Sunday, 25 October 2015

This week I've been...

Strolling through the cobbled streets of ancient Cambridge.  Autumn is my favourite time to visit the city - the light all amber and soft against the sandstone architecture and those leaves...the oranges and scarlets and lemony yellows.  Heaven.

Sharing our wedding photos with friends and family.  We've had them on our computer for ages, but it's just been one of those piddly jobs that never gets done.  So happy they're up.  I can't help myself peaking at them whilst I'm at work.  What a day.

Experimenting with new food flavours.  This week I tried out a Jamie Oliver recipe for a spicy kiwi salsa for fish tacos.  We ate a lot of fish tacos when we were on our honeymoon.  Whilst nothing will be as good as those were, old Jamie has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the addition of kiwi.  #nomnom

Bowled over by how amazing the Northern Ballet Company are.  When we went to see a performance of 1984 at the Sheffield Lyceum this week, I was a little apprehensive...were we going to enjoy it?  How would 1984 work in a ballet?  Won't it just be really depressing?  We needn't have worried as it was excellent.  If you get the chance to see anything by them, jump at it. 

Taking risks at work by asking my boss for a promotion (eek!).  I've been working really hard, taking on extra projects and leadership responsibilities...and I just thought, what have I got to lose?  I spent ages crafting an email that I hope struck the right tone between 'polite and respectful' and 'assertive'.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Crippled from my golf practice. I've been trying to make more of my evenings and so have been popping up to our local driving range.  It's a great place - it's really 'down-home'.  I love it because I'm always the youngest person there by about 50 years and I only need to do a few drives before one of the old timers comes and gives me some pearls of wisdom.  They're all so kind and friendly.  But I'm in agony.  Seriously, even my hands are sore. :(

Saturday, 7 March 2015

This Week I've been...

Bamboozled by the choice of wedding ring styles.  I have a curved engagement ring and it's been tricky getting one that fits snugly.  I'm getting to the stage where I no longer care.  Which is dangerous.  Must persevere and find a good one...

Feasting on mussels, chips and home-made mayonnaise in beautiful Belgium. Work trips certainly have their plus sides!

Being pampered at the gorgeous Spa 1877 in Sheffield.  Nothing beats a Swedish massage to iron out knotted, weary muscles.  What a treat!

Embarking on my next literary adventure with Donna Tart's The Goldfinch.  I feel this weekend may be the best possible way.

Relegated to the dog house for having to travel over the only week Duncan hasn't been working nights.

Wishing I could make pancakes as well as Fancie in Sheffield can.  If you haven't been there for brunch yet, get yourself there!

Feeling guilty at not having done any wedding admin.  Must send out the remainder of my wedding invitations soon.  

Playing with fire looking at vintage wedding dresses on etsy.  I already have a wedding dress - what am I doing?  It's a recipe for disaster.

Wondering how other people make grown-up best friends?  Seriously - I love moving around lots and trying new things, but it's hard having to start from scratch / make new friends.  How do you do it it?  It was so easy at Uni!

Loving spotify's Americana and folk genre playlists.  I was born to road trip through Texas, this much I know to be true.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

We're engaged!!!

So...about a month ago Duncan surprised me with a trip to Florence and whilst we were there he asked me to be his wife!  

I'm not supposed to be writing this blog any longer, but I just wanted to share the happy news with you all.  I'm now back home in London preparing for our move to Yorkshire and rapidly building up a wedding pinterest board (oh, who am I kidding... adding to the secret wedding pinterest board I already had :)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Changing Times

I'm sorry that this blog has been unavailable the last few weeks.  I have tried very hard to not have this personal blog linked to my professional life, but for some reason when you google my name along with the organisation I work for this blog now comes up :(.  This is a social blog where I share my life.  It's just a fun space for me to be creative and share with others nice little places I've found or new recipes I've recently tried.  I'm happy to share this sort of detail with friends, family and even with people I don't know in the flesh, but I can't have my professional contacts seeing it. It would undermine my work. So for this reason, the London Blog is going to have to close down.

But there's also another reason why I'm having to put down the pen on The London Blog and this is because Duncan and I are moving away from this lovely city.  Duncan has been offered a great job in Yorkshire.  So, as of August we will be living in Sheffield!!  

