Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Still time for a festival

The summer feels like it's slipping away far too quickly, but fear not the summer festivals are still very much in full swing.  With this in mind I've decided to create a little shopping list of musts to take with you.

You can't obviously pack the world when going to a festival, because unlike going on holiday you can't cart a case through the field... it all goes on your back.  With that in mind you need to pack items that have been carefully considered and more importantly versatile.

What to pack

You will always need a small side bag for your purse and phone - ideally something you can zip up. 

Denim shorts are a must as you can take different tops and wear the same shorts

Vest tops/tshirts
take 3-4 different ones as you can team these up with your staple denim shorts

Welly boots
 You can't go wrong!  You know it will rain at somepoint... 

Same reason as above!

Take a few different kinds as these will make your outfits a bit different

It might get chilly later on

I love to take my onesie with me as I always get so cold in a tent at night.
Festival ready
As you can see above this is the sort of outfit ideas I had... if you like my selection above check out where to get them below

Bag - Oliver Bonas Festival Macrame Bag - SALE £12.50
Boots- Topshop MUD Jelly Boots - SALE £12.00
Nail polish - Nails Inc Festival Silver - £12.00

Onto nightwear... now I made myself swear that the next time I went to a festival I would pack something warm to wear in bed.  I can't stand being stuck in a tent and cold!  This actually also applies to when you go camping but a onesie is your best friend in these situations
Festival bedtime
You can get up and go to the toilet in the middle of the night if needed without looking like a fool... or freezing further! Genius. 

I have a new one from OnePiece that is a paisley pattern - perfect for festivals this season.  It's nice and light for summer but warm enough that you won't freeze in your tent!

This particular snazzy onesie was so popular it sold out... Boo! But fear not there are numerous you can chose from and you can get an amazing 15% discount with my EXCLUSIVE discount code. (If it's not working let me know!)


There you have some good little pointers for packing for a festival this summer.  Off to any that are coming up?  I know we have Creamfields this weekend - are you heading up to it?  

Annie xoxo

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Exclusive chocolate making evening with Paul A.Young

 As I'm getting increasingly closer to my 30's I've began to realise I should of appreciated things more.  What I mean is when you are at school most of us aren't thankful for the many possibilities of learning, for example I wish I'd taken more interest in textiles or maybe even learning more about how to cook properly... but I didn't at all I just coasted my way through unsure.
Learning to make truffles
I'm all about learning now and anything I can do to add a string to my personal portfolio or to my CV, I'm all for!  Considering all this I was of course going to snap up the chance to learn how to make chocolate truffles, not only would I learn a new skill... I'd be feeding my chocoholic needs!
how to make truffles
Taking place at paul.a.young's chocolate shop in Soho, Paul himself was going to guide us through the world of fine chocolates.  

We would be taken on a journey from the bean to the bar, looking at single origin, single bean varieties and rare unique chocolates.  He would then demonstrate some of the key skills in how to create our very own truffles! I couldn't wait...
Paul A young's London
 I arrived in Soho and entered Paul's shop, I couldn't believe how wonderful it smelt (I wanted to eat everything) and how many varieties of chocolates were available to purchase.  

We were soon escorted down to the kitchen where I fitted my gorgeous headwear for the evening (I looked like a dinner lady!) and got ready for some chocolate action.  
After Paul introduced himself and his work colleague Cesar, we began discovering a variety of flavours by tasting beans from across the globe and different chocolate combination.  It was fascinating to learn so many new things about this delicious dark sweetness, that I'd spent so much time eating without giving a second thought.  
chocolate making course
As the workshop commenced I got chatting to Paul.  I discovered he used to be a chef at Marco Pierre White and then worked for both M&S and Sainsburys in product development, before opening his first boutqiue chocolate shop.  For someone who is so famous in the chocolatiering world he was extremely down to earth, lovely to speak to and most of all a very patient teacher! 

After we'd got an understanding of chocolate and how paul.a.young's salted caramel was crowned best in the world... we began the best bit... the making of the chocolate truffles.
 After Paul gave a demonstration of how they make fine chocolates in store, we got a chance to get our hands covered in chocolate and create our very own truffles to take home.
I think my favourite part was actually the decorating as I may have got carried away with the shimmer! I won't lie I so enjoyed the chocolate truffles... but couldn't eat another bit of chocolate after the workshop.
Having a partner who used to be a head chef I know how much paperwork they need to get through each day, but I was really surprised to discover Paul and his team didn't do that.  

I queried where there paperwork was but it turned out that Paul used the Intel tablets, apparently the use of the modern technology has completely changed his company...check the video below.

One main thing I took away from the paul.a.young chocolate truffle making was how much time and effort goes into their creation.  I did like the fact that everything is natural and therefore chocolates won't last for months, (unlike those you buy in normal supermarkets) it just emphasised how special these chocolates really are.
I gave my truffles as a treat to my fiance as it's been a standing joke that since we got together, (7 years ago) that I never cook for him... so I gave him some delicious chocolates... and only pinched two! 

If you fancy having a go at one of Paul's workshops check out the paul.a.young events page


Monday, 18 August 2014

One Aldwych Hotel; Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

One Aldywch afternoon tea
It all started the last time I was at One Aldywch hotel having lunch at Indigo, when I spotted a tray of mouth-watering treats being taken to a table in the bar area below.  What was that? I recall asking the waiter, he told me it was the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory inspired afternoon tea. From that moment I knew I just had to try it...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Boutique Blowdry & Braids at the Parlour London

Hairsalon Parlour
Whenever I come to London I'm always overwhelmed with the wide range of blow dry bars available.  How do you even begin to select where to go?

I had planned an awesome girls weekend away with my lovely friend Jodes.  She was leaving me and moving to Abu Dhabi so it seemed the perfect opportunity to plan some pampering things for a fun weekend in London.  
I decided it's always such a treat to get your hair done, and after having a hunt about I found The Parlour hair salon.  Unlike the standard blowdry bar, you could get a wide selection of boho braids done.  I'm in love with having my hair in some kind of braid as I tend to have a french plait on a daily basis.

The Parlour is a very vintage chic salon that not only does the normal cut and colours, it also provides updos and (something I must go back and try) an amazing workshop that teaches you how to blowdry and style your hair like a professional... plus they have cake and cocktails included!  Ideal for a girls weekend or maybe a hen do.
There is honestly so many boho styles to select from that it was quite a challenge to chose!  You can get a braid style created in around 10 minutes if you decide not to go for the blowdry package, which is basically where you get your hair washed, blow dried and styled.  It's £20 without blowdry and £45 with.
braid updo
I loved my hair and for such an amazing bargain I felt very ready for a nightout! I got chatting the owner Jacqueline who told me the salon have been shortlisted as Hairdressing Salon of the Year in the London Lifestyle Awards. Get voting!
What a treat it was and mine and Jodes hair looked and felt amazing! The staff were very friendly and clearly passionate about their work.  If you're looking for a London hair treat I really do recommend visiting The Parlour... as it says it's not your average salon. 


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Mercer Street, London

Buried amongst the hustle and bustle of Covent, along the cobbled side streets in the surrounding of the boutique shop and delightful cafés is the Radisson Mercer Street
A pleasant stroll of about 5-6 minutes from Covent Garden tube, the hotel is located on the corner of what is a mini roundabout but looks like a pedestrianised area. 

I will be honest I didn't actually realise it was the hotel I was looking for as there was a tree in the way of the main sign.  In someways this made me like it more... It felt exclusive and almost tranquil amongst the busy streets of London.

The bedrooms
The hotel has a 137 bedrooms each with a touch screen card reader, flat screen TV and free wifi throughout. 

The room  I was in was compact but designed in a simplistic way that it made it feel spacious, however rich luxurious textured fabrics made it feel cosy and inviting.  Strawberries and home made cookies were left on the table as a welcome gift, and soft towelled dressing gowns sat eagerly waiting in the wardrobe.  It felt like a place of calm amongst the hectic London life. 
The bathroom was smooth with marble tiles and a slim white bath complete with shower unit.  The shower itself was nice and powerful with a selection of toiletries and big soft towels to use.  Exactly what is needed after a long morning shower!

The room was as I said quite compact but that is generally what happens with hotels in London around popular places.  The majority of people wont stay in their hotel  all day when visiting because there is so much to do, but it will simply be a base for the towing and frowning. 

The hotel, location and staff
The lobby was simplistic, clean, light elegant floors with dramatic artist sculpture dotted sporadically in the entrance area.  I probably should of said that the hotel has a collaboration with the Tate Modern, which I am fully aware some artists pieces delivered from this particular gallery aren't to everyones taste but these just seemeed worked.  A fine balance between daring yet uber trendy, especially with the colours and grandness of some of the creations. I must admit I was mainly fond of the over sized chair and the fringed golden sheep... Sounds quite crackers but as I say it just worked. 

The hotel does have a gym but it's very minimal but having a large gym/pool would perhaps be a waste?  If you're in London site seeing would you want the gym?
The hotel isn't as large as some places as it's in one of London's hotspots but the hotel make use of every space without cramming too much in.  They clearly play on colours and fabrics to make it look bigger than it is and in no way did it feel over crowded, it also meant you didn't get lost! Always handy. 
The staff on arrival were all very friendly and extremely attentive without being too much.  The kind concierge staff we eager to assist with the doors and also take your luggage to your room.  I was in a in a superior room that even though didn't overlook a glorious landscape (back of the building) it was so quiet considering the location. 
Around the cobbled streets outside are all the theatres and the wonderful intriguing  cafés and restaurants.  St Martins Courtyard is a stones throw away and full of easy (yet delicious) places to eat, but if you didn't want to venture out the hotel has it's own restaurant called Scoff and Banter. I can't comment on its evening food but the breakfast was fantastic. 
The night in the hotel was very peaceful with no disturbances until around 7am.  It perhaps wouldn't be the case for everyone but my room was located right next to the housekeeping door, unfortunately they started working early so there was quite a bit of noise.  This wasn't obscene and I only think it was picked up on because of the time, and the fact my room shared a wall. 

The food
The breakfast was located in Scoff & Banter and hosted by a team of happy attentive staff.  It was by far the best way to get up for breakfast - you are literally spoilt for choice. 

A selection of cereals, (including build your own with nuts and seeds) pastries, salmon, ham, fresh fruit, freshly baked bread, smoothies, juice and of course teas and coffee. 
You could have something hot cooked to order as well, with a tasty selection to chose from.  I'm really pleased they didn't have a buffet because sometimes that can bring a hotel breakfast down, having items cooked to order makes you feel almost special.  

There was unfortunately a down pour of water in the bar area next to us, which according to members of staff it was due to a shower/bath over flow.  The staff were extremely apologetic and tried their best to rectify the situation calmly, although when leaving breakfast there was no sign to indicate wet floor and the sheet laid down to catch the water was still there after the water had stopped.  It's only a small thing but a sign would of been handy. 

Overall I'd say that if you're wanting to see London at a leisurely pace then this is the hotel for you.  I'd definitely say it's somewhere you'll want to be if you aiming to relax and indulge in London at a slower base, take in the bistros, the boutique and stroll about the cobbled streets and theatres nearby.  I found that I hardly had to use the underground because everything was in close walking distance, which was a huge bonus and down to the wonderful hotel location.  A standard room rate from £189 makes this a very reasonable hotel in such a sought after area... it gets the Annie Bean stamp of approval!



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