Friday, 29 July 2011

friday fives

5 summer-inspired photos this week from flickr user f-fotografie - German photographer Julia Flot's flickr photostream. Have a look at more of Julia's work on her official website - she's incredibly talented!

Why the summer inspired photos? Because I've booked flights, and shortly will have booked a hotel too, for my summer holiday - to Italy!
I'm flying out to Pisa with one of my closest girl friends (who's currently living the dream, staying with a family over there by the sea near Rome and teaching them English - so jealous!). We're spending a week doing Pisa, Florence, Lucca as well as most likely a trip to the seaside... and I cannot wait!

5 things that made me smile this week:

  1. Arranging holidays, of course

  2. Cosy pub lunch with my family last Sunday

  3. Taking the dog for walks in the lovely Buckinghamshire countryside last weekend

  4. Getting a few exciting emails

  5. Interviewing the fantastic photographer Chris Craymer this week

5 things that I'm looking forward to:

  1. Seeing Carlos Acosta Premieres Plus in London tonight

  2. An impromptu trip up to see my boyfriend this weekend

  3. Drinks and fun nights planned for next week

  4. Catching up with old friends next week, eventually!

  5. My holiday... of course!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Love, Britain

To be honest, the UK's had a bit of a hard time recently, hasn't it? Phone hacking scandals, the ongoing rather depressing economy and sporting failures (oh dear again, Murray) - not to mention the weather being distinctly more autumn/winter than spring/summer. We all seem to be giving Britain a pretty hard time, don't we?

Here's a little injection of patriotic affection in the form of a blog post, then. These images show some of the things I love the most about where I live - red telephone boxes (and their link to long-standing traditions and history); gorgeous nature and forests that have stood for hundreds of years; cosy old cottages in the countryside with windowseats, open fires and dark wood beams; and large open fields with rolling hills. So pretty, non?

It's so easy to forget all this, though, and I think we do, all too often. I think we tend to dwell on what's wrong with where we live, all the horrific news in the media, rather than focusing on the little things that make us smile, the things we take for granted, the ability these things have to pick us up when we need it; and, to me, all the little things mentioned above are very much to be enjoyed and celebrated. I think we tend to focus on the cities in Britain, the problems, dirt, crime, overcrowding and so on; and overlook - or dismiss - the countryside. But really, I've always found escaping to the countryside for a few days to be an instant pick-me-up; something to remind myself that I do really quite like Britain after all. The fact that I always think of going to the countryside as retreating - stealing myself away to a comforting, cosy kind of place - I think says it all.

I was feeling a little melancholy on Saturday morning; I'd received some not-so-great news and was feeling tired of London and the hustle and bustle of my life. I knew I had to shake myself out of the mood I was in. And so my solution? I drove through the Buckinghamshire countryside, amidst rolling hills, to my grandparents' house. I walked the dog in the woods that have been standing hundreds of years and enjoyed being surrounded by nature; I had a big, comforting Sunday lunch in an old, dark and cosy village pub. I visited a second-hand bookshop next to a village green and a duk pond where I could surround myself with books for hours, quietly browsing, and I drunk a ridiculous amount of tea along with a few too many jam cream biscuits. Little things, I know. Quintessentially British things, I suppose. But I felt - instantly - so much better.

Celebrating Britain a little bit more, I've written a blog post over at the lovely Cellardoor Magazine's blog this week on some of the best British-inspired exhibitions in London this year - do head over for a read if you fancy it!

These photos are from Flickr user Jakem's Polaroid set; do visit his photostream for more gorgoeus photos which will make you want to venture out to the British countryside too!

Friday, 22 July 2011

friday fives

5 photos:
this week all from Flickr user Cristina Hoch's 'the forest' set
, in celebration of the fact that I'll be going for lovely long walks in the countryside very soon - going to lovely rural Buckinghamshire for the weekend!

5 things that made me smile this week:
  1. Securing an interview with the amazing photographer Chris Craymer - so excited to interview him!
  2. Birthday celebrations with friends in London last Saturday
  3. A lazy pub lunch last Sunday
  4. Having today (Friday) off work!
  5. Exciting thoughts and plans... :)

5 things that I'm looking forward to this week:
  1. Getting out of London for walks in the Buckinghamshire countryside with the dog when I go to visit my grandparents this weekend
  2. A rather fancy big family lunch planned on Sunday
  3. Lazy evening in with the boy tonight
  4. Catching up with friends I haven't seen in a very long time in the evenings next week
  5. Seeing the amazing ballet dancer Carlos Acosta (for the second time in as many months!) in his new show next Friday
How have your weeks been?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

two little ducks / 22

So here it is; my first blog post as a 22 year old. It was my birthday and as always with these things, I don't
feel any different, although apparently I'm now officially a year older (and, laughingly, wiser).

