On the Balcony #2

Girl in Brogues / On the balcony #2

Girl in Brogues / On the balcony #2

Girl in Brogues / On the balcony #2

Girl in Brogues / On the balcony #2

Coat – Topshop / Top – Zara / Jeans – Topshop / Boots – Office

I owe a lot to this coat. It’s an effective blizzard-shield, it assists in my blending in with the East London crowd and it saved me a few pretty pennies when I bought it in the sale. I wear it everyday; to work, clubs, exhibitions and back. I have had countless people at house parties and the hospital try it on and in return, I have an incriminating photo of a topless male friend wearing it just to make him feel that little bit more sexy.

I head off to Vietnam in a few weeks and I’m told it’s the country to get some pretty zippy and affordable tailoring done. So of course, I’m thinking about investing in another winter coat there because, let’s face it, being on the slightly more petite size means I have to forgo some excellent coats as they make me look I have yet to hit puberty. But I don’t think that means this coat will be placed on the backbenches; far from it. I can see myself working this coat until I’m at least 52 years old. And you can’t stop me.

(Late) Sunday round-up #8

Girl in Brogues / Cheeseboard

1. This weekend we went to Bournemouth to stay with my flatmate’s family. We went out for Korean food, spent the evening trying to figure out how to play complicated board games and feasted on cheese. The cheese was so stinky, we actually thought that on the drive down someone was persistently farting in the car; that’s until we opened the boot and all olfactory hell broke loose! On our late Sunday afternoon, we had seafood by the beach and took a walk looking at the grey skies and sea, which surprisingly was pretty nice!

2. I had my 10 day stretch finish on Friday, which ultimately led to me being so exhausted by the end. What’s worse is that because we were short-staffed, I was having burn out and started having some disillusionment with my job. Thanks to my weekend break away, I feel better now and ready to go back to work!

3. I’m sure it’s not only the January blues, but along with the burn out I’ve been feeling particularly apathetic and lazy recently. My jeans all feel too tight, my eczema’s flaring up, I feel tired constantly etc. I think my life needs a bit of a shake-up. I’m going to start with introducing teeny bits of exercise and starting to treat myself a bit more. I’m so worried about money all the time that I always find excuses not to buy myself something (I know, weird). I think this is a future post that may be brewing.

Athens in 3 days

Writing about Athens has been a little bit of a daunting task since I visited in October with my boyfriend Harpall and totally-third-wheeling-flatmate Mel. How do you summarise lazy days full of coffee, cheese and sun into one post? Well… not easily! Prepare yourself for a picture-heavy post all about the European city of cool.

 ACROPOLIS

Girl in Brogues / Acropolis

Girl in Brogues / Acropolis

Girl in Brogues / Acropolis

Although it is so tempting to ease yourself into doing nothing on holiday, there is one sight you do need to see – the Acropolis. Set high in the hills of Athens, the Acropolis is a collection of ancient Greek temples and structures that were used by Ancient Greeks for worship. It also serves as the centre point of the city, from where you can easily walk to and explore other parts of Athens, and have a panoramic view to click away at.

Girl in Brogues / Acropolis

Girl in Brogues / Acropolis

From the Acropolis you can walk down to the Agora and the Stoa of Attalos, which now acts as a museum and a pretty good shelter from the sun if you’re a bit tired from the walking. Some of these sights require an entry ticket, but they are a pretty good price and completely free if you have a student card.

ACROPOLIS CAFÉ LIFE

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Now on to the real good stuff! Next to the Acropolis and Acropolis train station is a pedestrianised street Makrigianni with a line of cute cafés to dine at before you hike up to the Acropolis. Our first taste of Greek coffee was at Elaea Café; to be honest, the verdict was unsure – a little grainy and sweet. The real hit was a slab of cheese drizzled with honey and sesame seeds.

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Girl in Brogues / Cafe life

Another street near the Acropolis to indulge in café lounging is Adrianou in Monastiraki, where we tried a dessert of real hotch-potch sweetness in Ciccus Café. Ekmek is custard and cream piled on bread, doused with honey and cinnamon. Afterwards, you can just turn a corner and wander the shopping alleys for olive-wood spoons and Greek-style throws.

WANDERING IN PLAKA

Girl in Brogues / Street of Athens

Girl in Brogues / Streets of Athens

When I asked my Greek friend Agis for some Athens hangouts, I was mighty impressed when he pulled the stops out with this super-chilled coffee joint named Yiasemi. We stopped here for brunch (iced chocolate and baklava) and admired the ivy-covered walls and spiral staircase filled with potted plants.

Girl in Brogues / Street of Athens

Girl in Brogues / Street of Athens

Girl in Brogues / Street of Athens

We then headed up and down the slopes of Plaka district, but it didn’t take too long for us to stop again to eat! We tried spicy cheese dip (Harpall loved it, me.. not so much), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and fed tiny little kittens squeaking at our feet. I don’t care if you’re not meant to feed strays, how can you say no to those eyes?!

NIGHT LIFE IN PSIRRI

Girl in Brogues / Night life

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Psirri is sort of like the Athens equivalent of Shoreditch. It’s an absolute maze to explore between its graffitied walls, but if you’re heading in the right direction, you come to this incredible crossroads of pubs, restaurants, tavernas and bars, all under fairy lights. On our last night, we tried lamb chops and greasy chips at Oinopoleio, an old taverna more known for its wine, even though I didn’t have any of it!

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Round the corner was a very cool, but very empty bar called The Party. We’re not sure why it was so empty, apart from that it was a week day. The positive about it being so empty is that the DJ started catering his music for us, which we loved. I tried to get Harpall to get up and dance with me, but he was so so reluctant, which I think amused Mel a bit (or a lot).

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Girl in Brogues / Night life in Athens

Our final stop in Athens was to take in the jaw-dropping view of a lit-up Acropolis from A for Athens Hotel. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end our trip.

Howards End

Girl in Brogues / Howards End

“To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge; the poor cannot afford it.”

Howards End is a novel that intertwines three families in the early 20th century – the Schlegels, the Wilcoxes and the Basts. Margaret Schlegel forms a brief but meaningful friendship with Ruth Wilcox, who subsequently writes a note leaving her country home, Howards End, to Margaret. Helen Schlegel meets a poor clerk named Leonard Bast on a chance encounter and the Schlegels set out to help Leonard, setting off a significant chain of events in the lives of each family.

I chose this book to read as I was completely in love with E.M. Forster’s A Room with A View and thought I really should give his other novels a go. When I started to read Howards End, it sat in the bottom of my bag for three months; I found it a little dull to get into it and thought there was little impact from the early storyline. But I picked it up again and started to understand why this novel is considered Forster’s best piece of writing.

The slightly slow set-up for the future encounters of these three families leads to a completely absorbing and eloquent commentary on social classes at the time. The Schlegels represent the idealistic, artistic upper class, the Wilcoxes the industrial, clinical upper class and the Basts the unfortunate lower classes. As the story develops, I started to understand how great the gaps between classes were at this time. I became frustrated by the selfishness of Henry and devastated by its effect on the helpless Leonard Bast. The lives of the characters were boxed in by their income and gender. Forster is incredibly skilful at making the reader think beyond the story and I’m grateful that it’s given me an outlook on England’s past. However, if you’re the sort of person who prefers meaty dialogue and action rather than long sections of prose, Forster may not be the author for you.

Introducing the V&A

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

I was trying to explain to Harpall today why I love the V&A Museum so much; it’s sort of like a kindred spirit in a museum (not that it’s weird to call an inanimate building that). I’m never disappointed by my visits. I’ve seen the same statues and carpets and clothes multiple times that I’ve begun remembering where they individually are, but I always discover something new to fascinate me.

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

At the beginning, Harpall, a V&A newbie, was a bit more taken with murmuring ‘boobs’ under his breath every time he saw a pair of marble bosoms (which is a lot of times). But after he got over that, he was starting to form his own fascinations; I caught him staring intently at a video of how shoes are made for what seemed like hours.

We stopped for hot chocolate and elderflower and raspberry Victoria sponge in the café (a recipe that needs to be replicated asap) and leisurely strolled in the last few hours of the museum being open. I spotted some new favourite items to be committed to memory, like a pearly shell adorned with insects and a peacock-themed Indian instrument (of which I can’t remember the name, doh!).

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

Girl in Brogues / Introducing the V&A

Then I clocked it was 15 minutes until closing time – and I quick-stepped it to the V&A shop, which is always so fun to browse and has so many things I want to buy – a pretty cityscape screen print, jewellery and patterned tote bags. I showed Harpall the amazing glass-blown lighting in the entrance, but of course, we couldn’t really leave it without commenting how slightly phallic it looks. Sorry guys, we can’t help ourselves.

On the Balcony #1

Girl in Brogues / Grey turtleneck

Girl in Brogues / Grey turtleneck

Girl in Brogues / Grey turtleneck

Turtleneck – Uniqlo / Jade necklace – Dad / Skirt – Topshop / Bracelet – Accessorize

Hey 2016! New year, but I wouldn’t say new me. It does ring in a fresh new feature on the blog. This is my first foray in quite a long time into the scary world of fashion blogging. Eek! (Heellpp meee!)

I suppose the move away from taking pictures of clothes items I blooming love was due to my complete inability to pose seriously and sheer embarrassment. My fix for this? Still not being able to pose seriously and being embarrassed on my balcony. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still awkward as ever posing on my balcony, but it’s a million times better than posing up a storm on the streets of London. Anyway, London streets are way overdone by every other blogger in the universe; my balcony is so much better, right?

The first post is dedicated to my new love for turtlenecks. I have a sneaky feeling that my failed attempts at wearing turtlenecks in previous years have been related more to dodgy haircuts rather than the item itself; bad layering doesn’t look good with anything, people. And I suspect the turtleneck instantly transports you to being in an early 2000s British rom-com (Love Actually, of course), and that is never a bad thing.

The 2015 round-up

Hey 2015, I think we’ve had a pretty good year! Here’s what went down in one of the years to remember.

Girl in Brogues / 2015 round-up

LIFE

I had my first anniversary with Harpall this year in November (cue gushing) and I’m still pretty ecstatic that I’m with the kindest, most loving person, who I can share all my adventures with and never complains when I’m a complete pain in the arse. I also moved back to London into a pretty fly flat with my friend Mel and being now in the big smoke, I can see my friends a whole lot more than before! This year also marks the recovery of my mum from a long illness and when I was able to see her work displayed in Alexandra Palace in the The Knitting and Stitching Show. Proud as punch.

Girl in Brogues / 2015 round-up

WORK

I interviewed and got my dream job as a Paediatrics doctor in London! Woo! It’s been a learning curve since I started, but I love every minute of it (even when my whole body is aching in bed after a 72 hour week). I was also interviewed by the lovely Daisy about my career for her blog. And I can’t not mention the fight against the new Junior Doctors’ contract that is still going on now and protesting in Central London in October. All I can say is, if junior doctors have anything to do with it, the NHS is here to stay.

Girl in Brogues / 2015 round-up

TRAVEL

In March, I went back to my home turf in Hong Kong to visit my parents, meet up with some old friends and tucking away all the colourful snacks into my belly. We then visited all my family in Malaysia and spent a wonderful few days with them in Port Robinson – sun, swimming and spa. The food adventures continued in Lake Garda, Italy with the utterly beautiful scallop starter I will never forget and napping for hours in the middle of the day. Finally, Harpall and I had our first holiday in Greece, along with my flatmate (yep, she totally third-wheeled us!). We tried to eat all the cheese whilst wandering around ancient ruins and debating whether Greek coffee was actually any good.

Girl in Brogues / 2015 round-up

FOOD

This year has been a fab year for restaurant-tripping – a stunning Christmas dinner in the kitchens of Corrigan’s Mayfair, getting to literal grips with lobsters in Burger & Lobster and finding the best pizza ever in Crate. Harpall perfected his Tom Yum recipe, I affirmed my love for mac and cheese and I baked along to the GBBO – including gingerbread biscotti and sugar-free carrot cake.

Girl in Brogues / 2015 round-up

MUSIC

The great thing about having a boyfriend who loves the same music as I do is that I now have a gig buddy for all my fave bands! We went to the BBC Radio 1 weekend in Norwich, where we saw James Bay, Foo Fighters and Snoop Dogg. I found my new favourite music venue in Alexandra Palace with CHVRCHES. We also went to some smaller gigs that were just as amazing; Palma Violet, Wolf Alice, Day Wave and Marika Hackman.

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year! I leave you with my music highlights from 2015!

Swedish kolakakor

Girl in Brogues / Kolakakor

Girl in Brogues / Kolakakor

When I was young and sprightly at the age of 18 (so many years ago, wahhh!), I was invited to ski in Sweden with my cousin and his friends. Many lessons were learnt on that trip.

1. I am not a natural ski-er. And falling flat on your face at the bottom of the beginner’s slope hurts.
2. High street boots don’t cut it on the icy roads of Sweden. Cue more falling.
3. This recipe for Swedish kolakakor.

Once I realised I actually wasn’t that into ski-ing, I spent more time in the ski cafe than I did on the slopes. Everyday, I would have at least three of these beautiful sweet biscuits with cups of hot chocolate. So at the end of the trip, being her absolute best customer of the ski season, the cafe owner gave me the recipe for kolakakor.

Since baking these at home, I have had so many rave reviews about how extraordinarily delicious this simple little biscuit is. And they are so easy to make. Perfect for more hot chocolates; just not with ski-ing involved.

Girl in Brogues / Swedish kolakakor

Swedish kolakakor

Ingredients
100g butter (softened)
1 dl (85g) soft brown sugar
2.5 dl (150g) plain flour
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Mix together all of the ingredients.
2. Split mixture into two and form two long sausages on a baking tray. Press down sausages so it’s flattened.
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Take out of the oven and cut diagonally into pieces.

Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

Girl in Brogues / Friendmas

A super speedy, last minute post before I leave the grey skies of London for Christmas with Harpall’s family. Last night, our little group met up for Friendmas – Christmas dinner with the pals. Here were our highlights:

•  Smoked salmon blinis and rosemary and garlic baked camembert for starters. More cheese please.
•  Using a 20ml syringe to baste the chicken, then realising syringes don’t cope well with fatty drippings.
•  Cracking open fortune cookies – I do have a unique personality!
•  Aarani carving the chicken like an absolute pro.
•  Home Alone 2 playing in the background.
• THE GRAVY – best gravy I have ever had. No lie. Harpall made it with slow-cooked caramelised onions, chicken stock and gravy granules.
•  Having a useful Christmas cracker gift for once! A star shaped cookie cutter!
•  Realising Harpall with a Christmas hat looks exactly like Jughead from the Archie comics.
•  A VERY close game of Articulate – and realising I can’t use the hint “It sounds like hungry!” for the word Hungary. Still won though. Hah!
•  Mulled wine with clementine pieces in milk bottles. So hipster.
•  I have broken my bad brownie spell! I made some pretty fly cheesecake brownies.
•  Worrying about pouring half a litre of water on top of sticky toffee pudding mix – then seeing it turn out exactly right when it came out!
•  Playing the infamous Scrubs “finger or toe?” game with Mel when she fell asleep.
•  Exchanging Secret Santa presents (not so secret due to Mel’s big mouth!). I got a bear tote bag, festive socks, flamingo cocktail sticks and ANNA MAE’S MAC AND CHEESE COOKBOOK! YESSSS.
•  Ending the night with watching A Haunted House (a spoof of Paranormal Activity). So stupid, but still kinda funny!

Hope you all have a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

Girl in Brogues / Columbia Road Christmas Market

A collection of snapshots from my visit to the Wednesday Christmas Market at Columbia Road last week. It was as near as you could come to Christmas magic in East London – bright and shiny shop fronts, the smell of mulled wine in the air and carolling at one end of the road for everyone to join in. Although the usual flower market stalls were gone, there was still a squeeze to go into shops; my tip is hit it before peak time at 7pm. We snaked through the crowds, longing for beautiful glass-blown baubles and stalks of winter berries. If you fancy a nibble, try Lily Vanilli’s bakery, which is located in a small courtyard on the back streets. The smell from that shop is just wonderful; I kept walking back just to have another sniff! The last Christmas market this year is tomorrow night from 5pm – a perfect opportunity to grab some last minute, unique gifts!

Columbia Road Christmas Market
Wednesday 23rd December, 5-9pm
London E2 7RG
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