29 March 2016

Lessons I have learned over 1,000 blog posts

I can't actually believe I'm writing this. If someone had told me in June 2012 that years later I would be still typing away at my little corner of the internet, I would have laughed. In their face.

Setting myself a goal of daily blogging for 1001 days seemed foolhardy to a girl who can only just commit to reading a full book (and usually cheats on it with at least one, maybe two other novels along the way) and struggles to watch a whole movie without wandering off. Bizarrely enough I managed it (at the rate of 6 posts a week) and at the end of the challenge still enjoyed blogging enough to continue on.

Lessons I've learned from blogging

Furthermore, somehow all this time down the track Adventures of a London Kiwi is something I am immensely proud of.

27 March 2016

Roka Aldwych, Bottomless Brunch Review

A while ago something in my head prompted me to share 9 of the ways that London has been made better for me, and one of them I didn't mention (well, I sorta did) was being adopted by hordes of London bloggers. For some bizarre reason I have been allowed to invite my way into a few informal tribes of genuinely friendly, brazenly brunching, sushi addicted, bubbly loving blog addicts. There's the loose ring of London Kiwi blog mafia, the massive expat massive and the association of travel addicts (anonymous) that brighten up London life immeasurably, not to mention the individual characters who don’t tie themselves down with memberships.

I don’t know if it’s the effect of such a big city full of a plethora of cultures and nationalities, the enormity of the population size or just the social makeup of the citizens, but for the most part the London foodie/travel blogging scene is a rather friendly collection of individuals. Since I began my corner of t’internet I’ve been to Northern Africa, nipped across The Channel to Paris for lunch, sipped cocktails by the pool in America, tiki toured around Bath and slept like a princess in Gloucestershire, not to mentioned brunching with all with me #internetfriends who have become IRL friends. They are good peoples, everyone of them.

Roka Aldwych, Bottomless Brunch Review
^ If dishes had an instagram/blog per piece value, I'm pretty sure this would win hands down!^ 

This particular brunch began quite innocently. It started as a touch of chatter, but before we knew it the excitement of a TimeOut offer appearing brunch at Roka Aldwych with bottomless bubbles had us all a-Twitter (literally). I invited myself along (it's the sad eyes that gets them every time), we sussed out a good date thanks some email lasso-ing and in no time at all we were gathered in the Aldwych branch of Roka.

25 March 2016

Hampshire, gin, rugby & a gaggle of blog addicts

Some trips are planned months in advance. Some trips are agonized over in excruciating details. Some trips taken entirely, blissfully out of your hands and you're asked to simply pick a date and book a few train tickets. Out autumnal visit to Hampshire last year is one such delight.

Road trip to Hampshire featuring gin, rugby and bloggers

Road trip to Hampshire featuring gin, rugby and bloggers

Co-coordinated by a lovely Kiwi friend who has escaped the London rat-race for the glorious rolling fields of Southhampton, we met at the achingly early hour of 8am on a Saturday and fuelled by a glug or two of caffeine we trooped into the countryside.

23 March 2016

El Camion Mexican Restaurant and bar review, Soho London

In the 1930s, doctors in Mexico recommended the following drink concoction ratio to fight off a cold:
1/3 measure of tequila blanco
1/3 measure of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
1/3 measure of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C) 

So, in March 2016, I decided to try out their advice. Full of hayfever lurgeys and the beginnings of a monster cold, I took a decision in the name of science to sneak into El Camion in Brewer Street for a catchup with the lovely Mr Fresh and Fearless and to try a little of their menu.

El Camion Brewer Street Picadilly Soho Mexican Restaurant review

El Camion Brewer Street Picadilly Soho Mexican Restaurant review
 Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the El Camion 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'll be taking my chilli-loving husband shortly.

El Camion is a little rough diamond of Mexican kitsch literally minutes from tourist-central Picadilly Circus. A restaurant by day with a late night members-club in the basement, this is a perfect post-work stop for catching up with good friends.

21 March 2016

15 more secrets of London that the tourist crowds miss

If you happen to be planning on a London staycation this Easter, or even a London visit, there are a plethora of quirky places to while away an hour or two in between brunches and afternoon teas.

Following a post of 15 London secrets that the tourist crowds miss, I decided it was high time to lasso another selection of my favourite secrets that most tourists might miss. Some of these places are free, some have cats, a few have suits of armour, several have excellent coffee, none of them are sponsored and they will all surprise even the longest serving London addict who hasn't visited in years.

15 more secrets of London that the tourist crowds miss

Discover a tropical oasis inside the ugliest building ever
Free to enter, the Barbican Conservatory is allegedly the second biggest in London and is home to exotic fish and over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. The residential estate itself was originally built to replace housing destroyed in the Second World War and also houses a labyrinthine layout of “art, music, theatre, dance, film and creative learning events”.

19 March 2016

Dubai and Abu Dhabi - 10 experiences you must have!

Since we've been to Dubai, almost every person I've met who asked me about our trip tips their head slightly and says "huh, I've never thought of going there. Not for any particular reason it just didn’t appeal”. We were honestly the same, but after a few transits through the airport on the way to New Zealand, and spotting a full-size camel in amongst the duty free shelves of perfume my curiosity was piqued (a fake camel that is!).

(Sidenote: this breaking up of travel posts over a series of weekends makes it feel like they’ll never end, but has certainly brought some winter sun reminiscing to my dreary January/February/March.)

10 experiences you have to have in Dubai & Abu Dhabi Adventures of a London Kiwi

We enjoyed our tourist version of the two UAE city states we visited, much to our surprise. Dubai seems to be very much a love it or hate it destination - and having gone without any expectations in the middle of the UAE winter, we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, we loved it.

16 March 2016

House of Ho, Vietnamese Restaurant in Fitzrovia

“So, what's your favourite restaurant?” It’s a dreaded question that comes with being called a London foodie. It’s also the hardest question I find to answer, along with “what is your favourite place to travel?” It almost feels akin to asking a parent who their favourite child is - but the difference is that I don’t even have a secret answer in my heart. It truly depends on the situation, formality, cuisine, area of London, budget, view, meal type (brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, bressert…) I could go on (and have done in blog format for a few years now - skip to paragraph 6 for the food).

Unfortunately, it doesn't help that I’m also chronically indecisive. Usually when arranging to meet with friends we start with location, strike out any unfortunate flavours and then we suggest a few researched options and I let them pick. Sometimes one of the nicest aspects of blogging – both reading other recommendations and being invited to try out new menus - is trying cuisines that you’ve never tested and not having to decide on which part of the globe you'll be perusing with your knife & fork...

Blogger restaurant review House of Ho Vietnamese cuisine in Fitzrovia.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the House of Ho but my (very many) opinions are 
only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily revisit.

Whilst on the (off)topic, what is it about Southeast Asian culture and food that has us so enthralled? Even back in Victorian times when global commercialisation and shipping first became a thing, fashion delighted in the obscure culinary flavours of Asian persuasion. It is the fresh, fascinating flavours? Is it the delicate, intriguing layers of piquancy? Is it the unusual marriage of textures so different from European palettes? Or is it simply that 5,000 years of flavour development renders dishes just right?

14 March 2016

Temple Church, London

Orchestrated by a secret brotherhood,the Priory of Scion and protected by a military arm called the Knights Templar, Tom Hanks - I mean Robert Langdon - found himself flown to London, and held at gunpoint by a rogue monk demanding he solve one of the longest running religious secrets in history.

2,000 years of history, Hollywood film crews and a rounded honey-stoned church still bring visitors through the beautiful, religious heart of the medieval Inner and Middle Temple, two of England’s four ancient societies of lawyers the Inns of Court.

Must do in London Visit Temple Church, London

Yes, yes, The Da Vinci Code is a mystery novel by Dan Brown, but with 80 million copies sold worldwide, it's also how I found myself clutching a modern paperback and admiring a 12th century Church in the centre of London. Cause that's how I roll...

12 March 2016

Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi - One of the most beautiful buildings in the world

As we turned the last motorway corner, I almost lifted out of my seat. Against the cloudless blue sky, curving white domes rose to meet us, towers stretched along the pavement, and gilded columns lined reflective pools.

“It’s….beautiful…” I breathed.

Must to Abu Dhabi: Visit the opulent and etheral Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Must to Abu Dhabi: Visit the opulent and etheral Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Our cab driver had nodded knowingly when we got into his car. “Ahh, you are off to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are you? It is so very beautiful.” Having moved to Abu Dhabi himself 15 years ago himself, he gave us a mini-tour on route pointing out several of the hotels that lined the route, swung along the highway turnoffs and sped towards the minarets we had spied in the distance.

11 March 2016

Friday figments and photos: March mischief

I discovered a long time ago that when I'm nervous I giggle too much and flap my hands about whilst talking. In fact by the end of a conversation I'm almost dancing in sentences - catch my flailing arms and I won't be able to talk. One of my friends just stares at my hands as we chat because she knows it flusters me.

That's why I love her...

9 March 2016

10 reasons I hate blogging – a rant.

Over the years I have come to a firm belief in karma (and I was bullied as a school kid - are you reading this Janine?) so try to live by the motto of ‘be nice’ where I can in my life. I try not to complain about things that I can change, put as many good vibes out into the cosmos (*hippy alert*) and generally try to live without any regrets.

But, there are rare days where I really hate blogging – yes, the opportunities are immense, I’ve learned so many skills and met some wonderful people – and some days that I just fancy a little grouch. Unfortunately the latest mood occurred just when I had a blog post space, so here goes…

10 reasons I hate blogging – a rant.

  • Envy, there I said it. Envy is the greatest issue I have with blogging – reading someone else’s fantastically phrased post (even worse when you were at the table with them), when a someone spots a great viewpoint that you had your eye on and don’t want to look like you are copying or when you compare someone else's amazing photographic talents. We all struggle with our demons, I know

7 March 2016

The Little Yellow Door, a quirky Notting Hill cocktail bar

When you think of Notting Hill doors, most people think of that infamous blue door on Portobello Road, complete with foppish scallywag Hugh Grant. Regardless of their international cinematic heritage, I’m always fascinated about the stories behind closed doors. Much can be said (or occasionally made up) about the goings on behind a particularly quirky chamber entryway, and the Little Yellow Door doesn’t disappoint. What is a glossy yellow hatch that you might ordinarily stride by on Notting Hill Gate Road, contains a curious gastronomic interior.

The Little Yellow Door, a quirky Notting Hill cocktail bar

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of The Little Yellow Door, but my (very many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily revisit (and perhaps redeem my kleptomaniac ways.)

Set up a couple of years ago by a group of hospitality friends the pop-up restaurant and bar themed as a spacious Notting Hill flat share, is host to cocktails nights, supperclubs and house parties over the weekends that seem to magnetically attract young gallants and party girls. One rainy weeknight recently, Amanda and I were invited for a taste of their supperclubs (normally held on a Friday night).

5 March 2016

36 hours in Abu Dhabi

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are man-made constructions of steel towering over sand and manufactured coastline, but there is definitely beauty to be found in the desert cities. Whilst on our protracted stopover, there were 4 things we had wanted to do whilst in the UAE; sleep in the desert, meet up with my cousin, cuddle my friend’s new baby and explore the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Anything more was a bonus.

Abu Dhabi Corniche Jumeriah at Etihad Hotels

Whilst you could easily pop over from Dubai to Abu Dhabi as a day trip (the cities are only an hour or so drive from each other), we overnighted in Abu Dhabi in where we crashed a house party (I say crashed, we brought NZ chocolate as my cousin’s guests of honor, apparently invited to help drink the cupboard dry of NZ vodka which we did with nationalistic fervour), ate cake with expat friends and just kinda hung out admiring the city.

4 March 2016

Friday figments and photos: March

If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. Or so the old proverb goes (you'd think that living in a country for nearly a decade will educate you in all of the local wacky sayings, but no...)

Monument London Adventures of a London Kiwi

In this vein, I thought I might start the month with a touch of analysis (well, end of February - tah-may-to toe-mah-toe) and indulged in a little interrogation of you lovelies who pop over to my mutterings on a fairly regular basis.