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Another new favourite of mine in central London – Café Monico is a new brasserie by Soho House that is just in the centre of Shaftesbury Avenue. Recommended to me by a colleague, I couldn’t say no after scrolling through their menu.
Having arrived early (as usual), I started the evening waiting for my boyfriend at the bar downstairs with a glass of wine and just loved the people watching – the atmosphere was buzzing with business men and women standing around with plates of charcuterie and cocktails.
We were seated upstairs on the rounded balcony where a waiter asked us of any allergies. I mentioned I was gluten-free but said that I was used to picking the right things from menus so not to worry. When my steak tartare arrived, the man kindly brought over some gluten-free toast with it! It’s little things like that which make me very happy 🙂
As a main course, we both had the moules frites which, as you can see, went down very quickly. The garlic and wine sauce was one of the best I’ve had. At this point, you could tell that the plays in the area were ending as the place filled up and the waiters were getting more and more difficult to reach. However, it was a lovely evening with lovely food and lovely wine and I’m already looking forward to our next trip!
There’s nothing better than a bundle of home comforts after a bad day at work. I’ve collated my most needed, most used and most loved for those times where you feel like you’d rather hide under the blankets and take a break from the world!
Capri Blue Aloha Orchid Candle:
One of my favourite things to do when I walk in the door after a long day is to turn on the TV and light some candles. My favourite one this summer has no doubt been Aloha Orchid from Anthropologie. It brings me straight back to lovely childhood memories of being on holiday, and makes my whole living room smell fresh and homey.
If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a slight coffee addict… My bright red Nespresso machine gets turned on first thing every morning, and is always the first step to a cosy moment at home.
The perfect way to zone out – turn Netflix on and get the sketchbook out. Pinterest usually works for some inspiration and I then go from there. I’m not particularly good at this but I like doing it and just hide all the really bad ones into my booklet 🙂
A bit of a new obsession since moving into a flat with a balcony, gardening is now my happy time 🙂 I started by growing a few little lavender and strawberry plants, and now I’m on to chilis, tomatoes, sunflowers… You get the picture.
Dealing with pretty regular and random bouts of anxiety can make me feel pretty horrible at times. Something that definitely helps manage my daily stress levels in particular is an app called Headspace. It’s free to download and has a 10 step guild to meditation (made easy). They’re each only 10 minutes so it’s not too difficult to dedicate the time. I usually do it just before leaving for work to help my overall frame of mind.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on 🙂
After having only just found out about this shop before Christmas, I have somehow managed to buy about half the shop!
Just outside the Covent Garden tube stop, this shop is so inviting with its simplistic yet colourful & exciting design. Notebooks, stationery, handbags… What more could someone ask for?? Having spent just a little (/way too much) time in this shop, let me tell you about my favourites:
The Mindfulness Book:
2016 resolution? Practice mindfulness. Thanks to my lovely little mindfulness book that I recieved as a Christmas present, this task has become lemon squeezy. Taking the time to write down my monthly progress and reflect on what the past month has been like gives me that little bit of motivation to meditate more and see everything through a mindful eye.
The 2016 Planners:
I collect notebooks like no man’s business, but dropped everything when I picked up one of these Kikki K 2016 planners. Having not even gotten the largest one they sell, it is still pretty huge, and gives me plenty of space to write up my daily to-do lists. You also get a sneaky little treat at the beginning of every month courtely of Kikki K online 🙂
The Important Documents Binder:
If you’re anything like me with papers, you might just stack them all in a hidden drawer somewhere and pretend they don’t exist… Only to hate yourself when you can’t find your NHS number or proof of address when you need it! This binder not only looks pretty damn nice on my desk, but also makes me really enjoy filing my documents (honestly!). It comes with stickers, too, so you can’t really go wrong.
Let me know what you think and if I’ve missed any of your favourites…So that I can go buy those too!
The best way to celebrate two years together, you ask? Steak. Lots of it.
I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to try out this new restaurant because although its Shoreditch restaurants are so very loved, I’ve never walked past it without seeing a massive queue, and you can’t book in advance. Although that butcher in the window was pretty mesmerising…
Soooo in order to pull the good girlfriend card, I left work as early as possible and got to the restaurant by 6, to add myself to the hour long waiting list. Met the boy at our favourite pub around the corner just in time for a drink, and got a text about 45 minutes later saying our table was ready!
Walked past the incredible bar in the centre of the restaurant while being seated, with a casual bartender chipping off ice from a big block of ice into an endless row of cocktails.
Then steak. That’s pretty much the menu, and I approved… big time.
The steak was perfect, the wine was perfect, the fries were perfect… and cheap too! For such a fancy meal, I was pretty sure they’d given us the wrong bill by the end of the night!
The meal was also rounded off perfectly, when the lovely waitress gave us mini steak knives, which were our tokens for free salted caramel ice creams!
We walked out very full and very happy, with salted caramel ice creams to go. By this time the waiting list had extended to THREE hours!
It’s Christmas already!!!
I have completely immersed myself in the Christmas spirit and have taken advantage of all things Christmassy in London over the past week!
It all started with an office trip to the Natural History Museum’s Ice Skating Rink, which was absolutely magical! Sponsored by Swarovski, there is a little corner photo booth that automatically takes (rather embarassing) pictures of you skating around, which you can pick up for free at the upstairs chalet.
Although it was a pretty clumsy affair, I was abolutely hooked, and went to the ice skating rink at Somerset House just three days later! A little obsessive, I know…
Then came a few romantic evening walks around Regent Street and onto Carnaby Street…
And there’s no Christmas in London without an obligatory trip to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park… It was quite early in the season so wasn’t too crowded. A lovely evening filled with mulled wine & bobble hats: my favourite combination!
What better way to celebrate my birthday than to try out the new menu at one of my favourite restaurants?
Smiths is a huge building right in the middle of Smithfield Market near Farringdon Station. It’s got a very New York feel to it, with the look of a renovated warehouse, with exposed brick and pipes going along each wall.
When you walk in, the ground floor is an amazing cocktail bar. I would recommend the Espresso Martini…. (:
We had a drink at one of the tables downstairs and then walked up to the third floor grill.
Hint: their house rosé downstairs is amazing, but they don’t sell it upstairs so we picked up a bottle from the bar and brought it up.
As a starter, we had the sharing platter between the two of us. I’m pretty sure this changes regularly, but we loved everything that was on it! Worked quite well because I could shove all the gluten-y bits over to my boyfriend, and I got extra hummus! It’s all about the compromise, right??
I have to say the highlight of the dish was the thai steak salad!
No surprise – I went for the steak frites as a main. I asked for it medium, and to be honest it was quite overcooked so I (very embarrassingly) sent it back. They brought me back a perfectly cooked steak within minutes, and the manager even popped by to check it was alright which was greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, I struggled to find anything gluten free on the desert menu, but my boyfriend was very happy with the cheesecake and I had the chocolate ice cream that came with it (sorry, no images).
Overall, I love the atmosphere of this place, and the service is fantastic! I will definitely be going back soon, and recommending this to anyone visiting London.
This place has an amazing feel to it the second you walk in. For starters, it’s very popular, and is always buzzing. On top of that, the pub is split into five sections by huge opaque glass walls, that lead the way to the back room which is full of sofas and an open fire.
It’s a Sam Smiths pub so no music, no TVs, no WiFi, but the sound of people having a good time catching up is plenty.
My boyfriend had a couple great beers, I went for the white wine as usual, and we decided to share a plate of nachos. They kindly had a big sign above the bar that said the staff could help with any allergen information, but I have to admit, the nachos were thoroughly disappointing.
For £10, I was expecting a big plate of very cheesy nachos with tons of pulled pork and toppings. Instead, we got a healthy spoonful of pork, chopped tomatoes which were advertised as salsa, little pots of guacamole and sour cream, and barely any cheese on a small amount of nachos which pretty much crumbled each time we picked one up.
I would really recommend someone at Sam Smiths take a good look into either the pricing of their nachos, or what’s on offer, because I won’t be ordering food there again. However, I will definitely be going back to the pub. Even though it was busy and probably understaffed, the bartenders were really friendly and the drinks were nice. The ambiance is also something that I haven’t found anywhere else in London to date.
If you’re ever on the Pimlico side of Victoria, pop by and let me know if you agree!
This was the first weekend away that I had fully organised on my own, so I did tons of research and found this adorable 17th century country house turned hotel, set just far enough out of London that it was the perfect escape.
My boyfriend had just gotten back to London from a few months away and we were celebrating his birthday/Christmas/our first anniversary all at once so I wanted something as relaxing and exciting as possible while not breaking the bank. Luckily I came across Stoke Place on Secret Escapes, and because they’re pretty empty between Christmas and New Year, we got a really good deal.
When we arrived, I was honestly a little nervous – it was really the middle of nowhere, and the part of Slough that we drove down looked a little run down. But the second we got onto the property, we were both blown away. The house was absolutely beautiful and the estate is huge!
Only disappointment – the Christmas tree was not very happy… (it stayed that was for the whole visit)
We were put in one of the newly refurbished cottages just by the front gate, and although it had less of a hotel feel, it was actually really nice being away from hustle and bustle.
Our room was great, and the bath was amazing (I think I took about 4 baths in 3 days..)
PS: I was of course using Lush bath bombs, my favourite is Avobath but in this photo I was using their Christmas Present bomb which is a lot more fun 🙂
We were ridiculously excited when we noticed the bed in breakfast cards!! So there was no question about where we were going to spend our mornings…
They even dropped off Love Actually on DVD so that we could watch it that evening!
We didn’t try the hotel’s restaurant because it was pretty expensive and didn’t have the best reviews, so we went straight for burgers at the bar. Still pretty expensive but it was a nice burger! And we loved the atmosphere so went back the next morning for coffees and scrabble 🙂
Tip: great pub down the street called The Red Lion which was perfect for the cold winter night, great food and open fire! Sorry I didn’t take any photos!
On our last day we went into Windsor and spent a great time walking around the castle and the town.
Overall, it was an amazing weekend (although I was maybe a little biased by the lovely company). The service was very kind and helpful, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a weekend away from the city.
Tip: Don’t forget the Llamas in the garden!!! (I’m not kidding.)