A taste of lagom with Rekorderlig Cider #spon

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#StartTheSwedishWay

I was recently approached about the subject of lagom and was instantly transported back in time. Do you remember when I lived in Sweden for a year during University? I’m not even sure if Erasmus still exists but I studied in the small town of Borås and followed my fashion blogger dreams. Yes - then fashion blogging consisted of a handful in the UK but an absolute heap over in Sweden. Their forest photos, simple blonde top knots, giant circle scarves and understated vintage wears were just what the blogging community strived for. Rekorderlig Cider asked me to share how I could start my summer the Swedish way, as the ethos of lagom is that just enough is the perfect amount of everything, with a lack of fussiness being the key. To celebrate a cool, chilled summer, they are going on tour across the UK to give away free samples of cider! Read on to see just where they are heading.

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I even wrote about the vibes of the Swedish custom of lagom in a post here in 2009! It’s SO nostalgic to dip into the past and read a whole year’s worth of blog posts from my time there, which were often very personal as it lives out the true adventure of living abroad. The word lagom is literally translated as ‘just enough’ or ‘just the right amount’. When you visit Sweden, you are absorbed into a world of family time by the lake, picnics in the forest and chatting over fika – a coffee and a cake! The lifestyle is laid back, calm and mindful. If you take just the right amount from life, you reach peace and content. Is happiness balance? I think so! It’s the life you have around those Instagram moments and expensive events that make the difference.

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Over the Bank Holiday I dipped back into the lagom lifestyle and chilled at my mom’s pretty house with my family, enjoying the delicious Wild Berries and and Mango-Raspberry cider in the sunshine, served over ice with a zesty, refreshing twist. My siblings fought over the flavours as it's a truly fruit experience. My mouth is watering just writing this! Instead of organising a grand outing, we all moseyed our way over to Lichfield on the sunny Saturday and sampled that comforting home cooking that I so miss. Chilling on the sofa, cuddling the cat and admiring the birds. No fuss. Perfect!

It is truly nostalgic as Rekorderlig Cider is what we drank in Sweden at the international flat gatherings celebrating cultural days from around the world, and by the lake hidden deep in the huge, towering forest literally just next door to our student halls. I can remember collecting it during the trips to the nearby supermarket while slipping and sliding on ice, surrounded my metre-high snow during winter.

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You can also #StartTheSwedishWay this summer by visiting the Rekorderlig Cider sampling Van in Birmingham on 24th June. The van will be gracing a number of cities across 28 days so you can try a slice of Scandinavian style, drink, and culture too!

The Lagom Tour Dates:

  • Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 15th June to 23rd July 2017
  • Box Park Shoreditch, London– 15th June
  • High Street, Birmingham – 24th June
  • Gunwharf, Portsmouth – 30th June
  • Jubilee Street, Brighton – 1st July
  • Rose Lane, Canterbury – 2nd July
  • Queen Street, Cardiff – 6th July
  • Crown Square, Spinningfields, Manchester – 21st July

The post is in collaboration with Rekorderlig Cider.


The Budapest Trip | Day One: Apartment surprise and Szimpla Kert

I hope you enjoy reading these lengthy travel diaries as I have two trips up my sleeve - my solo New York whirlwind and my bae-cation with besties to Budapest earlier this year! I created the vlog at the end of this post almost as soon as I returned as I had so much fun documenting this trip. Proving you can make friends as an adult, I've only know Sarah really well for a few years, and it was less than a year ago that I met her friend Catherine, who has a YouTube channel too! No friends have ever really been keen to be in my videos but this time it was constant cameras out!

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So why Budapest? We were looking for a bargain break that wouldn't be too icy and still had plenty of nightlife. Discovering handy flights out of BHX and the cheapest accomodation ever, we booked up pretty sharpish. Planning our Hungarian adventure was straightforward and stress-free too. The sights are clear and readily explained across the net, and a large handful of bars and clubs stood out right away.

