Everyone knows just how much I love my Thomas. So much so that he even has his own Instagram page to update everyone of his daily goings on. He’s a clever little cat and with him being a house cat, he has such a personality that has enabled me to be able to teach him little tricks. He knows how to wake me up, to make himself heard and he will even play fetch. What a clever boy. When I saw that Whiskas, (which happens to be Thomas’s favourite brand for his daily dry food), were running a Kitten Kollege, I thought this was an absolutely perfect way to showcase just how clever my cat is. With many people getting involved in Kitten Kollege, and some hilarious kitten behaviour videos on YouTube, I couldn’t wait to get grading Thomas on his tricks. It’s time to go back to school Thomas!

PE

There is definitely no denying that Thomas is an agile little cat and he can fly through the air with ease when it comes to catching rolled up balls of tin foil. He loves to climb up high and jump onto the top of cupboards and walk across the top of the door, swiping at my head when I come too close. I often find him contorting himself into some strange positions when it comes to taking blog photos. Kitten gymnastics? He gets an A* for that!

Whiskas Kitten Kollege with Thomas!

Whiskas Kitten Kollege with Thomas!

Geography

Thomas is a house cat and although he has never shown any signs of wanting to be an outdoorsy kind of kitten, he does like to go for a run around on the balcony. I have no issues with playing outside, because he knows when I’m asking him to come inside, just as he knows exactly what number house he lives at! Another A* for Thomas.

Home Economics

For a cat that doesn’t like water, Thomas sure does love it when I say it’s time for a shower. As soon as I say the magic word, he likes to sit in the bath and wait for me to turn the tap or shower on so he can drink the running water. But, as soon as the water touches him, he’s out of there like a flash. B for effort.

English

He will never be able to speak, but just how cute does he look next to my Hello sign. He’s just adorable. He could do better and learn to miaow back when I say hello. Must improve – C.

Whiskas Kitten Kollege with Thomas!

Whiskas Kitten Kollege with Thomas!

Music

Morning is when the dawn chorus starts. Have you tried to get ready for work whilst the cat is singing to you? It’s like I can’t get a word in edge ways. Thomas loves to chirp at me whilst I walk down the stairs ready to feed him a bowl of his morning Whiskas with chicken Kitten food and a fresh bowl of water. He literally sings for his supper, or breakfast. Another A* for being so clever.

Thomas has been my fur baby for nearly 9 years. In fact, he’s 9 at the end of this month and I wouldn’t change him for the world. I’d love to introduce another cat into the house but I would definitely be asking for trouble. He’s the man in charge. In the meantime, I will just have to satisfy my kitten addiction with the Whiskas YouTube channel. It’s just adorable.

Also, the old adage definitely goes. Never work with kids, or animals. Getting shots set up on a cat photo shoot does not work!

*This post is in collaboration with Whiskas, but all opinions are my own. Thomas gave consent to being featured and you can check out the YouTube Channel for more Kitten Kollege fun, as well as the Whiskas website for all the yummy cat food for kittens!

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Are you putting together your bucket list? Here are thirty items that you should add.
1. Take a Helicopter Ride
If you’re a fan of flying, you can enjoy some awesome helicopter experiences in London, including learning how to fly one yourself.
2. Skydive
For adrenalin junkies, there’s nothing more trilling than jumping out of a plane to add to your bucket list!
3. See the Northern Lights
A beautiful sight to behold, you’ll never forget one of nature’s great displays; the Aurora borealis, which occurs most commonly in the Arctic region.
4. Visit the British Museum
Located in London, the British Museum is one of the most popular in the UK and showcases hundreds of wonderful exhibits where you can learn more about the history of the British Empire over time.
5. Take a Road Trip
Whether it’s with friends, family, or even on your own, there are hundreds of stunning roads to get behind the wheel on worldwide. Ditch the airline ticket for your next trip and drive instead!
6. Travel Alone
Pick a country, and take a trip there by yourself. Travelling alone will help you get in touch with your independence and force you to make new friends whilst giving you plenty of much needed alone time.

30 Bucket List Items to Swipe Immediately

30 Bucket List Items to Swipe Immediately

7. Learn a New Language
There are several great reasons to learn a new language today, including better job prospects, increased social opportunities, and simply for the fun of it.
8. Get a Tattoo
Permanency can be a scary thing at times, which is why many people are afraid to commit to getting a tattoo. But, thanks to modern technology you can now have tattoos removed, so getting one is a great experience to have even if you do change your mind later.
9. Dine in a Top Restaurant
Experience exquisite food and perfect service at one of the best restaurants in the world.
10. Live Abroad
Explore the culture and heritage of another country by becoming a resident there for a prolonged period of time.
11. Face a Fear
What are you scared of the most? Make facing and overcoming one of your biggest fears a major bucket list priority.
12. Party in Vegas
It’s a once in a lifetime experience!
13. Bungee Jump
Do it for charity, for fun, or just for the photos.
14. Get a Pet
Sharing your life with an animal can provide you with company, laughs, and more meaning in your everyday life.

30 Bucket List Items to Swipe Immediately

15. Volunteer Abroad
Humanitarian aid companies abroad are always looking for new, excited and motivated people to join their teams.
16. Learn to Surf
Catch some waves!
17. Swim with Dolphins
Swimming in the sea with dolphins is surely an experience that you’ll never forget.
18. Meet Someone Famous
Get your claim to fame!

30 Bucket List Items to Swipe Immediately

19. Write a Book
Is your head always buzzing with different ideas for stories? Are you great at giving people advice about their problems? If so, writing a book and having it published has never been easier, thanks to eBooks!
20. Ride a Gondola in Venice
Do it with your significant other for the most perfect and romantic date!
21. Climb a Mountain
There are several to choose from – Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, The Andes in Peru, Mount Everest in Nepal, or Mount Fuji in Japan, to name some of the most popular.
22. Learn an Instrument
If you love music, then why not start making your own?
23. Fly in a Hot Air Balloon
You’ll never forget the views!
24. Run a Marathon
Improve your fitness and make yourself proud by finishing a marathon. Even better, do it to raise money for a good cause!
25. Attend the Olympic Games
Get your ticket to this worldwide sporting event, held in different locations around the world every four years.
26. Learn to Ski
Take to the slopes – it’s great for your health and awesome fun!
27. Try an Extreme Sport
Take part in an extreme sport such as parachuting, bungee jumping, or kitesurfing.
28. Befriend a Stranger
Strangers are simply friends that we haven’t met.

30 Bucket List Items to Swipe Immediately

29. Plant a Tree
In a society where natural resources are being used more than ever, the world needs more trees! Trees are great for the environment, promote health, and give shelter.
30. Further Your Education
Don’t hold yourself back when it comes to getting a degree, learning a new skill, or taking a course.
What’s on your bucket list?

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I am thoroughly enjoying bring food reviews to you as it enables me to indulge in two of my favourite pass times; writing and eating. As I’m based in Manchester, the restaurants that I visit are in the local area and I do think that Manchester is fast becoming a real diverse place for all cuisine as well as having areas around the town that are absolutely thriving. It’s no secret that I love Spinningfields, and you would find me here more often than say the Northern Quarter. I have written about Artisan Bar and Restaurant before, however the menu has since been updated for summer and I had to go and try it out. A glorious summer day outside, the coolness of the interior of Artisan gave us much need relief from the burning sun, and a chance to catch up with my Sister-in-law.

I don’t know what it is about the sun, but it makes me want to drink a big glass of rosé over ice. It’s not a usual choice, but I started off the afternoon with a glass of a Garnacha Rosada. I had previously browsed the menu online so I knew what I wanted when it came to both starter and dessert, but I did look again just in case I had changed my mind. Sticking with a classic baked Camembert with a bacon crumb and crisp flatbread. I took my lactose tablets beforehand to make sure I could digest it easily. I’m still a sucker for melted cheese, especially when mixed with bacon. I don’t think there was a single morsel left by the time it came to clear the table. The cheese was perfectly ripe, oozing and delicious without any sign of a bitter after taste. The crisp flatbread made light work on scooping out every morsel, and although it was quite large was a starter, I had plenty of room for my entree. Claire ate the braised chorizo with Cipollini onions, cherry tomatoes and granary bread. I only had a small taste of the chorizo, but it was cooked beautifully, with the oil from the chorizo flavouring the tomatoes and permeating the granary bread.

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Again, when it came to the main course, I had already pre planned which dish I wanted but after hearing our server describe it, I didn’t even look at anything else. Going for the salt and pepper St. Louis belly pork rib with Asian slaw, Kimchi ketchup and a side of summer greens was the best decision I made that day. Belly pork is one of those dishes that jumps off the menu and I find that you don’t see it very often in restaurants. I do think that Artisan have made an great addition to the menu with this. The belly pork was cooked so well, that I had no difficulty in sliding the meat from the bone. The crackling was succulent and crunchy, with the meat so tender that it fell apart in my mouth. The Asian slaw that accompanied the meat was the pinnacle. Crispy slaw, with crunchy chopped peanuts and sesame seeds, it was light and fresh. The Kimchi ketchup brought a whole new meaning to taste sensation. Several times through my meal, I had to stop as I had an explosion of flavours in my mouth and I couldn’t work out what it was. Combined together, it was incredible and probably the best thing I have eaten in a long time. The next time I go back, I wouldn’t even look at the rest of the menu and go straight for the belly pork. Claire indulged in a medium rare rib eye steak with fries, which was cooked just how a medium rare steak should be cooked. The fact that we were pretty silent whilst eating spoke volumes.

There’s always room for dessert and I was torn between the lemon tart and the chocolate meringue. I chose the chocolate meringue with banana, Chantilly cream and salted caramel whilst Claire had the chocolate and hazlenut brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. I was actually quite pleased to see a meringue that wasn’t packed with summer fruits, which although lovely, gets to be a bit boring after a while. The meringue was made with chocolate and was one of those huge meringues that you struggle to chip into delicately, sending shards across the table. The salted caramel and banana combination made the dessert very light, ideal with it being the third course, and although it was very sweet, the saltiness of the caramel took the edge off somewhat. I only had a small bite of the chocolate brownie, and I think that Claire enjoyed it as it was gone in minutes.

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Artisan Manchester Summer Menu

Finishing off our meal, it would be rude not to squeeze in a cocktail, before heading out into the 30 degree heat of Manchester. The Cherry and Coconut Sling jumped straight out of menu to me. I adore cherry and I’m having a love affair with anything coconut at the moment. Maybe I’m dreaming of holidays or something? Cherry preserve, Appleton V/X, Koko Kanu, thyme, lime juice & coconut water blended together over ice and garnished with twisty orange peel and a sprig of fresh thyme. Fresh, fruity, not overly sweet nor strong in the sense that the alcohol can be detected over the flavours of the cocktail mix. A wonderful refreshing cocktail to round off the afternoon.

As I continue with my quest of trying out all the Sunday roasts around Manchester, I will have to come back to Artisan to sample their offering. I may try a different meat this time. After all they do have pork and after that tasty slice of belly pork, I can only imagine how good it will be. Artisan is located on the Avenue at Spinningfields, open daily.

*Meal and drinks provided free of charge however all opinions are my own

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Continuing in my quest to sample all the Sunday roast dinner offerings in Manchester, I’m taking us on a journey to the Grand Pacific in Manchester. Although Grand Pacific only opened in March, it has certainly carved it’s place when it comes to dining and seeing fully booked restaurants week in, week out. When I experienced Grand Pacific for the soft launch in March, I did mention how I would have loved to experience it again but during the day, when it’s full of casual diners rather than press and food reviewers. That chance came as myself and Keeley were invited along to try out the classic Sunday Roast menu back at the beginning of April. You know me and my meat, I couldn’t have turned that opportunity down. A 2pm table was booked for us and during the bright light of day, I found Grand Pacific to be a very different experience.

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

The building and setting is of course, still incredibly beautiful and well designed, but the atmosphere was so different. A Sunday afternoon brought people in who had been shopping, and wanted to grab a quick bite and cocktail at the bar, whilst the restaurant was filling up quickly. We were seated towards the rear of the restaurant, near the window and overlooking King Street. Attentive wait staff came over and served us very quickly for drinks and gave us adequate time to decide if we wanted to try the Sunday Roast menu or experience something from the main menu. We had our sights set on the Sunday Roast, which is priced per course. The menu back in April does differ from the one on the Grand Pacific website, where we had a more limited menu with just one starter and dessert, as well as the two choices of meat. It was almost a 1980s dinner party menu; prawn cocktail, Sunday roast, Sherry trifle. Taking the three course option, we sat back and waited for all the food to arrive. I absolutely love a Sunday roast.

There seemed to have been some confusion as the table service platter of roast beef was wheeled over to us before we had received our starters. The girl could not have been more apologetic, and this was swiftly rectified with the Prawn Cocktail starter arriving to the table. Now, if you read my previous review on Grand Pacific, I did sing the praises of the grandeur of the place but on a Sunday afternoon, I just felt that it was a bit grandiose and borderline try to hard. I felt like I should have been on the Titanic. Combined with the string quartet playing tunes that were slightly mournful, I honestly did feel that I should be selecting a fine Brandy to drink before I went down into the ocean in all my finery.

