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Bubbledogs, Highgate Cemetery, Innovation Voices and ‘the spark’.

28 Mar

EAT: My friend Emma, one of the loveliest people EVER, recently got engaged. So, what better way to celebrate than with champagne and hotdogs? NONE. THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO CELEBRATE ANYTHING.

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Bubbledogs is a place I’ve been meaning to go for about 4 years, purely because of the novelty factor. However, when you turn up to Bubbledogs not only is the vibe non-pretentious (like most champagne places) or too hipster (like hotdog places these days)/ It’s a great place to go with a mate, or a date, and just have good food and very good wine.

Sorry, champagne. Forgot I was being fancy.

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The photo above is the New Yorker Dog (sauerkraut and caramalised onions) and the BLT (crispy bacon, caramalised lettuce and truffle mayo). We went for pork hotdogs, but you can get veggie or beef with all the menu options. They were gooood dogs too – generous portion, really tasty meat (so much so that all the toppings added to the flavour rather than masked it) and the menu is really customisable, which is always good.

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We also went for the sweet potato fries and ‘horny devils’ (tater tots with sauce, basically) both of which were just as good as you’d find in a good restaurant, but they didn’t break the mold. Which is not bad thing, of course!

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Of course, we had dessert. It was a celebration, so it’s fine, ok? Chocolate Hot Dogs (above) with  chocolate ganache in sweet cinnamon brioche, cherry & banana sauce. They were good, but not as good as they look. If you have a sweet tooth then they’re nice, get them – but they’re not worth taking a £5 punt on.

Finally, the bubbles. We opted for a glass (or three) of the Gaston Chiquet (£6.50 a glass) and it was… well, champagne. I’m not fancy at all, so it all tastes pretty much the same to me, so the £6 glass was worth just as much as the £11 in my opinion! You can, of course, also buy by the bottle.

SEE: I have a thing for graveyards. Cemeteries. Whatever you call them, I find it endlessly fascinating how people choose to represent themselves (or their loved ones) for the rest of eternity. Whenever I visit a new city, I always make sure I tick off the cemetery and park; they’re the places in every town and city where you can escape the hustle and get some peace and time to reflect.

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So, a few weeks ago I made a long overdue visit to Highgate Cemetery. And I cannot recommend it enough; it’s a beautiful piece of London with photo opportunities and interesting information a-plenty.

Highgate Cemetery is split into two, the East and the West. You can only enter the East Cemetery via a guided tour. This costs £12, but also includes access to the West Cemetery on top of the 75 minutes tour. The West Cemetery is only £3 to enter and you can do so alone. I would highly recommend the tour – both sides of Highgate Cemetery are well worth a visit and the tour guide I had was not only brilliant but I learned so many interesting things from him!


Did you know that the reason grave robbers were so prolific in Victorian times is because, by law, only the bodies of people convicted of murder could be used in scientific studies. But, as you’ll be aware, medicine flourished in Victorian times and with only about 50 bodies available per year to play with, the medical profession were willing to pay good money for bodies which had been ‘acquired’. Therefore, there was a lot of money in graverobbing, which understandably, worried middle and upper class people. Hence Victorian graveyards like Highgate Cemetery – it came with high walls and guards, making it far harder for your loved one to get dug and cut up. The cemetery could therefore charge more money to people who wanted to be buried there and therefore had more money to make the buildings and gardens of the graveyards beautiful!

In the West Cemetery tour you learn about a poet who buried his lover with his poems clasped in her hands… and then decided he wanted them back a few years later, so paid people to dig her up and get the poems. Lovely. You’ll also learn about the work the ‘Friends of Highgate’ do to maintain the stunning architecture of some of the crypts in the cemetery, as well as visiting the graves of some interesting characters. These include Alexander Litvinenko, a man who took wild animals to events and who has a lion on his grave and in the East Cemetery, Karl Marx.

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Did you know that in Highgate Cemetery there’s a rare spider which can only survive in TOTAL darkness? There are some crypts which are sealed tiiiiight and this spider was discovered when one of the doors was unlocked to add a new family into the crypt. You can learn more gems like that on the tours… again, cannot recommend it enough!

LISTEN: Croydon – somewhere which is becoming increasingly gentrified (buy a house while you can) but, in some parts of the area, you can still find plenty of independent gems. I went to an artist showcase, put on by Innovation Voices (a company who discover and nurture urban talent)  the other week and really enjoyed seeing artists who are not only not signed, but are in the very early stages of their career in some cases and are just doing what they love… and happening to be very talented!

The artists that performed were varied – hip hop, grime, R&B, soul, all bringing their own sound to the stage and really putting their all into the performance. The venue was Hoodoos Café (but this has since closed down).

Anyway. Check out the video below for a taste of the kind of artists who get up on stage.

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LOVE: I’ve decided that the ‘spark’ doesn’t really exist.

It’s ‘getting on’.

It’s ‘wanting to fuck’.

It’s ‘confidence’.

It’s having similar goals.

But it’s not a ‘spark’.

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For every guy I’ve been on a date with (including the guy from last week) who were perfectly lovely, had interesting stories to tell and I had something in common with and wasn’t unattractive – I’m sorry I’ve had to use the term ‘no spark’ to describe why I don’ want to go on another date with you. It’s only because I don’t really know. All I know is that whatever *it* is, it wasn’t there.

But please. Let’s not call it a spark anymore.

Dominic Ansell Bakery, Stour Space Gllery, Ice Cube and the definition of pedantic.

9 Feb

EAT: At long last I made my way down to the Dominic Ansell bakery near Victoria Bus Station in London. For those of you not in the know when it comes to all things baked good, Dominic Ansell is a chef from New York who came up with the ‘cronut’ (croissant combined with donut). As a result of this joyous invention, his bakery in New York has now found its way to the UK.

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The seating area in the café if small (and it is a café, not a restaurant) but service is reasonably fast, depending on what you order. I went for a green tea, cronut and cookie shot cup. So worth all of the calories – totally could have gone for their banoffee paella (all sweet, no meat, don’t worry) if I felt I could have justified it!

The cronut was delicious. Flaky and sugar-crusted on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. The lemon icing complimented the vanilla frosting on the inside perfectly and it’s basically as good as it looks/you imagine.

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And then there’s the cookie cup: a dark chocolate chip cookie turned into a gooey vessel, filled with vanilla milk. The cookie stays strong enough to hold the milk for a good while, but once the milk is gone it’s all nice and gooey. Yes yes, it’s essentially milk and cookie, but the novelty factor paired with the fact it tastes great make it well worth a shout.

I only have one negative about the experience (it’s absolutely not the desserts) – the service wasn’t great. Once you order, you’re given a number and your desserts are brought to you. I got my cronut right away and had to ask twice over the course of 20 minutes for my cookie cup. It rocked up, eventually, but only when I accidentally caught the manager and told her ow long I’d waited. That aside, I pretty much want to eat EVERYTHING there and I have no doubt that I’ll head back at some point to try one of their main dishes (macaroons, flowering hot chocolate) or one of their specials (the banoffee paella looks insane).

SEE: If you actually bother reading my blog on a regular basis (unlikely) you may remember that in my last post I mentioned Hackney Wick – I headed out there to visit the Olympic Park. Well, last week I went back out East again to go to an exhibition that caught my eye at the Stour Space – part creative space, gallery and café in Hackney Wick.

The exhibition was all about the song by Ice Cube, ‘It Was A Good Day’. Basically the song is about an amazing day that Ice Cube had, and someone actually worked out the only possible day Cube could have been talking about was January 20th, 1992. The blog post below is printed out for you to take, and also framed to start the exhibition.

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Essentially, a series of artworks which directly relate to the song have been curated and displayed. The song mentioned basketball, so there’s a fantastic screen print with gel of a basketball on display. I also really liked this ‘Saw the police and they rolled right past me’ print – there was also a collage about this particular line too. The blimp was represented too (in the song, Ice Cube sees a the Good Year blimp which says ‘Ice Cubes’s a Pimp’ (cue huge print of this blazoned on a blimp).


Most of the artwork was literal and it was quite an amateur exhibition, and I really enjoyed it. I admit, it could have been improved by having the song played in the area the artwork was presented in, or having the lyrics somewhere so it’s easier to understand the links between the artwork and the song. But, that aside, it was a different kind of exhibition and the Stour Space is a little hidden gem.

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In fact, I loved the café there so much I’m bunging my lunch into the ‘See’ section of this blog post. I had butternut squash and coconut soup with sourdough bread which was absolutely beautiful and SO filling. Amazing quality (and quantity!) for a fiver. I also indulged in a hot chocolate rather than going for one of the many delicious cakes they had on offer. The café space is a fantastic place to free-range too – people were in there working, reading the newspaper, stopping off on their dog walk… it’s well worth a visit. Especially when the sun is out, as they have a terrace right on the canal with a view of the Olympic stadium. GO!

LISTEN: Had to be this. Enjoy.

LOVE: I’ve reaslised I really like having my relationships defined. Not in a ‘so what are we, where is this going, wah wah wah’ way. It’s an internal definition which allows me know where to draw the line with guys and how to prioritise.

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Guys I date usually fall into the following categories:

‘Someone I’m casually sleeping with’ – regularly not leaving the house – to the point where we don’t ‘go out’ on dates. Super casual.

‘Someone I’m casually seeing’ – early on, may not have slept with them, but have been on more then five dates and we actually go out (restaurants, exhibitions etc) – making memories and having experiences together outside the bedroom.

‘Seeing someone’ – the above, with sex, but has been going on for months rather than weeks. Could turn into something, but not in a relationship (so can see other people but might not have the desire to do so’.

‘Boyfriend’ – the above, but monogamous (stop dating other people unless we’ve agreed to be in an open relationship) and don’t have to think twice about messaging them first and all that kinda dating crap you go through on dates 1-5.

Anyone else compartmentalise dating in the same way? I find I have to otherwise it gets too complicated. Especially if I’m ‘casually seeing’ two people, for example. I’ve only really had these descriptions set in my mind for the last year, but they seem to work. Plus, so long as I know where we’re at, I just don’t feel the need to ask the guy who the hell he thinks is going on until we’re verging on ‘boyfriend’ stage. Which NEVER, EVER happens. Pretty much gonna be in perpetual ‘seeing someone’ mode I reckon, haha.

