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First day back at work after two weeks away is always a struggle but I'm happy to get back into a healthier routine after far too much dim sum and ramen! 😋 I've added Hong Kong and Tokyo to my Stories highlights for those who missed my updates!

We found this pretty street in Shibuya, Tokyo, near the famous and very hectic Scramble/crossing. So nice to see some more traditional streets hidden amongst the super modern tower blocks and huge neon lights.

#japantravelphotos #traveltokyo #tokyolife #discovertokyo #visittokyo #tokyo #japan #shibuya #tokyocityview #visitjapan #shibuyatokyo #tokyonightview #tokyobynight #tokyonightview #traveldeeper #traditionaljapan #oldtokyo #tokyostreet #cityscape #urbanview #citylandscape #guardiantravelsnaps #lppathfinders #lpfanphoto #travelblog #travelblogger

First day back at work...

After a long hiatus from the blog, I've just shared some of my recent favourites. From @oddboxldn to @olio_ex, they're all helping to make our lives more sustainable! Click the link in my profile and let me know what you think.
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Featuring my beautiful WWF KeepCup!
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#sustainability #sustainableliving  #keepcup #london #thisislondon #wwf #noplanetb #sustainable #ecofriendly #londonblogger #plasticfree #londonbylondoners #climateweek #reusable #reducereuserecycle #foodwaste  #olio #oddbox #allplants #eatlessmeat #londonblog #ecofriendlyliving

After a long hiatus from...

Spending a few days enjoying Sicilian views, sunshine, food, and spritz!
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#sicily #topsicilyphoto #sicilia #sicily_my_love #ortygia #syracuse #siracusa #ortigia #italy #topitalyphoto #prettylittleitaly #ladiesgoneglobal #gltlove #girlsborntotravel #thetravelwomen #travelgirlsgo #girlsjustwannatravel #darlingescapes #girlslovetravel #sheisnotlost #letsgosomewhere #athomeintheworld #guardiantravelsnaps #lppathfinders #lpfanphoto #postcardplaces #prettylittletrips

Spending a few days enjoying...

Take me back please!! đŸ™đŸ» The walk to the calanques near Marseille was tough in the heat but the views made it worth doing! Loved having a picnic in the shade before going for a swim in the clear waters.
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#provence #southoffrance  #frenchriviera #igersfrance #merveillesdefrance #travelblogger #travelblog #travelfrance #topfrancephoto #visitlafrance #jaimelafrance #france_photolovers #marseille #prettylittletrips #darlingescapes #athomeintheworld #neverstopexploring #travelfolk #iamatraveler #mytinyatlas #letsgosomewhere #postcardplaces #lifeofadventure #traveldeeper 
#calanques

Take me back please!! đŸ™đŸ»...

When you spot a pretty backdrop! đŸƒâ€â™€ïž Marrakesh was 10x more beautiful than I had been expecting, with decorative arches, colourful tiled courtyards and orange trees being common sights. I loved the smells as well - argan oil, orange blossom and fresh mint all remind me of Morrocco now.
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#marrakech #marrakesh #maroc #Morocco #visitmorocco #africa_vacations #moroccovacations #simplymorocco #moroccotravel #visitmarrakech #inmorocco #exploremorocco #ladiesgoneglobal #gltlove #girlsborntotravel #thetravelwomen #travelgirlsgo #girlsjustwannatravel #darlingescapes #girlslovetravel #sheisnotlost

When you spot a pretty...

I think the cats of Essaouira and Marrakesh deserve to have a post dedicated to them, given how much time I spent admiring them! 😍 #catsofmorocco
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#marrakech #marrakesh #maroc #Morocco #visitmorocco #essaouira #africa_vacations #moroccovacations #simplymorocco #moroccotravel #visitmarrakech #inmorocco #exploremorocco #ladiesgoneglobal #gltlove #girlsborntotravel #thetravelwomen #travelgirlsgo #girlsjustwannatravel #darlingescapes #girlslovetravel #sheisnotlost #cats_of_world
#catsofinstagram

I think the cats of...

