london shopping guide

10 cool things to do in London like a local

December 15, 2015

Weekend in London, things to do, things to seeSteve and I have been travelled back and forth between London and France for a few months now while Mila is at school in France but it felt really good to be all back at the same time in our home in London.
Catching up with friends, brunch, playdate, sleepover, pub, shopping, museum, we did it all and here are 10 things you can do in London like a local in one weekend (with kids!).

1/Have diner at the pub
As you may know, we (French) take young children to restaurants kids, which is not very common in England, but as a result, she has learnt from a very young age to behave in a restaurant or public place.
As a foodie, I think there is no better feeling than hanging out with our friends and their children in a warm pub in Winter, having a roast when it’s cold outside.
Friday night, we went to The Duke of Sussex in Chiswick (10 min bus ride, great food & customer service!) but there are a few other nice gastro pubs in West London, all walking distance from our home: The Havelock (great outdoor space from Spring), the Princess Victoria on Uxbridge road (superb features inside) or the Anglesea Arms (maybe a bit pricey but the food is good) near Ravenscourt Park.

2/ Have breakfast in a café
One of my me-time guilty pleasure at weekends when we are not making pancakes or pikelets, is having breakfast in a café, eating Egg Benedict, sipping Earl Grey and catching up on all the weekend newspapers.
The Brackenbury wine rooms opens at 7.30am and has kids menu for £3. I also love cycling to High Road House in Chiswick or Granger and Co in Notting Hill.

3/Take the children to see a movie
We often go to the cinema on Saturday or Sunday morning. If you go to the Kids AM cinema, it’s only £1.99 per child and adult. 10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local10 things to do in London in one weekend like a local4/Head to a Farmers market
London has some fantastic Farmers markets to get fresh, organic veggies from the Farmers’ allotment. The Brook Green Market is small but family-friendly and has always wine tastings or cooking classes on. If you get up early, I highly recommend Marylebone’s Farmers marketBorough market (a visual feast!) and Columbia Road Flower market.

4/Go for a walk
There are so many beautiful parks in London besides the obvious Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Near our home, Brook Green and Ravenscourt Park are very good for children. The latter is especially good for running too and there is also a lovely café in the Garden Centre. I also love a good walk/run along Hammersmith river to escape the noises from the city.

5/ Take photomaton pictures
Each time I travel to Paris with Mila, we try to get our photos taken chez Bonton to build happy memories. In London, you can get photomaton pictures at Urban Outfitters in Westfields (8 min walk from home).

6/ Shop in Westfields
If it’s your first time in London, you will likely want to go to Oxford street, Carnaby street in the centre of town, which are insanely busy. After nineteen years in London, I’d rather go to Westfields (where Net-a-Porter head offices are) to shop from MajeTopshop, Ugg Australia, L.K. Bennett, Ted Baker, The Kooples and have sushis.

7/ Pamper yourself
Malika is the place I head to, when I want a manicure and get my eyebrows done. It’s in Westfields too so very convenient and while I think threading is flipping painful, the girls know what they are doing and will do your eyebrows in 8 min (bookings often required at weekends).

8/ See an exhibition or a museum
Over the weekend, I was trying to explain to my daughter how important it was to make an effort to go to museums and see various exhibitions so that they would fuel her creativity and open her mind.
London is great for this and has many amazing museums with free entrance like the British Museum, Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery to name a few and there is always some great exhibitions on. This time, we went to see the Charles and Ray Eames exhibition at The Barbican which we loved and then walked through the city to Liverpool street to pop in Anthropologie.

9/Spend the afternoon in Bricklane
Make sure you give yourself enough time to hang out around Spitafields market and Bricklane. The place is really vibrant, creative and there is a lot of nice, little shops to discover and street food to try. When it comes to a great example of various cultures living/thriving together, I can’t think of  a better example than Bricklane.

10/ Have a pizza in Story Deli
One of my favourite places in London (which may close as the owners have the opportunity to run a gastro pub in Buckinghamshire), Story Deli is my little haven of inspiration and the pizzas are really nice (see previous post).

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Inspiring London cafes to escape from the office….

January 26, 2010

I have been spending the last four days in Paris, working, shopping (more of this later) and talking with my two best friends (kind of the best part) about being mothers, being entrepreneur/managing a team of 35 people or 3 children under 8, being women. You can imagine how long our conversations were but amongst other things, here is one thing I’m going to do this year……

One day a month, I will just spend the day in a nice and inspiring cafe
to watch the world goes by and think.
One day a month, I will treat myself to some ‘business me-time’ to reflect,
imagine and envision where and how I want to take our company forward.
One day a month, I will give myself the time to think and plan
without being interrupted by emails, phone calls, or queries from the team.

So here are some of my favourite, inspiring places to be one day a month….

Story Deli in Bricklane (read more here)

Petersham Nurseries in Richmond (read more here)
Petersham Nurseries Café Church Lane, off Petersham Road, Petersham, Surrey, tel: 020 8940 5230.

Monmouth Coffee house in Borough Market, 2 Park Street London SE1 9AB

Chez Kristoff Deli, 111 Hammersmith Grove, London, W6 ONQ

The Covent Garden hotel, 10 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9HB

If you know any nice, inspiring places in London, please let me know…I would love to check them out!

Petersham Nurseries

May 11, 2009

My friend Charlotte and I have been talking about going to go to Petersham Nurseries for ages and we waited for so long that she now lives in New-York (hello C) but last Saturday, Steve, Mila and I went there and I can’t tell you how excited I was, to finally discovering this amazing and beautiful place….

I had read about it in various magazines and Di mentioned it last year but for those who never heard of it, Petersham Nurseries is a garden center located in Richmond, off Petersham Road but it is not your average garden center.
For a start, it has an Award-Winning cafe at the bottom of the garden where you can eat home-made cakes anywhere sitting in this beautiful garden (see Mila BCC & ACC: before chocolate cake and after). Everything is sourced from local farmers and even the labels of the ginger ale beer and limonade bottles are nicely designed…The cafe/tea house is located at the end of the garden in a nicely renovated ‘shed’ (they call it shed but I wouldn’t mind living in a shed like this…)

There is also a wonderful restaurant headed by Chef Skye Gyngell (a regular food columnist for The Independent) and a shop selling a blend of French vintage accessories and garden furniture, glassware, garden accessories, kitchen books, Buddhas and other Asian wooden statues…a mix that sounds odd in writing but works wonderfully together there.

It has a very unique and inspiring old-fashioned look which is very relaxing. Notice boards are made of wood painted with blackboard paint, table tops are made of zinc….
One I noticed coming back from New-Zealand and our long weekend in our French house is how much visual pollution there is in the city (ok not exactly ground-breaking news). Wherever you drive, you get massive advertising billboards in your face and if you go to a supermarket, there is a whole area dedicated to glossy magazines with A to Z VIP people on each cover which frankly you don’t care about. On the contrary, when you go to a supermarket in the English or French countryside, it’s mostly about food or wine.

The place is just magic, inspiring and beautiful….

Creating something like this on the outskirt of London is pretty amazing in itself but the boho style, the atmosphere, the beauty of the place are very unique and would probably take a million years for anyone to achieve.
Below is the entrance and like French markets or Borough market in London, the plants are beautifully displayed together on vintage apple crates.

I’m a big fan of these vintage crates, I have a couple in Mila’s bedroom that I used as a shelf to display some of her toys. You can buy them from Petersham Nurseries for £20 each or get some on wheels to store toys and children books from Baileys Home and Garden.

It’s very tempting to buy lots of plants from garden centers. Everything look so beautiful, healthy, green…and alive!

Personally, whatever I take home tend to die a few weeks so I stick to my weekly bunch of flowers and sometimes when I feel like the hostess with the mostess, grow some herbs like coriander, chives and basil (see the useful Normann Herb stand here).

However we’ve recently came back from New-Zealand where we had a very relaxing time in the countryside, eating fresh vegetables from the garden and Mila’s Pa taking her to water the vege and fed the cows so we’re on a ‘let’s be close as close to nature as we can be’ trip. So this time, Steve got some strawberry, tomatoes and beans plants to grow on our roof terrace and Steve & Mila are in charge…

Once last thing I would say if you wish to go to Petersham Nurseries, please go there cycling, walking or by public transports. The place has been victim of its own success and the amount of traffic around Petersham at weekends has made locals very annoyed which means that now Petersham Nurseries is under threat and may be forced to close down (read here) unless they develop a plan to reduce the amount of people travelling by cars.

(c) Picture credits: Bolig magazine, Petersham Nurseries and me