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 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.

Sakura at Sake no Hana Cocktail

Last week Dan 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! 

Sakura at Sake no Hana Japanese Cherry BlossomWe 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.

Sakura at Sake no Hana 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.

Sakura at Sake no Hana spinach cassava chips

Sakura at Sake no Hana white miso soup

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!

Sakura at Sake no Hana picnic box

Sakura at Sake no Hana sushi box

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. 

Sakura Cotton Cheesecake at Sake no Hana
Sakura Cotton Cheesecake at Sake no Hana

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.

Sakura Cherry Macaron at Sake no Hana

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. 

Sakura at Sake no Hana

Sakura at Sake no Hana

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.

Sakura at Sake no Hana
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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*Our meal was complimentary, but all views are, as always, my own honest opinion.

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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Friday, 17 April 2015

The Olivier Awards 2015.

Last Sunday I walked the red carpet alongside the likes of Brian May, Gemma Arterton, and Nicole Scherzinger at the 2015 Olivier Awards, which are the major theatre awards in the UK, covering everything from plays to musicals. It's sort of fitting that this blog post is the first one to be published since I reached 1 Million pageviews yesterday, what a celebratory blog post eh!

Olivier Awards 2015 Red Carpet

I was having major issues deciding what to wear, but decided to go for my fail-safe option, my ancient Kate Moss for Topshop black dress. It's low cut at the front and back, but is calf length so it's super classy. I did have a small wardrobe malfunction though...the bra I usually wear with it was in the wash, so I had to go bra-less...however when I took my coat off the strap went with the coat...lets just say thank goodness I have long hair to cover what could have been completely on show! I also managed to whip the strap back up pretty quickly before anyone noticed that underneath my hair was my right breast.

So anyway, before that little incident happened, I got a selfie with Brian May. Yes. Yes I did. I was at the entrance to the red carpet waiting for my friends to arrive (because who walks up a red carpet alone?!), and he and his wife Anita Dobson arrived. They were on the red carpet signing autographs so I thought 'I'm probably not going to get this opportunity again' so I ran over and asked him for a photo. He was very nice and stepped away from the crowds to take a photo with me, he looked a little confused and surprised when I whipped out my phone and put the selfie mode on, and said 'Oh...ok then...'. Welcome to Generation Y Mr May.

Brian May Selfie Olivier Awards 2015

It was quite literally a dream to meet him, I've been a huge Queen fan since I was a child, and ever since I was about 13 I've sung Bohemian Rhapsody at every possible opportunity; when drunk, when sober, karaoke, careoke, you name it and I'll find an excuse to sing it - ask all my friends, family, and work colleagues, they know all too well! However, I got slightly star struck and completely forgot to tell him this! I got into a panic and literally all I said to him was 'I'm sorry, but could I please have a photo?' and 'Thank you!'. That's. It. Good one Catherine. When Sid (who took the majority of photos in this post, btw) and the girls arrived I managed to push him to get a Brian May photo too - he was pretty pleased!

Brian May and Anita Dobson Olivier Awards 2015

We only got one group photo of us all, I have no clue why I'm standing so far away from the rest of them! I look like such a miserable bitch haha!

Olivier Awards Red Carpet 2015

As well as Brian May we also spotted David Harewood and Laura Carmichael from Downton (wasn't a massive fan of her dress...), and I got a cheeky photo with Gok Wan (which you won't see as it's pretty awful...soz).

David Harewood and Laura Carmichael Olivier Awards Red Carpet

All of a sudden we heard screams from down the carpet, so we walked back down and spotted Nicole Scherzinger! Sadly she was doing interviews so we couldn't get a photo with her.

Nicole Scherzinger Olivier Awards

After walking back up the red carpet it was time to head inside. We were running really late so missed the champagne reception, but I was driving so couldn't have enjoyed it anyway! 

Olivier Awards 2015

The awards ceremony itself was absolutely amazing, but I was really annoyed because you weren't allowed cameras at all, not even on the red carpet! So I must apologize for the awful camera photos :(

Anyway, the awards lasted about three hours, but after every couple of awards there was a performance from various members of the cast of the shows. Nicole Scherzinger sang Memory from Cats, which absolutely blew me away - I had goosebumps!

Angela Lansbury received her very first Olivier at the age of 89, which was a huge deal for her - she started her career in theatre and the West End, so to finally receive a coveted Olivier for Blithe Spirit was a massive achievement. I've been a big fan of hers since I used to be obsessed with Murder She Wrote, and when she went up to get the award the entire audience gave her a standing ovation!

My favourite part though was definitely the end. Kevin Spacey received an award for his services to The Old Vic theatre - did you know he's been artistic director there for the past ten years!? I never knew that! He has completely transformed the theatre into what it is today, and he finished the Olivier Awards with an unannounced performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water with Beverley Knight. I never knew how amazing he was at singing! His voice really reminded me of Elvis, and I literally couldn't love him anymore, and then he started playing the Harmonica! Ugh. Love him. What a way to end the awards!

We had such a brilliant evening, and I'd definitely recommend trying to get tickets next year if you can. As Mastercard are the main sponsor of the Oliviers, all Mastercard card holders can try and order tickets when a limited number go on sale to members of the public who have a Mastercard. The seats are all up in the amphitheater of the Royal Opera House, which I didn't mind as the view is actually pretty good. The tickets were about £60, but so worth it for the red carpet experience and amount of entertainment you get throughout the evening. As it was a Sunday night we all headed home after the awards, what with having work the next day!

Check out my vlog below to see more, including a small clip of Kevin Spacey & Beverley Knight singing!

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Naked Fig & Easter Weekend.

So this is my very last Australia post for another year *sob*. I really hope you've enjoyed them, please do let me know in the comments below! For my last post I'm gonna tell you all about one of my new favourite brunch places, as well as what I got up to on my last few days at home.

Swanbourne Beach Naked Fig

As you know from my Rottnest post my parents and brother arrived during my last week. They're staying longer than me as they can get the extra time off work/uni, so we didn't have long with all of us there together. 

We made the most of it by going to Rotto, having lunch at the Wild Fig, riding in Uncle Grey's Ferrari, going to Freo, and finally we had brunch at the Naked Fig (sister restaurant to Wild Fig). We also did lots of lovely things such as going down to the river, going to my favourite Leighton Beach, going to our old beach at City Beach, and we went to see our old school because Mum is really sentimental and a bit sad like that. I got heaps of vlogs which I'm slowly editing, so please do subscribe on Youtube and keep an eye out for them to see what we got up to! 

Anywho, so the Naked Fig on Swanbourne Beach is probably the cutest and coolest brunch place I've ever experienced in Perth. In similar fashion to Wild Fig it was suitably quirky in every way, and the food once again was just divine.

Naked Fig Australia Poached Eggs and Avocado Toast

This time though, the views were even more spectacular than Wild Fig - check them out! 

Swanbourne Beach Australia

Mum, Dad, and Chris all went for the pancakes with bacon, poached eggs, and maple syrup, while I went for the poached eggs and smashed avocado on toast with spinach, tomatoes, and balsamic. Mine was absolutely delicious, and the fam loved their pancakes - apparently they were beautifully light and fluffy!

Naked Fig Australia Pancakes Brunch

Naked Fig Australia Poached Eggs and Avocado Toast

To drink I had a Fruit Fetish juice - a gorgeous blend of orange, passionfruit, and pineapple. It was oh so refreshing on such a hot day!

The Naked Fig Cafe Fruit Fetish Juice

The cafe itself looks really stylish from the outside, and inside it has the quirky features that make the Fig Restaurants recognizable. I really have fallen in love with these restaurants, and like most Aussie restaurants, they're really decently priced, especially with the exchange rate currently being in our favour.

Naked Fig Swanbourne Australia

Naked Fig Swanbourne

After our brunch mum and dad dropped me off at my besties house, where I was staying for the weekend. They were off down south with Aunty Wyn and Uncle Grey, but I didn't want to go as I'd been down to Margs and Busso every year for the past few years. I just wanted to spend some extra time in Perth with my friends, and also it was an old friend from school's birthday party that weekend.

So without further ado, I thought I'd finish my very last post with some photos from my last week in Perth with my family.

Point Walter Western Australia
Point Walter Perth Australia

Iced Chocolate Australia

Point Walter Western Australia

Fremantle Western Australia railway

Fremantle Western Australia

City Beach Western Australia

Iced Chocolate Peppermint Grove

Mosman Park Lookout Australia

Easter Weekend was spent on the beach with friends, partying hard up at the army barracks dressed as pensioners (army boys go HARD - we played drinking games with rum, and my best friend had to look after me when I could no longer stand...nothing changes), and eating fish and chips out the back with the girls and the mozies feasting on my pale english skin. 

I think we make pretty cute pensioners! The barman was not impressed with us tryna help him.

Swanbourne Beach Western Australia

Swanbourne Beach Western Australia

Once again you out-did yourself WA, I miss you already.

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