Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Farewell 2014.

Thankfully 2014 was a much better year for me than 2013. I ticked off a biggie which was on my 2013 list which was to change jobs, and I also ticked off visiting Cuba, Italy, Budapest, and Vienna! As well as finally ticking Cuba off my list after it was on there for 10 years, I also went back to Australia for a visit, and headed back over to my ancestral home; The Isles of Scilly. I've also had my fair share of incredible parties, events, and food! So, without further is my 2014 blog wrap-up...


As always January was quiet, I went to some London Collections:Men events, and then had some time off work before I started my new job, so I exercised a lot and baked a lot. counterintuitive I know, but damn were those salted caramel brownies worth it! Learning to bake was on my 'To-do list' for 2014, so I'm very happy I ticked it off and learnt how to bake some pretty delicious treats. 


In February I jetted off to Perth, Australia for my annual trip back. It was so lovely to see my gorgeous friends and take a ride in Uncle Gray's new Jag! I'd been looking forward to it for weeks so had great fun sitting in the passenger seat up and down the freeway. I also headed over to Sydney for some meetings, and being in the city again made me realize that I definitely wasn't ready to move there (long story). 


The day after getting back from Australia I started my new job! Still in London, but in a more central location and with a much larger agency rather than a startup. I miss my old colleagues a lot, but I still see them regularly and my new colleagues are pretty darn awesome! March also saw me finally visit SUSHISAMBA, which was freaking amazing, and attend the Individualism: Buttoned Up, party.


April was my birthday month! I started it with a trip up to Wales to see my bestie and god-daughter, and then I went along to a really lovely event with Chisou & Nyetimber. Next up was my insanely good Mexican street festival birthday party with Diego, where I finally met the amazing Hannah and Melanie! The day after my birthday party was the bloggers brunch that I organized (yep, I was very hungover for this - sorry ladies!). For my actual birthday weekend (which was also Easter weekend), I went down to Dorset with the family, which was a really lovely break! My busy month was rounded off with the Bacanal La Plage party with Henry, Edd, and Jasiminne.


May was my month of travel! I spent the bank holiday weekend celebrating my mum's 50th birthday in Rome. I then had a mini night away with one of my closest friends in Cheltenham to review the Queen's Hotel (which was slightly disappointing), before jetting off to Cuba (Havana and Cayo Largo Del Sur) for 10 days, which was quite literally the most incredible holiday I've ever had. Cuba is an insanely beautiful country and we had the most amazing time! Amongst all that travelling though, I still found time to finally visit Duck & Waffle!


June was the start of the busy summer season. I gave Royal Ascot a miss this year in favour of a more relaxing day with the girls in London - we had a lovely day in a pedal boat on the Serpentine, before lunching at On The Roof With Q, and then going to Claire's for her birthday dinner

I also went for a perfume portrait at Ormonde Jayne, and reviewed the delicious Greek restaurant Mazi in Notting Hill, as well as Alain Ducasse's new restaurant Rivea. And of course how could I ever forget the Smiths of Spitalfields launch, where Edd and I got so drunk we sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody word for word, and danced to Proud Mary much to everyone else's amusement.


July was yet another busy month! I had my first restaurant review in print, with my write-up of Alain Ducasse's Rivea in the Belgravia Residents Journal. The summer really kicked off with Henley Regatta, BST and Wireless, which was so much fun (bar Henley, which was a bit of a washout this year). I also reviewed Hakkasan, made my own Magnum ice-cream, and went to the Polo at Cowdray where Jasiminne and I had a lot of fun in the Veuve Clicquot VIP tent.


My August started with a dream come true. I visited Innocent Juices head office, Fruit Towers, for an evening of good taste. I've loved them since they very first started, so it was so much fun going to see their awesome offices! I also made very yummy Lemon Bars for when the girls from London came down to Surrey for a picnic. Peter's pool party marked the end of summer, as did the Next Christmas press day :( sad times!


September started with a bang - Jemima, Oli and I headed to the Kings Road for a wild night out at our favourite haunts; Raffles and 151. I then went to the HAC Polo with the gang (plus Jasiminne who I persuaded to come last minute), and a few days later we headed to the Country Life Ball at the Natural History Museum. A coupla days after the ball I flew off to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for a long weekend to check out their food festival and visit my ancestral home. The busy month was rounded off with a baking class with Eric Lanlard, the Guirado x Sanctum launch party, and a visit to the Everyman Cinema in Selfridges


October was another month of travel, Bella and I decided to escape for a week of girlieness, think lots of cake, cocktails, culture, and spas. We went to Budapest and Vienna and had a really wonderful time - we even stayed in an incredibly beautiful palace in Vienna! As well as travelling I also checked out the Quaglinos refurb, had a night of fashion and cocktails, and tried Absinthe for the first time. 


Well, November started off very well, I was very lucky to attend the Children in Need Gala Dinner, which was a rather glamorous affair! I continued the glamour with the Caledonian Club Ceilidh, one of the few clubland events I attended and actually blogged about this year (I'm not sure you're all that fussed about hearing about a wine tasting event at the Carlton, or a hog roast at the In & Out?! :/). Anyway, November also saw me make the absolutely insanely good Triple Oreo & Nutella Cheesecake, and my god-daughter came to visit me for the weekend, so we had a day up in London at the Harrods Christmas Grotto! The month finished with a very festive ice-skating session at Somerset House with the Google team.


December was the month of Christmas events and afternoon teas. I had an epic three afternoon teas (Lancaster, Mr Foggs, Intercontinental)! Events included Cabaret at Scarfes Bar and the Johnnie Walker photobooth at M. Then it was Lotte's really lovely Christmas Fundraiser drinks, it was so great to see everyone as usually people are so busy in December. I also saw quite a few of the clubland gang at the Royal Automobile Club Christmas Ball, and then it was time for Christmas (with Stelle di Stelle in-between), and looking forward to a whole new year of fun and laughter and making memories.

To say it's been a busy and epic year is an understatement, it's been a pretty good one, which I'm very thankful for. It's funny having this wee blog, I get so many opportunities with it, and what started out as me just recording friends' events and parties, clubland events and holidays and restaurants I visited, has turned into this much bigger thing. My favourite posts remain the ones I started out blogging about; events, food, and travel. 

It's funny because my travel and food posts are the post popular, but I think my absolute favourites are actually the event ones....mainly because I love to look back at them every so often, and while you all read about the things that happened that I tell you about, I see the night in my mind, and see everything else that happened around what I've told you. It's knowing the little moments that I've kept a secret from you gives me a bit of a rush to be honest and makes those little funny/private moments so much more special.

So, here's to 2015, and making even more memories! And who knows, maybe 2015 will be the year I finally decide to grow up a bit and allow a man to sweep me off my feet again. I said maybe, so don't hold me to that ;) 

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Intercontinental London.

Yep. I indulged in yet another Christmas afternoon tea. But why not? It's Christmas! It was also the perfect excuse for the bestie and I to have a proper catch up. It's been months since we did something just the two of us, as usually we're in our group or with the girls. We had such a lovely afternoon and the food was delicious and rather ingenious, so naturally I had to share it with you all.

intercontinental park lane london christmas afternoon tea
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We got the train into central London and walked from Green Park to the glamorous five-star Intercontinental, which is just on the corner of Park Lane. You might remember it from this post where I got a sample of Theo Randall's cooking, and also this post where I went to their epic Gin & Jazz night.

intercontinental park lane london

I love the Intercontinental because it reminds me of the Shangri-La hotels, it smells fresh and citrus-y, and the modern interior design reminds me of the Shangri-La's Asian influences. It oozes luxury and is just a lovely place to be in. The Wellington Lounge where the afternoon tea is served is big and light, with plush sofas and chairs that you just sink back into.

intercontinental park lane wellington lounge afternoon tea

This year the Intercontinental's Christmas afternoon tea (£42pp) is based on the Twelve Days of Christmas song. It's so clever how chef Paul Bates has designed it! 

intercontinental park lane champagne cocktail

It starts with a champagne cocktail and the delicious sandwiches, where you indulge in Squab and Wood Pigeon (geddit, pigeon instead of dove...because it's illegal to eat doves), Salmon and 'Lords of the Hundred' cheese, and French hens egg mayonnaise and cucumber. 

intercontinental hotel london afternoon tea

Then it's onto the Mountbatten estate Partridge with Morel mushroom and fois gras pie. I do love Partridge so this was quite a treat! 

intercontinental london christmas afternoon tea

The tea finally arrived once we'd finished our cocktails, I opted for the Wild Berries, while Emma went for the Wellington Blend. Both of our teas were really refreshing, and I love that they keep filling them up whenever they get empty!

intercontinental london afternoon tea

The scones were a little disappointing, in the past we've been spoiled with cranberry and all-spice, as well as Christmas pudding scones, so to have plain ole sultana scones was a bit 'meh'. They were very light though and tasted yummy!

intercontinental park lane afternoon tea

The desserts more than made up for the slightly uninteresting scones! A swan shaped Strawberry Chantilly filled choux bun was the highlight, along with the Golden ring treacle tart. The three milk flan was also delicious, it tasted a little like a creme brulee but without the cracked top, while the drum was dark chocolate mousse which just melted in your mouth!

intercontinental park lane christmas afternoon tea

intercontinental christmas afternoon tea five gold rings
Fiiiiiiive gooo-oold riiiiiings!

The Christmas Afternoon Tea would have been absolutely perfect had the scones been a little more interesting. While last week's Mr Foggs tea was the fun-factor, this one is for the more classy and sophisticated of you. It's the type of tea you book to go to with your mum/aunt/grandmother, or your girlfriends if you want something elegant and relaxing yet still satisfying and filling.

We left feeling full enough to burst, so walked back to try and work some of it off. On the way back to Waterloo we saw the most amazing sunset.... isn't it just beautiful!

Sunset over Westminster in London

Could you guess what each of the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' references were without me telling you? What's your favourite afternoon tea?

*Our afternoon tea was complimentary for the purpose of review. All my opinions are completely honest.

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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas 2014.

Merry Christmas all! Sorry this is a little late, but I've been far too busy enjoying myself and eating my weight in food. I've had chocolate and sweets for breakfast the past three days, and I can't see this new habit changing until January 1st. 

I think Dylan's face in the below photo says it all; exhaustion, food coma, and a bit overwhelmed by it all.

As we lost my Grandfather last year, my Nanny came to stay with us for Christmas, and it was a little strange with it just being the five of us. Last year we all went to my Aunty's for Christmas day so there was a big crowd of us, so it was weird having such a small Christmas this year, but also kind of nice. It meant no rushing around, no driving, and no fighting over who gets the most pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon) as there were plenty for all of us.

I was working until lunchtime on Christmas eve, so I got home and had a little rest before we all went to church. On Christmas morning we all had a nice lie-in, then everyone went into mum and dad's room to open stockings (even Dylan joined us on the bed, which was a total treat for him as he isn't usually allowed upstairs!).

After stockings we had croissants and bucksfizz for breakfast, then it was time to get up and dressed (we're not the type of people to spend Christmas day in our PJs). Finally we gathered in the living room and opened our presents while listening to Christmas songs and carols from kings. I was absolutely thrilled to receive so many lovely gifts, including the underwater camera I've been lusting after since my other one broke when I was in Cuba in May

After presents was lunch, where we drank a bottle of our Peppermint Grove SSB from The Growers. I got it when I was in Margaret River back in February, and it's insanely good. The afternoon was spent walking Dylan, and then Boxing Day was a day of leftover Christmas lunch, films, and a drink in the pub after another walk (where I found some Holly with berries on - how festive!).

Today we took my Nanny home and spent a day at the seaside. We had lunch at the Bluebird cafe (they do the best fish and chips), and then Dylan had great fun jumping in and out of the waves on the beach!

Now we're at home settling down to watch films in front of the fire. Bliss.

How was your Christmas? Did you get anything nice?

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Monday, 22 December 2014

An Instagram Christmas in London.

The past few weeks in London have been pretty picture perfect. The lights on Oxford Street that I pass under twice a day every day to work are glittering and make it look like a winter wonderland. The shops are heaving and battling through the tourists to and from work has been stressful, but I just can't help but smile at all the pretty lights and decorations adorning every window.

As well as working in London on the weekdays, I've also been in town on the weekends quite a bit the past few weeks. Usually I spend the weekends at home in the Surrey hills, but December is such a busy month I've barely spent any time in the countryside. So, let me take you on a journey through a wintery London via instagram photos, and what christmassy things I've been up to lately...

Christmas is officially here when the club have their trees up! The Royal Overseas League do Christmas in style, the clubhouse looks so beautiful this time of year. 

The one good thing about working so close to Oxford Street is Selfridges. I may have a little addiction. But seriously, how freaking awesome are their window displays this year!?

Now I discovered this beauty a couple of weeks ago. Meatliquor's XXMAS burger, it contains sausage meat, stuffing, turkey, bacon, cranberry sauce, AND gravy. It's basically a heart attack in a bun. But it's a taste sensation. Just make sure you detox for a week afterwards.

Christmas in London isn't complete without visiting the ice-rinks! A few weeks ago Edd and I checked out the Somerset House rink with the guys from Google.

The below is the other Christmas tree from the club, this one is the one in the main entrance hall. Isn't it a beauty?!

Of course Christmas also wouldn't be Christmas without a Festive Afternoon Tea experience, and I've been lucky enough to have TWO this year! Two! First I tested out Mr Foggs, and then the Intercontinental (see pic below - review up soon!).

Just look at that winter sunset! It's a beauty, isn't it? 

Christmas jumper day at work. Yep, I went eighties style. Tartan skirt, roll neck jumper, old school style coca-cola sweater, and my hair up in a high side-pony. Boom.

Entire outfit: Sainsbury's Yes. Sainsos.

I discovered that the Costa white hot choc is nowhere near as good without cream on top....luckily the festive cup cheered me up though!

I think my favourite decorations this year are probably the Covent Garden ones, they're so cute!

Coat: Michael Kors. Shoes: Yull. Scarf: Zara. Bag: Accessorize.

For my Dad's birthday we went up to London for the day this Sunday and had a day of little luxuries. We wandered down Portobello Road, had lunch at Gail's, and then pootled around the antique stalls and shops.

We then headed in to the Electric Cinema (see my review here) to see The Hobbit. It's a tradition for my Dad and I to see The Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit together, but the past two years we've dragged my mum and brother along too. 

We finished the day with dinner at The Ivy, which was OK, but I wouldn't return. I think sister restaurants, The Ivy Market Grill and Le Caprice are much better. 

And of course, despite the past 2-3 months being insanely busy, and despite the fact I can't remember the last time I had a relaxing day at home due to the insane amount of events I've had on, at the end of the day/night I get to return to see this cutie. Most of the time I wake him up, but sometimes he stays put in a deep slumber, all wrapped up in his blanket, and he melts my heart. 

Oh I can't wait to finish for Christmas and just chill out all day every day in the countryside watching movies and eating my weight in food! 

Oh yeh, and here's the view we had the other morning when we picked up our Christmas tree.... 

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