Friday, 14 September 2018

Travel // Seven Top Things To Do in Bari, Italy

If you saw my post last week, you will know that I rather excitingly won a weekend away to Bari on the southern coast of Italy with Wizz Air. Literally one of the most exciting things to happen to me!

It was part of a huge PR stunt, which chartered a mystery flight from London Luton Airport to the Unknown, and none of us knew where we were going until we landed. Mega exciting! 

That blog post was mainly focused on the excitement and process of The Trip to The Unknown, so I thought I'd do a follow up post to talk more about the top things to do in Bari.

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Bari is a pretty sleepy little town beautifully quaint with cobbled streets, wide open squares, ornate churches, stretches of sea side promenade and a small sandy beach. You could pretty much experience it all within half a day, or a full day if you want to go and explore inside the churches and the fort.

There are a few shops if that’s your thing (including a Sephora!) and there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants to keep you well satisfied during your trip. The train station in town also easily connects you to some of the famously picturesque towns of Puglia, like Polignano a Mare and Alberobello (and in hindsight I wish we’d gone to explore these too - next time!)

As it was though we were very content spending an extremely leisurely couple of days just wandering, soaking up the sunshine, and spending a lot of time chatting and chilling. 

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Here are the seven top things you have to do when you visit Bari


1) Basilica di San Nicola - this church is simply beautiful inside, has been visited by the Pope, and we witnessed two weddings while we were there - a great insight into Italian culture.

2) Eat all the sweet treats - well you can’t go to Italy without trying the gelato can you? We also ate the biggest and most decadent cannoli I’ve ever had, and Bari is also famous for it's Nutella pizza. Well, it would be rude not to! 

3) Walk the city walls - gorgeous views of the city and the coast from a high vantage, with some beautiful colourful houses. Perfect Instagram opportunities! Check out more of my fave Instagram spots in Bari here.

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4) Try the seafood - being a port town, Bari is famous for its seafood. We had some of the nicest grilled king prawns I’ve ever had (and I’ve had A LOT) at Pizzeria Alleggre, just off the Main Square, Piazza Mercantile. There’s an excellent seafood restaurant on the Square itself too - Black and White - but unfortunately we couldn’t get a table!

5) Look up! Bari has one of the most wonderful collection of window boxes and decorations I’ve ever seen! Flowers, colourful windmills, ornate balconies and even some floating teacups - Bari is as beautiful above the warm toned cobbles as it is at street level.

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6) Go to the beach - Bari’s beach is quite small, but it is there - the sand is golden and the sea is warm. I really wished we’d packed our swimming things as the water was crystal clear and the perfect place to cool down on a hot day. It’s sheltered by bars of rock out to sea, so it’s nice and calm and not too deep - perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities. We had a nice little paddle in the sea then went for a drink at the beach bar. Dreamy. 

7) Mercantile Nove Cafe - our favourite spot to sit and chill, we came here at least once a day. The staff are friendly, it’s on the corner of the main square so far enough from the tackier places but close enough to still watch the hustle and bustle. Plus the food is EPIC! They also have a sister restaurant next door which also does insanely good paninis to take away.

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Bari really is a beautiful little town, and such a great place for a short break. It's small, easy to wander and has just the right amount of things to fill your days without needing to rush around. We very easily wiled away three days here, and I'd definitely like to return again, and this time use Bari as a base to explore the other coastal towns nearby. 


As I said in my previous post, it was also pretty cheap in town, and Wizz Air fly there for as little as £17pp. The flight is just under 4 hours, so it’s a great place for a weekend away - leaving after work on Friday and being back at your desk on Monday.


Where are your favourite places for a weekend away?

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Monday, 10 September 2018

Favourites // August 2018

I don’t mean to alarm you, but summer is over. Yep it’s officially Autumn. And isn’t it glorious?! I love Autumn - nice crisp weather, cosy evenings in watching the telly (which always has some decent series starting at this time of year) and candles flickering. Lovely. August was a bit of a wash out too, so I’m hoping we can leave the grey drizzle behind and crack on with warm orange crunchy leaves! Despite the August weather, I still had a good month - I won a holiday to Bari, southern Italy with Wizz Air, went to my first football game, rode the world’s longest, fastest city based zip wire, had a work trip to Oxford, got some good reading in, and fully embraced the leopard print trend. Here are my August faves.

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I did a full post about this last week but a highlight of August was definitely winning a holiday to an unknown destination with Wizz Air. It was so exciting to rock up to the airport with no idea where we were off to and seeing “Mystery Flight” on all of the boards. We ended up in Bari, Italy which was the perfect destination for a short city break, with plenty of pretty cobbled streets to wander, lots of lovely little cafes to eat all the delicious Italian food, and a lovely golden sand beach to do all the paddling! Go check out my last post to read all about the excitement of boarding a flight to the unknown, and there’s another post coming on Friday with my Top 6 Things To Do in Bari.

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New Look Leopard Print Skirt

Yes leopard print is back, yes this fills my heart with JOY!!! I’ve always been a fan of animal print and shunned the chav haters back in the day, but I've always held off from wearing it other than on accessories as I’ve always felt I’m a bit too big and at risk being hit with a sedation dart out in the street and being dragged back to the zoo. Well, no more friends! I’ve been feeling - on and off - a bit more body confident recently, which I’m putting partly down to some bloody awesome instagrammers - hello @midsizecollective. I bought this skirt just before I went to Bari and I bloody love it! It makes me feel super confident, it fits beautifully, and is also a super soft almost suedette material which makes me feel as sleek as an actual leopard. Thank you New Look.

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New Look Leopard Sandals

Yeh alright, I got leopard sandals as well. And maybe leopard culottes, two more leopard skirts and a belt too...but look how pretty these are! I love the mix of tan and leopard patterns and textures, plus they’re real leather so are super supple and comfortable, and are wearing really well. They were a bargainous price of £19.99 and I got them for 25% off so they were only £15 - absolute steal! 

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Probably the most hyped book of the summer, I had a bit of a love hate relationship with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I really struggled to get into it, not warming to the protagonist at all, and finding the dreary day to day storyline extremely draining. Then all of a sudden, a hint of an upcoming plot twist was dropped unexpectedly and it snapped into place for me. A modern tale of loneliness, I now realise that Gail Honeyman is actually a bit of a genius, and the way I felt at the beginning is pretty much how Eleanor has felt her whole life. It’s now firmly on my Must Read list and I’m doing to others as friends did to me, and urging everyone to read it and "KEEP GOING IT GETS AMAZING!" As always I listened to my book on Audible, and it also included an interview with the author at the end which was really interesting and added to my enjoyment.

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We went to see Walking With Dinosaurs at the O2 and it was absolutely RAWRSOME! I’ve put a more in-depth review over in my “Fortnightly Round Up” post - which is my new blog series I’ve started, to share my adventures every two weeks - go check it out. Andy surprised me by coming back to our seats in the interval with this gorgeous cuddly Brachiosaurus who is literally the cutest little thing (and I’ve been wanting a dinosaur plushie for so long). I am 32 I promise.

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I also posted about losing my Football Match virginity in my Fortnightly Round Up, but I had such a good time I just had to include it in my August Favourites as well. Balls, boys, booze and bawdy chants - I was in my element! It was a really great game too, keeping the fans on their toes at all times, and I had so much fun! It was great to share one of Andy’s great passions with him and we won to boot! Go read more about what happened when I went to my first football game here. C’MON BOROUGH!

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I’ve been feeling really meh about my hair recently. It desperately needs a cut and the long hot summer has left it feeling quite dry, especially at the ends. I kindly got sent this Hempz Vanilla Plum shampoo which promised to hydrate and energise my hair, and I’ve been really happy with the results!  It smells divine - a really pretty, warm and lightly fruity scent which isn’t overpowering or overly sweet. Hempz products are made with pure herbal extracts, enriched with 100% pure natural hemp seed oil and are totally paraben free - which is great as I have a super sensitive scalp. They’re also gluten free and 100% vegan too. A little goes a long way with this shampoo, it lathers up really nicely and the tube packaging makes it really easy to control how much you squeeze into your hand so you don’t get product overload. It’s definitely given the ends of my hair a lot more life - they look healthier and I’m noticing less breakages and split ends. A new firm fave.

