Monday, 31 August 2009

Wherefore art thou, Burger?

Hubbie and T have the unfortunate condition of being hamburger lovers. We also have a strong conviction that hamburgers need to be accompanied by a side of fries and a really thick milkshake. This belief wreaks havoc on our waistlines and cholesterol levels, but it sure makes us happy.

Just recently Traveller was given a hot tip of a new hamburger joint in North London. It is an American diner with diner-style food. So good. T would even go so far as to say that it was the best burger she has had in Britain - and that's saying something. We also had our first proper American shake (in London) there. Chocolate and peanut butter. Yum!

Traveller really wants to go back, but knows she should wait a couple of weeks. Or, at the very least, a few days.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A splash of sea water

When Traveller wrote in a recent post that she would like her mum to bring a splash of sea water and a bottle of sand, she wasn't quite being literal. Imagine her surprise when her mum managed to smuggle in a bottle of sand and sea water from her home in Australia. It even has a little shell inside it!

Apparently, Traveller's dad read the post, and made his way down to the beach, to make sure T received what she really wanted. Aw, thanks Dad!

Traveller loves and misses the beach so much. There really is nothing like it.

It also brings back lovely reminders of her and hubbie's wedding day.

photo of wedding by Adam Weathered

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Red tights make me happy

Traveller bought some new tights for fall!

She loves them.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Te Quiero Wahaca

Traveller is lucky enough to have had two big visits in the last week; first it was her American parents, and now her mum has dropped in from down under to visit the new addition.

Today the girls went to Westfield at Shepherd's Bush to celebrate! The great thing about this new shopping centre in London is that it boasts many lovely restaurants and eateries. While we were there, Traveller, her mother and her lovely sister-in-law went to dine at one of T's favourite restaurants in London - Wahaca.

Wahaca are famous for their Mexican street food and their unique dishes and flavours. It is delicious! The best part about the street food is it comes sort of like tapas, so you can share it around between friends.
So yummy.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

D'ya think the boys will mind?

So........ Traveller may have gotten a little carried away today.

Unbelievably, T's nine weeks of school holidays are almost over. So, she went into school today to fix up the classroom a little and get organised.

T teaches at an Independent boys' prep school in North London. A prep school is a school where children aged 4 - 13 years attend - in preparation for their secondary schools. The boys sit many important examinations in Form VI (Grade Eight) and this determines what kind of school they will attend from Grade Nine onwards. The boys work really hard and T genuinely enjoys working there.

Today, in a flight of fancy, Traveller decided to make all of the English display boards (in the school) pink! It sure makes her feel cheery, but she's not sure what the boys are going to think.
Hubbie has suggested that making pictures of robots and putting them up would have resulted in a more enthusiastic reaction.

Wisdom that came five hours too late.

What do the boy readers think? .... Pretty?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Can I have S'more?

When Mom & Dad Stuart asked Traveller what to bring as a gift for hubbie, T could only think of one thing. Food. They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach; this was never more true than for T's hubbie. T asked hubs specifically what he might like, and she was right; the first thing to come out of his mouth was, 'the ingredients for S'mores, please'.

So, true to their word, the Stuarts lugged graham crackers, marshmallows, and hershey bars across the pond. As a result, we made them right in our apartment with the help of Mom Stuart.

Traveller can honestly say that there is nothing more fun than toasting marshmallows on a gas stove!


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

First Stop: The Spaniards Inn

Firstly - Traveller will just say the obvious - having Mom & Dad Stuart here was wonderful.

We had many great chats, some lovely meals, some fun touristy journeys through London and a visit to our church. It went by way too quickly, and did result in some tears at the end, but T sure is happy that it happened.

But before T starts weeping on her keyboard, she is going to tell you about the restaurant that we just had to take them to.

The restaurant is called The Spaniards Inn and it is found right near beautiful Hampstead Heath. The Inn was built around 1585, and the upstairs room, where we ate, is exactly as it was then. Amazing! The floors are slopey, the ceiling is low, the glass in the windows is hand-blown and most of the floors and walls are wooden. It is so atmospheric that T imagines if you were left there alone in the middle of the night, you would probably start to feel a little jittery.

The best part about the Spaniards Inn is that it has so much history. Apparently a famous highwayman - Dick Turpin - used to stay there. A highwayman is a robber who travelled on the road and said cool things like, 'Money or your life!' The pub is mentioned in Pickwick Papers by Dickens and Stoker's Dracula. Also, it was frequented by famous Brits like Keats, Byron and Shelley.

We travelled there by taxi as well, which is always a treat, as British cab drivers are so knowledgeable.
We had a wonderful evening, which was made that way by good food, good wine and great conversation. And well, The Spaniards Inn was just a bonus.

There are no photos of the food because, as usual, Traveller was way too excited to think about taking a photo - and just dove right in!

Very ladylike.


Yes, it is tremendously difficult to get a photo of husband without a face like that.

photo of spaniards inn via flickr

Friday, 21 August 2009

A sign of nervous excitement... empty packet of peanut m & m's. I can't resist!

Traveller has been waiting for today for quite some time.

Some days T wakes up and can't even believe that she is closer to her 30's than her 20's. Quite a bit closer. So many experiences have been had, but she really doesn't feel a day older than when she was eighteen. T can't comprehend that a whole decade has passed since she was an exchange student in beautiful Gold Beach, Oregon.

Today, one of her exchange families is coming to stay with her and hubs in London. Oh, the butterflies are starting! They arrive in four hours, and T can't help wondering and remembering about all that has happened in the past 10 years. There has been a university degree, an engagement, a wedding, the meeting of a best friend, four years of teaching, a first house, a move to London, lots of travelling and so many more beautiful and wonderful milestones.

How do you catch up on all of that in less than a week?!

T's family that are visiting were her third and final family in her exchange year. They are Mom & Dad Stuart.

Traveller's last visual memory of them is tear-stained - having cried for the last hour with them, and then the next eight hours on her flight from coos bay to Portland, and then Portland to San Francisco. {Australia seems a very long way away from America to an 18-year-old.}

T can't wait to meet with them again, and for them to meet husband.

He's a little nervous, too.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Traveller has learned a thing or two...

This summer, it was Traveller's aim to learn a few things before school went back. Nothing too academic of course but, you know, things to get you by in life. One of the domestic skills T learnt was 'how to grow salad'. Impressive!

It was T's sister-in-law who inspired her. In her little North London backyard, she has managed to grow aubergines, tomatoes, herbs, apples, courgettes, salad, beetroot and carrots! She gave Traveller an old plastic box to get started (cause our garden is actually our balcony).

What T did to get started:

1. Put holes in the bottom of the plastic box with a screwdriver.
2. Purchased rocks for the bottom, organic soil, rocket & mixed salad seeds.
3. Put the rocks and soil into the box (in the amount required on the seed packet).
4. Watered the soil well.
5. Planted the rocket in a line, 3cm apart.
6. Planted the mixed leaves in a line (20cm width from the rocket), 3cm apart.
7. Covered the seeds with a little soil.
8. Voila!
And now, only 5 days later, there are already shoots coming through!

Truthfully, is T a nerd to be so excited? She seriously can't wait to eat home-grown salad!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Our new favourite place in London

Traveller and hubbie never get tired of the beautiful buildings in London. They have so much history.

Our new favourite is the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill.

It opened as a Victorian theatre in 1898 and today is a different kind of theatre, feeding film to the people of North London. You might remember the cinema from the scene in the film 'Notting Hill' where Hugh Grant is wearing prescription diving goggles, because he can't find his glasses.

Anyway, on Tuesdays they have half price day, where you can see a new release film for £3.50! Bargain!

T and hubbie saw 'Time Traveller's Wife' there last night and, seriously, nothing beats seeing a movie in that cinema. It has such character and atmosphere.

photo by flickr, flickr & flickr

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The 'Waiting for the Tube' Dance

Flattie took a phone video of T dancing on our way to the farmers' markets on Sunday. Ahh, the things you do when there isn't anyone on the platform.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Traveller knows it's a little crass, but... she experienced her first trip to the loo, in the middle of a race!

Having expressed her concern for this particular moment, Traveller knew that it would have to happen eventually.

