The Devil Wears Primark…Once. (And Then Returns It)

If you go to a fast food restaurant you can get a meal of a burger, fries and a drink for about a fiver on average. Will that meal fill you up and curb those hunger pangs? Yes. Will it be delicious? Yeaaaaaah probably…I mean I’m 24 going on 25 and yet to have a bad McDonalds (other fast food chains are available but I’m a McDonalds gal thru and thru) Will it be nutritious? Debatable. If it what’s you can afford and what you fancy; having it every once in a while won’t do you any harm.

Now if you think about the flip side to this, if you were to dine out somewhere else, having a near identical meal (handmade burger, triple cooked chips, fancy soft drink… can ya picture the type of gastropub I mean), somewhere that sourced local produce, paid the farmers, the cleaners, the waiting staff, the chefs all properly and fairly. Somewhere that considered the food miles that occurred to make that single plate of food and the overall environmental impact of each dish. Would it taste the same as a fast food option? Absolutely not.  Would it cost as little as £5? Also a hard no.

When it comes to food and what we’re consuming, we’re all pretty much aware of where our food comes from or what things we should be eating.  We know that if we had the money and the budget, ideally, we should be purchasing fresh, organic produce. It’s easy for me to preach that behind a computer screen, knowing that not everyone can afford that lifestyle; I certainly can’t! We’re raised to think about our ethical footprint when it comes to the food we consume but why in this current climate is it taking us so long to consider our fashion footprint and how to become a conscious consumer of clothes?

Up until quite recently, I was really naive to what fast fashion and being a conscious consumer really meant. To me I’d hear the phrase ‘conscious consumer’ and think of someone dressed head to toe in hessian sacks and singing kumbaya. I had my head stuck in the sand when I’d shop ’til I dropped; , contently filling my basket with all the latest garms. Within the last 18 months, you see these phrases more frequently used in the press and in informative documentaries all about what goes on behind the scenes, teaching the audience to be more mindful; and how to put their most conscientious, ethical (but still bang on trend) foot forward.

If the term fast fashion is completely new to you, let me bring you up to speed a bit.  Within the last few decades, the way in which consumers shop for clothes has changed massively. With an influx of more and more fashion retailers adorning each and every high street and each corner of the internet; it’s easy to see why low cost, fast fashion retailers really took off. They take the styles and designs seen from top, high end fashion houses, reproducing them quickly for a lower cost (and quality) for the consumer. This then in turn gives the customer the ability to get on board with the identical trend for a fraction of the price.

So what does this have to do with being ethical and how does it negatively impact the planet? So these practices often rely on offshore manufacturing processes where labour is so much cheaper; paying low wages and not taking into account if there are adequate health and safety practices in place. Not only is it not ethical for humanitarian reasons. For other human beings to pay the price for some cheap garments but by the time your outfit gets to store it’s got more air miles on it than the average gap year student.

Becoming a conscious consumer isn’t dressing head to toe in hessian sacks and singing Kumbaya.

To maintain the cheap price of these fast fashion items, often the materials used are of a cheaper, lower quality so they don’t last as long and then get thrown away after a small handful of uses.

Now, I completely understand that the price of clothes is something of a sticking point. Not everyone can afford to buy high quality clothing. Not everyone can physically access shops that stock items like these. I realise there is an amount of privilege that comes with being able to afford to shop this way. I don’t want to offend or isolate anybody with what I’ve written here, I’d be deeply troubled with myself if that was the case. I just wanted to share some ways that even if you can’t quit your fast fashion habits, or you can’t find clothes to fit you from other stores, how you may benefit from some of these simple solutions.

  • Search on Depop/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace.

There are numerous different apps and sites like this. Whether you’re looking at it as a simple way to make some extra dosh or even peruse the shelves of other online wardrobes. It’s an ideal way to find a new outfit on the cheap, whether you’re looking for something from a high street brand, something a bit off the cuff or a designer label; apps like this have got you covered. It can be a bit of a hassle going through the to-ing and fro-ing with individual sellers but the good majority of the time the individual sellers are good. With most corners of the internet you’ll find those types of people trying their luck, to get a vintage, one of a kind item for about 34 pence with postage and packaging chucked in too as if you’re doing them the favour! Nah.

  • Shop Second Hand or in Charity Shops. 

One of my all time favourite pastimes is spending time browsing in different charity shops. Not only will you feel good for getting a top notch bargain but you’ll also get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside knowing the money you’ve spent in store is being put to a good use. Compared to buying in a high street, conventional shop, it might be harder to find the exact thing you’re after but you might come home with something even better or even something designer. Ask the staff if you’re looking for something in particular they might see something come in and keep it aside for you or let you know when they’re restocking days are. Some charity shops aren’t the most accessible to everyone from not stocking a wider range of sizes, being quite small and narrow which isn’t ideal if you’re wheelchair bound. I recently was invited to the Julia’s House new superstore in Poole, Dorset to have a nose around click the link here to have a read of what I thought (and what I purchased!)

  • Browse vintage stores. 

If I had all the money in the world I’d love to be able to spend a fortune in vintage or antique stores. Preferably with someone just a few paces behind me with a big bag picking up everything I scream ‘OMG WANT THIS’ at. I like that the clothes (books and home bits too) have more character to them and you definitely won’t see someone wearing the exact same outfit at an event. If shops like this are a bit few and far between near you online sites like eBay or Antiques Trails Maps are great to search for a particular piece.

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  • Host a Clothes Swap.

If you’re like me and have a wardrobe that’s pretty much busting at the seams, get all your friends together, invite them over for a night in of nibbles, drinks and tell them to bring all their unwanted clothes. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure and all that jazz? You never know, that top you’ve been eyeing up that your mate wore before, they might be planning to get rid of it and it’s your ideal time to swoop in. OR similarly, if you want to be tooootally extra and definitely end up in The Good Place; organise something like this on a much grander scale. Find somewhere locally, village hall, school hall or something and do it for charity. Inspire your local community to come along with all of their unwanted wears and feel like a mini Gok Wan with all the sustainable clothes swapping going on around you.

  • Make your own. 

To some, this might sound utterly AWFUL and the sheer thought of trying to make your own clothes is as tempting as heading out the door wearing a bin bag and empty cheese & onion crisp packets as shoes. If this sounds like something you’d be genuinely interested in doing or at least trying out there are hundreds and hundreds of of guides, templates and kits to get you started on these types of things. They’re available online on sites like Etsy, in haberdashery shops or places like Hobbycraft. Or just simply hang onto that mini sewing kit that comes in your cracker at Christmas, spend some time with your nan and learn how to re-sew on a button or how to make something that’s slightly worn look like you bought it that way.

  • Try to shop as trans-seasonably as you can.

It seems like fashion these days cover literally eventuality you could possibly imagine. Once upon a time people bought clothes to wear until they either physically grew out of them or to the point they were beyond repair. These items would be turned into handmedowns or sometimes even used as old cleaning rags. I know I’ve been in the position if I’ve got a party or an event coming up rather than raiding my own wardrobe and wearing that little black dress I’ve worn for the umpteenth time it is far more tempting to hop onto my laptop and check out what dress I can find online for a tenner with next day delivery thrown in you say??? Count me in! Rather than buying something that’ll be in style here and now, perhaps consider something that’ll last a lot longer over the years and you’ll be comfortable to wear it for a multitude of different occasions.

  • Shop smarter.

Emma Watson is endorsing the 30-wear promise which is the ethos that before purchasing an item you need to consider if you’ll wear it 30+ times. This is something that I’m trying to consider when I shop for clothes more often. My personality and style can be quite spontaneous and often I’d pick out items on a whim that I think looks cool at the time and then take it home and sit on my bed staring at this garish crop top covered in Furbies and I’ll catch myself and think ‘….What was I THINKING?!’. So next if you’re like me and considering trying this new shopping stance too, next time you buy something new, think about whether you genuinely will wear it more than just the once and then after that it’ll just sit in the back of your wardrobe until the dreaded annual wardrobe-clearing-out task.

 

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  • Create a capsule wardrobe.

I religiously watched Gok’s Fashion Fix when I was in my teens, not only because it seemed like it was the only thing on telly at the weekends when I was avoiding doing my homework but also because I found it fascinating watching this guy on tv completely transform a rather regular piece of clothing with such ease. His outfit would be pitted against the designer equivalent and nearly always his would win. Probably wouldn’t make ideal viewing really would it if everyone actually voted to say the Prada one was far, far nicer than his safety pin improved number though, would it? My point being is that not only would Gok teach regular folk from up and down the UK how to jazz up a plain outfit but he’d teach something also vitally important; body confidence and how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. Learning how to create different, fabulous looks from the same few items of clothes, jazzing them up for some occasions, dressing them down for others.

  • Quality not quantity.

