Cookies and Scream, Vegan Dream

For those of you who think that being a vegan is no fun, think again. Believe it or not, these delicious treats are all milk, egg and wheat free (yes I’m talking to you too gluten free folks), and best of all they taste just as amazing as they look.

You can find these (and plenty more) hidden away at Cookies and Scream in Camden Lock Market, London.

From peanut butter and jelly cookies to marshmallow brownie goodies (ask the staff to warm these up), you won’t be a able to tell the difference between these babies and any other baked goods, well except that these taste sooo much better!

Oh and did I mention that they also do vegan milkshakes?… Yep.

Go check them out at Camden Lock Market, last orders are at 17:30 so get there quick and nab yourself some vegan friendly treats! For further details click here. Enjoy!

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Competition Time at Barneys!

Dear art lovers,

If you’d like to win a year’s subscription to Ideal Home Magazine, head over to the Barnebys Auctions Facebook page to enter the competition. Good luck!

 

All the pretty things 😉

xoxo

Spring is here!

Spring has definitely come to London and with the cherry blossom blooming, I decided to step away from the books and head out into the sunshine.

Of course my little walk had to include some architecture/educational element 😉

This is St. Mark’s in Primrose Hill. It looks like a little chapel on the outside but is quite spacious inside. The local community host regular classical music concerts here, and there is a beautiful eighteenth-century Italian organ inside. I like.

St Mark's Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark's Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill

 

The Lion of St. Mark

The Lion of St. Mark

This picture takes me back to Venice, with its Lion of St. Mark symbolism scattered all over the city.

Lotta from Stockholm

Lotta from Stockholm

Sun’s out and so are the toes. Ripped jeans and Lotta from Stockholm’s Swedish clogs.

Pastel Primrose Hill

Pastel Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill becomes a world of its own in the Spring with its paint pastel houses. Regent’s Park Road is probably one of my favorite streets in London. Often walk towards Regents Park daydreaming, in another world where I’m a millionaire, which one of these houses would I call my own?

Juliette Balcony

Juliette Balcony

Walking down Chalk Farm road, towards Camden Market from Chalk Farm, on my right was Harmood Road. What might appear to be just another street, in another town, happens to be a lovely little road with probably one of the best second hand bookshops I have seen in London. These guys have a phenomenal selection of second hand Philosophy books from Socrates, to Descartes, Aquinas and Kant. They also have impressive poetry, fiction and arts sections. I got myself a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy (seeing as my tutor has mentioned it on numerous occasions now). Don’t go anywhere else, come here!

Walden Books

Walden Books

 

 

Check out Walden Books here

Lotta from Stockholm here  (In serious need of a third pair…)

 

Got British Gothic

Though I haven’t been posting as regularly as I have in the past I’ve spent a lot more of my time looking at art and architecture and specially British Gothic churches over the past couple of months, more than I ever have before.

My recent studies have really opened up my eyes to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages and how universal it was. Previously I had thought of Gothic architecture as something dark occurring at some point after the Glory of Rome and before the the rebirth of classical ideals during the Renaissance.

Little did I know of the architectural complexities and technological achievement of the so called ‘Dark Ages’ which appear to have not been so dark at all…

My favourite British Gothic:

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Temple Church, one of the earliest examples of Gothic in England, it’s origins are still a mystery to me, much more of a mystery than the Knights Templar for whom the church was commissioned. Henry III originally chose to be buried here.

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Salisbury Cathedral, I finally understand what is meant by architectural ‘plasticity’. One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, the sun reflecting on the brilliance of the white stone is stunning.

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Westminster Abbey (not to be confused with the cathedral) is the final resting place of Edward the Confessor, Henry III and a long list of British monarchs including Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Though we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside I will never have my experience erased from my memory. The Gothic construction was commissioned by good old Henry III (I really like this guy) as a giant reliquary for Edward the Confessor, the saintly king of England. Some say it was a rip off of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, others say it is quintessentially British, I am yet to decide for myself…

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Why I always choose AirBnB over hotel rooms

Airbnb

Most of us aren’t quite fortunate enough to stay in five star luxury hotels. The cheaper alternative surely then is booking with Airbnb…

Airbnb is a virtual space in which hosts can advertise their spare rooms/studios/entire apartments or houses to travellers across the globe. The company started off small but now have an international following of hosts and guests, a community of like minded people who would pick staying among the locals over a centrally located hotel any day.

