Monthly Archives: August 2015


Eltham Palace: Art Deco Adventure

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Yesterday I hopped on the train to Eltham and instead of being taken through a painful commute to my place of office (as is my usual trip on a train!), I was transported back to what must have been the closest thing to the British version of the Great Gatsby, with a touch of A Knight’s Tale, at Eltham Palace & Gardens.

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Way way back in the 14th century the Palace was the place to be if you weren’t a starving, smelly and poor peasant, and if you could get past its moat and drawbridge you’d find an impressive royal residence, even with its own jousting courtyard. Sadly the English Civil War put a stop to all the fun (yep, England had a civil war – who knew!?) and it fell into disrepair and ruins until it was kinda saved via a 1930s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – but instead of Ty Pennington it was all looked over by the new owners Stephen and Virginia Courtauld who put a definite Art Deco spin on their new digs. The couple were the ‘talk of the town’ at the time, the celebs you wanted to get to know, and if you were lucky enough be invited to one of their famed extravagant parties. Though it opened to the public in 1999, the most complete renovation was finished in April this year, allowing you to pretty much explore every room in the palace.

Before I spill all, I just wanted to say how nice the staff all were – I arrived a bit early so was a bit lost at one of the wrong entrance gates when a member of the staff came through unlocked the entrance and took me through to the right entrance and who showed me where to buy my tickets (all before it was officially meant to open).

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When you enter the palace proper you’re handed your own invitation – giving you a ‘persona’ or character to experience the trip through – so you can be that famous actress, or fighter pilot attending one of their famed parties – each character with their own personalised interactive guide. Every tour has been offering up ‘digital guides’ for ages now – but the iPhone/iPad + headphones kit with the many different perspectives to try from the various characters at the palace which was a bit more enjoyable. The main entrance hall is something else, just beautiful to look at and I don’t usually get too excited by architecture, and beyond that there’s a surprising amount to see, and all the rooms have books, diaries and personal touches to feel like you’re looking at a living, breathing house, rather than a stuffy, cold exhibit.

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If you’ve had a bit too much Art Deco for one day – the Great Hall with the hammer-beam roof (English Gothic architecture fans will know) is the one of the highlights and a Medieval gem where you can imagine a roaring 100 course feast, hopefully where you’re the king, queen, lord or lady, not that poor servant who has to sleep on the stone floor, live off scraps from the meals and bow or curtsy a ridiculous amount of times a day.

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One of the most adorable things I stumbled upon was the dark room on the basement. While not the most photogenic of rooms (pretty grimy and dark – duh) it was here that the couple developed their travels on film – Ginnie was the video grapher and Stephen was the photographer. A full multi media package that any tourism board would be happy to invite on a press trip.

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When planning a holiday we get wrapped up in using Google, other blogs, travel magazines and maybe travel guides, but these guys had it all sorted with their own walk in map room where they planned their winter travels to exotic places like Machu Picchu. I love the idea of being able to sit on a sofa, stare up at the walls and let my imagination run wild … Picturing my little plane (Indiana Jones style) transporting me to undiscovered adventures. It’s still under renovation, so there is the excuse to go back once they’ve finished it. 

Who else wants a map room?


4 Things-to-do in London This September

Heading to London next month? Your to do list is probably already pretty long with planned trips to Primark, the M&M Store and the Eye but here are four less obvious but just as exciting things happening in September that you might want to consider …

More London Free Festival: Film – Thursday September 3 – Saturday September 26
Always dreamed of an open air film screening with the view of Tower Bridge all lit up looking gorgeous and the only dick in the crowd being the Glass Testicle (City Hall) overlooking you? The Scoop at South Bank can make that happen with their FREE screenings throughout the month. Film lovers will be besotted with everything from Oscar yawn-fests like The Imitation Game to quote-tastic yarns like Ghostbusters and the (unofficial) sing a long epic that is Frozen.

Open House – Saturday September 19 – Sunday September 20
Good news for those with a healthy curiosity about London’s buildings, or those who want to grab an exclusive photo that no one else has: Open House will be unlocking doors across the city on 19 and 20 September. Over 700 of London’s architectural sweet spots, including 10 Downing St, Bank of England and a 1940’s bomb-proof bunker at Neasden, will be open for free to sneak inside and explore. Sadly the Bank of England doesn’t give out free gold bars. Be wary though – some locations have an online ballot you have to enter to be able to visit, so make sure to plan ahead.


