30 January 2017

Rowley's Steak Restaurant Review, St James

A decade ago, almost to the day of publishing this post, Mr Kiwi and I met on our first official date. Having spent a couple of months in each others company but with the expanse of a bar top separating us and crowds of fellow office revelers, we decided that a more intimate evening where we could properly get to know each other was required.

Whisking me to Picadilly Circus where my expat heart was set a-flutter (by those iconic lights) we stood near the Eros Statue (to get a picture of said iconic lights, nothing more risque), he escorted me to a charming restaurant where the lights were romantically low and the tables are perfect for an nice date.

Rowley's Steak Restaurant Review, St James Adventures of a London Kiwi

And I panicked.

28 January 2017

A Louisiana bayou swamp tour - our incredible experience.

"C'Mon Gators! COME AND EAT US" screams our captain as he lobs chunks of meat over the side of the boat.

Mr Kiwi and I swap uneasy looks with each other, both wondering if going on a swamp tour was such a brilliant idea after all. Miles from New Orleans we were floating on a glorified tin can, surrounded by rusting steel structures wrapped in mangroves and very little else as far as the eye could see.

Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

We wait a just a little bit longer in apprehensive silence*. The smooth surface ripples, two prehistoric eyes appear before an elongated snout rises out of the murky waters. His** jagged back sways through the water as he gets closer and closer to eating us, sorry, start nibbling on the scraps of treats our captain threw in the water.

26 January 2017

Hello, it's me. That @londonkiwiemma lady.

Hello there, Kia Ora! Thank you for visiting Adventures of a London Kiwi, and welcome. Grab a cup of tea or a flat white (depending on your country of origin), sit yourself down, and settle back. It felt like time for a mini-refresh whilst the world is changing and with an influx of new readers in the last few months, a reminder chat about the things that fire my writing passions seemed apt. New Year, New Me, right? More like New Year, Same Old Me With A Slightly Worse Rambling Habit, but what can you do.

Hi. Lovely to e-hang with you. *awkward half hug and air-kiss on each cheek*

Travel and Food Blog Adventures of a London Kiwi

My name is Emma (aka London Kiwi Emma as I seem to have become known), and this is my personal travel experience and culinary adventures blog where I share my escapades as a long term expat, living in one of my favourite cities in the world. Though you probably won't tell from my developing English accent, I originate from New Zealand, also known as Aoteoroa, hobbitland or Land of the Long White Cloud. Us New Zealanders are known around the globe as 'Kiwis'; not necessarily the small furry brown fruit, but named after a small flightless bird who lives in our forests.

23 January 2017

Why my heart has shattered in 2017 #womensmarch

As a rule, I don't get political on my little blog. It has always been intended as a religion and political neutral zone that I can share what makes my soul happy. A little travel here, touching on a bit of history and a few tasty dishes there - some of the lighter things in life as a refuge for when the times get tough, hoping to make someone smile.

That's not to say I don't have opinions. I do.

President Trump Womens March 2017 Adventures of a London Kiwi

The American people and the US electoral college have officially appointed Donald Trump. It was almost impossible to miss the 45th US President's inauguration ceremony which has sparked international uproar. In response, 57 countries held Women's Marches this weekend as a reaction to the appointment and to defend the rights of the people it affects. From Washington DC all the way to Antarctica, an estimated 2.5 million men, women and children peacefully marched for every generation that could be affected by this change.

21 January 2017

23 of the best places to go in New Orleans

Please excuse the somewhat clickbait style post title, but I was at a bit of a loss how to describe our time in this magical Louisiana city. The home of Jazz is heavy with music spilling from each corner, the buildings are redolent with French-style balcony railings perfect for people watching and Mardi Gras beads literally hang from the Jackson Square trees year round. Creole and cajun spices imbue meals with history, a melting pot of cultures mingle in amongst music notes that hover in the air and everyone we've ever known to visit talks about the city their eyes light up remembering the joie di vivre.

Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

We wanted to love New Orleans. And we most certainly did. We adored our side trips (blatting on a boat through the Bayou to track down the coal-black eyes of alligators and a walk through the history of two quintessential Louisiana Plantations) but the city well and truly stole our wanderlusting hearts. With only 3 full days to spend in the city (2 full and 2 half to be utterly precise) we tried to fit in as much as we could, all the whilst dodging the rain drops that followed us over from Austin. After a 2-month drought.

18 January 2017

A Texan brunch at The Big Easy, Canary Wharf

Reliving our roadtrip through a couple of American Gulf Coast States lately had me Hank Marvin for a taste of the Southern hospitality that we enjoyed in each leg of our holiday. Scheduling in a touch of more refined culture afterwards (learning about Lady Emma Hamilton at the National Maritime Museum) the one and only Claire and I tee'd up a post-New Year catchup over cocktails and and a helping of Bar-B-Q.

American Bar-B-Q Brunch Big Easy Canary Wharf Adventures of a London Kiwi
American Bar-B-Q Brunch Big Easy Canary Wharf Adventures of a London Kiwi

Life is all about balance after all.

16 January 2017

Visiting the National Maritime Museum: The Emma, Lady Hamilton - Seduction and Celebrity Exhibition

She was the Kim Kardashian of the early 18th Century. No, actually, Kim K wishes she was half the person that Emma, Lady Hamilton became. Rising from a penny-scraping existence on the wrong side of the law, she won the heart of national hero Lord Nelson (that's where the allegory doesn't quite match), became friends with Marie Antoinette, developed from a household chattel to a titled Lady, was a household celebrity mauled in the press, saved a Royal Family from danger, was a muse to artist George Romney and sadly died in penury despite her perceived services to the realm.

Maritime Museum Greenwich Emma Hamilton Exhibition Seduction and Celebrity Adventures of a London Kiwi
Maritime Museum Greenwich Emma Hamilton Exhibition Seduction and Celebrity Adventures of a London Kiwi

I've long been fascinated by this historical character whom I (and about 15 people in my high school at any one time) shared a name with. After reading most of the books published about Emma Hamilton, when I heard that the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich were running an exhibition, I did a typical Londoner thing and made a mental note before forgetting entirely about visiting. Luckily, Twitter came to the rescue, and when the museum ran a special whereby Emma's could visit the exhibit for free one weekend I managed to lure the lovely Claire into a spot of brunch and a wander through history.

14 January 2017

The Whitney Hotel, New Orleans - Luxury hotel review

New Orleans. Home of Jazz, revelry, voodoo, beignets and hickory coffee - quite simply the stuff of travel legend. Smooth on the surface, 'Nawlins' is a historic city reaching back into the turbulent past of the deep South and the more recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (still on the lips of the locals) and further natural disasters, if you delve a little closer New Orleans wears her scars alongside the celebration of Mardi Gras beads.

The Whitney Hotel Review Four Star Luxury New Orleans Adventures of a London Kiwi

When we were researching from the comfort of our London couch, we were hesitant about booking a hotel that we would be exploring from. Not so young anymore, we didn't fancy staying in the tipsy tourist-filled French Quarter but equally we couldn't bear to be too far away from the fun.

12 January 2017

How to drive in America (a Kiwi perspective from the wrong side of the road)

Covering 800 miles of American freeways in less than 10 days is something I never thought I’d do to be honest – an inexperienced driver at best I’ve driven short distances (and through a Florida tropical storm from Cape Canaveral back to our Orlando apartment) – but somehow we survived unscathed driving diagonally the length of Louisiana from New Orleans to Shreveport, through the crazy traffic of Dallas and along the long, undulating motorways of Texas.

How to drive in the US on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi
How to drive in the US on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

It was amazing. We saw places that we never would have been able to explore, it gave us a freedom to nip into cute restaurants we spotted from the road and stay in a couple of really quirky hotels off the beaten track.

10 January 2017

9 of our favourite things to do in Austin, Texas

Every time that someone hears we visited Austin on our epic road trip, they immediately say "Austin? Texas? Why'd you go there?" Well, we were lured there by a Stetson clad Pied Piper - we booked for the rich music culture, the curiosity of exploring the LoneStar state and some of the best BBQ in the world - or so we were told.

9 of our favourite things to do in Austin, Texas Adventures of a London Kiwi

The tagline adopted by the capital city of Texas is a curious one. Found on T-shirts, posters and marketers, "Keep Austin Weird" and we can definitely confirm that in between the downtown skyscrapers and government buildings, a vibrant and bohemian community thrives.

7 January 2017

My 2017 New Year's Resolutions

The start of the year. The gyms are rammed with bunnies, stores are heaped with leafy vegetables, counters are stuffed with elixirs promising to make everyone skinny and half of the smoking population are walking around with grimaces whilst subtly getting a whiff of the hard stuff. Inspiring masterclasses are being staged to help you emerge into 2017 like a zen butterfly casting off all the bad habits of a lifetime, the shops are trying to convince you that you need to by half priced Christmas gift sets and the office biscuit tin is suspiciously empty - especially considering no-one will go near it.

No, I'm only kidding - there isn't anything wrong with starting the year with a fresh face and a positive 'tude to make this year the best ever. It's why we love our travel linkup to begin with dreams & wish lists for the year ahead - not only are we inspired by some amazing destinations but love discovering a few of the stories we may have missed.

Unfortunately I definitely broke several, if not all of my 2016 resolutions (so much for being publicly culpable) including the very domestic thou shalt not use the laundry hamper lid as a shelf - though I'm proud of lasting at least the month of January with that one. The team at CheapFlights commissioned me, wanting to suggest a few exotic destinations to break my New Year's resolutions in (they clearly know me too well).

But first, to set a few resolutions.

5 January 2017

A Birthday Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park REVIEW

Food history and the inherent psychology has always intrigued me. Why do we reach for certain flavours when we're happy, and avoid foods that have bad memories attached, thereby creating our own personal history maps? As a child I can clearly remember the alluring smell of my Dad bringing home fish and chips on dull afternoons (don't judge me ok?) and the taste of my Aunt's Jaffa Slice always conjures Summertime Christmases - to the extent that I had the recipe sent over to the UK as soon as I had a big enough kitchen to cook in (and obviously put in a request every time I go home for Christmas).

Take this to another level, and the recipes of yesteryear can't help but evoke the society that it comes from. (Let's take a moment here to consider the current crisp sandwich pop-up and freakshake generation. What will our descendants think?) Heston Blumenthal has taken this level of thought up into the gastronomic stratosphere and donning his trademark specs, he and his team have developed a decidedly unique approach to developing dishes both at the eponymous Fat Duck in Bray, and the glamorous Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

Heston Blumenthal Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Luxury Gastronomy Dinner Adventures of a London Kiwi
Heston Blumenthal Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Luxury Gastronomy Dinner Adventures of a London Kiwi

It's probably no surprise that dining at the two Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was on my birthday shortlist (it almost was the venue for the #KiwiSpoon birthday extravaganza but sadly had to be delayed with restaurant refurbishment works and our trip to the States) but 6 or so weeks later a leisurely lunch with one of my favourite Kiwis was set in stone and all I had to do was patiently (well, mostly) wait for the day to roll around. Who says that birthdays have to be only 24hours? Beginning with cocktails as the best dinners do, we settled in for an afternoon of indulgence.

3 January 2017

Gods Own Junkyard, Walthamstow

"This train will be terminating at Walthamstow. Please, Mind The Gap"

With years of listening to Victoria Underground line announcers call out this village name, and never quite having a good reason to stay on all the way to the end of the track (even by accident, which is a genuine London miracle) one day this Christmas break we found ourselves whistling out to Walthamstow with a spare afternoon and a hankering for something slightly different.

Alternative things to do in London God's Own Junkyard Adventures of a London Kiwi
Alternative things to do in London God's Own Junkyard Adventures of a London Kiwi

Turning out of the station and passing the historic buildings of old Walthamstow village (thanks to Jaime's recommendations we already want to revisit and explore a little more) we began to wander as all intrepid explorers armed with the internet do.

1 January 2017

Travel memory wishlists and plans for 2017 - January #Travellinkup

Really, the only difference between the 31st of December and the 1st of January is only a ticking movement of a clock's second hand and the boom of explosives lighting up the air but it feels so poignant, so heavy with expectation that we all feel the need to mark it some way, as if we will be new people as soon as that hand judders to a stop.

Happy New Year! It's the next year of our lives. Let's make it memorable!

The boy and I have never really all out celebrated New Years - we don't fancy shelling out extra for overhyped, packed bars heaving with merrymakers, we don't really set resolutions and we have occasionally just gone to bed early or lost ourselves in a movie overlapping the years.