Tag Archives: Spitalfields

The Beginning

It’s hard to know where to start. I guess it makes sense to start at the beginning. In late 1999, a year into our marriage, Dave and I had just purchased our first home – a tiny flat in the heart of Spitalfields. We had literally just finished furnishing it when Dave returned home from work one day and asked ‘how do you like the idea of moving to Atlanta?’. At 28, no kids and a career I wasn’t married to, I LOVED the idea.

Me outside our Spitalfields flat in 2011

‘Well you can always come back can’t you!’

‘You’ll never know till you’ve tried it!’

‘Better to have regretted trying than never try at all!’

These are all things we said to ourselves as we both landed firmly on the side of moving. Our friends thought we were mad or brave. Either way I think most were pretty surprised when Dave headed over to start work in March 2000. In the meantime I was working for an investment bank in the City and obviously getting a transfer visa with them wasn’t going to happen, though they did offer me a position NYC – still quite a commute from Atlanta! So I hedged. I had started my career with Price Waterhouse as an IT consultant – that’s Price Waterhouse with an office in nearly every major city in the world, including Atlanta. So I took the risk of leaving my job with Dresdner to return to Price Waterhouse – claiming I’d made a huge mistake leaving, and knowing in the back of my mind there was still no guarantee that they would help me get to Atlanta. However, it was the best chance I had of going with a job, and more importantly back then, a visa. After just a month back in the job I announced that my Husband had been relocated…and errrr….is there any chance you can relocate me too? Incredibly it all fell into place. I traveled over to Atlanta to interview with the office here – the Partner happened to be English too which helped a lot – and within a month I had a Visa, a job, a one way ticket to Atlanta, and a flat to rent out in London. It all happened so quickly that a friend of ours even sold our car for us, as we weren’t there to do it ourselves!

We came with no plans to stay or leave…basically no plans at all except to have LOTS of fun and relish life in the sun. It was like being on a constant vacation. That was 18 years ago. Little did I know then that 3 houses, 2 kids, countless cars, several dogs and a business later we’d be considering moving back to the UK.

Circle of friends.

Number of trains (including tubes) : 12

Number of buses : 1

Miles walked : countless

Glasses of white wine drunk : too many

Curries eaten : 1

Kebabs eaten : 1

What an amazing weekend.  Not sure where to start – how about the beginning?  I traveled down to London on Friday, and if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will have seen me documenting my journey South.  The train is a fab way to see England again.

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After a quick tube ride to Liverpool St I wandered to my hotel in the FREEZING cold snow.  I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Shoreditch – and yes I used to work for IHG so could be accused of being bias – but I have to say if you need a hotel in central London for a couple of nights it was perfect.  A great location for the City and the Central Line – not to mention being close to the great bars and restaurants of Spitalfields and Shoreditch.  I’ll definitely stay there again.

Friday night was perfect.  I met up with an old, good friend and we re-connected.  It has been 2 years since I saw her – too long in my book.  We had a few beers at the famous Golden Heart pub – where we use to drink in the late 90s, then headed to Brick Lane for a curry.

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Trousers – Zara sequin velvet trousers (sale bargains) // Sneakers – Converse one star // Top – Zara // Leather jacket – Zara // Scarf – H&M old

I was a bit worried about a sore head Saturday morning but I actually felt great – I think I was so excited to meet up with all my virtual blogging friends that a hangover didn’t even take hold.  I headed off to Bond St. nervous but oh so excited.  In fact I was so excited I think I said it aloud a few times to the bemusement of fellow travelers.  People don’t really talk to each other in London do they?  I forgot about that.  I was so excited to be on Oxford St again – it was brilliant.  Marlene, Sue and Avril and I recognized each other instantly.  All we could say was how ‘weird’ but fabulous it was to see each other in the flesh.  We then met up with Kat, Beth, Natalie, Fiona and Helen at the restaurant.  Everyone was pretty much just as we imagined each other.  We talked and talked, and drank and drank from 12 – 10pm – not bad hey?  I could have kept going as I had no children to get home to and only head back to the hotel.  Instead, quite sensibly I headed back to the hotel to Skype MM, with a kebab in hand – classy:)  It was amazing to meet everyone – I feel like I have a fantastic group of friends who are so supportive – thanks girls.  The photo is taken early in the day before chat degenerated:)

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Sunday was a lovely family day spent with my Brother-in-law and family.  He’d made a roast dinner for us and it was great to kick my shoes off and relax.  We headed to the park to blow away the cobwebs and had great fun playing football with my nephew and niece.  A great family day to end a great weekend.  I’m very happy to be back at Mum and Dad’s now and enjoy the rest of the week before heading home to my wee ones who I miss more than anything right now.

 

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Settling Down?

ON FRIDAY IT WILL BE A YEAR SINCE MY FIRST BLOG POST!  TO CELEBRATE I THOUGHT I WOULD REPUBLISH SOME POSTS FROM BACK THEN THAT A) I REALLY ENJOYED WRITING AND B) SO MORE RECENT READERS CAN FIND OUT A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME IN ADDITION TO WHAT I HAVE IN MY CLOSET:)  ENJOY!

First published Jan 22nd 2012:

While waiting for MM to bring the Chinese home last night I ended up having an online conversation with someone about the East End of London (does that sound as sad as I think it does for a Saturday evening’s activities?).  Before we moved here to Atlanta in March 2000 MM and I had lived in various parts of London.  Oddly working from the most expensive to some of the cheaper (if not a bit dodgy at the time) areas as our incomes increased. We started in West Kensington, then moved to Notting Hill, then Camden, then Whitechapel, ending up ultimately in Spitalfields.

West Kensington was odd to say the least. We moved in to a 3rd floor flat in a house that was under renovation at the time, owned by some dotty Irish woman who was, I suspect,  drinking all the contractors wages away.  It also happened to be across the street from a hostel/halfway house where there were frequent yelling matches, if not fist fights (I was always most concerned about where my little Vauxhall Nova was parked for fear of damage).  Relaxing – not.  However, considering I was still a PhD student and MM was working for zero gaining ‘experience’ on a football magazine, it was not a bad place to live and certainly got me used to the eccentricities and chaos of living in London.

Next came Notting Hill. MM had me sold on location, location, location.  We used to head up to Portobello Road a lot and loved ambling along there at the weekend and bar hopping in the evenings.  The only problem is of course that W11 is one of the most expensive, exclusive postcodes in London so trying to find a flat with the budget of a student and a ‘part time’ worker was nigh on impossible.  Until that is the Ledbury Road property came up.  Ledbury Road – how cool is that – 2 blocks away from Portobello, always in the heart of Notting Hill carnival, close enough to Loftus Road and on one of the most exclusive roads in W11 – so how could there be a flat there we could afford?  Well on arrival we found out.  In a row of amazing town houses there was one that was not so amazing, completely dilapidated in fact.  MM managed to convince me it was still worth a look.  We headed up the creaky stairs through the house that had been converted into 5 flats – one on each floor.  As we entered the 2nd floor flat my heart sunk further.  It was tiny, no central heating, no shower, and a huge damp patch on the bathroom wall.  There was no way I could live there – that was until we entered the ‘living’ room – I was in love with the huge double windows that opened up on to a private balcony.  Yes our own private balcony, on Ledbury Road, in Notting Hill!!  Still, however, unconvinced MM took me to the Ground Floor bar (now only 10 mins walk from the flat), bought me several Moscow Mules and an hour later I agreed we should rent it – I’m such a push over.  We lived there happily for about 4 years enjoying many wild nights out and investigating each new fungus that grew on the carpet.

Ledbury Road as it looks today.

Ledbury Road

After getting my PhD and starting my first job as a Management Consultant (dead professional now…) I figured 1997 was the time to move on and graduate from student living.  We loved having a market to wander through at the weekend and knew Camden Town would be a place we could get more for our money, so we headed to NW1 and Camden Square.  The basement flat was by no means big but it did have some modern comforts like central heating and a shared garden – imagine that – no mold!  Only problem with Camden Square was it was a pain for transport – I wouldn’t wish the Northern Line every day on my worst enemy…

Working in The City had opened my eyes to the thrill of walking through Bishopsgate, Leadenhall Market, Spitalfields and seeing The Thames every day.  Also our friends were now living in Old Street so we were doing more and more of our partying in Shoreditch, particularly Charlotte Road where there were lots of cool new bars and restaurants – we were so hip.  MM was now happily employed and finances were a little more comfortable so in 1998 we embarked on our search to own our first place.  You would not believe the shoe boxes they tried to pass off as one bedroom flats in our price range back then.  We had given up our lease in Camden and our estate agent in Spitalfields was giving us short term rents until we could find a place to buy.  I think we spent about a year moving from flat to flat without unpacking any boxes – from Whitechapel to Commercial Street – a good thing Brick Lane was so convenient!  Then the flat of our dreams (our dreams in our price range…) came back on the market and we bought our first place together in December 1999 in a fabulous new block of flats on Folgate Street right next to Spitalfields Market – we could live there happily for years!  We moved in, bought furniture then two weeks later MM came home and told me we were moving to Atlanta…

Cantaloupe on Charlotte Road where we spent most of our time and money.

