The best places to see the Cherry blossoms in London

Seeing all the beautiful pictures of the sakura season in Tokyo and Kyoto, one could forget that London is another fantastic city to enjoy the Cherry blossom season.

Cherry blossoms in Notting Hill

I have been a Londoner for more than seven years now and I can honestly say that the city is the prettiest in the Spring and the Autumn. London may be nicknamed The Big Smoke but is a surprisingly green city with countless tree-lined streets and many big parks. I have never lived more than a 5-minute walk away from a green space here and with so many trees the change of season is spectacular!

Cherry blossom in the UK is a little later than in Japan. Peak cherry blossoms hit us between the middle of April and the middle of May. I am writing this post in the middle of April and at the moment most trees have not blossomed yet. So this article is perfectly timed so you can plan your Spring London adventures for the next few weeks!

Notting Hill

This is an obvious one but it is worthed mentioning because Notting Hill is truly spectacular in the Spring. I used to live very close by, and even then I would only hang out in Notting Hill in Spring. The rest of the time it feels a bit too crowded with tourists for my liking, but in the Spring the cherry trees thrive and create the most beautiful scenery against the white and coloured houses of West London.

Casual tube ride 🌸👀🌸 #flowers #tube #tfl #flowermarket

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Holland Park

Just south of Notting Hill you will find Holland Park. Less famous than Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, Holland Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. It has a magical Japanese garden which makes it an even more special place to appreciate the Cherry blossom season.

🌸🌸🌸 #spring #london #wanderlust

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Little Venice and Regent’s Canal

This is one of my best-kept secrets which I only share with our visitors on their 4th or 5th time in London, so consider yourself very special! I absolutely love walking along Regent’s Canal – starting in Paddington, heading north through Little Venice, Regent’s Park and Camden and ending in King’s Cross. It will help you reach you 10,000 steps a day easily and you will see the loveliest corners of London in the process!

British Sakura 🌸🇬🇧🌸 #london #sakura #wanderlust

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Regent’s Park

Similar to Notting Hill, this is a bit of an obvious one, but nothing beats a walk in Regent’s Park. Feed the ducks, smell the roses, grab a 99 flake and enjoy the sunny day!

🍦🌺👍 #99 #spring #bankholiday #icecream #instagood

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Greenwich Park

Most of the places I mentioned above are in West London, but if like me and many other Londoners you are based either East or South of the river, Greenwich Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. Not only does it have one of the best views of the city, it also is home to the fantastic National Maritime Museum AND if you explore the area behind the Observatory, you will find the most beautiful alleyway of cherry trees!

Greenwich Sunday walk #greenwichpark #sundays #wanderlust

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Go explore those places and for a split second you may even forget that you are in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world!

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El Pastor – London

Another day and another London eatery to share with you!

Now, who doesn’t like tacos? Pretty much no one! And if you are not a Mexican food fan but are still looking for a nice place to eat in London I recommend you check out this link where hopefully you will find something you like better! For the others, today I am taking to El Pastor a little taqueria lost in the back streets of Borough Market.

El Pastor London

It had made some noise the past few months with a fair amount of decent reviews so I thought I would check it out! I headed there on Tuesday using the excuse of a girlfriend catch-up and Tacos-Tuesday (I lived in the US for a while, can you tell?) to try El Pastor.

El Pastor London

Similar to Padella, the queue can be the killer here. Do not expect to get a table straight away. Add your name to the list, go grab a drink at Flat Iron Square and wait for the text announcing that you are finally allowed to eat.

Once sat, we both ordered a Pacifico beer, which for two people who never drink beer, tasted appropriately beery and fresh.

El Pastor London

We decided to give the mains the lead role and skipped both starters and desserts. It is also good to note that the staff was great at managing my food allergy to avocado (one terrible human tragedy I know) with all the guacamole flying around.

Kitchen at El Pastor London

There are 2 tacos per portion which is perfect for sharing. We order a good variety of mains and there were some disappointments but also some great surprises!

***Warning the pictures that follow are a bit graining but the place is fairly dark and my camera on its last stretch! ***

We ordered the Al Pastor, the signature tacos with marinated pork, caramelised pineapple and guacamole. I had to have it without the guacamole which made it a little dry. The meat serving was generous and tasty but the pineapple piece was too much on the small side. Good but not mind-blowing.