The Prawn Cocktail starter was served in a splendid ornate silver basket, that made it quite difficult to eat from. I had to remove the glass bowl from the basket to be able to get to the salad inside. Crisp, fresh lettuce topped with chopped tomato, with a generous serving of Marie rose sauce garnished with chopped chives. Four large king prawns hung from the side of the serving bowl, whilst a decorative piece of lettuce was stood upright at the rear of the bowl. On the serving plate, four triangles of what tasted like sourdough bread, and a lemon for zesting. You can see how the presentation is important here, and admittedly it does look very grand, and you can’t also go very wrong with a classic prawn cocktail. My only negative from the starter is how it’s served. I just found it quite fiddly to get the salad out and had to dismantle it.

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

For the second time, the table service meat platter was wheeled towards us, whilst we were served with fresh plates and napkins. I chose the beef, as usual, and two thick slices were hand carved in front of me. I do like my beef to be pink, and it was a perfect soft pink that tasted beautiful. Seasoned well, and not overcooked which is no mean feat if you are wheeling a table side platter around, it tasted a lot better than I imagined it to. Served with the classic Yorkshire pudding and a splash of gravy, I waited for the platter of vegetables to be delivered to the table.

To me, a good Sunday roast isn’t just about the meat, it’s about the vegetables. I don’t often get chance to make several different veg options so I don’t feel guilty by stuffing my face with all I can on a Sunday roast. The platter was served between myself and Keeley, with five different veg options; crispy roast potatoes, the butteriest mash, carrots, a selection of green veg and a bowl of cauliflower cheese. This is exactly what I expect from a Sunday lunch, and this is where the lunch at Neighbourhood fell short. Although between us, we didn’t polish off the entire platter of vegetables, we were pretty close to finishing it. It surprised me to see that the table next to us, where only person had ordered the Sunday roast, received the exact same amount of vegetables that we had served between two of. I don’t know if this is normal or if it was to do with the the lady at the table working for Grand Pacific. If it is, I would say that it would be very over facing to receive that amount of veg for one person.

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

The Grand Pacific Classic Sunday Roast

For dessert, a Hibiscus and Sherry Trifle topped with raspberry sherbet and a floral garnish. Lemon curd créme fraiche tops Hibiscus and Sherry jelly; juicy, fruit and a perfect after dinner dessert. I think a trifle is very underrated and the Hibiscus jelly was a particularly pleasant experience. Slightly tangy, yet it worked well with the zest of the lemon curd créme fraiche, and the subtle tartness of the raspberry sherbet.

Ending my Sunday roast, a pot of tea served in a Grand Pacific branded teapot and matching cup and saucer. The attention to detail is second to none in Grand Pacific, and I do love the experience of being in the beautiful surroundings. I think that now it has been open a few months, that I do want to revisit again to see how things have settled down and fallen into place. Although the service was attentive, there were some minor issues which I don’t think is fair to bring to the blog, because I can appreciate that it was early days of Grand Pacific being opened and I didn’t have any cause for complaint at the time, nor do I now.

I’ve seen some incredible reviews of the High Tea, so I think I would love to try that out very soon. I’m sure I can find an occasion for High Tea and champagne!

*I was invited as a guest however all my opinions are my own.

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When an idea comes into my head about decorating, I usually pine over it without getting off my bum and making it happen. It usually comes down to money. I have champagne taste but lemonade budget and I just want everything to be perfect. There’s also the fact of my capabilities when it comes to decorating. I won’t ever be able to tackle the landing and stairs as the walls are too high and I don’t know what I’m doing, nor will I do the kitchen myself as there are pipes and cupboards and it’s all too much for me. I wasn’t planning on putting my bathroom project into a blog post but it seems that a few of you have got into a tizzy when I mentioned how I’ve used tile paint to freshen up my tiles. It’s going to be quite picture heavy but I will take you through everything and what I bought. Are you ready? Get a cup of tea and get ready for Changing Rooms!

Before

When I first moved in the tiles were blue, the walls had been stripped back to plaster yet there was still dark blue emulsion splashed across the window frames and the back of the toilet. The wooden panel on the bath was dark brown and the floor was a dirty grey underlay with nothing on it. My first decorating project back saw everything get painted white and a vinyl floor in a beech wood effect was laid. Chrome fittings and pink and lime green accessories accented the room.

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

After

I’ve freshened up all the painting making it incredibly white and bright in the small space. Tile paint from Wilkos was used to bring life back to the tiles, white gloss for all the wood work, radiator paint to brighten the radiator and white emulsion for the walls and ceiling. It took me 4 days in total to do all the painting. I worked in a pattern of first coat tiles, woodwork, walls and ceiling and then carried out a second coat once dry. The weather helped in drying however it took me a while because of my own mobility. I also had to take into account filling in holes and letting that dry. The paint on the feature wall was done once I’d done two coats of radiator paint and that had dried. I gave the feature wall two coats of Dulux Urban Obsession matte paint. It’s the most gorgeous paint and although I was slightly worried about it being very dark in the room once finished, it doesn’t actually make the room look small or dark. I’m very pleased. I’m also very proud of my straight lines. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment right there.

I’ve still not managed to get round to changing the flooring as I haven’t yet found the right floor. There’s no need to rush this, and I won’t rush it either. When I find the right one, I will know. Once I’ve had new flooring laid, I will be adding an under sink cabinet to increase storage space.

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Tile Paint / Gloss Paint / Radiator Paint / Feature Wall Paint / White Emulsion

The Decor

I knew in my head exactly what I wanted when it came to decor and I didn’t know if it was going to work or not. I was browsing Argos, because I had seen a copper bin from Habitat which I needed and I spotted these ladder shelves. Designed to place on the floor, I took a risk and added them to the end of the bath where I have wasted space. After taking down the original shelf, I needed something to store my bathroom products on. I added some fairy lights and I’m so pleased with the outcome. I’ve dressed the shelves with the products I’m using the most and saved a space on the bottom shelf for my iPad to go for when I’m in the bath. Little touches like changing the plugs from rubber to stainless steel, and using a vintage filament lightbulb give a sleek and stylish finish.

