When Friends Visit

I have a love-hate relationship with having friends come visit London. I love pretty much everything about it: reuniting my friends, showing them my favorite places in London, traveling, etc. But it really stresses me out. I think it’s all part of the wanting everyone to be having a good time always thing. Working from home, I can be around my friends, but can’t really go and do anything with them, so I kind of have to send them off on their own during the day and then meet up with them in the evening.

We also have a very, very small flat. This means that air mattress is a way to go, and I must say…it isn’t a comfy air mattress.

However, despite all of this, I am always inviting friends to come stay. We’ve developed a bit of a routine for when friends/family visit that guarantees they see more than just the touristy stuff. As I mentioned, I ship my friends off into London during the day with decent directions on how to get places and my personal recommendations. Then, when everyone is free, we go for the following:

  • Fish & Chips – We used to pick up fish and chips from Moxie’s in Clapham South and bring it home to our friends. Now that we’ve moved, our go to is Kerbisher & Malt on Abbeville Road. Craft beers + delicious fish (& scampi!) + an overload of chips = heaven on earth.IMG_0001.JPG

 

  • Our Local Pub – Sunday roast, Wednesday burger night, any day drinks – it’s the perfect opportunity to show our friends a *real* London pub.  

 

  • A Swanky Bar – There are so many that I want to try! Rooftops, sky high bars, pop ups. I usually drag my friends to something I’ve never even been to, but sometimes I go for a repeat.  

 

  • Cook at Home – Save money. Eat in pajamas. Show off our new cooking skills. Drink wine. Play Cards Against Humanity. Everyone wins on the nights when we just can’t be bothered to do anything.IMG_5193

 

  • Afternoon Tea – If we have a free weekend day, this is probably my favorite thing to do with visiting friends. It’s extremely British and so good for a girls day out!IMG_4001.JPG

 

  • Ticketed Event – There is ALWAYS something going on in London. From Cocktail Week (Marisa’s visit) to pop up experiences to musicals and plays, there are endless things to do that provide a great London experience without all of the tourist queues.IMG_0020

 

  • Weekend Away – I try to travel with every friend who visits. After all, they’re coming all the way across the ocean, so it’s worth seeing more than just London! This started when Sara visited last year after I first moved here and we went to Nice. Then, Marisa visited and we hit Marseille. We choose a cheap and relatively quick place so we can make the most of it and just go!IMG_1568

This list has changed a bit, but after Sara’s (second) visit this past week, I think this is the best of the combinations. It’s nice to have a little routine that we can tailor to each friend who visits. Next I need to figure out the perfect three day itinerary for sending my friends off to explore London on their own.

Who wants to be my next visitor?

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Hanging On to the Holidays

Sean and I have done a terrible job calling it quits on the holiday season. It seems that, since Christmas, we’ve just continued to celebrate…well, Christmas. It’s been absolutely exhausting, but also a great way to savor my last week in London.

On Boxing Day, I met my dad for a quick walk through Winter Wonderland (and mulled wine and churros, obviously) before he came back to my house for a home cooked meal. We settled on ham, but had no idea how to cook it. So, with the help of BBC Food and a bit of experimenting, Sean and I produced a fully cooked honey baked ham. I made some potatoes and carrots to go with it. I was so nervous because it was my dad’s first time at our house, as well as my first time really cooking a meal for him – but he loved it! Actually, we all did. I’m not sure how the ham was so successful, but we all devoured it and Sean and I have devoured the leftovers since. I cannot wait to make the second half!

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We decided on a lazy day the following day, choosing not to leave the house at all. My dad and I had originally planned a trip to Cambridge for the day, but we weren’t feeling the weather. Sean and I stayed in our pajamas, my dad chilled out at his apartment, and we met up in the evening for fish and chips at our local favorite.

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[I’m so proud of this breakfast I created – hashbrowns, leftover ham, cheese, and fried egg…I couldn’t get enough!]

Monday was my dad’s last day in town, so we met up with him to do some shopping and wandering. While we spent some time in Covent Garden, we ultimately ended up at the pub…surprise! Then, we walked over to Somerset House because Sean and I had an ice skating date. My dad said goodbye and left us there while we worked up the courage to skate. Oh – it was a blast! I used to have ice skating birthday parties every year, but I hadn’t been in so long so I was nervous. Somerset House was absolutely gorgeous all lit up and once Sean and I got the hang of it we had so much fun. We didn’t even fall the entire time! We followed it up with wine and fondue in Fortnum’s Lodge – Β I’m already planning our next ice skating adventure.