Al pastor pork tacos El Pastor London

We then had the mushroom tacos, which were… DE-LI-CIOUS! I am making the effort of trying more of the vegetarian options at restaurants and this one did not disappoint. The mushrooms were juicy but not watery, the cheese was tasty but not overpowering. A real and very pleasant surprise!

Mushroom tacos El Pastor London

We liked it so much that we ordered another portion of these!

We tried the Choripapa tacos, a mix of chorizo and potato served with salsa verde. It was tasty and the potato felt surprisingly present to the palate against the spiciness of the chorizo.

Choripapa tacos with chorizo and potatoes El Pastor London

Finally, we shared the Gringa quesadilla. The pork quantity was very generous but it could have done with more cheese and been a bit bigger. One quesadilla is just enough for 2 people to share.

Gringa pork quesadilla El Pastor London

All mains are between £6 and £8 so you can eat for around £30 with a drink which is not too excessive in London.

So if you are looking for gastro-gourmet tacos on a Tuesday evening, head to London Bridge and add your name to the list. ¡Buen provecho

El Pastor London

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Mercato Metropolitano – London

One of my favourite food markets in London is Mercato Metropolitano, and this is a big statement knowing how many street food places there are in London!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

Mercato Metropolitano is hidden in an old warehouse of Elephant & Castle and just a stone’s throw away from the famous Ministry of Sound. From the outside, it may look deceivingly small, but don’t get fooled by the narrow entrance. Once inside you will be surprised by the scale of this place!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

There are three main areas in Mercato Metropolitano, the warehouse where most of the food stalls are. Prezzemolo & Vitale, the Italian deli, a big store full of delicious fresh products which you can either take home or consume on site (including the wine!). And there is the outdoor garden area, a great place to hang out in the summer evenings with a glass (or jug!) of Pimms.

Mercato Metropolitano LondonMercato Metropolitano Italian deliMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

My routine is as follow when I go there. And yes, I do have a routine because I am massively a regular- I just love this place so much!

Mercato Metropolitano London

First stop is the Italian Deli where we will buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in the market. The staff is amazing and will happily make you taste different options before you buy a bottle. I even converted one of my friends to red wine in this shop!

Mercato Metropolitano Italian deli

The second step is to browse all the different food options before selecting your lunch or dinner. I highly recommend the meat platter from the Argentine Grill, the pulled pork burger at Prairie Fire BBQ, the charcuterie and cheese plate from Champagne & Fromage and the gelatos at Gelateria Badiani.

Mercato Metropolitano gelatoMercato Metropolitano London BBQMercato Metropolitano pulled pork burger

Finally, grab a table inside during the winter or on a rainy day (Mercato Metropolitano is opened all year round!) or outside on warmer and sunnier days.

Mercato Metropolitano foodMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

End your visit by checking out all the cool street art going on in the venue and grabbing some Italian treats at the deli to take home. Get some houseplants at RootLabs or go watch a movie at the Backyard Cinema.

Mercato Metropolitano London street artMercato Metropolitano RootLabs bus

So make sure to pay a visit to Mercato Metropolitano, and if you have visitors in town bring them with you! They will be blown away by the place and they will find something they like no matter what!

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The Brockley Deli – London

I have recently taken the leap to leave my job and to give the freelancer life a go. That means that every day I am at home. I am quite a homebody anyway and like my own company, so most days I am happy! Sometimes though, I need to get outside and change the scenery to stimulate my creativity. I have therefore made it my mission to try all my local coffee shops while working – you can call it multitasking!

I mentioned the Good Hope Cafes before, and this week we are heading to the west part of Lewisham in Brockley where you will find the eponymous Brockley Deli.

The Brockley Deli

Part delicatessen, part coffee shop, Brockley Deli is a bright spacious place where your creative juices will be flowing while your stomach enjoys a nice pastry and a coffee.

The Brockley Deli toasted croissant

It is also good to note that the WiFi is very reliable, which, if you are in the same situation than me, is a detail but an important one!

The shop section offers fine foods and wines, and you can order tasty freshly-made sandwiches and nibbles at the counter. The Brockley Deli also works with local suppliers as much as possible and all their beers are from local breweries.

