podcasts for any mood

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^^because podcast listening is an excellent way to spend a plane journey^^

i’ve chatted about podcasts over here before, but scrolling through the app on my phone today, i noticed i had quite a few new ones that i haven’t mentioned yet so it was worth writing a new post on them.

gosh i enjoy podcasts. they are the best way to while away time walking somewhere, cooking, cleaning, folding laundry or when you’re lying in bed unable to sleep. there’s something about listening to human voices that interests and soothes me at the same time.

here are five new picks depending on how you’re feeling..

when you need a new book to read:
the concept of this podcast sounds like fun for the participants but kind of boring for the listeners, but i assure you it isn’t at all. guests share books they loved and hated and then move on to recommendations. i have loved every episode so far, but my favourites were probably meredith and osheta – for their warmth and enthusiasm more than preference in books. it will make you want to head to the library immediately!

when you feel like some self improvement:
i really adored gretchen rubin’s the happiness project (and just checked better than before out of the library!) so no surprise i’m enjoying her podcast. she chats to her sister (and occasionally her super cute, very articulate 17 year old Eliza) about ways to boost your happiness and quality of life. i found the episodes about tendencies especially interesting, and have figured out i’m an obliger. entertaining and inspiring.

when you want a little girl power:
Lena dunham’s short series women of the hour was really enjoyable for me. while the advice segments are way too short to be satisfying, the personal testimonies from some very cool ladies and lena herself were interesting and mind opening. and they’re all so friendly and supportive of each other’s work! very cool indeed.

when you’re after a twisting tale:
the modern love podcast features a modern love column from the new york times being read aloud by an actor, then a short interview which follows up with the writer of the column. these columns are about love but they kind of remind me of a roald dahl short story in that there’s always a catch, or a twist. lovely to listen to thanks to the skilled narration and also intriguing to hear the follow up.

when you’d like to hear an interview:
in the twisting circularity of media these days, i initially downloaded this podcast after reading this article, which i’m pretty sure i came upon by way of a blog links post, so – thanks internet, is what i’m saying. i’ve enjoyed listening to a handful of episodes, the one about talking about sex with teenage girls, maggie smith and the creators of spotlight and the big short in particular – really well reasoned, interesting interviews. terry is a lovely interviewer (as are the others on the show) and i appreciate the depth and breadth of what they talk about – for something so blindingly obvious, interviews can be so good or (often) so bad. these are in the former category.

let me know if you try any of these! and of course, tell me what you’re loving. back soon!

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happiness & heroines

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^^the only thing this opposite-of-a-hoarder collects^^
if you know me in real life, this post will come as no surprise to you – i looooove period dramas. in fact, #1 on my bucket list is to be an extra in a period drama. starring in one is just a little too unrealistic, you know? and if there’s one thing i appreciate, it’s an achievable to do list ;)
If i somehow got access to a time machine, Regency era London would be my first stop. but since time machines still belong to the realm of science fiction (a genre i’m much less partial to, by the way), i escape to this world via the page and the screen.
i’ve been on quite the historical classic bender recently – I read a couple of Heyer’s, Northanger Abbey and North and South, so i thought i’d write a post about my favourite places to get my fix:

 

books:

Georgette Heyer
my favourite author of all time. My grandma introduced me to her books when I was 13 and ever since then I’ve read every book of hers I could get my hands on. i just love their impulsive heroines, dashing heroes, hilarious characters dialogue, exciting plots and of course the perfect romantic endings. why none of her books have been turned into films or mini series is such a mystery to me!
my favourites: arabella, these old shades, devil’s cub, regency buck and the black moth.
Jane Austen
i’m a little slack in that i’ve only read pride and prejudice and northanger abbey (I know, i know) but her film adaptions are so great!! sense and sensibility is currently on my bedside table so i’m excited to let you all know my verdict.
Elizabeth Gaskell
i just read North and South but haven’t made it to the rest of hers yet – but apparently wives and daughters and cranford are both excellent!

 

films/mini series:

Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman – oh my goodness Rickman is INCREDIBLE in his portrayal of Colonel Brandon. This film has such an amazing cast and I could watch it over and over.
Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth – the definitive pride and prejudice adaption. colin firth and jennifer ehle are perfection as these characters.
Northanger Abbey with JJ Feild – the book drags in places so i reckon the film does a better job of advancing the story along, and Feild makes a very charismatic Tilney. love it!
Emma with Romola Garai – the best emma adaption! Garai is a sparkling Emma.

 

adaptions:

the Lizzie Bennet Diaries – haha you knew this was coming. so good!
Emma Approved – also fantastic – the leads have incredible chemistry and I’ve always had a soft spot for Knightley, who is portrayed impeccably.
From Prada to Nada – great fun, a lot less trashy than it may appear!
Clueless – again very true to the novel and with gorgeous leads.
and last but not least..
Austenland – i actually enjoyed this so much! if only austenland actually existed … you know i would totally visit.

catlins calling

i’m in wanaka at the moment, which is definitely rates very highly in the nz pretty places list, but i wanted to backtrack to a day trip i took in the midst of exams with my very dear clara and jess.
we all had a significant break between exams which we wanted to exploit to do some adventuring, and the catlins topped our little bucket list.
a quick geographical representation of where all these towns i talk about situate themselves in nz:

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^^going anticlockwise, we have Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Invercargill and Wanaka^^

the catlins, of course, are that picture the very lowest on the map, and are a drive down the east coast from dunedin.

our top picks to see were:

the purakaunui falls

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nugget point + lighthouse

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the mclean falls

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and we were more than content to allow for any other serendipitous occurrences on our way, which included a sheep traffic jam (only in NZ), a visit to a kitsch café with an alarming amount of frog figurines, a donkey sighting, teapot land (oh gosh) and two more waterfalls.

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we sure packed a lot into one day!

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precious podcasts

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^^^ (wishing my surroundings were this scenic every time i listened to podcasts! on a ferry in the croatian islands) ^^^

i’m sure i’ve mentioned now and then that i enjoy listening to podcasts. the thing with podcasts, i find, is that recommendations are essential in order to find them! with a song or a band, you can decide in less than 30 seconds whether you like them, but i find i need to listen to at least one or two whole podcasts to ascertain whether i want to keep listening, which is fairly time consuming, so recommendations are key!
a cup of jo has a good post (which has over 200 comments on it recommending more!) and i’m sure plenty of other blogs do too, but i thought i’d throw my 2 cents in as well.

the first podcast i ever listened to was the Hamish and Andy podcast. just picture year 10 anna, with her 2nd generation ipod nano! i think i listened to them in bed at night and i’d have a terrible time trying to muffle my laughter with the rest of the family asleep.

i then moved on to listening to the joy the baker podcast religiously. i used to catch the bus to speech lessons and home from work in year 11 and 12 so joy and tracy’s friendly chats in my ear were my saving grace on boring bus rides.

first year of university, I listened to les femmes, toute une histoire to improve my french listening, often while playing solitaire on my laptop (such a good combo haha!) molly and matthew’s spilled milk was also a good time – american junk food seemed so exotically artificial.

this year i’ve discovered many more which bring me such joy to listen to.
Here are the podcasts i regularly listen to:

limetown
– i linked to this one in my last post, but let’s just chat about it a bit more. the story of how a whole town vanished ten years ago. only two episodes have been released so far of a 7 part series. it’s fictional but is presented as real, with interviews, news reports, ‘recordings’ etc. it’s creepy! but so gripping and i’m hanging out for the next installment!
start with: episode 1

freakonomics
– started listening to this in order to complete assignments for my behavioural eco paper, and kept listening because they were such a great time! they are suuuper light on the economics jargon and theory and much more about simply interesting topics and phenomena of human life, that economics can relate to (spoiler alert: everything) so you definitely don’t need a background in eco to listen. however, if you do have such a background (like i do, i mean those 9 eco papers and the >$6000 they cost me has to count for something) it is quite fun to recognise names and concepts and feel smart haha.
start with: when willpower isn’t enough

this american life
– this podcast has a theme each week which the 3 stories all relate to, in interesting ways. i don’t listen to this nearly as much as i should, because the >1 hour long episodes seem like such a commitment when i’m scrolling through my podcast app. but i’m a real donkey because every time i do, i’m so glad i did because i get tons out of it, learn lots and enjoy myself lots. so this description is really just a note to self!
start with: the most recent (you can’t download past episodes without paying, so just start subscribing and you’ll get a new one each week).

the longest shortest time
– one glance at my ‘lovely blogs’ page will tell you all you need to know about my love of lifestyle/family blogs a.k.a i have a lot of interest in kids and parenting for someone who is verrrry far away from that stage herself! i quite like this podcast which is about parenting and kids but raises some interesting points and issues that i hadn’t necessarily considered before. pick wisely, and they’re a great time.
start with: accidental gay parents 1& 2 (everyone should listen to this!)

a history of the world in 100 objects
– i recently started listening to this and i love it! i think my grandparents have the book so i can’t wait to check it out when i’m next at the farm. the episodes are only 15 mins ish long and each focuses on an object from history. listening chronologically you start with something from the stone age and end up in the 21st century! i’m up to number 8 (10,000 years BC ish) so clearly have tons to go haha but i’m really, really loving them. i feel like my knowledge of ancient history (well, anything pre 1000 AD really) is pretty patchy and these are lovely digestible installments of it. Neil Macgregor, who is the curator of the British museum, narrates them and he has a lovely british accent that is very soothing to listen to. i like listening to these when i’m starting to get ready for bed as 15 mins is a good amount of time to get things organised for the morning, brush my teeth, put pjs on etc, and helps to wind down while avoiding to the demon blue light of my phone screen!
start with: the 1st one of course! mummy of hornedjitef.

the biggest story in the world
– global warming! more british accents! this podcast follows the outgoing editor of The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and his attempts to bring attention to and advocate for climate change measures. super interesting and i felt like i learned a lot listening to it.
start with: episode one – it’s a chronological series.

awesome etiquette
– oh this is cute! the lovely Lizzie Post and Dan Post Senning from the Emily Post institute chat about all things etiquette. they are cousins and have the nicest rapport because of this. they answer around 4 listener questions each episode which i love. it’s fun listening to the question and guessing what their response is going to be! and now in my daily life i’m always trying to scout out a new etiquette situation so i can email them a question and have it answered hahaha. i’ll be sure to link to it if/when i do!
start with: ooh, that’s a tough one! the episodes leading up to dan’s wedding are fun.

serial
– haha, lucky last! i’m SURE you will have heard of this if not listened to it already, but what kind of podcast list would this be without it? i found it so gripping, and listened to it much later so didn’t have to wait a week between each episode. i could even run listening to it which is a big deal for me! very interesting hearing about all the machinations of prosecution, and i still feel very mistrustful of Jay haha.
start with: episode 1

fascinating foreign films

so the foreign film festival is always a big deal in my household, and i usually manage to toddle along to at least one. this year, however, i surpassed myself and went to 4! (2 of which i didn’t pay for, but still!)

i think what stops people from going to these films is that they can be a bit hit and miss, but i enjoyed all my films enormously, in quite different ways.

i put the trailers with each one, because i personally adore watching trailers and can idle away a good hour watching them on youtube. even films that i know full well i wouldn’t go to, i still heartily enjoy the trailer, so i hope they amuse you!

our little sister
we watched this in dunedin’s beautiful regent theatre, such a treat! this was just lovely. the story of three sisters and how they take in their half sister. visually stunning, a very sweet, gentle film. i loved the inclusion of japanese culture, rituals, food, traditional houses and plenty of stunning scenery: it was one of those films that really immersed you in a country- it felt very ‘japanese’. it’s definitely put japan on my travel list – such an interesting country!

go if: you feel like spending two hours in japan, or you have sisters!

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this was a freebie, and to be honest i don’t know if i’d recommend you go if you’re paying for it! there were definitely some funny bits though: a slow moving story of a gym and the owner, one of the trainers and a pretty messed up client – there was some super cringe inducing humour.

go if: super awkward humour is your thing

city of gold
this was gorgeous! a documentary about Jonathan Gold, an LA times food critic. he writes these lyrical reviews of tiny, predominantly ethnic restaurants all over Los Angeles and it showed him dining at his favourites, the stories of the proprietors and about him and his family. don’t go hungry! this was very sweet and touching and he seems like the most marvellous and truly empathetic man. LA has never been a city really on my travel radar but this film changed that! it seems like a fascinating city with all the different concentrated populations of all sorts of people and of course, incredibly diverse variety of food!

go if: you are at all interested in writing or food

saint laurent
this screened in the isaac theatre royal, which i was very excited about as it was the first time i’d been in there since it had been restored after the earthquake, and they did such a good job – it really is a stunning theatre! the actor who played (young) Yves was incredible – i believed him completely. a masterful portrayal of a troubled individual, with plenty of incredible clothes to stun you. plenty of nudity, alcohol and drugs so it definitely merited its R16 rating. I walked out of the theatre feeling quite overwhelmed but in a good way – i think it would be impossible to be unmoved by it.

go if: you like fashion, france or superb acting

bonus: trainwreck!
ok, clearly not an arts festival film haha but i went to it in the break and was so impressed by it! i went in having seen the very funny trailer, and it was very funny, but it also had more depth that i wasn’t expecting. the male lead was so sweet, amy was hilarious and her family dynamic was really touching. the frequent cameos of LeBron James were also great! highly, highly recommend.

go if: crying with laughter sounds appealing

ps i’m really proud of my embedding haha! how pro am i?? just call me lisbeth salander ;)

off we go! wanaka edition

hi gals and pals, welcome to the new series on blooming anna, in which i document the time i travel somewhere cool (a rare occurrence, so i thought i’d better make the most of it ;)

so i don’t know if spending this (and every) summer in wanaka qualifies as travel, but this my blog and i make the rules! #hardcore haha but anyway, i’m going to shamelessly milk it for content at any rate.

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for those of you who haven’t been to wanaka (poor babies), it is a town in the Central Lakes region in the South Island of New Zealand, which is centred around the stunning Lake Wanaka. what’s more, it boasts stunning mountains and two ski fields nearby.

it is my favourite place in the whole entire world and i am so very lucky that my grandparents let us stay in their holiday house there. seeing as we moved six times over the course of my childhood (my dad was in the air force), it was a constant for me, and i just couldn’t imagine summer without wanaka – the two are intertwined in my mind.

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wanaka does get it’s fair share of tourists over the summer and winter months, but it has maintained the small town, friendly, community feel. it’s neighbour Queenstown is similar in terms of scenery and landscape, but i much prefer the feel of wanaka – Qtown has a commercial feel due to the much larger volumes of tour groups and buses…. then again the nightlife there is fantastic, so it’s a tossup!

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^^the mighty clutha – not photoshopped – the water IS that blue^^
here are some of my favourite things to eat and do in beautiful wanaka:

eating and drinking:

The Federal Diner
This is a terribly groovy cafe on one of wanaka’s main streets. they make beautiful coffee with yummy emporio beans, fantastic breakfast and lunch food, and their ‘world famous in wanaka’ scones, of which you can choose cheese or date. (date all the way!!)
My favourite dish = rock it salad – rocket leaves, nectarine, toasted almonds, goats cheese, prosciutto and balsamic dressing. food of the gods! and a tulip flat white is essential.

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Urban Grind
this is also super central – not hard to do seeing as there’s like 4 streets of shops in wanaka. anyway, i love coming to urban grind for coffee! the man who started it up reportedly couldn’t find a coffee in town he rated, so he decided to make his own cafe! while service isn’t always consistent, the coffee is good, the hot chocolates are served with a whittakers sante bar (amazing!) and the smoothies are amazing.
favourite = tulip flat white and an orange sticky bun (pricy, but delish).

Red Star Burgers
red star burgers make the most monster, gourmet burgers ever! step aside velvet burger and burger fuel, these are truly enormous. take away and eat on the shores of the lake.
favourite = BBQ beef with fresh pineapple – and a side of their scrumptious kumara chips to share (you won’t need them, but you’ll want them!)

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Francesca’s Italian Kitchen
This is a fairly new addition to the wanaka scene for the old guard like me ;) but speedily became one of the favourites! They make incredible pizza, pasta and antipasto and the restaurant itself is beautiful. it is very hard to stop at one of their ultimate gin and tonics if you are a g&t gal like me!
Favourite dish = any! the mushroom pizza or the pear and blue cheese are both divine.

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activities:

paradiso cinema
have you ever wanted the atmosphere and large screen of a cinema, with the snuggly couch and warm cookies of your home? paradiso is for you! a veritable institution in wanaka, which boasts comfy old sofas for seats, an intermission at half time for freshly baked, bigger than your head cookies, and more! a holiday to wanaka is incomplete without a visit to paradiso – we went last night to Exodus and i, as always, loved it.
favourite thing = free water and warm chocolate chip cookies- yum!

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Stand up paddleboarding
i only did this for the first time the other day, and it is fantastic! when you fancy yourself a bit of a local, it can hold you back from doing ‘touristy’ activities which was such a mistake in this case. paddle boarding is brilliant! and i’m not just saying that because i was surprisingly good at it for someone with generally appalling balance. you stand up on these huge surfboard shaped boards, with one paddle that you manoeuvre yourself around with. great fun, and a nice alternative to kayaking.

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horse trekking
horse trekking isn’t something i do all the time in wanaka, because it is expensive, but it is super super fun and enjoyable if you like that kind of thing! the landscape and countryside you ride through is breathtaking.
i went through a deeply embarrassing horse phase from the ages of 5 – 10 in which i read saddle club and other such literature religiously, nibbled the field at school with my fellow horse enthusiasts and groomed the arms of the sofa with the grooming kit my parents friends kindly gifted me. oh man. my family took pity on me and i was given horse treks for christmas about 3 years in a row, which i just adored. don’t worry, they’re still fun even when you’re not a colour coordinated 9 year old (i guess..;)

ps- there really is no bad time to visit- in summer swimming and boating on the lake, in autumn walks amongst the spectacular tawny poplars, in winter amazing skiing/snowboarding….

In Arrowtown!
^^autumnal bliss^^

off we go! – Auckland edition

hi gals and pals, welcome to the new series on blooming anna, in which i document the time i travel somewhere cool (a rare occurrence, so i thought i’d better make the most of it ;)

la raison d’être of my trip to the mighty AKL was to go to the rolling stones concert with my brother. he got tickets for his birthday last year, and after exhausting about 5 different options, finally got down the list to me…first choice, i was not ;)

but in all seriousness, it was truly so kind of him to take me, and we had a marvellous time. they’re not my favourite band, but i think you would have to be a. deaf b. blind or c. both not to enjoy them – they were truly incredible, absolute showmen. and since they are quite old now it is so clear that they aren’t touring and continuing to make this amazing music for money or fame or whatever, it’s for the love of it and each other. and holy moly does mick jagger ooze charisma, i fell a little bit in love with him with each song.

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i especially enjoyed ronnie’s ciggy he held between his fingers while strumming, we counted about five of them throughout the concert! as i said to will, i can’t play the guitar let alone play in front of over 30,000 people while holding a burning object between my fingers, it surely takes a LOT of skill. mad respect over here ;)
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ps – did i mention we were almost the youngest people there? sea of grey, kids ;)

as for the rest of the weekend in auckland-

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we breakfasted at Domain & Ayr in Parnell on saturday, and just loved it. it was the product of a cheeky iPhone google “best cafes auckland” and came up fifth on one list. it had a very cool vibe, beautiful food and coffee, and i think was quite fair trade/organic friendly. they also offered rice milk along with soy for coffee, which is quite rare in NZ.
i had granola with vanilla bean buffalo yogurt and a rhubarb lavender compote – to die for! and a yummy flat white of course:

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will had huevos rancheros, which he highly recommended.

we then walked to newmarket and i had a look in a few designer shops. we also went into smith and caugheys (the big department store) and i was so unimpressed with the size- very puny compared to ballantynes in christchurch!! only later walking down queen st did i realise it wasn’t the main branch haha. smooth anna.

the weather wasn’t all that nice on saturday – cloudy and rainy but still quite warm (which i’m told is typical auckland weather). so we decided to give the art gallery a visit, and had the loveliest time! i especially enjoyed the chartwell collection which is contemporary art – i know a lot of people regard that stuff as a bit of a yarn (hey, here’s a splodge of paint on a canvas, one hundred k please) but i really enjoy a lot of it – when it’s good, it’s really really good! ugh, take me to MoMA in nyc already!!

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another really cool thing was the cubic structural evolution project, by the artist olafur eliasson. it’s quite simple but such a cool concept. thousands of ivory white lego bricks are heaped on a long table, and the visitors to the gallery are invited to build towers with it. what emerges is a cityscape of all these different towers, growing from the rubble. no two projects will be alike, due to the different people who make it. it made me think of chch and all the new growth and building after the earthquake, which was probably why it resonated with me so much. we sat and built our own wee constructions for about half an hour – here’s hoping more people will come along and build on them and make them as tall as the others :)

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^^my masterpiece – i felt like it has temple run vibes, no?
on sunday we had stunning sunny weather so we took the bus to mission bay. what a gorgeous beach! there was this guy just starting up a beach tennis business and he invited us to play for free since he wanted to attract paying customers! it was so fun, i just wore my bikini with a singlet top over it and we had a lot of fun jumping and diving trying to get the ball over the net!

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we had a scrummy breakfast in mission bay cafe – i neglected to get a photo but it was great! and clearly a popular spot.

besides that just sat and sunbathed and had the odd swim, and read my book – cloud atlas by david mitchell. not 100% sure how i feel about it at this stage … watch this space!

upon getting back to the central city in the afternoon, we had an early dinner/late lunch of gourmet hot dogs from dogmatic. omg they were so good! i’m a total sucker for a good hot dog (or even an average one, not fussy haha), and these were supreme! i particularly enjoyed the BBB which was a beef sausage, bacon, caramelised onions and bbq sauce, but the classic american and chilli dog (not pictured) were beaut too (will had two, i’m not that greedy!!)

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i got to practise my chinese with the server too, and he was very kind about it – how intelligible i was, i suspect, is another story..

the last thing we did, before hopping back on the plane, was to visit the cloud on the waterfront. this was controversially built for the 2011 rugby world cup. the name comes from the Maori name for new zealand, Aotearoa, meaning land of the long white cloud.
we thought it was pretty groovy in the flesh, and so had to take a good photo for insta ;)

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hope you managed to get to the end of my rambles without dropping off! i’ll have a recipe for you next time – a gluten and dairy free dessert (i know, who even am i ;)

ps – this is zoomed in from the panorama – perfect timing right!!

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