dark chocolate peppermint slices

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there’s no place like home

Living in London hasn’t been the easiest and most of the time, without the pink filter, it’s not as glamorous either. Things are bureaucratic, difficult and always frustrating. As most of you know, unlike most of the expat bloggers that I tend to run into, I didn’t move here with a boyfriend or a husband. I came here for my MA and then came back a year after graduating from St. Andrews to pursue my career and grow in a field that is rare and was still evolving when I first stepped into it.

Living in London is expensive and living in London is tricky. Moving out here I was a bit lost as to where to live and not to live. The places I knew were a little out of my budget (read: by £1,000 out of my budget) and the places that were actually a good fit, I ended up overlooking. I came to this country without knowing a single person, aside from a rugby lad I knew from St. Andrews who seemed to mimic much of the frat boy variety… but I digress. With trial-and-error, I found a flat that seemed to fit the bill and the brand!
 

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This city is dynamic and so is its population. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone for coffee (in hopes for a friendship) and that just didn’t work out because they were a bit too passionate, too overwhelming, too draining, too boring… Flatmates turn out to be the same. You meet them for 20 minutes and have to determine if they will be normal, stress-free and empathetic for the following 6 months. There are nightmares, and boy do I have stories.

What I found was that I gravitated towards expats. I wanted a space that is warm and secure since this is my “home” and my real-home is about a 9-hour flight away. My flatmates and I have our own lives and groups of friends, but if there is one thing that can bring us together it’s the kitchen. I talked about cooking with one of flatmates before and I’m happy to continue on the tradition with new flatmates that enter this flat so lovingly and see this as a home too.
 

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Heather made these peppermint slices over the holiday season for her office and lucky for me, I was able to have a small bit too. That time of the year was busy for both of us as I was in India and she went back home to New Zealand. After we reunited, one Sunday afternoon treat is what brought us together. We caught up on what we missed, picked up the pieces that were left behind on a few conversations, boys were involved in these long talks. And then we enjoyed them over an episode of Black Mirror. It’s like baking and cooking makes a place feel like home…

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You can find the peppermint slices recipe with Cadbury here.

spotting colorful houses

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frolicking through the streets

When I first moved to London, I always tried to get photographs taken in Notting Hill or anywhere I could find pretty pastel colored houses lined up so it’s easy to take a shot. I even decided to live in West London to accommodate my blog goals of capturing such houses. Eventually I got out of this black hole that is colored houses and started branching out. Slowly I realize Georgian brick houses are actually not that ugly and host a deep history and Victorian houses are quite romantic.

Fast forward a year and a few months and now I live in very central London where architectural uniformity is not a thing. I was reunited with Notting Hill and its pretty houses for a Boden color walk and then kept visiting shortly after Kristabel gave me a few good reasons as to why I need to frequent Notting Hill.

So here’s a guide to some of the colorful streets of London that you don’t want to miss if you are just visiting or live here, but stuck in the opposite rut that are Georgian brick houses and Victorian romanticism.

what I’m wearing

blouse c/o JOULES cardigan c/o JOULES jeans c/o JOULES heels c/o BODEN purse COACH lipstick AMAZING GRACE via CHARLOTTE TILBURY jewelry c/o J.LAUREN
 

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North London

North London has a unique, artistic vibe to it. Full of quirky shops, independent coffee shops, incredible exotic cuisine. You will find a lot of young professionals living and around there as it inhabits so much for the younger crowd. I don’t frequent as much to north London, but that is sure going to change as some of the leading chefs are popping open their Michelin-graded restaurants there.

Kelly Street, NW1
Chalcot Crescent, NW1
Falkland Road, NW5
Bonny Street, NW1
 

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West London

Truly iconic for it’s pastel-hued houses lined and forming squares in random parts of West London. There is definitely a ‘west is best’ vibes when people first think of London. Since living here, I found the crowd to be just slightly older though polished. Lots of great restaurants that have built a heritage here. With an abundance of shops, boutiques, high-end streets galore. Many locales are very the place to be seen, but Notting Hill doesn’t and never will, lose it’s charm.

Denbigh Terrance, W11
Conduit Mews, W2
Portobello Road, W11
Lancaster Road, W11
Westbourne Park Road, W11
Chiswick Road, W4
Wingate Road, W6
 

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South London

Where yours truly resides, South(west) London is the home of posh-shopping and chic boroughs of Knightsbridge and Chelsea where we have Harrods. Establishments cater to all budgets and tastes and residences are notably all white Victorian houses or a little sprinkle of colored ones in the borough of Kensington.

Trevor Square, SW7
Bywater Street, SW3
Oakley Street, SW3
 

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a guide to berlin

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Berlin was an interesting city. I will admit that I wasn’t the most excited to be visiting because just 2 weeks before my departure, I booked tickets for my brother and mum to visit and then flights to Morocco and Paris. Berlin had a lot of mixed reviews from my friends. Some said it was difficult to photograph, others told me I would love the history. It was true that I found the city very difficult to capture (because of all the construction and considering how immense it was), but I absolutely loved the political and historical significance. If you’re new here, I studied international relations and thus Berlin plays a major part in everything I learnt.

monumental

Some of the things we did on our own were Schlob Charlottenburg and the Helmut Newton Museum. The next day we decided to take a bus to the center of the city and walk around to see Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the moving Topographie des Terrors.
 

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tour

Visit Berlin’s WelcomeCard
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Visit Berlin provided us with the WelcomeCards perfect for traveling through the city. Unlike most European cities, Berlin is very difficult to walk, especially in the Winter. Historically, the east and west were heavily divided, so you will want to get a travel card for the length of your stay. You can use it on basically all forms of transportation and it even comes with access to Museum Island and more! Also, be sure to check out these ideas for wintertime in Berlin and the ‘Going Local Berlin’ app to help find lesser known places.

Urban Adventures
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I love tours that are run by locals or cover something that you would look past. The hidden Berlin tour hosted by Urban Adventures covered the parts of Berlin that I wouldn’t even think of like the Palace of Tears, Jewish Quarter and everything from those and the Berlin Wall. The tour provides you so many different perspectives of various groups, communities and even time periods.
 

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what I wore

jumper MADEWELL shirt JCREW jeans c/o JOULES trainers ADIDAS jewelry J.LAUREN black trousers REISS grey tunic ZARA boots & OTHER STORIES lipsticks BOND GIRL and AMAZING GRACE coat ELLEN TRACY blanket scarf ZARA leather backpack FIORELLI nails TRIS c/o ZOYA NAIL POLISH
 

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stay

Max Brown Hotel KuDamm
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I stumbled upon Max Brown when I was in Amsterdam over the summer and fell in love with the interiors! Looking deeper, I saw that they had a hotel in Berlin too and at that point I was already planning a trip to Berlin. Upon entering the lobby, the vibes were relaxed and casual. The palm wallpapers and corner cacti garden made us get over the winter blues pretty quickly.

We had the medium-sized room and it was the perfect size as we weren’t spending too much time there. I loved the brass finishings and the subway tile bathroom, but the perk was the little gifts set on the desk/my blogging and work space for the weekend.

The eclectic mix-match decor and exposed, dim lighting made this boutique hotel feel very comfortable. In the middle of a residential location, it was nestled between such cute cafes and shops and the the streets were quiet during the night. You also don’t have to go too far if you’re looking for a cheeky drink before bed as the hotel bar and restaurant is fully equipped… but more about that below.
 

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eat

Zeit Fur Brot
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I came across this place on Instagram by accident. We got there with a major queue creeping out the door. When we walked in the air was perfumed with cinnamon and everything glutinous and naughty. We picked up a maple-pecan bun and a cherry-white chocolate bun too, but went back without a second thought when the apple-cinnamon arrived coming straight from the oven.

Zur Letzten Instanz
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When I was discussing plans with the Visit Berlin team, they immediately suggested I visit Zur Letzten Instanz for dinner. I wanted an authentic experience and got so much more. A proper pub experience with all the right German touches. We started off with a pilsner, followed by a very meaty meal and ended with the best apple pie ever and a glass of schnapps on the side! I couldn’t even explain to you how wonderful the meat was, but if you’re a vegetarian, you’ve got a few options too!

Cecconi’s
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No trip feels complete without a visit to Soho House. I was actually surprised by the set up of the Soho House in Berlin. It seemed to be right in the middle of a busy highway like road. When we entered, everything was dark and draped with heavy cloths. It was absolutely gorgeous. We were directed to a seat in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by all the candles. I never ate at Cecconi’s in London, but was told to try the fried olives and it was definitely worth it. I also suggest the dover sole and the pappardelle. If I had to make a drink suggestion, go for the house wines with particular focus on the Sangiovese Rose. It was vibrant, refreshing and perfect for the start of our meal. You can find the dinner menu and wine list here.

Benedict
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Who doesn’t love breakfast food at all times of the day? If you’re staying at Max Brown Ku’damm, you get a complimentary breakfast from here otherwise it’s open to the public. I definitely suggest the Shakshuka or the buttermilk pancakes.
 

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shop

Horizn Studio
for a bit of travel and luggage love. I really want their smart-suitcase!

Paper & Tea
The sweetest space for all things tea and stationary!

Homecore
German men’s fashion, need I say more?

Broke & Schön
Lots of cute statement pieces for the wardrobe.

Rausch
A local favorite chocolatier! Get a small box of truffles that you can mix and match.
 

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special thanks to our sponsors & helpers

as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own
 

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it’s been awhile

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a personal post covering just a hodge-podge of things. I know I should do more of these, but I get caught up and inspired to create pretty content, editorials and videos for all of you. Though I’m sure (and hope) it’s not a bad thing? I’m actually tickling the idea of blogging a bit more often as more opportunities are coming through, from 1 post every 7 days to 1 post every 4 days. Thoughts?

travel, travel, travel

Since we were last here it was summer and days were long and weekends longer with nights dancing away in nightclubs, but since autumn it was time to buckle down again. Things were hectic since 2 months leading up to India, to be frank. I was there for work and decided to include a few blog collaborations and re-introduce my blog as ‘travel lifestyle,’ which entailed building a portfolio of posts I can conceptualize for hospitality brands. Based on your reaction to my posts from the trip, it seemed you really enjoyed it! January started strong with a visit to The Lake District and then Venice and now I’m headed to Berlin with Morocco, Eastern Europe and more on the list just through May.
 

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asian food

If you know me personally, or even follow along on my insta-stories, you probably noticed my love for all things Asian food. I find noodles and dumplings comforting and some how even made friends who feel the same. London is no short of Asian places so I thought I would share a few places I’ve been frequenting and you might enjoy too:

duck duck goose
Wes Anderson vibes and in the heart of Brixton. I never head out there very much even though I only live a few stops away. Kristabel asked me to join her as she was putting together a Chinese New Year food post. Upon entering we fell in love. Simple, quirky, and delicious food! I highly recommend their prawn toast.

Mamalan
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go here since I moved to London. I first lived in Clapham Common and they had just opened when I moved. The place looked cute, but packed at every hour of the day. The visit was a treat! I loved the dumplings and fried chicken wings.

Xi’an Impression
Off the beaten track, I would only venture to a place like this with Charlotte Hu first. I had been craving hand pulled noodles and we decided to bring along 3 more boys to the feast so we can order more and indulge. It’s truly authentic of the region in China where Muslims reside, so it’s a beautiful marriage of flavors. Trust me when I say, order the cold noodles.

Isarn Thai
I make green curry and variations of it all the time (green curry noodle soup recipe here and Thai papaya salad), but never really ventured in other Thai dishes. Isarn is in Angel, which has a flourishing gastro-community. It had been a little over a year since I made my way out there, so the Thai food at Isarn was truly a treat to go for. Definitely order the duck with star anise!
 

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beauty

I started really looking into skin preservation now that I’m in my late-20s. Since moving to London I saw city stress visibility and it definitely worried me as I already battle redness and sensitivity. With monthly hydration facials in the books during the winter season, I started testing out new products that would help with gently cleaning, toning and preserving my skin. Insert PerriconeMD here. The cold plasma range sounds extreme, but it is a wonderful gentle range geared to combat aging and improving radiance. It was the eye cream that got me hooked as I battle dry and itchy eyes and surrounding skin. It was cooling and perfect for someone who is exposed to drastically different environments due to travel. I’m hoping to try their makeup range soon!
 

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at home

It only took me about a year and a half to start decorating my room. Quite honestly, I had a hard time trying to invest in anything as I wasn’t sure if I would stay in London long-term or even in this flat. I’ve moved numerous cities and countries over the last decade that it just makes sense not to get too attached to things, but that changed. My brother and mom are visiting soon and I thought it would make them feel a bit better if my “home” in London had more than just a table (mostly for working), chair and bed.

I picked up a few things from H&M home, which has been amazing. The entire home section is complete #goals and the prices are reasonable. My room is now a white, blush pink and gold palette. Very on brand. I got this gold wire basket and this clear glass box.

Also, to help make things a bit more personal Desenio reached out to do an Instagram collaboration. I usually turn interior collaborations away, but decided to take advantage of this. Their prints are stunning and so are their frames.
 

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weekend in venice

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Venezia, Italia

shirt SIMILAR coat SIMILAR bag FIORELLI glasses SCARLETT OF SOHO trousers REISS

The Christmas and new year holiday seemed more stressful than more of an ease. Truth is that I found a little sanctuary in the heart of The Lake District, but I was itching for just a bit more especially since the first two weeks back to work were managing overflowing to do lists. And just like that I booked a flight to Venice, as I’ve heard it’s a magical place to be as grandeur is erected between waters.