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[Our ice skating was booked for 4:15, which is right around sunset, so we had the opportunity to see Somerset House in all shades of light – from it’s charm in daylight to it’s beauty under the lights they have setup at night]

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The Christmas celebrations wrapped up on Tuesday, when we went up to celebrate with Sean’s family at his sister’s house. We had a lovely lunch followed by great conversation and a couple of rounds of Uno. It was nice to get back to a real at-home family setting and has made me quite excited to get back to mine in Virginia next week!

Now we are gearing up for the New Year with plenty of rest and a major house clean. I’m down to my last four days in London before a pop over to the states, so trying to make every moment count!

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[One of my oldest friends, Caroline, is in town, so we met up with her on Carnaby Street after ice skating. I’m absolutely loving the Carnaby Street Christmas lights – and their New Years Eve feel makes it the perfect place for post-Christmas lights browsing]

Crazy Golf at Waterloo

I absolutely love miniature golf. Or, as the English put it, crazy golf. It reminds me of Myrtle Beach Thanksgivings with the family and summers with friends at the Shore. We had a blast with mini golf, trying to find the shortcuts and always fighting for the lowest score.

So, when I found out that there was a crazy golf pop up opening in London, I knew I had to go. Lucy mentioned it for a girls weekday night out and I jumped at the opportunity – to Birdies we went.

Birdies is located by Waterloo station in the vaults. It has a very underground, edgy feel. You walk into a warehouse looking room, which has been converted into a bar with the crazy golf to the side. It was all in the same room, so you could see everyone playing mini golf in the sectioned off area and it had a great atmosphere.

We had such a blast playing the tricky, “crazy” holes. I don’t mean to brag, but I won! And to top it off, there were delicious hotdogs and some ice cream at the end. I’m now on a mission to find all the other crazy golf places in the area (Sean and I have played once before where I also won, so I guess I’m a pro).

   
    
    
   

Shakespeare & Stuff

Last night was one of the nicest summer nights I have had in London – Greek food, Shakespeare, and good weather!
Sean and I went to see Much Ado About Nothing with his parents at the Globe Theatre. I walked there from work because I have recently discovered my love for walking around London. Honestly, I don’t know why I tried to avoid walking previously because I’ve come to realize that there is so much of London I don’t get to see. Incredible architecture, quirky shops and restaurants, stunning views. I am trying to take advantage of the rest of the summer and walk everywhere I can in order to discover these hidden gems before its cold and rainy and dreadful outside. 

 [A little snippet of my walk across Blackfriars Bridge. Not the prettiest part of London, but a welcome change nonetheless]

Anyway, before the play we went for dinner at The Real Greek. It’s got nothing on Santorini, but I absolutely love Greek food and I hadn’t had it in so long (since Greektown, Chitown). Sean and I shared a few (delicious) small plates including watermelon & feta salad (yummy) and halloumi & vegetable skewers (yummier). 

The play itself was incredible. I thought I would be cold by the end of the evening due to the whole outdoors thing, but thanks to the Globe blocking the wind, the air inside was the perfect still temperature. We were in the front row to the side and, while my view of one area on the stage was blocked, it was still a great spot to be. Being behind the props, we could see a lot of the comedic stuff going on (characters hiding, sly glances, etc.). Also, we rented cushions to relieve our bums from the stress of the wooden seats, so I was comfy the whole time! 

 [So many people crammed into such a small space – a great atmosphere to be a part of] 
 [That pole. THE pole. Is there a person behind it? Is this mid play? Who knows.]

I had read the play before, but it had been awhile and it was so refreshing to experience the comedy firsthand. I was laughing so much and, when I got tired (it was the end of a long work day,) the humor picked me back up again. That was my first time seeing a show at the Globe – I’ve only been to the Sam Wanamaker theatre for Duchess of Malfi – and I would love to go back. I’m thinking the Christmas shows will be freezing but wonderful! 

 [Oh yeah and London isn’t so bad at sunset] 

Foodies Festival

On Sunday, a couple of my flatmates and I had a day that was 100% dedicated to food. The “Foodies Festival” was on at Clapham Common (our neighborhood Central Park) which was essentially a festival of food vendors, street food stands, and other promotional stands, some not even related to food. 

  [Hungry Hippos]
I tried to have my Instagram cap on throughout the day and snap a ton of cool pictures, but I did not entirely succeed. However, I did try to get some photos of the random food I ate and cute little promotional signs – sorry, I’m attracted to the most random things. 

I ended the afternoon at the pub with macarons, and ended the day in bed at 7pm so in my book it was an extremely successful day and I couldn’t be happier! Currently dreaming of more food festivals in the near future, but will at least be paying a visit to Borough Market soon enough!

   
    
[I was so excited about this lemonade cocktail stand…and my pink lemonade gin fizz!]     [This is one of our neighborhood pubs – I’m absolutely obsessed with the beer garden which has these little seating areas that make me want to snuggle with a drink in front of the fire]