Monday 28 July 2014

Review: Backyard Cinemas

Cinema under the stars on a muggy, clear London evening - bliss.

Backyard Cinema has launched a summer series of film screenings on the cobbles on Camden Lock showing everything from cult favourites like Spinal Tap and the Goonies to classics like the Grease and Ghostbusters.

Movie viewers kickback in comfy deckchair and luxury beanbags; and just in case things get a little nippy you can hire a fleecy throw for £1 and snuggle up.

We were there for a special preview event - the first time for organisers and stuff to run through everything before the public screenings.

Relaxing in our deckchairs with full stomachs from the various Camden Market food stalls, as darkness finally came we settled in popcorn in hand.

A SMALL Negative
Maybe picking a film that's run time comes in at two and a half hours was not a the greatest idea for a test screening.

As with any preview event hiccups are to be expected, but a half hour delay in the screening of Pulp Fiction meant the credits didn't roll until after last Tube time - not an ideal situation on a Tuesday night.

I'm sure timing issues will have been sorted out by the main screenings.

The BIG Positives
Fantastic location. Great sound, clear screen and great seating (many outdoor cinemas ask guest to bring their own).

All the staff were friendly and the popcorn and drinks delicious. 

Backyard Cinema runs until September 4.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

iPhoneography with Foto Ruta: Photo Touring Around East London

One unusually sunny Friday afternoon I was lucky enough to join the team at Foto Ruta for a run-through of one of their photography workshops as they got ready to launch their first London-based tours.

Foto Ruta got their start on the streets of Buenos Aires, and from there they have spread to several major cities including Vancouver, Barcelona and, of course, London.

The company's tours are part photography workshop, part walking tour taking in sights, history, art and photo tips.

I was invited to take part in their iPhoneography course which teaches you how to get the most out of your smartphone's camera while exploring some of East London's best street art.

Over a coffee we were given a run down of our phone's software and practiced using their recommend apps. The guides adjust the content to the level of the group so don't worry if you're a complete smartphone photography novice.

We hit the streets - phones in aeroplane mode - and for the next 3 hours we snapped our way through the streets focusing on architecture, street art, colour, shadow, reflection, angles and people.

After filling our phones with pictures we settled down to a glass of wine and spent some time putting the finishing touches on our shots with a spot of editing. After we were suitable happy with our images the group went through the pictures giving advice, tips and praise to our finished products.

Even though I've lived in London for nearly 4 years, this tour made me realise just how much of the city I've yet to discover and reminded me of the little pieces of beauty hidden all across London.

But my favourite part of the experience was discovering that I could take a pretty decent picture with my little Moto G smartphone and a bit of help from Aviary and Snapseed.

People. iPhoneography London. Photo by Kara Segedin

Shadows. iPhoneography London. Photo by Kara Segedin

People. iPhoneography London. Photo by Kara Segedin

Fresh Prince: Graffiti Life, Cheshire Street, Shoreditch, London. Photo by Kara Segedin
Stick figures by Stik. Photo by Kara Segedin

Stick figures by Stik. Photo by Kara Segedin

Street Art. Photo by Photo by Kara Segedin

Street Art. Photo by Photo by Kara Segedin

Street Art. Photo by Photo by Kara Segedin

Street Art. Photo by Photo by Kara Segedin

Colour. iPhoneography London. Photo by Kara Segedin

Hedgehog by ROA. Photo by Kara Segedin

Stick figures by Stik. Photo by Kara Segedin

Wednesday 2 April 2014

My Favourite Travel Meal: Germany, Croatia, Bosnia, Japan

When asked to pick my favourite travel meal I simply couldn't single out one of the many memorable feasts I've enjoyed around the world to stand out above the rest, so instead I narrowed it down to five. 

Whether because of the the location, the company or, of course, the food these meals will always hold a special place in my taste memory...


Sausages and sauerkraut - you can't go wrong with that.

We'd been warned that it can be fairly difficult to find traditional German cuisine in this multicultural city. With it being the husband's birthday we asked Visit Berlin for their expert opinion and they didn't disappoint. 

Das Meisterstueck offers traditional German meals with a modern twist. You'll find Bratwurst served alongside salmon and tofu sausages.

After a selection of starts from their display, I went for the classic six original Nueremberg sausages with Sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish…

With a selection of craft German beers on offer and fantastic service it was the perfect birthday dinner.
Nueremberg sausages with Sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish. Photo by Kara Segedin


Dining alone is something I've experienced numerous times. Sometimes it's a little awkward, especially if you're eating in an impersonal hotel restaurant, but largely it's a relaxing and enjoyable escape.

On my last trip to Northern Croatia I had a full day to myself to explore the seaside promenade (Lungomare) that stretches all the way from Preluka in Opatija to Lovran.

The 11km track is best undertaken at a leisurely pace with plenty of pauses for swimming, sunbathing, drinking and eating.

Around lunchtime I came across the traditional peka (Croatian BBQ) restaurant Lučica in Ičići. 

Built right onto the track, the restaurant with it’s thousands of colourful shells is hard to miss.

Taking a seat on one of the long benches I tucked into a fantastically fresh meal of BBQ'd squid (lignje) and salad. 

Sea breeze, boats, a cool glass of ice tea (ledeni čaj), a chilled out atmosphere and a great dish for one. 

Welcome to Lučica, Ičići, Croatia. Photo by Kara Segedin.
Lučica, Ičići, Croatia. Photo by Kara Segedin.
Lignje (squid) at Lučica, Ičići, Croatia. Photo by Kara Segedin.

Food with a view. Lučica, Ičići, Croatia. Photo by Kara Segedin.


Good food and good company in the form of two new friends - one of travel's finest pleasures.

I'd only met Rebecca and Phil a few days before at the start of our Balkan Road Trip (Med Experience) through Bosnia and were getting along swimmingly.

It was a chilly early October evening in Sarajevo as our trio made our way to the highly recommended (by our expert local-guide - "make sure you order the bread" he said) Dveri Restaurant.

The food throughout our trip had exceeded expectation - fresh, comforting, hearty and moreish (not a cuisine for the carb-aphobs out there) - and the dinner we had a Dveri didn't disappoint. 

Starting with a loaf of freshly baked pogača loaf and Ajvar (capsicum/pepper) dip and a large glass of red, we relaxed as the cosy restaurant quickly filled up.

My main meal of beef goulash also proved to be the perfect choice - warm, rich and completely satisfying.

A memorable evening sharing good food and wine with a couple of new friends. 
Homemade bread and Ajvar at Dveri, Sarajevo, Bosnia. Photo by Kara Segedin.
Dveri Goulash at Dveri, Sarajevo, Bosnia. Photo by Kara Segedin.
New friends at Dveri, Sarajevo, Bosnia. Photo by Kara Segedin.


In June 2013, in the village of my Segedin ancestors, we sat down to the most delicious homemade lunch served up by the team at Konoba Mate.

This was my second trip to Korčula and Pupnat, and Nick's (the other half) first.

After hiring what must have been the only automatic car on the island we went out to explore stopping at most of the villages and getting a little lost.

Korčula has a lot of potential for tourists outside the Old Town and I think it's only going to increase in popularity.

After exploring the beach at Pupnatska Luka we came back to sleepy little Pupnat for a bite to eat at the often recommended Konoba Mate.

We were quickly seated with our menus, and a bottle of old man-strength apéritif, and were soon joined by the a rather elderly local dog.

The food: fresh, clean, filling and well worth the trip.

Delicious entrée at Konoba Mate, Pupnat, Korčula. Photo by Kara Segedin.
Baba's Meatballs with homemade pasta at Konoba Mate, Pupnat, Korčula. Photo by Kara Segedin.
Chillin' in Konoba Mate, Pupnat, Korčula with a rather deadly apéritif. Photo by Kara Segedin.


