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Farewell to The Maccabees

The Maccabes Farewell Tour - Last Ever Gig - 1st July 2017

The Maccabees Last Ever Show, Alexandra Palace, Saturday 1st July 2017.

I’ve been thinking about that gig for the last few days now. In the lead up to it, I knew seeing The Maccabees for the last time would be emotional, but I hadn’t anticipated it would have quite this effect. They’re like old friends. Standing next to fellow-fans on Saturday night who have seen them upwards of 50 times, I began to feel a little fraudulent, but this is a band that mean so, so much to me.

The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017 The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017

Trying to totter up how many times I’ve seen them myself, I reckon we’re at more than 10 but less than 20 but, that’s at least once a year since I first heard about them. I’m not quite as emotionally connected as some of the other fans I’ve seen who have had the band see them through heartache and upheaval – thankfully my life hasn’t had too much of that in recent years. That said, they have always been there. Some how two or three of their songs always manage to make it on to any new playlist, and they’re still my ‘most played’ on Last FM.

The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017
The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017

The Maccabees have always been good. Better than the record, and reliable. I’ve never seen them on bad form, and Saturday night was no exception. I just felt like I needed to note down these feelings that I’m feeling for prosperity. Despite it being the final show, it still didn’t feel like the end. Maybe they’ll all go on to do cool things that I’ll enjoy too, and it’s not like I’m now banned from adding their songs to my playlists – that would be cause for true heartbreak 💔.

We were only kids then…

It feels like a chapter of my life is over, and whether it’s symbolically through this final concert, or because I’m turning 28 this year, that’s weird. They’ve been a constant, it’s not that my music tastes have changed much anyway but I felt like I really invested in them; buying t-shirts and EPs, following their obscure side projects – and hanging those projects up in my living room – not to mention the fluttering at a particular way a live vocal has been arranged and making sure I catch them live even if it’s just on TV and not actually live.

The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017

I wasn’t the girl bursting any eardrums on Saturday night but I sung along as loud as I always have and got sweatier than I ever have done. It felt so bittersweet when it all finished and echos of ‘Something Like Happiness’ came in and out as we walked back to the car.

If you love them, go ahead and tell them…

I surprised myself, I cry at everything these days; cute old people, sad dogs, the weight of existence… So when no tears came during my favourite songs, as they have done a couple of times before, I thought I might have overcome this. Seeing them all well-up on stage after the final song though, I felt it. I wanted to know why they’re leaving when it makes them so sad… But then, all good things come to an end I suppose and it makes being there that night all the more special and allows my relationship with The Maccabees to continue to be as special as it always has been.

The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017
The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017
The Maccabees Farewell Show - Alexandra Palace 1st July 2017

They made 17 year old me’s dreams come true by bringing out Jamie T, because of course they did, because they’re the best! And Jack Peñate, of ‘best friend of Adele and for some reason a recluse’ fame. After seeing a snap of the previous night’s performance with Marcus Mumford on stage, I kind of just expected a repeat and kicked myself for allowing spoilers, but they surprised and they didn’t allow it to take away from it being their night.

It’s actually pretty difficult to put into words how it feels to be glad that you were somewhere. I’ve had those moments at Glastonbury and even other Maccabees gigs (Hey, 2009 rise of Mumford & Sons) but these songs, and these guys, they really, really mean something to me and I can’t quite put that part into words, but I’m still going to keep putting their stuff on my walls.

Plus, you know, I’ll be front-row-centre if they ever change their mind. 💓

New York, New York

New York, New York

New York via Toronto

I’ve been back from North America for almost two weeks now and am just starting to settle back into post-holiday life. I had an action-packed couple of weeks with my mum and sister. The relatives we stayed with were so good and ferried us around to see so many different sights around Ontario. As well as spending a lot of time in Toronto, my sister and I decided to squeeze in a trip to New York too. It looks pretty close on the map but it was 12 hours on a coach so quite intense. That said, the coach dropped us right in the middle of Chelsea so we were ~in the city~ as soon as we arrived, which was a bit more appealing than a 45 minute taxi ride from the airport.

New York
New York

New York is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for the longest time and finally getting to go conjured up so much romance taken from seeing it in films for so many years. It’s not like any other city I’ve visited. I thought there was a pretty high chance it would be like Hong Kong, but the skyscrapers is just about the only similarity I can think of.

New York
New York

So nice they named it twice!

I can definitely see myself going back and can see why so many people get the bug for it. So here are a few thoughts from New York that I took away from my trip. I’ll certainly be bearing them in mind for when I do make a return trip, even if it was with someone who was a first-timer.

New York
New York

Perfect for people watching.

New Yorkers are not as rude as everyone says but they do love to overshare on the phone or walking along in conversation, they are loud and it’s a great place for people watching.

New York
New York New York

My personal highlight was the lady who was munching on a packet of crisps willing her ‘lover’ to return to her.

New York is not the muggers paradise we were warned about either but it’s just all about being careful as with any city. Being two women, I did feel a little on edge compared to if I had been with Moon but there really wasn’t much to worry about and I relaxed pretty quickly.

New York
New York
New York

Top tourist spots!

New York’s skyscraper viewpoints are tourist spots for a reason, they do offer some incredible sights of the city. That said, I did enjoy just strolling around the city and taking it in from the ground, as well as obviously the less busy areas. The High Line was easily my favourite spot – the way the history has been taken into account alongside how sympathetic the gardeners have been to it so nice. The High Line also felt much less busy than other places we had been in the evenings, and as a result was much more chilled.

New York New York
New York
New York

By contrast, while also beautiful the Top of the Rock at sunset was way too crowded. We lucked out getting a great tour when we first arrived and it ended up lining up with being to go up at sunset. I’d ask for Pete if you can, he was great. Unfortunately even though we were only in a small group, the rest of New York’s tourists appeared to have the same fab idea to go up at this time, go figure. It was far too crowded, with queues for that famous view of the Empire State building being almost 10 people deep. It kind of ruined the experience for me but the view was still worth it.

New York
New York
New York

Walk, walk, walk…

Central Park is MASSIVE! Even seeing it from different aerial platforms it’s difficult to comprehend. From walking in at the American Museum of Natural History entrance we walked around the reservoir towards the Belvadere fountain before I made my way to Strawberry Fields and met my sister again by the carousel, in the end that took around 3 hours. New York generally does involve a lot of walking though and even though we used the subway, we covered over 12km on most days with our record being almost 20km.

New York
New York

Get ready to spend some dollar.

Tipping is a bit of a necessary evil but to be budgeted for. Thankfully, most restaurants make it easy for you and plonk the different variants at the bottom of the bill. We went for around $50-80 a day, which was fine but when you factor in each meal plus something fun, I feel like doubling or tripling that would have made the trip more comfortable and it’s definitely something I’m going to bear in mind for my next visit.

New York

There are quite a lot of fun, free things to see and do in New York but I do think that the CityPass is definitely worth it if you’re planning on doing at least two skyscrapers. The Top of the Rock with the tour ended up being $44 with the Empire State being $32. Add these to the $27 we spent at the Natural History Museum and you’re almost at the $116 for the CityPass, plus you get to skip queues and there are a couple of other museums and attractions you can get into that are included in that if you have more time than we did.

New YorkNew York
New York


The coach from Toronto to New York was well worth doing. We spent most of the time sleeping and for $60 each we were able to start our trip as soon as we arrived. There were two stops and even though it took longer and wasn’t quite as comfortable as a plane, I’d definitely say if you have booked a trip to either city and you have spare time, a weekend or couple of days to either is well worth it.

Birthday Brunch on a Boat

Don't Go Chasing Waterways

This week has been full of surprises for those of us with a birthday.

I can’t help but feel a little mean for complaining to my Gran that I had no idea what I was doing for my birthday when I had played a part in putting her in the exact same position!

For the last few months my cousins and I have been putting together plans for her birthday. It was a big one so we knew that we needed to something special.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

We ended up deciding on a canal boat trip along the River Wey with a spot of brunch. I’m glad my cousins decided not to tell her what we were doing on the drive to Farncombe Boat House so it stayed a surprise until we got there. She wasn’t even completely sure until we told her she could hop on board the Norseman.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

After being given some thorough tuition on how to drive a narrow boat and how to operate the locks, we were on our own. I actually didn’t end up doing any driving but I was happy to watch. It was thoroughly entertaining whenever it went slightly wrong. Though I must say, we’re pretty lucky that the canal wasn’t too busy while we were on it.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

With it being such a nice day, it’s easy to see why people live on canal boats and enjoy them. I’m not sure I could go on a narrow boating holiday for a week but I’d definitely like to do something like this again.

Cruising the River Wey

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

We were going for around an hour and a half, so around halfway to Guildford (which is 15 minutes away by car) before stopping for a brunch of scrambled eggs, guacamole, bagels and croissants. I was really surprised by the facilities offered on the boat. Farncombe Boat House actually provided us with everything we needed, including cooking utensils, a kettle and washing-up liquid.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

We only ended up spending half the day on the boat because we had to get back to my uncle’s house for the rest of the festivities but it was plenty of time to enjoy the river. The main thing was that we wanted our Gran to enjoy it and I think she really did.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

Aside from getting bitten by a swan – which at least was a funny story to tell – it was such a fun way to spend the morning.

Gran's Birthday Boat Trip
Gran's Birthday Boat Trip

Midweek Birthday Mini-Break

Midweek Margate Mini-Break

It’s been a busy few days filled with birthday celebrations and happiness. If the last couple of days are anything to go by, 27 is going to be a good age to be.

Margate Mini-Break

My birthday surprise was just that, a complete surprise. I must admit that I did spend a little time stressing about where we were going but it all worked out in the end. Moon rocked up to my mum’s house in the morning and then let loose that we’d be heading the Margate for an overnight stay – super exciting!

After seeing Margate’s Dreamland on TV and Moon actually meeting Wayne Hemingway a year or so ago, I was excited to take in a proper British seaside mini-break.

We were so lucky with the weather, you just can’t beat a bit of the English seaside when the sun is shining. 


There’s so much to see and do in Margate that it’s understandable why it looks to be making a comeback. From Dreamland to the Turner Contemporary Gallery, as well as a ton of beautiful independent shops and its very own Shell Grotto! Margate is great for a walk along the sands or going further into the town to explore.

Dreamland with my dream boat 




Dreamland reminded me so much of Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future, except better. Firstly, everything is incredibly affordable, with rides ranging from £1-5 (or unlimited rides for £15) and secondly, it’s all real! The branding of the theme park is really something special, thoughtfully putting together beautiful bold fonts with perfect pastel colours. It’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon.









Due to slightly pigging out with a picnic lunch, we were feeling a little too fragile to go on some of the wilder rides. That said, we still made it up the big wheel – which has great views as far as the eye can see of Margate and beyond. Unfortunately the Scenic Railway wasn’t running when we went but as it’s the oldest running rollercoaster in the UK, it’s certainly on my list for a return trip.





I couldn’t get over how pretty everything at Dreamland was, it was a bit ridiculous how well it had all been thought through. Right down to the staff t-shirts, which had us green with envy – hoping they’ll make them available in the gift shop soon!


We read in a guidebook in our hotel that Dreamland has brought a lot of money back to the area, and we could see why. It’s really unassuming from the outside but opens up to this great public space, I have real hopes that it’s going to work out.

My birthday meal was spent enjoying rum cocktails and eating delicious Caribbean food at Mullins Brasserie. No pictures unfortunately, but a great atmosphere and we’re ready to try Caribbean pepper pot again real soon.


Secret Underground Shell Grotto 

Our second day in Margate was opened with glorious sunshine again. After finishing up breakfast at our hotel we popped everything back in the car before wandering over to The Shell Grotto.





Discovered by a father and son in the 1830s and believed to be some kind of smuggler’s passage, The Shell Grotto is just that, an underground tunnel covered in shells. There are lots of neat different designs, and it’s crazy to think that despite being well lit now, it would have been completely dark when it was first discovered. It didn’t take too long to get around but the gift shop was really good and it was really interesting to see the different shell designs and shell work.




Old Town

Shopping in Old Town is a must in Margate. There are so many good independent vintage shops and galleries. Unfortunately, a lot of Margate town centre is kind of uninspired with quite a few charity shops and pound shops, but with a little exploring there are so many hidden gems to be found.






I do like to be beside the seaside  



We rounded up our trip with a trip to the Turner Contemporary followed by a walk along the stone pier before spot of lunch at Buoy & Oyster.









It was such a treat to spend the middle of the week by the seaside pottering around with my favourite person. It made my birthday a very happy one indeed. 

Petersham Nurseries + Richmond Park

Petersham Nurseries Sign

Discovering Petersham Nurseries 🌱

These are some photos from a lovely afternoon spent with Moon, my mum and my sister visiting blogger’s paradise, Petersham Nurseries. A quick stroll from Richmond Park, Petersham Nurseries was super easy to find while still feeling like some kind of secret.

Our friends, Dan and Kirstin actually recommended we visit the week before and having seen it pop up on a few blogs, it seemed like a good place to while away a couple of hours.

Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries

 

So Instagram-worthy! 📷

It was so nice to stop and admire flowers and plants while grabbing a (very expensive) coffee. It’s quite rare that I get to have relaxing afternoons like this with my mum.

Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nurseries is lovely but I don’t think it was quite up to my Mum’s usual garden centre standard. Visually, it’s well thought out but I’m definitely kind of over the shabby chic thing too. I’m fairly sure that nobody really has a need for a wardrobe in their garden. We did have a fun game of ‘guess the price’ though, and visiting in the mid-spring sunshine was certainly refreshing. Besides, anywhere with a dog to greet you upon entry always gets a slight upvote! 👋 🐶

Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Check the background of this picture for some ~real life bloggers~ there for a photoshoot

Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries
Petersham Nurseries

Any long-time readers will know that Richmond Park is one of my favourite places, so it was great to find somewhere new that was so close-by.