Monthly Archives: January 2018

London - travel

20 Photos That Might Make You Want To Visit The Next Lumiere London

It’s no Glow Eindhoven or Vivid Sydney, but Lumiere London is a pretty good reason to brave a cold, damp January evening. For four days, international artists get free reign to light up London with over 50 installations.

What they don’t mention in the press release is:
2 rude Dutch people
3 crying mums
10 kids on scooters
12 places trying to seduce you with hot chocolate
20 sites where you’re not sure if it’s part of the festival or just accidental Lumiere.

Despite this, there’s more than a few bright lights to dazzle you. Mine were:

Child Hood @ Trafalager Square – all my Hertz go to this one

Harmonic Portal @ 197 Piccadilly –  loved these watts and wats

The Wave @ the South Bank –  lightened up my mood

Entre les rangs @ King’s Cross – was truly delightful to walk around

OSC-L & Sixty Minute Spectrum @ South Bank – leave you in the dark

You might want to dim your expectations when you come across these ones:

Waterlicht @ King’s Cross

Be Faithful To Your Dreams @ 197 Piccadilly

Guardian Angels @ King’s Cross

Friction @ 103/113 Regent Street

Lampounette @ King’s Cross

UFO @ King’s Cross


Digital Detox on the Go: Expectation VS Reality

Slow travel and digital detox! These buzzwords are going to be everywhere in 2018 so before you get bored of them here’s my Expectations vs Reality on travelling digiless.
When I planned my trip the plan was to do a little hike here, see a museum/castle there but mainly enjoy a few days off.. As Innsbruck looked compact, going digiless seemed perfect.

Expectation: I don’t use guidebooks too much, I prefer to research online and put together my own itinerary. But part of the magic was supposed to be to go around with a map and an old fashioned guidebook.

Reality: I was hit by this one quite early as it turns out there isn’t an Innsbruck guide. The best on offer was a regional guide so that idea went out the window. I ended up using a map and booklets from the tourist office and a charming folder my Airbnb host had prepared.

Expectation: Get a paper map and follow it travel nirvana.

Reality: The airport bus took 15 minutes to the centre, with the Airbnb a few minutes from there, meaning my first travel test felt a bit of a cheat.

Still it CAN go wrong and one CAN walk past the ski lift entrance. In my defence, my digiless experiment in asking a kind local for directions was a terrible mistake.  Getting lost was actually ok as I got to talk practice my German and talk to people but it did almost cost me my relationship.

Hiking trails are beautiful, relaxing and some of my favourite places. BUT the sign posts are open to interpretation, which may have resulted in going down the wrong side of a mountain.

Expectation: Getting my Warhol on and snapping some magical Polaroids while on the go.

Reality: Well that magic was lost soon when it proved too cloudy atop the mountain and you actually can’t get the gorgeous landscape in frame. Thank God I was with a sane person who did bring a DIGITAL camera.

Expectation: Just go with the flow and see where you end up foodwise, why not ask a random person what their favourite place is or go where the locals seem to hang out.

Reality: I soon learned that you often need to book a table, I always forget that outside London this is essential, especially on Friday night. But I also learned that the most touristy spot in town that I would usually avoid actually had the best kaesespaetzle that has ever melted on my tongue.

Expectation: Who needs planning and getting travel tickets booked ahead of time? Why not spontaneously head down to the station and see what the lovely ticket office staff have to offer?

Reality: So many reasons why not! But guys … you can’t blame me for wanting to do Before Midnight and get on a train to anywhere but without booking it online weeks ahead I could barely afford 3 stops. Wait for me Ethan!

Expectation: Have a old fashioned notebook with scribbles of my adventures (and of course the perfect spot for accompanying Polaroids)

Reality: This is actually a great one … until I remembered I am missing the creative gene. And now I’m left with a notebook that’s 3/4 empty filed with handwriting that turns indecipherable after 3 sentences.

Conclusion: It isn’t that hard, it’s just a switch that needs turning off.
I’m not on Instagram or Twitter too much, so going digiless isn’t a giant step but I love the idea of doing it as much as possible, even if it doesn’t always work out as expected. However, I will say, there’s something about walking around London using memory, logic and landmarks to find my way. It’s somehow less draining (on my brain and phone battery) than following whatever Google maps has to say, so give it a try!
Where do you think going digiless would work.


ABBA: Super Troupers @ Southbank … ABBA-Go or ABBA-No?

ABBA are back! But sadly only in museum form, at the Southbank Centre – only moments away from ‘Waterloo’ Station!
So why not kickstart your 2018 with an immersive exhibition about the band, complete with narration by Jarvis Cocker?  An hour filled with the background stories that shaped the group with a close look at some of ABBA’s original costumes, music instruments and album artworks.
Tickets are randomly priced between £15 and £25 – and lucky for me mine was £25. Without spoiling too much, is the exhibition worth your hard earned ‘Money Money Money’?
Yes, ABBA-solutely worth it if you
  • can’t resist guided quirky and interactivish exhibitions
  • always have wanted to sing Dancing Queen at the infamous Polar studio (or a replica in this case)
  •  aren’t planning to visit the ABBA Museum in Stockholm
  • don’t mind have ABBA’s greatest hits stuck in your head for the rest of the day
No, don’t ‘take chance’ on it if 
  • you like to take your time to check every detail and not be rushed
  • you expect more background info than what you can find with a simple internet search
  • you don’t like small and possibly cramped spaces
  • the 1970’s make you scream ‘S.O.S.’

So was it worth the £25? As you know, value for money is the ‘Name of the Game’ for Tea so ‘When all is Said and Done’ it would have been great if it was £20 as it’s actually ridiculous when you consider the tour only takes an hour. Then again it is 2018 and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ we paid a fiver for a bowl of cornflakes and tenner for a hip burger.
Are you in the mood for a dance?
Abba: Super Troupers is at the Southbank Centre, London SE1, until 29 April 2018


Money Pitfalls: How To Avoid Wasting Cash On Holiday

Chances are your relationship with your bank account is feeling a little strained at the moment. There was the expensive December month and you might have booked a flight or two when you panicked during your first week back in the office. Now you’ve got a few months to go and save up, but have you considered the money you might waste while on holiday? Here are some tips to avoid financial heartache I made so you don’t have to. You are welcome.

  • Not packing strategically can cost you quite a bit of money. Not only in terms of exceeding the weight allowance…but how many times have you forgotten your toothbrush? Not to mention all the  full size products you by accidently packed and had to hand in and repurchase again. So make sure that you write down a packing list and double check.
  • Saving yourself £30 and flying with a budget airline to a smaller airport can feel like you just entered the wonder world of Extreme Couponing, but then you find out it takes 2 hours and £50 to get to the city from that small airport. So always compare how much it will cost you to get to from main as well as the regional airport to your destination. It might be dull, but worth it in the end.
  • Spontaneous decisions can end up fun, but could also end up costing you a lot, so you might want to look into planning your activities ahead of the trip. The train tickets for that day trip you planned might end up being the same amount for as it would have cost you to fly to your holiday destination.
  • Money exchange costs, especially at airports are a massive money trap and you should never ever change currency at an airport. Check online for the best deals in your country or use your card to withdraw cash when you arrive.
  • But before you do that do check how much your bank charges you for paying/withdrawing abroad .The first time I went abroad with my UK card I found out I paid over £30 for card charges! With that money I could have bought a one way ticket to Paris.
  • Not reading the fine print. So forgetting to check in or finding out your suitcase is literally 2 mm too big for the budget airline and you end up paying an additional £60. And you know what? You are the only to blame so next time listen to your mom when she asks you if the suitcase isn’t too big, they have a special extra sense for this.
  • Not making use of your hostel/Ar BnB kitchen can cost you a lot. Ok, true … in some countries it can actually be cheaper to go out, but your first stop should the supermarket. There you can explore and stock up on goods you can’t find at home. It doesn’t have to be a 4 course meal, but get your baguette and cheese for breakfast and invest what you save in an extra drink that evening – or invest it in something more useful.
  • It’s fun when you mix up the exchange rate and everything is CHEAPER than you thought, but it’s not too great when it happens the other way round. I remember in Latvia everything seemed super super cheap until I realised I mixed the exchange rate up and in the 48 hours I spend there costed way more than it should have been. It’s 2018 and there are apps for this so no more excuses.

    How much have you wasted during your last holiday?


Visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum: Then vs Now

I must admit my first encounter with the Victoria & Albert Museum was far from perfect. My original impression 8/9 years ago was something in the lines of …

1. The name?! This was before the Young Victoria and for someone who didn’t know much about the monarchy it just sounded like  a place dedicated to people named Vicky and Al? Stuff should say what it does.. like…umm..the Horniman Museum (insert cheeky monkey emoji here)

2. It’s neighbours are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum – it’s guess it’s like the unloved and under-shadowed sibling that’s kept in the attic.

3. When I visited one of the main collections I got lost and ended up in the ‘Fences’ section – yep, old bits of metal from across the ages – not even a white picket option was there – though they did have some gates … sadly they didn’t lead to the escape exit !

4. Speaking of exits I quickly escaped to its gardens – which are pretty chilled, not on weekends though.

5. Fences!!! I really can’t stop thinking about them – a major museum in one of the major world cities and it’s got fences. Apologies to the fence lovers out there – maybe you can educate me one day.

I recently returned to give it another shot – people deserve a second chance so why shouldn’t museums – and though it’s a bit of a confused mess of stuff – I went away not too unhappy.

1. The fences were gone – hooray – maybe they are now happily in the National Fence Museum.

2. My highlights were some fun renaissance artefacts and a few rooms set up to show how people, well rich/famous people, lived. The medieval stuff was good but sadly as you go back it’s heavily religious focused – as those priests were good at storing their expensive stuff – the peasants were all ‘minimalist living’ and recycled everything obviously. The other exhibits (Asian art, materials, etc) were well documented but again – a tad stuffy – despite the “fun facts and questions “ they included on some descriptions.

3. It’s still a bit of a maze – even with a clear map the individual collections are split across several floors – not very helpful, unless you’re up for a bit of orienteering – then this might be for you! And what’s with the super dim lights?

4. There’s a few places to try on clothes/armour/accessories – but they feel a bit unloved and out of place as it has a bit of a stuffy vibe and great aunt’s closet smell.

5. Lastly I must tip my hat to the place for getting me so excited to see some Dutch places represented among many UK/French/German – so much so I kinda shouted “I’ve been there!!” much to the surprise of the staff. And also – so much love for all the exhibits and mentions on me – well on Tea! It’s truly a timeless wonder and elixer of life.

PS. Here’s a photo of a painting of a dog stealing a slipper and it may well be the best thing ever.