Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer in the City - Food with a view

Part of my Summer adventures in the city have been exploring the old and the new within London. Part of my new adventures this summer has been New Change at St Pauls, a shopping and food centre adjacent to St Pauls Cathedral. A hidden gem of New Change is that you can visit the roof terrace and admire the view across the city landscape.
Entry is via a cool glass elevator which offers fabulous moving views of St Pauls Cathedral. Like a grown up version of Roald Dahls Glass elevator.
The rooftop also features a cocktail bar and restaurant for socialising and fun & food with fabulous views.  Along with the Rooftop bars, New Change also features Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecoa. This is the UK's first Barbecue steakhouse, featuring traditional fire-based cooking with amazing ingredients, all with provenance. This is the statement on the website by the menu:
"You will not taste a steak like ours anywhere else in the world. Every cut of beef has been handpicked to our exact requirements and dry aged in-house for anything up to 70 days. But that's not all we cook - we also serve melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork, delicious aromatic lamb skewers, crispy calamari and amazing vegetable sides.
To match the food, we have the widest range of American whiskies in the UK, a wine list that references every corner of the globe, the best beers that the US and UK have to offer, and a cocktail menu to rival any City bar"
Last Sunday I lunched at Barbecoa and can say that the menu statement is true... my steak was amazing... my only steak which could rival this was one I ate in New York at 5 Ninth. I opted for the RUMP on a bed of Charred Aubergine, Yoghurt, Rocket and double fried beef dripping chips. Both absolutely melt in the mouth delicious.
As you can see I had stunning views across to St Pauls Cathedral which was the perfect backdrop to a mouth-watering lunch. After leisurely lunch it was time for dessert!.... With so many delicious options on the menu it was too hard to choose,
DESSERTS
  •  Amedei white chocolate panna cotta Wild Strawberries, Champagne & Basil
  • Peanut Butter cheesecake Poached Black Cherries, Black Cherry Sorbet & Peanut Brittle
  • BarBecoa Brownie Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Sorbet & Aerated Chocolate
  • Amalfi lemon Meringue tart Red & Black Currants, Confit Lime & Lemon Balm
  • Pecan & BourBon seMifreddo Candied Maple Bacon,
  • Caramalised Banana, Dark Chocolate & Caramel Sauce
so I opted for the Sweet Treats board a sample of some of the dessert menu... featuring Peanut Butter cheesecake in a cute mini mason jar, Barbecoa raspberry brownie, Amalfi Lemon meringue, Chocolate macaron and a wine gum.
Barbecoa is a gorgeous restaurant, clean lines, stunning views, and good service with a friendly knowledgeable team. The ambience and décor is an urban mix of chrome, wood, & fire. It did have the meatpacking vibe of New York which I completely loved. 
I enjoyed my unplanned  visit here immensely and will visit again. This is a restaurant that is an indulgent treat and not a budget option... perfect for special occasions and treats.



Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ St Pauls

Last Sunday I took some time out to enjoy what now feels like the last rays of the summer, and me and my camera spent it exploring London. Part of my day featured St Pauls.... I sat outside on one of the benches in the gardens and listened to the choir singing and enjoyed just relaxing in the summer sunshine.
St Pauls is in my top 10 favourite parts of London, it's iconic cathedral dome sits proud against the back drop of the city skyline an icon of our capital.
The surrounding grounds have been developed over the years and now feature family friendly and relaxing places to sit, picnic and enjoy the nature around.
Currently within the cathedral grounds, a bed of wildflower's and poppies have replaced their normal structured flower bed.... an homage to the WW1 memorials currently sited across the city.
Sited opposite the Cathedral on the pathway to the millennium bridge is a fabulous memorial to the Blitz, which St Pauls famously survived.

I have visited this lovely space often during the summer and enjoyed my time around here.... even had some selfie fun with the artwork around the site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ Cupcake treats

Tucked away in a small side street just off of Covent Garden is a very cute cupcake eatery, from Primrose Bakery. If you are unable to get to the original café bakery in Primrose Hill, then this is a great introduction.  I stagger my visits when I am in this vicinity between Primrose and the coffee shop around the corner Notes, as both a little indulgences.
Primrose Bakery is 10 years old this year and was one of the first places to launch the cupcake in London. Primrose Bakery's styling is gorgeous pastels, reminiscent of the tea parties that we all either wished for or had when we were children.
The bakery is small with a couple of tables for eating in, and a cute bench to sit on outside in the sunshine.
The bakeries offer the following  flavours daily Carrot, Chocolate, Chocolate with Vanilla, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Vanilla and Gluten Free Vanilla. The salted caramel is one of my favourites and the Vanilla is perfect with a cup of coffee.
They also offer daily specials, here is the weekly menu:
As you can see when I visited it was around Independence day so American cupcakes were in abundance along with some fab specials.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Covent garden and feel the need for a sweet treat and a quick rest, then pop into Primrose for a cupcake & coffee. Primrose Bakery have produced some gorgeous books and a great little app. I am really looking forward to their Christmas book which is launching in October.... I'm not sure that I can wait to see if Santa pops one in my stocking on Christmas eve!.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Books about Town ~ City Trail

