20 things I want to see, try and do at home, in London and beyond in the coming year, split between the capital, travel and most importantly, myself.
Go To The Tower of London – The Tower of London is one of the last few big touristy attractions I haven’t visited and I feel the anticipation is building up.
Harry Potter Studios in Winter – I’ve been wanting to experience the Harry Potter Studios winter magic for ages, but when I finally found someone willing to splurge money it, it was sold out on the one date we both could do. 2020 should be the year though.
Living Medicine Workshop – Plants and healing is a big thing in my culture and my great grandmother was really clued up on it. Sadly she passed away before I was old enough to learn enough her secrets. I’ve seen this course at the Chelsea Physic Garden that might fit the bill and would love to attend one or two in.
Go To The Andy Warhold Retrospective @ Tate Modern – There is an Andy Warhold retrospective coming to the Tate Modern and I want to finally see it all in one place: from the Marilyn Monroe screen prints to Campbell’s Soup Cans and the Triple Elvis.
Visit The Alice In Wonderland Exhibition @ V&A – Then there is the Alice in Wonderland exhibition where I would love to learn more about the origins, adaptations and reinventions of the Lewis Carroll’s pinafore-wearing hero. I’m booking on time to avoid getting up too early and having to queue.
Follow A Sewing Workshop – I can mend a few things here and there, but would love to learn more. The Fashion and Textile Museum has some very cool courses and I really want to do the Copy Your Clothes one. The idea is to take an item and learn how you can re-create it. I have this St Michael skirt in different prints and would love to figure out how to make it myself.
Go To A Sports Event – I really enjoyed watching ice-hockey in New York and want to go to a sports events in London as the last one was a West Ham football match way back in 2013 … so definitely time go check out a live sports event. Whether that’s a traditional rugby game or lucha libre wrestling match, doesn’t matter to me, just need to make it happen.
Go To The Moth – I’m a huuuuge fan of the Dutch version of this series, and listen to their podcasts all the time. They have a section where people read from their old diaries and it’s the best 10 – 15 minutes I’ll listen to that day. Tickets are sold out until mid next year, but I might as well check out the London version in the meantime.
Make The Most Of My 2 For 1 Railcard – I have the 2 For 1 card for another 6 months and should really make more use of it. I’m thinking at least York, Margate and Liverpool for a day or short weekend trip. The places for day/weekend trips are sorted, now I need a time and date.
Go Glamping Or Stay In A Tiny House – I’ve been trying to find a tiny house or glamping site that’s reasonably easy to reach via public transport, but it has proven to be difficult. By the time spring or some nicer weather has come through I hope to have found somewhere to rest my head in the wild.
Take A Trip On A Sleeper Train – I’ve been thinking about taking the sleeper train from London to Cornwall (and back) to check out what the south-west corner of the UK has to offer and to visit the Eden Project. This one is for later in the year as I’d like it to be in bloom.
Watch Eurovision In Netherlands – Ideally I want to get tickets during round two of the tickets sale and watch it in the stadium. Eurovision is one of my favourite events of the year and the Netherlands winning it last year was one a dream come true and I need to be in that bubble when the event takes place there.
Go On A Solo City Trip – Last year I took the train to Basque Country, the year before I went to Paris, and 2020 is still a TBC, but should bring me somewhere new where I can test out eating myself and having no one to cry with when I get lost.
Digital Detox One Weekend A Month – I did a few sporadic digital detoxes throughout last year as I find I can be dependant on my phone too much. This year I want to do a digital detox weekend once a month, even if that means getting lost or missing a train.
Brush Up On My French 101 – Re-read the basics and learn some new words, so I can order more than just ice-cream or ask for directions to the closest bar. I found a French schoolbook in a charity shop so I might start with that.
Add New Recipes To My Go-To List – I tend to make the 6 same dishes throughout winter, but the Green Roasting Tin book I got from Santa should give me at least 6 more dishes I can add to my routine.
Re-watch Some Of My Favourite Movies – I’ve seen too many disappointing films in 2019 and in order to re-spark my love for film crafting I need to reacquaint myself with some of my favourites.
Wear All Of My Unworn Clothes – I’m always buying any vintage mini skirts I find in my size, despite the fact I only end up wearing the same 2 reguarly, which is a waste of my space and a bit sad for the items not getting enough love. Throughout the year I want to wear those forgotten ones to see if they are for me and if not I can put them online and find them a new home.
Re-read Some Of The Classics – I realised I haven’t read a lot of the classics or don’t remember the plots, characters or scenes much at all. So, in addition to my reading pile I want to add a few classics. Moonstone, The Sun Also Rises and To The Lighthouse are some of the titles that are on my list.
Keep A Plant Or Vegetable Alive – Ever since I killed a cactus I gave up on this, but seeing everyone’s green babies my hands have started to itch. I have a chive grow-it-yourself pot that looks do-able for me, so I might start with that.
It’s that time of the year when I share everything I’m leaving behind in 2019, so goodbye to:
1. Unnecessary food waste is something I’ve found myself guilty of and I want to change that. In October and November I found the right routine and shopping list for me, but in December it all got messed up. I now know that I need to take those two hours out of my Sunday and use it to prep for the week to avoid having to throw things out.
2. Travelling like it’s a sprint is something I’ve done a lot, even when it comes to a day trip I still try to cram in as much as possible. No matter how much I hate the word slow travel, I think it’s something I need to incorporate more for the coming years.
3. The hope of finding the right skincare routine is going down the drain for me. Over the years I’ve tried everything, but it ended up with messing up my skin even more. So I’m going to keep it water and light face cream and embrace wrinkles.
4. I got sooooo mad at the current biased news coverage and the weird Simpsons cuts one of the channels have been doing that I don’t want access to live TV anymore. I’m sticking to Netflix, Prime and The Simpsons season 1-7 on DVD.
5. I also can’t allow myself to put all my eggs in one basket. Every too good to be true thing coming my way should be second guessed and questioned to avoid disappointment. That should actually be my number one rule for the next decade.
6. At the start of the Superhero movies rise I was all for it and the road to Avengers: Endgame! The Boys was also great. But after a so so Spiderman and the worst X-Men to date I am kind of done with the genre.
7. Small annoyances I can’t do anything about. Think: people who don’t put their phones on silent in public transport, slow people walking in front of me, someone taking forever to pack food shopping…It’s never going to change, so I might as well change how it affects me.
8. Those only-wear-in-the-house T-shirt that has been slowly falling apart but is still kind of wearable. It’s been upgraded to cleaning rag. And all the barely worn bras I’ve now recycled via the Against Breast Cancer scheme. My drawers finally have some breathing space.
9. Letting people’s world views affect me. I’m someone who believes people should research things before sharing their world views and shouldn’t just copy their thoughts based on a Tweet or something they heard someone say. That’s another thing that will never stop and I need to accept that and not let it keep me awake at night.
While I’ve been sharing a lot of the things I’ve seen & done in London this year, I also took quite a few varied trips to the mainland. Here are the places I hit up and some of the lessons I learned on the way.
My first trip was to Basque Country via Paris by train – you know…in name of being more green and sustainable. It was supposed to be an 8 hours train trip, with two hours spare to change stations in Paris, stretch my legs and have a croissant in the park. What could go wrong?
London to Gare Du Nord went ok, I even thought I was smart by buying a metro tickets in advance ace on the Eurostar. For some reason I had to swap the tickets for real ones, so I had to queue and go through the hassle anyway and lost about 15 minutes to start with.
I found my croissant and the green space I mistook for a park via Google maps turned out to be a cemetery, but a pretty one so it was worth the walk. On my way to the station I even spotted some impressive street art in what was else a very forgotten part of Paris.
