Thursday, December 30, 2010

Liberty - Christmas Shop

Last post of 2010! First off, I wish you all a kind of late Merry Christmas, I hope you had a great time with your family, friends, or whoever you spent it with and I also wish you a happy new year.

And now on to this farewell 2010 post, which of course, deals with Christmas, this nice time of year, which ideally includes firs, snow, Christmas lights, presents and all that, but realistically involves A LOT of crowds.

Due to my love of the (ideal) Christmas time, when I walked into this small section of Liberty, I became pretty excited. I mean, did you see those lights?

Right?? Check out the wood, the tree, the lights... Liberty is a luxurious department store located on Regent Street, right in the center of the city. Luxurious because, for instance, in the clothing section they sell brands such as Burberry, Chloe, Jil Sander, Vivienne Westwood... Basically what I wear everyday to do my groceries. They also sell furniture, textiles, fancy stationery (kind of expensive, by the way) and more. The building itself is really beautiful though, on the inside and the outside, so you should totally check it out.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. Today I'm here to talk about the Christmas shop, located on the 4th floor. As you've seen in the previous pictures, they sell decorations for the tree (arranged by color!) and the house in general.

But in the adjacent room (probably my favorite), they have nice candy (the type you'd be sad to eat) and small presents, mostly games, which I love mainly because of their packaging. Most of them look vintage and come with beautiful illustrations. This whole area oozes an awesome Christmas feeling, like you're in a movie, so if you get a chance, do stop by! Hopefully these pictures will speak for themselves.

And to fully submerge yourself (I think I just made that expression up) in the spirit of Christmas, you should read Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas in London

Dear friends of the world wide web, Christmas is almost here and I find that truly exciting. I don't know why I keep being so thrilled about this time of the year, I guess I still remember the feeling I got when I woke up to find all the presents under the tree. Plus, Christmas lights are awesome (if they're done right). So I asked a good friend of mine who's living in London (and who, coincidentally, took me to tons of places I talk about here) to do a guest post about Christmas in London! Since there are so many (awesome) pictures, they don't show in this main page but click on 'Read more' under the first picture below and you'll see it all!

Clara asked me to do a guest post on her blog, so I figured it might be a good idea to feature one of our favourite subjects: Christmas! Holiday decorations started super early this year (Selfridges Christmas deparment has been open since August. Wat.) so that gave me plenty of chances to document some of London's prime Christmassy hotspots in both photo and animation form. Here we go!

Let the sweet be-cookied Christmas tree draw you in...

Friday, December 10, 2010


With this somewhat blurry picture, I introduce you to Stanfords. Stanfords is a big store devoted to traveling, and since I'm a huge fan of traveling, I had to talk about it. The store you can see on these pictures is the one located in Covent Garden, which opened in 1901.

Everything in this store is related to traveling: the literature section, maps, globes, the stationery, accessories and more.

On the ground floor you'll find maps and books about France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, travel literature, children books and games about traveling, movies and music. You can also find gifts such as shower curtains with maps on them, or special thumbtacks that you can put on maps on places you've visited. And, of course, there's my favorite corner, devoted to globes (quite pricey, though...):

Although if you want to see a really pricey globe, check this one, which is in the same floor but in the following room, and costs the not-to-be-despised sum of £8,999.

Right?? Let me get my checkbook.

On the floor you'll see a map of the world and at the back there's a café.

On the first floor you'll find maps of other European countries and international destinations. There are also very useful tools when it comes to traveling, such as first aid kits, knives, and stuff like that. On the floor there's a National Geographic map of the Himalayas. And if you look up you'll see a map of the solar system. Not bad, huh?

The basement is mostly devoted to England and London, of which a map covers the floor.

Here you'll see guides and books about England and London, and some old maps too!

The store is located on 12-14, Acre Street, and opens from 9h to 19h30, although you can see all that and more on their website!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Tea House

Since this is a blog about London, it was obvious that I would end up talking about tea at some point. Although I must admit that I don't like tea at all, but I am a bit weird when it comes to drinks (which is quite annoying sometimes, but I can't help it...). Anyway - they sell other stuff besides tea here, but I'm guessing most of you enjoy tea.

The Tea House is a little shop located on Neal Street, very close to the Covent Garden tube station and perpendicular to Long Acre, where the awesome shop Stanfords is, which I'll talk about soon.

