London Travel Guide: Shop, Eat & Wander

London Guide intro
Amsterdam is a beautiful city but I would swap it without hesitation for a life in London. Every time I visit that city, everything has changed. It’s an ever changing rollercoaster, full of life, color and sound. I have now discovered the best way to travel to and from London, is by boat: there is no limit to your luggage’s weight and you arrive early while feeling fresh and rested after a good night sleep. I book an apartment through University Rooms (I have yet to find a great AirBnb address) as I love going to farmer’s markets and buy fresh food to cook at least once a day. All you need to take with you is a mini London A-Z (it’s vital, forget the map in your travel guide, it will never be comprehensive enough), your camera and a biiiiig bag to hoard all the inspiration you can take with you.
I have been wanting to write a travel guide since I arrived there with my one-way ticket, many many years ago. But how can you try to capture a running city? Nothing ever stays the same. Not entirely. Even after a few months I felt my notes were already outdated. The only option left is to blog about it, re-writing a guide after every trip.London ShopsThere is a reason why I prefer to pack light when traveling towards London: its shops and markets are a treasure chest of marvel.

  • Brixton Village is an arcade, a maze of covered passageways full of quirky shops and vibrant restaurants from all over the world. It’s culinary heaven. Before getting there, you will find Brixton Station Road Market, a community market run by local traders. The fruit and vegetables in Brixton are some of the best I have ever tasted (and super cheap). Ah, the papaya’s…
  •  Chatsworth Road market in Hackney – every first Sunday of the month. I carry my bag from Bramble & Mr Twigg everywhere.
  • Capital Car Boot in Pimlico: hello, my dear Mulberry shirt and Chloe dress for under 20 pounds…
  • Favourite streets: Lamb’s Conduit Street is a street in Bloomsbury in the West End of London. There are many independent traders along the street. The People’s Supermarket food cooperative is always a highlight to me: not only the cooperative part of it but tha fact that it has a kitchen and sells freshly cooked food. All the ingredients come from the range sold in the store, from items that have reached their sell-by date or are past their best. Everything I have ever tried was delicious and low priced.
  • Broadway market, with or without the market
  • Charlotte street hides one of my favourite breakfast spots, Lantana, but also a nice array of shops.
  • For upmarket inspiration: The Shop at BlueBird in Chelsea.
  • You will find them everywhere, charity shops. This is where the rich and famous (I have seen clothes donated by Victoria Beckham and SHIRLEY BASSEEEEEY!!!) give away their clothes, most of which are still perfectly wearable. Make sure to be there early in the morning as you are not the only one preying on them.

London Food
London is the capital of food lovers. The scene is ever changing and you will find the best chefs of the world within walking distance: some in renowned restaurants, others in amazing street stalls.

  • For a daytime treat in a very hidden place, Rochelle Canteen by Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson. You enter via a buzzer on a tiny door in the wall of an old Victorian school on Arnold Circus.
  • The Modern Pantry, Ottolenghi (I love the table toasters with their chord hanging from the ceiling, but my granola was the real star of my visit) AND Lantana for breakfast
  • La Fromagerie for more granola
  • The Espresso Room for coffee
  • Exmouth Market around lunchtime. Eat your catch of the day from the street stalls on the green of Spa Fields Park
  • Granary Square (King’s Cross) is home to KERB every Tuesday-Friday lunchtimes. Street food galore. Are you in for more? Head to Street Feast
  • Green Valley‘s Lebanese icecream or sweets, plus the harems that occasionally step out from their Rolls Royce.
  • Tea at the Orangerie ( it’s touristy and queues are long but it’s really lovely) or the Dorchester (I bumped into Mick Jagger on my way out, iiiih!). I have been told that the one they serve at the Modern Pantry is to die for…
  • Coffee and croissant at the Wolseley

Wander around London
Yes, the city is crazy, noisy and incredibly busy but buy a bus pass and wear good shoes, and you will discover so many green spaces, amazing architecture or quirky details, wonderful museums and street art, hidden street markets, beautiful stories. It’s an incredible soup of inspiration. A few of my favourites:

  • In no particular order: The National Gallery (do take part in a tour and limit yourself to five paintings), Fashion and textile museum, Design museum (so far I have seen super inspiring exhibitions about Paul Smith, Christian Louboutin, Designs of the year…), the Enlightment room in the British Museum which is like a miniature museum about culture, nature, science and art in one room
  • It’s the perfect place to relax, Somerset House, whether it’s an exposition about the Rudeboy culture or time to put your iceskates on. The terrace overlooking the Thames is extremely nice.
  • What would family life have looked like for a family of Huguenot silk weavers around 1724 – 1914? Go and visit the Dennis Severs’ House to find out
  • Chelsea’s Glebe Place is just off King’s Road. On number 50 you will find Ornate House, the work of architect John Lowe. An eccentric and slightly scary Victorian building with ivy-covered walls.
  • Besides the river Thames, London also has a lot of smaller canals all across the city. I equally enjoy Little Venice and the towpath between Hoxton and Hackney.
  • Read a book at the Barbican Lake Terrace. Find the perfect book at Skoob, the secondhand book temple at Brunswick centre
  • Walk along the Thames. I usually start at Embankment and end at the Tate Modern.
  • Bikes are a relatively new phenomena in London. I have seen the situation improve during the past few years. I find it very inspiring to see how people overcome small problems, like pear shaped lamp posts…
  • Take a course, most museums (FTM, V&A) have one-day workshops and if you look around you will find so much. The teacher’s are usually heroes you have been following for years on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. Or what about a Guardian Masterclass? I have learned how to screenprint at the Print Club Studio and how to ‘cup’ a coffee at the London School of Coffee.

If you love shoes, you will love this

fearless feet festI do not enjoy buying sweaters. Or tops. I even hated buying trousers so much, I stopped wearing them altogether. But oh, boy, I really do enjoy buying shoes. I even have a shoe ritual: whenever I buy a beautiful new pair (ie something I do not actually need but rather enjoy as much as someone else might enjoy an original work of art or a postcard), I put them in my vintage shop counter for a few weeks so I can admire them in their perfect, unworn state. Every now and then, I take them out and look at how they have been constructed and skillfully put together. I am definitely a shoe person.

Although shoes are a lovely thing, that is not what this post is about at all. No, this post is about having beautiful feet to go in them. Continue reading If you love shoes, you will love this

modepopje #7: Mrs Pomeranz

modepopje #7The thing I love about the internet (one of many things) is that it builds bridges. It connects people who otherwise would have probably never heard of each other. It also connects creators with an audience they would have probably never reached. Mrs.Pomeranz is a sewing studio based in Moscow. Dasha Pomeranz, Masha Kopieva, Tatiana Tokareva and Marina Vasilieva are the talented seamstresses who create beautiful dresses and skirts based on a classical 50’s silhouette.

Oh, and the dresses… the dresses…

Karenina dress by Mrs. Pomeranz :: Angela woven sandals by Chie Mihara

modepopje #6: Kate Spade

It all started back in 1993, when kate brosnahan spade, a former accessories editor at mademoiselle, set out to design the perfect handbag. debuting with just six silhouettes. She combined sleek, utilitarian shapes and colorful palettes in an entirely new way: and so kate spade new york was born.

If you like crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication, then you will fall in love with Kate Spade too. I own a lovely watch with a mirror on the inside (super useful when applying lipstick or checking make-up) and the happy phrase ‘live colourfully’. All my dresses have something happy and playful written on their label. Most of her bags have a sopisticated exterior with a polka dot lining. Have I made myself clear? Kate Spade is fun fashion. It’s waking up in the morning and wearing a dress in which you will not only conquer the world but conquer it with a smile.

Bow Tie Marylin dress by Kate Spade :: shoes by Kate Spade but pick’n choose your favourite ones :: envelope clutch inspired by Lee Coren :: white sunglasses by Jil Sander

After-dinner coconut bombs recipe

Food is one of the nicest things of life. It’s something which fuels my curiosity, it’s what makes my travels worth while and also one of the main topics when I talk. As a child I used to devour my mum’s cookbooks and food magazines. As a student I owned just as many books about literature as I owned books about food. Since the last few years Ottolenghi has become my hero. Not just because of the richness of flavours, colours and wonderful combinations of vegetables which he is a master of. No. A very important reason why his cookbooks are always on the kitchen cupboard when I cook, is that he uses the food and spices that I already own and love.
I think it is very important to find inspiration that is similar to your style. That is also why I love food blogs. It’s so much easier to find someone somewhere who loves the food you love. My favourite blogs are David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl’s Green Kitchen Stories and Josephine Malene Kofod’s A Tasty Love Story.
I haven’t changed much to the original recipe. To me coconut is already very sweet, so I have omitted the coconut flower sugar but go ahead if you like it sweet. It’s a super easy and tasty ‘dessert’, I must have made it fifty times, especially when time was short. Use your imagination when creating your rainbow bombs or just whatever you have in your cupboard, as long as you have your coconut butter, you will be fine.
Coconut is very good for you, It’s packed with magnesium, selenium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and vitamin C and E. This makes it a great friend for your skin, it helps fight infection and a lot of other good things. The fiber and fat content helps stabilise your blood sugar, which makes it a perfect after-dinner sweet. Plus it is lactose free so perfect for those with lactose intolerance. And that is just the coconut… just add fruit and nuts, and you will be eating a sweet that is also sweet to your body.



