Eleanor Graceful

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Travel | Our Trip To Reading


A little while ago, Jordan and I toyed with the idea of getting Royal Ascot tickets as a bit of a late birthday treat for me (and an early birthday treat for him) and spending a few days down south. Just as we were about to press confirm on the website, I got an email off Accor hotels offering us a complimentary stay in their Reading hotel which had just been refurbished.

Without a hesitation, I said we would love to stay and mentioned that we were going to Royal Ascot and asked whether we could come on those dates. They said that would be fine and a lot of other people would be doing the same.  I'm not saying Reading is Manhattan or Paris, but it did exceed my expectations. If you are heading to Ascot or anywhere else down south for that matter I would recommend it as an alternative to staying in London as it is much cheaper, and less than 30 minutes on the train.

I didn't really know much about Reading, apart from they have a festival every August bank holiday, and I was pleasantly surprised. We drove down on the Thursday afternoon and it took us roughly about 3 hours to get there (with a snack stop in the middle). The hotel was easy to find, and they have a deal with the local NCP so you can park for 24 hours for £10.

Once we had parked up, we wandered over to the Ibis Central, which was on one of the main roads (opposite a Revs De Cuba and next door to a Nandos, if you need convincing...) The decor inside the hotel was very modern, and we were checked in by one of the staff members using an iPad. They had lemon water in reception, but also a bar and restaurant - they also had a breakfast area on the 1st floor, but we didn't take advantage of this.

The lift could only be accessed with your room key card, which made us feel very secure. When we got up to the room, I was impressed with how big and bright it was. We had a king sized bed, a view of Reading and an en-suite with a huge shower.

We dropped our bags off and went to explore the city, which was on our doorstep. We walked into the main shopping area, which had all of the names you would expect, and through the shopping centre. I remembered seeing on the map that there was an area with loads of restaurants, so I made it our mission to find somewhere for dinner.

Once we had come through the shopping centre, there was a river with restaurants on either side of it and a pop-up beach bar that had been put up for summer. I was really overwhelmed with the amount of choice we had and enjoyed looking at some of the menus for places that we don't have in Manchester.

We decided to go back to the beach bar a little bit later on after we had showered and got changed, and we made our way back to the hotel (via Tesco for G&T's obvs...)

After we had recouped a bit, we wandered back over to the beach bar, where we had frozen cocktails and beer and sat in deck chairs on the sand whilst people played table tennis. Although it was the UK, the weather was about 26 degrees, and it really did feel like we were abroad.

Once we were suitably tipsy, we decided to eat at The Real Greek, as the menu caught our eye. The dishes were served on a plate holder that reminded me of what you get when you went to afternoon tea. I adore Greek food, and we were spoilt for choice. We ordered a bottle of red to compliment the meat dishes and ordered an assortment of hot and cold dishes - all of which were amazing.

I've never been to Greece, so I can't say whether the food compares to authentic Greek cuisine, but it tasted amazing, and I already can't wait to go back next time I'm down south.

When the meal was over, we were absolutely stuffed but decided to head to Revs De Cuba for one drink as it was opposite our hotel. I've been to a couple of different Revs in my time, but this one was by far my favourite. The overall vibe of the place was so chilled and relaxed, and everyone was just having a really good time.

The next day we woke up quite early to go for breakfast at a place called The Shed Cafe which was incredibly cute and had the most amazing fresh coffee smell. I went for crumpets and jam, and Jordan had a bacon and egg baguette. For the price, I would definitely recommend this place if you find yourself in Reading, plus the staff were lovely.

After a quick walk around the town to wake ourselves up, we went back to the hotel to start getting ready for Ascot. Even before we got back to our room, we saw people dressed for the races, already starting to drink before 10am - bearing in mind the first race was at 2pm....

Once we were ready, we took a couple of drinks and headed to the train station, which was less than a 5-minute walk away. We were slightly early for our train, so decided to make the most of the sunshine and have a drink on the platform, with a bunch of rowdy Southerners. I was impressed with how quick the train was to Ascot, and how little we had to walk to get there.

Overall I really enjoyed my time in Reading, as it wasn't as overwhelming as London can sometimes be, but had everything you needed a short walk away. I would highly recommend the Ibis because of the great location and really lovely facilities - rooms start from around £60 a night.

It always amazes me when this little old space on the internet allows me to do new and exciting things, and visit new places - thank you for all your support.

xx

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Thank you to Accor Hotels. All views are my own. 
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Monday, 17 July 2017

Weekly Love #28


I've had a much more chilled week this week, which is exactly what I needed - sometimes I feel as though my head and my heart tell me two different things when it comes to slowing down, but a week of chilling was definitely what I needed.


1. Chester Races

On Monday, I booked to go to Chester Races with a few friends at the end of the month. I've been to Chester Races every year since 2013, and I really didn't want this year to go by without getting the change to get all dressed up with my friends. We've had the date in our diaries for ages, so it was good to finally get the tickets booked and have something to look forward to!


2. Twinings Coconut & Mango Green Tea

I was recently sent these tea bags to try as they are new from Twinings, but if I'm honest, I forgot about them in the cupboard - that was, until the other day where I wanted something different than my regular peppermint tea. I was a bit dubious at first because coconut is a bit like marmite for me, but I thought these were so delicious. They taste basically like a pina colada but are good for you! Winner winner.


3. Wimbledon

I'm not a girl that is massively into sports, but Wimbledon is something I find myself watching every year, and this tournament was no different. I managed to catch most of the quarter and semi-final matches, as well as the men's final, which is always one of my favourites to watch. I definitely want to try and go next year, because I can imagine the atmosphere is amazing!


4. Glamour

After going to the British Style Collective last week and listening to talks from Alessandra Steinherr (the beauty editor of Glamour) I went and bought the latest issue. Although I'm a complete digital junkie, I do love reading and old school magazine from time to time, and Glamour will always be one of my favourites.


5. Iced Coffee

I've been working from home a lot this week, but sometimes I find it quite hard to be motivated, especially in the morning. I'm not usually a coffee drinker, but I do love iced coffee because I find it much more refreshing. I've found myself drinking a couple of these over the week, and I love the fact that we have a coffee machine and I can make them at home!


6. Uploading Photos

This is quite a lame one, but this week, I have cleared a lot of photos off my phone and uploaded them to Facebook. I hadn't updated my 2017 album since the start of April, so it was great to look back on the last three months and see all of the memories I have made and relive them all whilst freeing up space on my phone (always a good thing!)


7. Vegetarian Meals

I'm someone who enjoys food a lot - I think I've made that clear on many occasions - but recently, I have been trying to eat much less meat. At the moment, I only really eat meat when I go out, or to someone's house for dinner, and this week I have managed to eat only vegetarian during the week, which I'm really proud about. I don't think I will ever be able to take the plunge and become full on vegetarian, but every little helps. Also, if anyone has any good vegetarian recipes, please send them my way.


8. Laura Bradshaw

I am always up for discovering new blogs and YouTubers, but I also really enjoying re-discovering people who I used to watch. This week, I started watching one of my old favourites, Laura Bradshaw (originally Tiny Twisst) again and fell in love with her channel. Her content is much more grown up than before as she has recently got married and bought a new house with her husband, and I find her really relatable and sweet. Definitely, have a read of her blog!


9. Foodies Festival

On Saturday I was invited to go to the Foodies Festival at Tatton Park. I've been to this food festival a few times now, but only to the Tatton park one once so I was intrigued to go back. The festival itself is all outdoors and definitely bigger than I remember! I've got a full review coming next week, so keep a look out for that to hear everything that we got up to!


10. Cousin Visit

On Sunday my cousin, Kate, rang me to ask if she could come and see our house, as she hasn't since we bought it. She came for about an hour and we got to have a really lovely catch up, which we haven't been able to do for a long time so it really made my weekend to see her.

xx

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This post contains PR samples. All views are my own. 
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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Soave Wine Event


Last week I was invited to attend the Soave Wine event at Bakerie in Manchester's Northern Quarter. I'd only been to the bar once before for another wine tasting (where they had a wine vending machine and it was really really cool... but I digress...) but it is known for its great wine selection and bread and meat boards - what else could you ask for?

It was only about this time last year that I started to drink wine, and I'm mostly a red girl, although I do prefer a white wine in summer because it is much more refreshing.

The Soave region is within the Venetian hillsides and produces some of the best white wine in the world. Italy is well known for its wine production, and I felt very lucky to be able to try them in such a relaxed environment.

I went with my friend Liz (who write the blog Dirty Thirty Crisis) and were met by Sarah Abbott, a Master of Wine and an ambassador for Soave wines in the UK - very cool title! She showed us to the table and talked us briefly through the 20 wines that were on offer. They started off with the cheaper ones and moved up in price and availability the higher the number. 

We got to about wine number 4 before platters of food came out (probably a good a thing!) which were a dream come true - a mixture of breads, cured meat and chutneys; everything that I'm a massive fan of (although I did feel bad eating bread in front of Liz who is gluten free...) 

We made some friends over the food, and carried on with them and got to about wine number 10 (bearing in mind we were having about half glasses each time, we thought it was about time to slow down...) when Sarah did a speech thanking us all for coming and mentioning that we could all take our favourite wine home with us. 

Because we didn't want to look like alcoholics with bottles of wine walking down the street, Liz and I thought it would be a good idea to finish off our favourite wines (which evidently were the two cheapest!) at the bar. A man from the Cheshire Wine Society came over to join us and told us about all of his favourite vineyards, which was actually really interesting.

This event definitely made me want to go to more events like this and made me realise that there is so much more to wine than you first think and the £5 bottle you used to live on at university, probably is the reason you think you don't like it. My advice - do your research and try as much wine as possible! 

If anyone knows of any other events like this, please let me know in the comments xx

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Truth About Blogging Awards


Blogging awards aren't around to make us feel in competition with each other, or to stroke the ego of some particularly 'big' names, but to give recognition to those who are so passionate about what they do and appreciation of how much effort that goes into running a blog.

The great thing about blogging is that it wasn't even taken seriously a few years ago. People thought we were all just winging it with our writing, and maybe there is some truth in that - but blogging has taught the world that the every-day girl would rather read the review of someone similar to her, rather than listen to a celebrity bang on on social media about a product they clearly have never used in their life.

The difference between a blogger endorsement and a celebrity endorsement, in my eyes, is that 9 times out of 10, the blogger has gone out and purchased the product themselves in order to test it for their audience.

Yes, some bloggers are lucky enough to be gifted products - but those relationships are usually formed after an initial trial period, or until the brand catches wind (whether that be through social media, a YouTube video or coming across one of their blog posts) of what the individual is doing, and in turn wants to use the voice of that particular 'influencer' to spread the news of what they are selling to an audience.

The brand is then putting themselves in the public eye - which can be quite dangerous if that particular influencer doesn't like the product - because they have no say in what they can produce on your blog.

My point is, there is a lot of authenticity in what a blogger says and this should be recognised in the industries we work within: that's why it is so positive that blogging awards have come about because of the boom in the voice of the 'normal' girl.

I'll be the first to admit that blogging isn't easy. Yes there are some posts that come naturally and you can write them within a couple of hours; but for others... days, weeks and sometimes even months goes into creating content, taking photography, writing, proofing, editing, scheduling, tweeting, Facebooking, instagramming - it's no walk in the park.

Blogging awards are becoming bigger and bigger every year, and not only do they celebrate the full-time bloggers out there but also the smaller influencers who are just as passionate about their corner of the internet. I've followed some of the largest names in the blogging world and seen them win incredible awards, but even some of the lesser known bloggers that I follow have had the recognition they deserve.

Everyone knows how much I love writing - I talk about it enough - but honestly, this blog has given me so many opportunities and introduced me to some of my closest friends and inspirational people and I am beyond thankful for every unbelievable moment that I have had, and the continued support I get from my readers.

I would love to be able to write on this blog every single day; to share content that I think is relatable to my audience, posts that I have put so much time and effort into creating and ones that I will look back on and be proud - but at the moment, life is so completely crazy that I haven't found the time to do so yet - but it will always be my goal.

My blog is so important to me. It's a place I can share my thoughts; a place I can use to get my head straight, and a place I know holds such great prospects for me.

And this is why I feel like it is such a big honour to be nominated for Best Lifestyle Blogger in the Northern Blog Awards. It would mean so much for me to win it, but to even be nominated is such an achievement and I am so thankful: I am up against some great bloggers, personal friends and ones I have admired for years.

Whatever the outcome on the 16th September, I will always love coming back here week after week and I hope you do too.

You can vote for my blog here xx
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