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My March Travels Throughout The Years

I’m sure I’ll soon be writing a post on everything I started baking during the March 2020 lockdown, but I also thought it would be fun to look back at some of the trips I took and the places I lived during the month of March over the years.

barcelona

Last March I went to Barcelona for the second time. Besides a lot of eating, the stroll from the old city centre to the beach, a night of dancing and a very slow walk through and to the top of Parc Guell, I didn’t get around to doing much else.

paris parijs

The year before that I was wandering around Paris where I crossed off 3 places on my museum list, ate a croissant in a park and had a catch-up wine with a friend. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been to Paris, but I still have too many places I still haven’t seen or done!

March is not a month I tend to go on trips – that’s usually January and February… so we are going to make a jump all the way back to 2012 where I was in Finland for my exchange programme. I had come back from Australia in January where it was 40 degrees C and then flew to Finland where it was – 20C! It was cold, SAD kicked in and had a hard time adapting. But Finland was beautiful and almost everyone had a form of SAD, so we all shared our seasonal sorrows and spent our money on overpriced drinks.

bucketlist

In 2011 did a little round trip from Wrocław, Poland to Linz, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic. It’s a very random mix of places, but the flights to Wrocław were ridiculously cheap and after a walk through the old town I regret not taking more time to check out the place… but Prague was calling. The main reason for this trip was to visit the PEZ Factory in Linz where my cousin worked and which was about to close and I needed to see it before it moved to Hungary – it was EVERYTHING.

March 2009 was a mix of Austria, Germany and London. The first few days I was still in Austria, where I had spent the season working at a winter holiday park, snowboarding during my lunch breaks and having way too many cheese fondues. I then went back to the holiday park in Germany where I had been at the previous two Summers, working front desks and providing the entertainment for guests.

In 2008 I had my second season in Saarbug, Germany and lived and worked on top of a hill completely surrounded by grapes used for Riesling wine. When not working I was in Trier or taking trips to nearby Luxembourg and France.

In 2007 I was in London for the final month of my internship. And when I say London I really mean Croydon … Long before the Boxpark, where you only had the KFC, Greggs or the Chinese place on George Street. I worked front desk at a hotel and on my days off I took the 468 bus to go north of the river and explore central London bit by bit, or if that was a bit too much, I’d binge movies I rented from good old Blockbuster.

So in retrospect, my Marches have always been a bit random, so this year’s is no different!

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Where To Find The Best Working From Home Music

Where To Find The Best Working From Home Music

New to working from home? The first week is all about establishing boundaries with your flatmates, finding the perfect video conference background, and listening to all the Corona playlists. However, now that’s over, you’ve run out of playlists and are not sure where to turn. There’s so much audio out there on video and streaming services, but which is best for concentrating and keeping productive when you’re trapped inside?

RELAXING SOUNDS
If you miss being in your favourite coffee shop, well Cafe Music BGM Channel has you sorted – relaxing jazz, piano and other genres to give you that perfect accompaniment for your espresso, latte or mocha. The group is part of the larger BGM Channel, with even more genres.

FILM SOUNDTRACKS
Another good place to start is film soundtracks – things you’re familiar with, but ambient, relaxed versions so it’s not too distracting, such as those by Syneptic who covers Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Pirates of the Caribbean.

INSTRUMENTAL ARTISTS
And if you feel like pretending you’re in film with a surreal story, playing bands like Explosions in the Sky, God Is An Astronaut and Mogwai will help you immerse and can act as the soundtrack. Explosions in the Sky’s album All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is the best one to start with, especially when the notes of It’s Natural to Be Afraid start playing while you dramatically look out of window, waiting for your adventure to beg.

VIDEO GAME SOUNDTRACKS
An unexpected goldmine of great background tunes is video game music, particularly with a more chill spin on it, such as those from Luigi’s Calm/Relaxing Soundtracks, Tenpers Universe and SuperRedGames “Video Game Music for Studying” series.

AMBIENT SOUNDS
If you don’t want any music to get in the way of your productivity, try ambient background channels like Immerse in Nature, Guild of Ambience and Meditation Forest, which feature cozy libraries, tranquil forests and warm fireplaces indoors with a storm in the backdrop.

London

What You Need To Know About Visiting London: Corona Virus Edition

You probably know everything you need to know about Coronavirus by now, but what about travelling to London at the moment? I’ve put together an overview of the current situation and it might affect your plans.

Can I still travel to London?
You can at the time of writing (16/03), with no limitations for travel in London and the UK, and no requirement quarantine on arrival. Yes, most London attractions, museums and restaurants are open and public transport is functioning as normal. But do you really want to get on board train or plane right now? If you’ve already booked, check if you can get a voucher to rebook for a later time.

UPDATE 17/03: While you still might be able to physically travel to London, the official advice from Visit London is ”The UK is still open to visitors. However, the UK government has advised all visitors to consider if your travel is essential. ”. Since the government suggested people avoid crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres, many of the capital’s major attractions have since closed or announced their future plans to.

What can’t I do in London?
• Use your reusable cup at Starbucks – you will still receive a 25p discount for bringing reusable cups with you, but your drinks will be served in disposable cups.
• Catch a Premier League football match (cancelled until at least April)
• See Daniel Radcliffe in EndGame (no it’s not the Avengers!) as the Old Vic is the first major London theatre that has cancelled performances; other theatres to cancel include the Young Vic and the Arcola. (UPDATE 16/03: all major London theatres are closed until further notice)
• Visit the South London Gallery or the Wellcome Collection – both are closed until further notice. All London museums have now closed or are planning to close in the coming days.
•The same goes for most of the cinema chains including Odeon, Vue, and Picturehouse.

How does London look like?
A lot of companies allow working from home so the streets in Central London are emptier than normal. To give you an idea, this is Soho this afternoon.

While stores like Apple, Urban Outfitters and Nike are closed for the moment, the LEGO Store and M&M’s Store on Leicester Square are open as usual.

Will food markets stay open? This is a rather empty offering from today in Rupert Street in Soho.

In terms of restaurants, most places are open as normal, though a lot emptier, such as Bill’s, which is usually packed but a lot quieter today.

It looks like while restaurants, at least at lunchtime, are less busy, delivery drivers are taking up the slack.

A brave buddy.

How to protect yourself while in London

In case you’re ‘stuck’ in London here are a few ‘tongue in cheek’ tips on how to protect yourself presented by my good friend and Germophobe Adam

    • Being a bit OCD about germs was never my thing, but given the current news I had to get in touch with long-running blog friend Adam to ask him his top tips for surviving in London while being a bit OCD about touching things. He’s a bit over the top, so take his suggestions with a pinch of salt (or hand sanitiser!)
    • London might be the most wonderfully amazing city on earth (next to LA ofc), but the metropolis can be scary when you’re a bit of a germophobe, so here’s how to take it in your stride and avoid unnecessary touching in the capital.
    • Paying for items or transport? Be a ninja – keep that debit/credit card, Oyster or phone from touching the reader and keep it about half an inch or so above to avoid having to wash your cards. My personal advice is to stick to paying by phone (Apple/Google pay) to skip having to type your PIN in occasionally for security reasons.

  • Opening doors? Treat it like yoga – use your elbows or feet/knees to open doors (what else are you using elbows for right?!), but if it’s a pull door, slide your wrist behind the handle/bar to pull it towards you. If you’re in a toilet, use a tissue to open or close the doors for maximum relief.
  • Travelling on buses or the tube? It’s all about balance baby – find a corner or window/door to lean against to avoid holding the poles, or if you have to, wear gloves or ensure you have sanitiser ready to use when you escape. If you’re a that rare species of tube surfer even
    better, use that surfer’s balance to stand without holding on to anything (sadly I’m not able to manage this feat). Obviously finding a spot to lean is tough in rush hour, so try and stick to non-peak hours if you can!
  • Self serve tills? Make a fist – these tills might seem like heaven as you’re avoiding extra human contact, but touch screens are a big no no. In this case use your knuckles or gloves and like I said earlier – keep that card safe from touching the reader directly.
  • Heading out to eat? Be a monk – make sure you wash your hands or use sanitiser before devouring meals, and don’t let any concerns ruin a tasty treat.

How’s the situation in your current location?

Movies

Things I Would Blog About If I Had A Film Blog: 8 Horror Movies to Watch on Friday the 13th That Aren’t Friday the 13th

must see horror movies

Think Friday the 13th, and you think bad luck, misery and disaster. I think: that’s a great excuse for a Friday Night horror marathon. If you’re looking for inspiration because you’ve seen all the classics, the modern must-sees and have even given Saw a go, I’m here to answer your prayers. There’s always room for more horror and here are some spine-tingling recent examples you just to have to see before you die (gruesomely).

Happy Death Day
Summary: A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer’s identity.

Tea’s Thought: Oooh how I’ve missed horror films a la Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Faculty. And Happy Death Day filled that gap! Fun fact… there is a sequel that’s just as good.

Apostle
Summary: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.

Tea’s Thought: I loved this atmospheric horror/thriller. It does take its time to build, but the setting combined with the story and the acting keeps you invested until the craziness really starts.

Train To Busan
Summary: While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.

Tea’s Thought: Train to Busan is actually terrifying considering the current affairs, but this Korean zombie movie should be on your list for its fantastic set of characters.

Ready Or Not
Summary: A bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

Ready or Not has all the ingredients I need in a horror movie: an old mansion house with a lot of rooms, eccentric and over the top family members and most importanntly – Seth Cohen.

Blackcoat’s Daughter
Summary: Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.

This films shows a lot, but barely tells you anything so you have the free reign to put together the clues and make it your own. Blackcoat’s Daughter is also very slow, so if you are not into that better opt for one of the other films.

It Comes At Night
Summary: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorises the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

Tea’s Thought:Horror movies where the problem comes from the inside the circle rather than from outside are my favourites and this one did a superb job, perfectly building the tension to breaking point.

One Cut of The Dead
Summary: Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.

Tea’s Thought: I would say this is a safe zombie comedy for people who don’t like gory scenes. It’s one of my favourite and original movies I’ve seen in a long while and reminded me of the camaraderie of my film school days.

Satanic Panic
Summary: A pizza delivery girl at the end of her financial rope has to fight for her life – and her tips – when her last order of the night turns out to be high society Satanists in need of a virgin sacrifice.

Tea’s Thought: Despite a few ridiculously gory scenes I really enjoyed this horror comedy with some great one liners and a star turn from Ruby Modine

UK

York In One Day

Last month I finally made it to York for a short trip and loved it! It’s actually the first place outside London where I could see myself living long-term – the prices are great, the pace of life was just right and there is so much history. Walking through York city is a proper walk through time – a Gothic cathedral here, a Medieval city wall there and a Georgian town house around the corner. Here’s my take on the best way to spend a day in York:

Walk the Walls
Walk around sections of the grand stone walls that have stood the test of time for over 2000 years and the wind will whisper you their stories. The 2 miles / 3.22 km walk takes you around the edge of York, giving a different perspective of the city, and is a great way to scope out the sights ahead of time.
Clifford Tower York Clifford Tower York

Check out Clifford’s Tower
While most of York Castle, which dated back to the 11th century, is no longer with us – one main part still remains, Clifford’s Tower. The tower looks great on top of that hill, but not worth the £6.30 entrance as there is nothing much inside and you’ll likely spend a max of 15 minutes walking around. So look at it from the outside and spend the money you saved to climb the tower at the Minster and enjoy the best view of the city.

York Mansion House York Mansion House

Explore York Mansion House
This Georgian masterpiece was built in 1732 as a home for the Lord Mayor of York, and has been at the centre of York society ever since. Today you can explore it and see where all the banquets took place, dress-up and dance around in the ball room and even try to make a virtual meal in the Georgian kitchen in the basement.

Merchant Adventurers' Hall Merchant Adventurers' Hall

Check out the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall
Dating back to the 1500s, this stunning medieval guild hall is the home of The Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York. As my visit was in the middle of the Jorvik Viking Festival I ended up in a hall full of dressed up Viking traders selling all things Norse. It definitely gave the visit an extra touch of authenticity, and the attention to detail on the costumes was as good as any comic convention! Bakeshop York

Bakeshop York cinnamon bun

Take A Break At Bakeshop
The Bakeshop should be your go-to place for very good coffee and delicious freshly-made cakes and pastries. While my favourite was their cinnamon orange bun, their salads and sandwiches looked scrumptious too. The only downside is there’s not too many seats inside, but takeaway will taste as good!

York Castle Museum York Castle Museum

Visit the York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum covers hundreds of years of York’s history with something for everyone: it has a recreation of a historical Victorian street, an area covering 1960s culture, a section on the Georgian Prison that was once on the place of the current museum and exhibits and stories spanning the First World War. As a historical ‘cultural’ museum addict, this was place was everything.

York Museum Gardens

Walk Around The Museum Gardens
Well… in Summer or Spring this park, which is also home to the Yorkshire Museum, is the go to for a picnic, but during Autumn and Winter you might want to walk around and check out the stunning stone ruins of medieval St. Mary’s Abbey and the well preserved Tudor house down by the River Ouse.

York Minster York Minster

York Minster Tower View York Minster Tower View

Go Inside York Minster + Climb up the Tower
If being the largest gothic cathedral in Europe doesn’t impress you, then the stunning stained-glass windows, grand architecture and general ambience will definitely do the trick. If you’re brave enough, climb the 276 stairs to reach an amazing view from the top of the tower. If you’d prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, the Undercroft underneath the cathedral has a fascinating exhibition on the Roman ruins and construction of the building. The Shambles York The Shambles York

Wander the Shambles
The Shambles is a small narrow medieval street in the centre that’s where butchers once plied their trade, which isn’t as glamorous as you might think – they also threw out the discarded bits of meat right into the street! Nowadays there’s no guts to be seen, and there are claims the street may have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley. You can judge for yourself – I give it 3/5 broomsticks (Nimbus 2000s to be specific!).

Spark: York

Spark: York

Eat and Drink at Spark: York
This social space and street food hub, pieced together with refurbished shipping containers is one of the best self-contained spots to eat, drink and relax in the centre, with street food, craft beer and cocktails! I can recommend vegan kebab at Doner Summer who also do a mean candy floss covered cocktail so perfect hideaway for when it rains.

York Cold War Bunker York Cold War Bunker

Visit York Cold War Bunker
If you find yourself in York on the weekend then head to Holgate for a tour of a Cold War bunker that was built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallouts in the event of nuclear war. Guided tours start every hour and last for about 1 hour, where you’ll explore the different parts of the complex and hear stories about how the people who worked there lived.

How to get there
London to York by train is doable in a day and most of the main York attractions are within walking distance of each other. Trains from London King’s Cross take around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The Elmbank Hotel York

Staying there
Stay central at the boutique Judges Court Hotel, opt for the Grand for their deluxe spa treatments, or if you want something more quiet go for The Elmbank Hotel.

Make it a weekend trip?
If you’re thinking of taking a weekend trip, combine a day in York with a day in nearby Leeds, which is only 20-30 mins away by train.