Sydney, Australia

. 23 June 2018 .
Just a short note from me this post as I want the photos to speak for themselves...My flatmate and I went for a spontaneous walk one afternoon and I decided to bring my camera along to try out my new wide-angle lens. I love the results and I hope you do too. 

I feel so lucky to call this beautiful place home!

. 11 June 2018 .
Feat. three girls, a Mini and a dog.

Last October, I took a day off work (my first annual leave ever!) and escaped with a couple of friends for a four-day long weekend up the Central Coast. In true movie road trip style, we jumped into a red Mini Cooper and brought along Finn, my friend's adorable Maltese Poodle. Coincidentally, it has been one year since we had started travelling together after meeting each other on our university semester abroad. Whilst Umina Beach was a little closer to home than Copenhagen (around one and a half hour drive as we were lucky enough to miss the long weekend traffic), it was the perfect getaway after six months of intense work and study.

The three of us (and one dog) stayed in this beautiful cottage. We were a bit apprehensive at first as the preview on Google Maps showed a rundown property and it was a pretty affordable option. When we arrived on Friday afternoon however, we were pleasantly surprised - what you see in the photos is exactly what the little cottage looked like. It is owned by a very friendly lady who lives in the front house (with one welcoming shaggy dog) - her welcome and chats made our stay even better. The property is managed by Accom Holidays Ettalong, who were great communicators and responded to my emails immediately. I wouldn't hesitate to stay at this cottage again if I ever need a place to stay at Umina Beach. Word of warning though, the property doesn't come with wifi. I was completely fine with this as I was keen for a digital detox regardless.

On Friday night, we booked a table at Pearls on the Beach, a contemporary Australian fine dining restaurant next to Pearl Beach, to celebrate my friend's 21st birthday. The portions were generous and we thoroughly enjoyed the entree, mains and dessert. We also watched the pink sunset beforehand - I have waited so long to walk along the soft sand whilst listening to the waves and staring into the pink clouds in the distance!

Of course, a weekend away wouldn't be complete without a coastal hike. We deliberately chose our location for the long weekend based on its proximity to a beach and a national park. We ended up doing a couple of easy hikes through the bush and along the coastline at Bouddi National Park, then taking a swim when we came across secluded beaches. It was definitely the perfect way to recharge!

Walensee, Switzerland

. 27 May 2018 .

If you can preface a travel post by saying "I'll never forget that moment when..." then you know you're doing something right.

I've had these photos saved in a draft blog post since I first blogged about Switzerland in early 2017, but I knew that this profound personal experience deserved something more than just a visual diary. 

As you may recall, my first stop after arriving in Europe was Zurich, something that was not on the top of my bucket list. On the second day of being in the city, we visited my friend's friend who had relocated there for of her husband's job. I still remember that anxiety and discomfort of going to a stranger's home and meeting someone new for the first time. If only I was better at saying no, I thought. Given that we were only there for a few days, I could've explored the city on my own instead of tagging along to my friend's catch up. I kept this internal turmoil to myself (as always) and tried my best to socialise. 

The next day, my friend said she was planning to meet up with her friend and her three kids again to go swimming. The discomfort of meeting someone new has slightly faded after the first encounter, but I still felt like an outsider tagging along (and the thought of having to be in my swimwear gave me the sweats). I imagined myself going all the way to Zurich to swim in a YMCA pool. But again, I decided to say yes and went along. 

As you can see from these photos, saying yes gave me an experience that I never expected to have.

We all ended up hopping into the car and drove to Walensee, located about an hour outside of Zurich. When we got there, we took a cable car up the mountain. 

Holy freaking moly. It was one of the best views of nature that I've ever seen. 

Once we got off the cable car, we walked along a few paths until we reached a picnic area. Insane greenery and mountain views greeted us at every turn - I couldn't believe that this place was so easily accessible to the people who lived there. We spent the afternoon drinking fresh glacier water and picking (and eating) wild blueberries. 

By the time we went back down the mountain, I had won over the three kids and we were playing together on the play equipment (which just casually had an expansive view of the Swiss countryside) and swimming in the glacial lake. By saying "yes", I got to venture to a part of Switzerland that I didn't know about and experience what the locals get to enjoy.

From that moment on and all throughout my exchange, I decided to say yes more often (even when I really felt like saying no). Once I started consciously saying yes, I became more aware of how often I felt like saying no. This most often occurred in social events when I didn't know anyone well (like birthday parties), or when I just didn't feel like going out. Despite the fact that I am an introvert, I realised that this fear (that turns into a 'NO') had been stopping me from unique and enjoyable experiences. 

So here's to saying YES (assertively in capital letters) more often, even when you feel like saying no. Learn to be mindful of when the irrational fear wants to take over and stop you from having a good time. Say to it, "thanks, but I'm just going to feel the fear and do it anyway", and enjoy every unique experience.

. 16 May 2018 .

Here is some mid-week inspiration for you all in the form of my Apartment Spaces series.

I always come across great styling in small spaces that strike the right balance between clean minimalism, space and cosiness. I thought I would start this series to share with you all the spaces that I get inspired by. More often than not, I am more inspired by small apartments and studios more than large villas and mansions. As I don't have a family and I enjoy my own company, I love the idea of a small cosy space that showcases individual style upon walking into the room.

Love the combination of earthy colours, plants and rattan against the clean walls and floorboard.

via Alvhem
Sydney, Australia

. 5 May 2018 .

I love reading. As a child, I always had a book glued to my hand (including, unhealthily, during dinner time). My love for reading petered out during university, as my degrees involved heavy academic reading (bleurgh). But now that I am working, I have turned back to reading as a source of comfort during my downtime. I even registered for a library card recently so I could stop buying books faster than the rate that I could read them (anyone else guilty of this?)! 

I've always wanted to be in a bookclub, so I thought I'd start a new series on C/M called The Reading List. The series won't be restricted to only fiction or non-fiction, but will include coffee table books, magazines, websites, blogs and even podcasts.

First up, Magazine B.

I've seen Magazine B around in a few bespoke bookstores and magazine stores before, but it wasn't until my trip to Hong Kong at the start of this year did I pick up two of their magazines featuring a couple of my favourite brands: Airbnb and Muji. 

Magazine B is a monthly publication (and as a bonus, has no ads) that labels itself as a brand documentary magazine. Every month, the Magazine B team dedicates an entire issue to investigating one brand - its stories, growth, marketing and impact that it has on its customers. The magazine is packed with independent insight, analysis, commentary and stories, displayed together with well-designed imagery and photography. 

As someone who is fascinated by the idea of branding, I think Magazine B strikes a great balance between independent brand promotion and investigative documentary. Picking two brands that I personally know, love and use, it was fascinating to read about the strategies behind the brands to grow and evolve their markets, yet at the same time be absorbed in the brands themselves. In the Airbnb issue, for example, Magazine B compares hotels and Airbnbs in imagery and interviews, articulating why more and more young people are choosing to live the Airbnb experience rather than book a hotel room - something that I can relate to as I find myself going to the Airbnb website as my first option whenever I have to find accommodation. The magazine explores how Airbnb has grown its brand so that, in the mind of the consumer, it becomes inexplicably tied to a local's experience (something that hotels can't offer!)

I love that Magazine B is edited and published in Korea (the magazine is published in both Korean and English). The magazine is bespoke, carefully curated and filled with quality content. Because there is no ad content, every page feels like it is contributing to the brand documentary. I also love the feel of the slightly thick matte cover and paperstock which makes you forget that you are reading a magazine and more a quality book. 

I am keen to purchase more of their issues (check out the rest here), particularly powerhouses like Ikea and Pantone, but also fashion and beauty brands like Acne Studios, Aesop and Nars. I also would love to read about issues that they have done on cities like Seoul and Berlin - what a unique perspective to see how a city has shaped itself as a brand! 

Be right back while I load up my shopping cart (so much for that library card).

Check out Magazine B here and find your nearest stockist here.

If you have any book/magazine/web/podcast recommendations, please share in the comments below!
Balmoral Beach, Sydney

. 25 April 2018 .

Sunday 26 March 2017, 6.30pm 

A spontaneous 20-minute drive to Balmoral Beach to catch the sunset, after over eight months of travelling overseas and not being by the Aussie water. 

By 7.30pm, back at home and meal-prepping for the week ahead.

I would say that the turning point of my life (well, the first one) occurred sometime between 2015 and 2016. 

Prior to 2015, I went through days and months where I felt deeply unhappy about myself, my life and everything around me. There were days when I would remain completely sedentary, lying in bed, doing nothing. I had decided to take some time off university because I constantly felt stressed about studying, and socialising with my classmates felt like a chore. It felt like a stupid lazy move at the time. By that point, a few of my friends had already started working full-time...why would I want to extend my degree by another half a year? I was already behind.

Guess what, taking a gap year during university (I ended up deferring for another semester) was the best thing that I've ever done for myself. 
For the first time in my life, I focused on myself. Not in a selfish way. I listened to what I wanted, I learnt not to judge myself, I didn't tell myself off when things didn't go to plan. I took risks with friendships and my career, I travelled by myself for the first time. I moved out. I learnt to be single and to stop feeling sorry for myself. 

I never used to be spontaneous or go out by myself. But look at all the sunsets that I miss out on, just 20 minutes away from my doorstep, when I didn't take care of myself nor focus on growing myself!

So, I want to introduce the Power Series - a series reflecting on the power of designing our thoughts, actions and behaviour to live the 'best version of yourself'. 

I am by no means perfect. Soooo so far from it. Everyday I am still learning about myself and what I can do to live a happier, more fulfilling life. But through the C/M space, I would love to share with you guys (and also remind myself when the going gets tough) about what I've learnt so far through travelling, reading and looking after yourself.

What gives you power? Where does your power come from? I would love to know if there are any topics that you would like me to discuss in this series - leave me a message below!

Bath, UK

. 7 April 2018 .
I am excited to finally present another city guide on this blog (see other city guides here and here). Over a year has passed since I spent 6 months abroad in Europe. I was trying to cram in as much of Europe as I could before I had to leave, as I knew it would be a while before I could return again. Bath, UK was the very last city trip that I took before I headed back to Sydney.

I found Bath to be an easy, effortless trip from London. I spent a great day wandering around the town by myself, ticking off the major sights but also popping into shops for some last minute shopping. Even though I was alone, the day passed happily and quickly.

Main language spoken English / Currency British pounds / Best explored on foot

How to get there

Bath is located in southwest England, about an hour and a half train ride away from London. If you are travelling from London, the train is by far the quickest and easiest way of travelling to Bath. I caught the Great Western Railway and booked a ticket in advance via trainline. The return journey cost me 54 pounds (with a 16-25 Railcard).

You can also travel to Bath by bus - this is a much cheaper option but the journey will take twice as long. I also considered joining a sightseeing tour that combines Stonehenge with Bath, as Stonehenge is located only about an hour's drive away, but I was a bit over sightseeing and preferred to explore at my own leisurely pace.

How long to spend there

Because Bath is not a big town, I only spent the day there and was back in London at night to catch a last minute booking to Aladdin the musical. Leaving London at 10 am, I spent about 5 hours in Bath but didn't feel rushed.

Planning ahead

As this trip was a relatively spontaneous decision near the end of my time in Europe, I didn't do much planning before the day. I booked my train ticket online last minute (I prefer buying online than buying at the station on the day of). I had previously read about Bath in the Cereal online guides, however I did not prebook any tickets to any attractions nor carry out any further research. Bath is an easy town to wander around and explore.

After a quick breakfast and heading for the 10am train, the first thing I attended to in Bath was obviously to try out its coffee. Recommended by the Cereal Guide, I visited Colona & Small’s Speciality Coffee and took a corner seat to people watch while I sipped on a hot flat white.

The Roman Baths

Despite not wanting to do much sightseeing, I still wanted to tick off the world heritage site, the Roman Baths, off my bucket list. As I visited Bath on a weekday, I was able to buy a ticket to the Roman Baths (around 15 pounds) without having to queue up. The ticket comes with a free audioguide which was great for learning about the ancient thermal springs (that still flow with natural hot water today). My tip for visiting galleries and museums like these is to always get the audioguide. It truly enhances the experience when you get a better understanding of what you’re seeing.

Abbey Church Yard, Bath BA1 1LZ

The Bath Abbey is also located right next to the Roman Baths (although I didn't go inside to have a look).

Pulteney Bridge

I was extremely excited to visit Pulteney Bridge and the River Avon, as it was the filming location for Les Miserables when Javert falls into the Seine (#nerdalert). I decided to buy a takeaway salad and had lunch whilst sitting on a bench overlooking the River.

Along Pulteney Bridge is a row of shops and cafes (it reminded me of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence). One of them was a concept store called Found. I really enjoyed the shops in Bath, as many of them were homeware and concept stores such as Graham & Green and the more commercial but beautiful Anthropologie.

Bridge Street, Bath BA2 4AT

Enjoying my lunch next to the River Avon.

The main reason why I wanted to visit Bath was to admire the Georgian architecture. It’s so...English! In particular, I visited the Royal Crescent and the Circus (which are located near each other), both historical streets designed by prominent architect John Wood.

At one point I decided to walk down a private driveway and was greeted by this amazing view.

Walking back to the centre of Bath, I also visited the shops in and around the Corridor.

Hope you enjoyed this guide! Click here to read more travel posts.

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