Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween.

Happy Halloween everyone! We all got to dress up for work today and finish early for the work Halloween Party, I just donned my fairy wings, dark red lippy and black tulle/sequined dress and went as an evil fairy. Easy peasy. I was going to go as a strawberry, as Primarni were selling strawberry onesies, but then I realized I'd have to actually buy a onesie and the thought of that just creeped me out too much. I'm sorry, I'm sure they're very comfy...but they're just weird. So anyway I bought a witch's outfit for Dylan just for fun, I think he rocks it. 



Dylan isn't the biggest fan of his witch's outfit as you can see from his 'not impressed' faces in the above photos...and he tried rolling it off him as you can see below. He's such a fluffy boy! 

This year I haven't been to a Halloween party. I had three different ones I was supposed to go to on Saturday, and I couldn't decide which one to go to so I went to France for the day with the family instead. It was really lovely, we just went over to Calais and stocked up on wine and croissants and then had a quick run on the beach before getting the ferry back in the evening...it was a bit windy. It was a really great day though and by the time we got home it was way too late to head into London for the parties. I'm off to a Halloween house party tomorrow night though so looking forward to dressing up for that!


What are you up to for Halloween?


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Monday, 28 October 2013

A Storm of Nostalgia.


It's funny how nostalgia hits you, one minute you're all good, living in the present and looking forward to the future, and then a memory returns and hits you. This time of year I always think of the same memory, and especially today with all this news of a storm hitting the UK and cancelling my train to work. It was around this time five years ago that I helped save a man's life during a storm, and I always wonder what would have happened if we hadn't have been on the beach that day. 

I was 17, living in Australia about to sit my final year 12 exams, and at the beginning of a relationship that went on for the next three years. It was spring in Perth, and there was a storm coming. The relationship was still new, we'd only been going out a couple of weeks, and we were sneaking around as he was my sailing instructor and the brother of a guy in my year at school. We were down at the beach in the middle of the storm, cuddled up in the rain and just talking, when we noticed a man in a bright red kayak being washed up on the beach. He had suddenly appeared, he wasn't there a couple of minutes previously, and the beach was deserted due to the weather. 

We didn't think anything of it and just left him to it as he fell out of his kayak onto the beach. Through the rain we then saw him crawling up the beach towards us, caked in wet sand. Crawling!? Why is he crawling? That's odd. As he came further we could see him more clearly...there were strands of wet hair clinging to his forehead, and he was blue. Totally blue...he looked like an ice block. We realized something was wrong and raced down the sand towards him, his face broke into a relieved smile as he saw us, and he collapsed onto the sand in front of us as his body gave up. I'll never forget that sight, it's still so clear in my mind it could have happened yesterday.

We grabbed hold of him and between the two of us carried him to the public toilets at the side of the beach. We asked him what had happened...his voice shaking he was barely able to speak, eventually he managed to tell us that he had started out in his kayak at 1pm on Rottnest Island, when the storm hit and carried him out to sea. Luckily it had carried him 20 kilometers towards the Western Australian coastline and not out the opposite way out to sea, but it was now around 5:30pm and he had been out in the ocean in the middle of a storm for over four hours, no wonder he was blue and stone cold! 

After we'd sat him down on a bench in the toilets/shower room, my ex called an ambulance and the Sea Rescue team (a bit like the Aussie version of RNLI), and I ran back to the car and grabbed a huge blanket that was in the boot. We wrapped it around him and I sat there with my arms around this shivering man trying to keep him warm. Luckily my ex was a sailing instructor and a member of the sea rescue team, so he was trained in first aid. Rather than put him in a hot shower and make the possibility of hypothermia worse, I just sat there for what seemed like an age, with the blanket around him holding him and rubbing his skin waiting for the ambulance, my heart pounding.

The ambulance finally arrived and the paramedics came in and checked him over, and asked us questions about how we'd found him. They took him to the ambulance and asked for our details. I was terrified my parents would find out so we just gave them my ex's details and refused to give them mine. The ambulance sped off to the hospital, and I went home soaking wet as if nothing had happened, my parents were out so I showered and changed and settled down on the sofa as if I'd been there all evening. 

Over the next couple of days it was all over the news, you can still see the articles on Perth Now, WA Today, and ABC News. I feigned shock when it was announced at sailing that my ex had saved this guys life as everyone congratulated him and he just looked at me and grinned. I do love a good secret. Eventually it all came out, and we always discussed how we wondered what the guy was doing now. A year or so later we discovered his children went to the same school as us, John XXIII College. Perth is such a small world!

Frank Okely with his Kayak. Photo from ABC News.
It's funny how things work out, and I always wonder what would have happened if we hadn't have been on the beach that afternoon. After all, the area was deserted and the nearest house where there would have been people was a 10 minute walk away, how he would have got there in his state I don't know. 

Frank Okely, if you ever read this, we're very happy you were ok!


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Friday, 25 October 2013

Dr Organics Arrives in the USA.


I have great news for anyone in America....Dr Organics has finally arrived in the USA! I know that since I posted my Eczema post a lot of people have been asking me where they can get the Dr Organics Manuka Honey Rescue Cream  in America, well you can now buy it from Vitamin World and Amazon.

All of the packaging is the same, but they have changed their name over there to 'Organic Skincare Doctor', and the ranges that are available are; Aloe Vera, Dead Sea Mineral, Manuka Honey, Moroccan Argan, Olive Oil, Rose Otto, Royal Jelly, Tea Tree, Vitamin E.

If you don't already know what the Dr Organic Manuka Honey Rescue Cream is, then you should, especially if you have dry skin or suffer from eczema. It's been my lifesaver over the past year. I suffer from really severe eye eczema, particularly in the autumn as I'm allergic to mould, which always seems to worsen my asthma and eczema. For months I struggled with swollen dry eyes, I would wake up with them swollen shut and my skin so flaky it would fall onto my lashes and face (gross, eh). Anyway, the Manuka Honey cream is incredible, I just cover the dry area in it when I go to bed, leave it to soak in, and within a few days my skin is baby soft again. 

I've been recommending it to people with dry skin and eczema who have come to me asking for help and advice after reading my original post, and it has worked for absolutely everyone who has given it a go. I've had people from all over the world thanking me for the recommendation. One woman from Australia told me her son had had severe eye eczema for 4 years, and nothing had worked, not even doctors prescriptions. But after a week of using the Dr Organics Manuka Honey Rescue Cream, the eczema had completely disappeared, and his skin was hydrated, repaired, and 'normal'.

The problem with having eczema, especially on your face, is how much it knocks your confidence and self-esteem. I hated going out when I had flare ups, and would pile so much chemical-laden make-up on to try and hide the redness that it just made the problem worse. And the worst thing is that all doctors do is continue to prescribe you steroids, which thin the skin, and have left the skin and pigmentation around my eyes completely ruined. Thankfully the Manuka Honey Cream is a completely natural product, so you can use as much as you like and it won't damage the skin. It's also really soothing and unlike other creams doesn't sting the dry and damaged skin.

If you're in the USA and have dry skin/eczema, give it a go and let me know your thoughts! You can buy it from Vitamin World or from Amazon.com..
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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

VQ Bloomsbury Launch.


Now before I start this, I must confess that I am slightly biased, as I'm affiliated with VQ in that they're a social media client of mine. However, it is an absolutely amazing place, and I've loved them since before I started working with them. VQ (formerly Vingt Quatre) has been an institution on the Fulham Road in Chelsea for 18 years, an awesome 24 hour restaurant, they've just opened a new site in Bloomsbury just off Tottenham Court Road.

I first went to VQ at around 8am on New Years Day a couple of years ago, after having around an hours sleep from the night before, and since then I've been at least once a month since. Tuesday evening was the VQ Bloomsbury soft launch, which was basically a chance for the new staff to test the waters and practice on some guinea-pigs who would come back no matter how bad the first practice was. I took along a couple of colleagues on Launch #1, and some friends on the second launch night.


Dan had the Super Burger, which is absolutely enormous, and is VQ's specialty. As you can see from the photo above...it's pretty huge. However Dan polished it all off, and declared it 'amazing!'. 


I had the normal burger, which looks pretty rubbish compared to the super burger, but it tasted good, and that's what matters. Shervon had the steak, and Amy had the club sandwich. Now, although the food was good, there were a couple of wee problems that made it a night to remember! The extractor fan wasn't working properly, so the restaurant was completely filled with smoke. That coupled with the super slow service (they were testing out the new staff), meant my eyes stung like a bitch and Dan had to get his jacket dry cleaned, but we all just laughed about it, and despite the issues we had a really great night! 

The second night of the launch was much better, the staff numbers had reduced so the service was back to being speedy gonzales, and the extractor fan issue was fixed so the restaurant was smoke-free! I had a Cosmopolitan and VQ's famous Eggs Benedict, as they're known for having the 'Best Eggs Benny' in London. It really is delicious, and I highly recommend it if you're in the area! I just had the single Eggs Benny rather than the double, so I could have the Sweet Potato fries with it and a Knickerbockerglory afterwards.


The new site is brilliant, it's right behind the Dominion Theatre on Great Russell Street, and is over double the size of the Chelsea restaurant. The inside is all ultra cool and design-y, with a huge light wall, and there's also a bar where you can just have drinks and snacks if you don't want a full meal. VQ Bloomsbury is open for food 24 hours a day, and they serve alcohol from 8am-2am, it's the perfect choice for after-clubbing munchies, brunch, or dinner! They also have 50% off all food until the end of the month! Also, go follow us on Twitter ;) 


VQ (Vingt Quatre) on Urbanspoon Square Meal
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Monday, 21 October 2013

Happy 18th Birthday Christopher!


A HUGE happy birthday to my little brother, who turns 18 today! Where have the past 18 years gone!? Time is flying way too quickly, and I'm feeling rather old. I still remember the day he was born, and my Dad picking me up from school and taking me to see him. When he was small we used to call him the Orangutan because he had a shock of red hair that just grew upwards and wouldn't flatten down!

Like all siblings we had blazing rows when we were children, squabbles and arguments with 'I hate you!' flying around quite often. Thankfully as we've grown up those squabbles have turned into laughter, the 'I hate you's' have turned into hugs, and I couldn't imagine my life without him. We grew close when we moved to Australia, and since then all we do is laugh and have fun, and we even went on holiday just the two of us back in August, to Denmark and Sweden! It's also great because he refuses to go on holiday with my parents unless I go too, so they still have to take me on holiday every year just to be the entertainment ;) haha.

There are so many amazing memories and photos from the past 18 years, that I could go on forever, but here are a few of my favourite photos below just to sum up my amazing brother.

Happy Birthday Chris! 
Have the most amazing day, I don't tell you nearly enough, but I love you and am so thankful for you!


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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Tissot 160th Anniversary Bash.


Thursday evening was the Tissot 160th Anniversary/Birthday party at Supperclub in Notting Hill. I went with some of my colleagues straight after work, and we met some of my friends there. Henry and Edd were told they had to be on their best behaviour with my colleagues in attendance (I didn't have to worry about Rich, he's always good!)...however they didn't listen and before I knew it glasses were smashed, Haribo were being thrown everywhere, and Edd was spritzing the waiters with cologne to 'make them smell nice'. The waiters weren't too impressed and wondered what on earth he was doing.

However the evening did start off very civilized. We arrived at the red carpet, were handed Bellini's, and started mingling. Jokes, who actually mingles with strangers at these things!? Everyone just chats within their own groups and gives you evils if you so much as try to talk to them. So just like everyone else we just spoke to the people we already knew. 


As the bar filled up the huge doors into the actual venue slid open, revealing display cases with Tissot watches, the history of Tissot lining the walls, and a huge rotating video cube in the centre of the room in front of the DJ booth. Of course being Supperclub, the walls were also lined with huge beds. We wandered through and headed straight for a bed, it was a bit strange sitting on it in heels, with my arm leaning on a table in the center of it.






After a speech from the President of Tissot and entertainment from the dancers, they started bringing round canapes. The canapes were ah-mazing! Mini burgers, fish and chips, risotto, and sushi. And it was never-ending! After the canapes were dessert bowls full of Haribo sweets and Lindt truffles. It was also free drinks all night. Now this is my kinda party!

Henry and Rich found the baby sized forks to go with the Risotto hilarious!


After the Bellini's were finished, out came the Whiskey Sours. This was going to be my last alcoholic drink as I had a horrible cold, but when my third coca-cola arrived it tasted a bit odd...Edd told me "Oh yeh, it's full fat coke, you had diet before", "Err, no...I always have full fat..."..."Erm, well we may have put vodka in it..." Henry responded. So basically my friends spiked my drink with alcohol. I gave up with my no alcohol thing then, and before I knew it I had joined them in throwing Haribo in the air and dancing til my feet hurt. And my colleagues? Thankfully they loved the guys and threw themselves into the dancing too!


Edd and Henry with their free Whiskey Sours. We love free drinks.

Happy Birthday Tissot, thanks for having us, we had an absolutely awesome night!


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*disclaimer: the glass was smashed accidentally, we don't go around purposefully smashing glasses at events! 
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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

London Restaurant Festival 2013 - Cicchetti Trail.


On Saturday Dan and I went on the Cicchetti Trail as part of the London Restaurant Festival 2013. We started at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental, where they gave us a 'passport' each with the instructions that we were allowed to go to any of the six restaurants between 12noon and 9pm, and eat a selected dish with a glass of bubbly or beer at each place. 

At Theo Randall, our first stop, we had prosecco and the most delicious calamari in padella, as well as zucchini (courgette) fritti on the side to share. The calamari was fantastic; not chewy and tough, and seasoned to perfection. Zucchini Fritti is one of my favourite dishes; fried courgettes, they were amazing - completely melt-in-your-mouth amazing.




Our next stop was a favourite of mine, San Carlo Cicchetti (see previous review) on Piccadilly. Here we had Truffle and Pecorino Ravioli, with an onion and cream sauce, with a Bellini to accompany the dish. The truffle was delicious, and the onion and cream sauce thankfully wasn't too 'oniony', and was quite light rather than the stodgy cream sauce you so often get in restaurants.


After San Carlo Cicchetti, we got a little lost looking for Mele e Pere as the address and postcode on the map page of the passport was wrong. Eventually we found it thanks to Google, and although nice, it wasn't my favourite on the trail. The food was excellent, but it just didn't blow me away as much as the other restaurants. I had the home made fregola, romanesco broccoli and grilled king prawns, with white vermouth. 

Time definitely flies when you're having fun, because before we knew it it was 6pm and we'd only managed three restaurants since we started at 2:30pm! We ran to Polpo just off The Strand, and decided that it was probably best if this was our last one as we had some birthday parties to get to. To say we were full would be a major understatement, it's surprising how filling small dishes are! Polpo was definitely my favourite out of them all. Unassuming and situated at the dark, quiet end of a busy street in Covent Garden, we thought it was closed, then we noticed the soft glowing light inside and the large queue of people.

At Polpo we could choose 3 dishes from their 'Cicheti' section of the menu. I chose the Arancini, Potato & Parmesan Crocchette, and the Ricotta, Squash and Sage Crostini, with a glass of white wine. Although the Arancini and Crocchette don't look like anything special, the flavours inside the breaded outside were fantastic, and the Crostini was sensational - ricotta and squash go incredibly well together.



The restaurant was dark with glowing lights coming from handkerchief lights overhead, it had a buzzy but relaxed atmosphere, and the food was exceptionally good. It's the perfect restaurant for a date, and reminded me very much of Trullo in Highbury and Islington. 

We had a lovely time on the Cicchetti Trail, and I'll definitely be booking to go on more London Restaurant Festival events next year! You can still book onto some for this years' - if you're around over the next couple of weekends, go to their website and see what takes your fancy!

After feeling very full and quite tipsy, we went to the Sloaney Pony for Caroline's birthday drinks, before heading over to Bodos Schloss to party in celebration of Mark's birthday! 


The evening was full of shots brought to us on wooden ski's, and lots of birthday cake...


Birthday Boy!

I look really miserable here, but my hair looks good, so naturally it had to go up.

How was your weekend? Have you been to the London Restaurant Festival at all?


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*I was invited to the Cicchetti Trail event and given two complimentary tickets in return for this blog post. All views are my own and are never influenced by anyone else.
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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Special K Challenge Update #1

If you read my Big Challenge post a couple of weeks ago, you'll know that I'm taking part in the Special K Change For The Better campaign. Kelloggs Special K are sponsoring a few bloggers to make a change in their life that will make them happier. I've chosen to pledge to tone up and get fit! So how has my first 2 weeks been? Busy. 

I'm trying to walk to work as much as possible (even in the rain!), and as we recently moved offices, my walk is now almost 6 miles a day (there and back) rather than 5. I've been so busy lately with events and things that I've barely had a free evening to myself let alone to hit the gym, but things are calming down now so Claire and I are gonna go this week. 

The gym situation is a frustrating one. The gym I can use for very little fee is back home in Guildford, but as I work in London and don't get home to Guildford til 8pm, the last thing I want to be doing at that time is hitting the gym. I've been trying to find one in London to join for just 2-3 months, preferably one that's on my walk home to the station so I'm in that motivation zone, but none of them do 2-3 month membership packages! 

I had huge issues with LA Fitness a month or so ago, they were offering 3 months or something for £99 - perfect! Then I get in there and they basically forced me to sign up to a 12 month contract there and then, telling me I could get all this free stuff (which I then never got - ie; personal training sessions). Then, I found out from some research that the LA Fitness contract is a credit agreement which means if you cancel, it can affect your credit rating (not a great thing when I'm looking to buy a flat in the next year). So I cancelled quickly before my 2 week cooling off period was up. I was also really annoyed with them because the facilities and classes were shockingly shit for the price I was going to be paying had I not cancelled, and they never gave me an induction so I didn't even know how to use some of the equipment as it was a different make to what I'm used to. Surely that's illegal?! When I was a student and worked in a gym for 3 years, we had to give everyone an induction before they used any equipment, otherwise if something happened to them we wouldn't be insured? Ugh, anyway, I'm not a huge fan of LA Fitness and very quickly got out of there. 

So anyway, this week I'm going to the RAC gym with Claire, and hopefully that one will be a lot nicer. Plus it'll be nice to go to a gym with a friend who has the same goals as me (toning & increasing fitness). Also Special K have been really lovely, they sent a huge box of goodies in the post last week which was a total surprise. I'm not a huge cereal fan, I'm a Porridge girl, so I loved the sachets of porridge they sent as they're perfect for work. And I love love love the sea salt and balsamic crisps, and the Chocolate 'biscuit moments' bars! The only bad thing, is that the box of crisps was a large box rather than individual packets...which wasn't great for portion control. Instead of the 95 calories or whatever per individual packet, I ate the entire box...400+ calories worth...in one day :/ woops! They're just so moreish! I did share some of them with my colleagues though...but only a few. I don't share food.

So that's my update for this week - look out for my next one in 2 weeks time when I'll be telling you all about how I've been getting on at the gym!


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