Tag Archives: curio

Travels: Zanzibar

1 Apr

Continuing on from my previous travels post, I’ve got a bit to share with you from my trip to Zanzibar. I spent a week on the island, starting with 2 nights at Mbweni Ruins hotel, 2 nights at Chumbe Island Coral Reserve and 2 nights at Warere Town House in Stone Town.

This was my first experience of ‘proper’ Africa (it was very different to Morocco and South Africa with their strong connections to European culture). The prices of the resorts we stayed at were heavily inflated, and Stone Town was the other extreme – we stayed at a backpackers guest house with daily power cuts and no back up generator.

The highs were beautiful sunsets and warm waters, but the lows were tourist-savvy locals, polluted beaches and mediocre resorts at high prices.

Stone Town is a UNESCO world heritage site and did have it’s own cultural beauty, but it isn’t being maintained even with tourism bringing in a large amount of the island’s income. I loved walking around the House of Wonders – a Sultan’s home (the first to have running water and lifts) – now a “museum” in a loose sense of the term; I was the only visitor at the time, nearly all the exhibits were shut and there was a thick layer of dust on the bannister as I walked up the grand, ornately carved, mahogany staircase. The whole experience had some odd charm about it.

I also fell for the handful of Aladdin’s cave style Curio’s – even if I was sneezing every couple of minutes. I am a sucker for a broken 19th century timepiece and empty food/cigarette tins with their lovely vintage typography and imagery.

kilimanjaroFlying from Nairobi to Zanzibar we got an epic view of Mount Kilimanjaro

beach umbrella sunsetBeach Sunset at Mbweni Ruins Hotel

way to chum beOn the way to Chumbe Island

chumbe arrival lighthouse

Arrival to Chumbe Island (it really reminded me of the Lost Island!)

DSC09609Inside our Eco-bungalow

bungalowsEco-Bungalows

forodhani sunsetSunset from Forodhani Gardens, Stone Town

turtlesSeriously cute turtles at Jozeni Turtle Reserve

jozeni monkeyAnd cute monkeys at Jozeni Forest

stone townStreets of Stone Town – beautiful carvings

zanzibar doorOne of Stone Towns ornately carved doors – and me in my Traveller gear!

Curio StonetownAn amazing old till (and old divers helmet to the right of it!) in one of Stone Town’s Curio’s.

I’d definitely recommend a short visit to Zanzibar alongside a safari, but don’t go out of your way to get there.

Have you been to Zanzibar? Do you agree with my overall perception? Let me know in the comments section.

LDNshopaholic xxx

The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios

27 Feb

I feel a shopping blog post is well overdue, so today I’ll be blogging about one of my favourite places in the whole world, The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. It’s a bit of a trek from London, I know, but well worth it and you can visit the beautiful Cotswolds while you’re at it (and there are loads of great charity shops in the area too!).

This unique little shop is full of weird and wonderful goodies, it’s got vintage, it’s got foreign, it’s got character AND it’s got tea, cake and sandwiches! What more could anyone want?

Enticing you in, the shop window has all sorts of eccentric items on display from cake stands to vintage fabric and leather goods. Stepping into the store you’re greeted by an array of cushions, knick-knacks, clothing and memorabilia.

For those curious (pardon the pun) about what exactly a curios is… the definition of a curio is: A strange and interesting object which invokes curiosity or something (as a decorative object)considered novel, rare, or bizarre. So my understanding of a curios is the either: more than one curio, or a place where curios are kept.

As you can see it’s a bit of a treasure trove! In their glove basket I found some really cute brown sheepskin mittens for £7.50, a bargain compared to ASOS’s pair (£36 now £21).

The cabinets display beautiful ornaments and jewellery, I particularly liked some art deco drop earrings priced at £20, and the soldier bottle opener made me smile.

They have a good selection of vintage pearls (my personal favourite), and also stock kooky vintage/retro glasses (the ones below are £50, a little steep, but cheap compared to a designer pair).

They also have various pieces of vintage clothing, from a pink coat with a leopard print trim and baby blue lace cape to Victorian nightdresses and Indian sari’s. I’d say prices equal London vintage shops, but here you’re getting a unique shopping experience to go with.

What tops it off for me is the ambience. There’s 40’s music playing, each table and chair is different and unique, as is the crockery (their collection of teapots is unbelievable!). I feel like I’ve been whisked off to another era, where factories don’t exist and craftsmanship does. It’s cosy, homely and… fabulous!

We ended our visit with a pot of tea for two and a slice of cherry shortbread. We were so keen that I forgot to take a before picture, so here’s the after! An afternoon of fun for only £5.60, not often you get that nowadays!

Want to visit The Harlequin Tea Room and Curios? You can find it at 270 Cheltenham High Street (near-ish The Brewery). You can contact them on 01242 252 933 if you are looking for a particular Curio, or just want to know their opening hours.