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Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My winter pilgrimage

bokeh passports
brittany ferries porthole
rainy window ship
brittany ferries
cheese plate pont aven
cheese goodness brittany
ferry bar drinks
dan eats a biscuit
inside pont aven ferry
cabin selfie
cabin bed brittany ferries
boat breakfast pont aven

Every year we take a trip to my dad's place. He lives in Brittany, and although there are a lot of ways to get there, my absolute favourite is the overnight Brittany Ferries crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo. We get the same ferry almost every time - the Pont Aven - which is by far the best one in my opinion. I love the kitsch mix of patterned carpets, textured tiling and colourful seat designs, and the décor in general, but really I just love being able to get on the boat, dump all my luggage in the sleeping cabin, get dinner, go to the bar for a drink and then sleep through hours and hours of the crossing until morning, when I can get a cooked breakfast and watch the sun rise all blue and inky in the winter sky.
I have an entire set of traditions surrounding this boat journey - I always buy a little plate of cheeses with my meal even if I am completely full after eating the main course, and I also always get a packet of Prince biscuits (they're a bit like the chocolate BN biscuits if you remember those) to eat as a snack in the middle of the night in the cabin.
There's always some kind of cheesy entertainment going on in the bar, which is kind of magnificent against the bleak, blackness of the winter sea spray which pummels the boat as it sails through the night. Plus, the mojito in this bar is the cheapest and most lovingly made cocktail I think I've ever had. We usually sit in the bar for a bit and read or I write in my diary for a while, and then we head back to the cabin where I'll stick a film on my laptop and fall asleep.
I know the ferry isn't really the glamorous option, and some people are probably worried about getting sea sick or being uncomfortable, but while I can't speak for everyone, I've always found that I'm fine on this crossing. I pop a couple of travel-sickness tablets before the boat leaves, and this usually makes me drowsy enough to sleep by bedtime. The cabin is cosy and comes with its own toilet and shower, plus there's this ultra-soothing bagpipe music to wake you up just in time for breakfast in the morning. I have a huge amount of romance and nostalgia attached to Brittany Ferries, and to the Pont Aven boat in particular. For me it symbolises going to visit my dad, and it's also one of the highlights of winter for me, after my birthday!
I hope you enjoyed these photos - I got a brand new lens from Dan's parents for my birthday, so I've been having lots of fun playing around with it.

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?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Owl Guy: City breaks for couples

Romantic holiday New York

Hi, It’s Dan again! This time I am going to talk about holidays. You might have seen a few of Candy’s posts about holidays we have been on, and if so you might have noticed that we tend to go on a particular kind of holiday most of the time. Yup, city breaks! Now I do love to soak up the rays on the beach, but given our busy lives and thus limited time we want to pack as much “doing stuff” into our holidays which means that we inevitably end up going on city breaks.

Seoul Night Lights
Couple in Norway
Oslo Tram Guide tourism
Western Couple in Korea
Parasol or Umbrella Seoul
Shibuya Guide Starbucks

Going to a new city as a couple is great, you get to share all of the new exciting things with someone but there aren’t so many people on the holiday that you all want to do different things. (For group holidays I would totally recommend skiing!) Going to a new city is such a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, there are always so much to explore! Our favourite way of exploring a city is walking, most cities, when you get down to it aren’t really that big, even London or New York! and walking lets you get a real feel for the atmosphere and take in some of the more obvious sights (how better to look at Korean palaces, downtown New York or the Tokyo tower?). If you do have a long way to go public transport is also great, not only is it usually pretty cheap but you get to feel like a local, just for a few moments! Obviously all that walking has to end somewhere, we usually try to fit in a few local museums and galleries, a good bit of shopping and of course, most importantly lots of restaurants! I mean I’m pretty sure it is a saying that “The best way to get to know somewhere is by its food!” Speaking of museums, everywhere has some totally unique ones and it is great fun to explore them. Oslo has the Fram museum (it has a giant boat in it!) which Candy blogged about, Tokyo has a museum for basically anything you can think of and Venice has a fascinating little museum about the local Jewish population!

Venice sunset scene
Budapest twilight

If you have a little bit of extra time it can be really fun to make a little day trip or two out into the countryside (or another city, whatever floats your boat). We did this during our honeymoon in Tokyo, we made 2 day trips, getting the shinkansen (bullet train) out first to the Tokogawa shrine and then to Aokigahara forest where we got caught in a thunderstorm in a the forest on a mountain and thought we would never make it home!
Finally, one of my favourite things about going on city breaks as a couple is that you get to experience all of these awesome things with someone that you love and spend some time together totally away from all the stresses and anxieties of life! So what kind of holidays do you guys like, and do you usually go with family, as a couple, with friends or as a solo adventurer?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

My long distance relationship... with my family!

coping with relatives overseas

Like pretty much every other young adult on the planet, I have a complex relationship with ‘home’. Increasing numbers of children are growing up in composite families, and I’ve always been able to joke about being ‘the child of a broken home’. Even my friends whose parents are still together find themselves in a strange between-space as they leave their families and find their way in the world. ‘Home’ doesn’t necessarily feel like ‘home anymore’… But that’s another post for another day. Today I’m going to talk about my long distance relationship with my family.

90s family photo
riverside nostalgia

My mum is Australian, so I’ve always been stretched across the hemispheres of the planet. One of my earliest memories is wishing that there was such a thing as a video phone so that I could see all of these strange family members who wanted to speak to me down the phone once a week. (Obviously this was pre-skype, pre-facetime, and pre-internet in homes!) We went to visit them when I was three – god knows how my mum managed to keep three-year-old Candy occupied on a 24 hour flight… And I was bombarded with affection and love by this army of fast-talking, loud-laughing Australians. I’ve been back to visit them five times since, sometimes for months at a time, and every time I leave, it hurts more.

family reunion sydney
tiny fashionista coffeeshop
port douglas grandparents

When my parents split up, I split my time more-or-less evenly between the two of them. I lived out of my school rucksack from the age of ten, and soon became accustomed to the feeling of always missing someone. When I was at my Dad’s house, I missed my mum and my silly Stepdad, I missed the big sofa, and I missed the endless snacks available for my delectation. When I was at my mum’s house, I missed my Dad’s music, I missed my baby brother and sister, and I missed having someone to chat to, the moment I got back from school. I was always at home, but I was also never at home.

My long distance family story doesn’t stop there. When I was eighteen, my Dad moved to France with my stepmum and my little brother and sister. I had just finished my A-Levels, and I was tentatively preparing to move to Cambridge in the Autumn. Around that time, my Mum decided to spend some time with her family in Australia, and suddenly a natural ‘baby-bird-flies-the-nest’ scenario was out of the question. It was more of a ‘shit-the-nest-blew-away-in-a-storm’ kinda deal. I was essentially an international student, in terms of my living scenario, but I didn’t have any of the special storage allowances afforded to students from overseas. I remember getting a couple of comments in my first term at university about why I had SO MUCH STUFF in my room – in truth, I had ALL my stuff in my room…

These days, my Dad is still in France, and my baby brother and sister are old enough to chat using Skype and FaceTime. My mum lives back in Australia, and battles with the same ‘where is home?’ struggle that I do. My story is far from unique. One of my friends’ parents recently moved back to China after raising her in the UK. Many other friends moved to the UK to go to university, leaving their families behind in Poland, Italy, Spain and all sorts of other places. And whilst Skype and FaceTime make keeping in touch easier than when I was a child, they don’t take away that feeling of displacement that you get from being part of a long-distance family. And don’t get me wrong, when I say family, I don’t just mean those who are related to you by blood. Half of my family isn’t. Blood has nothing to do with the hollow feeling of missing someone you love.

I’m a firm believer in re-imagining the idea of home and making it resonate with you personally. We’re fed this idea of home being a physical space, occupied by blood relatives and where hearty, nostalgic food is readily available. Home is advertised to us as a place that we can always snap back to like an elastic band, even if we stray far away…

Balls to that. What about all of us whose family homes now house other families? What about those whose childhood houses have been bulldozed or redeveloped?

Home doesn’t need to be a physical space at all, and even if we have to keep re-teaching that to ourselves for the rest of our lives, I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

very young siblings

The photos above are a selection of old photos and newer photos of my family. I don't have photos of everyone, as a lot of my photos are packed away, but I love them all so, so much (in case you didn't notice), and I miss every single one of them more than I could hope to express in words.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Opera House - Oslo on the cheap!

Oslo budget holiday
This wedge-shaped wonder was so spectacular that I thought it deserved its own post. Recently the Guardian did an article about Oslo on a budget (I’m sitting here feeling just a tiny little bit smug that I was ahead of the curve, albeit by only a couple of weeks) and they mentioned the fact that you can visit the Opera house for free. I had actually put a visit to this amazing architectural landmark top of my ‘things to do in Oslo’ list before we went, and I’m so glad we got to see it. I was adamant that I wanted to visit at dusk, and thankfully dusk lasts a REALLY LONG TIME in Oslo at this time of year. It looks beautiful and glacial in the daytime, but at night, all lit up, it’s too brutal-ethereal for words.
Norway Opera
Oslo glass building
Climbing Oslo Opera House
Norwegian Titanic
Stormy Fjord Norway
Norway street dance
Oslo lit up at night
You can walk all the way to the top and look over the fjord in the distance, and you can peek into the glowing core of the building through the polished, shard-like windows. I took… a lot… of photos. And Dan and I did a little vlog of our experience too. Don’t have the volume on full when you watch it though – it was very windy up at the top, since there was an apocalyptic rainstorm brewing overhead.


If you’re ever in Oslo, you have to pay the Opera house a visit. It’s free, it’s breathtaking, and you’ll be able to take some epic photographs no matter what time of year you go. Maybe next time I go to Oslo I’ll be able to afford to actually go inside and see an opera or ballet. That’s the dream anyway!

Shadow Lord Scandinavia

See what else we got up to on our Oslo mini break.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Food and coffee in Oslo

tim wendelboe review

Every holiday is a culinary tour for us. We spent our whole honeymoon hopping from cafe to restaurant to ramen bar to street food cart, and our anniversary mini-break to Oslo was no different. Read of our wondrous foodie adventures, and if you stay tuned until the bottom of the post, you may or may not be treated to an accidental 'Marilyn moment'...
We arrived at our hotel very late at night, although there was still a glow in the sky, it being midsummer Norway and all, so after what felt like the shortest night's sleep ever, we ventured downstairs for the most incredible breakfast buffet of our lives. There were eggs and a hot plate to fry them on, a build-your-own muesli bar, countless different types of cheese, and mountains of cured salmon. After all that, we didn't feel like we would ever be able to eat again. (But don't worry - we could!)
We bought a couple of all-day bus tickets from a convenience store called Narvesen and hopped on a bus to Grünerløkka, which we had been informed was the "Shoreditch of Oslo". I actually thought it was much more laid back and family-orientated than Shoreditch, but it was still definitely very trendy. We walked up the river for a bit and then stopped for an iced coffee at Tim Wendelboe. Despite coming in a martini glass, my iced cappuccino was in no way a novelty drink. This was seriously smooth, creamy coffee and it was perfectly brewed. Dan got a different type of iced coffee that came with some kind of aniseed twist. It was just as incredible as mine. The decor at Tim Wendelboe is minimal, with very few spots to sit - the room was dominated by an enormous coffee bean roaster, all clean and industrial looking. The counter tops were functional and wooden - everything was designed to make sure that the coffee spoke for itself, which it really did.

Oslo Street Fashion
Pattern mixing Summer
City break in Oslo
Grunerlokka Hipster

After a lot of wandering and mooching, a trip to the Munch museum, and a visit to the amazing Fram museum (a museum dedicated to the first successful mission to the south pole - more on this at a later date), we changed for a little date night dinner at Elias mat & sånt. This was recommended online as a reasonably priced, modern take on traditional Norwegian food, and it did not disappoint. We amused ourselves between delicious courses, with children's books in Norwegian, and browsed the extensive collection of board games. I'd really recommend this place and enjoyed the fabulous smoked salmon and poached egg salad - Dan had reindeer stew, which was served with a mountain of delicious, buttery mashed potato.
We were only in Oslo for a day and a half, but we managed to squeeze in trips to visit two gorgeous sandwich shops, the Grünerløkka Bakeri, and Godt Brød. Both did fantastic sandwiches. Perhaps Scandinavian sandwiches should be called Scandwiches? Anyway, this sample of two has convinced me that Oslo is the sandwich capital of the world. Fresh ingredients, beautiful flavour combinations and real passion about food. (I sound like a knob).

Date night Oslo
Asparagus date
Norwegian disney

We visited another coffee shop the morning before we left, called Mocca. Again, the design inside the shop was clean and slightly industrial but perfectly executed. We both ordered iced mochas and enjoyed them surrounded by young families and hip students scribbling in Moleskines. I enjoyed every single food and drink experience I had in Oslo even though it is a very expensive city. I would love to go back when I am richer and experience more of the culture that Oslo has to offer!
Yeah, I know basically all of the photos in this post are of my outfits and not food!!! Whatchoo gonna do about it? Stay tuned for more Oslo adventure posts as well as my packing essentials.

Oslo coffee shop
iced mocha oslo
Scandinavian minimalist chic

Striped top - h&m
Skirt - Dorothy Perkins
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Party dress - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - I have no idea... It used to belong to my mother. Ask her!

Oslo station tiger
Accidental upskirt
Windy day dress

Ooops.

P.S. Take a look at our vlog! There's bling! And licking!