Thursday, 25 January 2018

Travel: New Delhi

I very briefly recounted last year's India adventure here but a closer look is required and today I'm re-visiting New Dehli, the city where we started and ended our trip. 

I met my parents ten steps off my my 4am flight from Dubai to New Dehli (they'd arrived on a somewhat longer flight from London half an hour before I did) - they had sorted out the logistics by booking Kuoni's Temple, Tiger and Taj Trail, what I like to call a "John Lewis Holiday" (as their nearest Kuoni branch is in John Lewis in Welwyn). With pretty much everything organised for us, I was free to hurriedly debrief my parents on the last two months of my life while in the immigration queue and had just finished horrifying them with my Nikki Beach bar bill when we were whisked through the arrivals hall, into a waiting mini bus and were rattling down a Dehli road punctuated by potholes and monkeys(!) running atop the roadside fences.

Our time in New Dehli was a fast immersion into India - the sites, sounds, smells, the mix of old and new, the peaceful tree-lined Diplomatic Enclave, the dusty and chaotic market in Old Dehli and a fleeting glimpse of royalty (the King and Queen of Belgium were staying at our hotel) made for a whirlwind glimpse of the vast contrasts of India's capital city.

We stayed for two nights at the Taj Hotel in the Diplomatic Enclave, I loved the huge rooftop pool and the cocktails and the coffee were the best on our whole trip (don't judge I'm at least 50% gin and caffeine). 

The tombs of Humayun and Isa Khan were our first stop, situated in peaceful parkland. Here I was approached for the first of many selfies, Instagrams and Snapchats by smartphone-wielding teenagers, always politely and in perfect English.

Next stop, the Jama Masjid mosque. If you are a woman, or a man wearing shorts, you'll be provided with bright robes on entering and everyone is required to remove their shoes at the entrance (general India tip - slip on plimsoles and socks are your best footwear option). The mosque is a still-functioning place of worship and the architecture is truly incredible.

Jama Masjid is atop a steep hill, we ventured down to regular street level and walked through the Old Dehli markets, a bubble of buying and selling of all things imaginable. (India tip number two, look at but do not taste the street food).

During our visit, Delhi was shrouded in a dense grey fog which made the India Gate monument imperceptible from more than a hundred or so metres away. The monument commemorates India's fallen soldiers and has major echoes of Paris's Arc de Triomphe in its design. Walking with the monument behind us, through crowds of domestic and foreign tourists and street-sellers, we headed uphill to the former Viceroy's House before turning to look back at the wide streets and colonial-era architecture.

Fast forward ten days later and the last night of our trip brought us back to New Delhi and to the colonial-era Maidens Hotel. I loved the design and history of this hotel, we left too early to partake of the breakfast buffet but the spread of coffee, fruit and freshly-baked cookies before our 7am taxi back to the airport was much appreciated. 

Next stop...Agra and the Taj Mahal... 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Life: January Wishlist

I have been saving recent pay cheques - the rent on my Dubai apartment is due next month (I'm actually going to be moving apartments too to add to the fun) and it is custom in this city to pay a year's rent upfront. Yes, that boggled my mind too at first. It's also meant that non-essential purchasing is temporarily on hold because, even as a thirty year-old I'm still not quite in tune with the concept of "saving for the future" and should probably have started thinking about this two months before I did.

Anyway, the requirement to cut back on the spending only means one thing: I want everything. Here is my current list of material wishes, with the caveat that i) possessions don't make you happy (but there's no harm in trying) and ii) I still have TWO pairs of unworn Louboutins languishing in the bottom of my wardrobe and should therefore never be allowed to shop again.

I am so desperate for a yoga wheel to counteract the (many) hours spent hunched over my desk and to complement Yoga With Adriene's True 30 Day Yoga Journey which I am (predictably) loving this month. In the spirt of over-achieving, I'm also running the Dubai 10k this month after barely running for a bus in 2017 and so definitely want all new gym wear to motivate me, this Sweaty Betty workout bra would be a good start. I ironically wear more black since moving to a hot country - the hemline on this Oasis dress is super cute. Living in Dubai means wearing sandals all year round so new Birkenstocks are needed as I forgot how comfortable they are and can't really face putting my feat through heel-wearing anymore. Denim skirts were my go-to as a sixth-former but 2005 was long enough ago that I finally (really, really) want to wear one again - this Topshop one in particular. In the spirt of channelling my inner sixth-former, I am obsessed with all things and cannot enter the Dubai Mall without browsing their wares (in Bloomingdales Home or Galleries Lafayettes) - this tote bag serves as a reminder to us all. The Ordinary products are my favourite and the minimalist packaging makes me feel like I have my shit together - the rose hip seed oil is lovely.

What's on your list?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Food: 7 Veggie Dubai Breakfasts To Try In 2018

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all.

1. Smashed Avo Toast at Tom & Serg

tom and serg dubai

The breakfast menu is available all day - Tom & Serg's most recent take on avocado on toast features goat's curd, watercress and a tamarind and black lime dressing.

2. Green Breakfast Bowl at The Sum of Us

the sum of us dubai

Another all day breakfast menu from Tom & Serg's sister cafe - the green breakfast bowl contains kale, halloumi, quinoa, almonds and a perfectly poached egg.

3. Avocado Toast at The Surf House

the surf house dubai

A Hawaiian-esque take on avocado toast with lotus root and edamame, just steps away from Kite Beach. Post-breakfast surfing optional.

4. Pancakes at Supernatural Kitchen

supernatural kitchen dubai

Banana pancakes with hazelnut chocolate spread and berry sauce - made from entirely raw vegan ingredients.

5. Avocado Toast at Common Grounds

common grounds dubai

Another all day option at another Tom & Serg offering - Common Grounds' smashed avocado comes with ricotta, lemon, coriander, sea salt and chilli flakes.

6. Poached eggs on toast at One Life Kitchen and Cafe

one life kitchen dubai design district

Poached eggs on toast with a side of avocado and the papers at this very friendly Dubai Design District cafe.

7. Avocado on Toast at The Sum of Us

the sum of us dubai

The Sum of Us's smashed avocado with chilli flakes, ricotta cheese and lime, topped with two poached eggs. 

Friday, 5 January 2018

Life: Thoughts For A New Year

A belated happy new year. I always like to let the dust settle a little before I think about the year just started - the first day of January always feels too early and it's all to easy to focus on giving things up, making sweeping changes and being caught up in the "new year, new you" mentality. How many years have I resolved to stop or start doing something only to return to old habits a few days later?

I dislike resolutions as a change can be made whenever we chose - I started running again in the middle of December while working sixteen-hour days and trying to keep a grasp on my still new social circle. I'm glad I didn't wait until now, not just because the Dubai 10k is on the 26th of this month but because I've already got a little bit faster, been sleeping a little bit better and feeling a little bit calmer. 

As much as I'd like to do yoga every day, read a book every week and never touch caffeine / sugar I'm not going to waste mental energy on berating myself for an extra half hour in bed rather than heading to a yoga class, or for my daily iced latte habit. I'm less concerned with labels and limits and on fitting a certain mould, and without much effort I do find that, most days, yes I do some yoga and I rarely want a 4pm Diet Coke and mostly walk right past the box of birthday Krispy Kremes in the office kitchen. The occasional "slip-up" feels less like a digression and more like my life without self-imposed limits and making choices for the moment. 

2018 isn't going to be about big changes (see 2017 for them...) or big birthdays (again...2017), this is a year for the little things, for small tweaks and small shifts in perspective and for every day, even in the smallest way, to be a good one. So, these aren't resolutions but small thoughts for how I can make 2018 the best year:

- make my own rules for my life, my career and my relationships but listen intently to anyone who offers a different perspective or has more experience in any of the above 

- remind myself that I am never going to be younger than now and that the alternative to getting older isn't too great 

- realise that it's ok to turn off my alarm rather than go to a yoga class, or to eat a second slice of bread, to not react to a situation exactly how I would ideally want to or to maybe, sometimes, be a little bit sulky 

- remember that I can only control how I react to situations and have zero control over situations themselves 

- keep on asking questions, keep on asking for help when I need it, keep being kind and nice and silly and never let this world make me bitter or cynical

- know that I can make good things happen (and that it works) rather than waiting around for good things to happen to me (and that this has never worked)

- try every new experience that comes my way, even if I am scared or think I'll be terrible because that's really when its the most fun

- remember that everything is temporary, that everything changes and that all moments, good or bad, will eventually pass 

- know that I have so much more to learn, to do and to experience, that this is the end of the beginning and that the middle of the story is always where the magic happens


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Life: December Round-Up

Another month, and another year over. December has been quite nice. It's (relatively) cooler so I'm half enjoying adding "outdoor" before most everyday activities and half trying to not feel sad that the temperatures will soon be rising again before I've done even half of what I want to do. My struggle to live in the present moment continues but being able to run outside again has helped to sort through the mix of "end of year" feelings that you can't get away from despite being able to eat dinner on the balcony in December. This month, I think, has been one of my favourites.

1. My friend M came to visit for a long weekend - the views (and strong cocktails) 68 floors up at Weslodge made for a fun Thursday night, if not the low-key one I had promised.

2. Morning sunrises from my balcony. The start of the month was mostly spent marvelling at being able to go outside for more than three minutes without expiring.

3. Making plans for a new year - I can only commit to things if they're written down and Bando planners come with stickers, Google calander doesn't.

4. A boat trip to Moon Island where I snorkelled for the first time after a not small amount of encouragement and felt like I was in Blue Planet. Desperate to do it again.

5. Coffee at Depresso - came for the 'gram but definitely enjoyed every super sweet sip of this while walking along nearby Kite Beach.

6. Treating M to a 20p boat ride - definitely the best "budget fun" Dubai has to offer.

7. In the spirit of "make your own traditions" - a Christmas day sunset horse ride through the Dubai desert. I can't stop talking about this and blogged about it here.

8. That #RedCup shot - this update suggests otherwise but I've made a big effort to cut down on coffee and I think I feel better for it, or at least believe that I do (half the battle really).

9. Rupi Kaur's books - in contrast to my love of planners, I'm a Kindle devotee and aspiring minimalist. It takes a lot for me to buy an actual book but these are amazing and you already knew that.

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