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


BLOGMAS 2018/ Day 24: My Instagram best 9 (2018)

*Sings tunefully* It was Christmas Eve…..so perhaps we can gloss over the fact that I didn’t post yesterday. And on day 21, but nobody’s counting right? Awesome!

Have you ever logged in to the ‘best 9’ website/app over the past few years to see which have been your most popular Instagram posts?

It’s been a bit of a thing over the past few years, so I thought that this year it’d be a nice way to bookend the year by reviewing my most liked posts – when/ where they were and a bit of context behind each. Hope you enjoy!

Hull Marina, May 2018

This snap was taken at the end of a slightly stressful but very happy day – it was the day we finally completed on the sale of our house and picked up the keys (from some of the rudest estate agent staff I have EVER encountered). We weren’t able to fully move in until the day after, so we took ourselves out for a little cocktail to celebrate. We were living right on the marina and right across the street from this bar, so it was the perfect last hurrah. It took 8 long and stressful months to find, which has made me appreciate what we have so much more.

Duck and Waffle, London, August 2018

London baby – you haven’t really had breakfast until you’ve had it at the highest restaurant in the city! This activity formed part of the ‘do things in London we’ve never done before’ tour, it was a bit out of the way but a lovely way to start what ended up being a very enjoyable day indeed.

My front room, East Yorkshire, December 2018

This one was a late entry but one of my faves too I think – one of the photos I took as part of my Blogmas ‘unveiling the Christmas tree’ post. These Next PJ’s are the snuggest I’ve had in life so far, I need to get on with finding some none festive replacements for the next 11 months…

Zoo Cafe, Hull, March 2018

This is a totally ‘for the gram’ moment – my faves Rock on Ruby brought out a bridal collect right before my 8th wedding anniversary and I saw an opportunity. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, so did ROR.

Oia, Santorini, August 2018

When you post pictures of one of the most infamous places in Greece, people are gonna gonna double tap for ’em! As part of our summer holiday to Santorini we spent a whole afternoon strolling the whitewashed streets of Oia taking in the scenery, with the explicit aim of taking good pictures. Well, that was my aim anyway. I think I was probably frustrated that the people in the top left were in my shot, but that’s kind of the vibe everywhere you go in this town.

Hull City Hall, January 2018

Another Rock on Ruby creation has made it in! Sadly the tee is no longer with me due to an unfortunate washing incident…this was part of an outfit I wore when I went to watch Jason Manford’s comedy tour and I had a great night.

Santo Wines, Santorini, August 2018

I remember this being such a lovely evening – we were tasting wine, watching an amazing sunset and having Greek food, what’s not to like? Well, the only thing not to like were people getting up in our grill trying to get their lovely photos too – we booked in advance so got a lovely table right at the front, those that didn’t were keen to make it look as if they had. I took photos at incremental points of the sun going down for a comparison and so we could remember how beautiful it was – we arrived when the sun was still bright hot and didn’t leave until after dark.

Oia, Santorini, August 2018

This (and the only below) photo formed part of the quickest set of photos I’ve ever had to take – people are constantly walking around, wanting to stop at the same place as you to get their perfect shot and are waiting around behind ’til you’ve finished and they can jump in on your setup. The scenery was definitely beautiful and I definitely made time to stop and appreciate it, but not at this exact spot (half way down a stair case to the sea front next to a tonne of bars and restaurants).

Oia, Santorini, August 2018

this is one of my personal favourite photographs from the last year, so I’m glad Instagram liked it too! As I said above we had to hustle to get this pic, I think we probably had less than 2 minutes before people were wanting to walk in front of the shot, so that makes it all the more surprising that a couple of cracking shots came from this. Definitely helped that the scenery is so beautiful, but also props to the Mr for his camera skills.

If you’ve also done a post like this, please link it in my comments section so that I can have a nosey, if you haven’t got one planned then why not do it?

Thanks for joining me for another year of #blogmas I hope you e enjoyed it as much as me. More posts on the way soon!

J xx


TRAVEL & FOOD/ Discovering Santorini- a guide to Greek food

I couldn’t do a series of travel posts without including a food one now could I? It just wouldn’t be right! This is meant to be a bit of a guide to Greek food in general, however there are a couple of things that are Santorini-specific, which are really obvious. If you’re heading to Greece on holiday later this year of next summer, here’s some if the digits you have to look forward to…

Starters

Fava (fav-ah)

This is a thick, blended dish oh yellow peas – kind of like hummus texture, but I think it’s meant to be eaten as more of a soup than a dip as its served with a spoon. Personally for me there was a little bit too much to eat it that way, so I had mi e with a little bread, but it’s a yummy and refreshing way to kick off an authentic Greek feast.

Baked feta

Baked cheese is my idea of heaven! It melts into a lovely consistency that isn’t gloopy but makes the salty taste a littleess harsh. Served with local herbs, onion and peppers, this is utterly amazing.

Cheese pies and stuffed vine leaves

Well, more like a mini pasty than a pie, but they make a great snack as part of a meze (a selection of small dishes, a bit like a sharing platter or tapas). If you’ve never had vjne leaves and aren’t heading to Greece soon, the good news is you can pick up a great ready made version in Lidl. The leaves are stuffed with rice and seasoned with oil, and are ridicously moreish.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki (soov-lar-kee) and Gyros (jir-oss) are pretty similar and pretty simple to recreate. It’s basically strips of cooked meat (usually chicken, pork or lamb) served with salad, tszatsiki (sat-seek-ee) and pitta. As you can see here, a side of fries is often added when it’s a sit down meal, if not everything is usually wrapped up inside the pitta to enjoy on the go.

Main courses

Orzo and lamb

This dish does have a formal name, which begins with a P, but I’ll be darned if I can remember or pronounce it! It’s basically slow cooked lamb in parchment paper (which, when adding vegetables, is call kleftico) served on top of Orzo pasta, which is traditionally Greek and looks like risotto rice. The Orzo has been cooked in a sauce made of local herbs and fresh tomato and topped with a little crumbled feta. Not gonna lie, this is pretty much my perfect meal! The weekend we came, I cooked this for my mum and she also loves it.

Stifado (stiff-ar-doh)

This is a meat stew with a tomato base served with thin-ish sliced potatoes. It’s quite heart so feels like an odd choice for eating in summer heat, but it’s a really balanced dish that’s yummy and fills you up.

Mousakka

Opa! I made it my mission to get a great Mousakka (moo-sar-kah) as I’ve always liked it, and I managed to find 2 which was a bonus. This is meant to be served warm rather than piping hot, so don’t think there’s something wrong when it arrives at the table.

Santorini salad

I heard about this before we went and I was excited to try it! An alternative take on a Greek salad, which I also adore. However, I’d heard it was made with sun-dried tomatoes when it’s actuary cherry, which I’m not quite as keen on. Much like the Greek this is oy made up of a few ingredients: local cream cheese (a variation of goats cheese), tomato, herbs, cucumber and olives, this one also had a little spinach thrown in. I tried this out alongside our wine tasting and just couldn’t finish it, the photo doesn’t show just how massive it was!

Greek pasta

I was surprised this was a thing in addition to Orzo, but it’s widely available and great if you’re a pasta fiend like me. In the fresh tomato and herb sauce there’s olives, onion, sun dried tomato and feta swirled into spaghetti. Essentially, Greek salad in a pasta dish. Nom.

The Greek Mac

I had to as this one in for the sheer comedy value! Until we popped into Maccy D’s to grab a bottle of water and use the loo I had no idea this even existed, however once I spotted it I couldn’t NOT order one to try, could I? It ended up being pretty similar to a gyros with beef – the patties are smothered in tszatsiki on salad and wrapped in a pitta, so it still totally counts as traditional Greek fayre.

