re: Nottingham

Taking a tour around my own city.

As much as I love reminiscing about my travels in Asia, let me introduce the city I’ve been living in for the past two and a half years to my blog. A friend from Hong Kong recently came to visit for the day, giving me the perfect opportunity to revisit some old sights, share new favourites and also try something new.

A newly discovered favourite, for years I had mistaken Ye Olde Tripe To Jerusalem for a regular pub. Walking inside, however, you’ll be surprised (spoiler alert) at its quaint interiors, having been built into the rocks under Nottingham Castle. My first visit involved cramming into a cosy alcove, making for quite a primitive experience as we ate lunch surrounded by the uneven graffiti covered rocks that made up its walls. It does get incredibly busy here, but on my second visit (~11:30, weekday) it was decidedly quiet and we easily managed to secure a table, eavesdropping on the tour group that had assembled next to us.

After a satisfyingly filling lunch, what better than a short walk to Nottingham Castle? It’s a lovely vantage point from which to view the city, although apart from getting excited at seeing the clock tower of University Park’s Trent Building, the view is nothing truly spectacular. Alongside permanent displays in the castle museum, there are also changing rosters of exhibitions to discover – that we easily spent a couple of hours going through.

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Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side as we arrived at Wollaton Park, suddenly turning gloomy and overcast. We took refuge inside the mansion (known locally as Batman’s crib) and buried ourselves in its history, as told through a new exhibition of delicate paper cut outs that sprang from the pages of open books. There’s also an incredible collection of taxidermy animals within these rooms, although some displays can benefit from better lighting options to be able to appreciate the craftsmanship of this archaic form of perseveration.

I’m still waiting for snow to appear in Nottingham, so I can only say that the best weather conditions in which to walk the grounds of Wollaton Park is sunny and hot. There should be more deer roaming about (we only caught a sad glimpse at a far-away herd) and the sunshine brings out the best in Wollaton Hall’s intricate features. This condition also applies to visiting the University of Nottingham’s main campus, University Park. It’s pretty much what convinced me to apply and boats are also available to rent in the summer, making for that quintessential UoN experience.

We ended our evening with a new venture, Sexy Mama Love Spaghetti. An undeniably eye-catching name crudely scrawled across its exterior, it might be somewhere you’d quickly walk past on any normal occasion. But having heard great reviews, we decided to see for ourselves. The restaurant itself is a tiny squeeze, even for a small person like me, but the food was delicious! Ordering the king scallop linguine was the best decision made that night, it was cooked so perfectly. We both felt the risotto Milanese was lacklustre and the portions were slightly on the small side, but the staff and general atmosphere of the restaurant were lovely.

~

re: ferences

re: Bloggers Recognition Award

embarrassing histories and cool recommendations

I have been happily writing my blog for quite some time now and while you’re somewhat aware of people seeing your posts you can’t be sure of them actually being interested in reading it. It was surprising and lovely to hear that I was nominated for the Blogger’s Recognition Award by Vanessa from WanderlustPlusOne who is an incredible inspiration for the times when you feel that travelling seems impossible – if Vanessa can do it with child in tow, you can do it on your own! I’d love to be as active a traveller with my own family in the future (#momgoals) and will be looking back for many tips!

Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  • Give thanks to the person who had nominated you and a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Briefly tell how you started blogging.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.
  • Comment on the nominated blogs and let them know you have nominated them and give a link to the post you have created.

I created my first ever blog with a friend when I was around 13. Our aim was to discuss topics on a weekly basis, either chosen by us or suggested by readers, but after writing our introductory post, we were never coordinated enough to make anything else happen. I’m putting the link here for my own reference, I’m surprised it still exists, but who am I kidding, the internet immortalises everything. Anyways, I’m glad we didn’t end up writing more than two posts, otherwise present me would have died from embarrassment (goodbye emo phase). My second venture into ‘blogging’ was a solo expedition into the world of fashion (ref: here), this is slightly less cringe-inducing since I didn’t really write anything, but nevertheless, the twinge of second hand embarrassment is felt. Ushering us all back to present day, my side bar is pretty self-explanatory (for all you desktop viewers out there), I started blogging when I went out on my year abroad to Hong Kong, but didn’t start taking it seriously until coming back to the UK where I started writing about my travels in detail.

Some advice for new bloggers?

  1. It’s terribly clichéd, but start a blog because you love writing, creating new content, sharing your creativity, etc. Don’t be too bothered about gaining millions of followers, otherwise you’ll find that writing blog posts will become a chore. I love to document what I did as another means to keep in touch with people I know and for something to look back on (probably cringe at too) when I’m older. Your memory might not always be as clear as it is now, but at least you have it written down!
  2. Explore tags and interact with others in the blogging community! I love reading about other people’s experiences with places I’ve visited and places I haven’t. It’s a constant stream of inspiration and information that’ll motivate you to keep writing and sharing. Don’t feel that you should only limit yourself to following blogs within your own area of focus either, there’s so many wonderful writers out there – where would my life be without beauty bloggers?

Here are some of my favourite blogs to read: Sorry, I’ve just included 10 as this post was getting rather long!

  1. Travelling Matters

Mel and Suan, you’ve probably been nominated for so many of these awards, but it’s well deserved! I’m always amazed by how many places they’ve been to and there’s always another trip bubbling in the pipeline! There’s never a lack for something interesting and refreshing to read, with articles exploring aspects of travel that I would never have considered.

  1. ah petrichor

I’ve only just come across Ching’s blog recently and I wish I found it sooner! She writes in both English and Chinese (traditional), which is perfect for a language learner like me, looking to improve their reading comprehension. Each post is also accompanied by really beautiful photographs. Although the WordPress app is convenient for those on the go, I’d really recommend taking the time to browse her posts via the desktop site to get the true beauty of her website theme!

  1. The Humble Explorer

Another great blog ran by YipChu and Jotina, I was drawn in by their amazing photographs and their content is equally on par. Each post is helpfully embedded by pins on Google maps, making it all the easier to track down that zoo café in Bangkok you wished you discovered. I love that we’ve travelled to a lot of similar places, yet have wildly different experiences – it’s a sign of a good travel blog that makes you want to revisit a country after you’ve just left!

  1. Jules Verne Times Two

Writing under the mysterious pseudonym of Jules and Verne (inspired by their favourite writer) comes another blogging duo I highly rate! They have a wonderful style of writing that I adore and each post is full of interesting narratives and personal anecdotes that are worthy of being compiled into a book!

  1. Stylish Wanderer

Combining fashion with reviews on travel, Stylish Wanderer has awesome posts reviewing accommodation, which can come in handy if you’re stuck for a place to stay. Her posts on Korea are full of interesting places I wish I had time to visit when I was out there!

  1. The Bellezza Corner

Amanda runs a great lifestyle blog covering a whole range of topics such as fashion, beauty and travel. As a novice in the world of beauty, her posts are filled with really useful information! A simple girl make-up wise, I especially loved her post on necessary nudes and neutrals to have in your make-up collection. Intrigued by the MAC lip-liner, I ended up going in store and purchasing a foundation too!

  1. An Aesthetic Mind

Despite running primarily a travel blog, I’m hooked on all things food, beauty and fashion. Julia’s blog is filled with lovely, clear photographs and everything she owns looks so pretty! I love the mix of travel posts, which initially prompted a follow, interspersed with posts on fashion and other aspects of life.

  1. 90s Kids Travel

Erica hasn’t posted for a while, but I hope she continues to write again! Her posts are packed full of great information and price references, which is very useful for a student like me who loves to plan and budget.

  1. Under Clouded Stars

There’s something romantic about writing poems and this blog is sure to alight a desire to visit every place that is covered. Her photographs fit the tone of each poem so perfectly and it’s lovely to see how thoughts and experiences can be clearly conveyed in just a few words.

  1. Awkward Introvert Traveler

With a blog name I can relate to, I am vicariously living through Luke and Des’ posts from when they embarked on a road trip around the US (it’s on my bucket list!). I’m just discovering how stunning America’s national parks are and their posts are just filled with wonderful photographs to highlight this. Make sure to check out their Instagram page too for more amazing photos.

re: Hong Kong

Off The Beaten Track, pt. II.

Pt. II of Off the Beaten Track, because I like small bite-sized blog posts.

If possible, I would just skip the idea of a ‘holiday’ altogether and live in Hong Kong for a couple of months, explore its offerings at a lackadaisical pace and soak in the sun.

Kowloon; the suburbs.

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Venturing a bit further out when visiting Kowloon and you’ll find another local favourite, BBQ! From my experience, it’s around £20 for all you can eat food, usually without a strict time limit on your stay. Depending on the place, this can also extend to all you can drink, or be limited to just one free drink. In any case, it’s always good to carry a bottle of water on your person at all times when in Hong Kong.

I’ve written partly about this about this before, but if you’ve already trekked out to Kowloon, why not make a day of it? Go for a bike ride and work up an appetite to truly take advantage of the all you can eat deal in the evening! It’s another local past time and it’s easy to see why. Being away from the inner city allows for designated bicycle lanes and you can follow one route that takes you all the way from Tai Wai to Tai Po. Don’t worry about the cycle back either, you can return the bikes at another location and take the bus or taxi back to the nearest MTR station once finished. There’s really no reason not to do this when visiting Hong Kong, you’ll find your view of the city thoroughly broadened and return with a fresh perspective that most visitors won’t have acquired.

CNY: Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

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Finding yourself in the city during Chinese New Year, make sure to visit Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree! During the festive period, the area’s full of interesting sights from food, souvenirs and traditions. It’s a small but packed occasion, enjoyable nevertheless for visitors who wish to experience the community spirit of a 700-year old village. The wishing tree presents a fun opportunity to take part in a tradition wherein you attach your new year’s wishes onto a (fake) clementine (satsuma? orange?) and throw them up into the tree. The higher the branch, the more likely your wish will come true! I made two attempts at this when a young girl snatched up my orange (and wish!) before I could pick it up again. Equally hilarious was watching my friends throw their oranges only to accidently bump some poor stranger on the head.

Regarding the TST parade, this you can definitely skip. We secured a spot quite early on and found it not worth the wait. Rather than a continuous flow of music and celebration, there were 5/10-minute wait times between each section and the while the performers were wonderful in their own right, the majority of (if not all) floats were pretty much just decorated pieces of advertisement. I can appreciate a celebration of a country’s brand and businesses, but this was too much.

So this concludes my series of posts on Hong Kong! I hope this has proved useful or at least enjoyable for those who slogged through and read what I have to say – it really is appreciated, thank you!

re: soba, so good

cat cafes, fireflies and soba.

Meeting up with my friend Hazel (who chose to study abroad in Tokyo!), we visited her favourite cat café. Although there were many cute, exceedingly fluffy cats (and a kitten!), the space itself was pretty small and so visitors to the café were all politely vying for seating space and attention from the cats. The staff there were super considerate and if you did manage to get a seat, they would often relocate a sleepy cat onto your lap to love forever. With streaming eyes, my visit to the cat café was a short stay, since I was stupid and forgot to take my allergy medication with me.

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It’s like looking into a mirror.

I know I just wrote about having lunch a short while ago, but everyone else was hungry so we stopped by a 100-yen sushi place for second lunch. I love 100-yen sushi and I only wish I ate more of it during my trip! The quality is good, at least much better than the western equivalent Yo!Sushi (second on my list of hated Asian chain restaurants after Wagamama). Speaking of cheap deals, a trip to the 100-yen store resulted in me disregarding my already overweight hand luggage and going a little crazy on stationery – another thing that’s much better in Asia than the UK!

Later in the evening, we took a train to the outskirts of Tokyo for a local firefly festival. Huge crowds surrounded the small stream where the fireflies were released into and having never seen a firefly before it was pretty exciting to spot at least two dancing in the night. Sadly, the festival didn’t culminate in fireflies magically lighting up the vicinity like some whimsical Disney movie, but it was fun to experience the atmosphere of a local festival. Since it was very family oriented and held in a quiet neighbourhood, most stalls, including the delicious looking food vendors, were starting to close by 9.00pm, so we had to catch the train back into Tokyo for something to eat.

Luckily, Hazel knew of a cheap soba place open 24 hours so we all headed there and even though there was only 7 of us, we filled the whole restaurant. I’m not sure if my perceptions were skewed by hunger, but the soba was amazing! Costing only 530-yen for a bowl of soba, rice and some sliced pork belly (there are even cheaper options), this was the most inexpensive and satisfying meal I’ve had in Tokyo so far. Keep a look out for the small unassuming restaurants!

Apologies for the lack of photos in this post, I went on a massive purge through my photo library a couple of months ago and it seems nothing was deemed worthy enough to keep. Why do I do this to myself.