A Vegetarian Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath.

Can you think of anything more quintessentially British than enjoying a splendid afternoon tea in the Royal Crescent Hotel which is nestled in the heart of historic Bath’s crescent? Unless The Queen and Mr Bean were sat at the adjacent table.

I visited The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa for the first time a few weeks ago with my sister and it’s just as grand and luxurious as one would imagine and I cannot wait to share my wonderful dining experience with you all.

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We were promptly lead through the house, into the tranquil gardens and taken into the foyer of The Dower House restaurant where we were offered the choice of eating indoors or choosing one of the many tables outside. Seeing as it was such a beautifully sunny and warm day we opted for the latter. The resident robin even joined us at our table on many occasions throughout our visit. You’d hasten to forget you were in the middle of a beautiful, busy and bustling city as it was just so relaxing and quiet in the grounds of the hotel.

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We were seated at our table and handed some menus to choose which type of afternoon tea we’d like and which blend of tea we want to accompany it as well. The Royal Crescent really do cater for everyone with their choices of afternoon teas. First up was the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea (£37.50 per person) which they say is designed more for those with a savoury palate. The sandwich choices you receive with this are:

  • clarence court egg, smoked cheddar, spring onion and mustard cress.
  • Roast beef with a horseradish mayonnaise and watercress.
  • Corn fed chicken and a basil and lemon hummus.
  • And finally a smoked salmon sandwich with a lemon and chive cream cheese.

The savoury options for this particular afternoon tea are:

  • Smoked salmon toast, smoked paprika, lemon zest and topped with caviar.
  • A bite sized sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze.
  • Bath chap (which is a cut of pork) with a mustard mayonnaise, pickled radish and sorrel.
  • Cucumber filled with a caraway spiced goats curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion.
  • Saffron and honey yoghurt topped with mackerel tartar and a fennel and red onion salad.

This afternoon tea is then simply finished off with an individual verrine topped with a crescent biscuit, a warm scone, Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserve and a bath bun with cinnamon butter.

If you have a sweeter palate or want to opt for the more traditional afternoon tea, the Authentic Afternoon Tea (also £37.50 per person) This offers all the same sandwiches as above but rather than getting a plate of savoury minis you get seasonally changing homemade cakes, pastries and sweet delicacies.

If that’s not all they even offer a children’s Afternoon Tea (£19.50 per child) which I think is the sweetest idea. The thought of a little party of children dressed up in posh frocks and polished shoes having a fancy garden tea party makes even me feel gooey and smiling like the Cheshire cat.

My sister opted for the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea and I chose to have the vegetarian one with a copious amounts of earl grey to wash it all down with. I really liked that, if you’re having an afternoon tea with someone you don’t necessarily have to have the same one. Makes life a lot smoother for those with dietary requirements as they also cater for those who are vegan or nut/gluten intolerant as well.

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The dainty finger sandwiches I had were filled to the brim of these delectable fillings:

  • Avocado, guacamole and mustard leaf.
  • Roast red pepper with a basil and lemon hummus.
  • Cucumber, dill, black pepper and lime
  • And finally it was a little tomato and chutney sandwich.

They were delightful, fresh and different to what you’d usually get with an afternoon tea which I really enjoyed.

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The savouries I had included in this afternoon tea were delicious and so different to what I was expecting. Starting from the top item at the back was a bite sized mushroom and truffle sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze. The depth of flavours from the rich umami flavours from the truffle and mushrooms to the sweet, delectable hit from the honey at the end really finished off this little treat.  To the right of that was a warm truffle, brie and grape tart. Brie and grape is just a marriage made in perfect food heaven, combine that with a warm, buttery pastry and you’ve got yourself this little bite of happiness. Beneath that is a savoury choux bun, something of which I had never tried before and was really intrigued by. It was filled with a mouthwatering tomato, basil and lemon cream making it such a lovely and delicate light bite. Next from that was a thick slice of cucumber, which had been partially hollowed out and filled with a caraway spiced goat’s curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion. This too was something I had come across nor tried before and was eager to try it for myself. It was refreshingly cool and wonderfully unique to something you’d expect to adorn your plate. I loved the addition of the very on trend charcoal emulsion as well. Last but definitely not least was the saffron and honey yoghurt you can see in the glass jar on the plate. The silky smooth yoghurt was topped with feta cheese, ribbons of red onion and a fennel salad. Before I start to sound like a broken record I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like the things I tried here. The amber hued yoghurt had the subtle floral flavours of saffron combined with the saltiness of the feta and the tartness of the red onion it was completely sublime. I don’t think I could have wolfed it down any faster!

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A close up shot of the saffron and honey yoghurt pot.

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The warm truffle, brie and grape tart in all its glory.

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In between the savoury and sweet tiers we had these delightful lime posset verrine’s topped with a crescent biscuit. It was gorgeously creamy and tangy serving as the perfect palate cleanser.

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Now moving onto the pinnacle of an afternoon tea, it’s not complete without scones with jam and clotted cream. Their warm scones were perfect, so you can just tear them in two with your hands. Whether you eat your scones with jam and cream or cream and jam; these’ll go down a treat.

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If these are new to you as well they are sweet enriched dough buns, studded with sultanas, sprinkled with sugar and a sugar lump placed in the middle.

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As you can see the sugar lump hidden inside the bath bun still remains nearly completely intact. These are perfect with lashings of jam and cream or slathered in cinnamon butter.

I absolutely loved my visit to The Royal Crescent Hotel and am definitely thinking about when I’ll next be returning or even sampling some of their main restaurant menu.

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Whistling Down The Wind.

Hello how you diddling? It’s been a little while hasn’t it?! I’ve been stopping and starting with writing on here for too long now for the silliest of all reasons. Either I wasn’t really feeling it, I didn’t like what or I was writing or I kept starting it off by saying ‘Hey Hey’ and that sounded more like Krusty the clown from The Simpsons than it felt like I was being cool and quirky. So hello, how’s that for size?

I’ve neglected this blog and nearly all my social medias recently I think means a proper little chatty catch up post is definitely in order. So settle in grab a cuppa and a slice of something delicious and let’s have a little catchy uppy shall we?

So where on earth do I start…Theresa May resigned from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Game Of Thrones came to an end, Britain flopped (as per usual) in Eurovision all in the same month that I had a complete social media purge and deleted Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter off of my phone and from my life. I’m not saying I hold that much of an impact and my ego is the size of the moon BUT it’s a bit of a coincidence isn’t it just?!

I deleted a few of my socials for a number of reasons really. Firstly, I have literally no storage space on my phone and I value other apps and a plethora of saved memes over me constantly scrolling on Insta like there’s no tomorrow. Secondly, without sounding like a knockoff Marie Kondo, but these apps didn’t spark any joy so why did I really have them? I felt like I was mindlessly clicking on it, almost out of habit, seeing that my life wasn’t nowhere near as good or well put together like others online. I know that with Instagram you only ever see the good aspects of peoples lives; no matter how gratifying it would be to know your favourite fashion blogger or influencer spends all morning cleaning her oven and then eats own brand cheesy beans on toast for tea.

Without all these apps I’ve found that I’ve actually spent a lot less time aimlessly on my phone. God knows how people procrastinated before the telly, internet and social media were invented?! Because of this, I’ve been quite productive in other aspects of my life (apart from on here apparently!) and now I  feel a lot less inclined to post something for the sake of posting, or to keep up with a theme or because I haven’t posted in a few days and I might lose a follower. In the grand scheme of things for me, Life is far too short to worry about tiny, little details like that in my opinion.

I’ve become quite lax, maybe a little bit too much so, with posting on here. Which to be honest makes me quite sad. Blogging used to be one of my favourite pastimes and something I could always rely on lifting me out of a funk and lately it’s felt like a blimmin’ chore more than anything. I’ve questioned whether this whole thing is even for me, whether i’m good enough, whether there’s space for me and this little old blog in this growing community anymore and whether anyone actually even really cares. Then once I got over myself I realised I do this for me. To have my own personal journal online for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come, what I’ve been doing and for you all to judge if you so wish.

But, I’ve been toiling away on loads of new content, which I realise makes me sound like such an arse. Like I’m an actual investigative journalist covering topics of civil war in third world countries not that you’re getting one rambled post about cookies once every three months. Can’t win ’em all. Jokes aside I’d love to be able to write about the former, covering such huge topics and bringing them to light, I honestly don’t think I’d have the brain power or the vocabulary to speak about such subjects in a way. I’ve had a bit of a shake up and rebrand around here so it may look a bit different and some new ideas will be coming out to play as well. Think of me like a hermit crab, the exterior may look a bit different but on the inside it’s still the same old, Ab (salty, crabby and always walking sideways apparently)

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I’ve been going through the motions a lot in my own head recently. I’m 24 and I just feel like I haven’t achieved anything of significance in my life so far. Like I didn’t expect I’d have amounted to much but I was hoping my roaring twenties would have been more fulfilling than it has been so far. For all those pop culture vultures out there, do you remember when Gemma Collins was in Big Brother and she exclaimed to Tiffany Pollard ‘This is gonna be a long slog, this life for me’ well I FEEL that.

