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A perfect Paris stay: Hotel Adèle et Jules

Sweaty, tired and hungry, I scramble off the Eurostar and into the cosmopolitan jungle of the Gare du Nord. There’s a whiff of coffee and pastries in the air and signs are plastered everywhere instructing you not to get in a fake taxi (sounds dodge whatever it is). Amidst the chaos I head for the sortie – suitcase, sunhat and boyfriend in tow. Once out and onto the streets of Paris, we decide to walk to Hotel Adèle et Jules*. It’s only 15 minutes away, and although our backs are already dripping in the 36 degree heat, we’d rather that than struggle on the metro where there’s a 90% chance our camera/phones/sunhats will be stolen (not the sunhats!).

As we get closer, the streets turn quieter, the air seems cleaner, and the buildings are prettier. It’s hard to believe you’re moments away from the hustle and bustle of the Gare du Nord. Just around the corner from Bouillon Chartier and tucked down a side street, we find Hotel Adèle et Jules. The cobbled street is tree-lined, tranquil and traditionally Parisian. It’s a welcome moment of peace amid the frantic French streets, and we both breathe a sigh of relief. We’re offered a tea or coffee as soon as we walk in (Mum, is that you?) and we await our room in the cosy, but quirky living room.

Having struggled across Paris with our luggage, we are relieved to be shown to our room: a Boulevard Club complete with wrought iron balcony. The bed is huge, the pillows are perfect, and the air-conditioning is a godsend. I start snapping while my boyfriend enjoys a complimentary coffee on the balcony, then the bed, then the sofa (one must try all the furniture in one’s hotel room). Leaning out of the balcony I imagine I’m in a film by Jean-Luc Godard: my hair wafting effortlessly in the wind as I elegantly sip on a glass of vin rouge dancing to Edith Piaf – until bam – I stub my toe on a plant pot and I’m back to reality. I wake my snoring boyfriend and clip my toenails (did Brigitte Bardot do this?).

Hotel Adèle et Jules has everything you need for a weekend stay. There’s a simple but delicious continental breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea and an honesty bar downstairs in the evening. It’s perfect if you like a hotel away from the main drag, but minutes from the main attractions. The décor is sophisticated and stylish with a modern French twist and you will undoubtedly get a good night’s sleep (not likely if you pick a hotel along the Champs Elysées). Although important to see the sights, Paris is a city for pausing: grab some bread and cheese and take it all in while sat on your balcony – just try not to stub your toe.

*This stay was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

 

 

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An Evening with Plymouth Gin

 

An evening with Plymouth Gin. Could a better sentence ever be spoken?

Dotted with elegant grey planters filled with pretty pink begonias, the Plymouth Gin Garden bar at The Wigmore was the perfect setting for a summer’s evening cocktail masterclass. A long table was set with test tubes, pipettes, funnels and decanters – reminiscent of Miss Crispin’s year 8 science class where my friend Hayley Cropper set fire to her eyebrows. Obviously no eyebrows were harmed at The Wigmore, and it was much more fun than learning about magnesium. Mainly because – gin.

We were given a tasting map to work out which of the botanicals were our favourites. We sniffed lemon peel, orange peel, cardamom pods, juniper berries and coriander seeds, all of which form the basis of Plymouth Gin. But blah, blah, blah, sniff as much as you want, we all know that I was there for the TASTING. Like any spirit, on an initial sip, it tasted like alcohol. But, with a little water added, I was surprised to taste the actual botanicals I’d spent the last 10 mins sniffing!

When it came to making our own gin I was convinced I was going to be a perfectionist. I wanted to mix the exact proportion of distilled lemon peel, with the right quantity of orris root (a binding agent) complemented with a tinyyyy dash of distilled coriander. But then I watched my boyfriend sloshing a bit of this and a bit of that all over the bloody place and that looked much more fun. The point is guys, I made my own Plymouth Gin!

I don’t know how I’ve got this far and NOT mentioned the lab coats – omg. We got to wear lab coats, with Plymouth Gin on the back, and I felt like an actual distiller, if that’s a job, I don’t even know, but basically: lab coats.

I’m not sure this is possible, but learning about it actually made me like Plymouth Gin even more. It was so interesting hearing about how it’s produced and now I desperately want to visit Plymouth and do a distillery tour. But only if I can wear a lab coat again and taste some more gin.

 

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Crabtree and Evelyn: Gardener’s Collection

 

As a gardener my hands are rough, cracked and permanently covered in mud. I’ve ALWAYS got dirt under my shellac (what a nightmare), and they’re as flaky as Mary Berry’s special recipe flaky pastry. Gross. So after a good old session of picking the powdery mildew leaves off my courgettes, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and give my hands a good old going over. And that’s where Crabtree and Evelyn’s Gardener’s Collection* comes in.

I cover my hands in the beautiful Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener’s Hand Scrub to really get rid of all the dirt and grime. (I even sometimes use an actual nail brush #oldschool) Combined with water, the pumice in it is super gentle and doesn’t feel like you’re taking off a layer of skin with the dirt, like some exfoliators do.

Then to finish off, a good old squirt of the Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener’s Body Lotion soothes and softens the hands. After a session in the garden, my Grandpa and I will regularly go through this routine together. And despite his initial concern that it would compromise his masculinity, the fragrance is so delicate and unisex, that he didn’t complain once.

The subtle fragrance of garden herbs and the soothing honey extract makes Crabtree and Evelyn’s Gardener’s Collection the only products perfect for your post-weeding pamper.

*These items were complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

 

 

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Photo Diary: My Best Friend’s Farm Wedding

My beautiful best friend got married recently, on her farm, in a true country-wedding style.

We drank champagne on hay bails, I had gysophila in my hair, and the married couple left on a tractor! It couldn’t have been more perfect for Hannah, who’s lived on a farm since she was born. My favourite touch was the wellies filled with wildflowers that lined the marquee, and for the wedding breakfast we even ate a ploughmans.

I’ve shared some photos below because I couldn’t resist you seeing what a gorgeous day it was.

 

 

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Room2 Hometel: a home from home

I don’t stay in hotels that often. The main reason for that is the cost of eating out. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slap-up meal as much as the next person, but when you’re eating scallops and steak every night, my lorrrrd does it cost a fortune. Staying in a hotel is a glorious experience for a night or two, but I find if you’re there any longer, I’m desperate for an apple and my bank balance is dead. But that’s the beauty of Room2 Hometel: every room has a kitchenette so you have the luxury of a gorgeous hotel and the comfort of your own home!

Although slightly odd staying in a hotel 30 seconds down the road from your flat (why not lol), Room2 gave me a completely different view of Southampton. My Master Loft room* overlooked the park, making me feel as if I was hanging out on a leafy street in New York. The huge windows flooded the room with evening light as I cooked a courgette and garlic spaghetti dish for dinner (peng), and it was super chilled sitting on the cobalt sofa watching the world go by while my spaghetti bubbled away. The rooms are huge, the bed linen soft and the bathroom spotless. It’s like being at home with a touch more luxury.

Perfect for a business trip away, Room2 is ideal for those that cba to sit in a restaurant with 100 other business men and eat a curry on their own. It is ideal for culinary wizards who enjoy cooking while travelling. The Master Loft room even had a mezzanine level with an extra double bed so it easily sleeps 4. I’m thinking girls weekend away – amiright?

It’s the added touches that make Room2 feel so unique: a recipe book on the kitchen counter, the slogan mugs hanging above the sink, the Southampton postcards on a pin board. These are the details that make your room feel more like a home than a budget hotel. After all, home really is a feeling. 

*This hotel stay was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

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Réalisation Par dupe ruffle dress

Réalisation Par is the fashion brand of the now and, along with 40 million other bloggers, I bloody love it. However, beaut dresses come at a ‘gotta-work-40-hours-for-one-dress’ price tag, and that I don’t love so much.

It has been my mission this summer to find the best dupe dresses on the high street and ta-dah – I’ve found the best one!

Good old Glamorous and Asos: they’re like friends that never cancel, they never let you down. This absolute beauty has just enough ruffle, a tasteful print, a corset bust and a much nicer price of only £30.

Paired with a denim jacket and some simple summer sandals, it’s the perfect day dress (worn without a bra too yasssss).

Have you found any other Réalisation Par dupes?! If so please share with the team and leave them in the comments below!

Glamorous Cami Dress with Ruffle Straps in Ditsy Berry Print can be bought on Asos for £30 here!

