LondonLove: Keats House, Hampstead Heath

On Friday morning I was heading to one of the loveliest bits of London – Hampstead Heath – for a tour of the hospital there (job interview tomorrow, eek!)

Due to the fear of being late, I ended up there far too early so decided to mooch around and stare at all the beautiful houses like the little match girl, practically smushing my face up to the glass panes. Seriously, I forgot places like this exist! Not that Old Kent Road doesn’t have it’s own joys but, you know…

In my wanderings, I came across this lovely building with a gorgeous tranquil garden. It’s only the bloody house of John Keats! This is what I love about London. Potter around for a while and something like this will just pop up.

keats house

Have you been? It’s very beautiful and there are lots of cool events that happen throughout the year (I’m tempted by the writing course). And it’s only a fiver for a ticket that lasts A YEAR. Or you could just take your lunch and a coffee into the lovely garden and chill for free.

xx

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Paisley nails for a 70s get together

I’m off to Wales this weekend as it’s Al’s parents ruby wedding and to mark this awesome achievement they are having a festival-esque party for the weekend.

It’s going to be so fun, and as there is a vague 70s theme going on, I decided to embrace it with paisley print nails. What do you think?

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First I painted the base white colour (Barry M) and then I drew the design with a hot pink Nail Art pen (they are available at Topshop)

My top tip is to draw the big teardrop first then do the inner teardrop and the scalloped edges after. I think it’s a summery look and I’ll def do it again in different colourways

Whatever you’re doing, have a great weekend

Queen of the Night Bus xxx

Time for tea: Brumus at the Haymarket Hotel

This Sunday was one of the nicest Sundays in a while. My girls went for a gorgeous afternoon tea baby shower at Brumus at the Haymarket Hotel in the West End to celebrate the coming (soon!) of a new lovely baby. The tea set is Wedgewood Wild Strawberry bone china (I looked underneath the cup) and I would seriously consider getting married simply to get this.

brumus - teaset

The setting is beautiful and the service is wonderful. Between the six of us we had three traditional teas and three specials to mix it up. This is the traditional one with scones, finger sandwiches and little eclairs.

brumus - traditional

This tier was overflowing with salmon blinis, blueberry cheesecake and chocolate coated strawberries and marshmallows. So good.

Brumus - special

Sometimes I think this country is insane but then I remember that we have afternoon tea, freedom and Clare Balding and all is well with the world again.

Queen of the Night Bus xx

Shit Hot Hot Dogs

Sweet Bejesus, I love me a hot dog. If you do too, head down to The Miller near London Bridge ASAP. Seriously. GET. YOUR. COAT.

We had dinner there the other night because Street Kitchen are in residence and whipping up lush hot dogs, like the Boston Hound we had. Beetroot, crackling, pork belly, pickled gherkin…all topping a lush hot dog. We shared a tub of chunky chips with rosemary salt. HEAVEN.

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And for other great hotdogs, get yourself to the most awesome dude of street food Big Apple Hot Dogs who has a cart near Old Street roundabout (near the fire station). For me, it’s all about The Big Frank – but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Queen of the Night Bus xx

Happy July 4th!

You don’t have to be American to celebrate Independence Day. Which is good because I’m holding a July 4th picnic this evening near Tower Bridge. There will be a blues band playing at the Scoop too.  However this is nothing compared to my parents, the lucky devils, who have THE prime spot for firework viewing in New York City and will get to see the amazing display from the barges in the Hudson. So jel.

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But back to me and my more low-key celebrations. Here is the Star Spangled Banner Cake I made today, using Mary Berry’s sponge recipe topped with whipped cream, cherries and blueberries.

July 4th -cake

Al has made amazing Buffalo wings with very authentic tasting blue cheese sauce – sooooo good.  And of course, there has to be pulled pork and bread buns. I used the Simon Rimmer version, I love him.

I also have a ton of red, white and blue plates, cups and napkins which I stocked up on at Poundland last night (so classy).

Have a very happy July 4th people! From sea to shining sea!

Queen of the Night Bus xxxx

LondonLove: Frank’s Cafe, Peckham

I think we can all agree on this – there is always time for some rooftop drinking. If you’re in sarf laandaan, get yourself to Frank’s Cafe in Peckham. Perched on top of the multi-storey car park, it has awesome panoramic views of the city skyline.

Franks - views

There are also art installations from Bold Tendencies – including this glittery number.

Franks - me

There is a wide range of yummy Greenwich Meantime ales and I had a lush cider to wash down a pot of olives and the most tasty barbecued plantain with super hot pepper sauce.

Franks

This is just the first visit of many this summer for us. If nothing else, I need more BBQ plantain!

Queen of the Night Bus xxxx

LondonLove: Climbing The Monument

This summer me and Al have decided to do lots of “London things” that we haven’t done – the kind of thing every Italian student on an exchange trip has seen in London but the average resident walks past daily.

Today we did one of those things, and climbed all the way to the top of the Monument. It was so cool but hard bloody work. 311 steps of hard work!

Monument stairs

Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London fact fans, and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City of London. The pillar with its distinctive copper top (bit like me, har har) is built near where the fire began. Fantastic fact people – the pillar is 61 metres high, which is the exact distance between the pillar and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began.

Monument st pauls

When you get up top, your hard work is rewarded with brilliant views of the city. St Pauls, Battersea Power Station, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament. It’s all here. And guess what – it is only £3 (!!!) to go to the top (and only a bargainous £2 if you are a student!!)

Monument us

As we left the lovely man gave us both a certificate to prove we had climbed to the top of the Monument.

Monument certs

Whether you’re a tourist or a long-time resident, the Monument is so worth a visit. Plus, you’re not to far from one of my favourite streets (and old stomping ground) Fleet Street where a pint at the Tipperary, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese or the Crown and Sugarloaf is pretty necessary after 311 steps.

Queen of the Night Bus xxxx

My kind of Mussel Man

Friday night is set to be fun – there’s a dinner on the cards at cute Hackney cafe/restaurant Brew For Two as the Mussel Men are popping up there

The Mussel Men are a street food company that are taking up residency this weekend. As well as thumb wars being on offer (yes, really) you get 1kg of mussels, skinny chips, a bottle of prosecco and a pud to share for £40 for two people. Not bad eh?

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If you’re more in the mood for a night in, why not make your own classic moules mariniere? It’s pretty cheap, way tasty and really quick if you buy them ready cleaned. Above is one I made earlier.

    You’ll be needing…

A big pan, a big glass of white wine, fresh chopped parsley, a blob of butter, a clove of garlic all chopped up, half a finely chopped onion and a kilo of mussels

Pop the butter, onion and garlic in the pan on a medium heat and as soon as they start to cook, add the wine and mussels.

Cook until the mussels have opened. Give them a minute in the pan off the heat before serving into bowls and sprinkling the parsley over. Consume with more wine, crusty bread and the hotty of your choice

and boom dinner for two is done.

A little trip to…Biarritz, France

A lot has been going on in Night Bus towers at the mo, with a ton of work but an awful lot of playing out too. One of the fun things and something I have to tell you all about is our recent little jolly to Biarritz in the south of France. You may remember me saying how I needed sunshine, wine and rest. Well…

biarritz surfers

We got two of the three, which as Meatloaf says, ain’t bad. In fact, the weather was so grim when we arrived that the pilot had to do two attempts at landing the plane! It was kinda terrifying and I’m a pretty sturdy girl when I comes to stuff like that. Anyway, the weather did improve a bit as time went by.

biarritz coast

Biarritz is a great little city (and it is little) for a mini break, and you can fly there regularly from London. Everything is in walking distance, the people are so kind and welcoming (even when your French is appalling) and the food is fantastic.

Here is Al with some of the gorgeous Basque tapas we shared as a starter in Bar Jean, a great little spot in our adopted neighbourhood. The Basque region covers both France and Spain and you basically get the best of both national cuisines.

Bar Jean

And of course, being right on the Atlantic means a ton of amazing seafood. Here is Al again with our platter of oysters we had at La Cabane A Huitres. Wowsa to both food and Basque wine. And the staff here are so cool and friendly – this part of town has a really great, youthful vibe. GO VISIT.

biarritz oysters

As it was rainy, we saw some seafood outside of the plate context at the super fun Musee de la Mer aquarium. Maybe some people would see that as more “school trip” than “romantic break” but hey! We like to learn stuff on holiday! Plus, the jellyfish are hauntingly pretty.

jellyfish

We stayed in an Air BnB studio (“Biarritz in the Basque Country”) which was lovely and bright with everything two people need for a mini break. I got quite attached to my little seat next to the Juliette balcony which was over the most delicious smelling bakery.

Me biarritz

Our last night was pretty spectacular. We climbed a little fence to sit on our own little rocky bit of the coast line and watch the sunset. A great end to a great break, and one I’d totally recommend for a few days outside of London.

Biarritz sunset

All photographs from my Instagram feed @rachaelgormley

Books for little people – and an exciting event

It’s a very special little person’s birthday this weekend – she is three – and me and Al have got her this adorable book.

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It is beautifully illustrated. We picked it up in this gorgeous little independent bookstore that is worth a gander if you’re in St Ives (you lucky devil).

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When I was little, I loved nothing more than getting books as gifts. A family friend gave me Roald Dahl’s Matilda when I was about six or seven and I read it cover to cover several times. It really opened up independent reading to me in a big way. Back in Wigan there was a mobile library which I could have lived in, with all its Babysitter Club books and Sweet Valley Highs and Famous Fives.

What books did you love as a child? If you’re looking for a great children’s bookstore in London, I can highly recommend the lovely specialist children’s bookstore Tales On Moon Lane in Herne Hill, southeast London. AND OMG JUDITH KERR –  AKA THE AUTHOR OF “THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA” – IS GOING TO BE THERE ON JULY 4TH!!

Maybe I’ll see you there. I’ll be the ginger 27-year old pushing little ones out of the way.

The Mousehole Mice by Michelle Cartlidge is also on Amazon (and probably the websites of some companies that pay a fair amount of tax too)