Dreary winter weather has us wishing for long, hot summer days and makes the idea of escaping to a warmer climate seem all the more desirable. Talented graphic designer and blogger of Fashion Fitness Food, Isobel Masters has ensured we can all get a glimpse of a London summer by sharing with us the city's must-sees for the sunny season. So if you're visiting London or proud to call it home take these summer suggestions into consideration.....
Visit Rooftop Film Club
With classic hits like Clueless, a beautiful view of the London skyline and my very own deck chair on offer, a night at the movies has never sounded so appealing. I've only graced the Roof Gardens in Kensington here a few times, but with summer starting I can tell this will become a Friday night regular for me and the girls. Popcorn all round!
Head to Richmond Park
Whether I'm picking up a Boris Bike (hireable bikes dotted around London City) or putting on my running gear to do a couple of laps, Richmond Park is an amazing spot to embrace the summer weather. Known for it's wildlife, I always keep my eyes peeled for deer, badgers and some rather cute rabbits. Taking a 10 minute detour out of the park to enjoy the view at the top of Richmond Hill is a must do.
Explore the markets
Eating healthy is important and getting my mitts on fresh, great quality produce helps with this lifestyle choice. Farmers markets are all around London, but my favourite stop has to be Borough Markets. It has everything you could possibly want and more. I head there at least once a week to get as much of the gorgeous, organic and locally grown produce I can find. If you're after a spot that also provides lunch, I would beeline for Sloane Square where there is a street food market every Saturday from 10am to 4pm. This is a lot less 'cucumbers and carrots' and a lot more 'every flavour of cupcake that has ever existed' type food so I always go hungry. You can grab London's largest chocolate chip cookie, soak up the sun and maybe walk a few laps of the shopping district - to burn off that cookie of course! This area is known for being the Middleton girls stomping ground, so it's packed full of incredible designer shops and exclusive restaurants.
Indulge at Nama
A stones throw from the iconic Portobello Road, Nama is the hidden gem of the culinary scene in the UK. This raw food restaurant features a menu bulging with tasty and ridiculously healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Not only do they hands down make the best salad I've ever eaten called the 'raw caesar salad' (pictured below) but I also get to pick from an array of milks (including almond, hazelnut and coconut) to compliment my flat white order. What's not to love?
Enjoy Social Eating House
It's popular after a long day to finish off with a night cap and I often head to this Soho sweet spot that has literally something for anyone in any mood. The cocktail menu boasts impressive concoctions and I can never look past the selection of incredible dips and chutneys served with perfectly toasted brochette on the side - the perfect end to a summer's day.
Thanks Isobel! x
Our popular MY CITY feature is back for June and this month we're discovering the smaller, quieter cities that grace New Zealand. We were lucky enough to speak to Abbey from the mouth-watering blog, Feasting & Frank to learn about the quirks and perks of her special hometown, New Plymouth.
My name is Abbey and I am a homemaker, decorator, amateur gardener and bargain hunter. I have recently returned to New Plymouth where I was born and raised, opting for a quieter life where the natural surroundings are phenomenally beautiful and the living is easy. Here are a few of my favourite places that make this tiny city so special.
Boasting some of the most spectacular swimming and surfing spots in the country, New Plymouth is virtually surrounded by beaches. I could string together a thousand adjectives describing its incredible beauty and still not do it justice.
The Ozone team are coffee pioneers in these parts and you can go and visit them for everything coffee related. The roastery out back is busy producing some of the best coffee, including a range of expertly picked single origin blends. While out the front at the Beanstore you find a knowledgeable team, tasteful semi industrial space, simple food and consistently great coffee.
New Plymouth has a plethora of amazing second-hand and antique stores, where you can find almost any treasure imaginable but it requires constant persistence, chance and enthusiasm for trawling through junk with an eye for potential jewels. For the one stop shop that has everything go to Chads.
Every Sunday local producers of mostly organic goods get together and set up shop at the Farmers Market right in the centre of town. You can get all of your local organic produce, meat and bakery goods all in one place. Everyone knows all the stall holders by name and it fosters a good community vibe.
Until 1876 Pukekura Park was a swamp but it has now become one of New Zealand most acclaimed botanical wonderlands. It plays host to a variety of events including WOMAD and The Festival of Lights which spans over most of the summer. It is a majestic place, laced with walking tracks, lakes, event venues, waterfalls, a tea house, a zoo, playgrounds, gardens and my favourite of all, The Fernery. This spot displays orchards, ferns and beautiful indoor flowers such as begonias and fuchsias all year round.
The mountain looms over day to day life and is the centre and reference point to our small region. Mount Taranaki is truly magical and a symbol of both beauty and danger. He can be admired from afar or explored on one of the many walking tracks that include hut accommodation and even a tiny ski field.
Govett-Brewster Contemporary Art Museum
Committed to facilitating opportunities for both artists and the community, this world renown gallery works relentlessly to keep art alive in New Plymouth through its many events, exhibitions and workshops.
Last but not least, my favourite place is my house. I feel so blessed to call this place mine. One of the best aspects of New Plymouth is the affordability of living and the ability to get ahead. The house market is very open to first homebuyers, where getting your foot on the property ladder doesn't come with a financially crippling price tag.
We can't wait to plan a getaway to New Plymouth! x
For our latest installment of MY CITY
we took a trip to the other side of the world chatting to Ryan McPhun of The Ruby Suns and Spring Break about his new home town. A man of many talents - he's a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer - the ex-pat Kiwi's latest residence is the chilly city of Oslo, where he tells us about the perks of living in a place surrounded by snow, art and culture.
I was born in California to an American an a Kiwi and lived in Auckland for around ten years. Last year I made the move to Oslo to be with my Norwegian lady. So for now, Oslo is my city.
An American-themed grog lair right near my apartment. The main reason I go here is because it has a beer special from 6-8pm everyday. 3 beers for 100nok ($20NZD) - that's pretty much half price.
This is Gustav Vigeland's crowning achievement. The park is chock full of his sculptures, both psychedelic and traditional, all centred around a giant obelisk comprising tonnes of individual sculptures of different kinds of humans. Also, there's a sculpture of one very angry baby.
Though a bit fancy as far as the dining/drinking establishments are concerned, Tjuvholmen is fascinating because it's essentially a neighbourhood built on stilts above the ocean. Extending out from the Aker Brygge area of Oslo, it's home to some great galleries such as Pushwagner & Haaken and one of the better Norweigen treasure troves, the Astrup Fearnly Modern Art Museum. They've got the MJ & Bubbles sculpture by Jeff Koons! Where this floating burrough meets the sea the architects made sure there was an integrated public swimming area replete with diving boards, step ladders and a sandy beach.
This is Oslo's local ski mountain and it's pretty good too. You can take the metro from Oslo central station almost to the bottom of the slopes.
A little down the mountain is apparently one of the best toboggan runs in the world. This one is about two kilometres long. There are several exposed cliffs along the way if you felt like going for a fly and it's scary how fast you can go. The metro goes right to the top of the track. Photos don't do it justice really - take a look at this video.
Nearby the Korketrekkeren is Norway's newest ski jump that you can see from almost anywhere. Ski jumping is a huge deal in Norway and they've been competing here since 1892. You can take a ski lift to the top of the jump and look down but I could never imagine doing this.
Across the street from Oslo central station, UFF is the best place to go for old Norwegian knit sweaters and 80's ski jackets. I've always enjoyed European op shops and Norway has a very long tradition of knitting with wool using unique patterns. With Oslo winters sometimes getting 30 degrees colder than your average Auckland winter's day, I'd be dead without layers of wool.
Right near my apartment, this little park is on a hill right by the river and is a great place for a picnic in the summer and to shred the rails in winter.
This is actually in Asker, 20 mins west of Oslo, and it's a great place to swim. The city has installed a 3-tiered diving platform at 3, 5 and 10 metres. I'm still too nervous to jump off the highest one.
It's still very hard to get used to the idea of the sea being freezing. Even in documentaries about Antarctica the ocean water is still flowing freely. But in Oslofjord, this isn't the case. The ocean freezes and you can walk and ski on it or just kick it with your boots.
Thanks Ryan - we would love to visit Oslo and experience all it has to offer!