London

Saturday in Brick Lane + A Cat Café*

Cat cafe near Old Street, London | Hello Victoria

*Technically, they specify that they are not a cat café, but it’s hard to describe the place without calling it that…

This past weekend, Richard and I decided that we just had to get out and do something. Too often when we have a day together, we waste it by relaxing around the flat all day. Now, I say wasted loosely here, as a day spent sleeping in, eating brunch, and watching a movie on the sofa is not a wasted day per se. It’s just that we often look back at months at a time, and feel like we haven’t really done anything.

Visiting the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

I always seem to take photos of Richard on trains – he hates it. I’m thinking of starting a series… or a coffee table book. 😉

So we considered our options and settled on visiting the market at Brick Lane! We had both been to Brick Lane on different occasions, but never on the weekend, when their markets are open.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was kind of small despite how much space there actually was. We’re both more into antiques than handmade stuff, and the market seemed full of screen printed clothing, or similar items. Not quite what we were looking for.

Visiting the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Vintage cameras at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Vintage typewriters at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

What they didn’t have in terms of stuff to buy, however, they made up for in stuff to eat! Nowhere near the options at Camden or Borough Markets, but they had momos! After living in Nepal, Richard has quite the affinity for those little Tibetan dumplings… so to say that he was ‘chuffed’ to see that stall, would be an understatement. And of course we had to share a sampling! We tried all the varieties except for vegetarian, and enjoyed them all. The spicy dip had quite the kick!

Momos at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Now, sharing a few dumplings isn’t quite enough for a full meal. There were some other amazing options available in the Brick Lane market, but we had another lunch in mind… salt beef bagels!

I had heard about the bagels here at Beigel Bake, as being the best salt beef in London. I’m a huge fan of spicy mustard and pickles… so these seemed right up my alley! But, if I’m being honest, I think the ones at Borough Market are better (controversial, I know). Maybe it’s the better pickles, but a lot of it is probably due to the fact that Beigel Bake cranks out like a bazillion of them each day, and they sort of just slap them together. Seriously, the lines there for bagels are mental. I like a bit more care with my food. (more…)

Visiting Camden Market, London

Camden Market, London | Hello Victoria

The other day, I happened to be near Camden Market for work, and thought I would wander the shops a while. If you live in London, then you’ll already be quite familiar with Camden Market, but for those who haven’t been, let me explain. Camden Market used to be this hub of alternative fashion, music, etc. The main street has tattoo shops and piercings aplenty, but lately tends to have become overrun with tourist traps. Once word got out about Camden, it got less alternative, and suddenly has 30 shops selling tourist kitsch along with the tattoos.

Camden Market, London | Hello VictoriaCamden Market, London | Hello Victoria

The main street is the kind of place to head if you’re in the market for a cheap pair of sunglasses, or phone case. But it’s the market itself that draws me in! Part food market, with open air stalls, and part handmade/antique sellers hawking scarves, jewelry, and the like. In the fall, it’s the perfect place to find a new scarf, or toque, and in the summer it’s a great place to find a new pair of sunnies, or a new bag! But in my case, it was the perfect excuse to try a fancy hot chocolate I had heard about.

Camden Market, London | Hello VictoriaCamden Market, London | Hello Victoria (more…)

Convent Garden Antiques Market

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden is known for being a part of London full of designer shops, and fancy restaurants. Wander around this area and it’s all Chanel, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton as far as the eye can see. But, if you visit on a Monday, you’ll find something quite different from the usual finery.

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Every Monday the Apple and Jubilee markets at Covent garden make way for antiques! Once home to fruit and vegetable sellers back in the day, these markets are usually home to stalls selling handmade wares and lots of touristy kitsch. The antiques you find on Mondays are a refreshing reprieve from what you find the rest of the week. They tend to set up a bit later than most markets, so if you end up there too early, just wait until closer to 11 or 12. I thought that being there around 10:30 would be late, but half the sellers were still setting up their wares. (more…)

Visiting Old Spitalfields Market: Traders Market Days

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

When I first moved to the UK, and Richard and I were setting up our flat, I wanted to find some antiques. My style tends to run a bit eclectic, and I like a good mix of new and old furnishings. As we were buying so much stuff at IKEA, I wanted to find some antique markets in London that I could visit without having to drive a few hours. One of the first that popped up, was the Old Spitalfields Market. But the thing with this market, is that it only does Antiques on Thursdays, and has what it calls a Trader’s Market most other days. It also does some other one day markets (sometimes just once a month), so visit their website for more information.

So if you’re in the market for antiques, go on Thursdays, but the other days are interesting too! Spitalfields has a number of food trucks and stalls, and even just completed a new food hub, dubbed the Kitchens, in the middle of the market. If you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s a great place to grab lunch! When Richard and I stopped by recently, we were on our way to another part of London for dinner, and just wanted a snack. He had some prawn dumplings from Dumpling Shack, and I got a lamb shawarma from Berber and Q. As he put it “I won” the afternoon snack competition, because my food was waay better value for the money, and looked awesome!

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

I had seen someone else receive their shawarma and thought, that looked good! Nothing beats melt in your mouth meat, tahini, chili sauce, and pickled jalapenoes!

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

But food isn’t all Spitalfields Market has on offer! Around their new kitchens hub, the market has begun constructing scandi style stalls for their traders. It used to be more fold out tables and white fabric, but now each vendor gets a little wooden booth.

During the Trader’s Market you can find plenty of handmade and local clothing, accessories, and jewelry. I got a lovely necklace from Richard last year, from trader Littlesmith – a custom bar pendant with the GPS coordinates of where we met. (I know – he’s a keeper!) I would say that more than half the stalls cater to women, with scarves, purses, dresses, and jewelry taking up more than their fair share. However, you can find leather jackets, funny silk screened shirts, antique maps, and artwork. A little something for everyone. (more…)

Visiting the Borough Market in London

Borough Market in London, England | Hello Victoria

When my parents came to visit back in August, we spent a few days in London before heading off to Northern Ireland. They had been to London before (hence only spending a couple days), but they wanted to see where we lived and worked. As for me, I work in the Borough Market!

Borough Market in London, England | Hello Victoria

I’ve been wanting to do a blog post highlighting the market for a while, but don’t exactly take my camera with me to work. This was the perfect opportunity for me to play the tourist, and get a couple snaps of the market stalls. I wish I had taken more photos showing all the great stuff… but my hands were too busy eating!

Borough Market in London, England | Hello Victoria Borough Market in London, England | Hello Victoria

The Borough Market is London’s oldest food market; one form or another has been around for about 1,000 years. Given how long it’s been here for, you can assume it’s going to be good. And you wouldn’t be wrong! It’s located just near the base of the shard, and is open 6 days a week (Monday to Saturday). It’s basically the food hub of London. If you want to sample interesting cheese, produce, bakery products, etc. from all over, then this is the place to go. If I had lots of money, I would pretty much do all of my grocery shopping there. (more…)

Afternoon Tea at Sketch, London

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello VictoriaBefore moving to London, I started following a couple bloggers, to see where the good places to eat, shop, and visit were. One of those bloggers is Rosie at The Londoner, and she’s pretty much a go-to resource for places to eat around London, as well as other cities around the world (she travels A LOT!) A place she’s mentioned a few times, and that I have been dying to visit, is Sketch in Mayfair, and especially their afternoon tea in the gallery.

I’m definitely not a girly, girl… but there’s something quite awesome about this room. Almost every surface is pale pink, including the plush velvet booths, and even the bar ware (in rose gold). It’s pretty much like Instagram heaven for the social media generation, no? I like the dichotomy of the decor – it’s all pale pink and girly, but then has these strange mordant sketches lining the walls, with matching ceramic serving ware.

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello Victoria

the drawings on the wall are unusual to say the least – we found a few that made us laugh while we enjoyed our tea

So this past Easter weekend, we finally managed to book a table (thanks Richard!!!), and it was definitely worth it! I mean, afternoon tea is quite pricey no matter where you go (and I mean priceeey), but it’s an experience – and we made sure to milk it. And I mean that literally, as we’re both huge fans of the ol’ ‘builder’s tea’, with plenty of milk and sugar…

Afternoon tea at Sketch London | Hello Victoria

The afternoon tea we picked started with an introduction by one of their staff, as to how the afternoon would unfold. It began with someone explaining all the teas to us (four pages of options) and we would each pick a pot of tea. As the stuff is unlimited we tried to make a dent in all the options. I think by the end of our time there we had tried a combined 7-8 teas, but we could definitely have tried more. If only our bellies could have handled more of the hot liquid… (more…)

Shopping the Sunbury Antiques Market

Shopping the Sunbury Antiques Market | Hello Victoria

One of the things that Richard and I looked forward to doing after coming back from Greece (while we still were on holiday), was to visit the Sunbury Antiques Market. It’s a twice weekly market located at the Kempton Park Racecourse, and features over 700 vendors both inside and outside.

We’re both huge fans of eclectic spaces, filled with a mixture of antique and new pieces, and were hoping to find some furniture or accessories for our flat. One of the best and worst things about this flat, is that the woman who sold it left a few pieces of furniture behind; it’s great since we can take our time finding the right pieces (and the money to pay for them), but it’s also kind of frustrating as the furniture is bland and boring. We pretty much need everything for the flat – sofa, coffee table, rugs, dining table, chairs, bedside tables… you name it, we need it.

With over 700 stalls, we were hoping to at least find something to take home.

Shopping the Sunbury Antiques Market | Hello Victoria

Alas, we found only a few small items, no furniture. But despite our lack of finds, we still had a good day out in the rare English sunshine. There was so much to see – we didn’t quite realize just how big the market was until it just kept going, and going… and going! There was a huge selection of everything from antique jewelry to old farm tools, with a lot in between. I found an amazing little antique painting (like tiny), only to find out that it cost £250!?! I thought maybe it would be £50 but never imagined so much! (more…)

So Now I Live in London…

Livingin in London | Hello Victoria

… well technically, Sidcup, Kent – but hey! – given that it only takes about 30 minutes to get to London Bridge, it’s basically London.

I moved from Victoria, BC about 7 months ago, as my boyfriend Richard lives and works here. Most days I still feel a bit like a tourist, but I’m starting to get my bearings. Sure, I constantly find myself fascinated by buildings that are older than Canada itself, but I shall soon become a jaded Londoner, walking past Shakespearean architecture without a second glance. (At least, I hope I don’t…)

Living in London | Hello Victoria

Early last year, I went back to school to become a pastry chef, and it’s taken me this long to find a job with a good work-life balance. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to hone those skills in my own kitchen, with one small problem. I had heard that kitchens in the UK were small, but had no idea just how small they could be! The size of the fridge we have here is the same as the little beer fridge in my parent’s house! Not ideal when you have grandiose aspirations to make amazing layered cakes or dinner parties. (more…)