Then at the station there was a lot of confusion and it took me forever to find someone who spoke English and explain what was going on. Turned out the trains to Bordeaux and further south were messed up due to an electrical failure and everyone had to go to another station on the other side of Paris to get a train from there. I managed to get on the over packed train (and when I mean packed I mean people squashed into every single bit of the train, even the stairs!) and had to stand for 3 hours until everyone got off at Bordeaux. I arrived 3 hours later than planned at my hotel in Hendaye and had the warmest welcome at Hotel Santiago before I dove in my bed.
Lesson learned – don’t plan Paris, Paris will plan you.
The next morning I got the train to San Sebastian, bought a bus ticket to Bilbao and fuelled up on some coffee at Sakona. Then went in for a walk around town and wanted to walk up Mount Urgull. Sadly the entrance was closed, so I couldn’t go up and enjoy the views I’d quite a bit about.
When I booked a luxury bus I thought it meant I had a confirmed seat, because what else could I get for €10 extra? Well … a huge leather stand-alone seat, a video screen with a selection of Friends episodes, and a stewardess handing out wet towels before handing out snacks.
Lesson learned – don’t be afraid to splurge on a luxury bus.
When I arrived the weather looked nice, so I decided to walked from the bus station to my hotel, but five minutes in it started pouring and I must have looked really sad because the lovely folks at Hotel Vincci gave me a riverside upgrade so that was exciting. The downside at staying at hotels is that you can’t really make friends in the common room and then head for food. So I had to brave the Pinxton (Basque’s take on tapas) bar alone, though on the plus side … I didn’t have to share any of the bites.
The next day I spend almost all morning and half of the afternoon in the Guggenheim and enjoyed the pieces. Aside from Puppy and the building itself, my favourite thing was getting lost in the The Matter of Time artworks. In London I feel like I only go in and pay attention to half of the exhibits, because I can come back whenever and look at it again. But when I have to pay … I make sure to get the most out of it and that includes an audio tour and taking the time to properly look at all paintings and artworks. I also went to the Saturday market to stock up on Basque cheese, hazelnuts and ground almond Basque cake to take home.
My train trip back started fine, but then it got delayed which again was stressful cause I wasn’t sure if I would make the connection. I eventually did and I think I cried from relief for half of the journey. I realise it all sounds very dramatic, but I would definitely opt for a longer train journey again for future trips.
Lesson learned – Basque cake and cheese make good presents for back home.
Then it was off to a team trip to Barcelona for my second visit to the city of Gaudi, Camp Nau and Las Ramblas. I wrote a post about some of the delicious food I had there. Besides eating there was also a stroll from Gracia to the Beach, a night of dancing and a very slow walk through and to the top of Parc Guell. I definitely want to go back a third time as I haven’t been inside the La Sagrada Família or seen the other breathtakingly gorgeous Gaudi buildings from the inside.
Lesson learned – It’s good to give some places a second chance.
I also got to revisit Vienna again. Sadly, it was just for 30 hours, but I still managed to fill it with working from a vintage shop/cafe, eating Bosnian food, a walk in Augarten and catching up with my cousin. Oh and giving a presentation for 30 people…inside Schönbrunn Palace.
Lesson learned – the best Bosnian food outside Bosnia/my mother’s kitchen is definitely in Vienna.
What has been your favourite 2019 destination so far?
In the previous edition of ‘The Posts That Never Were‘ I covered blog posts ideas that never reached by keyboard. Today I’m covering some of the drafts I came across during my last attempt to clean out the behind the scenes mess. Maybe some self shaming and naming will inspire me to actually finish and publish them or delete them forever!
Budget For Georgia – I loooove reading budget breakdown posts and money diaries and wanted to do one for my Georgia trip, because I wanted to see how cheap it really was and I have a great formula for it. I kept it for day one and two and then just didn’t add anything. Sadly most costs were spent in cash so unless I can time travel I don’t think I’ll be able to remember everything.
An Afternoon in Bratislava – I had planned this whole day as I only had 9 hours. In the end it was just seven hours and included a city tour, food, a stroll and drink which I definitely can get a post out of. The Polaroids I shot there are the highlights though, so maybe they can save the day, or post.
Mexico Memories – How my friends and I left our hotel at 10 PM for a stroll and got back at 6 AM after a night full of dancing, interrogation by the very kind police on the beach and 3 AM search for beer. Most of them are just ‘you had to be there moments’, so I’m trying to make something more shareable out of it.
Barcelona Packing List – In addition to money/budget posts I love packing lists, specifically reading and writing them. But my trip to Barcelona was just 2.5 days … is it even worth it to highlight the skirt, 2 shirts, 1 t-shirt and jeans that I took with me? Don’t think so.
Living In London Musings – is an ongoing project and while it made sense to start off with, it has now a list with very random notes that I have been typed in a hurry and don’t always make sense any more. What does “stairs at Brixton station” even mean, Tea??
Museum Musings – The project I did last winter and spring to keep me from staying inside all weekend every weekend was to revisit museums and rank them. I managed to visit quite a few and the photos and random notes for Tate Modern, Dulwich Picture Gallery and Childhood Museum ready. It just needs to tidied up.
Ways To Can Reduce Waste When Travelling – this is another ongoing project because I obviously want to try them out before writing about it. It would be easy for me to say that one should get a reusable bag for hand luggage toiletries, but twice already I had to transfer my toiletries from my transparent reusable bag (that fits the measurements) to one of the plastic ones at the airport because staff wasn’t sure. Those bags are being reused until they literally break apart.
Do you have any posts that never saw the light of day?
Planning an adrenaline trip with your partner? Thinking about trekking in an Asian jungle, or a boat down the Amazon? Sounds good, but you don’t have to head abroad for an adventure! With plenty of exciting experiences available and an ever-increasing range of options for couples to take advantage of, there’s never been a better time for a UK staycation.
Surf the Sunny Southwest, Cornwall
What better way to embrace a couples adventure than learning to surf together in the beautiful southwest? Fistral Beach in Newquay is amongst the very best, combining awesome surf with a laidback beach vibe and great food options for a post-surf pick-me-up. To really turn this trip into an adventure, try driving down through Devon and Cornwall and stopping off in southern surf towns including Padstow, Newquay and Falmouth.
Cycle the Cairngorms, Scottish Highlands
Scotland attracts over 3 million visitors every year, with many coming to see the beautiful Cairngorms national park. It is home to whisky distilleries, ruined old castles and Aviemore Ski resort. The entire 300 square kilometres is littered with cycling trails for all ages and abilities, including peaceful roadside trails such as the 90 mile Snow Roads Scenic Route and the more aggressive mountain biking found around Glenlivet or Tarland. Pit stop by Loch Insh for some added outdoor activities and be sure to pack wisely, as the weather in the Highlands can change abruptly!
Hike Scafell Peak in the Lake District
The Lake District is deservedly one of the United Kingdom’s most beloved national parks, boasting crystal lakes and charming villages. It’s a prime spot for adrenaline junkies. The birthplace of the original mountain marathon, a hike up Scafell peak is perfect for couples looking for a rewarding adventure, with the opportunity to enjoy incredible views whilst doing so. Oh, and you’ll be able to tell everyone you summited England’s highest peak together!
Swim with seals in Lundy Island
Ok, so calling this rocky retreat the ‘UK Galapagos’ may be stretching it a bit, but Lundy Island is a veritable paradise just off of the Devon coast. Teeming with wildlife, explorers will find cute grey sea seals willing to play with curious humans. Grab a snorkel and mask (and put your wetsuit on!) before taking a dip in the chilly waters together and enjoy an adventure most wouldn’t have thought possible just off of our own shores!
Canoe in Strangford Lough, County Down
Just an hour away from Belfast lies the Strangford Lough, a great expanse of water that completely dominates eastern County Down. The best way to explore is, of course, in the water. Pick up a 2-person canoe or – if you’re feeling competitive – a couple of kayaks and head out into the Lough for some close encounters with basking sharks and seals. Covering around 150 square kilometres, the craggy scenery surrounding the Lough was good enough forGame of Thrones to be shot around here, so we don’t doubt you’ll enjoy paddling about and taking it all in!
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