My lovely Snail Mail Collective partner for October, Brittani from Linen & Lace, sent me this gorgeous bunting from her online store as part of our exchange, as well as that sweet little ceramic pumpkin up there ^ - the perfect gift, just in time for Thanksgiving!

I love the idea of Thanksgiving but sadly it's not something we really celebrate here in the UK, which means no day off & no time to rustle up a turkey feast with pumpkin pie for afters! Boo!

However, there is always time to be thankful and this year I am thankful for:

  • My friends & family, their health, my health, and being able to keep a roof over my head.
  • My other half and how wonderful life is with him.
  • The home that we are building together, and the plans we're making for our future.
  • My Dad's incredible fight every day, meaning he is still here years after they said he wouldn't be.
  • Our year of travel & new adventures, and finally seeing places we'd always dreamed of seeing.

Next year is set to be an exciting one too & I am thankful for all the things I have to look forward to!

What are you thankful for this year?

My Family

Harrods at Christmas

Until last July I worked on Brompton Road, just a few doors down from Harrods. This made the Harrods building quite a big part of my daily commute and I grew quite fond of seeing it almost daily - especially when finishing work late at night and it was all lit up. I miss walking past it some days, admiring the window displays and seeing the new ones the day they were revealed. Though, as great as that was, I definitely don't miss trying to navigate past great hoards of tourists on my way to work. No-Siree!

Now, if there is one time of the year that you have to see the Harrods windows, it's Christmas. Living in London is even better at Christmas!

This year's window display is a homage to the classic British steam train, with each window transformed in to a train carriage, pulled along by The Harrods Christmas Express (below).
The details as usual are incredible, with moving landscapes in each carriage window, giving the impression that the train is really in motion (it even passes through a fictional Knightsbridge train station).

Harrods certainly haven't disappointed - the Gatsby-esque craze of this year is evidently still in full swing, with each window decked out in a gloriously opulent, 1920s style. In fact, the mannequin above could almost be Daisy Buchanan!

Harrods is always one of the first places I'll go to start getting in the mood for Christmas - my first stop is to see the windows (because, well, aren't they fantastic?!), then it's on to the Christmas shop (Harrods' Christmas World opens in July but for any sane person that's just far too early), via the Toy & Pet Kingdoms, obviously.

I loved these Lego creations, the Harrods doorman is a regular feature in the Toy Kingdom, but for Christmas there is the new addition of an awesome Lego Santa, just outside the Christmas World.

A tradition now in it's 6th year for us, is to always buy a decoration (or two) from the Harrods Christmas World for our tree. This year's new additions are a Schnauzer Santa (amazing!) & a Harrods 2013 star.

So, this isn't Christmassy, or Harrods, but this adorable little mint green car was parked just outside and I couldn't resist taking a picture - it's so pretty!

Reasons to be cheerful - October

  • Our last full day in Germany.
  • Andrew’s homemade apple pie and fresh fig & almond cake. Mmmm...
  • My new favourite (bumble bee) jumper & ladybird socks.
  • My succulents sprouting flowers - check out those beauties on the Bear Paw!
  • Lots of sushi at Yo! Sushi. Mmm again...
  • Sunflower seed & rye bread with goats cheese spread - so good!
  • Another unexpected trip back to the Isle of Man.
  • Meeting & having a cuddle with my friend’s new baby, Lewis.
  • Saturday morning breakfast at Gopher’s – a tradition when I’m home.
  • The blueberry & walnut scone, with jam & cream, that I had there.
  • Seeing my Poppy dog - I miss the little lady terribly!
  • Filling my lungs with fresh Manx air.
  • Driving over the mountain with the morning sun turning everything golden.
  • Singing along to Common People with my Dad.
  • Laughing uncontrollably about farts with my Dad…
  • Making the change from Guides to Brownies.
  • The Puppy Training Class that uses the hall after the Brownie meeting.
  • My first attempt at pumpkin carving in a very long time.
  • Finally finishing the pictures from our US holiday!
  • Grandma’s Sunday lunch - it doesn’t get much better than that!
Watched/Read/Listened to/Visited:

  • Modern Family season 3 & 4 - I am in love with Phil Dunphy.
  • Catching up on Community & How I Met Your Mother.
  • The Richard Rogers Exhibtion at The Royal Academy.
  • The Residenz in Munich, Germany - so many pretty gold things...
  • Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures - we had tickets to watch but sadly arrived too late :-(

To look forward to in November:
  • Andrew’s birthday
  • Andrew’s birthday cake
  • Eating Andrew’s birthday cake
  • Cake
  • Ruarri Joseph gig
  • The Harrods’ Christmas windows & Christmas shop
To do in November:
  • Make a start on my Brother’s Christmas present (In September I thought "ahh, it's aaages until Christmas, i've got loads of time!" it's looking very probable that I'll be buying The Book of Mormon tickets...)
  • Make a start on Andrew’s Christmas present.
  • Finally finish making the stockings I started 2 years ago…
  • Ditto with the Advent Calendar… I am rubbish.
  • Plan Andrew’s birthday cake - we’re talking blue prints here!

Afternoon Tea at The Modern Pantry, The Barbican Estate & Postman's Park

In August, Andrew surprised me with a day out to The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell for Afternoon Tea, something I'd wanted to do for a very long time (and something that was on my 25 before 25 list).*

The Modern Pantry is in Clerkenwell, Central London and is housed in a gorgeous townhouse, with window boxes full of colourful flowers on the outside. The large windows also provide lots of beautiful natural light inside, giving the pantry a lovely atmosphere.

The Afternoon Tea (for 2) is served on a mis-match of crockery with the traditional three tier cake stand as the centre piece. Exactly what you'd expect for a proper Afternoon Tea!

Some of the goodies we were presented with on our visit included: sandwiches filled with salmon & avocado or feta cheese & sun-dried tomato, turmeric scones, green tea scones, green tea sponge with a white chocolate & pomegranate topping, rosewater & sour cherry brownies (amazing!) and a fruity pot with cream & a pistachio-biscuity-slice-thing - as well as a choice of loose leaf teas.

Everything was sublime! We took our time, making sure to savour every last bite. My favourite was definitely the rosewater and sour cherry brownie, oh my it was incredible! *swoooon*

After our Afternoon Tea we wandered over to The Barbican Estate to explore. The Barbican Estate was built in the 1960/70's and is a residential estate in the City of London.

The Estate is a prominent example of British Brutalist architecture - which is typically very linear and fortresslike, often blockish and predominantly made of concrete. It is a Grade II listed building, considered a landmark and is home to three of London's tallest residential towers (42 storeys to be precise).

It really is a beautiful space, with it's sunken gardens, fountains and balconies lined with brightly coloured flowers - a lovely contrast against the concrete.
Also housed within the Estate is The Barbican Centre - a performing arts centre where music concerts, theatre performances, art exhibitions and film screenings are hosted. Other notable features include: a public library, three restaurants, a conservatory, and when we visited - ping pong tables! It should come at no surprise that living in the Barbican Estate does not come cheap!

After the Barbican, we ventured over to Postman's Park - a park in Central London, named to reflect its popularity with workers from the General Post Office HQ nearby.
Since 1900 the park has been home to George Frederic Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a commemoration of ordinary people who lost their lives saving others.

Following the death of both George and his wife Mary the memorial was abandoned half finished, with proposals for new names continuously rejected by the Watts Gallery. Until June 2009 that is, when the first plaque for 78 years was added. The plaque was added for Leigh Pitt who died in June 2007, aged 30, while rescuing a young boy from drowning in a canal in Thamesmead. The Diocese of London have now said that they will consider any suitable names to be added in the future.

It is so interesting to read all the plaques, and to think of all the people who gave their lives to save others is very humbling.

This was a truly perfect way to spend a Saturday in Central London, away from all the bedlam of the shops and bumper to bumper traffic!

*Afternoon Tea at The Modern Pantry is served from 3-5pm, Monday to Saturday and it's advisable to make a reservation, especially if you're planning to go on a Saturday; the pantry was consistently full while we were there.