A Week in London

I was asked by some friends of my mum’s to come to London to look after their cat, Tufty, whilst they went on holiday for a week. Obviously I couldn’t say no to free accommodation in London, so decided to bring my boyfriend along too.

The first night we were pretty tired after five hours on the coach, but we ventured out to Chinatown near Leicester Square for dinner. We ended up in a restaurant called Plum Valley, which was incredibly sleek looking. I recently made the decision to become a vegetarian and I didn’t think that this restaurant had the most extensive amount of veggie options (that’s if you don’t eat fish like I do), but I chose the four-style vegetables with tofu which was so delicious and filling!

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The next day, we went to the market on Brick Lane which was in walking distance of where we were staying. I remember coming here a few years ago with my mum and I loved it. It seemed even better this time around though as we explored and saw more of the beautiful artwork/graffiti around Brick Lane.

Brick Lane

We were looking around at all of the amazing market stalls when we got peckish. Luckily for me, there were so many stalls that catered to the vegetarian and gluten free diet which was great. I chose to go to the Chunky Buddha as they had an udon noodle stir-fry with tofu. The chef was incredibly friendly, and the food was very tasty.

Chunky Buddha

Me and my boyfriend then wondered off to eat our food in a nearby park and afterwards found the ‘Nomadic Community Gardens‘ which were absolutely incredible. On first appearances, it looked like a messy scrap yard but upon looking more closely I realised it was full of furniture made of old wood and wooden palettes. It was full of great artwork too which was really inspiring for me. They also had a couple of cafés in here and they were growing their own vegetables.

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The next day, we decided to go to the Sea Life aquarium which was situated near the London Eye. I have to say I wish we did something else as I didn’t feel it was worth the money (even though me and my boyfriend love aquariums) due to it being fairly small and very busy and the feeling of having to rush. Apart from the sea turtles, I felt that it didn’t have much else different from the Bristol or Plymouth aquariums.

We did have a free meal at Leon afterwards, thanks to my mum’s friends knowing the manager of one of the restaurants very well, and I would definitely recommend this place for food if you need something quick. It’s a fast-food chain that sells healthy food! I had the grilled halloumi wrap with fries and fresh lemonade and it was so good. We actually came here twice throughout our stay in London, as we had two free meal coupons each and I got the same thing both times because it was so good! As far as I know it was not gluten free though, but it didn’t make me bloat too much!

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We also discovered Snog whilst we were in London and after Leon we had our first try of their frozen yoghurt. Honestly, I have never seen a place so pink before! The people in there were very friendly and the portions are enormous (which we realised too late) and my boyfriend, Elliot, actually got the big size of chocolate frozen yoghurt with the most chocolatey and rich toppings I’ve ever seen! I just went for a classic size (still huge) with chocolate sauce and chocolate Smartie-like things with strawberries. I didn’t really did the strawberries as they tasted like fruit that had been sat around for too long, but it was so good!

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Our next day brought us to the Natural History Museum which I was excited about. I came here a very long time ago with my dad and I remember it being amazing. We had to queue for a long time outside which was a bit annoying, but I think that was because there were lots of school children there for a school trip as it was nearing the end of term. I found it all pretty interesting although I didn’t realise how much there was here and it was actually very tiring. I knew I wanted to show Elliot what I remembered from the visit with my dad, which was the huge model of the whale! It wasn’t as big as I remembered it but it was still amazing to see something so massive!

After a bland lunch in the museum’s café (wouldn’t recommend the sandwiches unless you like dry, flavourless cheese ones) and a quick scout round the shop to find my little brother a dinosaur and some postcards for me as a memento of the day, we went to what I was really looking forward to – the Sensational Butterflies exhibit that was in a little tent to the side of the museum.

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I got a couple of really good photos that I hope to draw and paint from soon! This exhibit is running until the 11th of September, so if you are in London I really recommend that you check it out as it’s only around £6 for an adult – although it isn’t very big but still very beautiful.

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The next day, I wanted to go to the Tate Modern and see what was there. I hadn’t been there since the time I went to London with my dad years and years ago, and I didn’t anticipate how enormous it was.

I wasn’t really sure if I totally enjoyed it because of how huge it was and I felt quite overwhelmed by it all. I think if I were to go again, I’d probably do it over two days or something to space it out as it’s quite busy and bustling.

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That being said, there were some interesting pieces that we saw before it got a bit too much and it was inspiring to see some artists that literally just played about with their skill and talent. I’m sure much of it took an incredibly long time and that they still weren’t happy with the result but for me I tried to take away a sense of playing being very important within an artists work. It doesn’t have to make sense, you don’t have to please anybody and perfection is not relevant within art.

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I think we ate in this night due to being so tired, but I was thankful for a quiet night in away from the hustle and bustle of London. Plus little Tufty cat needed some company (although I’m not sure she appreciated it at all!)