So rather than sit back, mope around like I’m about to sing the sad song in the prelude in the musical of my life. I’m going to try my best to push myself out of my comfort zones and do things, make memories, create stories and genuinely live my best life. Not just look like I am online. I’ve got a notebook, a very cool leatherbound one and I’ve filled it with everything I hope to do or achieve in life. From big things to little things from finding a career I fall head over heels in love with to learning to drink whisky like a cool girl in a smoky parisian jazz bar. It’s probably not something I’m willing to share online right now mainly cos it might read like the ramblings of a mad woman who just really wants to learn how to ride a pony. But I’m hoping this’ll give me a sparkle and a newfound lease on life.

Hopefully it won’t be too long til the next time you hear from me. Have a fab weekend. Ab x

Book Review: Jacqueline Pirtle’s 365 Days Of Happiness *

Book Review: Jacqueline Pirtle’s 365 Days Of Happiness *

One of my favourite pastimes is immersing myself in a book, to me there is nothing quite like being able to slink off, forget all your troubles and worries and absorb yourself for a little while into a different world. I’ve been this way since I was a child and I’m still one of those people that could pick up the same book and reread it time and time again. This year in an attempt to try and cut down my screen time I’ve set myself a challenge of reading 25 books in a year. To some this may seem simple to others it may seem mammoth but i’m hoping it could be an achievable goal.

I’m trying to branch out in what I read rather than the usual fiction or chick lit I’m trying to broaden my literary horizons and add some different genres to my bookshelf.

I was lucky enough to be gifted this particular book from one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. I know that probably sounds false or like a massive cliche but Kelsey from Book Publicity Services in the States is a literal ray of sunshine. Which was totally apt considering she sent me over Jacqueline Pirtle’s book 365 Days Of Happiness to read and review.

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They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but when there’s a gorgeous cupcake that looks too good to eat how can you not want to dive in head first? From the description and the blurb I was already super interested in what this book had to offer. Jusr from reading that I learnt that Jacqueline is a holistic practitioner, healing arts teacher, mentor, author, all round cool chick, need I add more to the list?! She has published this book as a step by step guide to happiness. She spent every day throughout 2017 dedicated to her own happiness. Noting down the things she did that improved her wellbeing or sparked joy. 

I’d never read a book like this before and I must admit to being a bit sceptical at first. I suffer with low mood and anxiety and am also a natural cynic so how much would this book realistically change the way I think? Is she going to tell me surefire ways to win the lottery, wake up looking like Charlize Theron with Tom Hardy running upstairs bringing me breakfast in bed? Well…sadly not. But, Jacqueline will teach you the very easy, subtle art of changing the way you think to a much more positive happy outlook on life.

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I’m the type of person who can often find herself in a more negative head space and that can be a funk that can be quite hard to break out of. This book teaches you simple ways to rethink normal, day to day life and before you know it, it’s slowly seeping into your normal way of thinking.

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A lot of the teachings in the book really resonated with me and definitely made me sit back and reorganize my thoughts or the way I think about things. This passage above has made me look at situations I’m presented with in a different way. Sometimes when you’re faced with difficulties it can be hard to raise your head above it and think of the bigger picture in life. That someone somewhere will have it better and someone somewhere will also have it a lot worse. What you think or what you see as a problem someone else could see as a blessing.

This isn’t the sort of book you would necessarily read all in one go but perhaps place on your bedside table or your kitchen counter so when you wake up first thing or have a few minutes with a cup of tea and your breakfast you can spend a moment or two dedicated to yourself, your thoughts, gratitude and mindfulness. As someone who can often feel quite pessimistic this book taught me that sometimes you have to adopt a mindset in seeing positivity in things you might not normally.

I really liked this book and I feel like Jacqueline’s personality and soul shines through so warmly. It’s like she’s an actual friend and is offering life advice and cheering me up a bit every morning! If you’re looking for a book along these lines I would wholly recommend this one. I’ve actually lent it to a friend and he really loved it and tries to put the teachings into practice each and every day.

*this book was gifted to me but all of my thoughts, feelings, opinions and pictures are completely genuine and completely my own.

My Spring Bucket List!

