Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Merry Little Christmas

I hosted Christmas for the first time year for all the family - now not to be biased or anything but I must say it's been one of my favourite Christmas periods yet. Certainly my best one as an adult!

I think it was the combination of excitement and preparation leading up and having my family sleepover at the house, waking up in PJs together and sharing blankets on the sofa watching films. I made chicken and leek pie with sweet potato mash for Christmas Eve dinner and we all lent a hand on Christmas day - my beau did an orange&honey glazed gammon which was especially delicious.

Here's a merry round-up of all things festive from my Christmas week thanks to Instagram and my HTC phone camera (sadly my SLR is broken beyond repair).

 I hope you all had merry little Christmas's too and enjoy your NYE celebrations!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Getting to know you: Ednburgh, Scotland

One of my best friends and I often get whimsical and daydream about where we'd like to go and what we'd like to do to break free of the norm. One place, we both constantly gushed about wanting to visit was Edinburgh - to her surprise I booked us a little weekend away just before Christmas which was perfect timing to see all of the festivities!

Having never been further north of the UK than Norwich (for someone who's travelled the world this is shameful I know), I was excited for our short flight to Scotland and what the visit would behold.

It certainly didn't disappoint, Edinburgh had all the wonders of a city with the charm of a small town, there were single market stands selling flowers, fruit, nuts and bread with the keepers shouting cheerfully to the crowds in their Scottish accents. Plus little independent pubs and shops along the cobbled alleyways set against the main high street with the likes of YO Sushi and Harvey Nics - yet everywhere was within easy walking distance.

The local history was darling, the castle vast and well worth the trek uphill to have a nosey around. A friend who I met travelling was a local so we met for drinks at one of the three most sophisticated spots in town: Tiger Lily is a restaurant come cocktail bar with decor so beautiful it's as if you'd stepped into a James Bond movie.

Another highlight visiting at this time of year was the city's Winter Wonderland spectacle which had just opened so we had first dips to show tickets and rides (we even tried out the ice skating - with videos fit for You've Been Framed).

Our original B&B sadly let us down for both comfort and cleanliness so we soon checked out and into a lovely Holiday Inn which proved the best choice we could have made for warmth and luxury (toiletries, free Starbucks coffee and a double bed each)!

Next trip to Scotland I hope to explore out of the city and into the Scottish Highlands. Anyone been on a similar adventure, please share your must sees and dos!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Getting to know you: Reykjavik, Iceland

I've yet to be away for my birthday, I narrowly missed spending my 26th in India last year after heading home earlier than planned due to illness. It made it even more magical therefore, to spend turning 27 in the enchanting Iceland - riding Icelandic horses and soaking in the geothermal Blue Lagoon.

After a speedy two and a bit hour flight on a newly refurbished easyjet plane (more leg room) we arrived at the airport in Reykjavik with ice and snow on the ground in places. A pleasant hour transfer (the standard) to our hotel, Reykjavik Lights went quickly and we wrapped up and set off to the explore.

Being a 15 minute walk from town (a breeze on a normal day - but a marathon at zero temperatures) meant that hiring a car for a few days did us wonders. Especially as this meant we could drive through lava fields and visit the golden circle wonders ourselves - waterfalls and geysers galore.

Now, I'd heard great things about the food before I left but it really was some of the best food I'd ever eaten, a colleague who had previously been recommended the hotdog stand which has been around since the 60s and is popular with both locals and tourists alike. We ate there three times in four days it was THAT good!

We also had a delicious fish and chip supper, the best tapas I've ever eaten and pizza twice - okay so the pizza place was conveniently next door to our hotel but that wasn't the ONLY reason we loved it. Honest.

On my birthday day itself we headed off to go horse riding through lava fields and mountains on the most stunning horses - native to Iceland only. It was biting cold and at times you could only see mountains ahead for at least an hour, I felt like I was in lord of the rings. My horse was names Bless due to the white stripe mark on her nose and I felt like I connected with her, at one point even steering her to overtake and go up front due to the horse in front of us taking lazy strides.
Later we drove to Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon to swim and relax in the naturally heated geothermal lake - here we drank beers from the waterside bar and had clay mud masks. We even bumped into boy band Lawson in the que - much to my friends delight as she's a fan!
We ended the evening with drinks at Lebowski's bar in the centre of town, the best of beers, friends and a jukebox. 

Like most tourists who head to Iceland, I thought I'd be blown away by the natural phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), the signs were good for the first night we arrived - they measure the cloud activity to indicate what is likely to be a good night to spectate. We booked on the cheaper coach trip going, after all they all provide the same service, a drive out to witness a magical light show in the night sky! At 10pm, it was the coldest we'd been yet, huddled together like penguins watching the stars and waiting for any glimpses of green and purple. Hot chocolate and donuts were provided to keep us going, by midnight my gin flask was empty and my hands numb. I got back on the coach for warmth, no sooner had I sat down there was a commotion to come quick, followed by gasps and giggles, oohs and aahhs. There it was, a flicker of green across the sky, wispy and faint like a cloud. Being the novices that we were, our phone cameras were useless to capture its beauty - some American tourists next to us with SLRs and tripods set them up for selfies, jumping and squealing with delight at the results. Were they looking at the same green wisp that I was?
Later, it was explained to me that due to the distance and exposure etc the Northern Lights come out more profound on camera than in person - well that explains those magnificent pictures we've all come to see and expect as standard. On the coach ride back at 1am we were sleepy and a little disappointed, not too much mind as we did spend a night under the stars and that is always an evening well spent . Promises of a free return trip the next night were made, we decided not to go again as getting to bed so late meant missed opportunities to seize the day early in what little time we had left. If there's something I came away with it would be that sometimes we might be let down by what we think we're going somewhere to experience but actually we find other beauty and experiences that we didn't even consider. Iceland was a beautiful, special, special place, I feel like I could start a three or four day trip all over again and eat new meals and visit new sights I didn't get a chance to this time around (whale watching for one) and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Thanks to my (housemates) trusty Roxy ski jacket keeping me warm, I came home bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Weekend Style ~ ZARA at OXFAM

Thanks to the British Red Cross in Bromley for this little sweatshirt dress number - brand new with tags on from Zara. Also this brown leather handbag, which I assume is vintage and probably from a little old lady who gave up her life collection for the charity shopping cause. Praise to her.
Pics taken on my phone and sized with photo grid.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Weekend Style ~ SAMPLES

Oh the glorious feeling a Friday provides, that buzz of having 48 hours of freedom from a routine or expectation. It's one of those feelings we full time weekday workers fully grasp, the countdown can begin as early as a Monday afternoon.

I've had some glorious weekends of late: movie and game nights in, dining on mussels at Belgo's, girlie sleepovers, home furnishing shopping, baking choc chip and peanut butter cookies, leaf crunching strolls, flower market visits, lunches and coffee in Greenwich, Blackheath and Bromley not to mention browsing charity shop rails for Autumn/Winter gems.

I scored at a sample sale at work recently and bought this embellished top, pointy pumps and Diesel jeans all for less than the cost of a main meal at Pizza Express. Accompanied by my gold Vogue tote bag, a limited edition buy on the recent Vogue's Fashion Night Out in London (it came free with a years subscription).

I'm loving these Autumn days of cool air and blue skies ~ I find myself enjoying lazy mornings at home and leisurely afternoons out and about. How are you enjoying these Autumn days and where else should I let the wind take me to explore in London?