01 September 2014

A Room with a View #Linkup

A room with a view, its the icing on the travelling cake isnt it?

Most of my views while travelling have been, sadly, forgetable. A couple have been just horrible, namely a basement room looking on to a brick wall in London and a ventalation shaft in New York. But who cares about that really? Bad views dont make for compelling dreamy photos. So here are the nice, very nice, and downright jaw-dropping views i've had - feel free to daydream about the last one ;)

Most recently in Edinburgh, I had the pleasure of this lovely view.

Ive been know to rave about Japan on this blog and it comes up yet again here. I stayed in the heart of Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan.

The absolute best view i've ever has has been in Santorini, Greece. Can you blame me?

Keen to see other amazing views or share your own? Why not join the blog link up and hop over to Kelly's page to add your link and check out some other amazing posts!

What has been your favourite view while travelling?

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21 August 2014

8 Tips for Booking Theatre Tickets in London

I have been on a theatre booking binge lately. If you have been following my twitter feed, you'll have noticed. I have now booked so many tickets I'll be going to the theatre each month till the end of the year! I'm not crazy (OK maybe a little) but seriously, only in London can you get a theatre ticket at the same price of a nice dinner somewhere, in some cases, even less. 

London's theatres and shows is one of the things I absolutely love about this city. It is affordable, there is so much variety to choose from and its such a nice night out. Over the past couple of years I have seen, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Lion King, Much Ado About Nothing, The Cripple of Innishman (hilarious), Lady Windemeres Fan, A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Woman in Black and The Drowned Man. And I have enjoyed each and every one.

Much Ado About Nothing - Noel Coward Theatre

Now I have booked:
  1. The Man Who Climbed Out Of His Face - this month
  2. A Comedy of Errors - September
  3. Book of Mormon - October
  4. Twelfth Night - November
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - December
And I still have so many more on my list! Actually, I think I might try to get myself to the BBC Proms too, not strictly theatre but still...

Phantom of the Opera - Source
If you think you cant afford to go to the theatre, think again! Here are some tips to get you booking too!
  1. Approach the theatre company direct! Often ticketing agencies, even 'discount' ones, will add a hefty markup on the value of a ticket and you can end up paying more!
  2. Book waaaaaaaaay in advance, cheap seats go fast so get in early. Some places will even give you a discount for doing just that. For example, Book of Mormon don't charge a booking fee if you book ahead by 12 weeks.
  3. Book mid week. Often midweek tickets are much cheaper than Friday night or weekend tickets.
  4. Signup for newsletters. OK, OK, we all hate spam mail, but sometimes you will get notified of specials or given promo codes. Find a show you want to see and sign up to its newsletter. Don't worry, you can always unsubscribe after you've seen the show ;) You can also keep an eye on Time Out's offers. Occasionally they will have a really good deal. I managed to get a tickets to the Woman in Black for £10 pounds back in June because of it.
  5. If you are a student, a lot, if not all, theatre companies will give you a discount.
  6. The Drowned Man - source
  7. Get a good group of friends together. Almost all theatre companies will give discounts for group bookings. Too easy!
  8. Check the ticket prices. Don't just assume its expensive. If you follow tip number 2, you'll be surprised by how 'cheap' the tickets are to some of the big shows.
  9. Put the cost in perspective!!! Look at what you currently spend your money on... coffee? lunch? eating out? drinks on weekends? brunch with the girls? A cute top or must have shoes? There are so many ways you can find the money for a ticket, just make tiny adjustments to what you currently do.

Do you have any theatre going tips?

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18 August 2014

Finding a Flat in London

My Saturday was spent being stood up by a real estate agent, viewing one property and registering with more real estate agents. Now things have settled with work, and im no longer tearing my hair out, im on to the next stressor – finding a place to call home.

This is my third time one the property hunt in London. The first time I was looking for a flatshare, the second I was looking for my own place and this time, this time I'd like my own place again but am also considering going into an existing flat share or setting up my own.

Anyway, why am I bothering you with all this? Well, I figured I'd share some of my tips for finding a flat in London. I know I've touched on this before but, its different when you are actually going through it. So I thought i'd create a mini-series for tips to finding a flat in London. First up...

Globetrotter Postcards tips for finding a flat in London.

This is for anyone, single or couple, trying to find a flat of their own (not sharing with anyone).

  1. Dont rely on property websites like Zoopla or Right Move - Get your butt down to the area you want to move to, find the local real estate agencies and register with several of them.
  2. If you are new to the area, take some time to walk around and see what its like. Go a different times, an area will have a different feel during the day versus at nightand from weekend to weekday
  3. Give yourself lots of time to look, at least 4-6 weeks in advance. Most properties come on to the market about a month before they are ready to be let, so if you leave it too late, you wont find many properties available for your move in date.
  4. Go to a lot of viewings to get an idea of what your budget can get you. This will help you make an offer then and there when you find a place you like ....which leads me to...
  5. If you like a place, put an offer on it straight away, dont wait. Good properties in London get snapped up almost as soon as they are placed on the market. By the time you have thought it over the next day, someone else has taken it.
  6. When viewing a property, check for double glazed windows and the water pressure. Ask about average monthly bills, neighbours and possible upcoming construction.
  7. Be realistic with your budget. London is expensive and there is a lot of competition from tenants.The closer to central London, the more expensive properties will be. Proximity to publich transport will also impact price.
  8. Be realistic with your 'must have' list. Know what you will and wont compromise on - and let me tell you, unless you have a massive budget, you will have to compromise!

If you have any tips for navigating flat hunting in London or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

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04 August 2014

Feathers, Flight and an Amazing Experience

On Saturday I got up close and personal with some feathered friends. My friend was cashing in on an old birthday gift voucher for flying birds of prey and was nice enough to take me along.

Just outside of Reading (pronounced red-ing) hidden behind a garden centre is Feathers and Fur, a place where I came up close and personal with 5 birds of prey over three hours. We met Sadie, the owner, and two other people in our group for introductions and safety before meeting our first bird of the day.

Meet Bert the barn owl - Barn owls are perfectly silent when they fly. I swear I could not hear a single rustled feather when I flew him. Naturally, when you hunt in the dark using your hearing only, it really wouldn't help if your feathers made noise. This guy was a cheeky bugger, and loved attention and even let us pat him!

This dude is Ash. He is a Tawny owl and had eyelids that looked like he'd used purple eyeliner! He was super friendly and chatty and happy to sit on our fists instead of flying off. He was an instant favourite in the group and was just so chilled! Wouldn't want to take him to dinner though, saw him swallow a small chick whole...not pretty!

Say hi to this little guy, Bourne (at least I think that was his name...). He is a Kestral (Falcon) and finds his prey by seeing their pee in ultraviolet - weird, but whatever works right? I mean, Bert had a comb on his claw, but you gotta love em anyway.

Why call a bird Mouse? No idea. But thats his name. He is a common Buzzard, but an impressive fellow to see in flight. The chattiest of the birds we flew that day, but also very smart, he totally knew when you were talking to him as opposed to having a general conversation. He'd be squaking away and the minute you directed your talk to him he'd go quiet, tilt his head and stare intently at you.

Billie Jean. My dear Billie Jean. She was SUCH a queen! Loved her. For all the other birds, Sadie would go into their cages and carry them out, for Billie, she just opened the door and she sauntered out and then hopped up on to the fence to survey her audience. Billie is a European Eagle Owl. She is BIG and heavy! She weighs 5 pounds! She prefers being on the ground and would only hop on our fists to grab some food before hopping off. I can tell you, seeing her flying at you is quite the sight, and trying to keep your arm strong to support her was quite the effort!

One I didn't get to fly but absolutely fell in love with anyway was Meg, a Great Grey Owl. Sadie calls her, her marmite owl, because people either love her or hate her. I loved her. She was beautiful, and had a very regal personality, she was curious about everyone and each time we came by she would give a soft hoot of greeting. At one point I noticed her tilt her head when I tilted mine while looking at her. So cute! The amazing thing about a Great Grey is that they can hear her prey beneath 2 feet of snow!

There were other furry creatures on the site, ferrets, guinea pigs and two of the largest rabbits I've ever seen in my life! Two other furry butts on the premises, who made us feel very welcome, were affection tarts Lady and Beth, Sadie's pet Cocker and gentle giant Labrador dogs. They sucked up to our small group of four for pats, cuddles and loads of attention. I loved every minute of it! It really went a long way to make me feel less pet-less and I had to resist the strong urge to dog-nap these friendly pooches.

