Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Missing: Spring In My Step

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Missing: Spring

Last seen during mid-April and the beginning of May wearing a vivid coat of sky blue and a sunshine yellow coloured floppy hat. Often accompanied with a Mr. Whippy ice cream (with a flake on top, I'll have you know) and ludicrously happy star jumps on a blanket of brilliantly green grass.

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If found, please ask for spring to return to us. We have swan-shaped rowing boats doing a twirl on the lake and I've worn my favourite Marvel tee and some floral jeans to make it feel more at home. We'll do numerous leaps of joy and celebrate prematurely with a grand ol' whiff of some shrimps on the barbie. 

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 photo IMG_1557_zps184d49f2.jpg[marvel tshirt - Primark, floral jeans - H&M, denim headband - Primark, Converse - Office]

Warning: 20C heat on British soil will make its habitants deliriously happy (especially after one too many jumps that transforms a 21-year old to a giddy 6-year-old) so please prepare for the jeans to turn to ripped denim shorts and the t-shirt to be replaced with a crop top.

Who are we kidding?

Any sign of sun will have us reaching for our bikinis and ice-filled drinks quicker than you can say 'OH HEEEY'.

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Psst... we prefer you to our British 'summers' anyway.

You're way hotter than July and August.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Haystack Climbin' and Mud Phobias

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We've known each other for quite a while now, right?

Well, I think it's about time that I confess to a rather embarrassing little phobia of mine... No laughing or judging behind your screens, OK? I'm scared of mud. That's right, the wet sludge that clings itself onto the soles of your shoes and decides to build a hardened home out of shriveled strands of grass. Yeeeurrkkk. Even the thought of it makes my hands clam up and my toes curl together. My childhood was therefore, sans mud. Whilst my friends rolled themselves down muddy hills on rainy days, I'd stand by the edge on the concrete with my glaring white trainers wincing at the sight.  It's fair to say that I've never been much of an outdoorsy person...

...So I had never experienced the joys of jumpin' onto a haystack on a warm spring day.

Until now.

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This was shot during the Easter weekend shortly after we had returned from Brighton's Food Festival with a plump tummy and a rustled up paper bag of freshly baked focaccia.

Side note: forgive me for the delay with putting this post up, frustratingly, I'm still ill so I'm running behind a backlog of photos that should have been up a month ago. I'm slowly getting there, sorry!

As Jordan lives seconds away from the South Downs, the haystack castle that sat proudly on top of the yellow-dotted hills caught our eye as we were driving back to his house.

"I bet you've never climbed on top of one of those, have you?"

"Well, er... nope."

After some convincing and a few nudges along the bumpy path, I found myself tip-toeing across and slowly start to relax as I took each step on the (dry) earthy ground. Hey, this isn't that bad.  

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The blanket of flowers that greeted me as we reached the very top stopped me in my tracks. You could see a glimmer of the sea peeking out from the top and the vast blue canvas sweeping across the sky. Whilst I'll never be a proper flower child, I couldn't help but appreciate the simple beauties of nature.

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Now, this took me several attempts and a few strangled yelps before I even got to the top. These short stumps will only take you so far and let me tell you, they certainly weren't made for any climbin'.

In the end, Jordan had to put the camera down, scramble to the top and hoist me up before returning to the ground to record my triumphant moments of being the king of the (haystack) world.

I loved every moment of it. I spun, I twirled, I waved my arms and yelled out "THIS IS SO COOOOOOOL. I'M SO TAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL."

Buddy wanted to join us but his four paws wasn't have any of it.

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After a few more wobbly dances at the top, I leapt back down with a huge grin on my face and my breath caught in my throat. It was so much fun! Why have I never done this before?!

We spent the last remaining hours of sunlight sitting on one of the stacks, looking out into the sea and ripping off bits of bread to nibble on. It was drizzled in olive oil and topped with sun dried tomatoes. I fed Buddy some and he mopped it up, burped and beckoned us to return home.

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So, that's my first adventure with mud/grass and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would've been. I won't be taking mud baths any time soon but I feel less stupid about this silly little fear.

I even went camping last weekend with Jordan for the London to Brighton Mini Run (and survived to tell the tale - post coming soon!)

In the mean time, if you want to see a video version of me (not so) elegantly jumping onto the haystacks or fancied the dashing pink coat that leaped up with me, I present to you my latest lookbook for spring outerwear.

Before I go, does anyone else have any weird phobias to share?

Come on, we're all friends here.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Roman Holiday #2: Scooteroma Vintage Vespa Tour, Pantheon and Giolitti

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Day two of our Roman Holiday consisted of Scooteroma's 'Roamin' Holiday' Vespa tour.

This was the highlight of our entire trip.
No, scratch that. 
This was one of the best experiences of my life.

What better way to discover the Eternal City than to experience it on the back of a vintage Vespa? Jordan and I have always been a huge fan of the two-wheeled scooter so I didn't hesitate to book a surprise 4-hour tour as his birthday present.

Wanna see my makeshift Photoshop job that I printed and framed ready for him to open?

Audrey and Gregory, is dat chu?

Annie and Giovanni are the wondrous couple behind Scooteroma - whilst we didn't have the chance to meet them, there was constant communication to ensure that everything was booked and well looked after. As it's a private tour, it's completely tailored to your personal preference. We asked to be shown the hidden gems of Rome - the attractions that weren't always included in a typical tourist guidebook.

We were left in the (very) capable hands of their tour leader Michele and friend Claudio. They rolled up at precisely 9AM on a monochrome set of vintage wheels, introduced themselves, invited us to hop on, fired up their engines and away we went!

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Being a klutz and a magnet for embarrassment, I had visions of me tumbling onto the road wailing at the others to save me from the Roman traffic. Thankfully, nothing of the sort happened. Claudio was a great driver, made me feel completely at ease and I even managed to take a sneaky selfie whilst riding at the back. That glorious picture is a-comin' up - no shame.

Our first stop was the Colosseum as it was only a stone's throw away from our hotel.

Now, this was a complete surprise. Although I had booked a 4-hour, it didn't click that we'd actually stop off at the attractions and be talked through it all. Being a complete history and architecture buff, I loved it. 

As a born-and-bred Roman, Michele was very passionate about his city's past and his love for Rome completely shone through and just made everything even more exciting than it already was. I later found out that he was a foodie too and bugged him to mark down all the best places to eat ;)

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Look at dat grinnin' face.

We strolled around the Roman Baths and stopped off at the Appian Way (the earliest and most important roads of Ancient Rome) before our visit to the Cimitero Acattolico, a peaceful resting ground for non-Catholics and notably English poet John Keats. 

The greenery, flowers and blossoming trees that surrounded the cemetery was truly breathtaking. This was somewhere that truly celebrated the lives that were lead rather than mourn the deaths from the past. 

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Shortly afterwards, we zoomed over to Testaccio to rub elbows with the locals for an espresso and cornetti pit stop. I can only describe the neighbourhood as the equivalent of London's Shoreditch/Hackney/Brick Lane when the East was still an up-and-coming area.

There was plenty of street art, an abundance of bars and a great selection of restaurants to pick from. 

Next stop? The Aventine Hill - my favourite neighbourhood of Rome.

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(yes, I felt like Lizzie McGuire)

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Brightly coloured apartments with a spectrum of blossoming trees lined the Aventino, it was surreal to ride along with our sunglasses on and the heat of the sun warming our skin.

If there's one place that I would recommend after you've done all the typical tourist visits, it's the Aventine Hill Keyhole. I had marked it down as a priority on my little holiday notebook and wasn't disappointed with the view that greeted me after a little sneak through the keyhole. Please also stroll over to the Garden of Oranges for towering fruit trees and an awesome view of the city!

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Our second to last stop at the Gianicolo Hill was a treat for ze eyes. We were greeted with an incredible panoramic view of Rome with the Eternal City laid out in all its glory. 

Oh, I miss it.

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Said selfie.

It just had to be done, no judging.

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Our tour ended with a quick vespa photo outside the Vatican before we bid our farewells at Campo De' Fiori (Field of Flowers). Michele kindly helped us order us 5 (five!) slices of pizza al taglio from the famous Forno Campo De' Fiori. Make sure to order the pizza bianca although my personal favourite was cheese and courgette! Another thing ticked off my foodie list ;)

With a tremendous food baby shared between us, we walked (it felt like we were crawling after zooming on two wheels!) over to the Piazza Navona - a busy city square filled with street performers and artists. I'd liken it to an Italian version of Covent Garden!

We snapped away at the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and came across this incredible artist. I've always wanted to witness those spray-painted paintings and was happy to take home a custom made picture of the Colosseum! : )

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This wouldn't be a Roman Holiday without a gelato stop ;)

I had heard really great things about Giolitti and the reviews were right - it was incredible. They also served cute little pastries and a delectable array of sweet goods. 

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All gone.

Jordan went for a nutella flavour and we swear to you, it tasted like pure, thick, rich nutella. It was heaven for the tastebuds.

To walk off our gelato bumps, we headed for the Pantheon - one of the oldest buildings of Rome and a temple to the Ancient Gods. It's also known for the circular opening in the domed ceiling and it's well worth a visit for the architecture alone!

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More walking!

We decided to put our two-day Colosseum ticket to good use by exploring the Roman Forums and Palatine Hills.

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Jordan doing a grand job of drinking from the fountains Roman style.

It must have wetted his appetite as after a quick rest at the hotel, it was time for dinner.

Carbs, we're ready for you.

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I went for the classic lasagne and Jordan chose Rome's national pasta dish: la carbonara.

My stomach is rumbling at the sight of them.

It was the best lasagne that I've ever had. The flavours all blended together beautifully and I made a few awkward noises that often escape when I'm having good food. Jordan's was amazing too as he was hesitant to offer me any extra bites of his dish.

You'd think after some bread, pasta and even more wine, we'd call it a day.


There's always room for dessert.

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Ending our second day in Rome with a trip to the Trevi Fountain armed with our second helping of San Crispino gelato at night was a verrrrry good idea.

We threw in our coins and wished to come back to Rome again very soon.

A man also offered to take a Polaroid picture of us by the fountain and it's now my favourite photo of all time - of ALL TIME. I smiled from ear to ear during our walk back to the hotel - luckily, I didn't walk into too many lamp posts as my eyes were just on this the whole time.

I'm falling more and more in love with Rome... and its food.

Day three comin' up!

In the mean time, have a look at our Roman Holiday in video form : )

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