Blog

Blog, Music, The Ultimate Recipe for the Perfect Music Gig

The Ultimate Recipe for the Perfect Music Gig

Reader, I have been asked on many occasions what the best gig I have ever been to has been. I will be slowly approaching near 30 gigs by the end of this year and honestly, I couldn’t tell you.

Its disgruntling when I see the disappointment on people’s faces when I can’t give them a direct answer. So having seen a gig three weeks ago and about to see another in the upcoming weeks, I have thought about ‘What makes the perfect gig?’ and what a show needs to have for you to come back for more. I have broken it down to five (and a half) things that make the perfect recipe that make the ultimate gig experience. Some gigs you go to might only have one or two of these features that stand out for you but it doesn’t take away from it being one of the best gig’s you’ve ever seen.

I have also added my personal experiences of artists that I have seen over the years that I thought exceled in these elements as well for some context.

 
Ingredient #1 – The Setlist

What bands play to their fans is a crucial part in setting the atmosphere for the perfect evening. A band that has popular songs in one city, might not have been received well in another and as a band’s discography grows, it can be a minefield of selecting the perfect songs to entertain your audience.


The Best:
Maroon 5 – O2 Academy   February 2011
Why?: Maroon 5 toured promoting their third album, ‘Hands all Over’ and after two successful albums and had started to decline in interest after a lukewarm response to this album. Little did we know that ‘Moves like Jagger’ was just around the corner and the band would see a resurgence in interest just a handful of weeks after I saw them.

They catered to their audience well in this gig, knowing that everyone wanted to hear the songs they loved, particularly from their debut album ‘Songs About Jane’ after the mixed reception of their new album rather than the new songs. As a result they only sang just 4 songs out of their 16 song set being dedicated to their album they were meant to be promoting and got a wonderful reception from the 2,500 capacity venue.

img_2934
Adam Levine himself at the O2 Academy

Ingredient #2: The Crowd

You cannot have a gig without some attendees, I have been to gigs varying from six people to a sold out 67,000 capacity stadium. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the words to the songs, you can still soak in the music and the atmosphere from the crowd and it can move you just as much as the lyrics and melodies themselves.


The Best:
Passenger – Usher Hall December 2016
Why?: I have briefly touched on this in a previous blog, the engagement of Passenger’s crowd, notably in Edinburgh the first time I saw him was electric. Passenger told the audience during his set that he was going to share a story which inspired his song ‘Travelling Alone’. This heart wrenching song is about a man he met in Copenhagen whilst he was busking who was listening to him sing and got talking to Mike. He explained that he was travelling alone because him and his wife had planned to see the world and that she passed away before they could see the world so he decided to do it alone.

He asked the audience for complete silence and no phones in the air, to which all the audience did. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the sold out 2,200 capacity venue during his tale and it was hauntingly beautiful seeing not a single phone light or arms raised during those 10 minutes he shared his story and then played the song in question. It makes me a little sad to think we live in the generation where we try and capture so many memories through screens rather than living them sometimes.

ec41d268-c3c9-40ac-8f80-24387fe73c58
The Crowd at Passenger at Usher Hall

Ingredient #3: The Venue
The venue has a huge impact on how your gig experience is. From important things like, how near the bar is to your seating/standing to how far away are the toilets. It all matters. As well as this, you need to consider acoustics and how good the sound guys are in dealing with the venue.


The Best:
Òran Mór – Glasgow
Artists Seen: Katzenjammer (October 2012, May 2015), Nerina Pallot (November 2014)
Why?: This venue, jointly with SSE Hydro and O2 Academy (also both in Glasgow) is one I have frequented the most. This 500 capacity gig is one of Glasgow’s best known secrets. Tucked away in the West End and below a busy Church converted bar, it attracts the up and coming artists or talented artists who you might know for one flash-in-the-pan pop hit but infact have several albums under their belt of high quality material but maybe don’t quite have ‘the look’. Its a small stage with a backdrop of the venue’s logo and has a stripped back no-frills vibe. The bar is at the back and within easy access due to the small venue, with booth seats along the sides. You are pretty much guaranteed a good place to sit, stand or lean and still get a decent view of the artist and hear the artist without the blow of the speakers of the tin-like sound of the microphones. It doesn’t matter if you’re there to raise the roof, like the energetic loud sounds of Katzenjammer, to the vulnerable and soulful voice of Nerina Pallot, you are in safe hands at the venue and know that you will get the most out of your experience.

f7ce8265-9dab-431e-bea6-59f784cfcaad

Various gigs rom my time at the Òran Mór


Ingredient #4: The Talent
Of course you can’t have a gig without an artist! The pressure for artists to sound like their record that you have vehemently listened to leads to sometimes a disappointing reality that your artist might not actually sound the same in real life.


The Best:
Paloma Faith – O2 Academy Glasgow   January 2013
Why?:  This was a tough one to call from my personal experience. Paloma Faith stood out for me in particular as it was the first time that I can remember being blown away by someone’s sheer talent. Her vocal range and power exceeded that of her recordings and her bubbly personal transcended through the remixed versions of her songs, giving a multi-coloured presence to her mono-tone genre of ballad pop she is best known for. Her passion for her craft was evident when she kicked off her shoes and was seen sliding on top of the Grand Piano as she belted out ‘Picking up the Pieces’.

img_2945
Paloma Faith, dressed in a dress made out of rubber, getting the audience involved at her gig

Ingredient #4A: The Artist’s showmanship
Any artist can perform great music, but having engagement with your audience that night is crucial, especially with large crowds.


The Best:
Lionel Richie – SSE Hydro   March 2015
Why?: A seasoned veteran, Lionel has performed both as part of The Commodores and as a solo artist. At a man reaching his 70s, he managed his energy well between piano and standing to ensure he gave his concert 110%. He thanked his audience for not only coming but enjoying his music over half a century, paying credit to the generations that have listened to his music.

Whilst playing a few songs, he spoke about how he has been there for his fans through the various times when they have found, lost and made love. He playfully done this by listing the ways his records have been produced over the years, saying that his fans would grab ‘Their Vinyl,  8-Track, Cassette, CD and Download’ and call on….Lionel. The audience erupted in laughter at how music has evolved over the artist’s career.

His breaks in between songs were full of one liners and tongue-in-cheek jokes catered for all.

2015-03-06 21.00.01
Lionel Richie entertaining the audience with his joke

Ingredient #5: The Stage Design

The stage design plays more that one would initially think about your gig experience. It can be something as simple as one artist standing with a microphone to a full band and decorative outfits and props. How your stage is dressed can give a true insight that the artist is trying to portray as part of their image and can greatly impact your experience, be it the use of props of the interaction with the band and backup singers.


Special Mention:
The Foo Fighters – BT Murrayfield Stadium   September 2015.
Why?: This naturally had to get a nod for set design for accommodating Dave Grohl with his broken leg by giving him a moving chair modelled on the Iron Throne from ‘The Game of Thrones’  , replacing the swords with rotating lights and guitars. Teamed with the excessive head banging and kicking on his non broken leg, this by no means took away from Dave Grohl’s energetic personality and performance.


The Best:
Marina & The Diamonds – Fat Sam’s   October 2013
Why?: Marina Diamantis’ stage design was one to behold on her ‘The Lonely Hearts Club’ Tour. Complete with a Chaise Lounge full of cushions and a small Poodle plushie, a retro TV playing clips from music videos and a coat hanger with some outfit accessories to assist with her performance. This comfortable set and use of the props felt you were hearing Marina’s tales of heartbreak from her very own retro sitting room. All this was executed with her band on set without making the stage look too cluttered and adorned with a bright neon sign with her album title, ‘Electra Heart’.

2df65c2b-4f7f-48a2-9925-4ec0c1ee5914
Various photographs of the props and set used at Marina & The Diamonds’ concert

So there you have it! Do you agree with my ingredients? What makes a gig great for you?

 

AJ x

Baked Camembert, Blog, Food & Drink, Recipes

Baked Camembert

Reader, I am a glutton for all things cheesy. After a long day at work, there is nothing more satisfying than getting a bottle of Rosé out of the fridge and making some baked Camembert to tuck into with someone.

One thing I do recommend if you’re a semi-regular Camembert eater like myself is invest in a baker. It stops the fear of your gooey goodness spilling out of its original packaging and keeps your cheese warmer for longer when serving. Oh, and they’re relatively easy to clean with a soft brush and sponge.

Also if you host dinner parties as often as I do, small pronged cocktail sticks work a treat when serving and save on washing up!

Camembert with a meat selection from a dinner party. There was salad and bread too!

Before you place your baker in the oven, lightly score the top of your cheese and sprinkle a little Rosemary and Thyme. Then bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Most things can be served with Camembert but the classic is always crusty bread. I normally put a small bowl of flavoured vinegar on the side for extra dipping goodness!

These Balsamic Vinegars work well a treat from The Little Herb Farm

Cured meats is always a natural go-to for me with Camembert. My personal favourites are Prosciutto and Chorizo however Salami works just as well. For a more healthier option, fruits and veggies such as carrots and apples work just as well too.

Don’t shy away from being creative with your dipping! Potatoes can be quite crumbly but mixed with onion and egg into mini frittata bites have proven to be a success for me as well as mushroom arancini and spinach samosas.

Enjoying some Camembert with Potato and onion Frittata bites

How do you serve your Camembert and what do you enjoy serving it with?

AJ x

Blog, Live Music FAQs #1, Music

Gig FAQs #1

Reader, I’m a massive fan of live music and have built up an eclectic mix of artists that I have seen over the last few years in particular. I have seen sell-out stadium tours that tickets were gone in seconds to an artist who had to move his venue to the upstairs of a neighbouring pub after he only sold just six tickets (this guys ended up being the warm up act for Ed Sheeran some years later). I love anything that makes a good beat and has a talented and charismatic artist behind the microphone.

 

Best Supporting Act

This is a tough one. I have two in mind for this answer. The first amazing warmup act I saw was Sara Barielles at O2 Academy in Glasgow whilst she was touring with Maroon 5 back in February 2011. The supporting act was initially meant to be country icons Lady Antebellum but after the lead singer Hillary Scott announced her pregnancy, Sara stepped up to the plate as a replacement. She has not since returned to Scotland as far as I know and she is definitely on my list.

The second supporting act who stood out for me was Ben Caplan. The booming Canadian with an impressive beard first crossed my path when I saw Norwegian pop group Katzenjammer (for the first time) at the Òran Mór on October 2012. His sound and personality blew me away with his soulful lyrics and catchy hooks, so much so I had to buy tickets when I heard he was returning to Scotland to play the Electric Circus in November 2016 and he did not disappoint!

img_2922.jpg

img_2921
Ben Caplan – Òran Mór October 2012      Above: Sara Barielles – O2 Academy February 2011

 

First Ever Gig

This gig I don’t actually remember all that much because I was seven but I do remember the atmosphere, which was electric. Little did I know that seeing Whitney Houston on her 1999 ‘My Love is Your Love’ Tour would have such an impact on my thirst to see live music just over a decade later.

I remember being in the NEC in Birmingham (where I was told by my parents that the venue was where Gladiators was filmed which kept me very well behaved for the long car journey from our house as I thought I might actually meet a real life Gladiator!). I also remember a lot of costume changes and everyone getting their lighters out whilst Whitney sang ‘I will always love you’. I was also very excited that she sang ‘It’s not right but it’s Okay” which was my favourite of her songs at the time. What an artist to pop my live music cherry to!

img_2925
A selection of the various gigs and shows September 1999 – March 2015

Worst Gig Overall

I have only ever walked out of a gig once and it was that of YouTube sensation ‘Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox’ in March 2016. This electro-swing band prides itself on covering billboard chart hits with a vintage re-arrangement to hail back to yester-year. Bradlee, a struggling jazz pianist, started filming videos in his Queens apartment with some close friends, turned into a viral sensation. However this wasn’t translated on stage for several reasons.

The first being the Scott Bradlee did not show up. You heard me reader! The act is called ‘Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox’ yet he stayed backstage for no reason with no apology and had another pianist playing. The tour had about a dozen venues in the UK with Scott only making an appearance for his sold-out shows. He was still happily posting on social media with selfies of the collaborating artists like he was actually performing every night which proved disappointing for PMJ fans life myself.

Secondly the vibe was all wrong. The venue was a poor choice as many of the songs had a tap dancer who you couldn’t see as she wasn’t elevated. Perhaps the first few rows standing by the stage would’ve caught a glimpse at her talents but to most of us it was just noise and flailing arms. 

The audience was varied from young drunk students dressed up as flappers to elderly couples wanting a piece of nostalgia with a modern twist but there was no harmony between audience members who should have been united in music and it was an awkward state of confusing and discordance for most. When some of the singers tried to engage with the audience, it was mostly met with silence or a few weak claps.

Scott Bradlee and the Post Modern Jukebox came back to Scotland just under a year later and played at the Usher Hall, a much more ideal venue but was charging £65 per ticket (the same cost I was to see Motown legend Lionel Richie), a whopping 260% price increase from the £25 he initially charged at O2 Academy and also the same price I saw Passenger at the exact same venue.

Long and short of it was it was a massive hot mess and I walked out 45 minutes into their set.

 

I have been asked what my favourite gig was but I will dedicate a new blog post to that sometime soon.

 

Have you got any questions about my experiences seeing live music acts? Feel free to leave a comment!

 

AJ x

Blog, Food & Drink, Negativitea - Overbrewing, Tea

Negativitea – Overbrewing

Reader, there is nothing more satisfying as sticking on the kettle for a cuppa. After patiently waiting for your kettle to shake with excitement as the water bubbles and pour the steamy water over your leaves, the waiting game of brewing begins. Once completed, you take a sip and experience every tea lovers worst nightmare. The Overbrew.

This is such an infuriating experience, especially if you’re needing to be woken up by your caffeine fix and you’re still half asleep pouring the mucky, bitter water down the sink as you try again to make a better brew just to get that horrible taste out of your mouth.


So why does this happen and how can it be avoided?

 

Why does overbrewed tea taste so damn gross?!
Over brewed tea had a greater concentration of tannins. Tannins can be found in a variety of fresh foods including berries, legumes and is also found in wine. It is a defence component in plants to prevent them from being eaten.

Tannins make the plant undesireable to some animals, though tannins are not concentrated enough in tea to harm you if they are used in moderation, so don’t worry! These tannins bind the salivary proteins, leading to a rough and dry feeling in your mouth.

 

Is your water too hot?
The popular misconception that boiling water can be used on any kind of tea. In fact, each type of tea requires a different temperature to brew, this is because each variety is processed differently and has a different strength. Black tea is fully oxidised and more robust than the buds and dried delicate white tea. Brewing your tea at a warmer temperature can overwork the leaf and spoil the flavour.

Puerh tea should be brewed at 100 degrees
Black tea, Fruit & Herbal teas should be brewed at approximately 95 degrees
Green & White tea should be brewed between 74 and 85 degrees
Oolong tea should be brewed at around 85 degrees

img_2916

Are you using too much tea?
It is recommended you use 1 teaspoon per cup of tea however with larger leaf teas, you might need a bit more. Having your infuser packed with tea can stop the tea moving around which can impact the brewing process.

I find that when brewing White tea putting less tea sometimes prevents overbrewing. With it being a delicate leaf, if you put more tea in your infuser , it is therefore making a stronger brew which takes away from the original intended light flavour and can leave it tasting gross.

 

Are you just simply waiting too long?
Each packet of tea you buy should come with a set of brewing instructions, however there seems to be a general consensus amongst the teas that the standard recommended brewing time is 3-5 minutes for all teas with exception of white tea which is recommended 2-3 minutes.

Brewing your tea longer than the advised time realises a greater proportion of tannins, leaving your tea undrinkable.

img_2917.jpg

Can you overbrew Cold brew Tea?
Not really. You can brew cold brew tea for anything between 3 hours and overnight. However, you might get bitterness if you put too much tea in your cold brew equipment.

 

Hopefully this has troubleshooted some of your tea troubles and banish negativitea from your lives!

AJ x

Blog, Food & Drink, Tea, Top 5 Whittard of Chelsea Teas

Tea and Bake’s Top 5 Whittard of Chelsea Teas

Reader, Tea and Bake was clearly inspired by one of my loves, tea. One of my favourite shops which caters to this thirst is the English heritage brand, Whittard of Chelsea.

Founded in 1886, it stocks over 100 different varieties of loose leaf tea across over 50 stores nationwide. Having tried approximately 80 of these delicious blends (yes, I told you that I’m an addict!), I had to compile a list of my Top 5 Teas from the shop. This was not as easy as I thought it would be so after a lot of tasting, recasting and thinking… here it is!

 

All of these teas are best enjoyed without milk.
The brew times below are just my personal recommendations.

 

5 – GARDEN PARTY OOLONG
Flavour Profile: Papaya, Pineapple, Strawberry, Almonds
Brew Time: 5 Minutes

GPO.jpg

This gorgeous tea brings summer right to your cup! The Oolong Tea itself brings a nutty taste to the tea and gives it a taste of warm almonds. This tea is great infused as part of a cocktail.

 

4 – CHELSEA GARDEN
Flavour Profile: Peony, Rose, Strawberries
Brew Time: 3 Minutes

Chelsea Garden

This White Peony Tea is laced with rosebuds is a light and refreshing drink. It was actually the first ever tea I bought from Whittard of Chelsea and remains a staple in my cupboard. This tea is exceptional as a cold brew on a hot summers day.

 

3 – EXTRAVAGANT EARL GREY
Flavour Profile: Vanilla with a hint of bergamot
Brew Time: 2 Minutes

EEG

This delicate tea requires little brewing and can be very easily over brewed (yuck!). It is a definitely a classy twist to your standard brew, with the White Tea giving a lightness and vanilla giving a sweetness to your cup. The Earl Grey flavour comes with the cheeky hint of bergamot.

 

2 – ORANGE BLOSSOM
Flavour Profile: Orange, Orange Blossom
Brew Time: 3-5 Minutes

Orange Blossom.jpg

Orange Blossom is a beautiful blend of Black Tea with Orange Blossom and Orange Peel. It is the perfect ‘wake me up’ tea to get you out of the bed in the morning. Utterly refreshing!

 

1- BLUEBERRY ROOIBOS
Flavour Profile: Blueberry, Honey
Brew Time: 3 Minutes

Blubos.jpg

This is my absolutely favourite tea at the minute from Whittard of Chelsea. What makes this tea extra awesome is that it is caffine free so you can enjoy it any time of day! I have always described this tea and a warm hug. It’s malty flavour from the Rooibos added with the blueberries gives it a soothing quality and an easy drink.

 

Do you agree with my list? Are there any more teas I should try?

Leave your Comments below!

 

AJ x

 

Aubergine and Coconut Mash, Blog, Food & Drink, Recipes

Aubergine & Coconut Mash

When I was in Berlin, I visited the amazing restaurant called Spreegold. This was where I had my first experience of Aubergine & Coconut Mash.

So I had to try and replicate this at home and it worked out a treat! Yes, before you say anything reader, it doesn’t look like the most appetising thing in the world but trust me, it is delicious!

Food2.jpg(Top: Spreegold  Bottom: Pulled pork burger with homemade slaw and Aubergine & Coconut Mash)

 

Ingredients
Serves 2

2 Aubergines
150g King Edward Potatoes
1/3 cup of Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp of crushed garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp of Desiccated Coconut *

Salt & Black Pepper to taste

*For something more savoury, try replacing the desiccated coconut with thyme!

 

Method

1. Pierce your aubergine several times all the way around. Place them in a heatproof oven dish and drizzle 1tbsp of olive oil over each aubergine. Place in an oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until the aubergine is soft.
(Times can vary depending of size of your aubergines)

2. Whilst your aubergines are roasting, peel your potatoes and place them in a pot of boiling water and place over a medium heat on your stove, seasoning the water with a little salt. Wait until the potatoes are soft and strain.

3. Once your aubergines are soft, remove from oven and strip them of their flesh, scooping out the soft pulp with a spoon. Place this in a bowl and start mashing using a masher.

4. Add the garlic and coconut milk and slowly integrate the potatoes. Once the mix starts to incorporate, change from using the masher to an electric whisk to eradicate any lumps.

5. Once the mix starts to look like mashed potatoes, fold in the desiccated coconut. Season with salt and black pepper to taste

 

Food(Sirlion Steak, Aubergine and Coconut Mash, Sliced Greens, Garlic Potatoes & Peppercorn Sauce)

Tip: Why not make your Peppercorn sauce with Coconut Milk?

 

What is particularly awesome about this recipe too is that it is Vegan friendly for those who have dietary requirements. Also it is quite filling. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Have you tried this recipe? Let me know your thoughts.

Share it on Instagram and don’t forget to tag me @teaandbake!

 

AJ x

A Day Exploring Berlin's Museums, Berlin, Blog, Travel

Escaping the Rain – A Day exploring Berlin’s Museums

Having a large latte macchiato on Wednesday morning, looking out the window and seeing the groups of tourists running down the street with umbrellas and ponchos, there was no question that I would be spending my day sampling Berlin’s finest museums. I was like a spoilt child, naughtily indulging myself as to what I would like to see. I restrained myself to only two museums. Tränenpalast, also known as ‘The Palace of Tears’ and The Checkpoint Charlie Museum.

The Tränenpalast museum is quite small and just outside Friedrichstrasse train station but filled with a real visualisation into the life of East and West Berliners during the Berlin Wall. My favourite section was the suitcase displays, showing real stories of escapees from East Berlin to West Berlin complete with artefacts of their lives.  Another great part of the museum is the film reel. This collection of films are at certain points of the wall’s gestation and you hear both perspectives from East and West Berlin. There is also an original checkpoint booth which you can walk through. The reason why the museum is named ‘The Palace of Tears’  is because Friedrichstrasse station is where East Germans said goodbye to visitors going back to West Germany. Oh! And you get to experience this wonderful museum for free!

PalaceofTears.jpg(Top: An interview with a border patrol officer with signs from the crossing.
Bottom Left: Suitcase life story.  Bottom Right: Photograph of women having an emotional goodbye)

Going to Tränenpalast before Checkpoint Charlie gave me a real emotional insight into the day to day operation of the Berlin Wall. Checkpoint Charlie is the name given by the allies to the most famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War.

Checkpoint Charlie.jpg(Top Left: Checkpoint Charlie booth. Top Right, Bottom Right & Bottom Left: Signs from Checkpoint Charlie which are now preserved in the museum)

There was quite a lot of dense text for those who maybe didn’t do History past Year 9 to give them a real understanding to the state that Berlin was in post World War II. Having studied German History all the way up to and inclding my University Undergraduate Degree, I wanted to explore the everyday stories, like my experience at Tränenpalast.

Over the gestation of the Berlin Wall, 239 people were shot trying to escape from East to West Berlin. The creativity people went to was incredible. One such story is that of this woman who smuggled herself in two suitcases. She was crammed into this small space, waiting for 70 minutes whilst border patrol searched the car before being allowed to pass through to the West.

Woman Suitcase
(Photo of a woman being smuggled across the border in two suitcases)

The museum is quite vast, spanning 3 floors. It even had a section around Germany’s support towards its neighbouring countries following the collapse of communism and the change of Eastern Europe. There is not a corner of this museum that isn’t filled with an interesting story, artefact or painting. There are also sections of the Berlin Wall in the museum as well if you don’t have time to experience the East Side Gallery. It is not a cheap museum to visit, at €14.50 but you definitely get bang for your buck and as I said before, caters to all demographics and expertise on the subject matter.

Between these two museums, they are quite emotionally draining hearing about the struggles this city has faced over decades. The remainder of my day was spent buying last minute souvenirs and writing postcards for my nearest and dearest and then I relaxed at the Hotel pool and went for a swim and sauna. After I had dried off, I had a cheeky cocktail or two in the Hotel’s Piano Lounge and then hit the town for another scrumptious dinner. What a way to end my holiday!

Hotel(Some photos of the Hotel Piano Lounge and Terrace)

To conclude reader, I would like to share a quote with you that perfectly sums up my brief time in this wonderful city

Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” – David Bowie

Postcards(Writing some Postcards to my nearest & dearest before going home)

Have you ever been to Berlin?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

AJ x

An Afternoon Stroll Along the Berlin Wall, Berlin, Blog, Travel

An Afternoon stroll along the Berlin Wall

After a morning exploring the wonders of Mitte, I took the bus to the East Side Gallery. Before I travelled to Berlin, I was so excited to visit this segment of the Berlin Wall, and it did not disappoint.

feet

I got off the bus at Ostbahnhof  and it was just a few minutes walk away. The 1316m piece of the wall displays 105 paintings. It is perhaps the longest-lasting and largest open air gallery in the world, having been founded in 1990.

4wall(Segments of the Berlin Wall)

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and divided the city into two sections for nearly 30 years. I visited Tränenpalast and Checkpoint Charlie on my final day in Berlin so I will share more in my third and final blog post.

Walljumpcv
(Memorial sections of the wall dedicated to escapees)

Sadly, a sizeable amount of the wall has been vandalised and eroded but it does not take away from the messages of love and peace they are trying to convey and restoration is always ongoing. It is such a vibrant exhibition and costs absolutely nothing to experience this man made wonder of the world.

Below are three of my favourite paintings from the gallery.

quote.jpg(My favourite quote from the Berlin Wall)
Famous Wal
(The Famous Fraternal Kiss)
windows(Windows of the World)

Luckily managing to beat most of the rain on my first day, I was particularly relived I did as much walking as I did (approx. 8 miles) as when I opened my curtains on Day 2, it was heavy rain. I can’t wait to share my final instalment of my trip with you soon!

 

AJ x

A Morning Meandering Through Mitte, Berlin, Blog, Travel

A Morning Meandering Through Mitte

Reader, I have not been abroad in 18 months thanks to a demanding work schedule. As soon as I left my job, it was time to start booking! Berlin has always been on my bucket list so naturally it’s where I had to go first. So here is the first of a few blogposts about my time in Berlin.

Weather.jpg(Berlin’s Wettest July on Record!)

So the weather was not on my side during my trip according to the forecast. However it wasn’t going to dampen my spirits. Luckily on Tuesday there was enough dry(ish) weather to explore the city by foot.

I started my day at Breitscheidplatz, where my hotel was based. It is the main square of West Berlin and is full of shops, a plethora of smells and chatter from the endless streams of restaurants and coffee shops. The atmosphere was electric at all times of the day. I explored the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church. What a beautiful building which was severely damaged during World War II and the original spire has been left as a memorial to the destruction the city faced during the war. It is dubbed ‘The Hollow Tooth’ by Berliners.

Breakfast(Left: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.  Top Right: Breakfast.  Bottom Right: Bullet and schrapnel damage on the church exterior)

Next it was off east to a cluster of the most popular sites in the city within minutes of each other. I started off at the Reichstag building and then down to the Brandenburg Gate and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was particularly sad at the disrespect some tourists groups had jumping off the blocks and posing for photographs.

However a great secret throughout the city are the ‘Stolpersteinor ‘Stumbling Blocks’ which are small 4 inch brass plates with the names and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination and persecution. They are placed on the pavement by the individuals last known address or workplace before they fell victim to the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

ReichBranHol.jpg(Left: Reichstag Building.  Top Right: Brandenburg Gate.
Bottom Right: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe)

I started meandering through the streets, looking for St Hedwig’s Cathedral and ended up stumbling upon Gendarmenmarkt and the beautiful churches in the square: The Französischer Dom, Neue Kirche and The Konzerthaus.  Around this part of town, it is so easy to get distracted by the beautiful architecture!

ChurchesConcert(Left: Französischer Dom.  Top Right: Konzerthaus.  Bottom Right: St. Hedwig’s Cathedral)

Having finally found St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, I made my way to Museum Island to explore the Berliner Dom. I have seen some incredible feats of design on my travels and I have to say this is one of the most beautiful. If you get the train from Alexanderplatz to Friedrichstrasse, as I did getting the train from the airport, you get a spectacular view of this cathedral as a nice introduction to the city.

Berlin Dom

(Berliner Dom with the TV Tower in the background)

Heavily damaged during World War II, it has undergone a painstaking restoration, finally the Wedding Church and Baptistery were opened in 1980 with the nave finally opening in 1993, which was televised nationwide.

Dom.jpg(Top Left: The alter.  Bottom Left: The Organ.
Top Right: The dome.  Bottom Right: The Baptistery & Wedding Church)

As well as exploring the beautiful interior, I climbed up to the top of the dome. Reader, I am absolutely terrified of heights! But I climbed all 270 steps to the top and saw the most incredible view of the city. If was definitely a big accomplishment for myself and I am so glad that I took a photo, albeit with a very shaky hand to prove that I did it!

View from Dom(View from the Top of the Dome)

After a lovely morning, it was time to have a spot of lunch and head to my next adventure. I can’t wait to tell you where I wandered off to.

AJ x

Blog, Eden Mill Gin Tour, Hometown Tourist

Eden Mill Gin Tour

Reader, I am lucky enough to have the not-so-secret of Eden Mill just a short 20 minute bus ride away from where I live. So, I naturally had to take an afternoon to visit.

This company which was founded just a few years ago is Scotland’s first single site distillery and brewery, making gin, whisky and beer. This building is steeped in history and perfect for this up-and-coming brand to settle its roots. So much so, that later this year it is moving to a different sector of this former paper mill to cater to its growing thirsty clientele.

Title(Taken at the entrance)

For just £10 you get to have an hour long tour around the distillery and get an in sight of not only the brand, the building, but also the chemistry of Gin itself and history of the Gin industry in Scotland. Oh, and of course some lovely samples!

1stgin(Golf Gin 2016 and Tonic to start us off on our tour)

We were lucky enough to visit the large copper stills that are used in the distilling process and were shown around the bottling and packaging area to get the full experience from science to glass. Sadly we were not allowed to take photographs at the stills as they were being used and as a result, there was a high content of pure alcohol in there air.

Bar
(The Briefing Room)

At the end of the tour, we were sat down to a tasting session trying 3 of the distillery’s core range: Love Gin, Oak Gin and Hop Gin. We were advised to sip the gin neat prior to adding the reccommended mixer and garnish.

Tasting(Gin Tasting Selection)

Love Gin, is light and floral, with notes of rose and hibiscus . Love Gin was originally limited edition in 2016 but became part of the core range due to the exceptionally high demand amongst gin fans and is still their best seller, outselling their other gins combined 3 to 1 and can now be found at most supermarkets. This was recommended to be served with raspberries and lemonade.

Oak Gin is stored in Bourbon barrels giving it a unique dark caramel, vanilla and spice flavour and was advised to be served with a wedge of orange and Ginger Beer.

Hop Gin is a whopping 46% abv and is blended with Australian Galaxy Hops, giving is a malty flavour with a hint of apricot. This was advised to be drank neat with chili. Never in my wildest dreams would I think Gin and chili would go together! But it went down a treat.

A pleasant afternoon out learning about one of my favourite spirits and Eden Mill is now a cupboard regular in my house. I didn’t want to spoil you with every detail of the tour, you’ll just have to visit yourself!

 

AJ x