Mar 3, 2012

West End Cuppas. Parks and Palaces. The Burough Markets.

Try as I might, I'm just not meant to be hip.

I might push stylistic boundaries  by using my in room bar as a jewellery stand (photo as promised, Willow & Lotus) and a fruit bowl.

Poncho - Missoni, jeans - J Brand, boots - Bally, skivvy - Target, necklace - Red Phoenix Emporium FF Orange, bag - Mulberry.
I might even be able to reference the Big Names for a few hours to look like a local in Soho.

McBreakfast, London Style.

But what I really want, I just can't seem to get in my hotel room.  A cup of hot water, some milk and a bog standard tea bag.  Which is how I found myself down the road from the W at Maccas for my first British breakfast.  Oh the serenity at that first sip of PG Tips.  The tea here is much stronger than Australia, hence the sugar sachets that accompanied my cup.  I also had a cup of oat porridge for 99p.  Don't wince, the strawberry jam in the porridge really works.

How many Maccas have you been to with a view like this from their front window?

The Trocadero
Porridge is the kind of breakfast that sticks to your ribs.  There was no stopping me and I must have walked for around 12 hours straight yesterday.  I have no idea how many posts it will take to tell my tale.  And it's only day 1.

My first stop was St James's Park.  I love visiting parks in big cities.  There is such a stillness on entering them.  The traffic and noise across the road somehow muffled by the trees.  Not to mention the cleansing air hitting your lungs with each breath.

Dotted around London right now are 'eggs' created by artists for a Faberge egg hunt for Easter.  I thought this creation was perfectly positioned in the park.  The fog may have ruined my photos but it made the air so fresh.

I am also planning to visit Princess Diana's Memorial in Hyde Park but there is also this walk through St James's Park.

Unfortunately, there was no official Changing of the Guard scheduled for the morning I visited Buckingham Palace.

But I was an audience of one to witness the Stretching of the Legs of the Guard.

I couldn't get tickets to the Royal Mews so had to content myself with a brisk walk around the perimeter.

During which I discovered that the Royal Family have their own Fire Service.

The sunlight in Europe is so soft and lends an almost painterly cast to everything it shines upon.  It's quite a feeling strolling down a street and looking up to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament ahead of you.

Whilst on your way to Westminster Abbey.

No photos were allowed inside.  Which made the visit more spiritual for me.  Jeremy Irons narrates the English audio tour.  He talked me through major parts of British history in that burr of his.  My favourite area of the abbey was the Poet's Corner and seeing the memorials to so many icons of English Literature.I was lucky enough to be in the Abbey for the hourly call to prayer and also to be able to offer a prayer and a lit candle at the altar.

I told you I got around.  I then took my first tube ride and didn't get lost.  My destination was the Burough Market for brunch.

I knew I was in the right spot the moment I saw the paella being cooked outside.

This is one of the entrances to the market and down to the left of this tunnel is an Italian place that makes lovely coffee.

The Borough Market. also called 'London's Larder' had been around since the 13th century.  It's divided into different areas, as the cow map above illustrates.  When I wasn't accepting samples of muesli and baked goods, I was snapping away at all the lovely and surprisingly well priced produce.

Salted caramel.
This granola company also makes some amazing cornflakes.  Pitty about customs in Australia or I would have stocked up...
The fruit and vegetables were so beautiful and fresh.  Local chefs turned out every so often, Jamie Oliver style for inspiration for the day's menu.

I got myself a bowl of clementines, another food Jamie Oliver has inspired me to try.  They are like mandarins, very juicy.  I also scoffed down a punnet of the most delicious blueberries I've eaten in my life.

Can you believe the size of these meringues?  There were 2 pyramids this size at one stall.

Cheese lovers, rejoice.  There were too many stalls to choose from. 
The stalls were all so beautifully presented and creatively named.

You could even grow your own micro herbs.
A cured meat stall, complete with stall holder wearing a striped apron.
The markets are open air and not cluttered with too many stalls in each area.  It was so pleasant to browse.  This appeared to be purely a food market.

Fig cake.

You know me and almond croissants.  I should have tried a muffin too.

Cooking with beer.  Something we've learned from the mother country...

The colour and sheer abundance of fantastic produce.  How can you not leave here with a happy stomach?
Brunch time rolled around and decisions had to be made.

A Pieminister pie or...


It was raclette for me.  I don't think I'll ever have a chance to eat this in Australia and I'm unlikely to be in Switzerland anytime soon.

Okay, I know melted cheese and potatoes sounds like it's junk food but there was such care taken at this stall to select the right cheese and organic potatoes.

The cheese is melted in special stoves before the melted top bits are scraped over roasted baby potatoes and fresh pickled gherkins.

Oh.  My.  It's been ages since I've done a melted cheese and potato meal.  I certainly picked the right place to revisit cheese and carbs.  The pickles tartness highlighted the quality of the cheese and well, roasted potatoes with sea salt - we're old friends.

I sat to eat my raclette under this cherry blossom tree outside Southwark Cathedral.  Meals that stick to your ribs are just the ticket for long days of walking and exploring.

That's around a third of my photos gone through.  Stay tuned for the next instalment....


  1. Love these photos! You're doing and seeing so much in London!

  2. Ah Borough Market - one of my favourite spots! Who says the English don't know what good food is?

  3. So many lovely photos - seems like you're having a great time and really made me want to visit London again:)

  4. Something GorgeousMarch 4, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    I could feel my feet aching! So much in one day> I may be there at the end of the year visiting my boys who have been living in London for 8 months now. You have got me excited. x

  5. I want to go back to London! I promise you, a week won't be enough!

  6. This posts is making we want to go be to London...maybe 2013 will be my year. And oh boy, those markets looks fantastic. I'll be visiting them FOR SURE (are they on every day)?

  7. That egg is beautiful!! What a gorgeous idea.

    I have no words for the market... except I want to be there... Right now.

    Love the mini bar jewellery display. 

    It looks like you're having an absolute ball.


  8. Red Phoenix StyleMarch 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Love your product styling SSG, our necklaces look very happy to be staying in such a hip establishment! Looks like you are having an amazing time, I am sooo enjoying reliving my time in London through your adventures. I loved the Burrough markets and the all the parks. Keep up the wonderful international postings!

    Lotus & Willow

  9. love, love, *love* London, there is no other place like it. i love how you could stroll down the busy parts naked and no one would bat an eyelid, it's an oasis in a busy busy place, where weird is normal and normal is fine too!

    so glad to hear that you didn't get lost on the toob! it's such a great transport network and i miss using it :-)



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