Sunday 21 February 2016

A week in London

It's been a while since I posted something.
I'm sorry for my absence!

My January wasn't that interesting (just me trying to eat and live healthier and actually succeeding! Let's hope I can keep this pace...) but February has started well, beginning with a two week break from work.

During the first week I went to see my sweetheart in London. As he was working long hours I had the week days all for myself. I knew that was going to be the case already, so I went prepared and used my days to see friends and places which I usually don't have time to see when I'm only there for the weekend.

I arrived on Friday. As the frequent travellers out there will appreciate the flight can be quite tiring, so we usually try to do something in the local area for dinner. We went to The Wine Gallery and I ordered my usual gyoza and the quinoa salad which are both delicious.

On Saturday we had a family afternoon and evening with my bf's parents, starting with a walk through Hampstead Heath (one of my favourite places in London), followed by dinner at a local pub, and taking in a play at the Hampstead Theatre.

The play we saw that night was Rabbit Hole, some of you guys may have heard of it, as there is a movie production that came out in 2010 starring Nicole Kidman.
It's definitely worth seeing, the actors were all excellent and it's one of those plays that makes you spend the journey back home thinking about it. I think my boyfriend would agree, as he was sitting quiet next to me on the way home. It's near the end of its run (ends March the 5th), but if you get the chance head over to the Hampstead Theatre for an evening, it's a lovely theatre.

Sunday was a lazy day, we had my bf's parents over for brunch, trying out the bagels from the new bagel place close to the flat (B Bagel Bakery Bar). Afterwards we headed down to the Duke of York Square to go and have a look at the new hang at the Saatchi Gallery. The Saatchi is quickly becoming one of my favourite galleries, as it always surprises me, sometimes in good ways and sometimes "bad" (it isn't actually bad, but more shocking, like the time they had flags made out of human hair).

Monday was kind of a "me" day. I finally managed to get my first London haircut. A friend of mine that used to live in London (she now lives in Italy, go and check out her amazing illustrations!) recommended that I go to Pimps & Pinups, situated in Spitalfields. Even though I've been visiting London regularly for more than 2 years now I have never been in that area. That early afternoon I left that area with shorter hair and a lot of new impressions.

Lesson learned that day: don't hold your cup of tea (thanks for that good service Pimps & Pinups!) while your hair gets cut, your next sip is going to be hairy!

I can recommend that hairdresser team, as they are (by what you can see on their instagram) quite creative with hair colours. I wish I was more adventurous with my hair, but at the moment I'm quite happy with my natural colour :) The head massage that came with the haircut was quite possibly the best I have ever had (don't we all go to the hairdresser to enjoy a good head rub?!).

Tuesday I went to Canary Wharf to see some friends. One for a coffee, one for lunch. I spent the afternoon at the Tate Modern. Now I have to ask you my dear readers, what is so attractive for artists to use human hair to make some art? I'm sorry, I really don't get this trend! Besides that I really enjoyed the Tate Modern.

There are two ways I like to take to reach the Tate Modern:
  1. Take the bridge from St. Paul Cathedral
  2. Walk along the South Bank.
Either way you get amazing views. I usually come from one way and leave the other.

At the moment they have an exhibition of Alexander Calder. I didn't see the exhibition as I was a bit rushed for time, but I stopped for a moment to look at the video they were showing outside of the exhibition. It looks like they have done an event (couldn't find anything about it on the www) where they combined the mobile of Calder with music. It was just a short impression of that video, but I liked the idea of transposing a piece of art from one medium to another.

On Wednesday I met another friend for lunch, this time on Oxford Street. Close by was the new flagship store of Lush and OMG, have you ever been in there? If you like Lush, you will enter to Lush-paradise! I ended up leaving the store with: 1 Dragon's egg, 1 Lover lamp, 1 Intergalactic, 1 Guardian of the forest, 1 Ladybird and 1 other bubble bar that I can't find its name anymore (it's similar to the comforter but with a butterfly on it). That week I ended up having way too many baths!

Guardian of the forest
Thursday was the day I promised my bf to meet him for lunch... that never happened! It's all because of a book. Did it ever happen to you that you start a book and are not able to put it down? That book for me was Disclaimer from Renée Knight. At 11 am I realized that my book would not allow me to leave it there halfway, so I had to cancel the lunch date. Luckily my bf's hectic work schedule meant that this came more as a relief for him!

Thursday was probably the day with the best weather during my stay in London and I spent it mostly reading in the flat. I felt bad about it, so at 2.30 pm I decided to go for a run. Put my gear on and went out. For the first time I managed to run to Battersea Park. I'm sure I'll run back there many other times as it's such a nice run. After the run I took a comforter bath while constantly reading.

I managed to finish the book on Friday morning, just in time to go and join a class of one of the french schools for a workshop at the Royal Academy. This is becoming some kind of a tradition for me, every year in February I can join one of the education workshops at the RA. The first time I did so I got a little bit upset that we don't have this kind of "service" in Switzerland, but then I realized that what the artist does with the kids during that morning is quite similar to what we do with our class before and after we take the kids to a museum. The new exhibition at the RA is called "Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse". I'll go back for myself next time I'm in town to take more time to look at the exhibition.

Saturday was another lazy day, but Sunday had an early start as we went to Shoreditch to meet some friends for brunch. However, the brunch wasn't actually the reason why we had an early start. We decided to do a little pre-brunch browsing at the Columbia Road flower market, which apparently is best visited as early as possible to beat the crowds. Since I was leaving the next day I did't bought any flowers, but I kind of want to go back at some point to buy a lot of it! The brunch itself was at the Peruvian restaurant Andina, certainly a very unusual take on brunch!

I really enjoyed this week in London because:
  1. I spent a lot of time with my bf
  2. I managed to see a lot of friends that I haven't seen for a long time
  3. Having more time on my hands actually allowed me to do a lot of things I wanted to do for a long time

Most asked question of the week:
"When are you moving to London?"

Lesson of the week (or what the voice inside me says):
"You are not anymore a tourist in London, so stop acting like one and spend crazy amounts of money!" - boyfriend agrees.

Have a good one!

Monday 18 January 2016

Christmas - New Year (part 2)


As promised, here I am with part 2 of my Christmas - New Year post.

On the 29th of December my boyfriend and I landed in London at lunch time. After picking up a few things from his flat we travelled over to his parents' house in Hampstead, where we continued what seems to be becoming a New Years tradition of our's. We went for a walk in Hampstead Heath, just as we had done the previous year. I love the Heath. There are always people walking around with their dogs, I wish I could bring Cognac over to London and join them. It was a particularly windy day, so there were also a few people on parliament hill flying kites. The light was perfect on that day, and I managed to grab this photos. I love the silhouette of the trees and people against the sky.

On the 30th of December we made the journey up to Norfolk. Nothing else to report here.

For the final day in 2015, 31st of December, we went to Cromer and took a nice, long walk along the seaside. Luck was on our side, as it was an unseasonably lovely day. The sunniest day of the entire vacation as it turned out. In the next few photographs I would like to take you with us on the walk we did that day.

I hope you enjoy this little collection of photographs. It's been a while since I used my actual camera and not my iPhone. I should really try to do this more often.

After the walk we went to No1 in Cromer for a late lunch/early dinner before the New Year's Eve party. The order of the group was: cockle popcorn, steamed prawn dumpling, crab and spring onion fritters, mini chorizo sausages, 4 fish 'n' chips of the day and 2 No1's poor boy sandwiches.
Full and happy of the day we went back to the rented cottage to get ready for the party at the Gunton Arms. Little did I suspect as I put on my makeup for the evening that I would meet the Pixiwoo sisters, who designed those very makeup brushes, at the party. The party was circus themed and accompanied by some swingy music all evening. We found a good spot close to the stage, so we did not miss the cabaret numbers and the band Swing Zazou who took the guests of the party swinging into the new year.

