Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Weekly Love #24

I can't believe we're almost halfway through the year; where did the time actually go? That's one of the reasons I've been loving writing these posts because I can look back on them and remember all the fun things I did in 2017.

This last week has been jam-packed as it was my birthday on the Tuesday, which meant seeing lots of different people and celebrating!

1. Takeaway

Well, it wouldn't be a weekly love post without me talking about food, would it? Me and Jordan had spoken about going out on Monday evening as a pre-birthday celebration, but when it came round to it, I was still so tired from the weekend, that we decided to have a chilled night in. There is a sushi takeaway not far from where we live, which we've been to a few times, so we decided to treat ourselves to some food from here, which was a very welcome change to 'whatever-we-have-in-the-freezer' Mondays.

2. Band & Bean

On Tuesday night (a.k.a my birthday) I was invited to an acoustic event at Grindsmith in Media City. My friend Emily puts on these events to pair her two loves of coffee and music in a chilled environment. She and a group of others are very passionate about the Manchester music scene and discovering new artists, which is what this event was to promote. There were 2 bands and 1 singer, who were all amazing, talented individuals. We watched Tuscan Sun, Stillia and Hannah Ashcroft, and if you would like any more information, check out their Youtube channel and Facebook page.

3. Tattu

I want to do a full review of Tattu on here in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to give it a mention because I had such a lovely time. On Wednesday it was my friend Sophie's birthday so a group of us went to the Spinningfields restaurant which specialises in Cantonese food in such a beautiful atmosphere. We had a really chilled evening and I got to catch up with a couple of the girls who I hadn't seen in a while, which was lovely.

4. Dinner With Parents

On Thursday evening, me and Jordan went to have dinner at my parent's house. My mum has recently gone veggie so we had a Quorn spag bol, halloumi, garlic bread, a watermelon and feta salad (which was delicious!) and apple crumble for dessert. She definitely overfed us, but all the food was amazing, and it was nice to spend time with my parents at home, rather than go out for a meal.

5. Paris

On Saturday morning, Hannah and I flew out to Paris for a weekend break. We had such an amazing time. filled with lots of food, rooftop drinks, sunshine, boat tours, wine, croissants, wandering and everything else you are supposed to do on a city break. I even managed to film a few video clips so I might make them into a vlog! You can check out my Instagram (and Hannah's) to have a look at everything we got up to!


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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Travel | Belgium

It feels like it was months ago since Jordan and I went to Bruges when it was only in March, but I guess that's the way that 2017 has been flying by.

We decided back in January to take a little trip mid-March as we knew that a house was on the horizon for us, and we wanted to have a break just the two of us before the chaos started. At the time the Eurostar was having a sale, so we started researching the places you could go to on the train, which turns out is only Belgium or France, and I'd already booked to go to Paris in June for my birthday.

I've been to Brussels before a few years ago and loved the city, but I wanted to go somewhere different, so we agreed on Bruges. A few of my friends had already been over the last few years and said it was such a beautiful place, making it an easy choice; plus, the chocolate and waffles were a big deciding factor.

Because the Eurostar we booked got us into Brussels at 7pm (and the train to Bruges was an hour on top of that) we decided to have one night and morning there before heading over. I chose a hotel that was relatively near the centre so we dropped our bags off and went for a wander.

We started at a bar called Delirium, which, if you've ever been to Brussels will know is quite an attraction. I had a mango Timmermans, and Jordan went for a Kriek (cherry beer) which quickly turned into his drink of choice for the whole trip.

After a wander round some of the Belgium chocolate shops in the Grand Place (tip - if you want to bring chocolates home with you, or just eat them whilst you're there, go further out of the main square where the prices significantly drop) we went to an Italian restaurant on one of the side streets where they very awkwardly made us feel like VIPs in front of a full restaurant. We went for a couple more beers before walking back up to the hotel for the night.

The next morning we woke up early and went to find some breakfast, which turned out to be harder than anticipated - who knew Belgians were the only people in Europe who don't love brunch? Although we did find quite a lot of bakeries, we grabbed a quick snack and headed for the train to Bruges (which was a double decker one and really really cool!)

When we arrived in Bruges, we jumped into a taxi to our hotel, Hotel Ter Brughe, and surprisingly made it there in one piece seen as our taxi driver thought he was a stunt man in a Bond film. When we jumped out, I noticed how similar the buildings were to Amsterdam, and there were even a lot of cyclists - when you look at Bruges on the map, it isn't too far from Holland at all.

The one thing I noticed more than anything about Bruges is how different it was to Brussels. The whole pace of the city was much slower and much more chilled, and the people seemed more relaxed. The city itself is stunning: It's a mixture of Belgian, almost gothic architecture, but feels quite Venetian with the amount of canals and river boats.

Once I'd picked up a bar of chocolate to fix my sugar craving, we went to the Beer Museum, which, if I'm honest, wasn't massively impressive. You're given an iPad to go and learn about the history, but mine stopped working half way through, and I enjoyed the tasting side of the experience much more. With your ticket, you get to try 3 Belgian beers and have the option to buy more, which obviously we did...

After the Beer Museum we had a wander around the shops, and took a beer for the road: I'm a massive fan of Belgian beers from trying them over here, but the real thing just tastes so much better.

We decided on a burger restaurant to have dinner in, but before that, we visited Bar2Be which was recommended by a friend. I'm so glad we went here because firstly, the outside bit of the bar was right next to the canal, secondly, you got to try 4 different beers for 10 euros, and thirdly, those beers were so good! My favourite from here was a coconut beer, which usually I wouldn't have gone for, but it was amazing; we also got a little side of salamis, nuts and cheese.

After dinner, we went to another bar overlooking the canal and had a really lovely evening just watching the world go by. I have a thing for eating and drinking outside by the water, so this really was a great evening.

On the second day, we had breakfast at the hotel, which was a mixture of pastries, cooked breakfast, bread and cold meats. After going back for a 4th or 5th plate, we decided to have an hour to regroup (i.e. not throw up...) before we went out.

I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of a walking tour as I feel you get to see a lot of the city that you wouldn't on a tour bus, and learn about the history of the everyday people. I'd googled in advance the best one to go to, so after a mosey around a few shops (and a cheeky lunchtime beer) we headed to the meeting point.

Funnily enough, our tour guide was from Yorkshire, about an hour away from us, and was absolutely lovely. The tour lasted about 3 hours, but the time flew by. She pointed out that the chocolate shops that have a cocoa bean outside are the best in the country, and as we'd walk past a couple, we went back to them to pick up some goodies. They were slightly more expensive that the other ones that we had visited, but the quality of the chocolate was unreal.

Still on a sugar high, we decided to go to the chocolate museum, which I really enjoyed and would highly recommend. We learnt all about the history of chocolate and the origins of different types and watched an expert make truffles at the end of the tour, which we got to try as well.

After getting ready for dinner, we wandered through the streets just as the sun was setting, and it was truly picturesque. We went to a traditional Belgian restaurant and shared a double portion of stew with dumplings and fries, and it was delicious. Afterwards, we stopped at a waffle truck and ate them walking down the canal with a beer.

On the final morning, we had breakfast at the hotel again, packed up and left our bags with reception before heading out. We had seen the boat tours the past couple of days and decided it would be the perfect time to go on one in the early morning sunshine. The tour lasted about 45 minutes, and we got to see so much of the city from a completely different angle.

After the boat tour, we walked over to the Huisbrouwerij de Halve Maan brewery, where they produce Brugse Zot, one of the most popular beers in Belgium. I've done a few brewery tours in the past, and this was up there as being one of the most informative and interesting. The beer we got to try at the end was really nice, even at 11:30 am.

Because the brewery was really close to the Beguinage gardens, which is home to the Benedictine nuns, we went for a walk around the daffodil-filled gardens, which was so peaceful. After another waffle and a stop in a chocolate shop to buy presents for our family, we walked back to the hotel and jumped in a taxi to the train station.

After an hour train to Brussels and a two-hour Eurostar back to London, we found ourselves back in the UK after a lovely little break.

I would definitely go back to Bruges in a heartbeat - it was so magical and tranquil and perfect for a few days away (especially if you love beer and chocolate!)


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Monday, 12 June 2017

Weekly Love #23

After everything that has happened over the last few weeks, it was getting harder and harder to find things to be happy about - but life is all about being resilient and overcoming negativity with a positive mindset and I will strive my hardest to continue to do that.

1. Vegan Dinner

On Monday night, my friend Emily came round for dinner. She is vegan, so I was panicking about what to make, but we decided to have a big salad, tortillas, hummus, crusty bread, roasted nuts and bits of fruit. It was nice to have something different for dinner as I'm trying to cut my meat intake down anyway and lovely to catch up with her.

2. Spontaneous Visit

On Tuesday afternoon my friend Siobhan messaged me to say she was in the area. She moved to Chester back in April and I haven't had the chance to go and see the new house and vice versa. She came round for food and wine (and cake that I happened to have baked spur of the moment) and we got to talk for a few hours about the move, jobs, and her upcoming wedding, which was nice.

3. Nails

Now I've firmly got the 'having your nails done every 3 weeks' bug (catchy...) I had booked my next appointment in back in May. I went for a pale peach colour, as I had already had pink and I hoped this would go with everything. We're going to Ascot in a couple of weeks, and I'm hoping to wear a red dress so I didn't want something that would clash or look too garish.

4. Voting

I know I probably lost followers on Instagram, Twitter, and friends on Facebook, but this election really took over my life this week. I can tell I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I felt so strongly that I wanted Labour to win and I wanted to have my say. Although the result wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, I'm impressed by the campaign that they constructed, and the fact that 70% of under 25's turned up to vote.

5. Homemade Brunch

As it's my birthday on Tuesday, Jordan treated me to a homemade brunch over the weekend. As we're still in the midst of paying bills, sorting out the rooms we still haven't touched, and trying to make our house into a home, I sometimes lean more towards meals in than meals out. We had scrambled eggs on olive bread, with avocado and smoked salmon and it was delicious.

6. Junkyard Golf

I'd been meaning to go here since it opened months ago, but never found the right time. For our joint birthdays, me and my friend Sophie decided to have a night here and have some drinks afterwards on Saturday night. The course was really fun, the cocktails were amazing, and I even managed to come joint first, which I was pretty happy with!

7. Birthday celebrations

After we played mini golf, we continued the night at Refuge, which is another place I've been meaning to go to go for a while. It was very fancy in there, but still reasonably priced and we even ran into some old school friends and had a mini catch up with them. I'm never a fan of doing something huge for my birthday, which is why it's nice to share it with a close friend.

8. Makers Market

On Sunday, Jordan and I ventured into Manchester to go to the Makers Market that was on in the Northern Quarter. It'd been a while since we could make it to one of them, and I'd missed being able to sample loads of different food. We also got some pre-birthday cake, which didn't last long when we got home.

9. The Alchemist On New York Street

After we had raided the market of food, we decided to go for a little celebratory drink at The Alchemist on New York street, which isn't far from the Northern Quarter. It had been a couple of years since I had been here, but it is one of my favourite bars in Manchester. If you don't know much about it, think of OTT cocktails which come in measuring jugs, with quirky garnishes. I went for a strawberry colada, which was basically an alcoholic slush puppy.

10. Come Dine With Me

As it had been a while since our last 'alphabet come dine with me' I was really excited to see the girls and hear what they had been up to recently. It was my friend Sarah's turn to host and she had the letter P and did a medley of South American countries - Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Peru and Panama. We had a chicken, avocado and sweet potato dish to start, followed by a plantain course, then a main of rice with melted feta, with steak and pork with a fried egg on top, and a dessert of pastries and a sweet potato cake. They were all really sweet as well and sang happy birthday and gave me some chocolates and presents. A very lovely way to end the weekend.


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Friday, 9 June 2017

27 Reasons I'm Happy Turning 27

Next Tuesday is my 27th birthday, which to me, marks the fact that I am officially a fully-grown, real-life adult (aka been winging it for the last 6 years).

I feel good about turning another year older. I feel like there is much more on the horizon for me this year, and I am excited about things to come; life is a journey at the end of the day.

26 was a hard year for me, yet there were some amazing memories that I will take away from it and cherish.

Here's to turning 27, striving for positivity and all of the great things to come.

1. Two more weddings - this summer, my cousin and one of my closest friends are tying the knot and I can't wait to spend quality time with some friends and family.

2. Paris - next weekend, Hannah and I are going to Paris for the weekend and I haven't been since year 9 so I can't wait.

3. Attending more blogging events - there are always more events during the summer months, and I'm excited to catch up with some of my favourite girls.

4. Ascot - if you know my boyfriend at all, you'll know he is obsessed with horse racing. This year we treated ourselves to Ascot tickets, although I'm already panicking about what to wear...

5. Summer weather - hopefully, we'll get some more sunshine!

6. BBQ's - I've already got two in the diary, so here's hoping for more.

7. Our house - I'm hoping that we can do some of the decorating and bits and bobs that we've been putting off for a while.

8. More UK trips - I'm really lucky to have been to some lovely places in the last year including York, Oxford and Cornwall, and I'm hoping to take more advantage of those on my doorstep.

9. Friends fest - I'm a massive Friends fan, even 13 years after it finished, so I can't wait to go in August.

10. Concerts - so far I've got a couple of concerts booked to see some of my favourite bands. I'm hoping I can fit some more in too.

11. Hen do - for my friend's wedding in September, we are hiring a huge house near York and going to a festival nearby where Kaiser Chiefs are playing.

12. Gin Festival - the one I went to in March are popping up all over the place, so I'd be eager to go back and sample some of the ones I didn't last time.

13. Food festival - on that note, we always seem to go to a couple of food festivals over the summer which are a great way to support local businesses and try new cuisines.

14. Autumn city break - I've been looking at some different options for a short autumn city break. So far I'm leaning towards Stockholm or Copenhagen, so if you have any tips, send them my way.

15. Cooking classes - I've not been shy in saying that I really really don't like cooking, so this year I am determined to learn some new skills, and maybe even try a cooking class.

16. Brighton - we've booked a little trip to Brighton for Jordan's birthday, and I'm really looking forward to going, as neither of us have been before.

17. Christmas - I know, I know, it's too early, but I'm already really excited for our first Christmas as homeowners.

18. Italy - I'm going back to my favourite country in the whole world in September, and I already can smell the pizza and prosecco.

19. 30th - three of my closest friends are turning 30 before the end of the year and I can't wait to celebrate with them.

20. My Nan's 90th - if any of you have ever heard me speak about my Nan, you know that she is a massive inspiration. On August bank holiday, she will be hosting the whole family for her 90th birthday and even sent us a save the date.

21. Scotland - two of my best friends are currently living over the border, so I'm going to make it my mission to spend more time up there.

22. Edinburgh - following on from that, I really want to go back to Edinburgh at Christmas, because it was just the most magical place.

23. Travels - two of my best friends are going travelling this year, and although I'm incredibly jealous, I'm happy they are following their dreams.

24. Motivation - recently I've felt so more motivated in terms of work, blogging and my overall life. Long may it continue!

25. Family - my family moved over here from America last summer, I'm looking forward to spending more time with them when the kids have their summer holidays.

26. Trying new restaurants - there are so many new restaurants popping up all over the place in Manchester. This year I really want to make the effort to try some of the new ones and stop going to so many chains. I'm starting with Tattu next week for my birthday.

27. Mental health - this last year has seen my mental health be totally rocked by a number of different events. I wouldn't say I've been hiding it away, but sometimes it is so easy to push all negativity and anxiety to the back of your mind and not tell anyone. This year I am going to tackle it full on, make regular appointments with counsellors, be prescribed the right medication, and hopefully, find a better life balance.


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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

General Election 2017

I never thought I would be sharing on here any political views, but recently, I've felt so passionate about this election that I thought it was about time I had my say.

I grew up in a middle-class family, in a wealthy 'Conservative-heavy' suburb, went to a grammar school, private college, and a red-brick university. To the outside out, it might look obvious who I would vote for.

The first time I could vote was back in 2010. As a confused 19-year old, I voted the same as my parents; Conservative. I had no interest in politics and not much changed when the 2015 election came around.

Fast-forward 2 years and I have now bought a house in a very pro-Labour area, I have read up on the manifesto, the other parties, some of my closest friends are activists, and I feel very strongly about protecting the NHS, schools and the police.

Although much of the Labour manifesto doesn't directly affect me (I'm not paid minimum wage, at University, have children or work for the NHS) I still believe that electing this government will be better for the country in the long run and for my future generations. I've worked hard to buy a house, go on little city breaks and enjoy nights out with my friends, but I am not driven by money, and I wouldn't want to live in a society that is.

So why am I voting Labour?

Well, firstly, because I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the best person to run the country: He genuinely cares about the people, schools, universities, women, wages, the NHS, making amends where the Tories haven't. He is also the lowest claiming MP when it comes to expenses, takes the bus and has been campaigning for a fairer economy for years.

Secondly, I agree with most points in his manifesto (which you can find here). Not only is he passionate about policing our streets, investing in schools, and providing free childcare, but he wants to ensure that mental health services are given the same priority as physical health, hospital care remains free and the nurse's bursary is reinstated after the Tories scrapped it.

And surely I can't be the only one who would rather drive than get the train because the prices are through the roof? Well, if you vote Labour, Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to cap fares, so we don't pay more than other European countries.

During this whole election, one thing that has annoyed me throughout is the papers. If you go into a newsagent, you're met with headlines about Jeremy Corbyn not being able to protect us, how he's linked to Islamic extremists, how he's an alcoholic, not fit to run the country etc. etc. But these papers are owned by millionnaire tax avoiders, that will do anything in their power to dodge paying more money; and the thing that gets me is, the new tax on the country's highest earners won't even touch the side, and I guarantee none of them would miss it.

I'm honestly not telling you who to vote for, I'm just highlighting some of the reasons why I will be voting Labour. People fought and died for us to have the right to vote, so please use it tomorrow.

#ForTheMany #VoteLabour

Monday, 5 June 2017

Weekly Love #22

I started writing this post over the weekend before the events happened in London on Saturday night, and I think it would be wrong of me to not acknowledge them, and say that my thoughts are with everyone involved and been affected.

I was in two minds whether to post all of the things that made me happy last week, as I would never want to come across as ignorant, but it is important for us to still go ahead with our normal lives as much as possible, and fill the world with as much love and positivity as humanly possible.

No matter how much hate there is in the world, it will never win. The spirit of Britain is absolutely phenomenal and I am proud to be part of such an incredible community.

Love will always win.

1. Meal With Friends

On Monday night, we tried to prolong the bank holiday by going for a curry with a few friends in Altrincham. Because we'd all been to our friend's wedding the weekend before, it was nice to see everyone in a less alcohol-fulled state. We went to Essence in Altrincham, which is one of our favourites and it was a really lovely, chilled way to start the week.

2. Drinks

On Thursday evening, I met my lovely friend, Jacinta, at the market in Altrincham for a catch-up and a few drinks. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (yet your girl thought black jeans in 25-degree heat was a good plan...) and we sat outside the market, putting the world to rights: I always feel so inspired after spending time with her!

3. Double Zero

The lovely staff at Double Zero in Chorlton offered me a pizza for mentioning them last time on here, so me and Jordan decided to have a little date night on Friday evening. The great thing about this place is not only are the pizzas absolutely divine, but you can bring your own alcohol. We started with the antipasti board, which was a mixture of different meat, cheese and breads (which I 100% would eat right this second) and shared the Toscana (Calabrese and Italian sausage).

4. Barton Arcade Blogging Event

I got an email earlier in the week about a blogging event that was coming up on the Saturday at Barton Arcade in Manchester, about raising awareness for such a beautiful space in Manchester. If you're not sure where or what Barton Arcade is, it is basically a stretch of shops inside a glass-roofed building linking St. Anne's Square with Deansgate. We met at the Six & Flow offices, who were running the event and started with brunch at Pot Kettle Black which was incredible. The manager, James, brought over a selection of food for us to enjoy (and Instagram) and the staff were just lovely. We then had a wander around some of the stores before heading up to the roof terrace and breaking for lunch. Afterwards, we were treated to a wash and blow dry at Too Funky Hair and cocktails at Be at One. It was really lovely to catch up with some familiar faces and meet some new ones.

5. Lunya

I wanted to mention this past of the Blogging Event separately as I thought it deserved some recognition. As a food lover, I was surprised that there was a tapas restaurant that I hadn't been to in Manchester as I'm a massive fan of trying lots of differnt food at once. Lunya is situated on Deansgate, with the back leading into Barton Arcade and has authentic Spanish decor, and also a deli next door (where they have free samples of cheese and olives... just saying). We were lucky enough to be treated to 3 tapas dishes and a glass of wine each as part of the event. I went for the hummus, calamari and deep fried hake with bechamel sauce - all of which were amazing. Visit their website here.

6. France 2

This one is quite a random one, but on Saturday, I was interviewed about the memorial in St. Anne's Square in Manchester for France 2, the French version of the BBC. I was asked by Jacinta to be a part of it the day before and I of course agreed as it is such a raw emotional part of my life right now. It was very surreal to be at the memorial, but also humbling to see what an incredible community Manchester really is.

7. Football

If you've known me for a while, you will know that I used to be quite a big football fan, but in the past few years, I've developed other interests and that part of my life has kind of fallen by the wayside. That said, on Saturday, we had a friend over to watch the football and I really got back into it. I'm not saying I'm going to be cheering United on every weekend next season, but it was a nice reminder of something I was so passionate about.

8. One Love MCR

I don't even know where to begin with this one. On Sunday evening, I was lucky enough to get tickets for the One Love Manchester show at Emirates Old Trafford. I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge Ariana Grande fan, but as soon as I read about what she was doing, and all of the amazing artists that were playing, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The whole show was absolutely incredible yet so emotional, but I was so glad I was able to go and show my support to the city I will always call home. My favourite acts were Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Liam Gallagher, but I also thought Ariana sang beautifully, and credit to her for putting on such an unbelievable show at such short notice.


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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Review | Shoryu

Last week, I was invited to try the ramen restaurant, Shoryu in Manchester's Picadilly Gardens. The establishment, which is sandwiched between Pizza Express and Ask Italian, has been there since November and is the brand's first venture outside of London. It has been widely recognised by those in the industry and has been recommended in the Michelin Guide in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The restaurant is renowned for its Hakata tonkotsu ramen from the Hakata district of Fukuoka city on the southern island of Kyushu in Japan. The ramen consists of a rich, white pork soup (each pan takes over 12 hours to cook at a 'rolling boil'... fancy!) and thin ramen noodles, topped with char siu BBQ pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, sesame, ginger and nori seaweed.

I absolutely love ramen and Japanese cuisine in general, and I'd only heard good things about this place from other bloggers, making me very excited to try it. When we arrived, we were greeted by Nelson, who asked us whether we wanted to sit where the chefs prepared the food or looking on the gardens: we went for the 'theatre' option as I love watching food being made.

We were given the set menu and the regular menu to peruse. The set menu cost £22 each and included a starter, main and cocktail, which I think is a reasonable price for the city centre, seen as a cocktail would have set you back £9-11 by itself. We both chose the seasonal passionfruit and vodka cocktail, because nothing says summery cocktail like passionfruit does.

For a starter, you could choose from either a grilled halloumi and shimeji mushroom or soy marinated chicken karaage bun, which we got one each of. I've seen these buns before, especially when I was in Berlin (strangely) but I have never had the pleasure of having one, and it was worth the wait. I can't really describe the texture but it was quite a doughy and sticky bread bun with the filling inside - not the most appealing sounding, but amazing!

For the main we both went for the infamous Hakata tonkotsu ramen. The waitress told us we had made a good choice, and the main came as soon as we'd finished the starter. I've had a lot of ramen in my time; I used to go to Wagamama about twice a week when I went to university in Manchester, but this one topped them all. The broth itself was so flavoursome, and the ingredients were so fresh - we even got asked how hard we wanted our noodles, which was a change (apparently the traditional way is to have them quite al dente). Embarrassingly though, we both had to ask for forks instead of using chopsticks.

After the ramen, we were encouraged to try the Sakura & Azuki Chiffon cake, which was limited edition, and the chef's favourite. I'm not exaggerating here when I say that it was the lightest cake I've ever eaten, and the cherry coulis was a welcome accompaniment. The cake itself was a regular sponge, with a sort of citrus taste running through and I would 100% eat it again.

Overall, I think Shoryu is definitely a welcome choice to the already ever-expanding Manchester foodies scene. The food was reasonably priced, incredibly delicious and the staff were so welcoming and knowledgeable about what you should try.

I will definitely be going back to Shoryu, sooner rather than later, and would highly recommend it.

You can find out all about the restaurant here.


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Thank you to Shoryu who treated us to a complimentary meal for 2. All views are my own. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Weekly Love #21

This week has been one of the most up and down ones of my life. It started off which such tragedy but ended with so much love.

It still gives me some faith in humanity, that even in the darkest of times, people still try to find the light.

1. The Mancunian Spirit

After the heartbreak I felt on Monday evening, I've managed to feel a bit more uplifted throughout the week seeing everyone from around the city I call home, come together in such a magnificent way. From the floral tributes to the poems, to the I Love MCR signs everywhere: It really made my heart warm knowing that even through such a terrible act, no one will every break the Northern spirit.

2. Wedding Rehearsal 

On Wednesday evening we had the rehearsal for my friend's wedding which happened over the weekend. I was so so nervous to walk down the aisle, so having a rehearsal really put my mind at rest that it wouldn't be so bad. We also got to see the bride and groom's parents and the church in general and it was a lovely way to spend the evening.

3. Dot 2 Dot Festival

On Friday afternoon, myself and a couple of friends went to Dot to Dot festival in Manchester. If you've never heard of it, it's basically loads of different acts dotted around Manchester at different bars and venues. We started off seeing Honeyblood at Albert Hall, followed by Liv Dawson at Band on the Wall, then Confidence Man at Mint Lounge and Growlers at Granada. It was such a fab day and something that is a really good idea to see bands you never usually would and venues you might not usually go to. My favourite were Confidence Man who put on an amazing show and were an electro 4-piece with crazy, awesome dance moves.

4. Wedding 

Obviously, the biggest highlight of the week (and year...) was watching two of my friends tie the knot on Saturday. The wedding was the most amazing and beautiful ceremony, and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it. I won't give too much away, as I'm sure they'll be loads of photos on Facebook coming up, but it was honestly one of the best days of my life. Wishing the happy couple all the love in the world.

5. Bank Holiday BBQ

To make the wedding celebrations last a bit longer, the Groom's parents threw a BBQ yesterday at their house, joint with a 60th birthday celebration for the Mother of the Groom. It was really nice to get back together with close friends and family and reminisce about the day before. We also got the chance to wish the happy couple the best time on their honeymoon.


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Friday, 26 May 2017

You Ain't Ever Going To Burn My Heart Out

I chose to write this post after a few days reflecting on what happened in my home city of Manchester.

I'm sure you all know by now the atrocities that happened in the city on Monday evening and share with me a heavy heart knowing that something so horrible happened and so close to home.

I spent most of Monday night searching for updates on Twitter after hearing from my friend Hannah that she had just heard a bang from opposite her flat. At first, I prayed it was nothing serious; there were reports all over Twitter saying that a speaker had exploded at the Ariana Grande concert, but once I heard the word bomb, I couldn't sleep.

Throughout the night I was searching for updates, but because there were different outlets saying completely different things, it was hard to get the whole story until the morning. I always thought that Manchester would be spared from all the atrocities going on around the world; call me naive if you like.

Unfortunately for a lot of us, we have had to grow up in a time where terrorism is a real threat to our everyday lives and it's an unnerving thought. In the last few years, I can remember countless acts of everyday people losing their lives for doing nothing wrong, and it makes me so sad to think about.

I, for one, will never understand terrorism. It makes me sick to my stomach to know there are extremists out there who want innocent people to die, especially those with their whole life ahead of them.

If I'm being honest about how I feel about this whole thing, the only word I can think of is flat. It's made me feel so helpless and low that this kind of thing could happen a) in general b) to children who were enjoying their favourite artist and c) somewhere I have been many times, in an area I walked through not only 2 months ago.

I feel as though there is only one way to deal with things like this - live your life how you always have, be cautious where necessary, but enjoy your time on earth. It's scary to think that you'll never know when your time might be up, so don't spend it sweating the small stuff. Be thankful for all of the beautiful people around you who make you who you are and make your life so amazing.

In the last few days, I've been reading stories of heartache, agony, and loss, but also of undeniable courage, heroism and togetherness as we try to come to terms with what has happened to our great city. I have been so proud knowing that the city I call home, has such a beautiful spirit and incredible people who have all come together in a time of need.

"Manchester is a city, that thinks like a town, and feels like a village." 

If this last year has taught me anything it's that life is too short: It's too short to hold grudges, not appreciate everything you have, to worry about money, not to take that holiday you've been dreaming of, to be in a job you don't like.

Go and do the things that make you happy, because being happy should be your number 1 priority.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Weekly Love #20

Back when I started this series, I always thought I might not keep it up because things get in the way each week and sometimes make it hard to sit down and write up a post.

Since buying a house, a lot of my time has been spent on that and the constant cleaning that comes with owning your own place - I mean really, how can two people and a cat make so much mess all the time?

I think what I'm trying to say here is though, even when life gets crazy hectic, I've always liked knowing I have these posts to look back on in the next few months/years later. It's become a sort of online diary and I'm hoping that people are enjoying reading them too.

I've also decided to use fewer images on these posts because when I look at my blog sometimes, I think there is too many, so, we'll see how long that lasts! If you're looking for visuals of anything I do in the week though, you can always have a look at my Instagram.

And after that strange little intro... here's what I was loving last week.

1. Liz Earle Cleanse And Polish 

Last week I mentioned I bought a few new bits in Boots, one of them being the Liz Earle 'Cleanse and Polish'. I've heard hundreds of beauty bloggers rave about this, and it wasn't until my skin had started to look a bit dull and lifeless that I actually thought I better invest in something. The girl working at the counter talked me through why it is good for you and the benefits of using it and even after a week, I am obsessed with the product. It smells so fresh and spa-like and already my skin is starting to look a bit better - definitely worth investing in. Shop here!

2. Nails

If you rewind back about 3 weeks, you'll remember me saying that I got my nails done with shellac for the first time. I was really impressed that I had them on for over 3 weeks and only one came off (because it chipped and I pulled it away...) So on Thursday, I treated myself to another set for the wedding I am a bridesmaid at on Saturday. I got a pale pink because it was the closest colour to my dress, and I love how girly it is! It definitely makes me feel like I have my life together more when I have my nails done.

3. Shoryu

On Friday evening, I was invited to try the restaurant Shoryu in Picadilly Gardens in Manchester. I had only heard good things about this place so I was really excited to give it a go. The restaurant is quite small but intimate, and I didn't feel as though I was cramped or anything (it probably helped that we sat by the window). I'm going to do a full blog review on it soon so keep an eye out for that. Visit the website here.

4. Beer Festival

On Saturday afternoon, a group of us went to the German Beer Festival in Manchester. We got there about halfway through the afternoon session and felt quite overwhelmed when everyone was already very very drunk around us. We had a few drinks then went back in for the evening session, which turned out to be a really good decision. The DJ was hilarious and had everyone dancing on the chairs and tables. Definitely, one I'll be going back to next year.

5. Catch Up's

On Friday afternoon after work, I met up with my friend Sarah for a quick coffee in Altrincham. She has just decided to go travelling for 8 months in July so I was very intrigued (albeit, very jealous) to hear all about her plans for that. We managed to also sit outside of a cute little cafe round the corner from my office called The Little Deli Company, which I also learnt is open till 9pm and does wine and cocktails, so I'll definitely be back!

6. Overnight Oats

This seems like quite a lame thing to put on a weekly love post; however, I love talking about food and therefore thought I might as well put it in! I've gotten into the habit of having porridge for my breakfast when I'm at work, but last week I was getting bored of always having the same thing, so to mix things up (and use up the natural yoghurt that was edging closer and closer to it's sell-by date) I decided to make some overnight oats.  I didn't really measure the portion properly and ended up making enough for 3 days, and it probably would have stretched to 4 if I didn't get so hungry in the morning. I used regular porridge oats and left them in yoghurt overnight (obviously...) and added in some blueberries. If you're after something a bit more substantial in the morning, I would definitely recommend!

7. One Week Countdown

On Saturday it was officially one week until two of my closest friends tie the knot. I'm already gearing myself up for a day of tears, love and dancing and I for one can't wait. It even looks like it will be the hottest day of the year so far as well!


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Monday, 15 May 2017

Weekly Love #19

This week has felt like a bit of a blur if I'm honest. I, unfortunately, started the week off with a Migraine which saw me bed-bound for longer than I wanted and didn't put me in the best mood for the rest of the week.

But I survived and I'm here to tell the tale.

1. My First Five Guys

On Thursday evening, I met my friend Hannah after work for a catch up over some food. We couldn't decide on where to go and ended up walking and talking for a while until we stumbled across Five Guys. I've only ever heard people rave about Five Guys and I can see why. The burgers were double burgers, and although it is classed as a takeaway joint, the quality is definitely that of a restaurant, if not better. We both had double cheeseburgers and shared chips (because the portions were insanely large) and it was delicious. I will definitely be back! (Disclaimer - not my picture below, I inhaled it too fast...)

2. Cocktails In The City

On Friday evening, myself and a few friends went to the cocktails in the city event at Granda Studios in Manchester. I didn't know too much about the event going in, but it was basically some of the best bars in Manchester doing a pop-up, showcasing their most popular cocktails. There were all different kinds of cocktails from rum and gin based to whisky and vodka, and I think it's fair to say that we tried a large array of them. They also had two free drink tokens with the ticket, and different types of shots to try as well throughout the night.

3. New Stationary

I found myself wandering through Sainsbury's on Saturday evening and being drawn towards the stationary section. I always find that Sainsbury's have the best ranges when it comes to Christmas, Easter, and Summer compared to the other supermarkets and they have some really beautiful notebooks in all year round. I picked this one up for £2 and I already can't wait to start planning some more blogs and content.

4. At Home With Podcast

I ummed and ahhed about whether to put this in this week's post because there has only been one episode, but I enjoyed the first one so much that I thought why not. This podcast is done by two of my favourite bloggers and YouTubers, The Anna Edit and Lily Pebbles, and the first one featured the editor-in-chief of UK Glamour, Jo Elvin. Find it here.

5. New Book

I've fell a bit short recently of reading before bed because I've had a million other things on my mind, but thats not excuse. For the rest of this month, I am going to make it my mission to read as much as possible before my head hits the pillow because reading has a soothing effect on me. Over the weekend I started reading Emma Unsworth's 'Animals', and although I'm not that far through it, I am already really enjoying it. 

6. Date Night

On Saturday night, Jordan and I treated ourselves to a little date night to spend some quality time together after all of the manic-ness that comes with buying a house. We went to Love, Luck, Liquor and Burn in the Northern Quarter and shared tacos, burritos, a couple of starters and chips between us. I've been to the restaurant a few times and its one I recommend to people when they come to Manchester because the food is amazing and well priced.


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Thursday, 11 May 2017

5 Places For A Summer Holiday

It's getting to that point in the year where the weather in the UK isn't playing ball and we start to look forward to a proper summer holiday.

I haven't been on a holiday longer than 3 days for a good 4 years because I have tried to pack city breaks into 20-something days annual leave, but this year, I quite fancy a bit of sun and chilling out by a pool.

After doing a bit of research about the best (and not the most expensive) places to go, I've rounded up my top 5 destinations.

1. Malta

Malta has always been one of those places that I've heard about from time to time, but never really had any interest in. I remember reading somewhere that they have over 300 days of sunshine a year, which, when you think about it, is a pretty good indication that you'll be getting good weather on your summer holiday: The capital, Valetta was also voted the sunniest in Europe and is the 'Capital of Culture' for 2018.

There are three Maltese islands - Malta, Gozo, and Comino - all of which boast crystal blue waters, UNESCO heritage sites and some of the best diving in the world (not that I've ever scuba dived in my life, but good if the mood struck me!) The food (which is always an important topic in my mind) has a Greek influence due to its position in the Mediterranean, but also focuses on rustic breads, meats and seafood, all of which I can get on board with.

I feel like Malta is one of those places that could maybe get overlooked because it is so close to the popular Greek islands, but, Sky Scanner voted Malta as their top destination for Summer holidays in 2017 - and you'd hope they know their stuff!

2. Croatia

Up until about 5 years ago, I had never heard of anyone holidaying in Croatia, and then all of a sudden it became the place to be - I'm guessing festivals like Hideout and Love International have put it on the map.

When I looked into holidaying in Croatia, it really caught me by surprise at how beautiful it was and how little time it took to get there (just over 2 hours). There are 3 main tourist destinations - Dubrovnik, the stoned-walled old town with a lively beach scene; Zagreb, the bustling capital city and Split, known for its beaches and Roman architecture. There is also the Plitvice lakes area, which is a forest featuring 16 lakes connected by waterfalls.

The flights are a bit all over the place when I looked, but averaged around £150 in June/July which I think is pretty good for that time of year. Also, with it not having the euro, it's cheaper when you are there - bonus!

3. Crete

Where else would you go as a blogger to get those incredible outfit shots against white-washed walls and blue-domed topped buildings then the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, but as a trip there can be quite on the pricey side, I started to do my research on some of the more affordable destinations.

One of the islands that came up time and time again on my searches was Crete, and I can see why - crystal blue seas, incredible local food and tranquil sandy beaches - it was also the birthplace of Zeus if you're into your Greek mythology.

When I started looking at images of the island, I was really taken aback by how beautiful it was. I feel like it has a bit of a reputation as it's home to the party capital of Malia, a famous hotspot for the drunken underage, but if you're looking for a piece of Greek charm, then Crete should definitely be on your list (and if you're really desperate, you can do a day ferry to Santorini!)

4. Almafi Coast

Is there anywhere more beautiful in the world than Italy? In one word - no! Italy is one of my most favourite places to holiday for a city break, but the Almafi coast is somewhere I have never had the pleasure of visiting yet.

If the food isn't enough to immediately sway you, the Almafi coast is deemed by Unesco to be an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape and it's easy to see why. And if you like to get out in the great outdoors, there are also some of the best hiking spots in Italy around the area.

The weather reaches early 30's throughout summer but is also very pleasant throughout spring and autumn if you were looking to go slightly more off season.

5. Cuba

If you're looking for something a bit more out-there, then you can't go wrong with Cuba. Cuba is one of those exotic places that has always massively appealed to me, mainly because it is so mysterious and the photos I've seen look picturesque.

I won't delve too much in the history of Cuba as we'll be here all day, but the colourful houses, incredible beaches and overall natural beauty should be enough to cure your wanderlust. If a change of culture is what you're after then you can't go wrong with a trip here.

And if the tropical climate doesn't immediately take your fancy, the Cuban capital, Havana is also the birthplace of the rum brand, so win win!

Where are you recommendations for a summer holiday? 


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Monday, 8 May 2017

Weekly Love #18

This week felt like it has massively dragged, which is strange since we had Monday off work, but the weather made up for it, and made me pretty excited for the summer sunshine (if we get any).

1. Bank Holiday Monday

I love bank holiday Mondays because it feels chilled like a Sunday, but everyone seems a little bit happier knowing they're getting paid for having a day off. We spent this bank holiday having a lovely walk around Chorlton Water Park and then lunch at one of our favourite pubs, The Horse & Jockey. It was nice to get outside and have some fresh air after 3 weekends of going out and spending too much money, and the weather even played ball.

2. Sten Party

As my friend is getting married at the end of this month, we decided to have a joint do for her and her husband to be, where they first met. To make us even more cringey, everyone dressed in 90's clothes - it was our era after all! The costumes included Daphne from Scooby Do, Ash and Pikachu from Pokemon and Dexter from Dexter's lab (I played it safe with double denim and oversized shirt, all of which I already owned!)

3. Brunch

Brunch is definitely one of my favourite meals of the day, but is something I can only really enjoy on the weekend. I had arranged to meet one of my friends Charlotte at Rosylee on Saturday because we assumed it would be nice enough to sit outside (it wasn't, thanks Manchester...) If you've been reading my weekly love posts for a while, you'll remember that I went here for lunch on Easter Monday, because the food is gorgeous. We both went for the halloumi breakfast which consisted of chargrilled halloumi, two poaches eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms (although I didn't have them because vom) and beans, which I've noticed aren't on the menu, odd... The portion was huge but I managed to finish it all and Charlotte's leftover halloumi (if that's even a thing) because she was feeling a little worse for wear... It was only £7 as well, which is a decent price for a brunch in the city centre for the amount of food!

4. Double Zero

On Saturday night we had one of our friends, Chloe, over for a takeaway evening. I'd heard amazing things about the pizzas at Double Zero in Chorlton, so I suggested getting a takeaway from there as it is less than 10 minutes from our house, plus there was no way in hell we would have got a table in there. We decided to share 2 pizzas between 3 (seen as we had already bought a sticky toffee pudding and 3 bags of sweets for dessert) and went for the Sisciliana (sausage, peppers and balsamic onions) and the Chorizo (chicken, chorizo and peppers). The pizzas were delicious and doughy, which is just how I like them!

5. Flowers

Because Chloe is an absolute babe, she bought us fresh flowers for the house when she came round. I've absolutely loved having flowers in the lounge and feel like they make that room look a lot more homey. It's encouraged me to keep flowers in the house, espeically now the weather is a bit brighter and sunnier - and I haven't managed to kill them yet which is always a bonus!

6. Sunny Sunday's

On Sunday the weather automatically lifted my mood and I felt happy and motivated all through the day. I'd arranged to meet up with my friend Jacinta (owner of Made In Cheshire) at The Garden in Hale. We sat outside in the sunshine and had a lovely long catch up over healthy banana and cacao smoothies. Definitely going to be more of a regular occurrence.


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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review | The English Lounge

Last month I was invited to 'The English Lounge' in Manchester, to review their new menu. The restaurant is on High Street, on the edge of the Northern Quarter and has recently undergone a complete transformation making it a lighter, airier pub in a thriving district of Manchester.

I must have walked past The English Lounge a hundred times without ever being in before, so when I was invited down I was very intrigued at what it had to offer.

I'm not massively fussy when it comes to food, but I know that pubs sometimes don't have the best reputation for serving a stand-out meal (unless they're all poncy and class themselves as a 'gastro pub') but I'm always up for trying a new place.

When we walked inside, I was amazed at how busy it was downstairs in the bar area (I say amazed but it was 6pm on a bank holiday weekend...) When we moseyed in a little further, I definitely felt like we were the youngest couple in there - but what do you expect from a Manchester local?

When I noticed that no one was eating food downstairs (so inquisitive) we made our way up to the first floor where the whole atmosphere felt more relaxed and restaurant-like. We asked Phil at the bar if we were on a particular table, and he showed us to a reserved one by the window.

He was really attentive, offering to take our coats and bringing us the menus straight away. I had a pornstar martini (recommended by him) to drink, and Jordan went for an Estrella (which apparently was a good one because it was very fizzy... who knew eh?!)

I'd never usually pick a pornstar martini in a bar (mainly because they're usually the most expensive, and one of my worst hangovers was a result of too many) but this one was delicious and fruity and very easy drinking.

After a few minutes perusing the menu, Phil came back over to take our order (I won't lie... I had a cheeky look at the menu earlier in the day and knew pretty much exactly what I wanted) but I played it cool like a normal person...

For a starter we shared halloumi chilli bites (£4.75) and honey and balsamic chorizo (£5.75) both of which came on a wooden board with a side salad. The portions weren't huge, but they were enough to share, seen as I already knew I was having dessert. I noticed on the menu as well that you could share 3 of the starters for less than £11 which I would definitely do next time.

For a main, Jordan went extra fancy and got a sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce and chips, and I went for a pizza with steak and gorgonzola to try and match the fancy-ness. The pizza was definitely a take on a an artisan one, being all the rage at the moment, and was very enjoyable and for £9.75 was a reasonable price as well. I also tried a bit of the steak which was delicious - especially the sauce!

After another pornstar martini and beer, we moved on to dessert - as I mentioned, I already knew what I was having, and ordered the salted caramel chocolate fudge cake with ease. We opted for ice cream over cream (obvs) and shared it. I've had a lot of cakes in my time, and this was very good for a restaurant-standard dessert (opposed to something you'd get where they only serve cake).

Overall I really enjoyed The English Lounge - the atmosphere was good (maybe better for a slightly older crowd) the food was lovely and very well priced compared to walking 10m down the road into the Northern Quarter. I would recommend if you were out and about in Manchester already and maybe looking for a chilled place to get a decent meal.


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Thank you to The English Lounge who treated us to a complimentary meal for 2. All views are my own. 
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