25 August 2014

three seasons in one weekend - the English seaside

Sometimes you just need an extra day to recover from a busy week at work, and for me this Bank Holiday weekend was very well timed. I'm feeling pretty relaxed this evening.

Hubby and I rented a seaside house in Hastings for the weekend. It was lovely. A whole cupboard full of tea, a fridge full of New Zealand wine, and a view I could wake up to every day and never tire of. (More to come on our seaside adventure soon.)

The UK's weather has been a bit changeable recently, and this weekend was no exception. Three seasons in three days I tell you...

Hastings seaside - England
Hastings, day 1

Saturday - day 1 - we arrived at the seaside mid morning and the weather was just okay. Not hot, not cold, rather cloudy. A taste of autumn to come I think. We spent the day strolling along the promenade, exploring Hastings old town and café hopping until dusk.

Hastings seaside - England
Hastings, day 2

Sunday - day 2 - was hot, hot, hot. I'm talking about t-shirts and shorts, ice-cream and sunscreen weather! We went for a hot sweaty run, and then rewarded ourselves with a lie of the beach followed by ice-cream and cold beer.

Hastings seaside - England
Hastings, day 3

Monday - day 3 - we woke up and it was stormy outside! Rain lashing against the windows, waves crashing, wind howling. The few brave people we saw outdoors were struggling with inside out umbrellas and didn't look too happy. We decided to stay indoors with a pot of tea and some reading material. There's nothing like snuggling up inside on a day when you would normally be at work...

How was your bank holiday weekend?

23 August 2014

racing for life to beat cancer

Every year that I've lived in London I've taken part in Race for Life - a charity run for woman that takes place in parks all over the country over a series of weekends to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Race for Life is in fact the largest woman-only fundraising event in the UK, and every year thousands of woman show their support by donning themselves in 'beautiful pink' and either running or walking a 5km or 10km distance, all in the name of beating cancer.

Race for Life 2013 - Hampstead Heath

In my time in London I've run the 5km events in Regents Park, Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park. And this year I summoned up the courage to complete the 10km Hyde Park event...

... I always love the atmosphere of Race for Life. Everyone that attends, the woman who are racing and their supporters (husbands, family, children, friends, colleagues) are there because they really want to be, and it means something. Pretty much these days I think it's hard to find anyone who's life hasn't been effected by cancer in some way, whether they've been diagnosed themselves or have a family member or friend that has.

You see cancer survivors running the course - how inspiring!

And all in the name of raising money to aid the research we need to one day beat cancer for good.

Race for Life 2014 - Hyde Park

Me? I run for my grandmother, and mother-in-law. And I'll run again next year too.

In fact, you can already sign up for 2015 Race for Life now (and get a early-bird discount I believe), so why not?

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone.

21 August 2014

a fishy morning at Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo

dawn fades as ice melts
nose, eyes and ears filled with fish
sushi for breakfast?

Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場), better known outside of Japan as Tokyo's Central Wholesale Fish Market has been on my Japan must see list for years. So much to hubby's dismay (he doesn't eat or like seafood) I dragged him out of bed at the crack of dawn while we were in Tokyo to finally see Tsukiji with my very own eyes...

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

... and what I found was seafood as far as the eye could see of the never-ending variety, and a industrious, brisk atmosphere filled with scooters, trucks and people going about their daily business...

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
walking though the narrow lanes of the inner market

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

Tsukiji Market is one of the world's largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day. It is made up of a inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions take place, and a outer market whose retail shops carter to the general public. You can also buy the freshest sushi in the world here.

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
a fish blood bath

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
squid in its own black ink

Sadly, we didn't go to the Tuna Auction - numbers are limited to just 120 tourists a day, and if you want to get a spot this involves arriving at at 4:30am just to register. Needless to say hubby wasn't keen...

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
tuna for sale

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

... we did however wander all around the wholesale area, which was full of hundreds of fish stands, buyers and sellers hurrying along the narrow lanes with their carts and trucks, yelling at any tourists who dared to cross their paths.

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

The smell was incredible - super fresh. And despite the blood I worked up an appetite so we left the inner market in search of food...

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
the busy ring road that circles the inner market - watch out!

Inside Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

The outer area of Tsukiji Fish Market consists of several blocks of small retail shops and restaurants along bustling, narrow streets where tourists and locals alike go about their food shopping business.

The outer market - Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
the outer market area

And what is the best breakfast of them all? Why sushi of course...

Sushi at the outer market - Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

While wandering around I also spotted edamame still on the plant, something I've never seen before.

The outer market - Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan

All in all, a great morning out and some of the best people watching and sushi I've had in years.

If you're in Tokyo and want to visit Tsukiji Market it's fairly easy to get to on the Oedo Subway Line. If you want to see the Tuna auction make sure you get there early! Or if you only want to explore the inner market like we did aim to arrive at 9am when it opens to tourists so you get some time to really experience the atmosphere before it quietens down.

Early morning sushi = happiness.

18 August 2014

tag, you're it - Liebster Blogging Award

I've been favoured by three lovely bloggers in recent months for the Liebster Blogging Award - thanks Jessi, Anna and Laura. So today I've decided to spill the beans (well some of them) on my travel ambitions, blogging and me. I've chosen a few questions from each of my nominators to answer. So here we go...

Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
Honestly? I just needed a creative outlet that was separate from my work and thought blogging would be a great way to record my travel, wedding and life experiences. When I stated I had no idea how involved and time consuming blogging can be!

