Little Outdoor Kylie

Wildfire: The Best (and Rainiest) Firework Display North of the River!

November 19, 2014

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Photography credit: Paulina Sobczak

There’s something about the British “stiff upper lip” that always makes me smile.

I’m not the kind of person who barks about “making Britain great again” or marches along the high street with banners and flags, but there are times when I have to look fondly at the way we do things in this country and feel, well, sort of proud really.

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The last time I had this feeling was two weekends ago, whilst standing in a wet carpark in North London, watching a firework display and holding an umbrella over my head as the rain poured down. And the best thing about this stalwart display of “Britishness”? I wasn’t alone. I was in a crowd of a hundred or so others.

Because a little bit of rain isn’t a problem for us Brits. Umbrellas, wellies and waterproofs at the ready and we’re prepared for anything. Including wringing out our soggy pulled pork sandwiches and Norwegian waffles. But more on those in a minute.

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“Being prepared” is a good lead-in to the reason why I was watching fireworks in the rain at all, actually. Many of you will remember Annie from my Girls With Altitude post back in July. With her lovely wild curly hair and enviable map-reading skills she succeeded in not getting the five of us completely lost in the Welsh hills during a weekend of adventures in the Elan Valley.

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In her spare time, Annie also volunteers a huge amount of time to the Scouting Association, and along with master of ceremonies Marlon, a whole host of other volunteer leaders and of course, the explorer scouts themselves, they plan an annual fundraising celebration that easily rivals anything else in the nearby area.

Named Wildfire, Wild Wolf Explorer Scout Unit’s Bonfire Night took place at Scout Park this year, just a hop, skip and a jump from Bounds Green station on the Piccadilly line.

The rain was coming down with little or no let-up when I arrived, and despite my outdoorsy tendencies, I really hadn’t dressed for the occasion either. As I trudged my way towards the park with water sloshing around in my boots, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d be the only one mad enough to brave this gloomy November weather.

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I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Even though I’d arrived early, the car park was already buzzing with activity. I could see an information tent complete with DJ equipment, two huge food stalls that were wafting some rather delicious aromas into the small crowd and in the distance, signs pointing towards a campfire and marshmallow roasting opportunities. And that was just the start!

I visited each and every stall lining the carpark and the adjacent field, and do you know what I saw? Despite the rain and the cold, a never-ending parade of smiling faces beaming at me from behind every trestle table that was sinking in the mud.

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Young people with a real sense of ownership for whatever they were doing, whether it was roasting chestnuts, selling doughnuts or hawking cupcakes by the light of their head torches because the rain had blown a fuse in the outdoor lights.

It was inspiring to see such pride and determination in the face of undeniably rotten bad luck. As the saying goes, “the show must go on”, and indeed it did.

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Once I’d spent my time ooh-ing and aah-ing at what was on offer, I slipped and slid my way towards the fire pit, still marvelling at the sheer amount of people who’d appeared out of nowhere to support this community event. Warming themselves next to the bonfire’s roaring flames were folks of all ages and backgrounds, a real cosmopolitan mix, and each and every one with a smile on their faces too.

Perhaps it was the rain, perhaps it was the cheerful nature pervading the park grounds, who knows. But what I can tell you is that nothing could dampen the Wildfire spirit, and right up until the big fireworks launch at 7:30pm, people were still flooding into the gates.

Everyone wanted to be a part of it.

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And when the first rockets finally hit the sky, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. I was never a member of the Scouts, nor do I have much in the way of involvement now. I’m not a north Londoner and hadn’t met most of young people and the whole host of volunteers helping them on this dreary Saturday evening in November.

But standing amongst them, I suddenly felt a sense of community so warming, it thawed me even more effectively than the cup of hot apple juice I had clasped between my hands.

Nice work WWESU, I’ll be booking my ticket for next year.

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If your child is interested in getting involved with WWESU, you can contact Marlon, Annie or one of the other leaders via their website for more information. The group is for 14-18 year olds and they meet once a week on a Wednesday. WWESU also have an enviably busy social events calendar: hikes, camping trips away, outdoor sports activities and fundraisers to name but a few. The explorers also have a lively Twitter, Facebook and YouTube presence!

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A Snapshot of Australia: Week Two

November 10, 2014

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Welcome to part two of my Australian holiday recap! Last week I took you to the Botanic Gardens, the beach, the city of Adelaide and the vineyards of McLaren Vale, but this time everything is stepped up a knotch with a week’s adventures in Melbourne.

Mia and I flew out on the Monday morning, leaving behind the cosiness of Adelaide and heading for the larger urban jungle of Melbourne in the state of Victoria.

I was confused at first: how was it that we were only in the air for forty-five minutes and yet crossing a time zone and entering another state…? My commute into central London takes forty-five minutes on the tube and I only travel about ten miles! Australia is such a vast country that I barely scratched the surface, but it was exciting to get as far as the next big city.

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We landed at Melbourne Tullamarine in the early afternoon, and caught a bus and then another bus to the heart of the city. Mia had booked us into Somerset Hotel on Elizabeth Street, right in the city centre (or CBD, as the locals call it). Our room was on the tenth floor, with an amazing view of the hustle and bustle happening below.

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We didn’t waste much time getting started once we arrived, dumping our bags and hitting the streets in order to scope out what was on offer. I was keen to see how Adelaide’s closest neighbour held up in comparison to the kind, warm and big-hearted South Australian capital I’d fallen in love with over the past week. I’d be a tricky one to please…!

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At first glance though, I really liked Melbourne’s cosmopolitan feel: its tidy lines and grid system were similar in style to Adelaide’s but with hidden twists and turns and tiny laneways that were full of life and excitement.

And whilst it wasn’t half as busy as London is when I’m fighting my way to Waterloo in the evening, the vibe in Melbourne was positively buzzing: it’s easy to see why Australians and even folks from further afield flock here and never want to leave. It has a youthful vibe.

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We returned to one of the laneways in the evening and were accosted by quite possibly the most charismatic fellow I’ve ever met: before we knew what was happening we were sat down at a little table outside a bustling Italian restaurant and were ordering pizza!

Mia and I didn’t mind so much, as we’d both been considering pizza anyway, but we watched the fella rinse and repeat the same trick to almost every bewildered couple or tourist group that walked through the laneway and couldn’t help but marvel at his technique! Think Brick Lane, but with infinitely more class.

Oh, and the pizza was pretty goddamn delicious too!

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Oh my! Our second day in Melbourne was just the best! But first, a bit of backstory.

A week or so before flying out to Australia, I’d tried to rectify the almost complete lack of novel reading in my life by picking up a Murakami to get stuck into. I’d done reasonably well for a change, getting almost halfway through, but then (as always) I got bored and switched off.

I was eventually forced to admit to myself that “normal” novels don’t really do it for me. I like pictures. It was time to return to an old faithful, the trusty graphic novel.

And where better to reacquaint myself with this long lost love than at a couple of Melbourne’s most well-known and loved comic book stores? Hello there Minotaur! G’day All Star Comics!

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These two stores couldn’t have been more different, but were equally as rewarding to explore.

Minotaur was vast and sprawling, an underground cavern filled with an exhaustive range of all things nerdy, from figurines to costumes to plushies to knick-knacks and of course, the comic books themselves. It’s a phrase that gets overused, but there really was something for everyone. Mia snapped the above picture of me heavily involved in a decision about whether to pick up the Black Widow origin story or not, but in the end I made for the alternative section and chose Black Hole, Shortcomings and Harlequin Valentine.

All Star Comics is what I would call a more “traditional” comic book store, but it has a lovely modern feel to it. It’s a smaller space, but the selection on offer is perhaps even more diverse than at Minotaur, catering for both the super-keen reader and the entry level nerd. The fellas behind the counter were unbelievably friendly and helpful, going hugely out of their way to suggest a alternative when they discovered the book I was looking for was out of print.

Much to my delight, Mia keenly jumped on the bandwagon too, and walked away from both stores with an armful of books including my all-time favourite: Blankets by Craig Thompson.

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After a quick detour back to the hotel to deposit our spoils, it was time for lunch.

Despite my unwavering loyalty to Adelaide, I have to admit that Melbourne really knows what it’s doing when it comes to good food. We ate lunch at Café Stax on Little La Trobe Street, and the delicious veggie fritters I chose scored pretty highly out of everywhere we dined that week. Topped with avocado and halloumi, a pesto dressing and salsa dip, they were so scrumptious I could easily have put away another round without too much hassle…!

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And when I say heavenly, I mean heavenly… just look at that aura!

After a cheeky afternoon nap (hey, it was supposed to be a holiday!), I found Mia in the living area of our room, nose firmly stuck in her brand new copy of Blankets. I managed to pry her away for long enough to suggest we take a walk and get a hot drink somewhere.

Unbelievably, that morning we’d been strolling around in our t-shirts with light cardigans, but as the afternoon rolled in the temperature had dropped ten degrees! I thought the UK had a changeable climate, but it’s got nothing on Australia! Mia and I wrapped up in coats and scarves and headed to a nearby coffee shop to enjoy a pair of heavenly hot chocolates (one normal, one white) and have the opportunity for a good old natter as the evening drew in.

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It was a good thing we wrapped up warm, because it was mighty windy down on the South Bank, and that was our next port of call! Walking by the river when the sun had gone down was a magical experience; what is is about cities at nighttime? A hundred times more exciting and inspiring, and Melbourne was no exception.

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It was an amazing end to our second day in the city, and we both tumbled into our beds with a cup of tea and a graphic novel each to get stuck into.

That’s the way it rolls when it’s #geekgirlsontour.

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Wednesday was a perfect example of best laid plans going astray…!

Having done some reading about the top ten things to see and do around the city, I spotted the quaint and quirky nearby seaside town of St Kilda with its brightly-coloured beach huts and thought it would make the ideal day trip.

So with the briefest of stops at the 7/11 to purchase and top-up Melbourne’s answer to the Oyster card – a Myki card – Mia and I located the tram stop and rode it almost all the way to the end, nestled in amongst the late morning commuters and other beach-bound tourists.

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Unfortunately, by the time we’d arrived and walked down towards the sea, I discovered that I’d managed to off-shoot the colourful beach huts by quite a significant distance. They were much further down the coast, and would take about an hour and a half’s walk to get to! It was a bit of a sad realisation, but it wasn’t the warmest day, and Mia and I thought we’d be blown away completely if we tried to make our way down the beach towards them.

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Despite my disappointment, we decided to sack off the huts and make the most of sleepy St Kilda instead, which really did feel like it was just waking up after a long winter’s nap. There was a lovely hippyish feel to its faded glamour, and the pair of us clocked a few shops we wanted to explore whilst we’d scouted out somewhere for lunch.

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Without much persuasion we chose Leroy, a café that wouldn’t have been out of place in Shoreditch, though it wasn’t even half as busy as it should have been.

I mentioned how much I enjoyed Stax Café a bit earlier on in this post, but I think its main contender during our trip would have to be Leroy. The decor was quirky and rustic and the food was beautifully presented and delicious! I chose the veggie focaccia and Mia opted for the chicken version. Both were devoured with zero complaints.

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I’m a sucker for anything a bit hippy-esque, and was delighted to discover a whole range of shops lining the main street stuffed to the brim with brightly coloured scarves, tribal jewellery, incense, candles and dreamcatchers.

Our favourite of the bunch was Eclectico, which gave my staple favourite Tribu in Camden a run for its money! The staff were super friendly and helpful, and both Mia and I loved that they wrote everything we bought down in a huge old-fashioned ledger instead of using a till.

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When we arrived back in the CBD that evening it was almost rush hour, and we had to navigate the onslaught of folks hopping on and off trams and filling the already busy streets. Now it was beginning to feel like a real city!

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Eventually we found solace in Federation Square, where I made friends with the sparrows and admired the architecture of all the buildings that surrounded this multi-purpose plot of public space. There was a huge screen showing a Japanese anime film, and plenty of people enjoying it from the comfort of multi-coloured deckchairs.

We enjoyed another lovely meal in an Italian restaurant overlooking the square (you can’t say I didn’t eat well during my travels!) and crossed the city at nighttime again to head to bed for the last time in our hotel on Elizabeth Street.

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Whilst dining the previous evening, Mia and I had spotted an exhibition on at the ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image) in Federation Square that caught our attention… all about DreamWorks Animation studio!

We decided it would be the perfect way to fill our final morning in Melbourne, and were up in good time to take a peek before flying back to Adelaide.

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I was really impressed by the diversity of stuff on display at the exhibition. Concept art, sets, models, early animation tests, behind the scenes stuff, interactive displays; it’s no wonder it was such a popular choice with folks of all ages.

It was brilliant to get reacquainted with some old favourites too. I’d forgotten just how big DreamWorks’ back catalogue is, and there were plenty of “oh, I’d forgotten about that one!” style comments from us both as we meandered through the displays.

I made a mental note of everything I wanted to watch again as soon as we were home… Kung-Fu Panda, Shrek, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron…

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My favourite item on display at the exhibition had to be this set from Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit. The miniature veggies were works of art, especially the lettuces!

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… and these guys came a close second, just because Chicken Run is such an awesome film.

I really enjoyed my time in Melbourne, and felt luck to have visited and seen a tiny portion of what was on offer there, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit feeling happy to return “home” to Adelaide at the end of the week. I spend my life navigating a big city, and there were points when Melbourne exhibited the same characteristics as London: busy, rushed, exciting but sometimes exhausting too.

As soon as we landed back in Adelaide I felt the pace slowing again, and I was glad of it.

Next week: I’ve saved the best ’til last… this is the one where you get to see all the amazing Aussie animals, breathtaking views from the summit of Mount Lofty and a whole bunch of photos for the family album…!

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The October Plenty Festival

November 6, 2014

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Photography credit: S Pakhrin

If I say I love autumn, it sounds like I’m jumping on the blogger bandwagon.

You’d be expecting me to start professing my undying love for pumpkin spiced lattes, stomping in the leaves and wearing oversized jumpers. Now, whilst the aforementioned are all nice (except the lattes… coffee’s not my bag), there is an autumn tradition that I look forward to above any other, and I’m very excited to finally share it with you today.

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Photography credit: S Pakhrin

Welcome, one and all, to the October Plenty Festival.

It’s difficult to know quite how to describe this marvellous piece of pagan-inspired harvest celebration. It’s such a unique and special thing, sand I wish I could somehow bottle and enjoy it for the rest of the year, just like I do with the first sunrise of the year on January 1st.

As I should imagine with most who’ve experienced it, I first discovered October Plenty completely by accident. It all starts on bank of the Thames, not far from London Bridge tube station. Usually all you have to do is follow the sound of the music.

It gets louder as you round the corner, and before you realise what’s happened, you’ve stumbled into a riot of colour and medieval-inspired costumes. There are folks selling corn dollies and handmade necklaces with faces of the Green Man on them.

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Photography credits S Pakhrin: one, one and three

You’re distracted by all this for a few minutes, perhaps even rummage in your pockets for some change to buy a programme, though you don’t really know what it’s for.

Then, out of the corner of your eye you catch the sight of a procession making its way towards you, a bell ringer with wild curly brown hair at the helm and an accordionist at the rear, in between them women wearing rainbow-coloured dresses, folks with stag antlers and fox tails, morris dancers and a ten-foot tall effigy of a woman created entirely of vegetables.

Oh, and a man dressed from head to toe in green.

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Photography credit (right) London SE1

What you’re seeing here are members of The Lion’s Part, a group of thespians from a wide range of artistic backgrounds who come together in order to share their love of traditional music, costume, celebration and the seasons. Twice a year they perform two free spectacles, the Twelfth Night celebrations in January, and the October Plenty Festival in October.

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So hypnotising and heart-warming are their performers, and so jolly and jaunty their music, you won’t stop to question that you’re following this eclectic bunch along the riverside towards Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, up through the iconic gates of this glorious building and filing into the rows of wooden benches that stack three levels high and wrap around the stage.

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Photography credit: Simon Cozens

The music goes on and you’re treated to laughs, thrills and stunning performance. The Lion’s Part have a long-standing friendship with the management of the Globe, and the head-honcho is there himself, standing next to the man all dressed in green and clapping his hands along in time with the music.

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… and just in case you thought I’d be the only one in the crowd at such an obscure event! Every year I attend, October Plenty gets more and more popular.

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When the performance is over, the curly-haired bell ringer invites everyone to join the performers as they sing and dance their way down to ancient Borough Market (which this year celebrates its 1000th birthday!) to enjoy the annual tradition of Apple Day.

And then, no matter what your plans were up until that point, you’ll find yourself following the crowd jostling to leave the Globe, making your way past surprised onlookers – many of whom join the parade as you pass – en route to the market.

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Photography credit (top) Robert Sharp, (bottom right) Garry Knight

Once you arrive, it’s clear its a foodie paradise. Cups of hot cider, freshly pressed juices, jams, preserves, cakes, crusty bread rolls, cheese as far as the eye can see and a never-ending supply of fruits and veggies, all backing on to stalls selling the most delicious and varied-looking world cuisine you can possibly imagine.

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But of course, it’s Apple Day and the humble fellow takes centre stage.

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There are so many types of apples you’ll lose count; there must be a hundred different varieties. And if you’re feeling like something sweeter, the proximity of October Plenty to Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night means there’s always a toffee apple or two up for grabs!

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Things get underway again once the Lion’s Part reaches the makeshift stage at the back of the market, encouraging everyone to make merry and give thanks for the bountiful harvest. The Morris dancers perform their routine as the man dressed in green makes his way through the crowds, a veritable celebrity as people stop him for photographs every few feet.

And then it’s games of conkers and fairytale reading and more performing, a barrage of good-natured fun and smiles and an important reminder to be grateful for the bounty of the earth at this time of the year. It’s one last hurrah before we turn the corner into winter.

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Photography credit: S Pakhrin

It’s hard to accurately sum up the experience of October Plenty, but one review I read managed to get it spot on: “imagine your primary school harvest table just came to life”.

And started dancing, laughing and performing Shakespeare right in front of your eyes.

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A Snapshot of Australia: Week One

October 31, 2014

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G’day lads and lasses! Long time no speak!

It’s been almost two months since I’ve written a new post, and boy have I missed it! But it’s been a great opportunity to take a break from the norm and have some real adventures, the biggest and most rewarding of which was undoubtedly my recent visit to Australia.

Way back in January of this year, I wrote a post called 10 Goals for 2014, and one of the most ambitious on that list was to save up enough money to visit one of my oldest and dearest friends in Adelaide, South Australia. It was a hard slog, but with a bit of determination and willpower I managed it and had my ticket booked by the start of July.

Mia and I have known each other since we were about thirteen, but have only ever met twice! I flew there once when I was eighteen, and she came over to the UK for the first time a few years afterwards, so there was no denying we’d have a lot to catch up on.

So on September 17th I jumped on a plane and bid adieu to the UK for a whole three weeks!

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I landed in Adelaide just after 7:00am on Friday 19th September, and was greeted at the airport arrivals gate by Mia and her dad. It always surprises me how easily it is to pick up with a good friend exactly where you left off, and sure enough, it only took a few short minutes to find our groove! It was as if the last six years had only been six minutes.

When we arrived back at Mia’s family’s house in Glengowrie, I was welcomed so warmly (and fed so many pancakes) by Mia’s mum that the fact that I’d just tumbled off a 20+ hour flight was all but gone from my mind. I felt as if I’d come home.

After setting a couple of days aside to get my body clock back in rhythm and ensuring there was plenty of time for much-needed catch-ups, all five of us bundled into the car on Sunday morning and drove down to a lovely place called Victor Harbor.

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I remembered visiting the last time I’d been in Adelaide, and was glad we were able to make the trip again. As with most towns and cities in Australia, this one is by the sea, and we were all grateful for the breeze coming in off the water, helping in part to negate the 32°C of belting sunshine that was bearing down on our backs!

Victor is connected by a long causeway to nearby Granite Island, a nature reserve of sorts you can reach by means of a house-drawn tram or on foot. We opted for walking, which meant we could stop and enjoy the views as we crossed the bridge.

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As beautiful as these views were though, the real reason for our visit was to see if we could spot the penguins! I always have it in my head that penguins prefer colder climes, but the South Australian coast is home to quite possibly the cutest member of the penguin family, the fairy penguin. So called because they reach only thirty centimetres in height, these adorable little fellas live in burrows excavated from the rock face.

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After a wander around the front-facing half of the island, Mia, her sister Nini and I spotted a little penguin sanctuary, where any birds that have been injured are taken to live in sheltered accommodation away from further threat.

The woman that runs the sanctuary is actually a British lady, and instantly I found myself looking forward into the future, wondering if I’d be doing a similar job when I was at that stage in my life! Talk about job satisfaction! You could tell this lady was totally in love with what she did… and all the little lads and lasses under her care. With good reason too!

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The next morning dawned bright and blue, the sky totally free of clouds and the temperature another warm one, so Mia and I caught the tram into the city for a spot of shopping and exploration. The rainbow balconies on this block of flats caught my eye straight away!

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Adelaide’s main shopping street is Rundle Mall, a pedestrianised area with numerous arcades and indoor shopping complexes that branch off a long, centralised main street.

There’s something about Adelaide that is refreshingly logical. Its grid-like road system must be akin to somewhere like New York (though I’ve never been), and as a result you never really feel like you could get lost. London’s winding roads are easy to navigate when you know what you’re doing, but I doubt they’re all that friendly if you’ve just moved to the city.

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Tourism central! Can you spot the oh-so-predictable pair taking a selfie on the left?

The Mall’s Balls and the bronze pig sculptures are two of Rundle Mall’s most famous sights, and of course, I had to get a snap of them both. There are actually four piggies, but Mia chose to strike a pose with Oliver, who is cheekily raiding the bin for scraps.

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After lunch, Mia insisted I take a peek in one of her favourite shops: T2. There wasn’t much need for encouragement on her behalf; I was hooked in an instant! This tea-lovers paradise is crammed from floor to ceiling with every type of tea you can imagine, and some you definitely can’t! Fruit teas, black teas, tisanes, herbal teas, even my all-time favourite: Rooibos! Though it’s now jostling for first place alongside my newly purchased Vanilla Mint…!

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One of the things I loved best about T2 is how beautifully everything is designed and arranged. It’s like the Lush of the tea world. I couldn’t resist picking up a few brightly coloured caddies for my purchases, as well as a couple of new infusers adorned with birds (obviously).

When Mia and I returned home that evening, a quick google told me that we actually have several T2 shops here in the UK too, which is definitely going to mean impending doom for my bank account! That said though, I’m glad to be able to say I first visited this marvellous shop in its country of origin. It’s a very groovy place.

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Considering my proximity to Kew Gardens, it’s quite remarkable that I haven’t made it there for a visit since moving onto the boat nearby a year ago. I’ll have high hopes for it now though, since taking a wonderful stroll through the lusciously green Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.

Situated a short walk from Rundle Mall and the shopping precinct, this little slice of nature lovers’ paradise is the perfect place to escape to during a lunch break in the city. It’s free to walk around and there’s plenty to see. Mia and I appreciated the leafy canopies, explored the greenhouses and picked a spot to sit in the sun near the newly developed wetlands area, where we listened to the banjo frogs playing their funny little tune.

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These big and beautiful lily pads were one of my favourite finds.

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I was blessed to have such perfect weather during my holiday. Last time I visited I chose to fly over in July and the weather was pretty diabolical, surprising even the locals! I made a sensible choice this time and waited for Australian springtime, so it was the ideal balance of not too cold and not too hot, perfect for a Brit who prefers things a little on the chillier ticket.

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It was moody, misty and atmospheric inside the tropical greenhouse. The sprinklers were on so we couldn’t venture far inside, but it felt just as if we’d stumbled into a rainforest. Mia mentioned to me that there are parts of Australia, namely places like Queensland, that actually have a climate similar to this. It’s hard to imagine a single country could be so diverse, but I suppose as it’s such a vast place, it’s not that surprising really.

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Okay, I lied. We didn’t strictly have breakfast on the beach, but we were pretty close, and I couldn’t resist the alliteration! Mia is lucky enough to live just a hop, skip and a jump away from the seaside, so at her mum’s suggestion we decided to head down one morning for a bite to eat and a stroll on the sand.

In hindsight, I think this was one of my favourite days of the trip. I remember feeling so relaxed and happy, totally living in the moment and enjoying myself.

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That’s not to say it wasn’t a touch blowy at the end of the jetty though!

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The Edge Deli was the perfect choice for breakfast. In fact, just thinking about it now whilst I’m writing is making me so hungry, I might have to take a break and find something to eat…! My vegetarian breakfast was out of this world delicious, complete with crispy-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-middle hash browns, fried mushrooms, avocado, spinach and sourdough bread. Be still my heart! I finished it and wanted to start all over again!

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What I like best about the seaside in Adelaide is the lack of tacky beach paraphernalia. Whilst visiting beaches (particularly in the south of the UK) is always a good laugh, sometimes I get tired of looking at the same tired arcades, faded lettering and candyfloss stands.

Brighton beach near Glenelg is beautifully minimalistic and fresh. Everything is clean and tidy, and as silly as it sounds, the emphasis is purely on that amazingly crystal clear water and perfect golden sand. I liked that. Very, very classy and yet, still totally exciting and inclusive.

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I loved this wanted poster! Adelaide’s gulls are clearly lacking in manners too…!

During our walk on the beach, Mia and I made friends with this adorable puppy, who didn’t quite understand the idea that the waves would keep coming back… again and again. He had a good spirit though, and bounded around making friends with everyone and letting us pat and make a fuss of him. What a cutie!

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As you can imagine, I took literally thousands of photographs during my stay in Australia, and picking a tiny handful to represent each place that I visited has been hard. I’ve tried my best to choose ones that really capture the feel of each individual place, be it through colour, composition or just the feeling I have when I look back through them.

To me, this picture perfectly demonstrates what it’s like to be up in the vineyard regions near Adelaide: sweeping hills, big skies and that unmistakable olive-coloured hue regimented by rows and rows of low-growing grape vines.

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This paradisiacal little spot belongs to Hugo Wineries, and it’s tucked right away up in the vale. It was the first stop on our cellar door tour, and I picked up a bottle of red here for my dad, which was much appreciated when I gave it to him upon my return!

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At Woodstock, we stopped for a cup of tea outside on the patio and ogled the fella preparing bases for the evening’s stone baked pizza party. Yum.

Sitting amongst the eucalyptus trees, I had a feel sense of how fresh the air was, so much so that taking in a huge breath was almost too much, and gave me a heady rush! It struck me that, whilst I’m busy bombing about the big city of London, I must always be subconsciously struggling for unpolluted air. I certainly made the most of it during my time in McLaren Vale!

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The more astute amongst you may remember from posts gone by that I am actually teetotal, so you might be wondering why on earth I’d be interested in doing a tour of Adelaide’s wine growing region? The truth is, the wine seems almost an afterthought in many of these places, because the scenery surrounding the restaurants and cellars is so picturesque. When Mia and her folks were busy sampling what was on offer, I was more than happy to check out the trees, plants, flowers and birds that also call the vale home.

There’s more than enough to do, even if you’re not bothered by the wine or you’re the designated driver. I can see why lots of locals visit regularly at the weekends or on public holidays: this part of the state is beyond beautiful.

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One of my favourite stops on our tour was Coriole, which definitely won the award for best in show. I must have snapped about twenty different versions of this photograph! This little corner of the vineyard will look absolutely stunning at the height of summer, when the nasturtiums climb all the way around that little green door.

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Week one of my trip was rounded off in style with a party… it was Mia’s 27th birthday!

I remembered from my previous visit that when Mia’s folks hold a get-together, they really go to town! Being originally from Serbia, the European idea of the big family gathering is exactly what you’d expect, and Mia’s mum kept bringing out plate after plate of food, leaving all of us needing a good lie down afterwards! It was delicious though – a full barbecue for the meatysauruses and huge doorstep wedges of cheese pie for the veggies.

Chatting to Mia’s cousins and grandparents was lovely too, and all of us drank and ate and laughed together sitting around a long table outside in the garden. It was wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate the end of my first week in the festival state!

Next week: Mia and Kylie fly to Melbourne, buy a lot of comic books and eat far too much delicious food! Check in on Friday for the next instalment of my Australian adventures!

Posted in Out and About under ,

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Long Time, No Quack!

September 2, 2014

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If you stop by here on a regular basis, you might have noticed that it’s been a wee while since I popped my head above the parapet to say hello.

But never fear! I haven’t forgotten about you! I’ve just decided to take a little summer break from writing, and I’ll be returning very soon with your favourite content, plus a whole host of other new features and articles for you to get stuck into.

So, why the break? Well, it seems life has been rather busy for me of late. Many of you know that I work in the city as a graphic designer, and we’ve been delivering some pretty hefty projects in the last few weeks. Late nights and early starts have seen me fall asleep in the middle of writing blog posts and I just haven’t had the stamina to produce innovative stuff.

I’ve also decided to embark on some volunteering with local charities, including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust branch at Barnes, a few stints in the information centre in Richmond Park and possibly even some time on the Basingstoke canal.

Then, to cap it all off, on 17th September I’m taking a well-earned three-week holiday to Australia to see my wonderful friend Mia! I’ve been planning and saving for the best part of a year, so it will be THE BEST feeling to finally jump on a plane and deliver the promises I’ve been making for the last eight years!

So this isn’t goodbye, far from it! Having a few weeks away has allowed me to re-evaluate where Little Outdoor Kylie will head next, and how I can continue to enchant, thrill and delight you with my tales of adventure in London’s green spaces and much, much further afield too.

Be sure to keep up with me on Instagram and I’ll see you all again very soon!

Posted in Just Kylie under

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