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

the bathroom project

Rose Gold Lightshade / Vintage Filament Globe Lightbulb / Stainless Steel Basin Plug / Stainless Steel Bath Plug / Ladder Shelves – similar / Silver Mirror / Chrome Towel Rail (similar) / Copper Bin / Copper Basket / Towels / Bathmat / Over Door Hooks /

The Essentials

My favourite part of redecorating was the final touches. A nice handwash, my favourite products and some fragrance layering. I knew I wanted Jo Malone to be the brand of choice for my fragrance of choice. I’ve really started to get into Basil & Neroli, and I found that the scent was giving me the feeling of being in a fancy hotel. I do like to decorate so it feels like a boutique hotel. I have issues I know. From World Duty Free, I got the Jo Malone English Pear and Freesia diffuser to complement Basil and Neroli, and they work so beautifully together. I also wanted a big Aesop handwash for the windowledge. My Mum thinks I’m crazy for spending £27 on a handwash, but there is a bottle of Carex on the side for guests. It’s only me who can use the Aesop! The skincare products on the copper tray are only the ones that I am going to use. There are no products for show this time. I’m being very restrained and trying to use things up. The same goes with my shelf products. I had to laugh when I was putting out my shampoo and conditioner. I had moaned about spending £50 or so on paint, yet my Aveda collection in the bathroom tops £200. I’m terrible!

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Redecorating - The Bathroom Project

Aesop Handwash / Basil and Neroli Candle / English Pear and Freesia Diffuser / Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish / Clinique Take The Day Off / Evolve Face Mask / Votary Facial Oil / Eve Lom Cleanser / Philips Sonicare Toothbrush / Aesop Hydrating Mask / Foreo Luna 2

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I have decided that my ideal job would be to become a connoisseur of Sunday roasts. Could you imagine having a Sunday roast every single Sunday. It literally would make my life. The traditional Sunday roast seems to have taken a bit of a U turn, and whereas you could only get a plate of meat and veg in traditional carvery’s , it now seems there are a lot more restaurants in Manchester that are bring their versions of the cult classic dinner. I was invited along to Neighbourhood with some of my fave bloggers to sample the Neighbourhood Sunday Roast, and having sent in my choice of meat in advance, I was practically salivating at the thought of a lamb lunch.

I’m a huge fan of Neighbourhood, and since it has had it’s revamp, I love the atmosphere and vibe even more. It’s a great place for lunch, as well as for cocktails of an evening. Being surrounded by friends and having a good old gossip on a Sunday afternoon is nothing short of perfect, and it was lovely to finally meet bloggers who I had only spoken to over social media, such as Elsa from Else Eats. I do have to say that the service in Neighbourhood is second to none. Attentive wait staff made sure our every need was catered for, bringing water and topping up drinks as well as checking if we were enjoying our meal. I couldn’t be happier with the service that I received.

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

After having placed a pre order for lamb, I was a little disappointed to be told that the lamb was from the old menu and the new menu featured roast chicken or beef. Being a red meat fan, I chose the beef and was hoping that it was cooked to my taste – pink in the middle. As we didn’t order starters, we were brought a bread basket with a selection of accompaniments including a delicious olive tapenade as well as a green basil pesto dip. The pesto was my favourite and I’m sure I polished off nearly the full bowl with all the bread I was eating.

Service in between the courses was really quite speedy, and it was only a few moments from the wait staff clearing the table, to bringing drinks and then our Sunday lunch. This is where I have to be totally honest with you but when my roast first came out, I was actually sat waiting for the rest of it to come out in separate serving dishes. A slice of meat, two roast potatoes, a small amount of cabbage and carrot and a Yorkshire pudding was present on the plate. Now, I like to eat, and I may sometimes eat too much, but the portion that I was served was extremely disappointing for the £17.50 price. Having eaten at many restaurants who are offering Sunday Dinner, this is definitely the most expensive one for the amount of food that you receive. I was hoping that the food would redeem itself against the small portion, but sadly my potatoes were lukewarm and my Yorkshire pudding tasted stodgy like it had been overcooked and sat out for a long time. The meat, however, was delicious. Not exactly piping hot but enough to not warrant sending it back. It was cooked perfectly and considering it was a large slice of meat rather than several thinner slices like you would get elsewhere, it was cooked well throughout, with minimal fat, a tasty exterior and cooked medium rare. Boats of gravy were present on the table for those who wanted it, and although I enjoyed my meal, I wasn’t exactly overfull when I had finished. I would have preferred a big serving dish full of vegetables to be brought out as a side rather than the minimal cabbage and carrot that was served. Compared to the huge piece of chicken option, the beef was very much paling in significance, so it’s worth bearing in mind.

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

I had to have dessert and I opted for the Lemon Meringue. Served with fresh kiwi, mango and passion fruit, the lemon meringue more than made up for the main course. A thin butter biscuit base with a generous slice of tart lemon topped with delicious meringue that melted in the mouth. A great palette cleanser than rounded off the meal with just the right balance of zest and sweetness.

Throughout the meal, I was drinking Pornstar Martinis which from Neighbourhood are one of my favourite drinks. Sweet, tart, with just the right amount of creamy foam on top, with a flambeed passion fruit and a shot glass of Prosecco. I’m not sure which prosecco they use, but I did have a glass before I left.

When it comes to the food in Neighbourhood, I have never had any problems with any of the food that I have had in the past, but I feel that the Sunday roast is just lacking that wow factor, especially when there are restaurants surrounding Neighbourhood that offer a far superior meal, and for a more reasonable price. For example, Artisan which is directly opposite has a great Sunday roast that is £5 cheaper, whilst further down Spinningfields, The Refinery offers one of the best roasts that I have ever tried, which for the same price absolutely knocks socks off Neighbourhood. I do feel that if Neighbourhood want to succeed in the Sunday roast market they definitely need to up their game. For a comparison, I had lunch out of the city, and although I didn’t get a photo of the serving dish full of cauliflower cheese, green beans, carrots and broccoli, you can see that just from the initial presentation of the meat, potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshires, it certainly has the wow factor, and is even more impressive at just £9.99 for the one course.

Sunday Lunch at Neighbourhood, Spinningfields

Aside from that, I had an absolutely lovely time catching up with friends and it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon before heading home to go back to the daily grind.

*Sunday Roast was provided FOC, however all opinions are my own.

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It’s July so that means that Festival season is in full swing. Now, although I haven’t ever been to a festival before, I do love the fashion and trends that come with the season. Not wanting to keep myself from the experience, I set out to treat myself to some festival essentials which, to be quite honest, I was in my element buying. And, as I’m not going to be stood in a muddy field, I could afford to scrimp on actual essentials and go crazy on essentials that I don’t actually need – such as glitter hairspray and stick on face jewels.