2. Name three things that are on your bucket list?
i) Children (though not yet mum - don't get too excited!)
ii) Buy and own a property one day
iii) A cat (living in London and travelling means pets are a no go).

3. Favourite country you have travelled to?
Duh - Japan!
Though my favourites include New Zealand (home), Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, Greece and Spain. Basically I love the world.

4. Where are the top three spots on your travel wish list?
i) Egypt. I dream of the Pyramids. 
ii) China - this will be my next big trip, 6-months backpacking, can't hardly wait.
iii) Brazil - for the Olympics, oh yea!

5. First place you travelled to alone?
Aside from trips within New Zealand and Australia - which I don't think count, my first solo trip was to America, San Francisco upon finishing my university degree. I was 21 and determined, found a dodgy apartment on Craig's List in the Tenderloin district and off I went. It was scary, crazy and amazing all in one! I stayed in San Francisco for about four months and then backpacked alone through the California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and then up the East Coast. Needless to say this is when I swallowed the travel bug. 

6. If you could choose a second nationality what would you choose?
This is a really hard one. Being a kiwi I have easy access to New Zealand and Australia already. I've also been in the UK for five years and will soon be able to apply for permanent residency, which also opens up Europe. Naturally I next want to say Japan, but I'm a realist and know I'll never have the language skills I need to be able to work in the capacity that I would want to in Japan. So in summary - America. I work in technology. Silicon Valley is my dream. Plus Americans are so friendly!

7. Favourite travel quote?
I don't have one. I do try and live by the saying 'be the change you want to see'.

8. What was the last song you listened to?
Paper Aeroplane by Angus & Julia Stone.

9. Your five favourite things in life?
In no particular order...
i) being in love
ii) learning
iii) feeling the sun on my face
iv) the excitement of arriving somewhere new
v) reminiscing and telling stories with my family and friends

10. Where are you off to next?
Over the next month I have a few trips booked in:
i) A beach escape in the UK
ii) Belgium with my parents
iii) Seville, Spain for the famous flamenco festival
That's it! Hope you enjoyed.

To share the Liebster love I'm nominating five of my newest readers. All you guys have to do is answer the same questions above and then pass on the Liebster torch to any blogs you like with less than 300 followers...
Thanks for following and reading you lovely people!

16 August 2014

enchanting Edinburgh - Scotland

I thought since I shared my recent adventure to Glasgow with you last week I would continue with the Scotland theme today and tell you about the time I went to enchanting Edinburgh with my Mum, who was visiting from New Zealand.

This was back in 2012, prior to my getting married and we decided to have a long weekend in the Scottish capital to sightsee, get in some girl time, and most importantly wedding dress shop! Now don't worry - this is not a wedding post. In between dress shopping we walked all over this enchanting city, and ticked all my key travel boxes - culture, food, architecture, history, shopping, cake :)

So without further ado - here are my top eight Edinburgh highlights....

1. Shopping on Victoria Street - in the Old Town of Edinburgh
Not only is this street incredibly beautiful with it's elegant curve and historic architecture but the selection of boutique shops just waiting to be browsed is mighty fine.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Victoria Street, Edinburgh

2. Eating haggis for the first time - and actually loving it!
Okay, so I know this looks like quite posh haggis, but I loved the peppery, meaty flavour and texture. And when finished off with creamy mash and a whiskey sauce - what's not to like?

My first taste of haggis, Scotland
my first taste of haggis

3. Going on a scary night time ghost tour
Cliché, yes. Fun, yes yes! I'm not normally one for tours but this was great fun, we got to see some areas of the city I wouldn't have found myself, and we learnt a whole lot of freaky history along the way.

4. Visiting the Forth Bridge
The Forth Bridge is a railway bridge over the Firth of Forth 14 kilometres west of Edinburgh. It spans a total length of 2,528.7 metres (8,296 feet). It's construction began in 1883 and took 7 years to complete. My great grandfather was one of the engineers that worked on the Forth Bridge in his early 20s before he emigrated to New Zealand, and my mum grew up with stories from her dad about her grandfather that worked on this impressive structure. It was pretty amazing for both of us to finally see the Forth Bridge in person.

Forth Bridge, Scotland
Forth Bridge, Scotland

5. Indulging in flat whites galore
Edinburgh has a great independent café culture and most cafés do actually know what a flat white is. Hallelujah!

Flat white - Edinburgh
flat white - amazing!

6. And speaking of cafés - visiting The Elephant House
The Elephant House was made famous as the spot where J.K. Rowling sat, dreamed up and wrote the Harry Potter series overlooking Edinburgh Castle. Can you see the castle through the window?

The Elephant House café in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter
The Elephant House café in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter

7. Visiting Edinburgh Castle
Sitting high above Edinburgh city sits Edinburgh Castle on its great rock. Definitely make this the one attraction you do visit while in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle has a varied and colourful history. Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty has lived and died within its walls, and numerous generations have been and inspired by it.

8. Amazing cupcakes at Cuckoo's Bakery
Recommended by the lovely Zoë from Conversation Pieces. I may have been wedding dress shopping but it was impossible to say no to this cupcake perfection. Next time you're in Edinburgh make sure you stop by.

Cuckoo's Bakery - Edinburgh
cupcake from Cuckoo's Bakery

Have a great weekend everyone.
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