Sketch Afternoon Tea Three Girls Sketch Afternoon Interiors So apparently it's now the very end of National Afternoon Tea Week in the UK! I don't know who made up all of these celebratory days/weeks, but this is one I can definitely get on board with. Coincidentally, last weekend Amy, Charlie and I had Afternoon Tea at Sketch. I also bought a new book on National Reading Day last week, without knowing that it was National Reading Day - apparently I'm really good at accidentally obeying these fake celebratory days! Sketch Afternoon Interiors Sketch Afternoon Toilets The Aesthetic  Lets face it, most people visit Sketch for it's gorgeous interiors rather than the prestigious 2 Michelin star food. There are 4 dining rooms spread over three floors and the afternoon tea is served in the "Gallery", a very pretty pink and girly room. Pink walls, pink suede chairs, rose gold accents and even a man in a pink suit (which I was so totally jealous of). Be warned, the low elegant lighting in the Gallery is absolutely shocking for photographs, so I apologise in advance for shoddy photos! The elegant vibe is enhanced by the string trio who played a whole host beautiful acoustic music - my favourite being The Circle of life from the Lion King! It wouldn't be right to not speak about the toilets when talking about Sketch - these futuristic pods have become a tourist attraction in their own right! I've never seen so many people taking photos in the toilets (no, not even on a club in Chelmsford on a Saturday night). Sketch Tea Pots and Cups The Tea First up was the choice of tea - where you will be spoilt for choice! I am no tea connoisseur (in fact I only started drinking it this year - am I even British?!), but I don't think you could make a wrong choice; and even if you did, you can just ask to swap it for another!

RELATED: At Christmas time, I visited B Bakery for their "Festive Afternoon Tea". If pink and girly isn't your vibe, maybe you're better suited to this one! And you can read all about it here

The Caviar Man Shortly after the arrival of the teas, "The Caviar Man" paid us a visit. A man dressed in a funky pink suit presented us with a small dollop of caviar along with an egg concoction with cheese bread sticks. I don't eat fish, so struggle with the concept of caviar and didn't eat this - but I would have happily taken more of the cheese bread sticks! Sketch Afternoon Tea Sandwiches and Cakes Sandwhiches Then came the big moment - the arrival of the sandwich/pastries on the classic three tiered cake stand. The sandwiches on offer were duck egg and mayonnaise, coronation chicken, smoked salmon and Jacob's cream and finally a tomato chutney, lettuce and mayonnaise concoction. As I don't eat fish, I swapped the smoked salmon sandwich for an extra coronation chicken slice which was the BEST IDEA EVER. Of the four sandwiches on offer, the coronation chicken was without a doubt the winner and I'm dribbling a bit just thinking about it.. Petits Gateaux  There was not a single cake on this plate that I didn't enjoy (and I STILL say that I don't have a sweet tooth - maybe I need to reevaluate that). The beauties on offer in this sitting were -
  • Malabar Marshellow - while an unusual addition in an afternoon tea, these were amazing. Amy and I actually ordered another 8 of the marshmellows to nibble on while we continued chatting - they were so addictive!
  • Blueberry and vanilla choux  - the blueberry was a gorgeous twist on a normal choux pastry, I loved it.
  • Strawberry tart - a great classic and cutely presented with a little flower decoration.
  • Apricot and rosemary cheesecake - this cheesecake was served in a mousse format and was probably my least favourite of the bunch but still blimmin' lovely!
  • Chocolate caramel gateaux - Chocolate is without a doubt, my biggest weak spot, so I absolutely loved this. Despite being so rich in flavour, the cake itself was really light, which is perfect when there are so many other cakes to try!
Sketch Gallery Bar Cakes from the Trolley While forks deep in the petits gateux, a waitress came and asked which cake we would like from the trolley - more cake?! The choice was between Victoria sandwich and a pistachio cherry cake. We all opted for the classic Victoria sandwich and it was gorgeous! The Afternoon Tea Staple - Scones Another choice was upon us before we knew it - plain or fruit scones. I love scones but was so full by this point that I didn't even touch it - but the girls looked like they enjoyed theirs! Sketch Gallery The Price After stuffing our faces, chatting the time away and snapping photos at every possible opportunity, it was time to pay up and leave. While bookings are hard to get on weekends, we were never rushed and could have stayed longer - which is great. The classic afternoon tea is £57 per person and to add one glass of champagne, the price is upped to £72. We stuck to the classic afternoon tea and didn't think that £15 was a worthwhile investment for one glass of champers! The afternoon tea includes unlimited food which sounds great but given the amount of food on offer, you probably won't need to ask for seconds! While the price is higher than other afternoon teas in London (for example, I recently went to the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea which was great), you're paying for this beautiful venue and the 2 Michelin star dining experience which in my eyes, was well worth the money.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