Movin’ on up (2016 review / 2017 goals)

1 Jan

Well, you don’t need to hear from me that 2016 has been a helluva year. Personally, my 2016 has been great – but for the world, society and common sense it’s been a complete fucking ‘MARE.

As I love a bit of perspective, I’m always looking at my first blog post from 2016 where I laid out my resolutions and seeing how well I did. Then I’m going to look at my 2016 highlights and then I’m going to set my goals for 2017. Basically: if you follow my blog for travel tips and things to do in London, this post won’t interest you at all. But if you’re secretly in love with me and would like an insight into my life, then proceed (and make your 2017 resolution to tell me you love me. People love hearing that, lol.)

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MY AIMS FOR 2016 were…

Travel truly solo

  • This was about going somewhere long-haul, out of my comfort zone, without a tour company.
  • …and I totally did this in Cuba – organised everything myself, made my way around Cuba alone via public transport, all without speaking Spanish in a country that really does not have much exposure to English at all. I’m proud of myself for not going to just Havana, but packing in three different places so I could move around the island. I’m also SO glad that I went to Cuba before Fidel died – Cuba was already changing, but I think that the changes will come thick and fast now Fidel has gone. It was a joy to see Cuba *as it was* (well, as close as I could get to as it was I guess).

Get healthier

  • This was about reaching my goal weight, eating better and drinking less.
  • I total reached my goal weight (see the next section) and I’ve started to mix things up more when I’m cooking – making sure I’m trying different veg, only having egg whites and not yolks, swapping olive oil for coconut oil, making my own energy balls…
  • I walk SO much more than I did last year – it’s made a huge difference.
  • I did a terrible job at having a few ‘dry’ months in 2016 (November aside), so this can deffo be improved in 2017!

Don’t be lazy: learn

  • This was about actively educating myself while at home and swapping Netflix for books.
  • So, I did cancel my Netflix account and for a while I read more… but that fell away towards the end of the year. But I still devour my Delayed Gratification journal every three months and I have a pile of books on my to-do list; in 2017 I’m actually going to read them!
  • I didn’t do any Future Learn courses, but I did make bigger efforts to understand more about the current world political situation – about how bombing the middle-east in the 20s and 30s did sod all, about why people actually voted for Trump and the issues going on in the UK that led to Brexit, about the history of religious extremism… I feel like I can approach the world events, still angry, but at least more informed.

Do more for the animals

  • I’ve increased the amount of money I donate to wildlife charities this year, but that’s only really a starting point I guess. In order to feel like I’ve truly fulfilled this one I need to do more volunteer work.
  • I did get more up close and personal with cats this year via Catsitting – basically saving owners from sending a cat away from home and looking after them (feeding, cleaning, petting) which the owners are away. There are worse ways to earn a few extra quid!


WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN 2016…

HEALTH & FITNESS
This year, I hit my goal weight. The healthy weight I’ve been aiming to get to for the last FOREVER. I’m now 4 stone lighter than I was at University, I wear a size 10/12 (something I never thought possible) and I’ve managed to fit into a size 10 dress I purchased YEARS ago, with the hope that one day it would fit.

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As a result, my diabetes is better controlled and I’m SO much fitter. I usually exercise at the gym on the cross trainer because I fractured my foot when I was younger and it got a bit messed up. But yesterday, I ran 5k, on the road, in the cold, without stopping. True, I got super sweaty and my legs hate me today… but, again, that’s not something I ever thought I’d be fit enough to do. And my foot didn’t hurt, which is a HUGE bonus!

TRAVEL
This year, I’ve visited even countries: Cuba, Costa Rica, India, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain and Germany. Some highlights below (I mean, there’s just WAY too many to talk about all of them).

  • Zip-lining in Costa Rica. SO MUCH FUN. I loved it so much I also went zip-lining in India too – but nothing will beat zipping through the Monteverde Cloud Forest, screaming. Oh, and then zip-lining a full kilometer, like superman (horizontally) and being terrified as I see my tiny little shadow zooming across the tops of the trees faaaar below.
  • Oh and SEEING A JAGUAR IN THE WILD. GAAAAAH!
  • Everything about Cuba, basically. Cuba was a big one for me as it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do a solo trip that’s ‘out of my comfort zone’, and as I don’t speak Spanish, Cuba totally ticked that box.
    – Old Havana is a beautiful, jumbled maze of dilapidated, colourful buildings.
    – The section of town on the very outskirts of Havana where a local artist has made the entire place look like Guardi’s Barcelona.
    – The music and the cocktails are incredible all over the island – particularly at a bar in Vinales where I watched the sunset over the tobacco fields drinking the most incredible Pina Colada.
    – Trekking through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad, through the local (non-touristy) sections of town to hike up a huge hill with a café on the top. Oh, and the underground cave nightclub too.

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  • The colours of India – women in stunning saris, marigolds lining the doorways at temples and weddings… the Hindi temples themselves are a riot of colour too. So pretty and so happy.india
  • Turning every corner in Rome and finding another piece of history. Whether it be the place Caesar was killed (which is now home to a cat sanctuary!), more ornate archways and pillars or an unassuming church which happens to hold the skull of St. Valentine. As ya do.italy
  • The beer gardens of Prague were an absolute delight and I was very lucky to visit when the weather was so good. Prague, generally, is lovely (I was surprised just how easy it is to walk around). Another highlight was the house of an eccentric artist in the middle of a park which he’s opened to the public and is filled with mystical, colourful artwork and slightly creepy music.prague
  • Seeing Radiohead at a music festival in Berlin. RADIOHEAD FOR THE WIN. The moment they played Identikit was especially lovely. I saw Major Lazer there too, which was wicked… but nothing can beat Radiohead <3https://www.instagram.com/p/BKOokIeA_G1/?taken-by=hannahlujah123
  • Going to Barcelona for the first time on my own (the other 6 or 7 times I’ve always been with other people) – it meant that I got to see bits of the city which I’d compromised on previously. I walked 14 miles in one day heading to the outskirts of town to the GORGEOUS Montjuic Cemetary and funeral carriage museum. I also saw the most incredible stained glass in Palau de le Musica Catalana – another place I hadn’t visited before.barcelona

PEEPS

It’s been a huge year for my friends and family when it comes to life events – I’m in the same job, living in the same place and still going on ridiculous dates. But s’all good, so that’s not a complaint!

My friends and family have encountered deaths, graduations, becoming home owners, planning weddings, new jobs, redundancies, retirements… but they all seem to be reasonably happy now we’re at the end of 2016, which is all I can hope for! Jude and I still bemoan the politics of the UK (our poor, bleeding liberal hearts have been through a lot this year…), Nick and Tim are still the best couple I know (and and looking like absolute BABES), Jack and Sam are well loved up and will be moving in with their other halves in 2017 (most probs), Cate quit her job and has another lined up (and a puppy, massive win), Emma is still the loveiest, cheeriest lady EVS (NYE karaoke come at me), Ryan is loved up and being his usual creative self and all of my other friends who I don’t necessarily see as often are all in relationships, owning flats and being well grown up (not the be all and end all of course, but totally right for them).

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However, I do want to draw attention to all the friends I’ve made travelling. When you head off on your own it’s so much easier to make friends with people. And the kind of people who have any inclination whatsoever to visit places like India and Costa Rica are normally happy to pal up with a loner like me J A lady called Laura I met in Costa Rica is an absolute babe of a women (will always remember her trying to chat up men for me and us drinking wine in a car park), as are Jacqui and Lucy who I met on the Costa Rica tour too. In India Mark and Mike were a total pleasure to be around (and a nightmare as I can NEVER tell when they’re taking the piss or not) – in fact, I actually met up with them a few weeks ago. Not only do these people make the travel so enjoyable at the time, but it means I have places to stay around the world and they have a bed/tour guide in London if they ever need one.

MY AIMS FOR 2017

Right, aside from enduring the bullshit of Brexit and Trump (basically, politicians having no fucking clue what they’re doing and the right wing now thinking it’s ok to gloat about the terrible state we’re in), I do have other things that I want to do in 2017.

Help make the world less terrible

Ok, so ‘making the world a better place’ is going to be a tough call in 2017. Brexit will be a nightmare, Trump is past help… so I just want to improve things, in small ways, where I can.

In 2016 I’ve already started doing this; I’ve given more money to animal charities and to Unicef to support their aid workers in Syria. I’ve also started buying rough sleepers in Soho food and drink, just to brighten their day a little. At the end of the day a sandwich and a bottle of water costs so little and it can make a huge difference.

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But I want to actually volunteer this year. I tried last year to volunteer for Age UK but their London office messed up my appointment three times and then they just stopped emailing me (hmm). So this year, I’m going to volunteer at homeless shelters and animal shelters as often as I can. January will be about finding the places I can get to and who need support and then I’ll do what I can throughout the year. After all, people take so many things for granted (clean water, a roof over their heads) so I think it’s about time I substitute the time I spend lazing about for doing something worthwhile. I’d encourage you to do the same and join me if you can!
 

Take longer holidays to closer places

Ok, so last year was all about going REALLY FAR AWAY for two weeks, or going somewhere in Europe for 2 days. This year, I’m going to try and do a couple of holidays (say, 5 days to a week) and to really get under the skin of a smaller place. I’m considering spending 5 days heading up to Scotland to visit the Isle of Skye. I’d also really like to visit La Gomera – it’s next to Tenerife but so few people go there – the entire island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks like a place well worth exploring Perhaps my final trip could be a week somewhere like Sicily, Cape Verde or getting to the top of Norway and seeing the Northern lights.

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La Gomera

After all, I already have a trip to Kenya and Tanzania booked… so my desire to get as far away from Brexit Britain will be fulfilled once.

Get even healthier and fitter

Right, so at the moment I’m at my goal wright: that is, the top end of what is a healthy BMI. However, if I lose another stone then I will be sitting right in the middle of a healthy BMI and I no shits will be given whatsoever if I put on half a stone on holiday/at Christmas.

I’m going to lose the weight via the following ways – all of which are about making my body healthier and losing the weight just being an added bonus. After all, it’s easy to get thin; it requires patience and determination to get fit!

  • Cut out booze for three months (January, November and another one). Not only is booze a HUGE contributor to keeping weight on, but, honestly, I just don’t need it. The more regularly I cut it out, the better for my body it will be!
  • Always have five portions or fruit and veg a day. Sometimes I’m bad at this, but I got a blender for Christmas so I can have dates in the form of energy balls, a banana every morning and lots of fresh veg in the evening.
  • Do a park run. Now, I don’t mean THE park run because they involves me getting up at 8am at the weekend which is INSANE. But now I know that I can run on the road, I want to do it a little more. Might even set myself a goal (is 5k in 20 minutes realistic? Need to do some research) – but basically, just start mixing up my exercise routine a little bit. My bro got my weight for Christmas so they can get involved too!

Rein in the rage

So I tend to get easily exasperated with the state of the world and when people make terrible life decisions. But I shouldn’t – after all, it’s their life and a lot of people I know don’t actually care about the fact the world is going to shit. So, I’m going to attend to rein in my ranting and just be a bit more chill. That way, people might actually get a night out with me which doesn’t involve putting the world to rights (I’ll just do that in my head and not vocalise it… maybe when I’m out I’ll just go and shout at myself about injustice in the bathroom mirror.)

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This will also involve getting back into mindfulness and embrace Pura Vida. I did it for a while when I returned from Costa Rica and I felt SO much better for it. So, mindfulness is going to be something I pick up again. I’m also going to try meditation and this is one of the wankiest things I’ve ever said, but I really want a gong bath. You basically sit in a room and let the sound of gongs wash over you as you chiiiiilll. I know, what a twat. But I’ll be a RELAXED twat, so whatevs.

(This is my most ambitious resolution I reckon, but it’s something I definitely want to work on!)

Wish me luck folks. And here’s to hoping all the terrible things the minority voted to take place in 2017 aren’t actually as fucking awful as we all expect them to be. Sigh.

Flat Iron burger, walking ftw, George Michael and knowing your life plans.

28 Dec

Ok, so STILL writing my blog post on India. Apparently doing loads of stuff and visiting loads of places means it takes forever to write about it…

Anyway, just leaving a blog post here so I don’t forget what I’ve been up to in the lead up to Christmas!

EAT: At long last I went to Flat Iron when they had a burger special on. I know, they have them on a lot, but for some reason whenever I go the special is a fancy bit of steak. But, at last, I’ve had a Flat Iron burger and my GOD it was incredible.

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Look at it.  The ‘Cornish Burger’ special is a beef patty in lightly toasted sesame seed bun with a helluva lot of béarnaise sauce. Yup, that’s not cheese, that’s SAUCE. It was thick enough to hold the burger together but not so thick that it took away from the incredible taste of the meat.

I always have my burgers well done – it tasted amazing. The flavour was stronger than the burgers at the likes of Byron, Honest and others, stronger in a good way of course! I actually love the taste of the beef so much (it wasn’t even seasoned, it was just da bomb) I got rid of half of the burger bun so I could focus on béarnaise and burger.


Of course, a trip to Flat Iron isn’t complete without ALL THE SIDES. Triple cooked chips (so crispy), salad (for some reason so much fresher and tastier than salad elsewhere… I think it’s because they use so much lamb’s lettuce which is the best of all the leaves FACT), cheesey aubergine, creamed spinach and a lovely craft cider. For the love of god, if you haven’t been, sort your life out and go visit Flat Iron.

SEE: So, this isn’t going to be about a particular event I’ve been to or thing I’ve done. I just want to put down in writing how much I bloody love seeing London by walking. London is an easy city to walk – plenty of paths, hidden areas to explore, it’s pretty flat and you don’t really have much excuse for getting in a car (at the end of the day, if the bus is held up, your car will be too. USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT GUYS, especially when it’s as good as it is in London).

Basically, if it’s not tipping it down I’ll walk. In the final week before we broke up for the Christmas holidays, I walked to and from the tube station (around 35 minutes each way) and despite the air being a little chilly, it is such a nice, easy walk to do! In the summer I actually walked from home (Battersea) to work (Soho) just because it’s so lovely to be outside for that 75 minutes rather than crammed on the Tube for 20!

Plus, these days it’s SO easy to be lazy. I’d far rather get an extra 60 minutes exercise than not; then again, it’s only this last year since doing way more walking that I’ve acknowledged it’s actually an amazing form of exercise (I used to believe that if you ain’t sweating then you ain’t exercising), but that’s changed now.

Plus: great way to work out if the heels I’ve just purchased are keepers: if you can’t walk a mile in a pair of shoes, return them immediately  😉

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LISTEN: On Christmas day the news broke that George Michael had passed away, aged 53. Now, with a lot of celebs who have died this year, I’ve been fans of them but I because a fan after they were really at their peak (Bowie, for example). However, I remember as a kid George Michael’s Older and Patience being released and, along with my mum (uber fan) loving the records.

Yes, Wham were great for the Pop hits. But George Michael was, like Bowie and Prince, someone who did a lot to change the way male sexuality was discussed and viewed. He was slammed by the tabloids (who are fawning over him now he’s dead, fuck the S*n) for not only being gay, but for also having casual sex.

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In the video for ‘I Want Your Sex’ he wrote ‘explore monogamy’ – this is before he came out, even in the early 90s he was challenging the idea that in order to be in a relationship, or to be allowed to enjoy sex, you have to be monogamous (personally, I believe that non-monogamous relationships can absolutely work if both people are open to them and, honestly, they’re a lot more realistic in terms of basic biology. After all, monogamy, marriage and the like are simply social constructs).

