18 ways to survive autumn in London

Summer is ending. Raspberries are out of season and the nights and the spiders are drawing in.

OH WELL. I’ve already moved on to my new boyfriend – Autumn – season of opaque tights, stained red wine lips and double helpings of carbs.

London by David Holt

You do need a survival plan for this time of year in London though – or it gets depressing, in a ‘being soaked by a massive bus splash and then questioning the meaning of life’ kind of way – so here is my list of 18 things I plan to do in London in Autumn to *BASICALLY STAY SANE*. (Please note I make no apology that 80% of these things involve eating).

  1. Dinner at The Dairy in Clapham – supposed to be an incredible restaurant – and autumn is the  time to eat in incredible restaurants so you can order desert with custard with the excuse we need the ‘nutritional value/warmth to SURVIVE THE WEATHER’
  2.  Noodles at the newly reopened Pepper Tree in Clapham –  my secret restaurant when I lived in Clapham. Except everyone loved it too. I had a minor stroke when I thought it had closed down. But they were just renovating it. PAD THAI I’M COMING BACK FOR YOU.
  3. See Gone Girl at the cinema – remember the cinema? I know I haven’t been for months either. Gone Girl is blatantly going to be  insane.
  4. Buy a leather jacket and maybe a big tartan scarf and definitely also an aggressive new eyeliner – October needs confronting with a strong look
  5. Make a vat of chicken casserole and eat it whilst watching Homeland and Downton Abbey – Lady Mary and Carrie Mathison are survivors and inspirations
  6. An autumn walk to pick sloe berries and make sloe gin – sounds idyllic, probably will descend into stealing berries from bushes outside people’s houses in SW London and making some kind of weird poison but I DON’T CARE I WANT TO DO IT
  7. See the Constable exhibition at the V&A – because I’m embarrassed I’ve been living in London for 8 years and never been to the V&A
  8. Book to go to Harry Potter Land and see the snow scene – I make no excuses
  9. Plant spring flowers – I’m thinking bluebells? Keep meaning to get down to Battersea Flower Station for some ideas
  10. See Live at the Apollo – tickets aren’t for general sale but you can apply and potentially go for free *how amazing is that*
  11. Plan a firework party/trip to Battersea Park or Ally Pally – honestly one of the best things about living in London in November, love the feeling of layering up for some communal pyrotechnics
  12. Make a roast dinner for friends. With cauliflower cheese as a focal ingredient…Oh and crumble
  13. Brixton Vilage for dinner – because I haven’t been for months and I’m getting withdrawal
  14. Shopping at Bicester Village which is definitely a bad idea but so what…
  15. A night at The Dogs at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium – I mean it sounds kind of scary, but also I DO own a sheepskin coat
  16. Drink beer/tour at a London brewery – like Meantime in Greenwich or By the Horns in Earlsfield (see the nice write up on ‘Go Earlsfield‘).
  17. Curry in Tooting Broadway – the South West Brick Lane
  18. Book a winter holiday – I mean…all of this is great, but I’m not Jesus – there is only so long you can go without summer

The photograph in this post is London October 13 2013 015 Conkers Clissold Park Hackney by David Holt.

What to pack for a festival

So rather than contemplate the flash storms forecast for Latitude , or that I wasn’t organised enough to book Monday off work and now have to find a way back on Sunday and potentially miss Haim, I am instead just going to *bury my little head in packing*.

As promised in my previous post on surviving festivals (aimed at uptight individuals or those just now in their thirties) I do have a secret festival packing list to share. I can’t take credit (unlike my own holiday list).  It was given to me by a friend ahead of my first festival (V Festival) and has become, in my mind,  sacred testimony from the gods of  bloody good sense. I am solemnly passing it down so that it might help others lost, confused or facing the peril of attending a festival on the East Anglian flood-planes…this weekend.

2014-07-16 20.21.50

Camping gear:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag – ensure it is a warm one
  • Pillow – (I bought a little tartan one pictured above, purely because it was cute)
  • Foam mat for under sleeping bag/blow up bed
  • Blanket
  • Water holder
  • Camping chair
  • Bin bags/carrier bags
  • LED torch
  • Plastic bowls/forks
  • Mobile battery pack/charging device
  • Festival trolley or backpack for carrying everything

Clothing: make sure you have one whole extra outfit in case it rains and pack outfits in separate carrier bags

  • Hoody/jumper
  • Rain Mac/Jacket
  • Shorts, skirt, dresses, leggings
  • T shirts, shirts and vest tops
  • Socks – over the knee and ankle
  • Underwear!
  • Bikini – in case you need to have a shower (or are going to the Wilderness spa)
  • Towel
  • Wellies
  • Trainers/pumps
  • Flip flops
  • PJs and bed socks

Toiletries:

  • Make up – proper slap you can rely on like waterproof mascara and Estee Lauder double wear foundation
  • Sun cream
  • Baby wipes
  • Moisturizer
  • Perfume, deodorant
  • Antibacterial gel
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Toilet roll
  • Dry shampoo, hairspray, brush
  • Plasters, ibuprofen
  • Ear plugs
  • Alka-Seltzer, Berocca
  • Accessories:
  • Small bag/cross over bag
  • Mirror
  • Hair grips/bands/clips
  • Head-dresses, headbands, face-paint
  • Hat
  • Hipflask
  • Jewelry
  • Sun glasses
  • Tissues
  • Watch
  • Entertainment:
  • Music/speakers
  • Digital camera
  • Driving licence
  • Food: (nothing which will melt/easily attract ants)
  • e.g. crisps, cereal bars, individually packed foods e.g. cakes, brioche, chewing gum
  • Booze: (cans, wine boxes or decanted into plastic bottles) 
  • Water

And last but not least, don’t forget your tickets…

‘Don’t forget’ – summer holiday packing list

As you may have observed/mildly judged, in the ‘About me’ section of this blog,  I like to ‘make a good list’. I really mean it. I get a deep sense of dorky personal achievement from ticking actions off a list. So much so, that I will sometimes  retrospectively add things I have done to lists, which weren’t on the original list, just to tick them off and get the buzz.

I wanted to put out into the universe, for the good of mankind, my ‘don’t forget’ holiday packing list – which is basically a list of things I have forgotten on holidays over the years or blindly  assumed others will bring.

Suitcase full of stuff

Great British packing list

Practical things:

  • Local Currency – I always assume the pound is accepted everywhere. No. Wrong. And come home to find frustrating envelopes of old useless Euros from previous holidays in drawers everywehere
  • Phone Charger. Adapter. Travel Battery.Various crucial, but irritating cables for Ipad/Kindle.
  • Beach Towel. People always get particularly irritated when I forget this
  • Map/Guide book – v. retro but a godsend when data roaming is zillions of pounds
  • Insurance/hotel details – numbers and directions
  • Decent bags for sight-seeing/beach
  • Gym Kit. So annoying when you end up in a great hotel, with a great gym and loads of time to actually go but no trainers, socks, sports bra etc.
  • Teabags/instant coffee. I mock my Mother for bringing her little bags of PG Tips on holiday, but do resent buying continental Lipton (eughh).

Toiletries and skincare:

  • Sunhat and sun protection spray for hair. Always burn my scalp.
  • After sun. Oh the best made plans.
  • P20 suncream. Doesn’t come off all day, come sea or sweat, and is the only thing I don’t burn with. Not for face though.
  • Facial Mist. For hives and just general fun. Sprtiz. Spritz. Spritz!
  • Neon lipsticks/nail-polishes . Otherwise what is the point in having them? You can only wear on approx 3 days in UK
  •  Hay-fever tablets, eye drops, blister plasters, prickly heat cream, immodium and tissues – spend 10% of every holiday desperately trying to locate a pharmacy with pink, streaming eyes
  • Travel size toiletries and samples – shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, shaving cream, body lotion, facial cleanser, serums, moisturiser, perfume, deoderant and razors –  all the samples taking up space in the bathroom – this is your moment!
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush. Once forced to buy aniseed toothpaste for 6 Euros in Italy which tasted like Sambuca
  • Cotton pads, facial wipes/flannels.

Entertainment:

  • DVDs/Player or Ipad with films/box-sets downloaded. For rainy days, flights, holiday ‘can’t switch off’ twitch
  • Games – Playing Cards or the best Ipad game of charades ever – Heads Up
  • Good books – pre-downloaded onto Kindle. (In Portugal, recently, I ended up panic downloading the most incredible trash).
  • Speakers. Beach side tunes.
So much more relaxing when you haven't forgotten your pants

So much more relaxing when you haven’t forgotten your pants

Totally obvious stuff:

  • Jacket, jumpers, jeans for cool days
  • Loads of shorts and T-shirts for the day
  • A million swimsuits/bikinis, plus beach covers
  • Skirts, playsuits, dresses, tops for evening
  • Underwear – including NEUTRAL tones as there will be a surprising opportunity to wear white
  • Converse/trainers
  • Flipflops/sandals
  • Nightwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Passport…Printed boarding passes…

Ironically I was more organised when I traveled less, but over the years I have become so ‘Generation EasyJet’ that I complacently believe holiday packing ‘just happens’. But it doesn’t. In fact, last month it happened at 11.45 before a 6am flight from Gatwick to Faro, leaving no time to sleep and a pretty disappointing holiday wardrobe when I arrived. So fingers crossed that getting organised for my next holiday will help…

Happy Travels x