Kew Gardens Orchid Lates: Valentine’s Day Done Differently

Happy Valentine’s Day lovies!

Today people around the globe celebrate love *hubba hubba* and as I love, LOVE, I thought I’d share a cool Valentine’s date night idea that you can enjoy tonight with your bae or your gal pals, if your owning single life.

I’ve lived in London all my life and I’m still finding new things to do and places to explore.

Kew Gardens has been on my list of things to since forever, which is why my boyfriend and I visited as a pre-valentines date.

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As of late finding a date-night destination which doesn’t consist of food, drinks and a film has been a complete myth, which is why we opted for a date night with a difference.

Think culture, arts and a botanical garden, and the obvious choice for us was taking a visit down to Kew Gardens latest botanical installation – Orchid Lates.

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We joined Kew after dark for an intimate night viewing of tropical flower displays inspired by the vibrant, colourful plant life of India.

Set in the Princess of Wales conservatory they had pop up food and drink options also inspired by Indian culture as well as a stalls which included Henna and drawing.

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For me this date night was everything and I’m not exactly the most in touch with nature. But, having the chance to stroll around a haven of flowers and plants, my boyfriend and I were left to our own devices, bantering, laughing and enjoying the scenery – it really just took us back to the basics – we talked about everything and nothing, and of course posed with ALL of the flowers.

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So, if you’re still on the hunt for something to do today or any other day throughout this month of lurrv, miss the hustle and bustle of touristy attractions and consider Orchid Lates, it’s on until the 2nd March – trust me you’ll love it.

Enjoy today and let me know what you’re up to today, I’d love to know x 

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My Beauty Travel Essentials

Hey Lovelies,

With summer teasing us here in the UK, I’ve booked my next holiday to Dubai!

As a semi-seasoned jet setter (lol I wish!) I’ve teamed up with my blogger babe – Lani Rae all the way from New Zealand to bring you a fashion and beauty series to help you prepare for your summer travels – so make sure you head over to her blog for the fashion segment!

As I have just come back from Thailand, I thought I’d let you in on my top holiday beauty essentials, as I’m sure all you girlies can appreciate how hard it is to decide what beauty faves we should pop in our suitcase, while taking into account that we may get a tan – I mean, do we really need a brand new powder from duty free 3 shades darker? Yes, I hold my hands up, I am guilty of this – never again!

I love the countdown to a holiday for two reasons; it’s a chance for me to escape to an idyllic location, away from the hustle and bustle of London and the stresses of work so I can relax, but, also because I know it’s a great chance to treat my skin to plenty of Vitamin D as well as calm down on the makeup so my skin can breathe and repair itself.

It’s good to note that while on the plane, it’s wise to take off any makeup. Air con on the plane is a MF and completely dries out the skin. So pack makeup wipes and a great moisturiser – I quite like Nuit Polaire, although a night cream, it’s very moisturising without being heavy, and really sinks into the skin – great for a long haul flight.

For the most part of any holiday I go on, I rarely wear much makeup, however, I do have a few beauty essentials I need to let you all in on, so keep reading!

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Now I always over pack, no matter where I am going – is this just me?

An absolute essential for me is sun protection. Many people think that black people don’t need sun protection but everyone should protect themselves against UV rays, which is why I love Ultrasun.

Ultrasun have a massive range of sun protection – which I get for the face as well as the body. The formulas are not too heavy either, which is great as no one wants to feel like a grease ball in the sun.

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Next up is a CC Cream. Before I went to Thailand I was on a mission to achieve golden shimmery sun kissed skin. It didn’t really work out as planned but on my hunt, I did manage to bag The Body Shop’s new Instaglow CC cream.

I’m surprised at how much I actually loved using this as I’ve never believed in CC creams. However, I found it worked well to give me a more even skin tone, while looking quite natural, perfect for when you plan on lounging around the pool, but don’t want to go completely commando on the face.

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In the evening, I mixed the the CC cream with a dot of my usual foundation for fuller coverage, and set with my Bare Minerals powder.

When on holiday a highlight needed to accentuate your sun kissed glow! And it’s easily achieved with the perfect products and the right brush.

I hadn’t found the perfect highlight, before going to Thailand so I used a bunch of products to give me a nice shimmery glow anyway, which became my go to beauty finish.

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Fan brush and Makeup Bag gifted by Spectrum Brushes

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Just look at that highlight! I used a combination of Lush’s Feeling Younger Golden Highlight on my cheekbones, followed by Bobbi Browns golden shimmery eyeshadows.

My next beauty essential has to be a brow pencil. I was talking to one of my blogger compadres, Shannon Kara, and we both agreed that while foundation isn’t a must on holiday, having well-groomed fleeky eyebrows and a nice lip colour is an absolute must. While I was using my MAC eyebrow pencil, during my next getaway I will definitely be packing my magical Benefit brow productshave you read my review?

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I normally tidy up my eyebrows with my foundation, instead of concealer as it makes for less packing and I hate the halo effect round eyebrows.

As I previously said, I like to keep my makeup to minimum and being away in a hot country is the perfect opportunity to show you skin some TLC, so cleansing and moisturising products are much needed essentials. I always pack a charcoal face scrub by Garnier, as the fine exfoliants really get every inch of dirt off my face. I then moisturise my face with a light moisturiser – Drops of Youth from The Body Shop so my skin has a clean base for any products to go on if I choose to put on any makeup.

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When on holiday there’s no doubt you’ll probably go out on the town at least once, which is why a nice lippie and an eye shadow palette suitable for every occasion should be part of your beauty essentials. Keep things simple as no one has time to sweat off their whole face  – it’s really not a good look, but make it effective. I love packing my Ruby Woo as it screams sophistication and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a red lip?

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So there you have it – my holiday essentials. Simple yet effective. What are you beauty essentials? Leave a comment and let me know x

Don’t forget to check my girl – Lani Rae’s collab post all about fashion essentials too!

Sunday Brunching: Côte Brasserie

This weekend my sister celebrated her 16th birthday (I’m actually getting old 😖 😫). After a busy week for both of us – with her going to her leavers prom and me getting wasted on Friday after a LONG week at work, we decided to be ladies who brunch.

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I’ve always headed to Battersea Rise when I’m on the lookout for cool eateries, no matter if i’m feeling in the mood for American style pancakes, a tasty fry up or want to try something new, I know it’s a foodies safe – haven.

This time we decided on brunch at Côte Brasserie, a cute understated restaurant situated on the corner of Webbs Road.

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Inspired by the brasseries of Paris, Côte Brasserie offers all-day dining, serving authentic French classics as well as British faves made from great quality and fresh ingredients.

With an empty stomach and breakfast on our minds, we arrived just before last orders were taken – 1pm on weekends and 12pm on weekdays.

The interior was very minimalistic and sophisticated, complemented by rich burgundy and grey hues for a light yet moody atmosphere, perfect if you want to escape the outside world for a few hours, and if you’ve got a tender headache and need a calm atmosphere to co-operate lol.

The staff were all very friendly and accommodating, so we got the drinks in…tea! Am I the only one to think that tea always tastes better in a tea pot? I can just never get it right at home.

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The breakfast menu had quite a small selection but covered all the bases, but after scanning the menu I ended up getting an Full English Breakfast – very adventurous, I know – but after such a busy weekend I just needed ALL the food!

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What I loved is that I got to pick what type of eggs I wanted, normally cafes give you the choice between fried and scrambled, but this time I went for poached…ooh lala! My order also came with the option to choose what bread I wanted to be toasted.

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My sister ended up going for the more brunchy and picturesque option of Eggs Royale -which looked amazing. After about a 20 minute wait, our food was served.

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The portions were just right, but, of course we couldn’t go to a brasserie without trying something even remotely french, so we ordered a pain au chocolate and a croissant which were served warm, making them melt in the mouth. No one likes a hard pastry.

Côte Brasserie was the ideal choice for Sunday brunch, especially if you don’t feel like queuing up for The Breakfast Club, which is a more popular choice a few doors away but had a waiting time of 2 hours 😐.

The staff’s attention to detail and overall customer care was 💯 , and the food was not only delicious but also very affordable with our bill coming in at under £30, they also offer a gluten free menu, great if you want to brunch with friends who have different eating requirements.

For me this restaurant was definitely one of the best I’ve been to for breakfast/brunch and an overall great experience, so I would rate it a solid 9/10!

Looking for somewhere to brunch? Try Côte Brasserie.

N.B. – To avoid disappointment, I would advise to book a table in advance as it got quite busy, while we were eating.

See you on my next post x

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Thailand Adventures: 5 things you need to do in Phuket

For 10 beautiful days, I was living a life of luxury in Phuket, Thailand ‘The Land of Smiles’ and I loved every minute of it. The weather, the people, the culture and of course the food (ugghhh guys you need to try Tom Yum Goong) gave me a life refresh I was in dire need for.

If you’re planning or have already planned your summer getaway and Phuket is on your brain you won’t regret it.

Phuket is a popular destination in Thailand and there really is so much to do, perfect for every type of personality, so I thought I’d fill you in on 5 things you NEED to do during your time there.

A Day Tour
After arriving at your hotel, it can be a bit daunting to actually go out and explore, as you have no idea where to go. A day tour can be the perfect remedy to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and see the real Thailand, not just the atmosphere in your hotel. Depending on who you book with, they’ll show you landmarks, beaches, and places to shop, and should stop off at certain points for you to enjoy and explore for yourself. On my day tour, the most memorable locations were a view point where could see the coast and visiting the beautiful temples in Chalong.

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Elephant Trek
Going on an Elephant trekking experience is a MUST! It truly was a life changing experience, I can’t really explain my own feelings as the whole day was unbelievable, but it was amazing to be able to touch, feed and ride such a majestic creature. SIDENOTE: Find a reputable company that properly cares for its animals.

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Thai Massage
You cannot go to Thailand and not get a massage – there’s a massage parlour on EVERY road! However, if you want to spoil yourself, there are more romantic massage experiences where you can go on another island and spend the day. Whether you opt for an actual Thai massage or not is up to you. It’s a relaxing experience that’s really nice to do with your other half or your bestie, and is a treat that nicely ends your thai holiday with a bit of pampering and relaxation.

Island Tour
Thailand is surrounded by picturesque islands. Take a speedboat tour to Phi Phi or James Bond Island and go snorkelling – it’s absolutely amazing how many fish surround you, an underwater camera won’t do it justice! Picking a good all round tour is vital though, so try and find one that stops off at different islands along the way, giving you plenty of snorkelling opportunities and gives you a chance to explore the little islands, to get the perfect pic or just lay on the beach, until it’s time to go to the next one.

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Street Food
Do I really need to say any more. The local food is tastes amazing and is super cheap.  Opposite our hotel we had scoped a family run open ‘restaurant’ (it wasn’t really a restaurant) and the food was delicious, I fell in love with their Tom Yum Goong soup which is meant to be a Thai favourite. If you love seafood you won’t be at a loss either, as many places have fresh sea food that’s delivered every day, so you can pick what seafood you want before you sit down and they cook whatever you choose. Phuket also has a great nightlife and they definitely know how to party, so if you like to let loose on holiday and have a little drink, Thai’s pull no punches when it comes to alcohol and they are known for a strong mojito – does it get any better?!

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My time in Phuket was a dream (I’ll be sharing more about what I got up to in my travel series) and there’s so much more to do than my list of 5, but I was so glad I did them. Of course there’s more options like hiring a motorcycle (if you decide to brave the Thai roads I applaud you) or visiting a tiger sanctuary, and just taking time out to visit Patong beach.

Time flies when you’re having fun, so if you can, plan a few excursions before you arrive in as it’s definitely worthwhile, and you may also find cheaper deals which is always a great thing!

Have you visited Thailand, what was your favourite thing to do?

 

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10 Things You Should Do This Spring

Hi beautiful people!

Spring is in the air and I’m loving it –  I’m sure I’m not the only one either! The sun has finally come out of hiding – I really hope I haven’t jinxed the weather, the days are becoming longer, flowers are in bloom and I seriously feel like I can live a life after work, because there’s still daylight until about 7:30pm lol … the simple things ey!

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So in celebration of this absolutely lush season, I thought I would share 10 things you can do to make the most of the season.