So how does it all work? The host posts a space on the Airbnb website, with pictures. Guests select their preferences using the search engine by price, size, location and appearance, contact the host, arrange suitable dates and time, book and pay. Simple as 1,2,3.

I have been using Airbnb for the past couple of years and since I started I haven’t looked at another cheap hotel room. Here’s why:

 

1. I can select the exact location that I want to stay in

Whether I want to wake up at the foot of Montmartre, opposite the Colosseum or a brisk walk away from the Empire State Building I have that choice. Most hotels are based around the centre of town or near busy train stations which makes it noisy and expensive (which I will get to in my next point). I’d much rather be settled in a communal area where I can have my morning coffee in a local cafe or have a glass of wine in a bar locals head to after work.

 

2. Price

It is much cheaper to rent through Airbnb. This summer I rented an entire studio apartment a stone’s throw from the Sacre Coeur with a friend. The cost… something along the lines of £15 ($25) per night for an apartment in which we had our own space and privacy with a kitchen where we could cook our own dinner (which really helped to save on eating out).

 

3. Host

How nice it is to have flexible check in and out times, not having to wait or rush and to have a host who’s prepared an itinerary for you. In Copenhagen I was very kindly given guide books, a map and some really good advice on what to do and what to not bother wasting my time with. My host understood my passion for architecture and instead of suggesting Contemporary Art galleries or designer shops he pointed me towards vintage markets and churches, neat.

 

4. Honesty

No more false advertising only to find that my hotel room has cockroaches, no windows or a broken shower. Hotels can put you in any room they want to, not necessarily the one you looked at on their website. With Airbnb you get what you pick. Reviews by previous guests also helped in the selection process. If you don’t like the reviews, you don’t book.

 

5. Little treats

Hosts always provide little treats, it is sooooo nice to turn up to chocolates, cheese, nutella, champagne, good coffee etc. Of course I either bring small gifts from London or restock the fridge as a thank you in return. This is a little extra touch you don’t get at a cheap hotel.

 

6. Friendship

It’s nice to make friends with the locals – your host is the locals. I’ve made friends with the hosts of the places I’ve stayed in. When I visit Paris I make sure I pop round to Matthieu’s flat to say hello. He introduces me to new bars (though recently I’ve been introducing him to a few) and this just starts a chain reaction of meeting new people.

 

Of course, as with all things in life, you have to be wise when using Airbnb. The website offer plenty of advice on how to travel safely and how to pick the right place to stay as unfortunately there is always be one not so nice person who spoils all the fun. So some words of advice to those considering using Airbnb for their next trips:

 

1. Select wisely

Take your time to carefully look through your options. Look at the images carefully, make sure they are all of the same place. Do some background research on the neighborhood (Airbnb even help with this), don’t pick a cheap room in the middle of nowhere just to save on a couple of Euros.

 

2. Reviews

Read the reviews. If the person has a lot of negative reviews (broken toilet seats, not hospitable, no towels etc…) think twice. If the person do not have many reviews and you are traveling on your own then use your head. When traveling alone I make sure I stay at a place owned either by a woman or a couple, or somewhere that has plenty of reviews by women.

 

3. Contact

Do not just book in a rush. Contact your host first. I always throw a few messages back and forth asking my host questions about their life, job, hobbies etc. This builds up a bit of a relationship, especially if you are renting a room within a house and not the entire apartment on your own.

 

4. If you don’t feel right, don’t do it.

Use your instincts people.

 

And there you have it. I hope you consider using Airbnb after reading my review.

 

For more information on Airbnb visit here.

 

A Day Trip to Bath

So I was one week away from my trip to Denmark when I began to get impatient, so I booked a coach ticket and spent a day in Bath.

Bath is a city in southwest Somerset, a three hour coach trip from London. The city of Bath has ancient origins, it was originally founded as a spa by the Romans in the first century AD. Due to the presence of hot springs, the Romans built baths and a temple in the area, a tradition they had brought with them from their homelands.

Bath is also famous for its medieval heritage and especially Bath Abbey. We owe a lot to the Georgians for their expansion of Bath through the construction of Georgian period architecture, which gives the impression of a classical style and uniform palatial beauty.  The Victorians further expanded the city with fine architecture such as the Theatre Royal with the Grand Pump Room which are both connected to the Roman baths.

As we entered the main high street, which is a 5 minute walk from the bus station, I felt as if I was walking back in time. As you walk up the main high street, you eventually hit a beautiful courtyard on your right, which leads to Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

I was absolutely impressed by the Abbey, though small it boasts one of the largest examples of Gothic Perpendicular style in the West Country. Prior to entering the Abbey (it wasn’t yet open) we paid a visit to the Roman baths.

Roman Baths with a view of Bath Abbey

Roman Baths with a view of Bath Abbey

Though pricey (some £13.o0 for a ticket), the baths are definitely worth a visit. The team of historians and archaeologists at the baths have come together to put on an excellent show of the Roman baths. The tourist is guided (with a complimentary audio guide) through the baths, into the main building where we had a the chance to experience the mouth of the hot springs and the Temple of the Goddess Sulis Minerva. The tourist is taken back in time to ancient Roman Britain, we were exposed to daily and religious life in Britain under Rome.

One of the 19th century carvings of Roman Emperors

One of the 19th century carvings of Roman Emperors

The Great  Bath

The Great Bath

The best of Rome

The best of Rome

I was glad to have been able to recap on my Roman bath knowledge, frigidarium, tepiderium, calderium…

Our next stop was the beautiful Bath Abbey. The abbey was founded in the 7th century though the building that stands today is predominately in the Perpendicular Gothic style of the 14th and 16th centuries (which led onto the development of a Tudor style).

The first thing that I was absolutely amazed by is the sense of vertical lines through the impressively carved fan vaulting.

Fanned Vaulting Bath Abbey

Fanned Vaulting Bath Abbey

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Though small in comparison to a cathedral and with only the main vessel and single aisle on each side, the architects have managed to create the illusion of great space and light through the magnificent stained glass windows.

19th Century Stained Glass Windows

19th Century Stained Glass Windows

Perpendicular

Perpendicular

The Main Vessel of Bath Abbey

The Main Vessel of Bath Abbey

The facade is interesting in that on either side of the western entrance, there are carved ladders on which angels ascend and descend the heavens.

Angels on Ladders

Angels on Ladders

Flying Buttresses

Flying Buttresses

My absolute favorite architectural touch would have to be the external flying buttresses with their beautifully carved pinnacles, which were first introduced in French High Gothic architecture.

There is no entry fee to enter the abbey though donations are welcome. I would definitely suggest paying a visit to Bath Abbey.

Other things to do and see in Bath:

If you like Georgian architecture I would suggest visiting the Royal Crescent, Lansdown Crescent and The Circus which look like the beautiful Georgian houses lined up outside Regent’s Park in London.

The 18th century Pulteney is said to have been designed to resemble the Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It is one of the only bridges to have the double purpose of having a crossing and shops built into it. The design was apparently based on Palladio’s rejected plan for the Rialto in Venice.

Museums: Bath has plenty of museums from the Fashion Museum to the Museum of East Asian Art, both of which are behind the center close to The Circus (for those Georgian architecture fans). There is also the Victoria Art Gallery which is at the end of the Pulteney Bridge.

Have amazing tea/coffee/hot chocolate (or as I did, have them all!) at Jacob’s coffee house! They even do gluten free sweet treats.

Jacob's Coffee House

Jacob’s Coffee House

 

The downside:

Being a center for tourism, Bath has been overtaken with high street brands and restaurant chains. It became a bit suffocating after passing TOPSHOP, New Look, H&M and not one but three EE phone shops. After a couple of hours of seeing the same chain shops and restaurants I began a desperate search for something a little bit different and more independent. Step away from consumerist nightmare to Walcot Street, which runs off of London Street and is a 5 minute walk from the center. Here you will find independent cafes and restaurants, charity and vintage shops and boutique furniture stores. It’s also peaceful and hidden from the throng of tourists in the city center. We even found a little chapel that was hosting a contemporary art exhibition.

Walcot Street, the place to be

Walcot Street, the place to be

So if you’re in London and fancy a quiet day away from the Big Smoke, take a National Express bus to Bath Spa. Tickets can be bought online via the National Express website. Coaches leave hourly from Victoria Coach Station to Bath City Center.

Enjoy! Next stop… Copenhagen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Square Mile

London’s ‘Square Mile’, the city within the city, is the oldest part of London. It consists of the original Roman settlement up to London of the Middle Ages, the original Medieval layout of the old city remaining almost unchanged to this day. It was in this part of the city that famous architects such as Christopher Wren envisioned remodeling the City after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Today the City is the world’s leading global financial center, but to me it shall always be the art historical center of London.

If you care to take a walk down London’s historic center, I would suggest starting at the Aldwych end of Fleet Street. Here you can visit the Knights Templar Temple Church and the Prince Henry Rooms, one of the few buildings to have survived the Great Fire of London.

Cross the road and on your left is St. Dunstan in the West, one of the City’s oldest churches having been built in the 10th century. The church that stands here today is a remodeled 19th century version of the original medieval church.  Surviving Historical features include the 17th century clock with figures representing Gog and Magog, the ancient guardians of London. Surviving also is a 16th century sculpture of Queen Elizabeth I, the only standing outdoor sculpture of the queen. This little gem is definitely worth a visit.

St. Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street

St. Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street

The only surviving outdoor sculpture of Queen Elizabeth I - St. Dunstan in the West

The only surviving outdoor sculpture of Queen Elizabeth I – St. Dunstan in the West

As you walk up Fleet Street, stick to the left of the road and you’ll pass Sweeny Todd’s barber shop, where he cut the throats of helpless victims in order to give the bodies to his lover who then made meat pies out of the meat. Nice.

Look up and you shall come face to face with Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St. Paul's and its Catholic dome

St. Paul’s and its Catholic dome

Christopher Wren was raised in medieval London, he would have been used to the chaos of the ancient layout of the City. A lover or mathematics, harmony and architecture, Wren studied astronomy at Cambridge University. After the Great Fire, he was commissioned to produce a new plan for London, one that would have put London at the center of European culture. Wren’s works were never realized, though the original ground plans can still be seen today. However, many of his churches, including St. Paul’s were commissioned. There were people who despised Wren for his rather Catholic looking masterpiece, though this was the people’s church and in a time of religious reform Wren won the hearts of the public with this harmoniously Classical work of art.

Close to St. Paul’s Cathedral is the famous Monument, which marks the spot of the beginning of the Fire of London. It is believed that the fire began at a bakery on Pudding Lane. Much of medieval London was destroyed, which gave way to the development of a more modern and forward thinking City. From then on, buildings were no longer allowed to be built in wood.

The Monument

The Monument

Today visitors can climb all the way to the top of The Monument for a fantastic view of London.

My favorite part of the Square Mile, which most people don’t know about (shhh it’s a secret), is the historically rich church of All Hallow’s by the Tower. Situated meters away from the Tower of London, this little beauty of a church houses centuries of London history dating back to the Roman settlement.

Founded in the 7th century this is London’s oldest church. All Hallow’s features an original Saxon arch which was constructed using recycled Roman building material. An early Roman settlement (with surviving Roman mosaics) can be seen in the crypt, which also houses the church’s museum. It is said that Richard I’s heart is buried somewhere within the church walls, the church also later  gained royal connections due to it’s proximity to the Tower of London. It was rebuilt, enlarged and modified over centuries and survived the Fire of London. Samuel Pepys is famously said to have climbed the tower in order to watch the destruction of London during the Great Fire. It was bombed during the war though its original outer walls thankfully survived.

With such a rich history (of which I have merely brushed over the surface) how could you possibly miss such a spectacle of London history? If you are visiting the Tower of London, be sure to stop off at All Hallow’s on your way in or out. The church staff are knowledgeable and friendly and are happy to guide you around the church on a free tour.

All Hallow's by the Tower

All Hallow’s by the Tower

Layers of history as you walk up the nave

Layers of history as you walk up the nave

So, start at Temple (nearest tube station: Temple) and make your way down the City, peeling through layers of London history on your way. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Eat Healthy at Borough Market

Travelers, take some time out of your busy tourist itinerary to visit Borough Market for a bite to eat. Londoners, ditch the supermarket and stock up your fridge with a range of natural produce and world foods at Borough Market!

Visit the market on Thursday, Friday or Saturday for the largest variety of market stall goodness.

 

Ripe

Ripe

I’ve been converted to buying my fruit and veg at Turnips!

http://turnipsboroughmarket.com/

Fresh

Fresh

As a big zucchini fan I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted these beauties.

Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

As well as stunning fruit and veg, you can delight your senses (and stomach) with food from all around the world.

My favorite cheese stall would have to be Jumi London, with its fine Swiss cheese produce.

Swiss Cheese by Jumi

Swiss Cheese by Jumi

and here are some more of my personal favorites…

 

Sweet Treat

Sweet Treat

Dip into some truffle, honey and cheese.

