London

Why London is incredible in the summer

August 20, 2015

1. Everyone is really, really happy when the sun comes out
By the time summer comes around we’re all so desperate for a bit of sunshine we get over-excited and may even stretch to eye contact with strangers on the tube. We don’t mind when someone stands on the wrong side of the escalator, or puts their armpit in our face on the northern line, because HEY GUYS – it’s sunny.

2. In fact, we’re so happy we don’t even mind spending those long summer days at work
Imagine going to work every day during the summer in Barcelona? Not only would you resent being stuck in the office whilst tourists bask in the thirty degree heat, you’d also turn up covered in sweat, and possibly wearing flip flops. Let’s position our ‘mild’ summers as a benefit, shall we?

3. We know what it’s like to truly love a square metre of outdoor space
Londoners know exactly what it is to love a patio when the sun comes out. Or a roof terrace. Or a really, minutely small balcony. Unlike people living in normal conditions who may take their gardens for granted, we understand what it is to appreciate that tiny bit of beautiful outdoors with all our heart, and are able to position a BBQ on any flat surface.

4. Same story with beer gardens and roof terraces
Never has a community of people enjoyed a small outside space more. Come Friday night (or midweek if it’s really sunny) we flock to the numerous beer gardens and roof terraces dotted across the capital and fight our way through the crowds for a seat. Add to this excitement some of the most beautiful city skylines on offer, great beer on tap, proper cocktails, decent food and all your mates, and it’s hard to imagine anywhere you’d rather be. Except Fiji.

5. We have air con on tubes and bikes for hire
Look away now if you’re confined to the central line during the summer months, but the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines now have air con, and quite frankly it’s wonderful. Even better, you can hire a bike incredibly cheaply courtesy of our fine mayor Boris, and explore the city on a sunny day al fresco. If, like me, the chances of you being knocked off said bike on London’s roads are high, I’d recommend a trip along Regents Canal.

6. Every summer brings even more pop up street food markets
If the best street food in the world, brilliant cocktails and an outdoor DJ sounds like your thing, head to one of the many street food markets on offer over the summer. Dinerama is my personal favourite, but you can find all sorts dotted around East London from May/June onward. If you’re not a fan of pop ups, try one of the traditional outdoor food markets like Borough or Broadway market for some of the best food in the city.

7. There are seven million trees in London…
So there’s always somewhere to take shelter from the sun when it makes an appearance. Although you’d question this living in Whitechapel.

8. We have pools, lidos, ponds and ‘urban beaches’
On the two or three days a year that it’s actually warm enough to swim outdoors, Londoners like to take advantage of the pools, lidos and urban beaches available in the city. Yes, we have ‘urban beaches’… Sadly I’ve never managed to time being in London with a day hot enough to swim, but I’m assured the lido at Victoria Park is a great spot. Who needs Spain.

9. We’ve got you covered when it rains
Whilst you might struggle to fill your days in a beach resort when the weather turns sour, we here in London specialise in rainy day activities. From world class museums and galleries like Tate Modern, the National History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, to pubs, restaurants, shopping arcades, coffee houses, cinemas, indoor markets and more pubs, this is basically our thing.

And finally… where else in the world can you bask in the sun on a roof terrace, visit the beach, go for a swim in the pool, hit the bars, have a picnic in the park, go to a gig, take a stroll along the world’s best high street and cycle home for less than a fiver with a basketful of street food?

We have it good.

Emma

Style Travel

House of Summer

August 17, 2015

Combining three of my favourite things – summer style, sunshine and travel – I instantly fell in love with the story behind House of Summer, an online boutique showcasing pieces from young entrepreneurial women living and working all over the globe. I caught up with founder Aleksa to hear more about her travels and how they influence the collections, from the streets of Rio to the mountains of Morocco.

The concept for House of Summer sounds great! How did it come about?
Well, it’s a tough one because House of Summer had many beginnings. When I moved to London I found it really hard to find unique and quality beach wear and summer wear that was colourful, sexy and vibrant – so I always did a lot of shopping during my travels (especially in Brazil, where I’m from). I started to informally sell bikinis and accessories to friends here in London and decided that there was potentially a bigger market for unique stuff that you couldn’t get in the UK. I was also getting awfully tired of finding myself wearing the same thing everyone else was wearing on the high street – I’m talking your typical Zara florals – I knew there was much more to it than that. So after a long time studying and researching and talking about my niche, I decided to go for the theme of “Sunshine” and that every product I bought to re-sell would conjure the image of a sunny somewhere. And that’s when I launched House of Summer.

You source exclusive pieces from all around the globe. What do you look for when travelling and how do you know when something is perfect for the brand?
House of Summer is a happy place, so the products need to take me somewhere sunny and special where I can let my hair down and dance on the sand. You know that feeling you get where you’re in a far away place and no one knows who you are, you don’t care about your hair or makeup – you feel so free. There are a few key things I love and those are open backs, neons, bright prints, a little sex appeal… You get that from latin counties like Brazil, Spain, Italy… Before I travel I do a little bit of online research – I try to find some niche bloggers with great style that perhaps work with indie brands. I try to gather about 10 different boutiques to visit and collect designer’s names. Once I’m in the country I’ll pop in to have a look at the quality and try and buy a few pieces to test. If I think it can work, I’ll get in touch later and start some buying! I’ve found many cool designers through Instagram!

You’re passionate about travel and the season of summer. How have you been able to explore these passions through House of Summer, and how have they influenced your collections?
I have indeed! I think I am a bohemian explorer meeting a chic modernity – I’m not only beach. House of Summer is not only about fashion, it’s very cultural as well. I feel like I need to understand cultural behaviours in order to find products my customers will love. I created House of Summer to give my travels a purpose. I travel not to sit down by the pool, I travel to meet designers, boutique owners, artisans – to understand how local fashion represents culture. Some designers come from big cities like Sao Paulo, others are artisanal – every product has a story, an origin and a meaning – and for me it’s always a memory of a place I explored.

How do you support emerging design talent?
I just love new designers! They are so full of life and want to do so much! I buy from them as much as possible, and we help each other with sales and cross promotion. Ultimately the biggest reason I work with small designers is because I like unique things that aren’t mass produced. What I try to pass onto my customer is the value in the product I sell and that’s a hard message to pass because people take their clothes for granted. There is so much cheap clothing out there no one even thinks of where their clothes come from! There is no relationship between designer, product and customer. It’s just a thing, disposable next season. My job is to tell the story so that there is a connection between designer and product – I’m the link.

Where is your favourite place in the world to spend the summer months?
Brazil and Ibiza – I’m lucky! I get two summers! In the northeast of Brazil (Bahia, Piaui) – there are all these hippie villages with cobbled streets, fairy lights and warm humid air. In the summer in Europe I go to Ibiza – I fell in love with the island, the people and the culture. Ibiza is a funny one, because it’s easy to get caught up in the “hype” yatchs, clubs, and materialism. But if you can go around June during early season, it’s bliss. Find a family run B&B in the middle of the island and walk around the lemon groves and the Old Town.

You’re originally from Brazil. What tips and advice would give you someone wanting to visit?
Brazil is HUGE – it’s basically the size of the whole of Europe so you need to pick your start. I would start in Rio for a quick glimpse into the care-free lifestyle of the “carioca”, walk around Lapa and Sta. Teresa and do the sites. I would then work my way up the Northeast coast of Brazil (Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Piaui and Maranhao). The beauty of Brazil is in the simplicity and the friendliness. The moment you try to be fancy in Brazil you go wrong! Aim for at least 3 weeks, and don’t take all your jewellery (especially in Rio)!

How do you find London compares to the other places you’ve lived? What do you love most about living and working in the capital?
I’ve only lived in Brazil, the USA and the UK. I love London, I hate London weather – Oh how I wish it were sunny here, it would be the best. What I love about London is my freedom. And this can be as simple as taking the bus, walking the streets home at night and sleeping without worries. It may sound weird to hear this but in a city like Sao Paulo you grow up very sheltered, mainly for security reasons. So when you’re a teenager, you don’t really have a lot of freedom. I love the open-mindedness of the people and the cultural diversity. I’ll go out for dinner with friends and we’ll have people from all over the world at the same table, that’s hard to get anywhere else in the world.

