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shopping

A weekend in Kingston upon Thames

By 6 April 2015 Travel

Arriving at Kingston train station on a warm and sunny Friday afternoon you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in just another busy London suburb. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

With a history dating back over a thousand years, Kingston gets its name from Kinges Tun meaning royal farm or estate. Behind the modern high street you’ll find an ancient heart that has seen the coronation of perhaps 7 Saxon kings. The historical heart of Kingston is very charming. Its cobbled streets and old building nowadays house upmarket shops. It’s definitely an ideal destination for shopping.

During my Friday afternoon I actually didn’t make it that far. I explored only the main high street and shopping centre as I only had a short time before needing to get ready to go out to dinner. My reason for travelling to Kingston was to attend the Traverse 15 conference for travel bloggers. I’m not a travel blogger per se but having been to Blogstock, which was a blogging festival organised by the same guys, I really wanted to go.

After dinner with some new friends in Prezzo, we headed to All Saints Church for a networking event. This Norman church was built on the site of the Saxon coronations mentioned above. Along with its more modern additions, the church was a spectacular location for drinks.

All Saints Church Kingston

Organ stops on Frobenius organ All Saints Church Kingston

Kingston at night

After drinks we walked through the more attractive part of town and were drawn by our noses into Sweet Revenge. The bakery still had its doors open at 9.30pm because the owner was busy baking a big order. It’s a gorgeous place with pastel coloured tables and chairs and the most pretty cakes. I couldn’t decide between all the flavours so chose vanilla as well as coffee and walnut.

Sweet Revenge Cupcakes

Cakes at Sweet Revenge bakery

Vanilla cupcake from Sweet Revenge

I didn’t eat both cakes at once but they were delicious.

Saturday

Saturday was filled with the conference. We had a greasy fry up for breakfast before heading to Kingston University for the day. I attended a number of talks on the subject of blogging. One about the PR’s perspective of building relationships, one on improving my travel photography and one on alternative monetisation strategies. At lunchtime I attended a focus group with Air France KLM about how they work with travel bloggers. It was all very interesting and most definitely transferable across various blogging niches.

Traverse 15 Conference

I spent the evening at Space, one of the student union bars at the University. It certainly took me back a few years or 10. By 11pm I was ready for my bed so I got onto a bus full of people heading out into town to go back to the Travelodge so I could go to sleep. I must be getting old.

Sunday

Sunday morning was wet. I’d hoped to have some more time to explore Kingston and take photos before getting the boat to Hampton Court but it was windy and miserable. I was still determined to go for a walk and get my camera out.

Kingston upon Thames

Old buildings Kingston

Shopping in Kingston

Windswept in Kingston

There’s been a market in Kingston for centuries. Even on this sodden Sunday morning the stall holders were setting up. The Market Place is in the older part of town south of All Saints Church, close to the river.

Kingston Ancient Market shops

Market House Kingston Ancient Market

Nothing was open yet and I was getting a little soggy so I ended up heading straight for Turks Launches to wait for the boat. As part of the conference, Kingstonfirst had arranged a host of Sunday Experiences that ranged from beauty treatments at Clinique to tapas and cocktail making. I opted for the trip to Hampton Court via a river cruise. Read about my day out at Hampton Court here.

Accommodation

There’s not a huge range of hotel options in Kingston. I chose the most budget option, although at £49 per night the Travelodge wasn’t particularly cheap. There are actually 2 Travelodges in Kingston, just a few hundred metres from each other, which is a bit odd. I stayed at the older Kingston Central hotel. My view was over a multi storey car park. I was wondering around in my underwear when I realised that there were skateboarders yards from my window. I don’t think they could see in! Nevertheless I quickly closed the curtains.

My room was huge but basic as you’d expect. I slept well both nights and wasn’t too bothered by noise. There are definitely more sirens in Kingston than I’m used to. The Cafe Bar at the Travelodge didn’t get any custom from me. I ate out the first night, grabbed a salad and hummus wrap from the kebab shop Saturday night and there was no way I was paying £8 for breakfast. I had a cheap fry up Saturday morning and on Sunday I ate the pot of Oats So Simple porridge I’d brought with me. The joys of in-room tea and coffee making facilities!

The shower was a bit rubbish with a curtain that stuck to you and a shower tray that filled up with water so I had to stand there in the cold for a bit to avoid flooding the bathroom. But overall, it wasn’t bad for the price and the location was excellent.

Getting there

The easiest way to travel to Kingston is probably by train. It’s only half an hour from central London (Waterloo). It’s actually within the London fare zones so you can use your Oyster card, I believe.

Kingston’s centre is compact so you can walk everywhere. I only got the bus back from the uni bar as it was so late, I’d walked there earlier in the evening. Taxis seemed very reasonable. On Saturday we had to get to the Kingston Hill university campus which was about a 15 minute drive. The journey there cost £6 and it was £8 back. Between 3 it was cheaper than the bus.

Kingston as a weekend destination

I’d highly recommend a weekend in Kingston upon Thames. It’s got shopping, culture and nightlife. There are restaurants along the river that would be lovely on a warm, or at least dry, day, a fantastic range of shops and it’s just a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace. It’s even got its own cereal cafe. What more could you want?

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Shopping Spree in Canterbury

By 23 February 2014 Life, Lifestyle
View from the bus home

This Saturday, hubby was working so I decided to take myself off to Canterbury for some retail therapy.  It was packed as usual.  I always forget how busy it is in Canterbury until I get there!

I wanted to have a look for bargains in H&M and Zara but forgot that you can’t buy anything in there unless you’re a size 12 or below.  Having lost 2 stone since June 2013, I’ve felt so much better about how I look.  But trying (and failing miserably) to get into a pair of size 14 skinny jeans in Zara was just depressing.  And a size L dress wouldn’t zip up.  I swiftly decided no more clothes should be tried on.

Donna Dome Shoulder Bag Accessorize

Accessorize Bracelet

I cheered myself up a little bit by spending nearly £50 in Accessorize on this gorgeous handbag and bracelet.  This bag is big enough to carry all my crap in while still looking good.  It’s a lovely light pink with gold detail.  The across body strap makes it even more practical.  I reckon I could even get my laptop in there.  Hubby asked me if this new bag is to replace my old Kipling.  Replace??  Does he not know me at all? Of course I’ll keep my trusty Kipling; I’ve had it since 2006 and it’s still going strong.

I had a few things on my shopping list, but the only thing I managed to get was something from Sylvia and Terry Chocolates.  I’ve been following them on Twitter and Facebook for a few weeks and was excited when I saw they were going to be in Canterbury on Saturday.  They make delicious chocolates here in Kent, however the prices were a little steep for my modest budget so I picked two whopping great chunks of Ridiculously Rocky Road for hubby and I.  Turns out I made the right decision as they were insanely good.  I’ve borrowed this photo from their Facebook page because we scoffed ours before the thought of taking a photo even crossed my mind!

For lunch I fancied trying a new Japanese restaurant I’d read about but I couldn’t find it.  I spent ages wondering up and down Burgate and then Palace Street trying to find somewhere else to eat.  Being Saturday lunch time most places were packed.  In the end I starting walking down the high street and came across Kitch.  I bagged the fabulous window seat where I got to people watch while enjoying my hot and spicy cacao.  This was a hot chocolate with a difference!

Blogosphere Magazine and spicy cacao

I also got to enjoy reading the latest issue of Blogosphere Magazine. It’s a great way to discover new blogs of all genres. I enjoyed a scrummy veggie and vegan lunch of fresh bread with olives, dips and salad. Again, there’s no photographic evidence as I was too excited to dig into my lunch! But I can assure you it was beautifully presented and totally delicious.

After lunch, I was lured into Lush by the heady aroma and came out armed with the Mask of Magnaminty. Review post to come soon! My skin has been particularly troublesome lately so I hope this will help sort it out.

Mask of Magnaminty Lush Face Pack

Having lugged my increasingly heavy bag and shopping around, and convinced myself I didn’t need to buy anything in Paperchase, I popped into Cath Kidston where I happened upon this cute pink polka dot lanyard to pretty up my work ID.

Cath Kidston pink polka dot lanyard

My last stop before the bus home was Boots for a new face powder, my tried and tested Seventeen Miracle Matt compact. Always a bargain at £3.99. I also picked up an Innocent Smoothie in my favourite flavour Apple, Kiwi and Lime. It’s one of the only ones without banana. I seriously can’t stand banana in a smoothie! I can taste even the tiniest amount.

All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day! Now I just need to find all the other bits that were on my shopping list that I didn’t get! I suppose that means more shopping. What a chore.

How was your weekend?

Rachel x

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