Travel: Edinburgh Day 1

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful week and looking for the weekend. This is not my usual posting day, but I have managed to find some quiet time from my hectic schedule the past few weeks to share with you all the adventures that I have.

This one is just an introduction to my weekend getaway with my sister to Edinburgh. It has taken so long to write this post because I don’t think how I can do this beautiful city justice. I believe there is a reason why it is the most visited city after London! Let’s dive into Day 1 of our trip!

I landed late in the evening in Edinburgh due to delay to our flight and not enough staff handling suitcases from our flight. Turns out that this is a regular occurrence, so for those that are planning to go to Edinburgh and had plans after you land, I suggest that you leave ample time!

Novotel Hotel, Edinburgh Centre

Thankfully, the airport is not far from the city centre, where we stayed at Hotel Novotel Edinburgh Centre (note that there are two branches, the other closer to the airport). I really do not recommend this hotel at all. Though location wise, it is great and the lobby recently refurbished. I thought the rooms and bathroom had a lot of wear and tear. Definitely not worth the money we paid for the room, therefore, I highly recommend that you try and other hotel than this one. It is located right next to a Premier Inn…I think I might have been better off there!

Other than my poor accommodation choice, the rest of the city is beautiful and the people are so friendly! My sister and I also had great luck with the weather – mostly sunshine with only a spattering of rain! None of my Scottish friends and colleagues back in London believed me when I told them!

All things Harry Potter….

On the first day, we started off just walking through town, where we found Grassmarket Square with a few stalls. It is located right at the foot of Edinburgh Castle, for someone who has never been to Scotland before (despite being British), this was really phenomenal and exciting! We didn’t manage to pick up anything along the stalls, but we kept walking and arrived at Victoria Street.

For those that may not know, this is probably one of the most photograph streets, with its colourful facades and cobbled streets. As I climbed up the hill, it is no surprise how J.K. Rowling might have been inspired by it for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. Each individual shop had these beautiful displays of tweed, and little bookstores crammed next to another shop. So dreamy!

For all my fellow HP fans out there, you have to visit Diagon House, which sells all things Harry Potter. I am not 100% sure whether all the merchandise in there is official but all the trinkets and beautiful displays, really makes it worth while! There is also another branch on Cockburn Street.

Royal Mile

Despite Victoria street being so famous, it is one of the shortest streets! So do not expect that it will take long at all to walk through, though it is just around the corner from the Royal Mile, this is where you see all the hustle and bustle! With large groups of tourists disembarking from coaches. Though crowded during the weekend I was there, it still managed to retain its charm and it is the number 1 place to go to pick up a souvenir!

Whilst at the Royal Mile, we stepped in St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is famous for its fine selection of stained glass windows. For all photographers, please be aware that there is a £2 charge to take photos whether from your mobile or camera. I don’t often take pictures of the inside of churches (exception being The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona), therefore I do not have photos to share with you but I highly recommend to step into this lovely cathedral, which is free for all.

Rollo

Given the wonderful weather, we decided to walk all the way out of the city centre towards Stockbridge for our first meal in Edinburgh. Before flying from London, I was doing a lot of research to where I could have a nice meal without breaking the bank. One name that came up was Rollo. It is a boutique family run restaurant and for adults only. Not only has it received wonderful reviews about the food, but also famous for its super chic design. This comes to no surprise given that it is owned by three partners George Rollo – Architect, Alison Rollo – Sculptor, Ailsa Rollo – Fashion Designer.

I loved the atmosphere in there and truly one of the most outstanding service I have had in a long while. I enjoyed the food though was not blown away. It is difficult to pin down the cuisine, as it was was fusion of many cuisines but mainly west meets east. I have to admit that their non-vegetarian options were a lot more exciting than my pumpkin gnocchi. Nevertheless, I think it is worth seriously considering if you are in town and looking for a place to eat. (3 out of 5 pineapples!)

The Royal Botanical Gardens

Before heading away from Stockbridge, down the road from Rollo, we found this amazingly cute store – Life Story (on London Street) which I think everyone should stop by if they love things for the home! It had such a great collection of home ware which is mainly Scandinavian inspired (think white marble and slate coloured bowls). Really loved the vibe in there! Highly recommended if you like stores such as the Conran Shop in London.