We didn't fly until the evening but I did take the day off work to pack and prep. After a log slog in the office, I would not be starting the holiday in the freshest place, right! We booked checked cases for our 5 day trip so I greedily packed up practically every outfit in my modest wardrobe and we ubered off to the airport. We were in the middle of debating drinks and snacks before our flight when it was suddenly called to final boarding, so we hot footed it to the gate and away we went! 

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I'll spare you the rather alarming photo of my sheet mask during the DIY plane facial I created, but soon we were being whizzed through the streets of Hungary by our new favourite cab driver who shared many recommendations. He pulled up to a huge, eerie church cloaked in darkness and announced "girls, this is your home"... before laughing his head off and pulling up to our actual apartment. In a towering stone building with heavy iron doors and winding stone staircases, this was more like staying at an abbey too! We were met by the host and as he showed us around the glorious space, we kept our cool until he finally vacated and we could run around our pad. I cannot believe what money can buy in Budapest! You can see more of our flat in the vlog but the high ceilings, stained glass and major space meant it was Instagram-photo perfection and such a welcoming home. I've only realised recently how your accommodation can really make the difference to a holiday, even if you always intend to be out and about, as your choice sets the scene for the whole trip. The impact feels short lived as soon as you arrive, but the time you spend getting ready for adventures, gearing up for a night out and gossiping in the morning do play a major role in the getaway vibes. From eight girls in a one bedroom apartment in Abu Dhabi, to my recent New York room that could have fit in the bathroom of our Budapest apartment (more on that at a later date!), I've really overlooked the part accommodation has played in the past. I would highly recommend Piano Castle Hill apartments!

It was fairly late but the gals on this trip know how to party right. Within an hour we were dressed, drink in hand, finding the best photo spot and planning our escape. The cab driver had gave us the number of a local taxi firm and that's where we put his first top tip into place. The taxis have a set fare per kilometre so be careful you are not overcharged. You can check the distance on Google Maps and estimate how much you should be paying, plus a small initial charge, so when the driver quoted us literally four times what it should have been, we definitely disputed! Once fairly settled with a shrug from the driver, and despite it being a Wednesday night, we were destined for the best 'ruin bar', Szimpla Kert. Set in the Jewish Quarter a 10 minute taxi ride across the nearby Danube, the ruin bars take up abandoned, sprawling buildings left after World War II and create a maze of a pub-come-club, with walls covered in quirky graffiti, dog-eared posters and arty paraphernalia. With so much personality, you're in a hippy paradise and, quite importantly, surrounded my travellers. We walked into plenty of casual student types dancing up a storm and after a few rum and cokes later, we were too! We did meet some Brits abroad, most memorably a bunch of guys who said one of their dads had paid for everyone's trips, but we side-stepped these pretty sharpish. After a few hours we went in search for a vegan takeaway as I was indeed travelling with two veganistas. Three falafel wraps later and  we were back to our apartment and sleeping soundly. Look out for my post about day 2 soon, but if you want to jump ahead already, here is my vlog! Enjoy watching.


In tune with Sixth Sense Salon | Birmingham Life

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic blogger event at a local salon. The recommendation already proceeded Sixth Sense Salon as fellow blogger and event extraordinaire Ting had already recommended them to me a few months prior for their inventive colours. When she invited me along to a preview of the refurbished salon and a complimentary treatment, I said a delighted yes please! I don't really have a regular hairdresser as my previous favourite has moved to a salon a little outside of town now, and as happy as I was with the colour, I can't justify the price of a Nicky Lazou balayage unless I went back to a more natural colour.

Off I trouped after work to my old school town of Sutton Coldfield and right by the train station (and near US beauty mecca Cocktail Cosmetics) was a red carpet leading into Sixth Sense. Bloggers with bubbles in hand meant I was at the right place, and I was greeted by staff members and blogger babes a plenty. When an event hasn't even started and already everyone is chattering and snapping away, you know it's going to go well.