This Summer Books have featured a lot in my 'down time' ... the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and loose yourself in an adventure, mystery or love story.  Books have always been my way of escaping and from an early age always had my head in a book. This may be some of the reasons as to why I have loved the book about town trails across London this summer... it brings out the child in me! Here is  my adventures from
With an hour to spare I recently spent some time exploring some of the city trail.

Starting at the Tower of London I snapped Katie at London which is displayed looking onto the Tower. This is a fun bench filled with majestic lions, marching soldiers and gorgeous bright colours ... With a perfect backdrop of the Tower and the red poppies. I am sure its been one of the most photographed bench with all the visits to the tower.




Walking away from the Tower toward the heart of the City of London and the Bank district, 2 benches are located in close proximity to themselves in the shadows of The Bank of England. Both I think placed with a touch of irony and fun!... Wind in the Willows and The Stormbreaker.
Wind in the Willows has a fun waterway scene on the front and the travelling scene on the back.... nestled amongst the pages is Toad in jail... a reminder to us all what greed can do!
Stormbreaker is a vivid blue & black with codes and Alex Rider looking very cool on the front. ... a reminder to all that good overcomes evil, whatever the age! and maybe there is a secret agent in all of us..
My next stop on my book trail was St Pauls Cathedral... here I knew a number of benches had been planted in the surrounding gardens.
My first find was the Children's classic Peter Pan... which is just delightful. From Peter soaring above the city, to duelling with Hook.
With St Pauls as its backdrop it is a gorgeous setting for one of Children and adult's alike literary favourites

Along from Peter Pan is one of the most popular male fiction of the last decade... Nick Hornby and his football classic Fever Pitch... in pitch classic green and Nick's iconic Arsenal colours its a simple designed bench... as you can see from the photo's a couple of city gents were making the most of the good weather whilst I was photographing the surroundings!
Adjacent to St Pauls churchyard and in the shadows of the majestic cathedral sits Mary Poppins... this bench has been much loved and had a little damage when I visited. I am pleased to see that on a visit over the weekend it has been restored to its finer glory. The bench is simple in design but whilst I was there drew lots of crowds from little children who were delighted over it. No surprise to find this bench in this vicinity as its where the iconic Feed the Birds was featured in the film.
Finally I ended up in Paternoster Square where Bridget Jones Diary resides in all its red glory...... featuring Bridget laying on the sofa surrounded by everything we love and associate with her... Christmas jumper, take-out, chocolate and of course her beloved diary...

I thoroughly enjoyed my mini city trail... I know that I didn't get to see all the benches but I accomplished a lot in the hour that I had free... here's my chapter on the Bloomsbury trail.... pop back soon when I share my River trail chapter.
More information of the book benches can be found here.
 


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ in the Docks

Today I am sharing more of my adventures of my summer in the city.... I have spent many moments  along the Riverbank, today's post being about St Katherine's Dock.
On my first visit this summer to the Tower of London to see the poppies, I decided to brunch a short walk from the Tower at St Katherines Dock. It is many years since I visited this part of London and was amazed on how much it had changed. This area was a frequent eating and drinking location in my 20's and I have fond memories of the times spent there.
St Katherines is located on the other side of Tower Bridge and can be accessed by walking around the Tower and underneath the bridge. A small waterway links you from the Thames into a host of mini marina's, complete with drawbridges and boat traffic lights. With converted warehouses into apartments and a hub of eateries and shops, its a little water village in the heart of the city. As I was walking along the Thames the Gloriana barge which was commissioned for the Queens jubilee was just docking by Tower Bridge, which was an added bonus. 
With converted warehouses into apartments and a hub of eateries and shops, its a little water village in the heart of the city, complete with iconic phone & letter box!
The 'village' pub, The Dickens Inn's  window boxes were gloriously colourful, and a striking contrast to the blue sky.
As it was quite early in the morning the area was quiet, filled with boat owners breakfasting and getting their boats ready for the day.



As you walk around the boats moored are varied from big cruisers to small sailing boats and a treat for the big kid in all of us to see. Its hard to believe that this is tucked away in the corner of the city bordering the East end of London.