To make most of the sunshine, we walked all the way to the Royal Botanical Garden. As I have gotten older, I have found myself wanting the to connect with nature more and my love for anything green has grown. The Royal Botanical Gardens satisfied ALL those needs. I can’t express how beautiful this place is. If you ever go to Edinburgh, I personally think this is a MUST visit place and that includes paying tickets to go into glass houses. There is no point otherwise. For those who follow me on instagram, you might have seen a few of these leafy greens on my feed. It is so wonderful to walk around the gardens, they had a pond where we managed to spot a few ducklings too. A definite 5 out of 5 pineapples from me!

I think that is enough an update from me today! Can’t wait to share with you my adventures for Day 2. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Art: Gregory Crewdson

 

Hi everyone,

I cannot believe that it has been a month since I last wrote a blog post. I apologise that I lost track of time as work has been crazy. I wanted to share this exhibition with you all before it ends! There is a lot of exciting things to catch up on, so I hope I will get a chance to blog more during the next few weeks (as I am on holiday).

Gregory Crewdson has an exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery in London titled The Cathedral of Pines. This highly personal showcase of large photos focused on human interactions within nature. At the time of these photos, the artist had just gone through a very difficult divorce and wanted to be away from the city. As a result, all the photos were taken in the small rural town of Becket, Massachusetts. The dystopian landscape focuses on feelings of isolation and sadness.

For a Londoner like me, I have always found rural America rather disconcerting. The idea you are so far away from the next town/civilisation is not something I am accustomed to. I think this eerie-ness is brilliantly encapsulated in his photos. I was particularly drawn to them because they made me feel uncomfortable yet invited me to delve more into each photo.

Each of the photos has a human subject but nearly all void of expression. It does give this sense of visual suspense or one could argue, they are just super creepy. Each individual’s position is so carefully curated which adds to the oddness. The fact that each person had no expression allowed for other subtle details to become highlighted. As a viewer, you had to search for clues and really look at what the photo had provided to arrive at a conclusion. In each, you will notice a few repeating details, such as dirty blankets and old books, I don’t know why and I am still wondering why Gregory decided that this was necessary.

Most of the subjects do not wear clothes, which I realised is something that I often use to gauge a character, as it is surprisingly telling of a person. I loved the fact that the photos intrigued me, despite being a bit odd, yet did not resort to explicitness or gore to shock or bring emotion out of the audience. Not sure whether any of you have gone to see the exhibit and thought the same thing?

The exhibit is available until the 8th October 2017 and is free before 12pm. I highly recommend a visit and rate it 4 out of 5 pineapples 🙂 so do hurry!!#

With sweet and sour love,

Pineapple Chicken

 

Art: Tate Modern

Hi Everyone! Hope you are having a great start to your week and welcome to another instalment of my adventures. This weekend I went to the Tate Modern to explore their Soul of Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power Exhibition which is open until 22nd October 2017.

Tate Modern

I personally love the Tate Modern, it is this beautifully vast open space dedicated to art. Though it can feel empty at times, it does add to the atmosphere of the place. Architecturally, it is also fascinating too with its mix of old and new, curves and straight lines.

The best way to travel to the Tate is from St. Paul’s Station (Central Line) and walk the Millennium Bridge over the Thames. It is roughly a 10-minute walk, depending on your leisurely speed and you have this wonderful view 360 degree view of London from the bridge. On one side, Tower Bridge, the Globe and the Shard, behind you is St. Paul’s Cathedral and in front of you is Tate Modern. Perfect post card shot, for sure!

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 

I have heard wonderful things about this exhibition and booked my tickets for last weekend, several weeks in advance just in case it is sold out. Tickets cost £15 for an adult or it is 50% off with the Art Pass. I arrived at 2:30 pm on a Saturday and it was crammed. I recommend choosing either earlier or later in the day when the crowds subside.

The exhibition explores the works of Black artists in America from the Civil Rights movement in 1963 to 1983. There are twelve rooms and it covered a whole range different art movements/expressions of the time; from art published in Black Panther magazines, to photography of daily life and to very abstract art work. You will be getting your money’s worth!

Personal Favourites

Though I had studied the Civil Rights movement back in school for GCSE History, we did not even mention art of that time and the struggles that Black artists faced. The exhibition brings to life how art developed within these two decades.  Some pieces are extremely emotive and one can’t help to appreciate the struggles of the artists to share their story with the world. Overall, it was a humbling experience and I felt the exhibition gave an insight to a unknown artists (well, at least to myself).

