Exploring London: Colombia Road Flower Market, Hackney, east London


Colombia Road Flower Market was one of those places that I knew I would love but somehow had never made it down. Now I finally have, I want to visit every Sunday!




Just a short walk from Bethnal Green Station, the street market has been drawing Londoners in since 1869. A sea of vibrant sunflowers, trendy cacti, bushy shrubs and fragrant herbs, it's an attack on your senses as soon as you turn the corner onto Colombia Road.



Taking over the road from 8am - 2pm, it's best to go in the morning to beat the crowds. But it's also fun to go during the late morning when it's absolutely heaving for the great atmosphere. Make sure you take some cash in case you see anything that tickles your fancy. The surrounding area is a great place to stop for a leisurely drink, a bite to eat and a place to people watch the hipsters of east London. 

Have you visited the market before?

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Not fitting into the blogging world - and why it's ok


It's hard to believe I've been writing my thoughts down on this little space the internet for the past seven years. And what a seven years that has been. I've made friends for life and had some incredible opportunities. All down to being bored once evening in 2010 at my boyfriends house while he was watching the football.

There has also been some incredible changes in the blogging world over the past seven years. We've gone from taking photos in our bedrooms with a camera balancing on a few books on a shelf to carefully curated photoshoots that wouldn't look out of place in a glossy monthly magazine. Somewhere along the way I've forgotten how to keep up. When I first started I seemed to fit into the crazy world. We were all young girls who had found this outlet and thrived on each other's successes. We went to the same events, we worked with the same brands and became each other's cheerleaders, religiously commenting on posts.

Now the blogging world has evolved so much I almost don't recognise it - it has taken on a life of its own. It's now a full time job filled with girls completely kicking arse. And now it's become somewhere where I don't have a place. Somewhere where I feel slightly irrelevant. My blog isn't really anything. My photography isn't going to set the world alight. I don't have an amazing fashion eye to shoot magazine worthy campaigns. I'm still awkwardly posting looking at my feet. I'm no longer top of brands lists to collaborate with. Sometimes I feel like I should just call it a day. Maybe deep down I just don't want to work at it. Maybe this is why I sometimes I feel so disconnected from the blogging world.

But then I look at seven years worth of posts and I feel proud. Proud that I've managed to keep this going for most of my adult life. Proud that so many brilliant brands have thought my blog was worthy of a collaboration. Proud that over the years my content has consistently got better even if it isn't up there with the best. Proud that people still read my words I pour into this space. Proud that this blog has become an extension of who I am. It's simply something that I don't think I could ever give up. So really it's ok I don't fit into the blogging world.

Sometimes not fitting in is the most fun of all.
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Four places to visit in the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I still can't quite believe they're in the UK. And that it took so long for me to finally visit! Make sure you don't wait as long as I did as trust me, you're missing out. We're lucky to have friends living up there who knew all the best places to take us. If you're planning a trip to the east coast, here are four places you should definitely add to your intinerary. 



1. Golspie
This little town is famous for being the home of the beautiful Dunrobin Castle, a fairytale chateau-style castle build an incredible 700 years ago. Make sure you spend an hour or so taking in the walled gardens and catching the fun falcon show. Once you've enjoyed the castle, it's time to refuel with some cake at a little tea room in the high street before heading out to explore the waterfalls. The city girl in me had no idea that scenes like this existed in the UK. I don't get out to the countryside much! The Big Burn is an easy 2.5km walk through lush, green woodlands. Pack sensible shoes and wander until your heart's content.



2. Tarbat Ness
This lighthouse is the perfect places to watch the sun go down. Climb over the rocks and you're greeted with the amazing sight of seals splashing about in the water below - this was by far a highlight of my trip. If you visit during the summer, you'll find the seals soaking up the rays on the rocks themselves.



3. Loch Ness
Probably the most famous loch in Scotland, Loch Ness is the largest one in the UK thanks to the sheer volume of water. It's around 45 minutes from Inverness and makes a great day trip. We explored the Loch with an hour long boat ride with Jacobite Cruises who helped to set the scene. It was fascinating to listen to the folklore and history of the area. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, even on a gloomy day.



4. Glenmorangie Distillery
No trip to Scotland is complete with squeezing in a trip to a whisky distillery. Book yourself into the fascinating tour and learn about the history of this famous whisky. You'll be able to try a sample at the end. Even if you're not a whisky fan it's still worth doing because it really is such an interesting process and the guides are so enthusiastic.

Have you been to the Highlands before? Anywhere I should add to my list? I'm definitely planning on heading back soon!
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Restaurant review: Caravan, Kings Cross, north London


Located in Kings Cross' Granary Square - fast becoming my favourite place in London for dinner-, Caravan is housed within an old Victorian grain store. Giving off cool industrial vibe, the restaurant offers sharing plates of good, wholesome food with a great terrace out the front. I'd only been for breakfast but as we were in the area, we decided it was time to check out the full menu for an early dinner. What a great early dinner it was!




We opted for a pizza and three sharing plates which was more than enough to leave us feeling satisfied. So for the sharing plates? We pumped for wonderfully creamy jamon and smoked san simon croquettes with a slightly garlicky saffron mayo, a fresh Burmese chicken salad with ribbons of carrots and beansprouts topped with coriander and roasted cashews before finishing off with a warm Jersey Royal potatoes, watercress and pine nuts topped with a soft boiled egg. But the star of the show was the delicious chewy pizza topped with spicy ndjuda sausage, wilted spinach and sprinkling of chilli power.

All the dishes we tried were spot on and I think the £50 we paid for the meal - including a beer and cider - was great value for the quality of the food. It's a great place to go for an early weekend dinner, the atmosphere is buzzing and although the service was a little slow, the servers were very pleasant. I can't wait to go back and try even more of the menu soon.



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Why gingham is my favourite summer trend





Outfit:
Red and white gingham midi dress: New Look
Nude espadrille wedges: H&M (similar)
Poppy red Lily bag: Mulberry

Despite looking like a tablecloth, Gingham is one of those trends that I come back to summer upon summer. Just looking at the print evokes memories of balmy long summer nights, endless BBQs with friends and trips away to foreign countries. It's seems so timeless and classic, one that will always be around until the end of time. I spotted this red gingham during an unusual browse on New Look late at night - usually I'm an ASOS girl through and though - and it reminded me of a blue dress I had from Topshop many moons ago that I had to reluctantly throw away after it became a little worse for wear. I have every faith that this dress will become just as hardworking and one I will turn to time and time again now that summer has finally reared it's head.

So here we are at Saturday again! Today I have a friend popping round for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and my favourite bread from a local bakery. This afternoon it's a free for all at a BBQ hosted by my best friend. One of the reasons why I'm so excited to finally move into my own house is because it's less than a five minute walk from BFF. Not that that was the reasoning behind the purchasing... Tomorrow sees a mid morning brunch at Bills before popping to the house to do some work and splashing out on some paint in B&Q. A pretty chilled weekend is just what the doctor ordered...

How is your weekend looking?


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2017 goals - six months on


So somehow we're halfway through 2017 so I thought it'd be a good idea to have a look at how I'm getting on achieving - or not achieving - my goals.

1. Read more books
Well so far I have read three books which isn't hitting my target of once a month but is already better than last year. So i'm kinda bossing this right? I'm still taking those naps but have been trying to make them less frequent. Trying being the operative word here. But so far I have finished the third Game of Thrones book which took an age, A Tree In Brooklyn about a girl coming of age in Brooklyn obviously and the Miniaturist which I'm not quite sure I enjoyed. At the minute I'm reading The Night Manager which took a while to get on board with. But now I'm halfway through it's becoming a lot more enjoyable and making me wish I was a spy. I reckon I'm on course for 5 books which won't be too shabby. I've got a lot of train journeys coming up for my Poland trip so hoping to immerse myself into a book or two then.

2. See the world
This one I feel like I'm hitting. I've been lucky enough to go on a trip to Paris and Marseille with a trip to Poland coming up n July. I've also got a trip to Cardiff for Gem's wedding in September and spent a wonderful four days in Northern Ireland in January. There is also talk of a possible Disneyland Paris trip in the pipeworts for December. I've never been to France so much! I knew this wasn't going to be the year for any big trips because of our house so I'm pretty happy to have squeezed in as many as I have.

3. Look after myself from the inside out
Well I started off strong then began to falter... I have been making the conscious decision to try and be more active. I've spent lunchtimes going for little walks to try and get to my 10k steps each day. I've also been struggling up those tube escalators with lots of huffing and puffing. But my diet is still absolutely appalling. Still struggling to get this bit under control thanks to my lazy bones nature. It feels like a double edge sword as I'm so tired so literally don't give my diet any thought but so sluggish because my diet is pretty bad. Woe is me eh?

5. Pay off my credit card
Well this definitely isn't going to happen. Especially as I booked flights to New York in March. However, it's starting to bother me a bit now as it's so annoying to be paying so much off each month. So I'm hoping at least half of it will be paid off by Christmas. Who knows if this is wishful thinking!
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Exploring Europe: Villa Noailles, Hyerès, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France


During our weekend in the South of France, we drove to Hyerès to check out the exhibition at Villa Noailles. Located in the hills overlooking the town and set within pretty grounds, this gorgeous early modernist house is a sight to behold. Every year it holds the Hyerès International Fashion and photography festival exhibition and this is what we were here to check out.




Free to get into, it's such a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon. Walk around the various exhibitions, marvel at the cubist colourful garden, wander around the pine trees or bring some snacks to enjoy the stunning view over the town. The list is endless of things to enjoy. It was one of my highlights from the trip and a place I'd definitely visit again if I'm lucky enough to find myself in the area. 




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Restaurant review: The Diner, Camden, north London


I have a lot of nostalgia for The Diner so was delighted to be invited to the launch of the newly refurbished Camden branch. So my BFF and I trotted down after work for a lovely sunny evening on the rooftop terrace, enjoying far too much food and a bit too many cocktails for a Wednesday evening. Confirmed when I work up the next day for work with a bit of a sore head...





So what did we try? EVERYTHING. Highlights included the bacon wrapped crispy tator tots with a delicious jalapeño dip, WTF fries consisting of french fries with shredded tangy BBQ pork, oozing cheese, crispy bacon and topped with a perfectly fried eggs and chilli flakes, boneless southern fried chicken and flavoursome buffalo chicken wings with a creamy blue cheese dip. But my favourite were the tator tots loaded with crumbled blue cheese, beef chilli, lashings of sour cream and chopped spring onions. They were incredible and I really didn't want to share.




The Diner has has a great makeover, the roof terrace really is something special looking out over all the action on the high street. It's in a superb location, just a short walk from Camden Town tube station. The menu is always so consistent and pretty reasonably priced. A great choice if you find yourself in the area for a few drinks. Thanks so much for such a great evening guys!

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Recipe: Thai-inspired red curry meatballs


Wing Yip kindly sent me over a hamper to help celebrate Healthy Eating Week which starts today. Thai-inspired food is always my first choice when I'm looking to lighten up my meals. They're so easy to pack with veggies, low-fat coconut milk makes it still feel naughty and I find the dishes always so filling. The basis of this dish was taken from an old favourite BBC Good Food.


Serves 4

Ingredients
500g of organic lean beef mince
1 small knob of ginger, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1 tbsp Mai Siam Thai red curry paste*
1 can low-fat coconut milk
1 bag of sugar snap peas
1 bag of baby corn
1 red pepper
20g fresh basil plus a little to garnish
Juice of one lime plus one to cut into wedges to serve
1/2 pack of Chinese noodles*


Method
1. Put the mince in a large bowl with the grated ginger, egg and season generously. Mix together well and shape into meatballs. Put to one side.

2. Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok and brown the meatballs for five minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. In the same pot, add the curry paste, fry for one minute before pouring in the can of coconut milk. Bring to the boil to help create a smooth sauce.

4. Pop all the vegetables in the pan for ten minutes then return the meatballs to the pan. Simmer for around five minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the meatballs are warmed through.

5. Bring a bowl of salted water to bowl before popping in the noodles for two minutes. Drain once cooked.

6.  To serve, squeeze in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Tear up the basil leaves before stiring through. Serve over the noodles.

As always I would love to know if you attempt the dish so please do send me a tweet.

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Is the Bardot neckline the trend of Summer 2017?







Outfit:
Red jersey bardot midi dress: ASOS (similar)
Double strap black sliders: Birkenstock
Pink sunglasses: Phase Eight* (similar)
Gold oversized watch: Marc Jacobs (similar)

I don't know about you but I've fallen hook, line and sinker for a bardot neck line. Every month when I treat myself to something on payday, nine times out of ten it's a bardot style. It's not hard as it seems to be absolutely everywhere. I find the style so easy to wear and it just helps to give a top or dress a little sass. It's transferable to the weekend, work, evening and holiday - as demonstrated here!

This weekend has been jam-packed. Last night I finally tried out Junkyard Golf for a friend's 30th birthday. Spilt up into teams, we whizzed around the crazy golf course in Truman's Brewery before grabbing a few drinks at a pub nearby. It was exactly what was needed after all the election anxiety - my head is struggling to comprehend just what is going on at the minute. It seems like madness! Tonight I'm off out in Essex for a evening with my family, drinking gin and throwing some embarrassing shapes. As it's World Gin day, it would be a crime not to right? Tomorrow I'm going round the house and try and be a bit more helpful than I have been recently before cooking a lush dish of Thai-inspired meatballs and catching up on Broken. Oh Sean Bean, I love you so.

I think I'll need another weekend to recover!

Have a scroll through some similar dresses below.


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About me

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

Get in touch at
sophie.warner89@yahoo.co.uk.

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