St Katherines Dock manages to mix the old and the new effortlessly, from the old walkways which stretch across the river and the iconic anchors of old it is a lovely place to while away an hour drinking coffee and watching the waterways come to life.
Here is a montage of pictures that I snapped on my ramble around the waterways, as you can see I couldn't have picked a better morning for my meander around the docks.

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Totes Tuesday ~ Orange is the new Black!

So with summer fading I am determined to cling on to as much of I as I possible can with injections of  colour!.... predominately Orange! As the TV keeps telling me Orange is the New Black and I am embracing it fully!
This months Tote Tuesday is a fabulous Orange Tote from Pauls Boutique. Normally PB is not a brand that I would actively seek out as it is usually quite 'blingy' and much more suited to a younger audience, however this bag is quite plain and versatile in its styling.
I picked this up in the sale a couple of years ago for £20 (75% reduction + staff discount ~ win win!!) and is great for the summer, from work through to play it ticks lots of boxes. With a very small pink trim and a detachable strap it's colour palate is straight out of this seasons Roksanda Ilincic collection . The PB logo's are very discrete, with it only visibly stamped on the gold hardware and although not lined it has a couple of inside pockets to secure travel card & phone. The unlined leather enhances the style of this Tote perfectly.
As always I've accessorised my tote and its been a perfect opportunity to use my orange Michael Kors purse, Longchamp make-up bag and Kate Spade "Eat Cake for Breakfast" tech accessories (both KS were birthday treats from my team)

This bag has taken me from work to play throughout August and Orange has been a colour worn lots.  I picked up a great orange blouse and orange & black top (both from Asda!) which work both well with my white trousers from my summer capsule along with black suit for work. Orange Birkenstocks worn frequently on commute, as compliment navy as well as black.
A must in my bag this month has been the new Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) hardback Silkworm, which has kept me highly entertained on my commute (blog post to come).
I've also spent lots of time commuting between London & Birmingham to lots of note taking in Moleskin notebook and very cool stationery.
As with all Totes Tuesday posts I have collaged my styling for the month... here's what Work & Play have looked like:




Work Styling looked a lot like this;
Play styling was much like this:
What's been in your Tote this month and what Handbag are you coveting?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ The Pudding Bar

Pop-up bars, eateries and restaurants are de-rigour across many cities and London leads the way with them this summer ... they have been my lunch & desert of choice through the summer months and have tried to visit a couple. One that was an absolute must was The Pudding Bar. A pop-up with a menu full of desserts & fine wine.
I visited the Pudding Bar on a sunny lunchtime to celebrate my birthday. The pudding bar is situated in Greek Street in the heart of Soho opposite Soho House. The restaurant is over 3 levels and is an eclectic mix of old school tables & chairs, vinyl and vintage tea plates and cutlery.
Even the bathrooms are decorated with a vintage mix of both coloured and black & white recipe papers... like something out of an old Good Housekeeping recipe book... delicious!
For lunch I opted for something light, so Strawberry Eton Mess was my chosen choice. French meringue with strawberry mouse, clotted cream ice-cream, strawberries and black pepper sugar shards. All washed down with a glass of Prosecco.
This was probably the best Eton Mess that I've eaten and was gorgeous. If I wasn't sitting in a public place I could have easily licked the plate clean!... delicious.
The venue is delightful and I was lucky enough to meet the chef who gave me a sneak taste of a chocolate ice-cream that she was trialling all with a kick of tabasco and a sprinkle of pistachio. This is a fab pop-up and I will be going back before the summer finishes...very tempted with the Tasting menu.
If you are the person that looks at the desserts first and then plan your meal around it when visiting a restaurant then this is a must for you!... enjoy x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Summer in the City .... Parklife

As we head towards the end of August and probably the end of summer I'm looking back on some of my favourite places that I have spent some of Summer 14 in. The weather this year has been lovely and I've been determined to spend as much time as I can outside enjoying summer in London.
One of my favourite spaces that I have spent time in is St James Park. Filled with Deckchairs and fabulous views, it is the perfect park to relax in.
St James is the oldest Royal park in London and is surrounded by Palaces, Buckingham, Westminster and St James. 470 years ago the park was mainly farmland, and woods. King James kept a collection of animals in the park. They included camels, crocodiles and an elephant. There were also aviaries of exotic birds along what is now Birdcage Walk. And next to St James's Palace, King James created a flower garden. The flower gardens still remain one of my favourite features and when I visited the Sweet Williams were in full display along with some glorious foxgloves.
 The courts in St James's Park gave their names to the present day Pall Mall and The Mall. A tradition also began at this time that continues today. In 1664, a Russian ambassador presented a pair of pelicans to the king. Pelicans are still offered to the park by foreign ambassadors and remain one of the most popular sights in the park. The park still has lots of pelicans and then basking on the rock in the middle of the pond near Duck Island. Four Pelicans are fed daily between 2.30-3.30 near the island.  Pelicans are very social and quite often join people enjoying their lunch sitting on the benches eating their lunch.
My other favourite part of the park is the little cottage by Duck Island, this gorgeous little house has a vegetable patch, and a glorious flower meadow and pond. The wild flowers were in full bloom and were a perfect backdrop to the blue skies and green fauna.
St James Park is the perfect park in London for commuters, a glorious cut through when walking between Westminster and Mayfair. A great stop for coffee, relaxing in a deckchair and a welcome break from exploring the Palaces surrounding the park.

