August 2013

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2013.

It has been such a crazy fortnight. I can barely catch my breath and focus on one single memory, as I’ve crammed so much in that I’m still reeling. First up, I had a wedding back home in Yorkshire for my friend Jenny. It was the most magical setting I’ve ever been to, the ceremony took place in the ruins of Bolton Abbey with the rolling hills of the dales creating a dramatic backdrop. I LOVE her husband (he bought me Ghostbusters 2 on DVD, which means he has a piece of my heart for the rest of time) so it was a privilege to witness them starting their happily ever after together. Nick also made the perfect dashing date, and even got up on the dance floor! Jenny was such a gracious bride, and I nearly fell over when she informed me that the gingerbread “brides” on their baked-goods table at the reception were ones she had just “whipped up” that morning? The anti-Bridezilla.

photo 1

photo 2

Wedding-season continued last week, as I boarded a flight to Belfast for another friends Pauline & Andrew’s wedding. Again it was an honour to be invited to her hometown for a really intimate celebration with friends and family. I arrived as a bit of a gooseberry, knowing no-one except the couple, and left with a phone full of phone numbers of new friends and promises to visit soon. In one of the best wedding-guests treats I’ve ever heard of, to transport us from the church to the reception venue, Pauline had hired a Belfast City Tour Bus! We got a bespoke tour of the Titanic Quarter, which despite visiting Belfast more times than I can count on my hands, I have never actually been to. The reception was so much fun and felt so personal; with the first dance being to drum n bass! I spent a little over 24 hours in total in Belfast and am already itching to go back to explore some more. In the precious time I did have, I met up with two of my all-time favourite blogging babes Claire aka French for Cupcake and Sarah aka Sarah Kane. We’ve all known each other for nearly a decade from our early internet days on Livejournal through to Twitter now, and nothing could beat getting to give them a proper hug and chat face to face over a coffee.

photo 1[1]

photo

photo 1[1]

photo 2[1]

photo 3

On my flight home I was sat between James Nesbitt (!) and the tour manager for Leftfield, which made for an interesting conversation as we juddered through some stomach churning clouds. I had a huge rush of emotions and excitement as we bumped back down into Heathrow, as the next time I step foot on a plane it will be a one-way journey to Venezuela and the start of an entirely new chapter in my life! Talking of which… my new travel blog home is:

TWENTYSOMETHING BURNOUTS

Make sure you either email subscribe to get my updates direct to your inbox (fill in your details on the right hand bar) or add my blog to your Bloglovin’, reader, bookmarks or favourites to follow the adventure. I am a total travel newbie (and a bit of a princess) so it should be amusing rather than envy-inducing, I promise. We are hoping that with Nick’s male/travel fiend Vs my female/travel rookie perspectives on everything we experience – we will be offering something new to a pretty saturated travel blog market. Thanks to Katie who designed our Wes-tastic map-alicious chunk of the internet. Also, if you like what you see, please please share the blog. Tweet about it, send it to your friends, add it to your blogroll or links. We really want to provide an honest review of some incredible parts of the world and to do that we need as much exposure as possible.

photo 3[1]

photo 4[1]

Amongst my gallivanting around to weddings, I also had my final two weeks in my current job. It’s been handover hell, with loads of my brain to download and things to check off to ensure there is a smooth transition as a new-me hasn’t been hired yet. I’ve had a farewell night out with my gal Kate (she is off to Canada soon so misses my last London week, another case of sad bad timing) where we strolled South Bank, ate everything in Wahaca, then shared a two-pint glass of “Twisted Zombie” which apparently has 12 ingredients and needs a specially trained mixologist to make. I think 90% of the ingredients were spirits judging by our precarious stagger over the Millennium bridge afterwards.

photo (17)

photo 5[1]

photo 1

photo 2

Last night I had my final farewell to Craig. We sat in the window of Thirst in Soho, it was a super humid night and a weird silvery mist was settled all around us. We drank “silly hour”£5 cocktails (including one that we both agreed tasted like “Christmas gone wrong”) then we headed to Archer Street via Tesco for one for the road aka cocktail in a can, which was ridiculous as we were only walking one block so then had to lurk in an alley way downing them. Real classy! If you ever go out in London and haven’t been to Archer Street then you’re missing out. It’s swanky looking, but don’t let appearances deceive you. This place is fromage through and through. The music isn’t just 90s, it’s song after song that makes you gasp and say I REMEMBER THIS whilst simultaneously discovering you know every word to every lyrics. Highlights were definitely No Scrubs, Shine… shine like a star oooh shining so bright like the star that you are…, shake shake shake senora and Quit Playin’ Games With My Heart. The reason I really love it there though is that no one is pretentious. You look around and are greeted with a sea of smiling cheery cheeks as everyone indulges in their own tipsy nostalgia trip. No scowl or head-to-toe judgement looks here. We roamed through the night falling into bed at 2am and this morning we hugged in the pouring rain and now the next time I see Craig will be in Guatemala in 2014… Um, eek.

