Travel: Tokyo Part 1 – Imperial Palace Gardens, Chiyoda & Akihabara

Wide shot of Akihabara in Tokyo at night

Back in June I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo. For those of you that don’t know, my day job alongside the wedding photography is as a Creative Producer for a digital agency. As part of an ongoing project, I was being sent to direct and produce a series of videos for one of our biggest clients. The shoot itself was a week along, and I decided to extend my first ever trip to Japan by tacking on just under a week of holiday. I was going alone and before I went it seemed like this big terrifying thing. I was super excited but in the back of my mind was thinking ‘what if I can’t direct this, how do I direct a Japanese crew, what if this is just way out my depth’. As for the solo travelling time I was equally nervous – I’ve always wanted to travel alone, I just didn’t think the first time would be right on the other side of the world.

All of this worry, was of course completely unnecessary. I HAD THE BEST TIME. Although I struggled with jet lag horrendously for the first week, which meant I was running off about 2/3 hours of sleep every day on the shoot, I had a blast. The crew were so lovely and everything went really well – this week the videos were pretty much signed off. No mean feat considering I was editing in a foreign language. My lovely client took us out for some great evenings in Tokyo – we had traditional sushi, dined with our shoes off and with the locals at an Izakaya (a Japanese pub), and wiled away the time looking at some crazy goods in Don Quijote.

Holding a tropical cocktail with Tokyo skyline behind

We were staying near Akasaka/ Roppongi and on the only evening that week I was left to fend for myself, I nervously set off to try and find myself some dinner. As 1) a vegan in Tokyo and 2) a tourist, finding dinner was harder than I thought. I was at first too intimidated to go into what I thought of as the ‘proper local places’ – the hidden doorways which seat about 5 people, and no english menu or photos of the dishes – that was something I had to build up to. However, I ended up having a great night in Akasaka at the ‘Champagne and Gyoza Bar‘. It does what it said on the tin.. I had some yummy mimosas whilst eating the best veggie gyozas I’ve ever had! One thing I actually regret for my trip, was not taking many photos of food while there…. it was all so good!!

Before Tokyo, I wasn’t used to eating out by myself, but now I am a huge fan. Especially being abroad, being out to eat alone is an amazing opportunity to just watch the world go by, or read – I got through A LOT of books! Now my opinion of eating out alone has completely changed and I would do it happily for some time out.

Imperial Palace Tokyo looking gloomy with a grey sky

On the first day after the shoot wrapped, 1) I woke up feeling a bit fragile after having too many celebratory cocktails at the top of the Intercontinental 2) Excited/nervous that I was now all on my todd! This was also the first day where I got over my jetlag.. it only took 5 days.. :/

Girl with pink hair taking selfie in Tokyo's imperial palace gardens

Peaceful traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo

I had a vague list of the various areas in Tokyo that I wanted to see, and the first on my list was around the Imperial Palace, as it was walking distance from the hotel. I set off and had the best day! It was about an hour walk to the Imperial Palace and I loved seeing the locals out about in the Palace Gardens on their Saturday morning – joggers, tourists, painters. The Imperial Palace Gardens themselves were beautiful and I really enjoyed the museum there which showed some of the Palace artefacts/art. The whole time I was thinking how lucky I was to be able to spend my Saturday here. After the gardens, I walked back to the hotel via Hibiya Park where I sat and watched hoards of people playing Pokemon, and several locals painting.

Fountain near the Imperial Palace gardens in Tokyo

For my big Saturday night out in Tokyo, I headed to Akihabara, the famous ‘electronics’ sector of Tokyo, known for its video gaming. I always think the best way to see a place is to walk, so I got my trainers back on and took on the hour walk from my hotel, seeing the North of the Palace Gardens and a new neighbourhood. I knew when I had hit Akihabara  – it is exactly what you imagine Tokyo to be. An onslaught to the senses – bright lights, tall buildings and people everywhere! The rest of my day had been very sedate and quiet so this was a colourful welcome into the Tokyo most people think of. I went straight into one of the Sega buildings which is basically 5 floors of arcade and video games. You could so easily spend all day here. I spent the evening playing Mario Cart, Super Mario Bros, Tetris and generally watching everyone else go about their Saturday night. It was so fun – I could have stayed on Super Mario Bros forever for the nostalgia but sadly I ran out of coins.