Acer - A Peregrin Falcon

It was a great morning and I would do it again in a wing beat. In fact, Sadie runs a photography workshop I'd love to try. I learnt a lot about the birds and their care without losing a finger (I kid of course, these bird were in no way hostile and Sadie was an impeccable handler).Thank you Sadie for an amazing experience!

If you are interested in meeting these feathery friends, here are the details:
  1. Feathers and Fur website for all the info on sessions & prices etc.
  2. How to get there - Your two options are driving or train then taxi. If you travel into Twyford, a taxi from there is cheaper than one from Reading. Once at the Ladds Garden centre, you will need to go through it to the back - if you get lost, just ask someone to point you there.
  3. Dont forget your camera - or forget it and just enjoy the day ;)
 What animals have you come up close and personal with?

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31 July 2014

In search of words...

Imagine you worked in a library. (Go with me for a second on this one.) Imagine you worked in a library and one very normal, average day, you came across a box sitting on a shelf and no idea how it got there. Inside that box was this.

The Poet Tree (Poetree). This is the book sculpture that started it all. The first book sculpture was found at the Scottish Poetry Library.

It is a gift, and an anonymous one at that. It is entirely made from paper and is incredibly delicate and beautiful.

But it doesn't stop there, over the course of a year, more book sculptures mysteriously pop up at other libraries, museums and even an old cinema. Each one carries a message and the media goes into a frenzy. Who is this book sculptor? Why is she leaving these all over Edinburgh? How is she getting them in without anyone noticing? Will there be more? Where will the next book sculpture be left?

Gramophone and coffin. The second book sculpture, one of the 10 sculptures that was not on display - source
In the months between March and November 2011 there were a total of 10 book sculptures left all over Edinburgh. The mystery and artistry of the book sculptures got so much attention that people were dropping into these libraries and museums just to see the sculptures. They even went on tour towards the end of 2012. At the end of the tour, a 13th book sculpture appeared at the Poets Library, back where it all started.

So much detail in this one, be sure to look closely. The third book sculpture - Cinema, found at the Edinburgh Film house

But that wasn't to be the end of the story. The artist was commissioned for 5 book sculptures as part of Book Week Scotland in late 2012 (I didn't get to see those though) and last year two more sculptures showed up at the Scottish Poetry Library and Leith Library. Despite the media and the commission, the artist has maintained her anonymity.

Who hasn't grown up with stories of dragons? The 4th book sculpture - Dragon's Nest, The Storytelling Centre

I had read about these sculptures a couple of years ago but completely forgot about it until late one night while seeking things to do in Edinburgh, I came across it again. So I got myself a map and went on a literary hunt to find them all.

"Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really great book...except maybe a cake as well" The 5th book sculpture, Tea, cake and a book, Edinburgh International Book Festival

Who hasn't been lost in a good book? Book sculpture 6 - Lost in a good book...left at Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust

Notice the E crossed out below? Cheeky comment on funding cuts. The 7th sculpture - Magnifying glass, Edinburgh Central Library

The feathers made from paper actually look like they might be soft to touch. And how cute is the bumblebee on the glove? The 8th book sculpture -Cap and gloves, Scottish Poetry Library

The 9th book sculpture roars and charges out of The Lost World - Dinosaur, National Museum of Scotland

The 10th book is a little Jekyll and Hyde. Street Scene - Edinburgh Writers’ Museum

During my quest for the book sculptures of Edinburgh, I detoured to Greyfriars Kirkyard to say hello to Bobby and Old Jock again and stop for a bite.

I'm not sure how it had escaped me, but I forgot about Edinburgh's most famous writer. As I was sipping my coffee and watching people walk by on the street my eye caught a sign, this sign.

To digress for a moment; there are two interviews with JK Rowling that talk about her writing in cafes Edinburgh. The famous cafe everyone knows is Nicholsons (which is now Spoon Cafe). But in a very early interview, she is interviewed in The Elephant. I stopped in there for a peek later and it was busy, full of people writing, friends chatting and Harry Potter tourists. Of course JK Rowling isn't Edinburgh only famous writer, there is Ian Rankin (who received his very own book sculpture), Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Kenneth Grahame to name a few.

Not part of the original 10 sculptures, this one is more recent and was found in May 2013.

Possibly my favourite. This sculpture was presented at the end of 2012 after the original 10 sculptures completed their. A Child's Garden, Scottish Poetry Library

Anyway, if you are a book worm or literary enthusiast, Edinburgh has a lot to offer. You can seek out the book sculptures, visit the Writers Museum, do a literary tour (departs from the writers museum), visit the Decon Broadie pub or cafe, say hi to Greyfriars Bobby, write in a cafe JK Rowling wrote and much more. Heck, why not visit during the Edinburgh Book Festival which starts in a week?

If you are interested in seeing these sculptures for yourself, you'll find book sculpture map of Edinburgh on this page, my tip is to start at the Scottish Poetry Library and work your way up the Royal Mile (or vice versa) rather than trying to see them in order.

Would you travel for a literary fix? 
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28 July 2014

Going hyper at HyperJapan!

Yesterday I ventured into the cavernous Earls Court Exhibition Center to check out HyperJapan. In case you don't know, I love, love, love Japan and my visit to see the cherry blossoms a couple of years ago only cemented that. I didn't really know what to expect from this exhibition but i can tell you, i found myself grinning ear to ear on so may occasions. About 5 minutes in I texted my friend "I want to book a trip to Japan. Like right NOW!"

It was a fluffy eared, sushi filled, j-pop extravaganza. The Kawii corner had all things cute and fluffy, and was home to Londoners singing Japanese pop tunes. There were stalls for visiting Japan, learning Japanese, buying manga, samurai swords, bonsai, kimonos and of course there was sushi and sake galore. There were manga sketch artist turning you into a comic charachter, manga drawing workshops, origami workshops and what I assume to be Japanese checkers sitting alongside a boxing ring with fake wrestling on one end and martial arts demos on the other. Oh and lets not forget the cosplay parade. Even people who were not in the competition dressed up. Talk about a major people watching opportunity.

It was a fun way to spend a few hours over a weekend and I may or may not have succumbed to buying a pair of fluffy ears...

Apparently they will be holding HyperJapan Christmas markets in November. Yeah, you know I'm going to that one too. And why not?

Have you been to any exhibitions recently?
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24 July 2014

The Loch Ness Monster has been Spotted!

Spotted! The shy Nessie, known around the world as the Loch Ness Monster was spotted by Globetrotter Postcards blogger, Sam, on a recent trip to the famous Loch Ness in Scotland.

Not much has been seen of Nessie recently and it has led to rumours that the monster has died, although, a sighting in Australia has led others to believe she is simply on holiday.

The Three Sisters of Glen Coe

As part of a tour that took her through some beautiful Scottish Highlands, glens and castles, she boarded the Jacobite Queen boat to cruise along the silent loch when the sighting is said to have occurred.

"It was amazing!" She said. "I was sitting on the upper deck listening to how John Cobb was killed trying to break water speed record on the loch and watching Urquhart Castle recede into the distance. All of a sudden, I had the overwhelming urge to have my photo taken against a particularly serene view." She grins with excitement. 

Jacobite Queen on Loch Ness

"I asked a particularly bored looking girl if she could take my photo and she must have not been paying attention because when I looked at it moments later I saw it! I saw her! Nessie! I couldn't believe it, I glanced up just in time to see her head dip back down into the water and her tail quickly follow! I was so shocked I couldn't speak!"

Urquhart Castle

Sam goes on to say that it no one else in her tour group seemed to have sighted the mysterious creature of the loch but the photographic evidence of the loch Ness monster takes pride of place on her desk. "Every time I look at it I remember that moment and how the world is full of wonder, mystery and magic."

Urquhart Castle is along the banks of Loch Ness its history steeped in bloody conflict and noble families.
Sam has granted us exclusive permission to print a copy of this image of Nessie for our to share the secrets of Loch Ness.

So, obviously I didn't see the Loch Ness monster, but I hope you enjoyed the spoof article anyway. I visited Loch Ness as part of the Original Loch Ness Tour. It was a different company to the one I went with for the West Highland Lochs Mountains and Castles, and although the guides were informative, they weren't as great. Be warned that this tour is long so check where you actually stop off as we only did two scenic stops during the whole day!

Have you ever travelled in search of myths or legends?

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