We just returned from a fantastic week in London. The main purpose of our trip was to visit family (my sister and brother-in-law live there, as does our other brother-in-law) and some close friends who we haven’t seen in a long time. We also got to do some lovely neighbourhood exploring while we were there, though, and to see two excellent exhibitions, one the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, and the other Carsten Hoeller‘s incredible interactive exhibit at Hayward Gallery. And we also had a great night out at the Barbican, which was pretty amazing.
We spent our first few days staying at my sister’s home in South Ealing in the West, and then our last few days staying with our friends Jon, Ingrid and their son Max in Clapton in the East, so we got to experience some really different areas. We also spent a night in Devon, staying with the sweetest, most generous family friends you could imagine in their ridiculously cute cottage on a picture-perfect country property (see photos below). We took walks in the wildflower-scattered fields and the lush woods, ate freshly-laid eggs and just soaked up the country air!
James and I were both struck by how many beautiful neighbourhood parks there are in London – all of them are huge and beautifully green and inviting, and there seems to be one on just about every corner! I fell in love with the large swathes of wildflowers in each one as well…I wish New York had more parks like these. Obviously there are some amazing parks here (hello, Central Park, Prospect Park and the High Line!), but the little neighbourhood parks here are far fewer and less impressive than those we saw in London.
I was also wildly excited to visit Botany, a beautiful store I’ve been gawking at on Instagram for a while, which is in Hackney, not far from our friends’ place in Clapton. We spent a day wandering all through Hackney, Bethnal Green and Shoreditch, and it was such a great way to see lots of little stores and to get a feel for the neighbourhoods. Walking along the canal from Bow through to Clapton and seeing all the beautiful houseboats was lovely as well.
Of course the real highlight was spending time with our family and friends, though, and although it was all-too-brief, it was so nice to reconnect with everyone and to see that good relationships aren’t changed by time or distance.