Dessert

Baklava

Whether is a full blown dessert or as a light nibble with a coffee, you have to try Baklava (back-lav-ah). It’s layers of flaky pastry laces with nuts, cinnamon and honey. Dee-lish. Usually they’re bite-sized portions but this massive specimen was served to me one evening, warm and with a nice dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side, which I wasnt mad at.

Fro yo

There seems to be somewhere to pick up frozen Yoghurt everywhere (don’t worry; there’s gelato and soft scoop ice cream too) and it presents the perfect opportunity to create a lovely little Insta-food masterpiece. As yummy as this was (we shared large pot of Yoghurt flavour and mango flavour topped with strawberry and coconut) it was charged by weight and ended up costing 10 frickin euros!

So that’s my whistle stop tour of Santorinian /Greek food, I hope this helps you when you visit or are next looking for new recipe ideas, and apologies for making you hungry! This is officially my last Santorini post (sob) coming up soon will be some more UK adventures as well as bringing things around to autumn a little. See you there.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


TRAVEL / Discovering Santorini – Island hotspots

Santorini Kamari

After months of waiting and trying (and failing) to plan activities/ outfits, my Santorini adventure has now been and gone. Sob.

As I’d hoped it’s a great island to visit but there’s definitely more to it than what’s on Instagram, so I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences over the next few blog posts including different areas visited, activities you should put on your “to do” list and a guide to Santorini/Greek food.

Santorini map

The map above gives shows key areas of the island we visited.

We stayed in Kamari (cam-are-ee) which is a large village about 10 minutes away from the airport. I found it to be a fairly usual beach resort that was perfectly suited to couples and families, but with a little more polish and charm.

Santorini Kamari Boat House restaurant

From bars, restaurants to the beachfront hotels, you can barely walk a few steps without coming across something that was pretty enough to snap a pic of

Santorini Kamari

Boat house restaurant Santorini Kamari

Santorini Kamari

Santorini Kamari

Jumpsuit, Topshop / Hat, Accessorize (similar here) / Slides, Miss Pap

The volcanic-black sand is also pretty striking from a distance; however up close much of it was made up of pebbles which made it a teeny bit painful to walk on barefoot.

Santorini Kamari beach

Santorini Kamari beach

Santorini Kamari beach

If you’re going to spend a decent amount of time on the beach and go in the sea, a pair of special beach shoes are recommended (they’re widely sold in supermarkets and gift shops for between 5-7e)

Santorini Kamari

There were over 60 bars and restaurants spread along the sea front and side streets close by, and what the Mr and I both loved was that mot of them offered traditional Greek food (more on that in a future post). That may sound weird, but there are so many places that cater for the nationalities that visit rather than showcase their own local cuisine which is always a shame.

We stayed at Aegean Plaza Hotel which was on a side street about 350m walk from the beach front. The hotel was white, simple and lovely, and the restaurant catered very well for both traditional Greek and international palettes at breakfast time. All of the staff were also lovely.

We had a great pool and mountain view from our second floor room

Aegean Plaza Hotel Kamari Santorini

Room tour

The only negative thing about our hotel location was the noise from low flying planes. Due to the resort being extremely close to the airport, the planes are just a few hundred metres above buildings as they’re making their approach to land. Flights take off and land at all hours of all days and, even though the noise only last for a couple of minutes, it’s loud enough to block out the sound of people/ music.

Oia

Oia Santorini

The place that absolutely EVERYBODY has in mind when they go to Santorini is Oia (ee-yah) as it’s pretty much the poster child for the whole of Greece – whitewashed buildings, blue domes and views for days, this is where you’ll find ’em all.

Oia Santorini

Oia Santorini

Oia Santorini

Oia Santorini

I’ve read that some people were unimpressed with Oia feeling it to be very small and dirty compared to the photos you see of it on Instagram, however I don’t feel that to be true at all. The part that is most photographed is part of a much bigger town which is spread across the top of the Caldera that people don’t seem to capture quite as much, and as you can see from my pictures above everything was pristine.

This part of the town had one main “street” running along the top, with many flights of steps and smaller streets that lead down towards the Caldera edge. All of them are crammed with lovely little shops (designer and souvenir) bars and restaurants which are wonderful to browse. At certain times of day they can get quite crowded as this is also the place that the world and his wife flock to see the sun set each evening (more on this in my next post).

In short you cannot visit Santorini without coming here! The hotels here are far more upmarket (private plunge pools, private sunset terraces and staff posted at every entrance to stop non-guests from barrelling in to get the best angle for their photos. Trust me, I have first hand experience with this) and stunning but I imagine would be a nightmare to get to with full suitcases, no roads particularly close and all the stairs in Greece.

Fira

Fira (fear-uh) is the Island capital and I’d say very similar to Oia but without the iconic reputation. Lots of little streets lined with places to shop/eat/drink and great views over the Caldera. I also believe it’s the place on the Island where the young and beautiful go “out out” so obviously we don’t fall into this category to confirm or deny this!

Fira Santorini

Fira Santorini

Fira is also home to the Santorini branch of Sephora.

make sure you manage your expectations with this one, it’s pretty compact in-keeping with the other shops, however it carries most of the Sephora own range and mini products, plus a pretty decent amount of fragrance and skincare. I picked up ‘a few’ items for the road and ended up 50e worse off, so it’s still pretty easy to part with cash despite its size!

Perissa

Acropolis bar Perissa Santorini

Just around the bay from Kamari, this is pretty much the only photo I took in Perissa because we just found it a bit “meh”. Everything was very spaced out, there wasn’t the variety of places like in Kamari and things just seemed more expensive for no apparent reason. The beach is slightly better than Kamari but for me that was the only thing it really had going for it.

Way to get around Santorini

Bus: Probably the cheapest mode of transport (each one way journey is 1,80e per person) services run approximately every 20 minutes towards Fira and connect to other places from there. They’re privately run and have a handy sign in the window that says ‘local bus’ as well as a conductor on board that has a decent amount of change. They tend to really pack people on during busy times of day, so be wary that you may have to stand.

Taxi: Probably the most expensive mode of transport (it cost us 20e for a fairly straight, 15 minute journey) but the most efficient and reliable. Perhaps only use them for shorter journeys or those very early or late in the day, or if you’re dressed up nice and don’t want to be sweating next to loads of other people on the bus.

Quad bike/ motorcycle: this isn’t something we used but is extremely popular and widely used by tourists. Definitely approach with caution as locals aren’t sympathetic to inexperienced foreigners and the roads can be quite winding and hilly.

So that’s my whilst-stop tour of Santorini; my next post is going to be about the things I think you definitely need to do during your holiday, so make sure you come back for a look.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

All photos taken using Huawei P Smart and Fuji bridge camera. Nothing has been done to alter the contrast, colour or view in any of these images.


FASHION / Summers days into nights

The weather’s warmer (at last!) and the social calendar is getting more busy with weddings, christenings, summer parties and basically any excuse to go out for some drinks. So then us ladies get to the same tired ass dilemma we have every single time (I’m generalising) – what to frickin’ wear??

I had the said dilemma recently when invited to a country garden wedding from early afternoon to late in the evening – I knew there’d be a church but also grass, burgers and a few chickens running around the place, so had to find something that would suitable for everything!

In the end I decided to go shopping in my own closet – after all, as a regular guest I’m only likely to be in a couple of photos, it’s only really the big white dress everyone will be focusing on (and trust me, this dress was a showstopper!)

This maxi dress was pretty much the perfect solution to all – the fabric was light and floaty which meant it was easy to move in and I stayed relatively cool. Because of the longer length it felt a little more relaxed yet decent for wearing inside Church.

There’s a tie around the waist area that means you can easily control the shape of the dress to be more or less fitted to your figure (I had it tied in a firm but loose bow and pulled some of the fabric over the top slightly to create a neater break, but it had slipped a little before this photo was taken).

The neckline was really interesting with a spaghetti strap halter and bardot section which covered up a part of my arms I’m not loving too much right now.

Finally – floral print in soft colours because, well, ‘cos it’s summer and florals.

I finished the look with some low block-heeled mules that were easy to stand in and wouldn’t sink into any soft ground, and my new straw bag as a nod to the garden vibe of the day.

Dress, AX Paris / Shoes, Public Desire (simar style here) / Bag, Topshop

I don’t have too many formal events happening this summer so I doubt anybody else will be seeing this frock again for a little while which means I can bring it out again easy next year as it’s quite a timeless style. If you’re someone who has a few more big events in the foreseeable future, ask yourself the following when planning what to wear:

– what type of guest are you, day or evening? This helps decide if you need something with staying power and more daytime appropriate, or whether you can have a look that’s more party focused.

– who will be at this event? If you’re attending with a different group of people, they probably won’t have seen what you wore to the last event (or at least, no more than the top half) so it’s totally fine to wear the same thing again. You could mix up the accessories to keep it interesting.

– where is the wedding? Location is important because you have to factor in travel to the venue as well as drinks when you’re there, which in some places can be quite pricey. You’d be better saving your money for these things than buying a fully brand new outfit, by the time you’ve had some drink you probably won’t care much about what you’re wearing anyway!

Thanks for reading,

J xx


TRAVEL DIARIES/ Barcelona, part 1 – where to stay

Barcelona has been on my f**k it list for a loooooong time, and apparently I’m not alone. Forget Santorini, THIS is the 2016 travel destination du hour if my social media feeds are anything to go by…but I wanted to go there first! Haha.

I finally convinced Mr Alice to go with me this year (we decided to do all city breaks together and then each of us have taken a separate beach holiday) so I got this booked pretty much as soon as the agreement came out of his mouth about 6 months ago.

We both agreed that we wanted to stay somewhere pretty central so that lots of things would be super close to walk to or on public transport links as we hadn’t been before. As well as that, hotel aesthetics are VERY important to me – I’m not a fan of chinz and would rather not go somewhere if that was only sort of thing I could afford. I know that might sound a bit diva-ish, but for me it’s just a waste of money if you go somewhere you don’t really like, rather than waiting a little while until you can find somewhere that you do.

After a bit of digging we chose the Petit Palace Boqueria Garden which is on a little street about halfway down the famous La Rambla (not Las Ramblas, as most of us call it). From here is was really easy to go from the main square area, into the side streets of La Rambla and to the marina/beach area. In short, pretty much spot on.

You’d almost walk past the entrance as it blends in a with the other buildings (thought it’s still very clean and smart) it’s the interior that makes it stand outFrom the moment we walked in, I could instantly see that this is probably one of the most instagram-able places I’ve stayed – the perfect combo of traditional meets modern. This beautiful marble entrance greets guests with a cooling temperature and a beautiful fragrant scent, which is so welcome after a early morning flight or a long day of sightseeing.the vibe turns more homely-cool towards the back of the ground floor in the breakfast area with the fabulous exposed brick and colour pop soft furnishings. We chose to stay here on a room only basis because the hotel wanted us to pay 13€ per person per day which we felt was a little excessive for a simple buffet. Besides, part of the enjoyment is having the freedom to try something a little different each day (thought that’s not quite what we ended up doing!)the funky af bar was a whole other vibe again and felt like a great place to chill out, listen to music (they had great playlists) and enjoy a cheeky sangria. There was also a lovely outdoor courtyard area with yet another chilled out vibe – funky shaped (but comfy) white seating, garden and more cool exposed brick.we stayed in a standard double room – simple, chic and with really cool backlighting behind the headboard. As with most hotels, my HUGE bugbear was that there was no damn mirror over the desk area to do my hair/makeup in good lighting. Why do all hotels do this now??the bathroom was awesome – powerful and warm hydro shower and lots of space for our stuff.image credits – mixture of myself and the Petit Palace Boqueria Garden

Staff were really nice and friendly, really keen to offer us recommendations of places to eat and providing us with maps. They also allowed us to book tickets using hotel contact information so that they could ensure that our documents could be printed out properly and promptly.

A few things to be aware of when staying in the La Rambla area:

– Non-public minibuses/coaches aren’t allowed to drive down the main throughfare, so if you book an airport transfer than expect to br dropped off in the main square and walk the final part of your journey (you’ll see a lot of people doing it). Taxis are fine.

– Crime is said to be rife. I say ‘said to be’ because we didn’t witness or experience any, and are both incredibly aware of this sort of thing (I in particular am always in a semi-state of suspicion). Be wary of people bumping into you during very busy times, people stopping you in the street for a light or unofficial street sellers.

– the walkways are all very well maintained, but can be a teeny bit slippy in the wrong type of footwear.

– a lot of the restaurants and cafes on the main road have the tendency to charge higher prices for food that’s not necessarily worth the inflated price.

Keeps your eyes peels for parts 2 and 3 which will cover things to do and (my personal fave) where/what to eat!

Stay stylish,

J 😘xx


BEAUTY/ Body Shop haul

Yup, I did ANOTHER haul…I have shopped ’til I dropped lately!

I’ve always been a bit of a Body Shop fan – over the years there’s a few core products I pick up here and there (Mama Alice is OBSESSED) but I’ve bought loads for myself in one go. But I wanted some new bits and, once I started it was hard to stop! Have a peak…

Camomile
The smell of this range is very light and soothing. In short, exactly what’s needed to chill you out as part of your end of day routine.

Silky cleansing oil: this is the only thing I’ve ever used that’s been able to get all of my makeup off without really scrubbing. I literally saw it melt away on to the cotton wool pad!

Sumptuous cleansing balm: this is lovely to smooth over my face after removing make up; when I rinsed it off I definitely saw how well it worked on my clogged up skin!

White musk smoky rose I haven’t used anything at all from the Body Shop since I was really young- it was a kind of right of passage as a 90s kid! I was drawn to this because I was looking for a new daytime scent, I usually get one of their fruity edt’s (Mango or Strawberry) but this had a different kind of sweet smell before drifting into the smoky rose scent that’s really cool for summer.

Eau de toilette the scent lasts a decent amount of time but I’ve already used up a lot as I’m wearing it every day

Body lotion helps layer up the scent with the edt, slightly runnier formula which drys pretty quickly and kept my skin feeling really soft 
Polynesian Island TiareI actually intended to buy products from the Pinita Colada range (to compliment my new pina colada themed bags, hehe) but after smelling it decided it wasn’t the right thing for me. I like pineapple and coconut smells, but this just didn’t quite have the right mix.

 I was intrigued by this range and expected it to be a really full on tropical scent, quite the opposite! It’s a really clean summery smell; almost like an immaculate suite in a chic beachfront hotel. These products actually compliment the camomile really nicely too as they have similar undertones, so a really great combination for tapping into the relaxation vibe.

Shower gel – I’m a fan of Body Shop show gels anyway so I knew I’d like the consistency of this. I feel so nice after using it.

Body cream – again, long time user of the the body cream (I’ve been loyal to the Coconut shimmer body butter since FOREVER) and like the level of moisture it gives my skin. The consistency can take a while to sink in or feel quite greasy if you put too much on, so a little bit is usually best

Fragrance mist – the perfect way to seal in the scent after using the first two products, and fits nicely in the back pocket of my handbag.

I usually don’t try to avoid limited edition ranges in case I adore them and then can’t buy them anymore, but I’m glad I broke my rule for some of these!

Stay stylish (and smelling wonderful),

J 😘xx