Exploring London: Walthamstow, east London

If you had spoken to me five years ago about planning a trip to Walthamstow I probably would have laughed in your face. I only really set foot in that part of the East End because we wanted to use the Victoria line and parked at Blackhorse Road station. It was a little too gritty and didn't have a good reputation. At all. But around a year ago it started creeping on my radar. Word on the grapevine was this part of east London was on the up. Delis, cool restaurants and markets were popping up but it was still managing to keep it's community feel. It didn't feel too hipster yet and hadn't had it's soul ripped out like Shoreditch. God bless that place - it's just not quite the same any more. On a side note, I had a realisation that I had been going out in Shoreditch for the past 10 years. Excuse while I sob into my anti-aging cream. But anyway. Last weekend we decided to jump the bullet and organised a day trip. Being on a 25 minute drive we decided we didn't have much to lose - we could always jump back in the car and pick up some Macdonalds on the way home.

One of the places I was keen to try out was Eat 17 located in Walthamstow Village. I'd read that this restaurant was the place that kinda kickstarted the whole revolution. So naturally it needed to be tried out. We got there about 11am to try their brunch menu. What a brunch menu that was. I've got a whole separate post ready for that. But take my word when I say that alone is worth heading east for.

After sharing three breakfasts we needed to walk the food baby off. So we opted to explore the village. I'm still scratching my head that this is part of Walthamstow. It felt a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Quaint chocolate box cottages lined the streets. Delicious food markets were taking place in church halls. People were milling around eating their breakfasts outside on the cobbled streets. Such a lovely place to wander and enjoy the sunshine. Just a stones throw away from the village was God's Own Junkyard. A collection of neon signs, vintage film props and salvage displays scattered around a old warehouse on an industrial estate. We could have spent hours slowly wandering around, reading every single sign. Next time I'm trying some cake in the cafe!

After a mooch around Vestry House Museum and spotting Toby Jones filming in the gardens, we decided to seek out the William Morris Gallery and have a walk around Lloyd Park. Opened way back in 1900, the park was gorgeous. Filled with tennis courts, a cafe and pretty lush foliage, it was a lovely place to have a wander and soak up the sunshine. I can imagine it's even nicer during the summer months with a picnic. Although we did see the police talking to a couple who had been mugged, it seems we were still in east London - despite the greenery.

Dedicated to the life of designer William Morris, the gallery is full of fascinating information and impressive prints. I never really knew too much about William Morris and had no idea of his socialist ideals. Offering free entry, his old house is a great place to will away an few hours of an afternoon.

Finally we wandered back to Wood Street where we had parked the car for a mooch around the indoor antique market. This quaint, charming market is such a gem. Vintage clothing, old vinyl and handmade gifts offer something for everyone. My boyfriend for one would have spent the whole day shifting through the vinyl if it was payday!

Now that Walthamstow is quite rightly on my radar I'll definitely be back. There's a handful of restaurants that I have on my list and a picnic in Lloyd Park is calling my name. It just goes to show you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. Or by it's shady past!


Review: Pachamama, Marylebone, central London

A few weeks ago I met up with Lauren and Hannah for a much-deserved catch up. Pachamana had 50% off their new spring menu all weekend so it would have been rude to not take advantage. God bless Hannah for finding out that information. It was my first time trying Peruvian food so I'm not sure how it compares to other restaurants in the city. But I do know that it was absolutely delicious.

After ordering a very strong cocktail, we sat down to study the menu and prepared ourselves for a feast. First we decided to order a sweet potato waffle topped with Peruvian fried chicken, sweet yacon and slightly spicy aji sauce. The tender fried chicken had a lovely crunch and moreish taste. The waffle was a little dry and could have done with a bit more sauce but overall it was an enjoyable dish.

We all shared a trio of different ceviche including sea bass and samphire, salmon tiradito, beetroot and avocado and sea bream, grapes and fennel.  The sea bass ceviche was incredible. So fresh and so flavoursome - it was a shame to have to share it!

The juicy burger consisted of a Galician beef patty, pork belly chicharron, aji rocoto ketchup, aji amarillo mustard and salsa criollo between a week toasty bun. Generous with the fillings, the burger really hit the spot. The aubergine covered in pecans siting in smoked yogurt was great. A little overpriced at £7 but the smoked yogurt was a great partner to the soft aubergine.

Pachamana was a great introduction to Peruvian food. The dishes were flavoursome and inventive. I tried new food I would never have paired together. The price point was a little high so I think it's one for a for a special occasion or when you don't mind splashing the cash. I definitely recommend visiting for brunch and trying those delicious but potent cocktails!


Why we all need a #girlgang

After thinking about booking Vegas for my 30th birthday, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not dreading that number. I feel like I'm going to hit 30 in my prime and feel happy knowing with the way things are. As cheesy as that sounds. This past year I've felt like all the puzzle pieces have finally slotted together and I feel so much more content with my lot than I ever have been. A huge part of this is because of friends. Coming from all walks of life, these girls just get me. I can completely be myself without any fear of being judged. Probably because they're often thinking the exact same thing.

I've often be called a 'strong woman' as if it's something to be ashamed off. A negative thing. But these girls make me feel like it's ok to put my career before having kids if that's what I want, to relish my independence and to blow a months rent on a handbag if I've worked hard. It doesn't make me a bad person. They're here to throw encouragement, hold your hand when it all gets a little too much, teach you that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and be your biggest cheerleader. I might only see some a few times a year and I might see some a few times a months. But no matter where they are, they're always there. One in particular feels like the sister I never had. They make me believe in myself, that I'm stronger than I think I am. In turn, its helped me to let things go and to not be such a worrywart. If things are meant to be, they will be and if they don't happen first time around, its doesn't reflect bad on me. I've learnt that life doesn't follow a script and its absolutely fine to just take it as it comes - to enjoy what I have achieved and not worry about what I haven't.

It's taken me a while to get here. I've spent years cutting out toxic people. Those people who you spend a day with and come home feeling like you've done ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Friends you really dreaded spending time with. But for some reason you just couldn't cut them out. I wasn't really too keen on having girl friends. As a result I never really had a proper group of girl friends until I was about 23. It was too stressful, too much drama. I much preferred to hang out with boys. But friendships aren't meant to be hard work.

Surround yourself by girls who make you believe you can take on the world. But most importantly surround yourself by girls who will pick you up when you fall and put back together the pieces.

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