Sweater Weather with Tobi

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ello there cable knitted jumper of dreams! And also, hey everybody else. We’re creeping up to Halloween (although confession, I have been watching Christmas films) and sweater weather has firmly planted itself here. Every year, my favourite chunky knits come out from storage and a few new ones inevitably find their way into my wardrobe too. I’ve partnered up with LA based online retailer Tobi on this post, to ‘help’ add some cosy comfort to my wardrobe for this new season![vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18546″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18548″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Jeans and a knit! Or what I call my Autumn uniform.

This is the Skylar knit in grey and it’s reduced to £17

(I ordered it in my usual size; so size up for that oversized fit)

For the times when I have to, you know, venture out into public and surgically remove myself from my jeans, I paired the next jumper with my current favourite skirt…

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A pink sweater isn’t my usual go to during the wintery months, but I’m making an effort to stop resorting to black, black, black all the time.

This is the Clarissa knit , hopefully a step forward in injecting some colour into my life when the weather outside is frightful.

It’s an oversized fit and this puppy is reduced to £20!

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And a wardrobe staple that everyone should have?

The trench coat!

Aptly called the Let It Rain trench, this was made for the rainy, grey weather that blows through Britain.

It’s available in Black and Camel and yes…reduced to £42.

Win-win.

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De Beauvoir Darling with Radley

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] can never leave the house without taking everything but the kitchen sink-with or without my blogger ‘hat’ on. There’s my laptop and camera, spare chargers, makeup, tissues and wet wipes, an assortment of toot from sweets to pens to perfume bottles and this being Great Britain- never without my umbrella. My usual go to handbags were no longer big enough and my backpack, normally set aside for my travels, became my everyday bag. Practical, yes. Cute, not so much.

But then, De Beauvoir darling.

Not just a cool Islington neighbourhood, but a rather pretty handbag by British label, Radley.

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 13

Radley De Beauvoir Bag in Yellow

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 15

Bag | Radley Coat | Lauren Moffatt (check eBay!) Shoes | Vans Jeans | Topshop Stripey Tee | H&M

Yellow is my favourite colour so when my bag arrived, I immediately wanted to pair it with my yellow Vans and my much loved (but least practical!) coral coat

(I got it years ago from the sales section in Anthropologie but if you search for Lauren Moffat on eBay, there’s usually one or two being listed)

The short sleeves mean I can only ever wear it in Spring or early Autumn, but I love the colour too much to ever  part with it. Pairing it with yellow is my colour match made in heaven.

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 10

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 11

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 7

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 4

Radley London De Beauvoir Bag Pollen Yellow 6

Radley’s current collection of bags are fun and colourful, but in keeping with it’s classic styles and shapes. They’ve had a modern revamp recently with Erin O’Connor and Vogue’s Laura Bailey as past Brand Ambassadors for Radley.

(Also, Laura Bailey’s article on the Sunbury Antiques Market was a major tip off for our interior design hunt here!)

The leather on the bag is buttery soft; I think for me, for someone who prefers bags to shoes, that is always the greatest allure. You can’t beat the smell and feel of a new bag, fresh out of it’s dust bag!

 

Getting snap happy with Samsung

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m a creature of habit. I have a few tried and tested things that I like and that I stick to, without giving any thought to trying anything new because ‘if it ain’t broke’ and all that. I use Sheer Glow Foundation from Nars, Topshop Jamie jeans for everyday denim, and my iPhone for everything. I’ve had my iPhone for years now- I know all the shortcuts, have customised it down to a tee for my usage and such was my little technology bubble that I just couldn’t envisage using anything else. But remember when a Nokia was all you could imagine using? Snake and predictive text was all you needed at the time!

…well. This creature of habit was asked by Three to trial the new Samsung Galaxy S7 for a week.

I was like “Weelllll, I don’t know guys. I’m not really fussed about a new phone”

They were like, “Trust us. You’ll change your mind with this one”

That was a promise I couldn’t refuse. So for a week, I was that mysterious person who carried two phones.

First (and most importantly to me) I needed to test the camera situation. I love my Instagram, and my VSCO, and taking pics on the go when I am sans big camera. Because, blogger and all that.

The difference was amazing. The S7’s picture quality is insane.

The photos were razor sharp. Reverting back to my iPhone, everything seemed dulled down in comparison. And they were! That’s because the S7 snaps at a 2560 x 1440 resolution with 535 pixels per inch compared to the iPhone 6’s 1334 x 750 resolution at 326 ppi.

Plus, it’s also waterproof! No fear of drowning your phone in the rain- which let’s face it, rain and the UK go hand in hand.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 2

Superior photo taking aside- how did I find using the Samsung Galaxy S7 handset?

Like any new gadget, it takes a bit of time to get used to how it works and feels in your hand. Downloading apps was simple and straightforward- nothing out of the ordinary there. I had Instagram up and running in no time, as well as my emails too.

It’s lighter and wider than my current phone, which meant I was really wary and afraid of dropping it- even though it is meant to be much more resilient than it’s Apple frenemy. And if you drop your phone on your face regularly, as I do, the weight of the handset does make a difference 😉

I realised, over the span of a week, that there really is nothing to be afraid of straying away from the iPhone. It’s equally user friendly, and I would make a serious consideration into making the swap permanent when my phone upgrade comes in next year. Reverting back to my old phone- the screen looked smaller, the photos were duller, and I became reacquainted with that darn sticky sleep mode button. I miss that shiny Samsung already.

 

*Thank you Three for loaning me the Samsung Galaxy S7 to test out!*

Cruising the Thames with Bateaux London

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ell guys, Red Letter Days sent me down the river. I spent a very pleasant Saturday afternoon pootling along the river Thames, eating a lovely three course lunch, catching sight of all the landmarks of London, aboard the Symphony with Bateaux London.

The boat departs from the Embankment Pier promptly at 1 o’clock and for once, I was punctual in getting to the pier just outside Embankment station. Following the sign for Bateaux London, I made it onto the floating Reception dock and had my ticket reservation processed quickly. Once that was done and dusted, I went outside to watch the Symphony arrive. I watched as ropes were thrown onto the dock to moor, and the staff assemble to welcome it’s hungry passengers.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Photo 2

Bateaux London Cruise Lunch 2

Now, as is standard on a British Bank Holiday, the weather totally let us down. It was overcast and drizzly and the water on the river looked pretty choppy. I was fully expecting the journey to be bumpy, but once on board, it was a gentle sway that I soon stopped noticing.

Each group is led to their tables and drink orders were taken, and I was relieved to see that despite the rubbish weather, the clear roof gave us a great view of the landmarks we were about to see.

As soon as the Symphony pulled away from the dock and down the river, our starters arrived.

Smoked Salmon terrine with pickled cucumber and buttered wholemeal bread…

Bateaux Cruise Lunch Starter

…Chicken Ballotine with Sweet Potato Mash and Rocket Pesto for mains…

Samsung Galaxy S7 Photo Bateaux London Cruise Lunch

…finishing off with Cherry Frangipane Tart! (yum)

Samsung Galaxy S7 Photo 5

It was a nice meal that wasn’t heavy or rich- it was just perfectly pleasant and not too much.

As our courses came and went, the Symphony sailed past historical landmarks from the London Eye, to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There’s an informative taped commentary that plays as you eat your meal, with a few facts of each landmark or building we passed, but it wasn’t intrusive- I could still hold a conversation without having to cup my ear or my grunt my usual “huh?” at Robin.

Our table was at the back of the boat, so we had a very surreal but amazing view as we sailed beneath Tower Bridge. I also braved my sea legs and popped out onto the deck to catch some photo opportunities.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Photo 3

Bateaux Cruise London Tower Bridge

Bateaux Cruise London 7

We went past the Southbank, City Hall, HMS Belfast, and past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where people waved to us from the side. We then went as far as Wapping, passing wharf after wharf, watching bobbing sailboats before turning around to head back towards Embankment.

I warmed up with a coffee when I returned to my table, humming Smokey Robinson’s Cruising in my head. I didn’t expect to have such a relaxing time on board the boat, but it’s a really good hour and half of seeing the sights and being fed. As a Londoner, you take the place you live for granted and it was refreshing to see the city from a different point of view. I loved every second and was a little sad when the cruise came to an end.

Bateaux London Cruise Lunch 3

Bateaux Cruise London Butlers Wharf

Bateaux Cruise London 5

This particular experience with Red Letter Days also includes tickets to the London Eye. The Hungerford bridge is right next to the pier, making it an easy stroll to get to…BUT, and it’s a big old ‘but’…by the time we arrived back on ‘dry’ land, the wind had picked up and droplets were starting to fall- the start of Storm Katie was whirring!

