Royal Blood

So since I’ve been living overseas, I’m not as ‘in tune’ with the music scene as I used to be. I stumbled upon this band Royal Blood a little late to the table, but it is my opinion that it is never too late to discover new music!
In the debriefing of Triple J’s Hottest 100 in which the general consensus was ‘where are all the guitars’? I find my guitar solace in these guys, they are punchy, refreshing and full of swagger.

Upon listening my mind wanders to a blend of Muse, Band of Skulls mixed in with the latest Arctic Monkeys‘ record. Who incidentally they supported last year.

These Brighton boys really know how to pack a punch of music genius.

One of the highlights on this album, for me is Little Monster with it’s raw guitar licks and it’s catchy chorus gives it anthemic qualities that circulate through your head until you want to pump the air with your fist and jump around… no matter where you are!

Out of the Black is the first single I ever heard from this band. It’s even edgier with it’s sharp drum beat that wakes you up immediately. The beginning part kind of reminds me of Rage Against The Machine.. proper head-banging stuff… but then Mike Kerr’s vocals kick in and it’s instantly updated and it draws you in.

This album came out last year, after playing T in the Park, Glastonbury and Reading festivals.
They’re gaining international success, they’re currently on a European tour, and in the summer they will be supporting Foo Fighters. Here is what Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin had to say about them  “I went to hear them in New York. They were fantastic. Absolutely riveting, they’re such fine musicians.Their album has taken the genre up a serious few notches. It’s so refreshing to hear, because they play with the spirit of the things that have preceded them, but you can hear they’re going to take rock into a new realm – if they’re not already doing that. It’s music of tremendous quality.” 

They’re said to be working on their second album at the moment, and I personally can’t wait. For a two piece, they manage to sound like a full blown 5 piece rock band. If you haven’t already, get onto them!

N

Station Eleven

You’ve got to love a good book, especially when it was recommended to you.

A few weeks ago I went down to my local Waterstones in search of something to read… I was in there for at least half an hour when, whilst looking at the ‘buy one get one half price’ table, with a book in hand, the sales assistant came up to me and said; “if you’re looking for something to go with that (Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain) try this… the book he handed me was Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

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Firstly, I was really impressed by the service and the knowledge of the young gentlemen in Waterstones.. it’s not very often these days that the people selling the books actually know the stock, and are well read and can tell what people would like to read based on other choices they’ve made…

Secondly, the book is fantastic!! It’s like nothing else I have ever read.. without giving too much away, the world is struck by the Georgian Flu.. a new super-virus that wipes out 99% of Earth’s population.. the book then follows the story of the people who survived and now live in a civilization that no longer has the luxury of electricity, fuel, manufactured food.. the list is endless. You could mistake it for a depressing story, but it’s not at all. It jumps between post-flu world and pre-flu world in a really creative way. And throughout the book, I found myself gaining a new appreciation for the everyday things in life..

If you are looking for a good read, I really recommend it.

N

Christmas in London

I love this time of year, but never before have I felt SO festive! The City of London have truly exceeded my expectations with their festive cheer. Every major monument has it’s very own Christmas tree, every street has their own themed Christmas decorations and as it’s getting colder there are people selling roasted nuts, Christmas markets are popping up everywhere along the Thames, it really is a magical atmosphere.

This will be my first cold Christmas, so it’s been surreal to see and experience all these things – it’s so strange, it’s not hot, school’s not wrapping up, there wont be any seafood on my plate on Christmas Day.. but that’s ok! I came here to experience new things and this is definitely going to be a Christmas to remember.

Here are just some of the Christmas tree’s I’ve spied around London over the last month…

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Covent Garden

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Borough Markets

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St Paul’s Cathedral

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Shakespeare’s Globe

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Trafalgar Square

 

Christmas Markets have been big on the agenda lately, we found a Scandinavian Christmas Market near our house in Rotherhithe, where I had a chance to try mulled wine for the first time.

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The streets of London are not only covered in Christmas trees, but lights!!!

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Regent Street

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Regent Street

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St Paul’s Cathedral

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Bond Street

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House of Fraser

 

With Christmas themed streets comes Christmas themed events! Including the Santa Run my flatmate Frances and I did. 6km around Battersea Park, in a Santa suit!

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Ready for action!

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Ho Ho Ho!

 

After this run, we kicked on to Santacon! An annual Santa convention where groups of people dressed up as Santa meet up in London to drink basically.. quite a sight to behold..

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Saying hello to Lizzie…

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Santa’s taking over Buckingham Palace..

 

We had our ‘house Christmas’ on Sunday, with all my flat mates, as we will all be apart for Christmas. It was so lovely, we spent all day in the kitchen, I cooked my first roast! We had Christmas carols playing all day, whilst my flat mates made a gingerbread house, we had baked Camembert, roast turkey and a wide selection of vegetables, with a broccoli and zucchini quiche. Then for dessert Cranachan a Scottish dessert followed by fruit minced pies!! So needless to say, if our individual Christmas’s don’t turn out as expected, we had it covered!
We then sat down to watch the classic National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and A Muppets Christmas Carol. I love Christmas movies, it doesn’t matter if they’re corny or cheesey, you only watched them once a year so you may as well indulge a little!

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Our feast!

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Setting our table..

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Cranachan desserts

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Gingerbread house!

 

And the main event is still to come!! Safe to say I have well and truly celebrated enough Christmas this year for the next few years to come!

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

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Barlow House Christmas Tree

N

I Love Where I Live

On Sunday, I had myself a bit of a ‘London appreciation day’. It started with a massage I’d had booked for a month, it was amazing and put in a really great mood. Afterwards, I decided to meander back the way my bus had taken me as it was a beautiful sunny day and I was in one of the nicest areas in London, South Kensington. Even though I was covered (literally) head to toe in massage oil and my face had just been scrubbed clean from my facial, I walked. I stopped in at the Natural History Museum – alas the queue was too long for my patience level, so I decided to watch some ice-skating as the ice rink has now opened outside the NHM.

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My walk then took me past Harrods… which currently has their Christmas window displays up! How could I not stop and have a peek.. and then a wander around inside it’s confusing yet luscious interior?!

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Being Armistice Sunday, I couldn’t not stop in a the war memorials at Hyde Park Corner.. which then carried me back through Green Park… and area of Hyde Park that I haven’t really spent much time in, but I now intend to. It’s only 5 tube stops away from my house and it is GORGEOUS! I literally had to stop and sit on a bench and just soak it all in.. I had a ‘moment’ of clarity and stopped to fully appreciate where I was and how happy I was to be there.

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If I stop and ponder on the year thus far, a lot has happened to me! A lot of change… and quite significant ones at that. Looking back to the start of this year, I was fresh out of uni, unemployed and completely oblivious to what was going to come at me this year. I had a new motto.. ‘go with the flow’ and boy did I flow.. flowed right into a brand new job! A job that in the end, didn’t really work out for me, but I learned a lot from the experience I had there, and I made some new friends along the way! I then found myself moving to London.. a HUGE step that fortunately I didn’t give myself long enough to over-think.. and now here I am working a temp job where it is entirely likely I will be in a different job in a few months.. and writing for a music website on the side.. so I’m not only still going with the flow but life is exciting! And I am definitely loving where I live.

N

Under The Tuscan Sun

Last weekend I did something I have never done before. I went on holiday, by myself! At first I was terrified, as this wasn’t the original plan.. but then I embraced it. Living with friends is great but I do love a bit of Me time, and what better way to unwind and completely relax then by going to Pisa for a weekend in the sun?

My first worry about going on holiday solo was that I would get bored (my attention span has been known to be rather short). What was I going to do with myself for a little over 48 hours? Well I discovered there was plenty to do on my own. It actually allowed me to get excited about the little things.. going for a walk around the town and taking in the landscape. Pisa is a small town, surrounded by mountains so the landscape is actually really interesting to look at.

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People watching! My oh my were there some interesting people. Not only is it a total tourist town (cue people posing in front of the leaning tower as if they’re holding it up) but it is also full of Italians… Italians are (I think) some of the most interesting people to watch. Firstly, they talk with their hands. They get so animated in conversation it’s fun to try and work out if they’re arguing with each other or just sharing a private joke. Being from an Italian heritage myself, a lot of this brought back childhood memories for me. Sitting at my Nonna & Nonno’s house while they had their friends over for coffee… it was exactly the same scene being played out on the streets of Pisa and in restaurants and bars.

The language itself I also find comforting, mainly for the memories it evokes in me. But just walking around, listening to people’s conversations (without a clue of what they were saying) was really nice and quite relaxing!

Another perk of travelling by myself was I wasn’t accountable to anyone. If I felt like getting some hazelnut gelato at 10:30am then I was going to have it! I could eat where I wanted, when I wanted, go and have a siesta anytime I wanted. Perfect!

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The weather in Pisa couldn’t have been better. Mild low twenties and not a single cloud in the sky.. for the entire 3 days. Although I did notice that most of the time, I was the only person in town without a jacket on. (clearly adjusting to this English climate) But it was actually nice to not be so hot that you were constantly sweating and in need of water. (last time I was in Italy it was averaging about 40 degrees!) So it allowed me to lay in the park for a couple of hours with my book and my journal and just BE. Really take stock of everything that’s happening in my life… I’ve had a big twelve months, a LOT has changed in that time and I guess it was the first chance I’ve had to just sit back and reflect.

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The food of course was what took up most of my time.. My days pretty much revolved around it! Something that was clear was how different the food is to the Italian cuisine we are used to having at home. I think back in Australia, they have adapted the style of serving food to fit in with our culture, but when you’re in Italy it’s different. For example, at home if you order a pizza, it is usually enough food to feed 2 people at least, but in Italy, a pizza is the size of a dinner plate.. just enough! A bowl of pasta wont leave you with a food coma because you are served a plate of pasta.. just enough! But it’s because of this perfect portioning that you can actually indulge and have antipasto and cheese or gelato (or sometimes both) afterwards. Makes for a much better meal really. And none of the meals were fancy restaurant style, it was all very simply served, very humble food…. now prepare to salivate as I post all my food pics..

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I highly recommend Pisa for a visit. Most people do a day trip, I think it deserves at least one night! It’s such a charming town with beautiful buildings and beautiful people. As for solo traveling, I now have the confidence to go if I find a good deal to go somewhere and no one else can make it, I’m not going to let it hold me back anymore!

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Just one more…

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N

Winging it in the Kitchen

So this week I’ve re-discovered the Food Network… via their website since I don’t have a TV… But I’ve fallen in love with Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond lives out on a ranch in Oklahoma and got her cooking show and cook book deals all from her blog! Anyway, she made a couple of amazing looking soups, one was a Broccoli Cheese Soup and the other was a Corn and Cheese Chowder. I couldn’t decide which one to try and make so I thought I would just try and combine the two and see what happens? Well.. I can tell you, magic happened that’s what.

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Pre-simmer stage… just looks like milk in a pot, until it gets nice and thick!

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I added cheddar and parmesan cheese for extra flavour

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I blitzed some of it up with a stick blender, gives it a bit more colour

I didn’t have much broccoli left in the freezer so I thought I could combine that with some corn and capsicum I already had in the fridge. Throw in some bacon for flavour and two types of cheese and oh my this chowder is soooo yummy, I basically licked the pot clean!

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Feeding the freezer with this lot, easy dinners coming up!

Here’s my recipe for anyone interested;

Vegetable & Bacon Chowder Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 an onion
1/2 cup of plain flour
3 cups of milk
1 & 1/2 cups of cheese
1 cup of chicken stock
1 or 2 rashes of bacon
Broccoli florets
1 capsicum
1 small tin of corn kernels
(the amount of vegetables isn’t really important, just use whatever you have!)

Method:
Fry off onion in a little bit of butter (gives more flavour than olive oil), then add in the bacon. Add in the vegetables and cook them for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook off for a minute or so and then add in the chicken stock. Cook and allow mixture to thicken. At this point I seasoned well with salt and pepper.. just taste along the way, you may need to add more later.
Turn the heat right down and add in the milk. Stir to ensure the flour is mixed in, and simmer with a lid on for 20  minutes.
Once it looks nice and thick (or to the consistency you like) add in the grated cheese and stir through until it’s all melted in. At this point I used a stick blender to break up some of the broccoli (I used frozen so I couldn’t cut them up any smaller at the beginning).
Best served in a bread roll.

Enjoy!

N

 

 

 

London Life is a Good Life

I feel like I should write about how much I am actually loving living in one of the best cities in the world!

London is a bloody marvelous place. Every single day there is so much on offer… shows, gigs, museums, festivals, markets, site seeing… every outing is an adventure.. even going to work! I am fortunate enough to be able to walk to work, it only takes me around 45-50 minutes and it takes me through the famous Borough Markets, across the Millennium Bridge, towards St Pauls. Alternatively, I can take the longer route over Tower Bridge and along the Thames walk… there is always something new to see along the way and I never tire of the view.

 

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Sunny St Pauls

 

Red poppies at the Tower of London

Red poppies at the Tower of London

 

'The Globe' at entrance to Borough Markets.. a.k.a Bridget Jones' House!

‘The Globe’ at entrance to Borough Markets.. a.k.a Bridget Jones’ House!

I have just come to the end of a very long week for me. The job I am working has two shift times, my colleague took a week’s holidays so I covered her early shift… 7:30am-4:30pm… and although I could get used to the early finishes, getting up before the sun was a little taxing by Friday! However it did allow me to capture this magical sunrise behind  Tower Bridge yesterday morning.

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As well as adjusting to a new city, I have also had to adjust to living out of home entirely! Unlike all of my friends, I never moved out of my parent’s house in Perth… so I knew I was going to be in for a shock and some adjustment and some growing up when I got here. It’s been nearly 2 months now that I’ve been living with my three friends and I am loving it! I genuinely enjoy living with these guys, they’re all very easy going and we all have enough in common that it’s just easy. It’s so nice coming home from work and sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and de-brief the day.. there’s always someone around to chat to or discuss music with, or head down to the local markets with. I think if I lived on my own I would go nuts!

Of course there are still people I am missing from home, every single day, but it’s getting easier as time goes on. I’m still in contact with everyone and know exactly what is going on at home. In the meantime, everything feels like it’s starting to jell here and London life is good!

N