Happy New Year!

31.12.13


Have a fabulous New Year – see you on the other side xx

My FAVOURITE books of 2013

30.12.13



If your New Years resolution is to read more books then let me help you out. I've read a LOT of books this year and I've written about a fair few, but I've managed to whittle it down to just 10 that I REALLY loved. 

So if you need books for your 2014 reading wish list I present you: 













Adele Parks - The State We're In  - Roller coaster read

Go forth and read, read, read - let me know what you think! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! xxx

December Reading

29.12.13





My blog has been going for a year now - A YEAR! A whole year of you reading my ramblings and maybe (hopefully) taking a few of my book suggestions. 

So thank you for sticking with me and giving me a platform to write what I want. Every view is much appreciated!!

Anyway, on to my December read. After reading a lot of Christmassy books, I was desperate to read something non-Christmas related once the day had passed. So on Boxing Day I picked up Tanya Byrne's Follow Me Down - and read it in one sitting whilst eating cheese and biscuits and drinking Champagne. The best way ever to read a book...

In Follow Me Down we meet sixteen-year-old Adamma who has just started at an exclusive boarding school. There she becomes friends with beautiful Scarlett and the two become inseparable. But when then fall for the same guy, the pair stop speaking. Then Scarlett goes missing and big secrets that she was keeping begin to unravel. And one will change their lives for ever…

This book is dark - and utterly brilliant. Each chapter flips between before and after the big event (which I shall not spoil!) meaning every chapter you change your mind about what the outcome is going to be. You really are kept guessing until the very last pages…. 

Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas….

24.12.13




'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…
So, I'm sorry. I've been a bit AWOL on the blogging front and I only got four book into my 12 Books of Christmas series *hangs head in shame*. 
What can I say? December has been packed full of lots of fun with friends and family and time just seems to have flown by! But I promise once I've eaten that last mince pie and the Celebrations tin is empty I shall be back. Not that that is a resolution. As you know from this post, I hate resolutions...… 

Anyway, the candles are burning, I have a glass of fizz in hand and I'm off to read my favourite Christmas book of all time - 'Twas the night Before Christmas' before Santa comes... 

Have a good one! 



12 Books of Christmas - #4 The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

17.12.13





Wow. Eight sleeps before Christmas and I'm only on book number four. Better get a wriggle on! 

Today I bring to you The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey. I read this in the lead up to Christmas a couple of years ago and really loved it. It's silly and funny and just what you need to take your mind off how many presents you have to wrap and if Grandad Norman is coming to dinner or not… 

The book's main protagonist is Lydia. All she ever wanted was a perfect Christmas so when she and her boyfriend are invited to spend the festive season with her oldest friends she jumps at the chance. 

But what Lydia doesn't expect is her ex and a hunky stranger to be there. And when they're snowed in it doesn't look like it's going to be the most perfect Christmas after all….



12 Books of Christmas - #3 Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

15.12.13




If you're not feeling festive by now, I'm not really sure what it will take - but maybe reading Miracle on Regent Street will help. 

I become a big fan of Ali Harris the moment I read The First Last Kiss which is one of my favourite books of 2013. Spying she had a Christmas book it went straight on my 'to read' list and it didn't disappoint. 

The story centres around quiet Evie who works in a stockroom at a large London department store. Even though her job isn't very important, she loves it and when she overhears that the store might close she goes on a mission to save it.

In transforming the store she also goes on a personal transformation - but is it all for nothing? And will she ever get noticed…? 

Lovely read for a Sunday to make you feel Christmassy!

12 books of Christmas - #2 Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

9.12.13



With just 16 sleeps until Christmas (gulp) the festive season is well and truly upon us. If you're not feeling festive yet though, I urge you to read Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe

I read it when it came out last year and have already read it again this year. It's so sweet and just makes you want to make and eat cupcakes (it includes recipes!) and eat them whilst reading with a hot chocolate (or glass of fizz - why not? It's Christmas!) 

So the book is about Issy Randall. She owns the Cupcake Cafe in Stoke Newington and business is doing well. But when her boyfriend Austin is offered a job in New York she has a difficult decision to make… Will Christmas be ruined? 

A fun, easy read. You can't help but love all of Jenny Colgan's characters. 

John Lewis saved Christmas....

9.12.13


Last weekend I wasn't thinking straight. I blame a hangover and little sleep for the decision I made. It was a stupid one and I quickly regretted what I did. In fact it still makes me feel faint and brings me out in a sweat… 

Ladies and gents, last weekend, the first in December, I decided it was a fabulous idea to head over to Westfield Stratford to 'have a browse' and 'pick up a few bits'. How ridiculous was I? 

Of course, the place was PACKED. And I mean you couldn't move or even walk round a shop properly. I had an argument outside Primark and cried in M&S because the two dine for £10 didn't have the right side dish I really wanted…. Don't judge. I told you I was tired and hungover, OK? 

Needless to say, I got nothing I needed to do done. I gained a few bruises but no actual Christmas shopping. Take this as a warning and don't go out there. 

Luckily John Lewis saved the day as I sought sanctuary in their coffee shop. As well as providing refuge they also provided a damn good scone.

Good old John Lewis. Not only did they help me out of my meltdown and make a bloody good advert, they also sent me a hamper of goodies to review.



I got cute chocolates and  coffee which shall be drank on Christmas morning.




I also got Champagne truffles that, er, have already been scoffed and were absolutely delicious. The bread dipping oils were pretty fabulous too.




Such a pretty little hamper and what a great gift! So instead of facing the crowds in Westfield again I shall be making my own John Lewis hampers from the comfort of my own sofa. Why the hell didn't I think of this before? And I'll be ordering myself  some Champagne too because, well, why wouldn't I?

So thank you John Lewis. You've saved my sanity - as well as Christmas.


* The hamper was sent to me for review but all words are my own, honest opinion. 




12 books of Christmas - #1 I heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

2.12.13





The aim of December is to recommend 12 books to you that are fabulous to read at this time of year and will without of doubt get you in the festive mood. 

Ready for book recommendation number one? 



I heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk.

It's not a secret that I am a big fan of Lindsey Kelk's I heart series. If you haven't read any, you should. They're bloody funny. 

Anyway, I was v excited to hear that Lindsey was writing I heart Christmas so the moment it landed in my hands I read it in one afternoon - and it didn't disappoint. 

Angela's back and can’t wait for Christmas in New York - her first as a wife. But before she can get involved in the seasonal cheer, she has a new job to deal with, a house move and her UK best friend, who is having marriage problems, turning up on her doorstep. To complicate things further, her US best friend wants to have a baby sans father and her parents invited themselves over for Christmas. Things aren’t going to be easy…. 

This book is hilarious from start to finish and made me desperate to see New York during wintertime! Go forth and read with a mince pie and a hot chocolate. Mine's with extra cream…. 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #6

1.12.13


Happy December! That came round quickly didn't it? 

We put out tree up today. Or trees I should say. Why have one when you can have two?



I love our trees but I REALLY love Kim's over at Lunacy of Ink's tree? ENVY. 


Food wise I've been mostly lusting after The Awkward Blog's lunch at Foxlow. I am a BIG fan of Hawksmoor so am desperate to try out the new place. The crispy five pepper squid looks amaze. It's no secret I'm a big fan of Honest burger though I'm yet to check out their latest branch in Camden even though it's just round the corner from my office. Cocktails and Caroline's post made me want to go ASAP! 

I identified with all 12 of Laura Haven's Signs You're a Bookworm, especially number five: 'When people proclaim proudly 'i don't read' a part of you dies. As does a small amount of your respect for them.' 

I also really enjoyed fellow bookworm The Cup and Saucer's A Devourer of Books post. I completely agree with her - I just don't understand people who don't read!! 

I loved Life Outside London's's blog post on having a date night with yourself - v important! And finally, Fashion Life London's Monday Motivation post was brilliant - especially this Champagne quote. I'm going to live by this rule! 


November Reading

30.11.13




Every now and again you read a book which makes you want to nudge the person next to you on the tube and tell them if they haven't read this book they're missing out and they need to get it NOW

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah is this book. My mum passed it on to me, insistent I read it and just a few pages in I could see why. 

The story tells the friendship of Tully and Kate and spans three decades. In their early teens they promise to be 'best friends forever' but of course, life is never that easy… 

Abandoned by her mother, Tully is desperate to prove her worth and is ambitious to find fame when all she really wants is to be loved unconditionally. 

Kate comes from a loving family and not bothered about success or a career, she just wants to fall in love, have a family and live happily ever after…. 

But when the girls get what they wished for, it comes with it's own problems and then an act of betrayal tears them apart - and their friendship is put to the ultimate test… 

Firefly Lane is a coming-of-age story. There are betrayals and secrets but most importantly friendship. And it really is a story you'll never forget. 


Turning 29 - disgracefully

26.11.13



On my 28th birthday I celebrated by drinking lots of cocktails with my lovely friends and downing a lot of shots. 

The night ended by me demanding that Soldier and I get a cab home. After making him pay for said cab once we arrived at the flat I then proceeded to throw up in someones garden. Nice. 

What followed the next day was possibly the worst hangover of my life. I fell asleep standing up whilst leaning on a man on the Central line and on arriving at the office inhaled two Greggs sausage rolls and a diet coke in 00.2 seconds. Unfortunately this only made me feel worse so I spent the next hour basically crying at my desk. 

So with this memory still fresh in my mind I was determined my 29th birthday wouldn't follow the same pattern. 

And surely it wouldn't? After all I was about to turn 29. Ever closer to 30. Surely it would be a small gathering with just a few drinks, right? WRONG. 

My first mistake was picking a bar with a two and a half hour happy hour where EVERYTHING on the menu was half price including my favourite Champagne, Pommery, which was going for £25 a bottle. My second mistake was feeling the need to drink as much as possible before the end of happy hour chimed at 7.30pm. 

So I arrive and my best friend Sarah had arranged for a bottle of Pommery and a balloon with a pic of her face to be brought over. Soldier also bought a bottle as did Elaine. You can see how this is going can't you? 



Then came the inevitable round of shots of Sambucca that I can never, ever turn down. So now I'm drunk. And when I'm drunk I feel the need to be elevated above everyone (I think it's a being short thing.) I stood on a chair and my housemate Rachael followed me up. Then I decided to take it one step further and comb on the table… Which tipped over spilling every ones drinks. Not ideal. 




Not long later I step outside for 'air' and proceed to throw up in the street. Classy. I then try and get back in the bar but the two bouncers stop me and tell me I'm a 'security risk'. They could have had a point… 

One of them goes to get Soldier who brings up my stuff and we flag down a cab - a cab which I have to keep stopping so I can be sick. Again, less than ideal. 

I don't remember much after that. I DO remember waking up the next day unable to lift my head from the pillow and looking like a model for an anti-binge drinking advert. Oh and being relieved that I had booked the day off work this time…

So it seems despite being a year older, I'm none the wiser. Here's to next year. Maybe moving into another decade might mature me. Then again, I highly doubt it…. 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #5

24.11.13




Just over a week has gone by since my birthday (which I shall be writing about soon… You all need to know about my disgraceful behaviour) so I really enjoyed reading Wander to Wonder's's birthday resolutions. As I wrote about here I really hate making New Year resolutions but birthday resolutions aren't a bad idea…. As you know I LOVE pizza and Wander to Wonder has also made me want to jump on the tube and head to Wimbledon IMMEDIATELY after seeing this huge pizza. I need it in my life! 

My friends David and Jules went to Circus restaurant in Covent Garden recently and seeing Cocktails and Caroline's post made me want to go there even more. Who wouldn't love watching circus acts between courses? 

With Christmas on the horizon (there is no escape from it now) I loved reading about milk bubble tea's Christmas Eve box tradition - such a lovely idea and something I might have to do myself. 

And talking of Christmas, I may have to make these peanut butter and jam cookies The Awkward Blog made as they look SO good. 



As you can see my fave blog posts this week have basically been all food food related - what's new though, eh?! 

Lazy Sunday reading: Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

24.11.13





On a cold Sunday like this, it's nice to sit on the sofa, onesie on and read a book cover to cover. 

Well ladies (and gents!) I give you Miranda Dickinson's Take a Look at Me Now as that book.

The book starts with Nell who is being made redundant - and her on-off boyfriend breaks the news to her. 

Heartbroken and unemployed she decides to head to San Francisco with her redundancy cheque to stay with her cousin Lizzie. 

Once there, with Annie's, an amazing American diner on her doorstep, Nell re-discovers her own dream of opening up her own American style diner and sets about turning her dream into a reality. But throw a romance into the mix, and add her ex coming back on the scene, will everything go to plan? 

This is such a lovely, easy reading book and you can't help but root for Nell and hope it all turns out OK for her. So what you waiting for? Have a lazy Sunday and go read! 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #4

20.11.13



OK, so this is late. Three days late in fact. But you know what they say… Better late than never!

Girl V London is fast becoming my fave blog. SO funny. Couldn’t stop laughing at this post on closing a date. Exactly the sort of awkward thing I’d do!

This post from Being Erica made me want to book a table at Ponti’s Italian Kitchen immediately and how lush does Life Outside London's Fennel and Sausage pasta look? I’ll have a double helping please… 


What Naomi Wrote’s post made me realise I need to send more handwritten letters and cards. I used to be so good at it but this year I’ve been rubbish. This must change!

And finally, Beautiful Solution's’s post on your most annoying Facebook is SO true. We all know a baby bore and a candy crush pest. Though I am a self-confessed wannabe masterchef…

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

12.11.13




I've been a big fan of Dorothy Koomson for a few years now, ever since I picked up my mum's copy of My Best Friend's Girl and read it in one sitting. Each of her books gets better and better and every time I get her latest book in my hands I always think: This can't be any better than the last she did. But every time, it always is. 

That's why I can't recommend her latest novel The Flavours of Love enough. 

The main character is Saffron. It’s been 18 months since Saffron’s husband was murdered and she is determined to finish writing The Flavours of Love cookbook that he started before he died.

Everyone thinks she is coping well but no one knows what she is hiding. And with her daughter confessing a huge secret and her husband’s murderer still on the loose, things aren’t going to get any easier…

With The Flavours of Love, Dorothy Koomson does what she does best – a powerful read which will have you hooked until the end, without a doubt. 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #3

10.11.13



This weekend is my final as a 28-year-old. Yep, it's my birthday on Wednesday and if anyone wants to make me this FABULOUS rainbow cake that Alice over at The Cup and Saucer made I'd be very happy! 


So yes, I'll be heading into my 29th year and I've already started ticking things off things on my 30 Before 30 list so it was good to read Erica's list to see her wishes for her 29th year! 

Food wise this week I really want to make Gem from Fat Frocks sausage tray bake - perfect for these colder nights - and these butternut squash and black bean enchiladas  from Skinnytaste.com I LOVE butternut squash - as you can probably tell from these two recipes! 

Melanie from girl v. london's post on transport etiquette made me laugh out LOUD. The politics of who gets the armrest on the tube is something I battle with everyday of the week! 

Victoria of Lily loves Lola's blog on Liverpool's Hardman's House made me really nostalgic. I went to uni in Liverpool and was there for four years - I miss it when I can but really miss it. Even though I lived there for a long time, I never visited Hardman's House so that is on my to-do list! 

Lastly, but certainly by no means least, please read the details of Caroline Hirons shoebox campaign . When you're out Christmas shopping it takes no time at all to pop a few extra few things in your basket to send to someone who has nothing. 

Happy Sunday! 


Afternoon tea with free flowing champagne - yes really!

10.11.13





There is something so decadent about an afternoon tea. I really love them but have only had been a couple of times simply because they turn out to be just so expensive. 

Enter the Mandeville Hotel's Reform Social and Grill with there fabulous offer of afternoon tea with FREE-FLOWING Moutard Champagne. 

Sound to good to be true? I know. I thought so too. I booked immediately and got my friends Elaine, Kate and Harriet involved, but I was nervous. It was a brilliant offer - so what was the catch going to be? When is an offer ever really THAT good? 

Well trust me, it was that good, and then some.

We arrived just before our 1.30pm booking. It's an amazing venue, really luxurious and the staff couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. 

We ordered the vintage afternoon tea and  started off with peach and green apple Bellini's before the Champagne, well, literally flowed. 



I thought we'd have to keep asking for a top-up of the Champagne but not at all. They staff suddenly appeared, bottle in hand, as soon as our glasses were only half empty. Nothing was too much trouble. They were efficient without being too in our faces and we felt completely relaxed. 



As Kate pointed out, it wasn't stuffy like some afternoon teas. She told one horror story of paying £19 for an extra glass of Champagne!! 

The sandwiches and treats came out really quickly. The sandwiches were cut into fingers and were v tasty, especially the salmon and horseradish on beetroot bread.

But the cakes were the really treat! The scones were fresh and warm - you could tell it had come straight from the oven. They were served with the most amazing clotted cream and jam. We had one each but I could easily have had another! 

We also had pistachio macaroons (which I LOVE) and a slice of mini battenberg, a slither of chocolate cake and a little cherry cupcake. The staff even sang happy birthday to me - v cute and a nice touch. 



Before we knew it our two-hour seating was up and we'd lost count of how many glasses of Champagne we'd had. But the staff didn't rush us out, instead they just asked if we'd mind moving into the lounge area and gave us another top up of Champagne. 


I asked for the bill, and did hold my breath a little, but it was all fine. For over fours hours of lovely food, great Champagne and wonderful company, with service charge which we were more than happy to pay, it was just £36 each. BARGAIN. 



I can honestly say it's the best afternoon tea I've ever had - and not just because of the free-flowing Champers! The atmosphere and the good staff were what made it and I'll definitely be going back. 

The offer is only on for a few more weeks but one of the waitresses said it's sure to be back in January, so keep an eye out on their website.

Right, now I'm off to deal with my Champagne head. Bacon butty anyone? 

Bloody Brilliant Blogs #2

3.11.13




Happy Sunday!

I hope you all had a fabulously spooky Halloween. I don't like to get involved though to be honest - read why here. Kim over at Lunacy of Ink however got fully involved

Food wise this week Isy from A Mouthful has made me lust after this burger and onion rings…. Mmmmmm…. Burger….. 


On a healthier food note, I shall be trying out this recipe from Helen at Treasure Every Moment  for a healthy fish finger sarnie with minted mushy peas. Looks lush! 

With my birthday just around the corner (10 days away to be precise….) and with Christmas on the horizon I shall be hinting for one of the book subscriptions Domestic Sluttery wrote about. Fab idea! 

Girl v. London's London post and fabulous pictures made me feel really lucky to live in such a fabulous city and finally, Kate, from Diaries of an Essex Girl's post on London: Fact and Fiction made me smile! 

Until next week!

I ain't afraid of no ghosts… *

31.10.13




*Actually that's a lie. I am scared of ghosts. And zombies. And basically anything paranormal. Oh, and dinosaurs too. Seriously. I can’t even watch Jurassic Park without having nightmares and becoming convinced that a velociraptor is hiding in the bathroom.
  
I never used to be such a scaredy cat. When I was a kid I'd be the first to tell horror stores and I even forced some friends into doing an ouija board. I was fearless!

So when did I become not so fearless? I think it started in 2002 and I am wholeheartedly blaming Danny Boyle. I went to the cinema with a friend to see 28 Days Later. I don’t why but somehow we were the only ones in the entire screen, which was a bit eerie anyway.

And the film itself. Well. It’s terrifying – mainly because IT COULD HAPPEN. (Stop laughing – it could! We don’t know what these Scientists get up to behind closed doors….)




Anyway, after hiding behind my large popcorn bucket for pretty much the entire film, I was then scared to leave the cinema screen convinced that during the 113 minutes we’d been inside, the entire population had turned into zombies.

It took me a little while to build up the courage and it was only with a lot of coaxing that I left the building and ran to the car.

So there we have it. From then on horror films that had never really bothered me suddenly did.

In 2010 I was lucky enough to go on a press trip to Universal.  The press trip was centred at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Now we all know the Americans do Halloween well, but let me tell you, after going to this I can confirm the Americans do Halloween RIDICULOUSLY well.

There is no person in a comical sheet that shouts boo at you now and again. Oh no. It’s a lot more bloody petrifying than that.

I’m talking about men chasing you with ACTUAL chainsaws, which they drag along the floor in front of your feet and crazy clowns being crazy clown like. 



Oh and then of course there is the 13 houses of horror, which we had to walk through, each one scarier than the other.

Now the rest of the group took it all in their stride, enjoying the scare factor. My friend Ed and I however, were the opposite of taking in our stride. We were actually running in the other direction screaming our heads off.

In one house we walked towards a mirror and could see a ghoul behind us so we ran forward but it was a trick mirror and suddenly the ghoul was in front of us. Ed gripped my arm so hard he actually gave me a huge bruise.

Most of the houses I went through with my eyes closed chanting a prayer to God that I’d be good forevermore if he just got me through this…. Fear does weird things to people, OK?

One of the houses was actually based around 28 Days Later with soldiers on dog chains and generally just crazy zombies jumping out. Basically my kind of nightmare. I’m not sure how I walked through it. I think my memory has blanked it out and put it in a box at the back of my mind marked Never to be Opened.

Put it like this, I was glad when it was all over and we could head back to the hotel because the fear and adrenaline had given me the worst headache I’d ever had. But obviously I was then too scared to sleep, convinced a velociraptor was hiding in the bathroom…. 



So I'm happy to skip Halloween this year thanks and forevermore, is it Bonfire night yet?