July 15, 2016

One in a million with Robert Welch

This week I spent a great afternoon at the Good Housekeeping Institute in Central London with the team from Robert Welch, learning about the perfect knife and of course, having a go myself.

I love cooking, but knife skills are something I’m definitely lacking, so I was a little anxious about being left alone to tackle some chopping with these super sharp new knives. However, believe it or not, due to the fact they slice through food so easily, there really wasn’t much of a chance to cut yourself. Cutting was made incredibly easy!

Anyway, getting a little ahead of myself there….so now to catch you up.

We were welcomed by the team from Robert Welch who introduced us to their range of knives and showed us the process behind making a great quality knife. It really surprised me that there was such a process involved – I think I just assumed they were cut out of metal in a cookie cutter fashion…which Robert Welch knives really aren’t.

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Being shown the process of knife production. Each knife is forged from a single piece of stainless steel which makes it pretty much unbreakeable!

20160713_155021Here’s a picture showcasing the different areas of the actual process of creation

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Apparently the key to keeping your knives as sharp as they should be is using the knife sharpener before or after every time you use them. Just a couple of swipes back and forth in the attached sharpener and they’ll be as sharp as ever.

The next step of the class was to be shown a recipe by chef, Georgina Davies and then go off to our stations to replicate it.

20160713_144044The recipe Georgina demonstrated was a great one to showcase the best aspects of the knives as they sliced through fennel,radish,fig, courgette and garlic with ease.

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20160713_143606At each station we were given our own set of knives to use, along with all the key ingredients.

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Here’s a shot of my final dish….yum.

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It was a great event. So interesting to hear about Robert Welch knives and give them a go for myself.

To find out more about some of the best knives money can buy visit: www.robertwelch.com/signature

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July 7, 2016

Walk a mile in my shoes…

Over the last few years I’ve gone through various different trainers, from Nike to Adidas and Asics to Reebok, I’ve tried them all. I do gym classes such as Insanity and BodyAttack as well as hitting the gym and going for long walks with my dog.

All of these activities seem to require a different trainer, and none of them have been quite right.

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So I was excited to discover the Skechers Flex Appeal Next Generation Memory Foam Trainers. These are literally the best trainers I’ve ever had. So incredibly comfy as lined with a memory foam, brightly coloured to add some pop to your workout wear these are great for a variety of exercises or just throwing on with a pair of jeans one day. Absolutely the comfiest yet best looking trainers around!

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Here’s a lovely pic of me in my Skechers

If you are looking for a beautiful pair of trainers, why not visit Brantano? They’ve got a huge selection of trainers and even better…there’s a sale on at the moment. So it’s definitely time to treat yourself.

On my wishlist at the moment are:

The Nike Downshifter

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Skechers Flex Appeal – Cosmic Rays

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Thanks to Brantano for sending me the Skechers to try.

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June 20, 2016

What I’m loving this month

It’s time for my monthly round up of things i’m loving. This month, it’s about healthy eating and wellbeing, as we head towards (hopefully) a beautiful summer.

1. Pukka Herbs

Looking for high quality organic teas or supplements? Pukka Herbs has a huge range of incredible items to make healthy living a doddle.

They have a huge selection of teas which combine organic fruit and herbs to create delicious drinks with relaxing, detoxing or revitalising properties.

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Pukka Herbs also has a range of organic supplements including Clean Greens, Night Time, Vitalise and much much more. They’ve recently launched a range of Turmeric items (hot foodie/health trend at the moment) which are next on my list to try.Pukka2

2. Newton’s Apple Fizzics

Newton’s appl fizzics is a golden apple juice which is completely natural, with no artificial preservatives, colours or flavours. The best bit? There’s also no added sugar or sweeteners…just apple juice blended with sparkling water. A refreshing drink for the summer. I’ll be making sure to have my fridge stocked for BBQs this year.

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Available in 330ml bottles with an RRP of £1.29 and 750ml with an RRP of £2.49 from Amazon.co.uk, Harrods and independent grocers, farm shops and delis. The new sparkling juice is best served chilled and is a wonderfully thirst quenching drink when enjoyed straight from the bottle, or served over ice.

3.Ugly Drinks

Another new healthy drink is Ugly Drinks – a range of all-natural fruit infused sparkling waters (free from sugars, fat, sodium, artificial sweeteners, artificial colourings, artificial preservatives, artificial flavourings, soy, nuts, gluten, GMOs).

