October 10, 2017

Things I’m loving this month

Yet another month has flown by in the blink of the eye, so it’s now time for October’s ‘What I’m loving this month’ review section. Below is a round up of all the lovely things I’ve enjoyed reviewing this month.

Lobster Homeware


The aprons from Lobster Homeware aren’t just pretty, they are pretty much the most functional aprons known to man. With integrated oven gloves, which can also be removed and used separately or used as pot mats, you’ll never be hunting around for them while cooking again. There’s also a handy teatowel loop, deep pockets for filling with whatever you may need while cooking and uniquely, a mobile phone pocket. With a huge variety of designs and with a height adjustable feature, there really is an apron for everyone in the range. Available now for £25 from Lobster Homeware

Spontex Collect Range

I’m sure you’ve heard of Spontex before as they create household products which make cleaning easier for everyone. They make everything from cloths and scourers to gloves and floor care products. They’ve recently introduced the Collect range and I was sent a couple of products to try.


The Spontex Collect Max Indoor broom, not only looks stylish but has been designed to collect the maximum amount of dust and dirt in just one sweep. So easy to use, the mixed non scratch fibres wipe up all types of dirt which is attracted to the electrostatic blade, which is built into the brush. With a telescopic handle, the broom will reach everywhere you need it to. This is an easy to use broom and I definitely noticed the difference compared to my normal broom. It didn’t miss anything off the floor. (£12.99)


Why not pick up the matching Spill Collect Dustpan and Brush (£9.99) at the same time. It’s a great compliment to the broom and with its unique locking system, nothing drops out on the way to the bin. It also has a built in squeegee which made clearing up liquid messes a doddle.

 I Sea Pasta Tagliatelle


A delicious low carb alternative to pasta, I Sea Pasta is a seaweed designed to fool you into thinking it’s actually a pasta. It looks like tagliatelle but is actually 100% wild, handpicked seaweed from Irealnd.  With 80% fewer calories than pasta and packed with rich, natural goodness including Iodine, iron and Omega 3, this is an easy and tasty way to get some extra hidden vegetables onto your plate (and even the kids!) Another huge plus point…seaweed is incredibly sustainable and we should all be trying to include it in our diet

Available from Seamore for £4.28 a bag.

CAMRA’s Historic Coaching Inns Of The Great Northern Road & CAMRA’s Wild Pub Walks

9781852493394 9781852493400

As Christmas draws ever nearer, why not take a look at CAMRA’s online shop for the perfect gift the real ale lover in your life. With a huge variety of books on offer, you’ll find something for everyone, from the beer fantastic, to the walker who enjoys an occasional stop at a pub along the way. My two favourite picks include CAMRA’s Historic Coaching Inns of The Great Northern Road and CAMRA’s Wild Pub Walks.

In the first book, Roger Protz takes us on a journey down the ‘route 66 of Britain’ which instead of diners has magnificent coaching inns. Find out more about the history of some of these fantastic watering holes and be inspired to take a roadtrip yourself. (£12.99)

CAMRA’s Wild Pub Walks by Daniel Neilson focuses on 22 walks in beautiful or remote landscapes which also happen to have a pub or two along the route. Be inspired during your hill walks to divert to one of the many great watering holes described throughout the book and perhaps enjoy a new route or two. There are plenty of different abilities of walks covered from long to short, challenging to easy. The book also covers a wide variety of areas from the highlands of Scotland to the Yorkshire Dales and Pembrokeshire. (£11.99)

Colgate® Enamel Strength Toothpaste


I’m a diet coke addict, and one of the downfalls of this addiction, among many, is that I worry about the enamel of my teeth. As we all know the chemicals in fizzy drinks can wear them down and make them weaker. For this reason I was excited to try out the new Colgate Enamel Strength Toothpaste. Designed to give your teeth added protection, helping to replenish and seal enamel, this toothpaste can help make teeth more resistant to acid damage. I tried this toothpaste for a month and was incredibly pleased with the overall look and feel of my teeth. They took on a smooth finish and a natural shine which they didn’t have before and I feel great in the knowledge that the toothpaste helped to strengthen my teeth 4 times more than regular fluoride toothpaste. £4.49 for 75ml. Available from all major retailers now.

Note: I was sent all of the above to review, but all opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
June 24, 2017

Tasting Georgia

Before I was contacted to review the Tasting Georgia book, I knew little to nothing about Georgia as a country or anything about the history or culture of the country. It was a truly fascinating read and it’s certainly sparked an interest in visiting Georgia. It even lead to some googling for flights and hotels…I see a long weekend in the near future!

Tasting Georgia

The author, Carla, takes us on a fascinating journey through Georgia in this book. With information on the history and culture of the country dotted throughout, there are also details of where to stay and what to eat in every region of the country. You can feel the passion coming through in her writing and her love for Georgian food and wine is clear. Packed with recipes to recreate at home, there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge in Carla’s favourite dishes any night of the week.


There’s a big focus on wine in the book and in each region Carla explores traditionally made wines which are created in large terracotta pots (Qveri).


It was interesting to discover that the social fabric of Georgia would seem in part to be held together by the Supra or Georgian Feast looked over by a formal or informal toastmaster. All the food is on the table at the same time and there are no desserts apart from fresh fruit, nuts and possibly the Churchkhela. These look like sausages and can be found hanging in groups on strings. They are in fact made of nuts coated in thickened grape must or fruit juice without the addition of sugar.


Carla takes us into Markets, Wineries, Monasteries and even to a small farm with twenty cows near the Turkish border specialising in aged cheese. The book is packed with interesting stories, exciting places to visit and lovely dishes as well as beautiful photography, which will have you planning your trip.

This book allows you to escape into its pages to discover a country that beckons to the explorer, chef, wine connoisseur and tourist in all of us.

Find out more about this book at: www.tastinggeorgia.com or purchase for only £30.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
February 21, 2017

Wanderlust with Lonely Planet

There’s only one thing on my mind this time of year…and that’s where to go next. If you are like me, then you really have to pick up a few great books from Lonely Planet which are packed with inspiration, tips and ideas for your next destination or even how to explore your own home town.


Wine Trails (£19.99)

Wine_Trails_LargeLooking for the perfect weekend of vineyard tours, wine drinking and tasting? Then this is the book for you. Featuring detailed itineraries focusing on 52 areas near cities around the world, this guide tells you everything you need to know to create the perfect weekend of vino.


Areas featured include expected regions such as Australia, New Zealand and Chile, but there are plenty of more unusual countries too such as Hungary & Slovakia, Lebanon and Slovenia too.

Each section includes a map with local wineries marked on the page. Each one has a little explanation and extras in each area include Where To Stay, Where To Eat, What To Do and Celebrations.

This is a great gift for any wine lover, or yourself 🙂

Food Trails (£19.99)


I’ve reviewed this one before, but wanted to include in this round up, as it’s a fantastic book for inspiring foodie based weekend trips. Laid out in a similar format to the Wine Trails book above, this one takes you on weekend tours of top foodie destinations around the world including of course, where to eat!


Learn about food markets, tours, trails and the best places for street food in 52 different destinations around the world – a great bucket list book!

The Best Things in Life Are Free (£16.99)

The_Best_Things_in_Life_are_Free_LargeHave the travel bug, but tight on budget? Then this book can help you save a penny or two. Packed with money saving tips and tricks for over 60 major cities around the world, this will inspire you to travel on a budget. The guide includes parks, free experiences, events and museums around the world which can be enjoyed on a low budget trip.


A must-read for any traveller, this will save pennies and open your eyes to new experiences across the world.

101 Ways To Live Well (£7.99)


While technically not a travel book, this little life-saver helps you take on the travel mindset any day of the week. Helping you feel less stressed and frazzled with a few small tricks such as mindfulness exercises or yoga moves.

101 ways to live well

Just 5 -10 minutes a day working your way through this book can help improve your life in just a few little steps.

The perfect gift for your stressed co-worker, or use it yourself to remain on an even plain – just like me!

The Big Trip (£16.99)

The_Big_Trip_LargeDesigned for the gap year traveller, this book covers everything you need to make your big trip a reality. Don’t feel this is only for the post school backpacker though, as if you are planning a career break at any time in your life, this book is packed with useful information relevant to you too.

Big Trip

The book takes you through everything from planning your trip before you even leave the country, to finding volunteer work, where to stay, ideas of what to do and how to make your money last. A really useful ‘survival’ guide to your year off.

You Only Live Once (£22.99)


This is the ultimate bucket list book, not in the traditional sense – this isn’t a list of places to visit and things to do, it’s about helping you find what’s important to you and reigniting your passions for them. Simply choose a chapter which is split into time eg An hour, a day, a month etc and choose an activity which could be ‘dressing up for a day’ or ‘Swimming with fish’.

You only live once.jpg

Once you’ve chosen the time you want to commit and the activity, there are a list of suggestions of where and how to do it. This is a great coffee table book packed full of inspiring and achievable ideas for those who want to live life to the fullest.

The Ultimate Travelist (£19.99)

10013-Lonely_Planet_s_Ultimate_Travel_List403556_LargeThis book is pure travel inspiration. A great hardback book filled with 500 of the best places to visit in the world. Take your pick or just make your way through the whole list – it may take some time though! This book even comes with a fab map, which you can stick on your wall and mark off with pins as you hit the 500 destinations. Where does your favourite destination come in the list?travelist

There are plenty more great books available from the Lonely Planet Shop, so why not take a look here and pick up something for yourself or a friend. I’m currently reading the Travel Writing and Travel Photography guides – so stay tuned for another Lonely Planet review soon.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
March 2, 2016

A weekend in Suffolk at The Swan, Lavenham

A few weekends ago we headed off into the heart of the Suffolk countryside to visit The Swan Hotel & Spa in Lavenham for an overnight getaway.

This beautiful hotel & spa is set in an old black and white building with cosy corners, creaking stairs and windy corridors – absolute heaven.


Staying in one of the beautiful suites we had a massive room, beautifully decorated with a large seating area. With Temple Spa products in the bathroom and beautifully soft white linens on the bed, every little aspect of your stay is well thought out.


Our massive bed with fresh white robes 


The lovely bathroom


The lovely sitting room area

Dinner was in AA Two Rosette Gallery restaurant at The Swan, where diners can enjoy their meal in a beautiful setting.


Once seated we were presented with a little pre-starter – a liquid fish and chips. It sounds a bit odd but was really delicious. Packed full of the good flavour of fish (not too fishy) at all and with a mushy pea puree.

Dinner at The Swan 1

We then moved onto our starters with the Confit Pork Cheek with piccalilli and pea shoot salad which was amazing.

Dinner at The Swan 2

Melt in the mouth and with a fantastic flavour, while my other half went for the smoked salmon which was presented fantastically.

My main course choice was the seared halibut with a white fish cannelloni, braised turnips, shrimps and razor clams. A fantastic dish with great flavours.

Dinner at The Swan 3

My other half went for the trio of Suffolk pork with summer vegetables and was wolfed down with delight.

If there’s one dish alone worth coming to The Swan for, it’s the vanilla parfait with elderflower jelly and textures of raspberry. An absolute joy to eat and a dessert I’ll remember for a long time to come.

Dinner at The Swan 4

My other half opted for the cheese board, which was more than enough for me to enjoy too.

Dinner at The Swan 5
Dinner was delicious and we’ll be back with friends and family as soon as possible. It’s definitely going on my list as one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Breakfast at The Swan can be enjoyed in your room for free as a guest, just pre-order the night before and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before check out. However, we decided to pop down for breakfast in the morning and enjoyed scrambled eggs and smoked salmon in the lovely Gallery restaurant once again.

If you have some spare time during your stay pop into the newly opened Weavers’ House Spa which has over thirty different treatments to choose from, including spa packages, perfect for a romantic getaway or a day visit.

