We love living in Tottenham Hale

Tottenham Hale Tube SignNumber 20 on my 27 List was ‘Move into a 1 bed flat with Ben’ or in other words, move out of Tottenham Hale. Ben and I have lived here in North London for about three years now, and for about two of those I have talked about moving somewhere else.

My reasons for wanting to move have always boiled down to the area. I can’t imagine Tottenham has ever had a particularly good reputation; it’s rough and ready, like most of North London, but being the area that triggered the London Riots in 2011 made it infamous and quite intimidating – we haven’t had many visitors up here. To add to that, a lot of the facilities are run down; the high streets in the area boast an inordinate amount of chicken shops; there are places where I definitely won’t venture to at night; but the biggest shortfall for me has always been the lack of local pubs, cafés or parks that we felt comfortable hanging out in.

Holcome Road Market, TottenhamI have talked and talked about making a move. Thinking about where we might want to go and when to do it for two years. That’s a long time and super boring. To all my friends who have been listening for the past two years to me umming and ahhing and flipping between definitely moving and definitely not, I apologise.

But I have finally come to a decision: No, we’re not moving, we’re staying in Tottenham.

Tottenham has grown on us. We’re slowly getting to know our little community here and finding places we love and people we can chat to. Recently things have been changing here too and it seems, for better or worse, regeneration is coming to Tottenham.

Market days, cleaned up parks and social areas, craft breweries, pop up bars and coffee shops are springing up everywhere and the streets are looking brighter. The local council is spending a lot of time and money developing Tottenham and we’re definitely getting the benefits.

Here are a few things I’m loving about Tottenham right now, I’m hoping it will convince you to come and visit.

20150815_Around_Tottenham_0008Our Place: We rent the top floor of a two bedroom flat about 10 minutes walk from the underground station. It’s pretty spacious, for London, the rent doesn’t break the bank and it’s really warm in winter. In fact, I think it’s the warmest house I’ve ever lived in, for that reason alone I may never leave.

20150704_Tottenham_For_Blog_0029-WebThe Victoria Line: We are so well-connected in Tottenham. We have 3 overground stations nearby, a huge bus network and the holy grail…. We live on the best tube line in London.

Tottenham High Road 2015 The High Road: Where you chose to live not only affects your rent outgoing, it effects your lifestyle costs too. I like that Lidl, Asda, Iceland and Aldi supermarkets are all within walking distance and they’re soooo cheap! Even after three years here I am still astounded by the amount of groceries I can pick up at Lidl for under £10. Tottenham Green market, Tottenham Hale Tottenham green Market, Tottenham HaleThe Tottenham Green Market: Every Saturday in the summer we have been able to wander down to our local market and sit in the sun eating some awesome street food fare.

BeaverTown Brewery, Tottenham Hale20150815_Around_Tottenham_0070Beavertown Brewery Tap Room Saturdays: As the name suggests, on Saturdays this local craft brewer opens its doors and serves its extensive range of beers to the masses. Well maybe not masses, but it was surprising how many people make the trip out to this random little haven in the middle of an industrial estate. Watch out though – these beers are strong.

image3 image4Craving Coffee: I’m not a fan of coffee, but one sunny afternoon I forewent my usual chai tea latte and tried their iced coffee and I have never looked back. It’s milky, sweet and perfect for a non-coffee drinkers and coffee lovers alike. These guys also hold Tottenham Social events on Friday night with street food stalls and cocktails, I plan on spending a Friday evening there very soon.

_MG_0069The Beehive: A change of ownership has put this pub right up there on my ‘local loves’ list. It’s right around the corner, has an awesome beer garden, pool tables and heaps of space to relax. Oh and this pic shows me about to tuck into ‘The Tomahawk’ a huge, smokey BBQ pork chop, it’s going to be hard to stay away on lazy Sunday nights.

So this is Tottenham right now for me, I’m doing so much of the exploring I was too timid to do when I first moved here. Sure I do walk down Upper Street in Islington and wistfully imagine us living in a lovely one bed just off the high road, but the reality is, I don’t think I could ever justify paying those prices in rent. Tottenham works much better for us and our priorities.

So how about paying us a visit?

Blog Birthday – 1 year on

Green Pastel Birthday Cake with sprinklesYesterday I celebrated my 28th birthday and made my own birthday cake. I love an occasion to make cake and my own birthday is no exception. I went all out with pastel icing, sprinkles and candles – a proper birthday cake. Thanks to those who came out and helped me eat it last night, I had a great night.

Pastel Birthday Cake with sprinklesAs I started this blog on my birthday last year, that means my blog is now one year old. My birthday fell on a Friday last year and I had taken a flexi-day off work as a present to myself. I remember agonising over the first post and goading myself into pressing send before jumping in the shower and getting ready to meet friends for drinks in town.

I didn’t tell anyone about it for the first few months and I didn’t really do much on it. Then after a chance convo with one of my best friends from home, I started putting together my 27 List. Since then I have written 35 blog posts, had 1,010 views, 419 visitors and 41 comments. Not bad, although most of those visits and comments come from my parents, thanks mum and dad xx

Green Pastel Birthday Cake with sprinklesGreen Pastel Birthday Cake with sprinklesSo what’s next?

I have a few things I want to catch up on over the next few months, summer holiday memories and a few more things I have completed on the 27 List. My June update had a lot of gaps and work in progress, so I’ll keep working on that too. Then I’ll be turning my attention to my next set of goals and plans for the blog.

I’m not sure what they will be at the moment, but I know I’m going to keep at it. I’m getting more comfortable with writing and sharing my writing. It’s also a great way for Ben and I to practice our photography and try new things with our camera which is a bonus.

So, onwards and upwards and all that!

Thanks for joining me so far guys xx

Pastel Birthday Cake with sprinkles

4. The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon on London red bus I had been wanting to see The Book of Mormon since it opened in London 2 years ago, so when thinking about what things I wanted to show my friends while they were here, I knew I had to put it forward. They both looked at the press blurb and wrote back something like ‘That sounds so random! But I’m keen’. Yay! I booked the tickets and started getting excited.

The Book of Mormon MusicalUnfortunately, we happened to book on a tube strike day… It was mayhem in the city, when Londoners all forced to be above ground it really makes you realise how many people there are in the city. After sitting on a bus that took about half an hour to get from Liverpool street to St Paul’s we decided we would have to abandon it and walk the rest. The photo above is taken 5 minutes before the show started, we had just finished scoffing down Pret sandwiches and hoping another friend coming in from a day at Wimbledon would make it in time.

It was worth the extra effort though, this show had laughing right from the start. You really cannot have any expectations going into this, because any you do will be swiftly put in their place. The comedy constantly manages to subvert your expectations and I found myself bursting out in shock laughs for most of the show.

The Africa song is just one example of how the show toys with your expectation. The song starts with the woeful take of the plight of Uganda. No food, sun that will kill you, animals that will kill you etc. Then builds into an uplifting crescendo as the Nigerian village people get them all dancing and chanting a Hukuna-Matata-esque catch phrase. The laughs come when it’s translated.

This show takes aim at almost everyone, Mormons (of course),  racists,  homophobics, pedophiles, religious fanatics, and Ugandans to name a few. But where writers Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone (Trey and Stone of South park fame)  went so right was to poke fun at themselves, Americans. From the over happy “Good Mornings” to the jive style dance moves everything about the show was a send up of the over the top American culture that the world knows so well and it was hilarious.

A final mention must go to the actor who played Elder Cunningham, Brian Sears, who managed to slip a one liner about the tube strike and got a roar of laughter from the embattled London crowd.

Go and see it, you won’t be disappointed.

5. Create a Star Constellation Scarf

20150815_Constellation_scarf_0053

I read a fair few blogs, mostly on travel, quite a few on baking and a lot in between. I use the Bloglovin’ app to keep up to date with all the new writers, crafters and travellers I discover, and as I discover more and more awesome content I have started un-following blogs that I just don’t read anymore, as you do with Facebook – there are some random acquaintances you just have to expunge from your daily feed to keep your sanity.

There are two blogs that I always, always come back to though, A Beautiful Mess (ABM) and EnJOY It. They are both written by awesome women who produce intelligent and creative content and although they are both multi-channel lifestyle businesses now, at their heart, they are crafters and post almost daily DIY inspiration. I’m not really a crafter myself, I’m just not set up for it, but when I came to writing my 27 List, I knew I would have to challenge myself to try out a few things.

20150815_Constellation_scarf_0032 I spotted this DIY Constellations Scarf in the ABM archives one day and I was inspired to give it a go myself. I knew I had an old scarf I could use, and I can sew. How hard could it be? So I gave it a go. After a month or so searching for paint and embroidery thread I liked I got started drawing star templates and making stamps.

20150815_Constellation_scarf_0062I enjoyed chosing out the constellations a lot, that is the idea that attracted me to this activity the most, I thought it was an awesome way of personalising something. Above, I’m showing off the Southern Cross constellation, the cross which features on the New Zealand (and Australian) flag.

20150815_Constellation_scarf_PSD_0042I have also managed to put in myself and my sisters’ start signs Leo, Gemini and Aries and two Harry Potter references Sirius and Bellatrix. Although Bellatrix is missing the arrow part, oops.

When I first started making this I had imagined I would give it as a present, but after a few too many sloppy stars and uneven embroidery I think I better keep it for myself. On the surface this is a very simple craft, but like everything it is in the execution and without practice, mine was just not up to it. I am happy with my little effort though and I will wear it over winter, once it’s layered up all the imperfections are hidden.

20150815_Constellation_scarf_0063 So, that’s my first ‘as seen on’ blog attempt. I always wonder how many people reading these two blogs actually try any of what they read about. Have you ever tried any ‘as seen on’ blog crafts?

Photos thanks to Ben xx

17. Read: The Kite Runner

20150704_KiteRunner_0016This book is fantastic. This is the reason why I read, to find books like this.

20150704_KiteRunner_0038I am a firm believer that the best thing you can do to better yourself in life is read. Through reading you expand your knowledge, learn empathy and gain hundreds of different experiences from the past, present and future which helps you become a wiser and more rounded person. They are lofty claims, but I really think that a book can be your best teacher. Which is exactly what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner was for me.

The Kite Runner tells a story of loyalty, betrayal and redemption, through the eyes of a young boy Amir, growing up privileged on the outskirts of Kabul with his friend Hassan. The boys grow up together like brothers,  “running kites” and spending every day side by side. However, Amir and Hassan were not equals, Hassan was a servant in Amir’s fathers house.

The boys lives separate after Amir cowardly betrays Hassan and the war forces Amir and his father to flee to America. The one things that Amir’s new home cannot offer him though is redemption and eventually Amir must go back and right the wrongs he committed to his ever loyal friend Hassan.

The backdrop of war in Afghanistan elevates this story from the everyday to the unforgettable. I feel that I probably learned more about Afghanistan and it’s people through this book than I have through a lifetime of news reports. Because that’s what it has been in Afghanistan, nearly a lifetime of conflict, I can’t remember a time when Kabul or al-Qaeda have not been on my radar. Afghanistan has always been a war zone, far off in the Middle East, but this story makes it a country, a home, a place of children and grandparents. I love that this story really takes you to the heart of the Afghani people. The setting is so far from what I know, yet I didn’t feel disconnected at all.

I had a moment after reading Rahim Kahn’s recounting when the Taliban took over Kabul from the Northern Alliance “I actually danced in the street”. It was so harrowing to read of the celebrations this brought, knowing the huge costs the people would pay under the Taliban also. The Northern Alliance, in my limited understanding, was a military front set up to defend against the Taliban in the south. Both factions came up after the Soviet forces left Afghanistan.

20150704_KiteRunner_0054In the end the story leaves you with hope; hope for the characters and, a bit of hope for Afghanistan too. Definitely put it on your ‘to read list’ this story is a treasure.

20150704_KiteRunner_0028

14. What I wear to work

_MG_0044I’m not someone who stresses out about dressing in the morning, pulling out every item of clothing and changing into numerous different outfits before settling on the one I started in 30 minutes later. That is not me, generally I just dress and go with little to no fuss.

Problems occur for me when disorganisation sets in and we have not kept up with the washing. Then I really struggle. The stress comes when I literally have nothing to wear, not figuratively, literally have nothing to wear. (When I say nothing, of course I mean nothing appropriate that hasn’t been lying in a pile of gym clothes and socks for the past week.)

I came across this article online a few months ago by Matilda Kahl called Why I wear the exact same thing to work every day. Kahl was fed up with yet another pre-work outfit dilemma and decided to revamp her work outfit into 15 simple blouses, a few pairs of trousers and a blazer for winter. Basically a work uniform, or if you’re male, a suit.

Reading this I had two thoughts:

1. I thought, that’s what I do.. kinda. I have five work appropriate outfits I feel comfortable in. They meet the dress code, they fit well and I generally have underclothes that fit comfortably with them. These five outfits work for me all seasons, in winter with thick tights and boots, in summer with bare legs and sandals.

2. She has 15 blouses? Wow! I have four. Four blouses, three dresses and two skirts.

That is why I have challenged myself to grow my work wardrobe by adding three more failsafe outfits to the mix. Clothes that are comfortable, good quality and make me feel good.

So the pics below are my starting point:

Five days worth of outfits that I wear over and over again. I ummed and ahhed about how to photograph my clothes and I finally thought, well if I wear these outfits pretty much once a week and in the case of these items, have been wearing them all for over a year. Then I should be able to handle posing for a photo in them. So every morning this week, Ben followed me out to the park across the road and took a few pictures of me. It was super awkward and I was completely out of my comfort zone. But I’m glad I did it. For one, these are clothes my family back home probably never see me photographed in. It’s also a random little snapshot in time which is completely mundane now, but could make an interesting keepsake for the future. I loved seeing pictures of my parents when they were younger and looking at all the fashions they wore.

Here we go:

_MG_0010Monday: I got the dress on sale at River Island last summer, I think it cost me £15. Love the pattern and colours. The boots were also on sale at a Kurt Geiger outlet near my work, these were £19 and are so comfy. The cardi was a freebie that I picked out from a pile of clothes that my old flatmate couldn’t fit in her suitcase back to Australia.

_MG_0046Tuesday: The dress is from Dorothy Perkins, I can’t remember the cost now but I imagine it was around £15. The boots are as Monday.

_MG_0055_MG_0061Wednesday: This skirt is an ASOS purchase that I got about 3 years ago. It is so easy to wear and I get a lot of compliments in it. Definitely a keeper. I wear this with blouses in summer and thin jumpers in winter. This blouse is one I got at Spitalfields Market for £10. The black open toe shoes are from the Clarks outlet near my work and cost £20. The necklaces are from my parents, the silver heart from my dad for my 25th birthday and the little green tiki from my mum when I first travelled by myself to Japan. It was gifted to her by my grandparents when she left to travel to England at around the same age.

_MG_0021_MG_0002Thursday: This little black number is something I picked up at H&M for £16. This is my go-to shape for dresses. High neck and A-line skirt. I hope this dress lasts forever. The black courts are from Clarks for £20. The skipping girl necklace I bought for $20 at the Cuba Street Carnival in Wellington. I was at uni at the time and I remember I couldn’t really justify the cost being a poor student. I still love it though, nearly 10 years later and wear it every chance I get.

_MG_0086Friday: The blouse is Warehouse brand and I think I paid around £30 for it, making it my most expensive work item. The skirt is from ASOS for £18 and the black courts again are from Clarks for £20.

These clothes are pretty monochrome, I do have much more colour in my casual wardrobe. Looking at these costs too, I also realise I spend much more on my casual and socialising outfits that I do on my work ones. I obviously have my priorities right.

So now I’m on the look out for three more outfits to add to the mix. Shopping anyone?

8. Plan Travel Trip: Egypt and Jordan Tour

6174710534_dd3c915d85_zMy original goal was to get to Morocco this year. Morocco is one of the places my mum travelled to when she was living in the UK on her “OE”, or overseas experience for those not brought up in NZ. I grew up listening to stories of her travels, through Europe, Russia and Morocco and have always wanted to visit these places for myself.

So, Morocco is definitely still on the travel wish list, however when the chance came up to travel to Egypt with a friend this year, we couldn’t pass it up.

While studying for Prince2, the material called on me to create my own business case for a project. At the time I had only one thing on my mind.. So here is my business case for travel to Egypt and Jordan – probably not what the tutors had in mind but it kept me interested.

6174762160_e37cdeed99_zThe Egypt and Jordan Holiday Project Business Case

Executive Summary:

A two-week tour of Egypt and Jordan with a friend in November 2015.

Reasons:

  • The pyramids of Egypt are one of the 7 wonders of the world and are something that Ben and I both want to see.
  • I want to experience swimming in the Dead Sea in Jordan.
  • We have a good friend travelling at this time and she is interested in doing the same tour.
  • November is a good time to visit both countries as the temperature is milder and it is not high tourist season.
  • Friends of ours did a similar tour two years ago and highly recommended it.

Business options:

  1. Join on the Ancient Encounters 2 week tour of Egypt and Jordan with our friend. Our chosen option.
  2. Go for only 1 week- cost savings are minimal as we still have the same flight costs and only slightly reduced tour costs. We would save on leave. However we would only be able to see one country on that part of the tour.
  3. Go to Egypt and Jordan but don’t join on the tour. This would involve a lot of extra planning in preparation and mean a lot of unknowns when we get there. By joining a tour we gain the experience of professional guides and tried and tested activities and routes.
  4. Go somewhere else on our travel wish list. This means we could tailor our holiday to suit any cost or time restrictions, however our friend won’t be with us.
  5. Don’t go anywhere: We save the money we would have spent on flights and the tour and could put it towards house savings. We would also save 10 days of leave that could be used for other holidays or periods off.

6174710416_7e2f549d55_zExpected Benefits:

  • New experiences and our first taste of Africa
  • Relaxing and refreshing holiday away from work. Lots of down time and opportunities to explore
  • New friendships we can make on the tour within the tour group
  • Well organised and comprehensive travel plans prepared for us.
  • We can tick Egypt and Jordan off our travel wish list
  • Pictures and stories of our trip can be shared with friends

Expected Dis-benefits:

  • Disruption to our work schedule
  • Uses up remaining leave allocation for the year, so we have to forgo all other holiday options
  • Spending money on holiday, takes away from our house saving priorities

6175040766_16e0cda33b_zTime Scale:

  • The holiday will take 16 days, which means 10 days of leave
  • The expected benefits will be experienced during and soon after the holiday

Costs:

  • Flights are £900 for both of us
  • The tour is £1149 each at face value however we hope to get a discount at the TNT Travel Show
  • Insurance will be £100
  • Spending on the trip is estimated to be £400 each for tips and excursions
  • The cost of travel vaccinations (unknown)

Major Risks:

  • The political climate in Egypt and Jordan may make things dangerous for tourists and the tour might be cancelled
  • The foreign food and unclean water could make us sick
  • We may not enjoy the tour activities, it may not be what we were expecting

6174234713_c8df14587a_z Investment Appraisal:

We’re going to go for it!!

It is a lot of money but we think the experiences we will gain and the enjoyment we get out of it will far out way the costs. The Ancient Encounters tour is good value for money and they have a good reputation.

All photos are from the Encounters Travel website

May Update

Hello! Hello!

I have spent the weekend celebrating a good friends wedding out in Kent. The sun was shining, the alcohol was flowing and we couldn’t have been in better company.

Here’s us showing the kids the Nutbush…

20150606_Leanne_and_Mark's_Wedding_0069I also made the cake, which was a lot of fun, I now have a Pinterest page filled with ‘modern Victoria Sponge’ ideas and wedding cake toppers. Thankfully it tasted good and, save a few pieces squirreled away by the bride’s sister, was all gone before the night was through. Can we do it all again next weekend?

Here is my May update, and I’m not sure if I have crossed anything off the list this month, but there are lots of plans brewing, so more to come soon.

With the sun finally out I definitely need to pay attention to my work wardrobe, I’ll be updating that in the next few months. I also have a few craft things there which I have finally sourced all the materials for, so I’ll get started on those.

There is also a few travel destinations left to go…

1. Make a 3 tiered cake a la Sweetapolita Complete! Check out my practice run and the final baby shower cake.

2. Watch the entire series of Sex and the City  – Maybe I’ll be more productive with my evenings now that I have finished this. You can read my review here, spoiler – I loved it!

3. Write at least 27 more blog entries – Since writing the list, I have completed 17 posts so far… many more to come.

4. See The Book of Mormon theatre show – This is booked! I’m so excited to see this in July… AND I will get to share the experience with two very good friends who are visiting over summer. Can’t wait!

5. Create a star constellation scarfI have all the materials now, I just need to get started.

6. Host friends for a grown up dinner party

7. Make French macaronsDone!They were delicious. Here are my macarons and my Paris research.

8. Plan a travel trip to Morocco –

9. Make lolly infused vodka See my colourful attempt here.

10. Knit a peggy square blanket, maybe like thisBlanket = Stalled in favour of tennis in the sunshine.

11. Try out dance classes – Life got in the way and I stopped going to classes, I keep telling myself I’ll go back to it, but it has been a couple of months now…

12. Run a 10K cancer research race – Claire and I will be racing for life on June 27th at Victoria Park. Please help support this good cause by donating through our Just Giving Page. We’re the Star Sisters, we’re running in a group with two other sisters too. Must get training!

13. Make salted caramel as gifts

14. Develop a uniform work wardrobe of at least 8 outfits

15. Go to see an inspirational speaker (like a Ted Talk) –  I was inspired by many speakers at the Women of the World Festival.  An unexpected talk about The Myth of Talent really resonated with me too.

16. Take a DSLR camera course – I have bought the ABM DSLR Basics course and have been reading through the lessons slowly. I am waiting for some more sunlight to truly start practicing.

17. Read these books –  The Robber BrideFinished 13/03/2015, see my first attempt at a book review here. The Colour Purple – Finished 20/03/2015, see my purple post here. The Kite Runner – I have this on reserve at my local library, so hopefully a copy gets returned soon and I can get started on it. 

18. Make gimmick tea bag craft idea for friends

19. Hike along the White Cliffs of Dover

20. Move into a 1 bed flat with Ben

21. Stay at/visit a National Trust site

22. See a netball match, hopefully to support New Zealand. – It doesn’t look like NZ is touring England this year, booo! But England will be playing a few World Cup warm up matches in the next few months.

23. Have a cocktail at the Ritz – I have been doing some research on the Rivoli Bar at the Ritz, and the more I read, the more I’m not so keen on going anymore. It just sounds too stuffy and uptight for me to enjoy.

Instead I have been researching awesome London cocktails bars for somewhere else I would rather spend my money in. These are the candidates so far: Nola, a New Orleans style cocktail bar in Shoreditch; Mr Foggs, a Mayfair bar decorated in Victorian Explorer trinkets and trifles and Original Sin, this place looks incredible and is within stumbling distance from home.

If you have any more recommendations please let me know.

24. Climb Snowdon Mountain, Wales

25. Do some study through work. Hopefully a Prince2 Project Management qualification. – I completed a 1 week intensive course mid-May, and will get my results back shortly, fingers crossed.

26. Print a photo book

27. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant – Booked! Ben and I are going to have lunch at Galvin at Windows for our anniversary. I think it’s the worst name for a restaurant I have heard, but the food looks delicious.