30 September 2015

Charing Cross Station + Audrey Hepburn + Afternoon Tea

Did you know that Charing Cross is used to define the centre of London? All those signs that travellers encounter around the world that say "xxx miles to London" point to this station (and more accurately an equestrian statue of Charles I). By that logic, Charing Cross should be infamous, but it seems to be forgotten in the company of Paddington (Bear) Station, King Cross (Platform 9 & 3/4s) Station and Waterloo (hello Abba, you have much to answer for).

Charing Cross Hotel Afternoon Tea London Adventures of a London Kiwi

Over the years that we've passed by and through Charing Cross as we potter around the English countryside, I've often wondered about the building that sits atop the transport heart of London (see what I did there?) Luckily, a couple of weekends ago, the Amba team at Charing Cross hotel invited a few of us blogging reprobates in for an afternoon of sipping champagne and local culture.

28 September 2015

Question Time - a few facts and random queries

Over the years my blog has eventually gotten a little more personal, slightly looser and a touch more daring to use the random thoughts that roll through my never stopping mind. (Sometimes I just wish the rambling thoughts would slow a little, just wander for a minute or two).

Whilst I was puzzling for a post, spotting Kirsty at effortlessly excessive going a little AWOL thanks to a little personal time with a random question generator, I knew it was a sign.

About Me Adventures of a London Kiwi

Have you ever been to the emergency room? What for?
Well, twice with siblings who broke their arms when I babysat them when we were kids (I was oh, 14?) and once for my ownself around 7 weeks before our wedding. We were hosting our friends over for a BBQ, and thanks to a few glasses of wine, a very, very wonky step (which my Dad fixed whilst Mr Kiwi laughed and called me a drunk) and a tile floor. Not a good combination. The physio assured me that if it wasn't off in time for the wedding, they'd re-plaster the cast and draw flowers on it with a sharpie. Luckily, I convinced them to let me have it off a week or so before...

26 September 2015

What to do with a long weekend in Lille, France

We usually avoid travelling on bank holidays like the plague. Extra long queues at airports, super busy UK trains and hiked up prices - bleurgh, we'd rather cruise around London on a self-styled staycation. Check out a few weird gems, stake out a brunch table and possibly catch up on a TV box set or two - that's usually our favorite way to spend 3 days (more often than not with bank holiday rain hosing down).

What to do to in Lille France

However, these August bank holidays, wanderlust got the better of me. With the soles of my shoes itching and my fingers dancing across my keyboard, we decided that a quick trip over the Channel wouldn't be too stressful. Our requirements were simple; sunshine, good beer, a touching of relaxation and a bit of wandering. Thanks to the recommendation of my favourite London tour guide and a little internet magic, Lille was booked in an evening.

25 September 2015

Friday figments and photos #lovelondon

London, the city of a thousand billions interesting places to visit. I've just discovered this post in my drafts, and with sadness realised that I didn't share it. This is pretty indicative of a normal week in the urban jungle that is London...

Luckily, I'm full of a cold this week, so may I present a week or two ago, via the medium of phone photos.

London Adventures of a London Kiwi

23 September 2015

Diner en Blanc London, 2015

Over the years eating has become so much more than just a quick sandwich. From the playtime squidging of food (I still think it tastes better when you play with it first) as a small kid, to modern crazes such as dining in the pitch black and markedly curious surroundings such our gourmet dinner on the tube, there is a real explosion of using all the senses to experience a meal - or is there? Is it all in our heads?

Well, I'm going to tell you a secret, but shhhhh you mustn't tell any one else. A few weeks ago, a veritable swathe of white festooned picnickers met in several pre-arranged and covert rendezvous points around the great city of London. Welcome to Diner en Blanc.

Diner en blanc London, 2015

21 September 2015

What to do on a Marylebone staycation at the Montagu Place Hotel

If Marylebone was a person, I think it would be a wayward, rather eccentric uncle. Clothed in a tweed jacket with elbow patches, a handlebar mustache and pipe hanging from his lips, he would smell faintly of earth and whiskey, tell fantastic tales of otherworldly adventures and always have a smile in his eyes. He would bring quirky, luxury gifts with faraway stories, read newspapers with intensity and then disappear again with a moments notice. He would know all the best places for everything, stride along Marylebone High Street with aplomb and sip black coffee with just a touch of cream (none of those fancy Flat White things).

Why am I blathering on like this? Possibly just because I have a over active imagination, and possibly because it's entirely possible to spot characters just like this whilst frequenting W1. With this in mind, a couple of weeks ago a sunny staycation with a few hours exploring the quirky, quiet Marylebone area was just what the doctor ordered. We awoke late, packed an overnight satchel each, hopped on a train and booked ourselves in to a much needed back massage at the experienced hands of a Marylebone spa. Stretched and soothed into expressions glowing with relaxation, we floated (well, it felt that way) along the road to check-in to the Montagu Place Hotel as our home for the evening.

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Montagu Place Hotel, but my (very many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily revisit - in fact I'd quite like to move in there...

19 September 2015

Visiting Downton Abbey (aka Highclere Castle) - an ultimate England bucket list item

They say never meet your heroes as you'll only be disappointed when their humanity is revealed, but I say ignore that entirely. Sometimes you have to. Sometimes you have to get on that train, walk through those gates and simply revel in the crazy amazingness that is England. Case in point - Downton Abbey. Wait, I mean Highclere Castle...

(At this point you might want to make a cup of tea before the photo overload that was our visit...)

Things to do in England visit Downton Abbey Highclere Castle

One winter evening a few years ago, our Sundays were transformed. We were channel hopping, hoping to find something vaguely decent to while away the last few hours of the weekend. We didn't realise quite how much of an effect that flicking over to the high class shenanigans of the aristocratics Crawley family and the dramatic lives of their servants would have on our winter evenings.

18 September 2015

Friday figments and photos: the offline world

I adore blogging, love it with a fierceness that I can't quite believe sometimes. It's a creative outlet, one that allows for indulgence, mischief, a little bit of chaos now and then & a heck of a lot of adventures (hence my choice of name).

My favorite posts are often these ones - tidbits of the week that was, an online journal of the things that made me smile (one without papercuts!) for those few short days.

Things to do in London Picadilly Circus Adventures of a London Kiwi

This one was remarkable for it's offline nature. Without my phone constantly flashing, I just took a few extra moments to wander. A few moments to linger over a coffee, play permatourist on a London Double Decker, a few more minutes in the sunshine, and just another chapter or two of my book.

16 September 2015

The Tower Hotel (by the Guoman team) and the best dinner view in all of London

Let's be frank - though true of every city - the longer you live in London, the more passe it can sometimes get. Call it old (bowler) hat, but there can come a time where you're in a cab speeding past Big Ben and rather than admiring how stunning Westminster Bridge looks at twilight, all you're thinking is about how late you're going to be...

But, even after all the years of living in London, there is one view that always makes me stop, pause, and love my adopted city - Tower Bridge. Almost sold to Missourian oil magnate Robert McCulloch in 1968 at a cost of US$2.46million (£1.63million), and shipped piece by piece over the ocean (he purchased London Bridge accidentally thinking it was the glorious confection that is Tower Bridge) we're rather lucky to still have one of the prettiest workhorses in the bridge world.

Best dinner view in all of London by the Tower Bridge
Disclaimer: We were invited picnic guests of the Guoman Tower Hotel team, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit and revisit on my own dime. And take all of my family.

We all love to find a secret gem in our homes, something that many people may not know about and something that allows you to polish your tour-guide halo. Well, here is mine. Without fail, if I'm showing people around in London we'll gravitate towards Tower Hill, get the icons and selfies out of the way, then take a chance to rest our pins and pop into the Tower Hotel for a sundowner or two. 

14 September 2015

Traipsing around London's National Gallery of Art

It's easy to take a city for granted. Heck, in the lull between arriving excitedly in the land of tea and scones and blogging taking over my life, London just became somewhere for commuting through. It's easy for the gloss to wear off, and for you to walk past bastions of history with less than a glance.

What to do in London National Gallery of Art

What to do in London National Gallery of Art

On the other hand, once you rekindle that feeling it means you really get to savour a city - take the National Gallery for instance. A grand dame of the London museum and galleries scene, I've popped in once or twice over the years to admire the priceless artworks I had studied second hand via glossy bookpages in New Zealand. The idea that you can simply wander into a beautiful building and study these paintings for hours, for free, still fires my expat heart. What's more, you can delve a little deeper into the history, the stories and the setting for these priceless studies of social history.

11 September 2015

Friday figments and photos

I am bursting with tales to share of the last couple of weeks, and never have enough time to tell them. An idyllic weekend to France, a 1,000 person picnic dressed entirely in white, Downton Abbey blogger antics, a luxurious London staycation, cocktails in a quirky bar - decorations inspired by the John Soane's Museum, sunshine coffees, frustration with my blog images at the moment (sigh), learning about infill flash and frolicking through wildflower meadows.

Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle Adventures of a London Kiwi

Lille France Adventures of a London Kiwi

Lille France Adventures of a London Kiwi
Diner en Blanc Adventures of a London Kiwi
Tower Bridge London Adventures of a London Kiwi

 Marylebone Staycation Adventures of a London Kiwi

Just all the feels.

9 September 2015

How to survive without a smartphone.

With my aforementioned device of all-encompassing life throwing a fit in the cobbled Streets of France last weekend, a week without the world and technology at my pocket has been an interesting exercise of modern life.

Think about it, how long ago was it since you referred to that little black box in your pocket. Hours? Minutes? Seconds? In fact, are you reading this on your phone? See what I mean? I’ve come to realise just how this has taken over my life.

It starts with a series of electronic tones urging me to crack my eyelids open in the morning - several rounds of them if I’m being honest. Then a quick morning peruse of social media and a few cheeky blogposts over breakfast cereal and coffee. Another alarm warns me to leave the house for the commute ahead (accompanied by few giggles at the “Danger Will Robertson, Danger Will Robertson” panic spirit that keeps me organised) where I spend the time dodging internet blackspots and the occasional armpit.

7 September 2015

Why you should visit Eltham Palace

It took a good friend and I more than a year to visit Eltham Palace. Taking into consideration the ease of getting there (there are several central London train stations which serve the 30 minute journey to the Zone 4 Mottingham Station), the Art Deco beauty that Eltham is known for and the curious architectural history of a medieval royal residence, you would think we'd have gotten our act a little more together.

We did try a fair few times but as the Palace opens Sunday-Thursday for a limited few months, we kept ending up in the pub, brunching out of the rain or curled up on our respective couches in defeat. Moral of the story, learn from our mistakes and check the opening times before you set off, ok? (Or as I suspect the social butterfly Courtaulds would approve, just make sure there's a good pub nearby.)

Why you should visit Eltham Palace London Art Deco

First mentioned in the Doomsday book, Eltham Estate was presented to King Edward II in 1305 and developed into one of the most favoured royal palaces with 1,000 acres of deer park on its doorstep.

5 September 2015

The joy of being "A Creative" type

As a paid up member of the worldwide blogger tribe I can only really speak for myself, but I do look at some of the antics we get up to in the name of our favourite hobby and wryly chuckle with a knowing glint in my eye. (As an aside, how on earth do you wryly chuckle?)

romantic picnic flowers, fresh baguette, pate, hummous, er, camera #bloglife strikes again...

Having more energy than a box full of chickens on energy drinks

The hilarious creation of laboured metaphors

Thinking out of the box & having friends side-eye you (the good ones do it with amused love usually)

Thinking too much

Planning a holiday trip schedule based exclusively on Pinterest finds

2 September 2015

Beany Green, Liverpool Street Brunch review

Sometimes all you want to do is spend a morning in the sunshine with a friend. Living in London definitely has downsides, and one of them is most definitely trying to get a girly date in the diary with less than a month's notice. Sometimes, though sometimes you get a hankering for a gossip, the stars align in an incredible way and after an afternoon of messaging, a golden date appears in the diary for a good old catch up.

We then played the inevitable 'what's central to both of us, and where do we fancy' game (bonus points for each additional player you involve) which was surreptitiously solved by the crew at Beany Green inviting us for a sampling of their bottomless brunch in the Broadgate Circus branch. (Try saying that 10 times in a row).

Spoiler, it was amazing and features a Banana Bread tower, read on.

Beany Green, Liverpool Street London Brunch review

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Beany Green, but my (very many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily revisit - in fact I've also frequented their other London branches several times on my own dime.

Tucked unassumingly in a selection of eateries an entire 50 seconds walk from Liverpool Street Station - yes, I timed it - Beany Green is another of those secret discoveries that I never want to share with anyone else (it happened to my Shepherds Bush favourite, and now they have queues out the door sigh). But if I must, this Melbourne-style cafe hidden in a modern edifice is a rather lovely combination of convenient tube line convergence, smiley staff, quirky decor and locality to the creative blogging hipsters of Shoreditch.