The Swan is a fantastic place to getaway for a relaxing weekend, a day out at The Spa with afternoon tea or an evening meal. We will definitely be back.

For further information and to book a hotel stay and treatment in Weavers’ House Spa, telephone 01787 247477 or visit www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk, B&B starts from £185 per room per night for two sharing in 2015 and dogs are welcome at £10 per night.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
December 7, 2015

The Moorland Garden Hotel, Yelverton, Devon

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I headed down to South Devon for a trip away and a visit to The Moorland Garden Hotel. A beautiful hotel just minutes from the Dartmoor National Park and close to Plymouth city centre it is positioned in possibly one of the best spots in the area and is a great base for exploring Dartmoor.

I’d never been to Dartmoor or Plymouth before and I loved it. I’ll definitely be back.

We were staying in a beautifully decorated twin room with extra squidgy pillows, a great mattress and soft sheets. We slept incredibly well, so well it was a struggle to get out of bed. My sister is also pretty pregnant at the moment, so any night she can sleep through must be a good one…and she definitely slept well…I could hear the snoring.

Pictures of the lovely squidgy beds below…


The bathroom was bright and airy with lovely complimentary toiletries to get you through your visit.


A welcome plate of homemade biscuits (yes, one was nibbled before the picture was taken), fruit and of course, a guide to the local area.


You can always tell a good hotel by the breakfast and boy was this a good one. So good in fact, that there’s no pictures to show you, as I ate it all up. Cold options are laid out in a buffet style to help yourself and included fresh fruit, juices, yoghurts and cereal. You can then order from the hot menu choosing from a Full English (of course), kippers and much, much more. Delicious, made all the better by the fantastic service we received during our breakfast service. It’s always nice to be recognised when you come downstairs and to be greeted personally – amazingly, they did this with every guest that arrived. What a memory!

Here’s just a few beautiful shots of the local scenery. We spent a morning walking across Dartmoor, burning off our breakfasts and preparing ourselves for our visit to The Stable in Plymouth for lunch (review to follow). It’s so beautiful even when blustering, wet and cold during November!

By the way, if you live in the area and are looking for one of the best hot chocolates, then pop into the Dartmoor Bar where they serve this lovely looker.


Make sure you drink it in my favourite snug corner by the fire in the bar.


Keep an eye out for my review of their fantastic Wildflower Restaurant coming soon on the blog.

Disclaimer: We were guests of The Moorland Garden Hotel but I wasn’t obliged to write a good review and all opinions are my own

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
November 4, 2015

Off the beaten plate:Emerging Food Capitals of Europe

When thinking of places to go for great food within Europe, you may immediately go to Naples, San Sebastian or Paris, but there’s plenty of other, less well known places which should be topping your must visit lists. The people at Booking.com have come up with a run down of the seven emerging food capitals of Europe – all of which I’ll have to try for myself at some point!



Pulling together all the best bits of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Eastern European cuisine, the food in Tbilisi is astounding. And the city seems to now be getting due credit for it, with endorsements for its culinary offering from Booking.com customers increasing dramatically over the past two years. Stop into an eatery on one of the Old Town’s winding lanes or leafy squares to sample the high standard of local fare and feel the pulsating energy of this dramatic city, overlooked by the 17th-century Nariqala Fortress and set on the hillsides either side of the Mtkvari River.

What to Try

For delectable street food, feasting on irresistible khachapuri (flatbread filled with cheese) or khinkali (spiced meat or vegetarian dumplings) is a great place to start, washed down with some Georgian wine. Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world and their ancient fermentation process using Kvevri clay jars is totally unique.



Thanks to its location on the Dalmatian coastline, the charming medieval walled city of Dubrovnik is home to an impressive array of seafood, alongside a Mediterranean-style cuisine. Fish is often served fresh off the boat barbecued, drizzled with olive oil and with a wedge of lemon. But if seafood isn’t your thing, Croatia is also truffle heaven; one of the world’s largest was discovered near Buje and gourmet fungi crop up in dishes all over the country.

What to Try

Unsurprisingly, Booking.com customers rated Dubrovnik particularly highly for its seafood, noting that a lot of the city’s restaurants are ‘family owned’ with home made dishes that give them the edge over ‘high end’ establishments. The eye-catching black risotto (made from cuttlefish ink) is one of the area’s signature dishes and dining in the Old Town is a particularly scenic affair.



Swiftly overtaking its trendy Polish neighbour Krakow as a foodie capital, vibrant Warsaw’s food endorsements have boomed in recent years. As well as being exceptionally good value, Booking.com customers noted exceptional variety and a high quality of traditional food. Its beautifully restored Old Town is a picturesque place to wander the cobbled streets before settling in any number of cosy restaurants.

What to Try

Pierogi, akin to ravioli, are Polish dumplings traditionally stuffed with meat, mushrooms, cheese or sauerkraut and are both hearty and full of flavour. For candlelit dining on authentic Polish cuisine, U Fukiera in the Old Town is the city’s oldest restaurant offering a lavish menu amidst vaulted, antique-filled rooms.



The elegant seaside town of Biarritz in the French Basque countryside is an underrated gem, recently growing significantly in the rankings of foodie destinations. Though perhaps less established as nearby San Sebastian, Biarritz’s classy seafront promenade and architecturally gorgeous town is already filled with Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as high-quality, low-key eateries.

What to Try

The delights of the Basque culinary tradition are infinite, drawing upon Spanish and French influences which combine to sublime effect. Enjoy grilled meat and fish, mouthwatering stews, stuffed piquillo peppers and of course the area’s famously flavoursome pintxos (the Basque equivalent of tapas).



Dresden’s burgeoning status as a hip European citybreak destination means its culinary culture is growing at an equally breakneck pace. Having recovered from the destruction of WWII, this beautiful Baroque city is now filled with exciting bars and restaurants catering to a refined foodie crowd. Sample Saxon food and German beer at riverside beer gardens but note that the best view of the city’s striking silhouette can be enjoyed from the northern bank of the Elbe. This incredible view is what gave Dresden its nickname, ‘Florence of the North’.

What to Try

Meat is a key component of Saxon cuisine, so Dresden’s many varieties of sausage, made from beef, pork and veal with various spices are a real local specialty. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t leave without tasting the Eierschecke, a delicious cake with cream cheese and raisins.



Slovenia hasn’t always been on the map for foodie travellers but its dainty capital, Ljubljana, is now one of the fastest growing destinations for Booking.com food endorsements. The cafes and restaurants lining the canal or the Ljubljanica River are great for soaking up the quaint but cosmopolitan city’s atmosphere. And from high up in the courtyard of Llubljana Castle, visitors can enjoy the Restavracija Strelec, a renowned restaurant in a very special setting.

What to Try

Slovenian food is a unique blend of its surrounding culinary cultures, from Italian and Mediterranean, to Balkan and Austrian – but always fresh and seasonal. The country’s Turkish influence can also be seen in the prevalence of burek. If you haven’t already tried this Balkan delight of flaky filo pastry filled with feta and spinach or other, meatier combinations, you simply must. And steamingly fresh from the popular street food chain Nobel Burek is your best bet. Then there’s cremeschitte, an indulgently creamy vanilla and custard cake that comes from the nearby town of Bled in the foothills of the Julian Alps; well worth a visit for any true foodie pilgrims.



It may not have the established status of Paris or Rome but food aficionados will be deeply impressed with Reykyavik’s rich and lively culinary scene, with many cafés and restaurants staying open to become bars at night. Fishing is also embedded in the national identity, meaning seafood here is fresh and fantastic, including local species of scallop, cod, monkfish and some you may not have heard of, such as redfish, wolfish and capelin.

What to Try

The Grandi harbor area of the city has evolved in recent years from an industrial dock area to a conglomeration of promising young shops and restaurants with a far-reaching view out over Faxaflói bay and Mount Esja. Amidst all this new cultural activity, the Coocoo’s Nest is a small family-run business known for its sourdough pizzas and delightful selection of organic dishes. For traditional food, Grandi hotspot Matur og Drykkur is decorated in a style true to Icelandic culture and offers an authentic menu with innovative flair.

Certainly some food for thought!

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
September 22, 2015

Five ways to stay healthy this winter

5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

Louise Westra, Resident Naturopath at ESPA Life at The Gleneagles Hotel, shares her top tips for winter health

As the evenings draw in and we start to feel the chill of autumn, it can be tempting to want to hibernate and forget our healthy habits. With winter being one of the key times of the year that people fall ill, Louise Westra, resident Naturopath at ESPA Life at The Gleneagles Hotel, has compiled her top five tips to help you stay healthy this winter.

1.       Wake Up Call

Start each morning with a cup of hot water and lemon. Not only will it warm you up on cold days, it provides a gentle ‘wake-up’ call to the digestive tract and liver. Lemons are a great natural antiseptic and can make a big difference to your digestive health.

2.      Double the Odds

Although we’re advised to aim for five portions of fruit and veg a day, I recommend aiming for 10. Up your intake by snacking on vegetables, or mix cooked and raw ingredients in a rainbow salad with an avocado dressing. Packing in phytonutrients can greatly reduce your risk of disease and offers a plethora of other health benefits.


3.      Moderation is Key

I see lots of clients adopting a ‘famine or feast’ approach to their diet, which really isn’t conducive to good health. While I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t watch what we eat, I do my best to stay away from the whole idea of ‘good’ & ‘bad’ foods. Obviously fruit and veg should be the foundation of your diet, but if you want a treat once in a while, then make it from natural ingredients, don’t opt for a pre-packaged, pro-inflammatory cocktail of ingredients.

4.      Wrap up Tight

Don’t underestimate the importance of wrapping up warmly with hats, scarves and gloves – and don’t overlook the good old-fashioned vest under clothing. Simply keeping warm can reduce the risk of colds, flu and more serious conditions.

5.      Fight a Cold the natural way

In the event of a cold or cough, sometimes it’s possible to fight it with nature – not medicine. It’s easy to take an over-the-counter remedy to try and battle your symptoms but you’re best to not supress mucus. Try my ‘Kick-a-germ’ soup (Recipe below) to ease symptoms and get you back on the road to recovery.

Louise Westra’s ‘Kick-a-Germ’ soup recipe

Use a base of approximately 1 litre of chicken stock (real is preferable) and add the following:-

·         3 cloves garlic

·         1 medium strength chilli

·         1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

·         1 medium sized onion

·         1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

·         Any seasonal vegetables chopped to the size you like

·         Cook until all the vegetables soft and tender

·         Add fresh lemon or lime juice to serve

Be prepared to spend the night sweating!

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
September 21, 2015

Princess Cruises: A foodie fantasy

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Princess Cruise Ship, the Royal Princess ship to celebrate Princess Cruises 50th anniversary with a Royal Luncheon on board.

A floating city, this ship is packed with everything from an adults only spa, open air cinema, bars and restaurants a plenty along with entertainment areas, a gym and much, much more.



On arrival we were taken to the galley to see how the ship is able to produce and serve such immaculate and delicious dishes to such a huge crowd of people and keep all standards so high. What an amazing sight. I’ve never seen such a large kitchen.

The Galley Kitchen


We also got to enjoy some lovely chocolate truffles…


Chef’s motto


We then went on a tour of the ship and enjoyed some fantastic cocktail flare by the team at the outside bar, next to the pool on the top deck


Free popcorn (available all around the ship) and a cocktail


The Royal Luncheon dinner




Some pictures from our tour around the ship…

The private dining area (available for a special fee) in the main Al A Carte restaurant


The main entertainment auditorium


Alfredo’s Pizzeria (voted the best pizza at sea by USA Today)


The Upper Deck 


The Adults Only Cabana area (You can hire your own Cabana for the day )


The beautiful Sanctuary Spa (adults only). If I took a cruise, this would be where I’d spend most of my time!


I’d definitely go on a cruise following my day, as there’s so much to enjoy on board. Thanks to Princess Cruises for arranging the day

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
August 6, 2015

Lisbon…the new capital of cool

My travel lust list grows on a daily basis, and Lisbon, Portugal is one of my top ‘must-visit’ destinations at the moment.




Here’s a couple of reasons why:

1. Savour gourmet canapés by José Avillez: A star chef in his home country, Michelin-starred José Avillez is Portugal’s answer to Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià. Mini Bar (www.minibar.pt) is his latest opening, a casual bar with a retro décor, serving experimental yet affordable canapés and gourmet small plates for less than €5 per dish.

2. Hang out at Lisbon’s coolest market: The Mercado de Campo de Ourique (www.mercadodecampodeourique.pt) has been the heart of the neighbourhood for more than 80 years – but after its recent renovation, you will find the traditional vegetable stalls next to gourmet food stands, fresh juice counters and bars serving all types of Portuguese wine.

3. Party at the ‘Pink Street’: Until its recent makeover, riverside Cais do Sodré was one of the city’s seediest neighbourhoods – but today Rua Nova do Carvalho is Lisbon’s liveliest street for nightlife, packed with live music venues, burlesque clubs and tapas bars. Closed to the traffic, the street is painted with a cheerful bright pink colour, giving it its nickname ‘Pink Street’.

4. Buy the perfect souvenir, quirky and 100% Portuguese: Located at the much-loved Terreiro do Paço, the Lisbon Shop (https://pt-br.facebook.com/LisbonShop) is the ideal place to buy that special gift and take with you a little part of Lisbon – from colourful tiles to urban design, quirky books to handmade jewellery, contemporary crafts to recycled materials.

5. See the likes of Picasso, Dalí, Bacon and Warhol for free: There is no entrance fee to visit Museu Colecção Berardo (http://en.museuberardo.pt/). Its wide collection focuses on the major European and American art movements of the 20th and early 21st century, covering everything from surrealism, pop art and hyper-realism to minimalist and conceptual arts.

6. Take in the latest street art exhibition: Lisbon is one of the few capitals in the world to have a government division that encourages, promotes and funds street art. There is an ‘official’ exhibition wall by Galeria de Arte Urbana (www.facebook.com/galeriadearteurbana) in Bairro Alto, but you can see street art even on waste collection trucks and bottle banks!

7. Be wowed by one of the best fashion and design collections in Europe: The stark exhibition rooms of MUDE (www.mude.pt), formerly a bank, make its exhibits really pop. Featuring iconic works from the design and fashion’s world greatest from 1937 to present, this is where Phillipe Starck and Charles Eames come together with Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood.

8. Dine alfresco at Lisbon’s latest hotspot: U Chiado Trendy Bar & Restaurant (http://uchiado.pt) offers all things to all people and at all hours, both indoors and outdoors, from snacks to sushi, weekend brunches to exotic cocktails. Industrial chic is the theme here – and if you prefer a late dinner alfresco, the cosy terrace comes with warm blankets available.

9. Pay a late night visit to the impressive Museu do Oriente: The riverfront Museu do Oriente (www.museudooriente.pt) is so superbly converted that few would guess that until a few years ago it was a salt cod warehouse! Open until late every Friday, it brings to the forefront the history of Portugal in the Far East during the Age of Discovery.

10. Head to bohemian Bairro Alto for all things vintage and alternative: Once one of the city’s least desirable areas, today the backstreets of Bairro Alto are crammed with alternative shops, hip hairdressers and fashionable bars. Vintage rules in this sassy bohemian enclave, where you can pick up outrageous hand-me-down attires and heaps of odd accessories.

Direct flights to Lisbon operate from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol with TAP Portugal, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair.

For more information visiting Lisbon please go to www.visitlisboa.com.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
May 17, 2015

A Royally Rich Afternoon

Trying to decide on the best option…an afternoon tea or a Thames river cruise? Then look no further as the fantastic Royally Rich Afternoon Tea from City Cruises combines the best of both worlds, along with a commentary on royal children by royal photographer Ian Pelham Turner or  royal expert Helena Chard.

Last Monday I was lucky enough to have the chance to take a trip on the cruise, which was hosted by royal photographer Ian Pelham Turner.

Seated next to a window we enjoyed seeing the sights of London, while tucking into a delicious afternoon tea with limitless tea and coffee and listening to facts and stats from Ian about the origins of Battenberg cake among other things!


Delicious sarnies, scones and cakes


Ian with some of his famous pictures of the royal family


Ian with a famous shot of Diana and William


The London Eye


Big Ben



Tate Modern

To book or for more information visit www.citycruises.com

Visit Citycruises to find out more. Tickets are £29 per adult and the cruise runs throughout May and June on Monday and Tuesday.

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
May 2, 2015

Win every day in May #2:London Style Guide NOW CLOSED

The big giveaway continues today with something for the ‘real’ or want to be ‘real’ Londoner. I have one copy of Saska Graville’s London Style Guide to give away.

The London Style Guide


Everyone is familiar with the iconic attractions of London but Saskia Graville’s London Style Guide – now updated and fully revised – takes readers on a journey to the heart and soul of the city, revealing the hidden and stylish places that make the capital unique and eclectic.   There is an essence to London style, and you find it in the small, off-the-radar places: the one-off shops, street markets, corner pubs and local restaurants that Londoners themselves go to. These places share a certain eccentricity, quirkiness and independence of spirit, and that’s what this book is all about.   London can seem big and overwhelming and there are many guide books directing you to the key trophy sights of the city. London Style Guide breaks it down by village and reveals the places the locals love. We feature some of the Londoners behind the shops, cafes and hotels, and ask them to divulge their city secrets. By delivering a carefully chosen selection of smaller, stylish spots revered by residents, this book makes visitors feel like locals. This is London up close and personal.

Visit Amazon to purchase or simply enter the competition via Rafflecopter below. Remember to check back daily for the next competition!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest
April 24, 2015

Where to eat in Barbados

Thinking of a trip to Barbados? Don’t bother going all inclusive on this trip, as you’ll be missing out on some pretty terrific food.

Here’s my must visit restaurants in Barbados.

1. Castaways


Photo courtesy of Castaways Bar & Grill

Located at the end of the St Lawrence Gap strip, this restaurant is set on the water and decorated in a truly beautiful blue and white, to reflect the ocean. Open for only a couple of months at the time of writing this, it’s already a must visit for everyone and you’ll find it pretty full every evening.

Try the Bajan fishcakes and pumpkin fritters and the Mahi Mahi. There’s plenty of non fish options too!

2. Lonestar


Photo courtesy of Lonestar Restaurant

A little more expensive, for a good reason. This restaurant sits on the white sands of the west coast, with all tables getting a good view of the water. Plenty of options to choose from, including a full English roast on a Sunday, if you feel that way inclined. A beautiful setting with gorgeous food. Think crab salads and overflowing fish cutters.

Tip: The catamaran cruises who take tourists to swim with turtles stop in the bay to snorkel here. Take your snorkel kit and set up on the beach outside lonestar to go find your own turtles and have a swim!

3. Oistins


Photo courtesy of contiki.co.uk

This is a must do when visiting Barbados. This local fish market sees stalls all grilling up fresh fish in a lively atmosphere. The best time to visit is a Friday night when it’s the busiest with live music and local flair. However, don’t worry, it’s open every night, so if you can’t make a Friday, just pop down when suits and enjoy some of the freshest fish you’ll find in the world.

4. The Cliff

The Cliff

Photo courtesy of The Cliff

No restaurant guide to Barbados would be complete without mention of this famous restaurant. Set on a cliff overlooking the calm waters of the ocean, this is a spectacular restaurant, both in setting and in menu – but expect to pay heavily for the privilege. We were lucky enough to get a table next to the water, booking only the day before, but in the height of the season, people have booked as much as a year ahead to guarantee these tables.

Try the lobster linguine and Barracuda. Delicious

There’s so much fantastic food in Barbados. It’s easy to find!

SHARE THIS POST ON: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest