31 January 2015

Parents-in-law: introducing my Northern out-laws

Surviving childhoods living in the war torn town of Grimsby during World War Two, making sure my trawler-brawler husband and his brother safely weathered thousands of childhood fracas and laughing through marriage for more than 50 years, my mother and father-in-law are the wonders of my British world. When the team at Work the World asked me who my unsung heroes are (and deserved to be sent a Fortnum & Mason hamper on our behalf), it had to be my British whanau.

Parents-in-law: introducing my out-laws - Adventures of a London Kiwi
They would kill me if they knew I took this, but this is my favorite photo of them, walking hand-in-hand into the wind.

As an expat, you have a slightly different relationship with your better-half's family. Instead of the usual Mother/Daughter-in-law relationship, my Mother-in-law found herself adopting a quirky, foreign, extra daughter with an eye rolling whilst nagging her husband habit. Not a nice British girl who understands local flavour palates, sunny holidays to Spain and English etiquette (something I've still to grasp, but luckily they allow me a lot of slack), but a crazy Kiwi wanderluster whose idea of a wonderful trip is shivering in an Arctic Circle field watching the Northern Lights shimmer across the skies, cooks pumpkin and sweet potato like it's going out of fashion and delights in Northern English bakeries like 'The Bun Shop' (the "u" has to be pronounced to rhyme with pull).

30 January 2015

Friday figments and photos

Despite spending most of this week shivering, it has been wonderful. Great memories of our honeymoon in the South of France (we must, must go back soon if only to get some vitamin D and improve those 5+ year old photos), booking exciting new trips, celebrating too much, reminiscing about New Zealand, the excited chattering of afternoon tea, guilt at not taking the best photos that I can or writing particularly well, concentrating on laughter instead and snuggling into a warm, unctious scarf.

Life lately - Adventures of a London Kiwi

But hey, that's real life.

Life lately - Adventures of a London Kiwi

29 January 2015

Blenheim Palace, Bladon churchyard, a near miss and Winston Churchill

I adore London with all of my heart, but sometime all it takes is a 4 word message from a good friend to make me yearn to leave it. "New car, road trip?" did the trick beautifully in September last year, and before we knew it Kelly's smurfmobile was packed full of gluten-free snacks, blasting Katy Perry and cruising down the twisting country lanes through Gloucestershire.

As two Kiwi princesses (for the weekend at least), we made it our epic quest to visit as many castles as it was humanly possible to fit into two days, and though to begin with one of the more infamous - Blenheim Palace. Imposing, ornate and fascinating we tagged onto one of the free tours to learn as much as we could soak in.

28 January 2015

(Magic) Winter Fruit Sponges

We've passed the hypnotic date of the 19th of January (aka blue monday) where the shackles of New Years Resolutions have lost their grip, winter is starting to creep frosty fingers on rosy cheeks and battle umbrellas are being brandished at the slightest hint of sleety rain. We all need a touch of comfort; hearty treats to warm the cockles of our hearts.

Winter Fruit Sponge Recipe - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Have no fear, I have the baked solution. Magic winter fruit sponges. They're so simple it's almost criminal and can be made with ingredients found in your cupboard any time you need a cheeky winter warmer.

27 January 2015

An ode to cats

Cats are evil. Small, furry and vicious they use their cute faces to worm a way into your heart, and before you know it career-driven power players are cooing nonsense to the beast pinning them down to the worn sofa in a comfortable living room. Believe me, I've seen it happen

And then there are people like me. Indoctrinated from a young age, our family always had at least 3 cats: it's just how it always was. Amongst a cast of furry family members we had a farm-striding ginger tom that would go hunting with my Dad only to be picked up forlornly sore-pawed and carried home; a crabby-tortoiseshell who wouldn't be touched except when she knew you were incredibly upset with a sixth-sense for soothing childhood heartbreak and we a kitten whose first bath was in a (ahem used) toilet, thus christened forever as Flush. (As an aside, my young sister was also kinda evil, but has grown out of those ways, so I'm told.)

How to project manage, cat-style...

Fast forward many years, 10,000 miles and a marriage proposal later and we're stuck with our own furry bastion of chaos. Raised as a kitten on the tough streets of a rough London estate, we were offered her through a friend of workmate in order to introduce a touch of genteel life experience to her professional portfolio. She'd been through it all in her short life; tail crooked over her back (thought to be from abuse as a kitten), a fraught teenage pregnancy and a rather yowling car journey through the streets of London. She arrived at our home consisting solely of enormous green eyes, a woebegone look on her face and downy dappled white chest.

26 January 2015

London - my love in 3 quirks; Ominous nursery rhymes, knockers and basement rivers

This adopted city of mine is awash with many hundreds of years worth of intriguing stories, urban legends, historical enigmas, folk tales and human stories of fascinating behaviours - and that's just the newspapers - huh!

That aside, it makes for incredible explorations and story hunting through cobbled streets and narrow alleyways.

Quirky things to do in London - Adventures of a London Kiwi

24 January 2015

Ripe Coffee - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

Speciality coffee in New Zealand is simply booming. And I LOVE it! Inde-Roasters are beginning to pop up everywhere, rocketing up the standards of flavour to be found in our mugs, on our kitchen benches and most importantly fuelling brunch sessions. I mean important work things.

It's not often that a caffeine junkie is invited, nay, driven to exploring the hallowed ground that is a coffee roastery. Ripe is a small owner-operator set up just on the harbourside of foodie boom-town Petone, Lower Hutt in Wellington. I do have to make a small confession here. I'm not the only coffee junkie in my family. My Dad mainlines his with as much sugar as he can get away with, my sister takes hers in soft-drink format, but my brother is the worst of us all. He works for Ripe, testing freshly roasted slurps of coffee hot off the roaster.

Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

Out the back is where the magic happens. A mischievous team of roasters cast their spells over selected green coffee beans, in an alchemical recipe of flavour, texture and deliciousness. My bro explained to us in depth the processes they go through to retain complexity of flavour, uniformity of batches and experiments of seasonal roasts that they're known for. Alas, I hadn't remembered to pre-load with a cup of Joe so my note taking was scanty at best. Ok, I admit it, I only took photographs.

23 January 2015

Friday, figments and photos

This week was one of tempting snowflakes to fall, reminiscing about New Zealand memories, toasting to new London adventures and hanging out with the people that put up with me I rather love.

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

22 January 2015

Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

You know that thing parents where are encouraged to introduce their children to studying foreign languages are youngsters - their minds are like sponges, they aren't jaded by the pressures of the world and learning is fun. Well, brunch is the language I learnt as a young, fresh out of High School student skidding along the pavements of Wellington.

Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
Brunch at Fidels with the lovely, just returned Jenna
I was young, I was poor and boy, was I impressionable. Luckily, and much to my parents relief it wasn't drink (even though I worked in a pub), drugs (the hardest thing us architecture students took was caffeine tablets to keep up all night to get the work done and attempt to get creative juices flowing) or the fire poi dancing I spasmodically did (on weekend evenings when I definitely should have been sleeping). 

20 January 2015

Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo - an experience I'll never forget

A week or so ago I posted about a Eureka moment I had about becoming a tourist in your own hometown. Basically, it occurred to me that once leaving my home country all I could think about was travelling to see the world, explore new cultures & experience the unique and infamous *activities* of the exotic, unfamiliar cities we come across. It's taken a few years to occur to me, but how often do we travel-lusting lot sit back and explore our own hometown backyard?

Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
A faux Kiwi egg!
With this in mind, a 101 in 1001 goal list swiftly nearing to completion date and an afternoon pootling around Wellington, I utilized my mate Google Search and stumbled upon something amazing. 

19 January 2015

Wellington, New Zealand and the siren call of home to a longterm expat

It had been too long since I'd been home. Home (New Zealand) that is, rather than Home (London). Four years of adventuring on the high seas, fitting long haul trips into annual leave allowances and using Skype as a crutch to replace hugs were my main excuses (and the fact that travelling to the other side of the world can leave a serious dent in your bank balance).

This was until a surprise call featured a sonogram and I found out that the ripe old age of ....(hah, that's a state secret...) that I was going to be a proud Aunty. Confession time: I'm not particularly maternal myself; call it being selfish, call it having an unusual childhood, call it a lack of weird hormones bouncing around, whatever, it's not in our life plans at the moment (or ever) but I surprised even myself by becoming incredibly homesick.

