Ally Pally boating adventure

At the end of the my last blog post, my parents and I were full of food from my birthday picnic. We decided some adventuring was in order, and made our way up to Alexandra Palace for a walk and a jaunt on the boating lake.

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Actually, first we found the bar in Ally Pally and had a few drinks admiring the view!

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“Stand closer together.. no, not that close, you can’t see the view.. no not that far apart either..” – family photos are the best. We took heaps more with us and the view, but the breeze turned my hair into a beehive, so I won’t be sharing them.

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Best parents.

My mama had been suffering from some knee problems (she explained to me what it is, but in Polish, and for the life of me I dunno what it is in English) so when we decided to go boating (pedalo-ing?), my dad and I said we’d pedal and mama would sit in the back and admire the view.

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We hopped into our car-shaped boat, and started pedalling with great gusto… aaaand about 10 seconds later realised how much bloody effort it was.

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The boating lake is small but cute, with an island in the middle for the ducks. When I was a kid, I loved water (I still do!) and ducks – and with my little toddler Geordie accent, would shout at the site of a duck – “dooook!”. Geordie babies, what a hoot.

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The island in the middle is home to all of the ducks, and they’ve made some cracking nests along the side – there are cliffs and floating nests, like a little hippy ducky commune.

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Beautiful afternoon, thank you parents!

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Birthday girl

It was my birthday last month, and I was fortunate to be able to take some time off work for it.

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My brilliant parents decided to come down to London for a couple of days to see me, the weather was perfect, so I decided to have a brunch picnic in the garden.

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I bought a ton of nibbly snacky things, but also decided to make some food. Two of my favourites – sweet potato and sausage hash, and homemade sausage rolls.

A quick rundown of the hash:

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Whack some sweet potato, sliced onion and rosemary into the oven

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Until it looks like this! (Roasted sweet potato has gotta be one of the most delicious things on earth)

In the mean time, prep some tomatoes (I went for little plum tomatoes) and garlic

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And fry some sausage meat – this stuff looks so gross at first. You can buy big tubes of sausage meat (less faff) or buy actual sausages and squeeze the sausage meat out (I did this for the sausage rolls… it was icky, lets just leave it at that).

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When it starts to look like mince, its good to go. The sausage meat adds a wonderful flavour, and the texture is sticky and smooth, rather than more obvious like mince would be.

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Pop everything into your baking tray, and back into the oven until its all golden. I also chose to crack a few eggs into it, and bake them. Job done.

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Pretty simple, bar some prep time!

I also made sausage rolls – like I said, this was the less glamorous bake – squeezing raw sausage meat out of the casing isn’t as phallic as you’d think. It’s just gross. But! Good sausages, plus some more rosemary, garlic, and some dried herbs, made for delicious sausage rolls. Homemade is always better.

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We ate at the end of the garden in the shade, with hummus, pitta bread, a bottle of fizz, and a huuuge jug of smoothie that I’d made. Perfect.

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My sweet, lovely parents were in fine form

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We sat and ate and chatted for the best part of the afternoon, before moving onto Eton Mess. Luxury Eton Mess, if you will, made with meringues from the Meringue Girls.

The Meringue Girls are a brilliant pair of ladies who’ve created some seriously delicious treats – regular size, and mini size, in some fantastic flavour combos. I first discovered them when I bought their recipe book on a whim, and their love of colour and their outstanding creativity won me over.

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I got a jar of minis with strawberry, raspberry and coconut, and then a box of the regular size

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Gin & tonic, hazelnut, dark chocolate, passionfruit, and pistachio.

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Everything got thrown into the Eton Mess, which didn’t photograph well, but in our defence we’d had a few drinks at this point, and it tasted delicious, which is what matters.

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Happy birthday me! 🙂

Hackney Wicked

Today saw the final day of Hackney Wicked, a weekend art festival championing local artists, with open studios, exhibitions, performances and more.

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I grabbed Patrick, and we headed over to east London to take a look!

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Of course, we made a (few) customary detour(s) for lunch and drinks first, and I warned Patrick he’d be my glamorous assistant for the day (basically he’d be holding my bottle of cider as I took photos).

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First stop was Hackney Hardware, which had been transformed into a popup bar – we got there just as they were opening, but 2 glasses of wine for a fiver was not to be sniffed at.

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We took a stroll through Victoria Park – seriously beautiful, not that busy, with dedicated bike lanes, lakes, and acres of space.

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When we got to Hackney Wick, the whole area had a cool buzz (coincidentally we saw a lot of people dressed up for Back To The Future at Secret Cinema… The men in braces and indenti-kit women started to blur a bit…)

We got stuck in exploring the studios.

I didn’t get a card for this artist (Patrick got the last one!) but her work was made by photocopying hair she collected, and then screenprinting it.

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This exhibition was interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to the artist or find out the back story.

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The next studio we visited looks how I imagine my own place would look – eclectic, art supplies littering surfaces, sewing, knitting and crochet work all over, and a general outpouring of ideas.

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Of course, being a fan of multiple projects, I’m not sure I’d have finished work.

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I loved the next series of photos – 2 women displaying their typographic letterpressed cards. Simple but so beautiful.

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We explored other parts of Wicked, including:

a human beatboxer (he was so flippin’ good!)

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street artists, painting the side of The Lord Napier building

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some awesome skateboarders – one little kid in particular was so good!

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And of course, no jaunt with a camera would be complete without some graffiti and street photography.

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Lovely day, happy Kat.

North London lunch (with a special date)

Recently I decided to start exploring my neighbourhood a bit more – namely, Wood Green/Palmers Green/Tottenham/Walthamstow. North London at its finest.

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Last weekend I spent a lovely afternoon roaming the Turkish shops on Harringay Green Lanes (up near the North Circular) and today I did a little bit of wandering, and a little bit of lunching (pro tip: the Turkish and Greek supermarkets are brilliant – just under half a kilo of hummus for 99p, or a full kilo for £1.99, and a packet of pita bread for 39p – no need to go to evil Tesco!)

The Turkish and Greek shops and restaurants of Green Lanes are legendary – in fact, Green Lanes as an entity is pretty famous. Stretching 7.5 miles or so, with many of the side streets being one-way only, it’s an easy place to lose half a day to, exploring and eating your way along.

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For lunch I went to Fatisa. Named after the town of Fatsa in Northern Turkey, this Italian-Mediterranean restaurant is a sweet little local spot. Less than 10 minutes walking from Wood Green tube, the restaurant has expanded a lot in the past few years and has a new 2nd floor, an extended terrace, and a lovely little garden, where locals hang out.

I started with a summer special – the goats cheese, roasted pepper and aubergine bruschetta.

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This was the stuff of dreams, it really was. Rich, creamy goats cheese fresh from the grill, soft roasted peppers, and delicious smoky aubergine.

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Total gem of a starter, so simple too.

I wasn’t planning on getting a main meal, but the lovely waiter recommended the homemade burgers, so I gave them a whirl. The fries and bun were okay, but really this was all about the burger itself.

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Of course, I couldn’t get a nice photo of it – but it was so good – juicy, full of flavour, and not fatty or padded out with bread! I let most of the fries and bun, and instead tucked into the fresh, light side salad, with a really good dressing (the simple ones are always the best).

Together with a few drinks, my meal came to less than £20, so thumbs up from me!

But possibly the best part of it? This little pup who decided to hang out with me.

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I heard the dog described as both a he and a she, and the dog was called a “naughty dog!”…as it slept soundly. Also, apparently the dog “belongs to everyone”, so I’ve not acquired a timeshare dog.

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Those puppy dog eyes!

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Afterwards, I went for a little walk through Woodside Park, and headed home before the rain tried to catch me.

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If you’re ever in Wood Green or Alexandra Palace and fancied a lovely lunch, check out Fatisa – summer al fresco lunches are the best!

London sunsets

The past few nights in London we’ve had some pretty fantastic sunsets, as well as the big thunder and lightning storms…which unfortunately I didn’t photograph. I did however take some snaps of the colourful clouds and sunsets that I wanted to share.

Friday 18 July 2014

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Saturday 19 July 2014

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Even though I didn’t get any photos of the lightning, I did have one of my tweets about the storm featured on a Metro.co.uk article, which made my life. I laughed so damn much as this.

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The full article here.

Its the little things!

Project 365 – part 4

The final chapter.

This is the part that feels most relevant to my life at the moment – that might be because the last photo was taken 6 days ago, so it’s not that surprising. But this final quarter starts at the beginning of December, and actually, it’s a pretty good quarter.

December through to February saw me do some more travelling (Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes, Manchester), spend super happy times with my family and best friend, throw some colour into my life, and learn some new stuff.

Festive December…

December saw a lot of pre-Christmas crafting, my nails snapped (need moar calcium?), I got a new iPhone, I had another trip back to my parents (see photos with my mama and my Lauren), I acquired a super sassy hat (blue glittery tophat!) and sated a work-Christmas-party hangover with a trip to Five Guys. Christmas was spent in Poland which was relaxing, with board games (including a Polish game about queueing in front of shops in the 1980s) and walks in the forest. New Year was spent with my best friend, eating a lot of Turkish food, playing with sparklers and having sekrit times.

