Friday, April 19, 2013

Shoreditch Graffiti

Shoreditch is renowned for it's creative outlook and intimidating, grungy appearance. 

As I stayed there in a little basement apartment just off of Brick Lane for almost a month, I had the opportunity to snap some pretty incredible photographs of the Shoreditch Graffiti... 



















Which one do you like the most? I really love the last one!! And the one with the rainbow and bird and splattered water.... and the one with the swirly Starbuck's like face... AND the first one with the joker playing with the cards!! I love them all! 

There are still so many arty finds in this little gem of a town that I will try and share with you all at a later stage. 

For now, enjoy your weekend and I'll catch up soon! 

Jade

Asparagus Breakfast Recipe : Egg and Soldiers


It was in an apartment in Shoreditch overlooking the graffitied walls of Brick Lane, that I was first introduced to this recipe. 

Egg and Soldiers is a classic breakfast dish that I grew up with as a kid. It was my favourite in fact, dipping my buttered toast into the runny, warm and rich yolk of a soft boiled egg, seasoned lightly with some ground salt and pepper. 

This dish is a little different however... 

Ingredients:


  • A Batch of Fresh Asparagus
  • Duck or Chicken Eggs
  • A Pan of Boiling Water
  • Salt and Pepper to Season
Snap your asparagus down the centre, keeping the speared end to use for your dish and the other to use in a stock pot at a later stage if you want to. 


The asparagus will snap where the fibrous, woody and tough part starts, which starts to happen as the asparagus is harvested. 
In other words: Starch to Sugar. 

Once your egg is softly boiled (4 mins for a duck egg and 3 mins for a chicken egg,) remove from the water and crack open at the top. 

While your eggs are boiling, plop the asparagus in with them for a maximum of two minutes. 

Grind a mixture of salt and pepper onto the side of your plate to dip the asparagus in after plunging the spears into the yolk. 


I had been so excited to cook with asparagus for such a long time and I really wasn't disappointed. 

I love this breakfast dish and will definitely be preparing it on a more regular basis. 

Shoreditch, Covent Garden and Soho...

Back in London, I explored the insides of the Tate Modern museum, trying to figure out why anybody would call Liechtenstein's cartoon styled, dotted work 'art.'  
I personally found standing centimetres away from original Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picaso and Monet art pieces far more superior and worthy. The Jackson Pollock piece brought literal tears to my eyes, (behind the goofball demeanour as seen in the photographs taken!).



More shows came after my arrival back into central London too... The Book of Mormon's, which I was both hesitant and excited to see came first and I knew it would be hilarious but getting through the first few discomforting scenes would be incredibly difficult for someone even slightly religious. I do think that they took it a bit far flipping off God to that extent but after one or two pretty offending songs I started to laugh along with the rest of the audience and begin to really enjoy the show. It was hilarious, with a cast with facial features and expressions almost too perfect for what it was! 

Before Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the Ballet, I was taken shopping in Harrods for nice shoes for the evening. It appeared that my shoes I'd lugged across from Africa just didn't measure up to standard in the likes of the Royal Opera House watching the ballet in yet again the best seats in the house. 
I had Jimmy Choo heels slipped on my feet . . . just seeing a pair up close and personal had been a dream of mine for more years than I'd like to remember. 
I felt far too uncomfortable to have a pair bought for me, as it is the equivalent of about R5000.00 back home!! A girl can dream.......
And so I opted for a pair of Aldo's out of the sea of miraculous heels. I was thankful for not getting Jimmy Choo's at the end of it though as I fell on my arse in front of a less than impressed taxi driver obviously assuming I'd probably drunk my body weight in booze. That moment will forever be something that will make me cringe. I scuffed my beautiful new shoes - I was heartbroken. 

Country Girl + Heels = A Bad Combination

Jade in General = A Disaster Waiting to Happen.

Alice in Wonderland was by far the most spectacular performance yet. I was in absolute awe and have never felt more lucky. I had, at this stage, been introduced to a whole new side of life that I'd always wanted to be a part of if only for just one day. 

I did however pretty much collapse the luxurious evening when I decided to go out afterwards until 4am. I was just so excited to see some familiar faces and meet up with old friends that I had not seen for years. 
I went to a bar called Sushi Samba, which is up on the 39th floor of a massive sky-scraper, one floor below The Duck and Waffle. 
I went up in the glass lift where you can overlook London at its best. It did not disappoint. 
It was here where I met Jamie (someone that I have known since about the age of 3,) and introduced to his gay friend, Lindsay, who I adored from straight off the bat. We got on like a house on fire. 

Sushi Samba closed shortly after I got there so I was unable to enjoy a drink and the view there unfortunately! We had to venture to this really grungy, underground nightclub by the night bus and paid £5.00 each to get in. 
I had one Gin and Tonic and enjoyed as much dancing as possible in my new, already-scuffed heels before coming back to crash in my flat in Shoreditch. 


The following day I met up with an old school friend called Joanna. After depleting a jug and a half of Pimms in Boxpark, we trekked through the streets to find shoe stores while nattering the whole way like we had seen each other just yesterday. 

I was able to find a really nice pair of ankle boots in New Look, stepping up a notch in the London Fashion World.
We then found a bar called The Book Club later in the evening, (honestly, how much shopping can two girls do in a day!?) where we played a few rounds of table tennis before Jamie joined us after work. 

The three of us enjoyed some drinks and table tennis together before I headed off to Pizza East for dinner, where, ironically enough, I preferred their Mac and Cheese to their pizza . . . 





As I slowly became more streetwise and comfortable with exploring the streets of London alone, as well as learning the intimidating tube system, I found my way from a little coffee shop in Soho surrounded by sex shops and strip clubs, to Covent Garden. That might not seem like such a big challenge to some... but let me just point out here just how bad my sense of direction is!

I sat on the concrete steps in the centre of Covent Garden, watching a female street performer in a pink leotard and shiny gold hot pants juggle three knives whilst dangling upside down from a metal pole.

The street performers in and around London are absolutely mad. There is just so much here to be fascinated by.



Joanna met me by the steps that afternoon, feeling more than a little hungover from our sneaky Pimms jug and G and T's the previous day!
We sat ourselves down at a famous french bistro called Laduree where we had tea and macaroons, which was delicious although personally I do think that £2.00 per macaroon, (the equivalent of R30.00 back home,) is a bit extreme! At the same time though it is a real treat and one of the best macaroon spots in town, so why not? When next would Jo and I see each other again?? And so the decision was made to spoil ourselves slightly.


After our snack, we took a walk in the sunlight, (I swear I stole all of South Africa's sunshine and brought it here with me!) and we found our way to the British Museum after a wrong turn or two . . . or  if you want to get technical, three. 

The exciting thing is that in London, even if you do take a wrong turn and get hopelessly lost, there is always something to interest you around the next bend. That is one of the things that I love most about London. 

The British museum was spectacular. I honestly think that you'd need to stay there for a week at the minimum to be able to take it all in and see all that it has to offer. 
The majority of my time was spent with the mummies and the Buddha's. I covered a slight part of Mexico's history too and also found 7000 years worth on the history of Jade, which naturally I had to inspect. 
The mummies definitely stole the show though and as I crammed myself into a corner to read all of the information provided, I was knocked about left, right and centre by all of the excited tourists wanting to press their faces against the glass to ogle at every beautiful artefact. 
There was so much to learn in there. It is magical to have that much under one roof. Each and every artefact must be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. 




Eventually we moved on to find Oxford Street, enjoying a tasty fast food lunch along the way.
For the record, and no offence to any fast food chains, but after having my food knowledge further widened, I will no longer be a fast food supporter. 
It does slightly break my heart knowing that I'll be abstaining from delicious fast food burgers from this point on, I mean come on, there is no denying that they are tasty as hell, but the amount of chemicals, processing and fat poured into those meals quite literally makes me sick. 

Moving on!!!

So we went all the way to Oxford Street and all we bought between us was a bottle of clear nail polish for Jo and a disposable razor for me as I stepped on mine in the shower and snapped off the handle. 

We said our goodbye's in the middle of rush hour (bedlam!) and went our separate ways on the tubes. . .  her back to Hemel Hampstead and me off to Sloane Square to get dinner at this really authentic Chinese Restaurant that doesn't believe in menu's. They ask you to trust their choice, after taking down any dietary requirements and asking if you're alright with consuming brain. 
It was here, after getting completely lost (once again!) in a super swanky part of London and finding my way into a billionaires pub filled with men in business suits relaxing after their day at work, where I tried things such as tongue, jellyfish and frogs legs for the first time! All of which were absolutely impeccable but my mindset about chewing of a tongue did freak me out slightly I must admit. 
Lets just say that I am a work in progress.

The 17th of April was my first day of having no plans. I know that I should have gotten up early to attend Margaret Thatchers funeral, as it is a once in a lifetime event and the show that they must have put on must have been nothing short of a phenomenon. I think that the next funeral to match one of Thatchers will quite possibly be the Queen's herself.
However, I really enjoyed lounging around in my hoodie, updating my blog and just pampering myself in the bathroom with the likes of my new razor!

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That brings me to today, sitting in an aromatic coffee shop with a brand new hair cut and nails, one of my many early birthday gifts from a friend.
I got treated yesterday to a spa day at this incredible place called Richard Ward, apparently where Kate Middleton goes to get her hair done.
I had a really luxurious hair treatment and a cut and blow dry, to take off my split ends as well as a manicure.
Champagne was included in the treatment as well as loads of little snacks... it really has been the glam part of my travels, the last few weeks. Soon enough I'll be setting up a tent every night and travelling my way through Europe for a month!! Just a few days to go. I may get quiet again after that but I'll do my best with keeping you all as updated as I can.

Until next time, 

Jade.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Lake District


Soon enough it was time for me to head out on my road-trip to The Lake District out in the countryside and boy was it different to London! Besides the distinct lingering smell of rich manure and freshly cut grass, the awful signal and lack of things to do in the evenings - I had a superb time there. 
It was homey. 
I even had the pleasure of dining at a Simon Rogan restaurant, with a set menu of about sixteen courses of complete and utter culinary perfection. It was quite odd to have such an elite establishment set up in a tractor run, cobbled-street town. Dressing up and feeling like a million quid out in the heart of the countryside was a strange contrast of events.  






I got really ill in The Lake District though whilst out on a hike / walk through a beautiful forest adorned with waterfalls and mounds of the final remains of snow fall. One of the evenings was spent with me curled up feeling like death in bed alone, having slept for just under sixteen hours, not being able to keep anything down or even hear the word, 'food,' without needing to gag. 
It seemed to be a 24 hour bug thank goodness and the next day I was ready to travel again. 

Besides the odd snowball fight and walk in the forest, most of The Lake District was spent huddled close to a coal fireplace in a cosy English pub playing games like, 'Shut the Box,' or, 'Scrabble.'









My favourite parts were definitely going Clay Pigeon Shooting, which I was surprisingly good at! Especially for my first time. The instructor was really blown away by how quickly I picked it up. I mean, I'm no expert but I hit my targets every so often!
Also playing a round of Crazy Golf, which I won! (Thanks dad, definitely your little girl!) 



I also visited my Hometown on the way back to London too, which was a beyond special moment for me. I had a proper walk down memory lane, surprising myself with my memory of where things were from the Mcdonald's by the roundabout, the old Safeways which has now turned into a supermarket called Morrison's, the old Hightown fish and chip shop at the corner of my old friend Kae's house, the little blue local newsagent my mum would take me into as a kid to pick up some sweeties and animal magazines after school, the Primary School I attended, the little lane I would walk nearly every day to get to school with my brother... it was as though I had never left.
I sipped on my first Dandelion and Burdock in years and even stood outside my first ever house!!
I had a drink in the Coach and Horse's pub, my folks regular hangout as new, funky parents back in the 90's.

It was surreal and a truly fascinating day for me that I will always remember.






More of my London shenanigans will be soon to come! It has been such a busy three weeks, I can hardly find the time to sit down and have a quiet moment at all! Be patient, it's coming!

Jade

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My First Few Days in London

So I haven't really been doing much writing or documenting over the past two weeks in London. There just hasn't been the time. 
I am now in the backstreets of Soho, next to a Strip Joint and some kinky sex shops, in a quirky little cafe hoping to do a bit of a recap. 

Day One -  day one was spent wrapped up in my bold red coat, white beanie and cream scarf at the football stadium in Chelsea, watching a live Manchester United football match. It was a delightfully vibrant and festive experience that kicked me right into the deep end of local Brit's from the Cornish Pasty I devoured during the interval all the way to the aggressive Man-U supporter who stood behind me who had more 'Fuck's' in her vocabulary than I could have ever imagined possible. Impressive really... 

The cold weather was a shocker, coming from thirty degree temperatures back home. I knew right from the start that it was going to be cold, though I do think that I was quite naive in my choice in outfit!



After Manchester sadly lost the game, I took a stroll around Westminister Abbey. I walked along the Thames and ogled up at the majestic Big Ben and the Eye of London. 
It was Day One and I was already in trouble with a British Guard who shouted at me when I crept too close to some sort of important gates being patrolled!





Day Two - the sun peaked out on the second day, letting me enjoy a few packet of crisps and a cider or three, on a bench outside of a pub called The Red Lion. Even though it was only day two, I realised that the sun sinking into my skin was a luxury best to be enjoyed while I could . . . and that is exactly what I did.


Two days later, after having breakfast at a famous restaurant called The Wolseley, (where the queen used to dine,) and after exploring delectable food markets and shops to find some warmer gear such as thermals and proper winter goodies, it was snowing! It wasn't enough to relive the days of my youth, making snow angels and building snowmen however, it still felt pretty incredible to be dashing through the streets of Shoreditch, (Brick Lane,) getting my less than adequate coat covered in slushy snowflakes while on my way to a local hangout called Full Stop. 




Shoreditch is incredible. I absolutely love it there. Yes, from first impressions as a South African (basically,) it appears to be an intimidating mix between a graffiti covered, litter-ridden, dirty part of town . . . but once settled into the arty, dark surroundings you start to discover how safe and unique it truly is. 
On one occasion I found myself dropped off at the end of Brick Lane at 4am by a very unreliable taxi driver to say the least... it was after a night out with old friends from school. 
In my ginormous Aldo heels I had to wobble up the unfamiliar streets and find my little basement apartment by myself which back home in Knysna, South Africa, would quite literally be the stupidest thing that you could do. 
If it hadn't been my first time experiencing this form of complete isolation and independence I would have been completely anxiety free. The streets are always in a hustle and bustle, even at that hour there are still trendy individuals wondering around - making it completely comfortable for anyone who steps outside.
Of course you do get the drunks and a few cocky people around but as there are so many other people, the chances of something happening to you are very few and far between.

Lost Count of the Days - by now I was in complete holiday mode, oblivious to what day of the week it was, the time, the date . . . although completely refreshing, I wish I had done a better job at documenting my activities as a lot of 'My First Time's' started to take place. 

Being from a small, country-side type town, I am not used to seeing big productions or plays. So when I was taken to see The Phantom of the Opera, I was in awe. It was mesmerising. I adore the story of The Phantom of the Opera, I have done since my brother's ex girlfriend, Claire, watched the film with me a number of years ago. To see it live and to hear the bellowing, powerful voices rise above the phenomenal orchestra, sitting in the best seats in the house; well, it was something beyond special. 
The girl that sat opposite me literally had tears in her eyes by the end of the show, which I found beautiful to have witnessed as she can't have been over seventeen years old. She was clearly on a date and had been completely enraptured by the stunning performance. 
I found it incredible that someone so young could appreciate something like that to such an emotional and overwhelming extent. 

A number of show took place after that, I was completely spoiled by choice and the best part was that I did not need to choose.

The Black Cat Cabaret was next, at Cafe De Paris, complete with a three course meal before the show. At this stage I was becoming familiar with the different types of sparkling wines, broadening my embarrassingly small knowledge of all things food and drink thanks to an incredibly good tutor who took me under his wing and introduced me to a whole new world that I always knew existed but never thought I'd be a part of. He taught me to dream bigger. 
The Black Cat Cabaret was fascinating, even more so than The Phantom of the Opera. It combined the worlds of sex, out-of-this-world talent, temptation, humour and lust into one big magical show that left my jaw hanging open. 



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I really enjoyed exploring all of the different markets in and around London, particularly in Covent Garden. Relaxing up on a balcony overlooking Covent Garden and the incredible street performers while sipping on a glass of divine Persecco. It was all very glam. Bobbing my head along to some majorly talented buskers recreating songs by The Fray, walking along the London Bridges in the middle of the night with the streets lit up in luminous blue colours and slurping up linguine and nibbling on deliciously prepared green chilli's in a Jamie Oliver Restaurant are but some of my amazing adventures. 






It was in the heart of London where I first started to make use of napkins in the proper manner, placing them across my lap while eating as I had never done before. It just isn't a common thing back home! I feel like I am going to return one day a completely changed person. If you look around in a restaurant in London, every single person has a napkin on their laps! Major wake up call . . .

I also goof balled around a lot (naturally) as I learned how to fill up a car with petrol - which back home is done for you by petrol attendants! 


I tasted dozens of different foods that I would usually be far more hesitant towards such as sashimi, raw steak, tongue, jellyfish, haggis etc! Only to find that most of which was absolutely delicious and it is all a mindset that people work themselves up for that truly spoils so many culinary splendours. 
When I return home I fear that my regular monthly food budget is going to have to increase rather drastically with all of these new and exciting things that I wouldn't have normally given a second thought. 
Something as surprising as olives, a food that I used to shudder at the thought of, I found myself nibbling contently around the pip in many bars and restaurants. 



It was then time for me to take a road trip to The Lake District which will be in another post! I hope that you enjoyed my first little snippet from my travel journal. Keep reading - there's plenty more to come!

Signing out for now.

Jade

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