New Zealand Christmas & New Year - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Homesick enough for my lovely other half to suggest calling off our planned Christmas/New Year break and send me to the other side of the world. 

16 January 2015

Friday figments and photos: A January Edition

These photos beautifully sum up my week of hibernation, living via the medium of blog reminiscing and hanging out with the cat. That's #BlogLife

Friday figments and photos: A January Edition - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Friday figments and photos: A January Edition - Adventures of a London Kiwi

15 January 2015

Hobbiton, the visitor gem of Middle Earth aka New Zealand

The Lord of the Ring movies have a lot to answer for. Sure, it's brought the stunning New Zealand scenery to the world, spawned remote farmyard bonfires where hollywood A-Listers gather to toast hotdogs (true story that, I'm still waiting for my invite) and brought millions of dollars into the New Zealand economy.

Lord of the Rings: Hobbiton, Middle Earth aka Matamata, New Zealand
Samwise's Home
  Lord of the Rings: Hobbiton, Middle Earth aka Matamata, New Zealand

It's also meant that Kiwis have spent years being teased about having hairy feet, jokes involving creepy little dudes who obsess about rings and the threats of Orc-ish behavior at parties (ok, I made that last one up). But let me tell you know, it's not true, and I have the photos to prove it!

14 January 2015

A Kiwi Christmas feat. Mount Maunganui and pies

I can still feel sand between my toes. It's approximately 4°C outside, London is bursting with winter and my tan is fading faster than you can say 'moisturise', but I'm fairly certain I still feel grains of Kiwi sand between my toes (and goodness knows everywhere else). Miniscule grains of New Zealand shorelines that came home with me as a reminder of how crazy I have been to leave summer christmasses behind for so very long.

I'm always asked what Christmas is like at home. Always. It's defintely an expat/first world problem, but now I'm pleased to be able to point enquiries to this photo, and this post. 

This, this is what a New Zealand Christmas looks like (if you're lucky with the weather).

A Kiwi Christmas feat. Mount Maunganui and pies
I also learned about in-fill flashes on the fly - cheers Santa!
New Zealand Christmas & New Year - Adventures of a London Kiwi

I spent Christmas Eve (whilst my family worked) soaking up sunshine on the white and glorious beaches of Mount Maunganui. I pranced among the Pohutukawa blooming fiercely on the coastal path...

13 January 2015

Lemon and Paeroa; the story of a famous New Zealand soft drink (well, world famous in NZ)

*warning* This isn't your average travel post. There aren't a plethora of perfect vistas, beautiful expressed emotions or hot dog legs at the beach (though you'll never get them on this blog bleurgh).

L&P embodies one of the things I love the most about New Zealand. On one level it's a tasty bubbly "Lemon-ish" soft drink that we love to drink on most any refreshment occasion (well, apart from those hard work days where nothing will do but a nice glass of wine). 

On another entirely different level, it's a beverage that used to embody the crazy can-do attitude of a local company with a grass roots mentality. Traditionally made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa, it's sadly now manufactured by multi-national Coca-Cola (cheers Wikipedia!). BUT it's still a loved Kiwana icon, and a mainstay of my childhood.

Lemon and Paeroa; the story of a famous New Zealand soft drink (well, world famous in NZ)

12 January 2015

Auckland, New Zealand - a rather Kiwi Christmas holiday

My Christmas trip home to New Zealand was a rather last minute amazing fortnight that I spent with family and friends. Over the two weeks I traipsed across most of the North Island, and was lucky enough to enjoy 25°C temperatures and sunny blues skies (except for New Years Eve which transpired against a planned bonfire - but hey, it meant that we toasted 2015 in snug and warm inside).

Auckland, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
Auckland, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Most tourist guides / people / recommendations / stories feature the South Island as the place to visit. Well, that's very true - think majestic alpine ranges, breathtaking glaciers, winding roads and a fair few sheep. The North Island comes off as a much poorer relation - if you're thinking of visiting it does have a plethora of secrets to delve, and is worth popped by. Long and thin, much like the rest of New Zealand the landscape is hilly, covered in bush and nowhere is more than 3 hours from a beach.