A Sea of Red.....

This Summer through to the winter an art installation is evolving at the Tower of London. Entitled 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' it will eventually display 888,246 poppies, 1 for each British and Colonial fatality in World War 1. The ceramic poppies have been hand made and are being installed by volunteers over the weeks to Armistice day.
I visited the Tower early one morning a couple of weeks ago and was blown away by the vision already being created. It is humbling, and stunning to see.
With the backdrop of the old history of the Tower flanked by new icons such as The Gherkin and The Shard, it is a beautiful site to see.
Everyday this installation looks different and has grown significantly since I visited. I am looking forward to returning in the next couple of weeks to see how the poppy field has grown. One of my favourite Twitter/Instagram sites is the Police helicopter, their photo's and tweets over the site have been great since it started, here is one of my favourite pictures recently. Equally the view from The Shard is quite spectacular too.
Each of the poppies are for sale and can be ordered via the The Royal British Legion  for £25 and will be sent once the art installation has been dismantled after the 11th November. I've bought mine and look forward to receiving it later this year. This is my MUST see for this summer in London, I hope that they raise lots of money for such worthy causes today and allow us to remember those lives that were lost 100 years ago.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Mr Selfridge Day in Dorset

Back in early summer I spent a day exploring a small part of the Dorset coast line. I have only ever been in this location for work related visits, and although this had 'work' influences it was lovely to spend some time in this picturesque part of the world.
I picked up a train from Waterloo and travelled down to the quaint little village of Hinton Admiral, where I then walked through the village to Highcliff Castle.
 Highcliff Castle between 1916 and the late 1920's was the weekend home of Mr Selfridge and his family. He moved Rose and his mother to this location to escape the dangers of wartime London during WW1. It was thought to be a fear of Zeppelin raids that drove Mr Selfridge to move out of London during the First World War and rent Highcliffe Castle for £5,000 a year fully furnished.
His eldest daughters, Rosalie and Voilette, became Red Cross volunteers and worked at Christchurch Hospital.
Mr Selfridge’s wife, also called Rosalie, was heavily involved in war work, and especially the care of wounded American soldiers. Many of them were treated at the home she established in Christchurch, the Mrs Gordon Selfridge Convalescent Soldiers’ Camp near Christchurch. She was a much loved member of the community.
HG was responsible for the implementation of electricity within the castle and the buildings and renovations of the kitchens. The Castle has had its run of bad luck in recent years and is now under a huge restoration project to build back after a fire which desecrated the buildings in the 50's and 60's. During the summer the castle has hosted a small Mr Selfridge exhibition sharing the history of the castle and the famous department store owner. With books, personal belongings and fabulous photographs its an interesting little exhibit.
As the name suggests the Castle is perched on a cliff overlooking the English Channel, with its Jurassic coastline its winding stairwells and footpaths were perfect for a leisurely stroll. Due to it being pre-school holidays and a weekday, I had the beach to myself other than a couple of dog walkers and joggers. The views either way are stunning, either back at the castle peeking through the forestry or the coastline.
I spent a couple of hours just relaxing on the beach, reading, and cloud watching as the skies turned from blue to grey to black and then blue which was great for an amateur photographer playing with her camera!
Walking back up to the castle I stopped in the garden eatery for some lunch. I opted for Dorset Crab bisque & fresh bread, followed by Tea and Cream Scone. All delicious, made even more delightful by the surroundings and views.
Finishing lunch I headed across the road from the castle into the small churchyard of St Mark's. Here nestling amongst the headstones lies My Selfridge, his mum and his wife. From the lavish crypt of his mothers, to the grand headstone of his wife, Harry's is a simple stone; epitomising how his fortunes declined over the years.
Leaving Highcliff behind I jumped on a bus for the short journey into Christchurch, where I finished my day enjoying the harbour, and beautiful rose garden and a fish & chip supper before catching the train home to London...

