Monday, 20 August 2018

Lake Bled, Slovenia


I'll admit, Slovenia wasn't high up my bucket list before our trip.
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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Surrey: Pho at Tunsgate, Guildford


Since coming back from our SE Asian adventure we have been obsessed with Asian cuisine. And despite having some of the best food in Thailand, for us Vietnam was the one.
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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Indonesia: Gili T in your late twenties


Ask any backpacker doing the SE Asia route, and Gili T will be on their list.
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Monday, 16 July 2018

Indonesia: Kuta, Lombok


Lombok is what I imagine Bali was... thirty years ago. 
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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

5 more podcasts for 30-something women


I wrote a little while ago about my five favourite podcasts for 30-something women, which generated such a great response with recommendations and suggestions flying in from all angles, I thought I would give an update. These are some of my more recent finds that have quickly become firm favourites.

1. The High Low by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes

Since my last post, the most notable mention has to be this one. So many of you recommended The High Low, and it is now my absolute go-to listen! Pandora and Dolly eloquently discuss topical issues - both high and low brow - in a honest and though-provoking sixty minute(ish) episode. It is everything I love, in podcast form! New favourite words include 'zeitgeist', 'hackneyed' and 'reductive'. Oh and 'hirsute' - I feel like I've swallowed a thesaurus. Not in Joey Tribbiani way.

2.  Happy Place by Fearne Cotton

When I heard that Fearne - my hair idol - was hosting a podcast about happiness, joy and all things life-affirming, I knew I must give it a listen. She chats with celebrity guests about their lives and what makes them happy with sincerity and humour. A really easy listen and one that helps me to reassess, even in small ways, what life is all about and how I should be taking time to concentrate on my wellbeing. The Dawn French episode is fab.

3. Love Stories by Dolly Alderton

That's right, it's my new obsession love idol Dolly, of High Low fame! A few months ago I heard through the social media grapevine she had written a book... which I immediately purchased, devoured and then subsequently booked tickets to meet her at a book signing in Guildford Waterstones. Like any rational human being. Cough. Anyway, this podcast is fab - Dolly chats all things love, relationships and laughter with interesting guests. Fave so far? Ruby Tandoh and Ruth Jones.

4. Table Manners by Jessie Ware and Mum

Another strong, funny and articulate woman - no, women - talking with engaging celebrity folk over dinner. I really love the concept of this; Jessie and her Mum cook a meal for their guest and they discuss both the food and provide a chatty interview. The relationship between the two hosts is warm and funny, which immediately puts the guests at ease. I particularly loved the Stacey Dooley and Sandi Toksvig episodes.

5. Late Night Woman's Hour

I mentioned my love for Woman's Hour in my previous post, but this time I bring you it's - dare I say it - younger, cooler offspring. Hosted by Lauren Laverne, they discuss all things topical with a focus on the female experience. With recent episodes discussing the spread of the #blessed phenomena and the gender politics behind women's hair, it is timely, relevant and insightful.
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Monday, 14 May 2018

Lisbon: a three day photo diary


Back in October of last year - seven months ago, bliiiimey - we visited Lisbon for a long weekend. We did what comes naturally to us; we ate and drank our way around the city, interspersing our epicurean adventure with spots of culture and history. 


Here's how we spent three perfect days in the Portuguese capital...

Day one
Having arrived late on Wednesday night, we checked in to our Air BnB and got an early night, ready for a full day of exploring ahead of us. Our apartment was in a great location, and provided the perfect sanctuary away from the tourist hub of central Lisbon. When Thursday morning arrived, we started with a coffee and breakfast from Mercearia da Mila before a fairly aimless stroll, ending up in the main square; Praca do Comercio. We stopped for a glass of vinho verde - a local green wine - in the sunshine and watched the world go by for a little while. We made tracks towards our lunch spot, the Time Out Market where we shared local meats and cheese with a couple of beers... and some sushi for good measure! Later we hopped in an Uber to the Jeronimos Monastery for a dose of culture. It was such a beautiful, hugely impressive sight and definitely sated our need for incredible architecture and history. We walked a few hundred metres down the road to Pasteis de Belem and finally understood what the hype was all about. My advice to you would be - eat as many pasteis de nata as you possibly can. And then take a packet home with you. Dinner was at Pharmacia; an old pharmacy-meets-museum-meets restaurant. What a day!

Day two
We started with breakfast at Heim Cafe (the french toast was amazing) before another morning of mooching and exploring. We had booked an afternoon Food Tour with WithLocals (the 10 tastings tour at around 34 euro each) and we met our guide Ana Paula for an afternoon of local cuisine and culture. She talked us through local history and took us to see the important sights, giving us that insider information that you'd expect with a WithLocals tour. It was just us - the four of us plus Ana Paula - on our tour, meaning that she was able to tailor the afternoon to exactly what we fancied. The boys went to see a Sporting Lisbon football match in the evening, whist Kat and I went for a few drinks before meeting them for dinner out in the sticks somewhere! 

Day three
We had planned on visiting the fairytale-esque Pena Palace, but we decided to take it easy and spend our final day mooching and soaking it all up. We were advised that there is a fairly straightforward train then bus journey to Pena, or if there were a few of you taking an Uber might be cheaper. Whilst it looks incredible we didn't want to spend much of our final day travelling, so stayed local. We headed to the LX Factory in the morning, where we had breakfast at Wish. The idea is a great one; an old fabric plant converted in to a series of restaurants, shops and bars - it has a real hipster vibe. We headed back to the centre and to Carmo Convent - something I had been desperate to see! I am a real sucker for impressive architecture... the older the better. We then went to the bar directly behind the Convent for a glass of wine overlooking the Santa Justa Lift. Pro tip: you are able to get to the viewpoint here without queuing (and paying) for the lift! Lunch saw us stopping at Bairro do Avillez for some seriously tasty small plates in the most beautiful setting. We walked to Park Bar for rooftop drinks in the sunshine - it was scorchio - before Kat and I hunted down Lisbon's #1 gelato at Nannarella. We stayed local for dinner, and naturally had the best meal of the trip. How does that always happen?! You must find Santa Pausa (link) for some of the best food we found - the octopus was next level deliciousness. 

And that, my friends, is a wrap! We flew back home early the next morning, with me suffering from the worst end of holiday blues - as ever. 

When can I go back?

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Thursday, 26 April 2018

West Sussex: The Half Moon, Kirdford


I didn't expect to find such an exquisite menu hidden behind the facade of such a traditionally country pub.
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Sunday, 25 March 2018

Bali: seeking serenity in Ubud


After a few days in chaotic yet glossy Seminyak we were ready to explore further afield. This initially took us to Canggu where we spent a fairly blissful 48 hours by the sea, relaxing in cool coffee bars and biking up to the incredible (but far less relaxing!) Tanah Lot. Craving a quieter life, we hopped in a taxi to Ubud. It's known as a hub for arts and culture and is what many will imagine when they picture Bali in their imagination - I think one reason why many are so disappointed when visiting Seminyak / Kuta! Arts and culture, it aint. Ubud, on the other hand, had a far more authentic feel to it. 

Getting there
The island of Bali is actually pretty small, and transport between Canggu and Ubud only takes around an hour or so. As I mentioned in my previous post, getting a taxi in Canggu can be pretty hard work - they are banned in the most part, and Uber didn't seem to operate at all. So we waited on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, until someone drove past offering us a lift. We haggled a price for our journey, ending on 250,000 rupiah - around £12. Considering this was a private ride, it was pretty good value for money - but a minibus would probably be cheaper. In hindsight, jumping in to the back of a random car on the side of a road in a taxi-free zone probably wasn't the safest thing we did whilst in SE Asia! In the words of our dairy "seemed a bit dodgy, but we got there fine!". Sorry, Mum. 

Where we stayed
We found accommodation in Ubud a bit of a tricky one. So much was booked up, and the nice stuff seemed to be really pricey. We settled on Ramaniya House - not cheap at £30 a night, but not bad. It was clean but basic, in a fairly good location. The breakfast was what you'd expect - banana pancakes - brought to your room. I don't think I've ever eaten as many banana pancakes as I did in that 6 months in SE Asia! Would I go back? No. But it was fine. 

What we did
Whilst Ubud is hardly a zone of complete serenity, it is a world away from the madness of south Bali. It's more green and luscious, with a real hippy vibe - yoga on every corner and wheatgrass shots a plenty. I ate a lot of tofu during my time in Ubud! Of course, there are still heaps of tourists here - it's no hidden gem - but the pace does seem a little slower, and the culture does seem to have remained more in tact than in the south of the island. 

Check out the market - luckily this was right next to our hotel, and we visited a couple of times to pick up various souvenirs and bits and pieces. I still have a gorgeous sarong I bought here back in 2011, and this time left with a beautiful patterned robe / cotton dressing gown and a few small tokens for our friends and families back home. It was the last country in our 6 month trip, so now was the time to stock up! Be prepared to haggle, then haggle some more. 

Walk the Campuhan Ridge - a beautiful walk over the top of rice terraces with gorgeous views, around 2km in each direction. It was pretty easy to find, but we followed this guide for info. We stopped for a fresh juice at Karsa Kafe; such a beautiful cafe with picturesque views over the rice terraces.

Chill at JungleFish - billed as the no beach beach club, Jungle Fish is home to a gorgeously luxe pool right in the middle of the Ubud 'jungle'. A definite treat day, but one I would have done every day if we had the money! We paid 100,000 rupiah each (only £5 each, but a luxury for us at the time!) for 'entry' to the pool - basically for your sun lounger and a towel. We arrived nice and early at 10am so we could get the most out of the day, and it was almost empty! This meant we could choose whatever sun loungers we wanted and have an hour or so of complete peace - it got busier after 11am. We ate lunch in the restaurant - a Greek wrap for me with lamb and tzatziki which was just so delicious - over looking the pool, and ordered drinks from the pool bar throughout the afternoon. Definitely a day of luxury! 

We got a taxi to JungleFish which cost 70,000 rupiah (around £3), but decided to walk back. JF is about 500m past Karsa Cafe, so definitely walkable should you not want to hire a bike / pay for taxis. The taxi queue at the end of the day was huge, which you might want to take in to consideration. We got bikes (mopeds) everywhere in SE Asia but didn't in Ubud - can't remember why! Be sure to check out Sheree's review of JungleFish here!

Where we ate / drank
Juice Ja Cafe - right near our accommodation, we ate lunch here soon after we arrived in Ubud. Good, light meals and all your health fads covered! Sorry, was that harsh? You know, wheatgrass shots, protein balls, chocolate-free-chocolate. In seriousness though, it was a nice little haunt. (TripAdvisor)

Warung Little India -  a bit of a walk from the main drag, but definitely worth it - for the interiors alone! Luckily the food was equally as appealing; the thali plates are a great way to try a bit of everything. (TripAdvisor)

Karsa Kafe - as I mentioned earlier, a great stop on the Campuhan Ridge walk. Take a book, and settle down. (TripAdvisor)

Kebun Bistro - we found local food was far nicer and plentiful in Ubud than Seminyak, but should you find yourself craving a quiche or a steak baguette, this French restaurant is for you! (TripAdvisor)

Melting Wok - super busy, for a reason! We both went for one of the daily specials and loved trying a different take on local cuisine - a great find. (TripAdvisor)

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