January reading


With the snow arriving it was the perfect time to read the book I got for Christmas: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Released last summer I'd heard people rave about it so I popped it on my Christmas list and Santa was kind enough to deliver it!

As I'd heard a lot of good things about this book I was a little worried that it was all hype and I was going to be disappointed. 

I need not have worried. 

The Snow Child was brilliant from start to finish. 

Based in Alaska in the 1920's you're introduced to Mabel and Jack, a couple who are still grieving for a baby they lost years before. 

One night, as the first lot of snow falls, the couple head out and build a snow child, a little girl girl complete with straw hair, hat and mittens. 

The next morning they notice the snow child has gone - but then they catch a glimpse of a young girl running through the trees...

The Snow Child is based on a Russian fairytale and it is such a sweet story but laced with important messages too. 

Perfect reading for a snowy afternoon! 

Here are a few of my snowy London pics!


This January I've also read: 

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling 

I love Harry Potter, who doesn't? So I was desperate to get my hands on this. 

First thing to note is that it's as far removed from Harry Potter as you can get. 

Second thing to note is if you want to read this book you need patience. And a lot of it. 

About 50 pages in I was about to give up. There were too many characters and I was confused with who everybody was and my interest was waning. 

Luckily Laura over at Secret Diary of a Fashion Journalist  told me to stick with and I am glad I did. 

About 100 pages in things started to get interesting and I really couldn't put it down. 

The Casual Vacancy is set in a small West Country town and begins with the death of Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother. With his seat on the council now available this small town comes alive with successors wanting to take his place. 

Conflict ensues as the town goes to war. The race for the seat is on and there are many revelations along the way… 

I've also read The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend. 

I'm afraid I'm not going to give a review on this as I am saving all my thoughts and opinions for the Page Turner Book Club on twitter. 

This was the brainchild of Lorna and I wish someone had come up with this idea before!

I love the idea of book clubs but it is always so difficult to get a group of people together once a month. This way is perfect. Everyone meets once a month on twitter using the hash tag #pageturnerreads to say what they have to say. 

First 'meet' is 3pm this Sunday, 3rd February. See you there! 

Tales from the Underground


I have a love hate relationship with the tube. I love that you can get from one side of the city to another in no time at all. Hate how often to do that you are packed inside the carriage, nose in someone's arm pit. 

So with the London Underground celebrating its 150th year this year I thought I'd share some of my very own stories with you. Some good. Some bad. Some very, very cringe. 

Lets start with a bad one. 

I'd only been in London a short time when I headed home on the Central line after a night out. I hadn't actually drank that much (for once) and was minding my own business when I became aware of heavy breathing. 

Oh God, I thought to myself.

I've heard about these tube perverts!

I slowly turned to look at him, scared as to what I was about to see. But before I had time to do anything he'd leaned forward - and vomited. All over himself. And all over my shoes. I was almost sick myself with the smell of it. 

I sat stunned before swishing off at my station which was luckily the next stop. I was very unimpressed and my shoes were beyond saving. Damn shame. I loved those shoes. 

Another time I almost ended up spending the night in the cells. Seriously. 

Picture the scene. It's a Monday night. It's been a long day at work. You've left for the day and it's raining heavily. You race to the station to find your tube line is down - in fact several are. 

You're not a picture of calm right now, are you? Nope. Neither was I. 

I jumped on the Northern line only to have it crawl all the way to Moorgate. There I jumped off and decided to head to Liverpool Street. So had the rest of London. It was busy. And I mean BUSY. I was cold, wet, tired and wanted to be at HOME. 

I get to the barrier only to find a tourist in front of me with huge backpack and obviously no idea how to get through. 

Now in hindsight I should have just helped her. But please remember the above. I repeat: I'm cold, wet, tired and want to be at HOME. 

So instead of helping I say: 'Turn the ticket the other way.' I say I said it. More like I shouted. 

She looked at me blankly. 

'TURN THE TICKET THE OTHER WAY ROUND,' I shout again with wild hand gestures. 

I didn't mean to shout, I really didn't. But…. well… I just wanted to be at HOME. 

Anyway, she bursts into tears. The queue behind us is bigger than ever. She's now sobbing so isn't moving at all. 

Then a policeman comes over. He's witnessed the entire exchange. (Well, not really exchange. More me shouting…)

Anyway, he looks at me sternly and says: 'I do not like the tone you are taking. If you carry on I will be forced to arrest you.' 

I glare at him. The tourist with the huge backpack steps to one side. I tap my Oyster and run through. All the way down the escalator. It's not until I am at home and regale the story to my slightly horrified boyfriend that I realise what I've done and am mortified. 

But what can i say? The underground. It turns the most sane people slightly crazy at times. 

And now for a story that I would rather forget but am sure you, dear reader, will find rather amusing. 

I bring to you - the accidental lap dance. 

The tube is packed and I have been forced to stand in the middle, in-between the seats, arm stretched holding on to the hand rail (not easy when you're only 5ft 2). I never travel light so have a couple of bags and I am trying to position them so they don't knock into the face of the man sitting down. 

As I am faffing with my bags the tube draws into the station but doesn't do so smoothly. Oh no. It jerks. Not once but at least three times causing me to fall into the lap of the man I was trying not to hit  with my bags. 

Awful enough but as I try to get up the train continues to jerk causing me to not only be unable to get up but actually causing me to grind into this poor mans lap. And to make matters worse my dress has ridden up so he can pretty much see my pants that have seen better days. 

As the tube finally stops and opens its doors I am able to pull myself up and sort my dress out, face a reedy/purple colour. I apologise profusely to the man and he just smiles and goes back to his paper. Of course, this being London, no one else really takes any notice. Or they didn't look like they were anyway. I'm pretty sure they probably headed into the offices and told the story of this 'crazy lap dancing girl' to their colleagues over the water cooler. 

So if that story sounds familiar to you… Yeah that was me. 

Of course, the underground isn't all bad. It's actually a nice refuge when it's cold and raining. It certainly beats getting the bus or being in your car, stuck in traffic. 

And sometimes it can be a very happy, friendly place. Just this Christmas I was travelling from central London back home when a young guy heading into Essex began a sing-a-long to 'Fairytale of New York'. By the chorus everyone was joining in with him. Strangers swaying along and singing at the tops of their voices. 

A few days later I was travelling home from my Christmas party and struck up a conversation with a man opposite me who was holding a nice bottle of red wine. He explained he was also on the way home from his Christmas party and this was his Secret Santa gift. As we drew into his stop he handed me the bottle of wine and with a 'Merry Christmas' he was gone. Who says Londoners aren't a friendly bunch, eh? 

So happy birthday London Underground! Here's to many more stories - some bad, some good, sing-a-longs and of course accidental lap dances… 

What are your tube experiences - good and bad? Let me know! 

Lupita East, Shoreditch


Lupita  bills itself as London's first truly authentic Mexican restaurant - and I wholeheartedly agree. 

There are many Mexican restaurants in the city but Lupita takes the Mexican crown (or maybe sombrero is more appropriate….)

The Embankment branch on Villers Street has been open since 2010 and I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the new restaurant, Lupita East, in Shoreditch back in November with my friend Elaine. 

We couldn't wait to go back and as both of us were shunning a dry January  we ordered  a bottle of Prosecco as we browsed the extensive menu. 

We really wanted the guacamole and the waitress advised us that we ought to order the Guacamole Artesanal which is made at your table. It was such a novelty to see it being made and it tasted so fresh, possibly the best I've ever tasted. It costs £9.95 which for the amount you get is a bargain. 

For our main courses we went with chorizo, onion and potato Quesadilla and a chicken Quesadilla 
and we also got some tacos - the Cochinita Pibil a traditional slow-roasted pork dish and Caritas, barbecued pork. Each dish cost £5.95. They were the perfect size so we weren't too full. 

There was no room for dessert though but even more reason to go back especially as they have a Mezcaleria bar in the basement where there they have shelf upon shelf of Mezcals and Tequilas. 

I can't recommend Lupita East enough. You must go for the Guacamole alone! And maybe a side shot of tequila. Or two...

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher


I'm about to make quite a bold statement, especially as we're only 13 days in, but Ketchup Clouds is my book of the year. Yes, I know, it's only the first month of the year and all that... But trust me. This book is that good that I am confident in making such a bold claim.

Ketchup Clouds is told through the voice of Zoe, a 15-year-old girl who has a terrible secret. A secret so terrible she can't confess to anyone she knows. 

One day she hears of a criminal locked up on death row in Texas. Unable to sleep one night she escapes to the shed and starts writing him a letter. She feels like only he will understand what it's like to keep a dark secret so she tells him everything... 

I read this book in just three hours, desperate to know what the secret was and to see how the story unfolded. I wasn't disappointed. It was brilliant. 

I loved it so much that I purchased Pitcher's first novel My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece straight away.

This book is told by 10-year-old Jamie who hasn't cried since his sister Rose died when he was just five. People said it would get better with time but five years on his dad drinks, his mum has left and his sister Jasmine is left looking after him. 

The book is the account of a young boy's struggle to make sense of the loss that tore his family apart and again, I read this book in just a few hours.

 It is told so well that you just can't put it down as you are desperate to find out what will happen. Another must read!

You can buy both books here: 

If you read them, let me know what you think!

Loves xx

Burger & Shake - New Kid on the Block


2012 saw an influx of burger joints arrive and at the tail end of the year came Burger & Shake. Last but by no means least…. 

Nestled in a street by Russell Square and my friends Lizzie, Nic and I were the first through the doors that evening (keen award). We got there just before 6pm, desperate to beat the queues which apparently you have to have right now to consider yourself a cool eating establishment. 

Surprisingly though there was no queue and we were seated straight away. It made a refreshing change!  

As soon as I sat down I wanted to order an alcoholic shake. I'd been dreaming of one all day and I was not disappointed. Made with coconut, rum, tequila and malted toffee liquor shake, it was heaven in a glass. A very nice martini glass. And a bargain at £6.50!

They only had one alcoholic shake option but as they had only been open just a couple of weeks when I went they assured me that there will be more to come. I'm hoping for a peanut butter shake maybe with rum…. 

The menu was simple - burgers, hotdogs and chicken wings. 

There was only option for Nic and I though - the house burger. A 6oz burger with American cheese, sweet cured bacon, mustard ketchup and (a new one on me) horse radish - YUM. 

Lizzie went for the pork hotdog and we ordered the house fries as well as a bottle of white wine. 

The wine was nice and chilled and the waiter was super friendly. So far, all boxes ticked. 

Then the food arrived…. 

The beef was juicy and the bacon crisp. The addition of the horseradish sauce made it taste like no burger I've ever had before!! Truly delish. And at £9 a real bargain. Apparently the pork hotdog, which cost just £6.50, was pretty tasty too. 


We all cleared our plates in record time and even though we were fit to burst of course we had to sample dessert. It was a chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake, how could we not!?  We weren't sure if we'd be able to finish it though… 

But we did. 

Three very happy girls left a lovely restaurant and a welcome addition to the growing amount of burger joints in London. 

Burger & Shake is definitely one to visit so get down there quickly before the queues form. Because they will, trust me…. 

Burger & Shake - 47 Marchmont Street, London, WC1 N1A https://twitter.com/BurgerShake

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! (I know, I know, a few days late, but has anyone actually got over the festive season yet? I certainly haven't. My brain is still a mince pie.)

So, resolutions. I've had a few (many) and almost always broken them. And I'm not alone. Apparently 88% of resolution makers fail, yet we still make them every year. 

But not anymore for me. Not after last year…. 

It started off well of course. 

1) Exercise more

This will be easy! I thought. Gym membership, check! Trainers, check! My friend Rachel and I nicknamed January 'Jump start January' and I was ready to go. 

So along with all the other January do gooders we hit an aerobic gym class. Hard. I came away feeling so smug that that same day, after work, I went to a Zumba class with another friend Claire. Two classes in one day!! I was owning this resolution! Exercise more? Take that! 


Well then I'm not too sure what happened. I do know what DIDN'T happen. I didn't go to the gym again - not for the rest of the year. So that one gym class I did go to cost me £444 (the Zumba class wasn't included in the gym rates. I paid an extra £10 for that privilege of thinking I was Shakira.) So £444. (Excuse me while I am sick in my mouth as I think how many handbags I could have bought with that…) 

Resolution = FAIL 

2) Have a dry month and 3) save money and 4) lose weight 

So these three go hand in hand don't they? You drink, you eat more when hungover and spend loads. This will be an easy resolution! And in a way it was. I did have a dry month. However because I wasn't drinking I thought it was OK to use the calories I was saving on alcohol on food leading me to put on 7lbs. Half a stone! 

And as for saving money I applied the same theory and went shopping spending drink money on three pairs of shoes in one hit in Office, a new iPod docking station plus various of other things that I probably didn't really need resulting me being even more skint than if I had been boozing. So I actually lost £ and increased the lbs. Not the way round I'd imagined… 

Resolution = FAIL 

5) Eat out less - cook at home  

This would be fine, but I live in London. And 2012 London had an influx of fine eating establishments open. Hawksmoor, Meat Liquor, Honest, STK…. Why stay in when such fine food is on offer? Well I didn't stay in… 

Resolution - FAIL 

So resolutions, I'm done with you. I'm done with being in the 88% of resolution breakers. I'm in my own anti-resolution club. 

There is only one thing I'm concentrating on being in 2013: 

How are you guys doing with your resolutions? Or are you joining me in the anti-resolution club? 

Loves xx