Sunday, 1 January 2017

Reykjavik, Iceland: A City Guide


The last time I visited Iceland was eight years ago, to celebrate a friend's 25th birthday. It was such a unique and beautiful place I've been wanting to return ever since, and last month Tom and I finally had chance to explore the land of fire and ice.


Since visiting back in 2008, the number of tourists visiting Iceland has exploded. In 2008 visitor numbers to Iceland were around 500,000 and by last year numbers had risen to 1.3 million. The city itself did look busier than when I last visited (which may be in part due to the fact we visited around the time of the Iceland Airwaves festival) and a lot of new bars and takeaways have popped up (including a Dunkin' Donuts.. eh...). But this compact city has retained its charm, with cosy coffee shops and heaps of great restaurants to visit, as well as the stunning Harpa music hall which was built in 2011.

Here are some of my favourite places found in Iceland's capital. I'd love to go back and take a road trip around the island, off the beaten track. (Tip: if you would like to hire a car in Iceland to explore the island you'll need a credit card, something we sadly didn't have!) If you're visiting, you can also check out my Google Map of Reykjavik here.



1. Café Babalú
Recommended by one of my friends, Babalu was just a couple of streets away from our Air BnB. It's full of various quirky objects and the food is super cheap compared to most Icelandic eateries. It's also great for veggies. We tried the toasted cheese, and the veggie chilli which was very hearty! Make sure you check out the downstairs loo - it's unlike any other!

I also must give a shout out to another great veggie-friendly restaurant called Gló (also recommended by Janet) which is a health food restaurant that offers 4 different dishes each day using tasty organic ingredients. Yum.



2. Hallgrímskirkja
For some reason on my first visit I neglected to visit this beautiful church, situated on the top of a hill overlooking the city. Tom and I were lucky enough to walk in on a choir rehearsal which was really magical. If you climb to the top you get a great view of Reykjavik's pretty coloured houses looking out to sea.





3. Record Shops
Reykjavik is a very musical city, and if crate digging is your thing, then don't miss a trip to one of its record shops. 12 Tónar is a bit of an institution in the city that stocks many Icelandic artists and often hosts instore performances during Iceland Airwaves festival.



4. The Laundromat Cafe
This popular cafe was always busy, and a little pricey but still worth a visit for their toasted sandwiches and tasty fries. And downstairs is the actual laundromat, if you fancy washing some clothes while you sip your coffee...



5. Harpa
Make sure to talk a walk around this amazing building, which hosts concerts (Bjork was playing there when we visited, but of course it was mega expensive boohoo!)




6. The Phallological Museum
We'd heard talk of a penis museum and couldn't resist a trip there to see what it was all about! The museum started when an Icelandic man started collecting whale penises, his collection then grew (ahem) when other people started sending him other unusual animal penises. There is also a human one in there, which... let's just say it rather put me off my dinner.





7. Freddi Arcade
If you're a fan of retro videogames you may want to take a trip to Freddi. Full of old arcade games with rooms upstairs for gamers to settle down - and the owner also has a very cute dog!


8. The Handknitting Association of Iceland
If you're in search of the perfect chunky jumper (or 'lopapeysa') then head to this shop for an authentic Nordic knitwear and unspun yarn from Icelandic sheep. If you can't quite afford to buy one from there (they cost upwards of £100..) then you could try the Kolaportid flea market (pictured above) near the harbour.

9. Great Coffee Shops
There is an abundance of cosy coffee cafes in Iceland, including the renowned Reykjavik Roasters, and Mokka Kaffi, the interior of which is unchanged since serving Iceland's first espresso in the 1950s. We also loved visiting Brauð & Co bakery where people queue for freshly made bread and pastries (pictured at the top).


If you're a fan of the Coen brothers comedy, don't miss a trip to this Lebowski-themed bar on the main street. Get there during happy hour for cheap beer/wine, and of course it would be rude not to sample a White Russian while you are there.



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Friday, 14 October 2016

Film Friday: Bumper edition!

Film Friday is back! I have seen lots of great films over the last few months so I thought I'd share a few of them here. If you saw any of the following, do let me know what you made of them too!


CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
Plot Viggo Mortenson plays an unconventional father who raises his six children off the grid. They survive by eating wild animals and camping out in the forest (although they somehow always manage to look super clean!). When they receive some upsetting news they are thrust back into 'normal' society.
Guest appearances Fans of Amazon Prime series Transparent will recognise Kathryn Hahn, who plays a slightly similar character to Raquel in this film.
Fun facts Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave this film 1 star out of 5 in his review. A wee bit harsh perhaps but it has divided opinion!
Overall I couldn't quite decide if I liked this film or not! To me the second half had quite a few plot holes and Viggo Mortenson's character didn't warm on me. But it brought up some interesting points on rearing children outside of society's norms. Don't be misled by the 'Little Miss Sunshine' style promo, this is a dark comedy drama...I'd give it 3 out of 5.


BRIDGET JONES'S BABY
Plot Bridget is back! And this time she's 'with child'! I have to admit to not being part of the Bridget -brigade (I haven't seen the second film) but the latest is a fun movie to watch with friends and a glass of something fizzy.  
Guest appearances  There's an appearance by Ed Sheeran which some people may be excited by!
Fun facts Hugh Grant refused to appear in this one, so they kill him off at the beginning of the film, which is pretty amusing (not really a spoiler as the film opens at his funeral!).
Overall I felt a tiny bit let down by the slightly predictable ending. Also the film makes you feel slightly old when you see clips of the original (and how different Renee Zelleger looked back then.. as well as Firth!) but it's recommended for when you want to switch off and have a fun evening at the movies.

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
Plot  Set in the beautiful bushland of New Zealand, a couple adopt a rebellious child who then takes off with his foster uncle, sparking a man hunt!
Guest appearances The director of of this (and What We Do in the Shadows) makes an appearance as does Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby.
Fun facts The film broke box office records in its native New Zealand.
Overall Fans of Flight of the Conchords (and quirky comedy in general) will love this! Super fun.


AMANDA KNOX
Plot  
This recent Netflix documentary looks at the infamous murder case, where British student Meredith Kercher was found brutally killed while studying in Italy in 2007. American student Amanda Knox was arrested along with her Italian boyfriend and put to trial by media, earning her the terrible nickname 'Foxy Knoxy.'
Guest appearances Knox is interviewed, along with her partner at the time. Also featured are the bumbling Italian chief of police (who admits he really wants to be Sherlock Holmes) and a barely believable villainous Daily Mail reporter who really makes you angry.
Overall An interesting look at the trial which makes you frustrated at the sexism of the tabloids and the way the trial was mishandled overall. If you enjoyed Making a Murderer then give this a watch.


MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE
Plot I've been waiting for this to come out for what seems like forever! Louis Theroux's first feature film delves into the mysterious world of Scientology. He speaks to an ex-member and tries to enter the church's headquarters.
Fun facts In the post-film Q&A which I watched via satellite last Monday, Louis admitted his frustrations upon hearing that a similar documentary was being made at the same time. As he has trouble finding any scientologists who are willing to appear in the film, Louis's film takes a somewhat less serious approach.
Guest appearances: Louis employs actors to play the parts of church leader David Miscavige as well as Tom Cruise. It all goes a bit 'weird weekends'!
Overall I always enjoy Louis's documentaries and this one had many funny moments. If you're looking for an entertaining look at the world of Scientology I'd recommend this. For a more in-depth history of Scientology I'd also recommend Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick



Last weekend I went down to London to see the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at Somerset House. It was bigger than I expected, with around 40 exhibits by different artists, who'd been invited to submit works on a theme of their choice inspired by Kubrick's films.

The exhibition has been very popular, and when we went it was pretty crowded but we all really enjoyed it. There was a wide range of work, some good and some not so good, as well as a VR experience inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey which was particularly popular. The exhibition ends this week, if you haven't had chance to visit here's a few pictures from my visit.





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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Food in Notts: Veggie Fish & Chips in The New (Old) Angel



Last time I was walking through Hockley I noticed that the 'Old Angel' pub was looking a little different. Back when I moved here it was known as a metal/rock pub and was also the original home of Annie's Burgers, which, since moving to it own premises in the Lace Market, is now one of Nottingham's most popular eateries.

The Old Angel has now dropped the 'Old' and been turned into The Angel Micro-brewery by the owners of Nottingham vegetarian cafe bar, the Alley Cafe. I dropped in for a bite to eat last Monday to try it out and it was looking lovely (although I couldn't help missing the Old Angel just a little bit and wondering where its previous residents were now drinking!). I'm also intrigued to see the micro brewery side of the pub which is still being finished.

Menu: The menu is helpfully divided into 'Herbivore' & 'Carnivore' sections, meaning us veggies don't have to pore over it trying to decipher what the best option is. All the veggie options can also be made vegan. I tried a halloumi 'fish & chips' (can never resist halloumi) and it was very tasty indeed!
Value for money? My meal was £8.95 which wasn't bad, and there are lighter options on the menu for lunch.
Added bonus: a friendly dog was in residence when we visited, never a bad thing!
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Thursday, 11 August 2016

10 Years of Indietracks

This year marked ten whole years of Derbyshire's brilliant indie-pop festival, Indietracks. I attended the first 'official' festival back in 2007 so thought I'd share some memories of steam trains, trampolines and sunsets from the last decade.

2007 - Indietracks Festival #1!





Ooh the excitement...

 Watching Finnish band 'Cats on Fire'

Fond memories of this trampoline... they need to bring this back!

 2008 - Indietracks # 2 (aka 'the one with all the animals')









2011 - Indietracks # 5 (aka the one with 3 Toms)




 Tom meets Tom & Tom..


 Bumped into fellow blogger Theodora

Tom gets lost in a field

2012 - Indietracks # 6 (aka 'the one where it rained')






 Just found this picture of Sugar Paper Zine's stall...



2014 - Indietracks #8





 I bumped into Becca of The Weekend Collective


Made my own record player

2015 - Indietracks #9

 Janet & I happily snapping away...


 My friend Heather's band, Feature rockin' the indoor stage




And finally..

2016 - Tenth anniversary!

 Seeing bands play on trains is part of the fun




 Can crushing!


 Me & my friend Laura (who also featured in year #2!)
 Knitting whilst watching bands, sums up Indietracks pretty well!


The sun went down as 90s popsters Saint Etienne closed Saturday's set, before letting off giant balloons into the crowd! Well done Indietracks, on ten great years and many happy memories.

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