31 July 2015

Friday figments and photos

When I catch up with friends (and firneds as my fumbling typing fingers drafted), they often ask me "have you been up to much lately?" You know, normal questions, but I always find myself with a blank expression.

"Ah, yeah, well, you know..." *Fumbles in handbag for phone to check Friday blogposts or instagram roll*

Is this old age already?

29 July 2015

Elegance & Italian flavour - Avista Restaurant Review

Nestled on the south edge of Grosvenor Square, Avista Restaurant has an impressive Mayfair facade but a kitchen full of incredible Italian flavour. In my travels I've learned that Avista is derived from the root word "vista," meaning a "distant view or perspective; an extensive mental view as over a stretch of time or a series of events." In Italian, it translates directly to 'at sight' and I can definitely confirm that I'm ever so slightly in love, even from the first sip.

Avista Restaurant Review Mayfair London

Shaking off a wet week and handing our coats to the smiling staff, our Italian feast began beautifully with a glass of bubbles - as the best things often do in a 4-star hotel - and a selection of aperitifs. Savoury meringues sandwiched cheekily with a lightly creamed goat's cheese, an intriguing whisper of crackle that I thoroughly enjoyed crunching and slivers of aubergine air dried with honey that melted on the tongue.

27 July 2015

A cure for London-itis; stop, breathe and Listen

I think I have an adventure itch. Our generation always seem to be chasing the end of a rainbow, whether it be travel, career, relationship or that one perfect meal. Maybe it's because our heads have been filled with the dreams of Hollywood; an idealised cornucopia of a world where you can have everything; glamour, stability and dahling ah-mazing cultural experiences.

I think I've been experiencing the hangry equivalent of being cooped up. It's been six weeks since our last slightly madcap adventure in New Zealand and Los Angeles but despite a couple of day trips out of London, we haven't yet got any longer time fun inked in the diary. It isn't for want of thinking and planning, but simply pushing that 'go' key. Really, it is ridiculous - see what I mean about our generation? Enough isn't as good as a feast.

It could also be a touch of London-itis. Every so often the busyness becomes too much, the fast pace machinations becomes soul-sapping and the culture a tough egg to crack. This happens sometimes living in the fastest old city in the world, and based on years of expat life all we need is a day or two to listen to a brook bubbling contentedly, a moment of soul quiet seated on a country church stone pew or an afternoon lazing in the sunshine.

25 July 2015

5 Day trips from Christchurch, New Zealand

Once you have had your fill of exploring Christchurch (and drinking the cracking coffee) there are 5 places you have to make a day trip of whilst at the tip of the South Island.

Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

Crowning the list is one of the top railway journeys in the world - the Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

24 July 2015

Late July: Friday figments and photos

Busy, busy, busy. This week has simply been a cornucopia of busy deliciousness.

22 July 2015

The highs and lows of a Blog addict.

Blogging sucks.

You work away behind a keyboard for hours editing, drafting, doubting and when you can, promoting. Every spare moment seems to be spent dreaming up ideas, scheming expeditions for the next post, drooling over instagram, catching snippets of phrases just as you slip into sleep, taking photos from every single angle possible, catching miffed expressions from dining companions watching their meals cool and creates competitive streaks that often can't be helped.

But the biggest killer of all? Blog Guilt. Totally deserving the sentence caps, it is the guilt of missing a post, not doing something well enough, not capturing *that* shot well enough, self doubt, envy and letting life get in the way of drafting up the image of ourselves we want to present to the world.

For fun. We do this for fun. (Well, the majority of us any way - there are a few incredibly brave bloggers who have taken a dive into the full time uncertainty of professional writing). And yet, it's the best hobby ever.

20 July 2015

10 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch broke our hearts. 4 years after the 2011 6.3 magnitute earthquake, there are still families affected by the violent tectonic shaking and insurance companies running out of budget to get them back on their feet. Every where you walk through the quiet city there are reminders of the devastation – a half standing Cathedral surrounded by fallen masonry, orange construction cones barring entry and staircases leading to nowhere.

On the flipside, the ‘number-8’ wire sensibility – the particularity Kiwi knack for making do and succeeding with whatever is to hand (and if you’re a farmer it’s usually 8-gauge fencing wire) – is everywhere. Take the surprisingly beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, the stunning murals painted on the exposed walls of buildings, wire fences set with colourful patterning and the ReStart mall made from shipping containers.

10 things to do in Christchurch New Zealand

Most tourists use Christchurch as a journey point to the rest of the South Island – somewhere to collect a rental car, as a relaxing day in-between rushing from mud geysers in the North to glaciers in the South and a place to stock up on supplies for extended roadtrips down the wild, winding West Coast.

18 July 2015

Half of July: Friday Figments, photos and a #travellinkup topic

Coming out of June, I sent myself into a touch of self-imposed exile. Enjoying quiet nights on the couch, catching up on movies, reading a few favourite books, dreaming up and organizing a few future adventures. Plus getting that pesky wifi connection fixed.

Lasted all of two days (I always was a fidgeter) the exile morphed into a cornucopia of travel envy, cocktails in summer sunshine, catching up with good friends and laughter, immersive theatre experiences, dreamy dates with my much suffering husband and drinking on the Underground (well, sorta).

London, summer is yours.

Heartbreak Hotel Immersive Theatre Greenwich

Pirate adventures upon the Thames...

15 July 2015

Cahoots, an Underground Cocktail bar

Shrouded in mystery and 1940s glamour, a new stop on the London Underground has quietly opened up. It's not somewhere that will get your from A to B, but rather provides a place to spend those "tube minutes" (commuters will know the ones I mean - they say 'next train in 3 minutes' but actually take 12 hours to arrive - well, that's how it can feel when you're running late).

Cahoots, an Underground London Cocktail bar

Cahoots, an Underground London Cocktail bar

We booked our table at Cahoots with the idea of having a transport dork date night with my Mr Kiwi, and it didn't disappoint. With pages of delicious sounding cocktails (it took me an age and a shared tin of popcorn to select the brilliantly named Ducky Shincracker) there seems to be something for literally everyone one - including a few Land Girl themed drinks featuring peas and carrots.

13 July 2015

Sailing on the tempestuous Thames

We were 15 minutes away from raising the Jolly Roger and boarding the nearest vessel in search of sustenance. We had ripped the captains hat from our stalwart leader sat mid-ship, sent our onboard (motorcycle) mechanic into the bowels of the engine to declare the boat a dead duck, pillaged the galley mess – only managing to round up a dozen bottles of water, one of the onboard damsels had rent her dress in distress (and thanks to an scurrilous bolt) and the shipmates were roaring in merriment.

Just "another" London weekend.

 Things to do in the UK: take a boat ride along the Thames River

Having mentally prepared for a quiet Saturday on the outskirts of suburban London (the plan was to tick off one of our Pinterest board ‘London to-do’ items), a friend called pre-breakfast who had decided it was perfect weather for cruising along the Thames and embarking for a waterside pub grub lunch mid-journey. Luckily he wasn’t calling just to tease, and had reserved a couple of spare berths for us landlubbers on his seaworthy steed and would meet us at dockside in a couple of hours.

11 July 2015

New Zealand, Lord of the Rings and confessions of a guilty expat

The most I had ever seen of New Zealand’s South Island was in Lord of the Rings movies. There, I said it, my guilty secret.

For all the world that I’ve been lucky enough to travel, I’ve carried a skeleton in my travel wishlist with me that made me ashamed to call myself a New Zealander. Most Brits that I’ve met remark on how Kiwis and Aussies on their OE have explored more of the UK in their (usually) 2 years, than the Brits have in their entire lives. It’s the hometown tourist enigma – why would you want to travel there when it will always be there, right?

Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
Pastoral farmland...
Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
...to alpine mountain ranges...
Well, New Zealand has two main islands (not to mention a few smaller, isolated ones). I grew up in the North Island - as an ex-navy kid we lived in a few towns – I guess you could say I was raised with travel in the blood. But, despite living for a stint in Wellington, our capital city at the end of the North Island and only a short ferry to the South, I had never bridged the gap between the two.