To give you a flavour of the exhibit, I have selected one art piece in each of the 12 rooms. Many of which were my personal favourites. If you visit, do leave a comment below to tell me what you loved and whether you agree with me!

  • Room 1 (Spiral): Norman Lewis – America the Beautiful (1960). This is an example of semi-abstraction. It is hauntingly beautiful as the white triangles, upon closer inspection, you realise are the cloaked figures of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Room 2 (Art on the Streets): I didn’t have a favourite in this room, but this room showcased the art work from Emory Douglas and artwork that was included in Black Panther magazines.
  • Room 3 (Figuring Black Power): Faith Ringgold – American People Series #20: Die (1967). This is the most striking piece in the room. It takes a while to take the whole all of it in, where there is a mix of black and blond characters with their eyes wide and staring at you. One of the most memorable pieces in the whole of the exhibition.
  • Room 4 (Los Angeles Assemblage): This is probably my least favourite room in the whole exhibition. I struggled to connect with the artwork in this room. Though, do spend time looking at Melvin Edwards‘ work labelled Lynch Fragments made from welded steel.
  • Room 5 (Africobra in Chicago): This is the most colourful room and the vibrancy of the artwork shows how this movement moved away from the red (blood) and the monochrome artwork in the earlier years and concentrated more on aesthetics. There were many pieces I loved, but one being by Jeff Donaldson Wives of Sango (1970).
  • Room 6 (Three Graphic Artists): This room is in stark contrast with the colours of Room 5. Though, the piece that would draw your attention in this room would be David Hammons, Injustice Case (1970), which is a portrait of the trial of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. It is really heart wrenching to see and the US flag border just makes it all that more shocking.
  • Room 7 (East Coast Abstraction): I am not a big lover of contemporary abstract art, but I really enjoyed the artwork in this room. I loved the different shapes and colours. Most were extremely large pieces, though the one that caught my attention is Jack Whitten’s Homage to Malcolm (1970), probably because it is shaped as a triangle and though it is mainly dark and black, various colours came through as you look at the piece in different angles.
  • Room 8 (Black Light): As a budding photographer, this room was my favourite. It portrayed life in the US during those two decades and really gave an insight of life at the time.  I spent most of my time admiring the beautiful monochrome photo and portraits prints. Favourite of mine is Beuford Smith – Woman Bathing/Madonna, New York (1967)
  • Room 9 (Black Heros): This is probably the most iconic room because of Barkley L. Hendricks Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale) (1969), which is featured as the piece to showcase the exhibition. However, my favourite piece was painted by him as well, Brilliantly Endowed (1977), a very tongue in cheek self-portrait.
  • Room 10 (Improvisation and Experimentation): This room contrasts from the rest of the exhibition. However, I found myself disconnecting with the artwork because it was very abstract and I failed to grasp the message. This is probably due to my untrained eye, though I was drawn to Joe Overstreet’s We came from there to get here (1970). The piece was created by different coloured canvases strung up together, which is supposed to recall the history of lynching.
  • Room 11 (Betyse Saar): I will be honest, I did not spend too much time in this room. The pieces were rather disconcerting, but one of the pieces I was drawn to was by Senga Nengudi Internal II (1977, 2015). It was eye catching and explored the role of women, particularly black women – an interesting piece.
  • Room 12 (Just above Midtown): The photos on the right hand side of the wall dominates this room, but again my favourite piece is from Senga Nengudi RSVP XI (1977, 2004).

Overall, I loved this exhibition and has made me want to explore more art and photography from black artists that was shown. I guess that is a great outcome from any exhibition. It was an educational day out and I had a wonderful time, therefore, the Tate Modern gets a snazzy 4 out of 5 pineapples. If you do get a chance to go, I would love to hear what you thought about the exhibition! Leave your comments below or on my Instagram!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

 

 

 

Lifestyle: Richmond Park

Hi everyone! Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. As promised, this post will cover my “David Attenborough” moments at Richmond park. I do apologise that this is being posted later than I had hoped! I have spent the week catching up with very dear friends after work. Though it was much needed, it didn’t leave me much time to blog! On the bright side, there will be some exciting food reviews coming up, which I can’t wait to share with you all!