I know, that statement kinda stinks of privilege. Personally, I can’t afford to shop high end and often you can get several outfits for the same price as one singular fashion item in a pricier store. I’ve bought numerous items basic items from high street shops for just a couple of pounds and then I whinge and moan when they fall apart just a few wears later. Rather than buying five £5 basic t-shirts would it have been more cost effective if I bought one £25 t-shirt that didn’t fade and

  • Shop Sustainable Brands

A lot of high street retailers often seem to be cashing in on the whole sustainable. Call me a cynic, but if you want to make an impact and actually be an ethical trader don’t limit that to just a few shelves out of a bustling shop full. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a start, a step in the right direction but surely it’s no more or less ethical. I’ve noticed more lately that there is a real uprising of ethical traders and brands coming through with gorgeous pieces of clothing.

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Sometimes, what you need to consider is that if you’re paying a lower cost for an item, someone, somewhere else is picking up the rest of the tab for that. When you shop locally with an independent retailer. You are supporting a person, you’re supporting a family, a household with income. You might be helping a Mother pay her mortgage, a Father help to pay for his child to go for extra curricular lessons or just helping a person chase their dream and afford to actually live. When you buy from a big fast fashion retailer you are only lining the pockets of the fat cats at the top.

Why Visiting Stourhead Is A Must in the Autumn!

Stourhead House and Gardens is a picturesque National Trust property on the Wiltshire/Somerset border in England. It’s one of my favourite beauty spots near me, as it’s a wonderful place to go for a tranquil nature walk, take in the colours of the season or just to absorb yourself in some gorgeous architecture and local history.

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Image taken from regencyhistory.net. 

The estate was previously owned by various different wealthy families before being sold to the National Trust in 1946. The house had suffered a fire in the early 1900s but was rebuilt shortly afterwards near on identically. The gardens have been adapted over it’s time with architect, Henry Flitcroft, adding the Temple of Ceres in 1744, the Temple of Hercules in 1754 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765.

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The lake was artificially created with a path surrounding it which is meant to evoke the journey of Aeneas descent into the Underworld. Henry Hoare, a member of the Hoare family who owned this estate for many generations, was an renowned art lover and collector; basing the design and concept of the gardens on one of his favourite artists pieces, Aeneas At Delos.

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The five arched palladian bridge looks pretty against every seasonal backdrop and just like the setting of Pride and Prejudice.

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The Temple of Apollo.

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On the left is a view of the Grotto and on the right is the Temple of Flora.

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Inside of the Grotto looking out onto the lake.

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Inside of the Grotto.

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The Pantheon hidden amongst the Autumnal trees.

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As mentioned previously, this is a National Trust property and you have to pay on entry unless you have a membership. If you’re visiting the area and are interested in nature/ history and architecture I’d say Stourhead is well worth a visit. It’s a short drive away from the a303 and as far as I’m aware there aren’t any buses to get there so it’s only really accessible by car.

For those that are wheelchair reliant, or are taking pushchairs, the paths around the gardens and running adjacent to the lake are fairly flat but unfortunately there are steps to get inside a lot of the Temples and the Grotto. To get from the gravelled car park down to the house and gardens is a series of slopes. There are free, all-terrain wheelchairs to borrow and a six seat buggy to go around the gardens as well.

 

Visiting The New Julia’s House Charity Shop in Creekmoor, Poole, Dorset. *

Last Tuesday, I was kindly invited by Sarah from Julia’s House to attend an exclusive blogger’s evening at their newly refurbished store in Creekmoor, Poole. Not only was I excited because this was my first proper blogger event invite, one with other, actual bloggers present (yay!) but Julia’s House is a well known charity foundation in my area and naturally I was so thrilled to be personally invited by them. Oh and also because I am a massive charity shop fan. I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I’m like the personification of a magpie for these sorts of things.

Speaking of being a massive charity shop fan. I became a literal massive charity shop fan. The Creekmoor site is one of the biggest charity shops on the south coast. Facts on toast from here on out.

So when Mum and I arrived,  we were greeted by one of the staff members, taken through the store, eyeing up stuff as we went (on the evening we were lucky enough to be given 20% off of everything we purchased. So if you can hold on until the end to see all of my new goodies I promise it’ll be worth it!) and were lead out to a meeting room, waiting with all the other bloggers. Sarah, led a short talk explaining to us all about their story, what they do and showed us a video of one of their parents of a Julia’s House child and their experience.

For those of you reading this who aren’t based in the South West of England you might not be fully aware of what Julia’s House is, what they’re about and the work they do. Prior to Tuesday evening, my knowledge wasn’t hugely extensive on all the exact ins and outs either to be honest. I knew they were a children’s hospice and had a lot of charity shops in my local area but that was about it.

So, Julia’s House was created from an idea a paediatric nurse named Julia Perks had. As she worked in the healthcare industry and with very poorly children, she noticed there was something still missing. She dreamed of creating a space or support network for the families who are struggling with caring for a life-limited child. Somewhere, where the child can receive the care and support they need as well as it being a place where the whole family can go or can turn to and feel like they’ve also got a lifeline. In a devastating turn of events, Julia sadly died from cancer and never got to see her dream become a reality. Her friend, Mike Wise, and a small group of dedicated supporters to kindly took the reigns of her brilliant idea and through their tireless efforts and fundraising they got the charity off the ground, employing their first two community nurses; who’d offer families some respite by visiting directly at their homes. Now, one of the first community nurses is still working within Julia’s House and is the Director of Care!

They’ve got a hospice in Poole, Dorset and another one in Devizes, Wiltshire which provides either day or overnight care to the poorly little ones and gives the affected families a chance to have some time out for themselves, to catch up on day to day things or spend with their other children whilst knowing their child is in a safe, home away from home environment. That’s one of the brilliant things I took away from this evening is that Julia’s House don’t just care about the affected child they care for the entire family. Offering and providing experiences such as shopping or spa trips for tired Mums, motor racing day trips to Thruxton for weary Dads, week long residential trips for the siblings to get to know other children/teenagers in a very similar position and giving them a good chance to get away from it all and all their worries. They cover all grounds, making sure no one is left behind and have launched something called Great Mates. A social get together for all the aunties, uncles, nannys, grandads, grans, grandpas, family friends and basically anyone who’s closely involved with the care of a Julia’s House child.

Considering only 5% of Julia’s House is government funded it really humbled me to think, firstly, just how lucky I am to be who I am. I’ve never struggled and I don’t know where the children, the families, the friends, the nurses and the staff get their strength and resilience from to wear a brave face, smile and carry on each day. How do people just learn to cope when they’re told the worst? Secondly it really brought it home to me, just how charities like this must really rely on their fundraisers, their donations, their sponsors, patrons and the customers in each of their charity shops.

So now you’re as clued up on everything Julia’s House as I am; let’s get onto the topic of the new Creekmoor store I visited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be expecting. I’d seen a few pictures on twitter and heard raving reviews about it but like all these things you always want to make your mind up for yourself. Upon arrival, I was instantly drawn in by their wicked Halloween display. After years of working in retail I know the pain and the pleasures of pulling off an A* dressed window and how it can entice someone into a store. I was told this wasn’t going to be like any other, ordinary charity shop. There was no dingy and damp smell and definitely no moth ball in sight! It truly lived up to the hype of being an Instagrammer’s dream.  From childrenswear, to designer garms, homeware, a cosy library nook and even an exclusive, bridal suite this definitely didn’t feel like any ordinary charity shop. Toto we defo aren’t in Kansas anymore!

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After Sarah had finished her talk with us all we were shown around the shop by the manager, Dave. In this day and age, not only is fashion sustainability something that is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds but the importance of reusing and recycling is too. The team here made sure they put everything to good use that they could possibly and the surplus furniture they didn’t know where to place they fashioned into display cabinets. It’s super quirky and fabulous.

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This is the children’s section with this incredible Doctor Who style tardis changing room for children. This was handmade just for this store, and strangely enough, in a bizarre turn of events it’s not the only one they have in here either! Someone from Wiltshire heard about it and gave it to the store. It’s weird and wonderful and totally sums up this whole store. On the outside it looks like any other Julia’s House shop but once you’re inside it’s so much bigger and better than you’d have envisaged. Oh and not forgetting the fab lady stood in front. That’s Claire and she was on hand as our very own personal stylist for the evening.  She oozed, style, passion and charisma and was the perfect person to be championing the store and also me into buying loads. They were all so passionate about this place, the cause and you could tell they were all so proud of the newly refurbished store. After all, they were the ones that had literally put in all the hard work!

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Never have I seen so many Tardis’s in one place?! The attention to detail to every inch of this store is so inventive.

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To the left of the children’s area was the gorgeous Bridal room. To access it, you have to book an appointment in order to treat yourself to a proper Say Yes to The Dress style experience for a fraction of the cost. As we all gathered inside, I was taken aback by the glitz and glamour and was a little bit shocked to see such beautiful gowns! Not that I was expecting them to be horrible but they all looked lovely. All the gowns were either donated as secondhand or from bridal shops that had closed locally. All the dresses are priced under £300 and as wedding shopping / budgeting goes that’s still a massive bargain!

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It’s a lovely and big secluded area of the shop so you can try on and get a feel of what your style is.