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Sixth Sense has a completely different vibe to any salon I've visited before! You know my hair is my thing, or at least it was my thing. I have strayed away from my natural colour and while I haven't masked it completely, I'm in a real rut. My balayage has grown out, my layers are long and I needed some drastic advice. While I've had roots and cuts at local salons across the city, I really want someone to actually care about my hair and not be rushing off for a lunch break or suggesting to slap on dark grey dye over a colour mistake (a recent happening!).

Sixth Sense is a family in tune with every aspect of a salon experience. Owners and partners Dean and Dean introduced every single member of the team and their role in the business, and explained the ethos behind the salon makeover. Business-head Dean revealed all of the on-going work with local cancer patients, trialling new treatments for hair growth after chemotherapy. This was a journey for all involved as the salon were keen to explore and nurture how they could build a relationship with women going through that change and how they could offer their specialism, with training from oncology nurses too.

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All of the endeavours and features of the salon are customer-led and experimental, and it goes beyond pulling customers through the door on rotation. The murals on the walls are by a local graffiti artist and the mantras dotted around are just as personal to the owners as they are inspirational. Could there be more personality?!

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The salon is hot to apply for every award, training and innovation, and a company that invests so much into all of their staff members meant I felt any stylist I had would be striving towards that high standard. Luckily for me my stylist was salon director Dean himself! We tried the new System Professional Energy Code assessment to choose my most suited products, and of course a hair oil featured in there to feed my parched locks.

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Such a unique highlight is the new treatment room, aka the spa room from heaven. It's like the salon took the hairdressing rule book and ripped it up. Gone is the bustling side room and on offer is a serene spa sanctuary with a Santorini mural, ambient lighting and soothing spa tunes. It's like another world in there! I absolutely love and need well-being in the form of massage, facials and now it looks like a trip to the hairdressers can be a stress reliever too. Bliss!

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After a hair wash lying back in a custom massage chair - yes, really! - it was time for another Bellini and a fabulous, bouncy blow dry that lasted the week. It's no doubt Dean is an absolute pro but the finishing touches to the front of my hair as he framed it carefully around my face really made the difference.

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And look how fabulous everyone's hair looked! There were glossy curls taking over the town that night and we were buzzing from the uplifting experience. We all had to pull a cheesy pose in honour of Sixth Sense, just like those dotted around the salon of the team. As you can see, my balayage has really grown out so I have booked myself an appointment in June and can't wait to do something new with my locks! Watch this space!

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Some images credited to Matt Beach Photography.


Ibiza in October Diaries #4 | Cala Bassa & Cala Gracio

Onto the last instalment of my Ibiza trip! And gosh, it's so making me ready for another visit. Or a one way ticket to any beach, anywhere, pronto! It was our third full day and we had already watched the sunset at Cafe Mambo, climbed the castle and partied all night. It was time to indulge in one of Ibiza's beautiful beaches and really have a day of relaxation. I can't comment on what they are like in high season but Cala Bassa was top of our list and one of the most popular. I forgot to mention in my previous post that I got chatting to the DJ of our favourite and only night spot, and he wrote a list of recommended beaches. This was high on list so we grabbed a short cab ride, lilo in tow.

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We hit the restaurant first, overlooking the cove beach. Being on the Ibiza coast really does feel like a spiritual experience because you know you could swim around the rocks and discover another beach hidden just around the corner. They're small and natural and rugged around the rocky edges, but the water is clear and once out of the town, there's a lot of forest and countryside.

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We sampled some local sea food and a few cocktails before hitting the sand. I had a new super cute rainbow bikini from Boohoo but again I don't think I'll post a picture here! One friend and I literally leaned on the lilo and floated around in the sea chatting for around an hour. I think I'd love to live by the sea - I'm really a mermaid!

We stayed sunning until around 5pm and hopped on the bus back to San Antonio. I think we grabbed some quick food nearby before heading to our hotel to get ready for the night. It was a Sunday evening but a lady at reception had recommended a local bar that stayed open late all winter and was the place to head to. I threw on a mini dress I hadn't worn in years as you can wear just about anything on holiday with sandals and some bronzer, and we sampled the hotel entertainment of can-can dancers with the other OAP guests. These delights weren't exactly our thing so once over, we trooped out and walked in the rough direction of the receptionist's hand-drawn map, eventually arriving at Habaneros. At least I think that is what it was called - something similar anyway! 

It turned out indeed to be an open pub with pool tables outside and those €5 euro drink offers of a syrup shot and sugary cocktail. A few strawberry rounds later and we were winning a game with the locals, dominating the DJ's request list and rocking back up to the hotel at 5am! It was just like our own private party as it wasn't heaving, but there were just enough last minute holiday makers to make it fun. Definitely our best night so far! 

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We woke up feeling the most delicate of the holiday but made our way to another recommended beach, Cala Gracio. This was much more hidden and serene, where you climb down wooden steps to get to the sand. I grabbed a book and sat on my lilo bobbing around for a few hours! One friend and I rented a boat with a slide and peddled out to the sea to discuss the life back home. Maybe I need to revoke my mermaid status as deep sea freaks me out and definitely got way too choppy at one point, so we peddled back sharpish! 

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As our last night and a sleepy Monday, we scouted local restaurants and stumbled across the pretty bay-side Villa Mercedes. We took an outdoor table in the balmy evening and made the most of their bargain set menu for around €15 for three beautifully presented, light dishes. It was so lucky to end on such a high with a great meal and great wine!

The next day we had a quick yet predictably terrible bite at our hotel and drank tea the colour of dirty water before sadly boarding our flight home! As I mentioned before, the good Hotel Arenal reviews are due to the competition to win a free return holiday based on your review!

Ibiza certainly has a magical air that's unique to any other destination. It does feel mystical and mythical, and the vibes of a summer of partying and sabbaticals meeting on this one island was left in the air, even after the season had completed.  Don't miss my vlog of the whole trip!


Touchwood Own Your Style Fashion Event #sp

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On the weekend I took part in a fabulous fashion whirlwind! Touchwood Solihull invited me to appear at their spring fashion event to showcase the looks of the season. I consider pondering the latest trends as a full time hobby so this delightful opportunity meant mixing my two favourite things - shopping and chatting.

To help visitors own their style, there was a genius style cube that asked a series of questions about your life and wardrobe. A handy card popped out to reveal a trend perfect for you, plus some sweet shopping discounts. That's when I stepped in to show off my rail of glorious pieces from Topshop, Zara, River Island and more, mixing looks and matching shoppers with their new favourite items. Some cheeky £50 vouchers were also popping out to treat unsuspecting participants, and it felt rather fabulous to shower lucky shoppers with prizes!

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The event host, Hannah, was a gorgeous ray of sunshine and it felt like we were having a chit chat all day as we projected style tips across the shopping centre. I met loads of cool gals - shout out to awesome budding fashionista Evie! The prize winners were returning across the day to show us what they had purchased with their winnings. It was like we were hosting a fashion club! 

My favourite trends this season are Pretty in Pink, as how did I not know it's a fantastic colour for redheads, and Go Big or Go Home. Seriously: the bigger the sleeves, the better this season! We also showcased Vibrant Stripes, ranging from pin stripe to bold colour blocking; Statement Slogans, with a side of sass; 80's Glam in all it's glory; and Athletic Angel, possibly the most practical yet impactful trend of them all.

The style cube is at Touchwood until 7th April so don't miss the chance for discounts and trend advice!

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The Hand and Foot Spa, Selfridges Birmingham

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Last week I had the pleasure of trying out The Hand and Foot Spa at Selfridges, Birmingham. You're probably thinking, hold up, what about the acrylics?! Well yes, I've had back to back acrylics for around seven years now and I have a love/hate relationship with them. There's nothing like a fresh set and a polish that's everlasting, but what used to be a relaxing treat is now time consuming and boring. I don't like sitting at the salon for up to two hours at a time every three weeks and I'm constantly feeling more picky about just how many people those tools have been used on. When your hand is brushed with that giant kabuki and loads of debris and powder puffs out... yes, you know the one. Argh!