        If you're visiting London, Afternoon Tea should be at the top of your "to-do" list! Sketch is the perfect place for afternoon tea if you want a girly beautiful interior and great food!
IMG_3477 v2IMG_3468 v2IMG_3478 v3 If you've read my London Winter Bucket List, you'll know that I wanted to try a "festive" afternoon tea because there is no combination better than "food" and "Christmas". You may also be aware if you follow me on Twitter that I have two work buddies who are also bloggers, so we jumped at the chance to make a booking a B Bakery in Covent Garden for one night after work! Sadly Charlie (lifestyle blogger) wasn't able to make the evening but it's okay because myself and Amy (baking blogger) definitely ate enough on her behalf! I'll stop nattering now and get on to the good stuff... B Bakery Formally know as "Bridget's Bakery", B Bakery is famous for it's Afternoon Tea bus tours which, if you hadn't guessed, involve eating a selection of Afternoon Tea classic foods whilst touring around London on a big red bus - could you do something more quintessentially English? My friend Charlie has written about her experience on the bus here if you're interested. I really like the idea and it would be great for someone who is only in the city for a few days but wants to sample the English tradition of Afternoon Tea whilst still being able to continue their sightseeing! However, if you're not a fan of eating whilst in motion (not an issue for me, I will eat wherever and whenever I can), you'll be glad to hear that the have a cute little bakery in Covent Garden. The Menu From 15 November 2016 - 5 January 2017, B Bakery offer a "Christmas Afternoon Tea" and the menu features some great twists on the usual afternoon tea classics. The turkey sandwich was to die for (who doesn't love a good turkey sandwich?!) and there wasn't one thing on the menu that we didn't enjoy. I only removed the salmon from the smoked salmon blinis as I don't eat fish - otherwise everything was perfect! The only thing that could have improved the menu is something that truly makes you think of a good Christmas dinner like pigs in blankets maybe? I am obsessed with those tasty little buggers. There was a wide selection of teas and coffees, including one Christmas Tea which is cinnamon based - yum! But of course I opted for the hot chocolate which was great! As well as a hot drink, a glass of fresh orange juice and a glass of prosecco are included in the price! Menu.PNG Overall Opinion For £33 on a weekday and £36 on a weekend, this isn't the most expensive afternoon tea experience available, you get a lot of food/drink and it will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit - there's something about pulling a Christmas cracker and plonking a silly hat on my head (ridiculous selfie below) that makes Christmas seem real - so if you are in London and want to try something new, I'd definitely give this a go! IMG_3480 - v2 I'm an avid fan of afternoon teas and it was great to try something a bit different to the usual fare. Have you visited B Bakery before? What did you think?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Y'know that big shiny building affectionately referred to as "The Walkie Talkie"? The one that accidentally melted cars when it was first erected? Well... it turns out that on the top floor of this building (155m high!), there's a super cool bar set in a garden themed area. And best of all? It's free! The Sky Garden is a glass dome at the top of the building which spans 3 storeys and offers 360 degree views of this beautiful city. You can expect delicious cocktails, gorgeous views and funky tunes (yes, there is a DJ in amongst all the greenery!). How to Book Like I already mentioned, the Sky Garden is free to visit but you do need to make an online booking prior to arrival. Time slots are available online 3 weeks beforehand and can be booked up to 1 hour before your arrival. If you're planning on visiting on a weekday, the booking process should be easy peasy. However, the weekend slots are notoriously hard to get, so make sure you're online 3 weeks beforehand!

RELATED: Thinking of heading to the Sky Garden? Check out my "London Bucket List" to see what else you can do during your time in London! 

Why You Should Go
  • Let's not beat around the bush, London is an expensive city, so any free activity is a good one! Friends of mine have said that the Sky Garden is better than the Shard which you have to pay to visit - I can't comment as I've never visited the Shard! I feel somewhat reluctant to visit now that I've had such a great experience at the Sky Garden.
  • The cocktails are absolutely insane. Whilst they are slightly pricey at around £11 each, I've paid up to £16 for a cocktail in the city and given the fact that this is such a touristy attraction, I don't think £11 is too bad! Each cocktail takes a little while to make, so make sure you order as soon as you arrive (we had dinner reservations booked in Central London, so had to down our drinks super quickly and run out the door once they had been made - that will teach me for taking so long admiring the view and taking photos beforehand...).
  • If you're a fan of London, the view is a pretty damn good one.
  • There are also two restaurants to dine in being the Fenchurch Restaurant and the Darwin Brasserie. I've heard good things about both and would absolutely love to try one (or both!).
Why You Shouldn't Go
  • As you can see from my above photos, there's a big chunk of glass separating you from the lovely view, so my photos are a bit crap. But I suppose having crap photos is better than plummeting to my death from 155m... I suppose.
Have you been to the Sky Garden? What Did You Think? Do you have any other recommendations for free things to do in London?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Given that I work in London, I tend to take the city for granted. So I've decided to draw up a London bucket list to make sure that I actually do more things in the city!

Tourist Attractions

 There are hundreds of tourist attractions in London, so here is my small pick of the ones I'd like to try the most! 

1) Ride in the London Eye ✔ The London Eye is one of the most iconic sights in London - be sure to pre-book your trip and hope for good weather! 2) Visit the inside of Buckingham Palace & see the changing of the guard ✔ I've visited Buckingham Palace many times and seen the changing of the guard. However I didn't ever visit the inside until last year - it was amazing and you can read all about it here. 3) Do a tour of the Tower of London ✔ The Tower of London is another sight that I hadn't managed to see inside until very recently - we did a twilight tour and it was great! The Beefeaters tell brilliant stories and there is plenty to see inside! The Beefeater showing us around was from Chelmsford - so obviously we had a lot of Essex banter! 4) Take a cruise down the River Thames ✔ Whilst the river isn't the prettiest (unless you like murky green water), there are plenty of attractions to see along the river and this is the perfect thing to do on a sunny day! Read all about my experience here. 5) Take in the views from the Sky Garden Take a trip up to the Sky Garden (it's free!) for unrivalled views across London - but be sure to book your time slot in advance! There's also a bar and a restaurant! 6) Take in the more expensive views from the Shard The views that you're more likely to have heard of are from the Shard. A rather controversial building (my boyfriend hates it and says it looks unfinished... he's a bore). I've never been to the Sky Garden or the Shard but I'm swaying towards the Sky Garden... just because it's free! 7) Climb the O2 Arena You can now climb/walk across the top of the O2 Arena! Imagine doing this while the sun sets - perfect! 8) Visit inside St Paul's Cathedral I love a good Cathedral, so how have I not been inside St Paul's Cathedral? Probably because it's expensive! If the UK had as many free-entry beautiful cathedrals as the rest of Europe, I'd be one happy girl. 9) Hear the chimes of Big Ben ✔ Everyone needs to go and see Big Ben (and the surrounding area!), get their infamous Big Ben selfie and hear the chimes - they happen on the hour every hour if you're wondering. 10) Hire a Boris bike for the day A "boris bike" is the affectionate Londoner term for the Santander cycles you see throughout the city - simply pay, cycle and then plug the bike back in a the closest bike bank to your destination. A cheap way to get around the city quickly but be warned - the roads of London can be crazy and we don't have many cycle lanes! 11) Visit Windsor Castle and get the iconic "long walk" photo This is probably at the top of my list of things to do right now - Windsor Castle looks incredible and is only a short train ride out of London to picturesque Windsor! 12) Visit the Houses of Parliament  This is something I will be doing in November as my qualification's ceremony is held inside the Houses of Parliament - AMAZING! 13) Get the iconic Abbey Road photo Heard of The Beatles? Of course you have. So head over to Abbey Road and get that iconic photo! 14) Explore Kensington Palace Can I wander the halls pretending to be Kate Middleton? You can call me the Duchess of Cambridge from now on.... a girl can dream! 15) Roam around getting camera happy at Kew Gardens When the city is filled with hustle and bustle, it's nice to escape to the peace and quiet. There are plenty of parks to choose from in the city, but Kew Gardens is at the top of my list of green places to see right now! 16) Take in the views from Primrose Hill Located in regent's park, if you want somewhere peaceful but closer to the city centre than Kew Gardens (see above), then Primrose Hill is the one for you! 17) Go pretend house shopping in Notting Hill / Chelsea / Kensington With rows and rows of gorgeous houses, what better place to go pretend house shopping?! Get a few #DoorsOfInstagram pictures while you're at it! ;-) 18) Visit Nelson in Trafalgar Square ✔ Nelson's Column stands tall in Trafalgar Square to commemorate Admiral Nelson. On the few days that we get sun in London, I've been known to sit by the fountains absorbing the sun on my lunch breaks. 19) Stroll around embankment at night ✔ One of my favourite areas of London is Embankment, especially at night. Walk across the bridges taking in the views of Big Ben, Parliament, The London Eye and London Bridge, all lit up and looking beautiful!

