Wednesday, 26 October 2016

London: The London Cat Village

I really want a cat. But, reality check, I live in a studio apartment on the sixth floor. Oh, and responsibility and commitment are not really my thing. I mean,  I could be married with three kids by now but I can't even be bothered to swipe on Tinder. Also, I'm "always on holiday" and I've never had a pet that doesn't live in a cage before and I'm not sure how I feel about cleaning up sick and poop (human or animal). None of this is conducive to feline ownership even before I mention that my mother is most definitely definitely not a cat lady. So, yes, probably shouldn't do anything until I've worked through all of the above but my mother and I visited The London Cat Village as a first step in "Lily gets a cat" and it was super sweet.


london cat village cat cafe shoreditch

We visited on a Friday and it was quiet but booking is advisable (here). We swapped our shoes for slippers (provided but bring your own socks), helped ourselves to hand sanitiser and had the rules explained to us - no picking the cats up or feeding them human food - and were shown to our table.

london cat village cat cafe shoreditch

Unfortunately I didn't catch the name of the girl working the day we visited but she was so lovely (dark hair, Scottish) and introduced all the cats to us, explaining their personalities, breeds and answering our questions. My mother isn't a natural cat lady and hasn't spent much time around cats but all of the ones at the Cat Village are very chilled and used to humans. Being cats they are pretty un-fussed by humans and one was far more interested in the contents of my handbag than us.

london cat village cat cafe shoreditch

At midday the cats are quite active - they have a lot of scratching posts, toys and different levels to explore but obviously prefer trying to fit into too-small boxes. The Cat Village has a basement area too so the 13 cats have plenty of space to roam, sleep and get away from humans if they want to. It's really clean and well maintained, the cats are all chilled out and happy and love to sit in the window watching passers by and getting attention from the ones who notice cats starting out of a Shoreditch window!

london cat village cat cafe shoreditch

The Cat Village serves food and drinks - pretty normally priced by London standards. We each had a soya golden latte (tumeric, ginger, cinnamon and honey) which came in super cute cats paw mugs. We didn't order food but the next table's order looked great and reminded me that I was starving but I wanted to use my hour to play with the cats as much as possible. Our favourite cat was Oscar, a Scottish fold with a round face and huge eyes. He has his own Instagram page and I think is the only cat my mother has willingly stroked (verdict: very soft) - progress!

london cat village cat cafe shoreditch

We were given a five-minute warning when our time slot was up but didn't feel rushed to leave (fastest hour ever). We said goodbye to the cats and headed out feline good!


The London Cat Village, 47 Rivington Street
Directions here

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Monday, 24 October 2016

London: A Visit To Novelty Automation

Holborn is an area of London I know rather well. My university was on Kingsway and six years after graduating my friends and I suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome when making plans and inevitably arrange to meet "at 7pm outside Holborn Station?". A new addition to the area now known as "mid-town" (you are not Manhattan) is Novelty Automation, a five minute walk north from the aforementioned station.

novelty automation holborn

Novelty Automation feels like a cross between the terrible arcade games I loved as a child while visiting family in Brighton and the Pinball Hall of Fame which was one of my Las Vegas highlights. Entry is free but to play any of the games tokens are required - if like me you never carry cash then the minimum card payment is £8 which gives you the optimal amount of tokens to enjoy the machines. Follow them on Twitter and send them an email and a free token will be yours.

novelty automation holborn

I tried my hand at being a paparazzi drone photographer, operated a nuclear reactor and spun particles through a Small Hadron Collider. The games have a kitchsy-retro feel to them but are actually recent-ish home made endeavours. The Expressive Photo Booth is definitely worth three of your tokens and I'm so glad I didn't let the fact that I'd just done a yoga class and wasn't wearing make-up put me off. The sense of humour is very British - this is probably where Mark from Peep Show would take a girl on a date.

novelty automation holborn

I left with some edible nuclear waste, a Nobel prize and a smile on my face as I headed out into the October drizzle. Novelty Automation is open Wednesday - Saturday 11am - 6pm and has a late night opening on the first Thursday of every month (put 3rd November in the diary) complete with a bar until 9.30pm. I'm sure that brings a whole new dimension to the "Auto Frisk" machine...

novelty automation holborn

Novelty Automation1a Princeton Street 
Directions here


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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Food: A Japanese Supper Club with Monograph

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Japanese food. Having visited Japan twice, nothing beats the authentic culinary experience. I'm as happy with Wagamama and Itsu as anyone when it comes to workday lunches or a quick dinner catch-up but authentic Japanese food outside of Japan which doesn't leave you with a mini-break sized bill is harder to come by.

