It’s time for my next adventure which means LLO is on pause for a few weeks…

I’m crossing the Atlantic tomorrow morning with Jorge. We’ll land in Toronto to see one of my best friends for dinner, then spend a night and day in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake before crossing over to upstate New York suburbia to catch up with friends and family for a while and show Jorge where I grew up.

I Love NY
Photo: A farmer’s market vendor in North Tonawanda where I grew up

After that, it’s down to the Big Apple for another three days before heading back to London.

Photo: Map of NYC by Stephanie Bucholz, submitted to They Draw and Travel

I plan give my camera a good workout in the city, eat Lucky Charms and other American delights and frolic in the colourful New England Autumn leaves.

Photo: Fall foliage, Upstate NY by my dad, Pat Sadler

LLO will resume at the end of October, but keep those photos coming in the Flickr pool and stay tuned!

A Love Letter to London

Dear London,

What can I say? I’ve missed you and your character. Will you take me back?

I miss the random chalk messages scrawled across your brick walls, the street art hiding around your corners, your ancient architecture and your new innovations.

I miss the excitement of hearing hundreds of languages spoken on your busses, the efficiency of your tube (no matter how many times I’ve complained in the past), the incredible opportunities just waiting to be uncovered.

I miss walking down the banks of your dirty old river, still gawking at your city lights, a picnic in Hampstead Heath, a stroll through Richmond Park.

I miss a good time at the Dublin Castle in Camden, listening to one of your undiscovered bands rock the night away or a day discovering art tucked away in your obscure galleries.

I miss trawling your markets for goodies, the street fashion, eating spinach-feta muffins and relax tea at the Sacred Cafe, a hot chocolate at Scootercaffe and smell of your used bookshops I’ve spent too much time in.

I love that you welcome the world into your borders, the brilliance of choice when it comes time to eat and all the people you can meet along the way, the parties that turn into scenes from the United Nations with 10s of countries represented in one house.

I appreciate the secrets you revealed to me in the four years I enjoyed your company before and I think you have more to give, the way you let me stroll through your street with a camera and still blend into the scenery.

Sure, you have your faults. You can be a lonely place, the tube can be a nightmare at rush hour (admit it) and there’s no denying those stereotypes about your rainy days. So sometimes I may have to get away, visit one of your neighbors. I hear Copenhagen’s nice or Barcelona or I may go further afield. But you have to understand that leaving means I appreciate you all the more when I return.

Yes, I know it’s been less than a year since I gave all my stuff away, shipped three suitcases and nine boxes across the Atlantic. Then I spent six months in a little village in Colombia. I decided there that I’m not finished with you yet.

So I’ll see you in January. What do you say?

Love from New York,

As for Little London Observationist? It’s coming back. And I need your help. What do you love about the site? What would you like to see change? More photos? Less photos? More words? More interviews? Interviews with anyone in particular? Would you like to be interviewed? More reader photos? Specific topics? I’m taking it all into consideration. LLO’s getting a makeover. Leave me some suggestions in the comments.

If you’re new around here, there’s a little button over there on the left where you can leave your email address for updates. Go on, you know you want to.

Side note: If anyone knows of any jobs, I’m looking…!

Listen to a Londoner: A Final Word

I was a Londoner for the last four years. It taught me infinitely more about the world and myself than I ever could have expected to learn if I hadn’t gone abroad. These four years, I will never, ever forget. But what it also taught me was that there is so much out there to explore and so I’m moving on to new adventures. Here I will use this last Listen to a Londoner to turn the tables and answer some questions from you guys.

Q1: Where is your next adventure leading you?
LLO: First to New York to see family and friends for about a month then a one-way ticket to Colombia for as long as it takes to decide whether I can make it my next home.

Q2: Will you ever move back to London?
LLO: Never say never, but as much as I do love London, I don’t have any plans to at the moment.

Q3: What is your reasoning for leaving?
LLO: There are a few reasons. One, for love and the invitation to move to Colombia. And two, because I need a change of pace. I need to feel grass on bare feet, look up to the sky at night and see stars and walk out of my front door without the chance of being trampled by commuters or hit by a double decker bus. I need a bit of stillness.

Q4: Was finding a job difficult in London?
LLO: While I did freelance work on the side occasionally, I had two main jobs while in London and both of them found me. I posted my CV on Gumtree and got called up for interviews. Granted that was back in 2007 and then 2008, so the situation is different now, but it’s not impossible if you’re flexible.

Q5: What brought you to London years ago?
LLO: Curiosity and obsession, I suppose. In 2004, I spent a semester abroad living it up in Knightsbridge and travelling on weekends so I had this idea of London as an ideal place. After I graduated I immediately came back to London to relive that fantasy, but of course real life kicked in!

Q6: What is the most influential part of London to you?
LLO: Not sure if you mean area or aspect, but if you mean area, definitely all around Brick Lane and if you mean aspect, then the diversity without a doubt.

Q7: Will you continue a blog where you are going?
LLO: Yes, it will be just like this one but in a different location. I will post the link in an entry here when I get one so check back around March or so. To bridge the gap, I have another blog now called Little Photography Observationist. Feel free to stop by and say hi!

Q8: How easy is it to make friends in London?
LLO: It’s very easy to meet acquaintances and people to hang out with. You meet them through flatmates, other friends, work colleagues and at random. But to make real true long-lasting friends is a lot more difficult because everyone seems to be on a visa that runs out sooner or later and they leave to be replaced by new friends. London is a transient place and though the people you meet are incredible and influential, they don’t always stick around. I was lucky and ended up with an incredible group of girls.

Q9: What is your favourite coffee shop?
LLO: I don’t drink coffee, but have two places I love to go for tea that also have coffee: Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street and 1001 Cafe on Brick Lane – both have amazing atmosphere, though very different from one another, delicious tea and yummy snacks. If I were to go for coffee, Monmouth is good and I’ve heard great things about Flat White in Soho, though I’ve never gotten around to going inside because it’s always too crowded for my taste.

Q10: Where is your favourite place in London to be alone, think, and escape the crowds?
LLO: A walk in Hampstead Heath is brilliant for all of that. The Thames path that runs down the southwest portion of the river is nice as well. Of course, these are summer activities, so in the winter, I will go down to the basement of Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street or have a hot chocolate in Scootercaffe on Lower Marsh Street near Waterloo.

Q11: As a writer in the city, what in London has inspired your writing the most while you’ve been here?
LLO: The diversity of the people and the details that are a result of this mixture of lifestyles – the smell of kebabs mixed with curry mixed with Japanese food and South African BBQ, the many languages that mingle in the air when you walk through a crowd, the tolerance and openness to try new experiences, the music of Jamaica and Ireland and India, celebrating the customs of all different cultures. There is a world in this city.

Q12: Top 5 things you will miss?
LLO: In no particular order and not including people:
1. Savoury muffins and relax tea at Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street
2. Street art around Shoreditch and Brick Lane
3. Diversity, people watching and walking around aimlessly with my camera
4. Walking through the market with a choice of lunch – Tibetan, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Brazillian, Japanese, Peruvian, Chinese, Indian, South African, Colombian, Jamaican, Finnish. You name it.
5. The amazing and always changing shopping options!

Q13: Where is your favourite bookshop in London?
LLO: Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street, Stanfords in Covent Garden and the Book and Comic Exchange in Notting Hill. The first two have excellent selections of travel books and cultural fiction and the third has that old musty bookshop smell and second-hand treasures galore.

Q14: Top thing you will look forward to leaving behind, and why?
LLO: Easy. Crowds and chaos. While they make London what it is, they can also drive you crazy if you don’t get away sometimes. It gets annoying trying to go shopping with umbrellas poking you in the eye, people stepping on your feet and having smelling armpits at nose-level on a hot summer tube ride. I’m looking forward to some personal space.

Q15: What song or album would you consider as your soundtrack for your time here, and why?
LLO: I’ll just give you a few unrelated songs even if it’s cheating: Prodigy – Out of Space which reminds me a of a few crazy house parties and bonfires we’ve had; Is this Desire by PJ Harvey for a similar reason; anything Oasis after anoter house party that involved everyone singing along; U2’s One and Set Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright for some great gigs and of course, anything by The Stayaways – a local band I grew really close to and have seen them live more times than I can remember.

Thanks again everyone for all of your comments and encouragement and stay tuned for another blog coming up in a few months. In the meantime, check out Little Photography Observationist.



LLO Turns One

Thames Dock

*Blows out candles*

Yup, a whole year has floated past that I started this blog. Plenty has changed in that time, but London still never fails to inspire me – or you, from what I’ve heard.

Thanks for all of  the positive comments so far, all of the photos you’ve added to the Flickr pool, to all of you who I have interviewed for the Listen to a Londoner and London Art Spot projects or who have written guest posts to me. And of course, everyone who has invited me to cool events or sent me free stuff over the last year. This blog has given me the opportunity to meet so many cool people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

So, what do you think so far?

What works? What doesn’t? Any feedback or suggestions? Anyone want to be interviewed? Are daily posts welcome or too much? Too many photos? Not enough? Want more writing to go with the images? Anything you think should be added or taken away?  Any topics you want to see covered or places explored?