Phuket Old Town Adventures

karon-beach-road I am not the type of girl who likes to sit still and being on holiday is no exception to this. From the moment the holiday is booked I am researching places to go and things to see, if I do go to the beach it is usually to swim and snorkel. I just can’t sit out sunbathing all day when I am surrounded by so many interesting places and things to do.

I had read about Phuket Old Town on another blog, written by a guy called Jamie Monk- he lives in Phuket so his blog is jammed pack with interesting and local things to do.

So after reading about Phuket Old town I was intrigued and itching to go, so we got up early, packed our rucksacks and headed to the Old Town. We of course caught a songthaew bus, having used it several times already to travel around the Karon area, we thought we had caught the hang of it, but we waited on the wrong side of the road. Oops. Oh well.

I loved riding on the songthaew as it was cheap (35 baht each way) and you were able to catch a glimpse of local life, although out of respect I didn’t steal any snaps. Just of ones of us.

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Arriving at Phuket Old Town we quickly got lost, so it is worth taking a map and checking the areas you want to visit.

During the 18th century, Phuket’s main industry was tin mining carried out by the Hokkien Chinese, who largely developed the Old Town part of the city. However during the early 20th century major European mining companies came to Phuket and major public infrastructure (roads, canals, buildings) was built. As a result the old town displays many Sino-Portuguese style buildings, particularly the shop-houses on Thalang road. It was this unique architecture that I was interested in seeing.

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The shop-houses were a place where families would live and run their business, using the front for trading and remainder for living. Many of  the old shop-houses still stand today including the old display cabinets which hold interesting old treasures.
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It was so interesting and colourful walking along Thalang road and its branching streets. I wanted to take hundreds of pictures. The below pictures were of Soi Rommani road, just off Thalang.

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Although due to the stifling heat, my photographer (aka Jun) wasn’t as willing to work behind or in front of the lense….

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Our early eagerness meant that we arrived at the Old Town at midday, during the blistering, hottest part of the day! So we quickly looked for a place to cool off and refresh.                             This building caught our eye… B Cat Cafe

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photo courtesy of phuket.com

As we approached we realised that it was a cat cafe, one side being a normal cafe and the other being a cat kingdom. I had read about these in Japan and recently London, where you can have a cup of tea or a slice of cake while petting some pretty cats. Jun is a huge cat lover (despite us owning the cutest dog, called Maple) so we had to check it out.

B Cat Cafe, had strict rules. We had to remove our shoes and put on slippers and sanitise our hands before entering the cat area. We also had to buy at least one slice of cake and a drink each. An enforced cake rule! count me in! I chose chocolate naturally.

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I messed up the cat face in my eagerness to eat!

This was the greediest and cutest cat at the cafe. It immediately zoned in on my cake (cats were not allowed to share your cake) and I had to eat on my lap to stop it from sharing.

greedy-cat There were also several rules regarding the cats well-being which included not waking them up, picking them up or pulling their tails, although I had not intended to do any of these, it was good that the cat’s well-being was in mind. They were pretty well looked after and seemed to have a great time relaxing in air-con bliss.

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Not feeling completely full, after only eating a slice of cake, we popped into a modern cafe on Thalang road called Eleven Two and Co and had some amazing dumplings.

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too busy eating to take lots of pictures

We then had a final wander around the Old Town, where I was able to find some souvenirs, before catching the songthaew back to Karon.

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There was definitely more to see in the Old Town but it was so hot, and the journey took an hour on the bus, so we headed back to the hotel to recharge.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about my adventures in Phuket, it is such a wondrous place and one day we might return to explore all the many islands.

Leave me a comment about your adventures, I’d love to hear about where you have travelled.

Thanks for reading xx

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Exploring Karon’s Night Markets, Phuket

Exploring Karon’s Night Markets, Phuket

Thailand is one of those amazing places where there is something to do for everyone.

From relaxing and chilling on a beach or being pampered at a luxurious spa to having a night of non stop partying in Patong or at the infamous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan (we did this in 2013 while staying in Koh Samui). Thailand also has many island excursions to Koh Phi Phi or Khao Phing Kan better known as James Bond island (where Tomorrow Never Dies was filmed), all accessible from Phuket.

However when we arrived in Karon we were really excited to explore the local area and visit the many beautiful beaches along the west coast of Phuket, that we didn’t have time to fit in any excursions. 

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We had also chosen Karon as a location because it was in an area with enough interesting things to do,  but was more laid back and away from the bustling wild parties of Patong beach. We did however visit Patong twice during our stay to mooch around the shopping mall called Jungceylon, because sometimes you just want to go shopping in paradise, but we gave the partying a miss this time.

Do your research on the area you are visiting, especially if you are only visiting one place in Thailand, to make sure you get the experience you are looking for. For us the Karon location was perfect because it was laid back and not as bustling as Patong.

Before visiting Karon I had read about the night markets of Thailand, and Karon was known to have its very own night market by the Buddhist Temple. The Temple market was very popular but quite modest in size, it sold food to go as well as having large stalls of fruit and vegetables aimed at the locals. 

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A couple of stalls did catch our eye, including the stall selling fried insects. Jun had been itching to try some and see what the fuss was about. I must admit the smell approaching the stall was not appetising at all and I would like to say I am not often put off from trying new foods, but fried crickets and worms were not top of my list.

However, when in Rome….

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The stall holder was very accommodating and requested a small donation be given to him, for the Temple in exchange for a photograph which we were happy to oblige. Jun picked the coconut worm (because it sounds like it would taste nice) and the fried crickets.

I agreed to try the worm but I just couldn’t bear the thought of the cricket’s little legs and what not in my mouth….As a source of protein, I can see the appeal, but taste wise it didn’t taste great, it was mostly oil and the worm was quite chewy. Jun told me the cricket lived up more to his expectation, being crunchy, I decided to take his word on that one.

Also doted around the local area of Karon were many fruit stalls and on a few occasions we stopped to grab some fresh coconut and mangos. In Thailand they have the best soft yellow mangos that are so sweet! 

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Following the Temple market in Karon we decided to try the Weekend Market in Phuket Old Town. I had been reading about this market as THE market to go to and was a large market that many locals visited. So come that Sunday we took a taxi (which took us about an hour from the Karon area and cost 600 baht each way) and explored the Weekend Market.

We arrived around 6pm as the market opens at 5pm and it was such a large vibrant place to be.

On entering the market area we were immediately enveloped by the smell of frying food and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Walking through the market there were rows of stalls selling interesting foods, fruits and vegetables alongside clothes, second hand shoes and more insect stalls. There were also lots of fresh curries, sushi and frying fish. 

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Jun managed to find his favourite treat – Takoyaki – fried battered octopus balls, and I found my favourite treat… DONUTS AND CAKES!!! In the blistering heat there were these amazing cream cakes and donuts! HEAVEN!

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This taro flavoured donut was amazing! I wish I had bought more!

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I was hoping to find some unique souvenir or some local art, but again it was mostly clothing and fake designer goods. I did see some leather belts being made and there were some handmade clothing items too. It was quite pricey to get there from Karon because of the distance but you could easily make a night of it gorging on all the delicious street food on offer. 

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The Weekend market is just outside Phuket Old Town and we had hoped to be able to walk there for dinner following the market. However after a chat with our taxi driver we were informed that the Old Town was too far to walk to. So we decided to save exploring the Old Town of Phuket for another day and caught a taxi back to Karon.

In my next blog post I will take you on our adventure to Phuket Old Town including an unexpected cute discovery! 

Thanks for reading.

xx

Exploring Thailand: Mandarava Resort and Spa and Phuket beaches

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In early March 2016, Jun and I took a well deserved break to Thailand and got away from the UK cold for roughly two weeks.

We had already visited Koh Samui in Thailand in 2013 and had mixed feelings about it (beautiful beaches but not a lot to do) but felt we wanted to give Thailand another go, and booked 8 nights in Karon, Phuket.

We took a private taxi transfer from the airport, which meant we went directly to the resort rather than stopping at every hotel in the area as you would on a coach, obviously this cost more but the comfort was worth it, as the journey took over an hour and the taxi had air con, which was appreciated as it was well into the 30s.

The resort

We arrived at the beautiful Mandarava Resort and Spa which was located a ten minute walk to Karon beach and boasted three pools, great views and beautiful rooms.

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We had booked a Horizon room, by mistake, which meant we were on the ground floor, whereas if you book a Panoramic room you will be a little higher up, however when we arrived at our room we were more than happy. Our room had high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows which wrapped around the room and a view over the tranquil pool. Our room included an en-suite bathroom with rain shower and also a separate bath room, which also had another shower. Great when you both want to shower off when it has got too hot outside.

The pools were well spaced out and included two secluded infinity pools and one large pool that stretched through the middle of the resort and included a swim up bar.

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The beaches

Karon beach was a ten minute walk from the resort, although this was quite a hilly walk, downhill if you were leaving the resort, and mostly on an unpaved road that was shared with quite large trucks and coaches. So you had to make sure you were paying attention when walking to the beach, unless you caught one of the resort’s four shuttle services. This didn’t bother us too much and we walked out to Karon most days and nights.

Karon beach itself is a long three mile stretch of beach, very beautiful and perfect for sunset watching before dinner. It was quite clean and had lots of activities such as parachute sailing, some water sports and sun umbrellas to rent – we just enjoyed having a swim and watching the sun set. It also had a healthy night life and plenty of places to eat in the streets surrounding.

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While we were there we also visited the other nearby beaches, which included Kata Beach, which had a more hip and chilled out vibe and was smaller that Karon. It had a few western bars and some upmarket shops such as Rip Curl as well as some smaller shops – it however didn’t have as many restaurants in the area as Karon did.

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Cocktails @Beach bar, Kata Beach

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Kata Beach

and also Kata Noi beach which was smaller still than Kata beach but worth the trek it took us to get there (one bus ride and a 20 minute up hill walk). Kata Noi was much less crowded and seemed more secluded, mostly thanks to the resort which wrapped around the beach. I snorkelled around the rocks here and saw an array of tropical fish just off from the beach.

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Kata Noi Beach

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Getting around

To get around the area we walked where we could, but it was high heat so this made it quite difficult at times.

We caught taxis when we needed to to certain areas, such as Patong and back to the resort at night. When taking a taxi you must agree on the price before you get in and take off otherwise you could be charged more, we also always requested a private taxi as this was usually air con and the same price as the tuk tuk taxi and safer. Taxi usually cost between 100 to 300 baht depending on destination.

However the best way we found to get around was by Songthaew, which is like the local bus and for the Karon area you could catch a Songthaew to either Kata beach or Phuket Old Town. This was the cheapest way to get around costing 35 baht (less than £1) and was recommended to me by my sister (who has a travel blog called The Runaways 2015). All you had to do was wait by the road and flag it down when you saw it. It was usually blue and had the destinations on the side.

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Come back tomorrow to see my next blog post on night markets, food and things we did.

Thanks for reading

xx

Lunch in the Clouds – Duck and Waffle Restaurant

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We may have moved into 2015, but I couldn’t leave 2014 behind without mentioning the amazing lunch me and the hubbie had at Duck and Waffle in early December.

I had been eager to go to Duck and Waffle for the whole of 2014 but due to the over whelming success and popularity of Duck and Waffle, coupled with our mis-organisation we never managed to secure a reservation. I had been practically drooling over the menu, restaurant reviews and pictures of the fantastic looking food, when Jun told me that he had booked the day off work to take me to lunch at Duck and Waffle (what a sweetie – major husband points for that!). It is an understatement to say that I was a little excited.

Duck and Waffle is located in the Heron tower in Liverpool Street, if you are scared of heights you might want to close your eyes for the glass elevator ride as you you whiz up 40 floors to reach the restaurant and spectacular views of London.

We were lucky to be seated next to the window in order to admire the sprawling views beneath us and quickly got to grips with the menu, although we already knew what we wanted.
We ordered from the all day menu as we were arrived at 3pm and kicked off lunch with the violet artichoke and parmesan focaccia, which was delicious and scoffed within minutes, washed down with a lovely glass of rose.

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the yummy violet artichoke and parmesan bread is just visible

As it was lunch (ish) time we were advised to choose three small dishes and finish with a large main course dish, which we shared.

We opted for the Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut, which I absolutely loved, the ox cheek was soft and spicy but not too hot and the doughnut was soft and chewy with a sweet paprika sugar, it came with an apricot jam which was both sweet and sour which complemented the spices wonderfully. I could have happily eaten this to myself.

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Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut with apricot jam

Ox cheek donut

Jun had had his eye on the Foie Gras Crème Brûlée with butter roasted lobster and toasted brioche, which was rich and creamy and very sweet when spread over the sweet brioche, Jun soon finished it this off, I think it was his favourite over the Ox Cheek.

Foie Gras Crème Brûlée – apologies for the blurry pic, I was too eager to eat it

We also chose the ‘east end eels’ which was smoked eel with horseradish and samphire, which was our favourite of the small dishes, Jun says it was his favourite dish of the meal! We should have ordered two! The eel was delicately smoked and perfectly complemented by the refreshing sharp jelly that accompanied the dish. I love fish and have eaten eel before but never had jellied eels, I imagine this is a de-constructed take on the old fashioned jellied eels, as the name suggests, I would definitely go back for this dish alone.

East End Eels

East End Eels

Of course we couldnt go to Duck and Waffle without trying the signature dish, a crispy duck leg confit over a fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside waffle, topped with a perfectly fried duck egg accompanied by a mustard maple syrup. Among all the amazing dishes we had for lunch this was my favourite, I have dreams about this dish.

The duck leg was salty and I loved breaking the rich dug egg over it and eating forkfuls of crispy ducky yolky goodness. I love combining sweet with savoury and this was the perfect balance with the mustard maple syrup.

Duck and Waffle with duck egg and mustard maple syrup

We would have loved to stay for dessert but we were already too full, so we took the lift back down to reality. Not before taking a few snaps in the lift of that amazing view. We had been lucky to see the sunset while we were there( something the husband likely planned on) and it was beautiful to watch London slip from day to night.

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I’ll definitely be popping back sometime in the near future as there were lots of dishes I wanted to try such as the bbq-spiced crispy pigs ears and the breakfast menu looks pretty special too.

Duck and Waffle does sit towards the top end of dining price wise but I think that the food is more than worth it, not to mention the spectacular views across London. Executive Head Chef Dan Doherty has done an amazing job and I don’t think there was a dish that we tried that we didn’t like, if you pop in be sure to go over and say hi (something I forgot to do – sorry Dan) – I’m sure he would love to hear what you think.

Waking Up in Vegas – Las Vegas Trip 2014

IMG_2120I recently celebrated my 30th birthday and did so in the wonderland that is Las Vegas! What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas as they say but I don’t mind sharing some highlights from our trip.
The hubbie and I jumped across the pond for some winter celebrations as it was also his birthday – so turned out to be a joint celebration (although he isn’t 30 yet!)

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The view from our room at the Bellagio

We were lucky enough to stay in the Bellagio Hotel, famous for the large fountain outside that hosts impressive water fountain displays every 15 minutes, we know this as we had a room overlooking the fountain and the famous Las Vegas Strip.
The hotel was beautiful, as can be expected from one of Vegas’s five-star establishments and seemed to go on forever. We entered via the casino and it took us a good few minutes to trek across the casino floor and find the lobby area, which was undergoing a transformation from the Thanksgiving decorations into a sparkly Christmas winter wonderland.

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The Bellagio does Christmas

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The Bellagio Winter Wonderland

Our room was lovely and we had been given an upgrade to a higher room so we really could see Vegas sprawl out beneath us and gave us a moment to take it all in. Not wanting to miss a moment we quickly refreshed, shook off the jet lag and set out on our adventure.

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Staying in Vegas is really is like staying in a huge adult playground with so much going on around you, you can’t be bored here!

The hotels themselves are quite fun to explore as you can pop into any hotel and explore the casino and amenities. The Bellagio is a classic institution,sitting like a palace behind a huge lake that hosts the Bellagio fountain and Caesar’s Palace sits next door equally as formidable and famous for starring in the Hangover movie.

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The Bellagio hotel

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Me outside Paris hotel

The Paris hotel opposite the Bellagio is pure Vegas novelty, featuring a mini Eiffel Tower, Arte De Triumph and a huge light up Hot Air Balloon, we had breakfast there one morning and even the food is French cuisine. I had blueberry waffles at Mon Ami Gabi which were lovely although the coffee was not so great….even after asking for a fresh one.

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New York New York Hotel

….and then you have hotel New York New York, shaped like the New York skyline and at the south end of the strip Excalibur hotel which is in the shape of a medieval castle… it really feels like you are Alice in wonderland.

The Venetian hotel even has a canal running through the shopping mall area called Canal Shoppes with gondolas with the gondoliers singing in Italian as they row passengers up and down, I was tempted but the cheese factor was a tad too much for me.

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….and that isn’t a clear blue sky you see above me, that’s the ceiling of the mall, all the shopping malls in Vegas had painted ceilings to replicate the sky and changed colour depending on the time of day, which just added to the jet lag fuelled day/night confusion.

We of course made a visit to down town Las Vegas, which is a must see and also includes all the famous wedding chapels on the way.

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Fremont street in down town Las Vegas is a short taxi strip from the main strip but is definitely worth a visit. It is where Vegas all started and has the most amazing neon lit casinos that ooze old-time glamour.

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We had an amazing time there although it seems like a distant memory now but the fun definitely does not stop, and we might have got up to a few unusual activities;

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We also were able to catch the Cirque du Soleil performance KA at the MGM Grand which was amazing and made an excellent end to the trip. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the performance but I did take a snap of the super-size cocktail slushy we bought to drink during the show.

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We had a unforgetable time in Vegas and I would love to go back again.

Here are some tips if you are going to Vegas for the first time;

Weather: when we first booked we thought – hey its the desert it will be hot hot hot! but it wasn’t. We went in early December and the weather was cool during the day but temperatures drop at night so you will need a jacket and some jumpers if travelling in winter.

Fashion: I was expecting 24/7 glitz and glamour but in reality people dressed in casual wear during the day. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t make and effort and it depends on where you are going.
The casinos are quite casual and you can wear what you like, girlies got very dressed up for the clubs in the evening so take some glitzy dresses if you plan to go partying and of course some restaurants have dress codes. We travelled in December so I mostly wore jeans or leggings with flat boots as we did a lot of sight-seeing and a nice top or glitzy jumper with my leather jacket. I dressed up more in the evening when we went out for dinner. I didn’t go swimming, although the Bellagio pool was heated there was hardly anyone in the pool as it was outdoors, I hear the pool party game starts in the summer.

Sightseeing: If you are interested in sight-seeing there is plenty to see, I’d recommend

  • Fremont street at night for old-time glamour feel but low price dining, also check the shark tank in the Golden Nugget casino
  • Stratosphere hotel, also located near down town Vegas, offers surround views of the city from the 1149 foot observation deck
  • Catch one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows that are hosted in the hotels around the strip, we saw KA at the MGM Grand
  • Go shopping in the Forum Shops attached to Caesar’s Palace – shops range from super high-end to high street affordable
  • Shoot some targets at one of the many gun ranges, the experience is mind-blowing not literally
  • Check out the novelty hotel offerings, the Venice canal at the Venetian, the erupting Volcano outside the Mirage, ride the roller-coaster at New York New York hotel

Most importantly enjoy yourself and take time to take in the wonder of Vegas, whether you are partying in a wild group or having a romantic week away. x

My puppy Maple – aka a girl’s best friend

Maple and Me

Hi, I’d like to introduce you all to a special friend of mine – my puppy Maple, who has been dominating my life for the last two months.

She joined our family at the end of June and has quickly won the hearts of family, friends, neighbours, the post man, strangers in the street….. the list goes on.

She is a shih tzu breed and is currently 4 months old, so she is fairly small as she also belongs to the toy variety of dogs and she is a rare gold colour with a black mask, as shihtzu’s typically tend to be white with brown. Despite her size she has got quite a demeanour and isn’t really scared of much, with the exception of baths and the hairdryer, and happily plays with dogs two to three times her size without batting an eyelid. Today for example she decided to take on a full grown rottweiler, who was thankfully a sweetheart and didn’t mind.

Her hobbies include staring into space on our balcony,

Maple balcony

Wearing her rain coat,

Accepting flowers,

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And running through long grass in the park.

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She has changed our lives for the better and I’m not sure what I’d do without her, even when she is being a cheeky madam.

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I’ve made this video to show a snipet of her day to day life to share with you so I hope you love her as much as we do, and I’d love to hear what you think – I’ll be sure to tell her because she loves the attention. x

My Summer Reads

Getting a good book for the summer is as popular as eating ice cream in the sizzling heat, especially if you are jetting off to the beach and are looking for something to wile away those hot beachy days (not jealous at all).

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My latest summer read is Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, and I read about this book on a blog or in a magazine and was told that  even though it was published in 1966 the thoughts and ideas the book represents are still quite relevant to modern culture.

The book tells the stories of three women, Anne, Neely and Jennifer who form a friendship throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s while working in the entertainment industry and share an addiction to prescription medication to distract them from their life problems. I have only just started to read the book myself and found it was quite easy to slip into the initial story of Anne a beautiful virginal girl from a well to do family in the country who moves to the city to make something of herself rather than stay in her home town of Lawrenceville and become a wife as her mother expects her to do.

So far I am finding the story quite interesting and it seems to have a strong feminist push towards women doing what they want to do and the fight against what the men in their life and what society expect them to do, especially as gender boundaries and stereotypes are such an issue of debate even 50 years after it was published.

the author Jacqueline Susann was a model herself in New York, having moved there at 18 from Philadelphia so it will be interesting to see where the story takes these characters and how this may relate to Susann’s own experiences. I will keep you posted.

Tigers_in_red_WeatherHBDThe second book I recommend is Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman. I read this book last year after picking it up in a book store as part of a book promotion and after having read the cover synopsis it seemed like an intriguing read.

The story centres around two women Nick and Helena, who are cousins from a wealthy family, who with their own families summer in Tiger house, situated in Martha’s Vineyard, in Cape Cod, each year with much glitz and glamour and cocktails aplenty.

The book is also post war and opens on the story of Nick as she struggles to cope with life while waiting for her husband to come home from the Navy. At first the book seems to be interested in the desperations of a lonely housewife but then the story changes and moves on to the point of view of her cousin Helena, Nick’s husband Hughes and their daughter Daisy and Helena’s son Ed. The story peaks when a grisly scene is discovered while the whole family is staying at Tiger house and how all the characters react to this.

I really liked the way the book was written from each individual character’s point of view, as you get a really strong sense of the voice of each character through Klaussman’s writing and who each of the characters really are, however you soon learn that each character may not be quite what they first appear and the whole story seamlessly stitches together.

The book is an excellent read full of twists and turns, deceit love and heartbreak and it definitely kept me entertained. Klaussman is also great at setting the scene of a hot sizzling summer, which we seem to be having at the moment in the UK, I read this during winter and it the imagery used within the novel really made me feel much warmer, if anything it will leave you pining for a cool cocktail and a swim in the ocean.

Let me know what your summer reads and recommendations are in the comments below, or I’d love to know if you have read either of the two books mentioned and if you liked them – except don’t ruin Valley of the Dolls for me because I’ve just started it.

Spring Succulents D.I.Y

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I am a little obsessed with succulent plants at the moment, it must be the spring air urging me to bring nature into my home. I just cant get enough of these juicy little plants and it seems everyone else is too, with succulent obsessed  boards popping up on pinterest.

So I set about making my own little succulent garden. I happened to be in Wilkinson when I spotted a whole shelf of succulents and got so excited that I might have had a few strange looks from security. I had to stop myself from buying them all.

What you will need:
Succulents
Suitable pot
Gravel
Soil
Gardening gloves and trowel – to make your life easier and cleaner.

This is what I bought to start my succulent family:

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I bought a deep salad bowl that would look great with the succulents, aquarium gravel for drainage and decoration and four different succulent plants. The trowel I already had and I already had soil from other gardening projects but an all purpose soil should work fine.

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I picked four different succulent varieties to make the garden look more interesting. Its important to pick plants that are similar to each other and require the same environment, by sticking with succulents I knew that they would all be able to happily live in the same pot.

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To start, add a level of gravel to the bottom of the bowl to allow for drainage, you can also add moss on top of this to help absorb excess water but I don’t plan on over-watering the succulents.

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I then added the soil on top of this and then arranged the succulents roughly where I wanted them to by before adding more soil around each individual plant.

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I then added the gravel again on top of the soil to make it look pretty. I had mixed gravel so I painstakingly picked out all the white quartz to arrange on the top. I then dropped the gravel on top of the soil and all the way up the stems of the plants and my garden was complete.

TA DA

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It looks so cute on my coffee table right now. Let me know if you make a spring succulent garden too in the comments below. x

*Succulents are low maintenance plants but do require plenty of natural light and water – just don’t leave them in direct light for too long or they can get scorched and give them a light watering.

Saturday in Shoreditch : Donuts and Japanese 12.04

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Cronut, coffee and doughnuts

So last Saturday I dragged J out to Shoreditch to try this new donut shop called Dum Dum Donutterie but don’t be fooled by the name because the minds behind Dum Dum doughnuts are a genius, because they bake the donuts instead of frying them.

So they are of course really good for you……. well ish  – well better than fried ones.

Founded by Paul Hurley they are branded as “The Best Doughnut in the World” bold statement, but they really amazing in taste and texture and they are lower in fat and light and fluffy.

The hard part was deciding which to choose from their store in Box Park Shoreditch as I really wanted to try the cronuts they had too, so in the end we took one of each doughnut on offer that day and I had a cronut too and a coffee. I also really loved the coffee cup with the cute pink lid and will be looking for a longer lasting version for home.

If you are not familiar with the cronut its a croissant/doughnut hybrid and theirs was a almond and pistachio cream and amazing. It was my first cronut and didnt disappoint with the texture of a croissant on the outside but with the texture and taste of a doughnut on the outside.

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My first cronut

The doughnuts we chose included a Creme brulee- crispy sugar shell and rich creme inside, Banoffee – banana puree and creme du leche and Strawberry Cheesecake as well as classic jam filled and a raspberry glazed doughnut and a chocolate nut covered doughnut.

Mmm heaven

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Dum Dum Donuts are located at number 31 Box Park – Shoreditch.

We then wandered around the area walking over to Spitalfields market and just enjoying Saturday which included an odd goofy picture of course.

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And some sneaky swooning over flowers and more food before admitting we were quite hungry and needed more than just a cronut in our belly.

So we headed to Holborn to our favourite restaurant Eat Tokyo!

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photo from Zomato.com

Eat Tokyo has been our favourite no thrills Japanese restaurant since we stumbled onto the Trafalgar Square branch located behind the National Gallery, and we have been so many times we can not count.

Why do we love it? Well the prices are really reasonable for the amount of food you get and its really simple authentic Japanese food and seems to be full of other Japanese people whenever we visit. Our favourite branch is Trafalgar Square but there are often long ques so we headed to Holborn for our fix on Saturday.

We arrived at 3.25 and were told last order for the afternoon was at 3.30 and then they were shutting at 4pm – would that be a problem? Us: Not at all!! FEEED US!

We tend to know exactly what we want when we go there. For J it is a big bowl of ramen:

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And for me it is always a Bento box which comes with miso soup on the side:

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This time I had the mackerel with tofu whereas I usually pig out and get the Bento with teriyaki salmon and tempura and sushi and usually means I have a very full belly afterwards.

We then rolled ourselves home and vegged out for the rest of the evening feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.

What are you doing this Saturday? leave a comment below letting me know. x

Beautiful Kauai – Hawaii

In 2011 I was lucky enough to visit Kauai, Hawaii on my honeymoon with my husband J and we have been dreaming of going back ever since.

Kauai is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and we absolutely loved every minute of our trip. The flight from the UK is lengthy and pricy, which is why we haven’t been back since, but if you ever get a chance to visit it is worth it.

We stayed at the Kauai Beach Resort which is based on the eastern side in Lihu’e which is the island’s capital and is conveniently located to explore the island, as long as you have a car. It is also located on a stretch of quiet beach – so our first few mornings were spent gazing across the ocean from our sea view room.

We found out on our first day that it is impossible to get around the island without a car, so book one ahead of arriving. We rented a little compact car as I was the designated driver and I hadn’t driven for a looong time and I thought it best to start off small. But when (I’m saying when because it will happen) we go back I will be renting jeep as it gives you the opportunity to go off road and there are plenty of off road opportunities and I LOVE Jeeps – I’d personally like a baby pink one but I don’t think that would go down well with the husband.

Exploring the island is so easy as there is only one main road that runs around almost the entire island and all small roads connect to it, so you literally can not get lost – believe me we tried. You can drive around the entire island within a few hours, although you cant do a full loop as there is a great big canyon in the way but it is definitely fun and stress free driving around this beautiful island.

One of our first stops on our tour of Kauai was the Wailua Falls which is a double waterfall. We of course got out and had a good ol gawp and took some pics. The falls are just one of the beautiful waterfalls on the island are estimated to be between 80 – 125ft, I really wanted to find them and have a swim but you need to hike to most of the waterfall spots.

On our first day we booked a few excursions for us to do while on the island. For such a small island there is so much to do and see and we were  determined to cram as much in as possible.

Zip lining has always appealed to me and what better way to see the island than zipping through the jungle. We went with Outriggers of Po’ipu and were driven to one of the most dense areas of Kauai to strap ourselves in and zip our way through the jungle. We actually drove past one of the locations where Jurassic Park was filmed – I could just imagine the Diplodocus’s munching away as we drove past.

It was so much fun zipping through the jungle, sometimes upside down, it was a definite highlight of our trip.

Continuing our adventure of Hawaii we also booked ourselves onto a speedboat tour of the breathtaking Na Pali coast. Na Pali means ‘the cliffs’ in Hawaiian but I have never seen any cliffs that look like this – its a bit of a change from the white cliffs of Dover.

We were up very early – before the sun – to take this tour with Kauai Sea Tours and we had two of the best sea tourers to guide us around the coast.

We skipped around the Na Pali coast, which I have to admit was a bumpy ride but it was well worth the early rise and we were lucky enough to see a school of spinner dolphins, but sadly no sea turtles that day. Sea turtles are one of my favourite animals and it was my dream to see a wild sea turtle during our trip, the dolphins were just as beautiful however skipping along the waves and leaping out of the sea.

We decided to space out our excursions so that we didn’t spend every day getting up at the crack of dawn. I’m not normally a morning person but I think the jet lag had me on some weird island time as I was wide awake at 6 am every day and ready for bed by 10pm, which suits Kauai just fine because there isn’t much of a night life over there. The ‘capital’ doesn’t really have any bars , none that we saw and we were so tired from the days events were were happy to chill in our room stuffing our faces with American sweets such as peanut butter pretzels and Poke.

On one of our tours of the island we decided to drive to the north shore of Princetown. I think this is where the rich people live on Kauai because all we saw were very expensive looking mansions/houses and lots of private roads.

The north shore is however home to Hanalei Bay which is a breathtaking bay complete with a pier.

Moody mountains on the way to Hanalei Bay

There was some sort of family day event on when we got to Hanalei and despite the clouds it was a really hot day. This beach also featured in the film The Descendants with George Clooney, sadly they filmed it after we were there.

While there, we visited many of the lovely restaurants and eateries on the island and even the supermarkets. We found that they sell this dish called Poke, which is chunks of raw tuna sold by the pound in the supermarkets but the best place we found for our sushi habit was the south shore Koloa Fish Market, which is located in the cutest town of Koloa.

Although we also found out that Hawaiians have a strange fascination with spam, and even stick it in their sushi…

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This was a spam and sushi ‘sandwich’ – I couldnt finish it it was too weird

We also visited Puka Dog, located at the Po’ipu shopping village. A Puka Dog is a polish sausage in a toasted bun – which is toasted on the inside only on this skewer and then you choose your choice of tropical fruit sauce, such as pineapple or passion fruit and their ‘secret sauce’.

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We also visited Po’ipu beach park on a number of occasions as it is excellent for snorkeling. We were able to pick up snorkel sets from the local supermarket but there were plenty of hire shops if you wanted more specialist equipment.

While at Po’ipu we ate at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler which is an awesome restaurant serving everything from burgers to seafood. We ate there every time we visited the beach – which was a good few times and there is a shaved ice store right beneath.

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We also stopped by Hamura Saimin, located on Kress Street in Lihu’e. We had read about this place in our guide book but it was really difficult to find. When we did find it, it was located in a quiet residential street and was clearly a popular local hangout serving no nonsense noodles. J really enjoyed it as he is a bit addicted to noodles.

We also ate at Duke’s Canoe Club located in the Kauai Marriott Resort and had some amazing fish over the view of the Kalapaki Beach.

This was following our kayaking trip along the Wailua river, which is the only navigable river in Kauai.

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The tour we had booked on took us kayaking along the river and then hiking through the jungle to the Uluwehi Falls (secret falls) which is a 130ft waterfall. I love hiking especially through muddy forest where I am likely to get muddy and wet and this hike ticked all those boxes.

After the long hike however we were rewarded with a swim under the falls and I was first one in of course.

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On our final day with car we decided to drive as far north as we could and visit Makua beach or Tunnel’s beach as it is known. On the way we passed some amazing houses and architecture.

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Church near Hanalei Bay

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One of the houses on stilts on route to Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach is excellent for surfing and we ended up arriving late in the afternoon. Opposite the beach is this huge cliff face with a cave underneath known as Maniniholo Dry Cave, which was both spooky and fun to explore.

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J exploring the depths of the cave

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Tunnels Beach

It was at Tunnels beach that I found what I had been looking for the entire trip – a wild green sea turtle! I couldn’t believe my luck when I waded in to snorkel and it was splashing around in the shallow knee deep water eating the seaweed off the rocks in the bay.

It was such an amazing experience to be able to see it in the wild and see it up close and recognise it’s size and beauty. It was definitely one of my highlights of the trip and something I will never forget.

Kauai is such a beautiful place and so relaxed and calming. There is so much to do there that we couldn’t even fit it all in in our two weeks there and if I went back there is so much more I would love to do, such as visiting the Kauai Coffee plantation and maybe a helicopter ride over the island.

But more than the exciting excursions we went on I enjoyed the general chilled out vibe I got from Kauai and the sheer joy I felt driving around and living Hawaiian style.

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Me giving the Hawaiian ‘Shaka’ or hang loose sign