30 August 2014

Scunthorpe in a wee parcel: Foodie Penpals August

Exotic goodies have been landing each month on my doorstep for more than 2 year from lovely bloggers and readers all over Europe. Dutch Stroopwafels, Swiss Fondue packs and US Candy have all made their way via our Postie to our cupboards and tastebuds.

This months package was a little closer to home, and came from sunny Scunthorpe. A stone's throw from Mr Kiwi's hometown of Cleethorpes, the lovely Sarah packed a box full of country delights from her local farmers market.

With my gluten-intolerance making life difficult, the plethora of scrummy treats were a real surprise.

Delicious fudge, soft butter shortbread, lovely Lye Cross Cheddar & Onion crisps, gluten free crackers and a cheese board chutney (subbed in as a dip) provided us with a few nights' nibbles, and the chocolate spoon (for adding to hot milk for a luxurious hot chocolate) was delicious.

Thank you Stacey, your parcel was a welcome top-up of Northern treats!

My parcel this month winged it's way over the Channel to Anne, a cat-loving bi-lingual blogger living in France. I rather hope she enjoyed her vaguely afternoon tea themed package - can you tell I've had them on the brain lately?

29 August 2014

Friday figments and photos - the beverage edition

As ever, the week has been an exciting mix of fun, chaos and dreary chores. But, hey that's a good life.

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos
Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

Adventures of a London Kiwi - Friday figments and photos

28 August 2014

The seven (ok, one) seas of Rye, an August bank holiday beach trip

Take one car, an argumentative SatNav, three Kiwis, a token Brit, add a dash of summer sunshine, a splash of historic buildings and an Ice Cream. What do you get?

The seven seas of Rye, an August bank holiday beach trip

August bank holiday. The last chance saloon for sunshine and sneaking away from the office for 'free' (not needing to use annual holidays) before Christmas. With a few sessions of intense discussion, the 48-hour game plan of Beach, Rye, Battle of Hastings then a brief stop to admire the Seven Sisters Coast was hatched.

The seven seas of Rye, an August bank holiday beach trip

As we cruised down the motorway early on the Sunday morning (ignoring the silly suggestions of our snarky SatNav) we dreamed of the last time sand trickled between our toes (and into every single other place imaginable), the last time we'd dipped our hobbit toes in crystal clear beach water and listening to the gulls glide through the air.

The seven seas of Rye, an August bank holiday beach trip

Tumbling out of the car after a quick brunch (Rye style, rather than Kiwi-style) we dashed onto the sand and straight into the sea (handbags, shoes and magazines clutched under our arms). Despite the warm day, it was blimmin' freezing. Two of us almost turned into fruit-flavoured icicles whilst we were laughed and photographed grimacing from the relative warmth of the shore. As this is my blog they won't be appearing, but kept for blackmail purposes later on.
My favorite moments of the day are always simple pleasures:

The seven seas of Rye, an August bank holiday beach trip


Once our bones were saturated with vitamin-D, we dodged the crowds, turned tail and headed towards the pub for a relaxed evening of local wine, nipping between chalets bargaining and a rather epic ice cream parfait.

What more could you ask for?

Oh, and psssst, it's almost time for another blog linkup - this month is Room with a View (be it your most favourite view, weirdest, worst or the one you aspire to see – we want to read all about it!).

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st - 7th August), add it to the linkup on here, Kelly, Rebecca or our lovely guest co-host Angie's blog from the 1st.  There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging love!

27 August 2014

5 books that have surprised me

When you read a lot (and I mean a lot - all that time criss-crossing London going from brunch to afternoon tea to dinner review takes up many delicious hours of book-lost travelling) you often find yourself becoming jaded. Character arcs seem cliched, love matches have to be triangular and the denouement can be as flat as a pancake. Thankfully, every so often a story will come along and set your imagination on fire again.

Fresh from finding the secret delights of the London Sewing Machine Museum (oh yes, you read that correctly!), The Forgotton Seamstress by Liz Trenow made me cry, laugh and miss sleep in order to read right to the end.

On the brink of both a personal and work crisis, Carolyn Meadows discovers a quilt in her Mother's attic from her childhood. She discovers that every stitch of embroidery, every thread of fabric is impregnated with the poignant story of Maria Romano; an East End orphan from a young age, brought up in a workhouse and ripe with stories of Buckingham Palace, royalty, illegal adoption and war. Is it all true? Are they simply wild fantasies of a madwoman locked away in an asylum?


The mark of a successful author, is the ability to transport a reader to a different place, absorb our imagination into a realistic character, and envelope us until we are a real part of their unfolding story. Fran Pickering's The Cherry Blossom Murder does just this, introducing the (somewhat kaleidoscopic) settling of British expat and amatuer sleuth Josie Clark into the mysterious Japanese way of life. In addition to solving her fragmented love life, Josie sets herself the task of unravelling the seemingly random murder of a member of staff in her Takarazuka Revue fan club.

