Two bloggers spend a day checking out Wellington’s most Instagrammable spots

Beautiful photogenic Wellington

Beautiful photogenic Wellington

A couple of weeks back Kelly visited and I really wanted to show her a great bloggers’ day out. After all, she has been responsible for many a great afternoon, life advice and mutual blogging rants over the years so I felt the need to show her my list of the best things to see in Wellington and ones that she could share on her excellent Instagram feed… obviously, real life enjoyment was in there too but hey, you can take the blogger out of London but you can’t take the social media magpie out of the blogger (or something like that!).

So here’s where we went, taste and sight first, Instagram when we could remember:

  1. A drive around the bays behind the airport – Moa Point, Karaka Bay, Days Bay etc. Kelly arrived at 8am and on the weekends an appropriate breakfast time is surely after 9…
Breaker Bay

Breaker Bay

2. Brunch at Loretta – I still have yet to find a restaurant that does brunch better and am waiting for someone to prove me wrong. Kelly made me eat my words when I stated my thoughts on the idea of a gluten free parsnip and hazelnut cake “there couldn’t possibly be any enjoyment in any of those words other than cake Kelly!” – it was surprisingly sensational and a great complement to my chicken sausage breakfast risotto filled with fresh herbs and goodness that Loretta specialises in.

Brunch at Loretta

Brunch at Loretta

3. A visit to the world’s coolest little capital’s cutest little gift shop Madame Fancy Pants

A visit to Madame Fancy Pants (this same picture featured last week sorry!)

A visit to Madame Fancy Pants (this same picture featured last week sorry!)

4. A walk down quirky hipster Cuba Street and around the Leeds Street/Eva Street/Hannah Factory Quarter which the council has recently spent time painting up to look as fabulous as the independent makers in it – included here were the Wellington Chocolate Factory, Fix and Fogg Peanut Butter (even though they were closed but still!), Six Barrel Soda, Pizza Pomodoro and Leeds Street Bakery

A selfie on Eva Street~

A selfie on Eva Street – I still have sunglasses envy of Kelly…

Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter Factory

Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter Factory (not actually taken when Kelly visited!)

5. We each had a gorgeous soda at Six Barrel Soda

Soda

Soda

6. A further walk down more brightly painted lane-ways until we got to the waterfront

Street art down the laneway behind the Opera House

Street art down the lane-way behind the Opera House

The waterfront (pic taken a long time ago)

The waterfront (pic taken a long time ago)

A brief stop at the Sunday market where the fish monger Nicos was selling his super fresh wares from the same boat he's been at for years

A brief stop at the Sunday market where the fish monger Nicos was selling his super fresh wares from the same boat he’s been at for years

7. Oriental Bay and the boatsheds where I posed for her post on Instagram Clichés!

Oriental Bay's boatsheds

Oriental Bay’s boatsheds

8. Gelato at Kaffe Eis (there’s one in Oriental Bay and another at Frank Kitts Park) – always a winner even if it is one of the massive Instagram clichés mentioned above!

Gelato from Kaffe Eis

Gelato from Kaffe Eis

9. Up and over into Civic Square, then down Lambton Quay to the Cable Car which I’m still not sick of yet – here’s a tip on cruise days (when Wellington gets packed to the rafters with tourists from the big cruise liners): buy a snapper transport card and skip the line, tapping it as you go through the barriers – you’ll just look like one of the people who use it to commute up to the suburbs on the hill!

The wonderful Wellington Cable Car

The wonderful Wellington Cable Car

10. Afternoon tea at the fabulous Hippopotamus – I couldn’t not take the Queen of Gluten Free Afternoon Tea there even if I was her Gluten Monster for the afternoon!!!

Afternoon tea at Hippopotamus

Afternoon tea at Hippopotamus

11. A quick stop at Te Papa (“that’s Te Papa Kelly, you can come back on your own next time because I’ve been too much with my kids”) where I had parked the car and sadly had to depart from to take Kelly back to the Airport, not of course before driving along Lyall Bay so Kelly could check out some surfers doing their thing. ;)

Te Papa

Te Papa

12. There would have been a pretty coffee to Instagram too but neither of us had any that day – sinful I know!! But if you are a coffee drinker then you have certainly come to the right place to photograph it…

The coffee that could have been!

The coffee that could have been!

