Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stuttgart day 2

Day two in Stuttgart was all about exploring. After some exciting Porsche action on day 1, we wanted to explore the city and find out more... we had no idea what to expect as we really only picked Stuttgart for the car museums.

 The S-Bahn was excellent - really easy to use and everything was really close by. That is, it was easier to use after our fifth attempt to buy a ticket from five different machines. Turns out they don't like to accept Euros, which makes it difficult given that's the currency in Germany. Sigh.

We wandered around town and the architecture was just brilliant. We will go back in the summer so we can spend longer looking at it!

Lots of nice squares and buildings...

This one had shops in :) 

The covered market was EXCELLENT. So many beautiful stalls and it felt really vibrant. Still didn't buy anything (am being good!)

Ok, so Saturday was about finding a pub to watch the rugby. I didn't know how popular the Six Nations would be in Germany so I did a bit of googling before we went - and found Biddy Early's.  When we arrived there was a big crowd of Germans, but no one was sitting down. All the tables were reserved for the music (after the rugby) so it was pretty quiet for a while.

We won the rugby - it was very surreal being in a German Irish bar, surrounded by French - watching England v France. As usual, I was a bit vocal about my support for England. Nick had to tell me to sssh!

Sorry about the dark picture - this is me with my glass of wine. That was strong. Followed by a Freshtivaaaal (vodka, lime and lemonade) or two, which were strong.

Followed by amazing mojitos back in the hotel bar. Which, surprise surprise, were very strong!!

I went to bed having drunk a little bit too much and completely knackered from the exploring. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stuttgart - day 1

This weekend we went to Stuttgart. Not your average tourist destination, but we were really looking forward to it. For those who follow my twitter/instagram (kes1981) I'm sure you'll have seen some of these pics already...

I say 'we'. I mean 'Nick'. The trip was my birthday present to him. We'd talked about a weekend break to Berlin or Cologne - I speak some (very) basic German, he'd never been and it was somewhere a bit different from our normal sunshine-based holidays. He mentioned Stuttgart, then it popped up in Avengers Assemble and my mind was made up.

It's also the home of Porsche and Mercedes. More on that later...

We had a super early start - the flight left Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7:50. AM. This is a STUPID time. But there's something to be said about empty duty free shops at 6am - and I'm proud to report that of course I started my weekend by shopping!

We stayed at the Hotel am Schlossgarten in the centre of town, minutes from the train station. First things first, the service in this hotel was excellent. We arrived early, but they gave us vouchers for tea and coffee because our room wasn't available. The service in the restaurants and bars was excellent. Our room was fab, with lovely views.

So we dumped our bags and headed straight off for the Porsche Museum. Wow, lucky me.

Nick, despite owning the oldest car in the world, is obsessed with cars. The Porsche Museum is like his dream, and he was like a kid. He ran from car to car, excited beyond belief. He went round once. He then had to go round again, while I sat and used up my entire day's allowance on my phone playing on Twitter. He also didn't have to read the info about the cars because he knew it already.

I don't really 'get' cars, but even I could tell that this museum was pretty awesome. Such a stylish place, and just quite lovely to walk round. Not snobby at all, given the exclusive cars on show, and we ate in the cafe bar on the ground floor, highly recommend the food.
My new car

Then we headed back to town (only about 5 stops on the S-Bahn) and wandered around the shops. The hotel was on the main street - I swear I didn't know when I booked it!

We had a lovely wander... including the obligatory stop in Starbucks for their free Wifi (and for Nick to read his new Porsche book.)

Nick reading his Porsche book

But it was soooo cold, and snowed lightly the whole time we were there! It was -5 when we landed, so I was very glad I'd taken my big furry parka. Best purchase ever!

We had a lovely meal and a few drinks back in the hotel. A bloody good day.

View from hotel window. No idea what it's of.

Come back to read about days 2 and 3...

Monday, February 18, 2013

My favourite places

I'm not into travelling. If you gave me a rucksack and offered me a year of backpacking I couldn't do it - not only am I too small to lift the bag, but I have certain standards. And a hostel doesn't fit into those standards.

I know people who've loved backpacking. Who have shared rooms with strangers, crammed onto dodgy public transport and seen the world's most famous landmarks on the cheap.

