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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Twenty-Four.


A couple of weeks ago I turned 24. Twenty-Four. Where have the years gone? I'm almost a quarter of a century, and yet it still feels like yesterday that I was 17 years old, running wild with the sun on my back, and the breeze blowing my hair around my face, staring wide eyed up at the sun and collapsing on the riverbank content in the fact that at that very moment, my life was completely and utterly perfect. It's funny how things change; how you grow up, move on, and end up where you didn't expect to end up at this age. Life is full of surprises, mostly good ones. Ones that at 17 I never could have imagined happening to me. 

And so as I enter a new stage in my life, one of growing up and maturing, becoming slightly more sensible (but only ever so slightly...), and looking to the future, naturally I had to leave my early twenties with a bang, and enter the 'mids' with a party to remember. 


I've actually had two birthday celebrations in the past couple of weeks, the first was a lot of fun, but Roof Gardens messed up so I spent a lot of the night concerned about my guests and whether they were suitably inebriated. To their credit they are doing everything they can to make up for this, and I'm going back at the end of this month for yet another birthday night. Thankfully though we started the night at my favourite bar, Barts, and they kindly gave the girls and I a sharing teapot cocktail for my birthday! I also had my favourite; the Charleston Crumble.




Then my second birthday bash was last Friday, a small group of us went to Boujis, another favourite club of mine that I've blogged about a coupla times before. Once again we had issues...my friends are all joking that my 24th birthday celebrations are clearly cursed. We had the VIP room, the drinks were arriving and flowing and it was all good...but then a very wealthy party arrived and basically paid Boujis to give them the room and kick us out...which they did. So we took our champagne and danced the night away on the dance floor, glaring at the selfish bastards who dared to ruin my second birthday attempt.











I have no clue what Edd was saying to me, but clearly I was not impressed!



Never mind about the issues though, I had a pretty epic night with some of my wonderful friends, and at the end of the day that's all that matters! We also finished the night in VQ drinking Oreo milkshakes and eating eggs benedict and sweet potato fries at 3am. Perfect! 

Let's just hope that it's third time lucky at Roof Gardens at the end of the month ;)

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Monday, 4 May 2015

Where to Holiday This Summer.


With summer fast approaching I thought it would be a nice idea to put together a guide on where you could go this summer on holiday! This post is ordered by the type of holiday, so whether you want a Staycation, European break, Caribbean getaway, or an epic roadtrip, you're in the right place :)

For a Staycation

For a staycation in the UK you can't beat the Isles of Scilly. I may be biased as all my family are originally from there, but these islands are just beautiful. They're like a tropical paradise just a 30 minute flight from Exeter airport. Tresco is my favourite island and is ideal for all the family or just a weekend alone. 

There are beaches galore, the Abbey Gardens, and you're just a 5 minute boat ride away from the incredible Crab Shack on nearby Bryher. Stay at the New Inn on Tresco, which is my great great grandfather's old pub and guesthouse, or rent one of the timeshare properties on the island (you can even rent my ancestral home, Green Cottage).

They also have loads going on over the summer, including Scilly Folk Festival at the end of May, Tresco Triathlon and the New Inn Cider Festival in June, St Martin's Cider Festival in July, all of the island Fete's in August, and the Tresco & Bryher Food Festival in September. I went to the food festival last year and it was fantastic! Take a look at my posts here, and for advice on holidaying on the Isles of Scilly click here.



Where to stay: The New Inn Guesthouse
Where to eat: The Crab Shack


For a European Island Retreat

One of my favourite places in Europe has to be Greece. I love city breaks, but I'm very much a 'pretty landscape' girl who adores stunning breaches and breathtaking scenery. The Ionian island of Kefalonia not only has all of that, but it also has bags of history. Make sure you read the book and watch the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin before you go! 

We rented a villa for a week and spent our holiday exploring the gorgeous beaches, visiting the mesmerizing Melissani Cave, and seeing turtles come right near us in the harbour of Argostoli! Fiskardo and Assos are also beautiful little towns that are well worth a visit.



Where to stay: Rent a villa for the perfect relaxed getaway
Where to eat: Kastro Cafe


For a European City Break

This was a toughie, as as much as I loved Rome last year, I think this one has to go to Budapest. I went to Budapest with no expectations whatsoever, and was completely blown away by it! It's a city that captured my heart with both it's fascinating history and beautiful architecture. Don't miss these restaurants, and don't forget to experience the Szechenyi thermal baths!



Where to stay: Le Meridien, Budapest
Where to eat: Aszu Etterem


For a Long-Haul Experience of a Lifetime

It's no secret that I adore Australia, my second home, but everyone always heads to the East Coast. Western Australia has so much more to offer; insanely good food, a more relaxed vibe and atmosphere, beautiful landscape and scenery, and some of the best beaches in the world! Perth is also home to the stunning Rottnest Island and the happy little Quokkas. You can see what Rottnest is like by watching the video below!


Where to stay: Fraser Suites, Perth
Where to eat: The Wild Fig & The Kiosk


For a Roadtrip You'll Never Forget

It has to be the USA! I've done quite a few roadtrips, we've done numerous ones up and down the west coast of Australia, but I think my favourite ones have been our American ones. I can't recommend them enough, they're so much fun and you can do them with either the family or a group of friends or partner. 

Deep South:
Start in Atlanta, explore the city and go to the world of coca cola, and then move on to Nashville. Don't miss the Grand Ole Opry here, and also make sure you go to BB Kings for good music and good grub. Tootsie's bar is also fun! Then it's time for Memphis. This is the bigun, head down Beale street every evening for dinner and music, visit Sun Studios, Stax museum, and of course Graceland! Then it's the next stop, New Orleans. Stay in the French Quarter and fall asleep to the sound of jazz every night, eat as much creole food and shrimp as you can, and make sure you go on a river cruise on an old showboat (and obviously you should sing Ole Man River while doing so...).

West Coast:
Start in San Francisco and see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Union Square. Have clam chowder at Pier 49, before driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. Stay in Beverly Hills as it's right in the middle of everything worth seeing; Santa Monica, Warner Brothers Studios, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, and Griffith Observatory. Then it's time go continue on to Sedona and Zion National Park, you'll be wowed by the breathtaking scenery! Drive on to Grand Canyon and then finally it's time for Vegas! Go and see Hoover Dam and don't miss the Mike Hammer Comedy Magic show in old downtown, it's bloody hilarious!



Best restaurant of the trip: South Beverly Grill
Best hotel of the trip: Despite it's initial flaws and awful service, The Palazzo was incredible in the end and certainly had the 'wow' factor


For a Caribbean Getaway

Despite my first ever trip to the Caribbean being at the grand age of seven to the beautiful island of Antigua, I think my favourite is definitely Cuba. I've never been to any other country like it, the people are insanely friendly, it's insanely cheap, and it has an atmosphere that just makes you want to dance in the street with the locals with an iced cold mojito in hand! 

Do not miss out on seeing Havana; make sure you take a ride in a classic car, go to the Tropicana Club, drink plenty of mojitos, see the other side of Cuba at the FAC, eat at Los Mercadares for the best Cuban food, and if you're in need of some chill-out time head to Cayo Largo Del Sur!



Where to eat: Paladar Los Mercadares


Have you been to any of these places? Do you fancy going to any of them?
What are your plans for the summer?


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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Travel Experiences I'll Never Do Again.


So this month's travel linkup is all about things you would never do while travelling again. As I'm quite experienced in being a total idiot and ending up in hospital while abroad, I thought I'd do a roundup of things not to do while on holiday or living in another country...

1. Go Ice-Skating

Yeh. So. I actually ice-skated for about 6 years when I was younger, I did my grades 1-10, my bronze, silver and gold, and then I moved to Australia. There was only one ice-rink near us in Perth and it was half an hour away, so I didn't go ice-skating for almost a year! Then my friends thought it'd be fun to go, so naturally I took my figure skates with me (because those blue things are just EW), and they automatically assumed I was amazing. I mean I used to be able to do small jumps and spins etc, but I wasn't exactly Olympic standard.

Everything was going amazingly well, I was zooming around the ice and my friends had stopped and were over by the barrier, so I went skating towards them when my brain froze...and I forgot how to stop...so I smashed into the chest-height barrier and broke my sternum. I fell to the ground and couldn't breathe, my friends were in stitches laughing, until they realised that something was horribly wrong, so they took me to the first aid room where the staff made me hold a bag of ice to my chest. 



I was taken to hospital and it was discovered that I'd broken my sternum. As it was my breast-bone they literally couldn't do anything to help, I was told not to do any exercise or heavy-lifting for 3 months, and for around 4 months it felt like someone was stabbing me every time I laughed, sneezed, coughed, yawned, or cried. As someone who laughs and sneezes quite often, this was so SO painful!

So people, learn from my mistake, and NEVER go ice-skating when you're abroad and haven't skated for a while. My friends still all laugh about me breaking my sternum because I forgot how to stop.


2. Get Really Drunk

Another time in Australia. All of these were in Australia, FYI. 16 years of living in England and I'd been to hospital a handful of times, then 2 years in Australia and I was in hospital a total of five times. 

So my friends and I were going to a 15th birthday party (we were 17), and thought we'd be super cool and get really drunk so hanging out with 15 year olds didn't seem as lame. The problem is I drank so much that I only remember the first 10 minutes of the party (I was there for about 2 hours), I was crawling around the floor because of all the strobe lights (don't ask), and I made out with a guy my best friend had fancied for ages. He thought he was totally in with a chance when my friends dragged me away and dashed his teenage dreams. Apparently we then let in a load of gatecrashers who started swinging from the chandeliers and wrecking the place, so everyone got thrown out!

I then collapsed outside on the wet grass, the birthday girls brother had to put me in the recovery position while my friends (who were also totally smashed) had to phone my parents. My parents arrived and started shouting at my friends, they rushed me to hospital where I was in resus overnight. I woke up in the morning and recognized the clock on the wall from my previous visits (sigh), I remember hoping that my parents didn't know I was there...and then turning my head to see them sitting beside me. FML. 

Turns out I had a blood alcohol content of 0.25, which is near the coma level, and had drunk the equivalent of 10 very large glasses of wine. I was grounded for a week or so and had my phone taken off me. Don't drink kids, it's bad. The below photos were taken before we'd even got to the party...the green liquid in the giant water bottle is vodka mixed with everglade (really cheap midori...).


3. Go Swimming in Dumping Waves

Yeh. Another Australian one. Sorry guys. So I was actually living back in the UK and went back to Perth for one of my visits. My boyfriend at the time had a broken elbow, and the two of us went to the beach with two of my friends. The weather wasn't great and the waves were huge and dumping (ie; dangerous). The boyfriend was a very strong swimmer having been a rower and sailor, and so even with his broken elbow had no problems with the waves. The girls and I stayed on the beach while he went for a swim, and then he dragged me in. 

A huge wave was roaring towards us, and I didn't have time to get back to the beach. Shit. Do I swim under or hope that I bob over before it breaks? I went for the latter and failed, it broke over the top of me and scooped me underneath. I felt as though I was in a washing machine, being tossed and turned under the water, water and sand being swooshed into every crevice. As I was getting to the point where I could hold my breath no longer, my boyfriend grabbed hold of me with his one arm and pulled me to the surface. I have never ever been so grateful to feel air rushing through my lungs!

He swam towards the beach pulling me along while I howled and screamed hysterically from the shock of it all. I'd actually thought I was going to die! I crawled onto the beach with my entire bikini around my ankles. My boyfriend tried to save my dignity and attempted to pull it up with his one free arm, while my friends raced down the beach to us with a towel. 



My hair dried in a bit of a state afterwards as is evidence in the photos above, and you can also see from the pics above how happy I was to be alive, but also how sick I still felt. I felt really sick for the rest of the afternoon and evening until it got so bad my Dad made me go to hospital (he was also back in Perth with work). It was my last night in Perth and I had to spend it in hospital 'for observation' as they did scans and came to the conclusion that I'd swallowed too much water.

4. Lack of Mozzie Repellent

Long story short, we went down to the river late at night and I was wearing a short skirt with no mozzie repellent...naturally mozzie's are really attracted to the taste of my blood and the next day every spare space on my legs were bitten. You can sort of see in the photo below how bad they were - my skin is all bumpy and lumpy and nasty, especially the backs of my legs :/ I was in so much pain, and when I went to the chemist they looked horrified and told me it was the worst they'd ever seen... woops!



5. Sunburn.

On a more serious topic, this has happened in the majority of countries I have visited. I have very fair skin, and have always had a hard time getting a suntan. I didn't get a decent tan in Australia until I'd lived there for about four months and spent every weekend at the beach. The past few years my family has been hit with skin cancer twice (not myself, before you ask). 

It's really made me realise how dangerous the sun is, my Aunty lost her life to skin cancer seven years ago this month, and ever since then I've been far more careful about being in the sun. Thinking back to the state I was in seven years ago, how every day I'd be in tears at school because I knew that I'd never see her again, because I knew that the last time I saw her we'd said to all our family 'Goodbye! See you next year!'....and then we didn't see her next year, because none of us had any idea that the silent killer was at work. Ever since then I've covered myself in suncream constantly, and one time when I forgot and got horribly sunburnt I cried as I was so scared of what could happen! 

The worst time I got sunburnt was when we first moved to Australia, I went to the beach with my friend Wayne and I forgot to put suncream on. I got so sunburnt that I had a line of blisters along my bikini line on my boobs. It hurt for days! So never again will I forget to put suncream on. It's too risky, you always think it won't happen to you, you always think your loved one won't be the one to get it, won't be the one to lose their life. And then they do and it makes you realise that it's just not worth the risk. 

What are your travel experiences that you'll never do again?


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* Disclaimer: All photos were taken when I was 17. Please don't judge. Also the majority of people you see in these 8-year-old photos (all the girls) have actually featured on the blog quite heavily in my recent Australia posts!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Farewell Clandon Park.


I'm very lucky to live in an area full of beautiful National Trust properties. Since I was a child we've visited the majority of them over the years, and Clandon Park along with Hatchlands are the closest ones to where I've lived and grown up. Sadly last night a huge fire broke out at Clandon Park, built in 1720 for Lord Onslow, it contained priceless textiles, marble fireplaces, porcelain, artwork, furniture, and the most beautiful of all; the Marble Hall. 

As news of the fire broke out my parents were at Clandon Park having a coffee and cake in the garden centre there, but they had no clue there was a fire just metres from where they were sat until it was on the news later that night! We decided to head down there around 10pm to see what was going on (because ya know, we're super nosey...), and found dozens of cars parked up alongside the fields infront of the house, everyone out of their cars taking photos and watching this magnificent old building go up in flames.

I grabbed my camera and forgot my tripod and 300mm lens (what an idiot), so I'm afraid I had to get these photos with a 35mm lens, and I balanced it on a low fence. Also, I love the horse photobombing the first photo...it was so dark I had no clue he was there!

clandon park house fire

clandon park house fire

clandon park house fire







We watched as the flames engulfed the building we'd all driven past and visited countless times, the windows were bright orange as the flames took hold and the smell of the priceless antiques burning filled our nostrils all the way across the fields.

We're hoping that they managed to save some of the antique collection, and will somehow be able to restore the property, but with the inside a complete shell, who knows that they'll be able to do with it :(

Have you ever visited Clandon Park? What are your memories of it?


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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Sakura at Sake no Hana.


As you already know from previous posts (here, here, and here), I'm a pretty huge fan of Sake no Hana. It's right opposite my club so really handy to just park and walk across the road, and they do really delicious Japanese food in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, thus it's a great place to go with friends.





Last week a friend and I went along to try the Sake no Hana bar's limited edition Sakura bar. Sakura is the celebration of spring and the Japanese cherry blossom season, and Sake no Hana have taken inspiration from the ancient Japanese custom of enjoying the passing beauty of the 'Sakura' cherry blossom by feasting on sake and sushi under the trees, and turned their bar into a beautiful cherry blossom garden! 

We started with the beautiful Violet Risshun cocktail, which was the most fun cocktail I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing, and one of the tastiest, too! If you look at the photo at the top of this post it shows three different glasses, and the cocktail is basically three-in-one. The carafe contains Jinzu Gin, green chartreuse, grapefruit and lemon juice, shiso syrup and Burlesque bitters, while the jug contains Belsazar rose vermouth, maraschino cherry, cranberry and lemon juice.

The idea is to have a small glass of each, and then you combine the two to create another cocktail - tada! Three in one! Both were delicious individually, and I actually think I preferred them individually rather than mixed together. All of them tasted really sweet which I loved as I'm not a huge fan of bitter cocktails.


While we were tasting our cocktails the spinach with cassava and white miso soup arrived. This soup is my favourite soup of all time, Sake no Hana serve it with almost every set and special menu they do, and I love it.





After the miso soup we moved on to the 'picnic box', which consisted of various sashimi and sushi. I love the idea of having a picnic box under the cherry blossom trees, and the gentle, floral scent of Floris Cherry Blossom really brought to life the faux cherry blossoms that surrounded us (my hair kept catching in them, much to our amusement). The sashimi was just perfection, and the sushi was also the usual high standard you get at Sake no Hana. It was quite hard to photograph through the box in a confined space though!




Last but not least was the dessert, a Sakura Cotton Cheesecake. As you all know I'm a dessert girl, but this dessert was something else. The cheesecake tasted more cakey than a normal cheesecake, but it was delicious - incredibly light, it melted in the mouth and the fresh cherries, cream cheese and cherry sorbet it came with were the perfect accompaniments. 


After our dessert two cherry blossom macarons arrived. These were tasty, however they were slightly undercooked and a little too soft and chewy. A very small flaw in an otherwise perfect meal.


The bar was really breathtaking, and I didn't realize the flowers were faux until the very end when I touched one! It was designed by renowned florist Veevers Carter to capture the essence and ethos of the Japanese cherry blossom season, aka Sakura, and it really makes the bar come alive in such a magical way. 




We really loved Sake no Hana's Sakura experience, the food was just enough to fill us up but not leave us feeling bloated and heavy, and the cherry blossom bar was just stunning. As always the staff were really helpful with the menu and asked if we had any allergies before the food was presented to us.

Press Photo


Visit their website to find out more about Sakura at Sake no Hana and book a table - you'll have to be quick though as it's only running until 20th June 2015!

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Heddon Street Kitchen.


Last weekend was my birthday, so two of my fave blogger girlies and I got together the day after to have a relaxing lunch and glass of bubbly to catch up and celebrate. Angie, Suze, and I had put our lunch in the diary months ago, and were so excited to finally check out Gordon Ramsey's informal Heddon Street Kitchen! We tweeted excitedly, and the staff very kindly brought us some birthday bubbles on arrival.



Heddon Street Kitchen Champagne

We spent ages perusing the menu as we kept talking rather than concentrating on the task at hand - choosing our dishes! We hadn't seen each other for months, so we had a lot to catch up on, namely my recent trips to Slovakia and Australia, Angie's trip to South Africa, and Suze's exciting new partnership. We finally chose our meals and then got straight back into talking all things luxury blogging and discussing the gorgeous interior of the restaurant and what it used to be.



Our starters arrived, and instantly impressed us! My scallops were perfectly cooked and tasted really fresh (although not quite as fresh as my scallops from the Isles of Scilly last year), and Suze and Angie's tuna tartare also look delicious.

Heddon Street Kitchen Scallops

Heddon Street Kitchen Tuna Tartare




I have to say the service was excellent, and not only did they get the timing between each course perfect, but they also let us stay and chat for hours after we'd finished! Granted it was a Sunday afternoon though and therefore rather quiet. Anyway, back to the food! I decided as it was my birthday I could be unhealthy and have what I felt like instead of what I 'should' have - I opted for Pork Belly with apple sauce and Thick Cut Chips. YUM. The meat was just perfect, nice big chunks of meat and little fat, and the crackling - oh my. So crunchy and flavoursome.

Heddon Street Kitchen London Pork Belly

Heddon Street Kitchen Pork Belly

Suze had the Cod, which looked really lovely, and Angie had the oh so pretty Sea Bream!

Heddon Street Kitchen Cod

Heddon Street Kitchen Sea Bream



We were pretty full (I couldn't even finish my chips) so missed out on dessert, but I'd love to go back again and test some of them out, after all, you all know how much I love my desserts, and we saw some delicious looking ones heading to nearby tables!



The restaurant itself is 'warehouse' style, all distressed woods, metals, and edgy lighting. It works though, and feels very informal but with a touch of class - definitely the type of place you come with the girls or on a date. The menu is mid-priced, two courses with sides and drinks cost about £35-£40, and the food was delicious so well worth the price. The location is also really handy as it's just off Regent Street, and there's a cute little outside area with tables and blankets which would be absolutely gorgeous in sunnier weather!


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