Dinner at Zizzi’s.

Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines, I wouldn’t be surprised even if it was one of the UK’s favourites when eating out. Most High Street’s in Britain will have at least one Italian place! I for one could 100% live off of pizza, pasta, breads and gelato, I mean if it wasn’t for the fact I’d wake up the size of a house of course. I’ve mentioned before how when I’m going out to eat, I live for looking up the best places to go and eat on Tripadvisor, usually I’d opt for somewhere that’s an independent place or somewhere that does a bit different.

However out of all the chain restaurants, Zizzi is honestly one of my absolute favourites. By the way this is not a sponsored post in the slightest, I just really want to sing their praises! They have a really fun, authentic and fresh menu serving really exciting foods for a whole host of tastebuds. I love that their vegetarian AND vegan menu has more than one option each and is all such delicious food. Oh and did I mention at the moment (until the 28th of October I thiiiiink???) they have a cracking 3 course meal offer for £15.95. How amazing is that?! Me and mum went their for a leisurely lunch and I’ll share with you here what we had.

So me and mumsypops actually went to Zizzi in Dorchester’s Brewery Square. It’s a really cool new food quarter and cinema section so it’s perfect if you’re planning on a cinema night and you’re spoilt for choices with some fab dining spots. We had our pooch with us so couldn’t sit inside the restaurant but the kind servers were really accomodating and let us sit in the outside eating section.

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This was my starter and doesn’t it look delicious and carby and like you could eat a whole bucket of them right now???? They’re called Little Soul Breads and they were incredible. They’re little dough balls of heaven, topped with garlic and salt, baked until they’re crusty on top and like a little soft fluffy cloud in the middle. We had a choice of dips but went with a garlic butter and a white bean and basic pesto. DIVINE.

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So obvs if I’m going out for pizza and see something with goat’s cheese on it, I’ve pretty much already decided on that in my mind! So when I saw this goat’s cheese, mozzarella,  caramelised onions, a sprinkling of pine nuts and juuuuust a bit more cheese and basil.It was amazing. I love the fresh saltiness the goat’s cheese adds combined with the tangy sweetness of the caramelised onions it was really well balanced.

I have such a sweet tooth, if I go out for dinner, I am mainly thinking about going out for dessert. Pudding is my absolute favourite and if I could eat it for every meal without getting diabetes or piling on the pounds then I totally would. Judge me if you want, but who would say no to Crème brûlée or ice cream for breakfast?! So I was super buzzing for us to have our puddings. To be honest by this point we were both feeling quite full but because we already ordered it at the beginning we had it anyway. Such troopers aren’t we!?

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So me and Mother dearest both decided to get ice cream. You can even see her in the top image helping with the shots for the ‘gram. CUTE. Mum got the chocolate sea salt, coconut chocolate ripple and the raspberry and mascarpone ripple. I went for the chocolate sea salt, raspberry mascarpone ripple and the honey seasalt and mascarpone. Each one of these was so rich, flavourful and smooth. I wish they would sell me a tub of the chocolate sea salt one, it was bliss! I love the combination of saltiness and sweet.

I am a huge fan of Zizzi as you can tell by this blogpost of appreciation! I’m so keen to get back to one so I can check out their recent menus. They’re always sprucing them seasonally oh and, did I mention they have a great selection of cocktails, mocktails and funky soft drinks! Sooooo shall I book a group table for us or do you want to?

 

Homemade Cornbread.

So as I mentioned in my post yesterday as seen here I made and ate cornbread for the first time and it was actually really good. I’ve often seen people on American films and sitcoms eat this with their meals and have always been a bit curious as to what it actually is and what it tastes like too. To be honest if you were like me and hadn’t tried it before it’s like a dense cake is the best way to describe it I reckon. Eating this made me live out my dream of being a old woman from one of the southern states of America, I pictured myself sitting on a rocking chair on a porch in Alabama, spitting into a bucket and stroking one of my many wild pet cats. We’ve all got dreams right?!

Anyway aside from that mad tangeant, I would really recommend giving this a go. It’s a bit different and something I, and none of my family members had really tried before, it’s also a really conversation starter if you serve this up over the dinner table with a big feast of tex mex food.