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It just goes to show not everything you’d see in a charity shop looks like something your great Aunt Ethel would have worn in the early 1900s. These gowns are utterly fabulous and you wouldn’t believe you could get it for such a cheap price in a charity shop?!

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I love the extra little touches dotted around from the classy chandelier in this room and the big glass full of flowers.

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You can see even more dresses and wedding outfits available here too. Whether you’re looking for bridesmaids, or for little lads to look dapper on the big day there’s so much choice.

Similarly, they also did some nice prom style dresses. After speaking to Sarah at the end of the evening I found out that the team at Julia’s House went to one of the nearby schools with loads of Prom dresses and gowns, some drinks and nibbles and the school girls sorted their outfits out in style and for a good cause too. Prom can be such a big deal at school, well everything seems like a big deal at school at least! Everything from the outfit, the makeup, the hair, the vehicle you arrive in is seen by the rest of your year group and it feels like the biggest event in the world at the time. So to be able to get a decent dress much cheaper and much more ethically would have meant a great deal to those school children.

From the bridal room we then moved into my favourite place in any charity shop; the book section. I can’t help but raid the shelves and see what new read I can find and Creekmoor offered an even better alternative to the usual few shelves. A whole library room!

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Complete with this comfy leather sofa and a few chairs dotted about the room; this space just looks ridiculously cosy to settle in and sink your teeth into a new book. As mentioned previously (and I’m sure i’m going to mention it a few more times before this post is out) I love all the tiny details the team have used to tie each room together. The cowhide rug, the rustic makeshift table, the vintage typewriter (not for sale unfortunately for me) could confuse you for being in a vintage store, Urban Outfitters or somewhere similar to that! You could easily wile away your time in just this section alone before perusing the shelves and grabbing an armful of new books. They’re £1 each or two books for £1.50 unless marked otherwise and in my opinion you can never have too many books!

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I really love the ingeniousness of using these surplus to requirement snowboards as  bookshelves. It’s so clever, so good to reuse them for another purpose and it also looks SO cool.  Notice anything peculiar about the wall either??? Well, it’s wooden doors!? Seriously I’m astounded at the creativity that went into organising this site and into making it what it is. It’s beyond clever.

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The vintage typewriter. There were several items like this dotted around the store. It gives the place so much character, adds to the character and I’ve noticed in my local Julia’s House charity shop they have some donated items just for display purposes.

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Coming out of the library nook is the men’s section. The way Dave and the team spoke about it made me realise how some charity shops are actually quite poor when it comes to bits for men. It got me thinking whether it’s a just a slight difference between the shopping habits between men and women. Are men more likely to go into a shop knowing exactly what they want to purchase, buy that specific item and leave whereas women are perhaps more prone to enjoy the general shopping experience and like to browse as they go. Is the Great British high street and fashion retail in general primarily aimed at women more than men. There are endless shops just for women’s fashion compared to how many there are just for men; so is it inevitable that there are going to be more women’s clothes ending up in charity shops and as secondhand items compared to men’s? I feel like I’ve run away with myself on a real tangent there but it’s something you can think about, ponder on and get back to me with your thoughts!

Creekmoor, stocked a big range of men’s clothes, a huge wall of shelving of dvds and games as well as a super impressive, big vinyl record collection.

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Right by the front door is a large area of women’s clothes, shoes and bags. Ranging from designer labels like lovely Hobbs dresses to high street togs from the likes of Zara, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. Everything felt of good quality and

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As you can see, I was quite snap happy this evening. Rows of old fashioned Singer sewing machines adorned the top shelves of the shoes section.

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On the other side of the shop was all of the homewares. They laid it out like it was a proper department store. With a kitchenwares section with electronic items to plates, glasses and other little knick-knacks. A bathroom section almost with an array of different skincare and beauty products all unused and unopened, perfect if you’re on a budget. They used donated wallpaper or off cuts to create the look for each section and each room and I’m really impressed with the thought and attention to detail here. It’s something I’d have never thought of and probably wouldn’t have even realised had it not been brought to my attention. I sound like a broken record but I’m honestly so impressed with all this effort. It helps customers visualise each item when they draw it all together and lowkey makes you want to get more as it all looks so good altogether!!

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I love the quirky furnishings. I can’t wait to deck out my future home with funky little pieces like this. It’ll be like a storybook of random pieces and like Phoebe Buffay did my shopping.

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This section had real Cosy Club / Lounge vibes. It’s eclectic and fun. In my opinion vintage or vintage style pieces like this have so much more life and character about them compared to a simple (Read boring) frame.

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Opposite the till area are these two changing areas.

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five points if you can spot me.

Well done for making it this far! This is probably my personal record for the most pictures used in a blog post. So I do apologize if it’s quite laggy to open and load this blog post but trust me it’ll be so worth it! As I mentioned previously, we got given 20% off of everything we purchased on the night and I picked out some bargains I want to show off to you all.

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I picked up this faux succulent for my room. I redecorated my bedroom back in August going with a really neutral vibe with white walls, keeping the same furniture and generally having a bit of a clear out. I’m using soft furnishings and duvet covers to bring in splashes of colour here and there and also means I can change the theme as I wish. At the moment I’m alternating between a green leafy duvet cover and then a pink and grey floral design. This was only £2 as well?!

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I love little trinkets and quirky pieces and spotted this old fashioned, vintage atomizer nestled in amongst some other homewares. I just thought it was quite pretty and I can’t wait to feel like Sophia Loren spritzing myself with my fancy schmancy new atomiser.

As I was browsing the clothes I proudly proclaimed that I’ve got SOOOOO much black clothing and couldn’t possibly need anymore, that I was finally going to get something with a bit of colour. Flash forward to about 15 minutes later when I spotted this off the shoulder sheer blouse; it slipped right into my basket without even a second thought. I love items like this though, whether you want to dress it up with some skinny, cigarette trousers for a smart casual look or layer it with a mini skirt and tonnes of black kohl eyeliner and some silver jewellery for a cool going out out style.

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Lastly I picked up this hefty and totally random selection of books. I love reading as you may have already guessed by now! But something I’m really proud of is that my taste in the genre of books I read is fluid and always changing. I’m really keen to broaden my mind as and when I can. As much as I love reading a light hearted chick lit novel I also really enjoy reading social psychology books and things that make me really think. I picked up Single, White Female by John Lutz; the book the film is based on. I love books that you can’t put down until the very end and I definitely think this book will be just like that. I got The Circle by Dave Eggers which I picked up after a skim read of the blurb. The Circle is about a company (called The Circle obvs) that runs the internet and now basically runs everything. The main character starts working for them and slowly but surely notices a sinister truth about this place. Sounds interesting, right!

Next up is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill which is all about the day to day trials and tribulations of a young fat girl. It sounds fun and honest and as someone who was also the young fat girl I’m so glad to see she’s not the laughing stock, the cliche butt of the joke because she’s a larger person. I got Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland. I know I’m a bit late the party with this one but it was £1 and I like nice to read chick lit which I’ve heard this is.

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Like I say, my reading history is eclectic and random as anything, my next purchase was Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures With Extremists. Jon talks about his experiences of meeting different extremists around the world and discovered the one thing they all have in common. Probably not an ideal book to reading on the train or in Costa to avoid funny looks. I got Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall which is all about trying to understand the histories, the power and politics of the symbols that people rally around, the symbols that unite us and also divide us. Aaaaaand last but by no means not least; I got Tequila Mockingbird combining my two favourite things, alcohol and literary based puns. This book contains a glorious collection of all the best tipples and I can’t wait to put this book to good use. Y’know for research purposes obvs…I’m doing this for you guys.

I’m so glad I said yes to going along to this fabulous event I got loads of great new bits, learnt loads about this wonderful foundation and feel like the money I spent that evening will have inevitably helped even just a tiny bit. If you’re local to the area I’d really recommend popping in if you’re near to Poole or Bournemouth. This really isn’t like any old charity shop you’d find on your local high street.

Or simply, if you can take anything away from this blog post I implore you to have a root through your local charity shops. Not only will you be giving back to those who need it most, it’s more sustainable than buying brand new clothes or homewares and most of the time you really wouldn’t even know it’s from a charity shop! Plus it’s much cheaper way of shopping plus you never know what might take your fancy!

*I got invited to this blogger event in exchange for writing a blog post / review about it. Even though it was an invited experience all my thoughts, feelings and opinions remain authentic, true to me and genuine.

Hello Autumn!

Hello Blog Readers. Bet you didn’t think this little treacle would be flinging herself into your inbox again did ya?! But here I am waving a cyber hello to each and everyone of you reading this.

As we slip slide into the darker months of the year, it’s like the blogger in me is waking up from her hibernation ready and raring to go. I don’t know what goes on in my brain running up to June or July time but it’s just like my blogging appetite just seizes up and I revert to a child and just think sod it, I’m off on my Summer holidays I’ll see you in September! So I’m sorry about that; I  feel bad that I have been so inactive over the last few months. Actually all year come to think of it, I’ve been pretty off colour to be quite honest! But I’m hoping, praying I might have finally got my mojo back. I’m also hoping that I can stick to that because I’ve said it in numerous posts beforehand and well if you had a pound for everytime I’ve proclaimed that exact phrase you’d have enough to buy the rights and the domain to this blog and actually post on it yourselves.

 

I feel like the queen of blog post clickbait I’m forever whooping and wailing about all these posts I’m about to drop but they never come to fruition (truth be told they are still there, gathering dust in my draft folder) but I’m hoping, I must have said this about one hundred times now but they’ll be going live sooner rather than later.

So let’s have a little catch up beforehand shall we? Lemme tell you about all the things you’ll be expecting to see from this space in the coming weeks and months and all the things I want to be ranting and raving about. I went on a little Stay-cation  with my family in the middle of September to Devon and Dartmoor which was lovely and tranquil providing the perfect getaway from all the mundane day to day things you get from being at home. I’ve spoken openly about how much I want to explore a lot more of the UK and this provided the perfect opportunity for that as well as eating out plenty too. Expect a lengthy post or two about everything I got up to coming up soon.

Excitingly, I went to my first proper blogger’s event this week (yay!) and I was equal parts excited, intrigued as I was a little bit anxious and nervous. Through blogging, I’ve been lucky enough to have received some fab products all in the name of a gifted asterisk and my humble thoughts, been invited to some incredible places and also forged some wonderful friendships with both bloggers and PR representatives alike. But there was something niggling away at the back of my mind about this particular event; which with hindsight I really regret because I had such a wonderful time. I was super conscious about whether I’d be a massive ball of anxious sweat the whole evening if I agreed. When I was a manager (in a previous job role, which feels like a previous life to me now. I really do feel like I’m the reincarnation of Mr Benn sometimes) and going to regional meetings I’d always be up the night before anxious and worrying about it even though I knew every single person in that room and knew exactly what was going to happen and what pub we’d be going to after… and what drunk train we’d be getting home for that matter.  You wouldn’t believe the types who work in health! I’ve somehow run off on a tangent there, but the more I was overthinking it the more I was putting myself off. I had a superb time, I learnt loads, felt so grateful I was invited and more importantly I learnt the value of leaping outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes there’s really no harm by just saying yes. Unless it’s to drugs. Then really do say a hard no.

By doing this, it’s made me fall head over heels in love with my blog all over again. Making me want to write, to put in the effort and to explore all the different avenues I can go with this. I want to change my tack and where I want to go. I want to write about things that matter to me, things that I want to say not just because I feel like I have to. Off topic slightly but I deleted my Instagram app off of my phone and Ipad in April this year. Mainly because I ran out of storage and it was either Insta or Twitter and I use Twitter to keep in contact with real life people so like that I gave Mr.’Gram the boot. For that time I didn’t feel like I was missing out, if anything I felt much better in myself. It wasn’t being rammed down my throat how chubby I felt compared to everyone else on my feed, that I don’t holiday enough or I’m not living my best life enough. It felt great to switch off from the cyber world and switch back into the real world. I’ve recently joined Instagram again and I’m finding it so much more freeing. I’m posting for me, the here and now and the unairbrushed, honest version.

In my downtime, I’ve been relaxing by binge watching a new series or listening to a podcast. I adore Chris and Rosie Ramsey’s podcast Shagged, Married, Annoyed and it genuinely makes me howl laughing. They’re such a funny pair and I love their relationship. You can’t help but smile when listening to this. Which can often lead to some funny looks when in the public domain. I listen to this when I’m walking my dog and wonder if people catch me grinning and chuckling away like a mad woman.  Similarly, I really like the Off Menu podcast with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. As you can tell I love the simple discussion of food, introduce these two funny lads and a different celebrity each Wednesday and you’ve got yourself a party. It’s really interesting sometimes hearing about the heartwarming reasons why a certain dish or foodie item has become someone’s favourite. Whether it’s your mum’s cracking roast potatoes, the warming cup of tea your dad makes you when coming home to from a bad day or something exotic from far and wide it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind each person’s dream meal. It’s like Desert Island Discs for those who think with their bellies. Also why it’s not called Dessert Island Dish is beyond me.

What have I been watching I hear you ask???? Well I’m super glad that The Good Place is back with it’s fourth and final season. It’s one of my favourite shows to grace the small screen and I love the creativity, the weirdness and the ease of watching of this show. I’m going to be a little bit sad when it comes to an end but I think it’ll be at the right time and it won’t be like one of those shows that keeps getting dragged out and gradually gets worse and worse ’til it reaches its bitter end *How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory I’m looking at you*. I binge watched all of Unbelievable over a weekend and it’s a really thought provoking watch. It contains some quite heavy themes about sexual assault and rape so if you’re sensitive to viewing those types of things it can be quite triggering. I don’t want to give too much of the storyline and the plot away but I was moved by the kick-ass female casting of this show, the stark portrayals of assault and the horrible realities of what it’s actually like. It’s raw and heartbreaking.

Since the last time we spoke I’ve been to the cinema twice, groundbreaking information coming straight to ya. Expect this as a breaking news headline imminently. In the days of streaming services, a gazillion different choices of channels and shows on Sky, endless creative content to watch on Youtube, for me, going to the cinema and actually seeing a new release is quite a big deal. In June or July time, I went to see Danny Boyle’s summer feelgood flick Yesterday and am still happily listening to the soundtrack now. I love The Beatles and I love that this film put a sprinkling of a modern twist on so many of their classic and much loved songs. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon watch. More recently, however I went to go see It Chapter Two in the cinema with a friend. We saw the first film together, scared ourselves half to death in the circus clown maze at Thorpe Park’s Fright Night shortly after and then promised we’d see the second one together as well. The evening was a mixture of emotions, my car overheated on the way to the cinema, but then we made up for it by gorging on a totaaaaally vegan bbq chicken pizza which was glorious. I’ve been vegetarian for coming up to two years and I’m really noticing the places that have GREAT options or so-so food options. I was so overjoyed to see they did different things aside from a margherita pizza or a mushroom risotto.

On the flipside from our delightful supper, It Chapter Two was about 100 times scarier than the first and everything I read about and more. I’m not sure if I can really, officially count me watching it however, as I had my fingers in my ears for about two thirds of the film and was thinking about what playlist to listen to on the way home and not the big scary clown on screen! Jokes aside though, cinematically it was excellent. The casting for the grown up Losers Club was spot on making the story evolution so natural, believable and perfect. Plus Pennywise was just as frightening as ever. Real talk though, if I lived in Derry, my first words to my parents would be take me to the estate agents I want to move please, please, please. Naturally, it doesn’t go into as much detail as it does in the books (find me a movie that does though) It’s nearly three hours long but so worth it as it really ties everything from the entire franchise so well together.

Soooo I think that’s it from me for now?! I feel like I’ve just spoke at you for about 20 minutes, which is essentially what blogging is when you think about it. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me round here. I feel like I say that every few weeks but I’m not going to punish myself if that’s not the case and I’m sure you’re not going to either cos you’re a right lovely bunch. Happy FRIDAY though everyone. I can’t wait to hear/read about what you’re all up to. I’m trying to catch up with my WordPress Reader!

All the love,

Abbie x

What to see and do in Bath.

 

I’m desperate to visit more places around the United Kingdom when I think about it I’ts mad that I’ve never set foot in some places not *reaaaaally* that far away, yet people travel from all over the world to visit. My sister’s friend is from Canada and he would think nothing of driving several hours to the closest city to his hometown, yet there’s so many places in this country that I’ve still never been to. Seeing as I’m lucky enough to live in a comfortable driving distance to Bath, with it being about 30 miles from my front door, I can share with you all of the best places to visit, the must see areas and the places you will definitely want to grab a few drinks in.

Bath is often featured on a lot of people’s bucket list places to visit in the UK. The historic city in Somerset is steeped in history and culture dating back to the Roman times, with plenty of modern shopping districts, spa hotels and an eclectic food and drink scene is it any wonder that people are flocking far and wide to get to know the in’s and out’s of this fabulous place.

The network links into Bath are great. Whether you’re coming from outside of England the nearest airport would be in Bristol which is about 45 minutes away. With a bustling train and bus station in the centre of the city with frequent trains from London Paddington, Cardiff and Penzance, getting to Bath Spa station shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re driving to Bath there are plenty of car parks dotted around the city, but like any busy city it can be a nightmare scrambling for a space all day long and then remortgaging your home just to pay for parking. There are a few different Park and Ride systems throughout Bath as well if you wanted to save a few pennies.

What to see.

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Image obtained from Visit Bath.

You can’t visit Bath and not find yourself gazing over the Pulteney Bridge and the sweeping horseshoe weir. Completed in 1774 it is one of the few bridges that have shops on both sides of it. Definitely a great photo op stop first thing in the morning with a view of the sunrise. Any Musical theatre buffs might also recognise this from Les Miserables.

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Image obtained from Visit Bath.

Prior Park a Landscape Garden surrounding the Prior Park estate, located to the south of Bath itself. It’s now owned by the National Trust and is a perfect place for a peaceful walk or take the perfect candid on the Palladian Bridge like you’re supposed to be in Pride and Prejudice.

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Image obtained from Discovering Britain

I just can’t help but find all of Bath’s buildings and architecture just so beautiful. This is The Circus a few moment’s walk away from the Royal Crescent. The houses are picture perfect, I feel like literally nothing can go wrong in your life when you own a home this pretty. I mean I might be wrong but I’d be bursting out of my curtains singing to my neighbours every morning ’til they put an asbo on me if I lived here.

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The Crescent is a short walk away from The Circus and I would definitely recommend seeing it in all its grandeur. If you’ve got the time and want to learn more about the history of this lovely place then pay a visit to the museum at No.1 Royal Crescent. The rooms are decorated just like they would have been in the late 1700s and it’s so fascinating to see and learn what life was like in the Georgian City.

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Image obtained from originalwild.com

If you’re a keen runner or cyclist you can follow the Bristol to Bath cyclepath or even along the Kennet and Avon canal path for some stunning views. Equally paddleboarding or punting on the River Avon are also becoming more and more popular and a more interesting way to see aspects of the City.

Depending when you’re visiting and whether Bath Rugby are playing at home you can either soak up the atmosphere in one of the many fab pubs and watch the game with a pint of wine. Or similarly try and nab yourselves some tickets. Surely you don’t need me to tell you that bit though?

Bath, Somerset. UK

Other great ways to take in the local sights is by climbing onboard one of the many Sightseeing Tour Buses you’ll see all around Bath. You can hop on and off at as many of the stop as you please as well as taking full advantage of the in depth audio commentary included.

Bath Abbey
I took this photo after a dinner out with friends and looking back at it now the man in front actually looks quite creepy BUT it was a cold and wet evening hence why he looks like he’s dressed like the Grim Reaper.

Bath Abbey’s gothic architecture is just as stunning at nighttime as it it during the daytime and I’d definitely say it’s one of the things you must see whilst you’re here just because it’s so iconic to Bath. During the day, you can pay to enter inside the Abbey and the tour lasts roughly about 45 minutes. Or just take in the craftsmanship from the outside; and enjoy all the street performers that gather between the Abbey and The Roman Baths here too.

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The Roman Baths are probably the most famous part of this beautiful city. It costs £20 for an adult ticket but it’s definitely well worth it to learn about the rich history, culture and the incredible Roman Empire. It can get incredibly busy and the queues can get quite heavy so book early on would be my advice plus you might be able to make a saving on a special offer. Pay a special visit to The Pump Room restaurant for one of their lavish afternoon teas for an extra memorable treat.

If you’re visiting Bath during the Summer months or up until October the Roman Baths stay open until 10pm at night; so if you’re into photography you could get some fantastic shots. I’m in it for the ‘gram.

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Photo from SkyScanner.net

Take a dip and bathe in Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters just like the Celts and Romans did over 2,000 years ago in the award winning Thermae Spa right in the centre of Bath. One of my favourite sights is the real juxtaposition of the modern spa against the old golden bath stone buildings in the background. You get a two hour time slot to use the rooftop pool, the indoor Minerva bath or to spoil yourself with some of the 40+ spa treatments they have on offer.

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Image obtained from Great Spa Guide of the spa at NO 15 Great Pulteney.

Similarly, if you’re looking for the ultimate pamper weekend and want to look into the other spas you could try out a treatment in the Lush Spa, The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa also have a wonderful spa with timeless treatments. The Gainsborough Hotel have a Spa Village which looks so tranquil and perfect for soaking away all your worries and troubles. Last but not least is Spa 15 at No 15 Great Pulteney. It’s wonderfully different and chic interior gives it a unique edge over everything else seen on this list. Beneath the well trodden street harbours this spa as Bath’s best kept secret.

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Bath city centre is full to the brim of fabulous shops, whether you’re looking to shop ’til you drop in the usual high street stores or potter around the unique, independent ones. The Southgate shopping district is directly opposite the train station and is relatively new to Bath and has lots of the high street faves and plenty of restaurants to choose from as well. Amble through the side streets and you’ll stumble on gold wherever you tread. Some of my favourite independent stores are Pug and Puffin, a wonderful homewares store that have lots of gorgeous pieces for your pooch too. Vinegar Hill has some gorgeous pieces; I could spend a fortune in there. And then there’s Heavens Bazaar a wonderful emporium of high end, vintage fashions.

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Image obtained from Beardy Vulcan on Flickr

Take a peek around the Guildhall Market a couple minutes walk from the Abbey. My favourite stall is the Costume jewellery one. I think my spirit animal might actually be Pat Butcher.

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Picture from Ticketweb.uk

For all you culture vultures out there, if you fancy immersing yourself in some of the Arts scene head towards Kingsmead Square where you’ll be opposite to Komedia if you want to catch some live music or comedy gigs. Or go to The Theatre Royal, a grade II listed building which is just as spectacular on the inside as it is on the outside. It’s home to amazing theatre, comedy, opera, dance and pantomime productions.

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Where to eat.

There are a plenty of generic, high street chains I could tell you that are in Bath or the surrounding area but we all know that’s not where I’d want to go myself if I was visiting somewhere new for the first time. As we (we being me, myself and my jeans inner thigh material) are very aware I’m a massive foodie. So I’m going to break down the best bit for you into sections, where’s best to go for a pitstop coffee, for breakfast or brunch, dinner and even throw in some fab vegetarian and vegan options too.

Breakfast and Brunch:

Wild Cafe

Wild Cafe uses only fresh, locally sourced ingredients and everything is cooked to order and cooked to absolute perfection as well. They’re nestled away in one of Bath’s many hidden streets but once you find it you’ll be glad to settle in with one of their famous pancake stacks or treat yourself to gorgeous plate of Eggs Benedict.

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Photo of the Good Day Cafe from Interiors.Family

Good Day Cafe

Steph and the team have certainly struck gold with this place. The Good Day Cafe is like an actual Instagram haven with millennial pink, marble and succulents throughout and let’s not forget about the food and drink they serve. I’d recommend the toasted banana bread. Delish!

Cafe Au Lait

This lovely little cafe is situated right opposite the train station so is the perfect first pitstop.  So whether you’re looking for a quick coffee before a day of shopping, a leisurely brunch whilst you decide where you’re going to head first (I’d recommend any of their pancake stacks) Or even if you just need to drop off your luggage (£3 per item) they cater for every need.

Rooted Cafe

Try The Full Indian Breakfast for a cool take on a classic brekkie choice.

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Cascara

If my Instagram and Pinterest feed came to life this is what it would look like. It’s ultra modern and ultra cool, totes vegz and does the best beetroot lattes and chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

Lunch stops:

Same-Same But Different

I first went here a few years ago and had their small plates whilst lunching with a friend and completely fell in love with their food. Nowadays I think they only do the small plates and tapas with their evening service but still it’s a great lunch shout for one of their sandwiches and opt for a bowl of chunky chips on the side too.

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The Whole Bagel

The only bagel shop in the whole city, great if you want to grab something quick whilst on the go and they can make up your bagel right in front of you whilst you wait.

Schwartz Bros.

A brilliant take out place to head to if you’re a burger lover. With a great big menu covering everything from beefburgers, to chicken burgers, veggie burgers or chickless ones. Get yourself one of their lush thick milkshakes whilst you’re there; thank me later.

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Image from Tripadvisor.

Juno Bar and Kitchen

Juno is VERY cool and as it’s just on the cusp of the Southgate Shopping complex it’s a great place to get some munch before you hit the shops again. They do great pizzas, play awesome music and also make great cocktails…need I go on?

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The Scallop Shell

I had to put this somewhere on the list I just really didn’t know where! There’s a reason why The Scallop Shell have finished in the Top 6 of the National Fish and Chip Awards 2019, they serve up fresh (sustainably caught, may I add) fish and chips everyday and it’s not just your usual cod and chip establishment. Whether you want shellfish, straight outta the sea fish, chicken or the spicy chickpea fritters they’ve got something for all. I will admit I’m not sure if the chickpea fritters are vegan but they’re a dead friendly bunch; there’s no harm in asking.

Phat Yaks

Phat Yaks

A cafe and takeaway in Kingsmead Square serving the most tantalising Nepalese street foods. One of their filled baguettes like the one above costs as little as a fiver.

ChaiWalla

The fragrant spices fill the air so you’ll know you’re getting closer to it. Either that or you’ll walk into the queue of customers waiting to order. The onion bhaji roti wrap is dreamy.

Afternoon Teas & Sweet Treats

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Sweet Little Thing

Bath’s answer to Peggy Porschen’s/Elan Cafe. They do breakfast and lunches as well but I think it’s a lovely place to have a slice of cake, a cup of tea and a few happy snaps against this GORG flower wall. Plus there’s a swing?!

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Royal Crescent

Dine like Kings and Queens and enjoy a lavish afternoon tea in the grounds of The Royal Crescent Hotel. I reviewed my experience of the vegetarian Afternoon Tea (read here) and it was utterly sublime.

Sally Lunn’s

Try a Bath delicacy, a famous Sally Lunn Bunn. It’s a delightful cross between something cakey and something bready. Also something you’ll struggle to find outside of Bath as well!

Bath Bun Shop

Enjoy a traditional cream tea, afternoon tea or one of the famous Bath Buns. I spoke about them in a lot more detail in this post here. Really interesting and definitely worth trying.

Fudge Kitchen

This fudge shop is a few steps away from the Abbey and the Roman Baths and if you’re not drawn in by the rich, sweet aroma, then watching the theatrics of them making the fudge in front of you definitely will. I’m a sucker for my favourite flavours like the OG sea salted caramel and cherry bakewell. They’ve also got a few vegan options too!

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Swoon

They say Gelato to fall in love with and they’re not wrong. The chocolate sorbetto is something dreams are made of.

Ben’s Cookies

There’s always a queue and that to me is always a good sign. There’s a Ben’s Cookies in a quite a few places around the world but it’s a great place to stop by and grab a snack. The ginger and dark chocolate is my absolute ride or die.

Maison Georges Lanicol

This shop is absolutely gorgeous and the pretty window display of pastries and macarons makes me feel like I’m walking the streets of Paris.

Bertinet Bakery

Great coffees, great brownies and pastries and incredible sourdough loaves.

Places for dinner:

The Oven

The Oven pizza’s are some of the best I’ve had. I love the flavours they use in their toppings as well as the taste that using the wood fired oven gives each pizza crust. Plus this was the first place I ever tried a dessert pizza topped with nutella, hazelnuts and mascarpone nibs and it was SO good.

Opa

A traditional Greek restaurant, serving delicious, authentic dishes. Home to such helpful staff and a lovely outdoor seating area; perfect for the summer too.

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Koffman and Mr White’s. Photo obtained from Wowcher.

Koffman and Mr White’s

This restaurant is in The Abbey Hotel and is a joint venture between Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White bringing all the best culinary delights between these French and English chefs.

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The Mint Room

The Mint Room

A fine dining Indian Restaurant a short distance from Bath City Centre. Everyone that I’ve spoken to that’s visited here speaks so highly of the food and the service. It’s definitely got the wow factor and is totally different to the norm when it comes to eating out at Indian restaurants.

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Sotto Sotto

Real, authentic Italian dining in the gorgeous aesthetics of the stone arched basement. It’s charming and relaxing and the service can’t be faulted either.

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The Chequers

If you’re a real foodie and enjoy good food then I’d wholly recommend The Chequers. This charming gastro pub is home to a locally sourced menu and a wonderful team of staff who you can tell who are enthusiastic and actually like their job. I’d urge you to go on a Sunday for their roast.

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Clayton’s Kitchen

High quality food and is a great choice to go for a special occasion.

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Dough

My sister raves about Dough and it’s probably her and her boyfriend’s go-to restaurant in Bath. I love that you can see the chefs tossing the pizza dough and making your dinner right in front of you. The menu has lots of choices and I really like that you can choose from a variety of different bases as well. Whether you want to stick to regular sourdough or try something a bit different like turmeric, hemp, seaweed and a few more speciality ones too. They also offer a gluten free dough too.

Koh Thai

A chain of cool Thai tapas restaurants dotted around the South West of England. They always have loads of great offers on and a cracking cocktail menu to boot. I can’t get enough of their cashew stir fry and the Blushing Lotus cocktail is to die for.

Fab Veggie/Vegan spots:

Most places these days offer something for vegetarian/vegan diets but sometimes it’s quite nice to be able to go somewhere wholly suitable for the vegheads out there.

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Image obtained from Happycow.net

Roots and Shoots

Is a lush vegan eatery right by the station and I love that they even stock loads of vegan ice creams too.

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Acorn

What I love about the menu at Acorn is that it just goes to show that plant based food is anything but boring. For vegans, vegetarians and those who want to try some remarkable dishes I would 100% recommend going here.

Beyond the Kale

Inside Green Park Station is Beyond the Kale cafe. It’s a wonderful little breakfast or lunch spot and they do some of the best veggie wraps.

The Green Rocket

A nice, chilled and relaxed cafe with lovely coffee and cakes.

Nourish

The best plant based lasagne (walnut, red pepper and cashew lasagne with garlic bread and salad on the side and an extra helping of YUM on the side of that.)

Nightlife.

There’s loads of great places to visit if you want a tipple (or five) in the city centre. Whether you’re a fan of clubs, bars, or an old man pub you’ll find something to suit you. Obvs you’ve got the usual ones you’d get in most towns or cities, like ‘Spoons, All Bar One, Be At One, Revolutions and Slug and Lettuce but if you’re after a bar crawl with a difference; try some of these out for size.

The Boater

My favourite pub to visit in the whole city. You’re spoilt for choice with four different bars, three different dining areas and a huge list of different craft beers and cask ales enough to sink a ship. It’s got a great big list of bar snack style tapas plus it’s got the biggest beer garden overlooking the river and the Pulteney Bridge I guarantee a good night out here.

 

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Hall and Woodhouse

Not only do they stock great food and good drinks but I’d recommend visiting here just for the views from their gorgeous roof terrace. Plus the sweeping, spiral staircases throughout make for the perfect backdrop for a pose, especially when they light up at night time. Like I say…I’m in it for the ‘gram.

 

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The Botanist

The Botanist is still fairly new to the city and the stunning interiors are enough to entice me in. They do food as well but if you’re just after a few drinks they’ve got a great cocktail list.

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The Canary Gin Bar

As an absolute gin lover this place is always top of my list of recommendations. Yep, you guessed it, gin is the speciality here and they have over 200 gins on offer and have an extensive ‘Gin’ Austen cocktail menu as well.

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Fidel Rum Bar

I love the atmosphere and style in this cosy bar. It’s cool, edgy and has a speciality for rums but they do offer a few other spirits as well. The bar staff are excellent and make incredible cocktails.

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The Ivy Bath Brasserie

If you’re not already sold on the utterly gorgeous decor then let me take you by your hand and sweep you off your feet with their delicious menus. It’s great for brunch, afternoon tea or dinner but I’m sliding this one in here as a great place to go for pre drinks as well. The bar area is beautiful and the Ivy Sling is mouthwatering, you’ll look like you’ve been sent from a cool 1920s New York bar perching on one of these barstools.

Where to stay.

There’s a whole host of places to stay in and around Bath depending on your budget. With plenty of purse friendly hotels and hostels in and around the city centre, gorgeous townhouse Airbnb’s you can fall in love with and the most instagrammable serviced apartments to stay at as well.

Photo obtained from The Halcyon Apartments

Well… We are now over 3500 words and I thiiiink…I think that brings us neatly to the end of our Bath tour, don’t you? I’d like to think I touched on all possible subjects and bases. But if you have any q’s I can kindly try to give you my a’s!

Pub Supper Box Review with UOpen*

Subscription boxes over the last few years have really had a giant surge of popularity; what’s there not to like about receiving a mystery parcel in the post once a month from yours truly?! With an abundance of different types available these days so whether you want to spoil a loved one with a fun gift or just treat yourself to a little something.

Recently I was contacted by a company called UOpen and they offer the biggest range of subscription boxes you could imagine. With such a wide variety of boxes they offer something for literally everyone and anyone. So whether you’re a fishing fanatic, crazy about cocktails or curious about crafting; the guys and gals at UOpen have got you covered.

UOpen offered me the chance of receiving one of their subscription boxes as a gift and I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say two for one on all cocktails for the rest of the night for people called Abbie. Staying in is the new going out; especially if you’re a billy no mates like me, so I picked the Pub Supper Subscription box to try out.  I wanted the pleasures of going out to my local pub (without the extortionate prices, sticky floors and fighting; and not just for a table) but all from the glorious comfort of my own home and sat on my sofa watching boxsets in my jammies. 

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I love going to a pub. There’s far more enjoyment for me in a nice, cosy, old man pub with cheap pints and board games aplenty than in a packed out club or bar. If you sympathise with me here or maybe just know someone who’s a pub fanatic; this box might just be right up their alley.

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It costs £19.95 for a monthly payment per box in which you’ll receive roughly between 8-10 premium pub snack goodies. So it’s not just your bog standard soggy peanuts and a tiny packet of scampi fries round here. The box I received had a plethora of delights inside, the majority of which I can say I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately for me there were quite a lot of meat based items but as I was sharing this experience and all the contents with my family, they sampled all the things I could not.

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One of the first things that caught my eye was this packet of Brave roasted peas coated in a warm and spicy paprika and chilli flavouring. These little bites were super crunchy and super moreish; a little sprinkling in your hand just was not enough. They feel a lot healthier than snacking on some super salty peanuts so if you’re looking for something a little bit different instead to try to fill that savoury void these would be an excellent choice.

