28 December 2016

2017's Travel Plans - A whole news years worth of holiday allowance!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Mine was just lovely, and I'm currently loving the fact that I don't have to be back at work 'til the New Year. I have nothing to do for days and days but watch Cartoon Network and eat my way through all the Christmas chocolates - bliss!

It's rare I have time off at home, as I usually spend my bookable work holiday days away from home if possible - and now I have a whole new years worth of holiday allowance to use up in 2017!

Sadly, I seem to have allocated a lot of it already, but I do have a few fun things lined up next year:

Just a month into 2017, we're off to Iceland for a few days. It'll be my third visit and I'm so excited, it's one of my favourite places! We are going to forgo some of the biggest attractions this time round - so no Blue Lagoon and no Golden Circle, as we've done them already, and instead try to find some new fun things to do!


For our family Summer holiday, we are heading back off to Scotland. Despite my initial misgivings about Scotland as a holiday destination, we had a wonderful time in 2016 and it was everyone's top choice for 2017. We'll be staying in one of the lovely Sykes Cottages again, but are heading to a different area (an even longer drive!). We promised the little miss that we would definitely visit Loch Ness on this trip so she can go monster hunting! I'm tempted to take a couple of days either side of the booked week to work our way up the country slowly, building in time for a few extra stop offs and break up the driving a little!


I've visited, and loved, a number of big bustling capital cities across Europe - but for some reason London has never really appealed to me. However, I did manage to book a couple of precious tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child later in the year, so will be heading down to the big bad city to get my nerd on. I figured since I have to be in London anyway, I should give it a fair chance to win me over, so I'll stay a couple of days and play tourist!

At some point I'll definitely try to squeeze in a little visit to Bruges. The P&O Ferries Minicruises, if booked at the right time, can be too cheap to say no to - especially when there's all that great chocolate and beer to be had!


Does it see like there's something missing here to you? I've got action and adventure, the great outdoors, cultural city breaks and the best hot chocolate in the world - what I don't have is relaxing in the sun. I think I have just enough allowance left to squeeze in a nice warm sunshine holiday! (Greedy, aren't I?!) I'll admit that until the last couple of years this sort of lying-in-the-sun-not-doing-much sort of holiday didn't appeal much, and maybe it's my age, maybe its because its winter, but not much sounds more appealing at the minute! But where to? I'd love to hear your top holiday destination recommendations!

21 December 2016

#MerryKnitmas

A couple of months ago, my daughter asked if I could teach her how to knit. There's a couple of problems with this, one being that my energetic eight year old has the concentration levels of, well, of an energetic eight year old. The other being that my knitting skills are not what you'd call skills!

I do like a challenge though (and getting 'lil miss to sit still for learning will definitely be a challenge!) - and Fenetic Wellbeing have helped set us on our way with some super new knitting equipment and some great motivation.


As part of their newest campaign #MerryKnitmas, Fenetic Wellbeing are looking at ways of keeping folk warm over these cold winter months. Older people are particularly vulnerable at this time of year and knitted accessories are a great way to keep warm! At this time of year you can kill two birds with one stone - by keeping your loved ones nice and toasty, and earning gift-giving brownie points by providing lovely hand-made presents to your nearest and dearest!


I love hand-made presents, and despite having no discernible crafting talent, have still managed to put together a little something for my favourites each year. The key, I realise, is not that you have to be great at knitting/baking/sewing/whatever . . . you just have to be better than the person you are gifting to!

Though if I ever want to make it a totally home-made Christmas, I need to get a few more tricks up my sleeve! Everyone's had scarves, and hats, and blankets,..  and more chocolates, biscuits and cakes than you can shake a stick at (sure, the baked things wont keep you warm per say, but cake makes you happy, which makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Or at the very least, they go down a treat with a nice warming cup of tea!) so I really need to expand my repertoire! Luckily, Fenetic Wellbeing have once again come to my rescue with this hand little video on how to knit your very own Christmas stocking!


Now I know what everyone's getting next year!

* In collaboration with Fenetic Wellbeing

18 December 2016

Festive Afternoon Tea at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford

There's always so much to do before Christmas that it can be hard to find time in December for optional extras - but as a wise man once said 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it'. And just like that, I had an excuse for Afternoon Tea!


We just called into Bradford's Victoria Hotel, as it wouldn't be too disruptive to out Christmas shopping due to it's handy location right in the city centre. I've been in before for their regular, non-festive afternoon tea, so I reckoned it'd be a pretty safe bet.



We were led toy our table where we found a decent variety of tea bag options from Ringtons. I rather boringly opted for a reliable and delicious Earl Grey, but my tea-buddy had a more adventurous Lemon, Ginger and Ginseng tea which I've been told was lovely.



There wasn't long to wait before our three-tier pile of goodies was delivered to our table. First post of call was, of course, the sandwiches - our selection of finger sandwiches included two very generously-filled and festive turkey and stuffing sandwiches, a pair of smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches (which were ignored because smoked salmon is the devil), and then one each (?) of ham with mustard and cheese with tomato chutney.


Festive Afternoon Teas are a bit of a funny one for me - I love the Christmassy vibe and the extra excuse for an afternoon of sugary indulgence, but I'm generally not actually as keen on the 'festive' cakey offerings. All that dried fruit - it's just not really my bag! Here, we were provided with the fairly straightforward offerings of a mince pie and a mini Christmas pudding as part of our festive platter. I can handle mince pies, and I'm not over keen on Christmas Pudding - but I want to love them both!


The mince pie was just fine, and I did struggle a bit with the pud, but if you like all that stodgy fruit this would have been right up your street! My favourite bit on this level of the cake stand as the scone though - still fruity, of course, but nicely balanced out with the jam and cream, as well as the actual scone, so not quite so intense! It's not my favourite when the scones come pre-prepared but not the end of the world.


I am glad there was another layer of sweet things to go at though! The little panna cotta pots were lovely, even though the provided spoons didn't quite reach the bottom of the glasses! Then we got to finish off with a few little chocolatey bits apiece.


It's not my favourite afternoon of all time - I'd generally prefer a little more variety in flavours throughout my sweet bits, for example. But for £9 a head, this is still one of the best value for money afternoon teas I've come across, and since it's just down the road, it's one of the most convenient too! A great way to escape from the Christmas madness for a little while!

5 December 2016

Bon Prix on the Rocks

Christmas is definitely the season for sparkly dresses and pretty cocktails. After all, you need something to get you through the stress of trying to get everything else done in time! Luckily, the wonderful folk over at Bon Prix knew just how to get us feeling festive, by helping a bunch of lucky bloggers out with these two important factors with their fabulous Bon Prix on the Rocks event.


Yup, firstly not only did we get to pick out very own cocktail dress from their brilliant range of party dresses, we then got to wear said dress at a very exclusive (and fun!) cocktail masterclass. Pretty awesome, right?


The opportunity to get all dressed up for a night out doesn't come my way very often so I felt a little overdressed for the dreary afternoon train ride over to Leeds, but the sumptuous venue definitely justified the fancy frocks! We had not just one luxurious room at the Malmaison, but two - one for cocktail making one for chilling out between mixing!


With quite a healthy amount of bloggers in attendance, you'd have thought the chances of a couple picking the same dress were quite high, but miraculously everyone had chosen differently, covering a wide range of dress styles. With one exception. Me. Because I'm awkward.


Thankfully no one seemed to notice that Natasha and I had turned up in the same dress. The slightly different colour choice helped, as did Natasha's cardigan ..... and distracting people by getting Jess to stand in between us probably helped too!

(Though standing next to Jess with her ultra shiny hair only highlight what a fluffy debacle mine is! I don't know whether to invest in some god conditioner or just splash out hair extensions!)


It was great to see the dresses on everyone - a couple that I'd not looked at twice while scrolling the website looked amazing when worn, they really came to life in person - but I was more than happy to move on to cocktail making!



We were fully instructed on how to make two delicious and boozy Bon Prix exclusive cocktails - the gin-based mojito-style Sassy Sapphire, and the Cosmopolitan-inspired Pretty In Pink Frocktail. I was of course excellent at this.


That might not be true btw. But they still tasted grand!  Plus, we were sent away with booze-filled goodie bags so I can practice my cocktail-making at home so I can really impress folk when I'm Christmas entertaining!


Big thanks to Bon Prix for providing us all with a wonderful range of dresses and a great excuse to get together - you can read the event from their side here! Even more big thanks to Search Labs (and especially Jennie!) for always putting on the best events, and for having the foresight to take along a photographer, who I have shamelessly stolen from throughout this post!

1 December 2016

Time For Buying Christmas Gifts - Jord Wood Watches

The first door on my advent calendar was opened this morning which means its officially time to get organised for Christmas! I'm usually pretty ahead of the game when it comes to the easy bits,... watching Christmas films and eating Quality Street on the couch. When it comes to gift-buying I tend to be a bit more last-minute, despite my best intentions.

This disorganised approach to gift-buying may give the impression that I don't really put that much thought into what I'm getting for people, but it couldn't be further from the truth. I think about it way too long - still thinking when I should be buying! But I want to make sure I get the perfect presents for the people I care about. This year, in at least one instance, I think I've fully cracked it!


You see, I was offered the opportunity to try one of these absolutely gorgeous wood watches from Jord. These really are the most unique and lovely timepieces I've ever come across, and was very tempted to treat myself to one of their beautiful women's watches. My better nature won out eventually though when I realised what a perfect present this would make for one of the most important men in my life - my brother (it's ok, he won't read this!)


My best bro has started his teacher training this year so as well as not having his phone with him in the classroom to check the time, he needs to impress the future adults by looking both professional and super cool. Jord Wood Watches are perfect for both!

There are some great products to choose from in their men's watch range, but I picked the Dover Ebony and Copper watch. The simplicity of the black ebony of the strap really helped the details of the exposed cogs stand out, but mainly I thought the copper ring would be perfect for my copper-haired sibling!


With a final product this nice, it seems a little silly to start banging on about the presentation box that it comes in, but honestly this is like an extra gift in itself! Handsomely made from wood, the lid and drawer are both magnetised and everything is of the some excellent quality that Jord pride themselves on. The overall effect is one very sophisticated and special gift. A lot more so than the stack of comics I usually get him!


In fact, the only problem with the watch is that when I borrowed the other half's wrist to try it on, he got rather attached and now wants his own!

He might have to wait for another occasion now, but there's still plenty of time to order one of these for Christmas! Prices start from $129 (about £102) but shipping is free to the UK from the United States! Plus to help ease the financial burden at this time of year, you can get a $25 discount code if you enter your email address here! All adds up, right?

Good luck with any more Christmas shopping you have to do! Anyone nearly finished?

Wooden Watch Review

* This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches