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UK Travel | The Artist Residence, Cornwall

Please note: my stay at the Artist Residence and meal at Fraser’s Fish & Chips were complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Last Saturday, Mum and I checked into The Artist Residence hotel on Chapel Street in Penzance. We’d both previously stayed at the Artist Residence branch in Oxfordshire, and I’d had breakfast at their London hotel, so I was excited to spend a night in their Cornwall base.

I always admire the fun, slightly quirky decor that’s a hallmark of the Artist Residence hotels, and the Penzance location is no exception. We were booked into a comfy luxe room, which boasted a comfy double bed and one of the most spectacular bathtubs I’ve seen!

I had the most blissful bath on Sunday, when I started my birthday morning luxuriating in a long, relaxing soak. It was a perfect way to start the day! The bath was wonderfully deep, and I was overjoyed that bubble bath was provided. I’ve noticed that too often hotels don’t provide bubble bath, even if they have spectacular tubs! Bramley products were stocked throughout the hotel, and I really liked their combination of floral and herbal scents.

As well as the bath, there was also a spacious shower, discreetly hidden by a wooden sliding door. I loved the way the decor had a seaside-feel, with the use of reclaimed wood and a blue and white colour scheme. There were also plenty of treats stocked in the mini basket ‘larder,’ as well as complimentary tea, coffee, bottled water and biscuits provided.

After checking into our room on the Saturday night, Mum and I decided to wander down to the bar to take advantage of the nightly happy hour, when 2-4-1 cocktails are offered. The bar and lounge area is very cosy, with a mix of sofas, benches and velvet chairs. We found some comfy chairs by the window and sipped on our drinks – a Bellini for Mum and a strawberry Aperol Spritz for me.

After finishing our cocktails, we made our way to Fraser’s Fish and Chips restaurant, where we had a table booked. Fraser’s is an adorable spot  with spectacular views, as it’s located on Penzance’s promenade. I loved its retro decor and bright, cheerful colour scheme that was perfect for a seaside location. My stomach reminded me I was hungry as the delicious aroma of fish and chips wafted through the air, and I eyed the appetising looking plates in front of fellow diners.

I have a real weakness for scampi, and I’d been told they were very good at Fraser’s, so I ordered a scampi and chips and Mum went for a more traditional haddock and chips. I also horrify my family (and most other people I know!) by loving mushy peas, so I ordered a side portion. We washed everything down with two pots of regular tea – I don’t think fish & chips would be the same without a good brew!

Our meal was fantastic; both Mum and I agreed it was the best scampi/fish and chips we’d had for a long time. My scampi was deliciously crisp on the outside, but not in the least rubbery within, and I tried some of Mum’s haddock, which tasted beautifully fresh and had a light, thin batter that wasn’t too greasy – perfect! Fraser’s pride themselves on their ethically sourced and caught fish, and it’s clear that a great deal of attention goes into making their fish & chips as delicious as possible, whilst supporting sustainable fishing practices.

There’s nothing like classic fish & chips when you’re right by the sea, and it was a great choice for a cool autumnal evening. The service was excellent – friendly and very attentive, which always adds so much to the experience of a good meal. I’ll definitely be returning to Fraser’s when I’m next in Penzance and in the mood for fish and chips!

~

The Artist Residence, Cornwall

Room rates at the Artist Residence in Penzance  are from £85 per night.  To book a room, please visit here, or call 020 3019 8610

Fraser’s Fish & Chips, Cornwall

Take away or dine in. To view the menu and/or book a table, visit here or call 01736 339581

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

Please note: my meal at Tolcarne Inn was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tolcarne Inn is situated in Newlyn Harbour, just a 20 minute walk (or 5 minute taxi ride) from our B&B, Chapel House. Newlyn is still a working fishing village in Cornwall, and much of the fresh fish we enjoyed in restaurants during our stay was caught in Newlyn, just a few hours before being served to hungry diners.

I adore fish and seafood, so it’s always a big treat to me to enjoy it whenever I go to Cornwall. After our long train journey from London, Mum and I had worked up quite an appetite, so, after checking in to Chapel House,  we were excited to set off for dinner at Tolcarne Inn. On arrival, I  was immediately delighted by the beautiful building, which dates from 1717 and looks like it could be in a Daphne du Maurier novel!

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

Tolcarne Inn nestles against the wall of Newlyn Harbour, and the restaurant is renowned for its innovative, predominately seafood-based menu and snug, laid-back atmosphere. Head Chef, Ben Tunnicliffe, has been in Cornwall since 2001 and held a Michelin Star at The Abbey in Penzance, before going on to oversee the launch of the menu at The Scarlet Hotel.

Ben took over the Tolcarne in 2012, and its reputation has grown from strength to strength over the years, with Ben focusing on working closely with fishermen to ensure the best catch of the day. A Michelin Bib Gourmand (awarded for exceptional food at affordable prices) has been retained by the Tolcarne since 2013, and it’s easy to see why, as the menu, although fairly short, offers a spectacular array of local produce and seafood.

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

We were given a table right by the window and ordered a couple glasses of Cornish sparkling wine as we read the daily specials chalked on a large board above the bar. The wine was delicious – dry and light – and it added just the right celebratory fizz to our evening.

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

After toasting to a fabulous weekend ahead of us, and the start of Mum’s annual holiday, we turned our minds to the important question of what to eat. Both of us adore scallops, so it wasn’t surprising that neither of us could resist seared scallops in a spiced squash veloute with yoghurt and toasted seeds.

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

Our knives went through our scallops as smoothly as though they were cutting butter, and I don’t think I’ve ever had scallops served as unusually and deliciously before! Swimming in the rich, spicy sauce, the shellfish still managed to maintain their sweet flavour that paired well against the robustness of the squash. A drizzle of yoghurt cut the spice nicely, and the toasted seeds added interesting texture as well as a pleasantly nutty taste.

Next, I’d ordered fillet of brill with garlic, mushrooms, runner beans and gnocchi. Mum went for fillet of plaice with peas, smoked bacon, lettuce, mascarpone, mint, and potatoes. We also ordered a couple glasses of a delicious chardonnay to accompany our main courses.

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, CornwallUK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

My main dish was absolutely fantastic; I loved the autumnal, earthy flavours of the garlicky mushrooms. They were a great choice with the brill which is quite a meaty, deeply flavourful fish. The runner beans were light and fresh, and the large, baked gnocchi were decadently scrumptious. I polished off every wonderful mouthful! Mum was equally pleased with her plaice, a much more delicate, subtlety flavoured  fish, wish she said was fabulous with the peas, bacon, lettuce and creamy sauce.

We were tempted to the same choice again for dessert and ordered the whole orange and polenta cake with blueberries, cardamom, poached apricot and vanilla ice-cream.

UK Travel | Tolcarne Inn, Cornwall

I always think of Claudia Roden’s famous recipe whenever I see whole orange cake on a menu, and I think the Tolcarne Inn’s version more than did her justice! Our cake was moist with a fabulous citrus flavour  and just a hint of cardamom that married perfectly with the apricot, vanilla and blueberry sauce.

We rounded off our meal with a cup of coffee for Mum and a peppermint tea for me and sat chatting for a little while before heading back to our B&B. I was so impressed by Tolcarne Inn and can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re in the area. I wish I’d known about it when I visited Penzance last October with my Dad and Grandmother, as they would have thoroughly enjoyed it too, but now it’s on my radar, I’ll definitely be returning whenever I’m back in Cornwall!

~

Tolcarne Inn, Newlyn, Cornwall

To book a table, visit www.tolcarneinn.co.uk or call 01736 363074

UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall

UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall

Please note: my stay at Chapel House was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Last weekend, I turned 32, and I was so excited to be in Cornwall to celebrate my birthday. I took my Mum with me, and we had such a fun time revisiting many of our favourite Penzance haunts. I’ve now been to Penzance quite a few times, but it never grows old, and it’s become one of my favourite holiday destinations in the UK.

As always when I step off the train at Penzance train station, the incredible Cornish light, as well as the scent of sea air, is what instantly hits me. That special quality of light in Cornwall isn’t just a myth; there is undeniably something special in the way the sunshine bounces off the sea, and even on a grey day the muted greys, greens and blues of the landscape look like a watercolour painting captured by a true artist.

Chapel House B&B is one of the best places to experience the true glory of Cornish light. The rooms of this award-winning B&B always seem bathed in soft, gentle light, which streams through the spacious windows and makes it impossible not to want to snap a photo. I’d stayed at Chapel House about a year and a half ago (you can read my blog post from that visit here), and I was delighted to return last weekend to experience the newly built superior suite rooms.

UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall

Chapel House is located in the heart of Penzance on Chapel Street, a historic and picturesque stretch of Penzance that hosts a wide range of antique and secondhand book shops, as well as independent stores such as No.56 and End Paper. It’s my favourite street in Penzance, and Chapel House is nestled just at the bottom of the road with enviable views out to sea and the impressive St Michael’s Mount.

The newly built suites are situated just outside the main house, making them wonderfully private, and I was so impressed by our gorgeous accommodation, which had a large double bed downstairs, complete with a wardrobe and seating area. The bathroom was also located downstairs, with a gigantic, polished concrete shower space just behind the bed.

Upstairs, we were delighted by the comfy leather sofa, kitchen space with a breakfast bar looking out to Penzance harbour, and a fabulous log-burning stove that was laid ready for us to light. We put a match to the wood and enjoyed a roaring fire when we returned after a meal out later that evening. I also lit the candles thoughtfully arranged, and it felt the perfect ‘hygge’ moment, watching the firelight’s glimmer reflected in the big windows and chatting on the sofa with a cup of herbal tea.

UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, CornwallUK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall UK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, CornwallUK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, CornwallUK Travel | A Return to Chapel House, Cornwall

I was thrilled that our suite had some truly magnificent views, with two balconies built on both sides. On a sunny day, it would be lovely to have a cup of tea in the morning outside on the largest balcony and simply admire the view, but even on a rainy day, it was very pleasant to sit inside and watch the white caps of the tossing waves from our cosy sofa.

I always admire the interior design at Chapel House, and its owner, Susan, is incredibly gifted at blending the beauty of the natural world with modern design and comfort. I loved the use of exposed wood throughout our suite, and the way the huge windows and French doors made it easy to appreciate the spectacular Cornish landscape.

Although the suites are spacious and self-contained, it’s definitely worth spending a little time lingering over a book or newspaper in the main house too, as its two drawing rooms are so tranquil and elegant.

Being in Cornwall, of course I had to bring my favourite Daphne du Maurier novel with me! There are lots of books scattered about Chapel House, though, that guests are welcome to browse and read. I had a lot of fun admiring a collection of vintage Dickens novels and finding some quiet reading corners within the house.

After a restful night’s sleep, Mum and I made our way to the kitchen in the main house to enjoy a delicious Cornish breakfast: sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, black and white pudding, tomatoes and fried mushrooms. We were also given pots of tea and coffee and could help ourselves from a table piled high with fresh croissants, toast, fruit salad, yoghurt, granola, and freshly squeezed juices. Honestly, Chapel House does one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever tasted!

The kitchen dining room at Chapel House

As we munched our way through the feast, we had fun chatting with a couple and their parents who were also staying at the B&B. I loved hearing that the parents had first met at the Minack Theatre (not far from Penzance) a number of decades ago, and that, though they and their family were now based in London, Cornwall was still a very special place for them. I certainly hope I’ll still be enjoying holidays in Penzance in 40 years’ time!

Chapel House B&B, Cornwall – www.chapelhousepz.co.uk

Room rates for the Superior Suites at Chapel House are from £150 per night. These suites will be available to book from November 1st, 2018. In spring 2019, a hot tub, sauna and treatment room will also be opening for guests at Chapel House to enjoy. To book a room or suite, please visit www.chapelhousepz.co.uk, or call 07810020617 or 01736362024.

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Browse more of my travel posts about Penzance here.

Tea Reads: A Visit From the Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson

Listen to the latest Tea & Reads here.

My Tea Read choice for this Friday is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson called A Visit From the Sea. I’ve been inspired by my trip to Penzance (I’ll be travelling to Cornwall as this Tea Reads episode airs) to choose this poem, as there’s a fun connection between Robert Louis Stevenson and a Cornish pub in the area. Have a listen to the episode to find out more!

Tea & Tattle is also available to listen to on iTunes and stitcher.

Tea & Tattle: Emma Block Discusses the Joy of Watercolour

Tea & Tattle: Emma Block Discusses the Joy of Watercolour

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle here.

This Tuesday on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m joined by the author and illustrator Emma Block, to discuss Emma’s fantastic new book, The Joy of Watercolour. Emma started getting work as a freelance illustrator when she was only 17, and she’s gone on to develop a fantastic business and works full-time as a freelance illustrator in London.

Emma Block

Emma regularly teaches sold out water-colouring workshops in the city; I’ve been to a few of them and had such a fun time learning the basics of water-colouring and brush lettering.  Over the years, Emma has collaborated with many notable brands and fashion influencers, who love her highly recognisable, soft and feminine illustration style.

