Monday, 31 October 2016

Hollywood Halloween Pin Ups

I've just stumbled upon a great little Flickr account dedicated to everything Halloween and found they have a wonderful archive of old publicity pictures of Hollywood

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Cool 70s-Style T-Shirts

Electric West is a teeny independent company in San Diego that makes awesome 70s-inspired t-shirts that scream out California sunshine, desert road trips and Tarantino

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

My Perfect London Pied a Terre

Growing up in London, I never think to stay in a hotel when I visit seeing as I still have lots of lovely friends to visit with comfy spare rooms. But sometimes I do crave a romantic city

Friday, 21 October 2016

10 Plaid Pieces for Autumn

I don't know what it is about Autumn, but something happens to me when pumpkins start popping up on doorsteps and crunchy leaves fall underfoot and I start craving plaids. Any

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A Tiny Cabinet of Curiosities in Brighton

I've lived in Brighton for 12 years, but never been to a museum in the city. Shock horror! I don't have an excuse. It might be because I grew up in London with some of the world’s best on my doorstep and am not far away if I need a culture fix. 

So in an effort to 'rediscover' Brighton, this weekend, Dan and I wandered over to the windswept Dyke Road Park just a stroll from Seven Dials to The Booth Museum. This is Brighton's very own natural history museum, but with London so close, what makes this one worth visiting?

For one, this tiny museum is described as the home of the 'diorama' – the first of its kind to display birds in their natural habitat. It's an idea since copied all over the world and perfected in New York's American Museum of Natural History and The Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Imagine! A ground-breaking Smithsonian-approved museum just 10 minutes from my house. 

But before we take a peek inside, first a bit about its founder, an English eccentric born in Buckinghamshire, raised in Hastings and Brighton in Sussex, Edward Thomas Booth. 

Booth as a young boy, around his time at Trinity College.

Booth was a typical affluent Victorian, exposed to shooting, the natural world and taught taxidermy at an early age, it's no surprise he became a man with a serious ambition – to exhibit an example of every species of British bird. The more obsessed with his project he became, the more time he spent on expeditions – Trinity College, Cambridge, kicking him out even asked him to leave for neglecting his studies. As time went on, he became more obsessed with his goal, keeping extensive diaries including frighteningly long lists and tallies of his prey, eating Cross and Blackwell tinned soup, drinking whiskey or four, recording the names of his dogs, but not his wife's, and occasionally firing his shotgun at unsuspecting postmen...

And then there are those hunting sandals...

By 1874, his collection of birds and taxidermy had outgrown his marital home – Bleak House – on Dyke Road, so he built a new home for it in his garden, soon to become The Booth Museum we know today.

The Booth Museum when it opened, 1874.

A colour postcard showing The Booth Museum, 1909.

We're almost ready to look inside... but first you have to close your eyes and imagine the sounds of chirruping forest birds echoing from the ceiling and around the museum, for the full effect, because this is what you hear while you're browsing the cabinets. Then there's that small-museum musty smell – inescapable when you're surrounded by over 100-year-old stuffed birds and animals. With all this in mind, let's begin! 

There are 300 dioramas – glass cases depicting birds in their natural habitat – inside The Booth Museum building which is a basic building that resembles a giant shed with a high galvanised pitch roof. 

The cabinets of diaoramas stretch along each side of the museum from one end to the other, show every British bird in its natural habitat. From seagulls and owls, to hawks and starlings. I love these beautiful herons... 

Once he'd fulfilled his ambition to exhibit one of every British bird, he began setting his sights further afield, collection species from all around the world... from birds of paradise to parrots – even returning with the skeleton of a Dodo, that mysterious and beautiful extinct flightless bird once found on the island of Mauritius until the 17th century.

A recreation of his home reveals a treasure-trove of Victorian curiosities and taxidermy, giving us a sense of his character and life...

Perhaps most mind-boggling is the extensive and carefully categorised collection of butterflies and moths – 23,070 in total...

But don't stop there, for hidden at the back of the museum is a gigantic skeleton cupboard filled with all kinds of bones, from human to horse, blue whale to narwhal, turtle to terrapin, spider monkey to chimpanzee... even an Indian elephant.

Perhaps local museums are good after all!

Visit The Booth Museum at 194 Dyke Road, Brighton.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

11 Bottles of Wine in Cool Packaging

When did wine labels become so cool? Unless a new trend has passed me by. Browsing the shelves of my local offie the other day, I noticed a few bottles I could buy purely for

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Two Days in 'Little Dubrovnik'

For the last part of our Croatian adventure, we floated onto the island of Korcula, known as 'little Dubrovnik' for its pretty walled town. Here, w
e explored more cobbled alleyways, hiked to an amazing hilltop restaurant, chilled on the beach and drank delicious wine at a local bar. 

We stayed in another perfect old-stone cottage we nabbed for just 45 Euros a night on Air BnB. Our host – Ana – gives us an introduction and toasts our arrival with some delicious  homemade lemon liqueur (from the large bottle left in the fridge for guests). 

She tells us it's market day in the square so we set off to get our bearings in search of sustenance.

...before hunting down the town's renowned bakery, a fascinating little place called Cukarin just outside the old town walls, whose female owner is certainly one tough lady, baking delicious traditional cakes and biscuits herself, each and every day. 

When it comes to eating out, there are a few nice places in the old town (Filippe to name the best) but we discovered the best place on a hike 11km out of town in a sleepy little village called Pupnat.

On the way, we hit a storm so take shelter under a canopy in the grounds of Konoba Grubinjaca hilltop farmhouse restaurant we stumble upon my accident surrounded by lush vineyards with a mesmerising view out over the hills down to the coast and Korcula Town. 

Onwards, we pass though a tiny deserted-looking town (it's not...) full of curious-looking houses before we hit the hiking trail. 

A couple of hours and a rusty old Renault Four later (they're de rigour over here), we reach our destination! The town of Pupnat, home to Konoba Mate, a family-run restaurant serving thoughtful wholesome food made with produce they grow themselves. It's maybe one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. In the whole world. 

Could this be the prettiest food you've ever seen?

Early evening back in Korcula Town, we head to Vinum Bonum, a teeny tiny dive-y wine bar hidden up a narrow alleyway outside the old town, serving more of that excellent Croatian wine for around £1 a glass we'd become accustomed to on this trip, alongside tasty tapas dishes. 

We wake up to sun on our last day so hit the beach town of Lumbarda to feel the sand in our toes and do some kayaking.

Our time on Korcula was short and sweet but it won't be forgotten. I hope you enjoyed following our journey these last few weeks, and of course, Croatia, we'll be back very soon! 

Psst. Part 1 and 2 of our Croatian adventure here: 
Our vacation in a crumbling Roman palace and Hidden treasures of Hvar.