Sunday, 10 December 2017

Drawing on tables over brunch | Sip & Tuck Colchester

Last weekend, me and my boyfriend found ourselves in Colchester town after a lazy morning, looking for somewhere to get some lunch. I'd seen a new cafe pop up locally on Instagram called Sip and Tuck, and was quite keen to give it a try, as it looked right up my street!

Situated on the corner of Queen Street, and right opposite the Castle entrance to the park, it's nestled away in the quieter end of town. A nice break away from the hustle and bustle, especially at this time of year with all the crazed Christmas shoppers!


The interior is very 'hipster' and has a bit of a school sports vibe to it, with some tables and seating made from gymnastics equipment - I found out afterward that the flooring in the building is actually from the Stratford Olympic Park, how cool is that? So you can sit and eat all of the cake whilst thinking about all the great Olympic achievements that have been made on that very same flooring, must zero out the calories somehow, right?

Their selection of cakes and pastries is unreal!

The real point of excitement for me, though - being the big kid that I am - has to be the chalkboard tables! So as soon as we'd finished deciding on what to order, we set about drawing each other whilst we waited.

I'm one of those people that gets irrationally hangry - much to Lewis' delight! - so having a little pre-food activity was a great distraction, haha.  

I opted for a hot chocolate - with all the trimmings, obvs - and avocado & bacon on toast. Basic blogger alert. And you can just about see Lewis' little portrait of my face peeking through... let's just say, I don't think either of us will be getting into portraiture anytime soon. 

The food was delicious, served up really quickly, and the vibe in there was really nice and laid back - but cosy too. I'm seriously regretting not having a cake whilst we were there, but at least I've got another excuse to go back!

If you're in Colchester doing some Christmas shopping, or if you live locally, I'd highly recommend popping in for some lunch or even just tea and cake. Their breakfast menu looked delicious, and they also had a few decent Vegan options available too.
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Thursday, 7 December 2017

You don't have to work in London to be successful | Defining success

Pretty much since I can remember, I've always been someone who is really career driven. When I was younger, I didn't think too much about whether or not I'd want a family in the future, whether or not I'd want to get married, or where I'd like to live. I was always just focused on one thing - my career.

I'm not entirely sure where this drive came from, but even at school, I was always someone who wanted to give 110% to everything I did. It wasn't until I was at University that this started backfiring on me. In my first year of Uni I went a liiiiittle bit overboard.


Your first year at Uni is already such a huge change. Moving to a new town, surrounding yourself with new people, starting a new course - which in itself comes with a million other little challenges

But I was really determined to push myself even further. I was studying Fashion Promotion, and it's common knowledge that Fashion probably has to be one of the most competitive industries, so I knew I needed to do as much as possible to set myself apart.

By the final semester of my first year at Uni I was working a part-time weekend job back in Essex - which I was having to commute back home to do - doing an internship in London, writing my own blog and completing my first year of University, whilst also trying to "adult" for the first time and maintain friendships. What happened next is no surprise really!

One day on my commute to London I came over feeling really unwell, I got off the tube and was walking to my office and I just felt like I was going to faint. I popped into Boots, bought a million and one healthy snacks to try and get some energy inside of me, and got into work. I spent the whole day feeling shaky, dizzy and absolutely drained. This was the start of my anxiety.

Unless you've ever experienced anxiety, you might not understand how bad the physical symptoms can be, but if you've ever come close to fainting - that is literally how I would feel every single time I had a panic attack. It was so frightening, as at the time I had absolutely no idea what was going on or why I felt this way!


Fast forward to my final year at Uni, and I'd managed to achieve much more of a balance. I was living at home, had left my part-time job, and just focused on my blog, my degree and gaining some industry experience here and there. I'd become better at juggling my workload.

During my final year of Uni I managed to blag (I say blag, merely because I still have no idea how I ended up there!) a Freelance role working at ASOS. It was an absolute dream come true, I'd wanted to work there for years and I couldn't believe it. The day I went for my interview & trial day felt so surreal, I felt so lucky.

But guess what? It wasn't for me. The commute made me feel exactly how I felt in my first year of Uni - albeit, not quite to the same extent luckily. But every single day I'd come home feeling absolutely drained and exhausted. I'd spend my entire commute on the tube an anxious wreck, and even when I got into the office I felt like I shouldn't be there. 
I hadn't even graduated yet - why did I deserve to be there?

It was here that my body was finally trying to tell me that I wasn't suited to a high-flying career in London. But of course, my brain took a little longer to happily accept and admit this. *Insert eye-rolling emoji here.*

How could I just overnight accept that something I'd dreamt of for years - a high powered job in the city - was something that I couldn't do? It felt like such a huge failure to admit that it just wasn't for me.

Since then, a whole 4 years later, I've managed to carve myself, what I'd still consider, a successful career, locally in Essex. I've still managed to work for big brands and big names, but within the confines of my comfort zone. I hate the term 'comfort zone' but it's the best way I can think to describe it. 


I still push myself outside my comfort zone from time to time, as that's the best way to learn and grow. But for me, I need an element of 'comfort' to be able to stay happy and - most importantly - sane!

For a long while now, all of this has got me thinking about success and our vision of what success is. To me, to be successful I had to have this high powered job up in London - no matter what else it cost me. But through experiences, I've learned that this isn't the only definition of success that exists. Sure, that is one version of being successful, but there are so many other routes and journeys to success.

Maybe you're about to graduate and are panicking about how quickly you'll be able to become your own version of "successful"? Or maybe you're forcing yourself to stay in a high-flying career or job because you think it's your idea of "success"? 

It's so important to remember that success can mean many things, and I don't think any of those meanings should have to involve you compromising your own health and happiness.
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Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Taste of the Caribbean in Colchester | Turtle Bay Launch Night

There's been a lot of buzz in Colchester recently, as it was announced earlier this year that three restaurants would be joining the high street - Wagamamas, Five Guys and Turtle Bay. Obviously, if you're a bit of a foodie like me then this is very exciting news! As much as I love a lot of the independent restaurants in Colchester, I definitely think we were in need of a little bit more variety.

Last Wednesday evening I was invited to the launch evening for Turtle Bay in Colchester. Having never visited a Turtle Bay restaurant before, I was really excited to find out more about the restaurant and try some of the Carribbean cuisine - something else I've never really tried!

Everyone I spoke to about Turtle Bay beforehand mentioned one thing - the cocktails!! And as someone who's a little bit partial to a cocktail, I was very excited to give those a try too.


When I arrived I was ushered straight over to the bar to sample a cocktail - not a bad start to an evening, hey! 
I was served a Reggae Rum Punch which was really fruity - definitely my kind of cocktail.

Soon after everyone arrived, and we'd all been given a tour of the restaurant, there was a brief talk letting us know more about the Turtle Bay chain of restaurants. I was excited to learn that they were started by the founder of Las Iguanas - as this is probably my favourite chain restaurant.

They spoke us through the delicious menu, and how the restaurant is inspired by chilled Caribbean beach vibes - something which is very much reflected in the layout and interior.

Next up, rum tasting!
We were told that they have over 48 different types of rum at their bar - who even know there was so many? - and we were given a coconut flavoured rum to sample.

With Turtle Bay offering 2 for 1 cocktails between 7 and 9pm, I'd encourage you to try as many of these 48 rums as you like. Afterall, in their words - drinking rum makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic!


We were shortly shown to our tables to start sampling the menu. 

Starters:
Seafood Platter

Main:
Sweet Potato, Aubergine & Spinach Curry (Vegan)
Jerk Chicken

Dessert:
Platter of desserts
(Cheesecake, brownie, sticky toffee pudding and bread pudding)


The food was incredible! Everything had so much flavour and it was really interesting to try new foods which I'd never had before, including Plantain. 

I opted for the Vegetarian Curry - which as a bonus is completely Vegan - and it was delicious. Full of flavour and really creamy. The Crispy Chilli Squid on the seafood platter was a highlight too. 

Thank you so much to Turtle Bay for inviting me to your launch evening, it was great to get a chance to try so many of the yummy options on your menu. I'll definitely back soon!

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Princess Charlotte, McMullen Brewery | Review

Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited down for a complimentary meal at the brand new Princess Charlotte pub opening in the upcoming Tollgate Village, in Stanway Colchester.

The pub is currently the first and only in the UK to be named after Princess Charlotte, which is a really sweet touch - as McMullens who own the chain of restaurants, also have a Prince George!

We were invited to enjoy a complimentary three-course meal as part of a training evening, a chance for all the staff to get into the swing of things and for the chefs to perfect the menu.

I took along Lewis and my parents - as they're both huge foodies and I just knew they (my Dad in particular!) would be very excited about the prospect of a free meal. We were all really pleasantly surprised when we arrived and were told we could literally choose anything off the menu.


The menu is really vast, they're part of the 'Chicken and Grill' chain owned by McMullens so chicken and steak are their specialities. However, they also have lots of delicious pub classics that you'd expect, such as Hunters Chicken and Pie and Mash. There's also a range of vegetarian and healthier options, perfect for when you're not feeling quite so indulgent! Take a look here.

We had a really lovely waitress, who was very chatty and talked us through the menu, pointing out things she personally recommended. Considering all the staff were brand new, you couldn't fault the service at all.



WHAT I ATE:
 Starters - Breaded mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise
Main - Californian Burger (with cheese, jalapeños and guacamole)
Dessert - Cookie Dough Sundae

The food was delicious! Portion sizes were absolutely huge, even my Dad and Lewis struggled to finish their burgers which is very very unusual. The prices were really fair too, so you definitely get value for your money. We couldn't decide between sundaes, so shared a Cookie Dough Sundae and a Cherry and Chocolate Brownie Sundae. The latter was definitely the best - it tasted just like a Costa Black Forest Hot Chocolate!

If you live in Stanway or Colchester, I'd definitely recommend paying the Princess Charlotte a visit! I live and work nearby, so am VERY happy to have another food option so close by. I can imagine I'm going to be spending a lot of sunny lunchtimes in the beer garden by next Summer.

Let me know in the comments if you're thinking of paying a visit!
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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Tanya Burr Cosmetics | Selfie Lash & Selfie Flick Review

I'm really excited to share with you an honest review of two new products I've been trying out recently, which are from the Tanya Burr Cosmetics range.

Despite the fact I love watching YouTube vlogs in my spare time, I'm not usually one to buy into Youtuber products. I think the only "Youtube" product I own is Estée Lalonde's book Bloom - which is incredible if you haven't read it already!

But when I heard Tanya talking passionately about how long she'd spent perfecting the mascara product she was adding to her makeup range, I couldn't help but be a little intrigued. 

There are certain Youtubers whose opinion you just feel inclined to trust, and despite her having every reason to be more than a little bit biased about her own products, after seeing Tanya applying both the mascara and eyeliner from her new collection in a recent vlog, I knew I had to try them.

So, what's the verdict?

Selfie Lash Mascara £7.99, Selfie Flick Eyeliner £4.99 both from Superdrug.

The packaging of the products is really stunning, I love the sleek gold packaging - which looks quite high end - and combined with the black scallop print it looks just the right amount of girly, without looking too young.

I'll start with the eyeliner! 
Now as someone who has worn a solid black flick of eyeliner on their eyes for possibly the past 10 years, I'm pretty picky with my liners.

I've tried everything from pencil, to liquids to gels and then back to liquids again. I used to swear by MAC's Blacktrack gel liner, before switching to Rimmel's Glam Eyes liquid eyeliner.

The Selfie Flick eyeliner is a liquid formula that goes on SO easily. The brush is the perfect size and length to make creating that perfect feline flick seem a breeze. Formula wise, you won't need to layer this up too much, it's a really thick matte black which dries fairly quickly.

At the price point it's cheaper than the Rimmel liner I'd sworn by for so many years, and I'm just as happy with the formula and applicator, so I'm converted!



 Now for the mascara!

I'm quite lucky to naturally have fairly long lashes, but they're incredibly straight and I really struggle to find a product that holds a curl. I've given up trying to find a mascara that makes my lashes curl, so I tend to swear by the Maybelline cat eyes mascara. 

I was a little worried, when picking up the packaging of this mascara, that the wand applicator was going to be really big, as the barrel of the packaging is pretty wide. However, it's the perfect in-between size! Small enough to be able to coat even your littlest bottom lashes, but big enough to achieve thick, black lashes in a few applications.

The finished look of the mascara is really dark, long lashes which still look defined and not clumpy, at all. It also holds a curl pretty well - though I don't think my eyelashes are the best to judge this on!

A huge well done to Tanya for how well these products have turned out, she's honestly created products which I would say are contenders for some of my favourite drug-store and maybe even high end make up products. I'm so glad I've given these a go, and will definitely be re-purchasing.

Have you tried any of the products from the Tanya Burr collection? I'd love to hear what you thought!
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Thursday, 9 November 2017

Mini Break to Budapest | Day 4

Finally, I'm writing up the final day of our Budapest trip! I've unintentionally spread these blog posts out, but it's actually been so nice going back through our photographs and reliving our mini break to Budapest.

For our final day we'd saved up the most historical tourist attraction, the Buda Castle. But I feel like I should put a little disclaimer right here. We were both expecting to see a castle - clue's in the title right? - but there's actually no 'Castle' as such to see... 

The most fun way to get up to the Buda "Castle" on the hill is to ride the funicular - it even has fun in the title.

As soon as we stepped off the funicular I honestly felt like we'd stepped into Duloc. 
(If you have no idea where I mean, firstly we can't be friends, secondly take a look here for a quick education.) Everywhere was so clean and tidy!

So although we were expecting an actual Castle awaiting us, Buda Castle actually refers to the old castle grounds. This includes a stunning cathedral and the Fisherman's Bastion - the name given to the terraced walkway along the edge of the castle, looking down over Budapest.

After walking around the stunning castle grounds and taking in the amazing view over the river Danube, it was time to eat! We'd heard a lot about Budapest's delicious street food and were ready to try some for ourselves.

Lewis tried a 'Langos' - a very indulgent dish. Essentially a deep fried pizza base, smothered in sour cream, garlic oil and cheese. I was a bit sceptical, but honestly it is delicious and I'd recommend trying it when you're in Budapest!

I went for a slightly safer option and ordered a hot dog. I had instant food-order regret afterwards, thinking I'd chosen something a bit bland, but it was honestly delicious! Hungary are famous for producing paprika, so they like to include it in a lot of their dishes - including this hot dog. 

We ate at Piknik the main outside eatery up in the Buda Castle grounds, it had such a huge range of fresh food. One of my favourite things about Budapest, is all the restaurants seem to have blankets at the ready - as someone who is ALWAYS cold, I seriously appreciate a blanket.


In the afternoon, we headed back over into 'Pest for a spot of shopping and to go on the Budapest Eye. Now it doesn't exactly give the London Eye a run for it's money, it's probably more like a huge ferris wheel, but it was fun and like everything in Budapest, really cheap!


The very last thing I wanted to check off our Budapest bucket list was to try a chimney cake. Chimney cakes are a Hungarian speciality, and something you have to try when you're there. We had a quick Google to hunt down the perfect place, and it took us longer than we expected!

We had in our mind a delicious nutella filled cake, and there was only one place that served up exactly what we were hoping for. Street Cakes!


This tiny shop had a very Shoreditch feel to it, with polaroids of delicious cakes filling the wall, the whole place was very Instagrammable. You can pretty much customise your chimney cake from the start to the finish - choosing the flavour cake, sugar, filling, ice cream and toppings that you'd like!

Here are our creations...


Now I'm naturally a bit of a sweet tooth, but honestly I've never had a sugar rush quite like this. Once we got back to our apartment, I swear I honestly had the shakes. Definitely a once in a lifetime kind of treat!

And that just about sums up our Budapest experience! I'd love to hear if you're thinking of going or if you've ever been before? Share your Budapest blog links below, I'd love to read them and see what you got up to :)
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Monday, 30 October 2017

Mini Break to Budapest | Day 3

Day 3 of our Budapest adventure was possibly my favourite! Read on to find out why...

We'd seen on the same episode of Travelman - which btw is back with new episodes, so go check it out! - that Richard and Aisling had been on a chairlift which overlooked the entire city. 

Situated high up in the Buda hills it's such a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I'm quite a nature person at heart so it was really nice to be surrounded by trees again for a little while! 

Getting to the chairlift proved a little more difficult than we realised... for some reason my Google maps suggested getting a few trams across the city, then catching the Cogwheel Railway - a really steep railway route which gradually climbs the Buda Hills peacefully. What it didn't tell us, is that once we'd got off the trains, after about an hour, we were still a 50 minute walk from the chairlift, and boy what a walk it was! Now, I'd class myself as someone that enjoys a walk, but I was NOT prepared for this. 

Google maps took us down the steepest, cobbled alleyways which snaked through a random residential area for about 40 minutes, before we finally had to walk down a steep main road which eventually ended right outside the chairlift station. Phew.

To say I was relieved to finally get there was an understatement, and although I was more than a little bit unimpressed by the walk - sorry, Lewis - it was 100% worth it for the incredible views we got on the chairlift. I mean just... 


Possibly not one for those scared of heights, as you're literally precariously hanging from a length of wire. Going on these sort of attractions abroad always makes you realise how OTT we are with health and safety in our country, the approach is SO much more relaxed in Europe. We weren't really secured in at all... adds to the thrill though, I guess?

After a very outdoorsy morning spent up in the beautiful Buda hills, we headed back into the city centre in search of something sweet! 


Self-described as 'The Most Beautiful Café in the World', the New York Café certainly lives up to that. The interior is absolutely incredible, you feel as if you've stepped foot into the Ritz and been transported back to London. As we arrived there was quite a long queue, but don't let that put you off. The queue snaked all the way to the front door, but we only ended up waiting about 10/15 minutes for our table.



As we sat down, I soon realised the music I could hear playing was coming from a live piano, and glanced upwards to see a man playing on one of the balconies. At one point he played 'Beauty and The Beast' and it was so perfect I could've cried - yes, i'm an emotional wreck most of the time.

We decided to go all out and ordered three desserts between us to share - if you can't when you're on holiday, then when can you? Naturally, I couldn't resist the pink prosecco.


It was honestly such a special experience and one to remember. It was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me, so if you're going to Budapest you HAVE to go. 

High on sugar we popped back to our apartment to sleep off all the cake with a cheeky nap, before heading out to explore again in the evening.


We actually ate at the most incredible mexican restaurant this evening, but sadly I was so over-excited and hungry - mexican food is my thing and i've made it my personal goal to try a mexican restaurant everywhere I travel - that I forgot to take any photos! 
It's called Iguana though if you want to check it out, and the food is delicious.

After eating our weight in Mexican food, we headed across 'Pest to visit the famous Ruin Bars. Ruin Bars have popped up all over Budapest, occupying old abandoned buildings and are basically very run-down warehouses full of random decorations with seating scattered around. It kind of felt like a huge, slightly odd and twisted playground for adults.

We went to Szimpla Kert which is one of the most famous and largest Ruin Bars in Budapest. Wandering around the bar, exploring the different rooms and seating areas was really interesting and definitely something to experience.



Up to this point we'd explored most of what 'Pest has to offer, so in my next post I'll be sharing the main attractions in Buda which we explored on the very last day of our trip. Let me know in the comments if you've ever been to Budapest, I'd love to read your posts too!
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