Luckily, the tickets are valid until the end of the month, so if like us, the weather intervenes, you can always come back to use those tickets. So really…one experience becomes two, which is a win win and still well worth the package price of £139 for two people.

All in all, it was a really nice Saturday. Booking via Red Letter Days was simple and easy and as well as a Bateaux London cruise down the Thames, I can now look forward to a trip on the London Eye!

 

Thank you Red Letter Days for sending me on this wonderful experience!

Seared Tuna with Papas Arrugadas

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I think of the Canary islands, I think back to one of my favourite family holidays in Tenerife. The glorious weather and endless swimming, the views from up the mountain and walks along the coast…and lots of food! Eating it, prepping, barbecuing it; especially the eating of it. One evening we had dinner high up in the hills, at a restaurant nicknamed Garlic Chicken. We tucked into a heaping plate of fried chicken and, at the time, what I thought was an odd but simple addition of plain potatoes. Every table had them! Bowls of potatoes and red and green sauce- or mojo. Wrinkly potatoes and mojo are dinner table staples all over the Canary islands and are called Papas Arrugadas.

This was one of the first dishes I thought of when I was asked if I’d like to cook up a Lanzarote dish for Thomas Cook Airlines, with the help of a fancy Lava Rock to cook it on. Lava rocks plus Tenerife nostalgia…of course, I said yes please. As a nod to my holiday, I couldn’t wait to create my own Papas Arrugadas and home made Mojo, served with deliciously thick tuna steaks to accompany it all.

Recipe

Before you start, preheat your oven to 220 degrees and place your Lava Rock inside to heat up for at least 40 minutes.

(if you don’t have a hot stone to cook with, by all means, just searing the tuna in a pan will be fine too…however using a Lava Rock feels very profesh!)

Add the sea salt to a pot of boiling water and allow the baby new potatoes to bubble away until soft and tender. Once cooked through, drain the water away and cover the pot with a lid. The steam trapped inside the pot will help shrivel the potato skins to give it that nice wrinkly look we’re after.

Leave the potatoes to warm and wrinkle, and move onto preparing the sauces.

Mojo Steps

This is the easiest step of them all, and probably the most satisfying!

You take all the ingredients and blitz them around in a blender.

…I don’t have a blender, but I did use our Ninja Bullet instead (it did the job just fine)

I only added three chillies to my red Mojo sauce, but if you want it spicier- throw in more!

I also love coriander, so threw in a few more sprigs of it into the green Mojo sauce.

Basically, its all to your taste- less garlic, more herbs, more spice, whatever makes your tastebuds happier. But don’t skip the bread, because the slice of bread thickens the mixture into that nice thick texture to drizzle over those little wrinkly potatoes.

With the sauces blitzed and ready to go, it’s time to get the Lava Rock out of the oven.

Don your finest pair of oven gloves and carefully take the hot stone out of the oven and place it onto the hob.

Season the tuna steak with olive oil, salt and pepper and then…

Lava rock excerpt

Let it sizzle away for about 3 minutes per side. I usually like my tuna rare in the middle, but as these had been frozen, I decided to cook it through just in case.

The Lava Rock is seriously very hot and very heavy! So much so, I didn’t want to risk carrying it onto the lovely serving tray it came with. Instead, I plated up the tuna straight onto the metal plate. Rules, schmules.

Seared Tuna and Mojo Sauce recipe 2

Gran Canaria Wrinkly Potatoes recipe

Seared Tuna steak

We ate these straight off the serving tray, spearing off flakes of tuna and dipping whole potatoes into the Mojo.

The Mojo was fresh and tangy, with the red one delivering a fiery kick and with the contrasting herby green one cooling it down.

Red and Green Mojo Sauce recipe

It is a really simple meal to put together and I have enough leftover sauce to last at least two more meals! It’s the kind of meal that encourages everyone to get stuck in and share, and to mop up with crusty bread afterwards. Try it- you’ll love it.

This recipe will be up on the Thomas Cook Airlines blog very soon- where you can vote for your favourite recipe where the winning entry will be sent on a trip to Lanzarote! I’ll add the details when it goes live. Watch out on my Twitter feed!

Thank you Thomas Cook Airlines for gifting me the Lava Rock and helping me to recreate this at home!

Ismay’s last night in London

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]kay, this is a slightly longwinded opening but here goes! Travelex entrusted me with a challenge- what would I do with $150 (Aussie) dollars in London for a day? Weh-heh-ell! The first thing that sprung to mind was eat. Eat all of the things and walk all of the cobbled paths in this fair city. But then, real life jumps up and utters a Professor Umbridge style *hem-hem*

My best friend Ismay left London this week. It was in the pipeline for a little while, but her departure date was confirmed all of a sudden once someone was able to take over her old flat. A weekend plan of rambling around London all day suddenly had to be pushed aside and a midweek evening was all we had left to hang out and make the most of it. Two outstanding items on the London bucket list- visit The Shard and Sky Garden.

Tartan Blanket Scarf

 

We’ve been BFF’s since we were gangly expat kids riding our bikes up and down the street after school, in Brunei. We went through all the typical rites of passage as teenagers; the sleepovers, dodgy fashion, school exams…and then we earned our adult stripes together here in London. In short- she’s never been that far away from me.

However, life as a third culture kid prepares you for one thing; the never ending cycle of saying goodbye to your friends, when their parents were transferred to another far away land.  Its never really goodbye, but more of a see you later.

So, I asked her “What do you want to do on your last night?”

And that was how we found ourselves up in the sky…literally. Our first stop of the evening would be for a drink at Gong, the Shangri La Hotel bar on the 52nd floor of The Shard building.

feather

Miss Selfridge Fur Coat

With my $150 budget (which is about £76) we decided earlier to forgo the View at The Shard tickets and to instead enjoy the same dramatic view from the comfort of a cosy window seat and a cocktail. The bar is so high up your ears pop in the elevator on the way up.

When you walk into the first lobby (yes, first!) of The Shangri La Hotel, you’re escorted to the elevator where you ride up to the 35th floor of the main hotel. From there, you take the next elevator up, up, up into the Gong Bar. We didn’t have a reservation but arrived early enough that we were seated within 10 minutes by a very glamorous hostess.

I ordered a Romeo and Juliet- Dodd’s gin, raspberry puree, Earl Grey tea, and a splash of citrus-Ismay the Bermondsey Bubbles- Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry gin, rose liquor, creole bitters, topped with champagne. Our bar snacks were kept topped up (very, very important! other bars take note!)

London Night time View 2

Shangri La Lobby London
Gong Bar Shangri La Hotel London
Cocktails at Gong Bar Shangri La London
View from Gong Bar Shangri La Hotel London

When it came to paying the bill, I used my Travelex Cash Passport. You use it just like a normal debit card, and pay with a pin number. Travelex sends you the card, you register it online, and top it up with money as and when you need to. Very handy for travellers and much easier for you to control your expenses!

With our evening tipple downed, we headed onwards into The City, towards the Walkie Talkie building. With a last minute reservation at Fenchurch Grill, we crossed the river and made our way to the second lovely view of the night- The Sky Garden.

We had a delicious meal- the Fenchurch Grill does fish really well. I had crab beignets with my cod. CRAB. BEIGNETS. We were so stuffed, we skipped dessert and chose to wander around the vast atrium instead.

Cod and Crab Beignet Fenchurch Grill Skygarden

Fenchurch Street Dining London

Amuse Bouche Fenchurch Grill London

Skygarden Bar London

View from The Skygarden

I dont know. If this was any other ordinary night of the week, there’d be more laughter, but it was tinged with a little sadness. I knooooow Dublin isn’t far, but there’s just something really weird knowing that, whoa. This is it, the end of an era.

This is what a bobot looks like

As home time approached, we gave each other a  quick hug goodbye, and a typical “See you later!” I made my way to the tube station. Her black cab headed South. I had that sad feeling in my belly, the same one that appeared every time I had to say goodbye to a loved one growing up abroad.

I got home, into my PJ’s, and like most nights, scrolled through Twitter before bedtime. And then, I nearly spat my water out reading that Amber Rose tweet to Kanye West. I started typing furiously into Whatsapp to Ismay and it twigged. You are never too far away to enjoy a well placed eggplant and pointy finger emoji message to your best friend….

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Thank you Travelex for contributing towards our last London adventure!