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Love Island Australia 

I thought I’d had enough of Love Island for one year, after finding this year’s series a bit lack lustre compared to prior years (though that didn’t stop me watching pretty much every episode...) Then one night I was bored at home and decided just to have a little peek at Love Island Australia, to see if it really did deliver the goods that LI UK lacked this summer - (unstaged) DRAMA! And yes, yes it did! The girls are girls’ girls, the lads actually have personalities, and they all seem in there to actually have a good time, rather than to pout personality-less by the pool awaiting their In The Style sponsorship when they leave. I AM LOVING IT! There’s only five episodes a week on the ITV Hub so its a little but more manageable too, and they seem a lot shorter as they’re so action packed. So far there’s been bitching, back stabbing, sexing, partner stealing, physical fighting, and the best girl Love Island has ever seen - Erin! Please tell me someone else is watching?! Tell me your thoughts about Cassidy!!!

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So there we have it. Bye bye Summer, hello Autumn! I’ve got another weekend away coming up in September - this time a girls weekend to Center Parcs - I’M READY FOR YOU RAPIDS! I’ll also be ramping up the holiday planning for India (which is now next month!) and lots of trips out and about to explore London with friends. 


Seriously though, talk Love Island Australia to me!


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*Thanks so much to Hempz Beauty for inviting me to try out their Vanilla Plum shampoo. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Travel // A Trip to the Unknown With Wizz Air

I love a competition, and I also love travel. So a competition to win a trip to the Unknown was right up my alley! When I saw Wizz Air were chartering a flight for 180 adventurers to an unknown destination only revealed upon landing, I knew I needed a seat on that plane. And thankfully - I got one! Yep, to my excitement I won two return flights to the Unknown and two nights accommodation when we got there. It was one of the nicest weekends away we’ve had, and it was an Instagram dream!

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Andy and I rocked up to London Luton airport and made our way over to the Wizz Air check in desk, where the signs above the desks simply said “Mystery Flight”. How bloody exciting! We had a bit of a wait, but in that time amused ourselves trying to guess where we might be going, watching the hoardes of bloggers and YouTubers excitedly vlogging and instagramming, and even being interviewed by the BBC. Sue was so proud!  Our boarding passes simply said London Luton > Unknown and all the boards around the airport just echoed the check in desks with Mystery Flight. All we knew were a few teasers from Wizz Air that there would be food markets and bikes... so pretty much like all European cities! We boarded the plane and it was so much fun - a bit like being on a school trip - everyone was in such high spirits and chatting to each other about where they thought we were going. I wish every plane journey was as friendly!

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I’ve never flown Wizz Air before but was super impressed with the service, and the amount of space we had. I never feel more like a heffalump than I do on a Ryan Air flight - why are their seats so so small please?! We had loads of space on Wizz, both in terms of seat size and leg room. The cabin crew were all really friendly and we got lots of updates from the pilot with clues on where we were headed “Your flight will last between one and six hours” “To the left of the plane you’ll see some mountains, to the right you’ll see a city. We’ll be landing in either a city or countryside”. The suspense was REAL!

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When we did land we were waved off the plane to the Unknown and handed a goodie bag to help us on our way. But where were we?! Cue plenty of meerkatting to gauge clues! We’d landed in Bari - in the heel of Italy’s boot on the south coastal region - famous for its peaceful whitewashed towns, vibrant ports and architecture ranging from imposing baroque to simple trulli stone huts. Let’s get exploring!

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We jumped in a taxi to our hotel - Hi Hotel Bari - which was about 20 minutes away. A quick check in and freshen up, then we jumped back in a taxi to the centre of Bari, which was another 15 minutes drive away. We then spent some time wandering through the streets, getting our bearings, and stopped for some lunch in a cute cobbled street just off the main square.

This pretty much set the tone for the whole weekend - wandering around, stopping for a drink or some food or just to watch the world go by! As our time pretty much all blurred into one glorious long relax, I’ve just left a selection of my favourite pictures from the trip in this post, rather than splitting them out diary style like I usually do. I will be sharing my Top 6 Things To Do In Bari next week though - so be sure to check that out for more pretty pics from this lovely little town.

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GETTING THERE

Wizz Air fly to Bari from London Luton airport from as little as £17.99 per person. Bari centre is about 35 minutes taxi away from the airport.

WHERE WE STAYED 

The Hi Hotel Bari is a really lovely and stylish 4* hotel about 25 mins taxi from Bari airport (25 Euros) I was so impressed with the hotel - it has an outdoor pool, gym, excellent free breakfast buffet, complimentary coffee station and you get 6 free bottles of water in your room each day. Perfect! The bed was big and comfy and you could adjust each side of the mattress to be firmer or softer, we had a beautifully big rain shower in the bathroom filled with Malin+Goetz products, and you could opt to have the TV blasted into the bathroom too which suites me perfectly as I hate having a silent shower! My only one issue with the room was the contemporary glass sliding door separating off the bathroom from the bedroom didn’t slide all the way closed which is not ideal when sharing for obvious reasons! 

HOW MUCH SPENDING MONEY?

We were really pleasantly surprised at how cheap Bari was. Sometimes smaller towns and cities can be just as expensive as their big counterparts, but Bari was nice and easy on the pocket. We probably spent about £150 each over the 3 days we were there on taxis, food and drink. A beer cost about 3 Euro a pint and a big platter of bruschetta was about 5 Euro. Scrumptious!

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I would definitely go back to Bari - it’s such a lovely little place for a short getaway - you could totally head there after work on Friday and come home in time for work on Monday and still feel like you’ve had a peaceful, cultural break. Big thanks to Wizz Air for giving us the opportunity to Get Lost in the Unknown - it’s definitely opened my eyes to taking a city break off the beaten path, and I’m very excited to try out some more lesser known destinations soon!


Where else needs to be added to my city break list? 

The more obscure the better!


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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Lifestyle // The Fortnightly Round Up #1

Back in the day when I used to blog really regularly  (oh how I miss those days!) some of my favourite posts to write, and some of my most read ones, were my weekly round ups of what I’d been up to that week. I’m dying to get back into blogging “properly” again with a regular posting schedule so thought I’d take it back to 2014 and bring back my weekly diaries. However, I’m definitely not as interesting as I used to be, and doubt anyone will want to hear about the grind of a 30 something year old Marketing Manager and her commuter woes and gym goes - so I’ve decided to do it every two weeks instead! Surely I’ll do something interesting at least once every fortnight...

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Peterborough United Football Game

I wrote in my June Favourites post about how I’ve never really been into football. My dad’s a rugby man, none of my exes have been big fans, and I went to a girls' school so most of my mates - like me - just go to the pub to watch The Game for an excuse to drink beer and perve on men in shorts. When I met Andy however, it soon became clear that football would become a big part of my life. And I am LOVING IT! I love that he is so passionate about sport, and it’s definitely infectious - I too rush to “do my Jeffs” each week (if you know you know), know my Jose from my Pep, and could even tell you what the offside rule is. I think! Andy's home team is Peterborough United and I’ve been badgering him to take me to a game and help me tick “Football Game” off my bucket list. This week was the week! We headed to Charlton Athletic’s ground The Valley and promptly bagged ourselves a pint and a pie. My kind of dinner! We then headed into the Away stands and settled down amongst the Blue and White Army of Posh fans. Omg I loved every second of it! There was chanting and singing (and I was not the most tuneless), everyone was super friendly and chatted to each other whether they knew their neighbours or not, and I didn’t have to queue for the ladies once. The atmosphere was electric, the game was action packed and a little bit scrappy (my fave kind) and my favourite player Marcus Maddison came on for the second half. I also haven’t seen anyone use the wanker sign in real life since Year 3 of primary school. Amazing! To top it all off we scored a penalty in the 88th minute to win the match. WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE, SAY WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE! I will definitely be going to future matches, and my aim is to have a Posh shirt ready for the next one. Andy’s created a monster!

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Ikea with Curly and Sue

Is it really a British bank holiday if you don’t go to Ikea? I hadn’t actually planned to go, but headed over to my parents house on Bank Holiday Saturday to spend some time with them before they go on holiday and give them a big old box of cookies to give them a bit of a pep as they’ve had a difficult few weeks. Sue causally dropped in that she needed to buy 120 glass bowls - as you do - for a church dinner she was hosting, so off we trotted to Ikea. I did the driving, which was fab as I haven’t been out in the car for a proper length of time in ages (and I actually drove “very well” - Sues words, which translate to “you didn’t play loud music, swear more than 3 times or make me feel like I was at Alton Towers”). We had a really nice time - got everything we needed, didn’t buy too much we didn’t (other than the giant bag of Daim bites - Curly’s fault) AND managed not to be one of those families squabbling over which chopping board looked nicest. Curly got to give his new wheelchair a spin (his first proper outing in any wheelchair) and it was a roaring success - he said it was his most comfortable trip out in ages. Hurrah! I got a nice little work out pushing him around, and we managed not to crash into too many furniture displays in the process. Success all round! I didn’t buy anything too exciting - a new black poster frame and a bathroom bin wild - but I did get this rather glorious faux palm leave for £3.50. Yes I did buy it purely for the photo opps. No I’m not embarrassed. 

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Zip Now

Back in the day I was a bit of a dare devil. In fact when I was travelling, my mum stopped answering my calls as they would always start with “I’m just about to throw myself off / out / at / down...” Bungee jumps, canyon swings, sky dives - you name it, I’ve done it. I still like to think I’m a bit exciting, though there aren’t many extreme sports opps in London (despite living in Brixton). So when I saw London was now home to the world’s longest, fastest city based zip wire in the UK, of course I signed up. I booked Andy a go too, but he wimped out had to bail due to a shoulder injury, so I had to fly solo - literally! The nice guy on the check in desk took pity on me and said I could do Andy's ride myself, and threw in the “Mega Drop” for free too. Alright! Whilst it would most definitely have been more fun climbing to the top of the tower and racing Andy down the wire, I still had a great time,and I had him to be my official videographer - win win! Five stories high, I climbed the tower, got hooked up to the wire then took three slightly tentative steps down a staircase leading into thin air. “Bend your knees then step off into the air” my instructor George called, and then I was off! It was super fun and it was a shame it only lasted 20 seconds! I then did the Mega Drop which I also really enjoyed. Basically when you get to the other end of the wire, rather than going down the stairs to ground level, you just step into nothingness and plummet to land on a crash mat at the bottom. I’d been dying to do this off the Sky Tower when I was in Auckland but I’d run out of money, and as I said - Sue had stopped answering my calls for fear of me ringing to talk about activities like this so I couldn’t ask for an IOU! Well this was definitely not as mega as the Auckland Sky Tower but it was fun - I think I enjoyed it more than the Zip Wire! Zip Now is open until 9th September so whizz on down soon if you want a go. Check out Time Out etc too for special deals as there’s lots around at the moment. You can watch videos of me doing the zip and the Mega Drop over on my Instagram.

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Walking With Dinosaurs

If you know me you know I’m obsessed with dinosaurs. I’m a ten year old boy at heart. Andy got us tickets to go see Walking With Dinosaurs as part of my Christmas present and my god it was worth the wait! An arena spectacular on at the O2, it featured none other than real life super hero Michaela Strachan - and let me tell you, she hasn’t aged  at all since I used to watch her everyday on The Really Wild Show as a kid. She played narrator - paleontologist Huxley who took us on a journey way back 245 million years ago to tell the stories of the dinosaurs, taking us through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretacious periods back to the present. She was accompanied on stage by REAL LIFE DINOSAURS (disclaimer: not actual real life dinosaurs but pretty bloody close). Some of the smaller ones were people in extremely lifelike puppet costumes, others were tiny electronics and the larger species were huge animatronics. It was absolutely incredible and you really did feel like you were in the presence of real dinosaurs. We even saw baby Velociraptors hatching, which I literally have no idea how they managed to do! My Jurassic Park dream come true! It’s no longer on, but they have done the tour before and I’m sure they will again - defo grab yourself a ticket if you can! I will absolutely be going again! Big shout out to Andy for also coming back in the interval with an adorable cuddly Brachiosaurus for us! 

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48 hours in Oxford

I spent a couple of days up in Oxford with work for a Manager’s strategy planning session. Unfortunately it was during a week in which myself and a colleague both had a horrible stomach bug so we didn’t get to enjoy much of the social side of things! Obviously I won’t bore you with the work we did - which was A LOT - but Oxford is such a pretty little town. I’ve been punting before a few times but never have I hired my own punt - as in not guided, you have to do the punting yourself. Nice little team building activity. My teammates certainly all came together to yell BRACE BRACE every time I steered us into the bank! We went to some lovely little cafes and bars, had a meeting in a converted prison, had breakfast at The Breakfast Club - I could only manage dry toast and a hot water with diarlyte - never has the food envy been so real. For our evening meal we went to Victors - a beautiful Hamptons inspired restaurant which serves “posh tapas” of a variety of different cuisines. The food was great, but I definitely ate more than my poor tummy could handle - what can I say I’m a greedy little blighter, and I can’t resist good food especially after 4 days of not eating! I definitely want to come back and visit now I’m well again, and will be planning a little Oxford trip with Andy soon.

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Honest Burger

I had been craving a burger so very badly as Andy had two while I was ill with my stomach bug, so after Zip Now we headed to Honest Burger in Brixton Village to finally get my fill. I really like Honest Burger - I think it’s one of the better burger chains, and chips come included - amen! Anyone else really hate paying for chips separately?! Honest Burger chips are just as good as the burger - skin on and covered with rosemary salt. Amen. I ordered the Tribute burger - cheese, bacon, burger sauce, mustard,  pickles, onion and lettuce, while Andy went for the Brixton exclusive burger, made in collaboration with Brixton institution Fish, Wings and Tings - jerk rubbed beef, bacon, red leicester, grilled pineapple, tamarind mayo, pepper sauce, coleslaw, pickles and rocket. They were so good - big, juicy, cheese perfectly melty! I love the Brixton Village location too - being sat outside in the lanes of the actually inside village is still always a trip to me.

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Primark Tottenham Court Road Haulin'

Fun fact - I used to go to Primark Tottenham Court Road every week - either Friday after work or first thing Saturday morning. Cool eh. I hadn’t been for bloody ages so thought it was high time - I mean who can resist that Harry Potter section?! I only picked up a few bits, though the haul did include the jazziest little candle ever! Yep that is a Harry Potter Chocolate Frog candle, and yes it does smell - vaguely - like chocolate. I will not however b lighting it - this candle is staying well and truly on display with my Hogwarts candle. I also grabbed some plain white pumps (£3), this cute skinny belt set including one black croc print and one suedette leopard one (£3 - bargain), this Sea Salt Mist room spray - one of my favourite scents and it was marked down to only £1. I also, quite randomly, got this funky monochrome table runner for £4, which - like my leaf - is purely for photographic purposes! And don’t you think they look good together in the pic above!

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That’s it for the last fortnight - actually a lot more action packed than I thought! I do need to figure out a day which best suits to post this so hopefully I’ll have that all figured out for the one in two weeks time (I'm currently thinking the first and third Monday of each month). I've got some fun stuff coming up over the next couple weeks too, including a girls weekend away, some tourist action in London and some holiday prep too.


What have you been up to?


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