 

 

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Christchurch Harbour Hotel: seaweed, sea breeze and salt scrub

There is something glorious about sitting in a fluffy white robe, eating a mango and avocado salad and having mud rubbed into your scalp by a stranger. Theresa May should actually make it an official, annual public holiday thang: ‘Spa Day’ (lol obvious). I’m sure the general population would be much happier.

Spa days are magical occasions aren’t they? And they’re even more magical when along with all of the above, you add a sea breeeeze. The Christchurch Harbour Hotel is perched right on the water so you can practically paddle a canoe out to sea from your bedroom window (how fun!). But why would you want to go to all that effort when you can laze around in the HarSpa hideaway* watching the Harbour Hotel world go by?

A relaxing back pamper is a must. First, you’re smothered in an exfoliating HarSpa Lime and Lemongrass scrub which gently exfoliates your back (and feet btw, I think I frightened my masseuse I was so ticklish). Then warming aromatherapy oils are used to settle you in to an hour long massage. It is divine, and you leave the treatment room feeling as if you’re floating.

Of course the pool, sauna, steam and salt rooms are wonderful, but what really makes the Christchurch Harbour Hotel stand out is the beautiful hideaway area. Its luxury lounging furniture looks out over the water and it’s shaded beneath the trees. You could happily while away the day reading a good novel in the dappled light.

This was my first ever proper blogger lunch** so I nearly squealed in delight when I saw the beautiful table decorated by the wonderful Some Kind of Lovely Events. Seashells, wild grasses and HarSpa candles made the occasion extra special, and don’t even get me started on the lunch. Chickpea and edamame salad, tuna and mango salad, quinoa and carrot salad, beetroot and berry smoothie, cacao and avocado mousse and crispy seaweed. I. Am. Salivating.

When it was all over I genuinely felt like a new woman: refreshed, revitalised, reborn etc. All I wanted to do was take a tiny bit of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel with me. And no, I didn’t steal a coconut like at the last press event I went to… (I’d had a couple of wines). The HarSpa products are perfect for a ‘spa at home’. I’ve honestly been sitting at work with Purity Eye Patches on and a Sweet Fig Bay handcream in my handbag.

Whether you want a coastal break away, or a pamper session at home, the Christchurch HarSpa is the one. Christchurch is the perfect location to get away from it all, and you’ll soon forget your worries when you smell that sweet sea breeze combined with the Marine Salt Scrub.

 

*N.B. This hideaway = VERY different to the Love Island hideaway.

**This Spa Day was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for full details.

 

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Taste of London: a foodie festival

Firepits, flowers and free chickpea puffs: Taste of London needs to be in your summer festival calendar.

As soon as I walked into the Regent’s Park festival, my tastebuds were tingling with the smell of Bao Buns, Barrafina’s tapas, and a mezze from Meraki. The firepit exuded a thick, smoky smell of bbq ribs which can be nicely washed down with a gin from the Sipsmith stand. Or maybe a Tanqueray?

I am the worst person with food. I’m one of those people that always has loads of small dishes. I want to try EVERYTHING. And that is the beauty of this festival. If you’re a greedy pig like me, you can have sushi with curry, a macaron with an ice cream, a vegan wrap with a burger. There are no rules, just make sure you turn up hungry!

You spend yourself recognising restaurants you ‘haven’t got round to trying’, or eateries that are the other side of London. But because they’re all in one place, you can try what you like and decide what’s worth going back to. (in my opinion, all of them) My friend Lauren and I snacked on a Sri Lankan kotu with paneer, something she’d been meaning to have since she got back from living there.

So you don’t spend your whole day eating (I’m not judging), you can sign up to a Laurent Perrier masterclass or maybe make a salad with the Regent’s Park allotment. Of course we parked ourselves by the Mirabeau rosé and treated ourselves to a frosé each.

If you love food (if you don’t, get off ma blog) you need to make sure you keep this weekend free. Because why wouldn’t you want to do a champagne masterclass while eating a hot dog?

Taste of London will be back for Winter, 15-18 November at the Tobacco Dock, book your tickets here

 

 

 

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The Ivy Winchester Brasserie: Scallops, steak and a bottle of Sauvignon

Let me introduce you to the most delicious chips on the planet. Chips that do not compare to any other chips, chips that are in a league of their own, chips that are covered in a parmesan and truffle sauce and are SO good you will have to be rolled out of the restaurant.

These aren’t just any chips, these are The Ivy Winchester Brasserie* chips.

On a summer’s evening, what could be nicer than being greeted with an English Spritz cocktail sitting outside on Parisian-style chairs, with Winchester Cathedral’s bells twinkling away in the background?

The location is perfect: slap bang on the high street, so if you need to pop to Boots between courses then you can. I don’t think I’ve ever received such flawless service, the waiting staff made me feel like a Queen and couldn’t do enough to help, but also didn’t keep asking how our meal was every 5 minutes, ya get me? The interior of The Ivy Winchester Brasserie is classy, sophisticated and has a touch of Art Deco, reminiscent of the period during which the brand launched in 1917.

When you think of a goat’s cheese salad, you think a couple of iceberg lettuce leaves with some goat’s cheese, and maybe a thick slice of cucumber plonked on top if you’re lucky? Oh nooo, this beauty (first image below) had caramelized hazelnuts, it had pickled grapes, and don’t even get me started on the Belgian endive (I had to google it too)! The scallops were butter in my mouth, perfectly complemented with a pea purée and crispy shallots for texture, and the lamb special I devoured was divine.

The whole evening was perfect and couldn’t be faulted. (This was possibly due to the bottle of Sauvignon we happily finished during the meal but I’m 99% sure it was marvellous anyway.) The Ivy Winchester Brasserie is the place to go for a ‘special’ evening out; there’s an air of celebration about it, but having said that I am definitely going to be popping back just for those chips.

The Ivy Winchester Brasserie is open now for bookings go to www.theivywinchester.com

*This meal was gifted for the purpose of review. For full details see disclaimer for full details.

 

 

 

 

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Why YOU should try gardening

Whether it’s seeds, sunflowers or slugs (actually not slugs), I bloody love gardening. From potting on my cosmos to weeding the vegetable patch, the more I get out in the garden, the happier I am. I realise, however, that this isn’t the most usual of hobbies for a 26 year old woman. But ever since I can remember, I’ve just loved being in the garden. When I was at uni, I spent my student loan on a clematis and trellis – TRUE STORY.

I remember going on holiday to Spain one year and every street had a waterfall of geraniums trickling down the front of the orange walls. It was so overwhelmingly stunning, that I decided to create it at home. In Reading. Lol.

I persuaded my mum to pay £4.99 postage for ‘100 FREE bright orange bulb selection’ (her least favourite colour) and she gave me a small patch of the front garden. A couple of months later and the patch was transformed into a meditarreanean Spanish vision! Orange gladioli stood tall and proud, while delicate nemesias blew gently in the wind.

Since then, I’ve never stopped growing. (my plants that is, otherwise I’d be very tall…)

Here are five reasons why YOU should get out there and give it a go.

You get to eat your own fruit and veg

There is nothing nicer than sitting down to dinner knowing that you grew 90% of the produce on your plate. That courgette wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you! And pesticides? Pssssh, forget them mate. Can your courgette BE any more organic?

You spend more time outside

We are the indoor generation. Sat in front of a screen 24/7, sending emails to strangers and then waiting for replies from strangers. You go home, switch on the TV, watch TV, go to bed, look at phone, scroll on phone, go to sleep. Is this life? Gardening forces me to get outside! And in my opinion, those lovely sunny evenings are wasted if you’re sat indoors.

It’s therapeutic

We all know gardening is relaxing. Wafting about looking at waterlilies, listening to the woodpecker ‘peck, peck pecking’ away at the silver beech, picking a wild strawberry from beneath the sweet peas, popping it in your mouth and then BLOODY HELL, SLUG! All jokes aside though, I find it good for the soul to have a little wander in the garden now and then. You know those apps that force you to stop, breathe and meditate? The garden does that for me. It’s like my mindfulness.

It’s satisfying

I challenge you to find another living human being who isn’t a tincy bit excited that a seed they planted from an apple has grown into a tiny shoot. How difficult is it to plonk a seed in some soil? And then two weeks later, bam: new life, ahhhhh! I am Mother Nature.

Gardens are beautiful

Why do you think we spent 45 minutes putting our make-up on every day? Cause we want to look nice. Why do you think I spend 45 minutes potting on stocks every day? Cause I want the garden to look nice. Does anyone NOT enjoy a beautiful garden?* I don’t understand how you can’t!? Even if you have NO interest in gardening and don’t know ANY plant names. So what?! They’re so lovely to visit and it gives me pleasure seeing other people enjoying them.

*soz to all you hay-fever sufferers out there…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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