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Beautiful Gardens, Hot Doughnuts & Harry Ramsden's

30 Jul 2014
My mum, sister and I have a tradition of visiting the coastal city of Bournemouth every Summer. We always seem to be very lucky with the weather, and this time was no different; 25 degrees is very hot for England, trust me.

The thing we love most about Bournemouth is the beautiful beach lined with colourful beach huts, which appears to be never-ending, but also the beautiful Gardens. In the scorching hot sunshine, I genuinely felt like I was abroad, which kind of makes up for the fact that I'm not really having a proper holiday this year. 

Our first day was filled with walks through the Lower Gardens, drinks at the hotel, yummy food (Harry Ramsden you are a God), and an unnerving fairground ride. As usual, I've split my stay into a few parts so I don't overload you all with photos!

The minute we arrived at our wonderful hotel (Days Hotel, by the way), we ordered some refreshing drinks and sat outside on the balcony overlooking the seafront. I swear all I ever want to do in hot weather is sit outside with a drink and snacks! I feel like living in the South of France is going to empty my bank account very rapidly...

We found this little greenhouse sat directly outside our hotel, and found out that it was used for weddings! It's really beautiful to look at, although it was right next to a main road so I'm not sure how I'd feel about a wedding there...

We also went for a wonder around the Lower Gardens, which although very busy were also incredibly beautiful. Don't you just love it when you find a gem like this right next to boring streets of shops?

On our first day we only briefly walked through the gardens, so stay tuned for next weeks post for more pictures of the gardens and for our Hot Air Balloon ride experience! Which is actually a balloon attached to the ground that only flies up for about ten minutes, but still. It was fun.

Next top, the famous Harry Ramsden's.

When Mum first suggested Harry Ramsden's, I immediately said no, because the last time we went (years and years ago), I'm pretty sure it was a solely seafood restaurant. Now I am really hoping that my tastebuds will develop as I get older, and that I'll learn to love seafood, but for the moment battered cod and fish fingers is as far as I will go. I was very, very pleasantly surprised therefore when I read the menu, which now features an incredible variety of classic Fish & Chip shop foods. I'm talking sausages, burgers, chicken, pies, fish & chips and even salads. The whole decor of the place also impressed me a lot, but I barely have any pictures so I guess you'll just have to visit for yourself!

Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures of the food (because I was too busy stuffing my face), but I will say that their fish and chips is the best I've ever tasted. I'm sure that's no suprise to those who have visited Harry Ramsden's before, but even the 'Crumbed Chicken in a basket' pictured above was ultra yummy. They have a great knack for taking simple dishes and making them ever so slightly more gourmet.

This is called 'The WaveSwinger', it's situated by the pier and it made me feel quite sick. I'm a big fan of rollercoasters and all that, but fairground rides kind of just make me feel nauseous. Is that just me? I guess I just feel safer at theme parks! It was quite amusing though!

I'll leave you all with a picture of these TO DIE FOR hot doughnuts. I actually had two whilst Mum and Tash had one each, because they know how much hot doughnuts mean to me. They were everything one can hope for in a doughnut; soft, hot, sugary, and just downright delicious. Does anyone else have an obsession with these? I have to get them every time I'm in a seaside town, which thankfully for my stomach isn't that much!

Are there any places in the UK that you visit regularly?
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Banana Split Cupcakes

28 Jul 2014

If someone were to ask me what my favourite minimum hassle dessert to make was then it would probably be a banana split. I literally just heat up some chocolate, and pour it over some vanilla ice cream, chopped banana, glacé cherry and hundreds and thousands. So I found myself thinking, what if I were to make my own Banana Split style cupcakes? I didn't really have a clear direction for them from the beginning, nor was I really sure whether they'd turn out nice enough, but they turned out pretty darn tasty. Maybe so much experience in making the dessert version paid off!

I think these would also be the perfect little cupcakes to make with children, because they're fun, easy and colourful!

You will need:
Your favourite vanilla cupcake mix, I used:
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self-raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 mashed bananas

For the filling (optional):
12 teaspoons of chocolate spread (I used Nutella, of course.)

For the topping:
12 Glacé cherries
Hundreds and Thousands
1 fresh banana, or 12 dried banana pieces
280ml double cream or vanilla frosting

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees

Step 2: Cream your butter and sugar together. Beat in your eggs and vanilla extract. Once combined, fold in the flour. Finally, stir in your mashed bananas.

Step 3: Fill 12 cupcake cases one third full on a baking tray. Place a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre of each, and cover with the rest of the mixture.

Step 4: Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking that they are golden brown.

Step 5: Whip the double cream, and spoon into a piping bag. Pipe onto your cakes (make sure they have cooled completely first). Sprinkle some hundreds and thousands over, then add the cherry and banana.

How easy was that?

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The Summer Tag

25 Jul 2014

Hey guys!
I've finally had a few days to write up some blogposts after a few weeks of 'hiatus', shall we say. Turns out that working 9-5.30 interning in Leeds really drained my energy and meant that I was putting all my focus into that as opposed to other things. If anyone is interested in hearing how it went though, then I will say that I had a great time, met some lovely people, got some great experience and am pretty positive that Marketing is what I want to do in the future. The downside was that it was unpaid, so I think next Summer I will be on the lookout for something similar, but where I can earn some money! 

Anyway, Lydia kindly tagged me in this Summer Tag, which I haven't seen before! It looked fun though, and I love answering questions (particularly about Summer), so here it is:
1. What’s your favourite thing about summer?
Sunshine makes everything beautiful, or at least even more beautiful than it was before. So when the Summer brings the sun that's what I love the most, and the fact that you can sit outside on the grass and have picnics, go for walks, go swimming, go to the beach, etc! I also just love how happy it (usually) makes people.
2. Do you have a favourite summer drink?
Whenever I'm on holiday I order lemonade; you know the refreshing still lemonade that you only get perfection of abroad? My favourite alcoholic summer drink would be a Strawberry Daquiri, or a glass of Pimms. I don't even like Pimms that much but it's such a classic summer drink!
3. Is there a location you like to go to each summer?
Italy. Or anywhere with a beautiful blue lake.
4. Favourite make-up look for summer?
Well, practical me looks at this question and says: 'but surely the summer means scorching heat and swimming, which hardly bodes well with make-up?', and this is applicable to me in the daytime, but in the evening I guess I like a natural looking bronzer on my cheeks, and maybe a subtle brown/bronze smokey eye.
5. Dresses or skirts?
I'm really loving playsuits at the moment, but if I had to go for either dresses or skirts then I'd have to say dresses. They're just so pretty and comfy and you don't have to go through all the hassle of finding a top to wear!
6. Sandals or ballet pumps?
Sandals definitely. I say this mainly because my feet seem to have a huge issue with pumps and they rub horribly whenever I wear them for some time. I also love having toes showing because it's the one time of year when you can paint your toenails and people might actually see them!
7. Do you prefer to wear your hair up or down for summer?
In general I'm a hair down kinda gal. It's pretty long and thick though so if it's really, really hot weather I usually tie it up.
8. Deep smoky eyes or bold lips?
In Summer? No no. As I've said above, make-up paired with scorching heat is a no go for me. If I was to choose between the two then I'd always go for smokey eyes though, because the idea of bold lipstick possibly getting on my teeth makes me so, so nervous!
9. Favourite perfume for summer?
I'm not really a perfume person, mainly because I never remember to put it on but also because I hate the idea of spraying too much and being the awkward lovely but also annoyingly strong smelling person. As always I'm using my BodyShop Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Mist which is a lot lighter than a perfume, and perfect for Summer!
10. Last but not least, favourite music for summer?
Anything upbeat and happy, because Summer is a happy time and I want music to match it! Haha, but seriously I actually really love listening to chart music around this time because it makes me feel like I want to go out and enjoy the weather. I also have a 'chilled' playlist for sunbathing in the garden and (possibly) getting a bit of shut eye; it features artists like Ben Howard, Roo Panes etc.
I tag TashianaFlick and Beth if you fancy giving this a go, if not then I won't be offended!

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Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds

23 Jul 2014
On the agenda this week was a visit to my friend's (beautiful) house for a dinner party in Hampstead, followed by a trip down to the bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath. 

I love dinner parties as I'm sure a lot of people do, and I think everyone who is able to should host/go to them at least once every few weeks. I'd forgotten how much fun they are, and it makes me even more anxious to finish at University and move into my own home! We tucked into a beautiful array of duck and salads, complete with a hilariously large amount of potatoes and a good seven or eight bottles of wine (between nine of us!). Safe to say the wine probably contributed to the overall jolly atmosphere of the night, but it was a lovely, love night in general, and just what's needed after a miserable few days!

The next morning we awoke to the glorious sunshine (thank you to mother nature who has finally decided to provide England with a heck of a lot of good weather), got changed into our swimming gear and headed on down to Hampstead Heath. 

If you want a relaxing, private pool to bathe in then I seriously wouldn't recommend Hampstead! My only criticism was the tiny, tiny amount of space given to lay out your towels while you went for a swim, and the fact that most people sunbathing were directly facing the place where we jumped off into the water - it was slightly off-putting!

We did have a lovely (if slightly brief) swim though, and the water wasn't even that cold!

We spotted this dog on the way back just staring at the ducks! The poor owner was desperately trying to get him back onto land!

It would be amazing to live in one of the houses overlooking this pond.

After my visit I would definitely encourage anyone in the Hampstead area to pop on over to the ponds. I'd imagine the 'Ladies Only' and 'Men Only' ponds might be slightly less cramped and busy, but the Mixed Pond wasn't too bad, and it was probably worth it for such a lovely swim!
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Byron Hamburgers, Leeds

14 Jul 2014
I don't remember being to Byron Burgers ever, and yet I'm as big a fan of Burger joints as most food bloggers. So when I noticed that one had opened up in a prime position in Leeds, I was eager to try it out at some point during my work experience here. 

Luckily, Emily (fellow blogger and even more of a foodie than me), happened to be popping into Leeds around Saturday lunchtime, and was more than happy to join me!

Let me begin by telling you about their courgette fries. Now I'm not a big fan of courgettes on their own, and when Emily suggested sharing some of Byron's famous courgette fries I was pretty sceptical. She managed to win me over eventually by claiming they'd appeal to my love for all things crispy, and I'm so glad she did because they were incredible. I mean seriously incredible. I even felt like I was being slightly healthy eating them, because they're still vegetables even though they've been made into fries, right? If you really hate courgettes then maybe stick to the classic fries, but if you're undecided then these babies are definitely worth a shot.

Although you can't see it very well (I left my camera at home!), this is the delicious 'Classic Burger' that Emily opted for, complete with an extra topping of roasted red peppers. She said it didn't disappoint, as per usual.

As always I couldn't order mine without cheese, so I got Byron's 'Cheese Burger'. Mine also didn't disappoint, and every bite was as delicious as I expected. The only thing I would've loved that I've seen in other burger joints is some fancy relish to go with it. I'm sure you could probably order some, but it's nice to get these things free!

I've also heard great things about their drink selection...

 I love a fancy business card and creating one that's also a playing card is just, well, great.

After a successful visit and a very happy, full stomach, Byron Hamburgers is definitely up there with my favourites, with the added bonus of it not being bad for prices either. The service was also excellent, and our waitress was lovely, so top marks for that as well! I still have so many to try out in London on my next visit when I'm back from Leeds, so any recommendations would be very welcome!

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Pinterest Loves #02

9 Jul 2014
My Pinterest has been severely lacking over the past few weeks. I haven't been on it, I've barely looked on it, and I haven't even added any of my own pictures. In the past few days however, I've been without wifi (once again, but for a different reason this time though), and using 3G to browse through Pinterest on my phone has been one of my saviours.

Here is a little glimpse and some of my favourite Pins recently:
This is so relevant to my Blog, and to my life in general.

Cake = Happiness.

Just imagine having this in your garden. Is it not the most romantic, adorable, enchanting, I could quite literally go on for ever, set up of a cinema possible? Mind you, I think you'd be pretty screwed if you created this in the UK... is it seriously raining in July? 


I still can't decide whether or not I'm into the whole completely white desk space/area trend. I mean yeah, it looks incredibly professional, sleek and just generally cool, but I just don't know how much it would inspire me to work. This one seems ideal - it has the sleek white walls and chair, but I think the wooden desk and  rainbow of books gives it a bit more character.

I feel like my Pinterest Loves will always include some handmade cushions. They're just such an easy(ish) thing to make, and I always find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest, yet I never get round to making them! Maybe this should be one of my Summer Goals?
A Pinterest binge must always include an inspirational quote. This one is short and straight to the point and I think it gives some great advice. Sometimes, it's worth giving things a go even if you won't 'win' and even if you know you won't win, because it's worth the experience, and the learning. As my Mum (the fountain of all wisdom) always says: 'Everything is a learning curve'. 

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An Afternoon Tea at Bill's

6 Jul 2014
My family adores Bill's, the yummy, slightly healthier than usual, restaurant which originated in the little town of Lewes, near to Brighton. We love the atmosphere and we love the delicious lunch and dinner they serve, but we have never actually branched out from those two mealtimes. So after many trips to Bill's in Guildford resulting in my Mum eyeing up the neighbours Afternoon Tea, I decided to treat my Mum for her birthday this year. 

It worked out well for both of us really because I've never had a proper Afternoon Tea, so I was really eager to try it!

We started off with a very large pot of tea, and some tasty finger sandwiches from the bottom tier of the lovely cake stand brought to us.

There was ham and mustard, salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cucumber (my personal favourite.)

On the second tier we had an incredible, indulgent chocolate fudge cake, a healthy granola type treat, a lemon tart with marshmallow topping (yum), and a refreshing strawberry tart. The chocolate fudge cake was definitely my favourite, but the lemon tart was surprisingly delicious as well!

I'm sure I must've had about seven cups of tea from this pot!

To finish it all off, we had a scone with clotted cream and jam each - yum!

Here's a quick look at what you might be surrounded by if you take a trip to Bill's. It's also a Delicatessen, so everywhere you look you see more and more beautifully presented food. They're tasty but also pretty pricey, so we haven't tried out as many products as we'd like to.

Overall I was really happy with the Afternoon Tea served to us at Bill's. There was great service as usual, we were seated in the lovely, slightly outdoors section of the Guildford Branch, and the food and tea was all delicious. It has definitely made me want to try out some more places for Afternoon Tea, particularly hotels as I've heard they often give you a very big selection of cakes!

Have you ever been for Afternoon Tea? If so, then where is your favourite place to go? And do you prefer hotels, or restaurants? I'd love to hear anyone's input in the comments!

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