Exploring Europe: Mussenden Temple, Castlerock, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Another site on our Game of Thrones Northern Ireland wishlist back in January was Downhill Demesne and Mussenden Temple. The weather didn't play ball but it was a cracking visit nonetheless. Owned my National Trust, the vast 18th century estate was built around 1772 by the Earl Bishop Frederick Hervey. The stunning temple itself, perched on a cliff edge was actually a library. The whole site is open from dawn until dusk and is free to visit.

Now I bet you're wondering about the Game of Thrones reference? Well, the beach the temple overlooks is where Melisandra burned the old gods on Dragonstone.

But even if GoT isn't your jam, it's still worth popping it into your itinerary. We went on a gloomy weekday in the late afternoon -as you can tell from the photos above - and it was practically deserted. Just the three of us chattering, the sheep grazing and the wind howling. It was so tranquil and peaceful, just the ticket to soak up the beauty of the Emerald Isle. I'm in such a hurry to back across the sea and see more of the country I've fallen head over heels in love with....


Restaurant review: Franco Manca, Belsize Park, north London

Pizza is my favourite and Franco Manca is my favourite pizza joint in London. Nothing else comes close for me and I love the fact they now seem to be springing up all over the place. After the first branch opened in Brixton Market in 2008, the brand has gone from strength to strength. I introduced Gem to their delights of the pizza when she popped down to visit London for the day.

So what did I go for? Always the number 4. Salty home-cured Gloucester Old Spot Ham, creamy mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, soft wild mushrooms and juicy tomatoes on a chewy, sourdough base. Crisp on the outside yet soft in the middle, the base is the star attraction of the show. Especially when dipped in the gorgeous chilli oil on offer. Paired with their own brand cider, it was the ideal lunchtime treat.

Franco Manca is always so reasonably priced, always so delicious and the staff are always so attentive. For a cheap eat but without any compromising on taste, it always gets a gold star. Those who say London is an expensive place to eat clearly don't know where to look.


The £13 Primark embroidery shirt everyone needs

Khaki floral embroidery shirt: Primark (similar)
Ripped hem skinny jeans: New Look (similar)
Grey tailored coat: New Look (similar)
Croc print black skater shoes: Vans via TK Maxx (similar)
Red canvas backpack: Fjallraven Kanken via Asos

Back to my weekend uniform! I can't quite believe it but the last few weeks I've swapped my handbag for this backpack that I usually just keep for when I travel. I've been suffering with sore shoulders and back so thought I'd try and distribute the weight a bit by using a backpack. Turns out I'm getting sensible in my old age! I'm now a convert, my shoulders feel so much better and I can carry so much more stuff. As I'm no longer having to carry a handbag and tote bag to work, I look less like a cart horse... It doesn't seem like much of a hardship when the backpack looks like this to be honest. One step closer to achieving the Scandi coolness...

This week again looks set to be a busy week. I've got a few events I want to attend, a few drinks with friends and a dinner out. No doubt I'll be moaning by Wednesday just how tired I am but what's the point in working in London if you're not going to embrace it eh? God job this weekend was a lazy one...


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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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