Anyway; following I Want Your Sex we had the likes of Freedom, a BRILLIANT tune and anthem. Fast Love, Faith, Flawless, Amazing… all fantastic tunes. And that video for Outside? SO STRONG. Notice how the people arrested in the video are gay men and men; the women all escape and the straight couples manage to get away with public displays of affection.

Anyway. I sincerely doubt that I’m telling you anything you don’t already know. That George Michael, despite the drugs and mini scandals, was a brilliant man and musicians. What he did for the LGBT community, and his numerous *fuck yous* to the establishment and social norms, shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m going to leave you with one of my many favourites of his: Freedom.

LOVE: Christmas is a time when a lot of people tend to get depressed if they’re single. Which I can understand, if all they want from life is a wedding and a family. Which, many people do.

I met up with my old friends from home when I was back over the Christmas period and one is engaged, the other has just bought a flat with her boyfriend and the other has a flat, engagement ring and a wedding in August. Which is bloody wonderful, as they all have what they want with the people they want too 🙂

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But I was very aware that while talking to them they assumed that there was no point asking about my love life (which is actually pretty damn good, but maybe it was because it’s not heading towards a flat or a ring). Regarding the flat – it’s only possible to purchase a flat these days if you have rich family or you buy with a partner. Even if I had either of those options available to me I know what would happen (it’s what currently happens at the moment): I’d see some savings and think ‘fuck the flat, I want to go on an adventure’.

The point I’m making is; if you were feeling lonely or upset this Christmas, take a bit of time to work out what you actually want. WHY do you want the flat? WHY do you want a marriage… is it actually just a wedding you want, or to catch up with your friends and where they are in their lives? My wants and needs in life are seeing as much of the world as I’m able to – if someone is with me at the time then fantastic. But if not, it beats sitting on a sofa (whether I own the sofa or not).

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Everyone is different. In terms of what they need and what they want to get out of life. The only question you should be asking yourself this Christmas or at midnight on December 31st is “what do I want to get out of life”? It’s only then that you’ll work out whether hunting down a mate to make a baby and buy a house should top your priorities list. For me? It’s making sure my career stays rockin’, I can afford to go and see as much of the world as I possibly can, that I have a few bits put away for emergencies and I keep the people I love in my life: all of that achieved and I’m a happy gal.

Granger and Co, Spiritland, Troy Bar and same old.

18 Oct

EAT: I‘m going to keep this one short and nearly as sweet as the glorious Ricotta Hotcakes from Granger and Company. I’m not joking – take a look at the bad boys below.

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So, these hotcakes are on the breakfast/brunch menu and it’s taken me ages to try them because I rarely wake up early enough at the weekend to get them (pre-12pm). However, get there before noon and you can get Ricotta Hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter.

The hotcakes are SO light – totally beautiful. They’re basically cheesecakey-style pancakes… but they don’t taste of cheese. They’re just light, and when you cut through them you’re faced with more light, fluffy and tasty goodness.

The banana balances out the maple syrup and the honeycomb butter sweetness well and the whole thing isn’t *too much* at all. It’s just delicious and absolutely worth getting up early and £12 for.

SEE: I went to Kings Cross a few weeks ago and headed towards Granary Square – the bit next to Regent’s Canal and has seen a whole load of new restaurants and bars spring up.

Two things are here that you should see: firstly, the lovely light installation (see below). There are tables next to the light fountains and it’s really relaxing (even in the cold!) to just sit and get sucked in to the show.

Future garden water feature. #fountain #London

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The second place you should see is Spiritland. It’s a place for food and drink, but above all, music. It’s now got a long-term home in Kings Cross  (it was a pop up not long back) and it’s known for the increeeeedible speaker system that lines the main wall in the bar. Well, the bar/restaurant… but the lighting is sexy and the table are chilled out enough for you to not get a formal restaurant vibe.

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Honestly, the sound system is world-class and if you’re even remotely an audiophile, GO. They have trendy indie beers available, lots of wine and spirits and the DJ that was there on the night I went was SO good. A fantastic mix of funk, soul and almost tribal music… it’s the sort of stuff that creates a wonderful atmosphere and makes you stop mid-way through conversation to just chat about how great the song playing is. Really good date location, head there and see for yourself!

LISTEN: So, there’s a very unassuming place in Shoreditch. From the outside it sort of looks like a school cafeteria. Or a town hall… a small one, with those plastic chairs and mis-matched tables. However, Troy Bar is a hidden gem – seriously, I know there aren’t many hidden gems in London now, but this place really is.

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I went on a Friday when they hold an ‘open mic’ Jazz jam session. The jazz played was great! Honestly, really talented people who not only played well together but also were given the opportunity to play solo, and the trombonist and drummer were amazing. For the first hour or two (doors open at 9pm, music starts at 10pm) the music was just free flowing. After a 30-minute break, the cover versions started – Michael Jackson, James Brown and more. Again, great covers and by this time it was 1am and everyone was up and dancing… but there was still plenty of space in Troy Bar. Why? Because it’s honestly still a hidden gem. I’ll be going back soon, for sure.

LOVE: Need to stop meeting guys off of online dating apps (well… Ok Cupid and Tinder) and believing they have any interest in anything vaguely resembling a long term relationship (e.g. more than 3 dates).

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The Wilmington, Vicktor Wynd Museum, BEYONCE and cats. Cats cats cats.

13 Aug

I’ve just had my wisdom teeth out. So I happen to have a fair bit of time on my hands so I’m going to try and actually back on track with the whole blog writing this. Work has basically been INSANE recently (a team of three doing the work of six) so I haven’t had time recently to much exploring of London. But the below are a few places I’ve been to around 2 months ago and never got round to blogging about them.
EAT: A little while back it was sunny (ok, a long whole back). So I decided to re-visit Exmouth Market and stopped off for an Estrella and some food at The Wilmington pub.

IT’s a nice pub – nothing special at first glance, just nicely kitted out and hardly a boozer, with Peroni and Estrella on tap. However, lurking within the Wilmington is a kick-ass food menu… then again, it’s Exmouth Market, so the food was bound to be good.

From the menu above I was sorely tempted to get the Coconut and Cauliflower Veloute (basically: soup, kinda_ but I was too hungry for that. So I went for the season salad; asparagus, cashews, black quinoa, feta and vinegar dressing. I went for the small (£6.50) and a side of rosemary chips.

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As you can see the salad ain’t small and this was MORE than enough to satisfy me. It was also bloody delicious. Huge chunks of feta (love me some feta) and despite not liking asparagus that much, the quinoa and vinegar dressing, coupled with allllll the feta just made the whole salad lovely. Plenty of green leaves too and the quinoa was sprinkled nicely throughout so you got a bit of everything with every bite.


Also, the rosemary chips were damn good too. True, no rosemary chips, NO CHIPS EVER, will match up to Honest Burger’s rosemary fries, but The Wilmington’s are a strong choice. So, for about £15 I got a pint, a big salad and chips. Which, for London isn’t bad at all. The place is well worth a shout – true, there’s lots of food competition in Exmouth Market, but this place is worth a shout.

SEE: Vicktor Wynd’s Museum of Curiosities is weird. That’s the point. IT’s the kind of place you take someone to make or break them – for me, if I take you there and you hate it, we’re probably just not going to get on. Not that I’m saying you HAVE to like weird and morbid things to get on with me, but y’know, it helps.

Viktor Wynd’s costs £35 to get in and it’s operated by the Last Tuesday Society (if you know them, you know them). For your fiver you get to head downstairs to a unique and bizarre treasure trove of odds and ends including items of witchcraft, taxidermy, skeletons, the pubic hair and fecal matter of celebrities, sex toys, puppets and mutated toys… amongst other things.

I can’t adequately describe all of the items on show in the small, underground space that is the Cabinet of Wonders, but it’s the sort of place you could easily spend a couple of hours in, always discovering something new despite the whole space being no more than about 10 square meters!

Few highlights: the fish tank upstairs (has not only a clown fish but numerous other colourful beauties, a table downstairs which happens to have a hole cut in it and a skeleton on show, numerous items of hair, various sex books from throughout the 20th century and colourful dioramas featuring a stuffed rat, vole or mouse.

There was also a taxidermy lion upstairs which I both loved because I love lions but also greatly upset me because I couldn’t know for sure if it died a natural death or not. So I sort of stared at it with vague fascination and horror whilst drinking my tea and gazing at the multi-coloured wax-covered candles.

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Anyway. It is, as the website says “a mirror to a world so suffused with miracles and beauty that any attempt at categorization is bound to fail”.

LISTEN: Beyoncé at Wembley. Yes, it happened a while ago, but as this blog is basically just my diary, it’s an experience I want to remember. I’d seen her once before, as Glastonbury, but her new album Lemonade kicked ASS and I was so looking forward to seeing the ultimate Queen of show on stage.


And she rocked just as hard as I expected. Dancing, singing, incredible outfits and a.t.t.i.t.u.d.e. Embarrassing as it is, along with powerful kick-ass women like Serena Williams, Beyoncé is my idol. Listening to Destiny’s Child’s Survivor album as a kid completely shaped who I am today. Independent Woman, Survivor and Bootylicious stuck with me, rather than the likes of British girl groups who just moaned on about being heartbroken or in love.

Bow down bitches.

A winner don't quit on themselves. She's literally my idol. #Freedom #Beyonce #FormationWorldTour #Beyhive

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LOVE: I have 100% given up on the idea of finding someone to put up with me. Instead, I have gone full crazy cat lady and I’m currently doing some cat sitting. Feeding and playing with cats – it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

At least they’re vaguely affectionate, which is more than can be said for a lot of men I’ve been on dates with recently. MIA-OW.

Food at Guanabana, Shit-Faced Shakespeare, Easy All Stars and rainbow death feels.

16 Jul

RIGHT. I’ve been really shit at keeping track of what I’ve done, but I’m completely back on it now. Mainly because I need to delete all the photos of stuff I’ve done/seen/eaten from my phone… plus, I went into what is essentially a deep depression when the miniscule majority of the country decided to leave the European Union, so I didn’t really feel like writing anything. Summary – I’m very happy to live in London right now.

EAT: Where can you eat in Camden that isn’t just another burger place / fast food join / situated in the middle of the mental Camden Lock market? The answer: Guanabana. Not only does it tick all the boxes when it comes to the variety of food on offer, but it’s affordable, it’s close to Camden tube (5 minute walk) and doesn’t get CRAZY busy, you can book a table and the food is divine.

