In a new series featuring some of my favourite travel, food and interiors writers, photographers, and style conscious travellers, I set out to uncover some of their best discoveries and travel tips both at home and away. For this first instalment I thought I would kick things off by answering personally so you can get to know me a little better.
BIO: I’m Helen Ray and I write the blog you are reading right now, Lost Weekends. With a passion for documenting travel through writing and photography and a love of eclectic interiors, stylish stays and dreamy dining destinations, I like to share all of my favourite finds so that others can enjoy them too.
WHERE IS HOME FOR YOU? Originally Newcastle Upon Tyne, that will always be home in my heart, but I’ve lived in London now for 10 years so home for me is Teddington, in outer, South West London.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD? The proximity to the river and the park. A few minutes in one direction I can be strolling along a very scenic stretch of the Thames and a few minutes the other way I can be walking through Bushy Park surrounded by wild deer. I love having the buzz of London on the doorstep but then coming home to an area that feels calm and green.
ANY LOCAL GEMS? Sidra do the most incredible Syrian/Lebanese chicken wraps at lunchtime, they are seriously addictive and the queues speak for themselves! Prem restaurant do the best Indian and Bangladeshi take out curries for miles around. A walk through Bushy Park will bring you out at Hampton Court Palace, some of the grounds are free to enter and the rose garden makes a lovely reading spot in Spring/Summer. My fave local shops for homewares and gifts are Mitzi B, The Collecterie and Attic.
WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT IN THE UK? At home in the North East it has to be Rileys Fish Shack for delicious seafood cooked over hot coals on the beach at Tynemouth and The Patricia, a sweet little neighbourhood bistro in the leafy suburb of Jesmond serving up delicious small plates and incredible Sunday roasts. In London Berber & Q Grill House, found in an old railway arch in Haggerston, for Middle Eastern smoked meats, mezze, pickles and pitta. Lina Stores Restaurant in Soho for authentic, fresh pasta. Pizza East for the best pizzas in London and Hawksmoor for the best steak in the world!
WHERE WOULD YOU CHOSE TO EAT YOUR LAST SUPPER AND WHAT WOULD YOU ORDER? Hawksmoor, without a doubt. I would order the fillet steak with mashed potato and gravy and a side of creamed spinach, heaven!
WHICH WAS YOUR BEST EVER UK HOTEL/ACCOMMODATION AND WHAT MADE IT SPECIAL? I loved our stay at The Beckford Arms in Tisbury, Wiltshire. it’s a special place, very welcoming, super cosy, lovely rooms, delicious food and the wonderful surrounding estate was the perfect setting for a walk after breakfast.(Link to blog)
WHICK UK HOTEL/ACCOMMODATION IS ON YOUR LUST LIST? My list is ever growing! I think UK trips are so underrated. I really want to stay at Middleton Lodge in North Yorkshire, Hesleyside Huts in Northumberland and Old-Lands in Monmouthshire.
WHICH WAS YOUR BEST EVER EUROPEAN HOTEL/ACCOMMODATION AND WHAT MADE IT SPECIAL? When doing city breaks in Europe we don’t often splurge on fancy hotel rooms, knowing full well that we’ll be spending little time in the room and most of the day (and night) out exploring. We just got back from Barcelona and stayed at Hotel Praktik Bakery. Here the rooms were tastefully designed, excellent value and the best part, built within a bakery so every morning you were greeted with the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries in the lobby. The location was pretty perfect too so it ticked a lot of boxes.
BEST EVER AIR BNB EXPERIENCE? For my birthday last year we rented a fisherman’s cottage in Whitstable with some friends. On the first night we had fish and chips by candlelight and drank champagne around the open fire to celebrate. It was the perfect little seaside abode with the comfiest of beds. (Link to blog)
A SPECIAL TRAVEL MEMORY? Arriving on the magical island of Il De Re on the West coast of France to a neon pink sky and watching the huge thunder and lightning storm that ensued.(Link to blog)
WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE? A Hip water bottle, they are great because the flatter, hip flask shape make them so much easier to pack into handbags and luggage when travelling around. De Mamiel Altitude Oil is amazing for plane and train journeys and even for taking the Tube around London. Dab a little around the nasal passage and it helps to purify the air as you inhale as well as preventing air born bacteria from getting up your nose, perfect for confined spaces with air con systems. Chantecaille lip chic in Hyacinth, more hydrating than any lip balm with a subtle hint of glossy pink colour, I never leave home without it!
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING ON YOUR TRAVELS? This Is Going To Hurt, by Adam Kay. The secret diaries of a junior doctor. I bought it at Newcastle train station and it’s an easy one to dip in and out of while travelling as it’s written as a series of diary entries. The author has a brilliantly dry sense of humour and it’s a surprisingly educational read which shines a light on what it’s really like to work in the NHS.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY LISTENING TO ON YOUR TRAVELS? I never tire of listening to Rhye, London Grammar, Jungle and Agnes Obel and have recently been enjoying the podcast Twin perspective by bloggers Twins That Travel.
WHAT IS THE BEST SOUVENIR YOU HAVE BROUGHT HOME FROM A TRIP? I am always on the lookout for glassware and ceramics while on holiday. I love to own interesting pieces with a little travel tale attached to them. Amongst some of my favourites is a mug by Wonki Ware, a South African pottery brand that I picked up in a concept store in Malmo and some white ceramic bowls with fish tails that I brought back from a lovely shop in Amsterdam.