29 June 2015

Claridge's Afternoon Tea

Claridge's is simply the epitome of London luxury Afternoon Tea. Every aspect is presented with a grace and style that many hotels attempt to emulate but don't quite achieve - the mark of 150 years of practice.

Luxury Gluten Free Afternoon Tea Claridges

Claridges Afternoon Tea

"Set in the splendour of Thierry Despont’s magnificent Foyer, inspired by the 1930s’ heyday of art deco" the surrounds are beautiful, and nothing quite beats the soft tinkle of tea cups, soft jazz and tea chatter of an afternoon.

27 June 2015

Hotel California, Hollywood, Los Angeles

On a dark desert highway, cold wind in our hair We zipped and threaded our way through a mismatch of traffic. Fashionably sleek convertibles shared the road with dusty pick-up trucks, people-mover mom-mobiles swapped lanes with small busses.

The warm smell of colitas rising up through the air and a dusty, piquant smell whispered through the windows of our ride from Los Angeles airport - we simply couldn't wait to shake off the gross feeling of a 12-hour flight from London.

Hotel California, Hollywood Los Angeles
Apologies for the slightly hazy camera phone photos, holidaying in America has a strange way of losing my camera...every. single. time.

Up ahead in the distance, we saw a shimmering light, our heads grew heavy and our sight grew dim - we had to stop for the night. As we got closer into civilization, the neon lights began to get bigger and brighter in the evening sky, advertising everything in dollars, nickels and dimes, before giving way to Hollywood musical theatre boards.


There she stood in the doorway; I heard the mission bell / And I was thinking to myself, "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell" We tumbled into our LA nest for our short trip, a private Hollywood apartment in the centre of all things tinseltown crazy.

26 June 2015

Friday figments and photos: An ode to the city that stole my heart

Come to think of it, this entire blog is an ode to the magical city I live in. Add a sunshine-filled summer into the mix and how can it be beaten? Slip in a cheeky Pimms (or Vodka, Lime, Lemon & Bitters if it's an antipodean bartender) in an olde-worlde pub, weekday picnic lunches, canal-side wandering, brunches with the girls and historic palaces accidentally stumbled upon and you have a rather fantastic week in the making.

Call me rose-tinted spectacle wearing, but with a touch of canny commuting, planning delicious assignations, luck and making sure there's always something to look forward to, London is my oyster. Even on those nasty Monday mornings where the world seems like it could end...

London Regents Park and why I love it

London Regents Park and why I love it


London Little Venice and why I love it

This is my summer in London, the city that I adore.


24 June 2015

My favourite Summer recipes

It's finally here. With the summer solstice officially declaring the sun season open, my fridge has have been telling us the self same for a good month or so. Our diet has switched from hearty winter stews and roasts, to featherlight meals full of crisp fresh vegetables, ready to eat snackables and the occasional cool treat.

Summer recipes gluten free

Breakfast & Brunch

Guiltless Breakfast Cake
Fat free, sugar free, gluten free (depending on the ingredients you use obviously...). Quick, healthy, easy and fully customisable cake for breakfast perfect with an iced coffee. You're not going to believe me...

Breakfast Cake, Cake for Breakfast Adventures of a London Kiwi

30-second Sunshine Smoothies
Bursting with fresh zingy citrus, these are light, nutritious and scrumptious. Substitute your favourite fruits or whatever you have on hand.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies
When I saw that you can make a smoothie out of pumpkin puree (canned or homemade) I had to get out my smoothie maker and have a try. I made a couple of amendments to it; adding Oats to it to make it into more of a breakfast item, adding more Cinnamon and Nutmeg and substitute ice cubes, as I didn't have any, for frozen Mango Chunks.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies brunch recipe

Sweetcorn Fritters
There is something luscious about the crisp exterior, the soft internal structure then the tidbits of creamed Sweetcorn that make my mouthwater.

Summer brunch recipe sweetcorn fritters

Lunch & Dinner

Especially on lazy weekends, lunch and dinner become hazily interchangeable. Often taken in the sunshine, we decamp to the backyard or our favorite parks armed with a picnic blanket, glass of something crisp wet and cool, and a selection of our favourite cold and hot treats. Our meals usually feature a touch of everything in the fridge, improvised Ploughman's Platters; cheese, pickles, beetroot, salad leaves, dips, cold meat, boiled eggs, vegetable crudite, a couple of slices of quiche and pie, and the odd scotch egg.

