Saturday, 26 October 2013

A mini guide to Bruges

I must admit, Belgium was never top of my 'must-visit' list but after seeing there was a sale on Eurostar tickets some friends and I booked a long weekend in the beautiful medieval city of Bruges. I thought I'd share a few must-sees and a few places to avoid if you ever find yourself 'In Bruges'.


- try and visit off-season. Even in the autumn certain parts of the city get very busy with tourists, and I imagine during the height of summer it's hard to find any space to breathe. October was a lovely time to go as the autumn leaves looked beautiful, and though the weather was hit and miss it was still warm enough to drink outdoors and take a boat trip along the canals.

- hire bicycles. There is a shop just off the main square where you can hire a bike for 4 hours for 8 euros, and it was such a lovely way to explore the city. Because Bruges isn't really that big you can do a circuit of the city, stopping off for a few beer breaks along the way.

- make sure you book restaurants ahead of time. Also, it can be tricky to find good veggie options in the more traditional Belgian restaurants. You may have to opt for the salad as I did - though there's always plenty of fries to go round!

- try out the immense list of beers. I am no beer expert but the choice on offer was amazing, and I enjoyed trying some fruit beers as well. There are so many bars to explore, but Bruges seemed strangely quiet at night. We did find a lively underground bar in the end though, called t'Poatersgat which I'd recommend.

- look out for the Bruges's most famous resident, the dog in the window, who briefly appears in the film (I was sad I didn't spot him, though a couple of friends did!)

- get waffles and chocolate while you're there, mmm...


- visit the Dali museum. This may be a bit controversial, but I really didn't think it justified the 10 euro entrance fee. I thought the museum would be a lot bigger inside, and found a lot of Dali's artwork not to my taste, but if you're a fan you may think otherwise!

- end up at one of the touristy restaurants because you panicked and forgot to book on a Saturday night!

- forget your umbrella - we got caught in a few heavy downpours while in the city, but this partly added to the fun!

- take Colin Farrell's word for it - Bruges is in no way a shit-hole!

- take a wheelie suitcase, most of Bruges's streets are cobbled which makes for a very bumpy journey across town

- go to Brussels. Ha. We spent a day there before heading back on the Eurostar, thinking it would be fun to explore, but were disappointed after the beauty of Bruges to find Brussels to be confusing to navigate and a bit of a building site when we came out of the train station. We spent about three hours trying to walk to to the nicer bit in the centre! My real advice would be to make sure you have a guide book and map of the city, and know where you want to end up. We did find a beautiful old square in the end, but sadly couldn't visit the Comic Strip Centre as it was shut on a Monday. (Tintin and the Smurfs are both Belgian creations so look out for them throughout the city!)

Friday, 25 October 2013

Film Friday: Le Week-End

Hello again after a little blogging hiatus (I was in Bruges for several days - I'll write a mini guide to the city on here soon!).

Before my little trip on the Eurostar, Tom and I went to see a film which starts in a similar way - Le Week-End. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play a couple who have been together for 30 years and decide to take a train to Paris to celebrate their anniversary and rejuvenate their relationship. The film reminded me in parts of Before Midnight, as some of Duncan's stinging remarks to her husband are quite painful to watch, but there are sweet and funny moments as well. The film takes a darker turn later on, but Jeff Goldblum provides a bit of comic relief. Tom and I were probably the youngest in the cinema, as the film seemed to attract the over 50s, but I enjoyed it anyway!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Lovely Links

+Write a letter to the future & this site will deliver it to your email in a year or even ten years' time (via emma blue)
+ It's now the perfect time to make an autumn song playlist! My friend Tom alerted me to Falling for autumn by Lullatone which makes a lovely soundtrack to this time of year
+ 30 signs you're almost 30 - can you relate?!
+ Ikea or Death Metal band
+ Girls Season 3 trailer - done in an instagram stylee
+ Think you have a lot of cameras? Not compared to this guy. (via the photo parlour)
+ If you like lists you'll enjoy browsing (i have already wasted way too long on this site..)
96 year old writes a heartbreaking song to his deceased wife (get ready to tear up!)

Film Friday: Blue Jasmine

Last week I went to see the latest film by Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine. I enjoyed the film, and agree it's one of Woody's better films of the last few years although none of its characters are particularly likeable! Cate Blanchett was very good at portraying the lead role of Jasmine, a troubled New Yorker who arrives in San Francisco to stay with her more down-to-earth sister, played by Sally Hawkins. There's also a guest role from Louis CK, and quite a few other familiar faces pop up as the film goes on. Some of the story elements don't quite ring true (I won't mention any spoilers!) and Jasmine's character grated a little on me after a while but there are quite a few funny and poignant moments throughout the film which make it definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

October Happenings

So the autumn is officially here, and it's not been bad at all so far! There have been sunny days aplenty, making for weekends full of outdoor dining, cider and bike rides along the canal. There's also been lots going on in Nottingham, including another Pretty Dandy Flea, this time in the Vintage Warehouse in Hockley (err not too sure if this means the warehouse is shutting down as all the clothes seem to have gone!) 

