2 August 2014

the shard - London, and some beer too!

I just love lazy Saturdays in London. There's always somewhere new to check out, and no limit of friendly pubs to enjoy a few pints in...

The Shard - London
view of The Shard from the footpath below

The Shard is an 87-storey skyscraper in London. There's an observation deck at the top you can pay to go up to - but personally I like the view from down under (see what I did there) just as much.

The Shard is approx 306 metres high, and is the tallest building in the European Union. That's tall enough to give you a neck ache!

The Kernel Brewery - London
yummy beers - The Kernel Brewery

Just a short walk from The Shard is one of London's best kept secrets - The Kernel Brewery. The Kernel is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm, and draws a good local crowd who cool off with a fresh pint in the warehouse/stockroom, where all the beer is kept. For those who want to take some beer home, you can purchase the beers by the bottle as well.

The beer is pretty damn good, but I may be biased - as it's brewed with New Zealand hops. A taste of home.

Happy weekend everyone!

31 July 2014

kawaii bunny art keepsakes - Japan

I have a slightly small obsession with Japan and anything cute or kawaii. If you've been reading my posts for a while you'll probably already know this. Japan is my favourite country to visit and travel in. Hands down.

So while in Japan last month I was on the look out for a keepsake to remind me of this visit. And I spotted some very cute bunny art that I couldn't go past... 

Japanese gift wrap

Don't you just love how well everything is packaged up and presented in Japan? Even though I knew what was in this gift-wrapped box - it was so much fun opening it when we got home.


I just love these illustrations. I also love that even though my Japanese is limited I can more or less understand what each individual piece means...

kawaii bunny drinking beer - Japan
biiru de kanpai
beer, cheers!

Kawaii bunny and fish friends - Japan
taisetsu na taisetsu na watashi no tomodachi itsumademo
my precious precious friend forever

Kawaii Japanese art

Okay, so I can't do a proper translation for this last one. As far as I can tell it's referencing a summer festival, and mentions the green and bright leaves. If anyone out there can translate this for me I would be very grateful. I bought it because it reminded me of summer, and the season I was visiting Japan in.

And here is where they have ended up in my home...

Kawaii Japanese art
a lovely little shelf in the living room that was just waiting to be filled!

Kawaii Japanese art
bedside table, spare bedroom

Kawaii Japanese art
bookshelf, our bedroom

 ( \  __  /  )
(   = '.' =  )
( " ) _ ( " )
... so what do you think?

28 July 2014

holiday romance - relaxing with your 'better half'

I think that going on holiday with your 'better half' is one of the best ways to relax and spend time together. Separately, I love to 'people watch', particularly when travelling. Watching other people go about their lives can be so interesting!

... so I am often surprised when I see couples who are obviously on holiday together looking bored and disengaged. I noticed this a lot while in Thailand last month.

Now, I'm not claiming to be an expert on holiday romance, and to be honest this feels like quite a strange topic for a blog post. But I do want to share some of the things my 'better half' and I do when on holiday together to ensure we really do make the most of our time. So here goes...

Holiday romance - Thailand

holiday romance - setting some ground rules


When you go on holiday with someone, it's pretty important to enjoy the time with that person. The person who's sitting opposite you and seeing what you're seeing. So our main holiday rule is:
  • No devices! This means - no phones, tablets, laptops, WiFi, internet. When lying side by side on the beach or sitting across from each other over breakfast I refuse to be one of those couples who are glued to their mobile phones. We talk... 

activity breeds enjoyment and memories


... and when talking gets old (come on - you can only talk for so long!!) we explore.

1. Leave the comfort of the pool or your beach lounger and explore your surroundings.
You never know what you might find. While in Thailand hubby and I left our resort and all the people hanging round the pool, walked 20 minutes down the road and found our own private beach for the day. It was amazing!

Private beach - Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

2. Sample local food and drink. Challenging, relaxing and fun!
Not only do you get to try something new and potentially delicious, but you also get to share a new experience together. And hey, there's nothing like washing down a meal with a nice chilled beer or cocktail, right!?

Local beer - Thailand

3. Book a couples massage or spa day.
The one activity you should splash out on! Go on, indulge...

Having a massage - Thailand

4. Go for a swim at sunrise or sunset.
While everyone else is sleeping or eating take ownership of the beach or pool. Trust me, it's all yours for the taking.

Ko Phi Phi Beach at sunset - Thailand

5. Read a book together.
This may sound a little nerdy, but personally it's one of the most lovely, relaxing things you can do with your other half. My hubby and I will often choose a book together and then take turns reading a chapter aloud. Way better than watching TV together!

6. Enjoy a private breakfast
Most resorts these days offer some kind of breakfast buffet option. And most, if asked will pick a selection of food for you and deliver to your room. Take your breakfast to the beach or wherever else you feel like eating.

Breakfast - Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

7. When in doubt just go for a walk.
Beach walks, bush walks, road walks - you'll always find something of interest...

Beach walk - Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Happy summer holidays!!

26 July 2014

Maya Bay, Thailand - aka 'the beach'

While in Thailand last month hubby and I did a day trip out to Maya Bay, also known as 'The Beach' from the famous 2000 film staring Leonardo Dicaprio. This famous movie was based on the book by Alex Garland (which is a great read by the way!).

You hope, and you dream
and you never believe that something's gonna happen for real
A man dies...
leaves you a mystery map to a secret island
and your life is different
It won't ever be the same again
- Alex Garland, The beach

Maya Bay, Thailand - our first glimpse of the beach
Maya Bay, Thailand - our first glimpse of the beach

As we rounded the corner of Ko Phi Phi Lee Island and took in our first glimpse of Maya Bay - and it looked to be every bit 'The Beach' paradise we had been promised...

... a circle of towering cliffs enclosed the sheltered bay, powdery white sand, sparkling green/blue crystal clear water, and the sun reflecting the sky back into our eyes...

Maya Bay Thailand, aka The Beach

If we had been the only people visiting Maya Bay then it would have been paradise. Absolute paradise...

...but since The Beach was filmed here in 1999, and Leo graced these silky shores, the daily reality of Maya Bay is actually a bit more like this... tourists everywhere!

The real Maya Bay Thailand, aka The Beach

There were so many boats, that there was not a single place in Maya Bay where you could safely swim. And all of them were pumping fuel into the water (it smelt like we were at a gas/petrol station).

There were so many people that, well it was bloody noisy, and not relaxing at all. Here's a short clip my hubby took while we were there. Unfortunately this is the real Maya Bay paradise experience for the majority of people that visit 'the beach' these days...

video

Now before you get too disheartened, I did met some lovely people on holiday at our resort who had paid a bit more to visit Maya Bay first thing in the morning (at about 6am). They had 'the beach' to themselves for almost an hour before the other boats started arriving. So, if it's your hearts desire to really see Maya Bay at it's best get in early! We arrived at about 9am and as you can see it was extremely busy by then.

From 'the beach' you can take a two minute stroll inland to where the camp was supposedly set up in The Beach Movie...

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

...and the path leads up to a small look out over another gorgeous lagoon. I think this is the spot in the movie where Leo and his French mates jump over the cliffs to reach the camp. In acutual fact it's a pretty sweet spot for snorkelling.

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

Tired of the noise, and our illusions of 'paradise' shattered (owwwww) we left Maya Bay, aka The Beach in search of quieter waters.

Ko Phi Phi Lee, Thailand

Hopefully I haven't put you off visiting Maya Bay. It is a naturally beautiful spot. You just need to get there super early to enjoy it!

If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, 
it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. 
Don't talk about going to Borneo. 
Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens. 
― Alex Garland, The Beach

19 July 2014

Brighton beach - London's best day trip

We've had a bit of a 'heat wave' in London this past week. It's been humid, sticky, and on most days bright and sunny.

So what better way to indulge the English sun? Why a day out to Brighton beach of course - one of the best known beaches in the UK, and my favourite London day trip...

Brighton Beach with a view of Brighton Pier
Brighton beach, with a view of the old west pier in the background

Getting to Brighton from London is very easy - you simply catch a train from either London Victoria, London Bridge or London St Pancras train stations, and the journey takes approximately one hour. Once your arrive in Brighton, follow the crowds and walk straight down the high street. The high street is on a lovely downhill slope so you'll reach the famous pebbly beach in no time.

Brighton beach has a great cosmopolitan vibe, and in summer there are always hundreds of people out and about enjoying the water, seaside cafés and bars, local art and galleries

We strolled along the waterfront towards Brighton Pier...

Brighton beach front

... and stopped for two (or three) turns on Brighton's own merry-go-round on the beach! 

The merry-go-round is one of my favourite things to do on Brighton beach and I always take it for a spin or two, often to the amusement of onlookers as mostly it's kids that enjoy this ride. But, hey - there is nothing better than a merry-go-round on the beach, sea air in your hair, and the view! 

Brighton Beach merry-go-round on the beach

As well as the beach there's a whole heap of cool stuff to do in Brighton if you're planning on making a weekend of it:
  • shopping on North Laine
  • water sports
  • seafront clubs and bars in the evening
  • coffee sampling at the many independent cafés
  • Brighton Pier for some carnival type entertainment
  • and of course every visit to Brighton must include fish and chips on the beach

View of Brighton beach from Brighton Pier
view of Brighton beach from Brighton Pier

We made the mandatory visit to Brighton Pier, enjoyed a ice-cream, watched the crazy rides and then tied the knot again! (Just kidding.) 

Ride on Brighton Pier

Just married on Brighton Pier

Ahhh... my favourite Brighton merry-go-round again...

Brighton beach merry-go-round

And a sunset...

Brighton west pier sunset

It's not quite so sunny this weekend so I'm having a quite one in London. What's everyone up to?
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