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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Owl Guy: Moving home

elephant and castle

As Candy has recently mentioned we are leaving South London, however our new flat isn’t ready yet so we are bridging the gap by staying with my parents’ for a few months. We’ve spent the last few days moving all of our stuff. As most of you probably know packing up your whole life is a strange experience, on the one hand it is really stressful but there are all the little moments when you find some nostalgic trinket that hasn’t been seen in years. Candy and I have spent lots of time sitting on the floor amidst the mountains of boxes reminiscing about the things we are packing and the fun times we have had in the flat. We have had some great times in our flat and in this part of London, but after 3 years it is time for a change and we are excited to be moving.

We have been living in our flat just the 2 of us for the last 3 years and to be moving back in with my parents is strange. We have spent the last few days trying to fit into our new roles, it is obviously pretty different from when we used to stay here during university holidays. Although it was strange at first it seems to be going really well. There are some other definite advantages to living back at home, at least for a little while. One of the big ones is that we get access to a much larger kitchen! The kitchen in our flat was nice but pretty small but here we will have space to make some slightly more fancy stuff, some of which will probably make it into the blog. Another advantage is that since we are outside of London now I can use my car and so lots of little trips are on the cards!

On the other hand, the internet in this part of the countryside definitely leaves something to be desired! And the commute to London each day for work is going to be hefty. Plus, we will have to work hard to get used to all of this change, and living with other people again.

Couple happies
kissing couples

We are looking forward to the next couple of months and getting our new flat ready, which will be a great adventure! However there is still a part of me that will always miss our little flat in Walworth, it will always be the first flat we had for just the two of us and that makes it special.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Happy Birthday Dan!

Baby husband

It's my husband's birthday today, so I thought I'd write a quick note to him on here, in public... It seems like a good idea right now, but we'll see how I feel about this in the morning!

Happy birthday beautiful Dan. I probably don't say this enough, but I love and appreciate you so much. From the very beginning of our relationship when you were barely 20, you've looked after me, supported me, and entertained me. We can talk and talk together for days, even if we do sometimes tell each other the same story more than once, or vehemently agree with one another... both arguing on the same side of the debate. You're a kind and generous human being; you are overflowing with boundless affection and tenderness for everyone you meet (except for people who stop walking very suddenly in front of you on a busy street... and wasps). I am very grateful to have met you and to be able to say with certainty, that we will always comfort one another when we're sad, and rejoice together when we're happy.

We've got a lot of stress coming up, what with this house-move falling at every hurdle, but I know that we will be okay because you're pragmatic and hilarious - a winning combo in a crisis.

Also, a big shout out to Dan's sister Bex. (Somehow, they both ended up with the same birthday, five years apart. That's Bex and Dan in the photo above) Bex, you're a schnügly tinosphere and I love you lots. In the words of Kierkegaard, "You don't know you're beautiful - that's what makes you beautiful."

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

South London, I'm going to miss you!

South London love

As I mentioned recently, this week is going to be our last week in Camberwell. By the end of this week, we'll be living with Dan's parents near Cambridge. When we return to London, it will be to the North East of the city, so we are going to have to wave goodbye to this excellent area. Today, we wandered around a bit, and I took some photos of things I'm going to miss. I also collected a few older photos together, and we're just going to have a tiny jaunt down memory lane. Or... I am going to, anyway. You're just going to have to humour me as I get into one of my special nostalgic moods. These photographs aren't necessarily the most beautiful, but they show bits and pieces that I am going to miss about this area.

Jerk Chicken shack
South London nail bar
Night time in South London
Wintery London trees
Urban fire escape

There's so much I could say about living in South London. I've lived in a lot of places, but South London has been one of the most interesting. There's always something going on but the transport links here can be a bit crap. While you can get most places by tube (London Underground) in central London, the further South you go, the fewer train and tube stations there are, which means that I ended up spending a lot of time on the bus. I've heard a lot of snobbish comments about London buses in the past, but I've always found them to be a fantastic way to see the city. Teaching in South London schools, I've had insights into parts of the London cultural landscape that I never would have been able to experience otherwise. In the time I worked in Camberwell Library, I got to interact with people of all ages from the local community, from the tiny little old lady who'd come in with a sack of overdue books over her shoulder and go, "Sorry these are late, I broke my pelvis last week..." to the kids whose parents would drop them off at the library first thing on a Saturday morning, and pick them up when the library closed in the evening.

Near our flat, we've had a gorgeous park where we've been on rainy jogs, outfit photo expeditions, and plenty of disastrous barbecues... we spent a scary evening watching lightning strike in the park, as a group of teenagers partied on the hill in front of us. Dan tried to learn to rollerblade in the park, and we've eaten many an ice cream there this summer. I used to walk through the park every Saturday morning on my way to the library.

