Summertime: London vs New York

When I was asked to compare summers as I remembered them from New York and summers as I now experience them in London, nostalgia and anticipation kicked in in equal measure.

This year, summer also means our wedding.

In both places, summer means planning holidays, which is always exciting. To find London hotels for our wedding, a few friends have used Hotel Direct, who have sponsored this post. We’ll be looking for honeymoon options soon, so I’ll be doing searches for Hawaii, Costa Rica and Kenya to weigh our options. In the meantime, bring on that summer sun!

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New York summers for me were not city summers as you might think when New York comes to mind, but upstate New York summers, which are much different.

Temperatures soar to reach 30C / 85F or higher in New York,. There is a real crisp distinction between seasons. It can be humid and exhausting after a while, but after a harsh, snowy winter, it is much appreciated. In London, summer could sit at spring-like temperatures of 20C / 68F with a random spike up to 28C / 82F on a handful of lucky days. When that happens, layers are stripped, parks are packed and the whole city digs out their sunglasses.

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Summer in New York smells of freshly snipped mint decorating a refreshing glass of iced tea. There’s the earthy scent of just watered cherry tomatoes growing in the garden, freshly cut grass and nighttime campfires. London summers smell of sugary roasting nuts on Westminster Bridge, the sweet scent of rose gardens in Regents Park, the mix of curries and crepes in the markets of Brick Lane.

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In New York, summer tastes like juicy cheeseburgers cooked on the garden grill, of Piece of Cake ice cream eaten on the rocky banks of the sparkling Niagara River and of sticky s’mores roasted over a bonfire on a warm night. In London, it’s jugs of fruity Pimms all around, cups of gelato enjoyed during a walk along the Serpentine in Hyde Park and lovely picnic spreads with strawberries, cheese and freshly baked baguettes from Gails.

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The buzz of local outdoor concerts mark the summer sounds of New York. Also, loud music pumping from souped-up cars and the outburst of afternoon thunderstorms we watch from the front porch as fork lightning streaks across the sky. In London, summer brings the sound of revving engines tearing down the King’s Road, buskers’ Calypso music played on steel pan drums and the merged conversations of crowds milling on the pavement outside of local pubs.

Summers in New York bring textures of hot driveway blacktop scalding bare feet, the rough bark of logs tossed into the fire, the hot seats of a car parked too long in the sun. In London, summers bring grass between toes in Hampstead Heath, the lightness of fabrics between fingers and the many pampering textures of a pedicure.

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In New York, summers mean camping in the wilderness, kayaking on the lake, outdoor music and Fourth of July fireworks. There are shorts and flip flops and baseball caps. In London, summer means the colours of Holi celebrations, visits to the lively Columbia Road flower market and lazy afternoons enjoying long lunches and people watching at outdoor cafes. There are flowing summer dresses and strappy sandals and designer sunglasses.

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This is summer for me. Let me know what summer means for you, if you’re going anywhere exciting this year and what memories it brings back from your childhood days!

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A Picnic in a Garden of Roses

Sunday was the first truly hot day of Summer in London, with temperatures up to 26C/80F.

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Apart from the inspiring plane trails soaring across the sky to and from Heathrow, and one or two whispy clouds, it was a vibrant, brilliant blue.

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After a morning pedicure at The Nail Boutique in the Chelsea Farmer’s Market I headed home to decide on the best place for an afternoon picnic!

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There was no way Jorge and I were staying indoors.

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After packing our new bamboo basket with goodies, we headed to our favourite local green spot: the picturesque public gardens next to St. Luke’s church.

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This time of year, they are bursting with roses, an assortment of other pretty flowers and full green leafy trees.

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We chose a quiet green patch, away from the children running half-naked through the sprinklers on the other side of the park, just next to a lovely circle of roses.

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I loved the contrast of the bright colours against the deep blue sky.

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When London is sunny, it really comes to life.

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Blanket spread, we settled in with a bottle of wine.

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Which we polished off by the time we left.

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I apparently forgot sunglasses existed, hence the look on my face in this photo!

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Next up, food!

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We had lots of nibbles: Spanish omelette, a few types of cheese, grapes, olives, chorizo, ham, pate, baguette, salad, crackers, prawns, sun dried tomatoes.

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Jorge even bought fun yellow plates from Anthropologie and matching yellow silverware. Not to mention pretty napkins and a checkered blanket.

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Love it when guys pay attention to all the little details!

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After lunch, we poured a bit more wine and lounged around for a while.

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I took a few photos of the pretty park.

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Jorge, of course, knows all the names of the flowers, which he was telling me, and of course I’ve already forgotten…

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Aren’t they pretty?

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At certain angles, the sun shone through the petals, making them look translucent.

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Around the garden, there were couples lying on blankets, men with canes resting on wooden benches quietly observing life go by, a few dogs chasing pigeons.

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I was happy enough to be outside without a coat, so the sun was a real treat.

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Eventually we even moved to find some shade!

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I went on a hunt for tea and a cappuccino from Paul and we fiished up with some mango and passionfruit cheesecake.

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I got a bit snap-happy with the flowers, but they were just asking for it.

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So many colours really stand out when the usually grey London sky turns to Summer blue.

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It was most definitely a beautiful and memorable mid-Summer’s day!

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If you’re in the area, head across the street for a drink or lunch at the new Bumpkin Secret Garden restaurant or have a wander around Chelsea

A Look Back at London Fashion Week – SS 2013

Another London Fashion Week finished, but I thought I’d give you a glimpse back to the Spring/Summer shows with some images that photographer Frederique Rapier added to the Flickr group for the blog. Make sure to check out this Photostream. There’s lots more from LFW and London shots in general, including some great photos of Notting Hill Carnival! The following photos were originally published by Complexd Magazine.

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Photo: This is Camila Coelho from Brazil. She’s wearing a blouse and skirt from H&M. The shoes are YSL, the clutch Zara and her watch from MK.

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Photo: This is Charlie Fiander from Windsor. She’s wearing her grandmother’s jacket as a dress and her shoes are vintage.

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Photo: This is Abigail Liebovitz from London. Her skirt is Jones + Jones, her shirt and bag vintage and the shoes from Asos.

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Photo: This is Elisa Panizza from Colombia. She’s wearing a dress by Handwritten, jewelry by Mawi and her hat is inherited vintage from inherited vintage by Eustaf Nilsson_Lund.

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Photo: This is Zoe Noble from London. Her shirt is Cos, skirt is Zara, bag is Phillip Lim and shoes are from Churches.

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Photo: This is Lueng Liu from China wearing All Tartan Spirit

Londoners: Joao

Summer rain. Quick, hard, soothing.

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I always seem to meet people while wandering around London. Ducking under the bridge for shelter while the rain passed, I met Joao. He’s from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He’s been here almost two years, studying English in Central London and cleaning offices to pay his bills. He spent some of the time we were sheltered from the storm helping mothers carry their baby buggies down the steps out of the rain.

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