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Lifestyle, Lists, My Life

30 before 30

September 10, 2017

Two weeks ago I turned 26 and I’ve started thinking about what I would like to achieve and do before I’m 30. I’ve spoken before about the importance of setting goals but not putting pressure on yourself so I’m hoping giving myself 4 years will be plenty of time. And if I don’t tick everything off the list then I’m sure I’ll allow myself an extension…

1. Gain a qualification.

This is a bit sneaky as I’m actually starting my Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching this month, but starting is no guarantee of completion! I’ve got 3 years to complete the course so hopefully I’ll be a qualified coach before I’m 30.

2. Run another marathon.

I’ve entered the ballot for the London Marathon again so fingers crossed! If I don’t get in, I’ll look for another race. Potentially one abroad!

3. Visit New Zealand.

New Zealand is the country that got away for me and Stu. We always tell ourselves that we’ll visit one day and I think we need to make it happen.

4. Go skiing again.

As we’re on the subject of travel I should mention this one as well. I went skiing with school years ago and I’d love to try it again.

5. Have a paid coaching client.

At first, I’ll be using my coaching qualification at work but I’d like to explore either consulting to a business or having individual clients. Watch this space!

6.  Volunteer.

I’d like to help out at a charity event or volunteer for a charity in another way.

7. Learn how to do a French plait.

Confession time! I’m awful with my hair and I’d love to be able to do all the pretty braid styles that I see on Pinterest. Time to watch countless YouTube tutorials…

8. Go to an outdoor cinema screening. 

These look so much fun and is one of those things I never get around to booking. Definitely one for the summer though.

9. Get a new kitchen.

Or at least give it a freshen up. New kitchens are expensive but I reeeeeeeally want one!

10. Appear on TV.

Okay, this one is completely random but I’d love to be on a game show. I applied for The Vault a few years ago and got an audition but that’s as close as I’ve got. I’ve just got to keep trying!

11. Treat myself more. 

I’ve always been good at saving and I actually struggle to spend money. Any excuse to take something out of my basket and it’s gone. I’d like to get better at buying things for myself.

12. Visit Italy.

Everything about this country looks gorgeous and it’s really not that far from the UK.

13. Start my family tree.

I love History and this would be a great project to discover more about my family.

14. Complete a triathlon.

I always like to push myself to new challenges and a triathlon would be perfect.

15.  Bake more.

I love baking and definitely don’t do it enough. I’d like to challenge myself more and I’m feeling inspired by the last couple of episodes of Bake Off.

16.  Start Yoga.

I’ve had a little taster of yoga and I’d like to give it a go properly.

17. Upcycle some furniture. 

I like the idea of giving some furniture a new lease of life instead of it going to the bin. I usually start browsing the John Lewis website for new furniture so I think it would be fun to hunt around charity shops and Gumtree instead.

18. Change my hair.

I’ve had the same hairstyle for years and I’m desperate to do something different. Shorter? New colour?

19. Display pictures from our travels.

I’ve started the mammoth task of printing all the photos from our travels but we need to start framing some or making them into a canvas.

20. Try another festival. 

I’ve only ever been to Glastonbury so not sure if other music festivals will live up to my expectations. Maybe a food festival instead?

21. Visit New York. 

Pretty much all of this list is travel related but what’s life without travel? The Big Apple has been on my bucket list for a long time so my 30th would be a perfect excuse to get it ticked off.

22. Blog more. 

I need to make more time for my blog and increase the amount of posts I publish. Even one post a week seems too much to ask at the moment.

23. Add more recipes to our repertoire. 

You know everyone has a handful of go-to meals that they can easily make in the week? I’d like to mix them up a bit more.

24. Host Christmas Day at our house.

This one scares me but I’d like to be the host for Christmas Day. It definitely won’t be this year so that leaves me with three more years to prepare myself (and Stu).

25. Start a podcast. 

I like to listen to them and I’m tempted to start my own…

26. Race more.

I run quite a lot at my local running club but I don’t enter many races. I feel more motivated to run when I have a race in the diary so I’d like to do 4 a year from now on.

27. Visit the Warner Bros studios again.

I visited the Harry Potter studio tour a few years ago and I’m desperate to visit again. There’s so much more to see there now.

28. Read 30 new books.

I tend to read my favourite books over and over again (Harry Potter – I’m looking at you) so I want to challenge myself to read something different and hopefully discover some new authors in the process.

29. Say yes more. 

It’s too easy to get into a routine in life. I’d like to say yes to more opportunities and to not be afraid to step outside of my comfort zone.

30. Be happy.

I’m very happy in my life now and I hope that I still feel the same in 4 years time.

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol

August 17, 2017

Situated on the corner of Caledonia Place in Clifton, The Ivy is a beautiful restaurant that’s been open for around a year round. Stu and I finally got round to going a couple of months ago and now I’ve finally got round to writing my review. We’d both heard good things about The Ivy but I still went in with an open mind because there’s nothing worse than somewhere not meeting your expectations and letting it ruin your night.

Spoiler alert: There was *nothing* to be disappointed about.

We were booked in for a Saturday night so expected it to be busy. It was, but in a good way. We were sat in the main seating area which will leave you wishing you lived somewhere with high ceilings and huge chandeliers. Being busy, there was a constant buzz about the place which always creates a good atmosphere in a restaurant. I hate places where you feel everyone is listening to your conversation and you have to whisper. It wasn’t so loud that we had to shout across the table at each other either so win-win.


Now, The Ivy is more expensive than your standard chain restaurant but this was a treat night for us so we decided to not worry about the price and just pick what we wanted. For me, this obviously meant starting with a cocktail! I had the Lavender Lady which was a pretty, gin based drink. 

Now, the food. Our server was really attentive and explained all the specials to us and made some recommendations which is always a good sign. I like it when someone clearly knows the menu rather than just reading off the whiteboard behind them.


I started with the Tuna Carpaccio and Stu had the Crispy Duck Salad. Both came out presented beautifully and the flavours lived up to expectation. My tuna was so fresh and the miso mayonnaise it came with was phenomenal. I do love miso though. Stu’s dish was just as good (obviously I tried some) and the crispy duck contrasted wonderfully with the watermelon.


I was really torn with what to choose for a main. There was lots of choice on the menu and it took me a while to decide. Quite often, one dish will jump out at me but so many options sounded great. I eventually went for the Aromatic Duck Curry because I was intrigued as to how duck would work in a curry. The menu described it as ‘fragrant’ and that sums it up perfectly. It smelt wonderful and all the flavours really complemented each other. Any curry that uses lemongrass will always be a winner with me. The curry was served separately to the rice and although the rice looked good wrapped up in a banana leaf, it made eating it slightly difficult. I didn’t know whether to dip my forkful of rice in to the curry or to add all the rice to bowl of curry in one go… Neither seemed ideal!


Stu had the Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder which came with creamed potato and vegetables. The lamb looked immense with a mustard and herb crust and Stu definitely enjoyed it. I didn’t try any unfortunately but we can trust his opinion!

We were both feeling pretty full by this point but there is always room for pudding. I could only manage something small and went for the Mini Chocolate Truffles. These came filled with salted caramel and were a perfect sweet treat to end the meal with. Stu had the Lemon Meringue Alaska. This was a baked meringue with lemon ice cream and was served on a lemon curd sauce. All sorts of deliciousness!



With a tip, our meal came to just over £100 which is more than what we’d usually spend but for a three course meal and drinks it was worth it. Sometimes it’s nice to really make an occasion of eating out and The Ivy in Clifton is perfect for those times. It’s so easy to grab a Nandos that it can be easily forgotten that eating out should be an event. So get dressed up and head to The Ivy, no excuses needed.

Lifestyle

An Afternoon of Polo and Pimms at The Celtic Manor Resort

August 5, 2017

Anyone for Polo?

There’s three words that I didn’t think I’d ever start a blog post with but I have been to my first ever polo match!

The Celtic Manor in South Wales hold this event annually and I went with a group of friends this year. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t even know what to wear. In the end, I figured  that I’d dress as if I was going to the races because Polo has horses too. Sounds reasonable right?



We arrived on a sunny June afternoon and it was BAKING. We were so lucky. I got a horrific tan line from my dress but the day would have been terrible in bad weather. I’m sure the Celtic Manor have a contingency plan but I can’t imagine many people turning up. The good weather meant that we could chill on picnic blankets surrounded by jugs of Pimms. Life was pretty good. I even got a cheeky picture with Lydia and her Mum from Towie!


As this was my first Polo match, I knew barely anything about the game. A couple of friends knew the rules so I kind of understood what was going on but I just didn’t find it that exciting. Maybe it was just because I didn’t care who won. The best part was definitely half time when everyone descended on to the pitch for the divot stomp. This is where everyone walks around the field pressing the divots flat to improve the pitch. More sports should definitely get the crowds involved in this way.



More Pimms and food followed the match and time seemed to fly by. A local band then started playing to a tipsy crowd so there was plenty of dodgy dancing on display. Not from me obviously, I’m great…

I definitely enjoyed the Pimms more than the polo so I don’t think I’m going to be saying ‘yar’ instead of yes anytime soon. It’s a great day out though and something different to do with friends.

Have you ever been to a Polo match? What did you think?

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Backwell House, Bristol

June 29, 2017

Just a few miles from the busy city centre of Bristol sits the beautiful Backwell House and I was lucky enough to visit and try out their new menu on a stunning weekday evening a couple of weeks ago.

It’s hard to put in to words just how picturesque Backwell House and surrounding grounds are but if you take a look at the pictures below, you’ll get a pretty good idea.



We were greeted with drinks by the entrance before being given a tour of the House and gardens by Guy, the Managing Director of the Hotel and Restaurant. I would usually summarise the tour in the same post as the restaurant review but that wouldn’t do this place justice so I’m going to write another post at a later date to showcase all the quirky details and the wonderful gardens.


After the tour, we were seated in this huge dining room reserved just for the Bristol bloggers group and we each had a goody bag filled with gifts from Backwell House and local suppliers which was a lovely touch. Before long our Starters were being brought out and I’m the worst for getting food envy so even though my dish looked great, I also wanted to try everyone else’s as well! I started with the Pressed Backwell Pork with New Season Peas, Pancetta and a Tarragon Emulsion (this sounds better if you read it in your best Masterchef voice). The crackling was a bit awkward to eat politely so not a great option for a first date. I ended up picking mine up and just going for the chomp! The rest of the dish was really tasty and set the tone for the rest of the meal.


Next up was the Cornish Cod with a Brixham Crab Bonbon, Crab Bisque, Kohlrabi and Pak Choi. I’m not usually one to pick fish but I thought I’d give it a go and definitely wasn’t disappointed. The whole dish tasted really fresh and no flavours were too overpowering. I was sat next to Rebecca who had the sirloin steak which looked immense so I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.



Now for dessert I had to choose the strawberry cannelloni just because I was so intrigued. I had no idea what to expect but it was a nice refreshing end to the meal. The cannelloni was served with cute little meringues and some Cheddar Valley strawberries.


The atmosphere of the evening was great, everyone was chatting between courses and hearing stories of Backwell House from the staff. The chef, Ross Hunter, came out to see us afterwards for a little Q&A session and he was so modest! I told him to get on Masterchef: The Professionals! It was good to hear that all the food was sourced locally, including some from the very gardens of the house.

Our hosts for the evening, Guy and Felicity, were ridiculously accommodating and couldn’t do enough to make sure everyone was having a good time. I’ve been to a few blogger evenings now and this was one of the best. You can tell how much Guy loves Backwell House or ‘his baby’ as he calls it and I’m sure every visitor will leave just as happy as I did. Just go!


I received a complimentary meal at Backwell House but all views are my own. 

Lifestyle, My Life

Why Do We Always Ask Ourselves ‘What Next?’

May 22, 2017

Do you ever feel like your life has to follow a certain path just because that’s the way other people think it should be done? I’m talking education, get a good job, meet someone, buy a house, get engaged, get married, have a baby, have another one, keep pushing for that next promotion, retire, grandkids…. Then what?

Life goes quickly enough as it is and I’m sure we could all do without the pressure that we and others put on ourselves to be constantly moving towards the next milestone. So why do we do it?

I know I’m guilty of asking friends and colleagues when they think they’re get engaged, move out etc but I hate it when people ask me. ALL OF THE PRESSURE.

I’m trying to make a conscious effort not to ask these sort of questions because I’ve realised that it really doesn’t matter.

So what if you never get married? So what if you never have any kids or pop out a whole football team’s worth? So what if you rent all your life? IT’S YOUR LIFE.

Forget about what society thinks, people will judge you no matter what you do so you might as well enjoy your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to have goals but your life doesn’t have to follow a particular order. How boring would it be if everyone did the same thing?

There’s no need to compare or feel judged. Just do you and enjoy it.

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Square Kitchen, Bristol.

May 20, 2017

Last month I was invited to try out the new Spring menu at The Square Kitchen in Clifton along with a few other local bloggers. I love eating out so I was excited to try somewhere new. Bristol is full of so many hidden gems when it comes to restaurants and for someone who has lived in Bristol their entire life, I feel bad that there are so many places I’ve never visited!


The Square Kitchen is situated in The Berkeley Square Hotel off Queens Square.  It’s a private members club aimed at the creative industry but luckily members of the public can also visit.


It was cocktails on arrival for the bloggers and I was glad to see a good selection of mocktails as I was driving. Cocktails and bloggers meant an awful lot of photos had to be taken before we could drink. Did you even have a cocktail if you didn’t take a picture of it?


Before we sat down to eat, Heather let us have a nosy around her room as she was staying in the hotel for the night. The room was absolutely perfect for a short stay and I’m pretty sure I could actually live there haha! There was a definite Alice in Wonderland theme going on in her room as you can see from the pictures below. They know how to make food and drink look appealing! Also – how cute is the kitchen area?!


After a quick visit to Heather’s room, it was time to sit down to eat. The quirky interior theme continued to the restaurant with beautiful art work and low hanging lights which look good but did nothing for the pictures I took of my food!


We started with ham hock and piccalilli appetisers before our Starters came out. These were completely unexpected so felt like a real treat. I felt like I was a judge on Masterchef as the presentation was so pretty – a definite theme to the whole meal!


I decided to be brave with my choice of Starter and went for the seared scallops with serrano ham chips, a clam salad and caviar. This looked really delicate and came with some lemon spherification which is something I only know about from watching posh chefs on TV! I enjoyed the starter, especially the scallops because they’re such a rare treat.


For my main I chose the herb and parmesan gnocchi which was served with butternut fondant and a parmesan tuille. The gnocchi was beautifully rich and the butternut fondant was so smooth it was almost creamy. I wished there was more of this dish it was so tasty.


I finished with the chocolate bomb which was an event in itself. A filled chocolate sphere is brought to your table and then the waiter pours hot salted caramel sauce over the chocolate causing it to collapse and exposing the filling inside. Mine was filled with peanut butter parfait and a banana mousse. What’s not to love?


The whole menu was reasonably priced for the quality of the food, it’s definitely somewhere you should consider for a nice meal out without a stuffy atmosphere.


Blogging

I Went On A Copywriting Course And This Is What I Learnt

May 18, 2017
copywriting for bloggers

This post is a bit off-piste but I recently attended a copywriting course with work and found it really interesting so thought I would share what I learnt here for any other bloggers/writers.

What is Copywriting?

In basic terms, ‘copy’ is just words. Copywriting is making those words sound good. You can also use copywriting for SEO purposes but it’s much more fun if you’re not trying to cram a load of key words in to your writing.

Good copy should be easy to read. That means it makes sense, flows well and doesn’t contain jargon. The main tip I took away from the day was to write how your reader speaks, don’t be really formal if you don’t need to be. I did learn quite a few tips and tricks to improve my copywriting and I’ve summarised them all below.

 AIDA

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action and is a common marketing technique. It’s a good formula for a piece of writing if you want the reader to do something (i.e. the action) after reading.

Attention – It sounds obvious but you need to grab your reader’s attention in the first place. This can be a catchy headline, a bit of harmless clickbait or something intriguing.

Interest – Great, you’ve got your reader’s attention, now what? Attention spans are at an all time low. How often have you opened a blog post or news story and just skimmed the first few lines before moving on? Pretty much every time? This is why paragraphs in a news story decrease in importance the further you read. After your attention grabbing headline or strapline, it’s time to get the reader interested. Talk about something that your reader cares about. No one cares about you until you’ve proven that you care about them or can do something for them.

Desire – If someone is still reading then they’re starting to buy in to your story. Now is the time to get the reader to start desiring the ‘action’ at the end. Good techniques to use here are storytelling and backing up your claims with evidence. People buy on emotion and numbers sell.

Action – The action is the most wanted response. What do you want your reader to do after reading your writing? Enter a competition? Leave a comment? Or apply for a job? Make it clear what you want the reader to do. This is the ‘call to action’.

 Powerful Language

The most powerful word in writing? You. By speaking directly to your reader and using words such as ‘you’, ‘us’ and ‘we’, the reader is more likely to carry on reading and feel like your writing matters to them. You’ll notice that Politicians use this technique A LOT!

VAK – The three senses, Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

Most people have a preference to one of these three senses so it’s best to use all three to make sure you’re appealing to everyone. Examples of each are:

Visual – Can you see yourself…?

Auditory – Do you like the sound of…?

Kinaesthetic – How would it feel to be…?

Towards/Away

Some people move towards a goal, while others move away from a problem. This one works well for job adverts. For example, moving towards a goal could be ‘Looking for the next step in your HR career?’ and moving away from a problem could be ‘Hate commuting to London every day?’.

Rule of 3

Some Psychologist called Gestalt figured out that humans like a list of three. So use bullet points and examples in threes. You’ll notice that I used this technique earlier in the post.

And there you have it! A quick overview of some copywriting basics. Once you know some of these techniques you’ll spot them everywhere. So many adverts use the rule of three that you’ll actually start to find it amusing. Well you will if you’re a word nerd like me.

I hope you find these techniques useful and can put them in to practice. Let me know how you get on! (This an example of a call to action if you didn’t notice…).

copywriting for bloggers

Food, Lifestyle

Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea at Old Down Estate

April 29, 2017

Before I start this post, I have a teeny tiny confession to make.

I still haven’t watched the new Beauty & The Beast in the cinema.

I know, I know, I’m such a bad Disney fan. I don’t even have a good excuse, as always, life has been busy and time has just flown by. I promise I’ll see it soon though. Or maybe just wait for the DVD…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I got to experience a Beauty & The Beast themed afternoon tea with a couple of friends at the beautiful Old Down Estate. Disney and afternoon tea? What could be better!


It was a beautiful afternoon when we visited so the grounds looked wonderful. You can get married at Old Down Estate and if you were lucky with the weather, you’d get some beautiful photos. Inside was just as pretty and we were quickly shown in to a holding area before our table was ready.


The Beauty & The Beast soundtrack was played quietly in the background to get us in the Disney mood (as if we weren’t already!) and before long we were shown to our table.


Each table had a replica enchanted rose and little figurines of characters from the film. The whole room was overly excited and everyone was taking lots of pictures of their tables. Mrs Potts as the milk jug was a firm favourite of mine. I actually ended up with a really milky tea as I was recording myself pouring the milk and trying to get that elusive perfect Boomerang for Instagram!


There were even more pictures as our afternoon tea came out to us. Alongside the usual sandwiches and scones, the macaroons were sitting inside a Chip mug and we had a chocolate cake shaped to look like Cogsworth. Everything looked really pretty and it’s always a shame to eat it.


I’m actually a bit weird and don’t like many desserts so I was happy with the sandwiches and scones but didn’t like many of the other treats – too much coconut and mousse for my liking. If I’m being honest, I’ve had better afternoon teas but the the Beauty & The Beast theme made this a special occasion.


As we were finishing off our food, a lady dressed as Belle came in to the room. Unfortunately there were only a couple of children in our sitting so Belle had to make awkward small talk with a lot of bemused adults. We still had a picture with her though! Belle then started to sing along with the sound track which again would have gone down better if there were more children to join in.

I liked Old Down Estate and I’d definitely like to see a wedding there, just got to bully one of my friends in to choosing it for their venue!

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Jamie’s Italian, Bristol

April 3, 2017

Last Friday, the sun was shining and I managed to finish work at 3pm. Stu had had the whole day off so I quickly got changed and then we headed in to Bristol for our meal at Jamie’s Italian on Park Street. I’ve been to this Jamie’s Italian before and one in Bath but not for a few years so I was really looking forward to visiting again.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Super Lunch Menu
We were sat in one of the American Diner style booths next to the window and with the sun coming in, I genuinely felt like I was on holiday. And I think that’s probably one of the best feelings there is. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I ordered a mojito and Stu got a beer.

Jamie's Italian Bristol cocktails
As it was still early, we could order from the Super Lunch menu which is only £13.95 for three courses! We both love food as much as we love a bargain so both went for choices on this menu.  Although it’s a set menu there’s still a decent amount of options. Stu chose the truffle tagliatelle to start and I got the tomato bruschetta knowing full well that I would be trying Stu’s at the first chance possible.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Tomato Bruschetta

Jamie's Italian Bristol Starters
Both starters were delicious. Mine was really fresh and perfect for Spring. Stu’s was a lot richer but really comforting. You can’t beat a simple pasta dish and this was amazing.

For the main event, I went for Gennaro’s Chicken Club (Gennaro is one of the Greedy Italians – great duo!) with spicy fries and Stu had the Italian Steak and Fries. Both portions were a good size and we commented that it’s really good value for a lunch menu. The spicy ‘nduja mayo on my main was a real highlight for me, especially with my fries!

Jamie's Italian Bristol Italian Steak and Fries
Jamie's Italian Bristol Chicken Club
We’re both pretty full by this point but there is always room for dessert in my eyes. With no cheesecake in sight, I was forced to choose the Epic Brownie. And let’s be honest, it was an easy decision because it was truly epic. Just look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Epic Brownie
Whoever came up with the idea of putting popcorn with a brownie needs to be knighted. They are a genius. This was the perfect way to round off the meal and I’m definitely going to try and recreate the epic brownie at home.

A special mention has to go to the staff at Jamie’s Italian in Bristol. They’re all really helpful and can give you lots of information about the dishes. Thank you for making us feel special!

Have you visited a Jamie’s Italian? What did you think?

I was invited by Jamie’s Italian to review the restaurant but all views and brownie loving are entirely by own. 

Blogging, Lifestyle

Blog Posts I’ve Enjoyed Recently #4

March 19, 2017

Slight disclaimer needed with the title of this post today. I’ve been a bit of a lazy blogger and I actually read these blog posts ages ago but I’ve only just got round to writing about them. Sorry!

Sophie Cliff – Body Image & The Wedding Industry – Now, I’m not getting married but I’m sure we can all relate to Sophie’s words about body image. Society can make us feel like we are constantly chasing a dream body. I think we all need to accept that there is no dream body. If we all looked the same then life would be boring. Embrace your quirks and read Sophie’s post if you ever need a bit of a pep talk!

Zoe London – Why Must I Consistently Compare Myself? – An extremely raw and personal post from Zoe. She opens up about  how she compares herself in all aspects of her life. Comparison truly is the thief of joy and something I struggle with as well. You can tell yourself that you don’t care what other people think but deep down, we all do. I’m not sure how to tackle this problem!

My Mum!

My Mum and Stepdad are currently backpacking the way around the world. They started in Singapore and are now exploring New Zealand in campervan. Could they be any cooler? They’ve started a travel blog to document their travels and it’s amazing to read about what they’re up to. I’m incredibly jealous and want to do my gap year all over again!

As always, I hope you enjoy reading these blog posts and please leave me some recommendations in the comments!

Image source here.