14 July 2014

Hello from bonnie Edinburgh!

Its amazing to be here during "summer" and im having a gret time. Even todays typically Scottish weather only served to add a bit of an authentic air to my tour of the West Highlands, castles and lochs ;) Cant wait to share more with you but for now im off to bed to rise early to search for the loch ness monster for another tour tomorrow so here is little taste of what I have been up to in Edinburgh and Scotland so far to keep you company till the next installment of my adventures in Scotland!

Edinburgh Castle in the sun

Love the name of this pub on the Grassmarket

Couldnt agree more!

For Monty Python fans

Just beautiful!

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10 July 2014

Sir John Soane's Museum

Imagine a Victorian terrace in the centre of London that looks on to a leafy green square. If your not paying attention you could easily pass right by this hidden London gem. It looks like all the other houses on the street - except for the line outside.

The Sir John Soane's Museum is one of London's more unique museums, and one of my favourites. I initially visited quite a few years ago and was blown away with what was hidden inside its normal exterior. Egyptian Sarcophagus, shelves of books, a Monks parlour, the clever picture room and more.

Last Tuesday I decided to go back for a visit during their monthly candlelit evenings. Walking into the front room again, the glow of the candles bouncing of the mirrors and glass cabinets overflowing with leather bound books, for a moment it was as though id stepped back in time.

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Derry Moore
About the Museum

Sir John Soane was the son of a bricklayer who became a distinguished architect. He designed and built 12, 13, 14 Lincon's Inn Fields. Number 13 was home to his architectural designs, artifacts and antiquities which he cultivated into an impressive collection during his lifetime. "He established the house as a museum by Act of Parliament (1833) requiring that his romantic and poetic interiors be kept as they were at the time of his death." - soane.org

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Lewis Bush
For a first visit, I'd recommend going during daytime opening hours as its easier to see Soane's collection and clever use of mirrors to light different rooms than it is by candlelight. My favourite part of the house is the picture room, make sure you visit and stick around for the demo - that's all I'm saying. There is a current project to reinstate Soane’s own bedroom, bathroom, oratory, book passage and Model Room and Mrs Soane’s Morning Room so soon enough there will be even more to see.

By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum by Derry Moore

Visiting Sir John Soane's Museum
  • Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm
  • Free entry :)
  • The candlelight openings occur on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 6pm though the line outside starts forming much earlier.
  • No photography is allowed.
  • Try not to take any bulky or big bags with you.
  • Closest tube station is Holborn
  • Full address 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP

Have you found a hidden gem in London?

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07 July 2014

How do you blog?

I'm curious, how do you blog?

Everyone has a style that works for them and we all occasionally hit a lull, rut or a bout of writers block. I want to know, what do you do to keep yourself motivated? Do you write when inspiration hits or do you have a set routine? Where do you write? At home, in bed, kitchen table, or a sneaky moment at work? Do you spend hours on your photos? I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours ;) 

Actually, I figure, I have me some lovely bloggers through this blog and each comes across differently through their blogs, as well as each telling me at one point or other of life getting in the way (been there!). I'm going to share what I do and I'd love it if you commented (or wrote your own post and shared the link) to tell me what you do.


So, how do I blog?

I usually *try* to post Mondays and Thursdays though, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes I have a list of topics sitting in my drafts to prompt me and other times I have something interesting I've done recently I cant wait to share with you. Having a schedule has made me feel guilty if I've missed a post, but also, not having a schedule used to make me lazy and not get anything done at all!

If  the post is about something I've done, I usually start with the photos. This takes most of my time, selecting, editing and watermarking my images. I don't always use all of them, it usually depends on what I write. My Holland Park had about 50 photos that were eventually whittled down to 12. How do I write? I tend to get writers block quite a lot. Sometimes I need to leave a post if its not working and go back to it later, find a different angle that interests me and that usually does the trick.


I'm a night owl, most of my posts are written at night, usually with the TV going in the background while I sit on the ground in front of my laptop which, in turn, sits on the coffee table. Other times, when I have writers block, I type up the beginning of a post on my mobile phone, usually on my way to meet friends or something that requires me to hop on a train.

When life gets in the way, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. I find that reading through some of my favourite blogs tends to help. Failing that, I like walking London for inspiration or doing something new and different that I'd love to write about.

Is there anything else you'd like to know? What do you do?

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03 July 2014

Royal Courts of Justice Tour, London

Beeps, clattering and quiet voices echo as people file through the security screening at the entrance and into the grand hall. It's sandstone walls and mosaic floors illuminated by the large Gothic arched windows.

A sign across from me says "This Grade 1 listed building is one of the largest wonders of Gothic revival architecture in England." 

I feel under dressed and out of place in my grey trousers and black t-shirt while everyone else around me is in suits or formal wear. Oh well, at least I don't stick out too much I think, join my tour group and hand our guide, Brian, a tenner.

I'm in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They are open to the public to freely go in during the weekday and even sit in on hearings. Also, if you are interested, there is an exhibition of Legal Dress which includes robes, wigs and other paraphernalia. As I'm always on the hunt for different things to do in London, last week I decided to give the courts a try and found it to be such an interesting insight into the legal system.

Whats interesting about the Royal Courts of Justice?

The Royal Courts of Justice were built to merge the number of smaller courts dotted around London. The location was on a site of slums housing 4250 people in only 343 houses.

Some very interesting and public trials have taken place here. For example, Pal McCartney and Heather Mills divorce case was heard here, the Spice Girls were sued for breach of contract. The halls and courts have also seen David Beckham, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and JK Rowling. And some very serious judicial reviews take place here like Euthanasia and the right to die.

What to see

The Great Hall
Costume Gallery
Painted Room
Bear Garden (not actually a garden)

Other information about the courts

To find the architect, a competition was held and, a then unknown architect named George Street won but died a year before its completion. His son completed the building. The site is now home to 100 court rooms, 150 judges and over 100 staff. Of the 100 court rooms there are 19 that are original and designed differently to each other. Court room 4 is the largest and the best and where the Lord Chief Justice presides.

Visiting the Royal Courts of Justice

The courts are located on the Strand in central London. Closest tube stations are Temple, Blackfriars, Holborn, Chancery Lane. Opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm. The courts generally sit from 10.30am till 4.30pm with a short adjournment between 1pm and 2pm for lunch on weekdays. You can visit on your own or do a tour. Tours are £10/£12, run at 11am or 2pm and can be booked by emailing Brian on rcjtours@talktalk.net. You will undergo a security check so be prepared. Also note that photography inside is not permitted.

What do you think about seeing something like this when travelling?

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30 June 2014

Favourite Travel Photo #Linkup

The lovely ladies Kelly, Emma and Rebecca are at it again, this time they seeking to peek into our photo archives for our favourite travel photos. My last linkup was a couple of months ago, having missed a few purely due to life pressures and being at a loss as to what to write about. This time however, the moment I read the theme, a photo popped into my minds eye.

New York City - Top of the Rock
I love this photo. It was taken by my friend J and I confess that it was totally staged. BUT, that day, there was a reflective moment which could have mirrored that photo. It was the end of my first trip to New York which had been entirely surreal; from finding myself in the middle of Grand Central Terminal to picnicking in Central Park, to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, to seeing the Statue of Liberty. It felt so whirlwind that I had to stop and simply take in where I was, really absorb it, appreciate it and remember it. And that's what this photo is for me. A bitter sweet moment, on the cusp of leaving New York but loving the magic of being there those few days.

I have so many other photos that are favourites so I might do a separate post where I share one favourite photo from each destination. What do you think?

Before I go, here is another favourite. It was taken in 2005, my very first day in London. Ever. You can tell a lot by my smile. And I still have that guidebook!

What is your favourite travel photo?

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27 June 2014

Enter the world of Temple Studios

Photo by Pari via NT

There is darkness...

A nervous excitement...

The labyrinth of the studios swallows my friends...

I am alone.

Or am I?

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26 June 2014

Liebster Blog Award

Well I'm tickled pink that Kelly from Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes has nominated me for Liebster Award. Its a very humble award given by blogger to bloggers and is sort of a "chain letter" but it means a lot to me. Its a way for bloggers to give their favourite blogs a big warm virtual hug. There is no "official" award, no judging panel, just warm and fuzzies from someone who reads your blog, and why the heck not? Show me a blogger that doesn't care about their readers and I'll not only show you a pig flying, but a cat sitting on top of it, along for the free ride (seriously, cats will sit on anything!)

Anyway, the rules (nicked from Kelly's blog as I'm new to all this!) are as follows:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator
  • Nominate some other blogs you love for the award and let them know about it
  • Create 10 questions for them to answer

So, without further ado, here are my answers to Kelly's 10 questions:

What’s your best tip for exploring London?

Tough one. It depends on how much time you have and what you want to see. If your short on time and its your first trip, the hop-on, hop-off London sightseeing tour is a good start. If you have been here a while I'd say, walk! Take the path less travelled, go down a road you haven't been before and another and another, you find the most amazing places that way.

What is the one souvenir you always pick up on all your travels?

Bit of an odd one this, but I always try to find a unique pair of earrings. I loved the star and moon earrings I bought in Istanbul. Failing that, I like picking up prints (photos or paintings) of my destination.

If you could travel with one person – who would it be and why? 

If I'm not doing a solo trip to recharge, I'd take my friend J. Ive travelled with other friends and I love them all but some drove me up the wall within a couple of days. J is brilliant (read, least annoying LOL), we are usually on the same wavelength, I like how he sees the world and totally envy his language skills and ability to make the most dour-faced check in attendant laugh.

What’s the one destination you would return to every year if you could?

Hmm...Tokyo. Or Santorini. New York. Or, if I wasn't living in London, London.

What’s your favourite city break destination so far in Europe?

Athens -  its a slightly longer trip for a city break but its the perfect escape from London. I love the food, people, climate, vibe. When I was there last year, I was completely surprised by it.

How many pairs of shoes do you take on your travels with you?(Just checking if I travel too light when it comes to shoes)

It depends on where I'm going and how long but usually 2 pairs. Sneakers and something a little nicer (eg sandals/boots)

What’s your most embarrassing travel story?

It'd have to be throwing up in a light aircraft during a flying lesson in Boston. I was so mortified I went all shades of red...and green.

As you lovely ladies are all expats; what’s the one thing that every traveller should buy before leaving your home country?

Hmm...I cant think of a "thing" really. Most people would say Tim Tams or a boomerang but I think the best thing you can take with you is the memory of a beautiful day at the beach.

For London, I'd say Digestives, or a waving Queen. Kidding. I'd say anything that will remind you of that moment that made you pinch yourself when you are here. Personally, I like the prints of London's Big Ben.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?


What’s your favourite thing about blogging?

Meeting some amazing people and making new friends. Its a surprising bonus :) Plus finding some truly great blogs to read.

My Nominations

Elaine from Happy Ever After Bride - Elaine is a lovely lifestyle blogger from Sydney who recently relocated to London. Her blog is great for foodies and I enjoy reading her restaurant reviews because they are honest and fair. I also enjoy her travel posts for her unique perspective and foodie tips. Ive had the pleasure of meeting Elaine in person and she is the sweetest thing!

Jess from Jess in Belgium - Jess is a lovely American lady who has recently moved to London from Belgium. Her blog reads as though she's just having  chat with you and her post about smuggling a cat into the UK had me laughing and cringing at the same time. She is another blogger I have met in person and has a great sense of humour and knack for story telling. She also makes a mean Red Velvet cake.

Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi - I just love reading her blog and always find out about something new to explore in London or interesting story behind a landmark. I still want to go see the elfin tree in Kensington Park! In person, Emma is just lovely, full of energy, laughter and ease. She makes you feel like you have been friends for ages.

Sammy from To The Days Like This - Sammy is the place for no holds barred travel stories, perspectives and is great for laughs. Writing about travel and the ups and downs of living and growing in London. She is a true blue Aussie with an amazing zest for life.

Mandy from Emm in London - Mandy's blog is the place I go for something different. And it never disappoints, in fact I owe her a great Sunday of foodie delight thanks to her post about the Ropewalk Markets. She is one of the bloggers I follow but im yet to meet. But I hope to remedy that soon over a coffee.

Ladies, your questions are:

  1. What is your favourite thing about London?
  2. What is a destination that gave you the most unexpected pleasure?
  3. What do you miss about home?
  4. Is there anything you cannot live without while travelling?
  5. Describe a perfect day for you.
  6. Share a link to your favourite post.
  7. What makes you happy?
  8. If money was no object, what would you do? Where would you live?
  9. Tell us something people would be surprised to find out about you.
  10. What is your favourite thing that has come from blogging?

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