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These zero calorie drinks are literally just sparkling water infused with 100% natural fruit oils and essences and natural citric acid to act as preservative (available in 2 flavours, Lemon & Lime and Grapefruit & Pineapple, RRP 99p / 330ml can).

4.ICHAI

If you love Chai tea, you’ll love ICHAI – 8 different varieties of chai that have wellbeing benefits, created by an experienced plant biologist.

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The teas are created using specialist milling and blending techniques (which are unique to the brand) that ensure the best possible retention of taste & aroma after packaging. (£3.95 / 25g).

My favourite has to be the Vanilla Chai, but there’s plenty of others to try!

5. Organic Buko Jam

If you’ve never tried coconut jam before, then you are in for a real treat. This delicious spread has a velvety caramel like taste and texture which makes it ideal for adding to yoghurt, topping ice cream or just spreading thickly on toast.

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It has a unique flavour which will have you coming back for more…and there’s a rumour on the grapevine that they are launching an irresistible sounding chocolate version and there’s already one with a hint of sea salt.

Now available from Amazon and independent health stores

6. Ape Coconut Curls

Coming in at only 109 calories per bag, these are guilt-free snacks. Available in lightly salted or slightly peppered, these will have you throwing out your bags of crisps.

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Perfect for those following a Paleo diet or those just looking for a healthier snack alternative. These snacks are ridiculously addictive. Available from Morrison’s, Ocado, Planet Organic, Harvey Nics and many other places now.

7. Sprout Tasty Gardens

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There’s nothing healthier than freshly grown microgreens. Tasty Gardens makes growing your own microgreens simple with little waterproof boxes made from FSC certified cardboard and lined with hemp mats instead of soil. All you have to do is sprinkle the seeds on the mat and keep watered on your windowsill. Within a couple of weeks they’ll provide a harvest of microgreens.

Microgreens are the first, small leaves of a plant which are packed full of flavour and goodness. Microgreens are easy to grow on the window ledge all year round and when added to salads, sandwiches and other dishes they add bursts of flavour, texture, colour as well as nutrients.

Choose from Broccoli, Sunflower, Radish, Cress or Basil. Sprout Tasty Gardens start at £8.90 for a pack of 3 boxes. www.sproutworld.com

Thanks to everyone for sending me samples of the above to review 🙂 All opinions are my own and I wasn’t forced to write good reviews.

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June 19, 2016

Facing the future…with a beautiful face

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Face the Future or not, but if you haven’t…now’s the time to click on that link. If you are a beauty addict, like me, then there really isn’t a better place to find everything you need. Shop by skin type, pick up big and niche brands and treat yourself to a little beauty luxury.

One of the great brands they stock is Beaute Mediterranea a range of Spanish made products created by a pioneering cosmetic laboratory in Barcelona. With innovative active ingredients at high concentrations, this stuff really works.

I was sent the Bee Venom Lifting Cream to review by Face the Future. Beautifully packaged and smelling gorgeous, this cream was already off to a good start before I started using it.

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Here’s the beauty blurb on this cream: This firming anti-wrinkle cream is formulated with vegetable Botox-like lifting agents for a smoother and more youthful appearance.

The combination of Bee Venom and tropical plant extracts target fine lines and wrinkles to dramatically improve the rough texture of skin. A botanical extract acts as an instant smoothing tensor to provide a rapid lifting and firming effect.

Benefits of Beauté Mediterranea Bee Venom Lifting Cream:
•Firming anti-wrinkle cream with Bee Venom
•Instantly and dramatically improves the appearance of wrinkles
•Paraben free

And here’s my blurb:

I tested the cream for three weeks before posting this review and can say that my skin became softer and fine lines did look faded.

I just loved the texture and smell of this cream so will definitely be purchasing again along with the rest of the range on Face the Future.

 

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June 18, 2016

Lying on a bed of nails…

This is something I’ve been excited to tell you about for a while. I’m completely converted to the idea of lying on a bed of nails everyday!

I’ve been trying this one out for a couple of months to really test it out. Essentially a bed of nails, the Pranamat Eco is a beautiful mat covered with little lotus flowers which activate the body into boosting its natural defences, metabolism, blood circulation and stimulates the lymph nodes. Based on traditional massage principles it’s designed to help you relax and take away any pains which you might suffer from.

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Now, I know lying on a bed of nails isn’t necessarily the most appealing of activities – but trust me on this – you build up gradually over a course of days and weeks until you can spend longer and longer on the mat. I’ve always suffered from migraines, unfortunately, but since I’ve been using this for just 15 minutes a day, I’ve had only one (which is really unusual for me), so there’s definitely something in it.

