Becoming a north Londoner

At the end of August, I moved from east to north London. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’d lived in east London ever since I was a little bookworm. I’d always felt quite strongly that east London was place the be, so it was strange to leave the hipsters and rich young families behind, and transport all my belongings to leafy north London. I’d been quite unhappy at home this year and so I made the decision to move in with a friend in West Hampstead – and I love it! I’ve made my room my own and spent the past six weeks exploring. I’m surrounded by bookshops, coffee shops, and gorgeous houses, as well as Hampstead Village and Hampstead Heath. I’m still so excited to be close to London transport and lots of beautiful and fabulous places. At my old flat, I spent a lot of hours in my room and so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t love my new one as much, especially as it’s a little smaller, but it’s even better! I moved one of my bookcases and desk into my room, and my other bookcase is in the living room, helping to make the flat feel more like home. My housemate works in the book industry, too, and so was perfectly happy to have more books around the flat! As much as I adored my old flat – it was my first rented home in London – I didn’t think much of the area (it wasn’t as trendy as Hackney, which is where I grew up) but thankfully I adore West Hampstead. It’s very me, especially in autumn. I’ve loved spending the past few weekends blogging in the coffee shops, visiting the Freud Museum and stunning National Trust properties, and wandering around Hampstead Heath. I love central London – eating out in Soho and visiting Foyles Charing Cross and Waterstones Piccadilly – but I also love spending time in my local area, taking advantage of everything it has to offer and supporting the local businesses. And there’s lots more exploring to be done! I’ve previously visited Highgate and Highgate Cemetery, Archway and Crouch End – and I’m quite familiar with Islington. I also discovered that I’m less than half an hour from Kew Gardens (albeit, in south London), one of my favourite places; I hope to go to Christmas at Kew this year. Like the start of a new school term, my new life began in September, and I hope to have lots of fun as a north Londoner for the next year… at least!
If you have any recommendations for places to visit in north London, I’d love to hear about them! On the list is Alexandra Palace… 

2018 Goals

I don’t particularly enjoy making New Year’s Resolutions. I hate the way it makes me feel if I don’t accomplish them, but this year I’ve set a few goals that are super achievable and will make me feel great at the end of the year.

My TBR

    • Read 52 books and save £1 for every book read

Like most booklovers, I’m doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge, as I’ve done every year since 2011. Back then, I read 100 books but these days I aim to read 52, one per week. But it’s less about the number for me and more about the joy of seeing all the books I’ve read over the year (it also aids my terrible memory!). I saw people tweet about Aoife’s idea to save £1 for every book read, so I’m going to pop a coin into my ‘What happens in book club, stays in book club’ mug for every book I finish.

    • Visit two new countries

I’ve travelled a little over the past couple of years (and I hope to blog more about my travels, both around the UK and abroad) and this year I’d love to visit at least two new countries: Hungary, the Czech Republic, USA, Norway, Australia… or somewhere else!

    • Visit 10 new places in London

I’ve lived in London most of my life but there’s still so much left to explore. Whether a new museum, borough, coffee shop or park, I want to visit at least 10 new places in London this year. I really enjoyed doing this last year, from visiting Highgate Cemetery for the first time to discovering amazing new brunch places to go to with friends.

Stockholm, Sweden

    • Acquire fewer material things and reduce the amount of stuff I own

This is something I tried to do in 2017 and would love to continue this year. Last year, I decided that I wanted to spend my money on experiences, rather than on stuff. This includes buying fewer but higher quality clothes, frequent book-culling, frequent spring cleaning, buying new toiletries only when others are empty, and being aware of eco-friendly packaging.

    • Go to exercise classes every week and complete Couch to 5k

At the end of 2017, I joined the gym for a 6-week trial and really enjoyed how motivated it made me feel. I plan to renew my membership once my awful chest and throat infection disappears. I loved doing Body Combat (a mix of yoga, tai-chi and pilates) classes and I was also training for Couch to 5k until I suffered from ankle pain. Once I get myself proper running shoes, back onto the treadmill I go!

    • Make lunch and buy fewer lunches/hot drinks

I’m guilty of spending a lot of money on food. It’s probably my biggest expense after rent. I love eating out, but I know that it’s not necessary to buy lunch and a hot drink every day, so I’d like to limit those to once per week. Even so, I’ve swapped to a KeepCup to be more environmentally friendly, which does make it tricky (I get 25-50p off each drink when I use it!). It’ll also encourage me to get back into cooking and being organised with my food shop.

Berlin, Germany

    • Learn to crochet

I bought a little crochet set a while ago, but fear of failure is stopping me from giving it a shot. I’ve been told that crochet is super easy, so I need to just give it a go and make that damn bunny.

