Thursday, 16 June 2016

A first city Break with Matilda: Gothenburg Part One

City breaks weighed down by all the paraphernalia required when travelling with a young child did not seem terribly appealing to me. Weekend breaks tend to be exhausting at the best of times as you cram in as much sightseeing as is humanly possible in those 3-4 days that you've allowed yourself. Add a grumpy, tired child to the really is not the best combo in my book.

The husband and I went on quite a few wonderful mini breaks in our early days. There was nothing more exciting than jumping on a plane arriving a couple of hours later in a foreign city. These little jaunts came to an abrupt end once Matilda arrived. Prams, bottles, nappies were never all going to fit into a small cabin bag...

Now that Matilda is 6 years old and pretty portable we decided to take the plunge picking an easy going city without too much sightseeing so we didn't feel shortchanged should her little legs collapse from all the walking. So we picked Gothenburg, I'd yearned to visit Sweden for years, but had been put off by it's reputation for being prohibitively expensive. The husband treated us to very reasonably priced flights with the delectable Ryanair (do not the hint of irony in that sentence) and we were lucky to stumble upon a lovely Airbnb apartment hosted by the delightful Johanna, without whose recommendations we would have been lost! 

Gothenburg is a truly inspiring city, small enough to walk everywhere though it's super efficient tram system makes light work of travelling with a child. We stayed in the hip area of Majorna, a short hop and skip on the tram into the centre of town and the rather more attractive Haga with it's gorgeous interior shops, cafes and restaurants. Also home to a lovely park and playground where we whiled away a couple of hours whilst Matilda made new Swedish friends who astonishingly spoke perfect English at the age of six! We spent a day happily mooching around a number of record shops that thankfully double up as cafes so whilst the husband searched through thousands of records I topped up the caffeine levels and Matilda indulged in the Swedish Fika (the art of stopping for cake, coffee and chatting with friends)...

Our favourite day was spent on a boat touring around the archipelago we stopped off at the largest Island where we spent a delightful couple of hours nosing through people's windows. The Swedes really are a stylish lot, even the tiniest of wooden shack was beautifully decorated. More about that next time as our trip deserves a post of its own.

As for Matilda she had a great weekend, she was shattered at the end of it but loved discovering a new city where she got to eat as many meatballs as she liked! Facilitating the opening of her eyes to other cultures and customs we regard as one of the most crucial jobs as her parents, the success of this weekend proved to us she is eager to travel and explore. As long as the sightseeing is interspersed with a play in the park or a rest in a cool cafe then travelling with children should be good fun.  Roll on more city breaks!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The new Samsung Galaxy S7

A few weeks ago I was asked by Three Mobile if I'd like to road test the new, much publicised Samsung Galaxy S7. I'll admit I'm not terribly into an all singing all dancing phone, I pretty much only use my phone for taking photos, social media, calling, emailing and texting. Endless streams of apps just don't do it for me I'm afraid (probably showing my age). However, a decent phone camera does. The camera on this phone is really very good indeed and I'm sure is giving the iPhone camera a hard run for its money,

From the moment you switch it on, the picture on the screen is so crisp and pure. It has a wealth of features, more of which you can read about here including a number of pre installed filters. When I'm out and about I tend to keep my settings on auto so I don't have to faff around if a photo needs to be taken straight away. However if you'd like to use your own settings it's very straight forward to adjust the ISO for example, you can also shoot square so if you're an instagram addict like myself and we all know this is the best way to capture the best image. Something I can't do on my current Sony Experia.

The Samsung Galaxy went with me on a little day trip to Southwold where you can see what can be achieved with it. Take a look at the wonderful clarity of these photos. I've purposely not edited them so you can see the quality of the camera, the level of detail and colour it is able to pick up is really impressive...I'll leave you with these but I'll be back soon with more photos I took with it during our trip to Sweden.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Street Party celebrating the Queen's 90th Birthday

Determined not to be outdone by the celebrations up and down the country over the last few days I joined our village's Street Party Committee at the end of last year.The memories of the 1977 Jubilee always fresh in my mind despite it having been decades ago whenever these momentous Royal occasions occur I'm determined that Matilda will also have equally clear memories stored in her mind.

Our committee set to work raising monies so that the day could be free for everyone. We started off with a generous donation from the Parish Council which then seemed to encourage all the other local businesses to contribute. We were flattered and so excited to have received such warm support. It meant that other than bringing a plate of food to share the children could go on all the inflatables and the go carts for free all afternoon.

The weather was kind to us after the morning hailstorm, the sun popped out on a few occasions to break up the bitter cold. The children however didn't appear to feel it! The village pooled their resources volunteering to help on the day to make it a memorable occasion for our children! This community spirit played a big part in our decision to leave London, we're so lucky to have found one of the friendliest villages around.

Let this be the first of many community events!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Easter Adventures...

This comes a little late as seems to be the norm with my blog at the moment...We had a good Easter break. A stunning start and finish to the Bank Holiday weekend. In between left a lot to be desired with rain lashing down, high winds and lowering temperatures but we made the most of it and got outside wellies and water proofs at the ready.

Ickworth, a stunning National Trust property just down the road from us in Bury St Edmunds was our day trip of choice on Bank Holiday Friday. The National Trust really have pitched it right for families. There were Easter Craft activities, games laid out on the lawn and over 4500 people to scrabble past to the heaving cafe. It was a lovely afternoon out, sat in the warm sun looking out over the beautiful gardens.

Easter Sunday after the annual village Easter Egg Hunt organised by my lovely neighbour Liz who also runs our local vegetable box delivery company Cheveley Fruit and veg., we headed up to our favourite escape Norfolk. The husband had treated us to a stay at the amazing Gunton Arms. A former coaching inn owned by the Chelsea Art Dealer Ivor Braka it has been transformed into the perfect escape from everyday life. Set in a beautiful deer park, only the deer and ancient trees obstruct the far reaching views. Walls are covered in modern art including Gilbert and George, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, there are little touches of humour popping out from every corner. The Gunton Arms deserves a post of it's own so more will be revealed at a later date.

Matilda and I then flew off to Portugal for a week to see my Father and to visit family. We managed a few lovely days out exploring Lisbon with my niece, we ate far too much and basked in the heavenly hot sun and clear blue skies typical of Portugal.

The two weeks went all too quickly and the return to work seemed a little harder than normal. The promise of warmer days to come and the reawakening of nature is encouraging though, I'm enjoying working in our conservatory looking out onto the garden whilst the office gets a makeover! Hope you all had a good Easter break.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cool Norwich

Don't know about you but when I used to think about Norwich I'd assume drab, grey, uneventful. Perhaps because I had a friend who spent her degree years at Norwich University complaining about it and trying to leave. This was *hiccup* over 20 years ago now...

Wow how wrong could I have been! Norwich is a cool, funky city with plenty to do and see.

Its pretty intricate web of lanes leading off the main Market Square filled with independent shops, restaurants and cafes full of much temptation reminded me of the Brighton Lanes. A creative, arty vibe fills each corner of this picturesque city centre. The vibrant market is packed with beautiful flowers and all manner of fruit and veg. The cheese stall in particular caught my eye with its wonderful local cheeses as well as the more exotic. There are a couple of great Oriental stalls and a great haberdashers.

There is a vast array of small independent shops ranging from traditional record shops to interiors boutiques to a number of great charity shops. My favourite discovery was the magnificent St Gregorys Antiques occupying a beautiful church that had previously laid empty. A veritable treasure trove of vintage homewares, clothes and music you could lose hours in here...

A great weekend destination, don't overlook Norwich when you're making your way to the North Coast, this city is definitely worth a peek.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

First day of Spring?

It certainly feels like we may have turned a corner today. Thick fog this morning gave way to a beautiful perfect blue sky with a warm sun sending it's powerful rays down upon us.

The husband went off to Shanghai this morning for work so we were left with a girlie day ahead. A quick trip to Waitrose for supplies we then returned to sling on our wellies for a two hour walk in the sunshine. We went through a field of sheep and their babies, played with ladybirds we paddled in the Ford with ducks and a frog happily swimming past us! We chatted with dog walkers and their two lovely dogs Chloe and Delilah, made friends with a beautiful horse. Spring was all around us, nature woke up encouraged by the warm temperatures of this afternoon. Can't wait for more days like this spent along lolling beside the water with a good book and a picnic...

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