September 2019 Things

September always seems to come and go in the blink of an eye – we spend the whole month panicking about the students coming back, and all of a sudden, campus is filled with them.  This September was exceptionally tough and ended with me doing a 70 hour week.  Oof.  I need the whole of October to recover.

Richard Ayoade interviewed by Adam Buxton
A couple of years ago, we saw Adam interview Richard at the Emmanuel Centre in London.  This year, they were both at the Royal Festival Hall talking about Richard’s new book and his career.  Richard was definitely more relaxed this time around, but again the audience Q&A was oddly negative.  I don’t get why people try to be funny by being cruel?  Still, Richard handled the stupid questions well and they both made me laugh.

Louis Theroux interviewed by… Adam Buxton!
Continuing the theme of Dr Buckles interviewing my favourite men, we were back at the Royal Festival Hall to see Adam and Louis.  He was also discussing his new book, a memoir in which Adam was mentioned 7 times (he counted).  It’s always a joy to listen to the two of them chat, and the Southbank Centre has put it out as a podcast for everyone to enjoy.

Work
Normally, I pick 5 things each month for my favourite things, but I outside of the two Southbank Centre events, I have done nothing else of note other than work – no books, no TV shows, no new music.  I’m quite tired now.

48 Hours in Copenhagen – What We Ate

Copenhagen has some of the best and unique food in the world.  Unfortunately for my food-loving Husband, we didn’t try any of it.  It’s just not my scene, guys – I don’t think I could ever promise to be interested in a classic Noma meal or a trip around the iconic food markets.

I do however have my favourites – places I will go back to time and time again because I know I’m going to have an excellent meal.  They’re not to everyone’s liking, perhaps a bit safe or not particularly exciting, but they make me happy.

Always number one on my list is Halifax burger.  This was the very first restaurant we visited in CPH 8 years ago, and we joked that this was the main reason for our visit this time.  It sounds extreme – travelling 600 miles just to eat a burger – but this is an exceptional burger.  We visited the Amager restaurant on this trip (having previously been to both their Larsbjørnsstræde location on multiple occasions, and the Frederiksberg location) and once again received an amazing welcome from the staff.

I love this chain so much that I have their artwork up in my kitchen at home, and I was delighted to see a mural of theirs on the side of their building.

Another restaurant I go out of my way to visit is Gorms Pizza, specifically their branch next to Fields Mall.  I wouldn’t normally recommend a mall restaurant, but I just love the set up of this location – amphitheatre-style seating, and we got seated right at the top.  Husband had the Arendse special with mozzarella and proscuito and I had a Fields exclusive (I think.  Not entirely sure…).  Whatever it was, it was delicious.

On our last visit, I discovered Istid, but as it was Christmas and Istid is an ice cream shop, it was of course closed.  So this was the first time I’ve tried the store that I’ve followed on Instagram for 3 years.  We considered going to their new Nordhavn store, but decided instead to pick up our treats at Jægersborggade.  This is honestly the most incredible ice cream – making it with liquid nitrogen makes it so smooth.  We sat in the shade in Assistens Kirkegård across the road on the morning of my birthday eating spectacular sundaes – I was having the time of my life!

It wouldn’t be a trip to Copenhagen with some kind of kanelbullar.  On this trip, we had a kanelsnegl from Holm Bageri and a kanelstykke from Lagkagehuset (both in Frederiksberg).  Both were delicious as each other, with the coffee from Lagkagehuset slightly tastier making that our favourite breakfast.

And on the subject of coffee, we went back to the Original Coffee at the top of Illums on a few occasions because Husband became addicted to espresso tonics.  Even though the cafe is in a huge department store and we assumed it would get busy, we always found a seat so we’re now claiming this as our secret hotspot.  You heard it here first folks (to be fair, everyone probably thinks this is their secret hotspot).

One last place for a shout-out, even though we didn’t stop here, was the cafe in Magasin Du Nord which I think was called Coffee Industry Sweden.  There were very few people here, and the decor was beautiful.  If we hadn’t filled up on Espresso Tonic, we would have snuggled in here.

48 Hours in Copenhagen

We don’t normally celebrate our wedding anniversary – it’s too close to both our birthdays and the start of the academic year, so no really effort is made and we’re both fine with that.

This year however, we thought we should do something special to mark the big 1-0. Our immediate thought – Copenhagen. Our favourite city to spend time in. The last time we visited was back in 2015 when we spent 5 days over Christmas just wandering around with big coats on. This time, we’d have just 48 hours to absorb as much Scandi culture as we could.

We stayed at the Bella Sky again, which was mostly fine. We’re used to the hotel being very quiet, but as we were still in tourist season, it was fit to burst with huge groups of tourists. I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend this hotel, but it suited us for two days.

So what did we pack into those 48 hours? A lot of walking primarily, and visiting areas of the city that we haven’t visited before. Frederiksberg became our new favourite suburb, but we also had a wander around Amagerbro and the area around the DR studios (‘DR City’ as it’s known).

And we finally crossed the Inderhavnsbroen (Inner Harbour Bridge) from Nyhavn to Christianshavn after watching it being built over many years. We even got to stand on the bridge as it did the crazy opening thing (which surely cannot be safe???) – the middle of the bridge splits open to allow tall ships to sail through. Madness.

We didn’t eat loads of food, but enough to make a blog post about so that will follow, but definitely our favourite new stop for coffee with a view was the Original Coffee at the top of Illums. We went here several times – definitely a favourite new hang-out spot for us. And look at this view:

We of course explored both Illums and Magasin but we weren’t in the city to shop (which is just as well as the exchange rate was a disaster). Just across from Illums on Strøget is Hay House – an interior design wonderland. Two floors of beautiful Hay products, set out like a Danish apartment and almost like a museum. I was in heaven, but again that pesky exchange rate shattered my dreams buying it all. Instead, I just took a million photos so that when I win the lottery, I can re-create Hay House back in the UK.

I did manage to get a small memento however. Many years ago when Husband was on one of his many work trips to CPH, he stumbled across an independent jewellers called Ladyfingers – a shop featuring the work of female jewellery designers. I didn’t ever get a chance to visit on our previous trips, but I finally made it there this time and bought a beautiful necklace from Winberg Jewellery. The shop it situated on Jægersborggade which is an insanely trendy street and such a treat to visit. Wandering down here made for a pretty perfect Saturday afternoon.

In fact, everything we did made for a perfect trip. This was my 5th time in the city and Husband’s millionth, so we don’t feel the need to do all the touristy things. Just walking around, people-watching, and falling in love with the architecture (like the Mountain Dwellings building below) is satisfying enough for us.

August 2019 Things

I’ve seem to have had a summer break from blogging – completely unintentionally, but the month somehow got away from me. And now we’re in September, which is already shaping up to be incredibly manic (certainly from a work perspective).

Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine
At the beginning of the month (which feels like a lifetime ago), I dragged Tim to the Tatty Devine exhibition in the Lethaby Gallery, Kings Cross. It celebrates 20 years of the jewellery brand with exhibits showing off all of the beautiful things they’ve made over the years. It’s just started touring the UK and is well worth a visit for a Tatty fan.

Away Suitcase
I’m such a cliche. I became a little obsessed with Away suitcases after seeing them appear in various vlogs like Kara and Nate and when reading the rave reviews they received from other travel bloggers. So when I needed a new suitcase for a weekend away in Copenhagen, I decided to bite the bullet and buy one of their small carry-on bags in Coast. It was such a great decision – we managed to fit so much into it and it was so easy to manoeuvre around the cobbles in Copenhagen. Plus, the ejectable battery was a lifesaver when I realised I’d forgotten my plug adapter. Husband keeps mocking me for being so easily influenced, but I don’t care – I love it so much.

Copenhagen
Speaking of Copenhagen, we spent the last weekend of the month in my favourite place on earth. More on this later.

Neom facial
I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the new Neom store in Guildford offered spa services, so when I had a couple of hours of TOIL to take, I popped into town on the way home from work to experience one of their facials. It was heavenly, and entirely silent for a town centre location. I’m going to have to remember to blog about it because I enjoyed it so much.

Brunch at the Cosy Club
Another trip into Guildford to spend a £50 voucher I received from a bad meal in Bristol last year. We invited my Mum as we didn’t think we could spend £50 between Husband and I, so we feasted on eggs, pancakes, and assorted bacon treats. It was delicious.

July 2019 Things

July was an incredibly emotional month, and I was only at work for half of it!

Farewells
I said goodbye to an awful lot of friends and co-workers at work due to various re-structures. It was tough. I’ve been to 6 leaving parties in the past two weeks, and invited to a bunch of others that I couldn’t attend. Morale is pretty low at the moment, but we don’t have time to wallow as we have a lot to be getting on with in August and September.

Bom Dia!
I had my long awaited holiday to Portugal at the beginning of the month. We did nothing all week, which was perfect.

Moon and the London Contemporary Orchestra
The last time we were at the Barbican for the AI exhibition, we saw a showing of the Duncan Jones film Moon on the calendar. 2019 is not only the 50th Anniversary of the moon landings but also the 10 year anniversary of the film’s release, so the Barbican were celebrating by screening the film with the score played live by the London Contemporary Orchestra. It was spectacular – the score by Clint Mansell is so atmospheric, and it was so phenomenal to see it performed live.

Netflix’s Dark
I’m cheating a little with this, because we watched this last month and I overlooked it in last month’s Things, but I have remained obsessed with the German language show, Dark on Netflix. Season 1 aired a while ago, so it took me a while to remember who everyone was but I soon picked it up. This show continues to blow my mind (no spoilers) and I can’t stop reading articles, listening to podcasts, and scrolling through Reddit theories. Can’t wait until season 3.

Spa afternoon with my Mum
For my Mum’s birthday (which was a couple of months ago, I bought her a trip to the spa. The first chance we both had to enjoy it was earlier this month, and we spend a blissful couple of hours at the Brooklands hotel spa. Expect a blog post soon!

Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort

If you don’t like photos of beaches and sunsets, this probably isn’t going to be the post for you.

Earlier in the year, I spent a good few weeks trawling through various websites to plan a perfect Portuguese trip. We wanted somewhere not too far from Lisbon, but very quiet with no distractions. I’d initially settled on Cascais or Sintra for a location, but few of the hotels met my criteria (and the ones that did were way out of our budget) plus it seems quite touristy, so I started looking further afield.

And that’s when I found the Marriott Praia D’el Rey. After making sure Husband really didn’t mind the hour drive from Lisbon airport, we booked ourselves into an oceanfront room. This was only a couple of weeks before the trip as we’d left it really late to book so many of the rooms were sold out, but we’d definitely choose oceanfront again.

We’d had a long morning before we checked into our hotel – picking up the car from the airport took two stressful hours which meant we arrived much later than we’d planned to.

But the second we walked into the airy lobby, we instantly relaxed. Paolo at the front desk was amazing, and continued to be amazing over the course of our week. I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels but no one has ever offered the level of service he consistently provided. After promising us one of the best rooms (it really was), he introduced us to his colleague Patricia who told us all about the features of the hotel, and introduced us to my new favourite treat – ginja de Óbidos, a sour cherry liquor served in a chocolate cup. Delicious.

The amazing welcome we received then continued with every member of staff who always greeted us with “Bom Dia” or “Olá”. We had turndown service every night from friendly staff who made sure we had everything we needed, wonderfully attentive service at breakfast – everyone was exceptional.

The main draw for us at Praia D’el Rey was the lack of distractions. We spent every day (bar one) just lying on a lounger on the beach. It was something both of us needed after a busy and stressful few months at work – the opportunity to do nothing but listen to podcasts, read, or just nap was too good to pass up. If you’re looking for an action packed vacation, this isn’t it. The Marriott is on a fairly big resort of houses and a big golf course which is the main reason why people visit, but there really is very little else. There’s one tiny shop about 2.5 miles away – you can get a shuttle, but we decided to walk and ended up not finding it. We instead chose to go the supermarket in Óbidos to stock up on water and snacks but that was a 20 minute drive away so having a car is a must.

The hotel has a few different pools, a gym, a spa, and the beautiful beach. I treated myself to a trip to the spa for an incredibly enjoyable Elemis facial, and they also have the full range of treatments available. I was keen to get back to the beach afterwards but it would have been lovely to spend more time up at the spa.

Within the hotel, there are a few different options for food – we ate at the more formal Emprata restaurant on our last night, and it was incredible. Paolo had requested the best table for us, and we watched the sunset over a beautiful three course meal. My favourite course – my dessert which was inspired by ginja de obidos.

They have a couple of more casual dining options, and of course room service which we had twice because we couldn’t drag ourselves away from our view. We did end up eating at the Contato lobby bar most evenings because we got quite addicted to their tempura vegetables and also just because it was a lovely place to hang out.

The rooms have recently been renovated and have a beautiful beachy feel about them. We had a huge comfy kingsize bed, big fluffy pillows (my favourite), and places to enjoy our room service inside and out. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. On the Sunday evening, we watched a beautiful Gujarati wedding in the courtyard in front of our room – what an amazing venue to have for your wedding!

When we checked out, Paolo and Patricia came over to say goodbye and to check that we’d had a good trip. They gave us some hints on the best time to visit next time – we could tell it was getting busier as the week went by, and I’m sure it’s even busier now the schools have broken up but apparently October is a great time to visit. It’s so great to know that the Praia D’el Rey is just a short flight away for the next time that we need to get away from our day-to-day lives.

We can’t wait to return. Mostly to eat more Ginja.

June 2019 Things

So so late with this blog post as I’ve been on holiday for the past week, but before I write about that – a recap of my June.

The end of semester
Guys, we’ve made it. We’ve managed to get all the way through the academic year in one piece. Goodness knows how. Whilst we don’t have the summer off (as most people expect from university staff), I do get rewarded with a fairly quiet campus for the next three months. It’s bliss.

Late Night
If I could have booked my ticket for Late Night when Mindy Kaling announced it, I would have – I love everything she writes, and this film has the added bonus of Emma Thomson who is always brilliant. I dragged my BFF to the Picturehouse Central to giggle along to Emma’s acerbic put downs, and incredibly chic footwear. I can’t wait to see it again.

Six The Musical
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Six – a musical where the six wives of Henry the 8th are competing to be the lead in a girl band. It had the potential to be really cheesy, but it’s genuinely brilliant – I downloaded the soundtrack as soon as I left the theatre and have listened to it on repeat since then.

The Park Spa at Warbrook House
I feel like my search for the perfect local spa will continue for a while, but the Park Spa at Warbrook House very nearly ticks all the boxes. It has a wonderfully rural location, which means it has the number one item on my list – tranquility. The staff were really lovely, and the facial I had was incredibly relaxing. The only thing missing is the product – I’m not a fan of Espa products, but as everything else was overwhelmingly positive, I’m sure I’ll be back.

Sol de Janeiro – Sol Stick
I can never tell if I like the smell of the Sol De Janerio range, but I definitely love the smell of the Sol Stick – it’s like vanilla and biscuits, and I just want to eat it. It’s SPF 50, so perfect for my ghostly white skin, and doesn’t feel like it’s blocking my pores when I slather it on my face. As it’s solid, I can throw it in my handbag for when I’m taken unawares by the weather. I’m already addicted to using it.

