Dear 2014, from Kate

Dear 2014,

I’ll keep this relatively short and sweet. You’ve been mixed. I think you’re the first year where I’ve been challenged to such extremes.

I have travelled far and wide; seen my old grandparents in Barbados, had the time of my life with friends and family in Brighton, Helsinki, Malta, Antwerp. I crave more than ever to have the chance to see the world and have exciting plans for next year. But you’ve forged memories which I will never forget.

On memories, you handed me to most difficult experience of my life when Steve died. I wasn’t sure how I’d get through it, and doubt I ever will. I’ve never lost a comrade so close before and I’ll be sure never to forget. There have been points this year where I’ve felt my most isolated. One of many in a big city – a little aimless and uncertain.

More positively however, I’ve never known myself quite like this before. Being self-aware is something I hold in high esteem and this year you have taught me I’m fitter, stronger and better than I’ve ever realised. Professionally, I’m getting there – my peers respect me and my work and, I actually enjoy getting up in the mornings! This has been a year of real discovery and for that I am grateful.

Next year I don’t ask for much. My only goals are based around my health and fitness – pursuing and pushing myself more. Other than that, give me good health and happiness, family and friends and that’s all I ask.

Thank you 2014 for shaping me, even if just in a small way, into the adult I’m slowly becoming.

And thank you – all of you who read, for giving me this small positive online haven to ramble and chat. Here’s a Happy New Year to you all.

from Kate

My Year in... Food

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for right? Food! It’s no secret that I love to eat out and I know this year I’ve tried my best to negotiate ‘affordable delicious’. It’s so easy to read blogs where people are all oysters and cash, but quite frankly, that’s not my life and I couldn’t afford to live like that!! So here’s my best of food this year – places I think we can all go and enjoy good quality, purse friendly treats. I’ve added in the links to any full posts just for you guys too.

I love trying out new places but as a creature of habit there are a few old faithful’s that I go back to time and time again. When I’m in Soho I’ve been known to go to Tuscanic at all times of day and night (in all states, the poor staff!). Proper Italian food made for people who just love bread, meat and cheese. Anything Street Feast is, as with many bloggers and foodies, my favourite outdoor eating venue –  The Power of Summer was one of my favourite evenings out in the summer and I’m so excited for Hawker House this winter. Moving North, Cobbles and Clay is perfect country food. Warm, comforting and healthy – like a big hug on a cold day. A little more upmarket, Social Eating House is my go to for a fancy dinner. It’s the kind of place you go to with your parents but, super cool and ‘trendy’. OLO in Helsinki was possibly my favourite dining experience of the year; I don’t think I’ve ever eaten food quite like it. Has anyone else ever eaten grated frozen salmon? My number one however, as we all should know by now, is The Advisory. These guys have blown me away with how excellent their food is. Getting to Hackney isn’t always the easiest but this place makes it so, so worth it. The staff are amazing, the food (they do more than burgers) is second to none and they make a bloody brilliant Whiskey Sour. I love it there and that’s all there is to say!

Now, that’s it for my round ups. It’s been overwhelming the amount of you getting in touch (in the best way) and you’ve armed me with lists on lists of amazing music and books, so thank you. It really  is appreciated and so great to chat to you. This blog has been quite the labour of love this last 12 months and I love getting to know you better and having new friends from across the world!
Let’s hope 2015 brings as much good stuff and, keep in touch!

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

My Year in... Books

The second of my 2014 ‘best of’ is books. I’ve always been a reader but I must say ever since moving last March, and not having to commute anymore, I’ve struggled more and more with finding the time to read. At night I’m too busy prepping food, blog up keep, cleaning, washing (again moan moan moan about the perils of adulthood!) for an hours reading. When I do finally slip into bed I’m asleep within 10 minutes if I do try and read a few pages!

But I’ve persevered and made time, because for me reading is one of life’s simple pleasures and not something we should take for granted. There are three books I’ve read this year that have really stood out. Let me know what you thought of any if you’ve read them and send me recommendations for what I should be reading in the New Year! Thank you all of you that got in touch on twitter after the last post – I’ve got lists of lists of stuff I need to be listening too!
Books
The Picture of Dorian Gray
A classic! I try and read a handful of ‘classic’ novels every year. You know those books that are always on the ‘must read in your life’ lists. Dorian Gray is probably something you’ve all read – I see you all as knowledgeable with a thirst for literature! One of the easier Oscar Wilde’s I must say but it incredible apt in terms of modern society. Narcissism, lies and sex – perfectly reflects the culture of today.

Stoner
Stoner is a beautiful novel that I read whilst visiting my grandparents in Barbados early in the year. I’d had it on my shelf for some months and I’m not sure what put me off initially, but I couldn’t recommend it more – it could even be my favourite book of 2014. Stoner was actually published over 50 years ago but had somewhat of a resurgence in 2013. It is the story of an academic whose life is full of small triumphs and bitter disappointments; the novel is a tale of the normal. Nothing grand, nothing out of the ordinary. Just normality at its core. It brings small smiles and also epic tears in its muted excellence. No doubt, after its success in 2013, it’ll regularly be on 3 for 2 offers in the New Year so do pick up a copy where you can.

The Circle
This one for all of you. If you’re on this blog, I suspect you speak Internet. This book is a look into a world where the Internet is dominated by ‘The Circle’ – you can stream, pay, socialise, everything through The Circle. Mae, the protagonist, is a new worker and the book is a tale of her life at The Circle. A move from naivety, suspicion and eventually surrendering to The Circle’s supremacy. Honestly, this book gave me conspiracy dreams! It’s actually made me so much more aware of my online presence and the steer toward Internet dominance – genuinely terrifying.

Next, let’s chat food.

My Year in... Music

I figured the end of the year is all about lists - favourites, best of, what’s next… we all know here at Coffee Sugar Lemonade I’m never short of words, so I’ve decided to do a few round ups for you. I thought long and hard about three categories that mean a lot to me and settled on music, books and food.

These are going to be some of the things I’ve loved this year. I’m looking for a little bit of a chat on it all really – tweet me or email me or comment if you read any of the round ups and think you might have something I can try out next year. A smashing read? New band or festival? Let me know as I’d really love to hear!

I’m starting with music because it is easily my favourite thing of the three. Shock horror it isn’t food I know but one can’t eat out every day, but you can listen to music every day… and I do. Be it obnoxiously loud in my flat or in the background as a drift off to sleep, music really is my ‘élan vital’. I can’t think of a person, a time or emotion that I don’t automatically associate with certain songs. The Strokes define revision, Michael Jackson will always remind me of my childhood and Bon Iver was my sound track to love and heartbreak. My goal when I was thinking about these posts was to have just one person/band in each category but that proved too difficult (massive fail)! So here it is for you – my year in music, by Kate Maxwell.

Untitled

Most anticipated
From being young and realising what kind of music I liked, new music has always been really important to me. I’m not at all bothered about being ahead of the curve but I am always on the lookout for exciting new acts. If I’d written this post 6 weeks ago you might not have heard of one of the acts but, he’s just won a Brit award and is on the BBC sound of 2015 long list – James Bay. I’ve been a fan for quite a while now, his track was used during the Burberry S/S14 shows last winter and I’m expecting big things from him next year – I saw him a few weeks ago and at the iTunes Festival in September, so have a read of the review if you want to know more. The other act I’m excited to see grow is Prides; their songs are powerful and exuberant, they ooze ‘stylish pop-synth’. Although the ‘synth’ aspect is secondary to the overarching pop power. Keep your eyes peeled and let me know who you’re looking out for next year.

Best live
I’ve been to so many gigs and festivals this year I’ve lost count! This was the year I started doing more things alone and going seeing live acts was one of them. Being honest it is nice to share live music with someone else, but I really love going on my own, listening, enjoying, feeling the music. I could write endless prose on some of the concerts I’ve seen this last year but digging deep I’ve chosen three. I’ll be brief and summarise into three words: Dancing Years at The Social (intimate, ornate, luxurious), Dry the River at The Forum (luminous, uplifting, angelic) and The 1975 at the Royal Albert Hall (Matty Healy Forever).

Best album
My best album was the hardest, so I chose five! Which I feel is fair considering how many incredible albums have been released this year. I don’t know about you but I love to listen to an album start to finish – I like to think that’s how the artist created it so that’s how we should listen. They take time and care over track listings and transitions so let’s respect that! The year started well with Bastille – Bad Blood, an album which came to represent my once, long commute. I could turn it on at the start of my journey and it was the perfect length to punctuate the various signs and sounds of the district line. Next is Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray, I’ve seen Dan live a few times this year and can say with ease that his charming vocals are just as good live as recorded. The album is poppy and upbeat without being sickly – clever, heartfelt lyrics make for a sweet listen on bright summer days and lounging around the park. alt-J’s second offering This is All Yours was a grower for me but now much-loved. My favourite songs have always been Left Hand Free and Bloodflow, Pt II. and I’m so glad Left hand Free has just been released as a single. This is the album I listen to when I cook, all the best food is made to music. My last two albums are more mellow and soulful. Someone you may not know of is Michael Kiwanuca, consider yourself informed. He won the BBC sound of poll in 2012 and has been quietly getting along with it ever since – the album Home Again, was released in 2012 so certainly isn’t new but it was new to me this year after seeing him at a gig and, I couldn’t be happier! I’d compare him to Otis Reading and Bill Withers - smooth and soulful, perfect for a Sunday night with a hot chocolate and a good book. Finally, Hozier’s self-titled album was one of my most anticipated of the year; I unfortunately missed him at The Great Escape and couldn’t wait for the full offering after buying his EPs. The album is perfection, definitely not afraid to say I cried when I listened to certain songs! The sound swells in your chest and grows within. It is glorious and elevating, have a listen if you haven’t already!

Best single
This bit will be short and sweet, I have three songs that have really drawn me in. The first, Royal Blood – Figure it Out, this song has for me defined those moments on a run or in the gym when you’re lagging. It comes on and fills you with the power and prowess to smash it! Second, James Bay – Hold Back the River, this is what you’ll find me humming along to most of the day and the song I tidy my room to. Finally, a pretty new entry, Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk… there are just no words.

Best band
One band monopolised 2014 for me, The 1975. It think what adds to their appeal for me is 1) Matty Healy - who I actually met over the summer whilst I was on a lunch break in Hammersmith and was the most lovely person 2) pure ‘indie pop’ anthems 3) Their incredible lives set. Robbers is the song that stole my heart, I think if I was counting it would be my most played song of the year. They’re a total sensation now so I’d be surprised if (if you like similar music to me) you haven’t listened! Also follow their Instagram for delightful arty live shots (and my offering below!).

Best best!
To the people who know me, my ‘best best’ isn’t a surprise. I could have put him in every category really but have saved my best til last. George Ezra has been my number one choice of music for more than the last 12 months. I bought his ‘Did you hear the Rain’ EP on its release date last October – knowing he would be special, and his music has gone from strength to strength. I think it would be weird to say I’m ‘proud’ because I don’t know him (let’s not forget the times I met him this year and embarrassed myself in many many ways!) but honestly his rise and rise to success has been phenomenal. I can’t imagine anyone not having listened to his album but if you haven’t, buy it, stream it, anything, you’ll love it! I wrote a review last may after his first UK tour to have a read if you want but most importantly, plug in and listen. My standout tracks are Leaving It Up to You, Stand by Your Gun and Breakaway (and Blind Man in Amsterdam if we’re being greedy) and I’m sure you’ve all heard the anthemic Budapest on the TV and radio. Here’s hoping for new music in 2015 from this one.

So that was long… but like I said, if from anything you’ve read you have any recommendations let me know, especially on the new music front.

I’m finally going home tomorrow for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier. I need a real break with my mum and the cats. No doubt plenty of writing time and planning for the next year.

Next stop… books.

Untitled

The Art of The Brick

I think one of the perks of living in London is the abundance of the weird and wonderful. On your doorstep there’s theatre, music, shops and exhibitions, which I think, are unrivalled in quality and abundance. I try and make an effort to go to a few things a month; sounds easy I know but no one tells you that when you’re playing at being grown up, actual adult things get in the way of the constant fun!

This exhibition was one I’d been aching to see for some months – The Art of The Brick. I met with my partner in crime after work and we slinked off to Brick Lane.

The exhibition is Lego. Just Lego! I won’t spoil it too much by posting pictures of everything, just my favourite three, but I must say it was well worth the entry fee. Room on room of massive Lego statues. There are interactive elements, some film, and most importantly a gigantic dinosaur! The artist Nathan Sawaya was a lawyer who basically use to make Lego figurines after work to relax. Simple as that. Now he’s a worldwide phenomenon - The exhibition has travelled the globe so we’re pretty lucky to have it. I must say my very favourite part is the last room – a room FULL OF LEGO. We made a really annoying massive statue knowing full well someone would have to come and dissemble it all and, had a general amazing time with all the other grown-ups playing with Lego!

After all the excitement off to Hackney we went to my number one dinner venue The Advisory for whiskey and burgers – the perfect remedy to the overwhelming excitement created by thousands of tiny bricks.

Are there any must see exhibitions I should see on at the moment or in the New Year? Comment or tweet me and let me know!


Untitled Untitled Untitled

Inside Antwerp

You guys know I try to always be honest with you, and honestly, this post has been one of the most difficult for me to write in months, more problematic than anything heartfelt or emotional! It seems really silly because it shouldn’t be a hard post to write. I’m just telling you about Antwerp, what we did, where we went. I’ve written this three times in total, the third time I was pleased with, and then my laptop restarted and didn’t autorecover… So here it is, finally, ready for your reading pleasure.

I should start with why this has taken me so long, by means of an update! As I’m not the type of blogger than post everyday activities (I don’t have a dog to walk, or café’s to sit in – just go to the gym and work which none of you would be interested in), I guess it’s good to fill you in. I had a fall last week that has resulted in some super cute crutches and a massive foot! Nothing serious, I promise, but I have been a little more focused on healing and less on writing little anecdotes about my time on the continent! I’m back now though, on the mend, and attempting with my fullest to get creative.

I’m going to take you back in two weeks, to a freezing cold weekend in Belgium with my best friend. I can’t tell you how much I’ve gushed about Antwerp since returning. It is quite simply one of the most exquisite cities I’ve visited for some time. Architecturally beautiful, the friendliest people and a place with just so much to see. Our Airbnb host was exceptional; he gave us all sorts of tips and tricks – places to visit away from the prying eyes of the high streets, for which we were exceptionally grateful. We only visited for a fleeting 32 hours, which wasn’t enough (I’m already planning on going back in the spring after an exciting trip to Europe), and didn’t manage to get round every thing planned but here are a few of the the things we got up to and the places we saw.

Shopping

Going to the shops wasn’t really on our agenda. I don’t think either of us had high expectations but what a surprise! The high street was typical of many European promenades – a Zara, H&M, even a New Look. But slip away down off Schoenmarkt away from the Cathedral, and you’ll happen upon beautiful boutiques and goodies galore – I’d highly recommend Rainpharma for beautiful smelly gifts and treats. The Chocolate Line is a shop you’ll read about in every brochure – I couldn’t write about Antwerp without it. Located in the Palace on the Meir, the one time residence of Napoleon, the Princes of Orange and King Leopold II the shop is exquisite, totally flawless. Every chocolate you could imagine in all shapes and sizes. You have to visit just to ogle at the splendour of it all. Another must visit is the markets in Theaterplein, Exotische Markt and Vogelenmarkt. We visited at the insistence of our host and what a treat it was. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, food – they had it all. An oyster bar, fresh pasta, quiche and fresh made Lebanese wraps,. I urge you to go and while away the hours, taking in all the excitement, sounds and smells.

Two shops, in what I’d consider the design district, I’d recommend are The List and Your - both very design focused with a myriad of clothes, books, furniture, gifts and the like, they really struck a chord with my love of Scani design. I do think The List was only a pop-up over the winter though so who knows, it may be something else on future visits. Vintage shopping is also a pretty big deal in Antwerp – a city so focused on design, make sure you get to Pardaf at Gemeentestraat 8 for your vintage fix.

Activities

One thing I’d really recommend is purchasing an Antwerp City Card if you’re visiting the city;19 Euro for 24 hours up to 29 euro for 72 hours, the card give you access to basically every museum or site across the city (all of which is very walkable!) and discounts in shops and restaurants. We visited the beautiful cathedral and three museums with our 24 hours cards, which definitely saved us some money. We visited MoMu (ModeMuseum), FoMu (FotoMuseum) and M HKA(Museum Van Hendendaagse Kunst Antwerpen – Contemporary Art Museum). The first two were absolutely stunning. The Fashion Museum’s exhibitions change regularly and we were lucky enough to see the ‘Contemporary Fashion from the MoMU Collection’ exhibition; this selection of the collection includes notable names from the Belgian fashion scene such as Raf Simons, but also younger talents such as Peter Pilotto standing alongside silhouettes donated by major foreign fashion houses (including Balenciaga, Helmut Lang). It’s not every day you get to see Dior and Jil Sander pieces so close. The Photography museum was everything I could have asked for – my favourite part being the Mediterranean exhibition. Photographs taken from Ibiza to Gaza were places side by side in a look at the success and sadness from events across the Mediterranean over the last decade. I’ll be honest about the Contemporary art museum; we didn’t really understand the exhibition. It would seem we stumbled across the works of a VERY famous Belgian inventor/creator/artist/personality. People were so excited. We had no clue!!

Next time I visit I want to go to Rockoxhuis and Museum Aan De Stroom – which apparently has a stunning rooftop terrace you can access for free.

The main reason for our visit was to see my man George Ezra play. The venue was just out of town and was totally brilliant! Big, airy and stepped so you could always see; not something you often get in UK venues. If your favourite artist is performing in Europe though I couldn't recommend going to Antwerp to see them more, if not just for the venue!

Eating

Food was obviously high on the agenda. Firstly go to the market I mentioned above to try out some goodies. If you want a brilliant traditional bakery – go to Goossen. A perfectly perfect traditional bakery with more treats that you can shake a stick at; you can tell it’s good because the locals queue up outside. Our favourite place was WASBAR; this place is really special. Firstly, it’s not only a café/bar, it’s a launderette. We had a brilliant chat with the owner and like he said, doing your washing needn’t be boring. The café is light and full of joy. Definitely get the waffles - you get to add your own toppings and they’re a Belgian staple. We urged the lovely owners they need to come to London and they said they’re working on it – keep your eyes peeled.

Antwerp truly stole my heart, a city I could visit time and time again.

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled