Entries Tagged as 'Favorites'

10 reasons to fall in love with London | MontgomeryFest



Sometimes being an expat blogger is hard.

Exhibit A: when just a few weeks before you are supposed to move from Brussels to London you meet the sweetest couple on earth in the form of Annie & Justin from Montgomery Fest. (Please ignore my usual penchant for exaggeration because they really are the sweetest couple.) They are honestly like rays of sunshine. I just wanted to hug them about 10 minutes in and my sense is that’s a very common feeling for anyone who meets them!

I credit Annie with being part of the revolution behind the Brussels blogger scene taking place (she is one of the founders of the super fun Brussels Food Friends series (#BFF)) and admire the serious round of travels they undertook before moving back to the States. And when I say admire, I really mean I struggle with my jealousy…

The Montgomerys have recently moved to San Francisco and, while they are settling in, Annie invited me to write a post about London which I invite you to read here: 10 reasons to fall in love with London.

Be sure to stick around and take a good tour of Annie’s blog, especially her posts on Morocco, Porto, Barcelona, and Flanders – you’ll be hooked like I am in no time.

Summer reading list



What I should have done yesterday: left my flat and been cultured. What I ended up doing yesterday: binge-read Gone Girl.

I have a summer reading list I’m desperate to pile through before park-reading weather takes it leave. Here are a few I’ve already tackled and others still to come:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

For years I’ve walked past it in airport gift shops and yet for some reason, it never grabbed me. Then, as is sometimes funnily the case, I picked it up one day and was immediately hooked. Thought I didn’t always love the voice, I whizzed through the story and had to know what happened. It is hard to talk about it here in any detail (because its definitely one where spoilers will take away half the fun) but I am interested to hear what others thought of it. The jury seems out, with half those I know who read it loving it and the others rather put off. Opinions? And who’s excited for the movie?

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I LOVED this book.¬† When 18 yr old Nella marries into a wealthy family in 17th century Amsterdam, she hopes she is going to find love. Instead, she finds an up-tight, ornery sister-in-law, an absent husband and an odd but endearing pair of house servants. Her husband presents her with a doll’s house that mirrors their home and things start to get mysterious… the chill of the wintery Dutch canals almost leap off the pages at you sometimes. Its like nothing I’ve ever read before but a real craft of storytelling.

The Deaths by Mark Lawson

Picked this one up during my holiday with Mom in Bath because I loved the cover (yes, I am one of those people). Its the story of four privileged families in the English countryside whose precious little worlds are rocked when a murder hits them. I think it was this description on the back that got me: “The Deaths is a dark and brilliant social comedy about how the other half live – or how they pretend to…” It opens with a few pages on how the ordering of Nescafe capsules has taken up importance in their lives (and it is the Nescafe capsule delivery boy who discovers the murders). Love it.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Every once in a while, you just need an epic book. This one takes place in turn-of-the-century Shanghai. Violet has been raised in the city’s most renowned courtesan house by her American mother. When revolution comes to Shanghai, Violet is forced to become one of the courtesans herself. It sounds like a story full of heroes and villains and far-away lands. Sign me up.

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

I have already been reading this for months and, once again, I’m years behind everyone else in discovering the magic that is Caitlin Moran’s writing. The problem with this book is that I just don’t want it to end. A collection of essays, I’m reading one at a time. More like one story a week. Whether it be her tale of making her husband come up with a nickname for her or how she first attempted to get a job in journalism (it involves baking a cake for editors at the Observer), reading Moran is nothing but wonderful. Hilariously funny but incredibly sweet. I’ll keep this book going as long as I can.

The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins

I don’t know what to make of this one, but its on the list anyway. Wiggins is an English professor at the University of Southern California who has lived in Brussels, Rome, Paris and London. That alone had me curious. This novel won all kinds of awards when it was published in 2007 and is described as an old-fashioned detective story. And yet it opens with an essay on a sketch by Leonardo that the narrator saw in the Queen’s Gallery in London years ago that continues on into beautiful thoughts on how writing works. It starts in modern day Hollywood and jumps back to an artist in the turn-of-the-century West. I’m not sure where this book is headed but I’m curious to find out.

Any other recommendations? What are you reading?

Post-vacation blogger panic



I have recently returned from 5 glorious days in Lisbon.¬† Lisbon has a kind of lazy buzz about it if it makes any sense. Its buzzing with things to do and see, but it isn’t in any kind of hurry. Bougainvilleas are in bloom everywhere and sometimes you catch a wiff of cinnamon in the air. No one eats dinner until after 9pm. Street cats peak around corners¬† and the graffiti has an artsy-look about it. And people are incredibly friendly despite the fact that you can only really say “hello” and “thank you” (and apparently with a Spanish accent).

I was so looking forward to the trip that for one of the first times in Jessica-history, I didn’t bring my computer with me. In response, my computer has decided to stage a rebellion upon my return and my photo library refuses to open. Cue full-on-blogger-panic and the resulting scenario where I am currently shoving pistachios in my face faster than I can type to distract myself.

Thus, while I sort out my photo library situation, I invite you to take a little virtual vacation to Lisbon with me on instagram (@jessonthames) on this rainy Friday.

Wish me luck at the Genius Bar… and start researching flights to Portugal.

Photos – View from the top of the S. Jorge Castle / Pastel de Nata pastries from Belem / A skirt that matches Portuguese tiles/ Rodeo drive or the Royal Botanical Gardens? / Delicious peppers that almost killed me / Pena Palace in Sintra / Bougainvilleas / Looking out over the Rio Tejo / Walking up to the S. Jorge Castle / Psychedelic pavements / Cobblestone everywhere / Breakfast of champions

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