Last Sunday was one of those perfectly crisp but sunny September days that just makes you want to wrap up in a new snuggly jumper and go out for a walk. I’m not sure if you’ll agree, but after the excitement of spring and summer, I’ve always felt like autumn is something of a cooling down period created to ease us into the cold, wet and often grey winter. However, autumn is also my favourite season in the UK. I love the golden colours; the falling leaves and I love the change of pace. It turns a simple walk into something far more breath-taking.
Quite often Steve and I will just jump on the train into London, (we’re only 25 minutes away from Paddington), and choose an area to head to with the aim of eating some delicious food and seeing the sights. Hotels near Kensington are plentiful, and I’ve guiltily never really paid that much attention to them on previous visits, but boy aren’t they so grand! Tall, white, traditional and perfectly manicured with brightly coloured blooms, all conveniently nestled between cute bakeries, florists and shop after shop. Kensington makes for one of those areas where you can wander and wander for miles and never get bored.
Kensington is also one of London’s most affluent districts, but this doesn’t mean you have to be a millionaire to visit. Hotels.com challenged me to take £75 spending money to see what we’d stumble upon. Challenge gratefully accepted… I wonder if they realised that my cash was always going to be spent on food-related items?
I contemplated between booking us in for afternoon tea at one of the amazing hotels but didn’t want to be indoors when the weather was lovely inside. We toyed with the idea of grabbing some food for a picnic in Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens (a classic hotspot), but again both really fancied racking up some steps and getting a little bit of exercise.
We settled for the typical ‘winging-it’ style of exploring and doing what we naturally fancied. With the opinion that no Kensington adventure would be complete without a visit to The Royal Albert Hall we started off here and worked our way all the way up Kensington High Street.
After all that walking it was eventually time for some treats. First up – chocolate! I particularly wanted to buy chocolate from Artisan du Chocolat as it’s the kind of chocolate shop where you can choose a fancy box and fill it will exactly the type of chocolate
you your friends and family will love…cough, cough. Ahem.
I chose some of my favourites, along with a few for Steve who loves Cinnamon and Pecan style flavours, while I’m all about the dark rich stuff ladled with passion fruit coulee and secret layers of gooey caramel.
Packed away in the matching bag it took a while for me to forget what I was carrying and that I’d bought them to enjoy at home later that night whilst snuggled under a blanket with a good book.
I bought Pumpernickel Bread from Gail’s, and some fresh croissants along with a hot coffee to keep my hands warm.
Strolling up Kensington High Street is an experience itself. Surrounded by Londoners and tourists you’ll constantly have someone or something to look at and listen to. It’s sensory overload! Kensington is one of those neighbourhoods that are perfect for people watching, and there are lots of cafes with comfortable seats to do it from.
There are flowers stalls on every corner and I bought the most amazing bunch of blooms for the kitchen.
We had nibbles/lunch right here.
Nestled on a side-street, all on our own, we were able to simply enjoy the moment whilst occasionally whipping our heads around to take a peek at what a certain black-out windowed car was honking its horn at. Or which group of people were desperately trying to cross the road whilst all squealing when three big red double deckers came flying past.
The olives were fresh, the fries deliciously salted and sprinkled with truffle Parmesan. We nibbled on crusty warm baked bread with oils and dips whilst sipping on hot coffee savouring the moment, and wishing we’d not have to move any time soon.
But of course, we did. With lots of fresh food and treasures to take home and enjoy too.