Saturday, 31 December 2016
I'm not the first to say that 2016 has been an odd one. Globally of course it has been a total clusterfuck, but personally it's been a totally mixed bag. I've experienced the most change since I graduated and moved to London almost seven years ago, but actually it's all ended up incredibly positive - even if it didn't necessarily feel like it at the time.
Thursday, 29 December 2016
We are lucky to have some beautiful food heritage here in the UK, from Cheddar cheese to Yorkshire puddings, you can find fresh produce and tried and tested recipes that are staples of the nation in every county. I knew very little about the Isle of Wight before my recent trip; my previous visits being in my childhood or a few weekends at Bestival.
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
Well! I've finally hit the 50th edition of Added Extras and what a day to do so because today I fly to South Africa! Ever since I came back from The Big Trip in June, I've been saving and waiting for my next adventure and I am so excited to go to Africa for the first time.
Thursday, 22 December 2016
This year has been an incredible treasure trove of opportunities for me as a Harry Potter fan. I've seen Cursed Child TWICE, met stars of the films, and been invited to become an ambassador for JK Rowling's charity, Lumos. To top it all off, I was then invited to the launch of this year's Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I've visited the tour twice before but never over Christmas and I was unbelievably excited to see the sets looking festive.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Tomorrow is my last day in the office until 16th January and I am ready for Christmas please and thank you. I don't know if the dark mornings, my empty bank account or the fact I haven't really eaten a vegetable in weeks, but December is taking it's toll and come Wednesday I'll be on my mum's sofa, with my baby sister (who's actually 21 this week HOW IS THAT A THING?), watching Scrooged and finally feeling festive.
Monday, 19 December 2016
A few days ago I tweeted that I have enough air miles to get me a one way ticket to Japan (which is my big long haul trip for 2017). A few people replied asking me how I collect them and actually I have a few little sneaky tips and tricks that make sure building my air miles is actually part of my everyday life.
Saturday, 17 December 2016
When visiting Seoul, I wasn't overly prepared with an itinerary. It was on my first day there, sat in a hotel room with my best friend who had come over from Hong Kong that I actually started looking through a guide book to get my bearings. To my surprise, one of the top recommended things to do was a tour up to the border between South and North Korea. A few frantic emails later and we had booked ourselves onto an early morning departure the next day.
Friday, 16 December 2016
I'm more accustomed to spend long weekends in a quaint British village, or maybe hopping over to somewhere in Europe like Barcelona. But when I was flying from China to Hong Kong, it seemed a good opportunity to add another country to my itinerary by dropping into South Korea for a four day stint with my best friend.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
It's been another couple of weeks of mayhem, with everything being stupid busy at work, my festive social life ramping up, and as a result, I've got my annual December cold. It's been here for a week now and frankly, I'm fed up of it. I spent most Friday and all of Saturday in bed trying to shift it, but it's persisting and I've got too much to do so I'm just cracking on. I've got just over a week of work left until I head home for Christmas and then I'm not back in the office until 16th January. Woohoo!
Monday, 12 December 2016
Lying on the south side of the river is many a tourist trap. The Southbank draws in the crowds for the London Eye, but it's the hidden second-hand book stalls and graffiti covered skate parks that keep locals coming back. Similarly, London Bridge has the Shard and Borough Market, but walk 10 minutes down towards Southwark and there's a new area undergoing renovation. Here's the things you should check out down at Bankside now, before the crowds sniff it out!
Saturday, 10 December 2016
I knew precisely zero about Xi'an, the city closest to the Terracotta Warriors, before arriving there. With some basic research, I realised there were two things I needed to experience: the Muslim Quarter for dinner, and the surrounding city walls.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
It's only Tuesday and this week is already proving to be a giant pain in the arse. Every year when things start getting festive, I promise myself I won't book in too much but somehow it happens without me even realising. Add to that a hectic time at work, Christmas presents to be bought, the wedding of two of my favourite people and an upcoming holiday to South Africa, I don't really have time to do anything.
Saturday, 26 November 2016
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Hiiiiiiiii! A few Tuesdays have passed and I've fallen behind on these weekly instalments again. The main reason being that I'm trying hard to not force myself into doing things I don't want to do and just enjoy some down time. I love writing this blog, but when I'm tired from work and still maintaining an active social life, typing posts and editing photos has had to take a back seat.
Sunday, 20 November 2016
There's a whole heap of guides out there on the hidden gems of London, and I love to explore my city to find the weird and wonderful. Recently though, rather than one shop or cafe that I happened to stumble upon, I found the quirky charms of an entire area and one which I've visited numerous times in the years I've lived here.
Sunday, 13 November 2016
Let's get this out of the way up front: Terracotta Army, bucket list, once in a lifetime blah blah. You'll have heard all those cliches before when it comes to one of the world's most famous manmade wonders. I was skeptical about visiting but I was damn curious, and although it wasn't on my original itinerary, I decided to make a detour to Xi'an and drop in on those infamous soldiers.
Thursday, 10 November 2016
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Planning a hen party is a stressful business. You suddenly question everything you know about one of your best mates because the fear of arranging something she will absolutely hate is so very real. And I've already got my bridesmaid dress sorted, so I had no intention of being kicked out of the wedding just yet.
Thursday, 13 October 2016
In the immortal words of the poet that is Ronan Keating, 'Life is a rollercoaster.' Except, the one I'm on is making me so damn exhausted. There's been a lot of changes going on and they're definitely all for the best, but please can I just skip forward to 27th December when I'm on a plane to South Africa, hurtling towards sunshine and AWAY from real life for a bit.
Sunday, 9 October 2016
On my recent trip to Dublin, I had three things in mind: quality time with my favourite cousin, a trip to the Guinness Storehouse and a lot of brunch. In four short days, I clocked up four amazing brunches, spread out around the city. Each one offered something completely different from your standard eggs benedict and prosecco situations (not that those two things are bad in any way whatsoever). First up:
San Lorenzo's Brunch of Champions
Saturday, 8 October 2016
Jumpsuit - Louche by Joy*
Heels - Vivienne Westwood for Melissa
Bag - H! by Henry Holland at Debenhams
I don't have all that many opportunities to dress up particularly fancy, but being nominated for Best Travel Blog at the Bloggers Blog Awards seemed like just the time to crack out some heels and make a bit of an effort.
Friday, 30 September 2016
When it comes to pub food there's a gap in the market between reheated frozen lasagne and Michelin starred cuisine. You take a risk eating somewhere who, up front, deals predominantly in pints, but it paid off at The Happenstance.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
It's very strange but there seems to be a lot of stigma around visiting a country's most well-known sights when abroad. For some reason it's perceived that flocking to where everyone else goes and being a 'tourist' isn't how you should spend your money, but I totally disagree. I'm as guilty as the next travel obsessive for seeking out local haunts and secret gems as they do often show a side of a country that isn't as frequently seen, but there are so many reasons why I love to go to the 'main show'.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
This last week I've been living the quintessential London yuppie lifestyle. Sushi and brunch and shopping and theatre - I'm basically a Kardashian. Except, all that frivolity means I'm now poor and tired but it was all worth it. I was dreading my birthday this year but my fabulous friends made sure that being away from my family wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. I'm a lucky gal.
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Sometimes, something amazing will drop into my inbox. Over and above the 15% ASOS discount for my birthday (although let's not lie, I totally used that) and the general newsletter nonsense that I forget I've subscribed to, there is an email to stop me in my tracks, throw down my phone and do a happy dance in my chair. And that's how I began my journey with Lumos.
Thursday, 22 September 2016
The French Concession area of Shanghai is a bizarre contrast of traditional Chinese life within a setting that looks distinctly European. Aside from Macau, which used to be Portuguese, I haven't been anywhere in China that actually resembles anything western, so this totally threw me. Interspersed within the characteristic browns and greys I was becoming accustomed to, there were sudden pops of colour, and a whole day of exploring the area revealed so many hidden gems.
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
I have no idea how it's the 20th September AGAIN. The day just seems to roll around quicker every year and insists that I get older with it. Today I turn 28. I don't really have much to say on the subject because as much as I'm still getting my shit together as a fully fledged adult, 27 was a bloody hard year and I'm not all that sorry to say goodbye to it. Plus I have an excuse to eat cake, I get presents just for being alive, and I have a monster bottomless brunch planned in for the weekend. I'm already smashing this shiny new age of mine!
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Pinafore dress - Dorothy Perkins
Tee - H&M
Sandals - Kinki Gerlinki, Melbourne
Bag - Mong Kok Ladies Market, Hong Kong
There's going to be a million things online this week reporting back on the hottest new trends from London Fashion Week. As much as I love reading through all these and pinning every look I love, I don't base my purchases on what is 'in season' and as a result I often end up embracing a trend far too late. Enter: the denim pinafore dress.
Thursday, 15 September 2016
I live up to my British heritage when I say unwaveringly that I LOVE a roast dinner. One of those spilling-over-the-plate, all-the-trimmings affairs, with a healthy mix of bad-for-you beige and wonderfully colourful veggies.
The Duke of Cambridge is tucked away in quintessentially quaint Islington; a stone's throw from Camden Passage eateries but with an entirely different vibe.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
I skipped this little instalment last week because the lurgy meant I basically cancelled my life and stayed in, feeling sorry for myself. I thought I was better but I went to the gym yesterday and had to leave my spin class 3/4 way through so I could cough up a lung. Aside from that, there's been some good bits in the last week or so.
Sunday, 11 September 2016
Hostels get a bad rap and sometimes it's completely justified. They are cheap and often for a reason but I have experienced places at both ends of the scale. From gorgeous, clean and polite to grotty, smelly and damn right rude, reviews online often mean nothing so you just have to hope for the best.
Sunday, 4 September 2016
I've never been to Disneyland and it's something that my mum still laments to this day. It's the epitome of a kid's dream holiday (although let's not pretend that I wouldn't pass out from happiness if I went as a 27 year old), but we couldn't go and it was never an issue for me. My childhood certainly wasn't short of holidays, it's just that they weren't all-inclusive beach resorts abroad - instead we headed to UK seasisde towns, where we stayed in static caravans and had the best time.
Thursday, 1 September 2016
Tuesday, 30 August 2016
I am sat in Dublin airport, waiting to fly back to London. I have a horrific cold and every time I cough, the woman next to me looks at me as though I am a carrier of the Black Death. It's so bloody typical that I go away for a fun-filled Bank Holiday weekend and I end up being sick. Why can't I be ill when I have nothing fun planned?!
Thursday, 25 August 2016
I am well versed with planes. I know the protocol; I know where the life jacket is stored and to handle turbulence. I'm good with planes.
Um. Not exactly.
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
I've been saying for the last few months that I'd be feeling more myself once I got back to London and I was not wrong. This week I've been able to live life like normal: my belongings are all in one place, I'm not reliant on anybody to get me from A to B and I can socialise without having to rush off to get a train. And my commute is now 25 minutes instead of 90 and it is as close to bliss as rush hour on the northern line will allow.
Monday, 22 August 2016
Saturday, 20 August 2016
There is nothing that restores my faith in humanity like the kindness of strangers. Those people who go out of their way to give, share and provide for somebody they have never met, and may never see again. We go about our day-to-day lives tutting at tourists who get in our way, or swear like a sailor at that tosser who just cut you up on the M1. But when push comes to shove (sometimes literally during rush hour!) the majority of us actively want to help each other and it gives me the warm fuzzies.
Friday, 19 August 2016
So this is a bit of a surreal post to write. A few weeks ago in a group Whatsapp chat, a couple of my lovely blogger friends said that they were going to nominate me for Best Travel Blog at the Bloggers Blog Awards. I was surprised, but totally ran with it, genuinely thinking nothing would come of it and I'd watch the celebrations from afar again.
Thursday, 18 August 2016
OK, I've moved. I'm in. I am 100% back in London and things are just about getting back to normal after that whole 'quit my job, travel the world' situation that just kind of happened. I can't even believe that that was this year, it feels like decades ago already!
Saturday, 13 August 2016
I travel to eat. I mean, I travel to experience new cultures and environments, but I don't think there is any better way to do that then to try local food. I would love to eat at Michelin star restaurants when I'm abroad, but more often than not that's out of my budget, and to be honest, there is so often amazing food to be found for a lot less money.
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
I AM BACK IN LONDON. I am writing this, sat in my new bed, with new sheets, in my new flat. It's been five months since I went away, two since I came back and now I'm looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality again. I'm living out of a suitcase for the next few days, then shifting everything over in a van at the weekend, but it's done. I'm here. Hallelujah!
Sunday, 7 August 2016
I've never had a bucket list (partly because I find the whole thing a bit morose), but also because I basically want to do and see everything. However there has been one place that I've wanted to visit for so long, and finally, after years of watching an inordinate amount of YouTube videos of the place, I made it to the famous Chengdu Panda Sanctuary.
Thursday, 4 August 2016
For as long as I can remember, I've loved to read. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who have encouraged this passion, from my parents reading to me every night as a child, to friends recommending me something new.
At 10 years old, my teacher Ms McCarthy gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to read. I, like millions of other children, fell in love with The Boy Who Lived.
Tuesday, 2 August 2016
I'll be honest, I'm not feeling this week at all. Everything seems a bit topsy-turvy and I'd quite like some normality to be restored soon. I'm placing a lot of hope on my move back to London which might be a bit silly but is something to look forward to regardless. There have been lots of positives in the last week though, so I'll just focus on those for now. Here's this week's Added Extras:
Monday, 1 August 2016
Maxi dress - H&M
Sandals - ASOS
Sunglasses - Topshop
It's summer! Or is it? It is, technically, but oh my, we're being kept on our toes aren't we? I've complained so much about not having any sunshine but when it appeared, I had no idea what to wear.
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
What's up, Tuesday? Haven't you come around fast again? Can you believe that this time next week it'll be August already? That means it's getting closer to September, the magical birthday month where I constantly use my getting older as an excuse to buy myself shiny new things and eat everything I can find.