Time to say thank you and goodbye

Here is a 14 day old Kiwi chick to soften the blow...

Here is a 14 day old Kiwi chick to soften the blow…

Hello blog world! It feels like an eternity since Ed or I have written on this little corner of the internet and in blogging terms – from 1 January to 4 May is definitely a long time. We’ve hinted on here before about how busy our offline lives are and for that purpose, we’ve come on here to sign out… let me explain.

I moved to New Zealand for my family and also for my career. The combination of the two going full steam crazy busy (but stupidly cool at the same time, I love my day-job and my kids are hilarious) has meant I have about five spare minutes in the day to do anything for myself – not really enough time to pop onto WordPress, write some decent copy, edit and upload some pictures. I’m pretty certain Ed feels the same way too about his own life in which he also started a super new job and is in the process of buying a house within commuting distance of London (and sorry to break it to you ladies but he has a girlfriend who he seems to really dig!).

And it is for that reason, after a year of trying to combine a work-life balance that is constantly on the knife edge along with trying to put effort into my blog, that I have decided it is time to put Lady Loves Cake to bed. I started this blog in 2010, when I got engaged to Mr Man and have enjoyed a brilliant six years on here, on top of my former travel blog which totals up to 12 years of blogging. I’m sure I’ll be back on the internet with another chapter of my life at some point – I’ve been unable to resist the on-line world since you had to plug in a modem to the wall and it made that weird ding ding de doo doo dirrrrsssssh sound.

Cake? (this one is from Bespoke Kitchen in Queenstown, New Zealand)

Cake? (this one is from Bespoke Kitchen in Queenstown, New Zealand)

LLC was set up in my late twenties when I was in twenty-something fairyland spending my money on the goodies and adventures that London had to offer. I was keen to share it and I did – with a cool little community of readers, many of whom have become great friends in real life. These days the majority of my salary goes on day-care fees and rent with the occasional family brunch – most of which is pretty boring to write and read about. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing because life hasn’t become boring at all (I’ve even taken up trail running!), it’s just that I’ve moved into a different chapter of life and need to be realistic about what I can afford – both in money and time.

Perhaps a kitten named Ulla scaring the crap out of some alpacas also named after musical theatre characters? Taken at Limestone Valley Estate, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Perhaps a kitten named Ulla scaring the crap out of some alpacas also named after musical theatre characters? Taken at Limestone Valley Estate, South Canterbury, New Zealand

Why now specifically? My domain name runs out at the end of May and that seems like a good time to end it – my most popular blog posts were ones that were so massively out of date it’s not funny and I don’t think it’s really fair to people looking for afternoon tea in Greenwich to see a post that’s five years old written by someone who long ago moved to New Zealand. Places change and who knows what those afternoon teas are like now.  I’ve also found myself less inclined to write even when I’ve had a great experience (I spent four days seeing some amazing things in the South Island in January but didn’t once feel the urge to write a blog post on it – a sign I think that we’re done here).

So thank you so much to everyone for your laughs and friendship over the years. Thank you especially to Ed – you have been a total legend of a contributor on here and a great friend to me since before Lady Loves Cake even existed. There’s a lot of people out there who I’ve met through this blog who have become genuine good friends – Canadian Jen, Melissa, Mandy, Kelly, Yannick, Manasi and Philippa to name just a few. There’s Frivolous Monsters who has ‘liked’ almost every post I’ve ever put up on here (I still have no idea who you are but you have been one of my favourite internet people!). And to Mr Man who has let seafood chowder go cold in the name of a blog photo – I salute you.

Kat (and Ed)

Here's me pretending to be outdoorsy... Thanks everyone for the comments and the laughs - you've been a legendary audience.

Here’s me pretending to be outdoorsy… Thanks everyone for the comments and support – you’ve been a legendary audience.

