Archive of ‘Weekends’ category

Playing catch up

Before I start feeling inexplicably guilty for not writing anything non-work related forever, let me start by saying hi. How’ve you been? I hope that those of you who do ocassionally find themselves on my blog haven’t missed me too much – in fact I’m pretty sure that the majority of you follow me on Twitter and are subjected to my word vomit on a daily basis. If you fall into either (or both) of those categories, then THANK YOU.

As I’ve been gone for a while, I figured I’d launch my new look blog with a little catch up.

February 2014

Back in February I spammed everyone who follows me on Instagram with photos from Hakkasan, where Charlie and I had our first ‘Dim Sum Sunday’ experience. We opted for the Signature menu (hello additional champagne and cocktails) and sat back as 6 equally beautiful and delicious courses were delivered to us. But February wasn’t all elegance – I also reverted back to my teenage years and went to see Taking Back Sunday at KOKO with some great friends and ended up in Burger King. So swings and roundabouts.

March 2014

March was particularly busy as Mum and I went to see Yoncé and Charlie and I celebrated our anniversary early. We like to go out and do something together rather than buying gifts we don’t really need, so I took him to see Book of Mormon and he treated me to dinner at Soho’s NOPI afterwards, which we both enjoyed, but felt lacked something in comparison to Ottolenghi in Islington. I also got to spend time with one of my dearest friends Elizabeth at the Martin Creed exhibition, where we giggled at fart boxes and danced around in a room filled with balloons.

April 2014

In April I went to Chatsworth House for the first time in years with my family. As beautiful as the house is, I could just as easily spend all day exploring the gardens. Back in London, I went to see one of my favourite bands Brand New at Troxy for the first time EVER. Don’t ask me why or how, but I’d never gotten around to seeing them before and I wasn’t about to miss them again. The gig was everything I had hoped for, although if you ever find yourself at Troxy you might want to drink a lot of water: it’s a stunning venue but the air con was non existent and I saw at least 5 girls hit the deck before Brand New even hit the stage.

I also took a trip to Leeds for the weekend to visit the girls I lived with at University and had THE BEST time. I’ve only been to Leeds on a handful of occasions but each time I’ve fallen more in love – does anyone else feel the same way? Like all great weekends away, my mini break revolved experiencing some of the best food and drink Leeds had to offer, including…

Leeds 2014

Red’s True Barbecue

As tempted as I was to try their infamous donut burger (yes, you read that correctly) I opted for a giant helping of the best pulled meat nachos I’ve ever had. If you like your meat with extra meat, GO. IMMEDIATELY.

The Alchemist

After stuffing my face at Red’s, I was in the mood for a strong beverage. My resident Leeds girl Zoe took me to The Alchemist, where you’ll find smoking cocktails, colour changing cocktails, glittering cocktails…my cocktail ‘A Night at the Movies’ even included popcorn!

The Botanist

Before I left Leeds, I got the chance to sample The Botanist’s deli style menu, which is perfectly suited to an afternoon of nibbles and drinks. The hanging kebabs looked delicious, the cocktails were great (despite slightly slow service) and the staff were extremely friendly.

May 2014

May was a blur of adventure, fun and excitement. Charlie and I went to Lisbon to stay with one of my oldest friends and had an amazing time. I wish we could have stayed for the whole month, but we had to get back to London for Charlie’s birthday surprise: Les Mis. I managed to hold it together until the interval but after One Day More, I basically cried throughout the entire second act. Towards the end of May, the nerves set in as I got ready to be photographed by Rankin! I joined 10 others who had also entered Hunger Magazine’s Selfie competition at the studio for a surreal afternoon of posing – Rankin even jumped in for a couple of fun photos. You can see the full winners shoot here and if you visit Hunger’s Tumblr, you’ll even see me in GIF form…

Rankin shoot

In June I discovered a handful of new pubs in the area thanks to Streatham Food Festival, which I only regretted slightly as I joined the inspirational Curvy Kate ladies for a photo shoot to promote their awesome new strapless bra – keep your eyes pealed for more news soon and look out for the Ultimate Uplift campaign…

June 2014

June was also the time for new tattoos. I’d wanted to get a tattooed by the immensely talented Rebecca Vincent at The Circle for a while, so when she announced a charity day for Sensory Leeds, I emailed her immediately. Now I have a beautiful tattoo AND I can feel good about the money going to such an important non-profit organisation. You might have seen my pinecone on Instagram recently as I’ve been documenting my #100happydays – I’m almost at the half way point and haven’t given up yet!

Trips & Tips: New York

So you’re off to New York. You’ve got your flights sorted and a list as long as your arm of all the typical tourist spots (and an even longer one for those “off the beaten track” places that friends have recommended), but you’re not sure where to stay, where to start, or what order to do them in. These are just a few tips that were passed onto me before my NYC adventure, plus a few I discovered for myself along the way.

Stay with Airbnb
I couldn’t recommend Airbnb any higher – I even wrote a review about it over at The High Tea Cast which you should totally read.

Get a New York Pass
If you’re heading to the big apple for 5 days or more, this is for you. It’s a great way to save money and get free entry attractions and/or queue jump at certain hot spots. The only downside is that you have to use it on consecutive days, but if you want to make your dollars go further and cram in as much as possible, it’s worth it.

Hire a bicycle
When you’ve been doing that slow ‘museum walk’ combined with looking up in awe all day, then trust me; every part of your body going to ache, particularly your lower back. Midway through our trip we hired a bicycle for the day from Blazing Saddles and it was the best thing we could have done! It gave us chance to really see the city in a new way (we picked ours up from the pier and rode up the Manhattan greenway to Central Park) PLUS you get a free 24 hour hire with your New York Pass (another example of how awesome the pass is).

Bike hire in New York

Network
Twitter is a fantastic resource for travelling – I stumbled across some great bars and restaurants by simply asking around. Think about it: most of us use Twitter every day for catching up with news stories and for recipe ideas etc, so why not utilise your ‘hive mind’ for tips on places to stay, eat and do stuff? If you’re already following someone who’s already been to New York (or even better, lives there) then chances are you’re going to enjoy what they recommend – otherwise you wouldn’t be following them.

Eat whatever you want
You’re on holiday. You’re staying in a city where every flavour imaginable is on your doorstep. I’m not saying eat yourself into a food coma (which I totally did, but hey, we’re all different) but if you’re on a diet, give yourself a break. Check out some of my favourite spots here!

Walk The High Line
The High Line is a disused freight rail that has been transformed into an aerial park, running along Manhattan’s West Side and ending in the Meat Packing District. It’s a beautiful and unique walk with benches along the way should you need to rest (or take in the view), a sun deck, and some great food vendors too!

The High Line in New York

Top of the Rock VS The Empire State Building
The trouble with the Empire State is that when you’re at the top of it, you can’t see it! The best advice I can give you is to visit the Rockefeller Center during the day – it’s less crowded, plus you’ll get a clearer view of New York – and go to The Empire State Building at night. As the last lift is at 1:15am, Charlie and I decided to go for dinner and drinks first – when we arrived around midnight we couldn’t believe our luck as we walked straight through! No 4 hour queues, no school trips, no screaming children, and a breath taking nightscape; yes, visiting one of the worlds busiest Observatory’s out of peak tourist hours definitely had it’s perks.

Top of the Rock in New York
Top of the rock view, New York
Empire State view at night
Empire State Building view

Harbour Cruise
I’m not a big boat fan, but somehow Charlie managed to convince me we should add a Circle Line River Cruise to our list and I’m so glad he did! We opted for the ‘romantic’ 2 hour sunset trip around the island which is timed to perfection – it was light on the way out, the sun went down as we reached Lady Liberty, and it was pitch black by the time we reached the pier. Perfect.

P.S Yet another freebie with your NYC Pass!

Circle Line River Cruise
New York river cruise

Homemade Halloween

Originally this was going to be a straight forward “How To…Make A Poison Ivy Costume” post, but I had an absolute nightmare creating it and so, I’ve decided against that title – it’s entirely my own fault for being so stubborn and envisaging such a high calibre costume!

This Halloween my fellow hosts and I decided to run with a Batman villain theme; we had Bane, Scarecrow, Cat Woman, Two Face, the Joker, the Penguin, Harley Quinn and Black Mask. After some deliberating, I opted to dress more along the lines of comic book Poison Ivy than Uma Thurman’s portrayal in Batman & Robin, which meant I either had to go naked or find a green strapless bodysuit/leotard. Let me tell you now – unless you want to spend a fortune, it’s basically an impossible task! I preferably wanted a corseted bodysuit that would hold everything in, but it proved difficult enough to find anything that was long enough in the body AND kept my boobs under control.

Poison Ivy costume, Bane costume
Poison Ivy and Scarecrow

After checking eBay and Amazon everyday for almost a month, I cast the net wider and hit up every possible shop Westfield had to offer on the hunt for anything that looked remotely flattering and cost less than £30; I even resorted to riffling through the Ann Summers sale. Five hours later, I admitted defeat and it was only by chance that I found a black lycra bodysuit for £12.99 in TKMAXX the next day. My long red wig came from eBay for £10.99 (and was worth every penny) as did my Emerald Stargazer lipstick (£3.35) and I found some reasonably priced artificial ivy on Amazon for £4.90. My green tights came in at £1.50 from trusty old Primark and I used superglue (£4) to attach the leaves. Be warned – I spent hours sewing on an under layer of green fabric (I used my apron from last years costume) and I had to kindly ask my boyfriend to glue the ivy on to the bodysuit whilst I was a. wearing it and b. lying down to stop gravity taking its toll on the glue! I finished off the costume with black ankle boots and a green cardigan from my wardrobe. The cardigan was a stroke of luck as not only hid the back of the bodysuit – which I neglected after realising the leaves were going to fall off every 5 minutes – but it kept me warm on a cold evening.

PURSE FRIENDLY TOTAL = £37.73

I also made a few more tasty themed treats this year. The ginger dead men made a welcome return, whilst the pumpkin shaped rice krispie marshmellow bites and graveyard chocolate cake proved popular with our ghoulish guests. Charlie and I wanted to display our guacamole and crisps in an inventive way, so we carved a lovely vomiting pumpkin and spread the dip over a chopping board!

gingerdead man
pumpkin rice krispie treats
graveyard cake
vomit pumpkin

Ten Lovely Things: Autumn

As friends and regular readers will know, autumn is my favourite time of year. The crisp air, the smell of bonfires, colourful leaves on a grey pavement, homemade soups and pies, layering with chunky cardigans, wearing knitted socks and boots…there’s something about this time of year that makes everything feel enchanted, like anything is possible.

If like me you’re currently feeling a little overwhelmed by the world, why not take a step back and pick something lovely to do from my autumnal list – I’m making it my mission to savour every moment.

things to do in autumn

Bake a pie
If you’re lucky enough to have the weekend off, why not bake a pie? Savoury or sweet, there’s nothing better than sitting down in front of a good movie with a thick slice of homemade pie and a pot of tea.

Put together a weather appropriate playlist
You know when you’re listening to music on your journey to work and light bursts through the trees at the perfect moment, or when the beat of a certain song matches your footfall and for a second everything feels awesome? That’s what your autumn playlist should sound like.

Put a pair of fresh pyjamas on the radiator for 10 minutes before putting them on
Mmmm, cosy pyjamas. Need I say anything else?

Write a letter to a friend
When everyone is running around like it’s the end of the world, it can be difficult to find time to see even your nearest and dearest. If you’re struggling to pin down your pals, set aside an hour in the evening and write to a friend you haven’t seen in a while; having an unexpected letter land on the doorstep can put a smile on someones face for the rest of the week.

Make a vat of soup
Whether my bones are aching, I’m suffering from a cold, or when I just fancy something for lunch that will warm my cockles, soup never fails to sooth me. Making your own is fun (and easy!) plus if you’re super organised, you can make a ton and take it into work with you; you’ll be the envy of all your colleagues AND you’ll save money too.

Find your nearest woodland/park and go for a walk
I can’t recommend this enough, especially if you don’t go to the gym very often or if your work requires you to sit down all day. Taking half an hour to stretch your legs, clear your head and get some fresh air will not only re-energise you, it will inspire you.

Turn off your computer and curl up with a good book
Even if you don’t work with computers, chances are you still spend far too much time staring at a flickering screen. Your laptop, your iPad, your phone, your television…turn it all off for an hour and get lost in a book instead – your brain will thank you for it.

Eat dinner by candlelight
I used to live in an area that was susceptible to power cuts in winter, which resulted in eating dinner by candlelight on more than one occasion. One time in particular, my housemates and I had just finished baking pastries when the lights went out and the TV fell silent; we ended up having a wonderful evening filled with conversation, wine and soft lighting! Instead of drifting into your usual dinnertime routine, turn out the lights, turn off the TV and light some candles – you might have fun! Make sure you have plenty of cheese and a good bottle of wine to give it that extra autumnal atmosphere.

Compile a list of things you’re thankful for
I know it sounds a bit soppy, but if the change in seasons has left you feeling lost at sea, the best thing you can do is focus on the positive anchors in your life. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and be honest with yourself – does your life really suck? List EVERYTHING that you’re grateful for, even the smallest details, like the ticket man who smiles at you in the morning, or the woman in the coffee shop who knows what you want without asking.

Treat yourself to some new socks
Nothing, I repeat, nothing, beats a new brand new pair of fluffy socks.

True Blood Halloween

Being a bit of a fang banger, I decided to go as a dead Merlottes girl this year (if you haven’t seen True Blood then the references I just made are pretty null and void – sorry!)

My outfit was fairly easy to make – to start, I used a cheap plain white t-shirt which I customised with an iron-on Merlottes Bar & Grill logo and added some mud and fake blood to give the dead waitress outfit a more authentic look. The black shorts came from my wardrobe and the apron began life as a piece of dark green material which I passed over to my friend Elizabeth who did the most fantastic job on her sewing machine! I purchased a waiting tray for £2 in a local shop, got myself a bottle of ‘O Negative’ from Forbidden Planet and wore a pair of white trainers.

True Blood waitress costume

For the injuries, I gave myself a black eye, bruised the opposite cheek bone and busted my lip as well as some bloody knees from falling and bruised knuckles from fighting back. My vampire bites were achieved by creating two small glue circles with a cotton bud, adding a little fake blood and some purple eyeshadow around the outside.

Bruise makeup

I also made my own Trick or Treat banners with some colourful card, string and a lot of patience as well as some zombie land biscuits for the ghoulish guests!

Halloween banners
zombie land biscuits

Brixton

When I first told my friends and family back home that I was moving to London and would be living a stones throw away from Brixton, their responses were mixed. The question I perhaps met most frequently was “But doesn’t Brixton have a bad reputation?” You may think that this is a fairly generic stance from someone living outside of London, however I’ve found more and more that a lot of people I meet here seem to have the same view.

For any faults the area might have, I love Brixton. It has gumption. You’ll experience diversity in age, race and sex just by taking a few steps. The market is a particularly fascinating example of what happens when cultures mesh – the food variety, the languages, even the fashion – it’s always growing and evolving. It is, unfortunately, becoming more hip even despite it’s shadows – there’s a notable influx in ‘trendy’ eateries and trendier cliental. If you’ve never been to Electric Avenue, I recommend you go now whilst it’s still holding onto it’s roots.

Brixton Market
Places to eat in Brixton
London market
Vegan cupcakes Brixton

Borough Market

After the Indian summer faded and the wind began to set in, last weekend felt truly autumnal – Saturday evening was almost bitterly cold.

Over the weekend I went to explore Borough Market with Charlie and his parents. I love food at this time of year; the deep colours of the vegetables, the comforting stews and soups with rustic bread, thick chunks of smoked cheeses, and that unmistakable smell of mulled wine. After elbowing our way through the hustle and bustle, we picked up some pieces for dinner, drank a little champagne, ate a huge pork and stuffing baguette, and saw the rest of the afternoon out in the pub. Perfection.

Borough Market
Borough Market mushrooms
Borough Market vegetables
Borough Market bread

Sundays

Most Sunday’s Charlie & I go on a ‘date’ – we take walks, go somewhere nice for lunch, explore new places, and generally make time for each other (are you throwing up yet?) This weekend our local pub Taylors held a pop-up Bring and Buy sale – with it’s relaxed atmosphere, good music and glorious cakes, how could I resist? We headed out early to catch the best bargains and dragged some friends along for the ride too, before heading back home to enjoy the glorious sunshine in our back garden. I LOVE Sundays!

Taylors, Streatham
Vintage and craft fair, Streatham
Pop up market, Streatham
Record fair
Vintage fair, Streatham

Weekends: My first weekend in London

For those of you who don’t know, last week I moved to a little place called London.

Exciting yes, but pretty scary for a girl who feels most at home amongst the Derbyshire Dales. Admittedly, I was a little dubious about my first week. How would I feel? Would I be home sick for the rolling hills? Would I burst into tears if one more person barged me on the tube? I didn’t have time to worry.

First, the boyfriends 25th birthday. A beautiful sunshine filled BBQ, with old fashioned lemonade & homemade cake (blue velvet this time round). Not stopping to catch my breath, myself and my best friend (other wise affectionately known as ‘the wife’) made an early start to the weekend at The Natural History Museum. We spent hours pulling faces at taxidermy and gazing at bones. Afterwards, we headed to the river and strolled along South Bank for lunch, walking towards the Tate Modern to meet the boy and his family for the Miro exhibition. In the evening, the whole gang went out for dinner at an amazing Italian in Tooting Bec, where we all ate and drank ourselves into a happy food coma.

Birthday cake
Natural History Museum, London
Natural History Museum's blue whale

Everything up to this point had been wonderful and I could have quite easily finished the week on a high. That is until I received a phone call from my housemate who works for The One Show. She tells me that the current Doctor, one Matt Smith, is being interviewed tomorrow…and would I like to go along? HELL YES! 110% awesomeness achieved! And so, I went. I drank wine in the green room, watched a live broadcast and met arguably one of the sweetest and most watched actors on the BBC right now. And he even signed my ridiculous vintage TARDIS money box. Bless him.

Doctor Who, Matt Smith

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