30 June 2014

Foodie Penpals: June - Greece

The cardboard crinkles, and the smell of the Aegean Sea slowly whispers out. It's my favourite parcel hitting the doorstep again: a Foodie Penpal package. This month's goodies have winged their way across turquoise oceans and mountain ranges to end up on our kitchen bench.
Filled to the brim with Grecian goodies, my non-blogging penpal Evangelia sent me a delectable array of treats. Tahini, which she loves spread on toast with honey, an olive tapenade that hid rays of sunshine when paired with feta pasta, and Cypriot smoked salt (this is possibly the only ingredient I'm not sure where to use).

She also sent over a variety of sweet treats; luxurious Greek Honey, rose flavoured Charleston Sweets (I swear there were more than photographed - someone may have eaten them...) and a delicious dark chocolate waffle bar, similar to Kitkats in all the right ways.

Oh, did I mention my absolute favourites? Dark chocolate covered almonds. Being unable to get them in the UK, I think a move to a sun soaked Greek Island is imminent.

In all a delicious taste of Evalinia's Greek home, though may end up costing me two plane tickets and at least a week's annual leave.

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29 June 2014

Is there a difference between Travellers and Tourists?

Does it even really matter as long as you're happy?
Perhaps this yearning to experience somewhere simply marks the difference between a traveller trying to immerse themselves in a world different from their own, and someone simply taking a break from the hamster wheel of the day to day world, catching a few iconic sights during the trip. 
We prefer holidays where we can catch sunshine exploring the secrets at the end of winding lanes, then find a cozy local pub at the end of the road. Friends of mine adore holidays where they can sunbathe for two weeks and go out drinking and dancing in the evenings. 

Perhaps it's also a question of opportunity. Originating from a wee island in the middle of nowhere, the ability to explore a culture so different from my own is an irresistible beacon, whereas many friends who have lived in in more central locations all their lives see foreign countries as an opportunity so soak up much needed vitamin D.
Is it a dilemma? Not really. You need to live life the way that you want to.
May the road rise up to meet you
may the wind be at your back
and the sun on your face

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27 June 2014

Friday figments and photos

5 reasons why I love my home.


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26 June 2014

108 Marylebone Lane, Gluten Free Afternoon Tea Review

Genteel Marylebone is simply unique, a small, posh village hidden alongside one of the busiest shopping streets in the world.

On a busy Saturday afternoon Mr Kiwi and I visited the recently opened Pantry at 108 Marylebone Lane after a busy crazy week, seeking a few hours of refined respite. 

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of 108 Marylebone Lane, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily re-visit.

Offered a table in the bright bay window we settled on a strategy of one gluten free afternoon tea, and one dripping with the full gluten-radicals. Well, they aren't radicals, but you catch my drift.

Presented with a box of the tea selection, it was a delight to be able to see and smell the array, our smiley waitress happy to answer every question we had. And we had a fair few (I told you it had been a long week!)

My gluten free tea is billed as a 'healthy tea', a twist on the usual replacement strategy most hotels and restaurants use.

But first things first,  our gorgeous china. Even Mr Kiwi commented the delicate beauty (in an awkwardly manly kind of way of course).

My gluten free sandwiches were spot on, the freshest I've ever had. Nice, traditional fillings on soft bread that almost rivals normal bread. And if you ask any gluten free(-er?) that's a mighty tough ask. The Lentil spoon salad was nice, if a touch random but the bite-size 'super-salad' was a lovely palate cleanser.

The gluten-free scones were good too, passing the knife test (taught to me by grand-tea-master Kelly) and were lovely and light.

The cakes were nice, a lovely looking multi level champagne trifle crowning the tier. A light brownie accompanied a trio of fruity sponges,  which were all good if slightly unremarkable.

This is pretty darn good for a gluten-free tea; the sandwiches are often rock hard, the scones heavy or crumbly and the cakes often replaced by fruit. That said, the chefs could have gone a little crazier with flavour.

Mr Kiwi was a little disappointed in his normal tea, it was all just a little dry and they didn't offer refills. This isn't a position I'm used to - normally us allergen suffers look on as the mainstream tea-enjoyers are presented with a bevy of delights.

Highlights of the gluten loaded tea were the light sponge and his fruit tartlet was rather delectable, both enjoyed at high-speed. It was good overall, but was just edged out of being fabulous.

108 Marylebone Lane is a touch of understated class, great with one of the great deals they are offering at the moment (and a touch of window shopping on the high street beforehand), just make sure you try requesting a window seat.

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25 June 2014

Drinking goat's milk in a yurt, Edited by Monica Neboli

Many stories are flights of fancy, conjouring fantastical narratives that may never happen. On a cold windy day in London, I found myself drawn into the rich exotic maelstrom that is life as an expat in Kazakhstan.

Drinking camel's milk in a yurt, children's friendships that overcome different languages and the dilemna of simply being different, all challenges, all a fascinating study of learning.

These are a collection of short stories from recent expats, recollections of settling into a myriad of ancient and modern traditions, at times hard. There are no rose tinted glasses when you can't work out how to buy them from a local market trader.

"Discovering Kazakhstan was, for me, a conquest...and took time, curiosity and a certain spirit of adventure."

I couldn't put this down, each short story a richly embroidered tapestry. Recommended to me, it captured intricacies my tame expat life will never encounter and inspired a serious case of travel lust.

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23 June 2014

Lady Dinah's Cat Cafe

Tucked away from the busy chaos of Brick Lane is a small, independent café with one of the best USPs (unique selling points) ever. Cats.

(scuse the terrible photos, it was rather late in the evening...)

There are 3 rules of cat club (as set by the furry creatures);
1. Get out of my seat
2. Don't wake us up
3. Love us
Lady Dinah's is an incredibly unique addition to the café scene exploding in London, a two level café full of rescue kittens, deliciously over stuffed furniture and an explosion of cat toys and gyms. 

Set up for those urbanites unlucky enough to have their own beasties, we found ourselves on weekend evening a few months ago, seated with the company of these dozen beauties, a hot cup of tea and a wee slice of cake.

The cats are pretty non-p(l)ussed by their visiting guests - when we arrived it was clearly naptime, with crevices full of snoozing kitties. One by one, they popped their whiskered heads ups (I remarked at the time that it was like the Night of the Living Dead but with cats ears and noses twitching awake) and started to play with us.

Best night ever.

Lady Dinah's is quite simply one of my favourite places to visit ever. An Emma-mecca if you will...

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21 June 2014

Who or what is a London Kiwi, and what's this about adventures?

With a bevy of new visitors to my little corner of the internet (sup!!), I thought it called for a recap post. My name is Emma, and this is my personal lifestyle and travel blog. I share my adventures as a long term expat, living in one of my favourite cities in the world. Though you probably won't tell from my developing English accent, I originate from New Zealand, also known as Aoteoroa, hobbitland or Land of the Long White Cloud. As a country, we are known as 'Kiwis'; not necessarily the small furry brown fruit, but named after a small flightless bird who lives in our forests.  

This here little blog is my journey as I try to comprehend the wild and wonderful English way of life. Let's just say more than five years on and married to an Englishman, I'm slowly getting there...

Likes include: exploring, foodie fun, margaritas, perma-tourism (finding tourist-like delight in a permanent home), photography, reading, brunching, laughing, the All Blacks - but football is cool by me, buildings, chocolate, cooking, twitter chats, dabbling in a touch of geekery, history and the secrets behind old doors.

Dislikes: Black liquorice, icy pavements, being photographed (ironic, I know), sitting still, over done steak, bad service, Martinis, queue-jumping, offal, awkward social greetin7gs and kale.

As with most expats, I only intended to travel for a couple of years to explore the UK and Europe. Fast-forward 5+ years, I’m settled in London with my hubby and our wee cat, enjoying life, and until we've discovered every nook and crannnuy on this side of the globe, we won't be going any where.

I've been blogging at Adventures of a London Kiwi since 2012, when having decided that we had unconsciously lapsed into a commute/work/home complacency, we weren't exploring our surrounds to the full potential. I enjoy sharing everything that I'm passionate about here in my corner of t'internet, and have connected with some fantastic people who share my enjoyment for the quirkier side of life.
Kiwiburger - with egg & beetroot OH yes please!

I'm straight talking, fun-loving and fairly well-balanced dork (although I do manage to hide it most of the time, kind of like Bruce Wayne has his Bat powers). When not planning our next adventures, I can be found lurking in London bruncheries, pounding cobbled pavements, sipping champagne over afternoon tea and floating down London canals.
Right, that's more than enough about me. How about you? 

20 June 2014

Friday figments and photos

Summer, she is here.  

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19 June 2014

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona #travelthursdays

The Sagrada Familia, oh how we adored thee. We started our adventures in Barcelona with a walking tour of Gaudi's most famous works and our tour guide asked us: Genius or Madman? (Warning, you may want to make a cup of tea and get a biscuit, this is quite a photo heavy post, sorry!)

Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism. His architecture reflected his passions of architecture, nature and religion. (Wikipedia)

He created/modified some of the most amazing buildings, using nature as a basis for everything he designed. The Sagrada Familia was his masterpiece, and is still not finished nearly 100 years after his death, even though he spent the last 12 years of his life exclusively working on it.

We spent nearly 5 hours to wander around. It's really funny, we meant to spend a couple of hours max (including the tower tour) but it just sucked us in.

The Passion Façade:

The Nativity Façade

Up the on the bridge between the Nativity Facade towers:

Park Güell: (great views over Barcelona, and fantastic to take a picnic to)

Personally, I think he was both a genius and a madman, in order to be great you have to think outside the box.
Hint: book your entry tickets online in advance - the entry queues are phenomenal otherwise, and book your tower tour when enter the site!
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