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Sunday Catch-up #43

Hello and Happy Sunday! I went back to work this week and the dark nights are closing in. I don’t mind too much though as I had a great time at a fireworks display, started Pilates again after a month off and later today Ian and I are off to watch Josh Widdicombe and grab a spot of dinner.

This week I have been…

Making: better use of my time

Going: to watch Josh Widdicombe live (tonight!)

Wearing: black tights…my winter essential

Eating: a delicious steak dinner (with a side order of mac ‘n’ cheese!)


Drinking: dessert wine with my salted caramel pudding


Reading: the final draft of my essay…it’s done!

Watching: American Horror Story – we finished Narcos (amazing series!!!) and so far we’re not that convinced by AHS

Buying: some treats from Birchbox


Planning: some healthy meals for the week ahead

Cooking: a delicious chorizo, cherry tomato and spinach omelette for my breakfast yesterday


Baking: nothing so far but I plan on trying out a toffee apple crumble recipe later this week

Writing: blog posts

Favouriting: this amazing video from Lisa Eldridge about make-up through the ages

Working on: clearing out our spare bedroom

Trying to decide: what colour to paint my nails today

Wishing: the rain would stop

Enjoying: firework displays

Needing: more candles!


Feeling: well rested after two lazy lie-ins this weekend

Giggling at: how much this guy needs his coffee in the morning!


Travel Diaries – Atlantic City

If you haven’t already, you can read Part One and Two of our New York trip!

Day Six – Saturday 1st August

It was our final morning in New York so we went for one last run in Central Park, packed our suitcases and popped out to a deli for breakfast bagels before being picked up by our airport shuttle. We picked our car up at Newark Airport (which meant we avoided scary central New York traffic!) and set off to Atlantic City. We shared the driving there, stopping off for lunch at the busiest service station before getting our first glimpse of the city – it reminded me so much of Vegas!

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We were staying at the Sheraton Hotel which was a couple of blocks from the Boardwalk and absolutely huge (we had two double beds in our room.) This hotel is also where Miss America is held each year so there was memorabilia everywhere and some sort of child beauty pageant going on too so I kept finding little girls with full faces of make-up on in the lifts!

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When I booked this holiday, even my travel agent wasn’t sure why I wanted to go to Atlantic City, and people we met whilst in the States looked bemused with this choice of location too. I think it has a reputation similar to our Blackpool but I have to say I absolutely loved it and would definitely go back! Yes, it’s brash and has casinos and a funfair but it also has excellent shopping, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and every evening we enjoyed walks along the Boardwalk with gorgeous pink sunsets. We were only here for three nights but it was a lovely mini beach holiday.

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After a quick change and cup of tea, we headed out to explore. We were staying right next to a huge outlet shopping centre (my dream location!) but wanted to go straight down to the Boardwalk and see the sea.

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We walked all the way along to the Taj Mahal (Sex and the City fans will remember this episode!) where I persuaded Ian to have a go on the fair ground with me before going for our belated anniversary meal.

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We ate at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (which always makes me laugh as my Mum is called Ruth and my brother is called Chris!) and had an amazing meal of steak, lobster and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese followed by cupcakes in our room!

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Day Seven – Sunday 2nd August

We woke up and I had a lie-in whilst Ian was good and went for a run along the Boardwalk. That morning was dedicated to shopping and I did some serious damage!


We met for lunch in what became our favourite place to eat and drink during our stay – Wingcraft, dedicated to chicken wings and craft beers.

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After we were fed and watered, I was itching to get in the sea so we dropped off our shopping bags, got in our swimming costumes and hit the beach for the afternoon.


That evening, we walked along the Boardwalk to the Tropicana hotel and a restaurant called Cuba Libre where I had found a 15-course Cuban taster menu…yep, 15 courses!

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I really liked this hotel and would probably stay here should we visit Atlantic City again. The restaurant was also fab. We started with Cuba Libres (cherry for me, coconut for Ian) before embarking on the biggest meal of my life!

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We started with plantain chips and three delicious dips including an amazing black bean hummus I will definitely try and recreate, before moving onto our starters which consisted of shrimp ceviche, chicken empanada (a South American pasty!), beef filled potato croquettes and spinach and manchego balls. All four of these starters were served with their own sauce and salad and I loved them all.

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We were pretty stuffed at this point but powered on to the main courses which included steak, mahi mahi fish with squid ink rice and pulled pork with black beans. We had rice, beans and plantain wedges on the side but barely touched them if I’m being honest. Sadly, we were defeated and had to ask for our puddings to go…and they were delicious for breakfast the next morning!


Day Eight – Monday 3rd August

Today was quite possibly our favourite day of the whole holiday! After our Cuba Libre puddings in bed, we hopped in the car and headed to Cape May. I read that this was voted the best beach resort in New Jersey and I am so glad we made the trip.

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This was possibly the most beautiful and quintessentially American beach resort I have ever been to. There were no chain restaurants or huge malls, just local family businesses and cafes, pretty pastel-coloured beach front houses and a stunning beach.


We parked up and hit the beach first. You do have to pay a daily rate to use the beach here but it was absolutely spotless on there so we didn’t mind too much.

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Now one thing my Mum and I have in common is our love of big waves – you know, the kind that almost knock you over! Cape May had these huge waves and it was amazing playing in them and trying to stay on your feet when a particularly big one hit. My highlight of the whole holiday however came when we were in the sea and looked out to the horizon to see a pod of about 15 dolphins playing about 20 metres away from us. It was so beautiful and I could have stayed in that moment forever.

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We were getting peckish then so had a quick shower, dried off and went to a little beachfront café for clam chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches, the seafood catch of the day, fries and root beers.

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After lunch, I surprised Ian with a trip to the Cape May Brewery. I had tried to get us a tour of Brooklyn Brewery when we were in New York but couldn’t so thought this would be a good substitute. The bar staff here were so friendly and we spent some time in the garden working our way through the various ales.

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For our last night in Atlantic City, after washing the sea and sand off, we went for one more meal at Wingcraft where I combined two of my favourite foods; chicken wings and pizza. Sounds weird but was amazing!

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We realised through dinner that we hadn’t done any gambling in AC so walked along the Boardwalk (where we saw a cool light and sound show and my hair grew inexplicably huge due to the heat, sea breeze and humidity) and managed to lose all of our dollars on the slots and roulette!

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Not a typical holiday destination for us Brits, I would wholeheartedly recommend Atlantic City and Cape May for a mini beach break whilst on the East Coast – we had a fantastic time! x

Restaurant Review – The Northey Arms, Box

A couple of weeks ago, Ian and I headed down the road to revisit the Northey Arms, a country pub that we’ve enjoyed some good meals at before.

After a quick G&T at the bar, we were seated in the restaurant area to have a good nose through the menu.

For my starter, I ordered chicken liver parfait which was served with a brioche roll, some chutney and rocket, which I think is the devil’s food! I really enjoyed this starter (once I had tipped the rocket onto Ian’s plate!); the pate was beautifully rich and creamy, the chutney had a good amount of spiced fruitiness and the brioche roll was tasty too. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough brioche for the amount of parfait. A second roll or some additional crackers would have been nice.


Ian had deep fried crab served with a mango salsa and avocado sorbet. I only had a bit of the sorbet, which was beautifully creamy, but I got a thumbs up from him for the starter!


For our mains, I opted for lamb and Ian had a steak.

My lamb was served perfectly medium-rare on ratatouille, potatoes, more rocket and a lovely sauce. The lamb was gorgeous but I just wish there was more of it as I didn’t really enjoy the ratatouille. It was a bit bland although I’m not the biggest fan of aubergine.


Ian had a whopping steak (I can’t remember if it was a T-bone or rib-eye) served with green beans, grilled mushrooms and roasted vine tomatoes. He also ordered some chips and a delicious Roquefort and parsley butter.


Honestly, one of those crispy chips dipped in the rich, cheesy sauce was a little taste of heaven!

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As always, I had saved room for a pudding but after trying to catch the eye of a waitress for over 10 minutes, I soon got bored of waiting and we left. This was such a shame and left a bit of a sour taste after a really nice meal. I am quite ruthless when it comes to poor service as I think there are just so many good places to eat near us that I don’t feel we need to waste our time and money at a place that doesn’t offer decent service. Too harsh?!

It may have been a one off with the poor service as previously I had liked the atmosphere and there’s no denying the food is really good here. And I may have to go back for that cheesy chip combination soon!


Restaurant Review – The Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills, Dorset

My Mum is staying with us for a few days so as well as a few girlie lunches and shopping trips, we have also decided to redecorate mine and Ian’s bedroom. Luckily, it isn’t too major a job but like all rooms in our house the previous owners’ taste was horrific and we have gaudy wallpaper and dark turquoise and metallic painted walls to contend with! And I have the most painful little blister on my hand from spending hours painting today! I’m sure it will all be worth it in a few days when I share my ‘Before and After’ photos.

Today I wanted to share my love for a pub Ian and I keep going back to when we are in Dorset. The Smugglers Inn is a beautiful 13th Century pub which is nestled along the coastline with stunning views across the bay.


It has a large beer garden which is always full of cute dogs and excitable children with lots of seating indoors and outside too. When we were camping last week, we popped in here most days for food or just a drink as it was so near our campsite and just has the most wonderful laid-back atmosphere in the summer months. It is also a Badger Brewery pub which sells some of mine and Ian’s favourite ever ales (we worked our way through all of them throughout our visits!)

My favourite is Golden Glory; a light, golden ale with peach and melon flavours. I read on the back of the bottle that it is ideally matched with my favourite food of all time, ribs, so this ale and I were clearly meant to get be!


We decided to eat here for our anniversary as whilst the food is just simple pub grub, it is really tasty and we haven’t had a bad meal there yet.

I started with a portion of whitebait which was served with lemon and tartare sauce. These always remind me of our holidays in Spain and were so fresh and delicious.


Ian had a bowl of spicy wings with a lovely blue cheese sauce and crudités. These were so good we ordered them again for lunch a few days later!


For our main courses I opted for a rump steak which was glazed with a Blandford Flyer beer and smoky BBQ sauce and served with chips and coleslaw. This was cooked perfectly and I really enjoyed it, especially the glaze on the steak.


Ian had their award-winning steak and ale pie (which I forgot to get a picture of!) but I had a little bite and the filling was delicious.

If you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, I thoroughly recommend popping in to this lovely pub for a drink or two…we can’t wait to go back!


Restaurant Review – Hudson Steakhouse, Bath

It seems I couldn’t even make it through the first week back at work without sleeping through my alarm and running late! Despite a slightly rushed and manic start to the day, there is only one day to go until the weekend and we have a new DIY project to start.

Today’s post is one for the carnivores as Ian and I visited Hudson Steakhouse this week to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. I had been wanting to try this place for a while but it is a bit on the pricey side so I was waiting for something of a special occasion to justify a visit.


Voted number three in the UK’s Top Ten Steakhouses, Hudson is a classy joint and the candlelit booths are cosy and romantic.

No wine or cocktails due to us trying to complete ‘Dry January’ but we did order a delicious mixed starter platter which included buffalo mozzarella with vine tomatoes, olives, basil and balsamic, chicken liver parfait with parmesan crostini, duck salad with a sesame and soy dressing, slivers of orange and crispy wontons, tempura tiger prawns  with a spicy ponzu dip and a crab and avocado remoulade topped with lime wasabi and black caviar.


Apologies for the poor quality photo but I was so eager to tuck in I didn’t realise I hadn’t put the flash on my camera!

All elements of this dish were wonderful and I think I would be hard pushed to pick a favourite.

For our mains there was no question about our choices as they had both of our favourite cuts of steak on the menu; prime fillet for me and porterhouse for Ian, cooked rare with a two huge garlic king prawns on the side.


We were a little bit greedy with our side dishes as we simply couldn’t choose between the parmesan truffle fries and dauphinoise potato gratin so ordered both! I felt we should have some sort of vegetable on the table too so we also had some garlic Portobello mushrooms.

The steaks were absolutely divine. You could taste the quality here and they were both cooked perfectly. My fillet was melt-in-the-mouth tender and Ian’s porterhouse was wonderfully marbled and full of flavour.

Despite being pretty full, we decided to share a pudding and had the chocolate and espresso mousse served with salted peanut brittle – a lovely combination.


I noticed there is also an early bird steak special but the à la carte menu here at Hudsons is really great so I would recommend saving up and coming here for a truly special dinner.

Back to Work and a couple of Quick and Easy Recipes


This is a bit of a catch-up post today as I have started back at work again so am currently struggling to find the time to write on here every day while I get back into the swing of things.

I had a look back at a few of my blog posts from this time last year when I was just starting at my school and it has made me realise how different I feel this time around. I think part of it was a slight fear of the unknown but I am definitely much happier going back to work this September. I feel rested after a lovely summer off and my new class seem absolutely gorgeous! This may be the calm before the storm but so far, so good!

It has however been a bit of a shock to the system having to get up early again, be on my feet all day and make what feels like a thousand important decisions a day again. I finished work on Friday feeling quite worn out so made sure we had a lovely chilled-out weekend.

This didn’t quite go to plan when we headed up to the local pub for a few Thank-God-it’s-Friday drinks and soon realised that, in our haste to get there and start on the beers, neither of us had a key with us! Cue some tall ladders and Ian scrambling through an upstairs window!

Our house is a bit chaotic at the moment as we are having a new bathroom fitted next week. Here is our hallway at the moment:

Just out of shot is the new bath tub which is positioned so close to the front door that you have to kind of shuffle into the house through a half-open doorway! One of the spare bedrooms upstairs is filled with tiles and grout and the bathroom itself looks like a building site with bare plaster on the walls and half the floor missing…watch this space for the finished results!

My Dad is staying with us this week to help with the decorating and tiling which means we get a week of delicious home-cooked meals! On Friday it was steak:

Last night was a BBQ:

And tonight we have a poussin each currently roasting in the oven!

I am absolutely loving this weather at the moment, and it has made the early mornings that little bit more bearable; lovely refreshing mornings and sunny afternoons.

We spent all day yesterday in the garden, tidying it up  and cutting back all the weeds that seem to have flourished over the wet summer we have had. I am ashamed to say that I actually found a stinging nettle that was taller than me, which made me feel like we really had neglected our garden!

In between working in the sun, we had lots of drink and snack breaks and I whipped up a batch of iced coffees which turned out to be a lovely and refreshing drink with that added caffeine hit to keep you going!

There are pages and pages of literature online dedicated to making the perfect iced coffee drink involving cold brewing, leaving the liquid overnight stewing and all manner of other tips. I however just wanted something quick and easy so I simply brewed a couple of shot of espresso (by the way, a major pet hate of mine is people using the word expresso!) from our coffee machine, added some sugar and then milk until it was the colour of a latte.

As it was the weekend I also poured in a shot of amaretto liquor (!) but you can leave it as ordinary coffee or add another flavoured syrup.

I then popped this lukewarm concoction in the freezer for an hour or so  until it was nice and chilled. You can pop a couple of ice cubes into the coffee at this stage to speed up the chilling but be careful not to put too many in or it will dilute the coffee too much.

Serve with lots of ice. I was really excited to use my new vintage milk bottles to serve these in and they looked lovely in their white tray:

For me, there was only one possible option for dinner last night to make the most of this sunshine…BBQ!

I wanted to share my new favourite canapé that was served at the wedding I went to last weekend and I have now nicked and will totally claim as my own at future dinner parties! On a cocktail stick, simply pop on a slice of chorizo, a cube of hard goats cheese and a piece of sundried tomato…easy yet absolutely gorgeous!

My Dad made some substantial burgers to go on the grill, with a surprise filling of blue cheese which had melted and made for the most gooey, delicious and flavoured burgers.

Having cleared lots of wood, weeds and other junk out of the garden yesterday we had a huge bonfire to keep us warm as the night drew in and the temperature dropped…

…although the flames did get a bit wild at one point !

I am hoping this lovely weather continues for a bit longer as the seasons slowly shift. I found these gorgeous colourful leaves yesterday and already my mind has started to wander to Autumn and crunchy leaves, bonfire night, comfort food, scarves and mulled cider!

A Sunshine Update

I hope you have been making the most of this gorgeous weather this week!

My first few days of the holiday have been mainly garden based and very busy.

My parents came to stay this week to help out around the house and get a few projects started together and whilst it was glorious weather it made working outside that little bit harder.

I want to get our front garden looking lovely but first of all we had to clear all the old plants, trees and roots out of the way which took hours! Here is a mid-clearing photo:

It was pretty arduous work and I have the scratches to prove it!

And here is the pile we accumulated over the morning:

The good thing was that we cleared lots of dry wood which was perfect for a bonfire:

Ahhhhh warm toes

However it hasn’t been all work and no play…we rewarded ourselves with a good dinner every evening.

The first night it was one of my favourite foods, scallops.

The next evening we did what I imagine half of the UK did this week, BBQ!

As you can see I really enjoyed my sausage bap!

Last night, we headed to one of our favourite local pubs for dinner where I had a delicious onion and goats cheese tart

And my Mum couldn’t believe how big her omelette was!

Finally, a little sneak pic of what I am busy preparing for now…

Yes, Ian is taking me camping for my birthday this weekend along the South Coast. As you probably know, I LOVE camping so I am getting very excited at the thought of a long weekend away with my boy, a paddle in the sea and lots of lovely meals out!