Friday, 30 November 2018

Travel // Top 10 Things To Do in Soho

I love London.

There’s always something to see and do, no matter how many times you visit an area you’re bound to find something new.

One area that is constantly evolving and full of excitement and hidden gems is Soho. The bustling area has a rich history, links with the music, films and photography industries, and is a hub for restaurant, shops, hotels and street art. It is also home to some of the best Christmas lights in London!

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Here are my Top 10 Things To Do In Soho 


1) Head for Coffee at Bar Italia

22 Frith Street 

London’s oldest Italian coffee bar, entering Bar Italia is like stepping back in time to old school Rome. It’s busy, it’s loud, and it smells INCREDIBLE! 

Nabbing a seat at the counter we were quickly bought over two deliciously strong cappuccinos as we goggled at the cannoli, tiramisu and various pastries and panini on sale.

Italian flags and artefacts line the walls and hang from the ceiling and the effect is authentic not tacky, added to by the loud chatter of the staff in Italian, and the Italian news playing on the tv at the back.

Check out the incredible old fashioned till which is still in working order too.  

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2) Sweet Treats at Crosstown Doughnuts

4 Broadwick Street  

You can never go wrong with a good doughnut can you? Crosstown are renown for creating delicious hand made delights all marked with their signature cross, and I couldn’t resist FINALLY trying them. 

As we were eating with friends later that day, we just wanted a little treat, and our simple glazed ring and cinnamon swirl doughnuts hit the spot nicely. 

A great snack for grabbing on the go as you explore.

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3) Get Magical at the House of Mina Lima

26 Greek Street

We all know I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I love seeing how the wizarding world is bought to life in the films. Did you know there’s a magical exhibition in the centre of London which houses 3 floors of HP artwork and graphic designs from the movies by Mina Lima? And it’s completely FREE?!

It’s an amazing find and a Must Do for any aspiring witch or wizard. Housed in a rickety old building, each floor holds different displays and there’s even a (not too expensive) gift shop too. It’s also totally #InstaGoals.

The graphic art department is my favourite section of the Warner Bros Studio Tour and the display is much wider at Mina Lima. You also get to get up close and personal to it all in a much quieter setting.

There’s also amazingly friendly staff who really know their stuff and are happy to chat and impart their wizarding knowledge on you. For example they have the original Marauders Map on display, which couldn’t be used in the films as there was an H missing in Whomping Willow, so they had to start the whole HAND DRAWING again! Merlin’s beard. 

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4) Get quirky down Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street 

Carnaby Street is one of the most famous shopping streets in London. It’s also one of the most wonderfully quirky and fun. Home to some big beauty brands including Too Faced, Spectrum and Benefit, all of whom have over the top decoration. 

It’s a great place to while away an afternoon, and the shop fronts and buildings are just as fun to look at as the products themselves. You’re also just a few steps away from Regent Street and Oxford Street where you’ll find all your major retailers. 

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5) Check out the Bright Lights

Carnaby Street 

Talking of Carnaby Street, it’s also home to some of the most fabulous Christmas lights and decorations each year. It’s definitely worth a special trip to Soho just to see these.

This year it’s paying homage to the new Bohemian Rhapsody film with the lyrics of Queen lit up above the street - Mamma oohhhhhhh - it looks EPIC (sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

Soho is famous for its bright neon signs, and there are all sorts of light installations up, both for Christmas and otherwise. Check out the bulb lights which hang over Ganton Street all year round, and the Giant Plug on the other side of Ganton Street which was first installed in 2005. Both of these change colours constantly and are pretty mesmorising to watch.

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6) Find Focus in The Photographer’s Gallery

16-18 Ramillies Street 

What a find this was! Tucked away in a back street off of Great Marlborough Street, The Photographer’s Gallery is free to enter and has a selection of different exhibitions going on. 

There was an incredible exhibit of photos of India (Vasantha Yogananthan: A Myth of Two Souls) which was great for us having just come back and longing to go and discover more. There’s also a cosy little cafe and a wonderful gift shop selling all sorts of prints, films, cameras and lenses. I was in heaven! 

Soho is famous for its links with the film and photography industries and there are plenty of camera shops around the area too.

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7) Go on a Street Art Hunt

Soho

Like it’s abundance of bright lights, Soho is also known for its cool street art. We stumbled across this awesome John Lennon and Paul McCartney piece (sadly ruined by Ben and Rachael) in D’Arblay Street. There’s also a huge painted wall mural on Little Marlborough Street which is fab for taking Instagram pics by. 

There’s also the famous Spirit of Soho Mural which pays homage to the area and its many streets, landmarks and associated famous figures. 

The buildings themselves are often works of art, with decorative signs, multicoloured walls and doors. As always with London - remember to look up! 

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8) Food Glorious Food

Kingly Court, Kingly Street 

If you’re after some more substantial food than delicious doughnut snacks, there are lots of places to check out in Soho. A mix of well known chains and quirky independent restaurants, there’s something for everyone.

Check out Kingly Court (just off Kingly Street) for a concentrated area of feasting places with everything from Caribbean to Greek food on offer, all set in an adorable little courtyard which is always prettily decorated. There’s even an underground 1940s cocktail bar, Cahoots.

One of my favourite restaurants in London (which I’ve mentioned several times) is Aqua Kyoto - a high end Japanese restaurant with a sister Spanish restaurant and amazing roof terrace bar on the same site. 

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9) Go Vintage Shopping at Beyond Retro

58-59 Great Marlborough Street 

If vintage clothing is more your thing, trendy Soho has several boutiques to check out. 

The biggest of them all is Beyond Retro which has a huge range of menswear, women’s wear and accessories. They’ve got an awesome selection of natty Christmas jumpers at the moment and we also loved this David Attenborough t-shirt!

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10) Get Lost in Liberty London 

Regent Street

Opened in 1875, Liberty London is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. Famously posted on Instagram grids around the world due to its iconic Tudor revival exterior, wonderful window displays and floral displays, head inside for a uniquely ornate store.

With wooden staircases and balconies it feels cosy and friendly, despite selling some rather high end products. The beauty hall and food hall are my favourites and everything is always displayed beautifully.  


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So there you go - my top tips for exploring Soho! I'd love to know your favourite places to go to in this neighbourhood - I really love using my weekends to explore the city more and find new hidden gems.


Let me know if you'd like me to spotlight more of London's neighbourhoods too!


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*This post was in collaboration with Hotels.com. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views - and doughnut eating enthusiasm - are my own. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Lifestyle // My Top Tips for Recharging Your Batteries [Ad]

I’ve been making a conscious effort this November to make sure I make time for me. I've been ensuring I properly rest and recharge, particularly as we come into winter when short days and rubbish weather mean it’s easy to become sluggish and run down. 

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In fact, new research by E.ON* has revealed that 42% of Brits admit to having lower energy levels at this time of year and needing a recharge, and around half (44%) of us are feeling more drained this year compared to last. Cheery eh!

With just 35 days left of the year I’m trying to get in good habits this side of Christmas so that come New Year I’m already on my way to bucking the trends and having a positive, productive and fully charged 2019.

Here are my top tips for unwinding and recharging -



1) Keep Busy...Doing Nothing


Nearly a quarter (23%) of us say we feel more drained because we’ve not had time to recharge our mind, body or soul.

I'm notoriously terrible for taking downtime - mostly because I feel guilty for doing so! There's always something I *should* be doing, rather than sitting back and relaxing.

I find reading so good for my soul. Audio books are amazing as you can get absorbed in a story, and still get things done.

I like to listen to one while cleaning and doing chores, so I don't feel guilty, or get stressed that there's lots of other things I "should" be doing. Plus it makes cleaning the bathroom go super quick! 

Colouring books can also be a great way for people who struggle to relax sit down and take some down time as you’re still doing *something*.

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2) Exercise - No Matter How Tired You Feel 


16% of people say that not exercising makes them feel drained. As I said in my last Fortnightly Round Up post I’ve been making an effort to go for a good walk at the weekends to get some fresh air and light exercise, even if I’m not feeling like it at the time.

I always feel so much better after exercising
- even if it is just for half an hour or so. 

I feel less sluggish, my mind is always clearer, and it's great for mindfulness to focus on the surroundings of where you are. (Plus combining it with a coffee is a nice treat!) 

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3) Banish the Sunday Blues with Bath Time 


You literally cannot beat a good hot bath to unwind. Throw in your favourite bath bomb, bath salts or bubble bath, turn on your favourite film or grab a book, light a candle and relax.

I’ve started to build bath time into my Sunday night routine - it’s a great way to keep those back to work blues at bay. It also gets me nice and relaxed ready for bed time so I start my working week nice and refreshed and recharged. A good nights’ sleep is invaluable!