I had a go at mono-printing too (a lot of fun!) and produced the slightly terrifying cat print below!

And today I popped into the new pop-up shop situated in The Corner, in the Lace Market which is stocking some of our travel zines as part of Memories of the Future. So exciting to see them in a real-life shop, hurrah! The shop is only around til Saturday though so try and pay them a visit if you're local to Nottingham, there's lots of brilliant locally made goods on offer.


Artwork above by comic-artist, Sally Jane Thompson

A few other things this month I'm looking forward to this month:
- A long weekend break in Bruges in a couple of weeks (if anyone has any tips on where to go there please let me know!)
- Going on a Ghost Walk around Nottingham 
- Halloween - we are going to a screening of Don't Look Now in a church in town as part of Mayhem horror festival, pretty exciting!
- Making a handmade piƱata and celebrating the Day of the Dead on November 1st

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Home Tour: Inside the Convent

When Tom and I were on the lookout for a place to move in together, I stumbled across a listing for a flat inside an old convent. I initially thought it would be quite old and musty, so was pleasantly surprised when we were shown around. We decided to go for it and we moved in to the flat around two and a half years ago. I thought it would be nice to share a few photos of our home and share a bit of its history.

The Convent was built just over a hundred years ago, and used to be home to the Sisters of Mercy (er, not the band!), who are actually buried in the churchyard nearby (pretty spooky). Apparently by around the year 2000 there was only a handful of them still living inside the large building so they moved into a smaller residence, and the convent was converted into flats. Although the building has been updated there are still lots of original features, including numerous beautiful stained glass windows. There's also a chapel which you can hire for parties, which we'd definitely miss should we choose to move out!

"Sunshine... moonlight... good times.. boogie"

 My favourite thing, the massive bookshelves in our living room! (which we managed to fill way too easily..!)

 Our kitchen with bunting made for an outdoor party a few years ago

Photobooth pics, yeeeah.

Stained glass windows in the corridor

Poster from cat museum the KattenKabinet in Amsterdam.

I will never get tired of this view!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Q&A with Bird in Borrowed Feathers

I'm always excited when I spot an interesting new shop here in Nottingham, so was delighted to see one had opened up in the West End ArcadeBird in Borrowed Feathers is a pretty little gift shop that sells handmade items by local designers & makers. I caught up with the shop owners, sisters Hannah and Georgie, to ask them about their motivation for setting up a bricks & mortar shop.

Hi Hannah & Georgie, first up can you tell us a little about yourselves? 

G - We’re from a small town in Wiltshire, we came to Nottingham to study at NTU.  My degree is in modern languages but I like to craft but I don’t have the patience! But I spend most of my spare time baking cakes!

H - I studied Decorative Arts and graduated in 2011, I specialised in hand screen printed textiles, but also tried out lots of other areas within art and design, textiles and ceramics being my favourite.  I’ve always loved art and design and couldn’t imagine having a career that wasn’t within the arts! I also run my own business, separate to the shop, working from my tiny home studio, designing and making a range of illustrative tote bags, prints and jewellery.

What inspired you to set up a new handmade gift shop?

H - Having my own shop has been a dream of mine for a long time! We love being able to support new and established designers and makers, and of course being able to showcase such a fantastic array of handmade goodies.

What made you choose West End Arcade as your premises?

H - We decided on the West End Arcade as it was the most financially viable for us at the moment, we thought it would be a great little start up shop! The arcade also seems to be improving and there are some really great shops here at the moment.

What's your favourite item in the shop (if you had to choose!)

G - I love anything with dinosaurs at the moment so it would have to be the Becka Griffin Alphabet of Dinosaurs or the jewellery by Designosaur  YEAH!

H - The dinosaurs are fantastic, although I’m a huge fan of prints, my home is filled with artwork, so I’d have to say the new Space Cat screen print that we’ve just received by Bird House Press.

What do you have planned in the coming few months?

H - Over the next few months we are starting to focus on Christmas! We’re receiving lots of Christmas stock ready to put out and we’ll also hopefully be doing a few fairs around November and December to promote both the shop and all our lovely designers.

What are your favourite places in Nottingham to shop, drink and dance?

H - My favourite place to shop varies, but I love little independent shops like Le Chien Et Moi, Atomic and A Vintage Obsession. We love popping into the Malt Cross for drinks, it has a lovely atmosphere, as for dancing, I try not to!!

Thanks Hannah & Georgie! If you're local to Nottingham do pop into their brand new shop, and if not you can browse some of the items for sale here.
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