5 Things to do in Tuscany

This holiday was a press trip hosted by Bookings For You. Some of activities featured in this post have been gifted (marked with *) however all words and opinions are (as always) 100% mine.

And so we get to the final post about my Italian advertures… It’s really all over now. Sob.

BUT – I do get to share some of the fabulous things I did, saw and (my favourite) tasted, so if you’re heading to Tuscany inthe future you know some of the great things to experience in the area.

  • Take a food tour

One of the key reasons I wanted to visit Italy was to eat, so having someone show me the best places to do it made perfect sense!

We did the Private Florence Food Tour courtesy of LivItaly* which consisted of four stops.

The first was wine and nibbles at Enoteca Alessi and I legit have never seen a room so filled with alcohol in my life… (check out the Italy 2019 story highlight on my Instagram to get a better view) It was quite the work of art really.

As well as some the region’s best Chianti, I was introduced to mushroom and truffle oil sandwiches, yummy local cheeses and THE BEST pork I’ve ever tasted.

Next up we stopped at a local street food vendor that’s been established for decades to try something a little different. The picture below is what I had – a crusty bread roll with seasoned tripe which was delicious (there were also veggie options available for those in our group who had flagged this in advance).

Moving on to a sit down mini feast (with more wine, hic) at Aqua Al 2 whic is a great little eatery off a one of the side streets decorate with fairly lights and plates designed and signed by previous celebrity visitors.

Everything we ate here was meat free, and we had three dishes – this deliciously simple pasta made with thick noodles, garlic, tomato, basil and oil, an eggplant/spinach/parmesan dish (I can’t remember the remember the name) and (something else I’ve forgotten the name of) a dish of fresh tomatoes seasoned with oil and basil that I gratuitously spread on fresh bread. Everything tasted so rich, delicious and comforting, which is what I’d hoped Italian food would be.

We rounded off the tour with dessert – gelato in the main Piazza.

This place is well known for their blackberry flavour, however I wanted to have somethind traditionally Tuscan so the staff selected me a combo of Italian cream and chocolate in a cone.

Our guide Rafaella was just the best, by the end of the day I was calling her Mama Italia and asking her to adopt me (which she seemed very amenable to) she was so kind an knowledgeable and genuinely keen to ensure we had a great day.

  • Take an art class

So this one probably sounds like it caters to a very specific interest, and it definitely can, but we had the opportunity to do something that was easy to follow and therefore we’ll within my cabaility.

The lovely Lisa from Arte Al Sole introduced us to a Canadian artist called Jen who took us through the process of Florentine paper making. This basically involved dropping paint into water, making pretty patterns and transferring them onto paper (I’m leaving out a lot of the technical bit in this discription).

I end up doing three ‘prints’ as I kept seeing everyone else’s colour combinations and wanting to copy! I’ve brought all of them home and will definitely be finding a place for them on my walls.

(Its also worth mentioning that Arte Al Sole offer a lot of family, kids and private art and cultural experiences throughout Italy; including those where they’ll take your little ones away to activities for a little bit whilst you enjoy the culture and surroundings, uninterrupted.)

  • Enjoy a wine tasting

As we were staying on a vineyard, it would’ve been rude not to sample the Mansalto Toscano produce!

Francesca, who was also our main contact and host for the villa, introduced us to their Chianti and rose brut prosecco.

This is without exception the best prosecco I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve already reached out to Francesca to arrange to buy and ship some of it back to the UK.

As an extra treat, we also met one of the wine makers who gave us a tour of the wine cellar.

This may be one of the last times the general public are allowed in the barrel room – apparently having people in there can risk bacteria contaminating the wine which could alter the taste, and I think we can all agree it’d be a shame to let some bloody good grapes to waste by doing that.

  • Learn how to cook the real Italian way

Its all very well eating your way around Italy, but if you also learn a few culinary tips then you can bring the magic home to your own kitchen!

Thanks to the very kind Massimo, we visited his restaurant Massimo Rossi Belvedere to try our hand at a bit of pasta making. We tried a few different varieties such as lasagne, ravioli and tagliatelle, all of which the Belvedere chefs cooked for us (as well as add delicious sauces) for us to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

I’m going to be honest and say that this was not my strongest skill of the week (I’d also started to get really poorly so was a shivering, blubbering wreck) however I clocked the gals who did well in preparation for a future dinner invitations. I also learnt how to make lasagne the real Italian way (no pasta top, parmesan in every layer) which I’ve since tried at home.

Massimo’s generosity bookmarked both ends of our visit – on the first night of our stay he sent Paolo, one of his chefs, to our villa to cater our very own pizza party. And my word, the man knows how to put a topping on a nice bit of dough. I know I’ve said this a lot throughout this post, but this is geuinely the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. I tried pizza elsewhere on our trip, and it was nice (obviously, its still pzza after all) but it didn’t come anywhere close to this.

  • Wander around Italian towns and cities

I may not be lucky enough to visit this part of the world again, I took every opportunity to cram in time everywhere I could, it made things a bit more tiring but I’d encourage this as it helped me really appreciate the beauty of the whole region.

