The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House.

bowood x

The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

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Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

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My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

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My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

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As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

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I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

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A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

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These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

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I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

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I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

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bowood x x

Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

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The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

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I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

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If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

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This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

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I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

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There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

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*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

Three days in Brighton.

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If you follow me on either Twitter or Instagram you’d have seen back in April I went for a few days away with my friend to the gorgeous seaside city of Brighton in Sussex on the south coast of the UK. I will admit it’s taken me way waaaay too long for me to post all about my trip on here but I can finally say ya gurl has got round to it. If you’ve never been to Brighton I would totally visiting. There’s something for everyone there with a plethora of fantastic bars or eateries, so many shops from big brands to high street brands and independent shops aplenty too. There’s a lot to do as well from lazing on the iconic beaches to winning some absolute tat from the arcades on the pier, to visiting Brighton Domes, traipsing around the eclectic Laines quarter or even catching a show. You’ll never be bored round here! So what better way to show you all the things I saw and ate on here, rather than boring you all to death over on my Instagram account! So if this is your thing, get yourself comfy, sit back and enjoy!!

We got up super duper early on a grey Tuesday morning, to catch a train just before seven, getting us into Brighton at about 10 O’Clock in the morning. I heart train journeys big time and this one was actually lovely as it winded through the countryside. We had a quiet commuter train and table seats the WHOLE way. There is nothing worse when travelling by train when you don’t get a good seat or if you don’t get a seat at all. The first time I visited Brighton was when I saw a friend who was at uni there and anything that could have gone wrong on the journey down did. The train was delayed at every stop, it was packed and to top that off I was stood by the toilets the whole way. I was overjoyed by the time we arrived! Anyway, so once we disembarked, armed with our bags we went from the station and ambled through The Lanes (which are several little narrow streets home to independent shops, boutiques, antique shops and plenty of gorgeous restaurants and cafes. Something Brighton is quite famous for) Eventually making our way to our hotel for our stay which was nestled in Kemptown. Since I hadn’t and still haven’t mastered the subtle art of packing accordingly or lightly for that matter, I desperately wanted to get to the hotel so I didn’t have to lug my suitcase around with me. I know I was only there for 3 days not even really that altogether, but you never know what you might need?! What if it rains, pack a coat? And if it rains I’ll need a hair dryer AND my straighteners. Whoever said thick hair is the best clearly hasn’t ever had to dry it for practically a decade at a time.

We stayed at a hotel called New Steine which was actually perfect for what we wanted. Neither I or Jimmy wanted to spend hundreds of pounds on somewhere we would just be sleeping or getting ready and nor did we fancy kipping down in a hostel for the time we were there. Not only were we such a short walk from the beaches, Brighton centre itself but there were so many shops, pubs and cafes close by that we could have quite easily just stayed there for our time away from home. The staff that greeted us when we arrived were all so friendly and helpful. They let us leave our luggage there when we got there around half past 10 even though our check in time wasn’t until the afternoon so we could go for a wander and grab some food. But considering we paid £110 for a two night stay, so £55 each, I was actually really, really impressed. And so happy with it as well. We had two single beds in a very comfortable sized room in the basement floor of the hotel. The beds were comfy, which can be kinda make or break of a trip for me. There was a tv with freeview, free wifi and a huge corner shape bath and a power shower. It ticked my boxes and if I was to go back again soon, I’d be more than keen to stay here again.

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This was the view right from the steps from our hotel. Can you imagine living in one of those idyllic houses, literally a 2 minute walk from the sea with a nice of square of gardens right in front too. THE DREAM.

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SO after we dropped off our things when we arrived we walked by the beach, hoping to find somewhere nice to get some brunch, a coffee or a snack. Jimmy is more of a meticulous planner than I am and he had already written a list of great looking breakfast joints, coffee shops and juice bars so we were hoping we would find our bearings relatively soon and find something on his list. We came across a place called Lucky Beach in one of the arches on the seafront. Check out my review just here! The weather was absolutely glorious, blue skies and barely any cloud we were lucky enough to sit outside as we ate. After we finished and paid we walked along the beach front, both feeling very full, enjoying the weather and chatting about what we both wanted to see or do over the next few days. I mentioned how I wanted to take lots of pictures, one in particular of a beachside pagoda that I saw on Instagram but didn’t know where it was. Then about five minutes later of zig zagging through the midweek crowds it was stood before us. I waited like a creepy little vulture, until an American couple had finished looking around so I could take my happy snaps.

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After a few hours of wandering up and down a few of the different side streets, it was mid afternoon by this point and we both decided we could do with something else to eat. When I think of must see places in Brighton I personally think of either the Laines or Choccywoccydoodah. If you haven’t heard of it, well it’s famous chocolatiers and cake shop with their original store deep in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes and now a couple in London too. Having grown up watching the Choccywoccydoodah show on tv I was a bit fascinated with the place and whether the food tastes just as good as it looks. Take a look at my review of it >here< to find out more! I was NOT disappointed.

With a belly full of decadent food, we were going to head back to the hotel via the pier. Brighton pier is a day out in itself really. Well for me and Jimbob it is at least, not one to toot my own horn but we i’m not too shabby at those 2p machines at the arcade. Like if I don’t go on tipping point anytime soon I really am missing out on my big fortune. We have a rule between us that we both have to try and win the absolute tackiest thing we can find. I like to think we excelled at rule as we came away with our winnings of some glow sticks, a pack of cards, two Brighton shot glasses and some novelty keyrings which I think are still floating about at the bottom of my bag. Yeaaaaah I really need to clean that. And not only that we saw the Queen of tacky on the pier, Gemma Collins from TOWIE. Did you know she’s actually a lot slimmer than you’d think in real life?!

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Getting back to our room, our little home away from home for the next few days, we charged phones up again, had a lay down (cos y’know I’m 23 going on elderly) and FaceTimed my fam before getting ready to go out for food that evening. You’re probably thinking, daaaaaamn do these two do anything else but eat?!! And all I can say is well…You’re not wrong. But no seriously we did so much walking on the first day and hey I was there for a good time not a long time. I’m not going away on a little break to have a juice fast and a body cleanse?! We strolled into town later on that evening all dressed up and nowhere really to go. Neither one of us had decided on somewhere to go eat but were both hoping we’d see somewhere soon we’d both agree on and try there. Me wanting to try something new, somewhere a bit different to what I usually would have. Jimmy wanting something edible, filling and well sooner rather than later. After walking around for probably an hour and a half, as we couldn’t decide on anywhere. We saw Street Thai in the distance, with its bright lights and Asian cooking smells filling the dark streets it was like an actual mirage. Being enticed in by it’s great 3 course meal offer, emptyish restaurant and also by the fact they were serving food and we were both about to eat each others arms we thought this would be brill. I wrote about my experience there just here, if you fancy checking out the pics and what I thought. From there we were going to find a nice bar or a pub to have a cheeky bev or five, seeing as we were on our holibobs after all. We headed into the Be At One on the high street and sampled some of their new cocktail menu and some of their old classics too. I would definitely recommend this place, great cocktails, the playlist was on point all night long, not too clubland and not too camp. It was the perfect mix of boozy bar tunes. The staff were also so lovely inside too. There’s been some places I’ve been too where the staff really didn’t want to give you the time of day, but they were all SO nice. Read all about it here!!!

WEDNESDAY

The next day, was really hot and abfab had a bit of a hangover. Cocktails are so naughty as they can taste like juice, until you’re swearing your undying love to your best mate cos they bought you some cheesy chips when it hits you, maybe it wasn’t just juice??? Just to clarify it’s defo not juice. Sorry. Anyway, the only way I can describe how I felt that day was a grape about to turn into a raisin. Strange analogy I know, but combined with the beautiful sunny, warm weather and the alcohol in my system I legit felt like there wasn’t a single droplet of water in my body and any second now I would *POOOOOF* into thin air and there would be a dried up sponge in my place. Told ya I had a weirdo imagination.

