Monday, April 7, 2014

What to see in England

Here's another traveling guide : 

This time we are going to explore my favorite places to see in England!

Highclere Castle

If you are a fan of the show Downton Abbey,
you would be enthused to see this location. 
Highclere Castle, in Highclere Park Newbury, 
is the film location of the ever so popular show.
They offer high tea, tours, and host an array of events.
We unfortunately were there in a filming period so we weren't able to see more
than the gate, but it will for sure be on our list for our next trek across the pond.


This was by far one of my favorite places in the country. 
We got to visit there on our first trek to the UK 3 years ago, 
and then again this last fall. 
The city is quaint, with white stone walls, a walkable downtown core,
and tons of history to boot.

Two must see's in the city are :

a.) The Roman Bath Museum - To learn about the history of the thermal baths

b.) A relaxing day at the multi-leveled Thermal Spa! (I recommend at least 2 hours!)


Check out a hockey night in one of the soccer capitals of the world!
Sounds silly, but catching a couple of these little home games really warmed my heart.
I also enjoyed the city for its vintage shopping, pub quiz nights at quaint old theatres,
and visiting the Manchester peoples history museum.


Home of the greatest band in the world...

Since they are my favorite band of all time,
seeing Liverpool was definitely on the top of my list of places to see.
We got to spend a day there the last time we were over, 
when we took a personal 3 hour tour of the Beatles sights, including :
Eleanor Rigby's grave, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and their childhood homes.

This time I was staying a cheap train ride away from the city,
so I was able to make two day trips over there. 

One of the best things to see as a Beatles nerd,
was the Beatles Story Experience down on the Albert Docks (pictured below).
It was totally worth the money, 
as it takes you on a journey through the Beatles history chronologically,
and has even recreated the Cavern Club as it was in their hay day. 

I spent a week of my trip in the little town of Warrington, England
where honestly there wasn't a ton going on... 
BUT I was able to find a awesome live drawing class, 
and a Michael Jackson tribute band.

However, just outside of Warrington were two great sights :

1. ) The Chesire Zoo

2.) Lewis Carroll's Birthplace

 Another famous children's author's birthplace 
is just outside of London in Buckinghamshire.

Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors,
and making my trek out to his hometown was a dream for me.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center,
is not only a beautiful recreation of the life of his work, and inspiration for budding young artists.
But it also contains the actual writing hut that Roald Dahl created his works in.
Set up exactly as he had it in life. 
A short walk away from the museum is Roald Dahl's gravesite, 
with a couple of exciting mementos for Dahl fans. 


Brighton is also just a short jaunt away by train from London, 
and was a great reprieve from the bustle of the big city.

I came for the Pier, but also enjoyed some lovely teashops, 
shopping for vintage in the lanes, and art exhibits scattered around the small city.

From Brighton I took a train trip to Poole, England.
Which much like the city of Warrington,
 doesn't have much going for it.
I asked a young cashier whilst there if there was anything I should check out in Poole,
and she actually laughed at me and said 
"Why would you come here on vacation?"

Well there reason I did
was because Poole is the home of the original LUSH handmade cosmetics store.
Which still stands in the original location on High Street.

Having worked at a Lush in Canada for 4 years in my late teens,
I have a deep love for the products and wanted to geek out at the mecca store.

This England location is a little different from the rest, 
as my Mom and I visited here while we were staying in Glasgow, Scotland.

Lindisfarne, which is also known as the Holy Island,
is located up off the Northeast coast of England.

 Many still live on this historic Celtic Christian island, 
but it is still a major destination to many tourists who come to see the ruins of the old monastery 
and castle that give the little town its historic value. 

Note : You can only cross over to it when the tides are out, 
and make sure you time your trip correctly 
or you may get caught stranded on the little island.

Have fun exploring, Travelers! 
xoxoxo etc...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Vancouver Cycle Chic

The website Vancouver is awesome 
just did a casting call for bikers in Vancouver
 to be part of their cycle chic film series this summer. 

Even though my application didn't make the cut, 
I am hoping to be part of their casting call for bike photo shoots
later this year :) 

Applying for this wonderful project made me really think about why 
I love biking so much in Vancouver. 
And because of that I would like to share the application that I sent to them, 
with all of you.

Here's what I sent :

Dear Awesome Vancouver Bike People,
   My name is Britt MacDuff, and I love to bike.
   I believe that the best way to see the beauty of this city is on the seat of a bicycle.

   I am a daily commuter along the 10th ave bike route, from my home in Mount Pleasant to my work at an independent toy store on the Drive called Dilly Dally. I'm also a lover of cycling along the bike paths of this gorgeous city on my forest green steed lovingly named Emerald. My adoration for my bike goes so far that I have even named my creative business "Emerald and Ginger" after "her" and my explorations around the city together.
   My favorite part of the summer is the bike culture in this city. I love biking down to every single showing of the movies on the grass at Stanley Park and being part of that mass of people biking home together along the seawall after dark, singing along to show tunes from the films we just communally watched together. I also enjoy taking part in events such as the Bike Rave, and Naked Bike Ride, where massive groups of people come out and take over car driven roads.
   I have recently traveled around the UK and Europe for 2 and half months and really gained an appreciation for my hometown and the lower mainland. Not only is it very bike-able city, but it has a great community with tons of things to do on any day of the week.
  I am constantly biking, creating, and finding the sweet hidden gems that  Vancouver has to offer.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
   Britt MacDuff

Check out to watch the videos 
that they have already made for the project!

Keep on rocking Vancouver :)

Love Britt

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm officially a Etsy business owner!

Today was a big day for me. 
Not only did I finally launch my Etsy store 
(after thinking about it for the last 3 years),
but I also made my first sale today!
 I couldn't be more tickled pink!

It's a small to start shop, but I couldn't be prouder of myself :

Check it out and share it,
if you like what you see :)

Love Britt

Monday, February 17, 2014

Things to see in Paris, France

 We only had two days in Paris
But really I felt like that was enough.

This was my second time in the city,
as I went first when I was 18 when traveling
through for a couple of days on my way to a pilgrimage
destination further south in France. 
At the time Paris was the only place in the world that I wanted to be.
I was obsessed.
And like any obsessed fresh out of high school teenage girl,
I saw the city through rose tinted glasses.
Paris was perfect.

Flash forward 9 years where I get to experience my "perfect" city again.
Although somehow it is not the same.
And I am left with that same familiar feeling that
you really can never go back.
Things won't be the same.
Because I am not the same.

That is not to say that I didn't have a great time.
Playing tour guide to my mom and sister,
who were first timers in the city of love,
was a great experience.
But this time I seemed to see a lot of the dirtier side of the city
which I somehow missed with the first time around.

Nevertheless here is my list of must-sees :
Things to see

- Museums -

 Musee d'orsay
Although the Louvre is probably the most world renowned art gallery
for its feature in the Da Vinci Code, and for housing the Mona Lisa.
In my opinion the Musee d'orsay (housed in a gorgeous old train station)
is a trillion times better.
All the rooms lead to the great hall (pictured above),
and it has just as many famous pieces of art work without the lineups.

It houses the Mona Lisa,
and the Da Vinci code was written about it.
Yada yada yada...
you should probably see it while you are in Paris.

- Cathedrals -

Notre Dame
 When I was 18,
one of our first stops in the city was the famed Notre Dame.
Of course this was a church trip so that shouldn't be very surprising,
but it was the first full on cathedral that I had ever been in so it meant a lot to me.
Saying that...
right after wards we went into the nearby
Saint Chapelle to check out the gorgeous stained glass,
and tile work.

Sacre Coeur
This gorgeous white cathedral
sits atop of a hillside with a gorgeous view below of the city.
What I didn't know before heading up here was that
there were buses and trams that would take you to the top
or you could just walk up the multitude of steps like we did :)

One word to the wise :
Just below this lovely gem is a more sketchy area of town
so make sure to watch your belongings.
Also watch out for scam artists who try to get you by tying
a couple of strings to your wrist and proceeding to make you a bracelet
and charge you for it.
They were there when I was 18 and they were still there 9 years later.
So they will probably be there waiting for you when you get there as well.

- Cafe's cafe's cafe's - 

For trying true Parisian 
Creme brulee, Nutella crepes, French onion soup...etc..

Things to see at least once

Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
I went up my first time in the city,
but decided to save the top for when I would return one day.
So this time I needed to hit the top.
It's extra to do so,
but the view is worth it :)
Arc De Triomphe 
This was our first thing we saw of the city,
as we walked up from the metro station.
And it no lie looked just like this.

Moulin Rouge and the red light district
It has nothing on the red light district in Amsterdam.
But the Moulin Rouge is always a classic must see once
(or in my case twice).
This is also in a bit of a sketchy neighborhood,
so just make sure to keep a head about yourself
 as you are can canning in the street.

 One big tip about traveling to Paris would be :

Try to learn at least a little French before heading there.
I know a bit from taking it in high school and then again in college,
but I still wish that I had brushed up before heading there.
This is a good tip for traveling anywhere where English is not the first language,
but especially in France, where the French get fed up with westerners constantly asking
 "Do you speak English?" 

Happy travels!
Love Britt

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Work of Art Birthday

 For the 27th celebration of my birth day,
I decided to throw a "Come as your favorite Work of Art" themed party :)

If you're not familiar with my tradition of having
a themed party every year please check out this post to get yourself educated :P

And now for the costumes my amazing friends came up with...

 Octavio and Cassandra as...
Puck and Titania!

 My darling sister Jessica as...
 A Mucha inspired goddess! (if you look closely you can
see that her tattoo is actually of the middle woman featured above) 

                                                            Jhayne (on the right) came as...
a piece of poetry!

"It's no use/Mother dear..."
by Sappho

It’s no use
Mother dear, I
can’t finish my
You may
blame Aphrodite
soft as she is
she has almost
killed me with
love for that boy

Shev on the left came as quotes from a bunch of her favorite songs.
And Wai - Lee came as...
 Snow White!

My friend Sean (featured here with his darling girlfriend Courtney) came as...
A Mark Rothko painting! (Which I thought was a very ingenious use of a sweater ;) )

Megan came as...
 A sheet of music!

My darling old room mate Terri,
also came as a piece of poetry that she loved!

Sarah came as....
A Banksy original!

 Crazy Erik went over board again and came as...
Rodin's "The Gates Of Hell" by melting little army figures 
to a mask which he painted and glued to his face!

Ryan came as a character from Edward Hopper's classic diner scene
"Nighthawks" (and even brought Popeye's cigarettes and a coffee mug with him!).

And his lovely girlfriend Azalea came as the main character of this short film.

 And of course, my partner Nate and I, were...
Klimts "The Kiss"! 
Which I got to see the original in Vienna last fall!

It was quite the amazing start to my 27th year on this earth.
And as you can tell,
I've got some pretty amazing friends to share it with ;)

I'd also like to thank this man 

For graciously allowing me to have my party at his house
and be the photographer of these amazing photos!
Thank you tenfold, Greg!

- Love Britt
xoxoxoxo etc...