Monday

Eyewitness London. Paula Gardner from Scarlet Thinking


I was so very lucky to recently meet Paula Gardner from Soothed in the City. You know, there are so many people out there, who brag about how many countries they have seen. I strongly believe it is all about what one does on vacation and not about how many places one visits. We had a long chat about this theory and Paula was so very lovely to agree to get interviewed. 

Paula lives in London where she runs her own PR Agency Scarlet Thinking and gives advice on Social Media strategy. The world is full of beautiful and interesting women, and today you are about to meet one of them.

THE TOURISTIN: Three words that characterize London?

Paula Gardner: Exciting, tradition and home.

THE TOURISTIN: How do you best get around London?

Paula Gardner: I love the bus. Although I have to use the Tube (metro) a lot, when I can I get a bus so that I can see the open sky, the diverse buildings and of course, people watch! Tourists don't often use the bus and it's a shame as you can see so much more and really understand how London is laid out.

THE TOURISTIN: What is the best kept secret about London?

Paula Gardner: Its parks. Our royal parks are beautiful and although they seem like just parks, they are all different. St James is very much where the administrators of our country got to have their lunch and full of men in suits; Hyde Park is like a big playground and Regents Park is wonderful for open air cultural concerts and plays.

THE TOURISTIN: What is your favourite borough in London and why?

Paula Gardner: The City. It's old, full of history and yet there is a feeling of excitement, or making money and making your way in the world.

THE TOURISTIN: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in London?

Paula Gardner: I like Sacred just off Carnaby Street. The coffee is excellent and tea comes in lovely twee little pots. Downstairs is very relaxing and a lovely place to spend the afternoon chatting with friends.

THE TOURISTIN: What is one restaurant we have to try out in London?

Paula Gardner: Sarastros in Covent Garden. It's an opera themed restaurant with a decor you'll either love or hate. The food is good and very Mediterranean, but the atmosphere is wonderful. It's just around the corner from Covent Garden so there are plenty of bars to move onto later. You will probably need to book though.

THE TOURISTIN: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Paula Gardner: Weekends are my chance to catch up with what's going on. You might find me on a walking tour like the cupcake and macaron tour I did recently, visiting an exhibition such as the Gothic Horror exhibition which is on at the British Library or having afternoon tea with some other travel bloggers.

Other than that I may be shopping around Oxford and Regents Street with my teenage daughter or catching up with a film with my son, or just wandering around Covent Garden. Last weekend I had the most wonderful mulled wine off a stall in Covent Garden surrounding by loads of Christmas decorations. It felt very festive.

THE TOURISTIN: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in London?

Paula Gardner: The Wallace Collection is just off Oxford Street so a lovely place to stop when you're shopping. Here they have numerous rooms where you can see collections of art, sculptures, jewellery. It's amazing and a lovely, peaceful atmosphere. You can also take afternoon tea in the courtyard restaurant when you need a break.

THE TOURISTIN: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes?

Paula Gardner: Groceries I am very boring with...I get all mine delivered on a set up shopping list from one of the big supermarkets. But I do like to wander around Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly for little treats like cakes, biscuits and chocolates. They also always have beautiful window displays.

Clothes have to be one of the big department stores: Selfridges or House of Fraser which you can find on Oxford Street. In fact there are four department stores in a row: Selfridges, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams and between them they have all the brands and labels.

THE TOURISTIN: What souvenir shall we bring back from London?

Paula Gardner: Gin is very popular at the moment with lots of independent gin producers springing up. Prestat chocolates from their shop in Princes Arcade in Piccadilly are very pretty and traditional (they were the late Queen Mother's favourites) and, of course, at the moment, a Paddington Bear. London has gone Paddington crazy!

THE TOURISTIN: Thanks so very much for your time Paula. I wish you all the best and safe travels.

If you are interested in working with Paula Gardner please visit Soothed in the City.

Meet more eyewitnesses from South Africa, USA and Europe here.
From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.