This is London // Wes Kingdom at Fika

wes1I’ve been walking past this Bill Murray/Zissou illustration outside of Fika for a few weeks now, without any reason to pop-in and find out what it’s all about. When Xandra mentioned that there’s a pop-up Wes Anderson inspired installation, I squealed with delight and immediately made my way down to Brick Lane for tea & cake.

wes2The installation is a collaboration with illustrator, Dani, who curated the transformation of the Swedish cafe into an homage for the eccentric director. Fika’s evening menu was also transformed, with cocktails and meals inspired by Wes Anderson films – like the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from Rushmore and filled doughnuts inspired by the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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What I Wore // The Witching Hour

the-witching-hour.jpgEarlier this week I met up with the lovely Xandra for a stroll through Highgate Cemetery. It was the perfect setting for Halloween-y outfit photos and, as the resting place of Karl Marx and George Eliot, I’ve had it on my list of London haunts to visit. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for our visit. A dark, cloudy sky provided ominous mood lighting as we traipsed across the fallen leaves and through meandering paths. The cemetery itself is incredibly beautiful. It’s crowded and overgrown, with layers of history overlapping one another in a way that I found absolutely enchanting.  We happened upon a few pleasant surprises as well – like finding Douglas Adams’s grave, where fans have filled a bowl with pens in tribute to the prolific wordsmith.

For this outfit, I wanted to channel my inner witch. I tried to achieve this by layering a black slip with a lace maxi skirt. Knotting cardigans to create a cropped look is my new favourite trick and this helped maintain the silhouette I wanted. A few mystical adornments, like a large crystal ring and glass beads from the 1950s, pulled it all together. When Xandra commented that I was looking sorceress-y, I knew I’d gotten it right. What do you think?

the-witching-hour2DSC_0083highgate-cemeteryDSC_0107IMG_0477the-witching-hour3I’m wearing a 1950s vintage slip, a 1970s vintage lace maxi skirt, a thrifted cardigan (Banana Republic), vintage beads, a thrifted glitter belt, and vintage suede shoes.

Highgate Cemetery somehow managed to be charming and spooky all at the time. Plus, our adventure brought up lots of questions about the people buried there. An adventure that calls for further research is a good one in my books. The grounds are quite large and we only had a chance to visit the East Cemetery, so I hope to make another visit to walk through the other side.

What do you think about spending time in cemeteries – fascinating or too creepy?






P.S. Be sure to check out Xandra’s super chic orange & black getup.

This is London // Spamalot

spamalotI’m sure it’s no surprise that I absolutely adore London. The hustle and bustle is overwhelming for some, but it makes me come alive. I like feeling that I’m right in the middle of it all, that the world truly is at my fingertips. Knowing that I can wander down the street art laden path of Brick Lane or hop on the tube and stand in front of Big Ben whenever I’d like is extremely comforting. In this new series I’ll be sharing glimpses of London through my eyes, starting with my first time at a performance in London’s West End.

Broadway gets all the credit for being the theatre capital of the world, but you haven’t truly lived until you’ve teetered down the terrifyingly steep steps of a 100+ year old London theatre.

We bought our tickets to Spamalot from for 50% off more than a month before we flew over (it was such a nice treat to look forward to). If you’re planning a trip to London, I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter as they offer amazing discounts on hotels, flights, restaurants, theatre tickets, and other London experiences. If Spamalot seats aren’t on offer when you’re visiting, you can also book-in for 2-4-1 Tuesday to save yourself a pretty penny. And if you aren’t anywhere near London, there is a touring cast performing the show, so perhaps you can find a performance nearby.


As a long-time Monty Python fan (I grew up on The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and a VHS boxset of the TV show), this musical was top of my list for plays I wanted to see in London. Perhaps not a traditional theatre choice, but it was one I knew I’d enjoy. And I was far from disappointed. From start to finish, there was hardly minute that went by when I wasn’t laughing and my cheeks with aching by the end of it. A couple of times King Arthur himself had to take a moment to compose himself as a giggle slipped from his lips.

The play took almost all of the best bits from the film mixed with a couple of classic songs from their other films, some clever nods to their original sketches (Spam, anyone?), and a slew of hilarious contemporary references, to create a play that was absolutely hilarious, visually stunning, and genuinely uplifting.


And if the hilarity factor alone isn’t enough for you, perhaps the star-studded cast will entice you. King Arthur is now played by Family Fortunes’ host Les Dennis, who also recently appeared on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s Life’s Too Short. Warwick Davis makes his west-end debut as Arthur’s dutiful sidekick, Patsy, but you may have seen him before in a galaxy far, far away when he played Wald and Weazel in Star Wars Episode 1. Or perhaps you know him better as Professor Flitwick and the Goblin Bank Teller in the Harry Potter films. Keep your eyes peeled, because there are many other familiar faces in this play and the show is known for bringing out the occasional celebrity guest.

And it all ended with an audience sing-a-long to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I mean really, what could be better than that? If you’re looking for something that “takes silly to a whole new level,” this play is for you.

We ended the night with a quick stroll along the river to catch the glow of the London Eye, up past Westminster Abbey, and into Soho for a bite of cake before heading back to our hostel. It was pretty much the perfect way to end our first week in London.



London is Eating Me Alive

xandra-fashionably-lightMy plane touches down in London this morning and so I thought, what better way to celebrate than with a guest post by the lovely Xandra of Fashionably Light, who has been living her own English expat adventure for the past few years. Take it away, Xandra…

I think that my spirit animal is a chipmunk. I tend to scurry, and if I were an animal I would want to be small and cute. I also eat a lot. So like the chipmunk that I am, when I landed in London, keys to my own piece of the city at last, I dropped my bags and ran for the nearest tube station.

Day 1: Home furnishing shopping at Muji and Cologne and Cotton, stopping at Planet Organic for lunch and Daunt Books for dessert [Dessert was a book, to be consumed by the mind. Deep, right?], then meeting a friend for breakfast at midnight at VQ.

Day 2: Foodie adventures featuring brunch at the Borough Market, the El Bulli exhibit at Somerset House, Sketch Glade afternoon tea, topped with a cultural eve at the Old Vic.

Day 3: Regents Park Open Air for a Shakespearean matinee, strolling through Spitalfields Market, cosy-seated cinema at the Aubin, and post-film dinner at Pizza East.

Day 4: Walking from the Barbican to Bank just to see what’s in between, picnic in Hyde Park, photography exhibit at the Royal Geographical Society, walking with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.

Day 5: Collapsing, and watching How I Met Your Mother all day.

tower-bridgeAnd in the meantime, this writer did not give herself one moment to sit down and reflect. This minimalist writer, I should add, as simplicity is my game – yet here I was, consumed by the stuff around me. London London London London all day no break.

I thought I was prepared. I’ve been an ex-pat for three years now, studying in Oxford, pilgrimaging to London fortnightly for day-long urban adventures. A day, I’ve found, is the right length for cultural stimulation, for pumping life and adventure into me. Library fuel. But longer than that? It’s a bit of an overload. Full-on fun every day is not as desirable as it sounds.

Since arriving I’ve been building up a craving for countryside. For reading Jane Austen novels and knitting. For sitting in a tree and graze gazing [that's the term I coined for the ever-thrilling practice of watching sheep. They're adorable].

So I’ve revised my strategy. I’ve calmed down. This chipmunk, out of her natural habitat, is pacing herself. Equipped with the research from my beautiful guidebooks (London Style Guide by Saska Graville, The Goddess Experience by Giséle Scanlon, and my own work-in-progress Moleskine City Notebook), Time Out London, and my morning emails from The Londonist, I craft my week carefully. I use a diary with small enough spaces that I don’t over-cram. I pick one adventure per day only and leave the rest to spontaneity. These adventures are based around my spiritual needs. London is vast, and though metropolitan, has pockets of rural wonderland – urban farms, rolling fields of park, whimsical teas served by cozy sofas. The best way to spend a Sunday, I’ve found, is Puppy-Counting in Hyde Park. Record is 49, so far.

Keep it simple,


The Expat Diaries // Why London?

expatdiaries1When I tell people I’m moving to London, they generally exclaim something like, “That’s so exciting!” I nod and maybe squeal a little bit, oohing and awing about how much I love the city. And then there’s often a sudden shift and I hear one of three things:

bulletheart ”So, do you have a job there? Are you going to school?”
bulletheart ”That’s going to be so expensive.” (or rainy, crowded…choose your negative adjective).
bulletheart ”Wow, good for you!”

The third response is definitely in the minority. It comes only from wildhearts – that special breed of people who are comfortable living in their own direction. The ones who chase their larger-than-life dreams even though they’re risky and don’t look anything like a traditional definition of success. These people are my tribe. They get it.

buckinghampalaceBut the first two responses have often left me shuffling my feet and staring at my shoes. Um, no, I’m not going to London for a practical reason like work or school. Not exactly anyway. I don’t even have a place to live yet. Mumble, mumble.

I don’t mean to suggest that these people are consciously trying to make me feel small. Although, on some level, I do think they’re trying to take me down a peg.

Bold choice spark big reactions in people – often negative ones. But if you’re prepared for it, you can see how it’s simply a reflection of their fears about their own lives. Although their words might cut to the quick of my own fears, they really have nothing to do with me.

So I remember that have a wildheart. That this is the best thing for me. And I’m certainly not jumping into this decision without thinking. I’ve worked hard to make it happen. I have money in the bank, enough work to pay the bills, and I’m about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

expatdiaries-fscottBut, if not for work or school, why am I going?

This great F. Scott quote sums up what I know in my heart to be true. London is the right place for me to be right now. Not because it’s fated to be so or because it fits into some perfect master plan, but because it’s the perfect incubator for the person I’m becoming. Because it will push me and stretch me and thrill me in all the right ways.

I was cleaning my bedroom on the weekend and came across a stack of notebooks from high school. One is full of story fragments, each of them about a girl who leaves her hometown to find herself amidst the tilt-a-whirl of lights somewhere far away. My heart has always been pulled towards big cities. First it was Toronto calling to me, and now London has me under her spell.

I crave the electric energy from millions of people pursuing their passions. I yearn for long walks beside the River Thames, picnics in London Fields, and to once again stumble upon historical landmarks I’ve only seen in books. I daydream of cheap seats on budget airlines and last minute trips to places I’ve never been. I imagine afternoons in front of artistic masterpieces, evenings at pop-up art exhibits, and late night dance parties that never stop. I want to be in the thick of it. I want to be in London.

And so, for the sake of my writing, my spirit, my happiness, and my future grandchildren (they’re going to love the London stories), I’m moving. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve come to accept that to most, it doesn’t seem like a completely sane decision. For me, it just seems like the practical next time step in living the life I want. And I’m infinitely grateful for all of you other wildhearts who just get it and are here cheering me on. Whether you’re building a home according to your own values, carving out your career as an entrepreneur, or following your gypsy soul across the globe, I’m so glad that the internet connects us. Know that I’m here, standing in awe of you and your amazing dreams.

With a wildheart,




P.S. I’m really looking forward to this new column and not only sharing my adventures abroad, but also the experience of being an expat in London. If you have questions about any aspect of the process so far, please e-mail me and I’ll answer it in a future article.