May kicked off at the TBEX travel blogger conference in Lloret de Mar, Spain, a sunny seaside town in Costa Brava. I spent a few hours in Barcelona before flying back to London. Over the next few weeks, I had a few days of wandering around the city with my camera, to Borough Market, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden. I made blueberry custard pie and a delicious seared haddock with gazpacho salsa and tomato vinaigrette to share on the blog. I had a press pass to spent a few hours at the beautiful Chelsea Flower Show before it opened to the public. I went to Stoke Newington for the first time for a meeting with a group of creative, motivated etsy sellers. I also spent some time pulling together 120 actionable social media, blog and small business promotional ideas for makers. For my full time job, I boarded a plane over to Boston for an international education conference that saw some 11,000 people in attendence, saw Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Ashbrook and Shiza Shahid make inspiring speaches, made a lot of new connections, went to tons of sessions, receptions and evening events and had a few other adventures. Then on Friday I got on another plane up to Buffalo to spend a week at home which is where I am now! All in all, quite a busy month as usual.
Here’s a look back at May via Instagram:
1. TBEX in Lloret de Mar, Spain. This picture pretty much sums up downtown Lloret de Mar for me. There’s the highest concentration of hotels and clubs that I think I’ve ever seen in one place at one time, lots of drinking, tourists and palm trees. While the city itself wasn’t really for me, I found some beauty in the outskirts – the modernist cemetery, the gardens and seaside trails. (See posts 1, 2 & 3 for a lot more photos!)
2. Sunday afternoon in Lloret de Mar. One more from the fascinating town of Lloret de Mar. There’s a prominent older community there, mixed among the tourists hoards and the clubbers. I spotted this woman crossing the street with her palm branch on a Sunday afternoon in front of one of the many clubs that was closed at the time. It’s another shot that really sums up the atmosphere of this curious place for me.
3. Lavender in a crate. Lavender is one of my favourite plants, mainly for its relaxing scent. I spotted this crate full of bundles in Borough Market and was amused by the way the colours matched the green in my coat and my light purple converse.
4. Oakley Street homes, SW3. Our cat is named after Oakley Street because it’s the street that leads to Albert Bridge which is my favourite in London (he just didn’t look like an Albert…). It’s also part of my favourite running route and I love the grand homes of millionaires that line the edges.
5. Colourful steps at Monki. Wandering through Carnaby Street in Central London one afternoon, I was drawn into Monki – a shop I’ve never walked into before – by something in the window. At the back was this amazing rainbow staircase. I wasn’t the only one stopping for an Instagram shot either!
6. An Etsy night in Stoke Newington. I’ve met a lovely group of Etsy sellers who meet to chat about ways we can use our team to promote our products, share creative ideas and promote a community of makers and vintage sellers who are based in London. Earlier this month, we were invited up to Stoke Newington (a new experience for me) to the home of a fellow photographer who is part of the group for all of the above plus pizza, wine and macarons.
7. La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. I managed a few hours in Barcelona after the conference to catch up with Jorge’s brother and his family. We swung by La Sagrada Familia which I hadn’t seen on my first visit to the city. This is a shot from one side, though most of it is still under construction and will be for years to come.
8. Borough Market umbrellas. Just around the corner from London’s Borough Market, tons of colourful umbrellas hang above a courtyard outside of a restaurant. You can’t really pass by without taking a photo, so I did, of course.
9. A horse in The Circle. Not far from Borough Market, there’s a little area called The Circle. These blue building wrap around this horse statue in semi-circles. It was raining so I took this with my camera under my umbrella. I originally spotted a (much better) photo of the location on Instagram that I really loved and went specifically to have a look for that reason.
10. London mini photo cards. I’ve been accepted to do a small craft show with my cards and some prints on Halloween this year in London’s SE20 neighbourhood. Here’s a London set – mini notecards (3 x 3 inches) with some of my original prints. They’re in my Etsy shop here.
11. Blueberry custard pie. This pie is one of the most delicious recipes I’ve baked in a long time and I highly recommend. I think Jorge and I managed to down the whole thing in two days. With the custard filling, it’s definitely not your average blueberry pie.
12. St. Paul’s Cathedral. One of the first places I fell in love with London was a walk along the South Bank all the way from Westminster Bridge to Tate Modern. We did part of that walk the other day. The sky was bright blue, St. Paul’s Cathedral popping in white across the Thames.
13. A Borough Market vendor. While I was taking a photo of this massive pan of paella, the vendor looked up at me and cracked a smile. Friendly guy. It wasn’t quite lunch time or I may have tried some. Maybe next time!
14. Oakley, chillin’. Oakley has a scratching post but he prefers this leather chair which is right next to it. The chair is, of course, now completely destroyed. He also loves to perch on the arm at night like this and watch the shadows of passing cars and buses roll over the walls.
15. A night of popcorn tasting. The lovely folks at Tyrells sent me four sample bags of their new poshcorn to try: Sea Salted, Sweet & Salty, Lemon Cupcake and Coconut & Caramel. We ate all four bags while watching a movie. The Coconut & Caramel was pretty fantastic. Sea Salted and Sweet & Salty tied in second place and then the Lemon Cupcake which wasn’t really my thing.
16. An entrance to Regent’s Park. Loved this crown on the top of one of the gateway entrances to Regents Park near Baker Street. Jorge and I went for a wander through the park to catch the cherry blossoms before they burst into clumps of green summer leaves. We had a bright blue sky, a beautiful day for a walk.
17. Seared haddock and gazpacho salsa with tomato vinaigrette. One of my favourite recipes I’ve made in a long time, this one comes from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. It’s a great summer recipe, refreshing, light and healthy and definitely something I’ll be making again.
18. Oakley in a box. Wherever there’s a box in our flat, there’s a cat – doesn’t matter how big. Eventually, he decided to take a nap in this one and the sides broke off. Oops! He’s going to love it when we move later this year or early next year – plenty of boxes to play in then, no doubt.
19. London postcards. When I travel, I always like to try to capture a bit of the tourist culture through postcard stands out on the streets. I spotted these walking around Covent Garden really early one morning before they were put into place in the market hall.
20. 26 Grains in Neal’s Yard. There’s nothing all that interesting to visit in Neal’s Yard (well, to me anyway), but I always love to walk through it when I’m in Covent Garden because it’s just so colourful and different from the area on the main tourist trail.
21. James Street phone boxes. I was in Covent Garden while the market vendors were still setting up, before 8am, when the streets were still relatively clear of people. I managed to get a few photos without stray limbs and handbags cluttering up the background. This was one of my favourites (of course the real version shows the full phone boxes while Instagram cropped them out).
22. A Paul tea and a Chelsea Flower Show wristband. Paul is my go to for my daily morning tea. This was pretty early on the press day for the Chelsea Flower Show. There was no time for tea before my visit and it was raining on my walk to work so I was happy to settle in with a relaxing cuppa when I finally got to my desk.
23. A Chelsea Flower Show garden. I posted about 100 photos that I took at the Chelsea Flower Show, one of my favourite events to cover each year in London. This garden was my favourite. It’s called the Beauty of Islam garden, designed by Kemelia Bin Zaal. I loved the calligraphy poetry running along the wall, the white calming simplicity and mix of plants like jasmine, rosemary, cardamom, fig, citrus, olive and papyrus.
24. Kate Spade for Chelsea in Bloom. Every year, to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, London welcomes Chelsea in Bloom when many of the shops in the local area make an effort to bring flowers into their displays. Some make an extra effort. Kate Spade in Sloane Square always has an amazing display and this year’s flamingos were one of the best displays.
25. A thinking spot in Phoenix Garden. Near Covent Garden, the serene little Phoenix Garden is tucked away. It’s a community project, spotted with these lovely inscripted wooden benches, wild flowers and a big yellow mural by Stik along the back wall.
26. Sugarcane juice in Duke of York Square. When I was living in Colombia back in 2011, the family I was staying with owned a sugarcane plantation and factory where they did exactly what these guys were doing in Duke of York Square Saturday market on King’s Road – only on a much, much grander scale! Seeing this little press as part of the market brought back memories.
27. Free flowers from J Crew. During the Chelsea in Bloom celebrations, J Crew was giving out loads of these colourful bouquets for free in front of their Sloane Square shop – how cool is that?
28. A view from departures. The last weekend of the month, I found myself in the Heathrow departures lounge once again, this time headed for Boston for an international education conference called NAFSA which would go on through the full week. I spotted this huge plan (which I think is a 747?) out the window. I love to watch them take off!
29. A Memorial Day field of flags in Boston. The day I arrived in Boston, my room wasn’t quite ready to check in, so I left my bags and went for a walk to hit up the Memorial Day sales and spend some time enjoying Boston Common on a beautifully sunny day. These flags (some 37,000 of them) were set on a hill, which makes for a pretty impressive display when the wind whips through them.
30. 120 Actionable Social Media, Blog & Other Small Business Promotional Ideas for Makers. In my current 9-5 role as a Social Media Strategist and with 13 years of blogging and social media behind me, I’ve picked up a lot of great tips along the way that can help small businesses (and bloggers!) improve their online presence. This is an instant download planner available through my etsy shop with four actionable ideas for each day of June 2015. It focuses mainly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with a few LinkedIn, blogging and other ideas in the mix.
31. A quirky Bostonian. Like any big city, Boston has its fair share of quirky types and this guy definitely fit into that role pretty well. I was originally taking a photo of his amusing sign, but he insisted on being in the photo to show off his hat. I happily obliged. Then he wanted an answer to the question of who he should listen to – his wife or his part time girlfriend. I told him he should dress however makes him most happy.
32. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Mid-way through the week, our company put on a beautiful reception at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – a stunning location, and a good excuse as any to break out the wedding shoes (blue version / red heel version)!