Tag Archives: budget travel

Curator’s Coffee

I love trips to London. And my most recent trip was made even more special by being able to spend it with a close friend! tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo1_1280On her recommendation, we spent our first morning in the city at a delicious joint called Curators Coffee!tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo10_1280tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo9_1280With huge windows, lots of light, and beautiful geometric, monochromatic details – how could I not love the place?tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo4_1280tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo6_1280We spent (far too much) time umm-ing and ah-ing over what to chose from the mouthwatering selection of freshly made bakes for our breakfast.tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo5_1280After making the most difficult decision of the day, we perched on comfy stools at the wooden window bar.tumblr_o39uakq58v1qcam0lo1_1280As always, my first priority was coffee (and I’ll tell you now, that their coffee is really good!) but Kasimiira decided to go for a morning cuppa.

The rest of us were practically mesmerised by the many different instruments that she had been presented with, in order to successfully brew and enjoy her cup of tea!

The most notable was, of course, the rather aesthetically pleasing hourglass timer.tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo7_1280But regardless of different tastes in beverage – we all have (if I do say so myself) exquisite taste in pastries! And none of us were shy in digging into our first meal of the day.tumblr_o39tc8x9pw1qcam0lo8_1280From the exclusive weekend Brunch menu’s Crosstown Doughnuts to a moist Orange and Lemon Cake, we barely left a crumb on the plate. We acknowledge that we have hardly made a dent in the delicious desserts on sale.

So I guess we’ll just have to revisit on our next trip to London!

We drained our drinks, collected our things, and headed off to collect our all important press passes from the Soho area.

Stay tuned for the next blogpost to coverage dedicated to exploring London Fashion Week!


The Boozy Cow (The Modern Medieval Diet of Kings)

After visiting this eatery, it might be the first time that being called a ‘Boozy Cow’ could be construed as a compliment! Just off of Prince’s Street in Edinburgh, set below street level sits the tempting food joint known as the Boozy Cow – and that is not a misnomer! This place is famous for its burgers and its boozy milkshakes, so I had to check it out!Take note that I love an eatery, like, 50x more when they openly sport puns about food on their wall!? (So, we will definitely be meating again…)

Walking in, I was greeted by a grungy, graffiti industrial interior that you could tell would be amazing to frequent in the evening when this place turns into a flatout bar!Obviously busy on a Saturday, we nested in an available table in a tight corner next to the windows with a street view.A moment was silence was taken to both appreciate the glorious choices of food, and also to make the crucial decision of what we would each order.Two of us ordered their chocolate oreo milkshakes – that are definitely worth a try!

Served in jars with indentations for your fingers, a striped straw, extra long spoon and a personal oreo cookie – we were very happy!Restraining ourselves from drinking the whole frosty glass of goodness didn’t last too long (phew!) and soon our tables were graced with trays of food. (That’s right – trays – not plates. The Boozy Cow’s policy is that your food is served on a tray to share with the person sitting opposite you. You also won’t get any cutlery unless you specifically ask for it! So, the more messy, the better – and I took this as a challenge.)Our trays were filled with cheeseburgers, fries to share and a hot dog that boasted baconnaise!?I thought I’d take a snap of the details that were listed on their handy coasters!Happy, and full – as I always seem to leave the different eateries I frequent – we stepped out into the surprisingly sunny Scottish weather to wander around the city. This joint is the ultimate medieval diet of meat and alcohol – and who doesn’t love a cheeky boozy lunch at somewhere with delicious, messy food?

Send Me A Sygn

When I stay in Edinburgh for a month with family, I consider it an extended vacation. An extended vacation simply means more time to try and dine in every available eatery in the city!Hidden off the end of the famous Prince’s Street is situated a laidback bar and kitchen style food spot called Sygn (as in “this is a ‘sign’ of a good time and making all my messy food cravings come true”).The interior has the very chilled mid-century meets modern L.A. vibe that’s welcoming and cool at the same time. An eclectic mix of chairs tables fill the space for ample seating, and the ceiling is coated in hand drawn chalk doodles from various staff members. The entire space looks like something you find pinned on a pinterest board.We sat in the far corner next to a window wall with a view of the sunny cobble back streets.Sygn is now a top contender for top joint to hang out in on future evening get togethers. And this is totally because of their various special combo deals – especially Wings Wednesday! (I will report back when I find a companion to accompany me to a Late Night Pizza Smash or Wings Wednesdays – which are now a new necessity in my life!) But as we attended on a day that did not offer amazing deals on wings and beer, we settled ourselves to chose another amazing set of dishes from the kickass menu. This was an important matter and involved some serious dedication of concentration (as all food decisions should, right?).Then our food arrived, and everything was delicious! From hot chilli and vegetable wraps with onion rings on the side…To haggis and cheese curly fries…To fried macaroni cheese balls and fries…And finally, a loaded spicy jalapeno, chilli and cheese fries for myself. None of our plates had a healthy aspect to boast – and we were more than happy to keep it that way!With cold milkshakes and drinks in hand – we chowed down, slowly descending into a quiet silence that comes with a group of people enjoying their food so much, they forget to think about anything else except for the meal in front of them.The milkshake cups (along with a lot of Sygn’s other merchandise) display tongue in cheek slogans and phrase to amuse and entertain. Particularly, their claim that their “milkshakes bring all the girls to the bar!”, which in this ladies lunch out seemed to prove true!A very thrown together outfit for a day of messy dining and lazily walking around in the sunshine. A loose fitting top and sweater, paired with a leather jacket with interesting waterfall lines makes for the perfect combat to that inevitable food baby!

Sweater top – New Look

Distressed skirt – Boohoo

Boots – H&M

Leather jacket – All Saints

Bag – Asos

Sygn is definitely a joint to keep in your repertoire for future visits to the Scottish capital! Happy and (very, very) full – we stepped back onto the sun spangled streets of Edinburgh and wandered along to rejoin the tourist filled streets of the city centre.

Wellington Coffee

My new home for the next month is the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and my plan is to spend most of my time exploring the 2015 Fringe Festival; but first, coffee. A delicious little independent I stumbled across was Wellington Coffee!To find interesting and diverse eateries in Edinburgh, you must first acknowledge that you will have to stray from the safe tourist pathways of Prince’s Street and the like.

But don’t fret, Wellington Coffee is situated on George Street – only a few parallel streets over and an easy side-step for those seeking something other than a Starbucks or a Costa. We almost missed the little joint when walking past it the first time, as the coffee shop is set below street level!

Walking down the steps, it’s easy to see that a pleasant day of weather will ensure nearly every one of their outdoor seating spaces are occupied. We were lucky enough to snag two stools at a newly vacated window table!Very eager for our morning caffeine injection and a nibble of something not-so-healthy, we chowed down while people watching through the open window!We both ordered cappuccinos. Lizzy picked up one of the huge scones that came with butter and ginger jam. I committed to (a self healthy and) an even bigger slice of the house carrot cake. (Yum!)The view from the street corner location is pretty wonderful (especially in the sunshine).And the food wasn’t bad either!Although the food was scrumptious, this place has it’s effort invested in its coffee! This is a place to keep note of if you’re a coffee addict like me and you’re on this side of the city (i.e. not over near the royal mile – which holds host to a collective of other independent coffee shops).The inside seating is sparse, but luckily the staff are friendly, and the coffee can be made to take with you on your journeys around Edinburgh!Happy, and full, we trotted back up the worn stone steps and headed out to wander through another day of the Fringe Festival!

Making a Decision

You’ve still got time – make the right decision and head to the Hayward Gallery in London for one of the most interactive art exhibitions you’ll come across this year!The reason I try and encourage you to visit, is because the experience is definitely one for everyone! Whether or not you have background knowledge and understanding of art – the Decision exhibition from Carston Holler breaks down the boundaries that people sometimes feel that art constructs.The outside of the gallery has parts of the exhibition sprouting out and gives a hint to the amazing contents inside!About half an hour late for our time slot, Ruth and I headed into explore the exhibition that the Hayward Gallery had to offer!Tickets in hand (and having booked ahead of time playing to our advantage, and being able to enter the exhibit halfway through a time slot) we headed inside…The art of choice is presented right at the door – literally! Two doors stand side-by-side labelled ‘A’ and ‘B’, and your first role as a participant in the exhibition is to make a decision of which you would like to enter through.

We chose ‘A’ and ventured into the darkness of a winding metal tunnel…The tunnel was pitch black. It sloped steeply upwards, and then suddenly twisted and turned. We ended up clinging to each other in the darkness, happily tripping and stumbling our way through.

After finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) we stepped out into, what seemed far more vast, a space that housed a giant turning sculpture of mushroom and mechanisms.We took turns to propel the turning of the different levels with a push of the lowest bar, causing the varied spin of the human-sized funguy!It is pieces like this that express a sense of whimsy, and thus a simplistic intent that just wishes to connect with an audience, rather than force an agenda onto them.From one open space to another, we moved up the steps and into a section of the room that was empty except for a giant pool of red and white pills.We very quickly pounced and dove our hands into the satisfying mound.

We could see from above a single pill drop from the ceiling into the center of pile – and were told that this happened consistently every 3 seconds!We were informed that the pile we had the pleasure of delving our hands into was an accumulation of all the pills that had dropped  since the opening of the exhibition.And again, the principal of choice was presented.

Ruth, the brave soul that she is, decided to take one of the mystery pills and neatly swallowed the bi-coloured vessel.(Of course, the pills are perfectly safe and are filled with a basic mixture similar to flour and plant extract – but where’s the fun in safety, right?)After satisfying our investigation of the pills, we progressed to the far side of the room, and decided to go downstairs…Downstairs, in a dimly lit and low ceilinged space, were a collection of various elements of the exhibition. From flashing wall light displays to robotic rolling beds – it was a jumble of mismatched eclecticism that simultaneously seemed to belong in the space!

(If you have an urge to splurge, or simply need an expensive bed for the night, you can actually pay to stay and sleep in the roaming beds overnight! Check out the full – and wacky details – here!)And at the far side of the room was a built in bench that offered virtual reality goggles and headphones. On the wall next to the installation was the first sign of Carsten Holler’s use of queueing in the exhibition. Because even though the Decision exhibition is freely interactive – it is still set in a British gallery, and what would a British experience be without queueingWe sat side-by-side and jammed the virtual reality kit onto our heads and sat silently enjoying the experience…If you want to know what we saw, you’ll have to visit the Decision exhibition and see for yourself!Once we’d had our fill of the lower floors, we ascended the concrete stairs to final floor of the exhibition…And stepped into the mirror walled room of assorted art pieces!

One of the central art works consisted of a large plastic perspex cube filled with the same pills we had seen on the floor below.We also found out that this is actually the source of the pills – this is the spot that feeds through the ceiling that drops a pill every 3 seconds!Next to the plastic cube was a white platform featuring two very overstuffed pink pythons! (The perfect example of random whimsy.)It was hard to ignore the enormous die on the other side of the room.And we found that if you positioned yourself at just the right angle, we could spy each other through the holes!Sadly for us, we were too tall to clamber inside – but if any of you readers take kids to the Decision exhibition, they might just have the chance to jump inside!As I said earlier, there is more than one location in the gallery where the audience is expected to queue in order to participate in limited access areas. We stood for only a few moments before stepping outside to don our heads with another set of headgear that would change our perception of our reality!With a pretty great rooftop view of the London Eye, I took the first go of having my world flipped upside down (again, literally)!The visor uses cleverly collaborated mirrors that reverse your everyday view upwards and flip everything on its head. This is particularly disorientating when outside on a rooftop!When outside experiencing the bizarre sensation of hanging off the face of the world, the Hayward Gallery’s signs change makes much more sense!  

Ruth then strapped on the head piece, and began to look around and take in the experience of a world turned upside down!I definitely recommend attending the gallery with a friend, as activities like this are made twice as fun when you can watch your companion stagger around confusedly on an open rooftop!Satisfied with our outdoor experience, we passed our visor onto the next in line wandered through to the remaining space of Carsten Holler’s exhibition.For those that are more seriously art inclined, there are installed elements of the exhibition to satisfy! One piece in particular, was a corridor section that was lined with heavy square television monitors displaying the faces of identical twins facing opposite each other.As you walked through the center of the monitors you became bombarded by the sound of the scripted phrases read out by the different halves of the twins. The artwork here becomes a(nother literal) reflection of identity, self expression and image.We were reaching the end of our exploration of Decision, but were too eager to slow down! So we quickly slotted ourselves into one of the wooden school-like desks against the wall and attempted to make our noses grow…Apparently, by applying vibration to a certain part of your arm in a very particular way, while holding the tip of your nose, you can confuse the body into believe the nose is either growing or shrinking!We attempted them one for sometime, but to no avail. If anyone else attends the exhibition or has tried this experiment before – comment below your success of failures!One look outside onto the other rooftop space and you could see another small queue waiting to take turns up on a rotating flying machine!Helmeted and suspended by the small of your back, you would swing through the air with all of London stretched out below and in front of you!This experience is no extra charge to your ticket, but I recommend booking your timeslot for the exhibition in the earlier part of the day if you definitely want your turn in the air!When we felt we had seen it all, we walked to the end of the room that housed the metal scaffolding and staircases that would take us to our exit point!Like our rather unconventional method of entering the exhibition, the exit was not to be outdone! Canvas sacks in hand, we scaled the metallic stairwell and positioned ourselves at the mouth of a multi-storied metal and clear top spiral slide.With a grin and a scream, we rocketed down the shoots to soft exercise mat at the bottom!

