30 April 2016

Travel Blogger Problems - May #travellinkup

Once upon a time (because all the very best tales begin that way) there was a bloke who lived in London. He lived a fairly simple, content life circulating between home, office and pub, with the occasional bout of inflatable fish waving & singing at the antics of several blokes chasing a small ball around a rectangular grass patch. (In Ye Olde Englande this past time is called Foot Ball which mostly consists of fellas falling over, TVs being shouted at and the occasional private tear.)

Must. Get. Photo. Of. Chandelier.

Things changed when this lad decided to chat up a foreign bar wench who served 'one of the best pints in town' (he never realised that she quietly grimaced at the hooligan antics of him and his friends.) One thing led to another which led to Wedding bells and a small Tabby cat invisibly meowing pitifully at him from a Harry-Potter style hall-cupboard at the pre-dawn hour of 4am.

29 April 2016

Friday figments and photos: Snow, tea and cocktails.

As you get older, they say that time speeds up.

Adventures of a London Kiwi

Adventures of a London Kiwi

With another fortnight positively flying past I can't help but regretfully agree. 

27 April 2016

Mango Tree Harrods Restaurant Review

Last year for my birthday, a few my favourite ladies and I gathered in the Belgravia branch of Mango Tree. We gossiped travel news over cocktails, caught up on life over noodles and whittled away a few hours as our meal appeared on the lacquered table. I've never been to Thailand myself (a situation that needs to be sorted stat) and unfortunately can't comment on the authenticity of the flavours, but our fragrant dishes were the perfect antitheses to a crisp autumn evening.

When I was recently invited to review the Mango Tree branch at Harrods I couldn’t wait to see what the more cozy venue would be like. Making my way through the beautifully luxurious rooms of the department store, I headed for my favorite section, the gorgeously ornamented Food Hall.

  Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Mango Tree Harrods but my (very many) opinions are 
only ever my own. Read on...

Far more informal than the large elder sister restaurant, the feng shui designed layout of Mango Tree is tucked into a corner as respite for weary shoppers mid-splurge. Joined for my mid-week blate by the lovely Aftab, we settled into our catch-up with a rather lovely glass of French Sancerre (a Loire originating Domaine Gerard Millet, I believe).

25 April 2016

Vienna State Opera House

As a foreigner coming from a country 150 (or so) years old, I can't ever quite explain the fascination that old things has for us expats. As kids we were more likely to be sentenced to an afternoon on grassy fields playing in sunshine, whilst museums were kept as rainy day back up plans.

What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi
What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

Fast-forward 20 or so years and I find myself actively seeking out beautiful places. It doesn't matter which country we're in - like a bloodhound, my appetite for gilding and ornate decoration knows no end!

23 April 2016

Yotel Gatwick Hotel Review

Buttons, buttons, buttons.

It seems like the classic tale of travel gone bad - landing in storm winds pushing our plane to roll a little, rolling off the flight, dashing through the rain and collecting our slightly oversize suitcases, only to have to sleep in the airport.

Yotel Gatwick Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi
Yotel Gatwick Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Yotel 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 we're planning another trip around this handy little hotel, yo.

Luckily, for us it wasn't on rows of uncomfortable airport lounge chairs and even luckier it was a pre-booked stay because Storm Katie had decided to descend on South-East England making getting home from our late flight home from Vienna a proper hassle.

20 April 2016

Hawksmoor Air Street Steak Restaurant Review

Vegetarians avert your eyes, for Hawksmoor is for the carnivorous of bent.

(Pssst. omnivores might enjoy this review of The Gate, Hammersmith, take the vege option at Dans Le Noir or perhaps pop onto the Jubilee Line and visit the Neasden Temple - just across the road is the most fabulous vegetarian restaurant)

Hawksmoor has become a naughty weekday default treat for us, one usually at the end of a long day where we can’t face the thought of cooking and fancy a big juicy steak. They don’t just do red meat – there looks to be a nice selection of seafood, poultry and vegetarian options, but we never venture further than their hunks of beef and ridiculously good triple cooked chips. I’m actually amazed that I haven’t blogged about it, assuming I had done so years ago – though Goodmans (first equal in the steak stakes, if not top by a whisker IMHO), cultish steak at L'Entrecote Marylebone and Canary Wharf, and The Meat Co. have all made an appearance with their perfectly cooked sides of cow but I haven't seemed to share the place we visit most often.

Best steak in London - Hawksmoor Air Street Steak Restaurant Review

With several restaurants over London, there is a location for everyone but we always seem to find ourselves drawn back to the Art Deco splendour of Air Street, just off Picadilly Circus. We usually pick up one of their ‘express’ menus owing to speed of service (throwing in a fruit-based drink for the lady from their fab cocktail list and a pint or two of beer for the gent) perfect as a pre-theatre treat – though be warned any one who visits will leave rather full…

18 April 2016

Friendship and being an expat

I've been thinking on this post for a long time. Lingering in my draft posts, it's a topic that adults don't often seem to discuss, but, as an expat with home always in our thoughts, the subject of friends and family always raises its head.

Specifically, having moved to a new hemisphere as an adult, sometimes the process of making new friends has felt like it's as tumultuous as dating. There’s an inherent chemistry in any relationship that somehow connects you to one person more than another. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it isn't even when you want it to be.

One of the most elusive aspects of life as an expat has had been making a decent network of those 'call at 2am because I've broken something/am really drunk and just want to chat/ripped a button off my dress/call at 7am because there is a tube strike on and I need advice/indulge in my brunch addiction' friends. 

16 April 2016

Where to find the best schitznel and cake in Vienna*

It felt like every second meal we had on our 72 hour city break in Vienna was of the cake variety. Chalking it up to being away from home and the cake reputation Vienna seems to be associated with we indulged, cutting out unnecessary meals like breakfast and lunch.

With my travel date (poor Mr Kiwi being dragged from tourist pillar to post) suffering from a reoccurring bout of flu, we didn’t make it out for any specifically special evening meals, mostly preferring to grab something on the hoof and laze in the spa, but decided to practice moderation, throwing out a few unnecessary vegetables over the weekend for a finely baked variety of opulence. As they say, a balanced diet is a cake in each hand.

Where to find the best schitznel and cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

Our three favorite meals consisted basically of carbs and starch in varying permutations. Thank goodness for walking miles looking at beautiful buildings.

15 April 2016

Friday figments and photos: Posh nosh and blossoms

Rain, sun, rain, sun, rain, sun. We are in the middle of the emotional rollercoaster that is April showers, but with the promise of a delicious May and a cup of Joe in hand, it is worth the wait. In the meantime in between the raindrops and mischeif I've just been settling into the couch with the latest bingewatch TV series, because that's what London Kiwis do (the mischief I mean - what London Kiwis do in the privacy of their own homes is a state secret.)


They also misspell mischeif several times in a row, undoubtedly to the horror of teachers past. Sorry teachers, sorry.

13 April 2016

Dining at The Ritz

As well as visiting Claridges for the best afternoon tea we have ever had (if it's good enough for the New Zealand Prime Minister...) and trying out the fresh menu at Fera for our last wedding anniversary, enjoying The Ritz has always been on our ‘to do’ list. Languishing on there for far too long, we decided to seize the day, and book ourselves in for a treat. With no real anniversaries, birthdays or special occasions for months ahead as an excuse, we decided to book it in in spite of having nothing to celebrate. YOLO right?

The Ritz London Restaurant Review Adventures of a London Kiwi
The Ritz London Restaurant Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

Having heard on the grapevine from several friends and family over the years that The Ritz's afternoon tea didn’t live up to the iconic status as it should do, we decided to mix things up a little and enjoy dinner instead. We turned it into a little ‘staycation’ weekend – beginning with movies on the Friday, Saturday was breakfast in bed and pottering around an exhibition in the morning before our glamorous dinner, with Sunday spent soaking in sunshine before our appetites led us to a delicious roast dinner. It couldn't have been more perfect.

11 April 2016

St James Park and Green Park, April Blossom style

Sometimes casting off the yolk of adult responsibility is the best feeling the world. Having woken up to April sunshine pouring in the windows we threw the rulebook out, grabbed our Sunnies and booked in a Sunday roast dinner. Lately we've been trying to leave at least one day a weekend empty in order to get all the boring #lifemin done and some quality relaxation in, but sometimes, well, YOLO.

St James's Park and Green Park Adventures of a London Kiwi
St James's Park and Green Park Adventures of a London Kiwi

At the moment Spring seems to be unfurling with a vengance - there are birdie babies abounding,  blossom heavy boughs and biscuits dunking into beverages at a rate of knots. (Sorry, aliteration too stretched?)

9 April 2016

72 hour city break in Vienna, Austria

Vienna is grand, elegant, perfectly compact, leafy, full of delicate baked goods peddlers, brimming with history and a thousand other superlatives. It’s one of those cities where you mention a visit, and everyone – and I mean everyone – exclaims “Oh, I LOVE Vienna!”. There is plenty to do for culture vultures, spas for relaxation weekends, cake on nearly every corner, gardens galore for picnics, museums for ghosting. Just all the things.

72 hour city break in Vienna, Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi
72 hour city break in Vienna, Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

All in all, Vienna is a fantastic European city break. (Can you tell we enjoyed it?)

8 April 2016

Friday figments and photos: Hibernation and Spring

I've been doing this weird hibernating thing (you know it's getting bad when on Sunday night your husband turns to you for the weekly diary pow wow and goes "umm, what do you mean you only have one thing on during the week and no real plans for the weekend? Not even brunch? Is there something wrong?") which I blame on the weather.

Vienna Traffic Lights Adventures of a London Kiwi
Sketch Restaurant Adventures of a London Kiwi

I guess it could be because April is notorious for fickle weather and I haven't wanted to make plans just in case the sun is pouring or the rain is shining. You know how it is, right?

6 April 2016

108 Marylebone Brasserie Restaurant Review(ed again)

Call me utterly biased, but you can't beat Marylebone on a sunny evening. Elegant with a side of eccentricity, a few minutes walk from the chaos of Oxford Street, the quiet streets of Marylebone are alive with contented chatter and the occasional clink of glasses.

 108 Marylebone Brasserie Restaurant Review(ed again) Adventures of a London Kiwi
 Disclaimer: We were invited guests of 108 Marylebone but my (very many) opinions are 
only ever my own, and proof is in the pudding (and the many, many times I have visited.)

Many of the lanes are ringed with period facades, leafy nooks and boutiques perfect for window shopping dreamily. We may have wandered through several of the above before arriving at our dinner date destination, The Marylebone Hotel, or more specifically the 108 Marylebone Brasserie.

4 April 2016

Osterley House & Gardens, London

The next time you're heading out towards Heathrow, I want to you go about 3 hours earlier than normal. No, I haven't lost my mind (at least I don't think so) but googling things to do near a beer festival my better half was keen to go to, I discovered a stately home in the area. I used my powers of persuasion to convince him of breakfast and a visit enroute. (Spoiler: I ended up wandering for about 4 hours and missing the beer festival, oops!)

Osterley House and Park London National Trust Adventures of a London Kiwi
(Click these photos to enlarge them properly)
Osterley House and Park London National Trust Adventures of a London Kiwi

I didn't realise that whilst wandering through the house and grounds I would discover a bluebell glade, uncover a Hollywood batcave entrance, hitch a leg over gate stiles in front of some judgemental kids, learn some quirky London history, drink too much coffee (no suprises there thought), browse through fresh veges, admire priceless paintings, go on an Easter bunny hunt and discover a luxurious summer home. (The National Trust should put that on their website.)

1 April 2016

Secret scents of a travel blogger - April linkup

I have a secret. One that haunts me at night, and means that my soul can never rest. Well, OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but it does trouble my conscience on occasion.

Whenever we travel anywhere, my first port of call after airport security - well, the one that everyone is funneled into - lurks on the shelves of the duty free shop.

Secret scents of a travel blogger

It isn't the gigantic bars of chocolate that you could buy everyday in less artery-narrowing sizes that call to me, it isn't the cheesy souvenir tat that calls from every imaginable kind stand that sets out a silent siren, it isn't even the makeup displayed by the immaculately presented sales people hoping to tally up their commission/targets at the end of the day.