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New on the Block: Farmacy, Notting Hill

There’s a new kid on the block in Notting Hill, and it’s one of my favourite recent discoveries.

Farmacy opened just last month on Westbourne Grove. It is open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and already causing a bit of a stir. Their philosophy is ‘clean indulgence’ – something I’m very willing to get on board with.

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Their menus are all about healthy choice comfort foods, no rabbit leaves here. It is incredibly rare that I look up a health restaurant’s menu online and decide I’d rather go for dinner than brunch. I’m all about the healthy brunches – homemade granola, smoothies and (if all else fails) avo on toast – but Farmacy’s evening menu was unmissable.

The menu is still a little small and rather pricey, but with delicious options such spelt sourdough pizzas, a clean curry and the Farmacy “burger”, I was willing to forgive those drawbacks. I opted for the porcini mushroom spelt pasta, which was delicious. If you’ve never tried spelt pasta before, then definitely do. It doesn’t have the grainy texture of other wholewheat pastas, but remains all the health benefits.

They also have a really interesting drinks menu (again, I’m never particularly fascinated by drinks menus, my interest can only be slightly piqued by cocktails). I went for the lemon-aid, an alkalising lemon juice, apple syrup and coconut water. It was amazing. I’m normally a bit scared of those kind of lemon drinks, as often they are too sharp. This was nice and sweet, but not sugary, as well as being healthy.

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If you’re in the area be sure to swing by (and don’t under any circumstances miss the lemon-aid!).

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Super Simple Gingersnaps

When it comes to tea dunking, you can’t get much better than a gingersnap.

My sister and I have been making gingersnaps since we were very small. It’s been years since we last attempted them as we are more likely to whip up a batch of cookies now, but this weekend the mood for ginger struck and we pulled out our kiddie cookbook. Sure, the instructions are incredibly basic (it specifics that you need an oven) but the gingersnaps are delicious, and it’s a recipe that kids can join in with.

These are really quick, really easy and absolutely perfect with your Sunday afternoon cup of tea.

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YOU WILL NEED:

  • 100g butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

TO MAKE:

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan).

Melt together the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into the mixture and combine until it forms a smooth, soft dough.

Take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a small ball to form the biscuits, you should make around 25.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops have cracked and are just starting to brown (our oven was too high so the tops didn’t crack..!) Enjoy!

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London’s Farm Shop: Daylesford

Being in a city doesn’t mean you can’t have farm fresh food.

Last Saturday the sun put in a very decent appearance in London (hallelujah!) so to bask in the warmth and find a delicious breakfast, Tiarnan and I took to the streets of Notting Hill.

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Westbourne Grove is a little like the Portobello Road’s big sister. Slightly more refined and much less crowded, it offers an escape from the never ending throng of tourists. Don’t get me wrong, wandering down the Portobello Road is one of my favourite activities but sometimes you don’t want to fight the crowds. Westbourne Grove has plenty of delicious breakfast options, but we settled for Daylesford.

Daylesford is essentially a farm shop given the London makeover. You won’t see any muddy wellies there, but plenty of farm fresh food. It began as an organic farm in Staffordshire and is now one of the most sustainable farms in the UK, with another one in the Cotswolds as well as various London greengrocers and restaurants. They also have a cookery school and hold various events throughout the year including supper clubs, masterclasses and a summer festival.

Daylesford’s menu is made up of fresh, seasonal produce from the farm’s market garden, cheese and bread from the creamery and bakery and meat from their animals. And if you eat something you really love, it’s pretty likely you can pop into the farmshop and buy it to take home with you.

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How to Spend… May

We’ve had our first sunny snap – summer is finally on it’s way!

I love how the sun instantly lifts everyone’s mood. Suddenly we’re planning BBQ evenings, sharing round the Pimm’s and remembering what it feels like to sunbathe. Of course it won’t last, but the promise that summer is coming is more than enough to keep me smiling throughout May. And I’ve got plenty of suggestions for when the rain inevitably returns and we have to put away the sunglasses again…

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*Go for a bike ride: When it’s nice out, it’s really nice out. There are still some lambs frolicking in the fields, but otherwise there’s a real sense of summer. The parks are filled with picnickers, flower beds are blooming and the unmistakable scent of BBQs fill the evening air. Now is such a lovely time to go for a bike ride. You can explore so much with relatively little effort, and always stop off for a sunbathe halfway round. If you’re in London definitely set a date to explore the parks on the Santander bikes – there’s no better way to spend a sunny May day.

*Make rainy day plans: But, May is a bit unpredictable and sadly the sunny weather will not be a constant. Rather than mope around inside when it’s miserable, make plans specifically for a rainy day and save them for when the weather turns. There are so many good things on at the cinema (cannot wait to see The Jungle Book!), but you don’t even need to leave the house to have fun on a rainy day. Bake up a storm in the kitchen, soak in the bath with a good read or do some of that spring cleaning you meant to do in spring (if you feel really productive). Miserable days really don’t have to be miserable.

*Set a summer fitness goal: By this I do not mean to get bikini-body ready. But summer does mean clothing gets skimpier, so set yourself a fitness goal and start to dedicate some real time to it. It doesn’t have to be anything major. From signing up for a marathon to deciding to take the stairs, making a conscious effort to get moving will have you feeling so much more confident when summer rolls around.

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A May Reading List

This month’s reading list is quite a mixed bag. What with all the commuting I’m doing, I’m getting through roughly a book a week (it’s becoming a very expensive pastime!) With the amount of time I now have for reading, I’ve been making myself pick up books that I would never usually consider. It’s such a great way to discover new favourites and the variety means you can never get bored. Here are my latest discoveries.

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*For a read that feels like a chat: Wildflower, Drew Barrymore. I never, ever read memoirs. But Drew Barrymore’s Wildflower did the rounds on Instagram (with that gorgeous cover) and my attention was caught. This is not a tell-all autobiography, but that’s why I loved it so much. Each chapter tells a different anecdote, fronted by a relevant snap. Some are funny, such as her skydiving experience with Cameron Diaz, some are touching, such as the chapters dedicated to her two daughters and some are quite tragic, such as the stories from her childhood. I’m not a particular Drew Barrymore fan, but you don’t need to be to enjoy her memoir. Curling up with this book feels like catching up with an old friend.

*For a real surprise: We Were Liars, E. Lockhart. This is a Young Adult read, another genre I rarely dip into. I didn’t expect much from this (unfortunately, I’m always a little snobby about YA)  and was proven completely and entirely wrong. I loved it. We Were Liars centers around the beautiful, blonde and very rich Sinclair family. They put up a perfect front but as the narrator, eldest Sinclair grandchild Cady, tries to piece together an accident that she cannot remember and her family refuses to discuss, the cracks start to form. The general confusion builds into an explosive twist which will have you immediately flip back to the beginning to work out how the author had you so fooled.

*For a much needed sweet fix: Life is Sweet, The Hummingbird Bakery. If you’re ever in London, don’t miss The Hummingbird Bakery. Famed for their red velvet cupcakes and rainbow layer slices, this American-style bakery always hits the spot. My sister and I always turn to their original cookbook when we want to whip up something sweet, but Life is Sweet is the newest addition to our collection. With red velvet brownies and pancakes (!), a tunnel of fudge cake and pink champagne cupcakes, it’ll be keeping us very busy over the May bank holiday weekends.

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Healthy Chocolate and Almond Spiced Cookies

Since working in an office, I have become much more interested in what I’m eating.

I’ve never eaten particularly badly, but I would always eat what I wanted without giving anything a second thought. It turns out that attitude doesn’t cut it in an office. When you’re sat at a desk all day, burning those calories is so much tougher. And therefore, I have entered the wonderful world of healthy snacking (and it really is a whole world of deliciousness).

While I usually make a beeline for WH Smith’s ‘nutritional snacks’ stand, these cookies are one of my first homemade efforts. They aren’t the sugar explosion you expect when you bite into a cookie, but that is part of their charm. You can eat them all day and not feel sick! The banana really sweetens them, and the spices make your entire house smell incredible while they’re in the oven. I followed this recipe – they are so easy to make and turned out really well.

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YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 2 heaped tbsp coconut oil
  • 9 small squares dark chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger, nutmeg, salt and baking powder

TO MAKE:

Preheat the oven to 170C. Mash the banana together with the chocolate.

Heat the coconut oil on a low heat. Add the syrup, spices and salt and stir until combined.

Mix the ground almonds, baking powder and almond butter together with the banana and chocolate. Add the melted ingredients and stir until combined.

On a tray, take a tablespoon amount of mixture and press down to form a cookie. Bake for 10-15 mins and enjoy!

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A Few Favourites: April

April is a bit of a funny month. We’re so desperate for winter to be at an end that when spring comes along it’s very exciting and very pretty (all those pinks!) but, and let’s be honest here, it’s still so cold. We’ve had sunshine, we’ve had showers, we’ve even had snow.

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Despite the ever unpredictable temperatures, it’s been really fun in London this month. Tiarnan and I are on a mission to find our favourite rooftop bar, which has involved some great views and some great cocktails. We also spent last Sunday by the river cheering on the marathon runners, which was so much fun! I went home feeling so inspired I could have burst, and promptly signed up to a 10k in July. Training has started. Wish me luck…

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*Interiors magazines: I love a good flick through an interiors magazine. I live for the day I own my own house and can do whatever I wish to do with it. But until that day, I’ll just form detailed opinions on other people’s homes. LivingEtc is my favourite because it combines interiors with fashion, I love the style of their features and the whole design of the magazine is just beautiful.

*Origins Clear Improvement Mask: I’ve been loving face masks recently, and this is my favourite. There’s just something so indulgent about a face mask and no better way to pamper yourself. This one from Origins is a charcoal mask, which leaves my face feeling clean, glowing and just so soft.

*The White Company Pomegranate candle: This is a bit of a hangover from winter but I just can’t let go of it yet. It, admittedly, smells like Christmas but the scent isn’t overwhelming and even though I’ve burnt it a lot, it’s lasting amazingly. The White Company have an enormous range of scents and everything from tea lights to enormous pillar candles – there’s something for everyone.

*The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro: I’ve saved the best till last. I’m doing so much reading at the moment on my commute, but this is by far my favourite recent read. It is set in a declining Britain after the Romans have left, centering on an elderly married couple, Axl and Beatrice, as they set off across the country in search of a son they haven’t seen in years. It’s a thought-provoking, clever and ultimately heart-breaking story, which will stay in your thoughts long after you have turned the final page.

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Sunday Brunching: Farm Girl

The perfect Sunday always involves pancakes. And today I’ve got a stylish little brunch spot for you all which lets you indulge entirely guilt-free.

In prime location on the Portobello Road, Farm Girl cafe opened last summer to bring the Aussie cafe culture to the heart of Notting Hill. Set back from the main market drag with a cute little courtyard terrace it is hard to stumble upon, but if you do you’re in for a treat.

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Their menu is a health nut’s dream, but Farm Girl puts a nutritional twist on the naughty dishes we all know and love. Their signature offering is a coconut BLT which replaces the bacon with coconut flesh (and tastes convincingly bacon-y, so I am told).

We opted for brunch though, as that really is the star menu. With the classic avocado toast, açai bowl and eggs almost any way amongst others, it’s a tricky choice but we couldn’t miss the buckwheat berry pancakes. They’re refined sugar free (so no munching guilt here) but entirely heavenly.

So soak up the sun at the candy pink courtyard tables or sink into the squishy sofa benches and stay all day, Farm Girl is welcoming, cosy and surprisingly quiet for the heart of Notting Hill. You’ll probably have to queue, but it is definitely worth it.

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The Lazy Oaf Striped Tee

When in doubt, always opt for stripes.

It’s still a little too chilly to just don a t-shirt, but when layered up they are absolutely perfect for spring. And I just think this cute (and quite colourful) little tee is perfect for those sunny spring days.

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This striped find is from Lazy Oaf, a really fun London based label. They have a really quirky selection of clothing, which has a very quick turnaround with plenty of ‘new in’ items all the time (so if you love something – grab it!)

Their clothes use bright colours, bold patterns and are often inspired by cartoons. This is quite a tame offering from their collection, but I love the pop of pink around the neck and on the sleeves. There, unfortunately, aren’t that many sizes left for this tee, but they’ve just released this ‘killer whale’ version if you want to get your hands on one.

They aren’t the cheapest at £30, but the t-shirts are very high quality and the material is actually quite thick. Perfect for when you desperately want to dress for summer but the weather hasn’t quite caught up with you yet!

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Columbia Road Flower Market

Is there anything better than sunshine and flowers?

Columbia Road Flower Market is the place to be in East London on a Sunday. The street comes alive with an endless stream of florists and the crowd packs itself in, all in search of the perfect bunch. From teeny tiny succulents, to enormous house plants and romantic blooms, they have everything – and all at incredible prices!

The market absolutely bursts with atmosphere, with stall holders crying their wares as you squeeze through to grab the best bunch. The street also has some amazing independent shops, with plenty of gardening tools, home accessories, artwork and cafes to keep you busy once you’ve found your blooms. And all of this in the sunshine makes for a pretty perfect Sunday.

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