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Category Archives: cocktails

Five Friday Favourites #19

Dobble

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My friend Lucie came to stay last weekend and brought this highly addictive card game with her. It’s a really simple concept but is really fun to play and you can’t help but get really competitive…a definite for family gatherings!

Coffee and Tonic

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Yep, you read that correctly. Apparently the new hipster drink is a shot of espresso over ice topped up with tonic water. I was fully expecting to hate this but there is something really tasty and refreshing about the combination of the two drinks.

Rose Serum

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I received this Aromatica serum in a Birchbox and have been using it for about a week. It’s really lovely and hydrating and sinks in quickly. I wish it had a pump as it’s a bit of a pain tipping the gel-like liquid onto my hands but that’s the only criticism I have.

Red Shoes

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I love a red accessory and I have been slowly breaking in these red leather sandals my mum brought me back from Spain. They are smart enough for work and really comfortable but…they have dyed my feet red the first few times of wearing them!

Toronto

Finally, Ian and I have booked another holiday! We are off to Toronto and Niagara Falls for a week in October. I found a really good deal with BA and am really looking forward to my first visit to Canada,

Five Friday Favourites #17

Blood Brothers

It feels like ages ago that I booked these tickets for my parents’ Christmas present but the weekend finally rolled around to go and see this show in Bristol. It is my favourite musical and we all really enjoyed it. We had a fab day in the sunshine walking along the Harbourside, enjoying cocktails and eating pizza.

The Longs Arms

Another mention for mine and Ian’s favourite pub! We went up here for dinner last night as, and usual, it was stunning. We shared starters of lobster and a goats meat scotch egg then I had lemon sole while Ian had the lamb. I always look forward to pudding and seeing what crazy flavour of ice-cream is on the menu and this time we sampled root beer, cream soda, Nutella, peanut butter and jam and – my new favourite – Jaffa Cake.

New Earrings

I rediscovered these earrings that my best friend Lu bought me for my birthday. They are lovely silver swallows and I have been wearing them all week.

Becca Highlighter

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This week, I have been really enjoying wearing the Shimmering Skin Perfector by Becca in the shade Moonstone as recommended by The Anna Edit. I like how natural this looks and I really do think it suits paler complexions.

Sliders

I have been after a pair of pool sliders since last summer. I saw these in Primark and I thought they looked really fun and they are actually really comfortable. It’s one of the first times that I have stopped to wonder whether I am too ‘old’ for an item of clothing but then realised I didn’t really care and headed to the tills!

Latest Purchases #112 – A Little Holiday Haul

So, I didn’t buy too much when we were on holiday in Tenerife last week. We didn’t go to a market or spend that much time shopping but there were a few cool stores near to our hotel that I couldn’t resist a little browse in as well as picking up a few staples from the supermercado.

We discovered honey rum on holiday and enjoyed it both as a mixer with coke and on its own with ice. It’s a lovely sweet liquor and a good addition to our drinks trolley.

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I discovered Canarian mojo sauce when we were away. There is a red and green variety but my favourite was the green and I had it slathered over meat, fish and salads every day. I wanted to bring home a jar and although I know the fresh version will always be better, this jar looked fairly authentic. I have since managed to get my hands on a proper recipe from my friend who lives in Gran Canaria so will hopefully be making my own soon.

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I totally didn’t need this many pins but they were just so cute, I couldn’t resist! I think I will pop these on my leather and denim jackets. Also, just note the little chain on the cactus which has a mini watering can on it!

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As always, when in Europe I buy Milka and sweets.

These adorable castanets aren’t for me but I feel I should apologise in advance to my friend whose children I bought these for!

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Finally, due to being very pale and wanting to avoid getting burned at all costs, I love a good beach cover-up. I found these kaftans and after buying one and wearing it for most of the holiday, I went back and got a few more designs.

Ten Friday Favourites #14 and #15

I’m back, both from holiday and from my accidental blog break! And without sounding too smug, I feel great. We had five blissful days where all we did was read, lie in the sun, walk along the beach, eat amazing food and indulge in a fair few cocktails. I feel so refreshed and really inspired to blog and get a few things around the house and garden finished this week. Seeing as I missed last week’s favourites, I thought I would kick things off this week with a bumper edition from the past fortnight.

Sun

In top position has to be our break in Tenerife. It was so lovely to feel the sun on my face again, speak some Spanish, eat churros and paella every day and enjoy doing absolutely nothing without any guilt.

Braces

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After almost a year, the braces I have had to straighten up my bottom teeth are off! I am so pleased I went ahead with this, despite the aching jaw and sore mouth, and plan on writing a blog post soon with a few before and after pictures.

Eyelash tint and lift

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I have written before about how much I love these beauty treatments and it was lovely to not have to bother with mascara or curling my eyelashes all week. In fact, I spent most of the time make-up free which was lovely and I think my skin is better for it.

Ballet

The day before our holiday, I went to watch Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes in Bristol with friends from work. It was a great way to spend an afternoon and my second time watching this art form.

The Radium Girls

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I read this book on holiday and it was incredible. Moving, brilliantly-written and shocking in equal parts, I will be recommending this to everyone. I even got a reply to my tweet from the author which makes me love it even more.

Travel Pillow

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I bought this for our trip to Japan later this year but decided to test it out this holiday. I’d never really rated travel pillows before but this was lovely. For once, I actually napped on the flight without my neck swinging about and I even used it through the day on the sunbed and it was a gamechanger – I actually had 3 naps one day!

Striped Top

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I have been loving this top I picked up in Primark a few weeks ago. I feel it ticks off a couple of trends (flared sleeves, stripes, embroidery) but it also just feels great to wear.

Chai Shower Gel

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This Body Shop shower gel smells of my all-time favourite drink – enough said.

Fish Pedicure

I know these were a craze a few years ago but I never had one and when I saw this little spa, I decided to have a go. I actually quite liked the nibbling sensation and I have to admit my feet were lovely and smooth afterwards. Ian however, having very ticklish feet, found it torturous!

Coconut Chips

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I always grab a packet of these at the till in Primark and I love them. They are delicious to snack on their own but are also a great addition to overnight oats or porridge for a bit of a crunch. I think they also have chocolate covered ones which I need to try.

Why I am a Cruise Convert

I have had several friends quiz me about our recent holidays and many were surprised when we told them we had been on two cruises this year. I kind of understand how they feel though. Before I tried them myself, I had the preconception that cruises were a) really expensive and b) for old people!

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However, when looking at visiting Cuba earlier this year, we came across a cruise option and it stuck with me. We were slightly apprehensive when we boarded but ended up enjoying it so much we went on another mini-cruise around Scandinavia and the Baltics this summer and our trip to Japan later this year is part-cruise too.

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Here are my reasons for enjoying a cruise:

  • The food on board is ace. Eating out is a big part of going away for me and the dining options on a cruise ship are great. Whether you fancy a poolside slice of homemade pizza, a bit of everything from the buffet or a formal dining experience, a cruise ship ticks all boxes. I made sure I tried the local cuisine whilst on shore but we loved the foodie side of the ship.

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  • Most ships tend to be quite luxurious and offer really excellent service. We found the staff to be amazingly helpful and the public areas spotless.
  • There is a lot to do on a cruise ship (but no pressure to do it!) Yes, like a hotel, some of the entertainment can be a bit cheesy but there are various activities to do to keep you occupied. We went to the gym a few times as well as some shows in the theatre. There are also usually casinos, spas, quizzes, crafts, talks about the ports you will visit, dance classes, yoga, pilates, etc. Our Japan cruise also includes a traditional Japanese spa with a strict no-swimming costume policy (!) and a nightly film on top deck under the stars complete with blankets, hot chocolate and popcorn!
  • You get to visit some amazing places without the hassle of negotiating local transport. It really is cool to go to sleep in one place and wake up in a brand new destination to explore. I guess we almost treat it like a floating hotel and it really does feel very ‘easy’ getting from one port to the next. A cruise also takes care of things like visas which we found very useful when visiting Russia this summer.

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  • It’s not full of oldies! Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a much younger-than-expected clientele on a cruise ship. We ended up chatting to people of different ages and nationalities.
  • You only need to unpack your suitcase once! One of the biggest hassles we found on our road trip was the constant packing and unpacking of our stuff. I really like the fact that a cruise ship gives you a constant base to come back to.
  • It is quite a ‘safe’ way to travel. Now, I don’t mean this in a no-danger sense: I mean that it is great for less-intrepid travellers. I must admit that when we were researching our holiday to Japan, I was a bit nervous at the thought of getting around in a country where I don’t speak the language or even use the same alphabet. Although we will obviously be out and about on our own when we dock in a port, there is a bit of me that feels a bit more reassured at not having to negotiate buses and trains there.
  • You see some amazing sights. When we travelled from Stockholm to Tallin this summer, we sailed past beautiful little islands and saw lots of dream summer houses whilst enjoying a glorious sunset. I also loved sailing out of Havana and seeing the city from a completely different angle.

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  • It’s not as expensive as it seems. Yes, cruising isn’t cheap but when you factor in all the elements (all-inclusive food and drink, great service, entertainment, travelling from place to place, accommodation) it would be hard to beat booking all the elements separately.
  • There are excellent excursions on offer. I think cruise companies know you want to make the most of your time in a destination so there are some amazing trips offered to suit most budgets. We did a great walking tour of Havana, went ziplining through the rainforest in Jamaica and went tequila tasting in Mexico. Likewise, there is no pressure to book these and we also enjoyed doing our own thing each day on our summer cruise.

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Now, I will say that there are some aspects that you may feel are a downside to cruising but it really does depend on the kind of holiday you are after. We tend to switch between wanting something action-packed (like our American road trip in the summer of 2015) or complete relaxation and a cruise can tick some boxes for each.

Here are some of the negative aspects of a cruise holiday:

  • You are tied to the sailing times of the ship so have a limited time in each place.
  • You may feel that a day isn’t long enough to get a real feel for a place and I would agree to some extent. However, I tend to treat a cruise as a ‘taster’ of a country and our one day in Helsinki has made me want to return to Finland to experience more.
  • You may feel slightly claustrophobic on a ship. Personally, I didn’t feel this but I do understand that you may feel a bit trapped, especially if you have a few days at sea without any ports.
  • In some ports, you are slightly preyed upon by locals to buy things, take trips etc which can be a bit overwhelming.

In summary, I am really glad I put aside my preconceptions and gave this type of holiday a try. I feel I have been to countries I may not have visited otherwise and came home feeling well-rested yet like I had been on a jam-packed holiday. Whilst I would describe myself as a convert to cruising, it certainly wouldn’t be the only type of holiday I would take. I still like staying in one place for a week and discovering the local charms but I definitely see some more cruises in our future.

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Would you ever consider a cruise? x

2016 – The Year of Travel

Rather than write a month-by-month account of this year like I did in 2015 and 2014, I decided to focus on one aspect of this year I have loved…travelling.

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Ian and I have been lucky enough to have several exciting holidays this year and all of them hold really special memories from dancing in a Russian nightclub at 1am to drinking mojitos on the streets of Havana to zip-lining through the Jamaican rainforest to sailing around Boston Harbour in the sunshine!

UK

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Not all of our trips have been abroad this year – I love exploring the UK just as much. We had several fun trips to London in 2016 (my favourite being for New Year’s Eve when we went to watch ‘Wicked’), took a mini-break in Wells, went camping in Tewkesbury and celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the beach in Devon

Cuba

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Probably my favourite destination of the year, the days we spent in Havana were amazing. I have wanted to visit Cuba ever since I studied Caribbean Literature at university and it was such a fascinating trip. We wandered the streets drinking mojitos and daiquiris and admired the beautiful classic cars cruising along. I am desperate to return.

Jamaica

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We spent a day here and it was as cool and as chilled-out as I was hoping. We went through the rainforest on zip-wires before enjoying jerk chicken and Red Stripe beers on the beach.

Grand Cayman

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An interesting place to visit and a beautiful destination for a beach holiday. I didn’t see much more than the beaches but we certainly had a lovely, relaxing day here dipping our feet in the Caribbean Sea.

Mexico

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We had a great tour of the island of Cozumel where we squeezed in a chocolate factory, the beach, tequila tasting, an artisan market and fish tacos and margaritas! It has pushed mainland Mexico to the top of my to-visit list.

France

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I spent a long weekend in a beautiful house for my best friend Cat’s hen weekend earlier this year. Maybe not the best-planned trip, but we enjoyed an awful lot of cheese, champagne, macarons and a day in Aix-en-Provence.

Berlin

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Ian and I had a mini-break here and experienced our first (and disastrous!) AirBNB. Despite a rocky start with our accommodation, we had a fab time exploring the city, stopping off at several beer gardens.

Sweden

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A couple of days in Stockholm have started off an obsession with the Scandi countries, somewhere I hadn’t really visited before. We didn’t have long here but did get to visit the Vasa Museum, eat cinnamon buns, wander through the Old Town and see a beautiful sunset.

Estonia

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I finally made it to Tallinn and it was as beautiful as I had hoped. Quaint, cobbled side streets, castles and lovely, old buildings, I really liked it here.

Russia

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I never thought I would be visiting Russia but we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg and I was really taken with it. It is a spectacular city, with vast, iconic buildings steeped in Russian history. We managed to see most of it plus a good amount of people watching on the main street through the city, the highlight being the stunning Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.

Finland

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I absolutely loved Helsinki. We stumbled upon several small markets and wandered along the port. I fell in love with the interior shops and am determined to return and savour some of the local restaurants.

Boston

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Our final trip was a week in Boston. We love visiting the States and both really enjoyed Boston. It was a cool time of year to visit to experience Halloween and the run-up to the presidential elections and we managed to watch an ice-hockey and a baseball game as well as sampling a lot of lobster and local craft beers.

That was actually a really fun post to write as I love looking back through old photos and remembering when and where they were taken. I really do believe that travel broadens the mind and money spent on adventures and experiences is never wasted. Here’s hoping for many more escapades in 2017! xxx

5 Things To Do on Christmas Day

It’s almost here and I have come up with the top 5 things I think everyone should try and do tomorrow:

  1. Wear some Christmas pyjamas. Whether you wake up in them or have to change into them after your jeans feel a little too tight after dinner, festive pyjamas are the best. I have a few pairs, as well as a Christmas onesie, so all bases are covered!

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2. Have a Christmas cocktail. Bucks Fizz for breakfast, a classic Snowball before lunch or a round of margaritas, there are no rules on Christmas Day so indulge!

3. Family time. We always end up playing a game together or settling down for a good film and it is the best. For a lot of people, it is one of the few times the whole family has the chance to be together so don’t just sit there on your phone…get up and join in a round of charades!

4. Relax! As lovely as it is, Christmas can be stressful so take a bit of time out if you need to…wrap up and go for a walk, take a nap, indulge in a long bath (hopefully using some new smellies), read a chapter of a book, anything that lets you chill out.

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5. Say thank you. Whether it is by phone, text, email or in person, chances are people have either bought you something incredibly thoughtful or spent the day cooking and a little gratitude goes a long way.

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers – have a great time with your loved ones xxx