I had mixed feelings to begin with.  I love living in London, I adore my job and I was just starting to feel established here. I always knew we'd probably have to leave London some day.  It's so expensive for a start.  I mean, who can afford a proper house in this amazing city? I for one don't want to bring my children up in a cramped flat.  But even knowing this, the prospect of leaving so soon after we'd just arrived seemed premature and made me a little bit sad.

But I've snapped out of that nonsense now.  It's been a brilliant two years and I could easily stay here for another two, but I also love new horizons and new challenges. Yorkshire looks beautiful and Sheffield is supposed to be a fantastic city.  Everyone keeps telling us that we'll love the friendly, relaxed pace and that we'll make friends really easily.  Loads of people have been telling us about how magic the Peak District is and how we'll love getting out and about in the gorgeous surrounding countryside.  I'm looking forward to having a bit more space.  Maybe a little house?  With a garden (!).  I'm going to get myself a little car and start horse-riding again.  And there'll be all that amazing Yorkshire produce to sample and cook with.  Yes, it'll be all good.  

I hope to start a new blog in the coming weeks/months.  I'll be sure to post the new address here.  The new blog will explore the best the North has to offer.  I hope you'll be able to join us for the ride :)

Chad x 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The London Traveller - Skiing in St Anton

In February a group of us made our way to St Anton in Austria for a week of skiing, pork and general merriment.

 A few key members of 'team chill'.  Some technique shots (like a pro - until I sprained my ankle)

The queen graced us with her presence.

As did some rather dashing young gentlemen who were on her majesty's secret service, I believe...

No trip to Austria is complete without a good dose of pork and breasts.  The boys had one of these each!

Saturday, 22 February 2014


I've been unforgivably quiet on the blog front.  Sorry guys.  Things have been a bit up in the air work wise for the last few weeks (Duncan is applying for jobs and so am I (more on that later) and...well... sometimes life gets in the way, y'know?).  

But I'm back!!! And a lot's been happening!  I've got some amazing new recipes, London finds and travel photos to share with you all. 

The London Blog - Chad

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Exploring London - Brutalism in Barbican

The Barbican Estate in The City (of London) is the UK's largest (and one of the finest) examples of Brutalist architecture, a post-modernist movement that began in the 1950s and lasted to the 1970s.   The style is all about big, brooding beasts of buildings made from heavy, thick concrete.  They are unapologetically urban and severe - gritty, even, but they are also well proportioned, cleverly planned with lots of natural light (making them wonderful places to live and work).  Although by no means pretty, Brutalist buildings were built with a sense of civic pride and community usually woefully lacking in modern housing developments.  Each of the hulking big blocks look out onto a square or water feature and each flat has build in flower containers on their balcony which soften the exterior, adding greenery and splashes of colour.  The Estate had useful shops and miles of covered walkways to protect residents from the beastly English weather.  It's a considered, well thought through design that residents of the highly sought after flats cherish deeply.

I took a walk there today to take some photos. The grey, over-cast, cold January day just heightened the Estate's wonderful, gritty and desolate feeling.   If all the sharp corners and rough concrete are too much for you, then head to the Barbican Centre at the heart of the estate to feast on delicious cakes and Monmouth coffee or watch a blockbuster at the cinema, or a play at the Centre's theatre or peruse the shop for design classics.  

Not everyone will love this area of London.  In fact, guaranteed, some who visit will vehemently detest it... but that's sort of the magic of the place.  

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

In 2014 I'm resolving to do...

I'm a big fan of New Year's resolutions.  But perhaps that's just because I like lists and plans and goals and sad things like that.  But whether you think they are naff or not, I reckon it's never a bad thing to take ten minutes out each year to evaluate how you think your life is going, what you might like to work on, or change or improve and then write it down for all to see.  I've been thinking really hard about mine.  I've tried to make them small, personal changes.  In no particular order...

Be Kinder
I like to think I'm a pretty kind person right now. I give to charity, I'm an ok listener, I write little notes to people who are sick, but there's always room for improvement.  In particular, I'd like to take more time before leaping to conclusions and judging people.  I've realised this year that everyone struggles in some way or another - and most likely in ways that aren't always apparent.  I hope that in 2014, I'll be a kinder, more generous person.

Be Competitive, but only when it matters
Life in London is fast, there's no doubting it.  It's a tough race and if you're not on your marks then it's easy to fall behind the crowd.  And when you're off, everyone is jostling for place, looking sideways at the next racer to see how well she or he is doing, trying to run extra fast to outrun them.  It's tiring and I'm not sure how many winners there are in that.  So in 2014, I'm going to pick my battles.  I like doing my best and I'm as ambitious and as determined as the next city girl, but I want to be a bit more friendly with it.  I'm going to choose the things that are important to me and not bother to look how other people are doing.  This year I'm going to focus on my own run, not on competing with the next person.

Drink more water, eat less sugar
What it says on the tin really.  I'm pretty good with the low sugar, but my water intake could be higher.  I've bought myself a pretty new glass and I'm going to make sure I fill that up regularly when I'm at my desk or on the sofa in the evening.

Be a better citizen
That sounds very high and mighty, doesn't it.  But I mean it in small ways.  I want to be more involved in my community.  I want to shop at my local shops, be more friendly to my neighbours, more patient with people on the tube. I want to make sure I vote in local and national elections, recycle more, give donations to the galleries and museums I visit and get more involved in local projects (like the Highbury Cookbook project).

Be a better friend
I'm quite a lazy friend.  I hide behind the excuse that I don't need to bother keeping in touch with close friends because 'when I see them again it always goes straight back to normal'.  And whilst there's a little bit of leeway here, given that we all lead busy lives and, a lot of my good friend, don't live close by, friendships - no matter how strong - need maintenance and care.  So this year, I'm going to aspire to be better.  I'm going to try and write more letters, send more little postcards and call people more often.

Pause before I buy 
I'm not too shabby at saving.  I usually manage to squirrel a little away each month for rainy days and sunny holidays, but every now and again I just get blinded by the desire to just have something, you know?  Then weeks later, in the cold light of day, I wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Did I really need to spend 60 quid on a new blog skin, when the one I have is perfectly fine?  Did I really need to splurge 100 pounds on a leather handbag when I already have three?  Sometimes the answer to that question is YES, ABSOLUTELY YES! but mostly it's No :(.  So in 2014, before I buy any large purchase (that can be bought at any time - making exceptions here for one-off's)  I will make myself wait 48 hours before paying for it in the hope that this little cooling down period will give the sensible me the chance to have a say...

Bring a packed lunch
I waste so much money on rubbish food from our canteen.  4.50 for a tiny baked potato with tuna mayonnaise?  1.50 for over-salted, watery soup?  Why do I do it to myself?  Bringing my own lunch is always better and cheaper and better and cheaper and better....

I think that's probably enough for the moment... do you have any resolutions this year?  I'd love to hear about them, but in the meantime, here's to a happy new year xx

Friday, 27 December 2013

The (not so) London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been...

Grateful for everything this week.  Good family and friends, lots of food, a warm home to come back to from London, Zozie (the black lab)... feeling really lucky.

Showing my ugly competitive streak during our Family's annual Christmas game playing.  Articulate is the worst.  I'm really dreadful.  

Wishing I had an AGA so badly.  My parent's have a gorgeous navy blue one and it's so lovely - like the heart of the home.  And nothing beats AGA toast.  Delicious!

131227 - The London Blog - London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been
131227 - The London Blog - London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been

Listening to loads of Mumford and Sons with my Mother.

Making home-made bailey's and chocolate cheesecake for our Christmas feast.

Reading Greenery Street - a charming novel about the life of a young couple living in Chelsea at the turn of the 19th century.  Apparently Greenery Street is based on a real life street - Walpole Street.  I think I may need to take a little trip over to West London when I'm back next week and investigate!

131227 - The London Blog - London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been

Visiting the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre.  I love this place.  Every time I'm back home, Mother and I go for lunch there.  They have some great exhibits and a lovely shop selling Scottish design pieces and jewellery.  

Excited about watching Death Comes to Pemberley (I'm a huge Darcy fan).

Cooing over my Nana's darling little dog, Fifi, who was looking extra festive this year with a little red bow for Christmas lunch.  Love her so much.

131227 - The London Blog - London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been

131227 - The London Blog - London Lifestyle - This Week I've Been

Thinking carefully about what my New Year's resolutions are going to be this year.  I know that many people think that they are a naff idea, but I think it's good to take the time to think about what you'd like to change and improve in your life...and the start of a New Year is as good a time as any to do that! 

Reminded that everything is not always as it seems.  It's really easy to judge people, but 9/10 you have very little idea of what's going on behind the scenes.  It's always best to be kind and generous.

Looking forward to getting back to work.  Is that really sad?  It is, I'm sure.  But I feel so rested and restored after this holiday, I'm now excited to get back to London and stuck in.  

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas from The London Blog!

Just a very short post to wish everyone a happy Christmas.   Thanks so much for reading my little blog this year, it's been great fun!  Eat and be merry :)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Recipe - Warm Steak Salad

Christmas for me is all about good food, and lots of it.  But I believe in trying to keep a sense of balance when it comes to what I eat, so where I can I try and sneak in some tasty, yet healthy meals.  And this salad is definitely that.  It's so warming, full of flavour and delicious.  So go on, make this for supper one night this week... you know you want to.

The London Blog - Chad does London - Recipes - Warm Steak Salad

Main Ingredients:
2 red peppers
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1 red onion
1 clove of garlic.
200g of good quality steak (I use sirloin)
200g of good quality goats cheese
1 bag of spinach
Splash of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1.5 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
A sprinkle of smoked paprika, a sprinkle of oregano, a sprinkle of sumac
A very healthy glug of olive oil (to bring the mixture up to a dressing like consistency)

- Start by chopping up the onions, peppers, tomatoes and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven until jammy and delicious.  Five minutes before they are done, pour over a healthy glug of balsamic vinegar.

- Whilst your veggies are roasting, marinade the steak.  Just mix all the marinade ingredients together in a little glass and then pour over your steak.  I usually just marinade it for 40 or so minutes, whilst my veggie's cook.  Once your veggies are about ready, start frying your steak.  I like to use a griddle pan.  Cook your steak to how you like it.  I like mine medium rare, so around 3 minutes on each side.  Leave to rest for a few minutes.

The London Blog - Chad does London - Recipes - Warm Steak Salad

- So, while your steak is resting, assemble the rest of the salad.  Mix the spinach leaves in with the warm veg.  The heat of the veg should wilt the greens slightly.  Mmmm.  Then crumble in the goats cheese and top with thick cut strips of your beautiful steak.  I top it all off with a drizzle of balsamic and a good dusting of freshly ground black pepper.  

Enjoy :) x

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Places to Eat in Islington - Brunch - Caravan Kings Cross

I've been keen to check this place out for a while.  Lots of people have been talking about it and it was reviewed very positively in Time Out last week.  The upside of this was that it was a fairly sure bet, the downside being that it was rammed.

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross
It was so rammed, in fact, that it was a 45 minute wait for a table inside.  So with this in mind, we threw caution to the gun-metal grey skies and took a gamble with an out door table on the patio.  The menu was varied, with lots to tempt the discerning bruncher.  Us girls opted for balsamic berry waffles with mascapone and vanilla syrup whilst the boys picked a corn and mercillo fritters dish and a middle eastern inspred aubergine puree and poached eggs plate.

The waffle dish was far too sweet.  The ratio of waffle to syrup was far too low - on the waffle side.  Had there been less syrup, it would have been an almost perfect meal as the waffles themselves were well cooked and the mascapone was lovely.  I had a taste of the boys' - both dishes were tasty, especially the Middle Eastern one.  Overall, worth a visit, but maybe wait a few months for the hype to calm down.

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross - Berry Waffles

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

After food, we took a walk around the area.  King Cross is looking good right now.  It no longer feels like the sort of place you expect to get your bag stolen / offered hard drugs.  It's cleaned up and is looking very shiny.  The walks along the canal back to Islington or up to Camden are really pleasant and make you feel like you're no longer in London.

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Chad does London - The London Lifestyle - Brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross

Places to Eat in Islington - The De Beauvoir Deli

Don't you just love a good deli? They're always such interesting little places, packed with goodies and treats and things you never knew you even wanted. And they serve tea and cake!
For the first time ever, I visited the very charming De Beauvoir Deli.  It's a smart sort of place, selling beautiful, if expensive, produce.  I ordered an Earl Grey and huddled under the outside awning and watched the world go by.  Pretty much my favourite way to start the weekend.