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

Advertisements

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

My Cat is a Jerk

One of his more ‘special’ expressions…

It’s International Cat Day and normally I would be joining in with the thousands of people sharing adorable pictures of their little furry companions across social media today along…

However, my cat is not particularly adorable this week. In fact, he’s a bit of a jerk.

I’ve had Poppy for over twelve years. He (yes, I know it’s a girl’s name – I thought he was a girl until he suddenly sprouted boy bits a few months after I rescued him, and by that point the name had stuck) came to me in a bag along with his sister after a horrible start in his little life. They were five weeks old, far too young to be away from their mother and in a mess – fleas, ear mites, stomach problems – I still can’t believe that they survived the first few months. He was so small that he still had blue eyes and could fit in the palm of my hand. Continue reading

Cheat Days and Chinese Food

The Bloke and I made a decision a few months ago to change our dietary habits. We were both in a food rut – eating poorly, snacking often and gaining weight to the the point where we were both at our heaviest and most unhealthy. 

We decided not to follow a specific plan or count calories. After watching the documentary ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ on Netflix we were inspired by the idea of a diet of no processed food. We took it a step further based on the fact that I seem to have developed a minor lactose intolerance and The Bloke has rosacea and cut out sugar and dairy too. So, for the last few months we have eaten nothing but fruit, vegetables, nuts, white meat and fish, except for the occasional cheat day that we allow ourselves the chance to eat what we want. We usually don’t eat past 6.30pm, have extra smoothies if we are feeling particularly hungry or have food cravings, and our snacks consist of fruits, nuts and vegetables too. Instead of focusing on the idea of a ‘diet,’ we consider it to be more of a lifestyle change. Continue reading

The Kindness of Neighbours and Arnold, the Pot-Head Rescue Tortoise

I was too busy telling Arnold how handsome he is to take a picture, but stick a pair of shades on this one and you get the idea…

I live in a street of terraced houses on both sides. The residents are a mixture of home-owners and renters, mainly comprising of young families, professionals and retirees. Generally (aside from my next-door neighbours who appear to be in training to become the next big DJ’s) it’s pretty quiet. We say hello, put the bins out for each other, take in each other’s packages, but aside from that we all pretty much keep ourselves to ourselves.

Today, The Bloke and I heard shouting outside. A man was pacing back and forth and banging on the doors and windows in front of a house across the road, getting more and more agitated when nobody would let him in and eventually he lost his temper. He kicked down a piece of the front wall down and launched it at the door with such force that it flew open, and then he ran away. Continue reading