 
 


 


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer in the City - Food with a view

Part of my Summer adventures in the city have been exploring the old and the new within London. Part of my new adventures this summer has been New Change at St Pauls, a shopping and food centre adjacent to St Pauls Cathedral. A hidden gem of New Change is that you can visit the roof terrace and admire the view across the city landscape.
Entry is via a cool glass elevator which offers fabulous moving views of St Pauls Cathedral. Like a grown up version of Roald Dahls Glass elevator.
The rooftop also features a cocktail bar and restaurant for socialising and fun & food with fabulous views.  Along with the Rooftop bars, New Change also features Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecoa. This is the UK's first Barbecue steakhouse, featuring traditional fire-based cooking with amazing ingredients, all with provenance. This is the statement on the website by the menu:
"You will not taste a steak like ours anywhere else in the world. Every cut of beef has been handpicked to our exact requirements and dry aged in-house for anything up to 70 days. But that's not all we cook - we also serve melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork, delicious aromatic lamb skewers, crispy calamari and amazing vegetable sides.
To match the food, we have the widest range of American whiskies in the UK, a wine list that references every corner of the globe, the best beers that the US and UK have to offer, and a cocktail menu to rival any City bar"
Last Sunday I lunched at Barbecoa and can say that the menu statement is true... my steak was amazing... my only steak which could rival this was one I ate in New York at 5 Ninth. I opted for the RUMP on a bed of Charred Aubergine, Yoghurt, Rocket and double fried beef dripping chips. Both absolutely melt in the mouth delicious.
As you can see I had stunning views across to St Pauls Cathedral which was the perfect backdrop to a mouth-watering lunch. After leisurely lunch it was time for dessert!.... With so many delicious options on the menu it was too hard to choose,
DESSERTS
  •  Amedei white chocolate panna cotta Wild Strawberries, Champagne & Basil
  • Peanut Butter cheesecake Poached Black Cherries, Black Cherry Sorbet & Peanut Brittle
  • BarBecoa Brownie Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Sorbet & Aerated Chocolate
  • Amalfi lemon Meringue tart Red & Black Currants, Confit Lime & Lemon Balm
  • Pecan & BourBon seMifreddo Candied Maple Bacon,
  • Caramalised Banana, Dark Chocolate & Caramel Sauce
so I opted for the Sweet Treats board a sample of some of the dessert menu... featuring Peanut Butter cheesecake in a cute mini mason jar, Barbecoa raspberry brownie, Amalfi Lemon meringue, Chocolate macaron and a wine gum.
Barbecoa is a gorgeous restaurant, clean lines, stunning views, and good service with a friendly knowledgeable team. The ambience and décor is an urban mix of chrome, wood, & fire. It did have the meatpacking vibe of New York which I completely loved. 
I enjoyed my unplanned  visit here immensely and will visit again. This is a restaurant that is an indulgent treat and not a budget option... perfect for special occasions and treats.



Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ St Pauls

Last Sunday I took some time out to enjoy what now feels like the last rays of the summer, and me and my camera spent it exploring London. Part of my day featured St Pauls.... I sat outside on one of the benches in the gardens and listened to the choir singing and enjoyed just relaxing in the summer sunshine.
St Pauls is in my top 10 favourite parts of London, it's iconic cathedral dome sits proud against the back drop of the city skyline an icon of our capital.
The surrounding grounds have been developed over the years and now feature family friendly and relaxing places to sit, picnic and enjoy the nature around.
Currently within the cathedral grounds, a bed of wildflower's and poppies have replaced their normal structured flower bed.... an homage to the WW1 memorials currently sited across the city.
Sited opposite the Cathedral on the pathway to the millennium bridge is a fabulous memorial to the Blitz, which St Pauls famously survived.

I have visited this lovely space often during the summer and enjoyed my time around here.... even had some selfie fun with the artwork around the site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ Cupcake treats

Tucked away in a small side street just off of Covent Garden is a very cute cupcake eatery, from Primrose Bakery. If you are unable to get to the original café bakery in Primrose Hill, then this is a great introduction.  I stagger my visits when I am in this vicinity between Primrose and the coffee shop around the corner Notes, as both a little indulgences.
Primrose Bakery is 10 years old this year and was one of the first places to launch the cupcake in London. Primrose Bakery's styling is gorgeous pastels, reminiscent of the tea parties that we all either wished for or had when we were children.
The bakery is small with a couple of tables for eating in, and a cute bench to sit on outside in the sunshine.
The bakeries offer the following  flavours daily Carrot, Chocolate, Chocolate with Vanilla, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Vanilla and Gluten Free Vanilla. The salted caramel is one of my favourites and the Vanilla is perfect with a cup of coffee.
They also offer daily specials, here is the weekly menu:
As you can see when I visited it was around Independence day so American cupcakes were in abundance along with some fab specials.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Covent garden and feel the need for a sweet treat and a quick rest, then pop into Primrose for a cupcake & coffee. Primrose Bakery have produced some gorgeous books and a great little app. I am really looking forward to their Christmas book which is launching in October.... I'm not sure that I can wait to see if Santa pops one in my stocking on Christmas eve!.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Books about Town ~ City Trail

This Summer Books have featured a lot in my 'down time' ... the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and loose yourself in an adventure, mystery or love story.  Books have always been my way of escaping and from an early age always had my head in a book. This may be some of the reasons as to why I have loved the book about town trails across London this summer... it brings out the child in me! Here is  my adventures from
With an hour to spare I recently spent some time exploring some of the city trail.

Starting at the Tower of London I snapped Katie at London which is displayed looking onto the Tower. This is a fun bench filled with majestic lions, marching soldiers and gorgeous bright colours ... With a perfect backdrop of the Tower and the red poppies. I am sure its been one of the most photographed bench with all the visits to the tower.




Walking away from the Tower toward the heart of the City of London and the Bank district, 2 benches are located in close proximity to themselves in the shadows of The Bank of England. Both I think placed with a touch of irony and fun!... Wind in the Willows and The Stormbreaker.
Wind in the Willows has a fun waterway scene on the front and the travelling scene on the back.... nestled amongst the pages is Toad in jail... a reminder to us all what greed can do!
Stormbreaker is a vivid blue & black with codes and Alex Rider looking very cool on the front. ... a reminder to all that good overcomes evil, whatever the age! and maybe there is a secret agent in all of us..
My next stop on my book trail was St Pauls Cathedral... here I knew a number of benches had been planted in the surrounding gardens.
My first find was the Children's classic Peter Pan... which is just delightful. From Peter soaring above the city, to duelling with Hook.
With St Pauls as its backdrop it is a gorgeous setting for one of Children and adult's alike literary favourites

Along from Peter Pan is one of the most popular male fiction of the last decade... Nick Hornby and his football classic Fever Pitch... in pitch classic green and Nick's iconic Arsenal colours its a simple designed bench... as you can see from the photo's a couple of city gents were making the most of the good weather whilst I was photographing the surroundings!
Adjacent to St Pauls churchyard and in the shadows of the majestic cathedral sits Mary Poppins... this bench has been much loved and had a little damage when I visited. I am pleased to see that on a visit over the weekend it has been restored to its finer glory. The bench is simple in design but whilst I was there drew lots of crowds from little children who were delighted over it. No surprise to find this bench in this vicinity as its where the iconic Feed the Birds was featured in the film.
Finally I ended up in Paternoster Square where Bridget Jones Diary resides in all its red glory...... featuring Bridget laying on the sofa surrounded by everything we love and associate with her... Christmas jumper, take-out, chocolate and of course her beloved diary...

I thoroughly enjoyed my mini city trail... I know that I didn't get to see all the benches but I accomplished a lot in the hour that I had free... here's my chapter on the Bloomsbury trail.... pop back soon when I share my River trail chapter.
More information of the book benches can be found here.
 


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ in the Docks

Today I am sharing more of my adventures of my summer in the city.... I have spent many moments  along the Riverbank, today's post being about St Katherine's Dock.
On my first visit this summer to the Tower of London to see the poppies, I decided to brunch a short walk from the Tower at St Katherines Dock. It is many years since I visited this part of London and was amazed on how much it had changed. This area was a frequent eating and drinking location in my 20's and I have fond memories of the times spent there.
St Katherines is located on the other side of Tower Bridge and can be accessed by walking around the Tower and underneath the bridge. A small waterway links you from the Thames into a host of mini marina's, complete with drawbridges and boat traffic lights. With converted warehouses into apartments and a hub of eateries and shops, its a little water village in the heart of the city. As I was walking along the Thames the Gloriana barge which was commissioned for the Queens jubilee was just docking by Tower Bridge, which was an added bonus. 
With converted warehouses into apartments and a hub of eateries and shops, its a little water village in the heart of the city, complete with iconic phone & letter box!
The 'village' pub, The Dickens Inn's  window boxes were gloriously colourful, and a striking contrast to the blue sky.
As it was quite early in the morning the area was quiet, filled with boat owners breakfasting and getting their boats ready for the day.



As you walk around the boats moored are varied from big cruisers to small sailing boats and a treat for the big kid in all of us to see. Its hard to believe that this is tucked away in the corner of the city bordering the East end of London.

