A Winter Walk through the City

 

This past Friday I found myself with an early morning appointment in The City, and another meeting at 11:30am. This left me with a few hours to explore and enjoy the Square Mile on the last major working day before Christmas week.

beasofbloomsbury

I kicked things off at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, a great little coffee shop at One New Change, which is a modern shopping mall located next to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral, by the way, was absolutely glowing in the early morning winter sun.

st_pauls

After coffee it was off to Bank where I wandered around The Royal Exchange and admired all the luxury shop windows dressed up for the season. The interior of the Royal Exchange is absolutely stunning, but unfortunately no photos are allowed. (I found this out the hard way from a very polite security guard)

royal_exchange

hermes

No trip to The City is complete without a wander through Leadenhall Market. There’s been a market here since the 15th century, but the current covered structure has been in place since the 1880s. After my brief trip to Leadenhall I continued to wander aimlessly for another half hour or so, reminding myself of how lucky I am to not only live in London, but have the luxury of taking a random stroll through its streets on a Friday morning.

leadenhall

the counting house

thecheesegrater

I’ve been working my butt off for the last few months, but next week I’m going to take things easy and enjoy the festivities here in town. This will be my first Christmas in London for four years and I’m really looking forward to it.

xoxo

Girl in London

 

Tips on Surviving London for Students on a Budget

 
Kensington

London

My undergraduate days may be long behind me (perhaps longer than I’d like to admit!), but I feel for you students out there. Studying in London, whether you’re coming from abroad or another part of the UK, is super super super exciting.

There’s just one problem: London is also happens to be super super super expensive.

It’s a tough enough place to afford as a working professional, so I can only imagine how daunting it is as a student.

But there’s no need to fear future scholars, Girl in London is here to help.

Here is a pretty comprehensive collection of cash-saving tips for living (and enjoying!) London that I’ve picked up over the last five years:

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Sitting Down with Notting Hill Native Charlie Marshall

 

Charlie Marshall

A few months back I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Marshall, founder of one of my favourite London-based furniture companies, Loaf.

The native Londoner shared with me his inspiration for creating Loaf, his design inspiration, and his personal tip for things to see and do in Notting Hill.

Where did the idea for ‘Loaf’ come from?

Frustration really! I once lost a whole Saturday trying to buy a bed so I decided to make the shopping experience as hassle free, affordable and speedy as possible. Two years, 187 mattress factories and some seriously comfy beds later, Loaf was born. The idea is that we’ve done all of the testing so that the customer doesn’t have to. We’re now a one-stop shop for the whole home offering characterful, handmade furniture and accessories that look darn good.

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Loaf’s “Crumpet” sofa

 

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Loaf’s “Lou Lou” bed

 

You’re a Notting Hill native. What do you love most about the neighbourhood? 

Yes, I’m a born and bred Londoner. I’ve got early memories of sitting with my Dad in his Mini Metro watching rioters make petrol bombs on All Saints Road for the Notting Hill Riots! Luckily the area has transformed into a well-integrated society with a real melting pot of cultures and characters which has resulted in interesting shops and a wicked vibe.

Are there any special spots around Notting Hill that you’d recommend to visitors?

I’d recommend heading off the tourist track a bit and visiting Golborne Road market instead of Portobello as its got really good antique shops and interesting market sellers to chat to. The streets are full of quirky coffee shops and artisan bakeries but Falafel King and Pizza East are two of our favourites. Or try sitting on plastic chairs and eating from the Moroccan fried fish stalls on Golborne Road itself. Make sure you swing by our Notting Hill showroom too, we’re tucked just off Ladbroke Grove so it’s a good way to escape the hustle and bustle.

Read the full interview on LondonPerfect’s blog.

Welcome to Limehouse

 

welcometolimehouse

Welcome to the neighbourhood everyone! Today I want to introduce you all to Limehouse, the little section of London I’ve called home for the past two and a half years.

Straddling the line between the glossy skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and The City of London, Limehouse is a cosy community wrapped around a small basin full of canal and leisure boats.

Limehouse Basin

Limehouse Basin with Canary Wharf in the background.

Canal in Limehouse

Canal in Limehouse looking towards Canary Wharf

We Limehousians (that’s what I’m calling us) get our own little DLR station that connects us to Canary Wharf to the east, Greenwich to the south, and Tower Bridge and Bank to the west. These transport connections make the neighbourhood especially popular with finance folk (my other half included), who enjoy an easy 10-minute commute to the offices in either Canary Wharf or The City.

Among Limehouse’s many charms is its maritime heritage. The architectural aesthetic in this part of London, which extends out to the Docklands, Greenwich, and Wapping, is decidedly different from the prim and proper Victorian and Georgian town homes of West London.

In contrast to the leafy residential streets that sprung up during the height of Britain’s imperial might, Limehouse was a gritty rough and tumble area where ships docked to offload goods from far away lands. Narrow Street, a pretty thoroughfare running parallel to the River Thames, keeps much of this hearty history alive through its well preserved facades.

Narrow Street

St. Dunstans Wharf, Narrow Street

Narrow Street

Sailmaker House, Narrow Street

Limehouse Wharf, Narrow Street

Limehouse Wharf, Narrow Street

While the stevedores, sailors and opium dens (this was the site of London’s original Chinatown) are long gone, Limehouse still boasts one pub that can trace its origins back over 500 years. The Grapes, a watering hole teetering on the banks of the River Thames, is one of the city’s oldest pubs and was even mentioned in a Dickens novel. It’s front door almost entirely obscured by overflowing flower pots in summer, I’ll admit to slipping in for a weekday lunch here and there.

Limehouse, of course, isn’t without its flaws. Some would probably argue that the hodgepodge of modern apartment buildings takes away from the charm of the area. Others point to the lack of amenities in the area. Aside from The Grapes, there are only one or two other pubs in the area and very few cafes. There is only one major supermarket here, one dry cleaner, and not much else on the shopping front.

As a neighbourhood to call home, Limehouse doesn’t fit the London stereotype. It’s not as chic as Kensington, not as trendy as Camden, and not as artsy as Shoreditch. With easy transport links, water views, and quiet residential streets, Limehouse is, however, just right for me 😉

The Narrow

Gordan Ramsay’s pub ‘The Narrow’ on Narrow Street

Interactive map: London’s renting crisis [via Financial Times]

 

I ran into this excellent interactive map on ft.com (Financial Times) which gives you an idea of what percentage of your income you would need to spend in order to rent a 1 – 3 bedroom flat in Greater London. It starts you off with the average graduate salary, which is around 22k GBP (yikes!), but you can scale up to 100k GBP. The map highlights the rent struggle that a lot of young people suffer through here in London.

Whereas graduates in other cities and towns throughout the world are embarking on a new life on their own or with a partner, a lot of graduates in London live in flatshares through their 20s and oftentimes into their 30s. It’s an interesting conundrum that has a lot of social implications.