Friday, June 16

Gousto Food Subscription Box

Nowadays people live incredibly busy lives and often you’ll find they don’t have the time, patience or creativity to plan for every single meal in the week. I am guilty of this and although I try my best to meal plan I never stick to it. I am the most indecisive person when it comes to pretty much everything, especially food, so I find it hard to pick what I am having for dinner in advance. When we do our weekly food shop we try and buy as little fresh ingredients as possible to reduce waste. The problem with this is we often have to pop to a shop to pick up a handful of fresh ingredients on the day which is time consuming and can become expensive. 

When I initially discovered Gousto I was really excited to give it a go as this was perfect for us and so convenient. If you don’t know what food subscription boxes are then let me bring you up to speed! Essentially you chose how many recipes and how many servings you would like and they deliver all the ingredients you will need straight to your front door. Don’t worry if there won’t be anyone in to accept delivery because they can deliver to a safe place, with the boxes packed with ice packs and biodegradable wool-cool which keep the food cool for up to 24 hours.

Each week a refreshing new menu of 22 nutritious, healthy recipes are added for you to chose from. There is something for everyone including meat, fish and veggie options, with all recipes offering a well balance measure of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Each recipe card contains nutritional information and cooking time as well as a easy to follow, step by step guide. There is virtually no waste as every single ingredient has been pre portioned and clearly labelled for each recipe. Only the finest ingredients are selected; with all the vegetables and meat sourced locally from farms in Lincolnshire and all the meat used is 100% British. 

What excites me the most about these boxes is that they allow you to try different cuisines that you may not normally get a chance to cook at home. Often exotic recipes can contain several ingredients which are expensive or difficult to source. We’ve come across many authentic recipes that we want to try but the sheer volume of ingredients and the cost to source all of these is just too much for us at the moment. Gousto helps you to discover new dishes, with quick easy recipes, offering a real variety to your diet. 

There are currently 6 boxes available:
- 2 recipes for 2 people £27.49
- 2 recipes for 4 people £41.99
- 3 recipes for 2 people £34.99
- 3 recipes for 4 people £51.99
- 4 recipes for 2 people £41.99
- 4 recipes for 4 people £59.99

You can opt for either one off boxes which you just request when needed or you can sign up to a subscription with the option of weekly, fortnightly or monthly boxes. There is no obligation to sign up to a subscription and you can pause or cancel your membership at any time. Although they only offer portions for either 2 people or 4 people at the moment, this would be so cost efficient for a single person, with enough of each meal to have lunch the next day - BONUS! 

Understandably, these boxes aren't going to be financially viable for everyone but I find this is the a healthy, delicious replacement for eating out or having a take away for virtually the same price. Keep an eye on their website as they often have voucher codes so you can sample your first box for half the price to see if this concept is for you!

Have you tried any food subscription boxes?

Tuesday, June 13

30 Before 30

I've never really been a big risk taker in life, in fact I have always played it safe, perhaps even a little boring. After years of battling anxiety, I woke up one day and decided I wasn't going to let it beat me anymore. I went to work just like every other day, except something inside me had changed and I could feel it. That was the day that it all changed. I started my shift just like any other but by the time I had finished, I had made the most impulsive move in my entire life. My friend was due to visit Berlin for a long weekend for her birthday with some friends and less than 12 hours before she was due to leave, I had booked my flights, flung a change of clothes in a bag and we were off. It was one of the best holidays I have been on and started my love affair with the incredible city of Berlin. That trip I got bitten by the travel bug hard and since then I haven't looked back.

At the start of the year I noticed many people taking part in a visiting 12 places in 12 months challenge. Now unfortunately this year my finances don't allow me to attempt anything close to this but after talking the idea through with Gavin, I had decided I wanted to do something fairly similar. That's when I stumbled across the 30 countries before 30 challenge. This was perfect for me, and followed a more suitable and affordable time frame for my lifestyle. With 10 countries already ticked off, and another 3 already booked in for this year, it seems quite an achievable goal. With just under 4 years until the big 3-0 I definitely think this is obtainable. So with that said, let the journey commence. 

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom [1/30] Although I'm not totally sure that this counts I still wanted to include it because I think it often gets overlooked. I've made it my mission to explore more of the UK on the weekends where I can't afford a trip abroad. 

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France [2/30] For my 5th birthday my mum took me to Disneyland Paris for my first ever holiday and since then I've been back four times. Gavin has never visited Disneyland so this is high up on our places to re-visit, as well as a weekend away in the city of love.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USA [3/30] I've actually been lucky enough to visit the States twice now: first to visit Disneyland Florida back when I was 12 and more recently to visit New York to celebrate my graduation. New York City is the most magical place I have ever visited, and I would 100% say this is somewhere everyone needs to visit before they die. 

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฆ Spain [4/30] I’ve been to Spain on several occasions now: from relaxing in Menorca with the family, to partying the night away in Ibiza with one of my best friends. It’s a place that holds so many memories for me and somewhere I could visit again and again.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece [5/30] In 2009 I went on my first holiday without my parents to Crete, it was so much fun that I ended up spending just under two months out there working but mainly partying. Now that I'm a bit older I'd love to go back and explore more of this picturesque country, plus I'm pretty sure visiting Santorini is on everyone's bucket list. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany [6/30] Its safe to say I left a piece of my heart in Berlin the first time I went. I've now visited three times with a fourth visit in the pipeline and I just can't get enough. Its a place where I feel most at home and I could up-stick and relocate without any hesitation. 

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary [7/30] Hungary was never high up on my list of places to visit, then I stumbled across a super cheap deal and we headed to Budapest for a long weekend last Summer. It is so underrated, there is so much beauty and culture, plus you can pick up a glass of wine in most places for less than a £1!!

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy [8/30] Last year me and Gavin went inter-railing around Italy for 10 days. We flew into Naples and out of Venice and visited some places that had been on my bucket list since I was a child. Each city we visited was equally as beautiful as the last full of good food, good company and beautiful scenic views. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark [9/30] Scandinavia has always fascinated me so when we picked up cheap flights to Copenhagen in the Ryanair Christmas sale I was ecstatic. The city is full of charm with it its own unique character and typically Danish twists. Everyone should embrace the Danish art of hygge (pronounced hue-guh). 

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic [10/30] Prague came recommended to us after how much we loved Berlin and Budapest. I took Gavin here for his birthday this year and although the weather was a bit grey and dreary, it is a relaxed city full of beautiful architecture, history and

authentic charm. 

Countries that I want to visit include:

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada 
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia 
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland 
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป  Latvia 
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Morocco 
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฏ  Norway
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal 
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ Romania
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช  Sweden 
 ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland

This isn't an extensive list of everywhere on my bucket list and I am sure this will change depending on prices and my mood at the time. In the meantime check out my top tips for city breaks to see how I manage to get some of the best deals when booking my city breaks. What places are on your bucket list?

Wednesday, June 7

My tips for buying into Trends

Shopping has and always will be one of my favourite hobbies. But since moving into my flat with Gavin I have had to really streamline what I buy as storage is very limited in our humble little abode. I am forever on the ASOS new in page trawling through and admiring all the new styles but when it comes to actually buying into a new trend I am a lot more cautious. Sometimes the entire blogging world will go into meltdown over a Topshop blouse or Zara bag, only for it to be long forgotten before the week is up. On the flip-side of that it can be months before a trend fades and and I end up kicking myself for not picking up that bargain piece when I first saw it. 

As I am still very experimental with my style, I tend to only invest in basic essentials or classic, timeless pieces. My budget simply doesn’t extend to extravagant designer purchases every month so I am always on the lookout for the next best dupe. If you’re like me and you love styling different pieces but your bank balance does not then follow my four tips for keeping up with the latest trends. 

Shop Smarter
Shopping has and always will be my favourite hobby much to my bank balance’s dismay. Over the years I’ve adapted a couple of rules which help me to keep my spending under control. I have completely banned myself from impulse purchases and instead follow the 5 day rule. I will either screenshot or save the item in a wish list and if I am still thinking about it 5 days later then I will usually purchase. This gives me time to see if there are any cheaper alternatives around and to brainstorm styling ideas and see how this would fit into my current wardrobe. If after two weeks I still haven’t worn the item then I will always return as clearly I didn’t like the item as much as I thought. I would say I end up returning more than I end up keeping but this just goes to show how your style can be different from one week to the next.

Stay up to date
Fashion trends can swap and change more often than Rihanna changes her hair so it can become quite expensive to invest in every single one. There are thousands of ways to stay up to date with recent trends but I would say the best ones for me are Instagram and following fashion bloggers. I was signed up to weekly newsletters but I found these encouraged me to spend more so I usually just browse the new in section regularly to see what’s hot and what’s not. It always helps to see how other people are styling the current trends as often I will find I have something in my own wardrobe which can be styled in a completely new way to give it a new lease of life.  

When I was younger I had store cards coming out my ears but now that I am older and live on my own I have had to reign in my spending. I now limit my spending to ensure I stay on budget each month so you’ll find I tend to do most of my shopping the week before payday when I know exactly how much I have left for luxury splurges.  At the beginning of each season I have a massive clear-out to help me see what I already have and if there are any hidden gems hiding at the back of my wardrobe. I also keep my eye out for discount codes and sales now that my student discount life has come to an end *sobs*.

