Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Barton Bloggers

One of the things I love about blogging is the amazing people you meet along the way. I've gained some of my closest friends, been introduced to lots of incredible girl bosses and been inspired to follow my dreams in terms of my little space on the internet.

I've mentioned before that I am part of the We Blog MCR group, which is full of encouraging women from the Manchester area. They work closely with Six & Flow an inbound marketing agency based in Manchester, who emailed me a few weeks ago to see if I would be up for a day of discovering the Barton Arcade, which I said yes to.

The Barton Arcade is a glass arcade that links St. Anne's Square to Deansgate in the centre of Manchester. One of the main reasons I know of it is that my mum used to take me when I was younger to a clothes shop, which has now turned into STA travel, but if I'm honest, I haven't been through it in a good few years.

It's one of those places that is absolutely beautiful and does not get the recognition it deserves because there are no major brands there; instead, it is full of independent shops, restaurants, hairdressers, and cafes, which is a great reason in itself to visit. The aim of the day was to give the Barton Arcade a bit of a boost on our social channels and to run a competition throughout the day.

We met in the Six & Flow offices at 10.45am where I saw some familiar faces and met some lovely new ones. Just after 11, the whole group went down to Pot Kettle Black, directly below the offices. I'd seen the inside of the cafe a few times, as there was a photography workshop in there not too long ago, and it is perfect for getting those insta snaps.

We were welcomed by James, who showed us to a bit table directly in the middle. The inside of the place is lovely, with lots of windows and natural light coming in, big wooden tables, and white tiles. He took our drink order (a tea for me, obviously...) and came back about 5 minutes later with plates of different items off the menu. I follow Pot Kettle Black on Instagram, so I was already well aware of the amazing food they did, but in real life, it was so much better.

We started being massive cliches and taking photos of everything before anyone had a bite: we had blueberry cheesecake french toast (which is actually making me salivate just thinking about) with a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich on a pretzel role, and N'duja baked eggs with smoked mozzarella and pecorino. The food was all amazing quality, really tasty and made for some very good Instagrams. We even got to share an espresso martini (I say share, but it was mainly me who drank most of it...)

After breakfast, we had a wander around the independent shops. The first one was Jeffrey West, a men's shoe brand, which had some beautiful pieces, but as we were all 20-something girls, none of us bought anything. Afterwards, we went into Jill Black, which had an eclectic mix of women's clothing, ranging from sequinned ball gowns to floaty, festival-wear. Although I am a sucker for buying new clothes, I restrained, and instead one of the other girls bought a lovely navy jumper.

We headed back up to the Six & Flow offices to drop off our bags and grab our cameras, before heading onto the roof. I'm a big fan of a roof terrace, and this one was really cool for photos, and the sun just happened to come out, which we took full advantage of. We did a few posed and candid snaps, before heading back down to Lunya.

I'm a big fan of tapas, and was really surprised that I hadn't been to Lunya before. Not only is the decor absolutely gorgeous and very authentic, but there is a deli as well which sells meats, cheeses and loads of other things. We were showed to our table upstairs and treated to a glass of wine. We got to chose three tapas off the menu - I went for pita and hummus, patatas bravas and the special, which was deep fried cod with bechamel sauce, all of which was delicious and one of the best Spanish meals I have ever had.

We were so full that we packed away some of what was left, and headed down to our hair appointment at Too Funky Hair. I'd never been to this salon before (mainly before I haven't had anything done to my hair for quite a long time...) but I had heard of them on social media. We were treated to a glass of prosecco as soon as we arrived, and were taken to our different stations and all the girls were so lovely. I had my hair blow dried and curled, and they did such a good job with this old mop!

With our fresh new do's, we headed to Be At One, which I'd never been to before, but had seen the last time I was in London. The bar was down a spiral staircase and looked ultra fancy when you walked in. Because it was happy hour, we were treated to two cocktails - I went for the Candy Pants; Kurant vodka, Chambord, lemon juice, strawberry puree and cranberry juice.

The day started to wind down here, with people bobbing off to their Saturday night plans. I went shopping with a couple of girls, but quickly found out that being tipsy in Boots was never going to end well...

If you're ever in Manchester, make sure you head down to the Barton Arcade to have a little visit of the shops there. There are some great eateries, individual sellers and a couple of brand names too.

Thank you to the Barton Arcade and Six & Flow for inviting me down - I had such a wonderful day!


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Monday, 26 June 2017

Weekly Love #25

I can't quite believe that we are nearing the end of June, and I have been doing these posts for the past six months. It's crazy!

This week had lots of ups and downs, but even in the darkest times, we still need to remember to find the light (slightly paraphrasing Albus Dumbledore there...)

1. Starting The Week In Paris

If you read last week's Weekly Love post, you would know that I spent that weekend in Paris, just after my birthday. We came back on Monday afternoon, so we had a bit of time there in the morning and just after lunch. We went up to the Sacre-Couer and had lunch in the sunshine, and even paid a quick trip to the Moulin Rouge before getting back to the hotel and picking up our bags. The Monday was definitely the hottest day we were there and Paris just looked so beautiful in the sunshine!

2. Everything Everything

On Tuesday night I went with my friend Phil to see Everything Everything at the Albert Hall in Manchester. It was the third time I'd seen them, and they didn't disappoint. They did a mixture of their older tracks and tried out some new ones with the crowd, which went down really well. I always love going to the Albert Hall as it is a really cool gig venue, although it can get quite stuffy so stand more towards the back where they have fans if you find yourself there in summer!

3. Reading

On Thursday morning, Jordan and I drove down to Reading to have a few days down south. I chose Reading over staying in London because a) I didn't fancy driving to the capital and b) Accor Hotels very kindly put us up in the Ibis, which had just been done up. We arrived mid afternoon and went out for a wander and found a beach bar with real sand, swings and amazing cocktails so we spent the next couple of hours there. I was really impressed with Reading overall, and would definitely recommend it if you're going down South, but would rather not pay London prices. Plus it is only 25 minutes on the train to London Paddington.

4. The Real Greek

Whilst in Reading, we made our first visit to The Real Greek where they had a training night on, and gave us 25% off, bonus! I absolutely love Greek food, and have always wanted to try this place when I'm in London but have always gone elsewhere. At the moment, they do not have any restaurants up north which is a real shame because the food was lovely. We shared about 7 different dishes, washed down with some house red, and it was absolutely delicious.

5. Ascot

One of the reasons that we went down south in the first place was because we were going to Ascot on the Friday. If you know Jordan at all, you will know that he is obsessed with horse racing, and I love any occasion where it is acceptable to day drink and dress up! We got the train from Reading about 12:15 pm and it was already heaving with rowdy (but lovely) southerners. We were in the new Village enclosure which has just opened for this year and is done out with a festival vibe - think bunting, a grandstand and loads of food vendors.

6. Bills Brunch

On the Saturday morning, feeling slightly worse for wear, we headed over to Bills for brunch. This was only my second time to Bills, but it is one of those restaurants that people always seem to go back to, and seen as though it was packed out, I knew we had made a good choice. I got smoked salmon, avocado and scrambled eggs (which easily could have fed 2) and Jordan got their famous buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which were divine!

7. Getting Back to Simba

I know this point is completely cringe, but if you are a pet owner, you will know how nice it is to get back to them after a few days away. Simba had been staying with my parents whilst we were in Reading, and I missed him so much! It was so nice to have him back home with us and having a chilled Saturday evening.

8. Family Sunday

On Sunday, we headed over to my auntie and uncle's house in Tarporley to have lunch with them. It had been a while since I had seen them or my cousins and it was really lovely to catch up. My auntie always knows how to put on a spread, and the food was lovely - and of course, I had two desserts! How can I say no?!


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Thursday, 22 June 2017

One Year On

I was umming and ahhing for days about whether to write this post, but I have always been a firm believer that getting your thoughts straight will help you in the long run, and make you realise how far you have come. And if anyone has ever been through something similar, then I want them to know you are doing incredibly well, even if you don't see it.

Yesterday marked the year anniversary that we sadly lost one of my best friends. It was the hardest day I have ever had to face, made even harder by the fact it was totally unexpected. This time last year felt not only as though a huge part of me was missing, but also that the wound of losing someone so close to you, would never heal.

To me, the wound is still very much there: In time, I have managed to stitch parts of it back together, helped massively by the support net I have around me; but from time to time the stitches break open, and I am left to relive the whole situation again.

It was and still is totally surreal that she isn't here: We were talking 10 minutes before, had seen each other two days before and were discussing plans for the summer. And within 24 hours, our lives had changed forever.

Because I never thought something like this would ever happen, I had no idea how to react. In many ways, I am still in denial that that fateful night ever happened and in my head I sometimes think I made the whole thing up; that everything will be perfect again when I wake up or that it was all a mistake.

I always said from the start that I hoped I would feel happy again, but it will always be a different kind of happy: A kind of happiness that is laced with feelings that one of the people you thought you would share your wedding day with, introduce to your children and have by your side throughout anything, will not be around.

In the last year so much has changed. I have made incredible friends, memories I will cherish forever, and come much further than I ever thought possible; but with this happiness comes overwhelming guilt. A remorse that one particular person won't be here to celebrate life's crazy rollercoaster of emotions with me. Someone that you thought was in it for the long run with you.

Something that has come out of this whole situation is my changed outlook on life. Although my anxiety and depression have been at a lifelong high, I have managed to reduce my fears in other areas, and live a whole lot kinder and compassionately. I still have a long way to go but my path is going in the right direction.

Unfortunately, we never know when our time will be up: Tell the people you love how much they mean to you; don't argue with your boyfriend over something that means nothing in the long run; leave a job if it is making you unhappy - life is too short not to grab each day as it comes and learn to appreciate all of the little things that you might ordinarily take for granted.

My best friend lived just like this. Nothing phased her - she was fearless, a breath of fresh air, always putting others before herself and never letting life get on top of her.

She is one of a kind.
A true shining star.
No life on earth would have been perfect enough.


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

Food | 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. 
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