10 July 2015

10 reasons why I adore London - Friday figments and photos flashback

< Insert normal Friday figments and photos post here >

Well, we're having a few internet issues at the London Kiwi casa, but otherwise life is pretty delicious at the moment. The sun is shining without an insane fierceness, the London transport scene is back to normal today, it's traditional Friday breakfasts all round and we've spent the week enjoying a few cocktails.

Picadilly Circus Friday figments and photos Adventures of a London Kiw

Last night I was asked why I moved from the idylls of New Zealand to London and how I've been here for so long, I could only reply that it's because of a plethora of slight insane happenings that could only happen on the other side of the world from my birthplace.

8 July 2015

Betwixt brunch & tea; Blixen and The Townhouse, Shoreditch London

London’s East End is so up and coming sometimes it can make your teeth hurt. Bearded hipsters with rolled up jeans cuffs, and fashionistas wearing black hoodies with gold lace trim. Microbreweries reviving the old-fashioned flavour of beer, gin-temples opening for office bods to worship at a glass high-altar and sky-rocketing house prices pushing cockney families and their breakfast eels to the edge of town.

Though, it is revitalising a corner of London that could have been left to rot; a community stuck between the silver sky rises of the financial district and the plush suburbs of the circle line bubble. But hey, who needs to read a history lesson from the eyes of an import (that would be me) when there’s important matters at hand, namely brunch, coffee and cake.

 Blixen brunch restaurant Shoreditch London

Lately there have been two haunts catching our attention; one brand new and shiny, one older than the cobblestones. Together they perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Spitalfields. Well, in my humble opinion anyway…

6 July 2015

I wish...

"We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." Louisa May Alcott

... I was braver ...

... Spelling 'ingredients' and 'mischief' correctly would nestle unconsciously in my mental dictionary. (thank goodness for spellcheck in the meantime) ...

... Mondays wouldn't loom so awfully on a Sunday evening, though I know by Monday lunchtime they seem conquered ...

... Chocolate didn't contain calories ...

4 July 2015

The City of Angels, guitars, beach sidewalks and Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles, the city of angels, thrums with grit, glitz and glamour. Infamous for the celebrities who flock towards the fame-inducing hills (and a magnet for wanna-be actors determined to fill in the hours between waitressing jobs, or so I'm told), we found the streets hummed with music.

Not the tribal sounds of hand drums, the energy of flamenco guitars or dreamy European accordians on a cobbled lane, but a raw rock sound that tantalized my better half and I along the long, long boulevards. Our 3 days of unexpected stop over in LA was surprisingly full of tune.

Santa Monica Pier sunset

3 July 2015

Summer Dayze: Friday figments and photos

London really isn't built for temperatures over 26°C. London is built for winter sunshine, incipient precipitation and autumn days lazing by a pub fire. I have to admit to cowardice this week and becoming hermit-like in front of an air conditioning unit, before scurrying to the nearest next cool point I can find.

36°C on a beach? Delicious. 36°C whilst commuting? Just no.

Summer Dayze: Friday figments and photos

Before the temperatures hit their heights, we accidentally found ourselves in Cambridge over the weekend visiting a few special places to us - including where the Mr proposed...

1 July 2015

What is your travel personality? July Travel Linkup

Pre-internet (yes, there was such a thing) I used to buy glossy pink-hued magazines for one reason, and one reason only - the personality quizzes in the back of the spread. What's Your Party Personality? Which Spice Girl Are You? Which Hogwarts House Are You In? (nb. always pining for Griffindor) Are You In Love? Which Twilight Guy Should You Date?

There was a pleasant moment or two of relaxation taking them, and armed with a pen, secretly knowing which answers would get you the result you were hoping for (though if anyone actually needs the 'Are You In Love', the answers will never be in the back of a glossy with a free lip balm, never). After a few years of this quiet joy, and leaving the nest to travel, I slowly realised that I was literally living the What Kind Of Traveller Are You? quiz, but in real life.

What is your travel personality? July Travel Linkup

It has taken a few years to establish my travel personality and embrace the fact that I am who I am. If I ran those quizzes again, I suspect the following would come up...