Festival Survival with Polo Mints Pots

Festival Survival with Polo Mints Pots

Festival Survival with Polo Mints Pots

One of the main reasons that I’ve never been to a festival is down to the toilet and bathing situation. Don’t get me wrong but I think a toilet trip should be accompanied by nice hand wash and a fluffy towel or hand dryer. I also saw the queues for the showers at Glastonbury and thought that myself and my Elemis shower gel would be totally out of place there. Did you also know that shocking research shows that a third of Brits don’t brush their teeth during a five day festival! Thankfully, Polo have stepped in and released Polo Pots in Polo Sugar Free and Polo Sugar Free Extra Strong. Pretty handy in these handbag sized pots, that stay secure to whichever music you are dancing to, and even better, the pots keeps the mints safe from the bottom of the bag debris. Happy days. As is the fact that they’re only 10kcal a mint and are accredited by the Oral Health Foundation as being tooth kind.

When I saw these amazing pom pom covered sandals, I knew that whatever field or festival I walked through, I wanted to be wearing these. Summery and bright, they are literally the epitome of festival fashion. I could imagine myself dancing the night away in these with my mermaid shimmer Primark bag by my side, packed with Polo Pots for those who needed a burst of freshness. I am definitely one of the 80% of people who wouldn’t want to dance with someone with bad breath.

Festival Survival with Polo Mints Pots

Festival Survival with Polo Mints Pots

Finding fun at a festival has to include covering myself with glitter and jewels. Glitter hair, glitter shoulders, glitter chests, I’ve seen some very creative uses of glitter this year so far. I also have found the love for Glitter Lips, the perfect glittery long lasting lipstick. For a great way to show off your pearly whites, Glitter Lips are smudgeproof, kiss proof and party proof, meaning that they will last as long as you do. As the Glitter Lips are kiss proof, you don’t need to be with Polo Sugar Free mints, as they help prevent dental erosion when you don’t get chance to brush your teeth twice daily like recommended. And, at just £1.49 from nationwide stockists, you’ll not find an easier way to keep fresh and Frestival ready!

What are your festival essentials? Can you spot anything that I have picked that you will take with you to a festival? Do people really take their own toilet roll in their bag? I actually don’t know if I could cope with it all!

Advertorial with Polo Sugar Free Mints.

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With the issues with my back still ongoing, it’s been quite refreshing that things have been progressing quite well when it comes to getting it fixed. After spending the last two months on a new medication, I’m really pleased that it has been effective and my wobbly leg and arm are no longer as wobbly. It makes a huge change to my life when it comes to doing household chores and being able to get out of the house. I’ve had that much of a spring in my step that I’ve even been able to tackle some decorating, which from those of you who watched my Instagram Stories, you’ve all been watching in droves and asking me so many questions about tile paint. I will definitely be doing a post on my decorating so keep an eye out for that. Although it took me 4 days to paint four walls, I’m so proud that after months of struggling to do the basic jobs, that I can now be a bit more active and only have to deal with some mild discomfort rather than the pain that I was in.

Anoushka Loves Stock

I’ve recently had a visit to the neurosurgeon at Salford Royal, one of the best Spinal clinics in the North West. After having a good chat with the surgeon, there is a possibility that we can delay surgery for the time being as the medication is doing it’s job, however with my age, there’s also a window where they want to do the surgery in the future, just so they can get me off the large amounts of tablets that I have to take each day. The prospect of surgery for me isn’t great. I want to get back into work and back into a routine but then again, I also want to get the problem rectified and be able to make a fresh start of my life.

I’ve been thinking about a hospital visit, and rather than be maudlin about it, I’ve been embracing that it will be a few days where I will be looked after and have the best possible care. It’s also a chance for new pyjamas and slippers, a new book and some much needed rest away from social media and my laptop. After a previous hospital stay where I had a tonsillectomy and prior to that, my appendix removed , I had lots of visitors and plenty of time to see people but I did notice things on the ward that people did, that my visitors didn’t do. I’ve put together some of my own tips for a comfortable stay and some tips for visitors that help make a stay much more enjoyable.

Check visiting hours and maximum visitors.

When I had my appendix removed, I was only nine years old. I remember vividly a family used to come and visit a child on the ward, and there were loads of them during the day. It was really noisy and I found it quite distressing as a child to be away from my family for that length of time whilst there were lots of unknown people around. It’s also quite daunting to have so many people sat around especially when it’s my family and you can never get a word in edge ways.

Check what you are allowed to bring in.

The same time that I was in with my appendix removal, a child on the ward didn’t eat hospital food and her family brought in big steaming boxes of curry each night. Although I would have loved to have had some, and I love the smell, I just remember feeling really nauseus from the anaesthetic and all I could smell was curry. It’s nice to have food brought in but remembering that you’re on a ward with others who may not appreciate the smell. The same goes with perfumes and flowers. Post op is often a frustrating time where senses are heightened. I would much prefer a little potted succulent, something that I could take home and nurture.

Bringing in gifts.

It’s always nice to have some home comforts. I know that as a patient, all I want is something to pass the time. Whether it be a puzzle book, some trashy magazines or a new book, I’m grateful for something to keep me occupied. With the hospital having it’s own TV service, I thought that an iTunes voucher to buy a box set of programmes would be a great gift for someone having a hospital stay, or for the latest album to listen to. I will always appreciate a bottle of Perrier water, the latest copies of Take a Break and That’s Life! and my own pillow.

Slater and Gordon are working with bloggers to give their top tips for a successful stay and you can find other tips by searching #HospitalHelpingHand on Facebook and Twitter. Do you have any top tips? I’d love to hear them!

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If you follow me across social media, you will know that I have had a few little projects on the go at the moment. From decorating to accessorising my home, I’ve been keeping my bored little self busy. When you have time to think and have access to inspirational sites such as Pinterest, my mind has gone into overdrive. I like to accessorise my home with meaningful pieces. For example, my bloggers paradise spare room has now had the Jamie Taylor Art Flamingo print hung on the wall, whilst I’m currently looking for artwork to finish off my bedroom. The one area of my house that needs a good lick of paint are the stairs and landing, which is going to be a job for someone else as I can’t reach that high. Instead, I’ve chosen a perfect piece to cover up the walls that need re-skimming, and since I shared it on Instagram, numerous people have asked for the details of my amazing world map canvas from Hello Canvas.

Hello Canvas Vintage World Map

Hello Canvas Vintage World Map

Hello Canvas Vintage World Map

Hello Canvas Vintage World Map

Hello Canvas Vintage World Map

As a seasoned traveller, I have always wanted to get a world map, or even one of those paper maps where you scratch off where you have been. When the opportunity arose to treat myself to any canvas from Hello Canvas, as soon as I spotted the world map section, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to get myself something that I had always wanted. After measuring up the wall, I chose the largest sized canvas at 36 x 48 inches. The Vintage Blue World Map was the one that I was drawn to the most, but I did spend a lot of time deliberating between that and the Classic World Map. I’m pleased that I actually went for the Vintage Blue as now it’s hung on the wall, it fits with the area so well.

