London’s Hidden Villages: Brook Green

Ok, I’m about to let out a big secret.

We moved to London nearly 6 years ago, and first lived in Barbican, then Highgate. Lovely places, but neither quite clicked with me. I was missing something. It wasn’t until we moved to our current neighborhood that I fell in love with London!

Suddenly I was surrounded on all sides by darling houses, colorful doors and facades, and independent shops lining the high street. So I thought I’d spill the beans and let you in on one of London’s best kept hidden villages: Brook Green.

Just outside of zone 1, Brook Green is a little leafy neighbourhood nestled between Hammersmith, Holland Park, and Shepherds Bush. Family-friendly, the village centers around Masbro and Blythe Road with a few pubs, bakery, tea room, restaurants, and even a lovely clothing & toy shop. I’ll give some recommendations at the bottom of this post, if you’d like to see.

We have great schools in the neighborhood, a nice playground and dog park, and even a Saturday food market with great vendors and live music in good weather.

The location is perfect for great access to my favorite places in London. It’s a 15 minute tube ride to central London, a 10 minute bike ride to Notting Hill, and a 20 minute walk to the River Thames.

We moved here right before I had our second baby. I spent so many days taking slow walks and noticing all the small details around the neighborhood. First pushing a newborn in a buggy, and eventually slowly following a new toddling walker around the neighborhood (always looking for kitties wandering – her favorite then and still today!). This neighborhood, with its sweet pink houses definitely was an inspiration for London is Pink. Actually, I wonder what would have happened if we’d never stumbled onto Brook Green!

And with that introduction, I think it’s time I show you around the neighbourhood!

My neighbourhood recommendations

Cafes | Gails Bakery, Betty Blythe Tea Room, Farina & More – all serving their own twist on sandwiches, salads, cakes, and coffee. Betty Blythe does vintage afternoon tea parties, too, definitely worth looking into if you are after something special for a celebration.

Restaurants/pubs | Bird in Hand – Stylish and cozy interiors with pizzas and european small plates, Pentolina – Casual Italian in a beautiful setting

Shops | Scandi Mini – a lovely childrens clothing and toy shop, and they just started carrying unique womens brands and homewares, too. Lovely place to window shop, and I always come away with something special.

My Guide to Surviving January in London (or anywhere)

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It’s cold and dark outside.

I’ve just recovered from the flu.

I’m endlessly searching warm places to holiday.

It must be January! Do you feel it?

I’ve never been particularly good at January, but especially since moving to London where it’s dark and the weather is often grey/rainy, I’m not the easiest person to be around this month. I tend to turn inwards, stay inside, and generally dream of being somewhere else.

We moved here from Washington DC in September 5 years ago, and that January was the hardest on record. I was lonely, getting used to being a stay at home mom for the first time, and to top things off I had two miscarriages in a row right before Christmas. It was a rough entry, and I just don’t regard January as a good month since that year.

BUT. I am trying to turn that around this year. There are a few things I’ve found that help me get out of my January funk, so I wanted to share.

  1. Go for a morning walk. As tempting as it is to crawl back into bed after the school run, instead I make plans for a walk through one of my favorite neighborhoods. I try to do one walk a week in winter (Hampstead is up next) because though it can be cold, I feel alive and that winter light is stunning.
  2. Schedule a breakfast or lunch with friends. Food is always going to get me out of the door. Somewhere light and airy is always good, with a good coziness factor, too, because hey it’s January.
  3.  Make travel plans for the year. This year we have our sights set on visiting the US with the kids, which will cut into a big portion of our travel budget, but it’s been too long since seeing family and reconnecting with our roots (aka visiting Target and going to an American movie theatre for buttered popcorn). I’m also looking at Morocco and Egypt, as my 7 year old has been asking to see the pyramids and camels for the past 2 years. We’re also planning on doing a bit of UK travel, too, as I’m planning on finally being able to drive again once I pass my driving test.
  4. Hang up new art on the walls. There’s something about a house refresh that gives me all the good energy. I love to find digital prints on etsy and print off through a local printer for an inexpensive change to my gallery wall.
  5. Buy new plants. We’re lucky in the UK to have a few good plant delivery services, and Patch Plants is one of them. I’ve just ordered a chinese money plant which are so peppy and happy, just the kind of plant I need for our coffee table.

This list isn’t exhaustive, just a few things I’ve done recently that have helped me shake off my January doldrums. I’d love to hear what you do to make the most of these winter months!

My new favorite skincare line for travel (and home)

I’d been aware of the cult status of Bioderma skin products, but until a few weeks ago hadn’t tried out any of their products. When Bioderma contacted me to try their sensitive skin line, I was excited because I’d been looking for a change in my skin care. IMG_5410.JPG

July was full of travel and as it turned out, a massive lower back injury that put me in the hospital and left me bedridden. On my trip to Mexico, I used the travel-sized versions of the micellar water, which left my skin feeling SO fresh and clean. Because you never know how hard or soft the water is when traveling, it was nice not to worry about how the water would affect my skin since I relied on the micellar water for my sensitive skin.

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I threw my back out last week, a few days after returning from Mexico (great timing!), and it’s been a nightmare. But while I’ve been bedridden, I have been using the make-up remover wipes to freshen up and they’ve honestly been a lifesaver! They’ve made me feel human during this time where I’ve relied on other people for everything. EVERYTHING. It’s nice to have something I can do for myself – a little self care when I need it the most.

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I get the cult status now, I absolutely love Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O line! After trying MANY products, and drying my face out with other make-up removal face wipes, I can definitely tell the quality of this line. From now on, you won’t find me travelling without it.

You need a pink sofa (YNAPS)

Dear everyone,

It’s 2018 and if you don’t have a pink sofa, then what are we all even doing here? You’ve been thinking about it, haven’t you? It’s time. I can help. Let me be your pink sofa yogi.

This is what you need: a snuggle sofa/chair, perfect for a reading nook or snuggling up with your instagram machine (judgement-free zone) and I have SCOURED the internet for just the right shapes, sizes, fabrics for the pink reading chair of your dreams. The thing is, with pink furniture, you can end up in grandma territory quickly. If that’s what you want, then I am not here to squash your dreams: GO FOR IT. But I’m all about the clean and modern lines WITH the added bonus of being really comfortable. Style AND substance. I want it all.

Here’s the round-up:

DFS Zinc Velvet Cuddler Sofa – £799

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This has to be one of my favourites. I originally found it from the brilliant Gold is a Neutral and I cannot get over the perfect size, the squish, the snuggle factor, and that perfectly pink velvet. It’s everything you need, and it’s currently on sale for £799. Should I get it already?

IKEA Soderhamn – £195

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This cheap as chips cutie is hard to beat. Very modern, but still soft and squishable. I did lots of research on its comfort levels and have been assured it is, in fact, very lounge-worthy. I love the sweet pale pink and low impact, and the assurance that I can probably move it myself if the rearranging bug kicks in. It also comes as a corner piece or armchair for a hundred quid more.

Maison du Monde ICEBERG – £395

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I’ve had my eye on this one for months. It’s been in and out of the shopping cart for months, until I finally accepted that it’s slightly bigger than the space we have. It would be perfect for a small living room or a conservatory. I’ve read reviews of it being slightly firm, but I think that could be remedied with lots of pillows, as styled in the photo above.

Loaf Crumble Snuggler – £1449

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We have a loaf sofa and it is THE BEST sofa investment we’ve made (and we’ve made a lot, thanks to my past sins of indecisiveness and regret). It’s snuggly and perfect for curling up, and Loaf has amazing customer service, too. I would love to snuggle up in this cutie every single day. When I find that extra £1449 laying around, I will be first in line at Loaf!

Loaf Slim Jim Loveseat – £1249 – £1449 depending on fabric

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This Loaf loveseat is winning me over with the clean lines, and the squish factor. Also, I get a laugh seeing the slippers posed next to the chair. Yes, that is the life I want, please.

Swoon Kalmar Loveseat – £799

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This scandi-inspired loveseat has me going crazy. I love the elegant lines and tapered legs. Somehow they’ve made it squishy and modern all at once! WITCHCRAFT.

Swoon Kalmar Armchair – £649

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The smaller version of the above. Still big enough to snuggle up, still squishy, still a fan!

 

If you have a favorite to share, leave in the comments…