Blog Every Day in May: Travel Dreams

“If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would it be?”

Right now? Somewhere it’s not raining and where I don’t need thermal socks on!

But really, I do have lots of travel dreams. And in honesty, most of them are probably just that, dreams. I’m afraid I’m not very proactive when it comes to travelling….I’ve never prioritised it, found much time for it, nor saved the funds for it. My fiance, Adam, has by contrast travalled lots, and I look on his amazing travel photos in awe! I think it’s fair to say that if he’d not met me, he would probably still be going off on fun long trips, so I probably should plan on some travelling with him in the future, lest he resents me for spoiling his adventures!

I have a bit of a list of places I’d like to go to, and it’s constantly growing! Here are my top picks though….

Canada

Adam is always saying we should move to Vancouver, and I suppose as it usually makes the top three places to live in the world, it must have quite a lot going for it! I do love the look of the landscapes there, the idea of good clean living, skiing and all the niceness!

State of Washington

Now don’t judge me….it’s probably fairly acceptable to love Twin Peaks as obsessively as I do, but I can’t say I’m proud of how much I love the Twilight films! Still, that part of America has a real charm for me, and I’d love to go to the towns where these were filmed…and it would be an easy trip from Vancouver!

Tibet

Just because of Twin Peaks (again).

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New Zealand

It may be because the climate appeals to me more than Australia, or the incredible landscapes I see in the films (Adam is forever pointing out, saying ‘I’ve been there, it’s in New Zealand’ when we watch things). It seems like an amazing way of life here too, and Adam speaks very fondly of the people there and how kind they were to him.

Peru

Ever since I first saw photos of Machu Pichu, I’ve wanted to go there. I would LOVE to walk the Inca Trail, and in fact as Adam does too we are quite likely to do so together!

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Jordan

Some of my favourite photos from Adam’s travels were taken in Jordan, at Petra. I just adore the ancient architecture, and would be so excited to discover it one very early morning, imagining myself as one of those intrepid explorers who really did discover it after centuries!

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Japan

This is my favourite country I’ve never been to! I know I’d love all the kitschness, the food, the cherry blossom season, the architecture (in all its varying forms!), the history and the efficiency! Adam has been but would happily return…and I’m fairly sure we’ll have to go before too long!

As well as these destinations, I would just LOVE LOVE LOVE to go on a few road trips / super-deluxe tours! I’m crazy about the idea of a road trip for months and months to really explore all of North America (there is so much I want to see there….New York, San Francisco, the deep south, Niagra, Grand Canyon….), and it’d have to be in a huge classic American Car or with an Airstream! I also adore the idea of an incredibly luxurious trip all over Italy…I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been to in that country (Rome, Florence, Sienna and Pisa) and would jump at the chance to explore more cities there, as well as the coast and the countryside. I think another great travel project would be to see all the original Wonders of The World…I know they don’t all still exist (or possibly some of them never did!) but to find the closest thing to each would be amazing. I’d also love to visit all the ‘new’ seven wonders, although I’m not sure I completely agree with all of the list!

If I won the lottery today though (the big bucks, obviously, not a tenner) I think I’d have to go wild and plan a round the world trip to see all of the James Bond film and book locations….I’m a bit of a James Bond nut and some of the places I’ve read about in the books and seen in the films just seem like the most exciting places on Earth! And with the big bucks lottery prize, I’d travel with Valextra luggage, sail about on yachts with hot crew, get jetted about in helicopters, stay in all the finest hotels, take photos on a vintage analogue Leica, and drink Champagne on my private balcony for breakfast. Just like James Bond.

Well, the title WAS Travel *Dreams*!

Ems x

PS. Thanks to Adam for the photos!

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Something from the weekend…. A stunning wedding weekend in Austria

I bally love a good wedding. And so an entire weddingy weekend was just bliss. I was honoured to be be invited to our friends Katie and Peter’s wedding, and even more delighted that it was all taking in place in Austria! If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I was lucky enough to take a holiday to Vienna in November for the Christmas markets, and I was only too happy to get back there in the sunnier weather…..

Friday started out a little stressful, as in taking a little holiday, we had to leave the pup for the first time! It was worse still because Adam’s mum, who would usually look after him for us, is away at the moment so he had to go to her friend…..she’s a long time dog owner and lover though and we got him used to her and her house over the last few weeks by going for walks together and visiting her cute little cottage. Still, I was a bit of a wreck and properly welled up as we left him, despite the fact that he was clearly very happy to be having a bit of a holiday of his own!

After dropping Cooper off, we made our way to the airport and had a nice leisurely journey to Vienna. We had a couple of hours to spare at the airport at that end, before the coach arrived to take us to the wedding venue, so we indulged in a nice big dinner….I love the food in Austria, and very happily yummed up a large helping of Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes, as well as some excellent coffee…..there’s no pretence with Viennese food, but it’s all such great quality and so very tasty!

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After a few more guests had arrived on a later flight, our little coach took us south towards Graz, to the little village of Bad Waltersdorf where the wedding venue is. We made the journey fun by taking along some very sweet fizzy wine and lots of sweets, and so it didn’t seem too long a journey at all. We were taken directly to the Schloß Obermayerhofen and walked through the castle grounds up to the idyllic little chalet at the top of the hill. The Gaisrieglhof is a 250 year old farmhouse from nearby Pöllau, rebuilt here and used for the traditional pre-wedding gathering. Some guests had dressed in the traditional national dress, including the beautiful bride, and there were traditional musicians playing and wearing wonderful lederhosen! It was lovely to have a little pre-wedding catch up with everyone and drink a couple of glasses of the delicious local wine after our journey!

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After our long day prior, we enjoyed a bit of a lie in on the Saturday morning and spent most of the day getting ready for the wedding in the afternoon. It was great fun getting ready with some of Adam’s lovely old school friends, and at 2pm we all took a taxi up to the Schloß from our hotel to start the celebrations. We were greeted by lovely cold drinks and yummy nibbles as part of the Agape feast, and before long watched the stunning Katie walk down from her room. We moved through to the pretty meadow behind the castle, where a cute gazebo surrounded by chairs was set up for the civil part of the wedding….it was beautiful to be out in the open air and the weather was certainly kind! There was a Catholic ceremony after that, in the gorgeous Baroque chapel, then music and fizz out on the castle’s terrace as the couple had lots of photos taken.

The wedding breakfast took place in another of the castle’s incredible rooms, and we were treated to an exceptionally good dinner (asparagus soup with herb dumplings, wild garlic ravioli, crusted lamb and a trio of chocolate desserts!) alongside some wonderful local wines. The speeches were all very funny and touching, and after dinner the happy couple took to the floor for a very impressive tango for their first dance.

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We whiled away the night chatting, drinking and dancing, and having a lovely time in great company. There was a midnight feast of gulaschsuppe (possibly my favourite thing we ate on the whole trip and absolutely divine!) and so we were very contented indeed when we finally got to our beds.

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After breakfast and checkout on Sunday morning, another coach took us back to Vienna airport where we dropped off our bags and then made our way into the Vienna Mitte to spend a few hours before our flight home. We’d not managed to visit the popular Zanoni Eis gelateria when we were there last, so that was an obvious choice….. we were a little overwhelmed by the masses of flavours though, but did finally manage to choose six different scoops to fill a nice large tub with (nutella, melon, pistachio, strawberry, coffee and chocolate!). They were all super-yum, but the melon was a definite favourite, and the treat was very welcome in the city heat!

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We had a little mooch around the city after that, going back to the fun clock in the town and also heading back to the wonderful Cafe Pruckel next to the Stadtpark…..we yummed up very naughty iced coffees that were drowning in cream and chocolate! We walked off the treats round the sunny park, and then slowly made our way back to the airport for the flight home.

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We were lucky enough to catch a lift home with some other friends who’d taken the same flight, so our journey wasn’t too arduous. Still, we were pretty exhausted when we got back and flaked out almost immediately. The house didn’t feel like home though until our precious pup was delivered back to us on Monday morning….I’d missed him so terribly and despite having had a wonderful little holiday of his own and loving all the attention from his new friends, he seemed delighted to see us too!

Hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too!

Ems x

Vienna: Must see and do

Well by now you’ll know that in Vienna you simply *must* drink lots of the excellent coffee, and eat copious amounts of cake and sausages. But what to do in between meal times?

We had such an amazing holiday in Vienna, and although a LOT of it was spent at the amazing Christmas Markets (half the reason for us going in honesty!) I think we did pretty well at soaking up what this gorgeous city has to offer….and here is what I’d recommend you do too….

You can’t really get away from Mozart in Vienna, although it’s not quite as Mozart-crazy as Salzburg! The beautiful statue of the composer in the Burrgarten is well worth a look, although you may have to fight through hoards of school trippers to get your photo!

I love the way you can see Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece, the Stephansdom cathedral from so far away, yet it sort of creeps up on you as you discover it up close. One side of the roof is decorated with a rather on-trend chevron tile design, whilst the other bears the Austrian eagle. Inside though is the real surprise, as we found it lit up in a rather crazy tie-dye effect!

The guide books said that if you only go to see one palace in Vienna, make it the Schloss Shonbrunn. And it is certainly worth the short U-bahn trip out of the city. The audio guided tour will take you through the palace’s tumultuous history and gives you an insight into the lives of its many occupants, including the famous Habsburgs.

The palace also boasts incredible grounds, including various themed gardens, fountains, a labyrinth and maze, and a stunning gloriette….the climb up to which is well worth the effort when you turn around to see the whole of Vienna before you.

And as if that’s not enough, your combined ticket will also let you into the palace’s own zoo, the fascinating Wustenhaus (desert house) and the breathtaking Palmenhaus (Palm house) which is actually a replica of the one in our very own Kew Gardens!

Vienna is home to the world’s first Lomography shop, and so a pilgrimage to its vast photo wall was a must for this analogue-lover. It also has a great little gift shop and the rest of the Museum Quarter in which it resides is worth a visit too.

We found out about the Globe museum by chance, and hadn’t planned it into our schedule at all, but as soon as we knew it existed we couldn’t miss it! The museum far exceeded our expectations, and not only houses some of the most visually impressive and historically important  globes in the world (including an entire room featuring globes from private collections) but also teaches you the history of globe manufacture using clever interactive exhibits….I had no idea it would be so interesting! A combined ticket also lets you into the Papyrus museum and the fascinating Esperanto museum!

Vienna is so famed for its musical history that it would be rude to visit without experiencing some live music. We opted for a rather touristy package at the Kursalon in the Stadtpark…..a sort of a variety show featuring chamber music, ballet and opera, this was the perfect taster and had everyone toe tapping along to the familiar tunes of some of Vienna’s greatest inhabitants.

And whilst we’re on music…..Vienna’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame is great fun, with golden stars featuring famous composers’ names stretching from the Staatsoper, all the way under the U-Bahn station tunnels.

And whilst you’re there, take a look at the charmingly funny Opera loos! In London we have cockney cash machines, but in Vienna there is a public toilet where you can listen to opera! Love it!

I could also argue that no trip to Vienna would be complete without a good fix of Klimt either, and the Secession museum is a great place to get a feel for the artist. Home to his masterpiece the Beethoven Frieze, the building itself is just as impressive, with its owl motifs and Medusa heads over the door!

And just over the road is the colourful Naschmarkt, the city’s largest and most popular farmers’ market.

I personally couldn’t let the opportunity to visit an iconic Bond film scene pass me by, and so we took a bit of a walk over to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park (actually the world’s oldest amuseument park!) to see the Riesenrad…..those of you who are as fond of Bond as I will recognise the Ferris wheel and the sliding glass doors below from The Living Daylights. The 65m wheel also featured in the film The Third Man, as well as cult classic Sunrise.

Vienna really is one of those cities though that you can just amble around all day, and although we crammed in lots, I’d happily return again (in the summer perhaps) to simply soak up some of the lovely atmosphere there.

Ems x

Vienna: Drinks

Whilst we were preparing for our trip to Vienna last year, it quickly became apparent that one thing we could greatly look forward to was some exceptionally good coffee. Adam and I are constantly frustrated by our country’s rubbish attempts at cafe culture (you know, the over-crowded chain cafes, noisy with crying babies and fake coffee-making noises, and the over-frothy burnt milk that is supposed to pass as a coffee) and although we’ve found a few exceptional places in London and in Hitchin, we were excited by the prospect of being able to get a great coffee in lots of places.

Our guide book also offered us temptations in the form of cocktail bars, Gluwein (the yummy mulled wine you can buy at the Christmas markets) and of course, lots of cakes and things to go with them. And we certainly weren’t disappointed either! We spent many an hour just relxing in one of Vienna’s lovely cafes, and were so pleased with the bar we first found that we didn’t bother going anywhere else!

So, here’s my round up of Vienna’s cafes and bars….

The first place anyone usually tells you to go in Vienna is Cafe Sacher. The famous hotel is located right behind the Staatsoper (opera house) and is a mecca for those wanting to try the iconic Sacher Torte. The dense chocolate cake was first created by the hotel’s chef Sacher in 1832, and the original recipe remains a hotel secret (as you’d expect for what they claim is the most famous cake in all the world!). And whilst the cafe is delightfully traditional and ever so proper (mind you choose the smoking or non smoking room as you prefer….not something we are used to any more!) and the cake is nice enough, it’s certainly more about the experience of going rather than the cake being any kind of special. There, I said it. Don’t hate me.

Purists may dislike me for it, but I actually much preferred our visit to Cafe Sperl, another Vienese favourite although a little more hidden away behind the Museum Quarter. The speciality here is Sperlschnitte, a sort of crispy-topped, dense chocolate torte-style brownie….and BOY is it special! The coffee here was perfect too, and I could have happily whiled away the entire day in the decadent surroundings (even if the service there is a little more brusque!).

I’m usually the sort of person who stays glued to their guide book and only ventures into places recommended by it….but that just makes it even more of a pleasure when I find somewhere by myself! Orlando di Castello didn’t need a Trip Advisor rating to draw me in….the huge shiny glass windows fronting onto one of the squares we visited for its Christkindlmarkt, revealed a stunning interior, and we all know I’m driven by appearances! This place is beautiful though…fresh white walls and furniture are accented with pretty red flower bud motifs, and the attractive looking menu was the sort I just like to stare at and then point at random to order. Despite that though, the coffees here were nothing short of amazing….we visited twice and tried several of their specialities (usually involving booze or ice cream…or sometimes both!) and we were wowed by every one.

Cafe Pruckel isn’t too far behind Cafe Sacher in terms of reputation. Right next to the Stadt Park within a gorgeously deco building, this is the sort of cafe that people sit in for hours reading the papers and slowly drinking their way through their long coffees. Despite the informality though, this is a buzzing cafe and the offerings are just delicious. We tried the Schoko Weicher and Topfelstrudel, both of which were deliciously rich and totally dreamy. And whilst I stuck with a (admittedly yummy) standard coffee, Adam went to town with one of their super-boozy, super-naughty coffee specials, which happily set him up for the cold outside!

As I mentioned, we didn’t venture bar-wards too much after finding our favourite place…..we loved the tiny and charming Loos American Bar near the cathedral, but it was far too smokey for us and crammed from early on….and we had great cocktails (and burgers!) on our first night at the late opening bar in the Museum Quarter….but the only place we really settled in was Kruger Bar. You’re asked to leave your coat with the lovely lady at the little foyer kiosk, then if you prefer to sit in the smoking or non smoking room (nicely separated by glass so non-smokers aren’t bother at all!). We were presented with a very comprehensive leather bound cocktail menu and brought yummy nibbles as we settled into our gentlemans’ club style leather arm chairs….and what’s more is that our order even satisfied my cocktail-snob of a fiance! We tried a good few of our favourite classics as well as some of the house specialities, and all were great quality and good value to boot. I’d definitely recommend nesting-in here for a few pre-dinner martinis, or for your post-opera night caps.

Prost!

Ems x

A few days in Vienna

This Friday I’m lucky enough to be jetting off to the beautiful Vienna. Friends of ours are getting married just south of there on Saturday, and whilst we won’t get to spend too much time in Vienna itself, preparing to go is reminding me of the wonderful holiday Adam and I had there last November.

Just in time for all the Christmas markets opening up all over the city, we spent a few days in Vienna and absolutely adored it. It’s a stunning city, with lots of open space so that you can stand back to be wowed by the wonderful architecture. We loved the palaces and museums, as well as the incredible food and amazing coffee shops. We were delighted to see dogs everywhere and welcomed into shops, cafes and restaurants.

The Christmas Markets were definitely the highlight of the trip for me, but I can’t wait to see the city again in the warmer weather.

And as I’ve been promising other wedding guests some tips on where to visit whilst there, I thought I’d share some of my favourite bits about Vienna here on my blog over the next few days…..there’ll be a post about our best food and coffee recommendations, where we most loved visiting, and some of the must-see sights. I’ll start tomorrow with food….as that was definitely a huge highlight for us both!

Enjoy,

Ems x

Something from the weekend… Lights, rain and packing

Well it really IS getting rather Festive now!

Our weekend started with a very Christmassy Friday, as we spent the evening in the Market Square for the Hitchin Christmas lights switch-on! There were stalls from lots of locals, with vintage fashions, yummy foods and delicious drinks on offer, as well as carol singers and whatnot. I’m very impressed with the wonderfully large tree that has been put up in the square, right in the centre of town and only a few minutes walk from our home….and at 7pm we all shouted a count down as the tree lights were switched on for the first time!

The place was packed with people and it was all terribly jolly, so we continued the fun by inviting the friends we’d met up with back to our place for hot Winter Pimm’s. I love having the house full of guests….it’s so much cosier when there are more people around!

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On Saturday I was due to host another stall at the Riverside Craft and Farmers Market, but owing to the fact that it’s an outdoor market and I’m still not feeling very well (not to mention the weather forecast!) I reluctantly decided not to go. Instead we braved the wind and rain for a little bit, to head back to the market square for the Hitchin Food and Wine Festival. It was no good browsing all the stalls on our empty tummies though, so Adam took me to the wonderful Halseys tea room where we feasted on a gorgeous brunch (bubble with fried duck egg and mushroom for me, homemade baked beans on toast for Adam). I love how busy and cosy it always is in there, and their food is brilliant.

Duly fed, we met up with some friends and wandered about the food market, sampling some fabulous beers and chilli sauces, and lusting after all the hot dishes of mulled sausages and venison chilli on offer! There was a fair turn out despite the rain, but we didn’t last long and returned home to get warm and dry.

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We spent much of the afternoon setting up the Wii Adam bought in the Amazon Black Friday sale, and playing the bowling game on it. Then for dinner we headed over to Adam’s parents’ where his Mum had cooked up a roast lamb with stacks of yummy veggies. After chatting over dinner and putting the world to rights, we headed home to watch an episode of X Files before bed.

After the obligatory Sunday morning lie-in (and a rather large brunch of fried egg sandwiches!) we popped out for a bit into town, first to the car boot sale where I picked up a darling little bird painting for just 60p, and then on a few errands to get the last few things for our holiday. Once home we set about packing for our trip, whilst drinking tea and singing Christmas songs. Then before we knew it, it was dinner time and we went back over to Adam’s Mum’s for her amazing baked pasta dish (as we hardly had anything left in to eat and didn’t want to shop just before we leave!).

Back at home I had a lovely Skype chat with my dear friend Michelle in the States….it was wonderful to catch up with her and just natter away for a bit. Then it was another couple of X Files episodes before an early night ahead of our journey!

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How was your weekend?

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Living for the weekend…. introducing my new ‘hood

As this is my first ‘Living for the weekend’ post since my move, I thought I’d dedicate it to my new home county of Hertfordshire. I figure it’ll help me get to know the area better, get an idea of what’s going on, and maybe even give me a chance to find some other local adventurers!

I’ll admit it though, when I started to look for events in my new local area, I honestly thought I’d only find a handful of things to do this weekend, and may have to stretch my search to neighboring Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. No such problem though! As soon as I started snooping about, I came across fun thing after fun thing to do! And in fact, I’m swamped with ideas! There’s such a wonderful range of things going on, and so many of them are right up my alley….how to choose???…..

Saturday

Hitchin Fashion Show

Hitchin Market Square

Saturday 13th October

Free Entry

Many fashion stores from Hitchin will be taking part in the second Hitchin Fashion Show, which takes place in the town square. There’ll be fashions from local high street stores, high end designers and vintage treasures, as well as a chance to see Hitchin’s very own Town Cryer!

 

Chorleywood Community Arts Centre Annual Exhibition and Sale

Saturday 13th October, 10am to 4pm

Free Entry

This annual event is a great opportunity to see examples of members’ work of all kinds, with many exhibits for sale. The day will also include demonstrations of pottery, painting and silk painting throughout the day!

Autumn Trail at Ashridge Estate

Ashridge Estate, near Berkhamsted

Saturday 13th October, 10am to 4pm

Entry from £2
Have halloween-themed spooky fun outdoors with a seasonal Family Trail around the beautiful Ashridge Estate, and answer questions along the way to earn a reward!

A Paper Garden City: Vanessa Stone

Foyer Gallery, Letchworth Arts Centre
Until 31st October, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 3pm
Free entry

A portrait of Letchworth in wonderful designs created in paper cuts  by talented  local artist Vanessa Stone.

Kitty Quiz Night, in aid of Cats Protection Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted

Social Centre, Bell Lane, Northchurch HP4 3RD

Saturday 13th October, 7pm for 7.30pm start

£10 per person, including supper!

The Kitty Quiz Night is a remarkably popular event which regularly sells out! Teams are a maximum of 8, and the price includes a fish ‘n’ chips supper or veggie option. Please contact Colin 07507 914625 (daytime) or Vanessa 01442 879974 (evenings) for information and tickets or email vanessachenery@hotmail.com. This is a charity event and all proceeds will go to support the work of Cats Protection in the Dacorum area.

 

Autumn Charity Concert

All Saints Church, Hertford

Saturday 13th October, 7:30pm

Tickets £7

This concert in aid of Isabel Hospice brings together two popular choirs from Hertfordshire, with a varied programme to suit all tastes.

An Autumn Adventure

Brookmans Park

Saturday 13 October, 10.30am to 12.30pm

Free entry

Join the team at Gobions Wood Nature Reserve for a morning of autumnal activities and crafts. Click here to book online or call Susannah on 07876 508034.

Hertford Food and Drink Festival

From October 8th to October 14th

All around the Town Centre

Local businesses, the Town Council and other local organisations are hosting the first Hertford Food and Drink Festival. Expect farmers markets, a special apple day and demonstrations of all kinds!

Jumble Sale Cats Protection Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted

Potten End Village Hall

Saturday 13th October, from 11:30 am

Oh boy do I love a good jumble sale….and one to help fund a local cat charity is even better! Expect stacks of books, toys, games, clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac, and household items at bargain prices.

Sunday

Hitchin Sunday Market & Car Boot Sale

Hitchin Market

Every Sunday, 7:30am to 1pm

Free Entry

In addition to the regular weekly markets, Hitchin Markets have recently launched a new venture offering a general market and a car boot sale every Sunday.  Pitches start at just £5.00, but its free to go and browse!

Family Deer Walk

Sunday October 14th, 8am to 10am

Starting at the B4506, end of Monument Drive, Ashridge

Adults £8, Children £6.

It’s an amazing time of year to see deer, as bucks compete for does and this family-based wildlife walk will give you a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the deer rut.  To book call 01442851227.

 

Phew! So much to do!

Ems x

How To on Tuesday: Moving Home

As you know, I recently moved home from a little flat in central London to a much bigger house in Hertfordshire. As well as all my belongings (and I have lots!) there was also the boyf’s things to think about, as well as everything for our two small businesses. So it was no easy thing packing and prepping for our move, and no easier on the move day itself and once settling in. But I think we did make it just about as painless as possible, and I’m pretty pleased with how it all went really.

So, as my ‘how to’ for this week, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I used to make things go as smoothly as possible, in the hope that you’ll find it useful to stow away these bits of information for your next move!

  1. Ordering boxes – As much as it might seem possible to collect up all the boxes you need, I really would recommend buying some. Whilst we did manage to get hold of some from local shops and friends, the problem there is that you have to make do with whatever size you’re given….and that can mean you’re packing things in the wrong order or in the wrong boxes. There are lots of websites that will sell you packing kits designed for homes of all sizes, including the tape and marker pens and whatnot. I’d say it’s best to go with one of these mixed bundles, so you have several box sizes from the start, so you can box up books in smaller ones (so you can actually move them!) and lightweight things in bigger ones. Once we got a big delivery of boxes I felt much easier in packing everything and could really get through it.
  2. Other wrapping materials – Some of the package deals online will give you tissue paper and bubble wrap too. I’d say it’s well worth having some bits and bobs like that, but I actually mainly used things I’d been saving up instead….. Any jiffy bags, bubble wrap, tissue paper, newspaper and plastic carrier bags are worth hoarding in the run up to a move, as all of these work well to wrap things in and pad things out. I also have a big stash of canvas totes which are great for wrapping delicate things in too.
  3. Box labelling – There is nothing more annoying after a move than looking for one little particular thing, and to have to open a dozen boxes to find it. Whilst most boxes can just be labelled by the room they’re going to, I found that detailing the key items in each box in pen on the top was really handy. I wish I’d done it more in fact, as there were rather more ‘misc’ boxes than was helpful!
  4. Colour coding – I’ll admit it, if there’s a chance to colour code something, I’m all over it. But I have to say, my nifty colour coding trick for moving works a treat! To save you and your movers from having to read your scrawl on each box before plonking it in the right room, why not allocate a colour to each room and label your boxes to suit?! For example, I decided the kitchen would be green (because the vegetables live there, which are green, obviously), and so each box destined for the kitchen got a green sticker, and then on the day I stuck a big green sign on the kitchen…..the moving men then just had to chuck all the green labelled boxes in the room with the green label! I did the same for the other rooms, which was especially helpful in the move to a bigger place because it would be hard for the moving men to know which room is which in some cases (when they are empty at least!).
  5. Moving men (and women) – And on the subject of moving men…… I have moved a few times just using friends’ cars or hiring vans, then doing all the lifting myself or with a team of friends bribed by the promise of take out. As I’ve grown older and lazier though, and as my collection of ‘stuff’ has increased, I’ve decided I’d much rather pay some burly young men to do all the lifting for me. For my past two moves I’ve used the Anyvan website to get competitive quotes from local moving firms, and it’s been brilliant both times. You just fill in their online questionnaire to explain how much stuff you’ve got, and what access is like, and then stacks of firms come back with quotes. We got some truly bargainous deals this way, and for the most recent move we had the most perfect moving men you can imagine. Well worth the small spend!
  6. Last minute boxes and bags – You know how it is, you feel all prepared and ready, the van arrives and you start loading it, then you realise there’s a whole cupboard of ‘last minute’ stuff that’s been completely forgotten and you have nothing to pack it in. Having a few stray bits and bobs is inevitable, so I like to keep a small and a large box spare, as well as some big laundry type bags and a few carrier bags or totes. ALL of my spares got used in the last move, so I’m glad I’d thought ahead!
  7. Very Important Box – As well as those last minute bits, there are also the things you know you REALLY want not to lose at the other end. Things like the kettle, tea bags, bedding, scissors, and cleaning products all need to be within easy reach when you arrive to your new place. I like to have a special box for these bits, and make sure it’s easy to spot because it’s a different colour or has ‘THIS ONE’ scribbled all over it with dozens of arrows.
  8. At the other end – Whilst you’ll be all excited to arrive at your new place, and want to start the unpacking frenzy, take the first few minutes to have a really good look around. I’m yet to move into an appropriately clean place, and have found all sorts of issues when moving in. It’s easier to spot stuff before all your boxes are stacked in every room, and if you’re renting and have the agent or landlord there to hand over the keys, it’s worth going through the inventory with them. Things will always come to light later, but before you start unpacking your precious treasures it’s worth checking the place is OK first.
  9. Kitchen and bedroom first, living room last – The temptation to lay out your sofas and scatter them with cushions so you can have that well deserved rest will always be strong. But, as soon as you make your living room all cosy and nice, it’s hard to want to get back up and start working on the rest! Whilst a first night take out is a must for me, I like to get my kitchen sorted first so that I can at least make a cup of tea and throw some cereal in a bowl the next morning. And of course there’s no greater disappointment than making your way to bed after all your hard work, only to find it still needs to be built, the mattress is in another room, and your duvet is nowhere to be seen. So, ensure you at least have everything to hand for bed time, or ideally get it all sorted earlier in the day.
  10. There’s no rush – So now you’re in, and you can live in your new place, sleep there and cook there…..but there are still boxes EVERYWHERE! I find this really stressful, and hate living in amongst the disarray of a move. But, rather than getting all wound up by it (like I did this last time), remind yourself that there is no rush to get your little trinkets out and find homes for all your books etc. The last bit is the most fun bit….making your home. So take your time, move things again and again, and enjoy it.

Ems x

Guest Post: Living for the Weekend with Siobhan Claude Van-Damme

Hello, Siobhan here from Siobhan Claude Van-Damme filling in for Emily as she moves away from London and settles into her new home.

As Emily leaves London, I’m going to look at all the wonderful things happening here this weekend with Open House London…… London will miss Emily and I think it is trying to lure her back with these great events is on. Here is my pick…..

Saturday
Daylight Music at the Union Chapel

Daylight Music is a great series of free music events held at lunchtime at the Union Chapel in Islington.  It is a great way to hear new music and a lovely way to spend Saturday lunchtime.  For Open House they are opening early at 10.30 on both Saturday and Sunday with the show starting at the usual time of noon on the Saturday.  It is a particularly good line-up on Saturday too with electro-folk from Golden Fable.  Though the events are free they do recommend a donation of £3 towards running costs which I think is a snip for such a well put together event in such a beautiful setting.

Daylight Music is from 12pm-4pm on Saturday and the Open House will be from 10.30am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and it free to attend with no booking required.

Angel Building

The Angel Building is also in Islington and open on Saturday (from 10am – 5pm) and it looks just stunning.  This RIBA and BCO award winning building is a glossy reinvention of an 80s office block showcasing some stunning technology and design.  I want to go and marvel at the views through the central space and at the energy efficient glazed skin it has been wrapped in.

Angel House will be open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 1-5pm on Sunday with last entry at 4.15pm.  No booking is required but you may have to queue.

The Jewel Box

While in Islington who could resist visiting somewhere called The Jewel Box? The name alone makes me think of Emily and her beautiful jewelley designs.  The architects describe the building on their website as follows

“Conceived as a series of jewelled boxes carefully inserted into the existing fabric, the proposals open up and revitalise what was a series of dark disjointed spaces. Timber and concrete have been combined in a simple palette of materials that wrap around the existing fabric, inviting the user through the space and into the garden. The remaining period architectural features are retained and celebrated whilst the rear addition utilises a double canted wildflower roof to bounce light deep into the floor plate.”

I can’t wait to see this.

The Jewel Box is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday with tours every half hour until 5pm on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday

Lewisham Art House

I pass Lewisham Art House every day on my way to work and have had colleagues exhibit there but have never visited.  I think London Open House weekend could be when I finally get it together to go and visit.  Lewisham Art House is a beautiful Grade II listed old library that has been turned into artist studios in the heart of New Cross.  There are various exhibitions through the years and London Open House is a great chance to check out the architecture and spaces in this beautiful building.

It will be open on Sunday from 1-5pm with tours every 15 minutes and no booking is required.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens

Ems has written before about the Horniman and I would recommend this chance (and any) to have a look around at this beautiful setting.  I even considered getting married there at one point as I do love the place so very much.  As an example of the arts and crafts style of architecture it is interesting just as a building but this time you can get tours of the recently refurbished gardens and bandstand.

The Horniman Museums and Gardens will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am-5.30pm but garden tours will only be on Saturday at 2 and 3pm – you can book these by emailing marketing@horniman.ac.uk

 

The Capitol (Formerly Forest Hill Cinema)

I often head to Forest Hill and when I walk past the Capitol I am always slightly sad that this clearly once beautiful art deco cinema is now a Wetherspoons pub, even if I am glad it means the building is still alive.  As such, a chance to look around and see more of the building and explore the history of it is really appealing.

The Capitol is open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday but you must book for the architect tours by calling 020 8291 8920

 

Enjoy!