Opening hours and transport

Though having lived in London all my life, last weekend was the first time I visited Richmond Park. To be quite honest, I am an idiot for not having gone sooner. It is surreal that we have such a beautiful nature reserve on our doorstep. Being a north London girl, it is rare for me to venture to the south west of London, but I would advise anyone who needs a break from the bustling city to wander around Richmond Park, it is great for the soul.

A big shout out goes to @lilbigmovement, as he dragged me from my bed at 6:00 am so we could reach Richmond Park at 7 am when the gate opens for vehicles. Opening hours and directions can be found here. I highly recommend to go early. Personally, I think it is the time when you can truly appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of the park. We were very lucky that we had wonderful weather during the bank holiday weekend. However, this also meant that by midday, the park was swarming with families, runners, bike riders, and horse riders.

When we arrived at 7, there were a few runners (as the pedestrian gate is open 24 hours) and bike riders. If you are not athletic like me, I suggest to travel by car or take a train and bring your bike along with you. We seriously underestimated how large the park was! We did not manage to explore the whole park but luckily enough with the car, it was possible to see all the areas we wanted to in a relatively short space of time. There are various car parks located throughout the reserve and being there early meant that we did not have to fight for space!

Deer

For those who do not know, Richmond Park is famous for the wild deer that roam freely. Being a city girl, the closest I get to nature are pigeons and the local fox running off into the night. Seeing any sort of wild animal is a treat for me, so seeing deer and being able to get close to them is INCREDIBLE. My first sight of one was just as we were driving along the road towards Hams Gate. There were several males with their majestic antlers relaxing on the side of the road, watching people run by. I jumped out of the car and had to take a few pictures. Though this is when I realised, I really need to invest in a telephoto lens. Does anyone have any recommendation for a Nikon DX camera?  

The rules are that we must keep at least 50 feet away from the animal, as they wild and can act unpredictably. It thinks it is also just respectful to not get too close when they are relaxing and enjoying the morning sun.  Though here are the few shots I managed to get! Deers are just AWESOME!

 

Pen Ponds

If there is only one spot you need to go to and you are only there for an hour or less, then is to go straight to Pen Ponds. There is a car park named Spankers Hill Wood Car Park near the ponds and from there, walking in a straight line, you will walk by the field where the deer usually lie in the morning. There is a big herd of them, casually basking in the sun. They were unconcerned with the people running around them or walking past. It is a postcard shot moment – the lovely field and the Royal School of Ballet in the background (see picture above). After walking past them you will reach the large ponds. It is so picturesque. I was lucky that when I was there a lovely man was feeding the ducks and geese, so I could get really close to them. Another moment to enjoy Mother Nature.

It was a lovely Sunday morning and I really would advise anyone in London to stop by! Richmond park gets a juicy 5 out of 5 pineapples!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

P.S. Do check out @lilbigmovement for his adventures with his drone Nikki around London and beyond!

Culture: Imperial War Museum

Hi Everyone! Welcome to another instalment to the Pineapple Chicken Blog. I hope all my readers in the UK enjoyed a great bank holiday weekend! I had a few adventures so I am going to split up the days into several posts so I do not inundate you with too much information :)!

Imperial War Museum

First stop was the Imperial War Museum (“IMW”), the closest station being Lambeth North on the Bakerloo Line. I went to museum specifically to see the People Power: Fighting for Peace which has unfortunately closed on the 28th August. However, I thought that I would share with you what I saw and encourage you to visit the museum for all the other exhibitions.

I had never been to the museum before (despite living in London for 28 years) and was thoroughly impressed. It is housed in a beautiful building and it is amazing that it is possible to fit in a relatively small space! You walk through a beautiful park to reach the entrance where you come face to face with these two massive naval guns and ammunition shells (see photos above). If you keep walking around, you will also spot a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Once you enter the museum (please note they do bag checks), I was blown away by the sight in front of me. There were fighter jets, spitfires and other planes artistically displayed, dangling from the ceiling! The IWM is also not as crowded as other London museums making it a much more tranquil experience. You can wander the floors in your own pace and reflect in peace.

All temporary exhibitions are located on the 3rd floor, so my sister and I took the lift straight up to for People Power: Fighting for Peace. Unlike other museums, the ticket did not require us to enter at a specific time slot. The ticket was just valid from 10am (when the museum opens) and we were allowed multiple entries into the exhibition, which I must admit is the first time I have seen! (It is a very nice change!)

The exhibition explored how different peace movements influenced the perceptions of war. The main historical periods covered started with the First World War, moving to Second World War, to the Cold War and present day. It told the stories of individuals who stood up to conscription (conscientious objectors), who organised marches, and even one man’s decade long fight for peace (Brian Haw). It was a real eye opener for me because it is not an area that I had ever explored and thought much about. However, it is very relevant to all the threats that we face today, especially with the current tensions between American and North Korea.

Through all the paintings, letters, banners and even music, it gave an insight into the struggles of the anti-war protesters and gave reflection on what it must have felt like being a pacifist during a particular period. One particularly letter that stood out, was when a friend during the First World War wrote to a conscientious objector and called him a “livered cur”! Personally, I thought it was a humbling experience and wished that I went to see to the exhibition earlier to encourage you all to visit!

During my visit at the IWM, I also took an opportunity to visit a free exhibition. Sergey Ponomarev: A Lens on Syria. It is the first UK exhibition from the photographer. I highly recommend a walkthrough, especially if you love photography. The exhibition, however, is not for the faint-hearted, though the photos are not graphic (i.e. gore-y) it was heart wrenching for me to see the suffering of other individuals. There are two parts to the exhibition. First is “Assad’s Syria” which gave insight into how people lived in government controlled areas of Syria. Second, “The Exodus” covered the stories of families and individuals who sought asylum in Europe. This really hit close to home and was very humbling.

In my opinion, the IWM is a gem and often overlooked when people visit London or even living in London. I encourage everyone to stop by if they have a chance to wander through the free exhibits, if not, the temporary exhibitions. The IWM gets a well-deserved 4 starts from Pineapple Chicken!

There is also a new exhibition at the IWM, Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 which will be available until 28 May 2018. I hope to be able to go back again really soon to cover the Age of Terror and wander through the other floors.

Next up on the blog will cover my second day of the bank holiday – Richmond Park and some food reviews! Can’t wait to share with you all!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Tickets to the exhibition cost me £5 with the Art Pass

 

Travel: Paris in a Day

Hi Everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful week so far. I am really excited to share with you my adventures in Paris for a day. You are probably wondering why would I possibly want to just spend several hours in Paris when there is so much to see? Well this is because I bought a return Eurostar ticket for £60!!

My colleague/amazing friend introduced me to Snap Eurostar. You can book for 1 to 4 passengers, and currently, able to book between 29 August and 19 September. Destinations include Brussels, Lille and Paris! I highly recommend it, if you are either staying in London for a couple of days and thinking of a day trip; or just in the mood to get out of London. This is the best way to do it! The only catch is, you don’t know the time of your train until a few days before, but it is guaranteed that you leave in the morning and return in the evening. Check it out and do let me know if you go on an adventure!

I must admit that it has taken me a while to enjoy Paris. I went when I was younger and don’t have much recollection from my childhood. However, I have been twice in 2017 and I am absolutely in love. Maybe because I can appreciate the architecture and the culture? Not sure but for whatever reason I am now completely smitten by Paris.

The day started at London St. Pancras at 8:30am to catch the 9:24 train to Paris Nord. I live very close to Kings Cross St. Pancras, so the Eurostar really is a no brainer for me. Being able to travel to Paris in 2.5 hours, door to door, is an absolute dream! Given that my friend and I had visited Paris before, we didn’t want to do the major sightseeing spots. Instead we wanted to enjoy a super chilled Sunday – filled with food and great company. This is pretty much how I would like to spend my Sundays in London.

First stop: Canal Saint-Martin

I have always wanted to see the Canal Saint-Martin, as it is suggested in every blog about Paris. Sundays in a European city is always quiet and tranquil, especially when compared to London. A short walk from Jacques Bonsergent (Line 5) metro station and we were there! The sun was shining and a wonderful breeze was blowing. First thing we see is the infamous bridge as featured in the movie Amélie. Yes, it is only a bridge, but it is really beautiful and from the top, you have this wonderful view of this wide and straight canal (see photos above). On the day, there were small groups sitting by the canal, chatting away with a drink or just sunbathing with a book. It felt so serene. I am going to have to wander around London to see if there is anywhere similar to this!

Second stop: Lunch at Cafe Charlot

We walked towards le République stopped for a few snaps and then meandered our way to Marché des Enfants Rouges. This is one of the oldest covered markets in Paris where inside there are stalls selling various cheeses and meats. There are also two restaurants – one specialising in Italian cuisine and the other, North African cuisine. Though we tried to get a table it proved impossible! Instead we headed out and just over street was the most typical Parisienne café – Café Charlot (because it is located on Rue Charlot), with the weaved chairs and super small tables. We managed to find a table out in the sun. After squeezing our way onto the tiny terrace to our tables and me knocking several people’s head with my camera, we were seated. Everyone around us was chatting away with a glass of wine, basking in the summer sun. This is the life!

After a very substantial lunch (sorry forgot to take photos, I basically inhaled my omelette) and getting a nice tan, we started our adventures again wandering down Rue Charlot (which is the cutest street in Paris) and the Marais area.

Shopping in Marais

Having walked up Rue Charlot, we u-turned and back down Rue de Turenne and passed Jacques Genin. We were just window shopping but this is probably the fanciest chocolate shop EVER!! I slightly regret not going in, but whoever does get a chance to visit, please stop and have a look!! We continued to stroll down to Rue Vielle du Temple and found the cutest shop, called Nice Things. If the name was not a giveaway, when we walked in, I just fell in love with all their cutest prints and knitwear, and as always, I got distracted by shoes! I ended up buying a suede pair of grey Chelsea boots (photos to come!), which I can’t wait to wear this autumn.

As all great girlfriends do – I don’t shop alone, so of course, my friend ended up buying red suede heeled loafers too! It was not my intention to go on a shopping spree in Paris, but if you are in this area, it is hard not to fall in love with the Paris style.  (I do not want to bore you with my shopping adventures, I did end up buying a raincoat from Petit Bateau as well, before making our way back to London.)

Tea: Crepes

Obviously, after all the hard work exerted from shopping, one must treat oneself to something sweet. This is when we stopped at Creperie Suzette on Rue des Francs Bourgeois, which is the main shopping street of Marais. We made use of the summer sun and ate our delicious crepes outside next to a wonderful french couple, who had a heated debate the whole time we sat there!

Dessert: Photos & Berthillon Ice Cream

We continued to wander around and soak in the Paris vibes. There were artists selling their work on the streets, ranging from beautiful ceramics, paintings, and photos. I ended up buying two photos from a photographer travelling the world with a working Rolleiflex camera. The photos I chose happen to be from Northern India up in the Himalayas (a yak and a shepherd). The photographer was telling us that he was preparing for their next trip back out to Southern India for 6 months. Clearly our contributions were helping a great cause haha! It is really inspiring though, hopefully, next time I visit, he will be there so I can buy more of his pictures.

As we wandered the streets, it was nearly time we had to make our way back to Gare du Nord. We didn’t have enough time for dinner, so we stopped at a cafe to have the famous Berthillon Ice Cream, which you must try! My favourite Yogurt with Yuzu. TRUST ME – this will be one of the greatest things you have EVER tasted 🙂

We left will a full stomach and a very satisfying day, we slowly made our way back to London. Paris je t’aime! Until next time….

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Science: Whale Exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Hi Everyone! Welcome to another fun filled adventure on the Pineapple Chicken Blog. This post is especially close to my heart as it covered all my shenanigans my 28th birthday. As per tradition, I do not work on my birthday and took the day off. Luckily, my sister was also able to join me in my wanderings.

Palm Vaults, Hackney

First stop, I visited the most instagrammable cafe in London. I would honestly say that it was love at first sight! Pink and with hanging plants in pots, just my idea of heaven. The staff are super friendly and given that I was there around 12pm on a Tuesday the atmosphere was chilled. A great way to start the day.

They are famous for their smoothie bowls, so I ordered the mango smoothie bowl with blue algae. It was surprisingly not too sweet and refreshingly cold. If only the London weather was warmer! My sister ordered their banana cake topped with coffee mascarpone and cocoa nibs. Though sweet, the texture of the cake was dense and moist.

Accompanying my smoothie, I ordered the “layered matcha” drink. I had no idea what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it. My sister gave a scrunched-up face of dislike. It came iced and when mixed together became this rather unappetising grey/purple colour, (I am really not selling it!) but tastes of a refreshing matcha latte. I loved it and I would recommend it as a good alternative to coffee. My sister ordered an iced latte – good coffee, no complaints.

Though, Palm Vaults was out of the way for me, I really loved it there and it gets a smashing 4/5 pineapples from me. For the first time, I believed in the hype, so much so that my sister bought the t-shirt!

Temple of Hackney (Seitan), Hackney

Whilst I was already in the area, I thought I would go to the Temple of Hackney to try their vegan fried chicken. Yes, VEGAN! When I mentioned this to my colleagues the next day, everyone just gave me a “Gross”/”Yuck” comment, but that is because they are all meat eaters (haters!). I, on the other hand, am grateful that there is a restaurant out there trying to accommodate vegetarians and vegans need for fried chicken tasting things!

When we walked over from Palm Vaults (10 minutes), there was a queue outside of shop. The few seats out in the front were also filled with patrons. Clearly, there is a very loyal following. I spent a lot of time looking the menu. It was diverse, ranging from burgers to wraps to just the meat itself. They have chicken wings and pops with a variety of sides. This is definitely an attempt to being the real deal and not your average Chicken Cottage!

I decided to go for the 2-piece meal (fries and a drink) with a side of gravy as this is what I would have normally ordered when I was a meat eater. I was excited and anxious to see how seitan would taste as a meat alternative. For those who are unaware of seitan, it is made from wheat and has been used in many Asian dishes as a mock meat. I have had it in very traditional forms of cooking in Hong Kong temples but this is the first time I have had in a fast food context. It has been nearly a year since I have had fried chicken, so you can imagine how I was feeling (wiping the drools)!

I was disappointed with the food – I am sure I am upsetting many loyal patrons, so I would like to apologise in advance. Firstly, the gravy – do not order it. It was extremely watery and tasted like salty water. Considering I had paid £1 for a very tiny pot, it was not a good start. The size of the chicken pieces was large so you are getting your money’s worth. The batter was crispy but lacked texture – it was just a thin covering and the seitan, though flavoured was just a poor substitute. It is extremely dense and after a few bites, I gave up because I ended up chewing for too long. The fries were good, but I don’t think I need to go to a vegan fried chicken place for good chips.

I am glad that I tried because I have wanted to for a long time. However, I left disappointed and will not be going back any time soon, therefore, it only gets 1 pineapple out of 5 from me. (I apologise that I don’t have any photos of the food, I forgot to save the photo from instastory – FAIL)

Whales: Beneath the Waves – Natural History Museum

The grand finale of the day is visiting the Natural History Museum for their new whale exhibition to celebrate the new Blue Whale display (who has replaced our beloved Dippy the Dinosaur). The Natural History Museum is my favourite place in the whole of London, I have joined as a member and loved the fact that I can go to certain exhibitions for free and skip the long queues to get in! Personally, I think it is worth every penny and it is supporting an institution that pioneers in research, education and conservation (all my favourite things!).

I have seen part of the Whales: Beneath the Waves exhibition when I attended the launch party of the new Blue Whale display in the Hintze Hall (see some photos on my instagram) but didn’t have a chance to go all the way round. This time, dragging my sister along, I was looking forward to the rest of the exhibition. Though it was not as large as I hoped it to be, it was very informative. It is suitable for all ages filled with interactive activities and videos – it wasn’t just a bunch of skeletons and some letters on a wall.

The most memorable feature was the display showing the gestation stages of a whale. It was so bizarre and I was convinced that it was fake until my sister assured me that it was the real deal! They were perfectly formed but could fit onto a size of an A4 piece of paper. Mind-blown! Another impressive feature was the skeleton of the Thames Whale that sadly died in 2006.

I really enjoyed myself and I think the Natural History Museum did a great job of using other media to bring whales to life. It gets a solid 4 out of 5 pineapples. I left with a big smile on my face and an AWESOME retro baseball styled tee with a whale on it!

The exhibition is available until the 28th February 2018 and an adult ticket costs £11.50 online.

Until next time…

I am just organising all my photos but I hope to post about my day trip to Paris (and the shopping I did!). I have some exciting adventures this bank holiday weekend! AHHHH can’t wait to share that with you all as well. I hope you all have a wonderful week 🙂

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

  1. Do comment below if you think that there is anything I should visit or you would like me to review! (: