C is for… #AlphabetDating

C is for dinner at Cau (complete with Churros for dessert!) and a night at a Comedy Club! This was a fun night out, doing something we’d never done before which is kind of part of this challenge! 

So far so good… but we’re struggling for ideas for ‘D’! Any suggestions? 

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B is for… #AlphabetDating

B is for Brunch at Bella Italia (breakfast pizza 😍🍕) and a lovely walk and trip to see the animals at Beale Park 

 

My absolute favourites had to be the baby meerkats- I really wanted to bring one home with me! They were just so cute and curious, running around the making adorable squeaking noises

🌿🍃

17 books in 2017

I used to love reading, and I still do but mostly just on holiday now! I’d like to make more of an effort to read more, and watch less horrendously trashy, IQ depleting television…

 

So 17 books in 2017 seems like a good challenge to set myself!

I’ve made a good start already- 7 weeks into 2017 and I’ve already made my way through two new books;

First up was Baby Doll by Holly Overton.  I saw this advertised on the underground and was intrigued, so I ordered it on Amazon for my kindle.  I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s a quite gripping psychological thriller about a woman who was kidnapped.  The twist is that the story starts with her escape. There are certainly enough twists and turns (some more predictable than others) to keep the pace moving quickly and I did enjoy the somewhat bittersweet ending.

My second book of the year is certainly a more acquired taste- Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley.  This is one I’ve been meaning to read for a long time but hadn’t quite got around to, as I love Gone with the Wind.  In this novel the story picks up where Gone with the Wind ended- but written by a different author decades later.  Alexandra Ripley’s style of writing is not unlike that of the original by Margaret Mitchell.  It’s certainly quite a long book, at 848 pages, but I did persevere.  It doesn’t really feel to me like closure to the story of Scarlett O’Hara… I think it is best viewed as a standalone novel on it’s own rather than a sequel.

Any recommendations for my next read of 2017?

 

 

DietBet Challenge : Lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks

I’m always interested to hear about something new when it comes to dieting and losing weight. Something I’ve heard about a lot recently on Instagram , which seems to be more popular in the US, is dietbet. 

The basic premise is this ; you weigh in on the start date – providing your weight, a full body image of you standing on the scale and an image of the scale (and your feet) with a code word you are given written on a piece of paper. This is to make it more difficult for people to cheat! 

I weighed in today, placed my bet ($25 = roughly £20 in today’s terrible exchange rate…), sent in my photos (which were approved within minutes) via the iPhone app. All that remains now is to lose 4% of my body weight by the 12 March and I’ll be a winner! The total pot is currently sitting at just over €8000 dollars and will be split between the players who manage to hit their goal (minus a fee taken by the website of course!) 

I’ll be following my usual weight loss routine; slimming world and exercising twice a week (clubbercise on a Wednesday night and Zumba on a Saturday morning). I think this will be a great way to keep myself motivated ahead of the 2 holidays I have coming up in April and May. 

I’ll let you know in March if I hit my goal, and win myself some dolla$$$! 

Amsterdam

Next up on our European adventure… two nights in Amsterdam!

We stayed in the fun and colourful Art Hotel Amsterdam, just a ten minute bus ride from the city centre. Amsterdam was so easy to explore, with this hotel acting as a great base but far enough away from the centre to not be full of drunken stag and hens!


We enjoyed a couple of days exploring the city, from wandering along its many famed canals to an eye opening meander through the red light district (even during the day time there were certainly still some sights!). We visited the Dutch Resistance Museum which provided a real insight into the role of the Netherlands in WW2. We also enjoyed shopping at their fabulous department store De Bijenkorf – the roof top cafe has some amazing views and some even better cakes! We rounded off the trip with a delicious meal at Gaucho – steak to die for, a must do for any carnivore. 


All in all, we really enjoyed exploring another new city! Our next stop was probably be favourite of our trip… 

£50 per month shopping challenge


Hello. My name is Nicola, and I’m a shopaholic.And I’m not even sorry! 

I do however know deep down that it would be more sensible to save my money (for things like holidays, spa days and new houses…) rather than frivolously  spending it all on shoes and handbags. That’s why I agreed to a challenge posed by a friend – a maximum budget of £50 per month for clothes, shoes and make up.  It doesn’t sound too difficult, but it’s all too easy to fritter cash away, and I think this will really help me keep track of all those little purchases that really add up. We are going to be keeping each other accountable throughout the month, which will help I think!

I’ve already got my eyes on few things this month… new workout clothes, a chunky cable knit sweater and the cutest spring flats I spotted the other week… I think that might be the budget bust already!

I will post a February round up and let you see how I got on! 

Bruges & Brussels

I didn’t really know what to expect from Belgium.  I’ll be honest and say that it’s not somewhere that had previously rated highly on my list of places to visit.  Yet we started our eurotrip here, and I was left both surprised and enchanted by the peace and charm of the country, and of Bruges in particular.

Taking just 2 hours from St Pancras to Brussels Midi, this was our first trip on the Eurostar and we found the journey pleasant and straightforward.  We travelled in standard class, and it was simply a question of checking in, boarding and relaxing.  Before we knew it we had arrived at Brussels Midi station, where we caught a train on to Bruges- a journey that takes around an hour- for our first overnight stop of the trip.


We stayed in the Martin’s Relais hotel, a beautiful converted 17th century canal house just a short walk from the Market Square of Bruge.  We found the location excellent, although we did get a little lost on an after dinner stroll by the canal! However, this allowed us to see a lot of this beautiful little city.  When we visited it was quiet, with very few tourists to be seen, and I would definitely recommend visiting in off peak periods when you have room to enjoy the city free of crowds.


We also paid a visit to the chocolate museum Choco Story, and enjoyed learning about how chocolate is made and Belgium’s relationship with chocolate as it is today.  As one would expect, there were free samples, so I would recommend for any visitors with a sweet tooth.


After a couple of days enjoying tranquility of Bruges, we made our way back to the capital city- Brussels.

In Brussels we stayed in the Motel One– a modern design hotel that was a world away from our previous accomodation! It was also in a great location, within walking distance of the Grand-Place and famed Manneken Pis statue.


The aforementioned statue was the one thing I particularly wanted to see on my visit to Brussels, as I remember as a child my dad telling me the story and of how he had visited Brussels as a youth and gone to see the statue; which he told me was dressed up at the time. In truth, I was a little underwhelmed, as I didn’t expect the statue to be so small- I don’t know why, but I was expecting something grander! My disappointment was forgotten however when we walked in to the Grand-Place… such beautiful architecture wherever you looked.


We couldn’t leave Belgium without trying a waffle (any excuse), so we spent our last night there trying their beers (husband) and eating far too much sugar (both of us..) before we headed off to our next destination… Amsterdam.

 

LFW ’15 Purchases

Temptation comes in many forms at London Fashion Weekend, which bills itself as London’s biggest designer shopping event.  From Maybelline to Moschino, there is something for everyone.  Don’t expect much at the lower end of that pay scale.. but there are certainly bargains to be had if you look! I’d definitely recommend booking tickets for the last day, like I did.  Lots of designers/vendors were offering discounts and I even heard some brave souls attempting to haggle, so you may well get an even better deal.

Cambridge Satchel Company were worth a look, with decent discounts and free embossing.  I popped in to see what they had, as I’m a big fan of the quality of their work (we have recently purchased a gorgeous steamer trunk  from them which is just beautifully made).  Unfortunately they didn’t have the colour of their large satchel that I was looking for (pink.. obviously).  They did have their new ‘Peanuts’ collection, which was nice to see in the flesh.  Some fun choices for younger fashionista but I think their prices may still put off that target market.

Somerset House (the LFW venue) has a fabulous book shop at the best of times, so I had to pop in to indulge my guilty habit of collecting fashion books.  I picked up Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat which I have been wanting to get my hands on for a while (self confessed cat lady here!) and the first of my two bargains of the day- Valentino- Master of Couture (hardback) for the princely sum of £2.50! With an RRP of £30 I just had to take it home!

Last purchase of the day is a beauty, and I’m almost sad that spring is just around the corner because I won’t be able to wear it as much! Luckily, there’s always the grim Scottish weather to rely on in trips home, where my winter wardrobe can sometimes be needed in July! I bought this Pretty White Lies black faux fur bunny jacket.  As you can see it’s sold out online in the black, but it is available in the grey if you love it as much as I do.  I went back and forth on buying this but in the end went for it when I saw they had only one size small left on the rail! I paid £40 for it and went away delighted.  Later, when googling for it for a picture to send my mum, I discovered the original price of £220 and sale price of £110 and I’m even more glad I bought it now! It even passed approval with my husband (who knows nothing about fashion and insists on making jokes about pirates and asking me where my parrot is whenever I wear my Alexander McQueen skull scarf… bless him) I’m off out for afternoon tea next weekend and I’m finding myself hoping it isn’t too warm to wear it, so I know that I am going to get a lot of use out of this gorgeous faux fur.

SIBLING @ LFW SS15

Never understated, always fun- SIBLING is a London based designer launched in 2008. A collaboration between three friends, they started with menswear and now the label has grown substantially. They have worked with Children in Need and Disney… What’s not to love? 

Trademarks of the brand include breton stripes, leopard and bright neons. Today’s show was no exception to this with a cascade of colour, sequins and pattern, set to Madonna holiday.

I was in the front row for their show today, the closing show of London Fashion Weekend 2015.  The fun designs and upbeat music made for a highly entertaining show. I’m left wondering if I can work a giant bow hat into my wardrobe…