Monday, November 14

Thomas Sabo Love Coins









Recently myself and five bloggers from Sotonbloggers were invited down to the Thomas Sabo store for a private event to introduce their new Love Coins. We were greeted by  the lovely Francesca, the rest of the Southampton team, and a vast array of pastries, fruit skewers, smoothies and fizz! After grabbing a bite to eat we started our tour around the store and all the different collections including the karma beads, charm club and their newest collection love coins. 

When it comes to charms Thomas Sabo have the goods! I mean there is literally a charm for everything and anything! We could've spent all day lusting over the fabulous collections and trying all the different combinations and I think its safe to say we all walked away with wish-lists' as long as our arms. The bracelets themselves are such good value for money and the black zirconia beaded numbed I had my eye on was only £22!! Charms range from around £20 - £80 with hundreds to chose yet all finished with intricate precision. I instantly fell in love with the globe, passport and plane charms and its safe to say they are at the top of my Christmas list! 

We were then all given the opportunity to personalise one of their love coins right in store. These are gorgeous double sided pendants where you can personalise the inscription on one side. We had a choice of an infinity or tree of life, and then we could chose three symbols, letters or a combination of both. I opted for my initial as I thought this would be classic, can be worn with everything and will remain timeless. You can chose between bold, romantic or script font with a preview coming up on the screen before you commit to any final decisions. Once you were happy with your design, simply click go and watch the engraving happen right in front of your eyes. I was gobsmacked at just how quick this was and within seconds my personalised coin was all ready for me! 

Francesca and her team were incredible and it was the perfect afternoon spent lusting after the most gorgeous jewellery. The event was different to anything else I've been to but everyone was so friendly and we were allowed to play around with all the different bracelets and charms to chose our favourite combination. It was a real pleasure and I am so thankful for my love coin, I absolutely love it. A big thank you to Francesca and the whole team over at Thomas Sabo for a fabulous afternoon. Check out some of my favourite pieces below. 

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Monday, November 7

My top tips for the Perfect City Break


So you want to go away for a long weekend but you have absolutely no idea where to start right? Whether its a romantic getaway with your partner, a girly weekend away shopping and partying, or a simple solo trip to relax and have some much needed downtime. Follow some of my best tips and you really can't go wrong.

If you`re a bit of a travel novice the first place you need to head is Skyscanner. A comparison tool for low cost flights around the world, they can show you the cheapest month to travel and the cheapest days in the month to fly. If you're not that flexible they can still find the cheapest options for your dates and direct you straight to agency and airline websites without any hidden extra costs. Holiday Pirates is another starting point that if you haven't checked out you are seriously missing out! They offer some of the best deals around and include DIY packages where you can mix and match the best dates, hotels and flights or alternatively full packages with everything included usually for an absolute steal.  

When it comes to hotels Trip Advisor will become your best friend. You can check customer reviews and locations to make sure you are getting exactly what you are looking for. Make sure your hotel is not a million miles away from local transport links and check if there are any restrictions on checking in and out: you may find some hotels have their reception in a different location to the hotel itself so find out this information before you travel. Comparison tools such as Air B&B and lastminute.com allow you to sort by distance so you can chose how close to the city centre you stay and they let you book right up to the day you’re staying, often with some great reduced prices. 

Although taxis may seem like the easiest option they can often be very costly especially once the driver realises you are a tourist without much clue as to where you are going. Negotiate a price before you set off and have a look online at some basic prices if you plan on using taxis. Public transport is the easiest and cheapest way of travelling around and most European cities offer 24 hour passes which allow you to use all buses, trams and trains for under 10 Euros. You can research transport routes before you go and there are apps you can download which can help you including Google Maps and City Mapper

Sightseeing buses and tours can be a rip off but they can also be a really good deal so make sure you research all options before you go. In Budapest we found the hop on hop off ticket was totally worth it as your ticket includes 2 different routes, an evening bus tour and an evening cruise along the river over 48 hours; whereas in Rome, its easy to navigate between all of the sites and there is so much to see and experience whilst walking around that you miss sitting on a bus that its not worth the 22 Euros you pay. 

If its your first time visiting a city a walking tour can be a good place to start which helps to orientate you and the guides are often full of great tips, do’s and don’ts and must see sites you might have missed. Sandemans offer free walking tours in 18 European cities which operate on a solely tips basis and they are the best at what they do. Many companies offer similar tours so just have a quick google but be sure to check reviews first. They are a great way to cover a lot of ground if you’re not in a city for very long. 

If your flight is not until the evening often your hotel will have somewhere you can leave your luggage whilst you spend your last day exploring. If you’re waiting to check in there are often places you can leave your luggage in most main cities just check online or ask at any main transport station. For a small fee you can leave your bag for however long you need allowing you to take full advantage of your time in the city. 

Be realistic - when we planned our anniversary trip to Italy we didn't put much research in beforehand - only rough ideas of where we wanted to visit and basic prices of travel  and length between cities. As our itinerary wasn't finalised we had to book all train tickets on the day of travel and this led to some hefty prices and credit card bills. We are also guilty of trying to cram in way too much in a short space of time and found that once we arrived in a city our first point of call was to dump the luggage, head to the centre and explore! Be realistic about how long you will be somewhere and how much you can fit in during that time. Don’t overdo it remember this supposed to be a holiday and a break from our mundane day jobs. 


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Tuesday, November 1

Freakshakes at Orange Rooms






If you don't know what Freakshakes are then you must have been living under a rock for the last few months - but just in case - let me fill you in. By definition they are monster milkshakes full of calorific goodness! Imagine ice cream, sprinkles, whipped cream, milk bottles - the works! They've been popping up here, there and everywhere so when Orange Rooms introduced their take on the Freakshake, the Sotonbloggers couldn't miss an opportunity to pop down and check them out. 

Orange Rooms is a quirky cocktail bar in Bedford place offering possibly the most dynamic drinks menu and a vast array of street food from around the world. They have several themed rooms which you can hire out for special events and a very chilled, sophisticated vibe. Personally, Orange Rooms is one of my favourite bars in this area as the staff are always welcoming and friendly and the food speaks for itself. On this particular occasion I opted to go straight in with my Freakshake but I would highly recommend you check out their food menu if you`re in the area. The nacho chicken wrap is the bomb and their tiger fries are simply divine!

If you`re looking for something more on the sweet side then you`re in the right place! You can choose from a choice of three flavours: Vanilla topped with a doughnut; Strawberry topped with a jam tart or Chocolate topped with a muffin and they even offer a dairy free option too. You would think that after demolishing one of these bad boys you would be left in a sugar induced coma, but they are in fact the perfect balance and not too sickly at all...although I did have to have a break before attempting the doughnut! Afterwards we spent the afternoon catching up, planning the first episode of Made in Southampton (we think it will be a massive hit) and just generally having a laugh and relaxing. It was the perfect event giving everyone time to get to know one another and have some much needed relaxation. 

A huge thank you to Orange Rooms and Alice from Sotonbloggers for organising the event. All photos supplied by the lovely Rachel over at Illustrated Teacup - a big thank you to her too!

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