The Lake District

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The beauty of the Lake District lies in the contrasts of its landscape. Wild, unruly weather, imposing mountains, and sheer cliff drops frame small, cobblestone-paved farming villages and pastoral hills sprinkled white with sheep and daisies. It’s no surprise that this landscape was a favourite with the romantic poets, who could revel in their closeness to nature on bracing winter walks on snow-tipped mountains, while no doubt later enjoying a comforting cup of Lady Grey by the cottage fire. Or, in Coleridge’s case, enjoying some comforting opium pills.

We started our hiking trip in the quaint village of Patterdale. We arrived quite late from London and since I had never been camping before, Josh suggested we spend the night at a nearby hostel. I was excited to set off however so, perhaps rather stupidly, we set off towards Angle-tarn Pikes as the sun was low in the sky.  It was an inauspicious start for my overly-excited self – we’d set off not half an hour earlier and I started to get vertigo on the very first leg off the walk; the path wasn’t even particularly steep, but it was quite narrow, and I kept having visions of slipping on the gravel or being stuck on the trail in the dark and out in the open. But I stuck close to the ground (Josh walked as if he was having a stroll in the park) and we got to the top of the hill to a stunning view of Angle Tarn as the sun was setting on the neon-blue water. We admired the scenery and looked for a dry spot to set up our tent. I was peeved that somebody had already nabbed the most picturesque spot to pitch theirs up- a little grassy peninsula that juts out into the tarn so that it looks like you’re on your very own little floating island! Next time, next time..

We woke up the next morning to a brisk and beautifully sunny morning. We made some much-needed hot coffee and bacon on our tiny gas stove and admired the tarn that was so clear and still it looked like a giant’s pretty mirror. We packed up and made our way around the tarn and towards Helvellyn, the Lake District’s highest peak. This part of our hike was the longest, most up-hill and most difficult of the whole trip. The best thing about the intense exercise of hiking up-hill while you’re carrying the combined weight of your tent, sleeping bag, clothes, cooking equipment, food etc etc is how it makes you really appreciate the small things you take for granted in daily life. Sitting down to rest on a jaggedy rock feels like being enveloped by a cloud while being fanned by cherubs, and eating chewy, overcooked pasta with Dolmio sauce from a sachet tastes like a three-course meal at a Michelin-star restaurant. As much as I love all types of travel, including leisurely city-breaks, this really was an amazing feeling.

The summit of our trail was the hole-in-the-wall look-out across Helvellyn and Red Tarn. From this point a lot of hikers continue their walk to Helvellyn along the famous Striding Edge trail – a very narrow, very rocky trail with steep drops on either side. Needless to say, just looking at it made me feel physically ill, so we took the long way around. We continued up to the High Street to find Josh’s ‘favourite spot’ from when he used to go to the Lake District as a kid. The spot looks out onto Haweswater lake and the rolling peaks and troughs of the hills that surround it. The area is so high-up and so vast that you can watch the shadows of the clouds as they dance across the hills. We sat here for a long time just admiring the view.

Our detour meant that we had to go off-piste and cut down to the Ullswater river valley below in order to make it back down by evening. Essentially this meant jumping a fence and sliding down a steep hill on my bum in front of a herd of bemused sheep. At the bottom we found probably the most picturesque scenery of the trip. The path northwards through Martindale and towards Sandwick took us past gnarled, beautiful Alder trees, bubbling brooks with natural stepping stones and every type of wildflower imaginable. Old stone cottages and hamlets reached by tiny bridges dotted the bucolic countryside. We found a deserted, forested spot by the river and pitched up our tent for the night.

The next morning we were invited to experience the other face of the Lake District. Grey skies and a light, intermittent drizzle while we fuelled up with coffee by the riverside turned into steady, torrential rain that despite waterproof gear, still had us soaked within no time. But we walked fast, and with the heat of the exercise and drama of the rain the walk ended up being really fun. The heavy rain, lush vegetation and waterfalls along the river made the atmosphere feel almost tropical. Running and laughing by the end, we eventually reached Patterdale. Drenched to the bone, we holed up by the the fireside at the White Lion Inn and had shepherds pie and chips.

Tips for hiking the Lake District:

    • We went in June, and although it was relatively warm in the day, it was freezing in the tent at night. I don’t think I slept for a minute the first night up on the hill. Never underestimate how cool it gets at night when on hills and bring plenty of warm gear/good sleeping bag. If you’re going as a couple I’d recommend getting a double sleeping bag so you can share body heat. I wish I’d known these existed at the time!
    • Not to freak anyone out, but if you do decide to hike Striding Edge then do it when the weather is good i.e. good visibility/not too windy. There are casualties every year, mostly due to bad weather.
    • Lots of water. We bought water purification tablets so we could fill up our water in springs but it tasted funny and never felt entirely full proof. Water filters are a better option. Failing that, you can always boil it if you’re bringing a portable stove.
    • And then the obvious stuff; good hiking boots/really thick socks!(seriously you’ll be in pain otherwise)/waterproof gear (including a waterproof case for your clothes in your rucksack- seems like overkill but trust me!) /good hiking map/first aid kit especially plasters and disinfectant for blisters/gas canisters for stove/energy-rich food and snacks.

The Lake District

Brick Lane

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Shearling coat – Vintage, I also love this one from ACNE Studios; Skirt – vintage from Rokit; Shirt – Oscar Milo; Hat – H&M; Shoes – Converse; Bag – Yves Saint Laurent vintage.

One of the best things about London is that here you can wear whatever you want and nobody will bat an eye. In fact, the general rule seems to be the weirder, the cooler. Continue reading “Brick Lane”

Brick Lane

Notting Hill

Dress – The Kooples; Bag – Paul’s Boutique London; Booties – Vintage; Bag Charms – DIY off an old bracelet

I had to do the obligatory fashion blogger shoot by the pastel-coloured houses in Notting Hill! It really is one of the loveliest areas of London. As I lived centrally getting on the n.7 bus to Notting Hill (so much nicer than the tube if you have the time and patience) seemed like a day out to a different town. I’ve always thought London was the best walking city out of all the European ones I’ve been to and Notting Hill is a great example. Wander along Portobello road for antiques, bric-a-brac and fresh flowers and food and on to Westbourne Grove for fancy shops, boutiques and brunch.

The quieter, residential back streets like the ones where I took these pictures are definitely worth a wander through, too. I went in the early afternoon on a sunny winter weekday. It was strangely mild so I thought I’d wear my new Kooples dress. I loved the sixties, almost Mod-London look of it and thought I’d pair it with these vintage booties I got in London a while ago. P.s. the dress is now 50% off!

Continue reading “Notting Hill”

Notting Hill

Covent Garden

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Jacket – Isabel Marant; Sweater – Lonsdale; Jeans – H&M; Boots – ASOS; Hat – H&M; Bag – Louis Vuitton.

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Lulu Guinness luggage goals

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A very Christmassy Covent Garden Market

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Rokit vintage store in Covent Garden

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Christmas decorations at the market

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Seven Dials

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My favourite vintage shop followed by my favourite Fish and Chip place in Covent Garden. It’s a good corner.

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The best place in Covent Garden in general (if you like cheese). The smell will either make you swoon or gag.

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A Monmouth coffee on Monmouth street with the Union Jack and a black cab. – Insert equivalent of ‘Murrica –

Jacket – Isabel Marant; Sweater – Lonsdale; Jeans – H&M; Boots – ASOS; Hat – H&M; Bag – Louis Vuitton.

If I had to call any one place in the world home, it would be Covent Garden. I’ve lived in lots of different places but Covent Garden has been the one constant – the place with the childhood streets and alleyways that I know like the back of my hand. It’s been really strange coming back after almost two years of being away – nostalgic but also so familiar. But while I used to battle head-down through the throngs of tourists I decided to live the few days I have at home as a tourist myself, and it’s opened my eyes to what an incredible place it is. The shops are definitely more commercial than they used to be – there used to be a doll’s house shop in the arcades whose demise I particularly like to moan about – but with the piazza and the cobblestone streets there is still an unmistakably ‘markety’ feel about it. Seven dials is my absolute favourite place – I love the boutiques and just the spot itself – it’s just so unique. (Oh, I just googled it and apparently there’s on in Brighton, too :-/) Anyway, as long as the Cheese shop in Neal’s Yard is always there, I’ll be happy.

Eating: Gabi’s deli – The place I always go to with my Dad. It has amazing hot salt beef and the best falafels and salad.

Neal’s Yard Dairy – You can’t eat in here but they’re always giving away free samples. I’m probably biased but I reckon It has some of the best cheese in the world. Just the smell makes me swoon.

Monmouth Coffee – Bloody amazing coffee. This is the chain’s original shop.

Covent Garden