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Moving to London? I Suggest Notting Hill. (Not just because of the massive popularity of Justin&#821

This weekend was a London weekend. With a splash of some early signs of a sore throat, which I am now nursing with a healthy cup of chamomile, I still managed to have an exceedingly splendid time biding my anxiety over my spotty phone. Too much of a good thing, going out and basking in all this glorious windy weather and treks along the South Bank? Never.

Thursday we took a class trip to the V&A where our charming professor Richard Sharpe bought us some tea and coffee after we viewed the Arts & Crafts Movement exhibit. He is the type of man I’d wish to have as a grandfather–


Sleeping Beauty tile work! Maybe not so Grim(m)?

that loving, nurturing, wise man who sits with you at the table reading the newspaper and discusses the current affairs of the world over a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.

I hadn’t spent as much time with the girls from the lower-level flat since we don’t live in the same space, but as we talked in the museum’s café, I was so appreciative of the kindness of Lorraine, Tiff, Mel, and Lizzy concerning how my phone debacle went over (as I’d missed the excursion to the Tower of London the day before) which later transcended into bonding over a mutual love of Borough (obviously).

They invited me to go afterwards actually, but I had a date with a maple pecan scone at Gail’s (and I’d already packed a lunch–trying to be thrifty during the week!). Definitely took a rain check though.

That night, Claud, Just, Kris and I endeavored to blend into the student after-class culture, but strangely, you have to know someone actually within LSE’s community to integrate effectively with other LSE students. Or we just couldn’t stop talking amongst ourselves about what makes a person “face-y.” We then elected to visit the USC Alumni Pac-12 night, take 2. Possibly not as fun as the first night we went, probably due to the proclamation of more racist slurs than any of us ever expected to hear and certainly did not tolerate (you tell ’em, Claud!). We didn’t let ignorance deter us though, and we went for a nice stroll along the Thames in pursuit of dessert after arriving home.

The highlight of my night though was the arrival of the sweetest letters in existence from my grandmother. My goodness. Her words of love and en

couragement fill my heart with so much joy that I could burst with the overflowing amount of affection I have for her. As I sat down to read her notes, one of which included a holiday postcard from a charming snow couple and their pup, I could feel my hands clasp over my mouth over how much warmth emanated from her writings that I could consciously notice my friends looking over to see that my eyes were indeed not welling up from sadness. I love my Grams to pieces, and treasure our pen pal exchanges we’ve been participating in since my freshman year of college.

The next day, I got the most surprising email. My phone had ARRIVED. Mirabelle said it might take up to two weeks for my phone to make its way to the Apple Store, so you could imagine my shock that it came in 2 days!

After stopping by the UCL “Freshers Fair” for a quick peek–Drama Society, please hit me up about upcoming shows–, I headed over to my frequented Covent Garden hotspot (but not without strolling through Neal’s Yard first!). When I went inside this time, I was NOT told to come back another day or not to pass go. But instead, as I requested my girl Mirabelle like an “Apple insider,” I was immediately escorted and treated like someone

with a purpose rather than my usual visage in an Apple Store of a deer in the headlights just trying to get her mechanization fixed.

Mirabelle instantly greeted me with a hug and a smile, and we chatted about the best places to get scones in London (can you believe she said Gail’s?!) and the wonders of Portobello Road. Funnily enough, she has the same yearning for New York as I had (and still have) for London. It’s true when they say that the grass is always greener on the other side.

She hooked up my phone right as it came, and I was soon off walking into the sunlight connected back with the online world through my mobile device!

The next few days my SIM card was spotty and kept saying it was invalid, but eventually by Saturday we’d worked everything out with Sprint and now my phone is in full-working order. SEE. EVERYTHING WORKS OUT! Plus, I now have an Otter Box phone case on the way 😉

That night we went over to Shoreditch (shocker) to check out Queen of Hoxton. Made some new friends, but gotta say, was not a fan of the music. Why can’t DJ’s play what the club’s posters advertise? Where was the N.W.A.? Jay-Z?


BuzzFeed’s “Love Actually Guide to London” is all I’ll ever want and need

Instead we get odd remixes of “Say My Name” without any of the verse? And then Kris and I being told to shush when we sing them anyway? No no no.

We got in SO late that night that we slept for a good portion of the next day. Did watch my film for class though (My Beautiful Laundrette starring a 1985 star-on-the-rise Daniel Day-Lewis). But when Claud, Nic, Justin and I tried to venture down to the most delicious Bleecker St. pop-up, we’d found that it had CLOSED. WHAT. Was it only a summer thing? UGH. Disappointing. BUT after I grabbed my Pieminister punch card and got myself a “Free Ranger” and a tea and sat down on the same bench next to Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank where LIAM NEESON and little Sam had their heart-to-heart about love of course in Love Actually. So that definitely amped up my already-bustling excitement for the upcoming holiday season (even though it’s only October).

