Winter Fun at Winter Wonderland

Over-priced food, busy rides, and freezing weather – what else but Winter Wonderland! My sister and I visited Winter Wonderland a few days before Christmas to enjoy the lights and sights, especially as both of us have not been for a few years. We enjoyed a few (expensive!) rides, and had a look around to enjoy the fun vibe in the air and the beautiful lights. One of the things we liked as well was exploring the market which is around the area, which sells lovely hand-made goods and pretty pieces.

I’m not sure I’ll be going again next year as I did find the rides and food very expensive – we easily spent over £30 on two rides which felt a little extortionate, especially as most theme park tickets now cost this much. It is a seasonal thing and it has a nice atmosphere, but it makes me think that Winter Wonderland is an example of a seasonal thing which has become too commercialised, which takes advantage of the holiday season to make a lot of money! While I understand that this is normal for the Christmas season, I have decided a long while ago that when I do spend my money, I’d like to spend it on things which are worth it, good value and also enjoyable!

But that’s enough for now – here’s a few snaps I took at Winter Wonderland. Unforunately my phone camera is great at night time, but I did try!

Autumn Vibes at Queen Elizabeth Park

I love when I’m strolling through somewhere on my lunch break and I find something memorable. This a pretty spot my sister showed me recently which is close to my office, and makes for a lovely place to sit and enjoy the view. Not to mention the huge slide and swing which is about 10 feet away from this, which doesn’t hurt!

I’ll miss the pretty colours when the leaves all drop off (as they are already starting to!) but it will be exciting to see the night lights and seasonal decor around London!

Argentinian Flavours at Elvet Steakhouse

Hubby and I recently tried out gourmet steakhouse Elvet Steakhouse located in East London. I was quite excited to try their food as I have heard nothing but high praise, and I am partial to a good steak!

Starters – Nano burgers and chicken satays:
The nano burgers were tiny little sliders, which tasted gorgeous – I would happily have eaten several of these in one go! The chicken satays were nice and tender, which came in roasted peppers and a savoury tangy sauce.

Mains / sides –  Argentinian Black Angus Fillet with rustic chips and coleslaw, Argentinian Black Angus Sirloin with crushed potatoes:
Both of the steaks were beautifully done, not overcooked and very tender. The fillet was slightly more tender as it had no fat, but the sirloin has a slightly more juicy taste to it – both were excellent. The rustic chips were a yummy side but I was less of a fan of the crushed potatoes, which felt a bit too heavy!

Dessert – Alcohol-free tiramisu, caramel cheesecake
The restaurant kindly bought these out as we were about to leave, and I was glad they did! The tiramisu was creamy and smooth, with just a hint of coffee flavour, and the cheesecake was beautifully smooth with an added sharpness from the berries.

Drinks – Passionate Lady, Berrylicious, Mango Bellini and Bubblegum mojito
Out of the 4 drinks we had, the bubblegum mojito was both of our favourite – it tasted pleasantly fruity without being too sweet. The Berrylicious was a nice flavoured sweet drink, and the Passionate Lady had a really nice lassi feel to it. The Mango Bellini was nice but could have had a slightly fruitier taste to it, but tasted fresh so this is a plus.

Despite the vast amount of halal restaurants in London, I have found it difficult to find a decent halal steak place who know what they’re doing with their meats. The owner explained how he sources his halal meat directly from Argentina and learned the process of drying, adding flavours and how to cook the meat properly, and this is reflected in the food. Having said that, be warned, the prices are slightly pricier than east London restaurants tend to be, which may put people off!

EVALUATION:
HALAL : yes – hmc confirmed
VEGETARIAN & VEGAN OPTIONS AVAILABLE: Vegeterian – yes, Vegan – no
PRICE : £25-35 for steaks, can be around £40-50 per person for a 3 course meal with drinks
RATING OUT OF 10: 9
LOCATION: 392 Romford Rd, Forest Gate, London E7 8DF

The Hill Garden and Pergola at Hempstead

I love finding beautiful spaces that are hidden away, London’s secret gems. I recently visited the Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola, which is a beautiful garden with a walk-through pergola that looks really enchanting. Now that it has hit summer, the garden is blooming with lots of greenery and pretty flowers, and it’s a great place to walk through and enjoy.

Here are a few snaps from my last visit, which was a really enjoyable afternoon. We went during a weekday so it was pretty quiet – perfect for a few isolated shots of a beautful vista!

I’d recommend a visit if you’re ever near the area – it really feels like a secret, hidden away garden, and it’s lovely no matter which time of the year! I visited last year in autumn as well, and the shades of colours look amazing, so don’t worry if you think you can’t see it in the summer season : )

Katharina Grosse: This Drove my Mother up the Wall

I saw this exhibition not too long ago, by artist Katharina Grosse, which I thought was pretty memorable. It’s called ‘ This Drove my Mother up the Wall’ at the South London Gallery, and features a room covered in boldly thrown paint on walls and doors.

I loved the rainbow effect of this piece – it’s vibrant, alive, messy but beautiful and while walking around the room, it felt like I was in a colourful wonderland. There’s colourrs on parts of the floor, ceiling and doors as well as the wall, although none of it is organised or structured.

I really love the feel of this piece – it reminds me of chaos but in a cheerful way – rather than being an angry piece or a hostile one, it is enthusiastic, a little like thoughts spilling out which can’t be contained.

I’m looking forward to seeing the artist’s next exhibition which is currently on at the Gagosian Gallery in London, which is another colourful, vibrant piece that is on until the end of the week – I recommend you visit if you get the time!

Waffles for Brunch

I’m sure you’ve seen that brunches have become very fashionable these days – who does breakfast and lunch separately when you can go for the cool menu and have something special (and instagrammable?)

I’ll admit I love the idea of brunches – it’s more filling than breakfast and usually prettier than a lunch. And here’s another thing – it’s usually cheaper than going for lunch but still comes in decent portions! Having said that. one of the things I’ve always said about living in London (and enjoying a social life in London!) is that it can be pricey – eating out can add up and sometimes it isn’t always worth it.

One of the things I am starting to do more is make quality food at home where I can make something easy, and understand how to put it together. This is a waffle and fruity brunch my friend made for me when I visited her recently (we even melted chocolate and poured it over as artistically as we could, which wasn’t much), which we sat for a little while and enjoyed some banter – it was filling, cheap and best of all we didn’t need to go out in the cold at all!

Glow Trees in Liverpool Street

My sister and I came across these lovelies a few weeks ago in Broadgate, next to Liverpool Street station – beautiful glow trees. The art installation is called Lumen, part of artist David Ogle’s collection called Light Traces, and designed to make us stop from our busy lives and appreciate the environment around us, by enjoying the bursts of colour in the dark after a short winter day.

One of the things that I liked about these pretty trees was how cheerful and calming they look, and how nice it is to walk around and bask in the coloured lights. It’s striking how simple the trees look together, and yet when you look a little closer and see how the different pieces are fixed together, it’s surprising how much more complex it actually is.

This art piece will be up in Broadgate until 22nd February 2018, so if you’re around then take a quick look, it’s a nice place to stop and admire for a little while.

The Grand Details of Leadenhall Market

I recently found myself walking through the beautiful, 14th century Leadenhall Market which is located near Tower Hill. I didn’t realise that the actual market doesn’t run on weekends, so got the chance to see the ornate walls and arches up close and while it was quiet.

There’s something beautiful, yet eerie about walking through these halls – you can see just how much history it carries, and the grandness of it all encapsulates the beauty perfectly. Apparently the Market is situated in the centre of what was Roman London – which just shows that it is so much more than a market or a walkway to it all.

If you’re around the area, I’d recommend a visit through the grand halls of Leadenhall Market so you can explore and feel the weight of the history, and to enjoy the beautiful atmosphere as you walk along.