust. Oh well. I hadn’t planned on spending £30 and since I was already having fun in the park it didn’t interest me to pay that much for something I didn’t know much about anyway.

We did decide to spend money on row boating, and it was totally worth it.

Adrian loves this picture of me because it’s so ugly. He kept zooming in on it and laughing, then he told me I have to put it on my blog:

Let me tell you. Rowing is hard work. 

Good thing I was the row boat’s official photographer. You can’t take pictures and row at the same time, can you?

Later we saw Captain America, and it was just OK. We saw Horrible Bosses Friday night and that movie was so much better than expected. Generally you can expect any Jennifer Aniston movie to be a total stinker (and I actually like her), but I laughed quite a few times and actually enjoyed it.

Until next time.

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Winners.

Right now you’re reading the words of a tried and true winner. That’s right ladies and gentlemen. ME. I’m a winner. Well, so are these guys:

(It was very dark in there. We were in the cellar of a pub by Borough Market. )

The Conquiztadors were victorious in last night’s pub quiz!  Last week we didn’t do so well, but we came back with a force and won a hefty £8 each. But what is £8 compared to the glory that comes with winning a pub quiz? No longer am I part of a last place team that people laugh at and then pity.

In the words of a fellow conquiztador: “Victory tastes so sweet.”

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Dinner date

I’m simply going to post these photos because it’s FRIDAY and I’m off to see Beginners. It looks so good!

Before my pub quiz I met Adrian for dinner at Old Street and we went to a cute little Mediterranean café. The food was pretty good, but the main highlight was the Turkish coffee we tried. Neither of us had ever had it, but it was great! Apparently they mix the sugar in while they are making it or something. Whatever they do, it’s good. Try some.

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Pub Quiz by the Leaky Cauldron

Last night a handful of people from my office went to the Southwark Tavern near London Bridge/Borough Market for a pub quiz. Team name? Conquiztadors.

Want to know another fun fact? The Southwark Tavern is dangerously close to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter. Naturally the whole time I was imagining I was sitting in the Leaky Cauldron on Diagon Alley. Who wouldn’t?

The quiz took place down in the cellar, where all the tables were reserved for us quiz takers. Each person pays a pound, and the winning team gets the entire pot.

Fellow conquiztadors.

I didn’t know many answers. I did, however, answer correctly to the question: What do Americans call bum bags? Fanny packs! Brits think this is funny because fanny doesn’t mean the same thing over here …

Sadly we didn’t win, or get last or second to last place. If you get second to last you win a bottle of wine! Last place got some nasty looking candies. The first place team got to split £54 of winnings.

Perhaps next time the conquiztadors will prevail.

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