If you come to London and are planning on staying for more than a couple of days (which would be the obvious thing to do, of course), you should stop by this shop to get some tea and then enjoy it at 5pm, British style. They have a wide selection of teas - once you enter the shop you'll notice the strong smell of different herbs. Besides tea, they sell tools, the names of which I completely ignore, that are really helpful when it comes to making tea (you know, for instance, the little thingy you use to put the tea in and then put in the cup, how do you like my knowledge of the English vocabulary) (thingy eh).

And if you don't like said drink, or need more incentives to go to this shop, The Tea House also sells, among other things, various types of jam in jars of different sizes. When I went there I got a tiny jar of strawberry jam for 95p, which ended up being delicious.

All this you'll find on the first floor. But if you go upstairs, you'll find a big selection of cups, mugs, teapots, plates, jugs and more. Some are really beautiful, and some are a bit of a joke, but I guess we all have different tastes... Here are a few:

Maybe this isn't a total must, but it's located in Covent Garden and that area rules, so if you happen to be there, why not stop by to get a mini jar of ham or a dotted mug? For example.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Magma Books

I can't stop listening to The xx! Their song 'Islands' is a total hit.

Magma Books is one of the first bookstores I discovered in London, and I love it. Especially when it comes to leafing through the books, because as far as buying is concerned, let's say I should start by saving some money. I've added some Gregory Crewdson (master of the universe) books to my wishlist, though, because they look awesome. I also bought a Listography book (very useful I know), so I did find something I could afford.

This little bookstore opened in 2000 at 8, Earlham Street. Their goal was not to open a typical bookshop full of best-sellers and 3x2 offers (which by the way I think are great), but to offer books related to art as well as magazines and some stationery. You'll find here books about photography, design, architecture, d.i.y. and more. Truth is, I'd stay there for hours or until they'd come to tell me "will you please stop abusing our hospitality and buy something already".

They did have quite a lot of success and soon they opened another shop on the same street, at 16, Earlham Street. Here they sell tons of little gifts (this is kind of absurd since anything could be a gift, but you know, those kinds of things you only buy to make a gift knowing that nobody will ever use it but are cute) (not to say they don't rule because sometimes they do) (parenthesis mark party) that are generally unique because they collaborate with a lot of artists.

And finally, they opened another store in Manchester. Nice.

Covent Garden is an area in the center of the city that has tons of interesting things to see and is quite close to Tottenham Court Road, so I suggest you go there to spend some time. Soon I'll talk about other stores in the area, so you'll know about more places to visit (if you want to, OBVIOUSLY). There's also the Thomas Neal center, where you'll find another Artbox. London is a party, no doubt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

After Noah

Generally in life people tend to look at the bad things that happen everyday. It is understandable. Rapidshare, for instance, is a complete scam. But sometimes we have to look the other way to realize that there are tons of awesome things in life as well. A good example of this is the Irish band God Is An Astronaut. Another perfect example is After Noah, a CLASSY shop full of furniture, toys, stationery and more. And because this shop is so cool, I'm going to upload a thousand photos, give or take.

Part of the window display

After Noah opened for the first time on May 11, 1990, at 121, Upper Street, close to the Angel tube station. The idea was to mix old vintage objects and furniture with contemporary homeware. Little by little, many shops began to appear in London selling small gifts and homeware items that looked more or less the same. After Noah's goal then was to always have something interesting and unique to offer, items that couldn't be found just anywhere. And I think they've managed to do it. Everytime I go into this shop, I get really excited.

Years after they opened, they started adding new items to their catalog. If in the beginning After Noah was a little store on 121, Upper Street, they soon decided to add toys to their shop and this proved so succesfull that they opened up the adjacent store, number 122.

Here you can find many kinds of toys, from teddy bears to musical instruments for kids, some books, marbles, and more. They also have a lovely little shelf near the entrance with some sweets that look quite vintage (but they taste good, don't worry) (HAH). All this and the fact that it looks so crowded makes me think of the Diagon Alley (of which I am a complete fan).

And, obviously, they have a wide selection of Schleich figures, which I've loved since I was a kid:

Besides all these wonderful things (I insist - this place is a PARTY), there's another area where they have some carefully selected stationery, including stamps, notebooks, sets of envelopes and letters, and, of course, maps (I may have already mentioned that I LOVE maps) and other beautiful papers:

I have to say though that this shop is quite expensive, but these kind of places usually are, at least from what I've seen. In some cases it's completely understandable (some furniture, for instance), but these maps were £3.50, so if there's one you like a lot, I'd suggest you go to Stanfords (a map and travel shop of which I'll talk about in the future) first to see if they have it there, as they are about a pound cheaper.

In spite of this it is a really nice shop and you should really go see it if you ever happen to find yourself wandering around Angel. And if you're looking for old furniture, there's also another floor downstairs with more homeware, vintage phones (with awesome color combinations) and more maps.


I'll finish this SHORT post by saying that my brother and I have a cooking blog where we post nice recipes. He is studying to be a cook, and I take the pictures. I am translating them to English now, so if you ever run out of ideas when cooking, don't hesitate to check it out and post some comments if you think about recipes we should make!
It's called COULANT.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Louis Patisserie

Hello, world. I'm Andrea and I usually blog over at the art of staying up all night. Ever since I first went to London, the only thing I knew I wanted in life was to move there. I've visited many many times since then, and I've lived somewhere that allowed me to go into London several times a week, but the city still manages to amaze me every time. From now on I will be helping my friend Clara from time to time. I think this is absolutely delightful.

Do you know what else is delightful? The first place I'm gonna share with you; Louis Patisserie. Strange things happen often when I go to London. Things that don't make any sense, like going to London for one day to see a band, waking up at 7am and deciding to go all the way to Hampstead simply because I hadn't been there for a long time and I wanted to feel like Herr Freud or Mr Keats, who both lived in the area. I found Louis Patisserie at the right time for breakfast. A quick look at their window display made me salivate so much that I didn't hesitate and went in. Tea is served the way it should be served, despite the place being Hungarian (I absolutely ignore if Hungarian people are fond of tea), in a silver pot and delicate looking china cups. I was so overwhelmed by the choice of sweets that I asked the lady what she recommended. She suggested a Danish bun with apricot jam and I hesitated because I'm not the biggest fan of jam, but felt like I should order that anyway. As you can see in the photo, it looked delicious, and I can guarantee it tasted as good as it looked.

One of the best things about this place is that it didn't feel like being in London at all, and I know this is ironic considering I have just talked about how much I love London. It felt like being in a small town café where customer and owner are on first name terms. The decor looks like it hasn't changed at all since the opening in the early 60s, which makes the place even more charming and unique, especially in these times of massive coffee chains.

Hampstead at 8am

Text and photos by Andrea. Make sure you check out her blog, flickr, and etsy shop. We love being all over the Internet.
More guest posts to come soon!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Dear friends of the world wide web, I hope you are doing fine. I hope it is not too cold where you are now, and I hope it is not too cold in London, since we are talking about that city here. A swell city. I don't know why I'm talking like this. All I know is that, despite being November, I saw several people with shorts and t-shirts on the streets of Madrid. This weather is a mockery.

This here is a small part of the Angel neighborhood, a place full of stores and restaurants. Like any other place, really. But what they don't have is this awesome corner where they sell vintage items and, most importantly (for me, that is), stamps! Right when you get out of the tube station, after a two-minute walk, you'll find this small market full of awesome stuff. I think they can be found there on Saturday morning. On the little white building you can see on the back of the picture, there are several small shops where they sell clothes, books, and other vintage objects. If you walk past this corner straight on as you come from the tube, you'll find more shops and stalls selling wonderful things (well, some of them at least).

Although my favorite stall is the one selling stamps, because I've always loved stationery and these vintage stamps are the best. The real deal. I don't know where that expression comes from but I've always found it hilarious. This stall can also be found in the Portobello Market (Notting Hill) on Fridays.

The only problem is that they are quite expensive, the cheapest one costing 4 pounds. But I mean, personally I'm not going to get the whole collection, and what other people spend on videogames, make-up or partying, I spend on stamps. No wonder I have no friends. I'm kidding (that was a good one. I know).

Anyway. Once you've checked this place out, I'd say you should go have lunch on the Upper Street or somewhere around, you'll find the aforementioned Tenshi Restaurant, Byron (a hamburger restaurant), Ottolenghi (of which I'll talk about soonish) and other little places where they make nice food. And then you could go to After Noah, the best toystore and antique shop ever. I'll talk about it next time (and there will be a thousand photos, give or take).

I'll leave you with a photo of some of the stamps I own!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tenshi Restaurant

I must say that I love Japanese food. I recently realized, while browsing through my London photos, that most of the restaurants I have talked or will talk about are Japanese. Therefore I hope you enjoy this kind of food as much as I do! I promise I'll talk about other kinds of food sometime soon.

On 61, Upper Street there is a little restaurant barely noticeable between all the food chains surrounding it (such as Caffè Uno, etc.). Well, when I say barely noticeable I may be lying a bit, it's not like you can't see it, but it's not obviously there either. Or, whatever. Here is a picture of Tenshi Restaurant, so you can recognize it if you ever decide to go. Please notice the highly professional framing of the picture.

That CLOSED sign is a total LIE because right when I took this picture, two girls went inside. So don't let them fool you. Anyway. LOVE IT. I've been reading reviews about this restaurant on the web and they all agree on the fact that this is a good restaurant (the food, the service, the place, etc.). Apparently it opened recently, but soon the second floor will be available too (it is currently only open because the toilets are there).

Check out the first floor:

As far as the food is concerned, it is also very good. Or at least it was the two times I went there. But I have to admit that I always order the same thing - chicken teriyaki with rice. But there is a wide selection of dishes on the menu, including, of course, sushi, noodles, and more. Personally I think that one of the best options is ordering, for 8,95 pounds, the "Bento" menu, which comes in a wooden box (a Bento box) with several compartments where the food is served. If you ask the chicken teriyaki one it comes with chicken (obviously), rice, salad, vegetable tempura and a piece of omelette (though the latter may vary). It also includes miso soup. So good!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spitalfields Market

Hello friends. I recently found out about a pretty cool band called Cults, and I can't stop listening to this song. It's pure MAGIC.

Now let's talk about London. After mentioning it a couple (or hundred) of weeks ago, today I'm finally going to talk about the Spitalfields Market, an awesome market situated five minutes away from Brick Lane and Liverpool Street.

In this picture you can see a big part of the market. As you can see it basically consists of tons of stalls selling different things depending on the day. There are also shops surrounding these stalls in the red-brick buildings that are also worth checking out (there's a chocolate shop, a toy store, and more) and a great number of restaurants, so you can spend the whole day there. Well maybe not since it closes quite early in the afternoon. Anyway, I can't say much about these restaurants except that they look good, and that I ate at Wagamama, which is a chain of asian food that is quite good! Of course there is always the possibility of going further into Brick Lane and having lunch at independent restaurants.

As you can see on the website, the stalls change every day. From Monday to Wednesday only the shops are open; on Thursday the stalls sell antiques and vintage items; on Friday you'll find art and fashion; on Saturday there are only shops and on Sunday there is everything! On Thursday and Friday they open from 10h to 16h and on Sundays they open from 9h to 17h. I think the shops close a bit later, but I'd only go there for the stalls!

And obviously, my favorite day is Thursday. I love antiques. There's even a little stall where they sell cameras, film, and other items related to photography:

Basically, it's a must. As you can see there are a lot of interesting things to see and do in the Liverpool Street area. If you plan on going there I'd recommend you spend more than one day, especially seeing the closing times of most of the businesses.

Lastly, here is a picture of the market at night.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Café 1001

Dear friends, Yann Tiersen is awesome. I don't listen to him that much, but right now I'm living a highly emotive moment listening to "La valse d'Amélie" (the orchestral version).

But let's focus on Café 1001. This place, located in front of Rough Trade on Dry Walk (near Brick Lane and the Liverpool Street or Shoreditch tube stations), is a must. In order for you to (sort of) see it, here is a photograph that, although blurry, shows how cool this place is:

In these pictures you can see the top floor, or rather, the "mezzanine", but downstairs, as you enter the café (where you can buy the food) there are more tables. And I also believe that upstairs there is another room which is usually closed but that you can rent. I'm not sure, though. Personally the area I like the most is this "mezzanine", because it's very cozy, there's usually a good amount of people, the lighting is very nice, there's a little library, and there are tons of different and comfy sofas. There's also a tiny stage in a corner of the room where bands sometimes play live, but usually there's a DJ.

