Friday, September 22

How to spend 12 hours in Brussels


Brussels is often described as the heart and capital of Europe, housing the European Commission, European Parliament and headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). On our recent trip to Warsaw it actually worked out cheaper to stopover in Brussels for a night on the way home and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't really know what to expect but after spending the day exploring it`s safe to say Brussels is one of the most underrated cities I have visited. The main sites were easy to access and within walking distance of the city centre so it was easy to explore a lot of the city in the short time that we had. Although we were only on a stopover, I wanted to share how we spent 12 hours in the heart of Europe.

10am
The starting point for nearly everyone's trip to Belgium has to be the Grand Place. We headed here for a free walking tour hosted by Sandeman's Europe who offer the best tour by miles where the guides run free tours based on a tips only basis. I find these tours are better because the guides really work for their money and often you'll find they are so passionate about their jobs and the city they live in. Walking tours are also a good way to get your bearings in a new city and tick a lot of places off your list in one go. The tour covers all of the main sighs in the city including the Town Hall, Maison Du Roi, The Stock Exchange, Mannekin Pis and the Royal Palace of Brussels. Starting at the Grand Place we discovered the rich history behind all the different guildhalls which surround the square. Housing the central market until 1959 every single building is beautifully designed and intricately decorated with gold highlights used throughout. Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998, the square truly is a sight to behold. Next up we headed to Belgium's most famous landmark Mannekin Pis. I have to say this is very much a littler mermaid in Copenhagen experience, just be prepared for the crowds of people trying to get a selfie with this little guy. 

Quinten talked us through the history of the city leading us through the winding streets on a journey of discovery. We strolled inside the Galeries Saint Hubert and gawped at some of the finish chocolatiers in the city. The first female chocolatier Mary still has its first store inside this gallery and pretty much opposite you will find Naerst which are up there as one of the best (along with one of the most expensive). An insider tip we picked up was to head to Godiva which you will find dotted all over the city, who still offer the authentic, quality chocolate we were after but for a much more affordable price. we then headed to the Parc de Bruxelles to learn more about the administrative centre of the European Union and a bit of background behind the capital of the EU before heading to the Royal Palace of Brussels for a whistle-stop tour (located at the South side of the park). Finally we headed to the Place Royale to finish off the tour and grab any last minute recommendations on how to spend the rest of the afternoon. 



1pm 
One place on the top of my list to see was the Mont Des Arts garden which happened to be a stones throw away from the Place Royale and offers up some of the most gorgeous views of the city. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Museum of Musical Instruments which showcases a mixture of Art Nouveau and neoclassical design with its striking facade. We wandered around the gardens before stopping to admire the beautiful scenery and have a little break from the sweltering sunshine. 

2pm 
We headed back towards the main square in search of a typical Belgian delicacy…fries! Its safe to say we were pretty shocked to find out despite their name, French fries origins have in fact been traced back to Belgium in the late 1600s. You will find stores all around offering up cone upon cone of these golden delights but we headed to a highly recommended little friterie called Tabour who offer freshly cut fries alongside over 30 different sauces. If you're after something more adventurous than standard ketchup ask for a recommendation from the staff or try the giants sauce (our tour guide Quinten’s recommendation) which did not disappoint!

 

3pm 
More sightseeing but this time on our list were some of the intricate churches in the city. First up we headed to the Cathedral of St Michael to study the intricately designed facade. The national church of Belgium houses royal weddings and funerals and was given Cathedral status in 1962. Next we headed to the vibrant Sainte-Catherine Square to marvel at the church of St Catherine and stop off for a very much needed caffeine hit at Frederic Blondeel. This vibrant area of the city is the perfect spot for people watching all year round and is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. 

5pm 
Our final stop of the day is the famous Atomium which is now firmly part of the Brussels landscape. Originally eradicated in 1958 for the Brussels World Fair, this is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Out of the different levels, five of the spheres are open to the general public and include exhibitions devoted to architecture, design and society. The topmost sphere offers 360° panoramic views of the city alongside a gourmet restaurant which is open late into the evening. Entrance to the Atomium will set you back €12 but its the perfect way to spend an afternoon exploring the different exhibitions and studying this iconic structure.


