Indian food is extremely popular over here. Every street corner boasts a family-run Indian restaurant where spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric waft onto the street (no doubt the most effective way to entice hungry - or even not so hungry - passerby’s).
I was being taken out to the theater to see… crap, I know the name, I know the name… I loved the play, I loved the play… Noel & Gurtie! Hoorah! By my granny and Aunt Marion. Joy! No but seriously it wasn’t too bad. I quite enjoyed the old English accents and 1900 clothes. The highlight, however, was indeed the Indian food we shared beforehand.
They barely looked at the menu before deciding on Saag Paneer, Arhar Dahl, and Meethe Lassi among other mystery dishes. I quickly realise that these two women are expert-Indian-orderers (must be a London thing). With the waiter hovering over me, the weight of his pen expecting to lunge at his already busy notepad, my mental choice of chicken tikka with mixed veg seems rather ignorant. However I crack under pressure and agree to have a side of rice instead of the other strange sounding nouns that he consequently offers.
The food arrives. I suddenly wish I’d swallowed my pride and asked my fellow diners for advice before ordering my meek little dishes, no doubt designed for the average Australian tourist. Granny has ordered a delicious Dahl soup, Spinach with cheese cubes and some yummy brown flatbread (why couldn’t there have been an English translation next to all of these?!) while Marion has a spicy chicken and rice extravaganza (at least ten steps up from mine) with a yogurt drink topped with reddish spices and some herbed Naan bread. I end up stealing quite a bit of theirs, but they were none the wiser (thank you decay of old peoples’ eye sight!)
Now I’m really interested in exploring Indian recipes and familiarising myself with their weird and wonderful vocabulary. It seems the more adventurous the title, the more delicious the dish.
Hair Appointment - Like music to my ears! After two months of backpacking around Europe, there is no amount of shop-bought hair repairers that can fix my bedraggled mop on my head. My aunty who lives in London always teases me with her luscious blonde locks whenever she visits us in Melbourne, which is why I have booked an appointment with her very own hairdresser for next Saturday. I’ve been growing my hair for some time and keeping its natural colour (aka adhering to a fairly strict budget where even 1 euro on a water bottle seems extravagant). However the time has come to chop it all off and give it a bit of life. Blonde is the way forward and a simple shoulder length cut should restore its health!
Hair Appointment -
Like music to my ears! After two months of backpacking around Europe, there is no amount of shop-bought hair repairers that can fix my bedraggled mop on my head. My aunty who lives in London always teases me with her luscious blonde locks whenever she visits us in Melbourne, which is why I have booked an appointment with her very own hairdresser for next Saturday.
I’ve been growing my hair for some time and keeping its natural colour (aka adhering to a fairly strict budget where even 1 euro on a water bottle seems extravagant). However the time has come to chop it all off and give it a bit of life. Blonde is the way forward and a simple shoulder length cut should restore its health!
Paper Scissors Rock -
Or in other words, The Dilemma of the Best Friend’s Birthday Present
Felicity is one of the most creative people I know. Truth be told, she saves a lot of money hand-crafting every individual birthday present for her loved ones. And who doesn’t appreciate the time and energy that goes into a personally designed tailor-made gift? Much more meaningful than the £20 necklace waiting at the local department store (which, when tastefully selected, looks the convincing value of £80).
No, this year, the first year since her 11th birthday that I have actually been in the country for, I am making her present.
I love art. Always have, always will. Hell, I’m attending design college next year so you’d better hope I have at least an ounce of artistic talent.
The problems arise during the brainstorming process; the imaginative activity designed to generate ideas. Or, put more bluntly, What the hell do I make her???
After MUCH deliberation and wasted weeks that could have been usefully spent making the thing, I came up with an ingenious idea (if I do say so myself) of creating a canvas for her very own scrapbook. Throughout my time here in London, Floss has non-stopped talked about her dream to be a handbag designer (don’t laugh - childhood dreams can come true).
What better than a personally designed, tailor-made, hand-crafted sketchbook all ready for her to jot down every idea she has? It could be scribbles, meaningless words, bits of fabric, magazine cut-outs, anything that gets her design senses going.
So last Monday I set off toward Hampstead in search of Cass Art Supplies, a shop my Granny had recommended. It proved to be a very successful trip, whereby I scoured the shelves of various types of paper and rummaged through the array of identical-looking black sketchbooks until I found the perfect one; ring-bound and stacked with good quality drawing paper.
The idea is to ‘alterate’ this sketchbook and make it that extra bit special. I plan to fill it with loads of other types of papers that I picked out at the shop, including watercolour paper, oil paper, cardboard, and some others that basically looked and felt very cool. This way she can have loads of different surfaces to play with that will hopefully inspire various textures for her handbag designs!
I’ll design the cover for it too at some point. When I get motivated… Ugh, I’m no good at this home-made present thing!
Miranda Kerr Inspired Afternoon Tea -
OK look, I promise I am not one of those celeb-sessed teenagers who look to the A-list stars for inspiration. I genuinely believe that Miranda Kerr and I would make great friends.
Her passion for organics and a healthy, natural lifestyle generate great respect from me. We are very similar in what we like to eat, how we exercise (go yoga!!) and how we like to treat our skin. She has developed an organic skin care range called KORA which has a website of its own (www.koraorganics.com). As I was browsing the blog section, I discovered the ‘healthy recipes’ category, written by qualified nutritionists and other health experts. The antioxidant-rich sounding ‘Goji Berry and Nut Muesli Slice’ caught my attention immediately, as I have loads of these ingredients lying around in Granny’s pantry that I must consume within 5 weeks! (Argh! Have I really been overseas for nearly SIX months….?!!)
I LOVE to create nutritious little snacks in my spare time, which is how I have spent this lovely sunny afternoon here in Hendon. I know I should be outside but when you are motivated to cook, cook! And so, the goji berry/nutty slice adventure commenced…
Voila! Here they are: combined with a cup of herbal tea (for me it was a toss between green, white and chamomile) these little bites are totally delish!! And with loads of guilt-free goodness too…
P.S. Miranda has just released her first book, Treasure Yourself, which I hope will be waiting for me by the time I return to Australia as a welcome home present! (Love you, Mummy…)
Explained Absence -
I am horrified to admit that my last post was indeed set in my first place of visit for I am currently writing this in my familiar London home, having completed my full circle of Western Europe (and a tiny nibble of the East…)
It is with hesitation that I begin to resume my blog in a very humble manner, first explaining why it was that I disappeared from the world of tumbling.
It all happened over one too many cups of coffee that we consumed daily, or more honestly, hourly, in Biarritz. I was probably in the middle of writing my next post when the smell of freshly brewed caffeine tickled my senses. So, casually, I walked over to the kitchen and poured myself a cup. I sat back down to my beloved white Apple mac laptop and blah! The screen was blue! As one normal technologically competent student would do, I held down the power button to rest the bloody thing. But, alas, instead of the comforting and welcoming image of a half eaten apple, I was greeted with a picture of a folder with a ‘dreaded’ flashing question mark inside its borders. WHAT COULD THIS MEAN? I snatched Britt’s laptop practically off her lap and demanded we google-search this mysterious flashing question mark… What I discovered was of no comfort at all. My computer’s mechanisms had inexplicably self-corrupted and was no fault of my own.
So that was it - no more laptop for the rest of my travels. I was (and still am, as it still hasn’t been fixed; I have an appointment with Apple’s trusty store workers next week) mortified. My biggest worry? All of my travel photos! Thousands of pixels of London, Paris and Biarritz are stored on that little device which I worry may never be recovered.
So the blog resumes from here; hardly a travel blog anymore, but nevertheless I shall fill it with all the little things I get up to in attempt to distract my mind from the disastrous case of the laptop.
Dining With The French -
We’re on our way to Pauline’s older brother’s house about two hours drive from where were staying. Pauline wants to introduce Britt and I to her dad and his girlfriend, who will be cooking us a delicious and traditional French feast.
Already it is 9 o’clock at night and we have not yet even arrived, but our host assures us not to worry as late dinners are normal in France. Hmm… very late, indeed! For when we were finally welcomed into their home, it was an incredibly relaxed atmosphere. We were greeted with a very special glass of red wine, bought especially from Bordeaux that was apparently quite expensive, and, of course, completely delicious, while chatting in half english/half French kiddie-talk around a small table on thei balcony. Neither of the two parties spoke the others’ language very well so it was a challenge to say the least! However, Pauline’s kind translating managed to string a few fairly interesting conversations together.
Dinner wasn’t even talked about until about 10.30, by which time my poor tummy was begging for food! However it was worth the wait because what was to come was a truly unique experience for both Britt and myself…
A delicious fresh salad composing of various lettuce leaves, roughly chopped mango and avocado
Pan-fried pork strips in assorted herbs, served with fluffy white rice
A ‘tradition Biarritz special’, more commonly known as apple tart! But of the greatest sort…
After much wine, body language-fed conversation and heartfelt laughs, it was time to return home for some much needed sleep. The night was magical, one that I shall never forget. Thank you so much to Pauline and her lovely family.