The month before we moved to our flat, there were some really serious riots in London. We were in Australia with my grandparents when this was happening, watching the stories unfold on the news. My London geography was pretty bad at the time, so I assumed that it wasn't going on near our new flat. When we moved in, all of the shop windows on the high street were boarded up and people weren't really leaving their houses much. There were burn marks and puddles of melted plastic on the pavement and it wasn't a pretty sight. Over the next three years, the businesses mostly rebuilt themselves, people came together to support each other and the main road is getting more and more bustling by the day.

It's an interesting time to be living in Camberwell. It's getting more expensive to live here, and a lot of people (ourselves included) have been priced out of the area. This kind of gentrification can be 'great for the area' but very damaging for communities. I really hope that the communities in the area spanning Elephant&Castle and Camberwell can thrive and survive the changes that are coming.

South London, it's been real. It's not been the best three years of my life, but it's been interesting and very, very eventful! I'm going to look back on my time here very fondly, and I'm definitely coming back to visit a few of my favourite little shops and cafes here!

Walworth Shadows

How long have you lived where you live now? How has it changed in the time that you've lived there?

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

I totally dig: Oatcakes in Autumn

nairns oatcake remix

So Autumn is here (did I mention that before? I don't think I did...) and something that I really crave when September rolls around, is oatcakes. When I was a teenager, I'd have oatcakes when I got back from school as a little post-education snack. My topping of choice is always cheese and Vegemite. Yeah, I do like Marmite, but if I had to choose between them for some reason, I'd always go for Vegemite, Marmite's Australian cousin. Anyway, this post isn't about Vegemite (that's a whole other post for another day, I think); this post is about my love affair with oatcakes.

I think what I love most about oatcakes - nostalgia aside - is how versatile they are. You can eat them for breakfast, with some peanut butter and banana on them; you can dip them in tinned tomato soup, like tea biscuits. But I think that where they really come into their own, is as a cheese biscuit. I made a few of my favourite cheesy oatcake creations, and let Dan be my official taste tester. What a lucky boy! I made a blue cheese and grape combo, a cheddar and chutney combo, and my old favourite, the cheddar and Vegemite (cheddamite?) combo.

oatcake cheese platter
man eats cheese biscuit

Now, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Our flat is full of boxes right now. We've been eating dinner off our laps for the last week, and there's nowhere inside where I can take pretty photographs. So I made a makeshift table scenario just outside our front door on the pavement. Passers-by thought we were having a really bizarrely situated oatcake picnic, which must have been interesting for them. The things we bloggers do for a good photo, eh?

A year or two ago, Nairns brought out a range of sweet oat biscuits (or cookies, for my American friends). I've got really fond memories of eating these after a long day at work during my teacher training. If you're looking for the most autumnal treat you can find this side of the Atlantic, the Fruit and Spice biscuits are what you need. Sometimes I feel like the UK hasn't capitalised on the concept of Autumn (or Fall, if you prefer) as much as the North Americans. I'm perpetually fascinated by the way America manages to market an entire season to customers. I don't know whether to despair at it, or throw myself into it wholeheartedly. I admit, part of me is jealous of the idea of pumpkin spice EVERYTHING...

cosy tea and biscuits

It's probably worth mentioning that this post isn't sponsored by Nairns, but I'm definitely not saying that I'd reject them if they wanted to collaborate with me in the future...! ;) Enjoy the rest of the week everyone, and let me know what you'd put on an oatcake!

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cool Cats' Café - the coolest café in Camberwell!

cafe review london

There are so many amazing cafés in London these days. Coffee culture has taken off here in a big way, and it's only going to get bigger, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it seems as if there's a gorgeous café with incredible home baked pastries on every street corner in this city, and a lot of them have a queue coming out of the door. That said, I don't think that there's enough love for cafés south of the river - there are some absolutely incredible family-run businesses in South London, but there's a misconception that everything south of Borough Market is some kind of barren wasteland full of bin-fires, rancid chicken shops, and people using their own shoes as telephones to the beyond... Basically, what I'm trying to say is that people are scared of South London, which is a massive shame.

I've lived in Camberwell for three years now, and I've visited a fair few cafés in the area. However, I actually only discovered Cool Cats' Café when I was frantically googling somewhere close to where we live that we could visit with my in-laws, since Dan's Mum is super allergic to our cat and can't come into our house! It has only just occurred to me when writing this that it was maybe a bit of an odd thing to do, to take someone who is allergic to cats, to a café named after cats. Oh well.

After a leisurely walk through the park and past a bustling baptist church, we found the Cool Cats' Cafe to be a perfect brunch escape. Dan's Dad was happy with the up-tempo jazz music that was playing, and I really loved how light and airy the place was. Dan and his Dad both chose the Camberwell Breakfast, which was a totally home made Full English Breakfast, right down to the baked beans. Dan's Mum had Eggs Florentine and I had Eggs Benedict - I'm pretty sure the hollandaise sauce was home made too, and it was absolutely decadent. I got chatting to Roger who helps run the place, and he recommended sprinkling a few drops of tabasco sauce on the top which was INCREDIBLE.

south london cuppa
fry up south london
family brunch cafe review

After we'd eaten, Dan and his parents had a lot of stuff to discuss about the logistics of us moving back to stay with them for a couple of months, as well as the new flat we'll be moving into when we come back to London, so while they got on with those discussions, I took the chance to snap a few photos around the café. We were lucky to be visiting at a strange time of morning, so there weren't too many people around. I chatted more with the people who worked at the café and they told me about all of the art exhibitions they've hosted, and some of the awesome live music events they hold in the evenings. I'd absolutely love to go back to experience the café in its restaurant incarnation because I can imagine that the ambiance is really different but just as comfortable and laid-back. The dinner and cocktail menus look really good.

bar glasses dof
cafe idea south london
cafe cool gig events
camberwell arts scene

Initially, I was going to write, "if you're in the area, you should visit Cool Cats' Café", but I'm going to revise that. I actually think that this place is worth travelling for. The people who work there are really helpful and kind, the food is gorgeous, and it strikes this fantastic balance between hearty south london fry up and modern sophisticated hangout. My in-laws loved it, Dan loved it, I loved it, and I think you would probably love it too. South London, I'm really going to miss you. <3

dancing chef picture

Cool Cats' Café can be found at 149 Southampton Way, Camberwell, SE5 7EW. If you go, tell them I sent you!

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Behind the scenes on Owl Girl - The Blog Hop

blog secret behind the scenes

What do bloggers actually do all day? Blogging can't be that hard can it? Don't you guys just go to tonnes of parties and get given loads of free stuff?

Well, I can't speak for all bloggers, which is kind of the point. We're all different and we get up to a lot of different stuff, we've all got unique perspectives and outlooks on everything. (Funny that, what with us all being different and individual human beings...) Anyway, I was nominated by Hayley-Eszti, who is an absolutely fantastic blogger (are blog-crushes a thing? Because I think I might have one on her...), to do this little 'blog hop' challenge, which is where I get to give you guys a little insight into my creative process with this here blog! I hope you find it interesting! Oh and most of the pictures in this post are outtakes from other posts, because ~behind the scenes~...

Writing blog notes

1. What am I working on/writing right now?

At the moment, I am planning quite a few foodie posts, starting with a review of another amazing independent cafe in Camberwell, and a few recipes too. Food is a big part of my life - Dan and I love cooking together, and visiting lots of the amazing restaurants that London has to offer. I want to do more outfit posts because putting outfits together is such fun for me! I try really hard not to repeat outfits because I like the challenge. Once we've moved into our new flat, you will be able to expect a lot of home decor posts and a house tour as we about decorating our first proper home together. I mean, we've been living together for years and years now, but always in places that we've not been able to decorate! I can't wait to share that process with you!

2. How does my blog differ from others of its genre?

Like Hayley-Eszti, I don't really like to compare this blog to other people's! It makes me sad, and it doesn't do anyone justice. Some of the things I love about my blog is that it's packed with lots of pretty photos that I took myself (or that Dan took of me!) and it provides a great meeting point for some of my biggest interests: fashion, music, food, the city, craft, the countryside, travel... I feel like I can write with confidence about these things and do the topics justice. So that's what I love about my blog and my writing - I know I kind of cheated with my answer to that question, but it's my blog, so nyeugh...!

Cheeky Basil herbs

3. Why do I write what I do?

I blog because it is the apex of writing, photography and creativity. I am happiest when I'm making something, either physically, or on the internet. I can look at it and say, "I MADE that!" which is so satisfying. I've been making things and writing things for longer than I can remember (somewhere there's a cassette tape of me telling a long, long story about a princess who killed all of her prospective husbands by turning them into inanimate objects using magical powers. I don't remember making this story up but I LOVE that my parents thought to record me telling it!) and ultimately, I want my career to involve creativity. It would be a dream come true to be able to make things, create outfits, make music, write, and take beautiful photographs for a living. And hopefully with a lot of hard work from me, and a bit of help from all of you guys, that could become a reality some day!