We went to possibly the most Instagrammable place for breakfast I’ve ever seen. With gorgeous food and drinks, plants decorating the inside and crisp white tiled walls. Redroaster is a Blogger’s paradise if I’ve ever seen one. I opted for a shakshuka and iced coffee and Jimmy had a classic avo on toast with an iced coffee too. We sat outside on the street watching the people rush past as we could take our morning coffee nice and slowly before carrying on with our day. Read about my visit to Redroaster here. We went into the Laines for the morning, having a mooch around, browsing through the little boutiques and antique shops. It was nice to be able to take things very much at our own pace and go as slowly as we wished as we didn’t have to rush. I really am a huge fan of the graffiti, street art and architecture throughout England and we wandered around Brighton’s back streets, smartphones in hand, appreciating the nooks and crannies of prettiness. Around midday we stopped in a pub for a drink as I was beginning to flag at this point. I had the worst headache and felt rotten and was half tempted to go back to the hotel so I could have a nap and sleep it off. But I didn’t want to ruin our time away and wanted to enjoy as much as possible so powered through.

From there, as it was baking hot we decided to sit on the beach and make the most of the sunshine. Although I brought a whole suitcase with me I didn’t bring anything I would have found comfortable to wear in the warmer weather after about an hour or so of sitting in the sun we made our way to the shops so I could buy a summer dress or something. We got some ice cream, I grew a blister on each little toe the size of Jupiter and got some ice cream. Because of said blister growths it was super painful to walk and the only shoes I had were trainers so I didn’t really know what to suggest what to do for dinner. I felt bad and didn’t want to order a takeaway and sit in the room and Jimmy would miss out cos of my silly feet. Nor could we decide what we both wanted to eat. Jimmy wanted mexican food and for the first time in my life I really wasn’t feeling it. Usually Mexican food is one of my favourites cuisines but that night I really didn’t fancy it. So we decided to get a Deliveroo of what we both wanted to come direct to the hotel and then we’d decide from there. I ordered some Greek food from Yefsis of Greece (read my thoughts heeeerrrrrreeeee) and we took our food and ate it on the beach. It was only about a 3 or 4 minute walk away and it was so pretty and nice.

THURSDAY

The old saying, that you must walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand what they are going through was put to the test when Jimmy lent me a spare pair of his trainers to wear on the last day before we came home. Fanks bae. I don’t think I’ll ever appreciate that gesture as much as you realise. We were really lucky that the Hotel allowed us to leave our luggage after we checked out cos I really wasn’t feeling like dragging that round with me. We headed off to look for one of Jimmy’s recommend breakfast places. This one was called Coffee Counter and was in the Lanes. I had a veggie breakfast naan and it was sensational. I’ve never had anything like that before so was so impressed and a little bit sad it’s so far away if I want another one. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD. And I don’t say that very often but I was so in love with this, I might attempt to recreate this at home at some point. READ MY REVIEW HERE.

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From there we were on a mission to find the Prince Albert pub. I’d seen it online and one wall was completely covered with pictures of famous icons and I just HAD to see it in real life. Turns out it is literally SO close to the train station I felt a bit silly at how close I’d been to it beforehand. We stopped here for a drink and I had such a cheap g&t so I was a happy bunny. Sitting out in the sun, nursing our drinks we wondered whether the passersby thought we had super cool freelance jobs so could actually afford to laze around in the sunshine outside cool artsy pubs and cafes or whether they thought we bunked off work for a quick drink OR whether they didn’t think about us and our lives at all. I’m hoping it’s the first option but most likely the latter. Thinking we better get back to the hotel and think about heading on soon we dawdled back, before spotting Burgers and Cocktails. A Restaurant specialising in well, you guessed it, Burgers and Cocktails. I’d been there a year or two before but had completely forgotten about where it was. We popped in thinking we’d have just a drink before heading home to reality. A few hours later, several amaretto sours, two cauli burgers and a couple milkshakes later. We decided it was time to get our stuff and prepare for the long journey home. Yup yep yup you guessed it you can read my review on Burgers & Cocktails just here.

