Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The walk of shame...or is it?

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A good friend of mine blogs over at Style from the Suburban Intellect and I recently re-discovered an old blog of hers on the ‘Walk of Shame’.   In it she writes about the fact that this so-called ‘shameful’ journey home is really nothing of the sort and I tend to agree.

Young or old, there is something to be said for staying up all night with a lover or a friend and welcoming the day in a little smudged mascara and your party clothes (or what remains of them). Ok perhaps at times it can be a little embarrassing, but it can also be a lot of fun and it sure as hell makes  for some entertaining stories of your youth. 

I myself have a few stories – as I’m sure most people do - and in the spirit of sharing and having a laugh you can read them below – feel free to share your own as well!
  1. Walking home in a borrowed t-shirt after a night out in Prague where I ended up in a different bed, in a different hostel, in a different part of the city to where I was actually staying…
  2. Jumping the Metro barriers in Barcelona and falling asleep on the shoulder of one of my  best friends on the 6:00am train back to our hostel.
  3. After  one of the best dates in my whole life with a boy in Berlin - we explored the city together all night;  eating dinner in Kreuzberg, drinking cocktails in Mitte, wandering Alexander Platz and dancing at underground warehouse clubs in East Berlin before retiring to his apartment. Unfortunately for me the closest U-bahn line to him wasn’t working the next morning and I had to wander the streets without a phone or map until I eventually managed to hail a cab.
  4. Stumbling my way through a crowded German campsite trying not to trip over tent pegs and faceplant after bumping into the person from number 1 at Oktoberfest, losing  my camera on a ride, and almost leaving my German hat as a souvenir (I commandeered it back though don’t you worry).
  5. While staying with my girlfriend in London, we caught the final night bus/s home from Shoreditch to Brixton, went to McDonalds and ate it together as the some came up…one of my favourite memories to be honest!
I don’t feel ashamed of any of these moments in my life – I just feel happy when I think of them (and of the other stories which won’t’ ever be shared in the public forum).

They remind me of fun moments in time and of the great people I have shared them with. Sure they may not be as romantic or as watching the sun rise over the beach with the love of my life but that doesn’t make them disgraceful or humiliating – it just makes them different.

So what about you, do you have any ‘walk of shame’ stories? Do you think it's possible to look as chic as these ladies when actually faced with making it home after an night out?

Tell me your thoughts…it’s only fair now you know some of my secrets!
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Images courtesy of Pinterest and cosmopolitan Magazine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A small step, a giant leap.

I feel free. A giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders and for the first time in a long time I feel excited about the future.

Last week I resigned from my job. It was a long time coming and it took a lot of courage, sleepless nights and guts for me to finally listen to my heart and do what I’d wanted to do for so long.


I will start my new job in 4 weeks time…it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I already know it will be hugely challenging but I can’t wait.

I finally feel as if I have momentum and am going forward rather than being stuck in a rut.

It feels so great to be in control of my own happiness again and I wanted to write this to say that if you are struggling with a big decision – try to block all the logical and negative thoughts out and listen to that small voice deep down inside of you.

People will criticise you no matter what you do so listen to yourself and be brave, because remember: fortune favours the brave.

xx Kirst

Next Door Kitchen and Bar

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“Prohibition was supposed to usher in a new era of sobriety and restraint. Instead America’s “Noble Experiment” was submerged by the madcap wave of the Roaring 20’s, when inventive recording artists on their way to fame unleashed spirited sounds that set the tone for the century”

This is what greets you when you open the menu at Next DoorKitchen and Bar, a 1920's “themed” bar and restaurant located on Southbank’s popular Little Stanley Street.

Next Door, has a superb, modern menu accompanied by a great beer, wine and cocktail list and if I’m honest I was sold the minute they served me champagne in a champagne coupe. To me, a champagne coupe seems 1000 times more sophisticated than your regular champagne flute and it really made me feel special – just a bit more sparkly or glamorous than I normally would when sipping champagne while having dinner with friends (can’t quite explain why but who cares it was a coupe!).
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But let’s talk about the food. It was all…phenomenal. No jokes. I cannot fault a single dish that we tried!  The food is all designed to be shared and we found the plates to be very decent sized portions – between four of us we ordered the following and we couldn’t finish it all (despite the fact that the two adult males in our party are normally bottomless pits):

Share plates $14.5
  • Flash fried school prawns, smoked paprika salt – we ordered these with a side of aioli and they were amazing. Crispy and salty and perfectly seasoned...I know they might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as  you do eat each prawn whole but they tasted sooooo good!
  • Golden fried polenta chips, salsa verde, sour cream, pickled eggplant (v, gf) – The polenta fries we again had with aioli. They were delicious but not the most outstanding menu item we ordered.
  •  Pea arancini, goats curd aioli, coriander oil (v) – Potentially one of the best dishes of the night. When you bite into the arancini you are greeted with a delightful  mint coloured centre and the balance of flavours is really very tasty…ooh my mouth is watering just thinking about them!
Share plates $16.5
  • Crushed wagyu meat balls, provolone, sticky onion jam – by the time this dish came out I was full so I only managed one teeny tiny bite, but I know these were enjoyed immensely by the men in our party. Phrases like ‘best meatballs I’ve ever had’ and ‘why don’t we have these in England’ were uttered.
  • Garlic prawns, green onion pilaf, green butter & snail beignet – prawns are always an Aussie favourite and these were no exception. The snail beignet melts in your mouth and was utterly delicious – we considered ordering a second plate but decided against is simply due to the sheer amount of food we’d already ingested!
  • Truffle parmesan fries (v, gf) – we got these to accompany all our shareplates and to they were very nice - a much nicer option than your regular beer battered or regular fries!
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Over the duration of our evening we also ordered some local beers, white wine and of course some sparkling to go with our meals - it was a very merry night indeed. The laidback atmosphere at Next Door Kitchen and Bar is really refreshing and it was lovely to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather Brisbane has been having. The staff were also great - super attentive and friendly and I went with 3 Britons who had particular fun guessing where in the UK our waitress was from (it was Manchester and none of them got it right).

I would definitely recommend Next Door Kitchen and Bar for a fun night out full of great food and wine and if you’re getting into the Gatsby Spirit with the highly anticipated, soon to be released Great Gatsby film why not reserve a table for the Next Door’s Gatsby Soiree to celebrate the movie release and their new limited edition cocktail menu on May 30th?

You might see me there - I’ll be the one drinking Champagne from my coupe... 

Next Door Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon
Images courtesy of The Weekend Edition and The Urban List.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What to do if you’ve got 5 Days in Cairns.

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I’m baaaaaaaaack! After 5 glorious days in tropical north Queensland, I’m back and settled into reality and whilst I know some of you may have seen or heard what I’ve been up to if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram it’s time for a little summary…ready?

Here we go.
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Alleyway to Caffiend in Cairns
Thursday/Day 1: We flew up to Cairns on a super early Virgin Australia flight and after making our way to our hostel we booked our activities for the next few days before heading to Caffeind for a delicious bite to eat. After refuelling in this funky café it was time to get high – high in the sky that is. We got a coach to the Kuranda Skyrail and caught the gondola straight up taking in the magnificent views of the rainforest.

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View from the Skyrail
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When we reached the top we explored Kuranda and I introduced our English visitors to that old Aussie favourite 'The Golden Gaytime', before catching the skyrail back to earth. This was a great activity to do in the half day we had available – especially as we were all tired from the flight and were looking for an option that didn’t require a stupendous amount of energy! The views of the rainforest are stunning and it’s quite a relaxing journey.

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Our first night out in Cairns we stuck close to home. Our hostel – Gilligan’s – had both a bar and club downstairs but with my friends diving on the reef the next day it was a relatively reserved night.

Friday/Day 2: While my three companions opted to do a scuba dive on the reef I not to. Yes it is a little crazy but I have been snorkelling on the reef a few times and aside from the cost (diving is expensive!)  and exhaustion holding me back I get bad seas sickness and didn’t feel comfortable going without any diving knowledge or experience behind me so I chose to dedicate the day to improving my mindset.

Yes I was super jealous when they came home with tales of scuba diving with a shark but I honestly really needed some time to myself. It was lovely to sleep in a bit, take my time getting ready then go to the Paleo Café for a healthy breakfast…I then wandered around cairns, basked in the sunshine, dipped my toes in the lagoon and ate fish and chips by the water followed quickly by a massage. Whilst certainly not as exciting as their day the R&R was just what I needed to feel alive again

We went out for a lovely dinner before having a few cheap drinks and a bit of a boogie.
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Saturday/Day 3: Today was a big day. We were up early for a tour to Cape Tribulation, stopping along the way for a croc-cruise down the Daintree and a rainforest walk too. The beautiful Cape Trib – where the rainforest meets the reef – hosted us for lunch, and although my second visit there it was still utterly spectacular. Icecream at a local plantation, an educational presentation by local aborigines and a trip to Mossman Gorge all followed after lunch and by the time we got home we needed a short rest before we started preparing for a big night out.
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The Daintree River...full of crocs
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Cape Trib - where the rainforest meets the reef
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Cape Tribulation
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Mossman Gorge
Anyone who’s travelled to Cairns as a backpacker or young adult will have heard of the Woolshed, a seedy bar renowned for being a good (if not completely un-classy) night out and basically a ‘ must-do’ for travellers . Do I need to say it? We went there. The drinks were cheap, the music was loud and the dancing on tables was quite possibly had by all. After a few hours of dancefloor domination we decided to head home but somehow we managed to get sucked into the Gilligan’s once again…the lure of LMFAO was just too strong and crazy dancing (think hopping around like kangaroos) ensued….thankfully there is no photographic evidence of this part of the evening.

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Sunday/Day 4: Goodness gracious..we needed a bit of a lie in today – which was ok because our only planned activity was the Minjin Swing at AJ Hackett Bungee! We’d got a 2-4-1 deal through our hostel and as we bundled into the AJ Hackett shuttle, blasted some example and pumped ourselves up for flytime. We each got two swings so the girls went together first and then we were each strapped in with the boys. It was mental! The rush of adrenaline was intense and it was totally different to the feeling you get when bungee jumping and paragliding. I definitely felt safer due to being strapped into the swing so if you’re not quite up to doing a bungee the swing is a good starting point to extreme activities!

On Sunday night we treated ourselves to a lovely meal down by the marina at Dundees. Dundees specialise in Australian fair, seafood and pasta and everything we ate was superb – between the four of us we sampled the seafood tasting platter to share, seafood chowder, mushroom soup, and we shared two epic Croc rocks (volcanic rocks with fillets of barramundi, eye fillet, crocodile and kangaroo served with honey sweet potato), as well as a sticky date pudding, dessert taster plate and coconut-lime ‘Malibu’ parfait. Yup, we went all out. Then we wandered around the night markets (a whole lot of tackiness but there are loads of cheap souvenirs and cool friendship bracelets if you’re into that kind of thing on offer) trying to ‘digest’. We took in the awesome band that were playing outside at Gilligan’s before being submitted to a ‘wet t-shirt competition’ (a classy establishment it is not) and heading to bed…

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Monday/Day 5: With our flight leaving at 5 we unfortunately couldn’t partake in another day trip so we jumped on a half day tour to Green Island. This was by far the highlight of my trip. As I’d missed scuba diving I convinced/pestered the boy to come snorkelling with me and after donning our sexy stinger suits and swimming out we found ourselves making friends with a gorgeous, green turtle. I saw him munching on the sea grass and quickly alerted the boy – it was such a magical experience swimming alongside such a beautiful creature. I think we are so lucky to still have these animals in our oceans and we really must do our best to help them survive. I will say that the coral at green island was not spectacular but the turtle and the colourful parrot and rainbow fish we saw completely eclipsed my expectations and simply made my day.

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I now have a new goal of saving up and doing a proper scuba diving course so I feel ready to dive next time we go to the reef as I am certain there will be a next time….and I want to say hi to Mr sea turtle again.

When we got back to Cairns from Green Island, we had lunch at the Paleo Café so the others could experience it before heading to the airport to board our Qantas flight home.

Overall it was an amazing trip – action-packed and loads of fun but also really eye-opening to the amazing things 
Queensland has in our own backyard.

Now to start saving for the next one…

Some other details you might like to know:

Where we stayed: We stayed in a deluxe dorm room at Gilligan’s Backpacker hostel on Grafton St. Our room had an ensuite, balcony, mini-fridge and tea and coffee making facilities which was really all we needed. The rooms were really clean and were serviced daily but I will say that if you want a god night sleep do not stay at Gilligan’s. It has a huge bar and club downstairs which has great deals for those staying at the hostel but the downside is pumping music until the early hours...like 4am.

Getting around: We made the mistake of getting a shuttle from the airport into town then we discovered that the taxis are actually cheaper! To/from the airport to central Cairns you shouldn’t have to pay much more than $20. Our hostel was smack-bang in the centre of town so we walked everywhere. We were given a half-day free bike hire from our hostel for booking so many activities but didn’t have the time to use it although we were told that the ride along the esplanade to the botanical gardens is lovely.

Booking Activities: We booked all our day trips and activities the day we arrived though the travel agent at our hostel who was excellent (Thanks Tracey at Gilligans!). There are loads of options for different budgets and we had no problems with not being able to get what we wanted. That said it pays to check the weather (try for low wind levels if you're heading to the reef) and know what you want to do before you go. If you are going in peak season it may be worth booking a couple of things before you arrive.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Autumn's A-foot

Well it certainly feels like the seasons are a-changin'. And what better way to welcome in the autumnal goodness and the coming winter chill than to reassess that all essential wardrobe favourite... shoes, shoes shoes!

Goodbye sandals. Goodbye thongs. Hello closed-toe pumps and ankle boots (ooh, my favourite!) or perhaps even some designer hi-tops?

On a quest to reinvigorate the lower part of my wardrobe i.e. the 'shoe collection', which is currently looking quite dire, I have come across the following finds, that I hope to stock up on.

Bloom Black, Diavolina shoes

Robin Hi Heel, Witchery

Belle, Christian Louboutin

Tokyo, Jimmy Choo

Antibes, Le Coq Sportif

Now all I have to do is narrow down the list and decide which ones I will spend my hard earned dosh on... or should I splash out and buy them all?!!