Guest Post: Gill Murray’s Food Photography Hacks for Instagram Worthy Images with Your Smartphone

Instagram has become more than a fun place to share photos. It has become a community. I know that social media has its downsides, but a fun part for me is connecting with people via the app and then having the opportunity to meet them in person. The Blog Pod girls are an example of this and so is the lovely Gill Murray, a Scottish food photographer and blogger that I met a few years ago when she liked one of my Scotland photos. We’ve kept in touch and I was so happy to meet her in person last year when I was back in Edinburgh. She is a gorgeous human being inside and out. 

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How to Stay Healthy & Happy While Travelling

Travelling is wonderful. But if you get sick in any way while there or right after you get back, not so fun. Some of this can be attributed to jet lag and recycled air on the plane. But over the years I’ve realized that the biggest reason much of the above happens is that while we are doing ourselves a favour by taking a break to go away (for however long), we tend to stop mindfully looking after ourselves when we travel.

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Six Museums You Must Visit in Seattle and a Budget Friendly Way to Visit Them

We were recently in Seattle, and coincidentally, we were there for the city’s Museum Month. What’s special about that? If you are staying at participating Downtown Seattle hotels, you get a card that entitles you to two admissions to world-class museums for the price of one… for the whole month of February. To state the obvious, it’s an excellent deal, people – #GetThrifty for the win!

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7 Budget Friendly Ways to Experience Barcelona

Winter in Vancouver is down to your bones cold. I’m in the middle of some Sunshine Coast drafts but the windy, rainy weather and the cooking shows I’ve been watching on Netflix have my thoughts straying to the dry heat of Barcelona. As close to a tropical vacation as I’ve had a while, June in this Spanish city was perfect for the girls and me after the unexpected and pelting rain in Paris.

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#12DaysofHygge – Day 12: Tourist in my town + Giveaway from LUQL!

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Dating an ex-pat, I am very accustomed and happy to be a #touristinmytown. It’s fun to see familiar things in a new light, and I always enjoy going somewhere I’ve never been or trying out a new activity. When the people at a new travel app called LUQL (http://luql.io) reached out to me last month about taking a tour in Vancouver, I was intrigued. As you may have read, I love a good tour when travelling, but I’ve never taken a tour in my own city. I suppose most people haven’t(?)

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#12 Days of Hygge – Day 7: Date Night In

The Brit recently sent me a link to a Time Magazine clip that was on their Facebook page about hygge. It sums up hygge really nicely as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” A great example of this is when I go to cook and eat with my friend Karen. It’s also how I feel when the Brit and are at home or off on an adventure.

When we went to the Sunshine Coast in October, we stayed in Gibsons for a night on our way back home from Powell River. We had a cute Airbnb booked and had plans go into ‘downtown’ Gibsons for a date night of dinner and a #pintandaflight at one of the craft breweries the town is known for.

But then we got to our Airbnb and the view was PHENOMENAL. Our Airbnb host must have thought we were simpletons with how dumbstruck we were by the property, the hot tub, and the kick-ass view. I remember looking at the Brit and saying “Let’s just order takeout and stay here.” and he said “I was just going to say the same thing!”

We had just come from Powell River and visiting Townsite Brewing, so we were all set for refreshments. So we had a date night ‘in’ instead of a date night ‘out’ and it was wonderful. We ordered a pizza and sat on the swinging chair, watching a sunny evening turn into a stunning sunset over the water. (Who doesn’t love a fiery coloured sunset??) You couldn’t not take take a hundred pictures, so we did and then we settled with our Townsite brews.

I’m so glad we took the opportunity to appreciate our surroundings and just be together and present. It was a very hygge evening and the perfect date night.

Thank you to our hosts for having such a lovely place for us to have stayed! It was beautiful.

What’s your favourite date night in? Have your plans ever changed and become the best evening, ever?

“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.”

~ Pamela Hansford Johnson

4 Fabulous Girls’ Night Out Options in London

Having travelled solo a fair amount, I am comfortable being in my own company; but there are many times when I’ve been away and wanted to share a moment, or just have someone (that I know) to talk to. Be that partner or friend. That’s why I loved being on the recent trip with my girlfriends, particularly when we were in London. It was really wonderful to share a city that I’ve become quite fond of with some of my favourite people.

I’m currently exploring the Danish concept of hygge (hue-guh or hoo-guh) and a big aspect of this is togetherness. London is a city that inspires going out for a pint or a bite to eat with friends and is a great place to be with your tribe. We had three proper girls’ nights in London and I definitely recommend them as yours as well! These are also great outings – in any city – to celebrate the holiday season with friends or with work colleagues. 🙂

Dinner and a Show

Seeing a show isn’t the most social of activities, but you go for a pre-show dinner or drinks and talk about the show over more drinks and food afterward. It’s a really nice girls’ night out (like my recent Jersey Boys outing in Vancouver with my mum!) or date night option. Broadway is amazing, but the architecture of London’s West End theatres tips its end of the scale more so in my favour.

Dominion Theatre
The Dominion Theatre (Photo provided by The Corner Shop PR)

A prime example of this architecture is the recently restored Dominion Theatre, currently home to the fabulous musical An American in Paris*. The girls and I had the opportunity to go and see the show while we were in London and it was STUNNING. Gene Kelly would have been so proud.

One of the best feelings in the world is when your heart fills up with so much joy that all you can do is smile a stupid smile. That is how I feel when I’m at a wedding, when I think of my guy, and when I watch live theatre or a ballet. I never really enjoyed performing but I have so much appreciation for those who do it well and for all the behind-the-scenes work. This was genuinely the best stage musical I have seen in a long time – I couldn’t stop smiling. The set and technology, choreography, acting, and all that lovely Gershwin Music… All framed by the Dominion’s flame red and gold interior in all its art deco glory.

The cast of An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre CREDIT Tristram Kenton
A scene from An American In Paris by George and Ira Gershwin @ Dominion Theatre. Directed and Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. (Opening 21-03-17) ©Tristram Kenton

I was really looking forward to seeing the exterior of Dominion, the but with old buildings comes the need for restoration, so the exterior looked like this:

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It now looks like this:

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The Dominion Theatre (Photo provided by The Corner Shop PR)

If you’re in London this winter, make sure you go see An American in Paris before it ends its West End engagement on January 6, 2018! More info on the show and how to buy tickets can be found here.

‘Tis the Season Tip – Theatre tickets are the perfect stocking stuffer for the musical lover or the kids in your life!

(*This girls’ night out to see An American in Paris was made possible by The Corner Shop PR.  As always, opinions are my own.)

We didn’t have time for a pre-show dinner, but stumbled upon a cute little Italian place in Soho called Il Cucciolo (8 Old Compton St, London) after the show. Cheap, cheerful, and sizeable pasta portions – my kind of place. I’m so happy we found this little gem!

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Very happy eaters at Il Cucciolo

#GetThrifty and Fancy! – If we’d had time before the show, I would have suggested having a treat dinner at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon (13-15 West St., London) in Soho. They have a great pre-show prix fixe menu for £35, which is an amazing #GetThrifty price considering it’s a Michelin star restaurant. (I ate there a couple years ago at the suggestion of a family friend, and it was good value for money, delicious, and their wait staff is wonderful.) Reservations are highly recommenced!

We ended the evening going back to food tour favourite, La Bodega Negra (16 Moor Street, London) for some margaritas. It was a fantastic evening out!

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Margaritas at Bodega Negra

Food & Cocktails Tour

Web:https://eatinglondontours.co.uk

Our Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour with Eating Europe was one of my favourite excursions from this trip. I don’t think we really knew what we were getting into, but it surpassed expectations! We ended up staying at one of my the establishments they brought us to (Basement Sate), because it made us feel like we were Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda – and the G&T’s were superb. Check out my review of the tour and the list of restaurants and bars they took us to.

‘Tis the Season Tip – They will be having a Cyber Monday Sale, so make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can get a sweet deal for the next time you’re in the city or are a local wanting to have a fun date night!

Gordon’s Wine Bar

Address: 47 Villiers Street, London / Web: https://gordonswinebar.com/

Gordon’s is one of my favourite London spots. It’s considered the oldest wine bar in London and is in a cave by the Thames and is one of the best bars in the city. The wine list is varied and lovely, the charcuterie and cheese are excellent, but they don’t take table reservations. They are also open for lunch. All of these factors make it quite popular.

Thursday seems to be the new Friday in big cities, so I was worried we wouldn’t get in. But there was an ‘important’ football (soccer) match on TV that night. And Gordon’s doesn’t have a single screen. So grazie mille to Juventus for making it so we could get a prime cave table on a summer Thursday at 8pm!

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Candles make for the best lighting!

#GetThrifty – If you’re in a group of four like we were, it’s much more cost effective to order by the bottle. It also makes for fun photos because the lighting is very moody with candles in old bottles.

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Pouring wine is serious business

In the summer they also have what they call their ‘Terrace’ (which is really an alley-way, but the safest alley-way you will ever be in) open just outside, with a special grill menu. (Brave the Terrace in the rain, if you must – some people do!) They serve their charcuterie and cheese boards all year round, and apparently have a Sunday Roast for £10.95, which is a pretty great deal.

They do take group bookings for 8-10 people for what they call ‘The Cage‘. The name of the room intrigues me enough to makes me wish I was there now so I could book my work team in for a Christmas lunch!

Something important to keep in mind is that Gordon’s Closes at 11pm, but it’s a great spot for a girls’ night, and if you’re going on a date, you’ll likely get bonus points if you get a good table! 😉 (When we were there, there was a first date a table over from us, and it was going very well…)

Because it was fab in Glasgow… 

I talked a bit about Wetherspoon’s in my Glasgow bus tour post and the fact that it’s an excellent #GetThrifty option. While we didn’t go to one in London, I’m positive that we would have had just as amazing of a time as we did at their Counting House in Glasgow. (They also have a great G&T.)

The service is good, the food and beverage are good and very decently priced, and the buildings they choose for their establishments are always interesting as they are restored old buildings (cinemas, banks, etc). They also have an order/pay app, which is great if you’re not wanting to leave a good conversation to wait at the bar to order drinks.

The Soho/West End/Covent Garden options that I have found are Montagu Pyke, Shakespeare’s Head, and The Moon Under Water. If you get to one, let me know how you go!

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.

– William Shakespeare