15 September 2014

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew Gardens, I finally made it to see you.

And i'm so happy I did. You are beautiful, varied, an oasis in London.

Your conservatories evoke Victorian London.

I envy your beautiful blooming beds buzzing with bees and bursting with brightly coloured flowers.

A cup of tea and cake at the Orangery, sitting in the sun, a green lawn stretching in front disolves away the hectic week.

The very strict 'no you cant use the loo, we're closed' policy, when your still closing, for a paying customer, is the only thing to ruin an otherwise lovely stroll through your acres of gardens, under the branches of trees, past ponds of water and almost endless grounds.

A few hours of exploration are both plenty and too little - i'll be back.

Kew Gardens Website
Admission is £15 for Adults, Kids under 16 are free.
Opening times vary depending on season but details can be found here.
The Gardens are very, very large and have three gates accessible to different stations. The Victorian gate is best for the Princess of Wales Conservatory and pond, Elizabeth gate is best for Kew Palace and the Orangery and the Lion Gate is best for the Pagoda. Details here.

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08 September 2014

Wedding Dress Shopping in London

Organising a wedding, I have read, is either the most fun and exciting thing you'll ever do, or the most stressful, torturous experience. Or both. My friend K makes it looks so easy. Last week, on a Sunday, I tumbled out of bed and dragged myself to Wimbledon under the promise of free coffee. My friend K had asked me to join her on her first expedition into wedding dress shopping for her upcoming wedding in France next year. (seriously romantic story there, I'll have to fill you in another time though).

K had made two appointments for the day with a gap for lunch in between. The all important coffee in hand we made our way to the store. Before heading inside K stopped me and handed me an envelope. Cool, wedding invitations!! But she shook her head and told me to just open it. Inside was...

I was shocked, surprised, touched, happy, honoured, speechless and almost in tears as I hugged K and said of course I would be!!! Ive never been a bridesmaid actually, what are you supposed to do??? *Googles "bridesmaid duties"*

Inside the store K had a chat with the attendant about styles she was interested and where she would find the dresses in the store before being handed about 5 tags to place on the neck of hangers of dresses she wanted to try on. When K stepped out in the first dress, I have to confess, I got a bit choked up. She was beautiful and I was almost in tears again!!! But you'll be glad to hear that I pulled it together and was a bit useful. K looked simply stunning in every dress she tried on. She had picked two styles that really suited her and she ended up with quite a few dresses she liked from both places we went to - I don't envy her deciding which one to pick in the end!

These are some of the styles she tried on...


So what are K's top 5 tips for Wedding Dress Shopping in London?
  1. Take someone you trust
  2. Have an idea of what styles you like, but,
  3. Do keep an open mind
  4. Know your budget and stick to it
  5. Have fun!
And from what I was able to gather on the day, here are a few extra tips:
  1. To book a weekend appointment, call at least two weeks ahead - maybe more if the place is very popular
  2. Keep in mind that London is super busy so you are likely to have to wait 6 to 7 months for a dress to be made if you are not buying 'off the rack'
What are your tips for wedding dress shopping?

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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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25 August 2014

A Night At The Proms

I'm late, so late! I dash to the first set of doors that look like the box office. Nope, it's at door number twelve. Door number twelve! I dash past a number of doors. Ah there it is. I grab my tickets. Another door to find. Up three flights of stairs, another door and finally my seat. I just have time to pop my phone on silent before the conductor walks on stage to a round of applause.

The next 45 minute the music takes me through a wander in the forest, despair, hope, first love and spits me out into intermission. After admiring how unfailingly long lines are to the loo and refreshments at any event, I head back to my seat for another set of music. I did enjoy the second half more, the music was more enticing and I found my fingers swirling and tapping along like the conductors baton.

I couldn't tell you exactly what I listened to other than what was on the website (Prom 49: Russian Fairy Tales) and I'm sure not if 2 and a half hours of classical music on a Saturday night is for me, but it was a nice way to relax. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do it if I had standing only seats, I was very glad I had opted for the cheap seats for a few extra quid.

Have you been to the Proms? What did you think?

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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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