As I type this I am propped up on my stomach in a hotel bed in L.A. nibbling on peanut butter trail mix which is as unhealthy as it sounds (I forgot to read the ingredients list) and sipping on fruit infused water from the lobby. It 2 pm. I’ve been awake since 4 am because jetlag is a thing, and because I slept for 13 hours when I arrived due to a concatenation of travel events.
It’s been 36 hours since I left London. The city that mothers me back together when all the pieces of life-puzzle have fallen apart. I spent last week wandering through my favourite nooks and streets feeling excessively nostalgic as I counted down the days until I leave. There was a part of me dramatically saying goodbye to all the magic little places that I love as if it knew something the rest of me doesn’t. I have full intentions to return next summer, but maybe my intuition is preparing me for an entirely different future… It felt like I’m leaving someone I love for a very long time.
Who knows what might happen — all I can do is trust and surrender to my hidden path. To celebrate my love for London I want to share a list of my favourite places and tips for living and thriving in London.
Hampstead Heath — This place is at the top of my list and literally where I spent every free moment of my time. I love, love, love London but am actually too sensitive for city-living. In the Heath, you can walk for 20 minutes and feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside. In the height of summer, I swam and sunbathed in the ladies bathing pond almost every day. It has an ice-cold spring with fresh water running directly into it so despite the murky water is the cleanest of all the ponds. On days that I felt overwhelmed and confused, I’d find the densest part of the woods, find a tree, lean in and wrap my arms around it while I cried and whispered all the worries to it. The number of times some kind tree eased my mind is countless. And every Saturday I would saunter across the Heath to my favourite farmers market on Parliament Hill to stock up on organic fruit, vegetables, eggs and occasionally some lamb burgers.
Golders Hill Park Refreshment House — A gorgeous glass-house style cafe right next to the Butterfly House, that I spent hours in, tapping away at my laptop working and sipping on tea. It was close to my house and the best place to catch some sun, even as the months turned colder.
Columbia Road Flower Market — Nothing makes me happier than getting there around 2pm when the prices drop and the crowds dwindle and the stall holders yell out in their East-London accents “2 bunches for a fiver!!! The loveliest bunch of roses you ever did see… 2 bunches for a fiver” and then look at me and say things look “oooohhh jolly, where’s ya fella, I bet he wants to buy ya some roses”. I always grin at them with joy and take it all in like a sponge. Besides all that, there are great antique stores, excellent coffee and obviously one of the best places to meet and take home new plant babies.
Palm Vaults — The most millennial-cliche Instagram-worth cafe with delicious, healthy food and amazing drinks that make you want to order everything on the menu. It’s in Hackney (of course) the most hipster part of London.
Primrose Hill — Another park, because what is life without nature, and also a really cute village where the photos above were taken. When I was there just a couple of weeks ago to meet a friend, I saw the cutest fluffy dog I have ever seen (no I don’t know the breed, I’m not that kind of girl). I asked the owner — a young man waiting outside a shop — if I could stroke him, and cooed and loved all over that puppy as if my life depended on it. When I discovered his name, I almost died: Moon Cake. Moon Cake! I’ve never heard a more perfect name. Anyway, Primrose Hill is very beautiful and it has super-cute dogs (and men) too.
Camden Wholefoods — Basically the only other place I shopped at beside the markets above, and the local Coop near my house. I do my best to buy ethically and locally and support places that are aligned with my beliefs and values.
Being a self-employed and location independent means that often my office is in a cafe. I’d often meet clients and have meetings at these places: near Old Street (central London), I love Look Mum No Hands and The Book Club. In Maida Vale (west London) The Elgin and Quince Tree Cafe were my favourites and Jusu Brothers near Notting Hill became highly sought after mainly because of their great menu of fresh juices and smoothie bowls.
The College of Psychic Studies — Is a magical little place where you can get sound healing, psychic readings or just explore their library for free and discover all things occult and mystical. The older I get the more convinced I am that I am a natural pagan: I worship nature; the sun, moon and stars; believe that everything has a spirit and is alive and interacting with me, and pray to the gods (manifest) all the time. This place makes me a little closer to the intellectual understanding of all that.
Lounge Bohemia — I rarely drink but this place is worth getting a cocktail at for the fascinating narrative and story each cocktail comes with. It’s like falling into a magical wonderland of imagination with each drink that comes with a performance from your server which is both entertaining and fascinating.
I feel the trick with London is knowing why you are there, allowing her just enough space to show you her unique flavour of ancient magic, while also having sufficient boundaries to say no and cocoon yourself when you need to. London will always give you what you need, and then send you on your way when she has given it to you. It’s not always a comfortable journey, but it is always a necessary one. London is the only city that I love with my whole heart. I hope you get to love her as much as I do.
Around here, we do things a little differently...
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