A Merry Little (Notting Hill) Christmas
During the breaks in between semesters, I quickly pop on the hat of stay-at-home mom and spend my days in the middle of the mundane glory that accompanies being at home with kids. Maybe I should be used to it by now, but every day when Tyler leaves for work- I feel a slight panic at the thought of being all alone for the next ten hours.
After lunch, we are (typically) dressed, feeling crazy from being indoors and ready to get out the of the house. So I load up the kids, get them strapped in the stroller and rush back into the house to brush my teeth, pull my shoes on, toss some mascara on and triple-check that I have my keys in my pocket. Then I maneuver the beast of a stroller down the steps out the flat and we are on our way.
Feeding the ducks at Kensington Garden. Playing in the courtyard at the V&A. Seeing the animals at the Natural History Museum. Hittin up the weekly Kids Club movie for £1.50 at Notting Hill Gate Cinema. Heading back to our old stomping grounds on Westbourne Grove for cruising the racks of the killer FARA children's charity shop and getting ice cream from Melt. While the inevitable push to get outdoors that comes with living in a tiny flat can be tiring, we are lucky that we have a great lists of options awaiting us.
Yesterday though, we ventured down Portobello Road for the sole mission to head to Poundland- our version of the dollar store. I am, embarrassingly enough, never able to stop singing it's praises. You can get ANYTHING in there. Everything from jars of Nutella to 24 packs of batteries to pregnancy tests. So off to Portobello we went. Just as we left, Harrison fell asleep for a killer afternoon nap. The afternoon was off to a nice start.
We got off the bus and promptly wandered by the florist who had just sat out some over-bloomed roses by the trash. We picked our favorites and she carried them around with us so sweetly.
Viola and I got to share some impromptu time sitting outside at Biscuiteers adorable icing cafe. They made her a festive babyccino topped with marshmallows ("marsh pillows" as she calls them) and she dunked her little snowflake biscuit into it for the complete experience.
And of course, I picked up some biscuits for stocking stuffers while were there, too. I can't resist their cute decorations and adorable packaging.
Then I got down to business in Poundland getting Christmas crackers, rolls of giftwrap and much needed restockage of Dove Shampoo + Conditioner. By the time we got to the checkout, Viola was asleep clutching two rolls of gift wrap and I was left to wander the street alone for a bit.
It was so nice watching people carry Christmas trees home and seeing piles of mince pies sitting in trays at the bakers stand. The street was lit and everything felt so Christmasy. Plus, the skies were clear and had that pleasant winter chill to them that feels so nice - assuming that you're dressed for it.
We are in limbo on our living situation at the moment. After Paris this spring, we aren't planning to come back to this flat. It's just too small for the four of us.- I'm constantly weaving around highchairs and tripping over umbrella strollers. Plus, the kids need some extra room to just be kids without us constantly telling them "No!"
We have a feeling we may want to move to a different neighborhood for a bit more space, and I have to say... the thought of leaving Notting Hill and giving up these quiet moments in these special cafes and parks within the neighborhood made me feel a bit melancholy even with all the Christmas cheer. While nothing is decided yet, I looked around the market today and felt a little knot in my stomach form thinking about not being in this little village inside of London that we have learned to call home over the past few years. Sigh. Oh well... on to bigger and (hopefully!) better things.
A few of my favorite Portobello stops for gifts...
BISCUITEERS: The perfect place to stop for a coffee with a friend. (Just order at the till- they'll bring your order up from downstairs.) Pair your drink with one of their namesake and get some adorable biscuits for someone special. They also host cute icing classes in their icing cafes that are great for kids or hanging out with a friend.
THE NOTTING HILL BOOK SHOP: This is always a fun place to buy a book. I mean, books are books... but getting it from the shop where William Thacker met Anna Scott makes it just a bit more special.
DAYLESFORD ORGANIC FARMSHOP: While the upstairs is a luxe cafe and grocer, the downstairs has great gifts that would impress even the most Gwyneth Paltrow-y of friends. Think gorgeous glass and wood canisters, rustic aprons, shiny peelers in any shape or size and dinnerware that is oh-so-simple yet gives the impression of being very expensive.
FARA KIDS & BABY CHARITY SHOP: Along Westbourne Grove, you'll find gorgeous designer shops where the fabulous clothe themselves and their children... and then there is the FARA shops where they donate all the childrens goods once they have outgrown them. It can be hit or miss, but I go so often that a big percentage of my children's wardrobe has been found on the racks of that little shop.
MARIE CHANTAL (OUTLET): Just beside Melt Chocolates, you'll find a gorgeous shop with the most amazing baby clothes from the posh line, Marie Chantal. Luckily, this location is their permanent outlet. Things are typically 40% off retail, but have seasonal dips to 60% off.
MELT CHOCOLATES: Like I mentioned above, I love stopping here for ice cream. While the shop is mainly focused on their (killer) chocolates, in the summer they have ice cream that amazing. The chocolate tastes like you're eating a chocolate truffle. The salted caramel (my favorite) is so soft and smooth and full of flavor. Worth every single calorie. They have a tiny outdoor area out back that I like to take my brood, as it's walled in and typically empty. It's a great place to burn some energy and get some sun on my legs. (I've blogged about Melt before here in this post.)
*images original to Aspiring Kennedy