Monograph's supper club in Angel instantly appealed to me when browsing Tabl - the menu is pescetarian-friendly without the need to make any substitutions and the promise of re-creating a trip to Tokyo without a 10-hour flight had me sold.

Monograph japanese supper club

The supper club space is a tiny gallery in Angel where the first step into creating the authentic Japanese experience was squeezing in to our tiny table and introducing ourselves over the din of other diners. It's BYOB or you can add in a sake experience for £19 if you're adventurous with your alcohol. Attempts at drinking authentically in Japan and Korea reminded me that I am not.

Once seated the lights were dimmed and the experience and the dishes started to emerge. The food was excellent - I can't quite explain how the flavours of real Japanese cooking are different but when you taste it you know. Flavours are delicate yet complex. Nothing is overly strong, or spicy or salty. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the flavours are "just right" even if you can't quite pinpoint what they are. I'm not much of a cook but maybe if I can capture the elusive "umani" taste then I'll be halfway there.

Monograph japanese supper club

Having two smaller main courses meant that we could experience both an udon dish and a rice-based dish. The attention to detail of all of the food was amazing and I loved the stickers which explained each dish and how it was created. The rice in the salmon dish is cooked in a rice cooker imported from Japan and had that perfect sticky bite (I'm half-Persian and very particular about rice).

The between course "entertainment" (I don't want to give too much away here) was very funny and really helped to break the ice. Supper clubs are not restaurants and the chance to meet and speak to new people is always a little scary at first but an hour in and all my nervousness was forgotten. The food was amazing and I had a really fun evening having stepped out of my comfort zone and, briefly, into Tokyo.

Monograph japanese supper club

Monograph's four-course Japanese supper club is £29 and takes place most Friday evenings at 7pm. Tickets available here via Tabl.


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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Fashion: Winter Wishlist

As an international fashion blogger (duh I go on holiday quite frequently and once got shoe-d off of someone's doorstep while getting a friend to take my picture) you're always one season ahead; it's a tough life. Back in August when it was 35 degrees (or at least felt like it) the only brain power I wanted to expend was deciding between an iced coffee or a G&T (the later 9 times of out 10) and not thinking about A/W (that's autumn / winter for us fashion folk, someone did ask me once) or anything black or that would cover any part of my body more than public decency required.

But now it's October and all the good stuff is probably sold out and I've ruined my sandals in the rain and sported blue as a skin colour enough times to admit defeat to "The Winter Wardrobe". I am not a roll-necks-and-pumpkin-spice-lattes kind of girl but in the interests of not looking too idiotic in public and y'know, not contracting hypothermia, here's my winter wish-list because it's not getting any warmer until March AT LEAST. This is what I'll pretend to want to wear for winter walks or whatever people do in this grim season in Blog World but in reality I'll be hiding under a blanket, eating something which is at the same time vegan and devoid of nutrition while watching my old SATC box-set (the time is right). Winter '16 aesthetic sorted, then.


autumn winter wishlist


Firstly, and not at all related to the change of seasons I've ordered myself some tortoiseshell glasses to update my smarter-than-I-look vibe and because at 29 I need to face up to my poor eyesight and not give myself squint-induced wrinkles. Cashmere makes me feel like the Home Counties, "isn't Kate Middleton radiantly stylish" sort of girl that I actually am and this grey knit doesn't need a Princess (lol paid for by the taxpayer) budget. An ever-stylish friend of mine keeps her cashmere in the freezer and I plan to do the same once the vodka is finished and freed up some space. Velvet is definitely a winter fabric and this dress is at once covered and...not so covered. I need it.

Everyone is wearing pleated metallic skirts because, y'know, it's nearly Christmas (only it isn't) but who cares because I want to wear one too. Camisoles are needed for attempting layering without resembling the Michelin man having a hot flush as has happened every other winter I've tried to layer but maybe 2016 will be different. I wore hats all summer to make me feel cooler than I am and I want to wear them all winter too only with less straw. Finally, boots because London's streets ruin all footwear but these look sort of sensible. Kate Middleton would approve, wouldn't she?

What are you purchasing to ease the post-summer blues?

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Food: Autumn Lunchbox Ideas

If you're not familiar with #foodprep then do you even Instagram? Packed lunches are something I thought I'd left behind upon becoming a sixth former and being able to buy a panini for lunch but that was before the War On Carbs and the "wellness" movement. Not to mention that buying lunch everyday can add up to the equivalent of a holiday over the course of the year. That 1pm trip to Itsu now seems a little less appealing.

This month, Florette challenged me to put together an autumn-inspired lunchbox because salads are for life and not just for summer. This is super easy to put together and uses ingredients that may be in your fridge needing to be put to use or you can batch cook the quinoa and sweet potatoes for this recipe and use them throughout the week.

autumn lunchbox salad

 Ingredients:

Florette Crispy leaves - cooked sweet potato (cubed) - cooked quinoa - feta cheese - sun-dried tomatoes - artichoke hearts

Prepare the ingredients:

1. Cook 1 cup (dry) of quinoa according to packet instructions with a pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice. You won't need all of the quinoa in this salad so save the rest for making buddha bowls or my quinoa sushi.

2. Slice up your sweet potatoes into 1cm disks and place on a baking tray, brushed with a little coconut oil. Roast for 20-25 until softened. Save the leftover sweet potato for the next day's lunch (or do as I did and eat for breakfast with a sprinkle of cinnamon - less strange than it sounds).

autumn lunchbox salad

Assemble:

1. Mix Florette Crispy leaves with some quinoa as the base of your salad.

2. Layer up with chopped up cubes of sweet potato and crumble on the feta.

3. Avoid a soggy salad by putting the sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a separate compartment - add to the salad when ready to eat.

autumn lunchbox salad



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Thursday, 6 October 2016

Travel: A Weekend In Liverpool

I've called London my home for nine years now and most weekends I am sucked in to a Filofax-planned mix of work out classes, brunches, coffees, house warming parties, various bars and remembering to return ill-advised online orders. I love this city but it's an understatement to say that it's sometimes nice to escape it and even nicer when said escape doesn't involve an EasyJet flight or getting the decimal point wrong in my foreign exchange conversions.

weekend in liverpool guide

In celebration of my daddy's 60 years on this planet we took a trip to Liverpool, trusting an iPad and a Mini heaving under the weight of mine and my mother's multiple outfit choices to get us there in one piece. Some four hours later we arrived at Anfield for the start of our trip - the birthday boy being a long-term fan of Liverpool F.C.

weekend in liverpool guide

I'm not a huge football fan but I sometimes find myself watching MOTD alone and wondering why I'm still single and I've had some minor successes in work fantasy football leagues. Visiting Anfield (and twice driving past the very close by Goodison Park) felt a bit surreal to finally see these places as real structures and not just names on a TV screen. Stanley Park separates the warring factions and is a nice destination in its own right with beautifully kept flower beds and a Victorian glasshouse and bandstand.

weekend in liverpool guide

After Anfield we headed to the Titanic Hotel which was an absolute delight - located a fifteen minute walk from the city centre on the dockside, my bedroom was at least twice the size of my flat with a high exposed brick ceiling. The bar serves up a good elderflower martini (the best sort of martini) and the restaurant has a vegan menu as well as all the usual favourites. The Titanic itself was registered in Liverpool and bore the city's name on its stern, hence the connection and the hotel is adorned with posters from White Star Line which I recalled from my visit to Titanic Belfast.

