Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Travel Tuesday - Three Places

Today's Travel Tuesday prompt is one of my favourites! Bonnie has asked everyone to share three places, so here goes…

the place you have been that you have loved the most
Undoubtedly New Zealand. I was lucky enough to spend five weeks there seven years ago (WHAT THE ACTUAL F*£k! How has it been that long!) and I loved every minute of it. 

The country is just stunningly beautiful and everywhere you look your eyes are assaulted by an even more amazing view. I honestly can’t even describe how breath-taking New Zealand is (and these pictures definitely don't do it justice!). What makes it even more impressive is that the country contains every sort of landscape possible – rolling hills, stunning mountains, dark caves, sumptuous forests, glorious lakes, breath-taking glaciers, wonderful beaches and unusual vistas. There’s just so much to see and do that you can’t be bored and you can easily fill five weeks there. Plus the people are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Even though I’ve explored it so much already I can’t wait to return (this time for longer) and do it all over again.

the place you cannot wait to visit
There are a lot of places on my Bucket list – Amsterdam (which will be ticked off in less than two weeks!), Sweden, South Africa, Dubai and Seattle to name just a few, but the one I really can’t wait for? That would have to be Iceland. It’s the sort of place that looks and sounds made up as it just looks so different to anything I've ever seen or experienced. I can’t wait to go Puffin watching, visit the famous and beautiful Geysers and visit the Blue Lagoon. Plus there are the Northern Lights there. I would LOVE to see the Northern Lights. One day.

something about the place you live
London is one of my all-time favourite cities and I have to pinch myself when I realise I LIVE here. How awesome is that! I get to experience the amazing theatre productions at the NationalTheatre (three booked for the rest of the year – A Small Family Business, Medea and Ballyturk), I get to do my weekly run along The Southbank with views like the below, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square are on my bus route and I can be at the glorious Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park after just one twenty minute bus journey. Living the dream I tell you, living the dream.

What about you - what country/city would you love to visit?

Travel Tuesday

Sunday, 27 April 2014

When I move I will fill my house with lovely stuff!

So here's the thing, the new flat/dwelling/hovel/house thing is not going well. It's still ridiculously frustrating, time consuming and stressful. Nothing has really improved since I wrote my Sunday morning house buying rant post back in February. We still haven't moved, although on the plus side we might have made a decision about where to move to, so at least that's something But that does not mean we're close to actually doing it and you know actually moving. Gosh it's frustrating! but I'm not moaning today, instead I thought I'd share some of the pretty things that I will be putting in my new house or shoebox when it finally arrives in my life. After all these things are what is making me continue the whole painful process - surely I can treat myself to something lovely once we finally do move - yes?!

new house stuff

blue bowlchest of drawers / chevron pillowglass vase

Clearly I'm having a moment with pink things, at least according to the above! And whilst I know that I can't realistically spend £80 on old suitcases/storage boxes it's super tempting right now! So any other lovely things you've spotted that I should keep an eye on for when this palaver is all over and we've moved?

Friday, 25 April 2014

Things making me smile!

It's Friday - hooray! This is my favourite day of the week for some very obvious reasons like you know the end of the working week and two days of fun times ahead. To celebrate Friday I thought I'd take a moment and consider the things that I've been enjoying the most recently, you know those small things that make life pretty awesome and that sometimes you don't appreciate properly. So below are my current happy thinks, what are the things that you're currently enjoying?

Easter biscuits, when they're this pretty who can help it?

Splashing out on bits and bobs from Hobby Craft to use in the sewing projects I'm planning

Reading. I went through a period a while back where I couldn't get into any book I tried but thankfully that seems to be over and I'm devouring any and every book I choose. Thank goodness for that. This is the next book on my list - I can't wait!

Clipping recipes out of magazines and wishing I had the time (and money) to make them all!

Trip planning for my upcoming Amsterdam trip and a jaunt up to Manchester soon 

 Watching the crazy pheasants in my parents garden

Frozen. I've finally watched Frozen again and it's still as brilliant as I remember. We watched it as a family over Easter and whilst my parents were sceptical at first they were still hooting with laughter with the rest of us

Toasted hot cross buns. Oh how I wish these were year round food items!

Fresh flowers. They're just so pretty and they brighten up my day (no matter how bad it's been)

Spending time with old friends and catching up over cake - is there anything better?

My brand new neon pink notebook, surely this will make me super organised?!