The exhibition is one that presents art from the perspective of solely the experience – created through the use of “perception a decision making”this was a time spent in an art gallery where not everything is as it seems, but everything is enjoyable!We deposited our canvas modes of transportation and headed for the doorway that would lead us out.And as always with any interactive experience – you are directed out through the exit, that just so happens to be a gift shop.However, don’t be fooled by the idea of cheap tat with nothing to do with your experience! The souvenirs for sale are all designed by Carsten Holler himself and feature the theme of of opposites and decisions. The chocolate bars were clever and sweet (nudge, nudge)But our favourites were the little button badges printed with the split opposites motif as well as a few nods to pieces from the exhibition itself!

The exhibition is on until the 6th of December. For more information on the Decision exhibition, or bookings, visit the Hayward Gallery website, here

Let’s Take This to the Streets!

When there is a Street Food Festival in town – how could I say no?Set in the centre of the city of York – taking up most of Parliament Square – The New Ebor Independence Feast (and I know that the whole name is definitely a mouth full!) brought together the best  independent street food traders, craft brewers, artisan distillers.

The goal was simple; the events of a weekend would celebrate good, food, drink and music!The aromas and sounds of fresh food cooking filled the air as we rocked up around midday. We wandered through all the stalls to see what the different venders had to offer, before deciding what to tuck into first!

From Cajun smoked skewers…To street dawgs (hot dogs).From freshly baked pizzas…To slo gin, prosecco, and beer tents!Picking our poison of choice was easy. We grabbed a cold ale each and headed back into the sunshine to sit, to sip and relax.The outfit of the day followed my usual preference of all black everything! But was still light and airy enough to be perfect for the warmth of the summer. 

Hat – H&M

Dress – Topshop

Shoes – River Island

Bag – Asos

Sunglasses – Thrifted

Jewellery – Assorted

The first bite we decided to try out of the many venders, was the Cajun smoked skewers from York’s own Shambles Kitchen.This was a wrap filled with freshly smoked Cajun halloumiyum! You could have salad in the wrap with your filling of choice – but green stuff is for the weak when it comes to street food! (Right?) And – never to be one to miss out on tasty treats – I decided to grab a second helping of food from the street vender opposite. The one and only Street Dawg Co had sizzling hot dogs ready to be thrown in buns!I loaded my hot dog up with spicy chilli, mozzarella chunks and  french mustard. And trust me – I did not share!

This was a perfect (accidental) 4th of July celebration for me.If you’re eager to experience a food festival in York, for yourself, The New Ebor Street Feast is hosting their next event in early August! Check out the events page, here, for more details.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh House

If you’re near the Northampton area, in England, a must visit spot is known as 78 Derngate. Don’t let the unassuming address fool you – this is the famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh house!“78 Derngate is the only house in England designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.”

Not long ago, visiting family in Northampton, we took an excursion out to the restored house and galleries. The house (having a slight cosmetic makeover during our visit) is connected to 80 and 82 Derngate, thus making a base for the trust and charity that preserve the building.After eagerly badgering the staff at the desk in the visitors center extension, next door to 78 Derngate, one of the tour guides led us outside to observe the property from the back and give us a brief background to the owner and design choices.With our glamorous shoe protectors strapped to our feet, we were led to the kitchen, on the ground floor of 78 Derngate.Although the rooms do not seem modern to a contemporary viewers eye, these were a far-flung leap from the styles during the early 1900s. Throughout the house, elements of the interior furnishings are original from their construction. However, some pieces are reconstructions and replicas.

Luckily for the trust, W.J Bassett-Lowke (the original house owner and co-designer with Mackintosh) was so proud of his finished home, that he took many photos and sent them as postcards to friends and relatives. Through these, the reconstructions are almost unrecognisable from their original counterparts!Notable sections of the kitchen include; the extensive use of electricity that would have been extremely expensive at the time, as well as the numerous windows throughout the room to bring in as much natural light as possible!Moving up the stairs, you can see more use of windows – more as a decorative elements – in a tile-like design to make up a lot of the wall.The large dining/drawing room presents a few design elements that are obviously Mackintosh’s style, but nothing extreme. More ingenuitive design can be seen in pieces like the lamps, with a swing hinge and hand hold specifically to enable ease of use!The colours of the rooms decor would have been lost, had a living relative of Bassett-Lowke not been found to tell the reconstructors about the pallet of the walls and rugs!In comparison to the muted, neutral coloured room, the entrance room opposite is the epitome of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s quirky eccentricity in design, colour and shape!From another early enginuitive design of a dual swinging room…To the impressively illusionistic hanging light…All the way to the tiny triangular windows in the front door (which are the earliest recorded use of this shape)!The whole room attempts to (and achieves) the disorientation of the guest in the house! Including lines, patterning from floor to ceiling, this room is something you have to experience in person! 

Especially the guided tour, where you’ll be shown a number of hidden compartments and cubby holes craftily designed into the interior of the room!An added bonus is the replica of the original curtains that were hung in the front window. This pattern is exclusively made for the 78 Derngate charity and trust!

In the gift shop, they sell pillows, throws and ties in their exclusive print!As you proceed from the overwhelming black room upstairs, you’ll notice the lightening of colour, but a consistency with the repetitive square pattern of the walls.The ladies drawing room/bedroom that was used primarily by Mrs Bassett-Lowke, is a much softer interior to the eccentric design of the main room on the floor below. There is no surprise that the assumption is that she allowed her husband free reign of design throughout the house with Mackintosh, but requested one room of her own.Elements of the room were still very modern for the time – like the wallpaper lines around the edges of the room, as well as the furniture pieces!Across the hall you find a bathroom, that at a glance does not seem anything special… And this wish to shrug at a bathroom is what makes it so special! Nearly a hundred years on from it’s original design, and this bathroom is something you would not be surprised to see in a contemporary home!The large shower head, protruding from wall is large and similar to any waterfall head in popular contemporary bathrooms today!

But the really amazing quality of the room is the walls…The mosaic style tiles, are actually just prints on the wall paper that lines the entire inside of the room. And the best bit? The walls and floor are waterproof! This bathroom acts as a hundred year old wetroom!Head one floor up and you’ll find the last room in the house that is actively furnished and would have been seen by visitors of the house – the guest bedroomBased on the original colour pallet, the rooms textiles have been replicated, but a majority of the furniture is original!

This room is obviously the other main room with which Mackintosh has been allowed creative license.Attitudes about the room vary. Leave a comment down below if you like it or loath it!

If you are too eager to wait, you can take a virtual tour of the inside of 78 Derngate house and galleries, here!The back garden is a space that visitors to the house and galleries can roam freely, large discoball sculptures have been planted that catch the light and throw it in every direction.You can see how the galleries and visitors space has been designed in a style like that of Mackintosh, but on a contemporary level. The goal in his designs, and that of 78 Derngate is always to incorporate natural light and bold straight lines.Even if you don’t plan on experiencing the tour of the house, the visitors centre and cafe are a fantastic place to stop anytime!

Black sweater – New Look

Jeans – Cheap Monday

Shoes – Paris souvenir

Bag – Asos

To finish off our visit we decided to stopoff in The Dining Room.(If you want one of their famous High Tea’s, you’ll need to give them a ring a few days before your visit to book because they make the exact amount of cakes and sandwiches that day for their bookings.)With beautiful mismatched china the size of a small bucket for your coffee, this place suited me just fine!Some of our table order a simple classic of eggs on toast…But I was a bit too peckish and went for the smoked salmon salad, poached egg and potatoes.Delicious!There are constant events held at the galleries, including; exhibitions, workshops and even drinks in the gardens! If you want more info on 78 Derngate, visit their website, here!