w.i.w.t | the weather outside is weather

crown + shoes + bag : primark | shirt + skirt* : new look | lippy : kate moss for rimmel no. 16

youuuuuuu guuuuuuys it's so stupidly hot at the moment; i can't handle it anymore - not that i ever could, but there's a very good reason i left australia, and namely it was because of the never-ending heat. i will say this though, at least back home air conditioning comes as standard in domestic dwellings, and most houses will have roof fans for excellent air circulation too. it was 32 degrees on friday. 29 on saturday. it's barbaric to not have a/c in that sort of temperatures. last summer i was on the third floor as i am now, yes, but i also had windows on both sides of my flat making for excellent air flow. my new room has one smallish window, and only half of it opens! it's so unsatisfactory for a summer air flow situation. so unsatisfactory... especially as there's hardly any wind anyway.

i have been resorting to freezing towels before bed (genius idea) and sleeping with a cold towel instead of a blanket, and sleeping upside down in my bed so that my head is nearer the window in case a breeze decides to happen upon us. the storm the other night was the stuff nightmares are made off, yes, but you know what it did bring with it? rain! glorious, wet, rain! and a teeny tiny breeze too that meant a few hours of respite at about 4am on a friday morning. and then again at about 8am on a saturday morning. neither times were completely appropriate for a cracking storm, but... you gotta pick your battles around here.

i went online to buy a fan because it's all too much. wanna know something? the uk has sold out of fans. that's the situation we find ourselves in guys - the uk can't keep up with the demand for desk fans. it's getting out of hand; actually out of hand now. i've had quite enough of this. happy to resume regularly scheduled weathering whenever you are, mother nature dear. you've had a laugh. come on now, love.

what excellent tips do you have to share with me for this here heat wars?
leave them in the comment below. for the love of god.

stratford upon avon (looooong; grab a cuppa)

in mum's last week here in the UK, I took a few days off work to spend with her (as mentioned last week) before she left for another two years (accurate; she will be back). a few months ago we'd planned to spend part of that last week with Rebekah's aunty in the Cotswolds, and hoped to get out to Stratford-upon-Avon while we were out that way. unfortunately, things weren't able to go to plan, and when we saw some cheap train tickets to head out there anyway, we decided to just go for the day instead. so on Tuesday, we did!

it's far away, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. from Marylebone station it is over two hours by fast train, and Marylebone is about an hour from my house. so, pretty far. but, totally worth it when you finally get into the Stratford station, take a short stroll from the station past perfectly flowery and theatre-themed town pubs, and end up standing right outside William Shakespeare's house. so... pretty cool, no? also, how gorgeous are the Tudor buildings that line the mostly-cobbled streets in this bustling little village? answer: very gorgeous.

Mum headed off for an open-top bus tour while I had a wander along the Avon (I'd done a similar tour before and the cheapskate in me didn't want to pay again), and checked out the gift shop inside the Royal Shakespeare Company building; I bought some birthday gifts for friends (loved the Team Capulet/Team Montague badges!) and also some yellow nail varnish from a charity shop in one of the back alleys. it was a terrible waste of £1 as it was thick and clumpy and would have been returned if bought from an actual shop. pretty colour though!

after that I met up with mum and we went off to explore all the things she'd just learned about on her tour. we discovered the King Edward IV school that Wills used to attend as a kid, which is still a working school to this day (there were kids waving at us through the windows!), which was right by his last house and gardens, and where he finally died in 1616. as we rocked up the gardens, we noticed there was a chap dressed up as The Bard himself (that, or Cap'n Jack; hard to tell, we just assumed) regaling a group of school kids about the life and times of the man himself, and so naturally, we stood by and listened to what he had to say. when he moved on from the school we saw him walk past the most pretty little pub, so... we bunked off following the chump in the costume, for a well-earned country pub lunch instead!

ok so maybe it was a quaint little wetherspoons-esque pub and not the luxury London lifestyle we're used to (ha), but the windmill inn offered one of the cheapest pub lunches I'd ever seen - and bloody filling too! mother and I both opted for the deli lunch option, which was basically a fancy sandwich, a side, and a drink all for six quid. let me tell you this; a pint of cider was four quid. that made my sandwich and chips two of your Great British Pounds. barrrrgain. I had the southern fried chicken while mum had the pulled pork and slaw, and we both had a fizzy cider to wash it all down with. "yummo!" as my mum always says.

our final pit stop for the day before heading off was the Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are both buried. the last time I went to Stratford it was the dead of winter, and the church was closed. or... something, so we missed out on seeing their graves. a bit morbid, I suppose...oh wells. the church itself is super pretty inside and out - very gothic architecture, but with these stunning stained windows all the way around. very, very pretty. outside, there was a tree. I climbed it. the end.

the one thing I will openly begrudge Stratford-upon-Avon for is the lack of frequent transport back to the City. so, when we bought our tickets online, we just grabbed the ones on offer and picked the train times that suited from the bunch we were offered. so when it came to about 3pm and we were pretty tired of walking the same square mile, and started thinking about making our way back to London and I checked the trains going back that we could use our tickets for... one every two and half hours. we'd missed on at 3:05 and the next one wasn't until 5:35...

longest. wait. everrrrrrrr. thanks be to the bard himself for the always handy costa coffee located not too far from the station, where we found ourselves camped out for the next few hours while we waited for our ride home... Stratford, you were pretty but my gosh did you take up a lot of energy!

*this post contains a sponsored link. all words are my own*

hopscotch | honor oak park

with the biggest black sabbath and no-sleep hangover last saturday morning, and hunger pangs to remind me i hadn't eaten solid food since thursday night, my good friend hobbs coerced me out of my bed and up the high street to brunch. although technically i think it must have been 'lunch' as it was definitely after 1pm by the time we'd assembled at the train station to scour the local cafes for sustenance. having only lived in the area for just on a month, i still hadn't really delved too far into the foodie options available to me (outside of the local chinese and sainsbury's, naturally), so i was clearly of no help to poor hobbs.

thank fully we didn't have to wander too far - just opposite the sainsbury's local, a short stroll from the station, we found hopscotch bar and cafe. with a few diners sitting outside, and a sandwich board that indicated a beer garden out the back, this unassuming and slightly eclectic cafe appeared to cater for a lot of people; a really good sign. we had a quick peep of the menu to ensure they catered for our greasy desires, saw their eggs bene were about a fiver, and then headed in without a second thought.

we took a seat inside the main dining room, not sure what the weather was planning to do (and quite rightly wanting to avoid the bright day anyway), and looked over the varied menu. with a full brunch selection available all weekend, as well as a secondary burger menu and a wide variety of mezze and soup options - we were spoiled for choice. and that's forgetting the freshly baked pastries and cakes, and specialty tea menu available over the counter. yup. there's a lot going on. oh, and a fully stocked bar too - mostly specialising in craft and local beers, but we did note spirits and wines too. far too early for that though.
after a quick perusal of the menu and a slight miscommunication about how we'd like the coffees made, our orders were placed, and we waited... but not for long! in about ten minutes we had our meals (albeit not all of our drinks!), and we were feeding like wild animals (maybe just me actually). i'd ordered the full english (eggs, bacon, sausages, tomarto, mushroom and beans with toast - no hash browns?) and swapped out my sausages (bleurgh) for extra bacon (nom) so that hobbs could have some bacon too. she'd gone for the eggs benedict, but there was no option for her to add bacon to her meal. i suppose we could have asked? but we didn't.

the food was delicious. the coffee was made well. my only gripe was the service was a little slow - despite being super friendly and apologetic, we sort of had to ask for things rather than them be offered, etc. i mean, for a local cafe, this isn't a massive concern. but there were more staff in there than customer, so it just seems silly to me that they weren't more attentive to us... yeah. and the real bonus? incredibly affordable. we're talking almost wetherspoons prices for a greasy feed; the eggs bene were about a fiver, and the full english was not much more. so, in conclusion, i will definitely be back here for brunch. maybe i'll even try something off the other menu too.

their website tells me that every saturday night in july they're having live music in the bar from 8pm...
perhaps i will have to head on over to enjoy some of the local talents too.

a few words of thanks

so, on wednesday i shared my newest, most awesome news with you guys, in the longest, most open and heartfelt post i've ever written, and the response i had from you lot on that particular post moved me somewhere near tears. after mentioning in the post that my page views have been dropping, but comments have been on the rise, i woke up to find my views through the roof and opened my emails to ten emails by the time i even got to work. i just simply cannot believe the amount of you who've not only read the amount of words that i'd written, but who took the time to comment, to tweet me, to email me directly, all because of some tiny piece of good news that really only affects me.

that piece was one of the easiest posts i've ever written. i took me probably half an hour to put into words my love for this little hobby of mine, and yet it now stands as one of my most popular posts. over some of the pieces i've spent days crafting to make sure was funny enough, had perfectly edited pictures and made sense, this one real-life piece of my brain that sort of wrote like a bit of word vomit, is the one that got the biggest round of applause.

do i think that's because i was sharing good news and you are all just really polite? no. do i think that's because you all now think i'm going to hook you up with excellent things from my new job? no. well, i'd hope not. what i actually think has happened, is that i've gone "omgyouguysssssi'vegotsomethingtosaaaaay", and you - like any good bloody friend would, sat there and listened. and then when i was done telling you all about me (because despite me sharing every little piece of my life on here, i'm definitely not that girl who over shares on the regular) and the only piece of excellent news i've actually had to share in this whole shit-heap of a year, you sat there and went, "wow erica, that's so awesome, i'm so pleased for you - well done!"

and do you want to know something? that means more to me, than you will ever know.
i don't make friends easily. i'm a bit of a moody cow. i have a terrible case of bitchy resting face, and i'm not really... nice. i'm kind of, sarcy. well, i pretend it's sarcasm; usually it's thinly veiled judgement. whatever. what i'm saying is, that i don't really make friends well. the friends i do have (for real, in the flesh), know how horrid i can be, and still love me and stick by me for it. they're my people; the ones i'd (probably) die for. the ones who'd (probably) catch a grenade for me. or at least give me their last rolo and share their free bottle of prosecco with me. the important things, yeah? they've been collected and curated over time, and i'm more than lucky to have them all in my life.

but you. you're a virtual stranger. honestly, with the exception of a few of you who i have actually had the pleasure to meet, you're all... strangers. which, is horrible to say out loud. because, over the last two and a bit years living here on the internet, i've come to know a lot of you so well. i know your birthdays, we've shared mail, i've been to some of your houses! i know your child's name, where they go to school, what sort of car you drive. you know (now) where i work, the area that i live in, and the faces of a lot of my people. and, i reckon that's all pretty scary stuff, right?

like, that's what they tell you about the internet, don't they? that everyone is scary and mean and a bully and a fraud and wants to kill you. erm... well, what about those people who actually want to jump through the internet and hug you a massive congratulatory hug when you have something exciting to say? or the ones who email you when you're being miserable on twitter and tell you to man up? or the ones that band together and buy you an online grocery shop when you can't afford bread? what about those online people? are they to be avoided at all costs too, or are they ok? i don't even know what i'm trying to say anymore.

what i wanted to say, was a giant thank you, from the bottom of my heart to yours; your kind words and praise when i was least expecting it was the most incredible form of friendship i've witnessed from "strangers", ever. and i saw a geezer buy a frozen drink for the big issue seller that morning. i thought that had made my day. nope. you made my day. you are one of the best friends i've ever had the pleasure to know.

i hope we stay friends for a long time, and that one day i can return the favour.

a wander through windsor (+ a castle)

with mum only in the country for a few more days, I took all of last week off to spend some quality time with her. we had hoped to see and do all of the things while she was here, a lot of the things she did on her own or with family, because her particular bucket list was suuuuper long; she was constantly making me feel envious of her travel and tourist days, because a lot of the stuff she'd seen and done in her three months here, I'd not seen and done in my almost-four years here. terrible form.

so, to right some wrongs, we made use of our last week together; on Monday we headed just outside of London, to Royal Windsor, to enjoy the English countryside (and bipolar weather) and see if we couldn't spot some royals in the process. the train from Waterloo took around fifty minutes, which is actually not that bad when you consider that from my station at Honor Oak in the South East to Islington in North London is just over forty minutes on the London Overground. so, we had some snacks and some mediocre coffees, and we arrived just before midday.

the walk into town from the station was saaaaah pretty. the streets were already rammed with tourists there to do the exact same thing as us, and being that it was the first day of the summer holidays, there were lots of families out in force too. we totally misjudged a good time to go, that's for sure. nevertheless, the walk up to the castle was pretty quick, and within minutes we had made our way past quite a lot of Royals-themed pubs, shops, phone booths - you name it, it was Royalist. quite fun, but a bit... obvious too. we found the back of the line for those wanting to check out the castle (long), and joined it - assured it would be a maximum of a ten minute wait.

weeeeeell, it was more like a twenty-five minute wait, but it wasn't too bad. at least it was sunny and we had lots of things to take photos of and weird families and tourists to laugh at to pass the time. once we made it inside and past the very few turnstiles for the amount of people that must pass through the castle gates everyday (apparently we'd picked a *quiet* day, as the day before was 100x as bad), we picked up our free audio guides and headed for George's Gate. this is precisely where I stop remembering facts and simply start cooing about how prettttty everything was and how greeeeat all of the pictures turned out. lolz!

we were absolutely not allowed to take pictures inside any of the state apartments or exhibitions inside the main halls, but trust me - it was all gold, all pretty, super old, and lots of guns. so many guns! guns arranged as art work! guns as centre pieces! guns guns everywhere! someone has a weird fettish for guns up in that house. we did not bump into Her Mag while we wandered the busy, busy halls, but we had a Royally great time in there, and were pretty sad when we came to the end. we bid our farewells to the enormous grounds after checking out the chapel and having the obligatory photo with the guards, and then made our way into the pretty village for some foooood.

we had a wee rest up in the local Patisserie Valerie where we got a bargainous cream tea (but coffee) for two, for a measly seven pounds! what a steal! to be honest, sitting in those lovely and comfy leather chairs while my phone charged secretly on my lap (the electricity came for free with the coffee!) was the only thing we wanted to be doing after being caught in the rain at the castle, and slightly damp from walking the grounds in the misty rain for the last few hours. a scone and coffee was the one.

after sustenance we wandered through the winding back alleys and into the Royal Arcade of shops and had a wee potter in the token royalist shops, looking for treasures for family back home. satisfied after a few hours, we headed out to the Alexandra Gardens and down to the river just so I could ask the wildlife to "stop looking at me, swan!" before making the slight jog to the station to get the 4pm train back to Waterloo so we'd miss the rush back in town.

of all the museums and palaces and old-things mum made me see while she was here, this one was definitely my favourite old-thing, and definitely worth the £18 entrance fee. plus, once you've been in and paid once, you can get your ticket stamped which means you get free entry for the rest of the year. I have - of course, lost my ticket, but had I ben born with some common sense I would totally have put it somewhere safe and gone back again. I think I'd quite like to remember some of the things I learned on the audio tour, but probably needed a few gos at listening to have it sink in. or a proper Beefeater Tour. that would be amazing too.

have you been to Windsor Palace? what do you remember of the tour?