Eleanor Graceful

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Weekly Love #12


So no biggie but its only APRIL THIS WEEKEND - not that I'm panicking or anything...

Last week was so hectic and manic and it feels like a million years ago that I was sat in our gorgeous hotel in Bruges (blog post coming in the future!) writing my last weekly love post after stuffing my face with a 3-course breakfast.

But hey, that's life, and I'm enjoying the ride!

1. Becoming A Homeowner!

I thought I had to start with this one seen as it was the biggest thing to happen in my life yet! But yes, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! I flew back from Berlin a day early in order to pick the keys up with my boyfriend, and it's lucky I did as our solicitor needed me to sign a form before we could do anything that day. There were a lot of phone calls and emails back and forth and as soon as I landed I was inundated with bad news and ways to fix it - but it all worked out and we picked our keys up in the afternoon. It was a very surreal feeling opening the door to our first home. We've had our family over to have a look and help us clean and move boxes, and my friend Sophie visited on Saturday. There is so much to do before we can live there (as we are yet to work the boiler...) but I'm so excited that it's finally ours!



2. Bruges

I will be doing a full blog post on our time in Bruges and everything we got up to, but I wanted to mention it here because it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. As a self-confessed chocoholic as well, it was amazing to go to the home of the best chocolate in the world - their words not mine - but it was amazing! We bought back some truffles (the legal kind) but they didn't make it past the train home.... oops!



3. Berlin

I've heard SO many amazing things about this city so I was really excited to visit. Me and my travel buddy Africa, flew out early Wednesday morning. We arrived to glorious sunshine and made our way to the hotel which was in the Mitte district. We quickly changed and headed back out to explore. Again, I'll be doing a full blog post on what we got up to. Although we fit a lot in whilst we were there, I felt as though I could have spent at least another full day discovering more of the city - definitely a reason to book a trip back!



4. Free Walking Tours

Whilst I was away, I managed to fit in a walking tour in both Bruges and Berlin. The first time I'd ever done one of these was in Dublin, back in 2015. They're branded as 'free', but you've got to be a bit of a bad person if you don't give them anything at the end. Both were so interesting and really informative, and it helped that they were both in English (sorry for the arrogant British-ness). I would highly recommend it over an open top bus tour, and you pay however much you think it's worth - which I won't lie, can be quite awkward when you're the last!


5. Warmer Weather

Cliché, I know, but this weekend has just made me so excited for summer and wanting to make plans - not that I have any money now! On Saturday we took a break from unpacking and went to meet my friend Sophie and her gorgeous dog, Ferryn, in the park opposite the house and it was such a lovely couple of hours just catching up and basking in the sunshine. And I didn't burn - result!



6. Proove Pizza 

On Saturday evening after moving everything about, painting and putting together a table, we realised we 1) had no food in and 2) had no energy to make food. I'd remembered that a new pizza place had opened a few minutes down the road so we took a trip there. We shared some bruschetta and I had an American. The pizza was done in a woodfire oven but so was doughy and delicious and I can't wait to go back. If you're ever in the area, definitely check them out. Website here



xx

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Monday, 20 March 2017

Weekly Love #11



1. Spring

This is the first week it's actually felt as though winter is buggering off, my car said it was 16 degrees, and I've noticed the blossom coming out on the trees; The warmer weather is definitely on its way! Another thing that is really getting me through to the weekends is the lighter nights, that will only continue to get lighter when the clocks go forward next weekend. Hurray!



2. Artisan

On Monday evening, me and one of my fave girls, Hannah (from Hannah gets hench) went for dinner at Artisan in Manchester. I won't say too much about the food as I want to do a full review in the next couple of weeks, but it was a really lovely start to the week. Sometimes when blogging events are on a Monday evening, I always think that I really can't be bothered going all the way to Manchester; but I think when its something more low key, like a dinner, then I'm happy to make the effort! Plus the food was 40% off as well so who could blame us?



3. New Coat

Although I've been on a spending ban for most of this year, I've been after a leopard print coat for agessss. I was having a cheeky browse last week when I saw that this Topshop one had gone down to £30 in the sale, from £85, plus I had a £10 voucher so it worked out to be a relatively cheap purchase. I've only worn it once so far but I like the fact that it makes every outfit look a little bit more sassy! Plus its quite a light coat which means I can wear it through Spring but theres also enough room to have a cardigan underneath if necessary.



4. Work Party

On Friday evening we had our 5th anniversary party at work with about 30 guests. Although 5 years doesn't seem like a lot, it was really interesting to hear how far the company has come and their plans for the future. We were treated to a meal at Earle in Hale where I had halloumi to start, monkfish risotto (which was incredible) for main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert, which I basically just ordered for everyone on the table because lol, prosecco happened and I have the world's biggest sweet tooth.


5. Brussels

On Saturday afternoon, my boyfriend and I hopped on the train to London to get the Eurostar to Belgium! We spend the first night in Brussels as we didn't arrive until 7pm and had the morning there as well. The Eurostar turned out to be a great decision because you can have two cases and don't have to dispense all of your liquids into tiny bottles! I've been to Brussels once before a few years ago, but forget what a beautiful city it is. The Grand Square at night was gorgeous and being a lover of chocolate and fruity beers, I felt right at home!



6. Bruges

As I'm writing this, it's Monday morning and I'm currently in Bruges (just like the film!) We arrived yesterday afternoon and came straight to the hotel. We spent most of yesterday wandering around, going to the beer museum and sampling different beers and eating chocolate. Bruges is such a different city from Brussels and I'm absolutely in love with it. It's also much cheaper than the capital as well, if you were looking for another reason to visit and the food is amazing. It reminds me a lot of Amsterdam but much more calm and not as flat! I'm so excited to explore more today.



xx

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

It's Grim Up North?


Or so the saying goes...

I am a northern girl through and through, which is mainly backed up by my inability to go more than two hours without a cup of tea, and a yearning to have cake at every opportunity.

I grew up in the North (Manchester to be precise) and I have never really had the desire to move further south than Nottingham - where I did a stint back in 2009 before realising that a particular university course was not for me.

Don't get me wrong, I love London; I really do. I love the hustle and bustle of the city life; I love that you can turn a street corner and be met by little-cobbled mews streets intertwined within the main tourist spots and I love that every time I visit, I discover something new. And even when I was younger, I felt as though I needed to be there to get anywhere with my career.

But as it happened, I stayed up in Manchester, and I absolutely love it up here. I know one day I will move to a different city, but the North West is my home for now. So when The Car People got in touch to ask whether I would like to celebrate the beauty of the North, I couldn't say no!

Here is my round up of all the amazing places in the North that I hope encompasses the beauty above the A50!

1. Manchester


Where better place to start? The city I have called home for almost 27 years, and the one I will be sad to leave one day. Manchester has it all; a great music scene, more bars than you can visit, a huge shopping centre, countless green spaces, quirky cafes, 5-star restaurants, a supportive blogging scene - the list is endless. Often described as the London of the north, you have everything within walking distance instead of losing the will to live on the tube.


2. Chester


Chester is one of those places that I'll never get bored of going to. I've been more times than I can count, but I am always the one to suggest it. It's less than a 30 minute drive from my house, but feels as though you're somewhere completely different. The Roman walls, amphitheatre and beautiful ruins, make this city a must visit if you're up north. And obviously being home to the races means that day drinking is always acceptable!


3. Skipton


I've only been to Skipton once a couple of years ago, but I fell in love. It was so quaint and peaceful, but had enough there that you wouldn't get bored. And if you do get to visit in summer, there were a lot of pubs that backed on to the canal, making them a perfect beer drinking spot!


4. York


If you've followed my blog for a while or have my on social media, you'll know that York is one of my favourite places in the country. It reminds me of being in Harry Potter, and I love that there's always something new to explore. The amount of old English pubs amongst unconventional cocktail bars make it a very popular destination for travellers from all over the world. And you can sit by the river and get merry. Plus they have the nicest fudge shop ever!


5. Keswick


Me and my boyfriend visited the Lake District this time last year, and we've always been desperate to go back and visit some new places. We stayed in Borrowdale, which was about 10 minutes from Keswick, and it was one of the most calming experiences I have ever had. There was little phone signal, which was actually a blessing, and we got to have some of the nicest food I have ever tasted in loads of different restaurants. Definitely somewhere I would recommend, and absolutely stunning scenery.


6. Knutsford



Only about 15 minutes from my house, but completely different to my nearest town of Altrincham. Knutsford is always somewhere I thought that rich, old, middle-class people lived (which they definitely still do...) and had nothing for cool, hip twenty-somethings, but some of the best nights out I've had have been here. It reminds me quite a lot of Chester but on a smaller scale and is home to the beautiful Tatton Park. There's also a selection of different restaurants and bars, and you're really spoilt for choice as some of them are incredible. There's a monthly food market too, which is worth a visit if you're ever up this way.


7. Chorlton



One of my favourite places south of Manchester is Chorlton, as it feels like a smaller version of the city but not as busy. Chorlton is one of those places that you feel you might need a beard and to own something from a charity shop to fit in, but even if you don't, the amount of food and drink choices you have will keep you entertained. A short walk down the road is Chorlton Water Park, which is a tranquil paradise.


8. Lymm


I spent a lot of time in Lymm growing up as my Grandparents lived there so I will always have a special connection to the village. It is only a short drive from my house, but is often overlooked because there isn't that much to do there (although it has one of the best ice cream parlours I have ever been to). If you fancy a walk, it takes between 1-2 hours along the canal from Altrincham, and is worth it if A) you want to do something different and don't mind walking in a straight line and B) it's lovely and sunny!


9. Llandudno 


Llandudno is one of those places that you assume is just full of older people; I mean it is, but it's also a really cute little seaside down. I went here a couple of years ago and ended up taking a wrong turn and driving up to the top of Great Orme, which is basically a giant hill for those of you who don't know... but it turned out to be quite a great mistake as the views were amazing. They also had a toboggan at the top and a skylift which I definitely wasn't expecting.


10. Conwy



Keeping on topic, last bank holiday, myself and a couple of friends took a trip to Conwy in Wales for the day. The thing I love about living in the North West is that you're only an hour away from North Wales. I'd never been to Conwy before and only knew of the castle, but it was a beautiful little town and perfect for a day out. It definitely helped that when we visited it was glorious sunshine so we could eat ice cream on the harbour, but nevertheless, I'll definitely be back there this summer.


11. Scarborough 



I ended up going to Scarborough by chance on a work trip a couple of years ago, and keep meaning to go back. Up until that point, I had only heard that it was the Blackpool of the east, so I wasn't expecting much when I arrived; but after having a wander round by myself, I was actually amazed at how beautiful the seafront was. There were rows and rows of brightly coloured beach huts, and it was a great place to explore by myself. Although there were quite a few amusement arcades up and down the shore, it just reminded me of family days out when I was younger.


12. Peak District



Last August I did a 12 mile hike around Kinder Scout in the Peak District. I had never done anything like that before (and haven't since) but it was a great way to see a part of the UK that I never had before. We jumped on the train from Picadilly to Edale and started the walk from there. Altogether it took us about 6 hours (maybe more, I've kind of blocked that bit out) and we had amazing weather for it which always makes the difference. There were bits where you have to scramble over rocks, and other bits where you had to wade through mud, and I lost my trainer a couple of times, but it was definitely worth it when you make your way to the pub at the bottom!


13. Edinburgh



Last but not least is one of my favourite places I have ever been - the beautiful Edinburgh. I visited last Christmas, and had been a couple of times when I was younger, but I just feel so in love with the city when I'm there. I think it's because it has the hustle of being the capital, but turn off the main street and you're in a different world. Edinburgh is definitely somewhere I would consider living one day - watch this space!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog about all of the places I think are beautiful up North. And as the saying goes, I can't say I agree!

If you have any recommendations of places you think I would enjoy visiting, please leave them in the comments.

xx

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This blog was written in collaboration with The Car People - all views are my own. 