Now that you're thoroughly grossed out, it came at a fateful time that I met Donna Haar-Jørgensen, founder of the established London spa, just before Christmas. The Hand and Foot Spa had just launched at the Selfridges Birmingham Beauty Hall and the concept was so unique. First there is a snazzy iPad station with a Clueless-style app to show any nail polish colour on your nails just by snapping a photo of your hand!

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This completely takes out that connundrum of trying to choose a polish at the salon but hating it as soon as it's applied on a few nails, but it's too late to turn back! I've frequently chosen a pink that was to pearly, or a nude that turned out to channel a corpse vibe on my pale skin. It helped me go totally off piste and choose a super dark navy blue. I've never had a colour like this but the shade made the most of my little nails and didn't wash out my skin tone.

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I'd had my acrylics taken off that morning and it highlighted the best thing about The Hand and Foot Spa. A brand new nail kit is used for each customer, including every instrument from file to metal clippers. You even get to take the kit home with you, making your manicure stretch as far as your purse! What a genius idea and such a luxury.

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My sessions really flew by as my nails were primped and preened. Years of acrylics meant they were super thin and bendy, but they were rounded off, buffed and treated to a glorious hand massage with the spa's own natural hand cream. Then came a warm paraffin wax treatment inside these gloves that were pre-heated, giving the type of relaxation you can only achieve from a warm bubble bath.

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One SUPER shiny manicure later and my nails were showing no sign of the years of abuse from the electric drill! Smooth and glossy, with hands that were beyond hydrated, this truly is a manicure that goes to the next level. A week on and despite a few chips around my weak tips, they're still as shiny as ever.

You can book in yourself via The Beauty Workshop on 0121 600 6718. A visit would make a great Mother's Day gift too!


Ibiza in October Diaries #3 | San Antonio Beach & Cafe Mambo

I could SO jet off on a beach getaway right about now! These pictures are totally making me dream of summer. It's the third instalment of my Ibiza holiday and our second full day was sunny and warm. Around 25 degrees to be exact! Perfect. We were set for our first beach day, and I just had to go straight to the nearest shop and buy a huge blue lilo. Beach bags packed and hair bunned up, we set off to the sea!

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Our hotel was literally on San Antonio beach so we grabbed breakfast before walking along the sea to a slightly nicer stretch of sand. I imagine this beach is packed full in high season but it was very quiet while we settling onto the sand with a few Coronas. There was a sweet beachy vibe but no lairy groups or pumping music, which suited us fine! It's not the greatest beach in terms of clear water or an absence of litter, and I assume it could be hit and miss at busier times, but a splash in the sea was all we called for. We took some great self-timer shots but I won't share bikini photos of my friends here!

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I'm not even going to share a full-on bikini photo of myself as it felt a little TMI, but the new bikini I took was so lush! I spotted the brand Boho Rose on Instagram and the fluorescent coral hue of this set won my heart. All bikinis are hand made in a stretch, shirred-style fabric that is super comfortable and thick, yet the cut is seriously flattering. With a cool high-cut hip and at least ten different bra shapes to choose from, I'd so recommend this brand! I'd really like an acid yellow set for this summer, or the apple green.

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The day quickly ran away with us and we vowed to be ready for 6ish to catch the sunset at the Cafe Mambo closing party. I had looked at booking a table before the trip but there was a €100 deposit so we chanced it. I wore this PrettyLittleThing set I've had for a few years but never actually wore due to the tiny amount of material it is! It's a wash of minty pastels and so pretty.

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We made the sunset right on time and Cafe Mambo was much more laid back than I had anticipated. We walked straight in and spotted a free table as we queued for the bar. It was only after we ate dinner there too that we realised just how lucky it was to walk right in and get a table for food without a reservation, and apparently we had walked past a huge queue and just strolled right in! I just thought the crowds outside were milling around but it turns out there was some sort of door check and we'd been none the wiser.

