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Its Time To Make A Change…….

1 Oct

They say that changes are hard to do, but I think this is going to be a good one. I’ve long since tired of the limited design capabilities in WordPress, and so after 4 years, have made the move over to Squarespace, where I hope you will join me. I’ve got a fun new look but that’s the only thing thats changed, and I have vowed to post more regularly too!

The transition should be smooth, the URL stays the same (www.laughteriscatching.com) but the difference is that you won’t see me pop up in your feed on WordPress, so please take the time to bookmark my new page or sign up for email updates there.

Thanks for all the support you have given me on WordPress, now head over and check out my new design, I would love to hear what you think!

Laura x

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Afternoon Tea and Fun for Me Part 1: Bake-A-Boo, West Hampstead

8 Aug

If you think about all the things that are quintessentially British, what comes to mind? The Queen and her corgis, rain, queuing, and afternoon tea. There is something so English about a selection of teas, different pits and china cups, and milk and two sugars. And I love it.

With an American friend on an extended visit and a love of afternoon tea and scones, I decided her visit wouldn’t be complete without a perusal of at least one tea room, so I began some research.

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Photo via Elle, who is much better at taking a photo than me!

I found Bake-A-Boo. Being diabetic, its rare that I find a tea room that offers a diabetic option, so my interest was piqued. They also had the bonus of offering a gluten-free option that still included the finger sandwiches and scones, so this was destined to be the first on the list.

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Dont get me wrong; West Hampstead is a bit of a pain to get to, and to visit the cafe you have to book in advance and pay half the balance by bank transfer as way of deposit, which doesn’t make the experience overly easy, although that didn’t stop us at all!

We arrived, and browsed the list of at least fifteen teas! Elle was in her element, but I stuck for the old faithful, Earl Grey. Never far from a cup of my slightly perfumed favourite. The spreads then arrived; finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cupcakes and brownies.

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We weren’t disappointed. The scones were light and the cupcakes delicious, and we had to box up a lot of the food and take it home. The fun was added to by the fact that there was a very civilised hen party going on and they seemed to be having such a lot of fun that it gave me the warm and fuzzies.

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My thoughts? It’s not easy that you have to pay half in advance, and in comparison to other afternoon teas I have had its on the higher price end for what you get, but it was such a lovely experience that I would definitely revisit. Well played, Bake-A-Boo!

Bake-A-Boo | 86 Mill Lane | West Hampstead | London | NW6 1NL

Do you love high tea like me?

Sightseeing My City – Cocktail Making at Battersea Power Station

28 Jul

What do you do in London when it’s the weekend and the sun is shining? Get down to Battersea Power Station and take part in an outdoor cocktail making master class, that’s what!

Well, that’s what we did anyway.

Because everyone loves food.

Because everyone loves food.

Battersea Power station is a monolith on the skyline of London; a testament to a different time, and now a protected building, well-known to Londoners. Having been derelict for years, it is now in the process of being turned into a new development of housing, and is set to regenerate the area.

.... has a silver lining

…. has a silver lining

So this summer is the last summer it will be free for Londoners, before the works are finished. Enter the Power of Summer.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

Battersea Power Station in all its glory.

The Power of Summer exists to toast a new chapter in the stations history, with a 100 people capacity street market going on all week and at the weekends, boasting stalls like Bob’s Lobster and Randy’s Wing Bar. They offer open air cinema to the masses, with Premier Pods if you fancy a little more luxury, and hug beanbags for those who just want to snuggle down and watch a film in the sun.

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

Graffiti art at the Street Feast

“London finally has a chance to get up close and personal with this iconic building for what will be a truly unique series of events. We’re very excited about bringing the whole Street Feast experience to Battersea Power Station, along with Everyman’s inspired selection of films.” Dom Cools-Lartigue

Bob's Lobster - London renowned

Bob’s Lobster – London renowned

We were invited down to the Indytute Cocktail Making Class which was run by Ping Pong (one of our favourite places for Dim Sum) so we were pleasantly surprised. The sunny day (not as advertised, weatherman!) only made the day better, and soon we were head to head in a mojito making cocktail off.

cocktail champs!

cocktail champs!

let the battle commence!

let the battle commence!

Through the two hour session we learned to make original mojitos, blackberry and Chambord lovelies and hibiscus coolers, all with the original mojito as a base. We giggled along with the other guests and got very competitive, stopping only to sample the wares of (first) Dogtown’s amazing hotdogs, and then later on, after a good few cocktails, a pulled pork bun at Miss P’s BBQ. We spent a lot of time talking to the guy working the stall who told us all about how they smoke the meat for 14 hours and the history behind smoking. It made us starving, and also looking to go try out the smoked turkey they offer in Brixton around Christmas!

Have you ever tried a cocktail making class?

The Macaroon Afternoon*

16 Jul

I’m not a huge fan of stepping out of my comfort zone, but I do see the benefit of forcing myself to do things that scare me. Long gone are the days when I used to hide behind my mothers long skirts and duck my sister throwing mud at me, and now I must stand alone (mainly because at nearly thirty it would be a bit weird for me to be hiding behind said Mother, who, like Yoda, is now smaller than me.

When I saw a deal on macaron making classes, I roped in my BFF and booked us a slot.

Macarons

And it was great fun! We rocked up in our pair and it became immediately apparent that there were three types of people who did this sort of thing.

1)      The Fun Finders.

So us, and the hen do that were also there. Not down with taking life too seriously, none of us cried when anything went wrong – we had fun and were amazingly pleased with the outcome.

2)      The Die Hard Bakers

identifiable by the fact they arrived alone (no BFF to weigh them down) and immediately were drawn to each other, to make a ‘powerpair’. Before you could draw your whisk for a duel they were bonding over their previous successes and failures in independent macaron making, shouting buzzwords such as lavender water and rose oil. We made a beeline for the opposite end of the room, as every time we laughed in the queue they glared. No funsies.

3)      The ‘One More Enthusiastic Than The Other’ Couple

Lets face it, boys and macaron making do not go seamlessly together on the whole; they are no sausage and mash. The reluctant boys turned up, dragged along by their girlfriends as a fun day out, and looked perturbed to be there. One had an attitude where he rolled his eyes at the fun personality of the instructor, only to be shot down in glares from us girls who were there to have a good time, LOVED her, and weren’t prepared to have anyone steal her sparkle. Then there was the guy with the huge beard, who unfortunately got covered in macaron mixture fairly early on and spent the rest of the time picking it out of his beard. Hahah!

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We macarooned with the best of them for three hours, adding colours and fillings, and generally learning a whole lot. I have to take some time to talk about Jojo, the instructor, as she had the most addictive personality and was one of the loveliest women I have had the pleasure of meeting. So much so that when I asked my friend if she wanted to go to another one, she said she would happily pay thirty pounds to sit in a room with Jojo for 2 hours as a self-confidence booster.

If you want to try out the macaron making classes, you can book here from the fantastic Flammen and Citronen. I think it would be a really fun thing to build into a hen weekend, or something unusual to do if you had friends to stay.

*Actually, that’s not what we did. A macaroon is a small cake made with coconut; a French Macaron is two little bites of dreaminess sandwiched together with buttercream. We made the latter, but I wasn’t going to let the truth get in the way of a good title!

One’s Destination Is Never A Place…

9 Jul

…. but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller.

It’s getting that way again, where my feet become restless and my heart hears the calling of the world around me, and yearns to get out there and do. Traveling is what soothes my soul and makes my heart happy, and I know there I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to explore, and the things I need to experience.

Last Christmas was rough on all of us, with having lost Granddad being so fresh in our minds, and I’ve been dreading the impending winter months, not wanting to feel the hollowness of our loss so strongly again.

So the boy and I are contemplating jetting off to see somewhere new and missing Christmas and New Year in the UK altogether. At first it was just a pipe dream (Imagine if we ditched it? Imagine if we ran away?) But the seed has been planted and I feel the roots taking hold and hopes growing from them.

So I’ve made a list (I’ve checked it twice) and I want your input.

Thailand

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Thailand has always been a place I need to see in my life, and the spark has been recently reignited by a number of friends having visited. Cheap accommodation, crystal clear seas and warm climes are some of the reasons it features so highly.

Costa Rica

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Another one that features highly on my list is Costa Rica. It’s a great place to trip to from the USA so a lot of my friends and family have been, but to me it just looks like paradise.

And also, sloths.

Venezuela

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Random choice for Christmas sun, but Venezuela comes up fairly cheap for flights in December, and sitting just south of the Caribbean, it obviously has its appeal. The angel falls sit inland, but they are a must see for the life bucket list. I must admit to not knowing too much about the area, but would love to explore.

Japan

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There is something mysterious about Japan, and it’s a place I would love to explore. Cherry blossom, snow-capped mountains and a culture like nothing I have ever experienced before.

Where is your favourite place in the world and where would you recommend to a traveller? I want all your tips!

2014 Travel – London: Staring at the City

6 Jul

Now I’m back in London, I have a friend over from the States for 2 months, and its making me do things differently. I’m experiencing the city through the eyes of a tourist and honestly, you should do it. Even in your own city. There is so much to see and do in a city so rich with culture, and getting the chance to be part of it is amazing.mklm

Yesterday we signed up for the “Alternative London Tour” which casts a path through the rich tapestry that is East London. Starting and finishing in Old Spitalfields Market (one of my favourite places to spend a sleepy Sunday) the tour weaves through Banglatown, Brick Lane and Tower Hamlets to bring you back to the start.

The art we saw was amazing. I don’t really get the view that graffiti is abhorrent – I understand that some kid writing his name in spray paint isn’t ideal for a community, but when you turn a corner and see portraiture by the medium of aerosol paint, you can’t argue that it doesn’t have its place in art history in the same was as Van Gogh or (Londoner) Tracy Emin.

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Each tiny alley or side street taught us something; the ability to look and actually see. Signposts with angel toppers cast from pigeon wings, white walls stenciled with the words “99% of people will not see this” and mosaic tags of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; all sights we see each day but never really take the time to look at.

We wove through time, from the airy spaced, open windows of the Huguenot workspaces, to the Jewish community site that was wiped out in the Blitz, all presided over by a place of worship that had passed from Catholicism to Judaism and now stands as a Mosque. We stepped through local communities – I love that this area is rich with family run businesses and one off stores, and listened as the passion flowed from our tour guide.  The East of London is a rich dichotemy of culture, and a bustling place to check out in London. Sixty years ago it wouldn’t have been a great place to visit as a tourist, but without taking a trip to Shoreditch you miss a whole, beautiful section of London. The typical London summer weather didn’t even stop us.

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The magic of this tour is born from the experience and passion of the tour guides. The tour is also a “pay what you think its worth” basis, making normally high priced tours accessible to everyone.

If you have 48 hours in London this summer, you need to check this out.

 How do you feel about graffiti as an expression of creativity?

Getting a Handle on Adulthood

1 Jul

A few weeks ago I came across a new blog to love, Aussa Lorens. I giggled and pulled shocked faces while reading her posts, and then laughed out loud when I came across a post titled I Just Can’t, which inspired this post. Take the time to check it out, it will brighten your day.

Sometimes when driving I get an attack of  “What the hell am I doing!?” thoughts, and suddenly realise that age is advancing like wild horses, and there really isn’t anything I can do about it. But there are quite a lot of things that I do that make me realise that however many sprouting grey hairs that offend me while peering in the mirror, I really haven’t got my shit together.

I just can’t…

1# Relax during a massage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a massage, unlike my sister who (direct quote) “doesn’t like people touching” her. I love the whole build-up of going along and thinking how amazingly relaxing its going to be, and how my stresses will be wiped away with the simple touch of a trained set of hands and a splash of funky smelling essential oil, but does it ever happen like that? Nope.

I cannot chill out. when the masseuse says “just breathe deeply and relax” I tense up. I find the repeat in the panpipes music and start humming along, or I worry I might fall asleep and dribble, or I worry I might fart. All in all, not a relaxing experience. Which leads seamlessly into..

massage

#2 Yoga

If you thought the massage was bad, yoga is a massage on crack. You’re surrounded by a whole host of yoga type women who really get it, can strike a tree pose without getting the giggles, wobbling and falling over, and when it comes to clearing their mind and relaxing at the end, you know they are meditating for sure, and not worrying about the sell by dates of items in the fridge and where they put that Tupperware from lunch last week.

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#3 Go through security or get ID’d without feeling nervous.

I must have a really deep seated problem or been part of Al Quada in a former life, but whenever I go through the customs part of airport security at the exit end, or get ID’d in a bar, I feel nervous. I get sweaty and I feel panicked, for absolutely no reason at all. I am so far past the legal age for drinking that I can’t even remember it, and I have a valid passport and no activity to feel at all guilty for. However this still happens. I’m kind of twitchy, and weird.

4# Wear lip makeup without pulling a funny face

The stickier it is, the worse my face is. Lipstick makes my lips feel dry, and anything glossy and sticky makes me inadvertently smack my lips together, like a fish out of water. It’s not a good look, or very classy.

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5# Go to sleep without checking under the bed

This is a new one, but a year (yes, a year) ago, the boy and I watched the whole of Luther from start to finish (it’s a really good detective series in the UK, with Idris Elba). Anyway, horror or suspense things don’t really bother me, however there was this one episode where a killer snuck into these girls house and hid under the bed for hours before killing them all in their sleep. So now I check under the bed, unless its in my flat where I know that its stuffed so full of winter clothes and duvets that no one is getting in there. You know, JUST IN CASE.

What can’t you get to grips with?

Biscuiteers Blogger Meet Up, Notting Hill

17 Dec

When Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy emailed me about a blogger meet up, I was dubious. I find these things really awkward, talking to people I don’t know and trying to find a common ground, when essentially we have all been grouped together over such an ambiguous love, words.

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Biscuiteers, physical location in London’s Notting Hill

But when she mentioned biscuits, I was there. I mean really Lauren, you should just lead with that!

I’m so glad I went. What I experienced was the cutest little shop, Biscuiteers, and a collection of really lovely girls all icing biccies to their heart’s content, and getting covered in sugar syrup in the process.

There were pre-iced ones so we didn’t feel like total idiots, and we iced bauble and Christmas tree shapes, trying desperately to make them look even a little like the ones the lovely ladies who work there had crafted. Not so lucky in my case, but I had fun all the same!

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DIY Gingerbread house. SHUT. UP

The shop is darling. They sell all sorts of iced cookies, from day of the dead masks, to Superman, to an entire nativity crafted out of buttery biscuitness. Sadly, my godforsaken iPhone has died since the event so I am having to borrow photos from the other girls there to give you a visual idea, but if you ever find yourself in Notting Hill, go forth and find them. You will be plunged into a biscuity heaven!

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Biscuitty montage courtesy of ruthlgarner.com, who is a whizz with a camera!

I also met some lovely girls there, including Ruth from The Planned Adventure, Becca from Urban Flipflops and Amber from Amber Nouveau not to mention the lovely-as-ever Lauren who writes over at Aspiring Kennedy, and orchestrated the whole event. Check them out, all well worth a read.

Happy Holidays!

Ice, Ice, Baby

10 Dec

I feel like I have been living in the capital long enough now to not consider myself a tourist. I tut when people come off the tube and stop on the platform right in front of me, and I have a serious sense of urgency when someone is standing on the wrong side of the escalator. It’s totally ridiculous and unquantified, but just like black bogeys, London changes a person.

Every now and then however, I like to jump on the tourist bandwagon, grab my camera, and go loco. Especially this time of year when the twinkly lights sparkle above the streets and the smell of winter is in the air. I develop a sense of camaraderie unseen through the rest of the year, and happily bump shoulder to shoulder with the ten million other people in Covent Garden wanting to experience the Christmas cheer.

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Me hooded up and defended against the ice

The IceBar recently generated that kind of touristy wonder for me. I have heard people talking about it and visiting, but I have never made the time to go for a visit myself. After the skiing incident, I don’t particularly like the cold, but with London coming over all Christmassy I felt I should join in.

And what better way to do something you want to do than by buying it for someone else? (I joke, the boy did want to go, but I also had a vested interest myself 🙂 ) So I booked tickets.

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Team Ice Bar

Below Zero, London is fun, I’m not going to lie. The experience of queuing to get hooded up in a midnight blue hood with fur round the edge and mittens makes you very excited about the prospect, although the space is a bit small for the amount of people they try to cram in. The entire bar is made of ice, including the glass you get your cocktail in, which is included in the price. As I am super clumsy I had to be very careful about frisbee-ing my ice glass off the bar and losing my drink (I paid for that, goddamnit!) but on the whole its a one-off experience which would be great if you had visitors in town.

Have you been to an IceBar?

“Close Your Eyes And Clone Yourself, Make Your Heart An Army”

22 Oct

This is a story about a man and a girl, from different sides of the world, a decade separating them in birth, and three and a half thousand miles. Never the twos paths did collide, until her 22nd birthday, when a friend handed her a carefully wrapped box. When she opened it there were three CDs inside, of a man she had never heard of, and she was assured that if she listened to all three of the CDs in their entirety, something fantastic would happen.

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That girl was me, and as you know, I don’t like change. I liked all my old music, so why would I spend a chunk of my night listening to (yet another) guy who thinks he is good at the guitar, and giving it a go? I also am completely stubborn, so the idea of introducing a new CD that I hadn’t chosen myself was an alien one. I’ll have to admit, it was a brave present choice for a girl with a stubborn streak a mile wide.

I lay on my bed, with the light off, and I listened. I followed the album order and playlist, and duly switched CDs when they came to an end. All the while I was sitting patiently, something was happening. My friend had been right.

I fell in love with a sound, a voice and a soul, and now John Mayer would be my desert island disc. I’m pretty sure that if I was stranded on an island, I could get through life if I had his albums stored safely somewhere, ready to call upon when I wanted to feel happy, or sad, or calm, or to relax.

This weekend, our paths finally crossed and I got to see what all the fuss was about for myself, when I went to see him live. I had missed out on the last time he visited London as I had an early flight to catch the next morning, but this time I was lightning quick when it came to booking tickets, and had almost forgotten, until I saw the box in my diary (I’m a pen and paper kinda girl) to warn me of my plans for the following weekend. I have never really appreciated live music, failing to understand why people enjoy it so much, but suddenly I got it. My sister laughed at me as I sat forward, perched on the end of my seat in sheer excitement, and stomped and sang through all my favourites. I was even captivated through the songs I didn’t know, listening to the sound of the guitar and feeling like I finally got it.

You know what? I don’t care if he isn’t your taste. We were all created differently for a reason, but we all share one thing. A passion for something, or someone. Everyone has a song; a band or a classical piece that transports them somewhere, and for me John Mayer ticks that box. I loved every minute of it, and when I got home I was too wired to sleep, singing in the shower and planning my next time to see him. I know people judge him on his lifestyle rather than the music he makes, but I have no interest in that at all. As long as I can sing along, it makes me happy!

What band or song gives you this feeling? Share your passions!