Crustless Quiche
This is a quick recipe, great for slimmers, summer picnics, gluten-free bods and, well, me. We love to slice it up and to take it to work for lunch and picnics - much to the envy of my colleagues eating their dry shop-made ham sandwiches.

Healthy summer recipe crustless quiche

Bacon and Egg Pie
One of my childhood loves is Bacon and Egg pie. Oh it is so good. All the stuff that is bad for you: puff pastry, bacon, eggs and tomatoes. Traditionally, I'm told, this is made for farmers to be eaten cold at the back of the farm - it's full of energy giving fats and a slice of a well-cooked pie can be easily held in one hand (much like the crust on Cornish Pasties).

Summer recipe Bacon and Egg Pie

Creamy Pumpkin, Chestnut & Bason Pasta
Perfect for an hot or cold, this dish is quick and light, but refreshing and filling - and not too bad on the calorie front. 

Creamy Pumpkin, Chestnut & Bason Pasta Salad recipe

 BBQ Favourites 

When we're really organised we crank out the BBQ and armed with a few beers we get all prehistoric with good meat covered in all sorts of glazes,  jacket potatoes buried in the coals, coleslaw and a couple of our favourite sides. Speaking of which, the next time you roll out the BBQ - chuck on a couple of halved and seeded capsicums (peppers) - the smoke and heat brings out a wonderful sweetness, and as you sit down to eat your BBQ feast, pop on a couple of honey glazed, halved peaches to cook. They are heavenly served with a scoop of two of ice cream...
 
Stuffed Butternut Squash
The soft sweetness of the pumpkin goes really well with the salty bacon, tomatoes and plum sauce, followed by the crisp cheese & breadcrumbs. Most of the ingredients can be swapped out for what you have on hand or tastes you prefer.

Stuffed Butternut Squash recipe

Mediterranean Vegetable Bake 
Draped in slices of melted halloumi, seasoned with your favourite herbs, and packed full of as many vegetables as you can slip in, it's full of everything that's good.
 
BBQ Recipe Mediterranean Vegetable Bake
Undressed Vege bake, with a corner serving or two of Chicken Breast

Desserts & Afters 

Afghans, Jaffa Slice, Ginger Crunch Slice, Melting Moments and Lolly Cake
My New Zealand childhood summarised in 11 words and a few couple of baking trays...

Sweet slice and biscuite recipes Afghans, Jaffa Slice, Ginger Crunch Slice, Melting Moments and Lolly Cake

Absolutely Guilt Free Ice-Cream
It is simplicity within itself. As with most of my recipes and cooking, it's fully customisable - I'd add bashed fruit (strawberry, kiwifruit, banana, orange, lemon, cherries...) to add a few vitamins, flavourings (I personally love peppermint essence, vanilla, coffee melted in a touch of hot water...) or anything you have in your cupboards (coconut, nuts - though watch your teeth, raisins, smooth peanut butter...) The results are only as limited as your imagination.

Absolutely Guilt Free Ice-Cream recipe
 
Mojitos
Homemade cocktails can be really easy, and really fun to make - Mojitos don't even need a cocktail Shaker. Another bonus is you can personalise them to how you like drinking them; more Lime, less Mint, a touch more Sugar. Summer in a glass...


Mojitos Homemade cocktail recipe 

What are your favourite Summer recipes?

22 June 2015

The truth unveiled about Picadilly Circus, and why we've been telling lies for years

We've all been living a lie about one of the most iconic bastions of London life. Lotharios have used it as an assignation point with their mistresses since the early 1900s, millions of tourists over the years have arranged to meet friends on the steps before they explore the city, and thousands of bloggers have used it to rendezvous for afternoon tea.

Things to see in London Picadilly Circus  - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Eros, the boy statue armed with a bow and arrow, hovers protectively over the bustling heart of Picadilly Circus (or it was until city planners shifted slightly over to make way for traffic lanes to be added to) ready to sink his arrow into any miscreants up to mischief. Soaring a-top the bronze Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, this nubile young god lies in wait for any passerbys and umpteen selfie stick situations.

Eros Picadilly Circus - Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

But we've all been living a lie.

19 June 2015

Friday figments and photos: Summer sunshine edition

London is a city which begs to be explored. Over, and over and over. (That or I'm developing the memory of a goldfish - the jury is out still on that one!)


 

...and a man gave me my very own individually gift-wrapped tomato. Romance is not dead.



17 June 2015

Where to go in Scotland - the best road trip ever

Just go everywhere. Just get in a car, add a bottle or two of wine for an evening, a couple of snacks, good company and a GPS. That's where.

Where to go in Scotland - Skye Road Trip
Where to go in Scotland - Skye Road Trip

You'll discover azure skies bathing in still lochs, fairy cairns balancing on cliffsides, mist draped mountain shoulders, and more castles than you can imagine (which is the best problem in the world).

15 June 2015

Visiting the Imperial War Museum

In London we're truly spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. It's easy to dither over an empty weekend afternoon; do you opt for the quirky design curation of the V&A (one of my all time favourites), time traveling through the Doctor Who Museum, pop in for a cuppa at the most-English of English Tea Museum, wonder at the beauty in the Natural History Museum or perhaps possibly thread your way through the Sewing Machine Museum.

Alternatively do you choose to peruse the origins of Dr Johnson's Dictionaries - the author who fed his faithful cat oysters, explore ancient mysteries of the British Museum, marvel at the medically macabre St Bartholomew's Pathology Museum, smell the daisies in the Garden Museum or simply one of the 190 others not mentioned. And did I mention that most are free entry?

Imperial War Museum London

Imperial War Museum London

The next time, go for a wander around the Imperial War Museum. If you're in any way interested in sleek planes, heartwrenching prisoner of war records, gripping stories, interactive history, thoughtfully juxtaposed exhibitions... you name it, it's there. AND IT'S FREE. The Museum covers conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day.


13 June 2015

Are we currently in the Golden Age of Holidays: Then or Now

Travel in the past seems like it would be a sepia tinted oasis of calm. I imagine lazy sunshine days on the Amalfi coast with a 60s retro glamour (no instagram filters necessary), exploring unspoiled market squares in Marrakesh. Zipping away to three New Year Countdowns in a single international day on Concord, hiking through the Scottish Highlands enjoying the gift of farmhouse hospitality and the refined luxury of 1950s flights attended by dashing air hostesses.

Tirirangi New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

There wouldn't be selfie-stick wielding Tourists periscoping around historic icons, tears due to relying on patchy internet connections for navigation along unfamiliar foreign roads, incorrectly booked hotels (a problem with dates that I somehow seem to wrestle with) or pavement tussles between phone-focussed addicts. There would be less missed connections due to delayed baggage claim time, travel discoveries were truly unique and not trampled by inconsiderate Twitter addicts in pursuit of 'that' photo and there was probably no such thing as souvenir tat. I had honestly never considered it before Expedia posed the question to me in their 'The Golden Age of Holidays: Then or Now' musings.

Piha Beach New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

But think about it I did. Without modern developments, flights wouldn't ever had been as cost-effective and affordable to this minimum-wage pub-working Kiwi when I first got to English shores and it would have been impossible to board a train to Paris just for lunch, returning for a proper British dinner. My parents wouldn't have been as reassured when I moved to the other side of the world without regular video proof that I was whole and hearty, facebook would be missing at least 1,500 photos that my family claim to love seeing, we wouldn't have access to on-the-minute weather updates that would assure us the below mist...

12 June 2015

Friday figments and Photos; The holiday blues edition

We have arrived back to stunning sunshine (with a few disappointing days, but it it isn't raining I'll take it). Fitting back into the normal routine of life has resulted in a few days of holiday blues, several morning coffees in the sunshine and one bout of tummy flu.

The holiday blues Adventures of a London Kiwi

The holiday blues Adventures of a London Kiwi

However, daytime TV has taught me 3 important lessons;

10 June 2015

Wanderings, castles, statues, and a life-size dollhouse - Twickenham, Richmond

As a kid I yearned to join the ranks of Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Basically for those not in the vintage kids book know, they were a gang* of kids that met up & had sorts of jolly adventures in the countryside. No mythological computer games, 3D air sports or imaginary characters who they could abuse online, but the unlimited use of their imaginations and a dog Timmy that got them out of scrapes.

Richmond Twickenham Thames River

Richmond Twickenham Thames River

Rambling through the countryside with a group of mates, a rambunctious pup & a picnic lunch? Done.

8 June 2015

Mad Hatters Tea Party - Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

Afternoon tea in London has become a craze unto itself. It is a perfect excuse to spend an afternoon chatting, catching up, eating delights and sipping beverages of choice. Hoteliers have realised it's a perfect way to entice luxury lovers through their doors without costing an absolute bomb, and bloggers have realised that it is a scrumptious weekend pastime - high-end treats, bubbly and sparkle.

It does mean that the market is a little saturated and personally I love this - there is an afternoon tea for literally everyone - from dainty on-the-hoof treats to extravanganzas you need to book 3 months in advance. As an afternoon tea addict, I often get asked to recommend my favourite tea, but it's an impossible question at times - almost as hard as picking a favourite child.

Mad Hatters Tea Party - Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel
 
So much depends on occasion, location and budget, how do you narrow it down to a single choice? Teas do generally seem to slice into to 3 price-point levels (less than £25, £25-£40 & £40+) and into two categories of design - crazy and traditional. Then, when you add the complication of dietary requirements into the equation life can get pretty interesting.

The Sanderson's Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea settles comfortably at the top of my personal list of mid-priced gluten-free slices of luxury so far and - as it turns out - is perfect for expat farewells and celebrations.

6 June 2015

Fridayish figments and photos: the New Zealand Edition

First things first, I have an apology to make - the #holidayspam got a little intense on instagram whilst I was away in New Zealand. It was just so addicting, and easy whilst on the road! Now, for more spam muhahaha. *ahem*.


Having been home for Christmas for the first time in over four years, returning so quickly was a little surreal to say the least. I still can't understand how I won a return plane ticket to New Zealand with Air New Zealand's 75th birthday celebrations of the London-LA-Auckland route.

Titirangi and Manukau Heads, Auckland, New Zealand
Titirangi and Manukau Heads, Auckland, New Zealand

Nope, I actually still can't believe it either - it cost me £75, yes, £75 to fly home and see my family. The only slight downside was a date restriction that we could fly on, so with a little sweet talking around annual leave we cancelled our planned May bank holiday trip to Switzerland, and began organising a lightening quick excursion to Aoteoroa. (I never, ever, ever win anything, so I'm planning a few several days of volunteering to top up my karma - it has to be empty right now, bone dry!)


4 June 2015

Home.

I adore traveling. Exploring new shores, seeing new sunsets and wandering down new streets.

But, I love love love my home.

Home, London.

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest” 
Robert Montgomery
 
Home, New Zealand.

 
Now, we've just got to get rid of that jetlag that is the downside to having two homes a world apart....

1 June 2015

Souvenirs - Love 'em or hate 'em - June Travel Linkup

It usually seems to be the hour before you're due to come home, that an urge takes over your limbic system and nothing seems more important than capturing one last memory of a trip. As kids were always taught the Forest tramping code; take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints; but all reason seems to leave my head in that last hour or two of visiting a new city. It just seems to become imperative to find a cool reminder of our visit.

When I began travelling, with one suitcase, a carry on bag and a pretty shonky camera, I started collecting postcards. Many of them still grace my kitchen wall, but the good intentions soon gave way to a bad memory and I started on the hard stuff. Actual physical reminders of our trips.

Souvenirs - Love 'em or hate 'em - June Travel Linkup

I say cool but, well, it usually ends up being something cliched, silly and funny. That's the joy of being a tourist in a nutshell. I normally use my family as an excuse (they have had all sorts over the years posted or hand delivered to them 3 years late *see the last item in this post* such as Eiffel Tower shaped bottles of cognac, Singaporean Dragon keychains and a Moroccan Fez).

Oh yes, I just spent a good hour scouring Hollywood Boulevard tourist shops for miniature golden statues. Just for the irony of this bog post *shifty eyes* not because they took my fancy or anything.