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As you can see from the above image, which looks like its a screengrab from a crap documentary series filmed off of a potato, it’s a proper dense little side dish. It looks like a cake, smells like cake but has that faint polenta/sweetcorn aroma to it and went really with the savoury chilli flavours.

If I’ve managed to sell this recipe to you and you fancy giving it a go yourself, it’s so easy to do. You literally just mix wet ingredients into the dry ones. Pop it in a lined tray and bang it in the oven. DONE.

To make this you will need:

  • 125g plain flour.
  • 125g cornmeal or polenta.
  • 140g caster sugar.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 3tsp baking powder.
  • 1 large egg.
  • 235ml of milk.
  • 80ml vegetable oil.

HOW TO:

I wish I could ramble on in this gap for ages how technical I found this but I’m not the greatest cook in the world and I found it so easy there’s literally 0 room to go wrong.

I measured out all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and then mixed them all together until they were nicely combined.

Adding in a pinch of salt and the egg, I mixed until it formed a paste like consistency.

In a jug, I measured out the milk and the oil adding that to the dry ingredients until it came together like a smooth cake batter.

I popped it in the oven (which was set and preheating obvs at 200 degrees C) It took about 25 minutes to fully cook through and I left it to cool before serving.

I did see online that some people eat theirs hot or with honey or topped with butter but we had ours plain. Similarly you could add in some cheese, chives, spices like paprika or even some small bacon bits to give it a bit more punch and flavour.

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Once again, I am not impressed with the photo quality of these. I did take them with my phone and usually it works out really well but these look like I took them with a disposable camera on holiday in 1976 or something?! Anyway I was well happy with how these turned out. Considering it was my first attempt and no one was violently ill or thought they tasted gross!? That’s a win in my book!

Also, so sorry these posts are coming out later and later each day, I may have been watching Crime documentaries all evening before I realised I didn’t actually schedule a post for today. One of these days I might be an organised little sausage when it comes to these blogging shenanigans.

Irish Apple Crumble Cake.

I saw this recipe online a few months ago, from Donal Skehan’s website here,  and it quickly became one of my favourites and one of my family’s too. Even though I live in  Dorset so you may have thought that the famous Dorset Apple cake would have stolen that top spot for me however I enjoy the cake/crumble hybrid that comes with this teatime treat. It has a light, fluffy sponge, delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger topped with a smooth, buttery crumble top adding an extra dimension of texture and flavour.

This bake isn’t really for the fainthearted judging by the amount of butter and sugar you throw (not literally) into the bowl. It won’t be one you can take to a weight watchers bake off to be honest but it’s so deliciously decadent that it won’t even matter. I based my recipe off of Donal’s, he’s one of my favourite chefs with his fun approach to cooking and baking. I have added a bit of a twist to this recipe which some Irish folk may think is absolute blasphemy and I’ll be banned from the Emerald Isle for life but i’ve baked this for family and friends and it went down a treat.

For this bake you will need:

  • 110g butter, I used unsalted.
  • 150g soft brown sugar or demerara sugar whatever is easier or what you’ve got in your cupboards.
  • 2 eggs
  • 210g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp of almond or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1tsp nutmeg.
  • 300g peeled, cored and sliced cooking apple is Donal’s recommendation but I tend to use 2 or 3 small eating apples.

For the crumble top you will need:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cold, diced butter.

 

HOW TO:

So first off I would recommend preheating your oven to 180 degrees and lining a cake tin. Then you can peel and dice your apple. Depending on how apple-y you like your bake you could add more or less. We like ours quite fruity so add a good amount. To keep them from browning I put them in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice until I add them to the mixture.

Like any other cake, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. Add in the eggs with a spoonful of flour with each egg. This helps the mixture from not looking claggy and a bit gross and enables it to mix together more smoothly.

Add in the rest of the flour along with the salt and baking powder too. Once that’s all fully combined I pop in the almond extract and the spices too. I really like these flavours so sometimes adjust the amount I use depending on my personal tastes and whether I want to use some of these Christmassy flavours too. I think the cinnamon is definitely a good addition but things like ginger, nutmeg or even something like allspice or mixed spice are all optional.

Draining the apples from the water completely and patting them dry in a tea towel, stopping any excess water getting the batter wetter than it needs to be, I pop them straight into the batter giving it a quick stir until it’s completely combined.

At this stage you could also add things like a handful of crushed mixed nuts, raisins or other dried fruits like raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots or even jewel the lined cake tin with blackberries or raspberries ready for when you pour the mixture over it.

Once the cake mix is evenly spread into the tin you can sprinkle on top the crumble mix.

To make the crumble mixture all you need to do is rub the sugar, butter and flour to a rough breadcrumb consistency. I like to add some spices to the mix of mine too, giving it that lovely golden sand colour. Similarly if you want an extra crunchy texture, crumble in some crushed up biscuits or shortbread, flaked almonds or even some rolled oats then evenly coat the top of the cake batter.

Cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until you poke a skewer or knife in and it comes out clean. I sometimes find that bit difficult with a recipe with fruit in so sometimes it’s easier to poke a couple holes in just to be on the safe side.

Once cooled it is perfect served with a generous dollop of cream or even have it slightly warmed up too. It is glorious. If I do say so myself.

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My go-to breakfast smoothie bowl.

I won’t lie, I eat with my eyes almost as much as I eat with my actual mouth. If it looks pretty I bet it tastes even better. I’m not the best at eating breakfast because I’m silly and would much rather have an extra fifteen minutes in bed or spend a bit longer trying to figure what to wear or struggling to do my eyeliner. I know it’s really bad and means you’re starving at about 10 am and end up gorging on half a palette of mars bars but one day maybe I’ll be one of those organised people that will have completed their spinning class, drank a pint of wheatgrass juice and spruced up the place with a spring clean. For my Blogtober day six I thought I’d share with you one of my healthier breakfast ideas, when I do have the time and fancy something a bit healthier I love making a little pretty smoothie bowl. I have a major sweet tooth and this berry protein bowl is so simple and one of my favourites. It’s so easy to do and to be honest the bit that takes the longest is the prepping of the fruit and presenting it in a nice way. If you weren’t planning on showing off to your Instagram pals with this one then skip the last step cos who really cares what it’ll look like!?

To make this small bowl I put a frozen banana, some coconut milk, a handful of oats, a handful of raspberries and strawberries and some ice into a blender, blending it until smooth. I’ve been vegetarian for almost a year now and find myself feeling quite tired and lethargic often so try and add more protein and vitamin B into my meals. I did actually add in a scoop of plain protein powder and lucuma powder for an extra hit of energy.  This type of breakfast left me feeling pleasantly full and wasn’t reaching for a snack mid morning too. The best thing about this is that you can prep it in advance and store it in the freezer, or even buy pre prepared frozen bags in most supermarkets so all you’d need to do is pop it in your blender add in some sort of liquid like water, milk or alternatives, yoghurt or even cold brewed green tea.

Much love. x

Jammie Dodger blondies.

Blondies were a bit of a new phenomenon for me until I made these and introduced my family to them too. Not too dissimilar from the OG chocolate brownie with its fudgy, gooey chocolate centre and flaky, crumbly top. Blondies are are typically flavoured by the dark sugar or the browned butter used to give it that gorgeous golden yellow hue and that deep, rich molasses flavour. If you have a super sweet tooth like me, blondies will be right up your street. I chose to add some Jammie Dodgers, which was one of the best biscuits you could get at a kids party if you ask me! I actually made some in a blog post as seen here.

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This little slice of heaven was really simple to make, looks really impressive and is super delicious too. Plus it goes perfectly with a cup of tea FYI; what’s not to love! I used a recipe I had in a cookbook at home and made a few changes to it to suit what I like aaaand also what I had at home and what I thought sounded nice.

Ingredients:

  • 200g Butter, I used unsalted butter. 
  • 250g sugar
  • 200g White chocolate
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 250 g Plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pack Jammie Dodger biscuits
  • Strawberry jam (optional)

HOW TO:

So I’m not the most organised in the kitchen, but I’m trying to get better, in recipe books or on cookery shows they always tell you to preheat the oven and line the baking tray first so you can get the oven warmed up and ready and will have also saved the faff of lining a tray. So I did (eventually) preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lined a little square baking tin. I wish I could say the actual measurements of the tin for you, but I am not sure. I quite like thicccc little squidges of blondie pieces so I could cut this into smaller chunks rather than larger, thinner pieces.

ANYWAY, I cubed the butter melting it slowly in a pan. If you quite like the taste and flavour of browned butter, leave it to slowly warm over heat until its browned and got that gorg nutty smell. That’ll give your bake a lovely colour and richer, molasses flavour too. Once this was fully melted I mixed the sugar into it.

When it comes to the sugar you use it can change the taste, colour and flavour of the blondie altogether. I used regular white caster sugar but you could use golden caster sugar for a richerr colour and fudgier consistency. Equally if you prefer that molasses, treacly flavour use a darker sugar. Something like demerera or brown sugar would work well too!

Whilst the mixture is still warm, I added half of the white chocolate which I had already cut into smaller pieces, until the whole mixture was completely mixed together and smooth. Leave this to cool for a little bit and then add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Make sure the mixture isn’t too warm still in case the eggs scramble.

Add in the flour and the pinch of salt a small heap at a time. Once combined I used the rest of the white chocolate which I had already cut into small chips and mixed that through. Finaaaaally you can pour your blondie batter into your ready prepared and lined tray.

If you’re a big fan of the jam like my fam you can add in a few spoonfuls of your jam of choice and swirl it through the mixture.

Lastly, place the jammie dodgers on top of the blondie in whatever pattern you choose. You can buy the mini ones if you wanted to throw them more sporadically into the mix. Y’know you do you hun.

Bake in the oven for roughly 30 -35 minutes til they are golden and brown and the top has that crumbly, crackly crust.

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It went down a treat in my house and lasts really well too as long as it’s kept in an airtight container! I’d definitely recommend baking these, next time I won’t bake them for as long as I did as you can see they caught a little bit on the top! The blondie was lovely and fudgy and the Jammie Dodger gives it a fab crunch. It was BANGIN.

The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House. *

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The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

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Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

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My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

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My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

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As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

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I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

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A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

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These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

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I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

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I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

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bowood x x

Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

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The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

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I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

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If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

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This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

bowood xx

I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

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There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

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*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

Three days in Brighton.

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If you follow me on either Twitter or Instagram you’d have seen back in April I went for a few days away with my friend to the gorgeous seaside city of Brighton in Sussex on the south coast of the UK. I will admit it’s taken me way waaaay too long for me to post all about my trip on here but I can finally say ya gurl has got round to it. If you’ve never been to Brighton I would totally visiting. There’s something for everyone there with a plethora of fantastic bars or eateries, so many shops from big brands to high street brands and independent shops aplenty too. There’s a lot to do as well from lazing on the iconic beaches to winning some absolute tat from the arcades on the pier, to visiting Brighton Domes, traipsing around the eclectic Laines quarter or even catching a show. You’ll never be bored round here! So what better way to show you all the things I saw and ate on here, rather than boring you all to death over on my Instagram account! So if this is your thing, get yourself comfy, sit back and enjoy!!

We got up super duper early on a grey Tuesday morning, to catch a train just before seven, getting us into Brighton at about 10 O’Clock in the morning. I heart train journeys big time and this one was actually lovely as it winded through the countryside. We had a quiet commuter train and table seats the WHOLE way. There is nothing worse when travelling by train when you don’t get a good seat or if you don’t get a seat at all. The first time I visited Brighton was when I saw a friend who was at uni there and anything that could have gone wrong on the journey down did. The train was delayed at every stop, it was packed and to top that off I was stood by the toilets the whole way. I was overjoyed by the time we arrived! Anyway, so once we disembarked, armed with our bags we went from the station and ambled through The Lanes (which are several little narrow streets home to independent shops, boutiques, antique shops and plenty of gorgeous restaurants and cafes. Something Brighton is quite famous for) Eventually making our way to our hotel for our stay which was nestled in Kemptown. Since I hadn’t and still haven’t mastered the subtle art of packing accordingly or lightly for that matter, I desperately wanted to get to the hotel so I didn’t have to lug my suitcase around with me. I know I was only there for 3 days not even really that altogether, but you never know what you might need?! What if it rains, pack a coat? And if it rains I’ll need a hair dryer AND my straighteners. Whoever said thick hair is the best clearly hasn’t ever had to dry it for practically a decade at a time.

We stayed at a hotel called New Steine which was actually perfect for what we wanted. Neither I or Jimmy wanted to spend hundreds of pounds on somewhere we would just be sleeping or getting ready and nor did we fancy kipping down in a hostel for the time we were there. Not only were we such a short walk from the beaches, Brighton centre itself but there were so many shops, pubs and cafes close by that we could have quite easily just stayed there for our time away from home. The staff that greeted us when we arrived were all so friendly and helpful. They let us leave our luggage there when we got there around half past 10 even though our check in time wasn’t until the afternoon so we could go for a wander and grab some food. But considering we paid £110 for a two night stay, so £55 each, I was actually really, really impressed. And so happy with it as well. We had two single beds in a very comfortable sized room in the basement floor of the hotel. The beds were comfy, which can be kinda make or break of a trip for me. There was a tv with freeview, free wifi and a huge corner shape bath and a power shower. It ticked my boxes and if I was to go back again soon, I’d be more than keen to stay here again.

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This was the view right from the steps from our hotel. Can you imagine living in one of those idyllic houses, literally a 2 minute walk from the sea with a nice of square of gardens right in front too. THE DREAM.

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SO after we dropped off our things when we arrived we walked by the beach, hoping to find somewhere nice to get some brunch, a coffee or a snack. Jimmy is more of a meticulous planner than I am and he had already written a list of great looking breakfast joints, coffee shops and juice bars so we were hoping we would find our bearings relatively soon and find something on his list. We came across a place called Lucky Beach in one of the arches on the seafront. Check out my review just here! The weather was absolutely glorious, blue skies and barely any cloud we were lucky enough to sit outside as we ate. After we finished and paid we walked along the beach front, both feeling very full, enjoying the weather and chatting about what we both wanted to see or do over the next few days. I mentioned how I wanted to take lots of pictures, one in particular of a beachside pagoda that I saw on Instagram but didn’t know where it was. Then about five minutes later of zig zagging through the midweek crowds it was stood before us. I waited like a creepy little vulture, until an American couple had finished looking around so I could take my happy snaps.

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After a few hours of wandering up and down a few of the different side streets, it was mid afternoon by this point and we both decided we could do with something else to eat. When I think of must see places in Brighton I personally think of either the Laines or Choccywoccydoodah. If you haven’t heard of it, well it’s famous chocolatiers and cake shop with their original store deep in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes and now a couple in London too. Having grown up watching the Choccywoccydoodah show on tv I was a bit fascinated with the place and whether the food tastes just as good as it looks. Take a look at my review of it >here< to find out more! I was NOT disappointed.

With a belly full of decadent food, we were going to head back to the hotel via the pier. Brighton pier is a day out in itself really. Well for me and Jimbob it is at least, not one to toot my own horn but we i’m not too shabby at those 2p machines at the arcade. Like if I don’t go on tipping point anytime soon I really am missing out on my big fortune. We have a rule between us that we both have to try and win the absolute tackiest thing we can find. I like to think we excelled at rule as we came away with our winnings of some glow sticks, a pack of cards, two Brighton shot glasses and some novelty keyrings which I think are still floating about at the bottom of my bag. Yeaaaaah I really need to clean that. And not only that we saw the Queen of tacky on the pier, Gemma Collins from TOWIE. Did you know she’s actually a lot slimmer than you’d think in real life?!

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Getting back to our room, our little home away from home for the next few days, we charged phones up again, had a lay down (cos y’know I’m 23 going on elderly) and FaceTimed my fam before getting ready to go out for food that evening. You’re probably thinking, daaaaaamn do these two do anything else but eat?!! And all I can say is well…You’re not wrong. But no seriously we did so much walking on the first day and hey I was there for a good time not a long time. I’m not going away on a little break to have a juice fast and a body cleanse?! We strolled into town later on that evening all dressed up and nowhere really to go. Neither one of us had decided on somewhere to go eat but were both hoping we’d see somewhere soon we’d both agree on and try there. Me wanting to try something new, somewhere a bit different to what I usually would have. Jimmy wanting something edible, filling and well sooner rather than later. After walking around for probably an hour and a half, as we couldn’t decide on anywhere. We saw Street Thai in the distance, with its bright lights and Asian cooking smells filling the dark streets it was like an actual mirage. Being enticed in by it’s great 3 course meal offer, emptyish restaurant and also by the fact they were serving food and we were both about to eat each others arms we thought this would be brill. I wrote about my experience there just here, if you fancy checking out the pics and what I thought. From there we were going to find a nice bar or a pub to have a cheeky bev or five, seeing as we were on our holibobs after all. We headed into the Be At One on the high street and sampled some of their new cocktail menu and some of their old classics too. I would definitely recommend this place, great cocktails, the playlist was on point all night long, not too clubland and not too camp. It was the perfect mix of boozy bar tunes. The staff were also so lovely inside too. There’s been some places I’ve been too where the staff really didn’t want to give you the time of day, but they were all SO nice. Read all about it here!!!

WEDNESDAY

The next day, was really hot and abfab had a bit of a hangover. Cocktails are so naughty as they can taste like juice, until you’re swearing your undying love to your best mate cos they bought you some cheesy chips when it hits you, maybe it wasn’t just juice??? Just to clarify it’s defo not juice. Sorry. Anyway, the only way I can describe how I felt that day was a grape about to turn into a raisin. Strange analogy I know, but combined with the beautiful sunny, warm weather and the alcohol in my system I legit felt like there wasn’t a single droplet of water in my body and any second now I would *POOOOOF* into thin air and there would be a dried up sponge in my place. Told ya I had a weirdo imagination.

We went to possibly the most Instagrammable place for breakfast I’ve ever seen. With gorgeous food and drinks, plants decorating the inside and crisp white tiled walls. Redroaster is a Blogger’s paradise if I’ve ever seen one. I opted for a shakshuka and iced coffee and Jimmy had a classic avo on toast with an iced coffee too. We sat outside on the street watching the people rush past as we could take our morning coffee nice and slowly before carrying on with our day. Read about my visit to Redroaster here. We went into the Laines for the morning, having a mooch around, browsing through the little boutiques and antique shops. It was nice to be able to take things very much at our own pace and go as slowly as we wished as we didn’t have to rush. I really am a huge fan of the graffiti, street art and architecture throughout England and we wandered around Brighton’s back streets, smartphones in hand, appreciating the nooks and crannies of prettiness. Around midday we stopped in a pub for a drink as I was beginning to flag at this point. I had the worst headache and felt rotten and was half tempted to go back to the hotel so I could have a nap and sleep it off. But I didn’t want to ruin our time away and wanted to enjoy as much as possible so powered through.

From there, as it was baking hot we decided to sit on the beach and make the most of the sunshine. Although I brought a whole suitcase with me I didn’t bring anything I would have found comfortable to wear in the warmer weather after about an hour or so of sitting in the sun we made our way to the shops so I could buy a summer dress or something. We got some ice cream, I grew a blister on each little toe the size of Jupiter and got some ice cream. Because of said blister growths it was super painful to walk and the only shoes I had were trainers so I didn’t really know what to suggest what to do for dinner. I felt bad and didn’t want to order a takeaway and sit in the room and Jimmy would miss out cos of my silly feet. Nor could we decide what we both wanted to eat. Jimmy wanted mexican food and for the first time in my life I really wasn’t feeling it. Usually Mexican food is one of my favourites cuisines but that night I really didn’t fancy it. So we decided to get a Deliveroo of what we both wanted to come direct to the hotel and then we’d decide from there. I ordered some Greek food from Yefsis of Greece (read my thoughts heeeerrrrrreeeee) and we took our food and ate it on the beach. It was only about a 3 or 4 minute walk away and it was so pretty and nice.

THURSDAY

The old saying, that you must walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand what they are going through was put to the test when Jimmy lent me a spare pair of his trainers to wear on the last day before we came home. Fanks bae. I don’t think I’ll ever appreciate that gesture as much as you realise. We were really lucky that the Hotel allowed us to leave our luggage after we checked out cos I really wasn’t feeling like dragging that round with me. We headed off to look for one of Jimmy’s recommend breakfast places. This one was called Coffee Counter and was in the Lanes. I had a veggie breakfast naan and it was sensational. I’ve never had anything like that before so was so impressed and a little bit sad it’s so far away if I want another one. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD. And I don’t say that very often but I was so in love with this, I might attempt to recreate this at home at some point. READ MY REVIEW HERE.

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From there we were on a mission to find the Prince Albert pub. I’d seen it online and one wall was completely covered with pictures of famous icons and I just HAD to see it in real life. Turns out it is literally SO close to the train station I felt a bit silly at how close I’d been to it beforehand. We stopped here for a drink and I had such a cheap g&t so I was a happy bunny. Sitting out in the sun, nursing our drinks we wondered whether the passersby thought we had super cool freelance jobs so could actually afford to laze around in the sunshine outside cool artsy pubs and cafes or whether they thought we bunked off work for a quick drink OR whether they didn’t think about us and our lives at all. I’m hoping it’s the first option but most likely the latter. Thinking we better get back to the hotel and think about heading on soon we dawdled back, before spotting Burgers and Cocktails. A Restaurant specialising in well, you guessed it, Burgers and Cocktails. I’d been there a year or two before but had completely forgotten about where it was. We popped in thinking we’d have just a drink before heading home to reality. A few hours later, several amaretto sours, two cauli burgers and a couple milkshakes later. We decided it was time to get our stuff and prepare for the long journey home. Yup yep yup you guessed it you can read my review on Burgers & Cocktails just here.

Other than the blisters, which I feel is kinda gross and I should stop bringing them up, I had an absolutely wonderful time and am so SO excited for my next adventure away. I hope this post wasn’t too rambled for you. Plus if you ever decide to go to Brighton I hope you love it as much as I do. Much loves as always ❤

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Lucky Beach – Brighton.

image_6483441 (13)This little beach side treasure is nestled in one of the arches on Brighton Seafront. We stumbled upon Lucky Beach on a gloriously sunny Tuesday morning whilst visiting the area and I am so glad we did. Check out the view we had across the beach as well!? For the most of the time we eat with our eyes, so if it looks good we like to believe it’ll taste great too. Pretty food is delicious food am I right?! NOT only does their food look like the type of thing foodie dreams are made of but they have an accolade of awards to boot. They are proud to serve only sustainable, organic and locally grown produce and on top of all that they’ve been voted UK People’s favourite restaurant 2017/18. I can vouch for that too, it was blimmin’ great.

After browsing their brunch menu I decided I really wanted pretty much one of everything however I settled on having the Vege breakfast. Having been a vegetarian since mid November 2017 I’ve come to the realisation that not all veggie breakfasts are quite as enjoyable as a standard breakfast plate. I suppose that is a bit of a generalisation really but that’s what I’ve come across at least. So I was really excited to see this menu had really exciting, fresh foods and flavours incorporated into all their dishes.

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This was the most colourful breakfast plate I think I’ve ever had and it was absolutely amazing. The Vege breakfast consisted of two slices of grilled focaccia, a poached egg, caramelised onions topped with a sprinkling of roasted chickpeas, homemade hummus, beetroot tahini, parsley and mint, grilled slices of courgette are just hidden underneath the toast. Then finished off with a dusting of black sesame seeds. It was divine. Look how beautiful it looks and you could taste the freshness of all the ingredients too. In my mind this is the type of healthy style breakfast they eat in California, and I definitely felt quite boujiee listening to the waves crash as I scoffed down on this. Who needs Venice Beach eh?!

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They have a really extensive drinks menu that I kinda wanted to order one of everything. Their coffees sounded fantastic and I usually always have a tea or latte with breakfast if dining out, but they also had so many wellness teas, herbal teas, soft drinks and juices I opted for a raspberry lemonade. Which was refreshing, tangy and was perfectly sharp on a warm spring day.

I’d definitely return to Lucky Beach if I was in the area again. The food was really delicious, fairly priced considering it was all locally sourced, fresh ingredients too. The atmosphere was really chilled, laidback, friendly and had a nice, fun vibe too. The staff were all so nice as well which can really make or break a dining experience in my opinion. I can wholeheartedly see why this restaurant has such glowing reviews. FOOD WIN.

Redroaster – Brighton.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere like this place in real life before. It felt like I had crossed into a parallel universe where I was actually *IN* Instagram. And heck no I wasn’t complaining, I’ve never felt so cool and on point in my life. The decor inside Redroaster was a cool mix of clean white tiles, golds, coppers and marble textures and delicate hanging plants. It felt edgy, botanical and just really cool. We were lucky enough to be able to sit outside as the weather was glorious even at about 8 or 9 in the morning when we got there.

I ordered a vegetarian shakshuka and an iced coffee and it was delightful. I felt quite smug as I sipped my coffee watching the hustle and bustle of the commuters passing by to their jobs as I had an enjoyable morning breakfast. It was the first time I had a shakshuka and I really liked it. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Middle Eastern / North African dish made of a thick, spiced tomato sauce, spiked with onions, peppers and poached eggs. Sounds delicious and savoury right? Beforehand I’d have much preferred to have had a sweet breakfast plate but I must say I think my taste palette is finally growing up a bit.

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The one I ordered usually comes with chorizo but I asked for that to be removed or whether the dish was possible to be made more veggie friendly and the waitress and kitchen seemed more than accommodating for that. Jewelled with black olives and edamame beans it gave the skillet a lovely richness and umami flavour. I don’t usually like olives, mainly because the ones I’ve tried have always tasted like they’ve been steeped in salt and I just found the texture quite unpleasant but I think they added a lot of flavour to this dish. On top of that it had very generous handful of crumbly feta decorated over the top. Feta might be my favourite cheese. Contrary to olives, I really love the fresh, saltiness feta holds. It reminds me of summer holidays gorging on Greek salads.

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Speckled and freckled with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with two slices of warm, buttery toast for dipping in and serving it up with. This dish is the perfect comfort food. It was full of flavour, but wasn’t too overpowering. Plus I felt so full for the rest of the day too so what more could you want with a brek out?? ALSO did I mention they have their own blend of coffee? The iced coffee I had was LUSH. It was smooth and had citrusy notes so I felt like I didn’t actually need to add any sugar which I would normally do.

Would I go back to Redroaster? Yes. I loved the laidback ambience, the menu contained things that I’d never seen before and that sounded really interesting. Would I order the shakshuka again? Possibly. Nothing against the dish itself I thought it was really nice but there were other things on their menu I’d also like to try. From raspberry croissants to the veggie english breakfast with an avo mousse. They both sound like things I DEFO want to eat/inhale.

Yefsis of Greece – Brighton.

On Wednesday night as I was still suffering from blistergate we really didn’t know where we were going to get from. We were a little walk away from the city centre itself and I was in a bit of pain, like who knew two stupid blisters could cause so much of an issue?! We sat in our hotel room unsure whether to stay in, go out, order a takeaway, call an uber or just try and find somewhere nearby or a skateboard for me. I didn’t want to ruin the evening nor did I want to have to walk in ages in fear of my feet ACTUALLY falling off. So we decided to actually order our own dinners through Deliveroo to the hotel and then we’d walk down to the beach and eat it there. Luckily my pal lent me his shoes and oh my days it felt like I was walking on clouds.

Greek foods is up their as one of my favourite cuisines. I love greek salads, feta cheese, souvlaki and gyros. So after browsing through loads of totally different food places on Deliveroo and Yefsis of Greece took my fancy. It had a wide variety of different foods both snack style options and full meals and I kinddaaaaa wanted to order loads but played it safe and stuck with a halloumi gyros and halloumi fries.

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As I was ordering it I totally forgot I was actually having halloumi twice. The Gyros was a warm pita flatbread filled with herb dusted halloumi, diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, chips and a traditional greek tzatziki dressing. Complete carb overload but a) I’m defo not going to judge or turn that down and b) when it tasted that good I’m not going to be counting my syns or macros.Mainly cos they’d be through the roof I’m sure.

IMG_6685 The battered halloumi fries were honestly just as good as they sound but by this point I was kinda cheese’d out if that were even possible?! It had a drizzle of thick greek yoghurt, herbs and pomegranate seeds which I think were definitely needed to give the fries some freshness and tang to it otherwise i’d have found it a bit too rich.

If I was to visit Brighton again for longer I’d want to pay Yefsis a visit and actually visit the restaurant rather than getting takeout. I love the relaxed, chilled way of Mediterranean meal times and would love to visit here for a meze of different dishes and try little bits of Greek delights. I live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in Dorset and it’s so difficult to come across places like this that serve authentic dishes outside of their native country.