London Calling

Buckingham Palace, London

Houses of Parliament, London

London Underground signs

Trafalgar Square, London

Union Jack at Somerset House, London

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

London city skyline

♥  Topshop skirt (via eBay)  ♥  River Island top  ♥   River Island shoes

Slightly different backdrop for the ol’ outfit photos this week, folks! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may know that Terry and I spent the weekend in the south of England, flying down on Friday morning and coming back on Monday night. The main reason for our trip was to visit Terry’s brother, Niko, and his family, at their house in Kent, and to attend Niko’s birthday party on Saturday, but it’s been a long time since either of us visited London, and although we’ve both visited separately, we’ve actually never been there together, so we thought we’d make the most of the trip by flying down super-early (And by that I mean, “I had to get up at 4am: GAH.) and spending the day in the capital, before heading down to Kent.

When we told people our plan was to pick up a hire car at Gatwick, drive it into the city and park there, most of them reacted with a mixture of shock and sheer disbelief. “You’re going to DRIVE?” they’d say, eyes wide with horror. “In LONDON? In a CAR? And try to PARK there?” And then they’d spend the next five minutes earnestly trying to tell us that, why, if we wanted to drive to London (Which may as well have been the moon, by the reactions we were getting…), we should really have left last week, and even then, it would probably take us DAYS to get through the city. “Take the train!” they urged us, over and over. “Life is too short to drive into London! Save yourselves while you can!”

We listened politely to all of this well-meaning advice, of course, then we nodded, smiled… and went ahead and booked our hire car anyway. We knew it was a bit of a risk, and that it could all go horribly wrong, but we wanted the car to do a bit of exploring in over the weekend anyway, and Terry managed to find a car park right next to Tower Bridge which was fairly reasonably priced for the day, so we decided just to go with it. And you know what? It was absolutely fine, and less than an hour after landing at Gatwick, we were pulling into our pre-booked parking space, then walking out and finding ourselves face-to-face with this:

Tower Bridge and the London skyline

Tower Bridge, London

Which is a pretty sweet view, no?

When we were planning this trip, we knew we’d only have a few hours in the city, and as I said, it’s been a while since either of us have visited, so we figured we’d just do as much of the shamelessly toursity stuff as possible. We also decided we’d do it all on foot. Because there’s something wrong with us, obviously.

We walked for MILES, people. All the way from Tower Bridge along the River to the Tate Modern, then across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s, and on to Trafalgar Square, which is where the blisteringly hot sunshine decided to make way for torrential rain. Now, I thought I’d been exceptionally clever by wearing a pair of flats (and ones which had been thoroughly broken-in and road-tested, too) for all of this walking. In fact, I was really feeling quite smug about how sensible I had been, because I HATE the way I look in flats, but I had picked comfort over style, and that’s quite a big step for me.

What I HADN’T counted on, however, was the fact that those oh-so-sensible flats would have removed a layer of skin from my heel by the the time we reached Gatwick. Uh-oh. Why did it happen? I have no idea, but I’m chalking it up to the same “holiday shoe curse” that hit me in Miami last year, when I packed multiple pairs of supposedly “comfortable” shoes, only to end up on a never-ending search for even MORE comfortable shoes, because the original comfortable shoes were magically no longer comfortable once they were on a different continent. Exactly the same thing happened with the little gold flats I was wearing for this trip, but all was not lost! No, SO sensible had I been about this long walk through London, that I had packed a SECOND pair of comfortable flats in my handbag, for just this eventuality. You can feel free to give me a medal any time you like, seriously.

Or… maybe not. My emergency flats, you see, were made of canvas. They were very pretty, and very comfortable, and I was doing just fine in them, right up to the point when the torrential rain started, and my canvas shoes got soaked through in a matter of minutes. GAAAAAH.

It was back into the previously-comfortable-but-now-horribly-uncomfortable gold flats, and the result was a blister so bad I’m now having to wear flip-flops until it heals. FLIP-FLOPS, people. SERIOUSLY.

That, however, was the only real hitch – well, that and the rain, which stopped and started all day after that initial cloudburst. We’d brought umbrellas with us, though, so we continued our walk, taking in St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and a whole ton of other stuff besides.

Big Ben and the London Eye

Forever Amber: a walk through London

Millenium Bridge London

Buckingham Palace gates

Buckingham Palace, London

Tower Bridge, London

Blisters aside, it was a fantastic day: the city was at its most beautiful in the sunshine, and its most dramatic in the rain, and it was so nice to be back, just soaking it all up. (Literally, in the case of my poor old canvas flats…) I always think London is one of those cities in which you really get a sense of its long and colourful history beating just underneath (and sometimes right on top of) its streets: in the last decade or so, there’s been so many changes, but they’ve done such a wonderful job of blending old and new that the newer additions only add to the experience – or I think so, anyway.

As for us, we ended our day with a ride on the London Eye (which I’m planning a separate post on, because this one’s long enough already, and I’ll probably need ANOTHER thousand words to adequately convey what it’s like to be trapped inside a glass bubble, high above the earth, when you’re really quite scared of heights…), and a quick catch-up with my best friend Stephanie, who I don’t get to see nearly often enough, due to the inconvenient fact that she lives in the south of England and I live in the middle of Scotland. We only had time to grab a quick meal (and, OK, an equally quick bottle of wine…), before Terry and I had to say our goodbyes: it wasn’t nearly long enough, but we left with the intention of trying to make it down more often, so hopefully we’ll be able to stick to that. Not least because I didn’t manage to make it to ANY of the shops. I KNOW. Can you believe I went to London, and all I got was this lousy blister? It’s true.

But I’m sure I’ll make up for it next time…

St James's Park, London

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London

Buckingham Palace, London


22 Comments

  • Roisin says:

    Gorgeous photos, as always! I’m very glad you made it to London and had such a good time – blisters aside, of course. What is it about previously comfortable shoes that suddenly behave badly on holiday? The same thing happened to me in Paris last year.

    I love visiting London and am lucky to be able to do it regularly as it’s only an hour and a bit away on the train but I also find that I have the most fun there when I’m being a tourist.

    Looking forward to seeing your photos from Kent, as well! xxx

    • Amber says:

      It’s completely beyond me… I’ve worn those shoes loads, and they’ve always been fine, but they didn’t even make it out of Gatwick before I had to change them: so annoying! Ironically, though, the heels I’d brought for the party were the ONLY shoes that were comfortable after that – for some reason it’s always the so-called “sensible” shoes that end up hurting!

  • Suki says:

    Fab photos of a fab city. Funny how everyone thinks driving here is a nightmare its the same as any city ok all day then busy at rush hour (I live in London)
    You fitted in a lot in one day but will have to return to shop for sure, you might need a week for that!

    • Amber says:

      Yeah, we didn’t find it any worse than Edinburgh, or any other city we’ve visited, really – could just have been luck, of course, but we were glad we did it, if only because it was so much easier than lugging our suitcase etc on and off public transport!

  • Nina says:

    You look amazing! I hope you have more time to go shopping the next time you go to London. I just wanted to ask one thing, which of course has to do with clothes. Hah. But yes, I was wondering why you don’t have any dresses (or other clothing items) from Modcloth! I mean, they have loads and loads of amazing dresses in all kinds of colors and styles! I think you would love them! :)

    • Amber says:

      Mostly because I try to avoid international shipping where I can: Modcloth ship from the US, which means the shipping and customs duties can be almost as much as the item you’re buying, and it’s a real hassle (and can be quite expensive) to return things if they don’t work out. Also, most of their dresses seem very short in the photos, which really isn’t my style: I mostly like their branded stuff (Bettie Page, etc) which I can normally find over here for less money!

      • Nina says:

        Ah I see, I can understand what you mean. It can get really expensive, the first time I had to pay tax but this time I actually got it delivered to my front door without having to pay anything.
        It really does depend, some of the less expensive are shorter but the ones with a little better quality are usually longer! :) I really enjoy watching your style anyway. You have the most amazing closet ever! I would love to play dress-up in it. Haha.

        Emily and fin have really pretty dresses that are longer :)

  • CiCi says:

    That thing with the flat shoes always happens to me! No pair of shoes I own will not give me blisters when I need to walk around somewhere away from home. Not one pair! And I buy lots of my shoes from Clarks – they’re supposed to be comfort over style!! I’m waiting in terror for the London Eye post, being beyond scared of heights. I might not be able to get through it!

    • Amber says:

      Yes, I’m the same! I’ve no idea why it happens, but shoes that I can walk for hours in at home ALWAYS seem to hurt when I travel in them! I thought I was being so clever by wearing shoes I KNEW I could walk long distances in, but apparently not!

  • Iasmin says:

    Beautiful photos and outfit! I might be mistaken but I believe all flats give you blisters if you’re walking on them for a longer distance than usual. In Brazil, 3M sells this sort of transparent adesive tape that you can put around your ankles – or where you usually get or could get blisters – before you walk around on flats/uncomfortable shoes. The tape has rubber dots on it that protect your skin from the friction. And they also sell a more comfortable tape to go over blister injuries. I’m sure you could find something similar, if not the same thing, in the UK, though. I had the strongest urge to ship you a box of each because I know how much it hurts as that used to happen to me a lot!

    • Amber says:

      We do have things like that here, but these shoes were hurting me after a short plane-ride, so it wasn’t actually caused by walking in them – I think I was just unlucky!

  • claire says:

    Hi Amber, looks like a fun day was had, I currently live in Dorset but planning to move to Edinburgh, might get a London visit in before it’s considerably further away! i wondered where that skirt was from, just bought one off ebay myself. i would blame you but i know it’s my fault! i am weak!! haha xx

    • Amber says:

      If it’s any consolation , I doubt you’ll regret it – it’s a great skirt! My justification was that the fabric doesn’t crease (like, AT ALL, it’s amazing!), so it was basically the most practical thing I could take on a weekend away ;)

  • Roseanne says:

    I always have these kind of problems on trips out, but I’m never as prepared as you!
    Your outfit looks lovely! And that’s such a great find with the Topshop skirt on eBay – I never thought to look there! But with it being half the price I may just invest! Hehe!

    Roseanne xox

  • Sarah says:

    London is so beautiful in the sunshine isn’t it, I’m glad you had a great day exploring the city. As a Londoner I drive into town all the time and never find it to be an issue, I actually hate getting the tube so prefer it!

  • Call me M says:

    Beautiful photos! I would really like to visit London again some day soon!
    I’m so sorry to hear about the blister (I’ve been there far too many times!). But you looked gorgeous anyway, and you got to see so many places and monuments. I walked quite a lot when I was in London too, and I also went to London Eye (also, afraid of heights, but I liked it). So can’t wait to read your other post as well! :)

  • Fran says:

    Beautiful pictures! Trafalgar Square is probably my favouriite London place, but when I went there to say goodbye when I moved out of the city it rained…bummer, especially seeing how long it had taken me to climb the column’s base…

  • Ahhh I love London, you’ve made me wildly envious now! Even though I love the shopping in London (especially & Other Stories – why don’t they ship here to Australia!) I think you did the right thing only taking away a blister. London is such a beautiful city to look at and experience.

  • Mana says:

    I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to go to london. Now my advice is that you immediately go put a pack of plasters in your purse and transfer them to every bag after to cushion further blisters. I got a blister from wearing leather shoes that I was trying to break in one day (they’re always worse on me) and it was tiny and I forgot about it and then wore my extremely comfortable keds the next day to the zoo where I walked 8 miles. Unfortunately I didn’t have any bandaids and the keds rubbed the blister and it was awful.

    Mana
    Fashion And Happy Things

  • Mel says:

    Super jealous! I just love London! Sorry about the blisters! Such a killjoy, Paris did it to me in converse can you believe it!

  • It’s all about the Compeed. Love that nifty little blister fighting piece of weird skin like plastic.

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