“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon…”
It’s no secret Cooper and I are Swifties (the collective term for ‘fans of Taylor Swift’). He might not like me mentioning it too much in public, but trust me, he is. Cooper’s up there dancing with the best of them at her shows 😁
You’re likely to know by now that she’s released a new album – the 7th studio album. Taylor Swift London Boy – we love this track on Lover! Don’t get your hopes up about running into her in the UK capital though. The song tells a story about where she spends time with her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn. And they’re known for not advertising where they are.
But you can still take a wander around places that are obviously close to her heart. If you’re a super fan, you might have heard about this odd theory that her lyrics actually map out a heart around London.
Must say, I’ve read some rather cynical accounts of Swifty’s London Boy guide to the city. But, as someone who is also rather in love with London, I kinda like her guide.
Taylor Swift London Boy city guide
We’ve compiled some travel info for any of you other Swifty fans. It’s a great way to take in the experiences and areas she’s mentioned.
In Taylor Swift’s London Boy she mentions “Camden Market in the afternoon”. So Camden is pretty cool and you’ll find a lot of things at the market. If you get tired of big crowds, don’t go in the afternoon.
We’d suggest going later at night, or early in the morning. Camden Market is well worth a look, but time it so you don’t get trampled!
FEST is also a nice spot that decorates according to the season. Nice to go for a drink away from the crowds.
Highgate and Hampstead Heath
Taylor’s spent a bit of time in the suburbs of North London. It’s known to be a bit affluent, posh even. Granted, we like it. We house sat in Crouch End recently. We also enjoyed a house sit near beautiful Hampstead Heath. It boasts miles of parkland walks, lakes and stunning views across London.
There’s a number of number of tubes/Overground will take you right up to one of the entrances to Hampstead Heath.
Leafy Highgate is best known for its cemetery. It’s an old one, and also the final resting place for many well-known figures including another music fave, George Michael.
Like Camden, it gets very very crowded. But there’s some cool experiences to be had here. Most of ours include food 😆
Sketch, pictured above, is pretty special (don’t miss going to the bathrooms – just trust us). For a bit of craziness in Soho, you’ll find us digging for an afternoon drink deal at Bar Soho. (Swifty mentions ‘drinking in the afternoon’… sure, it’s a thing on a sunny day 🌞). There’s plenty of food joints, bars and pubs in the vicinity of Bar Soho, if you can get yourself down that way.
And when you need a snack (yup, you know what I’m talking about), go here:
Hackney, Shoreditch and the east end
Aww, our ‘London home’ side of the city. For a large part of the last century the east end struggled. Much of it was badly hit during WWII, and the poorest Londoners resided here.
A lot has happened in recent years. Shoreditch and neighbouring Dalston are arguably ‘trendy’. No doubt there’s a cool energy, lots of boutique stores, arty experiences and a surprising side of London to see.
Taylor Swift in London Boy mentions Hackney as a place to explore, over “Louis V on Bond Street”. Agreed.
Broadway Market is our absolute favourite experience in the east. Head over there early on Saturday for one of the best, loveliest local markets in the city. Around the corner is a fabulous bar/restaurant/pop-up store space called Mare Street Market. Highly recommended. Then, take your foodie treats, sit in London Fields (park) and people watch.
You can view east London in all its glory from this excellent rooftop venue:
High tea in London Boy
I read a news item saying that ‘purists’ will be upset with Taylor Swift for calling ‘afternoon tea’ ‘high tea’. Weird – that’s how I know it. And that’s how it’s marketed. All tastes the same 😋
Top London travel tip: before coming to London, sign up for a discount site like LivingSocial or Groupon. There’s plenty of awesome deals on high tea or afternoon tea! Buy one ahead of your trip and indulge.
Brixton and south London
Down to south London now. Brixton is famous for music, cool markets and lots of new fun things opening all the time.
Jump on the Victoria line and head on over to this side of the city. Culture Trip‘s published a helpful guide on things to do in Brixton.
“Stick with me, I’m your Queen…”
Ok so you’re coming to the capital. You’ve seen The Crown, Victoria… Get amongst some Royal action while you’re in town. Why not.
In London Boy, Taylor Swift mentions ‘Louis V’ (the store), but implies exploring the rest of London outside of the glitz is just as fun (true).
You do need to explore central London though. Why? Because it is lovely!
From the historical buildings in Bloomsbury to stunning St Paul’s and Thames walks – find out why people, including us and Swifty, fall in love with this place.
Bonus: get yourself to a good old fashioned English pub
A quintessential London experience: the pub. They’re different in England than pubs in other places. Cosy, chilled, good times.
Careful in London that you don’t get dragged into a touristy pub – nothing wrong with them, but they’re often more expensive and lack the authentic charm that your local neighbourhood pubs have.
One of our favourites is in Angel, east London. Take a look.
So you see, Taylor Swift views the city like many of us do. For those who don’t like it, tough. The visitor numbers can’t be denied, nor our fabulous city’s millions of fans all over the world. I’ll take my rose-tinted view whenever I can 🌈
Please do add your tips or questions in the comments below. See you in London!
Taylor Swift London Boy, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19
The Northampton train station serves London in just over an hour and Birmingham in just under. This is a town most people will have passed through at some point.
We were in Northampton for our first long stay house/pet sit, with Luna the beautiful Shepherd The closest we’d been previously (and on the same train line) is Rugby, birthplace of the game of the same name.
There is so much to see and do in this cute market town. Next time you’re on the west coast mainline get off at Northampton train station and see for yourself.
Northampton train station and destination guide
As the county town of Northamptonshire, Northampton is steeped in history, with archaeological evidence dating back as far as the bronze age.
It wasn’t until thousands of years later that the town grew in national importance, following the building of Northampton Castle in 1084.
It went on to become one of the most famous Norman castles in England, an occasional royal residence and regular host of parliament.
Unfortunately, there’s not much left to see. Charles II ordered the destruction of the town walls and most of the castle in 1662 after the town supported the roundheads in the English Civil War.
The rest of the castle was flattened to make way for the train line. The Poster Gate only remains visible today. It was dismantled from its original position and rebuilt into the walls of Northampton railway station.
The town was hit by more destruction in 1675 with the Great Fire of Northampton. This fire destroyed an estimated 600 buildings. Although, Welsh House on Market Square and Hazelrigg House both survived. They are now Grade II listed buildings worth a visit.
Where to visit in Northampton
Abington Park was just up the road from where we were staying on our house sit, and it’s beautiful!
The park was built on the site of a medieval manor house and mill which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It’s Northampton’s oldest and most popular park. Some of the ruins are really interesting, reminiscent of what you can find in York.
The park features two lakes, a model boating lake and the church of St Peter and St Paul. It’s home to Abington Park Museum, which is housed in Abington Park Manor House.
It won’t come as any surprise to hear that the town is home to a museum of Leathercraft, also based in the house.
What’s with all the shoes?
Northampton has long been a major centre for footwear and leather manufacturing. By the end of the 18th century, a third of all adult males in the town were making shoes. It also supplied the British army with more than 23 million pairs of boots for World War I.
Barkers, Churches and Trickers are three of the most famous names to come out of the town. Although Churches, which was founded in 1873, is no longer a family run business after it was bought by Prada in 1999.
Trickers might be the least known name on the list, despite having a royal warrant. That’s because 80% of their sales come from overseas.
All three brands still have factories and factory shops in the town today.
This area was also famously the location for 2005’s Kinky Bootswhich was later turned into a popular Broadway production.
From shoes to shopping (for more shoes?)
Shopping is another reason to visit the market town. There are three shopping centres, including the Grosvenor Centre, Weston Favell and Market Walk shopping centre, which are home to all the high street favourites.