St Katherines Dock manages to mix the old and the new effortlessly, from the old walkways which stretch across the river and the iconic anchors of old it is a lovely place to while away an hour drinking coffee and watching the waterways come to life.
Here is a montage of pictures that I snapped on my ramble around the waterways, as you can see I couldn't have picked a better morning for my meander around the docks.

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Totes Tuesday ~ Orange is the new Black!

So with summer fading I am determined to cling on to as much of I as I possible can with injections of  colour!.... predominately Orange! As the TV keeps telling me Orange is the New Black and I am embracing it fully!
This months Tote Tuesday is a fabulous Orange Tote from Pauls Boutique. Normally PB is not a brand that I would actively seek out as it is usually quite 'blingy' and much more suited to a younger audience, however this bag is quite plain and versatile in its styling.
I picked this up in the sale a couple of years ago for £20 (75% reduction + staff discount ~ win win!!) and is great for the summer, from work through to play it ticks lots of boxes. With a very small pink trim and a detachable strap it's colour palate is straight out of this seasons Roksanda Ilincic collection . The PB logo's are very discrete, with it only visibly stamped on the gold hardware and although not lined it has a couple of inside pockets to secure travel card & phone. The unlined leather enhances the style of this Tote perfectly.
As always I've accessorised my tote and its been a perfect opportunity to use my orange Michael Kors purse, Longchamp make-up bag and Kate Spade "Eat Cake for Breakfast" tech accessories (both KS were birthday treats from my team)

This bag has taken me from work to play throughout August and Orange has been a colour worn lots.  I picked up a great orange blouse and orange & black top (both from Asda!) which work both well with my white trousers from my summer capsule along with black suit for work. Orange Birkenstocks worn frequently on commute, as compliment navy as well as black.
A must in my bag this month has been the new Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) hardback Silkworm, which has kept me highly entertained on my commute (blog post to come).
I've also spent lots of time commuting between London & Birmingham to lots of note taking in Moleskin notebook and very cool stationery.
As with all Totes Tuesday posts I have collaged my styling for the month... here's what Work & Play have looked like:




Work Styling looked a lot like this;
Play styling was much like this:
What's been in your Tote this month and what Handbag are you coveting?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer in the City ~ The Pudding Bar

Pop-up bars, eateries and restaurants are de-rigour across many cities and London leads the way with them this summer ... they have been my lunch & desert of choice through the summer months and have tried to visit a couple. One that was an absolute must was The Pudding Bar. A pop-up with a menu full of desserts & fine wine.
I visited the Pudding Bar on a sunny lunchtime to celebrate my birthday. The pudding bar is situated in Greek Street in the heart of Soho opposite Soho House. The restaurant is over 3 levels and is an eclectic mix of old school tables & chairs, vinyl and vintage tea plates and cutlery.
Even the bathrooms are decorated with a vintage mix of both coloured and black & white recipe papers... like something out of an old Good Housekeeping recipe book... delicious!
For lunch I opted for something light, so Strawberry Eton Mess was my chosen choice. French meringue with strawberry mouse, clotted cream ice-cream, strawberries and black pepper sugar shards. All washed down with a glass of Prosecco.
This was probably the best Eton Mess that I've eaten and was gorgeous. If I wasn't sitting in a public place I could have easily licked the plate clean!... delicious.
The venue is delightful and I was lucky enough to meet the chef who gave me a sneak taste of a chocolate ice-cream that she was trialling all with a kick of tabasco and a sprinkle of pistachio. This is a fab pop-up and I will be going back before the summer finishes...very tempted with the Tasting menu.
If you are the person that looks at the desserts first and then plan your meal around it when visiting a restaurant then this is a must for you!... enjoy x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Summer in the City .... Parklife

As we head towards the end of August and probably the end of summer I'm looking back on some of my favourite places that I have spent some of Summer 14 in. The weather this year has been lovely and I've been determined to spend as much time as I can outside enjoying summer in London.
One of my favourite spaces that I have spent time in is St James Park. Filled with Deckchairs and fabulous views, it is the perfect park to relax in.
St James is the oldest Royal park in London and is surrounded by Palaces, Buckingham, Westminster and St James. 470 years ago the park was mainly farmland, and woods. King James kept a collection of animals in the park. They included camels, crocodiles and an elephant. There were also aviaries of exotic birds along what is now Birdcage Walk. And next to St James's Palace, King James created a flower garden. The flower gardens still remain one of my favourite features and when I visited the Sweet Williams were in full display along with some glorious foxgloves.
 The courts in St James's Park gave their names to the present day Pall Mall and The Mall. A tradition also began at this time that continues today. In 1664, a Russian ambassador presented a pair of pelicans to the king. Pelicans are still offered to the park by foreign ambassadors and remain one of the most popular sights in the park. The park still has lots of pelicans and then basking on the rock in the middle of the pond near Duck Island. Four Pelicans are fed daily between 2.30-3.30 near the island.  Pelicans are very social and quite often join people enjoying their lunch sitting on the benches eating their lunch.
My other favourite part of the park is the little cottage by Duck Island, this gorgeous little house has a vegetable patch, and a glorious flower meadow and pond. The wild flowers were in full bloom and were a perfect backdrop to the blue skies and green fauna.
St James Park is the perfect park in London for commuters, a glorious cut through when walking between Westminster and Mayfair. A great stop for coffee, relaxing in a deckchair and a welcome break from exploring the Palaces surrounding the park.

