Sunday, 8 December 2013

Millenium Bailey's Hotel, London: A short review


It wasn't long ago that I took a weekend trip to London and stayed in this hotel for a couple of nights. The staff were nice enough to give a complementary room due to my boyfriend working with the hotel quite often, as he works in the travel industry. Located in South Kensington, the Millennium Bailey's is close by to the Gloucester Road tube station.

As soon as I got out of the Gloucester Road tube station, I saw the hotel straight away and was very impressed. The hotel was lit up and wasn't even a minute's walk from the tube station, making it really ideal for people planning on staying in London who are looking to travel to different areas during their stay. It is also very close to the National History Museum - a brilliant museum that is definitely worth a visit. We took a trip there along with the Science Museum, and spent a few hours doing the different experiments that get very addictive! Even though the hotel is very central, the rooms were very quiet meaning that you get a very peaceful nights sleep.

After walking through the entrance, I loved the interior straight away; the grand staircase, beautiful chandelier and intricate architecture overall gives a very 'British' feel to the hotel, along with a hugh flower arrangement of fresh lilies which really adds to the decor.


When entering the room, I was really impressed with the size, as it was very large in comparison to the other hotels that I have previously stayed in at London, and most impressively, they had some truffles on the table for us - a lovely touch.

We had breakfast both days which was great as they had everything there that you want from a breakfast - full english, along with pastries, fruit, cereal and juices. We also had a meal at the 'Olive's' restaurant which was equally as nice, serving fresh Italian food. The food from this restaurant can also be ordered from your room, and the menu can be found here.

While we were in London, we visited museums, as mentioned, Southbank Christmas market, Covent Garden and, of course, Harrods. The Christmas lights at Harrods were amazing - the picture below definitely doesn't do it justice!






Overall, I had a brilliant stay in London, and the staff, food, cleanliness and design of this hotel make it one of my top choices of London hotels.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Zorbing...






It wasn't long ago when I was invited to go zorbing for my friends hen party. At the time I had no idea what it was but said that I would go along; little did I know that it would involve being strapped inside a large, plastic ball and being pushed down a hill!

You may, or may not, have heard of zorbing. For those of you that don't know, it basically involves rolling down hill in a large, transparent orb. As you can see from the images, the orb fits two people that are strapped in by velcro sitting opposite each other, with one person going backwards and the other going forward. From my experience it is well worth trying, even if you just have a go the one time. I would also recommend going backwards - far less painful and more enjoyable! It could be quite painful as the orb rolls over bumps in the ground when going forwards, as you are going head first, rather than feet first! But apart from that it really is a great experience.

I think this is a great activity for hens/stags, as it's something a bit different and it's something that everyone will always remember. A lot of Outdoor Centres provide this activity, along with many others such as paint balling, archery, etc.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Southbank Christmas market






Last weekend I took a trip to the Christmas market at Southbank, London, a German-style market feature 80 wooden chalets. A great place to go to get in the spirit of Christmas, with the chalets being filled with festive drink and food as well as a wide variety of gifts, from jewellery to candles. The setting is gorgeous, being right alongside the river Thames, close to the London Eye and opposite Big Ben, meaning that you get all of the pretty London views too.

Some of my favourite stands are shown in the images, with them being the gingerbread house, the star lampshades and the copper wire jewellery stand, from which I bought myself a turquoise ring.












 

Overall this was a great experience - perfect to get into the Christmas spirit and atmosphere. The market was very similar to the German market in Leeds, of which I go to every year - the main difference being that the Southbank market was missing the beer tent, one of the main attractions in the Leeds German market. There are some other great events at Southbank too, which can found found on their website. I love the look of the chocolate festival as well as the designers/makers Christmas market.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Top five places to eat in York




Having lived in York for almost a year now and being a big fan of great food, I have definitely got a few favourite places to eat here. One thing that I do love about York is the wide variety of places to eat - there's always somewhere to go no matter what type of food you fancy; whether it's a traditional pub meal or something more adventurous.

So, here's my top five in no particular order.


Russels

Although this has some bad reviews online, I have been here several times and have always enjoyed the food. The carvery is fairly more expensive that what I would usually pay, but the atmosphere is great with a lot of space. It's a great place to go if you fancy a roast dinner, as they are served every day of the week!


Meltons Too

Meltons Too is a great place to go if you fancy some traditional high quality food, or if you are going for some drinks with friends and fancy some tapas. The menu often depends on what products are in season, and for this reason the food is always at its best.


Khao San Rd

This is the best Thai restaurant that I have ever been to. The food is really great, the staff are very friendly providing great service no matter how busy they are, and the interior is lovely. Having been there several times now, it is definitely one of my favourite places to eat. I would recommend the duck thai red curry - I have tried a range of meals and this is definitely my favourite one there.




Images: Duck Thai Red Curry and Steamed King Prawn Starters


Mumbai Lounge

This is definitely the best place to go if you fancy some Indian food. Along with great reviews, this restaurant serves the best Indian food that I have ever tasted. I generally stick to a chicken korma and peshwari naan when I have an Indian, and this was by far the best that I have ever tasted. The service is great too, and although the prices are fairly expensive for an Indian restaurant, it is definitely worth paying that bit extra for the quality that you get here.


Cafe Concerto

Cafe Concerto is situated in a great location, being opposite the Minster, and the interior has a 'music' theme, with violins hanging on the walls, and music sheets used as wallpaper. It has a really great vibe, and is a brilliant cafe to go to for some breakfast or lunch. They do some amazing cakes and desserts too!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Recipe: Vegetable lasagne

Here's my favourite lasagne recipe. Feel free to swap the veg for meat, or even just use alternate vegatables. I'm a massive fan of peppers and onions which is why this is my favourite, and I personally prefer veggie lasagnes to meat ones.

Serves 6. If dining for two, then freeze other portions.

Ingredients

3 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
1 green pepper
3 onions
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little for greasing
tomato sauce (see below for recipe)
pack of lasagne sheets
white sauce (see below for recipe)
125g grated cheese
black pepper




Method

1. Prepare onions and peppers by slicing into small chunks. 

2. Heat oil in frying pan, and add peppers and onions. Fry for around 10 minutes until softened. 

3. Preheat oven to 180C. 

4. Mix together the peppers and onions with the tomato sauce. 

5. Lightly oil an ovenproof dish and arrange a layer of the pepper and onion mixture on the bottom. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets, then drizzle over a third of the white sauce. Repeat this process, making 2 layers of lasagne sheets.

6. To finish, spoon remaining white sauce over the pasta, making sure the whole surface is covered. Bake for 25 mins. Add grated cheese and cook for a further 20 minutes until bubbling and golden. 

7. Serve with black pepper.


To make white sauce:

Melt 45g of butter in a saucepan and stir in 45g of plain flour. Cook for 2 mins. Slowly whisk in 400ml of milk, then bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down the heat and cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Sauce can be cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, or it can alternatively be frozen.


To make tomato sauce:

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. Add 2 onions, finely chopped and 2 garlic cloves, sliced. Cook for 10 mins until softened. Stir in 2 tbsp tomato purée and cook for 1 min. Pour over 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes and add 1 tbsp of dried basil. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Leave to cool and blend in a food processor.



The finished result (per portion):



This is great served with some homemade garlic bread.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review: Paris Fashion Week


With Paris Fashion Week 2013 recently coming to an end,  I decided to share my favourite Spring/Summer 2013 collections with you. I have loads of favourites from Paris Fashion Week, however, I though I would be sensible and limit this to three!





On the penultimate day of the spring/summer 2014 collections, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli from Valentino presented 73 looks, with each one being more and more amazing than the next. After browsing through the collections at Vogue, I really am jealous of anyone that was given the opportunity to watch the show!

This is probably one of my favourite Valentino collections that I have seen. It isn't usually one of my favourites, but for this season it is probably at the top. It is both ethnic and romantic; very in-keeping with the brand, but along with that, each piece has such a high level of craftsmanship weaved into it. This beadwork and folksy embroidery is of a couture level. Taking inspiration from a Rome Opera workshop, the duo definitely interpreted the grand scale opulence, along with some simple, elegant lines such as a crisp white shirt. Contrasting this, there are many crafted suede designs, tasselled seams, the finest and most sheer lace along with concertina pleats, with pieces such as fringed ponchos, long-sleeved gowns and oversized capes. Along with this, the collection remains youthful, with accessories being very young such as flat sandels and studded leather alice bands. This is a truely amazing collection.





Elie Saab has always been one of my favourite designers as his collections are always a very high standard and remain inkeeping with each one. With the usual fabrics such as chiffons and silks, the Spring/Summer 2014 collection is definitely just as good as the last. Sweeping embellished gowns along with jewel colours of fuschia, salmon pink and emeral were presented in this collection. Contrasting this very ladylike feel, there are also all-black silk and lace, tiered looks within this collection, giving a darker, sexier edge. There are quite a few contrasting looks within the collection, with others being a younger look, with bold pink and green florals featured on some of the pieces, as well as a more disco feel, with one look consisting of a smothering of sequins. These contrasting looks update the collection, whilst still having some of the usual key pretty, ladylike looks presented throughout.

As always, I am a big fan of the collection, with the images showing some of my favourite looks.




This collection I just came across as I was browsing through the Paris collections, and I just fell in love with the silhouettes - cinched in waists giving a very ladylike feel. Véronique Leroy features full-skirted dresses with swooping midcalf hemlines that are played against thigh-skimming miniskirts.

Along with these contrasting silhouettes, fabrics are also very contrasting, with PVC and patent leather played against nubby tweed and spongy terry cloth. Throughout the collection, she demonstrated a mastery of cut and proportion that made her hemlines look equally appealing - this is one of the things I love about the collections. Colours were kept simple, making the focus purely on the cut and silhouette.

Images from Vogue.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Recipe: Lamb meatballs with rosemary tomato sauce

Above: my lamb meatball dish using this recipe


One of my favourite recipes, this dish is great to have during the week or even cook for friends. If
cooking for 2 people, then I always cook the meal for 4, then freeze half the meatballs in the sauce - making it a quick ready meal for during the working week.

Here is the ingredients and recipe for this dish - as you can see it's very straightforward and easy for anyone to cook!

This recipe serves 4 people, and takes roughly 45 minutes (including preparation).

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
250g lamb mince meat
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp dried rosemary
400g pasta, cooked, to serve
black pepper

For the sauce:
4 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
(could be dried rosemary)
If fresh, leave extra to sprinkle,
shown in the picture
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

Recipe:

1. To make the meatballs, mix minced meat with dried herbs (rosemary and mixed herbs) in a mixing bowl. Shape into 12 meatballs.

2. Heat 1tsp of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add meatballs and cook until browned on each side. Remove from pan.

3. Top onions into the pan along with the remaining oil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for an extra 2 minutes.

4. Add tomatoes and then add the meatballs back into the frying pan. Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

5. Season with black pepper and serve with pasta. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary.


There are approximately 311 calories per serving, so it's not too bad for you either! I always buy lean minced meat in order to ensure it's as healthy as possible.

An alternate method would be to use beef minced meat, and replace the rosemary with basil.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Being a bridesmaid...



So, just over a week ago I was given the honour of being a bridesmaid for one of my oldest friends from school. This really was an amazing day - everything was perfect, and for this reason I am sharing some of my photographs with you. Please excuse the camera - they were taken on my boyfriends Samsung Galaxy s3, so aren't the best quality! I can't wait to take a look at some of the professional photographs.

The theme of the wedding was vintage, with sage green, pastel pink and cream colours. They got married at the church in my home village (Long Sutton, Lincolnshire), and the reception was at a beautiful converted barn, pictured above. It was a great setting as it was so personalised, with handmade bunting, fairy lights and handmade jars of sweets for each guest - it just fitted the theme of the wedding perfectly.

The wedding was such as lovely day catching up with old friends, and it was such a great moment driving to the church together - seen it the last picture in the post. I hope you enjoy the pictures and they inspire you when coming up with your own wedding plans :)








Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Turquoise love...



Bedding, Anthropologie

One of my favourite colours at the moment is turquoise, and after discovering the blog, House of Turquoise, I decided to look around for some turquoise bits and bobs to decorate my bedroom (it is definitely due a bit of a revamp!). This blog is definitely a great starting point to get some inspiration as I love turquoise, and would love to decorate my room with a theme in this colour along with some shades of cream as well as the odd darker blue tone. I have already began buying some new bath sheets and matts in a lime green and turquoise colour in order to add some colour to the bathroom (pictured below), showing my love for the colour! Some of my favourite pieces that I have come across whilst having a browse for bedroom inspiration are pictured in this post.

Anthropologie is a great shop for bedding and bits for the home, and the bed set pictured above is one of my favourites that I have seen so far. Although it is quite pricey, I love the design so I may just have to invest in it, or alternatively find a cheaper option! Either way, some lovely bedding is the perfect way to start a bedroom revamp.





Turquoise Chandelier, Outer Banks Trading Group

This chandelier is well out of my price range, but is really lovely, featuring two of my favourite colours for the home at the minute. If you can afford it, then it's definitely worth the investment as it's a great way to add some bold colour to a room, whilst making it a key feature too. With this, you could keep the rest of the room quite basic in order to make a statement with it.  I'm sure there are some cheaper alternatives around, so I will definitely be on the lookout. It's just so pretty...



Quilted Throw, NowandThenQuilts, Etsy

Another great piece of bedding - the throw pictured above is actually designed for a baby's bedroom, however, I wouldn't mind it for my room! Quilted bedding is everywhere at the moment - it makes me want to sit and make some myself as it can be quite pricey, and although it would be quite time consuming to make, it would definitely be very cheap compared to buying a ready-made quilted throw. At some point when I have a bit more time I will definitely consider it, as it also gives you the options to pick your own fabrics and patterns. Another lovely addition to a bedroom, this quilted throw really inspires me to make my own. It also means that you could just buy some plain cream/white bedding, making the throw the key feature of the bed.


Set of 9 cushions, ginette1223, Etsy

These cushions would look great scattered over a very plain bed. I love scattered cushions, whether its on a sofa or a bed, and these are really pretty designs with a nice range of colours. After looking around, I think I really need to focus on what I would like the main feature of the room to be - whether that be the bedding, the throw, the cushions, etc.  I really don't want it to look too much of a complete mish-mash, and there needs to be some simple aspects to it. A lot of decisions need to be made before I start buying or making...

Monday, 16 September 2013

Best bits from London Fashion Week so far...

With London Fashion Week closely coming to an end, I thought I would share a couple of my favourite collections with you from my favourite designers.






My favourite designer has always been Mary Katrantzou, with her designs being very print-focussed and bold. Her spring/summer 2014 collection consisted of blown-up, detailed images of mahogany leather brogues; blog trainers with vinyl inserts; as well as evening mules. Cocktail mini dresses were engineered and fitted around the body, along with pleats and origami-like folds from the bust. The designer has built her name on hyper-coloured prints (with unusual subjects such as money, stamps, and decorative interiors)  - very bold and structured silhouettes, and you can see that she has kept in line with her usual theme for this collection. The images above show some of my favourite pieces from the collection.





Another one of my favourite designers is Matthew Williamson. As you can probably tell, I love prints! Focussing on prints and chiffon fabrics, Matthew Williamsons' prints consisted of dragonflies and daisies. Contrasting this, he has also taken on some polka dot prints which were printed onto structured shift dresses. Tailored silk trousers were combines with sheer silk blouses and, with dragonflies morphing into bolder graffiti prints. This collection is very soft and feminine, perfect for modernising a summer daytime look.

Other favourites include Peter Pilotto, Burberry Prorsum and Jonathan Saunders.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A review of the Schilthorn, Piz Gloria

 Above: View of the cable car, and village of Wengen on the opposite side of the valley.

Above: View of Murren from the cable car.

You may know from reading my other blog posts that I recently went to Switzerland, and one of my trips there included travelling to the Schilthorn, Piz Gloria, where the James Bond film, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service', was set.

The Schilthorn is a 2,970 metre high summit of the Bernese Alps, which overlooks Lauterbrunnen, a valley of which I have spoken about in my recent blog post. The Schilthorn lies above Murren (also spoken about in my recent post, as well as pictured below). In order to reach both Murren and the Schilthorn, you must travel via cable car which is a great experience. You can see parts of this journey in the photographs above.

At the Schilthorn, there is a panoramic view featuring the Monch, Eiger, Junfrau, as well as Mont Blanc, spanning over the Bernese Alps, the Jura Mountains, and all the way up to the Vosges Mountains and Black Forest.

 Above: Murren

Our journey involved getting a cable car from the valley of Lauterbrunnen to Grutshalp, and then a train on to Murren. The journey from there on involves getting a cable car to Mürren, which cannot be accessed any other way. From Mürren, another cable car is taken to Birg, and then from Birg to the Schilthorn. This journey is actually the longest and was the most technically challenging airway to be built. It is also possible to hike to the peak, however I would only recommend this to very experienced hikers!



 Above: Revolving Restaurant




The images above show the panoramic revolving restaurant, named Piz Gloria, which can be found at the summit, and is exactly where the James Bond movie was set. The restaurant revolves 360 degrees in 55 minutes. The food and drinks were very expensive, but it was a great experience sitting down along the edge of the restaurant whilst it is revolving, giving you views of every direction.







As you can see from the images, the views from the platform were really incredible - there were some clouds on the day that we went, yet we still had excellent views of the mountains. There are also walkways where you can walk along the mountains to get some more alternate views - I mostly stuck to the main paths though as I wasn't really wearing the correct footwear for this.

 Above: View of the Schilthorn from the cable car

For our journey down, we decided to take the cable car to Murren, and then walk from Murren to Lauterbrunnen. The views along the walk were really fantastic (shown below), however, it was an extremely tiring walk being such a steep trek (over 1000 metres height difference), and it took around 3 and a half hours. We didn't expect it to take this long and were wearing flip flops - not the best of ideas as we were aching for a few days after! Halfway through the walk we were regretting taking this hike as we were literally in the middle of forests in the boiling hot heat, however, looking back it was well worth the walk to get some different views and really take in the scenery.

 Above: Views from Murren

 Above: Views of Wengan

Above: Views of Wengen

Overall, the Schilthorn was a really fantastic day out - the journey there alone offered amazing views, as well as the views from the summit. This was definitely one of my favourite trips along with the Jungfraujoch.