Harry Potter

1) Visit Platform 9 and 3/4  ✔ Located inside Kings Cross station, make sure you take the time to pretend you're a wizard but beware of long queues! 2) Walk across Millennium Bridge - hopefully with fewer dementors! ✔ Any of the bridges on the River Thames are great to stroll across and enjoy the views. However, if you're a Harry Potter fan, this is the bridge you'll be the biggest fan of! 3) Visit the reptile house at London Zoo (although I won't try talking to the snakes) ✔ The famous snake scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was filmed inside the reptile house inside London Zoo - take a peek inside if you're brave enough! 4) Visit Leadenhall Market  Leadenhall Market was apparently used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Even if you aren't a Harry Potter fan, this is a beautiful Victorian market building and should be worth a visit! 5) Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios ✔ Located 20 miles North-West of central London, you'll find the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios. While it's not in walking distance/a quick hop on the tube like the rest of the items on this list - if you're a Harry Potter fan, you need to check out the Studios!

Museums 

Most of the museums in London are free! Yipee! Therefore they make a really great day out if you want some culture but don't want to take out a mortgage (because let's face it, London is a pretty expensive city!). However, be warned, because they are free, they are often very busy on weekends and school holidays.

1) Get up close and personal with the dinosaurs at the history museum ✔ You've probably seen the iconic photos of the T-Rex towering in the main entrance hall, why not go see him? I'm sure he won't bite! This is one of my favourite museums in London and for good reason! 2) Explore the interactive exhibitions at the Science Museum ✔ If you're visiting London with kids and want to visit a Museum, the Science Museum is the one for you! I haven't been for a few years, but can remember so many interactive activities and kids loving every minute! 3) Marvel at the costumes at the V&A Museum ✔ As a former textiles and design student, it's safe to say that I have spent a lot of time exploring the costumes and clothing at the V&A Museum and it is definitely worth a visit! 4) See the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum  I have actually visited the British Museum before, but I was very young and we were mainly using the building to escape the rain while we were on our way to our actual destination - I I'd love to go back, especially to see the Egyptian mummies. 5) Release my inner history buff a the Churchill War Rooms There's no hiding the fact that I am a bit of a history nerd - it's what I should have been studying at university before I decided not to go. I'd love to explore the Churchill War Rooms - everyone who has been raves so highly about it! (FYI - this one isn't free!) 6) Bask in the beauty of the Courtauld Gallery I'm not a real art fan. There, I said it. So gallery's tend to bore me a little bit - but the Courauld Gallery is in such a beautiful building that I'd enjoy just admiring the outside. Although apparently the inside is a real treat too!

Entertainment

London is definitely somewhere that you will never be bored!  These are my top picks of things to do to keep yourself entertained (if the range of tourist sights aren't enough to fill your time here!)

1) See a West End Show ✔ Living so close to London, I take the range of shows on offer in London for granted and almost forget that other UK cities don't have half the range of entertainment that London has on offer! My absolute favourite West End show is Wicked! However, I've also seen The Lion King, Matilda, War Horse (now ended), Women In Black (twice!) and all were great! Be sure to check the internet for late minute cheap tickets and don't be scared by "restricted view" seating - I've never had any issues. 2) Watch a play at Shakespeare's Globe  After studying King Lear at school in such detail, I'd love to see it performed on the traditional Shakespearean theatre stage. I'm not sure how much I'd be able to remember nowadays though (sorry Miss Chiv!) 3) Watch a football match at Wembley Stadium ✔ Despite the fact that this is a fairly new stadium, Wembley Stadium has become an iconic London Stadium in no time at all! I recently won tickets to see a friendly football match between London and Holland with my boyfriend and can confirm that you don't have to be a massive football fan to enjoy it. I've also seen a few bands play here and it's a great atmosphere if you like big venues! 4) See an "indie" gig at one of the many intimate awesome venues ✔ From the large Wembley Stadium to the teeny tiny intimate venues of London, we have it all! There's nothing better than seeing a local band at a small venue and really feeling really up close and personal with the performers. 5) See your favourite band at the O2 Arena ✔ Another great venue is the O2! I've seen many bands here and will continue to see many more in the upcoming years. My favourites being Biffy Clyro, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Coldplay & Adele (my massive girl crush of the moment). 6) Visit a comedy club for some cheap laughs! There are plenty of comedy clubs scattered through London and all provide a great night out. Be sure to look out for "work in progress shows", these are the shows that big name comedians do to test out their material and tickets are a fraction of the actual tour ticket prices. 7) Watch a tennis match at Wimbledon Enough said really. This is an iconic day out - get me some strawberries and cream already! 8) Be amused by the street entertainers in Covent Garden ✔ I work in Covent Garden, so often get to see the street entertainers in full force - another very busy area during school holidays! But a great way to keep yourself entertained for free! 9) Go to a film premiere in Leicester Square Just down the road from Covent Garden is Leicester Square - try and visit on a premiere night to spot some celebrities and get a taste of the glamorous life! 10) Try an "Escape Room" ✔ This is a phenomenon that is currently sweeping the world - I've seen escape rooms in so many cities now! I did one with London Escape Entertainment and would highly recommend. 11) See a show at the Royal Opera House Whilst I'm not a huge Opera, classical music or ballet fan, there's something really special about seeing hugely talented individuals performing in this world class venue.

Food

I eat a lot of food. That's an understatement. But I tend to stick to a lot of the chain restaurants near my work for a quick lunch-time meal. Here are a few places I would love to try! 