photo 1 (19)

photo 2 (19)

I can’t lie, I’m feeling pretty weird right now. I’ve quit my job and I’m teetering on the edge of the biggest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I keep getting these waves of being about to cry, followed by a huge sense of freedom (such as deleting my work email from my phone FOREVER) and everything in between; rattles of nerves, cold sweat night panics, bursts of excitement, delirious happy… On Monday I go back to Yorkshire for a whole week of family and friend time which I think it just what I need to stop being quite so nutty. 

I think from then I need to focus more on writing and content for TwentySomething Burnouts. You may notice a dwindle over here, so just make sure you subscribe over there and then you won’t miss anything.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Every year, my dear friend Craig and I have our annual day trip. It used to be a tradition with our “team 3 is the magic number” magical third Ali (here we are in Eastbourne, here we are in the Isle of Purbeck) but now she is living it up being an arty boss lady in Winnipeg so we have to maintain the tradition and just imagine she’s along for the ride (although it’s never quite the same).

Year in, year out, we start the debate early about where on earth to go. Usually there are zip cars and mix CDs involved (a particular highlight was listening to “Go West” on repeat as we drove to Dorset…) but this year we needed somewhere we could easily travel to by train from London which narrowed the options down to an easy selection. In the end, we opted for Rye & Camber Sands. I’ve been to Rye briefly, during a wintery weekend away to Winchelsea, but I just skirted the edges for a hot chocolate before sneaking back to the warmth of my beautiful rented cottage. I’ve been keen to return ever since, then the coastal Camber Sands was a whole new discovery for both of us. The adventure really started in London, as to venture to Rye you catch the HIGH SPEED train from St Pancras to Ashford (then change onto a little rickety local train to whisk you to Rye). The high speed train whooshes through all the Eurostar tunnels, so that + pan au chocolats & sugary mochas was the perfect giddy solution to waking us up on our early morning start to the 2013 day trip.

photo 3[2]

photo 3[1]

photo 2[1]

Rye is a chocolate-box, quintessentially quaint British town. These are just a handful of beautiful buildings we pottered past as we explored the cobbled streets and nosied in a few shops packed with that kind of useless but gorgeous vintage tat that we both could spend a fortune on; vintage coastal seaside postcards, ladybird learn to read books, bird print pinnies… The church in Rye has a tower that you can pay £2.50 to climb to to top of and apparently take in a panoramic view. I wanted to save my money for cockles and whelks (!) but it’s worth hunting out if you do visit. There is also Rye castle, which at £4 again we gave a miss as we were short on time and funds, but it was fun to explore even just the outside. Rye is bursting with wild flowers and pastel colours and nautical niceties and we were gasping and instagramming around every corner! It doesn’t get much prettier than this.

photo 4[1]

photo 4

photo 1[1]

A helpful, very cut-glass accented lady in the Tourist Information office (handily housed inside ANOTHER cute trinkets shop) gave us the knowledge we have woefully failed to Google/sort out during the week which was; is it possible to walk to Camber Sands. The answer was yes (phew!) lucky since our whole day revolved around some seaside action. Saying that, I think you could easily spend a day in Rye if you didn’t want to take in the sea air. To get to Camber Sands you can either walk along a very easy to navigate cycle path, or there is a bus every 2-hours (this ain’t London!) between Rye and Camber Sands which you could wait for. We were told the walk would take us 45 minute but it was more like 1 hour 30 minutes and that’s trotting at London pace. I would really recommend the walk though, as it takes you past the Rye harbour, through some sheep-filled meadows, out into wildflower wilderness and then eventually into the sand dunes. Craig wasn’t too sure about the sheep, mind. How is he going to cope with the creatures when he visits us in Guatemala..?

photo 5[1]

photo 5[2]

photo 1[2]

photo 3

I have no idea what I expected from Camber Sands. I know it’s where All Tomorrow’s Parties hold (held, sniff) their festivals and I thought the name sounded very tropical. As we approached, vast sand dunes towered in the distance and this made me happy as I love a proper sandy beach over prickly pebbles any day. The first place we passed was the Pontins holiday camp – which has certainly seen better days. I would have actually thought it was derelict from the state of the dusty old signs, creaking gates and dilapidated apartment blocks… but then we saw some kids running about in an empty swimming pool so I am assuming it’s still open. This theme of the glory days being long gone, runs through the centre of Camber Sands. It definitely has seen better days and I imagine in years gone by it would have been one of the ultimate coastal destinations. I love the rickety signs, the old-fashioned shops and the ghosts of what might have been, it feels like going back in time in a way.