New Year's day (happy new year to everyone!) by tradition means afternoon tea for my boyfriend's family, so we went to the Dales Country House Hotel for some tea and scones. Before and after that we just chilled at the cottage.

On the 2nd of January we decided to go to visit the town of Holt. It's a really cute town with several "yards" and a lot of antique shops. Sadly the weather wasn't too great that day. On the way back to the cottage my boyfriend and I decided to walk the last mile as I wanted to take a photo of a pheasant. Sadly no pheasants for that mile, but at least we saw some sheep and from far away also some does.

I'm sorry, that it tooks so long to upload this post.

Have a good one.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Christmas - New Year (part 1)


In this post I thought I would share with you a little taste of what I have been up to during my time off between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

The kindergarten was open until the morning of the 23rd of December. In the afternoon I took some time to get a head start at putting away the christmas decorations and took the "angel" chair apart to put it in a safe place for the next year. In the evening I went to my usual workout.

On the 24th of December we (my boyfriend and I) took the train to go down to Ticino, where we would spend Christmas with my family. The plan was to spend a few days skiing, but as there was no snow we did a lot of walking in the mountains instead.

On the night of the 24th we had our traditional fondue chinoise, which consists of cooking raw meat on a fondue skewer in a pot of broth or oil. This usually comes as a surprise to a lot of people who picture the stereotype of Swiss people eating their cheesy Swiss fondue, but for many families in Switzerland it has rather more become the tradition to have fondue chinoise on Christmas's Eve. After dinner we opened each others gifts and enjoyed the time together.

My boyfriend gave me a Jawbone Up3 fitness tracker, so my Christmas holiday was all about reaching my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I think he regrets that now, as I have dragged him out for numerous walks every day since. My mum however enjoyed it, as I was suddenly more keen to help out around the house, in order to get more steps towards my goal!

On the 25th we decided to go out and see if we could find some snow, so we took the dog for a walk along what usually is a ski-slope, but in this moment was merely a road. The town where we have the house is split into three tiny villages, Croce, Cassinelle, and Di Dentro. We walked all the way to Di Dentro, the top-most of the three villages. If you continue a little bit up the road you reach a pond, which in the summer is always filled with tadpoles and then later with tiny little frogs. There we found a little bit of snow, quite possibly the only snow on the entire mountain. For our dog, Cognac, this was a moment of happiness. The pond was frozen, so Cognac was able to walk, or more accurately dog-skate, on it.

Saturday, the 26th was the day of the big hike. We went up to the crest over the last village. That hike took us at least two and a half hours. But when you reach the top and see that view, you know that it was worth it. Some day if my boyfriend ever reaches the top, I am sure he will agree.

Even if there wasn't any snow, the lower chairlift was working, and because of the lack of snow they even offered special prices! They only offered daily passes but for a cheap price, so on the 27th we went up to 2000m above sea level with my mum, my brother and his girlfriend, and walked downhill to the house. At the top they had prepared a small slope for the kids with artificial snow, so we took a few misleading photos to make it look as though there was actual snow on the mountains!

In the afternoon I managed to convince my boyfriend to come with me to do the same walk. Halfway down we met with my brother and his girlfriend and took the dog home while they walked to the top and went down by chairlift. By doing this walk twice I reached my 10,000 steps goal again.

The 28th of December was the last day up in the Swiss mountain. Therefore it was packing day.
After lunch I went for a last walk with my boyfriend and Cognac. After that it was time to say goodbye to my family and take the train back to Basel, where, on the 29th of December, we would fly to London.

As this blog post is already quite long, I decided to split the two trips of this holiday season into two separate blogposts. So stay tuned for part 2 :)

Have a good one

Friday 1 January 2016

If in need, sew it!

Hello everyone,

My post today concerns one of my greatest passions: sewing.

Three weeks ago I treated myself with a new macbook. It was a difficult decision between the air and the macbook, but ultimately the latter won out, and I have to say, I am quite happy with it. There is just one small detail that annoyed me at first. For my old macbook I had a neoprene case, and I wanted something similar for my new one. I looked for one in the store when I bought the laptop, but their selection wasn't that great. I decided to go online and see what the world wide web had to offer. Even the www didn't have anything to suit my taste, and as I was going to travel during the christmas period I was quite desperate to find a cosy sleeve or case for my new typing machine.

I looked at my dusty sewing machine and knew what I had to do. Yes, she (or is she a he?!) was quite dusty, as I hadn't had much time to sew in the last few months (I think that's because of my traveling disease). Now that I'm writing about her (ok she is a she :) ) I realize that I haven't cleaned her for a long time. So next time I'm procrastinating I'll give her a good clean.

Going back to the actual topic: I couldn't find an appropriate case or sleeve, because the 12" is a new size for computers and so there isn't yet much choice for cases. This was the problem, my solution: if there isn't anything suitable around to buy, I'll make my own!

When I have a new project in mind one of the first things I think about is the material. This sleeve had to be quite padded so that it would protect well my macbook. I looked a little bit in my material collection and found some thick felt, sadly it wasn't enough to cover the whole thing (and also not really the color I had in mind). But at least now I knew what I had to look for in the store.

Important: if you go buy fabric for a project, never forget to write down the measurements!

After work I went into the city to one of the fabric stores where I once bought thick felt to make some crowns for the kindergarten. They had a wide selection of colors. I was a little bit annoyed about the fact that the material I was looking at wasn't wool felt but polysomething (I don't remember if polyacryl or polyamide) felt. But back to the colors, their selection was quite good. I was planning to get something neutral, but the dark grey I had in mind wasn't in the store, so I decided to look for something more colorful. I ended up buying two colors because I couldn't decide between them; a green one (that is quite similar to my old neoprene case) and a blue one.

I also bought thread in the same color (there's nothing more annoying than being ready to sew and realize that you don't have the right thread) and some denim needles for my machine, as it's a thick material to sew.

By the time I got home, I knew that I wanted to do something with lace. So I decided to start my project with the blue felt. For the measurements I placed my macbook on top and left some extra centimeters at the sides for the seams. I made 2 pieces that were both 23x30 cm. On Etsy I saw that a lot of people rounded up the corners, so I decided to do that as well since my macbook also has round corners (question: are they still corners if they are round? - editor's note, yes). I didn't cut them at that point, but I used a white pencil to draw an outline on the felt so that it would be easy to cut later with the sewing machine. Before I put the two pieces together I wanted to make sure my computer would actually fit at the end. To do so I used my wonder clips (if you sew and don't have any of those, get some! I can't live/sew anymore without them!) and put them all around the future case, where the seams would be.

I was lucky, it fit perfectly! So now it was about time to choose which lace to use. I have at least five different types of lace in my collection. I tried them all on and the picked one that looked best. The good thing about working with thick felt is that you don't need any lining. The "bad" thing about this is that you have to sew the lace double at the beginning and at the end if you don't want that it "opens" too quick. I don't know which is the right word for it, but basically you fold the beginning and the end back, so that they are not "open".

To sew the lace on the top of the felt well you need some wonder clips, this will help to hold the lace on the right place. The seam that I used is a simple straight seam.

Important: always remember to "secure" your seams at the beginning and at the end!

After both pieces were enlaced, it was time to put the whole thing together. I decided to leave a gap of 0.7cm between the edge of the felt and the seam.

Here you have the final sleeve for my macbook:

Even if this blog post turned out quite long, it was surprisingly quick to sew and I was impressed how well my macbook fits in this sleeve. There are some points for improvement, but for a first computer sleeve I have to say I'm quite happy with it.

Now I just have to decide what I want to do with the green felt...

Have a good one