History, glamour, Japan, murder, sequins and cherry blossoms, this story has it all. And a little birdie tells me that a second installment of the series is on it's way...


The underlying premise of Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace is that an ex-teacher, turned restaurant reviewer finds a mysterious disposable camera in a restaurant on Charlotte Street.

Chaos ensues as he tries to match up the camera via it's contents with the lost owner. This is a humourous, rather pithy tale about friendship, romance and making sure you give life a real go.


Sometimes books aren't just companions for just a few days or to get you through a few commuting hours. I read this novel at the suggestion of fellow ninja-book-club reader +Lisa Watson (incidentally a fellow exile Kiwi) and I'm still thinking about the haunting situations that play out, months later.

One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become ‘normal’ like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a beautiful story about Victoria, a girl given into care and the profound difference a foster mother made to her life. Told in alternating chapters of present life at the beginning of her twenties and the parallel of ten years past, her foster Mother teaches her the Victorian flower symbologies as a way of conveying the locked up emotion she holds inside. Through this process she researches and begins to create her own dialect. Once emancipated at 18, this dialect becomes a way for her to emotionally communicate with the world and create a livelihood whilst learning to cope in a complex world.


You empathise with her, hurt with her, want to shake her in annoyance, want to shout at her and want to feed her. She is complex and surprising, and makes you appreciate your family and loved ones. 

Have you picked up any of these? Do you also have any recommendations for the cool wintery days ahead?

26 August 2014

Mayfield Lavender farm, Banstead Surrey.

We've found a taste of Provencal, without the 3 hour flight. Don't believe me? 

Hop on the 166 bus going south west from West Croydon train station, chat to your neighbour for 25 minutes (or so) and you'll have 25 acres of proof.

25 August 2014

Bloglovin' update

I have news! Well, not really - just a really quick message to let y'all know that I'm changing my bloglovin' from the old blogspot one to my .com.

You won't need to change a thing. 

Back to usual service tomorrow - stay tuned for a sneaky way to get entry to the Shard, a day at the beach in Kent, a ridiculously good meal and the usual Friday roundup. I hope the bank holiday weekend has been kind to you UK lot!

22 August 2014

Roadtrip through Derbyshire: Crooked spires and a couple of tarts

Roadtrips are possibly the best fun you can ever have. Great company, adventure and every road a route to delicious goodies. That in mind, over a table of scone and cocktails Kelly and I hatched a girlie getaway to York. We knew it had to involve laughter, cocktails and gluten-free cake with a touch of history, so hotel booked we started off a grizzly grey morning with a map in hand.
Roadtrip to Derbyshire: Crooked spires and a couple of tarts - Chesterfield
With Kelly's smurfmobile (un)locked and loaded, we set off in search of our first pitstop - the Crooked Spire Church in Chesterfield. Rising above the local rooflines, the St Mary and All Saints Church tower is iconic and rather special.
Chesterfield, the crooked spire and a couple of tarts - Roadtrip through Derbyshire:
St Mary and All Saints, the Crooked Spire Church, was built in the late 13th Century and finished around 1360. It’s the largest church in Derbyshire. The Spire stands 228 feet from the ground and leans 9 feet 5 inches from its true centre. The Spire was built straight and the reason that it 'twisted' may be the amount of green timber used during its construction. Then 32 tons of lead tiles were placed on top – enough to bend anyone’s back! 
Chesterfield, the crooked spire and a couple of tarts - Roadtrip through Derbyshire

The church inside is rather classic in style, leaving most of the showbiz element to their showstopping spire. I did rather adore their modern leaded window depicting the local history.
Chesterfield, the crooked spire and a couple of tarts - Roadtrip through Derbyshire

Simply magnificent. Volunteer run guided walks up into the tower are run Easter to Christmas, Monday to Saturday (check with them for times) if you're itching to see the Derbyshire's answer to the leaning tower of Pisa - in true British style.

Chesterfield, the crooked spire and a couple of tarts - Roadtrip through Derbyshire

After a well-earned tea break in the nearby café, Kelly let slip that Bakewell is just a 20-or-so minute hop skip and a jump from Chesterfield.

Chesterfield, the crooked spire and a couple of tarts - Roadtrip through Derbyshire

We threaded our way through the beautifully mossy-green peak district to try the original Bakewell Pudding. It's not the tart crowned with marzipan and a cheery as we all know it, but a light pastry bowl of "beaten mixture of almonds, whole egg, sugar and luxury butter" which forms a lovely soft set custard.

Bakewell Pudding - Roadtrip through Derbyshire

We opted for the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, and beginning our treat with a civilised jacket potato, decided to try our puddings warm with custard. I wish I'd take more, better photos but I was starving... our puddings aren't gluten-free, but so delicious they are well worth the after-effects. The things we do for our art!

Bakewell Puddings - Roadtrip through Derbyshire - The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop

We then tripped downstairs to buy treats for the men-folk and snacking on later (like good girl guides and scouts us gluten-free lot firmly believe in being prepared). Their delectable emporium is also where I decided that leaving my wallet in the shop as a souvenir would be a good idea. Thankfully the really kind staff found it and couriered it back to me once home - not only do they bake delectable goodies in a picturesque village, but they are lovely to boot.

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop - Derbyshire

The beer was a success, and having spotted Bakewell Tarts as we know them, we wandered through the pretty village until our afternoon tea booked closer to York beckoned...

The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop - Bakewell Tarts

Not such a bad morning then, hey.

Roadtrip through Derbyshire: Crooked spires and a couple of tarts

21 August 2014

Friday (ahem, Thursday) figments and photos

With the weather beginning to turn I'm not ashamed to say I'm really rather excited. Autumn is by far my favourite season - jewel-hued leaves, sunny cool days, tights and cardigans, warm coffee and the best sunsets you will ever see.


So this has been my week, how about yours? It's almost bank holiday weekend here in the UK and I'm curious about how you're spending it - are you going crazy at the Nottinghill Carnival (survival tips here), sunning yourself on staycation (suggestions here) or just chilling at home spending time with your beloveds?

20 August 2014

Afternoon Tea straight out of a Modern Pantry

A life without cake simply doesn't bear thinking about. It would be daytime without sunshine, rivers without water or cats without whiskers. Even the Vikings, barabarian warriors who believed in Valhallah enjoyed the odd slice of sugared confection between conquering whole countries via blood-thirsty battles
Officially cake is a term with a long history (the word is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse kaka) and denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey.
Sweet, delicious and appropriate at any point of the day: Breakfast cake, elevenses, a cheeky lunch, stealing the show during afternoon tea, at 3pm with a cup of tea, a post-work snack, for dinner, making an appearance at dessert (before or after cheese depending on your French-affiliation), crowning festive tables and of course for a late night supper.
I've heard stories whispered in dark rooms, of people that banish cake from their diet. The results aren't pretty - we're not just talking a case of hangry rearing it's head. Rather luckily in London the choice of cake suppliers isn't going to dwindle any time soon (and crucially aren't to be confused with a slightly alternative vowel).
Recently the copious cupboards and kitchens of the Modern Pantry provided us with a much needed hit of our favourite meal. After months of calendar negotiations (the delay mostly my fault) lovely Ngaire and I recently met up to discuss her insanely exciting travel plans (and incidentally check out the reason Anna Hansen and her team have won such acclaim).

Presented with a misleadingly dainty tea tier we marvelled at the selection offered to tempt our tastebuds. No limp cucumber or plain egg sandwiches dare show their faces in this temple to modern flavour. Each mouthful was a moment of pure travel. Exotic delections such as a Lotus root crisp with piled with Persian spiced sweet potato & hijiku, and a quail egg, miso and wasabi cream cheese macadamia dukka open sandwich teased our studied sensibilities. 

Rather dry smoked salmon club sandwiches with yuzu (possibly languishing from pre-assembly) disappointed us slightly after such stunning openers, only to be blown out of the water by the cheddar, caramelised onion and turmeric scones, filled with curry goat leaf curd.

This was one of the best savoury scones I've eaten in a long time. Light, flavoursome, cooked well and beautifully textured.

Palates cleansed with the lemongrass panna cotta served with coconut, we slowly sipped our bubbly before perusing the exclusive tea list. Opting for a our waitresses' recommendation of the Darjeeling, we relaxed back into the next flavour exploration.

The sweet tier continued the tropical tradition: a green tea & tasted black sesame dacquiose (whisper light), an urfa chilli & liquorice chocolate mousse (slightly confusing but gorgeously textured - most definitely a marmite dessert) and a Darjeeling and pink peppercorn scone served with clotted cream, berry and liquorice jam rounded off the afternoon treat.  

Did I happen to mention that unlike many restaurants, the gluten free version was practically identical to my tea-date's gluten selection? Often we get fobbed off with fruit jellies and macarons, but when called the day before our booking the Modern Pantry chefs were only too happy to accommodate my dietary needs.

The flavours througout the tea are all playful, but not overwhelming in their unusual permutations - each item was a creative delight - much like their delicious brunches.

Happiness isn't 5 servings of fruit and vege, but a recently empty mismatched tea cup and cake plate. I should trademark that.
The restaurant has a lovely buzz to it, epitomised by clean modern lines inside the fabulous building a few minutes walk from Farringdon Station. Furthermore, with our eyes much bigger than our tummies turned out to be, at £19.50 at the time of writing (£24.50 with bubbles) it really was great value.

(Edit: the prices have updated to £22.50 without bubbles on the 8th June 2015 - still cracking value)
Service was again really nice - friendly, funny, happy to answer any questions and not overbearing in anyway, they wierdly just popped over whenever we started to think about ordering something. I'm still fairly convinced (apart from a slight delay with milk) that telepathy is a hiring condition at Modern Pantry?

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