My 2018 London wish list

My 2018 plans involve a lot of travel. Which is super exciting.

But they also involve a lot of time at home in London. Which I might* be even more excited about.

Hashtag home-buddy-and-nothing’s-wrong-with-that.

My 2018 London wish list ● Cake + Whisky

Especially because there’s a lot in this incredible city I want to do this year…

  • See Wicked (the musical) 

I got tickets for it last week but I messed the dates up and wasted said tickets.

But, I’m still just as in love with the Wicked soundtrack and 2018 is the year when I hear it live!

  • Dine at St John (booked)

St John is a legend of the London restaurant scene and one whose philosophy I 100% get behind. And it’s about 5min away from the flat I moved to about 10 months ago.

And yet, I haven’t managed to get myself down there yet.

Something clearly need to be done and soon!

  • Visit the Barbican Conservatory

Another one that’s been on my list since we moved into our Clerkenwell flat. Another one I haven’t managed to fit into our weekends so far.

It has greenhouses and tropical plants and amazing light so I really don’t know what I’ve been waiting for tbh.

My 2018 London wish list ● Cake + Whisky

  • See more of East London

One of my favourite London memories from last year was a visit to the Columbia Flower Market, followed by lunch at Monty’s Deli.

There’s just something about East London in the daytime that’s so beautiful, ecclectic and fun and I definitely want to make sure I make plans to get more of this in my near future.

Things along the lines of lunch at The Marksman (this custard tart will be mine!), more Columbia Road flowers, Beigel Bake bagels, brunch at Morito… Anything else I need to add to the East London list?

  • Eat at Temper City

We loved having dinner at Temper‘s Soho restaurant last year.

And then they went and opened a new venue in the city, where they focus on applying Indian flavours to their winning meat-and-cocktail concept.

So yeah, that’s happening soon…

  • Go to the (not quite so new anymore) Design Museum

It’s my favourite London museum. The new venue has been open for aaaaaages. And I haven’t been yet.

I’ll let you do the math.

My 2018 London wish list ● Cake + Whisky

  • Make the most of the Open House Day

Last year, we visited London City Hall and I’m still not quite over how fantastic that wonky building looks from the inside!

This time around, I’d like to get a closer look at some of my other favourite London buildings, maybe the gorgeous Courts of Justice, or the Gherkin…

  •  Climb Primrose Hill

Never been though it seems to be a must-do. See where I’m going with this?

  •  Explore more tiny streets & take more pictures for no reason whatsoever

Because it’s not all about blogging/instagraming/creating some content…

What’s on your London wish list this year? Any place you can’t wait to (re)visit?

*might because, well, our US travel plans involve a return visit to Katz’s Deli and a first-time visit to In-n-Out, so yeah, there’s that.

My 2018 London wish list

27 things I’m looking forward to

Today’s my 27th birthday.

And for the first time in literally forever, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Birthday wishes • Cake + Whisky

Not because I don’t want to be old or any of this nonsense, but I’m going through a rough patch at the moment, with lots of things to work through and sort out and I somehow wish my birthday wasn’t caught in the middle of it all.

So yeah, not the happiest of birthday this time ’round.

But it doesn’t stop me looking forward to the year ahead and all the good things it will bring, including all of the below…

  1. Going to Cuba
  2. FINALLY eating at El Pastor (muuuuuuch excited for dinner tonight!!)
  3. Wearing my new blue suede ballerinas
  4. Christmas – family gatherings, Christmas cocktail parties, glittery lights, wrapping presents, over-eating, all of it!
  5. Seeing Wicked in the theatre
  6. And Les Miserables too (hopefully)
  7. Watching the new Crime of the Orient Express movie
  8. Reading the upcoming new Dan Brown book
  9. Catching up with friends in Paris
  10. Finally seeing the Royal Opera House’s production of Alice in Wonderland (after all, it did take me 5 years to get tickets…)
  11. Finding prints for our bedroom (I love this one but it wouldn’t really work…)
  12. Getting to wear my signature perfume once again (an early birthday present from me to myself)
  13. Hosting more house parties
  14. Perfecting my skillet cookie recipe (it’s coming people, it’s coming!)
  15. Exploring more of London, always
  16. Visiting my baby bro’ first proper appartment
  17. Teaching myself how to make puff pastry
  18. Buying new underwear (some like shoes, some like bags, I like underwear. Deal with it.)
  19. Visiting the Barbican conservatory
  20. Taking too many pictures (obv)
  21. Seeing Sheldon marry Amy #teamshamy
  22. Lighting up this candle (it smells divine)
  23. Doing more crafty things – be it embroidery, hand lettering or just colouring
  24. Getting a new laptop (fingers crossed)
  25. Finally getting around to watching some classic movies (can you believe I’ve never seen E.T. or Titanic?)
  26. Learning new things
  27. And, most importantly, finding my way back to a happy, peaceful me (hopefully)
27 things I’m looking forward to

12 Fool-proof Ways to Get into the Festive Spirit

In just two more weeks, Christmas will have come and gone. But weirdly enough, the closer the C-day gets, the less it really feel like Christmas to me…

Maybe it’s a case of early cranberry & cinnamon tiredness (in which case I would have no choice but to plead guilty) or my brain’s last desperate attempt to slow time down (so I actually have time to get everything done), but the fact is, my Christmas spirit-o-meter has been running low for the past few days.

But I simply love Christmas too much not to fit as much as possible into this whole month, so something had to be done.

So if the festive cheer hasn’t quite reached you yet (or if it’s trying to leave early), then here’s a checklist of tried-and-tasted ways to get into the festive spirit.

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

1. Decking the halls.

Whether you go all out, put up a tree with lights, bobbles, garlands and then some, or the less-is-more way with a little festive corner, any amount of hall-decking will do wonders for your Christmas spirit-o-meter!

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

2. Festive baking

The more of them you make/eat, the merrier you get. Trust me, I have the experience to back this up. Nothing like mixing, baking, icing and sprinkling to get into the festive spirit!

3. Opening your advent calendar.

Counting down days, building anticipation AND getting treats along the way… So, so much better than regular calendars!

4. Cinnamon anything everything.

Cinnamon roll, cinnamon cookies, cinnamon chocolate truffles, cinnamon granola, cinnamon-scented orange salad… Don’t miss any opportunity you get to make every single bite you take ’til the 26th a festive one!

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

5. Hot chocolate with little marshmallows on top.

With cream on top, obviously. Everyone knows that Christmas calories don’t count, so better make the most of it while you can!

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

6. Taking yourself on a lil’ Christmas lights/windows tour.

Wrap up warm and take yourself on a walk/drive around the ‘hood to see the twinkly lights in all their twinkly glory. Do not however sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star’ as you go or it’ll be stuck in your head forever (you’re welcome).

7. ALL THE MULLED DRINKS!!

Wine, cider, fruit juice… Whether you’re off the booze or very much on it this Christmas, a mulled drink of some sort is an absolute must to get the ho-ho-ho vibes going.

Most supermarkets sell spice mix you can warm up over the stove with your poison of choice, or you can easily mix your own.

8. Peeling an orange.

There’s something about the smell of citrus that makes everything feel super merry. Aromatheraphy? Magic? Who knows / cares?!

10. A visit to your local Starbucks.

Because gingerbread-toffee-eggnog filled red cups and the most festive of Chrismas playlist are absolutely the way to get even the Grinch-iest of people have a Christmas movie marathon.

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

11. Do some Christmas shopping.

Nothing will warm your heart the way buying something you know will put a big smile on your fave faces will.

Remind yourself of that when you have to elbow your way through the Oxford Street crowds. And also of the fact that, despite it sounding all Agatha Christie-esque, a Christmas Murder would sort of get in the way of all the eating, drinking and being merry.

12 ways to get into the festive spirit | Cake + Whisky

12. If all else fails, just switch off & spend time with your loved ones.

Because that (and a brilliant excuse to eat cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner) is what Christmas is really all about! 

Actually, that’s what I’ll be up to for the next two weeks or so, so things might slow down a bit over here and on social media. In the meantime, you guys have the most festive of times!

What are you favourite ways to get festive? Anything I definitely need to try to go back to my cinnamon-fuelled, extra merry self?

12 Fool-proof Ways to Get into the Festive Spirit

10 French places (that are not Paris) you must visit

When it comes to tourism in France, Paris definitely dominates the headlines.

And while it is charming, magical and a place everyone should visit at least one, this doesn’t mean other French cities should be overlooked!

Snowy mountains, golden sand beaches, no-house-for-miles countryside, buzzy cities, adorable little towns, France has it all.

And because there’ll be more than enough ‘Paris’ content coming to this blog very, very soon (I’m on my way there as you read this!), I thought it was only fair to balance things out by sharing 10 other French places you absolutely must put on your travel bucket list.

1. Lyon

Located in the South East of France, near the Swiss border, there are many reasons to put Lyon at the very top of your travel bucket list.

Lyon | 10 French cities (that are not Paris) to visit

First things first, food.

France is always acclaimed for its gastronomy, and Lyon is the capital city of French gastronomy. No molecular food to be seen there! Lyonnaise cuisine focuses on home cooked dishes and the classics, with the ultimate aim of highlighting carefully chosen ingredients.

Lyon, France

Lyon’s ‘bouchon’ restaurants are the place to go to taste the best local dishes such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork along with local wines. Much like tapas bars in Barcelona, the locals have their favourites and will happily give you tips.

Lyon | 10 French cities everyone must travel to

Besides being a delicious city, Lyon is also a beautiful one and is home to 2,000 years of history. The Historic Site of Lyons has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 and includes examples of Roman and Renaissance architecture.

2. Saint Malo

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

Located on the English Channel, Saint Malo is a walled port city with a badass history!

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

Traditionally with an independent streak (and a tradition of asserting its autonomy in dealings with the French authorities and even with the local Breton authorities), Saint-Malo was in the past notorious for privateering.

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

The city still shows marks of its hectic past, making it the perfect destination for history nerds and pirates lovers!

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

And then, there are some of the most beautiful beaches in France, green-toned water, the freshest seafood… and SALTED CARAMEL!

Read more: 10 reasons to visit Saint Malo / Sailing to Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries / 10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo

3. Corsica

Corsica | 10 French places for your travel bucket list

A small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea (and the birthplace of Napoleon), Corsica is nothing like mainland France.

Corsica | 10 places in France to visit before you die

Mountains make up two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain and creating jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes and the dreamiest of backgrounds for hiking.

Corsica | 10 places in France too beautiful for words

Surrounded by the sea, covered in forests and under a rather mild weather, Corsica is the perfect destination if you’re in for a bit of a walk on the wild side!

4. Strasbourg

Strasbourg | 10 French cities to visit before you die

Strasbourg, the capital city of the Alsace region, sits near the German border in northwestern France and it’s the perfect example of what makes border cities so special.

Strasbourg architecture, much like its culture, blends German and French influences perfectly.

Strasbourg | 10 French cities to put on your travel bucket list

And there’s a lot to see: from the breath-taking gothic Cathedrale Notre Dame to the hyper-modern European Parliament building, as well as many other EU-related buildings and the too-cute-for-words Petite France area, Strasbourg is a small city that packs up a lot!

Strasbourg | 10 French cities perfect for a weekend getaway

Perfect for a (potentially Flamenküche-and-beer-fueled) weekend city break!

5. Nantes

Nantes | 10 best French cities to visit

Long rated one of France’s best places to live, the capital of the western Loire was once a powerful maritime city. Nowadays, the waterways are not as influential as they once were, but Nantes has many other aces up its sleeves.

Nantes | 10 best French cities to travel to

There’s something fascinating about how the old (including the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, former home of the Dukes of Brittany and Anne de Bretagne) mixes with the new and a walk through Nantes will take you way into the past and back.

Nantes | 10 best French cities to travel to

Even more interesting is Nantes’ ever-growing number of art and cultural diversions. Highlights include open-air Les Machines de L’Ile, an unprecedented artistic project channeling Jules Verne’s “invented worlds”, of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, where you can ride a 12-m elephant-machine, as well as a trip to Le Lieu Unique,the national center for contemporary arts, housed in a former biscuit factory at the center of the city.

Nantes | 10 French cities everyone should visit

And no visit to Nantes is complete without a feast on the region’s food specialities, including fish with beurre blanc sauce, Gateau Nantais (a kind of iced almond cake), all washed down with a chilled glass of crisp muscadet!

6. Lille

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Lille is an architectural beauty with strong Flemish influences, but it’s also a historical hot-spot.

Long an industrial centre, Lille has made major efforts to reviev itself in the last two decades it has made great efforts to revive itself, efforts that were rewarded with Lille becoming the European City of Culture in 2004.

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Most of the city old buildings have been renovated to their original beauty and are well worth a look, especially the Old Stock Exchange building and the magnificent Grand’ Place, which has many historic houses and is also home to markets and other public events.

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Less famous but equally stunning is La Piscine, the craft & industry museum, worth a visit for the outstanding art deco interior and the mosaic indoor swimming pool alone!

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Flea market lovers will want to plan their visit around the Grande Braderie de Lille, the largest flea market in Europe, taking place at the beginning of September and gathering about 2.5 millions visitors each year.

7. Bordeaux

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

Bordeaux is of course the destination of choice for any wine lover. From vineyard tours to pretigious tasting sessions and wine festivals, there’s something for everyone and every budget.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

And while oenology and gastronomy are at the heart of many a trip to Bordeaux, there are many more reasons to pay the European Best Destination 2015 a visit.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

A city at the crossings between past and future, Bordeaux is elegant and surprising. From the amazing mirror of water to the monumental Grand Theatre and its small-street city centre, it’s truly a city of contrasts.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

On foot, by bike, tram, Bordeaux deserves to be explored before re-joining the docks in the evening for a stroll and a taste of the region’s many specialties on the edge of the river.

8. Annecy

Annecy | 10 best French cities to travel to

Settled on the shores of the Lake, and surrounded by mountains and woods, Annecy is one of the most popular towns in the Alps, and with good reasons as it combines the advantages of a town with unlimited water-based and mountain-related activities, such as hicking, cycling, pedal-boat on the lake, or even swimming.

Annecy | 10 best French cities to travel to

The old town is also well worth climbing to, with buildings dating back to the 12th century and many a great ice cream parlour to reward your effort!

9. Ile de Ré 

Ile de Ré | 10 best French cities to travel to

Located bang in the middle of continental France only a couple of miles away from the Atlantic coast, Ile de Ré is my happy place.

It’s where I spent all my holidays growing up, and I go back every opportunity I get.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

It’s a beautiful little island, all in shades of blue and green, with white houses, endless beaches of golden sand, salt marshes as far as the eye can see and loads of bikes.

Cake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beach

There’s more markets than you could possbily hope for, all bursting with fresh produce, gorgeous little restaurants dotted around the island, and the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

(and seeing that as you read that, I’m wiggling my toes in the sand on one of Ile de Ré’s beautiful beaches, expect more Ile de Ré pics coming your way very, very soon!)

10. Disneyland!

Disneyland Paris | 10 best French cities to travel to

Alright, alright, that last one is cheating a little bit… But then, when a place makes perfectly responsible adults act like 6-year-olds, surely it is worth a visit!

10 French places (that are not Paris) you must visit

2016 travel wish list

The year has only just started but I already feel like I could use a holiday. Which led to some serious wanderlusting over the past few days!

I must admit that the cold weather (and the fact that the windows in my flat let quite a bit of wind through!) are probably to blame for this.

Pretty much anywhere that’s sunny and hot would do the trick right now, but on a more long-term perspective, here are a handful of things that are on my travel wanderlust list this year.

1. Eat pasta in Italy

Hopping on a Vespa, roaming through the world’s most famous churches, and eating all the carbs. Doesn’t it sounds like the dream?

2. Paris is always a good idea

For most people, Paris is the city of love, but for me, it’s mainly about croissants, reconnecting with old friends and hopefully seing Versailles’ gardens in full bloom. And I simply can’t wait for all of this to become reality again.

3. Walk in the Incas’ footsteps in Peru

This one has been ranking high on my wishlist for a very, very long time. The Incan civilization is such a fascinating one!

4. Day adventures near home

Except for the odd trip to Brighton to stock up on Bluebird tea, I almost never travel across the UK, and that obviously needs to change.

What’s your dream destination for 2016?

(No worries if you’re a little low on funds though, just take part in the Ice Lolly Holiday #SendMeAway giveaway for a chance to win ££ towards your dream holiday!)

* pictures source available via Pinterest

2016 travel wish list

10 Things to do in London for Christmas

For more than a month now, I’ve spent most of my time thinking about Christmas

(but then, it comes early to London, where I first spotted mince pies at my local Sainsbury’s in September!)

Counting days, making lists (of presents, of food ideas, of things to do… the list (of lists!) is basically endless), drinking mulled wine, eating mince pies…

And now that all the Fah-la-la-la-ing has become socially acceptable, I thought it was about time for a little list of the best things to do in London for Christmas!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

1. Tour the city to see the lights

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

This is probably my favourite thing about the festive season in London.

With all its lights twikling bright, the city looks so different and even more beautiful than the rest of the year!

Make sure your ‘light tour’ include Covent Garden (more on that below) and Regent Street as they’re my absolute faves this year!

2. Eat your weight in mince pies

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Did you know that Christmas food has absolutely no calorie whatsoever? #TrueFact

(that I may or may not have just invented as I heard rumours that Crosstown Doughnuts created a Mince Pie doughnut for the festive season!!)

3. Drink hot cocktails

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Mulled wine is a Christmas staple, so a few cups of it is highly recommended to get the party started!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

But I’d also recommend you give Cinnamon Soho’s Rum Hot Toddy a try!

Strong, yet fragrant with notes of cinnamon, orange and all things Christmas-ey, it’s an absolute winner in my book!

4. Kiss under the mistletoe

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Covent Garden‘s giant mistletoe decorations, that is.

So romantic (especially if you get a few macarons from Ladurée while you’re at it… #JustSaying).

(Please note that there are also giant disco balls, if you’re more in the mood for party!)

5. Witness (or take part in) a Santa Run!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

One Santa is good, but dozens and dozens of them is better. Obviously.

6. Go to a Christmas Carol Service

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Let’s be honest. You’ll have to queue in the cold. For a while.

But I promise it’ll all be worth it.

I have great memories of an Advent service at Westminster Abbey a few years ago; such beautiful voices in such a beautiful place!!

7. Taste as many Christmas specials as you can!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

There’s more to Christmas food than mince pies and candy cane!

From Pret‘s Christmas Menu (I’m eye-ing the Beef Wellington baguette…) to Cranberry-and-turkey filled burgers (the beast above’s from Hache) and all sorts of cinnamon-y desserts, restaurants really are working hard at pushing that festive food thing to its limits.

Trying it all is going to be quite a challenge, but I’m not one to give up in the face of adversity.

8. Join into a Christmas street party

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Christmas lights, loads of food, discounts in stores and loads of fun activities…

Basically all of the best things about Christmas packed into one night!

Carnaby Street‘s and Seven Dial’s are especially popular destinations, and other favourites of mine include Columbia Road‘s and Exmouth Market‘s.

9. Go present shopping (& window viewing!)

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Departments stores are well worth touring both in search of the perfect present for everyone on your list and to see their amazing window displays.

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Fortnum & Mason is always a must (I could stay hours marvelling at the details!)!

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + WhiskyBest things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

But then it seems every store has outdone itself this year (above: Paperchase, Cath Kindston & Accessorize)!

10. Getting ready for all the festive craziness to come

Best things to do in London for Christmas | Cake + Whisky

Christmas is probably the most tiring time of the year, so taking time for oneself ahead of it is always a good idea.

Be nice to yourself. Have nice food (and maybe throw some extra veggies inthere?). Sleep loads. Take a nice walk. Don’t stress too much about your never-ending lists. Enjoy.

And relaaaaaax!

Now, can I get a Fah-la-la-la-la over here? 

10 Things to do in London for Christmas

10 things you should never do on a bank holiday weekend

Three glorious days off! Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Until you start making plans, that is…

Sorry we're Closed sign - Cake + Whisky

1. Plan to go to the bank
It’s all in the name, really.

2. Plan to go to the Post Office
Wouldn’t it be a bit too convenient if your local Post Office was actually open when you’re at home and would have time to go and –finally- send all those eBay orders / belated birthday postcards?

3. Go shopping
Oxford Street is enough of a nightmare on a regular weekend thank you very much.

4. Get your phone/laptop/Internet connection/water boiler fixed, or a haircut/manicure
If you find anybody who’s actually working on a bank holiday, chances are he/she is already triple-book. Give up on the idea of doing anything productive of your weekend, really.

5. Take a trip
Sure, travelling sounds like a dream in theory, but trust me, the prices and the crowds makes this idea more than debatable in practice. Just imagining the lines to pass security at Heathrow gives me chills.

6. Go to a slide and ice cream festival
Eating ice cream for lunch, going down slides and giggling all day is not what responsible grown-ups do on a bank holiday I’m afraid.

7. Organise an impromptu dinner party
Supermarkets’ opening hours are not going to be doing anything for you on that one… And how could you do without all those “essentials” Waitrose is famous for? #YESBriocheIsEssential

8. Clean your whole house
The first thing your colleagues will ask you on Tuesday morning is what you did on the weekend, and spring-cleaning is nowhere near as glamourous as the answer they’re expecting. You deserve better.

9. Have a picnic
Not that the weather is unpredictable in this lovely country of ours or anything… #WinterInAugust

10. Bake cake
Despite my advance notice (see #5), it’s very likely all your friends/family/neighbours will be away for the weekend and you’d have to eat it all by yourself while watching re-runs of the Great British Bake Off… Wouldn’t that be terrible?

Obviously, I’m planning on doing most of those things anyway (I mean, NO WAY I’m missing a slides and ice cream event!)… What about you? Any cool plans for the weekend?

10 things you should never do on a bank holiday weekend