Pokemon Pikachu toys in arcade games in Tokyo

After working up an appetite I set off to find a vegan restaurant I had noted down in the area. After looking for around 30 minutes and not finding it, I decided I would have to face the unknown! I ended up finding what looked like a tourist-free place, but they had an english menu. A lot of the restaurants in Tokyo are tiny affairs – you sit around a small bar with around 10 seats and the food is served from there. It was one of those places that had originally looked a bit too intimidating, but I went for it! The lovely chef gave me the english menu, but little did I know you have to order from a vending machine – common practice over there. Gracefully he showed me what to do, speaking no english, then left me to it. After about 5 minutes of figuring out how to put the money in, I had successfully ordered something (I wasn’t quite sure if I had ordered what I wanted or if some sort of meat heavy dish was coming my way!). The evening before I had to navigate my first vending machine without any help, and had unwittingly managed to order a chicken dish and two large dishes of rice :/ Luckily, I had been successful this time and had the best aubergine tempura, cucumber and rice dish and sake I had ever tasted. The chef was super lovely and even tried to talk to me using Google Translate. I walked the hour back, hitting over 30k steps. I went to bed feeling super accomplished and grateful for my first day in Tokyo.

More to come! xx

London Life: Exploring the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios

As part of my extended birthday celebrations, my other half got tickets for us to explore the Harry Potter Studios. I’d never been and I’ve personally always loved the books more than the films. I guess it’s because I grew up reading them – pretty much every birthday from around aged 8 to my teenage years, I got the newest book as it came out, and devoured it.

Monster Books at the Warner Bros Studios

For this reason I had never seen the films, but my other half got me the box set for Christmas (definitely a theme running through my gifts and I guess it was because of my moaning that I wanted to go to to the studios).

I crammed in the last 4 films of the series last week so I was all set before we went to the studios. I loved these later ones, way more dramatic and the acting was improved! They also made me pretty sad that Alan Rickman has left us – his portrayal of Snape was one of the best parts of the series.

We arrived at the studios a little early so excitedly went to check out the gift store, both saying that we wouldn’t spend much money (more on that later!). After gazing lovingly at all the memorabilia we headed into the tour. I won’t give much away about the entrance, but walking into the Great Hall was pretty exciting! It was a shame we got rushed through a bit quickly, I guess because of the next tour coming in, but it was great to see a set that has become so iconic in film.

After the Great Hall you can walk around the various other internal sets and props from the films. My favourites were the Gryffindor common room and Dumbledore’s office. They really made me feel like I was actually in one of the films.

Dumbledore's office set bathed in blue light with model of Dumbledore

You wouldn’t believe the amount of detail that had gone into creating this magical world. I was amazed at the sheer amount of props – a lot of them even designed to move in a magical way.

Gryffindor common room set with rustic armchairs and red wallpaper

The Weasley's Burrow from Harry Potter the movies

We got to explore the Forbidden Forest, Privet Drive, Diagon Alley and try Butterbeer (which actually is not that nice, but it had to be tried). The studios even had a full size fake Kings’ Cross, complete with a Hogwarts Express train!

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Bohemian girl posing next to the Privet Drive sign at

Of course, the crowning glory was the model of Hogwarts itself, which took up a huge room all to itself!

Hogwarts model at Warners Bros Studios

We ended up coming home with a few goodies from the gift shops – notepads for both of us (sucker for good stationery), and Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. We played as soon as we got home and I can confirm its a worthy buy for any HP fan!

On a side, I took my Fuji XT2 with me for this day trip and was a bit disappointed by the low light performance. Most of the photos you’ll see here were actually taken on my phone! However, I did love it on my day trip to Whitstable – check out the blog here.

In other news, I have one more wedding to shoot and then my 2018 season is over! The summer has flown. If you’re getting married in 2019, drop me a message before your date gets booked up! x

 

 

 

What I loved this month: August 2018

30th garden party with yellow and pink tropical theme

There was a lot to be loved this month! On the wedding front, I deliberately kept this month free so I could take a little break to catch up on wedditing and take some time off for my 30th birthday. It was a pretty good idea, and I’m now feeling pretty fresh and raring to go! So heres my monthly roundup:

  1. Cookbook Meal Prepping

I’m huge on my fitness and normally always have my meals planned out in advance, because I’m a big nerd like that. It also really helps when you’re vegan – although in London its super easy, sometimes its still difficult to find vegan options when out and about. I find it super relaxing to cook so have enjoyed planning out meals on a Sunday with my ‘River Cottage: More Veg’ cookbook then having everything ready to go for the rest of the week. I’ve tried a ton of new dishes and looking forward to doing more of the same next weekend 🙂 What are your fav cookbooks?

2. Zero Waste Products

Over the past few months, I’ve been gradually switching more and more towards zero waste. I started with a Chilly’s bottle and that changed my life so after that have continued. My biggest change has been in my bathroom. I used to hate having to throw away make up wipes everyday, and then empty shampoo and shower gel bottles. I bought reuse-able face wipes from Cheeky Wipes and they are so good – it feels great not to be filling up my bin everyday! I’ve also ditched the bottles and got myself a Lush Shampoo bar and some gorgeous lavender soap from The Little Soap Company . Both smell amazing and I think the shampoo bar will last for ages! Thank you to my lovely friends I also got some reuse-able birthday goodies – an extra large Chillys bottle for cycling with, and a portable set of stainless steel cutlery!

3. Tropical Themed Birthday Party

With the big 3-0 this month, I wanted to really push the boat and make it memorable. I always think you should celebrate a birthday – any excuse to change from the day to day, and gather all your friends in one place. Me and my twin set about planning our tropical themed birthday party, and I got so into it! Huge thank you to Jason for helping us and making the Twinny’s Tiki Bar. We also ordered a cake from Sonia’s Cakes in Southampton – it was unbelievably good! She had included all of our favourite things and kept in the tropical theme. Because I decided to have a birthday fortnight, I also had a great night clubbing at Underworld in Camden – I love reliving my 00s teenage years!

4. Alexia Clarke workouts

Having done LDN Muscle’s Bikini Guide a few times in a row, I figured it was time for a change as I had lost my funk in the gym slightly. A friend recommended me Alexia Clarke, who promises you will never do the same workout again on her plan. Her plan is a subscription based model, where you get 5 new workouts a week. I’ve been doing it for around a month now and I love it – every workout uses different equipment, mixes up regular exercises in a new way etc. I’ve definitely got my gym motivation back. Go check her out if you love weightlifting and fancy a challenge!

6. Shooting a top secret styled shoot

This month I shot my first styled wedding shoot since my destination one way back in March. The theme, by Kayleigh K Mua is incredible, and it all came together so well. I’m super proud and can’t wait for you to see the images once they are all edited and out in the world! Watch this space, but this is definitely not one you want to miss.

7. New vinyl

My beautiful friends got me some amazing vinyl goodies for my birthday, including Toto – IV and some Rough Trade vouchers which I immediately went out and spent. I treated myself to two Editors albums – a band that has been one of my favourites since their inception so many years ago now. I also bought myself Frank Turner’s ‘Be More Kind’.. before realising I already had. I clearly forgot how much I love Frank! I ended up swapping it for Haim – Days Are Gone, which is just as fab a listen 🙂 I have a little bit of credit left on the voucher, so comment below on what you think I should add to my collection next.

Wahoo, August was great, and I’m hoping September will just be great. It’s kicking off with a trip to the Harry Potter Studios, thanks to my other half who booked it as a birthday surprise 🙂 Going to totally get my nerd on … and drink butter beer for the first time! 🙂

Caroline x

London Life: Exploring Notting Hill & Kensington

Firstly, I must apologise for my very sparse blogging! This wedding season has been so full on, and trying to juggle it with a day job means blogging/social media uptake took a real hit! I can’t believe it took me so long to write this.. but here you go!

One of my new years resolutions was to explore London more, as its so easy to be lazy at the weekend, or just hang out around my local area. Back in May, on my last free weekend before wedding season madness started, I spent a beautiful sunny Sunday exploring Notting Hill & Kensington.

A purple house covered in ivy and greenery

I followed A Lady in London’s walking guide to Notting Hill which I can definitely recommend doing. It took around an hour and a half (with plenty of stops to take photos), and took me through Portabello Market, around pretty hidden Mews, and up into the residential streets of Ladbroke Grove.

As I did it on a Sunday, Portabello Market was lovely and quiet – for once I wasn’t desperate to leave the crowds behind. Blossom was still out and the colours of the buildings were so vibrant. I also came across so many gorgeous classic cars.. which seemed like they had been parked to co-ordinate with their surrounding buildings!

A classic car parked in front of a pastel house in Notting Hill

A worn white wall covered in ivy with a pastel blue door

Red front door with red rose blossom around it

After finishing the tour, I decided I would continue on to Holland Park, some where I have never been in my 10+ years of living in London! Around 15 minutes walk away, when I arrived I was surprised at how rural it felt, despite being right in the middle of time. I loved the Kyoto Garden, and can imagine on a week day it is lovely and peaceful (it was full of tourists so I didn’t stay long). Walking down through the Orangery, the flowers were in full bloom, with wisteria still hanging over the walkway.

Sunbathers lying on the lawn outside Holland Park cafe

From here, you can continue directly south to Kensington High Street, where I picked up a quick lunch and took it to Hyde Park to sunbathe. Wanting to enjoy the sun as much as possible, I walked through Kensington Gardens and up towards the Lido/Serpentine. One of these days I am going to have to try the lido – it looked like the perfect day for it as there was a pretty hefty queue! I eventually reached the other side of the park and made my way through Mayfair to get the tube home from Bond Street. I had walked for around 4 hours, covering 10km, and it was an absolutely gorgeous way to spend a Sunday. You get to see so much of London by walking, and I discovered parts of west London I have never seen before 🙂 This was also another outing for my new Fuji XT2 – its growing on me every time I take it out 🙂 The very shallow images were taken on my Canon 50mm and an adaptor.

What neighbourhoods should I explore next? Follow my board on Pinterest for ways to spend your weekend in London.

Caroline x

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What I loved this month: June 2018

Hello all! Hope you have been enjoyed the wondrous summer we seem to be having! This blog is a little bit late as June was the craziest month of the year for me. I had 3 weddings, and ended up doing a 10 day trip to Tokyo with my day job as a video producer! The month has flown by, and I can’t believe I am over the hump of my 2018 weddings season already. So here’s a round up of what I loved in June:

  1. Tokyo

I was in Tokyo directing a video shoot for 5 days and then took 5 days to myself to explore the city, as this was my first time in Japan – and my first time travelling alone.  I will be doing a separate blog on this, but will just round up by saying it is the best place. I felt so at home, and whilst everyone says Tokyo is this crazy, busy place, I actually found it very relaxing. My highlights were strolling the Imperial Palace Gardens on a Sunday, spending Saturday night playing old Sega video games in Akihabara, and vintage shopping in Shimo-Kitazawa

Akihabara skyscrapers at night in Tokyo

2. Japanese Wellness

Having visited Japan, I am so intrigued by their approach to food and wellness. I can tell you I didn’t see any overweight Japanese people while in Tokyo. On the weekend it felt like everyone was being active – so many cyclists and people out for strolls in the parks. I loved the way of eating as well – lots of smaller dishes with plenty of variety. I did struggle slightly finding vegan food places, but managed to battle on through and ate like an absolute queen while there. Below is one of my more beige meals.. but I loved the vegetable dishes I tried. I definitely want to read up more about the general Japanese approach to wellness, so if anyone can recommend any books or websites, drop me a comment below!

Vegan dining in Tokyo

3. The World Cup 

I wasn’t particularly excited about the World Cup before it started – I normally love the atmosphere but let’s face it, it’s also normally a bit depressing for England fans. I missed some of the first matches because I was in Tokyo, although did watch a Japanese game amongst the locals while I was there. Since getting back I’ve caught up a lot and the whole buzz around the England team at the moment is amazing. I haven’t enjoyed a World Cup this much since I was an early teen! It also feels like Gareth Southgate is going to be a national hero by the end of the tournament.

4. Yoga downtime 

In the peak of yoga season, it is very easy to 1) get super stressed and 2) be super achey from carrying heavy cameras around for 14 hours a day. I have been trying to do Yoga With Adriene religiously this month around my regular workouts, and it helps so much. Any photographers out there, I can suggest doing one the day after a wedding to loosen up your back and shoulders! I typically do a session right before bed and it helps send me right to sleep 🙂 After each of my long haul flights to Tokyo and back I also did this session, which I tell you – it was divine after being cramped up on a plane!

