The unexpected (but very much welcome) sunny weather in London last weekend had me truly wanting to soak up every beam of sunshine. I couldn’t have been happier to have clear blue skies and the regrettable coat choice weather well above the usual crisp degrees this time of the year. So obviously, we did what every Londoner does when the sun emerges from behind the clouds – pack up a picnic and invade the nearest park, or in our case, Kew Gardens (aka Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
Coincidentally, the annual Kew orchid festival was on, this time showcasing the world’s most biodiverse country and bursting with surprises in every corner. From February 9th to March 10th, wonderful colours fill the Princess of Wales Conservatory in celebration of Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity and vibrant culture, where orchids represent a key part of the ecosystems of this South American nation. Naturally, walking into the conservatory was arguably the easiest decision I had to make (especially when the entry is included in your pass!).
Tucked away in a little brick courtyard on Ezra Street, just off the hustle and bustle of Columbia Road, lies Lily Vanilli, one of the daintiest little bakery gems in town. This captivating little spot could easily go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the hundreds of recommendation lists it keeps on popping up on. This, of course, was more than enough to make me stop by after a busy Sunday morning battling the crowds on Columbia Road Flower Market in search of the perfect pot plant and seasonal blooms. Any excuse for a slice of cake and a cuppa…
Sam and I have been on a mission to find the best burgers in London. Although we’re yet to sample all of the big smoke’s grilled delicacies (non pun intended), it’s safe to say we’ve been to a fair few places that have significantly won a place in our hearts. Truth is, I’m not a big fan of fast food chains and try to go for more quality, free-range, locally sourced and sustainable options.
Patty and Bun wasn’t somewhere we were new to, but who wants to resist yet another visit to a mouth-watering menu boosting some serious burger choices? Not me, that’s for sure! Hear me out – their organic gourmet patties are quite something.
How can it be 2019 already? Seriously, where has the time gone? I feel like it was only yesterday when Sam and I were working on one of our first travel guides. Now more than thirty posts later including reviews, travel tips, recipes and bucket lists, I can wholeheartedly say 2018 has been a hell of a year.
But what’s stood out the most? Join me on a trip down memory lane with a look back at the different places we’ve visited, as well as our favourite activities, restaurants, brunch places, cocktail bars and bakeries of the year.
Did you know the Barbican Centre is home to the second biggest conservatory in London? Unbelievable, right? Concealed among the brutalist complex lies a dreamlike urban jungle with more than 2000 species of tropical flora. Often overshadowed by the impressive botanical collections at Kew Gardens, many tourists and Londoners are oblivious to the hidden oasis that grows within the heart of the city.
As a true London lover and someone who enjoys exploring the secret corners of my home, it wasn’t long until I added Barbican Conservatory to my Ultimate London Bucket List. I was somehow attracted to the flawless balance between the unnoticeable botanical scenery and its metropolitan surroundings.
Getting to meet the penguins was by far one of the most entertaining encounters I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Have you seen how insanely charming they all are? What about those fluffy lil’ baby ones? Cute, right? And please let’s not ignore the fact that penguins mate for life! I am sorry but that is just too adorbs.
There is something special about these stunning animals that I’ve always found incredibly captivating. In fact, the Meet the Penguins experience at ZSL London Zoo was part of my Ultimate London Bucket Listfor a really long time. So naturally, Sam and I couldn’t believe our luck when the amazing ZSL London Zoo team retweeted our Friday night escape to Zoo Nights and crowned us as the (ehem, ultimate) winners of that week’s Meet the Animals competition!
So what was it going to be? Meet the penguins, the rain forest animals or the giraffes? Our decision was already made even before our beloved Meet the Animals Gift Pack reached our home. Although we wouldn’t get to “P-P-Pick Up a Penguin” *insert 80s tv ad theme here*, how could we resist meeting plenty of them?
Have you ever wondered what happens at ZSL London Zoo when the sun goes down? Once all the visitors have left and the night zookeepers are the only ones wandering around, the zoo is pretty much animal territory once again. Thousands of different animal species from all over the world call London Zoo their home. Opened in 1828, initially only with scientific and educational study purposes, London Zoo receives hundreds of visitors each day. Tourists, parents and their kids, hopeless animal lovers, school trips (loads of kids), researchers, more kids…
The zoo is only for kids yeah? Wrong. As a self-sufficient adult (midlife crisis approaching), I’ve always found zoos quite fascinating and educational. They provide answers to wildlife’s most important questions. Do platypuses sweat milk? How do different species make babies? What are baby goats called? You know, all the interesting stuff. During the summer, ZSL London Zoo offers the opportunity to learn all about fauna in the most excellent Friday night plan, Zoo Nights. And yes, you guessed it, it’s ADULTS ONLY (sorry kids). Get ready to explore the secrets behind the zoo’s doors after hours, with loads of entertainment, delicious food and of course, wildlife without the horde of children and crowds of school trips! I obvioulsy had to add this to my Ultimate London Bucket List.