It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything delightfully quirky so I thought I’d give y’all a little treat for your eyeballs – and perhaps a bit of gift giving inspiration! Old English Company are a stationery and homeware brand who create simple but stylishly quirky hand lettered designs, from prints and cards to mugs and pillowcases.
Having a little browse around I found some stuff that makes me happy, so I thought I would share that happy.
Everything is better in pyjamas. Who knew pillowcases were so wise? I totally support this statement and as I went to work in my pyjamas on Halloween I can confirm that this is 100% true.
Another saying I can totally get on board with would be this one – when life gives you lemons make a gin and tonic – on this lovely little coaster perfect for resting a cool glass of G&T on.
If anyone wants me I’ll be right over here in my PJs drinking gin and tonic ok?
Of course I’m going to have to include something travel related in here too aren’t I? I love this print of Australia (and you know how much I love Australia!). I like that it has various places in Australia written inside the shape of the country. So clever!
And for my animal loving peeps there’s some super cute tiger stuff to adorn yourself and your surroundings with, including these pins. I can’t decide which one I like best out of the two below… infact there’s quite a few enamel pins that take my fancy!
But it just so happens that Old English Company are running a competition to WIN some rather fierce heart-shaped pins. So if you fancy adorning yourself in something new and shiny then follow this link to win a set of enamel pins – competition closes 30th May 2018.
I’m a bit late writing about this now the hype around season 2 has kind of ended, but in a similar vein to the Elf night we hosted the other Christmas, we thought we’d invite people over and host a Stranger Things themed party.
So, if you fancy doing it yourself or perhaps want a head start before season 3, here’s how to host your own Stranger Things themed party…
Step 1: Channel Joyce channeling Will
Take a queue from Joyce Byers and string up a whole bunch of fairy lights. You don’t have to go as crazy as she did but at least get some nice coloured ones on your wall. We also hung some from the ceiling in our hallway too which culminated into a ball of light, you know, incase Will got in touch.
As for painting the alphabet on the wall like Joyce did, we just cut out some big black paper letters and taped them to the wire on the fairy lights so as not to damage the paint work. If you don’t want to draw your own letters, you can buy printable replicas of the tv alphabet here.
Step 2: Add some decorative touches
We printed out a couple of posters to stick up, one of which was Will’s missing poster, the other an E.T. inspired Stranger Things poster designed by my very talented husband. We also gave everyone temporary tattoos of the number 11, just like Eleven had.
Another idea would be to create a Stranger Things playlist (such as the theme tune and ‘Should I stay or should I go’ by The Clash) to play while you’re greeting your guests and eating dinner, kind of as a prelude before watching the show.
Step 3: Create a menu
You can go even more extra than sticking ’11’ tattoos on your guests, by printing your own Benny’s Burgers stickers and then sticking them onto a retro style ketchup bottle and burger bar style food baskets. Not only did we do this, but my husband also designed a menu which consisted of Stranger Things themed food: Benny’s Build a Burger (burgers and fries served in baskets, add your own toppings such as onion rings, gherkins etc), Elle’s Eggo Delight (waffles, obviously, except we don’t have Eggos in England) and then to wash it down “Hawkin’s Lab Cola” aka cans of coca cola.
His creativity puts me to shame.
Step 4: Sit back and enjoy the show
In all the excitement of making everything themed around Stranger Things, don’t forget to actually sit down and watch the show!
Looking for a slightly unusual dining experience in Costa Rica? Well I’ll tell you about two quirky restaurants I visited.
Tree House Restaurant – Santa Elena, Monteverde
We spotted this place on our way to our hotel in Monteverde, hard to miss really given that it has a blooming great big tree sticking out of the middle of it!
We were told a few days before by a taxi driver that Costa Ricans don’t like to chop trees down so instead build around them – roads, restaurants, whatever. The Tree House Restaurant was built in 2004 and in the middle sits a huge ficus tree!
We stopped at the Tree House for lunch after a morning at Selvatura Park. There’s plenty of choice on the menu. While my husband went for fajitas, I opted for a more traditional Costa Rican dish – Casado. Casado means “married” in Spanish and the dish can be best described as a marriage of food on a plate. Mine was a vegetarian version which consisted of rice, beans, tortilla, salad, veg, cheese, avocado and plantain. I quite enjoy meals where I can try lots of different things, variety is the spice of life after all!
I don’t know how the casado fared against other restaurants, but I enjoyed it! And if I ever went back to Santa Elena I’d be sure to stop by the Tree House again.
El Avion – Manuel Antonio
I thought I’d seen it all when I visited a McDonalds in an aeroplane in New Zealand but no, Costa Rica has a restaurant with a plane too. At El Avion, the plane is the bar area and the restaurant is just behind it.
Situated in the touristy town of Manuel Antonio, the plane is kind of what initially draws the tourists attention but on further inspection its actually the beautiful sunset views you get from the restaurant that makes people want to dine here. If you’re planning on watching the sun set here then get here early as everybody else has the same idea!