photo 5

photo 4[3]

photo 1[3]

photo 4[2]

It is NOT a proper chippeh unless there is one of these fish wall-charts on the wall. I remember the one in the fish & chip shop back home was even laminated! We’re classy like that in Bradford. Clutching our bags of cod and chips we marched off towards the beach. The beach was beautiful, but absolutely heaving with families and kids and swimmers and surfers and sun worshippers. Wanting to snatch a bit of calm to eat in peace and people-watch, we staggered up one of the sand dunes. We perched at the top and inhaled our feast barely stopping for air, then lay back and watched the seagulls swooping and the kites dancing from the beach below.

photo[1]

photo 5[3]

photo 3[3]

photo 1[4]

In case you can’t quite make it out, the carrier bag claims Fish & Chips are “The healthiest meal for all the family”! All that batter and friedness ey? Not quite sure this is Ofcom approved. After a poke around the tourist tat shop and resisting buying a bucket and spade (I don’t think I’ll really need one on the Amazon) we decided to get the bus back to Rye. We walked back through the residential areas which had some sweet little cottages and every garden was teaming with flowers, butterflies and kitsch decorations. We were planning to just head straight to the town centre and have a cuppa in a tearoom before catching the train. However, from the top deck of the bus, we spotted some sort of festival happening on the harbour so raced off the bus to investigate instead.

photo 2[3]

It turns out we had just stumbled across the annual Rye Maritime Gala! Which consisted of stalls, food stands, tombolas, a local band murdering Mumford & Sons (!) and the best bit of all.. a group of pirates singing sea shanties. We treated ourselves to 99’s, although I dropped mine in the dirt after two bites. Is there anything sadder!

photo

The gala was such a perfect end to a glorious day trip. I can’t recommend the Rye/Camber Sands combination enough, especially if you’re based in London and need an escape. We both felt like we’d had an actual holiday, it’s amazing what a combination of sea air, sandy chips and sunshine can do for the soul.

I noticed that Craig features in the last two blog posts, hello five minutes of fame! I’m really going to miss his face whilst I’m on the other side of the world. We are having our farewell night out tonight (as he goes on holiday this weekend and isn’t back until I have left London, what sad bad timing!) and accidentally ruined it by gatecrashing a media party at Soho house and drinking the free bar on empty stomachs. I’m a very special shade of green today as a result.

photo 2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in November 2011, I was having a blog sabbatical, and never wrote about the American road trip I took. After hearing about the Travel Supermarket Holiday Postcards Competition, I thought it was the perfect excuse to squeeze my eyes shut and revisit those balmy days, endlessly winding roads and hours stretched with my legs up on the dashboard zooming through California.

photo 2[3]

Dates: 2nd – 10th November 2011

Location: Route 101, California

Stop-Offs: San Francisco > San Luis Obispo  > Los Angeles

After a few days exploring San Francisco, my road trip buddy Craig and I were ready to hit the road and headed out to pick up our trusty hire car, which we would be clocking up many miles and hours inside. As I haven’t driven for five years we thought this might not be the moment to re-start, so Craig took the bold role as chief chauffer, with me as official navigator. Considering it usually takes me mere seconds on a country lane before I’m feeling queasy, and the fact that I once had to be rescued by a park warden when I got lost trying to pass my “Brownies” orienteering badge, the prospect of me negotiating us across the American wild West coast was a little ambitious. Stocked up on travel sickness tablets, with a map three times the size of myself, I tried to repeat the mantra to myself “It’s only a straight road, it’s only a straight road” as I instantly got us stuck in the San Francisco one-way loop.

photo 4

photo 3

After an hour of Craig asking… “Are we STILL in San Francisco” I managed to get us out of the city and the fog, and safely onto Route 101. Almost immediately the terrain began to transform around us. It’s the American cliche but we both had that instant sense of being in a movie. I extended my official job description to Head DJ, finding a radio station that played nothing except California themed tunes! Think California Dreamin’, California Soul, California Girls… which made for the perfect soundtrack as we wound down the windows and snaked towards the seemingly never-ending horizon of big blue sky.

photo 3[3]

photo 1[2]

Something that surprised me about the trip, was the shifting scenery as we travelled further south. What started with glorious picture-perfect beaches, transformed into the towering pine forests of Big Sur, and then into the… what can only be described as total desolation as we left Santa Cruz. Now, like smart road tripp-ers, we had filled up a tank full of gas before we embarked on our day of driving. However we hadn’t exactly accounted for my navigating us for an hour in lost-ville therefore burning through a quarter of it before even hitting the highway. On our first few hours of driving we had regularly passed other cars, trucks, bikes and every beach or vista had at least a handful of happy looking holiday makers taking snaps and gazing out to sea. As we zoomed onwards towards Elkhorn Slough National Research Reserve we both noted that it had been miles since we had seen another living being. The outside world began to take on an almost post-apocalyptic veneer, with derelict shacks, burn out buildings and gravelly verges. In typical b-movie fashion, the quantity of road kill spiked and we even had to edge around some sort of deer carcass at one point. I started to feel increasingly anxious to be back in the land of the living, when a flashing red light on the dashboard caught my eye. I was almost scared to look but my worst fears were realised when I saw the petrol gauge needle was quivering in the EMPTY section.

Beatles of sweat ran down my spine as I desperately scooped my hand into my tote bag and rescued my iPhone. Yup, no signal. Not a bar. Not even emergency calls only. This is how all horror movies begin! We drove on in total silence, our recent giddy singing and constant chat replaced with an eerie quiet. We now know this was because we were both desperately praying, wishing and envisioning something would appear in the distance to rescue us; as by now another juddery mile had passed and the only noise was our grumbling tummys (oh and me jiggling around in my seat because I needed the toilet). The tension in the car only increased when we passed a sign that made it perfectly obvious the next town wasn’t for another 32 miles. The panic and midday sunshine meant the car was now uncomfortably hot, and I think we were both aware we didn’t even have a bottle of water between us (rookie error!) Then suddenly… in the distance we saw a building…

photo

The cheer that erupted from us both could probably be heard at both ends of Route 101. The mysterious building turned out to be a gas station, clam-chowder restaurant, public restrooms, local shop AND whale watching spot! I think we actually sat pinching ourselves for a moment before daring to enter, convinced it must be a mirage. Luckily it wasn’t, and we could stock up all the sensible things we should have packed for our trip; water, snacks, a blanket, torch… a SPARE can of petrol! With bellies full of chowder and smiles on our faces once more, the trip transformed from The Hills Have Eyes to Disney on route from Montery. Firstly, American Eagles became a regular sight, swooping in and out of our path. We were mid-Katy Perry croon-along when something silenced us. A beach we had whizzed past looked different to the other sandy havens we had become accustomed to. I nudged Craig and said that I had an instinct that perhaps we should turn back and take a look, and boy am I glad we did. Little did we know that we had nearly bypassed Piedras Blancas – a beach in the heart of Big Sur that for 3 months of the year becomes home to a colony of Elephant Seals. Creaking out of the car and running down to the sand, we could really take in the magnitude of hundreds of seals in various positions; sun bathing, spooning… waving! It was a truly humbling experience and one that we could hardly bear to tear ourselves away from.

photo 4[3]

photo 5[2]

Still reeling from our close encounter, we couldn’t believe our weary eyes when next we passed a field filled with zebra, racing along beside the road. To this day I can’t find any explanation on Google (which usually answers all my weird questions!) as to why they were there, but it did have us seriously expecting to see unicorns next, as every experience seemed to be trumping the last! It wasn’t quite unicorns, but as we drove into San Luis Obispo, this welcomed our arrival…

photo 2[1]

We spent the night in San Luis Obispo, which basically involved eating as many oversized American snacks as possible (the ones you grow up watching kids in movies eat at sleepovers!) and managing a few pathetic sips of an oversized beer, before both passing out as our next day on the road had one goal; GET THE HECK TO LA! And that’s what we did; with no more hairy near-breakdowns or menagerie of animals for company.

photo 1[1]

We only had one short day to “do” Los Angeles so we mostly stuck to the typical must-sees. Also note, my theme dressing knew no-bounds on this holiday, as I braved a pair of American flag hot pants! We began with the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was a really entertaining way to explore Hollywood Boulevard. As we passed between Alfred Hitchcock and Dr Seuss, there was a break in the buildings lining the street and suddenly, over the top of a chain-link gate, appeared THE sign! Seeing it in real-life for the first time I don’t think anyone can prepare you for. Whatever your feelings on Hollywood, you can’t help but feel a surge of excitement and I’m really here elation. My response was to grab Craig in a bear hug, jump around screeching and point at it yelling LOOK! LOOK! – At my very uncool reaction, a man walking past stopped and explained how he had lived in LA for over a decade but never tired of witnessing people’s first reactions to the Hollywood sign. He said it was incredible how quickly you just get used to it living there, so it was important to be reminded of just how special it is.

photo 3[1]

