Monday, 23 April 2018

Dubai: 3 Things To Do Before Summer Hits

Growing up in London, I lived for the summer. Living in Dubai, "summer" is a flip-reverse where we stay in rather than go out, when visitors suddenly seem less keen to visit their friends living aboard, when the city is eerily quiet after being invaded by small children during Easter and Half Term and - how could I forget to mention - the temperature nears 50 degrees on a daily basis. Yep.

I'm almost looking forward to the sofa and the Game of Thrones boxset I still haven't watched, but until October rolls around and the outdoors becomes pleasant again, this is how I've been making the most of the last few weeks of more civilised temperatures:

1. Breakfast outdoors

Eating outdoors is nice until it gets just that little bit too warm and getting up from your chair comes with a three second moment of have-I-wet-myself horror. Dubai is less glam than you think sometimes. I had breakfast outside at Eggspectation which had been on my list for a while, there isn't any avocado on toast on the menu but I had to order the "bravocado" variation on eggs benedict.

2. Yoga at The Beach

The Beach holds free morning yoga classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7am. Granted the teacher didn't turn up to the one I attended  but we improvised and taught each other some flows and enjoyed the serene quiet of being by the sea early in the morning. The classes run until mid-May.

3. Stand-up paddle boarding

I started 2018 with a stand-up paddle (SUP) class and was desperate to do it again as, despite my purported fear of water, I loved it. Having friends in town was the perfect opportunity to spend an afternoon on the water, this time with Ignite Surface at Riva Beach Club on the Palm which has the advantage of calmer waters. Yoga poses optional.

My optimistic goals for the "indoor months":

- get back on track with my savings and sticking to a weekly budget

- read at least one book each month

- visit the yoga studio in my building 3 times per week (it's downstairs, no excuses)

- sort through and edit down my photos from the last three years

- donate / sell clothes I've not worn since moving to Dubai (hoarder for life)

- plan adventures for the cooler months to visit Ras Al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi

- learn how to say "no" (in a good way)

A reminder of some summer survival apps that were invaluable last year is here.

See you outdoors in October!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Travel: 48 Hours In Shoreditch, London

I grew up 20 miles north of London, and lived bang in the centre of town for nine(!) years. London may be cold, grey and wet but it's still home and still a city that I have a lot of love for. I was super excited to spend an all too short period of time there last week - 48 hours sandwiched between a trip down to Bath for a spring wedding.

Landing in Heathrow at 6am and jumping on the Piccadilly Line was a slight shock to the system after over a year in Dubai. Once the feeling had returned to my hands and feet (and the heating in our hotel room cranked up to a blissful 25 degrees), so did my love for the city where most of my formative memories were made, where every street sparks an anecdote, a forgotten memory which quickly resurfaces (to be shared or suppressed at one's own risk) or a slight sinking feeling when a once-loved watering hole has since been converted to a chain restaurant.


The Hoxton Hotel: my first ever hotel stay in London didn't disappoint. The Hoxton in Shoreditch is a gem of a city hotel, I loved the reception area which is home to The Hoxton Grill, open fires, cosy sofas and people far cooler than me tapping away on MacBooks. Staff were super friendly and we were able to check into our room at 8am which felt like such a gift after an overnight flight. The rooms aren't huge but are comfortable and filled with cute details (and some...interesting second-hand books), the free bottled water and vegan-friendly toiletries were a really nice touch. Top marks for the avocado on toast the following morning, too.

airbnb: our second London home was a beautiful apartment in Shoreditch. I loved the location, the decor and the way that everything had been thought of (extra long charging cables which reached the sofa, mood lighting and hair conditioner for the girl who packed two mini shampoos). Staying here felt like house-sitting for a very cool pal and, having lived in a teeny tiny studio during my time in London, having so much space (the photos aren't taken with a fish-eye lens) in central London felt amazing.


Ozone: I thought I had London's breakfast options down but Ozone was a new discovery for me. Surprisingly buzzing at 9am on a Thursday morning, we sat at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. A caffeine boost (oat-milk cappuccino) was very much required after taking the dreaded 1.30am flight. I had the vegan banana bread with nut butter and jam, my dining companion had something involving real bacon and we shared a side of avocado. Yum.

Ottolenghi Spitalfields: resisting the siren calls of Pret and Itsu, Ottolenghi's late lunch menu was the perfect pick sat at the window in a beam of sunshine with the realisation that Londoners are so effortlessly stylish (said the girl wearing a cardigan under a jumper...yep). This plate of three salads was so tasty and just enough to fuel an afternoon's shopping without spoiling my appetite for a dinner reservation at Bird of Smithfield. No photos of dinner but highly recommend for delicious food, unobtrusive service and the pink peppercorn gin cocktail.


Not my shopping list... We hit up Montezuma's for (very) dark chocolate, Amathus for rare gins, The Ordinary's Spitalfields store for skincare, Nude Expresso for yet more coffee and Spitalfields market for all things you didn't know you wanted.

Until next time, London.


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Life: March Round-up

Well, this one was eventful. Some things that happened: I moved apartments, went to Hong Kong, billed my last billable hour as a corporate lawyer, had a visit from my friend F which encompassed barre and bars, hosted my parents in said new apartment, met one of my aunties and my cousin for the first time ever (that multicultural life) and marked eight whole months since my first date with a certain boy. I'm happiest when I simultaneously have at least twenty things on my to do list, a G&T in hand and new and old friends with which to share stories. Almost enough to distract me from y'know, a slight career re-direction and the not small epiphany that I've (finally, really this time) reached actual adulthood and that I'm more than okay about that.

March, when photographed, looked like this:

1. Yes, this is just a Pret coffee but I am enjoying having a taste of "home", even if the prices are a little too "Dubai".

2. Lauren and I went to Hong Kong and took in this magnificent view from the top of the Peak.

3. I broke out my old ~fashion blogger poses in front of a pink wall.

4. My first visit to Macau and there were lots of tourists but I didn't photoshop them out of my pictures.

5. I could eat Baker and Spice's avocado on toast every day - its the best.

6. Happy Hour at Weslodge for cucumber gimlets, good views and good tunes.

7. Someone needed to sample the dessert menu at Mina Brasserie and the s'mores bar was almost worth the inevitable sugar crash.

8. Spent my last few hours as a lawyer taking part in a slightly-more-challenging-than-anticipated beach olympics and not falling off a paddle-board.

9. Turns out that one of my favourite bars, La Serre, does a great breakfast, too. I had an acai bowl and lots of coffee.

April includes a trip to the UK, one wedding, one new job and...yes, that's probably enough really.

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