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A few more cocktails and the music really got started, but it wasn't quite our style. No matter how long I could spend in Ibiza, house music is just not my jam! We stayed until late and walked back through the West End, popping into a few bars that promised to be absolutely heaving after midnight. A week or so before and the nightlife may have been still alive, but most places were shut by mid October. We were soon back at the hotel of pensioners, getting a few hours sleep before another beach day tomorrow.


New Square Mother's Day Challenge

Last week I took part in a rather a unique challenge with my mom! Yes, we say mom here in the Midlands, ha! New Square West Bromwich invited us to shop it up a storm and style each other in a spring outfit. My mom has so much personal style and mixes Topshop or Urban Outfitters with vintage threads. I knew the challenge would be easy peasy though as there's every essential store at New Square; Outfit and River Island for a new season statement, and even Primark and H&M for a fast fashion treat. The challenge was in aid of Mother's Day as we're all hunting for a gift the she really wants that isn't a tea towel or bath salts at the moment!

We had a budget of £150 to gather an entire outfit including shoes and accessories in two hours, but first we fueled up at the new Turquoise Kitchen restaurant. It's a huge space with gorgeous authentic Turkish chandeliers and plenty of mezze and grills to choose from on huge platters. We had a mixture of hummus, seafood and salad dishes for lunch, and dove in with a huge lavas bread fresh from the oven. It was authentically moreish and so tasty; if it wasn't lunch time we could have kept dipping and snacking with endless bread! Every sauce and dip was delicious.

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Satisfied and ready to go, we hit the shops in a flurry. There are so many new spring trends to choose, from fun applique and gingham frills, to oversized striped shirts and shredded denim. We hit just about every store, from Claire's to Pandora, and it was fun to pull items we didn't first gravitate towards for each other. Once we had the skeleton set of the outfit, we hunted statement heels and fist fulls of embellished accessories.

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My outfit began with a gorgeous embroidered Topshop shirt with scalloped detailing and this season's famed bell sleeves. If you buy anything this season, make it a detailed sleeve! It's such an easy spring upgrade. My mom brightened this up with this bright River Island mini skirt with a scalloped edge in a very subtle faux suede texture - she's all about vintage-style materials. I wouldn't have gone for a metallic bag but this River Island satchel acted as another hue to keep the outfit from being too formal. I love this Claire's headband embellished with pearls, crystals and gold. It's so Gossip Girl! And the Primark choker and cuffs enhanced the shirt by again keeping it more casual.

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These River Island jewelled sandals weren't my first choice but they are so pretty on and inspire me to be a little more fun with my shoes. They're my least favourite thing to buy as I find it hard to choose pairs that suit all of my outfits, but actually these bling beauties go with more than you'd think!

For my mom I chose a pair of River Island grey high waisted trousers as her usual uniform is skirts and dresses. She said these were super comfy and perfect for work and dressing up so they were a win! Instead of a blouse, this Miss Selfridge denim top has the cold shoulder detailing that makes it so SS17 but can be teamed with so many other prints and fabrics too. A few long strand Claire's necklaces added a touch of her boho vibes, and these bright orange Dorothy Perkins sandals were the perfect heel to add a pop of colour and a punch to the whole outfit.

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It was such a fun afternoon, I so miss shopping with your mom when you were 13 in Tammy Girl. These outfits were photographed below for the Express and Star newspaper so keep your eyes peeled for that. You can also win a £100 voucher for your mom to spend on a shopping spree this Mother's Day here

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Follow New Square here on Twitter and Facebook here for more competitions, news and ideas for Mother's Day.


