london

a day of bookshops in london

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Hello from the UK!

I had two quick days in London before heading north, and as I only had one real day of daylight, I mapped out a little tour of bookshops. As always, this is by no means comprehensive nor a claim to be "the best" of anything. They're literally shops I saw photos for on the interwebz and thought they'd be cute IRL (spoiler: they are!)

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I started the day later because I woke up having no plan then mapped this out after consulting friends' resources (thanks, Carlie! thanks Alana! thanks Jane!) The pace is slow and wandery with lots of stops for snacks:

Start with a coffee and second breakfast at Knockbox Coffee (I'm assuming you'll have slept in and eaten first breakfast already). On the same road you'll find Persephone Books, which publishes "twentieth century women writers." The shop is tiny, cute, and doubles as the publishers' offices. I was excited to see a shop centered around women (lots of women writers, suffrage posters, etc), but upon asking if they had any recommended reading by women of color, the staff person replied, "no, not really. We've tried but there just aren't really that many so everyone else always snatches them up." Alrighty then, white feminism.

(At this point I stopped at Fabrique to pick up a cardamom bun for later).

From here you can head to Quinto. You might want to pop over to Dishoom first and see if they have a line. If they don't, get your ass in there. If they do, browse through Quinto while you wait. This shop has two floors of secondhand books. If you love the old book smell, this place will be your jam. Regardless of whether you go to Dishoom before or after, make sure you know their chai is bottomless (a sad realization I only came to much later in my meal).

By this point you'll need to digest, so the long walk to Daunt could be nice, but I won't judge you if you take the tube. Daunt is beautiful and mostly travel books (though a nice selection of other things like fiction, cookbooks, etc). From here you can walk and dawdle along Marylebone or if you're me, haul ass to Heywood Hill to catch it before the sky turns too dark (this is what happens when you go to London in January). Heywood Hill is another tiny, cute, mixed-office space bookshop which offers home library design services. I didn't know this was a thing and now I'm ready to change careers.

At this point, I'd planned to go to John Sandoe but ran out of time/steam, so I took the tube home, ate my cardamom bun, and called it. Seeing how there are so many bookshops in London, I'm excited to repeat* with new shops during my next visit. Any and all recommendations welcome!

*preferably sans white feminism

jess & luke's

english breakfast

During my last three days in London (and Europe, for that matter), I stayed with Jess and Luke through Airbnb. I'd only ever used Airbnb once before-- during my trip with David to Portland-- and was hesitant to try it out alone.

breakfast- tea & fresh apple juice
kitchen

Well, staying with Jess and Luke turned out to be one of my favorite parts about being in London. My flight from Milan was delayed an hour and even though I arrived a little past midnight, Luke was still up to welcome me with a cup of tea.

window sills
comfortable

At the end of each day, it was nice coming back to a home rather than a hotel. My first morning there, Jess and Luke invited me to join them for breakfast (see first two photos). Jess made poached eggs with a traditional salty fish (anyone know what that's called?) and served everything up alongside tea and fresh pressed apple juice. It was really delicious, really kind and really unexpected.

details
on the walls
oh, the places you'll go
the street

Perhaps the biggest story about staying with Jess and Luke is that they basically rescued me when I found myself in a foreign country with no access to my own money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Despite calling Bank of America months prior to let them know I was in Europe (and had been for two months at this point), they deactivated my debit card because their system had been hacked. While this might seem like the most logical thing to do upon hacking, they didn't tell me. No email or anything.

So there I was, a little American girl, wandering from ATM to ATM wondering why on earth my debit card wasn't working. I tried to call the bank from a telephone booth, but couldn't call out of the country. Get this: a man who was cleaning the streets asked if I needed help. When I told him my problem,

he let me borrow his cell phone to call America. What?!

I eventually reached a BoA representative only for my call to be dropped two minutes in. The phone number stopped working after that. So I was stranded in London, without access to cash, with no banks open (it was a bank holiday weekend), and with no way to speak to the bank in the States (because of the time difference).

Jess and Luke to the rescue. I called them and told them what had happened. They took the tube out to where I was and lent me cash.

Me, this random American girl staying in their home. Cash.

Of course I paid them back through PayPal once I got back to the apartment, but wow. Jess and Luke obviously went above and beyond anything anyone could expect from Airbnb hosts. But being with them was an amazing reminder: Nice people exist.

People still have hearts-- and traveling is the best way to rediscover that.

borough market

farm fresh eggs
on the cob
borough
these cuties
tomatoes galore
fish galore
colorful spices
olives galore
along the busy street
micro growing
noms

There are few things I love more than colorful markets. On my flight to London from Milan, I met the nicest British guys (Alex and Max) who gave me a slew of suggestions despite the fact that I'd studied abroad in the UK the year before.

Thankfully, their Borough Market tip was spot on. Along with great produce that I've come to expect at all food markets (it's the California in me), they had other unique things like mushroom pate and micro growing gardens. Even though the market was a side of London I hadn't seen before, I felt right at home.

english polaroids

oxford
london

even though i brought a polaroid camera with me during my travels, i hardly took any photos. to me, polaroids are like gold, so it sort of distresses me if i take a lot of them. hence, i only really have two of oxford and two of london. when i decide that i take a polaroid of something, it takes me a good 5 minutes to compose the picture in my head and when and only when i think the picture will come out perfectly, i snap the photo. one thing i really need to accept is that the beauty of polaroids is the fact that you can't change them. without editing and multiple takes, you really only have once chance. they come out the way they do, and with all the "imperfections" they have, they're actually quite perfect.

clockwise from top left: oxford punts, the oxford university corpus christi college library, david with the thames and the london eye, and big ben.