Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Scenes From The Weekend

Brunch at Caravan Cafe in Exmouth Market. Mouthwatering buttered crumpets and baked eggs.
Planning our next big trip to the South of France and Cinque Terre in May. Cannot wait!
Romantic date at Sushi Samba. Taking in the view from the 38th floor and eating spicy rock shrimp tempura.
Ending the weekend with Silver Linings Playbook. Such a good film...now I know what all the hype's about.

[Images via Caravan, Flickr, Sushi Samba, Facebook]

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Windsor Castle

On Saturday, Jim's mom, brother and I visited the beautiful Windsor Castle and although it was absolutely freezing (and snowing!), it was such a cool experience. We picked up audio guides on our way in which gave us a good explanation of the main sites. The interesting thing about this castle is that it's very much still in use by the royal family, so although certain parts are open to the public, the private apartments and other areas are closed off. The first area we visited was St. George's Chapel, a beautiful church on the castle grounds where the royals attend mass and where the Order of the Garter Knights meet on a regular basis. The Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry in England, founded in 1348 and it's currently made up of 24 knights selected by the Queen. St. George's Chapel is also where King Henry VIII is buried in a very inconspicuous place in the middle of the building. After the church, we moved onto Queen Mary's Dollhouse, which is the largest and most beautiful dollhouse in the world. It's a replica of the royal home and was originally built for Queen Mary.

Next up was 'The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch" exhibit which displayed iconic photographs of Queen Elizabeth during her 60 year reign. My favourites included Andy Warhol's portraits which were acquired by the Queen in 2012, and Annie Leibovitz's very natural, beautiful photographs. The last area we visited was the State Apartments, which include fine works of art and amazing furniture that reflect the changing taste of the royals throughout the years. You weren't allowed to take photos of any of these exhibits but I can assure you it's worth a visit. English history just never ceases to amaze me!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

San Francisco & My New Obsession

I have a new obsession...my Canon SLR camera. My parents gave it to me for Christmas and I've been having so much fun experimenting with all the features. When Jim and I were in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I debuted the camera at the Golden Gate bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts and tried to capture the glorious beauty with the photos above. It truly is so different from a point-and-shoot...it takes such clear, defined pictures and has really opened up a whole new world of photography. I'm just beginning to learn how to use it, but I can't wait to take more photos of my trips, culinary adventures, family and friends. You can all track my progress here!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Afternoon Wine Tasting In Santa Cruz

When we were back in Santa Cruz for our winter holiday, we made a trip to the Swift Street Courtyard Wineries, Santa Cruz’s answer to Napa’s tasting rooms. Local wineries including Bonny Doon Vineyards, Silver Mountain Vineyards and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards are all gathered in a courtyard and each have their own garage which offers a relaxed environment to taste local wines. The courtyard also features Kelly’s French Pastry (delicious!), a few boutiques and a small brewery there where you can try local ales. I popped by the Bonny Doon tasting room one rainy afternoon before Christmas with Jim, my sister and her boyfriend . This one isn't actually in a garage; it's more like a spacious barn full of oak barrels, cream accents and local art. I love the colourful photo of the Golden Gate bridge and the artsy wine bottles on display, but the highlight is really the light fixture made from wine bottles. Definitely want that in my flat! The wine list is pretty extensive and includes Bonny Doon and other local wines (be sure to check prices as some tend to be high-end). It’s a wonderful place to check out if you’re craving a wine tasting but don’t want to make the trip to Napa!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Scenes From Home: Capitola to Carmel

A walk along the Capitola bluff with my sister on a sunny, crisp day.
The ultimate indulgence: lattes and egg and cheese bagel sandwiches from the PCRC.
More gorgeous Capitola coastline.
Fabulous cappucinos at Verve coffee shop in Capitola.
Our favourite restaurant in Carmel, Casanova. We always pop by when we're in town.
A creative cheese board at Casanova with homemade pistachio bread and apple pear.
Loved spending time with my sister and best friend.
Sunset in Carmel after a gorgeous day shopping, lounging and drinking bellinis!

I'm back in London after a fabulous trip home and have been a bit tardy with post! But I think a little time away was necessary. Being at home for the holidays was like a little slice of heaven. I'm always in awe of how beautiful the California coast really is, especially when I've been away for a little while. From La Selva Beach to Capitola and Carmel, the natural beauty is just breathtaking. This recent trip back was all about doing the things I love, spending time with family and meeting up with friends. Of course there were multiple trips to the Pacific Coffee Roasting Company (PCRC) where we enjoyed double short lattes and egg and cheese bagels (favourite breakfast ever), walks along the ocean, and a girls trip to Carmel with my mom and sister. We also had lovely Christmas celebrations with family filled with good food, laughs and fun time with nieces and nephews (and my brother George).  Another highlight was being in San Francisco to celebrate the New Year with all of our best friends...it almost felt as if we'd never left...almost.

Coming back to London was a little bittersweet at first but it was made easier because Jim's mom and brother were on the flight here with us! We had a great time showing them what London has to offer and are so looking forward to them coming back here from Dubai this week. Can't wait to share some photos from our adventures soon!

I feel very renewed being back, and very thankful that we have the chance to live over here and travel through Europe. As for the year ahead, I'm still on the fence about creating New Year's resolutions as I always seem to break them! Either way, I think 2013 will be amazing and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.

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