About Harriet Constable
Harriet Constable is a communications executive and freelance travel writer and blogger. At the age of 23 she stepped foot on Antarctica, and in doing so achieved her aspiration of traveling to every continent.
Harriet is the founder of Harri Travels aka http://www.harrietconstable.com/, a travel blog focused on providing affordable stylish adventure inspiration across the globe. Harriet lives in London and when she isn’t half way across the world she can be found exploring her home city for awesome new things to do. You can follow her on twitter: @Hconstable.
Latest Posts by Harriet Constable
Roll up roll up, to the Union Street Coffee House in London. Run by the ‘Gentleman Baristas’ this newly opened coffee haven is situated close to London Bridge Station and the popular foodie destination of Borough Market.
Conveniently close to the FT, where I’m based Monday to Friday, I popped in on my lunch for a hot chocolate and a chat with one of the ‘gentleman baristas’ himself, Henry C. A. W. Ayers.
The idea behind the shop is ‘well mannered’ coffee, and Henry is an exemplar of this vibe. Charming and friendly with a very British moustache in tow, he pulled up a chair next to me and talked about the building’s origins dating back to the 17th century. It was originally a coffee house and a meeting place, then a butchers and the offices for the coffee federation but for the last year and a half it’s been empty.
Here are some great travel apps worth noting, most of them mobile apps.
One of the most confusing things about travel can be mentally converting costs from your home currency to the local currency, and understanding how much you’re actually spending. XE Currency is my favourite app for this: it uses live currency rates and allows you to calculate prices with your smartphone on the go. It also has historical currency charts, so you can track your costs from last week or last month at the correct exchange rate.
Useful whether you’re travelling or have friends living across the globe, the World Clock app does what it says on the tin: an interactive map of time zones across the globe, as well as daylight saving times.
My favourite site for an initial sweep of flight prices, Skyscanner searches the web from airlines to deal sites to find the cheapest option for flying to your chosen destination. It’s a good way to see what’s out there all in one place, and there’s also a cool option to pin your search to your start screen and keep an eye on price fluctuations.
Forward your emails for flights/hotels/hire cars/restaurant bookings etc. to trips @ worldmate . com and the app generates a handy itemised itinerary of your upcoming trip. If you upgrade it will also let you know if there’s any delays to flights in real time. Who needs a personal assistant?
This brilliant app allows you to hail a cab to your exact location using the GPS on your phone in a matter of minutes. Hailo also lets you plug in your card details to save needing cash, and emails you your receipt at the end of the journey. I find it unbelievably handy, and it makes my life easier.
Walking around London I often pass cool little shops or quirky restaurants, galleries and more that I think look great and then completely forget about. Pin drop tracks your location and allows you to drop a pin when you see somewhere that takes your fancy, acting as a reminder to revisit in the future. You can also browse user-made lists siting the best places to eat or see in town – great if you’re new or need some inspiration.
Such a good app! Spot a building that’s vaguely important-looking and want to know more? Open this app and point your smartphone camera at it. As long as the building is famous enough it will fire up a Wikipedia page telling you all you need to know.
I wish I had known about this app before having had my possessions stolen in Thailand, including passport. It offers a database of emergency service numbers for just about every country you’d ever care to visit. There’s also embassy details and the option to pin certain services to your home screen as widgets, for one-touch access to police, ambulances and fire engines.
It’s all very well having these cool apps, but mobile data is expensive while abroad. On my Antarctica expedition I accidentally downloaded an email which cost me £120 in data charges… so I know how that feels! Enter Onavo, a nifty little app that drastically reduces the amount of data needed to perform tasks like checking emails and posting to Facebook.
It seems that there is now a Day of the Year for everything. Today, for instance, is apparently Mouldy Cheese Day - but of course you already knew that. Last month no doubt you celebrated Hug Your Hound Day, and I do hope you are looking forward to World Porridge Day tomorrow. Endless celebrations to be had! One of my favourites (naturally) is London Cocktail Week which takes place this year from the 6th to 12th of October.
Now in its fifth year, London Cocktail Week is the biggest drinks festival in the UK with over 250 bars primed to shake and stir you toward a delicious cocktail.
To be part of London Cocktail Week 2014, festival-goers must buy a wristband, which costs £15 from one of the hubs scattered around town. Wristbands give access to the huge amount of free sampling and cocktail demonstrations, as well as the renowned self-guided Cocktail Tours across the capital. Many of the bars also offer £4 cocktails to wristband-wearers.
Dutiful as ever, I took it upon myself to visit the new Hixter at Bankside, one of the many establishments on the list for an after-work stop off. The £4 cocktail on offer was called Tanqueray Autumnal Orchard: Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, pressed apple juice, Martini Rosso an elderflower cordial, served long over ice.
This October I’m heading to SALT, a cultural festival taking place on an Arctic beach in Norway. It looks absolutely awesome. The festival begins its journey on the mountainous island of Sandhornøy, just south of Bodø. Over the coming years SALT will travel across the northernmost part of the globe to Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Scotland, Spitsbergen, Alaska and Russia.
Their inspiration stems from the Arctic nomads, whose concern for and close relationship to nature means that archaeologists are able to find few remnants of their culture. In the same way, SALT’s eight year long journey is intentionally low-impact and respectful – it’s a cultural platform focusing on our common future, lifestyle and on environment and climate changes.
They’ve created simple and portable structures which will house art projects, concerts, theatre, readings and local food cultures.
And we’ll be sleeping in these:
They’re called SALT Njallas. I love the name! These houses-slash-tents come with their own wood burning stoves and are light enough to be moved to find your perfect spot on the beach.
My journey there involves flying to Oslo then Bodø, and then taking a boat to Sandhornøy.
On the weekends, flowers come to life in London. Every Sunday on a narrow street in East London the Columbia Road Flower Market bursts into bright vivid colors. Flowers of every fragrance and colour line the road, enticing shoppers in with their soft leaves, bright colours and great prices. The flower market cracks open at 8am, but the nifty shopper will wait until nearer to the 3 pm’ish losing time for the real bargains: a bunch of luxury roses for a fiver, herbs and plants for tuppence.
Behind the waves of colourful petals vintagy shops and tasty cafés adorn the street, perfect for nipping into for a mid-shop cuppa. I’ve spent many a happy Sunday strolling through this pretty market when I’ve been stuck for things to do in London. Here is the Columbia Road Flower Market, in pictures.
For more information on the market visit www.columbiaroad.info
Welcome to the land of William Wallis, the land of epic landscapes and rugged terrains, of hunky men in tartan kilts with their wind-chilled hairs standing on end and bagpipes droning in the distance. This is Scotland!
Drive through Skye to the northernmost tip and arrive at your accommodation: Check out the charming Kilmaluag Bay B&B for cosy Scandinavian style, excellent food and wonderful hosts. Bring snacks so you don’t need to leave again (no great dinner options nearby) and curl up on the leather sofas for a romantic evening.
I’d recommend driving back to the south of Skye. This time, take the bridge over past Loch Ness and spot the monster as you stop to skim stones on the way back.
For one month over August every year Edinburgh Scotland bursts into artistic bloom with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As part of my 25 goals this year, I wanted to head to this beautiful city and catch as much of the action as possible.
The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival. It was established in 1947 as an alternative to the more expensive and selective Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe celebrates all types of art from dance and music to comedy, plays and poetry. Any performer or performance may participate; there is no selection committee. Because of this, practically every coffee shop, basement, front living room and other random space in the city is transformed into a venue of sorts. On offer are performances dreamed up by those hoping to make it big. As such the tickets are very affordable (anything from free to about £15).
Tip: head to the half price hut off Princes Street for great shopping.
I spent the August bank holiday weekend soaking up the atmosphere and trying out several different performances, from comedy to a one-woman monologue, story-telling and insane gymnastics. The one-woman monologue, The Height of the Eiffel Tower followed the life of Terry and her children (ranging from awkward 13 year old to pregnant teenager), all played by New Zealand actress Morgana O’Reilly. It made me laugh and cry all in the space of one hour as she morphed from one character to the other.
Another highlight was A Simple Space, an acrobatics show created by a group of burly gymnasts who pulled off insane balancing tricks and showed us their strength and core power in a lighthearted performance in the Udderbelly space.
One of the best parts of the weekend however was just exploring the city properly. As my boyfriend constantly reminds me (it’s his hometown), Edinburgh is spectacular. Its turreted buildings, church steeples and green hills provide fantastic photo opportunities. It has a castle – a castle that looks about as perfectly castle-like as any I’ve ever seen – and views stretching right down to the sea from some areas. In the old town, a higldy-pigldy jumble of streets and shops lead to the Royal Mile – the best place to catch the Fringe street performers action. In the new town, expensive shops and posh restaurants stand in elegant Georgian buildings.
Wander off the main strip a little and you will stumble across sweeping crescents of townhouses: some of the most beautiful accommodation in the city. On a bright crisp day as the sun beams through the turrets and gothic architecture over the bright green grass of Princes Street Gardens there are few better places in the world to be.
We managed to see six shows over the weekend and were exhausted by the end of it! Happily, we intermingled all these shows with lots of trips to coffee shops, cafés and Fringe locations for drinks and food.
Finding a great new brunch spot in London always pleases me – the many weekends of relaxed pleasure I have brought myself by stumbling upon this place! Here are a few of my favourites that any brunch-fanatic needs to experience, in no particular order:
1. JOE’S KITCHEN, BOROUGH
If only they had loyalty scheme. I’ve probably spent more than a month’s rent on brunch at Joe’s the amount of times I’ve been there. Tucked away down ‘the dodgy end’ of Borough High Street by Borough tube, Joe’s has an open plan layout with a couple of nooks for larger tables and a friendly atmosphere. Expect big groups of friends, families and lone rangers stretched out with their paper and a cuppa. The menu has all the classics, from Eggs Benedict served on giant muffins and dripping with hollandaise sauce to a stack of pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup. The milkshakes are amazing and the prices are reasonable.
EXPECT: A menu so good you’ll need at least fifteen solid minutes to choose
2. ROAST, BOROUGH MARKET
Sitting proud on the top of Borough Market, Roast is your luxury brunch destination. Go to impress your parents or for a special brunch date. The layout is open-plan and spectacularly light given the art-deco windows stretching from floor to ceiling. Arrive as early as possible to secure a table by the window and gaze down on shoppers shuffling through the market to buy organic fruits and veg. The menu includes ‘The Veggie Borough’ and ‘The Full Borough’ – their take on English breakfast and an exciting array of drinks including a breakfast martini. I can highly recommend the Popeye Juice, which contains a refreshing combination of mint, cucumber, elderflower and apple juice.
EXPECT: Exceptional service that leaves you feeling like a royal
Read more about Roast.
3. JACKSON & RYE, SOHO
For the New York brunch experience, head to Jackson & Rye in Soho. In this dimly-lit parlor expect booth-style seating, wooden floors, and sleek interior design. The tables are filled with pretty glassware and sugar in jars, and the drinks are inventive and brightly coloured. My ‘Green’ juice contained avocado and chia seeds. It tasted absolutely disgusting, but maybe that was the point. The menu is slightly intimidating with so many options – we Londoner’s aren’t used to seeing gnocchi, sea bass and dessert options at brunchtime. Eventually, I opted for the cheese melt and a chopped salad with blue cheese dressing. Both were mouth-wateringly good.
EXPECT: Overenthusiastic waiting staff shipped straight in from NYC and enormous portions
4. THE RIDING HOUSE CAFÉ, FITZROVIA
Totter a few streets back from busy Oxford Circus and you’ll stumble across The Fitzrovia’s Riding House Café, a chic and elegant brunch spot in central London. Here, you can hitch yourself up onto a tall teal seat at the bar and gaze at the waiters concocting pretty drinks, or sink into a low chair in the lounge with a coffee and a great book. A giant communal table occupies the centre of the restaurant surrounded by theatre-style seats and a chandelier overhead. The teal blue of the seats is picked up in the water tumblers and the heavy shiny cutlery feels expensive. To eat, try the buttermilk pancakes with berries, vanilla clotted cream and maple syrup and a peony and rosebud tea.
EXPECT: Buzzing atmosphere and some of the best restaurant toilets in London – you’ll see what I mean
5. STORIES, BROADWAY MARKET
Bar and all day brunch spot, Stories is a relatively-new addition to the London Fields crew offering a nice food menu, great drinks options and a bursting events calendar. The layout is colourful and quirky: there are hexagonal tables to be filled with a group or shared with others, a long pale wood table in the centre of the room, hanging wall art in bright shades and a ceiling light with drooping plants which makes it feel bright even on a rainy day. The menu hits the spot and the veggie breakfast is one of the best I’ve tasted. For a delicious bargain, opt for the avocado on sourdough toast with lime, red pepper flakes and watercress salad at only £5. The spiked juices and smoothies also make for a fun start to the weekend. Options include drinks with strawberries, rum and coconut water and non-alcoholic juices with spinach, mint and pineapple.