Ibiza Out of Season Diaries #2 | Dinner at Eivissa Castle

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It's that time of the year when winter festivities are firmly packed away and you're realising one can never own too many bikinis. Here is the next instalment of my Ibiza trip last year after a breezy flight and first night adventures, and it was our first full day! After leaving the land that was closing down for winter, it felt like we had a second chance at summer as we awoke to blue skies, warm air and the promise of that Ibiza magic. First agenda: breakfast! With only one night down, we passed upon the breakfast at our Hotel Arenal as it was clear it was an over 50s affair. A programme of show dancers and a magician in the evening, plus various OAPs in hotel towels sitting back on plastic chairs, revealed that either the party season had long ended, or we were certainly in ancient accommodation!

The best thing was the proximity to San Antonio beach and we strolled along the pretty much empty sands to a nearby classic greasy spoon with a sea view, right next to a KFC. It's clear San Antonio has every fast food joint you could wish for when you're abroad with the lads, lads, lads, and that was cool with us. As I mentioned in my last post, we really chose Ibiza on a whim and I was so ready for an easy, breezy ride. One of our only planned activity days was to visit Ibiza town so we hopped on a nearby bus and was soon at the capital. 

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A definite upgrade from San Antonio's startling booze cruise advertisements and 2-for-1 fish bowls, the town has a rustic, Mediterranean vibe with pretty pastel apartments and a port untouched by under age tourists. We couldn't help stopping by Pull & Bear and Berksha, and I observed what seemed to be the island 'locals'; those with deep tans, threaded hair braids and tie dyed clothes.

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The first goal was to climb Eivissa Castle for the sunset; the beautiful highlight Ibiza is known for. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this holiday was packing a small case exclusively of bright, summery clothes! Wearing these Missguided flares in Ibiza was the perfect place, and all of my festival floral crowns came in perfectly handy. My legs look freakishly long here due to my lens! 

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It's a surprisingly quick stroll along the cobbles to reach the 360 degree views from the top of the castle. We took in the views during dusk and could truly appreciate we were on such a small drop of an island in the gorgeous Balearic sea. I loved the beauty of a relaxed vibe and not having a 'holiday' in a rushed city with an overwhelming itinerary. 

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We wandered back down towards the centre, where the edges of castle are bursting with charming, open fronted restaurants with chalked menus on wooden plaques leaning against white walls. We chose La Oliva and a few glasses of Spanish wine perfectly complimented the fresh fish on offer. I love quaint restaurants that have beautiful, delicate dishes in a rustic, casual setting.

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I had the sea bass followed by a crème brûlée, which is fast becoming my go-to dessert. Despite the pudding, it was an extremely light and fresh dinner, made even more atmospheric by the falling daylight into a balmy evening of eating and drinking outdoors on the cobbled streets as passersby lazily strolled on. On a city break it's often hard to sift the best restaurants from the tourist-calling, laminated menu offerings that you always tend to plump for. This was such a treat to dine leisurely with friends and enjoy a relaxed evening meal!

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We headed back towards the bus stops, stopping off for one drink along the way as the town had such a perfect vibe. Once returned to the hotel, I experienced another pro of beach holidays. It literally took a shower, quick smoky eye and highlight, a party dress and soon we were ready to head out again and felt great. I wore a Boohoo dress that can only be reserved for a place that you spend most of the time wearing a tiny bikini anyway, as it's literally pants with a few strips of material here and there, and off we went off to the West End! I explained in my previous post but this is essentially the strip of San Antonio, Ibiza's party town. Our hotel was a quick stroll there in the warm evening air, so we arrived to the criss-crossing streets lined with bars raring to go. 

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Unfortunately the bars themselves were not... as in they were all closed. We wandered around, looking right and left for some signs of life or sounds of a bass, until we turned a corner and saw Soho's, the bar we had visited last night! It was their summer closing party (not quite in an epic proportion though) and all drinks were 1€. ALL DRINKS. Despite it being a crowd inside of around 40, the place was filled quite nicely and again we had the mercy of the DJ. A million requests later, the DJ had his hands in the air as Faithless blasted out to our modestly sized adoring crow, and we made friends with just about everyone. Sadly my floor length dress was not the item to wear in a bar that was attempting to drain every liquid in the place as by the end of the night, the hem was literally sodden by about a metre in whatever was on that floor. Nice. I literally left it to soak for about a week before washing it 20 times once I had brought it back home in it's own shameful bag. Never the less, a hilarious night!

And if you can't wait for all of the gossip from the other nights, my vlog is live! Would you consider an Ibiza visit?


Browns | Bullring, Birmingham

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My friends and I are realising the joy of midweek evenings. Of course we still see the weekend as the unmissable chance to see each other and let the working week slip away with the help of a cocktail and a dance floor, but now that is not enough. Five days is simply too long to trudge home after work, still holding the jumble of deadlines and delegations in your mind, while pondering if that dented tin of soup is still at the back of the cupboard. No, we need a pick-me-up in the middle of our working week to save hump day from being an excuse to dig out the takeaway menus. We need a real catch up to talk through the highs and tolls that life brings with each Monday, and we also need that Friday night of good food and chat before heading off to loud, distracting bars.
 
This is when we swoop upon the restaurants of Birmingham and have that initial conundrum of choosing our destination. I was offered an evening for two at Browns Brasserie and Bar, nestled warmly in Bullring's Spiceal Street; the central hub surrounded by the vibrant architecture of St. Martin's Church and the Selfridges silver domes. It was a case of knowing exactly where it was but never having had it pop into my mind as a destination to head to. 
 
With a thrilled pal in tow, we were welcomed into the sophisticated space, warmly lit with cosy corners and an open view onto the vast church. Stylish and contemporary, this is a perfect date place. A spacious table plan, flattering lighting and a soft ambience ticks all of my date night boxes!
I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive menu. Alongside a dedicated limited edition tender beef menu that my friend appreciated, the options across the starters and sharers made way for light mains, mains and grills. And many will be happy to note this includes gluten free options such as lobster and fries, and vegan options such as courgette, mint & lemon tagliatelle, to name but a few. I had earlier surrendered to the temptation of looking at the menu online before arriving as my new favourite thing is to choose our dish during the day so you can look forward to it! I was day dreaming of the whole baked Somerset Camembert but the variety of the Fisherman's platter trumped all other dishes. Severn & Wye smoked salmon, salt & pepper squid, Devon crab on toast, British mussels, and warm toasted bread. The bread was indeed warm, the salmon was indeed smoked, and the platter was certainly worthy of any fisherman's prize offering. I think with seafood you either love it or you steer clear, and this starter is for the seafood appreciation society. We accompanied this with the light feta salad, with the variety of tomatoes being a colourful twist.
 
 
Onto the mains. Oh what a revelation this lobster was! I'm now a lobster fan and I'm willing to share this with the internet. I had never tried lobster before! I feel the opportunity had never crossed my path and that is rather tragic! Despite the Browns signature cheesy fish pie and the sea bass generously accompanied by a stew of prawns, mussels and squid, I feel lobster is having it's moment right now and I had to get on board, mind the pun. It was a fresh, light, delicious treat and the perfect portion with perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside chips and a mayonnaise with an avocado twist. I'm a lobster convert!
 
 
My friend opted for the steak and gave it beyond full marks. Browns have their own British farms to rear their own cattle so you can trust in the source of your steak.
 
Could we fit in any more food? There's always room for dessert! The menu was a struggle. Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel profiteroles, caramelised lemon tart, or my current favourite, creme brulee? Decisions, decisions! But something called me to the banoffee pie with caramelised banana and chocolate popping candy. That certainly gave a subtle tingle to the rich caramel sauce and sugary white icing of the pie. It was like the best birthday cake with a gooey banana side and it completely disappeared from this plate! My friend opted for the chocolate brownie with the huge dollop of honeycomb ice cream and toffee sauce and was equally pleased.
 
Put Browns on your agenda and prepare for a perfectly satisfying evening. It's going to stay on my list for date options and also as a great option for family visits or group outings! Not forgetting to thank our super helpful waiter Domas for looking after us too!