We both opted for fajitas which were nice but something didn’t quite agree with me and spoilt the evening. I don’t blame the restaurant though as hubby had the same and he was fine. Having said that though, I think if I ever come back to El Avion it would be for the cocktails!
Bit of a tourist trap but I can’t deny the sunsets were beautiful and it was lovely to spot a toucan in the distance.
Well we finally got round to our ‘K’ date! We decided to go to London and be kids for the day – something that anyone can do anywhere and is pretty much open to interpretation, in fact I reckon we could be kids for the day for several more dates and still not run out of things to do!
Our date began at the Natural History Museum, somewhere that neither of us have been since we were school children and my husband had told me that he was particularly fond of dinosaurs as a child. The other thing about the Natural History Museum is that its free! Perfect!
I enjoyed the animal exhibitions such as learning about toothless mammals and mammals with pouches. We also got to see some ginormous antlers, as well as a Moeritherium – one of the earliest known relatives to the elephant. And a Kirk’s Dik Dik because I was disappointed I didn’t see them at Chester Zoo (even though this was just a taxidermy one in a glass display).
Of course, I’m not gonna lie, the friggin great big animatronic T-Rex they had in the dinosaur bit was pretty awesome! Yep dinosaurs in general are pretty amazing when you think about it.
After lunch (which should have been a McDonalds Happy Meal but wasn’t because neither of us fancied it) we headed to our next stop – Alice’s Adventures Underground. Now you may remember that I already had a Wonderland experience 2 years ago with some friends, well it’s back and because I banged on about it so much first time around my husband decided he wanted to go. This of course represents a huge part of my childhood as I watched this Disney classic more times than I can tell you.
This time I chose the ‘eat me’ route and became a diamond. We met the frog, Cheshire Cat and Humpty Dumpty. We inspected the jam tarts that were being made (I was forced to hold the baby pig… not real, sadly) and we also heard the Mock Turtle sing.
Instead of eating the jams tarts (like I did last time), as a diamond we were spying on one of the other suits who were eating the jam tarts!
The ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ part as well as meeting Tweedledee and Tweedledum, plus the tea party scene, were all the same as last time around. The court scene, however, felt slightly different and I’m pretty certain that the guilty suit who ate the tarts was different to last time around too.
If you haven’t a clue what I am on about (we’re all mad here) then begin at the beginning and read about the last time I fell down the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures Underground.
After a brief pitstop in Skinny Dip to buy myself a fabulous new purse, our day of fun ended with freakshakes at Maxwell’s in Covent Garden. We ordered the Salted Caramel Donut Freakshake and the Unicorn Freakshake – you can guess which one mine was. The Unicorn Freakshake looks beautiful but the bubblegum flavour was a bit too much for me and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been strawberry flavoured. Ah well!
And there ends our day of being kids, let’s not dwell too much on me accidentally using the men’s toilets at Alice in Wonderland and hubby ordering himself a beer to go with his freakshake haha.
We did want to go to a Lego exhibition and Ballie Ballerson (the ball pit bar) but we were tired and ended up just going home. There are so many possibilities with the ‘Kids for the day’ date idea ranging from spending the day at a theme park (Disneyland please!) to a movie marathon of all your favourite childhood films!
Most people who know me will know that I’m an aspiring Crazy Cat Lady – hey even my Secret Santa gift at the office Christmas party was a crazy cat lady mug! So when I heard about the quirky cat sanctuary of Rome, I knew I had to pay a visit.
Just 5 minutes walk away from the Pantheon is the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary, home to around 150 cats who live in the ancient ruins. The ruins themselves are amongst the oldest in Rome (400-300BC) and are thought to be the place in which Julius Caesar was assassinated. As for the cats, they are free to wander the ruins and are very well cared for by a team of volunteers.
Visitors are welcome to visit from noon every day but you can’t just wander around the ruins, you can view from the street above or if you walk down the steps on the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina you can visit the little gift shop they have down there.
As well as the gift shop, there is also an indoor section of the sanctuary. This is mostly for cats that need to be indoors for health reasons, but of course other cats wander in and out of the shop part because cats pretty much do what they want don’t they?
The friendly volunteer who was minding the sanctuary on the day I visited showed me and my mum into the part of the indoor bit of the sanctuary that was locked (presumably to stop cats who didn’t need to be in there getting in there). I petted a random cat who was perched on a scratching post and then he/she climbed onto me and made me have cuddles!!! It was so cute. But sadly, all good things must come to an end but the cat was having none of it.
Eventually I did break free but I did feel guilty for cutting short our cuddles. However I did buy a calendar from the shop as the money goes straight back in to feeding and caring for the cats.
Torre Argentina is a wonderful place for a short visit and I would definitely recommend it to all animal lovers! For more information take a look at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary website.