31 December 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

As per self-instigated tradition, I spend the last post of the year reminiscing. 2016 has been incredible and sad. A serious amount of exploring, more hugs than I ever want to count, tabled laughter, a burgeoning full blown coffee addiction, many escapades both in the UK and overseas to countries I will never be able to properly spell, a few heartbreaking incidents, discovering new nooks and generally trying to live life to the full.

And, as you read this, New Zealand will shortly be counting down & embracing the new year. We'll be getting ready in the UK to watch the sun set on an incredible 2016 and we'll be (probably, ok maybe) watching the sunrise over the horizon of 2017.

29 December 2016

My 13 best London dishes 2016

It's that time of year. The week or so where we look back over our metaphorical shoulders and ponder on the successes, challenges and downright wrong turns of the last 12 months. As a foodie each year I think back over the best dishes I've enjoyed, and 2016 has been utterly delectable.

Best London Brunch and Dinner Dishes 2016 Adventures of a London Kiwi

London seems to be hitting her cuisine stride and 2017 is only going to get better.

27 December 2016

My top 10 travel moments of 2016

Wrapped up in blanket and suffering with a dose of the Christmas flu seems like a good moment to look back on the year that was. It wasn't a pretty year from a global standard so ruminating on a few of our travel highlights of 2016 seems appropriate in an effort to dispell some of the bad.

My top 10 travel moments of 2016 Adventures of a London Kiwi

We began the year by wrapping up a family Christmas and wedding in New Zealand, seeing the New Year in on Auckland's harbour front, before making our way to the UAE on a whistlestop tour to see friends. This kicked off a fantastic year of adventuring and traveling both in the UK and around the world which meant that picking only 10 of my favourite moments was decidedly difficult.

24 December 2016

Merry Christmas to all - and to all, a good night!

This year we have the strange and uniquely wonderful situation of Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday. This means that by 5.32pm on Friday London will already be half-empty with expats zooming home and most everyone else clomping off to the countryside for family gatherings around groaning tables. (Another quarter of the population will be frantically racing up and down the aisles of the nearest shop even though they could just avail themselves by perusing this annual charity gift guide.)

Wait, it's Christmas already somehow? It's ok, I have a playlist and mince pies at the ready... Adventures of a London Kiwi

Instead of disappearing off to the other side of the world to cast off our shoes and swelter - by choice - in Christmas jumpers in the New Zealand sunshine (not to mention swimming with wild dolphins (sorta)) we are cozying up at home. We have a wealth of cheesy movies lined up, more snacks than we'll ever need and a few of our nearest and dearest next to us.

21 December 2016

What to buy someone who has everything (a charity gift guide)

Carrying on my annual charity tradition (est. 2014) I want to pay forward some of the amazing karma I've received over the years and give something back to those less fortunate. Blogger gift guides are pretty well established now but as ever I couldn't just do a normal one - it needed a slightly Adventures of a London Kiwi twist (I even spotted a couple of little sheep fellows - hey, you can take the blogger out of New Zealand...)

What to buy someone who has everything (a charity gift guide) Adventures of a London Kiwi
Usually sent to the recipient in a glossy card, these quirky donations can make lovely stocking fillers or even foot the bill as something for those people who have everything they could ever want. Forget sickly smelling bath sets where half the products are thrown away, and ugly tie that is only trotted out on special occasions, how about buying a chicken for a suffering family and share the feel-good donation afterglow?

18 December 2016

An English Christmas Scavenger Hunt (12 things of Christmas)

All over the UK, in the small towns in London alike festive lovers celebrate Christmas and the winter festive season wonderfully. December, whilst London doesn't have snow very often, 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.

A London Christmas Scavenger Hunt Adventures of a London Kiwi
Every street has an individual character of twinkling decorations and many have over the top window displays, perfect for the season of excessive enjoyment. Some even have pedalo operators dressed as Santa, playing 40s Christmas carols to grannies, who sing their hearts out through the busy roads.

12 December 2016

A Christmas corner of London: Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus

I usually avoid Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus as much as possible, preferring to duck along the lesser visited lanes that run alongside the main thoroughfares the times I absolutely have to brave the area.

The one month where I make an exception is December.

It would be impossible to talk about London at Christmas without mentioning the shopping heart of my favourite city. Commercial greed and the chaos of thousands of visitors aside, each corner you turn is another festively trimmed doorway of cheer.

10 December 2016

Austin, Texas: the city where music pours from doorways

2 US states, 3 cities, 800 miles of driving + 1 internal flight, a serious amount of Texan BBQ, a swamp tour on a Louisiana bayou with gators and raccoons, music pouring from doorways, a small red car christened Bonnie (just because we could), 7 hotels (definitely a record for us, we like to make a single central base) and a few gallons of craft ale. That was our two week roadtrip through Texas and Louisiana.

Austin Texas Live Music Capital of the World Adventures of a London Kiwi

Drawn in by lure of classic blues, we began in the city where guitar players wander off the stage and into the road, the pavements where students snapchat alongside families and blocks upon blocks of bars showcase local talent. Austin, Texas, the self-proclaimed 'live music capital of the world'.

8 December 2016

Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill - A birthday lunch

Dining at The Savoy has always been on my all time bucket list. The atmosphere, quirky history and the sheer opulence of the famed hotel meant that I'll take any possible excuse to nip into the American Bar for a cocktail or just use the 5-star luxury hotel as a cut through - sorry, I mean coffee stop - but I wanted a thoroughly special reason as a celebration meal to remember our visit with.
 Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill - A birthday lunch
Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill - A birthday lunch

Deciding that my milestone birthday was a worthy enough occasion (after that sentence I feel like selling T-Shirts that say "if something isn't worth waiting a few years for, is it worth it?") after opening some of the lovely cards on the doormat, we ignored the unpacking from my surprise trip to Gothenburg completely (one of the joys of living in Europe is definitely the ability to use carry-on) and made our way up the Strand for a leisurely lunch.

6 December 2016

A Christmas corner of London: Chelsea

We've decided to fill our cups with Christmas cheer this year, and visit the 4 "corners" of the Circle Line (in true London style) to enjoy the different faces of festive London. This weekend I found myself brunching with some of the crew in Chelsea (at the beautifully instagrammable no.11 Pimlico Road) so went for a meander.

Chelsea Christmas Where to go in London Adventures of a London Kiw

The short walk from Sloane Square tube station to Pimlico Road was a revelation alone. Christmas trees adorned shop lintels, harpists gently plucked carols whilst raising money for charity, chestnuts were being roasted over flame (I didn't actually realise this was a thing in real life), a small choir sang on a pub corner and the smell of mulled wine from a local business hung beautifully in the air.

3 December 2016

Festive Afternoon Tea at the Langham Hotel, Marylebone

What is it that’s so special about afternoon tea? It’s only a few little sandwiches and a couple of teeny cakes, right?

Nope, nope, nope.

Luxury Festive Afternoon Tea Langham Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi
Luxury Festive Afternoon Tea Langham Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of The Langham Hotel but my (very many) thoughts are only ever my own.

It’s the act of taking a little time out of our busy lives and setting aside a few hours of pure opulence - from taking a simple cream tea in local vintage café to a special afternoon of grand sumptuousness worthy of a princess. Admittedly of late, they haven’t featured so strongly in my calendar (I think even I got a little overwhelmed with them after devising my afternoon tea golden rules) but they definitively have a special place in my heart.

1 December 2016

11 things I hate about Christmas and the festive season

As time has gone by I've discovered an inner festive-elf that delights in fairy-lights, delves into the Christmas decoration box as soon as humanly possible (I'm usually only allowed to start putting them up on the 1st of December by my Grinch, and that's only once we've listened to "Lonely This Christmas" by Mud) and revel in the new and old traditions that we've established over the years - especially the picking up of Christmas ornaments as we traipse to different cities. Amongst the branches hang miniature dutch clogs, an Irish fairy, teeny Kiwis, Football baubles and a German angel who crowns our decorations with a fair few others.

11 things I hate about Christmas and the festive season

But, I was never a Christmas fan. There, I said it. When I was a teenager I’d go out with friends on Christmas Eve celebrating the season (a bit overmuch to be honest) and Christmas Day would be a bit of a struggle, especially when my hyper excited family would bounce on my bed at 6am - a crazy thing to do even at the best of times. #Bahhumbug