The Brockley Deli counter

My order of choice there is an almond milk latte with a delicious blueberry muffin.

The Brockley Deli coffee and blueberry muffin

With a novel author on the left and two digital nomads on the right, you won’t feel lonely! The Brockley Deli is a great place to settle for half a day as a freelancer. They are open from 8am to 7pm most days, so you can even make it a full working day if you fancy! You can even reward hours of hard work with one of their cocktails, because why not?

The Brockley Deli

They say you should work hard and play hard, well I do it the foodie way!

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Flat Iron Square – London

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes looking for free wifi and clean toilets can lead to great things. It was the case for me recently while looking for a decent spot to work from, around London Bridge, before a dinner with my friends at Padella.

The Shard London

I was walking down the streets hoping to find a warm place with good coffee which was not a chain. I eventually saw a warehouse-like door opened with people coming and going and some music playing. I had time to lose so I thought I would check it out. One of the best decision I have made within the past 10 days (my life is not that exciting). This is how I discovered Flat Iron Square.

Flat Iron Square

Nested under some of the London Bridge train tracks, Flat Iron Square is an indoor/outdoor food market. It opened in 2016 so it is still fairly new and not too crowded. Part of me considered not sharing this address with you so it would remain fairly low key, but sharing is caring and I couldn’t let you miss out on this place!

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is part of London’s Low Line project aiming to open South London railway arches to local businesses.

Flat Iron Square

The first time I visited I took a sit indoor and grabbed a coffee and one delicious cinnamon roll at Burnt Lemon Bakery. Their sandwiches also looked amazing and I would definitely go back there for some flavoursome bread and tasty pastries!

Flat Iron Square

I actually liked Flat Iron Square so much that I went back with my friends Hemma and Camille for a drink (alcohol is on the pricey side there) and Andrew for a Sunday lunch.

Lupins in Flat Iron Square

The day we went with Andrew was absolutely freezing so we both opted for a warming ramen from Tatami Ramen. The ramen was decent, not as good as the ones served in Japan, but it did the job of keeping us warm and full.

Ramen in Flat Iron SquareEating ramen at Flat Iron Square

Be warned Flat Iron Square, I will be back! My plan is to try all the eateries under the arches, and by the time I am done maybe London will be warmer and maybe we will be able to sit outside.

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Padella – London

Just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge you will find Padella. Weirdly, I had never heard of this place before. I say weirdly because when we got there the queue was wrapped all around the building and the next table for 3 was available an hour and forty-five minutes later. So clearly Padella is a popular place!

After a nice girly catch-up and a few drinks at a close by venue, we finally took a seat around the bar with a prime view into the kitchen, where all the magic happens.

Padella kitchen London

And it is not any magic happening at Padella – it is delicious Italian-pasta-magic!

Being a girly catch-up dinner, we all ordered wine of course and we decided to share two starters – the burrata and the salame. Both were delicious and between three people the perfect amount of food to save our appetite for the pasta!

Burrata and salame Padella London

The burrata was creamy and filling and the salame had the flavour of real well-made charcuterie (for a few bites I felt like I was back in France).

A special mention to the staff, one of my friends doesn’t like parmesan ( I know, weird, but we are still friends). The staff went above and beyond to make sure she enjoyed her main and that there would be minimal traces of parmesan on her plate (rather challenging in an Italian restaurant).

We all went for a different dish but all tried each others’ so I can comment on all! It is also good to note that Padella is very affordable. A meal without drinks will only set you back a tenner!

Padella London menu

Hemma went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli. These were excellent and so creamy!

Spinach and ricotta ravioliPadella London

Camille went for Padella signature dish Pici cacio & pepe, a very satisfying and simple cheesy plate of pasta! Comfort food at its best!

Pici cacio & pepe Padella London

I went for something a little different, the tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers. I felt adventurous and wanted to try something new. It was really good, neither too fishy nor too sour. All the flavours were subtle yet noticeable and it wasn’t too spicy either!

Tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers Padella London

So is Padella worth staying in the queue for? Absolutely! And while you are waiting, make sure to go explore and have a drink at Flat Iron Square, another nice discovery I made that same day (I can smell another blog post)!

