A Different Side Of London

What springs to mind when you think of London? For me, its the street entertainers at Covent Garden, the hoards of shoppers on Oxford Street, the fountains at Trafalgar Square or maybe Big Ben, Westminster Abbey or the famous London Eye! I don’t think I have ever visited London without hitting one of the typical tourist hot spots, well that was until a lovely Sunday in July. Hayley & I travelled up on the train to Waterloo to meet up with Helen (we were both 2 of Hayley’s bridesmaids in March), for a girls day out.

Lovin’ Hayley’s Beauty Filter!

Waterloo Station had been taken over by the Ghostbusters following the release of the new movie and Hayley was adamant we weren’t going till we had got our shots!

Who You Gonna Call?!

Helen is the queen of planning so I knew we were in safe hands with her guiding us round London and she is bloody good at it too – although she will tell you its all thanks to Google Maps! She got us booked into a beautiful spot for brunch and walked us miles but I can hand on heart say I saw London in a way I never had done before! When we were all discussing what we wanted to do on our day together I straight away put The Sky Garden into the mix and both the girls agreed so that was a definite yes! I couldn’t contain my excitement – but more on that in a different post!

As we left Waterloo we were heading towards London Bridge, past Borough Market which I have heard lots about and got some lovely snaps of Tower Bridge! We did lots of catching up and shared some stories to keep all of us up to date with our goings on!

We were brunching at The Folly which is located about 2 minutes from the Sky Garden near Monument tube station. I had no idea why Monument is called that, so I was suprised when we walked past The Monument – another part of London’s history I had never seen!

Helen has an eye for a good food spot, when we met up in London a couple of years ago we ate in a resturant on The Strand and the foot was insane & The Folly didn’t disappoint either. Throughout our day, I must have said several times it didn’t feel like we were in London and I think its because we were pretty much constantly surrounded by greenery. The Folly had such a relaxed atmosphere and felt like we were on a terrace outside, when in fact we were inside with the typical hustle and bustle of London just outside. We all had the special to eat, which was french toast with bacon and maple glaze (but I didn’t taste much maple), to accompany I had a Iced Green Tea, which was lovely! 
After a re-fuel and more gossiping, we paid the bill and made the short walk to the sky garden and yes ladies & gents, it really is as lovely as you hear – keep an eye out in weeks to come where I will spill the beans in a separate blog post…..however you can feast your eyes on this warm up shoot in preparation for my 2nd Dimples & Daisies shoot in September! 
Yes, I Did This & Yes People Were Watching & No I Didn’t Care!

Our next stop was a church that Hayley had spied on Pinterest, that had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London and has since been restored into a wonder garden and little quiet paradise in busy central London. We spotted it from the top of the Sky Garden and still managed to walk past it (good old google maps haha)! However, when we did spot it, full 10/10 for Hayley as it was just beautiful and for me the noise of busy central London disappeared, it was like we were in a secret part of London that blocked out all the craziness.

It turns out I took over 50 photo’s at St Dunstan In The East, so above is just a small snap shot, if you would like to see more please get in touch as I would be happy to share them with you! 
We had all agreed that Spitalfields Market was the place we wanted to see as well, so we did a bit of a trek (we ended up doing around 6 miles in the end that day) across London to Spitalfields Market of course, I purchased something & for those of you who follow me on Instagram will have already seen my buy!

How lovely are these finds?! I could have probably got something from at least 10 stalls that we looked at, but with limited hands to carry my goods I just got my t-shirt which for £4 was a complete steal and made a vow to come back to get more goodies another day! We started our walk back to Waterloo, heading over Tower Bridge and stopping for a beverage and chat about our favourite reads! 

So that ends our girls trip to London! It was such a beautiful day and I can honestly say I don’t think I felt in London at any point in our trip, there was hardly and hustle and bustle and everything was so relaxed! It was lovely to spend the day with 2 lovely ladies who never fail to put a smile on my face and warm my heart! 
Orange, Yellow & The Bride!
I can’t wait for next time! 
Love
Emma xxx

Secret Holiday

I am due to go on holiday at the end of this week, well I say at the end of this week because as far as I know it could be any time after I finish work on Friday night! My lovely boyfriend Matt has booked us a winter sun holiday and has kindly paid for my ticket as my Birthday & Christmas present, which is such a lovely gesture and I really do appreciate it. However, it is usually me that does all the arranging and booking for the holiday and I was asked recently why I am not excited about going away? Well it’s simple, because I don’t actually feel like I am going on holiday!

