Gin Afternoon Tea at Marco Pierre White

Last week I was invited to sample the new ‘Gin & Tea’ afternoon tea at Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill at the top of the iconic ‘The Cube’ in Birmingham. I’ve visited the restaurant before (the chocolate mousse is amazing), and while I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge gin enthusiast, I was intruiged to see how it had been infused into the individual elements of the food.

One of the best features of the restaurant are the fabulous 360-degree views of the city from the 25th floor, so I was delighted when we were shown to a table with crisp, white linen and a window seat. We were the first to arrive for the start of service, and so it was a particularly quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

We were offered a Pink Gin cocktail (we both chose lemonade instead of tonic) made with Beefeater gin. The unexpected surprise was how much I actually enjoyed this – the gin wasn’t too strong and I liked the large glasses. Who knows? Perhaps I might now be a gin person? Continue reading

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Venom at the Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza, Birmingham

I’ve heard quite a few positive things about the new Odeon Luxe Cinemas that have been opening all around the country, so it was a nice surprise when I was invited to watch the new Venom film on the premiere day at the Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza with Westside BID. I was away from home last week, so The Bloke was more than happy to take my place instead. Here’s what he thought: 

We’ve visited the Odeon at Birmingham Broadway Plaza on numerous occasions and had rather mixed experiences depending on the film, screen and showing times. I was interested to see how the new ‘Luxe’ refurbishments would make a difference to the quality of the cinema experience.  Continue reading

How to Deal with Burnout

How to deal with burnout, depression and mental health

Generally, I have a very blessed and wonderful life, but I’ve always been quite open about that fact that I suffer from depression. These ‘down days’ are always impossible to pre-empt, sometimes not appearing for weeks or even months at a time, but over the years I’ve been able to develop coping mechanisms in order to maintain some sort of functionality when a depressive episode strikes. 

This year, however, the down days were increasingly more extreme and lasted for much longer periods of time. I was dealing with a number of negative and stressful situations in both my personal and professional life over a number of months and was struggling with feelings of pressure and de-motivation, but I began to find myself unable to complete even the most menial of tasks. I didn’t particularly want to go outside, my appetite increased and I began comfort eating excessively, I felt physically and mentally tired all the time but couldn’t sleep, I felt physically unwell, eventually developing laryngitis which took several weeks to recover from, I couldn’t concentrate to the point where I even forgot what I was saying mid-sentence. I even started to lose interest in the creative things that made me happy, becoming disillusioned with my own blog and the community. For me, feeling low was part of life that I had learned to accept and work with when I needed to, but when the bad days turned into bad weeks I knew that there was something wrong.  Continue reading

I’ve Been Shortlisted!

It’s the start of a new day, new week and new month and the weather is glorious. As always, I know it is going to be busy over the next few weeks, but there’s something about the beginning of a month that feels incredibly motivating, even if I’m still tired from the day before…

I had some amazing news on Friday. Last month I discovered that I had been nominated for Blogger of the Year at the Birmingham Awards, with the shortlist of finalists to be announced at the end of September. I honestly didn’t expect anything would come of it – those of you who follow the blog regularly will know that I love my adopted city (having lived here for 17 years now) and write about what I experience in and around Birmingham within many of my posts, but as I don’t have a specific niche dedicated to it like many of those who have been shortlisted in previous years I didn’t think I would make it past the first round. I nervously kept checking the website on the announcement day, my heart beating out of my chest when I saw the link appear… Continue reading

IKEA: For the Stuff You Never Knew You Needed

There’s a scene in one of my favourite films – 500 Days of Summer – in which the two main characters lovingly pretend at playing house in an IKEA as they enjoy the honeymoon phase of their new relationship. It’s a beautiful sequence, accompanied by cutesy dialogue, and even though I’ve watched it a bajillion times it never fails to make me smile.

So, it was inevitable that this would be the first thing that would pop into my head when The Bloke suggested an impromptu visit yesterday morning. Despite the fact that we have lived together for years, and have been to IKEA on numerous occasions, I somehow imagined a scenario in which we would flirt our way around, being cute in various home set ups and having a lovely time.

Not quite, predominantly because I forgot how much I LOVE going to IKEA. Continue reading

SERVE Birmingham: An Alternative Experience in the City

Ever played ping pong while drinking a pint?

Well, now you can! 

SERVE opened its doors in August in the underground space at 55a Temple Row, converting it into a ping pong bar and restaurant for a unique experience (the first of it’s kind outside of London), and I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch night. 

The concept of SERVE is to offer a hip, nightclub culture with an entertaining activity and is one of the latest alternative venues to arrive in Birmingham. It’s a rather fun idea – certainly not something I had heard of before – and I was keen to find out more about it. Continue reading

Lunch at the Rose Villa Tavern

The Rose Villa Tavern, takes from their Instagram page

I received a text on Sunday morning:

Fancy going to the Rose Villa Tavern for lunch today?

I love waking up to texts like that.

Located on Warstone Lane in the Jewellery Quarter, the pub is part of the popular Bitters and Twisted venues and is a refurbished Grade II listed building with ornate stained glass windows, an old fashioned casual vibe, function room and a beer garden. In contrast, it serves a contemporary American style menu, a wide selection of beers and ales and fabulous cocktails. I’ve been to the Rose Villa Tavern on several occasions in the late afternoon and evening when it was quite busy, so I was interested to see whether it was any different during a weekend lunchtime. Continue reading

A Week in New York

Note: all of the images featured in this post are my own and are set as galleries – click on the images to see the full size.

The Bloke and I have just been to NYC for a week. We have visited once before on our honeymoon in November last year, but as we were there for just over four days we wanted to go back and attempt to see as much as possible that we had missed last time. We chose to go at the beginning of September – arriving on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend – with the hope that the city would be slightly quieter and the following week was back to school. 

We wanted to experience both the tourist and non-tourist places, so I spent several weeks before reading blogs and watching vlogs about everything to see and do, mapping out our activities according to each day. This wasn’t set in stone and would allow us to change each daily plan around according to the weather.  Continue reading

Start Spreading the News…

New York montage

It has been a little while since I last posted, predominantly because I’ve been on holiday in New York. The Bloke and I visited just under a year ago on our honeymoon, but as we were there for just over four days we decided to go back for an extended period of time and try and see some of the things that we missed.

It. Was. Epic.

We travelled by subway, water taxi and cable car. We saw a ridiculous amount of movie locations and sweltered in the intense heat. I ate a Cronut, gay ice-cream, pancakes, slurped on the most amazing pink lemonade and developed a rather worrying Snapple addiction. We missed an appearance by Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick-Harris at different points, laughed (and almost cried) at Kinky Boots on Broadway and got a crick in our necks from looking skywards for so long.  Continue reading

50+ Frugal Ideas to Save Money and Organise Your Finances

Frugal and thrifty ideas to help you organise your finances and save money

Budgeting, saving money and making wise financial decisions was never really something that I was particularly good at. However, a change in my job meant a significant drop in my monthly earnings, forcing me to adapt to a different lifestyle in order to be able to live happily within my means.

Admittedly, my situation was substantially easier to make changes than those with large mortgages and children, but I still had quite a few financial responsibilities that needed to be covered, along with the monthly rent and bills. It took some time, but advanced planning and organisation really helped me to stay on track… Continue reading