We also discovered some excellent vintage and second hand stores. A highlight is Vintage Guru spread across two floors and boasting many locally handmade gifts.
This is all as well as the widely acclaimed market, which has taken place in its present location since 1235!
So, if it’s history, some bargain leather or a sporting event, with both Northampton Town football club and Northampton Saints Rugby based just outside the town centre, there are plenty of reasons to visit.
Onwards on our house sitting journey: we went from here, a town all about shoes, to house sitting in an Irish town that’s all about hosiery. Find out more
With so many beautiful sites to visit, days out in Oxfordshire are becoming increasingly popular with all sorts of visitors. Around 41.7 million tourists are estimated to have visited the UK in 2018. Visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the aesthetics of Oxfordshire. Many want to see the architecture in the historic university buildings. After spotting famous landmarks, they’ll seek a picturesque picnic spot overlooking the Thames for a relaxing afternoon out.
We’ve published details on London staycations before. But what about getting just out of the big city? Here are four of the best destinations for enjoying days out in Oxfordshire…
Where to go on days out in Oxfordshire
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
Built between 1705 and 1722, Blenheim Palace in Woodstock is the only non-royal house in England to be called a ‘palace’. Blenheim is an imposing building, certainly worthy of its title. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Blenheim is now home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family. It’s best known as the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Several tours and exhibitions dedicated to the home life and work of the former Prime Minister are hosted here.
The palace staterooms, gardens, butterfly house and miniature railway provide further fun for all ages. Special events like cycling and supercar exhibitions are also held throughout the year within the estate’s 2,000 acres of parkland.
Broughton Castle near Banbury is a fortified manor house set within an idyllic parkland location. The core of this impressive building was initially crafted from locally sourced Horton ironstone in 1306 with additions being made in the 1550s.
Inside the castle, you will find fully furnished living quarters in addition to the impressive great hall.
Outside, the colourful castle gardens have been stylistically designed with benches conveniently placed for relaxation.
Located at the junction of three streams and with a surrounding moat, the stunning grounds of Broughton Castle make an ideal spot for a family picnic. Alternatively, take advantage of the on-site tearoom and gift shop.
A summary of beautiful locations wouldn’t be complete without featuring the city of Oxford itself.
Famed for its ornate university buildings, the colleges here provide an architectural feast for the eyes.
Christchurch is arguably the most popular college to visit. This castle-like building comes with its own cathedral and has featured on-screen in films such as Harry Potter.
The striking red brickwork of Lady Margaret College is another draw for visitors, along with the neo-classical style Radcliffe Camera building.
There are four main types of house sitting jobs in the UK that might be suitable for you, depending on whether you want to travel, stay locally and take care of animals or not.
House sitting jobs UK
No matter where you live in the UK, there are house sits nearby. We were based in London when we first decided to sign up to TrustedHousesitters, with a view to using the service for long-term travel. The site makes use of reviews, which help home and pet owners make a decision on who sits for them.
Being new users, we applied for local house sits in London. This gave us experience and the chance to build our reviews.
Plus, sitting locally offers a change of scenery and makes it possible to explore new neighbourhoods. Win/win!
If you’re on TrustedHousesitters, you can set up an alert with your availability and preferred location, and apply as new sits are published. Often home owners prefer someone who lives locally, believing them to be more reliable than someone who may be travelling through.
There’s plenty of short term house and pet sitting opportunities available in the UK. This is especially true if you’re around during key holiday times, like Easter, summer (August/September) and Christmas. By short term, we mean about two weeks.
Applying for a short term house sit in the UK means you can take a trip to a different part of the country and not have to worry about accommodation. This is a cost-effective way to travel.
Keep an eye out for daily alerts from TrustedHousesitters and apply for dates and locations that appeal to you as soon as you spot them.
Tip: if a sit already has over ten applicants, feel free to put your hand up for it. But, why not take it as a sign and apply for somewhere else instead? Go with the flow and be open to new experiences and destinations.
We consider long term to be over two weeks. There are house and pet sits in the UK (and beyond, of course – house sitting Ireland is on our itinerary) that range anywhere from two weeks to a month, two months and even six months. Over the next few months, Cooper and I plan to ‘slow travel’ and explore the digital nomad lifestyle. We want to take our time in destinations. With that in mind, we specifically applied for longer term sits.
For us, long term sits are an excellent opportunity to ‘live’ somewhere new, and we can get into a routine for working and setting up our digital business. It’s also more cost-effective for us to stay in one place for two to four weeks.
There’s a wide range of sits in the UK, from country to city house sits, some that require a car, and others where you’re fine to walk everywhere (our preference). Our first long stay UK sit was in Northampton, which was ideal for our needs.
Before you commit to a long term sit, make sure you’re comfortable that all the facilities at the sit fit your needs, along with transport being appropriate for you, and that you have supermarkets or other preferred amenities around. You should also be certain that you will happily stay there for that long. Outside of an actual family emergency like a death in the family, you should never back out of a sit you’ve committed to because that majorly upsets the plans of the people you’ve agreed to sit for.
With animals or without
The best part of TrustedHousesitters for us is the opportunity to travel and take care of dogs. We LOVE dogs and are happy to spend all our time with our little charges, ensuring they’re as happy with us as they are with their own family.
If you’re using TrustedHousesitters, or any similar sites, you can filter searches by animal, to look for cat sits, horse sits, reptile sits… the list is endless. You can also opt to sit without any animals.
Only ever commit to a sit that you have experience for or that you’re willing to give a loving go to, especially if animals are involved.
Our experience so far has been that anyone using a service like TrustedHousesitters has the same attitude as us: they’re loving animal people, kind and open to meeting new friends from all walks of life.
Hopefully this has inspired you to get out and travel, whether it’s in your own backyard, or further afield. Comments and questions always appreciated – drop us a line below.
Cooper and I have signed up to TrustedHousesitters – click the link if you’d like to know more or join the service too.
As I write, I’m house sitting in London. I’m in the loveliest of places we could never afford in the north of the city. A few minutes up the road is Alexandra Palace!
I’m gazing upon the prettiest of gardens that you’d not imagine to be in central London. Rain is coming down hard outside, and all is quiet. Well, except for Alexa pumping out choice House tunes, perfect for a Friday after lunch.
There’s a sleeping dog next to me. His name is Blue, and he’s a short-haired lurcher. Blue’s family are on the other side of the country for a special wedding, and chose us for their London house and dog sit this weekend.
House sitting London: how did we get here?
Let’s rewind to the beginning of the year for a bit of context. Cooper and I decided to pursue a different direction which you’ll be reading a lot about from August 2019. Some hints were given on the blog when we started posting about digital nomad tips and tricks.
In fact, we are taking off on an epic nomad, dog-loving adventure – house and pet sitting across the UK and Europe while we work on this blog and other freelance projects.
We joined TrustedHousesitters, which requires its users to have reviews based on things like reliability and trustworthiness. (We’ll share more about these house sitting services in future posts.)
In order to increase our reviews before we travel long-term, we chose to apply for house sitting London gigs.
House sitting in London (that is, locally to where we live), meant we could:
improve our rating on the house sitting service for London and beyond, and increase our chances of being chosen for sits
gain more house sitting experience that we can take on the road
spend time with dogs (most importantly!)
In March our house sitting London journey began. I meant to write more about it because it’s not so much the places we stay that’s appealing, but the dogs we meet. Time has escaped me up until now. Still, better late than never
Dog sitting: the best part about house sitting!
We chose to embark upon this new style of travel, starting with our house sitting London experience, because it is certainly a cost-effective way of securing accommodation.
But the bonus for us – if not the driving motivator – is the fact we get to spend time with dogs I say to people that we’re turning from ‘crazy dog people’ into ‘craziER dog people’. We’re totally going to own it.
For dog-lovers, this lifestyle is the ultimate, especially if you’re not in a position to have a dog yourself, and you’re keen to travel as we are.
House and dog sitting has given us the chance to experience different types of dogs and their personalities.
For the love of dogs
Our first dog sit
Our ‘first’ were Polly and Darcy, two cheeky Westies. Darcy is an old soul and a gentleman of 11 years young. Polly is two years old, and the ring-leader in all things barking and chasing. Gosh we loved them. We’re heading back for a second sit for these little pooches soon which is pawesome.
This pair have such funny characteristics – one being the race out to the backyard every couple of hours to ‘check for a fox’ (that was there once). Polly will rouse Darcy from slumber to pursue this task, and next thing their little paws are racing along the wooden floor boards and the dance at the back door begins until Cooper or I let them outside.
They were great off the lead at the parklands up the road, and showed me that most dogs are happy to come back even if they’re not yours!
During TV time, we were surprised to learn the lengths of their affection, as Darcy jumped up onto the sofa and then up again onto the back of it, to sit leaning into our shoulders. Polly would make herself comfortable between Cooper and I on the couch. One big happy (temporary) family.
It was sad to leave them, if I’m honest.
Catering to unique needs
But then came George and Milly. Yes, we fell in love with these two as well, but for different reasons. George is an old soul who certainly still loves adventures but his back legs have had enough and so Cooper learnt to walk George on a harness. We’d take he and his younger adopted mate, Milly, over to beautiful Hampstead Heath for a walk around the path that they’re familiar with. People would stop to make way for George, and the dog-lovers would give us a smile as if to say, ‘how lovely, bless his little cottons socks’.
Milly had a tough time when she was a baby, being mistreated by her original owners. Don’t get us started. She won the lottery with the mums she ended up with though, two inspiring women who it was an absolute privilege to meet!
This sit helped us grow as dog carers. When Milly and George’s parents left for their travels, there was an hour or two where we needed to get acquainted. Usually we’d take a dog on a walk to help them settle with us as new humans in their space. I was on my own for the first few hours of this sit and couldn’t walk George. It was Milly, George and me, sussing each other out. Milly seemed a little anxious without her mums, and I was a bit anxious worrying that the dogs seemed worried.
Cooper arrived though, we went on an adventure to the park, had some food and everyone settled. By the end of this weekend sit, we got an understanding of George’s barks and sounds telling us what he wanted. Milly would demand to be massaged on her head by pawing our legs and insisting we ‘continue’. How amazing to communicate with dogs like this.
Anxiety, walks and weather
Now I’m with Blue, waiting for Cooper to get in from his day at work. Blue was super happy to welcome me into his home. However, about an hour into the sit, he disappeared. I thought I’d lost him! He was hiding in the laundry room in the dark.
Fortunately I figured out it wasn’t due to me, but rather, his mum had said he is fearful of storms. There was one overhead, so we waited it out together. Blue isn’t fond of rain, or the heat, but I discovered Blue likes hugs and treats, which will do us until things are better outside and we can find adventure together.
He also likes sleeping. And he’s been doing just that while I write this piece.
Five dogs in, and I’m in love with each one – all with their different sizes, quirks, personalities, sounds, interests, affectionate traits and backgrounds.
House sitting – what’s next?
In mid-August we’re heading off on our own adventure, and we’re going to share it with you here! We’ve been asked by so many people how we got into house sitting – it seems like something you’d only see in a movie. We’re going to test it out though, and share everything with you, so you can do it too.
This lifestyle is ideal for us right now because we:
Want to travel and see new places and don’t really mind where we end up
Intend to work on our digital business so we just need to be somewhere there’s good WiFi
Enjoy meeting new people, learning new stories and cultures, and this seems like a perfect opportunity to do all that!
We hope you’ll join us for more stories as the months go by. If you’re interested to find out more about how to travel the world house-sitting, drop us a line in the comments.
As mentioned, Cooper and I have signed up to TrustedHousesitters – click the link if you’d like to know more or join the service too!
A few weeks back, we received an invite from Point A Hotel Liverpool Street, asking if we’d like to take a look around the newly refurbished premises. After having the chance to stay at Point A Hotel Shoreditch we jumped at the opportunity. There’s nothing like a London staycation, after all!
The thing we genuinely like about the two Point A Hotels in London that we’ve seen: the brand has reinvented what compact is. It’s easier than you might think to get totally ripped off by hotels in London – you’ll pay a fortune thinking you have somewhere nice reserved, only to find it’s run-down, uncomfortable and dowdy.
Our experience with Point A Hotels in London is that they make great use of space, opt for stylish tech and comfy beds.
Best things about Point A Hotel Liverpool Street
Point A Hotel Liverpool Street was one of the original hotels in the network. We experienced the totally refurbished version, and we’re thoroughly impressed! Point a Hotel Liverpool Street is about 5 to 7 minutes walk from the station. It’s just two minutes’ from Spitalfields, which has everything you could need for a stay in central London.
Outside of its very convenient location, there’s a spacious outdoor area that you can enjoy if the sun is out. Inside you’ll find a comfortable lounge / chill out space that is also where breakfast is served.
Like its sister property in Shoreditch, the rooms are compact but cleverly designed so that you feel like you’re in a cosy nook. There’s plenty of clever hiding space for luggage too. Topped off by fun mood lighting, black-out curtains and 43-inch Samsung Smart TV, you’ve got everything you need for a total getaway.
Find out more about Point A Liverpool Street Hotel’s refurb here.
Top 4 things to do near Liverpool Street
Old Spitalfields market
This east London hot-spot has seen market activity for over 350 years! Now, Spitalfields is a covered market, brimming with lovely eateries, lively places to have a beer and shops to browse. It’s definitely one of the best things to do near Liverpool Street, and it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from this London Point A Hotel. There’s over 50 shops and stalls at Spitalfields.
What we like about the place is that the restaurants and bars are big. Plenty of space means a place to sit down. I even managed to get some work done so would add it to our list of fave London digital nomad working spots.
Salesforce Tower and Sushi Samba
Locals know this secret well. For one of the very best things to do near Liverpool Street, and a FREE view of London, head to Salesforce Tower (formerly Heron Tower). The glass lift is swift. That is, in less than 30 seconds you’ll be 39 floors high! The view is spectacular though.
It’s easy to pop into Sushi Samba for a drink on their outdoor deck. You’ll need a reservation to eat there though, or at the dining alternative at the top, The Duck and Waffle. The Drift is on the ground level, also another lovely venue.
Be mindful here, you’ll possibly need dress shoes to enter the building, but outside that, you can enjoy a fun free experience, just a short walk across the road from Liverpool Street.
Described as ‘a 32-acre central London neighbourhood’, Broadgate is the brand new precinct opened next to Liverpool Street station. We wandered through earlier this year just as it was opened. It’s built in a circle type shape, with beautiful restaurants and Instagrammable boutiques throughout.
This spot has everything from pubs to high-end sushi, beautiful meeting spots and table tennis. Read more here.
Finally, if you’re after a bite to eat or a quick drink, there’s plenty of options along Bishopsgate road. This is the main road in front of Liverpool Street train station. Most of our high street eateries are here, including Wasabi, All Bar One, Dirty Martini… You won’t go hungry or thirsty in this part of London.
And when you’re done, head back to Point A for a dreamy sleep.
Point A Hotels are situated across the nation, so ideal for a value for money UK staycation escape. We were sponsored for this stay but the review is our own.
Welcome! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London. We like to inspire on how to travel for longer and to live and work from anywhere. Our most popular content here is about seeing the world with your pet, remote working & digital nomadism, and house + pet sitting. Create a global life of your dreams at any age! Subscribe to find out more :)
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