March 12, 2015

Letter Writers Alliance

In this era of digital communication it has become quite rare to read handwritten letters. However, I clearly remember from my childhood that sending and receiving letters from buddies was actually very exciting. I would really like to make and maintain contacts through real, personal letters again. That's why I have just become a member of the 'Letter Writers Alliance'!

A while ago I was a little bit bored (no, very bored) and I felt like I was not really experiencing anything new. So I downloaded Google Earth on my PC so that I could act like I was exploring the world while I was actually sitting behind my desk.

I spent some time 'driving' around in different states of the US and Canada to get an idea of how people live there. An then the idea struck me: I wanted to have contact with people who live on the other side of the world. And to make it extra personal, I wanted to write letters!

Lisa told me she once joined the project 'Postcrossing', which allows you to receive postcards from random places in the world. I really like this idea, but I wanted to write letters. In that way you can really get to know someone and add photos and stuff.

I searched for it on the internet, hoping to find people with the same thoughts. And that is when I found the Letter Writers Alliance. The LWA was started by Kathy Zadrozny and Donovan Beeson in 2007. They believe that a handwritten letter is 'a rare an wondrous item' and want to keep the art of letter writing alive. It's just the two of them who run the organisation and they are very dedicated to their mission.

You can join the LWA by becoming a member; you can get a lifetime membership for only 5 dollars. Then you will receive an envelope from Kathy and Donovan (this may take a while, depending on where you live - it took two weeks for the letter to be sent from Chicago to the Netherlands), containing a welcome note, login information, a membership card and a badge. Once you're a member you can get exclusive stationary and cards (check out their website, it's very cool!) and a pen pal.

I just received my envelope! I think the envelope itself looks very cute and I was very curious to open it. Inside there was the note, the membership card and the badge, as you can see below. They also added a free postcard. I'm really looking forward to get started and send my first letter to my future pen pal:)


March 10, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 6 (+ Vlog + Shoplog)

This is the last day of our wonderful trip to England. A journal, vlog, and shoplog!

Since we spent a lot of time traveling on this last day, we didn't have much time to do anything but that, and drinking coffee. So no pretty pictures today, unfortunately :( We did make a nice video of our journey back, which you can watch here:

You may have already noticed that we visited quite a lot of shops. So we thought it would be nice to put together a little shoplog as well :)

We only visited a Lush store twice - I'm so proud of myself! :p But seriously, I'm a huge fan of their products, and they're quite a bit less pricey in England than they are here, so whenever I get a chance to go to England, I stock up on all my favourites. The three jars (Sympathy For The Skin, Big, and Angels On Bare Skin) are my absolute favourites, and the round shampoo bar (Copperhead) is well on its way of becoming one. The chunky brick on the right (Movis) is a facial cleanser, and also pretty nice!

Since my boyfriend and I are both former English students, we both have a sweet spot for books. The gigantic stack at the top is my boyfriend's (although we kind of bought I Am Legend and The Graveyard Book together..), which makes my "stack" all the more modest. I love the number and diversity of bookshops in Oxford and London, by the way!

On Day 4, we visited Forbidden Planet, a sci-fi /fantasy shop. I never really see myself as a sci-fi fan, but I was fangirling all over the place for the two hours we were there.  We only bought Doctor Who stuff, because we're both really into it, and this show has the best merchandise. I'm a tad bit jealous of my boyfriend's sonic screwdriver (which lights up, makes sound, and is actually a screwdriver!). We  also got ourselves a poseable Weeping Angel statue, a pair of mugs, and I even got myself a badge :p

Of course, we couldn't come home without a few souvenirs for the families, so we stocked up on mugs, trays, toys, books, and snowglobes.

And since we liked the Banksy poster for my brother so much, we decided to get one ourselves as well.

So, that was it. We hoped you enjoyed the vlogs (if you haven't seen them yet, you can find them here) and journals; we certainly enjoyed making them! We would love to hear what you liked about them, or what you would like to see differently, so please let us know!

xx Lisa (& Ivanna)

March 9, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 5 (+ Vlog)

A journal and vlog on the fifth day of our trip to England. On this day, we visited Hyde Park and the Camden Markets.

Tuesday was an extra special day, because this was the whole reason we spend a holiday in England anyway: our 10 year anniversary! It was my favourite day too, because we had already crossed all the must-sees off our list, so we had all the time in the world to just roam around the city.

We started off with a delicious breakfast at Maroush Bakery instead of having breakfast at the hotel. Mainly because we just wanted to treat ourselves on our special day, but also because the instant coffee at the hotel was downright depressing. Really, I highly recommend the hotel, especially if your on a budget, but I also urge you to visit Maroush for breakfast ;)

We didn't have to do anything, but that didn't mean we had no plan at all. Since I had never been to Hyde Park before, I really wanted to go there, and I especially wanted to see the Peter Pan statue. And take the obligatory Peter Pan selfie.

Next, we took the tube to the Camden Markets, to stroll around between to little shops and stands. I had already been there once myself, but my boyfriend hadn't, so I wanted to show him how awesome it is. If you ever go to London for shopping, you should definitely go here instead of just visiting Primark and Topshop!

Afterwards, we had dinner at Nando's again. I am almost ashamed to admit it, but it's just so pleasantly low-key, and it was close to our hotel, so after dinner we could get into bed and romantically watch Doctor Who together ;)

Didn't feel like reading? No problem at all! You can also watch our video right here:

So, did we miss anything important on our trip? What would you have done on a special day like this?


March 6, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 4 (+ Vlog)

This is the journal and vlog of day 4 of our trip to England.

We started our Monday morning with a rather scanty breakfast. To be honest, after our stay at Susanne any breakfast would have seemed scanty in comparison, and we didn't expect much for what we payed for our stay, but instant coffee?? Luckily, we had a busy day ahead of us, so instead of sulking, we grabbed our stuff and went to the Natural History Museum.

I love this kind of museums. As a linguist, I am often expected to like literature and arts, which I absolutely do, but I also have a soft spot for biology. And animatronic dinosaurs.

After spending the entire morning at the museum, we took the tube to Covent Garden, to have lunch at Le Pain Quotidien. We had planned to visit the Lush store there as well, but since it seemed to have vanished (?), we decided to go straight to the next point on our to-do list: Forbidden Planet. After stopping at the Tea House, because I have this strange habit of buying tea in every country I visit.

In case anyone is wondering what he Forbidden Planet is: it is said to be the biggest sci-fi/fantasy store in Europe. My boyfriend and I were both too excited to take pictures :p but it is briefly shown in our vlog, whichyou can find at the bottom of this article.

After our visit to Forbidden Planet, we decided to just take it easy for the rest of the day. Stroll around for a bit, have some coffee, visit some shops, and try to find another Lush store. It all worked out perfectly, and after having dinner at a cute indian restaurant, we dragged our bags full of Lush and Doctor Who merchandise back to our hotel room, where we almost immediately fell asleep.

If you want to see a bit of Forbidden Planet, or - even better - an animatronic T-Rex, check out our vlog! All vlogs on the previous days of our trip can be found on the Spring to Fall Youtube Channel.

Have a lovely day!


March 5, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 3 (+ Vlog)

Day 3 of our trip was a bit bittersweet. We had to leave Oxford, and thus our friend Susanne behind, but we also continued our trip to London!

Again, I've written a little journal below. Don't feel like reading? You can also watch the video:

Once again, we started our day with a Dutch-English fusion breakfast prepared by our incredible host Susanne. Tea, juice, eggs, scones, crumpets, and Old Amsterdam cheese. Really, that girl knows how to make breakfast.

We packed our bags, and made our way to the bus, but not before making a short stop at Blackwell's bookstore. This short stop turned out to be nearly two hours, but what else would you expect with two former English students?

With lighter wallets and heavier bags, we finally arrived at the bus station, where we hastilly said goodbye to our friend before hopping in and driving off. Goodbye Susanne, see you in April! And goodbye Oxford!

And hello London! After a two and a half hour trip, we finally stepped out of Earl's Court station, and were immedtiately welcomed by the familiar rain and wind. This is the England we know :p We had some difficulties finding the hotel because I had forgotten to bring the address and directions, but managed to arrive there pretty quickly. We stayed at the Garden View Hotel - a tiny, but cozy and clean hotel at a great location. No, we were not payed for this review :p

After unpacking our bags, and taking an unplanned nap, we headed to Nando's for dinner. Not the most interesting option perhaps from a blogger's perspective, but Nando's is just always a good idea.

Do you have a go-to restaurant when you're in London?


March 3, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 2 (+ Vlog)

As promised, a little journal and vlog on our second day in England!

Last week, my boyfriend and I spent 6 days in Oxford and London to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. After a rather adventurous first day, we started day two with the delicious breakfast our friend Susanne had prepared for us. Most Englishmen would probably have a seizure at the sight of what we did to their national products to call it breakfast, but it was scrumptious nonetheless.

After this hearty breakfast, we headed off to the Oxford University Museum National History and the adjoining Pitt Rivers Museum, which were both incredibly beautiful and interesting. I was actually promised human heads in jars, which was the whole reason I wanted to go to the Pitt Rivers Museum, but unfortunately they only had "regular" shrunken heads. Which were also pretty disgusting interesting. And the architecture of the Natural History Museum was phenomenal!

After that we sneaked into Christ Church, where Alice in Wonderland was written, and several scenes of the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Unfortunately, we couldn't get into the Great Hall due to reconstruction work. Bummer. We also briefly visited the covered market before heading for lunch.

Lunch consisted of fruit and juice packs (daytrips like this always bring out the mother figure in Susanne), and pasties we bought at Sainsbury's. Very fancy ;)

And after some well deserved rest and coffee and hot cocoa, we walked up the hill to enjoy a splendid sunset over Oxford.

To see the rest of the evening on our second day, and to enjoy even more visual input, check our vlog below!

There are 4 more days of vlogs to come, so stay tuned!

March 2, 2015

Lisa in England - Day 1 (+ Vlog)

Last week, me (Lisa) and my boyfriend went to Oxford and London for six days. This is a journal of the first day of our trip.

The main reason we went on this trip, was to celebrate our ten year anniversary on February 24 - hooray for us! Also, since we were heading in that direction anyway, we thought it would be a great opportunity to visit our friend Susanne who is currently working on her PhD at Oxford University. 

We left on Friday February 20 to Gatwick Airport, and took the bus to Oxford. We stayed there until Sunday afternoon, when we took the bus back to London, and we stayed there until Wednesday Februari 25. This meant we had almost 6 full days to enjoy all the goodness these cities have to offer! (and it proved to be not nearly enough :p)

The first day started out a bit more exciting than we had hoped for. Spoiler: we had a little issue at the check-in, because I am unbelievably stupid. For the rest of the story, you'll have to check the video ;) Thank goodness everything turned out alright, and a few hours laters, we were able to meet up with Susanne. We had a wonderful, busy first day in Oxford, thanks to Susanne's activities program. 

Since we did so much in these six days, it would be madness to cram it all in just a single post and one video, so we decided to spread it out and post an article and a video about each individual day. So stay tuned for the rest!

Have you ever been to Oxford and/or London? We'd love to hear what you've seen there, or would like to see!

xx Lisa (and Ivanna, who has edited all the videos!)