One thing that she learnt from the experience is: as soon as you need to go (or even think you need to go), go to the first bathroom you see!

The Nike Running Club has three courses: a 3, 4 and 7 mile course that each run through or around Regent's Park. The 7 mile course is two laps around the park and running around the outer circle means that there aren't many loos around. So, running past one (because she thought she could make it) was a very silly decision indeed! Two miles later (and in much discomfort), T remembered the position of another loo, and made her way inside the park.

The good news was that it only took about 3-4 minutes off her time, and it wouldn't have taken that if it wasn't so far off course!

The morale of this awkward tale: sometimes you just need to go and if you do, go as soon as you can - otherwise it can all end in tears (or stomach pains!).

photo via flickr

Friday, 14 August 2009

Mum, when you visit...

please could you bring:

a day of sunshine
a cuddle from each niece and nephew
a bottle of sand
a freshly ripened mango
a chat with a sibling
a plate of the ramsay's bbq food - prawns please!
a splash of sea water
a burrito from los hombres
a bowl of your fruit salad
my polaroid camera from a box somewhere in our garage
a ruffle of my hair from dad
a bucket of ramsay madness and laughter

a swing on our hammock


a big hug from you!

Oh, and all the strawberry freddos, cherry ripes, jars of promite, allen's lollies, tim tams and chicken twisties you can muster!


photo via flickr

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A little bit of luxury...

Traveller and running friend set aside one day in T's school holidays to really treat themselves (they do run a lot!). So this week, they headed off to a Georgian mansion in Kent to have a spa day.

As Kent is only around 40 minutes travel from London by train, it didn't take long before we had switched the city clothes for a robe and slippers, and enjoyed our first treatment. Now, before you think we were being really relaxed with our budget, let it be known that T found a super deal on - 2 for price of 1! This meant that Traveller could relax without stressing about the bank balance. Bliss!

We each received a neck, shoulder and back massage; a salt body scrub or a facial and a manicure or a pedicure. The best part about the spa, aside from the treatments, were the other facilities. There was a relaxing room, where you could read the lastest magazines and recline on super comfy chairs; there was a room with endless tea, drinks and water; and there was also a squash court, a tennis court, a gym (with classes), a pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and a steam room!

T and running friend stayed all day and, quite simply, could have stayed forever.
The feet (post-pedi)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Living it up at the Lido

Now despite the clouds, the sun did make a steady appearance in Londontown this past Sunday. As soon as Traveller took her weekly trip to the farmers' markets, she knew it was time for some Lido-action. Now, for those of you not in the know, Lido is the term in the UK for swimming pool or a part of a beach where you can swim. As the weather has been not as summery as she would have hoped, T knew that she had to make the most of the opportunity to put swimmers on and hit the pool!

Hubbie was hard-at-work studying again, so Traveller went with running friend to the Lido in Hampstead Heath. While many Australians will gasp at the entry price (£4.30!) - let it be known, it was well worth it!

Some days you just need a swim.

It was a glorious day, and was finished with a late-afternoon picnic on Primrose Hill

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

All things free and beautiful...

Traveller can't resist filling you in on another free thing she was able to do in the Capital. Filled in by her flattie, T learned that Nokia were hosting a free roller-skating night near Tower Bridge. You just had to sign up online beforehand and you were given free skate-hire and rink time for an hour, while a DJ played in the background.


T hasn't roller-skated since she received her first roller-blades at around 10-years-old. After getting a group together during the week, it ended up that there were ten of us going to hit the rink.

It was a beautiful night and it was finished well by having dinner at the close-by Cantina del Ponte - one of T's favourite Italian restaurants.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Double the Fun

Last Friday night, Traveller, hubbie and their old and new flatties went to Summer Screen at Somerset House. Now if you've been reading this blog for a while you may remember us going to the same event last year. Well, this year was a completely different experience! Last year: it rained, it poured and it rained some more. This year: sunny, sunny and then a gorgeous moon and star-lit evening. T doesn't think she has seen the stars since last being home in Australia (or perhaps she just isn't observant) but, whatever the case, it was lovely to see an almost full moon and some shooting stars!

Summer Screen at Somerset House is exactly what it sounds like; watching films at the ever-beautiful Somerset House. This year we were in for a real treat - we were watching a double bill of Cool Hand Luke (with the late and ever-so-dreamy Paul Newman) and Road House (a movie deemed so bad that it's actually really good!).

The gates opened at 7pm and Londoners from far and wide brought in their picnic blankets and their picnic food and enjoyed the atmosphere while a DJ played movie music (old and new). While the ticket prices are not like those of the Scoop, the atmosphere is incomparable. When the DJ played 'Born to Hand Jive' - crowd members were up on their feet and 'hand jiving' just like Sandy and Danny.

T loved Cool Hand Luke. It is one of those really classic films with a wonderful storyline, great acting and some really famous scenes - the best one being where Luke (Newman's character) eats 50 eggs in a one hour sitting. And, let's face it, Newman has more charisma than most actors on the screen today. It was magic!

Road House was an entirely different story. While Patrick Swayze can dance and Road House confirmed he can fight (and perform strange martial arts moves by the river), his acting is somewhat limited. T has to admit though, that he probably did his best with an outrageous and far-fetched script. This is where the atmosphere kicked in. The entire audience, who had been completely silent for Cool Hand Luke, were now letting loose. Everybody seemed to be very familiar with the film and were whooping when they knew their favourite scene was coming. They were even shouting out the names of the characters after particularly funny or violent scenes: 'Come on, Dalton!' or 'Here comes Wade Garrett!' This made for a very entertaining viewing of a classic 80s film which was so bad that it was, indeed, good.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Traveller can't sleep.

It's 11:30pm and while that doesn't sound late, T would really like to go to sleep now. Please? For the last few days she has been battling some weird head cold and, as a result, had a late afternoon nap this afternoon. This type of behaviour is usually fine when one has a cold, but T is (hopefully) coming to the end of it, and as a result, apparently didn't need all the extra sleep.

While she was trying to sleep, T realised that it's only four weeks until school starts again. That means she has already had about five week's holiday! As Traveller started to think about school, the familiar classroom-anxiety set in.

T is not ready to become teacher again. But she has to be. She has to get ready. Ready for the year to come. There are units to plan, books to read, plays to find and a new interactive whiteboard (yay!) to become familiar with.

There is something really beautiful about teacher's holidays though, especially over the summer. You get to become you again. No need to think about reports, marking, lesson planning, production schedules, or costumes for the latest play - time to do whatever you want.

T had things that she really wanted to do over the holidays. Perhaps if she makes a list - they will happen?

Here goes...

1. Take a cooking class of some kind.
2. Learn something new.
3. Read at least 10 novels.
4. Plant some herbs or salad.
5.Visit the Imperial War Museum.
6. Go somewhere new in London. Each week.

Well, there's a start. Now here's to hoping her cold vanishes by the morning, so that T can get started!

Anyone have any ideas of what Traveller could learn? She is thinking of something in the line of photography, cooking, writing, teaching; ideas are welcome!

photo by flickr

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Some crackin' cards

Traveller and hubs love these playing cards by English illustrator, Simon Drew. The whole set has a different illustration on each card - endless amounts of entertainment!

T bought these for husband on a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon. As hubbie is so into games and is forever coming up with silly puns, they were the perfect gift!

Sometimes when we are bored...

...we play this.

Hubby, along with being a fuzzy's grub pusher, is the keenest board-game player on the planet! As soon as we have anything resembling a group at our flat, he's the first to bring up the possibility of playing a game. Luckily, our lovely flatties are very obliging to hubbie's passion and will quite often play with us.

We currently have two games that are doing the rounds, 'Settlers of Catan' and 'Carcassonne'. These are two strategy games of building roads and houses, where if you gain more points than your opponents - you win!

Unfortunately, in all of his exuberance, Hubbie usually wins. There is the odd occasion where someone else wins and it results in a highly energetic happy dance because we are so used to him winning all the time. T thinks this is a throwback to his childhood where he and his brothers would play all sorts of strategy games, like Risk and Democracy, with their dad.

Hubbie is actually going, tonight, to a pub in London where they play boardgames from 5pm till late every Wednesday. Needless to say, he is very excited to find some gamers who are more up to his speed!


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