January Favourites

It’s a brand new year so I thought I would inject some new enthusiasm, positivity and happiness into the blog, it’s not all travel, travel, travel.

So here for this month are my FIVE JANUARY FAVOURITES!

My January Favourites - QuirkyLittlePlanet.com

1. Gingerbread popcorn

Anything that combines two of my favourite things HAS to be a winner! I love gingerbread and I actually think I might need to go to some sort of popcorn rehab or something. This Butterkist popcorn is coated with cinnamon and ginger flavour toffee, I had to stop myself from eating the whole bag in one sitting. It is limited edition, which is probably a good thing as I could quite easily get addicted to this stuff!

2. Barry M Twinkle Twinkle nail polish

I’ve developed a little obsession with the colour rose gold and I’ve been hunting around for a cruelty-free rose gold nail polish that is affordable. I found this beauty being sold exclusively in Superdrug and was not disappointed! It’s a lovely colour, my photo and my strangely unphotogenic hands really don’t do it justice. Just one thing though, much like the popcorn it is limited edition so go get it quick!

Barry M Twinkle Twinkle Limited Edition rose gold colour cruelty free nail polish

3. Safari animal gloves

If my unphotogenic hands prove too much for you, then good news! I can hide them with these quirky gloves. I went into Sainsburys for some travel currency and ended up leaving with a tub of ice cream and these ridiculous gloves. They have safari animals on the fingertips! I promise you they are adult gloves, but I literally can’t do anything in them because they are that ridiculous. However, they are pretty good for putting on impromptu puppet shows!

Safari animal gloves

4. American sitcoms

As much as I enjoy gripping shows like The Walking Dead and fascinating programmes such as Planet Earth II, I will always find something soothing in watching a sitcom. Friends, to me, was the television equivalent of a large mug of tea and a snuggly duvet, and now The Big Bang Theory has filled that void. Just recently, Melissa & Joey have been there to nurse me through a hangover, while New Girl reminds me that it’s ok that I don’t have my shit together. I’ve also recently got into watching The Goldbergs and I think I’m starting to turn into the mom… except my snuggle monster is my cat 🙂

5. Yoga

One of my Christmas gifts was a yoga mat. I wanted one because I feel like it shows commitment. I have been going to a Wednesday evening yoga class, I did start going last year (and using one of the weird smelling mats they have at the gym) but with my own mat I can then practise a little at home too. I’m well aware of the benefits of yoga and I think it will be good for me, both in body and mind. Don’t worry though, you won’t see any instagram shots of me doing the tree pose on the beach just yet. Teehee!

How was your January? What helped you through the January blues? Leave me a little comment below or tweet me @quirkylilplanet

Hyper Japan 2015

This Saturday I attended the Hyper Japan Festival at The o2 in London, an exhibition dedicated to all things Japanese. Naturally, being a bit of a Japanophile myself, I was eager to attend.

We opted for the Saturday morning slot (9am – 3pm) which was perfect as it wasn’t too busy when we arrived just before 9am but getting quite hectic by the time we left (around 2pm).

I will admit I spent longer choosing my outfit for the day than I have spent picking out some wedding outfits! Although I didn’t go full on cosplay, I wore some accessories I bought in Tokyo (cat tights, robot earrings, Alice in Wonderland bag) and threw on a light summer kimono over the top of a black skirt and pink top. I also pinned all my hair up and slicked on the red lippy and winged eyeliner… I guess I looked somewhere between a wannabe geisha crossed with a 90s girl band member.

However, I was happy to see that there were plenty of cosplayers walking around inside the o2 and I even asked a few of them if I could take their photographs, all of them happy to oblige. It’s funny because I saw more Harajuku-inspired outfits here in London than I did in actual Harajuku while I was there!

Hyper Japan cosplayers

The festival was quite disjointed within the o2 as it wasn’t in the arena itself, but dotted around outside, where the restaurants are. We headed to the main section first where there were many stalls selling food and gifts. We posed for a picture with Domokun and were given some free Snapea rice sticks from the Yushoi stall – they were pretty good!

