a brief look over my shoulder

i came across these old photos the other day and i'm a little bit confused about how i got them. our family photos are all over the place: some at my dad's house in canada, some at my gran's house in sussex, some at my aunt's house in jersey, maybe some in bermuda, but most of them are in a storage unite in atlanta, it's a long story, we don't even have any relatives there.

it is nice to look back and spend some time thinking about where i came from, and just from these photos i feel i can get an idea of what traits i have from my parents.

my dad in his early 20s in a canoe in malaysia - i definitely inherited my wanderlust from him. he's lived everywhere, even places i never new about. when i went to kenya he mentioned "oh, yea, i used to live there - in karen, let me know if you pass through there when you're in nairobi..." uuuuuuuh, what? you used to live in africa? 
also, he was born in calcutta, is british, but now lives in canada - and i don't even know how many countries he's lived in in between... but i do know that he also lived in iran...

because that's where he met my mum. she has also travelled widely and lived in more countries that i can count she's still doing it today. i love this picture of her because she looks so cool, she's in aviators and a playsuit, how awesome is that? i definitely inherited her style, but i clearly did not inherit her skin - she can rock a beautiful tan where i've never had one in my life. she also grew up in india possibly that's where she learned how to tan... my parents got engaged in iran and that's probably where i would have been born how cool would that have been?? if the shah hadn't fallen in 1979. my mum was sick at the time and needed medication, she couldn't fly while all other expats were fleeing the country and she needed medicine, so my dad used to have to brave the riots to go pelting down the street to the pharmacy - they finally ended up catching the last ever flight out of the country before it was completely shut down. can you get any more dramatic/romantic? 
my aunt likes to tell the story about how she was 8 months pregnant at that time and used to sit by the phone for hours during the day trying to get anything but cut off while trying to call my dad to see if he was ok. it took her about a week and when finally he answered she said frantically "how are you?!?!? are you ok?!?!" and my dad replied cheerfully "we're fine thanks, how are you?" really, dad? REALLY?!?!

but somehow they eventually landed in bermuda. well, its no mystery why the went there, that's where my grandparents live. they are british as well by the way. essentially, with an ever so brief deviation via denmark possibly? my entire heritage is british. anway, bermuda is where they stayed, long enough to get married and have my brother and i... cute, aren't we?

i love my family's history. as far as i'm concerned, it makes up a big part of who i am and i almost feel obliged to keep the adventures going - it's in my blood.

swallows and amazons

this movie reminds me so much of my childhood. i feel like this is the life that my gran lived, and my father and aunts and uncles. the way they speak, their manners, the way they act all grown up and responsible while playing pretend. i just love it!

is it just me or do kids not act like this anymore? not that i have loads of experience with kids, but it makes me happy to see little ones with such active imaginations. 

i love the children's clothes too, those massive balloon shorts on the boys and the collard shirts with pullovers that they wore. and how the little girls wore dresses with little shorts underneath so that they could run around and keep up with the boys.

and those little red pompom hats!!?

i really think i was born in the wrong time. i want to be an amazon...

amazons forever!!!!

i took a few stills of the film on my ipad the other night, the top two are my favourite.

home for the weekend - part two

we went to visit the tan hill inn - the highest pub in england 

whenever we go to visit my mum we always seem to 
run into a classic car convention of some sort

on a map there was a place near by called wenslydale, which of course prompted me to say 
"cheeeeeeese", like wallace from wallace and gromit. 
still not sure if that wenslydale is where they make wenslydale cheese

we made friends with the local wildlife, this little sheep came up to us for a chat
 - i think it thought it was a dog... 
that's me, always eager to form a friendship with any available animal. 
life up in the yorkshire dales can be rough on sheep, and they are mostly wild up there - but occasionally the tan hill inn takes in a baby when it gets seperated from it's mother for some reason, so they can grow up to be pretty tame...

 these are adam's photos from the back garden

its starting to dawn on me that he's a better photographer than i am...

 he spent a long time stalking the bunnies...

that's the end of my photos from this past weekend's adventure. we had a really great time and it was so nice to relax and get some proper sleep.

the countdown to my trip to kenya is officially on. only four days to go! the forecast suggests it will be rain and thunderstorms the whole time we are there, but i am only going to take that as a suggestion and politely suggest in return that we may have some sun... please?

also, and this is the best part, on of my best friends sara jane is going to fly out from toronto and meet me in nairobi! once i'm done working, me, sara jane, and eve (who is also travelling to kenya for work) will take a few days to go to mombasa. i actually can't wait.

so coming back to london from my mum's house didn't prompt too much end-of-holiday-despair because i'm off again in a few days!! even if it is mostly for work, who cares, it's AFRICA!

home for the weekend - part one

this past weekend, adam, my friend kim and i got in the car and went on a four hour road trip up north to visit my mum. she lives in lancashire, which in my opinion is the most beautiful county in england (though not having visited all of them that's a bit of an uneducated opinion). we ate loads, walked loads, watched movies camped out on the living room floor by the fire.

my mum lives in one of those parts of the country where there isn't much going on except for sheep hanging out and bunnies sunbathing in the back garden, it's pretty great, its got to be one of my most favourite places on earth right now. she always goes and gets loads of food in for us and roasts a chicken for dinner (which is my absolute favourite - but it has to be a specific kind of chicken from near where she lives). 

we all had such a relaxing time, none of us wanted to leave. it was just so great, we actually all started to calm down a little bit and shake off a bit of that hectic london feeling. it was all too short lived though, because it was back to work today.

but here are some pictures from the weekend...

kim preforming her signature leap - there are pictures of her leaping for joy 
practically all over the world... 

 nothing like hot chocolate to warm you up after a chilly stroll through the fields

lambing season is definitely in full swing over there

more to come tomorrow...

the staves at the tabernacle, notting hill


see if you can spot adam

last night adam and i went to the tabernacle in notting hill to see the staves play again. i've mentioned the staves before, they really are amazing. while their ep's are really good, they simply do not do them justice - seeing them live is a breathtaking experience. i think it has something to do with their harmonies.

everyone walked in really excited to see them an wound up from the working day, and left feeling really soothed and relaxed. their music has that effect. i've put up a few of their songs on the right of my homepage under the heading "stuck in my head", you can have a listen there... i recommend getting a cup of tea and putting on a warm jumper first, the calming effect works better if you get comfortable first :)

there was a massive group of us that went to the gig, and the weather was so glorious that we could sit outside and have a pre-gig drink. i really wanted to stop and take some photos of notting hill in the evening light while all the blossoms were out, but when you're with so many people it just doesn't seem appropriate. i did manage to take a few of the venue though and one or two of the gig itself. 

i also recorded this little video to give you an idea of what its like to watch them live.

everyone loves a pretty hair day

like every woman, i have a love/hate relationship with my hair. it's frizzy when it needs to be smooth, it require washing and "do-ing" every other day, it gets knots in it ALL THE TIME, caught under my handbag strap and pulled out ALL THE TIME and generally any interaction i have with it involving a hairbrush, nine times out of ten, nearly ends in tears.

this is why, every so often, i have a lazy day. and the up-side of the lazy day is that it appears to be the opposite of a lazy day.

a little dry-shampoo (special Stuff for brunets so there's no white powder halo action going on), one or two strategically placed braids, the occasional headband, a little hair spray, and away you go to work without anyone noticing that you really should have washed your hair that morning.

the down-side of lazy days is that it takes pretty much forever to wash all of the product out of your hair... but the point is that it looks pretty! i love rocking the fishtail braid because it's so pretty and looks a lot harder to do than it really is - i find its way easier to do than the french braid.

please substitute all my mentions of the word braid with plait if you prefer, depending on your country - with my mashed-up accent saying the word plait makes me sound ridiculous.

panda cam saves the day

yesterday was such a stressful day at work. NGOs are always coming under fire for one thing or another, development and welfare is a very subjective and heatedly debated topic, and rightly so. however, its always my biggest fear that people are going to bring that conversation onto facebook, because then it snowballs, and it's me who has to deal with it.

while sitting at my desk stressing, this popped up on my tweetdeck alert: i saw the words panda cam and immediately clicked on the link, i just couldn't help it! the rest of my day, whenever i felt stressed, i sat and watched a baby panda up a tree for a few moments. i highly recommend this technique for alleviating stress in the work place, baby pandas have often been noted for their medicinal and sopporiphic qualities ;)

here's the link to panda heaven.

there's no evening like a sushi making evening.

saturday was a really lovely day. adam had to work all weekend (again) so we took some time to have breakfast together early in the morning in soho before he went into the office. we then spent a little time at his office playing with the rolling chairs - him pulling me around by my legs while i held on to the chair for dear life.

after that i just sort of roamed the streets. i headed in the direction of regents park (with a short deviation into topshop - i got distracted by the sale signs) and took some photos of the birds, and then i ended up paying a visit to some friends on their canal boat, which i'll probably do a post about another time because it was a lot of fun.

after that i wandered the streets and some random markets with my friends kim and ashleigh. we found passion fruit, 7 for £1 which was pretty great. some scary children's toys. and some aubergines which were bigger than my head.

kim headed off to drinks with friends after we hatched a plan to go away together for the upcoming may bank holiday weekend, ash headed off to wimbledon to get her hair done, and i headed home for an evening of sushi making fun! below are some pictures - i live with some pretty serious foodies and will probably gain about 100lbs before i move out as a result. i do love sushi though.

cooking the sushi rice.

 making spring rolls takes team work.

 tom has proclaimed that he wishes to be buried with his new deep-fat fryer.

my rolls turned out quite good i think... 

adam refusing all advice on how to roll sushi the right way.

not too shabby actually. 

 this was my contribution to the evening. passionfruit, elderflower, pink-lemonade vodka-tini. oh yes. It was amazing.

macaroni & "cheese"

my friend kim just came back from america. she put this on my desk at work today and as excited as i was to recieve it, little did i know how much i would NEED it by the end of the day.

this is kraft makaroni & cheese. i pretty much grew up on this stuff, eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a child whenever i could get away with it. its horrible, synthetic, radioactive-looking powdered cheese that is pretty much one chemical reaction away from becoming a plastic - and it tasts like it was sent down direct from heaven just for me.

today was a pretty horrible day. the overlaying theme was embarrassment and annoyance in the workplace. it was one of those days where i just should have kept my mouth shut. i don't have a lot of professional confidence, though i think i do a pretty great job of faking it - and today was one of those days that i needed to employ all of my "faking it" skills.

so by the end of the day when i hauled my tired and miserable self home, i needed a pick me up. and what better way than to achieve one than by eating my favourite childhood dinner. i only hope adam forgives me for eating it without him - he's out at an office party - because he loves it just as much as i do.

sometimes it's nice with a dollop of ketchup too.
gross, i know, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

i've done it again.

i went and got my hair done. after the fiasco a few months ago where my hair ended up turning bright orange, i just kind of lost all nerves about playing around with it's colour. it's going to have to be all chopped off eventually anyway, maybe next winter, but for now i'm just having fun doing all the things to it that i've always been too nervous to.

so i've ended up with yet another new look. the dip-dyed look, i think it the US they call it obmre. i don't think i'm nearly trendy enough to go for any kind of wild difference in colour, so it's a bit more subtle and a bit more natural looking - or close to natural anyway.

the truth is. i've always secretly wanted to be a blonde, but i know i would just look ridiculous. so this is the closest i will ever get and i think i really sort of love it. maybe one day i will go a bit 
lighter, but for now i'm really happy with the way it turned out - even if i'm a little behind the trend, as usual.

it took two and a half hours to do!

i think i need to take a moment


i have found somewhere in london that sells aunt jemima original syrup.
oh goodness do i miss this stuff.
i've been happy over the years with golden syrup, i'll buy maple if i'm feeling in the mood to splash out
but nothing beats aunt jemima, no sir

where did i find this miracle? 
at the indian shop across the road from the hindu temple in north london, 
of course. 
i purchased it with my samosas. no joke. 

shopping for pho, my one true love

on wednesday my flatmate came out with these magic words: "i'm making pho tomorrow night, do you guys want some?"

if this blog were years old, you would all know by now how much i love pho. i mean, really love it. i'll have more entries about it in the future i have no doubt, so i won't get into it at the moment.

clara and i went on a bit of a shopping trip to leicester square to get some ingredients. i love china town in london, that place really is never what you expect. no shop is as small as it looks and sketchy doorways with misleading staircases are everywhere. 

but because she knows her way around, we managed to come away with some quite tasty ingredients, and having had her pho before, clara knows what she's doing it the kitchen.

and when you know what you're looking for and where to find it, you can get in and out unscathed with just a bbq pork bun and without being roped into overpriced dim-sum. 

kaffir lime leaves?! yes please!

Clara's homemade pho.

this is me a few years ago enjoying pho at my favourite ever vietnamese
restaurant in toronto, pho hung
the picture was taken just after i had been trying to create
walrus tusks with my chopsticks, as you do. i am a great advocate of playing with my food.