Holland Park

I’m pretty sure you’re going to think I’m obsessed with Japanese gardens, because Holland Park (like Kew) has one.

Kyoto Garden is the best part of Holland Park. It has everything you’re looking for from a tranquil waterfall, Japanese maple trees, koi fish and a peacock.

Holland Park

I’ve always loved water features, Trafalgar Square is literally my favourite place, I spend a lot of time there in summer. But, waterfalls? Unbeatable!

A little fact about me regarding waterfalls, I got a job in Chiswick mainly because there was a faux waterfall in the business park. 🤣 “Picture or it didn’t happen”? I’ve gone one step further, and embedded a video below.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Miamii Mansour (@miamii.mansour)

//www.instagram.com/embed.js

🚨 NEWSFLASH 🚨

Unfortunately, the Kyoto Garden will be closed between 19th and 21st April, to repair the pond, and improve the pond borders. The Koi fish have been moved to a holding pond and will be returned when the garden reopens.

Holland Park also includes a children’s play area, tennis court, football field, golf and cricket practice nets and netball facilities. If you get peckish, there’s also a cafeteria on the grounds.

As expected, the grounds are far-reaching, which means there are plenty of entrances to choose from:

  • North Abbotsbury Road entrance
  • Ilchester Place entrance
  • Duchess of Bedford entrance
  • High street Kensington entrance

Have you been or would like to? Let me know in the comments!

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

Happy Easter! To celebrate the start of spring, I went to London’s Kew Gardens!

The 330+ acre botanical garden is a must, especially when we’re still in some sort of lockdown.

We arrived before 1pm and hadn’t completed it, even by 5pm – to give you an idea of how huge the gardens are…

Kew Gardens was very socially distanced, there was enough space for everyone to be spaced out without worry.

Arriving at Kew Gardens

Upon arriving, we were greeted with a magnificent display of Cherry Blossom trees and the beginning of a Beano (Dennis the Menace-themed) Easter Hunt for kids.

Cherry Blossom Tree (and Beano’s Dennis the Menace-themed Hunt starting point)

Trees at Kew Gardens

In terms of our favourite trees, we loved the Japanese Cherry Blossom (a spring-time fave), the African Baobab and Redwood, as well as a variation of sweet chestnut trees.

Kew Gardens
Sweet Chestnut
Kew Gardens
Redwood

The Baobab trees, which I wish I’d taken a photo of (my phone was low battery, so I had to turn it off), looked like something out of The Lion King from afar, but up close, were tall enough ( when looking up) to make you dizzy.

Indoor excursions at Kew Gardens

We followed the trail along and came across a barn, some greenhouses, stately homes, a lake – and my favourite of all: a thatched cottage (pictured). All indoor enclosures were closed, obviously. But, there was still plenty to see & do outdoors.

Kew Gardens
My favourite thatched cottage

One thing we were looking forward to was the Badger Set (which I also couldn’t take a photo of). Unfortunately, that was also closed due to Covid. What I didn’t realise was that humans are able to crawl through the Badger Set when it’s open!

I found the whole idea of being inside a Badger Set unnerving as that’s pretty much like trespassing a badger’s property… What if a baby badger was squashed by accident?

Personally, I’d much rather see them burrowing and running around happily around their enclosure, as opposed to stepping into it.

Kew Gardens
Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

Another highlight of ours was visiting the Japanese Garden (pictured above) and Pagoda (below). In normal, non-Covid circumstances, you could climb up the tower – making you way all the way to the top for the views. But, that, like everything else which involved being indoors, was closed.

Kew Gardens
Pagoda
Kew Gardens
Tulip display

Flowers at Kew Gardens


In terms of flowers, we were thoroughly impressed with the tulip display (pictured above), the magnolias and the Japanese Camellia.

Kew Gardens
Japanese Camellia
Kew Gardens
Pink Magnolia
Kew Gardens
White Magnolia
Kew Gardens

Animals at Kew Gardens

Of all the animals we came across, the peacock stole the show. Everyone who came into contact with it was following them around as if they were some kind of celebrity (myself included)!

Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens

Other things to do at Kew Gardens

We had a picnic and enjoyed the sun (which came out at brief intervals). Overall, even though it was a grey day, didn’t rain, and wasn’t muddy. You can’t say great without ‘grey’. To conclude, it was an absolute blast of a day!

We’re planning to go there again to complete it, and hopefully check out the indoor parts post-Covid.

Before you go, check out my photo dump (below), featuring all of my favourite shots! Feel free to read my previous post here.

Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens

Golden Tours: Christmas Lights London by Night Tour

London at Christmas

This is my well overdue review of Golden Tours.

I’ve deleted all my old content (my SEO’s going to suffer) because I want to go back to the original plan for this blog: travel and tourism. I am so excited about the content I have planned for you all… Roll on June 21!

I’m feeling pretty nostalgic about Christmas, and pre-lockdown particularly because that was the last time I went out to somewhere other than the supermarket…

Last December, we toured London on an open-top bus, to check out the Christmas lights.

We hopped on the Golden Tours bus, boarding from London Victoria Coach Station, for a 2-hour guided tour of London – stopping briefly at red lights to marvel at the lightworks.

Golden Tours’ ‘Christmas Lights London by Night Tour’ promised the best views of London’s Christmas lights, and let me tell you: it didn’t disappoint…

River Thames
Golden Tours Bus Route

It started at Victoria and drove past Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, the River Thames and following the trail all the way round to Central London, before returning to Victoria Coach Station for dropoff.

The guided tour was very educational. Now, I’m writing this post in March – so I’ve forgotten a lot of the stuff we learned… However, one thing I do remember very vividly was thinking “Harry Potter was filmed across the whole of London!”

Our tour-guide, Bruce, made reference to many buildings, including the real Diagon Alley and Gringottts Wizarding Bank, famous locations where Harry Potter scenes were filmed. Before you ask, nope – they didn’t look as magical IRL.

Although Golden Tours is most commonly a touristy thing to do, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Besides, it’s fun to be a tourist for the day…

We loved it so much that we’re planning to do it again this year, £24 per person well spent! Here’s a quick photo-dump highlighting some of the sights we saw…

Central London
Regent Street, London
ANNABEL’s Nutcracker Display
Bond Street, London

Small Business Spotlight: 7Marvels

7marvels

I’m excited to launch and bring you my ‘Small Business Spotlight’ series… 🙌🏼

Each week, I’ll be introducing you to a new business! This is the first instalment, and what better way to start than with 7Marvels – an independent home/online bakery based in Richmond Upon Thames?!

I got the chance to ask the wonderful Cristina Popescu, founder, director and head baker of 7Marvels, some questions and you can read the full interview below…

7marvels
Cristina Popescu, founder of 7Marvels

Tell us a little bit about yourself & your small business: ‘7Marvels’

CP: I’m a homebaker based in Richmond Upon Thames. I started 7Marvels two years ago.

A fun little fact about my business is that I made the decision to start it at our annual street party in 2018!

Here is a link to my website for more information about me and my passion for baking

7marvels
Macaron Stack

Why did you decide to open your small business?

CP: Since a very young age I’ve always been passionate about cooking and baking in particular but I never really took my passion up until recently when I started my baking business.

It originally started as a macaron business but later went on to be a bakery with a myriad of different treats (birthday cakes, celebratory cakes and french pastries)!

7marvels

What are your hopes for the future?

CP: I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to do what I love for a living; and so with that said I hope that my business carries on to thrive and flourish in the coming years.

As we all know, Covid has hit most small businesses hard… So, this next part of the interview with Cristina at 7Marvels delves into how Covid restrictions and these past lockdowns have affected her home business.

7marvels

How has 7Marvels been affected by COVID?

CP: I am lucky enough to have been able to stay open amidst those uncertain and turbulent times.

Having an online-only shop has helped me in various ways to stay open and carry on making cakes; I was able to bring a smile to people’s faces with my cakes and pastries which matters a lot to me.

7marvels
Mille-Feuille

How has your business had to adapt since COVID?

CP: Having a business open during Covid has to a certain extent confirmed my initial decision of opening an online shop in spite of having a cake shop on the high street.

Have you noticed any changes in your business (sales etc.) since the COVID lockdowns?

CP: I have noticed changes in customer tendencies as they are more inclined to buy online.

7marvels

What advice would you give other small business owners – or those looking to start one?

CP: Get all the resources and equipment needed to start an online business alongside with the rest. I believe that e-commerce is becoming progressively more powerful and prosperous than it was before.

The most important thing is to do what you love and be passionate about it, and you need to have the resilience and determination to carry on with it even if it gets difficult. Your love and devotion will be apparent in what you do and the customers will become recurring ones.

There you have it… Luckily for Cristina, Covid hasn’t affected her business, as it was very much online-based to begin with.

A massive thanks again to Cristina for giving up her time to do this interview, and for giving some awesome advice for self-starters too. What a sweetheart! 🥰

7marvels
Paris Brest

7Marvels’ cakes/bakes look 😍😋 incrEDIBLE! (you’re welcome! 🎤⬇️)

Here’s an added bonus, Cristina’s business caters for most dietary requirements, offering treats that are vegan, low-sugar, eggless and gluten-free! What’s not to love about some delicious guilt-free goodies!?

I’m planning on ordering one for my birthday this year, and I cannot wait! Judging by how quickly last year went, I’ll be 30 at the blink of an eye!

Follow 7Marvels on Instagram

LIKE 7Marvels on Facebook

There’s lots to come in this series… So watch out for more interviews with small businesses in the coming weeks. I’ve got everything from crystals stockists, candle makers, hairdressers and beauty salons! ✨

Gloria Italian – Shoreditch

gloria italian

Happy International Women’s Day, Gloria Italian!

In a change to the usual theme of food blog posts recently – burgers, I’m reviewing one of London’s best Italian restaurants, Gloria!

Stepping into Gloria Italian

Stepping in from the hustle and bustle of kitschy/hippie Shoreditch, this restaurant looks grand and very up-market. The decor and ambiance has a very regal vibe!

If you know me, you’ll know I’m a massive fan of gardens and nature in general… Well, Gloria looks like an indoor and outdoor garden. I know what you’re thinking: ‘it looks like Christmas decorations in there…’ Nope, this is what it looks like all year around!

gloria italian

If you’re a lover of wine, the walls in the back room double up as a four-wall in-built wine rack with an array of wine bottles stashed in each compartment… So, if pollen isn’t your thing, alcohol might be!

Let’s discuss the food… We got a very delicious Focaccia Della Nonna for the table to share – which – I sadly didn’t get a photo of, but was delightful! There was a thyme aftertaste to it that is an acquired one for sure, but I ‘acquired’ it (like Facebook does absolutely everything nowadays).

Gloria Italian – Pizza

What did I get for my main course? PIZZA, of course!

gloria italian
Pizzagiana

Think parmigiana (aubergines) – but on a Neapolitan pizza with San Marzano tomato, buffalo mozzarella, mozzarella fior di latte and basil. Honestly, this pizza was one of the best I’ve ever had outside of Italy!

The base: fresh and doughy – just how I like it! The only thing I would say RE: the flavour is that I’d have preferred it to have a little bit of a spicy kick. However, I know not many people like chilli, so I can see why it wasn’t added as a compulsory ingredient. I’m pretty sure it’s optional and something that could be requested.

My final thoughts on Gloria Italian

Do I recommend Gloria Italian? Yes, because it is glorious! This restaurant is the Gloria Gaynor and Gloria Estefan of the catering/restaurant industry!

Rating: 4*

Ciao bella/bello!

Le Bun – Shoreditch

le bun

I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t been on a burger craze lately…

I’m not French, but I’m willing to convert for Le Bun! Hidden away down an Old Street slip road in Rotate, Shoreditch is where you’ll find it!

Where to find Le Bun in Shoreditch

Rotate is a coffee shop / cafe that sells CBD infused food and drinks, by the way! However, BURGERS!

(I’m pretty sure there’s a CBD infused burger but I haven’t and won’t try it)

I always thought my last meal would be sushi… Turns out, it’s Le Bun’s Truffle Cheeseburger!

What’s a ‘Le Bun’ burger like?

Described as: “aged beef patty, American cheese, truffle mayo and potato brioche” – I don’t think anyone ‘can even’, let alone “I”!

See the menu for the full list of deliciousness! Oh, they have Instagram too!

Vegans, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered!

Le Bun’s opening times are a bit weird, they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays but open from 12pm-10pm on Saturdays, and 12pm-3pm (before opening again from 5pm-10pm) on Tuesdays to Fridays.

If you can’t get to London’s Shoreditch, you could find Le Bun in Smugglers Tavern, Warren St – Fitzrovia or The Sebright Arms, Hoxton.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin