Santa, I know him! … and other Christmas New York tales

24 Dec

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On 34th Street is where we start this tale… all about a girl and a boy and a big shiny city called New York.

Now, they’d come here before – last time during a hurricane – and that hadn’t felt quite enough.

So they returned to do a re-do. But not for oh so terrifying Halloween this time… they came for Christmas instead, surely the weather would be less scary she said!

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And oh New York, you did not disappoint. Yes, it was colder, the days were shorter, and our cheeks were pink from the biting wind… but it was all rather wonderful all the same. Especially as we were treated to a glorious coral-pink-orange sunset every evening.

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And then there was this guy… now as much as I love Halloween, well, Christmas is Christmas. So there was Santa spotting to be done.

Turn a corner and all of a sudden, and you’ll find the red suited dude on motorbikes (NYC Santas have upgraded from reindeer). With Santa Claus is Coming to Town blasting out from somewhere. Obviously.

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But we couldn’t come all the way without meeting the real deal. Now watching Miracle on 34th Street had led me to believe that the actual big guy is to be found at Macy’s department store. So grinning – like the dweebs we are – we joined the queue to meet Santa…

What we’d expected was a big queue of kids that we could sneak past and get a quick snap – from afar. Instead, we turned a corner and an elf told us to ‘go this way’… and suddenly we were in a room – alone, well, us and elves – with Santa.

Still holding hands, we pressed ourselves against the back wall, possibly terrified, and had to be beckoned towards him.

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Which resulted in this awkward photo with the ‘real’ Santa… who clearly might not be the real Santa as…

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… as when the legends Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart met Santa at Macy’s too, that’s definitely another Santa. Shock. Horror! (Also they seem a whole lot more onboard with getting their picture taken than us it has to be said. Cooler than us!)

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That said, give me the Yeti from the Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas window… and I am this happy. (Yeah, I know I am soooo logical!)

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Essentially the window at Saks told the story of a Yeti who makes snow… who travels to New York. So far, so Elf.

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It was such a popular window that you had to queue to see it. Yes, queue to see a window! (We may have cheated and just taken these pictures over people’s heads!)

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As well as Santa (and Yeti) stalking, there was Christmas tree hunting to be done… so we went to see the Rockefeller Tree. Along with almost everyone else in New York. Nothing more festive that being crushed in a crowd of hundreds while looking at a big tree. Humans are weird when you think about it!

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And it is BIG… but then when you look at it next to the Rockefeller Center, it’s pretty teeny really.

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Instead my favourite Christmas tree of all was the one at the American Museum of National History with its origami decorations!

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Complete with origami dinosaurs… really, really, really wished they had ones to take away!

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I can’t have been the only one hoping for an extra huge tree though as these HUGE baubles prove.

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Imagine the size of the tree that would go with these lights! (I was a little happy to find these!)

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And when we weren’t tracking down all the Christmassy things… we were hanging out in Greenpoint and Brooklyn eating ALL the things.

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Like vegan hot dogs from the indoor version of the Williamsburg Smorgasburg… London can we have have some vegan hot dog places, please?

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Insanely sized and tasting pancakes that came with honeycomb butter (yes, honeycomb butter!) from Five Leaves

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Crazy good ramen burgers for him… so good he went back twice. Really wished they had a veggie version!

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And Cheese Pops for me… yes, a cheese plate on a stick. Still confused? See below.

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Choux pastry with amazing cheeses and mouth-watering toppings. Each one was better than the last.

I had to run back to the guy who sold me this and tell him just how fricking amazing it was.

Then I didn’t want to eat anything else in case it spoiled the memory of those cheese pops!

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And when we weren’t eating ALL the things… there was street art to spot and walls to rock.

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You know you’re in an area that’s cool with street art when you can do it when the police are so close by.

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Ok. Not entirely sure why ok = rarr in my book but apparently it does. Ok?

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A future record cover for a single that has not yet been recorded?

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Not a future record cover perhaps… but I get points for being exuberant. I may have just had a strong coffee. (Perhaps we can blame my new crazy ‘getting my photo taken’ style on my recent take-up of coffee?)

And of course no trip to New York is complete without the following:

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… a trip to the wonderful High Line. I’ve been now on sunny days and on crazy cold days, and it’s beautiful whichever way.