I think we are going to Tenerife so I have done some research, but not a lot which is unusual as I normally know what trips we should do or restaurants we should try. I have no idea where we are staying so I can’t check out our hotel online or read reviews on Trip Advisor. Plus Matt is being so cagey about things, like I don’t know what day we are flying or where from & I have no idea how we are getting to and from the airport. I have to hand him my spending money for him to change up (which makes me think I don’t need euro’s) & he has booked all the travel insurance too. So I think the fact that I have had no involvement in the planning is restricting me to be able to get really excited, don’t get me wrong I can’t wait to go away and spend 2 weeks just us in the sun, but I would LOVE to know where we are staying.

Loro Park
Loro Parque Tenerife – Photo Courtesy of Loro Parque

Siam Park Tenerife – Picture Courtesy of First Choice

The other dilemma is what to pack, I know you are all probably saying ‘It’s a sun holiday – pack for the summer!’ That’s really easy to do when you know roughly what you are going to be doing, so in terms of packing it’s hard. I wrote up a list the other day and asked if I needed anything else but he said what I had would be ok but perhaps get a few more bits for the evenings, so that’s ok I can manage that, but then the question comes of Shoes. How many and what kind do I take? I am thinking flip flops/sandals/wedges & trainers, that way it covers all options!

I found these helpful travel tips on Pinterest!

Helpful Tips From Birchbox
Favourite Carry On Advice From Outfit Posts

I think packing would be easier if I didn’t think that I look like a whale, I have indulged over Christmas and having all the sweets still around and lovely cheese & pate it’s so hard not to just have cheese & biscuits for tea every night rather than cooking a “proper” dinner! I am getting back on track with healthy eating, but I know this holiday if it’s all-inclusive will be another indulgent time. So as soon as I am back I am going straight back to Slimming World and will be really going for it, I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into after all in March!

Here are some recipes I want to try all found on Slimming World!

Chilli Garlic Greens
Garlic Mushroom Jackets
Homity Pie
Macaroni Cheese
Tuna & Sweetcorn Fritters

I have never planned a secret holiday before and I don’t think I would be very good at it either, don’t get me wrong I am great at keeping secrets, but I think I would be too excited! I think the closest I have ever come is when we went to New York for Matts 21st, I emailed the hotel in advance and asked if we could be considered for a free room upgrade, booked us tickets to Ice Hockey which he didn’t know about, oh and I booked for us to stay overnight at a hotel near the airport the night before as well. I didn’t really arrange any of it until the month before hand though so I didn’t have to keep it secret for long!

Yey The Rangers Won!

Love This Photo!
Oh Yeah! It Snowed!

That reminds me, its Matt’s birthday whilst we are away & I haven’t got him anything yet and I have no clue what to buy him, maybe I will take us away somewhere in the new year, there are some lovely hotels in the New Forest that we could stay in maybe book for in the spring/summer.

Don’t worry, I will keep you all updated as to where we end up and share all our holiday stories with you!

Lots of Love

Emma xxx

UK Staycation

Whilst writing this I am sat on a train on the way back from a work meeting in Bristol with 2 colleagues and staring out the window at the lovely British countryside thinking about my last blog post & the fact that we potentially wont be going abroad for at least the next 18 months and that we wont be having a holiday. Then it was like one of those light bulb moments you see on cartoons and I realised holidays don’t have to be abroad, why not do a staycation! We could do day’s out or 1 or 2 night city breaks it doesn’t need to be a luxury trip abroad that we have spoilt ourselves with.

So I have gotten to thinking about a couple of places in the UK I would like to go and figured it might tick some of your boxes too!

Edinburgh

The first thing that springs to mind about Edingurgh is the castle, so that has to be top of the list to visit (arrange your trip here http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/). However, I have heard that Edinburgh is really good for Mexican food and as I love Mexican too, somewhere I have to visit is Miro’s Cantina. I don’t normally look for restaurants on Trip Advisor, but we did when we were in Rome and we had the best meals ever at a really good price, so as this is number 1 Mexican in Edinburgh I would definitely give it a try!

Oxford

We have already been to Oxford a couple of times, mainly to go to the outlet at Bicester, but I have always been intrigued about going to Blenheim Palace. I really enjoyed history at school and quite fancy taking a look round and learning more about it, from the pictures it really does look beautiful. Here is the link to the website so you can find out more http://www.blenheimpalace.com/

A month or so ago, a fellow blogger posted a picture on instagram of a prison that had been made into a hotel and the first thing I thought was ‘I would love to stay there!’, so I got straight on google and checked it out. The hotel is called Malmaison Oxford, its based in a converted prison in a medieval castle – how cool is that!!! Prices start from around £160 for Bed & Breakfast for a basic room, why not book yours here https://www.malmaison.com/locations/oxford/

There are hundreds and I mean hundreds of places in the UK to visit why not sound off in the comments below with where you have been and loved or where you would love to go?

Love Emma xxx

Smiles In Scotland

Going on an airplane on my own is something I had always wanted to do but never thought I would, but when a good friend of mine relocated to Scotland I knew there was no way I would take the 9hr drive on my own. So I booked my ticket back in February and we counted down the weeks until my visit! I have to admit being sat an airport on your own, having time to read and relax isn’t actually that bad! Even though I was nervous about the flight it was a complete breeze! Ok it was only 1.5hrs but I think it was a nice flight to ease me in haha! 



When I arrived at Glasgow Airport I was so excited to see Vicky and her little boy Ernie I think I power walked to the exit! Seeing thier smiley faces was lovely and it was great to see them! I didn’t arrive in Scotland until about 2ish in the afternoon, so on the way back to their house in Helensburgh we stopped off at a drive through Costa and decided we would chill out for the rest of the day. Vicky has a gorgeous little pooch named Biscuit and I’m not sure if she was pleased to see me or everyone but she went crazy as we came through the front door! Ernie was the perfect host and promptly showed me where I would be sleeping and I was so touched to see 2 gifts on my bed – like a proper hotel! I was then given a grand tour of their lovely town house and we sat on the sofa and had a good natter in between helping Ernie with his puzzles! Vicky put Ernie to bed and we caught up with things over dinner before heading off to bed.

                               




Friday morning Vicky took Ernie off to nursery for the morning and when she came back I was ready and raring to go! We headed to a local shopping village on Loch Lomond, had a browse round the shops before having a coffee and cake and more gossiping! 




Before we knew it, it was time to pick Ernie up. The 3 of us headed home for some lunch, picked Biscuit up and headed to the shore. We had great fun playing in the playground and exploring the shoreline for jellyfish and pirates hidden treasure! We were even lucky enough to spot a seal! I didn’t realise how beautiful Scotland was and was overwhelmed by the green fields and how stunning peaceful it is. 




Vicky was busy making dinner for Ernie whilst I kept him entertained playing games and with loads of toys! I hadn’t realised what a great cook Vicky was until she announced our dinner was ready chicken teryaki stir fry, made completely from scratch! It was delicious and went down well with the glass of wine! 

Saturday after tasting Ernie’s amazing Pancakes (an Abernethy tradition) we made the decision to become explorers! 



We headed off to Tarbet first, taking in the scenic drive around Loch Lomond. We had a drink and a biscuit and enjoyed watching the boats and Ernie ran off some steam. 



We headed past Arrochar and stopped in a viewing point before hitting Cairndow, we got out and stretched our legs, the views were beautiful and Ernie was positive he saw a dragon hiding in the hills! Vicky said that her Scott and Ernie had never been past that point so we decided to be proper explorers and see where the road took us. We followed the signs to a town that Vicky recognised, but when we got to a pub so we could do a quick toilet break, I checked google maps and realised we were quite far from anywhere, but there was a town opposite called Inverary with a castle so we decided to turn around and head towards Inverary and see what its all about! 



Inverary was such a lovely little village on the seafront, Ernie was besotted by one of the boats on the quay adamant that it was his and he would be the captain! There was a old Town Hall and you could also visit the Jail. Plenty of places to eat and we had lunch in The Green Door which had beautiful views across the water. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to make it into the Castle as the clouds were rolling in and we didn’t want to get back too late. Ernie fell asleep in the car whilst myself and Vicky were amazed by how low the clouds were getting and had again for the 2nd time in my trip, the discussion of how much closer we must be to sky/sun because Scotland is higher up than Hampshire?? 




We decided on the way home that the best thing to accompany our Frozen Cocktails would be Cheese & Biscuits, we stopped off at Waitrose and picked up some goodies. As soon as we got home Ernie had some dinner and was pretty much ready for bed straight away, once the little monster was sound asleep I “helped” (ok so I watched!) Vicky cook us our scrummy steak & chips! We put on pitch perfect, opened up our frozen cocktails and laid out our cheese on the coffee table and after 4 cocktails too much cheese, 1 movie and countless funny YouTube video’s later we decided to call it a night. I’m not sure what happened Saturday night, but I think I turned into a massive softie as I ended up with the cuddly Biscuit laid next to me all night. 

None of us could believe how quickly Sunday came around, we got ready, I packed up my bag and we headed off in the car to Glasgow City Centre. We were planning on being proper tourists for the day & after a quick trip to the Disney Store we went in search of the City Sightseeing Bus. 

 

It didn’t take us long to track it down and we jumped on and headed to the back of the top deck and waited to head off on the almost 2hr bus journey! Ernie really enjoyed seeing all the different things and myself and Vicky got to see all the sites. I didn’t realise what a Gothic city Glasgow is, some of the buildings we saw were stunning. We got to see all the main points and I think my favourite sight we saw was The Doulton Fountain on Glasgow Green, which is the largest terracotta fountain in the world. The houses on the west of the city were beautiful and looked so different to the rest of the city. 




We didn’t get to much shopping, but if I am honest I cant say Glasgow looked like a “shopping” city! We had a lovely lunch at Ed’s Diner and before I knew it we were at the airport and I was waiting to board my flight home!

I had such a lovely long weekend with Vicky & Ernie and cant wait to do it again.



Emma xxx

New Favourite?!

Anyone who knows me is going to read this and think “has she lost her mind?!” BUT I am going to put it out there anyway, I think San Francisco has taken the Number 1 spot as my favourite US City! I know, NYC has always been top choice, but there was something about San Francisco that just made me really relax and enjoy it. It may have been the Pacific Sea air, the relaxed atmosphere or just the kindness of everyone that we met, but it definitely made its way into my heart. So I thought, just like with Vegas, that I would share with you a few things that we got up to!

We stayed at the Chelsea Motor Inn, which is on the corner of Lombard & Fillmore Street. I chose this location mainly because of the price and the fact that when I was looking to book it said there was free parking and we were potentially going to rent a car! Well I am glad I made the choice, the rooms were spacious and we had a great view of the bridge from our room. There have been a lot of reviews on Trip Advisor about the noise from the street, we stayed mid week, but didn’t hear a thing!

Both Matt & I are not always ones for eating at ‘regular’ resturants and like to try out where the locals eat, so on our first day whilst waiting for the Muni (best way to get around town by the way $2.25 for a ticket that lasts 90mins!), a restaurant caught my eye called Pacific Catch and one a bit further down called Noah’s New York Bagel’s, I kept a mental note and the following morning, whilst Matt was still snoozing, I did a bit of research on yelp & trip advisor to see if they were any good and we weren’t disappointed! We had a breakfast bagel in Noah’s one morning and it was a little bit of New York in San Francisco – warmed my heart a little! Now Pacific Catch, that’s a different kettle of fish entirely. We were sat, unsure where to eat, we didn’t want to go back to Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf we wanted to stay local so I reminded Matt about the restaurant I saw earlier that week and decided we would head down there. We arrived at 6.30pm on a Wednesday and it was already booming, the few tables outside were full, the tables inside were almost full, the phone was ringing off the hook! We took a seat at the counter opposite the very open kitchen and had a browse through the menu. Watching the chef’s hard at work just fueled my hunger & trying to work out what they were cooking against the menu was great fun and looking at the food being produced we were expecting to pay A LOT more than we did! We had the Cabo Calamari for starters then for mains I had the Thai Coconut Shrimp and Matt had the 3 Taco Platter, the food was incredible the service was faultless. Just sat at the counter watching the chef’s and all the locals coming in to pick up their take-away’s and having a chatter with all the staff just showed how popular it really is! If nothing else in San Francisco, eat at Pacific Catch at least once! I do have another recommendation…..but I am going to save that for later!

If you fancy a nice walk and to get to see the scenery then head down to The Ferry Building Marketplace ideally on a Tuesday or Thursday, have a mooch round the farmers market first then head inside. Once you have had some free testers and maybe even some ice-cream, go back out side and turn right & start walking towards Pier 39! The views of Coit Tower and looking out at the bay is lovely, we just took our time and enjoyed a nice walk. When you reach Pier 39, its great to have a look round and look in some unique shops maybe have a corn dog or a churro. Don’t forget those cute Sea Lions, they are noisy and a bit smelly, but when you see them all curled up with each other they look so cute!

BUT I think I had the most fun on the day we cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge, the day was lovely and warm and it made the bike ride even easier! We rented our bikes from Blazing Saddles and headed off along the bay, we stopped took plenty of pictures then headed up a hill to make a start on the trek over the Bridge! We stopped a couple of times whilst cycling across to take photo’s, when we hit Vista Point we headed down the hill into the bay then back another GIANT hill. You start to cycle through a really cute seafront neighbourhood into Sausalito, we took a break and when you looked back at the houses set into the hills it reminded me a bit of Devon especially with the sun beaming down on my back. Sausalito is such a cute, quaint little town and reminded me very much of Nashville in Indiana. We had the best ice-cream there at Lapperts – make sure you take a visit and have the Cookie Monster flavour.

There is plenty more that I could share with you, but I think that is enough for now. Feel free to drop me a message if you want any more info or have any questions, I would be more than happy to share with you all!

Love

Emma

xxxx

 

VEGAS BABY!!!

Hello All!

I have managed to cross another something off my list…..VEGAS! we came back a few days ago now, returning back to work and getting into a “normal” routine has been hard work. Vegas is one of the most surreal place I have ever been too, there is just so much to do and so much to see its crazy! I have honestly never been so unhappy to return to the UK, I can well and truly say I have post-holiday blues! So I thought what a better way to get over it than by sharing some of my tips with you all. I am going to start off with Vegas and San Francisco will follow over the next few days!

Shopping

Best place on the strip to shop is Fashion Show Mall, there is everything you want there from Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret to Nordstrom. Although if you don’t fancy walking that far, the shops at Caesars Palace are brilliant and make you feel like you are outside when you are undercover!

If you fancy a bit of discount shopping there are 2 premium outlets close by one North and one South of the strip. North outlet is the larger one with a lot more shops and I managed to come back a bargain from Kate Spade! If you fancy getting a really good bargain, you can pick up a VIP Discount Booklet from the Information kiosk at either local for $10. We did and we definitely saved quite a bit.

Don’t worry, I will be sharing my purchases with you all soon enough!

Food

Best place to eat on the strip in my personal opinion was TAO in The Venetian. The food was superb, service was impeccable and the atmosphere was brilliant. My favourite dish was the Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce it was beautiful, the mix of Coconut and Peanut Sauce was lovely!

The Yummiest Asian Food I have Ever Had!

The Yummiest Asian Food I have Ever Had!

We Had A Great Evening

We Had A Great Evening

I also really enjoyed eating at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar, we love watching Diners, Drive – In’s  & Dives on the TV, so when we heard that he had a restaurant in Vegas we wanted to make sure we went in there. The drinks and food were amazing, I couldn’t eat all of my food but you could tell it was cooked to perfection.

My Yummy Sandwich

My Yummy Sandwich

Matt's Yummy Burger

Matt’s Yummy Burger

Nightlife

Initially when you are looking at how much it costs to get in clubs before you go it’s mad, it’s on average $70-80 per couple just to get in – DON’T pay it! Keep your eyes peeled for people offering the chance to get on the Guest List. We managed to with every club we went into, we saw Scott Disick at 1OAK, a DJ at Light and David Guetta at XS.

XS was just brilliant; we had such a good night as a group as a whole and seeing David Guetta was once in a lifetime! The club was mad, there was several “tables” that you could hire, a room with the DJ’s in AND a pool – which I can honestly say was very warm! Don’t worry, I didn’t go for a swim, just dipped my feet in!

Attractions

There aren’t many typical attractions to talk about with Vegas, but here is just a few things that I think you might fancy doing:

Gondola Ride at The Venetian – the indoor one is a must!

NY NY Rollercoaster – it’s only about 2 minutes long, but is brilliant

The Mirage Volcano – if it’s a bit nippy out, this will definitely warm you up

The Bellagio Fountains – a spectacular show

Cirque Du Soleil – we saw Mystere at Treasure Island and it was brilliant, you just don’t know where to look!

High Roller – the best view of the strip, it’s quite expensive, but I wish we could have done it during the day as well as the evening.

Finally, it’s not on the strip but if you ever get the chance to do Vegas then you have to book a trip to the Grand Canyon. We did a helicopter tour at sunset and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It is simply stunning and so peaceful; it was lovely to share it with my partner, my best friend and her partner.

If you have any questions about Vegas feel free to drop me a comment and I will make sure I get back to you with any suggestions or recommendations!

Love

Emma xxx