I know I say this almost every month, but July's been a busy one - so much so that I'm writing this post at 5pm on 31 July on a train hurtling between Edinburgh and London in a desperate bid to publish it on time. In reality, I'm going to get home and crawl into bed, leaving all thoughts of blogging (and unpacking) behind. Whenever you're reading this, here's what I got up to in July 2018.
What I've done in July
As I'm writing this, I can't believe it's only a couple of weeks since Emma and I went on a huge shopping trip at Lakeside, followed by lunch at TGI Fridays. It still surprises me when people say they've never been there - not in a judgemental way, because there are plenty of restaurants I have no interest in but, like, what did you do with you childhood? The shakes aren't quite as good as they used to be (remember when they were thick enough to render straws ineffective?), but it's still my go-to for a decent serving of comfort food.
The trip was a combination of (late) birthday day out and oh-my-goodness-we-have-nothing-to-wear-let's-go-nuts, and turned out to be an expensive one, not because of what I bought, but because my car broke down in spectacular fashion on the way home. Still working on getting that fixed...
I had myself a little adventure closer to home in July in the form of a bat trip. Tonbridge River Trips run occasional bat-watching tours, taking a boat out on the River Medway at dusk with a wildlife expert on board. Spending my Monday night with a boatload of strangers in the pitch black was slightly surreal, but if you're looking for something unusual to do in Tonbridge, it's worth doing.
Where I've been in July
I'm so glad I wrote my 2018 to-do list at the start of this year, as it's gone a long way to keeping me motivated. For about four years, I've been planning a solo trip to Edinburgh but keep finding excuses to put it off. This month, I finally made it to the Scottish capital, ticking a bucketload of things off the to-do list in just three days, including climbing Arthur's Seat (may I take a moment to tootle my own trumpet about the fact that I scaled a flippin' volcano... solo?!?), visiting the castle and, the reason for my trip, seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. More blog posts about the trip to follow, but I will say three things:
1) Pandas are cute
2) Edinburgh is HILLY
3) If you go to Edinburgh in late July, but leave before the Festival actually starts, people think you're really weird.
My trip to Edinburgh followed very closely behind a long weekend in Cambridge with family, which contributed to my aim to visit a new place each month. Cambridge is a beautiful city, but we found there wasn't as much to do in the city centre as we'd hoped. Worth visiting, but perhaps for a day trip rather than a whole weekend.
Back in London, the pagoda at Kew reopened to the public this month, and I was sent along to cover it. The stairs are a challenge, but it's worth the climb to the top for those views in all directions of London. Further skyline views came in the form of a launch party for the new bar and restaurant at the top of the Gherkin - that's another London skyscraper ticked off the list.
What I've eaten in July
Just the two afternoon teas this month (sorry lads, haven't had time to review them on this blog yet, but follow the links for my reviews elsewhere). The Franklin Hotel very kindly invited me to try its Frida Kahlo themed afternoon tea, tying in with the current exhibition at the V&A. The octopus sandwiches are an acquired taste, but beyond that, the chef has done an excellent job of marrying a traditional English afternoon tea with Mexican flavours.
A bit further east, the Swan at the Globe is playing on its Shakespeare connections with a Midsummer Night's Dream pop-up. By day, you can eat afternoon tea in Titania's Tea Garden overlooking the Thames, and by night it transforms into some sort of gin-ladled debauchery. The room is beautifully
This being 2018 London, that wasn't even the most floral part of my month. I ate the most delicious pancakes among fake flowers and a giant purple teddy bear at Drunch, a cafe-restaurant just off Oxford Street. I walked past it a few months ago, coincidentally just after it had been refurbished, and knew the floral frontage would make it popular. I finally got in there to film this month, and haven't been able to stop thinking about those pancakes since.
It's starting to sound like I spent the whole month eating (and I haven't even mentioned the restaurants I ate up in Edinburgh and Cambridge), but there's more. Dinner in the Sky was a thrilling experience, dining up above London on a table suspended from a crane. The food was delicious, but the organisation of the event was appalling, rendering it unworthy of the steep ticket price in my opinion. On a happier note, Claw in Carnaby is dishing up delicious comfort food in Carnaby, and I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I dined with famous party chef Dominique Ansel at his eponymous Belgravia bakery.
What's next?Again, I know I say this every month, but I'm really hoping August is a quiet one. After the travel and the expense of July, I could do with a bit of downtime. My diary is currently looking beautifully empty for the month... see you this time next month to find out if it stays that way.
See also - what I got up to in:
- June 2018 (Flower picking, zoo lates and more buffalo chicken)
- May 2018 (Doughnut-making, Chester, and seaside trips)
- April 2018 (Abbeys, doughnuts and pizza)
- March 2018 (Skyscrapers, scuba diving and Winnie the Pooh)
- January 2018 (Fondue, freakshakes and light festivals)
- December 2017 (Lions, lanterns and buffalo chicken)
- November 2017 (Christmas at Kew and the BT Tower)
- October 2017 (Lake District, Harry Potter cocktails and Alice in Wonderland)
- September 2017 (Doughnuts, dolphins and Bulgaria)
- August 2017 (Canal boats, zipwires and tiger shoes)
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