Thursday, 25 February 2016

My Weekend at The Oast House - National Trust

Last weekend I took the train to Herefordshire to spend the weekend with friends in the beautiful National Trust Oast House to celebrate Sarah's birthday. It's an eighteenth century house on the Brockhampton estate. It had plenty of character and a dresser full of cake and crisps so I was in heaven. Life has been pretty non stop recently due to buying a house and I couldn't wait to escape the city and kick back and 'just be' with some of my best friends. 

The weekend mainly consisted of eating cake, drinking wine, watching Sophie do some weird and wonderful charades and watching chick flicks. We did take a break from relaxing in the house to explore the Brockhampton estate. In the middle of the 1,700 acre site is the charming Lower Brockhampton manor house which is surrounded by a moat and it dates back to the late 14th century. It was a bit chilly so we didn't explore the woodlands in the area and headed back to the Oast house for more tea and cake because you can never have enough tea and cake. 

Why am I still blogging after five years? That would be because I get to spend my time with some of the best people on the planet that I met through blogging. Thank you to SarahMariaKatyRosieSophie, Char, Esther and Lucy for a marvellous weekend!

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Gourmet Burger Kitchen - Cardiff

Martyn and I have eaten our fair share of burgers since we met. We often opt for a burger when eating out, whether that's grabbing a quick bite to eat or having a date night and have tried pretty much all of the burger offerings in Cardiff at some point.

I've eaten at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Birmingham a few times previously but I was looking forward to going back and seeing what they offer now, especially since so many big burger chains have opened in Cardiff recently like Shake Shack and Five Guys. How would GBK stack up against its competitors?  

Before I delve in to what I thought about my food I'll share the history of the company. Back in 2001, three Kiwi guys set up the first Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Battersea, South London. Now with over 60 restaurants across the UK, GBK still pride themselves on serving up a variety of handcrafted burgers, combining 100% prime beef, hand selected and traditionally reared on independent farms across the South West counties with the freshest ingredients and sauces made from scratch, every day, in each GBK kitchen. 

When it came to order Martyn opted for the Old Colonial which is the current 'special'. It is a 30 day dry-aged steak burger with Red Leicester cheese, crispy bacon, pickles, Bangkok slaw and beef ketchup. Martyn said this was right up there with his all time favourite burgers and he would definitely chose this again. Our waitress told us that the burger had proved so popular it is going to be added to the permanent menu when it gets its next seasonal change. The burger was perfectly cooked, (medium), just how Martyn likes it. 

I opted for the Bacon Pesterella which is a grilled chicken breast, crispy bacon, mozzarella, rocket pesto, relish, green goddess sauce and salad. This was a great antidote to the smaller patty style burgers I've had from other burger restaurants in Cardiff recently and chicken made a lovely change from beef. I could also convince myself that a grilled chicken burger was a slightly healthier option than some of the others on offer... 

Both Martyn and I were stuffed after our burgers and couldn't finish our fries but I made sure I tried some of the perfectly crisp cheese and truffle chips. The garlic mayo dip was freshly prepared on site that day and was a hit with both myself and Martyn. GBK offer lunch time menu with slightly smaller portions which I would definitely opt for next time if I visited early in the day. I have yes bigger than my belly!

Gourmet Burger Kitchen does retain a casual, takeaway vibe and you pay at the counter when you order as you would at any fast food joint but the seating and atmosphere gives it more of a restaurant feel. You aren't surrounded by groups of teenagers throwing fries and they were playing some Northern Soul songs when we arrived so I felt at home.

I had a lovely time at GBK Cardiff Library with Martyn and I'm sure I'll return in the near future. 

GBK Cardiff Library
Open Monday - Thursday11:00 - 22:00
Friday - Saturday11:00 - 23:00
Sunday11:00 - 22:00
02920 668 379

*This post was written in collaboration with St David's. The meal was provided for review purposes but all views are my own as always. 

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Friday, 12 February 2016

Love Yourself

Whether you're single, in a relationship or even if 'it's complicated', loving yourself is the most important thing you can do this Valentine's Day (and all year round).

Quote - Carrie Bradshaw

I sometimes forget to love myself so I'll be using this Sunday to take some time to just be me. Even if you have a romantic date planned you can make just as much time for yourself as you are making for your date. I'm going away with some of my friends this weekend and I'm taking a bath bomb and a good book and making sure I unwind.

I can be guilty of giving all of my love to my partner and family and deny myself time to develop my own happiness and focus on what I want to achieve in my life. I think some women, especially ones with a family to look after can feel like taking a little time to focus on themselves is selfish but it really is important to not lose a sense of yourself and who you are.

In the past my low self esteem has meant that I felt unwanted and I long for attention and affection from my partner to plug the gap where my self acceptance and love should be. I'm pledging to take time to put myself first. I need to allocate more time to reading, listening to my records, practicing mindfulness and seeing my friends who I've become a bit of a stranger to since meeting my partner.

If I love myself I can be happier and have a stronger relationship. Loving yourself in a genuine way makes it easy for others to love you.

There's room for two under this throw but I'll be wrapping up in it alone and savouring my rich and creamy sea salt chocolate and cup of Yorkshire tea.

You can't have a pampering session without a candle and I'm going to be lighting my Blissful Boost one whilst listening to The Maccabees. This one has hints of lemongrass and ginger.

You deserve love.

Do you take time out to treat yourself? Can you recommend any books to help with the tricky topic of loving yourself and becoming a happier individual? 

*This post was written in collaboration with White Stuff as part of their Love Yourself with White Stuff campaign. As always, all words and thought are my own.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Valentine’s – what counts, the thought or the price tag?‏

I've never really been one for celebrating Valentines Day, I spent the day with Sarah last year and will be doing the same again this year (sorry Martyn). I don't need a designated day to show my love for someone but I did enjoy getting into the spirit of things by making my home nice and cosy ready for a night in with a good movie, a slice of cake and my loved one this weekend. 

You don't need to spend a fortune to get something lovely and thoughtful for your partner or create a special night in. Two dine in for £10, get cosy under a blanket in your PJs ready to watch your favourite movie and voilĂ , you're sorted. Well that's what I did anyway...

Julien MacDonald PJs

love heart fairy lights

My PJs and pretty lantern were both from Matalan who have created a Valentines Gift Guide with plenty of budget ideas. The sponge recipe is super simple and can be found here, I just added some jam and coconut because it is much easier then trying to ice a cake. I didn't want to be getting worked up about piping icing when I was supposed to be having a relaxing evening in.

picture of a red jam sponge cake

Why not gift something or plan something a little bit different this year? I would say go on a picnic but Storm Imogen is approaching the UK and a picnic would be a total wash out but why not try one of the following: go to a gig, plan a road trip, create a scrapbook filled with special moment or just take some time out from a busy working week to be alone with someone you love for  few hours with no distractions(turn your phone off!)?

I hope you all enjoy February 14th no matter what your plans are, single, married or totally against the whole thing. 


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