Discover kawaii heaven at ARTBOX Covent Garden, London

Have you ever felt like you have died and gone to kawaii heaven? As you enter ARTBOX Covent Garden in London, those feelings will come to life. 

The ARTBOX Covent Garden shop is home to the cutest animated characters. Most importantly, it hosts a wall-to-wall Pusheen the Cat area. Now, if you a Pusheen and super adorable merchandise fan, you’re going to be pretty psyched. 

Upon entering this specialist kawaii retailer, you will meet animated characters and goods galore. Luckily, there’s plenty of plush grey cats!

ARTBOX Covent Garden specialises in kawaii Japanese items. Inside, there are unique wall-to-wall displays.  Expect to find plushies, stationary, clothing and sweet treats. 

ARTBOX Covent Garden is a specialist Japanese kawaii retailer 

As you explore, discover Pusheen’s friends and lots of familiar Sanrio faces. These include Hello Kitty, Gudetama, Rillakuma, Moomin, Sumikko Gurashi, Tokidoki and My Melody.  

Basically, when it comes to Pusheen, you will find plushies, stationary, pin badges and homeware galore! 

In addition, you’ll find the beloved Tofu Cute with their own concession stand within. Not to mention their selection of Amuse plushies, Japanese sweets and drinks! 

Therefore, if you are into all things cute, ARTBOX Covent Garden is the place to be. Surprisingly, the Pusheen craving doesn’t have to end there. Thankfully, it will next be fulfilled at the ARTBOX Cafe in Brighton! 

Which is your favourite kawaii character?

Stephanie xox

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Exploring The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London - shopfront

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London review

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities is a peculiar haunt in Hackney, operated by Viktor Wynd and The Last Tuesday Society.  

Before you enter this cabinet of curiosities, enjoy a tipple in the absinthe cocktail bar upstairs.

Housed in a former call centre, this quirky natural history museum is wall-to-wall with oddities and artwork. Its collection spans several centuries.

Exploring The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London - two headed lamb

Accessible by a steep spiral staircase, you will enter the basement museum. Here, discover a two headed lamb, dodo bones, Fiji mermaids, ‘fairies’ and a complete skeleton of a giant anteater – and plenty more!

Scattered around, tribal art, erotica, fossils and items of scientific interest lines it’s cabinets and walls. Alongside this, extinct animal parts and taxidermy in abundance.

Exploring The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London - cabinet

So, what did I find in The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities?

The tribal pieces were particularly fascinating. Shrunken heads, skulls, intricate artwork, dead babies in containers and lots of human remains – eek!

There’s also photo opportunities with well-dressed safari and mythical taxidermy gentry.  

Exploring The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London - fairy

The museum presents the largest known public collections by artist and occultist, Austin Osman Spare. It also hosts many interesting pieces by Anglo-Mexican surrealist, Leonora Carrington. 

Expect the good, the bad and the damn right weird in this oh so peculiar East End London gem! You won’t want to miss it. 

Have you been to The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities? Which item would freak you out the most?

Stephanie xox

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Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace interior

A day in Stratford-upon-Avon with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare bestowed upon the world a love for literature, producing nearly 200 known works in his lifetime.

In sleepy Stratford-upon-Avon, you can discover snippets of his world. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presents a variety of attractions in the area. Here, visitors can discover the literary great and are taken on a journey through Shakespeare’s life. 

The adult annual pass includes all five properties and is only ÂŁ22.50, allowing for unlimited visits within 12 months!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust attractions include:

  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace 
  • Shakespeare’s New Place
  • Mary Arden’s Farm
  • Hall’s Croft
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Discover Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre. This grand Tudor home presents a living museum of Shakespeare’s childhood and a timeline of his life and work. 

As you enter, explore the Famous Beyond Words exhibition where you will be presented with informative videos, artwork and memorabilia dedicated to the playwrights greatest works and a variety of fascinating artifacts. 

Finally, you will move on to the properties beautifully landscaped gardens. Here, you can learn more about Shakespeare’s plays on a 9 metre interactive wallbook, immerse yourself in live performances by actors on request and become mesmerised by talks and workshops within the home on Shakespeare’s family life and his father’s glove making business. 

Afterwards, be sure to check out the giftshop for beautiful stationery and books. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespare's New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place allows visitors to wander around the site of the playwrights final property, where he died in 1616. 

