Monday, 28 February 2011

Weekend in Margate (Yes! Margate!)

The reaction I received from everyone when I said I was going to Margate for my birthday weekend was "Margate? Why?" A sleepy seaside town in Kent, Margate's hey day was about 100 years ago as a beach vacation destination. Margate is one of the many coastal towns  in the UK whose former Victorian glory has long since passed. It's more currently known as the birthplace of Tracy Emin and the new home to the Turner contemporary Collection opening April of this year.

However, I was not daunted by the naysayers, especially because we had booked into The Reading Rooms! By far, my absolute favorite place I have stayed just about anywhere in the world, and would highly recommended it (as alone it is a reason to go to Margate.) We stayed into Room 1, but I plan on staying again in Room 3. Owned by the lovely couple Louise and Liam, it's a three bedroom B&B situated in a renovated Georgian townhome on Hawley Square and within walking distance of everything you would want to see in Margate. Sumptious beds with overstuffed pillows, yummy linens and a cast iron tub underneath a whimsical chandelier with definitely enough room for two! And Ren bath products which = happiest place on Earth.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

What do you mean you like it? (.....or my tempestuous love affair with London pt. 1)

Much like any love-hate and erstwhile manic relationship, such are my feelings about London.  On any vibrant, sunny day I am in love - the architecture (everything's so old!) the diversity (bonjour! dzien dobry! sat sri akal!) the fashion (I don't know how can she wear that and make it look chic but she does!) However, when in a matter of hours my blissful sunny day becomes a dark, cold, damp evening and I am getting on the tube at rush hour, I could very well throw myself in front of it. There's no avoiding the surge of bodies clamoring for less than ten inches of personal space. You'd think it was the Titanic. So when London is pretty and accomodating, I love her. When she is selfish, depressed and refuses to give me space, I want to end it.

So as a companion piece to my first blog about living here, here is my ongoing list of what I do love about living in London (and in no particular order....!)

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My Great Gatsby evening at The Candlelight Club

Sigh. If all parties could be this tragically glamorous.
I have always wanted to go to a speakeasy (perhaps again my infatuation with the past and all things secretly naughty and glamorous?!?) And this weekend, my friend Douglas indulged my whim and was my stylish escort for the Candlelight Club in Angel. In order to attend the Candlelight Club, you purchase your tickets in advance with the stringently guarded location emailed to a select few merely days before the event.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Shoreditch Top 5 (i.e. hipsterhood in East London)

1. The Boundary. With a comprehensive and reasonably priced wine list in the basement bar (about 80 wines for under £35 offered from a list of 500) and even more friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers, it's divine! Along with a lovely rooftop view for a romantic drink, to brunch at the Albion cafe - it's one of my favorite places in London.

What do you mean you don’t like it? What’s not to like?

View from the Millenium Bridge
My friends were incredulous when I first told them, well sometimes, I don't really like living in London.

Mind you, part mere naiveté and part arrogance, I assumed that I was merely moving to the other part of the United States with better accents and television programming. Part of me has never wanted to admit that aloud! Me – who could travel anywhere, anytime at the drop of a hat. Me, who has dreamed of living abroad for as far back as I can even remember, has struggled to accept living here. It is one of those things that until you have done it – rearranged your life, left your job, family, friends, your cat, everything – it’s really hard to understand.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

"Are you ever afraid?"

Since moving to the UK, I am often asked “Are you ever afraid?” No one ever really finishes the sentence though. I wonder….Afraid of the tube? (At rush hour – Yes, mortally so!) Afraid of black pudding? (Yes! Still not sure what it is exactly!) Afraid of roundabouts? (Yes! Yes!) Afraid of a terrorist attack? Well, doesn’t ever really cross my mind….not really until now.
Formerly bombed neighborhood in Belfast

However, daily reminders of such violence can be found all over London, and in the most unexpected places – memorial plaques at tube stations and even at Harrods, constantly changing color coded terror alerts with no warning or explanation, only speculation, stringent airline security measures that surprise even me, and the daily papers full of ongoing memorials, enquiries and editorials to the events of 7/7 when coordinated suicide attacks on the tube and buses killed 52 commuters.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Royal Ascot

Need a reason to wear a fabulous dress, over the top millinery and drink champagne at 10:00am? Then Royal Ascot is the event for you.  This year marked my first year at Royal Ascot, the quintessential British tradition that began in 1711 (and I like to think it’s now my tradition started in 2010!) Lovely ladies in well adorned hats, handsome men in ties and tails, bottles of Bollinger champagne, jugs of Pimm’s embellished with fresh mint, oranges and cucumber…and let’s not forget the silver platters of clotted cream and strawberries. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday!