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…)

 

An Education in French Queens

Forgive me, for it’s been over a month since I last blogged. My mind has been engulfed by postgraduate studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art! Finally I have 5 minutes (more like half an hour) to myself, which means… well deserved precious blogging time. Autumn has to be my favorite time of the year for all it’s golden leafy glory (plus it’s birthday season for me) and so I present to you, an autumnal beauty, Jardin Luxembourg, Paris.

Jardin Luxembourg

Jardin Luxembourg

 

Marie de Medici

Marie de Medici

Florentine born Marie de Medici, queen of France, true to her Medici blood, she was a major patron of French Arts

Marguerite d'Angouleme

Marguerite d’Angouleme

 

Mathilde

Mathilde

Here’s where nations unite, Mathilde was the consort of William the Conqueror

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Yes even the Queen of Scots has her French affiliates

Jeanne d'Albret

Jeanne d’Albret

A saintly figure…

Saint Genevieve

Saint Genevieve

And Delacroix!

Delacroix

Delacroix

Oh and if you’re under 4ft tall you can ride on one of these babies

cute

cute

Visiting the Sun King at Versailles

Versailles, beautiful yet tragic. A spectacular achievement in French architecture that would only see three generations of the French royal family inhabiting its walls. The Chateau  de Versailles was begun by eccentric Louis XIV, who moved the court from Paris to Versailles in the seventeenth century. The site of the palace was originally a hunting lodge built by Louis XIII, over the next century Versailles would be expanded upon and transformed into an exquisite pleasure palace from which the descendants of Louis XIV would continue to act out the sacred royal rights initiated by the Sun King.

The Sun King

The Sun King

I have been reading about Louis XIV and his descendants over the past couple of years. From the Sun King and his mistresses, to the boy king Louis the Beloved and the unfortunate Louis Capet, I have slowly traced the lives of the family at their royal residence. My particular interest is in Marie Antoinette’s life at court and her constant battle to legitimize herself as a Bourbon queen (she was a direct descendant of Louis XIV’s brother Phillipe Duc d’Orleans).

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In visiting Versailles, I feel that I was able to retrace her steps by physically walking the grounds that she inhabited. From the tight routines and restrictions of the palace to the seclusion in her later days at the Petit Trianon and Queen’s Hamlet. Versailles is full of tourists all year round. Upon entering the main palace, along with hundreds of tourists, I felt what is probably a similar claustrophobia to Marie Antoinette’s whilst at court. Louis XIV had turned Versailles into an open air royal museum, members of the court would observe and participate in the French royal family’s daily routines including the waking up to the preparation of the evening coucher of the king and queen. There would have been little time for Marie Antoinette to spend on her own or with her close friends due to etiquette. My own walk through the palace was led by a populous group of tourists, mostly Asian with expensive cameras and heavy duty lenses. The blinding flash and constant sound of the camera shutters distorted the elaborate Baroque wallpaper and mouldings. Here I was taking part in an age old royal routine.

Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

By the time we’d passed the King’s chambers and the hall of mirrors I felt completely exhausted and lacked inspiration to record my experience (plus the constant flash of cameras had given me a migraine by this point).

Portrait of the Artist (and friend)

Portrait of the Artist (and friend)

Eventually I was pushed along to the queen’s chambers, the last queen to have used the apartments being Marie Antoinette. It was as I had imagined. Across the walls I could see the stylistic evolution and contribution of the queens who had inhabited the space. Having been packed into the room with slightly aggressive tourists, I could imagine the suffocation Marie Antoinette felt when she gave birth to her first child Marie Therese, the queen had fainted soon after. Such an experience must have further encouraged her to step away from court life.

The Queen's Chambers

The Queen’s Chambers

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I wish I had been more patient to really explore the palace but I just didn’t feel like myself whilst I was there. As we slowly moved towards the exit I began to relax. And so a feeling of tranquility took over the anxiety as I walked through the gardens. The labyrinth of green muffled the sounds of visitors and kept them away from sight. Instead I was greeted with Classical Baroque music pumping out from speakers hidden in the bushes. This gave a rather grand effect to the feel of the space though I would much rather have experienced it as it was, without the aid of modern technology (the speakers).

The Gardens

The Gardens

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I can see why Marie Antoinette chose the Petit Trianon as her get away from court life. The little chateau is a 20 minute walk away from the main palace, it is hidden away in a green corner surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Louis VXI gave the chateau to Marie Antoinette on her 19th birthday. It had originally belonged to Louis XV mistress Madame Pompadour and after her death it was given to his final mistress Madame Du Barry. In this way Marie Antoinette appears to have taken the role not of Louis XVI’s consort but of his mistress, they were yet to produce an heir to the throne. The lack of a Dauphin and the decision to seclude herself from court would eventually lead to rumors and the negative perception of the queen of France by the public.

It appears that the Petit Trianon is somewhat unheard of or less popular with the tourists. I was delighted to find peace and tranquility at the chateau Marie Antoinette called her own.

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

My most memorable experience at Versailles would have to be discovering the Temple of Love. This to me was the epitome of Marie Antoinette’s shift to embracing nature through the creation of an English garden and the temple at Versailles. Louis XVI is known to have heavily invested in improving the gardens. The carefully planned out landscape appears to imitate nature. The temple was created by the queen’s architect Richard Mique. An exquisite example of the Neo-Classical style that was slowly replacing Baroque architecture at Versailles.

Temple of Love

Temple of Love

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 Next we made our way to the Hameau de la Reine, Marie Antoinette’s rustic hideaway, a place that she would increasingly spend more time in, especially with her children. Here the queen commissioned rustic buildings in the guise of Norman and Flemish country houses. She would take her friends and family to relax in the gardens, visit the dairy, the mill and even to a little farm with goats, pigs and chickens. This was at a time when Marie Antoinette became interested in the ‘back to nature’ philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, his is also the philosophy that would greatly influence the French revolution.

Hameau de la Reine

Hameau de la Reine

fresh vegetables - tomatoes being grown to this day

fresh vegetables – tomatoes being grown to this day

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Lastly we walked around the grounds of the Grand Trianon, the family’s retreat. Just as the Petit Trianon, this palace was a place in which the king and queen (or mistress) could relax away from court etiquette. Royal guests residing temporarily at the Grand Trianon included the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV, the Duchess de Burgundy, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, her son Philippe d’Orleans, Peter the Great of Russia and Napoleon.

The Grand Trianon

The Grand Trianon

stairs that lead to...

stairs that lead to…

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As I waved goodbye to Versailles, vowing to return again soon, I couldn’t help but feel sad knowing that at one point Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette also waved goodbye to the only home they had ever known. I reflected on the hectic claustrophobia I felt at the main palace and how this was washed away at the peaceful Trianons, as it would have been when the grounds were inhabited by the royal family. The  main palace is worth seeing the first time round though I shall definitely be avoiding it like the plague on my next visit. I would like to see the changing faces of Versailles from  Autumn through to Spring, Summer and Winter.

The palace is easily reached from Paris if you would care to take a visit. I took the Line C from St. Michel in the direction of Versailles-Chateau. You can also take the Line C from Musee d’Orsay, Invalides, Pont de l’Alma and Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel. I would suggest arriving at the palace early in the morning, half an hour prior to opening times as I can guarantee queues will already be forming. If you do arrive later, be prepared for a one hour to one hour and a half waiting time. Once you are in the ticketing building, speed up the ticket purchase time by buying your tickets from one of the machines instead of waiting to be served at the desk.  Free admission for under 25’s and History of Art and Architecture students. Enjoy!

 

My Favorite Paris – Montmartre

My preference for arrondissements has changed over the years. From historical centre 1st, to spreading out slightly to the 2nd, trendy 4th over to Latin Quarter 5th, back to 3rd, pass by 11th, touristic 7th to the canal in the 10th… but the 18th shall always hold a special place in my heart.

Montmartre lies perfectly at the tip of the 18th. Though a popular tourist attraction, the crowds of tourist with flashy cameras can easily be avoided if you know how…

The Sacre Coeur is one of my all time favorite displays of magnificent French architecture. I always pay homage to it on my visits to Paris. It sits peacefully and elegantly on top of the hill. One place I do avoid (at all costs) is the Place de Tetre behind the church, which is heavily populated by tourist and souvenir shops.

Sunny Day at Montmartre

Sunny Day at Montmartre

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Eating out in Montmartre can either be expensive or disappointing if you end up in a tourist trap. One lesson I’ve learnt is never to order a crepe from a place that has a pile of precooked crepes on the side waiting to be filled. The French are famous for their emmental filled crepes though it’s best to look for a place that makes them fresh from the batter on the spot, unfortunately I haven’t yet found a decent creperie in Montmartre. What I have found are fantastic bakers and cheese shops (yes shops that solely sell cheese).

I Heart French Cheese

I Heart French Cheese

Rue des Abbesses and the roads that follow down from it to Pigalle, such as Rue Lepic are my favorites for boulangeries, fromageries, fresh fruit and veg and fresh fish (oyster bar anyone?).

I’ve blogged about it before and I’ll blog about it again. Le Relais Gascon is my favorite restaurant in Paris. I like to convince myself that I’m eating healthy by ordering one of their huge salads. The food is a treat, the wine is decent (and decently priced) and the service is quick, most of all it’s not pretentious and doesn’t try to be “typically French”, it just is. I especially love sitting outside as the view down to Pigalle is great for people watching, even on a rainy day.

"salad" at Le Relais Gascon

“salad” at Le Relais Gascon

I’ve come to realize that the main reason people in Paris dress so well is the availability of inexpensive fashion a la vintage shops. Though not the centre of vintage (which I shall discuss in a later post), Montmartre has it’s fair share of decently priced vintage boutiques (5 Euro boyfriend coats for example…). My friend and I spent well over an hour inside one particular shop that not only sells vintage clothing but shoes, bags, furniture, books… you name it, they sell it.

The shop: Les Billes de la Gamine, the owner: Cecile. Cecile is a connoisseur in all things vintage. She just has to look at you to pick out the perfect item that you will instantly fall in love with. The star buy was my friend’s 30 Euro pair of Doc Martins boots in ivy green. Cecile’s little shop can be found at 66 Rue d’Orsel, at the very tip of Rue des Abbesses.

Vintage Cool at Les Bille de la Gamine

Vintage Cool at Les Bille de la Gamine

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Other great vintage shops that I shall definitely be visiting again include:

Chine Machine

100 Rue des Martyrs

75018, Paris

and Vintage Desir (for those 5 Euro boyfriend coats)

28 Rue Yvonne le Tac

75018, Paris

(sadly they don’t have a website or a Facebook page)

Sunday is flea market day in Montmartre, Rue de Clignancourt boasts stretches of market stalls selling all sorts. I felt absolutely chuffed to have discovered it by chance one day! Nearest Metro stop in Montmartre is Chateau Rouge though it’s a 5 minute walk from the Sacre Coeur. You can also stop at the very tip of the market at Metro stop Porte de Clignancourt where they have the bigger more serious stalls, I believe these are also open on Fridays and Saturdays.

early morning just as the flea market was opening

early morning just as the flea market was opening

Most of all I love Montmartre for it’s slopes and slides, green open spaces and quiet little back streets. The sky always appears bluer in Montmartre, I can only imagine the influence the landscape would have had on the great French Impressionists who populate this area.

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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?