PS Now rush to Josefine’s blog. It’s filled with an incredible amount of delicious recipes which are very easy too.

Star your day with a smile, eat granola

Granola intro image When you live in a big city, you start doing things which your friends who do not live in a big city, might regard as odd. In London my weekends were filled with farmer’s markets and swimming: I started my day at 6am with an hour swimming after which I rewarded myself with a big bowl of granola from La Fromagerie. Upon leaving the city, I begged them for their recipe, and upon this day, although I have tweaked it a lot since, I still make a big batch of granola two times a week. My boyfriend starts all his days with it, it’s so healthy and filling that it keeps him from snacking until 1pm.
Mmm_post2As I make so much granola, I usually buy my ingredients from a miller; you can also get good quality nuts at a reasonable price from one of those lovely Arab supermarkets where they are sold per weight. Mmm_post3It doesn’t matter which sweetener you use but do experiment with it, as it changes the taste of your granola. Family and friends usually prefer the maple syrup granola so I tend to use that. The only thing you need to keep in mind is the ration between your grain of choice, oil and sweetener. Other than that, you can go as crazy as you want.Mmm_post4

Tear proof make-up

rainy day
It’s inevitable. We all cry sometimes. Especially the crying we do when losing someone we love, can affect our daily routine a lot. I am not an advocate of painting yourself a mask of happiness but there are a few things you can do if you really have to literally face others.

1 Apply a tinted moisturizer to even out your skin and get rid of some of the redness (Laura Mercier) 2 dab on a few drops of a liquid blusher, in my experience it doesn’t show ‘streams’ of tears which is good plus it takes 5 seconds to apply and no fuss (Benefit) 3 Extremely important: use a smudge-free mascara. You can remove this with warm water but it will never leave black marks on your skin, it simply dissolves in small black crumbs which are almost invisible after a good cry (Estée Lauder) 4 Lipstick needs too much care and maintenance so I would always opt for a gloss. This one smells good, looks natural and stays on for a long time after which it simply dissolves little by little (MAC)

What to do with a carrot?

CarrotsYes, you can prepare it in many splendid ways, like Green Kitchen Stories’ baked carrot cake oatmeal, Aida Mollenkamp’s delicious carrot hummus or a simple carrot juice with some grated ginger. It’s supposed to work wonders on your skin too, just type in ‘face mask carrot’ on youtube and you will get hits like this. But did you know a carrot’s magic does not end there? If you live in a city you never stop wondering at the little glimpse’s of nature strength: this is what happens if you put a carrot’s discarded top in some water.Carrot plant from top | Mimimou
Isn’t it wonderful? It’s like a lesson in never giving up.

Summer sleigh bells

summer sleigh fun

Monday and Thursday evenings are fun, in Amsterdam. Everyone puts out the garbage and with it many unwanted objects. Think antique cupboards, vintage chairs and wooden toys. It’s fun, really fun. Especially if you are like me and can think of a million things you could do with, let’s say, a simple wooden box. My interior is filled with repurposed items, although I usually use them for something else than their original purpose. A few days ago, I was doing my evening walk with Jan and suddenly I saw a huge traditional wooden sleigh between the garbage bags. It was still intact, the wood, the metal underneath its runners… how could someone throw it away? I was sure it was once a child’s most treasured possession. Probably someone’s grandpa. Yes, at that moment I even knew how that child was called (Maarten, if you want to know), as that is how my imagination works. I hugged the sleigh and decided it would come home with me.

SLEE_ZANDJan’s upside down mouth and unamused stare were telling another story. No, the sleigh was NOT coming home with me. But it was coming with me to somewhere, maybe a friend was just looking for a sleigh?

It was a hot evening so probably none of my friends would greet this idea with enthusiasm. The sleigh was extremely heavy. The wood was of good old-fashioned quality which means it weighted as much as a small person. Jan didn’t even want to touch it and I started to panick. On the one hand, I felt so sorry for the poor sleigh and on the other hand, I was almost collapsing under its weight. To make things worse, a drunken and very dirty beggar started following me, screaming ‘Let me see that! Is that a sleigh? I want to sit on it. Give it to me!’
Just when I thought ‘I am going to leave this here and run’, the ideal new home for my old sleigh appeared out of nowhere: a very large sandpit in a nice and leafy playground near my home.
It has been a week and every day I see small children having the time of their life moving the sleigh around, sitting on it, building things on top of it. You are never too old to start a new life.
slee_amsterdam_SPEELTUINSource: here