How to keep in touch when traveling or living abroad

Happy Travel Tuesday!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Travel Tuesday post, but it’s time that I revive the series… and I’m doing so with a VIDEO!

During my travels and time as an expat, I’ve learned the ins and outs of being able to keep in touch with family and friends back at home without spending a fortune. So whether you’ll be traveling abroad for a few weeks or moving to a new country, watch this video for my tips on how to keep in touch with everyone back at home.

Do you have any other tips for keeping in touch while being abroad? Share your knowledge in the comments.

What to do with your family in London

tower bridge from bus

Although my parents and Aunt Maria were only with us for a week and we had lots already planned (including the wedding) we couldn’t pass up a day in London.

Tom and I gave Abby the “sister” tour of London a couple of months back (which focused a bit more on the off-the-beaten-path side of the city) but we knew that with my parents and Maria that we’d stick to the iconic London sights.

I had been on one of the Big Bus Tours briefly back in June for a fun blogging event, and after our 45-minute ride around the city, I knew it would be the best way to show them the sights without (completely) exhausting them (and us!)

So we booked our tickets and hopped on the Big Bus Tour. It was quite warm that day so it was lovely to sit on top of the bus and get a nice breeze as we passed by some of the most famous sites in the world!

tower of london

The benefit of these buses is that you can hop on and off of them when you want to stop and see something. After passing the Tower of London (just before they installed the poppies unfortunately– if you don’t know what that means, take a look at this ), we hopped off near Westminster for some photos.

london eye

mom dad westminster bridge road london eye bridge

big ben parents

big ben traffic

After some classic snaps, we hopped back on the bus and disembarked at Buckingham Palace.

big ben red bus bridge

buckingham palace

Tom and I love Covent Garden, so we made sure we took the bus towards there next. We were starting to get hungry so we ate lunch at Rossopomodoro, my favorite spot in town for pizza, before heading to Covent Garden to see the street performers and the market.

tom covent garden covent garden

Included in the price of your full-day bus ticket is a river cruise, so to finish our day of sightseeing, we hopped on the cruise at the London Eye and got some last-minute views of London before heading back to Surrey.

big ben waiting for river cruise shadow big ben

tower bridge

If you want to do a day of sightseeing in London, I’d recommend the Big Bus Tour. The tickets aren’t the cheapest (I think we paid £32 each for the day) but if you order them ahead of time online it’s cheaper. It’s not something we would have chosen to do with Abby, as we weren’t too concerned with seeing the iconic London sites as much (she had seen those on her own while Tom and I were still at work). But it’s a much better way to go than attempting to work out the underground or London bus system– and it’s fun to ride on the top of the bus and pass some of the most beautiful sights in the world!

How do you like to sightsee in a city? What do you usually recommend doing when parents or family members come to visit?

All five of us paid for our tickets on the Big Bus Tour, and I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. I just think it’s a great way to see the sights in London when you’re with your family!

Southwest Four Music Festival


Hey y’all.

I’m taking a quick break from the posts from my family’s visit for a couple of reasons— one is that right now I’m in Nantes, France for TBU, a blogging conference for which I am the social media manager, so I’m busy running around this amazing city as I tweet, Instagram, etc.

The other reason is that I actually have a new video for you! You may have seen me tweet it a few days ago. Over the bank holiday weekend, we went to Southwest Four, a dance music festival. I’ve decided to start creating more videos for my blog, so I figured this one would be great practice.

Southwest Four is held on Clapham Common in London— watch the video to see how the day went…

Since this is my “first” video, let me know— what did you like or not like about it? (Be nice please!) You can subscribe to the Love and London Youtube channel to see when I upload new videos about London, my favorite travel tips, videos about expat life, and more.

What videos would you like to see from me? Let me know in the comments!

Sun, beach, and Halloumi burgers in Brighton


brighton beach

After the wedding commotion died down, it was time for Tom and I to show my parents and aunt some of England.

Maria’s English co-worker wrote down some suggestions for places to visit, and when we heard that Brighton was on the list, we didn’t hesitate to plan a day there, especially since it had been quite a while since we’d been last.

brighton beach front
The days just kept getting more beautiful as their visit went on, making me look like a drama queen for complaining about how wet and cold it always is here. I’m sticking to that story– they just got lucky this time! parents visiting brighton

brighton seagull
We went for a stroll on the pier. It was a Monday but the weather was so nice that the city was packed. brighton pier brighton pier family
brighton pier ferris wheel brighton pier sea brighton pier beach
After a nice stroll on the pier and along the seafront, we set out to find some food. Tom recommended we go to Bill’s, which he’s talked about but has never brought me to (how rude.) menu Bill's brighton bills brighton
If you’re ever in Brighton, I highly recommend a visit to this quirky place. The atmosphere and decor was fun and relaxed, the staff were nice, but most importantly, the food was on point.  bills halloumi burger
My mom and I both ordered a Halloumi burgers (my parents and Maria had become big fans of the cheese by this point) that had sweet chili sauce and some other goodness on it.

My dad opted to try the fish and chips… with mushy peas (Americans don’t quite get mushy peas, the name is strange but they do taste pretty good!) bills fish and chips

Maria and Tom both opted for chicken skewers with cous cous and tzatziki.  Bill's Brighton Maria bill's brighton mom

bill's brighton restaurant After lunch, we walked off our full tummies in the streets of Brighton.

brighton streets

brighton ice cream

And it wasn’t long until my dad, the king of ice cream, found this place, where you can build your own milkshake. A nice way to end the day in Brighton…

A Summer Wedding in England

A few weeks ago, I attended my first wedding in England.

And well, after thinking about it, it was the first wedding I’ve been to in at least ten years… besides my own of course!

Tom’s dad got married to his beautiful fiance, and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day– both weather-wise and “wedding-wise”!

ghyll manor grounds

The wedding was held at a beautiful hotel in Sussex, at which we stayed the night before and the night of the wedding (no drunken cab rides home thank goodness!)

ghyll manor tom

The grounds were just stunning, and the sun made them even more beautiful.

ghyll manor grounds tom

ghyll manor garden

ghyll manor flowers

family garden

The lighting was so nice at this point that I had to stop my parents and my aunt for a quick picture.

I decided not to get snap-happy during the wedding ceremony, as I wanted to enjoy it and appreciate every bit of it. I also didn’t want my loud shutter disrupting the peace…

I didn’t really get around to taking some photos until a bit late in the day, which you’ll see in a bit.

But first… here’s what I wore…

dress for wedding

I was on the hunt for a dress for the wedding for quite a while but couldn’t seem to find anything that I loved or that fit the right way. So when my friend Amy gave me this beautiful dress from her boutique J’Adore Style to wear, I was the happiest girl in the world– especially because it fit PERFECTLY and was exactly what I wanted in a dress. It’s a great dress for a wedding, you can see it on her site here.

guest dress for wedding dress for summer english wedding

The shoes are from Asos– another thing that it took me a while to find, but when I did, they fit perfectly, were comfortable (relatively speaking) and we’re only £20!

dress for english wedding

Now, enough pictures of (just) me…

After the beautiful ceremony (yes, I shed a tear) and cocktail hour, we sat down in the tent (or marquee as the English call it) for a lovely dinner.

me and tom

Too much fun with the camera…

jof and kate

tom and me at the table

After dessert was served, the speeches began. Sam started it off…

sam speech

Then Grant…

grants speech

sam's hair

And then the star of the show– the best man, Tom!

tom speech

Tom was quite nervous before he got up to speak (the only time I’ve EVER seen him nervous was for this and to speak at our own wedding) but as soon as he started, everyone was already laughing. I was so proud of him– people were practically crying from laughter! I wish I had recorded it but Tom didn’t want me to (although after the fact he wished I had too.)


Some of our friends came a bit later in the evening to celebrate with us as well! We all started to get a bit silly at that point… could have been the wine? The champagne? The love in the air?


cupcakes kate and jof

Cupcakes are the new wedding cake.

cupcakes girls

wedding cupcakes

This is the last of the photos from the night– as soon as the band started playing, I put my camera back in our room and started dancing!

The day was just perfect and I was so happy to celebrate not only with Grant and Sam but to have my family there as well!

A weekend in London at Generator Hostel

Back in June, Tom and I were invited by Generator Hostels to come and stay at their newly refurbished London spot. I love Generator Hostels (we stayed at their Dublin location when we visited a few weeks ago), so it was pretty easy for us to say yes to a weekend in town.

The hostel is located about ten minutes walk from St. Pancras Station, which is where all of the Eurostar trains come into from Brussels, Paris, and a few other locations around Norther Europe.

The last time I had been here was the first time I had ever visited London, during my study abroad semester. We spent four days in this amazing city, then took the Eurostar back to Brussels and onto Antwerp, where I was studying.

st pancras station hostel

It was cool to visit St. Pancras almost 5 years later, and with my husband. It’s a beautiful station, if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend visiting and walking through.

If you’re ever in London and are looking for an inexpensive place to stay, I recommend looking into your hostel options. These days, some hostels are nicer than many hotels, and many times, you’ll spend less on a private double room at hostel per night that you would at even a low-budget hotel. Keep in mind that hostels do things differently than hotels– your room will only be cleaned by housekeeping when you checked out, and you won’t get fresh towels everyday. But for the money you save, it’s worth it– especially at Generator.

generator london hostel

The hostel’s design is absolutely amazing– so hip and very London. It seems as if there’s something interesting around every corner. It’s also extremely clean (a huge thing for me) and the staff were very nice and helpful— quite a plus!

hostel in london review

photo booth generator hostel london

events at generator hostel london

Tom and I loved our private double room. The bathroom was ensuite, it was quite large and had a desk and hanging rack.

generator hostel private room

hostel reviews london generator hostel london review

review generator hostel london

Tom and I couldn’t really be bothered to venture to far from the hostel for dinner as we both we’re too hungry, so we opted for giving the nachos a go at Generator’s bar. I didn’t expect much… but holy cow, these nachos were seriously AMAZING! And they only cost 5.50! See below…

After a few drinks at the bar, we called it a night and snuggled up in our cozy room.
The next day, after enjoying some yummy breakfast at the hostel (it was 4.50 for a nice selection of food and coffee or tea, couldn’t pass that up!) we ventured out for the day. Our first stop was Oxford Street (I had some shopping to do), then we met up with some of Tom’s family at the Millennium Bridge.

Tom’s mom and her boyfriend had given Tom and I a beautiful engraved lock for Christmas, with the intention that we’d lock it on one of the bridges in London and throw the keys into the Thames. Dave is a fantastic photographer, so we decided to do it on a day that we could all be there for so that he could take some photos for us!

millenium bridge lock london

The Tate Modern is right next to the Millennium Bridge, so Dave suggested a quick visit so that we could snap some photos at its viewing point. But instead of getting some romantic shots, we had a little too much perspective fun…

millenium bridge in london

It was quite a rainy and cold day (considering that it was the end of June!), but days like this make for some gorgeous black and white photos.

All in all, we had a lovely weekend.

Generator offered us a free night at their London location in exchange for a review– but as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own– and honest!

Visits are just never long enough, are they?

parents visiting brighton

Well, it went super fast but my parents and aunt have now come and gone. It was great to have them and show them so many elements of my new life here in the UK. I think they feel better seeing it — I really am quite settled here now!

London eye

And the wedding was amazing! So much fun, and the weather ended up being absolutely beautiful. The only part that wasn’t perfect was that I woke up that morning with quite a bit of a cold. Oh well, the show must go on, right?

What do you think of my dress? It was given to me by J’Adore Style Boutique and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for when I was dress shopping. And I got so many compliments on it !

Pictures from the wedding and the rest of the last couple of (fun) weeks will be up soon enough. What have you been up to lately? 

Life Lately… According to Instagram

How are you guys?

Did you know it’s halfway through July?

This is nuts.

There’s been lots going on around the Love and London household lately. All good stuff of course!

The first bits? Two days ago was my one year anniversary of moving to England.

Holy cow did that go fast.

Can you believe that this was one year and 6 days ago? I can still remember the feeling I got when I opened up my passport to see that beautiful visa. And my arrival day, July 13th, exactly three months after that awful, awful day, I arrived here. Check us out now!

Ok, moving on…

A couple of weeks ago Tom and I tested out the Generator London, a brand new and super swanky hostel. It was awesome, we loved it. I’ll be posting a review of it here soon.

Generator Hostel

That weekend we also met up with some of the family and had a little photoshoot on the Millennium Bridge.

And had fun at the Tate…

On the 5th of July I made these little guys and was feeling very patriotic.

fourth of july strawberries

I also went on a super health kick for a bit. Pretty jars make it much easier… and so does in-season watermelon!

fruit mason jar

Last week I finally tamed my tresses and brought them back to my rightful color. I felt like a new woman!

hair cut color

And this past Thursday, I rode around London on a big open top bus! So touristy. But so fun. Blog post on that later…

And this weekend, we had some NICE WEATHER! I’d say we took full advantage. Saturday evening we went to a local charity music festival that our friends headlined at. We even broke the Pimms out!


On Sunday I made some new blogger friends at afternoon tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel. It was delish, the company was lovely and we finished our tea with these little guys…

Town was buzzing and it was just amazing to be there for it.

oxford circus

I love and miss New York but I really do love this city as well.

What have you been up to lately?

London Eats: Bumpkin Notting Hill

One day, just a couple of weeks ago, I had quite a few people ask me about certain Instagram of mine.

They wanted to know all about it. Where it came from. How it tasted. What it was made of…

Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

The lovely Kelly-Sue from Bumpkin was so kind as to invite myself and a few of my fellow London bloggers to their Notting Hill location to try out their new summer menu, which was created by Executive Chef Raymond Fulton-Currie.

Coincidentally, just a few days before this was about to happen, I spotted Bumpkin’s Chelsea location on Made in Chelsea. Why do all of my reviews always come back to that show? I swear, I don’t base all of my choices off of it…

And for all of you Americans, Bumpkin apparently has been on Bravo’s Ladies of London. I haven’t seen it but hey, that’s pretty cool.

Anyways. I had had a quick preview of the menu before we gathered that day and liked what I saw. And what makes great food even better? A great atmosphere.

bumpkin summer menu

The decor at Bumpkin Notting Hill is just lovely. It was a lovely spring evening and the painted flowers on the exterior couldn’t have fit it better.

bumpkin notting hill london sunny in london bumpkin dinner

Of course, bloggers will be bloggers. Here’s Melanie from Sunny in London snapping away before we had a quick tour of the restaurant and its “entertaining areas”. .

clock table bumpkin london

A quirky table… and an umbrella covered roof. Fun for a party… don’t you think?

bumpkin bar london

The general manager Nick kindly offered me this strawberry lemonade to quench my thirst after I had hoofed it there from the Notting Hill underground stop. It was divine, and oh so summery.

Bumpkin London cocktails

bumpkin london blogger dinner

Not too much later, once we had settled into our spots for the evening, he brought us a table’s worth of Blackberry Lynchberg Lemonades. Considering the fact that I didn’t even wait till I took a picture to start sucking this guy down, I think you can tell it was delicious and a bit sweet– but not too sweet. Perfect for my taste buds. Apologies for the blurry picture…

bumpkin cocktail

The Bumpkin summer menu had quite a few delicious options (see it here), and I think the other bloggers agreed as we all pretty much ordered something different for each course… which meant a LOT of picture taking. Just because your food has arrived doesn’t mean you can just eat when bloggers are around, you know.

bumpkin london bloggers dinner

Melanie, Jacintha, and Mina chatting and snapping

bumpkin menu So, what did I choose to indulge in?

I began my meal with the soup of the day, which I believe Nick said was a root vegetable soup. I like most root vegetables and I don’t order soup THAT often when dining out, so I gave it a go. It was yummy and light, just what I needed to start me off.

bumpkin london summer menu soup

Oh, did I mention there was wine? Nick chose a wine off the top of his head to pair with each of our starters. Such a professional!

bumpkin notting hill

wine bumpkin

Jess in London Bumpkin

Next up? The mains of course! I chose the roast free range chicken breast with baked Jersey Royals (potatoes that grow on hills Nick told me, I’m embarrassed to say I had to ask!) and mixed beets. The chicken was cooked to perfection, it came with a fantastic sauce to drizzle on top, and the POTATOES– just loved ‘em. I wasn’t crazy about the beets but I’m not quite sure if I even like cooked beets anyways to be honest!

bumpkin summer menu review

Alongside our main dishes came a selection of sides, my favorite being the MAC AND CHEESE! The photo just does NOT do it justice.

bumpkin mac and cheese

Tom jokes that I’m like a little kid– I almost always want dessert after dinner. I have such a sweet tooth, it’s unhealthy. So when I laid my eyes on the dessert menu, I was pretty jazzed to see the selection, and practically squealed when I saw the baked vanilla custard, poached rhubarb and hazelnut crumble. 

Holy moly guys. I LOVE LOVE LOVE crumble, and this was THE BEST I’ve ever had (besides Tom’s grandmother’s, of course!)

hazelnut crumble at bumpkin london

After writing this, I’m now craving one. ARGH!

dessert at bumpkin

Miss Selena, chief-blogger-event-organizer and gal behind Oh, The Places We Will Go, is quite a chocolate-pouring pro. Her dessert looked fantastic as well. It took a lot of self control to not ask for dessert seconds…

Bumpkin is all about seasonal, authentic British food– and I might add that it has just a bit of a twist on it. I would definitely recommend Bumpkin Notting Hill for a fun dinner with just the girls or to celebrate a special occasion in a bit more of a casual setting. The food is fantastic, the staff were knowledge and kind, and the atmosphere and decor makes you feel a bit like you’re in a quaint English home. Need I say more?

Feel free to read the reviews by my fellow bloggers Selena, Melanie, Emma, Mina and Jacintha (even if only to see what they ate!)

Bumpkin has four locations: Notting Hill (seen here), Chelsea, South Kensington, and Westfield.

You can follow Bumpkin on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When you visit, be sure to use the hashtag #bumpkinsummer !

bumpkin blogger dinner

Have you eaten at a Bumpkin? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: our dinner at Bumpkin was complimentary but as always, these are my honest opinions!


Happy 5th of July!


4th of july chocolate covered strawberries

Ok, I’m a day late.

Those of us who don’t live in the US have to work on the 4th of July, ok?!

Happy Independence Day weekend to you all! I do have to say all of my US friends’ photos from yesterday and this weekend are making me miss summer in the US. Everyone’s in bikinis, at the beach or in the pool, and I’m currently in jeans and a sweater wishing I could go outside and actually get a tan. Sigh.

Tom’s not around today so I invited a couple of friends over for a mini 4th of July celebration– and I made those chocolate covered strawberries that you see above! What do you think? They didn’t come out as pretty as the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest but they were delish… and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Have a great rest of your weekend and let me know what your plans are, whether in the states or abroad!