Cantaloupe

My visit to London Feb 2011 with friends:

Outside our block of flats in Spitalfields.

Bishops Court

Fancy a curry anyone?

Brick Lane

The back of me in Leadenhall Market.

Leadenhall

Tinsel and Twine.

Yesterday was so festive!  After taking Hugh for his haircut, which according to Poppy took ‘soooo loooonnng’, we headed to the Westside Provisions District just down the road from us.  We’re so lucky to live near this area.  When we first arrived in Atlanta the Westside was home to Atlanta’s finest restaurant – Bacchanalia, with it’s store front Star Provisions, – but that was about it.  It is an area of old lofts right next to water works, but with Bacchanalia as it’s cornerstone and fabulous views of downtown Atlanta, it has been revived and invigorated by new stores and restaurants.  It’s where I feel most at home in Atlanta as it reminds me so much of Spitalfields, our home back in London, which was once neglected and now has had almost too much investment in recent years.

Anyway yesterday the Westside hosted ‘Tinsel and Twine‘ with Santa, a capella singers, and just a general festive theme.  We had lunch at Taqueria del Sol and I was thrilled that both children ate chicken tacos – yay more Mexican eateries for us:)

The usual shenanigans at the dinner table:

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Poppy and Hugh were enthralled by the singers:

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I wore my festive colors (unintentional I have to say) – the coated trousers are H&M, paired with a long line tank, also H&M, layered under the AllSaints Char jumper (this is the closest I could find though mine isn’t cropped).  The scarf is Zara and the sneakers are the Ash Alex.

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Here’s me trying to get MM to take a quick photo, as people crossing the bridge wait impatiently!:

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In the evening MM and I went back to the Westside for a bite to eat before heading off to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to listen to Handel’s Messiah.  The tickets were a lovely surprise from MM in the lead up to Christmas.  All I can say is amazing.  I blubbed my way through much of it.  I feel like I’m still teetering on the brink of a meltdown after the events of Friday.  Many of those children were born in 2006, like Poppy, and it has really hit me hard.  It felt good to shed some tears for all those grieving parents and say a little prayer while listening to some moving music.

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I managed to persuade MM to take a photo of me – I didn’t get the memo about wearing red and black – EVERYONE else was in their festive colors!  I wore my Dorothy Perkins coated jeggings – these are the most amazing, sexy feeling leggings and are currently reduced to $29.  The sleeveless top is H&M, worn with my Zara jacket and Nine West Blissfully shoes (currently reduced here on Zappos.com) – the bag is the YSL Roady – we were in such a hurry to get out once the babysitter arrived that I didn’t have chance to downsize!

How are you all getting in the festive spirit?

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Loving some AllSaints.

I love AllSaints.  Not only do I love their urban styling but their flagship store in Spitalfields is just across the road from my London pad and The Golden Heart, where we have had many a lively night before a curry on Brick Lane.  Wearing my AllSaints brings me closer to home and another great bonus is that you rarely see anyone else here in Atlanta wearing it.  I tend to order it online as I can get it tax free due to them not having a stand alone store here in Atlanta, but Bloomingdale’s in Lenox Mall has a great concession managed by the fabulous Charlie.  If you go tell him I sent you – he will treat you like a star!

Yes they are a little more expensive than a lot of other high street stores but they have a great sale every 6 months and their knitwear especially is so unique it is, in my eyes, worth it.  I also love their tops and I have a couple of dresses too, oh and my leather straight leg trousers are AllSaints too.  Yes I have quite a thing for them.  Lots of raw edging, exposed seams, asymmetric drapey hems and an industrial palette gives their clothes a great urban vibe, but they are equally wearable, and I have found, in the main, that they are good quality – though I did have a t-shirt that had to go back twice due to the fabric weakening from the dying process – I gave up on it sadly, though I loved it so much!

So today I am wearing my Express blush jeans and Ash Thelma wedges with my AllSaints Pipali top and AllSaints Itat shrug.  They are the perfect tops for layering on another beautiful Fall day.  I love the skinny arms on their knitwear.

Right now I am wishing the week away as I am desperate for a haircut on Friday!

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Settling Down?

While waiting for MM to bring the Chinese home last night I ended up having an online conversation with someone about the East End of London (does that sound as sad as I think it does for a Saturday evening’s activities?).  Before we moved here to Atlanta in March 2000 MM and I had lived in various parts of London.  Oddly working from the most expensive to some of the cheaper (if not a bit dodgy at the time) areas as our incomes increased. We started in West Kensington, then moved to Notting Hill, then Camden, then Whitechapel, ending up ultimately in Spitalfields.

West Kensington was odd to say the least. We moved in to a 3rd floor flat in a house that was under renovation at the time, owned by some dotty Irish woman who was, I suspect,  drinking all the contractors wages away.  It also happened to be across the street from a hostel/halfway house where there were frequent yelling matches, if not fist fights (I was always most concerned about where my little Vauxhall Nova was parked for fear of damage).  Relaxing – not.  However, considering I was still a PhD student and MM was working for zero gaining ‘experience’ on a football magazine, it was not a bad place to live and certainly got me used to the eccentricities and chaos of living in London.

Next came Notting Hill. MM had me sold on location, location, location.  We used to head up to Portobello Road a lot and loved ambling along there at the weekend and bar hopping in the evenings.  The only problem is of course that W11 is one of the most expensive, exclusive postcodes in London so trying to find a flat with the budget of a student and a ‘part time’ worker was nigh on impossible.  Until that is the Ledbury Road property came up.  Ledbury Road – how cool is that – 2 blocks away from Portobello, always in the heart of Notting Hill carnival, close enough to Loftus Road and on one of the most exclusive roads in W11 – so how could there be a flat there we could afford?  Well on arrival we found out.  In a row of amazing town houses there was one that was not so amazing, completely dilapidated in fact.  MM managed to convince me it was still worth a look.  We headed up the creaky stairs through the house that had been converted into 5 flats – one on each floor.  As we entered the 2nd floor flat my heart sunk further.  It was tiny, no central heating, no shower, and a huge damp patch on the bathroom wall.  There was no way I could live there – that was until we entered the ‘living’ room – I was in love with the huge double windows that opened up on to a private balcony.  Yes our own private balcony, on Ledbury Road, in Notting Hill!!  Still, however, unconvinced MM took me to the Ground Floor bar (now only 10 mins walk from the flat), bought me several Moscow Mules and an hour later I agreed we should rent it – I’m such a push over.  We lived there happily for about 4 years enjoying many wild nights out and investigating each new fungus that grew on the carpet.

Ledbury Road as it looks today.

Ledbury Road

After getting my PhD and starting my first job as a Management Consultant (dead professional now…) I figured 1997 was the time to move on and graduate from student living.  We loved having a market to wander through at the weekend and knew Camden Town would be a place we could get more for our money, so we headed to NW1 and Camden Square.  The basement flat was by no means big but it did have some modern comforts like central heating and a shared garden – imagine that – no mold!  Only problem with Camden Square was it was a pain for transport – I wouldn’t wish the Northern Line every day on my worst enemy…

Working in The City had opened my eyes to the thrill of walking through Bishopsgate, Leadenhall Market, Spitalfields and seeing The Thames every day.  Also our friends were now living in Old Street so we were doing more and more of our partying in Shoreditch, particularly Charlotte Road where there were lots of cool new bars and restaurants – we were so hip.  MM was now happily employed and finances were a little more comfortable so in 1998 we embarked on our search to own our first place.  You would not believe the shoe boxes they tried to pass off as one bedroom flats in our price range back then.  We had given up our lease in Camden and our estate agent in Spitalfields was giving us short term rents until we could find a place to buy.  I think we spent about a year moving from flat to flat without unpacking any boxes – from Whitechapel to Commercial Street – a good thing Brick Lane was so convenient!  Then the flat of our dreams (our dreams in our price range…) came back on the market and we bought our first place together in December 1999 in a fabulous new block of flats on Folgate Street right next to Spitalfields Market – we could live there happily for years!  We moved in, bought furniture then two weeks later MM came home and told me we were moving to Atlanta…

Cantaloupe on Charlotte Road where we spent most of our time and money.

Cantaloupe

My visit to London Feb 2011 with friends:

Outside our block of flats in Spitalfields.

Bishops Court

Fancy a curry anyone?

Brick Lane

The back of me in Leadenhall Market.

Leadenhall