19 September 2014

Friday Favs #1

Who doesn't like Fridays? I love em. In fact, I love them so much that Thursdays are starting to look good. Anyway, thought I'd share a little snippet of things I enjoyed this week :)

Meeting Mandy
I have been wanting to meet Mandy of Emm in London for ages and finally this week we met for a coffee and a chat. Ive met some wonderful people through this blog and Mandy was as lovely as I thought she would be. She is sweet, friendly and has a zest for life in London. We chatted away a couple of hours without even realising it! Was great meeting you Mandy!

Blog Post
Sammy is another lovely blogger. I enjoyed trawling her posts about her recent trip to Morrocco, especially the one on feeling safe in Marrakech. Its great for a fresh, honest perspective and a bit of a giggle at the end.

Looking forward to seeing this on my own Lisbon trip in November. Did I mention I was going to Lisbon? Finally!!

Since tearing through the Hunger Games trilogy, I've been keen on seeing the movies. I cant wait for the new Hunger Games - The Mockingjay movie. Bit annoyed its in two parts though. Will just have to wait and see if its worth the split.

This week I started reading Neil Gaimans Neverwhere. He is one of my absolute favourite authors for sheer quirkiness, imagination mixed in with reality, colourful characters and laugh-out-loud humour. I'm halfway through it and loving every word. Its one of those books I cant put down, yet don't want to finish, because I know I wont find another book like it again.

What have you enjoyed this week?

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18 September 2014

Peeking behind doors at Open House London

Each year London flings open wide its vaulted, secured, members only, entry fee required, home owner only doors to the public. Icons, monuments, museums, galleries, private homes, government buildings allow the public a glimpse inside what they may not freely see on an average day. Ive tried to see something each of the past two years and learnt a thing or two in the process. Let me share my tips for making the most of the Open House London weekend, this weekend ;)

Tips for making the most of Open House London

1 - See what you cant normally see. Makes sense right? Unless there is a special talk, event, or its free compared to hefty entry price, or the like, don't waste your time on places that are normally open to the public anyway. I'm talking museums, libraries etc. Try livery halls and guilds. They are usually closed to the public but are home to some beautiful buildings and halls. Photos in the post are from the Apothecaries Hall and Middle Temple Hall.

2 - Plan an early start. A lot of place close early afternoon so if you want to see a couple of places start early. Bear in mind that there may be a wait to get in to popular sites. All the information you need to plan can be found on the Open House London website here.

3 - Plan your route. Its far easier to see places that are physically located closer to each other than be criss-crossing London. Plus it'll save you loads of time.

4 - Unless you are totally in love with the Gherkin, avoid it. The line is massive and wraps around the block. You can easily be waiting hours. Yes, hours. I tried once and even during the rain and wind people were still queueing!

5 - Probably too late for this year but a good tip for next time - book early! A lot of places require you to book your place to visit or enter a ballot. For example, you can visit 10 Downing Street, if you are lucky enough to have your name drawn from a ballot.

6 - Enjoy yourself! This is a sneak peak into whats behind London's closed doors. Its like slipping into London Below for a day where no one notices that you are not really supposed to be there. Oh, and take an umbrella!

This weekend I'll be visiting the Drapers Hall and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and maybe one or two others. Unfortunately I missed out on 10 Downing St and the rooftop walk of Victoria Station. Next year ;)

Where will you go? Or, if you aren't in London, what would you go see? 

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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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