Baking - this time it was peanut butter brownies, scrumptious!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Touring the Houses of Parliament

Happy Tuesday and happy four day week! Hooray for that, right? I'm totally in love with this week being short - it makes such a difference doesn't it? This year April is most certainly my favourite month what with two four day weeks, plus my birthday and a holiday. It's hard to be unhappy this month, even with the last few days of rainy grey days. 

At the start of the month, when it was sunny (do you remember that time?) I had a brilliantly fun and super touristy day in London town with uni friends. I hadn't seen these two for ages, but as is the way with people you've known for ten years(!!!!) and people you've lived with we snapped straight back into our usual (distinctly immature) ways and had an awesome day of catch ups and fun times. We started at The Southbank food market and after eating a ton of food, listening to some awesome choirs and putting the whole world to rights we headed across the river for a touristy walk to our final destination of The Houses of Parliament. We spotted: Trafalgar Square. Check. The Mall. Check, Horse Guards Parade. Check. Whitehall. Check. Downing Street. Check. Westminster Abbey. Check. 

My commute to work used to take me past the glorious Houses of Parliament and every day I'd admire the stunning facade and think 'I really must book a tour'. I'd heard how fascinating it was and as a history fan I knew I'd love a nosey round this historic building. But as is always the case I just never got round to it...until the start of this month and boy was i glad to finally go on the tour - it's truly fascinating!

We were booked into the 4pm tour so after a crazy amount of security akin to a transatlantic flight we met our brilliant tour guide and headed in. Sadly you aren't allowed to take pictures but I can assure you it's as beautiful and stunning as you'd imagine. It's also a hell of a lot smaller than you'd think. Honestly I don't know how everyone fits in there. The tour starts at the very far end of the building, where the Queen enters for the opening of Parliament, then you head into the Robing Room, which is where she puts on her ceremonial outfits. You then head through different chamber rooms and lobby's before visiting the House of Lords and then the House of Commons. Finally you end in the massive Westminster Hall.

As I can't share any pictures with you I thought I'd share some of the fascinating facts that I learnt during the (almost) two hour tour, so here goes...
* Westminster Hall is the place where politicians like Churchill have lain in state prior to their state funerals. In fact on the floor of the hall there are plaques commemorating each of them.
* Prince Albert (married to Queen Victoria) was in charge of sorting out the decor and he did a pretty impressive job. There is a LOT of colour, gorgeous paintings and some stunning works of art.
* The palace was originally the King or Queen's home in London. Henry VIII was the last resident of the palace
* Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster and was built in 1097 - wow!
*When the Palace of Westminster was bombed in the Second World War they managed to save Westminster Hall by diverting all the efforts from saving the Commons building and instead they focused on Westminster Hall. The hall was deemed irreplaceable and the Commons chamber was not.
* The Lords section of the palace (chamber and lobby) is far far grander than it's Commons counterparts. This is partly a result of the bombings in the Second World War. Once the war was over and they were rebuilding the Commons they couldn't justify too much expenditure. So the lobby is stone and plain colours whereas the lobby in the house of Lords has bright colours, golden trappings and plush coverings.
*The paintings throughout the Palace depict key moments in the countries history. For example The Queen's Robing Room is covered in paintings depicting the legend of King Arthur, elsewhere their is the Battle of Waterloo.

Fascinating right? Have you ever been on the tour, what was your favourite part and what did you find most fascinating?

Travel Tuesday

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Sewing Machine Plans

I was very lucky to open the above wondrous item on my birthday - isn't it beautiful? As I've mentioned once or twice on this blog I've been wanting this machine for a while now as I want to alter some of my clothes, make some more cushions and generally be a bit more crafty. 

Now that I've got the sewing machine I need to get some other bits and pieces and get started! First things first I've started to collect a few bits of material for my upcoming awesome projects as well as some super cute ribbon to add as the finishing touches to said projects.

I couldn't resist the above cute and colourful additions to my fast developing sewing bits and bobs stash - I mean could you?! I've also added some pins, thread and scissors to the stash so it's about time I got crafting. 

First up I think I might make some bunting so that I can practise all the stitches, etc. Then I'm going to start on one of the following:

 a bow belt, isn't it cute?
a high waisted skirt - apparently it only takes an hour...

a pom pom trim cushion - cute or what!

Eventually (I'm thinking ten years or so) I'm going to attempt to reupholster our sofa, make a dress and alter some clothes that are too big for me. But for now I'm going to have fun practicing everything. What about you, what is your latest sewing project? 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Birthday celebrations!

So it's official, I'm now twenty nine...eek! How did that happen. That's just crazy talk if you ask me. I swear I'm meant to be twenty five at the most, the fact that I'm now twenty nine is absolute madness! My birthday was actually on Saturday so I've had some time to get used to the idea, but still! I was very lucky indeed to be in sunny Portugal on the day itself, so I thought I'd share with you some of the things I got up to. Just to make you all insanely jealous - yes I'm kind like that! 

Playing multiple games of Uno and Banagrams

Flicking through Empire magazine and home decorating ones

Munching on these scrumptious banana pancakes

Smothering my poor sun burnt legs in moisturiser - clearly I've not got more intelligent with age!

Eating a HUGE cooked breakfast of eggs, beans, toast and mushrooms - scrumptious!

Sinking my toes into the sand

Receiving lovely cards and gifts from my friends and family

Chilling with my two favourites! 

Treating myself to a three hour long lunch with lovely family and close family friends where I ate a chicken club sandwich with potato wedges - as when you're on holiday sandwiches always come with fries!

Enjoying the beautiful sunshine

Drinking my first coffee in a week - blissful!

Sunbathing (in the shade thanks to the aforementioned sunburn)

Walking along the beach

Finally managing to finally pack my suitcase - nothing like leaving it to the last minute!

 Eating a Subway dinner on the plane

Making silly faces with these two randoms!

Playing umpteen games of Pictureka on the iPad - I'm addicted

Admiring the colourful cliffs

Calming my panicked sister on the flight home :(

Almost throwing up my scrumptious pancake and sandwich lunch thanks to the hilly car journey home...

 Searching for shells on the almost empty beach

Starting a new book - James Patterson for a light read after finally starting (and finishing book two of) Game of Thrones!

Staring at the seemingly never-ending Mediterranean Sea

So there we go, that's how I celebrated my 29th name day (as they say in A Game of Thrones). Not a bad way to spend a birthday if you ask me! I hope you had an equally awesome Saturday too - what did you get up to? 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Touristy times in Tavira

Greetings friends and how are you! I've just got back from Portugal so as you can imagine this week isn't my favourite ever! Although I am trying to be positive and focus on the good things - a four day work week, a four day weekend and birthday cocktails tomorrow night. So far it's sort of working, but let's be honest it would be better if I was still sat on the beach sunning myself. Hey ho that's not to be, or at least not until I win the lottery *crosses fingers and toes*. Anywho for today's Travel Tuesday post I thought I'd skip back to last Wednesday and one of my Portugese adventures, so settle in with a coffee and read on...

The weather in Portugal last Wednesday wasn't the best - it was a little grey and only about 20 degrees. So not bad weather but not the blue skies and high 20 temperature of the rest of the week. Thankfully we'd planned on a trip to Tavira, so a greyer day was fine and fitted perfectly! Tavira is a fishing town east of Faro about an hour from the border of Spain. Despite numerous trips to Vale do Lobo over the years I'd never made it to Tavira before and I'm rather thankful that this has now been rectified as it's such a lovely town. 

The small town has a river running through it and there are a variety of bridges - old and new - connecting both sides together. There's not loads to see in the town but it's a lovely town to wander through, there are lots of beautiful tiles and unusual buildings as well as a number of hidden parks and green areas. 

At the top of the hill there's an absolutely stunning castle and church which are a must visit. The castle itself was rebuilt in 800bc and it's only partially standing now - with just some of the walls still standing. But it's definitely a must see. 

You can wander through the old ruins of the castle where they've created a beautiful garden in the middle which was in bloom when we visited. 

If you're feeling adventurous you can also climb the steep castle stairs and you'll be rewarded with the most stunning views of the town below you: across the river and rooftops to the sea in the distance. It really is wonderful.

Tavira is distinctly untouristy considering where it's located and it's relatively unspoilt by the consumerism of most other towns on the Algarve coast. Though in the centre of the town there are a few more touristy spots for lunch which are around the park and meeting square. We headed their for lunch but steered clear of the spots with people stood outside enticing us in. This was a good idea as the place we settled on served delicious sandwiches and pasta for half the price of other touristy spots - definitely worth the extra half an hour of wandering!

So there we go, that's Tavira in a nutshell. I'd most definitely go back another time and recommend it to others - it really was a lovely spot for a morning away from the beach. 

Travel Tuesday