3 hours from a beach people!

10 January 2015

Long-haul flight survival tips

Everyone has the 'booking 2015 travel' bug. Well, in the last 3 weeks I've spent 50 hours hurtling through the clouds, cruising through 4 hemispheres, over several continents and hours staring at a screen roughly 8inches in diameter. It's the biggest downside to moving to the other side of the world - having to travel 20,000km to get a slice of your Dad's Bacon and Egg Pie. True story that. (Strangely all that flying hasn't curbed my wanderlust, just made it more ravenous...)

My flights this time were 7 hours London-Dubai, 13.5 hours Dubai-Brisbane then 3 hours Brisbane-Auckland. It wasn't a lot of fun but also strangely meditative. Living in the crazyness that is London, it's not often that I just get to sit down, (in fact I'm pretty terrible at sitting still) zone out and read my book, so the flights were in some ways kinda awesome.

What to do on a long-haul flight - Adventures of a London Kiwi

I took a bit of a strange view hopping on the flight to New Zealand straight after work, working on the assumption that I'd be so exhausted that I'd manage to grab a few winks here and there. It also meant that I didn't stay awake the night before fretting about the flight and sleeping through my alarm. Stopping off to quickly shower (a life saver) I cruised out to Heathrow and began to make my way home.

9 January 2015

Friday figments and photos

A fortnight of celebrating Christmas and New Years in New Zealand was unspeakably wonderful. Going from 6°C to 24°C sunshine, getting innumerable hugs from family and breaking bread with good friends helped heal a hole I didn't even realise I had.

New Zealand Christmas & New Year - Adventures of a London Kiwi
New Zealand Christmas & New Year - Adventures of a London Kiwi

8 January 2015

Being a tourist in my own hometown

Travelling the length of New Zealand's North Island this Christmas (more to follow next week), it occurred to me that once leaving my home country all I could think about was travelling to see the world, explore new cultures & experience the unique and infamous *activities* of the exotic, unfamiliar cities we come across. It's taken a few years to occur to me, but how often do we travel-lusting lot sit back and explore our own hometown backyard?

I don't necessarily mean watching the weeds wave gently from the manicured back lawn (weeds are the only plant I have managed to grow well bar grass and a rather determined rose bush), but actually loving the city where you work, the village that you live in or the region you hearken from. I've also had a few of my friends tiptoe home lately from their crazy London lives to be with their much missed families, and lament how they feel that they will become stuck. 

It is hard. How do you view roads that you've travelled for umpteen years with any excitement? Paths that you know exactly where they end. Sights that only a tourist could love... oh wait...!

Road trip: Castle hunting: Gloucestershire princesses for the night - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Well, arriving on New Zealand soil with a few sunny days to keep myself entertained I found myself deploying a few of the travel skills I've learned over the years, much to my surprise.

Asking Twitter natives for recommendations, running through tourist board websites, Googling the phrase "things to do in xxxx" and flicking through Pinterest.

Signing up to local council newsletters, searching local hashtags, wandering into a nearby tourist information center and seeking out delicious new places to try delicacies like the ever questing sweet tooth of Kelly.

Walking that path I've always meant to take (and turn cartwheels like Amanda).

Treating ourselves to a glass of wine in a local hotel with an amazing view.

Getting out and about Erin-style.

Having an insatiable curiosity.

Driving home in the evenings keeping my eyes peeled - in the UK & NZ watching for brown roadsigns and historic home hunting like Dannielle.

Organise a picnic with friends in an unusual location.

I swiftly went from acting like a bored local to skidding about as an excitable tourist - and adventuring in a town or two that I thought I knew altogether too well to explore. I managed to wise up and live up to the nom de plume 'Adventures of a London Kiwi' better than I expected. There's many an adventure to feature next week; feeding lions, paddling with penguins, walking windswept Wellington, exploring MiddleEarth like a Hobbit and spending hours blowing raspberries onto the belly of my baby nephew. You could say that it was a pretty enjoyable holiday...

7 January 2015

Lantana; brunch, the London version of the Bermuda triangle and a few Kiwis

Brunching is one of my favourite past times. Laughing with good people over a lingering Flat White and nibbling at a luxuriously delicious concoction at a civilised time of the weekend morning. What more could you wish for indeed?

Meeting with the kiwi brunch posse for one last hurrah before spreading to the four winds that we call the Christmas season, we decided a suitably antipodean send off at Lantana in Shoreditch was called for. Only a stone's throw from my perennial favourite Ozone (though their wicked hashcake eggs Benedict plates are getting noticeably smaller over time) Lantana is found just a minutes walk from London's circumrotatory bermuda triangle - the Old Street roundabout.

6 January 2015

End of Year Book Survey – 2014 Edition

In the spirit of the New Year, I couldn't resist repeating this post from last year when I spied it on Bailie's blog. As she's got such great taste I couldn't hold out from borrowing her version of the end of year book survey. Actually, it's partially her fault I have so many books...

PS: Amazon are doing LOADS of sale books, both kindle and proper at the moment so if you enjoy reading, go nuts. I won't tell anyone if you don't tell my husband that I'm doing the same...

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Like last year I actually can't pick this. Call me a coward, but I read so many wonderful books that shared "...years of writing, experience and the author's deep desire to put a portion of themselves plus the aspects of humanity they admire, hate, aspire to, condemn, onto paper or a screen." +denise greenwood

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
A curious history of food & drink, Ian Crofton. Ever wondered where noodles came from? How Worcester Sauce was invented? Or even who the 'Cucumber King of Burma' was? I did. The book was good, but it didn't blow my socks off.

5 January 2015

New Year goals, resolutions & updates

Sigh, the first day back at the grind after the joy of Christmas & New Year festivities. Yep, it's definitely a set of first world problems, but it's this time of year when resolutions are made (to be kept for a few weeks then forgotten), the year past is mourned and plans are beginning to be made for the next 12 months.

I don't make resolutions as a rule (rebel that I am) but I've decided to set a few loose goals.

1 January 2015

2015 Travel Wishlist - Travel Linkup

We can't quite believe it - this January linkup post will mark a whole year of amazing stories, beautiful images and fantastic bloggers all joining in this wee linkup.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We thought we would usher in the New Year with thoughts of adventure, exploration and amazing new horizons; Travel wishlists for the year ahead. As this is published I'll be starting the year off in my home country New Zealand; hopefully settled comfortably on a sofa with my Brother and new Nephew. They say that the first hour you spend in a year will auger the rest (in 2013 it began on the Southbank, and 2012 we were drinking celebratory Sake in Japan) so mine will hopefully be with full of friends, family and adventuring (with a flat white hopefully clutched in my hand at some point). 

2014 was simply an incredible year - we saw the Northern Lights Dance in Norway, ate Brownies in Amsterdam, sampled genuine Belgian chocolate, kissed the Blarney Stone, explored London Lavender fields and felt the sun warm our bones on the English seaside. Not too shabby really.

As we're already planning on another trip to the other side of the world in 2015 for a huge family Christmas, tiki-touring through the South Island and eating a few pies; the rest of our trips are likely to be shorter-haul, longish weekends. We'll see what we manage to pull out of the hat!

I would love to;

Watch the sun set over Santorini and Athens whilst sipping a cheeky ouzo
Athens, Greece - Courtesy of Kelly - Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
 Cross St Michael's Mount in Cornwall and see what all of the scone fuss is about
St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall
St Michael's Mount, Cornwall - Courtesy of Sarah - The lovely WanderBlogger
Explore the cliffside townships of Budapest and indulge a little
budapest at night time (2)
Budapest, Hungary - Courtesy of Kelly - Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
 Saunter through the snowy Scottish Highlands and sip their exceptional Scotch
DSC01032 1024x768 Runawaykiwi invades a castle, chats with a deer and finds a loch or two, Kiwi Expat In London
The Scottish Highlands - Courtesy of Rebecca - Runaway Kiwi
Explore a few more Scandanavian sunrises and ryvita breakfasts
Tromso, North Norway - Wanderlust Travel Adventures of a London Kiwi

...experience the delights of Abu Dhabi and maybe another road trip or three around Britain with some of the craziest Kiwis I know. I can't wait to see what the New Year brings!