I could have been deported this week

By Hannah Silverman

As I began moving into London life at the beginning of 2013 it wasn’t long before my fellow Aussie Londoners began moving out. Well, that says a lot about our friendship, doesn’t it? No, actually, it says a lot about The System. The system of immigration that grabbed my dear friends and their London lives by the scruff, leaving them kicking and screaming all the way home.

Meanwhile as the newbie Londoner, two years seemed like a long time and to me, my friends were just being ungrateful. Or lazy. Or were they? Many of my friends repeatedly told me the same thing, that they weren’t ready to go and that they hadn’t ticked enough boxes. Yet amongst it all they had found some contentment in accepting the inevitable and the excitement of coming home to family and Tim Tams was their consolation prize. I guess they had to embrace it, you can’t exactly fight immigration. My gosh I was smug, but not so much anymore.

Spot the Brit… out of this early friendship group, only one of us wasn’t an Aussie.

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5 lessons I learnt about travel in 2014

By Hannah Silverman

I’m very lucky to have scratched some pretty cool cities off the scratchy map this year. I’ve brought you a handful of these adventures already, but after a little mini blogging slump in the middle of the year, there are still more stories to be told. All in good time.

As we say goodbye to 2014 we’re all in reflection, aren’t we? We’re all regretting the food pregnancies thanks to reckless dalliances with any dish worth its a calorie (by the way, is there a contraception for that?*). We’re all vowing to work harder, sleep better, lose weight, find love, stress less, exercise more and save, I don’t know, something. Or is that just me?

Anyway, over here in Camp Hannah it’s been a bit of a roller coaster of a year, and a trying one at that. Not in the theme park kind of way, either, that implies full-on fun with some souvenirs to proudly showcase on the mantel – or your Facebook Year in Review. However, while there’s been some negatives, I’ve also made like Columbus and conquered my share of exciting new destinations and had an incredible time doing so. That’s what I’m taking from the year that was. But instead of relaying the places I’ve been, I want to share the five destinations that taught me something about travel this year.

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Tourist role play: Tower poppies, Westminster and Banqueting House

By Hannah Silverman

As the woman handed my camera back to me I realised she spoke the universal language of photography, too. “So, where are you from?” she asked me as I melted out of my photo pose.

Considering my accent is now somewhat of a western hybrid, it’s a question I’m asked almost daily. In fact, it’s become so regular I consider it a win if I’m mistaken for a born-and-bred Briton. Depending on how many cocktails I’ve had or which nationality I’m in the company of, I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a subconscious voice chameleon. But usually newbies still figure out I’m from the Southern Hemisphere and most earn bonus points for pinpointing the Antipodes. It’s at this stage I delight in telling them that I am actually a bona fide Londoner, not because I’m ashamed of my heritage (gosh, far from it) but in general I enjoy the sparkle of stepping away from the tourist cliché.

Today, however, was different.

I am in awe. This really is spectacular. (And that really is The Shard in the background).

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5 tricks and treats for London travellers

By Hannah Silverman

It’s Halloween today and I want to play ball. I’ve been far too busy lately to carve a pumpkin (also, I’m hopeless with knives), too frugal to fork out a costume (if you do it, it needs to be done fabulously) and something tells me I’m a little too old to knock on doors for sweets (creepy with or without a costume). Excuses, me?

Still, it’s time to get festive and embrace the celebration the way Hallmark intended. But why go trick or treating when there are so many tricks and treats here, in this backyard of the city so many of us call home? In the spirit of all things Halloween, here are five tricks and treats to help you on your way in London Town.

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Keeping up with the Elizabethans, why historic airbrushing was a thing

By Hannah Silverman

What does Queen Elizabeth I have in common with Kim Kardashian, besides bling the size of a small empire? Anyone?

They’ve both been subjected to allegations of image manipulation. But airbrushing and Photoshop wasn’t around in the 16th century, you say. True, but what artists lacked in keyboards they made up for with paintbrushes – and the viewing public was none the wiser.

You see the art of ‘airbrushing’ is no more prevalent among the Hollywood elite today than it was for historic royalty who’s pursuit of perfection, PR and propaganda was equally as critical in shaping status.

I chatted to the experts at Royal Historic Palaces and the National Portrait Gallery to find out why artistic nip-tucking is not a new age scandal and how artists got away with it for so long.

Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown artist, c. early 17th century with 18th century overpainting. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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HOT London tip: visit the Shard for free

By Hannah Silverman

I’m very fortunate that I seem to have some fabulous travelling friends who occasionally like to drop by London Town and say G’Day (they are mostly Australian, after all). During said travel, at a certain point they also like to visit places much more exhilarating than my terrace (go figure). My go-to POI is The Shard, but not just because it’s Europe’s tallest building and flaunts the wow factor like nobody’s business. My reason is far less cliched and will delight all Champagne travellers on a beer budget.

I’ve visited The Shard more times than I have any other London icon – with the exception of Top Shop, naturally – and I’ve never paid for it. Excitingly, if you like cocktails, you don’t have to either. One of my favourite London tips is this: buy one cocktail, get the Shard view for free. And that sounds like a very happy hour to me.

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View from the Shard. Not bad, if like views and London and things.

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And the travel Oscar goes to… (England)

By Hannah Silverman

This Sunday is the most hotly contested award ceremony on the international stage. It’s a little thing I like to call the Oscars and it’s kind of a big deal. The dresses! The drama! The after parties! This is box office gold and all eyes will be fixed on Hollywood for its night of nights.

That is, unless you will be distracted by the travel destinations which play key supporting roles in the films we love. This year, whether you’re inspired to hustle in America, road trip to Nebraska or cash in on Wall Street, the Best Picture Nominees are setting the scene for some serious travel plans.

To celebrate Oscar season a little closer to home, we go behind the scenes with England’s National Trust to unveil the most exquisite film locations from your favourite movies – and you can visit them today.

Recognise this? Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire starred in three Harry Potter films and The Other Boleyn Girl. Photo courtesy of National Trust and Andrew Butler.

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Beauty and the bus

By Hannah Silverman

Not that there isn’t one million amazing things to do in London or anything, but my new favourite thing is riding the bus. (I do have a fulfilling life, I promise).

I’m a Tube girl, generally. I love the speed and convenience of the Underground network but sometimes while there is no waiting on certain lines, there are a hellavalot of delays on others. Like last Monday. Monday was the Game Changer.

The most beautiful walk to work.
The beautiful surrounds on a wintery commute. This was not Monday. Or maybe it was, but it was so last year.

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