Sunday Tea and Cake

Sometimes on a Sunday, only tea and cake will do.

After a Saturday raceday for Tiarnan (and countryside trek in pursuit for me) the aches had set in. We couldn’t bear to stay stuck indoors on a sunny Sunday afternoon but also couldn’t quite face any serious movement. So we threw on our comfiest trainers and took a drive, in search of cake. We ended up at one of our favourite local cafes, Juliet’s.

They serve whopper slices of cake and have an enormous selection. With tea in cute, mismatched china and a little table tucked in the corner, it’s a pretty perfect way to spend the first Sunday of spring.

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Here’s to sunnier days fast approaching…

2015 Through Instagram

How is it New Year’s Eve already? It seems so crazy to be waving goodbye to 2015 at midnight, but what a year it has been.

2015 was the year #LoveWins went viral as the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across America. We watched in horror as refugees fled across Europe, and Paris was bombed in the worst attacks on France since WWII. We waited at the doors of the Lindo Wing for the newly born Princess Charlotte to emerge, and watched New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup, the first team to ever successfully defend the Web Ellis Cup. David Cameron is back at no. 10, and America is gearing up for their presidential election in which Hillary Clinton will attempt to become the first woman president (again).

For me, 2015 has been quite the year of milestones. I graduated from uni, got a job, turned 21 and had a big party to celebrate. The Jubilee line is my new best friend, I can’t live without Pret’s tuna baguette and the 9 to 5 life is now mine. On a smaller scale, I ran 5k (without stopping), successfully gave up chocolate for Lent and finally started reading Game of Thrones. It’s been a fun year. So I thought I’d whizz through the last 12 months via Instagram, and share some of the memories with you…

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New Year’s Eve 2014; shopping the sales in York and Tiarnan almost bought all of Jack Wills; celebrating 3 years with Tiarnan; girlie evenings in Newcastle; enjoying dog walks and fresh air back at home for Easter; pub lunching (and the most enormous fish and chips); wrapping up warm by the sea in Brighton; spring runs with Tiarnan; hacking with Rosie and Mr Flash on one of the first gloriously sunny days of the year.

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Holidaying in Turkey with Tiarnan; sunset in Turkey on the hotel’s private beach; spending Mum’s birthday by the seaside in May; enjoying our last few weeks at uni visiting Bamburgh Castle; an amazingly sunny day at Castle Howard in Yorkshire (we drove through the moors that day and the scenery was incredible); my 21st birthday cake (the 2 was chocolate and the 1 vanilla – it was delicious!); my 21st birthday party; cutting my cake; shopping on the King’s Road with my beautiful Kate Spade handbag.

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Watching the tennis at Wimbledon on the hottest day of the year (#sweatymess); enjoying the perks of the job – restaurant reviewing; summer walkies with Chester; London in the sunshine; graduating from Newcastle University; celebrating graduation with my family; afternoon tea in Eastbourne for Dad’s birthday; a belated birthday day out in Brighton; watching the sunset in Spain while eating chocolate and playing cards.

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A quick day trip to Barcelona; cooling down with the most delicious gelato; cycling to Padstow in Cornwall (for amazing fish and chips!); moving Tiarnan into his new London place; celebrating my new job at The Shard; picking out the Christmas tree; Oxford Circus’ Christmas lights looking amazing; celebrating Tiarnan’s birthday with ice-skating, champagne and truffles; a festive weekend in Paris.

As I said, it’s been a fun year. I’m still buying too many jumpers, drinking too much squash and using too much heat on my hair (but I’ll deal with those things in 2016). I hope you all have a great night, and a great year. See you in 2016!

The Perfect Jeans

Today is going to be a chat all about the number one staple in my wardrobe: black skinny jeans. I’ve been having a love affair with a range of jeans for a few years now, and it’s about time I shared!

Topshop make the best jeans. Hands down. End of. Trust me, they will fix all of your jean-related woes. Their selection can seem endless, high-waisted, mid-rise, skinny, boyfriend, mom, ankle grazers, ripped… the list goes on. However, my go-to pair of jeans have been getting some bad press and I want to put that right.

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I am the proud owner of ten pairs of Topshop jeans (I do need them all, and I still want more…!), but the black Leigh jeans are my favourites. They are not like normal jeans though, and this is where people start to dislike them. The material is much, much softer. If you want a pair of traditional black jeans, go for the Topshop Jamies. These are made of a stiffer material, more like traditional denim.

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These are the best jeans because of the softer material. It makes them so unbelievably comfy when skinny jeans are renowned for being uncomfortable. The softer material does mean that the Leigh jeans probably wear the worse out of the Topshop range. The high-waisted Jonis are much more elastic but the Leighs will start to stretch over time. However, I had my previous pair for two years and that’s pretty good going when you wear them multiple times a week, every week.

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The Leighs are also mid-rise, which I really love, particularly through winter. Trends call for high-waisted jeans, but when you’re layered up for the chill, noone can see the high waist! High-waisted jeans are great for sucking it all in, but I find they can get uncomfortable after a while, and going out for a meal in them is obviously a massive no-no.

The Topshop jeans (all of them!) are also the best because of how well they fit. I know this is personal preference, but I know so many girls of all different shapes that love the fit. They are sold with a waist size and leg length, rather than as a standard size 8, 10 etc. So if you have a tiny waist and short legs, they will fit you. If you have a larger waist and long legs, they will also fit you, and so on through every combination.

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I would recommend the black ones simply because of how flattering they are, and this is true of all black skinny jeans. They elongate your legs and make them look slimmer in a way that blue jeans just don’t. Finally, what doesn’t go with black? They make such a great base for any outfit, and can look so much smarter than blue jeans if you need them to.

If you don’t have a pair of these in your wardrobe, you are missing out. Go on, add them to your Christmas wish list…

Autumn in Kent

While the weather is still fine, my family love a good Sunday walk (with tea and cake waiting for us back home). It really is such a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially as the Kentish countryside around us is so beautiful. Every Sunday afternoon we pack up the car with walking boots, coats, scarfs and our border terrier and set off to a different village.

A couple of weeks ago we chose Chiddingstone, a village entirely owned by the National Trust, which hints at how beautiful it is. We started in the village and then wandered out into the countryside beyond until we could see the church’s spire on a distant hill.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting views from all around the world (which is completely amazing – thank you!) and I thought it might be fun to show you what autumn looks like where I’m from. Autumn in London and autumn in the countryside surrounding it are two very separate things (you can almost miss the whole season in London), so if you’re ever visiting at this time of year be sure to venture beyond the city!

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I wasn’t planning on doing anything with these photos but I had taken so many it seemed a shame not to share them! I hope you enjoyed this little slice of autumnal Kent…

Sunday Brunch: Graze Kitchen and Bar

I’m sorry if it’s painful to talk about the weekend on Wednesday, when it just seems so far away… But this brunch was too good to not share with you!

My sister, Rosie, and I often go cruising down the high street where we live with our eyes peeled for new eateries. It seems to be the thing of the moment for our hometown: a new day, a new cafe opens up. While we’ve been promising to go to a few now, there was one that we had to visit as soon as we spotted it.

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Previously a very dodgy pub, this cute little building on the bridge overlooking the river has completely turned itself around into an all day eatery. Graze Kitchen and Bar opens early to provide busy commuters with espressos and pastries and then stays open into the night offering sharing platters and cocktails. Choosing when to go was a tricky decision!

However, rumour had it that their brunch menu was the best, and what better day to brunch than a Sunday?!

We arrived reasonably early and got in easily. The dining space is fairly small but nicely spread out, so we didn’t feel as though we were sharing our fellow brunchers’ coffees and conversations. We sat by the window and watched the world go by.

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The menu is varied and (to our pleasant surprise) not too expensive. If you are in a hurry you can opt for the bircher muesli or pastry selection, or if you have more time you can go for the full ‘graze breakfast’ (essentially a full English with a more original name).

We, of course, had plenty of time so I chose the graze breakfast and Rosie went for the American Pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. These delicious offerings shared the table with a luxury hot chocolate, a pot of tea and apple juice.

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The portion sizes are generous and service is quick but not rushed. The poached eggs were OK but nothing to write home about but this was the Graze brunch’s only downfall. Happily, there were so many marshmallows on top of the hot chocolate that drinking it was a bit of a challenge at first (the only way a hot chocolate should be)!

So if you’re in the area, skip Starbucks or the Waitrose cafe and walk that bit further up the high street for Graze. It is 100% worth it.