1) Eat a curry on Brick Lane I am a huge fan of Indian food. I mean, a HUGE fan. I've heard so many people talk highly of the curry houses on Brick Lane and now I'm absolutely dying to go! 2) Visit Clos Maggiore Located in Covent Garden, Clos Maggiore is known as the most romantic restaurant in London - the flower covered ceiling is very Instagram worthy, surely that's a reason to visit in itself! 3) Have Afternoon Tea at a fancy restaurant ✔ I've had afternoon tea many many times now, who doesn't love sandwiches and cake? Free-flowing champagne is usually also an option! The next afternoon tea I want to try is the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sanderson Hotel. 4) Have a picnic in one of the many parks ✔ Whilst London is a bustling city, there are plenty of green spaces and areas to relax - grab a picnic and head to the nearest park on a sunny day for a great afternoon! 5) Buy food at Borough Market ✔ Borough market is the ultimate food destination in London in my eyes! Think British meats, local wines, dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods galore! 6) Eat authentic Chinese food in China town London's China Town isn't the biggest in the world, but the food is to die for! I often walk past drooling at the smell! 7) Visit Mister Lasagna This is a new restaurant in London that maybe isn't on many people's radars yet. London has lots of "quirky" eats to choose from, so I thought I should include one! Mr Lasagna specialises in yep... you guessed it... Lasagne. In fact,the only main meals they have on option are lasagne - TWENTY different types to be accurate! If you can't pick what lasagne to have, you can select 3 smaller portions for around £8 or £9 - bargain!

Shopping

When I'm on a city break, I don't tend to do any shopping as I want to go and explore the city, however, as I live in such close proximity to London and it has some iconic shopping areas, it would be rude not to visit! 

1) Explore Camden Markets ✔ There are plenty of markets to choose from in London, but Camden is definitely my favourite area. You'll find all kinds of weird and wonderful treats here - and delicious street food! Although, I'd love to go to Portobello Markets too! 2) Shop on Regent's Street ✔ The famously beautiful curve of Regent's Street is filled with high-end stores. The perfect place to go window shopping! 3) Soldier through the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street ✔ Oxford Street has a lot more high-street options in comparison to Regent's Street but it can be unbearably busy! I love Oxford Street at Christmas time. Christmas lights make everywhere much more appealing for me *stares longingly into the distance* 4) Visit all of the major department stores - Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols & Liberty! ✔ You've heard of Macy's and Bloomingdales in New York, it would be wrong not to give the same appreciation to the London counterparts. Selfridges is my favourite - I often visit as it's not too far from work and in my opinion has the greatest range of products/brands. However I really want to spend more time in Liberty!
Photo Credit: Here

Winter Activities

If there's one time you need to visit London, it's Winter! Although, be warned, it gets VERY cold.

1) Visit Winter Wonderland ✔

Winter Wonderland is a huge Winter set-up in Hyde Park. Think Christmas markets, theme park rides, ice bars, a circus, Christmas lights, mulled wine, etc etc!

2) Skate on the ice-rink at Somerset House Probably one of the most picturesque things to do in London during Winter - I just need to get over my fear of ice skating first! 3) See the New Year's Eve fireworks from Alexandra Palace You're probably wondering why I chose Alexandra Palace... I think this is a beautiful area of London and I'd love to be up on that hill with a view over the rest of London! 4) Be at the River Thames for the New Year's Eve fireworks Now for the more traditional place to view the classic New Year's Eve fireworks - right by the river! I'd love to do it once. But have heard many horror stories of being very cramped and queues for the grimy toilets that are hours long! 5) Go on a Christmas lights hunt ✔ During the Winter months, you can't go too far without stumbling across some Christmas lights. Covent Garden is one of my favourite areas at this time of year.

MY SCORE!

Tourist Attractions - 7/19

Harry Potter - 4/5

Museums - 3/6

Entertainment - 6/11

Food - 3/7

Shopping - 4/4

Winter Activities - 2/5

Total Score - 29/57

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Having lived in 50 minutes from London my whole life, it's shameful to say that I've never entered some of the most iconic monuments in the beautiful capital city. My sister is a chef and she recently did two weeks work experience at Windsor Castle, so to keep up the royal theme and see where she could ended up working in the future, we took a tour of Buckingham Palace for my mum's birthday. The Tour Facts Tours of Buckingham Palace only take place in the months that the Queen isn't in residency. This means that you can usually enter the palace each year in August and September while Queenie is visiting her private residence Balmoral Castle in Scotland. There are a few different tours that you can do and each vary in price. We opted for the "State Rooms Tour" which is approximately £20 and covers 19 of the beautiful state rooms with an amazing audio guide (one of the best that I've ever had - it didn't drag on and definitely kept your attention the entire time). Unfortunately photos aren't allowed inside the palace, so I don't have much to show of the interior. The two above photos show the back of the palace and also the immediate garden you see as you exit the palace. Unfortunately it started raining just as we got to the garden, so we didn't spend too long exploring and instead headed to the fantastic gift shop! However if you want to see some photos head over to the Google Images page to see what sorts of things you'll be able to see! Got time to kill? check out my tips below for things to do while you're waiting  for your tour! Buckinghaam Palace The Palace While I was waiting for my tour I heard a Welsh girl say "I can't believe that THAT is it? Buckingham Palace is so disappointing". What was she expecting? Fireworks shooting out of the flagpole? I have heard that a lot of people have been disappointed with the palace and I can't understand why! The palace is HUGE. While the aforementioned Welsh female wasn't impressed, I really love the ornate gates, the traditional guards and the real sense of grandeur. The palace is usually heaving with tourists, but if you manage to visit at the right time and there are fewer tourists around, you'll be able to creep to the front of the crowds for the iconic photo in front of the gates! Buckingham Palace Guards Buckingham Palace Guards Changing of the Guards The changing of the guard ceremony happens at 11.30 every morning and lasts for about 45 minutes. Prepare for the streets to get seriously busy. However, I think that the hustle and bustle adds to the atmosphere. These guards are very disciplined, you won't see a foot out of line! Plus... who doesn't love a man in uniform. St James Park St James park Buckingham Palace St James' Park If it's a sunny day, head over to St James' Park for a wander. The park is right next to the palace, so you have no excuse to not pay a visit! If you're feeling a little bit more adventurous, why not rent a bike to explore the park? While it's not the most interesting park that London has to offer, it's nice to have a little bit of time to relax somewhere peaceful in the hustle and bustle of the city. Memorial Gates, Wellington Arch and various other War Memorials!   If you walk in a straight line between Buckingham Palace and St. James' park you'll stumble across Memorial Gates, Wellington Arch and an abundance of other war memorials. I am a bit of an absolutely massive nerd when it comes to anything related to the two World Wars. So I love roaming around looking at the memorials and getting to grips with the history. So while you're waiting for your tour of the palace, you'll find me being a nerd and reading all of the war memorial plaques!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This is perhaps one of my favourite things that I've done during London in the Summer. I love London, and having lived 60 minutes away in rural Essex my entire life, it's shocking how little I have explored it in comparison to some tourists. I work for a firm of Chartered Accountants in Covent Garden and for the firm's 70th anniversary, we hired a boat (The Silver Sturgeon) and spent a ridiculously sunny afternoon cruising down the River Thames. Soaking up the sun, eating a delicious barbecue on board and demolishing the contents of the ice cream trolley - perfect. Not to mention that this is an amazing way to see a few of London's most loved tourist attractions without the hustle and bustle of actually visiting the sites themselves. You will get to see the London Eye, Tower of London, London Bridge, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Canary Wharf, the Walky Talkie - just to name a few! You're right, this sounds expensive (and no doubt it was!), I wouldn't have ever spent the day on a luxury boat if it wasn't paid for by my amazing employer. So how can you have this experience on a budget you ask?! The answer - The Thames River Boat Service. This is basically a regular boat service that operates from various points of the river and run to Greenwich. This option often gets overlooked when the London underground system is so convenient - however, who wants to be stuck in a hot sweaty tube with nothing to see when this is another beautiful option?! If you were to travel on the London Underground from central London (zone 1) to Greenwich (zone 3), it would cost you £3.30 and you'd lose some sweat in the process. The River Boat Service price ranges from £4.88 to £7.00 depending on your starting destination and it is a much nicer way to travel, especially in summer (unless you need to be in Greenwich quickly, in which case I'd probably take the tube!). Alternatively, there is the Thames Clipper services which are slightly faster and more luxurious boats but they appear to have less outdoor area (a hindrance if you want to get good photos but probably a better option in Winter!). And what to do when you get to the other side? EXPLORE GREENWICH! Greenwich is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site and is definitely worth exploring!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin