1. I spoke with a British accent when I was a toddler for no apparent reason
  2. Endless walking is where I get my best ideas
  3. I go through 4 pints of milk in a week
  4. Cotton Candy grapes and flatto Peaches are my favourite seasonal fruits
  5. Watching Disney parks vlogs is my easy wind down
  6. I once made a hovercraft for a school project and a miniature trebuchet just for fun
  7. I avoid popping candy, burpees and sunlight glinting off cars because they all make me feel like I’m having a migraine
  8. I hate surprises, I read all the spoilers before I go to a movie (Game of Thrones was the dream scenario)
  9. Pikelets (mini pancakes to you non-kiwis) are my ennui food, and I make it with the measuring cup I stole from my Mum
  10. I am very easily scared by people coming around a corner too fast

When I first started blogging it was all afternoon tea all the time. In part this was because there used to be a kick ass blogging afternoon tea every month or so, it was a perfect combination of making friends and adventuring over London. But it was also because afternoon tea is just such a ‘London’ thing to do, and back when I was young and enthusiastic anything that made me feel truly ‘London’ was top priority. I have relaxed into living here a lot more now (ok, can my friends stop sniggering at the concept of me being ‘relaxed’) and so the afternoon tea with its high cost and dry-ass scones have drifted away.

That was until the other weekend when Emma invited me along to try the bunch afternoon tea at the Le Meridien Hotel. Of course I was excited by the concept of a brunch afternoon tea because brunch is an awesome lifestyle choice, but mostly I was excited to hang out with Emma. NB: We were a guest of the Le Meridien Hotel…or more specifically Emma was and I am just really good at gatecrashing.

Emma is not just my first blogging friend in London, I think if I remember rightly she was my first friend in London. We had followed each other on twitter shortly after I arrived in the UK and for a while traded expat woes in 140 characters or less. One day about six months into my London adventure I went to my first ever blogging event (man this post is full of firsts), it was a ‘Ladies in Blogging’ evening where we learned…something? I’m sure it was really important, and I am also sure that I should have been paying closer attention (5 years into blogging and I still can’t tell you a sparrows fart about SEO).

At the drinks before the lecture I had my brave pants on and was actually making an effort to talk to other humans. After talking for about ten minutes to this English girl she turned to me and said “are you Runawaykiwi?”. Turns out this English girl was actually London Kiwi Emma (yeah she is basically the Dr Who of accents, I’m waiting for her to regenerate as cockney soon), and I would continue to stalk her for the next five years and counting.

I think Emma is one of the most generous people I have met. She is the very first person to extend an invitation to something blog related (she is a real champion of other bloggers) and has the best collection of obscure and weird things to do in London. Oh and she is also the very first person to laugh at me when my reaction to being scared in an escape room is to scream and fall to the ground. What can I say, my fight or flight reflex sucks.

Anyway…this post was meant to be about afternoon tea right? So it was partly because it was brunch themed, but mostly because the stars had aligned and Emma and I were in the same country and free on the same day. The afternoon tea was O for Awesome. I am totally over dry little sandwiches but at this afternoon tea you got a full English served in a Yorkshire pudding, yes it was as good as it sounds. There was also eggs benedict in a little pie thing, scones flavoured with red pepper, chilli and cheese, and of course a tray of sweet treats.

The best part for me was the cocktail that I had with it which was gin, Earl Grey, sage and raspberries. It was bonkers how strong the Earl Grey flavour was, something I am going to attempt to recreate at home. I can just put a tea bag in a shot of gin right?

Well…that was a longer post than intended. If you just wanted the short version: Emma is an awesome friend and if you are still on the afternoon tea wagon then the Brunch Afternoon Tea at the Le Meridien Hotel is a tasty one to try.

Xx

My lovely cousin recommended a book to me when I was home over Christmas:  Hap Working the World. The book is about a Kiwi guy who had a life mission to work on every continent of the world before he turned 30. It took me a while to get started on it because I thought it was just going to be either an Eat Pray Love experience or just a list of awesome things that he did, instead this book made me go all 2016 Kylie and ‘realise’ things.

This book is travel before social media. It sounds shocking, but yes travel did exist before Instagram. These days I am so damn skeptical about travel photos I see on any social network, you can almost put money on the real place not looking like it does in the photo. It’s not even filters or Photoshop that’s to blame (although they are 90% of the problem) it’s also photos being taken at 5am on a special press trip before reality dares turn up. They are beautiful photos, the places inspirational, but if I go there I will never experience that social media world that I lusted after.

Hap’s travel however is as far away from the Instagram dreamscape as you can get. Hap’s travel was sleeping in a car for a month because hostels cost too much, working as a fine dining waiter on a ship crossing rough waters (while seasick) just to be able to tick Antarctica off the list. Hap’s travel is being crippled by depression in locations that on the face of it are carefree and picturesque.

I think that is the crux of why I liked this book so much. I have written before about expectations of expats when they move to London; many people have this idea of what their time in the big city will be like, they will be young, wild and free. They will be the life of the party, not get bothered by the little things and be waking up early for every sunrise. This view is a little soul crushing in the end, because what these baby expats have forgotten is that they will still be themselves on the other side of the world; except now they won’t have a support network.

No matter how much I long to be in that Instagram of a beach party as the sun goes down, in reality I hate parties – they are loud, full of strangers and surfaces are always questionably sticky. Same goes for most social media posts that make my heart wanderlust, if I was actually there I would probably be obsessing over the small things, tired and shitty. {NB: I know that travel is life affirming and magical, but I am also very realistic that it is not all perfect, there are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to travel.}

I loved the honesty of Hap’s book. He had a mammoth goal, and did everything (except that) to make it happen. At the same time striving for and achieving his goal didn’t make life easy or perfect. In many ways he would have had a far easier life if he had listened to the Russian billionaire and settled down into middle management (seriously, Hap had some wild adventures). I think the chapter where he goes in depth into the feelings he had after completing his working adventure, it will resonate with anyone who has done something big and scary only to be put back into normal life.

I feel like this book should be compulsory reading for any kiwis in their late teens or anyone who thinks dropping everything to travel is a life panacea. Travel will teach you many things, and it looks brilliant and shiny from the outside – but you can’t run away from yourself and your own expectations. To be honest I think everyone should travel and live somewhere outside New Zealand at some point, it teaches you far more about yourself than you could ever learn staying in the same place. But going into travel with a realistic view of what it will be like will save you so much heart ache.

If you know going into London that it will be busy, you will feel lost and alone, that the winters are impossible and the summers far too short, that jobs that you love are hard to come by and that Europe while tempting is often given up in exchange for sleep-ins after spending all your money at the pub… then you won’t beat yourself up for ‘failing at London’ when it all inevitably comes true. God knows there will be enough good bits to make it all worthwhile, but they don’t eliminate the strength you need to get through the bad bits.

I realise that using the internet as a Magic 8 Ball might not be the best idea. But when a girl is drunk on stolen gin and alone in a Berlin hotel room, who else is she to turn to? Three months ago I asked Twitter if I should take a risk or not, without giving any context whatsoever, 54 of you answered and the clear majority said yes take the risk. Based on the hive mind of the internet the next day I spent all of my savings ordering an engraving machine from Korea. Thanks to that 93% today I get the excited privilege to introduce you to Zeal & Heart, my new jewellery line.

For those who have been reading since the start of Runawaykiwi (man, 2012 feels like 9 lifetimes ago) you will remember I used to sell jewellery on Etsy. Back in those days I had three designs that I got a manufacturer in Birmingham to make and to be very honest the sales meant I could eat that year (skint in London is no fun at all). Getting someone else to manufacturer was never exactly what I wanted to do, but in the dark ages of 2012 (pre-Brexit, pre-Trump, pre-gin based alcoholism) the technology didn’t exist to produce what I wanted.

My dream was to be able to engrave all of those Pinterest worthy quotes on tiny pendants, tiny so that they are a talisman for you and only you, not something shouted at the world. Over the years I have wanted to tattoo myself with these sayings changing my mind every other week over which it should be, but I think sterling silver is the less permanent option. Anyway, I digress. Thanks to five years of waiting the technology now exists and is sitting in my living room.

Zeal & Heart is going to be all limited edition designs (thanks to my low boredom threshold…yeah I really shouldn’t get a tattoo) and I am making only 100 of each. The sterling silver pendants can be purchased on a chain or just as the pendant and are all engraved with the edition number on the back, so you know which of the 100 you have. Once a design is sold out that’s it, on to the next Zeal & Heart message in silver.

My big hope (apart from you know, people buying them!) is that Zeal & Heart pendants bring a little bit of hope, courage or solace to you when you wear them. I know what it feels like to be a little lost in the world and sometimes all you need is that simple message to remind yourself and bring you back to center.

Seven designs are currently up on my Etsy store, keep your eye out for new designs being added to the range soon.

Love Runawaykiwi

xx