29 February 2016

My greatest recent adventure - Solo in Lisbon - March Travel Linkup

The sound of nearby accordion music floated through the warm early evening air. The balcony doors of my hotel room were open, letting in the last of the late summer sunshine lazily reflected off the house tiles across the medieval street. The crunch of biscuits was the only jarring note in this simple scene of Portuguese utopia.

Well, actually, it was one of my favourite dinners of my long weekend in Lisbon. I had visited a few scrumptious restaurants, discovered local delicacies and spent one evening listening to the melodic rhythm of Fat Freddy's Drop Ska, as delicious Banh Mi were devoured. But, a handful of lemon cookies washed down with lemonade whilst relaxing on my bed represented the best of solo travel - exploring all of the places that fascinated me without having to worry about someone else getting bored, and then selfishly eating the ridiculous dinner I fancied.

My greatest recent adventure - solo in Lisbon - March Travel Linkup

Sure, solo female travel seems to have become a buzzword on almost every travel blog under the sun, but it makes my heart happy to see women empowering themselves and taking courage to be independent. Solo travel isn't for everyone for a variety of reasons, but if it's something that interests you, why not follow that path?

27 February 2016

Why on earth do you read Adventures of a London Kiwi?

I have a slightly random (and admittedly slightly narcissistic feeling) couple of questions for you – why on earth do you read my blog? Honestly, I pretty well blog for myself as an online journal of all the pretties, a record of all the things that make me smile – and hopefully you in return - but I do rather find what you find interesting, interesting. Does that make any sense whatsoever? No? Nothing unusual there then… 

26 February 2016

Friday figments and photos: Spring sunrises and sunsets

Are you a sunset or sunrise kind of person? It's a slightly unusual thing to ask I guess, but chatting over hot chocolates and tea the other day with a friend (you know they are keepers when they subsequently suggest a pre-dinner wine & dessert combo) we arrived at the conclusion that it must say something about your personality.

Friday figments and photos: Spring sunrises and sunsets

24 February 2016

Floristry (and afternoon tea) by Lord Hurst, Doncaster Yorkshire

I've spent a lot of time changing trains at Doncaster and hanging out on platforms with hastily snatched coffee watching locomotives roll through this large South Yorkshire market town station. It wasn't until I happened upon a certain (currently) purple haired girl of mischief, one Miss Dannielle of Chicadeedee blogging fame, and was invited to leave said station for an hour or two (ok, actually a house-warming party) that I managed to see a little more than industrial rooftops.

Afternoon Tea Doncaster Yorkshire Lord Hurst Road Trip

Originally a Roman Fort built in the 1st Century AD, Doncaster was built on the riverbanks of the Don, and is known to most English people for the deep seam of coal and heavy industry. Or as my Northerner puts it "those lads are hard men". Because of this when we popped in for afternoon tea at Lord Hursts, found about 10 minutes walk from the train station in a leafy suburb, we were surprised to say the very least.

It is simply like falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Yorkshire-style.

22 February 2016

9 ways to make living in London easier

Over the years I have called London a lot of deserved names. Tempestuous, stunning, old, demanding, fantastic, incorrigible, sassy, boring (which was unfair of me), mischievous, inscrutable, over-the-top, busy, magical and usually wonderfully ridiculous.

You can go to up to Charing Cross for a greasy full English breakfast, over to Paris for lunch and party at the Ritz for dinner. What's more, with only a short hop out of the city, you can sleep in a 14th Century Castle, drink your way around Europe and attempt to find the Loch Ness monster. The flipside is that the UK, and London in particular can be a demanding place to live.

9 ways to make living in London easier

Over the years I've found that the secret to London is accepting that happiness does take work (and occasionally a little luck) and there is one key thing to keep in mind when coming over: you will still probably have to wake up to an alarm and work the daily grind. But if, you are courageous, the benefits can be immense. Why be poor, tired and unhappy in a rural backwater when you can be poor, tired and happy in a City where your potential can be immense?

20 February 2016

A night in Dubai desert luxury

Nestled on a cuccoon of cushions, one hand tucked under my head, the other idly running cool sand through my fingers, the camp settled down. Lights blinked off one by one, leaving only the soft crackle of the fire.

Our hosts for the night quietly left the bedouin camp, one or two slipping into in a nearby tent for company, leaving us to the silence of the desert. The quiet deepened* as our camp mates drifted off to sleep and the stars began to shimmer.

What to do in Dubai desert safari
Snuggling further into my scarf my eyes began to adjust to the glorious canopy overhead. Billions of stars, some shining with fervour, others more shy and quietly glimmering. The few constellations I know began to appear (and the itch to retrieve my slowly flattening phone and download a stargazing app strengthened despite a lack of electrical sockets and wifi connectivity) and the silence grew further.

19 February 2016

Friday figments & photos: Aliens, eggs & cocktails.

I think too much.  I've always found that at the oddest of moments random amusements and phrases will jumble through my head - as much as as I'd really prefer them to settle. I think this is the joy (and impetus) I find in blogging, even all these years later.

Oh, and the brunch. (I had a discussion the other day about brunch vs. breakfast being based on a schedule ie. when it was eaten but I totally disagree. Breakfast is a derivative, generally taken quickly as fuel and alone with a cuppa. Brunch is a more luxurious state of mind, often with good company be it human or book. See, easy).

17 February 2016

A luxurious sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle - best way to start Monday

I finally did it. Hauled myself out of bed before sunrise and breakfasted amongst the amazing views of Duck and Waffle. Not only did I get myself out of bed, but managed to tempt Mr Kiwi along with me (though for some reason he thought we were going to a pub for a pre-work brunch? It goes to show how crazy he is, because he did it anyway) up 40 floors for brunch among the clouds.

Sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle
Sunrise brunch at Duck and Waffle

Recently (after much reminder temptation from the likes of Angloyankophile and JessOnThames, and knowing that sunrises are getting earlier and earlier) we booked an intimate table for two as a Monday morning pre-work treat, to start the week off in a slightly more fun way than our usual porridge al-desko. Over the weekend prior, having watched the weather predictions with horror at Storm Irene threatening to drop a weather system on all the commuting Londoners the very morning we were meant to be enjoying the sunrise, we breathed a sigh of relief when we emerged from Liverpool Street Station to a windy, but fairly clear sky. That was a long, pre-caffeine sentence, my apologies.

15 February 2016

London Art Deco walking tours

Whenever I hear the words 'Art Deco', my mind conjures Great Gatsby girls swishing in flapper dresses and beads, bee stung lips clasping long elegant cigarette holders and jazz music inviting feet to dance glamourously in low heels. 

London Art Deco walking tours

There's another side to the 1920's & 1930's that is slightly more permanent - the grand curves and boxy clean lines of soaring architecture - iconic cinemas, oceanliner inspired office buildings and curious reliefs of archetypal characters. And yet we often just walk on by with our eyes on our phone screens... (I am SO guilty.)

In London, this is where my tour guide friend (and often mischief-in-cake comrade) Yannick comes in rather handy. Instead of intending to look up the history in dusty old books which never happens, I love being able to turn up on a weekend afternoon at a central meeting point and be taken on an architectural journey with an nicely sized, small group of fellow enthusiasts. (I'm clearly biased, but with more than 5 of Yannick's tours under my belt, I wouldn't keep returning if they weren't interesting. Weekend hours are precious much like unicorn tears...)

13 February 2016

Dubai - where desert sands reflect onto skyscraper silhouettes

Dubai, the up & coming city state in a constant state of engineering flux, where petrol is so cheap locals barely bother to walk, where the Uber options include helicopters and the desert sands reflect onto towering skyscraper silhouettes.

I have to be completely honest insofar as for a variety of silly reasons Dubai never popped up on our wanderlust lists. If it wasn't for several transits on our way to New Zealand, my European history adoring self wouldn't have found my interest piqued, and my America adoring husband may not have considered it, preferring a Los Angeles visit instead.

What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi
What to do in Dubai Adventures of a London Kiwi

This was dumb.

9 February 2016

15 rainy day ideas when you're in a strange city

It's happened to all of us. After months dreaming of sunlit idylls, the weather gods let you down and allow a storm to bucket down torrents of icy rain. You have no car to hand or destination in mind (having planned a city-centre stay close to where all the tours leave from) and can't bear the thought of being hemmed in at a vaguely interesting museum amongst frazzled kids.

15 things to do a strange city when it rains Adventures of a London Kiwi

15 things to do a strange city when it rains Adventures of a London Kiwi

This happened to us the day before New Years Eve. Ironically we had planned a ferry trip across Auckland harbour and hike to a volcano crater (the most organised physical, outdoors activity we fancied on our trip) and the heavens opened. Perusing the cinema listings, we didn't really fancy watching any thing there, so thought up a few amusing alternatives.

7 February 2016

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

We drifted silently through a pitch black cave on a boat we hadn't seen except for swift flashes of a torch. One by one as the luminescent cave dwellers winked on, the ceiling began to resemble a galaxy of twinkling stars. Still sat with arms clutched tightly and our necks craned as we tried to adsorb the moment, floating along a 30 million year old subterranean limestone grotto. 

Daytrips from Auckland Waitomo Glowworm Caves New Zealand

Our escort hand pulled us along the cave river, feeling her way along with a guide line mounted just above head level, calling out softly at one point, laughingly to a fellow guide who decided to take a strange shortcut.

5 February 2016

Friday figments and photos: January pubs and puds

Begone ye cold wintry winds of January, fare thee well Jack Frost. Avast ye spring blossoms and jewel-hued sunrises!

Wooo! Ah, er. Yeah. Sorry. Not quite sure what got into me there.

Winchester Cathedral Adventures of a London Kiwi

Actually, yes I do, it's reading all the Travel Linkup declarations of love this month. Who would have thought you lot are such dewey-eyed romantics. We are adoring every word. (Ps. there's still time to linkup - we want to know what you adore. It could be a love letter to your favourite city, a special someone, baby wild dolphins, a flavour you can't live without or well, anything. Feel free to let those creative passions flow...)

Winchester Cathedral Adventures of a London Kiwi

This week has been rather nicely off the cuff. The boy shot up north so I had a lazy Saturday and a Sunday mooching around Winchester with some lovely company.

3 February 2016

The Wallace Collection (and a spot of afternoon tea)

Is it just me, or do you simultaneously feel like Peter Pan never wanting to grow up or begin adulting and like a little old lady who frequents art galleries in puzzled wonderment before returning home to her cat? Whilst many people live for tipsy evenings at throbbing nightclubs, I'm really never happier than quietly strolling through hallways lined with majestic artifacts and historical portraiture that tells tales of another time (finishing with a glass of something cheeky obvs.). No? Just me?

The Wallace Collection Marylebone London
The Wallace Collection Marylebone London
Disclaimer: Access to The Wallace Collection is free, but we were invited guests of The Wallace Restaurant for afternoon tea. My (very many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily revisit (again and again and again like I do...)

Even if you aren't willing to admit to the above personality traits publicly, I absolutely know that it is true of many of my good mates. So, in the interests of the culture vultures in us all, we took a little stroll away from the Oxford Street shopping carnage a weekend or two ago, and simply indulged in a little classical opulence. ('We' being the foodie loving, worldwide crew of myself, Jess, Heidi, Madeleine and Manjiri.)