    • Take driving lessons and pass the theory test

As a lifelong Londoner, I can’t drive because I’ve never needed to. But a chat with a friend recently spurred me on to try. I’d love to acquire a new skill in 2018 and learning to drive is a big one. I passed my theory test nearly 10 years ago now, so it’s back to square one, but if I pass my driving test this year it’ll be a huge accomplishment. I love the idea of the independence that being able to drive gives someone.

    • Learn to be kinder to myself

And finally, it’s an important one. 2016-17 were tough years for me, in different ways, and I didn’t help much by not being kind to myself. I’m not perfect, but I don’t deserve some of the things that happened, and I need to stop being so hard on myself. If I’m kinder to myself, I’ll have more confidence and energy to do what makes me happy… learning, new experiences, exploring, spending time with friends, and making new ones.

Are any of these your 2018 goals?

Hello, Kew

I visited Kew Gardens for the first time in 2013, just as summer was leaving. I was blown away by its beautiful grounds and I have wanted to go back ever since, especially when it was more autumnal. So, once it hit mid-October, I bought a ticket to one of my favourite places in London.

Autumn is also my favourite season. It’s normally a time of happiness and excitement at the prospect of all the fun things to do (and eat and drink…). Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great one for me this time, but I’m glad I got to go back and experience this beautiful retreat once again. 2016 has not been a forgiving year. With one thing after another – both globally and personally – it’s been tough. But wandering slowly through the botanical garden’s glorious fiery trees, colourful flowers and secret pathways gave me a chance to focus on myself and forget about everything else, even if just for a few hours.

Hello, KewHello, Kew Continue Reading

A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen

A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen
I visited Book and Kitchen on the same day I went to Portobello Market and Holland Park last July. Why it has taken me over 15 months to write about Book and Kitchen, I couldn’t really tell you, except I did accidentally delete 100+ photos I took inside the bookshop shortly after visiting (because I thought I had them backed up. I hadn’t). Luckily, I did save the best ones below! I can’t be sure that the bookshop still looks exactly the same, so you’ll just have to visit yourself and find out!

booksandkitchen16
I first came across Book and Kitchen on This Is Your Kingdom, a lovely blog all about the wonderful things you can do in the UK, often little-known. It sounded like the perfect bookshop for me so I made sure it was next on my tour of London’s bookshops.

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Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Books Are My Bag
ran from 9-11th October and is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops and the importance of buying books on the high street. I celebrated by buying books from two bookshops: Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Covent Garden (last year I visited Foyles). I really do love indies – and I do support them – but I wanted to visit two bookshops that were easy for me to get to, and I knew would have the books I wanted, as it’s a busy, busy month in publishing.

I like that Gower Street and Covent Garden are both quite large bookshops. I always enjoy this quote from The Great Gatsby because I believe it to be true: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” I do enjoy tiny bookshops – their charm, passionate booksellers and curated stock – but I actually never feel that comfortable in them. I prefer large stores that I can get lost in and browse without feeling watched.

I originally wanted to visit a Big Bookshop Party on Saturday, but unfortunately two friends (non-readers!) rescheduled our pancake-eating date and I couldn’t bring myself to travel after such a busy week, but I did manage to buy some really wonderful books on Thursday and Friday that I cannot wait to get stuck into. Here’s what I bought for Books Are My Bag:

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

I bought Chris Riddell’s stunning Goth Girl last year, and although I haven’t read it yet, I though I’d treat myself to the sequel: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death. It sounds like it may feature a bake-off so I couldn’t really ask for more. (And it still has a mini book in the back!). I attended a seminar on children’s classics earlier this year and Kate Saunders was on the panel. She spoke a little about her book Five Children on the Western Front because it’s a sequel to E. Nesbit’s classic Five Children and It. As I adore wartime children’s novels, I cannot wait to get started. I’m happy that the sequel to The 5th Wave The Infinite Seahas finally been published, and as it’s one of my favourite YA science fiction novels, I hope the sequel is just as good. And lastly, I bought the science fiction-horror thriller that everyone’s been talking about, The Girl with All the Gifts.

Books Are My Bag Reading Survival Kit
And here’s the books the lovely people over at Books Are My Bag sent me part of the Reading Survival Kit (I didn’t notice that all the authors’ names began with ‘J’ until now!):

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

I was super excited to read The Bookshop Book! Jen Campbell’s official Books Are My Bag book looks at “three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents” and it sounds absolutely wonderful. Five Quarters of the Orange (recipe books, memories of war and a mysterious lady) and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (an exploration of religion and sexuality) are two books I’d heard of but didn’t know too much about. All the Truth That’s in Me – about a young girl whose tongue has been cut out and so she cannot speak about the horror she has seen – is a YA novel that I actually already have a copy of, so I passed it onto a friend to enjoy.

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