I’ll keep using it and promise to update you on how it’s going. The mats also look beautiful and are available in either turquoise, orange or lavender. (Mats start at £90 and pillows from £60)

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May 19, 2016

Serving Up Love With IJustloveit

My roast dinners are my signature dish. Thanks to years of watching my Dad in the kitchen preparing the perfect roast potatoes and timing everything perfectly, I can now replicate and have to say my roasties are now on a par with those of my Dad. Beautifully fluffy, yet crisp on the outside.

However, there’s always been one thing my perfect roast dinner has been lacking – great serving spoons. It’s all well and good serving up a bowl of steaming vegetables and crispy potatoes, but unless your guests can serve them up stylishly, they won’t live up to your hype!

So I was very excited to discover the beautiful serving spoons on sale at www.ijustloveit.co.uk.

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These beautiful vintage serving spoons can be purchased with wonderful little sayings on them or you can personalise them to say anything you want. What a great gift idea for the person who has everything! (only £27.99 each).

There’s also a really cute little butter knife (only £14.99)

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With Father’s Day just around the corner, why not visit www.ijustloveit.co.uk to purchase a personalised gift? They’ve got everything from Personalised Beer & Cider, newspapers and football books through to kitchenware and candles.

Visit www.ijustloveit.co.uk for more info.

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May 6, 2016

What I’m loving this month

Where did April go? I can’t believe it’s May already. I’ve had a ridiculously busy month with one thing and another, enjoying a fantastic holiday in Dubai, spending a girls’ weekend in Malmaison in Oxford and spending a lot of time with family, as my sister recently had a little boy.

Now onto May. I love May. Not only is it my birthday month, it’s my wedding anniversary and it’s traditionally one of the hottest months of the year (Not an official number – just my thoughts!)

Anyway, onto other things. Here’s a round up of my favourite things which I tried in the last month.

1. YumCha’s iced tea cordials

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There is little more refreshing in the hot weather than a cooling glass of iced tea…but have you seen the amount of sugar and flavourings in them? Well YumCha is different. With roughly half the sugar of a regular iced tea, this cordial style iced tea packs a flavour punch without the sugar hit.

The range is available in 5 flavours: Sour Plum, Moroccan Mint, Earl Grey, Jasmine and Lemon Ceylon. I tried the Sour Plum, which is a traditional summer drink in China made with dried Wu Mei plums, liquorice root and sweet osmanthus flowers. Deliciously different, this adds a grown up flavour to iced tea. I also tried the Earl Grey which I absolutely loved. I’m yet to try these cordials with vodka or gin…but I can definitely see it working in cocktails.

£3.95 from Delis, Farm Shops and Amazon. For more information on YumCha visit: www.yumchadrinks.co.uk

2. Arabica Food and Spice

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Arabica Food and Spice was born out of a passion for the food of the Levant — the sun-drenched lands of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Its founders, Jordanian Jad and Londoner James have travelled extensively through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel to procure the finest Levantine produce. As well as sourcing the very best ingredients from the area, so we can create delicious meals at home, they’ve also packaged them up in the most beautifully decorated packaging which will want you collecting them all. From Rose Water and Pickled Turnips through to the most delicious Turkish Delight, Cous Cous Spices and Steak Rubs, there is something for every dish and every cook. I was sent a selection to try and we’ve been using them across everything, from covering our fish in spices, to adding rose water to our baking and getting out the pickled turnips at a family gathering for everyone to try.

Arabica Food and Spice also offer hampers, so why not pick up something a little bit different for a good friend’s birthday this year.

Visit www.arabicafoodandspice.com to shop online.

3. We Are Tea

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If you didn’t already guess, I’m a bit of a tea fan. There’s little better than a warm brew to keep you going through the day, which is why I was excited to receive a delivery of a mixture of amazing teas from We Are Tea along with one of the fantastic Simplicitea Infusers.

We Are Tea is an independent tea company whose aim is to make exciting tea blends more accessible to the normal person.  Packed by hand in the UK, they source the finest ingredients from around the world to create beautiful tea combinations. They have a huge range of loose teas but also a core range of tea bags.

They also sell this amazing Simplicitea Infuser which infuses one mug’s worth of tea – it’s hard to explain but you fill it with hot water and tea, leave it to infuse and then place the bottom over a mug and the tea comes out through the bottom – absolute genius.

Available online, Ocado.com and Tesco nationwide. Visit www.wearetea.com for more information.

4. Essential Cuisine Stock

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Used by professional chefs and amateur cooks alike, these stocks are great taste award winning, so you know they are good! These small pots make an amazing amount of delicious stock (6-8 litres) – perfect every time. Simply add water to the granules and then add to dishes wherever stock is required.

You can also add extra flavour, without adding further liquid, to soups, risottos and more, by sprinkling the powder directly into the dish.

Visit http://homecook.essentialcuisine.com for more information

**All of the above were sent to me to review. However, opinions are all my own!**

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March 3, 2016

Nourishing from within: A review of Nutriseed (10% off code)

**Update: If you want to get 10% off your order, use the code ANOSE10 when checking out at Nutriseed**

Let’s face it. Any New Year’s resolutions are long gone. We all started the year with grand plans to stay clear of the booze, chocolate and other temptations and they’ve pretty much all gone to pot now we are into March.

However, there’s one thing you can start now, which is easy to do, tasty to do and comes beautifully packaged – that’s start shopping at Nutriseed. Nutriseed stocks a huge range of all natural raw ingredients -great for healthy baking, smoothie making and general healthy cooking.

With everything from Shelled Hemp Seeds and coconut oil, through to Ashwagandha and Acai Berry Powder, there really is something for everyone!

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  Selection of products I was sent to try

Great for adding to smoothies, Acai bowls, greek yoghurt and fruit or sprinkling on soups and salads. You get plenty in a pack and I’ll have to stock up soon, as I’ve been getting through them all.

Need some healthy recipe inspiration? Then why not try this super simple Ashwagandha Smoothie Recipe from Nutriseed

Super Simple Ashwagandha Smoothie Recipe

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Modern day living is stressful. You don’t need us to tell you that. Ashwagandha, a herb that has been used for the thousands of years has grown in popularity recently, partly due to its adaptogenic quality, which means that it helps you adapt to certain environment, directly lowering stress levels.

Go grab yourself
•250 ml of almond milk (or any other nut milk/coconut milk)
•1 frozen banana
•1 tsp. Nutriseed Ashwagandha powder
•1 tsp. cinnamon
•2 dates
•1 tbsp. Nutriseed Shelled Hemp Seeds
•1 tbsp. peanut butter or a small handful of nuts (Or just leave out, if like me you have an allergy!)

You ready? Here goes…
•Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Simples!

Visit Nutriseed to order your ingredients now.

Quick tip – sign up for the newsletter and get 10% off your first order 🙂

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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.

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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.

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Our massive bed with fresh white robes 

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The lovely bathroom

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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March 1, 2016

Wildflower restaurant at The Moorland Garden Hotel

At the end of last year (time flies doesn’t it), I had a wonderful stay at The Moorland Garden Hotel. While we were staying there we were invited to try out The Wildflower Restaurant at the hotel.

An incredibly popular restaurant with locals and visitors alike, the Wildflower Restaurant using locally sourced food and has an ever changing menu, to reflect the seasons.

My sister started with the soup of the day

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While I opted for the amazing terrine. Beautifully made, this was absolutely delicious and a real highlight of the meal.

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We then went onto our main courses, with my sister opting for a risotto. With an enormous piece of fish (I honestly can’t remember the full details of her dish, but needless to say, it was delicious). Just look at the picture below!

DSC00722I opted for the Creedy Carver Duck breast which was served with butternut squash, curly kale and fondant potatoes. The duck was cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious. DSC00723

Finally, to round off a delicious meal, we tucked into our desserts.

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We were probably your nightmare diners, with me and my nut allergy and my sister being pregnant and having to avoid lots of food – but the staff were amazing and altered dishes to suit us as required. The staff at the restaurant were really amazing – I just love the way they remembered you from breakfast. Great service!

Visit The Wildflower Restaurant to find out more and book. A perfect restaurant for any occasion.

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February 29, 2016

The Winter Garden at The Landmark London

There’s nothing better than treating yourself to a lovely meal in a gorgeous restaurant on a Monday night. Spotting the Bookatable star deal for the Winter Garden at The Landmark London, with an offer of 3 courses with a champagne cocktail for only £35 per person, gave us the permission required to dine out on a Monday without any guilt.

If you’ve never visited the Landmark London before, then now’s the time. Found opposite Marylebone and a stone’s throw from Marylebone High Street and Baker Street tube station, this is a convenient spot for a lovely meal.

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Step into the Winter Garden and immediately feel like you’ve been transported to another country. With huge palm trees in an indoor garden setting, it’s elegant and sophisticated, yet has that feeling of being in another country. Dinner is accompanied by a piano player (very posh). Although a posh setting, it was a comfortable place to dine, with staff who were incredibly attentive, yet friendly and warm. Great service.

We started the evening with our champagne cocktail, which was included as part of the offer. Setting us off on the right track, we went on to order a bottle of house champagne and had the best Monday night out in a while!

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Here’s the menu we had to choose from. As you can see, it’s pretty good for a set menu, especially if you love duck and beef, as I do!

The Winter Garden at The Landmark London isn’t the only Bookatable star deal. There’s plenty of others to choose from, all which include a set menu, some with drinks thrown in, for a bargain price. If there’s a restaurant you’ve really wanted to visit but can’t warrant the price, then check out Bookatable first, as their offers are really savvy.

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I opted for the duck, followed by the beef and finished off the meal with the vanilla cheesecake. Please excuse the darkness of the images, but unfortunately, it was incredibly atmospheric in the restaurant, which didn’t make it easy to take the best photos…but trust me, the food was excellent. I was obviously in the mood for slow cooked meat, as both the duck and the beef were cooked in the same way and were mouth-wateringly delicious.

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Amazing, falling apart in your mouth, beef

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The beautifully presented vanilla cheesecake

An absolutely fantastic meal in a delightful setting with great service. I’ll definitely be back.

It’s definitely worth checking out the Star Deals on Bookatable. There’s some great offers available at restaurants across London that I’d love to dine in. I’ll be making my way through the offers over the next few months, I’m sure!

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January 18, 2016

Neutral foundations, bright accents: A closer look at 2016’s top kitchen trends

This year is the year we finally get around to getting a new kitchen. We’ve spent the last month choosing the perfect kitchen and have finally put in the order. I can’t wait!

I’ve pulled together some top trends for kitchens in 2016 below to give you a little inspiration.

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While a bold colour palette and eye-catching industrial fixtures were some of the most popular kitchen trends for 2015, a new trend for 2016 will see these strong design features dialled back in favour of more understated colour schemes. We will see tastes moving in a more neutral direction, with creams, beiges, greys, and whites set to become the most popular colours for new kitchen designs.
These more passive shades will act as a warm and natural backdrop, as kitchen designers take the large-scale vivid colouring of the previous year and apply it on a more minimal scale. The elegance and balance brought by these colours will be accentuated with bright tones in tiles, worktops, and other accessories.
The real beauty of this style is the degree of flexibility it offers you when decorating your kitchen. With the neutral colour tones, you can really express yourself when it comes to choosing your accents. Accessories can quickly be updated to match the latest colours or patterns, and you don’t have to worry about overhauling your kitchen’s style in the process.
Below are three great items you can incorporate to add a splash of personality to your neutral kitchen.

Koge Ball Pendant Lamp, Urbanara, £79

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The elegant design of this Koge Ball Pendant Lamp is ideal for bringing a splash of colour to your kitchen. The understated, 60s-inspired design is crafted from stainless steel and has a matte finish with a transparent plastic cord and a stainless steel canopy. This Danish-designed lamp has a smooth, clean style that will look very much at home against the neutral background of your kitchen. The lamp is available in a variety of attractive matte and gloss finishes, so if you already have a colour scheme that you are working with for your kitchen accents, there will be a design to match.

Bugatti Vera Kettle, Red Candy, £189

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More widely known for their high-end sports cars, Bugatti have turned their hand to kitchen appliances to produce this striking stainless-steel kettle. The futuristic conical design hides a high-tech heating system that can have your water boiled within 30 seconds. The kettle is available in several vivid colours: apple green, red, orange, and lilac, all of which will look fantastic in your kitchen when incorporated into a matching colour scheme.

 

LSA International Flower Colour Bud Vase, Houseology, £14.50

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The sleek and simple teardrop design of this vase from LSA can add an instant colour impact to your neutral kitchen. The vase is manufactured from mouth-blown coloured glass, and is perfectly weighted at the base with a tapered finish towards the top. With a variety of coloured tints available, there are many creative possibilities available for your kitchen accents. To capture the vase’s most beautiful look, combine it with a flower of the same or similar shade for a delightful style piece that will bring a touch of elegance to your kitchen.
With these recommendations, you should be able to get ahead of the curve with the newest kitchen trend for 2016. Once you have your neutral backdrop, you will be able to inject a drop of personality into the accents of your kitchen.

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