5. George Ezra 

‘Staying at Tamara’s’ really is the album of summer 2018, isn’t it? I listen to it most mornings – it’s the perfect uplift to get you in the mood for the day! I’ve also been enjoying the new Panic! at the Disco album, and Penguin Prison who I discovered the other day during a Spotify explore 🙂

Vinyl shopping in Brighton

My reading this month took a big hit – after spending most of my evenings editing, I do yoga then fall straight asleep. However, two 12 hour flights and several dinners alone in Tokyo meant I still ploughed my way through a few books:

  1. ‘Salems Lot – Stephen King. I did say in my last post how Stephen King has probably been my fav author since I was a teenager, and his books really got me through lots of travel this month! I could not put down ‘Salems Lot – the plot was definitely not what I expected but it was a terrific and chilling read. 5/5
  2. Bag of Bones – Stephen King. After finishing ‘Salem’s Lot, I chose this as the book to get my through my 12 hour flight to Tokyo. I read it on there until my eyes hurt! I’m not going to give anything away but it is another fab book and one you won’t be able to put down. 4/5

Having gone for two novels, I wanted to read a factual book next, and was researching Japanese wellness guides when I stumbled across ‘How Not To Die’. A few people have recommended this book to me, so I figured I would give it a try. I’m only about 30% of the way through but it is so fascinating! Written by a Doctor/Nutritionalist, the book goes through 15 of the major causes of premature death in humans, including the big ones like Heart Disease, and most types of cancer.  He goes on to explain the science behind each disease, and how nutrition and diet can hugely help to prevent or off set each. At so many times I have stopped and just been wow-ed by the facts he reels off. Don’t get me wrong, it is also a slightly scary book! The final section, which I haven’t got to yet, outlines how using scientific knowledge you can practically use your diet to stay healthy.  I get asked all the time why I went vegan – if anyone asks me again, I’m just going to direct them to read this book.

How Not To Die review

Hope you all enjoy July, and let me know what you’ve been enjoying! xx

Travel: Day Trip to Whitstable & First Outing for Fuji X-T2

Colourful row of houses and white picket fences on Whitstable seafront

A few weeks ago, I went to Whitstable for a day trip out of London with one of my best friends. We discussed doing some weekends away to get out the city this summer and see new places, but with busy schedules we ended up making our first attempt a day trip. For me, nothing beats a road trip, even if its a short one! I love the feeling of freedom – being able to jump in a car and go anywhere you want, at any time. 

We chose Whitstable because I know a lot of people living on the Kent coast who love it, and it was within easy driving distance (about an hour and fifteen from Wanstead in East London). Having just bought tickets to the ‘Silent Alarm’ anniversary tour that week, we pretty much listened/sang along to Bloc Party the whole way there.

Old architectural details on red brick building in Whitstable

Arriving at lunch time, we parked up in the centre of town and walked down the high street, towards the coast. The high street was just as you would want – beautifully quaint and with a true sense of being by the seaside, but not in a cheesy way. There were so many trendy boutiques and vintage stores – honestly, without restraint I could have spent a fortune.

Day trip postcard from East Quay Venue, Whitstable

We came out by the Harbour and wandered round the market – there were some really beautiful pieces of art, including some incredible landscape photography. We carried on down the seafront towards West Beach, stopping at the Old Neptune pub on the beach. Down this way, there were endless brightly coloured beach huts along the pebble shores.

Wide shot of Whitstable's west beach and the Old Neptune pub

After walking all the way down the beach, we backed up on ourselves down Island Wall. I loved walking past all the white washed buildings and choosing which home we would like to live in. They were all lovely and there was the real feeling of history. Whitstable is also home to a number of tiny alleyways leading off to who knows where!

Young woman walking past colourful beach huts

We stopped for a very traditional seaside lunch at Elliot’s, No 1 Harbour Street. Can definitely recommend it – we got chatting to our waitress, who also suggested we stop in at the New Inn pub, which we did after another coastal walk. We had headed towards the castle, which has really lovely gardens, and would be a gorgeous wedding venue! If you carry on up the seafront towards Tankerton, you pass loads more coloured beach huts, and can see for miles, out towards Clacton-On-Sea. Once we got back to the harbour, we came across the Oyster Shack. As we had already eaten, we didn’t stop in, but it would make an amazing date location or place for a beachside beer.

Over all, we had a great day on the Kent seaside, and I came home feeling like we’d had a proper break, despite only being there for the afternoon! This was also the first time I took out my new Fuji X-T2. I’ve bought it as a travel camera – it’s around half the size and weight of my Canon 5D, so definitely something more appropriate for just sticking in your handbag and carrying around all day. I can’t tell you how different I found it though – the EVF (electronic view finder) really threw me for the whole day! It’s a bizarre thing to get used to. Also just buttons being in different places, and actual dials for settings meant it took me forever to set up a photo (I always shoot in manual). It’s going to take some used to, and I can’t wait to properly test it out more after wedding season. Any images you see in this blog were taken on it, with a Fujinon XF 18-55mm. I want to gradually invest in some other lenses, but figured this was a good starting point. I’ve also bought an adaptor which means I can use my Canon lenses on it for now (only in manual focus). Photographers amongst you, keep an eye out as I will probably do a more lengthy review of the XT2 once I’ve had a good chance to play with it.

Caroline x

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What I loved this month: April 2018

Speeding through 2018 aren’t we? I’m happily sat writing this at my new desk, absorbing these moments of peace – from now, my diary is completely full booked until August. What madness, but excited for plenty of weddings and fun times.

One-Friendly-Place

This month I’ve been really focusing on trying to balance a crazy work life, with finding time to destress and relax. This has been something I’ve been increasingly working on for the past year – possibly through me getting older(!) and generally getting more mindful about how I spend my time and what makes me happy.

So in line with that, you may see some certain themes popping up in this month’s post of what I’ve been loving:

Happy Place podcast - Fearne Cotton

  1. Happy Place Podcast by Fearne Cotton

I’ve really gotten into my podcasts this year and tried out Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’ this month. They’re a joyful listen and she has some great speakers on, talking about how they find happiness and peace in their busy schedules. Dawn French was one of my favourites!

2. Exploring Scotland – The North Coast 500

So this technically was only this month, and it already feels forever a go, but our trip to Scotland at the start of April was so needed! We drove the North Coast 500, billed as the UK’s version of Highway 1.. and boy, I can see why. Driving through, there were several bits which reminded of Big Sur. It was so scenic, with ever changing landscapes – lochs, snow covered mountains, plains, the seaside.. everything you could want. I’ll write a separate blog on this as there was just so much to talk about, but I can definitely recommend this as a trip.

Wide image of Kylesku Bridge and surrounding mountains

3. Engagement season kicking off

Well, wedding season has well and truly started, with pre-wedding shoots galore this month. My first was Hollie & Jon’s Brick Lane shoot. I’ve never done a proper urban shoot like this before, so really enjoyed doing something a bit different, and these two were super lovely. Check out my blog post to see the shoot in full.

4. Throwing myself into plenty of books

I’ve read so much this month! It’s been completely blissful 🙂 This month I made it through:

  1.  The Mountain Shadow –  Gregory David Roberts. The sequel to Shantaram, I bought this immediately after I finished the first book. I have to say, I was so disappointed! The plot was just terrible, and it had all the feeling of ‘I have to write this as a follow up, but I’m not really sure where I’m going’. It had lost all the magic of the first book. Sorry, Shantaram.  2/5
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. Set in a dystopian future, I’m sure loads of people have heard about this book through the TV series. For something written in 1985, it was so ahead of it’s time in picking up on challenges the future may hold if we don’t change our way. Obviously, it took it to an extreme, but the concept was fascinating. I ploughed through this in just a week! 3.5/5
  3. Bossypants – Tina Fey. I figured I would go for something a bit lighter after the last two books, so went for Tina Fey’s autobiography. A short read, it had me laughing out loud on the tube and is worth reading if only for her responses to internet trolls. 3.5/5 

I’ve now gone old school and am reading ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – my first ever Agatha Christie novel!

5.  Whitstable

A few weeks ago, I took a random road trip with my bestie to Whitstable. It was the perfect distance away for a day trip from London, and we had a blast driving down there singing loudly to Bloc Party the whole way. Whitstable itself was gorgeous – so quaint and  relaxed, it was exactly what I wanted from a British seaside town! We walked along West Beach and stopped at the Neptune Pub, saw a ridiculous amount of coloured huts, roamed the back streets of white washed buildings, and had a traditional seaside lunch before heading home. I came back feeling like the weekend had been really well spent, even if we had only been there a few hours! We definitely want to do more day trips, so if anyone has suggestions of places within easy reach of London, comment below 🙂

Wide shot of Whitstable's west beach and the Old Neptune pub

Let me know what you’ve been loving this month! Caroline x

Travel: 5 days in Malta

Last month, I travelled to Malta for a short holiday. I went mainly to support my sister who was playing in the Women’s World Snooker Championships, but I’m also not one to pass up the opportunity to see somewhere new.

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As part of my ‘wedding bucket list’, I’ve always wanted to shoot a beach wedding so I decided I would also plan a styled shoot while there. I’ll writing a seperate blog on that, so keep your eyes peeled. Amongst all of that snooker watching and having wedding cakes/flowers etc arrive at my hotel, I’m glad to say we did manage to explore Malta 🙂

Loving a good road trip, we hired a car – always my favourite way to explore somewhere!

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On our first day, we headed to the north of the island and found a gorgeous secret bay, off a back road somewhere. This was probably my highlight of the holiday – the place was so secluded and peaceful. While there, we drove round another back road and came out in Imgiebah Bay, where we met a retired man walking. He was telling us he spent every winter in Malta, walking most days around the coast of the island. Sounds like my retirement dream! This coast line was so incredible, I can definitely recommend making time to walk there.

The west of the Island

Another day, we headed more to the West of the island. On our way to Dingly Cliffs, we stopped at Mdina, the ‘silent city’. We had a quick walk around the fortified town, exploring the narrow lanes within the city wall. It was seriously beautiful – very quaint, with gorgeous architecture and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to find.

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Carrying on past Mdina, our sat nav sent us on what seemed the most random route – the track took us between farm fields, and then into narrow lanes which we barely fitted through (despite only being in a small car). Great fun though, and we eventually reached Dingly Cliffs. This side of the island is stunning – very dramatic coastline, and you can see for miles out to sea!

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We took the coast road further south and found the Blue Grotto, a natural cave formation in the cliffs. We stopped off at the small seaside resort next to it, Il-Qrendi, and had a stunning outdoor lunch by the sea. It couldn’t have been more perfect, as it was also the hottest day on the island since we’d been there.

Valletta

One evening, we drove into Valletta, the culture capital of Europe for 2018. We needed to cheer up my sister who had been knocked out the snooker, so stopped for cocktails at the Hard Rock Cafe in the harbour, before wandering up to the old town for sunset. And what a sunset we had! The skyline was absolutely stunning and I really enjoyed walking through the old streets as it got dark. We dined al fresco in a lovely square covered in fairylights, before heading back to the hotel. It’s a truly stunning city.

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Gozo

On our final day in Malta, we decided to catch the ferry to Gozo, having had recommendations we should see The Azure Window, a natural door formation which recently collapsed into the sea. It was such a windy day we thought we were going to get blown over the edge when looking into the Blue Hole, a natural swimming pool in the rocks next to the collapsed window. I can imagine what a gorgeous spot it must be for a swim in the summer.

As it was the final of the snooker that day, we decided we would squeeze in one more bit of sightseeing before rushing back to the hotel to watch it. We drove north to the Wied Il-Mielah, another natural door forming in the cliffs of Gozo. It was a lovely spot to see, although I stumbled up the steps and dented my wide lens… massive fail.

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Before heading back to the airport for our flight home, we were meant to visit the small fishing town of Marsaxlokk, but thanks to it being the closing ceremony of the snooker, and St Patrick’s Day the evening before, our heads were a bit sore! Cue napping before a slow journey to the airport. However, there is always next time! Would love to go back to Malta in the summer and make the most of the coast and secluded bays 🙂

Caroline x

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What I loved this month: March 2018

 

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I have been a little quiet on the blogging side this month as this was my month of three styled shoots, so a little bit busy! Because of unexpected snow, it ended up being the month of two styled shoots, which was truly gutting. Still, two is better than none! So that leads me on to..

  1. My first destination styled shoot

I am so proud that I organised and photographed my first destination shoot, which took place in Malta. I couldn’t have done it without Planned by Tara, who managed to find suppliers and co-ordinate everyone – I never realised planning something abroad would be so difficult. We ended up with a fab group of suppliers and I ended myself so much on the day! This is just a small preview – I’ll write a separate blog post on the shoot where I will share all the details and full list of suppliers 🙂

 

2. My cacti inspired shoot

I have always loved cacti and succulents – my house is filled with them. They inspired me so much, I planned a shoot around them. Again, I’ll do a separate blog on this shoot, but heres a little preview.

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3. Malta

This month, I went to Malta for a short holiday with my sister as she was playing in the female World Snooker Championships over there. Around the snooker (and my shoot), we got to explore the island and I loved it! We hired a car as we love to get off the beaten track, and spent days driving around the coast finding hidden bays, little nooks and crannys, and generally admiring the natural beauty.

4. Day trip to the West

Last week, I had a shoot in Bristol, and while I was over that way, decided I should at least make the most of it and explore the Cotswolds a bit/see my family who live in nearby Cheltenham. I took the scenic route from Bristol and stopped off in gorgeous Painswick. The sun was starting to go down, but I fitted in a short stroll around the village – it was so beautiful and quaint.

5. Moo Free Easter Eggs 

I was a bit dubious about vegan chocolate when I first made the switch, but over the past few months I have found some super tasty alternatives. Wanting to spoil myself with an Easter egg, this week I bought Moo Free’s egg with Choccy Drops. It is delicious (I’ve actually been nibbling away on it while I write this). I am definitely going to stock up before they vanish from the shops (although a bit of a treat at £3.50 per egg).

I hope you all have a fantastic Easter! I am taking some time out, and going to Scotland with my other half, where we will be driving the North Coast 500. So excited to get out into insane scenery and explore the upper most parts of the UK! Follow me on Instagram for inevitable travel posts while I’m here 😉

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What have you been enjoying in March?

On a side note, I also took my first booking for 2019 this month. If you are getting married next year, get in touch to save your date!

Caroline x

 

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What I loved this month: February 2018

Another month passed! We made it through what is my least favourite month of the year. I mainly got through by throwing myself into working on exciting projects, of which you will probably get to see around the start of April. Bohemian or adventurous couples keep your eyes peeled – these will most definitely be for you!

I feel like I haven’t done that much this month aside from working. However, some how, alongside planning projects and booking in engagement shoots for the upcoming season I have managed to do some other stuff, so this month I have been loving:

  1. Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers

Anyone who follows my Instastories may have seen me raving about this album over the past few weeks. Brian Fallon is the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem – a band who I discovered when they released the ’45’ Single. That same weekend I then went down to HMV and bought their whole back catalogue based on that song. Since then, Brain Fallon has released 2 solo albums filled with soulful punk rock tunes. If you can listen to ‘If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven’ and don’t find yourself at least clicking your fingers or doing a little jig, we probably can’t be friends. If you like Frank Turner or Against Me! , you’ll probably like this 🙂

.. and because it never gets old, even though it was released nearly 6 years ago (!!!) – 45

2. The Depot Wedding Venue

This month, I exhibited at my first ever wedding fair. I had a blast hanging out with amazing suppliers, meeting the venue’s team and of course, meeting you guys! You can check out my full blog on it here.

Benches at the Depot wedding venue, decorated with eucalptus foliage and rustic table decor

3. Friends

My winter nights have definitely been spent hibernating this year, and Netflix adding the whole of Friends has definitely meant chilled evenings snuggling up and watching it all again. Back in the day, I always thought I was a Phoebe, and watching back has cemented it for me.. I am in love with her 90s fashion in it! However, I am equally horrified that the series is 20 years old. It still feels like yesterday I was watching it all for the first time when it was out.

4. Harry Potter Marathons

My other half got me the Harry Potter box set for Christmas, and since then we have been having friends over for Harry Potter marathons. I seriously love the books – they used to be released a few weeks before my birthday, so every year as a child I always got one as a present. However, I’d never seen the films so really loving getting back into the Hogwarts world and seeing it come to life.

5. Jenna Kutcher’s Goaldigger Podcasts

Jenna Kutcher is an insanely talented wedding photographer, artist educator and podcaster. I discovered her through the Rising Tide Society last year (which in itself is a must for any creatives out there). One gloomy Monday this month I listened to one of her podcasts on my daily commute and since then have been hooked. They are full of tips, motivation and business advice for girl bosses and honestly, once I’ve listened to one I feel so pumped and full of inspiration. Thank you Jenna!

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6. My Slow Cooker

As someone who is following a LDN Muscle guide, I am BIG on food prep! Most Sundays you’ll find me planning out meals for the week and making batches of food. A Slow cooker is sometimes a girls best friend for this. This month I’ve been making lots of lentil bolognese and chickpea curries in it. In fact, right now I have a gorgeous Lentil Dahl cooking away. Follow my vegan slow cooker Pinterest board for recipe ideas.

As you can see there has been quite a lot of Netflix bingeing and hibernating going on! I’m also happy to say I’ve been keeping up my new years resolution of reading more – If you saw my last post you will have seen I started reading Shantaram at the end of January. I’m still reading it as it is colossal, but thoroughly enjoying it 🙂

Let me know what you’ve loved this month, and what you’re looking forward to in March – I would love to hear from you!

 

Caroline x