Things to do in London when you’re dead. Or when you’re alive. That’d be better.

Street Art, London

Did you know I used to live in London?
(Of course you do. I talk of very little else. I miss that silly wee city)

As London is one of my very favourite places to be and very favourite things to talk about, I subsequently have a lot of Opinions about London and Things to Do in London.
I’ve shared these every chance I get – generally in a rambling interminable email. I’ve decided that, to save myself a wee bit of work, I’ll put these Opinions in a rambling, interminable blog post!

This is that post.

St Pauls AND the Millennium Bridge

Basic Tips

Get thee an Oyster card.
Yes, even when visiting. These cards are just SO handy. They work on both the tube and the bus, and provides a discount for both. And! Should you keep hold of your Oyster card from 2008, when you go to use it again in 2012 you may just find you still have money on it.
(that’s what happened to me)

Wear good walking boots/shoes/insoles. London is AMAZING for walking. Also, wear light layers. The tube is warm (no air conditioning and all of the bodies under the sun) and despite how frigid the air outside may be, shops and museums are well heated.

Markets

Camden Markets are very busy, but pretty damn cool. Make sure to explore the underground vintage stalls.
Greenwich Markets are underwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend them on a whirlwind tour but if you’re going out that way then they’re worth a look. Get off at the DLR (docklands light rail, connects from the tube, still works on Oyster cards) stop before the one that is actually in (Island Gardens!) Greenwich and walk through the wee foot tunnel which goes under the Thames. It’s just a tunnel. But if you enjoy the sense of possible doom that comes from walking under a river, then do it!
If you do go to Greenwich then look for the little Milkshake place. It’s green and there’s only one, it will make any sweet into a milkshake. My favourite is Turkish Delight.

Toblerone & Turkish Delight thickshakes

Also, if in Greenwich, go into the Painted Hall as it’s pretty damn cool and is used in a lot of movies and such. AND it’s FREE! Free things are excellent value for money.

Mirror table so you don't strain your neck at the Painted Hall

Avoid Spitalfields markets anytime other than the weekends. The guidebook I had said they’re always open but I went on a Thursday and deemed them terrible but my baby sister went on a Saturday and said they were great.

Borough Market is The Best for food, it’s very popular, go during Friday at any time during the day, or Saturday I find it’s best at 10am, after all the stalls open but before the main tourist hordes descend. Go there to eat breakfast or lunch. Buy something hot and eat it while walking around. Great venison burgers, egg butties, roast-in-baguette-s, brownies, Monmouth coffee.

Portobello Road is a classic but very busy. Antiques are the closest to the station, then food, then there’s sort of a t-shaped split and the sides have quirky clothing, army surplus, vintage and ephemera. Further on than that? It’s not that great.

Shop shop shopping

The main High Street shopping destination is Oxford Street.

If you DO go to Oxford Street, it runs from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch on the central line but is only really good from the Oxford Circus stop to the Marble Arch stop. It’s fine to walk but eh, if it’s busy or bad weather, just use the tube.

Regent Street – runs from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus and has some of the most beautiful buildings and much fancier stores. The Apple store is on Regent Street, as is Hamley’s. It’s a nice way to get in Piccadilly Circus and Oxford St in one trip.

Covent Garden! the shopping area is all little cobbled alleys and is amazing. MAC store, Coco de Mer, Urban Outfitters, Neals Yard! the ambience is possibly even better than the shopping. I took Craig here and even he liked it. He absolutely hated every time I dragged him to Oxford Street.

Graffiti in Neals Yard

Overrated? I thought so.

Covent Garden Markets.

I’ve never been on the London Eye as it seems ridiculously overpriced. Would go on it if say, our parents came to visit us or something, but that all depends on if/when we get back there.

Buckingham Palace. Westminster and St Pauls are more impressive.

Mme Tussauds. It’s CRAZY expensive and, admittedly I only went around on the one day I worked there, but I didn’t think it was anywhere near worth it.

Harrods. I have been, would go again, but it’s not all that. I prefer Selfridges.

Teeny Museums I have known and loved.

The Garret – a very old operating theatre/medical museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum – formerly the home of the neo-classical architect Sir John Soane, now a museum stuffed with his collection of paintings, sculptures, classical objets, just … so much stuff. It has to be seen to be believed.

view from the top of St Paul's

Big Museums/Galleries I have known and loved.

The British Museum is awesome and also free, the Great Hall is astounding, you can see the Rosetta Stone & mummies. Also: the nose of the Sphinx.

The National Gallery is oh just so great. Da Vinci et al, and pieces even, ridiculously, brought me to tears. It’s off Trafalgar Square. Too big to do fully in one go (thankfully I had the freedon to go … four times? Five?) but they have a map which has highlights.

Next to the National Gallery is the National Portrait Gallery, again free free free. Much smaller than the National Gallery and has more famous historical portraits than you can shake a stick at. But you shouldn’t. I don’t recommend shaking sticks.

The Tate Modern – a must. Definitely. It’s my favourite place in the world.

St Paul's from the Tate Modern

Promenade.

Whenever we had people come visit us from New Zealand we took them on this walk round the Thames, it seems to me to be an excellent way to see the sights.

(There are nice pubs along the way so you could always pub-crawl it too. But I could never recommend that. Not with my mum reading anyway)

Start at St Pauls tube stop and make your way to the Cathedral and walk round the front of it. Marvel. It’s my favourite building by in London. My favourite building in the World.

Walk round the side to the road, across the street is the London Tourist centre, and just near there is an alley way down to the Millennium Bridge. Walk across that and you’re outside the Tate Modern.

At this point, turn left, you’re heading towards The Globe. You can pay and take a tour round it which is very interesting, you can pay to see one of their productions, or you can just look at it from the outside.

Keep walking down that side of the Thames, (it’s best to have a map at this point because I don’t want to be responsible if you get lost) the walk takes you round by Borough Market (stop in for a Coffee and a sandwich if it’s a day when the market is open. The Shard is on the far side of the Market. It shouldn’t be difficult to spot

Friday: view from the top of St Paul's

As you walk down, you pass the Scoop and City Hall (designed by the same gents who designed the Gherkin) and you come to the Tower Bridge!

Walk across and find your way to the waterfront where you can walk past the Tower of London and see Traitor’s Gate, follow the Thames back up towards St Pauls but keep walking. Keep keep walking.

You can walk all the way down to Westminster this way. Halfway there you walk along the Embankment, beautiful old buildings and the only Walkabout Pub I will ever set foot in (the Walkie is a NZ/AUS/SAFA institution in London. It’s relatively terrible. I would go in and ask for a snakebite (1/2 beer, 1/2 cider, blackcurrant cordial) which is the signature drink, it is … an experience.).

You will be able to tell when you hit Westminster. Those buildings are so iconic as to seem fake. You can walk across the Bridge at Westminster but really, this is where my trail ends and you can go wherever you would like.

There is so much of London there to see!

It was Samuel Johnson who said ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ I am not tired yet.

Coloured in! St Paul's tattoo

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365 in 2013

365 in 2013

I am currently sitting silent, communicating with Craig through exaggerated expressions and notes written on my iPhone. I’ve managed to break my voice.

Saturday: St Patrick's Day tattoo from Craigy Lee at ALC Speakeasy Tattoo
Sunday
Craigy Lee at ALC Speakeasy did flash tattoos for St Patrick’s day. A wee spot of good luck on my ankle.

Monday: a dinosaur planter given a pretty plant and silver paint
Monday
I bought a wee dinosaur planter. He was in a bright bright blue colour that wasn’t quite my style. I rather like the silver makeover I gave him.

Tuesday: a special delivery of Marmite! I had missed it so.
Tuesday
Deliveries spread* around the complex and it was ever so exciting. We each got a wee pottle of Marmite hours before it was on sale to the general public.

Wednesday: headed to the supermarket for cold medication. Praying for a miracle.
Wednesday
Admitting that maybe, just maybe, I was coming down with a cold I trekked to the supermarket.

Thursday: sick day
Thursday
And then a sick-day. Bed, terrible crime shows, and Things and Ink magazine.

Friday: I should have gone straight home after work
Friday
I really should have gone straight home after work. I had one glass of wine and it hit me like a truck. I went to bed and slept for twelve hours.

Saturday: cider and custard square
Saturday
Kim and I went to watch Laura get her nose pierced. We then retired to Meow for a beer. I also had a custard square and it was an excellent decision.

* pun wholeheartedly intended.

365 in 2013

365 in 2013

Sunday: Driving back into the City
Sunday
Driving back into the city after family dinner. The sky stretching forever.

Monday: they've stopped turning the hall light on outside my office
Monday
The light in the hall outside my office seems to be either off or extraordinarily dimmer now. I’m already around a corner from anyone else. This just seems ridiculous.

Tuesday: chalk graffiti on the waterfront
Tuesday
Chalk graffiti along the waterfront.

Wednesday: all of a sudden there's a shopping cart in our carpark
Wednesday
All of a sudden there is an upside down supermarket trolley in our apartment building’s carpark. There are hooligans in the building.

Thursday:
Thursday
I went to my tattoo artist to get the heart tattoo on my thigh coloured in. This painting was on the stairwell where I paused halfway on my way down post-tattoo.

Friday: S'mores Pie!
Friday
S’more’s pie! Purchased from Dough Momma this graham cracker, chocolate ganache, and … marshmallow? pie was kind of incredible but SO so rich.

Saturday: had to go back to collect the pie
Saturday
and then I had to go back to work to collect the pie because of course I did.

365 in 2013

365 in 2013

Sunday: bright sun at dress rehearsal
Sunday
Wellington has had some crazy amazing weather. It was blazing hot for our dress rehearsal.

Monday: brighter sun
Monday
Palm trees (Cabbage trees?) and Parliament House.

Tuesdau: I can never eat before a show
Tuesday
I can’t eat before a performance. I force myself to eat an apple but that’s about it.

Wednesday: terrifying craft at After School Care
Wednesday
Terrifying terrifying Frankenstein’s monster kind of craft at the after school care.

Thursday: accidentally looking like a creep
Thursday
Accidentally looking like a creep because I didn’t realise there was someone in the water.

Friday: I expected more of you Hutt Council
Friday
Oh, City Council! I expected better of you.

Saturday: final show
Saturday
Sunshine and strange clouds before our final performance. Au revoir, Eastbourne.

Sunday: high tea
Sunday
High Tea at Hippopotamus to celebrate Mel’s birthday.

Monday: au revoir photo card
Monday
I finally said goodbye to my National Bank photo eftpos card and upgraded to an ANZ debit card.

Tuesday: census
Tuesday
Census! I kind of love the census. It’s like taking a test where you know all the answers.

Wednesday: accidental drunk
Wednesday
Catching up with former colleagues pretty well always leads to me getting untowardly drunk on a week night.

Thursday: blonde stranger outside the gallery
Thursday
Blonde stranger, blonde building, green sign, green grass.

Friday: brendan playing the accordian
Friday
Went to Daddy O’s to watch Brendan and Jesse play some excellent music.

Saturday: beautiful painting from Devon
Saturday
A beautiful watercolour by Devon Anna Smith.

&

Mussed jewellery

Oh, Twitter

Today I woke to a tweet advising me that it was my Twitter Anniversary. I’ve been using the damned, darling website for six whole years.
Six years and um 40,297 tweets.

It started with a ridiculous little tweet. And it kind of snowballed from there.

Twitter has been with me since before Craig and I moved to London, before all of our exciting travelling, before everything I consider to be when our life as a family actually began.

I’ve had to try, time and time again, to explain what it is that I love about Twitter. What on earth is it any good for? What’s the damn point? It’s difficult to answer because, really, there IS no point. And that’s kind of the point.
It’s quite like shouting into the void. But there are other people in the void shouting with you. Sometimes you pay attention to them and sometimes you don’t.
But the people who draw your attention are fabulous.

What has twitter given me? Nothing. And everything.
I mean, I’ve won art and clothes and cider and tickets, but that’s not it, really.
Excluding the fact that I now have an incredible record of the last six years of my life, I have met the majority of my most favourite people through Twitter. I have brilliant and beautiful friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have stayed in touch with friends on the opposite side of the world.

Really, I can’t fathom my life without it.

(obsessed with stingrays since aaages ago)

Easiest (Paleo) Pulled Pork … Ever.

See, here’s the thing, I’ve finished the show and still I haven’t quite managed to have a moment to breathe at all. The idea of fiddling with a week and a half worth of photos was just too too much to bear. So tonight you get a recipe for Pulled Pork.
The easiest (and, incidentally, Paleo-friendly) recipe I’ve ever seen.

Paleo Pulled Pork

Paleo Pulled Pork
Recipe by my friend Susan

Ingredients:
2kg pork shoulder. If you can, buy it on the bone for extra flavour.
3T of smoked paprika.
3T of salt
1T of dry mustard
1.5T of ground cumin

Cooking:
Combine all the spices and then massage into the pork shoulder.
Leave it in the fridge to marinate – if you can do it overnight that’s ideal, but at least for an hour or two.

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees then put the pork shoulder into the oven for 6 hours in a covered dish.

After 20 minutes, leave it to rest for 20ish mins. Then, with a fiendish amount of glee, get two forks and start shredding the meat. Do your best not to eat it all at this point. It smells and tastes divine.

It really, really does.