New Year – January…

The New Year continued with time spent with my best friend – on the first of January we went on the London Eye, which I absolutely loved. We also visited Winter Wonderland (btw HOW BIG is the German Beer Hall there?! it’s amazing!). In contrast to last month, my nails were now screwed because of wearing false nails. C’est la vie! This month also saw me get my bangs cut back in, travel to Jersey for a beautiful few days for work, try a street dance class and do Fire Marshal training for work.

The final month – February…

February was the final month of my Project 365 – by now, it was completely ingrained in me to photograph something everyday. The month started with a weekend in Cannes for the Midem music hack weekend. Such a surreal weekend, I loved it. I also became a qualified First Aider (spent part of the afternoon flouncing around pretending the mannequin was my boyfriend.. I thought more people would do this, apparently not..). I travelled to Manchester to see Childish Gambino, ate the biggest pancake ever at My Old Dutch, received the most beautiful flowers for Valentines Day, went to a London Fashion Week event, visited Greenwich, bought a dress, and generally continued to love London.

Phew.

Once again, I have to say thank you so much to you guys for reading and revisiting my year in photos with me. Part of me looks back and thinks not much has changed, but a bigger part of me is amazed at how far I’ve come. I’ve loved looking back at the little details in my life, laughing at how silly things have been, seeing myself move on from sad times and throw myself into the good times.

I’m already 5 days into my next 365, and can’t wait to share that with you.

Project 365 – part 3

First up, I want to thank you all for reading my garbled round-ups of the first half of my Project 365, for clicking through my snaps, and for putting up with my constant banging on about how great it is.

I especially loved the comment from one of my mama’s friends, that she enjoyed looking at the randomness of the photos.

That’s how I like to see it myself – even during the most mundane of days, where I stayed in bed ‘cos I was sad, or said very little at work ‘cos I was uninspired, I still think documenting the little details, and remember why they were important enough to photograph (or conversely, why my day was crappy enough to warrant a photo of an apple), is important to me.

The next quarter covers September through to November. This was as rocky as the previous months, in all honesty, and my closest friends were there for me a lot. This quarter spans heartbreak, mistakes and distracting myself from that, but also some brilliant times spent my best friends and parents, Christmas cake and seeing Newcastle play.

September up…

September started with Patrick and I going to London Mela, a huge south Asian festival in west London. This involved dressing up and eating a lot. September also saw some crazy rain vs crazy sun, spiderwebs, a new passport and some vegetables. This is the month I started my hexagon quilt, which grew rapidly; but probably the real highlight was a weekend in Amsterdam with my best friend – one of the best trips ever, I’m still so happy from it.

October here…

October saw me leaving my job at Reading Room, an agency I’d worked at for 18 months. I left behind some brilliant colleagues and clients, and a social life that will never be beaten. I also spoke at 2 conferences (The Digital Barn, and 12 Devs), which were so much fun. Thank you to the people who listened to blahblahblah on! In between leaving my old job and new job I went home to my parents for a week, which saw a haircut, dancing with my best friend, and cuddles with my mama bear. I also baked Christmas cakes this month, including the little mini cake shaped like a rose. A pretty good month actually.

November saw the suckiest moments of the year, but also a great big whopping highlight – I started my new job at feelunique.com – as witnessed by photos cropping up of freebie products, and dressing up for the COPRA ball (an annual ball for retailers in the cosmetics/perfume industry). I spent more time crafting, took a late-night rickshaw with Patrick (drunk + G.A.Y = makes sense), and went back to my parents for a weekend where we ate a lot of Christmas cake and went to a football match.

All in all, a successful autumn.

Project 365 (part 2)

So yesterday I posted the first quarter of my Project 365 (a photo a day for a year). I humblebragged about how proud I was, and going through the next section of photos has been no different. It’s so interesting to see how far I’ve come, in the space of a year – how much has changed, how much I’ve done, and it’s really lovely to look back on photos of relatively insignificant things and think how fun they were.

The whole process is making me realise how much I value the little details in life, which has made P365 so worthwhile.

So here’s June…

June was the start of the summer heatwave – it saw me eat at some goooood places (Hache burger, Meat Liquor, that fancypants 1920s stylee French place near Piccadilly.. name escapes me..), also this was the month I hung out with the Queen at the trooping the colour, tear a ligament in my foot, and finally spend a lotttt of man-hours making origami hearts. They were made for a summer garden party for my parents in July, and I still love looking at the progress of the hearts – I made 400 of them in less than a weekend. It. Was. Glorious.

July was this…

The heatwave continued, London was a sweaty mass. The month started with a sciencey event where I learned about alcohol (by drinking a fair amount of free booze… all in the name of science!), a trip to Poland for the aforementioned party – look at those hearts in situ! I was in love with them! July was also my birthday (the 17th! represented here with a chocolate ball and raspberry sorbet ball.. heheh balls..), the month my hair kinda exploded with volume, there was free Eton Mess in Soho Square, and I bought kabanos.

August was good…

It started with a little photo-montage of how I made origami stars (which I then didn’t blog..), and my new camera arrived! What a little babe! I had lunch with a dog in a pub; Patrick and I got hammered and barged into Ed’s Diner for the most amazing chips; I worked on my portfolio site. I also flew to Berlin for a long weekend – another garden party, plus boardgames and photobooth fun! Lauren came to visit, we played Guess Who! amongst other sekrit activities. This was also Notting Hill Carnival month, where Patrick and I accidentally joined the parade and shook our booties.

I’m getting all nostalgic looking back at these photos – for about 90-95% of them, I can still remember exactly what I was doing, how I was feeling, why I snapped that photo, what it means to me. My actual memory is pretty shoddy, and I’m a sentimental person, so being able to flick back on photos and remember every feeling (good and bad!) is a novel experience. My next post will be autumn, which holds some sad memories, but also some exciting changes. More tomorrow.

Thing #2 to do in London – go see a recording of a show!

Last night I decided to forgo my knitting group, in favour of some semi last-minute plans with Patrick, who actually told me about this weeks ago but I forgot.

Through a client, he’d gotten us tickets to go to a recording of a podcast, at the BBC.

This is thing number 2 to do in London when you’re ridin’ solo (and yes I will continue to overuse this phrase).

First things first, cameras weren’t allowed, so here, have some crappy iPhone snaps instead:

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The top photo is of the BBC News Room area – basically hundreds of monitors, that’s all you can see really, but you can pretend to get a sense of urgency of the days news, and I dunno, maybe if you wait long enough there could be a breaking news story or something exciting.

The second photo is of the actual podcast audience/theatre. Patrick and I (together with the clients) were there to see (well, hear, it was a podcast) a recording of Click, a sciencey show, and last night was the 3D Printing Special. They asked the audience what we’d want to 3D print if we had the chance, and they chose the “best” one (turns out my suggestion of boobs wasn’t good enough…). So, some guy got scanned and printed (sans boobs).

The point of this story is, going to see free recordings of TV/radio shows can be a really fun experience (last night was!) – you can view and apply for upcoming events here http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tickets/, and you can apply for as many as you like (within reason, I guess?).

Because you’re there to see the show, it doesn’t matter if you’re alone or not. A great solo activity!

Ridin’ solo

In the words of the immortal Jason DeRulo – I’m ridin’ solo.

I’ve realised the last blog post I wrote was one where I started off mentioning I’m unhappy, and I didn’t want to do that again, so, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m lonely.

Or at least – I was!

I’ve been in London for 2 and a half years, for most of that time single. At first it didn’t bother me, then it started to, and recently I came to the conclusion I need to grow some balls, and get over it, and do more – on my own.

So I’m setting myself a challenge – think a “101 things” kinda list, but with an unspecified number, of things to do in London while you’re ridin’ solo.

Of course, this isn’t prescriptive, do it with partners/friends/family/dog etc, but holy heck London can be intimidating when you’re on you’re own so much.

So, first up? Let’s take a walk.

On Tuesday night, I went to my first get together of a new group I joined – a knitting and crafting group. I decided to walk there from my office, and I’m so glad I did.

Hello epiphany moment!

I walked from my office in Holborn, down to the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. This meant I got to walk over Waterloo bridge, something I rarely do. Of course, it’s mostly full of people bustling too and from work, and a couple of tourists wrapped up against the bitter November cold weather.

But – not one of them stopped to admire the amazing views.

This is tip number 1 for you solo Londoners

Walk across the central bridges in London and admire the views

Now, admittedly, because I wasn’t expecting my epiphany moment, I didn’t have my camera. I only had my iPhone. But let me show you some shaky photos and introduce you to London as seen from Waterloo Bridge.

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^ Click on this guy above, and you can get the biiiig full size image.

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I told you they were shaky Blair Witch style iPhone quality…

But enough about my shaky hands and poor little iPhone!

Did you know that Waterloo Bridge is regarded as one of the best spots to view the city at ground level? You can see Westminster, Canary Wharf and the City, the South Bank, the London Eye – all just in one sweeping glance!

Did you know the bridge is named for the Battle of Waterloo in 1815?

Did you know that this is actually the 2nd bridge in this position – the first was opened in 1817 and then demolished because it was unsafe?

It’s a pretty ugly bridge itself, but the views are breathtaking.

And it’s free.

And you can experience it solo.

[EDIT TO ADD] My brother pointed that “ridin’ solo” is also a term used for masturbation. If my suggestions for things to do in London don’t excite you, maybe that will.