Siena

Siena was about 30 minutes away from the villa by car. It was filled with delicious smelling leather stores, cute little cafes and vintage stores (I was on the cusp of being enticed by a 1950s Chanel handbag).

Florence

Oh Florence. If you’re in Tuscany, please don’t miss this off your list! I enjoyed my time here so much I got a bit teary when staring up at the Duomo, which is an absolutely massive and very beautiful marble building.

Getting into the main building, g is free, but the real money shot is by paying 18€ and climbing 414 steps to the top of this tower to see the whole of Florence. If you’re physically able to, do it. It nearly finished me off but it was worth it, and I suppose it did work off some of the food we had earlier in the day…

Pisa

Pisa is very pretty, but there’s not loads and loads to do so a couple of hours is perfect.

We got up a couple of hours early before our flight home and stopped to see the Leaning Tower and have one last pizza (priorities) I genuinely thought it was going to just be ‘one more thing to say I’ve seen’ but I was actually blown away but how stunning the building is in real life. Its made of beautiful marble and has other buildings around it that are just as gorgeous.

I obviously tried to get the typical tourist shot of touching the tower, but I sucked so I’m not posting it! As you can imagine, it’s very busy with people taking photos, so be prepared to nail the photos you want quickly or have photo bombers.

The streets of Pisa are very pretty and colourful to wander down and sit to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.

Walking back to the car we noticed there was a gorgeous botanical garden but didn’t have time to go in, definitely one to look out for on a wander of the city.

Certaldo Alto

This is more of a Hamlet than a town, situated very high up on a hillside.

First of all, the journey up here makes for some pretty incredible views

Its possible to drive up, but we parked in the town below and rode up on the Funicolare (a cable car thingy) which cost 1,50€ for a return trip and took about 5 minutes to reach the top.

The views were pretty great when we got there too!

It’s a beautiful Medieval walled town that has beautiful Italian buildings that house eateries, shops and galleries. Quite a bit more than you’d expect from a tiny place!

We were lucky enough to get a guided walk around by Arte Al Sole’s Lisa (and her lovely pooch Archibald, who I got to walk)

At the top is this beautiful Town Hall run by a Mayoral staff and where couples can marry for the bargain price of 550€ – the photo opportunities up there for your big day are IMMENSE.

And that, as that say, is a wrap on Italy 2019! Such a great experience, huge thanks once again to Bookings For You on and Violet Glenton for providing such an awesome location and itinerary to enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Where to eat/drink to get the best views of Mykonos

Last year after my Greek getaway I posted my guide to Greek food which is something I can’t really add to, however as people usually go to Mykonos to get the iconic views they see on Instagram (or at least in my experience they do) I thought it would be useful to share some of the places we visited. Myself and the Mr enjoy a good spot by the sea and a lovely sunset, so finding places to experience these are always a priority to us, and the are some good options below that are fairly easy to get to and aren’t eye wateringly expensive…

Sunset cocktailsThe Garden

We were so lucky that this place turned out to be about 700 meters away from our hotel, and the fact that it’s accessed via a fairly long walkway lined with flowers and lights makes you feel like you’re about to discover a secret hideaway. When you actually get to the bar area it has a very laid back and cool aesthetic (think wood, beanbag chairs and fire pits) and a wide veranda looking out over the Mykonian coastline.

We headed here about an hour before the sun set to have the opportunity to settle in, take photos and choose our drinks. We requested a seat right at the front of the veranda to get the best possible view of the sunset which has a 20€ per person minimum spend stipulation (other tables not style front do not have a minimum spend that I’m aware of) which the equivalent to a couple of drinks each.

The cocktails we had were served in these cool tiki style glasses (mine even had a bloody biscuit on top!) which added to the upmarket/Mahiki feel.

When we visited we were not given any time limit for our table or made to feel like we were being rushed, the staff simply checked back in every now and then to see if we needed anything.

Little Venice and the windmills

We visited quite a few places around this area that give good views of one or both, but these two were my favourite:

Veranda is a bar in the heart of Little Venice that has a completely open seating area right on the water (what I mean by this is that the tables were placed right towards the edge and there wasn’t any kind of wall/barrier between this and the water) in addition to a regular patio seating area.

From here you can get a great view of the iconic windmills of Mykonos town (I do have some better, more zoomed in photos, but wanted to give a realistic idea of distance for this) on one side, on the other you can enjoy the rest of the waterfront buildings that make up the Little Venice area. Coupled with the sound of the water, it’s a thoroughly nice place to stop for a leisurely drink or some nibbles.

(again, this phot isn’t zoomed in, it’s exactly how I could see it from my seat whilst leaning over a little bit). Drinks prices are fairly standard for Mykonos, between 10-20€ for an alcoholic beverage.

Nice and Easy

Is a large restaurant at the foot of the steps towards the windmills, meaning you can see them much closer up and all of Little Venice from across the bay.

Drinks prices again are fairly similar to Veranda, though here I chose to have fresh pomegranate juice (fresh juices seemed to be a thing in Mykonos Town and I’m here for it) which was about 8€. We also enjoyed quite a large lunch here, with the average Mail meal costing 15-20€.

There are two key differences to this location to be mindful of over Veranda – if you sit close to the sea front (it’s across a small beach shielded by a low white wall) there’s no cover so can get extremely hot, secondly it attracts co start foot traffic from people visiting the windmills, walking to Little Venice and taking endless photos.

Relaxed romance above Mykonos TownKaravaki

For our last night we booked a table at this restaurant, which is part of the Vencia hotel. Stepping out on to the lower level terrace and seated at our table, we greeted with a birds eye view of the whitewashed houses below us. The sun was setting as we arrived, although we didn’t have a perfect vantage point as we did at The Garden it was still really beautiful.

Food here was a little more pricey than other places we’d been – we paid 120€ for two starters, mains, one dessert and three alcoholic drinks (drinks wee average Mykonos prices) which is similar to if you were dining somewhere in Central London.

The views were great, the quality of the food was great, the service was great, so we felt it was money well spent.

Top tips for getting the best views

  • Book in advance, either on resort or before you travel if you’re that organised. If you’re not comfortable e-mailing or calling yourself because of language barriers, staff at your accommodation will probably be happy to assist as they did with us.
  • Be tactical about the times you visit – check what time sunset is going to be so you can allow time to fully watch it set, perhaps consider visiting places for food at less busy times of day such as breakfast time. A lot of cruise ships dock in Mykonos too which can make these extras extremely busy, so it may be worth checking the official cruise schedule to see how ships are in port on any given day.
  • If you’re chancing walking into a venue without booking, have a quick look at the seating before you choose your spot to make sure it’s not in the ‘splash zone’ (I unfortunately found this out the hard way) if there’s a seat available right at the front but the place is already busy, think about why others haven’t sat there first!
  • If you do get lucky enough to sit right at the front, particularly to one side, be prepared for other tourists to be constantly standing very close to you or shimmying down the side of your table to take photos. This has the potential to be quite annoying since you e planned in advance to be there and paid for food/drink in order for your prime spot where they haven’t, but as long as you’re aware and manage your expectations accordingly it’s usually fine.

if you’re heading to Mykonos I hope this is able to help give you a head start on your holiday research!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


A visit to Mykonos Vioma Farm and Winery*

Items in this post were gifted or provided at a discounted rate, I also spent some of my own money on items shown. All opinions are completely my own.

Welcome to my first Mykonos post!

After thoroughly enjoying our wine tasting experience in Santorini last year, the Mr and I were keen to see if we could do something similar on this years Greek adventure, and after a bit of research we came across Mykonos Vioma Farm and Vineyard. A family business established in the countryside of Mykonos (yes, there’s more to the island than the white pebbled streets and windmills!) that offered the opportunity it’s chill out, drink some wine and try some local nibbles. Sold.

We travelled to the Vioma partly by local bus (from Mykonos Town to Ano Mera which took about 15 minutes and cost 1,80€ per person) and the rest by taxi (this took about another 10 minutes and cost 17€. It is walkable in about 25minutes but it was hot and we didn’t know the way, alternatively if you contact Vioma in advance they can arrange return transfers from Ano Mera for 5€) .

The vineyard is only open to visit until 5pm, so unlike last year we visited around lunch time. We started things off with a tour of the property by Marianna, the daughter of the owner. The farm and vineyard are organic, so their approach and their appearance is quite different from other vineyards but was really interesting to hear about how they do things. They also try their best to adhere to a zero waste policy as much as they possibly can, which is fantastic to hear from a small family business. They also shared that they used a more unusual method to grow and cultivate their vines – they have placed speakers throughout the property that play classical music . Totally true; we saw the speakers and heard the music for ourselves!

We also got to meet some of the farm animals including the beautiful and gentle donkey, chickens, goats and a sheep. There are also 5 dogs kept as pets on the property which were wandering about everywhere during our visit and were very friendly to stroke and interact with (as I’m not allowed a dog at home, this part was a lovely extra treat for me!

(just as an FYI – many of the farm animals are likely to be in pens during visiting hours, this is to protect the grass and herbs/vegetables being grown on the property but we were advised that there are periods of the day they can have some time out and many months where they have free reign over the property. They all looked healthy and were happy to interact and take food from us)

We were also able to see the storage and furnace for the grapes , which this guy is carved into the side of – Dionysus, Olympic God of wine, vegetation, pleasure, festivity, madness and wild frenzy. Definitely the right person to be watching over it!

Now time to chill. We took a seat in the dining area with a birds eye view across the grounds and the Mykonian countryside. Bring on the wine and nibbles!

There’s a small menu to order both food and drink from, so you can really tailor your experience. We chose to order a rich garden plate which costs 26€ (there are a variety of options that vary in size and price, the most expensive being about 44€) and included a selection of local and ‘farm to plate’ produce including salad, meats, cheeses and breads. As these wee served to us Marianna gave us a walk through of everything on our plate and explained what it was, where it had come from and any history it had within Mykonian culture.

It was all delicious, I loved everything on the plate equally and (best of all) The Mr let me have most of the cheese.

Also – I’m not quite sure if you can see well in the above photo, but each table was painted with a different colourful image of Mykonian culture, which is a quirky and cute touch.

So, let’s talk wine. We went for the four wine tasting; a single glass of wine cost between 5-6€ so this is better value and allows you to taste a few varieties of wine on offer. First up was the white, which we enjoyed with our food…

Next came the rose…

The red…

Finishing off with a lovely little dessert wine

What I liked about this tasting compared to my Santorini experience is that the wines were brought out at different times rather than all at once, meaning they we served and drank at the right temperature and weren’t left out in the heat. The staff asked us when we were ready for the next glass rather than bringing it out to a set schedule which meant that we never once felt rushed could just relax and enjoy the surroundings. The wine measures were pretty decent too at around 175ml for the first three and smaller for the dessert wine as measures are a bit different for this.

All wines available to drink on the day are also available to buy from then vineyard, I think this was priced at around 7-10€ per bottle.

This was a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon – we got to try some yummy fresh food, try lovely local wine and got a little extra Mykonian history and culture thrown in for good measure. If you like to take things at a gentler pace on holiday and relax but still want to have some time off from the beach or pool, this is definitely one for your to do list if you’re heading to Mykonos. We were there for about three hours but a trip could be longer or shorter depending on how much time you have and how much wine you want to drink.

You don’t have to book your visit to the Vioma but I would advise getting in touch to give them a heads up as to when you’d like to go – as Mykonos is a popular cruise destination there are certain days were they have an increased number of visitors which makes the place super busy (Marianna was kind enough to advise of which dates during our stay would be busy so we picked a day that avoided this, there were about another 10 tourists visiting at the same time as us).

Thanks to Marianna and the lovely team at Vioma for hosting us as part of our Greek getaway!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


8 Reasons to choose Hull*

This post is a paid collaboration with the University of Hull however all words, opinions and declarations of awesomeness are completely my own

Choose Hull for what? I hear you cry. Well, everything – to visit, live, study and work!

I’m Hull born and bred; however there was a time when as a teenager that I thought it wasn’t the place for me and high-tailed it abroad for a few years. I returned by choice for good in 2005 and have since seen the city go through a major glow up and thrive as it deserves to. And so, I am proudly telling you today that I fully appreciate what a cracking place Hull is!

I’m going to share some of things I like most about living in Hull – some you may know, others you won’t, all of them more reasons to check it out for yourself…

1. There’s lots to keep you entertained, day and night, throughout the year

There’s ALWAYS something happening in Hull. What can I say, we’re a sociable bunch! There’s a hive of comedy clubs for a low cost giggle and drink with friends, as well as aborting calendar of annual festivals and civic celebrations – Pride in Hull, Freedom Festival, Hull Fair and Humber Street Sesh to name a few. There are theatres (yes, more than one), and event venues (the latest being Bonus Arena) that attract some amazing acts and shows, not to mention the University’s jam-packed Welcome Fest calendar. If you’re looking something to Hull to do, anything, you are likely to find it!

2. You can embrace culture, in all its glorious forms

Thanks to our 2017 City of Culture status and the legacy that is Absolutely Cultured there are a variety of cultural-focussed activities happening all year round. Not only that, but when you take the time to actually look at the buildings in Hull, you realise some of them actually pretty spectacular.

A lot of the older architecture is inspired by the Dutch (we had that link long before P&O got in on the action) and is really lovely to admire.

(this is one of Hull’s most photographed streets, a true example of some its hidden gems)

Buildings not your thing, how about street art? Head to Bank Side Gallery – a once thriving industrial estate that has dwindled over the years but has been revitalised into a graffiti artists paradise and a huge outside art space that’s constantly evolving.

You’ll get some great pictures for the ‘gram here too.

3. It’s pretty darn cheap

Hull was once voted the cheapest place in the UK to live. I’m not sure if that’s still the case, but compared to the rest of the UK you get more of a bang for your buck here on the Humber. House prices/ rent are very reasonable (I would NEVER be able to afford the suburban 3 bed semi I call home in any other City), there’s plenty of places to get a great bargains on shopping (clothes and food) and eating out. Lots of people choose to live in the Hull area and commute to work in other nearby cities such as Leeds purely because it’s cheaper and they can have a better quality of life.

4. It’s easy to get to, and get to other places from

It’s never been easier to get to Hull – trains, buses and roads all have easy and direct routes in to the City Centre from all around the UK, so people can come and visit really easily. That also means that those cheeky weekends away (or days out for cocktails, wink) can happen with ease – you can get directly to London in under 3 hours and Leeds in an hour by train, the nearest airport (Humberside) is half an hour drive away and connects to international destinations via KLM. And, one of the funnest trips you can make is on a P&O mini cruise to Amsterdam, fondly referred to as a “Dutch Dash”. We’re pretty close to the coast here too. Beach, please.

5. There’s a frickin’ marina in the middle of the city centre!

Well, not quite the middle, but about five minutes away from the middle, and it’s really pretty to wander around. This area of the city has been really nicely developed over the past couple of years so is buzzing with cute independent shops, places to grab a casual coffee and have a slap up meal (and perhaps a cheeky cocktail or 3) with some lovely surroundings.

6. You can eat amongst the fishes and find Nemo

Hull is home to The Deep; a unique looking aquarium and conservation charity sitting proudly on the banks of the Humber. They’re home to over 5,000 animals including the UK’s only pair of Green Sawfish, a pair of Loggerhead sea turtles, adorable penguins and of course our favourite Clownfish (Nemo) and Blue Tang (Dory) from the movies.

(image credit: @thedeephull Instagram)

Three nights a week it turns in to the Two Rivers Restaurant which serves a seasonal menu whilst you dine with a difference in amongst the larger viewing windows inside the aquarium.

7. You can indulge your inner foodie/drinky with ease

Take it from someone who has tested this to an alarming extent! I can’t think of many kinds of cuisine not available in the City, and it’s all equally tasty. Dietary requirements are catered for really well, and meals are pretty good value (refer back to point no. 3).

Hull also has its very own ale trail around the Old Town, if you’re not an ale drinker there are also great cocktail bars (and even a couple of roof bars to enjoy views of the City while sipping them).

8. University of Hull

One of the first reasons people visit Hull is to consider going to uni here, and the campus really is a massive selling point. It’s a fantastic mix of original, more traditional buildings and newer modern structures, so you really get a sense of where it’s been but also where it’s going.

As both a graduate and former employee I have such fond memories of place – to this day the smell of toast and coffee reminds me of academia, and I often head back for a wander around to appreciate the beauty (autumn for the colourful leaves is a personal fave). There are amazing views from the top floor of the swanky new library, lots of places to eat/drink, the courses available are varied and have a great set of lecturers from such a wide variety of backgrounds.

So there’s my highlights, and I reckon I make a pretty good even if I do say so myself. If you want to find out more, well…you’ll just have to come to Hull and see for yourself!

If you think studying in Hull could be for you, visit the campus and take a look around, there’s also still plenty of time to apply for the 19/20 academic year or discuss clearing options (I actually didn’t apply until July before starting September the same year via the standard application process)

Thanks for reading,

J xx


5 Things for 2019 – update #2

What a busy and turbulent quarter 2 2019 has been! Here what’s been happening with my original goals, plus a few extra bits of gossip…

  • This one has still been going OK, but mostly by default – can’t see much in the shops that I like, and when I have tried to do any shopping most of the stuff has gone back as it just isn’t right. I’m planning to spend a bit more this month to update my summer/holiday wardrobe as the weather has kicked it up a few notches and I’m making summer vacay plans (more about that in a bit)
    • Get a home bar Progress of this one is pretty straightforward – we actually have a bar in an area of our home, we just haven’t made it functional yet! As you can see by this pic, it has quite a specific look, so it’s going to take a bit of time to work out how to decorate around it. We’ve managed to set up and style a full bar cart (which has been done since the New Year, I just haven’t written a post about it yet) so we’re part way there.
    • Un-join the gym and get outside This one is going ok, particularly now the UK weather is getting a bit warmer and the nights have been lighter. Still a bit hit and miss on occasions; sometimes I can be out and about and pretty active, other days it’s a bit more of a challenge, so I’m just trying to do as much as I can when I can. I still have a regular little walking group with my pals to keep things on a social and motivational track, myself and the Mr also pop out sometimes after work as a good way of unwinding from the day and setting aside some properly quality time.
    • Get out of the house more
    • Dranks out, drinks in I’m going to be honest and say that I think I need to take this one off the table. After reviewing the goal and becoming more sociable in the evenings (as per goal #4) I’ve decided it’s not achievable because I don’t want it to be at the moment. Part of setting foals is to review and track their progress , then make changes if the original plan isn’t working out, so that’s what I’m doing. I’d still say that about 50% of the time in social situations I’m driving and having soft drinks, but still

    So, what else has been happened since we last caught up?

    • I booked a summer holiday

    Ya gal is heading back to Greece! After a fabulous trip to Santorini in 2018 (I did a series of blog posts on Island hotspots, best things to do and a guide to Greek food) the Mr and I are heading to Mykonos. If you have any top tips for things to do (other than take loads of money) or places to go, please let me know. We considered going to Ibiza but, as my other half so eloquently put it when he saw the cost, “it’s getting ideas above its station with those prices! ” and I got my first choice of vacay. Yay.

    • I went back to the dark side
  • To keep my hair looking healthy and easy to manage, Chelsea and I decided to give me hair a bit of dark chocolate makeover for summer. I know right; I’m the only person who goes dark for the summer months!
    • I turned 36

    Ugh. Not one I like to admit, but it’s happened and I’m dealing with it! To mark this ‘milestone’ I did a bit of a different blog post to any I’ve done before, but I really enjoyed putting it together!

    For the past few years I’ve done a dedicated ‘what I got/did for my birthday’ but this year was a bit more low key due to some persona and family illness. Instead I thought I’d just do a little roundup here (like I did with my Lanzarote holiday in my last update post) of some key parts. Had some lively food, went to a Shappi Khorsandi gig and had a quick but lovely visit to Liverpool

    And that brings us nicely to the present day and in to quarter 3 of 2019, I wonder where it’ll take me…

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx


    Make your own Pomada: the official fiesta recipe of the Balearics

    Remember a little while ago a did a post about things I liked before they were cool and mentioned I’d share a cocktail recipe shortly after? Well here it is! Well, I say cocktail, it’s more of a localised G&T recipe, but they’re practically one in the same these days right?

    The drink is called Pomada and it’s a Menorcan concoction traditionally drank at fiestas. You can also buy it on the island in a pre mixed form (made with lemon juice, so slightly different from the recipe below).

    Much like alcohol at a UK festival, people will take their own Pomada and swig it as they walk around enjoying the fiesta as they slowly get wasted throughout the evening…thank the lord I attended them before the days of social media and camera phones!

    Pomada is a super simple and refreshing summer drink, and I’m determined to get more people in the UK drinking it so that Xoriguer gin will start being stocked in the UK and I can re-live my youth!

    You will need:

    • Xoriguer gin
    • Fanta Lemon
    • Lemon wedge
    • Ice

    Official method:

    • Put 2-3 chunks of ice in to a tumbler
    • Add in a 35ml of gin
    • Top up with Fanta Lemon
    • Add lemon wedge to serve

    Fiesta method:

    • Pour out half the Fanta Lemon from the bottle
    • Fill the other half up with the gin
    • Give the whole thing a bit of a shake
    • Off you go to get your fiesta oooonnnnn

    Which ever recipe you choose, always follow the same final step: always drink sociably. If you want to find out more about the traditional Menorcan fiestas (which you definitely should if you’re ever planning a visit) this website has a decent amount of information.

    Salut! And thanks for reading,

    J xx


    My non-alcoholic “Pimms” recipe (with one super bizarre ingredient)

    It’s official: the weather is pretty nice, the sunnies are firmly fixed on our faces and the beer gardens are once again full…hello Spring/Summer you cheeky devil!

    As I’ve mentioned previously, this year is about drinking a little less often but still being sociable, so I’m reaching for drinks that still allow me to enjoy some of the summer trends but allow me to keep to my goals.

    My faux Pimms recipe is perfect for this as it tastes the same (in my opinion) as the real deal but you can still be the designated driver after a massive jug full of the stuff. Plus, you can make it with key ingredients that you may already have at home:

    – Tall, cool looking glass (mine is from the homeware section at

    – Lemonade (I used Schweppes slimline, but any standard lemonade will be fine)

    – Balsamic vinegar

    – Lemon and lime wedges cute in to segments

    – Ice

    Step 1: put 2 or 3 large ice cubes in the bottom of your glass

    Step 2: fill you glass 2/3 to 3/4 way up with lemonade

    Step 3: add 1/3 to 1/4 balsamic vinegar to top up (I would recommend adding in a lower amount and then tasting so that you’re adding an amount that tastes nice to you and not too vinegar-ey)

    Step 4: add in segments of lemon and lime

    Enjoy!

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx


    36 Words of wisdom, wonderings and randomness.

    Happy birthday to someone I have known my whole life – frenemy, fashion eclectic (and by eclectic I mean ‘swings between too glam to give a damn’ or ‘how many days have you not washed your hair and worn those leggings for gurl?) and THE best card DJ you would ever have the pleasure of riding with.

    Me!

    I’ve written down 36 thoughts below, one for each year. There’s nothing more profound than that I’m afraid, but I hope you are enjoyed and amused by at least a few of them!

    1. Bridget Jones had it right on the money – whether my dress size says I’m a 10 or a 14, I will always be just a little bit fat.

    2. A walk goes a long way to clear your head.

    3. Diets do not work. At my lower moments I have hoped and prayed they would, but they don’t. If you go on a diet you have to come off one sometime. To prove it, last year I tried one of the latest weight loss fads, Boom Bod, click the hyperlink to see what happened.

    4. Get me on karaoke to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy and I will crush it.

    5. Victoria Beckham didn’t start her uber popular fashion brand until she was 34 after a whole other career, so there’s still a chance I could become some kind of mogul yet.

    6. I happily fall asleep listening to something ‘murder-ey’ – Snapped: Killer Couples or Deadly Women are my faves.

    7. 9 months is pretty much the maximum I can have a hair style/colour before I must change it immediately…then pining for my old look immediately.

    8. In this life you’re one of two things: good at selfies, or not good at selfies.

    9. I have the same eyebrow lady as Scary Spice (I wonder if she has a pre-appointment pink lemonade like I do?).

    10. Some flaws are easier to embrace than others – it turns out what I thought were freckle clusters that came out in the sun are actually a skin condition called Melasma, but I think it’s cute so I don’t actively seek to cover it up.

    11. Travel the world, but don’t forget what’s right on your doorstep – get to know the culture and beauty of your own country.

    12. Only follow people on Instagram that make you happy or positively inspire you.

    13. You can go to Benidorm an experience cool rooftop bars, instagrammable spots and fabulous steak. Trust me I’ve been there and done it!

    14. Kusadasi is beautiful and very affordable part of Turkey to visit, but boy do most of the locals seem to despise British holidaymakers…

    15. An Aperol Spritz becomes an extra lil’ something when you sub the soda water for fresh orange juice. Aperol Mimosa – you’re welcome.

    16. Sunsets are one nature’s most beautiful occurrences, but so are sunrises. Plus, you don’t have to share them with as many people.

    17. Why is it called hot chocolate if it’s frozen…is THAT the Serendipity??

    18. If you’re in New York City and want to visit Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, the address is 66 Perry Street in Greenwich Village. It’s a small road just off Bleacker Street, and NYC cabbies have nooooo idea where it is when you ask them to take you there.

    19. Strategically placed glitter can cover up sunburn a treat…but can literally take days to remove from your body. Even even when you think it’s all gone…bam, there’s a fleck on your right boob.

    20. Not everybody will have the same beliefs or make the life choices as you; one size doesn’t fit all in this life and nor should it have to. You don’t have to understand why others do what they do, but you do have to accept it.

    21. I am not Boiler Man.

    22. For anyone who questions my driving ability – earlier this year I transported 16 cups of hot coffee from Costa along a very busy road and did not spill a drop (here’s a photo of my friend Rachel who was here to witness this crowning moment).

    23. The first time I slept in a tent (well, yurt) as an adult, I woke up surrounded by heavy snow.

    24. Meeting Santa is blooming brilliant, even if you don’t have kids.

    25. I make a really nice paella.

    26. I recently found out that I use the same Smashbox colour correcting primer as a well-known former football manager.

    27. There’s a cult phenomenon in Hull called a ‘Shit on the grass’. It’s a shot available in the Old Town called the Manchester Arms, and if you’re ever in the city (or a local that has never partaken) you should stop by and check it out!

    28. I once met Chubby Brown (unfortunately on purpose, but not by choice) and he said “testicles” to me.

    29. I have also read Chubby Brown’s first autobiography (on purpose) which I quite enjoyed.

    30. There’s ALWAYS something good about the place you live (well, I’d say a solid 95% of the time in exceptional circumstances. Find it and be proud! I love that the city I’m from is quirky and filled with street art galleries, comedy and music. Also, don’t let anybody talk smack about your home town unless they have the genuine insight to back it up.

    31. Sometimes you’re weird because your are family are weird and they made you. You didn’t stand a chance.

    32. Look up. Look around. Do it often.

    33. The Dunelm Teddy Bear range is cosy AF, I’d recommend investing in some immediately if not sooner.

    34. If we could all truly see the things that others thought were awesome about us for ourselves, the world could be…I don’t know how to finish this because we probably never will, but just imagine.

    35. I’m the exact age I’m meant to be . It’s only myself that gives a shit what that number is, and only me that can stop myself feeling oldAF (if anyone has any tips to achieve this, please do comment below!).

    36. I am so proud, thrilled and excited to be a co-founder and member of the HEY Bloggers community. I’m glad to say I count many of the people I have met on this journey so far as friends and all round lovely people. Thank you xx

    let me know which number was your fave! Thanks for reading,

    J xx


    Five things that bloggers no longer do

    Today marks five years since I decided to start (and stick to writing) my blog. Five years of making friends, challenging myself to be creative with style and discovering lots of different things. Five whole years!!

    To make this milestone there’s no giveaway (sorry) no cute photo shoot with a cake or balloons (not that I didn’t want to, I just wasn’t organised enough) and no imparting of wisdom of how to do anything amazing in the blogging world (how I wish I had this wisdom to use). Nope. Instead, I’ve written five differences I’ve noticed since I first streaked claim on a little patch of the internet. I wonder who else remembers and has noticed some of these… (I’ve also peppered a few more throwback blog post pics throughout, enjoy)

    1. Bloggers no longer….simply write about an outfit – why they like it, how they styled it , what it’s like to wear etc

    My first ever blog post was literally me sharing 2 very ad-hoc photos of what I’d worn the weekend before. It certainly wouldn’t cut the mustard now!

    Even with a lot of fashion bloggers and featuring styled outfits, the content of the post is usually something that feels a bit profound, imparting wisdom or an opinion on a key topic. The fashion is just kind of there to break up that chat a bit. That’s probably ended up being so due to the rise of the micro influencers in Instagram (not to mention Instagram Stories and IGTV) and YouTubers, which are much easier outlets to share this kinda stuff on, but I sometimes worry that I don’t have the opinions or the wisdom to keep up with this developing trend.

    2. Bloggers no longer…title their posts with something profound or cute

    I’ll give you examples using some of my previous post titles – Mono-magic, Peachy, Hot weather cold shoulder, summertime sadness, snug as a fashionista in a blanket cape.

    As a marketeer, I’m a huge advocate of something quirky and maybe verging on a bit click-baity, so I still think there’s a place to do something along these lines. However, if you’re calling a spade a spade then people will come and read because they have a more explicit idea of what to expect.

    3. Bloggers no longer…have whimsical blog names

    I include myself in this one! My blog was called ‘Curious Alice Loves…’ for the first three years, I changed its for a few reasons but the main was because PR messages kept coming to me starting “Hey Alice, how are you?” (That’s very sloppy on the PR’s part for not ready the bio, or e-mail address correctly). I know quite a few people who gave their blog a more quirky name when they first started but then evolved/re-branded down the line to being ‘just them’ (does anyone remember Sarah Ashcroft’s That Pommie Girl?. I admire those who have kept hold of their original name and have a kind of ‘gal behind the blog’ approach as that’s the identity they’ve built, like the fabulous Dorkface.

    4. Bloggers no longer…write “PR friendly” in their bio

    Never understood this one, never did it myself. I mean, what blogger isn’t?!?

    5. Bloggers no longer…engage with each other’s posts in the comments section

    This one is the key – everyone used to leave comments directly on a blog post, but I honestly can’t recall the last time I had any of mine. I don’t know whether this just means that people are reading things quickly and can’t be bothered to log in to leave one, whether they’re just looking at pictures or whether they don’t feel they have anything of value to say, but I do find this a real shame. Let’s all make sure we encourage and engage with each other, the hustle is hard!

    So, for this post and any others you’ve read over the years, thanks for joining me. I really appreciate it.

    J xx


    “I liked it before it was cool” – 3 things from my repping past that are now ridiculously on trend

    Over the almost 5 years I’ve been rambling away on the internet, I’ve dropped in to the conversation once or twice that I used to be a holiday rep. For 3 years of late teens/early twenties I called the Balearic Islands home and made some insane memories – most of them good, a few of them sober, all of them I was reminded of this week when I was added in to a closed Facebook group ‘Stories of a Holiday Rep’. Insert horrifically cringe pics of me back in the day, taken on a disposable camera

    It was this part of my past that inspired this post – things I took for granted and felt a bit naff back then appear to be all the rage right now. On one hand I’m like “WTF?” On the other, I feel like I can totally own the fact that I discovered all of these things in their more underground cult status before they blew up. I hope you enjoy this throwback journey with me!

    1. Gin

    As the UK’s love for gin has increased I have been adamant that I’m not a fan, but then I remembered the Xoriguer (pronounced zor-rig-er) gin distillery.

    You see; for the first year of my repping career it was my job to take holidaymakers here every week and help them to sample about 32 different flavours of the stuff as well as a local gin cocktail (the recipe for which I will be sharing in a future blog post). Yup, that’s right; back in the summer of 2003 I was well up in this trend before it was a twinkle in the hipster’s eyes!

    Annoyingly, this brand is nigh on impossible to get hold of in the UK and outside of the Balearic Islands, to be honest there are barely any Spanish guns that are widely available, however if you do happen to hit this part of the world for a holiday I would encourage you to pay the distillery a visit…and maybe bring me back a sample or two.

    2. Avarcas (Menorcan sandals)

    Of all the items I may have predicted would become a high street trend for summer footwear, this would soooo not have been it! Back in the day myself and ,t repping buddies used to mercilessly mock these babies, and all of the locals (men, women and children) wore them so they were around all the time.

    By the end of our first season, a couple of us had bought a pair (usually under the influence) to wear ironically, and over the years we grew quite fond of these funny lil’ sandals.

    If you’re going to invest in a pair of these, my tip would be to spend a teeny bit ore and get a real deal version made in Menorca as they’re going to last you for years and years – they upper section is made of leather which is super comfy and the soles are fashioned out of car tires which give amazing grip and mean you can walk for miles without them wearing out.

    If you’re holidaying in mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands you can pick these up in a local shoe shop and get the real experience, if not you can buy them online easily from the official Avarca stores here or here.

    3. Aioli (garlic mayonnaise)

    Often listed as a side sauce in gastropubs and Uber cool restaurants these days, I remember this delicious condiment as part of a grab and go lunch from the local supermercado.

    You may be like “garlic mayo, and…?” BUT – Menorca was its birthplace. Mayonnaise is pronounced mar-hon-ays-ah in Spanish, because in originated from the capital Mahon. In Menoquian (a version of Catalan, the proper traditional Spanish language) they even call Mahon Maò, pronounced Mayo, so it’s pretty entrenched in the local culture!

    The Aioli pictured is the traditional version sold in Menorca – its best served alongside a lovely crusty baguette; rip of a junk of bread and dunk gratuitously in to the tub! It’s extremely strong tasting but soooooo damn good.

    One more thing that almost made the list…canary yellow leather jackets. This one is more of an I joke with my fellow rep friends but, if anyone reading this does happen to have visited a a leather company called Modas in Menorca, then you may get why this one will forever remain funny to me.

    That’s pretty much it – having a little trip down memory lane whilst proving that I was some kind of cool visionary (or at least let me feel like I was for five minutes)

    Thanks for reading,

    J xx