Sunset in Paros

Time to unwind and pop that bottle of wine open!

Paros – 2016

Sunset in Paros

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Giant mushrooms

Some interesting landscaping in the Cotswolds.

Painswick – 2017

Painswick church trees

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Blogging while working full-time

I wish I could tell you that I am living off my blog, going on press trips around the world and getting a free handbag ever 6 weeks. The reality is far from this, I do work a full-time job in central London. I commute each day for a little less than two hours, and so far I have made just short of three dollars with my blog. I guess you have to start somewhere, right?

So how do I manage to be in an office from 9 to 5, commute for 2 hours and yet still write three blog posts a week and sometime even produce and edit videos?

I listed below a few tips I have learned over the past 18 months of blogging.

Claire Imaginarium travel blog

Always think content

Pay more attention to the ‘everyday little wonders’. You went to a great local Italian restaurant? Boom, content! You bought that new face wash that changed your skin? Content again!

No need for fancy trips to The Seychelles, all you need is to be a little more aware of your surroundings and what you use/do/like that could easily make for a 500-words post and 2 pictures.

Have an editorial schedule

This is a great time saver for me, I have an editorial schedule for the next 3 months. Of course it can change at the last minute, but having those blog post ideas lined up means that you won’t have a panic attack not knowing what to write about 2 hours before your publishing time.

I also make sure that my schedule is in sync with the season and trends, for instance, I shared my guide to the Greek islands when it was peak season there, knowing that tourists would be googling for addresses and recommendations.

Dedicate time

Working from 9 to 5, then going home and spending another 3 hours on your computer can be pretty daunting. I therefore identified time slots I always dedicate to the blog. The structure helps me feel less overwhelmed.

I spend about 3 hours every Sunday morning on the blog, most of my lunch breaks and a few hours a couple of evenings each week. All in all, it adds up to 10 hours which is enough to write content and take pictures. Once a month, when I am editing a video, I sacrifice either a couple of evenings or a full Saturday or Sunday.

Schedule in advance

The scheduling functionality is my best friend on WordPress! I schedule most posts in advance, sometime days ahead, sometime only a few hours ahead. This is a game changer when you work full-time, so you know that your content is going up even if you are stuck in a meeting. All you then have to worry about is to Instagram, Tweet, Pin, and share your content on social media which will take you about 10 minutes.

Get a mentor

Last but not least! Get a blog mentor! Someone who has been there and done it! I find it very helpful through a dry spell to chat to someone who knows how it feels. It’s also the best way to improve your blogger skills, for instance I had never heard of Domain Authority until Alex Better Together took the time to explain it to me!

Here you go guys, here are my few tips to help you juggle work and well… (more fun) work!

Claire Imaginarium interior blog

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Bourton-on-the-Water river

Walk along the river, just go with the flow.

Bourton-on-the-Water – 2017

Bourton-on-the-Water river

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Little Cotswold house

It doesn’t get much more quaint than this.

Kingham – 2017

Little house in Kingham

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Tsukiji fish market – Tokyo, Japan

Today’s blog won’t be very pretty to look at, mostly if you are vegetarian! I am taking you to Tsukiji market, Tokyo’s fish market. This is one of the main sights to visit when in Japan. What I didn’t expect though is that it would look rather rough and like a slaughter house (well it is really). I guess when you think of Japan, you expect everything to be modern and super clean, Tsukiji market is at the other end of the scale, messy, busy and wonderfully authentic.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

A good tip before we start our visit, we read everywhere that we needed to be there super early to see the fish coming in , the tuna auctions, etc. However, it happens that the market was closed to tourists until 10/11am… Indeed, we were asked not to enter the main hall until then. So don’t sacrifice your hours of sleep, yes it will be less busy by the time you get in, but you will still see and experience the atmosphere.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

We arrived in the area early and once we realised that we wouldn’t be let in, we decided to walk and explore the streets around which are full of consumers markets (as opposed to Tsukiji main market which is mainly for businesses).

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

Once a little tired of walking, we headed back to the main area where you can find plenty of sushi restaurants. Some are very popular, some only have set menu options, so we settled for Sushi Dokoro Yamazaki which offers a great ‘à la carte’ option. Unfortunately, I have a very severe allergy to raw salmon so I couldn’t risk to eat any sushi, so Andrew was the only one eating, and at 10 am he wasn’t feeling like eating an entire platter on his own. Sushi Dokoro Yamazaki was perfect for us as I could sip on a miso soup and some tea while Andrew was eating a small serving.

Sushi Dokoro YamazakiSushi Dokoro Yamazaki

Finally, it was time for us to enter the main hall. It is very easy to find your way in, follow the flow of tourists who are following a guard and you will get in. Note that people at the market are here to work, and they will very directly let you know if you are annoying them or on their way. I have never been honked at that much in my life! Should I be flattered?

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

The scenes inside are very ‘real’ maybe a little too much for some. Sometime you forget that there was a very alive giant tuna behind that little California roll…

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

Embrace the atmosphere, and accept it, don’t fight it. It is like looking at the food chain in the eyes.

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

It is good sometime to just see the process behind some of our food, so that we are all a little bit more appreciative and mindful when eating.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

We came out smelling of fish, a little less hungry than usual and in need of a bit of fresh air, but overall very happy to have seen this side of Japan!

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The Wild Rabbit

Autumnal decorations at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham. Now pass me a glass of mulled wine and a book, and I will be spending my afternoon there!

Kingham – 2017

The Wild Rabbit in Kingham

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Kingham cemetery

I can see why people would pick this place for eternity.

Kingham – 2017

Kingham cemetery

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Hélène Darroze at The Connaught – London

This is my first London blog post! A very special moment after seven years living in this city, and maybe the beginning of some London content sharing. Let me know if that is something you would be interested in!

For this special occasion, I picked a very special place to share with you, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. Not just any restaurant, a two Michelin stars restaurant! Hélène Darroze is a very famous French chef. She is coming from a chefs’ family and began her career working for Alain Ducasse. She worked in Paris, Monaco and now London.

The Connaught is a very luxurious hotel, so be aware that the dress code is a little more elegant and I would recommend you avoid jeans and trainers when visiting.

Being a few weeks away from Christmas, we didn’t enter a regular hotel’s lobby but a real winter wonderland!

****note that I took all pictures with my iPhone 6S so the quality is not as great as the usual Sony Nex 5****

The Connaught Christmas decoration London

The staircase in particular was amazingly decorated!

The Connaught Christmas decoration London

Eating at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught is not only a culinary experience, it is also a brain exercise! You will be invited to take part into the experience, first by playing a game – the ‘what should I have for diner tonight?’ game.

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One of the most difficult choice I had to make in a restaurant! Leave what you want on the tray, remove the marbles you are not interested in, then look at the waiter organising the marbles in the order the dishes will be served to you.

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Andrew and I both went for the seven courses option, in my case I picked the grouse, the eel, the foie gras, the halibut, the venison and two desert, the pineapple and the chocolate. A tip I have to share, seven courses was wayyyyy too much, retrospectively I should have gone for five. The portions are rather generous for a Michelin star restaurant and the mistake we made was to want it all instead of being more selective.

You are also given a more conventional menu to help you with decide.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught menu

And for the sake of transparency, here are the prices. Yes, this is a very expensive restaurant, a real treat, but it absolutely worth it, trust me!

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught menu

Once our choices made, the show started, and what a show it was! First we got served fresh bread, with a regular butter and a piment d’espelette butter, and the most delicious dry ham. So delicious that I made friend with our waitress (who was adorable by the way!) and she got me an extra serving!

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught bread butter and ham

The bread was followed by some ‘amuses bouche’ including a small foie gras pie and a potato churros. If the mains were to be as good as these, we were in for something very special.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught amuses bouches

The first dish I was served was the grouse in the form of a pie. the chunks of meat, foie gras and the light wiped cream all melted together to create the most satisfying autumnal flavours.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught grouse

Next, I was served the eel, which for greediness reasons, I completely forgot to photograph. I was too busy eating it, but trust me it was good! For those of you not familiar with eel it is very similar to white fish just a little meatier.

The eel was followed by the most filling of all dish, the foie gras. It was delicious and served with a puff pastry duck roll.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught foie gras

Another meat dish followed by another fish dish, the next one was halibut, melting in the mouth, what you would expect a good white fish to taste like. The buttery sauce was excellent!

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught halibut

The final savoury dish was probably one of my favourite too. The venison was served medium-rare as it should be (I am French so I don’t do well done). It was served with butternut squash cooked in four different ways. Flavours of winter.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught venison

At that point my stomach started to ache from being served too much goodness, but I  hate waste so I couldn’t bring myself to leave plates unfinished. Unfortunately we weren’t remotely done. Luckily what was to come was delicious and sweet.

First came the pineapple dessert which was by far my favourite.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught pineapple

It was followed by the chocolate dessert, which I liked less to be completely honest, probably because the pineapple was just so good and hard to compete with.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught chocolates

We ended the dinner with two last little ‘gourmandises’ before calling it a night.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught sweets

And when we thought it was all over the waiter came with one last treat for the road! We saved those for the following day and discovered some lovely canelés in there the following morning!

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught canelé

An amazing experience that taught us one thing, only order five dishes otherwise you will end in a food coma. It is hard to choose but hopefully this post will help you do so!

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Little Thatch

This is a little light, on a little house, in a little village.

Kingham – 2017

House light in Kingham

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