Saturday, 29 November 2014

A Weekend In Another City: Bath

Last Sunday, my friend P and I went on a roadtrip to Bath (i.e. P drove us there because you can't really have a roadtrip in England). First stop was the Thermae Bath Spa - the hot outdoor pool on the rooftop has amazing views of the city and was the perfect way to spend a slightly gloomy morning. There's also an indoor pool and steam rooms - the eucalyptus and mint one is amazing. Bath is the only place in the UK where you can experience naturally hot spa water, the Victorians used to think that this water had all sorts of health-enhancing properties and after a few hours at the spa its hard to disagree.

Obviously no pictures area allowed inside the spa but this is the outside! Next stop was lunch at Wild Cafe - I hate going to other cities and visiting chain restaurants so it was nice to find somewhere different. I had the falafel burger (obviously) and P had eggs Benedict (sans Cumberbatch).
Making the most of the sunlight before it got dark at 3pm we wanted around the city - it was cold but so pretty. Free My Waitrose coffee in hand to warm up!

Once it got dark it was time to hit the shops - Bath has the classiest Primark I've ever seen and I might have bought a Christmas Jumper...but more on that another day. P browsed laptops in the Apple Store while I messed around with the ridiculously huge 6 Plus.

Our final stop (after unpictured tea and then un-pictured G&Ts because that is clearly what British people subsist on) was The Cosy Club - a super cute restaurant on the way to the station which had the cutest decor - part gentleman's club and part vintage kitsch (and yes that combination works).

Have you visited Bath?


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

So, I'm Running The London Marathon Next Year

On Sunday 26th April 2015 I'll be running 26.2 miles around the streets of London. As someone who used to hide in the toilets during games at school a part of me can't quite believe that I'll willingly be running for 5 hours (well, that's my target time) but mixed hockey was a long time ago and since then running has become something that I can't imagine not doing. My former sport-avoiding self would definitely be rolling her eyes at what I'm about to say now but running is amazing, I am in no way going to be giving Paula Radcliffe any worries but running makes me feel like a superhero and it's brilliant for your physical and mental health in so many ways. Yes, there are days where I don't want to get out out bed at 6am, days when a TV and chocolate marathon feels a million times more appealing than putting on my trainers but once I'm done I never regret having gone for a run. I've become so much fitter (in a sporty way, not in a "she's well fit way" because after running a recent half marathon in a torrential downpour I probably have never looked less hot) and eating a burger comes with a slightly smaller side of guilt when you've just run 10 miles.

Running a marathon seems like one of the biggest challenges there is and since my first 10km in 2011 it's always been something that's been there on my "one day...maybe" list. I'm running for Leonard Cheshire Disability and you can sponsor me here. Running for a charity is a bit scary as its a lot of money to raise but it means that my (hopefully amazing) experience also benefits others - and training runs will definitely trump lie-ins if I know friends and family have donated their well-earned cash...

Tips and Kit (/gift guide for sporty friends and family)

1. Start slowly. The first time I tried running I sprinted for probably about a minute, felt like I might have a heart attack and then went home. The C25k app was a huge help in getting started - it paces you so that you build up your time running gradually and keeps you motivated.

2. Get your kit right - you don't need to spend loads of money. One of the best things about running is that its free - if you're a beginner just make sure to invest in a decent pair of trainers and a good sports bra. As you start running longer distances investing in a decent kit is worth it but doesn't have to be expensive - Sports Direct and outlet stores are you friends. (Yes, I had a momentary freak out and thought I was a card theft victim the first time I saw Sports Direct on my online banking).

3.Pair up - find a friend to run with. Personally, I prefer running as me-time but occasionally running with a friend is a great way to shake things up and you're less likely to cancel on a friend than on yourself, right? Bonus - you can go for brunch afterwards.

4. Sign up to races - when I first started running I signed up to a 10k so that I wouldn't give up. The distance sounded terrifying as I could only run for 20 minutes but I did it! Since then I've done loads of 10ks and a few half marathons. Despite being the most uncompetitive person races are so much fun, it's always an amazing feeling to running with so many other people - think of it like a festival, only sweatier and without the alcohol.

5. Enjoy it! Running isn't for everyone so if you've tried the tips above and still don't like it then don't force yourself to do something you hate, life's too short and there are so many other forms of exercise. And if you are a runner, enjoy it - I'm never going to be super speedy but I love running despite not being naturally "good" at it. And somehow, its a little harder to berate your legs for not being long enough and thin enough when they've just run 13 miles.

Fit Kit:

Yes, female running gear is dominated by pink - no complaints from me! This Adidas Water Bottle is great for staying hydrated on longer runs (something I need to practice), running in the chilly weather will be easier with these Adidas Leggings (channel your inner Sporty Spice), embrace the pink with these Nike Trainers (love the retro air bubble sole), I'm a big fan of Nike Shorts and these patterned ones are super cute, the Fitbit Activity Tracker tracks distance and calories so is a great motivator, finally a sports bra is a must and this Nike Sports Bra is one of the prettiest I've seen!

Are you a runner? What's the biggest challenge you've set yourself?

Monday, 24 November 2014


Hot on the heels of the Year of The Bus sculptures there is now a Paddington trail around the streets of London. The sculptures are in celebration of a new Paddington film for which I am maybe not the target market but I've been snapping away at the bears while on walks and runs around the city (anything to make a 10km run in the pouring rain a little more bearable). Here are the ones I've found so far:

How grim does the weather look? Off to curl up with some cocoa and marmalade sandwiches...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Giftguide / Wishlist

Unless you've been hibernating (let me in on the secret if so) then it's pretty hard to escape the fact that CHRISTMAS IS COMING. We've had the John Lewis advert, the Oxford Street lights turned on by the B-list celebs of the moment and Halloween feels like an age ago already (although my head and wardrobe are still stuck in late summer and that's probably not going to change). Whether you are a "most wonderful time of the year" type or more of a bah humbug-er you are definitely going to have to give, and hopefully will receive, some gifts. I have put together my wishlist, which also acts as a gift guide for gin-loving, city-dwelling, mid-twenties girls (ahem) because I really have no idea what your mum / dad / second-cousin-twice-removed wants for Christmas. I don't even know what a second-cousin-twice-removed is, maybe they'd like vouchers?

And, remember, kids: it's the thought that counts. This time of year always seems like a bit of a frenzy of eating, drinking and spending, all mixed in with a side of FOMO and a tinge of disappointment that your Christmas wasn't like the John Lewis advert (although this year that seems unlikely unless we all morph into penguins) or that you didn't get a puppy / a diamond ring / Benedict Cumberbatch in your Christmas stocking. Remember that whatever you do give, they will love it regardless (although that isn't ever an excuse to buy someone socks) and that whatever you get you will smile graciously and do you best Kate-Middleton-opening-a-children's-home face because there are people having a far worst time of it than you not being bought something you wanted (if you're an employed adult you can probably buy it for yourself, yes?). Ok, back to the materialism we go...definitely not thinking of Cumberbatch and stockings...definitely not... 

1. Gin Advent Calender 

An early Christmas present but this really is a gift that keeps giving all month long and you can't say that about some of the truly awful items that the shops are trying to make us believe are "Christmas gifts". One of the best things about being an adult is that you can skip the weird aftertaste advent calender chocolates for a daily bottle of gin with Master of Malt's Ginvent calendar. These might be useful when seeing the John Lewis Christmas advert for the bazillioneth time, for helping to wind down after a long day of enforced merriment or for a pre-party tipple. If you or your giftee are not a gin fan there are also whiskey, vodka and rum versions here.

2. Barbour Scarf

Shopping for clothes for others rarely works out well (sorry, daddy, but mummy did not like those yellow shorts) but a scarf is never going to be the wrong size for anyone and who doesn't like a tartan scarf? It's cold outside and this Barbour tartan number will keep me / you warm well into 2015. This is probably the only gift on my list that a boy would probably like too.

3. Dressing gown

If, like me, you're increasingly swapping FOMO for JOMO (joy of missing out, kids!) and feeling all the better for it then you're going to need some decent JOMO attire. This DKNY dressing gown is super cosy without being granny-ish and along with Netflix and almond milk hot chocolates forms an essential part of the "survive January and February" kit.

4. Statement Necklace

Statement jewellery is always a good gift choice - again, it's not fraught with having to pick a size and statement necklaces are still everywhere and there really is something for everyone. This Accessorize necklace is perfect for the party season and will look great in dreary January and February over a simple black roll neck. It's also a perfect price point if you're doing a Secret Santa or are on a tight budget.

5. iPhone case

My poor iPhone 4S has definitely seen better days and I have my eye on an iPhone 6 for a little self gift in the new year. My new purchase will obviously need protecting against life in my handbag and this Lanvin case is a super cute way of preventing it getting knocked around too much. Perfect for gifting too if you're shopping for a designer fan but don't have the budget - tech accessories are often the most affordable way of getting a label fix and it's something you can use everyday.

6. Benefit Feelin' Dandy Lip and Cheek Kit

Make up would usually fall in the same category of clothes i.e. just don't bother trying to buy it for someone else but this Benefit set features some of the brand's most popular products in suits-all shades. Perfect for busy girls and for after work touch ups - Posie Tint is one of my favourite benefit products and it's even sweeter in miniature size.

7. Kiehls Creme de Corps

I love giving luxe versions of every day products - something that someone wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves but would use every day is often the best sort of gift. This cult body cream from Kiehls is a holy grail for a lot of beauty bloggers and it's the perfect antidote to dry winter skin. The packaging means that it definitely won't get banished to the back of a dusty cupboard along with the "smellies" giftsets which just scream "I bought this on Christmas Eve".

8. Louboutins

I know, I know, I've already said that wearable purchasers are fraught with "what size" difficulties but let's say you already know someone who owns a pair of Loubs, say, in a size 37.5 and has tried on all the styles and knows which ones she likes? Well, these red soled beauties would make one hell of a Christmas gift and the Pigalle style are a true style classic that can be worn year round. Or maybe just kept inside for a bit to admire the beauty of an unscuffed red sole.

9. Lush Spa

Stepping right back from the cliff edge of materialism but studies have shown that we actually derive more happiness from experiences rather than things. I can't argue with science and think that the scientists would approve of a Lush Spa voucher for a deep tissue massage - perfect for dealing with the January blues and getting some me-time after the party season. Vouchers are often seen as cop-out gifts but if they're for something specific they can be great - especially if someone already has everything and lives in a tiny little flat and really doesn't have room for anything else.

10. Made Cushions
You've officially arrived in Grownupsville when home furnishings make it onto a Christmas list. Whether you are kitting out your own place or bringing a personal touch to a rented home these cushions will definitely brighten things up with their nautical-but-nice designs. How adorable is the yellow porthole?

What's on your Christmas list? Share your gift guides and wishlists in the comments below...


Monday, 17 November 2014

A Tasty Weekend in the City - Polpo and Granger & Co

Warning: this post contains egg porn*.

Another weekend. I feel like the busier the weeks, the faster the weekends come around. I have no issue with this as I appreciate a weekend far more after a manic week but it still terrifies me how quickly the time is passing although the speeding by of the weeks means there's no time to dwell on things past and worry about what's coming next (and thank goodness for that, it's exhausting). Especially when you have a lunch date at Polpo with (some of) the best girls ever for our Burger Queen's birthday. 

And not a burger in sight! Our waiter explained that the concept of Polpo is sharing plates, we completely ignored this concept and all ordered what we fancied. Even friends do not share food in my books and only child tendencies are a hard habit to break. I started with a gin, cucumber and basil martini - I've only just got to the stage where a lunchtime drink no longer feels delinquent but doesn't quite feel necessary, a good stage and a very good drink. I had the goat's cheese bruschetta which I had had before and loved. The menu also features pizzetta, meatballs and fish dishes so there's something for everyone and if you do share you can have quite a feast! I passed on the other savory dishes because I knew I had to have the chocolate salami for dessert and it did not disappoint - perfectly rich without being sickening and with a sprinkling of sea salt on top. This was definitely one of those "if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life..." moments.

And because there's no such thing as "too much chocolate" I couldn't resist a slice (and a photo) of my friend S's birthday cake later in the afternoon - Malteasers, KitKats and Milo in one cake.

On Sunday morning I went for a run and had to take another picture of the Tower Poppies, beautiful, poignant and a site that I won't tire of seeing until it gets taken down. I ended up running 10 miles in the end, along the river and around Hyde Park, taking in the sights and the autumn leaves. 

A coffee (not a Christmas one because there is such a thing as too much sugar) in a red cup while I walked back from my run. Yes, it really is that time of year again.

I met my friend P for lunch at Clerkenwell's Granger & Co - somewhere that I'd wanted to try for ages, especially as its only a 5 minute walk from my flat. I had the courgette fritters with a deep fried egg (ahhhmazing) and halloumi. P had the ricotta hotcakes - Bill Granger's signature dish - with a side of bacon. I admired the cake table for my next visit and P had a hot chocolate (my mint tea was less photogenic). Granger & Co is in a beautiful deco-style building, there is Aesop hand wash and hand cream in the bathrooms and (unusually, for me) at least four other dishes on the menu that I just have to eat soon. I'll definitely be back.
*Egg porn: photographs of eggs at the height of their oozing, decadent lusciousness. NSFW (because they'll make you hungry and feel sad and dejected about the lunch you're eating at your desk).
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