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… some theatre… and my second mention of the legends Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. We were lucky enough to see them in one of my favourite plays. As they’d you expect they were legen… wait for it… dary.

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… doing something totally random… and for us, this was going to a spelling bee. Yes, an actual spelling bee.

I have never felt so stupid in all my life. I knew two words out of everything from the whole night. (And one of them was a Scottish word ‘Strathspey’ so that was cheating!) However, it was very funny though – so many characters!

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… and doing something else really random… like driving a NYC bus…

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… and did I mention the random… isn’t this the best Christmas decoration ever? Love you NYC!

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So ah New York… you were big, you were shiny, you were busy, you were crazy…

You were colourful, you were exhausting, you were sparkly, you were full of calories…

And oh gosh you were rather damn lovely. So until next time…

Have a merry Christmas everyone… and if you see Santa, say hi from me. I know him. (Even if I am slightly scared of him!)

Flat rules… a teeny tour of our tiny home and its mottos

27 Nov

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Really we should have more practical rules for living in a small flat.

Like having less stuff, tidying more,
not leaving our shoes right at the door.

Food would be good, as opposed to empty
cupboards and only cheese in the fridge.

(Even if it is really good cheese.
Also: chocolate is not food.
The same goes for that jar of jalapenos.)

Oh we should.

But we don’t.

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Instead we have things like a Menu-festo.

Designed to remind us how we want to live ours lives… as opposed to how we should.

And to entirely justify spending whole days (and nights) out exploring London…

So, yeah, if you’re ‘daring to freestyle’ then the dishes can wait.

If you’re ‘dreaming bigger’ then socks can ball themselves.

Or that’s what I told myself when I was putting all the letters on the board!

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Other flat rules include…

No whining, no complaining, and no frowning
(if at least to avoid creating lots of forehead wrinkles).

Most of these rules apply at 6.30am/7am.
That’s my most likely time to whine, complain, frown
and be like a bear that’s just been woken up during hibernation.
(I do so love my sleep!)

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Elsewhere in our little abode… we have Mr Tiger (and some polka dots too), this amazing I Pretend To Work print (not true but we love it anyway) and a framed tea towel from one of my best friends.

All three things sum up one rule completely: try not to take things too seriously.

(While the #velveteencat is demonstrating the rule that all interior shots should have a cat or dog in them. Fact. Really just look at a copy of Elle Decoration or Living Etc and you’ll see what I mean.)

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This rule… taped to the inside of our front door.

Mainly because a certain not really a morning person needs to be reminded of such stuff.

Yes, life is good.

(Even if going back to bed seems like a better option.)

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Rule 6: No TV. Yes, really. We have no TV in London.

We left our old one in Edinburgh and then didn’t get another one.

But like all rules, this is made to be broken.

Instead we have a projector. So we can roll up this map,
and just project whatever we want to watch.

Which means the rule is really…

Rule 6: No bad TV. Only good TV and movies worth the effort of projecting!

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Coloured chalk in our letterpress tray…
because sometimes you just need a bit of colour. Or a piece of chalk.

A definite rule that one.

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Um, so this rule…

why be grey when you can be neon?

Maybe?

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This. Always this. I don’t think I laugh nearly enough.

Children apparently laugh 300 times a day.

Adults laugh around 20.

I’m aiming for somewhere inbetween…
without being that crazy, laughing by themselves person
everyone moves away from on the Tube!

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Second demonstration of the cat rule…

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Not a rule… but a reminder. Crafting is good for the soul. Even if most of it is too bad to share on here.

I recently started a daily sketchbook – like an illustrated diary – and it’s so nice to sit and scribble just for the fun of it. They don’t have to be good, they don’t have to be bad, they’re just for me to see which is pretty nice.

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And one last rule… ‘Home is wherever I’m with you’. (As blocked by the #foxowlcat!)

So many people ask us if we miss our old home.

And while I miss the floorboards, the sunsets, the fireplace…
where we are now feels like home because it is.

I’m here, he’s here and the two little furry fiends are here.
That’s everything we need. Everything that home is.
(Plus a few sideboards, prints and chairs of course!)

We’ll always have Paris… two days of street art and pretending to be Amelie

7 Oct

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On July 28 2013, 9.49 pm and 32 sec.
A blue fly of the Calliphorides species, 
Whose wings can flutter 14670 times per minute 
lands in Saint-Vincent Street, Montmartre.

At the exact same time, near the Eiffel Tower, 
a girl from Scotland stands amid a crowd of tourists, 
with the biggest grin, perhaps ever, on her face.

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Approximately 9 hours and 49 minutes and 32 seconds earlier...
She'd been drinking tea in her London flat, listening to the radio
And pondering what to do with today and two days off work...

"What about Paris?" This was her other half, making coffee,
And peering at his ipad with a slight smile on his lips...

Zoë raised an eyebrow, was he being serious? 
That small smile turned into a big grin...
Did she want to go? Mais bien sûr!

30 mins of frantic packing, random clothes chosen, 
A hotel booked in the 19th arrondissement...
A dash to the train station, for once on time...
The Underground behaving itself (it must have known)
And before you knew it, departure lounge.

		
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Zoë likes: impromptu visits to Paris... 
Going to the supermarche to buy French crisps... 
Saying merde just for the fun of it... 
And pretending to be Amelie for a day or two.

		
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Zoë does not like: windy days when wearing a flippy skirt. 
(This has now happened in Tokyo and San Francisco too. 
You think she would learn but no!)
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Her other half likes: buying a baguette to munch on throughout the day.
And picking up delicious baked goods, with comedy names.
"We got a divorce in Paris... and it was damn good".

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He does not like: that he slips into Spanish when ordering in French.
Je voudrais deux divorce por favor...

 
		
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Zoë likes finding street art in unexpected places. 
She especially likes this beautiful ones by Alexis Diaz 
(He did a very cool Elephant Octopus in London which she loves.)


		
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She also likes Rue Dénoyez – a much graffitied street in Belleville
Riots of colours, with layers and layers of art painted over art...
And at one end, Aux Folies... the perfect spot for a café au lait.
 
		
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And spotting space invaders by Invader...
High up on walls, perched on street signs, 
Some tiny, down by your feet...

		
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Some larger than life... just like Paris itself.
(Can you tell he lives in the City of Light?)
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In 2001, Zoë first saw a film about a French girl called Amelie, 
Who worked in a cafe called Cafe des deux Moulins...
 
		
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In 2013, Zoë first steps foot into that very cafe. 
There are no mad eccentric French characters, but... 
She does instantly fall in love with the tiled floor.
 
		
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She also likes: the Metro station that's in the film.
(But not so much the tourists crowded round about it.)

		
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And the Sacré-Coeur ... where Amelie leaves a treasure hunt 
Of sorts for the equally quirky lost boy she's in love with. 
(But not so much the tourists that are crowded round about it.)
 
		
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And likes the view... with all of Paris laid out before you.
(But not so much the tourists that are crowded round about it.)
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To escape the crowds,Zoë likes to visit the Louvre... 
(Only kidding. She came here to see the crowds.) 
That Mona Lisa lady sure gets everyone excited!
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So many people, more impatient than you'll find waiting 
On a train at the Metro station...
So there's fun to be had in standing still,
Just watching them all, hurrying, scowling, 
Underwhelmed by the art all around them.
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Some people are more easily entertained than others though...
Especially when they find a Marilyn Monroe vent in a museum.

		
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But even people pretending to be Amelie have their limits.
(This smile says I want to go home now. I have been defeated by The Louvre.)
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But this smile... is the pure joy of spotting gold dinosaurs
On the Champ Elysees. (Who are, ahem, better than the Mona Lisa.)

		
		Paris 2013 - 59
			
			
		
	

Zoë likes: returning to their weird but rather wonderful hotel 
Which has Batman masks (and other characters) over the lamps... 
Life is full of surprises is it not?
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"Luc, je suis ton pere."
Bet you didn't guess this post would end up with a Darth Vader mask!

*****
Today's October 7th, it's 9 o'clock in the evening
At the Trône Fair the marshmallow-mixing machine mixes marshmallow.
At the same moment, at the La Villette garden Félix L'Herbier discovers .
that the number of possible connections in a human brain 
is superior to the number of atoms in the universe. Meanwhile, 
at the foot of the Sacré-Coeur, the Benedictines work on their backhand.

At that exact moment, Zoë publishes this blog post and stops referring 
To herself in the third person, makes a cup of tea, switches on the radio 
And starts pondering what to do with her next days off work.

Idle of Wight… three days of caravans, kitsch and prehistoric creatures

31 Aug

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Almost a month ago, we went on a trip back to the Isle of Wight… to be the Idle of Wight.

In my head, it was an Enid Blyton little adventure for two… camping, exploring, stopping for lemonade!

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We hadn’t been back to the island since our mini moon… originally we said we’d go back on our first wedding anniversary, so we were at least a year overdue on our visit!

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Home for the 3 nights was a Vintage Vacations airstream again… definitely one of my ‘happy places’ in this world.

Give me a big tin can to stay in, a bbq, a deck chair and some retro Italian tunes (the only CD we played when there!) and I’m in heaven.

Oh yes, and a spot of sunshine doesn’t hurt either it has to be said…

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Of course, going back here has reignited my craving for a caravan…

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This little guy with his cat ear lights and jaunty name was possibly my favourite… though I’ve recently spotted a version of him outside someone’s house on my way to work! So apparently parking a caravan outside your abode is more do-able in London!

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Or even one of these… any will do if I’m being honest!

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(Evidence of happy place-ness: twirling until you get dizzy. I promise I am older than 5!)

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Here I also discovered my other new love… tiny blackcurrant Fabs, which are fab indeed. They came in a box of 12. I may have eaten more than my fair share!

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And then on to our Enid Blyton-style adventures… first to a Lavender Farm for lavender scones, cream, jam and tea, where I saw more bumblebees in about 5 minutes than I’ve seen all year long.

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I also discovered that taking pictures of bees isn’t the easiest thing… I have so many blurry shots of them bumbling about, and I kept having to move so I didn’t get stung (didn’t want to have a bumblebee’s death on my conscience!).

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Oh and some butterflies too… who were just happily fluttering around. Less stingy those!

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And then onto our next destination… believe it or not, this field is at a Garlic Farm!  (Yes, we were hitting all the farms that day!)

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Having a bit of a Sound of Music moment here… I may have sang. (But I did wait until there were less people around!)

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And even the garlic ice cream was rather nice too. (Garlicy in the way that salted caramel ice cream is salty if that helps explain it.)

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The next day we went to Ventnor… complete with deck chairs and authentic British pensioners…

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And pretty beach huts, angel wing shells, lots of dried seaweed…

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And of course dinosaur sand ‘castles’! (Accidental dinosaur hunting might still be a thing!)

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Then it was off to this tiny little place… which actually is a tiny little place!

Yes, we went to my first ever miniature village, which was very Hot Fuzz (without Timothy Dalton being speared by a small church spire of course).

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Knocking at a tiny door… and trying to spy if there was any furniture inside!

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Having a Godzilla moment and threatening to destroy the mini village… everyone does this right?

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And a train full of dinosaurs! I swear this was like this when I found it…

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This, on the other hand, was not like this when I found it…

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On the last day, we went to Seaview (it does what it says on the tin!) to swim in the sea… and idly talk about having a boat.

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Of course, I don’t really like boats but a girl can let the sea air go to her head!

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And before we got the ferry home, the trip ended as all mini trips should end… with a scone that’s almost bigger than your head.

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(And a happy biscuit just for good luck…)

A Jurassic lark… or dinosaur hunting in London

14 Jul

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“Any day with a dinosaur in it is a good day.”  me, circa June 2013

Our first sunny Wednesday evening in London, we decided to go dinosaur hunting…

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Not to the Natural History Museum – despite the highly possible inception by this print (and our gold dinos) – but to Crystal Palace Park.

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Where these misshapen beauties live. They were the first dinosaur sculptures in the world, meaning they look a bit like a 5 year old child’s drawing of a prehistoric creature, cast in stone. In the best way of course.

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They are wonky and wonderful… and can’t fail to make you smile.

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I mean really, these guys? He based these on frogs right?

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And I’ve been ‘forced’ to buy a tea towel with them on it… attacking joggers in the park of course.

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But not all of them are so “ferocious” looking… this one has been turned into a nest by a duck!13 - 1

And then we returned home… no more dinosaurs to hunt out.

Until we went to the Heron Tower for a drink and spotted, from up high, some familiar looking creatures at the bottom of the Gherkin.

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(He’s behind you… those stegosaurus types are always sneaking up on people!)

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Yes, there’s a T-Rex just hanging out there… doing his thing.

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And isn’t he possibly the happiest looking dino you’ve ever seen?

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Days later, I spotted this guy in Shoreditch… but surely this was the last of our ‘dinosaur hunting’ luck though?

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Then one night after work, we stopped for a coffee…

The first table we sat at was a bit grubby. Not majorly so, just someone else’s coffee cup, someone else’s crumbs… so we decided to move tables.

Crumb-free, cup-free… but with a tiny origami dinosaur on it.

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So we took him home… via the Tube…

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We named him Herbert. Because it just seemed like a suitable name.

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We took him on a couple of weekend journeys…

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Where he really liked looking out of the window…

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And romping in the long grass…

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And, erm, terrifying the locals. (Yeah, not so much!)

Since then, I’ve spotted no more dinos…

But seeing as I have a portable one now every day can be a good day as there’s a dino in it. 

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P.S. Any other London dinosaur spots/suggestions welcome!

P.P.S. Back in the ‘summer’ of 2012, I went to see a comedian called Bec Hill, who finished up her show with a piece on dinosaurs taking over London…

Maybe this is where my dino obsession started, or maybe it was because of this photo shoot, but either way it’s quite definitely a thing now!

 

London is the place for us… the blog post with its own theme tune

3 Jun

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Last Sunday, we were listening to 6 Music and having a discussion about living in London…

Mainly we were talking about that only one of us was living here full-time (me) and one of us was having to spend half the week in Edinburgh still (him).

It’s not exactly been ideal but we knew it wouldn’t be forever. It’s one of those topics that swings from excited to stressy and back again.

Then this song came on the radio – London is the place for me.

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And we both agreed it should be our theme tune for the next while.

(Does anyone else ascribe themselves theme tunes?!)

It’s such a cheerful little ditty, that we’ve been playing it non-stop all week.

So here’s the lyrics plus some random snaps that almost, sort of fit with them in a not really kind of way!

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London Is The Place For Me

London this lovely city
You can go to France or America, India, Asia or Australia
But you must come back to London City

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Well, believe me, I am speaking broad-mindedly
I am glad to know my mother country
I’ve been to traveling to countries years ago
But this the place I wanted to know

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London That’s The Place For Me

To live in London you really comfortable
Because the English people are very much sociable
They take you here and they take you there
And they make you feel like a millionaire
So London that’s the place for me

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At night when you have nothing to do
You can take a walk down Chapri Avenue
There you will love and talk and enjoy the bridge
And admire the beautiful sceneries
Of London, that’s the place for me

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London That’s The Place For Me

Yes, I can not complain of the time I have spend
I mean, my life in London is really magnificent
I have every comfort and every sport
And my residence is that Hampton Court
So London, that’s the place for me

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And the happy ending to this post… yes, the other half got offered a new job (in London) so London really is the place for us!

 

1. Snapped in Drink, Shop & Do 2. Skyline from the National Theatre’s pop-up bar 3. Pocket Pops London guide and gold dinosaur 4. Foxes and cherries in Brixton 5. Tiny London skyline street art spotted in Shoreditch 6. Dapper gable end in Deptford 7. Pocket Pops London guide 8. Possibly my favourite street art ever, snapped in Shoreditch (but gone now!) 

Gonna write another travelling song… 6 weeks of London, Edinburgh, Aviemore, Dublin and San Francisco

12 May

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 6 weeks ago, I moved to London. It seems like no time at all and like forever all at once.

To put it all in perspective (for my own sanity really), here’s the last 42 days in numbers…

  • 400 miles driven to London, with 30 boxes, 2 sideboards, 2 Parker Knoll chairs, 3 suitcases of vintage china.
  • 2 cats transported; number of times they yowled/objected, only 2.
  • 1 flat, left behind, all empty, ready for someone else. 1 flat found, so very different, but falling in love with it anyway.
  • 13,226 miles travelled back to Edinburgh, to Aviemore, to Dublin and, eh, San Francisco. (Yeah, spot the odd one out there.)
  • 55 Underground journeys, 84 Overground journeys, 36 normal trains, 1 boat ride down the Thames and 1 bus journey.
  • 2 weddings attended, 
  • 3 books read on my morning commute, only 1 one of which made me tearful in front of a carriage of people. (Note to self, sad books are not for reading in public.)
  • 28 days without a bed, 42 days without a wardrobe, 41 days without a mirror in the flat, 41 days where I’ve had potentially crazy hair or wonky eyeliner. 
  • 28 days without wifi, spotify, netflix. 42 days without blogging, the longest break I’ve had in 4 years. 
  • 1 day wearing a fake fur coat; 3 days wearing sunglasses and sunscreen; 38 days wearing summer clothes with black tights and winter boots.
  • 1283 photos snapped, 96 of street art, 9 of random neighbourhood cats, 6 of our local fox.
  • 36 hours spent catching up with old friends, 149 hours meeting fantastic new people.
  • Number of times it’s felt odd living in London: 0. 

And for those who prefer pictures to numbers (that’ll be me then), here’s some random snaps of the last 6 weeks.

adventure guide

Adventure Guide…

  neon legs

My neon legs at the Meridian Line…

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 San Francisco… and my shockingly long hair

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The shadow of The Shard on a sunny morning…

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I read a story about the widow of the actor who was the voice of the ‘Mind The Gap’ announcement… one of those beautiful, bittersweet ‘Up’ style stories that makes you smile and sad at the same time.

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 San Fran street art… and the Google bike (which I fell in love with)

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InstaMax photos of a epically beautiful wedding

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The London Eye snapped from the middle of the Thames (I was on a boat!)

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Blossom and blue skies in San Fran

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Mountains and blue skies in the Highlands

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Falling in love with a lamb at the Southbank, London

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Two cats leaving Edinburgh…

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Snapping street art in San Fran…

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Waiting in the Tube…

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Bittersweet street art…

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Positive advertising…

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The sun setting on a glorious London day…

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Our first new home card…

P.S. If you’ve been so lovely as to send me a message about meeting for tea/vintage shopping/general hello-ness, I’ll be replying soon!

P.P.S. Extra points if you recognised the title of this blog post was inspired by Bright Eyes’ Another Travelin’ Song. It’s been stuck in my head now for 3 days straight!

P.P.P.S. Photos of me in San Fran by Miss_Glassy.

London’s calling… 4 sleeps, 40 boxes and so, so, so much sorting to go

25 Mar

adore.. conversation pieces blog

So, yes. We’re moving. To London. On Friday. This Friday. In three days and four sleeps. Eeeeek!

packing... conversation pieces blog

The last while has mainly consisted of this…

1. Sorting out 6.5 years of interior design magazines. Why? Why did I have so many? I think my local dentist and doctor are fed up of me turning up to donate magazines now.

2. Packing really sensible, totally essential things like my vintage tin globes.

3. More packing… The rule is anything we ‘quite like’ isn’t coming. We have to love it. Again this explains why I’ve mainly packed prints, globes and books so far!

4. Doing so much clearing out, dropping off at charity shops, gifting things to friends. And regretting having a top floor flat with every box we carry down!

cat in a box... conversation pieces blog

Some members of our flat have really enjoyed the packing process… mainly the Velveteen Cat. As seen here with her favourite cook books.

likes boxes, doesn't like boxes - conversation pieces blog

The Fox-Owl-Cat has been less of a fan. (She has a crippling fear of boxes. Like my fear of clowns but box-shaped.)

foxowlcat vs bubble wrap - conversation pieces blog

She’s also not a fan of the copious amounts of bubble wrap that have appeared around our flat lately. This roll did not pass the examination process.

do i... conversation pieces blog

Me… I’m looking forward to being moved and having a kitchen again, instead of things waiting to be packed.

And while I’ll miss our home here (we’re renting it out rather than selling it), I’m super excited about getting to make a new place home. I’m weird like that I guess!

gold... conversation pieces blog

And the good news is… that we have found ourselves a flat down there. For us and our two furry companions.

We found it on Saturday which was cutting it a bit close but hey we like to keep things exciting!

(I must admit finding a flat was a whole lot more difficult than I’d imagined it would be. Even with my little sis doing viewings for us, which was extremely helpful… as trying to pick a flat to rent in London, while you live in Edinburgh and have cats, was a bit tricky!)

belle adventure... conversation pieces blog

So… in 4 days, we start our new adventure. I’m excited, impatient and sort of nervous, in that weird can’t sit still way. (You think this would help with the packing of boxes but no!)

The drive to London with two cats is going to be ‘interesting’ I’m sure, but it’ll make for a funny story hopefully later on.

Then in 5/6 days, if any lovely Londoners fancy a cuppa, well, that will be infinitely more do-able!

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