Updated: my new five favourite places to eat in London

Mien Tay
I've mentioned time and time again that Vietnamese is one of my favourite cuisines and Mien Tay is up there as my top place to eat it in London.  The food always tastes so fresh, it's great value for the capital and the menu is so varied. Definitely opt for the chicken clay pot curry and you won't be disappointed. The lighter vermicelli noodles are great if you don't want a heavy meal.

I've mentioned this before but thought I'd mentioned it again as they're opening a new branch in west London this autumn. Even more locations for you to enjoy the food! I tell everyone they absolutely need to try the bacon naan if it's the last thing they do. I never knew something so simple could be so tasty! If you go for dinner make sure you pump for the delicious black dal and moreish lamb chops.

Franco Manca
Pizza is my jam and Franco Manca is the king of pizza. Bold claim I know but true. I never opt for anything other than number 4. A tantalising combination of salty home-cured Gloucester Old Spot Ham, creamy mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, soft wild mushrooms and juicy tomatoes on a chewy, sourdough base.

Chic N Sours
Korean Fried Chicken would be my last meal on earth and Chic n Sours does a cracking version. Just the right amount of heat, addictive sauce and unbelievably tender chicken. The hot Szechuan crispy aubergine, K-Pop chicken burger and addictive house fry are also well worth ordering. In fact make sure you go multiple times so you can try everything on the menu.

Honey & Co
For a mere £16.50 Honey & Co offers a fantastic brunch option. The whole table has to order but you get so much food. The table can enjoy a selection of meze, breads, olives, pickles, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit and homemade jam. Then everyone gets to choose their own main meal to enjoy. I opted for the green Shakshuka with two Cornish eggs.

Three places to visit in Warsaw outside the Old Town

Wilanov Palace
When we go away I always drag everyone to some sort of palace or castle. I love them. Everyone else? Not so much. But this one was a winner for everyone. Over my 28 years I've seen lots and lots of palaces but this 17th Century one might just be my favourite - it's one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen. It doesn't hurt that yellow is my favourite colour too! It's an easy 30 minutes bus journey from the Old Town and couldn't be simpler to get to. Just one straight journey and you can use your travel card (a must for getting around Warsaw). Amazingly this grand royal palace survived the Second World War. I find this incredible as so much of Poland was destroyed and rebuilt. A stunning yellow colour, the palace is now an art gallery so we never made it inside as galleries aren't really our jam. But we did pay a couple of pounds to go in the gardens and they were absolutely beautiful. There's a lake where you can hire rowing boats, a gorgeous rose garden, the Baroque garden which is the oldest part of the park and an English-Chinese garden.

Neon Museum
Located in the Praga district of Warsaw, the super cool neon museum is a collection of vintage neon signs from the communist area. It is quite a trek from the Old Town but Praga is said to be the hipster district of the city so it's a great place for a bar crawl. It's very different from the Old Town, a lot more grittier but it's a great place to get a 'real' feel for the city, away from the hoards of tourists. The museum reminded me a lot of God's Own Graveyard in Walthamstow. It's not a place you'd spend hours wandering around but it's really interesting, cool and something a little bit different.

Palace of Culture and Science
Built by the Soviets in 1955 as a 'gift', the tallest building in Poland has such a presence in the Financial District of the new town. Now it's home to a huge congress hall, theatres, a multi-screen cinema and museums. Catch the lift to the top to the observation tower and you've be rewarded with amazing views over the city. It's well worth a visit just for this but beware, it gets windy on the 30th floor!

A day trip to Sopot, Poland

When I mentioned to people I was planning on squeezing a beach trip into our visit to Poland, everyone was surprised that it even had a coastline. And the fact that the country actually enjoyed hot weather. Yet another misconception about this beautiful country.

The seaside resort Sopot is part of the Tri-City - known as the place to party - in Eastern Pomerania, just six miles away from Gdansk. Or a 20 minute train journey. It gave off similar vibes to Brighton. It was full of cool, young people, quirky independent restaurants and shops alongside seaside-esque style housing. But one plus is the fact it has a sandy beach so make sure you bring a towel to relax.

It's the ideal town to have a lazy day. Check out the longest wooden pier in Europe - be aware there's a charge in the summer months -, the town's most iconic building known as the "Crooked House", the famous Sheraton seafront hotel and take a stroll alongside the beach, checking out the souvenir and ice cream shops. We never had dinner in the town but I've heard that you must seek out the fish restaurants as the quality is second to none.

One place you absolutely need to visit is Flamingo & Co for a couple of scoops of ice cream. It was the best ice cream I had in the entire two weeks in Poland - which is saying something as Lody is amazing! I opted for the salted caramel and strawberry which turned out to be the ideal combination. I'm willing to go back to Sopot just to have some more ice cream!

Have you ever thought of visiting Sopot?


OOTD: Blue cotton sun dress

Blue cotton midi dress: H&M (similar)
Light wash denim jacket: Primark (similar)
Gold boyfriend watch: Marc Jacobs (similar)

While we were travelling around Poland last month we decided to schedule in a beach trip. Somehow we managed to choose a day that was the chillest out of the whole two weeks but that just meant it felt like going to the beach at home! Sopot is around a 20 minute train journey from Gdansk, making it the perfect day trip if you find yourself in the city. I've got a post coming up soon so I won't say much more about the town. But it's definitely worth a visit, if only for ice cream from Flamingo & Co. That stuff is absolutely heavenly and I still dream about it now. Believe it or not, Poland is the best for ice cream. No joke.

I've been trying to wear more stuff in my wardrobe because I can barely afford to buy my weekly bus ticket, let alone treat myself to new clothes. Have you got your violins out yet? Owning a house is tough on my finances. I have no idea how I forgot about this dress and sadly this is the only time I've worn it this year. If that isn't the sign of a true shopaholic then I don't know what is... Hopefully an Indian summer is on its way and I'll get a few more wears out of this before the year is up.


OOTD: Red maxi dress

Orange pleated maxi dress: Very*
Nude heeled sandals: New Look (similar)
Nude clutch bag: Acessorize (similar)

Very got in touch with me to see if I would like to style a maxi dress and offered me to style and review. As soon as I spotted the vibrant colour, pretty pleats and gorgeous neckline, I knew this was the one for me. It's the perfect dress for a special occasion such as a wedding but also works just as well for a weekend outing with friends. Wear with heels to dress it up or espadrille wedges to keep it more casual.

This weekend has been pretty manic! I took the long journey to Putney - only for you Hannah! - for an afternoon feast of delicious tacos. That girl sure knows how to put on a spread! It was a great afternoon consisting of too much gossiping, making me  forever grateful I took the plunge to take to those girls on the internet. This afternoon I'm off to have a look at some wedding dresses with my sister-in-law. I can't quite believe she's old enough to be getting married! Can time slow down a bit please?


How to create the perfect antipasti

As I mentioned in my Shakshuka post, Tracklements challenged me to put together two recipes. This one is my second one! It may be bit of a cheat to call it a recipe as it's so simple but who can go wrong with an Antipasti? The chilli jam tastes delicious alongside the gooey camembert and fresh crusty bread. It's always the condiments in my opinion that make a cracking spread. The chilli jam, olive oil and balsamic vinegar all play their part. Picky dinners are my favourite type of dinner, the best kind to enjoy sitting in front of the telly catching up on your current boxset. It reminds me of the festive season where you spend the whole month of December eaten buffet food.

Here I have a selection of cured meats (chorizo always goes so well with cheese I find!), juicy sundries tomatoes, pickled stuffed vine leaves, crusty bread and the star of the show - a gooey camembert. Stick it in the oven for around 20 minutes to ensure it's melted all the way through. Add some rosemary or some garlic if you fancy jazzing it up a bit more.

What's your favourite antipasti selection? As always please do show me a picture on Twitter if you end up making it!

Three places to visit with your Gdansk city card

As I mentioned in my first post about Gdansk, we were very kindly gifted city cards to help us get to know the city in depth. So many different attractions and free public transport was included so we made sure we got our use out of them! They absolutely worth it if you have quite a few days in the city to enjoy so you can make the most out of it. These are my favourite places that are included free of charge with the city card...

The Crane
One of the most defining landmarks of the city, represents Gdank's trading history with the current design dating back to 1444. Amazingly it was 80% destroyed during the battle for Gdansk in 1945. You would never have thought it! Part of the Polish Maritime Museum, it offers a fascinating insight into the port's history and the view from the very top is pretty impressive. The best way to get a feel for any city is from above it!

SS Sołdek
Sitting majestically in the port, this ship was the first one of it's kind built in Poland after the Second World War. Originally built as a coal and oil freighter, it is now part of the Martime museum in Gdansk. It's well worth exploring with a great insight into the city's shipyard history.

Church of St John
One of the special perks card users can enjoy is climbing the tower of the Church of St John. Dating back to the 1300's (I never stop being in awe of Europe's incredible history), it is now an exhibition space. But it still holds mass once week. Twice a day city card holders are able to climb the tower to be treated to great views of Gdansk.

A catch up: August 2017

House renovations
It's hard to believe that we've had the keys to our home for five months and sometimes it feels like we're making absolutely no progress. But then I glance back at pictures and realise just how far we've come. The living room is now plastered and painted with the wooden floor already laid - our sofa is coming in September. Then we can start making it feel like a home. In one room at least! My dad and boyfriend have insulated the ceiling and laid the plasterboard  so I'm hoping to order our kitchen within a couple of weeks. Sometimes I think I made an awful mistake buying a house that needed so much work doing to it but then when I see it start coming together and think it's the best thing I've ever done. Even if my bank account doesn't agree... Such a rollercoaster!

New hair
I'm growing my hair at the moment as hoping to donate it to charity. So as a result it's been in a bit of a state but Rush* offered to help me tidy it up a bit. I only had a small amount cut off the ends and my fringe tidied up but it's made a world of difference. It looks a lot healthier already and seems to be growing even more if that's possible! Rush always has such great customer service and it's a pleasure to go and have my hair cut. They even curled my hair as I mentioned I was going to a party in the evening. It's the little touches that really make an experience enjoyable.

Weddings and weekends away
September is gearing up to be a very busy month. I'll be travelling down to Cardiff for Gem's wedding then on the following weekend we also have a wedding in London where we will be enjoying a little staycation. God bless those three day weeks eh? I've got a lunch date at Hannah's too look forward to and going wedding dress shopping with my sister-in-law. One of my friend's is also due to welcome our first baby into the group. I don't feel old enough for that! It's a good job I'm staying in for the rest of August!

Recipe: Shakshuka

Brunch is one of my favourite meals of the day. In fact I'd eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Tracklements got in touch with me to see if I wanted to collaborate on a couple of recipes with one of them being a brunch recipe. I immediately thought of creating a variation of a simple Shaksuka dish. There are so many different recipes out there but this is my favourite way of doing it. Ideally you would want running eggs but runny eggs are not my speciality but it tastes just as good like this. I promise!

Serves 2

2 tsp olive oil
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
4 eggs
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pack of feta
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp of Tracklements fresh chilli jam*
Slices of crusty bread

1. Heat the oil in a skillet pan before frying the onions on a medium heat until they are a golden brown colour. Then add the peppers. Fry until soft.

2.  Throw in the garlic, cumin and the fresh chill jam and cook for another couple of minutes.

3. Pour in both tins of chopped tomatoes, turn down the heat and let it cook for around 20 minutes. Try the sauce and add a teaspoon of sugar if you think it needs sweetening up.

4.  Make four wells in the picture before cracking an egg in each hole and seasoning lightly. Pop them under the grill for around 10 minutes until the eggs are cooked with a runny yolk.

5. Sprinkle the feta over the top and serves with lots of crusty bread.

As always, please do let me know if you make then and tweet me to show me the pictures!


Why Gdansk should be your next European city break

I think I stumbled across Gdansk on a blog somewhere and soon popped it top of my list if I ever made it back to Poland. When we started planning our two week jaunt across the country, we decided to peg it onto the end. I'm very glad we did! Gdansk was my favourite city on the whole trip - there's just something so serene about being close to the water.

Located in the north of the country, Gdansk is a port city with a rich history. It's the place where the first Polish shots were fired in WWII and the place which is said to kickstart the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. Part of a 'Tri-city' with Sopot and Gydnia, the narrow, cobbled streets are perfect for getting lost and spending a few hours admiring the architecture. It's a great location to base yourself to enjoy the Polish Baltic coast.

Still fairly undiscovered, it doesn't have the insane hustle and bustle that many other popular European cities have. Sure it's busy but it isn't unbearable. The heart of the city is Main Town where you'll find numerous restaurants, cafes and bars to refuel. Check out the city's landmark Żuraw for a fantastic view over the city. Or, head to MS Sołek to find out about the rich maritime history. The European Solidarity Museum offers a fascinating insight into the Gdansk Shipyard movement that kickstarted the fall of Communism. It's worth investing the Gdansk tourist card* as you get invaluable unlimited public transport around all the Tri-City, free entrance into certain attractions and discounts off others alongside restaurants. If you're looking to really take advantage on everything on offer, it's worth investing.

But the best way to enjoy the city is to simply walk. Walk and walk and walk. Always remember to look up and don't worry about getting lost. It's a small city so you'll always find your way back home. It's so rare to find somewhere in Europe that feels so new and authentic. Make sure you visit before too many people find out about this gem of a place.

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

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