The next day was a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour around London. I was really looking forward to this actually and it was nice to see certain parts of London that you wouldn’t be able to usually. Somehow it was still incredibly energy draining despite being sat on a bus and I found we had to wait a long time for the bus to come back again once we’d hopped off. Plus finding the bus stop was a bit of a mare as well – but I’d still recommend it if you’ve got lots of energy and you’d like to see what’s what.

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We only hopped off at one stop – Buckingham Palace. This is because Elliot had never been before, so I thought it would be worth seeing and I quite enjoy seeing it. As usual, the guards were out the front and were doing their funny little walk about. They were also shouting at the people who kept climbing about on the fences so try not to do that if you go as they’re quite scary. And armed with guns.

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I believe this may have been the evening that we went back to Chinatown for dinner, but we ended up going to a restaurant that wasn’t very nice! Top tip: research all the restaurants in the area that you’re going to before you leave the house – sites/apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp! are good for this.

The following day I really wanted to go to Oxford Street, and as Elliot and I are big fans of the BBC show, Sherlock, we also wanted to go to Baker Street because the streets were not that far away from each other (although still a fair walk – all these streets are so darn long!). We finally managed to find Sherlock’s house, which by the way, isn’t actually what it looks like in the show but is in fact the Sherlock Holmes’ Museum. We didn’t go in, but it looked pretty cool from the outside.

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If we went to London again, I’d probably go in and have a look round. I don’t know how much the admission is, or whether there’s a charge at all considering it’s a museum, but I’m sure it would be cool either way.

We then went off towards Oxford Street where (sadly for Elliot) I took a very long time finding lots of clothes and spending too much money. I also went to Forever 21 and picked up a top and one of the grooviest pairs of sunglasses I’ve ever owned with festivals in mind. I kind of wish I didn’t take so long around Primark because I would have liked to have explored Regent Street and other surrounding streets as well.

For dinner, we went to what I think was the best restaurant that we went to whilst we were in London. It was a Thai restaurant called Banana Tree and it was amazing! I love Thai food so much and I was really looking forward to eating there. We didn’t book a table and got seated immediately. The restaurant had a great atmosphere and buzz, although I did find the music quite loud which made having conversations a bit difficult. We also got lucky and arrived at cocktail happy hour so I was able to get two cocktails for the price of one! I ordered a tofu green curry which was genuinely one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten for a very long time and I’m so hungry right now that I’m salivating at the thought of it. Please go there and try it!!!!!

Banana Tree

Elliot told me that there was a new Westfields shopping mall that he wanted to go to since he’d never been to a big mall before. We worked out how to get there on the tube (again something you should work out before you get to the tube station) and it didn’t take long at all to get there. The station was literally a 3 minute walk away from it too, which was particularly handy. We didn’t really do much shopping ironically but it was cool to see anyway. On the way home, we got off at the stop nearest Portobello Road as I’d read about the market there online. It was similar to Brick Lane, although I didn’t like it as much. Lots of people who must have been bloggers posing with things like churros and coconut drinks which was a little strange to see! If you’re looking for a range of food and many, many antiques though then this could be the market for you!

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In the evening, we wanted to go to Shoreditch to visit some of the bars/restaurants there. I chose a place based on the fact that I wanted a veggie burger, but sadly we walked all the way there (a good 30 minute walk too!) and got turned away as we’re not 21! I was completely gutted because our evening plans revolved around this bar and restaurant. We then had to do a walk of shame away from the bar and ended up at Nando’s – but I wasn’t upset because they do a mean halloumi and mushroom wrap with chilli jam and it is top notch! We did see some artwork similar to that of Brick Lane due to not being that far away which was also nice for me to see. Silver linings and all that!

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After Nando’s we went back to the flat and had some beverages and watched Taskmaster which is a comedy show on Dave that I would recommend if you’re a fan of Greg Davies and other popular comedians!

The next day was our last day, and it dawned on me that actually there was a lot of things that we hadn’t managed to do but we were also exhausted. We wanted to go back to Brick Lane, so decided to do that rather than travel far away on the tube. I particularly wanted to buy mum’s friends some flowers as the bunches in their flat had dried up since we’d been there, so with that in mind we ventured off! It was great to see more of Brick Lane again.

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Elliot got the same Chinese food as last time, but I decided to try something different than before. I still wanted Asian food, but decided on some ramen since I’m not sure I’ve had that before (although thinking about it now I’ve probably had something similar at Wagamama’s before). It was really good although quite messy!!! After a quick look round some art stalls, I found the flowers I wanted to buy mum’s friends for the flat.

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We really enjoyed our week in London, although I was definitely pleased to return to sleepy old Devon again! The hustle and bustle was very different to what I’m used to at home, but was still fun. I think that living with just my boyfriend helped me think about what living away from home for university will be similar to, so I know I can do it! If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, then thank you so much for reading. This was a particularly long blog post and about 2 weeks late too! Hopefully I can start being more regular with my blog posts; I definitely have some ideas of things I’d like to do!

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