4. How does my writing process work?

I start by making a big ol' list in my little notebook. There are so many lists of possible blog posts and fragments of ideas in there, and the lists are always growing. Sometimes something urgent will happen, like I go to an incredible cafe that I simply must blog about, or we go on a surprise holiday that means I HAVE to write a post about aeroplane fashion... But mostly I will blog about things that I think you guys would like to read. I block off some weekend time to take photos for a few posts, which usually involves a little trek to somewhere pretty, and then once I'm satisfied that there are enough photos to choose from (sometimes we take hundreds...) we come home. Dan makes me a cup of tea in my favourite mug, and I bury myself underneath a bunch of blankets to edit photos, write, and assemble my post. Once I'm satisfied, I check the previews and then publish it. Dan proof-reads it once it is live, which means I usually have to make a couple of tiny edits. When we're sure that it's okay, I promote it on social media and you guys come and read it! :)

Cat in shot! Ha!

I hope this was fun to read - I feel like I've been quite honest in this post, and I'd love to know what you guys think! Is there any kind of post that you'd like to see more of? After all, as much as blogging is for me, I want to create something that makes people happy!

I'd like to nominate Jessica, whose blog The Pyreflies is this incredible mix of gamer culture and twee fashion; Victoria from VVNightingale which is a blog packed with amazing fashion and lifestyle picks, and some honestly written posts; and Kerri, whose blog Crumbs in the Bed documents her adventures in academia and Belgium.

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

This Autumn is going to be BIG

Autumn resolutions

I think that Autumn will always represent new beginnings to me, for as long as I live. While the leaves are falling off the trees and the weather is getting wetter, signalling the end of summer, I'm planning new projects and looking ahead to all of the exciting things there are to come. As a child, Autumn would be heralded by new shoes, a new pencil case, and plenty of academic milestones. Now that I'm out of education, I have to work harder to justify this innate sense of 'newness' that comes around every Autumn.

This year is going to be a bit different though as the next few months are going to be some of the busiest of my life. In fact, the Autumnal fun has already started with a surprise last-minute invitation to BloggersFestival, an exciting networking event organised by Scarlett who blogs over at Scarlett London. This was my first ever bloggers networking event, and I was really bloody nervous beforehand (and a bit during too), but I think it ended up going pretty well! I had some really interesting chats with some nice brand representatives from Urban Outfitters, Ecco, Bee Good, and loads of others too, as well as picking up some adorable little goodies such as a Lee Stafford hairbrush (which I've yet to try) and a lovely lip balm from Bee Good. The best bit for me though, was actually getting to meet an absolute boatload of really inspirational bloggers face to face, and make some great new friends. It was fantastic to have conversations with people who completely understand "Wait a sec, I just need to take a photo of my own hand" and who don't think it's weird to rearrange all of the lamps in the house to get the lighting just-so for an Instagram photo. I've really enjoyed catching up on their blogs this afternoon!

bloggers networking cards
Bloggers I met and loved: Cassy Fry, The Lifestyle Directory, Married to a Geek, Jessica in Your Ear, Miss Sue Flay, The Little Colt Posts, One Little Vice, and Captain ChARGHley!

So what else is going on in Candyland this Autumn then? Well, in a couple of weeks, Dan and I will be moving out of our little flat in central London, back to his parents' house near Cambridge for at least a month. The landlord of our current flat wants to sell the place, and the place we're trying to move to isn't ready yet, so we're going to bridge the gap in the countryside. For my everyday life this will mean LOTS of commuting and living out of boxes whilst project-managing a renovation back in London. Oh, and our cat will be staying in Brighton with my stepdad *weep weep weep*. For you guys reading my blog, this means some beautiful countryside scenery, some home decor inspiration, and maybe even a few recipes from the beautiful kitchen of Dan's parents. Hopefully, by the end of November, we'll be safely installed in our new home, and a whole new chapter of our lives can begin!

So let's talk about some of my goals through this weird old Autumn:

- Step up my blogging game - make more regular posts, and keep them exciting despite the oncoming stress-deluge.
- Cook some lovely meals for Dan's family.
- Make our new home completely beautiful.
- Start to introduce exercise back into my life. I've been holding off on the exercise front over the last few months because I've been adjusting to life with a diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but I've been told by several doctors and researchers that Pilates and swimming will help me, so once we've moved, I am going to get the heck ON that exercise.

One of my other favourite things about Autumn is the fact that my sense of style is already inherently Autumnal. I have to deal with so much, "You must be really hot" and "Why are you wearing tights?" all Summer, and in Winter I just have to cover up my carefully planned outfits with a coat... but Autumnal fashion is when I come into my own. I love it! I especially love having an excuse to crack out the kilt collection.

Back to School kilt
autumnal fashion uk

So, Autumn... come at me bro! I'm ready for you. If you love Autumn like I do, and you're a nostalgic soul, why not look at what I wore last September, or my 2012 "Autumn Resurrection".

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