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Good Hope Cafés – London

Can you imagine being able to eat breakfast and drink a warm cup of coffee for a good cause? Sounds a little too good and easy to be true? Well, not in Lewisham!

If you head to south-east London and are in need of a bite to eat or a warm beverage, make sure to swing by a Good Hope Cafés!

There are three cafés: one in Hither Green, one in Ladywell Fields and one on Lewisham High Street. My favourite is the Hither Green one simply because it is a bit cosier than the others. The three places support the same cause though!

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

The cafés were created following the passing of Jimmy Mizen, a young schoolboy who was attacked in 2008. Rather than revenge, his parents decided to focus on compassion and to invest in the local community to make it safer for young people. In 2009, they founded the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, now known as For Jimmy. The charity is working to involve the young local people so they feel part of any decisions affecting their lives. They are encouraged to change positively the communities they live in.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

“I want you to take hope and encouragement from all that we do. Please don’t feel sorry for us, but take strength and determination to work for change. It starts with each one of us. Let’s work together to bring peace in memory of our fine young people who have lost their lives to violent crime.”

Margaret Mizen, MBE

A great cause and an important one, London has been struggling a lot with youth violence over the past decade. The type of attacks Jimmy was a victim of unfortunately often make the headlines in London and big cities in general.

Now, what about the food? Nothing too fancy here. The menu is simple but everything is tasty! For breakfast, you will find the regular eggs on toasts, breakfast muffins and pastries. For lunch, you can order nice toasty sandwiches which will keep you full until dinner.

Good Hope Cafe breakfast muffin

And if you are visiting between meal times you will find some tasty cakes! What’s not to like?

The best part is that all the cafés employ local young people, giving them valuable work experience to help them as they grow into adulthood. All the money collected is reinvested in the cafés and help support the various charity’s programmes.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

Andrew and I live very close by and often go there for a tasty (and reasonably priced!) brunch. In addition to all the good For Jimmy is doing, we particularly enjoy going there as we believe it is important to support local businesses. Eat local, shop local, create local jobs and be part of the local virtuous circle!

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The Victoria and Albert Museum – London

The Victoria and Albert Museum, otherwise known as the V&A, is I and many Londoners’ favourite museum. Long before the lifestyle magazines, lifestyle bloggers and vloggers, the V&A has been filling that museum gap between History and everyday life. Going through ages and civilisations, the museum showcases items of the everyday life and explain design approaches through various historical eras and geographical locations. There you will learn anything from Medieval metalwork to shopping habits in 1800 England.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

This is why I love this museum because you can picture how people were living at different times. But rather than going through the long list of what you can find at the V&A (more than 4.5 million objects!), I thought I would highlight my favourite parts, so when you are visiting you can hunt for those. Be warned some can be challenging to find!

The Victoria and Albert Museum garden

Let’s start in the grand entrance, where you will find the beautiful and gigantic chandelier – a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. It is messy, colourful, fun, and it looks like a glass firework!

Chandelier in the Victoria and Albert Museum grand entrance

Now a here is a tip to see the chandelier from an even better and less crowded angle – head to the second floor and the Medieval and Rennaissance area. Walk through the exhibition and find your way toward the Metalwork area, and right at the entrance of this exhibition, you will be at the mezzanine level just above the grand entrance, with the nicest view of the chandelier!

Chandelier in the Victoria and Albert Museum grand entrance

To get to the best view of the chandelier, I mentioned that you will need to walk through the medieval age exhibition, which is great because it is another of my favourite part!

Start in the beautiful gallery just right of the ticket office.

Renaissance City at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Walk through the ‘Renaissance City’ and admire the artists live drawing some of the sculptures.

Artist drawing at the Victoria and Albert MuseumArtist drawing at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Once at the end of the gallery, you will find the staircase taking you to the Medieval age area.

Renaissance City at the Victoria and Albert Museum

In the Daylit Gallery, you will find some of the most impressive items the V&A has, an entire staircase, a full house front facade.

Medieval exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The scale of this exhibition is almost too big for your brain to process it.

Medieval exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Walk through the corridors to see everyday life items from the Medieval age, including almost spotless knight armours (one would wonder if it wasn’t more used to show off rather than actually fight).

