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Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

Monday, 17 November 2014

Owl Guy: Buying a flat!

Renovation ideas London

As Candy has previously mentioned we are currently at one of those big life landmarks, becoming homeowners. But before we get into all the fun posts about interior decorating I am going to talk about the joy of actually trying to buy a house, or at least our experience. Now a quick disclaimer, this is by no means a generalisation, merely how it went down for us.

We started looking for places about a year ago, it was pretty disheartening initially since we had wanted to try and find something near our flat in South London. However, we quickly realised that London house prices being what they are we had no hope of finding something nice. We started looking at other areas and while much of London is painfully expensive there are lots of nice areas that are much more reasonable. After putting in a few offers on various places and getting outbid we put in an offer on a little place by London City Airport, we really liked it, super cute and a really interesting location (great for Candy’s love of aeroplanes). After quite a nailbiting wait the bank approved our mortgage application and we thought everything was going to work out. Alas upon the bank valuing the property they decided it wasn’t worth as much as we had offered and so they wouldn’t give us as much money as we needed which meant that we couldn’t go ahead with the purchase. We were pretty devastated at the time and did a lot of “grieving”, but in hindsight it seems to have worked out for the best.

After that, getting back into the house hunting game was pretty hard. It is hard to psych yourself up about something after a disappointment like that, but we did and after a few weeks break we started looking again. Around the end of March I went to a viewing in a Victorian terrace conversion flat, it was in pretty bad condition, woodchip wallpaper and artex everywhere and the kitchen ceiling was falling down, but it felt like with a bit (or it turns out, A LOT) of work it could be really nice. I got Candy to come and take a look and she totally agreed (yay!). Anyway, then began negotiations… Now I won’t get into too much detail here but the lease on the flat was short (which in the business means less than 80 years apparently…) and so we agreed that we would buy the flat only if they extended the lease first (because otherwise the bank wouldn’t give us a mortgage… notice a recurring theme). The seller agreed and so we were all set, we got the mortgage approved and were expecting to complete by the end of June, but wait! The lease! It turns out extending a lease is a painfully frustrating legal process... Coupled with all the lawyers going on summer holidays, we didn’t actually get the lease sorted until the end of October! So finally, about 5 months of constant emails and phonecalls we had bought a house!

So now we are in the process of renovating it so we can move in, I won’t give away any of the interior decor, since that will be in other posts, but I will say that watching the transformation is incredible. So watch this space, we are hoping to move in by Christmas and it will be the best present after what has been a completely exhausting year!

"Owl Guy" is a (nearly) monthly series written by my husband Dan, in which he chats about what we've been up to recently!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

South London, I'm going to miss you!

South London love

As I mentioned recently, this week is going to be our last week in Camberwell. By the end of this week, we'll be living with Dan's parents near Cambridge. When we return to London, it will be to the North East of the city, so we are going to have to wave goodbye to this excellent area. Today, we wandered around a bit, and I took some photos of things I'm going to miss. I also collected a few older photos together, and we're just going to have a tiny jaunt down memory lane. Or... I am going to, anyway. You're just going to have to humour me as I get into one of my special nostalgic moods. These photographs aren't necessarily the most beautiful, but they show bits and pieces that I am going to miss about this area.

Jerk Chicken shack
South London nail bar
Night time in South London
Wintery London trees
Urban fire escape

There's so much I could say about living in South London. I've lived in a lot of places, but South London has been one of the most interesting. There's always something going on but the transport links here can be a bit crap. While you can get most places by tube (London Underground) in central London, the further South you go, the fewer train and tube stations there are, which means that I ended up spending a lot of time on the bus. I've heard a lot of snobbish comments about London buses in the past, but I've always found them to be a fantastic way to see the city. Teaching in South London schools, I've had insights into parts of the London cultural landscape that I never would have been able to experience otherwise. In the time I worked in Camberwell Library, I got to interact with people of all ages from the local community, from the tiny little old lady who'd come in with a sack of overdue books over her shoulder and go, "Sorry these are late, I broke my pelvis last week..." to the kids whose parents would drop them off at the library first thing on a Saturday morning, and pick them up when the library closed in the evening.

