Travel Adventures: A Birthday Weekend in London!

Ok – sorry for the delay with posting this! My bad. Life in NY has been hectic of late, but in a good way. More content coming soon, promise!  

I was lucky enough to spend my 33rd birthday back home in London last month! I had to go over for some work meetings which just so happened to coincide with my birthday! So of course, I extended my trip for a few days so I could celebrate with friends in London, before heading back to see family in Kent.

I don’t know about you but I LOVE birthdays! Not just mine but everyone else’s too! I still get quite excited for birthdays even though I’m now far too old for that sort of thing! My family have always loved a birthday get together. So it was really special to be able to celebrate my first birthday since moving to NY back at home with them.

I touched down at Heathrow mid-week and headed straight to my hotel in Canary Wharf, grabbing some Percy Pigs from (the much missed) M&S for snacking in the cab!

I checked into the Novotel, Canary Wharf just in time to snap a quick picture of the beautiful London skyline at night before crawling into bed – ready for a full on two days of meetings and some catching up with London work colleagues.

Views from the Novotel, Canary Wharf

I’d been to the Novotel whilst I lived in London for drinks and dinner before, and never been all that impressed especially with the food in Bokan, the restaurant and the sweet, but very slow service. But I had never stayed overnight. Breakfast and the accompanying views are pretty darn good, I must say!

Bokan at The Novotel, Canary Wharf

After a crazy day on Thursday, my team and I headed for dinner and drinks at Sticks N Sushi, one of my favourite places to eat in Canary Wharf. My team’s pretty global (NY, London, Singapore) and we only come together in person once a year. So when we do, we try to make as most of our time together as possible – both at work and socially of course! We gorged on a ton of food and had a fair few cocktails to wash it all down with. It was a great way to gear up for the birthday celebrations!

My birthday fell on the Friday and my lovely work colleagues arranged for some yummy cupcakes (see the picture at the top of this post) from Hummingbird Bakery to be delivered mid meeting, along with a card and a sing-song – very sweet! We also finished up earlier than expected, so my boss, knowing I had dinner plans suggested we get in the mood with some later afternoon bubbles – who can say no to that?!

When I knew I’d be in London on my birthday, I decided to have a dinner for friends on the Friday evening before heading home to Kent for the rest of the weekend. I chose Baltic Restaurant in Southwark as I love the food – a mix of lots of different eastern European dishes – and the service here is really good. They were super helpful in advance over email and seemed fine with the fact we were a large and fairly loud group!

Baltic Restaurant & Bar, Southwark

You wouldn’t really know about this place if you didn’t already know about it! I stumbled into it one evening as I used to work just up the road and was looking for a quiet bar with a friend. We had drinks and I remember seeing the cavernous dining room at the back and thinking I must come back to try to food.

Which I did. And then kept coming back as it was so delicious! You have to try their pierogi and pelmeni – both types of eastern European dumplings and the ultimate comfort food. One of the reasons I love this place is that it reminds me of the amazing trip I took last year to Moscow with some friends. The food in Moscow – well, that’s the subject of a whole other blog post – was phenomenal and Baltic helps us re-live those memories a little!

The Bar

I can’t tell you how awesome it was to be in London and get to be with my friends and family on my birthday! I was buzzing in anticipation all day (or was that the sugar from the cupcakes and the afternoon bubbles?!) and on such a high all evening! As more and more people walked through the door, there was a LOT of high pitched shrieking, bear hugs and champagne glasses clinking! Sorry if you were a fellow guest at Baltic that night – we were probably quite annoying!

I took hardly any photos on the night and am so mad at myself! But I was having too fabulous an evening to remember to click much!

Here are a couple that were captured…

Two blondes and a brunette

I’ll apologise now for the bad quality – so annoying. I had my phone stolen in NY – even more annoying – just before I flew out, so was using an old one. Lucky I still had it but not the best camera at all!

Pretending to be the 4th sister with my gorgeous cousins

I was so happy my cousins also came out for the evening. I love these girls so much and miss them dreadfully, so I was supepr grateful to be able to spend some time with them. The entire evening just flew by. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I savour precious times like these. Everyone is so busy and life is usually chaotic – so I was desperately trying to cram as much time catching up with all my different friends as I could. It was never going to be enough, but it gave me such a boost to see them all and I felt so special they’d all made the effort to come celebrate with me. And to top it off, I got some gorgeous and really thoughtful gifts. Spoilt all round.

Thanks guys – you’re the best!!!

The rest of the weekend I spent with my mum and my two brothers back at my mum’s house in Kent. I think my mum was super pleased to have me home on my birthday, and although my brothers pretend like they don’t – I know they miss me too! Well who wouldn’t?!

We went out for a birthday lunch on Saturday to a local tapas restaurant. And my mum had made one of her legendary chocolate cakes for after – sooooo good! I miss my mum’s baking!

I was feeling a little more sentimental about leaving London this time round as I don’t know when I’ll next be back or when I’ll next see my family. I love NY but it’s hard to say goodbye to the people you love the most. And I hate the thought of missing out on family moments and not being physically there when they might need me. I did have a little cry over lunch, the emotion of being home, seeing everyone and not really knowing when I’ll next see them really got to me. But that’s ok and I think pretty normal under the circumstances!

I then got even more sentimental by looking through some old family albums and baby books later that weekend. Look at how cute my mum and me were!

Look at those cheeks!

By the Monday morning, I was a little sad but also ready to head back to NY. And I had one last little birthday treat from BA who upgraded me to business for the flight back – thank you BA! So there you go, a whirlwind few days in London and now back in NY, one year older (debatable exactly how much wiser) and ready to celebrate again with friends in the Big Apple!


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