Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Help! I'm in London! And sad.

Dear esb,

I know your internet access is an issue, but I'm still hoping you can help me.  

I'm from the States and traveling alone in London until May 6th, and I learned that my super amazing grandmother passed away today. She loved to travel second only to church and her family (& maybe brigham's ice cream) so I've decided to continue on with my trip. 

Here are my questions:

What are the best places in London for a weary heart? Where can a girl go to feel a sense of peace?

What are the best places in London for great rings?  I need a wedding band for my vintage (1910s) engagement ring and I thought looking here might add a sense of purpose to my trip.

Lots of love, 


P.S. I'm staying in Bloomsbury, if that helps. 

P.P.S. Is it weird to ask if any London esb readers want to grab a drink this week? It is. I'm a weirdo.


Sometimes I fantasize about doing away with the blog. Especially when I'm gallivanting around eating oysters and drinking cocktails (and oh yeah working another job. two other jobs.). I start to think: Blah blah blah weddings. Blah blah shoes. Blah blah bridesmaids dresses.

And then I get an email like this and I instantly feel a sense of purpose. And a weirdo feeling of kinship with all you lovely weirdos....


And for the love of god somebody take her out for a drink.

audrey marnay by paolo roversi for vogue italia october 1998 via


  1. I'm so sorry, it's horrible to get bad news when you're away from those you love. My top places in London for when I'm feeling sad are:

    Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street,
    Battersea Park
    The British Museum, because it's the best museum in the world. Ever. Fact.
    The Natural History Museum, I personally like to go and look and the giant slice of sequoia tree when I'm sad.
    Brixton Village and the Effra Pub. Brixton in general. (Cheating though, because I live there.)
    I know nothing about rings (yes, I am a very single lady reading a wedding blog.) but would be happy to grab a drink!

  2. Go bra shopping. UK bra stores/manufacturers are where it's at. Get yourself measured and buy yourself something supportive and lacy.


  3. Visit the Victoria and Albert Museum by day. (free to enter). Go to the Royal Opera House at night. You can get tickets to evening shows for around £15 that have no 'restricted view'. The productions are world-class and the theatre itself is its own experience... Eat Chinese somewhere in Piccadilly Circus before or after the show.

    Enjoy Portobello Road for some shopping. The big street fair market runs on Saturdays, and is really crowded, but there's loads of fun distractions, lovely magpie treasures to buy, and great food there. On weekdays, you can still visit the shops and food places lining the road, with really fun quirky things to buy.

    Hatton Garden (not far from the Farringdon tube stop) is the well-known jewelry and rings quarter of London. It may be pricey, but would give you baubles to sift through on your search for something gorgeous... You could also seek out jewelers who do custom-made rings (in London or elsewhere in Britain) on your trip. Even if the ring is not yet finished until after you return, it can be shipped to you and has the advantage of being totally nickel-free (by EU regulation). :)

    Big Hugs.

    1. Just to say - Hatton Garden is where my ring designer is (Hyde Park Designs) so if you do head that way look them up! :)

  4. I say get out of London, take a daytrip to the seaside, Brighton is an easy trip from Paddington. The sun might lift your spirits. Go to the pier and drink Pimms.

    Bath is also a nice daytrip, lovely and oozing regent charm.

    I don't know how long you've been over here, but lucky for you spring has (finally) arrived, so the weather is decent at the moment which helps.

    In London, I love doing 'park crawls'. Hyde Park (head to the Serpentine Gallery), Regent's Park, and my favourite - St James (not biased because I got engaged there).
    The V+A and Natural History Museum are both great places to get lost in.
    Go to Greenwich! Go see the Prime Meridian line.

    It's somewhat hard giving recommendations not knowing what you like to do, and what you've already seen and done.

    As for rings - I am having my wedding band made(to go with my 1920s engagement ring, from my grandmother) at Hyde Park Designs by a couple cockney brothers, really friendly and flexible! They are making the band to match the vintage look of my ring. The name is misleading as they are in East London!

  5. Big love to you, lady, especially for carrying on. It's a beautiful tribute.

    I spent a few months in London feeling sad. I was always cheered by the Museum of London, which transcribes the history of the city and is a wonderful reminder that all things must change. You could also wander Hampstead Heath - there are swimming holes and tall trees and places where you can forget the city even exists. You could also visit the Keats house nearby - he and Fanny loved each other through walls, across cities, long past death. Love is good like that.

  6. I know it's rather touristy, but the Globe Theatre is pretty fun. They're doing The Tempest through early May. If you are even a *little* nerdy about Shakespeare, you must go. And if I remember correctly, you can have adult beverages in the theatre. Drown your sorrows in a few dark beers while Prospero tries to drown his brother.

    Hugs through the airwaves to you...Having recently lost an elderly friend who was more like a grandparent than a friend, I understand and I'm very sorry for your loss.

    1. I have an MA in Lit, where nerdy about Shakespeare is a given. Ticket = bought.

  7. i am so sorry, K.

    if i were you, i would go to evensong at st. paul's cathedral. god stuff aside (i am as godless as they come, and i love it), sometimes hearing voices raised together at the end of the day is the thing one needs to feel held.

    you could also ask yourself what she would do in your place and then go do that thing on her behalf.

    you could also also go to the top of the tallest thing you can find (or the dome of st. paul's; i really think st. paul's is your answer) and tell her that you love her. sometimes climbing helps.

  8. so sorry for your loss. best places for quiet contemplation are regents park, which is in bloom at the moment - you can go for a walk through the park and along the regents canal or a quiet stroll along the south bank.

    vintage rings, try http://www.arullmann.com/ in hatton garden. it's where my fiance got my engagement ring and they have a lovely selection.


  9. got for afternoon tea at Sketch. The bathroom along is worth a visit... and then while you're in the area the GIANT TopShop is JUST THERE. You can never be sad in there. Then go and treat yourself to a crazy Wah! nails manicure on the lower floor...

  10. For vintage ring shopping you must go to Grays. It is amazing and tons of different vintage jewellery vendors in one place. It is right near the Bond Street tube stop and I promise that it will not disappoint!

  11. I'll go for a drink. Email me: rachaelmbc @ g mail dot com xx

  12. Hugs for you K! Sorry for your loss.
    There is the Leighton House Museum on Holland Road in Kensington, it's small but beautiful and has a large private garden prefect for some al fresco dining. Then just down the road is Holland Park, which has a nice Japanese garden. Watch out for Princess Kate too, it's her neck of the woods :)
    Then there is the V&A, Courtauld Gallery, Primrose Hill, Kew Gardens, Regent's canal by boat, Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market (Good for ring shopping too)or you could even hire a bike to explore Hyde Park. Try the chocolate floor in Harrods for some comfort food and the book store on the top floor for some reading material.
    I'm not in London but if you fancy an excursion to York I'd go for a drink!

  13. Awwww lovely...the V&A always cheers me up, a walk through Hampstead Heath (get a little lost, it's good for you), Borough Market, Kew Gardens, the light exhibit at Hayward Gallery, challenge yourself and climb to the top of St. Paul's. And for the ring, visit my friend Leni who has a stall at Crown Arcade on Portabello Road on Saturdays. She'll be two stalls in on your right. Tell her the brunette American named Kate with the nice parents from Connecticut sent you :)

    I'm around too, so if you want to grab a drink London way, give me a shout... kate.neary@ gmail dot com.

    Feel better!

    Kate xx

    1. Woah. Kate, you're in London?
      Just blew my mind.

    2. aw, just did a little investigating on the blog, looks like she coincidentally flew to England this week for a wedding so I don't think she actually live here now...

  14. Ahh! I love all of you! I have no words for how amazing you all are, so I'm just going to start with these suggestions immediately.

  15. If you need a quiet space to sit and think try the reading room in the Geffrye Museum. It's a beautiful space and should be peaceful on a weekday.