Though the temperatures a bit uncomfortable for my liking, the bit of snow we were greeted with on our first night, was a warm welcome. The winter season brings a tamed amount of tourists, there’s a thick fog that sits just above the bluest hues of the lagoon and the sun forces its golden rays between every crevice of the dark pastel buildings. It was magical. A weekend, or 3 days/2 nights to be precise, is not enough for this beautiful city. There were museums and other islands I wanted to visit, but I don’t mind saving that for another visit.
 

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stay

Locanda Vivaldi
Riva degli Schiavoni
+39 041 277 0477
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we stayed at the gorgeous Locanda Vivaldi, a charming boutique hotel right in front of the Basin of St. Mark and a convenient walk to the square too. Each room so elaborately decorated, transcends you back to what you believe would be ancient Venetian days. With hanging murano glass chandeliers and damask wallpaper, there were little bits of sun peaking through the windows with a view and everything just glistened. With quite a spread for breakfast every morning, it was the perfect place to start each day’s adventures.
 

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eat & drink

Obviously one of my favorite ways of learning about a city is through it’s gastronomic culture. Venice is not short of good food and libations and we made sure fine wine and multiple courses of dinner and dessert were available.

Harry’s Bar
Calle Vallaresso
+39 041 528 5777
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A legendary place where you go to be seen, and honestly it’s a bit over the top, but a must visit if you’re looking for an almost “private members experience” where they most likely will ignore you… From the 1930s, it’s a bar that almost feels as if Hemingway would hang out there. They are known for their Bellini cocktails and carpaccio.

Bistrot de Venise
Calle dei Fabbri
+39 041 523 6651
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Ingredients used in a cuisine will tell you so much about a city’s history. Considering Venice was surrounded by water, there was an ebb and flow of what came and entered the city. We went to Bistrot de Venise because they’re known for their historical Venetian tasting menu, which should not be missed. Each course that was brought out came with a wine pairing that the sommelier helped to explain so thoroughly. Contrary to what you may think at first glance, it was a warm and comforting environment.

Ai Gondolieri
Calle S. Domenico
+39 041 528 6396
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You would almost miss the restaurant as it sits in a corner that you wouldn’t imagine something to be. Be it so, it was a sanctuary. A warm invite with its wooden framing where you are greeted by a very sweet, enthusiastic barman. What I adored was the locals sitting alone in a corner or in pairs enjoying a brunch. Ai Gondolieri boasts its Venetian meat dishes paired with local wines and it has the right to boast too. They bring international influence to traditional dishes. My favorite course was the steak tartare (my favorite dish in general), but accompanied with ground raw onion, capers, wasabi, mustard and anchovy spread. It was interactive and beautiful.
 

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Mauro el Former de Canton
Ruga Veccia S. Giovanni
+39 041 523 1608
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You definitely should know by now that sweets are my vice. This is the ideal place to pick up a little cheeky treat as you’re perusing the winding streets to and from Rialto Bridge, or pick up a few extra for the trip back home.

Pasticceria Rosa Salva
Via San Marco
+39 041 521 0544
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When we were a bit peckish for a savory snack and wanted to warm up with a bit of coffee, we sought refuge at Pasticceria Rosa Salva. Though it’s full of tourists coming in and out due to its location and credibility, it is also frequented by locals. If you’re not too keen on a coffee, then definitely go for the aperol spritz!
 

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shop

Trasparenze
Dorsoduro (S. Vio)
+39 041 523 2490
I’m not much of a clothing shopper when I tour cities, surprisingly. I do like to pick up bits of local goodies though! Masks are an obvious when you’re in Venice and so are some of the other crafts. Out of all the shops I visited, I loved Trasparenze for masks. They were different from what you see in the more tourist-saturated areas and there is always someone on site making them so you can see the artist at work!

Il Pavone Stamperia
Calle Venier dei Leoni
+39 041 523 4571
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A stamp and stationary shop that is too cute to be true. There are monogrammed journals and stationary. I went for a proper leather-bound journal and a bespoke stamp for future correspondences!
 

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what I wore

jumper c/o BODEN boots & OTHER STORIES jewelry c/o J.LAUREN
shop my entire closet THE BOUTIQUE
 

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tour

Walks of Italy
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We decided to spend an early morning at Rialto Bridge and Market to beat the tourists and on our last day we were keen to get over to an island of Venice that was more local and thus visited Ponte dei Pugni and got lost in the narrow streets.

For the historical monuments: St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the square, we were so grateful to have received a tour by Walks of Italy (the Legendary Venice tour to be exact). Grateful because the tour guide, equal parts handsome and comical, brought the history together like a dramatic novella. Each element explained and there was so much to see, but not the slightest overwhelming.
 

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Venice