Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sitting in an English garden - Part II: Kew Gardens

One fine Sunday in May three lovely ladies and I made our way to Kew Gardens in West London.

With a picnic lunch and rug in hand we followed the crowds on the short walk from the tube to the garden.

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have been around for 250 years and features glasshouses of exotic plant life and landscaped gardens.

We expected there to be an entry fee but were shocked to find tickets were £13.90 for an adult! Ouch! Plus they ask for an extra £2 voluntary donation, which we all declined to pay - we're certainly not made of money.

Much lighter in the pocket, we picked a lovely spot by a large pond by the entrance for lunch - we did have to be mindful a few cheeky birds who seemed pretty interested in our sandwiches.

Kew is huge so there was no way we were going to get to see it all. We chose to head anti-clockwise around the park making our way through greenhouses filled with cacti, fems, orchids and tropical flowers.

There are several historic buildings on the grounds including Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte's Cottage - unfortunately it costs a further £5.30 to get inside the Palace so no royal visit for us.

After enjoying a scoop of hokey pokey (I never knew you could get it outside of NZ!) we continued our walk through increasingly open spaces.

I think we were a little lost by this stage when we came across Queen Charlotte's Cottage - a seriously pimp cottage if you ask me - and had a walk through its sunny, open rooms.

I enjoyed the gardens considerably more than the greenhouse side of things - collections of foreign flora and fauna are not really my bag- I think I prefer my plants au natural.

Having said that, considering the cost of entry I don't think I'll be racing back anytime soon.

I think I'll spend the entry fee on a nice bottle of wine and head back over to Chiswick House.

What happened to Girl Power?

In the 15 years since the Spice Girls first won the hearts of girls all around the globe something very sinister is going on in the pop world.

Yesterday, while tackling a swiss ball at the gym my ears were subjected to a truly awful song - which sadly seems to be part of a larger trend in music.

Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" is just the latest bitchy girl track putting down her fellow sisterhood members.

"Get yourself together don't hate (never do it) / jealousy is the ugliest trait (don't ever do it) / I can talk about it cause I know that I'm pretty...  All eyes on me when I walk in / No question that this girl's a 10 / Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful" 

What happened to Girl Power? The Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, TLC, pretty much every girl band or pop star used to sing songs for the girls, not against them.

Other songs that fit into this category are Don't Cha by the Pussycat Dolls, which -aside from the cringe worthy spelling- talks about convincing a man to ditch his lady for the said "freak" singer. 

A serial offend of girl-on-girl-hate-songs is Miss (she really is too old to pretend to be a teenager) Avril Lavigne.

First up there was Sk8er Boi (what's up with chick haters and bad language skills).

"He was a punk/She did ballet/What more can I say?" 

A lot more actually! While I have never worn a tutu I'd like to know just what's wrong with a ballet girl? What's your beef Avril?

Her most recent offering is truly the pinnacle of sister vs sister.
Girlfriend, sigh, the video shows a "punk" sabotaging the relationship of a little redheaded nerd (ginger hate much!) which is almost as bad as her guitar playing and the lyrics.

"Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your girlfriend /No way, no way, I think you need a new one / Hey, hey, you, you, I could be your girlfriend"

Pure genius.
"So come over here and tell me what I wanna hear / Better yet, make your girlfriend disappear / I don't wanna hear you say her name ever again."

Come on music makers - stop putting hateful songs in the mouths of these girls! I can picture nothing worse than a dance floor full of ladies singing "Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your girlfriend" at the top of their lungs.

You make us women sound like bitchy, catty, nasty people out to get what's not ours.

Now, to make everyone feel a little better, here's an example of cheesy pop that doesn't pit girl against girl.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Sitting in an English garden - Part I: Chiswick House

Spring time in London is a wonderful time of year.

Long days, non-freezing nights, sun in the morning and evening means no travelling to and from work in the dark.

And what better way to celebrate blossoms and springtime cheer than visiting an English garden.. or two.

My first stop on a mild April day was Chiswick House and Gardens just a 15 minute walk from our flat.

Built in 1729, a loop around the Villa's Roman style gardens is around 2.4 km.

Despite being surrounded by the A4, as soon as you pass through the gates to the park all noise from the outside world disappears.

English gardens, flowers, a large glass house, sculptures and buildings line the walk through the grounds and all provide a fitting background to Chiswick House.

Entry to gardens is free and it costs a mere £6 to access the house (and that includes an audio guide).

The ground floor of the house feels cool and calm, while the upper rooms are warm and vibrant. Several rooms are covered with paintings and luxurious wallpapers and really are extravagant.

Next visit I plan to bring a rather large picnic basket complete with lashings of ginger beer and cucumber sandwiches.

Some things to look forward to

Instead of apologising for the lack of blogging activity, I thought I wet your appetites with a small taster of what is to come....

London Sevens (like a drunk United Nations)
Kew Gardens (a hell of a lot of plants)
Facebook: the great reunite-er (this could be interesting)
Job hunting advise for London Newbies (several super talented friends are looking for work so what better time to share.)
and my summer getaway (a chance to brag)

*Phew* I certainly have a lot to be getting on with! Until next time...

xox K

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Damn Aussie Neighbours

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours - in our case we get a psychotic blond Australian Sheila.

We live in an old house that has been converted into five flats.

The week we moved in we received our first passive aggressive note pasted to the joint mail box - kindly reminding us the rubbish gets collected on Wednesdays and a certain person doesn't like to walk passed it everyday.

Not a knock on the door, not a little message through the door, just a weak-ass public message.

The first time Nick saw her in the flesh was when he was taking out our bin and helped her with hers as well. And what did he get for his troubles? Not a thank you but a screechy Australian lecture.

The rest of our meetings with 'the beast' have revolved around tellings off about leaving the door open (seriously not us) and reminders that she OWNS her flat while we're just renters.

We live closest to the door and everytime she comes in proceeds to slam it in a completely unnecessary fashion. This has lead Nick to curse her to fall down the stairs each time she comes traipsing up and down.

I'll try to capture any future PA notes for your viewing pleasure.

Until next time.


Monday, 9 May 2011

Royally Long Weekends

Even though this is over a week late, you can't be a blogger living in London and not mention the Royal Wedding.

Coming in the second half of two much needed long weekends, a day off work is a great way to get in the mood.

The first thing that surprised me was just how early the whole thing started - an early night for the bride and groom then.

I had my own relatively early start to make my way across town to a friends Tea Party & Pimms outing in Clapham.

Throughout Chiswick pubs were covered in flags and bunting - the Tabard Theatre was in a particularly festive mood. On my way to the train station I passed several little girls in their own Princess outfits.

Now to the ceremony. With limited religious knowledge I had no idea just how long Anglican wedding ceremonies were - and they certainly do go on. I wonder how it compares to a Catholic one.

I just loved the Queen's scene stealing yellow. And when the congregation sung the national anthem I also love that she just gets to nod and have a little smile to herself. She's so PIMP!

Can't remember what the other guests wore, I remember a crazy amount of hats.

Despite the length and heaps of stuff I didn't understand, I will admit to suffering Wedding Fever.
If you ever find yourself in a royal wedding make sure you pack a snack, some form of music player & a book. Or some of those glasses with the eyes painted on.

We were all pleasantly surprised by Kate's dress and quickly googled Grace Kelly's similar outfit.

Then when William couldn't get the ring on - OMG we were all shouting at the TV. I guess her fingers swelled up a bit with the stress.

Overall it made for a sweet and interesting television experience. Definitely one for the girls.