A La Francaise

A La Francaise

Une Normandie a Londres is a perfect place to buy your French cheeses and meats.

Picante

Picante

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

Sample some fresh oysters with a glass of prosecco at one of the various fresh fish stalls at Borough Market.

Take Me to the Greek

Take Me to the Turkish

There are a few olive stalls in the market though my personal favorite was this Turkish one.

Pot of Love

Pot of Love

Flower Power

Flower Power

These little beauties made my day!

So abandon the usual Trafalgar Sq./Covent Garden/Notting Hill tourist traps for a bit of flavor and traditional London market life at Borough Market. Stick around until 4pm when the stalls begin to close for discounts and bargains.

How to get there: Take the tube to either London Bridge (Northern, Jubilee Line) or Borough (Northern Line), the market is a stone throw’s away. 

Love London.

http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day Trip to St. Albans

Though St. Albans is less than an hour away from London, it feels like you’re worlds away when you step off that train and make your way to the town centre. St. Albans brings to life it’s rich history, dating back to the Roman settlement of Verulamium. Roman walls are scattered around the town, and especially at the park which hosts it’s own archaeological museum – The Verulamium Museum, it houses artifacts found in the local Roman settlement, displaying everyday life in Roman Britain.

I fell in love with the Medieval architecture of St. Albans. Our first stop was at the clock tower. The clock tower, built in the fifteenth century, is one of the oldest examples of a Medieval town belfry in England. It was in use until the nineteenth century when the top of the tower was used as a semaphore station during the Napoleonic Wars.

For a £1 entree fee, you can climb all the way to the top, the best part being the fantastic view of St. Albans and beyond!

St. Albans Medieval Bell Tower

St. Albans Medieval Bell Tower

The Workings of Time

The Workings of Time

From the Top

From the Top

The Rich Landscape of St. Albans

The Rich Landscape of St. Albans

Next stop, St. Albans Cathedral. St. Albans Cathedral is a wonder of its own kind. The building is a mix of architectural styles dating back to the Normans. I felt at ease as the hours passed, walking along the aisles, soaking in every inch of history as it revealed itself to me through the walls.

The cathedral is named after the town’s patron saint, St. Alban, a Roman citizen of Verulamium who was martyred on the site of the building. St. Alban is famous for being Britain’s first Christian martyr. It is generally believed that he was martyred sometime between 205-304 AD.

Exterior of the Cathedral at St. Albans

Exterior of the Cathedral at St. Albans

This building is full of art historical significance and innovation. The tower is the only standing example of an 11th century cross tower in England.

The Cross Tower of St. Albans Cathedral

The Cross Tower of St. Albans Cathedral

Surviving Norman Arches and Traces of Original Wall Painting

Surviving Norman Arches and Traces of Original Wall Painting

 

Later Gothic Style Arches

Later Gothic Style Arches

Stone Sculpting

Stone Sculpting

Oriental Dreaming

Oriental Dreaming

This beautiful roof symbolizes both the Tudor and Stewart houses. One of the Battles of the Roses occurred on a site at St. Albans. Both roses were included in the Tudor decoration at the cathedral as the Bishop didn’t think it fair to show favor to one family over the other.

The Great Roses of England

The Great Roses of England

 

As we made our way out of the cathedral, towards the old Roman settlement of Verulamium, we passed what I was told is the oldest pub in England, the Fighting Cocks. I couldn’t help but feel that I had walked onto the set of a Lord of the Rings film. This absolutely charming little pub hosts a cosy and traditional interior with it’s own fireplace.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the Oldest Pub in England

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the Oldest Pub in England

A short walk across the River Ver led us into the local park, in which we discovered Roman walls, mosaics and the Verulamium Museum.

Roman Mosaics at Verulamium

Roman Mosaics at Verulamium

Roman Villa Mosaics at the Verulamium Museum

Roman Villa Mosaics at the Verulamium Museum

No we didn’t step into a time warp, we were just lucky enough to visit St. Albans during the celebration of the Magna Carta, the negotiations of which began in St. Albans. We watched a re-enactment of the date in history as well as a Medieval battle.

These Guys Were Cool

These Guys Were Cool

So if you need a day away from London, make your way to St. Albans. St. Albans can easily be reached either from Kings Cross or Kentish Town overground stations. Tickets cost as little as £7.50 return so what are you waiting for?