My birthday itself was on a Wednesday, so was a fairly quiet one - I went to work as normal and celebrated with a lovely Thai green curry with my parents in the evening, followed by a gorgeous chocolate birthday cake (with melted Cadbury's chocolate on top - such a guilty pleasure) to follow.
On Saturday, though, I made up for my quiet birthday with a gathering of 14 or so friends; it was so lovely to see everyone, including some people I hadn't caught up with in
going on a year - can it really be that long since I finished university and moved away from Brighton now? Apparently so!
To celebrate, we went for tea and cake at a lovely vintage-inspired café in Soho, in the heart of London. We had our own private room, with records playing, old photos on the wall, a selection of old wooden tables and chairs to sit at and gorgeous tea sets - it was all very much like a typical grandmother's lounge, but in a very cute way. We had delicious cream teas and lemon cake, and the English breakfast tea was lovely, too; after all, nothing beats a cup of tea, and nothing beats loose leaf tea in particular.

After the rather civilised tea, we went for not-quite-so-civilised cocktails and wine in a bar nearby, where we all got rather merry. Lots of fun.

I've been so lucky this year. I've got some gorgeous presents from some wonderful people, and feel very spoilt and very happy. Here are a few gifts that I received:

Beautiful earrings from a lovely boyfriend:

A lovely floral Cath Kidston mug and little pot (biscuit tin?)

And amazing flowering tea:

A rather funny (and apt!) mug from work colleagues:

Pretty soaps and such:

Lush bath bombs:

And fancy chocolates:

Add to that tickets to see two ballets from my parents and money from other very kind relatives, and I really do think I did rather well for myself this year!

I feel like I'm settling, properly, into my 20s now. Not only does the number of my age now of course reflect that, but I'm starting to feel like a proper adult - like I've made the transition from teenage girl into young woman. I've been a graduate with a full-time job in PR for nearly a year now, and I'm just starting to develop my freelance writing too, something which I've wanted to do for a long time.
It's been quite an eventful time since my 21st birthday, in lots of ways; a graduation, a first full-time paid permenant job; a transition from a university relationship into singledom into a new early twenties relationship; a change in dynamics of several friendships, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways; a promotion and change of job title and some really very exciting plans for the future ahead.

21 was eventful - but ultimately, very positive. And now, you know what? I have a feeling 22 will be even better; I have a feeling it'll be one of the best years yet.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


I have some news! I'm now contributing to the rather lovely Cellardoor Magazine's blog, hopefully on a weekly basis. I've written my first blog post for them this week on the best place to get a cocktail in London, and would love to hear your feedback! You can have a read of the blog post here. :)

Anyway, back to the weekly fives, which sneakily aren't on a Friday this week. The five photos this week from lovely Flickr user TeresaQ's photostream; such a great photographer - and I love the girl's white lace dress! I'm having a bit of a thing for lace at the moment...

And as for other fives:

Five things that made me smile this week:
  1. Finding a very cute little tearoom and having tea there with one of my besties
  2. Making birthday plans
  3. A very lovely cocktail making session with a very good friend
  4. Fun dancing after the cocktail making session!
  5. Watching the Wimbledon final last Sunday - although am still a little sad that Rafa lost!
Five things I'm looking forward to this week:
  1. My birthday. I am so very excited!
  2. My birthday party next Saturday, joint with one of my closest friends and an opportunity to catch up with a lot of lovely people
  3. Dinner and catch ups with an old friend on Monday
  4. Further catch ups with friends on Thursday
  5. My work's summer party - basically a half day off work and an excuse to enjoy a BBQ - on Friday. How exciting!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Restaurant Review: Samarqand

Have you ever tried Uzbek food? Up until very recently, I can't say I ever had - or particularly had ever realised that I wanted to.
Finding myself standing outside restaurant Samarqand, though, I have to say that I was intrigued. Located near London's Bond Street station, it's an inconspicuous little place tucked away amidst the standard Italian chains, Indian restaurants and English pubs - and a welcome change.