26 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Gentleman loves cake

Two bloggers spend a day checking out Wellington’s most Instagrammable spots

Beautiful photogenic Wellington

Beautiful photogenic Wellington

A couple of weeks back Kelly visited and I really wanted to show her a great bloggers’ day out. After all, she has been responsible for many a great afternoon, life advice and mutual blogging rants over the years so I felt the need to show her my list of the best things to see in Wellington and ones that she could share on her excellent Instagram feed… obviously, real life enjoyment was in there too but hey, you can take the blogger out of London but you can’t take the social media magpie out of the blogger (or something like that!).

So here’s where we went, taste and sight first, Instagram when we could remember:

  1. A drive around the bays behind the airport – Moa Point, Karaka Bay, Days Bay etc. Kelly arrived at 8am and on the weekends an appropriate breakfast time is surely after 9…
Breaker Bay

Breaker Bay

2. Brunch at Loretta – I still have yet to find a restaurant that does brunch better and am waiting for someone to prove me wrong. Kelly made me eat my words when I stated my thoughts on the idea of a gluten free parsnip and hazelnut cake “there couldn’t possibly be any enjoyment in any of those words other than cake Kelly!” – it was surprisingly sensational and a great complement to my chicken sausage breakfast risotto filled with fresh herbs and goodness that Loretta specialises in.

Brunch at Loretta

Brunch at Loretta

3. A visit to the world’s coolest little capital’s cutest little gift shop Madame Fancy Pants

A visit to Madame Fancy Pants (this same picture featured last week sorry!)

A visit to Madame Fancy Pants (this same picture featured last week sorry!)

4. A walk down quirky hipster Cuba Street and around the Leeds Street/Eva Street/Hannah Factory Quarter which the council has recently spent time painting up to look as fabulous as the independent makers in it – included here were the Wellington Chocolate Factory, Fix and Fogg Peanut Butter (even though they were closed but still!), Six Barrel Soda, Pizza Pomodoro and Leeds Street Bakery

A selfie on Eva Street~

A selfie on Eva Street – I still have sunglasses envy of Kelly…

Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter Factory

Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter Factory (not actually taken when Kelly visited!)

5. We each had a gorgeous soda at Six Barrel Soda

Soda

Soda

6. A further walk down more brightly painted lane-ways until we got to the waterfront

Street art down the laneway behind the Opera House

Street art down the lane-way behind the Opera House

The waterfront (pic taken a long time ago)

The waterfront (pic taken a long time ago)

A brief stop at the Sunday market where the fish monger Nicos was selling his super fresh wares from the same boat he's been at for years

A brief stop at the Sunday market where the fish monger Nicos was selling his super fresh wares from the same boat he’s been at for years

7. Oriental Bay and the boatsheds where I posed for her post on Instagram Clichés!

Oriental Bay's boatsheds

Oriental Bay’s boatsheds

8. Gelato at Kaffe Eis (there’s one in Oriental Bay and another at Frank Kitts Park) – always a winner even if it is one of the massive Instagram clichés mentioned above!

Gelato from Kaffe Eis

Gelato from Kaffe Eis

9. Up and over into Civic Square, then down Lambton Quay to the Cable Car which I’m still not sick of yet – here’s a tip on cruise days (when Wellington gets packed to the rafters with tourists from the big cruise liners): buy a snapper transport card and skip the line, tapping it as you go through the barriers – you’ll just look like one of the people who use it to commute up to the suburbs on the hill!

The wonderful Wellington Cable Car

The wonderful Wellington Cable Car

10. Afternoon tea at the fabulous Hippopotamus – I couldn’t not take the Queen of Gluten Free Afternoon Tea there even if I was her Gluten Monster for the afternoon!!!

Afternoon tea at Hippopotamus

Afternoon tea at Hippopotamus

11. A quick stop at Te Papa (“that’s Te Papa Kelly, you can come back on your own next time because I’ve been too much with my kids”) where I had parked the car and sadly had to depart from to take Kelly back to the Airport, not of course before driving along Lyall Bay so Kelly could check out some surfers doing their thing.😉

Te Papa

Te Papa

12. There would have been a pretty coffee to Instagram too but neither of us had any that day – sinful I know!! But if you are a coffee drinker then you have certainly come to the right place to photograph it…

The coffee that could have been!

The coffee that could have been!

I had such an amazing day with Kelly. Yes, I did have an agenda – I really want all my friends to move here – so made sure the weather was behaving itself and showed her my absolute favourite parts of Wellington on a good day. However, if the wind had been blowing a northerly gale or if southerlies had brought storms straight from Antarctica I know we would have had a brilliant time indoors too as there is so much more to this city than just a sparkling bay, good ice cream and bright colours outside.

So there you have it, Wellington is both pretty and really fun, especially when you have awesome company with you. Thank you so much Kelly for flying down from Auckland for the day in the middle of your trip home to New Zealand! I love that blogging has helped me make the most amazing friendships which results in days like this.

P.S. Should I do a post on places that are totally Instagram worthy on the inside? I feel like I’ve shown Wellington off on one of its good days (of which thankfully there have been a lot lately!).

6 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Wellington

Blogging honesty

Let's aim for some more Zen moments here...

Let’s aim for some more Zen moments here…

Lately there have been quite a few posts out there on blogging and honesty – posts reflecting that the blog world is increasingly looking like the magazine world which is exactly what bloggers set out to get away from when we first introduced our little pockets of the internet to people’s everyday lives, or even worse the whole blogger/blagger thing which I know isn’t true for 99 percent of us. We’ve all seen the various famous people joining the social media backlash and we’ll all see them claim back their online presence in the next big social media event that comes around, but here’s the thing, do we really need to join the flock too?

I’ve been struggling with this one lately. At a recent party, after consuming a lot of champagne in a room full of media types, I started to claim I was about to take a year off social media. In my hungover and possibly still drunk state the next day I emailed poor Ed and said “Hey! Any chance you want to start your own blog? I’m going to take a year off!” To which he calmly replied that maybe a hiatus would be better and perhaps I should think about it a bit more – sensible GLC.

Fast forward to now, I am back, having emerged from the black hole that was a several months long writer’s block and with new enthusiasm thanks to a day with Kelly instagramming my favourite spots around Wellington and I have a new attitude to blogging.

It’s all about honesty.

I’m not saying I haven’t been honest with you here. My blog posts are always honest, especially the reviews, but sometimes I have wondered if I’m sugar-coating life slightly?

A few of the bigger bloggers out there have also gone down this route, saying life isn’t all Instagram filters, white space and perfectly laid out table settings with blush coloured peonies/tulips set in the middle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t get on the blogosphere and write – didn’t most of us start with a will to write and a hope that someone might read our posts even if it was just Mum and Dad sending the link around in their yearly newsletters?

Do we follow the flock?

Do we follow the flock?

Let me be upfront first of all.

I only blog what I can afford and that’s in both time and money. I have only ever blogged from this perspective but the time bank seems to get smaller and smaller by the day the older my kids get. I can’t afford a beautiful Canon DSLR (as much as I hint to Mr Man that after 10 years of blogging surely he could get me one for Christmas or my birthday~) because I want a bigger house for my kids to grow up in and I always seem to be wearing the same green skirt or red top in most of my blog posts because I’ve not bought a new outfit in months.

Confession: I wear this outfit twice a week...

Confession: I wear this outfit twice a week…

I have had a whole year of winter thanks to the unfortunate timing of our London house sale meaning we didn’t make it to New Zealand until the end of April (it should have been the beginning of February so we could get the tail end of summer in). I am pale, a bit fat and quite frankly, really feckin tired to the point where genuinely I thought I was going to have some kind of nervous breakdown if I didn’t take some time off soon – hello Christmas. I hold down a full time job albeit in what is the dream job I have been looking for and worked hard to get to for over 10 years but also have two toddlers who I feel really guilty about for not being around as much as I want to for them. I get home at 5:30pm and go straight into cooking and cleaning for the family while Mr Man baths and gets them to bed. By the time we’re done with family things, 9pm is there and I fall straight into bed. There’s not much room for glam and it’s certainly not that bloggable!!! I find myself reading articles on work life balance and how on earth to break that glass ceiling rather than macarons these days and am also finding myself wanting to write more about that – my twenties were expensive sweet treats, backpacking and dancing, my thirties seem to be about how I can squeeze in 15 minutes a day to burn off half an imagined macaron, sometimes dancing around the dining room with my two year old to Big Red Car.

New Zealand is great for us, especially now that the sun is out, but I’m not getting out to the latest restaurants once a week like I was in London because new ones don’t open up here in Wellington every week, and even if they did I can only afford dinner out maybe once a month because an entire salary goes on rent and kindy fees.

So I apologise for blogging less regularly, not paying attention to the SEO and key words and basically being a rubbish blogger, but I do hope you’ll stick around for life’s little adventures, still done by me here in Wellington and Ed in London. May we will all try and be a bit more honest about things in 2016. I’m starting out by reclaiming my pocket of the internet and if you don’t mind, (and I know I’m going to lose readers by saying this) I might just rant a bit more often on here.

Have a wonderful holiday season world.

Kat.

Have a great Christmas everyone - I hope you stop and enjoy a moment with your drink of choice!

Have a great Christmas everyone – I hope you stop and enjoy a moment with your drink of choice!

19 Comments

Filed under Life in general, Wellington

Afternoon tea in Wellington: The Museum Hotel’s Hippopotamus

The Museum Hotel's magnificent Hippopotamus

The Museum Hotel’s magnificent Hippopotamus

When I left London I definitely thought it was the end of my afternoon tea dates. I mean, come-on, after 40 afternoon teas over five years on my blog alone, plus the ones I didn’t review because I didn’t like them (yes, that does happen occasionally), you would think that one would never ever want an afternoon tea again.

But I was wrong. You see, my friend international woman of mystery N is quite convincing. When she reminds you that you’ve not had an afternoon tea date together in at least three years, you quickly schedule one.

View of the Sunday market and Wellington's waterfront

View of the Sunday market and Wellington’s waterfront

So off we went to Hippopotamus, famed for their cocktails, but also Global Champion of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge. We needed to see if this matched the afternoon teas we’d tried around the world.

It matched some of the best I’ve had in London. Even better, no scones were served so we didn’t fill up on dough – we could just eat beautifully crafted French pastries, savoury and sweet, in a location overlooking Wellington’s waterfront (you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, especially when that day happens to be the first real day of spring), sat in the sun but surrounded by art with the wow factor, downing tea and cocktails… what more could a lady want?

Cake stand

Cake stand

Nothing. The service was great, the passion-fruit mousse being the highlight of the incredible pastries sat in front of us, and Ms N fabulous as always.

Savouries

Savouries

Sweets

Sweets

Treats sent from the high tea gods...

Treats sent from the high tea gods…

I keep telling visitors to Wellington to stay for more than a day or two instead of using it as a quick stopover on their way to the South Island – there’s so much to see and do, that doing part mainly eating its wonderful food, so why not make an afternoon of it and include High Tea in the process?

A more detailed review will appear on the High Tea Society website but we paid $45 each for High Tea served with a gorgeous Bellini. 

Museum Hotel can be found at 90 Cable Street, Wellington, New Zealand. 

9 Comments

Filed under Afternoon Tea, Eating, Tea, Travel, Wellington

Ed eats the Rolls Royce of Jamon in London’s Camino carving masterclass

Heaven on a plate (image thanks to Zomato)

Heaven on a plate (image thanks to Zomato)

I have to admit, I’ve never fully got on board with tapas.

Now, this isn’t anything against Spanish food – I love a paella as much as the next hombre, and my almost religious devotion to cured meats reached a zenith when I waited patiently for four months as I succeeded in doing my own.

But the small tapas plates have always troubled me as they seemingly offer such staggeringly bad value for money.

The (admittedly few) times I’ve eaten tapas in London have always left me unaccountably poorer, and, more importantly, still hungry!

So a trip to Camino for a Zomato bloggers’ meet-up presented an opportunity for my somewhat stubborn foodie mind to be changed.

Ed carving (image credit: Zomato)

Carving (image credit: Zomato)

Tucked behind the Tate Modern on Bankside, this branch of the small chain is set over two floors in the shiny new retail units set below a many-storied office building, wonderfully called the Blue Fin Building.

Inside it is all clean lines and polished surfaces, with little hints of Spain jumping out in the form of patterned wall tiles and Iberian produce stacked around the bar area.

The bar (Zomaro pic)

The bar (Zomaro pic)

But the décor is really by-the-by; I was here to eat…and it seems to learn, also.

Waiting for us next to a succulent looking full leg of jamón (24-months old ICYW) was chef Nacho del Campo, ready to give us a carving masterclass (something now being offered at Camino).

A fine leg (Zomato pic)

A fine leg (Zomato pic)

As well as being hugely knowledgeable about all things porcine, we also discovered Nacho was incredibly patient as a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs began to hack away at this wonderful piece of meat with a very sharp knife!

One by one we attempted to carve the perfect slice, with little success – it really is a tough thing to master.

Whilst waiting our turn to wield the knife there was plenty to keep us quiet, including creamy Manchego cheese with quince jelly, baby squid with aioli (not at all overcooked) the most incredibly moreish tomato bread (think bruschetta but so much more) and a potato tortilla.

The yummy tomato bread (Zomato pic)

The yummy tomato bread (Zomato pic)

But special mention must go to the padrón peppers, quite an on-trend menu item at the moment, but done perfectly here. We were warned that these peppers would contain one or two with real kick. I went through about two dozen before hitting the padrón grenade but when I got there it was eye-wateringly spicy. Amazing!

Padron peppers!

Padron peppers!

After our carving we then had the chance to try different hams from the Camino range, from 20-month to 32-month in age, before they wheeled out the three-year-old ‘Rolls Royce’ of jamón, the Bellota Etiqueta Negra. (Great to say, even better to eat).

For the first time in my life, I was full from eating Spanish tapas food; it even got to the point where I said no to more. This was quite the turn-up!

It must be noted that we were there for an especially arranged event and were therefore probably being deliberately fattened up, but I did take the chance to peek at what was being served to that evening’s regular diners and everything looked very generous.

The best thing about this experience, I believe, is that it wasn’t just created as a one-off for a bunch of food bloggers, but is something now available for everyone to book.

For £30 they’re offering the evening’s carving masterclass where you’re able to take what you carve (tip: carve it real thick to get more!) and also take home a full leg if you fancy (although that will cost you upwards of £100).

I liked Camino. It’s not fine dining by any means, but it feels authentic and is a perfect antidote to the high street likes of La Tasca.

More importantly, it has signalled a thawing in my relationship with tapas.

www.camino.uk.com/jamonmasterclass

 

3 Comments

Filed under Eating, Experiences, Food, Gentleman loves cake, London, Restaurants

A surprising brunch at Empire Cinema, Island Bay

Island Bay's Empire Cinema & Eatery

Island Bay’s Empire Cinema & Eatery

During my recent staycation, I was absolutely determined to relax. Two winters back on back has basically destroyed my immune system so I need some time to get my bounce back (seriously, if you ever make the move to the other side of the world, make sure you time it so you get two summers in a row~). Mr Man was on holiday in Australia which meant I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted provided I was back in time to pick the kids up.

