Tuesday, 16 April 2013

{Eat, Drink, Do, Zanzibar}

Eat: Forodhani Night Market, Stone Town

As the sun went down on a day of sightseeing & exploring little side streets in Stone Town, and we enjoyed a sundowner from the balcony of  The Africa House Hotel, we noticed a buzz emanating from the waterfront Forodhani gardens. Stall after stall filled with skewers of the day's catch, and other tasty items, were being set up by chefs in white uniforms & hats. We knew we had to check it out & headed down.

The stalls are dimly lit by lanterns, giving the whole market a mysterious, romantic feel. Also, you can never be quite sure what you are eating! We threw caution to the wind, and grabbed a few skewers of delicious meat & fish, rounding them off nicely with a Zanzibar pizza: rolled crepes filled with Nutella & bananas. The market is refreshingly cheap and not too touristy (there aren't so many tourists on Zanzibar).

We sat on the grass in the middle of shouting chefs pitching their delicacies to the locals who frequent the market every evening. It was a great start to a memorable night - afterwards we visited Freddie Mercury's bar where we danced to the beat of the drums & a cockroach crawled onto me while I blissfully sipped on my cocktail!

Drink: Coral Rock, Jambiani

In 2009, I was a volunteer in the village of Jambiani for five perfect weeks. The village is a 3-mile stretch of houses, schools & other little buildings, with a dirt track on one side & a beautiful white beach on the other. We lived somewhere in the middle, & every morning we would hop on our bikes and trek down to the schools at the furthest end of the village. After a long, sweaty day of teaching kids & painting the schools, we were always ready for a swim & a beer to cool off.

  This was our back garden, and we would run straight from our huts into the crystal clear sea; the absolute best way to cool off. We'd swim out to the dhows (wooden sailing boats) anchored near the shore and hang off them, chatting and just unwinding. After cold (no hot water here!) showers and delicious, simple suppers prepared by a local chef, a short walk down the beach was all that lay between us and ice-cold beer. When I first arrived on the island we lived closer to the school but further from this hotel/bar, fortunately we made a crucial move down the beach - minimising accidents on the midnight stumbles back to our house.

This is Coral Rock; our little sanctuary during the tropical evenings. Technically a hotel, the owners were friendly to us since we were volunteers, and we were always allowed in for a dip in the infinity pool or a plate of their delicious masala chips. The rasta barmen became our friends over the weeks that we were there, and I swear no London barman could recreate the passionfruit & pineapple cocktails they rustled up for us at Coral Rock - they possess a special Zanzibari magic. Fresh fruit & the perfect blend of vodka, these were one of the things I missed the most upon my return to rainy England.

Do: Swim with Dolphins, Kizimkazi 

On my last weekend in Zanzibar, overcome with a sense of premature nostalgia, I decided to have one last memorable experience. Myself & a fellow volunteer woke at a nonsensical hour in the morning, and drove to Kizimkazi beach - a postcard paradise. A couple guides took us out on the red boat above, allowing us a specatular view of the island as it got smaller and smaller. Once out on the cystral clear blue sea (not an exaggeration), we had a mission: dolphin spotting. There was silence as the guides expertly scanned the horizon, while we sat and listened to the waves gently lap at our dhow. Suddenly, they spied one! Or a whole pod of dolphins, to be specific.

 We moved towards the creatures as silently as possible, threw on our masks & snorkels and slipped into the chilled water. It certainly blew off the cobwebs from our night at Coral Rock! Before I had time to gasp from the cold, I glanced down - only to see the wild dolphins moving underneath me, so close I could almost touch them.

It was my first encounter with dolphins out in the wild, and I'd say it beats an (albeit fun) day at Seaworld by a mile. I was able to see the graceful creatures in their element, and felt humbled by such a display of beauty. To this day they are my favourite animal. The same probably can't be said for my Danish boatmate, who decided she was actually scared of water & sat the rest of the experience out. Each to their own!
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Thursday, 11 April 2013

{Modern Gentleman}

I thought all the excited chatter surrounding our Summer ball would be confined to the ladies of the house. Not so, most of 2013 has been taken up with the men boys trying to find a suitable suit. Tux or suit&tie? Tie or bow-tie? With a little JT on as inspiration, I have happily wiled away the hours searching for the perfect suit & trimmings.. I think I may have missed my calling as a man.

All images from my Pinterest Board: Modern Gentleman
Once the suit is sorted, it's all in the little details that transform a man into a gentleman..

All images from my Pinterest Board: Modern Gentleman
During one of many searches, we stumbled upon a great website called Indochino. For under £300, they customise & tailor a suit to your size & style, and ship it over from Canada in under 4 weeks. A certain someone in my house has fallen in love with this bad boy (the suit, not the man - I hope).. 

Here are some other treasures I found on my internet travels:

L-R Top to Bottom: Superdry Shirt, Zara pocket square, French Connection foulard, Zara suit, Zara shirt, Jack&Jones bow-tie, Zara bow-tie, Zara shirt, Zara suit
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Sunday, 7 April 2013

{A Dress A Day}

With the end of semester looming, & with it the end of my university career, the Leeds Summer Ball has been taking up a lot of my daydreaming time. Inevitably there will be a million photos to peruse and detag the morning after the night before, & I imagine these will be the ones to grace family walls & photo albums. A good dress is key, then! I had a little browse on Pinterest for inspiration.. with sequins & glitter definitely emerging as the predominant theme...

All images from my Pinterest Board
After I managed to bring myself back down to earth, I found some great, more affordable dresses on the high street  So far my favourite is the beaded French Connection dress, as I feel like it has a Great Gatsby vibe that I'm really into at the mo. Trust me to pick the second most expensive!
From L-R, Top to Bottom: Free People, Topshop, Lipsy, ASOS marketplace, French Connection, ASOS
Do you have a ball/prom coming up & what are you wearing? I can't wait to get dressed up, drink champagne, & then most likely do outrageous things that make good stories for future grandkids.

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Monday, 1 April 2013

{Music To My Ears}

I thought I'd change things up a bit & bring you some beautiful sounds from both sides of the pond (to keep my inner duality happy). As you can tell from my Latitude post, my music vibes are definitely acoustically inclined. I love the nu-folk scene, & singer-songwriters/bands who have a unique, relaxed sound. 


I recently got to catch Passenger at a small gig in Leeds. Mike Rosenberg, the man behind the name, is a busker by trade & nature - which is probably why he is able to create such an intimate atmosphere at his gigs. His chat and even his songs create a rare repartee with the audience - he's a great joker & storyteller alike. 'I Hate' is always a crowd-favourite, thanks to its universal, all-important truths: I hate ignorant folks, who pay money to see gigs, and talk through every fucking song... And I hate queuing up, for festival toilets, especially when you need a shit.

Let Her Go, video below, is a brilliant, heartfelt song. I also love an old duo Mike did with Katie Noonan called Bloodstains. Passenger is a perfect example of consistently good music, and he's easy on the eyes too! I reckon he's on the brink of stardom, so best to check him out now..

Moonrise Nation:

This Chicago-based trio are especially dear to my heart, as the two vocalists are cousins of mine. The band are just starting out on the scene, recording songs and performing in bars & caf├ęs, but their raw talent in both performance & song-writing is sure to take them far. They seem to have snuck off with all the talent in the family. Just kidding, we're not strictly related, so there really is no explanation for my tone deafness. 


I find their sound incredibly reminiscent of First Aid Kit, a Swedish folk duo - I've included a video of my favourite song of theirs, Emmylou, below. If you do anything today, listen to Monster on Moonrise Nation's Soundcloud page, written and sung by 15-year old Arden. Then you should listen to the rest.. I'm just telling you where to start. Midnight LSD is a fresh new release to check out.

When I was over in Chicago a couple summers ago, staying at my 'second home', we had a visit from another (distant) cousin of mine called Jordan, who plays in the up&coming band Kingsfoil. I returned home from the bars with my cousin Ana to find two members of Moonrise Nation & the whole of Kingsfoil having a jam session in the front room. It was a spectacular, beer-hazy moment; hearing the groups collaborate & listening to Jordan play an acoustic version of If You Love Something Push It Away, my favourite song of his. Kingsfoil have since taken on Frankie Muniz (Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle) as their drummer, so I'm hoping for another private gig soon!
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