Friday, January 30, 2015
Cheers To The Freakin' Weekend (Plus, Where To Buy Flowers In London)
Am I right?
It seems like this week has dragged. What are you doing this weekend? I wanted to visit the new Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street (AKA The Walkie-Talkie AKA 90s Cell Phone), but apparently, I missed the boat when it came to booking tickets because you have to reserve waayyy, wa-hayyy in advance. I even tried to book a table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at one of the building's three restaurants and was sniffily rejected by the online booking system. Fail.
That's one of my frustrations about living in a city like London. There are amazing opportunities for things to do and see on the weekends, but high demand means that you have to plan early. And sometimes, I just feel like being spontaneous. Londonist is great for last minute suggestions, though. Maybe I'll go to this Lego exhibition instead (can't believe I just typed that - I am so sad) and see if John wants to go on a Westfield shopping spree while we're out there (bo-ring).
This was the week of ... flowers.
Like many Londoners, I have my little London secrets: shops, restaurants, coffee shops that I like to keep to myself. Stems on Sicilian Avenue in Holborn is one of these secrets (but oops! I just told you.). I don't know what your experience of buying fresh flowers in London has been, but mine are almost always heinous. Options are:
1) Walk into dark shop with fancy lettering on a black marquee. Smile at shopkeeper who looks up from the glow of her Macbook Air just long enough to scowl at you. Browse selection of "artisan" bouquets priced at upwards of £35. Laugh nervously as your eyes dart around for "cheaper" alternatives, such as daisies, tulips, anything that will keep you from having to use your Boots points for lunch this week. Leave shop and walk into Tesco across the street, purchasing a selection of gerber daisies while ripping off the £10 price tag from the cellophane after you've swiped it through the self-scanning machine.
2) Walk past flower stand outside tube station. Consider the sad, drooping roses which have clearly suffered from fuel-poisoning after sucking up the exhaust pipes of passing London traffic. Avoid making eye contact with the stallholder so he doesn't start pointing out hastily-tied bouquets for "Only £25, darling. It's a bargain." Bargain my ass. Weakly request a bunch of five tulips instead, which will set you back £10. The arrangement looks lame, so you ask for another five, and you're suddenly down £20. Stallholder takes your money and wraps your pink and purple in brown butcher paper. You leave feeling slightly triumphant, but your face falls when your tulips die practically as soon as the sun sets.
To avoid either scenario, I usually head to one of my favorite markets in London on Sundays: Columbia Road Flower Market, where beautiful, ginormous bouquets of all persuasions can be purchased for ridiculously low prices (especially near closing time, which is when I typically go to get the best deal).
Aside from Columbia Road, however, Stems in Holborn is terrific for bouquets that you want to give as a gift. Their beautiful little shop on Sicilian Avenue always has a unique, thoughtfully arranged selection outside and the vibe is incredibly friendly and warm. The bouquets - whether large or small - always evoke a sense of the rustic countryside for me. Definitely not Tesco.
I bought the sweet little purple and yellow arrangement (GO HUSKIES!!! I mean, what?) above for a friend who needed cheering up on Monday (which she loved) and they were only £5! Cheaper than a nice block of chocolate (and flowers last longer, in my experience).
Yesterday, a dear co-worker of mine was retiring after 45 years (yes, really!) and I sent him off with some blue roses from Stems.
So, you see? It *is* possible to find pretty, reasonably-priced flowers in central London. But let's just keep this to ourselves, okay?
Oh, and have a great weekend.