A Shoreditch Sunday.

A Shoreditch Sunday.

It’s been a big weekend. I’ve been running myself ragged trying to finish this book, so just needed a few days of fun to reset my jumbled brain. We started on friday with some beers in the park with Banjo. Well, I started 30 minutes earlier when the village kids had come to hang out and decided that I was a human canvas for their masterpieces.
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A Scone Adventure in Marylebone + barista training at Climpson & Sons.

A Scone Adventure in Marylebone + barista training at Climpson & Sons.

The past few months in London have been lovely, because it has been like a revolving door of friends from Melbourne popping in and out. It’s been ridiculous actually – a lot of my spare time has been spent with friends from back home, whether they have moved here or are just passing through. My friend Namita has been on an epic Europe adventure on her own, and has been in and out of London over the past few months. She is heading back to Australia next week so we decided to go on a scone adventure as our last hurrah.

It was her first English scone, so I of course took her to my go-to when downtown, Gails Artisan Bakery. They toaster-press their scones, and they are moist and buttery, just like home. I have an issue with many British scones, in that they are too dry! But not these.
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The Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds.

Husni and I took a trip to the Cotswolds – a beautiful little area of England with gorgeous little villages and meadows – we had afternoon tea and drove down little farm lanes. I don’t have the words for how pretty it all is – so here are the pictures.
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Broadway Market, a picnic in Victoria Park + Rhubarb Custard Soda.

Broadway Market, a picnic in Victoria Park + Rhubarb Custard Soda.

So, I’ve been busy. I’ve only a short while to enjoy being an East Londoner, so I’ve been cramming my days with cycling, cafes, working on the book, picnics, dancing, drinks, cakes and working at The Deli Downstairs. I absolutely adore working there, with the most wonderful group of people ever.

I’ve been gazing out the back into our little courtyard at the Deli, pausing to look at the sun filter through the leaves onto our little tomato seedlings.

I’ve been cycling the long way home around Victoria Park – amongst the picnics and families and hipsters on rollerblades.

I’ve been riding to Hackney City Farm just to walk through Woodland Way, lush and green and a little slice of British countryside in the urban sprawl.

I’ve been eating cod and chips with curry sauce in the park, swing dancing at the old English pub on the corner, dancing for hours at a Michael Franti gig in Islington, and walking through the little independent galleries in the artist warehouses in Hackney Wick.

Watching Japanese films at Hackney Picturehouse, talking to yogis in community cafes in Hackney Downs, and writing my book in the whitewashed-stone-and-wood interior of Violet Bakery, the famed East London American bakery owned by Chez Panisse Alumni Claire Ptak.

Or riding to Shoreditch and sitting in cafes in Brick Lane, eating Rose, Raspberry and Pistachio cake while writing. Every so often I look up, and see the other tables and sofas filled with the most quintessential Londoners – girls in Lennon glasses and denim skirt overalls. Blondes with Japanese-style bob-cropped hair and oversized suede vintage store jackets. Flop-haired ringleted young men in denim jackets with iron on patches, reading dog-eared paperbacks.

I had a saturday off work – so I decided to get some friends together, head down to the famous Broadway Market (started for and by the Hackney community in the 1890s) to pick up some bits and pieces and head over for a picnic in Victoria Park.

It was amazingly sunny, even though it had been raining all week. Everyone was out and about, and the streets and waterways and parks were packed with people soaking up the sun.
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A day in Oxford + a Hertford college formal dinner.

A day in Oxford + a Hertford college formal dinner.

Last week, my friend Sarah who is studying Linguistics at the University of Oxford asked Namita (who is holidaying in London at the moment) and I to come to Oxford for a day and attend one of the special formal dinners held by each of the Oxford colleges. It was such a rare, special treat – I was so lucky to get to attend. Just a forewarning: this post is very, very long.

So, you will just have to scroll through and see all the beauty of the town. I just took so, so many photos in Oxford because it was all just so stunningly beautiful. I got up really early today as there was a tube strike in London, and only just made my train in time from Paddington station. It was super foggy, and the train sped through the trees and fields, grey and shrouded in the thick fog. But as soon as I arrived in Oxford and stepped off the train – the sun came out. And it stayed out all day. I couldn’t have asked for better weather.

First things first, breakfast. I head to Vaults & Gardens, housed in the Old Congregation House of the University, built in 1320.
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An Easter Sunday morning in Amsterdam.

An Easter Sunday morning in Amsterdam.

I’ve started working at a gorgeous little place in Victoria Park Village. I moved into a lovely flat facing the park, in the middle of my favourite place in London. I love Hackney, it has a wonderful vibe – and Victoria Park Village feels like a little English country town. My first day at work, word got around the village that there was a new girl at the Deli Downstairs, and I started to realise what a tight-knit little community I have chosen to become a part of.

But more on my lovely work and village later. We were closed on Easter Sunday, and quite quiet as many people around the village had gone away for school holidays. I had four days off (as did Husni) so we decided to head over to the Netherlands for a long weekend.
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A drive through Cheddar, Bath, a visit to Stonehenge + a Sunday roast at River Cottage Bristol.

A drive through Cheddar, Bath, a visit to Stonehenge + a Sunday roast at River Cottage Bristol.

I got back from Lincolnshire late yesterday evening, and went straight to the hostel for an early night as Husni was picking me up early this morning to go for a drive out west. We had tossed up over a few locations, Oxford, The Cotswolds – but finally settled on a drive to Cheddar, one of the ‘Great British Drives’, stopping off at Stonehenge on the way.
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The Guinness Lake, the PS I Love You Bridge + a 6th Century Monastery.

The Guinness Lake, the PS I Love You Bridge + a 6th Century Monastery.

Today we decided to be ‘real’ tourists, in the sense that we booked on a tour bus. Not normally our cup of tea, we wanted to see a bit of the Irish countryside and with the prices of everything in Europe, a coach trip was way cheaper than renting a car. So we got up bright and early and jumped on a Wild Wicklow tour bus, taking us through to Glendalough region to see some ‘hidden mountains and barren boglands’.
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Toad in the Hole, a damn fine Brunch + Tea at the Tate.

Toad in the Hole, a damn fine Brunch + Tea at the Tate.

There is a distinct chance that I will not survive to the end of this post. I am sitting here in great misery, after consuming a quantity of British food that shocked three fully grown men. My sense of pride did not allow me to stop, even when I knew that it was time. When a waiter states, ‘I’ll be really surprised if you can finish that,’ I take that as a direct challenge. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind to this morning.
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Scotch eggs, Korean BBQ burritos + Buckingham Palace.

Scotch eggs, Korean BBQ burritos + Buckingham Palace.

Today we were off to the weekly Real Food Market at Southbank.

Self-described as a market/food festival that has an ‘amazing range of great produce and [features] the rising stars of London’s street food scene, each trader has been carefully selected based on their commitment to producing the very best, sustainably and ethically produced food and drink.’

First thing this morning we took the tube down to Southbank and head straight to the market while the vendors were still setting up. The bar on street food here in London is really, really high – so a compilation of the best of the street food the city has to offer was sure to be a feast.

We wandered the stalls twice and picked out very carefully what we were going to eat. The traders use only the best ingredients, with a focus on free-range and organic meats and farm fresh vegetables.
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A day in the French quarter with Muffuletta sandwiches + a Jazz Brunch.

A day in the French quarter with Muffuletta sandwiches + a Jazz Brunch.

Last day in New Orleans, and it is what most of the town considers a recovery day after Mardi Gras.

We were up bright and early however, for a Jazz Brunch at The Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter. After a big meal of pecan pie, grits and grillades, turtle soup, shrimp creole, bananas foster on pancakes, jambalaya and cajun corn salad, we spent the rest of the day wandering the French Quarter, checking out the French Market and picking up some food for the dinner I am cooking for Lee and Anthony tonight, as a thank you for letting us stay.
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