It was a simple meal of chicken, vegetables and rice. We sat on the sunken tables you see in movies (very difficult in a denim skirt). We had to mime turning on a tap to ask for water. The whole thing cost around NZ$10 per person (a minor miracle in Tokyo I'm told).

Aside from the family holiday to the Gold Coast when I was 12 this was my first proper overseas experience.

For our 2004 university winter break, best friends Anja, Roxane and I spent a whole month in Croatia.

Flying with JAL we were treated to a night in Tokyo before the final leg of our flight to Rome.

Our hotel (seemingly in the middle of nowhere) offered a complimentary shuttle into the city so we jumped aboard to make the most of the handful of hours we had in Japan. 

This was our first meal together on what would be a life changing adventure.

The first of many.
Anja & Roxane: Chopstick pros. Photo by Kara Segedin
After our first meal in Japan. Photo by Kara Segedin

What was your favourite travel meal? Share your story (or link) below.

Thursday 2 January 2014

2014 Travel Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! 

Two days into 2014 and the London sun is shining - that's got to be a good omen - and hopefully the year is starting how it means to go on as in a matter of days I'll be jetting down to New Zealand for the first time in 21 months. 

Aside from the jaunt to Aotearoa my year is a blank slate when it comes to travel - all I know is I have 4 weeks to spare and an extremely itchy pair of feet.

While I have no set plans a girl can still dream - so here is my travel wishlist for 2014...

Turkey Sailing

Stunning coastlines and cheap prices, Turkey is the new Croatia when it comes to European sailing holidays.

As Dalmatia grows in popularity and prices inevitably rise, the gulet sailing trip is looking like a winner.

Sun, sea and lazy days - bliss!

Photo by
Photo by

Group Travel

Russia, Morocco, Jordan - these three destinations are high up on my must-visit list, but there's a catch - I'd like to visit with an organised tour.

After the incredible experiences I had on tours in Egypt in 2011 and more recently in Bosnia, I believe certain locations are best experienced with local guide.

People have a lot of preconceptions about organised tours - most will be wrong - but nothing beats having a guide who can speak the local language, understands the customs and can give you a direct inroad into the country and  the culture.

Photo by
Morocco. Photo by
Russia. Photo by
Petra, Jordan. Photo by


A little closer to home, I also dream of an Irish road trip in 2014.

It shames me to say in the last three year's of living in the UK I've only managed to make it to Belfast, so this year will be the one where I explore my adopted backyard.

Watch out Emerald Isles - I'm coming for you.

Photo by
Photo by
Photo by

Tuesday 24 December 2013

A Traveller's Christmas Tree

A couple of years back, I started collecting Christmas decorations on my travels. Pretty, small and easy to transport, they are the perfect memento.

The collection is still small, some of the ornaments are back in New Zealand, but I think they add a little something a little special alongside the more traditional lights and baubles.

Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy 

August 2012: It was a stinking hot day when we travelled from our apartment in Riomaggiore. Vernazza was my favourite of the 'five earths' that make up Cinque Terra. I would love to go back one day, but maybe not at the peak of summer.

Mykonos, Greece

October 2012: My second journey to Greece and my first visit to the famed island of Mykonos.
Travelling in the last week of the tourist season, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this wasn't the party-crazed island I'd always imaged, but a naturally beautiful place with friendly locals, pretty whitewashed towns and delicious food. When can I come back?

St Paul's, London, UK

April 2013: An overcast grey London Saturday found Nick and me atop my favourite building in London - St Paul's Cathedral.
I love everything about this place, the history, the calm, the beauty and the view - even the climb to get up there!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

June 2013: After escaping the heavy midday sun in my favourite place to sit and people watch in front of Town Hall and the Marin Držić Theatre, I bought this cute leather heart off a woman selling trinkets just outside Dubrovnik Cathedral. 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

July 2013: On what was one of the hottest days in Belfast ever, and on the weekend on the infamous Twelfth, we explored the incredible Titanic Belfast exhibit. 
It's everything a museum should be, informative yet very human and touching. It also manages to go beyond the Titanic and explore the impact shipbuilding had on Belfast as a whole.

Barcelona, Spain

November 2013: The newest addition to the collection, this little beauty was picked up at Casa Batlló. 
Is there anything more appropriate than a Gaudi-esque decoration from Barcelona?

Berlin, Germany

February 2013: The iconic traffic light men of East Berlin, I found these little Ampelmännchen after cycling through the snowy streets of Berlin and not being able to feel my fingers.

Reykjavík, Iceland 

December 2012: Though we spent most of our Icelandic Christmas in Akureyri, I had to buy this little guy in Reykjavik as there were no shops open in the north.
He reminds me of snow, thermal pools, huskies, snow and long nights.  

New York City, USA

August 2010: The classic Statue of Liberty. NYC was the last stop on our epic two month road trip from LA and this was the first official piece in my Christmas decoration collection. 

The Tree

Merry Christmas everyone reading this - I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family - or a relaxing day on your own is good too.

See you in the New Year.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Barcelona by Instagram

In November, Nick and I headed off for a nice little mini-break in Barcelona.

Our first time in Spain, and while the weather was certainly on the chilly side, we were greeted with brilliantly blue skies and a soft warm sun.

One bonus of travelling in the cooler months is you get to enjoy most of the famous sights in relative quiet.

Before I tell you more about our trip (I promise I will), here's a little pictorial roundup courtesy of my Instagram account...

Sunday 1 December 2013

I think I finally love my hair

After two and a bit years in London I finally found a hairdresser I could work with.

Her name was Mel. She was lovely, she was Croatian, and unlike many a hair dresser in this city she was able to cope with my mane.

The problem I had with many British hairdressers is they seem reluctant to thin hair. It's as if they have never heard of the magic of thinning scissors.

But Mel did her best - she thinned, she layered and seemed to understand the needs of a my giant head of hair and I trusted her to do her work.

And then, a year into our relationship, she was gone. 

About three months ago, I headed back to the now Mel-less salon and placed my locks in the hands of another, surely equally talented, stylist, but it was not to be. Sure, she was nice enough, but it was back to a world where thinning scissors cease to exist and I left as big and bouffy as I went in - minus a few split ends.

For a first 20 or so years of my life I guess you could say I had a put-up-with-it/hate relationship with my hair.

Reddish brown (auburn I would remind anyone who suggested it was ginger) thick, unruly and slightly curly with a good dose of frizz. If I were a teen in the 80s I would have been at the forefront of fashion. 

As a child and a teenager the only people who had anything nice to say about it was hairdressers and old people. To this day every time I visit a new hairdresser they will say the same exact two things "you have such lovely hair" and "is that your natural colour?" occasionally followed by "some people pay a lot of money to have hair that colour" - oh really, then why don't I see more people with this colour hair then?

In my last year of high school I started dying it  - mainly dark brown, but I also experimented with jet black, pink and blue strips and blonde. After that I tried highlights, low lights and tinted shampoos.

It was around this time that I also stopped brushing my hair and what a difference that made! My frizzy red afro was gradually replaced with big waves. Still largely out-of-control, but at least if wasn't so terrible.

Add to this various experiments with hair straighteners (I'm far to lazy to commit the hours needed to make this a regular habit) and you have many years spent fighting nature.

However, somewhere during the last three years of living in London I have come to a place of acceptance. 

It's been nearly four years since a piece of foil or dye touched my head and in that time I think I've reached a place of acceptance.

Three months after my last disappointing hair appointment, I ventured out on Saturday to try a different neighbourhood salon on for size and what can I say, I think I've found a winner.

Layers, layers and more layers, plus she did this weird thing where she twisted my hair up and then made three little cuts along the strand and brushed it out. Instantly lighter. Bliss.

In conclusion, the secret to loving my hair: no brush, a spot of well placed thinning and embracing the ranga. 

What is your hair relationship?