Mr Jones Watches – Robotto Shi

Over the past couple of weeks, Mr Jones Watches have been treating their Instagram followers with a couple of mini sample sales. Very helpfully, they post a countdown on their stories (which gives me enough time to clear my calendar) but you still have to be quick because there’s only a few available.

The first drop was Robotti Shi and there were four or five different versions of this fun watch. Designed by Onorio D’Epiro, Robotto Shi was originally a limited edition before a re-designed version joined the permanent range. The silver robot on the original design is very adorable – stomping his way around Tokyo – but honestly, my robot is so much cuter!

A smiley rose gold robot with a pink background – it’s like it’s made for me! The back of the watch has no engraving which is unusual and quirky (I do like a quirky MJW) and it’s my first watch with a black metal strap which I really like.

They’ve already had their second mini-sample sale which featured variations of The 100th, and I did entirely miss that one which was a both a blessing and a curse. I’m keeping my eyes open to see what they dig out next – it could be an expensive summer.

AI: More Than Human at the Barbican

A couple of weeks ago, we took a quick trip to the Barbican to see the AI: More Than Human exhibition which promised an exploration of developments in AI. Husband was very intrigued, I was just happy for a wander around the Barbican, and a special cocktail.

The tickets had mostly sold out when we went to book online, so we only had 11am as an option. We got there about 20 minutes before this to pick up the tickets and have a quick wander in the shop (mentally bookmarking things for later…) and were let into the main display space.

I immediately hated everything about this exhibition space – they had either sold way too many tickets or had underestimated how long it would take people to get through as it was rammed full of people. I nudged my way through the crowd, taking in bits of information – there was a lot of golems, stuff about robot vacuum cleaners, Bletchley Park, random computer hardware. I couldn’t really see the link between all this and AI, but it’s not an area I know that much about so I shrugged and carried on.

I left Husband looking at the various things he was interested in, and he caught up with me talking to an online chatbot further in the exhibition – he’s far more of an expert on this stuff and told me he didn’t get it either. They had seemingly grouped together random things and there was no coherence, nothing interesting or exciting. I think this article sums it up – it was banal. I just wanted to get through to the end for my treat – a cocktail made by a robot.

I was kind of let down by having to speak to a person as I wanted an entirely robot experience, but it was a lovely cocktail. Husband had a Negroni and I had a mocktail called a Roy Rogers which was really tasty. The Makr Shakr robots are actually very cool, and definitely make for an interesting bar experience.

The exhibition is on until the 26th August 2019 – skip it, enjoy a robot cocktail, and just wander around the Barbican instead. Much more fulfilling.

May 2019 Things

Two bank holidays – always a pleasure. May was actually quite busy after a couple of quiet(er) months. I just need to get around updating this blog!

Celtic Manor – again!
Bank Holiday one was spent at the Celtic Manor yet again, with afternoon tea and a couple of spa treatments. We did consider booking the same for Bank Holiday two, but it was more expensive and we were feeling lazier!

Mermaid Hair
Over the past few months, I’ve been steadily getting rid of the orangey undertones in my hair. We finally managed to crack it, so the wonderful Jo at Gilded Hair gave me mermaid hair. Everyone at work was incredibly shocked, I can assure you of that.

Tatty Devine Sample Sale
This was my second sample sale experience, and I spent a silly amount of money. Hurray!

Comedians Giving Lectures
A couple of weeks ago, Sara Pascoe tweeted that there was tickets available for the taping of her new show, Comedians Giving Lectures. It combined two of my favourite things – funny, funny people, and Powerpoint presentations – and I managed to get tickets for the penultimate episode featuring Tom Allen (who I ADORE), Nish Kumar, and Natasia Demetriou. All three comedians were as brilliant as expected, and it was fun to see the taping, particularly after seeing how the Americans do it on a couple of occasions. Hopefully I won’t see myself in the audience when it airs in a couple of months.

Robot Cocktails
More on this in a future posts, but we visited the Barbican for an exhibition on AI, and decided to partake in some robot-made cocktails. It was very unnecessary, but super fun.