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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Weekly Love #10


Can you believe we're at the 10th instalment of my weekly love posts? How crazy quick has this year gone? I hope you're all enjoying these posts as much as I enjoy writing them!

1. Catch Up's

On Wednesday evening, I met up with some of my old work colleagues in Hale. We've had this in the diary since January and I was really looking forward to seeing them all again in a group. It's been a year since I left the company but I've stayed in contact with them all. We caught up over great food and wine and it was lovely catching up on all of the work gossip.



2. Sigiriya

For the catch-up on Wednesday, we tried a new Sri Lankan restaurant, Sigiriya, that has recently opened. Where the restaurant has opened used to be a tapas restaurant, and when you walk in, the whole vibe and atmosphere are complete worlds apart. The entrance has amazing, colourful tiles, and the inside has authentic Sri Lankan decor with white washed walls, colourful cushions and lots of light: It was absolutely beautiful and a real change to other places on the same street. We shared poppadoms to start and I had devilled chicken (chicken breast cooked with ground black pepper, seasoned with chilli paste) rice and a peshawari nan. I was very impressed by the food which was quite like Indian cuisine but with most taste as less spice, and my old boss said it rivalled real Sri Lankan food: I'll definitely be back!



3. Pizza Fridays

After putting the pizza parlour, Crazy Pedro's, on my wish-list for the month, a few of us arranged to go on Friday evening after work. The Northern Quarter restaurant was downstairs on a side street, and was on the smaller side, but we all managed to squeeze on a table. The overall vibe was really cool and reminded me of a New York style pizza parlour with people sharing slices sat at the bar. On seeing the pizzas, we decided to share a few across the table as they were hugeee. The girls shared a Mac Daddy (basically a big mac on a pizza which doesn't sound great, but was amazing) and a Gringo (pulled pork, jalapeños and tortilla chips) and the pizzas were amazing; they definitely lived up to the hype! If you're ever in Manchester, I would definitely recommend this place. Plus it was 241 cocktails before 9 and a whole pizza for £10 - winner winner!



4. Brunch

On Saturday morning, my friend Emily had me over at her house for brunch as we are both trying to save money. She made a dish of tomatoes, red onion and kidney beans with vegan sausages, smashed avocado, kale and mini bagels and it was gorgeous - definitely proves that vegan food can be as tasty as everything else! We had a really lovely long chat about everything we both have planned for the future and I came away feeling really uplifted and positive. 



5. IKEA

Definitely making me feel like an old woman... We attempted IKEA last Sunday when it was raining, and got about 1/3 of the way round before I almost had a mental breakdown about how busy it was, abandoned our trolley (sorry staff!) and made a run for it. Dramatic yes... so we decided because to go on Saturday evening when it would be quieter. We got some bits and bobs which I don't want to reveal yet (all will make sense soon) and I made it to the end without wanting to cry. Bonus!


6. The Bell Jar

This week myself and Hannah (from the amazing blog Hannah Gets Hench) started our own little book club. We chose The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for personal reasons, and so far I am really enjoying it. I won't go too much into the plot incase you fancy reading it, but it is a classic in the world of feminism and I'm already seeing that theme coming through. Power to the girls!



7. International Women's Day

On the same topic as girl power, I really enjoyed the solidarity of everyone this International's Women's Day on Wednesday. I tried to join in with as many conversations on Twitter as I could, and spread the positivity with quotes and pictures on social media! It made me feel empowered and happy that I am part of a vocal and strong community.



8. Manchester Date Day

On Sunday, me and Jordan decided to go into Manchester for a mooch about. The weather made it look as though it would be beer garden time, although by the time we got to Manchester, it started to rain, but nevertheless we went to a food market in the Northern Quarter and had a wander around. We decided it had been a longgg while since we went to the cat cafe so we took a trip there, and went on to play pool afterwards at Black Dog Ballroom. For food we went to Yard and Coop and got a cake-away from Home Sweet Home - which actually made it all the way on the tram to my surprise, but was devoured as soon as the kettle boiled when we got in.


xx

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