I placed the order late Monday 12th and the canvas arrived the following Wednesday by a reputable courier. I was so shocked when I saw the size of the box. Although you kind of know the dimensions, seeing it in real life does blow you away with the size of it, and rightly so, it covers the entire wall at the top of my stairs. Attached to the canvas are mounting hooks to screw into the frame, that hook over nails on the wall. I’ve only used push pins in the wall to hang it, and it’s secure and doesn’t wobble. Also, a pack of 60 red flags come with the canvas, ready for you mark out the places you have visited or even the places you wish to visit. I started to add the flags just across Europe, and as I’ve been all over the place, I didn’t like how cluttered it look so I have removed them all. I’ve left one flag though, right in the heart of Manchester.

Each and every time I walk up the stairs or walk past my Hello Canvas map, I can’t help but stare at it. It’s a truly beautiful statement piece and I am in total love with my new addition to my house.

*Contains PR Samples

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Lagom. The Scandinavian style of balance and moderation. Move over Hygge, it’s time for lagom to make it’s mark on the United Kingdom, with its ‘right amount is best’ philosophy. The right amount is best and I do sometimes wish that I could bring some more lagom into my life. The Rekorderlig Cider roadshow is setting off, across the UK to immerse us into Scandinavian style, and altruistic Swedish lifestyle. The Rekorderlig Wooden Hut will bring the Swedish vista as well as a backdrop for some beautiful Instagrammable shots, and of course Rekorderlig Cider, with its balanced flavours. I’ve been thinking about how balanced my life is, and things that I could do to be more beautifully Swedish.

Lagom is about creating a better, happier and more balanced lifestyle, living sustainably and being conscious of your surroundings. To live lagom, you don’t need to spend vast amounts of money but can simply change habits to have the perfect amount of everything. To me, it’s something so simple yet can have the potential to be so effective on my surroundings. I’ve been looking around at my house to see how I can bring balance to my life, and it came to me that once I’ve stripped things back and removed the clutter, that straight away I have the balance of a clean, sleek and enjoyable living space with no fuss. The philosophy of lagom when translated means not too little, not too much but just right. Isn’t it a beautiful meaning, and one that we could all take on board with ease.

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

One of my favourite parts of my house happens to be my terrace. Whilst the weather is nice, I love to spend time outside in the fresh air, the sun beating down on my face, with a relaxing and chilled out vibe. It’s so relaxing that I’ve noticed how much more my friends are coming round in the sunshine to sit and chat, relax and unwind. I took the opportunity to use such a beautiful day to entertain friends and brought out Rekorderlig Cider in three fruity blends, my favourites being Strawberry and Lime, and Mango-Raspberry.

Served with ice in Mason tumblers, with strawberries on the side to accompany the sweetness and mouth watering taste of Rekorderlig Cider, it was a refreshing afternoon to have a bottle or two, without feeling the need to carry on drinking. Again, in moderation and balance, it was nice to take time to sip a drink, enjoy the strawberries, the company and the sunshine, and unwind after a few days of hard graft in decorating my house. Rekorderlig is a cider that I opt for more than others on the market due to its balanced taste. It’s not too sweet, it’s not too dry, it’s just right. Luckily for me, my local shop stocks all of the different flavours as well as my local supermarkets, so it’s easy to get hold of, as well as being on offer at the moment to give a just right quantity.

As Rekorderlig Cider is taking the Lagom Tour across the UK, why don’t you visit and become beautifully Swedish when it comes to a town near you? Look out for the sampling van in the following locations

Start The Swedish Way with Rekorderlig Cider

The Lagom Tour Dates:
Gunwharf, Portsmouth – 30th June
Jubilee Street, Brighton – 1st July
Rose Lane, Canterbury – 2nd July
Queen Street, Cardiff – 6th July
Crown Square, Spinningfields, Manchester – 21st July

I’ll be heading down to Manchester on the 21st July, and I would love to see you there to grab a selfie and share our pictures across social media using the hashtag #StartTheSwedishWay. Check out the hashtag on social during the tour and see the fun. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

*In Collaboration with Rekorderlig Cider

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Well, after the previous Ideal Girls Night In, I didn’t expect another one to happen so soon, but I am so glad it has. A night where we chat all things beauty, fashion and fun whilst supping on cups of tea, or wine if you so prefer. The babes at Ideal World TV have organised a full night of Girls Night In over on Ideal World TV from 8pm, but we are starting the party early on Twitter, from 19:30. Using the #IdealGirlsNightIn tag, you can keep up with a fab selection of bloggers as well as anyone else who wants to join in. It was brilliant last time, so I really hope you can make it. Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Some of the products that you’ll be seeing on Ideal World TV during the chat come from their top selling ranges such as Zhuzh, Gel Touch, Linda Lusardi Caviar Skincare, Liquilift and Trophy Skin. In fact, Linda Lusardi will be stopping by and joining in the chat on Ideal World TV. I’ve been getting myself prepared ready for the chat and whilst the weather has been nice, I’ve been trying out the Zhuzh Tan Accelerator. I have a full review coming soon, but I have noticed that my skin has gone a beautiful shade of brown, just from sitting on my balcony.

I’ve also been prepping my skin with the Trophy Skin Mini Micro-dermabrasion Kit. I just want to say that I wish I had known about this before spending so much time and money on salon treatments as it’s really doing the job, especially as I’ve been having nightmares with my skin over the last few months.

Now I’m able to move around a bit more freely, I’m going be painting my toes with the Gel Touch Duo whilst using the Liquilift Slender Wrap to compensate for all the cake and chocolate that I’m going to eat!

Don’t forget to join us tonight between 19:30 and 20:30. It’ll be great to see you all and the hashtag is #IdealGirlsNightIn. See you there!

*In Collaboration with Ideal World

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Just how glorious has this weather been? As I write this post, I’m sat on my balcony basking in the sun. Laptop on my knee, with my feet up on my homemade outdoor sofa, with a bowl of peaches to hand and an ice cold glass of Lambrini Very Cherry within reach. The current temperature on my phone is showing that it’s warmer in Manchester than in Orlando and it’s 4pm in the afternoon. Utilising my time wisely and getting my posts scheduled in advance, means that it leaves me free time to relax and enjoy the weather over the penultimate Bank Holiday Weekend. A chilled out Friday afternoon, that although it’s getting unbearably warm, the Vitamin D is giving me a much needed boost.

I recently spent time decorating my balcony ready for summer, and I for one am in love with the tropical oasis that I have created. Since my last post, I’ve added some greenery in the form of tropical Mountain Palm plants as well as a hot pink Cordyline that fits beautifully with the colour scheme. I can’t wait for dusk each night to watch my fairy lights twinkle away on the railings of my balcony, and it’s really quite heavenly out here.

Summer in the City with Lambrini

Summer in the City with Lambrini

Gone are the days of associating Lambrini with drunken Friday and Saturday nights. It’s become a more refined, easy drinking, sweet and fruity refreshment, that quenches thirst. It’s perfect for the sunny days and afternoons of unwinding, either alone or with friends. The Lambrini Sparkling Fruit Wine has brought out a range of new flavours; Very Cherry, So Strawberry, Truly Peachy, Skinny Original and of course the Original flavour. At 5% ABV, it’s very lightweight compared to other wines and more of an easy, laid back drink. The best part is, it’s only £3 a bottle at Tesco.

To long and lazy summer days…Cheers!

*In Collaboration with Lambrini. Please drink responsibly.

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I’m not one to usually write about events as I am quite a social butterfly when it comes to heading out and meeting brands. As you all know, I’ve not had the best few months and going out has posed quite a problem but I hadn’t left the house all week and I love the events at Trevor Sorbie. When I was invited to meet with Boohoo for a pamper evening, I actually managed to get some face on and head out to meet the girls. It was a much needed night and unexpectedly the following day, and although I’m paying for it now with the most horrific dragging ache in my back, I’m looking in tip top condition.

As you know Boohoo.com have a great range of fast fashion that changes with the seasons and brings the most wanted clothes at a price point that can’t be argued. It’s a site that I have been using since its launch back in 2006, and I remember packing up my suitcase to head off to Majorca for the summer with a brand new wardrobe. Boohoo fashions really do cater to the trends of the moment, and I’m currently crushing on floaty summer dresses and pretty sandals, and you can see my top picks at the bottom of the post.

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The event was held at Trevor Sorbie on Spring Gardens in Manchester. A salon that I have visited many a time, and I always get remembered by the guys and girls who work in there. In our own private area of the salon, we were treated to nail treatments and hair styles, whilst we sipped on Elderflower Prosecco and ate nibbles from The Grill On New York St. Claire from The Spa at Malmaison Hotels managed to save my grown out infills for another week and painted my nails in a hot pink called Bikini Bottoms from Jessica Nails. Although I had popped into the event with a slight wave in my hair, Mai, an award winning stylist, used ghds on my hair to create old Hollywood style waves, which I loved! She also gave me some Trevor Sorbie hair products to try out at home.

When I got home and was looking at my goody bag, I noticed two envelopes inside offering me a complimentary cut and blow as well as the opportunity to try the new Eyebrow King on the block, Ky Dolce and his KyBrows treatment. A day of content, and a Friday well spent back in Trevor Sorbie being pampering to within an inch of my life. My first treatment was having my hair trimmed. As I’m in the final stages of getting the colour out before myself and Tasha at Barn//It give my hair a brand new colour, the cut came at just the right time. A small trim, and keeping the length at the front, Sammie gave my hair the sleekest and bluntest cut that I’ve ever had. Literally sliced to perfection, it’s a look that usually I wouldn’t go for but I really fancies something that would be able to hold different styles as it’s all one length. She’s also cut in the back of my hair in a wedge style so not only does it look thicker but it will make it so easy for my to style at home. I’m still having difficulties with blow drying my own hair so this has made my life so much easier!

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

Ky Dolce is going to be the next big thing, mark my words. On meeting him, I felt instantly comfortable around him and we got on like a house on fire. In fact, I’m not sure how he managed to get my brows so perfect as we were laughing so much. The KyDolce Skin Clinic in Trevor Sorbie offers a wide selection of beauty treatments as well as his own brand KyBrows. Elegance Refined is the tagline, and I certainly feel that is just what he has achieved on my brows. Keeping my natural shape, and giving a beautifully defined arch that fits in my style of having a more natural brow these days, he also used a selcetion of tint colours to define but also stand out. An ombré technique, graphite grey and brown tints have been ran through my brows, with the grey tones working in conjunction with my ashy tones of my natural hair colour. They look perfect, and the great thing is that the tint should last around six weeks, which is usually the length of time that I wait before having my brows done again.

I’m feeling like a new woman right now, and it was so much needed. Although, I can’t move much today, I’m still able to swish my hair around and raise a brow to my new look!

*affiliated links

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The Abel Heywood in Manchester is one of the oldest pubs in Manchester. Situated just off Church Street, right in the heart of the Northern Quarter, the pub named after the Victorian mayor of Manchester has undergone a refurbishment to bring a boutique hotel, restaurant and pub to a thriving corner of the city centre. After being down in the dumps, my good friend Keeley took me for a hearty breakfast to try the new brunch menu on a gorgeous Saturday morning over the Bank Holiday weekend. Our table was booked for 11am, and already the pub was filling up with people starting their weekend, whilst guests were calling in for breakfast after their stay in the newly done hotel. Sat in a cosy booth at the rear of the restaurant, we indulged in some delicious food whilst putting the world to rights over a breakfast cocktail.

The interior of the Abel Heywood is that of a traditional pub, a vintage boozer that has an element of modernity with its leather booths and dark wood furniture. It’s almost a mish mash of old and new, but warm and comforting. Think old mans working club but fresh and clean. The breakfast menu is packed full of hearty food, and although I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, I was ravenous once I’d seen the menu. Starting the brunch with a black coffee, I ordered the ‘Manc’ Madame which was basically a full English on a sandwich. What I wasn’t expecting was the size of the portion and I actually cried out loud that I’d never be able to eat all that when it was delivered to the table. Famous last words, as I love my food. The service was attentive and the the delivery of the food to the table was of decent length. Food needs to be ordered at the bar, like at any traditional pub restaurant, and the servers were very clued up on the menu and alternatives if you have any dietary requirements. Although being lactose intolerant, I do like the occasional piece of cheese, although my stomach doesn’t, but I didn’t seek to see if there were any alternatives for dairy free cheese for the sandwich.

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

The ‘Manc’ Madame was probably one of the nicest and filling breakfasts I’ve had in ages. Two thick slices of buttered toast, filled with smoked bacon, Bury black pudding, tomatoes and sausage, topped with melted Lancashire cheese and a fried egg. The egg was cooked to perfection and when broken, the yolk was runny enough to dip the remaining bread in. I had to eat it bit by bit rather than as a sandwich, and I couldn’t finish the top layer of cheesy bread as I couldn’t hack anymore cheese although I really wanted to. Anything that contains Bury black pudding is an absolute winner with me.

The Breakfast Cocktail, also known as a classic Bloody Mary was spicy, with enough vodka to pack a punch. I always found Bloody Mary’s to be quite filling, hence them being a breakfast cocktail, so I made sure I had room after my sandwich. Whilst eating, staff came over to ask how our meal was, clear away our finished plates and offered water for the table. There was also no rushing for us to leave the table even after we had been finished for a substantial time. It’s the little things like that that I remember for future visits. I’d be really intrigued to try the evening menu, to see if it reaches the same standard as the breakfast.

If you are in Manchester this weekend and are out early enough for breakfast, I wholeheartedly recommend the Abel Heywood.

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In recent weeks, I really started putting things into perspective regarding my lifestyle and my life. Aged 34, and I am suddenly getting the sinking feeling that I’m being left behind whilst everyone moves on to different stages of their lives. Although I have had a good decade or more doing things for me, the selfishness that I have grown accustomed to has suddenly shocked me into realising that although I thought I had it all, I actually don’t. I have been that person who has always been the life and soul, the resolutely single friend who is so fiercely independent that it’s it difficult to penetrate the huge barriers that I have around me. Holding things at arms length because I’m scared of being hurt, yet the more I think of about it, the more I realise that I’m only hurting myself. It’s funny because when I write these personal posts, I get a lot of messages from friends asking if I am OK. Although I do have a deeper side to me, it seems that it’s very rare that I let people see it, including my close friends.

Anoushka Loves

Having a lot of time to think about things whilst I’ve been off with my bad back has been a blessing as well as a curse. For one, it’s pushing me to try and keep positive about everything that is happening with my back. My MRI results have come back and a piece of disc around 1cm in size has broken off and is pressing on my nerve so I’m now being referred to a spinal specialist to see if surgery is the best option. It’s not the outcome that I was expecting but I will deal with it in the same manner as I have been dealing with things over the last 10 weeks.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been forcing myself to be a positive little bunny, or because I have been shocked into looking at options for the future, but it’s hit me quite hard that at this stage in my life that nothing has really changed in the last ten years. I’m still single, I don’t have kids and I’m still no nearer to putting my foot on the mortgage ladder than I was when I was 18. I look at others with envy, I see happy family lives where marriage and babies have happened in quick succession. I’m not even sure if I want a baby, but the option would be nice. I’m absolutely useless when it comes to men. Full of bravado but I’m all talk and no action. I can’t date. I don’t know what to say. The last date I went on was in 2012. Seriously, what is wrong with me that I lack the skills that most people have to be able to go out and meet people.

It came up in conversation last week that out of all my close friends, I was the only one who hasn’t got a failed marriage, a marriage, kids or expecting out of us all. I’m scared that it will get to the point where I don’t actually have anything in common with my own friends as they move on, naturally, whilst I get left behind. Have I protected myself that much, that it’s impossible for people to get in, to get to know the real me and not the blase and flippant ‘it’s all about me’ attitude that I guess I give off.

Last week I said to the future Anoushka ‘do something each day that scares you’. Maybe the terrifying thought that I have let myself get left behind is enough to push me to change things. Because, in all honesty, being left behind is scary and it’s not something that I’m willing to experience. A fresher, brighter more positive outlook and a surge in self confidence and esteem may be the making of me and I’m ready for action.

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It’s May, and although my eyes maybe deceiving me, I’m pretty sure that we are heading into Summer with this teaser of nice weather. Although it’s not particularly warm right now and I’m still having to pop the heating on for an hour or two some nights, I am feeling the blue skies and sunny days. As soon as it starts to look like it’s heading for the good weather, I love to spend time on my balcony. It’s not particularly large or roomy but it’s mine, it’s private and it’s so pretty. In true Anoushka style, it’s got it’s own sense of uniqueness and I’ve tried to make my tiny space into a vibrant, lively area. To add to the ambience, the Cuban Festival Yankee Candles have been bringing my balcony to life. Balcony party anyone?

I like to change things up in my decor frequently, so I utilise shops that offer ‘fast fashion’ with a current style. I love browsing Primark Home and I feel that as a brand it has really upped its game in recent years. It a bloggers paradise for props and also for some truly lovely items. From Primark, these outdoor cushions were a great find and make a particularly bland storage box into a comfortable seating area. I particularly love the Pineapple cushion which was just £3. I’m also a bit of a magpie for fairy lights and when I spotted the watermelon solar lights, I thought they were perfect for the look. I’ve had my patio table and chairs for a few years now and the hot fuchsia pink means that all bright colours look good as a contrast. I can’t help but be a pink girl at heart. Again, from Primark, the melamine plates and tropical print bowls are great for outdoors with no breakages.

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

Taking a wander into Poundland for some batteries lead me to their summer section where I found the most adorable melamine coral wine glasses and some pretty lanterns which I’ve attached to my balcony rails using vegetable ties. I just need some more fairy lights to brighten it up and I’m going to have the most prettiest balcony in my village! I never expected to find such good stuff in Poundland and I’m under no illusion that it will last forever but neither does summer in the UK.

I can’t wait to get my friends round for Pimms and nibbles, and we can be transported from the villages outside of Manchester, to Cuba with the beautiful scents from Yankee Candle. The Cuban Festival collection comprises of five scents; Cuban Mojito, Viva Havana, Tobacco Flower, Tropical Fruit Crush and Delicious Guava. Having spent a lot of time in Cuba over the last ten years, there is something special to these scents and they do transport you back to the white sandy beaches, clear blue seas and the vibrancy of the Cuban sunshine and nature. Tobacco Flower is the most delicate of the two candles, with a spicy yet sweet, woody scent that brings out the soft Jasmine. I can smell jasmine and tobacco flower instantly, but the warming richness of Tonka bean really comes through when it’s lit. When it’s unlit, the fragrance is a lot different to when it is lit, with the burn bringing the woodiness to the forefront.

My favourite of the two that I have has to be the Yankee Candle Delicious Guava. Tropical to a tee, the guava is at the forefront of the scent, combined with a blend of mango, peach and lemon. It smells good enough to eat and this is the candle that I have been reaching for to burn most recently.

Although Yankee Candles are more on the pricier side, they last for such a long time, around 110 hours of burn, which makes them great value for money. The large jars are £23.99, however they do have the Cuban Festival range in the smaller candles as well as the wax melts and votives. On the Yankee Candle website, you’ll also see the accessories which bring the exotic scents to life in your home. I have a lot of Bath and Body Works candles in my home but since burning my Yankee Candles, I hate to admit it, but the Bath and Body Works ones pale in significance.

With my balcony looking fit for a tropical party, I think it’s a must. Who’s coming round for a Mojito?

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