Category Archives: travel

La belle france

September 19, 2015

Two weekends ago was saucisson and rosé vin and fromage. This weekend is not. This weekend is picking up final bits and bobs for the big day and also wondering what the ***** I’m going to do with 8 kilos of courgettes that found their way into my online grocery shop.

Thankfully the error wasn’t mine (I really did just order 2!) but that still doesn’t solve the issue of what I do with about 20 giant courgettes. I made a cake! …That got rid of all 1.5 of them. Sooo just 18.5 to go. I suppose I should probably try to eat more vegetables given the amount of artery-clogging food we ate in Provence…but the siren call of the cheese we smuggled home is very strong.

How gorgeous is Aix? Sadly while I was vainly attempting to document this prettiness and weathered windowpanes and cream walls everywhere, various sundry parts of my camera decided to essentially die on me…it’s about time I admitted I need new batteries, and a new memory card and potentially a new body, but in the meantime… here is a picture of a beach:

By the way, it looks idyllic and all, but it was so windy we were washing sand out of our scalps for days. Days. BUT THAT’S OKAY because beach and sea swimming and pals! it was honestly the loveliest weekend, and over far too quick. I would like to be back in a plaza drinking wine as the sun sets and restaurant lights softly fizz into life, chatting about everything and anything. Next week is cancelled & we’re all getting flights…yes?

The outtakes

July 1, 2015

A week home from Tanzania, and it’s still a little bit unreal. June has really been a whirlwind month for me (for us) and I think I’m still processing…

In fact I’ve been so busy in the week I’ve been home, especially thinking about healing my stomach (whoo* for not thinking tortilla chips could be wheat as well as corn!!) that I haven’t really thought much about Tanzania Tanzania as opposed to just remembering the azure wash of Zanzibarian water and wishing I were about to go swimming again. In awesome* news, I also have some sort of fluey ache and hayfever so. You know. All round pathetic health whimperings.


continue reading


June 25, 2015

Just back from a few days in Tanzania, visiting my fiance who was out there for a couple of weeks working on a project. We snuck off to Zanzibar for the weekend… I’m basically still processing. Funnily enough, so is my gut, because despite diligently eating much rice and meat rather than anything that might have a hint of flour, on the last day I ate half a bowl of Tortilla chips in a Mexican restaurant, thinking they were corn. Buuuut no, my GI tract is very clearly correcting me on that mistake.

There’s a few more snaps already on my Instagram, but there’ll be *lots* more on here soon, so you should definitely come back rafiki…


March 29, 2015

So, I think I’ve found another spirit city. Thanks to a weekend of lashing rain and biting wind, the Amsterdam I will remember (until we visit next) is a muted palette of greys and creams, brick and brown water. The bikes that sit everywhere drip-drip-dripped and co-ordinated dames und herren pedaled around with open umbrellas in one hand and handlebars in the other.

Speaking of cyclists, here’s an accurate depiction of how I felt during my 72 hours in Amsterdam, chancing my life at every crossing and cycle lane. I have never wished for owl-like neck reflexes so much in my life.

But, the potential for becoming a traffic-death statistic aside, I fell in love with candle-thin houses, three windows wide in the most gentrified city I’ve ever walked around – at least, obviously, the most central parts. Gratifying, actually, to see so many independent shops and eateries, even if they’ve all been hit with the hipster stick, (though, who am I kidding? I love a good sans serif logo design as much as the next person…). It was a city of casually-dressed cyclists riding ancient-looking sit-up-and-beg bikes (unlike London where so many people who cycle to work kit out like they’re Bradley Wiggins and act like they’re climbing the pyrenees rather than trying to get to their desks)

I wish the sun had shined a little so I could a) wear the other shoes I’d shoved into my backpack b) don the sunnies I had so optimistically purchased from Topshop and c) hire some bikes and enjoy Vondelpark a little more…but we ended up checking off so many restaurants, bars and museums, probably because of the weather, I almost can’t complain. (Almost).

Thank god for the internet and glutenvrij tips, too. How did we cope before Google? Moeders was one of my favourite meals we ate, Pancakes! does gluten-free dutch pancakes (NOM) and Greenwoods offered gluten-free bread topped with some amazing avocado-chicken-cottage cheese-poached egg goodness. So. Good. Don’t go to Amsterdam without stopping into Wynand Fockink either, for some tasty, tasty liqueur. If you like beer then Cafe Gollem is a can’t-miss and De Zotte near the Leidseplein was my favourite place for a great atmosphere to have a chilled-out drink.

Also, tip: do as we did and go Thursday-Saturday. Probably because we stayed away from the area around Centraal station, we managed to be leaving the dam just as the Stag parties were getting going…and that was some pretty sweet timing, I’ll say.

Monday calls…and my feet may ache from the cobblestones but I feel refreshed going into the week. If you need me, I’ll be reading The Miniaturist and daydreaming about those canal houses…

Sky Garden

January 25, 2015

Have you heard of the Sky Garden at the top of the Walkie Talkie? I had no idea it even existed until the fiance spotted an IanVisits blog post about it, and grabbed us two tickets. Amused because, we thought it would be like NYC’s Highline, but it’s more “highline for the 1%” as Sean put it…

Less sky ‘garden’, more ‘sky cafe and bar with a pleasant bit of foliage’. But the views are amazing, and the tickets are free, so, why not!?

I’ll tell you what though, it’s freaky to stand in front of the Shard at the left hand side of the viewing platform, walk to the right and see, directly in front of you…the Shard. How does that even work? The science of perspective is not my strong point.

Afterwards we wandered around Bank/St Pauls area, revelling in the quietness and the fact that we found an insane tiny Tesco chock full of American treats, a hot sandwich bar and a ton of Snapple and Arizona soda. (Nearly £3 a bottle, like). It was the first weekend since 2014 that we’d spent some time out in central London, enjoying the crazy good things the city has to offer – and for free.

2015: more tourist days in our own city. Yes please.

(PS: some other ‘grams from the morning here)

Dirdle: from the Old English ‘thirl’ (Dorset, day 1)

June 13, 2014

Studland beach //

It feels like Summer has well and truly arrived. Doors are open, duvets aren’t being slept under, it’s officially ‘too hot’ to run at convenient times of day (that’s my excuse right now, anyway). We caught the first few days of this in Dorset, when the sun was out but it was blustery and cool, the first sunny 48 hours before a giant summer storm swept through and the beginning of a heatwave proper.

We’d never been to Dorset before, but it won out when we found photos of Durdle Door and Studland Beach online and then found out the bonus: only 2.5 hours drive from London!? Score!

So that was that decided. B&B booked, car hired, off for a mini adventure, and to Instagram the bejays out of it all along the way. The first day was leisurely but sort of busy: trekking over the cliff between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door (reliably informed by a lovely friend that this is Lulwind Cove in Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. Wait, a place I’m exploring before a book made me want to visit!? How novel. Promptly bought a copy, now it’s in my giant to-read list).

Durdle Door //

Durdle Door (above) being named from the old English ‘thirl’, which means ‘to bore or to drill’, by the way. You know, just in case you were interested.

Wildflower hills //

The water was such a stunning array of blues, shimmering and inviting, that you wanted to just dive straight in. Excepting the fact that even though it was incredibly sunny, the wind took the edge off the heat so much that everyone was in jumpers and jackets. Didn’t stop me getting a little jealous of the people leisurely sailing and canoeing about the coves though.

canoeing in Durdle Door //

We trundled on down the path, bought a cup of tea at the totes adorbs Dorset Tea van and crashed on the pebble cove beaches for a little while, skimming stones and snoozing. You know, gathering strength for that giant climb back. I’m not even kidding – some people were attempting it with buggies and the like. Why, people? Why? Alright, the view tells me why, but still. You are crazy.

Jurassic Hilltops //

The rest of the day was lost somehow, pootling around Dorset roads, with a couple of hours in the evening light and high tide on Studland beach – another National Trust piece of land, but I don’t mind telling you that ‘Bamburgh Beach’ (or St Aiden’s Dunes to give it its proper name) definitely wins out for Most Beautiful Beach. Not that I’m biased or anything…) and having a drink in the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers, where the pints are served through a little hatch, the seats outside are roughly hewn slabs of stone and there was some sort of raucus poetry night going on in a little shut-away room. Dorset you are amazing.


Hever Castle

April 5, 2014

The great side-effect of my fiance’s work stints away is that, when he’s here, we always make a priority to hire a car and go out for day trips around the South of England. Cue more “there-are-things-Ive-read-about-in-books-and-I-need-to-see-them” adventures; this time at Hever Castle, home at a point in history to the Boleyn family. You’re not allowed to take photos inside (for why?!) and my sneaky iPhone shots of the Henvy VIII bedstead/Anne Boleyn’s room were rubbish…hence why all these are exterior (and mainly garden) shots. We have to head out to find him a new suit now, so I won’t wax lyrical as per usual, but go if you can – there’s a particular leaded window looking down into the small courtyard where you can imagine being Anne (or Mary), watching the court’s most famous residence arrive at your house…that’s worth a trip, no?


Buda // Pest

April 1, 2014

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest //

Budapest: a split city across a river, atop a hillside, a confection of pistachio and citron houses, dreamy exteriors, high windows, delicate layered pastries, cheap beer, great wine, goulash and the ‘sz’ shhj sound, bathers…and a brutal history. A moving memorial to Arrow Cross victims forced to remove their shoes before being shot into the Danube. Democracy so dearly fought for. An extensive World Heritage Site. We couldn’t have asked for better weather over the weekend – 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It helps to not forget your sunglasses in that case…Naturally, I failed on that account. Also, don’t ever fly Wizz air from Luton to Budapest, unless you loove delays. Never again, frankly, but it got us there and back in one piece and I can’t wait to return someday and explore the (few) bits that we missed. If you’re heading there soon, here’s some of the things/places we ate/drank/stayed etc on a handy Pinterest map (with a few for next time thrown in for good measure…).