A British lifestyle blog

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Cocktails At The Botanist

Untitled Untitled If I could move The Botanist closer to where I live, I would. Every time I go, I get reminded why I should go more often, and that can only be a good thing. Quickly growing (there's 13 at the moment across the UK), you could be worried of a chain like effect on the empire, but with its attention to detail branding and homely interior, it's a venue that's got charm around every corner, and cocktails.



Over the past five years I've come to really enjoy alcohol rather than my late teens when its only purpose served was to 'get smashed', or as politely as you can put it. My current poison being a pornstar martini which tastes as good as it sounds, and if you've never had one, I recommend you try one next time you're out on the town.

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We nipped down to check out their latest updates to the cocktail menu - yep, I know, life's tough. Their Manchester branch is on the Deansgate stretch and is the perfect spot on a warm day to watch the city go by sipping a tipple, or three. First up we gave the Poppy and Pomegranate Martini a go. I'm a sucker for presentation with a pretty purple flower floating, it's a light and fruity option to start your night off. Next up was the Velvet Green Martini. I'll be honest, hearing any drink with egg whites in does sometimes send alarm bells ringing and with a rich green colour, it's not one I'd ever look at and think 'yep, that's the one for me' but appearances, like most instances in life, can be deceiving. It was deliciously refreshing and once the egg picture was out of my head, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable drink for a hot summer's day.

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The final one, after some nibbles of course, was served in a 'so on brand it hurts' terracotta plant pot. I said The Botanist did branding well, didn't I? And is named the Raspberry Disaronno Sour. I'm a big amaretto fan so it's no surprise that this one was my favourite, even if it was the strongest of all three for me. And yes it has that cool cold ice effect when it's poured, so you get that perfect Boomerang every time.



If cocktails are your thing then check these guys out - all I've got to do is convince them to open one in Ancoats...



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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Unwinding 101

Untitled Unwinding - seems simple but in a world full of juggling your job, partner, friends, family and ‘me time’, it can be harder than it sounds. Add that to living our lives on social media and switching off can be almost impossible. So in honour of my first day off everything this year, I’m doing just that, so here are my top tips and tricks to switching on that off button.



Write

Ok, ok, so not everyone’s down with the written word or putting themselves out there, but jotting down ideas, thoughts or simply what’s on your mind can unleash a whole lotta stress. And writing when something’s on your mind is the best kind, it comes from a genuine place and I know I do my best writing when something’s bothering me. One of my favourite blog posts came to me on a train back from London and I wrote it up in ten minutes on my phone.


Head to the country

Maybe I’m biased because I grew up surrounded by hills but heading somewhere green where the only noise is the odd bird can work wonders for your mind and soul. And you’re never too far away from those spots.


Go solo

Sometimes you just gotta cut ties with everyone and go somewhere solo. I prefer flying alone if I’m honest and just recharging your own batteries will clear your mind. That might mean a 10k run somewhere scenic, going for breakfast or heck, travelling abroad. Being around people is great but being okay alone is important too.


Read

If you’re stressed where you are, escape to some place new in a book. But not just any book, browse those shelves for hours finding the one that you won’t wanna put down.


Make those calls

If I’m ever feeling down or stressed, hearing the voice of someone I love turns my day the right way. Even if nothing’s new between you and them, a random and what seems like pointless call can be just what you’re craving.


Treat yourself to a massage

Research where you go beforehand and tailor your massage to your needs. Like most people, I carry tension in my upper body so having an hour of literally releasing those knots sends me to a good place and even to sleep sometimes…


Find your jam

Downtime music is always a good option. Make a playlist and blast it out when you most need it. I’m loving Tom Walker’s voice at the moment and Kodaline always get me.


Lie in

Sleep wins in most situations so if you can, don’t set an alarm, get some blackout blinds and a ‘never wanna leave’ duvet.


Switch it off

Technology is both a blessing and a curse but when it comes to unwinding, switch it off or at least on ‘do not disturb’ until you’re ready to face the world again. Same goes for your TV, avoid having one in your bedroom and use that space for resting and well, other things.


And just breathe

Sounds straightforward but focusing on your breathing can be the cheapest and easiest way to chill out.


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Friday, 2 June 2017

Farewell Jack Hale

Yep, it's that time again - another goodbye video. 10/10 for Laura's acting skills - I feel YouTube is calling...
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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

"Like, Realising Stuff"

Untitled When I was 8 years old I wanted to marry this boy in my village. When I was 12, I wanted to be a backing dancer for Britney Spears. And when I went off to university I wanted to land a high flying magazine job in London the minute I got that degree.



I didn't marry the boy, and I unlike the millions of girls out there, don't really want to get married full stop. Britney Spears never came knocking on my door to audition and I've been working in Manchester for 5 years. I can tell I really banged on about the London dream, as to this day my friends and family question when I'm going to go get it.



Through the make ups and the break ups and the good and bad times life throws at us, what I have learnt to long for is less. Don't get me wrong, if Jo Elvin were to offer me my dream job tomorrow, I'd snatch her hand off, but you get to a certain point in your life when you're content, when you've found that balance and that you couldn't imagine looking elsewhere or longing for anything else.



The older I get, the more I feel life is flying by. Some friends I only see twice a year through busy schedules, work, families and partners but that's also the beauty of life, being able to pick up where you left off but always being there, if not physically but mentally. Whilst I love my life, at the start of this year I reevaluated where I was placing my time. My working day is long, my blog was ticking over nicely, social media scheduled and my social calendar bursting. Yet my relationships dwindled and as soppy as it sounds, what's your life if you're not sharing it with someone or interacting with others? I love blogging and social media but I love my real life more - which sounds ridiculous and this isn't me waving goodbye to the way of life I've known for 5 years but just me, as this post and the internet phrase goes: "like realising stuff."



They say you make time for the people you want in your life and I'm sure exactly who 'they' are but they're right.


You can never get time back so make the most of it. Spend it the right way with just how you want to spend it. My close friend repeatedly hinted at me that I'm always "so busy" and that "we never see you." I think that also made me, like, realise stuff. I won't lie, I'm still pretty bad at texting back but some things don't change.



Some of the best times of your life will be doing the most mundane things. Like lying in bed the morning after laughing at the memories you made last night or just walking in silence with someone you're comfortable doing that with.

Cut out the material, the want for more, the bad people that you no longer need that perhaps are weighing you down or any situation that adds a cloud to your life.




A friend of mine came up to me the other day afraid to text this guy she liked because she was told to "never double text." Life's too short for sh** like that. Send a million texts, well not quite, otherwise you WILL run out of time but you get where I'm going with this. Don't waste time playing it cool or even if your job if it doesn't make you excited anymore, don't waste time staying. Don't do what others do or what you've been told you should do. Listen to your gut and always always, follow your heart instead of your head. Mistakes shape us, lessons make us wiser and you'll realise stuff. You only get one life and you owe it to yourself to live it to the fullest. If you're not laughing out loud everyday - change something. Anyone who makes me laugh is in my circle of trust immediately.



Do things that scare you, push yourself, love, laugh and live every moment. Never stop growing and declutter your life of anything that hinders your path. Choose quality over quantity and go out and make memories. So if you see my posts dropping, that's why. I never want to put a post on here I'm not proud or happy with and right now, my mind's in other places. I'm fixing my offline life for a bit and I'm realising stuff.



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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Hey It's Okay...To Fall Out Of Love With Life

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I love life. Many don't believe me when I say it, but I think of it like an engagement ring, not everyone will like yours or want it for themselves but as long as you like it, as long as you want to wake up every damn morning because you just can't wait to see what the day has in store for you - to hell with everyone else.



Whilst I'm a lover of life, I like to think I've got my head on my shoulders too and I don't always walk around with rose tinted sunglasses on (although I recommend you wear yours often as often as possible). Because life is a rollercoaster as Ronan Keating once famously sang - "you just gotta ride it." But at the same time, hey it's okay...to fall out of love with life.



You can fall out of love with absolutely everything and anything at any one time. A few years ago I was pleather obsessed and loved wearing my hair in the biggest beehive you've ever seen. I've fallen out of love with that now and that's just my life evolving. It can be something as small as that or it can be more of a life changing turning point. Maybe you've spent your entire life working towards what you thought you once wanted but you've been coasting along with an OK life but what's not OK is settling with your life if you're not absolutely in love with it.



Perhaps the career you've trained for and having been doing since day one doesn't light up your life anymore. That's completely fine. So do something about it. Maybe you're like me and have always had a list of things you want to do. I love photography, videography, interior design and writing so I hope that if I ever do fall out of love with what I do, I'll have a plan B.



You'll fall out of love with where you're living, with certain foods and even your partner. Look for the signs because guess what, it's time to make a change. What does your heart want? Shut off that head for a second. Maybe you've been living in the city for a few years but deep down you're yearning for village pubs, a garden for your dog and rolling hills. Perhaps you always thought you wanted to be a lawyer but animals are everything to you. If so, go do.



Falling out of love ain't bad. OK, romantically speaking it's like having your heart ripped out, but it's life's way of giving you a second, third or fourth chance to live your life to the absolute fullest. Don't ignore it, because that's slapping life in the face. Follow your heart and sometimes that's not where you ever thought it would take you, but maybe that's exactly where you need to be.



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Monday, 15 May 2017

Why It's Not All About 'The One'

Untitled When Britney Spears took part in James Corden’s carpool karaoke a few months ago, something struck me. She mentioned how she didn’t believe in happy ever after or marriage. It’s a sad statement but also one in this day and age, away from the Disney fantasy of meeting your prince, that’s relatable.



When I was growing up, my first memory of what I thought love was when I was around 7 or 8. I’d weirdly got my parents to buy me a kids wedding dress complete with veil because I wanted to marry a boy in my village. It didn’t happen. Heartbreaking. But since then and up until present day, I’ve fallen for a handful of people. Some could see it as sad that none of those were ‘the one’ but I don’t. I feel so blinking lucky to have felt something for so many people. It’s a rush, it’s exciting, it’s fun and your heart grows by each and every experience. Forget shoulda woulda couldas, if it was meant to work out, it would have done, or you would have fought harder to keep it.



Society builds up 'the one' to a pedestal level. Tie that in with #boydidgood and so many uses of the word ‘bae’ and it can send you under. Be with ‘bae’ for the right reasons, like he remembers just how you like your tea or leaves cute notes on your pillow. Not because you’re so set on finding the one, you’re not complete without it.



It’s the same concept as your ‘best day ever.’ Hopefully by a certain age, you won’t have just the one. I know I don’t. I could go on and on and on about the best days of my life so far. And I hope they never stop. I hope I’ll never get to a point where it is just one day, but a catalogue of magical 24 hours. As for love, don’t limit yourself to ‘the one’ or the idea of it. If you’ve found it, great. If you’re looking for it, great. But not everyone is meant to be with one person for the rest of their life, and the option of that is okay too.



And whilst you’re in between romantic relations, all of the break ups and make ups, remember love isn’t just found in your other half. It’s in the 5am sunrises, the banter at work and cooking your favourite brunch at the weekend. It’s the stories you’ll have ‘to tell the kids’, dancing ’til dawn with your best friends and travelling this beautiful earth. And most importantly, it’s in loving yourself, your own company and falling in love again because you’re ready, and not because you’re lonely.



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Sunday, 14 May 2017

15 Life Quotes To Remember

Untitled I used to be known as a walking quote book, and whilst I've calmed down my words of wisdom updates, they're more than just a pin on Pinterest. Here's 15 to help you through the day to day grind, and get you feeling less 'meh' and more 'hell yeah!'

1. "No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent"

- Eleanor Roosevelt

2. "Home is not where you live but where they understand you"

- Christian Morgenstern

3. "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist"

- Oscar Wilde

4. "Don't settle: Don't finish crappy books. If you don't like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you're not on the right path, get off it"

- Chris Brogan

5. "For what it's worth: It's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over"

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. "It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things"

- Leonardo Da Vinci

6. "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"

- Leonard Cohen

7. "If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives"

- Lemony Snicket

8. "I can't tell you the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone"

- Ed Sheeran

9. "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter"

- E.E Cummings

10. "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough"

- Oprah Winfrey

11. "Until you get comfortable with being alone, you'll never know if you're choosing someone out of love or loneliness"

- Mandy Hale

12. "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity"

- Gilda Radner

13. "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned"

- Buddha

14. "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts"

- Marcus Aurelius

9. "Unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it's a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn't be one of them"



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Monday, 1 May 2017

Review | The English Lounge

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Untitled Untitled Manchester is full of the quirkiest places around, from cool NQ bars to slick Spinningfield vibes, yet every now and then it’s nice to go back to basics, and for me being a country girl, get the feel of an old school pub. Because I never normally stray away from my usual haunts, I didn’t know much about The English Lounge, which for those also not in the know is on the High Street just opposite the Arndale.



The place has had a recent refurb and whilst it’s been updated, it hasn’t lost its character and charm. You’ve got a sweeping wooden bar, all the beers you could crave, cute quotes and plush leather seating. We opted for a seat by the window, and when I say ‘we’, I mean me because the blogger in me took over and we all know natural light is a blogger’s best friend.



You’ve got a few choices when it comes to menus - their set lunch is ridiculously affordable and offers a whole lotta choices. We decided to go for the full menu because anywhere with Baked Camembert as a starter is a win in our eyes. It was a little smaller than what I’m used to so definitely don’t share with a friend or maybe that’s just me being greedy? Scott I blame you for getting me into this dish. The camembert itself was delicious and not overly flavoursome for those not completely into their cheeses.

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As for the main event, I did spend a good ten minutes changing my mind between four or five options, which is always a sign of a good menu. In the end we went for the Peri Peri Chicken which comes with chunky chips and a salad garnish and the Triple Cheese Burger. And yes I sampled both, not all to myself obviously - but I’m one of those people who’ll make a decision in a restaurant and always want what someone else has when it comes to being served.



The chicken as expected was spiced and a perfect portion for lunch - I did struggle with the chips because my child-sized stomach likes to strike every now and then but they were light and fluffy in texture and a whole lotta filling. The burger was huge, and that’s no exaggeration and you can mix and match if you wanna have it with skinny fries or sweet potato. If you’re into your cheeses, definitely go for this - I couldn’t take my eyes of it melting down the burger when it arrived.

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We did um and ah about dessert being so full at this point, but we don’t like to fall at the last hurdle, so we went for the Salted Caramel Fudge Cake which as you can imagine from its name, was just something else. Any menu without a chocolate cake option is a menu lacking in my eyes so this definitely ticked a box.



If you’re after some old school vibes in a chic environment without a hefty bill - it’s one to check out if you’re in the city.



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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Review | Grand Pacific

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For those who follow my Instagram, you’ll know I’ve been pretty much living at Grand Pacific. When I heard Living Ventures was heading up the King Street renovation, I got a little bit excited after seeing some pre-pics. Oozing Manhattan glam and opulent interiors, I thought it’d be too good to be true but luckily, it’s not.



Set at the top of King Street surrounded by the likes of Rosso and Hotel Gotham, the building has light spilling in at every corner with stunning views of the nestling architecture around. You’re greeted by a sweeping staircase that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film or that slow mo part in films where you’re walking down to meet the love of your life. Or simply heading to Grand Pacific.



Dark woods are mixed with marble touches and gold highlights. And we all know the blogger excitement we get anytime marble makes an appearance. Alongside their regular a la carte, on a Sunday they offer a traditional roast to get your teeth stuck into. Some call me a picky eater but one thing I will never turn down is a roast dinner - I’m British, what can I say?

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You can either order as a standalone or as part of their two or three course set menu. On this occasion I went for all three. First up is a Prawn Cocktail starter which shock horror for those who know me, I’d never had before. First things first, this place knows how to do presentation and each dish came out looking like an art installation that wouldn’t look out of place in Tate.



The prawns themselves were lightly spiced and oozed a nice taste of sesame oil. I did have to rope in some help finishing it off so that I could leave room for my main (small stomach girl probs) and they received a thumbs up from both of us. Next up was the main event - the roast, which you have a choice of beef or chicken. The beef gets wheeled out very fancily by the chefs to be served there and then, which I’ll be honest, makes me wish I’d ordered that option but the chicken was just as beautifully presented as course one.

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Sometimes there’s a worry with lavish restaurants with regards portion size but that’s not an issue with their roast. You get your meat and huge Yorkshire pudding on your plate and then an elegant serving silver tray houses every accessory you may need to make it your best roast ever. We’re talking carrots, mashed potato, roast potato, cauliflower and everything else you can see here. Mash is a hit and miss side when you’re dining out so I had my reservations but I frantically lapped it up it was that good.



Admittedly I have the stomach the size of a small child so I did struggle to finish but that's never a bad problem to have. The chicken was deliciously rich and the gravy incredibly moreish. To finish was dessert - which on the set menu was a Sherry Trifle. Yet again another course where you didn't want to disturb its artistic greatness but luckily we have cameras to capture such moments so after a few minutes of pretty pictures, we delved in to a delightfully light and fruity dish. And what was a perfect end to a flavoursome trio of dining.

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In terms of pricing, it's remarkably reasonable for a restaurant so decadent. You'll pay £15.95 for the 1 course, £21.95 for 2 and £24.95 for 3 which by the photos you may be able to tell I think it's worth every penny. We also had a string quartet throughout dinner playing everything from Coldplay to Alicia Keys and we all know I'm a sucker for a cover. From that to the food, the staff to the surroundings, Grand Pacific is a gem nestled in amongst Manchester's most beaut buildings, and one whether you're on date night, wanting to impress the family or going all out on girls night - you should put on your hit list.



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