Living in London: My Sun-dappled Three Weeks

Honestly, my time in London makes me sad to recall– it was that perfect. It was one of those rare stretches of time when I was completely, uninterruptedly content, with nary a worry in sight.

Which may have involved a few factors. For one, day after day of sunshiny spring weather. In March. In London. Is that normal?

And two, thanks to Amanda (a fellow foodie and Michigander) I was able to live in London (or rather, the charming town of Richmond) rent-free. I even had my own room, and a soft, sprawling white bed to call my own. And yes, this is rare enough on my travels to worth noting.

And three? My three weeks in London coincided with my little brother Andrew’s semester abroad, so we crammed in as much sibling bonding time as possible. Obviously.

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I spent my three weeks in London in the best possible way. Hanging out with my little brother in Regent’s Park with a backdrop of ducks and daffodils. Brunching in the sunshine. Exploring London’s street art-filled East End. Picnicking in the middle of the week on manchego and merlot in Hyde Park. Sipping champagne atop Hampstead Heath.

Isn’t funemployment the best?London

And okay fine, I did see a few tourist attractions: The Tate Modern, The British Library, The Museum of London Docklands.

But I mostly neglected my long list of attractions because, guys, the spring weather was so nice. And why would I be inside the British Museum when I could be at a food market? Or a friend’s garden? Or… anywhere outdoors, really?

Here are all the reasons I’m still cursing the strict British visa laws, and why I so adored my three weeks of pretending to be a Londoner…

Brunching on the (Near) Daily

While I cherish lingering over all meals, lingering over brunch may be my favorite. Eggs and soldiers, smoked salmon with cream cheese, a plate of poached eggs and toast? Yes, yes and yes.

And there’s something just satisfyingly naughty about brunching on a Wednesday.

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Cooking at Home

While I’m traveling I rarely have a kitchen so cooking at home in London was a gift!

I tried to offset the heavy meals I was eating out by preparing healthy French salads (think salade niçoise and chèvre chaud) at home.IMG_6000

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Frequenting the Local Pub

My favorite things about England are pubs, banter and medieval history. And yes, probably in that order.

So naturally I fell head-over-heels in amour with Amanda’s local pub, the White Horse, during my stay. Between lazy afternoons over IPAs and raucous Wednesday quiz nights, the pub was the perfect place to kick back regardless of the hour.IMG_5987

And America, I beg of you- can we PLEASE have at least one proper pub here? Without 12 TVs to a wall? And perhaps a little charm? Or maybe peace and quiet? #endrantIMG_5992

Picnicking In All of London’s Parks

During my stay in London few parks were safe from my epic picnics: London Fields, Hyde Park, Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath included.

And these were no ordinary picnics; I lived in France, remember? I’m kind of a picnicking expert.

These were feasts of pungent, barnyard-smelling camembert, round loaves of wheat bread, port and duck pâté, slices of oily manchego and endless bottles of cheap wine.

When in London, I suppose?IMG_6032 IMG_6050 IMG_6052

Getting to Know London Better

It’s no secret I love London– I’ve even considered moving there! But it was such a joy getting to explore more of the city.

I’m now hugely in love with Shoreditch (post soon!) but I also enjoyed spending time in just about every other neighborhood I set foot in, as well as just soaking up all the daily life taking place around me.IMG_6093

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And okay, okay, it wasn’t all clotted cream and cupcakes. (Though who are we kidding- it mostly was.) When in London I do occasionally feel judged for being American- talking on the tube made me slightly uncomfortable. (And plus, everyone’s silent!)

That aside, my three weeks in London were perfect- and I of course intend to return.

Have you ever spent a (somewhat) long period of time in London? Did you enjoy it?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

34 thoughts on “Living in London: My Sun-dappled Three Weeks”

  1. Beautiful pictures, as always, Ashley. Looks like you got to experience the “real” or ordinary side of London. Galicia in NW Spain was also uncharacteristically sunny and warm in March as well, and us language assistants also indulged in park-lounging, cheese-and-bread eating, and cheap wine-drinking. Ah, public park life :D

  2. Haven’t been to London in recent memory but your post and others’ stories definitely conspire to indicate that I should visit sometime soon!

  3. I spent a one-day layover in London. It was clearly not enough. It was raining and cold and I didn’t did not get a very good glimpse into all this city has to offer. I loved reading this post because it showed such a beautiful side of London. Everything from brunching in the parks to hanging out at pubs sounds perfect. I’m sure I’ll make it to London again someday. And I will make sure to extend my stay for much longer than one day!

  4. Great post! It made me miss my time in London in May 2013. I spent about 5 days there after spending a little over week in Northern England in and around Blackpool. You took some fantastic photos that totally coincide with my memories of London, it’s nice taking a little trip down memory lane!

    Sarah
    Sweet Spontaneity

  5. I lived in London for 6 months for an internship after college. I loved it so much that I went back and got married there 10 years later (a bit outside London). It’s truly a magical place and your post and pictures captured it!

  6. March was so. much. fun. I really, really enjoyed having you here and being able to enjoy sunny London weather with someone else who didn’t have to go to work :) Now if everything was cheaper and it was easier to get a visa…

    PS- I think there are more pictures of me in this post than on my entire blog lol. Best portrait photographer ever.

  7. I absolutely adore your photos! As a London-native, it’s sometimes easy to forget about all the beautiful areas in our city, and you have captured the quirky history so well. I’m sure you’ll make a return visit very soon :)

  8. Loved this. My family just got back from their London vacay and I’m super jealous. If it were just a little cheaper… Picnics are always a great idea and I’ve gotta remember to use that for my future trips abroad – save some cash and get outdoors. I know you’ve mentioned it many times before, but it’s so nice and I always forget that it’s an option!

  9. I’m jealous of the lovely weather you had during your visit! I was in London in the middle of summer a few years ago and it was cold and rainy the whole time. I still loved it and definitely want to go back and explore the city more thoroughly!

  10. So glad that you love London! Your photos are gorgeous. Despite having grown up just an hour away on the train, living in London was still such a novelty for me. I miss it so bad, but the rent and the sub-par housing just got too much in the end.

    It’s funny how all houses in London look so similar! I kept looking at your photos going “That’s definitely my neighbourhood”, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t. It’s nice- it means every picture of London reminds me of my home there :)

  11. I know London isn’t for everyone, but it might just be my favorite city on the planet. I felt so fortunate to get 9 days there back in May when we were kicking off our whirlwind jaunt through Europe, and although that’s more time than many visitors spend, it definitely didn’t feel like enough. Unfortunately, the weather was suitably finicky and fickle that we only got two picnics in the park, one of which ended abruptly when it began to pelt down rain. Ah, England, if anything about you should change, please let it be that! :)

  12. So glad you had such good weather, Ashley (definitely not normal in March!) and that you were able to spend so much time exploring with your brother.

    London is captivating – it doesn’t take long for it to get under your skin. I spent 3 years living in Englefield Green (just a 35 minute train ride from Waterloo), and the city quickly got a hold on me. I’d love to go back and live there someday – maybe when I’m rich enough to afford one of those beautiful houses in Kensington or somewhere, or a penthouse overlooking the Thames! ;-)

  13. I can’t get enough of Camden. The people watching, the pubs, the stables market. I always go when I’m in London. The War Museum is intense and my inner nerd was doing cartwheels at the Royal Observatory. Afterall, you can never go to too many planetariums.

  14. You are so lucky to have had three weeks there! I am jealous. I had three days there and it was no where near enough time. I absolutely love London and your stories are making me want to head back RIGHT now!

  15. I loved your pictures in this post! I really felt like I was there too (wishful thinking, obviously…). Especially your picture of your friend’s kitchen and the pub, they look like they’re out of a travel magazine!

    I’ve been to London twice, each trip for a week at a time. It’s just simply not enough time to explore such a beautiful, historical, multi-layered city! Three weeks sounds like a dream – thanks for sharing so I can dream a little bit too :)

  16. I can’t wait to get over to London one day. I do have some relatives living there… maybe it’s time to take advantage of that whole ‘free rent’ thing.

  17. Beautiful, fantastic photos Ashley! Ah, beautiful London. I so miss English housing, food, drink, and going out! Do you know the saying, “He, who is tired of London, is tired of life!” Obviously, you took full advantage. Yipee!

    I’m a British person. I grew up in the suburbs outside Manchester (Up North!) and after university, I went to live in London. I lived there for almost 7 years. 1 year in Islington, 5 years in Dulwich, and 1 year in West Ealing.
    My friends and I were just starting out career-wise, so we bought and shared a house, and spent all the time drinking hard, partying hard, and working hard.

    We all liked Art so we spent the weekend in the daytime going from one gallery or art cinema to another, or chilling out with Pimms in the park, and the evening, bar-hopping and going to illegal clubs. I had the best time.
    Now I live in Berlin, having even better times LOL!
    Great post Ashley. :)

  18. Ashley this post is so lovely! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in London. I live in East London (although I’m originally from Lincolnshire, a county to the north of London) but I love getting out and exploring all the different areas. There’s just something really special and wandering around London :)

  19. London and Paris are the two cities I seem to return to time and time again. It’s a problem (but not really). I lived there for a summer semester a few years ago and have returned every time it was even remotely possible. It just feels like home. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time there!

  20. This is such a gorgeous post, your pictures are beautiful and as a London based travel blogger — it has made me so proud! So happy you love London too Ashley, come back soon:)

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