Posts from October 2014

Primrose Hill

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London is a huge city spread out over a fairly large area and getting to know it can be a daunting task when you are looking at a map. When we moved here, we found that much like NYC, London is filled with lots of different neighborhoods that each have their own charm and character. One of my favorite parts of living here has been exploring the city and getting to know these different neighborhoods so I thought I would begin sharing my findings with a new neighborhood guide section to the blog.

Living in North London, I thought it only appropriate to start somewhere close to home, so today I am going to share my favorite spots in Primrose Hill. This leafy area of North London is home to lots of expats and even a few celebs (we ate dinner sitting next to Jamie Oliver once which made me very excited about our restaurant choice!). It almost has a village feel to it even though you are in the middle of the city and I adore all of the brightly colored homes that are scattered throughout. The high street is filled with independent shops and when you are done poking around there, you can get an amazing view of the city from the top of Primrose Hill. Now, on to my favorite places in the neighborhood (Links and detaile below. I’ve noted the symbols that on the map above the corresponds with their location)…

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Primrose Hill Pets: (The dog bone) This is a great little pet store and despite it’s size, it has pretty much anything you need for your pet. We bring Bonnie in all of the time, sometimes to get her nails clipped (they have grooming in the back), and they usually give her a little treat which makes her very happy and difficult for me to get her to leave- but I love it anyway.

Primrose Hill Books: (The blue book) There is something I love about on independent book store that I can’t quite put my finger on. This gem of a bookshop has a lot of punch for it’s small size. They sell both new and used books and I can look through their stacks of books for longer than is probably normal.

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Sweet Things: (The pink cupcake) Ah, cupcakes. This is a very popular topic of conversation in the Murphy household and Sweet Things is dangerously close to our house. They have delicious flavors ranging from your classic chocolate and vanilla to less traditional one like carrot, red velvet, salted caramel but my favorite is oreo. They also offer mini cupcakes which are great to order if you want to try multiple flavors without eating an insane number of calories. They also offer lots of other baked goods that are yummy too, but we often find it hard to forgo the cupcakes!

Negozio Classica: (The wine glass) This wine store and restaurant combo has some great Italian food. Nothing fancy, just good food. And for the wine, you can browse what they have to sell in the shop and they’ll pop the bottle open for you.

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Shepherd Foods: (The Oreo) This grocery store is part of chain and its perfect if you have forgotten something and need to pop in somewhere quickly. But the real draw of this place is there section of american products that you can’t find easily in London. A few of my favorite items to grab are Nestle chocolate chips, graham crackers, Oreos, Crisco, Jiffy corn mix and random cereals like Lucky Charms. Yes, you will pay an arm and a leg for these items but it is worth it sometimes for that little slice of home.

Greenberry Cafe: (The green coffee cup) I only recently found this place even though it has been in Primrose Hill long before we moved to London and it is my favorite place in the entire neighborhood. They have delicious coffee, amazing breakfasts and even a great list of cocktails to accompany dinner. If you go, you must have the chicken and avocado salad. One of my many, many favorites here. Plus, they are dog friendly!

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Richard Dare: (The chefs hat and whisk) Coming a close second to good bookstore, I absolutely love a good kitchenware store and this place does not disappoint. It is packed chock full of all kinds of kitchen gadgets and things you didn’t know you needed but instantly have to have when you see them.

The Lansdowne Pub: (The pizza) This is one of my favorite pubs in Primrose Hill. Its not your typical dark, old man feeling pub which I love, don’t get me wrong. But the Lansdowne feels a bit more communal with the large wooden tables that are great for bigger groups. And their food is great- my favorite order would be one of the pizzas (particularly anything with chorizo on it). And if it is a nice day out, why not choose one of the lovely picnic tables outside to enjoy the sunshine.

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La Petite Poissonnerie: (The red fish) One of things I enjoy about living in London are all of the specialty shops they have for different things- the butcher, the bakery, the green grocer and of course the fishmonger. This particular fishmonger always has a great selection and they will prepare your fish exactly as you need it. We’ve had many a great dinner due to this place and I can tell you it was due to the fresh ingredients and not my cooking.

Primrose Bakery: (The purple cupcake) Another lovely place that has a selection of cakes, breads and cookies. But my favorite thing to order here is the hot chocolate- perfectly rich and chocolatey and will instantly warm you up on a blustery day. The decor of the place is quite cute too and is completemented by the fun gifts and cards they sell too.

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Melrose & Morgan: (The blue coffee cup) This is one of two locations of Melrose & Morgan (the other being in Hampstead), a fabulous grocery and kitchen that makes freshly prepared foods. I am partial to their lattes, chicken goujons, sausage rolls, any of their soups and brownies. But really, you can’t go wrong with anything you order here. Sometimes I’ll stop in for lunch, a quick snack for the road or load up for dinner if I’m not up to cooking something.

The Engineer: (The pint glass) One last spot in Primrose Hill that always delivers a good meal is the Engineer whether you go there for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can count on delicious food. And in the back they have a beautiful garden that pairs well with a nice jug of Pimms.

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Tomm / SW15

A portrait series of people who call London home.

Over the past few weeks I have been able to photograph a few more Londoners for my portrait series and I am very happy to kick this off again with Tomm of Paget & Coles, a fellow Londoner who I found via Instagram (I highly recommend following him for some beautiful shots around London).

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How long have you lived in London?

12 years

What makes someone a Londoner?

Being a Londoner is more than just about being born here. For me, a Londoner is someone who calls London home.

North London or South London?

There are definitely two distinct vibes to the north and south. Fate placed me in south London when I first arrived, and I have stayed put ever since, so I guess I’m team south.

Favorite thing about living in London?

Ah, where to start…. My love-affair with the city is totally dominated by food, and the access to fresh, healthy and delicious cuisine is one of my favourite things… and the fact that my best buddies all live here and keep me company through all this eating is pretty awesome. I love the cultural diversity, and how liberal London is, and that you are never far from a good independent coffee shop. The history of London blows my mind and the more I learn, the more I love the city. Oh, and Richmond park is a thing of beauty, especially at this time of year.

Least favorite thing about living in London?

There’s not much I don’t like about London, but the cost of public transport is definitely up there. The pollution gets to me a bit, as do angry commuters. Oh and people playing loud music on public transport… uh oh, now you’ve got me started!

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

The Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel’s is stunning… all dark and broody with beautiful art deco features. I’m a big coffee fan and I’m always hunting out new cafes who’s serve a good a flat white. Scooter Cafe on Lower Marsh in Waterloo is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. As is my local, Grind coffee bar in Putney.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

My current go-to restaurant is Grainstore on Granary Square in Kings Cross. I’m also partial to an organic Sunday lunch at The Duke of Cambridge in Islington, if I could eat there every weekend I’d be a happy chappy! For special occasions I’m often drawn to the OXO tower, the view from the balcony there on a sunny day makes for a very special meal.

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

Totally a combination of everything. I’m loving the Barclays bikes though, they have totally changed my experience of the city… when it’s not raining!

Where do you go to get away from the city?

Definitely Paris! About once a year I have to get my fix of Paris life. Thankfully, another great thing about London is that I can get there in a few hours from St. Pancras. The other place I’m drawn to is Nottinghamshire, where I grew up. I still have family there up there, and it’s always a joy to head up to the Midlands and take in the countryside air.

Skibo Castle

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This summer Reid and I were invited to spend the weekend way up north in Scotland’s eastern highlands at the glorious Skibo Castle, now a private club that was originally built by Andrew Carnegie. The words private club tend to conjure up images of stuffy establishments that can make you feel out of place, but that could not be further from the truth. From the moment we arrived at Skibo, Reid and I could not have felt more welcomed and accepted and I think that is a big aim for everyone who works there or is a member there.

A quick flight from London to Inverness followed by an hour drive north and we had arrived at our destination. Once we had gotten over the shell shock of staying in such a beautiful location, we took advantage of exploring the grounds and everything on offer at the club. Besides never having been this far north in the UK before, the weekend was full of lots of firsts for me… my first time to go clay pigeon shooting (also my first time to shoot a shotgun), my first time to see and partake in falconry (the snowy owl took quite a liking to me), my first time participating in a ceilidh (traditional scottish dancing) and my first time hearing a toast given in honor of the haggis.

When we weren’t trying out new things, we filled our time with meandering walks, taking advantage of the spa and pool, and of course golfing (though that was just Reid, I’m not really blessed with any golfing skills). By the time the weekend came to an end, I’m surprised Reid and I were actually able to pry ourselves away and head back to London. It was a once in a lifetime experience that we are forever grateful for and will never forget.

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Story Deli

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If you head north along Brick Lane in east London, right before the road ends, you will come across an anonymous but beautiful building that houses one of the most delicious pizza places on this side of the pond- Story Deli. I think I stumbled across Story Deli after seeing a photo of it on instagram and immediately fell in love with decor. When you walk in you are greeted by tall ceilings, white walls and communal tables. My favorite bit is the ceiling that is filled with skylights that allow a flood of natural light into the room. But, beyond the decor, the pizzas really are insanely delicious. Reid and I have visited about three or four times, each time ordering two different pizzas to share and have always devoured them embarrassingly quickly. Two that I would recommend are the dora romero (with chorizo, smashed tomatoes, basil pesto and buffalo mozzarella) and the aubergine, goat’s cheese and ham.

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Cornwall in Summer

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Now that it’s October, I am finally ready for autumn to arrive, get my sweaters out of storage from beneath the bed and cooking more hearty meals for those chilly nights. But that doesn’t mean that I am finished reminiscing about summer. Back in August a group of us were invited down to our friend’s amazing home in Cornwall for what has turned into our third annual trip down that way (you can see previous trips here). Unlike past trips, we were blessed with beautiful weather pretty much every day and we took full advantage of it by having BBQs in the garden, swimming in the ocean, heading out on the boat to try to catch some fish and going for long walks along the coast. This year we made a return visit to the St. Kew Inn for a lovely pub lunch in their front garden before heading back to the house for a pretty hilarious mystery dinner party. This trip has always been a highlight of the year for Reid, Bonnie and I and this year was no different!

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