A Sea of Red.....

This Summer through to the winter an art installation is evolving at the Tower of London. Entitled 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' it will eventually display 888,246 poppies, 1 for each British and Colonial fatality in World War 1. The ceramic poppies have been hand made and are being installed by volunteers over the weeks to Armistice day.
I visited the Tower early one morning a couple of weeks ago and was blown away by the vision already being created. It is humbling, and stunning to see.
With the backdrop of the old history of the Tower flanked by new icons such as The Gherkin and The Shard, it is a beautiful site to see.
Everyday this installation looks different and has grown significantly since I visited. I am looking forward to returning in the next couple of weeks to see how the poppy field has grown. One of my favourite Twitter/Instagram sites is the Police helicopter, their photo's and tweets over the site have been great since it started, here is one of my favourite pictures recently. Equally the view from The Shard is quite spectacular too.
Each of the poppies are for sale and can be ordered via the The Royal British Legion  for £25 and will be sent once the art installation has been dismantled after the 11th November. I've bought mine and look forward to receiving it later this year. This is my MUST see for this summer in London, I hope that they raise lots of money for such worthy causes today and allow us to remember those lives that were lost 100 years ago.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Mr Selfridge Day in Dorset

Back in early summer I spent a day exploring a small part of the Dorset coast line. I have only ever been in this location for work related visits, and although this had 'work' influences it was lovely to spend some time in this picturesque part of the world.
I picked up a train from Waterloo and travelled down to the quaint little village of Hinton Admiral, where I then walked through the village to Highcliff Castle.
 Highcliff Castle between 1916 and the late 1920's was the weekend home of Mr Selfridge and his family. He moved Rose and his mother to this location to escape the dangers of wartime London during WW1. It was thought to be a fear of Zeppelin raids that drove Mr Selfridge to move out of London during the First World War and rent Highcliffe Castle for £5,000 a year fully furnished.
His eldest daughters, Rosalie and Voilette, became Red Cross volunteers and worked at Christchurch Hospital.
Mr Selfridge’s wife, also called Rosalie, was heavily involved in war work, and especially the care of wounded American soldiers. Many of them were treated at the home she established in Christchurch, the Mrs Gordon Selfridge Convalescent Soldiers’ Camp near Christchurch. She was a much loved member of the community.
HG was responsible for the implementation of electricity within the castle and the buildings and renovations of the kitchens. The Castle has had its run of bad luck in recent years and is now under a huge restoration project to build back after a fire which desecrated the buildings in the 50's and 60's. During the summer the castle has hosted a small Mr Selfridge exhibition sharing the history of the castle and the famous department store owner. With books, personal belongings and fabulous photographs its an interesting little exhibit.
As the name suggests the Castle is perched on a cliff overlooking the English Channel, with its Jurassic coastline its winding stairwells and footpaths were perfect for a leisurely stroll. Due to it being pre-school holidays and a weekday, I had the beach to myself other than a couple of dog walkers and joggers. The views either way are stunning, either back at the castle peeking through the forestry or the coastline.
I spent a couple of hours just relaxing on the beach, reading, and cloud watching as the skies turned from blue to grey to black and then blue which was great for an amateur photographer playing with her camera!
Walking back up to the castle I stopped in the garden eatery for some lunch. I opted for Dorset Crab bisque & fresh bread, followed by Tea and Cream Scone. All delicious, made even more delightful by the surroundings and views.
Finishing lunch I headed across the road from the castle into the small churchyard of St Mark's. Here nestling amongst the headstones lies My Selfridge, his mum and his wife. From the lavish crypt of his mothers, to the grand headstone of his wife, Harry's is a simple stone; epitomising how his fortunes declined over the years.
Leaving Highcliff behind I jumped on a bus for the short journey into Christchurch, where I finished my day enjoying the harbour, and beautiful rose garden and a fish & chip supper before catching the train home to London...