Another nice thing about this café is that the food is pretty good (I love the chocolate chip muffins), and you can enjoy it all day long until midnight (which is when the café closes). This is something very important to mention since lots of places close very early in this city. The big cafés like Starbucks, Eat or Prêt-à-Manger close around 20h. In fact I recently went to the Post Office to send some letters and it was closed at 18h. Which I think is a total JOKE. Anyway. The food is really good and there are vegan and vegetarian options, and they're all quite affordable. And when the warm weather is back, we'll go to the tables outside to have BAGELS. For example.

Lastly here are two pictures of total strangers that I post hoping they don't sue me. Please don't sue me. As you can see a lot of people bring their laptops, because there's free wifi. I don't see a reason no to go to Café 1001! (No they didn't pay me to talk about it) (Sadly). Peace.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blaze On

Hello friends.

These days I can't stop listening to Laura Veirs, especially her song "Where Gravity Is Dead", from her album Year of Meteors. I don't think she is the best singer ever, but her songs convey feelings of tranquility. Back in London I couldn't stop listening to Saltbreakers.

Also, I'm currently reading Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury and for now I can't understand a thing, as in, it's divided in four parts and the first one is told by a 33-year-old mentally handicapped man, and the second one (the one I'm reading now) is told in the mode of the stream of consciousness. But I've read that little by little the story is unveiled. I definitely hope so. I recently finished Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and I enjoyed it very much. He rules.

Now, I'm here to talk about London mainly, so I'll stop straying from this topic and talk about Blaze On, a nice little shop one can find in Camden Town.

It's a little chain (little, because there are two or three stores as far as I know) owned by a family. After travelling through Thailand, they decided to start this business that focuses mainly on illuminations. I must say though that a lot of these lights are a bit corny (for my taste), with flowers, fairies, and stuff like that. But others are pretty simple and really nice, which you can see in the top part of the picture or in their website. My favorite ones are the white lanterns and the "radiant/ambient lights" (which I own, by the way). And the prices are affordable, so if you want to decorate your room, you know where to go.

Here is a picture of what was my bedroom in London, where you can see the lights I bought (some of them were blue and green even though you can't really see it).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Camden Town

I've been meaning to listen to Eels for a while now, and I finally did when my friend Marta made me a mixtape comprising the song "Little Bird". The day after that I bought "End Times". I highly recommend it! And that is all as far as music is concerned (for today).

I haven't updated this blog in a long time because I've been enjoying summer and holidays. In a few weeks I'll be back to university again and so I wanted to get away from everything! But now I'm back and ready to keep translating the entries I posted on my Spanish blog - and hopefully I'll do it more frequently.

So, Camden Town. Since this is a blog about London, I guess I have to talk about this market. Even though it's not my favorite place in London, it does have plenty of interesting and even amazing stuff - it's so big that it would be hard not to find something one likes. And since it is so big, I will only talk about the area I liked the most - the Horse Tunnel Market, in the Stables Market - and let you discover the rest on your own.

Just so you know, over a 100,000 people walk around Camden Town during the weekend, and so the Camden Town tube station closes on Sundays from 13h to 17h (i.e., you can't go in but if you come from somewhere else you can get out). Mornington Crescent is not too far, though, so it's not that big of a deal. I also recommend you try avoiding going there on Saturday or Sunday because, as I said, it's crowded.

The stalls I like the most in this area of the market are the vintage ones (there is also a pretty nice toy store). You will find old trunks and suitcases (quite affordable, by the way), telephones, second-hand books, maps, old magazines and newspapers, etc.

I couldn't find rubber stamps though, and I'm a huge fan of those, but there are tons in Angel on Saturdays and sometimes at the Portobello Market (about which I will talk soon).

What you will definitely find is a lot of second-hand clothes.

Nice and useful flannel now that autumn is slowly approaching (not in Spain though...). Oh and don't come thinking these clothes will be all cheap, because for instance, these shirts cost 15 pounds... okay, it's not that expensive, but I thought you should know. There were also some Ray-Ban sunglasses for over 60 pounds. I also tell you this because this year has been the first time I've gone to tons of second-hand clothing stores and I always thought everything would be much cheaper. I guess it also depends on what you buy and where! Anyway. It rules. If only because of all the awesome maps.