I was still exhausted despite my excess of sleep by the time we were supposed to head over to “All Shook Up” at Bloomsbury Lanes, but luckily, I was revived by singing some Tarzan and Little Mermaid over FaceTime with Rachie and decided to dress up in some semi-Grease attire to fit in with the 50’s/60’s theme of the event. And you know what? THANK GOD I mustered up my energy dancing to Greased Lightnin’ because I had THE MOST AMAZING TIME. MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE NIGHT OUT IN LONDON. Club-wise. Oh man.


Gracias to the “All Shook Up” crew for this squad pic

First of all, the place is 5 minutes from our school. But also, the DJ played the best music. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis, The Chiffons (the Carole King and Gerry Goffin co-written “One Fine Day”), Ray Charles, Elvis, The Who, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Temptations. I didn’t want to stop dancing for one second! And I didn’t for a straight two hours (at least). It was amazing. I was so happy. Maybe staying out so late contributed to my now-present cold, but that’s ok. The jubilance I felt dancing to all those songs I’ve grown up listening to and knew inside and out was so worth it. I’m not as much of a fan of the songs you normally hear at clubs that get repeated over and over again on the radio and elsewhere but mostly lack substance. The oldies are still goodies for a reason! Dancing by myself to “Twist and Shout” while my friends were in the bathroom? No problem!


Sunday was a chill day to gather our bearings, sleep late yet again, and plan our trip to Rome! Yay!

Monday though was a day filled with oodles of fun involving markets. First off, Just, Kris, Claud and I made our way to Borough Market–where I finally tried the chicken pad thai! The peanuts on top…so yummy!!!! There was also a great live performer that sings for market perusers every Monday. Think his name is Dawson? Anyway, perfect vibe for the one place in London (aside from Hyde Park) that makes me grin from ear to ear the second I step onsite.

Kris left us, but then Just, Claud, and I made our way to NOTTING HILL and Portobello Road Market!!!!!!

I have indeed seen the film Notting Hill, and Justin was actually assigned to watch it for our Rhetoric of London class, but the neighborhood is so much more than a film could portray it to be. It’s calming. It’s cool. It’s scenic. It has beautifully-painted walk-ups. But it also has such a great vibe of a place where you feel like you could live for a long time while never feeling out of touch with the world but still have a slice of peace in the bustling whirlwind that is London. Our Pop Culture professor Justin living in Notting Hill makes complete sense.


We walked past rows and rows of shops along Portobello Road. Some with clothes I did not have enough money to pay for, others with ornately decorated journals (be still, my heart!). But then I saw the Leather Shop. The one where I would walk out wearing a leather jacket after trying on four and paying HALF THE PRICE of the outerwear I’ve sorely missed since I’ve been in London. My former leather jacket was in tatters from over-usage before I left for the semester, so my mother encouraged me to leave it in LA and try to find a cool one in London. Well, madre, the fruits of my efforts!


I was so excited and was so pleased with how picky I was about selecting one. If I’m making a purchase, there’s no way I will not be 100% positive about it, as I rarely buy clothes and usually just steal from my parents’ closets. Earlier this semester when Primark sold me the wrong batteries, I

even went back to return them to make sure my money hadn’t gone to waste. But this was a one-of-a-kind wish fulfillment find that only happens on the most special and random occasions, and I just couldn’t contain my child-like squeals in celebration! Simply ask Claud and Justin.

One store had the coolest magnets (as seen in the Hitchcock photo at the top) but were far too-overpriced, but we did grab some yummy cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery. And they had the cutest Halloween display!!! It’s getting about that time for Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus screenings. It’s odd though, Halloween isn’t really a thing here. Christmas is much more so the favored holiday.

Oh and OF COURSE we stopped by the iconic “Travel Book Shop” where a girl named Julia

Roberts stands in front of a boy named Hugh Grant asking him to love her. Although the inside is the most touristy London tourist shop now, the awning is at least a nice nod to the film.

Even though Portobello (did the neighborhood have a fascination with mushrooms at one point? Asinine question, I know, but just curious) was not in its weekend full-swing mode, we had such a lovely time walking around and discovering more of the city we adore. Will definitely be returning with my parents when they come in less than two weeks!

Yesterday and today were more of recuperation days for myself, filled with tea, essay-writing, and film-viewing. Never seen The Shop Around the Corner? Please do yourself a favor and look it up as soon as you are able. It’s the 1940 film starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan upon which You’ve Got Mail is based. Well, the original original work was Miklós László’s play Parfumerie, but you catch my drift. The film is expertly crafted and for any romantic idealist at heart, look no further to feed into your hopes of falling in love with someone who loves you just as much for your heart and soul and mind.

ALSO today I read the most phenomenal article praising the character development of my favorite film character of all time: Céline from the Before series. I actually sent the author a “Tweet” today lauding her work, and she messaged me back! It’s crazy the ease of communication we can have today if we only seek it out.


Anyhow, heading off to Amsterdam this weekend with Nicole, Taryn, and Claudia! Looking forward to gliding along some canals and viewing a few Van Gogh’s!

By the way, at the request of my mother, I’ve posted my essay highlighting the beauties of Borough Market on the main page of this site in case anyone cares to read about an American girl’s food ogling.

Cheers, Tara xx

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