7pm 
A trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without an authentic Belgian waffle so we headed off in search of Maison Dandoy. A stones throw away from the Grand Place, this waffle house came highly recommended to us as one of the best in the city (alongside the Waffle factory which is firmly on the list for our next visit). You can tell the quality of the waffles from the divine smell that wafts out onto the street as you head towards the store! I can confirm these are the lightest, crispest waffles I have tasted to date and should be top of your list on a visit to the city. 

7.30pm 
We finished our day with a sample of Belgian beer while we reminisced about our time spent in the capital. I surprised myself at how much we managed to cram into the one day and how much I fell in love with the city. Its safe to say we will definitely be returning as there is so much more to see and I am hoping next time we can make it during the flower carpet which looks absolutely breathtaking!

 

What are your Brussels recommendations?
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Sunday, September 17

Blog Sale


Recently I decided to have a massive clear-out of my makeup and skincare after realising that I have way too much stuff! I've popped everything into a blog sale to try and get rid of it all as quickly as possible. A lot of is brand new in boxes and the rest I have either only swatched or barely used. If you need anymore information or pictures then please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Rules.
one // if you would like to purchase any items please email me with the subject as blog sale. 
two // I will then send an invoice via paypal for payment within 24 hours. 
three // following payment, all items will be posted within three working days. 
four // postage (not included in the price) will be Royal Mail 2nd Class. If you would like items sent signed for please state this in the email. I cannot be held liable for any items once posted. 
five // postage and packaging costs will be cost price plus packaging costs. 
six // all items are non-returnable and non-exchangeable.
seven // this blog sale is UK only.
eight // all items have been bought by myself and will be sanitised where possible. 
nine // descriptions are as detailed as possible, please do not hesitate to email me for more details. 


1. Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Bronze Glow RRP £35 // Swatched, £20
2. Clinique Chubby Stick Highlight in 01 Hefty Highlight RRP £19.50 // Swatched, £10
3. Collection Speedy Highlight in 01 Pearl Sheen // Swatched, £1
4. MUR Radiance Highlighter Palette in Radiant Lights // Swatched, £3
5. ABH Riviera Illuminator Powder RRP £28 // Swatched, £20
6. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal RRP £32 // Swatched, £20


1. Gerard Cosmetics Slay All Day Setting Spray in Peach 100ml RRP £13.50 // 5% used, £7
2. Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Gel Mask 50ml // BN £7
3. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask 50ml // BN £7
4. Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Cleansing Milk 200ml // 10% used £3
5. Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Spray 100ml // Used once, £3
6. Discontinued Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Fiend // Swatched £10


1. Barry M Get Up & Glow Palette // Used once, £2.50 
2. INIKA Loose Mineral Blush in Blooming Nude 3g RRP £21 // BN £12
3. Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit // Used once, £2.50
4. MUR Blushing Hearts Tripe Baked Blusher in Bursting With Love // Swatched, £2.50
5. MUR Summer of Love Tripe Baked Bronzer in Hot Summer of Love // Swatched £2.50
6. MUR Blushing Hearts Tripe Baked Blusher in Peachy Keen Heart // Swatched, £2.50
7. MUR Goddess of Love Triple Baked Highlighter in Golden Goddess // Swatched, £2.50
8. Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette in Golden Bronze // Swatched, £3
9. BeautyUK Ultimate Cream Contour Palette // BN £1.50
10. Urban Decay Afterglow Blusher in Bang RRP £21 // Used once, £12 


1. Maybelline Colour 24hr Tattoo in 15 Endless Purple // BN £4
2. Maybelline Colour 24hr Tattoo in 20 Turquoise Forever // BN £4
3. INIKA Mineral Eyeshadow in Gun Metal RRP £16 // BN £8 
4. MUA Pretty Edgy Eyeshadow Palette // BN £2
5. Soap & Glory Perfect Ten Limited Edition Palette // Swtched, £9
6. Kiko Long Lasting Stick Shadow in 46, 49 & 45 // Swatched, £2.50
7. Soap & Glory Archery Brow Pencil in Brownie Points // Used twice , £4
8. ABH Brow Wizz in Dark Brown RRP £15.50 // Used twice, £6 
9. Soap & Glory Smoulder Kohl Eyeliner in Superblack // BN £3
10. Illamasqua Look Fantastic Palette RRP £39 // BN £15
11. Sleek The Rockstars Collection Hidden Gems Palette // BN £3.50
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Sunday, September 10

Styling the Broderie Blouse 3 Ways


It's so important to be frugal with fashion where you can especially when the trends are constantly changing. I'm currently trying to reduce my frivolous spending as much as I can so I've started shopping my wardrobe and re-styling pieces I already own to match my current style. Of course I have picked up a couple of new pieces here and there but I am trying to only splurge on timeless pieces which will last through the seasons. If you read my last post then you would have seen that I am starting a series on how I style different pieces in my wardrobe to get more wear out of them and so today I decided to focus on the broderie trend after recently splurging on this gorgeous blouse. 

I first saw this blouse style on Emma's Instagram and I fell in love with it immediately. I find this style a lot more wearable than lace especially with the long sleeves and high collar which means I can wear this right through Summer into Autumn by just adding a layer underneath. Coming in at £40 this was a bit a of splurge but this blouse is so versatile and easy to style, its already become a firm favourite in my current wardrobe. 

I wanted to portray how wearable this top is in the 3 looks that I am featuring today. For the first look I opted for a smart style which is work appropriate but can then be worn into the evening. When the weather starts to cool down just throw on a blazer and you`re good to go. For the second look I wanted more of casual look so I paired with a plain pair of denim jeans. Just to give the look a more glam finish I added this stunning pair of wedges and a stylish over the shoulder handbag. For the third and final look I opted for my trusty suede skirt and lace up sandal combo. I am yet to find a blouse that doesn't go with this match made in heaven and I love the overall look. 

 
Look 1:
Blouse - River Island | Trousers & Shoes - Primark | Bag - Shein

 

Look 2:
Blouse - River Island | Jeans - New Look | Shoes - Primark | Bag - Karen Millen

 

Look 3:
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Tuesday, September 5

Hungry in Hungary? What to eat when you're in Budapest

Before visiting the captivating city of Budapest I had researched very little into traditional Hungarian food and had no idea what we could expect from the city. The first time we visited was very hit and miss when it came to meals as we had made absolutely no plans on where to eat and had not looked at any recommendations. We headed to the Great Market Hall where we started to get a real feel for what Hungarian cuisine is all about. Everything from traditional spicy, rich stews to sweet jam filled strudels, you'll find something for the most discerning palette and sweetest tooth. If you`re heading to the city for a long weekend and fancy dining like a local then make sure you don't miss out and try some of these classic Hungarian dishes!


Chicken Paprikash - If there is one thing that Hungarians love its paprika. You won't find a menu that doesn't feature a paprika smothered item and they even have a dedicated souvenir shop in the centre of the city. One of the most famous Hungarian dishes is chicken cooked with lashings of paprika and served with spätzle which is a dumpling style pasta. 

Kolbász (Hungarian Sausage)There are so many different types of Hungarian sausage including cooked, boiled, cured or smoked. They feature in all three meals throughout the day but you'll often find them in stews and soups. If you fancy trying cold cuts then head to the Great Market Hall where if you head upstairs you'll find stores filled with a variety for you to sample. 


Goulash - A rich hearty stew of slow cooked beef, veg and paprika broth, Goulash is another traditional dish you will find all over the city. Look for places that serve this in a giant bread roll with the insides hollowed out and filled with this piping hot stew. Often you'll find this stew is cooked in cauldrons or kettles over open fires as herdsmen would have done many moons ago. This is considered the most authentic way to cook a goulash and many places will only use this method. 


Lagos - The ultimate street food of Budapest you will find Lagos pretty much wherever you go in the city. A deep fried flat dough which is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with very little excess oil. Traditionally lagos is served with sour cream and cheese but you can chose from a wide range of toppings including savoury and sweet. I of course opted for nutella during our pre Buda tour and was not disappointed!


Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács) - Long strips of sugary dough are wrapped around a cone shaped spit and roasted over charcoals. They are brushed with butter which caramelises to form a shiny, crispy crust. Once cooked the spit is removed and steam is released from the centre of the cone like a chimney. You'll find these on every corner during the colder months and the warm, buttery dough will certainly do the trick at warming your cold bones. Opt to try a simple coating of cinnamon or ground walnuts. 


Hungarian Cake - The coffee shops in Budapest form part of the history and if you look hard enough you'll find some intricately decorated delights scattered throughout the city serving sweet treats. A must try is the Dobos torte featuring layers of chocolate buttercream between thin sponge cake topped with glossy caramel. Alternatively opt for the traditional Hungarian Jewish cake Flodni which you will struggle to find outside of the Jewish quarter. 


Rose Gelato - At the corner of St Stephen's Basilica you'll find Gelato Rosa serving up authentic Italian gelato in these delightful rose shapes.There is nearly always a line but they work quickly and as you move along the counter you can watch as they make each edible masterpiece. All the ice cream sold is made on the premises using traditional Italian techniques and they serve a range of flavours including lavender white chocolate, basil lemon, pistachio and variety of sorbets. 
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Tuesday, August 22

My Current Reading List - Volume 1


At the beginning of the year I set myself 17 goals - one of these being to read for half an hour everyday. Reading is one of my favourite hobbies although it's definitely one that I don't make enough time for. Although I haven't managed to read every single day, I've definitely fallen back in love with snuggling down on the sofa for the night with a good book. I recently just finished Girl on the Train which reignited my love for reading. I picked it up late one Friday night and within 2 days I had read cover to cover. This psychological thriller will have you on your edge of your seat. I couldn't have been more wrong with the theories I came up with and I loved all the twists that unfolded especially towards the end. This gripping tale is a must read for everyone. 

One of my favourite monthly rituals is to spend an hour or two snooping the shelves of the local Oxfam bookstore searching for my next novel. I always donate back what I am finished reading whilst picking up some more titles that take my fancy. What I especially love is that you can shop online if you`re after a particular title that they don't have in store. Now that I have fallen back in love with reading I thought I would share with you what's on my current reading list. 

Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews - I actually read the first book in the Dollanganger series years ago but I never got around to finishing the rest of the series. Recently I picked up Flowers in the Attic and Petals in the Wind to give them another go. This dark, gothic novel is not for the faint hearted and its scary to think this is based on a true story. 

Stasiland by Anna Funder - On our most recent trip to Berlin we visited the former Stasi prison the Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen memorial. This memorial is my top recommendation for the city, with guided tours taking you around the deserted prison and its grounds. It is a chilling reminder of the fate of the countless people who fell victim here to the Stasi - Communist East Germany`s sinister secret police. Anna Funder tells the tales of those who lived in the former East Germany with real life accounts from former Stasi officials. Berlin has ignited a thirst for knowledge I've never had before with this novel offering an insight that I am yet to explore. 

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - What girl can rests a good old-fashion love story? Although I am not the biggest fan of your typical chic lit, this is based on a extraordinary love story offering a unique and magical twist on the classic tear-jerking love story. From what I can remember of the film, I am sure this is going to leave me absolutely heartbroken, but the enchanting journey their will be worth it I am sure. 

A Game of Thrones by George R Martin - Game of Thrones is everywhere you look at the moment with Season 7 drawing to a close. We've decided to re-watch from the beginning as Gavin had never seen any of the series before so we are currently only up to the beginning of series 5 (no spoilers please). In the meantime I wanted to start reading the books as I've heard mixed reviews from people that have read them and then watched the series and I am intrigued to see what I am missing out on. 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I remember trawling through twitter one day and I saw someone mention this as the new Gossip Girl. Now let's be real, NOTHING is ever going to compare to the likes of Serena Van Der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf but after reading the blurb I have to say this did take my fancy. A thriller about the dangerous littles lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Described as staggeringly brilliant and now a hit HBO series, I'm expecting big things from this number one bestseller. 

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight - I've always been interested in self help books but I rarely make it past the second chapter. Sarah Knight's anti-self-help self-help approach is right up my street and I picked up this and her first book to give myself a very much needed kick up the bum. When it comes to self-help I need a no sh*t, not sugar coated approach and I think I have found exactly that. 

What's on your current reading list? 
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Thursday, August 10

Vospers Woolston


Known as the cruise capital of the world, Southampton has been booming with new restaurants since the opening of the new extension of Westquay Watermark. The city centre is alive with the hustle and bustle of this new complex. But, theres a new development in the city that is on the rise - Centenary Plaza at the Woolston Waterside. First saw the arrival of the beloved Mettricks which has now opened its fifth location in the City and has come a long way since it first opened in 2013. Vospers* was the next to arrive and saw the introduction of a new venture for the Mettricks family. Offering a simple burger menu inspired by local produce and complimented with a delicious selection of cocktails and craft beers. On a late rainy afternoon, myself and several other bloggers headed down to the waterside to check out the new space and sample the menu and a cocktail masterclass firsthand.






 Offering a streamlined menu of around eight different burgers with a variety of different sides including sweet potato fries, slaw, wings and mac'n'cheese, the burgers are priced at a modest £8 with sides extra. For a decent burger I think this is quite fairly priced. I opted for the 1966 burger which included maple cured bacon, oak smoked cheese, beer soaked onions and smokey bbq ketchup! Burgers are something you'll find in pretty much every restaurant you go to, although this doesn't mean that they will be done well. With a focus on offering a unique dining experience, you can tell how much thought and attention has gone into every single item on the menu. There are two vegetarian options, a buttermilk chicken option and the choice of adding on additional toppings to any burger from the menu. All the beef burgers are served pink which just adds to the flavour but if you prefer yours more on the well done side, all you need do is ask. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the decor - often you find burger joints are based on American diners but this place has a real unique character not dissimilar to its successful brother Mettricks. With a strong nautical theme, the menu and decor are steeped in maritime history. There is a clear attention to detail in every single aspect and I especially love the porthole style window on the bathroom door.  

Our mixologist Roger was on hand to answer any questions we had whilst guiding us through the process and making of three different cocktails. We had a real variety of drinks to sample starting with a gin based cocktail, followed by a rum filled delight and finished with a classic Margarita. These were most definitely not for the faint hearted, packing a punch and a whole load of alcohol. Roger's passion and talent really shone through during the class and his enthusiasm really carried through the entire evening. All in all it was such a lovely evening full of friendly staff, tasty cocktails and even tastier food. If you find yourself in this neck of the woods be sure to check out Vospers and keep an eye out for Mettrick's next venture due to open early August... Submarine! 

As always a big thank you to Alice at SotonBloggers and all the guys at Vospers for inviting me and organising such a wonderful evening! 
Complimentary meal with no obligation to review. No affiliation with Vospers. All opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, August 8

How I Style The Embroidery Shirt Two Ways


Finding your own personal style can be quite daunting and it can be years before you realise what works for you, what suits your body type and most importantly what you feel confident in! I've always been a lover of fashion, although my personal style is something I'm still working on and developing. In a world of consumerism we are surrounded by influences and bloggers who are constantly showcasing their latest hauls and what they are loving at the moment but in reality how many of these items actually get worn? I have bags of unworn clothes which I look at now and it sickens me to think how much money I've spent on fast fashion which has never seen the light of day.

Now I have to be a lot more conscious of my outgoings and a lot more selective with what I splurge my money on. I tend to only invest in wardrobe staples that will last season after season and I focus on pieces which I can style several different ways. It's all about making the most of what you already have rather than splurging hundreds of pounds on different outfits every single month. If you are looking to splurge then hit the high-street and check out what they have to offer as most of the time you can find some insane designer dupes for a fraction of the price. 


 

When it comes to fast fashion Primark is my absolute go to. They nail it on the head season after season and this year especially they have been absolutely smashing it out the park. My local store relocated to the high street late last year and the new branch is bigger, better and bursting with their latest drops. I find myself browsing the store at least once a week for inspiration and ideas on how I can incorporate the latest trends into my own wardrobe without spending a small fortune. With this in mind I've decided to start a series of posts on how I style different trends and pieces in several ways to get more wear out of my current wardrobe. 


 

The first piece I am going to style is a simple white embroidered shirt which I picked up from Primark for about £12. This did actually come with sleeves which I removed as I wanted more of a distressed finish. The first style is a more casual, daytime look. I paired it with a simple pair of jeans and espadrilles and tied the shirt in a knot around the waist. My favourite thing about this look is it can be dressed up with a pair of heels to take you from day to evening. For the second look I wanted something smarter and more work appropriate. A lot of offices don't let you wear jeans so I paired the shirt with a smart pair of bootcut trousers and a monochrome pair of heels to finish the look. You could even style with a belt around the waist and a knee high pair of boots which I would've loved to have done but unfortunately being 5ft 9 this wasn't really an option for me! Considering how affordable this shirt is and how easy it is to style I've definitely got my money's worth!

Look 1:
Shirt, Bag, Trousers & Jacket - Primark
Shoes & Sunglasses - Missguided

Look 2:
Shirt & Espadrilles - Primark
Jeans - New Look
Bag - SheIn 
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