Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas At Kew Gardens | A Photo Tour

If there was a Christmas attraction I would visit all the time this has to be it. As it was my first time visiting I was not sure what to expect, but this was definitely beyond anything I could have imagined.

Join me for a little photo tour...

Entering from Victoria Gate, you are greeted by talking trees...


... only to move towards to singing trees, chanting Carol of the Bells, one of my favourite Christmas songs.


Noteworthy trees of the park along the trail had been decorated with lights so that we would not miss them.


I love how beautiful Christmas lights are.


This was one of my favourite installations! 
5 golden rings...

five golden rings

...4 calling birds...

Christmas at Kew

...3 french hens...

Christmas at Kew

...2 turtle doves...

Christmas at Kew

...and a partridge in a pear tree!

Christmas at Kew

This rotating disco ball heart made this section of the park feel like a dancefloor. I would definitely be up for a party under it.

Christmas at Kew

Going through this tunnel you could end up somewhere magical... oh wait, you already are somewhere magical. Never mind.

Christmas at Kew

Yes, I was quite excited in that tunnel.

Christmas at Kew

Magical light flowers.

Christmas at Kew

A beehive made of light! I think this might be part of the regular attractions but do not quote me on this.

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

Candlesticks or chess pieces?

Christmas at Kew

These elves called us in to create magic and summon Santa!

Christmas at Kew

At the end of the trail a magical light show!

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

If you want to do some cheeky shopping while you are there you can not only get the usual Kew Gardens souvenirs but also some some Christmas decorations and gifts.

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

As I said at the beginning, I would gladly come back to this attraction. In an ideal world, I would even get a few of the singing trees for my garden (this ideal world also involves me having a garden). I 100% recommend going to this, it is the real winter wonderland, and if you only can afford to do one thing because of time or money this should be it!

Do let me know if you have been here before and what you thought and if you go after reading this, do tell me if you had a good time.

All the best
Kristine

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The 17th Century Coffeehouse Tour

When Pasqua Rosee brought his vile tasting brown liquid to the streets of London, in the area near Bank, it was going to change the city forever! If you care to step through time and take a walk in 17th Century London, Unreal City Audio's founder, Dr Matthew Green, has a magical story to tell you.

first London coffee house blue plaque

The Coffee House Tour, offers a brilliant insight into 17th Century London society and how coffee transformed business in London forever. Brewed with ground coffee beans, mustard (sugar was too expensive a sweetener) and egg shells, most likely to make it look more exotic and strange  than to provide additional flavour, what is now a daily pleasure for most of us had groundbreaking effects on London citizens as I came to find out. For the first time in ages, men started sobering up from all the daily watered down ale they normally drank and business took off!

Dr Matthew Green Coffee House Tour

Dr Green takes us on a tour of significant locations around the Bank area, sites of 17th and 18th century coffee houses and analyses topics ranging from the layout and behaviour of the patrons of coffee houses to the effect they had on the society that embraced the concept and made them popular.

pasqua Rosee coffee house

With the help of Pasqua himself (well, close enough anyway) the empty streets of Bank on an early Saturday morning are filled with the sound of 'the Turk' advertising his magical elixir to approaching customers, reading excerpts from The Men's Answer To The Women's Petition Against Coffee (London, 1674), and more.

Dr Matthew Green Coffee House Tour

For those of you who have not read the petition, here's the main quote you need to know: Coffee collects and settles the Spirits, makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a spiritualescency to the Sperme, and renders it more firm and suitable to the Gusto of the womb, and proportionate to the ardours and expectation too, of the female Paramour. Basically, coffee is good for sex.

London Coffee House Tour

Dr Green does a magnificent job setting the scene of what a 17th century coffee house would look like on the inside and how its patrons behaved typically; this communal spirit of conversation and exchanging information has long since ceased and disappeared from modern day cafes.

Unreal City Audio Coffee House Tour

The world of the 17th and 18th century coffee houses can only be seen in old iron signs and blue plaques commemorating what once was but coffee itself has survived the test of time and lucky for us now tastes so much better. Don't take my word for it, a sip of the coffee you will try at the start of the tour is enough to convince you (unless you normally drink black turkish coffee, in which case it was very close to that but with mustard and eggshells, which Dr Green does not include).

Unreal City Audio Coffee House Tour

At the end of the tour Dr Green poses a question to us in the modern era, asking us to consider why we no longer use modern coffeehouses as a space where we can interact and encourages us to talk to a stranger next time we are in one; ask for some new information and be more social. It is worth a shot.

Unreal City Audio Coffee House Tour

You can find more info on future Coffee House tours here; there is one every month. If you are busy and can not make it, there is the option to download an audio tour version of it, featuring more actors and cinematic sounds that create an immersive aural experience, which you can have at your own time.

Unreal City Audio Coffee House Tour

I thoroughly recommend this tour to anyone who loves London, history or coffee. If you love all three then it is an absolute must. Dr Green manages to combine his passion for the topic, extensive knowledge and engaging personality to create what is probably the closest to time travel a tour can offer, making it a unique London experience that should not be missed.


Friday, 10 June 2016

Prague Trip: What To Drink!

Prague is a wonderful city, vibrant and full of people walking in the narrow streets of Praha 1. Now, a lot of them happen to be there on holiday, looking to party and have a good time. And as it happens, alcohol is usually a big part of their experience. If you are new to Prague and don't know where to start, this should be a great starting point with a few suggestions on what to drink!

ABSINTHE

what to drink in Prague

Absinthe is big in Prague. You will see the tourist shops and various corner stores stocking a variety of absinthe types as well as other absinthe flavoured items, such as absinthe chocolate. The proper way to drink absinthe is to slowly pour drops of iced water into it, as they pass through a spoon with holes with an ice cube on top. The water slowly melts the sugar and allows the mixture to blend properly. Also it looks really cool.

Hemingway Bar Prague


Hemingway Bar near Charles Bridge is a good place to go try that. The staff is quite friendly and they will help you select what absinthe you will enjoy better and explain the process. They also do good cocktails.

Hemingway Bar Prague

Sidenote 1: Hemingway has never been to this bar. They just named it after him because he liked absinthe.
Sidenote 2: Remember to be quiet when in Prague bars, as loud customers may be asked to leave. It is actually illegal to make noise after hours.

what to drink in Prague

WINES

what to drink in Prague

You will find that Czech wine is really tasty, so I recommend ordering some with your meal at a restaurant. I usually prefer red but the white is pretty good too. Alternatively, hot sweet wine is also available from numerous street vendors, much like mulled wine here around Christmas time. In terms of flavour though it uses apples instead of oranges so think of hot sangria instead.

what to drink in Prague

BEER

black beer Prague

Of course beer is on our list, as most people going to Prague are there to try its beer.

Prague Urquell pilsner

While you can order a beer pretty much anywhere you go, most places will only carry few brands, usually Urquell, Kozel and Staropramen.

Prague black beer

What was unusual for me is that despite the brand your options will most of the time be light beer (lager), dark beer (kind of like sweet ale) or mixed (actually mixing the two apparently).

Czech Lion beer

In order to try some more specialised beers the best option is to go to a brewery that makes its own or visit one of the numerous beer museums advertised on TripAdvisor.

Czech Lion Prague

One lovely beer surprise was this chocolate flavoured one that we found on the way to the castle. Very tasty and I totally recommend it.

chocolate beer Prague

There are also always non alcoholic options and very low alcohol ones like the lemon Staropramen.

Staropramen beer Prague

BECHEROVKA & FERNET

John Lennon Pub Prague

These two traditional herbal liqueurs are more of an acquired taste. They can be used to create cocktails but since they were so different I decided to try them on their own. I have to admit it was a bit of a struggle drinking it and I'd probably not get the bottle but it's good to try them once. The John Lennon pub is a good place for a pit stop for some drinks.

John Lennon Wall

BOMBARDINO

Bombardino italian drink

While originally an Italian drink, a lot of Prague bars will be offering this drink in their menu. It is a mix of Advocaat or eggnog with brandy and it's served warm. It tasted like a hot Cadbury egg and I liked it a lot. If you have the chance you should give it a try.

bombardino egg liqueur

Whatever drinks you like, just wander around the city and stop at as many cafes, bars and pubs as you can. Since there's something to discover around every corner, Prague is not a place to go to one bar and drink all night. So, go out and explore with your legs, eyes and mouths!

Prague street view

Have you been to Prague before? What drinks did you enjoy? Leave a comment to let me know.

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buzzoole code