Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Our Instagram-Worthy London Bucket List

What a whirlwind London trip we had y'all! And now I'm glad I can finally say why! We took a redeye and landed in London Friday at 7am, dropped our things at the hotel and hit the streets immediately to combat the jet lag. Then we had the weekend to play around and be tourists. 

I have to note that we went in January and it gets dark starting around 4pm, so our daylight was limited. Which means it also got cold early too - see my full packing list here

After a meeting on Monday, we really realized that London could be our home in a few months. So then it was more about going around and looking at neighborhoods. That's why things slowed down on Insta Stories haha, I felt like I couldn't post too much! I actually had people asking me via Instagram if we were ok because I stopped posting. Sorry y'all!

Not to mention, there was ZERO time to plan before we got there because we booked flights two weeks before we left, so we just were winging it based on all your wonderful recommendations from this Instagram post and messages on Facebook

Considering it was a lot of tubing and town touring, I thought I would switch things up and instead of sharing a play-by-play of our trip, share an Instagram-Worthy London Bucket List with you!
First off, can we just establish that pretty much all of London is Instagram-worthy?! So yes, this post is going to be long, but that's how I roll :). I was really surprised at how cute of a city is considering that 11 MILLION(!) people live there. 

I love how easy Instagram was to use as a resource to find fun places to go! Much to Ryan's dismay ;), we hit SO many of them too! I added everything we did to my Instagram Highlights on my profile, you'll see the little soldier icon that says "London" and it's all right there for you!

Here's a print out for you too in case you like the areas and places we visited and want to visit them yourself! If you have trouble grabbing it or specific questions, email me at attentiontodarling@gmail.com or message me on Instagram
Here were our favorites of these locations!

We didn't time things right to make the changing of the guards, but Buckingham Palace still didn't disappoint. It's just such a magnificent building and there are so many beautiful views of it, so make sure you don't stay in just one place - walk around, walk up, walk away. 

I had such a lovely afternoon at Kensington Palace Gardens while Ryan was working. I randomly happened upon it when touring Kensington as a place to live so I decided to walk through the Gardens where I saw the swans at the lake and then made my way to the Palace. I completely lost track of time though and when I got there around 3:50, they weren't letting anyone else in for tours because they close at 4pm. Oh well, just another thing to do when we move in April! :)
PS: How awesome is my new camera (Lumix g85) + Lightroom editing. I love this photo!

When we landed and were trying to fight jet lag, we headed straight to Notting Hill to check out Portobello Road. It did not disappoint and was a great introduction to the city. 
We ate breakfast here almost every morning because it was so cute and really close to our hotel (London Bridge Hotel).  The egg butty was our fav and it's right across from an amazing juice stand! This wall is walking out of the market onto the main road, you can't miss it! And we all know a good wall is a key to Instagram-worthy!
This was by far the most recommended place. Trust me when I say the bathrooms are going to BLOW.YOUR.MIND. It felt like I was in some bizarre sci-fi movie. And then the tea... OH the tea. The service is awesome, they bring you tea of your choice and then sandwiches and cakes. It was a really neat experience y'all! We had to make reservations and it was pretty expensive but in my mind an experience like none other.

I seriously could have done a whole entire post on just this place! Only thing is, it's not the best lighting at all for photos :). 
These are the infamous bathroom pods...
Ok, how could a gal who loves good shopping NOT go to Harrods?! It was beautiful and was everything I imagined it to be and so much more! Even if you don't like shopping and can't afford a single thing in the whole store (like me haha), GO. There are entire restaurants, butchers, coffee roasters, confectionaries and more there. It was fabulous. 
You have to have Indian food when you're in London! And this is the place to get it folks! My friend Christen (follow her yummy IG) raved about the Chai Tea (my fav!) and the Egg Naan Roll for breakfast. The chai tea was insane to the membrane!!! Make this one of your first stops. 
The staff was absolutely incredible and our main waiter asked if we lived in London or were tourists and we mentioned we could potentially be moving to London. He got so excited and ran away and came back with these little tiny bags and inside was a mini bronze dice on a key ring. They have a "locals day" so if you're part of the mailing list a bring it in your dice keychain that day they give you an actual dice to roll. If you roll a 6 your entire table's meal is on them! Isn't that so fun?

I know you've seen this place all over Instagram, it's the one with the pink floral wall and yummy food! We ran out of time (and the line or "queue" as Brits say was always long) so we went at night and were so excited to get sat in the flower wall room in the back. Surprisingly, this place had the best food we ate (outside of Dishoom for breakfast). 100% order the sweet potato fries!
When I asked people where to go in London, Charleston Weender and a friend of a friend (who I think has great taste!) suggested this adorable cake shop which is in the Westminster area of town. It was absolutely adorable with its flower-filled heart outside of the pink building. Definitely save time to walk around the area and see the beautiful flower shops, shoe shops and home interior shops (my favorite made table cloths that looked like watercolor, but really spelled out funny words). 

We waited in line to get in and have a cupcake and a drink and I have to tell ya, I wasn't super impressed with the cupcakes we had. They were adorable, but dried out, unfortunately. So I would suggest taking your cute photo outside and then popping inside to grab a hot chocolate to go - because that was DELISH!  
It helped that our hotel was a few buildings down from The Shard (like a piece of glass) which is the tallest building in London and has THE best views. Now - it is incredibly expensive, but to get to the observation deck which is a floor above and is an entry fee, so at least at the Gong restaurant you get a drink for your money while you wait to get moved to a window seat. 

They do make it interesting drink wise, mine had an actual (dead) SCORPION hidden in the leaves. They told me I could eat it and I was like.... uhhhh no thanks :). The person next to us had a Star Wars themed drink that legit was floating. 
This one was a surprise for me. We didn't have it on our list, but happened upon it after Dishoom and were so surprised. We went to the Paris macaroon house of Laduree and wandered in and out of stores watching street performers and taking in the city views. 
If it's your first time to London, you just have to go to Trafalgar Square. It's an easy walk up the Mall (pronounced Mal) from Buckingham Palace. It's full of beautiful landmarks (and some street performers) and surrounded by even more historic buildings and museums. 
This is a given for a good London Instagram photo, right!? And don't stress, you'll find these fancy little booths all over London. This one was right outside Covent Garden. 
I can't believe I forgot this one on the list! It's so cool from the outside you guys and just as interesting on the inside. It was the perfect stop after a loooonnnggg day of sightseeing. 
A note on BIG BEN AND WESTMINSTER ABBEY - they both were under construction and Big Ben especially was completely covered in scaffolding so don't get your hopes up here if you're going anytime soon. 

I added thoughts on what to pack, money exchange, your cell phone and riding the tube in this post if you want more info there! 

What spots did I miss and need to go back to when we move in April?! 

What do you want to know more about! Comment below or message me on Instagram

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Phillips Family is Moving Abroad!

I've stopped and started this post about 12 times y'all. It's hard to find the words for such an unexpected and huge thing to come along in our lives! I mean, here I am, thinking that my next big announcement would be a pregnancy (we're still praying hard for this one friends!) and that we've finally made it to our ultimate destination of Charleston where we're going to leisurely spend the rest of our lives while I build my business which has SO much momentum right now and God says:

"No my darling! I've got bigger plans for you!"

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have caught our Live where we made the big announcement with our Sully girl. You can also watch the replay by clicking here.

But of course, I had to hop on the blog and announce our news here, plus share some personal thoughts to document this time! So, what is this anoucement you ask? WE ARE MOVING TO LONDON! 😳🤗😬🤗
We have #allthefeelings about heading across the pond for a year right now - from excited, to stressed, to sad, to eager, we've got it all going on. It's coming so fast too, we move the first week of April! 

It sounds very glamorous to just pick up your life and move abroad for a year, but in reality you guys it is freaking scary as hell (excuse my language, but seriously). And there is SO much and I mean SOOOOOO much to figure out. 

Once I climb out of this hole of endless things to do in order to be able to move, I know it will be pure excitement. I mean, I can hop on a train and be in Paris in two hours. We've also already started our country bucket list and there are at least 14 countries on there now. EEK!

Ok so wait, how did this happen and how are we going to make it happen you may ask? Here are answer to the quetions we keep getting asked, just in case you're curious too. 


Ry works in mergers and acquisitions and he helped the London branch of his company here in Charleston acquire an awesome new company over there. So they asked him to move over for a year to help the two merge together and work through all the spreadsheets as I like to think of it (yes Ryan, I know you do more than spreadsheets every day, but hey this is how my brain works!). 

So we said yes after taking our trip over there to check it all out! I really did love London you guys. It's a huge city, but has a smaller feel and is so full of culture and life. Although, not going to lie, the fact that we're most likely going to live in 500 square feet of space where we know barely anyone is pretty scary. Ryan flies back over later this month to hopefully find the flat we'll be living in. 


Yes - we are renting out our house! See the Craigslist post here. I'm going to miss our little home, but gosh I'm glad we'll have a familiar place to come back to. 


Pinckney Palm will keep going! I'm going to pare my services down to social media consulting and one-time projects vs. the robust monthly support I'm providing 10 clients now. My amazing employee Sarah is looking for new opportunities, but we'll be keeping in touch for freelance work! My downtown office will be handed over to a new lucky person (let me know if you want the details!), but I hope to stay in touch with the landlord and come back to it eventually when we return.


Here's a happy part I'm looking forward to (besides all the travel)! Since my business is super busy right now, Sully is in full-time daycare. Now that I'm going to pare things down, and because daycare prices are INSANE over there, I get to keep Sully at home with me except for Mom's morning out 3 days a week. Let me know if you have any homeschooling tips or resources!


Now, here's the part that sucks the absolute most. We have to leave our dogs. Yep, my first babies and the furry loves that keep my stress down and snuggle me to sleep every single night have to stay behind. I'm devastated here, but you guys it's just not fair to them. They would have to go on the plane for hours and hours and their anxiety is already bad as it is being older. They could get quarantined and they'd have to live in our tiny flat with no yard where we'd be off traveling all the time. The tricky thing now is trying to find someone to care for them that we love and trust while we're gone. 


Yes, this is definitely a more joyus topic. The blog is coming back!!! I'll be getting my blogger groove back on and refuse to not document this insane journey! So make sure you're following my Instagram or Facebook to stay in the loop. 

Phew! Ok, so that's my life right now :). Exciting, but a lot to figure out! I'd be lying if I said the smiling faces and jumping for joy were the whole picture, there have also been so many tears and yes, a panic attack (or three!). 

I'm a firm believer though that God won't give you anything you can't handle. I'm also well aware of how incredibly blessed we are for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I do feel called to do this for my husband and family and ultimately lay over all my worry to Him. I know He has these spectacular plans that this gal who was born and raised in little 'ol Greenville, SC never ever imagined. 

So what words of advice or encouragement do you have for us?! I'm not ashamed to ask for it, we can use all the cheerleading we can get! :) Also, PLEASE let me know if you have friends in London, especially ones with kiddos. I would love to reach out to them! 

Finally - THANK YOU. We have had so many people cheering for us already (two of which have already booked plane tickets haha!) and we're so grateful. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What to Pack for London in January

Finding out that you're headed to London only two weeks before leaving is a bit crazy y'all, especially for my uber-planning mind. I was kindaaaa freaking out that I didn't know what the weather was, what to pack, what to expect, what we were going to see, etc. (please tell me I'm not the only one?!). 
In the end, I totally overpacked and one of the most asked questions via direct message on Instagram was what to wear in London, from shoes to bags to coats, etc. So here ya go peeps, I hope you don't make the same overpacking mistakes as me! And let me know in the comments any questions you have that I didn't answer! 

Coming up next... our full itinerary of everywhere we went and all we did in our week across the pond!

1. Michael Kors Trench - If I could suggest any item for London it's this black trench or one similar (clearly this one is #goals)! It's super lightweight which makes it easy to roll up and throw in your suitcase or bag, it's waterproof and it has a hood. It's not the warmest, but as long as I had long sleeves and a scarf I was good. 

2. A Medium Weight Sweater (or five!) - I actually had one of my sweaters laundered while we were there because I needed that added layer under my trench. The one linked is totally not London style, but the preppy American in me can't get enough of the pink color with the blue bows down the back! I also love this onethis one and this one.

3. Black Waterproof Boots - I wore my Hunters a lot, but did have to wear them on the flight because they're so heavy and take up so much space. These cuties would have been my choice if I had time to order a pair. If money were no object, these boots would be my splurge. 

4. Warm Scarf - I couldn't find the exact scarf that I wore with my jacket most the time, but if I had had time, I would have ordered this one. I also wore my lightweight Burberry scarf (color: Ash Rose) a lot during the day when we luckily got great weather. 

5. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings - They hold ya in in all the right places and are stylish, I wore these way more than I would like to admit. I also wore my ankle Mother jeans non-stop. 

6. Download and set up your apps in advance! See my two "can't live withouts" below:

Citymapper - Not something to pack, but definitely download the Citymapper app before you go! It was seriously the only way I got around by myself while Ryan was working. It tells you what Tube to take down to every stop and turn. Speaking of Tubing - if you'll be using it a lot, just get an Oyster card before you get on the first time and you'll be good to go as long as it's "topped up" with enough money. Don't hassle with the zone ticketing. 

Apple Pay - Unless you're planning on using pounds the whole time, put your credit card in Apple Pay if you have an iPhone. Reason being, they expect credit cards to have a pin and American cards don't - so you have to sign every time which is a hassle because they bring the machine to your table (they aren't allowed to take your card away). So Apple pay makes "contactless" pay so easy by hovering your phone over the machine, no signature or pin needed. Also - make sure your credit card doesn't charge international rates before you go. The Capital One Venture card is the best travel card in our opinion! :)

7. Universal Travel Adapter - You may want to bring 2 of these per person. You'll need it for everything from your phone charger to your hair straightener (which you should check wattage on before you come!)

8. Warm Hat - This was best for night because it got so windy which made it instantly super cold. This hat was literally $15 off Amazon and was so cute and cozy.

9. Something to Track your Steps! - It was really fun to see all the steps I got while we were over there and I just used my Apple Watch. My best day was 22k steps which was almost a half marathon! Clearly not a must-have, but it did help me not have to pull my cell out on the Tube around a ton of people to check directions and time. 

10. My Adidas Originals - You know that 22k step day I mentioned? This is how I survived it without a single blister or foot ache. I love these shoes so much! They're gold and match everything and even bring a little stylish edge. Everyone over there wears tennis shoes (usually black ones) because you walk so much, so these are worth the $80 tag.  

A Backpack - Full transparency, this backpack didn't come in time for me to take it with me, but I've been carrying it ever since (thanks Brette for the recco!) and can't get enough of it. If Sully had come along I would definitely have ordered this pink one and may still! My Louis Speedy with strap was perfect for the travel though because when the strap began to pull on my shoulder, I could move and hold it in my hands, which was also great for safety. We're actually in the market for new, larger suitcases if you have a recommendation! My favorites so far are here (I have the carryon size), here (confetti!) and here (#luggagegoals). 


What I shouldn't have packed were heels and flats (even though I wore them one day when I was feeling brave, bad choice). Also, I didn't wear a single dress and I LOVE a good dress. We tubed everywhere so even out to eat I had on pants because it was too cold. Workout gear - yep, I admit I didn't hit the hotel gym a single day, but I feel good about all the walking and stair climbing we did naturally :). Plus, wearing yoga pants out and about is not a thing over there. It was good for the plane and that's about it. 


Currency exchange was another thing - if you have time and your bank offers it, get pounds from them there before you go. You may have to call your bank in advance to make sure they have the currency you need. We did this with euros when we went to France and Italy and it was great. On this trip though, time didn't allow and we just brought US dollars with us to London and exchanged it at the best exchange station we could find (they're everywhere so don't fear). 


Finally, I got questions on my cell and data while over there. I opted to upgrade to Verizon's international data DAILY plan. So once I notified them and turned on international data, it charged me $10/day and just went off my already existing plan. I still had to be careful and turn data roaming off though because my data was used up by early evening when it was constantly on. Wi-fi will be your friend and luckily it is almost everywhere in London. 

I think that about covers it! Let me know in the comments or on Instagram any other questions you have. Cherrio darlings! ;)
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