In August, Emma published her first book, The Joy of Watercolour, which shares tips and painting projects to help people get started with water-colouring, or to take their illustration practice to the next level. It’s a beautiful book, and I’ve been having a lot of fun working through Emma’s guides for beginners.

In today’s discussion, Emma tells me about the inspiration behind her book, what she’s learnt from teaching water-colouring classes to 100s of people, how to find your own unique illustration style, and how she’s developed different strands to her work as a freelance illustrator over time. This is a brilliant listen for anyone who loves water-colouring, or who are keen to give it a go for the first time and develop their own creativity.

Tea & Tattle is also available to listen to on iTunes and stitcher.

London Culture | Pinter at the Pinter, The Lover and The Collection

London Culture | Pinter at the Pinter, The Lover and The Collection

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘Pinter Two: The Lover / The Collection’ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Pinter at the Pinter is an exciting season of Harold Pinter’s one-act plays, which are being performed in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre until February. The plays are being put on as a tribute to Harold Pinter,  one of the greatest British playwrights of the 20th Century, on the 10th year anniversary of his death.

Twenty of these short plays are being produced, and a spectacular lineup of actors are performing throughout the season, including David Suchet, Rupert Graves, Tamsin Grieg, Celia Imrie, Russell Tovey and many more. ‘Pinter One,’ comprising of four one-act plays, and ‘Pinter Two,’ which includes The Lover and The Collection, are currently showing at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October.

I was thrilled to be given press tickets to Pinter Two, as I’m a huge fan of David Suchet, and I couldn’t wait to see him live in The Collection. He did not disappoint! Pinter Two showcases two of Pinter’s one-act plays that explore the themes of love, fidelity, truth and fantasy.

Hayley Squires and John MacMillan in ‘The Lover.’  Image source.

John MacMillan and Hayley Squires star in The Lover as a married couple, Richard and Sarah, who are apparently exceedingly open with each other about their respective lovers. The play was first performed in 1963, and it is a play of its time, although the issues of marital happiness, mutual trust and desire that it explores are still very relevant today.

The Lover opens with witty, breakfast table repartee that’s reminiscent of Oscar Wilde. Richard cheerfully asks Sarah whether her lover is coming today, and Sarah replies that he is. Richard asks what time, and says he’ll be back by 6, to allow his wife and her lover a full afternoon. The next day, Sarah questions Richard about his mistress. He denies all knowledge of a mistress, although says he’s very well acquainted with a whore.

As the play progresses, it becomes clear that Richard and Sarah enjoy a complicated game of role-play. They are each other’s lovers, willingly acting out the fantasies of their spouse. When Richard suddenly decides he is tired of playing a part, the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur, and only then does the couple’s real tenderness for each other become apparent.

David Suchet in ‘The Collection.’  Image source.

In The Collection, David Suchet and Russell Tovey join Hayley Squires and John MacMillan in a story that further explores desire, fantasy and truth. Harry (Suchet) and his partner Bill (Tovey) cross paths with another couple James (MacMillan) and Stella (Squires), when James accuses Bill of having slept with Stella at a hotel in Leeds whilst she was away on a work trip. Apparently, Stella has confessed all to James, although her story seems surprising given the nature of Harry and Bill’s relationship. David Suchet steals the show with a hilarious and incredibly camp performance as Harry, and Tovey also adds a great comic touch combined with virile sexuality.

I feel a modern interpretation of this play adds greater nuance to Pinter’s work, as the roles of sexuality and gender are further explored under Jamie Lloyd’s direction. Just as the line between reality and fantasy was blurred in The Lover, so too does sexual preference and attraction remain ambiguous in The Collection.

Russell Tovey in ‘The Collection.’  Image source.

James enters into flirtation with Bill even as he accuses him of being unfaithful with his wife, and Bill’s story of what happened constantly changes. At first he denies ever having met Stella, then he admits to having sex with her and finally he says the truth is that he and Stella only sat in the hotel bar and talked about what they might do together, should they ever go upstairs to bed…. Who is to be believed? And what counts as an act of infidelity? Stella knows the truth of that night, but on being asked what really happened, the play closes on her enigmatic smile, so the audience must draw their own conclusion.

Of the two plays, I enjoyed The Collection the most, mainly because David Suchet’s performance was so incredible. Both productions were excellent, though, and I was also impressed by the simple, striking staging, from the bright pink walls of The Lover, to the clever use of space to portray two couple’s lives in tandem in The Collection.

Pinter Two: The Lover / The Collection is on at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October. Tickets may be purchased here

 

UK Travel | Sunday Lunch at The Old Parsonage, Oxford

This is my last post from my Oxford trip, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing my favourite destination for a Sunday Roast or Afternoon Tea in the city of dreaming spires. The Old Parsonage (dating from the 17th Century) is a gorgeous hotel on the Banbury Road, only a 15 minute walk from the Bodleian Library.

I’d been to The Old Parsonage on a previous trip to Oxford and had tucked into their splendid Afternoon Tea in front of a roaring fire. It was blissfully cosy on a cold, windy day in March, but I was eager to return to the hotel when the sun shone warmly and we could appreciate the beautiful outdoor courtyard. Thankfully, the weather certainly cooperated during our September trip, and Mum and I took our friend Val to the Old Parsonage for a Sunday Roast on our last day in Oxford.

We arrived a little early, so took our seats in the courtyard and enjoyed a pre-lunch cocktail (or at least, Mum and I did – Val stuck with orange juice as she was driving!). We decided we all wanted a Sunday roast, so our order was easy. Our beef arrived, succulent and perfectly pink in the middle, with the usual assortment of Yorkshire puddings and roasted veg on the side. I appreciated the generous dollop of horseradish sauce and lashings of gravy too!

On Sundays, the Old Parsonage does a set lunch menu: two courses for £25 or three courses for £30. There’s a choice of roasts available (generally beef, lamb or pork), as well as vegetarian options. We went for the two course menu so we could enjoy dessert after our meal, all of us settling for raspberry posset.

We decided to move into the main restaurant inside, as although the weather was delightful, the wasps were enjoying it too, and had buzzed around our plates so insistently during our main meal that we decided to give up the fight and retire indoors for our sweet.

I couldn’t help but think that Mr Woodhouse (from Jane Austen’s Emma) would have approved of The Old Parsonage, for a fire blazed in the open hearth in the lounge, despite the mild temperatures.

On a wintry day, having a drink and reading a book in front of that blaze would be deliciously cosy!

We so enjoyed our meal at The Old Parsonage, and it was a lovely way to spend the last afternoon of our long weekend. If you’re in the mood for traditional British fodder, then I recommend adding The Old Parsonage to your list for your next visit to Oxford.

 

Tea Reads | Claxton by Mark Cocker

Tea Reads | Claxton by Mark Cocker

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle here.

The Tea Read for this Friday is an extract from Mark Cocker’s nature journal, Claxton. In 2001, Mark Cocker moved to Claxton, a small village in Norfolk, and there he began journalling his observations of the plants and wild life surrounding his home. Mark Cocker writes about nature in astonishingly beautiful prose, and he has a wonderful knack for noticing those small wonders that make our everyday lives so precious.

For today’s episode, I’m discussing an extract from Cocker’s late September entires, which I think perfectly sums up this transitional month between summer and autumn.

Tea & Tattle is also available to listen to on iTunes and stitcher.

UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford

UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford

Early September is a lovely time of year to visit Oxford, when the students are yet to descend on the city, but the number of tourists drops. I took advantage of my trip to Oxford earlier this month to pop into Magdalen College, which was looking prettier than ever with an abundance of lime green Annabelle hydrangeas in full bloom.

Magdalen is one of the most beautiful Oxford Colleges, with its riverside location and famous deer park. The college was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, and has many famous alumni, including C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde.

I spent a peaceful hour wandering through St John’s Quadrangle and the Cloister Quadrangle (lingering in the latter as I went a little mad with my camera!), before having a cup of tea overlooking the river (very entertaining to sit and watch the punters). After a refreshing cuppa, I walked to Grove Deer Park, which is where Magdalen’s herd of fallow deer live in the autumn-winter and spring months. As I was a little short on time, I didn’t get to the Hall, but I did manage to see the splendid Chapel, as old as the college itself.

UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, Oxford UK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Hydrangeas at Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel | Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel Magdalen College, OxfordUK Travel Magdalen College, Oxford

If you’re feeling inspired to explore more of Oxford’s colleges, then I’d recommend the book Oxford College Gardens, which I received as a birthday present a year or two ago. I love looking through the book, as it features beautiful photographs and information about the university colleges. You can admire some of Oxford’s prettiest gardens without leaving the comfort of your armchair!

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

An Insider’s Guide to London

This post is part of my Secret Seven London series, where I ask my favourite London instagrammers to share their top seven London locations that are a little off the beaten track.

London is full of beautiful destinations to explore, and I’m always so excited when I uncover a new gem, so I hope my readers will find this series as inspirational as I do! Get ready to fill your Little Black Book with some of London’s best kept secrets…

Brenda McIntosh’s Secret Seven London

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven LondonBrenda McIntosh

I first met Brenda through her former job at the flower company, Bloom & Wild, and we instantly bonded over our mutual love of flowers! Originally from Seattle, Brenda moved to London a few years ago, and I was so delighted when she agreed to share some of her best-loved haunts with Miranda’s Notebook readers.

Brenda recently relaunched her lifestyle blog, Somedays and Sundays, which is a delightful mix of fashion and travel. I always admire Brenda’s terrific sense of style, so I enjoy her fashion and beauty tips (her daily looks on instagram are always stunning!), and it’s a joy to read about her adventures beyond London as well.

Having worked for two floral related start-up companies in the past, Brenda thought she’d share her top seven flower-themed London destinations. Of course, I couldn’t be happier!

Over to Brenda….

1/ The New Covent Garden Flower Market

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is where the florists in London buy their flowers—I’ve made quite a few early morning trips here! Don’t expect too many frills, but do expect the best selection of blooms in all of London. You’ll find the freshest flowers at wholesale prices, plus plenty of greenery, vases, and floristry tools. Be sure to go early for the very best selection!

2/ Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

By far my favourite spot in London, this is a rose lover’s dream. This area of Regent’s park is
never too crowded and there’s always a free bench to sit and enjoy the sight and scent of the roses. I like that each variety of rose has its own section and there’s a label letting you know the name. The best part is the circular centre that’s surrounded by benches and climbing roses.

3/ Vauxhall Lavender Field

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

When you think of Vauxhall, a more industrial area comes to mind, and that’s true. But tucked away in Vauxhall Park is a little lavender field. It might not be as large as the more well known Mayfield fields, but it’s easy to get to and scenic enough for a really lovely photo. Plus, the scent is incredible and it’s a great place for a picnic.

4/ Kenwood House Rhododendrons

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is a relatively new discovery for me, but one that I absolutely love! I’m originally from
Seattle, Washington and our state flower is the rhododendron, so to see such an expansive
display of these brightly coloured blooms makes me feel right at home! Most people might know Kenwood House (and the grassy fields in front) from the movie Notting Hill, but if you’re around in late May, head to the side of the house for a rhododendron display well worth the trip to Hampstead.

5/ Diptyque Westbourne Grove

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

You’ve probably seen Wild at Heart’s turquoise island display featured in plenty of Instagram posts, but just down the road is a store that I always love to pop into. It’s Diptyque’s second ever location (after their original boutique on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris) and it’s even more special after a recent renovation. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Diptyque fanatic—I’ve got quite the collection of their candles around my house! Describe the kinds of scents you like (for me it’s florals) and they’ll guide you to a perfect pick.

6/ The Punch Room at The London Edition

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is another lesser known spot that’s right next to a more well-known one. Berners Tavern is beautiful, but I prefer the tucked-away Punch Room (both are in The London Edition). It’s an intimate spot for upscale, but not too fussy, drinks. The last time I was there, my choice was garnished with a jasmine flower and it smelled
heavenly!

7/ Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London
This one takes some time to get to from London, but it’s well worth venturing off the beaten path for. This place always feels so magical—crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings of their greenhouses, and their cafe and restaurant both serve incredible (and incredibly fresh) dishes. Head home with some new plants and gardening tools, or just browse around! Richmond Park is a stone’s throw away too, so you can certainly make a day of it! (Miranda’s mentioned that it’s also a wonderful spot to visit in the wintertime, when it’s decorated with Christmas trees! {Yes, it is! You can read my post about it here.- M})

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Thanks so much to Brenda for her brilliant suggestions. I’m definitely adding Vauxhall Lavender Field to my list for next summer, and I can’t wait to to get to The Punch Room for one of those delicious cocktails….

Do keep up with Brenda through her bloginstagramfacebook and twitter.

Note: All photos apart from cover picture provided by Brenda McIntosh. Enjoyed this post? Read my other Secret Seven London articles with Talitha McQueen and Annabel Bird.