Hyper Japan London

I personally found that alot of the stalls were quite expensive, which I guess is understandable as they are selling Japanese imports but when I paid around £5 for a box of KitKats in Japan (expensive enough!) I wasn’t prepared to pay £17 for the privilege here. There were many etsy stalls selling cute crafts and jewellery but many of these were UK based and appealed to the Japanese kawaii lovers rather than being authentic Japanese themselves.

I did end up buying a necklace though. Anyone who knows me knows that-

  1. I love quirky jewellery
    and
  2. I love animals

It seems to me that I have a bit of a thing for baby pandas at the moment and treated myself to this super kawaii necklace from Little Moose.

kawaii-panda-necklace

We were in need of some refreshment so headed up to the Maid Cafe where we had Dorayaki (basically like two pancakes with a filling in the middle). I opted for strawberry and the maid drew a little face on my Dorayaki in chocolate sauce – much like the real Maid Cafes of Akihabara but much much less expensive!

After our yummy pancakes we watched a performance on the stage below. Although I’m a Japan fan I’m not really familiar with any J-Pop acts so I have no idea who the group were but the crowd seemed to love them.

Next we headed into the Hyper Game and Anime Park – a section full of people playing video games and shopping for anime. I know very little about anime and the queues to play the various Nintendo games were too long for my patience so I just stopped by to have my photo taken with Pikachu before moving back to the main section for some lunch.

Hyper Japan 2015

I was surprised at the lack of seating and lack of sushi in the food section, but between us we had vegetable noodles, okonomiyaki, tempura prawns and gyoza. And later on we bought some ice cream from one of the stalls – I chose yuzu flavour (Japanese citrus) sorbet. Yum!

Hyper Japan was a good experience but I definitely didn’t need any longer there, I would have also liked to have seen a few more interactive stalls and freebies but if you need a kawaii culture fix then this is the place to come. Next time though, I think I would like to go cosplay for the full Japantastic experience!

Hens on Safari – Wearing it Wild!

Yesterday was WWF’s Wear It Wild day where you can ‘dress to express your wild side’ all in the name of saving the planet and the endangered wildlife that inhabits it. I kept it fairly subtle and wore an elephant print top and elephant necklace (which you can see on my new instagram account) but I did donate money to the charity.

Although I kept my clothing low key, the idea reminded me of some other occasions where I expressed my wild side through my fashion choices.

kangaroo-onesie

This was taken at a New Years Eve party with a onesie dress code. I’m not really a onesie sort of person but I couldn’t resist this one – complete with a little joey in the pouch! And surprisingly, unlike most cosplay and fancy dress items, I have worn it more than once! The kangaroo onesie got another outing on my hen weekend.

Hen nights/weekends are meant to be wild – this usually means strippers, L plates and willy straws. But me being me, wild took on a totally different meaning at my hen weekend. We went glamping in a zoo! A unique experience for any animal lover. It’s not every day you’re woken up by the sound of an ostrich shaking it’s tail feather!

The weekend took place at the award-winning Livingstone Lodge at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent. We arrived at the zoo late afternoon and checked in at Livingstone reception where we were treated to a choice of champagne, Amarula or juice. I love Amarula (South African cream liqueur) so I got straight on that while we waited for the rest of the party to arrive.

Once everyone had arrived, our party of hens (or bachelorettes if you prefer) headed off for a private safari around the zoo, with our rangers, Sandile and Richard who were from South Africa and Zimbabwe and very knowledgeable about the animals. I had done the regular safari at the zoo before but a private safari for just me and my hens was so much better – we saw more animals and it was nice to receive VIP treatment.

The safari ended at where we would be staying the night – Livingstone Lodge, luxury tented safari-style accommodation with spectacular views over the waterhole and across the fields of Kent and the English channel.

livingstone-lodge

view-over-kent-countryside

The tents are all named after wild animals and are either double, triple or twin bed and include toiletries, slippers and bathrobes. Being the Bride, naturally I got given the best tent – the ‘Rhino’ tent which featured a four-poster bed and a prime position right infront of the water hole. And as there were more than 18 of us in my party it meant that we had the whole of Livingstone Lodge to ourselves!

rhino-tent-at-port-lympne

We had a bit of time to settle into our tents before dinner so I took the opportunity to bound around and visit everybody else’s tents dressed in my kangaroo onesie, before getting dressed for dinner and looking like this…

crazy-zebra-woman

My friends and family who came to celebrate with me also donned animal print – everything from onesies to face paint!

Dinner was served in the Laapa (Afrikaans for ‘meeting place’) and to my surprise my bridesmaids had decorated it with animal print balloons and animal print eye masks to go with our hen weekend theme of, you guessed it, animal print.

laapa-at-port-lympne

The laapa was decorated in an African theme, including cool masks on the walls and Amarula lamps on the tables (which I really wanted!).

amarula-lamp

Dinner was an African buffet plus breads and salad for starters, followed by a barbecue cooked on an open pit fire and finished off with dessert and then coffee, truffles and a cheese board. The food was really tasty although what with all the excitement I didn’t eat as much as I should have (same thing happened at my wedding too!) but my friends all raved about how amazing they thought the food was so – my compliments to the chef!

After dinner, my mum and the bridesmaids had organised some hen night games for us and then surprised me with a birthday cake because not only was this my hen weekend and easter weekend, it was also the weekend of my 30th birthday!

safari-birthday-cake

No one could manage the cake after all that food, so we decided to give everyone a piece the next day.

The evening was fun and soon enough it was time to leave the laapa and get some rest for our second safari the following day. It was quite bizarre falling asleep and waking up again in the zoo, but one of the highlights of my whole weekend was watching the animals being fed their breakfast – something you wouldn’t see otherwise. We got to watch feeding time from the verandas at our tents and the decking around the laapa – both very good viewpoints to see all the action below.

breakfast-time-at-the-zoo

view-from-livingstone-lodge

After a delicious breakfast, we boarded our safari truck for the second safari of our stay.

port-lympne-safari-truck

The ranger took us down to see the giraffes where we could all get out of the truck and observe them. The keeper did try to get the giraffes to come over to me but sadly the giraffes were having none of it!

hello-giraffes

giraffes

Once the safari was over, we were reunited with all of our luggage back at Livingstone reception, from there we were free to spend the rest of the day in the zoo at our own leisure, but we didn’t stay too long because it was SO COLD! I had an absolutely amazing weekend but unfortunately the cold weather put a mild dampener on it (I was glad I took that onesie in the end, believe me!). Livingstone Lodge is open from the end of March until October so we happened to be there on the first weekend of the season, which with the unpredictable English weather could be gloriously warm (as it was the year previously) or it could even snow (as it did while we watched the giraffes!). Still, it added to the experience!

I couldn’t fault Port Lympne Wild Animal Park at all – The Aspinall Foundation who run the zoo work hard to promote animal conservation through captive breeding as well as education, and the charity is “a pioneer in the reintroduction of endangered species to protected areas of the wild”. The rangers that looked after us on our experience were knowledgeable people who had previously worked in various parks and game reserves across Africa. The lodges were clean and beautifully furnished, the food was delicious and the animals all seemed genuinely happy and well cared for.

I would do this again in a heartbeat – but perhaps pick a warmer month next time!

For your own wild weekend check out The Aspinall Foundation website. Prices vary depending on time of year.

hens-on-safari

Travel and Treasure

So I’ve been a little quiet on the blog for the past week or so but things have still been ticking away in the background. I’ve contributed to a guest post about beauty on the road over at Heels In My Backpack – so go check it out (after you’ve read this post of course!).

And I’ve been gaining some inspiration from the world around me, so please feel free to follow me on twitter and pinterest – let me know you found me through my blog and I will follow you back!

In my last post I mentioned this gorgeous necklace I bought while on honeymoon in the Maldives. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a little while knows I love a good souvenir, so I thought I would showcase a few of my travel gems.