Confidence is vital when it comes to personal style as it is always very clear when someone feels uncomfortable in what they are wearing. I always make sure to buy the correct size even if this means sizing up from my normal size and I always try things on to make sure I like how they sit. Whether you want to follow the trends or not, as long as you're confident in what you wear you can pull off anything.


Embroidery is absolutely everywhere at the moment and it doesn't look like its going anywhere, anytime soon. I love how Primark have incorporated gingham and fluted sleeves into this style, making it fit with three trends at once. The current collection for Spring/ Summer 2017 is absolutely beautiful and I keep finding pieces that I am falling head over heels for. As there was so much going on with the top, I wanted to keep accessories to a minimum. I opted for a simple pair of pearl ear-rings, my trusty Thomas Sabo watch and this gorgeous handmade leather rope bracelet which is a lovely mauve colour and is so easy to style. 

Top & Espadrilles - Primark / Bag - H&M / Jeans - New Look / Bracelet - Ropelet
* PR Sample

Sunday, June 4

The Botanist Reading

The Botanist has finally opened its doors bringing with it a new lease of life into the old Barclays Bank on King Street. This listed building has been a bank since 1814 when William Simonds of Brewer Simonds’ Reading set it up and named it Simonds’ bank. In 1913 they merged with Barclays until they final closed their doors in 2008. You can still see the original brass nameplate outside the bank on the wall where it will remain. 

This opening marks the 17th site opened by The New World Trading Company (NTC) with a further six sites planned in the coming year. NTC is made up of five brands’; The Botanist, The Club House, The Oast House, The Smugglers Cove and the Trading Cove. Although I have never visited any of their bars before, I’ve been eager to try after hearing everyone rave about the Botanist in Marlow. 


When you first walk in your eyes are drawn to the incredible branch archway which creates a focal point for the restaurant. Intertwining tree branches covered with foliage create an enchanted garden theme with a real focus on the botanical aspect of the menu. There are treasures and trinkets all over, beautiful tiled floors, distressed style furniture and some incredible exposed light fittings. The urban agricultural theme shines through and creates a wonderful fairytale-esque feel to the place. There is live music every night which is something unique to the area and I think really adds to the experience. The duet performing on the night we visited were amazing, I could have listened to them perform all night long! 

After pouring over the carefully articulated menu we opted for a pear and kiwi crush and a blueberry and passion fruit martini. The mixologists were on hand to offer recommendations, talk us through the process and all the ingredients used. All of their drinks focus on horticultural ingredients with some unusual combinations used to highlight the different flavours greenhouse herbs are able to give. If hops are your plant of choice they have 80 different craft beers, speciality lagers and cask ales from all over the world. They even brew two of their own Passionate Blonde and Pacific Pale Ale. Check out their Anthology of Ales if you have difficulty deciding. This is your go to guide on the finest ales and ciders they have to offer. Paired with the new world wine list and a hand picked selection of gins, there is something for everyone. Although I am not the biggest gin fan, I love the focus on local gins produced in the country today and I can’t wait to slowly work my way through the list. 


The food menu is inspired by deli, rotisserie and BBQ. There is a little bit of everything from deli boards and salads, to whole rotisserie chickens and burgers. There’s even a ‘home comforts’ section for those who don’t like to stray too far from their comfort zone. If your just after a nibble they had a vast selection of delicious small snacks or starters. We were dubious to try the salt and pepper onion petals but they were out of this world and I am so glad the waiter recommended them to us as they are not something I would usually have gone for. The homemade scotch egg and creamy truffle mushrooms were equally  exceptional, using simple flavours to create delicious dishes. 

For mains we opted for hanging kebabs; lamb kofta with piri piri sauce and salt and pepper pork belly, served with our choice of sweet potato fries, sweet chilli slaw and cauliflower cous cous. All the kebabs are sopped with sweet chilli and ginger, and it’s safe to say my mouth was watering the moment I spotted these on the menu. Washed down with a round of Botanist Pornstar’s we had very little room left for dessert. However this was before we spotted baked chocolate chip cookie dough on the menu and well…the rest is history. Sporting a serious food baby it was time to head home away from this mystical wonderland but it wont be long before I'm back exploring this world of botanical wonder.
* Complimentary meal with no obligation to review. No affiliation with the Botanist. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, April 18

Wonderland | The Mayflower Theatre

Wonderland* is a magical adaption of the world famous fairy-tales of Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite stories so I was over the moon when I found out we had been invited to attend the opening night at the Mayflower Theatre alongside Sotonbloggers.

Friday, March 24

Spend a Night Behind Bars at the Malmaison Oxford

When it comes to boutique hotels Malmaison kill it every single time. Consisting of 15 unique, upscale, boutique hotels in the UK, Malmaison is a member of the Frasers Hospitality Group that dares to be different. They focus on converting historical buildings into boutique hotels including a church, an old postal sorting office and even a brothel. The Malmaison in Oxford is no different from this. Located in a converted prison in a medieval castle in Oxford’s castle quarter. In 1996 HM Prison Oxford was closed down and sold after being deemed to expensive to modernise and bring up to current prison standards.


Saturday, March 18

Lorรฉal Beauty and the Beast Collection

Inspired by the recently released Disney remake of Beauty and the Beast, Lorรฉal Paris have released a range of lipsticks and nail polishes in limited edition packaging. There are seven lipsticks in the collection with contrasting polishes which each match up to seven of the most popular characters from the film. The collection includes:

Sunday, March 12

Gourmet Break with Jupiter Hotels

Nestled away in 16 acres of landscaped gardens sits the most gorgeous Georgian Manor House - Newbury Elcot Park Hotel*. Situated just outside of Newbury town centre this stunning country retreat boasts 73 bedrooms, a conference centre, a wedding and banqueting suite as well as the Orangery bar and restaurant. The brasserie restaurant prides itself on fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce, served beside a vast selection of fine wines. They focus on Great British favourites and have been awarded their first AA rosette for culinary excellence. 

Monday, March 6

Franco Manca | Southampton

Franco Manca* has a bit of a reputation for making the best pizza this side of the Atlantic and after visiting the newly opened Southampton branch I have to agree. Compared to all the other pizzerias on the market there really is no comparison. With a selection of authentic slow-risen sourdough pizzas and delicious organic wines, an evening at Franco Manca is like an evening spent on the South Coast of Italy.

Monday, January 30

The Real Greek | Southampton

The Watermark is the newest extension to West Quay and sees the introduction of numerous restaurants and cafes whether your looking for a quick bite to eat or casual dining. With the introduction of this leisure district, we have seen the arrival of several new and exciting restaurants one of these being my new favourite: The Real Greek*.

Tuesday, January 24

15 Photos to Inspire a Visit to the Amalfi Coast


Wednesday, January 18

#TKDryJanuary | Southampton

Christmas is a time that we all over indulgence, some more than others, but without fail 90% of us wake up on the 1st January and decide change is definitely needed. We discard all this empty bottles of christmas cheer and sugary goodness and sign up to the nearest gym / fitness class / whatever. Only to break a week later when you partner comes home to find you pigging out with a bottle of wine over Bridget Jones Diary but hey you tried, right?

This year Thaikun (pronounced Ty-coon) are running a competition to support Dry January in association with the Thai Children’s Trust charity. To enter all you need to do is create your own mocktail, upload a picture and the recipe here, and then sit back and cross your fingers. Once Thaikun’s expert mixologists judge all entries on flavour, originality and creativity, a winner will be picked and their creation will be featured nationwide in Thaikun’s menu with £1 of each sale going towards the Thai Children’s Trust. The winner will also be lucky enough to get their hands on the new Thaikun ‘Orange card’ which entitles you to TWO free meals for a year every time you dine at Thaikun. 

To encourage creativity, Thaikun invited myself and some of the other Southampton Bloggers down  to attend a mocktail masterclass with their head mixologist Adam. There was a variety of different juices, purees, syrups and flavours to chose from and with Adam’s help we each created our own fabulous mocktail’s. I named mine ‘Tropical Thaikun’ as it was mixture of Lychee, Mango and Passion Fruit with a lemonade top perfectly refreshing for those hot summer days. Some of the other creations were absolutely divine and one of my absolute favourites was Arran’s ‘Halo’s and Horns’ with a slight hint of chilli to spice things up a little. 

We also got the chance to try out some of the food which was absolutely divine. We tried the Bangkok platter containing grilled chicken satay, Thai prawn toast, prawn and pork dumplings and red curried corn cakes. Everything on the menu is based on Thai street food and boy did they deliver. The unique decor of hand picked bric and brac and thai inspired cocktails all tie together perfectly creating the ultimate destination to transport you far across the Ocean. There are 9 other branches across the UK in Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford, Nottingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen so if you have got one near you I highly recommend you try it out. 

Make sure you get your entires in quick the competition closes on January 20th at 11pm. 

* All photos courtesy of Alice from Annie Writes Beauty.  
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