Yeah, that is so not me.

I'm lucky enough to have visited a few places, but definitely not on the cheap. I'm more than happy to pay for a better standard of hotel room, and most definitely for one with my own bathroom. I like a hotel with a bar and comfy bed and I like a good shower and couldn't live without wifi. I don't even care if you point out what I'm missing - the real, off-the-tourist-trail stuff. I'm happy doing it my way.

I have a few places that I want to visit again and again...

1. Huntly, Aberdeenshire
I have family here. It's a small town in the Highlands of Scotland and it's gorgeous. Beautiful small town square, lots of land for walking and a brilliant castle. Beautiful scenery and a gorgeous hotel (Huntly Castle Hotel) and... the best thing... a shortbread factory. Dean's of Huntly, the ONLY shortbread worth buying people.

The Isle of Skye - local beer anyone?
2. The Isle of Skye
Yep, continuing the Scottish theme! Skye is beautiful. Drive over from the east of Scotland and you drive along Loch Ness through unparalleled scenery. On your way home drive the length of Loch Lomond. As you go round every corner the scenery gets more stunning. It's a five hour drive to Glasgow but a bloody good one.
I visited Skye in the summer, so it was full of midges and misty. Yep, lovely. But it stuck in my heart - it's peaceful, calm and fresh. Just breathe in that clean air (we don't have it in the cities any more) and be confused when it stays light so late, and just go for a walk. Now, I'm the laziest person I know, so the fact I'm recommending a walk means it's pretty good.

The Waldorf Astoria, NYC
3. New York
I'd go again tomorrow. Love it, haven't seen enough of it, but after my last trip I need to SAVE up before I go there again!  Fave hotel: the New York Palace. Fave restaurant: Recipe, Upper East Side Fave sight: Top of the Rock. Must see: Grand Central Station

Antigua - one of the amazing views from our hotel
 4. Antigua
I am lucky enough to have a brother who wanted to get married abroad. THANK YOU! We stayed at CocoBay and as soon as I have the money, I'm going back. I loved it here. The people were amazing, the sun shined, the water was turquoise and the rum! oh my, the rum!

 5. Bourton-on-the-water
A proper Cotswold village. A bit touristy but go in the week and it feels calm and looks like a postcard. My grandpa used to prop up the bar at the Old New Inn so I'll always pop in in memory of him. Then I'll go to Birdland (seriously, they have penguins).

And I'll say that line from Hot Fuzz "You wanna be a big cop in a small town? F*ck off up the model village". Makes me laugh every time. When I visit the model village.

So as you can see, my taste ranges quite a lot. From the local villages to the big cities, something about these places has stuck, and I hope to visit many more times.

After my trip down under later this year. SO EXCITED I MIGHT BURST!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't touch my magazines

In the spirit of helping you all learn a bit more about me, I wanted to tell you about my *slight* obsession.

I changed the name of my blog today, to something that is very important to me. Yep, my name is Kate and I'm a magaholic. 

I subscribe to eight magazines a month. I also buy Grazia religiously every month. I have a problem, here's why:
  • I subscribe so they come in plastic and no one has touched them (also it's cheaper)
  • If I buy a magazine in the shop, I take one from the middle of the pile
  • I CANNOT skip ahead - if I see a headline that attracts me, I have to read the whole magazine in order to get to that story
  • I take my own magazines to the hairdressers - then no one has touched them but me
  • I once bought a second copy of a magazine when I spilled a drink on the first copy
  • I once stabbed someone with a fork for touching an unread magazine
I recently subscribed to my first digital magazine. I love it, but it's not replacing my print versions. It's a photography weekly and designed specifically for the iPad - nothing will ever replace print magazines for me. Every time one comes through my door I get a bit excited about it - and nothing beats sitting down on a Friday night with a glass (bottle) of wine and a pile of new magazines. Yeah I know, I'm a loser. I don't care.

I also have to restrict myself to 8! I love Vanity Fair, Tatler, Elle, Vogue etc etc but I'd spend a fricking fortune if I bought all the ones I wanted!

And I can almost hear you saying... "How much does that lot cost?"

Well I've added it up. I've always avoided doing this.

I spend AT LEAST £350 a year on magazines. £350!!!!! Bloody hell!

Oh well, I have the last three years' worth of BBC Good Food, Practical Photography and Digital Camera nicely stored away. The rest... well, I need to donate them to a doctor's surgery so someone else can get some fun out of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I hate Valentine's Day.

Ok, hate is a strong word. I dislike it and wish it didn't exist.

When I was 10, a boy brought a Valentine's card to my house. I had heard the gossip that he might do this so I hid. I ran to my friend's house and hid. Until my brother was sent to get me. I was dragged home and promptly hid in the bathroom until the boy pushed the card under the door, left the chocolates outside and then went home.

Embarrassing? Mortifying. 

So when you add in the fact that I didn't really have a boyfriend until I was about 21 then you can see why I'm not that keen on 14 February.

I was shy, I was mousy and I was just a bit afraid of boys, so the idea of declaring your love for someone on one day of the year just seemed unimaginable. Since then I've had three boyfriends and it's not really changed my view. The only 14th February that has been particularly traumatising was when I was ten - the rest have just passed by. Although one boyfriend gave me a present that he found/stole (including a perfume that was delivered to his house by accident).

 I just don't like the idea that we should only declare our feelings on ONE day of the year. On that one day when restaurants come up with set Valentine's menus that cost way more than normal. When cards are sold in shops that are so sickening I can't even look. When children are encouraged to buy expensive flowers/chocolates/cuddly f*cking toys for their 'school sweetheart'. When we're only buying stuff because we've been told to.

If you're single, you're made to feel left out. If you're in a relationship, it's a competition to find out the most romantic couple (especially with bragging on Facebook, twitter and Instagram - oh god, the photos!)

So ignore Valentine's day. I'm not against romance, far from it. How about you tell your special someone you love them all year round? Or if you can only do it on one day of the year, why not pick their birthday, when you (hopefully) buying them a present anyway. My boyfriend sends me random greeting cards if he sees them in a shop, and thinks I'll like them, whatever the time of year. The card can be about anything (but mostly features dogs). It's so much better when it's a surprise, and i know it's only cost him £1.50 instead of £3 V-day price.

If you're single? It doesn't matter - despite what the media are trying to tell you. I'll happily go out with single friends rather than my boyfriend on V-day. Or I used to go and watch an action film at the cinema - by myself. Or i'll put my pyjamas on and read magazines, which I do most nights.

 I don't want a present, I don't want a card, I don't want flowers. I want to spend time with him, but I want that most days, not just 14th February.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

To share or not to share

Hi, I'm Kate. Nice to meet you.

Today is Shrove Tuesday. Pancake day. A day to stuff ourselves silly with the greatest snack ever created. Traditionally it was the day to use up rich foods before the fasting of Lent - now we live in such a world of excess that people have to BUY all the ingredients in order to make pancakes, and then they just give up something that probably counts as a luxury item anyway!

But that's not what my blog is about. In honesty, I have no idea what it'll be about - I'm pretty free with my opinions on Twitter and I imagine this will be more of the same. I might offend, I might insult - I don't mean it and I am happy to discuss it like grownups. If you just post comments slagging me off?? Well, you're just wasting my time and yours, grow up. (I might do a post on trolling at some point... or comments on the Daily Mail/Guardian news stories... both these things p*ss me off, but there might be too much swearing so i'll wait a bit!).

So get to the point you're all shouting!

The reason I started to blog today is because I had a flash of inspiration on the train home tonight. For Lent, I'm giving up.... laziness.

I have always wanted to blog but I haven't... because I'm lazy.

I want to get fit but I find it hard... because I'm lazy.

I want to learn to cook but I don't... because I'm lazy.

Anyway you get the point. So from tomorrow (today if you count this post!) I am going to do all those things I want to do. If someone asks me to do something or go somewhere, I'm not going to instinctively say no - although please don't ask me to do something stupid, that's just mean!

This is like one of those 'just say yes' campaigns where people say yes to everything they're offered - and that's how it might turn out. But i need to start on the small things first and maybe that will come later.

So back to me. I'm Kate, I'm 30 (oh yeah, that's another reason for this - life is going by far too fast) and I work in Corporate Communications. I look forward to getting to know you all.