Although the original home no longer stands, the re-established neighbouring property presents a fascinating exhibition with artwork and artefacts. Surprisingly, this includes a signet ring believed to have been owned by William Shakespeare himself!

Finally, take time to appreciate the restored sunken Knot Garden and the large landscaped Elizabethan Great Garden. Here you will discover plenty of places to take a moment and reflect on his life.

The Great Garden is also home to grand and enchanting series of commissioned bronze statues by Greg Wyatt dedicated to Shakespeare’s famous works. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Arden's Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm

Mary Arden’s Farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Today, it is still a charming working Tudor farm and only a short drive outside the town centre. 

Onsite, admire the varied livestock and enjoy live action performances by actors in period costumes. See falconry and goose herding demonstrations, as well as being able to take part in a wealth of interactive activities and educational talks.

This expansive 23-acre farm is delightful to stroll around. Expect historic buildings, lush greenery and plenty of hidden treasures to be found. 

Enjoy watching butterflies in wild flower and fauna embellished meadows, reignite your childish side and climb the viewing tower, spot carved wooden animals hidden within the trees and crawl through lengthy willow domed structures.

On departing, the gift shop offers wholesome local produce and pretty trinkets. 

Tracing Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon - Hall's Croft

Hall’s Croft

Hall’s Croft is the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, physician, John Hall. 

Once inside, step along creaking wooden floorboards to discover their family home and life and follow walls and rooms lined with medicinal herbs and vials. Once upstairs, you will also find the beautifully crafted The Bard’s Rest sofa centrepiece upstairs.

You can also enjoy the Method in Madness and Living with History exhibitions. 

Method in Madness delves into medicinal practice and use in late 16th and early 17th century. It details how John Hall would have worked and how doctors understood the body and mind to function during this time.

Here, you will learn about medical advancements, see the garish tools used to operate and authentic apothecary and uroscopy stations. 

Living with History is found within the onsite Hall’s Croft Cafe. It presents life in Stratford-upon-Avon, past and present, through the eyes of local documentary photographer, William Mulryne. 

Once you have finished admiring the photography take a moment in the Hall’s Croft walled garden brimming with medicinal herbs or even enjoy some tea and cake at the cafe. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife and is a short drive outside the town centre. Here, Shakespeare courted a young Anne Hathaway and the pair soon fell in love. 

The property was originally a farmhouse and the family reared sheep on its 90-acre land. Unfortunately, as we set off a little later in the day, we had to miss Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. 

However, if you set off early, all of these attractions are more than doable in a day! Although, if you miss one like me, the annual pass also allows you to return on a later date!

Thus, I shall certainly be returning to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage soon. 

Have you discovered Shakespeare’s life in Stratford-upon-Avon? What is your favourite piece of work by Shakespeare?

Stephanie xox

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A spring clean with Fantastic Services - car

One-off deep clean with fantastic services

You know the drill, you’re busy at work, the cold weather has well and truly set in and you are well overdue a spring clean.

However, when do you find the time? Fantastic Services offer a variety of cleaning services for the home across the UK, as well as gardening, landscaping, tradesmen, removals and storage, waste removal, inventory services, pest control and appliance repair.

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - hallway interior

What cleaning services do they offer?

Their domestic cleaning services in the UK include:

  • Regular cleaning
  • One-off cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • End of tenancy cleaning
  • Holiday rental cleaning
  • Upholstery cleaning
  • Window cleaning
  • Conservatory cleaning
  • Oven and BBQ cleaning
  • Curtains and blinds cleaning
  • After builders cleaning
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Home organising

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - bathroom interiorA spring clean with Fantastic Services - sink cleaningA spring clean with Fantastic Services - bath tap cleaning

One-off deep clean review

We opted for a one-off deep clean as we are in the process of putting our flat up for sale. The service included three cleaners coming into our one bedroom flat for two hours at an arranged time to suit us.

Before they began, they asked me which areas they should focus on, focusing on a customised cleaning check list. Taking a room each in turn they blitzed our place.

They made the bathroom gleam, polishing up all ceramic and metal surfaces. Honestly, it looked like a show bathroom once it was done, I don’t think it was this clean when we bought the place.

In the combined kitchen and living room, our kitchen area garnered the most attention. Surfaces were cleaned and polished, the oven was bombed and blitzed, as well as the microwave. Our upholstery was also given the once over, with the sofa cleaned

Throughout the property, interiors of windows were made to shine alongside their sills and skirting boards were cleaned. They finished by hoovering the place, adding a perfumed spray across all carpets.

A spring clean with Fantastic Services - room interior

So, what did I think of Fantastic Services? 

Afterwards, the cleaners asked me to inspect the property. It’s safe to say, I walked back in and found myself in awe. Everything sparkled and smelt sensational.

I found the Fantastic Services cleaners to be thorough, professional and oh so polite. I will definitely be using them again in the future.

If you would like to take advantage of Fantastic Services and their incredible cleaners, you can use the code LDNGAL to receive ÂŁ10 off your first service.

Are you overdue a spring clean? Have you used Fantastic Services before?

Stephanie xox

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This Fantastic Services one-off deep clean was exchanged for an honest review

How to deal with being an anxious mess | The LDN Gal

How to deal with anxiety

There is nothing like a bit of brutal honesty at times. Aside from all the ‘new year, new me’ rubbish, anxiety is a demon many have to live with around-the-clock. Here’s how to deal with anxiety.

Many people would not see a person as anxious. In fact, most may even believe they are confident and outgoing – a shock to the system when this is further from the truth.

In the last few months, I have had to challenge my anxiety head on. I’ve had to do this for my own mental health and personal development.

See, anxiety is a nasty beast. It leaves you isolated, disconnected and quite frankly exhausted. So, I made it my mission to change my relationship with my mental health.

How to boost your mental health and mindfulness

Here’s how to centre yourself and deal with anxiety:

  • It is okay to not be in control 24/7– so what if you are late or say something ridiculous?
  • You can trust people – let people know how you feel and most will be considerate.
  • Talk more – it helps to talk about how you feel and to get a wider perspective on your concerns.
  • Take better care of you– put the dry shampoo down, wash your hair – you’ll feel better for it.
  • Dress up and get out– socialising always does you good, it’s only scary at first – step outside the front door.
  • Make time for you– find something you enjoy and do it often. Mindfulness is key.
  • Enjoy nature– take a walk and reconnect with your thoughts.
  • Structure your day – structure your day but allow for changes when needed.
  • Record your worries – If it helps, keep a diary and include your happy moments too!
  • Challenge yourself – Tackle anxieties slowly but surely and challenge your negative thoughts.
  • Sleep – if you over think too much, go to bed earlier. Also, listen to this (a lifesaver).
  • Be healthy – eat well and work out when possible. As a result, you will feel a lot better in your mind and body.
  • Breathing exercises – take deep breaths in and out for 7 seconds till you feel calmer.
  • Relaxation training – tense each part of your body for 4 seconds head-to-toe.
  • Seek support if needed – there is no shame in speaking to a medical professional. If you need support, contact your GP or local mental health support service asap.
  • Realise it is okay to have bad days! – Give yourself a break and start again tomorrow.

If you incorporate the above, your anxiety should ease up. Learn to centre yourself when you get anxious and utilise breathing and relaxation exercises when needed.

What do you do to challenge your anxiety? Have you tried any of the above?

Stephanie xox

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I am not a medical professional, this is advice based purely on personal experience

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Queen Victoria Statue | The LDN Gal

A guide to The best things to do in Kensington, London

Kensington is a bustling district in west London. Renowned as an upmarket area, it hosts London’s most famed museums, two magnificent Royal Parks and diverse shopping. Read on to discover the best things to do in Kensington, London. 

Of course, there are lots of fantastic sights and an abundance of hotels near Kensington, allowing visitors to easily access this cultural and glamorous area. 

The first stop for many in Kensington is three of London’s largest museums. These include the Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Science Museum. All of which offer free entry alongside a wealth of exciting exhibitions.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum Hope the Whale | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum Exterior | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Natural History Museum T Rex | The LDN Gal

The best museums in Kensington, London

Renowned as one of the most precious collections of natural history specimens, the Natural History Museum is not to be missed. On entrance, be sure to say hello to Hope the blue whale skeleton who looms over the foyer.

The museum is famed for its dinosaur collections, as well as other natural environment exhibitions. These include botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology. In winter, the Natural History Museum also hosts an ice-rink and fairground rides.

Next door, discover the Victoria & Albert Museum, celebrated as one of the world’s greatest art and design museums. Inside, discover 5,000 years of creative genius with an abundance of ancient and contemporary collections.

These include eclectic collections of architecture, art, ceramics, design, fashion, furniture, paintings, performance, photographs, sculpture, textiles and jewellery. It’s certainly easy to spend a day getting lost within its astounding and varied exhibitions.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Science Museum Interior The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Science Museum Exterior | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London -The Last Tsar Blood and Revolution | The LDN Gal

Adjacent, you will find the Science Museum. Here, you are welcome to learn more about the world around you with countless exhibitions and hands-on displays.

Quite often, the Science Museum will also host a collection of special temporary exhibitions. Currently on, The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution provides an interesting insight into the Russian royal family and their secretive medical history.

The interactive Fly 360° flight simulator ride also proves a popular paid attraction for adults and children alike.

What to do in Hyde Park Gardens, London

Have no fear though, museums aside, there is more fun to be had. Kensington is lucky to feature not one, but two Royal Parks. Discover the connected Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

These parks offer plenty of open green space to explore, be it for a summertime picnic or brisk winter walk. 

Firstly, take a stroll in Hyde Park, one of the world’s greatest city parks. Here you will stumble upon 350 acres of nature at its finest. Appreciate its beauty among trees, flowers and meadows, as well as an array of monuments.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Italian Gardens | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Bear Fountain | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Hyde Park Italian Gardens Fountain | The LDN Gal

Stop for a moment by one of its lakeside refreshment points and enjoy views of The Serpentine. In summer, you may even opt to take a boat or pedalo out.

From November onward, you can also visit Winter Wonderland. Here you can enjoy traditional German wooden huts, fairground rides and an outdoor ice rink to boot.

You will also stumble upon a variety of monuments and memorials, such as the Achilles statue and the Joy of Life Fountain, to name a few. You may admire flora in the Rose Garden, take a moment at the Diana Memorial Fountain or listen to the voiced opinions of many each Sunday at Speakers Corner.

Hyde Park has something for everyone, and offers year-round attractions and sporting fun. Connected, you will discover Kensington Gardens via the glorious Serpentine Bridge.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Sunken Garden | The LDN Gal

What to do in Kensington Gardens, London

The gorgeous and graceful Kensington Gardens offers 265 acres of green space to wander. It is home to the celebrated Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorial, Serpentine Galleries, The Italian Gardens, The Allotment Garden, Peter Pan Statue, Elfin Oak and the treasured Diana Memorial Playground.

Kensington Palace is a particularly popular pastime for tourists and local residents alike. This lovely stately home is embellished with period furnishings, landscaped by gorgeous surrounding gardens.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Queen Victoria Statue | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace The Queen's State Apartments Bedroom | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Kensington Palace Diana Her Fashion Story Coats | The LDN Gal

Inside, discover the State Apartments, Queen Victoria’s former living quarters and a special Diana exhibition, dedicated to the fashion and charitable work of the late Princess of Wales.

It is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton). Afterwards, enjoy traditional afternoon tea in the Orangery before taking a stroll through the Sunken Garden, much loved by Diana.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market entrance | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market lunch | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Whole Foods Market bakery | The LDN Gal

What to do in High Street Kensington

Culture and outdoor ventures aside, Kensington offers a spectacular selection of outlets for leisure and shopping.

South Kensington is home to High Street Kensington, renowned for its impressive variety of independent shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries, as well as many a high street favourite. For antique finds, you will want to visit Kensington Church Street.

You could certainly spend hours hunting around Kensington’s variety of fabulous shops. My personal favourites include Whole Foods Market, Urban Outfitters and Japan House London.

Be sure to stop for a quick lunch at Whole Foods Market, this gigantic organic food market is famed in the area.

The best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Biology of Metal Exhibition | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Metalwork Exhibition | The LDN GalThe best things to do in Kensington, London - Japan House London Metalwork Exhibition tools | The LDN Gal

Next stop, the recently opened Japan House London. Surprisingly, contained within a three-floor art deco building, it features Japanese artwork, retail shopping and fine dining at the authentic Akira restaurant.

A fantastic experience for all, head downstairs to enjoy a fascinating biology of metal exhibition and become immersed in this cultural hot spot.

Finally, the Royal Albert Hall offers a night to remember. This concert hall is home to many a classical offering. Surprisingly, this grand venue also hosts a diverse selection of gigs, dance, opera and sporting events on occasion.

The Kensington area is especially accessible, served by the Central line at Queensway station and the Piccadilly, Circle and District line at South Kensington, as well as numerous buses.  

If you are looking to spend a weekend in London, Kensington is an area not to be missed!

Have you ever explored Kensington in London? Where would you go first?

Stephanie xox

The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own