Other than the blisters, which I feel is kinda gross and I should stop bringing them up, I had an absolutely wonderful time and am so SO excited for my next adventure away. I hope this post wasn’t too rambled for you. Plus if you ever decide to go to Brighton I hope you love it as much as I do. Much loves as always ❤

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Lucky Beach – Brighton.

image_6483441 (13)This little beach side treasure is nestled in one of the arches on Brighton Seafront. We stumbled upon Lucky Beach on a gloriously sunny Tuesday morning whilst visiting the area and I am so glad we did. Check out the view we had across the beach as well!? For the most of the time we eat with our eyes, so if it looks good we like to believe it’ll taste great too. Pretty food is delicious food am I right?! NOT only does their food look like the type of thing foodie dreams are made of but they have an accolade of awards to boot. They are proud to serve only sustainable, organic and locally grown produce and on top of all that they’ve been voted UK People’s favourite restaurant 2017/18. I can vouch for that too, it was blimmin’ great.

After browsing their brunch menu I decided I really wanted pretty much one of everything however I settled on having the Vege breakfast. Having been a vegetarian since mid November 2017 I’ve come to the realisation that not all veggie breakfasts are quite as enjoyable as a standard breakfast plate. I suppose that is a bit of a generalisation really but that’s what I’ve come across at least. So I was really excited to see this menu had really exciting, fresh foods and flavours incorporated into all their dishes.

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This was the most colourful breakfast plate I think I’ve ever had and it was absolutely amazing. The Vege breakfast consisted of two slices of grilled focaccia, a poached egg, caramelised onions topped with a sprinkling of roasted chickpeas, homemade hummus, beetroot tahini, parsley and mint, grilled slices of courgette are just hidden underneath the toast. Then finished off with a dusting of black sesame seeds. It was divine. Look how beautiful it looks and you could taste the freshness of all the ingredients too. In my mind this is the type of healthy style breakfast they eat in California, and I definitely felt quite boujiee listening to the waves crash as I scoffed down on this. Who needs Venice Beach eh?!

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They have a really extensive drinks menu that I kinda wanted to order one of everything. Their coffees sounded fantastic and I usually always have a tea or latte with breakfast if dining out, but they also had so many wellness teas, herbal teas, soft drinks and juices I opted for a raspberry lemonade. Which was refreshing, tangy and was perfectly sharp on a warm spring day.

I’d definitely return to Lucky Beach if I was in the area again. The food was really delicious, fairly priced considering it was all locally sourced, fresh ingredients too. The atmosphere was really chilled, laidback, friendly and had a nice, fun vibe too. The staff were all so nice as well which can really make or break a dining experience in my opinion. I can wholeheartedly see why this restaurant has such glowing reviews. FOOD WIN.

Yefsis of Greece – Brighton.

On Wednesday night as I was still suffering from blistergate we really didn’t know where we were going to get from. We were a little walk away from the city centre itself and I was in a bit of pain, like who knew two stupid blisters could cause so much of an issue?! We sat in our hotel room unsure whether to stay in, go out, order a takeaway, call an uber or just try and find somewhere nearby or a skateboard for me. I didn’t want to ruin the evening nor did I want to have to walk in ages in fear of my feet ACTUALLY falling off. So we decided to actually order our own dinners through Deliveroo to the hotel and then we’d walk down to the beach and eat it there. Luckily my pal lent me his shoes and oh my days it felt like I was walking on clouds.

Greek foods is up their as one of my favourite cuisines. I love greek salads, feta cheese, souvlaki and gyros. So after browsing through loads of totally different food places on Deliveroo and Yefsis of Greece took my fancy. It had a wide variety of different foods both snack style options and full meals and I kinddaaaaa wanted to order loads but played it safe and stuck with a halloumi gyros and halloumi fries.

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As I was ordering it I totally forgot I was actually having halloumi twice. The Gyros was a warm pita flatbread filled with herb dusted halloumi, diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, chips and a traditional greek tzatziki dressing. Complete carb overload but a) I’m defo not going to judge or turn that down and b) when it tasted that good I’m not going to be counting my syns or macros.Mainly cos they’d be through the roof I’m sure.

IMG_6685 The battered halloumi fries were honestly just as good as they sound but by this point I was kinda cheese’d out if that were even possible?! It had a drizzle of thick greek yoghurt, herbs and pomegranate seeds which I think were definitely needed to give the fries some freshness and tang to it otherwise i’d have found it a bit too rich.

If I was to visit Brighton again for longer I’d want to pay Yefsis a visit and actually visit the restaurant rather than getting takeout. I love the relaxed, chilled way of Mediterranean meal times and would love to visit here for a meze of different dishes and try little bits of Greek delights. I live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in Dorset and it’s so difficult to come across places like this that serve authentic dishes outside of their native country.

Coffee Counter – Brighton.

OMG BREAKFAST NAAN NEED I SAY MORE???? FOR A BLOG POST APPARANTLY I NEED TO SAY MORE THAN THIS THO. Ok so sorry for shouting but omG Breakfast Naan?!!?! Ok so now i’ve got that mad scramble out of the way, I visited Coffee Counter on my last day of my trip to Brighton on Jimmy’s recommendation. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a website or social media page for this place but I was honestly so blown away by the great food and simplicity of it all. It’s a small ish location with a handful of tabled and benches for a quick pit stop for a coffee, a breakfast plate or a great brunch and light lunch spot with friends. I found their Tripadvisor just here and judging by the fact they’ve got 5 star reviews I think means they’ve tapped into something very special indeed!

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The inside decor was eclectic with cool graffiti covered walls and mismatched seating. The windows bi-fold so you can get the warm breeze from the outside as you can watch the world go by. I ordered  an Iced latte and the breakfast naan as I had never heard of anything like it before.

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It was a warm plain naan bread filled with halloumi in bombay spices in a mild curry sauce, spinach, cucumber and mint in greek yoghurt, mango chutney, a perfectly poached egg topped with crispy onions. I know it doesn’t sound like usual breakfast fare but this was actually incredible and would make for incredible street food too. I told the owner of Coffee Counter just how much I adored this and he explained where the dish he came from. His Grandmother was indian and he really didn’t like spicy or indian foods so in an effort to get him to like it more she would make him these naan bread wraps. Shoutout to this fella’s granny because this was an actual dream.

Would I go back? 100000% I’m not just saying that cos he told me their secret family recipe for this but also because the staff were so friendly and gave Jimmy and I each a loyalty card for a free coffee on return! Little things like this really go a long way I think in terms of building customer relations. Even though that I live in deepest darkest Dorset and they’re Brighton based if I was ever back that I really would pop back in.

Street Thai – Brighton.

When I’m in a new place I absolutely love trying the local restaurant scene or sampling the best rated places that I may not be able to get at home. I love trying new foods and well eating in general really so during my few days away in Brighton my friend and I wanted to be able to say we had some great fun, great memories and great food too. We spent our first evening wandering the streets, not in a lonely Oliver Twist type of way but in a neither of us could make up our silly minds where we wanted to eat we instead sat on the promenade googling nearby suggestions. We would pass somewhere that I liked the look of but Jimmy did not and vice versa until we both just got too hungry we agreed the next place we saw we would go into. Finding our bearings a bit we realized we were not too far from where Choccywoccydoodah was in one of the Lanes and there before us like a glowing light, to which we were two starving little moths, was Street Thai. Lit up like the empire state and will it’s kitchen aroma filling the streets we were in, almost like in a cartoon we followed the piquant smell, and the sign for the 3 course dinner for £12.99 special.

Street Thai specialises in staple Thai dinners and traditional Thai street foods and I was really keen to try something a little bit different or something traditionally Thai. As long as it wasn’t crickets on sticks, I draw the line there. Perusing the special three course offer we both opted for that as it was really good value and also need I mention again how starving we were?!?