weekend in liverpool guide

There is so much to do in Liverpool and despite none of us being big Beatles fans you can't avoid the Fab Four and it's amazing to think that (for better and for worse) we owe so much of our music today to them. The city is rightly super proud of its musical history and while I'm not quite sure if The Cavern Club that we visited was the "real" one or not it's definitely worth a walk down the stairs to the subterranean world below. Between The Beatles and the rival red and blue colours of Liverpool and Everton, the city has such a strong identity - even without hearing the Liverpool accent you could never mistake your location for anywhere else.

weekend in liverpool guide

The Albert Dock area has been regenerated and Tate Liverpool is a must-visit, entry is free as with the Museum of Liverpool. Even if you're not a football fan (not looking at my mother here) then Liverpool is partly responsible for giving the world the WAG so obviously shopping is a sport here, too. Liverpool One has every shop imaginable and we popped into Cricket where I was tempted to pop out with a Self Portrait dress.

weekend in liverpool guide

Food wise there's everything you can imagine a big city has to offer but keen to support independent businesses and because you can always rely on me to have researched any sort of vegan or veggie offerings we headed to Egg Cafe off of Bold Street for a late lunch - I had the hummus plate and my parents saw the next table tucking into the cheese on toast and couldn't not order it, it looked that good. Head to Bold Street Coffee around the corner afterwards. If you're a Londoner then service every where is very friendly and prices very reasonable.

weekend in liverpool guide

Our final day started on an exciting note as a certain league-winning team joined us at breakfast (not a complete surprise due to their manager being at dinner the night before). We headed out of Liverpool late morning and on our way south stopped off at The Elephant Pub and Bakehouse in Woolton for lunch. If you watch Sunday Brunch (no shame it's my favourite lazy Sunday viewing) then you might be familiar with The Elephant as it's owned by Simon Rimmer. Woolton is a picture postcard English village and you can't miss the pale blue pub on the main street. The menu is simple pub grub but done well and served in a really lovely setting, the perfect fuel for the long drive back south.




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Monday, 3 October 2016

Life: September Round-Up

September is over and in a blink of an eye another summer has passed. As if to signal the change in seasons my Birkenstocks fell apart and I've been dubiously eyeing up the black opaque tights in my wardrobe and may have to admit defeat soon. September flew by in a blur of birthdays (mine), more birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, babies, engagements (not mine) and all those markers of adulthood which have you having a weekly nervous breakdown in the aisles of Cards Galore because 99% of cards are too terrible to inflict on someone you like.



1. I spent a long weekend in Stockholm which was a lovely city.

2. Another long weekend, this time in Liverpool which I will blog about soon (having a blip in blogging motivation, blaming Mercury being in Retrograde for most of the month which strongly affects us already anxious Virgos).

3. September's weather was a little last hurrah for a summer where I don't really remember it raining or me suffering at any outdoor events.

4. Floating Dreams by Ik Joong-Kang on the Thames. You won't have missed this sculpture by the Millennium Bridge and a year after I visited the Korean border (one of the strangest days) the stories of hopes for the future of Korea are really thought-provoking.

5. Snaps and Rye on my birthday eve with my favourite girls. I am usually wary of tasting menus due to my "fussy eating" but the restaurant were great in catering for vegetarianism, pescetarianism and mushroom-hating.

6. Another long weekend at a wedding - a city girl explores the village moment. Turns out that being in the countryside by myself was the exact trigger I needed to make me want to run again.

7. I rarely use the Tube because it's pretty grim but made an exception to visit the cats at Clapham Common station. Hoping for more of these campaigns as I'd rather see pictures of cats than adverts telling me to get a "bikini body".

8. I've got really in to hot yoga recently and Fierce Grace is a favourite as it's so welcoming and non-judgemental.

9. A final summer roof top from Picturehouse Central. The area around Piccadilly Circus makes me want to scream but the bar at Picturehouse is a hidden gem if you need to meet someone centrally and want somewhere that's not full of noise and tourists.

Things I'm looking forward to in October which aren't Pumpkin Spice Lattes (hold the veg in my coffee) or chunky knit jumpers (nope) include Stylist Live, Conor Oberst's new album which I pre-ordered when October 14th was an unreal distant date, visiting the London Cat Village, touring the Meantime Brewery and thinking up Halloween costume ideas that will never happen unless one of my friends wants to host a Halloween party. Please do or I will.

How was your September?  

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