  16. I’m so sorry about your Gran, just be gentle with yourself and don’t try and do too much.

    Places to make you feel good

    Hampstead heath; huge sprawling park you can get lost in, I scattered my boyfriend’s ashes there a few years ago and find it an enormously soothing space.

    I second Gemma’s suggestion of the Geffyre museum, lovely gardens and great cakes. If you go on a Sunday morning you can walk to Colombia Road flower market.

    E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road, a small Italian Art Deco greasy spoon, where proprietor Nev will make you the best bacon sandwich of your life and charm you completely. The nearest thing you’ll get to London soul food.

    London Review of Books Café, in Bloomsbury, Terri the manager is truly one of the loveliest people I know. Excellent cake too. And the bookshop is amazing.

    Maltby street market for excellent food (St John Bakery doughnuts are one of the best comfort foods ever)

    Small but perfectly formed, Postman’s Park in the city is a nice place to sit and think. It was in that dreadful film with Nathalie Portman but don’t hold it against it.

    Swimming in London Fields Lido is great if you want to take you mind off things.

    If you do want to get out of London, Cambridge (45minutes by train from Kings Cross is a lovely small city to wander around)


    My engagement ring is from A R Ullman just off Hatton Garden A R Ullmann

    Message me if you need a tour guide

    E x

    1. I'm sorry this is so off topic, but WTF that's my husband in the picture on the E Pellici review. (not the guy on the left). Weird internet.

    2. Really? How strange! There's a photo of my husband on the time out review of Little Georgia. Maybe the timeout photographer is stalking ESB reader's husbands?

  17. Ms K I'm so sorry.

    I can't help with rings but when I'm sad I like to be somewhere bigger than myself and the British Museum is my longtime favourite for that. (If you are a student / have research interests and can get a reader pass for the British Library reading rooms or Senate House then those too.)

    The rose garden in Regent's Park early in the morning. Maybe a concert at Wigmore Hall.

    And since you're nearby in Bloomsbury, croquetas at Salt Yard on Goodge Street are really good comfort food.

    London can be a hard city to be sad in, but it can also be (with apologies for sounding like a wanker) a solace. I wish I were here this week and I would take you for a drink (or five) in a heartbeat.


  18. I'm new to London from New York so my suggestions come from a total noob, but if you're looking for a little escapism, I loved the Wallace Collection- its an old townhouse full of antiques and art and small enough that you can pretend you live there because it's not overly crowded. Also, the Soane Museum was fun (I write about a museum every Monday so I am getting very well acquainted with offbeat London museums).

    I have no great advice for days when you're feeling sad, but I and a visiting friend will be going for drinks and picnicking for the next several days, feel free to email me at amanda(at)dangerousenough(dot)com if you want to meet up!

  19. i walk to work every day along the footpath by the canal, and i find it very peaceful. i second the columbia road flower market on sunday, and you have to go to the Tate modern! also, i work at an art gallery/venue in bloomsbury, the horse hospital, if you are looking for something to do friday night and you are into performance art (i know it's not for everyone!) you should come! I'll most likely be the one behind the bar :) http://www.thehorsehospital.com/now/stage-night/

  20. I remember very little about my only trip to London in 2001 except that by the time we got there (Stockholm -> Berlin -> Amsterdam -> Paris -> London), my brother and I were fighting. Big time. We got into an argument about how to get back to our flat and were like "you go your way, I'll go my way and we'll see who gets there first!" And right as I stormed off, I got taken out by a dude on a bike. Like both of us sprawled out in the road. My brother was just like "ha!" and raced off to the flat.

    I share this amazing story of sibling love hopefully to make Ms. K smile while she's sad. I lost my grandfather earlier this year. It wasn't as hard for me as I thought it would be, but made me realize how unprepared I am for other losses that will be coming my way at some point.

    I hope you find ways to grieve and enjoy your stay in London at the same time.

  21. Very sad news, especially whilst far from home. I would agree with everybody who's suggested the British Museum, a lovely space to spend wandering.

    I've also just discovered Alexandra Palace (it's in North London, I'm a South Londoner) which has beautiful views over London and the building is spectacular.

    London is a brilliant place to sit and read in coffee shops, especially if it's a bit chilly. Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road is one of my favourite places and has a great cafe. Also, Caravan at Central Saint Martins Art College in Kings Cross does great coffee and the CSM building is worth a look.

    If it's sunny walks along the river are really nice or go West to Richmond park and see the deer.

    I'm based in an artists' studio in Battersea and our local is the Doodle Bar (right next to the Royal College of Art and you can draw on the walls). If you find yourself at a loose end I can round up a bunch of artists and we'll come and join you for a drink!

  22. The internet can be a lovely place sometimes. I often forget that and this was a nice reminder. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  23. Personally, my favourite contemplation spots are:
    - The OBE Chapel in the crypt in St Paul’s
    - Wandering along the South Bank
    - And bizarrely, sitting in the Crusting Pipe in Covent Garden – good food and wine and a great spot for watching the world (and the street performers) go by

    My standard London recommendations are the V&A, Kingly Court (teeny shopping arcade behind Carnaby Street) and Borough Market for tasty food.

  24. To all the great suggestions, I'd add catching a concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields (right across from the National Gallery/Trafalgar Sq). Tickets are really cheap and the music is always beautiful. Also, the cafe in the crypt is pretty atmospheric.

  25. Go to Bourne and Hollingsworth! It's a tiny downstairs cocktail bar with a really neat atmosphere. One of my best nights out while living in London was there!


    Going to Paperchase and looking at all the bright goodies always made me happier, too.

    Also, The Falafel King in Notthing Hill has amazing falafel!

    The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park is also really special, if there is something you want to see there.


    I hope you have a fantastic trip and find some cool people to hang with!

  26. Even though others have already mentioned places I was going to (Holland Park, Wallace Collection, V&A), I wanted to add a visit to Persephone Books. They reissue books written by women, especially "neglected" fiction. I have found so many great stories there, which incidentally remind me of my own grandmother, as most of them are from her era. It's a lovely shop, on a lovely street (Lamb's Conduit St. near Russell Sq.)

    You have a lot of things to do now, so get to it! Good luck with the ring search, and I hope the rest of your week is full of nice moments.

  27. Noone's recommended speakers corner? Go on sunday before noon and listen to all the freaks. Sometimes, though not often, you'll find a person who can really cheer up a crowd. I once listened to a guy in a tshirt that said: everything is going to be ok. He was awesome.

    Other places i love: science museum, cause I'm a geek. Imperial war museum in Lambeth. They have some amazing stuff there. Ohh, and borough market for comfort food. Go for the grilled cheese sandwiches.

    I hope London will make you feel better :)

  28. Last time I went to Speakers' Corner there were people with signs saying "free hugs". You bet I cashed in on that, and you should too! I love all of these suggestions, I hope you find some distraction with them, much love Ms. K

  29. Go to Kew Gardens. The conservatories are amazing. It's a really special place to visit - for some reason I didn't make it there until my 5th or so visit to London. Totally worth the the trek.

  30. I live in London, and on the first anniversary of my beloved grandfather's death, I went to church in the Italian Catholic church on Theobalds Rd in the heart of Clerkenwell. The mass was all in Italian and as I wept in the back a lovely little Italian grandma patted me on the back and said she hoped I could find peace. Also, Abney Cemetary is a lovely quiet and restful place in Stoke Newington which also has cute tearooms for you to then sit and read quietly. Good luck and hugs.

  31. My antique engagement ring and wedding band are from Berganza in Hatton Garden (http://www.berganza.com/). They are a lovely little family-run business specialising in vintage jewellery and I adore them - and they solved my non-matchy-band-to-go-with-1930s-ring in less than 15 mins. Here's hoping their many kindness might lift your heart a little. xoxo