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4) Indulge your Passions


Yes my love for Harry Potter is borderline obsessive, but who cares?! Surrounding yourself with the people and things you love most can only do good things for your mind, body and soul.

To me HP is comforting and familiar - I grew up with Harry, nothing soothes me more than Stephen Fry’s voice reading JK’s genius words and I find it both relaxing and invigorating to see how the magical world has come to life.

I LOVE getting up early and going to check out the Primark Harry Potter range, adore visiting the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios and always have the audio books with me, wherever I go.

If it makes you happy, then why not!

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You can find more top tips from health and well being experts at at www.eonenergy.com/recharge - including mega babe Melanie Sykes. 


She always looks fully charged so I’m definitely taking her tips on board for 2019!


What are your favourite ways to recharge your batteries? 



*This post was sponsored by E.ON, to help advertise their wide range of products and services. Although I was paid for this advertisement, all views - and Harry Potter excitement - are my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Lifestyle // Fortnightly Round Up #5

There’s been a bit of a gap since my last Fortnight Round Up post as I went to India hurrah! We were away for 10 days and I'll be blogging ALL ABOUT THAT soon - spoiler - it was AMAZING! This post was also due to go up on Monday, but I've been having some technical and time issues this week. Le sigh.

Since being back, work has been 100mph but I've also spent the last couple weeks catching up with friends, visiting the Harry Potter Studios for the Halloween Dark Arts exhibit, and *may* have booked another holiday. Well it’s the only way to cure the post-holiday blues isn’t it...

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Park Walks


I was really surprised with the weather when we got back from India - it's still not freezing cold, and actually pretty sunny most the time! 

This makes for perfect park walks at the weekend. Our new weekend routine is walking up to Herne Hill, grabbing a coffee at a local cafe - and potentially a tasty treat - then wandering around beautiful Brockwell Park.

It's a great way to get some excericse, enjoy the beautiful Autumn leaves, and - most importantly - enjoy all the dogs running around. So cute!

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Harry Potter Studio Tour - Dark Arts


I've been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour quite a few times now, including twice to see the festive Hogwarts in the Snow exhibit - but I hadn’t made it to Dark Arts, their Halloween offering before.

We had a really great evening, including battling a troop of dastardly Death Eaters, and did some damage in the gift shop. I finally bought a chocolate frog! Full post and pics coming soon.


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Aqua Kyoto 


We headed to high end sushi restaurant Aqua Kyoto for lunch before getting the train out to Watford for the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour

It’s one of our favourite restaurants in London and was just as good as always. We had our usual orders of wagyu gyoza and tempura shrimp and scallop rolls, and also tried the tempura soft shell crab and spicy tuna rolls too. We’ll definitely be back soon!

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New Glasses


In my last Fortnightly Round Up post I wrote about getting my eyes tested with the new M&S Opticians service

Excitingly my new specs were ready to be collected so I toddled back off to Westfield to pick them up, and I am in love! My full post about the whole service will be up next week. 

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Booking Budapest


I’m not going to lie, the post India holiday blues have been B A D since getting back two weeks ago. There’s only one way I know to get over one trip, and that’s to book another, right?! 

We’re heading off to Budapest early December for some Christmas market action and I can’t wait! It’s a city that’s been on my To Travel To List for so long, so I’m really excited to finally get exploring.

Any tips and must sees / dos / eats much appreciated!

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Curry and Catch Up with Kiffy 


Last Saturday we headed up to Hitchin to visit our friends for drinks and dinner. We had a good old catch up at their local pub before heading back to theirs for an amazing Thai feast made by Kiffy. It was all absolutely delicious, had just the right amount of spice, and the babe even served the prawn fried rice in pineapples! Get the girl on Come Dine With Me stat. 

We had such a great time hanging out and playing with their beautiful beagle puppy Betty and reminiscing over the fun we had in India. We are very hashtag blessed to have friends like these.

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Work Trip to Glasgow


I went up to Glasgow for a couple of nights last week for work to meet with university students to hand out Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and fliers to raise awareness of our Summer Camp USA programme

I absolutely love Glasgow, it’s such a beautiful city and the main University is super Hogwarts-esque! Always a win for me.

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Hyper Japan


Another work trip - this time to Japan! Kinda...

I spent the weekend working at Hyper Japan festival which is such a fun event and it’s great to see so many people come together and connect over their shared love for Japanese culture. 

Of course I had to go and check out the Japanese food stands, and whilst I managed to resist these cute snacks, I did have some rather delicious chicken gyoza.

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Exploring Soho 


I’m currently working with a brand on some content about the best things to do in London’s Soho

Andy and I had such a fun day exploring and visiting some of the neighbourhoods best hotspots, as well as some hidden gems. The Christmas lights are all up too which were even more stunning than usual this year!

The post will be up in a couple weeks so you can see what we got up to then!

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Me Time at Senzala Creperie


I took myself out for a little brunch date at the weekend. A little self love is always good!

I plugged in my new audio book, went for a wander round the shops in Brixton Village (and now have a homeware want List the length of my arm!) then settled myself down at my favourite Senzala Creperie for a couple of cappuccinos, a chorizo and red onion galette, and some blogging time. Perfect.

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A busy couple of weeks but lots of fun! It’s looking to be pretty eventful over the next fortnight too. 


I’m seeing Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald at the cinema, seeing some friends I made when volunteering in Africa last year and celebrating Thanksgiving with work.


Are you excited for the new Fantastic Beasts film?!


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Monday, 12 November 2018

Favourites // October 2018

October 2018 was - hands down - one of the best months of my entire life! I travelled to India for the trip of a lifetime with 14 of my best friends which was absolutely INCREDIBLE!

I also did some excellent shopping for my trip, discovered a game changing beauty product and got back into reading too.

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Trip to India

I’m not going to talk *too* much now about India as I will be doing some dedicated travel posts, but it was absolutely AMAZING!

Andy and I flew out and had a few days exploring Jaipur together before meeting up with 14 of my closest friends in Delhi for our friends’ wedding, with a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal in between. My god was that beautiful!

I have never experienced such amazing sights and culture or had so much fun in my life!

I’m still pinching myself that I was lucky enough to go to India, let alone experience a real Indian wedding, and I get very hashtag blessed and a bit weepy whenever I think about it all! Posts coming soon!

Whilst we had a pretty action packed schedule for India, we also knew there’d be some time for relaxing by the pool. So when the babes at UK Swimwear offered to send me a new swimming costume to wear I was well chuffed.

They kindly sent me this beautiful leopard and leaf print one piece and matching kaftan by MiracleSuit Swimwear. They’re both absolutely beautiful, and were perfectly patterned and bejewelled for India.

The swimming costume is so comfy, it literally feels like you’re not wearing anything, despite having clever sucky in technology to make you look like you’ve lost 10lbs. The low scoop back is also really flattering and the keyhole style detail at the front is really stylish. Thanks guys!

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Red Herring at Debenhams Leopard Print Midi Skirt

Another leopard print winner - this beautiful Red Herring midi skirt was so perfect to wear in India, and was only £28.

It’s a lovely light fabric,  has a slit up either side which means it’s easy to walk in and flows really prettily as you go, and it’s also a really sophisticated leopard print - with more grown up muted colours and smaller spots.

I got loads of compliments when I wore it teamed with tshirts in India, and I can’t wait to team it with light jumpers and ankle boots now that I’m home.

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Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

We all know I’m a H U G E Harry Potter fan, so of course I was going to love JK Rowling's novels for adults.

The Cormoran Strike series is brilliant - so engaging and gripping about a private detective in London, and I’d been eagerly awaiting the 4th instalment. For me Lethal White is the best book of the bunch!

Focused on a politician with a dark and secretive past, and a mentally disturbed man with traumatic childhood memories, Strike has to work hard to connect the dots, solve the mystery and catch a killer. I can’t wait for this one to be adapted for TV.

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Body Glide Anti Chafe Balm

Quite possibly my most glamorous favourite ever... Body Glide is bloody amazing at tackling chub rub!

It’s was H O T in India and we spent long days out and about exploring, and this bad boy didn’t falter once! 

A bit like a roll on deodorant you just glide it over your inner thighs in the morning, and it works it’s magic straight away, and lasts all day.

I bought mine from Cotswolds Outdoors but I believe it’s also available from Amazon, and I literally will never go on a hot holiday without it again! 

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Quite a small collection of Favourites this month as it was pretty dominated by my India trip. It will be a hard holiday to follow but I’m planning to use November to research and book some more adventures.

I’m also very excited for all the festivities November brings - fireworks night, Thanksgiving (always celebrated at my work) and of course the lead up to Christmas! 


Are you a fan of the Strike books? 

If so please let me know any similar books I should give a read.


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*Thanks so much to UK Swimwear for sending me to their gorgeous swimwear products. All thoughts are honest and my own. For more information please see my Disclaimer Page.