There are days when I yearn back to the Scandinavian lifestyle when living in the Big Smoke, aka London. Natural healthy food, outdoor activities, simple pleasures from seeing beautiful design. This has made me to discover a series of activities that I can do in London during days when homesickness fills me. Living a piece of home in this mega city is a special experience.
Having this opportunity far away from home is of course one of the things that makes London very unique. I could just as easily write about experiencing a South American day in London. However, writing of what I know the best, here are my tips for living like a Scandi in London for a day.
10am: Nordic people love to bake and the most importantly eating baked goods. We like it almost as much as drinking coffee and with every cup of coffee you have to have something that satisfies the sweet tooth. Buns, tarts, biscuits, muffins, cakes… It is not acceptable to buy these ready made from shops but they have to be home made. And what a pleasure it is to have your own kitchen filled with smells of cardamon, cinnamon or fresh bread. This has led to a heritage of baking even amongst the generation that I represent and I didn’t want to forget this tradition when transferring myself to London.
My favourite baking recipe book is Scandilicious by Signe Johansen. The book is full of delicious sweet and savoury baking recipes, with wonderful pictures of traditional Scandinavian treats with a modern twist. All ingredients that cannot be easily accessible from normal supermarkets are stocked in TotallySwedish (32 Crawford Street, Marylebone).
My kitchen is not quite up to the level of my grandmothers, who would have tins of biscuits and fresh cinnamon buns waiting for guests to arrive. Nevertheless, it is nice to surprise your loved ones with mouth-watering cakes during special occasions, or even just do baking to switch off from everyday life.
12pm: Greenery, forests and open space is not easily found in a city but Hampstead Heath in North London is a wonderful sanctuary of peacefulness. Strolling through the forest paths, finding ancient oak trees is the closest you can get in London to a real Nordic woods. I love it although it’s a shame that no berry or mushroom picking is possible in this greenery.
2pm: As soon as the winter comes, London is filled with ice-skating rinks from Kew Gardens to Tower of London. Every Scandi will look like an ice-skating queen in these venues where most adults are on skates for the first time in their life. On a brisk day, nothing is better than feeling the cold in your cheeks when you speed along the ice. As a bonus of doing this in London are the magnificent views that places like the Tower of London and Somerset House ice rinks provide. Highly recommended!
4pm: Scandinavian design has found its way to the world map providing opportunities also for me to see some of the classic designs that I lived with during my childhood. The chairs where I sat on in the school canteen, the glasses we had at my grandmother’s house, the glass decorations that are stables in every typical Nordic home. They are all here in London and are spreading to the modern houses of style conscious Brits. Some of my favourite Scandi home shops are Skandium (86 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone), Republic of Fritz Hansen (13 Margaret Street, Westminster), Marimekko (16-17 Saint Anselm’s Place, Westminster) and Georg Jensen (15 Bond Street, Westminster).
6pm: More and more Swedish and Danish brands are sold in London boutiques as anti-cool, no-fuss clothing has become a fashion trend. Hip, swedish brand Acne (Acne Studio, 13 Dover Street, Mayfair) does this the best. Guardian newspaper crystallised the rise of Scandinavian clothing in London very well: “The success of Scandinavian clothes in boutiques and online is due to brands not relying on logos, as their US counterparts, such as Supreme and Stussy, do, and instead investing time and attention in high-quality design. The lack of in-your-face design and publicity encourages shoppers to go and find out about a brand rather than buy into an established subculture choice. Unlike brands with well-known logos, expensive ad campaigns and sponorship deals, many Scandinavian designers retain a sense of exclusivity and, as a result, have that much-desired, elusive trait: authenticity.”
7pm: All the shopping and sports makes everyone hungry and a stop in the Nordic Bakery (14 Golden Square, Soho or 37 Cavendish Street, Marylebone) is the best way to continue my Scandi day in London. Nordic Bakery has a wonderful peaceful and unhurried atmosphere created with minimalist design and simple sweet and savoury product range. The bakery also offers an opportunity to buy some of the goods to take home, including rye bread, jams, juices and cookery books. A perfect spot for a quite chat or for deep thoughts on your own. It is easy to stay in the Nordic Bakery for hours.
8pm: Perfect finish, for a perfect day. Even how crazy it sounds, good pick ‘n’ mix honestly tops amongst the things I miss from Finland. Luckily there is SugarSin in Covent Garden (70 Long Acre, Covent Garden), a sweet shop run by two Swedish sisters, is the place to go to feed my inherited appetite for great candy.
Scandilicious baking book
32 Crawford Street, London, W1H 1LS
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 18:00; Sunday 12:00 – 16:00
Transport: Baker Street
Transport: Hampstead / Hampstead Heath overground
Tower of London Ice Rink
Transport: Tower Hill
245-249 Brompton Road, London, SW3 2EP
86 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QS
Selfridges, Lower Ground Floor, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 18.30; Sun 11:00 – 17:00
Transport: Knightsbridge / Baker Street / Bond Street
16-17 Saint Anselm’s Place, London, W1U 1NZ
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 18:30; Sun 12:00 – 17:00
Transport: Bond Street
15 New Bond Street, London, W1S 3ST
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 18:00
Transport: Green Park
13 Dover Street, London, W1S 4LN
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 19:00; Sun 12:00 – 17:00
Transport: Green Park
14a Golden Square, Soho, London, W1F 9JG
37b New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, W1G 8JR
48 Dorset Street, Marylebone, W1U 7NE
Transport: Piccadilly Circus / Baker Street
70 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9JS
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 10:00 – 18:30; Fri – Sat 10:30 – 21:00; Sun 12:00 – 19:00
Transport: Covent Garden
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