25 // Lala Land

LA was the third and final leg of our trip, following San Francisco (read the first post here) and then Palm Springs and Coachella (read the second post here). After watching embarrassing amounts of 90210 and Angel, I kinda couldn’t wait to go – though I knew I would prefer San Francisco. We stayed in a lovely AirBnB in Santa Monica, and spent our time exploring the vast place that Los Angeles is.


HOW WE GOT THERE:

Our Coachella camping buddies gave us a ride from Coachella to Santa Monica in the Coachella Mobile as part of our exchange!


HOW WE GOT AROUND:

Our legs – Our most useful asset but also not good enough for how big LA is.

UBER – I now love Uber! It was so cheap that it wasn’t worth getting public transport when you could just get an Uber there faster, especially with the Pool feature. Journeys across the city cost about $15 using that service. The cheapest trip, possibly a ten minute drive with four of us in the car cost about $4.

Cruisers – Along the beach from Santa Monica down to Venice, this cost us about $30

Car – Our AirBnB host drove us from Santa Monica up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu to Santa Barbara and back – the journey took about an hour and a half one way.


WHERE WE STAYED: 12 STREET AIRBNB

We stayed with a lovely lady called Jamie who has a spare room in her apartment. It was about a fifteen minute walk from the beach which was amazing and the vibe of the house was very relaxed. The room was perfect for just the two of us and we could use the kitchen, bathroom and living room as needed. Jamie was the best part of the AirBnB though, she was so friendly and nice and very kindly offered to drive us along the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara. Something we wouldn’t have been able to do with just our legs and Uber. I couldn’t recommend this Airbnb room enough, if you want to visit Santa Monica, certainly check it out.

1_LADAY ELEVEN: ARRIVAL AT OUR AIRBNB AND DINNER ON THE PIER

Dinner was Italian deliciousness from Ristorante Al Mare on Santa Monica pier.

Once we arrived at our lovely Airbnb with Jamie we followed her instructions to get in… All of us so relieved to see another real toilet after Coachella and our two hour drive. Jamie was there anyway and gave us a very friendly greeting before heading out. Mikee and I took turns to have a very welcome shower (camping for four days in the dessert + sweaty tent = gross) and then decided to head out and explore. You could feel the temperature difference so much from the desert to being by the ocean, we were a lot cooler there. We walked fifteen minutes down Wilshire Boulevard and arrived at Ocean Avenue. Cue Yellowcard and being 14 again. We walked along the promenade, crossed the PCH to the beach and walked in the sand toward the pier while the sun was moving into setting position.

We were’t sure what to do so figured food would be a great option as we love it so much. So we settled for somewhere that had a happy hour and fantastic views from the top of the pier. We had a pizza roll for starters (I’ll be having one of those again), followed by brilliant pasta dishes and then a dessert that consisted of seven different ways you could have chocolate (Antonia would be so jealous). So much chocolate. All while watching to sun set behind the mountains on the coast… It got a little chilly but we explored Santa Monica pier and played some games in the arcade. Mario Cart being the clear winner of fun times. We won like 84 tickets which earned us two sweets which I feel is winning at life… We then found Zoltar! Remember the machine from Big? He gave us our fortunes and answered our wishes, apparently I know a lot of people in armed forces?… We then decided to head back to our room and catch some z’s, not sure if our age would change anymore than eight hours by the morning…

3LA 4LADAY TWELVE: SILVERLAKE EXPLORING – ELLIOT SMITH MEMORIAL, RECORD SHOPS AND AWESOME FOOD

Breakfast – we wandered over to Vons the closest supermarket and got ourselves some food. 

Lunch – Tea from Proof Bakery followed by more tea from Dinosaur Coffee.

Dinner – Deliciousness from The Black Cat in Silverlake

Drinks – Malo for delicious Mexican cocktails

Once we woke up and had a quick wash we decided it would be wise to get some food for the next few days and headed over to Von’s. It was nice in there but I preferred Ralph’s in Palm Springs out of the supermarkets we visited. We decided to order some sandwiches from the deli counter and the lady who served us was the saddest person in the universe. She spread the butter with misery on her face, got the bread all wrong and unenthusiastically gave us our food. I really wish I could have done something to cheer her up but not knowing the problem would make my efforts a little futile.

We had our sad sandwiches for breakfast, followed by pretty delicious cake and then decided to go and explore Silverlake on the other side of LA. Checking google maps to plan public transport we discovered it would take two hours. TWO HOURS! So we decided to try and Uber it. It took 40mins maximum, with a lady driving us who reminded me of a mum, and cost us $30 which seemed entirely reasonable – because two hours. I wanted to visit Silverlake because I’d found a guide on DesignLoveFest which looked pretty fun. Plus I wanted to see the Elliot Smith memorial wall as I’d bought Figure 8 when I was about sixteen after seeing this beautiful little animation, and Autumn De Wilde who shot the cover is one of my favourite photographers.

We got dropped off at Proof Bakery and decided to get some tea because we were pretty full from our sad sandwiches. We then had no idea where to go, so walked forever, crossed the Los Angeles River and walked to the Elliot Smith memorial. I think we walked for about an hour, discovering a pretty cool shop called Wacko in the middle of a very long street.

One of the distinct differences I can say between Los Angeles and London is how people have used the space. Everything in LA seems pretty spaced out, if you want to go from one thing to another it seems likely that you’ll have to go pretty far to get there, whereas here in London everything is crammed together. I could probably walk an hour through the areas where people live in London and come across hundreds of pubs, shops and establishments.

We got to the memorial, I took some goofy photos outside and then we went into Dinosaur Coffee next door and got some more hot beverages. I had a lovely cup of golden needle tea which was very tasty.  After we continued exploring, as per the guide we noticed one of the recommended places Malo, was next door… we carried on down the road finding more cute shops and ended up in record shop after witnessing a cyclist slip off his bike in the middle of traffic. Kudos to him, he didn’t get run over, just got up and cycled off.

6LAThe record store was called Vacation and we chatted to the owner for what felt like an hour or so. He really loved music and it was nice to talk to someone who really cares about it. He showed us some of his new discoveries, and we were soon tempted to buy a vinyl but weren’t sure how to return with it in the suitcase. Once we left we walked down the road to discover the following: chickens, a piano, white painted palm trees, surf shops (can I surf please?) and an awesome comic book shop right out of ghost world. We were feeling a little hungry by this time so decided to head to one of the recommended places to eat. When we had been in the record shop the owner had looked at our list and backed up the Black Cat.

The place was so elegant and beautiful when we got inside. It was dimly lit and we grabbed a table for two. The waitress was super friendly and recommended some drinks. I ended up getting some wine that was pretty delicious and I ordered the burrata starter plate… It came with green beans which were really zingy and crunchy onions. All the flavours fit together perfectly and it was the most delicious thing I have eaten in months. I’m salivating as I write this. Mikee got the fried chicken which was also tasty but I was so happy with my cheese and green beans I didn’t regret my decision. We had a couple of cocktails and then decided to visit Malo as we were close to there still – they gave us some nachos and we got some margaritas before ordering another Uber home, using the pool option which cost us $15. Our driver was super friendly and we pooled with a guy who had just picked up some records and a tape from Amoeba music. So all round a very musical day.

9LADAY THIRTEEN: GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY, HOLLYWOOD HIKE AND DRINKS

Breakfast Bagels, scrambled egg and avocado – nom who doesn’t love avocado for breakfast!?

Late lunch was had at In’n’Out, we wanted to try this from having heard rave reviews.

Dinner was Mac n Cheese from Beer Belly along with drinks.

More Drinks at The Den

Our second full day in LA we decided to go and do something a little touristy and go on a hike to the hollywood sign. Let me warn you it’s terribly signposted. The only thing we saw giving us directions to it was probably 50feet away from it… when it was clearly in vision *facepalm*.

11LAWe got our Uber to the Griffith Observatory. Today our Uber drivers were middle eastern men who had been prisoners of war. Our pool person was a girl who was a bag of nerves going to the hospital… Once we reached the Observatory we wandered around and decided to go to the planetarium. (Can I just say how cool a day festival in a planetarium would be! With the stars moving above your head slowly and changing perspective.) We then found the hiking trail and followed what we thought was the correct path, it turned out to be a pain in the ass. Literally.

12LA13LATo break it down: We saw stunning views, we walked around the hills, we found a water tower and the path ended… We tried to make our own way over but I ended up sliding down the hill, brusing my butt and grazing my armpit (of all places). So we went back on ourselves with me feeling a little shaken up that I could have slid all the down the really steep hill… we were really hungry so gave up, found the sign pointing to the sign but decided to try and get to a road. Google maps pointed out a road that was close by… But our path ended next to the road with steep slopes on either side, ‘No trespassing’ to the left, and then steep, sandy, dusty, grassy slope to the other side. We opted for steep and dusty not wanting to get shot… and so ensued twenty minutes of sliding down this hill on my bottom, ripping my tights, getting sand and seeds from the grass in my underwear and shoes. Uncomfy. If you go for a hike to the Hollywood sign – learn from our mistakes, plan it and don’t wear tights. Looking back it was hilarious, at the time having seeds in my underwear and a grazed armpit was just uncomfortable.

15LAAs we were starving we decided to find an In’N’Out burger as we’ve heard good things and wanted to see for ourselves, the verdict: good burger! Animal style fries aren’t too great though. Luckily I had packed leggings and other shoes in Mikee’s bag so I got changed out of my ripped, sandy, seedy tights and we were off on our way again. We were meeting our Coachella buddies for a night out so decided to walk to the place we were meeting. It took us an hour and a half to walk there while coming to the revelation that dates come from palm trees. Stupidly because we’d been to the date garden in palm springs and I clearly didn’t learn anything there other than date milkshake is yummy.

We met Sarah and Kyle in Beer Belly which had been recommended by their airbnb host. I had wine and the others had beer which sounded pretty delicious. Me and Mikee ordered mac and cheese which was very tasty but so rich I could only eat a quarter of it – lucky Mikee. We then decided to try to go out, stopping at their apartment before trying to find somewhere on the Sunset Strip… We found a funny little bar where people were doing karaoke and then discovered that everywhere in LA closes at 2am. Literally no where stays open later than that even at the weekends. All of us a little disappointed, agreed to meet on Friday and start earlier to make the most of the 2am curfew.

16LADAY FOURTEEN: SANTA MONICA EXPLORING AND CYCLING TO VENICE BEACH

Same old same old breakfast

Lunch picnic on the beach

For dinner  we Pad Thai and Pad Crystal from Bangkok West Thai with delicious wine

Today we decided to explore the area in which we were staying and discovered Santa Monica is lovely! We really wanted to hire bikes and cycle down to the beach so this became our plan. We wandered 3rd Street promenade, looking in the lovely shops, marvelling at the dinosaur jasmine water fountains… I found Madewell, spotted my new backpack and we then went to get some bikes and cycled down to Venice.

19LAOnce we hit the pier we hired cruisers from Sea Mist rentals and went on our way. It took about thirty mins of cycling to get to Venice. Very quick. Quicker than I was expecting, but we decided to chill out on the beach and eat lunch while some lady had her photos taken wearing a bikini right next to our spot. Mikee decided to dig a hole in the sand and made it about three feet deep which is a pretty deep hole… I wanted to do something with all the wet sand. So I decided to write ‘I love you’ in the sand and take a polaroid of it – getting creative. We cycled back, stopping briefly to look at the shops in Venice which were mostly full of tourist tat and devices you could use to get off your face. So we just cycled back and dropped off our bikes. We were a little hungry so decided to go get some dinner, Mikee found a thai place online and so we were off on our way.

20LA 21LA 22LA 23LA25LA 25LAa 26LA 27LA29LA 30LA 31LAOddly we bumped into our camping neighbours on our way – four british girls (I wander if I’ll ever see them here in London?!) and then stopped in a British Pub because Mikee was curious… It was stuck in a time warp for sure. Once we reached the thai place I felt severely inappropriately dressed because it was quite fancy and I was wearing a hoodie with a backpack that I’ve had since I was 13. They let us eat there though and the food was really rather good.

Once we got back Jamie was sitting in the living room and we hadn’t really seen her since we arrived so we had a nice conversation with her. She works on films and tv and her last job was on Marco Polo on Netflix which was pretty cool. She told us she had had an interview with Paramount and was waiting to hear back. We talked about the local area and she told us the pacific coast highway is really nice. We told her we couldn’t drive and she said that she’d be free the next day and offered to drive us along which was incredibly sweet of her. So we went to sleep dreaming about road trips.

33LA35LADAY FIFTEEN: SANTA BARBARA, DRINKS AND PIZZA DANCES

Chai lattes and cinnamon rolls from Starbucks as road trip snacks

Wine from Oreana in Santa Barbara followed by pizza from the Lucky Penny

Drinks from The Independence and more shenanigans at The Craftsman

More pizza from Joe’s Pizza

This day was one of the best days. We woke up fairly early and we ready to go out with Jamie for the day. She took us in her little car along the PCH and showed us a couple of beaches in Malibu. She took us to Point Dume, which had a stunning view of the coastline back to Santa Monica and Venice, where we also saw a very skinny, tired looking seal…Mikee tried to be a hero and call the animal rescue people but it swam off as we decided to leave.

37LA38LA40LA41LAShe also took us to Matador Beach which had massive rocks coming out of the sand. We explored and found some funny looking blue jellyfish along the beach and then went back to the car. We then continued up until we got to Santa Barbara. The drive was very pretty indeed.

42LA 43LA 44LA 45LA 46LAAs soon as we got out of the car in Santa Barbara, Jamie got a call telling her she’d been offered the job at paramount so we decided to go and find a wine bar (not hard) and celebrate! We ended up at Oreana Winebar and got a rose… which was delicious again. Going to say I like proper Californian wine. In the toilet they had a chart explaining all the different types of wine you can get and the different grapes etc, it looked like a periodic table. We then went to get some food from a little place called Lucky Penny, which was actually covered in coins. Some pretty delicious pizza made its way into our mouths and we sat next to a very opinionated but nice old man who reminded me of my grandad. He had a little dog under the table which helped. We chatted with him and then set off on our way back. Santa Barbara was lovely, and given the opportunity I would go back. I really need to learn how to drive.47LA49LA 50LA 51LA 52LA54LAWhen we got back to Santa Monica we went to meet Sarah and Kyle again at a bar called the Independence which we’d found the day before. We sat at the bar and ordered cocktails, and the mixologist behind the bar was very skilled and fun to chat to. The cocktails were all great, with very versatile flavours. All of them seemed to be both sweet and savoury. My favourite one was the Campanula Sour which had a ring of red bell pepper in it.

56LAAfter a few hours we went to another bar that was playing very loud dance music. I was quite merry by that point and couldn’t finish the drink I bought from there. It was a nice bar but way too loud so we decided to go somewhere else. We wandered to a place that was more low-fi with a local rock band playing and took some funny photos in their fake Photo Booth.

Once we left we decided to find food (again) and we found pizza. Delicious delicious pizza. It was massive and cheap and great. We ordered a whole one and walked down to near the beach to consume it. Mikee wanted more pizza than he got, and he danced around (with Kyle) like a champ trying to persuade us to get more pizza because he loved it so much. I haven’t laughed so much in ages.

We said our goodbyes to them afterwards, glad to have met these lovely people and a little sad it might be a while before we haphazardly come across them again. Hooray for Facebook.

57LA 58LADAY SIXTEEN: 3RD STREET PROMENADE, SLEEPING AND LATE NIGHT BEACH VISITS

Delicious delicious breakfast from Huckleberry

Lunch gelato from Cafe Bellagio and delicious pressed juice from Wholefoods

We attempted dinner from Rustic Canyon but succeeded in epic proportions at El Cholo

This day we decided to treat ourselves to a nice breakfast and go to a place which had a massive queue. Usually we wouldn’t queue for food no matter how much we love it but this place looked really nice. They had a sign on the wall which said ‘Every woman should own a blow torch’ which I agree with and would now like to find one – any recommendations?

60LA
The breakfast we had was really great, I had a fried egg and bacon sandwich which came with a garden, and Mikee had a Croque Madame which was pretty darn tasty – need to make this at home. We walked to 3rd Street promenade and looked in the shops before heading back into Madewell where I deliberated buying the backpack and a purse. I decided to treat myself and got both. Tempted by everything else in the shop too, please please please can they open up a store over here? All of the clothes are beautiful and I could waste a lot of money in there. When I went to pay I looked at my purse at the time and realised that I did desperately need to do this – it was falling apart and looking very sorry for itself. We got some ice cream and realised we were pretty tired after our fun night out so went back to the apartment and had a nap.

61LA62LAOur nap lasted until 9pm… We wanted to go and get some dinner for our last night in Santa Monica and so went to a restaurant called Rustic Canyon which looked lovely but all the prices were very expensive and we couldn’t see anything we’d want to eat on the menu. So we had some wine and then promptly made our way to a fun looking Mexican place down the road. We ordered two platters and stuffed ourselves, unable to finish the food. So so happy we’d ended up there. I love chimmichangas. A night time stroll on the beach followed before heading back to get a good nights sleep before setting off the following day.

65LADAY SEVENTEEN: AMAZING SUSHI AND SO LONG AMERICA

Brunch was Sushi from Sugarfish Sushi bar – soon good.

We grabbed vegan donuts plus awesome juice from Wholefoods.

Dinner was questionable on the plane.

Our last day, we had some time to kill before going to catch our plane at 7pm. We woke up a little late, got ready, packed up and decided to go get some sushi for brunch. We had been in California for over two weeks and not had any Californian sushi, so today was our day. We read about Sugarfish and decided to give it a go and wow, the quality was out of this world and we would definitely recommend going there.

66LA
We went back to the beach as the sun had come out – for most of the trip it had been a bit cloudy so we weren’t going to give up the chance to go and sit in the sun on a sandy beach because it’s going to be a while. Mikee skimmed stones, we people watched and relaxed, feeling disappointed to be leaving – the time had gone in a blur.

We picked up some snacks on the way back, and got some flowers for Jaimie, and ordered our Uber for 3:30pm – the guy couldn’t find us because the app wasn’t working properly and he got a little grumpy with us so the drive to the airport was slightly awkward. Probably the only bad Uber experience of the trip. We went through airport security and timed it pretty well, getting there in good time to not have to wait too long but early enough to be on time.

69LA71LA 70LA73LAHOW WE GOT BACK:

Red Eye flight from LA to Gatwick Airport flying on Norwegian Airlines.

Trains from Gatwick to East Croydon, New Cross Gate and then Surrey Quays.

The flight was long, the take off out of LAX was beautiful. You flight right over Santa Monica and Venice out to sea and then turn back around. We were flying as the sun set and I watched the mountains cast shadows over each other as we flew home. We didn’t have any seats infront of us which was ideal as being a tall person it’s awesome to stretch out when you’re still for so many hours on small seats. It was cold and grey in London, so as soon as we got home we we went to bed, happy to be back in our own little flat.

74LAIt’s taken me forever to post this, mostly because I don’t want to think of the trip as over I guess, plus being busy on epic proportions. I find California a really stunning and inspiring place and I have just fallen in love with it when I’ve been. The nature, the friendly people, the warm weather, the span of ocean that compared to the English Channel seems so incredibly vast – there is no France on the other side, just 5000 miles of ocean till you hit Japan… I really loved that although a lot of people live there and that you have these massive cities, the nature around still feels quite wild, uncontrollable and rugid. There is no doubt in my mind as to if I’ll ever go back, but for now it is nice being home. Time to start planning again though, the travel bug has bitten hard.

24 // Where Do We Start?

Eek it appears we’ve reached our first trial after having managed to buy and get settled in our new place. How the hell do we decorate it?! We’ve managed to make everything white so far, which I’m down with but I have high hopes for what we can do. I’ve been pinning interior ideas for the past year or so and now I have so much stuff I don’t know where we should start. I really wanted to be an interior designer before I found out about graphic design so it feels like something close to my heart to play around with and get right.

We have a fairly bright and roomy flat for London, and actually have a skinny balcony for our outside space which is fun because Mikee and I love the plants. We have three massive cupboards in our hallway which we’d like to ideally turn into an extra room if we’re allowed because it would be wonderful to have a work/guest/puppy room. I really want white oak floors going seamlessly throughout (totally in love with that kinda flooring) we have great floors in our living room and bedroom but it’s getting a bit tired in the kitchen, hallway, cupboards and bathroom. These seem like the only thing we feel certain about at the moment. So I went through all of my inspiration last week during a quiet moment and made some moodboards for each space…


 

WORKSPACE
I’ve been without a desk or my own workspace since I left the house I lived in while at Uni. I’ve been doing freelance work from the sofa, the bed, the coffee table, the dining table in our old flat and the floor. It’s really not ideal. So this is one of the things I’ve been most excited about. But I’ve also been feeling fairly stumped when it comes to this. Ideally if we can get the extra room we’d set something up in there but for now we’ll have to use a section of the living room – and when I thought about all the things I’d really like there (space for paperwork, art materials, cutting/messy space, computer, graphics tablet, film scanner, printer and business bits) I’m scared it’s too much. So this one I want to get right where ever it may end up – something bright, light, inspiring, organised and colourful.Decor-06


 

LIVING ROOM
Our living room is great, it’s a fairly big rectangular room with big double windows and wood floors. We already got ourselves a light grey sofa when we moved in so we had somewhere to sit and it would compliment whatever came in with it. I love the idea of having a gallery wall with lots of shelving and cosy pillows, lots of books, that camera wall, and trinkets, plants and a sausage dog… Decor-05


 

BEDROOM
Our bedroom is the room I’m happiest with at the moment. The bed is to die for having got the most beautiful reclaimed wood bed frame from Old & New in Camden. It’s got the right kinda feeling already. I love the idea of having a giant map on the wall behind the bed with shelving for bits and pieces that we might need – I have a really old Reader’s Digest Atlas from my grandad and I think it would be really nice to blow one of the maps in there up to cover the wall as the colours are perfect. Decor-04


 

KITCHEN
The kitchen is also throwing me a bit! We have a good amount of space but at the moment it’s not utilised very well. Somehow we only seem to have tiny cupboards and one drawer?! So my main inspiration for this room has come from looking at improving our storage in there. I really love the idea of having open shelving at the top as well as having secret storage in the nooks and crannies you tend to get between appliances and the floor. Also – how cute are the Llama shakers?!Decor-03


 

FRONT DOOR AND HALLWAY
Our front door is good but doesn’t feel like the most secure thing so we’re thinking about getting a new front door. I was so inspired by all the things we saw in California and now really want a brightly coloured front door with retro numbers and a postbox. In the hallway it would be great to use the space you never think of using like the image in the corner. Decor-02


 

BATHROOM
This is probably the one I’m most excited about when we can finally get around to it. I love love love the white penny sized tiles with dark grouting. The plants – did you know you can get air plants?! Really functional storage across the empty wall as well as silly things like a dinosaur loo roll holder. Decor-01


 

BALCONY
We don’t have that much space on the balcony, but we felt it would be great to put some decking down on the floor. Create a herb crate as well as having plants on the railings and possibly having a climbing plant to loop around over the top of it. We already bought a Jasmine plant so I think that may be the one for the job. Also after being in California I’m not obsessed with cacti. Decor-07Does anyone have any tips for this process? We don’t really know what we’re in for at the moment apart from looking at pretty pictures of things people have done before that we’d like to emulate.

23 // THE HOT HOT HEAT OF THE DESERT

PalmSprings&CoachellaThe next leg of our journey was to head from San Francisco (read the previous post here) down to Palm Springs where we had a night booked at the Ace Hotel. We would meet our Canadian Coachella camping buddies (who we found through Reddit, hooray for the powers of the internet) the following day and go and set up our camp at the festival.

HOW WE GOT THERE:

We flew with Alaska Airlines from San Francisco Airport to Palm Springs Municipal Airport.

It was a little tricky finding the right place to check in in SFO but a helpful member of staff ensured we found the right place. The gate was pretty easy to find afterward and the flight was about an hour to get to Palm Springs.


COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL:

I thought it might be helpful to do a brief section on this. I’ve been twice now, the first time was in 2011 with my gig buddy and University comrade Christina Marie Jager and this being the second time. Both were very unique experiences but also great.

In 2011 Christina and I got our tickets in January on a spur of the moment decision. It seemed quite easy then, this was when there was only one weekend. We didn’t manage to get camping tickets on time but found a lovely couple through Facebook to camp with.

This time I bought the tickets in the pre-sale, which took me about two hours of waiting at my computer after work. I went for weekend two having heard that the kinks from weekend one would have been refined. Also knowing it would probably be hotter. We bought car camping tickets at the same time as our weekend passes and found another lovely couple on the Reddit Coachella forum to camp with in exchange for a ride.

The first time I went we didn’t even think about jet-lag and spent most of it feeling pretty tired. This time we prepped by going to San Francisco first and were on the right body clock by the time we got there. I’d give it five days to get used to the time difference.

The tickets I think are around $375 (£245), while car camping is $85 (£55).

Coachella in comparison to Bonnaroo: In my opinion Coachella is nicer, it’s the one to go for… The people are friendly, it’s clean, the grass is easy to walk on without having hay jab your feet, the showers were free and the stages are easier to figure out…

If you’re planning on going be prepared to drink a lot of water, and don’t forget a canopy and sun screen. I can go into more detail if someone wants me to – just let me know.


HOW WE GOT AROUND:

Taxi – From the airport to the Ace Hotel. It cost approximately $15

Cruisers – From the Ace Hotel to the local Ralphs for free.

The Coachella Mobile – A lovely car hired by our lovely Canadian camper buddies. We exchanged our ride for the pleasure of camping with us. We met our camping buddies through Reddit.


WHERE WE STAYED:

THE ACE HOTEL

I read Designlovefest and I had seen that the Ace Hotel was one of the places that was highly recommended from the numerous trips to Palm Springs that had been taken. This was the one night we would be spending in Palm Springs before camping for four nights and then going onto another AirBnB, so we figured we’d splurge a bit and make sure we could relax and feel genuinely clean just one last time before being constantly covered in a layer of sweat and dust. It was a beautiful hotel, very hip. The staff were super friendly and we stayed in a room with a patio. The bed was huuuuuuge. The shower had good pressure and the toiletries that were provided were beautiful. I loved the little details in the rooms and communal facilities were awesome. The pool, the bar, the food, the bikes. I’ll go into more detail but I certainly would recommend the hotel if you wanted to stay. We booked through booking.com.

11COACHELLA CAR CAMPING

Coachella car camping (pre-sale tickets for 2016 go on sale tomorrow) is not for the weak minded. Though if you ask me, I’d rather be there than stuck in a muddy rainy British festival campsite. It cost $85 for the ticket on top of our Coachella tickets. The whole concept is you get to camp next to your car. The last time I went Christina and I hired a car and camped with some people who had bought the car camping ticket. This time, although neither of us can drive we bought the car camping ticket and met up with some lovely folks who offered us a ride to and from the festival in exchange for camping with us.

The camping space is pretty large, it’s certainly big enough for four if a bit of a squash. I would personally recommend getting two small two man tents, keeping your possessions in the car, nice and safe :). You will also need a canopy to provide shade. Don’t even consider camping without a canopy. It will make you feel so happy when it’s 1pm and you’re melting into less of a sweaty mess in the heat than the poor souls who went without. It’s certainly worth doing once if you’re going to go to Coachella, but I think if we go again, it would be worth staying in a house close by and getting the shuttle buses in. Just so you don’t have to get sunburned waiting to have a wash in a rather dirty shower, or have to go and relieve yourself in a hot porta-potty. Though kudos to the organisers for ensuring the toilets were cleaned very frequently, I think I only had a couple of unpleasant experiences for the four days we were there.22

DAY SIX: SAN FRANCISCO TO PALM SPRINGS AND THE ACE HOTEL

Breakfast was food at our Airbnb in San Francisco.

Lunch was chocolate cake at the airport plus a funny little snack on the plane.

Dinner were tacos from the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs

We flew with Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to Palm Springs Municipal Airport, after grabbing a snack of chocolate cake quickly before boarding. We sat next to a lovely gentleman, I think his name was Victor, and he spoke to us for most of the journey there. He was very interested in cars, told us about his grandsons, and told us that he’d been in a car accident which could have killed him a few months earlier – which was sad to hear. He was on his way to Palm Springs to spend time at his house and relax in order to recover some more from his injuries. Turns out he was half Filipino so Mikee chatted to him quite a bit about the delicious food that comes from there.

Once we landed, surprisingly smoothing (last time I thought I was going to die) we exited the plane into the wonderful warm heat of Palm Springs. We walked through Palm Springs airport which is beautiful. My favourite thing about it is that it’s mostly outside with white canopies for shade and grass to sit on.

We collected our luggage and then caught a taxi to the Ace Hotel. I was wearing leggings and couldn’t wait to take them off. Hello warm weather!! The journey probably took about ten mins from the airport to the hotel.

2 3 4We made our way to the lobby and checked in with the very friendly girl who was behind reception. After making our way to our room, we looked around in awe and got changed into warm weather appropriate clothes (hello shorts) and then decided to hire some bikes and go and get some snacks for the evening as well as some cash for Coachella and find batteries for cameras and camping things. The bikes are free to hire from the hotel and we only needed to cycle up one or two blocks to get to the place where our dreams would be answered… The roads were super big, flat and straight, they were a bit scarier than the roads in San Francisco but still not as terrifying as London. Plus I really want a cruiser now, they’re so much fun to ride.

5When we got back to the Ace Hotel, we dropped off the bikes and noticed a van outside with musical equipment being moved to and fro. Being musically motivated people I was curious but couldn’t quite tell what was going on. When we walked past to go back in we realised it was Best Coast who were checking in. I’ve designed a t-shirt for them for Yellow Bird Project and I love their music but I couldn’t muster up the confidence to go and chat to them despite Mikee’s best efforts to get me to. Still too shy for that kind of situation, plus I didn’t think they’d appreciate me going ‘OH HAAAI, I know you but not ‘cause you’re famous lolz’ *awkward smile*. Any who we went back in and decided to go and chill by the pool for the evening as the hotel had an acoustic night going on. We ordered some tacos and some drinks which were very tasty indeed. All the food looked delicious, but eventually we went back to our room to finish our wine in our patio and nom on some of the food we’d brought back with us from Ralphs.

It was late but we got pretty tempted by the pool and decided to go have a little swim under the stars. There was a hot pool and a regular temperature pool and we alternated between both until about 2am which was fun :). We didn’t have to get up especially early as our Coachella buddies weren’t going to arrive until later on the following day.

76DAY SEVEN: ACE HOTEL CHILLIN’ & LATE NIGHT COACHELLA ARRIVALS

Breakfast and lunch we got from the Ace Hotel, trying out the Amigo Room again and then the Kings Highway Diner.

Dinner was a rather late night burger very kindly cooked for us by our camping buddies family friend.

This day turned out longer than anyone anticipated. We woke up and I’d been feeling a little bit of a cold coming on for the last few days so I wanted to blast it with whatever I could. We decided to go and use the steam room and sauna quickly before having some breakfast and checking out of our room. The steam room was soooooo steamy! I couldn’t see a foot infront of my own face and I luckily didn’t sit on anyones lap when we managed to find the seat in there. Both of them were pretty good but you can not beat a proper Finnish Sauna. Once we’d showered and dressed we grabbed some food. Thinking off my cold I decided to get a smoothie, and avocado toast which was very delicious, I want to eat it all the time now. Mikee got the scrambled egg sandwich which he also highly approved off.

8 9We checked out of our room at midday and left our luggage at the front desk expecting to wait about four hours before we met our camping buddies. We sat by the pool and swam a few times, running out of sunscreen pretty quickly and having to fork out some dollah on their lovely but expensive sun bum products. I was wearing 50spf and I didn’t get burned thank goodness. We had some lunch in the Kings Highway Diner, I had a delicious grilled cheese with tomato soup and fries which was well worth it, alongside a pot of tea and almond milk. Mikee had a moroccan scramble which he wasn’t too impressed with… You’re safe if you get the grilled cheese.

While we had been waiting we’d heard from our camping buddies that their flight from Canada had had some problems. Christina had warned me before how much the Air Canada sucks so it wasn’t that surprising to hear that they were delayed and we’d have to wait longer, which for us wasn’t a problem at all because we were basically sitting by the pool all day. It was about 8:30 in the evening by the time we managed to finally meet them, after their delayed flights and getting stuck in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. We were really grateful to see them and soon realised we would be pitching our tents in the dark. Good job I’d had some experience in that at Bestival last year and we’d come prepared.

10 12 13We stopped off at the local Ralphs again to pick up some extra supplies – bagels, fruit, fillings etc and then made our way to pick up the final pieces of the camping puzzle from their lovely family friend. When we arrived he very kindly made us some burgers as we hadn’t eaten since lunch, and we made the best use of the last real clean toilet we’d see in a good few days. We were only around the corner from the Coachella festival grounds and could see the lights dancing in the sky. We were getting super excited on the way. Once we managed to join the queue to get in it was midnight; we ended up waiting around an hour to get through security checks and to our camp space. As soon as we reached the camping spot it was all hands on deck, getting the canopy up, the tents up, the mattresses pumped and the area somewhat organised before finding somewhere to wash faces, brush teeth and finally crash for the night in our temporary home.

DAYS EIGHT, NINE AND TEN: COACHELLLLAAAAAAAA – SUN, SWEAT AND SACRED MUSIC

I could write a lot about Coachella, it’s been my favourite festival experience out of all of the ones I’ve been to and I fell in love the first time I went. It was still just as good this time, so I think I’m just going to run through the pros and cons and the memorable bits.

23BEST FOOD

Camp ground bagels, spicy spicy pie, crab fries!!! Ice cream and water water water… Mikee also enjoyed the paella.

CONS:

  • Waking up at 8am because the tent became a furnace.
  • Shower queues and gross cubicles
  • Portaloos
  • Some expensive food that wasn’t very good
  • Melting in the  midday heat

PROS:

  • The sunsets over the mountains are some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world
  • The weather (despite melting)
  • Kasabian
  • Jungle
  • ACDC
  • Glass Animals
  • Brand New
  • Jenny Lewis
  • Conor Oberst
  • St Vincent
  • Jack White compelling us to remember the reason we were all there: the music is sacred and it needs to be looked after – I loved this
  • Agua Frescas
  • Home made ice lollies
  • The Ferris Wheel
  • The butterfly and caterpillar
  • David Gelatto (Guetta) lights
  • The giant monkey swing
  • The Corporate HQ
  • Camping Neighbours
  • Chips Ahoy cookies
  • Afternoon naps
  • Hair drying in the heat within 30mins
  • Coachella balloons
  • Strange real toilets in the middle of the festival
  • Shade
  • Water
  • Shower queue friends
  • Spicy pie (my love)
  • Crab fries (oh my god they were delicious)
  • Getting to know our Canadian Camping Buddies
  • I love Coachella. I will deffo try to go again one day but I might not camp next time hah. You have to do it once though.

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34DAY ELEVEN: SAYONARA COACHELLA, HUMMINGBIRDS, WIND TURBINES AND ENTERING LOS ANGELES

Breakfast was bacon and eggs very kindly made by our Canadians family friend

Lunch was a date shake from the world famous Shields Date Garden

The night before we left me and Mikee decided to skip Drake (he’s just not our thing) to organise our suitcases etc ready for LA and see if there was anything we could do to break down the camp a little before the morning.

We had one last night asleep in our little orange tent and in the morning we donated it and our air mattress to the donations centre to lighten our luggage. We packed up the car and went on our way.

We dropped off the borrowed tarps, chairs and canopy back at our camping buddies family friend. He was so lovely and made us some breakfast as well as showing us the baby hummingbirds in the nest in his garden. Once we felt a little more human we decided to set off on our way to LA. Stopping at the world famous Shields Date Garden to try out the date milkshakes and look at the strange merchandise they had in their shop. The milkshake was surprisingly delicious and filling and kept me amused for part of the drive to LA.

35We got caught in some Coachella traffic out of Palm Springs and drove past the wind farm Christina and I accidentally came across last time. It went on for miles and miles and it was amazing to see the turbines again. It is really one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen. The rest of the drive was actually really nice, especially when we got to drive through the hilly regions. It was clear once we hit LA; there were so many cars, so many roads and it went on forever. One thing that grew quite clear when we got there was getting around without a car would be a hurdle…

36Exploring Los Angeles I’ll cover in the next post!

22 // Good Enough To Eat

GoodEnoughToEat-01Two posts in one week, I am on a roll aren’t I. I’ve also added some new and old projects in design and in photography. Go me, keeping up website appearances.

Remember when I posted a while back about being on a mission to get a happy healthy body because mine isn’t? Well I’ve been good and started making that a priority recently. With it being Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day I thought today might be a good day to talk about my attempts at making healthier choices when it comes to what I shove in my face. My approach to this has come from a few different places, with what I want to make better and I believe a lot of these things can be changed from within.

GoodEnoughToEat-02Motivating problem number one: My skin. It has alwaaaays been an issue since I was a teenager. As soon as I was in secondary school I had pretty bad acne, not the worst but definitely enough to make me want to pull my hair out and photoshop all my photos, it’s how I learned a vital skill that I use today in my career so there’s a positive. I visited a GP after a couple of years, probably when I was about 13 or 14 and he basically told me to wash my face more, I will never forget that. I didn’t go back to another GP about it till I was in my early twenties and they were shocked to hear I was given that advice and that I’d dealt with it for so long. Having bad skin is something that makes me feel down and knocks my confidence when it is going through a rough patch… It’s certainly better as I’ve gotten older but it’s not gone. I was put on antibiotics and my skin cleared up a bit but not extremely well, and it’s only really treating the problem and not the real cause, which is different for everyone who has it. I’m over the halfway point of my twenties and I’ve been dealing with this for over half of my life now. I feel it’s a bit ridiculous, I’m fed up and diet I feel is half of the battle.

Motivating problem number two: I keep getting ill. My immune system needs rebooting and building up.

Motivating problem number three: I did a body mass index scanner at work back in December when we had a gym visiting for a week to try and get people to sign up. The results weren’t especially good, thank you desk job and pizza. I’m a fairly average body type, but I have more fat than muscle, which on this scanner translated to being ‘metabolically obese’ around the tummy area and upper body. I think the media term is skinny fat, and I recently learned it can put you at risk of getting diabetes. Fun! Definitely time to sort this out.

So I did my research, mainly looking into skin. Turns out what you put in your body has been found to make a big impact on what shows up on your face. But chocolate (dark chocolate) is safe. The main culprits are dairy, which I eat a lot of but I’m fairly certain I’m allergic to it anyway… Sugar, which I’m addicted to… and foods that have a high glycemic load that spike your blood sugars. There are also some trigger ingredients which don’t help matters. There seems to have been a fair amount of scientific research done into this so it seemed like it might be worth experimenting cutting out dairy and refined sugar from my diet, and putting low GI foods on my plate. This kinda leaves me with good grains, fruits, vegetables, tofu, meat and fish – also trying to avoid the strange additives that get put in food, where I’m asking what the hell it is. I want to make sure the food I put in my body is actually good enough to eat. So I started this experiment with myself just over a week ago and I feel it will impact on the other two problem areas as well – with some other work of course.

The hardest thing has been sugar, and cheese. I’ve tried culling sugar from my diet before because I know it’s a problem, but always failed. Day two or three I feel tired and I just want a cup of tea with one sugar and some milk and I give in. This time pretty much every day since I started I’ve thought about cake. I don’t even eat cake that often and I kept thinking about that and chocolate. Today was the first day I’ve not thought about it. With cheese I’ve been wanting to add it to the food I’ve been making, because who doesn’t love cheese? I’ve stuck to my guns though and made it through to day 9 now. Apparently it takes 10 days for sugar to leave your system to get off the habit, so nearly there. But for results to show on your face it apparently takes a few weeks – so here’s my attempt to hold out. I can say, I already feel a bit lighter in everything for it.

GoodEnoughToEat-03
One of the reasons I’m bringing this up is because I’ve had to do a boat load of research and spend a lot of time getting here, and honestly I feel it should be easier for people to learn this information. It seems a lot of things come about from your diet, and the values in food seem to be put on producing it cheaply and of course making food that you can sell more of (hello sugar in everything). I totally understand this but surely the bigger importance for big companies that control all food output should be making sure that their produce is healthy and nutritious. Governments should fund more nutritional research and make its advice more available, simplified and easy to understand without it being corrupted. Which is why I agree that the food revolution thing is important, if you’re going to start somewhere, start with the people who will change the future right, those little people in schools right (sign the petition here by the way). I’ve spent months looking at this stuff, I’m certainly no expert and trying to find my way through the hoards of crap out there. It should just be easier to learn about this.

I’ve compiled a few of my favourite recipes from the last week and a bit that don’t use dairy or sugar if you’re interested in seeing what happens too.

EGG & AVOCADO TOAST If you mush up the avocado with lemon, salt and pepper it’s awesome. I especially like poached or scrambled egg on top, with sriracha drizzled over (though that has sugar in so avoiding at the moment).

Egg-and-Avocado-Toast-1

SPICED GRILLED FISH WITH AVOCADO SALSA (Loving the avocado) We had this with cod instead of salmon which was delicious, on top of basmati rice. Basmati is on the lower end of the middle GI spectrum.

Fish-with-avocado-salsa

MUSHROOM COCONUT SOUP We made ours with baby chestnut mushrooms, onions, garlic, vegetable stock and coconut milk, and a little bit of cornflour to thicken. Dark brown bread and tastiness in a bowl is yours to conquer.

mushroomsoup-8-of-10n-600x400MUSHROOMS WITH PEARL BARLEY (Also loving the mushrooms) The pearl barley gives a lot of bite while the mushrooms add a lot of yum.

Creamy-Barley-Risotto-with-Garlic-Mushrooms-and-Spinach

I’ll see where I get with this experiment and update with how it goes. I may also go into the issue of skin problems a bit more so anyone who is interested might be able to see where I’ve found some of the interesting things, as food was only one aspect of a solution to observe. Happy food revolution day everyone!

21 // San Francisco, you stole the show

1Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a long one! Mikee and I got back from our trip just last week after attempting to get around California without being able to drive.

ARE YOU CRAZY?! I can hear you saying from the other side of the screen… The answer is yes, frankly we are, but we did pretty darn well!

Our first stop was San Francisco for 5 days. Out of the three places we visited it was the easiest of places to get around as a pedestrian and using public transport. Although it’s considerably small for a city, it still felt pretty vast and full of all the wonderful things that life has to offer, with each area offering very different things. I could probably write an awful lot about our stay but I’ll try and keep it simple with a breakdown of things we did and things someone else might find useful.

HOW WE GOT THERE:

Our flights were booked via Norwegian airlines, direct to LA from Gatwick on one of their new Dreamliners, it was a pretty cool plane with bigger windows which had dimming buttons on. The flights were around £500 each.

We got a connecting flight up to San Francisco, with a four hour stop over as I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get through passport control, customs, baggage collection and then checking in again. FYI It turns out we only really needed two hours.

We then got a Delta airlines flight to San Fran which ended up being a little late with a bit on confusion as to which gate we were leaving from. They had an awesome plane snack for the 50min flight of fresh veg and hummus which was very welcome after the other plane.


HOW WE GOT AROUND:

WALKING – So so so much walking… Up, down and all around.

MUNI – only $2.25 a ride, or you can get a week pass for $35. They run around every twenty mins and the routes were pretty easy to figure out. We just ended up paying for singles the entire time as we did a lot of using our legs.

BIKES! – Much fun, many hills. If you’re a cyclist and you live there, you have that firm bum achievement unlocked! It was around $30 each for a 24 hour period from Bike Rental San Francisco, it was cheaper than some of the other touristy bike rental places and we didn’t have those cheesy logo packs on our bikes… I imagine you can get it for cheaper if you hire a bicycle for a longer time.

BART – Simpson? We only got it on two occasions but it seemed pretty efficient and cheap. The cost was calculated on where you’re going from and to, to get from close to Fishermans Wharf to San Francisco Airport it was around $10.

TAXI – Only used this once, after our long assed flight and we couldn’t be bothered to deal with thinking, I think it was around $40 for a half an hour ride?

FERRY – We caught the ferry twice, once to get back to San Francisco from Sausalito, I believe there are two that serve the route but we got the Golden Gate Ferry. Tickets were mid price range and we could take the bikes on board. The second time was to get to Alcatraz and back.

One thing we didn’t get was the old school trams, but if you’re interested I think a single ticket is around $6.

Our other airbnb travellers also recommended Lyft but we didn’t have US numbers so we couldn’t get it working on our phones.


PARKER AVENUE AIRBNB

We stayed at a really fantastic airbnb. The wonderful hosts Amy and Michael own the whole property and live on the third floor of the house, while renting out the rooms on the second floor and ground level rooms to airbnb travellers. This was actually really lovely, as we got to meet some new, interesting, friendly and excited folks while we were there – getting tips and info from them while getting to have lovely conversations with new people. Amy came down to chat to us a few times, also giving us some wonderful suggestions for places to go. The place was toward the the middle of San Francisco in Laurel Heights so we found it really useful for getting around to all the places we wanted to see. If anyone is headed to San Francisco and is looking for a place to stay I would really big up staying here as we couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have found such a great place!

23DAY ONE: GOLDEN GATE PARK, OCEAN BEACH, SUTRO BATHS AND LANDS END

Breakfast and lunch were our own concoctions from Trader Joe’s

Dinner was a burger and fries from Buzz Burgers

This was our first day and we walked just under ten miles. My back was killing by the end of the day but it was so worth it.

We walked through the entire park up to Ocean Beach, stopping at the Conservatory of Flowers ( absolutely beautiful and the entry fee is so cheap in comparison to Kew Gardens in London we had to do it), Stow Lake (we rented a pedal boat and had lunch on the lake – we saw some interesting birds – including humming birds, lots and lots of turtles, a dog wearing a balaclava with ear shapes and two heron nests in a tree), we walked through the academy of sciences garden but didn’t go in. The park is massive and stunning – it took us about three or four hours to walk through.

456789101112Once we reached the beach we did what all people should do when they’ve been subjected to a pebble beach all their lives and took of our shoes and rejoiced at the sight of flat sand. The sand was a beautiful sight to behold, as was the Pacific ocean and the view of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to our right and the rest of San Francisco to our left. I wish we had have had the chance to go back before we left to watch the sunrise or something but sleep was more important.

15 14 13We walked from the beach to the Sutro Bath ruins in about ten minutes. Explored the incredible area, it’s hard to think it was once a rather majestic looking public bathhouse, but the ruins are beautiful and the cave next to them really helped to show how crazy the sea is around there, being able to hear it smash into the rocks that surround you and then watch the tides crash at the end of the cave.

16171819After we wandered around here, we walked up to the USS San Francisco memorial which is surrounded by actual parts of the damaged ship. From here we went on a hike up to a point where we could finally see the bridge, and a very pretty bridge it is. Then tired and achey we walked all the way up to the Legion of Honour, then home after our burgers and perfect garlic fries. Passing out happily.

2023 22 2124DAY TWO: FISHERMANS WHARF

Breakfast was our Trader Joe’s concoction at our airbnb

Lunch was Señor Sisig – brilliant massive Fillipino fusion burritos

Ice cream was had from Humphrey Slocombe

We had lots of wine and Sangria at Wines of California Wine Bar on Pier 39

Finally dinner was at Boudin Bakery for fishy soupy bread bowls

We didn’t have anything booked to do today, and our host recommended we find Señor Sisig, a Fillipino food truck that sells massive burritos, so food became our agenda. Señor Sisig was based near Fishermans Wharf that day so we wandered around there after failing to get pastries from Mr Holmes’ Bakehouse. It’s probably a good thing because I wanted to nap after the burrito and pastry wouldn’t have helped. We wandered from the ferry building all the way up to Pier 39, marvelling at naked people walking down the street and the sea lions being lazy, fat and happy. I had gotten sunburned on our epic walking day, so I decided to get a hat, and so did Mikee. After our triumphant hat purchases we decided to grab some drinks from the wine bar that was close by… After that we wondered over to get some dinner at Boudin Bakery, where they were so busy they popped us in their private dining room on a huge table… I got the crab bisque and Mikee got the clam chowder in the bread bowls, both of us were really happy and very stuffed from the delicious food so we decided to walk it off. Walking up A LOT of hills through other areas which I wish we had time to explore properly, eventually giving up and deciding to get the Muni back where our hosts had started the fire pit in their back garden. We sat with them for a little while, chatting before heading to bed.

2526272829303132      33DAY THREE: THE MISSION & TWIN PEAKS

We had brunch at our airbnb.

Perfect Chai-tea from Samovar Tea Lounge

Rice-free Burritos for dinner from La Taqueria

Ice cream from Bi-Rite creamery

Donut from a random shop just to get some change

Today we went to the Mission district! This was probably one of my favourite days from the trip. We saw all the wonderful graffiti and all the cute little shops on Valencia street. We had perfect chai tea, how it’s supposed to be from Samovar Tea Lounge while sitting and talking to a lovely lady who had lived in San Francisco for the last 40 years and who had an incredible sweet rescue dog called Ginger. I bought myself a bracelet, and we looked at all the great art around, and got some serious inspiration for how to decorate our new home… I’m now on the hunt for a lot of cacti hah. I had read about La Taqueria for rice free carnitas burritos, the line was very long, the food was delicious and just the perfect amount to be just about full but not overly. We decided to walk to Dolores Park and visit the ice cream place next to it after our awesome burritos. Bi-Rite Creamery along with Humphrey Slocombe were on recommended lists, I personally preferred the ice cream from Bi-Rite. I had earl grey flavour and it was to die for. Following this we walked to the top of Dolores park and then got a bus to the bottom of Twin Peaks where we climbed to the top to watch the sunset and froze our little butts off, looking at views all over the city. This was probably the least pedestrian friendly place to get to/off but we got out alive and back home with our selves intact.

343536373840DAY FOUR: CYCLING THE GOLDEN GATE TO SAUSALITO

Food – supplies from Wholefoods, my friend Christina kept telling me to get the vegan donuts from there and they were really good.

We got up early and walked down to Haight Ashbury to hire our bikes from Bike Rental San Francisco – not the most original name but at least it gets to the point. We hired two bikes for 24 hours and went off on our way. It was a little overcast which was perfect as it meant we wouldn’t get too sweaty and sunburned on our ride. We took the route they recommended and cycled over the bridge. It was beautiful, Mikee has said it was one of his favourite days even though he really disliked being on a manmade structure that high above the ocean. After the Golden Gate Bridge there’s a really fun incline running all the way down to Sausalito where we’d been recommended to explore. We were going to try and get up to Muir Woods but Mikee was having chest pains and I was just rubbish at going up hills so we decided to stop here and wonder around. It was very pretty, but I wasn’t really sure what we could do around there so we just went and sat on a beach that got a little too windy in the end. We got the ferry back, then cycled all the way to the cycle shop before we realised they had closed half an hour earlier than I thought they said they would… but it worked out well for us in the end in order for us to get to our following morning destination. Cycling in San Francisco was actually a lot easier than we expected, so it was really enjoyable apart from having to go up the hills – down was rather fun though. Before we headed home we explored Amoeba music which was massive! Full of vinyl and special edition posters from local shows, and we felt the music love in there. When we got home we cooked dinner at our airbnb and snoozed the night away.

41424344 45 46 47 48 49 5039DAY FIVE: ALCATRAZ & KARI ORVIK

Breakfast at our airbnb

Lunch from American Eatery in the Ferry Building Marketplace

Drinks from the Magnolia Pub in Haight Ashbury

Dinner from Burma Superstar on Clement Street

Our last full day in San Francisco we got up super early in order to cycle from our airbnb to Fishermans Wharf to drop off our bikes when the shop opened and to make it to our Alcatraz Ferry on time. It was a really fun ride, and we got to our destination point in great time. The ferry to Alcatraz probably took about ten minutes once we were on the boat.

51525354Alcatraz was beautiful! If you go it is definitely the tourist thing to make sure you do. We booked on Alcatraz cruises, who I think are the only people allowed to take you on to the actual island, we got the 9:30am boat and spent about two and a half hours there. It was amazing to see the buildings, learn the history, see all of the birds who live there now and the Ai Weiwei show that was on in one of the buildings… The audio tour which was recommended everywhere is really great. It was included in the visit so you don’t have to pay extra for it. You basically have six people talking you through your journey around the prison, three former officers and three former inmates giving you recounts of what happened there while they had been there. It was amazing to hear about a three day riot that went on inside the prison and it was incredible to hear about the three people who managed to escape, see the heads they had fashioned and put in their beds and the holes they’d so diligently dug to get into the laundry shafts.

55565758We got the boat back and went to one of the most special things we could have done. I’d been researching on Pinterest what we could doin San Fran and I came across an old black and white photograph and discovered there used to be a photography studio in San Francisco called Photobooth where they shot on aluminium. It closed but now a lovely lady called Kari Orvik is carrying on working with the process. I got in touch with her and arranged to have our portraits shot on tintypes to remember our trip. Kari herself was lovely and interesting to chat to, and it was amazing to see the process of the tintypes – it’s just magical being able to go into a darkroom and see images appear suddenly on whatever material you’ve shot on. In this case when the plate went into the fix the image turned from negative to positive in almost an instant which was such an amazing thing to see. I’m now itching to try my hand at it in London.

5960After having our portraits shot we got the bus to Haight Ashbury, enjoyed some drinks at lovely pub which had some interesting beers on tap, then decided to go to this Burmese restaurant that had been recommended by our host and by Kari who shot the portraits. We walked there which took about half an hour from where were were and waited outside for maybe twenty mins before a space opened up at the community table and so we enjoyed delicious food on our last night, I would really recommend the Burmese rice from there – Mikee ordered it and I could have eaten the entire plate it was so delicious.

The following morning we finished packing up our stuff, feeling a bit melancholy about leaving because we’d totally fallen in love with San Francisco. We made sure our room was clean and got our hosts a little gift, left a little message in their note book and hopped out the door. We got a bus, then the Bart and we were right at the airport ready to get our flight to Palm Springs… I think this post is long enough so I’ll cover Palm Springs and Coachella in the next one, and then LA after that!

San Francisco – we will see you again for sure!

20 // California!

This Thursday Mikee and I are heading off to California for 20 days. I’ve been so excited for two months I must have been driving everyone mad around me, including my colleagues and Mikee. Sorry, not sorry though.

It’s going to be a bit of a challenge as neither me or Mikee drive – so I’m going to keep you updated with how we get on here as not every traveller drives… So our experience might be helpful to someone else.

The first leg will cover San Francisco, I’ve been dying to go for years! While we’re there we have plans to visit Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park, hiring bikes and cycling over the bridge and attempting to get up to the Muir Woods with just the use of our legs, we’re going to explore and eat and have our portraits taken on tintypes at Kari Orvik’s studio. She’s agreed to show us the process so I can’t wait to visit her darkroom and see how this works.

The second leg will then involve a trip to Palm Springs. We’re staying in the Ace Hotel for one night, which I can’t wait for. We’re then meeting with a lovely Canadian couple who we’re then going to Coachella with. Bring on the sunshine, the music, the art, the metallic temporary tattoos, the shower queues, the food and all of the sunscreen in the universe. I can’t wait to go again and I can’t wait for Mikee to experience it. I fell in love when Christina and I went in 2011 and have been daydreaming about going back practically every day since we left.

Once the festival finishes, our lovely Canadian buddies are going to kindly give us a ride to LA where we’re staying in Santa Monica. LA will be harder than San Francisco to navigate without a car as it was built to be navigated by car – so I’m feeling rather daunted currently but I know it’s doable with good planning. I’m hoping we can make the most of the beach, the city and some of the artier and more foody parts with being prepared.

There will be a lot of food involved which I am tres excited about – hopefully we don’t return home fat, but even if we do at least we’ll be happy.

19 // The Important Things

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I’m not really the kind of person to make a fuss about my health, diet or exercise. My exercise mainly consists of walking, sleeping and occasionally running for public transport when I’m late. My diet swings back and forth between moderately healthy, pizza and quite a lot of sugar. I’m totally addicted, but recently I’ve reached a point where I’m realising more and more how important it is to take good care of yourself and I’m feeling like I need to make a change.

In January I got ill for the fourth time in four months, with tonsillitis and a very painful ear infection, feeling absolutely dire I knew it had to be down to something I was doing. Being ill all the time is no way to live so I’ve been trying to take action to get my body toward a position where it’s on its way to being happy and healthy which is the motivation for this post.

I made a vow to myself after I recovered from my last illness that I need to do my best to not get ill again. Which basically means re-educating myself as to what actually keeps us/me healthy and positive and in a place away from feeling like an ill mess or like my body can’t deal with what’s being thrown at it. With spring here I feel like I can make a start on this commitment and I’d like to take this blog on a journey through this process with me.

I want to look at how I can improve my diet to be more consistently healthy, while breaking free from my sugar shackles (I think this is going to be the most difficult part). I’ve been watching a lot of incredible food documentaries and it’s amazing how you don’t consider what is actually in your food when you’re eating. I’ve also started to explore the concept of exercise and how I want it to fit in with my life – so far I’ve discovered I like pilates. It’s more in tune with my attitude than yoga is and I really appreciate doing exercise which intends to strengthen your core muscles which is something my body is certainly in need of.

So perhaps I can take you on my journey of a clueless person attempting to improve their overall wellbeing. Because I don’t think I’m the only clueless person out here when it comes to this stuff, and my body is the only one I have – making this an incredibly important task.

If anyone has any tips, they’d be greatly appreciated.

18 // Twenty Six

25LowApologies for being so pants at actually updating on what’s been going on over the last few months – we got plunged into a world of crazy when 2015 started. In the first week, my housemate who also happened to be one of my closest friends moved out and we had a new friend move in, someone I know witnessed something scandalous, and Mikee and I put an offer in on a flat… Which then got accepted… And so big news! Now we’re homeowners!!!

It involved lots of decisions and paperwork and being told where to sign things and asked to read about things we didn’t really know about. It can be a bit of a confusing time so I think I’m going to do a bit of a walk through post with some advice on that in the future. We moved in at the start of March and have been busy with cleaning and painting and all of that while working lots! Again, something to go into another time.

My post today is about my birthday which happens to be tomorrow. Over the last couple of years I’ve been setting myself the challenge of doing a set amount of things for the age I am. So when I turned 25 I set myself 25 things to do (I read about the idea on A Beautiful Mess and thought it was great). Tomorrow I turn 26 – so time to look at how I did and set myself a new bunch of challenges!

So for the 25 things I wanted to accomplish over the last year have been:

  1. 1. Finish the proposal for the Wish Book and see how people feel about it. – DONE and starting a new adventure with it – a plan is in action and things are being made. A little more momentum is needed but I think you’ll forgive me if I deal with this house stuff first. I really can’t wait to start the project again though.
  2. 2. Get a really steady stream of freelance work even if it kills me it’s what I love to do. – It’s slowly happening
  3. 3. Visit San Francisco finally! – I failed this year but the plans were made and in a week and a half I will be there!!!
  4. 4. Keep doing projects around music. – DONE Working on YBP still and started working with Catherine Okada, though I’d love to do more things. Does anyone wish they had more time? 
  5. 5. Input this plan for my blog and write regularly. – Fail… clearly.
  6. 6. Buy a good camera that I can create awesome work with. – DONE!! I bought a Canon 5D mkii, and I love it to pieces.
  7. 7. Shoot more medium format (I forgot how beautiful the results are). Fail… To be fair I lent my Hasselbald to my brother for his birthday last year and haven’t got it back… So I haven’t been able to.
  8. 8. Be okay with losing that second part of my childhood. – Done. I lost my little Biff two days after my birthday last year. It broke my heart but I’m okay now, I still miss him every single day but my mum has Lyyli now so I have another little friend I can visit. Plus Mikee and I really want to get a sausage dog now we own our own place, so watch this space!
  9. 9. If I have projects which don’t have particular deadlines set them myself and don’t put them off. – I’m getting better at this but I still get rather distracted but the other million and one things that seem to be going on. 
  10. 10. Go on a girly trip with my bum chum when she visits. – We did this! My first ever trip to Italy! See my post about Ice Cream and Pizza land. It was so much fun and so beautiful, I would certainly recommend going to Lake Como.
  11. 11. Make sure to spend some time for myself every week to stop myself from burning out and to keep coming up with inventive ideas of things to do so my life is not just work. – Now we have our own place I’m starting to do this more by making sure I have a really good bath regularly as it’s my creative relaxing place. 
  12. 12. Be better at keeping in contact with friends who I don’t see that often. – I’ve been trying!
  13. 13. Restart doing the everyday opposites. – Fail, but I recently spent a week at Project Sunlight at Unilever and it kickstarted some ideas for some more every day opposites. So maybe while we’re on holiday again I might use any free time to do fun creative things such as this.
  14. 14. Get my website up and running. – DONE thanks to the amazing Kim Lawler
  15. 15. Figure out my style when it comes to illustration. – Figuring it out. It defy involves a combination of analog and digital whether that’s illustration or photography then post manipulation I think I’m getting there.
  16. 16. Try not to get too stressed if me and Mikee go and get our own place. – DONE! Didn’t get too stressed apart from with Estate Agents.
  17. 17. Do more craft things! – Not as much as I’d have liked to, but I’ve been making the cut out type pieces fairly regularly. Can’t wait till we have our new home set up more so I have a real workspace.
  18. 18. Write a business plan. – Fail.
  19. 19. Don’t be scared of chasing my dream and taking the risk that’s going to need because it’ll be the best decision I’ll make if I succeed. – I’m not scared of chasing it anymore, I’m being strategic though.
  20. 20. Remember not to compare myself to people I find successful – I’m at a completely different stage to them. – DONE. I find these people inspiring I will also achieve my goals one day the same way they have while keeping in mind to make sure I spend time on the other more important things in my life such as the people around me.
  21. 21. Bake more. – I tried, I failed but I’ve deffo gotten more into cooking with the help of Pinterest
  22. 22. Visit my friends more. – Been a bit of a fail but I did make it out of London for one of them to go on my first ever trip to Birmingham. Hooray! It wasn’t as terrible as some may think, in actual fact it was quite pleasant. 
  23. 23. Write a song – I love music, I wont be very good at it but lets give it a go. – Started. I have two lines down. 85% fail?
  24. 24. Watch more classic films that every person needs to have seen. – I’ve watched more, so I’d say that’s a success.
  25. 25. Keep laughing, taking risks, revelling in challenges, loving and living every day to the fullest. – Doing it.

Not too bad 18/25 – room for improvement but it’s pretty good going. I need to print the next list out and put it somewhere I can see everyday so remind myself of these things.

So for being 26 I will try to…

  1. 1. Visit San Francisco – It’s been on the list for three years now, I’m not sure if it’s cheating but I know it’s going to happen.
  2. 2. Take part in the MOMA 100 Days of Making
  3. 3. Focus on my body, it’s the only one I have and I must make sure I keep it happy and healthy.
  4. 4. Exercise more.
  5. 5. Get the wish project trundling along faster.
  6. 6. Enjoy making our place our own.
  7. 7. Start selling the hand cut quotes
  8. 8. Collaborate with more friends.
  9. 9. Treat my mum and show her how grateful we are for all of her help
  10. 10. I really want to improve this blog
  11. 11. I would love to start using a dark room again.
  12. 12. Write the rest of my two line song.
  13. 13. Practical one – develop a filing system that will work (also never name a job final – that’ll just jinx it)
  14. 14. Enter the ADC Young Guns competition again now I have some more ground to stand on, I doubt I’ll get anywhere but it’s worth entering.
  15. 15. Learn to dance for fun
  16. 16. Treat the moments I have for myself with respect and really think about what I’m doing
  17. 17. Learn to cook some damn Finnish food
  18. 18. Start visiting the sauna at the Finnish Church in London, now I live rather close to it.
  19. 19. Walk home when I have time.
  20. 20. Maybe get a bike. It’s really nice being able to rely on myself to get places.
  21. 21. Learn to like tea without sugar.
  22. 22. Get a furry friend.
  23. 23. Figure out a way to grow some of my own.
  24. 24. Feel comfortable with washing my hair less – I wash it every day and it’s not good for my hair or for the environment
  25. 25. Become more aware of what I’m using up and what I’m doing with the things I use.
  26. 26. Make sure the people around me feel loved

Let’s see how I go!

17 // Time To Reflect

EastbourneThe end of the year always calls for a time to look back, remember what happened and look forward to the amazing things to come in the next year. I’m a fan of reminiscing, you can learn a lot from looking back and it can remind you of why you’re where you are and nudge you toward what you want. This is mostly for me but get ready for an essay.

This year I’ve definitely grown a lot. I feel like I’ve levelled up in every way imaginable and that process has changed me, making me look more carefully at the things in my life forcing myself to take action if something doesn’t sit quite right. It’s also made me far more confident than I felt before.

A year ago I wrote a post on my old blog site reflecting on how 2013 had gone and explaining my little ritual that I do on New Year: At the strike of midnight I open up the back door to let the old year out and open up the front door to let the new year in, I stand at my front door – welcome the new year and I make a deal with it. Last year my deal was that if I worked hard, the year would help me to make sure that my freelance work got on the ground running. I’ve only started charging for my work this last year so I wanted to make sure I did well.

HighfiveWithTypeAnd now I feel I can give myself a big pat on the back, give 2014 a high five, grateful for what I’ve achieved: I’ve set up my website with the help of brilliant Kim Lawler. I got awesome stationery printed to go with it. I bought the camera I’d been craving to have for the last three years. I somehow landed myself in a job which I hope will teach me a lot and be helpful in the next little bit of time climbing up the mountain. I set myself up for the joys of HMRC with my freelance income – making it feel official, and actually working on freelance jobs… Amazingly I haven’t had to seek out work this year, I’ve just worked on some lovely briefs for lovely people and done well at it. Even if the last two months of this year were utterly crazy with adjusting to the demands of my new job and working on three large freelance projects – I even got invited to a blogger event. The deal with 2014 worked and it’s my greatest achievement so far – Aside from making clients happy, I’m so lucky to do what I love and what I’m good at for my living and it’s why I do this dance of late nights at my laptop – it’s not hard.

10888584_10152922630852482_2801263013617882595_nThis last year has seen some big changes outside of work. I heartbreakingly lost my dog, my little pal who had been with me since I was eleven. I had wished so badly for a dog of my own – looking through the big yellow dog book our family owned and eventually my mum gave in – I saved up the small amount of pocket money I was given every month and out of it came little Biff. He was my best friend, my secret keeper and he would always back me up – through the tough times at school when I was to meak to stand up for myself I got to come home to his happy face and everything would be fine. I miss him so much now it’s ridiculous but I will never forget him or that experience. And now we have Lyyli, a sassy little lady who is helping us get past the pain of losing our little family member, who my mum will no doubt endeavour to dress up at every opportunity for her own amusement.

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11094_10152922631247482_4582513296395198038_nAnother big thing is Mikee and I starting the hunt for our first real home. Estate agents have driven me bananas for a multitude of reasons, but luckily the complexity of paperwork and all of the things we’ve had to go through haven’t – mostly thanks to the brilliant broker we’ve worked with (if anyone wants his number do write to me and I’ll pass it on). We came so close to getting a place in the perfect location and the perfect price but the seller backed out leaving us back in square one again. So we’re starting the hunt again in 2015 and hopefully this time next year we’ll have found ourselves a home – something we can make our own… And that makes me excited for the year to come. We also celebrated our ten year anniversary this year, we’re going to celebrate next year though with a trip to California to visit San Francisco, LA and go to Coachella – super excited for that too.

IMG_6272Talking of festivals, I’m super proud of Mikee. His awesome friend Alex asked him to play violin at a recording session for You Me At Six’s deluxe release of Cavalier Youth, which in turn led to a video recording and finally playing an acoustic set with them at Reading Festival. He also recorded on Lucy Rose’s new album. And played at Bestival with the beautiful Catherine Okada who amazingly got me tickets to attend, resulting in a last minute adventure with some unlikely friends down to the Isle of White to spend the weekend there camping with amazing music and catching up with some lovely people. Hazel also wins the award for the calmest driver I’ve ever been in a car with.

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10393847_10152891809032482_4142057965979247382_nMusic wise, this year has been kinda slow with the gigs as I had to prioritise my work. But I went to see Sivu at least three times (go see him perform if you can), Grouplove with my original gig buddy. Cut Copy which was so much fun (we also ate at the same place pre show) their opening act Rufus were great too. I saw Wild Beasts which was a beautiful gig, but tarnished by the fact I was a wreck when I saw them as it was the same day that Biff died – we had to leave early because I was crying too much. We also Dan Croll but we only really went to catch We The Wild opening for him and then also fell in love with Jack Garratt at the same gig – he’s brilliant too if you want to listen to some fantastic music. I also went to lots of Catherine Okada gigs which were lovely, I’ve seem to have always been busy before, but she’s got such a lovely voice and beautiful songs I can’t recommend her music enough.

10857959_10152891808117482_8996687627599158388_nThis year saw trips near and far occur. It’s probably the year I’ve travelled most and I want to keep it up. We started off in good old Finland, Mikee celebrated his 25th birthday by ice fishing in the middle of Kangasala with me and my Vaari, in minus 20 degree weather. We also went for a trip down to Helsinki and explored the quiet zoo and walked on the frozen Baltic Ocean.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 23.06.38I spent the day at the Bluebell woods with mine and Mikee’s families, walking around the beautiful forrest taking photos and entertaining my niece. We also went on a day trip to Port Lympne with my family in the summer which was great – you can see all the way out to the sea while going around in a Safari vehicle to see all of the animals, most of which are roaming freely.

IMG_2711I went to Italy with my lovely friend Christina, we visited Lake Como, staying in Como but then going for an adventure to Bellagio and then Milan. It was my first time to Italy and it was beautiful, hot and full of tasty food. I ate so much gelato that if I kept that up regularly I’d probably turn into it. I will go back some day, hopefully not in the too far distant future.

Lake como on emiliabuggins.comWhile Christina was in London, we also went to visit Kew Gardens with my housemate Aaron. I love that part of London, I don’t go very often as it’s quite far but it is beautiful and Kew was stunning, I want to go an explore more in the spring time.

1453297_10152891805392482_6011281228836119303_nI also had a touristy day exploring London with my brilliant friend Jess. She’s my oldest friend and the one who caused the me and Mikee thing to happen. Having disappeared to Australia for two years it was amazing to catch up with her and know that although we’re different people to who we were when we were eleven, we can still see each other as if no time passed.

10885331_10152922631117482_3576311693751248590_nAnd lastly I went to Birmingham for the first time. Probably my first trip out of London to go and visit friends. It was different to how I expected it but I’ll have to visit some more to get a better taste of it… I do now know though that the typical Brummy accent everyone expects to hear isn’t typical to Birmingham though, just the Black Country as it’s called. Though anyone outside of the south of England sounds weird to me.

10407853_10152922630967482_1223768638187966577_nThis has also been the last year of living with my housemate Aaron. I’ve lived with him the entire time I’ve been in London since I moved up for university in 2008, he is part of what makes it what it is. We’ve spent practically a quarter of our lives living in the same space, so I’d say he now qualifies as my family. Now six and a half years later, I’m really sad to see him leave but the time has come, it’s the end of an era with more exciting stories to come and be told at future catch ups instead of in the Bermuda kitchen, the sauna, my room, Christina’s room, Antonia’s room or the living room. I’ll sign this off with a wish for him, for this move to help him find the inspiration to make his dreams into a reality.

IMG_4672For 2015 I have a few things I want to achieve – I am going to keep the details close to my chest again but needless to say through this process of deal making with the welcoming of the new years – I’m learning life IS what you make it. Sometimes lucky accidents happen but these things come about because of good timing and because of you. I’m learning that wishing your life away and being negative doesn’t work – sometimes you’re going to fall down of course –  but take some time to sit there, reflect, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get right back on with it because if you have a burning desire deep in your heart the only thing that’s really going to satisfy you is chasing it to the end of the world. I’m keeping my mantra from last year:

BeFearlessHappy new year darlings, see you on the flip side of the future.