Apple Music Festival – Saturday 19 September – Monday 28 September
Not to be confused with London FruitFest the Apple Music Festival – formerly known as iTunes Festival – has 10 gigs lined up at the Roundhouse in Camden. And don’t worry if you are not a camping fan: it’s not really a festival, it’s 10 shows in a venue with a roof so you can crawl back to your bed after the show and stay dry in the marvellous weather. So far that ginger haired siren Florence, the how-long-til-they-split-up boy wonders of One Direction, and two dudes with a hat – James Bay and the skater/fashion designer/singer/actor/painter/artist/rapper/model/does-everything-better-than-you Pharrell have been announced. Tickets to the Apple Music Festival are free, but the catch is that you’ll have to win them by entering ballots on iTunes – check here how you can enter. I heard you might have to sacrifice a small cat outside the Apple Store for the best chances.

London Fashion Week – Friday 18 September – Tuesday 22 September
I’m sure the models all cried and lost several kgs in tears when they heard they’d been moved from the glamorous surrounds of Somerset House to a dingy Soho Car Park, but the show must go on! You have one month to get a phone with long lasting battery, your Instagram game plan and to put together your best outfits to strut your stuff for London Fashion Week SS16.


The One Where Tea Reminisces About Melbourne

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You might not be aware, but that red magazine you see on airport newsagents stands, the Economist, publishes an annual most liveable cities list each August. So why should you care? Well, because of the reigning champ for the last five years, the city of Melbourne.

Thankfully, I don’t remember the weeks I starved on rice, the days public transport made me die inside and the moment my travelbuddy ditched me, but there were a ton of things that made me smile …


First of all, let’s NEVER forget that the city was the backdrop for the Marvel Masterpiece (compared to Fantastic Four ;)) that combined Nick Cage, Sam Elliott and a flaming skull motorcycle rider, what more could you want?

Getting stuck in a crowd at a live music show for a band who’s name I can’t remember and who never made it (RIP Toucan I’ll always love you!) where the main goal on everyone’s mind is to have a good time, or for a more quiet experience the ton of films I was glued to at the Astor Theatre.

When I’d get invited (sometimes not online!!) to a picnic that a friend of a friend organised. It’s something I miss – of course there’s red-tinted glasses, but there was never a pressure to befriend anyone, the focus was on finding out about people, sharing opinions on things on things we loved. Maybe I can set up

I thought only trolls lived under bridges, but Melbourne has something way better – Ponyfish Island, and after work snacks and drinks in the sun fills me with joy just thinking about it.

Food markets, no not the cool ones with butter fried chicken, vegan cakes and ‘the best burger according to a moustached chef’, but the actual ones that stock food like vegetables and meat – Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market was the best.

In Brunswick I got my hipster on, and pretended to be unique and be able to afford stuff in one of the many boutiques and vintage stores. I felt so unique, just like the rest of Melbourne, or the world, probably.

Those occasions I got dragged to new gallery openings even if I didn’t know anyone, just to soak up the energy, get free drinks and see what was new – I’ll let you decide which of those three things was most important 😉

I only lived in Melbourne for six months, it took me a while to feel it out, but once I did it never left me (like herpes right!?), and I still love the city with a sentiment words can’t explain.

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Cup Of Tea

Tea Time

Oh hi! So, the first Tea Time post seemed to go down rather well, so I thought I’d follow up with another on my fab life and wild adventures *ahem.*

The recently opened Central Picturehouse is gorgeous and a great addition to the shit bit of London around the Trocadero in Piccadilly where there are two of the worst crappy London merchandise tourist shops ever (if you admit to going in one I’m not sure we can be friends…). Anyway, the cinema interior is very classy looking and the popcorn tip top. Not a budget friendly cinema as tickets in the weekends cost £18.

I’m not even a huge fan of matcha, but the French Toast with matcha ice cream at Shackfuyu is so good it will make you weep with joy. I still cry occasionally just remembering it, and writing this post has flooded my keyboard with tears.

So, I killed a cactus. Good thing they are soooo spring 2015. RIP. I will bury you I promise, so you don’t come back to haunt me with ghostly spines!

Me and a group of bloggers were invited by the English Heritage to check out three locations on Hadrian’s Wall. Me and Hadrian go way way back and it was great to see a few of his hang outs, these Instax sneek peaks are from Chesters. And best of all, I can cross one thing off my UK Wanderlist.

Another stop was the Boiler Shop Steamer. Nope, it’s not a sauna or a giant steam bath, but a hip food warehouse-based food market where you can eat, dance, look at art and generally enjoy yourself til late.

We stayed at the Sleeperz Hotel in Newcastle. The place has fast WiFi and a decent shower, but I wasn’t a big fan of the rock hard mattress, I may or may not be still working out some kinks in my back!

The Housesteads site was my favourite and not only because it reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones. Sadly there were no hot Snows, Starks or Lannisters to be seen, but this soldier’s story on his day in the life was compelling and helped build a world in my head which I swear didn’t have a TV show theme tune.

Then there was The Cookhouse, where we had a delicous meal. How Pinterestworthy is this place? You’ll read about the above soon.

I binge-watched Wet Hot American Summer: the First Day of Camp and it did not disappoint. How often can you watch a show where Archer is a can of vegetables and Jon Hamm is a secret agent…Well there wasn’t enough Hamm on the menu, and far too many terrible 80s haircuts but you know, no one’s perfect…Now what do I do the coming 15 years?

Floor of the week.

Coming home starving and having one of your favourite foods ready for you is the dream!

How has August been treating you so far?


As Seen In Bosnia – Superstition Edition

bosniaIn my I Never Missed My Home Town Until I Stayed Away Too Long post I mentioned that a lot of Bosnians are super superstitious. What most people would call superstitions many Bosnians (not all of course) see as a fact and today I want to talk about a few of them because, yes it makes us look crazy but they are a big part of understanding the culture.

Cutting nails after dark is a big no no because that attract evil ghosts. And don’t ‘whistle while you work’ in the evening too, as this will mean you’ll need to call the Ghostbusters too. You don’t want to know how many nights I cried in my bed because my cousin whistled after dark and I thought the ghosts would kidnap me and drag me to the cemetery.

In Bosnia you can’t walk over someone’s legs (if they’re laying down or sitting), because apparently then they won’t grow anymore. My cousin came up with a way to turn it around and save ourselves: you had to walk backwards, cross you fingers, run outside and spit six times to avoid having kid size legs for life. We were pretty OCD that one summer.

As a kid you were told that if you leave your clothes inside out after they’re washed you will go mad. It’s just mamma’s little trick to scare you and get things done, but ever since I can’t bring myself to leave clothes inside out.


Whenever someone mentioned Baba Roga I would hide under the stairs. She is a scary old witch that steals children. She is very popular in Bosnia (and other Slavic countries where her name is similar) and your parents will subtly mention her in a conversation to scare you when you don’t listen. She’s thought to have inspired the witch who has those classy gingerbread digs in Hansel & Gretel.

 If you hiccup it means that someone is gossiping about you, probably a cousin who is jealous you copied her new haircut, jeans or blog post.

Soaking your socks in rakija (fruit brandy) and wearing them overnight when you have a fever will cure it … and I have to say that it helps me every time. Rakija is also the cure for sore throat, toothache, headache and any other first world problem. I haven’t tried it for FOMO, blog fatigue or writer’s block yet though.

You’re not allowed to go outside if your hair is wet because you will get upalu mozga (literate translation is: inflammation of the brain) and probably die. But no one really knows what this inflammation of the brain really is. As a kid I thought it meant your brain would suddenly catch a million flames and melt.

An itchy nose means you are about to get angry. I notice this a lot because it’s damn annoying. And an itchy right palm means you are about to get money while an itchy left palm, means you are about to spend money. Sadly my right palm never needs a scratch!

Sitting on a doorstep brings poverty or ghosts (them again). Seriously, don’t mess with this and get yourself jinxed. I always wonder why those ‘Most Haunted’ reality shows were never popular here, but I guess people have the real thing…

Don’t be too surprised when someone calls a newborn baby an ugly cutie pie in Bosnia, it’s pretty common to call a baby ugly because it is believe that if you say the baby is sweet or beautiful it will be cursed. And it avoids a lot of awkward situations.

I don’t know about you guys, but as a kid I often tried to count the stars because I couldn’t believe how many there were. But was always shushed and told I would die if I counted my own star. The story is that when a baby is born, a star appears in the sky and that star is your star and will shine all your life. And whenever you see falling stars it means that the one who had that star has died or will die. The reason you can’t count stars is because if you stumbled upon it you are going to die. I’m not sure it counts for those glow in the dark stars I’ve stuck on the ceiling in the past.

Do you have any superstitions from your cultures to share?