This necklace, being a honeymoon memento means alot to me, so I try not to wear it too often because I’m scared of breaking it or losing it, but when I do wear it, it does attract a lot of attention.

quirky-necklace-from-the-maldives

Although there isn’t a particularly fascinating story behind it, other than I happened upon it while in the island gift shop, I thought I would share it as it’s so unique and reminds me of that special time.

jewellery-from-the-maldives

I’m normally one for quirky costume jewellery rather than expensive jewellery that I will probably break, and while I don’t stroll down the street jingling like Mr T, I am a typical female when it comes to jewellery shops – stood agaze at all the sparkly pretty things around me. I’m like it in shops at home and I was like it in the souks of Marrakech.

It sounds completely cliché to refer to the souks as ‘Aladdin’s cave’ but that is pretty much what they were! A labyrinth of small stores packed to the brim with tea sets, jewellery, pashminas, spices, leather, shoes… so much colour and chaos it is easy to become distracted. I ended up buying 3 bracelets in Marrakech.

moroccan-bangles

The multi-coloured one came from a fixed price store at the entrance of the souks, but for around £5 GBP who could argue! The pink one was a hasty purchase to use up some dirham, but what makes it interesting is the hand symbol on it is the Hand of Fatima –  which is said to bring protection and good fortune.

moroccan-jewellery

My favourite of the three bracelets is the silver one. This is one I haggled for in true Moroccan style. Although I don’t think I’m ever taken very seriously as a customer, with the help of hubby (who is from the school of ‘don’t ask, don’t get’) managed to get a decent price for it that both I and the seller were happy with.

We didn’t stop at bangles, we took home a tagine and a couple of pashminas too (some were gifts)! All in all I had fun in the souks and urge all you jetsetting magpies to not miss them when in Marrakech!

Gorgeous gifts for globetrotters

Gorgeous gifts for globetrotters!

It’s been a little quiet on the blog for the past week but that’s because I have been preoccupied… it was my birthday the other day you see. I had a great day and received lots of lovely gifts, many of which were travel themed, which has inspired me to write this post about gorgeous gifts for globetrotters!

Bon Voyage bag

Bon Voyage handbag from Accessorize

This was actually a pre-birthday present I bought for myself, but it got quite a few favourites and retweets on my twitter that I couldn’t not include it here. I have always wanted a vintage suitcase covered in stickers so this is the next best thing! It comes with a shoulder strap too so you don’t have to carry it like a suitcase if you don’t want to.

£29 from Accessorize

Gandys flipflops

gandys flipflops

After being inspired by Rob Forkan (co-founder of Gandys) at the Destinations Show, I had a look at the different flipflop designs and fell in love with these map print ones. Money from every sale goes towards building children’s homes for orphans in places such as India and Sri Lanka.

gandys flipflops and box

Even the box and the logo are beautiful.

£22 from Gandys

Travel journal

I wanted a cute journal to keep a diary for my upcoming travels and couldn’t find much more perfect than this map print journal by Wild & Wolf. It’s A6 in size so small enough to carry around too.

Wild and Wolf travel journal

£8 from John Lewis

The Book of Everything

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

I must confess, I have a bit of an addiction to coffee table travel books. I am running out of bookshelf space, but perhaps one day I will write a blog post about all of them. The Lonely Planet Book of Everything is a fun and factual book about, well, almost everything. It’s definitely a dip in, dip out sort of book but there’s some pretty useful stuff in there (how to survive a shark attack for example because you never know!).

There’s also stuff like the Northern Lights

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

Or even Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

£14.99 from Lonely Planet

Globetrotting Percy sweets

Marks and Spencer Globetrotting Percy sweets

Need some sweeties for the road? Grab a bag of Globetrotting Percy jellies. Percy Pig is a bit of a mascot for Marks & Spencer and there are several different types of Percy sweets you can buy, including vegetarian options.

Available in store at Marks & Spencer

Disney Pixar Up pin

Disney Pixar 'Up' pin badge

Not strictly travel themed but if you’ve seen the move Up you’ll know that the characters go on a great adventure. I was actually looking for this pin when I went to Disneyland Paris but I couldn’t find it as I think it may have been a limited edition promotional item or something but my clever husband managed to track one down from who knows where – and I love it!

Note: all items featured in this post were gifted to me by family, apart from the handbag which was from myself to myself. Prices and availability correct at time of publishing.