A Londoner’s London Bucket List

By Posted on 6 min read 1136 views

westminster sunset

Exploring London as a Local

It’s always easy to overlook all of the amazing things on your doorstep. Growing up in Belgium, I didn’t realise that beautiful places like Dinant or Ghent were just a train ride away. Now, having lived in London for around 7 years, I often take the city for granted. I often think “I’ll do that one day” and put things off, which is a shame because I might never get around to doing them! So my new resolution is to do more things in London, including all of the things that have been on my bucket list for ages.

Tate Britain

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I’ve always loved visiting Tate Modern, but I think going to Tate Britain when I was very young kind of put me off – I thought all that classic art was very boring at the time! (Thanks mum for dragging me there) Recently though, I’ve been thinking it’s time to pay the museum another visit. If anything, I’ll definitely enjoy the architecture and that beautiful spiral staircase!

Tower Bridge Glass Walkway

This is on my list because I’ve never done it, but I’m actually not sure if I’d enjoy it at all! I’m a bit scared of heights, and glass floors make me feel very uncomfortable. It does look like an amazing experience though, so I’m keeping it on the list!

Strawberry Hill House

Strawberry Hill House is a Gothic villa that was built in Twickenham in the 18th century. Isn’t it so pretty? I think it looks like it belongs in a fairytale! Have a look at pictures from Town & Country magazine to see what I mean. My plan for this summer is to have a picnic in the garden with the villa’s tower as a beautiful backdrop.

Make sure you check the opening days and times on the website before you go, as the house is not open every day.

Highgate Cemetery

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Visiting graveyards isn’t usually on my bucket list, but Highgate is different. From its website: “Highgate Cemetery opened in 1839. It was run by a private company. But when in the 1970s they found it was no longer profitable to run commercially, nature took over and vandals had their day.” Fortunately, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust took over in 1975 and rescued this amazing Victorian cemetery.

Many people go there just to see famous graves, like that of Karl Marx and George Michael. I really want to go on a guided tour of the spooky and overgrown West Cemetery, which is where some of the most beautiful Victorian monuments are. I bet the guides have some interesting stories to tell!

I hope I’ll get to meet the resident black cat one day.

God’s Own Junkyard

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I’ve been meaning to visit the neon wonderland that is God’s Own Junkyard for years. Its owner Chris Bracey has built a whole career around creating neons for hollywood films, famous artists, music videos and fashion shoots. The “Junkyard” is his own collection of reclaimed neon signs, old movie props and retro displays. You might recognise something from Batman or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sitting next to a salvaged fairground piece. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before! I want to go at the weekend when The Rolling Scones Cafe is open!
 

Inside St Paul’s Cathedral

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I’ve walked past St Paul’s countless times and have taken many photos of it, yet I still haven’t been inside!

At ÂŁ18 a ticket (ÂŁ16 online) it isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth going at least once. Highlights include the Whispering Gallery, which gets its name from a quirk in construction which means a whisper on one side of the dome is heard on the opposite side. Climb 528 steps and you also get a fab panoramic view of London from the Golden Gallery at the top of the Cathedral.

New Design Museum

As soon as the new Design Museum announced its opening in November 2016, I knew I wanted to go there. Initially what attracted me were some aerial pictures of the roof of the building, which made it look very cool – like a spaceship or some origami. Since then, the museum has had many interesting exhibitions but I still haven’t been! Who’s coming with me?

Maltby Street Market

On Saturdays and Sundays, artisan producers serve up their goods at Maltby Street market in Bermondsey. I’ve heard that the market is quite small, but the food looks amazing! I want to try the caramel hot chocolate with a marshmallow rim from Fatties Bakery some doughnuts from St John bakery (I’ve heard they’re amazing).

Update: went to Maltby Street on Sunday and it was great! Definitely recommend the hot chocolate from Fatties and we had some waffle with fried chicken which was great (although a bit pricy!). The market is quite small but has a nice atmosphere without getting crowded. A lot less touristy than Borough Market (which I love too).

The Emirates Air Line

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Again, I’ve been meaning to do this for years but just haven’t got around to it. Cable cars are always fun and I never get tired of a nice London view!

The Emirates Air Line takes around 10 minutes to connect the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. The journey costs ÂŁ3.50 and you can use your Oyster or contactless card. I recommend exploring Greenwich while you’re at it – it’s a beautiful part of town!

Berners Tavern

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been yet, but I feel like Berners Tavern has become a real London classic. It’s run by Jason Atherton, the renowned chef that’s also responsible for Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social and my personal favourite, Sosharu. It’s the interior that’s the real reason I want to go there though: high ceilings, walls covered in beautifully framed art, and Grand Central-inspired chandeliers.

Who wants to go for brunch with me?

The Conservatory at the Barbican

Hidden in the Barbican centre, this conservatory houses over 200 species of plants. If you haven’t been to Barbican complex before, the brutalist architecture alone is worth a visit. The contrast between the lush greenery in the conservatory and the harsh architecture is pretty cool, if you ask me.

Top tip: Check the opening hours and dates before you go because the conservatory is only open on selected Sundays and Bank holidays.

I actually made it to the conservatory right after I started writing this post, so that’s one ticked off!

I’ll definitely be adding more things to this list at the same rate as I tick things off! One of my favourite quotes is “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” (Samuel Johnson) – because how could you get tired of this city when there are so many things to discover here?

What’s on your London bucket list? I’d love to know!

London: Roast Restaurant Review

By Posted on 3 min read 308 views

Roast Restaurant

After what felt like a very long week at work, I took Chris to Roast Restaurant for a special date night dinner last Friday. I’d noticed the elegant restaurant above Borough Market before but hadn’t had a chance to try it.

The restaurant has great big windows with views over the hustle and bustle of the market below and St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance.

We were lucky enough to get a fantastic table by the window – I’d definitely try to request one again next time!

Roast’s menu was perfect for Chris – he is definitely a meat-eater whereas I’m quite happy to go veggie now and then. His picks were so predictable! The Welsh man chose to start with chorizo Scotch egg followed by a Welsh rump of lamb. I wanted something a little out of the ordinary, so ordered crab and avocado to start with, followed by the famous “Roast” burger.

If you enjoy wine, Roast has a sommelier who can help you to pick the perfect bottle to go with your meal. He was so lovely but we’re just not wine drinkers! Instead, we had gin cocktails and craft beer.

The chorizo Scotch egg with piccalilli was perfectly done: slightly crunchy on the outside and a slightly runny yolk. The chorizo was a nice twist on a classic.

My Dorset crab and avocado with cucumber, white radish and apple was beautiful. The combination of flavours worked really well and I found the whole thing very light and refreshing – perfect before a hearty main!

Next time I’d like to try the charcoal soufflĂ© – it looks incredible! Check it out on Katy‘s blog.

Chris’ Welsh rump of lamb with tabbouleh and harissa carrot was perfectly cooked and the Welshman connoisseur was very satisfied. They did his national dish justice!

I was amazed when my main arrived. It looked glorious!

The ‘Roast’ burger included 48 Day dry aged sirloin of beef with ale cheddar, pickled red cabbage, carrot piccalilli, and Yorkshire pudding. It even came with its own little jug of gravy! The beef was cooked just the way I like it, the gravy was better than most, and the cheese was so tasty and mustardy. The Yorkshire pudding was perfect as well (and not dry like the one I had in York!).

Don’t I look happy?

As if all of this food wasn’t enough, I got greedy and ordered a side as well!

The grilled field mushrooms with garlic and parsley butter were sooo delicious. I am a big fan of garlicky mushrooms.

And now for the most important part of the meal for me…

I went for one of my very favourite desserts: sticky date pudding with toffee sauce, almond brittle and clotted cream. IT WAS FABULOUS! I was very, very full by that point but that didn’t stop me from gobbling up the whole thing. The pudding was beautifully moist and the sauce was almost like salted caramel.

cheesecake

Chris had the Dorset blueberry cheesecake with stem ginger shortbread. It was an unorthodox take on the traditional cheesecake, with a combination of textures: jelly, crunchy meringue, shortbread, ice cream and creamy cheesecake. This made Chris a very happy man!

London blog restaurant review

I’d definitely return to Roast just to have that sticky toffee pudding again.

Overall:

  • the food was delicious
  • the service was friendly yet professional
  • the atmosphere is relaxed but still feels special
  • the location in Borough market is fabulous – I’d recommend going for a drink at one of the neighbouring bars before or after your meal here.

I’ll be recommending Roast to anyone who wants to try British food done well. I find that the UK doesn’t deserve its bad reputation for food – you just need to visit the right restaurant or gastropub to really come to appreciate it!

We were guests of the restaurant for this review but I will definitely be back for a good Sunday roast and that excellent sticky toffee pudding!

How to Spend Christmas in London

By Posted on 5 min read 1051 views
A local's tips for having a very festive time in London at Christmas.
Everything you need to know to have a very festive time in London at Christmas.

bond-street-christma-lights-2016London Christmas

For the first time ever, I’m going to stay in London for Christmas. My family is going to gather in my brother’s flat in Hampstead for the official celebrations, and I’m very excited about enjoying all of the Christmassy things that London has to offer.

I’ve been doing lots of research in preparation for the 1st of December (no Christmas music allowed before then!) and my parents visiting, so I thought I’d share! I’ve lived in London for quite a few years now, so I’m not only going to mention the most popular things *cough* winter wonderland *cough*, but also some more low-key options which are less crowded/fully-booked.

 

Festive Afternoon Tea

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What could possibly be more festive than a champagne afternoon tea? I’m a big fan of scones any time of the year, but I especially love the idea of spending a cosy afternoon eating pretty cakes surrounded by Christmas decorations and tunes. The most famous place to go is probably the Ritz, but there are so many other festive teas on offer this time of year. My personal favourite is the Ampersand in South Kensington (the science afternoon tea is great), while my Mum has a soft spot for the Mandarin Oriental where the service is faultless. Sketch is also a favourite thanks to its amazing pink decor (hello, Instagram!), and CafĂ© Royal‘s Christmas menu sounds particularly delicious!

 

Christmas Carols

My family is already booked in to see the Christmas carols by candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall (where I graduated!) on the 23rd. I’m sure it’s going to be the best thing ever to well and truly get everyone into the Christmas spirit! Next year I’d love to go to the singalong matinee, or head over to St Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square. If you’re free on the 20th December, I’d suggest going to Street Child’s charity concert at the Tower of London ( and go ice skating there too).

 

Christmas Lights

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London is all lit up from mid-November to January, making night-time adventures and after work Christmas shopping a little more special. Regent’s Street, Covent Garden, and Oxford Street all have beautiful lights. Have a look at Carnaby Street – the Christmas lights there always follow a fun theme!

We’re planning to go to Kew Gardens with the family in the days before Christmas to see the amazing light display there. I can’t wait to walk around the gardens with a cup of hot spiced cider!

 

Department Store Window Shopping

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During the Christmas season (from November really) London’s department stores all try to outdo each other with their window displays.  Have a look at Selfridges, Liberty’s, Harvey Nichols, or Harrods for the most over-the-top displays. When I was little I saw the Harrods Christmas lights for the first time through a bus window and thought it looked like the most magical place ever – I made my mother take me there the next day! Also worth a visit are Fortnum & Mason for the most beautiful food hampers and Hamleys for many amazing floors of children’s toys.

Top tip: do not miss the top floor of Liberty’s, it is the most Christmassy place you will ever see. It’s become my personal tradition to visit every December.

 

Ice Skating

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A London Christmas wouldn’t be complete without ice skating! I think Somerset House and the Natural History Museum have the nicest settings, and the ice rink at the Tower of London is pretty special too, especially after dark. A bit further out West there’s also Hampton Court Palace which looks beautiful.

 

Christmas Markets

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Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? They’re a chance to pick up some Christmas presents, sample some food stall, and get festive with glĂŒhwein. While the most popular London markets are Winter Wonderland and Southbank, I’d recommend finding a smaller one near you – Time Out has a great list that you can filter by area.

 

Christmas Shows

When you’ve had enough of walking outside and you want to get away from the cold, a West End show is the perfect way to wind down and warm up. It’s also a great family activity for all ages and it means you get a break from having to make conversation with that annoying cousin/uncle/etc. (Just kidding Mum!). Find out what’s on with the London Theatreland website. The nutcracker at the London Coliseum looks beautiful.

 

Other festive pop-ups and rooftops

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  • The John Lewis roof garden on Oxford Street transforms into a festive wonderland every year. For 2018 they have an ice skating rink, hot gin cocktails and live music – perfect if you need a break from shopping.
  • Winter at Roof East in Stratford, where you can have a go at curling, have some street food or simply drink hot cocktails at the covered and heated bar.
  • Pergola on the Roof will be going all festive once again, both at Olympia and Paddington. It promises great street food and drinks in a heated botanical setting. (Very hygge!)

 

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I can’t wait to indulge in all of these Christmassy activities throughout November and December! Definitely looking forward to spending another Christmas in festive London (I was in Japan last year!)

What festive activities are you going to be doing this Christmas?

London: Shoreditch Street Art Tour

By Posted on 3 min read 510 views

stranger things london street art

London is a treasure trove for street art lovers. The area around Shoreditch High Street and Brick lane is so colourful – art is everywhere you look.

I went on a street art tour recently, and thought it would be good to share the itinerary we did so that you can do it too!

We started off in Braithwaite Street, right next to Shoreditch High Street Station (overground). Here you can try and spot the difference between street art and graffiti tagging, which is really just someone’s signature.

braithwaite street london street art

Next, walk to the corner of Buxton Street and Brick Lane. Here you’ll spot so many different street art pieces.

Buxton Street london

Look out for the fun street signs that Clet Abraham has hacked.

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You’ll also see some self-portrait masks by Gregos.

face mask street art

brick lane bookshop

Have a play around with Saki and Bitches’ interactive wooden blocks. I think art is always better when you can play with it!

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Walk through Sclater Street, which is full of interesting boutiques on one end and street art murals on the other end.

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Bellboi london

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See if you can find one of Jonesy’s pieces above a street sign. Our tour guide says that Jonesy is a Welsh man in his sixties who recently started making these tiny sculptures. One day, he found a dead pigeon in his garage and used the wings for his art – that’s why they look so lifelike!

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shoreditch street art

Make your way up Redchurch Street and look out for Jimmy C‘s mural on Whitby Street. His signature style is to let the paint drip down. I really love this one! The colours are beautiful.

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Clolus street art

Another interesting piece is this sculpture by Cityzen Kane on Club Row. I love that it is 3D, it makes you want to touch it! Looks like it would have taken many hours to make.

Cityzen Kane street art

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Our guide pointed out that unfortunately there aren’t many female street artists in London. On Chance Street though you will see the huge colourful work of German artist MadC. I think it’s brilliant because it adds some bright, happy colours to the city!

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Make sure you take a selfie in on of the mirrors across the street! Okay so that wasn’t actually part of the tour…

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Look up! ‘ACAB’ is apparently used a lot in street art – it stands for “All Coppers Are Bastards”. According to Wikipedia, people have been fined for wearing t-shirts with ACAB printed on them!

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Another piece that I really enjoy on Chance Street is the huge hedgehog by ROA. This Belgian artist is known for painting large-scale animals that relate to the environment they’re in. So Thailand gets elephants, Norway gets a whale, and London gets a hedgehog and a pigeon (boo!). Our guide says that ROA likes to paint animal skeletons but people ask him to paint nice living animals instead. You wouldn’t want to walk past a huge dead pig everyday, would you!

Isn’t it such a shame that people have tagged the hedgehog?

ROA Hedgehog

After taking in all this street art in Shoreditch, we walked over to lovely Columbia Road and took more pictures.

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If you haven’t been before, I recommend going on a Sunday morning for the big flower market. On any other day of the week you can go there to shop in the cute little boutiques or have coffee at Campania.

columbia road pottery shop

columbia road cafe

HP CurrysOur walk ended at Alternative London‘s offices where we got to try out HP’s new little printer, the HP DeskJet 3720. It was fun to be able to print out our photos right there and then – something I haven’t done in many years! I’m very tempted to get one of these little printers for myself now; they’re small, cute, wireless and can even scan.

HP Deskjet 3720 printer

Thank you to HP, Currys, and the lovely Doug from Alternative London for this fun day!

london street art shoreditch

London Burgers: Patty & Bun Review

By Posted on 2 min read 298 views

Patty & Bun London Fields

PATTY & BUN

After an afternoon of cycling through Victoria Park and a lot of East London, Chris and I were thirsty and hungry. It was the perfect time for us to head over to the very cool railway arches of London Fields and give Patty & Bun a try. We’d been meaning to do so for a long time!

Patty & Bun

My crazy thirst was quenched by the most delicious peach and lemon iced tea. It was fruity but not too sweet.
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Chris [/pipdig_right]As you can see, Chris was rather happy with the food situation!

We shared sides, including ‘Winger Winger Chicken Dinner’, AKA smoked confit barbecue wings with spring onions. Pretty delicious (if you like barbecue sauce!).

Patty & Bun Barbecue Wings

…and legendary fries.

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Patty & Bun fries with chicken salt[/pipdig_right]The chips with roast chicken mayo and chicken skin salt were SO GOOD. Very salty, so maybe ask for less salt if you’re not too keen on it. The mayo was delicious, with a hint of chicken taste.

Patty & Bun Review

Chris had the ‘Lambshank Redemption’ burger:

lamb burger patty bun

And what a great choice that was! It’s a pretty unusual burger, with a thick lamb patty with coriander and chilli, buttermilk courgette, pickled aubergine, cumin aioli, and feta. Of course the brioche bun was lovely as well (after all, it is Patty & Bun). Chris is convinced that his burger was better than mine (we’ve agreed to disagree).

Patty & Bun Lamb Burger

I went for the gloriously dirty Smokey Robinson burger – just look at that CHEESE!

Patty & Bun Cheeseburger

With a perfectly cooked aged beef patty, wonderfully gooey melted cheese, bacon, smokey mayo and caramelised onions, it was very tasty, smokey, and messy. Burgers aren’t meant to be pretty, and this one definitely wasn’t. It 100% satisfied my craving for a good burger.

Unfortunately because of all the excitement I only took photos of the restaurant after we had eaten, by which time the lovely tables and chairs outside had been put inside. London Fields is the perfect place to spend a quiet sunny afternoon – lots of outdoor seating and independent coffee shops.

London Fields

There are a few great parks nearby too. Victoria Park is definitely worth a visit and is so much bigger than most people think.

Patty & Bun burgers

I’m ashamed to say that we had to ask for a doggy bag for the wings! We ate them at home later that evening and very much enjoyed them.

Thanks to citizenM for collaborating on this post! Check out their travel website, citizenMag, for great tips for different cities including London (and another review of Patty & Bun).

What’s your favourite burger?

Have you tried Patty & Bun?