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But if nuts remain a pivotal part of your predrinks, feast your eyes on these Graze mixed nuts. You get chilli & Lime covered cashews and salt sprinkled peanuts and almonds. The chilli on the cashews is a little bit warm so if spice isn’t your thing, maybe stick to the peanuts and almonds. I love that this mix is a little bit different from what you’d usually find in a pub, bar or in the snacks aisle of a supermarket. And the chilli and lime flavours of this go so nicely with something tequila based or a light beer.

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I am not a fan of olives but I’m really glad these were included in my box as some people do actually like these sad salty grapes. Specifically those people being my sister and mum. They’re a popular bar snack and go nicely with most beverages.

 

What’s a party without gossiping over some wine and crisps?! First up was Scrubby’s Sundried Tomato and Basil flavoured hummus chips which I could have eaten a whole lorry load all to myself to be honest. I love hummus and I’ve tried a few different types of hummus crisps before but these ones were next level as they were complete with some top notch italian style flavours. Next was Nando’s very own Peri Peri grooves Spicy Chicken flavour potato crisps. I didn’t eat these (cos veggie) but even before I turned vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of chicken crisps but these smelt a whole lot better. More like Nando’s scent with a bit of chicken flavour as well. 

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I’ve had these salt and vinegar mini rice cakes before and they are absolutely gorgeous and I could easily scoff loads. You can get them in the bigger size or normal rice cake size as well which is the ones I’d usually opt for, but having this grab bag gave me more opportunity to shove more in my mouth than you should. These low cal snacks are perfect if you’re choosing to not have crisps but still want the acidic tang that salt and vinegar snacks give you.

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So I don’t want to keep banging the drum to the same tune here BUT I am vegetarian so I didn’t eat these. They’re a bit different as it’s something I didn’t imagine would be included. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m a veggie and don’t mix in the meat eating pub snacking circles so obvs it wouldn’t be something I’d choose for myself.

Last but not least in my pub subscription box were two different bags of pork scratchings. We had the Awfully Posh ones which were chilli and roasted garlic flavoured (fancy!) or the Mr.Porky crispy strips. Now to me this is a original classic for country pub snacks. In my local they have a massive glass barrel on the bar filled to the brim of pork scratchings.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Pub Subscription box even though some of the items I received weren’t all 100% suited to my tastebuds; it provided a variety of different snacks to please a wide and varied crowd. Not literally obvs they’re not Jesus with their loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I’m sure if this was a service I kept up with ordering each month, there would be a whole host of different sweet or savoury snacks inside that would tickle even the fussiest of tastebuds.

Some people may argue that the price seems a bit steep but I think with these types of things it’s excellent if you’re having friends round for a party or if you are a pub connoisseur and to unwind in the evening in your arm chair with a nice bottle of something (no lambrini huns pls) and to delve deep into your monthly box. If you went to a pub with friends or picked up some new, fancy bits whilst food shopping and bought 8-10 different nibbles and snacks I don’t think you’d get much change out of a £20 either and this is delivered straight to your door in a nice big box too.

If I could change one thing about this I think it would be really nice to include what alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages would pair well with which snack. I think that would be a really nice added touch and tie the whole experience of it so well together. Other than that I really liked it.

With a snazzy subscription box like this in your home or ordered just for a special occasion; There’d certainly be no FOMO going on.

*I received this subscription box from Uopen in exchange for a review. As always my thoughts, feelings, opinions and images remain honest, genuine and my own.*

Whistling Down The Wind.

Hello how you diddling? It’s been a little while hasn’t it?! I’ve been stopping and starting with writing on here for too long now for the silliest of all reasons. Either I wasn’t really feeling it, I didn’t like what or I was writing or I kept starting it off by saying ‘Hey Hey’ and that sounded more like Krusty the clown from The Simpsons than it felt like I was being cool and quirky. So hello, how’s that for size?

I’ve neglected this blog and nearly all my social medias recently I think means a proper little chatty catch up post is definitely in order. So settle in grab a cuppa and a slice of something delicious and let’s have a little catchy uppy shall we?

So where on earth do I start…Theresa May resigned from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Game Of Thrones came to an end, Britain flopped (as per usual) in Eurovision all in the same month that I had a complete social media purge and deleted Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter off of my phone and from my life. I’m not saying I hold that much of an impact and my ego is the size of the moon BUT it’s a bit of a coincidence isn’t it just?!

I deleted a few of my socials for a number of reasons really. Firstly, I have literally no storage space on my phone and I value other apps and a plethora of saved memes over me constantly scrolling on Insta like there’s no tomorrow. Secondly, without sounding like a knockoff Marie Kondo, but these apps didn’t spark any joy so why did I really have them? I felt like I was mindlessly clicking on it, almost out of habit, seeing that my life wasn’t nowhere near as good or well put together like others online. I know that with Instagram you only ever see the good aspects of peoples lives; no matter how gratifying it would be to know your favourite fashion blogger or influencer spends all morning cleaning her oven and then eats own brand cheesy beans on toast for tea.

Without all these apps I’ve found that I’ve actually spent a lot less time aimlessly on my phone. God knows how people procrastinated before the telly, internet and social media were invented?! Because of this, I’ve been quite productive in other aspects of my life (apart from on here apparently!) and now I  feel a lot less inclined to post something for the sake of posting, or to keep up with a theme or because I haven’t posted in a few days and I might lose a follower. In the grand scheme of things for me, Life is far too short to worry about tiny, little details like that in my opinion.

I’ve become quite lax, maybe a little bit too much so, with posting on here. Which to be honest makes me quite sad. Blogging used to be one of my favourite pastimes and something I could always rely on lifting me out of a funk and lately it’s felt like a blimmin’ chore more than anything. I’ve questioned whether this whole thing is even for me, whether i’m good enough, whether there’s space for me and this little old blog in this growing community anymore and whether anyone actually even really cares. Then once I got over myself I realised I do this for me. To have my own personal journal online for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come, what I’ve been doing and for you all to judge if you so wish.

But, I’ve been toiling away on loads of new content, which I realise makes me sound like such an arse. Like I’m an actual investigative journalist covering topics of civil war in third world countries not that you’re getting one rambled post about cookies once every three months. Can’t win ’em all. Jokes aside I’d love to be able to write about the former, covering such huge topics and bringing them to light, I honestly don’t think I’d have the brain power or the vocabulary to speak about such subjects in a way. I’ve had a bit of a shake up and rebrand around here so it may look a bit different and some new ideas will be coming out to play as well. Think of me like a hermit crab, the exterior may look a bit different but on the inside it’s still the same old, Ab (salty, crabby and always walking sideways apparently)

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I’ve been going through the motions a lot in my own head recently. I’m 24 and I just feel like I haven’t achieved anything of significance in my life so far. Like I didn’t expect I’d have amounted to much but I was hoping my roaring twenties would have been more fulfilling than it has been so far. For all those pop culture vultures out there, do you remember when Gemma Collins was in Big Brother and she exclaimed to Tiffany Pollard ‘This is gonna be a long slog, this life for me’ well I FEEL that.

So rather than sit back, mope around like I’m about to sing the sad song in the prelude in the musical of my life. I’m going to try my best to push myself out of my comfort zones and do things, make memories, create stories and genuinely live my best life. Not just look like I am online. I’ve got a notebook, a very cool leatherbound one and I’ve filled it with everything I hope to do or achieve in life. From big things to little things from finding a career I fall head over heels in love with to learning to drink whisky like a cool girl in a smoky parisian jazz bar. It’s probably not something I’m willing to share online right now mainly cos it might read like the ramblings of a mad woman who just really wants to learn how to ride a pony. But I’m hoping this’ll give me a sparkle and a newfound lease on life.

Hopefully it won’t be too long til the next time you hear from me. Have a fab weekend. Ab x

How To Make Homemade Smartie Cookies.

These sweet snacks used to be my absolute favourite treat when I was younger. After talking to my sister about them recently we discovered you cannot find them ANYWHERE. I looked all over and searched high and low in pretty much every supermarket and online (that’s how desperate I became for my sugary fix) and started to feel like this is the hidden conspiracy item or I was a victim of the Mandela effect; did they even exist? Did I make them up and had been living in a cookie induced lucid dream for years?!

Also, side note, if someone finds these being sold somewhere real soon I’m going to sound like such a weirdo conspiracy theorist aren’t I! If I get a comment from someone saying they bought these in Tescos just a few days ago I’m going to actually go mad. But anyway!

So I made some of my own that I think taste pretty similar to the real deal and how they used to taste but given the fact that it’s been the best part of about 10 years since I remember having one they might not be bang on but they still tasted pretty good so if you fancy making some of your own give this recipe beneath a go.

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Ingredients:

  1. 150g softened butter
  2. 150g soft light brown sugar
  3. 75g caster sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 large Egg
  6. 250g plain flour
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. (optional)
  9. smarties (other sugar shelled chocolates are also available)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and if you wanna be super organised (unlike me basically) line a baking tray as well.

  • Firstly, combine the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl. The more I’ve gotten into baking over the last few years, I think you actually really notice the difference when using cold butter, room temperature butter or softened in your bakes. By using room temp or softened butter it enables the sugar and butter to mix together a lot quicker and a lot easier. Plus it means you don’t have to have a mini bicep workout in the kitchen. In this recipe I used both white caster sugar and light brown sugar. The addition of the brown sugar gives the bake a darker golden colour and a slightly more fudgy taste.

 

  • Combine the egg and the vanilla extract together then pour into the sugar and butter mixture and stir until fully blended. Even though there’s a lot of sugar in these super sweet cookies by adding the vanilla extract gives the cookies an extra, deeper flavour throughout. Most supermarkets stock extracts or essences in the home baking aisle and if you want to make this recipe your own you could try using different flavourings like almond, coffee, caramel or even a salted caramel essence instead of vanilla.

 

  • Once all the wet ingredients are fully combined sift in the dry ingredients until it’s formed a dough like consistency. I added in the spices in at this point it’s completely optional I only used a small amount as I didn’t want it to overpower the whole thing but I felt that it just added a little something extra.

 

  • Place the dough in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to let the flavours develop and the dough to harden up.

 

  • I sliced the cookie dough into 1 inch thick circles, rolled it into a ball between my hands and placed on a tray. I then pressed in a handful of smarties into the cookie and then baked for between 10-12 minutes until golden.

Perf with a cup of tea or glass of milk or eating every single one after the other when no is looking…

 

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Book Review: Jacqueline Pirtle’s 365 Days Of Happiness *

One of my favourite pastimes is immersing myself in a book, to me there is nothing quite like being able to slink off, forget all your troubles and worries and absorb yourself for a little while into a different world. I’ve been this way since I was a child and I’m still one of those people that could pick up the same book and reread it time and time again. This year in an attempt to try and cut down my screen time I’ve set myself a challenge of reading 25 books in a year. To some this may seem simple to others it may seem mammoth but i’m hoping it could be an achievable goal.

I’m trying to branch out in what I read rather than the usual fiction or chick lit I’m trying to broaden my literary horizons and add some different genres to my bookshelf.

I was lucky enough to be gifted this particular book from one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. I know that probably sounds false or like a massive cliche but Kelsey from Book Publicity Services in the States is a literal ray of sunshine. Which was totally apt considering she sent me over Jacqueline Pirtle’s book 365 Days Of Happiness to read and review.

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They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but when there’s a gorgeous cupcake that looks too good to eat how can you not want to dive in head first? From the description and the blurb I was already super interested in what this book had to offer. Jusr from reading that I learnt that Jacqueline is a holistic practitioner, healing arts teacher, mentor, author, all round cool chick, need I add more to the list?! She has published this book as a step by step guide to happiness. She spent every day throughout 2017 dedicated to her own happiness. Noting down the things she did that improved her wellbeing or sparked joy. 

I’d never read a book like this before and I must admit to being a bit sceptical at first. I suffer with low mood and anxiety and am also a natural cynic so how much would this book realistically change the way I think? Is she going to tell me surefire ways to win the lottery, wake up looking like Charlize Theron with Tom Hardy running upstairs bringing me breakfast in bed? Well…sadly not. But, Jacqueline will teach you the very easy, subtle art of changing the way you think to a much more positive happy outlook on life.

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I’m the type of person who can often find herself in a more negative head space and that can be a funk that can be quite hard to break out of. This book teaches you simple ways to rethink normal, day to day life and before you know it, it’s slowly seeping into your normal way of thinking.

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A lot of the teachings in the book really resonated with me and definitely made me sit back and reorganize my thoughts or the way I think about things. This passage above has made me look at situations I’m presented with in a different way. Sometimes when you’re faced with difficulties it can be hard to raise your head above it and think of the bigger picture in life. That someone somewhere will have it better and someone somewhere will also have it a lot worse. What you think or what you see as a problem someone else could see as a blessing.

This isn’t the sort of book you would necessarily read all in one go but perhaps place on your bedside table or your kitchen counter so when you wake up first thing or have a few minutes with a cup of tea and your breakfast you can spend a moment or two dedicated to yourself, your thoughts, gratitude and mindfulness. As someone who can often feel quite pessimistic this book taught me that sometimes you have to adopt a mindset in seeing positivity in things you might not normally.

I really liked this book and I feel like Jacqueline’s personality and soul shines through so warmly. It’s like she’s an actual friend and is offering life advice and cheering me up a bit every morning! If you’re looking for a book along these lines I would wholly recommend this one. I’ve actually lent it to a friend and he really loved it and tries to put the teachings into practice each and every day.

*this book was gifted to me but all of my thoughts, feelings, opinions and pictures are completely genuine and completely my own.

FEAST BOX: An Asian Meal Subscription Box Review*

I am a certified foodie. I love going to new places, trying different restaurants and new and exciting cuisines; as much as both my purse strings and my waistband allows of course! Since starting this blog I would say my confidence with food (both cooking and eating) has increased massively! I’m always on the lookout for fun things to cook and bake (and share with you all, cos if there’s no picture on the ‘gram did it ever really happen??) especially if it’s pretty easy for me to do as well, it makes it even better!

So when I recently had the opportunity to be gifted a meal for four from Feast Box I naturally jumped at the chance. If you haven’t come across this company yet you won’t be disappointed. It’s a meal subscription service created by the same company that runs the UK’s largest online Asian supermarket, Red Rickshaw.  The idea of Feast Box was born when company founder, Jyoti Patel, wanted to introduce the delicious meals we would usually have when eating out, dining abroad or even from your local takeaway as something that someone with a limited cooking ability but a love of great food can cook easily at home. So someone like me.

This was mine and my family’s first experience with having a meal subscription box service and we were all super impressed with Feast Box. As I said, this was my first go with this type of service so naturally I wasn’t sure too sure what to expect if I’m honest.

Their website is easy to navigate when it comes to ordering your homemade banquet. Each week they refresh the 12 meal choices so whether you’re setting yourself a food budget (it states how much each meal box would be per person) or are a meat eater, a vegetarian or vegan there’s options for everyone. If anything, there were too many options! I’m vegetarian and the rest of my family aren’t so I really wanted to choose something specifically that we all hadn’t tried before and would tickle all of our tastebuds.

I chose a dish called Sunehri Bindi for us all to try. It’s a Pakistani dish which translates to ‘Golden Okra’. It was a deliciously rich, spiced and the okra, if I do say so myself, was cooked to perfection. Sometimes it can have that rubbery, almost gummy taste and texture but I followed the recipe card that came so precisely I didn’t leave room for anything to go wrong. It came with some rotis, lime pickle and a fresh vibrant side salad.

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Above is the absolute feast in a box I received with fresh ingredients, fresh herbs and my favourite bit of all… eco friendly packaging! The boxes are insulated with a product called woolcool which keeps the fresh things fresh and the frozen things…well.. frozen. There was a bit of plastic usage which has been recycled, the spices and herbs either came fresh or in plastic pots which then came in a little fabric drawstring bag (which I’ve kept as a little memento cos i’m a bit of a loser like that) and the majority of it was inside  paper bags too. Big thumbs up on that front!

The recipe instructions were set out in a really easy to follow, step by step guide. It didn’t seem too complicated nor did it seem too patronising. I think for me personally it definitely helped by making sure I had everything on hand at the time so I had prepared all the vegetables and it was within arms reach so as my sister and I were cooking we could quickly just grab something and move onto the the next step.

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I ordered this as a meal for four people and it produced a mammoth amount of curry, a mountain of gorgeous, crisp salad and three toasted roti’s each we really were spoilt and had a lovely feast! The salad was lush and something that I would definitely recreate in the future. When it comes to having curry or similar dishes often I think of having them with some sort of carb whether that’s rice, Bombay potatoes or a naan or flatbread so it was really nice to try an almost lighter option for a change. The salad consisted of finely chopped and diced cucumber, red onion, tomato, coriander and mint leaves. The freshness of this paired perfectly with the subtle spicy heat from the Sunehri Bhindi.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with Feastbox, I love that it gave me the opportunity to cook something authentic that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of recreating for myself.

If you fancy skipping the usual takeaway haunt and want to try cooking for yourself, friends, family or want to impress someone on a date with your incredible cooking skills I’d definitely recommend this meal box. I’m not shocked when I read that it was rated #1 recipe box on the market by The Telegraph.

The team behind Feastbox were all so, so helpful from start to finish and I genuinely can’t thank them enough for putting up with me and my terrible technology skillz and mainly for gifting me this lovely box and opportunity. And if that’s not enough they’ve also given me a unique code ABBIE9540 to give you 40% off your first box order!!

*Thank you so much for giving this a read and please do let me know if you try out one of their fab boxes. This opportunity was gifted to me but the thoughts, feelings and opinions throughout are all 100% genuine, honest and mine. The unique code they gifted to me and all of you as well isn’t an affiliate link and I won’t earn anything from it other than the satisfaction of your lovely selves cooking up some tasty scran inspired by yours truly. *