I had such an amazing day with Kelly. Yes, I did have an agenda – I really want all my friends to move here – so made sure the weather was behaving itself and showed her my absolute favourite parts of Wellington on a good day. However, if the wind had been blowing a northerly gale or if southerlies had brought storms straight from Antarctica I know we would have had a brilliant time indoors too as there is so much more to this city than just a sparkling bay, good ice cream and bright colours outside.

So there you have it, Wellington is both pretty and really fun, especially when you have awesome company with you. Thank you so much Kelly for flying down from Auckland for the day in the middle of your trip home to New Zealand! I love that blogging has helped me make the most amazing friendships which results in days like this.

P.S. Should I do a post on places that are totally Instagram worthy on the inside? I feel like I’ve shown Wellington off on one of its good days (of which thankfully there have been a lot lately!).

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Filed under Blogs, Wellington

Blogging honesty

Let's aim for some more Zen moments here...

Let’s aim for some more Zen moments here…

Lately there have been quite a few posts out there on blogging and honesty – posts reflecting that the blog world is increasingly looking like the magazine world which is exactly what bloggers set out to get away from when we first introduced our little pockets of the internet to people’s everyday lives, or even worse the whole blogger/blagger thing which I know isn’t true for 99 percent of us. We’ve all seen the various famous people joining the social media backlash and we’ll all see them claim back their online presence in the next big social media event that comes around, but here’s the thing, do we really need to join the flock too?

I’ve been struggling with this one lately. At a recent party, after consuming a lot of champagne in a room full of media types, I started to claim I was about to take a year off social media. In my hungover and possibly still drunk state the next day I emailed poor Ed and said “Hey! Any chance you want to start your own blog? I’m going to take a year off!” To which he calmly replied that maybe a hiatus would be better and perhaps I should think about it a bit more – sensible GLC.

Fast forward to now, I am back, having emerged from the black hole that was a several months long writer’s block and with new enthusiasm thanks to a day with Kelly instagramming my favourite spots around Wellington and I have a new attitude to blogging.

It’s all about honesty.

I’m not saying I haven’t been honest with you here. My blog posts are always honest, especially the reviews, but sometimes I have wondered if I’m sugar-coating life slightly?

A few of the bigger bloggers out there have also gone down this route, saying life isn’t all Instagram filters, white space and perfectly laid out table settings with blush coloured peonies/tulips set in the middle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t get on the blogosphere and write – didn’t most of us start with a will to write and a hope that someone might read our posts even if it was just Mum and Dad sending the link around in their yearly newsletters?

Do we follow the flock?

Do we follow the flock?

Let me be upfront first of all.

I only blog what I can afford and that’s in both time and money. I have only ever blogged from this perspective but the time bank seems to get smaller and smaller by the day the older my kids get. I can’t afford a beautiful Canon DSLR (as much as I hint to Mr Man that after 10 years of blogging surely he could get me one for Christmas or my birthday~) because I want a bigger house for my kids to grow up in and I always seem to be wearing the same green skirt or red top in most of my blog posts because I’ve not bought a new outfit in months.

Confession: I wear this outfit twice a week...

Confession: I wear this outfit twice a week…

I have had a whole year of winter thanks to the unfortunate timing of our London house sale meaning we didn’t make it to New Zealand until the end of April (it should have been the beginning of February so we could get the tail end of summer in). I am pale, a bit fat and quite frankly, really feckin tired to the point where genuinely I thought I was going to have some kind of nervous breakdown if I didn’t take some time off soon – hello Christmas. I hold down a full time job albeit in what is the dream job I have been looking for and worked hard to get to for over 10 years but also have two toddlers who I feel really guilty about for not being around as much as I want to for them. I get home at 5:30pm and go straight into cooking and cleaning for the family while Mr Man baths and gets them to bed. By the time we’re done with family things, 9pm is there and I fall straight into bed. There’s not much room for glam and it’s certainly not that bloggable!!! I find myself reading articles on work life balance and how on earth to break that glass ceiling rather than macarons these days and am also finding myself wanting to write more about that – my twenties were expensive sweet treats, backpacking and dancing, my thirties seem to be about how I can squeeze in 15 minutes a day to burn off half an imagined macaron, sometimes dancing around the dining room with my two year old to Big Red Car.

New Zealand is great for us, especially now that the sun is out, but I’m not getting out to the latest restaurants once a week like I was in London because new ones don’t open up here in Wellington every week, and even if they did I can only afford dinner out maybe once a month because an entire salary goes on rent and kindy fees.

So I apologise for blogging less regularly, not paying attention to the SEO and key words and basically being a rubbish blogger, but I do hope you’ll stick around for life’s little adventures, still done by me here in Wellington and Ed in London. May we will all try and be a bit more honest about things in 2016. I’m starting out by reclaiming my pocket of the internet and if you don’t mind, (and I know I’m going to lose readers by saying this) I might just rant a bit more often on here.

Have a wonderful holiday season world.

Kat.

Have a great Christmas everyone - I hope you stop and enjoy a moment with your drink of choice!

Have a great Christmas everyone – I hope you stop and enjoy a moment with your drink of choice!

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Filed under Life in general, Wellington

When hobbies (including this blog~) fall by the wayside…

Providing for these two munchkins has meant blogging has fallen to the wayside for the Lady sorry!

Providing for these two munchkins has meant blogging has fallen to the wayside for the Lady sorry!

Please don’t think we’ve left you readers. We’re both really busy with day-jobs and offline life.

The Lady and the Gent will be back in full swing soon and we can’t wait to say hello when we do!

In the meantime, may you enjoy all the tasty treats, beautiful sites and fabulous people the world has to offer.

And if we don’t say hello before then, enjoy the festive season! The lady plans to lap up the New Zealand summer which she has missed for so very long.

x o x o

Blog is on vacation. Back soon!

Blog is on vacation. Back soon!

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A tale of travel diaries and missing/not missing London – a roundabout way of writing about my favourite things

This image has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just like it.

This image has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just like it.

Last week I was going through the last of my boxes looking for my favourite things to write about for Emma, Kelly, Frankie and Rebecca’s travel link-up when I stumbled across my old diaries. Cringing moments aside (like how much I LOVED my boyfriend at the time, BLEURGH!!!), it occurred to me that I stopped writing those favourite diaries of mine nine years ago when I finished up a massive backpacking stint from the UK to New Zealand – I was back in Wellington having officially returned from my OE thanks to my UK visa expiring and quite frankly just wasn’t ready to be back here. Little did I know I wouldn’t return to Wellington for seven years after I left 18 months later.

Of course I miss views like this - who wouldn't!

Of course I miss views like this – who wouldn’t!

I thought that I would feel like that this time, clawing away at any opportunity to return that would pay me enough to support the family living in London, but I’m going to be honest – this has been an exceptionally good move for us so far. Yes, there are times that I miss London, after nearly a decade living there of course I was going to miss parts of it – London was my world. I especially miss my friends and the way the city embraces you and finds a corner that you will fit and leaves you to make the most of that world you have built there. I miss the walks – my god to I miss walking around London – you look up, sideways, left, right and behind and you’ll see history and occasionally the future. I am so glad it is one of the best places in the world to visit over and over again.

The strange thing that has shocked me is that I don’t miss living there. I keep finding myself waiting to miss it – is that moment going to happen any time soon?

Wellington works for us. Not being from here I was a bit nervous about the city (I’ve lived here for two very short stints but nothing long enough to create any roots) but it’s a fantastic little capital with great culture, a brilliant food scene, fresh air and the magnificent outdoors in all its forms. Yes it is tough to make friends at this age but it is awesome having family close by and I love being able to see the sea from my desk.

Cool and quirky Wellington

Cool and quirky Wellington

KEA New Zealand’s LinkedIn group has a thread about how people have found getting jobs when they return and not all of it is positive that’s for sure. That was by far my biggest concern – that I wouldn’t fit in with the working environment and that the opportunities I want for my career wouldn’t exist in Wellington, but boy-oh-boy have I been proven wrong. I’ve found an amazing and challenging job with fantastic colleagues in a stimulating environment that has allowed my skills to shine. The majority of people I work with are either from overseas or have lived away for years so understand the occasional bout of reverse culture shock and a many of them have kids so totally get it when I turn up to work with massive bags under my eyes and already on my third long black for the day. Mr Man the Brit found it somewhat more difficult to get a job in his field due to various bureaucratic processes involved then the “but you don’t have any New Zealand experience” line but thankfully he has a good job now and is quite happy.

The houses here are COLD. I’m not going to lie here, that has been the biggest irritant about moving back, but thankfully we don’t live in the stone age and have heaters that go a long way even if they do send our power bills through the roof. But that’s probably been the worst part. New Zealand isn’t cheap either, but I earn a lot more here than I did in the UK and Mr Man hasn’t had to take the massive salary cut he initially thought he might have to.

We are happy. We live in a cute three bedroom cottage 15 minutes by train or bus into town. We wake up to tuis singing in our vegetable garden and every weekend we’re always enjoying the outdoors. You can’t compare these cities – they are simply too different – which is probably why the transition has been fine. This life is different to London, and it will never replace that amazing city, but it is good for us right now. You never know what lies around the corner and we have given ourselves two years before we completely agree to commit to Wellington but for now this works and life is good. The 20-something who wrote those diaries (what “my favourite things” post was originally meant to be about before my rant there!) would probably be horrified by how domestic she’s become, but I think she’d be proud that her favourite city in the entire world gave her another go before winding things down and sending her back to the other side of the world in order to write the next chapter of her life. It has started out well thus far.

This post was written as part of this month’s travel link-up with Emma, Kelly, Rebecca and Frankie. Do go and check out everyone’s posts – there are some real gems in there!

Bless your cotton socks London - you were awesome. Just send biscuits and we'll be cool.

Bless your cotton socks London – you were awesome. Just send biscuits and we’ll be cool.

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Filed under Moving continents, Travel link-up, Wellington

Afternoon tea in Wellington: The Museum Hotel’s Hippopotamus

The Museum Hotel's magnificent Hippopotamus

The Museum Hotel’s magnificent Hippopotamus

When I left London I definitely thought it was the end of my afternoon tea dates. I mean, come-on, after 40 afternoon teas over five years on my blog alone, plus the ones I didn’t review because I didn’t like them (yes, that does happen occasionally), you would think that one would never ever want an afternoon tea again.

But I was wrong. You see, my friend international woman of mystery N is quite convincing. When she reminds you that you’ve not had an afternoon tea date together in at least three years, you quickly schedule one.

View of the Sunday market and Wellington's waterfront

View of the Sunday market and Wellington’s waterfront

So off we went to Hippopotamus, famed for their cocktails, but also Global Champion of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge. We needed to see if this matched the afternoon teas we’d tried around the world.

It matched some of the best I’ve had in London. Even better, no scones were served so we didn’t fill up on dough – we could just eat beautifully crafted French pastries, savoury and sweet, in a location overlooking Wellington’s waterfront (you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, especially when that day happens to be the first real day of spring), sat in the sun but surrounded by art with the wow factor, downing tea and cocktails… what more could a lady want?

Cake stand

Cake stand

Nothing. The service was great, the passion-fruit mousse being the highlight of the incredible pastries sat in front of us, and Ms N fabulous as always.

Savouries

Savouries

Sweets

Sweets

Treats sent from the high tea gods...

Treats sent from the high tea gods…

I keep telling visitors to Wellington to stay for more than a day or two instead of using it as a quick stopover on their way to the South Island – there’s so much to see and do, that doing part mainly eating its wonderful food, so why not make an afternoon of it and include High Tea in the process?

A more detailed review will appear on the High Tea Society website but we paid $45 each for High Tea served with a gorgeous Bellini. 

Museum Hotel can be found at 90 Cable Street, Wellington, New Zealand. 

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Filed under Afternoon Tea, Eating, Tea, Travel, Wellington

Ed eats the Rolls Royce of Jamon in London’s Camino carving masterclass

Heaven on a plate (image thanks to Zomato)

Heaven on a plate (image thanks to Zomato)

I have to admit, I’ve never fully got on board with tapas.

Now, this isn’t anything against Spanish food – I love a paella as much as the next hombre, and my almost religious devotion to cured meats reached a zenith when I waited patiently for four months as I succeeded in doing my own.

But the small tapas plates have always troubled me as they seemingly offer such staggeringly bad value for money.

The (admittedly few) times I’ve eaten tapas in London have always left me unaccountably poorer, and, more importantly, still hungry!

So a trip to Camino for a Zomato bloggers’ meet-up presented an opportunity for my somewhat stubborn foodie mind to be changed.

Ed carving (image credit: Zomato)

Carving (image credit: Zomato)

Tucked behind the Tate Modern on Bankside, this branch of the small chain is set over two floors in the shiny new retail units set below a many-storied office building, wonderfully called the Blue Fin Building.

Inside it is all clean lines and polished surfaces, with little hints of Spain jumping out in the form of patterned wall tiles and Iberian produce stacked around the bar area.

The bar (Zomaro pic)

The bar (Zomaro pic)

But the décor is really by-the-by; I was here to eat…and it seems to learn, also.

Waiting for us next to a succulent looking full leg of jamón (24-months old ICYW) was chef Nacho del Campo, ready to give us a carving masterclass (something now being offered at Camino).

A fine leg (Zomato pic)

A fine leg (Zomato pic)

As well as being hugely knowledgeable about all things porcine, we also discovered Nacho was incredibly patient as a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs began to hack away at this wonderful piece of meat with a very sharp knife!

One by one we attempted to carve the perfect slice, with little success – it really is a tough thing to master.

Whilst waiting our turn to wield the knife there was plenty to keep us quiet, including creamy Manchego cheese with quince jelly, baby squid with aioli (not at all overcooked) the most incredibly moreish tomato bread (think bruschetta but so much more) and a potato tortilla.

The yummy tomato bread (Zomato pic)

The yummy tomato bread (Zomato pic)

But special mention must go to the padrón peppers, quite an on-trend menu item at the moment, but done perfectly here. We were warned that these peppers would contain one or two with real kick. I went through about two dozen before hitting the padrón grenade but when I got there it was eye-wateringly spicy. Amazing!

Padron peppers!

Padron peppers!

After our carving we then had the chance to try different hams from the Camino range, from 20-month to 32-month in age, before they wheeled out the three-year-old ‘Rolls Royce’ of jamón, the Bellota Etiqueta Negra. (Great to say, even better to eat).

For the first time in my life, I was full from eating Spanish tapas food; it even got to the point where I said no to more. This was quite the turn-up!

It must be noted that we were there for an especially arranged event and were therefore probably being deliberately fattened up, but I did take the chance to peek at what was being served to that evening’s regular diners and everything looked very generous.

The best thing about this experience, I believe, is that it wasn’t just created as a one-off for a bunch of food bloggers, but is something now available for everyone to book.

For £30 they’re offering the evening’s carving masterclass where you’re able to take what you carve (tip: carve it real thick to get more!) and also take home a full leg if you fancy (although that will cost you upwards of £100).

I liked Camino. It’s not fine dining by any means, but it feels authentic and is a perfect antidote to the high street likes of La Tasca.

More importantly, it has signalled a thawing in my relationship with tapas.

www.camino.uk.com/jamonmasterclass

 

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Filed under Eating, Experiences, Food, Gentleman loves cake, London, Restaurants

A surprising brunch at Empire Cinema, Island Bay

Island Bay's Empire Cinema & Eatery

Island Bay’s Empire Cinema & Eatery

During my recent staycation, I was absolutely determined to relax. Two winters back on back has basically destroyed my immune system so I need some time to get my bounce back (seriously, if you ever make the move to the other side of the world, make sure you time it so you get two summers in a row~). Mr Man was on holiday in Australia which meant I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted provided I was back in time to pick the kids up.

I’d not been to the movies in forever so planned to head to Island Bay’s Empire Cinema on my own until I mentioned to my Mum that I was going anyway if she fancied joining me. She was well up for it – Bill Bryson’s excellent book called A Walk in the Woods had been turned into a movie starring Robert Redford and she needed an excuse to go.

So off we trotted to a midday showing at the comfiest and cutest little cinema you ever did see.

Interior

Interior

We had planned to go for a coffee somewhere else beforehand but arrived super-duper early and strolled around Island Bay’s shops before deciding that the best brunch to be served actually appeared to be in the cinema itself.

For once I went for a savoury option – broccolini with halloumi and pumpkin seeds – while Mum satisfied her sweet tooth with an amazing stack of pancakes served with just the right amount of bananas, berries and maple syrup with a dash of coconut on top (why do more restaurants not do this??). Both of us were in heaven, so much so that we nearly forgot to make it into our movie on time.

Pancakes

Pancakes

Broccolini

Broccolini

This cinema is so cute it’s not funny but not cute in a twee way. Built in the 1920’s specifically to show silent films then used in various guises until its restoration in 2004, then revamped this year, the food here is as good as the comfortable couch-like seating inside, great service, good coffee. You could properly do dinner and a movie all in one place.

Counter

Counter

The movie was better than I thought it would be – almost how I pictured the book which is a very good read – but the whole experience was awesome. Definitely a place to go to on a proper chill-out day.

Empire Cinema and Eatery can be found at 214 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington

Afterwards we drove to Breaker Bay - would you believe that right behind those hills is suburbia?

Afterwards we drove to Breaker Bay – would you believe that right behind those hills is suburbia?

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Filed under Brunch, Coffee, Wellington