With the menu positioned on a stand outside two large black double doors at street level, those deciding that the food takes their fancy then venture down a dark wooden staircase into the basement restaurant below. It's all rather mysterious and atmospheric.

Soft lighting, cushions, intricate patterns and wooden decorations all set a very calming scene, with impeccable and friendly service; but, of course, we were here for the food, the most important thing about any restaurant. And, luckily enough for Samarqand, their food is

Ordering a round of starters, we tried a variety of dishes, such as the Choochwara, aromatic grilled meat dumplings with soya dressing and mixed leaves, and the Funchoza, a spicy rice noodle dish with beef and carrots that delivered quite a kick.
Moving onto mains, we deliberated over the menu for quite a while - so much looked great, and the starters had really whetted our appetite. Despite very nearly going for the Manty - steamed lamb dumplings with Asian herbs and yoghurt dressing - and being incredibly tempted by the Alanga, fried minced meat laid on handmade pasta sheets served with yoghurt, the most traditional dish was the one that eventually caught my eye.
I have to admit that it was the name I saw at the top of the menu which made me laughingly choose it at first. Plov. I'd never heard of a plov, but the friendly waiter told me it was the most famous, most typical - and, best of all, most delicious - dish on the menu.Well, with that recommendation, how could I resist?

Half an hour and a glass of rather nice wine later, I was presented with a huge plate full of perfectly cooked rice, chunky lamb pieces, spiced onions, carrots and chillis and a cool refreshing tomato side salad. Beautifully presented on a gorgeous blue china dish - a rather novel step away from the usual plain white restaurant dining plate - it was a perfectly size portion and really did taste great.
Unusual in its flavour combinations, if there had to be a criticism of the dish it would have to be that it could have done with a sauce or something similar - it was a little dry, but perhaps that's just how the cuisine is (my experience of Uzbek food is, after all, really very limited). That, and perhaps also the fact that I mistakenly chewed and swallowed a whole chilli, which ruined my taste buds for the remainder of the dish (but I acknowledge that as my own stupid fault!)

Bond Street is notorious for being a bit pricy; and the fact that I was dining out with a selection of lawyers and bankers didn't exactly help keep the cost down to my media industry salary budget. However, sometimes paying a little more than you usually would is justified when it's a really unusual dining experience you're not bound to experience again too soon - and this is the case with Samarqand. Starters came in between £9 and £15 each, with mains averaging around the £14 mark, without sides.

Would I make Uzbek cuisine a regular choice of mine? I can't say I liked it
quite that much, although it was really good, and definitely worth a try. And besides, it's always good to try something different; after all, when's the last time you tried Uzbek, Russian or Mongolian cuisine?

You can visit Samarqand's website - and find out more information including location and booking availability - here.

Friday, 1 July 2011

just a minute / (very exciting) friday fives

So I start this month with some very exciting news - I've been promoted at work this month! I am now an Account Executive - and very pleased about it!

In other news, another month has apparently flown by; here are the friday fives for this week and Just a Minute for this month.

Five photos from my month
  1. Banksy print I saw in Bristol last weekend
  2. Cupcakes (an essential part of any month)
  3. A ticket to the ballet Romeo and Juliet at the 02 Arena - amazing!
  4. A little leaflet and goodie bag from the Life in a Day premiere I went to a few weeks ago
  5. Ice cream - summer's here!

Five things that made me smile this week
  1. Getting promoted!
  2. Seeing two old friends together for the first time in a long time
  3. A very nice weekend in Bristol
  4. Sorting out birthday plans
  5. Errr, can I say getting promoted again?!

Five things I'm looking forward to this coming week
  1. Enjoying my boyfriend's birthday present (tickets to a show) with him tomorrow
  2. Watching the Wimbledon final!
  3. Seeing one of my besties for dinner early next week
  4. Seeing another friend for dinner late next week
  5. Booking a much-needed holiday!

And this month, I am...

Reading... Great House by Nicole Krauss, and some old Philippa Gregory novels again

Buying... Lots of dinners out, birthday treats and holidays

Listening... to Motown, my usual random selection and a variety of my boyfriend's car cds

Watching... the new series of True Blood - so excited that this is back!

Loving... my new job title ;)

Planning... the next few weekends, afternoon tea and birthday celebrations

Want to join in with Just a Minute?
I found this on Daydream Lily's lovely blog via August Street, late last year, and it's a lovely little monthly activity. Feel free to join in - and make sure to send me a link if you do though, so I can see what you're up to at the moment!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...