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Guanabana is a Latin Caribbean restaurant which serves delicious food in huge portions. It has all the Caribbean favourites (curried goat, jerk chicken, endless rice, snapper fish and fresh vegetables) but there’s the Latin element too (fajitas, jalapenos). On top of this you also get some amazing food which you don’t see that often in London, including pickles cactus fries, feta cheese mash, tofu tacos, wood coal grilled jerk chickens and coconut and pineapple crumble. If I hadn’t been so incredibly full from my main I would have totally gone for the crumble!

Only downside is that they don’t have a liquor licence, so no booze is sold here. HOWEVER – this isn’t actually a downside. It’s a bring your own booze place and their charges are really cheap. For a bottle of beer / cider it’s £1 per drink corkage fee and for a bottle of wine it’s £3. Add to this that there’s a huge Sainsburys a minute from the place and BOOM: you drink whatever you want in there, super cheap.

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I went for the sweet BBQ wood coal grilled half jerk baby chicken. It comes with all the trimmings – gorgeous plantain (honestly, it was so full of flavour and cooked to perfection), rice, peas, mango chutney, salad dressed with spicy something… and that chicken. Dip the already yummy chicken in the BBQ sauce and it’s amazing. It’s £14 for a huge plate of food – as in, the actual size they serve you up in the Caribbean. Dreamy.

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My friend and I also shared pickled cactus fries. These were wicked – who knew a cactus could be so tasty? I actually stopped dipping it in the sour cream sauce it came with because the slightly sourish cactus was lovely enough on its own. It’s technically a starter, so £4, but if you share this and use it as an appetizer it’s SO worth the £2 🙂

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(My veggie friend had the Mac Daddy burger. It was, again, HUGE. You get a bun filled with roasted portobello mushrooms, mac and cheese, char grilled peppers and sauce. It looks really good and she polished it off! She did comment that it’s got one of the most interesting veggie menus that she’s seen in a long time – you could also get a halloumi/mushroom fajita, chickpea and callaloo stew, black bean stew with feta, egg and feta, goat cheese and guava jam salad… the list goes on). I should also point out they have an epic looking brunch menu and their non-alcoholic cocktails are cheap too – basically, pay £1 to bring in a bottle of rum and just add it to the mojitos / daiquiris, etc.

Basically, the food here is great. The staff are lovely. The prices were very reasonable. The menu is SO SO good and the music also rocked (reggae, for the most part). Massive thumbs up from me!

SEE: I went to go and see Shit-Faced Shakespeare a couple of nights ago with my work colleagues. You may have heard of it; Shit-Faced Shakespeare premiered at Edinburgh Fringe Festive and it’s not at the Leicester Square theater (the one next to the Prince Charles Cinema).

So, it’s pretty much exactly what you think: one member of the case gets drunk and then they try and perform a play with one pissed actor. At the moment they’re doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and when I went, it was Helena who was drunk.

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…well, I say ‘drunk’. To be honest, she was more tipsy and massively hamming it up. Which, don’t get me wrong, was still novel and funny for the first 20 minutes or so (the play lasts for about an hour). But after that amount of time… well, it’s like being the sober one looking after a drunk friend at a party. Funny for about half an hour and then you just get a bit annoyed by it. Which is pretty much what happened here. She threw in the word “cunt” to try and be controversial and did a lot of squealing – which, actually, a lot of the audience didn’t seem to dislike. But the group of people I went with were split between not being that bothered about it and finding it completely hilarious.

To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it. When the non-drunk guys were on stage I really enjoyed the play… so, I basically should have just gone to see a Shakepeare play. I can totally see why this did so well at Ed Fringe, it’s perfect for that space and a smaller audience, but I just wasn’t feeling it that much.

LISTEN: I went to see a band called the Easy All Stars last night at the Electric Ballroom. Well, I say band, but they’re actually like Broken Social Scene in that the musicians who perform under the name rotate. The Easy All Stars do reggae covers and two of their most famous albums are covers of OK Computer (Radiodread) by Radiohead and Dark Side of the Moon (Dub Side of the Moon) by Pink Floyd. As a ridiculously big Radiohead fan (my love for them being the thing that is big, not me…) I picked up their music a long time ago and now, on the tenth anniversary of Radiodread, I got to see them live.

They were supported by New Kingston; three brothers from NYC and their Dad on bass (I know, such a cool Dad) and they’re a rock/reggae band (mainly reggae) who performed original material. I really liked them – it’s clearly reggae but with American influence (hence why I called them rock/reggae before) with a hint of dancehall thrown in.

Open up your skull, I'll be there. Loved the Easy All Stars giving #Radiohead the #reggae treatment tonight.

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The Easy All Stars were on for about 90 minutes and played a mixed set (I thought it was going to be only Radiohead) – but actually, this pleased me more than I thought it would, as their Pink Floyd and Beatles covers were also really good. Highlights included ‘Let Down’ (my fave Radiohead song) and the resounding finale, ‘Karma Police’.  They don’t just play the songs as they are but with reggae music – they mix ’em up a bit too. Well worth seeing if you can still catch them on their summer 2016 European tour!

LOVE: Feels. (No one has tried to hurt my feelings. I honestly just love the rainbows and the death. Chill.) Although I do feel like this when I get unmatched on Tinder, hahahaha.

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