Knight armour at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Walk across the mezzanine and through the metalwork section and go to the fourth floor where you will find my favourite exhibition – the British Galleries – more specifically Great Britain during the Victorian era. I love this section, in particular, because you get a real insight into people’s lives at that time.

Vintage posters at the Victoria and Albert Museum

A lot of today’s everyday life habits were born at that time, department stores, interior design trends, catalogue shopping, women working, etc.

Women work in 1800 at the Victoria and Albert Museum

It is fascinating as it all happened more than one hundred years ago,  yet it is so similar to today’s consumer habits.

It is also good to note that the fourth floor British Gallery is far off the beaten path and quiet – which makes it even more pleasant to visit.

Make sure to also check out the Clore Study area, where you will find ‘Breathless‘ a wonderful installation by Cornelia Parker.

Breathless by Cornelia Parker at the Victoria and Albert Museum

End your visit of the British Galleries on the north side and go down one floor to find one of my favourite rooms in the V&A – the library.

To find it you will have to walk through the Modern gallery which is wonderful if you are into interior design. Some iconic household pieces are displayed there.

Modern design at the Victoria and Albert Museum

At the end of the Modern gallery, you will find the National Art Library, a room out of the Beauty and the Beast. Walls and walls of books!

The Victoria and Albert Museum library

A beautifully ancient library currently hosting a collection of modern design items.

At that point in your visit, you would have already done a fair amount of walking so I recommend you go back downstairs to find the cafe.

The Victoria and Albert Museum cafe

The food is good and the sitting areas are beautiful. The cafe definitely worth swinging by!

The Victoria and Albert Museum cafe

Vintage or modern atmosphere, you choose!

The Victoria and Albert Museum cafeThe Victoria and Albert Museum cafe

After a little break, end your visit exploring the fashion section if you like beautiful textiles and glamorous outfits.

Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Indian, Korean or Japanese exhibitions for a trip to sunnier and more exotic places.

Indian gold statue at the Victoria and Albert MuseumTiger sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Or have a break and a ‘wow!‘ moment in front of some of Raphael most beautiful work.

Raphael Cartoons at the Victoria and Albert MuseumRaphael Cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Then head out to continue your London adventure, feeling inspired and a little bit smarter! And if you love a good museum and want to see what else London has to offer, check out Museuly very cool Top 10 London museums infographic!

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Canary Wharf from Hilly Fields

Hilly Fields is my favourite park next to my house, mainly because of the great views.

London – 2018

SONY DSC

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Ethos – London

When visiting London as a tourist or meeting friends for lunch somewhere central, it can be challenging to eat healthily. London offers so many temptations. You can have some of the best burgers and pizzas available, and there are endless unhealthy snack options. London is a big playground for foodies.

After enjoying every naughty food options the city has to offer, you will eventually crave for some healthy food. I just know the type of place you will be looking for on that day, where only healthy food is served but without any compromise on flavours. No boring kale salad here!

Just behind the very busy Oxford Street, you will find Ethos an eatery only serving tasty vegetarian food. A temple for all the gluten-dairy-sugar-free Londoners, and a nice discovery for common human beings like me. I am French which means I eat meat (medium rare please!), cheese (a lot) and bread with all the gluten in it. Yet even I have days where I crave for a tasty salad and Ethos is my go-to for a healthy and tasty kick.

Ethos London

The concept of Ethos is that you pay-by-weight. The food is served at a buffet, you grab a plate, load it with whatever you like the look of, and go to the till to pay.

Ethos London Buffet

Options go from salads to hot dishes, dips and cakes. There is something for everyone!

Ethos London Buffet

I highly recommend the beetroot fritters, they are delicious! (top of the picture below)

Ethos London Buffet with beetroot fritters

The place itself is lovely too. It has a bit of a New York vibe and the Ethos team has added a few nice little touches to the decor, highlighting their main objective to work gently with what nature has to offer.

Ethos London Interior

Just be careful not to have eyes bigger than your stomach as prices can be a little steep for a big plate. Mine was about £12 and it was just enough to keep my appetite at bay until late afternoon.

Ethos London Lunch plate

So if you need a break from the gourmet burgers and the cupcakes, and you happen to be in central London, try to get a table at Ethos! You may just need to be patient as it can get very busy! Bon appétit!

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