  1. Spring clean – This may be a bit cliche, but a good ole spring clean can clear you space and therefore clear your mind. It doesn’t just have to be limited to your living space either, it could be your wardrobe or even people around you.
  2. Pick up a new book – I haven’t read a juicy page turner in ages, but when the seasons change I love picking up a new book, to sit in the park or my garden with. It’s also nice to escape from the real world every once in a while too! One of my favourite authors is Chimamanda Adiche – Have you heard of her?
  3. Plan a day trip – The sun’s out so do something/ go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. I really want to take a trip down to Brighton, can you believe I’ve never been – sacrilege!
  4. Switch up your style – This season is all about new beginnings, so it’s the most ideal time to switch up your style and introduce pieces into your closet that you wouldn’t normally – be adventurous!
  5. Spend a day with people you care about – Put your phones down and step away from wifi. Give the people you love your undivided attention – you won’t regret it!
  6. Do something nice for a stranger – Sometimes it’s nice, just to be nice… so why don’t you pay for the persons Starbucks in the line next to you, or simply give a compliment to a stranger.
  7. Organise brunch with your close friends – It’s so easy to lose contact with friends, especially once you start working or situations change, so spring is a great time to plan a much needed catch up over brunch…remember once friends, always friends and when there’s food involved there’s really nothing to be afraid of
  8. Picnic – Organise a picnic, choose a good park with a decent public toilet nearby and spend the whole day there, maybe get lost in a book (see no.2) My all time favourite parks are Battersea and Wimbledon, what are yours?
  9. Treat yourself or a friend to a present...just because – everyone like a lil surprise so if you see something your bestie will appreciate, pick it up for them, it doesn’t need to be expensive either.
  10. Make it a season to remember! – No matter what you do, fill the spring season with memories to last forever! I would love to do a blogging challenge of blogging everyday of the season, what do you think?

Will you be doing any of these things across the season? Do you have any suggestions for me? Hope this gave you some inspo x

 

Coffee Chronicles: Monmouth Coffee

Hey boo thangs! How’re you all doing? Easter weekend has flown by and now I’m sadly back at work *weeps into tissue*

Normally over Easter I just chill at home and over indulge, but this year I thought I’d take advantage of my time off work to go out and explore London… and as with any trip out, mine always involves – COFFEE!!!

I am a coffee and tea addict. There, I said it lol. I have a cupboard in my kitchen dedicated to all types of teas; chocolate, lemon, liquorice, chai… anything you could think of, and while I do love sipping a nice warm brew in the comfort of my own home, I do love to treat myself to a cheeky Costa or Starbucks, however, sometimes a girl needs a little change, which is why I made my way to Monmouth Coffee – the best coffee in town…or close enough!

My boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to convent garden in search of what has been described as one of the best coffee spots in London (rated 4.5 on Trip Advisor and ranked 11  out of 756 in London)

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As a Londoner, it’s actually ridiculous that I’ve only been to Convent Garden a handful of times,especially as it’s so beautiful and filled with a good mixture of high street and high end shops…

After a peruse around the shops we made our way to Monmouth Coffee which is about a 5 minute walk from Convent Garden square.

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We spotted it instantly as there was a decent line going outside which is definitely a reflection of how good the coffee is.  After a short wait to get a seat, it felt like we escaped the hustle and bustle of London, and entered a little safe haven. The atmosphere was really relaxed inside, we shared a booth with two other ladies and the staff were so friendly.

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I didn’t really know what to order, as they had a minimalistic menu, normally if I go to Starbucks, I order a White Chocolate Mocha or a warming Chai Latte, but it was time to branch out (within reason) so, I opted for a Cafe Au Lait – a very milky option for those that love a creamy blend, and a Latte – for those that love the full power of coffee as well as a velvety creamy taste.

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Talking to the barista about my preferred taste in coffee she recommended these two, and ‘bae’ got a Flat White.

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I am in no way a coffee connoisseur but Monmouth Coffee tastes amazing and it’s super affordable pitstop. It’s really smooth and each drink tastes different, showing how perfectly blended they are. The distinct taste of each coffee is testament to how they source their coffee too, while they also sell coffee (whole and ground) using organic Jersey whole milk from Jeff Bowles in Somerset along with organic whole cane sugar from Assukkar, Costa Rica.

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My boyfriend always makes fun of me and calls me a ‘Starbucks wanker’ but even he appreciated how beautifully blended this coffee was, so, I will definitely recommend this place to all you coffee lovers and re-visit as soon possible.

What coffee shops in and around London do you think I should visit next? x

 

Nail it with Rosie Fortescue!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I have an endless love affair with nail polishes (owning a few 200!), and this week I was fortunate enough to try out some cool nail products by Rosie Fortescue!

For those of you who don’t know who Rosie Fortescue is, she stars in reality series; Made in Chelsea – a major guilty pleasure of mine, and has had some of the most spectacular on screen dramas – my most favourite scene being when Rosie was exposed for having an affair with her best friends boyfriend -ABSOLUTE DRAMA!

Branching off of the MIC franchise, Rose has released a her own jewellery line and most recently; NAILED LONDON – her nail polish brand, which I was pleasantly surprised about and just needed to try!

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Nailed London is described as a fashion forward brand with a patented, revolutionary 3-step system, developed to closely match the look, feel, wear and gloss of a professional gel polish that provides superior longevity. This is an effect I love in nail polish as I adore super glossy or absolute matte finishes – I think it juts looks really chic, so I was intrigued to find out if it really played up to its promises.

The Nailed collection is also said to be inspired by catwalk looks with is not surprising as Rosie is an avid blogger and has been spotted at many a London Fashion Week.

Looking at her collection I picked out her Base Coat, Top Coat and a beautiful bubblegum/ Barbie pink – Booty Call because who doesn’t like one of those, ey! – along with a few other colours

When I first saw the colour of Booty Call I was in love, I’ve got a thing about pink, which is quite weird as it’s not my favourite colour, but I immediately prepped my nails (filed and buffed)

As I explained before in my previous nail post – I use Mavala’s nail strengthener and a 2 part fibre which helps protect your nail. I ditched the two part fibre and went in with the Nailed Base Coat – which was really easy to apply and dried quite quickly.

Next, my favourite bit… applying the colour! I went in with a thin first coat, and I found the varnish really smooth and easy to apply. The nail brush is tapered which allows it to go as close as possible to the cuticle without getting nail varnish everywhere. I followed  with a second coat and then the Top Coat, which was noticeably more shiny, although when it dried it was just normal.

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The colour and finish was beautiful – what do you think?, however, I found that the overall finish wasn’t gel-like at all, which was disappointing. On the plus side the varnish dried quite quickly, making it easier for me to get on with the rest of my day (as I was cheeky and did my nails at my desk at work)

After a couple days of wear I did notice a few chips here and there (but I do find my nails chip very easily), which you would definitely not get with shellac or professionally done gel nails, and the fact that the appearance of a gel finish was next to none, made the experience disappointing.

However, if you are looking for a new nail brand and are pulled in by one of her 28 shades, which is a quite vast range, I would definitely go for it, as I feel the colour selection is great and the names are cool and quirky.

What do you think, have you tried Rosie Fortescue’s NAILED LONDON range yet? Will you be? Let me know, I love interacting with you x 

 

Exploring Borough Market

I’ve lived in London all my life and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised how much I take my city for granted, which is why I made exploring London one of my not so new New Year resolutions.

At the beginning of the year, my boyfriend and I made a pact not to travel anywhere abroad (Although, I really don’t know how long this will last though, as we’ve both been roaming the travel websites lol) As a result, I decided it would be a good time to explore London and visit places that I’ve heard people always talk about, and experience these places for myself.

As a self proclaimed foodie, there was only one stop that I had in mind!

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I can’t believe I’ve never been!

I’ve heard people talk about Borough Market many times before, and I’ve heard nothing but good things… especially about the food, so I thought it was about time I got my arse down there.

I’m a major fan of Shoreditch, so I began my day there. My first stop  obviously involved coffee, and as Shoreditch has a lot to offer in this area, I was really spoilt for choice. I ended up having brekkie in a little gem called All Press, which was just opposite Barbour & Parlour – another great eatery if you know the area.

After a few snaps around BoxPark and a full belly, I got myself on a bus and soon found… or rather smelled Borough Market!

It was all hustle and bustle despite it only being a little past 12, but I was ready.

There was so much happening at once, and while I’m not a fan of crowds, which is one of the main reasons I hate going into London, there was so much happening, so many smells to take in and people around that just wanted to get involved.

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When I first got there, I didn’t know where to go, I ended up going with the crowd and literally walked from one end to the other, without looking at anything!

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After deciding on how to tackle the market, I went in again, looking at everything, tasting and trying different foods and of course taking pics. The colours were amazing, and there were foods from all over the world being offered.

The only thing I could compare it to was the market in Barcelona – La Ramblas… however I found it had less variety.

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Walking through was so strange. The market is quite tourist driven, and people from all over the world had come to taste foods that originate from their countries lol… I guess its all about the experience, ay.

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Borough Market offered, everything from food, delicacies, flowers, plants, haircuts and pampering, just EVERYTHING!

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I could have eaten everything! Just look how good the food looked.

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This Tomato and Pesto Focaccia was delicious, cannot go wrong with a bit of pesto!

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I loved that you could see the stall owners prepare the foods right in front of you – mouthwatering!

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Im not a big cook, but I could imagine how tasty this fish would have been… I’m a sucker for any type of prawn dishes.

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After about 2 hours of roaming and tasting, I left with some Italian goodies, and some good Gouda cheese!

Borough Market did not disappoint, but I do feel I need to go again, as I have a sneaky feeling I missed a few things.

I hate that it’s taken me so long, but I highly recommend visiting the market if you love food, plus, because it’s near a lot of other places like BoxPark and Spitafields market, it can make a good day out in Central London.

I think the next thing on my list is doing a London Food/ Coffee tour!

Have any of you guys visited Borough Market, if so did you love or loathe it? Also, do you have any recommendations on where I should visit next? X

 

Date Night Destinations

My boyfriend and I have been together a couple months shy of 3 years and every couple of weeks we make it a point to go out and spend some quality time together – how else are you meant to keep the fire alive?!

We love to explore London and experience new things together, so we’re always on the lookout for great places to go on dates. As we’ve got quite different personalities, we never really run out of things to do, which is why I thought I’d share my list of favourite places in London to go on a date night.

Electric Cinema

I am a movie fanatic. I just love a good movie. Sadly though, my boyfriend is not as into movies as I am. When we first started dating a good few number of our dates were to my local cinema – poor him. To kind of negotiate and make going to the cinema a tad bit more enjoyable for him, I found out about the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch – one of my favourite places in London! It’s a little gem buried inside a beauty parlour slash cafe slash bar and it’s amazing. It’s a little pricier than the normal Odeon, but there’s around 30 people per viewing. so if you’re a movie goer like me, you don’t have to worry about annoying people talking throughout the movie. You can order food and drinks to your chair. And when ordering your ticket you can either order a lounge/bed for you and your partner to share or individual comfy chairs complete with a lovely blanket, perfect for snuggling.

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Bowling

Staying on course for conventional dates, Brooklyn Bowl is for those who love bowling, but this has a twist. This is bowling for grownups, you can get alcohol, and a greasy cheeseburger, while listening to dope music and the occasional live concert- yes concert lol. This place is pricey, so its worth checking who will be performing there to make your trip worthwhile, but it is totally cool. I’m not a fan of bowling as my boyfriend always whoops my ass, but it’s good fun once in a while.

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Burger and Lobster

Me and my boyfriend are die hard foodies. We enjoy eating together… you know what they say – food is a way to a man’s heart – even when you’re not cooking it lol. If you’re looking for a chilled evening out, this is the place to go. Forget an easy Byron burger and trade it in for Lobster and fries. This place is lovely and affordable, and if you end up going to the one in Soho, you can also take a stroll around China Town.

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Saatchi Gallery

My boyfriend is an art type (Check out his custom leather jackets if you like) . He’s always dragging me to exhibitions and art galleries and to be totally truthful I’m just not  that into them (I absolutely hate the Tate Modern) but the Saatchi Gallery has become one of my favourites as it’s not pretentious. They always have really modern art pieces, that actually make sense. If you haven’t taken a trip, I would recommend you do so, plus, you can explore Chelsea after and maybe catch a drink at a local bar…ooh la la.

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Other than exploring different places in and around London, a Netflix & Chill session, or an impromptu concert is always on the cards!

Where do you like going on Date Night? x