Hi there! It’s been a while hasn’t it?! I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA; I’m hoping to refill my little blog with loads of new bits of chitter chatter and writing over the coming weeks so watch this space! I’ve got loads of ideas and half written little ditties saved in my drafts that I just haven’t got round to posting so expect a flurry of new stuff soon!

I’ve had little to no mojo to blog for ages and I think it might be finally be back (yay) which I’m super excited about. Browsing through my usual, favourite blogs to read I may have taken this idea from Gillian’s post I read in the week (have a read of it it’s just here she and her blog are just lovely I would totally recommend having a little gander over there!) But I do love doing these types of posts. Once I’ve done it and written it up I feel so much more inclined to actually follow it all through almost like I’m now formally bound in a written contract to you all. No pressure eh Ab.

But here it is…My Spring Bucket List. I hope it may inspire you to do one too, or maybe even try and do some of these things for yourself as well!

Spring Bucketlist

Spring Clean- Nothing says Spring has Sprung like doing a complete Marie Kondo on everything you own and decluttering your space. I am in desperate need of re-organising my bedroom, getting rid of any clutter I just don’t need. I’m not saying I’m a hoarder but what if I need this *insert item of clothing I haven’t worn in years but ya never know if I might get invited to a costume party and need a leopard print cowboy hat…ahem*.

Spend less time online-  Over the next few months I want to be able to spend less time surrounded by technology. As one of my mini missions I want to be able to switch off a bit better before I go to bed as well so I’m planning to have at least 30 minutes of no phone or computer and try and read before I get my full 8 hours (lol if I’m lucky).

Exercise more- I want to find my fitness specialty and feel a bit happier and more confident within myself and with my body image before the warmer weather hits.

Splash more colour into my wardrobe- Once I’ve finished with my spring cleaning and my decluttering and have lost a bit of my winter wobble I can reclutter my decluttered wardrobe and hopefully inject a bit more fun and colour into it. I’m a sucker for wearing things that are either dark colours or all black errrthang and that’s fine and fail safe for me but I want to experiment a bit more and maybe splash out from my black clothes to more Springlike shades.

Go on nature walks- This sounds like the type of thing you’d encourage a group of pre schoolers to do and I’m not about to go and do leaf drawings and hug a tree but there’s a lot of pretty walks and areas near where I live that once Spring has fully burst through Nature it’ll look so pretty.

Visit different parts of the UK I’ve not been to before- I hope this one may stretch out throughout the most-part of 2019 not just for Spring but I’ve said for a while now I hope to visit and road trip parts of the UK I’ve never visited before. There’s so many places throughout these Isles I’d love to go to and some of them aren’t even really that far away from where I live. I have a car and a railcard and even though train prices can be a bit extortionate I want to be able to tick them off my bucket list soon. Oh and actually try the regional foods I’m obsessed with but try them from the locals. Welsh cakes I’m looking at you here…

Go on a fun day trip-  A few of my friends and I actually had a conversation just the other day about going to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Experience and perhaps a zoo trip too. I really want to be able to be in the position where I can plan lots of fun trips and have loads to look forward to this year.

Bake some exciting Easter treats-  I mean this one might be a bit more topical right now but I want to take full advantage of my sweet tooth and make and bake (oh and share on here and my socials) some chocolatey snacks. I want to try new things and as much as I love a creme egg brownie as much as the rest of Instagram I want to sweep my foodie brain and see what me and my creativity can come up with.

Visit a local food market or food fair- If you’ve followed me for a little while on here you may remember a post about the Frome Independent Market. Have a little refresh of said post just herrrreeeee! It happens on the first Sunday of each Month and I either want to go back and see what’s on offer or even traipse to a new one and see what delights we can feast on.

Aim to get halfway through my Goodreads Book Challenge-  I love reading and like mentioned above, I want to spend less time on my phone and more time actually doing things and in the present moment. I set myself a challenge to read 25 books this year. Roughly 2 books a month I thought it sounded doable. I’m on 5 so far which I’m quite happy with considering! But I’ve been slacking a bit and where I could have switched off from and picked up one of growing TBR pile instead of doing my billionth Buzzfeed quiz of the evening.

Drink more water- This one is just so important really isn’t it?! I am ashamed to say I’m not amazing at drinking water rather reaching for a soft drink or a cup of tea. Flavoured water is a start, having a glass or a bottle within arms reach is another step along the drink-more-water path well you get the gist.

Try to keep on top of my blogging and get into a routine- I am sure I’ll be preaching this until the end of time but I really want to get into a good headspace and have set posting days on here. I once said it would be Wednesdays and Sundays but LOL that never happened. Either way I need to sort out the half written when drunk state of my drafted posts. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to know your thoughts! Would you rather a set day or days of posts? Is it nicer as a random surprise email to say ‘Hiya I’ve posted?’. Similarly I’d love to know your thoughts on things you’d like to see being spoken about or blogged about?

 

Have you got anything you’d like to do or achieve this Spring? I’d love to know! HAPPY SUNDAY!

 

 

 

 

T’was the Night Before Christmas.

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T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the country, dashed irritable shoppers tired and hungry. Every man and their Mother pushed and shoved with their trolley, so much for this being the season to be jolly. When I was a child, Christmas was much more exciting, with the anticipation of Santa bringing presents plus family and loved ones reuniting. The older I’ve gotten the more the festive period makes me wince,from the endless shopping and burgeoning feasts fit for a prince. It makes me sound so selfish, so obnoxious and a bit of a Grinch but I want to treat my loved ones to their own private island but am seriously feeling the pinch. Christmas should be about the presence not the presents around the tree yet here I am stressed about the silly little things that shouldn’t really mean the be all and end all to me. ~ x

 

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So Christmas for a lot of people is seen as such a happy joyous occasion spending time with loved ones, eating and drinking copious amounts of rich, decadent food til you drift off to a drunken snooze in front of the Eastenders Christmas specials. But I can’t lie, this year I have felt the complete opposite of festive and if it wasn’t for the constant reminder on the tv and in shops about Christmas I probably would have been none the wiser!

I just really can’t be dealing with how manic it is at this time of year, how you have to practically hold a black belt in Jiu Jitsu just to manage your way around a TK Maxx throughout the month of December. That you ideally need a car from Wacky Races (always a Penelope Pitstop person if you ask me) to battle for a space in Tesco and the patient of an absolute saint when those relatives ask you those same questions you get every year. Yes I am still single, yes I am *still* a vegetarian and yes my hair is different now but I’m growing out my bangs. Ok now I’m just paraphrasing but you get my drift.

I used to really enjoy the festivities and everything that came along with it but I have been feeling like a right grump in comparison to a lot of people this year. I wish I was feeling it a bit more, giving the fact it is actually Christmas Eve and at the time this goes live in exactly 24 hours the big day will be nearing it’s end. As I get older the thought of all the madness, the craziness when shopping, the fact that someone spend over £850 in my local supermarket, that the shop shelves are nearing on BARE you’d have thought a nuclear apocalypse was on it’s way. God I’m such a misery aren’t I?!

Now, I’m acutely aware that in reality there is far much more to the Christmas period than the buying of gifts or shoppin’ til you droppin’ and I’m probably just feeling it even more so as I’m feeling quite poor and that I wouldn’t be able to indulge others as much as I’d like to. There’s a pressure to show your love and adoration to someone through the gift giving when the bottom line is someone who barely knows you but can exude their wealth could buy you a rolex and someone who cares for you a great deal could write you a thoughtful card that will mean so much more.

So whatever you’re up to this yuletide, on December 25th 2018 I really do hope you have a wonderful one, whether you spend it eating and drinking copious amounts of delicious festive treats, surrounded with your family (even that aunt you don’t really like) or working because as lucky as I am, and the majority are, there are plenty who have to work, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you have a marvelous day, revelling in the peace and quiet and the one day of the year when the telly has actually quite good things on. But to sum up, you’re all absolutely mint and I hope you have the best day whatever you do. ❤

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What does PR Friendly even mean?

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The blogging community is a powerful force, one that seems to be growing in vast numbers on an almost daily basis. I’ve been been in and out of the blogging biz since 2012; way back when I was only just 17 years old and used my blog as somewhere to share my rambling thoughts, post grainy shots of what I had bought in Primark or what Barry M nail polish I was using that week. Not quite thought-provoking content with me ever eh?! I started a blog simply as a bit of fun and somewhere to fine tune my writing skills, never really thinking about it in the long term, as an actual viable source of income.

Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky enough to receive items gifted to me by brands for the purpose of me placing on my blog, talking about them and sharing my thoughts and opinions on them with you all. Blogging, in my opinion is fast becoming a lucrative market in which a brand can essentially get a writer, editor, publicist, marketing team, photographer and social media team all rolled into one with a blogger or content writer. Without running the risk of sounding incredibly biased, but now I’m aware of bloggers, vloggers and influencers I would trust their opinions on a gifted item much more than I’d trust that of someone who was on Love Island or Geordie Shore. For the amount of money a company would have had to have forked out to advertise in a magazine or get a celebrity to promote they could tap into the Blogosphere and get a handful of bloggers to support them instead for either just the mere price of the product or a fraction of the cost of using a celebrity to endorse it; it’s a no brainer really. 

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Attracting the attention of a brand or a PR is something I’ve always been fairly curious about if I’m honest. I know it sounds dead cliche, but it isn’t the sole purpose to a blog and if that’s the way you get into it to attract as many freebies as possible you’ll probably become bitterly disappointed. I’m sure you may even agree with me that it is is an incredibly touching thing when someone, anyone, reaches out to you and comments, or likes, or reposts what you’ve said. So when a brand says ‘Ello there! we like you a lot fancy working together?’ (I do not know why Dick Van Dyke is clearly writing them all) It is a such a genuinely nice feeling knowing that your hobby, your cheeky bit on the side, the blog you’d like to turn into a career (potentially, I don’t know maybe you do who knows??) is being noticed by actual proper non blogging folk people. 

Having said all of that I’m also fully aware some people are lucky to be able to use their blog as a source of income relying on gifting opportunities, ads and other such forms of revenue to make a living and I really can’t be any more supportive and really, genuinely happy for them! When I see people posting sponsored content or gifted reviews I’m just as thrilled to read that as I am a regular post from them. 

With being a blogger and practically living your life constantly online; your life is your brand and your brand is your life almost. Towing the line between accepting each and every gifted offer and remaining authentic to yourself can become a bit of a grey area for some. For instance, this one is a bit of an extreme example but I’m a vegetarian and for the last 6 months I have received several emails about posting about Wild Game pate’s on here and as much as I’m sure they are delicious it would be completely wrong of me to have accepted as it would be blatantly obvious I hadn’t tasted it and wouldn’t have been my honest opinions.

Similarly I mean that’s not to say if you have a niche you can only speak about one thing and one thing only. You may have started a beauty blog 6 years ago and have just moved house and want to share your renovating story with your readers. You get my drift. 

So what I’m trying to say, whilst simultaneously interrupting myself about one thousand times over, what is the secret to all of this. Perhaps you too might be one of those people that see the phrase #Prfriendly being used and it always making you wonder what that really means or even who realistically is going to be PR unfriendly? Maybe you’ve seen someone who has a smaller following than you, posts on their blog less than you but still somehow seems to be getting ALL of the PR samples under the sun and you want to be super happy for your internet friends but at the same time it kinda makes you wonder why them and not you? Do those that work in PR really sift through Bloglovin’ and Instagram searches in order to find the best people for their campaign? to what extent do brands look into the people that they ask to work with them? and do those ever popular ‘Comment your blog link, DA score and email address to be added to my PR list’ really work?

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I’ve spent the last month or so, trying to get down to the nitty gritty of it all and have the points of view from a real life PR Guru, a full time freelance writer and also from a brand who works within the blogging community too, to see what they’ve all got to say on it. I really hope this post may interest you, help you or at least pique your interest and possibly create conversation about the ins and outs of Blogger outreach. 

Jessica

Firstly to start off with we have the incredibly helpful and totally fab Jessica Pardoe also known as a PR aficionado and an all round absolute gem. She’s been a complete angel in helping me out with this. Jessica specialises in PR and blogger outreach so was the perfect person for me to quiz about everything and anything to be quite honest! I couldn’t have done this all without her help and support and if you aren’t sold on Jess enough by now please do have a browse over on her blog here at Thoughts Of Jessica. Or send a funny gif on Twitter here

what do PRs/brands look for when reaching out to bloggers?

The top thing is a blogger that fits what I’m looking for I.E. if I’m looking for someone to review a hotel, or talk about travel then I’ll only go for a travel blogger or for a blogger who’s written these kinds of posts before. It really irks me when I put out a request for bloggers and ask for something like, someone to write a recipe, and then you can tell the blogger hasn’t even properly read the request and their blog is nothing about food and they’ve never posted a recipe before. Do you get me? It just kind wastes both of our time. In terms of what I specifically look for, I like giving opportunities to bloggers who are genuine and don’t just blog for the paid posts. Cause I can’t imagine those blogs get many reads. If I head to a blog and it’s just sponsored post after sponsored post (and if the posts don’t all fit a theme) then I’ll probably blacklist it. If a blogger is genuine, and if the opportunity fits their brand then I’ll be looking to contact them. At work, we look at something called DA which is short for domain authority and it basically ranks how well established your site is. Bloggers can work on their DA in ways, but more often than not it builds itself naturally as you blog normally. I do look at social followers too, but this isn’t always relevant. It depends on the campaign and the type of sponsored opportunity.

Do they take into account the numbers/stats/media kits or do they base it off their blog content?

It’s normally blog content for me. Sometimes clients will have specific details as to how many followers they want the bloggers to have, so then it does come down to numbers, but most of the time I like to make sure the blogger is genuine, that their content suits the opportunity and above all – that they blog for their readers, and that their site isn’t just cluttered with sponsored posts that aren’t valuable. I’ll also check a sponsored post and see what the blogger’s attitude is towards them. I’ve seen bloggers before having a 100 word or less sponsored post, which is literally just a few words on a page that has no story behind it or anything. The best kind of sponsored posts are done by bloggers who make it their own, and who you can tell genuinely have an interest in the brand they’re promoting. Those are the kind of bloggers I aim to work with.

What is the best way for a blogger to reach out them and what to say?

Personally, I get a lot of pitching emails and a lot of them are so impersonal that they go straight to the trash bin. I had one the other day that read something like ‘Hi, Any posts this month?’ I had to follow up and ask what she meant, and she proceeded to say she meant sponsored posts. But I’d never worked with this blogger before. It all felt quite impersonal… Spending a few extra seconds to make your pitch relate to the PR can go a long way, we can tell when it’s a generic email. I’d say, if you have a genuine interest to work with a brand, it’s good to send an email saying why, and maybe even exampling similar work. It might take a little longer, but those extra touches go a long way and could make the difference between securing a collab and not. I also do tend to work with bloggers that I have a relationship with. If I’ve worked with them before, and they’ve got the post back to me on time and it’s been good quality, then I’ll normally contact them with new campaigns that are relevant to their blog and see if they’d like to take part before I outreach to the wider blogging community. So it pays to build those relationships.

Is there anything that would put them off like swearing in posts etc?

Not really. I think if someones f-ing and blinding on every post then I’m like, my client wouldn’t want to work with this blogger. But most of the time, this isn’t a major red flag for me. I still wouldn’t recommend it though. The biggest thing that puts me off is what I mentioned above… When you can tell a blogger is accepting every collab for the sake of things, and their blog begins to look like an advertising ground. I come across a lot of blogs where their site is 100% sponsored content, and I can’t find a genuine post they’ve written because they wanted to, or for the interest of their readers. I stay away from those bloggers because it all feels really fake. I like to work with those who have a genuine passion for blogging, and who’ll really engage with the brand.

It’s murky waters in the blogger biz at the moment but do they check for fake engagement/bots usage before reaching out?

Yessss 10000000%. I wish every PR did. At the moment there are still tools that are being developed that’ll make our lives easier in spotting fake engagement. But for now, I do always check a bloggers followers if I’m looking to work with them on a social campaign. I check their followers and their likes on Instagram normally. I can spot bots from a mile off, and I won’t work with a blogger if I do. It’s not fair on bloggers who genuinely work to get a great following. Plus, fake engagement would be of no benefit for my client, so it’s a massive no-go for me!

Arma Chameleon

From the point of view of a freelancer / blogger we’ve got the HILARIOUS lady behind @ActualAr. She’s a hoot and a half and if you don’t already stalk her Instagram stories or Twitter feed like I do (I have literally no shame…but find her tweetin’ here) check out her blog here as well. I love her honest, relaxed and down to earth approach. I don’t actually even know her name it’s like it’s kept as a Government secret I can only assume the Ar is short for Aristotle cos I actually adore everything she writes. She could rewrite my local chinese takeaway menu and it would somehow come across as the most hilarious, witty and compelling thing. 

Is there anything you’d suggest before contacting a brand or PR?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth putting a media kit together. You can create your own using a design app like Canva, but it’s a lot easier to use something called Webfluential (You can find the link for that here) which basically helps you put one together and collates a lot of your stats for you based on your social media profiles. It’s free too, which helps! Other things that you should try and get to grips with are your details from analytics. Brands often like to know your demographics, so who is actually reading your blog? How old are they? What are they interested in? Remember it’s important to cater to your readers when you’re looking to work with brands and PRs – it’s not going to sit well if you suddenly start reviewing washing machines if you’re a sports blogger, for example!

If someone wanted to start earning from their blog but didn’t have the foggiest clue on how much to charge how would you suggest they go about figuring that out? 

Work out what you will charge, and stick to it. It’s so easy to undervalue your work when you’re hoping to get a collaboration with a brand, but remember the time and effort that you’ll put into the post, so pitch your fee structure accordingly. Don’t let them take the piss, because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and then you’ll never really gain traction with paid jobs.Make sure you have a terms and conditions/disclosure for work with brands and check the internet advertising guidelines carefully so you don’t end up with a nasty fine either!(Side note- I really had NO clue about this at all but here is the disclosure form from Actual Ar’s site which is so clear and concise)However tempting as it may be, don’t lift someone else’s work and use it for your own. Your blog is unique to you, and you need to make sure you set your terms and disclosures accordingly, or you will end up in murky waters. Be clear on what you will and won’t write about – it’s tempting to write any old shite for the sake of the money, but really it’s not a good strategy in the long term!

Indigo Herbs

Lastly, and no means not least I have quizzed the lovely Claire from Indigo Herbs, a Health and Wellbeing company from Somerset, England who often work with bloggers and post campaigns through Bloggers Required.

What do you look for when reaching out to work alongside a blogger?

From my perspective I’m looking for high value relevant links from the bloggers website to our product pages. For the purposes of referral and SEO. So I’m looking for a good Domain Authority; as defined by moz https://moz.com/home. (Moz measures the SEO power of website as defined by google ) so a good domain authority means the site is well indexed and visible. Social media mentions are also great as this is like personal recommendation. Anything like a giveaway of products on social media can help raise engagement of a social media post.If a blogger was to reach out to you and pitch an idea of a post what type of things would you like to see?When you are pitching you do want to share your statistics of your blog, Domain authority, monthly page visits and preferably a bit about the demographic of your audience so the brand can work out if its a good fit.

Thank you so, so much for making it to the final few words of this post. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Actual Ar and Claire for being so lovely and so helpful in terms of putting this all together. I’d really love to know what your thoughts are on this topic too! Have you ever reached out to a PR or a brand before? Has this post been at all helpful to you? Is there anything you agree with or possibly even disagree with?!

Once again, Thank you for reading!! A.x 

What’s in my handbag?

Hiya huns! How’s your weekend been? Mine has been quite outdoorsy for a change. It’s been really sunny and warm which I think is a little bit weird for the UK nearing the end of October; considering it’s usually a bit colder and wetter around about this time!

I thought for today’s post I would share an absolute blogger favourite AND blogger basic. It’s almost like a rite of passage to bloggerhood to post the notorious ‘what’s in my handbag’ post.I fancied throwing it back to my old blog days with engaging in more tag posts and more personal posts so you can get a chance to get to know a little bit more about me. Or if you want to mug me in the not so distant future, think of this as a preview or what you could have won.

bag flatlay

For my everyday handbag I actually have a backpack from H&M I purchased last year. I like a handbag or a shoulder bag but sometimes I find that it makes my arms and shoulder really ache whereas I can just shove all my stuff in a backpack and carry it with ease. So many shops have such funky types these days. Especially ones that really don’t look like you’re about to hike up Everest which is always a massive plus.

bag contents flatlay

Aside from the loose change, endless wrappers, hairbands and receipts stashed in my bag I nearly always carry these items. I always like to make sure I’ve got paper, in the form of this lovely red leather bound notebook I picked up in TK Maxx last year and a pen. It’s so useful if I need to write a list or if I need to remember something. I mean a pen and paper are always going to be handy?! I always carry a pair of sunglasses with me as you never know when you might need some shades!

I’ve got a River Island tapestry style purse that I purchased YEARS ago actually. I like it because the pattern is a bit different and it’s actually reaally big with a clasped section one side and a card holdeer on the flap as well as a big coin section.

I carry some perfume at the moment I’ve got Paco Rabanne Black XS. It’s quite a sweet, fruity and floral scent you can wear either day or night so it’s perfect for any occasion.

I think it’s always super handy to keep a little pot of Nivea’s all purpose body creme. I love the smell it always reminds me of my Mum. Plus it’s great to use as a hand cream, to feel a bit fresher or even in the colder months to dab onto skin to avoid it drying out.

I’ve pretty much always got a couple of lipsticks floating around the bottom of my bag usually in nude tones and a pair of earphones.

Lastly, and probably most weirdly. I carry dog kibble. I have a dog and I think I must have left them in their from when I take him out on his walkies. I always carry them with me now, luckily they don’t make my bag smell!

What are your essentials you always carry with you?

MUCH LOVE. X