30 November 2015

10 things I have to do in Winter - Festive travel linkup

London is simply built for winter sunshine, incipient precipitation and afternoons lazing by a pub fire and when it come to festivities, London celebrates Christmas wonderfully. December is encrusted with beautiful street light displays, pine bough covered store fronts, carollers echoing on train station platforms and the smell of mulled wine seductively wafting from open pub doors full of chatter.

These are a few of my favourite winter things.. (2014 here) WARNING: Contains many jolly, festive and delicious cliches.

10 things I have to do in Winter


1. Snuggle. Cat, book, blanket, terrible weather outside, cosy socks, festive scarf, lurid Christmas jumper. Perfection. 

2. MULL ALL THE THINGS. Cider, wine, cranberry, cocktails, the cat – no wait, that’s going too far. She just needs her Santa hat. Bonus item: Eat (sweet) mince pies for breakfast at least once. Ok, maybe twice.

28 November 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

Nominated by the lovely, lovely Anna at Travel with Penelope and Parker (aka she of the sailing and luxury soap addiction) I dutifully accept the mantle of Sisterhood of the World Bloggers, before passing the torch onto a new set of blogging addicts...

Where is your all-time favourite destination?
I can’t pick one, I just can’t. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite flavour, I mean varietal of wine *gets posh vocab back on*. There are so many moments that I’ve loved that I’m not sure about picking just one. Is that a cop out? Probably yes. Ok, so maybe Japan, it blew our tiny Western mindsets. Everything was simply so different - sunset glinting from the summit of Mt Fuji, sushi in Tokyo, New Year in Kyoto, modern vs. tradition in Nara, and hauntingly sad Hiroshima. All beautiful and fascinating.


Which post are you most proud of?
It’s a tie between flying across Wembley Stadium Pitch on a zipwire because I was terrified – so scared I couldn’t speak and had to be pushed off; and driving in America – aside from asking my friend to ease the parked car out from between two cherry red mustangs, I somehow managed to cope as an inexperienced driver with left-hand roads, turning right on a red light and a session of monsoon rain. The one I tell people about the most is herding sheep across London Bridge or attending a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. (See what I mean about being indecisive?)

27 November 2015

Friday figments and photos: Silly season v.1

The silly season is here. It's the last full weekend of November, the Christmas lights are twinkling, everyone is in a party mood, the bubbly is flowing a little too well, we're all getting merry and thank goodness coffee is in our cups.

Adventures of a London Kiwi Friday figments and photos

25 November 2015

Lisbon, via the medium of fork

Is it possible to summarise a city by the local dishes alone? Is it possible to go on a historical journey by fork?

Where to eat in Lisbon Mercado de Ribeira

23 November 2015

10 things to do on a Lisbon city break

I'm sitting here on my couch, tea in hand, watching the weather warily as snow has been forecast in London. Snow. In late November. Luckily, I have around 15 billion scarves, a coat as cozy as a duvet and the accumulated commuter knowledge of dashing from pillar to post as quickly as humanly possible in 3°C temperatures.

But, only a week ago I was standing in the sun-dappled Rossio square of Lisbon, wearing sandals, t-skirt and beach skirt, marvelling at 22°C clear blue skies and planning a long-weekend of mischief. Well, I say planning, but it's a lie really. Normally I'm a research addicted nano-planner, but this trip was different - I booked the break last minute, asked around a few travel addicted friends and scanned Pinterest idly on the way to the airport.

The question in a new location as ever is what to do...

Things to do in Lisbon - Alfama neighbourhood

1. Jump in the 28 tram with every other tourist in the city. The views over the Alfama neighbourhood are worth it (and the sheer joy of cheeky locals hitching a ride on the outside of the tram hilarious). Just watch your pockets...

20 November 2015

A festive beauty hamper giveaway: NOW CLOSED

So, the one and only Miss Rhyme and Ribbons and I have been a-scheming and a-planning, and with the dawn of the party season, decided to pool (her) knowledge of beauteous party products to say thank you for reading our little corners of the t'internet.

As it's getting into full swing party season, we thought a slightly more fashionable bent (I've assembled a few foodie hampers in the past) could be fun and maybe this tomboy will learn something in the process. We've compiled a hamper of skin goodies, eyeshadows, Moroccan argan soap, lip tints, lotions, glitter falsies, luminizers, lipsticks, mini-scents, lash treatments, topping it off with a beautiful scarf and a few bath cure-alls for the morning after the night before.

Fashion and makeup giveaway
*There's more than this FYI*

Friday figments and photos: Tiles, sunsets, cocktails and festivities.

Escaping the dreary London November for a last scrap of sunshine, a long weekend in Lisbon was just what the doctor ordered...

 Things to do in Lisbon Adventures of a London Kiwi

Things to do in Lisbon Adventures of a London Kiwi

...before returning to a spritz of London winter.

18 November 2015

A Cranberry and Clementine Margarita Recipe

I began writing this post as an ode to childhood. The joy in family cookbooks - dimpled, slightly messy and full of annotations, collections of delicious recipes ripped lovingly out of glossy magazines and family recipes passed down by taste and then word of mouth. I still have mine - a rulered school book crowded with delicious images, the offline Pinterest board of a schoolgirl 15 years ago.

Along with my Mum's favourite dishes, this little book was a playground of inspiration that was pulled out on rainy days and holidays, especially during the festive season where rich, naughty dishes were especially welcomed. Then, as I was drafting my story this weekend happened. The world has been reminded that we live in an often scary place and we should treasure laughing over old anecdotes with our loved ones, make more memories and let go of the inconsequential times. Squabbling over cracker winners, debating dishwashing duties and cleaning our pans crusted with flavour - those inconsequential dramas that can loom large during the holidays.

 
Instead, string up those fairy lights, relish favourite flavour combinations, mull all the things and nibble another naughty taste of orange chocolate. They are my favourite tastes of Christmas and I plan to share a new one this year with my family, a glass or two of Cranberry and Clementine Margaritas, kindly taught to us by the Waitrose cookery school.

Disclaimer: We were invited for a night of festivities, Michelin starred canapes, wine stories from our host Philip Schofield(!), beautifully carved Turkey and a touch of dessert creation but all opinions are my own as ever.

16 November 2015

Why?

Why is it always the innocent that suffer?

Why do families have to mourn the untimely losses of their loved ones?

Why can't we live in a world free of hate, injustice, prejudice and extreme poverty supplying extreme wealth?

Why do we still live in a world where floating over the ocean in a plastic dinghy or scrambling through hundreds of miles of unforgiving countryside is a better alternative than staying in an ancestral home?

Why were locals kindly opening their homes to terrified strangers?

Why are there families having to deal with earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis wreaking havoc?

Why did facebook have to deploy the 'xxx is safe' widget to assure families?


Why don't words always work?

Why do we have to learn in aghast horror about depravities caused so often they no longer make the news?

Why in these years of technological advances and education are diseases still ravaging communities?

Why do we feel the need to clutch our loved ones even closer at certain times than others?

Why are images of injured & distressed victims used to sell tabloid columns?

Why aren't there more, simple answers?

WHY?

It just doesn't make sense.

But, we won't let circumstances win.

*I've disabled comments as they don't seem appropriate*

13 November 2015

Friday figments and photos: Settling into winter

The glorious heydays of autumn glory now seem now behind us. Fleeting, fantastic and a swift flurry of leaves caught in ice sharp winter winds.

Darn clocks going back, I mean honestly! I was just beginning to really enjoy the beautiful light of autumn sunrises and sunsets. What ever can you do?

Philip Schofield Waitrose #makeschristmas

Well, make cocktails with Philip Schofield & the Waitrose crew (more to come on this don't worry)...

Philip Schofield Waitrose #makeschristmas

Admire the beautiful Fortnum & Mason decorations to get in the festive mood...

Fortnum & Mason Christmas

Spot a kiwi link or two in Mahiki...

Mahiki Celebrity spotting

Mahiki Celebrity spotting

Stop your friend in the middle of the road to take photos...

Aiweiwei Royal Academy exhibit

...of course! How about you?

11 November 2015

101 in 1001 goals v2.0 - Update

A fair few days have passed already since I began another crazy set of goal challenges. Since then I've unexpectedly been to the other side of the world, sung folksongs on the shores of Skye, discovered a new London nook or two, visited (Northern) Africa, read too many books, procrastinated about almost everything and make a load of promises to myself to achieve all of my goals this time.

101 in 1001 goal list v2.0 Adventures of a London Kiwi


This list seems to have started off with a hiss and a roar, managing to hammer out 15 completed goals and start around 10 more - but there is still much, much work to be getting on with before my self-imposed end date of the 02/12/2017.

 45: Find Nessie
47: Sip Scotch in it's birthplace. 
50: Promenade at Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle)


66: Wear a different outfit everyday for a month without doubling up.
70: Post a 'thinking of you' parcel. 
73: Sing in public, sober.
77: Throw another fundraising afternoon tea.
The most surprising on all that list has to have been swimming 50 lengths. We were a bit worried about the political situation in Marrakesh when we visited (shortly after the incident in Tunisia) and opted to chill out in our hotel for one of the days instead. Cue us popping down to the spa for a couple of cheeky beauty treatments, and then a few laps of the pool to ward off those fidgets. Much to the amusement of the rest of the poolside inhabitants, a few laps turned into 10, then 25 then with a short rest, 50.


Of the goals in progress so far there are a few long term ones I'm pleased to have begun...

1: Cross the globe 3 times in a single year. - in progress
6: Visit Africa & South America to complete our continents clutch. - in progress
14: Visit 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (Westminster Abbey, Maritime Greenwich /5) - in progress
15: Ride a Camel. - in progress
 49: Eat another 3 food items in their namesake home (Sandwich 1/3) - in progress
83: Walk 10,000 steps a day for 3 months. - in progress 
87: Leave 25 more Operation Beautiful notes. (1/25) - in progress
90: Keep blogging & writing creatively. - in progress
101: Complete my 101 in 1001 page/countdown. - in progress

There are a few that have sadly had to go by the wayside or be updated because they are unattainable due to the ebb and flow of life - but you gotta walk the journey! (To see the full 101 list click here)

But there is still much, much work to be done and many adventures to plan... 

Tally ho!!

101 in 1001 goal list v2.0 Adventures of a London Kiwi

Do you prefer short or long term goals?

9 November 2015

Puccini's La Boheme - A Night At The London Opera

We entered the red swathed theatre with unsure steps. Glass of emergency wine clutched in one hand, a copy of the programme in the other, we made our way along the dress circle to our seats, settling nicely in time for the lights to slowly dim and the curtain to raise. The orchestra struck up the first haunting motifs that would continue through the evening, and the stage lit up to reveal a rather square, boxy, multi-leveled apartment.

Before we know it the first Act - where Mimi, a hardworking seamstress, introduces herself to the rambunctious group of artists living above her flat and begins to fall in love with the charismatic Rodolpho - is over and my friend and I turn to each other in surprise. I find myself wiping away tears, clearly lost in the spell woven by the orchestra and soaring, emotive arias telling the story of one of Puccini's most popular works, and my friend is similarly lost for words (which is incredibly rare!). As the tale continues, we're both a little puzzled at times with the incredibly modern setting and not knowing the story-line a little lost in sections despite the use of English throughout, but we persevere.

The ornate Coliseum (credit)

7 November 2015

Chateau Pape Clement - a dream experience in Bordeaux, France

We wove our way through the streets of Bordeaux, beginning in the Medieval Quarter all carved in butter stone, glimpsed occasional hard modern buildings which turned to suburban homes before giving way to rolling fields of blooming crops. As we turned the corner onto our destination, I excitedly clutched the boy as fields of vineyards heavy with grapes came into view, cart horses grazed contentedly and the crenelated Chateau Pape Clement appeared - our home for the night.

A wonderfully surreal chain of events - a Shoreditch evening where I asked a wine-loving francophile friend of mine for Bordeaux recommendations - turned into a invite to explore and stay in a genuine French Chateau complete with acres of vineyards.

 Chateau Pape Clement - a dream experience in Bordeaux

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Chateau Pape Clement for the evening, 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 would quite love to move in there...

Chateau Pape Clement - a dream experience in Bordeaux

6 November 2015

Friday figments and photos: The autumn leaves edition

*Warning: Post may contain gin, inkle-weavers, crystal-clear streams, a stag on a roof, loadsa leaves, 15 minutes of fame, Hampshire countryside and silk*

Hampshire rambles Adventures of a London Kiwi

Hampshire rambles Adventures of a London Kiwi

4 November 2015

Fera, Claridges and a wedding anniversary celebration

Psychologists call it the seven year itch - the point in marriage when you've been together for (unsurprisingly) seven years and everything is meant to go downhill. Somehow we've made it to this awkwardly named milestone - how we've managed to rub along for so long with all the indignities a blog/expat/cat-hosting husband has to endure I don't know, but luckily he puts up with me.

And that's inspite of the rugby supporting, eye-rolling, distracted evenings, lack of domestic ability, teasing, occasional calling his homeland rubbish (but only on really bad commuting days - the rest of the year I adore it I swear), getting dragged around the globe, so called "terrible taste in music" and a complete lack of tea making skill.

Fera Claridges restaurant review

Restaurant review Fera Claridge's


The boy is a keeper.

1 November 2015

Travel and a few of my favourite things - November Travel Linkup

What is it about travel that empassions people? The spirit of wandering that powers part of our personalities, craving exploration, curiosity fulfillment and is always searching for something.

It is the people the around us who inspire insatiable wanderlust? Is it a generation X YZ symptom of too much Hollywood? Do action heroes dashing off around the world give us the ideas that anything is possible with a little planning?

Travel and a few of my favourite things - November Travel Linkup

In the oft misquoted words of Mr T, Travel. Huh. What it is a good for? Absolutely everything.