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    Friday, 26 January 2018

    10 THINGS I LEARNT IN BATH, SOMERSET

    It's been a fair old while since I shared a travel post with you (well over a year in fact!). But, the truth is...last year, a lot of my time was spent renovating our house, so I didn't really have any time for holidays!

    One place I did manage to sneak a girly weekend into though, was Bath. It's actually the first time I've ever visited, and after the success of my '10 things I learnt in Rome' post, I thought I'd share some of the things I noticed while wandering around this beautiful Somerset city.

    1. THE ROMAN BATHS ARE BEAUTIFUL...BUT ALSO KIND OF GROSS
    So, of course, I had to start this post (and my visit) with one of Bath's most famous attractions: The Roman Baths. They're located right in the middle of the city and for just £16.50, you can have access to this old historical site, exploring the spot where Roman men and women came to bathe thousands of years ago.

    They are incredibly stunning and the history is fascinating...just when you start thinking about it, it's also a bit grim. The Romans used to move from room to room within the building to 'prepare' before they were actually allowed in the main baths. This process essentially involved applying various ointments and scraping off dead skin...and also meant the bath water was a big old mix of oils and sweat. Nice.
    Roman Baths in Bath
    Roman Baths in Bath2. THE LIGHTING AT THE BATHS IS FANTASTIC 
    Despite the somewhat gross nature of what actually went on in the water itself, the lighting around the main bath is stunning and would make the best location for outfit photos! You really can't fault those Romans and their incredible architecture...
    Photo of me at Roman Baths
    3.THE TELEPHONE RECEPTION IS TERRIBLE
    One thing you can fault though is the lack of phone reception! Honestly, I had the WORST phone signal for the whole duration of our trip. I know it's a lot more 'out in the sticks' than London - but come on, it's still a city!

    The one positive I can take from the situation though - was the fact that I wasn't glued to my phone and actually enjoyed a bit of a digital detox!

    4. THEY KNOW HOW TO DECORATE FOR CHRISTMAS
    I absolutely fell in love with all the shop facades while we were in Bath. As well as having lots of Roman heritage, Bath is also famous for its Georgian architecture and the city is dotted with the most incredible stone buildings and town-houses.

    If you head down to George Street, you'll find the shopping quarter of the city. We were there just before Christmas and the whole street was brought to life with the most incredible wreaths and decorations. An Instagrammers dream!Christmas themed shop front
    5.  THE CHRISTMAS MARKET IS A BIT OF A DISAPPOINTMENT
    Don't get me wrong, it was nice enough....it just wasn't really what I was expecting. Maybe I was spoilt by the HUGE Christmas markets in Berlin, I just didn't feel there was much of a Christmas atmosphere here and it all felt a little cramped. If you've been to a European festive market, I probably wouldn't rush to come here - and maybe look at doing a trip in the warmer months instead.
    Stalls at Christmas market in Bath
    6. EVERYTHING IS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE
    Unlike London or Liverpool, Bath is really compact so everything is situated within walking distance and there's no need for hopping on buses or trains. It's a fab place to get your daily steps in as you go exploring and you can also uncover some hidden gems like the 'Corridor' shopping arcades that you'd usually miss!

    7. THE INTERIOR SHOPS ARE TO DIE FOR
    I could have spent a whole day just walking around the incredible interior shops in Bath! I'm like a magpie to anything home-ware related at the moment and some of the pieces were beautiful! I would love to have the eye and budget to create something like this in my own home. If I ever needed a reason to start playing the lottery...Furniture shop in Bath
    8. THEY MAKE A BLOODY GOOD BREAKFAST
    Well, The Boston Tea Party does anyway. There's a few of these dotted around the UK and I highly recommend stopping by for breakfast if you ever find yourself nearby.

    The menu is packed with delicious and ethically sourced dishes like the Eggs Royale (which is super pretty) and everybody's favourite full English breakfast. They also serve incredible coffee and it's situated right on the busy square so you can sit and watch the world go by. The perfect way to start your morning!
    Full English Breakfast in cafe
    Cup of coffee9. BATH HAS THE CUTEST LITTLE TEA SHOPS
    It's not only great coffee though, Bath also has some incredible tea rooms! The most famous is Betty Lunn's where you'll find the infamous Bath Bun. It's a hybrid brioche/bun which you top with delicious butters, jams and spreads (a bit like a scone). But there's plenty of other tea rooms dotted around if you don't want to queue. We loved the Gerogian Tearoom which is just a short walk from the Roman bath and is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch and cake!Prawn sandwich in tea shop
    10. IT'S ACTUALLY A LOT LIKE THE VILLAGE WHERE I LIVE
    One of the surprising things I discovered in Bath, was how similar it was to the little village where I live and it made me realise how lucky I am to live here! I absolutely adored Bath. I love how quaint it is and how much history it has hidden away on its cobbled streets. It's definitely one of my favourite UK cities and I'll definitely be planing another trip soon!

    Have you ever been to Bath? What are your favourite things to do?

    Wednesday, 24 January 2018

    7 TIPS FOR NAILING THE PERFECT WEDDING GUEST OUTFIT

    I'm officially at that age where all my friends are either getting engaged or married - and 2018 shows no signs of letting up as I've already got two weddings on the horizon this summer.

    I remember the first wedding I went to was a bit of a panic of what to wear so to take the stress out of your outfit planning, I've put together a couple of tips on how to nail the perfect wedding guest outfit.
    Bottles of champagne
    WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
    I can't stress this one enough! Weddings always turn out to be super long days (in the best possible way) and often involve lots of standing up and moving from area to area, so you really want to wear something you can walk in!

    I always find wedges to be your safest bet. You can stand (and dance) in them for a lot longer and you also won't risk the sheer embarrassment of getting your heel stuck in the grass!

    Some of my friend's had flip-flops for all the girls to change into in the evening which was a genius idea - but if this isn't an option where you're going, you could always take your own!

    DON'T WEAR WHITE, CREAM OR IVORY
    Bit of a no-brainer, no? Just don't be that person - and definitely, don't try to upstage the bride!

    Pastel colours tend to be the most popular options for weddings but I think bright colours can work for summer weddings if you keep your accessories simple. You could even wear black and style it up with a bright bag and jewellery (just choose to do one or the other!).
    Two girls in formal dresses
    FIND OUT WHAT THE BRIDESMAID ARE WEARING
    Because there's nothing more awkward than turning up looking like you want to be part of the crew! I'd say try to avoid anything in a similiar style and colour to be on the safe side!

    SHOP VINTAGE OR SMALLER BOUTIQUES
    In the same vein as the last tip, try to search for outfits where others won't be shopping. If you buy a new dress from somewhere on the high street - chances are someone else is going to be wearing it!

    Depop is a great place to look for dresses. I've bought loads of outfits from designers such as The Dollshouse for a fraction of the price - and you can also sell your dress on once you've worn it.

    There's also the higher end of the high-street, places like Coast, Reiss and Ghost all have incredible evening wear which feels a little more premium - ideal for weddings.
    Girl wearing wedding guest outfit
    POWDER AND WATERPROOF MASCARA ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS
    Once you've got your outfit sorted, don't let your make-up let you down! I'm a cryer so waterproof mascara is an essential for me - I promise watching one of your besties walk down the aisle to emotional music will break even the stoniest of hearts! It's also worth packing powder and lipstick in your handbag so you can stay topped up through-out the day.

    OH....AND BEWARE INSTANT TAN
    The last, but by no means least important, tip I leave with you is to invest in a spray-tan! If you're planning to wear fake tan to a wedding, do not wear instant. One of my friend's got married on the hottest day of the year last year and I had to endure the tan on my legs streaking due to the extreme heat (so attractive!). Do yourself a favour, learn from my mistake, and book yourself a sray tan instead!

    Hopefully you'll have found some of these tips helpful when you come to planning your next wedding guest outfit! Do you have any tips to add to the list? Leave them in the comments below!


    * This is a collaborative post 

    Friday, 19 January 2018

    TIPS FOR SURVIVING DRY JANUARY

    Is it just me or does it feel like January is never going to end?

    I’m not sure if it’s because I got paid early and am now skint from Christmas or because we’re all a little depressed with our new fitness and healthy eating regimes… there’s just something about the first month of the year which seems to drag on. Oh and you guys taking part in Dry January or Veganuary...I'm sure it probably feels even longer for you lot!

    Now, the concept of Dry January I can absolutely get behind. Not only is it a good way to kick off a new health kick, save a little money and help you re-address how much you’re drinking – it also helps spread awareness for a charity I hold close to my heart: Alcohol Concern.
    They kick-started the initiative back in 2014 and I took part last year to help raise for the charity. It was a really interesting experience and I learnt some great tips on my journey so if you are doing Dry January this year and you’re starting to struggle – don’t fear, because I’ve teamed up with Fentimans share my wisdom and help see you through the final few weeks.
    TAKE YOUR OWN DRINKS TO SOCIAL EVENTS 
    I honestly remember the hardest thing about doing Dry January was the lack of options for non-drinks at social events. No matter how much you love your friends, or how much they love you, you can not rely on them to provide adequate alcohol-free alternatives at events/parties/sleepovers (unless you really like drinking water or squash).

    The safest and easiest way to avoid being tempted into drinking is to drive to said event (so you physically have no choice but to abstain) but to also take something a little more interesting to drink.

    TRY ALCOHOL-FREE ALTERNATIVES
    Which leads my neatly onto my next point. There's so many great alcohol-free versions out there which taste almost exactly the same as their alcoholic counterparts. Becks Blue is great for beer drinkers and Tesco recently launched a low alcohol wine range which is great.

    I also find Ginger Beer (the Fentemans one is delicious!) or Tonic/Soda and Lime are great options as people will automatically assume you're drinking alcohol, which helps to ward off all the questions about not drinking or people trying to tempt you!

    EXPERIMENT WITH NEW FLAVOURS AND DRINKS
    If you try to survive Dry January just drinking water and orange squash, I promise you won't survive for very long. But if you mix things up a little, like experimenting with your favourite flavours in mocktails, it'll make the whole experience a lot of more enjoyable.

    Fentimans was an absolute crutch for me on my Dry January journey last year. You might remember the old green glass bottles? Well they’ve had a complete revamp so all of the 125ml bottles in the range now feature clear glass, making them feel much more sophisticated....and you definitely won't feel like a wolly turning up to a party with a few bottles in tow.

    All the drinks have their own unique flavour which makes them great for drinking on their own or for mocktail making. I've got a fabulous Rose Lemonade version which I'll be sharing with you at the bottom of this post which I know you're going to love!
    Ingredients for cocktail
    FIND NEW WAYS TO SOCIALISE WITH FRIENDS
    I don’t know about you but every activity I seem to do with my mates either involves alcohol or food! Use this opportunity to do something different with your friends for once. Go to the cinema or take up a new class. You’ll surprise yourself at how little you miss drinking and also much you don’t need it to have a good time.

    TAKE STOCK OF WHAT YOU’VE ACTUALLY ACHIEVED
    If you've gotten to this point in the month without drinking, hopefully by now you'll have started to notice positive changes in your mind and body (improved sleep and more energy, anyone?) but there’s also lots of other changes to make note of.

    The Alcohol Concern app is a really great tool for staying motivated – especially as you’re nearing the end of your journey. You basically input how much you’d normally drink and it gives you updates on how much money and calories you'd have saved over the course of the month - it's actually insane to think about how many empty calories we consume through drinking!

    ENJOY A FABULOUS MOCKTAIL
    Now I bet you’ve been waiting for that recipe I promised you right? Fentimans has created a delicious mocktail in aid of Dry January so I wanted to re-create it and share it with you guys. It's super simple but incredibly delicious.

    All you need is a bottle of Fentimans Rose Lemonade and 20ml of Elderflower Syrup (I used House of Broughton). Pour the two over some ice, give it a stir and garnish with some mint. Voila - the perfect, refreshing drink to see you though the rest of the month!
    Pink cocktail in glass
    If you’re considering tackling Dry January next year, you can find plenty of information on the Alcohol Concern website and don’t forget to add fundraising to your efforts! The Fentimans website is also packed with loads of delicious drinks inspiration and you can buy their delicious drinks from any of the major retailers.

    * This post was sponsored by Fentimans

    Monday, 15 January 2018

    INTERACTIVE EATING AT HOT POT, SOHO

    There's been a fair few pizza recommendations on this blog recently - and while I know you guys love a good pizza place - I thought it was time to show you something new. Something completely different in-fact! It's called Hot Pot and I have a feeling you guys are going to love it!

    Now don’t be fooled, I’m not talking about Betty's Lancashire Hot Pot here...no, no - this is Hot Pot or 'Hou Guo', a traditional broth-based cooking experience which originated in Asia - and it's SO much fun!

    You'll find the restaurant tucked away under the glittering gateway to China Town on Wardour Street in Soho. Chinatown in Soho London
    The restaurant has a really intimate yet relaxed vibe complete with lots of dark wooden panelling, polished brass lighting and hints of traditional red dotted through-out.
    red dining table
    At every table you'll find an electric hot-plate...which is where the magic happens.

    I'd never tried Hot Pot before but the concept is really simple. You start by choosing from the selection of eight highly flavoured broths...
    menu for hotpot soho
    You then pick your fresh ingredients to help add even more depth. You'll definitely want to start with some of the luscious veggies like cabbage, mushroom and lotus root to help bulk your broth out...basket of mushrooms
    and there's a selection of meats including steak, free-range chicken and cuts of pork...
    platter of meatplus the most incredible fresh seafood.
    Platter of seafood
    This platter was actually my favourite. A whole array of seafood presented on crushed ice with everything from razor clams and scallops through to fillets of salmon and skewered prawns.
    platter of seafood
    All you need to do to get cooking is fire up the Hot Pot, bring your broth to the boil and start adding in your ingredients according to the cooking times provided...
    Menu with instructions for hotpot
    The beauty of the Hot Pot is, the more ingredient that you add, the more flavourful your broth becomes!

    We decided to try two different broths, the 'Tom Yum' - a spicy hot & sour soup and the 'Thai Green Curry'. The Tom Yum is a deliciously spicy option which is great for chilli lovers - it's not too hot (like the fiery Mala version) but is balanced out with lemongrass, lime and coriander. I'd say this was my favourite.

    The Thai Green Curry was also delicious. Our waitress explained this broth is very popular with Western customers and for good reason too - it's fairly mild but packs in the most incredible flavour which only intensifies as you add more ingredients to your broth.
    chinese hotpot in bowl
    The other important element of the Hot Pot is the dipping station, where you can create your own sauces to help flavour your meats.
    dipping sauce station
    It's all very DIY so you can either recreate the 'house' sauces by following their suggested recipes or use the ingredients to mix up creations of your own...fresh chillisThe other thing I loved about Hot Pot was how incredibly healthy it is. All the broths are cooked fresh every single day using a variety of over 50 ingredients and all the food is boiled rather than fried so there's no sneaky oils being added to your dinner. You can also re-fill your broth as many times as you like making it incredibly good value (although bear in mind that it is deceptively filling!)
    using chopsticks to eat hotpot
    Overall we loved Hot Pot. It's a really fun, social way to eat so I'd definitely recommend it for groups of friends or even for dates if you're looking for a unique experience (and it would definitely help break the ice!). They're open seven days a week from 12pm till late and unlike a lot of places in Soho - you can book!

    Hot Pot Restaurant
    17 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PJ

     * We were invited to review Hot Pot

    Tuesday, 9 January 2018

    CHEAP EATS AT PIZZA UNION, DALSTON

    I love a fancy restaurant as much as anyone - but do you know what really excites me? Finding brilliant value restaurants which serve incredible food without breaking the bank! And that's exactly what I found with this next place....

    Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce you to (arguably) the best value pizza in London at Pizza Union. 
    Tables and Chairs Inside Pizza Union in Dalston
    For a lot of people, Pizza Union probably doesn't need an introduction. They've now got four venues across London (in Spitalfields, Kings Cross, Aldgate and the newly opened Dalston) and they pride themselves on serving up super-fresh, hand-made pizzas in all of about three minutes...

    And the best bit? You can order yourself an absolute feast AND it's cheap as chips! Girl sitting in pizza restaurant
    Now I'd never been to Pizza Union before so when we popped down to the newly opened Dalston restaurant, I have to say I was SO impressed! 

    The restaurant is HUGE, seating up to 120 people while still maintaining a really laid-back and relaxed vibe. It's laid out almost canteen-style with exposed brickwork, Victorian tiles and incredible industrial-style lighting hanging above every table (not to mention all the red neon signage up on the walls). 

    Deep house blasts out the speakers as you eat which helps draw in the crowds and makes it a really lively choice for somewhere to eat after work or on the weekend. tables at Pizza Union restaurant
    You order both your food and drink at the bar (the frozen margharitas are delicious!) where you're given a buzzer to bring back to your table. Giving you just enough time for a couple of sips of your drink before your food is ready to collect...
    Two glasses of coca cola
    Seriously...within 3-4 minutes of placing your order, your freshly cooked pizza is ready and waiting for you at the collection point. 
    Neon Sign in Pizza Restaurant
    All the pizzas are hand-crafted and cooked in true Italian style (thin and crispy) in the giant clay pizza oven which takes pride of place in the open-plan kitchen.

    My favourite is the Romana (£6.50) which comes topped with generous chunks of creamy goats cheese, crispy pancetta and my absolute favourite, Tenderstem broccoli. Broccoli is such an under-rated vegetable and I love using it in pasta dishes so it was fab to see it on the menu here!
    Selection of pizzas and salad
    If you prefer spicy - definitely go for the Vesuvio (£5.50). Loaded with slices of pepperoni, thinly sliced red and yellow peppers and tons of chilli - it packs just the right amount of heat and is an absolute steal for just over a fiver!
    Selection of pizzas and salad
    You can also order salads which are great for sharing (the Antica with rocket, tomato and parmesan was delicious) - because life is all about balance right?
    Selection of pizzas and salad
    TRY to save room for dessert if you can. There's only one option on the menu but the 'dolce' is well worth an order...Nutella dough ring
    It's basically a warm dough ring stuffed to the brim with creamy mascapone and Nutella - and believe me when I tell you it's incredible! 

    Taste-wise, it's not dissimilar to the incredible filled crepes you get in Paris or Amsterdam and is just the perfect way to round off the meal. It's a lot crisper on the outside than you'd initially expect but once you break through, the inside is filled with hot, molten chocolate. It's incredibly rich and decadent so order one to share between you. 
    Nutella dough ring with icing sugar
    Overall we loved Pizza Union. The laid-back atmosphere and lively soundtrack make it the ideal place to catch up with your mates - and besides...anywhere you can get pizza for under £5 is a winner in my eyes!

    Pizza Union Dalston
    14 Kingsland High Street, E8 2JE

    * I was invited to review Pizza Union
    Pizza Union Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato