Category Archives: American in London

Cocktail Ambassador

For those of you who read my little bio over there on the right and think, Cocktail Ambassador… wtf? I’m happy to say I’m here to enlighten you.

When David and I were first talking about moving to the UK I had a two very serious concerns.  The first was how readily I’d be able to purchase my favorite bar staples- things like jiggers, craft-made bitters and my favorite whiskey.  My second was that our Hobbit Town likely wouldn’t have any real bars where we could hang out and meet new friends.  In light of these two obstacles, I decided that I would move here as a sort of evangelist of the cocktail movement- a Cocktail Ambassador, if you will.  In my head, my Ambassadorship marries my love for brand development to my other love, cocktailing* and I can say with great certainty that it will be a great marriage, indeed!  

I’m not going to give away any secrets regarding my Master Plan, but essentially what this means is that I’ll be hand-selecting bars that already have a successful cocktail presence, and helping them focus their brand, provide something special, and create a really wonderful customer experience. Because you guys, there are some bars here that kind of get it right, but they could be getting it SO RIGHT, and I think I can really help them. 

What this means for you as a reader is that you’ll have to see and read a lot more about cocktails (I know, I know, you thought it was bad already…) as I’ll be sharing my favorite places to celebrate the cocktail hour(s) and notes on my favorite drinks.  This journey will be interesting seeing as it’s difficult to get a good drink in this country (especially at a reasonable price), and it’s even more difficult to get good service.  When I bring this up to residents here, they just shrug and say that it’s the English way, but now I’m here and I’m asking, But what if it doesn’t have to be? 

So now you know what a Cocktail Ambassador is.  Hurray!    

*Cocktailing is the combination of drinking, getting to know people, and having a great time.

Ambassador Kate, Part II

It’s announced, it’s official!  Jump over to The Adventures of Samantha House Jewelry to read a little bit more about my take on style, why I am so excited to be working with SHJ, and what I think her spirit animal should be.

Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, too!  I cannot even begin to imagine how much fun I’m going to have in this new position and I hope that you share the experience with me!  Like, we are going to have so. much. FUN.

Again, many thanks to the very talented Ollie Reimann for the pictures.   

xxx 

p.s. I’m wearing a Samantha House Slinky Earring in Gold in the photos.  I’m really enjoying this asymmetrical look for summer, which, by the way, is off to a glorious start here in England!

My Favorite Things

On Saturday, our 15 boxes of stuff arrived from America.  Having our things here allows me to finally feel as if I actually live here at Cox Quarters, and I’m not just a strange visitor.  I’ve had a fun (and frustrating) time arranging everything in the new space and slowly our flat is becoming our home.  Obviously I have my favorites amongst my processions, and I wanted to share some of My Favourite  Favorite Things with you.  I’m so so happy to have them back in my life!

  1. The only things I actually collect (barring shoes) are Blanton’s Bourbon bottle stoppers.  Did you know that each bottle of Blanton’s comes with a horse and jokey bottle stopper and on each stopper is a letter which, when you have a complete set, will spell out Blanton’s?  David and I have been collecting the stoppers for a little over a year, and it wasn’t until a week before our move that we completed our set (thanks for the bourbon, Lauren!).  I’ve seen Blanton’s at a couple bars in London, but have yet to find a place that serves it in my little Hobbit Town, though my local liquor store said they’d special order some for me, which I must remember to do soon!  
  2. It is so comforting to have my books back!  Books are like old friends and even if I neglect them from time to time, it’s always nice to look over at my book shelf and fondly remember their stories.  I love the tangibility of books and have always found the written word to be enormously inspiring. 
  3. I was very worried that my vintage champagne glasses, and ice bucket would arrive in hundreds of little pieces after being jostled around during the move.  Luckily, they all arrived in pristine condition and are ready for use!  Not only do I love them because they’re pretty, but they’re especially dear to me because they were wedding gifts from my parents.  I’m excited to share more pictures of them with you when I shoot some at-home mixology posts… Oh, they are so so glamorous!
  4. My vintage mink stole still takes my breath away.  As you can see in the second picture, the lining is frayed and in need of repair, but I can hardly bring myself to get rid of the sweet original monogramming.  Sentiment aside, I think it’s almost time to make the fur mine and get it re-lined and re-monogrammed, this time with my own initials!  (If anyone has a recommendation for a great fur restorer in London, I’d be glad to hear it!)
  5. I have gone the last month without wearing heels!  Well, that’s not entirely true- I’ve had one pair with me, but I’ve been missing my collection of wonderful sky-high footwear!  I’ve especially been missing these Isola pony hair leopard booties.  When the weather cools down, I’ll definitely be wearing them with white denim and black tank tops.
  6. These Proenza Schouler sandals are slightly more practical for summer and I’m so pleased to have them back in my closet (and on my feet).  I was absolutely enamored with these sandals last summer and I’m excited to see what adventures they take me on this year, too. 
  7. And finally, my kimono, which my dad bought for me ages ago on a trip to Japan.  In my world, I wear this kimono as a house coat and can be found most mornings with it wrapped tightly around me as I sip coffee and fiddle around on my laptop.  I LOVE my kimono.  My mornings were definitely not the same without it. 

p.s. Happy Memorial Day to everyone in the States!  Between sips of your margarita, I urge you to take a moment to honor those who have served and protected our amazing homeland.  THANK YOU, GUYS!  xoxo

A Tale of Joy & Much Woe

Remember when I told you that Samantha House made me two pieces right before my eyes when I visited her home studio a couple weeks ago?  Well, the above two photos are the pieces she made me.  The first was the Lauren Key necklaces, and the second are the super-long Slinky Earrings which I’m planning to wear in tandem from my left ear all summer long for a fun asymmetrical look. 

This is when the story transitions from one of joy to one of woe… My first weekend in London, David and I stopped at London Bridge for a view of the city from the River Thames.  As I leaned over to get a better view, my beautiful necklace hit the stone railing and shattered into a million* pieces!  It was beyond tragic and I maybe sniffled a little bit as I knelt down and picked up the pieces.  Despite my sadness, I’m sure I’ll find another use for my silver agate and quartz beads again.

*Okay, more like five pieces.

Bling Bling

I got my left ear double pierced yesterday.  Though I got a couple recommendations from friends, I opted instead to go to Royale Retreat here in Tunbrige Wells.  I’m not in London again until Thursday and I was getting to the point where I had to do it now or I’d chicken out (though really, it didn’t hurt at all… silly me!).  More details (and focus) tomorrow. 

xx

Ready, set, HELP!

 One thing I’ve never been good at is asking for help.  Way back in my wee days when I was home-schooled (only for a hot sec, THANK GOD) I rebelliously developed this aversion to asking for help because I didn’t want to ask my ‘teachers’ (uh, parents) to help me because my parents were my parents and I didn’t want their help [insert foot stomping and door slamming here].  After my poor mumsy and faja lost all faith in teaching me themselves, they flung me into the corruptive public school system and, though I was only in the second grade, the habit was stuck and I still saw asking for help as a terrible weakness.  (Did I mention that my brain wasn’t fully formed at this point and most of my childhood decisions were completely irrational?)   As you know, old habits die hard and I still have to remind myself that asking for help is not a sign of weakness- on the contrary, asking for help allows people to be open with each other and often draws people closer.  Asking for help allows us to learn from one another and feel value in the goodness of humanity.  Asking for help is awesome!

I’ve had to ask for help a lot a lot a lot since moving here.  From train schedules to ear piercing, I’ve sought out guidance from strangers and have been so touched by how generously people offer their advice, knowledge, and assistance.  I hope I’ll be able to return the favor often.

Here’s a shortlist of some things I need help finding right now.  If you have a solution* for me, by all means… 

  • I want to find a cool salon/boutique in London to get my left ear double pierced.  I do not want a chain shop and I also do not want to contract hepatitis C, so please keep your recommendations to places that will offer a great experience, a good service, and a clean environment. 
  • To harken back to my aforementioned rebellious streak… I’m going to Ascot on the 23rd of June and have just read the dress code for the Royal Enclosure.  While I’m super excited to be going to such an amazing event, something about all the rules makes me want to push some boundaries, and instead of wearing a bridesmaidy dress and giant hat, I want to find a menswear inspired vintage suit and I want to adorn my own hat, probably with quail feathers.  Ergo, I am looking for the best of the best** vintage shopping in London.  And perhaps a good milliner, too.
  • What are these flowers on this shrubby tree thing in the above photo called? (Mom, you’ve gotta be all over this one…)  I saw them along the canal in London yesterday and was struck by how blue they are.
  • Cute London-based home goods boutiques?  I need some solid, well-made kitchen and bath things to make my English Gentleman’s old bachelor pad a more welcoming place to live.  Besides, who doesn’t love a great boutique full of homey things**? 
  • Once my yoga mat arrives  later this week (along with all my heels & books, YAY!!!), I will once again be in the market for a good yoga studio.  I prefer to practice Forrest yoga, but I don’t mind Vinyasa or some of the hybrid classes that keep you flexible and moving.  I prefer not to attend a studio that asks me to chant things or try to sell me on some kind of spirituality… unless it promises me a Diane Kruger bod after just one class, in which case I might reconsider. 

*Advising me to ‘just Google it’ is not a solution.  I’m looking for legit word-of-mouth recommendations here, folks!
**In my book, ‘best of the best vintage’ = ohmygosh!-worthy deals & truly quality pieces. 
*** If you’re in Boston and are looking for a wonderful home goods boutique, I cannot recommend Pod in Brookline Village enough!  From petite Spanish tumblers (which I am at this moment using as mini wine glasses) to eco-friendly shower curtains, linen scarves and glorious bath salts, Pod will have you covered!

Ambassador Kate

I am so pleased to announce that I am now the UK & European Brand Ambassador for Samantha House JewelryCue happy noises and spontaneous jig step!  

A few days before my move, Samantha graciously welcomed me into her home studio (snippets of which can be seen above) and, over tea and homemade biscuits warm from the oven, we talked about our partnership and plans for our English and European Invasion.  I love Samantha’s energy and spirit, not to mention her pastel pink hair (yes, that’s her pink hair in yesterday’s Instagram post) and I’m so super psyched to be working with her!  This is going to be SO FUN!

The cases of jewels have yet to arrive, but when they do, you can bet that you’ll be seeing a lot of them featured here.  Her work is really amazing and beautiful and different, which I lovelovelove.  Next week I’ll show you the first pieces she made for me (like, made them right in front of my eyes, it was incredible) and tell you a tale of love and loss.  Until then, don’t be shy and check out her (our!) blog and like her (us!) on facebook.  We have big plans so stay tuned… and have a super duper weekend! 

@ladykatherine

Now you can be with me while I eat sandwiches, cry at bars, snuggle with Le Chat and go on all kinds of glamorous adventures!  Just follow along on Instagram and it’ll be like we’re together all the time!

I stole the Redcoat away from Cox Quarters last night and we had a very necessary chat about our current state of life and I broke my rule about crying in public.  BUT I COULDN’T HELP IT!  I mean, I have a lot of emotions right now.  Besides, it was bound to happen at some point, so I’m glad it happened in a dimly lit corner of the Hotel Du Vin bar.  Speaking of bars and drinking establishments- what is with the no music thing in this country?  Doesn’t Drinking Hall 101 clearly state that music is integral to creating a comfortable ambiance?  It doesn’t have to be trendy or anything, but some light background music is important.  Just turn on some Vivaldi or something, pretty please?  I mean, it’s difficult to tell secrets and have a quiet cry with all this silence. 

Inane Drivel & Pretty Pictures of Wisteria

I’ve lived in the UK for an entire week without managing to get hit by a car, offend someone, or start crying in public. So far, pretty damn good! Here are some notes on week number one.

-Writing from the iPad today because David and I foolishly packed only one adapter in our luggage coming over here and it’s being used to power our iMac, which he is currently using. My laptop is dead and I’m too lazy to walk to Boots for another adapter so… This is a stupid story and a hugely idiotic way of saying that the formatting might be weird in this post. Also an absurdly long-winded way of advising you to always pack multiple adapters!

- Someone left me a voicemail the other day and even after 15 listenings, I still can’t figure out what the hell they’re saying. Seeing as only 5 people in this entire country have my number, I very much doubt the call was intended for me, but regardless it makes me feel very insecure about my British telecommunication skills. ‘Ello..?

- I’m lonely. I miss my books, I miss my friends, and I miss knowing things- like where to go shopping or what bar has Bollinger by the glass, etc. I had to ask someone which coin was 10 pence the other day and because I was soaked with rain I couldn’t even pull the Cute American shtick. Embarrassing!

- Eggs here taste better than eggs in the States. Eggland, indeed! Most of the other grocery food taste better, too. Especially ginger biscuits!!

- I’ve had two urban fox sitings in the past week! This is very exciting because foxes are my spirit animal. My honorary spirit animal is Tilda Swinton who, now that I think about it, is quite fox-like herself.

- The train makes me very sleepy and I know for a fact that I will pass out one day coming back from London and will get robbed or something [touch wood!]. I need to find something to help me stay awake for the hour long journey… Tequila shots, perhaps? Weird Al polka music at high volumes? Recommendations are welcome…

- David has a whole bunch of vintage African art this his mother bought when they lived in Africa. I must remember to take a picture and share it with you.

I guess that’s everything worth noting. Yes, I realize most of my notes (i.e. all of them) were not at all interesting, except maybe the Swinton-Fox parallel… and I must look into that further!

Until tomorrow, xox!

Put a Crown on It

I went to Windsor Castle yesterday with a friend who’s visiting from the States.  Generally I’d be like, yeaaahhh, I don’t really do all that tourist stuff, but I was beginning to go stir crazy here in Cox Quarters and it turns out a trip to see the Queen was just what the doctor ordered. 

The inside of the Castle is gorgeous in that Royal English sort of way and even though visitors aren’t allowed to take pictures of the inside, I’m sure you can imagine the ornate splendor of the decor- lots of bedazzled sabers, stodgy old paintings, gold leaf… you know.  Luckily for this post’s sake, the outside of the castle is just as beautiful as the inside and, when we weren’t dodging rain showers, Lori and I had a great time gallivanting around the grounds, taking pictures, and asking each other questions like, “If Kate Middleton really loves her Pottery Barn dresser from college, do you think they’ll let her move it into the Castle?” and “Do you think there’s a secret modern wing full of Banksy originals and BoConcept furniture?”  I mean, are all the Royals still super gung-ho about the Victorian aesthetic?  Prince Harry needs a proper bachelor pad, after all…