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I ordered the spicy green papaya salad for a starter. Which was hot. Like a lot hotter than I anticipated. Over the years I’ve grown a lot better with spicy foods although I much prefer foods with plenty of flavours over a lot of heat, you will never catch me chomping down on a vindaloo is what I’m saying. Nevertheless this was enjoyable once I got myself over the initial heat of the dish. It was crunchy, flavourful and tangy. Plus I really like added nuts in any food really. From chocolate to curries and stir frys I like the added texture it adds to something and it didn’t disappoint. Within seconds of finishing our first course, our main meal came whizzing out. I ordered a red curry with pumpkin and mixed vegetables and a side of jasmine rice. It was warming, fragrant and just plain lush to be honest.

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However I was most looking forward to the final course, the best course in my opinion, the dessert course. Jimmy went with a green tea cheesecake and I opted for banana and coconut fritters. Which unfortunately I think they forgot about as it was getting late and they took off the bill. It was annoying but at least we didn’t have to pay for something we didn’t get. As this was my first experience of traditional thai foods outside of my local thai takeaway, Koh Thai Tapas and Giggling Squid restaurant chains. I really liked the food we had. If I were to go back I think I’d quite like to jump outside of my comfort zone a little bit more and try something a bit different.

Burgers & Cocktails – Brighton.

Funnily enough that is what I had. I had amaretto sours and a cauli burger. Lives up to it’s name very well indeed. Welcome to the final stop of the Brighton food tour huns we made it!!! We originally just popped in here for a drink or two as it looked nice, quiet and more importantly air conditioned. I had a fresh and lemony amaretto sour as we played board games in a near on empty Burgers & Cocktails restaurant.

I wasn’t actually aware beforehand that Burgers & Cocktails are actually owned by the same chain that are Giraffe. It’s stylish, quirky and preeeeeetty peachy and their menus totally match that as well. The menu has a good variety of things for meat eaters as well as accommodating to those that may be vegetarians or those whom have intolerances too. After copious amounts of cocktails and there’s only so much scrabble with your pal you can take we got a bit hungry and both decided to try the cauli wobble burger and share some skin on fries.  I also had a lotus biscuit milkshake, cos yknow calories don’t really count when you’re on holiday do they?!

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These rustic skin on fries were a dream. Salty, hot and sprinkled with herbs and spices. I’m 23 and am still yet to find a carb I don’t like.

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This was the cauli wobble burg and not going to lie I pictured it a little differently. It contains some deep fried chunks of cauliflower, halloumi, red peppers and greens all on a layer of sriracha mayonnaise. I for some reason thought it would be like two cauli steaks acting as the buns and the halloumi, peppers and greens sandwiched in between. It was quite difficult to eat as I kept losing cauli bits, I mean I’m not the most dignified at the best of times with messy foods. The sriracha mayo added that extra kick which I think the burg really needed as some find that cauli can be quite bland.

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This milkshake was insanely gorgeous. Lotus biscuits are so moreish and this was just fab. Top marks Burgers & Cocktails people.

The staff were attentive and lovely to us during our visit, even though they couldn’t help with my scrabble pieces; I HAD NO VOWELS.

Frome Independent Market.

bumble and wildHello again and HAPPY EASTER! I hope you all had a lovely day whatever you got up to and ate, drank and got merry with your loved ones celebrating all things Easter, Spring and chocolate. My family and I went to Frome Independent market today which is a town about 30 minutes away from where I live. Frome is a town in lovely Somerset which has a lovely mix of both highstreet retailers and a lot of cute independent shops. I’m a big fan of any town or high street that isn’t like no other and quite often in the UK you could walk down any high street or shopping town centre and be greeted with the exact same shops, the exact same closed down shops and end up in the same chain coffee shop drinking the same skinny vanilla latte. Eurgh. Not for me. Don’t get me wrong I do shop in these places and photograph the life out of my seasonal hot chocolates on the ‘Gram but I do like to support local and support smaller businesses more. See pic above of the very pretty florist’s shop Bramble and Wild. Their window display’s truly are wonderful. Continue reading “Frome Independent Market.”

I MADE A GIANT JAFFA CAKE.

I’ve conjured up a sure fire way to put end to the age old debate as to whether the humble Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, by making my own version larger than my own blimmin’ face! No seriously this is huge and delicious. Just like me amirite? I found this recipe through UniLad would you actually believe it. No offence you absolute lads buuuuut I never had this site synonymous with baking cakes especially chuffing good caked bakes at that! Not only is a gigantic Jaffa Cake totally heavenly to gorge on but it’s also super pretty to look at too PLUS the recipe and method is really easy to follow too! win win eh!

I haven’t done any fun bakes in a while and as soon as I found this I couldn’t wait to put it into practice and share it with you all! I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there to make it more suitable for how I wanted it but as you can see on the link above you can follow that straight through to the UniLad version.

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So, before I get too into this recipe post, a word to the wise this cake can take a little while to fully create so if you’re hoping for a quick and easy bake to show off to your friends, frenemies and exes on IG maybe give yourself a a good few hours!

You will need:

  • A frying pan lined with baking paper.
  • A round cake tin smaller than your saucepan lined with cling film.
  • 135g packet of orange jelly cubes.
  • 250ml boiling water.
  • 200g unsalted butter.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 3 medium eggs.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Zest and juice of half an orange.
  • 200g dark chocolate.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

To give the sponge that bouncy, half spherical shape a lot of websites/recipes suggest baking the cake itself in a frying pan. Sounds weird I know but it works so go with me on that.  I covered the base of the pan with a circle of baking parchment and sprayed the sides with some coconut oil frylite spray to make it easier to get out of the pan.

Cutting the jelly into cubes (who else used to just eat the cubes as a kid??No me neither that would be weird…) I line a round cake tin with some cling film at the same time putting the kettle on to boil. Multitasking check me out eh!? Pouring the boiling water over the top of the jelly cubes and stirring til all the jelly lumps have melted away. I add the zest and the juice of half an orange into the jelly giving it a super orangey kick. One of your five a day right??? I then pour into the cake tin to set up and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

THE SPONGE

This recipe was a standard sponge. Cream the butter and the sugar together til light and smooth. Slowly add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder and once its all delightfully mixed to perfection pour into the frying pan. Sounds proper mental and to be honest I was a bit nervous I was going to catch fire to my Mum’s fancy pants frying pan but all is well in team What Abbie Says camp. They recommended the baking time of about 30-40 minutes. I’d keep checking on it from that time onwards, as mine actually took somewhere up to 45 minutes altogether as it was still uncooked in the centre.

Once done, transfer the cake on to a wire, cooling rack and leave til its cooled completely. Making sure the jelly is chilled like Snoop Dogg on a day between the 19th and 21st April I melted the dark chocolate over a pan of water. Also known as a bain marie if you will. Wait til the chocolate has fully melted and leave to cool; if it’s too warm it’ll melt the jelly when you pour it over and you’ll either have to eat it on your own VERY QUICKLY or serve a sad jaffa pud. Placing the jelly circle in the middle on top of the cake I poured the melted chocolate over the top, making sure the entirety of the top was covered and that it didn’t drip down onto the edge. Dipping the knife into the top  drawing lines both horizontally and vertically. Quickly putting back into the fridge to set up for the fiiiiiinal time and once it’s cool you can serve it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Jaffa cakes are fab, bigger jaffa cakes are extra fabulous.

If you fancy making this recipe, I would totally recommend. It was super fun, totally easy to do and looks really impressive as well. To give this recipe a little twist how about using a dark chocolate and lime jelly or even raspberry. Equally you could use something like a tropical or pineapple flavour jelly with a white chocolate coating and coconut sponge like a pina colada without the hangover!

 

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

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Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

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Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

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As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

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For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

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For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

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Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

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As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

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Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

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I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.