Near our flat, we've had a gorgeous park where we've been on rainy jogs, outfit photo expeditions, and plenty of disastrous barbecues... we spent a scary evening watching lightning strike in the park, as a group of teenagers partied on the hill in front of us. Dan tried to learn to rollerblade in the park, and we've eaten many an ice cream there this summer. I used to walk through the park every Saturday morning on my way to the library.

The month before we moved to our flat, there were some really serious riots in London. We were in Australia with my grandparents when this was happening, watching the stories unfold on the news. My London geography was pretty bad at the time, so I assumed that it wasn't going on near our new flat. When we moved in, all of the shop windows on the high street were boarded up and people weren't really leaving their houses much. There were burn marks and puddles of melted plastic on the pavement and it wasn't a pretty sight. Over the next three years, the businesses mostly rebuilt themselves, people came together to support each other and the main road is getting more and more bustling by the day.

It's an interesting time to be living in Camberwell. It's getting more expensive to live here, and a lot of people (ourselves included) have been priced out of the area. This kind of gentrification can be 'great for the area' but very damaging for communities. I really hope that the communities in the area spanning Elephant&Castle and Camberwell can thrive and survive the changes that are coming.

South London, it's been real. It's not been the best three years of my life, but it's been interesting and very, very eventful! I'm going to look back on my time here very fondly, and I'm definitely coming back to visit a few of my favourite little shops and cafes here!

Walworth Shadows

How long have you lived where you live now? How has it changed in the time that you've lived there?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cool Cats' Café - the coolest café in Camberwell!

cafe review london

There are so many amazing cafés in London these days. Coffee culture has taken off here in a big way, and it's only going to get bigger, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it seems as if there's a gorgeous café with incredible home baked pastries on every street corner in this city, and a lot of them have a queue coming out of the door. That said, I don't think that there's enough love for cafés south of the river - there are some absolutely incredible family-run businesses in South London, but there's a misconception that everything south of Borough Market is some kind of barren wasteland full of bin-fires, rancid chicken shops, and people using their own shoes as telephones to the beyond... Basically, what I'm trying to say is that people are scared of South London, which is a massive shame.

I've lived in Camberwell for three years now, and I've visited a fair few cafés in the area. However, I actually only discovered Cool Cats' Café when I was frantically googling somewhere close to where we live that we could visit with my in-laws, since Dan's Mum is super allergic to our cat and can't come into our house! It has only just occurred to me when writing this that it was maybe a bit of an odd thing to do, to take someone who is allergic to cats, to a café named after cats. Oh well.

After a leisurely walk through the park and past a bustling baptist church, we found the Cool Cats' Cafe to be a perfect brunch escape. Dan's Dad was happy with the up-tempo jazz music that was playing, and I really loved how light and airy the place was. Dan and his Dad both chose the Camberwell Breakfast, which was a totally home made Full English Breakfast, right down to the baked beans. Dan's Mum had Eggs Florentine and I had Eggs Benedict - I'm pretty sure the hollandaise sauce was home made too, and it was absolutely decadent. I got chatting to Roger who helps run the place, and he recommended sprinkling a few drops of tabasco sauce on the top which was INCREDIBLE.

south london cuppa
fry up south london
family brunch cafe review

After we'd eaten, Dan and his parents had a lot of stuff to discuss about the logistics of us moving back to stay with them for a couple of months, as well as the new flat we'll be moving into when we come back to London, so while they got on with those discussions, I took the chance to snap a few photos around the café. We were lucky to be visiting at a strange time of morning, so there weren't too many people around. I chatted more with the people who worked at the café and they told me about all of the art exhibitions they've hosted, and some of the awesome live music events they hold in the evenings. I'd absolutely love to go back to experience the café in its restaurant incarnation because I can imagine that the ambiance is really different but just as comfortable and laid-back. The dinner and cocktail menus look really good.

bar glasses dof
cafe idea south london
cafe cool gig events
camberwell arts scene

Initially, I was going to write, "if you're in the area, you should visit Cool Cats' Café", but I'm going to revise that. I actually think that this place is worth travelling for. The people who work there are really helpful and kind, the food is gorgeous, and it strikes this fantastic balance between hearty south london fry up and modern sophisticated hangout. My in-laws loved it, Dan loved it, I loved it, and I think you would probably love it too. South London, I'm really going to miss you. <3

dancing chef picture

Cool Cats' Café can be found at 149 Southampton Way, Camberwell, SE5 7EW. If you go, tell them I sent you!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

A jolly jaunt to Portobello Road

Portobello Weekend

At about midnight on Friday night I decided that I wanted to go to a market on Saturday morning. Since it has been almost three years since I made it to one of my favourites, Portobello Road market, we decided that it was as good a time as any to visit again. I love to mooch about on the side streets to look at the beautiful houses, and squeeze into the crowded vintage shops to ogle the gorgeous dresses on sale. Dan was excited about all of the food stalls, so we hopped on the bus to see what we could find.

UK Modcloth order
Deschanel dress modcloth
Electric cinema neon sign

After battling through the crowds (oh gosh, why did I think Saturday was a good time to come to Portobello Road?! Whyyy?!) we ducked into the Electric diner which is attached to the Electric cinema. Dan and I shared the best burger I've ever eaten in my life, and some truly spectacular avocado/poached egg toast, as well as skin-on fries with garlic mayo. Oh and a peanut butter and banana milkshake that was so incredible that even avid banana-hater Dan loved it. I didn't manage to take any photos of the food because the lighting inside the restaurant was so... ambient... that any food photography would not have done the meal justice at all. Once we were full to the brim, we popped back outside to walk it off a bit in the sunshine. I do love Portobello Road and all of its mad stalls and shops. My only problem is that I ALWAYS end up with the Portobello Road song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks stuck in my head whenever I go!

colourful houses in London
ginger fringe hairstyle
kirby grip toolkit

I know my elbow looks a bit backwards in that last photo. I've got hypermobile elbows due to my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I might write a post about that at some point in the future, if anyone's interested in hearing more about my creepy bendy tricks. More importantly though, LOOK AT MY HAIR CLIP! It has tools built into it. I'm so excited about it that I have a whole other blog post lined up all about it! So watch this space. My dress is six years old from Modcloth, and my shoes are from last year's ankle boot collection at Office. Hurrah! Anyway, we had a lovely day out, and returned home so thoroughly exhausted that we had to have a nap on the sofa with our little cat. I hope you had a wonderful weekend - what did you get up to?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

What happened this Spring?

summer london bus
Since Summer is truly underway, I thought I'd do a little round-up of what went on in the world of Owl Girl this Spring, to give you a chance to catch up! All the images are clickable and will take you to other posts! :)
I spent most of my time in London, trying out some cafes such as the Vintage Emporium in Shoreditch, and several Ice Cream parlours around the city. Check out my Top 5 Ice Creams in London if you're in need of some cool and satisfying icy goodness this summer, and if you're a tourist, check out my tips for tourists in London.
Oddono’s gelato review
yellow tights for summer

I blogged about the bubbles at our wedding, as well as why we had a costume change in the middle. This Sunday it is our one year anniversary, and we're going to Oslo for a minibreak to celebrate. Stay tuned for some epic blog posts about our tiny holiday in Norway - it's going to be amazing.
wedding bubbles

I've done a couple of 'How-to' posts for you as well, including How to wrap a present for Easter (because eggs are soooooo last year, dahling) and How to make a Strawberry and Basil mojito syrup (your new favourite Summer drink?)
Strawberry basil Mojito
Easter gift wrap

We took a trip to Cambridge to see friends, and gatecrashed a champagne garden party all in one weekend, like true rock-and-rollers.
white people on a log
Bourgeois ridiculous

Finally, I had a life-changing salf-beef sandwich on the South Bank, and received a beautiful dress full of family history from my Grandma.
Southbank Bagel
Grandma's Vintage Dress

So, what does the future hold? Well, in addition to our little holiday next week, we've got a big house move coming up this summer, and plenty of home renovation things to look forward to as well as a whole new area of London to explore. Please stick around for all of my adventures! And if there are any posts you've particularly enjoyed this Spring, now is the time to let me know! What did you like? What do you want to see more of? TELL ME ALL THE THINGS.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

My Grandma's Dress

70s Vintage dress
A little while ago, one of my grandmothers sent me a dress in the post. She lives in Australia and I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I’d like to. In the parcel with the dress was a little note explaining that her sister had made the dress for her in the 70s, as she was going to be a bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding. She was going to get rid of it, when my mum suggested that she could send it to me.
As soon as I unwrapped, it, I tried it on straight away, and it fit perfectly. It’s so purple and patterned, and I can’t wait to wear it to some kind of picnic or barbecue, or other summery event. I love how 70s it is, and how different it is from anything I normally wear. Most of all, I like that it was my grandma’s, and that there isn’t another dress like it in the world.
Grandma's Vintage Dress
70s fashion in London
Genuine Vintage dress
Here’s my grandma and her friend who was getting married. What a classic photo, and how stunning they both look! I feel honoured to be giving this dress a new lease of life. I love hand-me-downs (or Hammydowns, as I once thought they were called. But that’s another story for another day…)
Old photo of Grandma
Posing like Grandma
Thank you Grandma Helen for this beautiful dress.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

A Salty Adventure on the South Bank!

Southbank Fun
Hey again chums! Like lots of 'Londoners' (I guess that's what I am now - eek!) I spend a lot of time on the South Bank. Lots of people feel like that's as far South in London as is acceptable, but I don't think that's true at all. Nevertheless, I love the South Bank - the atmosphere is bustling and there is always so much going on!
Dan and I decided to go on a little adventure to celebrate it being... the weekend... and thought it'd be great to start at Borough Market. I wanted to repeat my glorious experience with the Kappacasein grilled cheese, but the queue was unbelievably long, so we decided to get some Salt Beef sandwiches instead.
Salt Beef Borough Market
I mean, the queue for the Salt Beef was pretty darn long too, I'm not gonna lie... But much shorter than the cheese queue and once I saw all that melty, melty beef, I kinda forgot about anything else.
London Salt Beef
Bagel Man London
Salt Beef South Bank
Southbank Bagel
After partying on down with a delicious bagel and a soft rye bread sandwich, both filled to the brim (do sandwiches have brims?) with salt beef (or for Americans, Corned Beef - British Corned Beef is not the same as American Corned Beef. Confused yet?), we strolled along the river to the Tate Modern to mooch about with some free art. I've lost count of the number of times I've been to the Tate Modern, and I still adore it. It makes me feel like a tourist all over again, and that's an aspect of London that falls away fairly quickly once you live here!
Thames bridges
Southbank bubble performer
Look at those beautiful bubbles! Remember what I said about how there's always something going on? Also, bubbles are pretty much my all time favourite thing - Rainbows in ephemeral ball form? What more could you want!?
Satchel and Tweed London
Cambridge Satchel style idea

Scarf - Hobbs (a present from my mother-in-law)
Tweed Jacket - Zara (a present from my mother-in-...birth?)
Dress - GAP (this season! OMG am I fashionable yet?!)
Satchel - The Cambridge Satchel Company (another gift from the mother-in-law)
Tights - Somewhere in France (a gift from my Stepmother)
Shoes - Office (I bought these myself!)
APPARENTLY THIS WHOLE OUTFIT WAS PROVIDED BY MY MOTHER FIGURES...

Hobbs scarf style
I'm so interested to see how London's skyline will change over the next few years. There's an awful lot of cranes having a party out there, and who knows what the future will bring... I guess I'll just have to keep on blogging about it, eh? And to all my new readers - I'm super pleased you're here and very honoured indeed. It would be beyond excellent if you stuck around and introduced yourselves! I love making new friends :)London Skyline changing