I’d not been to the movies in forever so planned to head to Island Bay’s Empire Cinema on my own until I mentioned to my Mum that I was going anyway if she fancied joining me. She was well up for it – Bill Bryson’s excellent book called A Walk in the Woods had been turned into a movie starring Robert Redford and she needed an excuse to go.

So off we trotted to a midday showing at the comfiest and cutest little cinema you ever did see.

Interior

Interior

We had planned to go for a coffee somewhere else beforehand but arrived super-duper early and strolled around Island Bay’s shops before deciding that the best brunch to be served actually appeared to be in the cinema itself.

For once I went for a savoury option – broccolini with halloumi and pumpkin seeds – while Mum satisfied her sweet tooth with an amazing stack of pancakes served with just the right amount of bananas, berries and maple syrup with a dash of coconut on top (why do more restaurants not do this??). Both of us were in heaven, so much so that we nearly forgot to make it into our movie on time.

Pancakes

Pancakes

Broccolini

Broccolini

This cinema is so cute it’s not funny but not cute in a twee way. Built in the 1920’s specifically to show silent films then used in various guises until its restoration in 2004, then revamped this year, the food here is as good as the comfortable couch-like seating inside, great service, good coffee. You could properly do dinner and a movie all in one place.

Counter

Counter

The movie was better than I thought it would be – almost how I pictured the book which is a very good read – but the whole experience was awesome. Definitely a place to go to on a proper chill-out day.

Empire Cinema and Eatery can be found at 214 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington

Afterwards we drove to Breaker Bay - would you believe that right behind those hills is suburbia?

Afterwards we drove to Breaker Bay – would you believe that right behind those hills is suburbia?

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunch, Coffee, Wellington

Ladies who lunch at Field and Green

A great little lunch at Field & Green

A great little lunch at Field & Green

I took a staycation last week and used it to catch up on some life-admin and remember why we uprooted our family to move to the other side of the world by seeing some new things. Unfortunately on my first day, after a beautiful haircut at Chop (best hair dressing secret in Wellington!) it totally Wellingtonned on me – the Northerly wind went wild and brought with it sideways rain. Thankfully Mother was waiting for me about 10 minutes’ walk from Chop at a wonderfully light and warm Field & Green at the Oriental Bay end of Wakefield Street, the perfect place to have an indoor lunch near Te Papa where we were heading to next (Te Papa is New Zealand’s surprisingly very good museum and well worth a visit regardless of the weather).

The abysmal weather outside

The abysmal weather outside

Coffees were ordered then came the menu – we’re talking super fresh ingredients here, decent but not over the top portions. I went for the chowder with a cheese scone to match while Mum chose Coronation chicken, eyebrows raised with just how good it was (has anyone ever said that about Coronation chicken??).

Coronation chicken

Coronation chicken

Chowder (apologies for the awful photo!)

Chowder (apologies for the awful photo!)

Amazing cheese scone that went perfect with my chowder

Amazing cheese scone that went perfect with the chowder

My chowder was something that the weather gods had clearly made to match the interesting set of affairs outside. It was warm and comforting with so much flavour inside. The scone steamed when cut open, salted butter spread on top and I was in total comfort food heaven.

The coffee? Fantastic – but one expects that from a good Wellington establishment.

We were determined to fit dessert in – Mum had her eye on the white and dark chocolate cheesecake. It was light and fluffy yet still rich, we couldn’t really find another way to describe it. If we both hadn’t been so full, I think we would have polished the entire thing off but a few bites was enough to satisfy.

Cheesecake - SO GOOD.

Cheesecake – SO GOOD.

The atmosphere at Field & Green is very much ladies who lunch, which was perfect for us while we caught up on family gossip and planned the next day’s events.

A definite winner with its fresh ingredients, friendly service and lovely setting. One to recommend.

Field & Green can be found next to Common Sense Organics at 262 Wakefield Street, Wellington 

2 Comments

Filed under Wellington