Where’s next on your list?
AFRICA!

What’s next for House of Summer?
So many things! But in a nutshell I want to start creating House of Summer’s own collection for SS16 (I don’t follow fashion calendars). There’ll definitely be a bigger push into ethical and sustainable fashion, recycling, and bringing awareness towards responsible consumerism – that is the direction I’m heading.

Your top tip for travel:
Don’t be a tourist! Go to a place and really try to get involved with the culture, speak to your waiter, to the person who runs your hotel. Talk to them, interact… are they happy? Is it a good place to work, to live? Sometimes we’re so obsessed with taking selfies and boasting about our travels, we forget that we are temporarily borrowing someone else’s home and land. So treat it with respect and love, above all.

Shop destinations from Italy to Australia at HouseofSummer.com, or follow on instagram for bikini shots and summer style inspiration all year round.

Emma x

Travel

Funchal | Photo diary

July 21, 2015

Staying just outside of Funchal we had the best of both worlds in our AirBnb apartment, with the city on one side and mountainous walks along the coast on the other. This was my first experience with AirBnb, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. As someone who loves to experience local life wherever I travel, it genuinely felt like we were coming home to our own place each night after a long day exploring. You can see the view from our balcony above – quite something to eat breakfast in front of each morning – along with a few photos of what will be known as the most over-worn hat in history and a banana plantation we were surprised to stumble upon.

We were in Madeira to celebrate the wedding of one of my best friends, Lizzi, pictured above walking down the aisle, and her husband, Tom. Everything about the day was beautiful – from the backdrop of blue sea and rugged coastline, to the bride herself and the atmosphere of celebrating such an amazing day whilst on holiday in the sunshine. I’ve always loved the idea of getting married abroad and this experience absolutely confirmed this for me. There’s also the fact that any sign of rain on my wedding day and all hell would break loose, so it’s probably safer to plan outside of London.

We spent a lot of time at Doca do Cavacas (above), mentioned in my recent post, ten reasons to visit Madeira. This particular spot is reason enough on its own to return, and not just because of the size of the sangria. A restaurant perched above the rocks with incredible views, it also offers weary beach-seekers a place to relax for the day, complete with authentic beach bar, incredibly cheap cocktails, and beautiful rock pools to swim in.

Have you ever been to Madeira? What did you think?

London

Grounded | Aldgate East

June 20, 2015

Living on Commercial Road over the past year or so, we’ve watched the overspill from Shoreditch and Brick Lane creep slowly but steadily closer. Luckily for us, this means new bars, pubs and coffee shops popping up every few weeks. My latest favourite is Grounded on Whitechapel Road, from the guys behind Exmouth coffee. Best chai latte in London, hands down.

If you’re looking for somewhere to plug in, drink good coffee and people watch, look no further. They’re open until 8pm most days, have good wifi, lovely staff, and most importantly – amazing gluten-free chocolate cake.

Grounded Coffee
9 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1DU

 

London

Exmouth Coffee Co | Aldgate East

June 19, 2015
Exmouth Coffee Co

Exmouth Coffee Co

I find it really hard to pass through Aldgate in the morning without paying a trip to Exmouth – and I’m not the only one. Oliver was visiting the East London coffee shop so often he bought an espresso machine to try to kerb the habit – only to find himself sneaking in ‘for a treat’ a few times a week.

Knowing full well my own willpower is no match for the inevitable brownie and chai latte combo, I try to avoid this particular part of Whitechapel Road most days on my commute. When the craving for a chewy, chocolatey brownie gets too much though, this is my first port of call.

Sat immediately to the right of Aldgate East tube (if you take the Whitechapel Gallery exit) this is the slightly smaller, older brother of Grounded, a coffee shop that popped up further along the road earlier in the year. Here you’ll find one of the best selections of cakes and flatbreads anywhere in East London – need I mention the chocolate brownie again? It’s chewy, people – along with really good coffee and a cosy interior.

The staff are so popular there’s even an entire wall dedicated to fan mail – complete with poetry, illustrations and love letters for the baristas. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Exmouth Coffee Co
83 Whitechapel High Street
E1 7QX
London

Monday to Sunday: 7am to 8pm