By this stage the road trip bug had well and truly bitten, and we started to feel withdrawal when separated from the sticky pleather car seats and pine air freshener tag! So we hopped back in our adventure-mobile and drove out to Santa Monica, to experience a legitimate Hollywood beach and take in a last Californian sunset; which I must stress look exactly like the cover of a 90s pop CD or Global Hypercolour tee-shirt! Santa Monica not only has a stunning beach, lined with pastel painted (million dollar, celebrity dwelling) beach houses but it has a pier that dates back to 1909… although hopefully they have refurbished the fairground rides a little since then!

photo 4[1]

photo 1

photo 5

photo 4[2]

photo 5[1]

After a drive up Mulholland Drive, to take in the vista of the twinkling night-lights of LA, we faced our last meal in Los Angeles, and America in general. We decided to sample a local Mexican restaurant that had been recommended by a friend. The food couldn’t be faulted; guacamole made fresh at your table, heaving bowls of refried beans and steaming plates of fajita mountains. Our whole trip had been done on a reasonably tight budget, so as one last blow-out we decided to both opt for a cocktail with dinner. I still to this day have no idea what possessed us, but on the menu was something called a Larger-ita. A mixture of Mexican beer and tequila, with herbs and spices. I can still remember the look of shock on the waiter’s face as we merrily ordered two. This should have probably rung alarm bells, but smugly content with our choice, we accepted the tankards of cocktail with glee. As we put our lips to the salt-lined rim and took a large chug… our eyes bulged and our throats tightened.. but after a gulp that turned us both green, we both said “mmm delicious”. We were both too embarrassed to admit it was the single most disgusting thing we had ever tasted and only confessed after we had both stubbornly tried to drink half of it and felt our stomachs start to churn!

photo 2

We ended the night with a glass of tap water at our hotel pool (and mutual regrets at our wasted last dollars on the largerita-gate!) comparing memories of the holiday and dipping our feet into the warm water. I would recommend this holiday to absolutely anyone, especially someone who’s never visited the USA before, as it provides the opportunity to take in so many different terrains, areas and cultures. The Route 101 is an easy drive, and one that you can make last for anything up to a week depending on how many stops you take – although we did it in a snappy two day driveathon as we wanted to spend extended time in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Thank you to Travel Supermarket for prompting me to re-live this amazing holiday and yknow what? I enjoyed this one so much I am actually taking Nick to re-drive it in reverse next March and stopping in all the little towns we passed through and didn’t get chance to explore. So look out for the sequel… where we definitely won’t run out of gas!

photo 3[2]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I first fell in love with vintage shops when I spent a summer in the Kensington Market area of Toronto, where every alley is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, dresses, bags & shoes, all pre-loved and with past adventures seeping from every stitch. I have an overactive imagination, so I love to imagine who has previously had their head turned by the item I’m buying and where it was worn and what happened to the person wearing it. Then I try to imagine under what circumstances they surrendered the item up to be sold on (… sold on to me!). I still love a lurk around a vintage store, but for me it is something that needs a lazy afternoon dedicated to it. Rummaging through racks and heaps of items is not something that can be rushed, and the best gems always seem to be the most well hidden.  For this reason most of my shopping is done online (I should have shares in ASOS basically) because I barely have time to be surgically separated from my laptop during the week and the thought of clicking my mouse a couple of times Vs queuing up in a sticky Oxford St shop always wins.

photo 1[1]

For this reason I did a little yelp of joy when one of the lovely ladies behind Brag Vintage emailed me about their new online Vintage shop. Pre-loved goods? Check! Easy online order? Check! It’s the best of both worlds. Brag Vintage are based in Sheffield, and having lived there for a year when I was 18 I have fond memories of weekly trips to The Forum to spend my ever expanding overdraft on trinkets. After a meandering trip through the various sections of the Brag Vintage website (handily split into men/women and then into categories such as coats/jackets, tops, dresses etc) I took the plunge on a faux fur Stella jacket. I know it’s totally inappropriate for the recent spate of 30degree+ weather we are having, but summer is the BEST time to stock up on winter warmers as they are half the price of what they’ll be in a few months. Plus faux fur jackets are my achilles heel. This is the fifth in my collection, I love how versatile they are – making great practical picks as they are so snug and warm, but they are also smart enough for do’s such as parties, weddings etc.

photo 1

photo 3

photo 5

photo 4

I took my new find out for a spin in the early morning dew which is about as autumnal as it gets in London at the moment. I trotted around Golders Hill Park, which is a little-known section of Hampstead Heath and totally worth a visit. Not only is it a beautiful park, with some wild heath-forest sections to get lost in, but they have a menagerie of animals to visit including deer, donkeys and (randomly) capybara! Forgive the poses (especially the one I like to refer to as tree-flasher!) a natural fashion blogger I am not, but I did have fun prancing about as Nick played at being David Bailey. “Now look happy”! “Now look mysterious”! And hopefully you can see what a beauty this is and also in what fantastic condition it arrived in. I’d highly recommend a browse of Brag, I am already being tempted by their endless collection of gorgeous Levi cut-offs in every colour. Nothing beats the smell of memories and must that hits you when you walk into a vintage store, but this is definitely the very next best thing.

photo 3[1]

photo 2[1]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Apologies that this is basically turning into a blog where I talk about food and a tiny bit of life stuff! I’m sure you’re wondering how I haven’t eaten myself into oblivion but it’s all being balanced out by walking 5 miles into work every day which my health-logic then entitles me to eat anything and everything. (I also keep focussing on the fact that soon I’ll be climbing mountains and sweating litres in Caribbean heat) (& Not the fact that I also have to brave a bikini…)

Like most children of the 80s/90s raised on a diet of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles; I love pizza. I love it so much. I’m not really a fan of Pizza Hut and after a brief novelty-value-flirtation with Domino’s I now can’t stand it, the freaky donughty base is not the one. I like my pizza thin-crust and as authentic as possible, my favourite London pizza joint up until now has been Stingray in Tufnell Park where you can get a pizza & a beer/wine for £5.95! And the pizza is GOOD and the waitresses always play amazing songs like Tatu and Melanie C from their ipods. Stingray still has a hunk of my heart but there is a new kid on the block rivalling for my affections. I first heard about Home Slice a few weeks ago. I follow lots of wise food blogging owls on twitter and start hearing rumblings that it was well worth a look. It is located in the very picturesque Neal’s Yard, an area of central London that I really don’t go enough and so it’s nice to have a delicious excuse to visit more often. Like many of the start-up restaurants, such as Meat Liquor and Wish Bone, Home Slice started humbly – as a homebuilt mobile pizza over in London Fields. It’s lovely to support these passionate chefs and entrepreneurs as they grow and blossom. Using traditional wood fires, pizza is all they serve! But that’s not to say the menu is dull, the toppings are all mouth wateringly tempting ranging from ox-tail to bone marrow to salami to traditional Caprese. The pizza is served either by the slice (£4) or a full pizza (£20). After basing our decision to go to Home Slice purely on the novelty for being able to order by the slice NY style, we then succumbed to being piglets and ordered a whole pizza.

photo 1[1]

photo 2[1]

That is 20 inches of pure cheesy tomato delight. Home Slice is one of those laid back places where asking if we could go half-n-half on toppings was absolutely no problem. Our waitress was so enchanting and even praised us on our topping selection – mushroom, ricotta & pumpkin seeds / chorizo, corn & coriander. Upon the arrival of the 20 inch beast, we both proclaimed “oh wow, we’ll be taking home a big doggy bag”. Then we took a bite, and all concepts of doggy bags vanished as we silently troughed through the whole lot only breaking to make ridiculous movie mmmmm noises and wide eyed YUM faces at each other. It is by far the finest pizza I have ever had in my life, including the many slices I shovelled away on my trips to New York.

photo 5[1]

Most of my friends will know that my tipple of choice is Prosecco. Mainly, due to cost, I reign myself in and only drink it on special occasions and celebrations. Occasionally I cave in and order it on an average night out and get met with “celebrating something..!?” and then feel all bashful. But Home Slice clearly felt my pain and therefore they have Prosecco ON TAP. Have you every heard of such a thing? I would be such a happy (merry) person if I could have Prosecco on tap in my house. Anyway the draft-ness of it means it’s a steal at £4 a glass…another very good reason to go, chow down and chug up!

photo 3 copy

photo 4[1]

After all those inches of dough we decided we better walk home. When you have a boyfriend who’s handily your bestfriend and braintwin, you have lots of adventures even on a walk you’ve done a thousand times before. First we walked through “Sci-Fi City” (the new business development by Warren Street) and then found a door that led to nowhere. We scampered about and found a lot of things to laugh at and about, even as our legs grew weary and the sun dipped. It’s nights like this that make me extra-excited for our international adventure, as I think if we can still find a way to find a tedious walk home so sparkly then imagine what it will be like when we are roaming through rainforests and trekking through misty mountains. I’m sure we’ll have the odd “I miss London!” moment and it’ll be nights (and meals) like this that I’ll be remembering.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My work-mate/mate-mate Chloe is one of those people that always knows exactly where to go to eat. Whatever conundrum I have (eg. where do I take this client for lunch to look cool but not pretentious? where can I get Scottish square sausage in London? where can I get the best soup noodles in China town?) she has the solution. In fact she EVEN knows what to say when I have those frustrating “I’m hungry but I don’t know WHAT I WANT” moments (um, every day).

This week I have turned into a human pin-cushion. Ahead of quitting my life and travelling the world, there is a lot to be organised and one big part of that is the fifteen vaccines I need before doing things like living on a hammock on the Amazon. On Monday I had three injections in one day (two in the same spot on one side, sprouting a sad sympathy bruise) so I arrived into work with lead arms and a traumatised face and Chloe said “Huzzah! I know what you need. You need to Nordic Bakery” and she was right. It fixes all woes, including needle related sulks.

photo 5

Since discovering the Nordic Bakery I have been back more times than I can confess, and plan to camp out there on a weekly basis until I leave Soho. It’s tucked away at the back of Golden Square, so about 10min stroll from Oxford Circus, past the Carnaby Street chaos. I am already a fan of nordic food but this only really stretches to summering in Stockholm a decade ago and… Ikea. I thought I liked Cinnamon Buns, a lot, but I didn’t realise that the rest of them PALE in comparison to the Nordic Bakery Bun. Weighing about the same as an iPad (!) it’s layer after layer of flaky, sticky goodness that is the equivalent of eating a hug.

photo 1

The Nordic Bakery is dreamy for breakfast-brunching. Not only do they serve a damn fine cup of coffee (I heart Agent Cooper) they also have an array of pastries and baked goods ranging from standard pan au chocolate to the real traditional Nordic bits such as karelian pie which is a Finnish dish consisting of a crusty rye base, filled with potato or rice porridge and then topped with the most miraculous of ALL food inventions; Egg. Butter. Egg Butter. It sounds like something from the Butterflied Diet, but is an actual real thing and is as tasty as it sounds. The pies are served warm so the whole thing is a flaky, melty, buttery delight.

photo 2

photo 4

There is also a pretty good spread of lunch goods, although I haven’t sampled any yet. But they range from salmon & egg on rye to some traditional brain-busting fish combinations including gravlax, herring and salmon. The cafe itself is very aesthetically pleasing, all wooden loveliness and sleek lines and corners, and has a zen sense of calm and tranquility despite being in the heart of Soho. Oh! I also haven’t mentioned the sweet treats. There are mountainous cakes on offer, lingonberry tarts and I sampled (all in the name of afternoon-tea suitability research of course!) the oatmeal cookie which sounds potentially dull but it was a sweet sticky gooey mass of oats and nuts and dark / white chocolate heaven. The thing I actually like best is what the baristas are wearing! The denim aprons are top of my object of desire list. I think they should start selling them.

photo 3

I’ve spent the last seven years working in Soho, only moving from the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street to the Oxford Circus neighbourhood when switching jobs. It’s been the place I’ve clocked up more hours than anywhere else in my adult life and mooched in and out of doing my 9-5 (pah, 9-8 more like) thing for so long that it feels entirely surreal that in a mere 2.5 weeks I’ll no longer be a Soho socialite. Ah well, it’s a good excuse to eat and drink and sample EVERYTHING here before I leave…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I first started hearing mutterings of a “Pop-up Roller Disco” I instantly knew that at some point this summer, I’d be dragging an unsuspecting friend down to Kings Cross to re-enact Starlight Express and zoom around pretending to be a roller-waitress (my dream job as a child!). Luckily Craig was a willing participant although he didn’t crack out the short-shorts he was rocking at The Color Run, which was disappointing! We started off our Friday evening lurking around the water fountains outside Central St Martins at Kings Cross, watching a perfect sunset appear and fade above our heads as we nattered away for a few hours (considering we had some pretty big news to discuss – THANK YOU for everyones incredible responses and support and enthusiasm, it’s been very humbling and really re-enforced that I am doing the right thing)

536184_10153040441355284_530011969_n

Anyone who’s lived or visited London regularly won’t have failed to notice that King’s Cross is going under some pretty hefty renovations. Kings Cross has always been my station (all London dwellers have this, it’s just the major rail station that takes you back to your hometown and you inevitably spend hours of your life lurking in!) as it is the mouth to the north. KX has never been, I felt, the greatest welcome to London for those arriving. The journey in takes you past some grimy high rises and the slightly battered side of Caledonian Road, and previously as you burst excitedly into LONDON! from the train you would be welcomed initially by two McDonalds, a Premier Inn, an O’Neils and a world of chicken shops. There was also a whole section behind Kings Cross and on the canal that I wouldn’t have dared stray into after daylight hours. But not anymore! It’s a slow slog but now the whole area is a pleasure to visit these days and a perfect warm-welcome to the big smoke. If you haven’t headed down, add it to your to-do in London list in bold letters. There’s a wildlife reserve, a lovely bar called The Filling Station which I have yet to visit but I hear crab burgers and frozen margaritas are their speciality so it won’t be long!, the amazing water feature and a seating area onto the canal covered in fake grass… perfect for sunset reclining on.

1009812_10153040441765284_624247866_n

Skate King’s Cross is the latest “innovation” section of the redevelopment. It’s just running for eight weeks, until the 6th September and I’ll avoid making a terrible pun here about getting your skates on if you want to go. I love the concept of a summer roller rink, it’s the perfect antidote to the winter-ice-skating-withdrawal I suffer every year. Tickets are £14 for a two hour slot any time of day from 10am (which includes hire of some pretty snazzy looking pro-rollerskates, non of the cheesy smelling My Little Pony efforts from my childhood here). I think it’s better value though to go on a Friday or Saturday night though, for the disco. Tickets for this are £19 but they are 8pm-late meaning unlimited skate time and you get the added lighting and music and party atmosphere thrown in. Upon arrival we headed straight to the wheels area to get kitted out. The cloakroom is free, which is as rare as a mysterious underwater unicorn in London, and very much appreciated. (Sorry, I had to get that phrase in here somewhere, as three people have found my blog with that search-term this week. What? And… Why?!)

971704_10153040441895284_1566471011_n

1001394_10153040442120284_1482013631_n

It turns out, we are both dreadful at roller skating! We barely got from the benches to the rink without breaking something, and as we debuted onto the rink we managed to do a phenomenal falling over/clutching each other/wailing movement that sent anyone in the vicinity racing away! I could definitely roller skate as a kid so it must be a confidence thing. Even putting the breaks down seems so unnatural as you have to practically fall over to get your foot that close to the floor. But despite completely lacking in ANY talent, the enthusiasm was there as we dragged ourself around using the bars around the edge and resembled Bambi walking for the first time; all jelly legs and panicked faces. This in itself at least gave us chance to people-watch everyone else on the rink, and there were some incredibly talented skaters doing all sorts of moves (backwards, trains of people, JUMPS!) that made it really entertaining just being a sidebar saddo. After a few circuits our bravery (and humiliation) kicked in and we graduated to letting go of the edge and doing a few laps without any help. Success!

972228_10153040442400284_170361235_n

969043_10153040442600284_1460046907_n

1013999_10153040443015284_840593504_n

The skating was a lot of fun. There was the perfect amount of people on the rink, enough to feel like a party but not so many that it was intimidating for newbies and novices. The DJ played some great music, although towards the later part of the evening it turned a bit mwam mwam funkyhouse which was disappointing as really when you’re wearing neon rollerskates and zipping around under flashing lights, you may as well just go all out and have some serious cheese to shimmy to. After an hour of skating (and surviving with all limbs intact) we sloped off back to our non-wheeled footwear and headed to the bar for some of the much hyped drinks.

1001385_10153040443555284_1516586093_n

1001700_10153040443920284_1009107503_n

At the bar there is diner food from Disco Bistro N1C and a pretty good drink selection. We didn’t opt for any food, so I can’t really give it a fair review, although the piles of frozen chips on the floor didn’t exactly make the thought of eating that appealing! In a London packed with burger-competition I didn’t think the burgers looked like anything too special (especially if they are cooked from frozen too…) but at £10-£15 a pop, I’d hope they were that price for a reason. They were serving something called pig skin popcorn for £2 which we didn’t sample but is one for a peckish carnivore. The drinks were amazing though. Craig had a hard shake (vanilla ice-cream, spiced rum, banana & rum socked raisins!) and I had a Lemon Pimms Mojito as it mixes two of my favourite drinks into one… so why not. Both were massive portions, but at £10 a beaker I would need it super-size in order to not weep as I handed over my £20 for two drinks. Ouch.

943659_10153040443470284_1691676481_n

1005327_10153040443660284_1158006051_n

It was probably as much fun to watch the skating as it was participating. We spotted a few people on dates, and even got some front row action for a couples awkward first kiss (on wheels, so brave!). Again there were some amazing moves to marvel at, and the rink is staffed by a crew of VERY hot (and very lovely) “marshalls” who are mostly ladies and all in a uniform hotpants and footballs sock. They all take turns doing their thing on the rink too which is easy on the eye! I’d definitely recommend getting yourself down to Skate whilst it’s there. You may have your dreams of being an extra in Starlight Express dashed forever, but at least you can drown your sorrow in boozy milkshake. Everyone we met who worked there was so friendly and passionate and having so much fun and the whole experience made me annoyed that I don’t do more with my Friday nights usually (home from work as quickly as possible and a mug of wine in bed has been the previous two’s pattern before this excursion). Head down even if you can’t skate, or don’t think you can, as trying is part of the experience and you’re less likely to lose a finger if you fall over, than you are at the Ice Rinks!

995428_10153040443335284_1618289541_n

936498_10153040443400284_1649594356_n

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,